The views expressed here neither represent nor are affiliated with the US DOD, US Navy, FAO association, MGM Studios, Time Warner, Sony, RCA Recording or Hostess. Now, "relax and take notes . . . "

FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I Read Last Week: Secret SEALs, Mexicano Poet Laureate, Fading Honky-Tonks and Moleskines Obsession

I began my love affair with moleskine notebooks on 11 November 2013.  You know how I know that date? Because I looked in my moleskin notebook that's on my desk.
Interesting history on Amsterdam's love affair...with bikes.
Gritty Americana writing on the Bakersfield sound, a slowly dying Honky-Tonk and the melancholy existence of a fading Elvis.

Thorough and fascinating reporting on the most secretive SEAL team.  With contribution by none other than my former detailer and friend John Ismay.  
The power of "done."
A quick bio on the nations newest PLOTUS (Poet Laureate Of The United States).  Witty, funny and on-target poetry--I've added his incredibly titled 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border: Undocuments 1971-2007  to my Amazon wish list.  

WIRLW Archive:

Friday, June 12, 2015

What I Read Last Week: Pizza in Somalia, Stretching in Your Office, The Trust of the Uniform and Choked Out in Joburg

Op-Ed: The Evolution of Thanking Those in Uniform
The Supe at the Naval Academy pens a thoughtful piece on receiving thanks for one's service.  I love his suggested response: "Thank you for your trust."

Navy SEAL: Here’s how to stay fit when you have no time to workout

I like his suggestion for 15 minutes of mobility work you can do in the office without getting all sweaty.

What Russian Literature Tells Us About Vladimir Putin’s World

Stavridis continues to kill it with these pieces--it's so intimidating to be confronted with such a prolific writer and academic.

The best pizza in Mogadishu

McConnel is one of the top pens reporting in Africa--I make sure to read everything he writes.

Glamorous Crossing: How Pan Am Airways Dominated International Travel in the 1930s

A story with excellent research that tells the story of the hard fought battles for growth within the aviation industry.

Marikana massacre: the untold story of the strike leader who died for workers’ rights

A rather brutal story that never made it to the international press back in 2012.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What I Read Last Week: Trolls, Pirates, Wine Wars, $100 a Paris, Kidnapping and Arab Baptists

The Agency
Wow. Just wow.  This article reads like a twilight zone political thriller.  Incredible reporting that delves into the quasi-state Russian sponsored global troll/pseudo-news network.  This will blow your mind a little bit.

My 977 days held hostage by Somali pirates
Mandatory reading.  An unfathomable account of a kidnapped journalist tale of survival amidst Somali pirates--and an interesting thought piece on paying ransoms.

The Wrath of Grapes A band of upstart winemakers is trying to redefine what California wine should taste like — and enraging America’s most famous oenophile in the process.
Who knew that the wine world got down like this...

A $1000 Day in Paris for $100
Love me some Paris insider information.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: My Father’s Kidnapping
One of the best writers today tells the heart-breaking tale of her father's kidnapping in Nigeria.   It's one of those pieces that sticks with you and can you give the reader more insight into a country than 20 pieces of political analysis.  Adiche fails to mention, HOWEVER, that she and her father are dual-citizens (US and Nigeria) and she leaves out just who helped get her father back--a glaring omission.

One church’s sunset means a new day for another
An Egyptian Arab Baptist revival in the Bible belt--a fascinating piece.  I'd be curious to get more background on the Arab Baptists--are they all Muslim converts or are some Coptic Christian Baptist crossovers?

WIRLW Archive:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What I Read Last Week: $30 Aluminum Foil, Blind EOD Swimmer, Powerpoints, Jet Lag, Mother Tongues and Retro Afghanistan

Extreme City The severe inequality of the Angolan oil boom
$30 for a roll of aluminum foil.  A place that makes Nigeria looks like Switzerland.   It's frightening to think how much the myriad global companies dumping in hundreds of millions must be making off this country.  

