Saturday, August 15, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night......

and suddenly, through the driving rain appeared a small, sporty car that wheeled into my driveway and stopped abruptly in front of the garage. Out stepped my visitors for the evening, the contentious and always interesting Ranger ( along with his sidekick and co-blogger, the estimable Miss Lisa.

Their arrival wasn't a surprise. They live only a couple of states away and we'd long been discussing an in-person meeting. At least one such planned encounter fell through a couple of years ago, so I was pleased we were able to make it happen this time. Our visit did not disappoint. Ranger is about what I'd gathered from his body of work, a big, tough guy—in every way what one would expect from a fellow with his military chops—but also someone who, unlike many of our contemporaries—has continued to grow in his post-service days. I like to think I've done the same and I must say it's a real pleasure to be in the company of such a man.

Lisa is also about what I expected. She's slight, perhaps even frail-looking, but is also tough as nails. She doesn't let Ranger push her around, and she sure didn't let me do it. She's a formidable woman and is also a pleasure to be around. I always find these women of my daughter's generation to be very interesting. They're the first generation of women that grew up without many of the stereotypes of the past; they were accordingly able to take advantage of many educational and employment opportunities previously denied them. I hate to generalize, but from what I've seen, the women are often turning out better than the men, probably because they're more focused and more aware that one has to fight for one's rights.

They both have very interesting life stories, but I'll leave the details to them. One of my favorite expressions is, "There are eight million stories in the big city" (if you watched TV crime dramas in the 60s, you should remember that one), something I originally adopted as a sarcastic rejoinder to a whiner or to someone making excuses for poor performance, but it's also appropriate when observing the infinitely rich stories possessed by our fellow humans, or at least by most of the thinking ones. I got two such stories a couple of nights ago and was fascinated. I now know a lot more about what makes Ranger and Lisa tick; presumably they know the same about me. I think this will aid us in understanding each other.

The point I want to make here is that I find this whole area of human life experiences and behavioral patterns particularly relevant to what we're trying to do with this blog. This all began with a military blog, begun by an Army reservist lawyer, and it's now morphed into something much different. At those times when I may start to feel somewhat frustrated because we seem to be straying from that military-centric ideal, I catch myself, realizing how enriched and refreshed I am by hanging out with my co-bloggers and those who take the time to make comments. Something else I'm finding as well: I'm getting a little bored with much of what's in some of the long-running popular military blogs. "Yes," I find, it's really kind of neat having some talented folks whom I trust discussing something other than military issues. So I like our
"doctor, lawyer, Indian chief," approach. I think it may wear well over time.

We discussed myriad topics during our evening together, which included dining alfresco on grilled chicken and consuming adult beverages (Ranger and Lisa are light drinkers, so I did most of the consuming) on my patio, which, fortunately has a large protected area. I'm not going to get into a lot of detail other than to say that I think we're of like mind in most important areas. As old soldiers, Ranger and I of course had to go through our military backgrounds and see if we had any friends (or enemies) in common. Actually, when one thinks of how large the Army is—and it had a lot more troops during our time than it does now—it isn't really surprising that we each toiled away at the same time without ever running into each other or having friends in common. This is even more understandable when one considers that each of us dwelt in a small, insular community essentially closed off to Big Army. To get some good insight into their thoughts, I suggest perusing Ranger's excellent web site. Neither he nor Lisa is exactly shy about letting one know their thoughts.

I guess bloggers getting together isn't all that uncommon, but this was the first time for me. It was very gratifying to find that even while the mysteries of these folks I'd deemed admirable from afar were being stripped away, they became even more admirable in person. I hope I get a similar opportunity to meet the rest of you some time and I expect the same results.


  1. Nice looking place you've got there, Publius. No wonder Ranger and Lisa were willing to pay you a visit. Sounds like it was a good time.

  2. Publius,

    Nice post. No surprise to see that it looks like you live on a golf course!

    I really like the picture - it's quite compelling for some reason I can't quite figure out.

  3. Great post, Publius. Yes, it is grand to spend time with cyber acquaintances. I think that one thing military service imbues in us is the value of friendships.


  4. Wow, Jim, what are you 7'2"?
    And I love that smirk on Lisa's face, too.
    I find humor in the old guards trying see if they have common friends or enemies in any organization. I tell people where I used to work for [defense contractor] they ask, "hey, did you know [fill-in-name-I've-never-met]?"
    My response is usually, " Sorry, it was a huge company of 40,000+ people and I was in a very, very small area that didn't see a lot of people."

    Some day Al, I am going to visit your island...the idea of watching a sunset in the Med on a Greek isle sings a poetic song to my mind...I'm sure if GhostDancing was here s/he would find the right song for what I'm thinking of...s/he's pretty good at that.

  5. Sheer-

    There's a Parian sunset at the end of the YouTube video on this page from the Rally we organized here. Perhaps this will encourage you even more!


  6. OK - the link's fouled up somehow. Here it is in plain text:

  7. The main thing that I enjoy in reading this blog is the class and eloquence of both the authors and the commenters.

    Publius, Lisa and Ranger, you've addressed the major drawback of the internet. The ability to face others who use it to communicate. Cool.

