Archive for the ‘personal observations’ Category

Inauguration Day 2017 – A Ceremony of Dignity and Inspiration

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

I observed an orderly transfer of power with only 30 days available for transition between the in-coming and out-going commanders. The former heralded for his leadership style and broad organisational achievements. The latter possessed of an accomplished career; selected with high hopes as an agent of change amidst a challenging and probable chaotic environment. In attending witness were numerous former office holders; family; friends; current and former staff; and visitors. Pressing affairs suspended to celebrate this tribute to and confidence in our nation. The power to destroy nations relinquished and adopted with the simply eloquent and traditional oath of office, i.e.

“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The departing commanding officer reports to the senior officer present that ‘he has been properly relieved.’ The new Captain assumes command; the former commanding officer returns to the rank of Commander.

And so proceeded the Change of Command ceremony aboard the USS North Carolina, SSN 777, a nuclear powered submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Commander Gary Montalvo was relieved properly by Commander Matt Lewis on Friday January 20th at 10 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time.

I wish that you could have seen this occasion. Even though individual achievement was recognized and individuals offered their personal points of view about the recent past and their ideas for the impending future, the occasion with its ceremony celebrated our nation, its purpose and the young men and women who quietly subsume themselves to an intangible and, clearly evident, greater good. The gravity of and the opportunity for the occasion is lost on no one present. Then we celebrated with a hamburger and ice tea buffet: proud to part of the ceremony; proud of our Navy; mindful of the greatness of our nation. Don’t let anyone at any level tell you otherwise.

A64C3104-58C0-48E9-97A8-9E0C277129F0

North Carolina crew cheering Captain Montalvo’s departure, “Go Tarheels.”

C6A3944B-45EC-41C1-8F01-BF190A016A99

Commander Montalvo wearing his gifts of good wishes.

4BF629DB-
SSN777Club Executive Director (me) with Commanding Officer, Matt Lewis

18AD553E-8DBE-49FE-B724-AE7609E81731

Americans Not Forgotten

2016 not 1865

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Executive summary by Jonathan Pie. Please note rough, Brit pub language, but no rougher than a presidential political campaign.

The stunning and also logical outcome of the presidential election coincided with several national anniversaries which modulate for me the Blues raving of apocalyptic certainty versus the Reds we-did-it, game-winning, end-zone Shimmey. It wasn’t only that Donald trumped Hillary. The nation, at nearly every level of government, told that level of government that it wants something done about the way that things are going, being communicated and How who is benefitting. What is to be made of the news industry, whose talents, resources and reputation are devoted to accurate insight of what is going-on, and so completely misidentified the will of the people that they “impartially” observe?

I believe that George Packer had it right in his New Yorker article published on Halloween.

On November 10 the United States Marine Corps celebrated its 241 birthday. Birthday greetings from their Commandant, General Neller, persuade me that there yet remains plenty of institutions valuing self-sacrifice, tradition and commitment to purpose.

On November 11 we celebrated Veterans Day. Before class in the Research Triangle Park, I asked 4 or 5 MBA graduates what does this day celebrate? Yikes! No one knew and the best guess was D-Day. Maybe we should rename it Thank You For Your Service Day which no veteran truly wants to hear because it is interpreted as ‘TYFYS while I was shopping at the mall.’ We haven’t experienced yet The War to End All Wars as was the ambition for the 11.11 at 11 a.m. armistice in 1918. I’m a proponent of national service for every young American. Maybe not military service and surely a ‘larger than the individual’ experience that introduces Blues to Reds, develops marketable skills and demonstrates the wonder of our nation as well as the need to preserve it.

November 19 is a special day for me. The older that I become, the more that I admire Abraham Lincoln. How did he do it?! Those Blues and Grays really did go to war. I’ve tried to memorize his Gettysburg Address delivered on 19 November 1963 and the near concluding segment challenges me.

Maybe it’s useful that I am not yet able to commit the Address to memory as such causes me to read and to re-read its hopeful admonition:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion.”

