The thoughts of a writer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kudos

I would like to take this moment to send kudos to President George W. Bush.
After only five years in office, he has said something that made sense.
People should drive less, in order to save gas.
Who’d a thought it?

It reminds me of President Jimmy Carter, who asked us all to conserve energy back in the 1970’s. Perhaps we should have listened.
What happened to change that?
Oh yeah… now I remember. It was Reagonomics.

That makes sense, because last time the USA financed everything, Ronald Reagan was President. Still, George W. Bush is beating Reagan at this by far. I reckon the deficit will wreck things in this country for a while. I don’t think you can give tax breaks to the wealthy, finance a war and cleanup after a hurricane without breaking the bank.

Still, that thing about using less gas is good isn’t it?

Cutting Slack

It was a beautiful day for a fire drill, and we had one at the Jr. High where I work. The bell rang, we filed out and I held the door as the students “escaped.” Then, all too quickly we were called back inside. I walked out to the fringes and called out for the kids to head inside. That was when I saw it.

A small kid, probably a 7th grader, threw a pebble… or whatever it was and I heard the “ping,” as it hit a car in the parking lot. He was busted! I told the kid he was coming to the office with me. He was bummed.

Just before we got to the door, I asked him why he was throwing rocks at cars. He mumbled something. Then I asked him, “how about if you get to class and don’t ever do that again? Without a word, he hurried in and up the stairs. I think that those few moments that he thought he was in trouble were befitting of his “crime.” I’m sure that the car has been hit by pebbles following trucks too.
KJC

Friday, September 16, 2005

Permanent Record

So, while working in detention at the school, sometimes I have to put discipline information on the kids' records. It reminded me of talking to my friend Mark about our “permanent records.”

Back in school (I went to Richfield), the teachers used to tell us that something we did (wrong) was going to go on our “permanent record!” How ominous this sounded! Mark and I were wondering where our permanent records are… now… today…

We would joke about things like seeing each other’s permanent record being moved by a forklift, or perhaps being pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales on a wagon. It got pretty funny actually!

The truth of the matter, however, is somewhat different. It seems that when I got my new job with the school district, my permanent record (from when I was in school), was trucked down to the school district where I am now working. They had to warehouse it in the bus garage, where it accidentally tipped over and crushed three school busses.

Mark’s permanent record has to be moved by rail. It is currently being held on a couple of boxcars owned by Union Pacific.

I was lucky enough to see Dean, Mark’s brother last week. Dean is an old friend, and he insisted that his permanent record had been digitized. The truth be known, the three of us went through school prior to the digitization of permanent records. Dean’s was last seen on a ship.

With the new advances in technology, permanent records are now kept electronically. This saves both space and resources. That said, one still has to wonder if permanent records are in fact, permanent.

In the aftermath of the devastation in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the dikes, Mark, Dean and I have all consented to donating our permanent records to be trucked, railed and shipped to New Orleans, and then dropped by a fleet of military cargo helicopters into the levees to plug them up. It is the least we can do.
No seriously, it is the least we can do.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Detention

So I am now working as a detention monitor at a Jr. High School.
I told the people who hired me about my experience working with drug addicts and convicts when I was with the county.
Now, it seems that the students are talking about the “prison guard” that watches detention. I never told anyone that I was a prison guard…

More Hurricane Rantings

Beyond the obvious problems with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there are a few things that I find really bothersome.

First, if you want to fix the flooding problem, it isn’t enough to create levees and dikes. The wetlands need to be reestablished. As a volunteer ranger in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I spend lots of time hiking the wetlands and river bottoms. I know that the only reason this wonderful wilderness area isn’t being developed, is because it floods. By allowing that area to continue to exist, the cities aren’t flooded and the byproduct is that habitat is available for the wildlife.

Humans arrogantly think that they are so important, that they can destroy the habitat of other animals. What should be remembered is that what injures one often injures all. The destruction of wetlands increases the likelihood of floods.

On the topic of arrogant humans, I find it upsetting that people weren’t allowed to take their pets when they evacuated the disaster zone. I understand the concept that humans are always supposed to be more important than animals. I just don’t agree with it. If you want people to evacuate, allow them to take their pets out too. I would not want to leave my dog or cat behind to die. What a horrible thing to expect someone to do when they have already lost so much. It is a completely inhumane policy.

KJC

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Yoga Pose

I don’t do yoga, but I like how the different poses/exercises are named after animals.

I have decided to create a new pose, named in honor of the bird that messed up the kitchen window. It is called,

DOWNWARD POOPING GOOSE

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina

After being bombarded by horrific images of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, I have only a few things to say.

First, the fact that after four days, help is so late in arriving makes me think that too many of our resources and personnel are in other countries fighting what has now become, another country’s civil war.

Second, I remember as a child when I found out that New Orleans was both near the ocean and below sea level, that this was probably not a good place for a city. See “Atlantis.”

Third, after working in a poor, depressed part of town, I know from experience that we can’t expect many of the people to behave in a civilized way, especially in light of the current conditions. Martial law will need to be established.

Fourth, had we stayed the course started by President Jimmy Carter, we would not be this dependent on fossil fuels. With gas now at over $3 per gallon, I want to “thank” Ronald Reagan for reversing that course. I can’t believe some people want his face on money!

