Monday, August 28, 2006

EVERY CHILD DESERVES A DESIGNATED DRIVER

How true it is, Children have no choice…they have no voice!

Protecting children is a value most of us cherish. Yet, despite the fact that drunk driving is a violent crime, driving impaired with children in the vehicle is not a commonly acknowledged form of child endangerment or child abuse. No one should have to ride with an impaired driver. However, minor children have little choice when the driver is a parent or other adult who is their caregiver.

Check out http://www.madd.org


Saturday, August 26, 2006

How Do You Curtail Drinking & Driving?

You may have heard Ben Franklin’s quote, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Back in the United States Air Force, prior to today’s Whimp Rearing TIME-OUT philosophy (crying out loud, I can’t take it, I need a break), we had wall-to-wall counseling (physical threats and abuse), and Colonel Sun Downs Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) funeral procession (conviction, embarrassment and guilt was the cure), in response to drinking and driving.

You are most likely wondering, “What in the world is this DWI/DUI funeral procession?”

Colonel Sun Down was the Base Commander of Royal Air Force Station (RAF) Fairford, England in the 1980’s. Sun Down had some awesome policies to keep the troops in line. The most memorable was the screw-up and you are out processed and off the base by sun down. However, Sun Down’s funeral procession policy needs an immediate resurrection to help reduce the number of DWI offenses in the United States, especially in New Mexico.

Sun Down requested that Chilly Willy and I build a coffin for the base, which we did with pride. The coffin was used in a funeral procession with the Commander of the individual marching in full dress blues, out in front. The offending prosecuted individual, in possession of the DWI marched right behind the Commander, but in front of the coffin. Four of his/her unit peers carried the casket. The procession began at the front gate and ended at the individual’s Commander’s office. The coffin was on display in the Commander’s office for everyone to see, until the next offender claimed the procession and the coffin.

Here is the story. An Airman goes out drinking and then gets in a car and drives. During his/her temporary insanity, a policeman pulls him/her over and arrests him/her for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). This is where they experience “Double Jeopardy.” Double jeopardy is a civilian court proceeding (fines and imprisonment) and then a military court proceeding (loss of rank, fines, and imprisonment). Sounds fun! I hear music, listen, “Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Whatcha Gonna Do? Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?”

Here is whatcha gonna do. Sun Down is going to have a funeral procession for you, starting at the front gate! Your commander is going to remember you every day, isn’t that nice. In addition, a beautiful sign was posted by the coffin with the name and date of the guilty party displayed for all to see. The individual was famous.

Solution: Don’t Drink and Drive! Trust me; we had a very low DWI offense rate. Get Madd!

What do you mean it is cruel and unusual punishment? Some psychologists might disagree with this form of embarrassment and guilt, but I disagree with their disagreeing. The embarrassment of the consequence for this action was enough to encourage people like me to take public transportation everywhere we would go if we were drinking.

It is Really Cool to Recognize and to be Recognized

Friday, August 25, 2006

Globalquerque

Mark your calendars! This year's festival will be held September 23-24, 2006 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

¡Globalquerque! - New Mexico's Annual Celebration of World Music and Culture returns to the National Hispanic Cultural Center on September 23 and 24. Growing from a one-day event in 2005 to a week-long state-wide extravaganza, ¡Globalquerque! 2006 will again feature a wide range of international and local performers on multiple stages, as well as many new features.

Artists who have been confirmed for the 2006 festival include:

¡Globalquerque! 2006 will feature a variety of official and affiliated events, including:

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

What You Need To Know by Sun Tzu

Know yourself and know your opponent, and you shall win a hundred battles.

- Sun Tzu, ca. 500 B.C.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Culture Shock: Airman Reporting for Doodie!

In the Air Force, my first duty station was at Royal Air Force (RAF) Base Fairford, England. I approached the door of my new work building clean, trimmed, pressed, and polished. I might even add sharp and fit after six months of Para-rescue training (before being kicked out for a five minute curfew violation: another story altogether, so keep checking the blog). I approached the building, opened the door, and proceeded to the front office, where I stopped, went into attention (heels together and hands at my side) and then reported as ordered. “Airman Kline reporting as ordered, Sir,” I stated loudly. This is where something totally unexpected and most definitely wrong occurred.

As I am standing at attention, I noticed a black Staff Sergeant break into a run coming in my direction. He then foot planted off the desk beside me launching him self up and into the air. Please note: at this exact moment, I am still standing at attention. The Sergeant’s buttocks crossed in front of my face, at this exact moment in time I heard a loud noise, I am positive you can imagine what noise I heard. Without room for error, the noise was 100% flatulence. In fact, I thought the Sergeant had ripped his uniform pants the noise was so loud.