Now we have an immediate cause of our own. Its necessity may not be the preservation of our nation and it may be a time to nurture a renewed birth of freedom ensuring “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Try Again. Fail Again.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

I admire Stan Wawrinka. Seemingly doomed to be the foil to the magnificent Roger Federer. Like Andy Roddick and David Ferrer, a great tennis player and great in an era of the Olympian players Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and, certainly, Roger. Even when he won the 2008 Olympic Gold medal for Tennis Doubles, the story-line was that he was Federer’s partner.

GettyImages-603012098-1024x712.vadapt.664.high.18

I witnessed Stan in full form on the opening round of the US Open in 2009, the year that Del Potro upset Roger in 5 sets including 2 tie-breakers. Roger lost late and Stan lost early; also in 5 sets, also with 2 tie-breakers, also to a South American, Nicolas Lapentti of Equador. Roger defeated on centre court before an audience of 23,000+; Stan defeated on a back court of the BJK Tennis Centre before an audience of several dozen, although the Ecuadorian flag and soccer-style fans out-sung their size. When people ever ask about being at a US Open, I answer with the vignette that ‘you can get so close that I once handed Stan Wawrinka a ball at the short fence in the middle of a match (the Lapentti one).’

His victory over Djokovic in the French Open of 2015 followed by their late 2015 Davis Cup victory versus France – this time he carried Roger with the bad back – certified Stan as a top player and much less of Roger’s hitting partner.

Then came Stan the Man, the indecipherable signature tattoo on his left arm, the ugly shorts and the wonder if he had only partnered with Magnus Norman earlier in his career.

For the third year in a row, he’s won a Grand Slam tournament and now has 3 as does Andy Murray, by the way. Tennis fans are no longer surprised when Stan goes deep in a tournament and no one really expects him to come out on top often. After all, the magnificent four are still around with Murray on the rise, Joker in the driver’s seat, Roger and Rafa waning.

I didn’t believe that Stan would defeat Djokovic on the anniversary of 9/11. Tennis, to me is like all sports, respite from, much less representative of life and the affairs of living. Stan won in 4 sets; Joker wasn’t his normal abnormal self, although he played well enough to win the match. Stan was braver in the end. More confident. More determination. More backhand. Most honest about his nervousness just prior to the match and his conviction to fail better throughout the match.

Roger Cohen of the NY Times reflected on 9/11 in an editorial published on 12 September, the morning after Stan’s victory. He makes a point that we honor one another not by wallowing in the past but by honouring the future of the past. He even says it, “by failing better.” I thought that he had to know what is inscribed on Stan’s left arm although RC does not mention it. But I want to.

We have Stan with another late in his career Grand Slam victory; his credo published on his arm; the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and what that’s done or what we’ve become, if only temporarily, as a result = the choice between a Hillary and a Trump. As Roger Cohen suggests, it’s obvious what we should do. There is no need to wait for anyone.

9092f31c042ff6da7deaf72092f16b35

Why We Follow Sports and Revere Our Athletes

Monday, January 11th, 2016

For the Information of All Hands, the Hop to….An Xmas Greeting

Monday, December 28th, 2015

A note to my Naval Academy classmates, 23rd Company, recalling events 40+ years ago.

Christmas Leave commenced this past Friday about 1430 or 2:30 Deck 5-3, Bancroft Hall Time as I motored-out of the IBM Main Gate on Davis Drive. Retirees on contract are granted car privileges and a parking spot near the cafeteria. As I’ve been on duty (sales instructor for new MBA hires which recalls that summer of fire-fighting training in Philadelphia where HTC Gruff demonstrated how to apply a gooseneck in order to fight an oil fire in the bilges. As he ranted his words of fire-triangle wisdom, the flames licked-through the deck-plates which did not distract the Chief….until the hem of his kakhi trou began to smoke. We mids were amused as you might imagine and one of them still remembers what is a gooseneck) consistently since August, Friday’s end of day actually felt like the beginning of the Christmas holiday. It’s been an erratic year for the family with a step forward here and a step in retreat there, and kind of like the companies of wavering mids marching onto Worden Field, somehow we found the proper block at year’s end.

