Saturday, December 29, 2012

Punch 2012 in the Face

Before we pack, we prune. As iPhoto undergoes it's regular combing out of needless and silly pics, these caught my eye; most from 2012, the first few, not. But-Oh how they capture the spirit of the age, you see...

Makes me weep. Ridiculed by my own children for loving this game, i threw it away in a rage. "Anger does not accomplish the purposes of God..."

This ugly sight AT CHURCH for Pete's sake. Poor, poor Pete.

I'm hosting a Punch 2012 in the Face 
NewYear's Eve Party. 

There should be a photo contest. 
Until I'm not "seeing double" from
 neighbor despair and moving anguish, 
planning good things will take a back seat 
to just inhaling 
one breath 
at a time

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Memoriam. December 16. Last Year.

Solemnity and pause.  That's all there is. You can't overlook the 365th day of shock and numbness after a fatal workplace shooting, but there's no Martha Stewart index to reference, advising you on how you're supposed to take it in; how you're supposed to deal, respond or overcome.

We didn't officially observe the date; just noticed how we were all moving in slower motion and talking less.  Looking away rather than right at each other, and reminding ourselves out loud too many times what day it was.

There's been tension. There's been a marked thinness of spirit. There's been a first foray (mine) into imbibing in spirits. I never really connected that to this, but there you are. There's something to be said for drowning your sorrows.

This morning, I asked Mr. Man, my husband, if he'd think of five things to ponder about his lost friends, Henry and Scott. He stopped getting dressed, sat on the edge of the bed, and looked down for a long minute.

He knew Henry the most, so he recounted Henry's patience with people. He described a man who never complained, and if he was exasperated, would use humor to diffuse it. He described a man whom people respected so much they'd do whatever he asked. He collaborated so well with others as to produce great things for the company; created focus groups, friendships and committees that mattered.

And now he's gone.

You feel faint and wonder if it's OK that two good men fell, but I'm still here?

Survivor guilt.  It doesn't help that the company spent the better part of 2012 casting a looming threat of lay offs over the organization.  Now, more men and women have disappeared, but this time the death was to a paycheck and not to the body, though it may as well have been. Paychecks are a life blood. They breathe a steadiness to the soul and hope to the spirit in a way that maybe they shouldn't; but still... they do. ***

And when dear H was not laid off, there it was again. Survival Guilt.

I promised myself at the memorial service for Henry and Scott (and in an intangible way, AndrĂ© Turner) that I would tend to my words more in 2012. 

I didn't. 

But here's why it mattered so much that day, seated in a sunny courtyard in January, listening to Important People pontificate about nothing much that meant anything.  They didn't help a listener figure out The Lesson of the Day. They didn't offer words of any impact or significance. It's just a bureaucratic corporation, after all, sworn to such politically correct behaviour and thinking that, in the end, they can never mean anything because they're trying so hard to be everything.

Here's what I would've said on the occasion:

... If we can notice the little ways we harm others, the little ways we're careless with a thought or a look, a word or a deed, we'll realize that we're just as guilty as AndrĂ© Turner who picked up a weapon and used it for harm. 

When we decide that, in our work relationships, we're always right and a co-worker is our adversary, we're guilty of the same selfish spirit a shooter adopts. When a spirit of superiority rears its head, speaking ill of another person out of anger or pride, we're just as guilty as a shooter who sprays bullets to get even, 

even if our bullets are just words, inconsiderate rumors, or thoughtless, petty retaliations.

Watch your words. Watch your heart. Watch that you don't adopt the wrong idea that shooters are evil and we are not. We can be just as evil in our attitudes as a shooter can be in his actions.

Our words have the power to murder.  
And a simple evil look can kill...

*** To Edison's credit, their layoff terms are generous, including more than ample retrain/retool funds

Monday, October 22, 2012


No, But Who Could Resist Stopping for A Peek?

Moving plans are hard timber. It's tough tackling what is right and what is enough; where is ideal; why you like what you do; how many years you have left on the planet; is Dave Ramsey "full of it?"; can an old couple set in their ways learn to start a business; will we ever have to eat dog food because I'd rather do dishes, laundry and volunteer, than get a job...? The daily soul searching is scraping the bottom of who I thought we were.

