Reflections on an eve

Getting ready for my bookstore prep, thought I’d share this as my fiftieth eve approaches. 

It goes back to my seventh grade English teacher at South Jr. High in Boise. She had the class write up letters to ourselves, seal them in an envelope with our names and year on it, and give to her for a safekeeping. All she asked was that we’d come back for them after high school graduation

I’m not sure how many others came back, but I made it a point. I remember watching her sort through the boxes, labeled by year, from all the classes she’d taught, handling each box with a graceful dignity.

The lid from my year was lifted, she flipped through the envelopes like a card catalog until she had mine. She asked if I’d stay to read it, not wanting to know the contents, but just curious as to my response. Rereading a letter to myself with only a difference of five years was strange, the things I found important, the questions I asked. Looking back there are questions should’ve I asked her, but those are the questions of an older, not younger, me.

The letter’s been lost in the ensuing years of moves and deployments, as has the memory of the exact contents, but I still recall the reading proper, the feelings it brought up.

Thinking of that letter helps enforce my practice of keeping a journal and being able to randomly pluck one from the pile, cracking to a random page. Trying to maintain better breadcrumbs, especially after finding MS can lead to some memory issues.

Along those lines, I’ve a habit that I’ve been doing every ten years since my thirtieth birthday, but this particular reread involves books by others.

I do annual rereads often, usually for a holiday, like reading Martin Luther King on his birthday, Rabbie Burns on Burns Day, Bobby Frost and other poets just because. The obvious stuff. But there’s other reads that hit me harder than others, and deserve a bit more work.

The reads that changed my perspective on life the most were “Life without Principle” by Thoreau and Meditations by Aurelius. 

I reread both often, but I’ve made it a point every decadal birthday to go out, find and buy a new copy. Then, pencil in hand, I reread and mark up the points that interest me. After all that’s done, I’ll take the older copy, or copies, and compare to see how my train of thought has changed I since the last reads. 

If you have a favorite book that you’ve writ up the same, it’s a unique time capsule. Do the same passages still capture you? Why don’t older highlights make the same impact? What’s happened betwixt to cause the change? All sorts of questions can come to mind. Sometimes there might even be answers. Some you might even like.

And that again is how I’ll be spending my birthday on Columbus day, my fiftieth, this tumultuous year. With everything that has been going on this year, falling back on a routine of reflection seems to be a sound and comforting plan.


So much for “Love thy Neighbor”

Larimer County is on the raggedy edge of maintaining our state exemption allowing our current level (I know, not great, but more than we’d be allowed otherwise) of business, bar, and restaurant openings as it is with campus opening back up.

Christian Leader Sean Feucht’s Visits To Fort Collins And Colorado Springs Worry Health Officials

Now we have the religious folk, who don’t even live here coming in, ignoring what we’re trying to do, then moving on to let us deal with the consequences. Outside agitators of the religious type.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not of organized religion. I’ve got no problems with anyone practicing their own religion, as long as it doesn’t affect others.

This is just another example to be added to my overflowing bag of religious types using their “god” to push their personal beliefs then move on leaving the damage behind.

Simply put, “Love thy neighbor” in my world means not getting them sick.

Highlights from the recent DHS Whistleblower Document

If this allegation is proven, it’s a particularly damning assessment of actions to undermine National Security while promoting an administration’s agenda. If even one of the five accusations is proven, the implications are enormous of a sitting administration’s appointees actively conspiring to alter intelligence reports to match what the administration is promoting as fact to further its aims.

Summary of Accusations

  • Perjuring Testimony before Congress regarding the Border Wall
  • Changing intelligence reports to support administration policies in denying asylum for Central American refugees
  • Changing intelligence assessments to downplay Russian election interference and to highlight Iran and China instead.
  • Changing intelligence on local threats to highlight “left” leaning groups
  • Changing intelligence to support President’s public statements re “ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups.”

