Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Price of Honor - A Review

If you believe "Honor Killings" (an oxymoron if there ever were one) exists only in remote and socially undeveloped areas of the Middle East and African countries, a watching of this film will tell you otherwise.





http://heliopolis.la/the-price-of-honor-a-documentary-on-the-honor-killing-of-amina-and-sarah-said/

Mike Sledge

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day as Bittersweet


From the movie, "The Thin Red Line"...and possibly the book but I haven't read it: "This great evil. Where does it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doing this? Who's killing us? Robbing us of light and life. Mockin' us with the sight of what we might've done? Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed to this night?"

Veteran's Day is bittersweet for me. Bitter because of the horrible loss of life everywhere. Bitter because we often accept war as inevitable. Bitter because some people who had rather not fight, kill, and die seem to have no other recourse.

And yet, in my work to do my book, I spoke with servicemen and servicewomen, veterans, and families of those who died and have come away with a deep and everlasting appreciation for the dedication shown by them. Almost to a one, they would have not undone that which was done, even if having to relive the carnage, the horror, the remorse, the sadness of their experience.

If you see a military person, stop and take a moment to honor them. Tell them "Thank you." If you know of someone who was in service in times past, look them in the eyes and say, "I appreciate your service." Even if you do not support any particular struggle or conflict, I would ask that you consider supporting the people who were engaged in such an unpleasant and unfortunate endeavor.

Mike Sledge

Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"I'm Out of Clothes," She Said

  
            "I'm out of clothes," she said one day ("she" being my girlfriend).  She was standing at the doorway to her walk-in closet, one hand on the door and the other on her hip.
            "What did you say?" I asked, coming in from the living room.
            "I don't have anything to wear.  You've already seen everything I have."  She turned and looked at me with that frown on her face.  (We guys know exactly what I mean when I say, "that frown.") 
            After reading Men are from Mars and Women are from Outer Space, I have learned not to use logic in a situation like this.  (What do you mean you're out of clothes?  A whole family in the third world has less space to live in than you do in your closet.)  Instead, I said, "I see."
            "No you don't!  You don't understand at all," she said, closing the door none too gently. 
            At this point, I did what all smart men do...I shut up and sat down on the bed.
            She went into her bathroom, opened and closed a couple of drawers and came out, saying "Why do you say, 'I see' when you really don't?  Why don't you just tell the truth...that you think I've got plenty of clothes?"
            "Well, when I said 'I see' I was really trying not to discount your feelings.  But, yeah, now that you mention it, you're right.  You do have plenty of clothes.  I mean I think you've got a lot of clothes...in my opinion, anyway."
            "Oh sure.  You've seen all my work clothes, church clothes, and jeans.  I've mixed and matched and you've seen all those combinations."
            I busied myself studying the pattern on her bedspread, wondering if there was something I needed to be doing, like getting a root canal or emptying the cat litter box. 
            She strode over to her closet, opened it again, and began sliding hangers back and forth.  I tried to sneak out of the room.
            "What about this?" she said, sticking her arm out of the closet, holding a cute pair of grey tights, turtle neck, and black knit vest.
            "Looks great," I said, turning back quickly.
            "No, I mean have you seen me wear this before?"
            I was stuck.  If she had worn it before and I didn't remember I was in trouble.  And if I said I had seen it, then we were right back at the beginning.
            "I think it looks great on you," I said again.  "You've got the kind of figure that looks sexy in those tights and the top really accents your neck."
            She stuck her head out from the closet and gave me an extremely contemptuous look.  I came back and sat down on the bed again, chastened like a whipped puppy.  At this point, I was thoroughly exasperated.  I was thinking to myself that it really didn't matter how many clothes she had, women were always the same when it came to this...they never have enough clothes.  But why involve me with their personal demons to battle?  I mean, if I'm having trouble with my forehand or if Dallas loses twice in one season to the Redskins I don't whine and moan about it to them.
            Then, while all of this was going through my mind, I realized that it was quiet in the closet...too quiet.  What had she done...hung herself over what to wear to dinner?  I got up from the bed and slowly tip-toed to the closet and peeked in.  I saw her with a finger to her lips, in deep thought.  Without saying a word, she turned, looked me up and down, and said, "Well, with what you've got on I think I'll wear this, and she pulled out a pair of burgundy corduroy slacks and a sweater with a small print that coordinated with the slacks.  
            I nodded approvingly and peeked at my watch, thinking that I had gotten off relatively lucky...her mood had come and gone like a summer thundershower. 
            "Good," she said, smiling.  "Now, how do you think I should wear my hair?"
           

    

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mr. Fix-It Gone Wild

(A little lengthy, but worth it!)

Here's the deal...I'm the kind of self-reliant guy...why pay a repairman $75 bucks for a home repair when I can screw it up and pay him twice that?  But, sometimes, things go right for me...like how I got myself embedded with the Army in Baghdad all on my own without any help from CNN or any other major news network.  (Of course, there was that little incident where the Air Force security crew threatened to strip-search me, but that's another story!)

So, this morning, I see a little water on the kitchen floor.  (Now, listen to the first measure of the Jaws sound track...du dum.)  Don't think much about it...I prolly just spilled some when cleaning up, right?

When I come back from errands, I start to thaw the perch for dinner, and then I see some more water on the floor.  (du dum...du dum.)

I open the sink cabinet door and see that the space beneath the sink is god-awful wet. turn off the sink water, and pull all the fricking cleaning supplies and trash bags out so I can see what's going on, but there is no apparent leak. 

