Making Time to Write

While I’m not certain where this comes from, I thought I’d share it anyway.

For me, making time to write has always be something of a struggle. It takes determination to make a writing schedule and stick to it.

My time is limited. While my writing time isn’t the most important thing in my life, it gives way only for the most important things in my life.

And while it’s not very exciting to stick to a schedule, but it does help. If you work full-time, it may actually be easier to establish a regular time each day in which to write.

I prefer to write between the hours of midnight and 3 in the morning.

Maybe you like to get up early — then establish your writing time then. Take time to write before you leave the house, take a notepad with you to lunch, or stop off at a coffee shop on your way home.

Stay-at-home moms and dads often rely on nap time. The schedule may evolve as your life changes, but most people get more done if they have a regular writing time.

Make that time golden, as you would any important appointment. You’ll feel better if you know you’re making time to write.

If you’re the kind of person who tends to throw yourself into a new project only to burn out after a week or two, consider giving yourself stop times for writing. Don’t let yourself become obsessed in the beginning.

I’ve fallen victim to this a number of times.

For me, I write for fifteen minutes to a couple of hours a day, then continue with my daily routine. I also try to schedule time for fun, even if it’s taking a walk or reading a book.

Remember that you’re in it for the long haul, and that your mind needs time to replenish itself.

Decide what you’re willing to sacrifice for a few minutes everyday to dedicate to writing time. Most of us have obligations we can’t avoid, but if you’re determined, you can manage both.

At the same time, be content with whatever you can realistically give to your writing. Even a few minutes a day adds up over time.

What you’re trying to do isn’t easy. So support yourself in as many ways as possible.

Books on writing can help, as does having space dedicated to writing.  Also live with a thesaurus and dictionary link on my computer.

The most important thing I can offer though, is this — jus’ pick up a pen, pencil or sit down at the computer and write!

Silver Tailings: Germany and the Comstock

Baron Ferdinand Richthofen (uncle of World War I German fighter ace, the ‘Red Baron’) visited  in 1866 to examine the Comstock Lode for himself. He wrote a report of his trip that claimed the lode was a ‘true fissure vein.’

This meant the silver went down into the earth for thousands of feet. The quantity of it was unknowable, but surely the mines were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The baron was one of Germany’s leading authorities on silver mining, so his report was well received.

In 1869, when the Comstock was in borrasca and miners were leaving for other places to find work, mine owners and superintendents used the baron’s report to remind themselves of why they were still spending money in the search for silver. They were rewarded with the ‘Big Bonanza.’

In 1872, Adolph Sutro preached the ‘true fissure vein’ gospel to the McCalmont Brothers in London, England. His reward was financing for the ‘Sutro Tunnel.’

Silver Tailings: Attention Ghost Hunters!

In my experience, there are many places some folks would consider as haunted. One of those places is the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

According to legend, Wyatt Earp kept the saloon, Jack Dempsey was a bouncer, and Howard Hughes married Jean Peters at the Mizpah. But Wyatt Earp left Tonopah before the Mizpah was built, Hughes was married in Tonopah — but not at the Mizpah, and Dempsey was never a bouncer.

The five-story Mizpah was the tallest building in the state until 1929 and is named after the Mizpah Mine. The hotel was financed by George Wingfield, George Nixon, Cal Brougher and Bob Govan and designed by George E. Holesworth — or maybe architect Morrill J. Curtis.

The hotel is faced with stone on the front and brick on the sides and rear. Steam heat was provided, which was first, along with the first elevator in Tonopah.

The neighboring three-story building with rooms on the upper floors, now known as the Brougher-Govan Block, served as the first Mizpah and remains connected to the new portion. The  buildings are joined by a wood stairway crowned with a skylight.

It’s also part of my experience that when an old building is refurbished, nails pounding and saws bracing wood, even stranger events take shape. And now would be a great time for those who like to chase the unknown, to visit the old hotel.

The Mizpah, after being shuttered since 1999, was purchased earlier this year, and the new owners are transforming the place. They’re renovating the old building with new carpet, plumbing and electrical fixtures.

If you ask nice, and promise not to open any portals to the underworld, I’m sure they’d would love to have you investigate. I say this tongue-in-cheek of course.

If not rent a room and enjoy your stay. I’m sure it’ll be well worth the price of admission.

And while you’re there, say hi to my friend Valeri Ferrari McEwen. She’s a member of the 2000 Nevada Broadcast Hall of Fame, but now manages the bar and restaurant.

She saved my life one early morning – but that’s a story for another time.

Caughlin Fire Victim Named

For the last couple of weeks, the media has simply identified him as the “74-year-old man who had a heart attack while evacuating from the Caughlin Fire.” Well, we now know his name and the events leading up to his death.

Born in 1937, Gordon Cupples, grew up in Red Bluff and joined the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviator after attending Oregon State. After his time in the service he became a commercial pilot, flying for United.

Cupples was also a member of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Air Squadron search and rescue team. It’s this background that lead Cupples to start helping his elderly neighbor get out of the path of the oncoming blaze.

It was a combination of the smoke-filled air and continually rushing up stairs to his neighbor’s home that caused him to suffer a massive heart attack. Obviously, he put others before himself and it cost him his life.

As it states in the Bible: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)

He’s survived by his wife, Roxana; and children, Jim Cupples of Carmel, Calif., Bill Cupples of Anchorage, Alaska, and Lyn Hudgens of Grass Valley; stepson’s, Marcus Carlson and Kris Carlson of Reno; and sister, Susy Martin.

A service for Gordon Cupples is planned for noon Wednesday following an 11 a.m. viewing at the Mountain View Mortuary. And while I didn’t know him personally — I think I’ll be in attendance to honor my now fallen fellow Marine.

A Recollective Kiss

It’s a memory I’ve kept to myself for years, fearful that the person it involves might not recall things as I do. But I’ve decided to share it anyway – since I ain’t getting any younger.

We were playing along the fence line, jus’ beyond the swings and the twirler bar before school started at Margaret Keating School. I can only remember one other person aside from myself, and that was Kathy Markel.

