Sunday, August 14, 2016

Heinlein is almost always a good answer

I haven't been able to read much recently, so I thought "Why not try Heinlein?"
Last night while waiting for my 14 pound baked potato to microwave (yeah, I know, but it WAS a big one), so I could stuff it with sausage, mayo, red wine vinegar and the rest of a beefsteak tomato (and it was even better than it sounds), I pulled a paperback off the shelf, which turned out to be "The Day After Tomorrow." I was not quite finished with the first chapter (fascinating story about a small group of surviving scientists and technicians who fight against a PanAsian occupation of the US) when the microwave beeped, and my 26 pound potato was cooked perfectly.
Note: before putting it in the microwave, I rubbed garlic olive oil into the skin. We have gone in the past year to coconut oil, mostly, so I had to look twice in order to see the garlic olive oil on the shelf. Why GARLIC olive oil? That, I do not know. Sometimes the women make strange choices when they go to the grocery store. I have just about convinced them not to buy the small size of anything, so I think this 16 ounce container of garlic oil might have been one of them asserting her freedom from the repressive demands of the patriarchy. All I know is pancakes fried in garlic olive oil is a dish that makes me wish Minerva June, our late and lamented black lab, was still with us and roaming around seeking what she could devour. Dogs make a wonderful solution to the disaster of left-overs too small to refrigerate. Cats, on the other hand, won't eat anything, unless it's ice cream out of your bowl.
So, I was close to the end of the first chapter, the microwave beeped and it was time to smash and grab. I smashed the potato, grabbed the sausage from the cast iron skillet, and completed the dish referred to by Mickey, my youngest bio boy, refers to as Gonzales Sue Samen.
ummm... that's because I told him that's what it's called. Actually, I told him it was 'ganz alles zusamen,' meaning 'everything mixed together,' but his name is cuter.
And as I took the food upstairs to devour, I regretted not having all my Heinlein dead-tree books in some electronic format. I try not to take books out of my man cave, because they rarely make it back, and the piles of medications, pocket-fillers, electronics, firearm components, and DVDs on my bedside tables recently hit overflow. Maybe I should build shelves; but if I did, it would restrict our choices when it came time to rearrange furniture.
So, as I set my snack in 'Eat Me' mode, I perused (the Baen website) and pursued ("The Day After Tomorrow"), and found no joy. First I tried "Assignment in Eternity," but i had read it too recently. Same with "Farnham's Freehold," and I wasn't in the mood for "Grumbles from the Grave." I skipped another couple of titles, and then opened "Sixth Column." 
YAHOO! "Sixth Column" is "The Day After Tomorrow!" The back story of the name change is explained in the excellent prologue by William H Patterson, Jr, of no known relation.
And this excellent example of pre-Something Something by Heinlein was enough to keep me occupied until I fell asleep, and then was my companion when I woke up in the middle of the night until I could fall asleep again.
And so I gained another several hours of reading. That's a lovely gift! Which is why I say:

Heinlein is almost always a good answer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Smart adults who were smart kids

This is a riff off comments made by Sarah Hoyt in her blog today; she is returning to her US home after visiting her birthplace in Portugal. During the course of the trip, she gained some insight into her relationship with her mother. Read what she has to say here.

Nothing is as simplistic as I'm about to make it sound, but for a certain segment of the population, I think I'm going to come pretty close. That segment includes bookworms, and I'm reasonably sure that people who read my blog fall into that category. Furthermore, I'm speaking to bookworms who come from a home where there was a good bit of conflict. I don't know how many will relate to that combination, but here it goes anyway:

I'm not sure that high intelligence has much survival value for kids in homes with a lot of conflict, particularly when the conflict is also reflected in society as a whole. Being smart just allows you to see the discrepancy between what is, and what should be, in the way parents (and maybe aunts and uncles) treat you, but provides no true escape when you need it (and that's why we turn to reading).

If you're lucky, possibly as early as 30 or 40 years later, you realize that your parents were just operating with an entirely different set of programming, and they were flat-out wrong in some cases, and it helps to bring closure, THEN.