Dramatis personae

  • Brian Murphy (“Mr. Murphy”),Principal Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Whistleblower
  • Kirstjen Nielsen (“Secretary Nielsen”), former DHS Secretary
  • Miles Taylor (“Mr. Taylor”), former Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Nielsen
  • Chad Wolf (“Mr. Wolf”), the Senior Official currently serving as Acting DHS Secretary
  • Kenneth Cuccinelli (“Mr.Cuccinelli”), the Senior Official serving as Deputy DHS Secretary.
  • Kristen Marquardt (“Ms. Marquadt” [sic]), Senior Counselor To the Secretary at Department of Homeland Security
  • Clare Grady (“Ms. Grady”), then-Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary
  • David Glawe (“Mr. Glawe”), Office of Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary
  • Matthew Hanna (“Mr. Hanna”), Mr. Glawe’s Chief of Staff

From the posted complaint at intelligence.house.gov, copy below

Page 4: Perjured Testimony before Congress regarding the Border Wall

On or about October 29, 2018, Mr. Glawe informed Mr. Murphy that instructions from Mr. Taylor and Ms. Marquadt had been issued for Mr. Murphy to ensure the intelligence assessments he produced for Secretary Nielsen’s review supported the policy argument that large numbers of KSTs [known or suspected terrorists] were entering the United States through the southwest border.

page 5

Page 9: Changing intelligence reports to support administration policies in denying asylum for Central American refugees

Mr. Cuccinelli stated he wanted changes to the information outlining high levels of corruption, violence, and poor economic conditions in the three respective countries. Mr. Cuccinelli expressed frustration with the intelligence reports, and he accused unknown “deep state intelligence analysts” of compiling the intelligence information to undermine President Donald J. Trump’s (“President Trump”) policy objectives with respect to asylum. Notwithstanding Mr. Murphy’s response that the intelligence reports’ assessments were consistent with past assessments made for several years, Mr. Cuccinelli ordered Messrs. Murphy and Glawe to identify the names of the “deep state” individuals who compiled the intelligence reports and to either fire or reassign them immediately

page 9

Page 10: Changing intelligence assessments to downplay Russian election interference and to highlight Iran and China instead.

In mid-May 2020, Mr. Wolf instructed Mr. Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran. Mr. Wolf stated that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

page 12

The two men met on July 8, 2020, at which time Mr. Wolf stated to Mr. Murphy the intelligence notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad”. Mr. Murphy objected, stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons for political embarrassment. In response, Mr. Wolf took steps to exclude Mr. Murphy from relevant future meetings on the subject. The draft product was eventually completed without Mr. Murphy’s involvement and was made public in a leak to the media by unknown individuals. It is Mr. Murphy’s assessment that the analysis in the leaked “completed draft” attempts to place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China in a manner that is misleading and inconsistent with the actual intelligence data

page 12

Page 12: Change intelligence on local threats to highlight “left” leaning groups

Mr. Cuccinelli stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on White Supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent “left-wing” groups.

page 13

Page 15: Change intelligence to support President’s public statements

During multiple meetings between the end of May 2020 and July 31, 2020, Mr. Murphy made protected disclosures to Messrs. Wolf and Cuccinelli regarding abuse of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program with respect to intelligence information on ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups operating throughout the United States. On each occasion, 15 Mr. Murphy was instructed by Mr. Wolf and/or Mr. Cuccinelli to modify intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with the public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups.

page 15

Presidential Thoughts

What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course? 

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

Remarks by the President at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches
The First Family waits with former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush prior to the walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia wait with former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush prior to the walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Kept quiet too long

We all stare at our Reflections in bright shiny bubbles, rarely looking outside the walls that reflect our cravings for information that we feel support our truths, our beliefs.  We all live in these information “bubbles,” fenced in by our social “likes,” the blogs and websites we visit daily. The bubbles tell us what we want to hear, how we should think, confirm our thoughts and allow us to move on without much more thought.

It’s much like saying you’ve “traveled” to other countries, when in reality you stayed in the resort bubble with the pool bar and private beach, never venturing into the local neighborhoods, or conversing with the locals

And the worst of it? We fight to ensure that these bubbles do not pop: we denounce,  we shout, we argue, we spat with anyone who might dare try to stretch the bubble fearing that it may pop, fearing we may be cast from our tribe.

