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Who Would Have Thought Air Could Be Historic?

Posted on December 20, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

In the continuation of my family’s journey in Asia, Crash Aunt and I took the kids to Osaka (which was very cool) and then today to Hiroshima (which was cool for very different reasons).

Whenever we go places I really try and teach my kids about how important the places we visit are in the history of the world, and in this case there are not many places more influential in the history of the world than Hiroshima.

They have a very nice little museum with a lot of good information as well as numerous displays that really drill home the effect that the bomb had on the city.  It was fascinating to see the “shadows” that were created on all different structures as well as some of the before and after pictures and how completely decimated the city was.

Outside of the museum there were a number of little memorials and shrines for various groups of people including the Children’s Peace Memorial that was erected after the death of a young girl named Sadako who died from leukemia but was made famous for her paper crane making and the book that told her story.

As I walked with my family to the northern end of the park we saw a building now known as the A-bomb dome.  This building sits only a few hundred meters from the site where the bomb detonated but somehow lived through the blast and has been preserved as a reminder of the devastation that took place.

Looking above that building and imagining B-29s flying overhead and dropping the bomb that detonated about 600 meters above ground left me speechless.  It was unreal to look into that sky and realize just how historic that air was.

This experience reminded me of my visit to Ft. Sumter in South Carolina and being in awe at the historic air resting above that bay where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.  Who would have thought that air could be so awe inspiring?

While both of these events led to the loss of countless lives and altered the course of history forever, there was something surreal about both of these locations.  There was an incredible feeling of peace in both places.  This has been even more pronounced here in Hiroshima.  Despite the typical congestion and bustle of Japan, this whole city, and in particular the Peace Park by where the bomb was dropped, have a tremendous peace that is unmistakable.  My wife felt it and even some other Japanese people we talked to that were visiting the area said the same thing.

If ever there was a city to have a feeling of hate or anger or frustration this would certainly be it, but the exact opposite has been true.  The city that they said would not have a living thing for 75 years is now flourishing with industry and beautiful trees and happy people.

As we were walking away from the Peace Park we stumbled across a couple of men that were sitting there making paper cranes, and as usually happens with my cute little white kids in Asia, they were immediately drawn in and offered free cranes.  As we talked to them we discovered that they were both survivors of the attack but rather than bitterness or anger they were some of the happiest, kindest, most friendly Japanese people I have met during my time here.  They have lived full lives and have beautiful families that they were happy to show us pictures of.

I don’t know how many of our experiences here that my kids will remember, but I hope that at least some of the thoughts and feelings will stick with them and help them to better understand the world we live in.  And also the reality that we can find peace in some of the most destructive places in history.

Sometimes Life Works Out Like This

Posted on December 13, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Today after lunch I went to grab a little treat from our remaining Halloween stash. When it comes to Halloween candy, we work on the consecration system. All the kids’ candy is mixed and we all eat out of the entire stash. Selecting the right piece of candy can be a challenge. Do I want chocolate? Do I want something fruity? etc etc I usually go for one of each.

When I went into the stash today, I saw one of my favorite candies of all time: Dots. I’m not sure why I’ve always loved them, but I do. It probably goes back to trips to the movies or this one time I was doing home teaching for my church and my older companion took me to the store and bought me this massive (at least that’s what I thought at the time) box of dots.

You know the excitement of opening your favorite box of candy. However, when I opened it, I discovered this:

dots-candy

I don’t want to be insensitive or ungrateful, but it was a disastrous result. If you’re a fan of dots, then you know what I mean. Yellow and green are the worst and this box was almost entirely full of yellow and green. Pink is the best, so at least the one that wasn’t yellow and green was pink. However, that hardly made up for all the yellow and green.

As I pondered on this situation, I thought “Sometimes Life Works Out Like This.” I really have nothing to complain about. Yes, it was a sad thing to open a box of Dots to almost all green and yellow, but if that’s the worst part of my day, then I live a pretty amazing life.

So, despite this extremely minor setback, I’m going to push through the day and hope that the next box I open in life will have a little better result. Plus, that Pink one was so delicious.

Note: Yes, it’s December and we still have plenty of Halloween candy. I guess that’s what happens when you have 4 kids and trick or treat at your church, school, and then Halloween night.

Memories From the Past Can Come Unexpectedly

Posted on November 4, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

red-hot-chili-peppers-logoIt’s so funny how the most benign things can bring back some of the best memories.

