Motorcycle Riding, Facing the Danger

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I wrote the following Facebook post on March 11, 2016 on my way through Jacksonville returning from a road trip to Maine in my recently purchased Miata and after my bike accident in December (2015) the previous year. I had not yet purchased my current bike and didn’t know at that time whether I would ever ride again.

I have been a biker/motorcycle rider in one way or another for about 50 years, starting out with a Bridgestone 90cc, working up thru a series of Hondas and Zuzukis to Harleys. As required for motorcycle riders on base, I went to biker training in the mid 1980s and always considered myself a careful defensive and watchful rider
I was careful not to be critical of either bikers or automobile motorists. Well maybe rice rocketeers LOL. There were times riding in groups when i would lag behind because of what I considered over zealous front runners and some in the group in too big of a hurry. And, reading and hearing of accidents I saw both motorists and bikers at fault.

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday driving down I-95 from SC to south of Jacksonville, especially as traffic was crowded from north Jax down to about St Augustine. Biker groups speeding down the highway some seemingly in a hurry to reach Daytona making dangerous maneuvers in and out, changing lanes, some following dangerously close to semi trucks. In one instance I was in the center lane about 70 mph when a group passed, one biker came within a foot of my left side straddling the line. They moved up to within less than 10 yards behind a truck and obviously would have been a massive accident if the truck had braked. Don’t ever believe that motorcycle accidents are always the fault of others.

I miss riding and may never ride again, but if my doctor gives the ok, I will, but will definitely steer clear of the maniacs who give us a bad name after the bike accident in December the prior year.

Update, March 2020

As my friends know, Several months later (after the story above), I finally felt I was physically able to ride again and bought another Harley. Very nervous about riding after such a long time, I met the seller at my credit union as he was a member also. I transferred the money to his account, he signed the title and it was mine. I spent several minutes riding the bike around the parking lot before heading home on the back roads. I still didn’t feel as comfortable as I should for the next week but it was a joy to be riding again.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the daughter of a retired Navy man who died asking me to perform his memorial service. He was a the husband of one of my cousins who had died a few years earlier. He had requested me to do his service not only because we were friends but because my father had performed his wedding ceremony when he married my cousin so many years ago.. The service was to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

To say the least this presented a problem. Should I fly, which at this stage of my life I don’t do as I detest the small aircraft cabins as well as the hassle of going through the in-processing at the airport. Thus I was prepared to drive the Miata and looking forward to the trip as I was due for a nice drive and I had not been to NM in years and was also looking forward to visiting the family members.
Then, I thought, maybe I should ride the bike. Yes it would be a long trip but it had been a while since a bike trip and I really wanted to do it. I decided to sleep on the idea and make a decision.

The next day I called and said I would ride the motorcycle and that they should have a back-up plan in case I didn’t make it. I spent the day getting ready for the ride. The next morning I left early in the morning and rode all the way to Memphis that day. It tood me 3.5 days to make the ride and I felt great. After spending a few days there, I rode to South Carolina to spend the weekend relaxing before heading back home to Florida. It was a wonderful trip and the beginning of the joy of riding again.

The following year I had a severe back infection and spent over a month in the hospital, almost checking out of this ole world. Once again I faced the prospect of not riding again, but with determination I got back on the bike. Now as I get older and my legs are no longer as strong I’m even more mindful of the danger of riding so I most likely will never take any more real long rides but as long as I can manage will ride as often as possible.


I see a short trip back up to the NC/TN area again soon. We’ll see. In the meantime daily short trips are a necessity.

Free At Last

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My Free-At-Last Story.

Being the cantankerous curmudgeon that I am, I’ve had several of those free at last moments and they never seemed to work out exactly as planned.

First there was high school graduation Yippee! Oops, get a job. So join the Air Force. Oh it was a great ride — 3 overseas and 4 great state side assignments. But follow orders. Then discharged. Free at last! And I’m my own boss. Right? Ha.

Read read read, write write write, and then that last paper, that last final exam. 8 long years and done. Free at last.

Ah, 2 years of working for the people and back in the service, the Navy and huge pay raise. Travel the world again, numerous assignments. Follow orders. Retire. Free at last!