Today I wondered if my continual reassurances to M.Breadwinner that "I'll be OK living in a tent under a bridge" are not counter productive.  Maybe he needs to hear me say, "I'll be d#%$'ed if you make me live in a tent under a bridge..."  Positive thinking and all that.

One thing is certain. I've UNsubscribed from so as to limit the shimmer lust that overcomes a medium-aged female with expensive tastes and no wallet.  It's working. I'm happy capturing my little digital images, pondering their merits,

...and stopping in for a bite of brownie or carrot cake now and again, just to make sure I'm still breathing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

VA Visit. Hospitality Low Down

His name was C.  I renamed him Texas C, at least until the nurses at the VA Tenth Floor nursing station insisted they didn't know who that was.  Oh.  I forgot that I was in a military installation,  and my civilian lack of respect needed shoring up.  No nicknames.

Once appropriately set straight, the whole idea seemed to unfold like a well laid plan, even though I was just making it up as I went along... I won't detail how I found my bedridden vet, but, suffice it to say, it just wasn't that hard.

Once there, I explained to the most In Charge looking nurse why October 3, 1993 was a day worth memorializing. He allowed me to visit any room where a STOP sign didn't appear on the door.

I found one just around the nursing station counter corner, and the nurse inside was OK with my presence. She even OK'd my request to bring in cookies the following week (VA website said not to bring in food. Never hurts to askASKask if they really value that restriction...)

In the first bed on the left, patient "C" lay.  I introduced myself, and asked if he wouldn't mind if I visited for a minute.  He wasn't going anywhere, he said; seemed at once surprised and happy to have a little ripple in his boring, bedridden routine.

I inquired about Mr. C's injuries. His service time. His career. It was an enjoyable exchange. Easy. After five minutes or so, it was time to go.  I promised cookies and inquired after his favorites. Not hard to follow through with that promise a week later --yesterday.

There he was still.  Had they moved him, I'm sure the cookies would've found a home somewhere worthy, but I had rightly guessed his condition warranted a long stay in that unit. Next Wednesday, I may have to go back yet again.

[  Playing right now on GladRad (Gladiator Radio) Pandora: Time To Say Goodbye, Emile Pandofi  ]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Measures of Manhood: A Next Memorial Day

Villa Philmonte, Cimarron, New Mexico.  ("Waite and Genevieve Phillips... beginning in 1925,  and every year thereafter... gave away half of everything that they earned."  Hmm. Why have we not had a Waite Phillips night?)

As a family, we've paused to honor some of the GREAT ONES lately hidden within the worn fibers of our national tapestry.  From Mighty GeoW. and Patrick Henry, to Chuck Colson and Teddy "T.R." Roosevelt, we've set aside time to revisit the singular ideas and doings of people who once made this nation great.  (Maximilian Kolbe and Beatrix Potter aren't exactly US, but they're great too, so, no less deserving of their celebratory moments.)

Next week should afford another chance to honor rare qualities; this time, those of extraordinary valor, bravery under fire & giving the ultimate sacrifice.

On October 3, 1993, Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon lost their lives defending a fallen Black Hawk and its dead and injured pilots in Mogadishu, Somalia.

These men deserve monuments on a grand scale. Since there aren't any yet, I hope to memorialize them here at home with solemnity and gratitude.

     - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

One of the handful of proud moments I can recall as a parent was learning my son had digested Mark Bowden's account of Shughart & Gordon's heroism, reading Black Hawk Down - A Story of Modern War more than once, becoming the go-to guy on the matter.

Watching the Bowden inspired movie came soon after, easier to do once-upon-a-time when was allowed to remove foul language from customer purchases. Unfortunately, my F-word tolerance has spiked incredibly (watching the horrors of military life never shocked me much),  so I've nearly forgotten how I was once a cussing dilettante, damn you, Tenth Circuit.

The take-away from this Ridley Scott epic is to be shocked by the heaping measures of manhood depicted, and the almost unheard of civilian concept of giving up one's life for a selfless cause.

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So, on October 3, how do we stop to honor such outsized heroism? 

