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Archive for the ‘Made in USA’ Category

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Somewhere in a lonely hotel room
There’s a guy starting to realize
That eternal fate has turned it’s back on him.

It’s 2am….

It’s 2 am
The fear is gone
I’m sitting here waiting…

Maybe my connection
Is tired of taking chances

Yeah, there’s a storm on the loose
Sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence
All circuits are dead
Cannot decode
My whole life spins into a frenzy

Help I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone
Place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned

My becaon’s been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go 
Now that I’ve gone too far…

OK, so its not 2 AM here, but it is somewhere, and when I heard this old 80’s Golden Earring tune in the car today as I pulled into the airport, yet again, before 6 AM, the lyrics resonated with me a bit.

Don’t you judge me, Paul Blart.   I’m a bit sleep deprived, and it is about to get worse.   But, as I sit here in Virginia, going on Vienna, I can’t help but think on sojourns past, some even through this very airport.   Debit cards and “Rent A Wreck”, anyone?   Good times, good times…

And, just think, 48 hours after touching down on the old continent, I will turn around and do the whole thing over again.   At least the Westbound movie is different from its Easterly brother.

In the meantime, I can sit here (lay over, moreso) and contemplate trips past, and what needs to be accomplished on the trip about to come…

My becaon’s been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go 
Now that I’ve gone too far

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what he saw? Did he look below the surface? Did he ever think he might be wrong? More on that in a moment.

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Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice. Once was in Europe in 2008, while viewing relics of history from an event that changed the world. The other time was today when I accompanied my kids to the 45th Infantry Division museum here in OKC.

I’ve always wanted to visit this museum, thinking it to be a nice collection of old tanks and airplanes. Little did I know how much more was there to be seen. As I was looking in a mirror hanging in the Germany exhibit room, a museum docent approached and said the chilling words: “That is the mirror that Hitler groomed himself in on the day that he killed himself in the Berlin bunker”.

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What did I see in the mirror today? A guy wearing an OCA t-shirt, an EMHS hat, and an OC jacket. Each piece reflected something about me, but were largely just a uniform of externals. What is going on inside the man? What is he about? What does he say? What does he do? If history remembers him, will it be for good or for bad?

How about the mirror’s previous owner? What did he see? What did he think, delusional though he may have been? While it was chilling to look at myself in his mirror, a mirror simply reflects what is currently before it.

What about the lessons of history? I love studying and examining history, and I love the veterans that remain with us and were recently honored during their day a week or so ago. As I have visited other lands and met the generations of citizens who call their home something other than the USA, I wonder what they are thinking. What do they see in us today? What do they think? If we look in the same mirror, do we see entirely different views? Who is right, and who is wrong? Absent an obvious moral issue, do people really see that clearly?

The following pairings of pictures reflect images of the time, the mid 20th Century war to end all wars. The second of each pair is an image from today in the museum in middle America, a reflection as we see it in the mirror of history. The first of each pair of images is from the museum in Europe, albeit not from Germany itself.

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what others see? Do we look below the surface? Did we ever think we might be wrong?

Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice, and today was one of those days.

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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His name was Kyle. He was an amazing young man. I first met Kyle almost 9 years ago, in June of 2002, while passing through the St Louis airport. Our paths crossed a few more times on the OC campus, with short visits on each occasion. Kyle shared with me only a few of his great dreams, and service to country was at the heart of them all. And then, he was gone. I still remember the shock the morning we learned of his loss. If you did not know Kyle, his obituary will be shared at the end of this post, and hopefully you will get some sense for what this man was all about.

My family and I are taking our annual school break summer pilgrimage, this year to the beach. Along the way, we planned for a stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi to tour the battlefield memorials. As we began today worshipping with the Bypass Church of Christ, the minister had some thoughts and emotions to share regarding Memorial Day. And it reminded me of Kyle. I have not thought about him in admittedly quite some time. The last time was while scanning a serviceman’s memorial at the D-Day museum in New Orleans some time ago.

