Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I can't stand Christmas.  Most holidays set my teeth on edge.  Some of it is the music-- omnipresent, cloying.  Occasionally I can break out of my time and realize how beautiful and sincere much of the music was when it was written by believers and listened to by believers.  That's one of my buttons: when sincere good works get manipulated or, worse, are used to manipulate others.  So the music annoys me, but that's not why the season annoys me.

Looked at one way, there are no great moments.  No big events.  Every tactical operation was a few minutes or hours of activity, but what made it possible was the hundreds or thousands of hours of training and prep and the minutes or hours (depending on what we had) of planning.  That is what made the visible stuff possible.

But that's not the half of it.  Everyday someone got up early in the morning, got her kids off to school and went to work in a factory.  She made my armor.  Someone else designed the radios.  Someone else made the batteries.  The motorpool guys took the truck out of circulation every three months to make sure it was lubed and ready to go.

Everyday, everywhere is a constant mill of people doing the right thing.  And it keeps all of us going.  (As an aside, there isn't enough real work left in the world to keep us all meaningfully employed, so there is a certain percentage of that milling, maybe most of it, that is not contributing, but that doesn't meant they realize it.)

So 'special days' where you are supposed to be thoughtful and kind and caring mean exactly what for the other days?  If I give K a present on Xmas; present and a dinner on anniversary and Valentine's Day...are we done?  Hell no, and we all know that at some level.  Being kind, taking care of others-- that's an every day thing.  Or it should be.

(And, personal rant, speaking as an introvert being nice spontaneously is natural and easy.  Being nice on a holiday schedule I find exhausting.)

The guys who take away our garbage every week have saved more lives than every policeman and paramedic combined ever.  So did the people who designed the sewer systems in any major city.  Good deeds.  Heroically good deeds.  And done every day.  People who are nice every day make the world better every day.  Not just on Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Stop whining. Few peoplehave the love of hundreds of people around the world. Embrace Nothing and everyday will be XMAS.

Josh Kruschke said...

Keep death in mind.

Live and love as if there will be no tommorrow.

Do the things today that you might never get the chance to on the morrow. For life is a fickle bitch.

Life's leasons that we never seem to learn.

Lee Lavi said...

This is grinchin'? This is beautiful.

hessian1 said...

Gotta disagree on this one, at least partly disagree. You are right about always being kind and thoughtful day in and day as it should be, but holidays are supposed to be about paying attention to this.
It's like doing a daily task in training, you do it regularly, but every once in a while you need to pay attention to the details so you continue to get it right.

Mark H

Travis said...

All the same, Merry Yesterday.

Kai Jones said...

Ritual is important, it binds us in time and in community. You surely have your own rituals. I don't observe Christmas (not being Christian) but I admire it when people use it to bring families together to remember happy times and enjoy each other in a spirit of gratitude, giving, and lovingkindness.

Rob Lyman said...

Holidays are the days we stop to recognize the milling and give thanks for it.

We do good works every day, and others in turn do good works for us every day. So once in a while we all stop and show our appreciation for that stuff we don't think about enough.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

I treat it somewhat like Remberance Sunday (veterans day)I think about them often, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a day when I pay extra attention. Even if that only helps me to pay attention all the other times.

Unknown said...

Great post ...actually stealing a quote from you again !!!!

Keep it up brother ....

Wayne said...

"we all know that at some level. Being kind, taking care of others-- that's an every day thing. Or it should be."

It should be, and it seems I see more and more failure around this area all the time.

I taught my son son to say please. thank you, and you're welcome as part of basic manners. When he was in grade school he came home with a note one day from the lunch lady commenting on how he always did this when in the lunch line. My thought was this is so special it stands out? It should be the kid that doens't say these things should be getting a note. The kicker is my son was enrolled in a private Catholic school at this time.

While I am ranting... Driving home from Oregon toay i stopped to get a cup of coffee and some gas. Waiting in the line with about 6 other people someone else decided they needed to go ahead of every and cut in front of everyone to purchas esome winshield cleaning fluid. I couldn't resist and said "You're welcome for cutting in front of everyone else". Just got a side glance from him. I was kind of surprised the lady running the register didn't say anythign, but oh well.

Off the rant box

Anonymous said...

