Why The Restaurant Fight Club Scene in Pig?


When I reached that scene, I almost stopped watching. It just seemed too over the top. It’s early in them movie so there’s no need for a spoiler alert. Nicolas Cage is trying to get some information where his Pig is and in order to do that, he must participate in a secret, underground fight club of restaurant workers.

Like, really?

Then again, I write about aliens, so who am I to scoff? But there had to be a reason for it. I’ve read reviews where people say the actual scenes weren’t important, it was the overall theme that was important. But writers don’t just do scenes for no reason. At least they shouldn’t. If one thing writing for a living for three decades has taught me it’s that every scene must serve a purpose. Actually, it should serve two: arc character and move the plot forward.

So what this scene of Cage putting his hands behind his back and getting pummeled while on the clock?

Because, besides moving the plot in terms of getting the next clue to where his pig is, it’s representative of grief. That grief is accepting pain and not fighting back. Of absorbing every horrible blow that is thrown at you and not battling it, but accepting, because that is the only way we can actually move forward in life. Cage suffered terrible grief, but while it beat him down, he persevered. Thus the scene actually makes great sense, despite stretching the bounds of credulity.

It’s not John Wick meets a Pig. It’s about Grief.


We just watched Pig, starring Nicolas Cage. It’s an intriguing movie that achieves something rather remarkable in an odd way.

I must be honest that about fifteen minutes in when it went secret, underground, restaurant worker fight club, I was like: “WTF?” and almost done with it.

I think a huge problem for this movie is no one seems to know how to market it. It doesn’t neatly fit into a genre or summary.

In a way, it’s a series of scenes, some of which don’t make much sense. Except in terms of the overall theme. Which is one that’s very difficult to cover: Grief.

One of the hard things about grief is that it means someone you loved is no longer alive. Thus, the predicate is that you love. There are many people who will not completely love another person or even a pet, for fear of losing them. That potential pain negates the opening up of one’s self in the moment to care about someone else.

Nicholas Cage’s character is a man in grief over the loss of his wife. He’s become a recluse who has a pig as his best friend. When the pig is stolen, unlike John Wick who proceeds to wantonly kill (indicating he never really loved the dog since revenge is a sign of a sociopath, if not psychopath), Cage looks for his pig. This leads him on a journey into the restaurant world of Portland that stretches credulity; but it doesn’t matter. The point is that several characters he runs into along the way have moments of true enlightenment. The story is about love, grief, memories and how it shapes us.

I don’t want to do spoilers, but one that really impressed me was the ending, where a Bruce Springsteen song that has always seemed to be about one thing, becomes about something else altogether.

Having experienced intense grief and sharing it, I can tell you the reactions ring true and bring up painful memories. But the pain means there was also love and life.

Cage’s acting is excellent, along with that of the rest of the cast.

The First Step In Preparation: THE AREA STUDY

Area Study

It Focuses your effort and saves time & money.

Everyone’s situation is different. We’re different individuals. We have different households/situations. We live in different places with varying climate, terrain, and possible natural and man-made disasters. Thus, before we begin to ‘prepare’, we must know what we’re preparing for and what we’re working with.

By doing a good Area Study, you save time and money because you’ve focused on your priorities. You need to know your assets and your threats. You also have to get the right supplies, training, and gear for your specific situation.

In Special Forces, what made us elite was our planning and preparation. The first thing we did when we received a mission packet was conduct an Area Study of the Area of Operations (AO). In the same way, you need to conduct an Area Study of your home, work, and school Areas of Operation.

First, we’ll learn what an Area Study is and why we need it. Then there will be checklists to fill out that will get us started in the right direction. This is only a brief sampling of the more extensive information in The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide, which has been updated as of July 2021.

Area Studies can have non-emergency uses, such as if we’re considering moving to a new place. An Area Study can provide valuable decision-making data.

YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM: What special skills and background do you have? The people on your team? These include medical, construction, problem solving, military, etc. The key is to know what you can and can’t do, and what those around you can and can’t do. These skills include medical, military, gardening, hunting, survival training and experience, pilot, boat operation, camping, weapons, cooking, land navigation, swimming, communication (personal and technical), construction, problem solving, fire starting, knot tying, the list goes on and on. It also includes physical condition of yourself and your team members.