  8. It was a great pleasure meeting you, Publius. You were a splendid host, and every bit as eloquent and insightful as I had imagined.

  9. Publius,
    I think I've developed a tail since I left your house. Have any of your other visitors had the same experience?
    Seriously it was a treat and I look forward to future encounters.
    Sheer, I was 6 3 1/2 in my prime. I'm now 6-3 due to compression fractures and degeneration of the spine.
    The degeneration of my attitude is less easily measured.

  10. Look at you gregarious Easterners! Sounds like it was a good time for all, and, for the good of the order, anyone here travelling through Portland is welcome. We don't have the golf, though, unless you connt the variety with the little wooden windmill.

    My last physical turned up a 1/4-inch shrinkage, and my doc recommended a bone density test. I think it has something to do with menopause. Sure explains why I, too, am pretty cranky lately.

  11. Chief,
    Are you saying that I am cranky?
    And if so ,is it that obvious? Thanks for the thought, I'll have a density test also, I just assumed my problem was physical injury.
    My home is always open to our friends on RAW and MILPUB. These are not idle words, usually I don't have overnite guests as I have no guest room , but we'd make do. I still have horse stalls for mortar and arty types.

  12. No, Andy, I don't live on a golf course. We don't have a golf course in our small community of about 300 people (when built out, it'll be around 500). There are plenty of golf courses around here and we saw no need to pay a premium to live with duffers slicing drives into our back yard. What you see directly behind my place is a lagoon, which even comes equipped with its own gator, although he or she (it's hard to tell) hops around from lagoon to lagoon. BTW, if anybody living in gator country ever tells you they know exactly how many of those prehistoric beasts they have in their community, they're seriously misguided. Gators are slippery critters and, since they don't wear nametags, one never knows.

    Yeah, Pluto, it is a nice place. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but there is a pool and spa. It's the old age home and we went all out. We had a pool in the SF Bay area, but it's not necessity there. We deemed it essential here, in this stinking hot, miserable summer climate. If anyone ever tells you the summer weather in the Southeast is comfortable, ask 'em what they're smoking.

    Ranger, maybe you got the tail from me. In this, I'm reminded of my old man, who always said that seeing as they were closer relatives of the apes, my mother's brothers all had tails. I once asked my Uncle Dick about this; true to form, he immediately dropped trou for my inspection. A gruesome sight indeed, but I didn't see a tail. There were six of them, four boys and two girls, all now gone. My mother and my Aunt Kate were the oldest and they always shook their heads at their brothers. When my mother remarked that of all the 20 something kids of our generation, I was the one just like her brothers, I was honored. So maybe I've got a tail as well.

    All: Ranger is one big dude. He towers over me. I used to be 6'2, but now, it seems I'm no more than 6'. This happened to all of the men in my family on both sides. I'm still taller than the average bear, but standing next to Ranger made it clear how much I'd shrunk. Also, while I'm discussing Ranger, I want to dispel any notions that he's cranky. He's soft spoken and an excellent conversionalist, clearly housebroken. What I think drives Ranger is an acute sense of betrayal that's left him wondering just what it was all about.

    Ranger is an American and he's disappointed at how our nation has turned out. Me, too, and that's why I relate to Ranger and the rest of you. We should be better.

    I also hesitate to ask Ranger where someone like me would be lodged. Probably somewhere that involves a pup tent and a slit trench.

  13. As for me, I'd take it kindly if you'd let me know when y'all be flying over, and I'll be out to catch whatever you decide to drop.

    Publius, monkey tail or gator tail? I remember a Burt Lancaster movie, "The Swimmer", as he takes a dip through all the pools of his neighborhood. Maybe your overgrown lizard is the reincarnation.

    Al, toward the end of your video ( and there's a couple more Al has stored away on youtube ) there's a guy in a blue top, sunglasses, hands clasped behind his head in a hammock. I could easily imagine that's you.

    Jim, the first thing that popped into my mind after I saw the picture was Vincent Price.

    I don't suppose you sound like him? :-)


  14. BB,
    I once sat next to Vincent Price on a transcontinental flight and he towered over me. He flew non first class- can you believe that?
    You and Lisa think alike, she interpreted my TAIL comment exactly as you did. I meant that somebody was following me after leaving your home.:)
    We've discussed the J thing and will talk more on the topic later. In short Lisa agrees that she may be more so than am I.


  15. I've lived in the SE and can vouch for a pool, particularly a screened one like Publius owns. We didn't have one, as our house was 100 years old, but we sure wish we did.


    I think you live in the best region in the US. Once we are done with the military I hope to settle out west, hopefully in the Pacific Northwest.

  16. Andy: I do love it here, more than anywhere else I've lived. But I should say for the record that the numbers coming out suggest that this economy is well and truly jamming us. When you factor in the underemployed and those not even looking for work anymore our unemployment picture is Hooverian; 24%.

    I'm worried about my job, but - DAMN! It sucks to be us. At least as far as employment goes...

  17. Chief,

    Employment will be a big concern for us. AFAIK there aren't too many intel-related jobs up that way. My wife is a nuclear engineer which isn't exactly a field one can get employment anywhere. Of course there's Hanford, but I'd much prever to be on the other side of the cascades.

    A decision is still about six years off, so there is time for us.