Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Musings (Page 2 of 43)

On this 4th of July

As I sit here this morning, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an American. It is a topic that has often been discussed in my family. You see, we personify what America is — a melting pot. My great-grandmother (maybe it was great-great?), a full-blooded Cherokee, was born on the Trail of Tears. She later married and Irishman and raised her family in Oklahoma. On my mother’s side of the family, some of our ancestors came over from England long before the Revolutionary War. Others immigrated from Ireland and Scotland before the Civil War. Still others came over after that, from parts of Europe like Germany and the Netherlands. In every instance, other than the Cherokee, they came to this land by choice because they wanted the freedom this country offered. Freedom of religion, speech, assembly, etc. They wanted the freedom to make a life for themselves and their families.

These same people fought for this country. I’ve traced them to the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812. Hanging on the wall across from me are my great-great grandfather’s discharge from the Union Army as well as the history of the battles he served in. Those papers belonged to one Nathaniel Foster Wilkinson from New Jersey. He was my mother’s paternal great-grandfather. On her paternal side, Absolam Schall also served in the Grand Army of the Republic and, ironically in some ways, fought in many of the same battles as Nathaniel, even though he was with one of the Pennsylvania regiments. He was also wounded in the same battle — Second Bull Run — in the same leg (right).

Someone from our family has served in each major conflict this country has been involved with. They did it because they believed in what this country stands for. Their families stood behind them for the same reason. My son now serves in the military. When I asked him why he signed his contract — and he did so while still in college and on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — his answer was simple. He believes in the ideals of this country and thinks them important enough to stand ready to defend them.

We’ve come a long way since the colonists dumped the tea into Boston Harbor but there is still a long way to go. We can do it, as long as we never forget the reason this country was founded and the building blocks of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as a whole. God bless this country and her people.

Another case of open mouth, insert foot

This morning, I saw a meme that made me smile. It basically said “I don’t think about what I’m going to say before I open my mouth because I want to be as surprised as everyone else.” Unfortunately, it seems there are far too many people who actually adhere to this mantra. Then, when their words come back to bite them in the butt, they don’t understand what went wrong.

The first instance of this that caught my eye over the weekend happened when I saw a clip from Tucker Carlson’s show. In it, Lisa Durden, a professor from Essex County College in Newark, went off on white privilege and more with regard to keeping whites off campus for the BLM commemoration of Memorial Day. (I think I got that right. You can check the clip linked above) Carlson called her on it, noting that what she advocated was just as bad as a whites-only gathering.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Durden had every right to express her opinion. But, as I’ve discussed before, we have to be aware of the very real fact that our words have consequences. In this particular case, she might not have mentioned her association with the college but she was on a nationally televised news program. It was reasonable to expect that either her students or fellow faculty members or college supporters would see the interview. The fact the college placed her on leave two days after the segment aired was proof of the negative impact her words had on her situation. Three days after that, she was let go.

In this case, the college has to weigh the good of the institution, as well as its students and faculty, against Durden’s right to voice her opinion. This isn’t anything new. Employers have always taken a dim view of anything an employee might do or say that could bring negative publicity to the employer. That is particularly true in the education sector. Today’s headlines are a perfect example. Not only do we have stories about Durden but there is another professor in trouble as well. On the local level, a kindergarten teacher has been fired for keeping her second job — that of porn actress. So, yeah, if you are working for someone else, you have to always consider if your behavior or your words are such that your employer could be negatively impacted.

The second professor to find herself without a job comes from the University of Delaware. Again, this professor, one Kathy Dettwyler, had every right to say what she did. She just wasn’t very wise to do so and especially not on social media. According to DelawareOnline, Dettwyler posted on her personal Facebook page that Otto Warmbier “deserved” to die for stealing a propaganda poster in North Korea. She went on to talk about white privilege, his parents’ failure to raise him right and more.

Now, I’ll admit, when I first heard about Warmbier’s trouble in North Korea, my first reaction was, “why in hell would anyone, especially an American, want to go there?” My second was that Warmbier was a dumb fuck for trying to take the poster. Then I remembered he was really nothing more than a kid and some of the less than smart — okay, downright stupid — things I did at that age.

