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Category: memorial

11/07/08 12:42 - ID#46581

My Hero - John W. "Jack" Larson

Some time ago (e:Drew) encouraged everyone to write about their hero. There has never been any doubt about who that is for me, but I've hesitated because I feel like nothing I write could ever be good enough. I'm inspired tonight so I want to talk to you about the man who gave me a chance in life - my grandfather Jack Larson.

Exerpt from the USS Rich DE695 Wiki Page:

On June 8th, 1944, at approximately 09:20, when the USS Rich was about 300 yards (300 m) from the minesweeper Staff, which was in the process of taking USS Glennon in tow, a mine exploded 50 yards (50 m) off Rich's starboard beam. This tripped circuit breakers, knocked out the ship's lighting, shook up the ship hard, and knocked sailors off their feet, but caused no structural damage.

Three minutes later, a second mine went off directly under the ship. Approximately 50 feet of her stern was blown off, from frame 130 aft, just aft of the 1.1-inch mount in 'X' position. Even though the blown-off stern section caught fire, survivors clung to her wreckage, and it sank shortly afterward.

A third mine, another influence mine, exploded below the ice machine room forward, delivering the final blow 2 minutes later. The forward section was totally wrecked, the flying bridge demolished, and forward fire room severely damaged, and the mast came crashing down. Life rafts were ordered cut loose, and Rich was ordered abandoned. A few minutes later, she sank. Of her crew, 27 were killed, 73 wounded, and 62 missing; in all, 91 were killed outright or died of wounds following their rescue. Rich was the only American destroyer escort lost in the invasion force.

I've spent countless hours wondering what went through his mind when the Rich was destroyed. You're 18 years old, disoriented, many of your friends are dying or dead, you are blown off of your ship, you see a floating hand with a ring, you wonder if your time has come.

Jack bore the scars of the war for his entire life, his back littered with shrapnel wounds and gouges in his flesh, but he also learned the traits that earned his generation the title "Greatest". Having come from a very, very poor family in Pennsylvania, and going through this experience, he had a strong sense of family, of sacrifice, of loving your neighbor and community, things that were the products of hardship and shared suffering.

One of the things I admired most about Grampa was his work ethic. I'll never forget the early mornings, the metal lunch pail, the smell of coffee, the thermos, the simple eggs and toast (he liked the eggs with lots of pepper). He was a millwright, a proud Union blue collar man who worked himself to the bone for over 35 years, getting up early every day to give his family the best life he could provide. When he was away from work he always had to be working on something outdoors. I used to joke that he would rake the sidewalk if it meant he could be productive. In his old age he would volunteer at WCA hospital, serving meals and pushing wheelchairs.

The most precious thing in life to Jack Larson was his family. Although he already had done a great job raising sons of his own, his work ethic, the sense of sacrifice, and something I can only describe as unconditional love led him and my grandmother to take in two babies whose mother had left them. I can't imagine being in your fifties and starting the parenting process over again from scratch. You're near retirement, you've done enough already, and this is the time you are supposed to enjoy the fruits of your labor. No, not for Jack, he never got the ride into the sunset. There was more to do.

So in a way Jack became a father again. I had the best childhood a kid could ever ask for, something that may never have come if not for his generosity. Favorite memories of mine are the times on the weekend when he would bring sweets from Ecklof's Bakery for us to eat while we watched Sesame Street, and when he would deputize us, driving us around to help take care of the falling leaves and brush. Josh and I were the happiest kids in the world. If we weren't laughing we were sleeping. It took me so many years to realize we weren't a burden, but instead his greatest joy.

How do you thank someone for sacrificing their golden years to give you a decent shot at life? It hit me during my freshman year at UB that my grandparents wouldn't be around forever. You can call them at the moment, you can thank someone, you can tell them you love them, but there isn't anything you can do to justify your position, something that makes you thankful but also fills you with grief at times.

Jack was a tough son of a bitch. He suffered through diabetes, lieukemia and heart disease. When he was dying I remember sitting down and looking into his eyes. Jesus Christ, nobody deserved to suffer less than him. His eyes were yellow, lifeless, and I started thinking about whether he could see or hear or understand. You start thinking about the supernatural. This was the first real loss I ever had to come to terms with. I had a girlfriend at the time that I loved dearly, I had a great job, and he saw me happy which I hope comforted him. I held it together until during the funeral when the military people brought his flag, after which I cried until I couldn't breathe. Things had come full circle.

I think I've learned that the only way to justify your existence, and the way to thank someone like this is to not waste the opportunity you've been given. During my Blue Period, when I couldn't (wouldn't) get off the couch I remember looking at the flag from his grave, the only material possession I care about. You CANNOT throw away something that someone else worked himself to death to achieve. He saved me after death. He lives on through me, and anything good I can say about myself comes from his example.

