Monday, February 20, 2006


Someone once told me, "Take care of yourself and the universe will take care of you." Although greatly oversimplified as logic, there is a universal truth about it.

Over the last 2 years and 7 months I have not been sick. Let me rephrase that. I have not called out in that long of a time.
I have come in looking like death warmed over on high 5 minutes in the microwave, but I refrained from calling out sick. I don't know why I am so stubborn about it. What am I trying to prove. When I come in sick I just piss off all of the people I work with. I quickly lash out, "where do you think I got this from?' Not that this is the right train of thought either.

Along time ago when I was younger I use to call out, a lot. If I wasn't feeling good or just didn't feel like it I would report to the medic station. Something was always hurting. Why run 6 miles if you just didn't feel good? Then one day I got sick, real sick. I was in quarantine for a week. Later for another reason I was sent away for some further medical tests and looking at the possibility of knee surgery. I had an ephiphany, I felt that being sick was a lousy way to get a day off. I just wanted to be better again.

When I entered back into civilian life I developed a new work ethic, work as long as you can for as hard as you can. You'll never know when it will all be taken away from you. Your work is your identity and you are judged on how you apply yourself. Since that time I have gone the opposite way. I have come back to work just days after a surgery. I have come into work with a fever of 102. For awhile the madness would not stop. In some ways it continues.

Last Friday I got the aches and chills, I started coughing and got a runny nose and a fever, yet I stayed at work. This weekend I was just knocked on my ass by the flu, even then I continued to do chores and do some work from home. When I came into work today I could barely breath without sneezing or coughing. "You look like and sound like shit, " and with that my boss sent me home. I guess I haven't learned yet. I just want to work hard, no matter what.

I'll stay home when H5N1 hits, we all will.

The Manbag

My last briefcase was getting old. It was time to retire it. So the hunt for the perfect bag began.

I remember once seeing the President land in Marine One and thinking wouldn’t it be cool to own the same bag that the nuclear launch codes are contained in? Not the exact same bag (which would be impossible) but the bag from the same company. Despite an exhaustive search which entailed contacting numerous governmental department and several intelligence contacts I was thwarted in my attempt to gain “the football” I was told that a bag that was fire and bullet proof would be out of my price range and was told to look for something more civilian.

Last Christmas I received a briefcase from my wife, rather nice briefcase I may add. It was the newest version of my old Tumi bag that was old and tired.

She agreed to replace my last bag that she got me that lasted about 15 years and went and got me a Tumi fold-over computer brief for work.

As soon as I stepped into the office that week after the holidays the comments from colleagues, subordinates and supervisor started.

“Nice purse” a coworker commented

“Metrosexual tool bag” stated my officemate

“What does exactly one put into a man-bag?” said my boss.

The last comment led me to think, what should I start putting in this thing?

As soon as I got it I transferred everything from the last case into the new one.

Tumi of course makes a fabulous product and has some features that are both convenient and handy for the use.

As a bonus my wife got some small stocking stuffers that would go along with the theme of the gift. A small mini Mag flashlight with biteplate, a small LED keychain light and a mini micro tool that includes pliers, a file, tweezers and a knife. I added a Surefire G2 Nitrolon flashlight, the beam cuts through smoke, it’s waterproof and the body is virtually indestructible (one can never have too many flashlights).

Some of the features on the bag that I observed:

A water bottle pocket – the pocket is lined to protect against leakage to other compartments and has a drain hole in the bottom in the case of a water bottle or thermos blowout. This feature merited a quest to find the perfect water bottle for the pocket. After searching high and low I selected the Nalgene 16 oz bottle. Normally the 32 oz bottle is the standard fare for most outdoor types but the pocket would hold nothing larger that the 16 oz size bottles. Captain Tippy Cup was the latest comment received at the office as a result.

An expandable umbrella pocket – despite living in Phoenix, Arizona last year had proved to be quite a wet year comparatively speaking thanks to El Nino and the Pineapple Express from the Pacific. Having an umbrella handy has kept me looking civil unlike my wet-rat counterparts at work and school. However this year it has not rained here in Phoenix for over 120 days, so for now, it’s just extra weight.

Business Card Pocket – seeing this prompted me to immediately order some business cards. My wife some years ago had given me a sterling silver business card case with a Frank Lloyd Wright design on it. The case now sits proudly and snugly in the briefcase. Occasionally I remember to hand them out.

Headphone port – There is a small opening that allows you to thread your headphones through so you can leave your MP3 player in the bag. Despite owning an iPod I really don’t use this feature on the bag. When I use the iPod I just take it out of the bag.

The Office Group
I don’t use a laptop at the moment but do keep a large 9 x 11 organizer with me at all times. It’s large enough to occupy the space where a laptop computer would go. I use the large organizer and the Franklin Covey system to organize my work and personal life. Even though I really advocate the use of computers and technology, nothing out there can beat go old analog type organization for day-to-day tasks.

