Archive for the ‘c-rations’ Tag

12-10-2015 Journal– A Korean Christmas Story!   1 comment

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I’ve talked a great deal over the years about my experiences while serving in the Army. As with any young man or woman serving outside of this country, being away from home and family during the Christmas season for the first time is difficult.  In my case I was not only away from family, I was in a non-Christian county that seemed to be more than a little primitive to me.

Their religion was primarily Buddhist and the Christmas holiday meant very little to them. They at times pretended to understand but that was motivated entirely by their desire to make money from visiting Americans.

At the time I was stationed in an area that was primarily populated by rice farmers living in small villages that dotted the northern countryside. There were no paved roads and most villages only had electric power for a few hours a day.  For those of us from the United States it was like traveling back in time a hundred years.

I was living almost full time in a local village and actually had my laundry taken to a local river where it was beaten on the rocks with wooded paddles and soap.  That certainly took some getting used to for me.  My Korean friends seemed totally befuddled by the entire Christmas holiday bro-ha-ha and sat silently as I tried to explain it to them. They were interested in my stories of Christ and the Magi, but the virgin birth story had them all silently giggling a little.

Regardless I was determined to have a Christmas celebration so I asked a few of my them for their help in putting up a Christmas tree.  They agreed to help but weren’t exactly sure what I was up to. As that project was progressing I had a little old mama-san ask me through an interpreter why would any sane person put a tree inside their home. I was hard pressed to answer her because I didn’t know the reason either. They continued to humor me as I explained other peculiarities that they couldn’t quite grasp.

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A week or so later with two Korean friends I hiked up a nearby mountain near a small Buddhist temple to find a tree. We ended up dragging back the sorriest looking bush you could ever imagine, set it up in my hooch, and started to decorate it as best we could. There was a hand-made star on top of the tree (my doing) and a number of pieces of charcoal tied to the branches with twine (their doing). I never had that fully explained to me but it was what they wanted to do. It had something to do with good luck or good pregnancy or something. Since we had no electricity they suggested placing candles in and around the tree but I nixed that immediately. The last thing we needed was to burn down my hooch and a portion of the village when a little, dry, and nasty looking tree, bust  into flames.

I had some GI decorations I made from C-rations that looked stupid as hell but they loved it. Later we ate most of the decorations and drank a bottle of really cheap brandy that I’d brought along for the occasion. I presented them each with a small gift of candy and got a little kiss on the cheek from everyone.

I was still a little homesick but that weird little celebration came to mean a lot to me over the years. It was cozy, friendly, and more than a little strange but it was also genuine. They forever became part of my extended family because they’d made an effort to help get me through a very difficult time. Christmas, the holiday, had very little meaning to them but they realized how important it was to me. 

I still wonder to this day if any of them have fond memories of that night and think about it occasionally. I also hope that all of my comrades-in-arms who are away from home this Christmas are lucky enough to find some friends like I did.

Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

14 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT TIL THIS ONE

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01-30-2014 Journal Entry – Coffee Trivia II   Leave a comment

“That’s something that annoys the hell out of me- I mean if somebody says the coffee’s all ready and it isn’t” ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Yesterday in Coffee Trivia I I had quite a lot to say about my previous addictions as well as my fondness for coffee. Today you’ll receive more useless coffee information that I’m required to supply because of my addiction.  All addictions have a downside and besides tasting wonderful so does coffee.  It gives me that extra energy burst and ability to talk for long periods of time without taking a breath.  Lucky you, your here for the lecture.

My love affair with coffee didn’t start at an early age like you might think. I wasn’t permitted to drink all that much coffee as a kid because my father felt it might effect my ability to play sports. Once I left for college his control over my beverage intake was finally at an end. I found coffee to be that best friend I’d been missing. The love affair began in earnest at that time and I’ve never looked back, not once. At the time I lived with five other guys in an apartment and there wasn’t a minute of the day that the coffee pot wasn’t full,  steaming hot, and available for drinking. We never kept track but I can almost bet we drank more coffee than alcohol during those years and that’s saying something.

I eventually left school and enlisted in the army since the draft board was hot on my heels.  For the next three years both in the United States and overseas I drank enough coffee to float a battleship. There’s nothing like Army coffee, it can almost eat the enamel right off your teeth. I won’t even begin to try and explain how the Korean’s made their coffee, it was indescribable. I also learned how to make instant coffee from C-ration packets and it sucked so bad I was forced to cut my coffee consumption in the field by 10%. For me that was a major concession.

Skipping ahead a few years and all of a sudden I’m a police officer working in a profession that is known for coffee and donuts. I was never too concerned with the donuts but I thrived on the coffee for seven years. I carried a thermos of hot coffee in the car with me and I’d stop when necessary to refill during my shift. Night shifts were another story altogether. My partner and I were never without a steaming hot coffee in the car or during our lunch stops at restaurants.

So you can see how my addiction to coffee has been the one consistent thing in my life for decades. All of my other addictions were just distractions but my love of coffee remains constant and still does. So let’s get this show on the road. I thought I knew a lot about coffee but I really had no clue. Some of these facts are humorous and some aren’t but they’re all interesting.  I’ve found so much information on coffee I may be forced to increase the number of Coffee Trivia postings to four or five.

  • Flavored coffees are created after the roasting process by applying flavored oils specially created to use on coffee beans.
  • Frederick the great had his coffee made with champagne and a bit of mustard.
  • Hard Bean means the coffee was grown at an altitude above 5000 feet.
  • Hawaii is the only state of the United States in which coffee is commercially grown. Hawaii features an annual Kona Festival, coffee picking contest. Each year the winner becomes a state celebrity. In Hawaii coffee is harvested between November and April.
  • The Nicaraguan Margogpipe is the largest of all coffee beans.
  • It takes 40 coffee beans to make an espresso.
  • One coffee tree yields less than half a kilo of coffee per year.
  • A coffee tree lives for between 60 and 70 years.
  • By 1850, the manual coffee grinder found its way to most upper middle class kitchens of the U.S.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world (oil is the first.)

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” ― Dave Barry

  • Brazil produces around 40% of the world’s coffee supply.
  • A Belgian named George Washington invented instant coffee in 1906.
  • Coffee has been used as a beverage for over 700 years.
  • Coffee as a medicine reached its highest and lowest point in the 1600’s in England. Wild medical contraptions to administer a mixture of coffee and an assortment of heated butter, honey, and oil, became treatments for the sick. Soon tea replaced coffee as the national beverage.
  • Coffee beans are similar to grapes that produce wine in that they are affected by the temperature, soil conditions, altitude, rainfall, drainage and degree of ripeness when picked.

“There are three intolerable things in life – cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women…” ― Orson Welles

  • Brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, while filtered coffee contains 0.6% fat.
  • Johan Sebastian Bach wrote an opera about a woman who was addicted to coffee.
  • There is a way to brew coffee with marijuana in it and it is described as producing a “dreamy” kind of coffee buzz.
  • More than 20 million people worldwide, work in the coffee industry.
  • There are two species of coffee plant: Arabica and Robusta.

MORE TO COME