Sunday, May 24, 2009

I am a Soldier

I am a soldier.

Long ago, I raised my right hand and swore to protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me.

Nothing has released me from my oath even though it's over a quarter century since I last wore a uniform. Nothing ever will. For better or for worse, I am a soldier.

Long ago, I fought the battles of this nation in a war that had even then been declared lost, and a terrible waste. I went where my country sent me. There, to the best of my ability, I strove for victory in places called Tan Canh, Firebase Charlie, Ben Het, Kontum, and Polei Kleng.

I am a soldier.

I have risked everything for my friends and for people I never knew and probably never will. They would all have done the same for me. Most would do the same again today. We are, and remain, a band of brothers.

I am a soldier.

With my brothers, I share a heritage that begins in the earliest mists of the human experience and will continue until the last trumpet sounds, a heritage of personal sacrifice and desperate deeds done by desperate men in the face of great adversity.

At the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln stated "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. But it can never forget what they did here." And, like the soldiers of the 1860s, we dared and accomplished much.

I came home on a stretcher to a country indifferent to my sacrifice and that of my brothers. By the grace of God, I recovered. Tim died at a place called Ben Het thirty days after he arrived in country. Fred died in the Kontum Pass and now sleeps in Arlington. Dusty sleeps in the land he died fighting for, the site of his resting place undiscovered until recently. Bill spent nine months in captivity. Flame took a .50 through the chest and went on to serve until retirement.

Ultimately, we all took off our uniforms and assumed our places in civilian society, but we remain different.

We are soldiers.

Remember us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Power of One

In my quest for the best system for Getting Things Done and simplifying my life and work, I have been slammed by a Homer Simpson moment. Of just about anything I might use, I only need ONE! I only need ONE -- I only need ONE inbox; I only need ONE calendar; I only need ONE actions list; I only need ONE projects list; I only need ONE note pad; and I only need ONE system for organizing my "stuff". All else is clutter and confusion. I will make it a habit to identify and get rid of anything excess. I have been so into investigating and finding the right ONE and the best ONE, that I've been flitting between two, three, or MORE things at a time. What a pain. So, I am now establishing ONE of each of those things on paper and down selecting to ONE of each on line. I am also establishing a rule to only use ONE thing at a time. If a new ONE thing beckons, I will cease using the OLD ONE as I evaluate the NEW ONE. I will evaluate and learn to use each new ONE for at least 30 days before deciding whether to keep it (and make it THE ONE) or discard it (and go back to the OLD ONE), or to create a NEW hybrid using the best of the OLD ONE and the NEW ONE. Whatever I'm using, I will only need to remember to update ONE thing at any ONE time. I've already decided that my ONE paper calendar and daily record of events is the ONE contained in my small Day Timer. I still need to select ONE electronic calendar -- either OUTLOOK used where I work, or GCal, available from anywhere on the web. I'm not a fan of electronic to-do lists, so my ONE Actions List is a card in my Hipster, as is my ONE Projects List. This may change, but so far, it's not broken, so why fix it? So, no more Master/Slave lists. No more 8 1/2 x 11 inch lists and no more half-size yellow pad lists. Only ONE. I will make an exception to the ONE notepad rule. Although I will continue take most of my notes on index cards (Hipster), I will probably keep one or two white or yellow pads for doodling, noodling, and capturing stuff at hand on my desk. The ONE system for organizing my stuff is currently the GTD recommended single alphabetical file, although I may establish a time-based Noguchi system for current actions. Again, any exception to the rule of ONE is not to be taken lightly. So, there you have it. ONE thing to rule them all, ONE thing to find them. ONE thing to bring them all, And in the daylight bind them In the mind of the user, where wisdom lies! With sincere apologies to J. R. R. Tolkien.