Tag Archives: MacGyver

If Only MacGyvering a Solution to Life’s Problems with a Swiss Army Knife and Duct Tape Worked for Global Conflicts

As first noted in a column nearly eight years ago one of my favorite television shows growing up was MacGyver.

I enjoyed the show so much that I even dressed up as MacGyver for Halloween one year. Additionally, I have carried a Swiss Army knife that I got for Christmas in my pocket for over 35 years since, one never knows when it will be needed, as noted in my first MacGyver column back in 2013.

Inspired by my love of the television show MacGyver, Old Red has been in my pocket for over 30 years.
Photo R. Anderson

Sure, it could be easy to say that I liked MacGyver because the actor playing the title character and I shared the same haircut, last name and love of Swiss Army knives, but a better explanation for the show’s appeal was the way that difficult problems were solved using simple household items, elbow grease and brain power.

To be clear I am talking about old school Richard Dean Anderson MacGyver, and not that rebooted version of MacGyver that came out a few years back.

The show was instrumental in showing that science and brainpower could often overcome firepower so there was a positive message being presented as the Cold War was drawing to a close.

As I was watching the recent news coverage of the fall of Afghanistan, I was reminded of the Season One MacGyver episode called To be a Man. You know the one where MacGyver travels to Afghanistan and battles wits with Soviet backed forces.
Photo R. Anderson

As I was watching the recent news coverage of the fall of Afghanistan, I was reminded of the Season One MacGyver episode called To be a Man.

For those readers who may be too young to remember, before the United States tried to reshape Afghanistan, the Soviet Union gave it a go back in the 1980s.

The issue of Soviet occupied Afghanistan was addressed by Hollywood in such films as The Living Daylights, Rambo III, and Charlie Wilson’s War to name a few.

In The Living Daylights, which came out in 1987, James Bond, played for the first time by Timothy Dalton teams up with Mujahadin freedom fighters to battle the Soviets and even manages to blow up a bridge by dropping a bomb from the cargo hold of a moving airplane to help the freedom fighter escape the Soviet forces.

A year after James Bond defeated the Soviets, Hollywood once again took a swing at the conflict using another film franchise. In Rambo III, Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone, heads to Afghanistan to rescue his former commander and his longtime best friend, Col. Sam Trautman, from a Soviet Army colonel.

During the mid to late 80s many shows and movies took aim at the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan for plot inspirations. One such cinematic take involved sending Rambo into the rocky countryside to rescue his former commanding officer and to prove that Rambo knew how to ride a horse. If only Adrian could have seen him. Oh wait, wrong franchise.
Photo R. Anderson

This should not be confused with the plot of Rambo II where, Rambo battles Soviet troops in Vietnam and has to rescue prisoners of war.

Back to Rambo III, our hero of uttering words with few syllables manages to rescue his mentor and help a local band of Afghan rebels fight against Soviet forces who are threatening to destroy their village.

Chalk two up for the fictional good guys.

Using the fresh lens of the 21st Century, and with the United States six-years into what would turn into a 20-year war in Afghanistan, the 2007 movie Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Forrest Gump, I mean Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts, told the true story of how the United States came to be involved in the 20th Century conflict by siding with the Afghan people in their fight against the Soviet Union through unofficial channels.

Of the three movies, Charlie Wilson’s War is likely the best reflection of the conflict between the Soviets and the Afghan people but it lacks that certain Swiss Army inspired wit.

That is where the man, the myth, the MacGyver enters the picture.  Of course, MacGyver was in Afghanistan before Mr. Bond, James Bond and Rambo. In the 1986 episode To be a Man MacGyver finds himself on a secret mission in Afghanistan to retrieve a downed satellite before it falls into the hands of the Soviets. While on the mission, MacGyver is shot and wounded. An Afghan woman and her son risk their lives to nurse MacGyver back to health.

To repay their kindness, a wounded MacGyver must now outwit the Russian Army to complete his mission and ensure the safety of the mother and her son by helping them cross the border into Pakistan.

While MacGyver was a work of fiction, I could not help but think of how so many Afghan citizens who risked their lives to help the American forces over the past two decades now face an uncertain future as they try to seek refuge in another country to avoid being killed by the Taliban.

In fact, in each of the films and television shows from the 80s dealing with Afghanistan the Americans, and in James Bond’s case, the British were the clear good guys helping  rescue people in need. Sadly, reality is often not as noble as Hollywood scripts.

According to government officials there are plans to provide safe haven for thousands of people who worked with the United States troops over the past two decades, but the speed of the retreat and leaving of Afghanistan has many wondering whether there is enough time to get everyone out according to the timeline laid out in those plans.

