The Greatest Generation

I have to tip my hat to the “Greatest Generation” who survived the Great Depression, rebuilt America’s infrastructure, and stormed the beaches of Normandy to help the win World War 2.  While I acknowledge their wonderful contribution to the world as we know it, I think today’s generation doesn’t get the credit it deserves. 

For example, if you went walking down Broad Street in Philadelphia asking people if they’d sign up to storm the beaches of Normandy and be exposed and vulnerable to heavy gun fire, I think a bunch of us would pass.  However, we could get some guy in a cubicle in Nevada to fly an unmanned drone into Afghanistan and fire away on enemy combatants without a single US soldier getting hurt.  The other crazy thing we have developed is the AC 130, it’s essentially an enormous plane that can rain down enormous bombs with pinpoint accuracy.  These things are freaking spooky, take a look at this video of a real scenario, things get bonkers at the 2 minute mark:

We might not have the guts, but we’ve invented some pretty crazy stuff.  It reminds me of the quote by General Patton in the movie, “ Wonder weapons… my God, I don’t see the wonder in them. Killing
without heroics, nothing is glorified… nothing is reaffirmed? No
heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals? Only those who are left
alive… and those who are left dead. I’m glad I won’t live to see it.

”  We are in the age of wonder weapons. 

Our generation invented Google, I cannot begin to explain how awesome Google is, I think its even better than landing on the moon.  Google has made every human 1,000 times smarter.  Do you know what a pain in the ass it was to figure anything out 20 years ago?  We had to use the Dewey Decimal system to find a freaking book with outdated information and hopefully the book had an index so you didn’t have to read 1,000 pages just to find the one thing you were looking for.  The one thing that puzzles me about Google is that I feel like we should all be millionaires now, like 20 years ago, you would have to have gone to Harvard for 20 years to know all the stuff you can find out on Google, but now a 12 year old kid can teach you about any subject with the help of the internet.  Why aren’t we all rich now that we know so much more stuff?  In fact, I think Google should start colleges and they can just give you a long list of search terms to learn a particular curriculum. For example, if you wanted to become an economics major in Google University the curriculum would be; Google search: Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, economics, John Maynard Keynes, and so on. 

Our generation invented GPS!  I was recently in France for the first time ever, hopped in a rental car in the city of Paris without a clue of where I was going, typed in an address, drove 400 miles, and arrived exactly where I wanted to be within 10 minutes of when the little GPS said I would be there.  I cannot imagine how royally screwed we would have been if Jaclyn and I would have had to decipher a map and plan a route to get to a small country village in the eastern countryside, but the GPS allowed us to travel in confidence. 

Finally, our generation invented cell phones.  I have absolutely no idea how they work, but I can talk to my wife from a boat 15 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean without any problem at all.  I can Google how to catch a Bass while bass fishing on the Delaware River.  I can text San Diego Dave from Wrigley Field, I can call Jac when I safely land on the runway, I can call to let my family know I’m running late. 

Our generation will never be labeled the greatest generation, maybe we’re the hollow generation.  We behold untold power & intelligence, but dispense it with the shallow purpose of Facebook likes and and allow soulless machines to do our killing. If I had one wish for our generation, it would be that we all took a step back and thought about how we choose to use our potential. Google altruism. 

What I’m Thankful For…

The internet having the funniest videos in the world (I must acknowledge a daily video feed from SI.com called Hot Clicks who posted many of these previously):

The best way to accept a business card:

He might want to put some ice on this:

This is the funniest video ever, seriously…funniest ever:

Ground breaking news:

This dog is great, video gets funnier every time you watch it.

RKDeem Report will shell $5 for anyone who can repeat this feat:

The news people inserted the wrong video, hilarity ensues.

This song was everywhere this year, but this is the best version of it.

Pictures From France

Jac and I are back home in the USA, but we still have a piece of France in our hearts.  Here are a couple of my favorite pics.

Jac & I first arriving in Paris.

Jac standing in front of Versaille

Jac admiring a very small portion of Versaille’s gardens

The town of Colmar, buildings from the 1400’s

Finding Jac is easier than finding Waldo with her red hat.  Eiffel Tower is bigger than I imagined, this is the left side of the base.

