Friday, November 10, 2017

Vietnam -- You have to die to get better.

While working in Lake Charles, LA at the CITGO Refinery on a turn around -- that when we go out to rebuild a unit so that it can be run to the ground by the company only to be rebuilt over and over again -- I over heard some CAJUN's talking colorfully about their youthful past.

They were talking about sneaking out behind the shed drinking warm beer and chitlins and just how sick they got from the aftermath. As usual one was besting the other on the amount of warm brew and pork skins. Well, when one realized the other had bested him on torquing up the amount of dumb ass, he asked just how sick he got and the other said:

"Son, I had to get better to die."

The beauty of being a writer is the one liners one gets from people is we get one liners from real people that are so cool, interesting and amazingly useful that you couldn't make them up on your own if you tried.

That one topped my list. Not because it came from a Cajun but because it can be applied to almost any dare devil exploit one could possible conjure up today and in the past as a fixed point on anyone's time line.

It is like saying "A fate worse than death" or "Give me liberty or Give me death" and then taking the person up on the literal death plenty side of the equation to see just how far that got the speaker of such sayings besides being bagged and tagged for the 6 foot under inevitability.

Seriously, it is tons of fun for a writer to have the grey matter concoction of a motive to run head on into fate. Like the F-4. It really doesn't take a lot of brain power to realize the purpose and design of the jet fighters at 500 miles per hour is not to fly into highly reinforced concrete.

This is an F-4 Phantom.

This is a F-4 Phantom on drugs

I was going to say that it doesn't take a rocket scientist -- but in truth, I think it did.

Total structural failure results when the physical energy of an equal and opposite reaction is not absorbed fast enough by the object to maintain is integrity at 500 miles per hour while hitting a solid wall.  The result being: the hardware becoming vaporware.
And you thought only software could be called vaporware.

By the way, the second link goes into a myth busters segment that shows a high speed projectile slicing through a car.  And for a split second, the car just sits there cut in half. Then the energy of the projectile is seen being absorbed by the vehicle.

The massive energy exerted into it and through it, the vehicle starts to move in a vaporizing fashion and in the same direction of projectile that went through it. Interestingly enough, there were more pieces of the car left than there was of the F-4.

These crash tests are aimed to make sense of deadly impacts.  If not make you laugh hysterically as the laws of physics get proven true.

Imagine an F-4 made out of rubber. There still would be no resemblance of what it was after hitting wall at 500 miles per hour especially if it is still being driven into the wall by an engine hell bent on vaporization. Even rubber would super heat and be vaporized.

So what's the point?

Bullets are aimed to kill. Bullets are dispatched from a gun at the speed of sound.  That's faster than 500 miles per hour. These small but deadly projectiles are directed with extreme prejudice at a human body.  While that body might be moving at the moment the bullet leaves the gun, it will probably stop upon impact.

Still, that's not my point.

Human beings are not designed to have any kind of flesh destructive objects pointed at us and used to inflict bodily damage. Chemicals or fires out at the refinery can be just as dangerous and just as deadly.   

We do live in a world of hazards. There is no getting around that. But sometimes, we get reckless, toy around with the notion that we can cheat death by making decisions which have unwanted consequences.

But sometimes, too, we have no control over the outcome of our decisions that we make. We are lied to, make commitments based on a full spectrum of data that could help make the right choice obvious, and just plain committed to learning the hard way.

Living based solely on passions, emotions or stimulus and response patterns can put a spin on life as being mystical and fill one with a sense of self worth and purpose with destiny.

The truth is, none of this is true.

The reality of life is the continuum of your life, your children's lives and their children. To make them feel safe and, to pardon the use of a star trek quote, live long and prosper.

The problem is two fold for a lot of us Vietnam Vets, we haven't been able to move past the war.

Not so much on the basis of mental anguish but because no matter what we have tried to do, most of us are finding out that we gave up a retirement check from the rich so they could get richer and we're now forced to live solely on social security therefore be poorer than dirt.

I and a whole bunch of other soldiers from that era have never owned a house, got anything from the GI Bill and haven't capitalized on a retirement paycheck from Uncle Sam for exposure Agent Orange, Post Dramatic Stress or anything.else that could be justified as a pension from the military.

Why haven't we?  Are we too proud, too worried to be turned down, never had the down payment to own a home?

I don't think thjat's the problem. I think it is because we were forced at an early age to work for the man because one of the two parents responsible for being there fore the baseball games and such was  being totally irresponsible and we were programmed to fill in the monetary gap. Many of us, were also physically and sexually abused.

Hard to build male individuality when the people who could have helped you do more did the reverse.

Hopefully, you're starting to see where I'm going here. And just as hopefully, you'll also understand.

It isn't our ability to do what we have to do to make the best years of our lives better, we don't know the real truth or the steps to take to get there.

Also, a lot of us Vets who could have gotten a lot more out of life wound up being married to the sum of our worst fears and the willingness to not become the leader of the house.

Not the women's fault as much as our own for one very important reason: we didn't know how to deal with women who love to drown your aspirations with their guilt trips.

And let's face it, if the true sense of purpose in life and married and have children isn't it also the responsible thing to make sure they were raised better than we were and better to deal with the morons we had?

A kind of mirror, mirror on the wall. We were hoping for commotion instead we got emotional baggage. It is the moment when you wake up and realize the the better half is you not knowing how to take charge of all the little things which make your life happy and meaningful and then taking responsibility for it that you realize your worst enemy isn't your wife but you. That's when all of the chaos and the child like behavior you have learned to live with becomes the enemy. That's when you stop looking for orders from someone else and learn to take the bull by the horns.

That's when you stop being a mentally wounded soldier of misfortune and start building your own Rendezvous With Destiny.

That's when you can say, "You had to get better to die."

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