The List:
In the Main Compartment:

Full size day planner/organizer
Prescription glasses & case
Sunglasses & case
Compact folding umbrella
(Three band ham transceiver)
4 X 5 Moliskine journal & Fisher Space Pen
Manual for Ham Radio

Tumi Pencil Case consisting of:

Glue Stick
Collapsible scissors
Tiny stapler
Small inkpad
Date stamp
UFO eraser
Black Sharpie
Red pencil
Micron pens .01, .02, .05 & .08
Black warrior pencils
#3B Staedtler Mars pencil

For some strange reason I went on a bent to fill the bag with things that I may need in the case of an emergency. This really prompted even more comments from coworkers.

The Survival Group
Being the ex-paratrooper and eternal Boy Scout I carry a few survival supplies with me at all times. In my travels they have come in handy on occasion.

I carry two different kits in the bag, one for survival and one for first aid.

The first aid kit is made by Adventure Medical and contains the following:

1.Aloksak® waterproof bag, US Navy certified to 200ft
1 Splinter Picker Tweezers
3.Safety Pins
2.After Bite® Sting Relief
4.3X3 Sterile Dressings
4.2x2 Sterile Dressings
1Non-Adherent Sterile Dressing (3x4)
1.Conforming Gauze Bandage
2.Butterfly Closure Bandage
3.After Cuts & Scrapes® Towelettes
4.1x3 Adhesive Bandage
2.Knuckle Adhesive Bandage
1.Tape ½" x 10 Yards
1 Moleskin (7x4)
1.Tincture of Benzoin
2.Antibiotic Ointment

The survival kit was inspired by The SAS Survival Handbook by John Lofty” Wiseman. It’s a comprehensive survival kit that has come in handy over the years on travel, in the city or in the wilderness.

The survival kit contains:
Duct tape
Button compass
Purification tablets
Snare wire
Flint & striker
Hacksaw blade
Fishing kit
Sewing kit
Safety pins
Wire saw (with finger loops)
Condoms (non-lubricated, for water storage)
Survival instructions
Signal Mirror
Water bags
Single edged razors
Butterfly sutures

What’s even more amazing is that all of this fits into an Altoids tin

I also have an emergency space blanket in one of the pockets just incase someone around me should go hypothermic.

Kenwood TH-F6A
I get quite a few strange looks for carrying around a ham radio. It hangs on the outside of the bag and is conspicuously placed with 2-meter antenna sticking up. But when I saw this one it really did an impressive amount of things. Kenwood really did a great job on this radio. Aside from being a three-band transceiver over 144, 220 and 440 the radio has wide receive capabilities. Police, aircraft, television, regular radio and emergency weather can all be monitored from this little 2 x 3 x 1 package. I’ve used it at work to get severe weather and tornado reports and while traveling. One day as two supercells merged and approached overhead one of my peer managers said. “Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea” as the NOAA report about the impending thunderstorm and possible tornado spewed out of the tiny speaker.

The other day I came under close scrutiny from a gas station attendant. He fired off questions quickly and expected answers quickly as a test and gauntlet of truth.

Gas Station Attendant: “What’s in the bag?”
Ed: “Stuff”
Gas Station Attendant: What kind of stuff?”
Ed: “Guy stuff”
Gas Station Attendant: “You mean that’s a guy purse”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Then what kind of stuff?”
Ed: “Business supplies, survival equipment and a few electronic toys, still a purse?”
Gas Station Attendant: “You keep your cash in there?”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Credit cards, coupons or any kind of hair product?”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Okay then.”
Ed: “Fill up on number 3 please.”

Son of Manbag
But if the manbag were not enough, there’s more. Now there’s schoolbag. I’m back in school during the day and because we don’t get lockers I haul all of my textbooks and resources in a rolling pilot’s chart bag.
There is a pass through pocket on the manbag that the handle from the schoolbag fits right through. As I roll along on campus people think that I am either a teacher or a well-dressed homeless person.

Man Sporran
Now on the weekends because I spend most of my time in running togs I often get sent on a random chore to the supermarket or the hardware store. But because my running clothes do not have pockets I had to buy the equivalent of a modern day sporran…a fanny pack. It’s just large enough to fit my wallet, keys, flashlight, Fisher Space Pen™ and a small knife. Nobody at work has seen me so other than the strange looks that I get from people in the market and Home Depot I have not received any comments, yet.

Hmmm…maybe I should get a real sporran. But as my Scottish actor, kilt-wearing friend Scott Cleverdon has told me there is no such plaid as Hunting MacFlores.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The One that Got Away

As most of you know I use to work in Hollywood as a Post Production Supervisor for a music video production company for about 4 years. I had done quite a bit of work in that time but there were very few projects that I was really ecstatic about saying that I worked on. I think that the “Don’t Treat Me Bad” video for Firehouse and “Forever” for KISS were two highpoints because they were both popular songs and at the time they were my favorite on the radio.

