Friday, October 21, 2011

Twenty years ago today...and I remember

20 years ago today…I remember the hour; and the minute...the location and the moment you came into the world! You were a breath of fresh air for all of us…and every day since then has been the same. I remember the Boy Scouts; the hockey games; towing you behind the car in snow storms at Ft. Bragg; thinking about you learning to drive at 9 years of age! I remember when you broke your elbow playing roller hockey; riding the 4 wheeler; your first day on skis; your second day on a snowboard; the times with Renegade and Ranger; the loss of Rusty; Sherman and Liz…and a host of other animals like Luther! I remember that day you became an Eagle Scout…and completed that part of life’s journey...and then like now...thinking how very proud of you…for being you.
I remember when you would fall asleep in my lap; and hold my hand at the mall…I remember your first goal on the ice; our undefeated season…and your first lacrosse game. I remember watching you with animals and remarking how proud I was at your compassion in how you handled them…and the maturity you showed in meeting new people as you moved through your teen years. I remember the travels; the people whose life you touched…and how they touched yours...the day you became a brother...and a mentor... 
I remember so much about the past 20 years my son…and all of it has made me proud. Twenty years is a long time but you have so much more to do…and so much more to give to this world…to make change and contribute where others will not...enjoy this day…and all that it brings you…for you are my son….and I am nothing less than a very proud father.
Thank you Jake…for these past twenty years...I am and will always be grateful...
Love
Dad

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye

There are many things that can be gleamed from the tragic loss of life that was Steve Jobs; dignity; integrity and an overwhelming sense that no matter who we are or how rich we have become..in the end...we all are destined to pass on.
I was taken aback by the many press releases I had read on the man and had followed his career with some sense of wonderment and awe...as many others have as well...but it was not till I read some of the words that he extolled in his last days prior to his death that my respect for him soared. See I was never and Apple or a MAC convert...the boys...yes...and oh did I pay the monetary price (literally) for it...but I was happy with my IPOD and just running down the street oblivious to the world around me...but the man from Apple who knew he was going to die had some very well written versus that I could relate to over time.
“I once asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.”  When a father looks back on his life he sees many things; mistakes, gains; losses and of course loves...but there is no greater gift then holding a child and watching him (or her) grow up and become an active participant in life. As of the writing of this passage, I just received a phone call from Ian...and we had a discussion about hockey...and he could tell that he made my day by just by calling. Jake did the same thing this A.M. as he discussed his upcoming time off...it was so good to catch up with them...and much needed... today of all days. Steve Jobs was correct in that everything associated with kids has been a miracle for me and carried me through some very tough spots...even if it meant shelling out major dollars for all those Apple products...it was money well spent.   
“It was all about living life on his own terms and not wasting a moment with things he didn’t think were important. He was aware that his time on earth was limited”. I recently had a major argument with my father...albeit for many reasons...I don’t think he would ever get my choices; my motivations; my rationale for what made me tick. At this point in my life it was about giving to those that could not do for themselves and for helping those in need. I never sought the refuge in family that many others have and yet my own children are the basis for what drives me to do what is right...that to me is what is important. The ideals that Steve Jobs laid out in securing Apple as a global giant came from a dream of giving; giving to others and keeping the ones that matter close...that was a gift from Apple that very few will ever be able to see...I am glad I have.  
 “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”  Again...when I look back on what my father and others have said...I have the moral conviction to do what is right...and know that those decisions help others. In the construct of my own life I have had the successes and failures that make one stand back and take notice...and yet...in matters of the heart I am devastated. It is in these matters that I wish I had had the intuition to follow my heart...and to ensure that was never without the one I not only loved but ultimately needed...and yet here I am again...alone...and all by my own choosing.
Steve Jobs did not choose to die...he choose to live a life that was predicated upon the belief in providing for those that mattered most to him ...and he did this his whole life. He was not a philanthropist...he was something more important...he was a husband and a father...who put his family first...and all the other things second only to that. It is lesson from the man synonymous with Apple that many of us should learn...before we have no time left.
Thank you Steve .and may God keep you close



In the World We Live

Good Morning...came across this poster yesterday after a discussion with an NGO representative. In the end people who work in this field have some very good intentions...but it is not them that you have to worry about...it's about the bad guys who just wont give you a break...and so that is why we are here!

Enjoy

I miss you...more than you could ever realize

Brian 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making a Diference...One Mission at a Time

