Thursday, September 4, 2014

advice from joan rivers (rip sept 4, 2014)

joan rivers died today.  i read this article and the below quote stuck out like a spotlight in the night sky.

If there is a secret to being a comedian, it’s just loving what you do. It is my drug of choice. I don’t need real drugs. I don’t need liquor. It’s the joy that I get performing. That is my rush. I get it nowhere else.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

1984 by george orwell

my wife and i read 1984 while we were driving on our vacation.  it was a really fascinating book, albeit sad and disheartening (the end of it anyway).

i simply don't have much to say about it.  more than anything else, reading the book together provided us an opportunity to discuss real-world events going on that indicate we could live in a 1984-like society someday.

we talked about real-life examples of how political and religious leaders will say one thing but in reality they are saying the complete opposite.

the telescreens was prescient; especially in our world today where it is practically de facto known that the NSA spies on every u.s. citizen.  obviously not to the extent of what the telescreens do, but we are not off by far today from something like that happening.

in my opinion, the best dialogue my wife and i had was about how julia and winston viewed their world.  julia simply wanted to enjoy it and really was not motivated to "bring down ingsoc", while winston seemed to have a desire to seek the real truth and rectify the situation.  it is true, a lot of people would gladly remain blind to what governments and some religions to today, while others would attempt to scrounge courage to seek true justice.

anyway - good book, but the dialogue between my wife and i was what i most enjoyed about reading this book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

dad and johnny cash

it must have been the fall of 1993.  i was a senior in high school and the autumn in eastern Oregon was typically lovely.  dad had already been retired by 1993.  he must have been retired for a couple of years after having taught school for over 40 years.  i'm not sure what he was doing; perhaps sitting in his chair reading a book.  but after i got home, i had a quick snack and then sat down at the kitchen table to start on some homework.

for the past few months, i regularly listened to my favorite cassette tape: U2's Zooropa.  the tape was probably on the second side when i put it in to the family stereo system before i started on my homework.  the stereo system belonged to my deceased aunt mar.  it was a nice system with big boxes, a record player, FM and AM radio and a cassette player.  i loved the big silver volume button.  adjusting the volume could always be precise with that smooth knob.

the last song on the tape began to play.  my dad was still sitting there and was listening along with me.  when that deep, distinct johnny cash voice sounded across the speakers, my dad stirred a bit and begin listening more intently.  he was pleasantly pleased that it was johnny cash and commented to me that he loved the man in black.

that was almost 21 years ago.

then last week, my last week of work before my 3-week summer vacation, i listened to Zooropa during my morning and afternoon commutes.  when the wanderer came on, i recalled that autumn afternoon so many years ago.  as i thought of that day, i had the desire to listen to the rest of his songs.  so i did some searching a found a 4 CD discography of his.  i copied it to my smartphone and then while we drove across Texas on 287, i listened to johhny cash.

i loved every song.

i couldn't help but think that my dad listened to these same songs decades ago while he travelled lonely country roads when he was single.

anyway - i'm looking forward to listening to hours and hours of johnny cash - getting to know the lyrics and singing along.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fasting for a Healthier Immune System

Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system

“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back."

"Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat and ketones, but it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. Longo likens the effect to lightening a plane of excess cargo."

"During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

follow-up post on 'bad calls'

so last November, the NBA announced their partnership with SAP to provide big data on player stats using SportsVU to track every move of every player (read full story here).

NASCAR is doing something similar, but they are going further by putting RFID chips on the pit crew people to track every movement.  with cameras, you will get blocked by objects, but with RFID chips, you can see every move.

why can't the NBA and soccer leagues uses RFID chips on athletes, coupled with SportsVU type cameras and then simply fire every referee?  bad-calls be gone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

technological solution to bad calls in professional games

we've all seen it - the referee blows a call; doesn't see a foul or calls the wrong foul; or any other number of scenarios.

the solution i propose probably would not eliminate 100% of bad calls, but at least it would give referees more data.

why not have every player wear 5 or so sensors on their bodies: wrists, ankles, neck.  maybe there are other spots to place the sensors.  these sensors can then detect fouls and where feet are placed, etc.

not only would this help with refereeing the game, but analysts and coaches could collect massive amounts of data - especially for more dynamic sports such as soccer and basketball and even hockey.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

