Saturday, September 22, 2007

So you think you can dance

The pressures of operating in a deployed status are unfathomable to the citizen who has never served. The stressors lead to lifelong friendships and fellowship. Today over a lunch of leftover homemade spaghetti and meatballs the discussion turned to the greatest dancers ever. If you are as stiff as Britney at the video awards, watch this and start stretching.

So you think you can dance? Be prepared to be amazed. This is better each time I see it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Celebrate Ramadan with style

One month only. Lunar month that is. Order here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th, 2007

I have the good fortune to lead over 15,000 active duty Sailors and Marines who serve their Navy, Marine Corps and their Nation with honor. They do this voluntarily and a majority have taken their oath following September 11th 2001.

"I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith allegiance to the same. I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and all officers appointed over me in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I take this obligation freely and without mental reservation or purpose of evasion and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God."

I thank each of you for taking the oath. I thank our families and friends for without your support we could not do this mission.

God bless America. We will never forget.

For another thought on 9/11 please read the comment to this earlier blog entry.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I like this photo

I like this shot so much I decided to "blog" it. To me it represents the success of Courtney by graduating from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. The success of my family, which is 30 days away from reaching 30 years of being The Hall's. Finally I just like how cute my daughter and wife are.

I'm a lucky guy period dot

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Moose walks into a bar.......

The bartenders says, "Hey Bullwinkle, why the long face?" (laughter)

It's an oldie but a goody. I shared it with Tommy Franks and he used it often with embellishment, and as a four star general - it always got laughs.

Here the Moose has told the joke to Courtney bringing forth her laughter. The location is the famous restaurant, bar and brew house in Pensacola, McGuire's Irish Pub. McGuire's was originally established in a strip mall in 1977 when Darlene and I were first married and I was going through flight school. My classmate and friend Emory Chenoweth supplied the owners with Irish music and today 30 years later a drink remains named after Emery. Court wanted to visit this landmark on our drive to Virginia. Wish granted and we enjoyed a filling lunch before we hit the road.

In the Notre Dame room Court laughs at the Moose's jokes and the young waiter singing "kiss the mouse, kiss the mouse."

In the main bar with the Main Moose and dollar bills everywhere stapled to the overhead.

Back on the road, Courtney displays her road warrior skills learned as a Navy kid traveling cross country to Texas with her Mom. (I looked up "cute" in the dictionary and this picture was there)

Good thing the Garmin never sleeps. "Wake me if you have any questions."

One of the many state signs we met welcoming us to their highways.

A midnight American Heart Association breakfast at the Waffle House. After a meal and a pow wow Courtney said let's press on. We hit Norfolk by 0700 and only Roxy was awake to greet us.

A super trip with my new college graduate. She is a true road warrior and terrific driver like Mom. I'll go anywhere with her, a GPS and a loaded iPod. Drive on Courtney!

NOTE: I apologize for the gratuitous dropping of Tommy Franks name in an entry about my family. I was told I would never make it in the Navy by being a name dropper. Henry Kissinger told me that in 1988 when we were meeting with Colin Powell and Condoliza Rice on the Soviet's Mini Mobile Missiles.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Boss speaks out - good regional insight

Cool It Call Over 'Sabre-Rattling'
(GULF DAILY NEWS 07 SEP 07) Mark Summers

IRAN must stop its "disruptive" rhetoric and behaviour to cool tensions
in the region, a top US military official warned in Bahrain yesterday.

The US takes Iranian threats seriously and is ready to deal with them,
said US Navy Fifth Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff.

The Iranian regime is bringing pressure upon itself with its own
actions, he said, after addressing a meeting of the American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) Bahrain, at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence
and Spa.

"Is Iran a threat? I think what concerns me with Iran is their rhetoric
and the fact that they say things that I don't think need saying," said
Vice-Adm Cosgriff.

"If you recall, not too many weeks ago they made a comment about Bahrain
- essentially that this was a province of Iran."

"First of all it's not true. It was intended to intimidate and coerce
and that is disruptive. What we believe in is security and stability and
disruptive behaviour is always a concern."

"I would hope that the government of Iran would stop that sort of
language because it is intended to incite, to coerce and to intimidate
and I don't think that has a useful role in the region."