My grandfather, Howard Pope, was a Midshipman in the Navy during WWII. He made it home from serving to be reunited with wife and family. Another family member, Alec, was not so blessed. Originally interred in a cemetery near Norway, France, his body came home to rest in Texas some years later. I remember men like Howard, whom I knew and loved, and Alec, whom I never met but whose name I repeat almost daily and whose face I see in so many of my family members.

I traditionally hang the American flag from our house on Memorial Day. As we are not there for me to do so this year, may this post serve as a digital display to honor the fallen, whether from 1812, 1863, 1913, 1944, 2004, or today in 2011.

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As we toured the site in Vicksburg today, my thoughts were focused on young men who were lost so many years ago. In retrospect, the cause seems so obvious. Why would anyone want to fight to keep people enslaved? And yet, the freedoms and cultural diversity shared this morning at the Bypass Church reminded us why others would fight to help others be free.

I think that is why Kyle wanted so badly to serve our nation, and in so doing, to serve our world. He wanted to share some of that same freedom.

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Danton ‘Kyle’ Seitsinger was born in Oklahoma City October 4, 1974, to Dan and Jo Seitsinger. He died serving his country in Afghanistan on January 29, 2004. Kyle graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, in May of 1993. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps on December 7, 1993. During his six and a half year tour of duty, Kyle guarded U.S. embassies in Brasilia, Moscow and the consulate in Rio de Janeiro. At each of his stops, men of his company gave spontaneous awards to Kyle for his leadership style. Kyle was also an expert marksman and rifle instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was named ‘Top Gun’ at his embassy school graduation in Quantico, VA. Of the 150 Marines who started the program, only 50 graduated, including Kyle. Kyle enrolled in Oklahoma Christian University in the fall of 2000. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves when he enrolled in OC, and was a senior when he was called into active duty in November 2003, just 12 months short of his graduation with a dual major in journalism and Spanish. While at OC, Kyle worked for the Talon, the student newspaper, serving as an editor for two years. In 2002, Kyle was selected as one of sixteen student journalists to participate in the Summer Institute in Journalism sponsored by the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities. His assignments included interviews with the Colombian president as well as U.S. representatives Ernest Istook and J.C. Watts. In 2003, Kyle spent six months in Costa Rica in a program designed to immerse the learner in the Spanish language. He had expressed an interest in a career of service in the U.S. diplomatic corps in South America and was an aspiring photojournalist. Kyle’s adventurous spirit blended well with the Marines, who showed him the world. He grew from a tempestuous child to a disciplined, confident young man. His college newspaper columns covered everything from world affairs to his opinion of the ‘ridiculous’ logo his university adopted. Kyle embraced a journalism career and aimed high, with hopes of being a photojournalist and a foreign war correspondent, perhaps even winning a Pulitzer Prize or two. Meanwhile, he enthusiastically covered high school games and worked as a copy messenger at The Oklahoman, realizing he had dues to pay before getting there. Kyle made many friends at The Oklahoman who remember him fondly. Kyle’s down to earth, gregarious personality attracted friends of all kinds. In Brasilia, he ‘adopted’ two young poor girls and urged his family to send them gifts. He rarely missed a chance to practice Spanish or Portuguese with natives. Despite their cultural differences, Kyle always knew what to say and how to keep them talking. Kyle wasted no time, rising early to explore the many cities he visited. It’s as though he knew he needed a faster pace to complete his life. We’ll cherish the many stories that surround Kyle’s antics, his cleverness and his special kind of audacity. We’ll miss you, Kyle, always. Our solace comes in knowing that you have invigorated our souls and taught us that love is stronger than death. Kyle is survived by his father, Dan, his mother, Jo, and two sisters, Karla Seitsinger of New York City and Penny Owen Cockerell of Dallas. In lieu of memorials, the family requests that donations be made to Wentworth Military Academy, 1880 Washington Avenue, Lexington, MO, 64067 and the Gridiron Club, c/o Don Schmidt, 330 N. Country Club Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064, which provides journalism scholarships.

