Friday, May 20, 2011

Late Thoughts On Osama Bin Laden's Death

I have intentionally stayed away from this topic since it happened so that I might approach it without falling prey to the hysteria that seemed to overtake a large percentage of the United States when it happened. That way I thought I might be able to look at it from various angles and perhaps gain some insight from it. Osama Bin Laden is dead. As pretty much everyone in the world knows Navy Seal Team Six launched an assault on a compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden had been living for quite some time and killed him even though he was unarmed.

Personally I have no problem with this. Hey, the guy was responsible for thousands of deaths and an untold amount of pain and suffering due to his leadership and masterminding of among other things, the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. There is no question about this either. He didn't go around saying that we had the wrong guy or that he was not involved or any such nonsense as that. No, he took credit for it and as such I have no remorse at all for his having left the world in such a violent fashion. You reap what you sow.

I also did not feel the need to cheer about it either. My first impulse was not to run out into the street yelling and screaming that "We got him!" For one thing, WE didn't get him. I was not involved in the planning, intelligence gathering or execution of this mission. Even when such an evil person dies I don't feel the need to gloat about it. Of course, I didn't know anyone that died in the attacks that he orchestrated either so take that for what is is worth.

The complaints that have been leveled about how his death has affected his family and his subsequent burial at sea and how it wasn't performed within the standards of his religious beliefs, falls on deaf ears as well with me. We're not talking about a person with even a whiff of a possibility of innocence here. As I said earlier, he crowed about what he had done, he reveled in it. He made violence a part of his life and so when he received said violence it seemed apropos. I'm fairly certain that he knew fully well what would happen to him if and when he was caught. He understood the consequences of his actions.

One thing that I don't understand is the belief that has been circulating that God was on our side and that God was somehow happy that Osama was now dead. Personally I believe that God has a lot more to do than worry about things like this. I don't believe that God takes sides no matter how evil a person may be. One individual said that it was God's hand that protected the Seal team from injury. What complete and utter hogwash. If God chose to get involved and protect the team then why did he not protect the Twin Towers in the first place? Why let all of that destruction take place? Because he doesn't take sides and let's us use our agency to make our own decisions even though sometimes they affect others negatively? Sounds about right to me.

A last thought here as well about conspiracy theories that have inevitably cropped up. No, I don't believe that Bin Laden had been dead and his body frozen for some time only to be thawed out and used for political gain. However, what if he wasn't really killed and instead was being held captive somewhere private? This way he could be tortured into giving up information like plans for future acts of terrorism or names and locations of top Al-Qaeda officials. Just a thought to stir the pot.

To sum it all up, Osama Bin Laden is dead and the world is a better place now. There will be more attacks abroad and on our home soil more than likely and the game will change accordingly. It will never be the same and indeed can only get worse. I don't see an end in sight but we can only move on and adapt and maybe overcome.

Published by Don Leach

Friday, May 13, 2011

Broken Hearts And Lying To Yourself

I lied to a girl once. True story. My fraternity was doing a carwash to earn money for our formal and she and I were chosen to stand out on the island between the lanes of traffic and were given the task of enticing drivers to come let our friends wash their cars. After a few hours of standing in the hot summer sun we started to get tired and our antics slowed down dramatically. Eventually we sat down and from there on we were in constant physical contact with each other. It was nothing sexual, just that we were sitting back to back and then side to side facing different directions but we always maintained some sort of touching. Not a lot of words were exchanged mainly because they just didn't seem necessary. What we felt was a natural comfortness with each other and a kind of tranquil peace. It just felt right.

When it was time to drive back to Tahlequah we were in the back seat together and I was feeling the effects of too much sun so she had me lay my head in her lap. We were still feeling our connection and she spent her time running her fingers through my hair. Again, it was all very comfortable and natural and we were at peace. Once we got to her house she started to get out and I wanted her to wait so that I could say something to her about where we should go from there but she pulled away from me and said that she couldn't, that she had to go. Naturally I was confused and couldn't help noticing that my good mood had turned rather quickly from peace and contentment to frustration and distress.