WEP 2014 4.18-20

good weekend.

the two older kids were out with their friends on campouts and parties friday night.  so my wife and i got to hang out with the two little ones.  it was fun.

on saturday, i cleaned the pool filters (psi was up above 25 - it should be just below 20).  then i trimmed and mowed the lawn, dead-headed my roses and then went on a 6 mile run/walk.  my younger son came along with me (on his bike).  it was nice talking to him.  we stopped several times and enjoyed the nice weather.

my wife spent all her time this past week and weekend cooking easter rolls and then delivering them.  my daughter is trying to earn money to go on a band trip to hawaii next year, so this was to help her.

after she completed her deliveries and after my run/walk, we cleaned up and then ate dinner at jason's deli.  then we went home and relaxed and put the kids to bed.

sunday was easter - went to church, enjoyed the services, then came home and relaxed.  the kids did a little treasure hunt as well as easter egg hunt.  we played scattergories, then ate a ham dinner.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

my dream replacement for my old laptop

i got to dreaming this weekend.

i'd love to get rid of my laptop set-up with two 19-inch dell monitors.

in it's place, i'd love to get a surface pro 2 ($1000) and a 27-inch samsung monitor ($273).

it might be a few years, though, before this happens.

Friday, April 18, 2014

WIR 2014 4.14-18

Super busy week - full of meetings during the day as well as meetings at night.  The highlights are below.

health
worse than the week before.  only did monday, tuesday, wednesday and saturday.  i'm about 7 hours or 11 miles behind my goal.  if i run two miles every night this week, along with the usual four miles in the morning, i should be able to make up the 7 hours.  thankfully, the weather is nice this week.

leadership development
the big item was getting out the questionnaire survey to my co-workers.  unfortunately, out of the five people i sent it to, only two have responded.  the goal is to get the book read over the next month to two months.

work efficiencies
the biggest work task i have going on now is this little proposal of mine to save the company about $500K.  i've talked to one other manager about this, as it impacts her group as well.  she confided in me that she had similar thoughts as i had described, so this validated what i've been thinking.  i then gave my manager an update on this initiative and have set up a meeting for the first week of may to fully discuss this.  she has a follow-up with another supervisor, before meeting, to ensure we are all on the same page.

air conditioning unit
we're going to get the upstairs system a new set of coils as the old ones have rusted quite a bit.  the company wanted us to replace the whole system, but that would have ran us about $10K.  instead, i opted to go with the simple coil replacement which is about $3K.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

WEP 2014 4.11-13

carnival fund-raiser
our kids' school had their carnival fund-raiser on Friday night.  The weather was really quite perfect - cool, with a slight breeze.  The kids had tons of fun doing the jumphouse, face-painting, trampolines, playing in giant hamster balls in a pool, auctions, food and candy.

paddle boats and trains
on Saturday, we got to go on walks, do some yard work, eat donuts and then we cleaned up.  After that, we drove to the city park and rented some paddle-boats and let the kids have a bit of fun.  Then we went on a little train ride around the park.

it was lots of fun for the family and quite memorable.

after that, we tried a new burger place - the food was actually really good, but the price was way too much.

after we drove home, we relaxed and enjoyed the evening.

our son B was able to go to an NBA basketball game with his friends and he had quite a bit of fun.

good bye to friends
Sunday was church and meetings and dinner with friends.  Our good friends are moving, so we ate one final dinner with them and played games and had a fun time.

One of the games our two families like to play is the sofa game.  Everyone puts their name on a paper and then we draw names.  If you draw your name, you have to re-draw.  You then "become the person" whose name you drew.  Then you sit boy-girl-boy-girl.  You leave one extra space.  The person to the right of the empty place calls a name.  The person who has that then then sits in the empty spot; they also create the next empty spot.  The goal is to get 4 in a row (or however many you decide depending on how many people are playing the game).

the office
often, when we try to wind-down for the day, we've been watching The Office all over again.  We only watched the episodes once or twice when they were on TV.  So, it's been fun watching them again on Netflix.  We are in the Robert California season.