He was referring to a widely-reported editorial written by Hossein
Sharjatmadari, editor of a hard-line Iranian newspaper and close aide to
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which claimed Bahrain as
Iranian territory.

The Iranian government immediately distanced itself from the remarks,
saying they did not represent the government view.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff urged Iran to moderate its actions, to avoid the risk
of military conflict.

"Hopefully there will be no reason for the international community to
confront Iran," he said.

"You would hope that they would listen to the international community
and the various mechanisms that have been put in place to try to resolve
the issue that Iran brought on itself."

"The issue is peace versus military application of nuclear power and
Iran following the rules that they have agreed to, that they are now
apparently not doing.

"So we would encourage them to work with the UN, work with the Group of
Six, or with other people who are trying to mediate and solve it

In June, Iranian parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel warned that
Iran would strike US military bases in neighbouring Gulf states if they
were used as staging posts to attack the Islamic republic over its
nuclear programme.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff said he did not take such words lightly.

"I do take it seriously, I get paid to take things like that at face
value," he said. "It's like you are walking down the street of a big
city in someplace and somebody jumps out and says I am going to take
your wallet."

"We want to project the fact that we are a ready navy force and that we
posture ourselves in a way that would make sure that if somebody started
something, then we are going to be able to manage ourselves

"We are here for what I have said. We are here for - which is regional
security, regional stability - we believe that contributes to the
prosperity of Bahrain and other countries and it is important to global
economic stability because of the statistics of oil and gas exploration
upon which regional prosperity is based.

On piracy in the Gulf, Vice-Adm Cosgriff slammed the "thuggery" of those
who steal the possessions of others at sea.

"The common language of the pirates to date has been Farsi," he said,

In his speech to the AmCham gathering, Vice-Adm Cosgriff outlined the
nature of the responsibilities he faced as Fifth fleet commander.

"I am in charge of all 25,000 sailors afloat and ashore across this
region - and the region goes from Egypt to Pakistan and from Kazakhstan
to Kenya," he said.

"On the coalition side, the principle focus is maritime security. This
is where we want to build partnerships with the navies and the
coastguards in the region to help them with their capacity building, but
also more importantly the protection of their infrastructure."

"All of these forces out here, it is important to keep in mind, are
doing what they do against the backdrop of the ongoing struggle of
violent extremism."

He stressed that he has responsibility for a peaceful and orderly
maritime environment, given that 40 per cent of the world's oil passes
through the Strait of Hormuz.

Vice-Adm Cosgtriff praised Bahrain for its co-operation with the Fifth

"We are fortunate to have in Bahrain, such a strong partner - obviously
housing the headquarters was no small contribution, also they were the
first Gulf country to actually join the maritime coalition and send
ships to sea," he said.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff cited respect, commitment, persistence and strength as
the beliefs of his fleet.

"We believe in certain things. First and foremost we believe in the idea
of respect, based on the rule of law and international norms, but it is
also based on a respect for the religious and cultural heritage of this

"We believe in commitment. Maritime security is based on the belief that
the region and its people obviously are important in their own right,
but also mindful of the region's role in the larger global economy and

"We believe in persistence, the US Navy has been present in the region
for more than 60 years and we have every expectation to be here for
decades to come."

"The coalition that we established seven years ago is getting stronger
and we are going to keep making it better and better."

"Lastly, we believe in strength, certainly we want to remain ready
across the full range of our military capabilities. We also remain ready
because of that capability and can respond across a range of more
peaceful and contributory missions, such as disaster relief."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff also revealed US authorities were studying the
idea of permitting sailors' families to again reside in Bahrain for the
first time since the US ordered them to leave the kingdom, in 2004.

"First and foremost, it is important for the sailors. Second, it is
important for my headquarters - with the continuity you get from longer
tours of duty and third, it is important for our long-term relationship
with Bahrain."

"I am optimistic that while I am in command, we will begin to see change
in the policy."

"I am quite optimistic that we will continue to build on the visits and
eventually get approval to start bringing families back - they are not
going to show up over night, but that's okay. Once we get the
green-light, we will start bringing them here."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff said he was "optimistic" about allied operations
in Iraq.

"My hope is that some of the trends we are seeing will continue in terms
of the overall level of violence," he said.