But right or wrong, he didn’t deserve to die for what would, in most places on Earth, be a misdemeanor. It doesn’t matter what his skin color or nationality is. His death is a tragedy and something that never should have happened.

The University of Delaware, where Dettwyler was an adjunct professor of anthropology, has issued a statement saying she won’t be returning to the school as an employee. Prior to announcing that her contract would not be renewed, the university issued the following statement:

“The comments of Katherine Dettwyler do not reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware. We condemn any and all messages that endorse hatred and convey insensitivity toward a tragic event such as the one that Otto Warmbier and his family suffered.”

The fact she had made similar comments about Warmbier’s death in the comment section of an article in the National Review probably didn’t help her case any either.

Again, another instance of opening mouth and inserting foot all the way to the pink slip.

I’m all for freedom to say what you want but you have to remember that what you say reflects on more than just yourself. Those words you just spewed onto Twitter or Facebook, in an interview be it print or audio, also splash back on your family and friends, your business and your customers. If your words are inflammatory or contrary to common decency, the impact will be negative.

We’re not talking about whistle-blowers here. We’re talking about two women who got up on their soapboxes and spoke without thinking. Now I wonder how long it will be before they start attacking the institutions that released them. I also wonder what they had been teaching their students and this, my friends, is what bothers me the most. We have an entire generation where all too many feel they are entitled to do or say whatever they want and damn the consequences because the consequences don’t apply to them.

Then reality hits and they find they aren’t prepared for how much suckage that can be. That’s a lesson these two professors have learned the hard way. Hopefully, others will look at what happened and take it as a lesson in common sense. Unfortunately, I fear there will be those who will look at what happened and take it as a rallying cry to attack the universities involved for trying to “silence” the professors’ voices.

If the universities reverse their decisions, they very well may find themselves in the same circumstances as the University of Missouri after faculty member Melissa Clark called for “muscle” to help remove cameramen/journalists from a protest. Missou is suffering a decline in enrollment that has led to budget cuts, closing of dorms and more. Again, a perfect example of actions — in this case, more than just Clark’s but hers were the culmination — having consequences.

So, while the meme mentioned at the beginning of the blog is humorous and while it is all too tempting at times to say exactly what we feel and damn the consequences, stop for a moment and think. Ask yourself if you are ready to face those consequences, be they the lecture you’ll get at home or the loss of your job. If you can’t say yes and mean it, then keep your mouth firmly closed and move on. Or at least pause long enough to phrase your comments in such a way you speak with facts and reason instead of emotion only.

TGIF

This has been a great week in a number of ways, but it has been a largely unproductive one on the writing front. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s given my brain the chance to take a step back, metaphorically speaking, from the final edits on Nocturnal Rebellion. It also gave me time to consider exactly how I wanted to proceed with several different projects and that is always a good thing.

 

Basically, this has been a week away from work and now it’s time to get back in the saddle. Much as I love having my son home, my productivity drops to zilch when he’s here. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We enjoy spending time together, just talking. I’m lucky because he has grown into a man I not only love (duh, he’s my son) but also respect. He isn’t afraid of speaking his mind and he has his eyes wide open when it comes to the world around him.

We spent much of the time talking books and gaming. Back when he was in third grade, his teacher made reading a punishment. The damage that woman did lasted for years. Before then, my son had been an avid reader. By the end of that school year, he didn’t want to open a book. I almost despaired because nothing I did could counter what that bitch did. Then I started playing audio books whenever we were in the car. It wasn’t long before he was asking what book we were listening to and, better yet, making requests. These weren’t kids’ books either. We listened to mysteries and science fiction or fantasy. There were non-fiction books as well.

So, when we climbed into his car the first day he was home and he had an audio book queued up, I was pleased. Then, over the course of the next few days, we talked about the audio books he’d been listening to. My kid has his own subscription to Audible and has a book going whenever he’s in the car. I’m so proud. It brings a tear to my eye.

Besides, I now have a few recommendations of books I hadn’t read or listened to that I’m going to check out.

But now it’s time to take advantage of the fact I have the house to myself. I’ve played enough this week — not to mention being distracted by other things, things not worth mentioning. So, I guess all this rambling has been my way of saying I’m back to my normal schedule. I’ll be announcing when Nocturnal Rebellion goes up for pre-order the beginning of next week.