Evaluate your Area of Operations: Think about it. You live in a tsunami zone. Have you actually driven your evacuation route? How long does it take? Have you figured out the quickest escape route on foot. You work on the 40th floor of a skyscraper. Do you ever look around and ask yourself: how do I get out of here if the normal means of egress are blocked? While schools run active shooter drills, what about the work place?

How close are you to the nearest military base? Nearest police station? Firehouse? Hospital? Do you know where the closest emergency room is? How long it will take to get there? Could you drive the route in the dark? How quickly can an ambulance respond to your location?

Where is your closest source of drinkable water if your drinking supply is contaminated? This often occurs during natural disasters especially floods. Are you prepared to a base level with emergency water?

You want to examine your environment for a lot of things. What can harm you? What can help you? What can hide you? What are your enabling factors? What are your disabling factors? What is the terrain and how can it help you or hamper you in movement? What are the roads, trails, rail, etc. What effect does your environment have on you? What are choke points, particularly river crossings (bridges and tunnels)?

Then you must must be concerned with the man-made and natural events you should prepare for in order of likelihood.

80% of natural disasters also include flooding. Do you live in a flood zone? Would you be cut off if your area floods? You can use the FEMA flood map search to determine this: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search

Note that there are many areas that were not in flood zones, that are now included. A new map as of 2020 includes 6 million more homes than previously mapped.

There are also man-made disasters. Here is a partial list: Car accident, boat/ferry accident, train/subway accident, tall building evacuation, fire, power outage, burglary, robbery, carjacking, civil unrests/riots, terrorist attack, active shooter, firearms accidents, nuclear power plant accident, nuclear weapons, biological weapons and infectious diseases, chemical weapons/accident, industrial accident.

Are your power lines buried? What industries are in your area? What are you downwind, downstream of? What toxic materials and/or gases would be emitted if there was an accident? Is there a rail line or waterway near you? What is transported on those trains/barges? Where is the closest nuclear power plant and/or storage area? Are there labs in your area that work with dangerous biological agents? What about the local university? Are you in the flood zone of a dam breaking?

This is just the basic beginning. But by answering these questions you can begin to frame the priority of preparation. This will determine your plans and what supplies and equipment you need. Of course, there are baseline survival supplies every household should have, such as water, first aid kit, emergency radio, etc. but beyond that, an Area Study will give focus.

More on all of this in The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide where I walk you through all these steps with explanations and checklists. I hope you find this useful.


How to Prepare for and Deal with FLOODING

Think how big a gallon jug is? Consider hundreds of thousands of those jugs, each weighing over 8 pounds, moving. That’s power. Add in the following equation:

Six inches of moving water will take a person down. One foot of moving water can sweep a car away. In the desert. In fact, deserts are particularly prone to flash floods due to rocky terrain and lack of vegetation and dirt to absorb rainfall.

Having commanded a Special Forces A-Team that was focused on Maritime Operations, I learned first-hand the power of water. To demonstrate this, the instructors at the Royal Danish Navy Fromankorpset Combat Swim School had us try to swim to land near the mouth of a river. It easily pushed us back out to sea despite our best efforts.

How Likely Is a Flood In Your Area? FEMA has a web site where you can check the flood map for your location. Remember, though, that if you are traveling, you don’t know the possibilities along roads and in different areas. FEMA Flood Map Service Center

Note that there are many areas that were not in flood zones, that are now included because of rising water levels. A new map as of 2020 includes 6 million more homes than previously mapped.

There are three main types of floods: Coastal (surge) Flood River (fluvial) Flood Surface (pluvial) Flood).

COASTAL: Occurs on coast-lines of large bodies of water as the name implies. It is the result of extreme tides caused by severe weather. Storm surge pushes water onto shore. A storm surge timed with a high tide can be devastating. There are 3 levels: Minor: some beach erosion but no major damage. Moderate: more beach erosion and some damage to homes and businesses. Major: Serious threat to life and property. Large scale beach erosion. Roads will be flooded and structures damaged. Remember that a tidal surge can cause flooding.