As the graph above illustrates, the more things change in Afghanistan, the more they stay the same. With the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban once again are there to fill the void as the did following the retreat of Soviet forces in the late 20th Century.
Graphic R. Anderson

While there will likely be future movies that address the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, and all of bad optics that followed, one need only watch the news each night to see the accounts of so many people suffering as the vacuum left by the departure of the United States gets filled by the Taliban.

I am not going to get into the politics of whether we should have gone to Afghanistan in the first place, or if we should be leaving when we are. There will be plenty of time to cover that in the years ahead.

The United States joins a short list of world powers who tried and failed to change Afghanistan.

In the 19th Century it was the British. In the 20th Century it was the Soviet Union, aka modern-day Russia.

And, in the early 21st Century it was the United States trying to imprint a vision of a path forward on a country that seems like it does not really want outside help.

While the world continues to battle a health pandemic it is now faced with a potential expanded refugee pandemic brought about by the rapid fall of the government of Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban.

Although I am steering clear of the politics, and the blame game, following the departure of United States forces, I feel I must comment on the stories being floated in certain circles about the refuges from Afghanistan “invading people’s towns.”

The “they are coming for your jobs and your wives” narrative is a common response from people who are trying to sow fear about anyone who doesn’t look and talk like them.

It is not based in reality, and only shows the ignorance of the people who both peddle in such nonsense, as well as those who fall for it.

There are bad people of all races, creeds and religions, so trying to lump all refuges from any place as criminals and rapists is just flat out wrong.

In terms of knowing refugees from Afghanistan, I have some experience on that subject.

When I moved to Florida in the third grade, I met Omar. Omar’s family fled Soviet occupied Afghanistan and settled in Florida, which could not have been easy for them.

Omar was in Ms. Taylor’s class with me and was one of my best friends from third grade through high school. Omar lived a few streets over from me and was someone I spent a lot of time with.

We sat together on the school bus through middle school and freshmen year of high school. Once I started driving to school, I would often give Omar and other friends rides home.

Sadly, as is too often the case, I lost touch with Omar shortly after college.

I had many friends from many different backgrounds throughout my life and they helped share their cultures and traditions with me which in turn made me a more rounded person as a result.

Sadly, too many people seem to only want to hang out with people who look, talk and think just like them. That isolationist approach helps lead to breeding grounds of group speak and misinformation where someone on TV can claim that all refugees are bad, and the sheep will believe it without giving it a second thought.

As a quick history lesson, unless someone is 100 percent Native American, everyone living in the United States comes from an immigrant and/or refugee background. Some people’s ancestors immigrated here by choice, while others were forced to come here against their will.

Regardless of what brought them here, the simple fact remains that the United States was built by immigrants and refugees.

On the big and small screen, James Bond, Rambo, Charlie Wilson and MacGyver all fought their battles and won for the most part in under two hours.

In the current unfolding story, the quest for a crisp solution and happy ending for the good guys in the latest Afghanistan chapter seems a little cloudier and more complicated.

In a pinch, tweezers from a Swiss Army Knife can be used to fix loose screws on a pair of sunglasses. Unfortunately, they are not as good at solving geopolitical issues.
Photo R. Anderson

If only, reality was as simple as being able to solve the problems of foreign conflicts with gadgets from Q Branch, a bow and arrow and some grunted dialogue, a secret slush fund for black ops, or a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape.

If history is any indication there will likely be more outside forces that come to try to tame Afghanistan in the coming years. Of course, it seems unlikely that they will succeed where so many others have failed.

The current conditions in Afghanistan are both troubling and a tragedy, but they certainly should not have been a total surprise to any students of history. After all, those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the urge to watch some old episodes of MacGyver after reaching out to an old friend. Where did I put that MacGyver wig anyway?

Copyright 2021 R. Anderson

Triple B Hits the Century Mark

If you happen to be reading this right now, it means that you have arrived at the 100th column entry here at Triple B.

Now, 100 columns is certainly a milestone worth noting and as it got closer there were increased thoughts at the Triple B Gigaplex regarding the best way to celebrate it.

The first thought of how to celebrate the occasion was actually to not celebrate it at all.

Let’s call this the “act like you’ve been there before” approach.

In the act like you’ve been there approach one just continues doing what they have always done without drawing attention to reaching a particular milestone such as say the 100th entry made since January.

For example, instead of talking about it being the 100th column the space could be devoted to discussing the fact that the 2014 Major League Baseball schedule was released yesterday and includes the Houston Astros opening the season at home against the New York Yankees.

The 2014 Astros schedule also gives me the chance to see the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals from the air conditioned comfort of Minute Maid Park.