What game we might have been playing is also lost to my recollection. But what I do recall is she tackled me and then sat on top of me, refusing to let me up.

I was very distressed that a girl had me pinned like she did.

Before I knew it, she had my arms trapped to the ground over my head and we were face-to-face. That’s when she quickly kissed me on the lips – jumped off me and took off running.

The moment she was off me, I got up and started chasing her – intending to return the favor. However the recess bell rang about that time and we had to start lining up to go inside to our first grade classroom.

Kathy moved shortly after that. And I wouldn’t see her again until we were freshmen in at Del Norte High.

By this time though, we were running in different circles and hardly had contact with one another. I always wanted to ask if she remembered wrestling me to the ground and kissing me – but I never had the courage.

Silver Tailings: Crystal Peak

In 1864, the Crystal Peak Company founded a town in Washoe County near the mountain of that name, a couple of miles north of where the Truckee River exits Truckee Canyon. Part of the town was in Nevada, but part of it was in California.

Fortunately, Sierra County, California did not squabble over taxation and local authority, which is what Plumas County, California did to cause the Roop County War of 1863.

Crystal Peak was a mining and lumber town and reached a population of 1500 residents. However, it was not long-lived. The Crystal Peak Company found gold, but not any veins of profitable concentration. It also found coal, but none of commercial utility.

When the Central Pacific Railroad built-in 1867 the nearby labor camp that became Verdi, it offered competitive wages for lumbermen and perhaps more attractive living conditions. By 1872, when ice and lumber merchant Oliver Lonkey built the first mansion in Verdi, the town of Crystal Peak was dying.

Weighting

For the last six months Kay has been working the Weight Watchers program. She’s have success with it too.

This new eating life-style has led to some odd recipes; some having tasted rather delicious – while others, not so much. Either way, I try to encourage her to stick to the plan and try different things as the program suggests.

When she first started, she was in to what I coined as “juicing,” using the Jack Lalanne’s Power Juicer to concoct some very strange beverages. One day she “juiced” a ripe avocado to see how it would taste.

Let me tell you – it tasted Gawd awful.

However the pulp the juicer left behind made a wonderful avocado sandwich with a little mayo and salt and pepper. So it wasn’t all for naught.

At present, Kay is into pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cakes and pumpkin lasagna – which none has been bad to the taste buds.

But one has to admit, it has been an adventure to see what the hell she’s going to come up with next. I don’t mind – jus’ as long as I get fed some how – which does include making way for me to use the stove from time to time.

Then we were watching the movies, “Julie and Julia,” when I was struck with a neat idea. I looked at Kay and asked, “Why don’t you write a blog about your experience with Weight Watchers?”

She looked at me with a frown.

I added, “You can call it “Weighting – w-e-i-g…”

Kay interrupted me by saying, “Are you kidding me?”

“No,” I shook my head.

She jus’ rolled her eyes at me. That’s the last I spoke of it.

I thought it was pretty good idea – and I jus’ love the title.

Silver Tailings: Tuscarora

In 1871, the newest EI Dorado in silver was Tuscarora in Independence Valley. The town was 25 miles away from one neighbor, Cornucopia, and 45 miles away from another, Columbia.

At its liveliest, perhaps there were 4,000 inhabitants.

A rush of men journeyed to the area when the silver was discovered. As usual, more went than the prospecting and mining could support.

A decline in population was not long in coming. However, ten years later, the town still had 2 churches, a newspaper, and 150 students taught by 3 teachers in a building converted into a school. (In departure from usual Nevada practice, one had never been built.)

There were more general stores, twelve, than saloons, eleven. Tuscarora was a lasting, prosperous town. It was not an ‘overnighter’ such as Treasure Hill.

Goodbye, JK

His death rocked the news and broadcast community throughout Northern Nevada. JK Metzker died November 13th after being struck by a vehicle while crossing North Virginia late Saturday.

He was only 41-years old and a father of three young boys.

The news practically shattered the staff of KTVN, where he was Sports Director. The TV station cancelled that evenings newscast — finding as Weatherman Mike Alger said — “it’s jus’ too hard for any of us here at Channel 2 News to focus on the work that it takes to produce a newscast.”

My co-worker Landon Miller, who interned at KTVN for several months, was visibly shaken the evening of JK’s death. He invited me and my friend Kay to accompany him to JK’s funeral, not wanting to go all by himself.

I’ve found funerals and memorial services affect people this at sometimes.

Services were held in the beautiful Our Lady of Snows church in Reno, where it was literally standing room only.  It’s the same Catholic church where JK and his wife, Jaimie exchanged vows in 1989.

The friends and family members who stood and spoke on behalf of JK, told of a man who had a strong sense of family and self, a solid work ethic and a wickedly quick sense of humor. Some of the tales relieved those gathered of their tears — at least momentarily — as they enjoyed a laugh.   

His passing serves to remind me to appreciate the people in my life — and to tell them how much I DO appreciate them..

Silver Tailings: The Pony Express

In April 1860, the Pony Express Company was started. It’s only link to the US Post Office was that the letters it carried had to have stamps on them.

This enabled them to be dropped in the mail when a city with a post office had been reached. The delivery cost of a letter between San Francisco and the Atlantic States was $5.

A relay system for changing horses every 25 miles and riders every 75 miles made the Express the fastest way for a letter to cross from Missouri to California. By changing horses every 10-15 miles, riders in 1861 carried Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address from St. Joseph, Missouri to Carson City in five and three-quarter days.

That translated into almost 13 miles an hour, then a record speed for travel. However fast the Express was, it could not compete with the telegraph.

It went out of business in October 1861, soon after San Francisco was linked by wire to New York City, already by then the economic center of the United States.

The Caughlin Ranch Conflagration

It began, at least for me, at about 12:25 Friday morning. I was listening to the scanner in the station’s newsroom, when I heard a fire crew tell dispatch they were unable to get a handle on brush fire  burning in a ravine, between Cashill Drive and Skyline Blvd.

A second crew was sent and even before they arrived, it seemed as if the first crew was requesting more assets be dispatched to the area. From the description the crews were giving, the blaze was caught up by gusting winds and was sent southwest up the draw.

