Rolling Thunder

Sounds like I am talking about a train or possibly dark billowing thunder clouds planning their onslaught, doesn’t it? No, not trains or clouds, but motorcycles making their annual run to the wall on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, DC.Rolling Thunder 2012 009

We left last Thursday for Washington, D.C.  Each year we return at this time to honor those veterans left behind and continue a demonstration that was started back in 1988. 

In 1987 former Marine, Corporal Manco learned at the Viet Nam Wall that many POW’s and MIA’s were left behind during the Viet Nam War. He attended a POW/MIA vigil sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. The idea came to him then that he should host a motorcycle rally in the nation’s capitol to show the world that the U.S. prisoners or war and missing in action should never be forgotten.

With U.S. Army Sergeant Major John Holland (ret), Marine First Sergeant Walt Sides (ret), and Sergeant Ted Sampley (ret), Manco started the first protest ride to the wall.

That first rally in 1988 was attended by 25000 men and women.

The May 2001 rally received an estimated count of 200,000 motorcyclists.

In 2008 there were 350,000 motorcycles on the ride to the wall

Last year (2012) was the 25th anniversary of Rolling Thunder which hosted 500,000 motorcyclists.

 So this year we eagerly returned. I give up my seat and my helmet so that a mother of a fallen soldier can ride with John in the parade. Rolling Thunder 2012We have met people from all over America: from the four corners of our country, veteran and not. Each year it grows. Rolling Thunder has turned into a venerable Memorial Day Event.

Bikes stage in two or three Pentagon lots sometimes spilling over into a third overflow lot. The wait starts at 5 a.m. in the morning until kickstands up at noon.

At the start there is a rolling thunder as the pipes sing their powerful music. The parade begins with the history of the protest shown through banners and flags as well as decorated bikes. The event managers and coordinators plus special guests are in the front. Soon after come the Gold Star Mothers riding with Patriot Guard Motorcyclists. The streets are cleared for safety.

As the motorcycles rumble down Constitution Avenue people are lined up on both sides of the street waving small American Flags and enjoying the motorcycles.

We return to our hotel exhausted and happy. One veteran rider claims, “Mission Accomplished”, and we raise our glasses in salute to our fallen heroes.


On History


Portrait of Thomas Paine by Matthew Pratt, 178...

Portrait of Thomas Paine by Matthew Pratt, 1785–1795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History has its attractions: it is genuinely interesting, it shows the innate strengths and weaknesses of human behavior, and it repeats its truths. History is no longer taught in schools. It is combined with social studies in elementary school and the entire story in history is not retold.

Should we not learn what drove people to war, how dictators gain power, and how a weak economy affects the direction of politics?

A friend in Virginia suggested that I revisit Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Thomas Paine talks about the importance of limited government. His pamphlet was written at a time when colonists were burdened and constrained by a government 3000 miles away. One might find some commonalties between 1776 and 2013.

Paine wrote “I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz, that the more simple anything is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.”

He was talking about limited government. When a government becomes too complex and demands more control over its citizens, it is not the kind of government our forefather’s designed when they wrote the Constitution of the United States.

Texas Representative Ron Paul discusses the need for a more limited government in current terms and like Thomas Paine in 1776, Representative Ron Paul is right on.

At WordPress, Happiness is Automattic

Now that sounds like a surprising turn of events. I like when your job brings glad tidings. Writing for me is a soul search, both engaging and entertaining. I hope it is also exsercising my brain.

Unencumbered by Facts

On the first of May, I started a new job at Automattic, the company behind I was hired as a “Code Wrangler,” but to date I have not written a lick of code. This is because for the first three weeks new employees must participate in a customer support rotation. I know what you are thinking: “Let the software engineers communicate directly with customers? I saw Office Space, so I know that’s a bad idea!” or maybe “Bummer, customer service is a thankless soul-sucking quagmire of loathsomeness.” Surprisingly, neither one of these normally valid assumptions is true in this case. So what makes working at Automattic so special that software engineers can enjoy communicating directly with users and customer service ends up being rewarding and fun? Quite a few things actually.

The customer service team is known as the “Happiness Team,” and its members are “Happiness Engineers.” When I…

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Affordable Care Act

ImageThe Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million Americans will lose their coverage because of Obamacare. North Carolina Congressman Pittenger reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield has announced a 284 % increase for some North Carolina insurance premiums also due to Obamacare. Small business owners are concerned that costly Obamacare regulations will drive them out of business. So can someone explain the word affordable in Affordable Care Act? 

I am concerned for two reasons: first most of us can not afford a 284 percent increase on middle income or retirement income.  Secondly I do not want federal help.  I understand that if you make a certain amount of money you will be able to receive funding from the government to assist  you in paying these steep premiums. In my opinion, it is another way for the government to control us. The government takes more and more control of our lives each day. Our government tells us what we can eat, how we should protect ourselves, what kind of healthcare we are allowed to have, and even legislates our morality.

As an American, I do not want the federal supplement. I started working when I was thirteen. From the beginning I have been independent, working my way through college, starting a career at the bottom of the ladder and living in a small one bedroom apartment using the coffee table for dining.  Many people start out this way. I believe most Americans want an independent society not socialism.

In congress, a legislative bill is being prepared to repeal Obamacare. With all the negative and costly changes that Obamacare has brought us I think this is a good idea. 

If healthcare for the uninsured is something we need, let’s start over with a plan that does not hurt more people than it helps. Research the information on Obamacare and send your congressman an email or letter and support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Sympathy for the Cannibal: Archaeology, Emotion, and Cannibalism

This is important. History repeats and changes some but continues to drive foward in the same vein.

Archaeology and Material Culture

Today the Jamestown Rediscovery Project reported on the archaeology of a teen girl who was apparently butchered and consumed by fellow colonists in the winter of 1609-1610.  Most of the instant press coverage revolves around the evidence that the body was butchered, with mandible cut marks and skull fragmentation reflecting a somewhat clumsy dismemberment of the body during a winter in which about 80% of the settlement’s residents died.  Our collective fascination with this girl’s fate obliquely humanizes her even as we paint a sympathetic if uneasy picture of the fellow settlers who cannibalized her.  The story of “Jane,” as Jamestown refers to her, paints the emotional incomprehensibility of human nature while simultaneously rationalizing the desperation that would have led these first settlers to consume one of their own number.

Cannibalism holds a powerful grip on human imagination for perfectly understandable reasons: to consume another human’s body is nearly always…

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The Romance of Crete

When we ride our Harley I see, smell, and hear life around me. I feel blessed and honored that our creator loved us enough to sacrifice for us.

Cretan Chronicles

March 20th 2013 – I’m sitting in a shady spot on a stone wall in the Agia Triada monastery courtyard.  After the short, easy 15-minute bike ride to this peaceful green oasis I wonder why I don’t do this more often.  I’ve been here many too many times to count but usually, on a nice warm day the sea beckons me and I find myself on the beach instead.  Not too bad a dilemma, I know.

Today I find my favorite shady spot to do some reflection and writing.  I have my favorite sunny bench, too, but anywhere within these ancient walls is a good place to sit among the scores of potted flowers, blooming fruit trees and cheerful birds.  And, of course, there’s always a stray cat (or ten) looking for a lap to sit in.  Unlike the harsh world outside these walls, the strays are taken care of…

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