Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marine Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,

But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,

"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light

Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,

That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"

Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red, white, and blue... an American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,

Or lay down my life with my sister and brother,

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,

Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,

"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you've done,

For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled.

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

[Edit: I got a comment, supposedly from the author of this poem, asking for attribution. I obviously don't have any way to verify his identity, but I also don't want to steal anyone's limelight. So, here it is.]

The poem is actually entitled "A Soldier's Christmas" and was written by Michael Marks on December 7th, 2000. The works of Mr. Marks have been featured in the Washington Times, hang in the Titan Missile Museum, and are featured on the International War Veteran's Poetry Archive at http://www.iwvpa.net/marksmI know, because I am Michael Marks. LCDR Giles simply forwarded my poem long ago and had his email signature appended at the bottom, later misinterpreted as an authorship attribution.Could you PLEASE edit this post to include "Michael Marks, copyright Dec 7, 2000" before the kind comments by LCDR Giles, as the error gets copied and sent along. Thanks for helping me clear this up!Warmest regards,Michael Marks

[End Edit]

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many

people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. Service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we

owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who

sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN

30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC,

Logistics Cell One

Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Great training class

For the last day and a half, I've been attending a class on threading in C#.  The class is taught by Jeffrey Richter, one of the partners at Wintellect.

This is an amazing class.  I feel much more prepared to write asynchronous code now.  I've been taking a lot of notes, and will be posting a few new posts on how to do multi-threaded programming.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Are you a code mercenary?

Last week, there was some discussion on blogs about what motivates developers to work.

Rob Walling presented the argument that there are things he values more than money.

Today, Dennis Forbes presents his argument that he's definitely in it for the money, and so are most of us.

I proclaim that I am a mixture of both points of view. Money is important to me, obviously, or I wouldn't ask about salary when I get new jobs.

I would say that money is not the only thing that is important to me, or even the number one priority, though. I've got data to prove it, too.

I can't share the data with you, however. Give me a call if you're curious.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The funny thing about lists

In my family, we have gotten tired of having no idea what to buy each other. All of us, spearheaded by my beautiful wife, signed up at this cool site, TheThingsIWant.com, and created gift lists.

This way, everone else knows a bunch of things that we want, and can basically pick something at random off the list, and be assured that we will enjoy the gift.

I don't know about other people, but I don't put anything on my list, unless I really want it. So, literally, anyone who knows me can pick an item completely at random from my list, and I will like it. Even if they think the present is boring, I will enjoy it.

It's funny, though. No one seems to want to use my list. Luckily, they contact my wife, who always has great gift ideas. Certainly makes me wonder why I spend the time putting things I want on my TheThingsIWant list, though.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My sentiments exactly

WO Fay, who is a combat artist in Iraq, generally posts some good stuff on his blog.  Sometimes, I disagree with the strength of his position. I think that's just a factor of my being out for several years, and him being at war.

Wednesday, though, he posted something that perfectly matches my own opinion.  Go read it.  Then and Now

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My mind has been blown today

I'm sitting in a performance engineering class today.  There was a guy who came in right before the class started, and was on the waitlist.  He managed to get a seat, because some people didn't show up.

This guy, of course, chose to sit right next to me.

45 minutes later, this guy has not once moved his hand away from his nose.  He has been snorting every 10-15 seconds since he sat down, and for the past two minutes, has been digging around in his nose.

To be fair, I don't think he's picking his nose; it appears that his nose is bleeding.  But still, get a damn tissue, dude.