January 27, 2012

Good News from Tampa Today!

I just got the call… Today was the 3 month follow up Cat Scan for my mom.  She has been on a Chemo Sabbatical of sorts for the past 3 months.  The tests in October (at the conclusion of her 3rd 3 month period of oral chemotherapy) indicated no real change in cell size or count from the conclusion of the 2nd period.  Thus the decision was made to allow mom a 3 month term without having to take any medications to treat her cancer. 

Today was a huge day, certainly we have been hopeful that the CT today would show no significant progression of the cells, in hopes of allowing Mom even more time away from a treatment that, as many of you know, is fatiguing at best.

Kelly, my sister, once again took it upon herself to assist Mom and Dad in their journey from Jacksonville down to Tampa (Moffitt Cancer Center).  She called me a few minutes ago, with cheer in her voice, a good start!  She immediately passed the phone to Mom to deliver the news.

Scan results indicate:

  1. NO New Cells!
  2. NO increase in any of the existing cells!
  3. SOME Reduction in size of some of the existing cells!

All tremendous news!!! 

Mom and Dad from Moffitt

And to celebrate, Mom, Dad and Kelly are headed to the nearest Baskin Robbins for a scoop of Cherries Jubilee! 

We all want to thank you again for all the well wishes, warm thoughts and prayers during this time!  This is truly the best we news we could hope for today.

-JC

January 27, 2012 in Biographical | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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January 04, 2012

Paucity of Posts

Visitors to this space may not help but notice the growing rarity of literary wit or prose on these here virtual pages.  I could obviously cite any number of convenient excuses, much in the same way I can concoct reasons for not dragging my growing figure to the gym.  But the reason lies more in frustration than apathy or inconvenience.

In the case of Carmichael’s Position I don’t really attribute the growing dearth of cognitive essays, to laziness but more to lack of motivation.  It is this motivation I intend to change.  Of late I have been more reticent to express my opinion, choosing to hold my tongue (or fingers in the case of CP) in a misinterpreted impression I was being more balanced, or understanding.  The proverbial “Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence".  I find without outlet, my mind stirs with each absurdity our world seems to generate in the way a nauseated goose creates flatulent fertilizer! 

My trouble lies in my lack of self assuredness.  I know, to many who know me personally describing me as anything remotely close to insecure would be like accusing Obama of being humble!  No, follow me here, I have been reading excellent prose from spectacular writers and thinkers, ranging from George Will, Peggy Noonan, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Sun Tzu, Stockdale and his motivative mentor Epictetus.  When I compare my composition, or syllogistic methods I come up painfully short.  Who wouldn’t?  I know.  It would be like me comparing my photographic works to the likes of Ansel Adams, or Charlie Waite.  Which is what got me to thinking… Like in my photography, I use the works of these paragons to better challenge my own quality.  I know I will never be Ansel Adams… but then again the world has already had one.  So I can simply be John Carmichael, aspiring photographer, writer, commentator.  Maybe my words will raise the discourse, or maybe not, they may just land like the feces of the sick goose… but they will be my words and thoughts, and once again… CARMICHAEL’s POSITION!  My words may not Improve the Silence but they certainly cannot harm the din!

More to come… fortunately it’s an election year, and I suspect there will be no shortage of idiots regurgitating bromides and platitudes in an effort to sway an electorate! 

I will not sit on the sidelines any more. 

Not to worry there will be a continuing smattering of my more tame, artistic impressions on these pages as well, just because I plan to expand one facet does not mean I plan to curtail the other… besides I am going to the gym again too!  … new leaf and all that…

January 4, 2012 in Biographical, Idiots on Parade | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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December 30, 2011

Damn… Cancer part two!

Not Mom, Not Dad… but Ginger’s Mom!  Learned yesterday that a lump Ginger’s mom noticed a few weeks ago tested positive for cancer.  We haven’t yet received all the details, a full diagnosis is pending more tests to determine such things that my wife is far more versed in than I.

But suffice to say, all prayers, well wishes, and good thoughts directed toward Betty will be greatly appreciated. A prayer for strength for the rest of the family couldn’t hurt none neither…

I know where my prayers are focused.

December 30, 2011 in Biographical | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Awoke this morning from a long winter’s nap, greeted not by the subtle sounds of Bing Crosby singing I’ll be home for Christmas nor even Johnny Mathis’ The Christmas Song… No actually it was quite… well… quiet.  Christmas morning had come, and nearly gone by the time I stirred, comfortable in my nothing pressing agenda.  My wife sleeping comfortably next to me, also equally comfortable in letting the morning pass un-encumbered by our presence.  A gift to us really.

We find ourselves a mile from Ginger’s family’s farm, in a hotel in the western extremes of Lansing Michigan for this year’s Yuletide, surrounded by browning grasses, leafless trees, gray skies, and the local credit union drive through.  A captivating view to say the very least!