And so we begin....In the daily effort to keep everyone up to date on our activities…I am filing this report…suffice to say the Life On Point Team is working hard. Besides keeping a close watch for narcotics in this jungle environment, we are monitoring the flow of boats along the river in our operational area looking for a different type of illegal merchandise -- women and girls being trafficked into a thriving sex industry from Burma.
On a recent evening, several of the boats inched their way down the river. We established a checkpoint and immediately boarded the boats looking for those whose only chance at freedom was if we were able to identify them and wrestle them from these criminals. Our team consists of an American, a Burmese interpreter and several well paid Karen rebels hell bent on securing freedom for these women and girls. The trafficking networks in this area are well organized; after a series of discussions punctuated with the threat of violence and a thorough search of the vessel we found communications equipment that rivaled anything I had seen or used in the last 20 years in the military. Our check point just across the border from Thailand was paying off. We stopped a total of 10 vessels over a 24 hour period and secured weapons, drugs and other materials…but no women or young girls. I was told that riverine pirates were bringing in illegal immigrants as sex slaves through these channels but as on this evening we found nothing other then illegal equipment. If nothing else taking it and dropping it in the river eliminates threats later that we might have to deal with.
24 Hours Later... On a very dark night with no illumination very deep in the jungle, we made a breakthrough. We were able to “capture” four Burmese pirates who were in the process of taking 4 women from the village close to our camp. Had they made it to the boat these women would have disappeared forever..and the "legal system took over...after conferring with the village elder the rebels assigned to our team took the traffickers deep into the jungle – I never saw them again…nor did I care to ask “what happened?” …for you see…here in Burma you know the answer before the question is even asked. The challenge is daunting for the Life On Point Team…there are way too many points to cover where this type of activity takes place...but it does...way to often. 
You never know…
The jungle invites many mysteries and stories. I was recently alerted that an “American woman” was in the area and approaching the village. When we finally met her she was stunned to see these “advisors” working so deep in this area. She stated she worked for an American charity and that she too had illegally entered the country. Then she told us about what she had seen in the villages just to the north…systematic rape and torture…and so now she was on the run. We made sure that she got back across to safety…a sort of “American’s helping American’s” in a far off land.
After her travel back to Bangkok our office received an email stating she was home…and a sincere “thank you” for getting her home to her family. The end of the story…no…she states she will be back helping those that suffered the most in that brutal attack. I did not have the heart to tell her that those women who were so brutally rape were subsequently taken across the border a couple of weeks ago. As of this writing...we missed them and the opportunity to bring them home…and yet for every success there are countless failures predicated upon the size of the problem.
The area we are located in southern Burma has a catapulted to the frontlines in the battle against trafficking primarily because of its proximity to rural Thailand that our intelligence has identified as supplying women and girls to the regional trafficking networks. On a daily basis  of entry along the Thai-Burmese border and miles upon miles along the rivers where it is easy to steal human life and sell it for whatever purpose.  
I see women not just from Burma but also Laos and even southern China as they transit on foot to the flesh markets in Bangkok or other Asian capitals. It is a travesty to see these women as young as 14 on their way to a life that makes most of us sick. In the end our efforts to date have rescued 51 women (girls) over the past several months but such numbers are only a fraction of the poor and economically vulnerable women and girls trafficked into the sex trade across this jungle. There are reports that over two million women and children are trapped in the global child-sex trade.
In the End...
I hope these figures are incorrect…if not…then we have an inordinate amount of work left to do. Sometimes violence, or the threat of such is the only way to get things done…here in the jungle…it is the law by which we operate…and continue to make a difference.
I miss you...and love you always!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Critics Abound

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done."

As we get ready to head back into the jungle I felt compelled to let you know just what is happening. The whole story can’t be illuminated in my words but suffice to say that capturing some of it is more important than just turning a blind eye. I called home the other day – a call I have made with less and less frequency. They will never understand the “why” of this work nor the great sense of satisfaction that comes from helping those that could never defend themselves…and at the end of the day looking in the mirror and knowing that your actions did indeed help those in need. As quoted from President Roosevelt above…it’s not about the critic but all about the doer…that is what matters most.
"Don't feel sorry for me...feel sorry for the children, for they are most at risk" BH 
Indeed, child rape is spreading like a wildfire in Southeast Asia. Burma’s child sex slave industry is globally famous. Inside Burma it is estimated that over 3,500 child rape cases have languished in a defunct court system in just this past year alone. Across the border, Thai officials have released figures showing that in some regions of its nation, between half and 90 percent of sexual crimes and abuse occur against minors.
Throughout Southeast Asia, it is estimated that some 300,000 women and children are involved in the sex trade. They work in border towns between Burma and China, or even on the streets of Bangkok. Some are ethnic Chinese nationals seeking a better life in Southeast Asia. They have no money and many have lost their families – or have been sold off by them. They march through malaria-infested jungles in Laos and Burma and then ride in cramped vans into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, pimps and other more nefarious types begin to bargain for their ownership and services ($2,000-$4,000) while expecting nothing less than full and total allegiance from these victims. Some of the women will be traded as much as seven to 10 times between pimps and criminal gangs.
Some of these women are just outright kidnapped by the same marauders and military personnel that bought me to this hell in the first place…and still others are sold by their parents and relatives as a means of survival for the village and/or the family. Many that I see are orphans…but all will wind up in the sex trade. As you read this today…make no mistake…this is human slavery…and those that orchestrate it are the true animals that our society has fostered. As it unfolds in front of me I see that it is run with a kind of military precision that requires that same in return in order to stamp it out…and that is what we do!
And now we go across…back to the jungle; the danger; and the reality that is human trafficking…and my reality…which is now fighting it. Be well and be safe and know that as you read this we are making a difference…where others would not.
I miss you… 

B

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saving Women and Children

"It is long past time for the international community to realize that women and children in many parts of the world are being sold on the international market like any other commodity...no justification whatsoever exists for presuming the consent of the victims to such treatment or for failing to hold their abusers accountable"