Still at attention, the entire office broke into an uproar of laughter. My face turned red with anger and embarrassment. Every muscle in my body tensed and tightened, I wanted to physically pound this guy. You see, I had never been farted on in my life! Sure, people had released gas, but not on me and definitely not directly in my face. Talk about being down right dirty and disgusting.

As the Staff Sergeant began his decent, he hit the wall next to me with a loud bang, and darted quickly out of the immediate area, disappearing into the warehouse. My fists were tight and my blood boiled as I was prepared to open up a royal can of whoop buns on this guy. However, I held back my emotion and constrained my attack out of respect for the Staff Sergeants rank. Did he deserve respect, I don’t think so, but it is all about control.

Who observed this reporting for duty? Johnny Ugmosis (warned them about me), Mudd, Big Mac, The Black Cowboy, The Rocker, The Hit Man, Country, G-Man, the Fryer, and of course, the culprit: Scary Larry.

G-Man actually approached me later and said, “In this office, you either fart or get farted on. I replied, “These are steel toe boots, so make my day.”

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Cave on Skull Rock

Lurking around dark caves, swinging on live bamboo, crossing murky swamps, its all okay, as “Adventure” is my middle-name, funny, it has nothing to do with an X-Box, a PlayStation 1-2-3, or an Atari. As kids we were budding explorers. If there was danger, you better believe we were on it. None of this hiding behind a large screen of glass with a controller and a coke – we did our own stunts! Please note that I did not say intelligent stunts.

One of these stunts occurred in Okinawa, Japan. A place on Kadena Air Force Base, which housed a huge rock, a place we all knew as “Skull Rock.” Kadena’s U.S. military history dates back to just before the April 1945 invasion of Okinawa. A local construction firm completed a small airfield named Yara Hikojo near the village of Kadena. Why is this important? Because as children we were told to stay out of caves as they may have unexploded ordinance (UXO) in them. Did this stop us? No way, it made us search even harder, for hidden treasure and adventure. We dreamed of uncovering military rifles, knives, uniforms, Japanese insignia, grenades and much, much more.

Note: If you don’t believe me when I mention there is still unexploded ordinance, affecting many lives in a negative way, please take a close look at Cambodia. If there is one affected, then that is one too many.

Matt Smith (there are so many, I can’t even locate him), my brother Dave, and I were as close as the Three Stooges and just as foolish, if this is even possible. We always egged each other on and on. We pushed the envelope to the point of being beyond stupid sometimes, but we sure experienced thrills and fun.

On one occasion, we cut our way through the boonies (jungle growth) and climbed up the rock ledges to the top of Skull Rock. Have you been there? In fact, we used to lay up at the top of Skull Rock and attempt to photograph the SR-171 Spy plane, nicknamed the Habu (the most dangerous imported snake on the island), with our 110 millimeter cameras. It generally looked like a piece of dust photographed while floating in mid air.

At the top of “Skull Rock” there was a cave. Inside the cave we discovered a few small entrances, which opened to bigger areas and we went deeper and deeper into the interior of the cave. I can tell you that I would not fit into the holes we climbed through today, nearly 30 years later. We broke every rule in the book of The National Speleological Society (NSS) except the travel in groups of three.

"Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Pictures, Kill Nothing but Time"

What did we forget?

We didn’t listen to our parents or the warnings

We didn’t tell anyone where our exploring would take place

We didn’t have a good light source we used a flashlight and matches

We didn’t use helmets

We didn’t have a water source

We didn’t have any food

We didn’t have boots, we wore tennis shoes

We basically didn’t do anything correctly, but we sure had fun

Yesterday’s Warning: Tell people where you will be seeking some adventure, so they know where to start looking if you don’t come home.

Check out these links for more information Cave Safety Tips: or learn more about Caves and even More Spelunker Tips:

Today’s Warning: Please turn off the television when your adventure is over!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Culture: Generations Collide in Church, Youth Sports Spine!

When talking about my brother Dave, what can I say? Dave has a brilliant mind with a brand new punk spine (1983), which included the word, “OI” carved onto each side of his head. This was an agreement between the folks and Dave for a straight “A” report card (not a difficult task for the boy).

How do generations collide at church? A Warden at St. Margaret’s Church, Woodbridge, Virginia liked to instill fear and respect in the youth of the congregation. It was a game, his game, no one else liked it. No loss of trust and mutual respect, there was no trust from the beginning and no chance to win him over. Young people were deviant and that was the end of the story. The warden always tried to catch young people out and inflict them with, “I am watching you.” A large hand would be placed upon your head and a firm uncomfortable squeeze would be initiated.

Sunday, Sunday, this Sunday was a little different. My brother thought about his hair and felt a little shy (right!) about his hair and being a distraction in the church service. The service is not about David and he knew this. So my brother finds a little black beanie to wear over his spiney, in a show of respect for others! Okay, this may have been a coaxing from Dad, but I was not privy to this information.

Dave used to use soap scum back in the day, as there were no extreme hard gels on the market. He would scrape the soft soap scum from beneath the bar and add it directly to his hair. As the soap dried it would harden and assist the hair in it’s standing at attention. However, today he used the soap scum, but did not stand the hair up. The scum was for after church.

Dave looked like an East coast fisherman as we approached the church doors. I walked directly behind my brother as we entered the doors. Suddenly and not surprisingly a large hand grasped Dave’s black beanie and ripped it off. “Boy, show some respect! You are in the house of God!,” he exclaimed. Dave tilted his head a little and looked back over his right shoulder at the Warden. Dave expressed a quirky smile, placed both hands on his head and straightened his spines. The hair was standing straight up. Dave turned and walked all the way to the front row pew of the church, sitting directly beneath the pulpit.

The Warden’s jaw dropped and he was speechless, still holding onto the little black (respectful) beanie, he was shaking. I knew what he was thinking, “What have I done?” This was a life changing event for the Warden. After the shock of this special day, the Warden found a new respect for the next generation (X). The Warden turned from his old ways.

During the service, the priest glanced down more than a few times, especially during the sermon, but I give him credit, as he stayed the course and delivered the message in style.

Remember: Every action has a reaction, so think before you act! The reaction might not turn out the way you plan or intend.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New Cologne for Surfers Repels Sharks

If you listen closely, you can hear the shark scream, "Get me outta here!"

Sharks try to leave the water and area immediately, wherever a new surfer scent/cologne resides. This new semio-chemical is even strong enough to awaken lab sharks from tonic immobility. Sharks and the surfer’s significant other hit the high road with a single whiff of this innovative cologne. Check it out!

Discovery

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Anti-Hotel California: You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But Sir You Really Must Leave Now!

Happiness is...Knowing you can check out anytime you like, but you must leave by Noon. This isn't the Hotel California you know!

You must remember the “Hotel California?” “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Well the Hotel Hilton, in Swindon, had a little different meaning for “You may check out anytime you like.”

In 2004, I was sent to a town called Swindon, in Wiltshire, England to provide hiring manager software training to Intel Corporation. I stayed at the Hilton Hotel. Now, the interesting part of this story is, I lived in Swindon for nine years. You ask: “What is interesting about that?” You would think, after nine years of interacting with the English, I would be able to communicate more effectively.

I believe everyone has heard the, “You Say Tomahto, And I Say…Tomato” skit. If not, I have a new version to share. “I say, what time is checkout and you say, you may check out anytime you like Sir.”

I called down to the front desk, to ask, “What time is check out?” The front desk manager politely informed me that I may check out any time I like. I laughed a little bit, as I am humored, but I did re-confirm, “I may check out any time I like?” The front desk replied, “Yes Sir, you may check out anytime you like.” Questioning the validity of this response, I called back to the front desk a few hours later and spoke to a second individual, who provided the exact same response. This time I even felt a little patronized, as if the signal sent was a polite, “Duh!”

The next morning, I called back to the front desk one last time, as I knew deep down that the information on check out times was incorrect. It is not like this is the first hotel I have ever stayed at. However, the third individual I spoke with gave me the exact word-for-word, “You may check out anytime you like, Sir.” So with the three confirmations on check out time, I decide to take a 12:00 p.m. conference call from my hotel room instead of driving to the site office before heading to the airport. I log in to the conference call at 11:50 a.m. As I am chatting to the individuals joining the call, a loud, rapid knock occurs on my hotel room door. I glance at the time and it is 12:04 p.m. I open the door and the front desk person immediately says, “Sir, it is 12:04 and check out time is 12:00.” I said, “The front desk told me three times, I can check out anytime I like.” The response, “You may Sir, you may check out anytime you like, but you must vacate the room by 12:00 p.m. I ended the conference call a little frustrated and immediately went down to check out!

How simple my question and yet so difficult a response. Who’s English were we speaking any way? Was my question too far off? How convenient to be able to check out anytime I like, but how thankful I was, to be able to leave – fortunately, for me, this was not the Hotel California [You may check out anytime you like, but you can never leave]. How would you clarify the check out time? Did I ask the wrong question? It goes to prove that even the most simple of cultural misunderstandings may be interpreted in multiple ways.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Does Bigotry Exist in 2006?

I try to educate others and myself, on cultural awareness issues, through the publishing of weekly cultural tips. I recently posted a tip on working with Israeli Orthodox Jews and the exchange of business cards (see below). Interestingly enough, I received a letter by a professional female in direct opposition of my tip. This individual was extremely offended. I am sharing her anonymous letter as an educational moment. I flash back to the quote, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time” (Abraham Lincoln).

Do bigots actually live and thrive in today’s American and/or global society? It appears some cultures are not afforded the same rights as others. We are asked to be accepting of all, but it appears that the all is minus more than half of the worlds population (54% or 3 billion plus) the Jew, the Christian, and the Moslem.

Take away: Tolerance is for all, not some. This goes back to a simple policy of “Disagree and Commit.” We don’t have to like everything, but some things are cultural and not ours to change.

My Cultural Tip: If working in or visiting Israel, business cards should be printed in English letters on one side and Hebrew on the other. Typically, cards that are engraved are considered more prestigious. It is important to take your cue from your local counterpart as to when it is appropriate to exchange business cards. However, in the event that a business woman finds herself presenting her business card to an Orthodox Jew, she should place the card on the table in front of him. This is because Orthodox Jews are not supposed to accept anything that is directly handed to them by a woman.

Mike,

I want to let you know that I found the latest Cultural Tip, extremely offensive.

Yes, it may not be culturally acceptable for Orthodox Jews to accept a business card handed directly to them from a woman. However, I used to work for the American Jewish Committee in Seattle, and cannot imagine their female executive director or board members accommodating this custom when dealing with Israeli Orthodox colleagues. It is not acceptable in our culture to insinuate that women are unclean, or that American women working overseas should kowtow to sexist religious beliefs. Are American service women now going to have to adopt a burka to serve in Islamic countries?

I would appreciate an extension of cultural sensitivity to the women working here.

Signed Anonymous

This is my response:

Correct me if I am wrong, but I draw a conclusion of ethnocentrism and bigotry.

Hi Anonymous,

The tips are taken directly from a world source leader in global communication and cultural know-how. The cultural tips are definitely not meant to offend, but rather to bring about awareness of difference and hopefully, tolerance of another's customs and beliefs (right or wrong). As I have offended you, I apologize for the offense you have taken on the Working with Israel and Orthodox Jew business card exchange. However, I would love to hear from the American Jewish Committee Council women executives on their opinion of the cultural tip. The tip is referring more to a sensitivity of women and a respect for women, rather than a perception of being unclean or a second class citizen.

Here is what I wanted to ask but didn't: Would it be better if women wore buttons to announce their monthly cycle, I think not. What is the answer?

Take Note: In a great cultural book called "Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, states, "Israel is a democratic and egalitarian culture built on competition. The leveling and educational influences of general military service help to develop a sense of equality. Although there is inequality in roles, equal rights are guaranteed to all. (Morrison, Conaway, and Borden 1994)." Although, saying this, across the world there is still much work to be done on human rights, especially for women and other minority groups. Where in the world would we be without women? We would not have 6 billion people on Earth, without women, this is a fact.

A recent real life example: Today (July, 24, 2006) I attended an EEO/Diversity forum where a female Air Force Academy graduate and a U2 pilot discussed her feelings of being forced to wear the burka and the inability to drive a car alone in a Middle Eastern country. When I personally served in the military internationally, many of my female peers were put into the same uncomfortable cultural situation. Women are not afforded the choice of wearing the burka if they desire to leave the compound. Many times my women peers were offended, but they adhered to the cultural guidelines if they went off site.

Back to your response, in the U.S. customs are culturally different and the tip is not necessarily directed at interacting with US Orthodox Jews. An Orthodox Jew in the US will most likely accept a business card, or money exchange across genders. However, in Israel, the Orthodox Jew will most likely not reach for the card. A large percentage of Israeli Jews are secularists, which rarely observe the requirements of their faith. Many times cultures will make exceptions for a lack of cultural sensitivity of people they interact with.

Thanks for your feedback,

Mike

Please write and post a comment as I love dialogue!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Swastikas: Are Symbols and Words Sacred? Should their Meaning Change?

