The Bow Ramp

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day in Corvallis

I went over to the Benton County Veterans Memorial this morning. This was before the services, while they were still setting up. I didn't stay because I had to fix a computing emergency at my wife's business, but I had time to reflect and say a prayer for the fallen.

Today, they were dedicating a new stone for the WOT fallen. I didn't take a picture, because doing so while others were busy making preparations would have made me feel like a paparazzi. I did take a picture last year on the 4th of July. That picture is here.

If you click on the link above, you will get a hi-res of the names on the memorial. Notice the numbers of people killed in the various wars. Today they added two names. In the nearly five years since 9/11, Benton County has lost two servicemen.

Each death is a tragedy to the departed's loved ones. A mother's grief will be the same whether her son was killed in Iraq, or crossing the street at home. Yet for me, there is the consolation that these two men, and the many servicemen who preceded them in years past died in the furtherance of noble goals. Either our lives mean something, or they do not. Many philosophers have argued over that point with no clear winner. I, however, choose to believe that our lives can have meaning. I believed that a long time ago, as a young man volunteering for duty in Vietnam. I believe that now as an old man, still volunteering -- doing what I am yet able to do.

If you have no goal, principle, or belief that you are not willing to stake your life on; then you have no worthy goals, principles, or beliefs.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Not Quite as Rough as This

Above, you see the Motor Lifeboat Victory on a typical balmy Winter day. The Victory is one of four 52 foot MLBs in the Coast Guard and is stationed in Yaquina Bay (Newport), Oregon. This is what you have to face most of the year when "crossing the bar" just about anywhere in Oregon and Washington.

Last Saturday, I was on patrol with my Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla. It was the opening weekend of Halibut season and things were crazy out there. Seas were much calmer than in the photo above, but still enough to knock us around some. We got called out for one tow, about 11 miles out. That took pretty much the whole day to go out, pick up the tow and return, then conduct a vessel safety check on the boat that broke down. Our guys were OK except for the engine conking out. Some other guy out there wasn't as lucky. He fell overboard and wasn't wearing a life jacket. The #68 boat and a helecopter got to him within about 15 minutes, but it was too late. Water temp out there is about 51-52 degrees right now. Not something you want to fall into without an exposure suit.

One Little Problem with W's Speech Tonight

The President admitted that it is easy for illegal immigrants to obtain fake ID, so that they can be hired, etc.  What is the use of a fancy biometric temporary worker ID?  It just gives the person more time to establish those fake IDs that will allow to stay after their temporary visa expires!

I’m sorry to say this to all the libertarians out there, but in this day and age, we probably need a really good national ID card that can be verified by any government worker, police officer, or employer.  I’m not happy about it either, folks.  On the other hand I understand that this is the year 2006 – not 1776.  No one in the year 1776 could sneak into the country with the capability to kill thousands of people at once.  In 1776, the continent seemed to be a vast empty region that couldn’t possibly be filled by wall-to-wall people.  Two hundred and thirty years ago, there did not exist a technology that would allow someone to travel from Boston to Charleston in a few hours in order to avoid arrest.  The founding fathers did not anticipate that two centuries later, ordinary criminals would have access to personal information that the Bill of Rights prohibits law enforcement from obtaining.

The illegal immigration problem won’t be solved by proving who isn’t a permanent resident.  We need to prove who IS a permanent resident.  People need to stop moaning about lost liberties, Big Brother, and 1984, and get busy crafting a plan that will provide an ID card that will mean something.  At the same time, we need to work out just what information is private, and develop a method of holding that information in some sort of escrow, so that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Flotilla Photo Op

Last weekend I was in Newport (Oregon that is) with my Flotilla. Saturday, we conducted a Safe Boating course for the public. The next day was on the water. I managed to finish off nearly all my Crew Member qualifications. After lunch, a bunch of us got together for a photo.

Loss Report

Last month, a good friend and fellow member of the Patrol Gunboat Association died.  I spent time helping his widow with reconfiguring some computer stuff and collecting all of the many things he had that were PG related.  He was our historian, and since I am the closest other member, I now have temporary custody of our memorabilia.  I’m going to miss him a lot.  A fine example of a man, and a sailor.  Like me, he was a mustang.  Fair winds and following seas shipmate.