Quote of the Week

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."- Albert Einstein

Sunday, November 11, 2012

#Holidays: Remembering The Fallen

Today was Rememberance Day- a day where we gather and think about the soldiers that have died over the course of the years in order to defend our rights and freedoms.  For many, it's a meaningful day, while for those of us that are either part of a military family (my own Dad and Brother were in the service), or are in the military (I served 16 years, myself), it can be a very personal day of remembering.

I spent today with my Dad and my Brother.  We watched the ceremonies and the parade before retiring to the Legion to reconnect with friends and comrades.  Over hot rum toddies, we called forth memories of various training exercises, summer taskings, and random events that we've been through during the course of our military careers.

We also looked around us at the new generation of soldiers, just starting out in the service.  I found it hard to believe that I once was that young and baby faced.  I also saw many of the Sergeants present were people I knew as Privates.  In fact, I did most of their paperwork when I was in the service.

I also keenly felt the presence of those that were absent, and the memories came flooding back.  Standing on parade while they got their Regimental cap badge, or their promotions.  Sitting in the Junior Ranks Club after a weekend exercise sharing a beer and joking about some of the silly things that happened that weekend.  Going up to the Armoury for a beer and a game of "Axis & Allies", "Risk", or "Halo".

I watched many of them grow as soldiers into fine adults and leaders.  I watched as many of them went off on United Nations missions to Bosnia, or NATO missions to Afghanistan.  I stood as some of them didn't come home.

One young soldier comes to mind.  She was an Infanteer- this was just as women were starting to make a proper impact on the Combat Arms in the military.  She was tasked to help me set up the modular tentage for one of our Brigade exercises in Fort Lewis.  I was standing on a wooden six foot table screwing in lightbulbs as she handed them up to me.  We talked about some of the reasons why I was still a Corporal at the time, what we both hoped to accomplish, etc.  At this time, I discovered that she didn't know if she could honestly make an impact as an Infanteer, and was thinking of moving on to another trade.  She was taking Engineering at university at the time, so we started discussing the possibility of her remustering over to Engineer.  I described to her what Field Engineers, Construction Engineers, and Electrical Mechanical Engineers did, and that I felt that Field Engineering would probably suit her best.

Ultimately, she did decide to remuster, and taking the advice I'd given her, she went Regular Force as a Field Engineer.  The military helped pay for her to complete her university education, and she took her commission and became an Officer.

A couple of years later, during a training exercise, she was killed when the explosives her team and her were laying went off.  I remember the numbness I felt when I heard the news.  I simply had a hard time believing it.

I still have a hard time believing it- and it's been at least a decade or so since the accident occured.  So, when Rememberance Day comes around, and I look at the fresh faced soldiers around me, I remember her, because she thought that freedom and equality was worth the risks involved in her job.

Lest We Forget.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

#Pleasures: Rainy Days

While I was walking home today from the Work Search centre, it started to rain.  Nothing heavy, just a light fall of rain.  It was enough to get me to stop, close my eyes as I spread my arms, and smile upwards to the skies as the drops landed on my face.

Of course, I had to start walking again, since I was blocking traffic on the sidewalk standing like that.

But it started my mind thinking about how much I enjoy walking in the rain- almost as much as I enjoy walking in the fog, actually.  Being who I am, I have a tendency sometimes of analysing my feelings in order to understand them and myself better.  That's what I did while walking home with pieces of the clouds dripping around me into puddles.

There's something cleansing about rain, I find.  I can stand in the rain, and let it wash over me- all the while imagining my concerns and worries, and negative thoughts mixing with the water and flowing away into the gutters... leaving me emotionally fresh and clean again.  I feel so much lighter after a walk in the rain.

I also really like sitting on the porch listening to the rain pitter patter against the metal roof, as I sipped a mug of coffee, and taking a puff on my pipe.  I can watch the smoke from my pipe drift up and away to join the clouds and possibly become drops of rain as well.  The air around me feels scrubbed clean of impurities as I sit there letting my thoughts ripple outwards like the drops of rain landing on the surface of the pool and puddles.  With each breath, I can smell the grass and the flowers that catch the drops and sip from them the way I sip my coffee.