Oops, kids still in school and starting college. Gget a job. Teach school Always someone to answer to.

Retire again and finally, finally, free at last free at last! Ride the Harley, see the unknown countryside. Freedom.

Oops, 1 doctor, 2 doctor, 3 doctor, 4.. Hmmm

Then tell them Facebook friends, my way, your way, this way, that way, da highway.

ONE DAY AT A TIME.. Ahh so that’s it! Free at last free at last!  Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last!

do i have to put on airs?

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Do I Have To Put On Airs?

as i was posting and commenting on facebook, i was reminded of an anecdote a grad school professor once gave about him visiting in the home of a couple. he said that he was afraid to touch anything. his host was so very proper, well dressed, everything was so ordered and there were several antiques. well, i can’t recall all the particulars of the story, only that the prof was afraid to let his hair down, so to speak, and that he felt like a stuffed animal.

wondering what it would be like if it had been me in the professor’s stead. well, i’ve been there too and didn’t like it. the ice was broken one night when in Okinawa my CO, a very dignified colonel, invited me along with some other officers over for Thanksgiving dinner. oh man, i showed up too early. got to the door, his wife said he was running an errand and in a jovial manner proceeded to kiss my balding head, grabbed me by the arm and put me to work.

to say i was nervous was an understatement but, long story short, it turned out to be a fun evening with all enjoying the feast and relaxing atmosphere. here was my CO, a no nonsense hard corps Marine officer who expected the best out of his staff in a laid back manner philosophy of work hard, play hard.

oh yes i’ve been in the presence of very high ranking officers and dignified civilian dignitaries in some very uppity functions and i can say for sure that some of them went home wondering who the heck that guy was, while others went home disarmed of their stiffness by yours truly.
well now i can pretty much size up a person and i tell you that if invited to some folks homes at this stage of life, it would be thanks but no thanks. and if i were invited to a full dress formal affair, well i might attend but i wouldn’t hesitate to lean back and get comfy on the couch and pull out my phone for a selfie with the VIP host in the background or whatever to record the affair in all its glory.

here’s to a well earned retirement where this old man can snob his nose and say, thanks but no thanks.

~ Fawkham Hall.

© Feb. 2018 Bob Haines

Thank You

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Thank You for reading this. I hope it’s meaningful.

I was not reared up as a thank-you person. In other words we didn’t say it on a routine basis as a habit growing up. I don’t remember it being said in our home, in my grandparent’s home nor the homes of my relatives. I don’t know why. We just did what we did and everyone went about their business as usual and expected others to do the same.

Nowadays I hear a lot of thank yous. When I’m wearing my veteran hat, as I usually do, I get folks thanking me for my service and sometimes they come up to me and shake my hand. In the military service itself, both active and reserves, it has become a custom to thank the troops at the end of their tours of duty, often via letters of appreciation. When military people retire, they are afforded a retirement ceremony in honor of their service.

I think it’s good to thank people for things – for jobs well done, for doing a good turn, and simply for being a friend. I’m not sure that it should become a constant thing where it’s overdone so as to lose its heartfelt meaning but I do think it’s important to verbalize one’s appreciation for others. Sometimes it’s not done enough, especially when we recognize that someone has done so much for so many and hasn’t been recognized for doing so.

Every year during the Thanksgiving season we are reminded of the art of being thankful. There are some instances in the scriptures concerning a lifestyle of being thankful, notably the time when Jesus ministered to 10 sick people but only one returned to to thank Him. (Luke 17:11 – 19). I supposed the others just took it for granted.

My life has become much more meaningful since I’ve learned and practiced being thankful for others, especially those who are just doing their job. After a funeral last week we were at the interment ceremony at the cemetery where full military honors were performed. There were seven very young enlistment men and two NCOs who drove all the way down from Ft. Stewart, Georgia in a crowded van to do the honors. I made it a point afterwards to walk over the the van, shake the hand of the two NCOs and thank them. The others were already in the van so I opened the door and said, “I know that some people feel that they are just doing a job, just doing their duty, but I want you to know that what you did today was very important and that the family and friends of the deceased are highly appreciative of who you are and what you did for their loved one today.” I thanked them and wished them well on their trip back.

Brighten someone’s life today by thanking them, for who they are and what they do.