Friday, April 11, 2014

WIR 2014 4.7-11

pretty normal week - not much exciting happened.

air conditioning units
I guess the biggest item this past week was the visit from the A/C techs.  They told me exactly what I knew they were going to tell me - that I need a new system; that the Freon we have now is out-lawed and that it will cost $100/lb as if we need to add more.  The upstairs system is really in need of replacement - there is a major leak in the coils.  so next week, I'm expecting another visit to discuss options and how much it will cost.  the home repairs never end.

health
it was an ok week.  I did some exercising, but we had a couple of weak cold fronts move in and it made it difficult to get up an exercise.  But we did it anyway.  I just didn't get in some extra evening miles (2-mile runs).

work / leadership development
My old boss invited me to lunch on Tuesday.  We were both really busy, so we only had time for a quick bite at the local cafeteria.  We talked a lot about future assignments for me.  I explained to him where I see myself going and what types of assignments I need to get there and he was able to give me some good advice about what I need to do.

Then he asked me if I wanted to go down the technical / professional track or the management track.  I told him I'm focusing on the management track.  Then he asked me how I'm doing on developing my leadership skills.  I honestly have not thought about this much.  I've done tons of leadership training, but then never was in a position to really use it, so I've kind of abandoned the whole leadership mindset for the last 5 years.  So, he suggested I start focusing on developing my leadership skills (not my management skills).  He suggested I begin by reading The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  After lunch, I found some on-line presentations about the book and read through those.  I then decided to go ahead and order the book.  There seems to be a lot of interesting content and ideas in the book.  I may be blogging more about learning leadership and developing my own leadership skills; so stay tuned.

That is about all for the week's highlights.  The weekend should be nice and enjoyable.

Monday, April 7, 2014

WEP 2014 4.4-6

Gorgeous weekend!  I did lots of yard work in the morning.  I took my boys to Lowes - we got lots of good for the yard.  Then we laid rock in the back yard.

After that, we went to my son's E soccer game.  He won 5-1.  Then we went to Jason's Deli and ate.

I didn't order the Reuben; rather I ordered the Smokey Jack Panini - it was really good!

The rest of the day was relaxing, watching some NCAA basketball and spent time with the family.

Sunday was really relaxing too.  We went on a walk; got rained on a bit and then spent the rest of the day inside watching TV.

Friday, April 4, 2014

WIR 2014 3.31-4.4

Work
It was a great week - the highlight was my one-on-one with my boss.  I had this idea to save our company some money - to make it more efficient.  The idea had been floating in my head the last few days and by the time Thursday rolled around, I still didn't have it solidified.  So I go into the one-on-one, I report out on the main things going on.  Then I just jumped feet-first into the suggestion.  I told my boss that the idea wasn't fully baked, but I knew they were looking for efficiencies.  After I dumped the idea, my boss reacted quite well - they liked it!  They told me to keep working on it; to work with a few other people and that by the time my new assignment rolls around (in June or July), it should be off to a great start.  By my calculations, the savings gained will be around $500K.

Health
Another idea I've had floating around in my head is this motto of 6:1:4.

6 - six miles of walking or running
1 - one meal
4 - four days a week

I kind of did this last week.  It might have been 3 days instead of 4 days.  Anyway - I did a pretty good job.  My weight went from around 217 down to 210 over the course of the week.  So, I'm trying to drill that motto in my mind 6:1:4

NCAA Tournament
I won my family's bracket challenge.  This was the 11th year of our family doing this, and I finally won!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WEP 2014 3.28-30

What a weekend.  My wife and two of my kids got up Saturday morning to go to a fun run.  While they were there, our dog, which was on a leash, was attacked by a dog not on a leash.  I'm not going to go into all the details, but the owners are idiots.  Our dog got 12 stitches - poor thing.

Then today, I took him on a walk in the late afternoon.  We came to a street and we saw this medium sized dog in someone's drive way.  It was not on a leash.  It came running towards us.  I told me son to get me a big stick.  Once he gave the stick to me, the dog backed off a bit, but was barking madly.  The owner finally game out to get the dog.  I yelled over to her that our dog was attacked and bit just the day before.  She acted all shocked.

Then tonight, I took our dog out for a little stroll before bed.  As I came back to our home, some guests of our neighbors were leaving and they had two dogs.  One of them came running out towards me and my dog!  I had my big flashlight with me and was ready to give the dog a good thumping.  I shone my light into its eyes and it backed off.  The lady said, "he's friendly" and I replied, "nope, you need to get your dog on a leash right now."  She scrambled to get him and finally had to get someone else to get a hold of the dog.  After they got a hold of him, I explained that our dog was attacked the day before by a dog not on a leash.

