Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: April 2010


My Apologies to my readers…

Through a series of family health issues this last month, I was unable to keep up with my own schedule to put out the number of stories I wanted to.

I plan on catching back up with this now that everyone and everything is once again… alright.

Heroes Month – Maj. James F Baier (USMC)

When I was young, my mother started working for the Department of Health and Human services here in our home town of Bakersfield, Ca.  We had spent a couple years on Welfare when we moved to Bakersfield, but we actually used it for what it was meant for, and that was to help you get back on your feet.

When my mother started with the County, she made made friends right off the bat.  She was just that kind of person, and over time, one of those friends was James Baier, or Jim as he liked to be called.

Jim had a way of letting everyone know that he had everything under control.  That as long as he was in the mix, there was little that would or could go wrong.  You see… Jim was a former Marine.  Not just that, he was, in my opinion, a “Marine’s Marine”.  When I think of the attitude that Jim exuded, I always think of a line from the movie “Heartbreak Ridge”…  “Be advised. I’m mean, nasty and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round in a flea’s ass at 200 meters. So why don’t you go hump somebody elses leg, mutt face, before I push yours in.”

It would be hard for me to say that Jim was sweet, kind or gentle… I am sure he was to the right people.  But at the point where he came into my life, I think that he understood that this was not something I needed.  He saw that I was just on the verge of going in the wrong direction and needed my ass kicked a few times a week to get it back in line.  This was something that my mother was no longer able to do.  Though she tried, it was just not having the correct affect on me.  I think that he saw this and took action.

At the age of 16, and on my own, with no real direction from my mother or father (when he made the rare appearance) decided to join the Marine Corps.  Once Jim learned of this, it was all over.  He pressed me, pushed me and drilled me every time he came by the house.  It got to the point that, on a few occasions, I made sure I was not there when he came by.  Not that I did not like him, just that I did not want to be ordered around.

At the time, I did not see what he was doing to me.  I did not understand then, as is usually the case, that what he was doing was simply getting me ready for that which I needed to learn in the real world.  That which I would soon be subjected to when I climbed off that van at MCRD in San Diego.

Jim was, from my memory, not without his problems.  Like my father, he drank too much and he swore a little too much, even for me.  I always thought of him as being a little on the self destructive side and there was always something about him that seemed lonely.  That being said, there was never a better person to have on your side if you needed help or emotional support.  There was also never a worse person to have as an enemy should you discover the place to his bad side.

I was always a little jelealous of his family.  While they were people I knew, and I went to school with both of his children, I never “knew” them until later.  In the short period of time that Jim was part of my life, he made a huge impression on me and my life.  There is very little that I do today that does not occasionally cause me to think of him.

Jim passed away in, I think, 1996.  With his passing, I feel that everyone that knew him or whose path he had crossed, had lost something special.  There are even a couple people I know that did not like him, that felt a loss when he had died.

Because of the positive influence that Jim had on me, the lessons that he taught me, both directly and indirectly, and the effect he had on my family.  For that, he is included in my list of personal heroes.

Thank you Jim…  Godspeed and Sempre Fi!


Note:  If you are reading this, and you are one of Jim’s family members, you are more than welcome to email me.  I would love to talk to you.


Heroes Month – Carl Sagan

Let’s start the month out with a bang.  Or, as may be the case here, a BIG BANG.

Aside from seeing the occasional image of this goofy looking man with the big ears and bad hair standing next to various probes that NASA sent out during the 1970s, I did not put much to Carl Sagan.  He was just, from my young point of view, another one of the guys that made the things go up and take pictures.

Image courtesy of


Then, on one quiet evening in September, 1980… my world was rocked.  PBS had started a new series called COSMOS, with it’s host… none other than Dr. Carl Sagan.  The first episode was Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

It was not the fact that he was hosting it or the show by itself.  It was the WAY he spoke to me, and when you watched the show, you actually did feel like he was speaking to you, personally.  He shared not only the facts and the information, but he imparted his love for science in every show.

So… every new episode I would sit, riveted to the TV hanging on every word he uttered and absorbing every fact that he shared.  And thus my love… no, my LUST for science was born.  I could no longer look at the world and take everything for granted…  I had to know why things were the way they were.  I had to understand everything.

There were not enough books that I could read or articles to examine by Carl for me.  Every time he gave a speech, I would find a way to hear it.  Any time there was an article in a paper, I was at the library trying to find it so that I could read it.  What makes these especially a challenge, for those of you who do not recall a time before the internet, is that when I was doing this, I had to go to the library and look much of this up on cards or in magazines or on, dare I say… the dreaded microfiche.  It was not as easy as it is today to simply pull up Google and do a search.

It was, in part, because of Carl Sagan that I… and yes, it is one of the few things I am embarrassed to admit, took part in a March Against Nuclear Arms.  Somewhere there is a picture of me, carrying a sign in downtown Bakersfield, trying to abolish nuclear weapons.  I guess you could say that I was there and then, officially, a hippie.

But the most important thing I learned from him was the science.  From that one stepping point, I expanded into other areas.  Things made more sense to me and I was able to start applying the thing that I had learned as a result of Carl, to other parts of my life.

As with all good things, this too had to end, and in 1996, Carl Edward Sagan passed away.  Having followed his career for most of my life.  Been addicted to his speeches, appearances and writings and mesmerized with his personality…  it was like losing a close family member.  To be honest, I cried harder when he passed away than when my own father died.  It was that important to me.

So this is why I include Carl Sagan among my personal heroes.

We need heroes… especially today.

When you think of heroes, who do you think of?  Think for a moment and let some ideas come you your mind.

Who did you think of?  A President? Your Mother or Father?  A Close family friend? a Fellow soldier?

It does not matter, really, who you think of.  Heroes come in all shapes, sized, sexes, etc…  Simply putting a label on them is taking away from what they have done, said or meant to you as a person, to make them a hero in your mind.

I am going to share with you, the people have have come and gone through my life that I would qualify as heroes to me.  These are not only people that I know personally, but also people that whom I did not know, but have still have some effect on who I am, what I have become and influenced the type of person I am.

You might be surprised at some of what I share with you.  I would also ask that as I go through this month, sharing these stories, that you would take the time and share your stories with me here, or on my FaceBook account.

So… Let the month begin… April is “Heroes of the Samurai” month.

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