I watch the events going on, I see the posts and the memes bouncing around, unsure who is throwing these out or if they’re actually written by the folk posting them.

I watch a convention where family members are front and center promoting the candidate, grooming themselves to be The Heirs of the Dynasty.

I watch one candidate do photo ops, while the other asks asks and listens to the affected.

I see peaceful protests tear gassed and paint balled. I see violent protests where self proclaimed, do-it-yourself law and order is condoned. I hear of people pulled from the streets into vans by unidentified members of … what? Unaccountable enforcers? Self-appointed protectors?

I hear the cries for Law and Order, but I rarely hear the cries for Justice from on high. The calls for Justice come from the citizens, cast to the deaf ears of leaders. I remember back to 2016, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”  

Now we’re warned of the dystopian violence and crime that will befall us after the election, destroying our nation, if our current president loses. Yet, this all has happened on his watch.

Now, look around. Here we are, on the raggedy edge, seeing the very things we were told the votes would prevent. Also, from the same speech, “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.” How protected do we as citizens feel three and a half years later?

I see the numbers every day, my friends sick, unemployed, facing evictions, foreclosures, shuttering their hard earned businesses. Every day gives us 250 times the Benghazi deaths. Where are the years of Republican hearings? There were boasting tweets early on of saving 700 jobs, now we’ve lost, what, twenty-eight million?

Every 3 days gives us the same number of deaths that befell us the last time are government ignored our intelligence agencies in 2001.  Where is the commission to investigate the failings? 

To cover that first failure, from a military perspective, I’ve watched from the bench for nineteen years as over 7,000 of my brothers and sisters came home, their families given flags and thanked for their sacrifice. Seven days at our current numbers. But it’s OK, it’s pointed out that our fatality rate is one of the lowest in the world, and “it is what it is.

A generation ago, we led the world, we led the world and went to the moon with the words “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” 

Presidential words, presidential leadership, presidential inspiration. Something I’d like to hear and see again.

Ars Poetica

Right off the bat with poetry,
if you’re reading this,
you’re doing it wrong.
Poetry is meant to be heard.
It’s the way that it’s always been.
So use your diaphragm,
your voice to read it out loud
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a coffee shop ,
have the guy typing on his laptop give you a glare
while you howl about your Ginsburg

But yet you look at the poem,
lying there on it’s page etherized
like a cat in the fog
and you think about how gto read it.
You see the odd line feeds
breaking up the words the sentences
and you think to yourself
how should I read this? You read it.

The line feeds Maybe pauses
or maybe breaks
or they may be just flourishes
affectations
put on the Page by the poet
because he thought it looked pretty.
Unless of course you’re

                 Mr
            E
        E
Cummings
                     and you
              spread
                          the words
about           the             page
             (randomly)

like traffic on a Wyoming freeway
to try to give it that look you call Jazz.
But I never really liked jazz.

The poem is the words coming home

is the metaphors,
the poem is the similes,
the order is important
but the words
and the sounds they convey
of what the poet it’s trying to say

Yet, here we are,
lines later,
still looking at the page
as I baited you
with blank space
With the thought
you should read
What your need to
Hear

Nursing Home Christmas

A quiet call from a dim room
Catches my ear
I call for nurse and go in
A frail arm waves to me
and takes my hand
Trembling like a wounded bird
I hold lightly, a grip of gossamer
Not wanting to crush
with my wheelchair grip
As I wait for the nurse
The breaths become shallower
Until they stop
The grip loosens
I feel a wisp brush my cheek
And I’m alone in the room
Until the nurse comes in
While christmas blinks in the window

On the passing of my father

My father passed away Thursday just a little after noon. He’d been in and out of emergency rooms for a couple weeks trying to figure out various complaints to no result until the last, which was the second ER trip after visits to the urgent care clinic our docs operate. 

The last admission led to a diagnosis of lung cancer, which had spread to the brain. The doctor last Saturday let me look over his shoulder at the CT scans that’d led to his diagnosis. A bright nova the size of a racquetball in the scan was the major indicator, an alpha dog amidst the pack. 

How I paid for all my college gave me more than I needed to know with the scans. I’d already surmised the same from the blood work I’d had access to. 

