Facebook Humor Worth Repeating

Mike Downs at the Saudi version of the Grand Canyon an hour and change outside Riyadh.

Mike Downs at the Saudi version of the Grand Canyon an hour and change outside Riyadh.

Posted on Facebook by my friend, Mike Downs, with whom I served in Saudi Arabia in 2001-2001:

One morning, a grandmother was surprised to find that her 7-year-old grandson had made her coffee! Smiling, she choked down the worst cup of her life. When she finished, she found three little green Army men at the bottom. Puzzled, she asked, “Honey, what are these Army men doing in my coffee?” Her grandson answered, “Like it says on TV, Grandma…The best part of waking up is soldiers in you’re cup! Re-Post if you smiled….You know you did.

Commander Robert P. Moran, December 23, 1939 – September 6, 2011

BobMoranCommander Bob Moran passed away earlier this week. While I didn’t spend a great deal of time with Bob over the years, my interactions with him always seemed to indicate that if circumstances were different, we would have been fast friends. He was an outstanding officer and a terrific person as well. He will be missed by those of us who were privileged to know him, even casually.

Here’s his obit republished from the Ventura County Star:

Robert “Bob” Paul Moran peacefully passed away on Sept. 6, 2011, in his Moorpark home of 31 years, with his loving family at his bedside. He was 71 years old. Bob was born in Somerville, Mass., the son of Phyllis V. Moran and Robert A. Moran. He was preceded by his parents and only brother, Philip A. Moran.

He is survived by his longtime spouse and best friend, Antonia “Toni” for over 36 years. He has five daughters, Phyllis Alexius (husband Eric), Julie Moran (partner Sherri Johnson), Tammy Moran (partner Raul Polit), Kerri Moran (fiancee Tyler Murphy) and Nicole Moran (partner Andy Keller). He is also survived by five grandchildren: John Piccoli, Christine Piccoli, Danielle DeVold, Raphye Alexius, Taylor Martinez, and one great-grandchild, Kayla Piccoli.

Bob graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Cambridge, Mass., on May 25, 1958. On completion of high school, he enlisted in the US Navy and served on active duty for more than seven years. He qualified as a submariner and served on numerous nuclear submarines as an electrician’s mate. His duties included Nuclear and Plant Operator, Maneuvering Area Watch, and Qualification Petty Officer. He left active serve as Lead Petty Officer in 1968 as EM1SS. His enlisted rate was E1 through E6. He applied for affiliation with the Naval Reserve Service and was commissioned Lt Jg USNR in 1973 after completing Officer Candidate School. He continued his Naval Reserve career for another 26 plus years. He left the Naval Reserve as a Commander in 2005.

Bob was Commanding Officer of two reserve units and Executive Officer of several more. His active duty assignments included naval shipyards where he was involved in surface ship combat testing and INSERV teams. He served on various assignments at NAVSEA headquarters in Washington, D.C., including the reactivation of the battleships. He was invited to join his grandson, John, who also followed in his footsteps in the Navy on two Tiger cruises on the USS Enterprise CVN65.
Bob’s other career also included employment with Raytheon, ITT Gilfillen, Teledyne, Litton and Northup Grumman. Bob earned his B.S. Degree in Engineering from Lowell Technological Institute while working at Raytheon Company in Lowell, Mass. He advanced in various management positions at Raytheon while furthering his education by earning his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) at New Hampshire College.

In 1980, he relocated to Southern California again rising to numerous management positions at ITT Gilfillan and Teledyne Systems Company. Teledyne Co. was acquired by Litton which was later acquired by Northrop Grumman. Bob’s reputation for outstanding engineering and management leadership skills always made him part of the executive team that moved between the new companies. He was very well-respected for his ability to quickly grasp a difficult situation, take charge and resolve the problem. His work ethic and tenacity served him well during his civilian career while simultaneously serving as a senior officer in a U.S. Navy.

He officially retired May 1, 2011, from Northrup Grumman in Woodland Hills, Calif. On a personal note, Bob learned early in life that he had a gift for tinkering with cars. He never thought twice about befriending a stranger on the side of the road, because he knew he could help. He loved spending time with his wife and children making time for special family trips, always making sure to video tape every moment. He was a loving and caring person with a great sense of humor and was loved by all who knew him. He had a flamboyant way of telling a story or sharing a joke. He was a fearless expressive individual who was a great encourager and motivator with an endless supply of wisdom. Bob was especially proud of his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments in their lives. His love and memories will be forever in our hearts and he will be deeply missed.