In Lincoln, NE, Shugart's birthplace, maybe they'll hold a moment of silence. In Lincoln, ME, Gordon's birthplace, maybe they'll lower a flag?

In Long Beach, CA, maybe we'll read aloud the official Citations delivered at their Medal of Honor ceremonies; stop to ponder or pray for the ongoing needs of military leaders, elected leaders, policy wonks and both presidential candidates; and generally stand in awe. 

I know. We should visit a VA hospital.

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Where do you find men like Shughart and Gordon? I could never be that honorable.  Yet, for some reason, I expect, despite my own fears and failures, that it's SOMEBODY'S job to inculcate heroism in the next generation.  How do you do that?

That's her on the left. 
My heart shudders for the countless parents & teachers who work hard (or, not...) everyday forming the knowledge base and consciences of kids.

Without something huge reclaiming every school and family, can this nation even expect selfless leadership?

Sonny's CSULB

To Sergeants Shughart and Gordon, we salute you. We honor your memory and your timeless example of obedience to your calling. We remain in awe of your service above and BEYOND the mere call of duty.  

To your families, we thank you with inexpressible esteem and gratitude for surrendering your loved ones for the good of the rest of us. 

To all who were killed or injured that day, we thank you with an inexpressible affection, awed respect, and hallowed remembrance.

And to Mark Bowdin, hats off. What a feat.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[edit]Wiki Footnote

USNS Shughart

U.S. Navy Large, Medium-speed, Roll-on/Roll-off Ship Shughart (T-AKR 295)


Herbert Shughart, Randall Shughart's father, attended the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony at the White House, where he refused to shake hands with President Bill Clinton.[10] 
He then proceeded to openly criticize the president, saying, "You are not fit to be president of the United States. The blame for my son's death rests with the White House and with you. You are not fit to command."[11]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
((SHHhh...) Way to go, man.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Freedom Ringing? Vaccine Lies Stinging

Re-Posted from 2011 - - 

A recent poster in an Arcadia grocery store window warned that vaccines are required before enrollment in local schools is allowed.  Alarm has spread that old diseases are reemerging.

Coincidentally, this morning's paper featured a gripping story about the funeral for a really super niceguy from Newport Beach,  a victim of  a Meningococcemia infection.

I was alarmed. But not at disease scares. At the lack of protest overthe lie that schools promulgate when they insist on vaccine requirements and resort to scare tactics.

Missing from the poster, and missing from news coverage, was any "fine print" explaining California State Health and Safety Codes 120330 and 120335, insuring parents the right to waive those vaccination requirements.

No one should be bullied into believing something is required when it is not. OH. Wait. I forgot. On some issues, bullying is condoned.

Missing from the funeral news item was any mention of the victims recent vaccination history.  There may be more to his story. Sometimes the communicable disease is actually contracted from the vaccine itself. Or, the recipient's body is so overwhelmed by multiple doses administered at once, that the immune system is actually weakened, exposing the student to diseases he or she could've otherwise deflected naturally.

Barbara Loe Fisher of

"Certainly, America should have a sound, workable emergency plan in place in the event of a bioterrorism attack: but not one that places the life and liberty of the majority of citizens in the hands of an elite few, who will have the power to take BOTH from citizens without their consent.  

   CDC-funded and initiated legislation treats us like runaway slaves in need of subjugation. The law’s proposed elimination of the informed consent principle, which has governed the ethical use of medical interventions that can injure or kill ever since the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg after World War II, is clear indication that public health officials want the sole authority to decide who will live and who will die and under what conditions.  

   No state of emergency in a free society justifies the sacrifice of the most sacred human right: the right to voluntarily decide what you are willing to risk your life for, or your child’s life for. What it means to be free doesn’t get more basic than that.  

...if the state can tag, track down and force citizens to be injected with biologicals of unknown toxicity today, then there will be no limit on what individual freedoms the state can take away in the name of 'the greater good' tomorrow. 

Now, tomorrow is here."  

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

I used to think anti-vaccine alarmists were nut cases. 

