Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Another update on 1st Sgt Brad Kasal

***UPDATE*** Today 1st Sgt Kasal met with his Doctor at Balboa and they discussed many options. The 1st Sgt has had the External Fixator Devise on his leg for 7 months. His bone needs at least 2 more months of "support", which the devise provides. The best option seems to be replacing the devise with a "plate" which would be inserted along the bone from just below the knee to just above the ankle, not interfering with the mobility of either joint. It is entirely possible that this could take place within 2 weeks.

Continue to pray for Brad as he considers the options and makes the difficult decisions.

Many of you readers seem to have some idea of the sense of humility which surrounds the 1st Sgt's devotion to the Corps and to his marines. He genuinely believes that the true "heros" of that day last November were the two young marines that pulled him from that building. For months 1st Sgt Kasal did not even know who they were, but he did meet them recently and expressed his deep gratitude to them. I asked Brad if they told him how frightened they were in that building. He said "they told me that they were so pumped (adrenaline I'm sure) that they never really gave it a thought". Brad went on to say "I was the one who was afraid for them, because I knew what was in that building, and how the enemy had a good line of sight on the room, and what they had to get through to get to me". These two young grunt marines impressed the 1st Sgt in a way they may never know.

While we were at the hospital, there was a Staff sergeant and a Sgt Major from Miramar waiting in the room. When Kasal's name was called over the loudspeaker I saw their heads turn to look for this larger than life marine. As we walked past them they gave an "Oorah 1st Sar'nt", and later sought him out in the hallway to give support and to meet a legend. I sat quietly as the 1st Sgt chatted with them and gave a few details as to the state of his recuperation. After we all moved on I was thinking how lucky I am to know Brad, but also how I would love to talk with those two young marine heros. They did such an incredibly heroic act that day in November 2004 in that house in the city of Fallujah, saving my friend so he could be at Balboa Hospital today telling his story. Maybe someday I will get to meet them. Their story is indeed worth telling.

You can see photos of the house dubbed "The House from Hell" and "Kasal's House" here. The photos were all taken by Lucian Read/World Picture News.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Update on 1st Sgt Brad Kasal

Yesterday the 1st Sgt was admitted into Balboa Naval Hospital for observation and intervening antibiotics due to "mild" infection in some of his wounds (where the pins go through his leg and attach to the devise). The team of doctors, who all care for the 1st Sgt with the utmost respect and concern, decided to remove many of the larger pins from his leg. This was done for precautionary as well as therapeutic reasons. The fewer pins in his leg the better in terms of possible infection. Also, many of the pins cause a lot of pain and restrict mobility, so removing them gave Brad some instant relief.

Good news after the surgery. Some of the doctors think that he is healing at such a good rate that the devise might be able to be removed in 10 days to 2 weeks. That would be fantastic. Of course Brad's primary doctor is out of the loop right now, as the Corps has him up at Camp Pendelton for a week of "exercises", so Brad will consult with him late next week and the final decision will be made on what comes next and when.

Continue to pray that Brad will have no infections, and his spirits will remain high. He's been cooped up for nearly 8 months now. Knowing the type of person Brad is, that is probably more painful than the injury itself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Where are the results for Terri Schiavo's autopsy?


The autopsy report was released this morning, and is inconclusive in may respects, but not in the one I was most interested in. Terri Schiavo's brain was roughly half the size it should have been. To me this puts to rest the idea that she may have gotten better with therapy and proper medical treatment. How much of the brain damage was due to 15 years of neglect and how much was due to the lose of blood during her colapse is unclear. But, I am not much on conspiracy theories and take the medical examiner at this word.

I am often stunned by what the left passes off as "facts" about conservative Christians. The latest example of this comes in the form of commentary by a "Christian" reverend named Dr. N. Graham Standish, the pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelianople (does anyone know where that is?). You can read the e-mail I sent the Dr. below this post. The Dr. ignores 9th commandment..........."You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" and makes many politically correct accusations against conservative Christians without any facts to back his claims. The one that hits me the hardest is his claim that in the case of Terri Schiavo we (for I am a conservative Christian) " used her to reframe the issue of euthanasia by reducing it to a portrayal of a virtuous family trying to keep a disabled (they refused to call her comatose) woman alive, while her evil husband tried to kill her." Perhaps the good reverend should have found a quote or two to back his claim, for I'm sure many outrageous comments were made, but certainly not by any of the persons he names, and not by anyone I know. The conservative Christians (as well as Jews and others) who supported Terri's parents had (still have) legitimate questions as to the facts of the case............questions like "what has her husband done with all the money?", and "why is he in such a hurry to kill her?". We welcomed the idea of an autopsy on Terri's body so we could all have more facts. We have a legitimate point of view. Commentarys like this attempt to box us in as irrelevant and bigoted are disingenuous and themselves bigoted.

So, where are the results of that autopsy anyway? I want to know what the state of Terri Schiavo's brain was when she was put to death. Frankly, if she was in fact in a "persistant vegitative state" and her brain was mush, as the judge saiddeclared it to be, then I will have learned a lot about this case and others like it, and will gladly proclaim that "I was mis-informed". Likewise, if her brain was fine, and she was in need of medical treatment, not death, I would hope that those who wanted her killed would regret their misinformed attitude. Either way, I will still be against starving people to death.

Here is the e-mail I sent to Dr. Standish

Reverend Standish

It was with great interest I read your commentary on the divisions your percieve in our nation. After reading it all I could think of was the bible passage Luke 18:10-14, and how the Pharisee so proudly proclaimed his righteousness and the tax collector's sinfulness. Phrases like......."As a seminary student in the 1980s", "Apparently I wasn't much of a Christian back then" (a smug way of saying that you've always been the right kind of Christian), "I left the Republican Party in 1992 and registered as an independent precisely because I sensed the Republican Party slipping away from the Christianity to which I had committed my life", "I believe that those of us who are Christian ", all proclaim the superiority of the writer over those who........"suggest that the only political option for Christians is to be Republican.", "Republican-sanctioned, Lee Atwater-orchestrated style of politics in which politicians attack, denigrate, eviscerate and even falsely accuse each other. "

It's odd that you would use the term "falsely accuse each other" then go on to falsely accuse so many people. Apparently your brand of Christianity forgets the commandment to "Not bear false witness". You claim that some Christian Republicans "have an agenda to make the United States a so-called "Christian" nation", but none of those you accuse are guilty of the things you accuse them of. You simply throw out the polictically correct notions without fact and let it lay. That is a textbook example of bering false witness.

This "we're saved, you're not; we're right, you're wrong; we conservatives are right and virtuous, you liberals are wrong and sinful." is a figment of your imagination.

As a conservative Christian Republican, I neither make such claims, not belive such, nor does anyone I know (and I read all of those you name by name). What we do believe is that classic Judeo-Christian values are the best values, and we promote them as such. Values such as life for the innocent, the death penalty for the vilest of murderers, marriage between one man and one woman, anti-suicide, anti-euthanasia, anti-abortion, pro-family, pro-hard work, pro-charity, pro-classic education (as opposed to the politically correct education public schools not present), pro-school choice are what we stand for, and what we believe we want our government to reflect.

As a Christian do you believe it's wrong to speak out for such values?

You condemn us for speaking out for the family of Terri Schiavo, who only wanted to take care of her and allow modern medicine to work in her favor. You say that we "refused to call her comatose" (not even the doctors involved called her comatose..........you obviously don't know much about the case) and "reduced the larger issue of euthanasia to a simple equation" when in truth we were the ones claiming that the situation was far more complex than her husband and the courts were portraying it to be.

I sit here and wonder what you would say if Terri Schiavo's autopsy showed her to have a normal brain. Would you then say her husband and the courts were wrong? Would you say you are wrong in vilifying we who wanted mercy for her and her family?

Mercy seems to be fully lacking in your worldview. Without mercy there is not Christianity. You might want to try some the next time you stand proclaiming your righteousness and our sinfulness. We already know ours, which is why we cried out to the Lord in the first place.

Sincerely (and with a broken heart at your misguided attack on us)
Geoff Milke

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Baja 500....Listen to the Weatherman

Many of you who read this blog might not know what the "Baja 500" is. Hopefully after reading a paragraph or two you will know, and understand why I spent the past Saturday (6-4-05) in front of my computer listening to the "Weatherman"

Off road racing may not be much of a spectator sport, but for those of us who are off-road racing fans the Baja 500 is one of two "must see" events. Because the race is run the 1st weekend of June every year, right after Memorial Day, Baja California is as perfect as a postcard. A simple drive through the hills or along the coast inspires a relaxing mindset, and kindles the desire for adventure. Though the race is often not a full 500 miles (this year it was only 419) to the racers it feels like 1,000 miles. In fact, many racers will say the 500 is much harder than the 1,000, the other "must see" event, which is held in the middle of November. Spectators gather in farm fields, on beaches, in pine forests, at natural "danger" points and man made booby-traps, and everywhere the course is near paved roads. The fact is, that in Mexico, every dirt trail is a road used by someone to get somewhere, a fact that adds to the "legend" of the Baja. Some day I will blog on some of the stories racers tell (like the time Mark McMillin had a man "appear" directly in front of him in the road, then disappear just as immediately, dropping into a "baja" sized pothole.........like some sick game of chicken with the exhausted drivers..... as Mark drove over him at 80 mph), but not today. Today I just want to give readers a feel for what motivates an avid off-road fan to spend the day sitting at the computer.

I've been involved with off-road racing since 1985, the year Mark McMillin (many time champion of both the Baja 500 and Baja 100.................and my employer at the time) asked me to "Pit" for him at Quatro Casas, my favorite northern baja surf spot. "Pitting" involves helping the racers in any way they may need, from "dumping" fuel and changing tires, to providing food and water. That year I just watched as Mark (and Mark's father Corky) raced past me, giving a short "honk" as they went by to acknowledge their thanks that I was there for them. I was hooked and became the McMillin's family designated beach pit person (after a few years I became their dedicated "out to the wilderness" pit person.

Every baja racer uses an FM radio to communicate with their team members and various other persons connected with the race. Like a thousand exicted truckers on high power CB radios, they chatter on the radios day and night. Bob Steinberger, AKA "the Weatherman" is the grand daddy of all off road racing radio people. Bob has a business (PCI) that sells radios and racing safety equipment. PCI specializes in radio/intercom setups that help racers communicate with each other as well as the world outside their racecar. These days Bob's son, Scott, does most of the selling (when he's not racing in the #7 Trophy Truck), and I'm not sure what Bob really does at the family business. But when it comes to the Baja races Bob is all "Weatherman", and his job is clear as a crystal; he controls the race radio traffic from atop the 10,000 ft. high Picacho del Diablo (devil mountain). Every year, race after race, Bob sets up a high tech communication center atop the mountain that is also home to a world class space observatory.

Racers and fans tune into "the Weatherman" channel and listen to the latest events of the race. The air is full of chatter, from lost racers, to frightened racers wives, as well as local Mexican pranksters and real long haul truckers (who accidently tune to the weatherman channel). Because Weatherman is on top of the highest mountain in Baja, his signal can be heard from almost anywhere on the course. Contrary to that fact, most of the people who call the Weatherman are down in some valley and can only be heard by those within "eyeshot" of them. This year an internet entrepreneur, known affectionately as "Klaus", set up on Devil Mountain with Weatherman, and fed all radio traffic into his computer creating a live internet stream, making Weatherman accessible to all of us who had to stay home. It was sooooooooooooooo cool. Not only could we hear the familiar and comforting voice of Weatherman, we could hear every call to him. You can't imagine what that did to my Saturday.

I intended to build a rock wall in the back yard, so I got an early (8:00 am is early for me on Saturday) start outside. At about 9:15 (the 4 wheel vehicles start the race at 9:00, with one car starting every 30 seconds) I came in for a cup of coffee, and to check the internet to see if there were any posts about the race. I checked race-dezert.com (Klaus' website) and to my amazement, there was a post that said "Weatherman Live Streaming Broadcast). I did a quick "copy and paste" to Real Media Player and there was Weatherman...........tears came to my eyes..............I was at home, and at the Baja 500.

Not much else happened that day. My wife, who had encouraged me to go to the 500, was quite annoyed with me sitting at the computer listening to the scratchy sound of strange voices, so I attempted to accomplish a chore or two. One would think I would have quit listening around 6:00 pm when Robby Gordon crossed the finish line as the Overall 4 Wheel champion, but no. There were still 250 or more vehicles out there, including the young Andy McMillin, who chased Robby all day long and finished 2nd overall, and my brother George, who was to drive in his first off road race in the 502 car (a baja bug), and all my friends in Class 7, who I wished I was competing with.

I listened until about 10:00 pm, and went to bed. Sunday morning I checked in and found that many people had listened all night long. The Weatherman was still on the air helping the lost and the straggling find their crews and safe passage home.

I don't know if modern technology is always a good thing, but this past Saturday I was thanking God for the good thing I found in the Weatherman, Klaus, and the Baja 500.