Powerpoint should banned and this powerpoint explains why
A rehash bash of powerpoints which is always entertaining.  This one is a bit of a deep dive which is refreshing.  I am a big fan of using a powerpoint with no words--only pictures or maps.  RADM Lemmons--a former Director of International Engagement for the Navy used to talk for 45 fascinating minutes off three slides that just had photos and a map on them.  

The Delta.  Navy EOD stud Brad Snyder loses his eyesight to an IED and rediscovers meaning in the swimming pool and a new direction in his life.  

How jet lag hurts diplomats, without them even realizing it
This is probably pretty true.  That's why it's vital that you have sharp people on your country team downrange--as this author aptly points out.  I will say this--don't listen to 'natural health people'--AMBIEN is your friend.  It is vital that you get sleep on that red-eye or on that first night.  


Focus on the person that you're with.  Ask yourself what connections can I make for other people?!

Leaving The Mother Tongue: Why Languages Are So Hard To Learn And Which Are Easiest
Fascinating read.  "For people like Sagarra who study the way our brains make sense of new languages, the challenge is figuring out when learning actually takes place. When is the brain playing by the new rules? In 2013, Sagarra and her colleague Nick Ellis, of the University of Michigan, foundthrough eye-tracking technology that people’s proficiency level determines where they spend their time concentrating. In that particular study, the investigators focused on adverb-verb congruency (“Yesterday the man eats” versus “Yesterday the man ate”) among English and Romanian learners of Spanish."

Fire on the Mountain
A great retro-read from 2009 on Army COIN work in Afghanistan.  It's illuminating to read in light of where we are today.  

WIRLW Archive:

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Toe Shine is No Shine: Finding Meaning in the Munich Airport or The lost art of the shoe shine

I can still remember how the worn wooden handle of my father's horse hair shoeshine brush felt.  I can remember the warm smell of the small circle kiwi wax and I can picture his spotted soft white under shirt used to shine his shoes.  Needless to say plebe summer at the Naval Academy dashed any romantic notions I had regarding the shining of shoes.

I am pretty sure you can ask anyone in the mighty class of 2001 what was the greatest lesson concerning shoe shining learned while at USNA and it would be this:

A toe shine is no shine.

I share all this because a shoe shine stand offers the nostalgia of my youth without the sweaty humid nightmare that was trying to polish my leather black shoes into mirrors each Sunday.  Unfortunately, shoe shine stands are hard to come by nowadays which is a shame.

The shoe shine stand at the airport in Munich is a shining example of the brilliance of this lost art (see what I did there twice).  The gentlemen at the Lufthansa Terminal G had a steady stream of customers the entire afternoon that I was there--and for good reason--he does a phenomenal job.

My sole criticism is that he doesn't have this rather loquacious pricing list translated into any other languages--just jumbled line after line of German.  Here's the gouge, though, go with the polish and treatment that costs 15 Euros.

Two highlights from his routine:

  • He will take out your laces and clean them.  Then at the end he will re-lace your shoes in that certain way they only know how to do at shoe stores.
  • He shoves playing cards into your shoes to protect your shoes
Ultimately the beauty of a good shoe shine is that once you step down from that elevated leather chair--you always find yourself standing a few inches taller.  

Links on shoe shining:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Munich (Airport Library) and Communal Napping Park or Harnessing Your Inner Bum

I've written in previous posts about the glory that is Munich airport, especially the Lufthansa terminals.  This post highlights the incredible library (ish)/communal napping park in Terminal H (I think)

Two rows of about 15 sleeping lounge chairs are bathed in soft green light.  Every chair has a normal outlet as well as a USB one.  There's also another section that has about 8 high backed cozy sleeping pods.  In this same section are 4 small private rooms/pods you can rent (30 euros for two hours I think) that has a clean bed and sink in it.

As seen in the first picture below, there's a selection of books (in German and English) that you can borrow while you are at the airport.  The next time I am there I will take more and better photos to show all the great areas.

Bottom line: if you have a choice of airports at which to layover--chose Munich.