Next thing I heard was that the blaze had split in two, one burning towards Gibraltar. The other, racing up hill towards McCarran Blvd.

Crews immediately closed down McCarran between Skyline and Caughlin Ranch Parkway. They would make a stand in that area, fighting to keep the wind from carrying the fire to the opposite side of McCarran.

Shortly before sunrise authorities discovered the fire had jumped their line, starting a new blaze near the base of Windy Hill. That fire eventually burned a portion of the Bartley Ranch area, before it was stopped.

For the remainder of my morning I listened to fire crew arriving from throughout Northern Nevada and Eastern California. My shift ended at around 4:30am and I headed for home, smelling smoke and seeing the eerie orange-glow of the fire reflected in my truck’s rearview mirror.

Officials stopped the major portion of the Caughlin fire by that mid-afternoon. At one point more than 470 firefighters were on the lines.

A state of emergency was put in place for the effected area, but has since been lifted.  In the end the fire destroyed 32 structures, burned 2,000 acres.

Fire crews did save 4,000 homes and were able to stop the forward movement of the sudden and unexplained blaze. The fire forced the evacuations of more than 95-hundred people, caused the death of a 74-year-old man, who died from a heart attack while evacuating his home.

It left 17 people injured, including a firefighter, who was hospitalized with first and second degree burns. He’s listed in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

About 2,300 customers were left without power overnight as the result of the fire. Late into the night and early Saturday morning, the weather turned from heavy winds, to a light snow to the valley floor and near freezing temperatures.

By Saturday night’s sunset, fire crews had the blaze 80-percent contained, with full-containment expected by mid-week. Now the hard part gets underway — the recovery and rebuilding of lives.

Silver Tailings: Gold Hill County

This series was written as a part of a advertizing campaign that Paul Stewart and I dreamed up for KONE Country. Unfortunately it never got beyond this stage as the format changed from Country to American Standard music.

We had intended them to be voiced-over by Norm Nielson, who had some fame as one of the writers for the TV show, “Bonanza.” He went of to create his own radio vignette called, “Tales of Nevada,” and writing two books bearing the same name.

Sadly, both Paul and Norm are no longer with us today. I’ve decided to rename the series “Silver Tailings,” which hopefully one day I’ll turn into a book or two.

In November 1864, it was proposed that Gold Hill be permanently separated from Virginia City, which had been urging consolidation of the adjacent town for a year. Gold Hill would be the seat of a new county that would include American Flat and some of the mountains between Gold Hill and Washoe Valley.

The proposal was made because of the indebtedness of Virginia City and Storey County, over $200,000 and $300,000, respectively. The citizens of Gold Hill claimed they had no part in running up the debt, but were being asked to help repay it.

Nevada’s State Legislature, which met for its very first session on December 11, 1864, ignored the proposal. They probably felt that the residents of Gold Hill had received more gain from the debt than they admitted to.

However, the idea of splitting Nevada counties into smaller units gained a foothold and was not forgotten. Over the next 55 years, the original nine counties became the seventeen of today.

Occupy This!

Time and again I’ve heard the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd and their offspring, “Occupy Oakland,” “Occupy Seattle,” etc., tell a news camera they have a right to assemble and protect. And I’ll go so far as to say they are absolutely right and I’d defend that right with the last bit of my strength.

But what they’re missing is the difference between assembly and encampment. There is no guarantee to the right to set up a tent city on local, state or federal properties, unless you’ve secure a permit for such an activity.

“Occupy Reno,” took the step to secure a permit to develop an encampment – or base of operations, if you will – by approaching the city council and requesting one lawfully. The permit was granted and they are currently set up at the now-closed Moana Swimming Pool facility.

The problem with the majority of the Occupy crowd I hear about daily in the news, is they’ve decided to interpret the U.S. Constitution.  In my opinion, there should be no interpretation of this document — as it reads exactly what is written.

Thus they’ve come to the conclusion its okay to establish an encampment because it’s an assembly. And because of this, they feel its okay to clash with police – after all their rights are being stepped on.

Not.

This kind of tactic may have worked well when the Bolshevik’s overthrew Russia’s Czar Nicholas, dragging him and his family before a firing squad, but I doubt it’ll have the same effect on the average American. If you think civil disobedience will get you anywhere, then stay and learn, otherwise its time to pack it up and go home.

Wild Goose Chasing

Slowly I was drawn from sleep by the thump-thump-thump of a helicopter flying around behind my home. This was overtaken by the annoying rattle and buzz of my windows, vibrating from the power of the helicopters blades.

“What the hells going on?” I mumbled as I crawled from bed to look out my bedroom window.

All I could see was the Washoe County Sheriff’s Departments RAVEN Helicopter making tight passes over the neighborhood. I checked the radio, the television and finally the Internet for any more information.

Nothing.

About an hour later my housemate, Kay came pulling into the drive way. She came inside and said, “I don’t know what’s going on but I jus’ saw and FBI man up by Shaw.”

Really?

Two and a half hours later the TV news comes on reports that Spanish Springs High and Shaw Elementary Schools had been on lockdown – but that lockdown had been lifted. The newscasters went on to say, “A bus driver has seen a man possibly carrying a rifle near the high school.”

What?!

Furthermore the news anchor said, “…after a lengthy search, the man was not found.”

You’ve got to be kidding me!

When did it become illegal to carry a gun on a public street, near a school? To my knowledge – it isn’t against the law, so why the fuss?

So far the only answer I’ve been given is that the county and all other reciprocating agencies respond to prevent a possible school shooting. On the surface it sounds like an okay idea – but think hard on the subject and you may come to differing conclusion, like I have.

There ‘s no threat in simply carrying a rifle with you, especially in the unincorporated parts of the county. People go out target shooting – or plinking as its known – everyday around here.

Worse yet, precious resources are wasted every time somebody “thinks” they’ve seen something. The taxpayers money would be better spent teaching county and school district employees what a real threat is – and isn’t – rather than on wild goose chases.

Then maybe I can continue sleeping peacefully.