Lovely Lansing

I cannot seem to find the Christmas Spirit I am seeking this year, I’ve watched A Christmas Story a number of times and even spent a commercial break enjoying It’s a Wonderful Life and while these two classics, separate by a generation or two help to remind of what should be remembered, alas I am wont for that warm blanket of a charming Christmas.

I am usually critical and cynical of the Commercial Christmas, what with retail outlets seemingly putting up decorations the day after Labor Day!  By the time December 25th is upon us we have been drowned in forced appreciation of “it is more important to Give (especially using your Visa card) than to receive.”  But amazingly enough here in central Michigan there is an actual dearth of Christmas charm, cheer, or so much as garland!  Not even at the local retail outlets, nothing!  Not a wreath or candy cane mounted to the parking lot light poles, no trees wrapped with lights… squat!  If an extra terrestrial alien crew, after completing the requisite proctologic exams on you…  dropped you off of their ship today in the middle of West Lansing, as you looked around trying to find your bearings, and some Preparation H,  you would have NO clue that today is Christmas!  Today here is no different than February 7th!

I never thought I’d find myself actually missing this, but I am.  Much in the way Ralphie’s tale from his childhood reminds us of our own, it is the not-so-subtleties of Christmas we seem to find comfort in.  And they are not present this year.  Its as if the general mood of West Lansing matches the overcast skies.  There isn’t even the promise of snow as a gift of the gloom, just continued drab with a chance of dreary.

I don’t know who or what to blame, is it the poor economy (one that has impacted this area more than most)?  Is it an overzealous desire to be PC and avoid any reference to “Christmas” for fear of retribution by the Atheist Hoards?  Or simple laziness in the face of, “It’s Christmas, it’s coming whether I do anything or not…”?  I don’t know and don’t really care, the simple reality is… Christmas ain’t here in the farmlands of Central Michigan! 

Honestly I didn’t have high expectations for this particular Christmas, but amazingly enough (if you’re measuring absolute value) the reality is beyond my expectations.

I’m hoping the spirit of Christmas will still find a way to manifest itself, but if it doesn’t I guess it will allow for all future Christmases to excel in comparison.

Merry Christmas All… 

December 25, 2011 in Biographical | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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October 01, 2011

Bear Creek

Went fly-fishing with a buddy of mine today in Colorado’s Bear Creek.  A nice day to say the least.  We saw tons of trout!  We caught OUNCES!  Well… One of us caught ounces… Your’s truly got bubkis!  Seriously I fished this one hole, where there were literally 10-15 trout lining the bottom of the stream, I floated countless drifts over them with a variety of flies… Got bumped maybe twice!

Scooter was also experiencing the same poor luck as I, until he switched to a black fly with white wings… and nailed a 12-14 inch rainbow.  That was it for the day for us.

So after getting shut out, I decided to pull out the Nikon and try to catch something…  Here’s the result.

Bear Creek 3

Bear Creek 2

Bear Creek 1

Again… didn’t really matter that I got shut out… it matters that I got out!  Into GOD’s country!

October 1, 2011 in Biographical, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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September 21, 2011

Interview Help

No I’m not looking for a new job…

I am starting a project, of both a personal self-interest as well as an historical interest.  As most of my readership is aware, I am the son of a fairly successful Naval Aviator.  Recently dad was approached by a friend of his who was interested in his “History”… he,  having been there done that and owning the tee-shirt.  Dad has never been one to share too much about his Naval Aviation history, it was simply a job after all… However, this particular query got dad to thinking that he is indeed willing now to regale us with a few of his tales and share some of his hard earned knowledge of how things were, how things should have been, and what we may learn from the experience.

To wit, he has asked his #1 son for my help.  As you know, him being a proud father and all, has some misguided thought that I am a proficient writer who despite never having worn the wings of gold, nor trapped upon a 98 thousand ton aircraft carrier is still a slightly knowledgeable Naval Aviation Historian who can assist in this pursuit.  Helping him remember critical dates and event in which he was personally involved will help jog the memories of long past exploits, will be my charge.

Obviously, I am going to leap at this opportunity.  In the ides of October we(Ginger and I) are heading back to Jacksonville for a few days to assist Mom and Dad in Mom’s requirement to return yet again to Tampa for her quarterly CT scan and ongoing cancer treatment follow-up.  I plan to use this time to begin in earnest to capture and document pieces of the Hoagy Carmichael and Carmichael family historical record.

Where I need your help faithful readers, is asking what should I ask? 

