Really Sweet Stuff.

I just finished the annual dance with the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. While I’m still very angry about the national scandals involving the VA, and think a whole raft of national level administrators and staff need to be fired, I’m very happy with the treatment I have had in Minneapolis.

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Starting with the young volunteer at the blood draw clinic, it was all good. She had one of those smiles that melts the heart of even the worst curmudgeon. Standing at the check-in station, she was spending her Friday morning off from Saint Thomas University helping veterans with the computer scan. Each person got a kind word and a big smile.

The tech who drew my blood was a fellow dog lover, and we had a great conversation while she hit my very difficult veins. No pain, no extra bleeding – the touch of an angel. In and out in just under 8 minutes.

Primary care? Another kind lady in a red vest helping people check in and get to the assembly area to wait. About 15 minutes later I was ushered in for the vitals and an interview. Ten minutes later it was the Primary Care Provider. While I was with her my phone started ringing. Turned it off so as not to be rude. Good examination,

Exam done, I now had four hours to kill until my audiology appointment. Good time to check the voice mail left while I was in my exam.

The voice mail was from the next appointment. Great. They’re going to cancel me and I took the day off to get this done.

Nope. “Could you come earlier? We noticed you’re already here and we have an earlier opening.”

I hotfooted it down to the clinic in question, and the woman behind the desk said my name before I could give it. “You must be Santa Joe! I’ll make you a deal – I’ll skip my lunch if you want, and we can do your exam in 15 minutes. Sound better than waiting until this afternoon?”

I knew then that I had been slipped a hypnotic when the blood draw was done. I had previously spent endless hours in that clinic over the years. But, since I could not find a camera crew, and I didn’t feel dizzy, I assumed it was a blessing.

One hour later I was done. That’s the good news. Well, part two of the good news. Best news was that all my blood work was within standards for the first time in over a decade. The other part of the good news is that I’m getting some very spiffy Blue Tooth compatible hearing aids.

The bad news? My hearing is much worse than during the last exam. I said that I figured as much since there were letters I could no longer distinguish between, such as “S” and “F”. This is a problem, because in my day job I have to be on the phone all day with my field force. Guess which two letters are the only variables in the code sequences we use? Yes, those two.

At this point the audiology team both lit up like candles. They popped a graphic on the screen and showed me the hearing loss in both ears. Plotted outside the hearing range of both my ears were three letters – two of them mentioned above.

But the nifty new hearing aids will incorporate with my telephone at work once I get the paperwork filled out. I will be far more able to do my job, and function in most environments, once I can hear well again.

On my way to the ramp, I ran across a man in a wheel chair who had trouble navigating. He’d broken some toes and couldn’t walk, but wasn’t used to the wheel chair yet. I wheeled him to where he was going. You see, that’s what veterans do for each other.

The moral of the story? I’d had a blessed day. Treated well, able to help others, and found to be in better shape than a year ago. I had been graced with blessings from the moment I hit the ramp, and was able to bestow one myself as I left.

A really sweet day. