These Things We Do

One of my favorite military unit motto’s is, “These things we do, so others may live.” I like it because it’s not only simple and direct, but it says so much about the character of those service members who are the U.S. Air Force’s Pararescue.

Time and again I see it after a disaster: Us opening our hearts, our homes, and our wallets to help others – in most cases complete strangers. On a smaller scale – we help each other in times of need, even rising up to commit acts of heroism when the situation calls for it.

We all have it within us the ability and the want to help others. I find it sad to see that this is forgotten until disaster strikes.

Ghost Wrecker

We were heading east on Highway 70, somewhere between the small California settlement Chilcoot and Hallelujah Junction, enjoying the scenery, when I noticed the light blue wrecker, its yellow-orange light bar flashing above its cab. It was steadily gaining on us and I was preparing to slowdown and pull to the far right to let it pass.

Jus’ as I looked back from my rearview mirror to the road in front of me, fear washed over me as a four-wheel drive truck came rushing head long at us. The vehicle was passing a row of six cars as it bore down on us.

With little time to think, only to react, I dropped off to the right of the two-lane highway, giving the larger pick-up jus’ enough room to speed by. As soon as it passed us, I gently pulled back onto the asphalt, counting my blessing at having avoided what I felt was a certain fatal accident for us.

Then I looked in my rearview mirror to see if the four-wheel truck had completed passing the row of cars. While it had, it surprised me to see that the wrecker that had been there a minute ago, was no longer in sight.

“Did you see a turn-off anywhere back there?” I asked Kay.

“No,” she answered, “But then I wasn’t really paying attention to that.”

My curiosity piqued, I made a u-turn in the middle of the roadway and drove back beyond where we’d driven off the road. There were no turn-offs, side-roads or even pull-outs along the highway.

I still have no idea where the wrecker disappeared too, unless like Kay suggested, “It was never really there.”

Being Kind

There are three things important in life.
First is to be kind,
The second is to be kind,
And the third is to be kind.

My doctor has taken a pledge, “First do no harm,” but I can one-up the profession by taking this a step beyond: First, be kind. I’ve decided to come into every situation, stressful or not, looking for a way to be kind to the other person.

As I see it, even if my kindness isn’t returned, I’ll be setting an example for others. I think of it like this: Today, I’ll do at least one kind thing for someone else and expect nothing in return.

Three-peat

It’s a hard history to acknowledge, but my Grandpa and his son, my dad, did not talk or see each other for years.  Then suddenly, Grandpa died and it left a hole of grief in Dad’s heart afterwards.

A little over 15-years later, a nearly identical situation carried itself out as I learned my dad had passed away.  We had not seen each other in over 12-years, though I was able to reach him for a while at his job and I sent him letters and cards.

Now, I’m seeing my son gravitate away from me, as I did with my father.  It’s a family history I don’t want to see repeated and yet have no idea how to halt.

Out Run By a Girl

Throughout high school I was known for many things, some good, some bad, but mainly as ‘fast.’ That’s because since 7th grade I was a race-winning sprinter, setting several records and even getting an invite to the 1976 Olympics track and field try-outs.

It could have all been very different though, but for one thing, a girl who could run faster than me moved from Klamath before she realized her talent. I’m talking about my friend, Brenda Crump.

At least three times she out raced me for one reason or another. Her stride was not only longer than mine; she had a naturally powerful start, something I had to work at time and again.

As a 12-year-old boy, I refused to acknowledge this. Simply put, I was afraid of being teased about being out run by a girl.

I bet she can still out run me, still.

The Second Expedition

While European expeditions along the Northcoast remained rare during the 1500s and 1600s, a number of their ships did pass by the coastline of Del Norte. Most notably among them were the Manila Galleons.

These ships formed a trade route that connected Acapulco and the Philippines and brought the riches of the Indies to Europe. In 1565, the Spanish discovered the Japanese Current that made their travels across the Pacific considerably easier. Sometimes as they turned south, they spotted the fog-laden Northcoast.

With English piracy in the Pacific on the rise, the Spanish decided to set up a harbor on the Northcoast that the Manila Galleons could use as a refuge. So sailing from Manila in 1595, Sebastían Rodríguez Cermenõ passed into and sailed about Trinidad Bay.

Afraid of rocks, however, he decided not to anchor and went south to Acapulco. Eight years later, Sebastian Vizcaíno led another Spanish expedition to explore the Northcoast.

