Fishing in the right spot?

Sometimes I have a  burning introspective  question to answer.  As often as it happens, the more I ponder the question the farther away I get from answering it.  Instead new questions emerge such as:  Is there an answer?  Do I really want to know the answer?

In the book of Luke, Jesus instructs the fishermen to put their boat out in to deeper water and again drop their nets.  The fishermen told Jesus that they had been out all night and had caught nothing, but still they did as He told them.  When they cast their nets as Jesus instructed, the catch was so large that it threatened to sink their boat and tear up their nets.  They had to call others to help them haul it in.

Each summer, I used to take week long fishing trips with my brothers.  At least I did until my favorite Uncle Sam sent me to Germany.  We spent 7 straight years there on the first trip. Our fishing trips sort of petered out.  We fished for everything.  Bass, Muskie, Walleye… sometimes though, we would just find a likely spot to anchor the boat and lazily fish for Crappie.  All you need is a thermos of coffee and a bucket of Crappie minnows, a rig with a single small split shot sinker and a small hook.  It is also helpful if you know where the fish are.  Crappie fishing is not a great challenge.  You cast the line and let it drift and if something doesn’t hit it you reel it in and toss in another spot.  Continue that until you catch one.  Crappies are not loners and they never stop feeding.  Once you locate them, you reel them in until the coffee and minnows run out.  Generally, we were successful filling our basket and ultimately our coolers with a great pan fish with which to stock the freezer.

Interesting things happen when you are successful.  After a couple of good catches, people will actually follow you to “the spot.”  Then they will haul out their rigs of bobbers and hooks and gigantic sinkers and “Crappie jigs”, and they’ll make noise in the boat and catch nothing.  All of this while they were watching us fill our basket.  Eventually, some would start casting their lines near our boat.  They would bang their big ole sinkers on the side of our boat and sometimes tangle our lines.  They tried everything and still didn’t catch any fish.  The problem was that they were not fishing were the fish were or using the proper rig.

When done, we would haul up our full basket for everyone to see.  Haul up the anchor and head back to the campsite where we would fry some Crappie.  As we were leaving, some would actually try to reposition their boats into the spot where we were anchored thinking that was the answer.  It’s not where the boat sits.  It’s where you cast your line.  Of course it also helps if you don’t knock the fish out with your giant sinker.

For me, that is a valuable life lesson applicable to any endeavor.  Am I fishing in the right spot?  I have been fooling around with this website for a lot of years.  Sometimes, it is all too plain that along with a bazillion others I too often fish in a crowded hole – banging my sinkers off the side of someone else’s boat.   It is like all of the local talk radio types holding out hope that someday they’ll be Rush Limbaugh.

My spot is not where others are anchored nor in their wake.  My spot is writing about whatever is laid on my heart.  Fishing in the spot where I feel led.  I will stick to that.  Maybe I can fill the basket without getting my line tangled.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

Yellow Jackets

I haven’t figured it out yet, but the cranial hard drive is spinning.  It’s spinning so fast the cooling fan can’t keep pace.  The gears may lock up any minute.  It could be bad.

When I was about 10 or maybe 11 years old, Bubby, Leroy and I were out in the woods.  We were looking for ginseng, but had nothing to show for it.  After a few hours, we sat down on a very inviting moss covered log.  Following our rest, we decided to head back down the mountain toward home.  It was then, as they are prone to say over here in wild and wonderful, that all hell broke loose.  Turns out the cool, comfortable, moss covered log was home to a nest of yellow jackets.  Yellow jackets are a particularly nasty little bee.

One of us did it but all of us denied it.  For the long period we were sitting there telling lies and enjoying nature, someone’s posterior was covering the entrance to the bees nest.  When the guilty party got up an angry swarm of yellow jackets attacked unmercifully.  We yelled and ran and swatted and ran and yelled some more.  By the time we left the woods and hit the dirt road that ran past our houses, the bees had petered out.  My baseball cap was and probably still is up there in the woods, but I was not inclined to look for it.  If there was anything funny it was Bubby’s right ear.  It was about the size of a pancake looking as though the entire swarm of bees may have parked there.  There’s been tall tales over the years concerning who got the most stings, but I think no one knows for certain.  What I do know is that while Mom was making me undress for the baking soda application there was one more bee in my pants.

