The Great Larry J. Lust, Major General, US Army (Retired) was one of my commanding officers. He and I occasionally communicate and while he made me crazy at times when I worked for him, I appreciate his honor, integrity and kindness greatly. And, in addition to being a royal pain in the ass, I have to acknowledge that his requirements resulted in my doing some of my best work as a First Sergeant and eventually figured out that was actually the idea for all of the COSCOM. The boss and I stay in loose contact. He sends out some weekly bits of advice, and frankly, some of them are kind of weird, but most of them are both relevant and worth thinking. The weirdness I attribute to him being from Kansas and a Republican. Anyway, he recently sent a couple, and I have incorporated them into my rules for living. So, here are my rules for living. I invite comment. Citations provided where they exist and are not syntheses from my fevered mind.
1. Don't be a jerk.
2. Nobody has to be in charge, but if the situation requires and nobody else wants to be in charge or can do it well, take charge but do it as well as possible.
3. In the face of jerks, see rule 1.
4. In anger, take a deep breath, close your eyes and turn away for a minute. Gain composure and return to conversation. Scares the hell out of the bastards...and makes your point.
5. Somethings are worth dying for; most things are not. Choose wisely. No mere job is worth an aneurysm.
6. There are only two things in life -- things we can control, things we can't. Focus effort on what you can control but watch the other stuff carefully. (My loose translation from Epictetus.)
7. Things are always screwed up. So, any improvement, no matter how slight, is a meaningful accomplishment. (My loose translation from Marcus Aurelius)
8. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living; I say, the unexamined life is not led. (Kierkegaard, The Concluding Unscientific Postscript)
9. The true measure of an individual is how he or she treats others who can do him or her absolutely no good. (L.J. Lust, MG, USA)
10. Anger is an honest emotion. William James) You have the right to be angry; you don't have the right to be cruel. (L.J. Lust, MG, USA)
11. I beseech thee, by the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, to remember that thee may be wrong! (Noted Liberation Theologian and Democratic Activist, Oliver Cromwell)
12. Some days you do things that change the world; some days, you pardon a turkey. (Barrack Obama) So, do what you are doing as best you can without regard for the consequences. (Ignatius Loyola)
After retirement, General Lust went off to war again, this time in Iraq as a senior Manager with KBR. We communicated occasionally, and I got the strong feeling that he wasn't happy with the situation, but thought that he could make a difference. I do know that stress, heat, and the fact that retired generals are by definition old farts caught up and he had some severe health problems. On home leave, he had a serious health issue, and his wife and high school sweetheart dragged his reluctant old ass off to the emergency room and he got to leave KBR. He's never shared with me, but I got the strong impression that he ultimately decided that was a better result than going back. He now is a faculty member at the Command and General Staff College and I shudder to think of his attention to detail, wit and directness applied to a paper of mine. Fortunately, I'm not one of his students or subordinates today; just a friend.
As the Army returns to full spectrum warfare which used to be called High Intensity warfare which was called Airland Battle which was called Warfighting...anyway, in 2006 General Lust pointed out to me that he was meeting lots of Armored Battalion Officers who had never qualified a company at Tank Gunnery who were now Battalion S3s or XOs as well as Brigade Commanders who had never qualified a battalion at Gunnery. I was finding tank mechanics who had never worked on a tank after AIT that we were hiring at the NTC to work on tracks. Kind of an interesting conundrum there, ehh?We both politely indicated that we thought this was just a helluva problem and worried about what was going to happen to our Army. Guess we still do. Well, neither one of us is in the Defense Contracting business anymore, and I doubt the Russians are going to invade Western Europe anytime soon. But...
I think the old man will be happy with the company. Well, maybe not Obama and Cromwell. Maybe Cromwell -- in addition to regicide and religious dictatorship, Cromwell started off as a pretty strong Cavalry Commander. So did Lust.
As for the Music, well, probably the Allison Krause. Maybe not Traffic. But, we're all about the same age and he's surprised me before.