It has been an emotional day across the globe but one that still requires focus on what we are doing. The “human trade industry” here in Burma is huge and although we make some strides the reality is our efforts are but a ripple in the ocean. We target the individuals that target those who can’t help themselves…the women and the children who are the victims in this perverse world. I can’t tell you how many victims there are but I can tell you that our initial efforts have not only raised awareness but also reunited those held hostage in an industry that never sees a measure of success for those oppressed.
How it happens…The trafficking of Burmese women and girls into Thailand is appalling in its efficiency and ruthlessness. Driven by the desire to maximize profit and by the fear of HIV/AIDS, agents acting on behalf of brothel owners infiltrate ever more remote areas of Burma seeking unsuspecting recruits. Virgin girls are particularly sought after because they bring a higher price and pose less of a threat of exposure to sexually transmitted disease. The agents promise the women and girls jobs as waitresses or dishwashers, with good pay and new clothes. Family members or friends typically accompany the women and girls to the Thai border, where they receive a payment ranging from 10,000 baht ($400) to 20,000 baht ($800) from someone associated with the brothel. This payment becomes the debt, usually doubled with interest, which the women and girls must work to pay off, not by waitressing or dishwashing, but through sexual servitude.
Daily life…The women and girls face a wide range of abuse, including debt bondage; illegal confinement; forced labor; rape; physical abuse; exposure to HIV/AIDS; and in some cases, murder. Initially, young girls like are kept in what is known as the "the room to unveil virgins." Later they are moved to the "selection" room, where they are displayed in windowed enclosures wearing numbers. The sex occurs in small cubicles where the women and girls also live and where the bed is often little more than a concrete bunk. Working conditions are inhumane. The women and girls work ten to eighteen hours a day, about twenty-five days a month. They average between five and fifteen clients a day. Health care and birth control education are minimal. In some instances, pregnant women are forced either to abort illegally or to continue to service clients well into their pregnancies. Many of the girls and women are brought to Thailand as virgins; most return to Burma with HIV.
What we are doing…The international community must step up pressure not only on the Thai government, to meet its international obligations, but the Burmese government as well. Just as the Thai police raid the same brothels they patronize and arrest women as illegal immigrants whom they may have hired the night before, Burmese officials arrest deported women and girls for illegal departure whose recruitment to Thailand they may have facilitated by taking bribes from brothel agents. It is incumbent on the Burmese government to investigate and prosecute those involved in trafficking on the Burmese side of the border. Just as important for the safety and well-being of the women and girls, however, is pressure on SLORC to allow regular access to Burmese villages and detention centers by international human rights and humanitarian organizations.
None of the measures needed to stop trafficking and related abuses will take place without concerted international pressure as well as tactical applications like LOPC…but like everything else that is illegal…there is too much money to be made from the practice.
We continue the fight from the jungle…hitting hard and hitting often…keeping those that prey on women and children on the defense. In over 60 years of this type of activity there have been very few successes…until now!
More to follow...from the jungle

A New Era...9/11/2011

We still live in a very dangerous world 10 years after the devastating attacks on our country…and yet more and more of us are actually far safer then we have ever been before. The reason for this is not singularly one program; our military or even the knowledge that there are those out there who wish us ill will. It is the collective national intellect that understands that those that those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11 can now also be targeted and held at hostage...in the same manner that others have held us hostage for years. Our own intellect and the overarching human will to survive is no match for those cowards who started this war many years ago…and it’s that spirit that will keep us free and always…on the hunt!

More to follow…
Brian    

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mirror...Mirror...On the Wall…

The past few days have been filled with excitement and loads of work. Deploying over 8000 miles self sufficiently or in my case “on my own” has been nothing short of painful. There are missed flights; customs inspections; changed flights and the ubiquitous lost piece of critical luggage has punctuated the last 48 hours as we get ready to enter back into the jungle. I remember when $1000.00 dollars seemed like such a large sum of money and now we spend that on excess baggage fees and taxi cabs to take us to the hotel here in Asia for our last bit of R&R before the long trip into the jungle. It's the type of overland movement that makes you ask your self..."why"

I spoke to several folks over the weekend…all of whom have asked “why” do I continue to do this. It is not an easy task nor is it without inherent danger but it does allow me to make a difference in areas that few would ever tread. I use to look in the mirror as many of you do and ask the simple question…”have I done anything today that will make a difference in the world for those in need?”  With the advent of the activities over the past year I can answer succinctly…Yes!
What I am referencing has nothing to do with being a good parent or good to your fellow employees…these are inherently simple yet mandatory tasks that we do because we care about those around us.  What I am talking about is stepping out of your comfort zone and doing the difficult things because those are the ones that make a difference…helping those that can’t help themselves. When I look in the mirror especially over the next few months I know that organizationally as well as personally… we have done well.

More to follow on the Anti-trafficking campaign we are now on! 
Brian

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Watch your six…praise the Lord…and pass the ammo!