Here’s RKDeem in front of a cathedral in Strasbourg that was built in the 1200’s

Another shot of the town of Strasbourg, quaint, romantic, authentic, and you can even get around via canal

A bakery in a Mulhouse market

A gorgeous statue in front of the Louvre

RKDeem in along the canal of Strasbourg

Jac at a tiny vineyard in Monmarte

Mulhouse & Colmar

Jaclyn and I spent Monday in a very old and artsy part of Paris called Monmarte. We had to walk up a giant hill, several sets of steep staircases, and some winding alleys to make it to the town, but the effort is rewarded by fabulous food, spectacular sights of the entire city, and lots of flavor unique to this section of Paris. Many artists called Monmarte home, Picasso & Renior to name a couple, and the main square is still packed with artists today, but most of it was cliche stuff meant for tourists. A saw a dozen 12 year old kids on a field trip getting crepes with whipped creme on them, it was too much, I broke down to my 12 year old self and mustered up enough French to order one myself. It was light and indulgent all at once, I enjoyed it to a level that seemed almost inappropriate. Jac and I wandered in and out of shops; churches, and museums, we saw so much beauty on every street. Grape vines grew on the houses, a tiny vinyard occupied the center of town, and all the bakers did their job with perfection and pride. You can eat well in Paris on the cheap, you can find sandwiches on baguettes all over, inexpensive cafes are ubiquitous and ideal for breakfast, and for dinner you can find very reasonable places tucked away on the back streets.

On Wednesday, Jac and I rented a car and headed out to Mulhouse. It is a six hour drive that takes you all the way across France on the boarder of Germany and Switzerland. We were meeting up with an old friend of Jaclyns, his name is Oliver. In her senior year of high school, Jaclyn stayed with Oliver in France and then Oliver stayed with Jaclyns family. I was nervous and did not know what to expect, but all of that concern was completely unjustified as Oliver and his family have been the most hospitable hosts I could every imagine. Lots of fabulous meals, champagne and local wines – Mulhouse is in the Alsace region with lots of great wines, and just absolute joy to be with all the time. Oliver is also a terrific tour guide and has shown us all the wonderful sights in the the towns of Colmar and Mulhouse. These towns are composed of buildings from the 1400s, you must Google Colmar and see what we are seeing, it is the trip of a lifetime.

I would write more, but I am writing from a French computer, with a French key board, and French spell check, so everything is in a different spot than I am used to and all my words are showing up as spelled incorrectly.

Today, Jac and I head off to Strasbourg, Oliver said it is superb – I cannot figure out how to add exclamation point, or else I would.

Versaille

Yesterday, Jac and I figured out the subway and took it to Versaille.
About seven stops into our ride, two portly older men jump onto our
train, just feet away from the two of us. The shorter guy had a small
instrument that resembled a saxophone, just a quarter of the normal
size, and the taller older older man had an accordion. Before I could
process their presence, the two of them launched into a raucous polka
performance. They played the heck out of those instruments at a volume
that seemed unimaginable, to get the crowd into it, they leaned in
within inches of you and slowed the tempo and built it back up to a
frenzy. I didn’t want much to do with it in the beginning, but in
hindsight, it really stuck with me as a memorable experience, but if
they ever tried that in Philadelphia, I am sure someone would stab them.

When the train arrived in Versaille, we walked a couple blocks to the
palace. Versaille is a place you need to see to believe, until seeing
Versaille, the most impressive buildings I’ve seen were the
Philadelphia Art Museum and Grand Central Station in NYC, Versaille is
like 100 of the Philadelphia Art Museums, it’s magnitude is outrageous.
The surrounding gates are all in gold, each room is filled from the
floor, all the way up to and including the ceiling with artwork. After
walking through just the central part of the palace, we decided to walk
through the gardens. When I think of gardens, I think of the
rectangular portion of lawn in my parent’s back yard where they grow
veggies, this was the size of a National Park completely manicured in
every inch. The trees were all squared off, you could putt a golf ball
40 yards on the neatly maintained grass, their were spectacular
fountains with elaborate scenes emerging from the water, there was a
giant canal the size of 70 football fields because Louis IV enjoyed
having boat parties, and there was so much room to get lost. In the
gardens, we always felt like we had the place to ourselves, like we
were Louis IV and Marie Antoinette.