Last weekend for the Army-Navy game, our local Alumni Chapter mustered at a brew-pub in Chapel Hill owned by a West Point grad. Our 19th annual party with a near chronic Groundhog Day vibe for the Whoops. It’s fun and a respite to be with such a trustworthy and mixed crew numbering nearly 250. Amidst the beers and the buffet and the tv screens, we passed around a Mark 1, Mod 0 G.I. Ammunition Can, 1 each, at half-time to collect for the USO. Once upon a time we were thrilled to achieve $500 in collections; last week’s take jumped-over $4,200 and the truth must be told that the boozers in gray are the more generous. Maybe they’re making a sacrifice to their gods for a favorable outcome at least once in the 21st century.

“But still when two or three shall meet, and old tales be retold…”, the classes of 1958 through 2010 spun stories about them days of a Real June Week and exams AFTER Christmas Leave (so that you could take home in your B-4 bag and not work on your EN201 Steam Tables project). I remember 2/c Clawson 72 (Hopper, Laughter (pronounced Law-Ter not Laugh-Ter) and Clawson were my 2/c in first set of plebe year. How Sweet It Was!) advising the plebes at chow one evening that two weeks of leave was about right: one week to get away from the Halls leaving a full week for partying. Wisdom!

As I merged onto I-40 from IBM, I plotted my own two weeks of leave (before the next MBA Sales class in January) recalling that commencing leave in those halcyon days was one milestone and getting to where one needed to be was yet another evolution fraught with sand bars and drifting buoys. In my very first leave period after exams, January 1971, I hitched a ride to Friendship Airport (now BWI) with David Treppendahl of Mississippi 74 who was hitching a ride with a firstie in his company, aka BeepSlash 71. We piled into his Datsun 240Z in the Mid Store Parking lot after the Wednesday evening exam (English majors always had exams done by the end of the first week of the exam period) and set sail for Baltimore. Netting this out 12 o’clock report-like, the firstie (I called him the dumb sob for about 35 years) got lost on the way to Friendship so that DT and I missed our 2200ish Delta flight to New Orleans. We racked-out in waiting room chairs at Friendship until the 0830ish flight the next morning. My mother met me at the NOLA end of the trip presuming that my sallow eyes and disheveled appearance were the results of maltreatment at USNA. I told her that ‘Dan Rockwell is my squad leader so that we would be impossible’. She did not catch my drift and suggested that I rest when we returned home.

As I put the helm over 15 degrees starboard to join the Durham Freeway, I remembered those ‘hops’, the free, space-available flights from Andrews Air Force Base to nearly every location in the world except maybe where you lived. Was there ever a more disappointing 1MC announcement then “For the information of all hands, the hop to …..XXXXX…… has been cancelled.” Of course, there are tales of planes loaded with mids headed for Omaha or Los Angeles only to suffer mechanical issues requiring hours of delay or eventual cancellation, but such news via the halls IMC had to rank with going C-A-C on the previously mentioned EN201 course (I know a mid who suffered this. Lt. Prof said that ‘anyone can have a lucky day taking a test.’ I prayed nightly for his orders to include Port Services Officer in Bahrain after a tour as Main Space MPA on a very old CV).

disabled-veterans-benefits-military-hops-800x800

And when I think of ‘hops to hometowns at Christmas Leave’, I recall the story of the midshipman, and only he can verify this story as it may be someone else’s story or not even a story at all, whose hop to an Air Base in a remote North Dakota town hung in there/remained on the manifest until the bitter end. As the casualty list of hops to larger and more familiar naval stations and Air Force bases was updated on a daily basis, this one to the south of Canada hung in there like the lone plebe scaling Herndon. Until the afternoon of the day that the Brigade left for Christmas Leave. “For the information of all hands, the hop to Minot, North Dakota has been cancelled.” Certainly, the announcement was repeated, but the damage could not be increased.