The family extends a special thank you to: George and Raphael from Lincare for all your care and support; Cathy Hines from Los Robles Physical Therapy for pushing Bob to exercise; Dr. Starr and staff, Rick Leon for your comfort; Jim and staff at Costco Simi Valley pharmacy; UCLA, Dr Saggar, Eileen and Paul for always giving us hope; Dr. Ghelani for your kindness and patience;and Finally, Buena Vista Hospice Nurses and Staff- Our family cannot thank them enough for their kindness, generosity and comfort given to Bob and our family during this difficult time.

A Visitation will take place at the Griffin Family Funeral Home, 101 East Wilbur Rd., Thousand Okas, CA 91360, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. Additional services will take place at the M.R. Laurin & Son Funeral Home, Lowell, Mass., with final interment at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park in Peabody, Mass. Please visit www.LaurinFuneralHome.com for Guestbook.

In lieu of flowers, please send your donations to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 811 West Evergreen Avenue Suite 204, Chicago, IL 60642, www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org, or National Military Family Association, 2500 North Van Dorn St. Suite 102, Alexandria, VA 22302-1601, www.militaryfamily.org.

Random Thoughts

1. I want a new phone, but I don’t need one.

2. Spell check saves my ass all the damn time.

3. Cellular networks are great when they work. They just don’t very often.

4. Whimsy is a good thing.

5. Why would anyone describe himself or herself as having “dirty blonde” hair? I mean I get it, but yikes, seems as though dirty blonde hair needs a shampooing. At least that’s what it brings to my alleged mind.

6. My dog is TOO charming. He cannot be resisted. He’s like a dolphin — no matter how lousy he feels, he still has that damned built-in smile.

7. Bill Gates is truly evil. But only because I didn’t think of Microsoft first.

8. Relationships are like long distance telephone calls. Sometimes the connection is clear. Other times, it’s noting but static. (I wrote this back in the days before digital transmission, so without the technological context, it’s getting to be a senseless observation.)

9. DailyPuppy.com.

10. I don’t feel empathy for the people who refuse to put their social security number on stuff. Shoot, the government has my DNA on file. Talk about the ultimate invasion of privacy. Hey, maybe they’ll clone me! You’re never alone with a clone.

11. I’m an ENFP.

12. I like Star Trek way too much.

13. Most useless piece of advice I ever got from my Dad when I got married the first time: “Make sure to dry under your wedding ring when you get out of the shower or it’ll get nasty.”

14. Cheddar cheese pretzel pieces and Diet Pepsi do not constitute lunch.

15. Except for today.

16. Staple removers look like X-wing fighters from Star Wars when you squeeze them together.

17. I am only a passing Star Wars fan.

18. The Associated Press Style Guide is my friend.

19. Diet Pepsi and cheddar cheese pretzel pieces make a lousy lunch.

20. Cheddar cheese pretzel pieces and Diet Pepsi do not taste better coming up than going down. (Just kidding about that one. Just thought it would be fun to keep the running gag going.)

21. At what point does persistence cross the line into futility?

22. My dog can catch a Frisbee out of the air. He also smells his own butt, so he can’t be all that clever. But he is, for a dog.

23. Rubber cement is not intended for cementing rubbers.

24. I have subscribed to Scientific American since college.

25. Music was my first means of performance and it still stands as the most satisfying intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Acting is a close second, but there’s more ego feeding involved than genuine satisfaction.

26. Etiquette: Does one take out one’s hearing aids before having sex? Or after?

27. I cross my little toes when I am lying down with no shoes or socks on.

28. What is the attraction with long walks on the beach? Didn’t anyone ever pour sand out of their shoes? And what if you want to get physical on the beach? Sheesh… Sand is the ultimate anti-aphrodisiac. You want an aphrodisiac? Try two nights at the Ritz-Carlton with room service. Or first-class tickets to Paris. I’d wiggle right out of my panties for an offer like that.

29. You know what might be really hilarious? Put porn on the TV, turn down the sound, and put play-by-play sports on for the audio track.

30. Shouldn’t Santa bring you better presents if you’ve been naughty?

31. The object above the ceiling fan that protects the ceiling is called a medallion.

32. The recurring dream I experience most often occurs usually every few months. It is usually different, but nearly always involves my return to Valley Forge Military Academy as an adult student.

33. The second most recurring theme in my dreams is that I am a witness to an air disaster of some sort.

34. I used to practice lucid dreaming. It was one of the more exciting experiences of my life.

35. It’s raining in Virginia.

36. I wish I were there to experience the rain.  I rather enjoy bad weather.  It’s more interesting.

37. Peanut Buster Parfaits are the only really good reason to go to Dairy Queen. Except in Fostoria, Ohio.

38. The Dairy Queen in Fostoria, Ohio has looked the same for at least 45 years.

39. I like even numbers.

40. More than odd.

41. Forty-one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. (Apologies to Three Dog Night.)

42. I used to be a HUGE General Hospital fan.

43. A writer once named his cat Typo. What a great name for a cat!

44. Pencils are much more practical than pens, but it’s harder to clean your ears with a pencil.

45. Bureaucracies exist solely for the sustainment of the bureaucracy.

46. Whoever said, ” is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” never had sex while clothed.

47. I ate lunch in the same room as Supreme Court Justice David Souter once.

48. I was up on the Hill once with my boss and sat in the same room with Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and a bunch of other big wheels. Pretty cool.

