Dec 082012
 

In the spring of 1994, I joined the U.S. Naval Reserves. In June of that same year, we remembered the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings, called D-Day. It was a very memorable year for me. As I reflected on the individual sacrifice of the D-Day events and World War II in general, it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked a one very important question. I realized that if I didn’t ask this question soon, I may never get a chance to do so.

A few weeks later, I was sitting across from my grandfather at his favorite local diner. While we were waiting on our meal to be delivered to the table, I took the opportunity to ask my question. As I brought a cup of coffee to my mouth, I said, “Got a question for you?” He looked at me, a bit more focused and said, “Sure”. After downing my sip and returning my cup to the table, I looked at him and said, “Where were you on December 7th, 1941?” After I asked that question, you could see it caused him pause. His normal demeanor had changed to a much more focused stare that could only mean, he was mentally going back in time with my words. With a slight smile, he raised an eyebrow slightly and said simply, “I was in a guy’s car”. Then he took a sip of coffee and went on to describe the events that followed. My grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor but had left December 1, 1941. He had just begun what was supposed to be a thirty-day liberty and was headed home for some much needed vacation. My grandfather had arrived at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christie, TX and had begun to “thumb” his way toward Houston. He said, “I was sitting in this guy’s car and we were driving. The windows were down slightly and we were just listening to the radio. Then the announcement came over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

Original Pearl Harbor Attack Radio Emergency Broadcast from Washington D.C.

I asked for a more specific location. He said, “We were about in Victoria when we heard the news. I said, “What did you do then? He replied, “I continued on to Houston. I got there and kissed your grandmother and your mother. We said our goodbyes and I started working my way back to Pearl. Your mother was only 11 months old at the time.”

My grandfather reported back to his command at Pearl. A few months later, a couple of men showed up at my grandfather’s house in Houston. They were there to arrest him for failing to sign up for the draft. My grandmother said, “You’ll have to speak to his commanding officer. He’s serving on a destroyer in the Pacific.” After taking down a little information, they tipped their hat and went on their merry way. You see, my grandfather lied about his age when he joined the Navy. I believe he was 16 at the time of his enlistment. He had been in the Navy for about four or five years by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked.

My grandfather was a surface torpedoman on a destroyer. After Pearl Harbor, my grandfather petitioned his command for a release from the Pacific fleet so that he could go fight the German U-Boats in the Atlantic fleet. His repeated requests were denied. During one battle in the Pacific, my grandfather was manning a machine gun on the deck of his destroyer when Japanese Val (dive bomber) dropped a bomb down the stack of his destroyer which exploded and sent shrapnel flying. Luckily, it didn’t sink his ship but it severely crippled it and injured my grandfather. I asked him what happened next, he said, “Well, no one was running toward me to help me, so I figured I’d better just keep firing the machine gun until I was relieved.” I was soon relieved and then sent stateside for some medical attention. While I was in the hospital, my transfer for the Atlantic fleet was approved. After I healed up, I reported to my command in the Atlantic fleet. I produced my orders and my packet to my commanding officer. He was seated at a large table with many other officers. The skipper of the boat looked at my paperwork and then said, “Gentlemen, meet the luckiest man in the Navy. Petty Officer Denson, you missed Pearl Harbor by only six days and the Battle of the Coral Sea by only 10.” My grandfather said, “Yes sir.” The Skipper looked at him and said, “Son, when you leave…bad things happen. You’re never getting off my boat.” With that statement, my grandfather was attached to his commanding officer’s boat for the remainder of the war. He would fight many U-Boats in the north Atlantic as they protected shipping lanes between the United States and Europe. He was even responsible for the sinking of one U-Boat in particular. The boat in question was sitting shallow but submerged. They had dropped a lot of depth charges on it. At one point, they saw some items floating to the surface. He said that it was apparent that the boat was “playing dead”. He remembered from his earlier training manuals that you could steer a torpedo downwards by simply removing the tip and hand tightening the large hand screw that was beneath the cover. My grandfather presented that option to the skipper who approved that procedure to be undertaken. They tightened up that screw and fired another torpedo. This one his its mark. He said that it was very apparent that it was a direct hit and that it wasn’t them “playing dead”.

