Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Playing in the Big Leagues

"Burning up, 
Don't know just how far that I can go
Soon be home, 
Only just a few miles down the road

I can make it, I know, I can
You broke the boy in me 
But you won't break the man

I can see a new horizon 
Underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying
 Higher and higher..." ~ John Parr

Ain't it nifty, today I turned 50!  Since I go to school all day with people mostly younger than me, several times today I was asked, "How does it feel?"  I answered honestly, "Like an accomplishment."  Some of you reading this know me personally.  You have seen part of my story; which part depends on when we spent time together.  Those who remember my youth can attest to wide rumors that I "might not see 30."  Others of you know well that my early 40's were uncommonly 'tumultuous.'  I've been around the world twice, eaten from dumpsters, and gotten high with kings.  "Nomad, vagabond, call me what you will."  Now, after my first two weeks of being an archaeologist enrolled in the Cultural and Environmental Resource Management Graduate Program at Central Washington University, I realize that I'm still just an egg waiting to hatch.  Was graduation really only five months ago?  

I'm postponing my celebration, as tonight I chose to attend a fascinating (to me) lecture by Dr. Paul Blanton entitled, "Arroyos in the West Foster Creek Watershed: Geomorphology, Climate, Land Use, and Stream Management in an Ice Age Landscape."  From Dr. Blanton:

Arroyos, or entrenched stream channels cut into unconsolidated sediments to form broad, flat-bottomed valleys with steep slopes are familiar features of the American Southwest, but may form in other locations where conditions are favorable. Arroyo incision is of concern in stream management as it often leads to sedimentation, water quality impairment, and loss of riparian and wetland function. Such incision is present in the West Foster Creek watershed on the Waterville Plateau in Douglas County, Washington in a late Pleistocene glacial lake bed and associated erodible sediment, and is a local management concern because of its impact on fish and wildlife habitat in particular. 
This study used a GIS (Geographic Information System) approach to map arroyo incision in the Foster Creek watershed, and assess its cause, initiation, and development, using historical airphotos from 1939 to present, precipitation, surficial geology, and land use data, and historical accounts along with interviews with land managers. Such historical landscape analysis is an example of the usefulness of taking longer time frames (historic and Quaternary) into account in order to provide insights for the assessment, management, and restoration of aquatic and riparian systems in the present day.

This initial quarter I'm taking REM 501 Introduction to Resource Management, REM 506 Resource Management Colloquium, ANTH 521 Cultural Resource Management, and ANTH 596, an independent study course that my professor and I designed entitled, Analytical Bias in Lithic Analysis. Yeah, I'm still a big nerd these days; still the boy who wants to know everything.

"You've been all over, and it's been all over you."

My Mom told the beginning of my story on my Facebook page today:

David Raymond Davis, On Your 50th Birthday
Our Story: 50 years ago today....Count them....FIFTY! October 1st, 1964
Your Mamma was barely 17 years old, your daddy barely 18. The day is indelibly imprinted in my being.....Fall was so beautiful in Valparaiso, IN that year.....beautiful leaves as I walked all the way to the Dr. and home....he told me it would be a while yet before you came into the world. What did he know?
I went shopping with my Mother and when we got home I was standing on the steps of 503 Elm and as my Mom handed me a bag of groceries, my water broke. I'm standing there, and she says, "Well, call me when you know what is going on." What was going on.....what did I know? I think it was one of the only times I ever saw Grama Davis you are leaving! Only my Mother....
We lived upstairs from your Grama and Grandpa Davis, Grama kept running up the stairs to see how I was doing.....I was So WITHOUT A CLUE.....I called your dad and we were in the hospital by seven.
I was so scared....they didn't allow the dads to be with you back then. A nurse, Miss Moneypenny, (I kid you not) came to talk to me when I started to cry and said now listen to me....if you do that you'll be here all night....she said not to cry. I didn't, I was too scared of her. THEN they whacked me up with some big drugs....they did that in 1964 too!
You were born at 11:46 pm, and I remember them hitting the mirror that was pointed to where you were born, so I couldn't see. I asked to see you and they said you were going to the nursery. Then, I went to sleep.....I kept asking for you, but they kept giving me shots, and finally the Dr. came in the next morning.....they made my roommate leave the room. He told me there was a problem, and I still didn't really understand. Now that I think about it, they must have thought I'd freak out or something, because I was so young.....I just wanted to see you.
They brought you too me, and I wasn't shocked or freaking out, I just wanted to smell you and kiss your soft head. The Dr. and nurse tried to explain to me that there would be surgeries ahead, but that you would be okay. They took you back away......And THEN I CRIED!
Since that day, I've loved you....there hasn't been a day, when I haven't....even when you were wholly unlikeable, I LOVED YOU.....I did from the moment I saw you.....I DO TODAY! I've prayed for you, I've worried about you, I've lived to see you happy as you are today! I've believed all of your life, that you would be someone amazing! Happy 50th Birthday, to both of us my Davey. I WISH I HAD BEEN A BETTER MOM.....I did the best I knew how! I wish I could hug your neck! Your are my firstborn.....the child of teenaged love. If your Dad were here today, he would be so proud of you! I know I AM! 
Love, Mom