Two days later I was at our table in the cafeteria when she came for lunch and sat down across from me. She wanted to explain what had happened and why our parting was so abrupt. First she started by telling me how special I had made her feel, as if she were the most beautiful woman on the planet and how wonderful the day had been for her and that was the problem. Basically the story was that she lived with her boyfriend in his house and really didn't have anyplace else to go. Even though she wasn't happy with him she didn't think it was fair or just for her to live in his house and start something with me on the side no matter how right or good it felt. Faced with a decision choosing between the safety of her living situation with a man who seemed to just be there and another who made her feel different than any other she chose the safe route. She chose him.

As I sat there stunned and in confusion, my mind grasped at anything it could find to make it appear that I was okay and that nothing was wrong. So I lied to her. I mumbled a story about how she was mistaken about my intentions and that I was her friend and had only wanted her to feel good and that there was nothing else to it. I knew then that it was a poor attempt and that she saw through it immediately for what it was but I wanted nothing more than to hide my pain. It was really a pathetic attempt at lessening this public embarrassment. My guts had been ripped out and my heart was rapidly sinking lower and lower and all I wanted to do was get away from there, to get away from her so that she couldn't see the anguish that was leaking through my resolve and becoming visible in my expression.

I lied and kept on lying to myself every day after that until the hurt started to lessen and eventually go away. When you open yourself up to someone and they don't return your feelings for whatever reason it can be crushing to your soul and ego. For me it was especially damning because I had a very poor self image and absolutely no faith in myself ever finding love. I just wasn't good enough for someone to love and her reaction seemed as validation that what I felt about myself was correct and true and that realization made my self opinion sink even lower than it had been before. It boggled my mind that a person could feel something special, something better than she had ever felt before and know in her heart that I would never do anything to hurt her like her boyfriend had and yet still choose him. The only plausible reason that I could find was that there was indeed something wrong with me, that I was lacking in some characteristic that would enable someone to love me.

She chose the safety of her situation and I chose to bury my feelings deep inside where I wouldn't have to face them. Maybe it was fear of the unknown on or the fear of sharing a real connection on her part. I have no way of knowing. Not long after that we stopped talking altogether and drifted away from each other and went our separate ways. I take no consolation in knowing that this experience was part of what made me who I am today, for better or worse. We'll never know what could have happened and that's the way life is. Not everything gets closure. Not everything ends happily. They say that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger but I think that it can also make you weaker, at least if you keep on lying to yourself.

Published by Don Leach

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Wonders Of Getting Cursed Out At Work

There's nothing like the always excellent experience of getting cursed out by an angry would be customer which did happen to me tonight. A young fellow came in after our release department was closed and wanted records released to him and didn't want to take no for an answer. It seems that our hours of operation was inconvenient for him and his situation. You see he doesn't have a car and had to walk here and he REALLY wanted these records even though I explained to him that our release department would have to be the ones to help him, especially since there were some legal questions that would need to be satisfied.

We were standing in the hallway and it didn't take long for the F-Bombs to start flying (from him not me) and then I told him to stop right there or I'd call security. This only prompted him to flip me off and curse even louder so I stepped back into the office and told them to call security. Once that was done his girlfriend started loudly cursing at me saying that I was a pussy for calling security. There were backing away down the hallway at this point and the further they got away the louder they got. Typical. By the time security got there they were long gone, presumably laughing about how lame I was and crowing about how they had showed me.

It made me think about where we are in society for people to think that this kind of behavior is not only acceptable but encouraged. It seems that everywhere I go if you honk your horn or make a gesture in frustration you are immediately met with vitriol of the vilest nature. What makes young people today think that they can get away with this kind of attitude? For one thing growing up now there are no real repercussions for acting like a complete and total idiot. There is no fear or respect anymore that was normally instilled when you were young. If I had done something like this at the same age the least I would have gotten was a sharp smack to the chops.