But from about age six to ten and onward, all the highly intelligent kid knows is that what we are receiving doesn't fit with what we are giving. And that's when we are faced with a conflict that can't be resolved: either there is something wrong with our parents, or there is something wrong with us. And since we depend at an early age on our parents for our very existence, we cannot tolerate the idea that there might be something wrong with THEM; if that's true, then there is NOTHING we can count on for security, and life is too chaotic to for us to survive. Therefore, in order to survive we conclude there is something wrong with us. After all, we did break that glass; our room was messy; we took the candy when we weren't supposed to. And, with this rationalization, early childhood for the highly intelligent child is survivable, until we hit puberty and the realization inevitably erupts that NO, DAMMIT, IT'S NOT ALL OUR FAULT, WE DON'T DESERVE TO BE TREATED THIS WAY.

And that's when our badly programmed but extremely powerful logic machine arrives at the conclusion that our parents, and by extension all authority, are evil. So bleep 'em, we'll find our own bleepin' way, and we don't WANT (we pretend) their approval.

Peace, truth, and reconciliation ONLY comes when we are able to dump the programming that says "Parents know everything and don't make mistakes. Therefore, they treated me the way they did because they are evil."  It is MUCH more difficult to reject the program with parents who cling to their authority, still using  'Because I say so' as a conversational ploy.  It is possible, though; however, with parents who refuse to adapt, sometimes, the only way to end conflict is to terminate the relationship.

This is only ONE type of relationship conflict. Just because you realize all this and resolve that it's going to be different with YOUR kids, you still don't get away without taking a relationship beating. It may be a DIFFERENT beating, but Love and Suffering are two sides of the same coin. 

Anybody who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

(*Or, I could be totally off-base about this having any application at all beyond my own history.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Church Lady and Motorcycle White Boy : Vanessa Goes to Washington


The immediate set-up: On Monday, May 16, my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, was released from her position as a legal parapro at a small legal firm doing business primarily in the Woodstock area. For several days, we contemplated our next move.

Some deep background, and a sort-of real-life fairy tale: Vanessa's first husband gave her seven children, and then abandoned her to raise them as best she could. Using Social Services provided in North Carolina and West Virginia, Vanessa was able to earn her General Equivalency diploma, and continued on to college at West Virginia University. She moved to Georgia in 2001, had her prior coursework accepted for transfer, and became an upper classman at the prestigious Spelman College of Atlanta University. She was selected to serve as one of the Student Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 2004; with her fellow college students, she traveled by bus to Boston to see John Kerry and John Edwards picked as the Democratic Party candidates for President and Vice-President.
Her plan was to continue to empower others politically; however a family crisis in 2007 required her to choose between her personal goals and the needs of her family. Tragically, at the same time her own mother passed, it became necessary for her to step forward and take in a toddler and an infant. These were her grandchildren; so, she sacrificed her own career and raised them as her own. Her political dreams were placed on hold, and she exchanged her classes at Spelman for the rituals of daycare arrangements while holding down a full-time job as a legal parapro to pay the bills. And that involved getting up every morning, getting two teenage girls off to high school, preparing two children for childcare, and later kindergarten, going to work all day, picking up children, stopping by the grocery store, making dinner, feeding children, making sure papers were signed, doing laundry, repeat; every day, every single day, and collapsing into bed at night. Weekends were time to recuperate, a little, on Saturday, and buy groceries. Sundays were for church, and a big meal for as many of her children as she could persuade to show up. And then collapse into bed again, because Monday morning came earlier and earlier, it seemed.
And that's the way it went, until Christmas of 2010, when a crippled bearded motorcycle white boy showed up at her door, with presents for her children, and a 40 year old high school ring and his Army dog tags for her, and told her that when she asked him to marry her, he would say yes.