If you are willing to extend your hand, and if you can sacrifice part of yourself, not even everything like Jack Larson did, you can impact someone far greater than you realize. If I end up being a fraction of the man my grandfather was, I think I'll be a fine man indeed.

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Permalink: My_Hero_John_W_quot_Jack_quot_Larson.html
Words: 1099
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: politics

11/04/08 06:36 - 59ºF - ID#46523

5 Stages of Grief

I'm coming to the realization it is more likely than not we will have an honest to God left winger in the White House, but mercifully the stages of grief are rolling by. I remember in 2004 (e:Terry) wrote a post saying essentially, "Well, the country voted for him" and trying his best to come to terms with things and move on. So, I'm going to do the same. Besides, this time I didn't feel I was choosing between the lesser of two evils. I don't love either guy but I don't hate them either.

Honestly if I were voting with my heart I would have voted for Senator Obama tonight. Up until the moment I entered the booth my heart was leading me to Obama. There are a number of things I absolutely love about him. His family situation was similar to mine. Josh and I were raised by a single parent, with the help of Grandparents. I understand very well the relationship he had with his Grandmother. I also like that he turned his unorthodox family situation into a desire to be a great father and husband someday, and he is a great family man. His heart is in the right place, and I think he will represent us well. After all, our superficial allies liking us is worthless unless it gains us something tangible. To this end I think he can be really effective.

In the end, the things I love about him have almost nothing to do with his job as US President. Anyway, what I'm really nervous about is the Senate outcome. A left wing supermajority would be a disaster with some of the most partisan and foolish Congressional leaders I can remember in charge. I'm praying America doesn't overreact. If they don't overreact we'll be fine. We won't be unified, we will still be as divided as ever, but we'll be able to live through what is going to be a very difficult Presidency no matter who wins the race. I know I don't want that job.
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Permalink: 5_Stages_of_Grief.html
Words: 343
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: politics

11/04/08 02:49 - 67ºF - ID#46518

Palin Joke

I thought I would share a Palin joke I heard since sexism is funny, in certain cases of course. Obama supporters will love this one.

Q: What is the difference between Palin's mouth and her vagina?

A: What comes out of Palin's vagina is retarded only HALF the time.

Bada boom. Jokes like that make me laugh and cringe at the same time.
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Permalink: Palin_Joke.html
Words: 63
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: potpourri

11/03/08 01:21 - 59ºF - ID#46491

Happy Monday

Well, it had better be a good Monday considering how Sunday went. The Bills lost and my FFL team is less than a point away from taking a 5th loss. Not the worst day in the world, I know, but I sat there for hours watching and got no payoff.

By the way, it was nice to see everyone at the party on Friday. Special greetings go out to (e:DCoffee) and (e:MMTornow) who I met for the first time. It's weird sometimes how you can recognize people in the neighborhood yet never actually meet for a while. It was also nice to see a fetching (e:Jenks) again - sorry about not getting your outfit!

Obviously, we select our next President tomorrow. At first when (e:Drew) told me he expected an Obama landslide I scoffed, but it looks like he may very well get his wish in at least one metric. People have been suggesting riots no matter who wins, so I'm locking myself in the apartment with a bottle of St. Bernardus - and no you can't have any.

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Permalink: Happy_Monday.html
Words: 183
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: humor

10/24/08 06:33 - 52ºF - ID#46308

Politics Making People Nuts

I saw this on a certain video site just now and I had to share this. I really hope it comes out. Some dude doesn't realize when a freakin Tears for Fears song came out. Not the worst mistake in the world, but still pretty funny. I put my response in Comic Sans, just for (e:Tinypliny) - oh - and if anyone is going to make fun of the song, shut up. Eheh.

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Permalink: Politics_Making_People_Nuts.html
Words: 76
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: politics

10/21/08 08:25 - 46ºF - ID#46225

Why I Try To Stay Anon

Lexus with McCain/Palin bumper sticker vandalized

This is something I've thought about before - what are the odds of my property being vandalized if I had the wrong bumper sticker on the car, or the wrong sign on the yard? In this climate, in this neighborhood, I would give it about a 70/30 chance, which is why I don't advertise anything politically anywhere.

I also recall after the 2004 election when I got threatened and called a racist, homophobe, among other things. Since then I haven't put my face up on the site anymore, and I have been a lot more careful concerning talking about where in the neighborhood I live. Not that I would eschew my 2nd Amendment rights, but it's probably better to just avoid the confrontation.

Things are much worse now than in 2004. Hate crimes, violence on subways, people at rallies being worked up into a creepy froth. What's going to happen in 2012? All out pitchfork man hunts, depending on where you live? Fuck that. People need to get a grip.