So, I grab a flashlight, turn the sink water on, and stick my head up under the sink.  And then I see it, a steady trickle of water from base of the faucet.  It's not a standard hot water on the left, spigot in the middle, and cold water on the right type; rather, it's one of those all-in-one units.  At first, I figure just put a pan under the drip and call the plumber.  But, then, I decide to investigate further.  (du dum, du dum, du dum!)  

So, I find the valves for the hot and cold water lines and turn them off.  I pull my wet self out from under the cabinet and test the faucet.  Turn to the left, no water.  Turn to the right, no water.  I've successfully cut off the water so I can work to my hearts content.

It is at this point where I reached the MOFU fork in the road.  (Every home repairman knows this Moment of Fuck Up...it's the point of No Return...the point at which you should proceed past only with extreme caution.)  I could have just left things alone and worked with some inconvenience, but, no, I go to the Moment of Fuck Up and bulled right through it...although I certainly didn't think I was.

My trusty allen wrench fit the recessed and mostly hidden retaining screw and a few turns later I was lifting the spigot from it base "just to check" if there was anything I could easily see amiss.  (du dum, du DUM, DU DUM DU DUM DU DUM!!!)  I lift the spigot one inch and nothing happened...so, I started to lift it a little more and...

THE SPIGOT FUCKING EXPLODED IN MY HAND, SENDING A GEYSER OF WATER UP TO THE KITCHEN CEILING.  

I clamp down on Old Faithful it with one hand with the result that the fountain now sprayed horizontally in all directions.  

Next, I grab it with both hands, like I'm gonna choke that fucker.  The water then just gushed out and up, but nowhere near as bad as before.  But, there's one little problem:  IT'S HOT WATER!

I mean, now my hands are being boiled alive.  

No choice but to let go and dive under the sink cabinet again, this time looking for the damn third water shut-off valve.  (Who the fuck ever heard of there being THREE shut-off valves, anyway?) 

While I'm fumbling around, trying to find a valve (they are itty bitty little valves that are hardly noticeable), I'm wondering where the fuck is the t-handle so, at worse, I can turn the water off at the street.  

I groping around, hot water is pouring down on me, I know my wife is gonna kill me, and then, BOOM!  The overhead ceiling light explodes because the water has hit hot glass.  

So there I am, boiling hot water pouring on me, glass raining down on me, I'm on my back, barefoot, and stuffed under the sink.  At this point I want my wife to just kill me where I lay and get my torture over with.

But, I find the valve and turn it and, mercifully, the fountain of my despair ceases.  

So, the next thing I did what any self-respecting, do-it-yourselfer does and reach for...
.
.
THE OPEN BOTTLE OF WINE AND POUR MYSELF A BIG GLASS.

Only then do I assess the damage.

Water is fucking everywhere: on the ceiling, on the kitchen/breakfast room/den floors, on the counters, and in the drawers.  Apple computer was drenched, I-phone wet, recipe book soaked...and on and on.

So, I start mopping...THE CEILING.  Can't reach it.  Have to stand on a fricking wobbly stool.  And, yeah, by this time the wine is kicking in.  Imagine a half drunk man, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, standing on a stool and trying to mop the ceiling, all the while trying to avoid the recessed light socket that is hissing and spitting...that's me!

Long story short, I called my wife and said that I would meet her for dinner out.  She asked why and I said that the kitchen faucet was broken...that I tried to fix it but had bad news and good news...the bad news was that my attempt resulted in no water in the kitchen, but the good news was that the den, breakfast room, and kitchen were spotless...and that her interior flowers had plenty of water.

Two wine glasses later for her, she laughed.



Friday, October 12, 2012

Where Do You Go When You Die?

Years ago, my elderly father sat across the kitchen bar from me.  I figured it was time to broach the subject of how he felt about death, given that his life expectancy was a short measure.

I said, "Dad, you know we've talked over the many years about life and death...are there any thoughts you wish to share about how it is most likely that at some point I will be placing a spare plate for you at the dinner table?  Do you have any concerns?  Like where you go when you die?"

Dad thought for a minute, no words did he say, then he simply stood up and looked at me.

I said, "Ok, I'm supposed to ask you what just happened.  What?"

He said, "My lap.  A minute ago I was sitting and I had a lap.  Now I'm standing.  Where did my lap go?"

After picking my jaw up off the floor at my father's profound and succinct answer to an existential question that has dogged humans since they sat around the campfire licking their fingers after a good meal...an answer that he gave not in words but in action...I said, "'Nuff said."

Then we finished our meal with satisfaction.

Mike Sledge


Friday, September 21, 2012

When Is Enough Simply Enough

This is not about extending life by artificial means, or about how big should the US budget deficit go with regard to stimulus spending.\ Rather, it's about yard work. I don't know about you, but I have more (AND LESS) control over yard work than I do the health care or budget issues above. Here's the deal: I hate blowers. I'm not arguing from a Luddite position. Rather, I'm asking when is a yard/sidewalk/drive clean enough?

Here is a picture of a sidewalk I swept after edging.
Here is another picture of the sidewalk of the house next to me.
How you view these two pictures is based on a very important philosophical orientation. More specifically, my sidewalk is realistic. It shows the dirt and detritus that naturally occurs from such yard work.

My neighbor's sidewalk, on the other hand, shows nothing.  There is no flaw, no evidence of a real world existence...it is too "perfect."

Is his life perfect?  Of course not.

I'd much prefer that my "things" reflect a life spent acquiring the dirt and bumps and byproducts of living.

You?

Mike Sledge