As I was driving home tonight I switched CD’s (yes my car only has a CD player because it is old, and yes I still have CD’s because I am old) and put on one of the discs from the amazing Stadium Arcadium album by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  As I started to listen to the music I was instantly reminded of a great memory from high school.

I had a good friend named Greg that had an old white hatchback Ford with a sound system that was likely worth more than the car itself.  Greg and our other friend Sam, who now has his doctorate in music, always had impeccable taste in music and opened my eyes to some of the great artists of all different times like Prince, David Bowie, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

One of our favorite things to do on weekend nights, in particular during the winter, was to drive around with amazing music screaming through the speakers, windows down, letting in the bitter cold Utah winter air, and the heater cranked up so we wouldn’t all freeze to death.  It was nothing ground breaking, or something that I thought would be particularly memorable at the time, but as I look back now I realize that it is those moments of simple joy that bring me the most happiness and inevitably put a smile on my face.

I know this often took place without me, or with our other friends Jon, Borsos, Naysahn, Mike, Thayne, Jamison, Mark, Jason, or the occasional female like Mary Jane, Liz, Erika, or Tricia, but it honestly didn’t matter who it was.  All that mattered was that a few teenagers were together making a memory that still puts a smile on my face even 15+ years later.

The older I get the more I realize how important memories like this are for one simple reason, they are about people.  I don’t regularly talk with any of the aforementioned people, and some of them I haven’t seen since we graduated high school, but that doesn’t matter either.  What matters is that these people were an integral part of my life during one of the most important times in any person’s life.  They helped me make good choices, and the occasional bad one, but I will forever be indebted to them for helping me become the man that I am today.

I did have the opportunity to see some of these friends a few years ago and it was so fun to see how all of our lives have developed over time and how quickly we just caught right up.  Even our children became immediate friends and had a great time running around my Grandparent’s old yard making their own memories.

So, as The Red Hot Chili Peppers serenaded me on my way home, I couldn’t help but turn up the heat, roll down the windows letting the cold air in, crank up the radio, and think back on some beautifully simple memories from my past.

Fighting the Battle Between Responsibility and Passions

Posted on May 13, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I am not really sure where I am going to go with this, but I am hoping that putting my thoughts on (digital) paper will bring some clarity.

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that military life can be somewhat chaotic and uncertain.  That is sort of the nature of the beast, and something that I understood well before joining.  Even with all of the uncertainty there are still certain times when I get to be a part of the decision making process, like it or not.

The short version of this story is that I am a navigator on the C-130H that is being replaced by the C-130J which has no navigator.  In case you can’t do the math, that means I have to find a new job.  The real problem, as I see it, is that I have a few options and none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I will spare you the specifics of my different options as it is not entirely relevant to my troubled line of thinking.  What is relevant is that my choices can largely be grouped into two categories: responsible rational choices, and choices that get me excited about the future.  The best answer would obviously be something that was a good mix of both, but if it was that simple I wouldn’t be grinding my mind over this.

So how does somebody find that good balance between responsibility and passion?

I was hoping that somehow an answer would appear after typing that, but no such luck.  I did stumble across this video today though which clearly leans towards one side of the debate:

I have seen multiple videos and stories like this recently and maybe that is my answer, but I simply can’t ignore the responsibility side of my life.  Then again, maybe that is just the doubt that the video talked about.

Feel free to share some insights with me.

Slightly Modifying My Responses to My Children

Posted on May 10, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I respond to my children. This is true when they wake up in the morning, when they get home from school, when they ask me to do something, or need help with something. I think the way I react really makes a huge long term impact and I didn’t even realize what I was doing.

My gut reaction is often to overreact or start addressing the task at hand. For example, when they get home from school it’s easy to start by saying, “Start doing your homework.” Yes, I definitely want them to do their homework, but I’d hate if the way I was greeted when I got home was homework. A much nicer greeting would be to ask about how their day went. Of course, I’m unlikely to get long greetings to start, but I think with patience they’ll likely start expecting this and be ready to recount their day when they get home from school.

This really came to light the other night when putting my kids to bed. It took a couple times for this to sink in, but I finally think I got the message. While as a parent I often want the kids to get in bed so I can get to the things that I want to do in peace, I’ve been doing what I can to spend more time talking with my kids at night. Sometimes that includes climbing into bed alongside them so they know I’m there to talk and I’m not going to be running out the door as fast as I can.

After doing this a few times along with what’s possibly a bad habit of giving some short backrubs while we talk at night, I decided not to do it one night because the kids had acted poorly. Crash Kid #1 said in one of the most sincere voices I’ve ever heard him use, “But I like when we talk at night.”