My grandfather remarked that he often had nightmares like many men returning from battle. I doubt his generation ever sought any kind of mental health care to treat the post traumatic stress. They just dealt with it in their own ways. I’m happy things have changed in this regard. I’m sure there were many who could have used that support had it been available.

Jul 222012
 

The three poisons that Buddhism speaks of are these: Passion, Aggression and Ignorance. I believe apathy falls into each one of these. Passion about not caring. Aggressive in not sharing. Ignorance in way that the individual is hurting themselves. It’s very hard to sit on the bank of the river and see your emotions floating by on the passing rafts and not say or feel anything. It’s hard just to feel. You’re tired of being hurt. You’re tired of trying only to fail. You’re tired of not finding that happiness you seek in life. You realize that success you have has come at a price and that loneliness is what you feel when you come home. Apathy just breeds such deep emotions and helplessness. It’s an ugly place to find one’s self.

A friend of mine once told me that apathy was slowly killing him. His apathy was his suicide. He hadn’t realized he was committing suicide but in fact, he was. He had become apathetic about his life, his health and his relationships. It wasn’t until one day that a very good friend of his used his health as an example. He said, “Like you, you’re 30 lbs overweight, and so am I, we’re both going to die from a heart attack if we don’t take care of ourselves.” It was at this very moment that my friend realized he was killing himself. He hadn’t really looked at it as suicide but he certainly wasn’t living for anything. He wasn’t looking down the road in happiness. He wasn’t looking forward to getting up each day. His relationship had drifted into separation and then divorce. His love for others felt very muted. He was, in fact, nothing more than a walking corpse looking for a place to rest.

It is in these dark corners of the soul in which bring your own enlightenment. It’s not being afraid of the dark scary places and not running from the feelings that got you down this path. Its accepting these places and the lessons in which they teach. This is the what you are and what you’ve become. The lessons you are learning are guiding you down the path you will surely take to get out. You can’t get out of the dark alley until you’ve learned your lessons or your time in the alley would have been poorly spent.

You know, I used to joke about this word. I’d always say, “You know, recent studies have shown that recent college graduates have become ignorant and apathetic.” “I don’t know what they’re talking about and I really don’t give a shit.” After hearing this story and walking down some paths I have found in my life, I doubt I’ll be sharing this joke again.

The places that scare you often bring the biggest lessons. Look forward, not back…Up and not down….Feel what is in your heart and then you’ll truly learn something very special in your life.

With Metta,

JD

Jan 252012
 

The alarm clock sounds and you, puffy-eyed and mildly shocked, roll over to slap the snooze button in a desperate but futile attempt to make the room quiet once again. Rolling back to your warm spot in the bed, you snuggle back under the down comforter and begin to adjust to the shock and chill of the morning. Your eyelids are batting much wider than normal as your eyes try to adjust to the blurry view. After a few calming moments, the inevitable sound of the second alarm stirs you into action and reality kicks in. Turning your alarm off, you now begrudgingly push the covers to one side and sleepily stumble towards the bathroom, slightly chilled and now rubbing your eyes as you let out a really loud and wide yawn. Your day has begun….

With the dawn of your day, most don’t really appreciate the fact that they woken up on this side of the dirt or outside of the urn. We just begin our normal routine. It’s at this moment we need to become mindfully aware. Aware of what you say? Aware that you have to be at work in an hour or that the kids have overslept and will miss their school bus? No…mindfully aware of the gift you have been given….this thing we call life with the power to make choices based on awareness. There are many people on this fine morning that didn’t get to hit the floor running with a chance to make life better for those around them or for themselves. Your awareness is key to living a life that is worth every moment that you have been given on this planet. Becoming mindfully aware of everything takes a lot of time and I, for one, am no where close to mastering this feat. I’m just making it a point to increase my efforts and thus increase the amount of awareness that I have each day. You know, I’m really tired of being angered by the idiots that are driving in front of me or that make stupid decisions as they commute to work. I’m also tired of spurting out some obscenities to them as well. Are they suffering or is it me? I will tell you that indeed it is me. It’s my heart rate that increases and my anger that burns. What I should be is appreciative of these idiots for giving me opportunities to develop more patience or maybe there really are guardian angels and they’re using these idiots to keep me from a pending accident. Whatever it is, whatever causes you to lose focus or awareness, one should use this opportunity to refocus on this thing called life. I think the best advice I’ve ever read on maintaining a mindful awareness would be from a Thai man named Ajahn Chah. He lived in the forests of Thailand and taught around the campfire. On one of these nights, he passed along the following advice to his students. It sums up what mindfulness is all about to me.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