When we lived on Hilton Head Island, many people were unaware that almost the entire island is a flood zone. When one friend who lived on the beach heard that there was a possibility of a twelve-foot storm surge, she thought that meant 12 feet horizontal (inland). We had to explain that meant 12 feet vertical which then reaches out horizontally.

If you live in a tidal zone, make sure you understand tide tables. Not all tides are the same. There are ‘spring’ tides which have nothing to do with spring, but rather when the Earth, moon and Sun are in alignment. This occurs twice a month and produces higher than usual tides. Combine a spring tide with storm surge and you have a disaster.

RIVER FLOOD: This happens when excessive rainfall over a period of time overwhelms a river’s capacity to carry the water. It can also be caused by snow melt, ice jams, and debris jams. A dam failure can cause an abrupt and catastrophic form of river flood. And vice versa: a river flood can cause dam and levee failures downstream. There are two types of river floods: Overbank flooding is when the water continues to rise over the banks. Flash flooding occurs when there is an intense, high velocity rainfall. These often are doubly dangerous as debris can be carried by the flood water. Remember, it might not be raining where you are, but the river can flood from rain and run off upstream.

The Big Thompson River flood in Colorado in 1976 killed 144 people. 12 inches of rain fell in four hours. The river is usually an average of eighteen inches deep. After this sudden rain, a wall of water 20 feet high swept through the canyon at 14 miles an hour. Farther down stream there had been no rain at all so this surprised many. The car below was crushed by the river flood.

More and more dams are aging and degrading. During your AREA STUDY, you should know whether you live downstream of a dam and what the potential is. I have a free short read about when the St. Francis Dam failed.

SURFACE FLOOD: This happens separate from an existing body of water. Torrential rainfall overwhelms the area’s normal way of channeling water. Intense rain saturates an urban drainage system and water back flows into streets and structures. Run off isn’t absorbed by the ground and the water level rises. (our house flooded at over a mile high in altitude, on top of a ridge, in Boulder, Colorado, because the rocky ground couldn’t absorb a short, intense period of rain— the ground water simply rose up into it).

A big concern with a surface flood is when the sewage system overflows. Also, floods can cause many stored toxins to be inundated and poison the flood waters. NEVER DRINK FLOOD WATER. This is why maintaining an adequate emergency supply of drinking water is critical as tap water sources will be contaminated. The same with a filtering system. More on water in that slideshow.

A Flood Watch means a flood is possible A Flood Warning means a flood is happening Flood Alerts

If you have time, move valuables to the highest level before evacuating. When evacuating, move to higher ground, away from water sources such as rivers or lakes. NEVER go around a barrier on a road during a flood. If evacuating by car avoid standing water. Drive slowly. If walking, never go through moving water. Remember earlier when I gave how much water weighed? Mass times velocity will knock you off your feet and sweep you into deeper water.

Never drive through a flooded road or bridge. Do not stay in a flooded car. If your car is swept away or submerged, stay calm and break the window to get out or go through the sun roof. Hold your breath, open the door, and swim for the surface. You will be in the current. Point your feet downstream. Go over obstacles, never under. Strive to angle toward dry ground but don’t fight directly against the current. If stuck above a flash flood, such as in a tree, stay there and wait for rescue.

While on the water, always wear your life vest. It’s the equivalent of putting your seat belt on in a car. Too many people have drowned with a life vest left on the boat. The very nature of an accident means it’s not anticipated. Therefore, you probably won’t have a chance to put it on before you’re in the water. I wrote an article on how reading a tweet about always wearing a life vest would have saved someone’s friends lives, I started wearing mine all the time and there’s a good chance it saved my life when I capsized in the fast-moving Little River in TN while kayaking.

A good tool to have within reach of your car is a combination seat belt cutter and glass breaker. Your Home If you are caught at home and can’t evacuate: Pack any coolers with as much ice as possible and use this first before opening fridge once power goes out. Fill bathtubs with water. Make sure all vehicles are topped off. Know where the closest shelter for you and pets is. Unplug everything. Do not use tap water after a storm until certain it’s not contaminated.