Finally, to President George W. Bush… what the hell are you doing to this country??? I don’t think you are up to the task of leading us out of this mess.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sky Drop

September 1, 2005
Sky Drop
By Kevin J. Curtis

It was early morning, predawn. The engines were already going as Fritz boarded the airplane. He had just emptied his guts on the tarmac not more than two minutes ago. This was his first jump into a battle zone. He had jumped several times before, but never into combat.

He sat in the airplane, still feeling nauseous. His stomach was tied into knots as he tried to imagine what was in store for him. He was one of the best of the best. He was army airborne. He had trained for this day, and now, just three days from his nineteenth birthday, he was about to jump into hostile territory on his first mission.

There were others like him… first timers. They were all in various states of nervousness, some more than Fritz and some less. The combat veterans were quiet and portrayed a calm that was foreign to the first timers. Inside, each man was dealing with his own mortality as the plane lurched forward and lifted off into the sky.

As they rose higher, the first rays of morning light filtered into the dingy plane. The cheery light contrasted with the grave situation of the soldiers. Most of them were well prepared for combat, and on some level, perhaps even anticipating the excitement. Still, it was somewhat unnerving to know that within the next few minutes or so, someone would be actively trying to kill them, and they in turn, would be seeking to do likewise against the as yet unseen enemy.

The first call came in for them to ready their equipment. It was mostly a formality, since their equipment had been readied earlier. The call made Fritz’ stomach lurch. He was afraid he might vomit again, but at this point he could only dry heave. A few minutes later, the second call came.

Fritz forced himself onto his feet with the other men and took his place in line. At the given order, they all hooked up to the line. This was it, Fritz thought. Do or die, his training would either see him through this or he would die down there. A grim thought, that didn’t do anything to improve his current condition.

The last call came, to jump. One by one, the soldiers left the relative security of the aircraft, and stepped into the dimly lit sky. Fritz felt his body being pulled downward by gravity, and the nearly 70 lbs. of equipment strapped to his back. He knew this feeling before from his training, and the familiar shock ripped through his body as the parachute opened up over his head.

The line of soldiers floated down from the sky. At first, nothing happened. Then, they noticed the tracer fire coming at them. They would be on the ground in another minute. At least then, they would have a chance. Hanging up here in the sky, they could do nothing but helplessly fall, and hope that they weren’t hit by the gunfire that was aimed at them.

Fritz looked down. The landing zone looked good. He would not end up in trees or water. He unknowingly breathed a sigh of relief. That was when a bullet angled up under his helmet near his left ear. It entered his brain, and disconnected his life force from his body. He dropped to the ground in a heap.

****

Stevens hit the ground, and quickly grabbed his parachute lines to keep from being pulled along the ground. He unhooked the buckles that fastened him to the ‘chute, and began to roll the material up in a ball so it was less able to give away his current position. Others were dropping from the sky just to the right of him.

The sergeant called, and Stevens adjusted his pack, and headed in the direction of his voice. There was a young soldier on the ground up ahead. His face was unrecognizable. The bullet had splattered pieces of his skull and brains into his helmet and on the ground. The name patch on his uniform said it was Fritz.

The sergeant reached down and removed the clip from the fallen man’s rifle. He handed it to Stevens. He quickly removed one of Fritz’ dog tags, and the rest of his ammunition. There was no ceremony. There was no time to cry. The sergeant yelled, “Move out!” and the survivors headed for the tree line up ahead.

As the troops jogged for the cover of the trees, mortars started to explode around them. It was only about 100 meters before they would be out of the open, when an explosion hit Stevens, dead center. His body and equipment were fragmented and sent flying through the air. A wad of bloody tissue hit the face of Red Deer, as he felt the shock of the concussion nearby. The blood on his face wasn’t his. It belonged to Stevens.

****

Finally in the trees, Johnny Red Deer wiped the blood from his face with his sleeve. The adrenaline was pumping through his veins, and he heard the sergeant but couldn’t immediately respond. He felt a slap against his helmet, and when he regained his senses, he could see the enemy moving at them with guns firing. Red Deer and the others returned fire. The battle continued for only a few minutes, but inside of his head, it seemed to Red Deer like days.

The sergeant was on the radio calling for air support. Overhead there was a deafening sound and the field up ahead burst into flames. The shooting stopped. Red Deer noticed a pain in his shoulder. He looked to the side and saw the blood and the hole. The man next to him was shouting something. Someone ran over to him. That was when Red Deer passed out.

****

Larson called for the medic who came and field dressed the wounded man. The sergeant called out to the men that the choppers were on their way. Larson dropped his pack, and hoisted the fallen Red Deer onto his back. Now he had to run back into that same field that they had run through after the drop. Only now, it was burned to a crisp. Dotted here and there, were the fried corpses of the enemy who had been shooting at them just minutes before.

Larson stumbled, and he fell to the ground. His face was inches from the grimace of one of the cooked enemy soldiers. He struggled to his feet with the help of another man from his unit. With the unconscious Red Deer back over his shoulder, he held his rifle in the other hand and ran for the choppers that were just now landing.

He handed Red Deer into the open side of the helicopter, and barely jumped in before the still moving rotors pulled them skyward. Up above, the bright blue sky of the early morning belied the event that had just transpired below. Larson starred blankly as the medic worked on the now semi-conscious Red Deer. Next to the wounded man, was another fallen soldier. Much of his head was missing. Larson looked away.

As the chopper carried him away from the battle, Larson realized that he was now a combat veteran. What hadn’t occurred to him just at that moment was that he would be back in the fight tomorrow.