Some Little Known Information

Watching TV shows and movies regarding “the War on Drugs,” where U.S. Forces sought to cripple the cocaine trade between Central America and North America, I see one glaring error, time after time. Our guys are packing the wrong weapon!

Oh, certainly you see the M-16 or the AR-15 – but those were the arms issued to us. I’m talking about the weapons we used in the field, where “prying eyes” couldn’t see.

Often times when “in country,” we used the AK-47. That’s the Soviet made assault weapon, which has made its name in a number of battles – especially where revolts are concerned.

Yes, we trained with AR-15’s and M-16’s, etc., but in the field, to hide our presence and add confusion during raids, we used captured AK-47’s. They were plentiful as was the ammo – and it cost the taxpayer nothing.

Recently, I met with a buddy of mine, a Marine Gunny, who quipped, “We know more about this rifle than we know about the one issued to us.”

Conspiracy Theories Aside

It’s been six-years since I was “deuced” from my last job. That’s the term used for firing someone for blogging about company business — disparaging or not.

It’s possible it could happen again. I hope that’s not the case though.

The last few days I’ve heard all sorts of rumors floating around why the radio station’s afternoon talk-show host Bill is gone. My favorite has been, “Did Senator Harry Reid have anything to do with it?”

Nope.

Other conspiracy theories include, “This is the beginning of the fairness doctrine.” Another is, “…was getting too big and knew too much and had too be silenced by the government.”

The truth, mundane as it is, comes down to one deciding factor.

When the new company purchased the station in 2010, it was known that the new ownership would more than likely come in and cut five to 10 percent of the staff from each station at every property. That’s the nature of the business.

Along with Bill, four other people were released from the properties, including my long-time friend of 25-years, Elizabeth. Again, this is the nature of the business.

Furthermore, it’s been known that the new ownership has in place a policy stating every Program Director of each station at every property shall hold down a full-time air shift. The PD for our station is Dan, who’s been successful in this position since the mid-90s.

So it was a simple business decision. The stations PD has taken over the afternoon hosting slot once held by Bill. This too is the nature of the business.

Yeah, I wanted the Reid conspiracy theory to be for real too, but in this case as with all – the truth wills out.

JK Metzker

It was a little before midnight Saturday, when I heard chatter on the newsroom scanner that a man had been struck by a hit-and-run driver near the University of Nevada, Reno’s campus. It was obvious from the sound of thing he was in bad shape.

A minute more and I heard someone clearly say, “Its Channel Two’s sports guy.”

While hearing that stunned me, I quickly started calling around to see if I could get confirmation of what I believed I had heard. It took another hour before some one told me what I was afraid I already knew.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t say anything as the information remained unconfirmed. I ended up going home that morning know who the victim was and that he was in critical condition.

It wasn’t until waking up later on Sunday, that not only did I have the correct information — that information had gone from bad to worse.  KTVN’s Sports Director, 41-year-old JK Metzker was dead from injuries received the night before.

I knew JK only in passing — many around me knew him better.

They all say he was not only a nice guy, a good family man and fantastic husband and father, but he also had a sense of humanity. I’m told that at the end of the day, he realized we all lived in a small community and because of that competition was only a job, but being decent was a committment.

Two things stand out in my conversations with his co-workers and friends: He’d have had a joke or a quip about all this fuss over his death — and he’d probably be the first to forgive the person who killed him.

Of course they speculate, while I report.

Meanwhile, the case continues as a 23-year-old Sparks man has been arrested in connection with the hit-and-run incident. Ryan Rhea is charged with one felony count of hit-and-run causing the death.

Rhea moved to the area from Carmichael, California after serving in Iraq with the Army’s 82nd Airborne. He has been going to college while living with his father in Sparks.

Investigators said alcohol appears to be a factor in the incident. They add additional charges may be filed pending results of blood tests.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2pm Friday, at Our Lady of the Snows on Wright Street. A fund has also been set up in the Metzker Family name and donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank.

Two Effing Lines?! Really! Come on!

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time…

“Adam was born on August 4, 1963 and passed away on Monday, January 25, 2010. Adam was a resident of Hydesville, California.” That’s all the online obituary reads.

Are you fucking kidding me?! Two friggin’ lines meant to cover 46-years of life.

Bullshit! This pisses me off and I won’t stand for it!

Adam is my brother, and I can tell you, there was much more to the man than what this paltry piece of crap obit has in it!  Goddamn it, I find it disgusting that his children and widow care so little of him they’d allow this to stand!

Okay — now  that I’ve calmed down…

They got his date of birth right, but let me add, he was born at Mather Air Force Hospital in Sacramento, California. Adam, like me, was born a military brat.

The following year we moved to Klamath, California. Adam attended and graduated from Margaret Keating School.

Adam also attended Saint Robert and Ann’s Catholic Church in Klamath. He received first communion in 1971 and often talked about being a Priest, like many young boys his age.

Eventually he outgrew the idea of becoming a priest, focusing instead on acting. Adam was talented, doing impressions of famous people like John Wayne and Groucho Marx and telling jokes at the drop of a hat and everyone had to beware of his sharp tongue.

He eventually acted in a couple of plays during high school, but found he loved weight lifting and boxing more than being on stage. It was from that discipline he would draw strength to push through the disintegration of our parents marriage.

At first he moved to Fortuna with our mother and two sisters. Eventually, though Adam chose to come live with me in Crescent City and return to Del Norte High School, where he graduated in 1981.

While attending school he maintained a steady job as a busboy, dishwasher and a sometime line cook. In speaking with Pete Kaufman, who managed Rowland’s restaurant, where Adam worked, he said he had no one else who could laugh and carry on with employees and customers and get his work done as well as Adam could.

In short Adam busted his ass.

Adam joined the U.S. Army and after completing basic and advanced infantry training was assigned to Pusan (now known as Busan,) South Korea. He finish two years of duty overseas and was transferred to Fort Irwin in the Mohave Desert, where he continued to work as a dental technician.

There is more to this part of his life that’ll be shared at a later date.

He left the service in early 1986, taking a job as a security officer with a lumber company. He held this job for over a year as he completed the basic requirements to enter college on a full-time basis.