49. Military time, as in the 24-hour clock instead of the AM/PM thing, makes more sense.

50. Lava lamps are cool.

51. Lava is not.

52. I don’t remember if I used to number these or not.

53. Quantification of work produced is only one measure of success.

54. Sometimes I just make shit up. But not in random thoughts.

55. I have memorized pi to 16 decimal places. Without Googling it, it is 3.1415926535897932. Look it up and tell me if I remember this factoid correctly.

56. Is “factoid” really a word?

57. I could never even manage a bad Casey Kasem impression.

58. Is it rude to write email while sitting on the toilet?

59. This is not Twenty Questions.

60. Is this sentence a question.

From September 11, 2009

I wrote and posted this two years ago, but with all the “where I was when 9/11 happened” recollections, I thought I’d repost this. 

“So, do you think the Army’s going to call you up because of this?”

“I sure as hell hope so.”

That was the big question my supervisor at the E! Channel asked me on 9/11. While I did eventually get called up, I’d gladly give up all the financial and professional gains which resulted if it had never happened. But that’s not what these words are going to be about.

I was awakened that morning by a phone call from my mother-in-law who told us in frantic, disjointed words that something bad was happening. As a native New Yorker, she was understandably shaken at learning that Manhattan was under attack. The message was related to me by my spouse at the time who slammed into the bedroom and shook me awake and said “Wake up! The Pentagon’s under attack!”

I got up, rushed to the TV in a groggy stupor and saw the story as it was still in chaos. Information was rolling into news agencies willy-nilly and much of what was heard and reported was unconfirmed. I dressed and hurried to work in the Wilshire District in LA, near the La Brea Tar Pits. The streets of Los Angeles were relatively deserted – not empty as they were during the LA riots in 1992. But it was clear that people were staying home. Businesses closed for the day and many more operated on essential staff only. Which is why I was going to work.

When I arrived at E!, I could see that many of the national cable networks which shared our satellite space had either gone dark or were carrying coverage from one of the big three networks. It was at that moment that the enormity and the immediate practical impact of this event on this Nation became apparent. Even commerce stopped for a time – shopping networks were carrying round the clock news coverage. Sports channels and others had full-screen graphics up telling people to tune to a network broadcast and follow the news.

One of the positive things about working at a TV network with all measure of high-tech TV equipment is that we could monitor as many TV stations as we had monitors. And we had plenty. CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC all raced to get pictures and firsthand accounts of the unfolding tragedy on the air. I flipped back and forth from moment to moment and channel to channel trying to find the best pictures. No one had a lock on the best, so it was back and forth from channel to channel.

As for what I was doing in between times, E! was trying to decide whether to take coverage from a major news network or stay with the on-air schedule without regard to the situation. My job was to design on-screen graphics in support of either option. Ultimately, E! chose to stay with their own programming rather than switch to one of the majors. I will not debate that decision, but I will observe on my own behalf that I had no interest in entertainment fluff at that point, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else feeling differently.

From the moment it sank in just what was going on, my heart was heavy, but my fists clenched in preparation. When my terrific boss, Ken Mason, asked me if I was going to get called up, not only did I hope so, but I was hoping it would be within the hour. For the rest of the day, most of us sat in network control going about our business with about as much feeling as the machines supporting us. It was quiet and the sounds of our air signal were mixed with the sounds of the coverage coming from ancillary equipment racks where the carnage of the day was being replayed over and over.

I would be many months before I actually got called up and reported here to Washington, D.C. in January, 2002. I spent the next 71 months assigned to the Pentagon in various assignments, some 9/11 related and others not.

A year after the attacks, our office moved into the rebuilt section of the Pentagon and shortly thereafter, the small indoor memorial and chapel was opened. Whenever I thought I was being unfairly put upon, I’d stroll the 30 seconds down the E-ring to the 9/11 memorial and stand for a minute or two.

It gave me perspective in two profound ways. It made me recognize that getting picked on that day wasn’t really so bad, and that any one of these people whose biography and photo were in one of two books would give anything to be in my predicament. Alive. Within reach of those about whom they cared. And it humbled me. Standing there for only a moment made me remember why I was there and that I had better do the best job I could.