Or instead of pointing out that this is the 100th column we could talk about the cheating scandal that is rocking NASCAR and has led to a shake-up in which teams get to compete for the coveted championship.

Another topic we could cover is the total disappointing effort put out by the Washington Redskins in Monday Night Football despite us going to the trouble of getting a special cookie cake for the occasion to go along with a tray of imported cheese, rosemary crackers and pinwheels.

Instead of tasting sweet like victory, this Washington Redskins chocolate chip cookie cake tasted bitter after a lackluster effort by the Redskins in Monday Night Football. But that is not what we are here to talk about. Photo R. Anderson
Instead of tasting sweet like victory, this Washington Redskins chocolate chip cookie cake tasted bitter after a lackluster effort by the Redskins in Monday Night Football. But that is not what we are here to talk about.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course as many on field celebrations show, the act like you have been there approach is often thrown out the window in favor of the “party like it’s 1999 approach.”

One particular example of the excessive celebration in baseball is the walk off win.

As the name implies a walk-off win occurs when the teams simply walk off the field after the home team has scored a decisive run in the bottom of the ninth inning that leads to a victory.

I have never really understood baseball teams that choreograph routines for walk off celebrations. I get the emotion of the moment and the fact that the victory is secured but when some teams have set roles for people to play during a walk off celebration such as who get to catch the batting helmet as the runner touches home things have gone too far.

With the act like you’ve been there approach ruled out thoughts on how to celebrate turned to the television clip show approach.

I am sure everyone has watched a television show at one time or another that was comprised of clips from previous shows as the actors on the show “looked back” at pivotal moments of the past year.

This approach usually involves a contrived set-up that allows for the seamless inclusion of remember when moments that serve as flashbacks for the viewer.

One of my favorite shows growing up, MacGyver, was notorious for the clip show approach. It would never fail that each season would include a look back at shows and events which sometimes happened as far back as the episode that preceded the clip show.

A MacGyver clip show would usually involve the main characters in some sort of a jam and then they would realize they had gotten out of worse scenarios in the past by saying something like, “Remember when MacGyver disarmed that thermonuclear device with a bottle cap and a whisker from a Russian Dwarf Hamster?”

And then a clip would be shown of MacGyver disarming said device earlier that season armed with a Swiss Army Knife, a bottle cap and of course that all important non conductive whisker from a Russian Dwarf Hamster.

Okay, to my knowledge Macgyver never disarmed a thermonuclear device with a hamster whisker. But if he did, and there was footage of that, I would certainly deem that to be clip show worthy.

So if we were to take the clip show approach here I would say something like remember when we talked about how bad the Astros are this year?

And of course that phrase would have been hyperlinked so that you could navigate back there to read the previous article about when we talked about how bad the Astros were.

Although I think many of the past 99 columns referred to how bad the Astros were this year so that would be a lot of hyperlinks to have to go back and add.

So instead of talking about the Astros we could say remember when we talked about (fill in the blank)? And of course the link would magically transport you back to reread that particular article.

I was never really a big fan of the clip show approach when MacGyver did it and I am definitely not going to do it now since it always struck me as a cheap way for the writers to not really have to work hard at coming up with new material.

So we aren’t taking any shortcuts here, although remember when we talked about…

With the act like you’ve been there before approach and the clip show approach being ruled out we had to think of a third way to celebrate the milestone of reaching 100 columns.

What better way to celebrate 100 columns than with some cake. Photo R. Anderson
What better way to celebrate 100 columns than with some cake.
Photo R. Anderson

That led us to the third way to mark the occasion of reaching our 100th column, we bought a cake and put some candles on it.

I mean who doesn’t love baked goods? After all, remember a few paragraphs up when we were talking about a Washington Redskins cookie cake?

And when the cake is filled with Boston Cream one really can’t go wrong. (By the way remember when we talked about Boston?)

So, there you have it, the 100th post here at Triple B.

Here’s to many more to come as we offer observations from the cheap seats, the beach seats and everywhere in between.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cake to eat. Of course, if you had been here yesterday I could have offered you a slice.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

MacGyvering a Solution to Life’s Problems

One of my favorite television shows growing up was MacGyver.

Sure, it could be easy to say that I liked MacGyver because the actor playing the title character and I shared the same haircut, last name and love of Swiss Army Knives, but a better explanation for the show’s appeal was the way that difficult problems were solved using simple household items, elbow grease and brain power.

The show was instrumental in showing that science and brainpower could often overcome firepower so there was a positive message being presented as the Cold War was drawing to a close.

