Sunday, May 23, 2010

Camouflage, Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

Camouflage is the art of disguising something so you can’t see it, or you look in the direction it is located in and it doesn’t appear to be there. The military, especially the Army has this art down to a science. When I was a 2nd Lt. platoon leader while on active duty I was told by my commanding officer to take my platoon, including 37 men, two tanks, two recon vehicles, and one armored personnel carrier and camouflage it so he couldn’t see it. So, me being 24 years of age and eager to please my commander I told my non-commissioned officers what the CO has ask me to do. These guys were combat veterans with many years experience hiding their position from the enemy. After we got the platoon into the combat camouflaged position the CO headed our way and then came on the radio with something like this: “Romeo 16 this is Romeo 6, what is your position?” I replied, “Romeo 6 this is Romeo 16, look straight ahead and you will find our location.” A few minutes passed(in my camouflaged position I could see the CO with his binoculars out trying to find us, so I knew we had done our job very well) and he still couldn’t see us. Our position was in real green foliage and until the leaves turned brown from winter we were likely to stay hidden until the seasons did change. He then got real pissed and said, “Romero 16 this is Romero 6, where in the hell are you?” My reply, “Romeo 6 this is Romeo 16, you are looking straight at us but for us to make any movement we will reveal ourselves to our enemy and we can’t do that.” Now he was double pissed and I wondered what the hell I was thinking. This guy was a seasoned Captain and a ring knocker from West Point, while I was a lowly 2nd Lt. from some ROTC program in Texas and what did I know? What I did start to consider was he would get so mad that he might relieve me of my command and send me to the brig for insubordination. While I was just having a little fun with him he was shining his Captain bars to the point of them not having a shine left and I could see my butter bar Lt. bars turning to real butter as they melted off of my collar and I was now a much lower private. Maybe this was a little extreme, but this guy was a career guy and I was just in for the mandatory 2 year active duty hitch(little did I know that I would continue in the active reserves for another 22 years and then retire as a Lt. Colonel, actually out ranking this guy). But wait a minute I have started to ramble, I must get back to the story. Now I have to figure out how to get out of this quagmire brought on by doing my job better than he thought I could and making him feel I was his top platoon leader. So, I decided to have my tank gunner move the main gun of the tank just a little bit and see if they could pick up on this. Turns out the Captain did see it and now he was a happy camper knowing exactly where I was, but also knowing that the thoroughness of my camouflage job and had come out with very high. While I didn’t get promoted right there on the spot he was shaking my hand later that night around the officers’ club bar!! He even bought me a beer!! What a guy!! Now as I look around me some 40 plus years later I see camouflage stuff everywhere. The other day I went into Ganders to buy some hand held radios, lo and behold they are camouflaged and as I looked around the store I had trouble finding the sales clerks because they had on camouflaged jackets and pants. They just blended in to the point that I thought they might be manikins. Finally I found someone moving around the store and realized I had a real live person. My memory went back to the day my Captain couldn’t find me and now here I am in a retail store and I can’t find the sales person because of their camouflaged outfit. The simple conclusion here is that, sometimes things are just not what they appear to be!! Duh!!

Book Review, Past and Current: “Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People” ****, written by Elizabeth Brown and possibly reviewed by me before. Regardless, I have found it an interesting book and one that can be reviewed, especially after having to deal with “screwed up people” in my daily life. Guess this happens to all of us and Ms. Brown has some interesting observations.

“Unplayable” ****, written by Robert Lusetich. This is the story of the 2009 golf season as experienced by Tiger Woods. It is not a tell all or one that dwells on his off the golf course problems, even though it is mentioned infrequently. Lusetich has been writing about Tiger since he came on the tour as a professional and is very fair with him. He has no axe to grind and is very fair in his assessment and is very thorough about his comeback season of 2009, also billed as an inside account of Tiger’s most tumultuous season. Whether you like golf, or Tiger you will find this a good read about the subject. It will not move mountains, and tall buildings, or even change the world, but it is interesting.