Obituary originally published in The Oklahoman on February 7, 2004.

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Circa 2007: “All is well; buy our stuff”.

Circa 2008: “Dumb question: that won’t happen”. (new BearS chairman speaking to yours truly, 2 months before their doom).

It’s Friday the 13th. The CNBC prognosticators are talking about the Fed, inflation, the SEC, and “the reason it’s different”. And, of course, Goldman is always in the background: the circa 2011 version of Bear, I would contend.

I’m beginning to think the whole lot of them is corrupt with self interest.

Cynicism expressed, I’m cheering for my retirement account. Go baby, go….

:/

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The World is Flat, A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century was a book written by NY Times author Thomas Freidman a few years ago. It discusses the history of the world twenty years from now, and in the chapter “Y2K to March 2004,” what people will say was the most crucial development. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world’s two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this “flattening” of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? (Wikipedia)

Much has changed since that book was written, but the premise is the same. When America sneezes, the world catches a cold, but I believe the converse is true as well.

Much has happened in the past month. There was a devastating earthquake in Japan. The U.S. and its allies began, after a protracted debate and delay, bombing the government forces in Libya. I think it has something to do with “Regime Change”. This is not the first time we have gone down this road with Gadhafi. I find it highly ironic that in the early 80’s, President Reagan ordered airstrikes on Gadhafi to remove him from power, and 30 years later, momentos of that airstrike sit in the Reagan Museum and Library next to his grave, and Gadhafi is still in power. Meanwhile, as the Peace loving French were leading airstrikes against Gadhafi in 2011, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was conducting a humanitarian aid mission off the coast of Japan. The world is flat, indeed, but I would suggest that not that much has really changed, in principle.

President Kennedy tried this 50 years ago with Castro, and Castro has remained in power for generations beyond the lighting of Kennedy’s “eternal flame” in Arlington National Cemetery. So, from Casto/Kennedy to Reagan to Obama/Gadhafi, has much really changed?

The phrase “Made in China” used to be viewed as a bad thing in this country. Today, it is an expected and embraced norm. We don’t actually make much in this country, anymore, and when we do, it tends to cost more due to our labor expectations. “Made in Japan” is a good thing, today. Most of the components of the iPad I am using to post this today were made in Japan.

But, what do we do now? Who will make our stuff? U.S. Factories are seeing shortages on parts today, two to three weeks removed from the quake, and people are being released from their jobs and everything from video cameras to cars to iPads are expected to be in short supply soon.

I have written recently that, of the few vices I can recognize and attempt to manage in life, one of those is moderation, especially in buying clothes. As I looked at the tags in my closet, the flat world came ever closer to home. Rich nations. Poor nations. Impoverished island nations. 5 of the 6 populated continents, sans Australia, have a presence as manufacturers of my wardrobe. What would I wear today, if the world was not flat?

At least, if I can help my shoes keep their shape courtesy of “made in the USA”, that is a start.

We borrow a lot of money in this country, both as indivuduals and collectively as a nation. China, and Japan, both are two of our largest creditors at “USA, Inc.”. But, what if they get tired of doing so, or need the money more for their own economies? Who will loan us money to buy their stuff? And if we can’t buy as much of their stuff, will they grow weary of us? What if we can’t (and we likely won’t, in relative terms) do a good job of paying them back on our debts, in constant purchasing power value terms? What if they get angry, and begin to call for “regime change” at USA, Inc.?

Noted philosopher Billy Joel sang about this in his trademark song about the 20th Century: “We Didn’t Start the Fire

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

A better man than Joel, and the author and finisher of true philosophy had a few thoughts in this arena as well:

Matthew 24:

 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

   9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

In a book from the early 1800’s, Democracy in America, a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocquerville wrote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults”.

Who will one day want to “change our regime”…?   Who does today?   

I hope more of us than not still believe that way, because we’ve apparently got some repair work to do, maybe for quite some time…, or for as long as this earthly regime is allowed to continue buying, borrowing, and maybe even bullying?

 

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