He also got married, adopting his wife’s daughter, Jasmine, from a previous marriage. Together Adam and Sonja had two more children, Jayce and Lynda.

At first he couldn’t settle on a major, first attending the law enforcement academy at the College of the Redwoods. After graduating from the course he discovered a desire for nursing and proceeded on a path towards his degree in that.

He was sidelined unfortunately after being accused of participating in the murder of a man who  was harvesting a pot field. Initially he was sentenced to two-years at San Quentin, but due to overcrowding, served his time in the Mendocino County jail.

By the time he completed his sentence, Adam was well on the road to depression. It took him a year and a half to finally seek help from the local V.A. clinic in Eureka.

Adam was never the same though. His mood swings were wild and often times caused him to seek the self-medicating path of alcohol and marijuana.

Adam suffered another setback when he and Sonja divorced. By this time he was talking about taking off to Europe and getting lost once his children were all grown.

However, he appeared to be on the road to recovery by the time he married his second wife, Kelly. It was  “a dream come true,” he would tell me the day of the wedding.

Sadly, that dream wouldn’t last very long.

Near the end of January 2010, he checked himself into the V.A. hospital in San Francisco, suffering from severe depression. It was while there he self-administered a mixture of prescribed medication that ended his life.

While I haven’t his all the points in Adam’s life, I have shared enough so you’ll know he was far more than the two-lines given in the only obituary I’ve been able to locate for him. Meanwhile, his death has had an effect on not only me but his sisters as well.

Furthermore Adam’s friends from throughout his life are coming forward, wanting to know about him. Slowly and painfully I’ll give out all I can recall despite my desire to keep a part of him for myself.

That would selfish — and no better than he’s been given by others closer to him than me.

Marine Arrogance

A Marine Sergeant wrote this in response to an Army guy who posted a comment on the Marine Corps site that he was sick and tired of “Marine arrogance”.

The Sergeant writes:

“I think that’s what makes Marines special, if only in our own minds, is that elusive Quality of Esprit D’Corps. It’s the fact that we, as individual Marines, don’t feel that we are individual Marines. When we wear our uniform, when we hear our Hymn, when we go into battle, we are going with every other Marine who ever wore the uniform.

Standing behind us are the Marines who fought during the birth Of our nation. We’re standing with the Marines who fought in WWI and gave birth to the legend of the “Tueful Hunden”, or “Devil Dogs”. We are standing with the Marines who took Iwo and Tarawa and countless other blood soaked islands throughout the Pacific.

We are standing with the “Frozen Chosin” and our beloved Chesty Puller. We are standing with the Marines who battled at Hue City and Khe Sanh and the muddy rice paddies of South East Asia. We are standing with the Marines who fought in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and now, are fighting in Afghanistan.

Like real brothers, their blood courses through our veins, and when we go into battle, we would rather lay down our lives than be a disappointment to them. We carry on our backs, their legacy, their deaths and their honor. We carry that for the rest of our lives.

The Marines Corps uniform doesn’t come off when our active duty is over. We wear it daily in our attitude, and our love of Corps and country. We wear it on our tattoos and our bumper stickers. We wear it in our hearts.

It’s why, no matter where we are in the world, on November 10th, every Marine celebrates the Marine Corps birthday. It’s why we’ll never be an army of 1. It’s why we never stop being Marines. It’s why, for most of us, being a Marine isn’t something we were. It’s something we are.

It’s the most important part of who and what we are. Some say we’re arrogant. We say we’re proud. We have a right to be proud. We are the United States Marines The most feared and ferocious group of warriors to walk the face of this earth.

When Americas’ enemies formulate their battle plans, they plan on going around Marine units, because they know Damn well that they can’t go through them. We are what other branches wish they were.

We are the modern day Spartans. This isn’t bragging. It’s written in the battle history of our country. When there’s a parade and the Marines march by, everyone pays a little more attention. Some say “arrogance”. We call it “pride”. It’s why, in a crowd of service men, you can always spot the Marine.”

Why are Marines special?  I don’t know.

We just are.

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She Used to Write

When I first met my friend Kay in 1995, she had jus’ started down the long road of recovery from a having a brain tumor surgically removed. I was working as a driver for CitiLift and she was a reservationist for Reno Air.

By the time I’d pick her up from her work place to transport her home, she would be physically exhausted and nearly unable to speak. She’d be talking to me, but I’d be unable to understand some of the words she was saying.

Later on as we got to know one another better, she confided in me that she did a lot of writing after getting home. She told me it was the only way she could express her thoughts and feelings after a long day on the telephones.

In fact she became so compulsive about writing, she would use most anything available from a napkin to post-it-note. And all this material, she wrote was kept in a set of boxes she purchased through Avon.

About five years later, she became involved in a religious sect that invited her to give up all of her worldly possessions, which she did. This not only included her house-trailer and car, but all of her writing as well.

These days she refuses to write anything even though we’ve bought her a couple of journals. However she will spend 15 to 20 minutes a day texting her daughter in Las Vegas.

So go figure.

Beyond the Blue

We had jus’ moved the KHIT studios from Neil Road to South Virginia. At the time I was working as the overnight jock.

As normal, I came in about half-an-hour early jus’ so I could get a pot of coffee on and so the person I was taking over for would not have to worry about whether I’d be on time or not. Plus it gave me a chance to relax prior to air time.

This particular evening I came in to find I had a piece of mail. It wasn’t often that got mail so it was kind of nice.

The woman who was on the air at the time knew I had this mail and appeared jus’ as curious as me to know what I had been sent. The medium-sized envelop didn’t have a return address, which piqued our curiousity even more.

So, I ripped it open in the control room, where we could both see what I had gotten. Out fell a pair of royal blue panties and a brassiere.

I was instantly red-faced as I picked the items up and stuffed them back in the envelope.

Two days later, and having forgotten about the incident, I was called at home to come to the station to discuss a matter. My boss at the time was hesitant to tell me what that matter was and so I drove to their with a ton of worry on my mind.