- Ajahn Chah

If we look at these five simple sentences and read them over a few times…the wisdom of an old man really shines through for all of us to ponder. What if we just slowed down our lives enough to ponder our thoughts before they become words. This awareness gives us the power to break the chain of the events that cause suffering in our lives. How many times have you said something that you’d love to take back? Being aware of your thoughts before you make them words can reduce a whole lot of suffering in your life. Stopping negative thoughts before they become words and thus actions will prevent us from developing habits and destroying our character. When you do that, you’re building a character that will become your destiny. Think about it, what if all of us were mindfully aware or at least tried to increase those qualities in ourselves. Maybe on the day we falter, someone else will not and thus will give us opportunity to stop the habit nature of our lives. Then we can become mindful of all that we do.

What then? When mindfulness takes over our lives, we make good solid decisions in our lives. We then become the peace we hope to see in this world. We then become truly, mindfully aware. We might really look at the damage we’re causing by our actions. It might be supporting an organization that we don’t really agree with or buying from a store that really doesn’t support our ideals. Maybe we’re eating poorly out of convenience rather than making a healthier lunch or eating responsibly? If we buy out of convenience rather than mindfulness, you’ll see a reduction in those little stores we adore in our hometowns and then the larger corporations taking control of our little towns. Without mindfulness, we become slaves to our actions and those around us rather than being the change we’d like to see in the world. I challenge each of you to take a few moments and become mindfully aware of your thoughts and try to stop the negative ones before they become actions. Be thankful for those around you that cause you angst because they help cultivate patience. Maybe we can truly be aware of those you love and listen like never before. Just imagine what a wonderful place this could be if we were all just a little bit more mindful in our daily lives.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought today. Now that you know more about mindfulness, you know it is a choice. Now you’ll understand me more, each time I say, “MAKE it a great day”.

Be well and love one another.

Sep 112011
 

September 11, 2001 was a wonderfully still, crisp and clear day. When I arose that morning, I walked outside of my hotel room and peered over the railing to view the Delaware River. The view was so calm and peaceful. A small patchy thin layer of fog was still visible on the water. I exhaled at the peaceful sight and was given such a lovely gift when I saw my breath for the first time since spring. Growing up in the southern United States, one relishes the first cool days of the approaching fall in only a way that a person growing up with extreme heat and humidity can appreciate. Inside my mind, I had a private celebration; then I leaned my roller bag over and began a happy stroll toward the lobby of the hotel. I had to fly on this wonderful day. As I was walking, I thought to myself, “Life is good”.

That day began like any other day. I arrived to the airport on time, had my cup of coffee and checked my paperwork. I was to be evaluated by one of my company’s line check airman. Line check airmen annually check the performance and standardization of airline captains while in the performance of his or her duties. This was to be a routine flight from Philadelphia, PA to Cincinnati, OH returning on a revenue flight after a 40-minute layover in Cincinnati.

My flight departed Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL) at 0800 EDT and arrived in Cincinnati, OH (KCVG) at 0957 EDT. During our trip, we were given no information about the events that had occurred. When we were twenty-five minutes from landing in Cincinnati, we heard our first hint that something was wrong in New York. A Delta Airlines flight had just departed from Cincinnati and was climbing to cruising altitude when Air Traffic Control (ATC) advised the crew that they would need to return to their departure airport or go to their designated alternate airport. No reason was given. The crew told ATC that they needed to talk with dispatch about it and they would get back with him shortly with a decision. ATC then advised the crew to make a decision as soon as possible because they were nearing New York’s airspace and would be turned prior to entry into that airspace. When queried about what was going on in New York, the controller simply stated, “New York is having some difficulty today.” The captain that was evaluating my performance raised an eyebrow, as did I. Together we hypothesized New York must have had a radar outage. In our minds, we figured we’d be stuck in Cincinnati for an additional four hours while the whole mess was straightened up.