Illness and poor weather prevented the expedition’s two ships from fully surveying the coast. Mapping of the northern coastline never was much of a priority for the Spanish.

Though claimed by Spain, this section of California was remote, and the Spanish found themselves preoccupied with conquering South America, maintaining their colonial holds in Mexico and fending off piracy across the Caribbean and Atlantic. The second Spanish expedition whose mission was to formally claim lands north of Alta California for that nation’s crown, brought Bruno de Heceta and Bodega y Quadra past the coast of what would later become Del Norte County.

Silver Tailings: The Name Behind the Badge

Elko County’s famous Flying Sheriff, Jesse “Jess” C. Harris is the son of Sheriff Joseph C. Harris, who headed the same office from 1910 to 1936.  The younger Harris came into office in 1950 and served until 1974.

Between Joe and Jess, they served 50 years in the 20th century as the county’s sheriff.

And though he’s not related to Jess and Joe, Neil Harris, took office in 1990, serving for 17 years. That means one Harris or another had been sheriff for 66 of those 97 years.

As Howard Hickson, Director Emeritus of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, writes, “Good name to have when running for sheriff in Elko County. Statistically, there was a Sheriff Harris 69-percent of the time.”

Ten Years Later

This year marks the tenth anniversary of blogging for me. And still I keep learning about this format.

If this were a marriage, a gift of tin would be proper.

First, I should never post more than one entry per day. Anymore than that and I drive you away from taking the time to read it.

Second, keeping each entry short and simple is the best approach to this sort of format. More than a thousand words and you won’t take the time to read what I’ve written.

Third, posting political commentary is a turn-off.  I removed all the political content from my blog-site and you never noticed.

Here’s to another ten years.

Sleep Attitude

It’s wonderful to slip into bed, close the eyes and let the world sink away. A good night’s sleep helps the body and mind refresh from all the worries of the day.

And when we go to bed early – we can wake up early, getting jump on the day ahead. The time can be used for journaling, taking that half-hour walk or even spending time reading the Holy Bible or meditating.

At least, this how I wish my days were – but I work the third and first shifts — so I must adjust my hours so. With this, I’ve also learned to sleep in shifts; two, four hours periods of sleep with an hour or two in-between.

It all comes down to a positive attitude and living within the circumstances of life.

Creativity

We’re more creative than we give ourselves credit for. That’s because you and I often suppress them before they can grow.

Can’t afford that.
That won’t work.
Shouldn’t do this.

If you can, you must gather the courage not to censor your ideas, your thoughts.  Instead we should surprise ourselves with the free flow of our imaginations.

Big Thoughts

Truck won’t start.
Roof is leaking.
Porch light shorts-out.
Forgot to pay a bill.

Small stuff can pile up and ruin a day, but only if we allow them. You and I can’t think big thoughts all the time, but we can keep the little ones in perspective and not let them overwhelm us.

Magical Healer

Time and a again I’ve heard, “It’ll get better if you give it some time,” or “Time heals all wounds.”

It’s like time is some sort of magical healer. However, time does not change anything — you and I do.

It’s the work that we do while time is passing that changes things. The good news is that neither of us has to wait even a minute to start this work.

She’s in Love with the Goya

En route home from the post office as song came over the radio that reminded me of one of my favorite radio station stories. This one involves my friend Geno Clauson and a Trisha Yearwood Song.

We were both working at Reno’s country music station KHIT at the time. The song was, “She’s in Love with the Boy,” a big hit for the future Mrs. Garth Brooks.

Geno was working the weekend evening shift, when he back-announced the song. That means he told listeners the name of the artist and the song’s title.

Backing up jus’ a bit, Geno is an ethnic Jew. This means he doesn’t practice the faith and never has, rather he has an ancestral connection to ‘God’s chosen people.’

So as he back announced the song, he said: “Trisha Yearwood and ‘She’s in Love with the Goya.’”

And yes, he said it on purpose.

Later in his weekly air-check session with our Program Director, a recording of the back-announce was played for review. While Dan laughed, he told Geno it was probably best not to use references like this because those listening wouldn’t under stand what “Goya,” meant.

The people driving along side me must have thought I was nuts and laughed out loud at the memory. Incidentally, “Goya,” is a Hebrew and Yiddish term for a non-Jewish person; synonymous with “gentile.”