Been one hell of a month…long hours and even longer travel…but here I am. I received a letter yesterday about introspection, love and God. It was heartfelt and very emotional …I wish I was able to write like that. It spoke of forgiveness and the acceptance of who we are and where in life we need to be…and how important ones faith is in everything we do.
I am with the boys and back from overseas for a few days. Buying school clothes, fixing "new" cars and getting ready to leave again all punctuated the day for us. Jake will be heading off to sophomore year in college and is quite excited. He sent me an email yesterday that was pricelessless..."Dad...seems I spent all my school money on summer vacation...can you help?" He knows I will because that is what a father does for his son! Ian is 6 feet tall and a runner. ..a rock solid long distance runner! Unlike Jake he is adroit at saving money in the hopes of purchasing a VW "hippie" van...not sure where he got that from? I look at them both and am captivated at what they have done and more importantly what they will do.  I previously had written that when I am away I miss them…and now while I am with them…I realize that even more. Some contract meetings here on Monday and Tuesday and then back to the grind…more travel and long hours…and then back into the jungle…but with a renewed faith…and a sense of purpose…not only in myself…but in the boys as well…for no matter the distance they will always be with me…as demonstrated today…and we will always have faith…in each other…and our Father!
Brian

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A dangerous time to be an American

No doubt many of you woke over the past several days to hear about the loss of life aboard the helicopter bought down by militants in Afghanistan. Onboard were 30 personnel; 17 of which were from the Navy SEALS. A sad day for the SEAL community, United States Special Operations and the services in totality. What you may not have read was yesterday another American was taken hostage in Pakistan and no doubt will be held for ransom in a cruel game initiated by Al Quaida to garner funding for there war. It's a sad way to fight but when you are fighting a losing battle...you will do anything necessary to maintain momentum...including taking a 65 year old aid worker who was doing nothing more than trying to make a difference for those that have nothing. These people who have initiated this action are cowards...and should be eliminated post haste! 
My heart goes out to the families of the fallen this past week...but lost in this carnage is another American who by virtue of nationality has also become a victim. Only time will tell. You can read the story here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44129489/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

More to follow...from the coast..and the jungle!

Brian 

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I Get Paid To Do....

“Human trafficking is a multi-faceted problem which requires collaboration between governments, civil society, and the private sector”  UN Spokesperson

Good News! My parent company, Life On Point Consultants, was just awarded a government contact today to help in the fight against human trafficking in Asia. I am especially excited about this because although the contract is only for two years it allows us to look at trafficking from the source; those who actually engage in the taking of women and children. After all the work in Burma that I have done coupled with the visuals of forced labor and it’s detrimental effects on families, I welcome the opportunity to try and change the outcome for so many women and children.
Background…and Food for Thought - Five hundred miles south, at Thailand's border with Cambodia, the IOM (International Organization for Migration) is endeavoring to send home a dozen Cambodian children trafficked into Bangkok. The children know each other well - they lived on the streets of Bangkok together, selling noodles, flowers and sweets for a local man's profit. All have made the journey at least twice before, having been resold to traffickers once they reached home. This time they will be taken into care. Acknowledging the difficulties of breaking the trafficking cycle, the IOM recently launched a campaign to address trafficking from a pre-emptive angle.
In Thailand there is an animated film called “Shattered Dream’” that tells the story of a young girl who leaves her village for the city, where her life becomes a nightmare when she is forced into prostitution. The film has been translated into several languages and is available in the US through several online vendors. Children trafficked to work in factories in Bangkok have already watched the film, and 90% said they would not have come to Bangkok had they been aware of the situation depicted in the video. But while measures to raise awareness have proved effective in the past, the incidence of trafficking itself has not diminished - its source has just shifted. Demand for cheap labor and prostitution remains, and if one potential source of recruits dries up, agents simply look elsewhere. It is estimated that 90% of trafficked sex workers in northern Thailand today are from Burma and that will not change until the situation in Burma improves.
Where does Life On Point Consultants come in?
800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders every year, generating billions of dollars for the human trafficking industry. One key element in stopping trafficking is by targeting it at the source and that is where I will be placing our efforts to ensure that children and women are not simply taken and sold because of their gender or their age. Holding war lords as well as local and tribal governments accountable is key to addressing this problem at the grass roots level and that is where we come in. I will be heading to Thailand shortly and then across the border – where I belong – fighting and making a difference with the Life On Point Team. More to follow on this exciting opportunity!

Brian

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The High Cost of Cheering for the Other Side