Now I need to find coffee and have a talk with the dog about how I do NOT appreciate him getting me up before 0500 this morning. Then I will be able to get down to work.

Daddy

Today is Father’s Day, the day when we laugh about the gifts of bad ties and ugly sweaters. For many of us, it is a day when we remember days gone by, days when our own fathers were still alive. My own father, Jerry, has been dead for many years but the pain of his loss is still there. Overriding it, however, is the love I had for him and the love he had for me, a love he never let me forget.

My dad grew up in Oklahoma. He was a child during the Depression. One of six full blood siblings and two half-brothers, he was the quiet child, the one who didn’t quite fit in. As an adult, he was a quiet man who loved having a good time. He had one problem, however, he internalized everything. Maybe it was because of his upbringing — I loved my grandmother but I didn’t like how she raised her kids, especially not my father and one of my aunts. Perhaps because they were the middle children, perhaps because they were the studious ones, whatever the reason, my grandmother left them with the attitude that they couldn’t show their anger or frustration with what anyone did to them — but he developed some medical problems in my late teens.

Basically, Daddy didn’t get his anger and frustration out. He loved good food, the greasier and fatter the better. He was never overweight — or even close to it — but the damage was done. Two weeks into my first semester at college, he started having chest pain while driving back to Dallas from dropping me off at Baylor in Waco. Three days later, I was called home. He’d had a heart attack and was in the hospital.

Now, Daddy being Daddy, he didn’t do things the way most people did. Oh no. He’d ignored the chest pains for three days, putting them down to his gall bladder or some such problem. Then, on September 22nd (my parents’ anniversary), he left the office at lunch to go to a nearby mall to buy Mom’s gift. (Dad never did anything a moment sooner than necessary.) He had started walking across the parking lot toward his car when he finally realized there might be something more wrong with him than a gall bladder or ulcer attack. So he turned around and went back upstairs to his office. There he asked his boss’ secretary to come into his office. He told her to call Mom and tell her that she, the secretary, was driving Daddy to Baylor Hospital (Mom worked there). Oh, and she was to tell Mom he thought he was having a heart attack.

Now, my mom’s a pretty calm customer. It takes a lot to rattle her. But waiting in the drive outside of the ER and seeing my dad get out of Jean’s car, cigarette in hand, strolling down the drive to the ER entrance wasn’t meant for calm. She called for help and then lit into Daddy. Not because he hadn’t called an ambulance but because he was smoking.

Anyway, we were lucky. Not only did he get to the hospital without incident but he was there when, less than a week later, he suffered a myocardial infarction. We came damn close to losing him and would have if he hadn’t already been in the hospital. They had, in fact, just moved him out of the cardiac unit and he was on telemetry. So they saw the moment it started.

We were lucky again because he had a thoracic surgeon who wasn’t afraid to try something knew. At that point, the inner-aortic balloon had been in use for some time but only for post-op patients. Daddy’s surgeon used the balloon on Dad before he did bypass surgery on him. That wouldn’t happen for more than six months. But by using the balloon when he did, the surgeon saved Dad’s life. The balloon helped his heart pump even as it healed from the damage caused by the initial heart attack and then by the major MI he suffered.

We were lucky in another way. That action gave us my dad for 8 more years, years we probably shouldn’t have had him. Yes, there were bad times when he was back in the hospital — some of them because of Daddy’s own stubborn ways, some because the damage had been done. I’d not trade anything for those years. My dad got to know me as an adult, see me graduate from not only college but law school as well. My only regret is he didn’t live long enough to hold his grandson. But I know he is with us even now. As long as we remember him, he is a part of us and Mom and I have done our best to pass his love  on to my son.

Through it all, through the frustrations when we knew he had just gone outside to sneak a smoke or when he refused to eat properly, we loved him and knew he loved us. I may have been a Daddy’s girl but he also taught me to go after my dreams. He was the first to tell me not to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something I was qualified to do.