It’s too late to prepare once the flood is on you. There will also be a huge run of panicked people buying many of these same items, so order it now so you have it ready. This sounds trite, but after every flood, most people list these following items as things they wished they’d had on hand. Not only for the flood itself, but as importantly, for living afterwards in the chaos.

What To Have Ready BEFORE

Water: Enough for at least three days. Minimum is one gallon per person, per day. Double that for warm climates. 8 average 500ml water bottles is just over one gallon. A case of water (24 bottles) is the minimum three days supply per person. I recommend at least two cases per person. WATER

You must have a way of quickly filtering water for your family. Assume all water you find in nature is contaminated. Assume your tap water is contaminated until it is confirmed otherwise.

Non-perishables for three days minimum. Food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Don’t have food that will make you thirsty. Plan for infants and special dietary requirements. Keep separate and out of normal food rotation. Note expiration dates.

Being able to see in the dark is key. Batteries tend to be heavy and get used up but AA/AAA are light and small. Also, with solar, you can use rechargeable lights.

Know what the emergency broadcast stations are. Have a hand crank radio/flashlight combo.

Power will be out. ATMs won’t work Store computer systems will have crashed. It will be a cash environment for a while.

Know how to turn off the water coming into the house. How to turn off the power. Where the safe spots in the house are. Where the family IRP- immediate rally point— outside the house where all will gather is. Who the out of area emergency point of contact is for the family.

I constantly update free, downloadable slideshows on my web site for preparation and survival and other topics. FREE SLIDESHOWS

Tomorrow War: Great Ideas, So-So Execution

I have to be honest; I fast-forwarded through a good portion of this. Amazon and Netflix put out a lot of movies and they often have the most intriguing one-liners or premises, then are done on what is obviously a shoe-string budget.

Tomorrow War wasn’t done on a shoestring budget but it was unevenly made. There were times, as a writer, I saw threads develop, that never delivered.

The premise is intriguing: people from 2050 are coming back and recruiting people from our time to fight in their timeline. However, thinking on that, my next thought is: really? That’s the best use you can make of time travel? Cannon fodder?

Another gripe? Much like the awful Starship Troopers, it seems we can’t make tanks any more. Yes, they had F-35 jets and fancy guns, but no tanks? I mean tankers call Infantry “crunchies”. Seems these Whitespikes were crunchable.

Any time travel story has to have holes in it. I always like Bruce Willis explaining time travel to his younger self in Loopers. In my time travel series, I just have it happen. I handle the paradoxes by having the mantra that history has to stay the same. That’s the mission of the Time Patrol.

Here, the future doesn’t seem to want to change their own past so they are better prepared for their present problem. They just want bodies who are told literally that they need no training. Just grab a gun and go. Huh? Pretty much up there with the opening of Enemy at the Gate where every other man gets the gun, then the other guy scavenges off the dead.

Kudoes to Sam Richardson who was wonderful in Veep. He added a great sense of humor to it all, although, again, his background opened up a thread that just died. I really got the sense that the original screenplay was different and got mangled in production.

I was really hoping Tunguska would be the source of the problem, but no, something else. And the way the current powers-that-be shrugged off the problem once the time machine was gone seemed weird. Of course, we’re shrugging off Climate Change as the Pacific Northwest burns, the Southwest is in an epic drought and the Gulf of Mexico is on fire, so, yeah. Probably true.

It was mildly entertaining but nowhere near as good as Edge of Tomorrow.

Publication Day: No Quarter

The fifth Will Kane book, NO QUARTER, is out today in eBook, paperback, and, something new, hardcover. And, it’s also in Kindle Unlimited.

This was a tough book to write because Kane goes through another transition in it. We do finally find out who the triggerman was on the Cambodia mission years previously, but Kane, in the present, is dealing with an adversary who seems to be one step ahead of him. As all my books do now, the story evolved with deeper implications for the figured into the plot.

The ending, all leaves Kane’s future wide open. My goal in the next book will be more action in a Jack Reacher style where Kane runs into trouble on the road. But who knows?

The book before this one, Hell of a Town, is only .99 today, through the 4th

With the 4th of July coming up, Independence Day (Time Patrol) is free starting today through Sunday, the 4th. Roland’s mission in that book to Gettysburg on the 4th, 1863, is one of my favorites. You can listen to it for free on Soundcloud, here.

With Amazon now opening up hardcover publication, I have put The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide into hardcover. I also plan on doing a 25th Anniversary special edition hardcover of Area 51, with a new forward about how I came up with the idea so many years ago and how the storyline evolved. Hard as it is to believe, it was originally slotted to be a stand-alone title. The second in a two-book deal with Random House. And the original title wasn’t Area 51.

With the holiday weekend fast approaching, let’s all stay safe! Here’s a link to an article I wrote about always wearing a life vest when on the water and why I decided to do it and how it might have saved my life. Treat a life vest like the seat belt in a car. It does no good if it’s not on!

For those who haven’t heard, Gus passed at the end of last month. He had a great 14 years and will always be in our hearts. Scout is doing well and our new rescue puppy, Maggie, a long-haired German Shepherd who is just over four months old, had surgery last week (part of the reason she was a rescue as she had been slated to be a service dog, but was rejected) and is healing well although she hates the cone of shame as much as Gus did.

Enjoy the weekend!


And Scout.

And Maggie.



If disaster struck, whom would you want at your side, helping you? A doctor? Lawyer? Policeman? Teacher? While they all have special skills, I submit that the overwhelming choice would be a Special Forces Green Beret. Are you Prepared?


S – Size up the situation, your surroundings, yourself, and your equipment. U – Use All Your Senses; Undue Haste Makes Waste R – Remember Where You Are V – Vanquish Fear and Panic I – Improvise V – Value Living A – Act Like the Natives L – Live by Your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills In Special Forces we’re taught that the word SURVIVAL provides you with the first letters of the keys you need

The Three Stages of Disaster Mild Disaster: Do you know what to do if you were snowed in for a few days? Or the power was out? Moderate Disaster: Can you survive being stranded in your car for several days? An extended power outage? Extreme Disaster: Are you ready for a large Catastrophe?

Simple rules of: You can go 3 minutes without air. You can go 3 hours without regulated body temperate. You can go 3 days without water. You can go 3 weeks without food. PRIORITIZE ACCORDINGLY

Do you have a plan in place and the Equipment ready to Deal with disaster? Clothing Footwear Grab & Go Bag Survival Gear

Can you make an A-Team? In a Catastrophe who can you count on? I am not a fan of picking strangers for your survival team (Rick learned this!). The level of trust needed, especially in an extreme emergency, is very, very high. One way to figure out your team: Ask yourself: do I trust this person, these people, with my life?

One of many Things You’ll Need Grab & Go Bag Know how much you can carry Plan your gear based on situation and environment— conduct an Area Study now. Have several bags Car, Home, Place of Work Pre-Pack Food, Water, Tools, Tent, Sleeping bag, Fire, Flashlight, Ziplock bags, Gloves, I.D., Weapons Make sure its water-repellant if not waterproof

No matter how hard it gets, Never quit! A survivor must have: Above all a determination to survive. All else is secondary. Fear serves a purpose, but too much fear can paralyze.

Okay. Let’s Take a Break! Overwhelmed? We all are. That’s why I’ve written my survival manuals Step by step, common sense, guides to everything that just overwhelmed you. So you can become prepared via one, easily accomplished, checklist at a time. We can do it!

More Free Information I constantly update free, downloadable slideshows like this on my web site for preparation and survival and other topics. www.bobmayer.com/workshops Also, I conduct Area Study workshops for those interested in properly preparing for their specific circumstances.

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at www.bobmayer.com/workshops

Hot Weather Preparation and Survival

Hot Weather

Heat can kill directly via heatstroke. It can also increase your chances of succumbing to a heart condition, stroke or other breathing problems. Hundreds in the US die each year during heat waves. It is estimated that number will only grow higher as temperatures continue, on average, to increase. Hot Weather Preparation

Your body wants to maintain a steady core temperature of 98.6 F. When you begin to heat up, your nervous system diverts blood away from your internal organs and to your skin to radiate heat away. Sweat glands release water, which has a cooling effect as it evaporates from your skin.