This is so weird.  It's like our dog has a target on him this weekend.

Other than that, the weekend was gorgeous - I got lots of yard work done; went on walks, runs, bike rides and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

I also spent a lot of time watching the NCAA tourney.  Looks like I'm going to win my family's bracket challenge.

Friday, March 28, 2014

WIR 2014 3.24-28

Not much to report on this past week.

Health
My wife and I got to walk pretty much every day this week.  My son B and I were only able to play basketball once this week; one day was really nice, the other day it rained.  The pine pollen finally got washed away with a nice rain storm.  I ate pretty good this week and tried not to stuff myself.

My new shoes came - they are nice!  My feet and knees feel much better now that I have some cushion under them.

This is the 5th year in a row I've bought Brooks and the 3rd year in a row I've got the trail running version of the shoe (Brooks Adrenaline ASR).

Work
Pretty average week.  The big event was writing the retirement eulogy for my boss.  It was his last day at work today.  So I had to write up some praises for him as well as some "stats" about him.  My new boss was very impressed with the write up.  Today, she delivered the "retirement eulogy" at the end of our big weekly and monthly meetings - it was really good.

News
Still no word on the missing airliner.  The news stations are all over the road guessing what happened.  A big mud slide in Washington killed 10 people.  A huge fire happened in Houston - a video went viral of a construction working barely escaping the flames.  Obama and Pope Francis met this week.

Food
My wife's good friend came over the other day to cook Venezuelan food.  It was really delicious - that was all I ate yesterday.  Tonight, wife and I are going out to dinner - probably Chuy's.

Not much else for now.  The weekend should be relaxing - some yard work, soccer game, NCAA basketball games.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

WEP 2014 3.21-23

The weekend was good.  I spent a lot of time watching NCAA basketball.  Currently, I'm sitting at number 1 in my family bracket.  The biggest game this last weekend was Wichita St. vs Kentucky.  I picked Kentucky and they ended up beating Wichita by two points ... the game went down to the last second.

Our church youth had a big activity this weekend.  I spent most of Saturday hanging out at that - I had to help with the dinner.

My son E had a soccer game - they are the 1st place team in their league and they played the 2nd place team on Saturday and won 7-3.  It was a fun game for them.  It was tied 2-2 at halftime, but then they just turned it on in the 2nd half.

I didn't get a whole lot of reading or chess done this weekend.  So, I'll have to catch up on tactics at lunch time during the week this week; although there are two lunches I need to attend this week.

Friday, March 21, 2014

WIR 2014 3.17-21

So, I'm going to try something new and see how I like it.  It's called Week In Review, in which I talk about the big things that happened this week; the big things I learned and made an impression on me.  I'm also gong to try what I'll call Weekend Postmortem; same thing as the WIR, only it'll cover the weekend.  The WIRs will be on Fridays and the WPs will be either Sunday night or Monday morning.

Tech
I recently posted about my new VPN.  So, last Saturday, my internet went down hard again.  After a few reboots, it seemed all back in order, but by Sunday night, I was only getting 0.1 or 0.2 download speeds.  The technician was going to come out on Monday, but then my speeds returned to normal.  On Tuesday, they were back to a trickle.  Finally the technician came out on Wednesday and found the modem was broken.  It was an old 2.0 protocol modem; he replaced it with a 3.0 protocol modem which could handle 50mbps as opposed to 15mbps.  After it was up and running, I tested speeds again and I have consistenly been getting 30+ speeds.  Today I was able to download several files quite fast :-)

News
The big news lately has been the missing 777 airliner which left Kuala Lumpur on March 7 and never arrived at Bejing.  They have still have not found the plane nor any debris.  The story is truly odd.

Work
I got recognized at work 3 times this week - by three different managers!  One of them sent me a thank you note with a $25 Amazon gift card.  The other two "sung my praises" in various meetings I had.  I feel really on top of things right now at work - and I'm busier than ever.