How did a symbol with an ancient past begin its journey from mystic rune to a fascist emblem? I asked this question from Albuquerque, New Mexico’s KiMo Theatre. I was surrounded by symbolic swastikas, they were everywhere in the decorum. Please note: The Albuquerque KiMo theatre still displays Indian swastikas today. I am not talking about 1, but maybe 50, maybe more. I was dumbfounded and speechless to encounter so many swastikas. Why? Because I perceive the swastika as a symbol of cultural insensitivity, bad luck (death), genocide, hatred, Hitler, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Remember? Hitler and his Nazis party used the swastikas to murder millions of Jewish people and anyone supporting the Jews, but for centuries before this hideous outrage, the use of the swastika symbol had deep roots in both positive and negative interpretation. What is the real meaning?

What is the history of the swastika? Does this symbol represent good or evil? Should symbols, which groups steal, adopt, or change, be taken back (change the meaning back from a negative to a positive)?

Who Has Used the Swastika as a Symbol Prior to the German Nazis?

Some American Indian Tribes (Good Luck)

Navajo (Whirling Log, Healing Rituals)

Hopi (Represented The Wandering Tribes)

East Indian (The Sun, Wheel of Birth & Regeneration, Vishnu)

Vedic (Mythical Demonic Semi-Deity)

Sumeria (Four Powers of Nature)

Greek (Greek Cross Similarities)

Mayan (Wheel of Life)

Pre 1930 -American (Good Luck)

Pre 1930 American Boy Scout Flag (Black Flag with White Swastika)

Buddhist (Symbol for Peace)

Nordic runes

Teutonic Knights

Others

My perception (Hatred, Intolerance)

Hitler and the Nazis! In 1920, Adolf Hitler decided that the Nazi party needed to stand alone with a distinct insignia, representative flag, and other propaganda. For Hitler, the new flag had to be "a symbol of our own struggle" as well as an "highly effective as a poster." (Mein Kampf, pg. 495) On August 7, 1920, at the Salzburg Congress, a Swastikas flag became the official emblem of the Nazi Party.

Seven years after the Nazi flag was introduced, the KiMo theatre was designed and built (1927) using the style and designs of several American Indian cultures common to the American southwest at that time. One of these American Indian symbols included the swastika. Can the same symbol be representative of many meanings? Who’s symbolic meaning is correct, the sender of the symbol or the receiver of the symbol?

“Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the original design elements of the KiMo Theatre are preserved for their original cultural significance. Although today the swastika can evoke negative emotions, the KiMo invites visitors to remember that the original meaning of this ancient sacred symbol is one of life and prosperity. “Additional information can be found here, which happens to be the source of the paragraph listed above.

Things which make you go Hmmmmm! Comments welcome.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Driving Some Parents Crazy! It’s What Teenagers Do Best


Growing up in Ft. Walton Beach Florida, my friends, Gerard Harris, Freddy Deshon, and I were young surfers with a passion to get behind the wheel of our own cars. We had people to see and places to go, especially, if the surf was up.

On my fifteenth birthday I received my driver permit and one year later on my sweet sixteenth, I passed my test and received my driver license. By the time I turned sixteen, I had many thousands of driving miles under my belt. My vast driving experience included the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

I was 16 and my new license was still warm, you might even say, “Hot off the press,” when I swung by to pick up Gerard in my own car. Excited to finally have wheels, we departed Gerard’s house to pick up Fred. However, we ran into some interference with Fred’s parents. It was fairly obvious that Fred’s parents were experiencing some cognitive dissonance over their sons (Fred and Markus) riding with a newly licensed driver. Fred senior comes out of the house and steps up to the car to utter, “Um, yeah, Fred and Markus are not allowed to drive with you, until you have 500 solo (driving without parents) miles under your belt.” Fred senior leans his head into my car and jots down my odometer reading. Talk about driving your business with data. Respectfully, we said, “Sounds good.”

Young Fred looking sad and very disappointed, as he watched us back out of the drive way and head out on the highway, with The Cars tape blaring “Let the good times roll.”

Little did Fred Senior know, what was about to take place. Gerard and I took turns, we drove up and down the Florida panhandle pulling into every beach, to and from Pensacola and then to Navarre, to Destin and back again. By the very next day Gerard and I pull into Fred’s driveway with 500 plus miles added to the odometer, much to Fred Senior’s great dismay. Gerard and I had pulled off a great feat that Fred Senior believed would take us much longer.

Did Fred senior let young Fred get into the car? Nope! Fred Senior says out of shock, “Right, Freddy can’t drive with you until you have six weeks solo driving experience.” Gerard and I back out of the driveway and got back on the highway.

Please note: Where there is a will there is a way, so be careful what you say!