It seemed that as soon as the fabled 1MC clicked-off, Midshipman Miller flashed down the hall with B-4 and AWOL bag in tow – it looked as though they were chasing him. Now this is the part that I don’t know, so either I have some of the facts or I invented all of the facts and I’ve told this part of the story for years: that Miller got to the 6th wing parking lot; there sat one of the revered Diamond Cabs from Baltimore trolling for a fare; that said Midshipman tossed gear into back seat; barked that he would pay $20 to get to Friendship by H-Hour (the departure hour of a flight to Minneapolis); relevant to the urgency of the matter was that said flight’s take-off was only an hour away from the moment Miller began to board the Diamond Cab; you may also wish to note that $20 was quite the sum in the pre-inflation 1970s; hearing of such a bounty, the Diamond Cab EOOW hit the gas creating sparks from the midshipman’s Corfam shoes sliding on the gravel as he jumped the brow; word is that he made the flight on time.

I could be misinformed about some or all of this tale; nonetheless I repeat it with confidence whenever opportune, e.g. over beers with the class of 00s at an Army game. The tale or fable is well received by all as it validates a heritage of risk, clear thinking under pressure, elegant resource management and an unquenchable desire to succeed. May we all be cut from the same cloth is the hope. Next time that I tell or make-up this story, I think that I’ll add that most of the hops were props. One has never enjoyed air travel until one knows the experience of sitting in cargo webbing, freezing under a blanket, vibrating one’s way at 400 knots, wondering if that vehicle in the middle of the cargo-hold was tied-down the way it should be by that stoned air crewman sitting across from me.

As I pulled into my driveway on Friday, it occurred to me that I too should have taken a Diamond Cab instead of hopping aboard that firstie’s ‘free ride.’ After all, a day of leave, as Midshipman Clawson would surely have advised, had to be worth $20.

7769757610_418365094b_b

Merry Christmas. Independent muster is granted to all for the worship services of your choice.

746773

The Value of an Evocative Narrative

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

Enjoying a consulting contract helping recent MBA graduates enter the realm of enterprise / large corporation sales = selling IT to big companies. The final week-long module of 4 comprises exercises in story-telling both written (proposal) and delivered (presentation). The seemingly innocuous narrative of a barrel, bricks and a rope with perfect pauses and well measured delivery becomes a tale worth repeating 50 years later.

In Obtuse Memory and Honor of John Paul Jones: a letter to Naval Academy classmates

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Disclaimer: contains references to time and jargon long past.

We just elected our board of directors for the local alumni chapter with representation ranging from the classes of 1974 to 2010 (I can hear the the clacking footsteps of the Grim Reaper chopping down the passageway near the mate’s desk) including grads from 80, 81, 87, 93, 08. Such a gathering divides the brigade into interesting demographics such as all-male Academy or the University of Navy; summer cruise destinations; mile run or not; steam vs gas turbine; Isherwood and Melville Halls; June Week or Commissioning Week.

Do you recall that as President Richard Nixon delivered our diplomas on that stage in the stadium and that the custom at the time was for each acknowledged company to offer a worthy collective comment. I remember that one company threw cassette tapes into the air. When 23rd was announced, only soon to be Ensign David Sharpe arose and clapped insincerely.

Related to 1971 graduation, I remember the stern warning issued to the Brigade by Admiral Coogan, Commandant, that ‘if you did not like the cut of a man’s jib, then you are obligated to tell him so in person.’ He referred to the standing-boo that Rolio Golez, 23rd company, received from the Brigade at his graduation in June 1970. Mr. Golez, Brigade Boxing Champion for 4 years, heads the PI Alumni Association Chapter. From the self-promotion at his Wikipedia site, I’m trusting the wisdom of the Brigade.

As our alumni chapter alums relayed vague memories of the final days on Severn River, I mentioned the good deal / red ass of completing exams then heading home for leave…then heading back for June Week. The collective response was, “we didn’t have leave after exams, we had Dead Week.” D E A D W E E K !!!! I exclaimed. I had not thought of or heard of that term in ding ding ding 46 years. Hell on the Hudson! D E A D W E E K !!!! Then the untagged valve of related memories, which hadn’t seen a PMS check in 4.5+ decades, unwound and out drained recollections of Drag Houses, June Week rentals, girls from Hood College, ladies from New Jersey, Wagon Wheel Restaurant, a locker somewhere in some wing of Bancroft Hall where we were supposed to stow our gear for the summer, the smell of starched TWLs, the eyeball liberty in T-Court of the drags dressed for spring near the cannons behind the Brigade Staff at formation, the p-rades for the tax-payers, the Ring Dance and the incremental, nearly contrary to every theory of relativity, the seemingly reverse passage of time. June Week was like the First Circle of Hell. Get me out of here. D E A D W E E K !!!!

