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Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives.


Success in the military is described like this: A mission progresses by defining the tasks, obtaining the tools necessary to complete the task or tasks and then determining the metric for defining success. The metric, therefore, is attainable at one level and desirable at another.

Generals have used this model for centuries. All military officers strive for the desirable but often will denote success if the task is attained. We might think of the model this way: Something is better than nothing, but it is not quite everything.

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Spring arrived in a blade of wheat this afternoon. The rebirth of the organic world is here. This is spring.

Of all times of year, spring brings immortal thoughts. The cycling of life from death and then rebuilt as new life through birth is everywhere. We gaze upwards and feel the warmth of the sun. Our pale skin turns reddish and like pigments in plant cells. They are made different when sunlight enters them.

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Recently, a dairyman asked me if I knew the requirements for becoming organic. Naturally, I tried to ease his obvious insecurity with humor. I told him that he’d have to let his hair and beard grow out and start wearing tie-dye shirts with sandals. I also told him I’d be on the lookout for a Volkswagen van, since producers have to use them as their primary means of transportation if they want to become certified.

Of course, in reality, it is a serious (and often sensitive) issue. Nowadays, it seems the line between organic and non-organic producers in this country is about as thick as the line between Democrats and Republicans. Not only are they severely divided, but they forget that they have to work together.

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As my entry into the civilian world becomes easier, I am often asked this question: “What lessons did you learn in Afghanistan that can help us understand our way of life here in America?” Let me provide two answers to this question in this month’s column.

At the top of the list are opportunities. In much of the developing world, and especially in Afghanistan, residents are old soldiers, illiterate adults or children, who if fortunate are attending a school. Or written this way, nearly everyone has few opportunities at joining the global economy and improving their way of life. The Taliban’s overarching objective was (and is today) obstructing learning, thus through ignorance avoiding the public free-thought process that might challenge them, revolt and demand change. They are today targeting schools and bringing harm to teachers.

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Winter has arrived in Michigan. In weather very similar to that of Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, I have come from the cold and entered the cold.

My leave taking of Afghanistan is nearly complete. I am home physically. However, parts of me are still embedded in the U.S. military unit of soldiers, airmen and warriors. I was told by many of my friends in Afghanistan that the return home would be difficult.

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As I turn the wall calendar over to January, the days left here in a war zone are on one page – a single page. I can, as often as I want, look up on the wall and visually see a day when I will likely leave Bagram Air Field (BAF), the day I will probably leave Kabul and the day I will arrive in East Lansing, then an hour later, in Alma, Michigan.

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