Military Awards & Decorations

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I don’t mean any ill will against patriotic young people, or to be negatively critical, but didjaever see one of today’s Jr. ROTC members, a high school student who is enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps — in a dress uniform?

Merit badges for young scouts are good, but getting a ribbon, for example, for attaining a grade of “B” or better in a particular class, be in good academic standing, actively participate in cadet corps activities, and participate in at least 50% of all unit service programs. (awarded once per year.). That’s it. Participate, do well, and here’s your ribbon.

Where’s my ribbon for surviving 2019? I need to add it to all the other yearly ribbons I’ve won for getting through the years without a major heart attack, and those for practicing enough safety to undergo the number of long motorcycle rides without incident except for the time I totaled one bike.

Now for active duty folks. The military will give you a medal nowadays if you’re breathing and show up for work on time. Geez, if you finished boot camp you get a ribbon. Whoopie! You did something that everyone else did.


It’s all well and good i guess for those who received team sports trophies for participation and graduated kindergarten complete with cap and gown. But it seems to me that awards and decorations have just gotten completely out of hand so the ones you really earned above and beyond the call of duty have little place beside those worn for serving a tour of duty overseas and does the same job as one who is stateside but gets no ribbon.

I never could figure out why i got a good conduct medal. I guess it means i didn’t get caught.

I served a couple of enlistments in the Air Force, 3X overseas including Vietnam, for a total of 7 years, 3 months, and 10 days. For my first assignment in a very remote area working rotating shifts for 15 months without a leave (vacation) I received nothing, not even a promotion, although the unit did get an outstanding unit award. Nowadays, most all units receive some type of unit award just for accomplishing their missions and members of the unit get either an achievement medal, commendation medal, or meritorious service medal depending on their rank. and, as all those who served in Southeast Asia, got the participation service medals.

I went back into the service, in the Navy, and managed to retire. Unlike many fellow officers who received a number of merit type medals, some at every assignment they served and reading their citation, sounds like they just did their job as expected. Allow me to let you on a little secret. I know some of those men who wrote themselves up for the medal, being the senior officer in their office, or had a friend do the write up, and in some cases the XO processed the write up simply because it was expected. In some cases it is expected that unless the officer fell on his own sword he got an end-of-tour award, usually a Commendation Medal or Meritorious Service Medal, depending on one’s rank. I know that in some commands today, someone is appointed to choose medal recipients and to write them up for the awards.

I did receive an Air Force Commendation medal for service in Vietnam. I was what was then referred to as a REMF, a rear echelon guy serving in a relatively safe zone working in an office doing intelligence work. There’s no doubt that the work I did was extremely important and probably saved lives, but it was nothing more special IMO than anyone else doing their assigned work. I noticed that it seemed to be for the Air Force REMFs of the Vietnam War, at least in my command, that for the rank of E-5 and below, one generally received a commendation medal and for those who were E-6 and above, a Bronze Star and they were automatically given at the end of one’s tour or at a commander’s call after they returned home. No heroics involved, just a job well done.

I served a number of different assignments while in the Navy, both in the Navy and with Marine Corps units. Reputation was a key factor in promotion in my profession, and other things in one’s career (getting one’s career ticket punched). I never had a great reputation. I was too radical in some ways, spoke my mind when I probably shouldn’t have, went outside the chain of command with suggestions and ideas, and in general never played the “game”, so to speak.

Just to relate one incident that will give you a better idea of dear ole Bob, at the end of one 2-year stateside tour of duty, I know I was being written up for an end-of-tour medal by the XO at about the same time a new CO was being assigned and a change of command ceremony rehearsal, which the XO was in charge of producing, was scheduled. I had had a super relationship to the old CO and had already established a good relationship with the new CO. The last week, I was in the process of cleaning out my office for a reassignment and told the XO that I would miss the rehearsal but I had done enough of them that I knew the procedure. I had never really gone through the XO much during that assignment, always going directly to the CO for various reasons concerning issues when they needed command attention. That was the second XO that I didn’t get along with well. In short, because I missed the rehearsal, he never forwarded my medal write-up, which suited me just fine. I didn’t need his or the command,s official rewarding compliments on my job. People who really knew me and my work knew my worth and accomplishments and that’s all that mattered to me.  (Thankfully, medals were not important in my particular field as to promotion boards).

I had had a couple TAD (temporary duty) assignments, including a deployment with deployed Marines unit to the Mediterranean and to the 2d Marine Division during Operation Desert Storm. Both of these assignments were very strenuous and demanding. Both times I left the units following their activities they were involved in and back to my permanent unit without even thinking of receiving any type of medal. I could have taken the time to recommend myself or have a senior officer, or even the command sergeant major with whom I had a cordial and working relationship, recommend me for a medal knowing full well that they would have been approved. Just not my thing and besides, at the times I never even thought about it.

So now I’m a veteran and member of various Facebook veteran groups. What I’m seeing now is some of the old farts who served back in the 1950s and 1960s are an entirely different breed from the guys who served in the late 1970s after the Vietnam War, and later, including Desert Storm and later Middle Eastern tours of duty of the 1990a and 2000s, who received so many ribbons on their chest they walk stooped over and since some of the new stuff is retroactive some veterans are busy having their records changed so they can get the stuff they weren’t awarded but are now qualified for. Then, there’s the “special” medals and participation certificates they are now eligible for by having “been there, done that.” It’s quite interesting watching the discussions on some issues, the difference of opinions between the old and the newer guys.

(Pet peeve, I never figured out why there no ground medals given to compensate for those serving on the ground while their peers received all those air medals for doing the same job but in a different environment).

I don’t understand it. Why not be satisfied with what you did and what you got when you did it and got it? And BTW, you know how to tell a real combat troop and hero? They never talk about it.

© Feb. 2018. Bob Haines

Christian Protestant Worship Services

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On general Protestant* worship services
I’ve been around the block a few times so I am aware of, have attended, and have even led several styles of Christian worship-ritualistic services. The services generally have been derived from two basic groups, free-thinking and authoritarian. The free-thinking are at liberty to put on whatever type they chose and are flexible. The authoritarian are usually pre-set at the behest of some given authority and generally will be the same from place to place although some minor alterations may be allowed. The latter class can be and traditionally have been referred to as liturgical because they follow a set program of liturgy containing a set pattern of leader-community response order of worship. The free-thinking class has been customarily referred to as non-liturgical because changes occur frequently in the order of service but are in fact liturgical in the normal sense of the word. A more exhaustive analysis can be made but you get the idea.

Here is a list of general types of worship services knowing that there are mixtures:
1. High Church, strict liturgy. It is the same basic format on any given Sunday in any area of the particular church where it is an institutionalized. It will normally contain a brief sermon pre-published by the church institution by which the priest or pastor uses as the standard for the week. The scripture has been pre-selected with some commentary and the priest or pastor may add some remarks, anecdotes, etc. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ accompaniment, with choir.
2. General liturgical. The same as #1, with the pre-set scriptures as per a particular denomination or sect or as used by a number of churches. The sermon may or may not follow the scripture text but will be more or less a topical sermon depending on a pre-set theme of the week of the season. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ and/or a piano as accompaniment, maybe an extra instrument and a choir.
3. Independent liturgical. A set order of worship, the same each Sunday but the pastor chooses his own selection of scripture and sermon topic. Traditional hymn with perhaps a more modern non-tradition song, an organ and/or piano and maybe a small orchestra.
4. Modern, non-traditional service with no printed order or worship. However it is usually the same every week as to the order beginning with praise songs and modern Christian songs with a traditional hymn or two with a piano and/or an orchestra or praise band. All music is non-traditional with a small contingent of voices without choir robes. You will not see many suits and ties if at all. It is very casual and members are free to move about, may check their cell phone messages, shoot pix or videos and even carry own individual conversations.
5. Strictly non-traditional. These are the Pentecostalists and free non-Pentecostalists but with an highly emotional tone, referred to by some as holy-rollers. No set responsorials but congregation members can respond as they see fit at any time with shouts of amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord and sometimes dancing about. The preacher will preach his sermon with fervor, There may be some traditional hymns but mostly choruses and modern praise type songs. The services will be the same each week however as the congregation will be in worship mode as usual. An extended invitational period and/or altar call will end the service, sometimes with the laying on of hands and praying with individuals by the elders. Some churches will have a period of anointing with oil for the healing of the sick and the repentance of the broken hearted. Sometimes the term, revival, is used as the members are revived each week with renewed spiritual energy.
6. Military, hospital, prison, and other institutional services may include one or more of the above depending on the chaplain(s) employed to lead the services. In most cases they are shorter and more subdued depending on the institution.
7. Services for INFPs. The service I fit in and prefer. I’ll let you known when I find one.