Since then, I have tried to avoid stirring up a bee’s nest.  You see bees don’t like me anyway.  Over time, they have taken every opportunity to sting me.  They will never like me and never will they believe that I accidentally sat on their hollow log.  And if enough of them, filled with unbridled anger because I unexpectedly stepped on their queen, come after me at the same time it could be deadly.

Mr. President, we out here in the working America trust no one, not a single soul that resides in Washington, DC.  Neither should you, not even during your supposedly private conversations.  The dishonesty is palpable in Babylon on the Potomac.  When surrounded by subversives who would love to have your scalp as a trophy, you have to fight smarter.  Never stop fighting, just fight smarter.  Can you top this insults just won’t cut it.  Otherwise, it is America rather than the swamp that will continue to swirl down the drain.  Forget the tweets.  In fact, you don’t even need a damn phone.  You really want to get their goat?  Just get above and stay above the fray.  You have professional people to speak for you.  Let them do your talking and tweeting.  Do you want to have the fight that counts?  Go behind closed doors and begin knocking together the enlarged heads of Congress.  Hire some media savvy people and start publicly exposing relationships with special interest groups.  Tell your Department of Justice to find and prosecute leakers.  The Art of the Deal needs to become the Art of the Political deal where the American people are actually the winners.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

Leading in the Three-Meter Zone

Up out of the Bunker Archives – 1999.

Also published in the Field Artillery Journal. May-June 99

The choice of non-commissioned officers is an object of the greatest importance: The order and discipline of a regiment depends so much upon their behaviour, that too much care cannot be taken in preferring none to that trust but those who by their merit and good conduct are entitled to it. Honesty, sobriety, and a remarkable attention to every point of duty, with a neatness in their dress, are indispensable requisites; a spirit to command respect and obedience from the men, an expertness in performing every part of the exercise, and an ability to teach it, are absolutely necessary, nor can a sergeant or corporal be said to be qualified who does not write and read in a tolerable manner.”-Major General Friedrich Baron von Steuben, Baron Von Steuben’s Revolutionary War Drill Manual: A Facsimile Reprint of the 1794 Edition (Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor)

In the beginning, standing between independence and the superpower of the day, we were an Army of citizen soldiers in desperate need of professional leadership, discipline, and training. Today, we’re the world’s best trained, most powerful, and professionally led Army. We owe our strength to a willingness to change when necessary and the good sense to understand and leave alone the enduring things that must never change. Ours has been a dramatic evolution from a collection of citizen soldier militia units to the force of Desert Storm.  (continue reading)

 

Building a NCO Series

In the ongoing work to restore parts of JDs Bunker, the ancestor of American Journal, the Building a NCO Series is back online.  This series of articles was published in 1999 for a website named ArmyHQ.com, which is long gone.  The references may be out dated, but principles of personal leadership and leadership do not change.  For those of you still serving and others who may find the series useful, feel free to use it and share it as you see fit.

Building a NCO:

Setting the Foundation

Self Assessment

Personal Battle Focus – Mission and Goal

Personal Battle Focus – Personal Mission Essential Tasks

Personal Battle Focus – Personal Mission Training Plan

Personal Battle Focus – Review

Defining Leadership

 

NCOs still lead the way.

Commencement

Up out of the Bunker Archives – 2004

This time of year I keep a speech folded up in the back pocket of my Levis just in case I’m asked to give one.  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t asked again this year.  I may not get another chance, so I’m giving the speech to you.  I promise it’s a short one.  Problem is, the paper is worn out and creased, the ink is faded and there are holes in it.  I can’t read it, so I’ll wing it.  Ahem…

Some of you worked hard and achieved much while here.  Because of your drive and desire to achieve, you’ll probably do well.  Don’t however, be too full of yourselves.  You may be educated, but the guy that picks up your garbage, polices your streets, defends your country and changes the oil in your car knows more about life now than you’re likely to learn anytime soon.  He or she protects our country and keeps it working and moving.  They matter.  Keep them in mind while using your education, freedom and talents to make our country better.