The city of Baghdad still has areas that are troublesome, but by and
large the trends are going in the right direction."

"I think we are going to have a lot of news here in the next couple of
weeks with the General Petraeus report and how that is greeted in the
US. I think there is reason to be optimistic."

Newly-appointed US Ambassador to Bahrain Joseph Ereli was amongst those
attending the gathering.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Does Bourbon Street ever close?

The answer is a definite NO. At least not before one runs out of "gas."

Following Courtney's graduation, she and I had a little road trip to Norfolk Virginia. First stop on our trip was New Orleans. It is two years this week since Katrina hit. While we saw much of the damage, the heartbeat of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is rocking. We stayed at a neat boutique hotel that was just a hop, skip and a jump to Bourbon Street. So after a late night check in at our hotel, we hopped over the homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk, skipped around some strange looking characters and jumped to the beat of Bourbon Street. Three and a half hours later we hit the hay with a small buzz and a smile from all the music and dancing. New Orleans will come back because her heart is beating strong.

Old time jazz men playing their hearts out to a hopping and appreciative house crowd.

Court with the band leader after buying his CD. These guys are great.

When in Rome drink what the Romans drink - in New Orleans it's the most powerful drink known to man - the trademarked Hand grenade. Two please.

Court armed to the teeth with huricanes and hand grenades.

Mmmmm, slurp - a little fruity - but not as powerful as Mojo - but I do feel like dancing!

A little history lesson as we head back to the hotel.

You never who you'll run into when your traveling with the globe trotting Courtney. Famous jazz men and rock singers. Tonight we ran into a buddy of Court's from Texas. Small world.

Let's sleep in and then it's off to kiss the moose in Pensacola Florida.

PS One Hand Grenade is enough to lube the old joints and get an old man moving to the beat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Testing the new Google Maps

Google maps now lets you embed maps into your web blogs etc. Here's a test showing our house on Navy Norfolk.
View Larger Map

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Our Graduate!!

She did it! Courtney is the proud graduate of Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi Texas. Earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology with a Minor in Business, Courtney is ready to take on the world. Smiles all around from proud family and friends, we cheered ourselves hoarse as she crossed the stage and accepted her sheepskin. Look out world here she comes.

The Graduate Courtney with her proud brothers

Hands down the most beautiful Graduate this summer at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Proud Grandparents

The proudest of all - Mom and Dad!

The Game for Life

There is perhaps no greater pleasure than spending five hours on the links. But of course it doesn't get any better than spending that time with three generations from the same family. Playing with your sons who are now men is indescribable. With a Garry and Sam in one cart and Garry and Sam in another the outcome was predetermined. Garry and Sam walked away the winners.

If I could only wrap up like Sam!

Sam, Sam (Popo) and Garry

The Hall boys, Sam, Garry and Garry.

Brothers take aim at the Dads

Driving the course and dodging Texas mosquitoes.

The smiles tell all.

Never pass up the opportunity to play the game with the most important people in your life.

American Idol update

My American Idol had his shot at the show in San Diego California. An early start and long lines were rewarded by a chance to perform before the producers of the hit show. Showing talent and a unique singing quality he was given the chance to perform twice. Singing rock classics he showcased his rock talent. Alas, after deliberations it was determined, while a talented singer, "you are not what we are looking for." Not goofy enough for the outtakes and well "not what they were looking for."

It is better to live of life of daring and fail trying than to live one of quiet desperation. Great job G. I'm proud of you! Rock on.

Now move that ball and chain!

Elvis is alive

Thirty years ago the King passed. Or so we thought. Found alive and well in a boutique restaurant and art gallery in Corpus Christi Texas. Apparently what he's retained in good looks he's lost in singing ability - thus his appearance in South Texas vice Vegas.

Elvis shaking hands with brother-in-law, Harley rider, Texas guitarist, and popular area DJ and host, Sam.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

American Idol

The entire Hall family is desending on Corpus Christi for Courtney's graduation. But first, number one son, Garry, auditions for American Idol in San Diego California. Read about it here.

Land of the Free

I've arrived in Corpus Chrsti Texas for Courtney's college graduation. 30+ hours of travels, 3 pat downs and five bag searches later I'm in the home of the Whataburger. Grill the onions and the buns please.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

One of my Favorites

Still as funny today as it was decades ago. The king of the double entendre.