Regular readers know how much I love stories, and that one was a terrific birthday present.  I'm lucky that I had a mother and father who love(d) me.  Speaking of Dad, I found this gem on my brother's Facebook page recently, and I've been waiting for a chance to share it.  The picture below was taken when my father was a very young man in Vietnam:

Thousand yard stare

First Lieutenant, Armor, David O. Davis
A Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary
Date Action: 14 September 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam

Reason: For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. First Lieutenant Davis distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 14 September 1968 while serving as platoon leader of the first platoon of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary. On that date, the troop was engaged on a Combat operation near the Village of Phu Thuen, located in the Quang Ngai Province. While moving on the operation, the troop made contact with a battalion size force of North Vietnamese regulars. During an assault, one of Lieutenant Davis’ vehicles was hit by hostile recoilless rifle fire. Disregarding his own safety, Lieutenant Davis positioned his vehicle directly in front of the crippled track, effectively making the heavy volumes of enemy automatic weapons fire. He then dismounted and assisted in the evacuation of the severely wounded crewmen who were still aboard the first vehicle. Remounting his vehicle, Lieutenant Davis reorganized his platoon and continued the assault. First Lieutenant Davis’ devotion to duty, professional competence, and personal heroism are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United State Army.
First Lieutenant, Armor, David O. Davis
A Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary
Date Action: 24 September 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam

Reason: for gallantry in action against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. First Lieutenant Davis distinguished himself by intrepid actions of 24 September 1968 while serving as a platoon leader of the first platoon of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary. On that date, the troop was engaged with a numerically superior enemy force six miles northwest of Tam Ky. As Lieutenant Davis was leading his platoon against an enemy anti-tank position, one of his platoon’s vehicles was hit by an enemy anti-tank round, which wounded the crew and disabled the vehicle. Lieutenant Davis immediately maneuvered his vehicle into a position to shield the disabled vehicle from the intense enemy fire while also providing covering fire for the evacuation of the wounded. His vehicle was also hit by an enemy anti-tank round, disabling his vehicle and wounding his crew. Once again, he provided covering fire as the wounded were evacuated. Completing that task, he boarded another vehicle and continued the assault. Once again, his vehicle was hit by an enemy anti-tank round. Remaining on the disabled vehicle, he placed suppressive fire on the insurgents as the wounded were evacuated. The troop then withdrew a short distance to employ tactical air strikes against the insurgents. During the air strikes, Lieutenant Davis reorganized what was left of his platoon and took command of the infantry heavy weapons platoon. Armed with only his .45 caliber pistol, he then led a dismounted assault against the hostile anti-tank position, successfully neutralizing the enemy emplacement. First Lieutenant Davis’ personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself the Americal Division and the United States Army.  

Well, now you know a little more about where I come from; about my story.  Stories are going to get real important in my life soon.  But that's a tale for another time.  It's nearly midnight now, 22 minutes until my official birthday at 11:46 pm.  I hope you enjoyed this interlude, and the blog will shortly return to its regularly scheduled programming.

Dave ~ Thanks for your time.  I hope we get to know each other better.