I Warned You: I’m Back.

I’m back.

Yes, that might be bad news if you’ve been rooting for my demise, but very few people who despise me take the time to read this blog.

I took a couple of weeks off from all my vocations to heal up a bit after some surgery. Nothing major, but one of those things that you have to do to keep your eyesight clear and sparkly.

The background is simple: about 7 years ago I had surgery to remove part of my eyelids and pin my eyebrows up a tad. The advancing forehead that comes with age for men in my family had caught up – it was a landslide in favor of the forehead, and as a result it had pushed down into the space reserved for my eyes. I lost quite a bit of peripheral vision, and was constantly tired from holding my eyes wide open. As an experiment, take the next minute to hold your eyes wide open and then when the clock on your screen ticks over to the next minute, multiply that by 60 minutes per hour, 17 hours a day. Yup, gets mighty tiring and contributes to my migrain headaches.

Unfortunately, while the eyelid portion was still working just fine, the eyebrows had continued to migrate toward the tip of my nose. Thus the look below:

If you look closely, other than a fat guy, you will note the eyebrows are basically a straight line, and they are pushing down on the lids. This took away a big chunk of my peripheral vision to the upper part of the eyes.

Last March, during my V.A. physical, we got to the end of the physical and my provider asked if there was anything else we had to do. I mentioned the eyebrows were drooping again. “No problem.”

Now I get to say something you need to hear: God Bless President Donald Trump. My provider has always been good, but the Veterans Choice program has kicked in hard, and combined with an attitude change on the part of many employees, there is a sense of urgency in getting us the care we’ve earned. The new law passed recently codifies it, but I was in under the old law – and the massive attitude change mandated by an angry President Trump.

What’s the big deal? Now, instead of blowing off patients for years, the VA has to get you in to a civilian provider if they can’t handle it in-house within 30 days. I was sent to the Saint Paul Eye Clinic, Dr. Douglas Dworak. Within two weeks. Not six months, not a year, two weeks and they were setting up the appointment at Veterans Choice.

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I love the way the staff, and Doctor Dworak, have treated me. Super clean facilities, extremely friendly, professional, honest, and some great cutting. Every single person I met along the way treated me with great respect and courtesy. Each also provide straight answers and dealt with me as an adult. No lectures, no talking down to me, no condescension. And while it’s early days (less than a month since the surgery) the results look great so far. The key is ice packs the first week, and lots of ointment. I did the ointment, but my beloved spouse kept the pressure on me to use ice packs throughout the first week. My forehead is still thawing.

What does this look like? I’ll let you search the web for videos, but mine was a bit different, in that I had no hairline to hide the scars. Also, most of these surgeries just do the outer third of the brow. Mine was a full browplasty because the whole thing was too low. So Dr. Dworak did the incisions right above the brow, and it looks like my bushy brows will hide the very minimal scarring nicely. Further treatment is planned to take care of any scars, but as long as I keep out of the sun, use sunshade, and avoid any boxing matches I should be an easy fix with just a few injections at most.

Because I know some of you are morbidly curious, click on the “below the …” thingy and you will see pictures from the day of until today. Not pretty, but interesting in a strange sort of way. If you have this problem, it’s a good idea to get checked out. It’s considered medically necessary by most health plans. I abhor plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes, but this is a very useful procedure if you want a quality of life improvement for your vision and fatigue issues.

Before you click the link to look, it ain’t pretty. You’ve been warned. Continue reading

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#HelpahomelessSantafamily

Yeah. I went with a hashtag # on the blog, so that it would flow into the search and twitter engines.

Sorry I’ve been A.W.O.L. for 10 days, but I have a bunch of good reasons I’ll explain next week.

In the meantime, I need your help. A fellow Santa that I knew well passed away this week. What I didn’t know was that his family had become homeless in the last few months. So my friend dies in the hospital, his wife (who is handicapped) is now truly homeless, and they don’t even have the scratch for a memorial service.

I’m asking you, gentle readers, to hit the link below and drop $20 bucks in the kitty if you’ve ever read this blog and gotten something out of it. But only if you can spare it. God has been abundantly good to me, so I dropped in the proceeds from my best Santa event last year. But we need many more people.

$20 isn’t a lot of cash- that’s bagels for the office on Monday. In a small office. It’s what I spend in a month at Tim Hortons. It’s all we need to do if everyone who reads this blog kicks in a donation. Yes, that would find his wife a place to live, give her a new start, and hold a memorial for my friend.