Instead the streets are full of young men and women in dire need of a reality check that society says we cannot give anymore because it's not civilized. We're raising a generation of jerks who thinks that their crap don't stink and who have no fear about getting called on their lack of manners and common courtesy. I know it's not all of them but it is a large enough number to be troubling. That's okay though, because karma is a strange thing and what comes around goes around. The knowledge that someday in the near future these two jagoffs will be on the receiving end of their own tongue lashings is enough to carry me gently through the night. Not that I'm over reacting to it or anything.

Published by Don Leach

Monday, May 9, 2011

Frat Life 101: Renting The TV/VCR Combo Unit As A Way Of Life

A few days ago I was reminded of an old practice that has all but disappeared in this modern age of instant gratification. In the early to mid 80s everything was much different than it is today. One of the primary activities that we at Sig Tau enjoyed was watching movies (and making fun of them). Strangely enough we did not enjoy the services of a VCR which at that time was state of the art electronics. Remember, this was pre-internet, pre-dvr and so forth. Sure, we had pay movie channels like HBO and the like but back then they didn't really care about their customers satisfaction so much. They knew they had you and that there weren't many other places for you to take your business so you would get a few new movies spread out over the month but by and large they showed the same movies over and over and over nonstop until you got sick from seeing them so many times. Nowadays you can go online and download a movie or find a site like Hulu that lets you watch TV shows but back then our options were limited at best.

Most of the mom and pop convenience stores would have a small video collection for rent and we found one that would also rent TV and VCR combo units. Every few weeks we would gather up a collection and a few of us would make the drive to the store and then we would make our selections. Eventually this led to us selecting some of the more, shall we say adult oriented movies, mainly because we were young, dumb and horny. With the gift of hindsight it makes little to no sense to me now to have a room full of guys watching adult movies, although occasionally it wouldn't be all males in the room. I remember one time.......well that's better left unspoken. Let's just say that there were two girls that wanted to watch the movies but didn't want us to think less of them for wanting this so they had to play a game for their supposed honor. Of course we kept telling them it was okay to watch when it wasn't and of course they continued to listen to us no matter how many times they saw what they said they didn't want to see.

When you're young you seem to be more willing to play games instead of having people know what you are really like. Supposedly with age that changes as you no longer care as much about what others think but it's been my experience that people still want to continue on with their games, pretending to be something they are not and I just don't have the energy or inclination for it.

At any rate, one time in particular we rented a copy of a video tape of adult cartoons which we found hilarious and it led to the founding of a traditional dance performed at all formal events that we called "The Walk of the Dwarves." Now, it's not that I'm ashamed or that it was anything wrong, disgusting or even sexual. It was simply a bunch of young guys being stupid and having fun at their own expense. That's who I was back then and it helped lead me to be who I am today. It's just that it takes too much time and effort to set the mood for how the dance went and I'm at work, so it's not gonna happen today.

Instead I find myself looking back at the old days and their seeming simplicity and sometimes it puts a smile on my face. At other times I have to shake my head and ask what were we thinking about. It's all part of growing as an individual and finding what life has to offer. The more experience you get the (hopefully) wiser you get. At the time we thought we had life figured out and were enjoying it in ways that we thought were fitting and they were, at least back then. Now I'm older and I've been around the block a few times so what was fun and worked back then is no longer necessarily as appealing to me. Suffice to say that I have absolutely zero desire to sit in a room with a bunch of other guys watching those kinds of movies. Some things you hold onto and never stop liking and others you leave behind once you find out what the world has to offer. And sometimes the world changes and leaves the old ways in the dust never to be returned to except for in memory. That's life.

Published by Don Leach

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Peru Visits Peru

This is pretty self explanatory even if you don't understand Spanish. It's a nice idea to expose people to other cultures that wouldn't necessarily have the chance in their lives. I got this from which is a site that I go to pretty much every day. All I can say is that I wish I were there when they filmed this.