Once inside I foundI was being counselled and written up for sexual harassment. The woman I opened the package up in front off was offended and reported me.

She must have never seen a bra or a pair of pants before.

A Surprise Between the Sheets

When I left my barracks room, my bed was perfectly made. There were no bumps or wrinkles in it.

The same couldn’t be said by the time I returned from class. There was a fairly large lump in the center of the mattress.

At first I thought someone had jus’ stuffed something under the top blanket, but I discovered differently once I pulled back the covers. The lump turned out to be a rattlesnake.

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest the moment I saw it. I must have looked funny plastered against the far wall of my room with my eyes as wide as saucers.

It took me less than a minute to figure out the reptile wasn’t alive. Rather it was made of plaster and painted to look like a rattlesnake.

I took it out into the hallway —  where everyone was snickering and giggling — but where no one was confessing to putting it in my bed.

Silver Tailings: Creech AFB — Little Base, Big Role

One of the smaller military bases in the U.S. is located in the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas. It also plays one of the biggest roles in the nation’s war on terror.

The airfield that now bears General Wilbur L. “Bill” Creech’s name was originally built by the Army in the early 1940s to support the war effort during World War II . A month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army began building the training camp.

Known as Indian Springs Auxiliary Army Airfield, the base was used as a “divert” field and for air-to-air gunnery training, supporting the Western Flying Training Command Gunnery School at Las Vegas Army Airfield. The post also serviced B-17s and T-6s until March 1945 when the Army put the base in stand-by status.

When Las Vegas AAF deactivated in January 1947, Indian Springs also closed down. However the base found new life when it re-opened in January 1948, receiving its first permanently assigned Air Force unit two years later.

Come August 1951 the base became an auxiliary field once again and by July 1952 was transferred from Air Training Command to the Air Research and Development Command. The base now reported to the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The base transferred to the Tactical Air Command in 1961, where it officially became known as Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. It was also the remote training site for the USAF Thunderbirds.

Wile practicing on January 18,1982, the Thunderbirds crashed at Indian Springs. The four pilots were performing a line abreast loop when all aircraft had a controlled flight into terrain impact along the runway in front of the base Fire Station.

By 1992, the base had become a component of Air Combat Command and remained such until June 20, 2005, when Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field officially changed its name to Creech Air Force Base. The name was selected to honor Creech, a former commander of Tactical Air Command and who was also known as the “father of the Thunderbirds.”

Creech was born in Argyle, Missouri, March 30, 1927. He was commission in September 1949 rising to the rank of General being promoted May 1, 1978.  Creech retired from the service December 31, 1984, and died August 26, 2003.

By October of that same year, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron was activated at Creech joining the 11th, 15th and 17th Reconnaissance Squadrons, becoming the first MQ-1 squadron in the Air Force Special Operations Command. The Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center was also established at the same time.

The 42nd Attack Squadron was formed at Creech in November the following year as the first Reaper squadron. On May 1,2007 operational control of the base was moved from Nellis to the 432nd Wing  which was reactivated and assumed control of the base.

Wasp the Matter?

The four of us were down in what we commonly referred to as the pasture. There was John Paul Arnold, Chucky Yates, Adam and myself.

We were doing what young kids do – especially boys – roughing around, chasing each other, etc. How we all ended up together on that Saturday morning is lost to me.

What I do recall was seeing John Paul throwing rocks. I wasn’t paying much attention to what he was throwing them at as we’d been tossing rocks at trees and into High Prairie Creek all day.

Suddenly John Paul grabbed up Adam, who was only six-years old at the time, and took off running up the hill toward the neighborhood with Chucky right behind him. I watched for a couple of seconds wondering what they were doing.

“Run, Tommy!” Chucky  yelled as he continued to dash up the hill.

But it was too late. I heard a noise like a machine humming and by the time I turned to see what it was, I was engulfed in a swarm of angry wasps.

It was at that time I decided to take off running – albeit way too late. Before I knew it I was being stung in the head and neck.

Once home, I discovered I wasn’t the only one stung. Adam had been attacked and has several stingers in him, too.

I don’t know how badly Chucky or John Paul got stung as they were gone by the time I made it home.

Dad immediately took me out into the backyard and made a small mud-wallow that he started applying to my head and neck. The mud pack calmed the burning and lessened the pain.

After a few minute in this, he hosed me off and took me inside, where he and Mom proceeded to pluck the stingers from my neck and head. That was almost as bad as the initial attack.

My head and neck were swollen and covered in bumps. I refused to go outside the rest of the day or the next because I looked so funny.

Unfortunately, Dad made me go to school that following Monday – despite my misshapen head.

The Burnt and the Brave

It was a temporary assignment to learn how to deal with life-threatening burns in a clinical setting. I was familiar with the place as I had been assigned to Brooks Air Force Base for technical school a couple of years earlier, which borders the fort.

The school was one of the most unpleasant courses I ever attended. The smell of burnt and rotting flesh seemed to follow me back to my barracks every evening and there wasn’t enough beer on the post to help drown the memories from what I’d seen.

One morning I arrived to class only to be redirected to a ward. I was told a group of Marines had arrived from Okinawa, severely burned and that I’d be part of their treatment team.

Evidently, they had been sheltered in a Quonset hut that also stored JP-4 jet fuel. One of the Jarheads forgot about the flammable materials and lit up a cigarette, which in turn engulfed the building and left 25 men fighting for their lives due to the fire.

The first thing that needed to be done for these men was to scrub the burnt, dead skin from their bodies. This is extremely painful as no one is given medication to deal the pain – after all living skin will hurt while the dead skin has no sensation – and all the dead skin has to go or infection will set in.

It’s also a slow process, one that takes a toll on both the patient and the technician doing the cleaning. I was amazed to see I wasn’t the only man in the group crying as I intentionally inflicted more and more pain to the Marine I was scrubbing.

Amid all of this horror was the bravery of these burned men. Yes, they cried and yes they cried out – but the most remarkable thing was the unity and strength they proved each other as well as us.