Eight years have passed since the attack on our Nation. Today, while driving into my civilian job, I listened to replays of the coverage from that day and remember what it felt like that day. How shocked and horrified. How angry. How resolute. I suspect that will never change. I suspect that I’ll always feel the intense mix of emotions on this day. And I’ll fight back the tears on this day just as I did on this day eight years ago.

For many, the feelings we experienced that day have already escaped us, relegating the horror of the day to a collection of historical facts, figures and stately memorials to those who perished. It is right that we recall the facts and honor those who were murdered that day. However, it is my wish that somehow the shock, horror, anger and resolution I felt – that most everyone felt that morning – stay with us and unite us as it did on 9/11 and in the shadows of that day.

Eight years hence, we find ourselves a divided Nation when in truth, there’s so very much more about us that is alike than those things which divide us.

I wish we weren’t so divided and I have no solution as to how to unite us. I just know that we have it in us. The days following September 11, 2001 were some of America’s finest.

Remember what that was like. Not just today on this horrific anniversary. But every day.

It would serve us all well.

Control Your Freakin’ Kids!!!

I’m at McDonalds the other night. It’s like 9pm or thereabouts.  I’m tired and hungry and grumpy and all the other dwarves.  Two kids come in with “adult supervision.”  Minus the “supervision.”

I’m sure they’re perfectly nice kids when heavily sedated.  These two little shits came over to the corner where I was quietly sitting and munching away on a Big Mac and fries.  They decided it was appropriate to play on the table and chairs next to mine laughing loudly and chasing each other about like ferrets.  When I made disapproving eye contact, they looked at me as if to taunt me to do something about them.

Hey mister!  Yeah, you over at the freakin’ counter waiting for your freakin’ order like a freakin’ statue.  Yeah you, ya’ jerk!  Come collect your freakin’ kids and keep them under some kind of freakin’ control will ya?


Oh, and minutes later?  You might want to hold their hand so they don’t dash out behind my car when it’s backing up….





What the hell is the MATTER with people anyway?

Have We Forgotten?


So much has happened to me personally and professionally since that day and the day in September 2001 that ultimately set up this strong memory.  I find myself on a most unexpected but not unwelcome path altered by the events of 9/11.

Much of those early months in The Pentagon were focused on the aftermath of the attacks and supporting the operations in Afghanistan.  Lessons on Army staff procedures, Congressional affairs and foreign policy were learned hourly.  Working on the Army’s crisis action team as the public affairs representative required immediate fluency in all these things and I had none of them.  Fortunately, as did the rest of the Nation, the crisis action team pulled together coaching one another, making things happen sometimes by a relentless force of will.  We took care of each other.  After all, we were all in the same boat.

Now a decade later, the National Geographic Channel is running various documentaries about the events of 9/11 and the days and weeks following.  On one documentary in particular, I saw images of three people I knew and worked with, fellow members of the Army Public Affairs team who were outside The Pentagon that day helping rescue the injured and trying to bring at least a little bit of order to the chaos of the day.   I’ll bet you they’ll never forget that day.  I’ll even go so far as to bet you that the memories of the carnage of that day are with them every day.

Is it with the rest of us?

Do we remember how we felt that day?  Are the events of 9/11 fading from our memory like old wallpaper in an abandoned structure?  Does 9/11 only live in the minds of my colleagues and those like them, but not in the rest of us?  Have the Katrinas and the debt ceiling and the tsunamis and the earthquakes and the divisiveness all overtaken our memories?

Yeah.  Pretty much, I think.

In watching the documentaries, it brings up my feelings of that day, even though I was in my home in Los Angeles and nowhere near The Pentagon.  I find myself wondering if anyone else is moved to tears again as I was watching and reliving the events of that day.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but it still makes me chuckle to think that the two children with whom I live weren’t yet born when this happened.  To them, 9/11 WILL be just a documentary, a collection of facts to be learned just long enough to pass the test.

When they’re old enough and if I’m not around, I hope someone takes the time to show them not just the collection of facts, but also the collection of faces — the faces of the innocent people who were murdered on American soil.  And the faces of evil that perpetrated the atrocities of that day.

Even with that knowledge, it’ll never be as real to those two boys as it was to we who were glued to our TV’s that day watching the horrors unfold from afar.   And for certain, it will never be as real to those two boys as it was to my Army colleagues and the hundreds of others like them who experienced it first hand on the Pentagon grounds that day.

Darryl Worley, a talented country music artist who I had the great pleasure to meet and brief, asked the real question back in 2003:  Have you Forgotten?

It frightens me to believe that for most of our Nation, the answer is “yes.”

“Complacency” ought to be a four-letter word