The best preparation to prevent heat injuries and death is to stay cool. Get out of the sun. Don’t over-exert yourself.

Keep air-conditioning at a livable level. However, if there is a power outage or you don’t have air-conditioning, there are things to keep in mind: Lower floors are always cooler as heat rises. Close shades and lower blinds. Go somewhere that does have air conditioning such as a mall, shelter or theater.

Use fans in your house to promote circulation of air. In the evening and at night, open windows to let in cooler air, then close them in the morning along with blinds and shades. Turn off extra sources of heat such as lights and appliances. Don’t use the stove or oven.

Eat lighter meals during a heat wave so the body doesn’t have work as hard digesting, producing more internal heat. Keep your skin covered. If outdoors, wear a hat to protect from sunlight. Wear lighter colors to reflect sunlight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they are diuretics and dehydrate you.

Remember your pets. They also suffer in a heat wave. Put them in the shower. Give them a cool, wet towel to lie on. Make sure they have plenty of water to drink.

Over three-quarters of your body is composed of fluid. Perspiration is not the only way you lose water. We actually lose more water just by breathing. And you can’t stop that loss. We lose around 2 to 4 cups of water a day by exhaling (16 cups equal one gallon). We lose about 2 cups via perspiration. We lose one half to a full cup just from the soles of our feet. We lose six cups via urination. You lose a more than half a gallon of water a day just existing; more depending on the weather and your activity level.

Dehydration results from inadequate replacement of lost body fluids. It decreases your efficiency and, if injured, increases your susceptibility to shock.

Symptoms of dehydration are: Dark urine with a very strong odor. Low urine output. Dark, sunken eyes. Fatigue and Emotional instability. Delayed capillary refill in fingernail beds. Trench line down center of tongue. Thirst. Last on the list because you are already 2 percent dehydrated by the time you crave fluids.

Treatment: Replace the water as you lose it. Trying to make up a deficit is difficult in an emergency situation, and thirst is not a sign of how much water you need. Most people cannot comfortably drink more than 1 liter of water at a time. Nor do you want to. So, even when not thirsty, drink small amounts of water at regular intervals each hour to prevent dehydration.

Drink sufficient water but don’t overdo it. Over- hydration is a potentially fatal condition. You drink too much water for your kidneys to process. It’s not just the amount, but how quickly you drink the water. Drinking too much water increases the amount of water in your blood. This dilutes the electrolytes, especially sodium. Sodium is critical in balancing the fluid inside and outside of cells. When there is an imbalance from over-hydration, sodium moves inside the cells, causing them to swell. This is particularly dangerous to your brain cells.

Thus one of the first symptoms of over- hydration is a headache. Nausea and vomiting are also symptoms. If it gets worse, more symptoms follow, including high blood pressure, confusion, double vision, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness and cramping. If not caught in time, seizures will occur, brain damage, coma and even death

If you are under physical and mental stress or subject to severe conditions, increase your water intake. Drink enough liquids to maintain a urine output of at least half a quart every 24 hours.

For dehydration that is short of heat stroke: Drink two quarts of water, juice or sports drinks in 2 to 4 hours, not all at once. Small sips every few minutes work best. If vomiting, try ice chips, popsicles and small sips. If also suffering from diarrhea, stay away from using sports drinks as the sugar can make it worse.

The breakdown of the body’s heat regulatory system causes a heat stroke. It occurs when your core body temperature goes to 104 degrees. Other heat injuries, such as cramps or dehydration, do not always precede a heatstroke. Heat stroke is extremely dangerous. As with all other dangerous conditions, call 911, evacuate or get profession help if possible.

Heat Stroke Symptoms: Swollen, beet-red face. Reddened whites of eyes. Victim not sweating. Red, hot and dry skin. Unconsciousness or delirium, which can cause pallor, a bluish color to lips and nail beds (cyanosis), and cool skin.

Heat Stroke Treatment: Fan air over the victim while wetting skin with water. Apply ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck, and back. These areas have more blood vessels on average, so cooling them can reduce the body temperature. Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water. Or a stream or lake. Be sure to wet the victim’s head.