For those of you that have not followed news in Los Angeles recently, you may have missed a story that captured national attention albeit only for day. Police recently charged two men this past Friday in the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium, accusing them of a savage attack that included cutting the victim's tongue and disfiguring his face.
Cutting his tongue and disfiguring his face...The arrests came exactly two months after an emotional Police Chief Charlie Beck trumpeted the arrest of the initial suspect in the attack on Bryan Stow, a paramedic who suffered a brain injury and remains hospitalized in serious condition. There was one man, Giovanni Ramirez, who was dismissed as a suspect Friday and subsequently released from jail. "In policing, it's just as important to exonerate the innocent as it is to implicate the guilty," Beck said Friday. "I want to tell the world that Giovanni Ramirez is no longer a suspect in this case."
Prosecutors are charging Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marvin Norwood, 30, both of Rialto, with one count each of mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, and battery with serious bodily injury, all felonies. Both were being held on $500,000 bail after being arrested Thursday. The complaint alleged both men personally inflicted great bodily injury on Stow, "causing him to become comatose due to brain injury and to suffer paralysis." The mayhem count alleged that they "did cut and disable the tongue, and put out an eye and slit (Stow's) nose, ear and lip."
All in the family...Ms. Doreen Sanchez, believed to be the sister of Louie Sanchez, had been arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact then released. She was not charged. The LAPD has not released details on the evidence against the two men but said more details would be released Monday. The attack has captured national attention as the Los Angeles Police Department and the Dodgers sought to ease fears about violence at the storied stadium.
Stow, 42, is a resident of Santa Cruz and the father of two children, remains hospitalized in San Francisco. His family said in a blog post Friday that he appeared to mouth his last name and might have tried to give a thumbs-up. On Monday, he underwent emergency surgery for fluid buildup in his head. Doctors have kept him under heavy sedation since the attack to prevent seizures. Police released no details about the latest arrests in the case until the news conference. The delay came in sharp contrast to the fanfare surrounding the arrest of Ramirez on May 22. However, the investigation faltered after Ramirez provided almost a dozen statements from friends and family members saying he was nowhere near Dodger Stadium on the night of March 31. Ramirez also volunteered for and passed a polygraph test. No charges were filed against him in the beating, but he was returned to prison for a parole violation — having access to a firearm.
Despite several “low-level” run-ins with the law, neighbors described the accused men as friendly, baseball-loving fathers. A neighbor, Ms. Danielle Dickson said Louie Sanchez and his family are quiet, friendly people, with whom she had exchanged greetings but had little other contact. She often saw Sanchez playing catch on the family's lawn with a woman and boy whom she believed to be his wife and son. Sanchez also was charged Friday with two misdemeanor counts of battery stemming from a separate incident the same day as the beating.
Why Now...As many of you know I often officiate hockey at a variety of levels across the country. It is something I enjoy doing and take great pride in. Recent medical ailments have prevented me from doing much of it this last year but the sounds and sights while acting in this capacity still fill my mind...as do the negative ones. I have seen plenty of folks like Sanchez and Norwood in the stadiums and rinks I have worked. You too have seen them...they are usually the out of shape guy or gal yelling at his or her kid to do something that they as a parent (or when they were a child) could never do.
Trust me on this folks; what happened to Bryan Stow is a travesty and I hope Sanchez and Norwood get the electric chair for what they did to this guy...but I see this type of response weekly when I am working games. I am not saying that it gets to the level of what happened to Bryan Stow but if you want to see the decline of Western Civilization then please head down to your local hockey rink and watch the parents (not the players) in the stands, around the snack-bar and in the parking lot! It is no longer about kids being violent on the ice – officials have progressed enough to control that – it’s the vigilante soccer mom or disgruntled father who have all of a sudden turned “hockey commentator” that have raised the stakes in officiating a game. As officials we spend as much time watching the theatrics in the stands with irate and ignorant parents showing their true colors as we do conducting “game management” activities.   
If you have a moment I have included a few clips from “You Tube” that expand on what I am saying. In each you will see either children emulating parents or parents just “going off the deep end” for no reason other than being caught up in the “moment” and out of sheer ignorance. I can’t tell you the number of times I have walked through the crowd in the lobby after a tough game and looked at the parents – all of whom were acting like poorly behaved children calling for blood – and now all of them wanting to say something but not having the intestinal fortitude to do so.
You see, in the arena there is a level of protection afforded them by the “glass” which rises above the boards...but in the lobby the “invincibility quotient” goes away and they are left with the fact that they do not want to fight an official! Countless times this happens daily across the country and the parallels to what happened to Bryan Stow can be drawn accordingly.  These parents – afraid to act – are merely seconds away from losing it and committing acts just like Sanchez and Norwood. When my wife would come to the game invariably some "Ass Clown” – a term of endearment officials use for the obnoxious parents in the stands - will make themselves known to either myself or a member of the officials crew by questioning our abilities, ethnicity or overall presence on the ice...and in doing so automatically guarantees himself/herself a first class ticket out of the rink area!
 I will say this – I always make this a “special event” for the Ass Clown by stopping the game, sending players to their bench and then singling out the individual so that every person in the building knows who and why he or she will no longer be allowed to watch the game. Usually this calms everyone done and keeps the game in context...because that is what it is...A GAME!
Bryan Stow suffered what will be irreversible brain damage as well as now an inability to function as a productive member of society because he wore a uniform of the opposing team. I can only hope that Sanchez and Norwood pay a heavy price for their ignorance and depraved conduct because that is the only way people will get the message.
Hockey season is right around the corner...I can’t wait!  Enjoy the videos and if you recognize someone or yourself in these...take a deep breath...and realize what you are doing....and how stupid you look!       
Brian

