Well, I'm tired!! A late night last night, and then up at 4:45am to get on the road to Pendleton. And a great day packing swag for Iraqis. I want to publicly thank Jim Hake of www.spiritofamerica.net for pulling this together, and more, for letting me do this. I can pack medic bags in my sleep now...and I'm looking forward to doing it again. The crowd was far larger than I feared (am I the only one who worries for the first 20 minutes of my own party that no one else will show?), but still smaller than I hoped. I'd guess there were 20 volunteers, matched by an equal number of green-uniformed Marines, who ranged from a petite (really, she was like 5'1", there's no other word) blonde woman to a guy who had to be 6'4". Both the Marines and the volunteers were amazing; energetic, always moving, swarming over the piles of stuff and reducing them to a stack of stuffed school bags and a pile of empty boxes. The Marine commanders, a Top Sgt. and Col. (I'll keep names out of this for now, but may add them in later) were impressive to me - arrogant as I am - because of their obvious intelligence and attention. They missed nothing the whole day. My cohort - the Chaya Venice-lunching crowd - doesn't understand the energy and intelligence that those who run the military have and that they somehow unlock in these kids. Or maybe it was always that way, and we just didn't know. Celebrity sightings included Jim Hake, Lt. Smash (who thinks the frisbees will have the biggest impact), Da Goddess Her Own Self (who has a renewed appreciation for camouflage - and look what she's done to the place over at cat-hating Acidman's!!), and Gerard Van der Leun, who kept me in stitches the whole day. But the accomplishment will show up on Gerard's blog, when he posts the picture he took (I spaced and left the camera home) of the giant pile of kits of medical equipment stretching across the yard toward the containers. Each kit was sadly less complete than what I carry in my car (OK, they have a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff). But in many neighborhoods, they may well be most of the medical gear available to the families and kids who live there. Kids who will now have school supplies (and frisbees!!). And the Marines - the U.S. Marines - will have given it to them. I think stuffing bags and helping that happen is worth spending a day away from billable work to do. And I'm dying to do it again.