Movie Review: “Ironman 2”, ****, this is a very good movie starting where it left off with Ironman 1 in 2008. Robert Downey Jr. remains fun to watch both as cocky billionaire Tony Stark and Iron Man. The big difference now is that he announced to the world that he is Ironman and now he is expected to save the world by signing over the rights of Ironman to the government defense program. Can you imagine how screwed up it would be with the government in charge of it. In addition there is a true villain in tattooed Russian physicist Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke. Samuel L. Jackson is back with a small but effective role, and Gwyneth Paltrow is back to be promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

“Robin Hood”, ****, this is also a very good movie, very entertaining and gives us the prequel to Robin Hoods’ life before he became the folk hero of Sherwood Forest and Nottingham. The acting is beyond reproach with Russell Crowe, Kate Blanchett, and William Hurt. The photography of the battle scenes was excellent, very realistic. Rated: PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

No time, Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

Well it is about time I got back to this blogging thing and it is not like I haven’t had anything to say, it is just that the time has gotten away from me and I have that age old excuse, just too busy. My too busy excuse is a good one but along the way I have missed out on sharing some big items in life. For example, I went to Home Depot the other day to shop for a new lawn mower and when I went into the yard care department I ask the guy if he could help me (fair question I thought!). He looked at me kind of strange and then said, “just a minute I am helping a customer.” Well bub, what do you think I am fried minced meat? I went ahead and waited for help and then lo and behold I bought the mower in spite of just being another platter of fried minced meat. Retail sales people just don’t get it sometimes. Without the steady flow of customers into their stores they would not be in business, so how about appreciating us a little bit. Then I had the excuse of helping host the USA Triathlon National Collegiate Championship, held for the second year in a row in Lubbock. This event is really kind of weird since it brings college triathletes from over 100 universities/colleges throughout the USA to compete for the title of National Champions. Not quite like the collegiate major sports playoffs or bowl games, but still a very competitive group of college athletes. The event went off well except for some very bad weather with rain for 5 days, high winds and cold temperatures. In spite of that the event went off as planned and we had a new National Champion team from the University of Colorado, while the defending champions from the Naval Academy came in third. Lubbock did a great job of hosting the event and could not be held responsible for the weather, God did that!! The other thing that is taking my time is the marketing work I am doing for Athletes Honey Milk, ever try getting the suppliers to milk 200,000 dairy cows and then chase down some honey bees for the sweetness that goes in Athletes Honey Milk? Not an easy task I can tell you. I was asked how we milk honey bees (cows are easy) and my reply is simple, very carefully. My promise now is to get a post at least once a week; I have too much to say to not be typing.

Book Reviews: “Vampire Hunter”, ****, the story (true from his journals) about Abraham Lincoln (yes the 16th president of the United States) and his vampire hunter days. Whether you believe it or not a very well done book by Seth Grahame-Smith. If for no other reason read it out of curiosity, I did.

“The Stuff of Thought”, **, written by Steven Pinker to give us a little idea of why the thoughts of our mind work the way they do. Very intellectual and confusing, hard to follow, hard to concentrate. Probably a pass on this book is my recommendation.

“Murder City”, ****, A true story of the “killing fields” of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. This was recommended to me by my good friend, Mark Balsiger, since he lived very close to this danger every day in his past work. A very sad true story of the many murders that transpire in this border city next to El Paso, Texas, almost every day of the week. More have been murdered in the last year than the total deaths of the Iraqi war. If the USA doesn’t have enough to do with the wars in the Iraq and Afghan maybe we need to invade Mexico and clean this place up, after all it is on our borders.

Movie Reviews: “Date Night”, ***, Tina Frey and Steve Carell play a typical suburban couple whose lives have become routine. To reignite their marital spark, they visit a trendy Manhattan bistro. But when they claim a missing couple’s reservation, a case of mistaken identity turns their evening into a horror and humorous story. A good one to go see and relax a little bit. Rated PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference. (Not really as bad as it sounds in this description).

“Kick-Ass”, ***, A well done cute movie about new action heroes. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Hit Girl the 11 year old crime fighter Mindy, with affection for butterfly blades and aiming kill shots into the head. While Kick Ass is really the star of the movie Hit Girl actually takes the spot light. The story line is guided by Hit Girls father, played by Nicolas Cage, and it involves sweet revenge on the mafia types who have betrayed him in the past. Rest assured the action heroes get their man, after much battle and bloodshed. Entertaining movie and the sequel will be great. Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and drug use, some involving children. WOW—I didn’t realize it was all that bad, but guess it was.