Warlord Logo

Seventeen years ago I became the first commanding officer of HSL-51 in Atsugi Japan. I asked my brother, a professional designer and advertiser to design a logo for the squadron. Howie captured the spirit of the squadron and met my request for it to be impressive, unique and visible from a distance when worn on your flight suit. In those 17 years the squadron has won numerous awards for warfighting and public service. The commanders of the squadron have gone on to command numerous capital ships and stations in the Navy.

I have traveled the world and I am always surprised at the various places I've discovered our patch - zapped in some far flung location. This one was found zapped to a tool box on the HMAS Anzac, an Australian frigate serving in the extreme Northern Arabian Gulf. I spied it as I was transiting her hangar to hop on my Desert Hawk to fly into Bahrain. To se more on that trip click here.

Thanks Howie, your logo will continue to inspired LAMPS pilots and crews for years to come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Royal Navy Hands Over Combined Task Force 158 to U.S. Forces

OCEAN 6, At Sea (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Garry E. Hall relieved Royal Navy
Commodore Nick Lambert as commander of Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 and Capt. Paul Severs relieved Royal Navy Capt. Bob Sanguinetti as commander of Combined Task Group (CTG) 158.1 on July 17 aboard Ocean 6, an afloat forward operating barge in the north Persian Gulf.

Command of CTF 158 typically rotates among coalition partners Australia,
United Kingdom, and the United States.

CTF 158 is comprised of coalition ships and its primary mission in the
Gulf is maintaining security in and around both the Al Basrah and Khawr
Al Amaya Oil Terminals -- ABOT and KAAOT, respectively -- in support of
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723. This resolution charges the
multinational force with the responsibility and authority to maintain
security and stability in the Iraqi territorial waters and also supports
the Iraqi government's request for security support.

"I am looking forward to [continuing] the hard work the Royal Navy and
the coalition has done in the [Gulf]," said Hall, who is also commander
of Task Forces 51 and 59. "It is a very important mission to assist the
Iraqi nation for self-determination."

The primary mission of CTG 158.1 is to provide 24-hour protection to
Iraq's oil terminals, KAAOT and ABOT. The task group operates from Ocean 6, which is a command and control platform in support of personnel assigned to protect the oil platforms.

"My staff is ready and prepared to take on this coalition mission," said
Severs who is also the commodore for Destroyer Squadron 50. "We will
play a vital role in maritime operations."

Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability
in the NAG and protect Iraq's sea-based infrastructure, which provides
the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination. Iraq's oil
platforms account for about 90 percent of the country's gross domestic

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Iraqi Oil Platform Visit

Iraq's oil provides them with over 90% of their GDP. 95 % of that oil flows through two platforms in the extreme northern Arabian Gulf. These two platforms reside inside Iraqi territorial waters which are often under dispute with both Iran and Kuwait. Iran is the most aggressive in claiming Iraq's waters as there own. This dispute led to the unlawful detention of 15 UK Naval personnel on March 23 2007 by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps Navy. Next week ESG 2 will take the lead in protecting these waters by commanding the coalition task force whose members include the UK, Australia, Iraq and Singapore navies.

This is a quick look at how you get around this territory and a glimpse of the young men and women who work tirelessly in this difficult and harsh environment. The temperature was a mire 120+ degrees F during this visit.

Friday, July 6, 2007

No Fireworks

It's never a good idea to light off fireworks in the Middle East. Everyone tends to hit the deck.

However, a good cookout is always in order on Independence Day no matter where the location. This year it was atop one of our high rise flats in Bahrain. Everyone left full on steaks, chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers. The young folks did all the work. They're great!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Enemies in War, in Peace Friends

Happy 4th of July. In a few hours here in Manama Bahrain 50 or so American Sailors and Marines will be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on the roof patio of our high rise complex. There will be no fireworks or red white and blue bunting. But there will be country and rock music coming from Jerry's Bose iDock. We will enjoy the day off, talk of family back home and reflect on why we are so far from home. These Sailors and Marines are making a true difference in this war against violent extremists. Extremists who would love to end our way of life. Your Sailors and your Marines will not let that happen.