We landed in Cincinnati and as we exited the runway we saw a line-up of aircraft. This wasn’t common for Cincinnati and after our check list procedures were complete and we were parked. We inquired about the delays going back to Philly. We were told that all air traffic had been suspended in the United States until 1700 local. We then asked what had happened. We were told, “A plane hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon”. We were absolutely in disbelief. We didn’t believe what we had been told and were looking verify that story when the ramp agent meeting our flight hurriedly made his way to the flight deck and told us, “You need to unload this airplane as quickly as you can, crew included, we’re under an alert and the entire concourse needs to be cleared.” The passengers disembarked with no message from us what had happened because we were still sorting through all of this information. We shut the airplane down as if it were going to be remaining overnight and then evacuated the concourse with the rest of the occupants. I looked at my crew and said, “This could get ugly. We should get a hotel room as soon as possible”. They agreed and we hurriedly walked over to our hotel that we normally spend the night and secured our rooms.

The first voicemail I received was from my best friend and also an airline captain. He called from Newark, NJ to inform me that he was looking across the river and that the “Twin towers” were on fire. My cell phone then began to ring incessantly. I called my girlfriend, mother, ex-wife and other friends to inform them that my crew and I were safe and in Cincinnati. I was getting so many calls I finally changed my message on my cell phone to say “My crew and I are safe and in Cincinnati, OH, please leave a message or call me at the following number?.

We spent the rest of the day surrounding the television in disbelief at the surreal experience. Feeling grief for those affected and lost. This hit us in the airline especially hard. To me, a former fire fighter and now pilot, I was personally affected on two fronts. We sat in front of the television still trying to learn anything new that we could find. Trying to sort out what had happened? Who had done this? Why had they done this? Curious as to what our response would be. Wondering what our special forces were doing and praying for their safety. My crew and I just sat, as America did, stunned and in disbelief.

I ended up spending a few days in Cincinnati and I had not packed a bag nor had I brought my charger for my cell phone. I was only expecting a round trip flight totaling four hours, not four days. In the hotel, I frequently sat alone with my thoughts. In June of 2000, I was divorced. I had surrounded myself with my career and was working as often as possible. I was happy to be a pilot. When my wife and I had split up, I said to myself, “At least I have my career”. Then, with the news reports flowing across the airwaves and the concern that the airlines had about the future, it became clear that I might not even have a career. I thought to myself, “What do I have then?” Then the realization hit me; I had narrowly defined my life. I began to search for a greater truth and found it. I was one of the fortunate ones in this career field to still be employed but my heart goes out to those we lost in the industry that day and to those who lost their jobs.

Friends, I send you my thoughts of peace and happiness. I ask you to define yourselves by the strength of your character and compassion of your actions. Realize that nothing is permanent. Furthermore, realize love and compassion are the greatest gifts of all. Love each other and embrace one another as if today is your last. Help everyone you can and listen to your loved ones each day with a focus like never before. Do this and I promise that each day will provide a warm and loving embrace to the present moment. We so often forget just how precious this moment is. We are often too distracted by the menial tasks at hand that we forget to smell the flowers, feel the wind and love each other. Take the time, give of yourself to your loved ones, your community and your charities. Make a difference and be a loving addition to this world.

My story from the 9/11 digital archive. Reprinted from my original digital archive on file at http://911digitalarchive.org/parser.php?object_id=4332 . This microfiche file on the Internet is hard to read. I wanted to preserve this for myself and share it with you.

