A good workout makes it all better

I spent all day frustrating myself with pagination and bullet points. No matter how old I may get, no matter how much wisdom I earn, I will never have the patience for this, or understand why simple text editors and CMS tools simply refuse to do the obvious thing.

Or, failing that, why my ideas and habits are always so fundamentally at odds with the people who designed these things. Designed these things, one imagines, with a notion of serving the broader audience. If so it begs an important question: am I out of step with popular ideas about indentation?

Other things, you grow fine with. Music, fashion, well, that’s just a byproduct of not caring as you get older. Certain elements of political ideologies, what are you gonna do? How the cookie crumbles, could have used a different emulsifier, but I’m sure that was a bottom-line decision. Stuff happens, yes, in fact, stuff does happen.

But, my goodness, people should all want to use bullets and other basic formatting traits in a sane, sensible, not-at-all-programmed-by-a-sociopath way.

After I’d spent hours doing this — that’ll teach me, until the next time — which included making up brand new utterances to utter, my lovely bride came in and suggested a way around this problem. It made sense. It was easy. But, by then, I had invested six hours on the thing and who wants to blow up that sort of progress?

I was flibbertygibberted.

A little while later I had a cause to be even more frustrated because I finally went outside and it was a stunningly beautiful evening. (Literally, all afternoon was spent on this ridiculous task I’d made for myself, rather than being outdoors.) So I went for a swim.

Jumped in, goggles on and started the freestyle technique. This was my view on the starting end of the pool.

Swam for an hour. Got in 2,650 yards. I do not know what is happening.

This is not fast, but it is a respectable distance. Also, I didn’t stop the first time during the whole thing, which is absolutely a record. This was my longest swim since October 17, 2015. That was my last lap swim until last month. A lot happened in between. A lot of nothing happened in between, too. But that’s the case for everyone. Anyway, 10th swim in after an almost eight year layoff, and I’m doing some real distance again.

My heart rate, immediately after my swim, was 101. I might not be working hard enough.

Swimming at dusk, though, was a lot of fun, and just what I needed after flabdabbering my computer all day. I’m going to feel it in my shoulders tomorrow, but I might also go for another swim Friday evening.

This is the fifth installment of my tracking down the local historical markers by bike. There’s an online database with 115 markers in the county. Counting today, we’re 11 down and making decent progress. What will we learn a bit about today? We have a few more war memorials.

I’ve read that 78 local men served during the Great War, by the time it was over, 124 people had enlisted. Some 3,300 people lived in the two communities represented on that marker. In a small town any enlistment is keenly felt. I haven’t, yet, found anything online that tells me about which locals shipped out, to where or with whom. I don’t know anything yet about casualties, but supreme sacrifice leaves you with more than a suggestion. All of it was keenly felt, I’m sure.

Some of those initial 78 would have likely been in the Guard. When the war began in Europe, the local national guard was under strength, under supplied and under prepared, but still somehow better equipped, trained and prepared than it had ever been. New Jersey was one of only four states that funded 75% of the expenses of its National Guard. Some of the Guard here went to the Mexican border. Some went to Fort Dix, and then Anniston, Alabama, before heading out to France. But where the men honored here, I don’t know.

Right next to that marker is this one.

Russell Garrison also has a memorial park in his name, just a few miles away. Garrison was killed at a place called Pleiku, a strategic crossroads town, in 1967. He wasn’t yet 22.

Marvin Watson was a PFC in the Marine Corps. He died in 1969 in Quang Nam, a town in central Vietnam by the East Sea. His high school yearbook says he was known for his sense of humor. He had just turned 20.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund says 28 people from this county died in Vietnam.

Two generations later, here we are.

Specialist Richard Emmons III probably got razzed for his baby face. He looked young even in his fatigues, even in his beret. And when you see the photos of him smiling, you can really see it. He was 22 years old, in a province in eastern Afghanistan he probably couldn’t have found without a detailed map before he deployed. A rocket-propelled grenade attack on his convoy. He’d been in the army for less than three years, and in-country for almost a year. It looks like the whole town came out when he was returned home.

Corporal Derek Kerns was killed in a training accident in Morocco. Helicopter crash. The Marines concluded it was pilot error. The two Osprey pilots survived, but Kerns and another, a Marine from Los Angeles, were killed. Kerns joined the Corps right after high school, and his family said he really took to the life. He’d just gotten married, and they had just had a baby. He was only 21.

And somehow, despite that, it’s the blank space beneath those two names, the air below those stories, that is really striking.

All three of those markers are next to one another, overlooking Memorial Lake, which is right beside Main Street. A pair of bald eagles live around the lake, and there’s a nice little neighborhood just across the street. The locals fish for bass and crappie there.

So we’ve learned a fair amount this week, but there’s a lot more to go. If you’ve missed some of the early markers, look under the blog category We Learn Wednesdays. And be sure you come back next week for what is a historical pre-footnote and something else, which isn’t even in place anymore.

It doesn’t sound like much, but that installment is going to be great.

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