As we scrubbed and picked and scrubbed some more, their voices grew louder and louder as they sang over and over again the words to the Marine Corps hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma; To the Shores of Tripoli…”

Into the Freeze

The entire week had been one snow day after another. Despite this, I decided to enjoy my time off by taking a day-trip to take photographs and see what else I could learn about Nevada.

The roads were icy and therefore slick – making driving fast a bad idea. So I took my time, stopping to snap a picture here and there.

It was jus’ before 11 o’clock that morning when I finally made it beyond Carson City and into the Valley bearing the same name. Off to my right, I saw a woman standing by the edge of the roadway — soaking wet and looking to be in a horrible panic.

As I pulled closer, I noticed a vehicle in the ditch by the freeway, it’s four tires protruding from a thin layer of broken ice. The upside down car was submerged in about four-feet of water.

I immediately stopped to help.

By the time I got out of my car and to the woman, I had a handle on the situation. She had screamed and yelled two words over and over at me: My baby!

Without waiting for any further information I pulled off my leather jacket, got the knife from my back pocket and jumped feet first into the water. Instantly I was freezing, but I couldn’t stop to think about how cold I was at the moment.

Instead I searched the passenger side of the car for the door handle. It was easy to find, but opening the door was difficult because of the mud and debris that held it in place.

Unable to open it, I waded around to the driver’s side and found it to be part way open. I ducked beneath the water’s surface and squeezed inside the vehicle.

By this time my hands and arms were so numb that I could hardly feel anything I touched. Instead I had to look for more than feel my way around until I located what I was hoping to find.

The baby carrier was upside down and resting on the ceiling of the car’s roof. I felt inside it – but there was no baby.

My mind was growing foggy from the ice-water and my lungs started to burn. So I started to back out of the vehicle.

That’s when I felt something brush the side of my head. I reached up and realized I was holding the leg of an infant.

With the baby in my arms, I scrambled out of the car and up the bank to a waiting crowd. I handed the infant to a bystander, who started CPR on the limb little body.

Someone else grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around me. I watched as the man I had handed the bay too worked to warm it up, with chest compressions and puffs of breath.

In what seemed like hours – but was more like minutes – an ambulance with its siren wailing pulled up to the scene. They didn’t remain long as they loaded up the infant and the mother and sped off to the hospital.

It took me more than two-hours to finally warm up enough to fill out the police report. Back home that evening, I learned from the local news that the infant survived — and her mother was okay.

That made the bone-numbing cold, worth it.

When Reflections Attack

We should have never been inside the old, abandon house, but then again the back door should have been locked. It was reportedly haunted, but I wouldn’t stick around long enough to find out.

The DeMartin’s house sat vacant for years facing the beach that also carries the same name. And while I won’t tattle on who was with me that afternoon, I come out the loser on a bet I should have never taken.

Not only was it old smelling inside, the floor creaked as I walked across it. Worse yet, up stairs it was dark and drafty – which set the stage for what would happen next.

As I came down the stairs that lead towards the front door and the large open living room to the side, I heard a noise behind me. I turned jus’ in time to see my friend racing towards me.

Needless to say I nearly jumped out of my skin as I screamed and took off running towards the back door. That’s when I saw the figure in front of me – my reaction was to lash out with a punch.

The ensuing noise led to more confusion and to more fright as I raced out of the house and back to the trail I had jus’ hiked. Once I stopped and gathered myself, I realized it wasn’t a ghost I had jus’ tried to hit.

Rather there was a more earthly explanation; I had seen my own reflection in a piece of glass. I felt really stupid when my buddy finally came outside to check on me – laughing because he had never seen anyone so scared before.

Bluebird

The swirling, blowing snow made for a confusing pattern as the Bluebird headed west out of Nebraska and back to the Air Base. The sun had already set and the darkness seemed to add to that confusion.

Everyone aboard the bus knew the trip home would be long and boring. Many had drifted off to sleep as the vehicle crept up one rise and eased its way down another in the rolling plains of the Cornhusker state.

It was somewhere before 11 p.m., headlights cutting through a heavy snowfall, the driver slowing for every turn, every dip and every hill, taking care not to allow the bus to slide; Deanna was leaning against me, sleeping as well as she could.

On the other hand, I was unable to sleep. It was a force of habit from childhood, having never been able to sleep in a moving vehicle.

Instead, I simply watched out the window. There was nothing to see, but the quick flashes of white flakes as they flew by my face.

Off to my left I noticed something different in the pattern of the snow as it fell. It was ghostly apparition that seemed to appear out of the darkness and fade as quick as it had come forth.

It took a few seconds for the shape of the figure to register in my brain. When it did, I shouted for the bus to stop.

Senior Airman Toller looked up into the mirror above his head at me as I struggle to get from my seat to the front of the vehicle. As the driver, Toller worked the pedals and gears to slow the bus down even further.

“What the hell?” he asked.

“I think I saw someone trying to flag us down,” I responded.

Toller has a puzzled look on his face as he said, “I didn’t see anyone.”

He eased the shift stick into first gear and glided the bus to the shoulder of the road. It came to a stop with a hiss as the brakes grabbed firmly at the wheels.

Within seconds I was out of the bus and trotting back to where I thought I had seen the mysterious figure. At first the swirling snow caused me to feel confused and I started to doubt myself.

But jus’ as I was prepared to give up and return to the bus, ready to admit I was simply seeing things, something ahead of me moved side ways. The movement was slight — but enough to cause my eye to follow it.

By this time others aboard the old Bluebird had clamored from the bus in an effort to both stretch their legs and to see what it was I was looking for. They milled around in the tail lights of the vehicle.

The movement I had seen drew closer until I could see it was man. The figure was clothed in a short sleeve shirt and light pants and looked to be terribly cold.

“Hey!” I yelled.

The man stopped as if he was uncertain he had actually heard a voice. This gave me a chance to get to him before the snow could obscure my vision any further than it had.

“We’ve had an accident,” the man called out as I stepped closer.

“An accident” I repeated.

“Yes,” the man said as his teeth clattered from the cold.

I turned and looked towards the Bluebird and called out against the wind, “There’s an accident!”

