Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm most thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! May we never take for granted the many, many blessings that come from a loving Father.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Day is every day for some...

First, I want to wish a belated thank you to all those who serve or have served in our armed forces. My timing is a bit off for a reason...

On both Thursday and Friday, I opened up Windows Live Writer to drum out a post in gratitude to veterans and reflection of on my own service. Thursday was the birthday of my beloved Corps and Friday a celebration for all branches of our great Nation's military.

I failed miserably to pulled together all but a short blurb that started a post on the Penn State debacle. Emotions seemed to flood then overwhelm my thought process as my fingers looked for the right keys to type the right words.

Don't get me wrong. There's plenty to say. My heart is filled with appreciation and genuine gratitude not for just our veterans but for their families as well. Military service is both a richly rewarding experience and a unbelievable hardship all at the same time...especially when it comes to the families. Please don't ever forget the wives and children when honoring those who serve.

I took my uniform off in 1991 after 4 reserve years at Vanderbilt University and 5 years of active service in the Fleet Marine Force. Real Marines. I cherish that time in my life and can directly attribute much of what I am today directly to that period. Military training saturates your person down to the very core. While it doesn't ultimately change who you are (only God can do that), there is certainly a separating of the wheat from the chaff  if I can borrow from the Gospel of Matthew.

The encumbering emotions I felt last week are hard to explain...unless you're also a vet. I don't mean to come across pompous or even pretentious by saying that. There are levels of coalescence even within the military ranks. Combat troops that have spent months together facing life-or-death situations day after day relate on a level that's just...well...incomprehensible to me. I'd be a stranger lost in their conversations. There's no disrespect meant, and I understand that completely. Facts are just what they are...

Only 7 percent of the U.S. population falls under the umbrella of veterans. All things considered, that's a relatively small number given the conflicts we've faced since World War II. Unfortunately, I know several people who separated under other than honorable conditions. I refuse to acknowledge their time in uniform. Please forgive me. That's at least one issue the federal government and I see eye-to-eye about.

The number of active duty and reserve military is only 1 percent of the 300 million people living in the United States. Just 1 percent defend our very freedoms! There are less than 150,000 US Marines on active duty (the few, the proud) and actually more New York City police officers than Marine Corps officers.

I miss the people I served with a great deal. That's the very first motley crew I had the privilege of leading at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Hawaii in the picture. It's hard to explain how you feel love for practically a stranger by all definitions of the word. To this day...I love each of them as a brother. A few I still have contact with today thanks in large part to the social media boom. Some have moved on from this life. God speed my friends. One thing becomes very evident the minute a connection is made after so many years though. The time gap becomes completely irrelevant...

Guess I'm still a little emotional about the whole thing. May we never forget.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I know exactly how Chesty Puller would have handled this...

Happy Birthday Marines! God bless all those serving and those who have served in the beloved United States Marine Corps!

I'm just highly aggravated that on the day we celebrate our Corps' 236th birthday, the story overshadowing the celebration is coming from University Park Pennsylvania.

The story itself makes me sick enough.

As students riot to protest the firing of their beloved Joe Pa, someone at Penn State needs to do a little educating and tell the rioters they need to grow up because they are clearly on the wrong side of this one.

For those of you oblivious to the circus surrounding the storied university, a former football coach has been arrested on allegations of sexual molestation of minors. To make a repulsive story even worse, the allegation go back over 9 years and involve multiple cover ups and head turnings from not only the head coach Joe Paterno, but also numerous university administrative staff to include the university president AND local police.

Paterno's part in this is the classic ostrich defense...head straight in the sand. That's a problem Joe. When you were made aware from an eye witness who watched one of your coaches, a then 60 year old man, showering and touching a 10 year old boy...the proverbial ball was in your court to do the right thing.

I've got a problem with the witness for not dragging the sick jerk kicking and screaming out of the shower for the beating of his life in defense of that kid too. There's a larger moral obligation at work here that completely overrides any legal and ethical considerations...which are also numerous.

We live in a warped culture that protects pedophiles to prevent reputable damage to our beloved institution which in this case is a college football program and it's legendary coach. Penn State has fired Paterno, the president and a number of other school officials, but the university, along with local law enforcement, are still culpable for the situation playing out for 9 years. Disgusting.

To further prove my point of contention, people still idolize the late Michael Jackson and buy his stuff.  Don't give me any of that he was never proven crap either. Ridiculous.

In my opinion, taking the innocent life of someone is the only crime more heinous than molesting a child. It's a perversion with devastating effects on the victims who are often is too ashamed to come forward to confront perpetrators. As a society, we are often guilty of the same naivety as Paterno and don't want to be bothered with the messy aftermath of the crime.

How arrogantly egotistical we've become... 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Tomato sure doesn't fall far from the tree...


I can hardly believe my middle child is four years old today...(sigh)

Affectionately dubbed The Crazy Tomato for her strawberry blond hair and infectiously spontaneous personality, my own little personal Jan Brady is by no means in danger of being lost midst her two sisters. While she sports at the very least an initial minimal shyness, she quickly makes up for that once you've been properly sized up and categorized in her mind as either fun, potentially fun or blah.

Don't be offended by that fact because I've spent my fair share of time in each classification.

Just this past weekend I was trying to explain something to her about...well...I don't actual remember, but I'm sure it was one of the trillion life-lessons I'm required to dole out under the expectations that accompany the title DAD. After the brief explanation while we were riding in the car, I get this:

Tony C: (looking back through the rear view mirror) Are you listening to me?

Crazy Tomato: (looking out the car side window): Okay. I just don't find that interesting. You think it's interesting, but I just don't think that's interesting. can talk about something interesting now. Can I listen to my CD?

Tony C: (under breath): Geez. As if I don't get that enough from your mother and the teenager...

Conversation classified= Blah. Moving on to music =fun.

Or this recent exchange:

Crazy Tomato: (walking into living room and rolling eyes) Why do you watch the NewsHour every stinkin' day dad?

Tony C: (Trying to be clever) Why do you watch Phineas and Ferb every day?

Crazy T: I mean duh...because it's funny and fun.

Tony C: Well maybe I think the NewsHour is funny and fun (as I notice scene of rioting in Syria on screen).

Crazy T: What's fun about people running around screaming and throwing fire things and getting beat up? Should I be watching this? Mom don't let me watch stuff like this.

Tony C: (Cleverness obviously failing) You're shouldn't. Go to your room and play.

Crazy T: (running back through hallway) Mom! Dad's letting me watch bad stuff on the NewsHour!

We've still got to have that talk about snitching which I'm sure she's going to love.

In a growing trend that seems to upset...maybe more irritate... her mother (providing all the motivation I need to continue), my fun-time interactions with the Crazy Tomato have broken down below even a sophomoric-level of crude humor which includes jokes about painting boogers blue, a plethora of poop-related phrases, and even a rather catchy little ditty about shining a flashlight on some body's crack (bottom). Yep...I just love that kid!

Of course, such things have a tendency to backfire and usually at the most inopportune moments like the grocery store, when we have company, or (gasp) in church. I'm just thankful that initial shyness  pretty much prevents her from wanting to sing in front of people.

It seems like only yesterday when her then-four-year-old sister, unencumbered by said public-related restriction, was invited to take center stage while at church with my mom one Sunday. Unbeknowst to her, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap  doesn't hold the same classic status with Methodist as it does mainstream rock least while in the church. I still hear about that one 12 years later.

Maybe the crack song isn't such a good idea after all...

Happy Birthday Crazy Tomato. I love you more than macaroni and cheese with sprinkles!