For the record, I don't hate anyone.
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Permalink: Why_I_Try_To_Stay_Anon.html
Words: 187
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: potpourri

10/20/08 07:04 - ID#46215

Potpourri this time, for real

Take 2 Nurses to Bed and Call Me in the Morning

Well, I was off all last week, which was nice except for the fact that I got sick on Wednesday with this nasty cold, the effects of which I am still feeling, albeit a little less than before. Honestly I was starting to get bored. There is only so much Halo to play and only so much Vitamin C to take. I missed out on a couple of good nights on the town, but there will always be more nights out.

Jason: Local Media Pundit Once Again...

...or not. I actually got a call from a friend at a certain local station asking to go on the air again (the first time being during the 190 standoff) and talk about the Presidential Debates. They wanted opinions from average Democratics and average Republicans, but I turned them down. First of all, I'm not a Republican anymore. Yeah, I'm not a typical Elmwood left winger, but I thought I would give a real right winger a shot. Secondly, I don't have too many nice things to say about either candidate. I actually read what they say and whether they are full of shit on certain topics. In retrospect I'm glad I made that choice because in light of recent events it seems people can't get a fucking grip when it comes to this stuff.

My New Man Crushes

I have two man crushes: Trent Edwards and Donte Whitner.

Straight up, I'm not ashamed to say it, I love Donte Whitner. How can you love a football player? Fellow football fans know what I'm talking about. Against Oakland, this guy chased down Johnny Lee Higgins, who started showboating while running for a touchdown, and tackled him in the end zone. Yeah, he got a penalty for it, but he also said afterward that nobody is gonna disrespect his team like that, that they show respect to all their opponents and expect nothing less than the same. That's right Donte!

Trent Edwards is going to be the face of the Buffalo Bills for many years to come, and I think we are unbelievably lucky to have that guy on our team. I saw an interview where he put on his helmet and talked about how it felt to wear the helmet, how proud he was to wear the Bills emblem. His play speaks for itself. He got knocked out by all-muscle Adrian Wilson, came back after the bye and was lights out. Amazing! This is, again, a real athlete role model for aspiring Quarterbacks. Trent's gonna bring us to the promised land!

The Bellini

Sigh, I just had to mention the white man's firewater. Anyone familiar with how to make a peach puree? I got the Prosecco part down but I wonder if anyone has experience with this. I'm not trying to serve people a mouthful of pulp. Someone please help me.
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Permalink: Potpourri_this_time_for_real.html
Words: 487
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: rant

10/13/08 10:51 - 62ºF - ID#46083

Josh Was Right - People Working

What a beautiful day. Welcome to my vacation. I'd love to get coffee but I can't because there is a line out the door. Does nobody have a fucking job here? I guess if you can get the milk for free there's no reason to buy the cow. Good God.
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Permalink: Josh_Was_Right_People_Working.html
Words: 50
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: potpourri

10/10/08 02:22 - 64ºF - ID#46045

In Vacation Mode

Yep. You've been here at one point or another if you've had a job. I'm not going anywhere really. I'll be home. The minutes tick tick tick by.
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Permalink: In_Vacation_Mode.html
Words: 28
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: fun

10/09/08 07:12 - 63ºF - ID#46028

True To Life Games

It seems like video games are becoming more and more real these days. One of my favorite single player games of all time is Call of Duty 4. It isn't your typical war game. In fact, the message you receive loud and clear is that war is ugly, brutal, and devastating to people long-term, including the people who wage it.

You also get different perspectives. For example, you go through the following scenarios:

1) Dying in a nuclear explosion
2) As a government leader, being executed by Muslim extremists
3) Watching a friend and mentor die before your eyes

All of this in glorious HD resolution! But the game is even more real than I previously thought it to be. There is one mission where you are a gunner in an AC-130 gunship, floating in the air, vaporizing the enemy with giant bullets. The guys you fly with in the mission often make ironic comments or crack jokes about the situation below.

Last night Josh and I were on YouTube looking for videos of Apache Longbows administering justice to the enemy, when - ta da - we found some videos of AC-130 gunships under the cover of darkness just like in Call of Duty! In one video, the first thing a guy says is "If you find me some bad guys, I'll buy you ice cream for dinner!" I almost fell out of my chair laughing once I realized how much it resembled the mission in the game, and how they exaggerated it to sort of point the finger at attitudes like this.

Now, don't get me wrong - stuff like that isn't in every video, or even nearly the majority. I certainly am not one to give a damn if a shithead terrorist gets what's coming to him, either. What I find interesting, and frightening, is the potential for humans to be so callous. I don't think we'll ever learn.

  • By the way, anyone on XBOX Live? ***

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Permalink: True_To_Life_Games.html
Words: 324
Location: Buffalo, NY



New Site Wide Comments

paul said to tinypliny
I miss you too!...

tinypliny said to paul
Oh I see the sheep are there too. Is this the entirety of your flock? :D...

tinypliny said to paul
Haha, I remember when Basra used to love these. :)...

tinypliny said to paul
How many of these dolls have you hoarded? More importantly, where do they live and what happened to ...