After the doc told him, he was so calm, finally having an answer to the last several months of concerns. Knowledge, while a burden, can also be a bringer of peace. 

For the first two days after the reveal, he was on target, brain dumping to me everything he felt I needed that I knew or didn’t know. His first concern was to make sure his wife of fifty one years was taken care of. Everything else was in the rumble seat. 

Mom has been in rehab since last November. Her MS stole her legs and dropped her on her poreiotic spine. The damage was outlandish, requiring hardware, and multiple visits to Aurora, not an easy trip from the Fort. Her back finally closed from the surgery a few days ago, but we’ll not go into the angst in that one for now. 

Short story longer, since November last, mom’s been home a month, dad has been “baching” it at home the rest of the time. Every day, he’d make the drive to see her at rehab here in the Fort, grab her laundry and set with her a bit. Before this last, he’d not been over to visit as much, and his guilt was overwhelming. Two folk from a generation of “don’t worry about it.” 

The hardest was the fifty first anniversary, this last eighth of August. Dad didn’t trust his legs, refused to “bother” me and their anniversary was phoned in. I didn’t know as I was told they got together from both. Bad son. 

Dad went into Hospice, I visited as often as I could, yet he slid down the pale slope so quickly I worried he wouldn’t know we were there as he drifted with the tide of his cancer. The facility mom was being cared for in ensured transport so we were both there, wheels in line to keep him company.  

Thursday, I left work early to try (again) to get my wheelchair frame replaced, the fourth attempt now. I was planning to get the chair done, then spend the afternoon again with dad, the wheelchair techs costing me too much time as it was. Got a call at the scheduled time to say it’d be another hour and a half. I hung up and got the call from Hospice. My amazing wife backed me up: I picked her and the dogs up and rushed over. Mom was there, but we’d both missed his departure by some minutes. 

I’ve paid my way through college with being there for too many deaths. I’m worried I’ve become cold, callous, due to my exposure. It’s harder when it’s family though. At least I was able to bring some comfort to mom. At least I hope I did. We sat and chatted, holding hands for a few hours watching over my father’s emaciated body (as with all deaths, he’d chosen to refuse food the last several days). 

Now I’m working through the funereal duties of the son, I love them both too much not to. Some semblance of calm in the silence.

Signatures and arrangements, set to my parents final wishes. Paperwork is the bane of life, and it seems even death can’t free you from it, it’s just someone else has to sign. At the end, all you’re left with is ink and, if you’re lucky, memories and some photos Better than photos and some memories. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones, make memories, live while you are.

Cue the hatery (should commentry ensue)

The numbers state that in 2015, the US had over 33,000 opioid deaths. For this, our elected president declared a “national emergency” (yet nothing seems to have been done). 

Compare that with the 30,000  a year in the US from gun violence. Yet again, nothing’s to be done. It’s not just this president, it’s been this way at least since I could vote. The sophists we elected choose to offer hollow words rather than solid actions.

This comes to my mind this morning as I listen to the sound of gunfire this morning on NPR,  brought to us from folk’s video in Las Vegas. It’s a sound I’m intimately familiar with, as well as the effects on the human body. 

I turned off the radio, not my usual action on a Sunday morning. At a point in my life, I volunteered for a job that exposed me to such things so I could better myself with college. I made a choice, others who chose not to make that choice should not have to be exposed to such things. That, to me, is America. You can choose what and what not to do. 

Yet, we’ve become too accepting of death. The vice-president speaks to the mourning and tells them we “are united in our resolve to end such evil in our time,” but the talking heads prove we are not. The casusists will drown out reason with purchased words. 

Once again we hear “It was a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.” Just like the last one. Just like Columbine. Just like Newtown. Just like Aurora.  Just like Orlando. Sadly, it’s become far too imaginable.  

Yet, to speak of any of this publicly will heap scorn and threats upon the writers, even if all we do is ask ” what can we do?”

Spending most of my life in the West, I’ve a more then passing acquaintance with guns. There’s a purpose out here. Hunting for food; defense from dangerous critters who mean us harm while in the hills. But there also needs to be a reasonable limit. But for this topic, reason seems to be slapped down by polemics.