One of my favorite shows growing up was "MacGyver." Recently I got to harness the power of my inner MacGyver to fix so faulty lenses. Photo R. Anderson
One of my favorite shows growing up was “MacGyver.” Recently I got to harness the power of my inner MacGyver to fix some faulty lenses.
Photo R. Anderson

Plus, MacGyver drove a Jeep which was cool except for the later seasons when he had the square headlight version of the Jeep. I digress, but seriously the square headlight years of Jeep were certainly a dark period in the Jeep timeline.

Putting the Ugly Duckling Jeep aside, MacGyver taught me that a Swiss Army Knife can certainly come in handy as I recently discovered once again.

The other day one of the screws on my sunglasses came loose and was threatening to disengage from the rest of the frame holding my oh so expensive, need them to see, polarized lenses.

Now, normally this situation would call for one of those eyeglass repair kits to be utilized. Ironically I recently purchased a new eyeglass repair kit to bring the total number of said kits that I own up to three.

Ideally I would of had an eyeglass repair kit with me when my sunglasses got a lose screw. Instead, I tried a similar tool. Photo R. Anderson
Ideally I would of had an eyeglass repair kit with me when my sunglasses got a loose screw. Instead, I tried a similar tool.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, despite being the proud owner of three eyeglass repair kits, none of them were with me when the screw came loose.

So I asked some female colleagues if they happened to have an eyeglass repair kit on them since a) many of them wear glasses and b) they all carry large purses which can hold many contingency supplies.

Sadly, none of the colleagues had any eyeglass repair kits on them so I was faced with the potential of having to wait to repair the sunglasses after I got home.

Then, I remembered my trusty Swiss Army Knife that has been a staple in my pocket for around a quarter of a century if not longer.

So why have I had a Swiss Army Knife in my pocket for over 25 years, you ask? After watching MacGyver, and seeing all of the cool things that he did with his Swiss Army Knife, I asked for one for Christmas one year.

After convincing my mom that I was responsible and could handle ownership of a sharp knife without “shooting my eye out” I was presented with a shiny new Swiss Army Knife “Tinker” model to call my own.

Of course a few minutes after trying to open all of the blades at once like the display knives in the stores,  I found out just how sharp the knife was and cut my finger as my mom and grandmother looked on.  I at first tried to deny that my new Christmas present had drawn blood but it was soon hard to hide the red stuff trickling down my finger.

Old Red has been in my pocket for over 25 years even though we got off to a rough start. Photo R. Anderson
Old Red has been in my pocket for over 25 years even though we got off to a rough start.
Photo R. Anderson

I still have a scar to this day from that incident but the ensuing years have proved to be less blood drawing and more functional whenever I use the knife.

So, as I looked at my wounded sunglasses I thought that surely there was something on my knife that could be used to fix the glasses MacGyver style.

I first thought of using one of the blades as a screwdriver since the actual screwdriver attachment on the knife would be too wide. This option was quickly dismissed since I did not really want to be sitting at my desk with a blade drawn and have coworkers panic or think something was going on that required them to duck and run.

So with the blades ruled out my thought turned to the tweezers attachment. While the tweezers are there to help remove splinters when I am out doing manly things in the woods with only my knife and a palm frond for shade, I figured they might do the trick.

Okay, so as much as I enjoy watching survival shows on the Discovery Channel, truth be told, I am never out in the woods with only my knife and a palm frond. But I have certainly had to use the tweezers through the years while moving various jumpers on computer hard drives and other air conditioned tasks.

In a pinch, tweezers from a Swiss Army Knife can be used to fix lose screws on a pair of sunglasses. Photo R. Anderson
In a pinch, tweezers from a Swiss Army Knife can be used to fix loose screws on a pair of sunglasses.
Photo R. Anderson

So with the tweezers in hand I was able to successfully repair the glasses and place the wayward screw back where it belonged so as to avoid an incident where the lens would fall out.

Granted, MacGyver probably would have found a way to incorporate duct tape into the repair but needless to say I was feeling pretty accomplished with my ingenuity and started thinking of other things that I could solve MacGyver style.

The first thought that came to mind was trying to figure out a solution to the Astros and their lost season. But I soon realized that it would take a whole lot of duct tape to fix that situation and even MacGyver himself with all of the resources of the Phoenix Foundation behind him would have trouble with that one.

So the Astros will just need to continue on the present course until a better solution can be found. I guess the team could try a promotion where they gave away duct tape to help draw a crowd but there really is no sense in making a sticky situation even worse.

So I came up short in my attempt to fix other problems MacGyver style but I am sure there will come a time when my Swiss Army Knife and I are once again called upon to fix some injustice or at least some loose screws.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the urge to watch some old episodes of MacGyver. Where did I put that MacGyver wig anyway?

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson