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Perspective

(Today, I’m honored to bring you a guest post from one of my favorite authors — JL Curtis — Amanda.)

Watching the various meltdowns over the last couple of weeks has caused me to take a hard look at ‘my’ background and reactions to people. I didn’t grow up rich, or even well off. My first job, after mowing yards, was literally shoveling shit in a veterinary clinic. That more than anything else told me I wanted an education. Growing up in the south in the 60s, during the Vietnam era, tended to focus one’s mind, as we monthly heard about another death of a local boy killed in Nam. I went off to college in 69, got caught up in the lottery after they dropped the 1S deferment. Ended up in the Navy. Spent 21 years there, got shot at a few times, got the crap scared out of me a few more times, buried friends quite a few times.

Where am I going with this? Well, it’s a big part of who I am, and what I believe today. Whether you’re in 4 years or 40 years, the military changes you. You’re taught personal responsibility, teamwork, work ethic, and cooperation. In the military, skin color is NOT an issue. Male/female, or other ‘orientation’ is NOT an issue, neither is religion or lack of it. It is the person’s ability to do their job. Even more critical in aviation, where your lives literally depend on those on the airplane with you, much like the battle buddy in the foxhole, your ONLY concern is that they know what they are doing, and take personal responsibility for their own performance. Another part that plays heavily with me, is in aviation, one admits their mistakes. Honesty is necessary to keep your happy ass alive. The last thing you want is a rule named after you, because that means you did something stupid and died as a result. In a multi-place airplane, that means you took others with you.

Do we have egos? Yes. If you’re good at what you do, you’re proud of that. You don’t necessarily flaunt it, but it comes through when dealing with people that are not professional, don’t/won’t admit their mistakes, or won’t listen to reason. The other thing that plays into our attitudes is that most of us have traveled extensively outside the US, sometimes to places where the natives do not like us, and are doing their damnest to kill us. We’ve seen the brutality and the capability of people to actually do inhumanities to man, in any number of ways. We’ve seen the repression of societies, of women (especially in the middle east), and other countries. We’ve seen the crackdowns on free speech, we’ve seen the changes in the world over the last thirty years or more. We’ve encountered good people and bad people from multiple cultures, and dealt with them appropriately. We tend to follow the world news, because we want to know what is going on (because that did impact how/when we did our jobs).

We tend to pitch in to get things done (teamwork, remember), tend to lead by example, and don’t bitch about how bad we feel, because we know it’s not going to do any good and we don’t really want sympathy. We know others that are much worse off than we are, or died. We tend to be early, find humor in ‘strange’ places and things, and tend to like our backs to a wall, so we see what is coming at us. We’re ‘comfortable’ with who we are, and tend to gravitate to folks that we see exhibiting those same qualities.

We’re also ‘short’ with people that don’t measure up to our standards. We have better things to do with our time than waste it on them. We will go out of our way to support friends, or people we don’t even know, if they need help. We don’t ask for honors for that, and actually don’t want people to know we’ve helped out. We’re an anathema to many, especially those in education and the pundits, simply because they can’t put us in a neat little box and ignore us. We know too much, have seen too much, and done too much. We can be your best friend, or your worst enemy, and we have no problem confronting you if we have issues. That is what we were taught. That is who we are. We are proud to be Americans. That oath we took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic doesn’t have an expiration date, and only death will release us from that.

Kicking the soapbox back in the corner…

Check out some of Jim’s books.

The Grey Man – Vignettes

(This is the first book of Jim’s I ever read and I’ve been a fan of his Grey Man series ever since — ASG)

The Bad Guys Don’t Stand a Chance

Texas rancher and lawman John Cronin knows what it means to be tough. A decorated Vietnam vet with connections to law enforcement agencies all around the world, he’s thwarted smugglers and drug plots across the globe with more than a few narrow escapes. Whether it’s a sniper competition or teaching the feds a thing or two about police work, Cronin doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Of course, this slow-talking lawman’s biggest challenge yet might be when his granddaughter Jesse falls in love with a Marine. When drug smugglers stir up trouble in Cronin’s backyard and try to kill Jesse and her new beau, all hell breaks loose, and Cronin and his granddaughter are just the people to set things right.

The Grey Man – Twilight

(I believe this is the latest book in the series. At least it is the latest one I’ve bought — ASG)

Never count an old man out, even when he’s hanging up his hat!

