Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I knew veterans, growing up.  My mother’s father had served in the Army Air Corps in World War II.  My mother’s stepfather had been a sailor in the same conflict.  My father’s father had been a Soldier in World War II, and my father’s older brother had fought in Korea as a paratrooper.  I admired the service of these men, and eagerly listened anytime they felt like talking about their experiences.  My maternal grandfather had been a navigator on bombers, and his stories mostly involved pleasant experiences in the air and while training in Florida.  My paternal grandfather was a man of his hands, and he would talk about the guns he used, and what they could do, while my mother’s stepfather never talked about his service.  My mother explained that he had served on destroyers, and was haunted by the screams of men who had drowned when their sealed compartment had flooded.  Service clearly left survivors with stories, but some of them no-one would want.

I was very interested in the service, but was talked out of joining when I was nearing high school graduation.  I went into the civilian workforce.  When I was about 28, I again considered enlisting, but decided military service would not help me further my goals.

I had been working for a telecom company for several years by September of 2001.  On the morning of September 9, one of my coworker friends called me as I was about to leave for work.  He said a light airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  I headed into work.
At the call center, we had overhead monitors hung where they were visible by everyone.  Most of the time, the monitors displayed call center stats or regional information, but today they played the news.  We saw the second airplane go in moments after it happened, and then saw it from different angles as more footage came in.  We hoped and prayed for the lives of thousands trapped in the enormous buildings as they burned, and then crumbled.  As the events of the day continued to unfold, I fielded many calls that my care reps were struggling to handle.  I found myself explaining again and again to callers desperate to reach friends and family in New York the problems we were facing: a phone system flooded with calls, antennas lost on the World Trade Center, and available signal in use by thousands of emergency responders. 

When the day was over, I waited to see what my country’s leadership would do.  I admired President Bush’s strong stance, while being alarmed at his “with us or against us” national rhetoric.  I waited to see if we would take substantive action, or just fire some cruise missiles as token retribution for our thousands of innocent dead.  I supported a strong national response, believing that forceful action was necessary to deter future attacks on my civilian countrymen.

When it became clear that the US would respond with major force, I went to talk to a recruiter.  The recruiters looked at my test scores, and suggested high-tech specialties, but I knew what I wanted.  A new young soldier at the recruiting station tried to persuade me to choose Psychological Operations, telling me the day of the foot soldier had passed.  I knew better.

Superior vehicles make a difference.  Air superiority can crush infrastructure.  But winning a war, now and in the foreseeable future, requires Soldiers on the ground.  I arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia for Basic Training the month before my 30th birthday.

Service is a gift, and a burden.  Service members may be called upon to give their everything, and are expected to do it without question.  In return, we get a family that will die for us, if need be.  We forge bonds that will last a lifetime.  We see places, and do great things, and boring things, and horrible things, and at the end of the day, we have our conscience and our duty.

War is mud and blood, months of boredom and work, and seconds and minutes of adrenaline, muscles screaming as they are pushed to the limit to enable an overwhelming response to silence the enemy, and protect our brothers and sisters in uniform. 

I know a lot of things I didn’t know when I enlisted.  I learned that pain alone is not reason to quit, that I have mental and physical reserves that can carry me if I build them up, and that I have to stay strong enough to carry my fellow Soldiers.  I learned that training is better than raw courage, that you always need more water than you thought, and that a good plan executed at the right time beats a great plan that starts too late.  I learned that two soldiers are four times as effective as one, SPORTS, General Order Number One.

I learned that I was weaker than I had thought, and much stronger.  I learned that I would never be truly alone, that if I ever became separated from my team, millions of my countrymen would keep looking for me until I was found.  I learned that officers eat last.  I learned that some of the toughest soldiers need an encouraging word now and then.  I will never stop learning, because there is always more to learn, but I know the most important things.

My name is John, and I am a Soldier of the United States of America.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You...

The ARK.

So much thanks to Sam Owens, and Sal Glesser and the other good folks from Spyderco.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Muses of May

Yes, it has been forever.  I know.

Life happens.  I could say some of it's good, some bad, but that's not really true, is it?  It's truer to say that life goes on, and we call some parts of it good, and others, bad, but it's all just life. 

In any case, I know I haven't been writing much online.  Which doesn't actually mean that I haven't been writing.  I am 25,000 words into writing a novel that I began two years ago.  At my current pace, I'll be through within three months.

I'll call that good.

In other news, I am excited to say that pictures of the ARK prototype can now be publically shown.  There are several good pictures in this post.  The ARK is already listed at GP Knives, which is an online retailer known for letting customers pre-order Spydercos..

Peace, y'all.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Winter is in full force here in Maryland.  M kept looking out the window Sunday morning, hoping for snow.  Which fell, dropping nearly three inches on us by one o'clock in the afternoon.  I looked crossly at the icky cold stuff, and sternly admonished her: You have brought this white pestilence upon us.

My current earworm has a silly video, but I find the song itself very...well, it won't go away.


The band is One Republic.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

For All These Things...

I made it back from Captain's Career Course a little over two weeks ago, and have been busy at my civilian job since.  I don't love my current job, but it pays the bills.  Without hopefully sounding too much like a motivational speaker, one of the things that can really transform a life is an attitude of thankfulness.

We in the US have it so good compared to most of the rest of the world.  Even with the economic setbacks we have had in recent years, and despite some idiotic political policies that will be coming home to roost (pay people to have more children?  Sure!  Why not?), we still have a lot for which to be thankful.

I am thankful for all the good things in my life, for warmth and companionship and love.  Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Running Silently

I know I've been very quiet for a while. I started a new job, and have sometimes been working a lot of hours. I'm also leaving tomorrow for a month at Fort Bragg. I'll see you when I see you~ please take care of yourselves in the meantime.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Life: the Long Run

Sorry I've been so...gone lately, but we have moved a bit further from DC.

I was running two nights ago, and thought that maybe life is like a run. At the beginning, you think, "This sucks!"  Halfway through, you think, "I didn't realize x miles was so far!"   And at the end, you think, "Well, that wasn't too bad."