Monday, September 27, 2010

Musings from a park bench

Forty-six minutes from my hotel room to the visitors entrance. A walk, a subway, a walk across the Seine, a tramway (we'd call it "light rail" in the States), a walk, and I'm there. McDonalds looked like a 20 minute queue, so did KFC. Before you go all "you're in Paris and you're looking to eat at those places?!", take a look around. I didn't budget an hour to ninety minutes for lunch. The hardest thing to get in a restaurant in Paris is the check, second only to some attention when you sit down at the table. So here I sit in what can best be described as "the smoking courtyard." I have about an hour to kill so I decided to write this. Not my most efficient use of time ever, but I'm grateful that it's not raining.

Things I've observed: although Sodexho is doing a fine business operating corporate cafeterias across the USA, at least there is evidence that Cushman & Wakefield are in charge of leasing some French office space. That's probably a fair swap, all things considered.

What do I hear right now? Renault diesel vans driving by the office buildings, a steady drone of highway noise echoing from the steel and glass office buildings surrounding the courtyard that I am dawdling in. Airplanes overhead, hammering steel somewhere toward the Seine; perhaps on that island in the middle of it that looks to be another place for more office buildings. Sorry, I had to power-off and power-on my Blackberry. Despite my best efforts to solve the problem using various techniques offered by Blackberry Curve trackball sufferers across the country, it finally refuses to scroll up. Now if only I had some confidence that my local T-Mobile shop would solve the problem. Guess I'll have to finally return it when I am home from this trip.

I had a rough time sleeping last night. A bunch of things running through my mind that I need to let go of.  Much easier said than done. A friend reminded me, "Eye on the prize," a few days ago. I had the opportunity to share that bit of encouragement right back yesterday. I had to chuckle at the response; "It's a whole lot easier to hear that when you're not sitting hip-deep in it, isn't it?" Sure is.

And yet, it's the only thing that we can control; where we set our attention. So yes, then I start arguing with myself: What if I seem disinterested, or if I miss an opening because I'm trying to stay focused on The Main Thing? I just have to trust that He'll nudge me at the right time, or I won't be completely clueless. Thing is, I'm pretty good at "completely clueless".

I think I'm almost ready to move on from this valley. Ok, I'm more than a little ready. Last year I knew that I wasn't ready. Same with most of this year. I probably won't be completely ship-shape until next year, but I don't get to chose the timing.

Someone asked a question on Twitter the other day. My answer was simple; Expectations. I wanted to pair it with Patience, but really, if your expectations are in order, you've already got patience sorted out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What is the PGR?

I get this question a lot.  It usually goes something like this.  "What did you do today, Mike?" "I got up, went on a PGR mission, then just worked the rest of the day." "PGR, what's that?  Mission?"

We are the Patriot Guard Riders, a loosely-held group of motorcycle riders who gather when requested by the family of a fallen U.S. Military service member to stand in their honor out of respect.  Although many members of the Patriot Guard are retired and active duty U.S. Military, many such as myself, were not able to serve this country in the military, but choose to ride and stand out of respect for the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our military and their families.  Some PGR do not ride motorcycles, either, however they are just as active as any other PGR member.

There is no "membership". No roll call.  No dues, and no official "oath" or "code".  The Patriot Guard is not a motorcycle club.  The PGR, however, has National and State leadership and an annual Gathering of the Guard.  This year, the Gathering of the Guard will be hosted by the CenTex PGR, in Killeen, TX.
Lady Thunder and I in a PGR escort. Photo by @MarineMajor
Because of where I live on the North side of Austin, I typically participate in "CenTex" and "Austin" missions.  What is a mission?  It's simply a term we use to define an activity where the presence of the PGR has been requested.  Emails go out, and we show up at missions as we can.  Not all missions are funerals or memorial services.  The PGR is quite often requested to attend "Welcome Home" celebrations for returning service members; from a battalion to a single service member.

Standing for a veteran. Photo by @MarineMajor
On Saturday, the PGR stood for a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran in Georgetown, VA. We formed a flag line at the funeral home, escorted the hearse to the cemetery, and formed a flag line again for the graveside memorial service.

We come. We stand. We go. It's such a small sacrifice of time. We're simply honored to be there.

P.S. The photos in this post were taken by my friend, @MarineMajor.  He maintains two excellent blogs; Standing for those who stood for us, and Vietnam from the back seat of a fighter-bomber.  The first is a sort of chronicle of PGR missions to which he participates and the second is a chronological publication of his "almost daily diary of the eleven months I (he) spent in Vietnam".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Surely Incomplete List

Today is #blogathonATX, and in honor of this auspicious event created by @IleenieWeenie and hosted by the pioneering folks at @Conjunctured in the "Vortex of Awesome" (Austin, TX), I figured that it's about time that I make a list of some of the things that have floated through my head about potential blog posts that have clearly never made it to press. Here we go, largely unfiltered:
  • God matters
  • Politics matter
  • Love can be hard sometimes. Love needs to be hard sometimes.
  • You're not all that, you're just loud
  • The Emo Gal
  • The Emo Guy
  • (repeat last two with "insecure" in place of "Emo")
  • (redacted)
  • It's not about you, it's not about me, it's about us (Texas, America, World)
  • Entropy Is
  • I completely disagree with you and think your point is full of crapola, but I love how we debate because neither of us uses "crapola" in the debate.
  • Texas is just, different, and here's why
  • I'm a Mac AND a PC
  • I love my daughter
  • I love my son
  • I love my family (I'm talking about YOU, Ohio Neumanns)
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Why I say "I'm a spy"
Ok, you get the picture. Just start writing, Mike.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Well it's about time.

Some of you, and a handful of people outside of "online" life, have encouraged me to get in to writing. Tonight I took a friend up on an offer to sit in on a writing group here in Austin. I kind of knew what to expect, and it was exactly as described, except that I was surprised how much fun there was in the challenge of it. What a great group, with a patient leader. If you know me, you may know that I don't exactly gravitate toward the "creative writing" crowd when it comes to hanging-out time. I doubt I'll ever check any of the same boxes as these folks do when it comes to election day, but what a genuinely supportive group when it comes to writing. Like in sports, you have to leave the world on the sideline when you enter that room and let yourself exercise with words a little bit. There was "hmmm"ing, there was laughter, there was silence.

I'm looking forward to next time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Up in the Air" is a lead baloon

I fly. A lot. It's essential to my job. I fly a lot on American Airlines. For those two reasons, only, I went to see "Up in the Air" on Saturday night. What an utter disappointment. I had read very little about the movie, other than seeing zillions of ads plastered all over my "usual" airport haunts; AUS, DFW, ORD, and JFK and the various Admirals Clubs. Yes, the movie was clearly an advert for AA, Hilton and Hertz.

I really can't imagine what AA was thinking in being such a big part of this movie. "We know why you fly" is their tagline that they display prominently on jet bridges and elsewhere. In the movie, they had replaced that slogan with "We value your loyalty" or some such lame slogan. Clearly, their real-world slogan didn't match the movie, and here's why.

The lead character has an empty life. His self-professed life goal is 10,000,000 miles. His family barely knows him, and yet, in one of the only redeeming moments of the movie, he warms up his future brother-in-law's cold feet on his wedding day.

Just when you think Clooney's character has it figured out, he didn't have a clue. Bammo!

So, to wrap this up, don't bother with it in the theaters. DVD, maybe, if you feel like being disappointed in a movie. And again, American Airlines, what were you thinking? What was the positive in this movie? Your presence was distant, corporate, and awkward.