As I sit here on Father’s Day morning, I have so many good memories and a few sad ones. But, strangely enough, it is his funeral I remember most. Even then, my father had to have the last word. From our very Cajun neighbor proclaiming in what I’m sure she thought was her “inside” voice during the middle of the funeral mass that our Episcopal church was more Catholic than the Catholic church they attended to another neighbor looking heavenward and raising a fist to shake it (she later said she was cursing my dad who had promised he would find a way to get her back in church and that was a hell of a way for him to do it), the service was everything Daddy wanted. At the graveside service, the heavens opened up with rain and hail — not that we realized it at first. Our only warning was the look of panic on Father Crary’s face as he recited the prayers, speaking faster and faster with each passing moment. Then, with the final “Amen”, there was a single clap of thunder and just like that, the sun was out and it was as if it had never rained. Daddy had never liked long, drawn out graveside services and he was making sure his didn’t turn into one.

You see, my daddy loved having the last word. So I’ll give it to him now by asking you to do something he loved the most. Go spend time with your own families — be they blood families or the family you chose — today. Tell those you care for how you feel. Never let a day pass without knowing how lucky you are to have someone in your life who means something to you.

Daddy, I miss you. I love you. I thank you for helping make me into the woman I am today.

A few Friday thoughts

I’m busy trying to finalize the edits on Nocturnal Rebellion. This book has been interesting, often in the proverbial way, during its creation. Between the hot water heater deciding to go out, the house flooding after too much rain and the storm door exploding — and we still haven’t figured out what caused that to happen, nor have we replaced the door yet — the editing process has taken longer than usual. However, I’m hoping that the light I see is the one at the end of the tunnel and not a light marking a cross-tunnel.

In preparation for Rebellion’s release, I have discounted Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the series to $0.99. This is a limited time discount and it will go back to full price after Rebellion hits the shelves. Hopefully, it won’t take Amazon too long to show the sale price.

Edit: I just checked Amazon and the price has now been dropped.

I have loved writing this series. When I started it, I never thought it would turn into a series but the characters demanded it. Even though Rebellion ties up one major plot line, there is more out there and I’m looking forward to seeing where Mackenzie and company go from here.

I’m taking the weekend off from serious blogging — unless something happens that I feel needs to be addressed. I’d like to get as much of Rebellion’s edits finished as possible. Tomorrow, I’ll continue the reading recommendations. I’ve really enjoyed taking weekends this past month or so and just reading. I can almost see the bottom of at least one of my many TBR lists.

I will make one recommendation today. This book is one that was recommended to me by my mother’s pastor. I will admit, any book on theology that starts by saying there are only three topics worth discussing — sex, politics and religion — is going to pique my curiosity. I haven’t read much yet, but so far it is interesting and certainly not what I expected. (Here’s a hint: I was raised Episcopal in a “high” church. Mom is Presbyterian. Biiiiiig difference in a lot of ways and not so much in others, as I’m learning.) Anyway, here’s the book:

Christian Doctrine – Revised Edition

by Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr.

Christian Doctrine has introduced thousands of laity, students, and theologians to the tenets of the Christian faith. This edition reflects changes in the church and society since the publication of the first edition and takes into account new works in Reformed theology, gender references in the Bible, racism, pluralism, ecological developments, and liberation theologies.

Now I’m off to find more coffee. I probably ought to drag the trash out for pick up. Then it’s another day of edits.

Until Later!

 

Morning — ugh

Just a quick post this morning. I’ll be back later with another post, promise.

I’m butt down, fingers on keyboard today after doing more than 6k words yesterday. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is it means my brain is in fiction mode and not blogging mode. There’s a blog in there, somewhere. It’s just that Myrtle the Evil Muse isn’t letting it out. So, I’ll write enough to either satisfy or exhaust dear Myrtle and then be back with a blog post.

In the meantime, wander over to Mad Genius Club. I posted a promo post over there with links to some of the work not only I have done but also my fellow mad geniuses.

In the meantime, here is the image I’m using as inspiration for the next book in the Honor & Duty universe. It is entitled sci-fi scenery 3d illustration and is by olimanist.

Until later!

Goose, meet Gander

I’m not going to do a long post this morning, too much real work to do. In fact, I’d considered not blogging today — I know, I know. I need to blog. But something caught my eye earlier that I wanted to address. In one way, it’s nothing new. In another, the double-standard involved is getting to the point that it’s beginning to get under my skin. Okay, it got under my skin a long time ago. Anyway . . . .

