Friday, November 28, 2008

A Humbling Experience...

I went down to the beach today on my lunch break. I often enjoy taking in the view as a way to relieve the stress my job causes. As I chewed my cold Philly Cheesesteak and thought about how dirty my jeep was and how much my lower back was hurting, I saw a young man walk past my jeep and stop at the guard rail.

He was dressed in a fatigue cap, green Marine Corps T-shirt, fatigue pants, and combat boots. He stood at the rail for a moment, as if admiring the view, and nodded briefly. Then he turned around and walked back towards the parking lot.

Odd, I thought to myself, that he had only spent a moment enjoying the view. Why come down at all if you're only going to look for a few seconds?

My question was answered when this young Marine walked BACK past my jeep towards the beach again, this time carrying a large bundle and a helmet. He set the bundle down and unwrapped it, revealing a suit of combat armor. He dressed himself in this cumbersome armor, donned his helmet, and took a run down the beach, through the small stream that divided one half of the beach from the other, down a ways, and back again. When he got about 300 feet from the parking lot, he stopped, and did sit ups, crunches, bicycles, and push ups.

He then grabbed a log that was laying in the reeds, and dropped it in the sand. He walked another 50 feet closer, and placed a piece of driftwood in the sand. He did this again with a clump of seaweed 50 feet later, and another piece of wood 50 feet after that.

Then he went back 50 past the log and laid on his back. After a few seconds of laying there, this Marine sprung to his feet, sprinted to the log, and dove for cover. He took something out of his gear, slapped it, and placed it on the ground. Then he got up and sprinted to the driftwood, and repeated the maneuver. He then went to the seaweed, and the other piece of wood, each time taking an item from his gear and slapping it before dropping it into the sand.

After the last item was placed, he got up, brushed himself off, collected the items, and went back to the start. He did this about a dozen or so times, sometimes belly crawling from the log to the other locations, sometimes sprinting.

After this impressive display of endurance and stamina, he dropped to his knees in front of the log and pressed it into the air over his head several times. Then he hefted it back into the reeds, collected his gear, and began trekking back towards the parking lot.

I got out of my jeep. I felt compelled to say something to him.

"Excuse me," I said, stepping towards the guard rail.

"Yes sir?" he said, as if I wasn't the one who should be calling him sir.

"I hate to bother you," I said, "but my name is Kenn Beck."

"Mike Coble," he said, shaking my hand. His grip was strong and confident. (The spelling of his last name is conjecture on my part.)

"Mike, I just wanted to say 'Thank you.' "

I was trying to think of the best way to explain why I was thanking him when he simply said "You're welcome." You see, this guy knew exactly why I was thanking him.

"I saw you doing the drills, and I was impressed," I said.

"Yeah," Mike said, "It's tough, they just cleared me to do PT (physical training) so I wanted to get my butt back in gear."

"Oh?" I said.

"Yeah," he said, pointing down to his left leg. "I was in Iraq and my Humvee blew up. Busted up my leg pretty good."

"Wow," was all I could muster. "Are they sending you back?"

"Yes," he replied, "They're doing a redeployment to Iraq. Iraq was easy, we got lucky over there," he said. "They're redeploying us to get our gear. I don't know if I'm going back for that one, but they're pulling all our gear and troops over to Afghanistan. It's like the Wild West over there."

"What did you say your name was?" I asked him.

"Mike Coble," he replied.

I shook his hand. "Be safe, Mike, and thank you again."

He smiled and said "you're welcome" again.

I got back in my jeep. Suddenly, my job wasn't so stressful. Suddenly, my cold Philly Cheesesteak was a banquet compared to the rations this guy lives off of when in the field. My jeep was dirty; his ride BLEW UP BENEATH HIM. I don't like doing my physical therapy exercises because my back is sore; this kid is SPRINTING THE BEACH IN FULL COMBAT ARMOR TO REHAB HIS LEG WHICH WAS BUSTED UP IN AN EXPLOSION.

I started my jeep, full of a bizarre mix of shame and pride. I am shamed by the fact that I have never done as much for my country or fellow man in 34 years as Mike Coble has done, and if this guy is over 25, I'd be surprised. And I am proud that I had the chance to meet and thank a guy like Mike Coble, who stands up for his beliefs, and has the courage to fight for those who are unable, and in some cases, unwilling to fight for themselves.

Please keep Mike Coble in your thoughts, and hope he and his brave fellows make it back safely to the U.S.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Playlist for a Break-Up

Everything Changes - Staind
Who Wants To Live Forever - Queen
Goodbye - Hootie & The Blowfish
And So It Goes - Billy Joel
At This Moment - Billy Vera & The Beaters
Tonight I Wanna Cry - Keith Urban
Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
She's Out Of My Life - Michael Jackson
Cryin' - Joe Satriani
I'll Be Over You - Toto
You'll Think Of Me - Keith Urban
Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
Where'd You Go? - Mighty Mighty Bosstones
No Easy Way Out - Robert Tepper
Everybody's Fool - Evanescence
Should've Listened - Nickleback
End It On This - No Doubt
Party Like A Rockstar - JTX
Cold Shower Tuesdays - Bowling For Soup
I Miss You - Blink 182
Life After Lisa - Bowling For Soup
Don't Look Back In Anger - Oasis
Walk On - U2

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2nd Life Becomes Just As Sucky As Real Life; 3rd Life Launched

Apparently, even the worlds we create for ourselves are pathetic and filled with losers.

A UK couple is getting a divorce after a five year relationship because the husband, Dave Pollard, was caught cheating on his wife, Amy Taylor, in the virtual environment known as Second Life. It's true: check here if you don't believe me (though clicking the link only proves how untrusting you are, you faithless bastards).

Apparently, the 40 year old man was caught cyber-cuddling on a virtual couch with an American user he had known for a few weeks, and when he was confronted by his real wife, he told her he didn't love her any more and their marriage was over. Apparently Pollard, waste of both real and virtual flesh, had previously been caught eCopulating (or is it iCopulating? I can never keep those prefixes straight) with a virtual prostitute, and was already on thin ice with his wife. He plans on marrying his American Digital Sweetheart soon, both in game and in "rl."

My brother cracked a classic joke about the situation, saying "your character cheated on my character in World of Warcraft!" which was only made funnier by the fact that this woman then revealed that she had already found a new love on- you guessed it- WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

I would instruct these sad sack mother fuckers to get a life, except they already have TWO of them and they can't manage to not fuck either of them up. This Pollard guy already has a tough enough deck stacked against him being disabled. He finally finds someone who loves him, finds a woman willing to marry him TWICE (they married in 2nd Life before they actually tied the knot for real shortly afterwards) and he needs MORE? I hope he meets his new virtual fiancee and finds out his name is Chad, a 36 year old software designer from Paramus, NJ.

Other incidents of the virtual world having a profound effect on the analog world include a British truck driver killing his ex-wife over her Facebook status, a Delaware woman plotting to kidnap her Second Life boyfriend in real life, a Japanese woman virtually assassinating her ex-cyber-husband's character, and a 21 year old man on methamphetamines being stabbed to death by a Hell's Angel at an X-BOX 360 Rock Band party during a performance of the Rolling Stone's "Gimme Shelter." (O.K., so maybe I made one of those up. Would have been funnier if it was "Under My Thumb," but that ain't quite RB material, now is it?)

Jeezus H. Christmas, people, is this what we're destined for? This creaky old great grand daddy of the Matrix, in which people can float around and interact with people across the world, so full of hope and promise... and we can't even get along in there.

We need Virtual Counseling. I wonder what the doctor from Brain Age 2 is doing right now?