Someone from home asked what he could do to help. My simple response, "go to church and celebrate your faith."

Today, take time to read "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America."

If you've taken the time to read the Declaration, thank you. I hope you see the connection between the wrongs that were addressed and the freedoms you enjoy these 231 years later. No matter what anyone says on the news, this is a pretty damn great country.

God Bless America and God Bless our Sailors and Marines.

And God Bless and watch over our families as they watch the fireworks with out us. We miss you.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The last time I saw her face

Here are four smiling fun faces. Can you see them all? The last time I saw her face, as always it made me smile. She's fun, she's funny, she's not afraid to laugh or mug for the camera. She loves her puppy, who she named after a hip girl's surf wear line. And Roxy loves her - who doesn't.

She loves Christmas and everything to do with Christmas. She knows it's more than gifts and glitter.

She loves her brothers - but hates to loose to them in Wii boxing. That pout has always worked on dad but not brother. Play again?
The last time I saw her face I wasn't sure when I'd see it again. Barring world events beyond my control the next time I see her face she'll be wearing a cap and gown and be receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Business from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi Texas. Congratulations Courtney!

I can't wait to see your face.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do your duty, boatswain's mate, or you'll take his place

In summation of flogging, Samuel Holbrook in 1857 comments, "I fancy that those editors and legislators who sit in their cozy armchairs, in office or congressional hall, and talk wisely about the necessity of flogging for sailors, need only once to witness the infliction of the punishment they think so needful, and experience with their own breasts the feeling of dark humiliation which falls upon the soul at seeing the manhood being scourged out of a fellow creature, to alter their convictions as to the expediency of flogging."

Answering the critic who would ask why the bluejacket does not protest, he continues. "A 'man-of-war' is not the place for too free an expression of opinion. The regulations of the service do not admit to freedom of speech. They contain such a word as 'mutiny', for which they provide 'death or such other punishment as a court-martial shall provide.' And, as there can be no half-way-talk concerning so brutal a practice as flogging a human being - a creature created in the image of God - the consequence is an ominous silence. 'A still tongue makes a wise head' - nowhere more so than in the service, where it is truly said, 'You are allowed to think what you please, but you must not think aloud.'"

Good advice no matter who hears it. I have two ears and one tongue, I should use them in that proportion.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What's on your fridge?

Why is it that everyone is curious about what's in your fridge? Watch MTV's cribs and you will invariably be given a look inside the celebrity du jour's fridge and they always seem to feign embarrassment. A quick look always says "I have someone stock this for me." Look in a real man's fridge for a true picture of his lifestyle. Jerry has a carton of smokes, six pack of beer, two limes, bottle of hot sauce and several can of tuna which need no refrigeration. I questioned the smokes but then remembered the Cuban cigars in mine waiting their turn to enter my overcrowded maidador. I'll explain in another post.

But back to my comment, what's on your fridge? That's one of the things I miss at home - the collage of our life posted on our fridge. Always changing always growing. Pictures and magnets reflecting our life. A young Sailor. A kiss. A family. Celebrations. I'm an old Sailor now. I miss the kiss. I miss my family. I miss the celebrations. Can't wait to kiss my family and celebrate Court's graduation.

What's on your fridge?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blog everyday or a pretty pathetic weekend

Blog everyday. That's what you see in the cyber self help columns around the internet. Pretty pathetic if you're surfing the web looking for tips on how or what to blog on or how to blog.
  1. Blog everyday
  2. Don't blog about work
  3. Don't post poetry
  4. Don't add music
Pretty pathetic, so how did I find it? Answer that and you'll know how my weekend passed. Best advice came from my son, "please dad don't blog how Starbucks screwed you today with a Vende when all you wanted was a Tall."

Time for a Martini.

  1. Always add a photo to entertain your visitors

Thursday, June 21, 2007

God Speed "Junie" Clark

Garnett Yelverton Clark Jr 1915-2007

Garnett Yelverton “Junie’ Clark, banker, businessman, volunteer, died of complications from pneumonia and heart disease at Anne Arundel Medical Center on June 20, 2007. He had been a resident of Annapolis since 1932. Born October 30, 1915 in Howard County MD, he attended the Donaldson School near Ilchester, MD from 1926 through 1932. In 1936 he graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. In the summer of 1937 he signed on the Finnish four-masted barque, VIKING as an apprentice seaman for a voyage around the world as a merchant seaman. VIKING carried a cargo of timber from Finland to East London, South Africa and 4000 tons of wheat from Australia around Cape Horn to London.