Deputy Sheriff John Cronin is looking forward to a quiet retirement, working on the ranch, and handing it off to his granddaughter Jesse. And he’s got to pass on a generation worth of investigations, but it’s not as easy as handing over the case files and the keys. First, he’s got to train Aaron Miller to fill his role, from the way to dress for rural juries to the finer points of stakeouts and murder investigations, Texas style.

Between the oil patch workers and the cartel’s drug runners, there are plenty of loose ends for him to tie off… or terminate…

To check out Jim’s other books, go to his Amazon Author Page.

 

 

37 Comments
  1. I agree. There is NOTHING like cleaning out kennels to convince one that there are better jobs out there. Although in my case, it was hosing them out and pushing the semi-liquid with a squeegee in a hot summer sun.

    Couldn’t complain, though – all three of my older sisters had done the same in their turn. They all found other jobs at a young age, too (cafeteria kitchen dish washing, in my case; just as hot and steamy, but not nearly as pungent). You probably got paid more in cash, however, as my Dad was the local veterinarian; we worked for room and board. Well, two bits more weekly allowance.

    June 12, 2018
    • Since I’ve been cleaning my own kennels for closing on five decades, having somehow found this preferable to what I got ejumacated in…. first, what the heck is wrong with me? and second, if you gotta use a squeegee, your kennels are designed wrong. Then again, I could count those I’ve seen designed for efficient cleanup on one hand. If you don’t like needless work, the ditch/drain goes BEHIND the kennel (and is square, unless you like backsplash, and is open, unless you enjoy roto-rootering hair once a week), and the concrete gets pressure-washed with the slope, front to back (you don’t even need to go inside ’em). And if 1/4″:12″ slope doesn’t dry quickly on its own, you need to use more bleach. Set up like that, I’d routinely scoop and sterilize 1700 square feet of concrete in half an hour (and it’d wind up so clean you could eat off it).

      On the flipside, much of my writing gets done whilst scooping shit. This probably explains my characters’ chronic difficulties. 😀

      June 12, 2018
      • Well, the drain was designed the way you describe. But, thinking about it, without an auxiliary pump (expensive), Dad just could not get all that much pressure. The hospital was served by a very local water company – I think there were maybe 75-100 people total on the system – and there was about 25 feet of head from the tank up the hill.

        The runs were a 6 x 2 arrangement, the most that could be fit on the lot (along with the clinical part and inside cages). Back to back. So you started on the “off” side and worked around three sides of a square. Area… my estimate from memory is probably between 1300 and 1500 square feet, but that was a long time ago. About half an hour for that, depending on the happiness or lack thereof of the current residents…

        June 12, 2018
    • I was the head honcho of the shoveling team cleaning out the dropping pits on a poultry farm one summer. Got lucky on that; the previous year it was so hot (How hot was it, Johnny?) the dumping area liquified. And STUNK.

      June 12, 2018
      • Anyone here worked in a tannery? Otherwise, I think Sam has “won” worst summer job. Tannery is the only thing I can imagine that would beat it. (By job, I mean commercial things – combat zones excepted; I know many here have experienced that – for which my thanks are given, though not sufficient…)

        June 12, 2018
  2. *grins* An excellent post to point non-military authors and such at, when you want to talk about “writing the other”!

    Because here you can clearly see what’s important to a military man, and what they value… and goodness gracious, do some folks who don’t know any military at all get that wrong.

    June 12, 2018
    • The conclusion is obvious: We need more military men!

      June 12, 2018
  3. Uncle Lar #

    I cannot speak highly enough of the Grey Man series, five out so far.
    Southwestern ranching, police work, a bit of special ops thrown in, and he always gets the details about firearms right. Egregious errors about gun stuff will get a book walled by me quicker than anything, and I really don’t want to have to replace another Kindle.
    Strong characterization, with capable yet human men and women.

    June 12, 2018
    • Brett Baker #

      Define right, though. I’ve had to explain (Or tried to) many times, no that isn’t true anymore about that gun jamming all the time. Or we have better bullets now than in 1900, that article you read back decades ago isn’t accurate any more…… You probably have a bigger list than I do of problems explaining guns to people!:)

      June 12, 2018
      • Draven #

        or explaining to people that people’s M4 carbines rusted so the action doesn’t work in Iraq isn’t the fault of the weapon design and has nothing to do with their malfunctions in the 1960s….

        June 12, 2018
        • Mike Houst #

          Salt and sand suck.