So, if you’d be so kind, here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/5r0jb88
I’ll see you all next week with some gory pictures of me. Promise. (And, yes Doug, they are all gory when I’m captured on film.)

Many thanks for your soon-to-be-astounding generosity.

Santa thanks you.

The late Santa Dale

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Let Me Splain This Clearly

This post is for all of my friends who are distraught over families being separated at the border when they are captured breaking the law. Yes, illegal immigrants. The legal ones come in through ports of entry with documentation. Now that we’ve established the difference, we need to break another line out for you: if you show up with your whole family as a refugee on the border, and are here for economic purposes, you’re faking that as well. Especially if you’re from Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, etc. You had other countries in which to take refugee status on the way here. And, economic gain is not a reason for refugee status.

Now that we’ve eliminated about 99% percent of the people in focus here as having bad reasons, what about the 1% who are real refugees? They are unfortunately buried by the wave of others. Sometimes bad things happen, relatively speaking. But it’s not quite so awful as you might think, so read on… there is a price for everything in this world.

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All of this is because Donald Trump hates brown people, right? Wrong. It’s the law. Has been for years. But he’s especially harsh on foreigners because he’s a xenophobe. Right? Wrong. And I’ll tell you why.

Essentially the people in question are homeless persons with no place to stay while awaiting adjudication. What if a similarly homeless woman in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was arrested for setting abandoned dumpsters on fire. Much like the silly argument that entering the country illegally hurts nobody, we now have a woman who has forced the police and fire department (like the Customs Border Patrol) to respond to the blazing dumpster. She has no address, she’s created a problem, and because you can’t just issue her a ticket and expect her to show up, you arrest her.

What about the kids? Well, some of my evangelical friends, and those on the left, think we should put them all up in the nearest Super 8 hotel and give them free waffles until we can hear the case and determine their fate. Uh, no. You put her in jail, and the kids in foster care if available. But what if you have 5,000 dumpster fires in Kenosha? Not that many foster care facilities. So you put the kids in a converted Walmart that has the facilities to care for them while 5,000 arsonists hang out in jail.

You see, putting children in correctional facilities with their parents is a bad idea. We used to do it in the previous centuries, and it led to horrible crimes against the children. This is for their protection. It’s also part of a straw-man argument that we face: it’s wrong to detain the parents because the children must be detained as well. Let’s not enforce this because it’s bad for the kids.

How about don’t drag your kids across the desert and break into my country in hopes that you will beat our laws and find a new life. How about you follow the immigration process, like everyone should, and then I’ll gladly welcome you in to become a citizen. Don’t want to be a citizen? Then I don’t really want you here. I want people around me that want to be my brother and sister Americans.

But back to the baby being torn from mom’s breast in the evil concentration camp. Not so much a real thing. Hyperbole. Maybe happened once or twice, but if you would like to see the irrational things people do when they are about to be put in custody, just watch three hours of Live PD on Saturday night.

It might change your frame of reference. I hope it does.

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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Then There Was That Other Thing…

For those of you who have been along on this ride for a while, the next line is redundant. For the newcomers, it is safe to say that I have a busy life. In the past 17 days I signed a contract to record a new audio book, I put a novel in the hands of my editor for revisions, I have gardened almost daily, I have been working on a ghost-writing project, I have been taking care of a sick friend, I canned 6 different kinds of jam, I made reservations for a writers conference, I worked full-time at the day job, emceed a Memorial Day service for 1200 people, walked to work almost every day, annoyed hundreds on Facebook & Twitter, worked to organize my church’s mission trip to Haiti, and I agreed to coauthor a children’s book.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

Why? Because I’m happiest when I’m there’s something cooking. That drives my wife nuts, but this winter there was a period of enforced inactivity (relatively speaking) and it started to get to me. I got itchy. I fixed that with a trip the range, and after convincing myself that I am still the greatest shot in my household (Stormy can’t hit a barn with a pistol – no thumbs) I embarked on the current raft of activity.

The new children’s book will be co-authored by the most brilliant writer in the greater Buffalo area: my niece. She called me on Thursday and asked if I would write a book for people her age. I agreed, but only if she’ll help me write it. I need the help, she’s way smarter than I ever was, or will be. My niece and nephew are both great youngsters, and I am more in awe of them with each day. The elder of the pair is already able to deliver graduate level lectures on character development and plot as it relates to the Marvel Universe, and I have no doubt that his younger sibling will drag me along on the writing ride of my life.