Dad flying VA-35 1969 lgWhat is most interesting in understanding the personal insight of a Man who was always there in the thick of historical events that even today continue to shape our nation’s decisions.  Events like the Iranian Hostage Crisis, where as Commanding Officer, his ship USS Midway was first on Gonzo Station, the Mayaguez Incident in May of ‘75 where his Airwing (CVW-15) was called upon to strike Kompong Som on the Cambodian Mainland, or numerous critical airstrikes in and around Hanoi in 1971.

I lived though this history, yet was not personally involved.  He lived, making this history, and I think it will be an interesting opportunity to see and hear though his recollections what it was really like, in a more human and personal way.  Not just hardware, tactics and timelines, but from a human perspective of friends, family, squadron mates, ship mates and the ever present politicians. 

What do we want to know?

-JC

September 21, 2011 in Aviation, Biographical, Military, Navy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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August 07, 2011

Annual Camping Trip!

My friends and I have a bit of an annual ritual… Every summer we all give up many of our daily trappings and retreat to the near wilds of Colorado for a few days of R&R, fly-fishing, steak eating, beer swilling and fire poking!

This year we spent 3 glorious days at the base of the fourteen thousand feet Colorado Collegiate Peaks along the Arkansas River.

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As I’ve gained in age, wisdom, and waist size… I’ve migrated away from the more rugged style of camping, sleeping in the tent on the ground in a 1972 psychedelic sleeping bag, to mooching off of a friend of mine, ‘Scooter’- and occupying one of his two double beds in his pop-up trailer- complete with heater!  (Yeah I know it’s August, but I’ll have you know that the ambient at 3:30am was indeed registering 38 degrees!)  Odd I know coming from a guy who does not wear waders when fly-fishing in 52 degree river water!

And speaking of wading, there was indeed opportunity to do that as well in Colorado’s Arkansas River… Note I specifically did not say fishing!  Because even though I had my fly rod in hand, casting any number of feathered bug-avatars into said flowing torrent… I’m convinced there were no fish to be wrangled this year!  (My wife and Clay, who both claim to have caught something, beg to differ -- I never witnessed either acquisition so I’m still convinced it was the river and not my angling skills!)  The rest of our herd is inclined to agree with me!  Lest their angling skills be impugned as well!

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But the views more than made up for my shut out!

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Alas, the closing day of the long weekend was upon us all too soon, and the campsite required we yuppie nomads to vacate the wilderness… with electric hookups, flush toilets… and coin op showers… no later than 11:00am.  We departed at 10:55 for our 2 hour journey back to civilization, all of us proud in the fact that not one of us deposited a single quarter in their Shower Racket!

Besides there is something immensely satisfying to arriving home, unloading the SUV and proceeding to spend 20 minutes in the master bath shower, rinsing off the smoke smell of 200+ store bought pine logs sacrificed to the meditation god known as the “campfire”! 

I bid you all a good evening, as I hope to dream of star-filled skies, gentle breezes, and the trickle of a nearby tributary… 

Thanks again to Scooter for setting this whole decompress up!  You’re a GIANT among men in my book!

August 7, 2011 in Biographical, Current Affairs, Photo, Travel, Weather | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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June 16, 2011

Cigar Aficionado Moment

Last Saturday Clay and Dana, became Clay and Dana Pfrangle.  I had the privilege of being their Best Man.  The wedding was a fine occasion, with the pending thunderstorms dissipating in plenty of time to facilitate the planned outdoor nuptials. 

The ceremony itself was short and sweet (as is best) and the reception provided ample opportunity to socialize, eat, and drink (not necessarily in that order).  Friends of Clay and Dana flew in from all points across our country to share in their great day.  I, of course, performed my duties flawlessly as Best Man… issuing the rings on command and issuing the proper toast to the Bride and Groom when appropriate (Again… short and sweet!).

I would have had any number of photos of the occasion as my reader’s have come to expect here on the pages of Carmichael’s Position, but alas being part of the ‘Official Party’ and not the ‘Official Photographer’ I left my trusty Nikon at home.  Besides, the two professional photogs filled a flash drive or twelve with images of the festivities, posed and un-posed… I’m looking forward to seeing some of those.  Especially the one that posed all of the party holding lit stogies and drinking 18year old single malt… suitable for rendering in the back pages of Cigar Aficionado Magazine.

Now that is not to say I didn’t capture a couple of images using my first generation iPhone- you know that 64k of resolution focused through that high quality- translucent as a cinderblock lens!

I do like the subject matter though…  In a bit of a mini-Cigar Aficionado moment, I had a friend take a picture of me, my lovely Bride Ginger and one of the 2 Best Men at our wedding, Stu.

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The second image was taken by Ginger of 4 good men, well 3 good men and me.  (L-R: Ken Schoeni, Your Humble Scribe, Stu Sweet, and the Groom himself-Clay Pfrangle… still smiling after a hour of marriage!)

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Good times…

And to Clay and Dana… I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!

June 16, 2011 in Biographical, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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May 29, 2011

On Turning 45

This past Monday I completed my 45th lap around the sun.  I was offered many o congratulatory well wish for a fun, relaxing, safe day in honor of the occasion.

I appreciated all of them… 

What I have learned over these past 45 years is that I am most appreciative of my friends and family, they are truly the best gifts one can wish.  I am blessed with truly diverse fellow travelers and I gain in my philosophical, spiritual and intellectual knowledge daily because of their teachings (intended or not).

Those that I do not agree with challenge me to buttress by own beliefs and values with fact, logic and philosophy… those that I agree with allow a calm solace of occasionally paddling with the stream for awhile.

I have multiple groups of friends, from my close circle of those who have known me since San Diego State (or earlier), my more recent poker and golfing buddies, and to some I’ve met though common interest, be it Photography, or Naval Aviation.  (Only a few within these groups actually cross pollinate, which I continue to think is generally beneficial to expanding my continuing education.)

I’ve said before I am not one to stop and take an inventory of my life… mostly out of fear I may discover I’ve been shoplifted… In general I am content with all I have experienced, and I seek to experience more.  I try to live my life by a simple (somewhat stoic) philosophy of “In life you never get what you expect, you only get what you INSPECT!” encouraging a life of the here and now, do not fret over things you cannot change or manipulate, and focus your energies on those that you can in a positive way.

As Epictetus says, “He who craves or shuns things not
under his control can neither be faithful nor free, but must himself be changed and tossed to and fro and must end by subordinating himself to others.”

“Work with what you have control of and you’ll have your hands full.”

I don’t always succeed in this premise, but it is good to know where I want to strive.

Thank you all for sharing your wisdom, in hopes that I may gain some… Isn’t it great that wisdom is one of those things you can share with others all your life an never deplete your own supply, nor ever completely fill your own vessel?

May 29, 2011 in Biographical | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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March 21, 2011

Now That’s What I Call a “Management Retreat”

The beauty of being involved with a small successful company is occasionally we have to get together, away from the daily grind to establish some plans for the future of the company… oh… and take a bit of a breather.

The two senior executives decided it would be good to get away for a bit, and were nice enough to bring the two Junior Executives along…

It was 5 days of roughing it, but hell… I’ve always been know to take one for the team!  Here’s some idea of how brutal our meetings were…

view from the lobby

Yep… 5 days at Cabo Del Sol – Fiesta Americana Resort!  With plenty of activities thrown in for good measure!  Like:

The Beach…

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The Pool!

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The Beach…

Cabo Del Sol Beach

Oh… then of course we had to play golf… 

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cabo del Sol golf pano

And then… back to the hotel… to watch some of the locals swim by…

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All to be up in the morning for the next day’s efforts!

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Four ATV at the Beach

ATV Pano

But again we had to watch how long we let these meetings run so we could make our dinner meetings too…

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Out to see the sights…

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Tip of Baja

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Oh, and whilst we were on our little cruise, wouldn’t you know it? The damn sun went down!

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Ship Sunset

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We just had to head back to the hotel and enjoy the evening…

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Poolside Night

Night Beach

Night overlook

We turned in early in preparation for a rough day… Fishing…

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Oh sure looks peaceful and serene now…

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But once around nature’s natural breakwater… uh… notsomuch!

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However… Sandy and Ryan took it all in stride…

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Me?  I was loving it!  I loved being at sea again!  Especially in 10 footers!  But hell… I had fish to catch!… so I did!

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Not big… But fun!  We ended up catching 3 Sierra Mackerel like these.  I caught one and our “Fishing Virgin” of the bunch Ryan (that’s right NEVER caught a fish before… not even on a pond!) caught 2 more.  (If you look close below you can even see the fish breaking the water near the top of the left image as Ryan reels him in.)

DSC_0083  Ryans First Fish

We got shut out the rest of the day… but that’s ok too… time on the Pacific is ALL GOOD!

One of the most shocking things we saw was as we entered the harbor.  I looked over at another returning fishing boat and was surprised to see something other than a mermaid on the swim deck!

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Yep that’s a full grown California Sea Lion!  Probably in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 Rosie O'Donnell’s… (ok maybe only 2…) but a good 1,500lbs at least!  Once he tired of their boat he made a bee line over to our transom!

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Amazing!  But alas this was not the only native that knew a returning boat often bears great treats.  Upon our arrival at the slip we were greeted by a few pelicans (my personal favorite bird).

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All in all it was a great trip… and I want to thank Sandy, Kevin, Ryan, for a fun and successful first Management Retreat!

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March 21, 2011 in Biographical, Business, Just Plain Cool, Travel | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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