I have seen happy Christmases and painful ones. The most painful Christmas I ever lived through involved the death of two family members. I cried all the way through it. Family was quiet and respectful. There is no prescribed obligation to be happy at Christmastime. There are years that it is full of heartbreak. Christmas is a time of reflection, listening, spending time with family because you may not always have them. Close your ears to the sirens of the advertising world and throw all those slick store ads in the recycle bin.

Rory, that is grinchy nonsense about garbage men saving more lives than policemen and paramedics. Thank you to all the police officers and paramedics that make our communities so much safer. Your presence counts, especially during the holidays.

Wayne said...

"Rory, that is grinchy nonsense about garbage men saving more lives than policemen and paramedics."

It would be a hard number to qualify, but looking back through history and seeing how changes in sanitation have saved people (safer drinking water, cut down of the spread of disease). As an example:


Travis said...

To pile on.... The statements that 'garbage men save more lives then police and paramedics' and 'Police/paramedics make our communities safer' are not mutually exclusive. The point (I'm pretty sure) isn't "those guys (police, etc) dont matter but rather that there are people who's contribution is largely unrecognized and not glamourous (we are never going to see the movie where Bruce Willis and Arnold Scharwzneger save a city from plague by picking up trash everyday) but make a huge impact.

As for the truth of it, when's the last time you've heard of plague sweeping through a city?

Anyway, piling on might seem a little harsh but it's not intended to be- sure honor and respect the police, paramedics, firefighters and all they do but also be thankful for the system we have that keeps us, for the most part, clean and healthy.

Josh Kruschke said...


Not really.





Josh Kruschke said...


Estamated deaths @ 12million world wided 2002.

"A study undertaken by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development estimated that there were approximately 490,000 intentional homicides in 2004. The study estimated that the global rate was 7.6 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants for 2004.[5]"

Pulled from:

Source sited:

If data is taken as accurate & consistent between 2002 & 2004, plus rounding up the homocide to 500,000, that is a 24/1 ratio of sanitation to homicide death.

That's not factoring in possible non-victimes, saved or rescued. I would need to do more digging if anyone even tries to collect that data.


Josh Kruschke said...

Half a sleep trying to compare apples and oranges.



Travis said...

Josh- the flaw with your analysis is twofold.

1) you are comparing data from the last ten years to try and contrast a statement that refers to a wide swath of history so it isn't truly representative.

2) You are looking at the numbers of DEAD while the argument (such as it is) concerns the numbers SAVED. While yes, disease still kills a lot of people that doesn't establish that is didn't 'use to kill a lot more'

(For comparisons sake the Black Death killed an estimated 200 million in a 2 year period; The Russian plague epidemic of 1770–1772, also known as the Plague of 1771, was the last massive outbreak of plague in central Russia, claiming between 52 and 100 thousand lives in Moscow alone (1/6 to 1/3 of its population))

Josh Kruschke said...

Travis -

I know, hence the apples an oranges comment, plus you can't prove a negative. How much crime is deterred by me just walking arround the property where I work in my security guard uniform.

The original Rory quote, "The guys who take away our garbage every week have saved more lives than every policeman and paramedic combined ever."

To me what we are try to compare is those that die from desease & those that die from violence, and our efforts to midigate those deaths.

I was trying to show that on average for any given year, that those dying to violence do so in far less numbers than of those that die from desease, just as a matter of scale. Violence is just a very small part of what you could die from.

Police & Paramedics show up after the fact & sanitation workers are a preventive measure.

So, I guess it boils down to how we define 'saved'?

Apples & Oranges.

Think out loud.

Wayne said...


I won't argue about the number of deaths due to such diseases as I agree with the numbers. Sanitation/safer drinking water in poorer/developing countries would save many people from death. Since we are talking the number of deaths prevented it does get tougher to come up with a number.

As you stated, proactive tends to be better then reactive. having clean water prevents many deaths just as having the police out and about in the community prevents many crimes.

Anonymous said...

Police can be there before anything happens. They are also preventative. They patrol our malls, our schools, our groceries, our roadways, etc. They do it 24/7when most of us are catching up on our beauty sleep. They not only prevent armed violence, they prevent death from natural causes, such as childbirth, and vehicle accidents.

Anonymous said...


it's a comic strip - you might like this one