Kind of makes my heart break thinking about it. I like talking with him too, but sometimes at night I’m tired and not that interested in talking about minecraft or modern architecture design. It’s a seriously tough balance. However, it’s amazing how big of a difference a little thing like 5 minutes of chatting at night can make in my relationship with my children.

Going back to the small ways I react to my children, I could do a lot more in the little things to better help my children. Often that means I need to take a step back and not react to their actions or questions and instead I need to take a second to think about the right way I should respond. That’s not an easy thing to do, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s one of the most important things I can do.

Over versus Under – The Toilet Paper Debate

Posted on May 2, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

It’s time that we take on some serious journalism here and discuss the debate on whether the toilet paper should go over or under. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about, but to be 100% sure, here’s a visual representation of the debate:

Over versus Under - The Toilet Paper Debate

This is an extremely important subject and no doubt has been the fight between many a husband and wife over the years. I’d be surprised if this question isn’t one of Match.com’s algorithmic checks of compatibility between partners. Considering how much time you spend reaching for the toilet paper, this is an important topic which must be discussed. The problem is that too many people take a simplistic over or under stance, but the answer should be much more nuanced. Since nuance is my middle name, let’s dive into the nuance.

Someone recently found this 1891 toilet paper roll patent which many argued “settled” the debate of over versus under. Here’s the image from the patent:

Toilet Paper Patent

I can see why many would argue that this ends the debate of over versus under. However, just because something patents something a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal way to use something. In fact, there are many initial patents that get modified and improved over the years. Plus, if I was getting into the nitty gritty (which I basically am), then it’s worth also noting that the patent doesn’t even have the toilet paper mounted into proper position. How do we know that the inventor didn’t intend it to be mounted the other way, but this was just the best way to illustrate the patent?

As a child, I must admit that I was a strong proponent of the over the top paper roll. I’m not sure if I inherited this view from my parents or siblings or if I came to the conclusion on my own through constant use. Either way, I became a strong advocate for the over the top toilet paper. It provided much easier access to grab the toilet paper.

As I’ve grown older, I still feel the same way about over the top toilet paper, but I’ve grown to understand an important nuance. Upon having children who became mobile I realized the merits of the under methodology. Any parent who has arrived at their toilet seat only to find a pile of unrolled toilet paper will understand why the under methodology is so important with kids (Side Note: I’m also told this is true with animals such as cats, but don’t have first hand experience). Yes, my children’s actions have converted me to the under approach to toilet paper.

I do look forward to the day when my kids are mature enough to appreciate the over the top toilet paper and I can return to my roots. We’re almost there. I can feel it.

The moral of the story is that we shouldn’t judge others if they choose to go over the top or under on their toilet paper. Like in most things in life, there’s always more nuance than we realize.

I’m Glad My Kids are Patriotic

Posted on April 20, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I just got back from a long couple of weeks in the Philippines for work, and as usual it left me concerned about how my time away from my kids impacts them and our relationship.  It is always heartwarming to come home to their handmade signs and super tight hugs and kisses, which I guess means I am doing something right.

All of my other doubts aside, I know my kids are learning one thing that is incredibly important to me.  They are learning to be patriotic and have respect for the great symbols of our nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with military installations, there is music that plays every morning and every night.  I have seen different variations at the various bases I have lived at in terms of what music they play, but the national anthem is always a part of that music at some point during the day.  A fun addition here in Japan is that they also play the Japanese national anthem.  When the music plays you are supposed to stop walking or driving, and if outside stand with your hand over your heart much like you would at a sporting event.

This is our first time living on base so my kids were not super familiar with this tradition before we lived here, but I am proud to say they have learned quickly.

Just now my youngest was in the living room with my wife and I when the music started playing.  She immediately wanted to run outside, but we stopped her since she isn’t supposed to be running around while the music is playing.  Much to my happy surprise she said, “Fine, I put my hand on my heart.”  Technically she put her hand on her stomach, but we helped her find her heart and she stood there in the living room for a minute while the music played.

She is only almost three years old, but I am super proud of the fact that she is learning that respect already, even though I realize she doesn’t really know why she is doing it.  I am grateful for parents who taught me that respect at a young age as I think respect is one of the most important character traits we can develop.