Some of you cheated and manipulated your way through school.  The party is over; life begins now.  Your first employer will discover that you lack the basic skills your credentials imply you have.  You’ll always be several steps behind those who worked hard while here.  If you deal with your shortcomings, you may claw your way up to the lower rung of middle management – maybe mailroom supervisor.  You’ll be angry most of your life – probably a drunk who binge drinks like a frat boy.  You’ll blame everyone for your situation.  You’ll grow kids in your image.  There is probably not a reserved parking space in your future.

Some of you are so good at cheating and manipulating that you can convince most anyone that you were responsible for most everything that’s good.  You’ve done it and will continue to do it so often that you’ll start believing it yourself.  You should consider sales or politics.

Now that I have you off and running into your careers, I have some other thoughts to share with you.

Nobody owes you anything.  If fact, it is you that owes.  You owe your parents, your country and the literal thousands that contributed to you being where you are.  You do realize that you had help?

Mom and Dad have given you enough.  Leave home.  Move out.  Earn your own way.  Remember Mom on Mother’s Day.  Call her occasionally and visit at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That’s enough.  Leave them alone, they need time to remodel your room and spend your inheritance.

Political correctness destroyed candor for your generation.  You’ll be noticed if you have the courage to call a football bat what it is.  Some will dislike you for doing it, but having the courage to be honest and candid feels good.

Appearance counts, but so does character.  Unless you’re going to be an actor, professional athlete or rock/rap star, tattoos and body piercing may be a problem for you.  As is black nail polish, orange hair, split tongues and teeth jewelry.

Don’t show up to your first job interview with either your belly-button exposed or half of your butt hanging out of your trousers.  The person that’s hiring you is hiring a representative of his or her company.  Pierced belly-buttons and exposed buttocks probably isn’t the image they seek.

And Dude.  If you don’t speak English now, learn.  Hear what I’m sayin’?

Outward appearance is important, but how concerned are you with what’s inside you– your moral, ethical and spiritual self?  This is what others see more so than your physical appearance.  This is your character.  Character endures.  Outward appearances do not.

Become a citizen of the United States rather than a resident – a participant rather than a benefactor.  Understand issues, be informed, and then vote.  If you can’t do the first two don’t do the last.  Otherwise, you’ll cancel the vote of someone who does understand and is informed.

Everyday requires you to make choices.  They’re more significant than what you will wear today and what party you’ll attend this weekend.  Choices come with consequences.  Consider the consequences.

Also, question the logic.  Smoking is bad.  It might kill you and harm innocent others.  Aborting babies, however, is freedom of choice.  We glorify homosexuality on prime time television, but are horrified at the exposure of a female breast.

You hear a lot of negativism about America.  Actually, most of what you read, hear and see about America is negative.  Many are quick to point out what is wrong with America rather than what is right with it.  Even our friends from other countries blame America for their misfortunes.  Before you join the blame America campaign, do something.  Pick a country, any country.  Then ask:  Has this country given more to America than has America to it?  How many American citizens live in that country compared to the number of their citizens who choose to live here.  If America is so bad, why do people risk their lives everyday just to come here and live?

Today’s world is like an episode of Star Wars.  It’s the good force versus the evil dark side.  There is no in between.  There is no acceptable compromise.  We will either win or lose.  Choose sides wisely.

Sixty years ago today, America and its allies invaded German occupied France across the beaches of Normandy.  Their task was to liberate Europe and save the world from Nazi tyranny. In that single day, there were more than 4,000 casualties.  In the war to save the world from Japanese and Nazi domination, more than 400,000 Americans gave their lives.  The surviving veterans of the war came home and built the strongest and freest nation the world has ever known.  Because of what they endured and achieved during their lives, they’re often called America’s Greatest Generation.

Today, we face a treacherous enemy also bent on world domination.  It’s a much different and more dangerous enemy because we can’t fix it to our front and overwhelm it.  Since we engaged this war three years ago, we’ve suffered fewer casualties than in a single day of the last world war.  Still at question is American will to continue the fight.  The deepest threat to civilization since the Nazis is counting on your lack of will.  Your contribution to corporations, grand inventions or political achievements will not define your generation.  It’s your collective answer to the single question – Is America worth fighting for? – that will.  How will history remember your generation?

© 2004 J. D. Pendry

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