Late last week, I heard second-hand about the New York’s Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar. To say the production has been “updated” is probably putting it mildly. Let’s just say that, from what I heard, they’d left no doubt the production was a commentary on the current political scene in our country.

Now, as I said, this sort of thing isn’t new. One of our local theaters is doing a modernized setting and casting of “To Inherit the Wind”. It’s an excellent production — even if I had to suspend disbelief to have a female playing one of the historically male roles. And, no, it wasn’t because they recast the play’s character. It’s because I know the historical trial on which it’s based and I had to divorce my brain from the enjoyment of the play.

However, what got my ire up this morning is seeing all the comments not only condemning Delta and Bank of America for withdrawing their financial support of the Julius Caesar production but also condemning those who have issues with the production on a personal level. These are the same folks who got so bent out of shape by the rodeo clown wearing the Obama mask or who protested at the top of their lungs any time a conservative said or did anything to detract from Obama.

They are also the ones applauding Kathy Griffin for her beheading of Trump and claiming it is all part of “art” and “art” has always been political.

Yes, there has always been an element of politics in some art. My problem with them condemning those who have a problem with the Julius Caesar production is they would be doing the same thing were it switched around and instead of Caesar being Trump, he was Obama. If you’re going to take a stance, you need to be prepared for that stance to be used by both sides of the political aisle and you can’t cry foul when such representations are being made of your political hero.

So I guess it all comes down to this: if you’re going to toss stones, you’d better make sure you aren’t living in a glass house.

It also comes down to something else. Double-standards almost always come back to bite you in the ass. Think about that before you start condemning others. Me, I’ll poke fun at both sides, pray that whoever is in office isn’t a complete and utter failure ready to sell out country down the drain and prepare for whatever might happen.

Shrug.

Until later!

 

 

Weekend Reading

It’s the weekend and time to relax — okay, relax might be too big of a stretch. If you’re like me, there are plenty of things you need to do around the house. Yard, cleaning, replacing the door. But it is also when I set aside time to just chill and read for pleasure. During the week, most of my reading is research for whatever the current project happens to be. So I really enjoy when I can kick back and read just for the pleasure of it.

Here are a few of the books I’m reading this weekend.

Silence Fallen

by Patricia Briggs

This is the 10th installment in the Mercy Thompson series. I’ll admit, this is one of those series that occasionally suffers from the Moonlighting syndrome. (For those of you not old enough to remember the Bruce Willis series, once the male and female leads got together, a lot of the tension in the series went out the window.) However, Briggs usually manages to deliver a fun book and I’ve been assured by a friend that this is one of the better ones. Here’s the synopsis:

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Another book I’ll probably read this weekend is from the author Kathleen Brooks. Brooks is one of my guilty pleasures. She writes fun romantic suspense books and I recommend them, especially if you like series that center on a town or family or — as in this case — both.

Bluegrass Undercover

by Kathleen Brooks

This is the first of the Bluegrass Brothers series but actually the fourth book set in the same town and sharing the same characters.

When danger and passions flare it’s best to find cover…

Cade Davies is a former Special Forces soldier who is now a high school teacher and football coach. And something is trying to kill his players. He’s been too busy trying to keep his players alive, while also avoiding the Davies Brothers marriage trap set by half the town, to pay attention and to the fiery redhead who has swept into his small town.

DEA Agent Annie Blake was undercover to bust a drug ring that preys on high school athletes in the adorable, small town of Keeneston. She had thought to keep her head down and listen to the local gossip to find the maker of this deadly drug. What Annie didn’t count on was becoming the local gossip. With marriage bets being placed and an entire town aiming to win the pot, Annie looks to Cade for help in bringing down the drug ring before another kid is killed. What she didn’t intend on was becoming the next target.

Also by Ms. Brooks, comes the next book in the TBR pile.

Forever Secret

This is the fifth book in the Forever Bluegrass series, stories about the next generation of Davies family members and their friends and loved ones.

Sophie Davies has a secret . . . in fact, she has quite a few secrets.

Sophie Davies is the head of weapon development for a private firm contracted with the Department of Defense. Because of her knowledge and high security clearances, she has kept her job a secret for fear of kidnapping and sabotage. She always knew some groups would kill to learn what she knows, and now someone is trying to do just that.