After Versaille,we were taking the metro back towards the hotel and
realized a stop along the way was the Eiffel Tower. We decided to check
it out and see it up close. There were elevators you can take, but the
line for the stais was shorter, so we took the stairs. We literally
climbed up over 1,000 stairs to get to the second platform, once at the
second platform, you take an elevator to the very top. The line for
that second platform elevator was very long so we just stopped at the
second platform looking over the city of Paris. It started to get dark
so we returned to sea level via the stairs, my legs were spent so we
found a bench a block away to rest our legs on. We sat on the bench
facing the Eiffel Tower snuggling together to repel the chill from a
November night when all of the sudden the steel creation lit up and
sparkled all over with millions of flashes all over its body. I gave
Jac a kiss.

Jac was feeling really ambitious and decided to cram one more activity
in for the day, a burlesque show. I consider myself adequate as a
writer, but I am totally inadequate in describing the scene of the
program we watched at Le Lido. Let’s just keep it short by saying there
was beautiful women, hunky dudes, lots of dancing, and some silly and
death defying acts in between. Never have I seen such a show, it was
totally Paris. We caught a cab by the Arch De Triumph and called it a
night…right after I checked to see if the Eagles won.


Paris

Howdy folks!

Just a brief check in from Paris. Yesterday, we got off the plane at
2AM eastern time, but it was about 8AM Paris time. As we grabbed our
bags and headed for our cabs, several gypsies asked if we needed a ride
for a price of 70 euros, I had read the cab should be 40 to 50 euros,
so declined. We had a pleasant cab ride into the city, checked our
bags, and walked miles around the city to get our bearings and kill
some time. I visited so many places that I had read about, it was
really amazing to see and touch it all. Jac and I managed a couple
hours of sleep in the plane, so we were exhausted by the time we
wandered up to the Notre Dame catherdral. A beautiful sanctuary in the
middle Paris, we found pews to sit on, rested our feet, and found it to
be the perfect terminus to the long pilgrimage.

I will write more later, but today we try to find Versailles.


Hurricane Sandy


Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power from Monday night to Sunday night, it was quite an experience. We went trick-or-treating around the powerless neighborhood on Halloween and people would come to the doors wrapped in blankets with the smell of booze on their breath and were so excited to see the exuberance of children dressed in costumes dancing excitedly for a piece of candy. Some folks didn’t have candy, they didn’t get it before the power went out and once the power was out, it was out for all the stores that are normally open 24 hours. For those without candy, we had a giant bag of treats and gave them something. I really never imagined that Wegmans would ever actually shut down, I mean that store is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, I questioned why it even had locks on the door, now I know, Hurricanes. The funny thing is, the news kept saying to stock up on this and that and I really thought, that’s absurd, if things get dire, I can always go to a WaWa. But I have friends in upper NJ where the WaWa’s aren’t open and they can’t even fill up their gas tank and head somewhere where the power is on because the gas stations aren’t working (no power). I guess the lesson I learned is that I should take Hurricane preparations a little more seriously.

A giant tree fell from my neighbor’s yard into my front yard, my father came over and cut it up in giant chunks with his chainsaw. I need to get a chainsaw, but I can see myself getting out of control with preventive measures, its in my DNA. My father was always cutting down perfectly good trees in the backyard because the birds would eat the seeds and then poop on his car or something, then that tree had to go. If I had a chainsaw, I’d be cutting down all the trees around the house and Jaclyn would be watching out the window with the kids tucked away in the crawl space just praying my chainsaw would run out of gas. It is no wonder she took out a healthy life insurance policy out for me, I’d hate to see the Vegas odds on me prematurely dying with my over confidence to handle real man activities. As I watched my father casual dismantly a tree that must have weighed several tons, I wondered what in the world happened to me, I can’t fix a car, operate a chainsaw, and when I use gasoline to light a fire, it alarms the whole neighborhood. I think its my generation, we’re the indoor app generation, I don’t like it, at least I know how to go fishing. On a related note, I was driving on the Northeast extension yesterday near Hickory Run State Park and a dude pulled over in a pick up truck, hopped out of his car dressed in full camo with a giant bow & arrow and walked into the woods. As I drove by, I ducked down as I suspected he was going to shoot at me as I drove past him, it scared the crap out of me. Fortunately, no arrows flew in the direction of my Toyota Highlander.

Friday, Jac & I leave for Paris. I remember finding out that Jac was pregnant for the first time, that baby became an immediate priority and despite not being married, owning a home, or having much of a plan, I felt like soon enough, things would fall into place and everything would be dandy. Things will be dandy next week. Thanks to all who are helping out with the kids next week…and a very Happy Birthday to Dalia who turns 4 today.