Our sales Director one day ran around streaming that Geffen wanted to redo the music video that was shot while Aerosmith was recording “Tell Me What it Takes.” I was in absolute amazement, finally a song that I liked by a group that I liked.

Mark Rezyka (he also directed Girl School by Brittney Fox and C’mon Feel the Noise by Quiet Riot) went into the standard procedure and wrote a concept to be passed on to the group, manager and record company. It was reviewed and rejected in short order.

I went into a depression afterwards. I liked Aerosmith and had been a fan since the 7th Grade (1976).

Wayne Isham of The Company went on to direct the video for “Tell me What it Takes” shortly after the bidding process was settled. While the video got some rotation it seems like the original footage that was compiled for the original unofficial video got more airplay on MTV so in a way there was never really a music video that was made.

A couple of days later Mark Rezyka stopped by my desk and dropped off his backstage pass. He had it signed by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton. I sat and stared at it in a quiet amazement. It was an unwritten rule in that when working in Hollywood that asking for autographs and pictures was strictly forbidden. Despite working with a plethora of musicians, directors, actors and such It’s one of the few signatures that I have and I treasure it to this day.

Letters from Moe

Imagine being 12. You write to your favorite TV personality. He writes back. You write a second letter. He writes again and for the next 6 years you correspond with 28 letters and multiple phone calls ultimately leading to a visit to the stars house.

Well for Bob Burnet that dream came true. Over the years he corresponded with and got to know the #1 stooge, Moe Howard.

You can see all of the letters and photographs collected at his website

It’s an amazing story.

Don Morris, I Kicked you in the Head and for that I am Sorry

I’m usually pretty honest about things. I don’t lie because I think that it is wrong and I’m pretty bad at it. However omission is something entirely different.

About 17 years ago when I was in the Army we were returning from a field exercise from Germany. We were set to jump back in a small-scale tactical airborne operation. As most of you know some years back I was a paratrooper.

I was normally nervous or scared on all of the jumps, but on this jump in particular I was more nervous than normal. It was my last jump and I was scheduled to end my tour of service with the military. Nobody wants to die on their last jump.

Troops are placed 64 at a time onto the C-130s, half on one side and half on the other. I was the last man on my side of the plane, which meant I was going to be the first to jump. Looking across the ramp I saw my good friend Don Morris was also the last man on his side of the plane.

Standard procedure is for the person on the right side of the plane to exit upon seeing the light and the person on the left is to be slapped on the back of the leg by the jumpmaster.

The light went green and out of my excitement and nervousness I just jumped out into the void. I was on the left side of the aircraft, I was supposed to have waited.

Mid air it felt like I slammed into a car. Something hit me on my lower back and I felt the back of my boot ricochet off of something. The main chute then deployed and the noise and frenzy of the fall transitioned into silence as I floated to earth with an easy landing.

When I looked over my good friend Don was sitting up, hunched over and bleeding from his nose and mouth. His rucksack was still attached to his reserve parachute. He failed to deploy it prior to the landing, resulting in an even rougher landing than usual.

“Dude, are you okay, what happened?” I knowingly asked having just put everything together in my mind.

“I don’t know, something hit me up there.”

“Sorry about that, ” I said as I slinked away.

Unfortunately Don was the first man out of the right side of the plane. He did the right thing and jumped as soon as the red light turned green. Because I was overly hyped out in the moment I did not do what I was suppose to do. We exited the aircraft simultaneously and slammed mid air underneath the C-130.

I feel bad. I do feel sorry. I never told him.

Maybe someday he’ll just read the blog.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Supreme Bean

For Christmas Jill got me a great coffeemaker. With the new maker all you have to do is put in beans, water and filter, push the button and voila! Out comes the best coffee in the world. Any fresher than that and you’d have to chew the beans and gargle with hot water.

Prior to that we had one of those Black and Decker coffeemakers that you can buy in the grocery store. We’d buy coffee by the can for the in-laws when they’d visit and occasionally I’d have a cup. Something was just not right. I knew that there was something better out there. Since Folger’s is to coffee what Schlitz is to beer, I had always wanted to try something better and get into higher quality coffee.

About a year ago someone at my work was generous enough to share with me some coffee that she had acquired on her last trip to Belize. She buys the beans by the pound from the distributor and grinds them up just before brewing. This coffee is good…a little too good. If I’m ever put on death row please ensure that I get a cup right around the time I receive my last rights.

Recently I let Patty know about the new coffeemaker and asked to buy a pound of beans from her (okay so I begged a little).

Now I have an inside source for the world’s best beans and something else to add to the list of things to take with me in case I am ever stranded on a desert island.

Life is good and on weekend mornings I get to enjoy a fantastic steaming mug of joe.