The Chase

We were hunkered down in a group of ruined mud and wood framed huts at the edge of a larger village. It was chow-time and the grub was being passed around.

That’s when someone shouted, “Hold your fire, hold your fire.”

Several of us stood up and looked in the direction of the voice. That’s when I saw this smallish man in khaki uniform running towards us.

At first I though he was the one yelling at us to hold our fire, but then I realized he was a local. Behind him were several men, all yelling and shouting in Spanish.

We watched as the man raced by our position, followed closely by the hostile group that seemed intent on bodily harming, if not worse the first guy. No one tried to stop either the man or the crowd.

Not one Marine raised a rifle, which is a good thing as their would have been casualties. However, I’ve often wondered if the little dude was ever caught, and if so, what happened to him.

Nova Albion

More than 30 years would pass before there would be another expedition to the northern most point of California. Although the Spanish Empire claimed during the 1500s, the area that now comprises Del Norte County, it was an Englishman who became the first European to make landfall on the Northcoast.

Francis Drake, commanding the Golden Hind, sailed into the Pacific Ocean around the tip of South America in 1578, working his way north past Peru and Panama. His crew of privateers plundered several Spanish colonial towns and ships along the way.

Just as his ship and crew were reaching 43 degrees north latitude, heavy, cold winds forced the Golden Hind towards the shoreline. He anchored in a bay exposed to wind gusts, rain and heavy fog.

When the weather became more moderate, he turned south, traveling during the day and anchoring at night for nearly two weeks. He sought a harbor where he could fix the ship’s leaks and go ashore for food and fresh water.

Among the places he passed up to anchor was the Crescent City reef.

Eventually he stopped somewhere between Crescent City and Point Loma, making contact with Indians and restocked his ship. Drake claimed the Northcoast for England, calling it Nova Albion.

Legend says that some of his men stayed ashore to start a small colony. But Drake’s mission largely was about plundering Spanish galleons and colonial towns.

England never sent a ship to check on this alleged colony.

Drake ultimately would become famous for helping the English defeat the great Spanish Armada in 1588. He served as second-in-command of the English fleet during that attack.

Insomnia and Far-out Dreams

Usually when I go through a bout of insomnia, I lay in bed reminiscing and thinking of new story lines for future blog postings. However the last couple of nights and early mornings I’ve been fantasizing about a very peculiar idea.

It comes by way of to ships that have been and are still important in my childhood. One is the S.S. United States, which me and my parents were aboard as we came to America and the other is the Ship-Ashore in Smith River, which is home to a museum and gift shop.

In this world I’ve made up, I’ve somehow managed to drag  the 47,300 ton luxury liner nicknamed the “Big U,” some 2,500 miles from it dry-dock to the middle of the Nevada desert. Once secured, I turned it into a sand-bound casino-resort and hotel.

Sometimes, one really needs a far out dream…

Obit

Sitting in the morgue, with all the previous day, months and years of newspapers, I was working on my 10th or perhaps 11th obituary of the day.  It was quiet and I had everything I needed for possible research on whoever’s passing I was chronicling.

Liz came in with a cup of coffee for me, something that happened once or twice a day. She sat down on the wood stool next to my cramped desk and sipped at her coffee cup as I typed away.

“Why do you go to such great lengths?” she asked as if in mid-thought.

“What do you mean?” I asked in return.

“Well, you spend so much time writing about someone who’s dead,” she answered, “and they’ll never see your hard work.”

Looking over my horn-rimmed glasses, “I do it for the living, too, you know.”

There was a few seconds of silence between us as I continued to type and Liz continued to sip. Then I thought to add, “It’s like writing a mini-biography, a last hooray for a person who can’t do it for themselves.”

“Yeah,” she retorted, “So who will write your obituary when the time comes?”

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” I laughed.

After Liz left, I sat there thinking — who would write my obituary?

Spirit of Christmas Present

It was jus’ a few minutes before midnight, Christmas eve. My relief, Neil, had arrived and placed his backpack down on the table between the talk-show studio and the large window facing outside.

We were in the middle of talking about shift-change and I was updating him on top news stories and such when we both saw his backpack rise up about an inch and “jump off” the table. We both looked at the bag, then at one another with astonishment.

“Did you see that?” Neil asked.

“Yeah,” I answered, “so you saw it too, then?”

“Uh-huh,” replied Neil, adding, “I really don’t have time this morning for the Spirit of Christmas Present.”