Aug 292011
 

Taipei, Taiwan
August 2011


View Larger Map

The Scooters Rule the Road

In a stark contrast to Guangzhou, I could easily live in Taipei for a year. What a great city! There are numerous restaurants that I’d like to try and the people have been very warm and receiving. The craziest adjustment would be getting used to the traffic. The traffic just makes me laugh, albeit nervously. Imagine you’re in a cab and you pull up to a red light. Now imagine all the the scooters, approximately 60 or more, begin to fill in all of the available space around your taxi. They speed along between the curb and your car or race down the white dashed line that separates each lane. It’s no wonder so many scooter fatalities occur here in Taipei. As the light changes, everyone begins to move forward and the scooters take off first. Then the taxis and other vehicles gun for space. Speaking of the open space, if you see it, grab it. If you’re going to hit someone, they will yield. That seems to be the norm here. Surprisingly, there was very little honking. I can only imagine the colorful metaphors that would come out of a New Yorkers mouth if this were to happen in Manhattan.

Typical Morning Commute

Sharing the Road

Aug 292011
 

Guangzhou, China
August 2011


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I approached my visit to Guangzhou with some skepticism. You and I have both read about the human rights issues within China. We all remember Tiananmen Square. On my first visit, I wanted to let China speak for itself as I looked at the Guangzhou and the people from within their borders.

After we pulled up into the gate, we made our way to immigration. There was a bit more apprehension as we gave up our passports and submitted to their paperwork validation. In the back of your mind, you realize your saying to yourself, “I really hope I haven’t made any mistakes because I really don’t feel like spending the night in a Chinese jail.” Paperwork complete, we made our way to the curb and located our transportation to the hotel. The drive from the airport begins down this very well lit but lonely road. It’s a divided highway with yellow lights that shine over it. The lights are far enough apart that there is a little shadowed area between each light post. The misty sky made it seem a little more dreary than it might have appeared on another day. We pass a few bicyclists on the road. Mind you, it’s around 2 AM. By American standards, you ask yourself, why is this guy on his bike at this time of the morning? It seemed a little odd as my mind refocused on the drive ahead. The car was now beginning to snake through a few townships. It was easy to notice that there is but one “class” of people in the Guangzhou area. The living conditions all seemed to be very similar in appearance. Our drive didn’t take us through any neighborhood that appeared to be better or worse than the other. That said, I didn’t see a place that was deplorable but I didn’t see one where I could feel like settling down either. We made our way to the hotel and checked in for the night.

Street Vendor

The following day, I meandered around Guangzhou a bit. I took my camera but didn’t really feel inspired to take that many photos. I’m a people person who is rather addicted to coffee shops and starting conversations with complete strangers. I love exploring a new area and learning more from its people. Whether this be in the States or traveling abroad, I can usually be found in the thick of it. Guangzhou wasn’t like this at all. I didn’t see any coffee shops. The people weren’t as “approachable” as they had been in Japan. They almost seemed leery to talk. It makes one wonder if it is a crime to speak with someone from another country. As I would approach others, I nodded with respect and smiled to others that were passing. I can’t say that I saw this returned very often. It was one of the craziest feelings to be surrounded by this many people and to be as alone as you can feel. I never felt as if I was in danger. I was just a stranger in an fascinating culture. Like being in a roomful of doors without a single key, I wanted to explore so much but didn’t have a way to unlock the trust that was going to be required. The last thing I wanted to do was to put the people in harms way. If there was a rule about talking to foreigners, I certainly didn’t want to push the issue. The people seem okay with their lives but I didn’t see anyone overjoyed or acting playful. We saw this often in Japan.

After a brief walk around the city, I decided to return to the hotel. It wasn’t a bad day to walk around but it certainly wasn’t an experience that I’d like to repeat often. This experience helped me further appreciate the freedoms that so many of us take for granted. For instance, on BBC today, I heard a Chinese dissident was just released after having served prison time for writing an article that was critical of the Chinese government. We are truly blessed in the States. We have a lot of things we take for granted. We must do everything within our power to make sure that our government never strips us of our freedoms. We must never waiver on our Constitutional rights because we certainly don’t want to become what I was witness to this week.