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Communication

"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." -- Rollo May

Most of us are probably allured by the attractive notion that effortless relationships exist. Whether it is a happily-ever-after marriage or friendship which last forever, or parent/child bonds which supersede the need to understand each other, we'd all like to believe that our most intimate relationships are unconditional, and strong enough to withstand whatever may come. However, at some point in our lives most of us need to face the fact that relationships require effort to keep them strong and positive, and that even wonderful, strong relationships can be destroyed by neglect and stress. Nobody understands this more than I do. It's pretty easy to identify the most readily recognizable sources of stress in our lives--too many commitments, workplace hassles, financial strain, and society’s (and our own) oftentimes unrealistic expectations of who we "should" be and how much we "should" be able to accomplish. But not as many people realize that "communication stress" can be one of the biggest sources of stress in relationships. After all, we're all talking the same language, aren't we?
So What Am I Saying?
Whether you're looking to improve a love relationship, familial relationships, friendships, or employer/employee relationships, understanding your own personality type and the personality type of the other person involved in the relationship will bring a new dynamic to the situation, which will allow better understanding and communication. Although the different types of relationships have very different characteristics and specific needs, there are two basic areas which are critical in every relationship: Expectations and Communication!
Obviously I am focusing on communication!
What do we expect from ourselves and the other person involved in the relationship? How do we communicate these expectations, and our feelings and opinions to the person in the relationship? How does our personality type affect our expectations and methods of communication with my/your partner? These are all valuable and insightful questions that make the relationship…or in the opposite…break it! Believe me…I have learned this the hard way!
Personality Type
I am an INTJ – and by definition, INTJ’s believe in constant growth in relationships, and strive for independence for themselves and their partners. They are constantly embarking on "fix-up" projects to improve the overall quality of their lives and relationships. They take their commitments seriously, but are open to redefining their vows, if they see something which may prove to be an improvement over the existing understanding. INTJs are not likely to be "touchy-feely" and overly affirming with their mates or children, and may at times be somewhat insensitive to their emotional needs. However, INTJ’s are in general extremely capable and intelligent individuals who strive to always be their best, and be moving in a positive direction. Most INTJ’s, if they apply these basic goals to their personal relationships, they are likely to enjoy happy and healthy interaction with their families and friends.

Not so fast….
There are many other factors that influence a relationship and its long-term viability…especially if you are and INTJ. Those of us who are…are not naturally in tune with their own feelings, or with what other people are feeling… (“suck it up honey!”)  They also have a tendency to believe that they are always right. While their self-confidence and esteem is attractive, their lack of sensitivity to others can be a problem if it causes them to inadvertently hurt their partner's feelings. If this is a problem for an INTJ, they should remember to sometimes let their mate be the one who is right, and to try to be aware of the emotional effect that your words have upon them. In conflict situations, INTJ’s need to remember to be supportive to their mate's emotional needs, rather than treating the conflict as if it is an interesting idea to analyze.

Good communication is the hallmark of any solid relationship. In contrast, poor or ineffective communications are the cause of most relationship problems. Ideally we would communicate everything we are thinking and feeling to our partners so that they know what is worrying us and can share when we are feeling postive. There would be no secrets or no-go areas. Unfortunately we may choose to limit or stop our verbal communication and this has a disastrous effect on a relationship. Even when the words have stopped, non-verbal communication such as body language or mood is still present and this can carry negative messages.
If we or our partner have stopped communicating it shows that there is an issue so painful that we have subconsciously decided to reduce all verbal communication for fear that we might raise this difficult issue. Low levels of communication become a vicious circle because the silence creates fear and a sense of disconnection which in turn breeds more withdrawal…and mistrust.
In the absence of not knowing…..
We hear it all the time on chat shows, help shows, on the radio, and there are thousands of books on the subject - we need to communicate better, especially in our marriage. Just how do you get your point across more clearly though? Do you find yourself yelling or getting angry when your partner fails to "just know" what you need? (Typical of INTJ’s!) Or perhaps you clam up entirely? Contrary to what you may have thought, your partner isn't just magically going to be able to "figure out" what it is you want or need. The real secret to effective communication between any couple is that you will need to put some effort into this. I have always said…”I am not a mind reader!”
The relative success of every relationship you maintain in life is built and hinges on communication. It is the foundation and bedrock of your bond with other people…and as a result, you may assume that we/you are an expert in the field of good communication. Of course, such an assumption is false, and even absurd. Because, as we all know, the most common relationship predicament is communication. (I am repeating myself here!) We have difficulty with it and submit to almost unmanageable urges that compel us to act in a manner divergent from good relationship behavior. Men (I speak for the masses here!) are the main offenders in this epidemic. We have that massive male ego to contend with for one, and an almost primordial instinct to "win" at every endeavor we partake in.
When we unleash these typical male forces in the confines of our relationship, we blaze a trail of self-destruction. We start a pattern of dysfunction that breeds contempt, malice and the eventual downfall of the relationship. When all you have to do to prevent it is communicate with your woman, being a good partner looks to be a piece of cake, right…? As part of the species, I can tell you that most men drop the ball and fail to have a successful relationship with a woman because of a failure in good communication. Here is the kicker…men suck at communication…but so to do women! Our better halves may have an innate sense for conflict resolution but the bottom line is that we can all improve the way we communicate with each other.
My favorite…..non-verbal communication!
Nonverbal communication includes gestures, movements, facial expressions, and other physical forms of body language. Take note, however; it also includes tone of voice, sighs, screams, and vocal pitch and volume. Pay attention to all of these when you walk through the door and the first thing out of your mouth when she is looking at you is “What…what did I do?” In good and bad times, nonverbal communication will serve as an instant sign as to how she feels about you at that very moment, not to mention how she feels in general. No matter what words she chooses, her body language cannot mask her real emotions.

