Playing the Hero Card

fullsizeoutput_3c9eYesterday was a day for being pigeonholed. As I helped board tram passengers at the air museum, a man pressed this card into my hand and thanked me effusively for my sacrifice. Later, a kid at a drive-thru window gave me the senior discount without my having asked for it.

In both cases, strangers sized me up correctly after one glance. That shouldn’t annoy me, but it did. As I asked my little Facebook friends, am I that obvious? Well, probably the fact that I volunteer at an air museum with hundreds of military aircraft on display makes my being a vet a safe guess … that and my short hair. But until yesterday, if I ever wanted a senior discount I had to ask for it. Are those days really over?

fullsizeoutput_3ca0Here’s the back side of the card, by the way. “Dear American Hero,” indeed. That’s so over the top it makes me squirm.

Pubic displays of support-the-troops sentiment started with Desert Storm, our first big conflict with an all-volunteer military. We’ve all heard stories about hippies spitting on returning Vietnam vets. That never happened, but it is true that the Vietnam War, like the Korean War before it, was unpopular with the American public and those who fought in it didn’t get the level of respect we give troops and vets today. The troops who fought in Vietnam and Korea were draftees. Except for wealthy draft dodgers, they were a fair representation of American society. The troops who fight today are volunteers, and represent just a tiny slice of the population.

According to stats anyone can look up on Google, there are 18.8 million veterans living in the U.S. today. That represents just 7.6 percent of the population. As for those currently serving, the numbers are much smaller: 1.4 million men and women, or half a percent of the population. It’s fair to say that military men, women, and families have become a separate caste within American society. So maybe it really was some kind of big deal for that guy at the museum to meet a veteran. Going by the numbers, I might have been the first one he ever shook hands with!

Look, I’m proud to have served my country. A glance at this blog will show that. But it was also a career choice, and despite a level of personal risk a good one. I didn’t see it as a sacrifice. Uncle Sam paid me to fly jets, and now he gives me a pension, and how many American workers even know what a pension is any more? So lay off the “hero” stuff, will ya?

And if you happen to bump into me in person, please tell me I don’t look anywhere near 72 even if it’s a lie, okay?


These last few days have been all about tech. I bought a new iPad to replace my old second-generation one, and traded in an iPhone 6s for a new XS. But here’s the biggie:

IMG_0038 IMG_0040


Yes, the ten-year-old 21-inch iMac made way for a new 27-incher. The thought of having to migrate applications and data from one to the other filled me with dread, but it turned out to be easy (that’s what’s going on in the left photo). Apple, IMHO, still has it, and I love the way the tablet, phone, and desktop computer work together and share data.

Polly has the old iPad and is busy setting it up to do the things she wants, which is mostly to stream Netflix shows and movies. The old iPhone is getting mailed back for a trade-in allowance on the new one. The old iMac moved over to Donna’s desk.

I’d been planning to upgrade the iPad and iMac for a while, but honestly the new iPhone was more of a since-I’m-here-anyway-let’s-do-it whim. I got it mainly for the camera, which is better than the ones in older iPhones and has new features, including a portrait mode which allows you to adjust the f-stop for depth. Like this:

IMG_0052 Untitled


You know I’m going to have fun with that!


The contractors finished patching and resealing our streets last Friday. The county doesn’t maintain the roads in our subdivision. Instead, we and our neighbors pay into a road repair and maintenance fund. There’s another subdivision two miles north of ours. Same builders, same house plans. They apparently don’t have a homeowners’ association, and it’s the difference between the First and Third Worlds, almost. I’m happy to be part of a neighborhood that takes pride in its appearance.

I went for a motorcycle ride early Saturday morning and was one of the first residents to drive on the new blacktop. I taped the tail end of the ride, from the time I turned off the main road into our neighborhood, to pulling into the garage and parking. Turn your volume down, because I haven’t yet learned how to mute the engine and wind noise on these GoPro videos.

Nice looking streets, eh? All that blacktop soaks up the heat, though, and for the next few months Mister B and I are going to have to take our daily walk at the crack of dawn, when the pavement won’t burn his little feet.

© 2019, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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