Jane, I am so looking forward to our working together.

Now, If I can only get Stormy to put that pistol down…

“Who me?

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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Let’s Take A Moment To Help Others, But Not At The Cost Of Our Values.

Free association. It’s a great part of the American identity. Unfortunately, it’s been under fire the last few decades under the misguided (in my opinion) conception that you must treat everyone equally at all times in every way or you are criminally/civilly liable. This has been construed to mean that you must provide services to causes/lifestyles that you find morally objectionable.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday in the case of a Colorado baker who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado state officials then bludgeoned the man with bureaucracy and tried to destroy his business. It has happened to others, and will probably happen again. The court ruled that he had been singled out and maliciously treated. The court did not rule, specifically, on the constitutionality of the case regarding his alleged obligation to bake a cake for a gay couple.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

I can’t help but wonder what the implications are of this societal need to make you comply with the current moral climate. We never seem to learn that these things are transitory, and change with each era. Following one’s own internal compass, especially if it’s based in your belief in God, is not a bad guideline to avoid the moving target that we face today.

But, you say, some religions allow you to discriminate against homosexuals, women, and those of color! I guess that’s true, but I’m not talking about the codified structural systems under Sharia law. I’m talking about, as noted in the first sentence today, the right to free association.

It is fairly simple: the market will make room for any product for which there is a demand. You do not need to force people to provide goods and services based on lifestyle. If you haven’t paid attention, it is literally impossible to tell if someone is gay by looking at them. Black, Hispanic, etc., are visual in most cases, and discrimination on that basis shouldn’t be allowed. If a gay man goes into a bakery and orders a dozen pies, and his cash is good, nobody cares. But asking someone of faith, regardless of that faith, to make a product they deem objectionable violates the concept of free speech and association. There are others in the market that will provide what they desire, and since there is no monopoly on baking cakes, or flower arrangements, or photography, you can find another provider who will accommodate your needs and lifestyle.

You may ask, “Well, where’s the line?” It’s a good question. I won’t even try to answer it, it’s like pornography: I’ll know it when I see it. But I do know this much: if I was asked to be Santa for a gay couple’s children, I would. I have. I’m not blessing their association, I’m entertaining their children. If I was asked to officiate a gay wedding as Santa, that would be another story, as it would involve my religious faith, and set of principles, in the matter of holy matrimony. Similarly, if you asked me to be Santa at a NAMBLA event, there’s a really good chance of Hell freezing over before I’d take the gig.

In the current climate, I am not allowed to make all of the choices I want to make regarding these sorts of issues. So I have tightly restricted what I will and won’t do as a performer, and as a writer, to fit into my worldview. It means that I do turn down some things that I don’t object to just so that I am protected when the objectionable things come along. Is that fair to me? I can’t take work, or advertise for work, that I’d like to do because it means I might have to accept work from someone who’s life choices I find objectionable on a faith level?

Before you rush to flood me with work requests for events where they torture penguins in cyberspace, and take dirty pictures with middle-aged men, be aware that I won’t be available that day. I’ve turned down plenty of work from straight white people that involved tasks that I will not do. Examples? A party where the goal is to get really drunk and then cavort with Santa. A dirty/bad Santa telling off-color jokes *(Did you hear about the life-size Babzie doll and the drunken elves?)*, a stripping Santa (When you get done gagging, I have to say the paycheck offered was enormous.) And the list goes on.

What I suggest, humbly, is that you treat people nicely. And since you don’t want to be forced to bake the cake for White Supremacy Day, or make a floral arrangement that says “I hope you rot in hell because you’re a (fill in the blank)” that you not force that on other people. I am betting that someone will do it if you don’t want to do it. I know for a fact they found people to fill in the events above when I turned them down.

My point is simple: government should not be forcing people to provide business services to anyone. Yes, there will be mindless, stupid discrimination. Some of it will be mean spirited in your opinion. But should I really be able to go to the Hilal restaurant and order a BLT? Because I don’t think I should. I respect their choice. And there are plenty of other places that will make me the sandwich.

Let’s head back to that golden rule: don’t force other people to eat the crow you despise.

On that note, go out and be decent to everyone you meet.
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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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