You Son of a B***; You’re an A**; I H*$te You…etc
You need to let her know that you understand even if she is yelling and obviously…quite upset! This is where men in general fall behind. We usually pick it up as queue to enter “into the fray” as well. Our competitive nature compels us to try to win every fight; to the point where we forget the one simple tenet about relationship conflict…there is no winner!

It's time to stop thinking of every fight as a chance to get the upper hand and use rhetoric until she admits you're right. It’s not the end goal that any of us should strive for...because if it is, your partner is going to resent you in the long run and recovery will be non-existent!

In the end let her know, no matter how bad, how intense and how passionate the fight, that you care. Amidst all the rage and even when tempers flare, take a deep breath and do something to let her know that when all is said and done, you love her.
In the End...
Why the rambling? Why these musings? It’s all about being with the one you care most about. Understanding who and what you are it’s just as important as understanding your partner and his or her needs.
Mistakes….you bet…made more than enough to fill volumes and sell some incredible books along the way but development, both personally as well as in a relationship, is an ongoing and iterative process. It’s not a crutch…we are all human and mistakes will happen…but communication bridges the gap between not knowing and knowing why…and that is the true meaning of understanding your partners needs, wants and desires.    

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From My Balcony

It’s an interesting day as much has changed over the past 24 hours…a year older and yet, maybe, only a bit wiser…surrounded by many..and still very much an island unto oneself.  
I am sitting here reading about what is going on in the world today; the National debt; the Tour De France; major drug bust in Mexico (really…Mexico…who would have thought?) and a host of other things that make us all wonder just what the hell is going on in the society we live in. I have never been an individual who was big into politics although I do follow national as well as international issues and consider myself well versed in each. One topic for debate that is going to grab the national spotlight is “gays in the military” and if you think that this is a minor issue then, seriously…you really are politically na├»ve.  
Yesterday, a San Francisco federal appeals court ordered the military to temporarily continue the controversial policy (known simply as don't ask, don't tell) against the wishes of the Obama administration. The order is the latest twist in the legal limbo gay service members have found themselves in as the policy is fought in the courts simultaneous to its slow dismantling by the federal government...which expects to do away with it by later this year. In its three-page ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling was based on new information provided by the federal government, including a declaration from Major General Steven A. Hummer, who is leading the effort to repeal the policy.The court of appeals had halted "don't ask, don't tell" July 6 but the Department of Justice filed an emergency motion Thursday saying ending the policy now would pre-empt the orderly process for rolling it back, per a law signed by President Barack Obama in December. The ruling was supported by Service-members United, an organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, but the group's executive director Alexander Nicholson voiced frustration over the slow process "that has become absolutely ridiculous," ... "It is simply not right to put the men and women of our armed forces through this circus any longer."
I have to say…he is right! 
Now I know some of the readership of this esteemed blog will undoubtedly ask “why are we discussing this?” and to be quite frank….because it’s important!  Not to mention my dinner counterparts several evenings ago broached the topic with me on how “un-progressive” the US appears to be in these matters!

Really…are you kidding me? Un-progressive...is that even a word??

For the record I support the repeal of DADT…I think a "progressive nation" such as ours has to adapt to the 21st century and all that it entails. Just like tactics, modern militaries adapt and evolve over time and with DADT there should be no exception.

Now please understand that I am not advocating having openly gay men (or women) parading around the barracks in drag and nor am I going to necessarily tolerate “couples” at the Army Ball or the Marine Corp gala in Washington DC … at least not yet…but as a former service member who has stood side by side with soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in some very caustic scenarios I can tell you that like skin color, sexual preference means NOTHING when you are dodging bullets or closing with and destroying the enemy.  You only care if that person is qualified and competent in the execution of their duties…PERIOD!
I find it egregious that many of the opponents of a full repeal of DADT have either never served or are too old to pick up a weapon and head down to the recruiters office!  Most are too old to fully understand the younger generations who serve today and are too limited in their strategic thought!

In the movie ‘A Few Good Men” Jack Nicholson ask Tom Cruise a series of questions while he is on the witness stand and it’s these questions that I think are highly relevant to this argument…”Have you ever served in a forward area?”…”Put your life in another man hands…and ask him to do the same?”  The discussion goes on and on but you get the point…orientation aside when you are serving in the Armed Forces it’s all about competencies and the manner in which you perform your duties. Taken in context the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is broad enough to handle a transition once the repeal of DADT takes place and will always ensure the maintenance of good order and discipline…and so we won’t have drag queens serving on the front lines…or in the rear for that matter (I know…no pun intended!)  
In the end (ok…enough) cooler heads will prevail and the current administration will have achieved a level of success both operationally (Osama, return from Iraq, etc) and organizationally with this repeal. It’s the right thing to do not only for the men and women that it will affect but also for good order and understanding. The military represents the best of what America has to offer and will make this transition with little or no additional fanfare once DADT is repealed. Suffice to say that some of the individuals who are currently serving on active duty, the National Guard or the Reserve Forces will still not “come out of the closet” based on personal issues or fear or other concerns…that is their call however I feel that with the caliber of junior leader quickly ascending the ranks don’t be surprised when you hear about a Distinguished Service Cross or Bronze Star recipient who has proven himself/herself in battle being “gay” – it is going to happen…and yet there will be one of these “politicians” wanting to diminish these acts of bravery based on sexual orientation…THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM IN OUR SOCIETY!

Oh well….back to the balcony to contemplate life. I wish I was in BFE! 

Brian

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Some Things Never Change

Hello and Good Morning!
It has been quite a long time since I have put pen to paper and tried to keep with blogging” as a day to day routine. So much is happening and still so much continues to happen around the globe that it is hard to keep track. I recently attended a discussion on Burma and ongoing activities in that region of the globe. Fascinating, captivating and yet, surreal as we climb through the 21st century and they enter into almost 60+ years of civil chaos. As many of you know I have travelled extensively throughout the region assisting where necessary in helping the Karen Freedom Fighters attain some level of proficiency in dealing with government crackdowns, corruption, rape and displacement of personnel. I will soon return to the region in this capacity for a protracted period of time.
I recently had to again answer the question of “why do you do it” to which I have never wavered in stating that quite simply…it’s the right thing to do! Based on news reports and intelligence coming out of the Burma I think the question that should have been asked is “why aren’t more people helping?”

Case in point…
Come to find out that the SPDC is now using political prisoners as objects on the battlefield to walk through minefields ahead of attacking forces. Now if you really want to see what this looks like go ahead and rent the last “Rambo” movie and prepare yourself. The movie opens with a scene from inside Burma of SPDC soldiers escorting political prisoners to a rice field and having them run across a mine laden area for sport. For those of you that have never seen or heard a land mine go off, this visual depiction is as close as you want to get to actually being there. Convict porters as they are now called are part of a broader problem of forced labor of political prisoners by the army in Burma, which the International Labor Organization has had some recent success in countering. Burma's military stands accused of deploying political prisoners as part of its long-standing “Four Cuts” strategy in restive ethnic minority regions, which tries to deny food, funds, intelligence and recruits to ethnic militias, but has resulted in hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority people fleeing their villages across the border to Thailand, or hiding out in the jungle. In 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which recently regained some access to prisons in Burma after a five-year denial by the Burmese authorities, accused the Burmese government of major and repeated violations of international humanitarian law, adding that every year thousands of detainees have been forced to support the armed forces by serving as porters in combat.
And if that were not enough…
The government of Burma still champions a campaign of using children as soldiers within the SPDC. Despite international criticism and the SPDC’s creation of the Committee for Prevention of Military Recruitment of Underage Children, international reports state that the Burmese Army has not only failed to stop the recruitment and detention of children, but has actually increased these activities. As of mid-2011, the leading generals have required a quota of over 7,000 new recruits each month in efforts to build up the military, now around 500,000. Low pay and brutal treatment has previously hampered recruitment, but since the Saffron Revolution in 2007 even fewer men will join the forces voluntarily. Without men to recruit, and under the threat of serious punishment for failing to meet quota, more and more military officials are turning to children to fulfill their requirement. It is estimated that one in five soldiers is a child in Burma!
Recruitment can entail any number of tactics. Sometimes children join under economic and social pressure and other times they are coerced into service. A tactic becoming much more prevalent is enlistment under threat of jail or torture. Escapees have cited how they were apprehended in public places under the auspices of not having proper identification or loitering and then offered the chance of military service in lieu of going to jail. When these recruits fail the medical exam for growth deficiencies (height, weight, genital development), their captors will bribe the examiners to pass them in order to fulfill their quotas. Human Rights Watch reports that at other times officials will sell their recruits to different battalions or centers for anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 kyat, a sum worth one and a half to three times or more the average monthly salary of an army private.
Once apprehended, child soldiers are detained until they can complete an 18-week basic military training program. These programs often involve strenuous physical labor, and recruits are beaten or otherwise severely punished for failing. After training, children are used for any number of jobs: cooks, porters, spies, etc, but most commonly in combat. Those who try to escape face the threat of death and those who do are generally caught shortly after and either imprisoned or re-enlisted. The Human Rights Education Institute of Burma reported that the extreme psychological abuse causes child soldiers to cry themselves to sleep in humiliation or attempt suicide either by themselves or by volunteering for the most dangerous of enlistments. Those who attempt to rationalize their war experiences distort their basic understandings of right and wrong. Children are normally only discharged in exchange for more recruits.
In the end there is much to do…and yet not enough people to do anything about it. Hopefully some of you will join me…in one capacity or another. Take a look at the link below and ask yourself…”do I really want to sit at home and do nothing?” – I am sure many of you will feel just as I have...that a small, dedicated element can in fact make a difference



See you down range! 


Brian