Burnt Out and Tired

Posted on March 21, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

What a great title for a post on my Birthday huh? It’s just the reality and I thought I’d share. As a get a year older today, I realize that life is a challenge. That doesn’t change. Even when you have amazing things and opportunities in your life, there are also things that can really overwhelm as well.

The interesting part is that I have a pretty amazing life. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have so many opportunities and get to do so many amazing things. However, with all that opportunity it’s really easy to get burnt out and tired.

This seems like the moment to remember that my mom told me I can’t do everything. I’d always respond, “You’re right mom, but I’m sure going to try.”

As I’ve gotten a year older, I think I’m going to have to modify that statement. In fact, I’m already doing so in many things. The older I get, the harder I try not to do everything. That’s really hard for someone who enjoys so many things in life. Kind of makes me wish that I only had one skill and interest. Then, I could just focus on it and not worry about all the other things that I wasn’t good at doing.

Of course, even saying that I realize that the grass is always greener on the other side. There are pros and cons to everything in life. That’s a lesson I keep learning over and over again.

I just got off the phone with Crash Uncle. He had some great words of wisdom that talk about enjoying where you’re at and not worrying about a lot of the other stresses in life. Much easier said than done. However, it’s something I’ll be chewing on this week.

Until then, I’m going to knock out a few more things on my to-do list so I don’t have that weight on my shoulders too. There’s something amazingly satisfying when you cross things off your to-do list.

My Crash Daughter Super Hero

Posted on November 24, 2015 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Crash Daughter Strong
I saw this image today and I thought this is what I want for my daughter. I want her to feel like a super hero and to realize that through prayer she can find super powers.

In my work I have a chance to work with so many extraordinary women. Although, I’m often shocked as I get to know them how little confidence they have in them. Watching from the outside, I can see their brilliance, but for some reason they have a hard time seeing it.

I’m hopeful that my Crash Daughter will realize she’s a super hero inside and can do anything, just like her mom.

How Do You Talk To Kids About Hard Things?

Posted on October 2, 2015 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

You may see this picture of the squadron patch on Facebook to honor those who lost their lives today.  To those we lost, a toast...

This is a picture of the patch from the squadron that lost 6 of their own today with the black stripe in memorial.

I really do mean that as a question because I don’t know the answer.

In case you were wondering what brought on this somber topic, let me tell you.  I have no idea how much coverage it is getting in the states right now, but a C-130J crashed in Afghanistan this morning near the city of Jalalabad.  Many of the details are unclear at this time but it seems pretty clear from the reports that the entire crew of 6 lost their lives in the crash.

Now this would make me pause no matter what as every life that is lost in the defense of our country is special to me, but this one really strikes a lot closer to home for a number of reasons.  The most obvious reason is that I fly on the C-130, though an older model, and it is likely that I either know some of the crew, or at least have close friends that do.  The second reason is that I have been to the place where this happened multiple times while I was deployed.

Maybe the biggest reason this is striking me so hard is that this was the first time I have had to explain something like this to my kids, and I have no idea how to do it.  My wife actually told them about it before I got home, and who really knows how much they understand, but it is just something that I am finding challenging to think about, let alone explain to my kids.  They know that I fly airplanes and even that it is the C-130, which makes me super proud that they know what it is, and they even understand that it can be dangerous if I’m not careful.

When I deployed we were very clear with them about how daddy need to go away from home for a little while to try and help people who needed it.  It was hard on them but they were pretty tough most of the time.  Even with all of that, how do you explain to them that some other kids will never see their daddy again because of an accident doing the same job that you do every day?

Just to be clear I think it is important to talk about things like this because it is reality.  The nature of my work is a dangerous one, and there are inherent risks.  We do an amazing job mitigating those risks, but tragedies like this still happen.  If we allow our kids to live in a bubble where they think everything is flowers and fairies then I don’t think they will be able to deal with the tragedies that ultimately do happen.  On the other hand, we also don’t want to scare them to the point that they never want to take risks or make mistakes because then we are only selling them short of their full potential.

The more I think about this I don’t think there really is a good answer because every kid and every situation is different.  But what I do think is important is to talk to our kids when tragedies happen so that they aren’t just left to wonder.  It is not easy to deal with tragedy, but learning to cope is an essential life skill that can easily get overlooked if we don’t do our jobs as parents.

In closing I would ask you to take a moment to think about those who lost their lives today in defense of our freedoms.  If you are a religious person I am sure their families can use all of the prayers you can spare.  If you aren’t, take an extra moment to hug your family today because your ability to do so is exactly why so many of us do what we do.

To those we lost, a toast…