Nash Dagher trained to become an elite weapon for the Rahmi Royal Family while he served at their horse farm in Keeneston. But for the past two years, Nash has been running an operation for the King—an operation once completed would result in his promotion to the head of security for the entire royal family in Rahmi. But when Nash discovers a threat against Sophie, he must decide what is more important: the job of his dreams or the life of the woman he loves. But will Sophie allow him back in her life?

These books are light, easy reads and are fun. Which is exactly what I want in weekend reading.

The last book on my tbr stack for today is a bit heavier.

The Miracle of Dunkirk: The True Story of Operation Dynamo

by Walter Lord

In May of 1940, the remnants of the French and British armies, broken by Hitler’s blitzkrieg, retreated to Dunkirk. Hemmed in by overwhelming Nazi strength, the 338,000 men who gathered on that beach were all that stood between Hitler and Western Europe. Crush them, and the path to Paris and London was clear. And so, unable to retreat any farther, the Allied soldiers set up defense positions and prayed for deliverance.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation on May 26th, expecting to save no more than a handful of his men. But Britain would not let its soldiers down. Hundreds of fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and commercial vessels streamed into the Channel to back up the Royal Navy, and in a week nearly the entire army was ferried safely back to England. Assembled from interviews with hundreds of survivors who witnessed the evacuation, The Miracle of Dunkirk is a striking history of a week when the fate of Britain hung in the balance.

A few thoughts

It would be very easy to join the varied voices opining about Comey’s testimony yesterday. Like most of those commenting, I’ve heard the soundbites. I’ve seen the pundits spinning the comments this way and that. However, unlike those folks, I want to actually listen to all three hours of Comey’s testimony before commenting in-depth about what he said — or didn’t say.

I’ll even admit to playing musical channels with the news this morning. Hey, if I have to watch it with my morning coffee because my mother likes it on as she reads the paper, I can at least turn it off when the talking heads get too annoying. As a result, I haven’t had to sit through George and Matt and whoever on CBS as they tell us how wonderful Comey is and how awful Trump is. Hell, Yahoo even has a headline to the effect that Hillary was right.

Two things, if the soundbites are right, have struck me and I want to see them in context. The first is that Comey admits to being the one to leak his prepared testimony ahead of time. Well, to be honest, he asked a friend to give it to a reporter. That tells me he was trying to manipulate the atmosphere going into the hearing, especially since he knew, or should have, that his testimony would be streamed live and everything in his prepared statement would be there for the public to see.

The second thing — and again, I haven’t seen it in context, so I’m withholding judgment — is that he supposedly said he had not seen any direct evidence that the Russians had tried to hack the election. He, and the rest of the FBI, supposedly relied on information given them by other agencies. If this is true, then how can he then turn around and say he is convinced the Russians tried to hack the election? (Mind you, I’m not saying they didn’t but for an intelligence head to make sure a blanket statement without seeing proof does rub me wrong).

And that is all I’m going to say on yesterday’s events on the Hill until I’ve seen the testimony in full.

On a more personal note, I learned yesterday that I hate most home repair stores, services, etc. Late morning, I heard something hit our stormdoor. When Mom opened the front door a few minutes later, the stormdoor literally exploded into a zillion pieces. Luckily, it pebbled instead of shattering into sharp edges, etc. But it did so with enough force we had glass at least three feet into the house and embedded into the nooks and crannies of the front door.

I have a guess about what happened. The yard was being mowed and about the same time I heard the “pop!” at the door, one of the guys was using the weedeater nearby. But I couldn’t say so for certain. Anyway, I spent the bulk of the afternoon trying to get someone to install a new door for us.

Well, the local handymen can do it — in two to three weeks. They’re booked out until then.

Home Deport won’t install, even if you buy the door from them, unless you pay them to come out and measure the door first. Then you go in and order the door you want. Then you wait another week or two before it can be installed. Unless, of course, you pay extra to expedite the process.

I called one of the local companies that advertises doing stormdoors. Riiight. Only if you agree to let them, at “a very big discount”, install new windows or insulation. Nope. Don’t need that.

Another no longer does residential work, only corporate work.

