Posting has been light this month for three reasons, one you've heard and two you haven't. The usual one is that I just don't have anything to say. Politics in this country is a total shitshow with a very real possibility that that Ass the Public plans to hand over control of both houses of Congress to the bunch of Christopathic morons and political thumbsuckers.
And "foreign policy"? Shit, what can you say about trying to use aerial bombardment to defeat geography? It's like one of those electric belts that promise to undo those weeks of evenings you spent pasted onto the recliner gobbling a full bag of those little Kit-Kat bars they sell before Halloween and watching reruns of Naked and Afraid. You know it's a stupid fucking idea and so do I. What can I tell you that you don't already know, and why should I waste my time and your bandwidth doing that?
You don't want to read about soccer, and I don't want to talk about the weather or trivialities - shit, that's what Facebook is for - and that leaves home and family and history and stories.
I didn't get to the Siege of Vienna this month but I might write it up for October. It's a good story and an important battle. And I really should finish up my regular Army days; so that's history, and stories.
But the other two reasons were sort of new for me. First, the Boy has been a brass-plated pain-in-the-ass. And, second, my company sent me to Hawai'i for a week, and I'm honestly not sure which was the more trouble.
To deal with the Boy first; he's been a handful this year. Alternating between whiny/tearful/clingy-to-his-mom and then arguing with her to the point of maddening. Picking on his little sister until she shrieks and throws things in anger. He wants to play video games...and just about nothing else. If he wasn't still playing soccer and charming when he chooses to be I'd despair of him as a complete waste of good oxygen.
It was when I left for Hawai'i that things really went to hell, though, and I'll talk about that in a bit.
The Hawai'i thing was purely a job of work. Three days drilling on the street in a suburb of Honolulu followed by a couple of days poking around a development project out in east Honolulu near Koko Head. As it turned out I did have some time to poke around the island a little bit, but let me say flat-out that I remembered Honolulu as kind of a dump, and ten years' time hadn't improved it much.
I visited the islands for the first time back in the middle Oughts as part of an Army Guard training. We spent a couple of weeks dicking around the Schofield Barracks training areas whilst a Hawaiian Guard unit took our normal place up at Fort Lewis. I hope they liked the wet woods better than we liked the tropical hills of Oahu; the red dirt never came out of three pairs of fatigue trouser-knees, I got a nasty septic infection, and the impact area at Schofield is about half the size of a postage stamp and about as useful as an object for artillery training.
What little I saw of the island outside post was mostly Honolulu and its outskirts, and it impressed me as rundown and overcrowded. The touristy area around Waikiki was appalling; a junky Vegas-on-the-beach gilded with faux-Hawaiian kitsch designed to hoover dollars out of the visitors' wallets. The traffic was a nightmare.
Well, that was 2005. Almost ten years later the traffic is worse, the place more rundown, the tourists largely Japanese or Chinese but still thronging Ala Moana Boulevard in their tourist outfits (t-shirt, baggy shorts, flip-flops) still looking overheated and under-exercised, still looking either dazed or vaguely dissatisfied, the fake-Hawaiian-tourist-traps still frantically sucking cash. The parks were probably the worst; you couldn't find a major park without a dozen tents or hootches or piles of assorted junk and dirty clothes. Honolulu had a lot of homeless people ten years ago, but now the place seemed teeming with them.
Probably the defining Honolulu moment came within hours of my arrival. My boss, who had flown out there to drum up business, was driving towards the closet-space we called the "Honolulu office" located near the older city center. We turned a corner onto Market Street and there he was, the youngish hobo with his wild mop of filthy hair and his pants down around his ankles.
That's right. He was taking a dump right there, in front of God and everybody, in the gutter on the north side of Market Street at two in the afternoon on a Sunday. And not just a hasty little crap-and-run deal, either. No, from the small hillock of used food in the gutter our boy had been working on that one for a while.
My boss was revolted. I just laughed. Aloha, welcome to Tropical Paradise, hope you enjoy our casual Island hospitality.
But I'll tell you more about that in a bit.