Shopping
Along with that $25 gift card, I had another $30 in Amazon gift cards sitting around.  I finally decided what I was going to use them on - a new pair of running shoes.  I have bought my Brooks running shoes directly from the brooksrunning.com site the last 4 years or so.  I learned this week that Brooks also sells their shoes on Amazon.  So I was able to knock off $55 from my new shoes.  I'll post sole pictures when they come.  Old Navy had a polo shirt sale this week - I bought two Jersey Polos - my favorite kind of polo.

Health
The weather has finally warmed up this week.  My son B and I have started a new tradition.  Every Tuesday and Thursday we go to the middle school outdoor basketball court and play 3-5 games.  We play by ones and go to 11.  He then practices his one-hand shooting while I go on a short run.  I then finish with 10 pushups.  I have a new secret goal.  I am starting off with doing 10 pushups, twice a day.  Each week I will increase the number of pushups by 1.  In a couple of years, I should be to 100 pushups.  We'll see how it goes.  Also, I'm going on a little 2 mile jog 2-3 times a week (at night); along with my 4 mile walk with my wife in the mornings.

Wednesday Night
I help plan activities for my church youth group.  This Wednesday they did floor ball hockey.  They boys had tons of fun.

March Madness
It started yesterday.  The games are all streamed via the NCAA app.  So my question is: why can't all the stations (local / free) do this?  How hard would it be to stream all the local 2, 5, 8, 11, 13 channels to any device?

Books
Still reading the Immortal Game.  Once I finish, I'll post the book review to rockyrook.blogspot.com

Food
My wife made corned beef and cabbage this week.  My mom used to make that all the time, but this is the first time my wife made it.  I love corned beef.  My favorite sandwich is the Reuben at Jason's Deli.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is my ISP Throttling?

I discovered a fascinating thing this week; I think.

After suspecting my internet traffic was being watched, especially after reading the headlines the past nine months, I decided to finally pay for a VPN.

Over the last several weeks and months, my internet connection just seemed so slow.  I used www.speedtest.net to occasionally test my connection.  Sometimes my download rate was slower than my upload rate!  Often, I would reboot the internet modem, my wi-fi router and even computer to see if that would fix the problem.  I'd say about 75% of the time that worked.  But one time nothing I did fixed the slow-down.

After a few days of no Netflix and slow web-site loading, I called my ISP.  From their end, "everything looked fine."  I ended up powering down everything and then bringing things on-line; first the modem, then the wi-fi router, then the laptop.  It fixed it, but I was still only getting around 3 to 4 mbps.  I'm paying for 15mbps.

For a few months I had been meaning to get Astrill VPN, but after doing some additional research, I decided to go with Private Internet Access.

I set it up this week.  After ensuring I was satisfied with the setup, I decided to do some speed tests.

I had normally been getting around 3-10 mbps on average days and up to 15 on the best of days.  After setting up the VPN, my first test came in at 28.41 down!  I was shocked.  I ran several other tests and have been running them off and on.  I've yet to get under 28 mbps when my VPN is connected.

Then I ran another test and it was slow again ... but I discovered my VPN had disconnected.  I re-connected and ran another test: 28.7 mbps down.

Now the rest of the story ... the last few times I called my ISP, just before ending the call, they would ask me if I wanted to upgrade to 30 mbps for an extra $10.  I think they are throttling my connection when I'm passing un-encrypted data (i.e. no VPN).

After a little googling I found this interesting article which totally confirms it now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

overcoming bad habits; creating good habits

in the vein of scott adams, i've been trying to implement a system as opposed to setting goals.  my system, at least how i envision it, is to identify things i enjoy that are beneficial to me.  when it comes to exercise, i've been trying to find the best exerciese that 1) i enjoy and 2) is sustainable.

after a few years of experimenting, i've landed on walking 4 miles a day.  i loved running, but found the injuries weren't enjoyable.  i loved basketball, but finding access to a gym and a decent group of players was tough.  spinning on a bike was not really sustainable nor did i particularly enjoy it.  walking, however, is really enjoyable and sustainable.  i see myself walking 4 miles a day well into my senior years.

eating - i've come to the conclusion that i simply need to eat less and arm myself with the right information about which foods are good for my brain and body and which leave me feeling full and satiated.

however, i don't see any reason why i can't implement and improve a system and at the same time strengthen my willpower or impulse control.  i read a couple of other blog posts today and yesterday which hit on this.