During World War II he served 5 years as an officer in the Navy, mostly in destroyers in the Atlantic, European, and Pacific theatres. He was gunnery officer aboard USS Shubrick during the invasion of Sicily.

Following the war he entered the insurance business and was president of the Clark -Melvin Companies, insurance brokers, pension plans, and security dealers in Annapolis from 1958 to 1984. He was a Director of Annapolis Federal Savings Bank for 33 yrs and served as Chairman of the Board for 12 years.

He was always interested and involved in the history and development for the future of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. As such, he helped to found the Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation Inc. Then, as its Chairman of the Board he spearheaded the campaign to establish the current Medical Park campus. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Annapolis Life Care Inc. which established the Ginger Cove retirement community. He was a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Naval Academy Foundation Inc., and a Member of the Historic Annapolis Advisory Board. He funded a project to research the earliest history of Londontown, All Hallows Church, and The South River Club and mentored the Lost Towns Projects staff and college interns who greatly benefited from his extensive knowledge of the region.

He was a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club for 67 years, ultimately becoming its senior member. For 48 years he was a member of the New Providence Club of Annapolis and a member of The South River Club for more than 25 years. He was also a member of the Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, PA. He was a longtime member and faithfully attended All Hallows Church in Davidsonville, MD.

He was married to Mary Burwell Melvin Clark of Annapolis for 49 years until her death in 1989. He later married Mary Jane Hanson Thacher of Gladwyne, PA. They were married for 14 years until her death in 2004. He is survived by two daughters, Mary “Mollie” Clark Pratt of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Patricia Thacher Scott of Paris, France and two sons, Captain Garnett Y. “Sandy” Clark III, USN retired of Coeur d’Alene Idaho and John H. “Turk” Thacher, Jr., three sisters, Nancy Clark Kramer of Parkville, MD, Elizabeth Dawson Butcher of Gaithersburg, MD, Carolyn Dawson Runia of Aurora, CO, as well as 11 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 AM on the 6th of July 2007 in Friendship Hall at Ginger Cove, River Crescent Drive, Annapolis, MD. Arrangements are being made by John M. Taylor Funeral Home. Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made to Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis, MD.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Samurai

Happy Birthday Sam. Seventeen years have flashed by with the blink of an eye. You came onto the scene with those big blue eyes and our lives were changed forever for the better. A dad knows better than to embarrass his son on the internet, so I'll leave this as wishing you the best for a long life of adventure and happiness. That is what you have given us. You're a fine young man I'm proud to call son. As Johnny Cash would say, "your name it is Sam Hall is Sam Hall......." You inspired The Man in Black and everyone you've met. Have a great day my Samurai.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Life don't suck"

A recent commander's conference brought three Naval Academy alumni and task force commanders together. Following a day of meetings and briefings we three "2 star lieutenants" pulled a little liberty, ate Thai curry, and then retreated to the Upstairs Downstairs where we were greeted by our friend Mohammad and ushered to our table to sip Irish whiskey, smoke cigars and swap sea stories. Kevin took a deep draw on his Cuban, set down his drink, smiled and declared, "life don't suck." Here here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Manama Bahrain Souq

The Manama Souq in the old city is a cacophony sounds and a cornucopia of sights and smells. Night time is the best time to wander the narrow streets and alleys. As we approached from the parking area the first strong smell is a mixture of car exhaust and street urine. Strong enough to make you think of pressing on. Press on we do, through the initial throngs of mingling third country nationals or TCN's. These are the workers brought in from Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, the Philippines and everywhere in between. They are socializing on this hot and humid evening. In an hour my buddies and I cover just one small area of the souq saving the tailor shops, spice markets and household DIY areas for another evening. These shots were taken from my point and shoot digital with the flash disabled.

When my walkabout was finished I was covered in sweat but I was mentally refreshed and stimulated by the sights and sounds. I was also energized by the mass of people that greeted this obvious westerner with smiles and waves. Every vendor willing to show his wares and not pressure you for a sale when you say thank you and walk on.