          June 12, 2018
          • Draven #

            naah, that problem can be documented as REMFs who weren’t cleaning their rifles and command ended up having to force their units to give them time to clean them. pretty well documented at the time. Apparently some officers and NCOs in some of these units thought a soldier sitting around cleaning their weapon could be doing something more productive.

            June 12, 2018
            • I think I will show my husband that. He will likely snarl. Or roll his eyes. Because that’s he kind of shit that gets people killed.

              June 12, 2018
      • Christopher M. Chupik #

        Heck, some people still think guns use cordite.

        June 12, 2018
        • Draven #

          well, I’m willing to give ‘the whiff of cordite’ as a term of art… eh Amanda? 😀

          June 12, 2018
        • mrsizer #

          Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask someone: Wwhat is the stuff that burns in cartridges called these days? Is “gun powder” a generic term or does it still refer to the stuff you can make with guano?

          June 12, 2018
          • Draven #

            it is a generic term.

            June 12, 2018
          • Uncle Lar #

            Generically speaking it’s gunpowder, but to be precise the modern stuff in properly termed smokeless powder while the old timey muzzle loading stuff is black powder. And a major component of black powder is potassium nitrate, aka saltpeter, which can be extracted from manure piles or the walls of caves.

            June 12, 2018
            • OldNFO #

              Lar is exactly right. Now days there are probably a hundred different varieties of ‘powder’ out there. So you can get away with calling it gunpowder in your writing… 🙂

              June 12, 2018
              • mrsizer #

                Thanks!

                June 13, 2018
        • Uncle Lar #

          Well, you do have to admit that “the smell of cordite hung thick in the air” has a certain gravitas to it, no matter how anachronistic it is in fact.

          June 12, 2018
          • Eh, I’ll disagree with Uncle Lar on “the smell of cordite hung thick in the air” having gravitas despite being antagonistic. Just a personal pet peeve of mine (though not enough to get a book tabled or thrown). I tend to go with something to the effect of “the room reeked of blood and burned gunpowder.”

            June 12, 2018
      • Brett – “right” means it was not only vetted by people who’ve been there and done that in the right time frame, from cops to interesting military guys, but for some shots, alpha readers actually went out and duplicated time, pressure altitude, wind, and other conditions…

        Down to “Hey! That dumpster really is right there behind the bank! I saw it on google earth!” … “I know. I drove by to confirm.”

        June 12, 2018
        • Uncle Lar #

          And that right there was something that old Louis L’Amour was known for. If he described a landscape it was one he’d seen himself. And he walked the streets of many a ghost town that he then resurrected in his books.
          Our own Peter Grant is also carrying on that tradition, blessings on him, with locations, firearms, and all sorts of period lore in his western series.

          June 12, 2018
    • Draven #

      sometimes they are simple errors too, ones that people would know after a few range sessions…

      June 12, 2018
      • mrsizer #

        The difference between “concealment” and “cover”. I really want to go to a junk-yard that will let me shoot old cars. And somewhere to shoot at walls. My house is structural brick with lathe-and-plaster walls. I doubt a .22 from a pistol would make it through the walls, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Will a 9mm go through cinder block? It won’t go through my outside walls (again, not betting life on it, though).

        I don’t want someone to tell me these things; I want to experiment (as safely as possible; ricochets could be an issue).

        June 13, 2018
        • Draven #

          to get the answers to that stuff, I refer you to The Box O Truth.

          June 13, 2018
        • snelson134 #

          9mm shot from what? Pistol? probably not. Something like a Schmeisser / Uzi / Pistol caliber rifle, where there’s a little more barrel to accelerate the bullet? very possibly. Hollow-point, Jacketed hollow-point, or FMJ factors too.

          June 14, 2018
  4. So, does today’s post count as a Cutis-y post?

    June 12, 2018
    • I’d just post a simple groan, but I wouldn’t want you thinking I was being Curt with you for punning. So you get the Curtis-y of a two-sentence comment.

      June 12, 2018
    • Well, it is by an aviator named Curtis, right?

      June 12, 2018
    • OldNFO #

      Oh ‘thank’ you TOS… LOL And thanks to Amanda for posting my brain droppings.

      June 12, 2018
  5. The last thing you want is a rule named after you

    OTOH, having a maneuver named after you could be pretty awesome. Think “Thach Weave” or “Pugache’vs Cobra”…

    June 12, 2018
  6. c4c

    June 12, 2018
  7. I just discovered your stories this year, Mr. Curtis. I really love them.

    June 14, 2018
  8. 23skidoo

    June 16, 2018

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