I did give pause when our first pediatrician in Encinitas, CA disclosed statistics saying that one in 64,000 children become mentally retarded after certain childhood inoculations.  Eww. I shrugged, prayed, and like a Vegas gambler, I was feeling lucky. I ignored the warning, boostered up all my kids, and --whew-- things seemed to go my way. 

Five years later, Juvenile Diabetes hit my pre-Kindergartner.  

Then came the 1995 flu shot from hell given to me by a nurse of Dr. Cortez Santos.  Only after subsequent years of medical treatments, third opinions and CDC correspondence, was I vindicated as officially vaccine damaged.  I joined the ranks of those previously derided nut cases after learning that the same "batch" of flu shot which I'd been given actually paralyzed people with Guillain-Barre' on the east coast.  I'd gotten off easy by comparison.

About that time, I thought to ask my diabetic daughter's endocrinologist if there was any chance that kindergarten vaccines played a role in her condition.  Dr. Kirchner would only say, "We just can't say one way or the other."

It makes sense to me: 

Type 1 Diabetes is reportedly an auto-immune disease striking those who are predisposed genetically to suffer when a pathogen "triggers" the body to begin destroying its own pancreatic cells.  WELL, back to school vaccines are tantamount to "pathogenic" when multiple catch-up doses are the pre-schooler's fate because her busy mom was too preoccupied with her 3 lb "preemie," and forgot to keep up with the other kids' well-baby visits.  

Our eldest with diabetes soldiers on valiantly. But.

I wish we hadn't had to learn the hard way that 'herd mentality' sucks when you and your kids are the 
ones being culled. 

I warn my kids to figure this all out before it's their turn to start a family. Because if the NVIC loses its battle to protect privacy and the right to decide for oneself and one's family what is injected into his or her own body, they may have to watch helplessly while their own newborns are punctured by eight or more shots all at the same time. Pray, I say to them. Pray like that six pounds of newly arrived flesh depending on you depends on you. 

And pray for and donate to the NVIC.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Forsaking Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, Pintrest, Reddit, etc, etc, etc... surely set me up for some kind of social media addiction sooner or later. Long known for failed teetotaling remedies to my sundry addictions, my children know to hide their beer, wine and cookies; but they forgot to steer me away from Instagram.

After a single week, I've logged some fifteen hours of scrolling through, selecting, cropping and filtering some of the thousands of images in my iPhone archive, connecting with the long lost inner painter I used to be in college.

Sorta takes the urgency out of "blah-gging" when your creative side finds a new outlet.

It's even diluted some of the poison in my depressed psyche that threatens to drown my poor family ever since a convalescent hospital moved in next door ...the urgent need to move away from one's home of 18 years takes quite a toll, unless one is utterly preoccupied pretending to be somewhere else...

Enter INSTAGRAM. HERO, saviour, rescuer.

Marvelous iPhoto EDIT possibilities lurk within every digital frame, thanks to the Camera+ iPhone application.  Sifting an image through the app's filters has stirred the lazy artist hiding twenty seven stories below my crusty surface; so much so that I'm certain PHOTO AP tools will be universally applied to all kinds of psycho-and-NOT-so-psychotherapies in future.

I'm also certain a new orthopedic diagnosis cannot be far behind:

"Instagram Hand" they'll call it:  that condition where the hand holding the mobile device freezes in place from hours spent clutching it while maneuvering in and out of albums, apps and camera rolls.

For now, "my shrink" (that nice gal I've seen twice to make sure I'm not the only one on the planet who objects to living next door to a hospital) must wonder why I'm not returning her calls?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Images that didn't make the cut:

Find the hidden hover fly?

Could spend more time imagining Tiffany's

 Thanks to the Olympics, I've finally learned who Steven Colbert and Rachel Maddow are. 
((I liked the world better before.))

Little strivings over subtle degrees of flourish, color, symmetry, context... they hammer the truth home that art speaks to the soul.

When I listen, one message beckons: Only Christ can heal the broken. And only the broken really come to Christ.  Pretty sure I'm still a few breaks away.

[...Really? You hear all that just by editing digital photos??] 
{Um, YEAH...}

"Take care of how things look, and you'll take care of how things ARE."
- - FLT