My first job

My first job
I graduated from College in June of 1959.  I looked for a job teaching school and was turned down a few times.  one interview I had asked what I would do about the lock step in reading and I had had now idea what the term lock step even meant so...
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Not A Notebook....Exactly

Not A Notebook....Exactly
  On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Not A Notebook, Exactly…But It Does Note Something About The Past   As a way to share news with family and friends, some 25 years ago the Footloose Forester started sending out semi-annual Newsletters to...
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Aroma Therapy and Instant Nostalgia

Aroma Therapy and Instant Nostalgia
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Aroma Therapy   About a decade ago, the hip, the yuppies, and the avant-garde community came up with the commercially salable idea of aromatherapy.  Most big shopping malls in major cities now have at least one...
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If I Had My Druthers

If I Had My Druthers
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   If He Could Do It Over Again   The trappings of the modern world are so much a part of our daily lives that we seldom contemplate what it must be like in places where there...
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Mall, Market and Memories

  With ice and snow on the ground and no treadmill handy, one’s thoughts may turn again to the possibility of mall- walking, an activity enjoyed by some older folks. Unfortunately, if there was ever a place where I prefer not to tread for any reason, it is “The Mall.” A...
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Working As A Career

Working As A Career
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Working As A Career Sharing personal stories with family and friends about where we worked is an easy topic to open a conversation. Each of us has a treasure trove of stories locked away in our...
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Forest Research Sometimes Comes To Naught

Forest Research Sometimes Comes To Naught
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia    Chronicles of a FootlooseForester By Dick Pellek    Forest Research Sometimes Comes To Naught After getting a small grant to research a few selected teak plantations in Central America, compliments of the Organization for Tropical Studies, the Footloose Forester chose Costa Rica, Panama and...
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Taking A Little Tour By Satellite Photo

Taking A Little Tour By Satellite Photo
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia C hronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Let Me Take You On A Little Tour (in Google Earth)   Those with wanderlust in their blood often can be found in far-flung places, living out their dreams.  So it is that a restless...
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Bath Time...On the road...again!

Bath Time...On the road...again!
  On the road …again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Bath Time…On the road…again!   Based on the perceived popularity of bath time as a subject of some legacy stories, the Footloose Forester paused to daydream about his own experiences.  The subject matter might...
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I-ASK Webinar- 4-29-13

Download the Powerpoint presentation to follow along with the audio recording of the webinar.  indliving1.ppt  
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Euripides Taught Us Important Lessons

 
On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek

 

Euripides Taught Us Important Lessons

 


Several of the Chronicles of the Footloose Forester were written with an unstated purpose of informing and instructing the reader to not take everything at face value.  In one of them, however; the message was bluntly stated near the end of the chronicle entitled, “My Bid is Eight Spades.”   As posted, the passage read, “Don’t believe everything you read; don’t believe everything you hear; and don’t believe everything you dream. But, above all; don’t dismiss, out of hand, everything that does not square with everything that may go against everything that you personally believe.”

The 31 March 2013 story was about a dream, thus some of the scenes from the dream can be dismissed as unreality.  Nobody can be criticized for dismissing dreams.  Yet, some of the truisms in dreams were part of the substance of that particular dream that have endured as memorable quotations for over two thousand years. One of the favorites of the Footloose Forester is one by Euripides (480-406 B.C.), as follows:      



 

          Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.  (Euripides circa 410 B.C.)

 


Currently the Footloose Forester is reading a book written by fellow-forester Jay H. Cravens who was a US. Forest Service employee working under an Agency for International Development contract during the Viet Nam War. Cravens was a civilian, but saw much more fighting than many Americans in uniform, regardless of their branch of service.  That was a matter of where he was assigned; where he travelled; and where and when he witnessed the horrors of war.  His account of the circumstances and the fighting that took place in and around Saigon during the Têt Offensive of 1968 are first-hand impressions that he composed as letters to his family and later transcribed as the basis of his 1994 book, A Well Worn Path. (University Editions, Inc., 503 pages).

Jay Cravens and the Footloose Forester crossed paths only once or twice, at the office of the former, in Viet Nam.  But because Cravens, in his book, mentioned several other people whom the Footloose Forester also knew; and because his account of the Têt Offensive was extensively covered in more than 40 pages in his book, the Footloose Forester values the book as the best description of what happened in Saigon during the Têt Offensive in early 1968, as told by a civilian who lived through it.  Cravens was at one end of town, and the Footloose Forester was waiting it out at Tan Son Nhut Airport, just outside of town.

Although most of what Jay Cravens saw and reported in meticulous detail was based on first person experiences, he did introduce a few ideas that were based on his opinions about the food, the people, the customs and Vietnamese traditions that do not fall into the category of verifible fact.  When his ideas are identified as opinions, his personal remarks should be accepted as opinions-- the opinions of Jay Cravens.  However, when a glaring misstatement of fact appears deep into the discussion of the aftermath of the Têt Offensive, the purported facts should be questioned.  That is where the lessons of Euripides kick in.

 

 

Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.

 

There is no hint in the Cravens book that he was a golfer; but in more than one passage there is ample evidence that he showed distain for several individuals who were golfers; and who apparently had shared stories with him about certain aspects of the Têt Offensive. Thus, his deprecating remark, “A real tragedy has affected a number of Embassy and USAID workers…!  Bombs (undoubtedly dropped by a non-golfer flyer) have created traps in the center of the 12th, 14th and 17th greens…page 391.

 

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_2014-1488.jpg

Portico of the Golf Club de Saigon, prior to 1966

There were no bombs dropped on the 12th, 14th or 17th greens. Too bad that Cravens chose to include something that somebody told him, then included as part of his remarkably detailed first-hand account.  As far as Euripides is concerned, his advice to question everything was the stimulus for the Footloose Forester to flag that particular passage on p.391 of the book, A Well Worn Path; and to commence writing this chronicle.  Some 45 years after the Têt Offensive, the Footloose Forester learned something—the false rumor about the bombing of three greens at the Golf Club de Saigon.  As a member of that club that was just across the street from where he worked, the Footloose Forester played on those unaffected greens a couple of weeks after the Têt Offensive was over. There were no bomb craters. 

Later in the Cravens book, he briefly described the fighting in and around Saigon during the VC "summer offensive" of 1968. The passages are convincing, given that they were written by someone who kept a journal and kept the chronology of events, day by day.  The Footloose Forester had no reason to question most of what was written, except for the passages that began on page 448.  Cravens wrote,  "Now for today's (5 May) events..." followed by entries on 7 May and 9 May 1968.

At the time, Cravens was within a few days of leaving VIet Nam upon completion of his contract; therefore it was curious that he wrote, "I have my airline tickets and everything completed.....The last obstacle could be the route to Tan Son Nhut airport.  It was under fire all day yesterday and closed to all except military traffic."  The subsequent entry for 9 May was the most disturbing, as follows:  "Fighting in the past two days has been more severe than during Tet.  More bombs and napalm have been dropped on Saigon than during the first few days of Tet. Fighting goes on day and night..." ...page 449.  One wonders where Cravens got that information.  The Footloose Forester was on duty at Tan Son Nhut during that period; and he cannot relate to most of what Cravens said about dropping bombs and napalm. He also rode his Honda 50cc to work each morning; and returned each evening without ever being notified that the roads were closed.  He never got a sense that there was more danger than at other times during that offensive.  And he never saw evidence of napalm being dropped in Saigon, nor  did any of those he worked with discuss the use of napalm. Indeed, he categorically disputes that napalm was dropped in Saigon by American warplanes.  Only the Viet Nam Air Force flew missions over their city; and that fact was well known. 

The beleated addition of the foregoing paragraph was not anticipated until the Footloose Forester read pages 448-450 of the Cravens book.  Surely Cravens got some of his information from unreliable sources.  Indeed the VC summer offensive was a massive effort; however it is difficult for the Footloose Forester to accept much of what was written about road closures and the dropping of napalm within the city limits of Saigon when he traversed those streets daily. Thus, the main thesis of the Euripides axiom: question everything.

Of course, the wise Euripides included the words, “Answer nothing” as part of his famed quotation. That might imply that neither Jay Cravens nor the Footloose Forester can now verify the facts regarding the former greens at the Golf Club de Saigon, nor the use of air power during the subsequent VC summer offensive. The tiny 40 acre golf course was converted into part-park, part-fruit orchard in the post-Viet Nam War era. Yet, the images of the 12th, 14th and 17th greens are still clearly visible in the mind of the Footloose Forester.  And that includes the period of time more than a year after the VC offensive. 

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Who Manages The Managers? - Part II

Who Manages The Managers? -  Part II
  On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek     Who Manages The Managers – Part II   The tale about the Footloose Forester who long ago was a driver for Speedy Rent-a-Car in Pawtucket,   Wisconsin was a true story about actual events....
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On the ground....again!

On the ground....again!
On the road… again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   On The Ground….Again!   When the Footloose Forester ventured far afield in his lifelong adventure to seek out the mysteries of nature, he often found himself without food or shelter.  Not to worry, that was...
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Sleeping In Graveyards

Sleeping In Graveyards
  On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Sleeping In Graveyards (On A Visit to See George Stidworthy—American Rifleman)   A Footloose Forester who wanted to be… On the road….again! ...by choice, very often elected his own adventures.  So it was that he...
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Donald Stuart Grant's exemplary work ethic

Donald Stuart Grant's exemplary work ethic
  It was April 1954 and Don had just arrived home from a 3-year stint in Europe as an Army PFC. He had been lucky--of the 1000 men in his group, 800 went to Korea and he spent the entire 2 years in Salzburg as acting sergeant in charge of the...
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Who Manages The Managers?

Who Manages The Managers?
On the road… again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Who Manages The Managers?   The chronicles and personal stories of the Footloose Forester, up to this point, purposely avoided episodes that were critical of others, accusatory, or those that cast aspersions. Although everyone has...
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Environmental Disasters

Environmental Disasters
On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Environmental Disasters For much of the last 30 years, the issue of the environment has become a political football, with political parties lining up on opposite sides of that football.  That is too bad; although the...
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The Drunkard Mouse Of Joburg

The Drunkard Mouse Of Joburg
  On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia C hronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   The Drunkard Mouse of Joburg   Thu was keen to visit Kimberly, South Africa, site of the most famous diamond mine in the world. So we arranged to take a vacation in South Africa,...
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Getting Around In Helicopters

Getting Around In Helicopters
  On the road again...! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   Getting Around in Helicopters   Foresters and other natural resources professionals get around in helicopters more often than most folks.  Kind of like a businessman or woman taking a taxi to get to an...
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Aw, shucks, Ma'am

Aw, shucks, Ma'am
  On the road…again! Afghanistan to Zambia Chronicles of a Footloose Forester By Dick Pellek   M for Montana   Having  a railroad pass to travel anywhere in the United States was part of the plan to make a summer adventure in a new state after his sophomore year at Rutgers....
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