Back to the present day: the motorcycle white boy speaks. I get email from the White House; it's what happens automatically if you ever email them about a concern. Sometime I just trash before reading, but I read this one; it announced a search for women of influence to attend The White House Summit "The United State Of Women." (Diana Ross was going to be there!) Since I happen to believe I am married to one tough lady, who has worked hard for everything she got, and raised seven children while doing it, I nominated her, with a smidgen of 'Deep background' included as the reason for the nomination. I didn't hold out much hope, frankly; I knew there were going to be lots of high-powered women who would love to get invited to Washington (it turned out there were more than 10,000 applications during the few days they were open. But, on May 25, I received :

Dear Vanessa Kay,
Congratulations! You are one of the nominees chosen to attend The United State of Women Summit on June 14th here in Washington, DC.

And we registered the same day! The event is going to be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, a few blocks from the White House. There will be lots and lots of Women of Power there, but only ONE will have the title of  "Praying Black Grandmother"  on her name tag.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tomorrow Belongs To Me, with music and pictures



Two long and brilliantly fascinating comments:

1. I was talking with Tobiyah and Jennifer, my intelligent and VERY politically astute young (mid 20's, early 30's) black daughters the other night about the election,

AND I remembered my teen years, particularly 1968, the year I turned 15:

Tet Offensive,

The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Bobby Kennedy,

Chicago Democratic Convention, (although the song was more about the trial of the Chicago Seven)

and later the Kent State shootings.

It seems to me that we didn't HAVE
ANY
choices back then, from my perspective.

I voted for George McGovern on an absentee ballot the day they taught us how to fire Claymore mines (FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY) in Basic Training at Ft. Jackson (D-7-2). (He won Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.)

And then I reflected back a few more years to pre-teen years;the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and how we were traveling from Texas to Georgia on the old two lane roads, and the miles and miles of military convoys we had to pass.

And remembering movies like "Alas Babylon" (1960) and nightmares that the Russians were coming down the hallway to kill my baby sister, and the 'duck and cover' exercises we had to practice in school, and the 1963 school civil defense school evacuation drills where we had to walk home in groups because you couldn't count on the bus if the bombs dropped.

And I suppose I could add my experience as a young GI in Germany, knowing I was there to stop the tanks from rolling across the Fulda Gap; and walking across Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin in 1975 wearing my uniform and waving to the Soviets and East German troops.

And I concluded that we ain't got nothing now that even comes close to being a problem, compared to then.

2. The second thought followed watching Donald Trump's speech, after he received the endorsement of the NRA (I'm a Life Member), and listening to his rhetoric.

Recently, the last living "Casablanca" actress, Madeleine LeBeau, passed away. When I heard that, I wanted to watch the scene of her crying as she sang "La Marseillaise;" and, after I did, I followed some links. That can sometimes lead to trouble, I know, but in this case, it just gave me occasion to listen to a couple of other WWII era songs, like the German paratrooper song, and the Horst Wessel song, and the apocryphal Hitler Youth song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" (which isn't from WWII, as it was written for the 1966 Broadway musical "Cabaret"); and then, the thought...

...the thought that I was wishing that I could be patriotic, and feel good about what Donald Trump says, without hearing (in my head) Adolf Hitler using some of the same type of rhetoric to gain leadership of Germany.

(S.A.H. :All we can do is pray and stand ready to defend our ideals.) A worthy addition to end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cherokee County GA: COPS LIKE DONUTS!!!

NOTE: This is MY blog, and MY opinion, and I am in NO WAY affiliated with ANY candidate for any office.