1414703560-14833-1407

BTW, Yorke Warden, at the end of Youngster Year, tried to fake-out the ‘stow your gear for summer movement order’ and sent all of his clothing and uniforms to the laundry & TSP on the final day in the halls. This is not an HO. His laundry bag occupied nearly the entire two man desk. Clever was he until the return of the Brigade in September, his gear was nowhere to be found nor delivered. He had to submit a long, lost laundry chit where he was invited to the laundry facility outside of the Yard where he was able to introduce himself to the OiC at the Laundry who wanted to meet this wise-ass. Yorke got all of his gear back.

I’m still talking about D E A D W E E K: Mary Nadolski set me up with Betsy Walters of Hood College during this June Week just before second class summer. She was great and we had a great time at some drag house on the other side of town, Eastport or such, which was like a set of islands that one only heard about but never actually saw because the only transportation we had was on foot and usually up and down West Street.

Unfortunately, town libs ended at midnight for Youngsters and we were on the other side of town at about 11:45. Making muster looked highly improbable. Plus, we were drunk. I also recall that Bob Fretz was one of my running mates for this escapade which is odd because Bob and I never hung-out. We got to the center of town near the sailboats and before that market was built, realizing that All Head 2/3 was insufficient and that more steam was needed. We still weren’t going to make it back to the third wing in time. A green, Oldsmobile 442 pulled up with an upperclass mid at the helm offering our crew a ride back to the halls. Piling into his car, he navigated around State Circle, down Maryland Avenue to King George’s Street. As we turned right on King George’s Street, the road was a sea of red tail-lights making little headway. We’re were definitely not going to make it back to the Halls in time. Editor’s note: I had just been fried 50 and served my 10 tours for returning late from DC one Saturday evening. ’50 more’ I thought and suddenly dear Betsy didn’t seem as attractive as she did about 3 beers ago.

We tacked down King George Street only fast enough to maintain headway. We were going to be fried. Without encouragement or question, our upperclass helmsman/OOD, executed a sudden left rudder, right rudder maneuver that put the Oldsmobile 442 in the opposite lane of traffic, heading down the up lane or driving on the side of the road that would have seemed familiar to every British driver. Then he punched it i.e. all ahead full; the four barrels of the 400 jumped on-line and we began to pass the other vehicles in their stationery queue. We could not believe his audacity; we were thrilled; we were wide-eyed as we arrived at the head of the line. The Jimmy Legs waved us in; we motored to the entrance near the Mid-Store and scrambled up the ladders to the company area in time for John Goodrich or George Fessler or other naval hero to mark us present for muster. I don’t know how Betsy got home, although we did continue to date so she didn’t run-off with the knight in the 442.

To this day, when I think of bold action, taking a risk, the foolish courage of youth and He Who Will Not Risk, Shall Not Win, I smile in the fondest recollection of that unknown, unmasked man flying down King George Street.

Best for Memorial Day. Let’s remember all of those who’ve gone before us who, in little and large ways, helped us get to where we all needed to be.

1972_oldsmobile_442-pic-40606

The New & Improved Stan the Man

Monday, June 8th, 2015

8a99e90f-cfb5-44f7-93f7-0189f340382d-620x413

I’m kind of sorry that Djokovic lost yesterday’s match for the French title which would have fulfilled his quest for the career grand slam. I really hated to see Roger lose to Stan earlier in the week. In the end, great for Stan, good for tennis and a superlative example of tenacity and sportsmanship for us all.

A first serve percentage of 67 accompanied with 60 winners is even too much for the great defender and returner, Novak D, to withstand or is it With-Stan?!

In watching the match, I admired their sense of fair play, desire to win, vivid mutual respect and, especially, the prolonged recognition of Novak by the audience as he accepted the Finalist and Runner-Up trophy.