It took a few seconds before anyone reacted. Finally several team members trotted over towards the sound of my voice as I continued to call out to them for assistance.

Leaving the man with the first of those who responded, I headed towards the far edge of the roadway. I was trying to find the crash site.

To my surprise it wasn’t a car or truck, but another bus. I couldn’t tell whether I was looking at the front of the vehicle or the rear of the bus as it was covered in layer of snow.

Cautiously I felt my way along the side of the vehicle, looking for a way into the bus. Finding a slight gap in the vehicle as I slid his hand down the left side, I located the passenger door. 

I realized the bus was facing the roadway with its massive rear-mounted engine hanging off of a cliff face.

Prying opened the door, I could see the driver still strapped into his seat, he looked to be dead or unconscious. I felt for a pulse, learning the man was still alive.

Huddled in the first three rows were several people. Some were standing while others sat in the large backed seats.

It didn’t take me long to direct them to carefully exit the bus. I calmly reassured them there were rescuers outside waiting to help them to a waiting and warm bus.

Jus’ when I thought the bus might be empty, a beam of light cut into the dark. I gently moved towards where I had seen the light, taking care to feel for the bus if it should start to shift due to my weight.

“Hello,” I called out.

“In here,” a small elderly female voice responded.

Looking in the direction of the voice, I could see very little as I moved downward along the sloping aisle way.

“Are you hurt?” I asked.

“No,” returned the voice.

“Can you get out of your seat,” I said more than asked.

“I’m stuck,” the woman’s voice calmly stated.

“Over here,” a man’s voice cried.

“Stay put,” I directed, adding, “Help’s on its way.”

Backing out of the bus the way I had come aboard, I stepped into the night, to find the wind had stopped blowing and a light snow was falling.

“I’ve got more survivors aboard,” I called to the several figures moving along the edge of the roadway above me.

“What do you need?” someone called out.

“I need lights, blankets and first-aiders,” I responded.

Climbing back on the bus, I checked the driver once again. He was breathing and he had a good heart beat, but he had a large bump on the left side of his head and I could see the glass of the driver’s window was cracked.

Feeling for the keys as they hung in the ignition, I turned them off, then back on, discovering the battery had been drained. It told me the crash had happened sometime ago.

“Hey,” a voice said behind me. It was Technical Sergeant Ron Best.

Quickly, I told him to come on board as gently as possible, because it felt like the bus was unstable and could slide off the face of the cliff at any moment. Best followed my advice.

We concluded we should remove those closer to the door first, working their way towards the back of the bus. The driver was the first to be lifted and passed along the human chain outside the vehicle.

Slowly, but methodically, we worked our way toward the back of the bus, to find two more injured people and the woman who called out saying she was trapped. We turned our attention to the woman after evacuating the injured.

She had been in the lavatory when the crash occurred. She was unhurt and able to push the small flashlight she had in her purse under the door of the bathroom, letting me and Best know she was there.

The woman was grateful to be rescued.

She was wet from the waste that had dumped out onto her and she was cold. It didn’t take her long to start suffering from the effects of hypothermia.

Once she was free of her entrapment, Best escorted her to the doorway and off the bus. As he turned to head down the aisle towards me, the bus jerked violently.

The bus was slipping backwards, threatening to tumble off the cliff. For a moment it felt as if it would not stop.

“Get off the effing bus, Ron, now!” I shouted.

“Not without you!” he shouted back.

“No!” I shot back adding, “If she goes, better only one of us is aboard. Besides you’re closer to the friggin’ door — so get out while you can!”

Best backed his way off the vehicle. He knew I was right and besides he’d be in a better position to help if the bus did fall from the cliff.

Minutes later I appeared at the vehicles door, dragging a large, overweight man. There were a number of hands to help remove him to the waiting bus up top.

Then I worked my way back down the now steep incline of the bus aisle. I had one more man to get too and it would take all my strength to get him out of the severely angled vehicle.

Unfortunately the man was in the far right corner of the bus as I looked downward towards him. He was pinned behind what remained of a mobile bar.

Using the small legs of the bus seats, I climbed down to the man. I could feel his pulse was thready and I knew he wouldn’t last much longer without greater medical intervention.

Carefully, I removed the cans of soda and bottles of beer and liquor from the rolling cabinet. As soon as I felt the box was light enough to be lifted, I toppled it over on its side.

A swell of panic filled my stomach as I realized what I had done. I looked for a way to escape the bus if it should start to slide.

With the jolt of the mobile bar crashing on its side, came a rocking sensation. The bus was moving but not sliding backwards.

Climbing over the seat behind my position, I violently kicked at the window. It cracked then fell away.

With its removal came a wall of snow and dirt. The exit I had hoped for was blocked.

So I moved to the other side and smashed the window with my foot. The window gave way in one huge pop and cold air-filled the bus.

It was an exit.

But rather than scrambling out of the bus, I returned to the injured man. I decided to use the window as a way to get him out of the vehicle.

It took me a couple of minutes to apply dressings to the man’s cuts and gashes. There was nothing however I could do for the man’s severely angled left leg.

“It’s an injury we’ll have to deal without side,” I said to the still unconscious man.

Slowly and with all the effort and strength I could muster, I lifted the injured man upward and onto the seat back near the window. My arms ached from the fatigue as did my legs, but I refused to stop until I was sure the man would be freed of the bus.

Once I had the man in position, I climbed through the broken out window. The cold was biting as it cooled the sweat trapped against my body.

“Down here,” I shouted.

Several lights were directed on me as I struggled to pull the man free of the window frame. Three people were by my side within moments, helping haul the man up the hillside.

Throughout the early morning hours, I helped direct first-aiders in caring for the victims of the crash. And jus’ as the sun was starting to stream its light over the far horizon behind the Bluebird, fire-rescue and ambulances arrived onto the isolated scene.

I finally got the chance to look over the edge of the cliff.

What I saw left me amazed. The terrible fall I had envisioned was nothing more than a five-foot drop.

I chuckled about it all the way back to the Bluebird.

Soon we were back on the road heading home to the Air Base. Within minutes I would fall asleep for the first time in my memory while traveling in a moving vehicle