The only problem (other than getting strange looks when I stand in the middle of the sidewalk with my arms spread and grinning up into the clouds) is the cold.  I don't handle cold too well, unfortunately, and when you miss cold and damp, my joints ache.  But for this simple pleasure in Life, I'll simply bundle up a bit, make sure my coffee is steaming hot, and ignore the twinges in my knuckles and hip.  For me, the comfort, peace, and simplicity of rain falling is worth enjoying and being a part of... worth forgetting the aches and pains of Life.  Worth being alive.

Monday, November 5, 2012

#Changes: My Signature

I was helping my Dad today by pulling out all the plants from his flower bed.  When I was done, he needed my signature on some documents for accounting purposes with Veterans Affairs.  When he saw my signature, he told me to put my full signature- not my initals.  I told him that WAS my signature.

He just gave me an exasperated look and shook his head... something older people do to me a lot, actually.  Not sure why though, since it's quite understandable how my signature became what it is.

I spent sixteen years in the Canadian Forces Reserves as a Administration/Finance Clerk.  When I first joined at the age of eighteen, my signature resembled this:

It was a perfectly normal, legible signature at that time.  It was clean, precise, and would've caused serious damage to my fingers, wrist, and arm if I had continued to use it in my duties.

Why?  Forms.  Lots and lots of forms.  Course reports, assessments, charge reports, stationary requests, computer asset requests, signing out and signing in of equiptment, signing paysheets, signing audit documents, signing destruction certification forms, signing memorandums, signing medical documents, signing Military Police documents, signing this, signing that.

So, over the course of my career, my signature evolved... or devolved depending on your point of view.  After about two years of signing forms, my signature resembled:

But that wasn't enough to sign the multitude of forms quickly, AND keep my from injuring my vital digits.  It was good for my personal, non-military correspondance... but I needed to find something that would allow me to get through all the forms I had to sign in a flurry, while keeping myself out of the Medical Inspection Room with a possible career ending cramp.  Because of this need, my signature changed again to resemble:

But as you can imagine, this STILL wasn't good enough.  No, it wasn't.  My career was hanging in the balance!  The forms that needed signing just kept coming and the stacks kept growing.  I needed something succinct and quick.  I realized that it didn't NEED to be something obvious- just something that could be legally considered a signature.  By the end of my career- partly from having fine tuned my signature to it's essence... and because arthritis in my fingers was making it hard to write with a pen, my signature reached it's most pure, bare essential nature:

That's right, "M *scribble*" is my signature.  Oh, I can hear you laughing out there.  If you think my signature is funny, let me tell you about a former employer of mine.  His signature is a squiggle with two dots.  That's it.  Just that.  Oh... and he has a rubber stamp of it for signing forms...

Friday, November 2, 2012

#Holidays: Halloween Recovery

One of my favorite times of the year (if not THE favorite) is Halloween.  People dress up in costumes, kids knock on doors in the search of delicious treats, and I watch a few horror movies.

This year, "a few" movies was actually 13 of them, as I held a special event for my "The Corner of Terror" blog.  For this "Terrorpolooza 2012", I held a 24 hour horror movie tweet along.  From 1:00 am Halloween morning, to 1:00 am the next morning, I watched horror movies, and tweeted along to them.

It went quite well, in my opinion.  I had a decent variety of movies- some good... some not so much, and people joined in the fun by retweeting, favoriting, and commenting upon my tweets.

And I quite enjoyed it too.

The only problem with this Halloween was having to recover from the night before.  As soon as my tweet along was finished, I was worn out and ready for bed.  I don't remember dreaming- which is weird for me.  I closed my eyes, then opened them about 20 hours later.  And I still felt tired.

In fact, it took me almost two days to fully recover from all the stimulus that the 24 hours of horror movies gave my poor pumpkin filled head.

And to think... I plan on doing AGAIN next year...