Published by Don Leach

Mom Comes For A Birthday Visit

Earlier this week my mother left to return to her home in Ohio after spending a week with us. She came in for my four year old son’s birthday which was the first time for her to do so. The last time she saw him was almost two years ago. All the other grandkids grew up in the same area and indeed still live there today but I’ve always been the one in the family to roam and unfortunately that means we live quite a bit of distance from each other. It was good to see her but I knew that the week was all about her and my son spending time together, that was the most important thing and they both loved the time they had. To be certain all of us need to make a better effort at seeing each other more often and the past week showed us how important it is for my son Johnny.

He needs to see his relatives as often as possible so I’m already thinking about trying to fly back home later in the year, at least for a week or so if I can. After that we need to find a way to save the money it will cost for us to go back to Peru and visit my wife’s family there. To make that happen costs quite a bit of money and I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a way to procure the funds but so far nothing has come to fruition, especially since I don’t foresee a future for myself as a bank robber or thief. Too much bad karma there if you ask me.

So instead I try and call once a week and I’d like to get everyone on Skype so that we could all do a video conference and at least see each other as well but it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone to listen to me. I mean it’s free as long as you’ve got an internet connection. Doesn’t get much better than that does it? I’m not really a phone person and I’ve never been one to call very much. When I was single I would call maybe once a month or so if they were lucky, okay really my family usually would call me and I rarely was the one to call. Gotta be honest with myself since it is my blog.

As we get older it becomes clearer to me how much more important it is to talk about things now because honestly we don’t know how much time we have left in this world. Personally I don’t want to leave something to chance on the hopes that I can always talk about it later. In the past my motto was why talk about something today when I can put it off until tomorrow but that just doesn’t cut it anymore. All it took was having a kid for me to realize that.

Published by Don Leach

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I just finished reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and it left a very large impression on me. The story is about a father and his young son walking the road after an apocalypse has destroyed most of humanity and the way we live. Gone are all the simple things that we take for granted every day of our existence like electricity, going to the store and basic civility. The son was born after the event happened (the mother ends up committing suicide) so he doesn't actually know what the world was like before this happened. The pair are walking the road trying to find food and a reason to go on for another day and it really encapsulates the monotony of trying to make it day after day in a world where even living and breathing is a struggle and nothing comes easy.

What really got me about this book is that I have a four year old son and I immediately began to think about what I would do if I were in this situation. Even though they are ostensibly looking for other "good people" the father consistently stays away from any other people on the rare occasions that they come across them and doesn't seem to want to interact with anyone else. The only thing that seems to drive him and keep him going is the fact that he has to take care of his young son who cannot take care of himself. Otherwise it seems like he would have given up long before.

I know we all like to think that in extreme circumstances we would do the right thing and not lose our humanity and try to take care of others but I have to honestly question whether that would happen. More than likely people would quickly revert to an animalistic attitude of taking what they want no matter what it would do to others, even if it meant that by doing so they were condemning those others to sure death. More simply they would resort to killing others by their own hands with no conscience simply because they wanted to exert some form of control over someone else. A few years ago there was a bad ice storm that caused us to lose power for six days and it was a struggle for a lot of people in Tulsa to last that long without all of our daily conveniences so I understand a bit of how quickly things can spiral out of control.

If there was a world changing event would I be any different than the father in the book? I know for a fact that my first priority would the the health and safety of my family but how far and to what extent would I go? What if a friend was starving and I only had food to last for a few days. Would I share with him or keep it all for my family? What if I came across somebody else's food and supplies, would I try to steal them so that my family had plenty and whoever owned them would be left with nothing? By trying to keep my humanity and civility I might condemn my family to death by starvation themselves. Living a life that way might actually not be worth living. It's not always the end result that is the most important thing, sometimes it's how you got there, but then again sometimes the end result is the only important thing. I have no answers to these questions because I've never been put in that situation before. It's a lot to think about, that's the best I can say.

Published by Don Leach