I believe that we admire our sports heroes because they can be examples of diligent sacrifice in the pursuit of excellence. Indeed, Stan and Novak are athletically gifted individuals; their singularly unique achievements are founded in commitment and persistence. I cannot wait for Wimbledon.

Blue Pane Studio Produces App #75

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Artsplosure 2015

Artsplosure is Raleigh’s nonprofit art and cultural events production studio. We are curators, collaborators and risk-takers dedicated to fulfilling our mission of bringing rich cultural experiences to the community we serve. With each of our events, we hope to inspire and entertain, inform and celebrate, create and share.

Grammar School Plus 10 + 10 + 10 +10 +10

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

There is a seeming urgency to the pending 45th reunion of my high school. It’s certainly my own concoction as I realize that we’re more than half-way through the reunion cycle mainly because a 90th is pretty unlikely. In a separate post, I recited the selection process of Jesuit High School where 90+ rising eighth graders (we didn’t have this term then. I think we said, “I’m going into 8th grade.”) were permitted to attend Jesuit as pre-freshmen.

About 15 of us were so selected from Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School based upon performance in an related entrance exam. While considering this admissions process and its implications for my adult, I counted that this year is the fiftieth (I cannot write the number) anniversary of the year that I left Holy Name for Jesuit. So, I’m at the mid-point of today and just before the Russian Revolution. You know, the presidency of Woodrow Wilson; when my grandmother was 9.

I’m sure that I could come-up with 50 Jesuit recollections. I’ll begin with 10.

1. Jesuit High School is a montage of streetcar rides, touch football games at recess and living for dates on the weekend with Mount Carmel girls or any girls. #FarhadGrotto

2. My homerooms were S-3, 12, 2B, 3B, 4B. Of these lots of young and younger boys, who became what is hardly a surprise as I believe that when you know someone in high school, you know that person forever. Are Jack Neville, Mike Farrell and Mike Casteix really gone?!

3. I failed French in my sophomore year. The misdeed that probably pushed me over the edge was that I copied many or too much of John Cooper’s answers in our library exam room only to meet him in summer school. The summer session teacher, Gary Medina, was not fond of me and my streectcar-buddy, Jimmy Colomb. By only a few points, I passed the summer make-up course and JC failed the mark. At the Naval Academy, I earned 5 As and 1 B in 6 classes of university level French. #TheMorelock

4. Our Senior Year Graduation Party was organized, i.e. money collected and tickets sold, at an apartment complex in the French Quarter. At 11am on the morning of, the owner forbid such a party as he saw us packing one of the bathtubs with ice and beer. Fortunately, Mrs. Casteix let us use her home in Gentily that same night. #Pettingill #RoomKeyIntoPool

5. #4 caused me to miss a baseball team practice which put the coach at his wit’s end with me. I was kicked-off the team. #MissedStatePlayoffs #MasperoRandoMisuraca

6. Every time that I think of the narrative of my life and how it could have turned-out, I am grateful for the endorsement of Assistant Principal John Rice, a commander in the Naval Reserve. I had no plans for college until we spoke at graduation. #MunicipalAuditorium #PowerBlueTuxJacket #NotLSUNO

7. In hindsight, how good and patient were most of my teachers. Joe Dover, Jimmy Breaux, Mr. Ruffino, Father Leininger, Mr. Steckel, Mr. Canton and Father Koch.

8. I had to be the most misfit cadet (sic) in the JROTC program. It used to make Colonel Boehm USMC furious if he caught us walking down Carrolton Avenue not wearing our Marine covers (hats). #ButItsNotCoolSir #NavalAcademyAlumPresident

9. Jere Peterson of the Jesuit class of 1969 shepherded me through my first three years at the Naval Academy. He was clever, well-liked and so had the system there misdirected. Stunned at his suicide.

10. How the Lakefront seemed far from Uptown with Jesuit at Mid-City. Actually, my New Orleans world was such a small segment of the city and its population as my 9th Ward cousin in New York likes to remind me. #CameliaGrill #Valencia #PontchatrainBeach