Aug 252011
 

August 26, 2011
Osaka, Japan

From my limited exposure to Japan, I can say the people that I’ve met have been exceedingly gracious and helpful. It’s rather humbling. I’ve always done my part to help a confused traveler back in the States. Now that I’ve been one of those confused travelers abroad, you can count on me going even further in my efforts to assist those lost souls back in the States.

My first stop on this Asia/Pacific trip was the Tokyo Narita area. I thought we might be closer to Tokyo itself but in fact, we were approximately a fifty-minute train ride into the city center. If you look at the map below, you’ll see a little marker on the eastern side of Tokyo. This is the Narita area and you can see why I didn’t venture into the city on a short layover.


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I might have been swayed to explore more if the weather had been more cooperative. The skies looked a bit angry so I elected not to walk around with my camera in hand. My crew and I did wander from our hotel into the Narita area at night. It was quaint area with little shops and restaurants all packed neatly into the winding streets. The sidewalks were practically non-existent. The cars and trucks we saw were all very small and boxy by American standards. The drivers drive on the left side of the street and steer from the right side of the car. It’s safe to say, I’m happy we didn’t have to drive ourselves around in this area. I’m sure I’d feel a little odd shifting with my left hand and steering with my right hand.

Yesterday, we flew from Tokyo Narita to Taipei, Taiwan and then returned to Osaka, Japan for another short layover. The view from my hotel was probably the nicest thing I saw in Osaka.

Osaka

The weather has been much more cooperative than our Narita day. The skies are a little cloudy and the air a bit humid but it feels nice. I went walking around the Namba area in the morning. The people were just starting their commute to work. As in most large cities where space is in short supply, I’ve found the people to be a bit more distant than in the smaller cities. Osaka seems to be as congested as New York. One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I line myself up on the right side of a sidewalk, much like you would drive on the right side of the road in the States. The Japanese drive on the left and thus naturally line up on the left when they walk on the sidewalk. Thus, I find myself consistently realigning to the left once I realize I’m on the right. This does take just a few minutes to notice. By the way, the bike riders around here are insane. I’ve been bumped and cut off by these guys and I’ve only been here for 24 hours. One guy turned right in front of me and only missed me by six or so inches. It’s really insane. Once I navigated through all of this mess, I found a little coffee shop with a menu that a “round-eye” could read well enough to make an educated order. This is the first time I’ve been in a country where I couldn’t read the language. I now have an appreciation for those with reading disabilities back in the States. At least those in the States speak the language, something I cannot do here in Japan. Thus far, my smile has been working and I’ve yet to get into any real trouble. I did walk into this one building and immediately was escorted out by a security guard and pointed in the direction of my hotel entrance which was just two doors down. What can I say, it looked like the entrance to my hotel.

As mid-day approaches, I find myself hungry once again. It’s time to venture out and get into more trouble. Tonights flight will take us from Osaka, Japan to Guangzhou, China. I’ll be there for two-days. I’m not sure what awaits me but from what I understand, I won’t be able to tweet or facebook while I’m in China. Hopefully I’ll be able to Skype and blog. Time will tell. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you’ll understand why.

Aug 242011
 

Where the east meets the west

While flying my first international long-haul flight last night, I had the opportunity to cross the International Date Line for the first time. This is literally where the east meets the west. Where longitude 179.9 W meets 180.0 E. We approached this little line from the east. We departed Oakland and were headed to Tokyo’s Narita airport. While doing so, I was plotting my charts to make sure our navigation was a precise as it should be. As I was plotting a point, I opened up our chart a little bit more to the south and was a little stunned to see that we were just 1000 miles north of Hawaii. I had never been this far west before nor had I been this close to Hawaii. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states and Hawaii is the last on my list. Had I not opened up my chart a little further, I doubt it would have sunk in a deeply as it did. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. A thousand miles from land and nothing but the open water ahead. Then I saw a little line show up on our navigation display. It was our alternate, Midway. There are a few places on this earth where such a decisive battle has taken place. In the civil war, it was Gettysburg. In the battle of the Pacific during World War II, it was Midway.