Oh, and back to Home Depot, even with me standing in front of the sign showing how much installation would be, I was quoted a price $60 higher. So nope, not dealing with them — or at least not that particular customer rep.

I have calls in to a couple of other folks. In the meantime, I’m cursing the fact that I’ve got a bum shoulder that prevents me from installing the door myself. I’m at the point now that if I can’t get it fixed in the next few days, I’ll wait until my son comes home on leave in 10 days and have him help me install it. Yeah, I’m that pissed with the situation.

I guess that means I have to get my butt in gear and get back to work. Doors of any sort aren’t cheap and this year has been one hit in the pocketbook after another.

Until later!

Of leaks and oaths and voter lists

So we have yet another government contractor accused of leaking top secret documents to the media or other persons. In this case, Reality Winner now finds herself arrested and charged. According to media reports, the government narrowed it down to Winner being one of only six who printed out the documents in question and the only one in e-mail contact with the journalist in question. More, the media reports that she has admitted to being the leak. Even so, her attorney says she will plead not guilty and looks forward to her day in court.

Now, tell me this, am I the only one hearing Charlie Sheen in the back of my mind yelling, “Winner!”?

This revelation, if you can call it that, comes on the heels of a discussion I had with someone not long ago about what it means to make and oath and who will actually feel the moral need to stick to said oath.

Every member of the military, every person holding a top secret clearance pledges to uphold their oaths to the United States. The oaths may be different in verbiage but they all come down to one simple premise: the person taking them pledges to act in a certain way. In Winner’s case, she pledged not to violate the trust placed in her by her employer and by the United States not to reveal top secret information without prior authorization. If the media reports are accurate, she not only violated those oaths but she did so willingly and knowingly and has admitted to doing so.

So what is it she is alleged to have leaked?

From what I can tell, she supposedly leaked information that the NSA (or one of the other alphabet agencies) had proof the Russians attempted to hack voter registration rolls shortly before the election. Two things struck me when I heard that. First, that the Russians attempted to hack to rolls. Second, that the information they were after is, at least in Texas, available to any candidate. How do you think you get those targeted phone calls and mailings each election cycle? The candidates can ask for a list of those who voted in the previous election or primary. That gives the candidate not only the voters’ names but much more, including their voting history (limited but yes).

Something else to consider. If the Russians really wanted to influence the election, they would have been doing this much earlier and would have been doing more than “attempting” to hack. After all, early voting now comprises in many states the majority of votes cast. I know that here in Texas, you no longer have to present one of a limited number of statutorily recognized reasons to be allowed to cast an early ballot. Instead, polls are open for approximately 2 weeks prior to the election to allow anyone who wants to avoid the lines on election day the chance to vote.

Now, if the Russians were trying to hack in to see how the vote was going, that’s a different thing. But none of the reports I’ve seen or heard have said that. Even if they were trying to see how the vote was going, it was a too little too late. Unless, of course, they are playing a long game — something that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Still, are we ready to admit the Russians understood better what was happening in our country than the Democratic Party’s candidate and long-time politico Hillary Clinton? I don’t know about you but it worries me that a supposed ally, a country we have been at loggerheads with more often than not, might understand our country and our voters more than a woman who was First Lady, senator, Secretary of State and presidential nominee for a major party.

If that was the case, it should be a wake-up call not only to both the Democratic and Republican Parties but to all of us.

But getting back to Reality Winner.

If the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that she did violate her oaths, she should not only be prosecuted but she should feel the full force of the law coming down on her head. Her own political beliefs matter not. Nor does her concern about any particular issue. She pledged to do a certain job and, as part of the job, not to reveal national secrets and she violated that oath. She can’t claim she didn’t know what she was doing. She served six years in the military and held a top secret clearance there. In the private contractors sector she held a similar clearance. She would have been told exactly what that meant and she willingly agreed to uphold the oath.

If she violated it, and it appears she did, she should now pay the consequences.

Of course, this being the day and age where a certain segment of our populace seems to believe themselves above consequences, you can expect to hear them coming to her defense because Trump! or Bush! or whatever.

The time has come to tighten security and to make sure those who violate it and break their oaths learn there are consequences and they will rain down on them and there is no umbrella, figurative or literal, capable of protecting them.

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