steve sailor was commentating on a new york post column about amy chua's new theory on cultural groups and why they are successful.  one of the tri-fectas she talks about is impulse control - calling it a hallmark of self-help.  impulse control is "the ability to delay instant gratification in the service of a greater goal."  This is how steve sailor defined it.  but in the article, describes impulse control as "the ability to resist temptation, especially the temptation to give up in the face of hardship or quit instead of persevering at a difficult task."

i think having a system and impulse control significantly increases anyone's chance for success and happiness in life.

and today, i read another great blog post on building that impulse control muscle and how to accomplish it.  this idea isn't anything new from leo babauta, but this post really caught my attention because that is how i see my impulses.  in his post "the child that holds us back" he talks about how he overcame habits and how hard it was - until he stopped listening to the 5-6 year-old child voice in him.  he describes how all of us have that same child-voice in us saying all the things that will get us to give-up or give in to temptations.

the trick is to "notice that this 5-year-old child is telling you what to do.  but don't listen.  don't obey.  don't believe its rationalizations."  in other posts, he describes a trick about simply acknowledging the urge - you "watch it", you can breathe deeply, walk around a bit and then the urge will go away.  it's all about being more mindful and giving yourself a chance to strengthen your impulse control.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

the savior generals: david petraeus

reading the david petraeus chapter was really fascinating in that i was following the events in march 2003 and after.  i watched the news and read the news sites and all that came along with it.  the politics surrounding the iraq war was astounding.  as a nation and congress, we were unified to go into iraq and remove hussein.  the "shock and awe" was amazing.  then came the "mission accomplished" stunt.  then the wheels came off.

we were not ready for what came next - the casualties spiked and we did not know how to handle the situation.  the democrats who were for the war, were now against the war.  bush was trying all he could to stabilize the situation, but no general could do it.

many different strategies were tried, but none were effective.  the only successful area in iraq was in the north under the command of petraeus.  he was "perfect" for the assignment is almost every conceivable way.  as vdh put it, "whether consciously or not, david patraeus for two decades had been preparing himself neither for conventional warfare nor for counterterrorist special operations - nor even for classic jungle or rural insurgency.  instead, he had prepped for large-scale postbellum occupation and reconstruction in highly urbanized, extremely hostile populations - exactly what iraq would be like in 2003" (p. 224).

his plan was to oversee "the reestablishment of everything from the urban university to the city council.  petraeus disbursed millions of dollars to more than four thousand projects ('money is ammunition') - often without the oversight of paul bremer, the head of the coalition provisional authority, who had been monitoring civil affairs for the year after may 2003" (p. 225).

once put in charge of the whole theater, he implemented his plan throughout the entire country - and it worked.  he gained the confidence of the people and they were able to see his vision which enabled them to fight long enough to stabilize iraq.  the plan was initiated in 2007; and by december 2011, when all american troops had withdrawn, not one u.s. solider had died.

there is a lot more to petraeus' plan than his two-decade preparation and schooling.  there had to be a way for the plan to make it to the president's desk so that it could be approved.  again, this is where petraeus seemingly shines.  vdh describes petreaus as excellent in every imaginable assignment; unmatched intelligence and academic preparation; and ambition.  petreaus developed "strong personal friendships with high-ranking officers, all the while showcasing his organizational and intellectual skills at the company, battalion and brigade level" (p. 222-223).  his "rivals" discounted his abilities because of his well-connectedness.  but this well-connectedness is what allowed the plan to reach the right ears.

the legend of petraeus grows when you read about his two near-death experiences - surviving an accidental bullet to the chest as well as surviving a parachute landing when the parachute did not open.

the petreaus chapter reminded me a lot of themistocles and belisarius.  all three of them were dynamic and had qualities that only they possessed which allowed them to "save" a war for their leaders.  without them, the wars would have been lost.

as a post-script, it's been two years since the troop withdrawals from iraq.  up until very recently, the peace in iraq has been good.  however, a quick search produces the following headlines:
- iraq suffers worst year of violence since 2008
- iraq sees highest annual death toll in years

no doubt the situation would be far worse had it not been for petraeus, but it is appearing the violence is now creeping back in barely two years after the u.s. withdrew.