When I was growing up in this small town in northwest Arkansas, history was just something you read in a book. It was just a series of dates that you had to memorize and the overall significance was somehow lost on me at that time. It wasn’t until I moved to the northeast that history really started to sink in. When you live in the northeast, you’re literally surrounded with history. From the cemeteries that have the revolutionary war heroes to the alleys where George Washington and Thomas Jefferson literally walked. From the battlefield of Gettysburg to the First Continental Congress, you are literally surrounded with history. I remember Gettysburg. It was probably the first time that history really hit home. Learning about the 20th Maine division and how pivotal their holding of the left flank was for the country. Sitting on that ridge and realizing that I was in an area where the fighting had gone from bullets to bayonets. The 20th Maine had called for reinforcements and were told they were on their way. They were instructed to hold your position at all costs. They did. There were no reinforcements coming. If they had failed, the union would have been flanked and probably would have lost that battle and possibly the war. Just imagine where we’d be now if that had happened? Midway was that battle in the Pacific. It was one of the largest naval battles in history and we were victorious. Here I was passing just 600 miles north of it. I realize I haven’t visited the island but then again, just seeing it on my map was enough to spur me into researching it even more.  It’s a place that I must visit one day. A place that I already appreciate but that I’m sure a visit would somehow help me understand a little more, the sacrifice that was placed on the men of our armed forces.

Where are some of the places that interest you?  Do you have any historical places that you’d like to visit? What draws you toward that particular place?  If you don’t mind sharing with me and my readers, I’d enjoy hearing about it.  Perhaps one day I could visit it as well and maybe even appreciate it as you do.  If you feel inspired, I’d be honored if you’d share it with us.

Make it a great week!

JD

Aug 222011
 

Hello…..yes, it’s me once again. Please don’t act shocked, you knew I’d return to blogging at some point. Lately, I’ve had to focus too much on work thus my blogging and photography had to take a back seat on the priority list. After two training events, I’m now in my new window seat, camera at the ready, exploring our world.

Within the next twenty-four hours, I’ll be taking my first flight across the Pacific. I’ve never been to the Asia/Pacific region before. Prior to this trip, the only places I’ve traveled were in North America and a short trip to Switzerland. That said, I’ve been to 49 of the 50 States, three Canadian provinces, Mexico and the Bahamas. This will be the first trip that I’ve taken with a true cultural change. I guess some would say that Switzerland was a cultural change but that will seem like nothing in comparison to Asia. If all goes as planned, I should be spending anywhere from 30-48 hours in each of the following cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Guangzhou, Taipei and Hong Kong. The total trip will take 12-days starting from Oakland and returning to the States through Anchorage.

Feel free to take the journey with me, I’d love to read your comments and take any suggestions you may have. If you know of a good place to eat, some place you’ve always wanted to see or know of some historical place that shouldn’t be missed, please let me know.

Talk to you again soon.

All my best to you and yours.

Jun 192011
 

My father was a Presbyterian minister for over 20 years. On July 7, 1992, my father suffered a massive heart attack and spent the next week in ICU until his passing on July 13, 1992. At some point during this week, someone found the following prayer that was still in my father’s typewriter. This is a prayer of confession that is normally read in unison during a Presbyterian service. When life is too busy for my liking, I try to remember this prayer. I consider this prayer to be my father’s parting advice and a fitting tribute to him on Father’s Day.

It took him 54 years to realize the lesson in this prayer. It is comforting to know that he finally “Got It”. For those that may wonder why I live my life the way I do, maybe this will provide a little insight. Make it a great week and take time to slow down a little and reflect.

Eternal God our Lord:

We confess that we so often serve a false god named Work.

We race around, always busy, frantically trying to complete every single task, with never enough time to do it all.

We fall exhausted into bed at night, not ever sure where our heads are, and therefore not quite sure where You are either.

Forgive our enslavement to busyness, O’ Lord. Let your peace and grace cover us like a soft blanket.

Remind us that we are not saved by our own efforts, no matter how diligent, and that You have put control of all things under the feet of Jesus Christ, Whose life and work have saved us all.

In His name we pray,

AMEN

Jim Durden
1938 – 1992

A prayer written for his congregation to have been delivered on the twelfth day of July, nineteen hundred and ninety-two.