Expect, during cooling: Vomiting. Diarrhea. Struggling. Shivering. Shouting. Prolonged unconsciousness. Rebound heatstroke within 48 hours. Cardiac arrest; be ready to perform CPR. Bottom line: Get to an ER or doctor ASAP! Hot Weather Preparation and Survival

STAY COOL! Hot Weather Preparation and Survival

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at www.bobmayer.com/workshops

Memorial Day Remembrance: Survival Guide Free and More

Today we remember fallen comrades. I think of two team-mates, Jim and Dave, who were KIA on deployments but didn’t know it until years later when disease that can be traced directly to toxins they were exposed to during combat deployments ravaged their bodies and took them slowly. May they finally rest in peace.

ODA 055

In honor of Memorial Day, today and tomorrow only, 31 May and 1 June, the Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide is free on Kindle.

Today is the last day for Black Tuesday at .99. Valentines Day (Time Patrol) is also free today. And the latest Area 51 book, Earth Abides is only .99

On a sad note, Cool Gus passed away peacefully this past week. He was the kindest and most mellow dog ever. I can’t recall him ever barking aggressively at another dog, never mind a person. His calm and loving presence is greatly missed. We have Scout and new addition, Maggie, a long-haired German Shepherd who we received a call about and immediately drove to South Carolina to get. We sponsor a working dog for veterans every year and Maggie was supposed to fulfill that, but the veteran said he couldn’t take her at the last moment and she also has a problem with a left eye that will eventually require surgery so we got her since all her siblings were gone and she was heading to a kennel. We’d sworn no more puppies, but Scout wouldn’t have done alone well since she’s always a little bit scared. They’re already running around together like nuts and playing hard, so it’s working out well.

Take a moment and remember the fallen and enjoy your day off!


And Scout

And Maggie

A Man and His Dog, Cool Gus


Some years ago, I was finally diagnosed with what used to be called Asperger’s. It helped explain a lot of things. When our son died in 2007, I had a difficult time processing my grief because normal ways of expressing emotion are foreign to me.

Not long after Corey died, we got a puppy, an English Yellow Lab. Gus helped me deal with the grief which I couldn’t express. Given the way my brain works, I kept writing, because that routine, that need to express, is something that can’t be stopped and is a form of escapism. But now I had Gus who I had to take care of, and was with me 24/7, and sleeping under my desk and we went for runs in the forests of the Pacific Northwest together. He’d sit in my Jeep, looking straight ahead and tourists would take pictures of him, because he was so calm and regal. Gus was a dog who emanated peacefulness and earned the moniker Cool Gus. Because his entire emotional being was facing outwards, he taught me to feel my grief and was with me every step of the way from denial to acceptance.

I didn’t know how to share what I felt with people, not even my wife or friends. I’d dealt with my feelings all my adult life by writing to escape. Gus didn’t care under the desk–but he got me out on my kayak, promptly capsizing it the first time we launched in Puget Sound, and made me laugh. He got me back to the water and our son, Corey, was in the water. We’d go to the beach and I throw him a ball and he’d swam after it and one time pushed it so far out that I had to go into the freezing water and get him back. And I felt Corey all around me in the water and I began to cry and my salty tears fell into the salt of the ocean and Gus heard me and turned around and I carried him to the beach and we watched the red ball float out till it was a speck under the setting sun and Gus and I sat on a pile of driftwood while I cried so hard and he leaned into me and licked the tears from my face. We let the ball go because it was Corey and I wondered if Gus pushed it out there so I could watch it float away and know that everything we love does float away eventually, but we can keep it all around us once we express the pain and keep the love. Cool Gus gave me that. Then I said–let’s go home, Gus.

Cool Gus passed the other morning after almost 14 years. In my mind’s eye, I go back to that beach and see not a set of human footprints and a dog’s but just four paw prints because Gus carried me until I could walk on my own. He rescued me because he had no expectations; he didn’t wonder why I was sad but couldn’t cry. He didn’t wonder why I wrote and wrote; he just sat under my desk with his head on my feet.

We miss you, Gus.