(*non-Roman Catholic, Greek & Eastern Orthodox, etc)

© 2018. Chaplain Bob Haines

A Coffee Drinker

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Although I am positive, but I must have drank it earlier because my mother drank it and my grandpa and uncle Alfred drank it — every morning, slurp slurp, whereas, my first vivid memory of have a cup of coffee was on the morning of March 15, 1960. It was in the coffee shop of the Alachua General Hospital — the day my world changed, the day my father was killed in a tragic accident.

On that memorable morning I was walking across my front lawn from the house headed toward the school bus stop when my father yelled out the door asking me if I wanted a ride as it was a slight chilly morning and I think a little misty. Of course not. I’d walk on.***
After the 15-mile bus ride to school, I was still in my homeroom, B-4, when an announcement came over the intercom instructing me to go to the office. I don’t remember my first thought on hearing that announcement but the feeling I recall, naturally, was hmmm, wondering why. Well, I got to the office and our assistant principal, Mr. Joe Hudson told me that there had been an accident and he drove me to the hospital. I was greeted by someone who informed me that my father was DOA (dead on arrival). Can you imagine a grown adult informing a 15-year old boy that his father was DOA. And then that person left and I was just there.
After a while a young man, but older than me, the ambulance driver who had brought my father in from the accident site to the hospital, invited me down to the coffee shop and bought me a cup of coffee. What I’ll always remember is not the coffee so much, but the act of kindness by someone who took the time to minister to me in a time of need. Everyone else was all about the business of the day. I have an idea of who the guy was, not sure, but he had an instinct about grief at a time before the current understanding of the process.

From then on I was a coffee drinker. I don’t have clear memories of the rest of my school days as to coffee but I know I drank it often. Nevertheless my next vivid memory of enjoying a cup of coffee was the early morning, before sunrise, when I arrived in the mess hall at Lackland Air Force Base along with other Air Force enlistees beginning basic training. I remember well walking up to the large coffee urn and getting a large cup of coffee in that old ceramic somewhat rounded coffee cup. I was the shift coffee maker in my first overseas assignments and we always had coffee pots in all the areas I worked in all my units. On road trips I always stopped for coffee and drank my fill on aircraft flights.

After leaving the military and beginning college my first act after my first class was to head to the campus cafeteria for a cup of coffee which I’m sure I did at least once per day throughout my 8 years of college and graduate school. I drank a lot of coffee on those all-night cramming sessions studying for a mid-term or final exam.

I continued to drink coffee after I went into the Navy and served about one-half of the remainder of my career with the Marine Corps, enjoying a cup around a fire during a field exercise. There was always coffee somewhere except on one flight hop on my way to Operation Desert Storm when there was no coffee on board. That was my first experience of withdrawal symptoms, a terrible headache until we stopped for re-fueling in India and I hurried to the terminal for a couple of quick cups. Then my first days in the desert when I collected instant coffee packets from the MRE packages from those who didn’t drink coffee until my family sent me a stove top aluminum 4-cup coffee maker and pounds of Maxwell house coffee. The only other “real” cup of coffee was offered by a company gunnery sergeant who had a drip maker in his LAV and could make it by firing up the generator.

Somewhere along the line through my years of retirement I have broken the caffeine addiction, per se, so that now I drink one, two or sometimes three cups daily. Such a delight when coffee time comes around.

***What is striking about this brief few seconds in time is the adamant fact that one moment in you daily life, one small decision, whether with much thought or just a reaction of something, can have a dramatic affect on your entire life and personality and change you for the rest of your life in all aspects of your future direction, decision-making, etc. Just one second, and the every second of the rest of your life may have a totally different fate and outcome.

© 2020, Bob Haines

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