There are some times when I wish this blog had about a million subscribers, and this is one of them. It's because we have an election coming up that matters for Cherokee County.
I'm not a native of Cherokee County, but I've been here since 1991, which may make me an adopted son. I've been here for all of Roger Garrison's term of duty as Sheriff, though, and that gives me something to think about: donuts.
Now, cops love donuts. EVERYBODY knows that. And when Roger Garrison first took office all those years ago, he brought donuts with him, and he put them in the break room.
And nobody would eat them.
Evidently, before Roger was elected, the environment was a lot different in the Sheriff's Office. So different, that the deputies were afraid to eat donuts that were left out for them.
It took Roger making a special announcement before anybody helped themselves to that most favored snack of law enforcement everywhere.
It wasn't just a more hospitable environment Roger brought to Cherokee County; he brought in more professionalism, training, and community outreach programs. We now have a first class Sheriff's Department, one we can be proud of.
And Roger is retiring. So, what does he say we need? (From the article in which he announced his retirement; I can't get the link to work)
He says:
1. We need a younger man, who will have the energy and stamina to get the job done.
2. We need a man who has high-level training in law enforcement.
3. We need a man who has a solid grasp of municipal issues, with a graduate degree in administration.
4. We need a man with local roots.

We have some excellent candidates to choose from for Sheriff this year, but for my money there's only one man that meets the criteria set by the man who modernized and professionalized the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, and that is Frank Reynolds. He has my vote, and I hope he has yours as well.




Thursday, May 12, 2016

My thanks to the girl at the USO

It's a Friday night in 1972, and I'm a broke 19 year old PFC in downtown San Antonio. There are lots of things to do in San Antonio if you have money, but if you don't options are really limited.
I don't remember how I found the USO, there may have been a fellow medic trainee with me, but find it I did, and it was a great place to go. Not much in terms of privacy, but some really great home made pound cake.
And girls.
Forget the scenes in the WWII movies about the jumpin' band rocking the place; I don't remember there being any music at all.
But there was a girl. neatly attired in a very modest and patched dress, who came up to me, and asked me if I would like to talk. Well, yeah.
I poured my heart out to her, giving her my tale of woe, and she listened respectfully. At that point of my life, I didn't HAVE a plan, I was in the hands of the Army for the next three years, and I just had to deal with it. I felt trapped and pitiful, and I told her all about it.
As for what she was doing? She was there with some other girls from her church, to provide a friendly face to whatever lonesome troops showed up.
And on the next Sunday, she was very surprised and happy when I showed up with a friend at her church service.
And that's the end of the story. After church was over, I rode the bus back to base, and met a different girl, and she was interested in fooling around. So I never saw the girl from the USO again.
But 44 years later, wherever you are, thanks. And if you ever happen to visit San Antonio, and see a pleasant lady about age 63 or so: would you smile at them for me?

Friday, May 6, 2016

My mother did all the work. Congratulate her.

I turned my Facebook off yesterday to avoid the birthday greetings, but a number of people found out how to wish me a Happy Birthday anyway, so thanks. And Moose dropped by the house last night and outed me, so Vanessa and the kids (including the adult kids) found out.
In case I haven't mentioned this in an earlier blog post, I don't care for holidays in general , and holidays in which I figure as a main character particular. There is ONE exception to that, which is January 1. I love that holiday.
Okay, so I'm 63. That's 3x3x7, or 9x7. The number 9 is the first non-prime odd number, and 7 is the perfect number in some numerology systems, but I really can't find any significance in there. 
How many years is 63? One way to look at it is to measure the distance from my birth to now, and count BACKWARDS from my birth that same number of years, we arrive at 1890; in other words, the distance from 1890 to my birth is the same distance from my birth until now. And, if we postulate (just for fun; I believe I've passed the half-way mark) that I have lived exactly half my life, then I will live to see the year 2079.






f f f f f f f f f f f f f
p p p p p p p

















l l l l l l l





1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 2060 2070
(Don't worry about the values in the cells. They are worthless. But 'l' stands for decades I've lived; 'p' represents my life span extended backward; and 'f' represents how long I have if I'm halfway through. See? worthless.)

I don't know what any of that means, or if it has any symbolic value at all. I rather doubt that it does.

So, now, I turned Facebook back on, and lots of people are saying 'sorry for yer belated birthday.'
It's not your error; I took my page down.
Look, I didn't do anything on my birthday. If you MUST honor it, tell my mother., She did all the work.

But thanks, anyway.
And sorry for making you think you forgot. (This is the worst blog post I ever wrote, by the way, in terms of incoherence.)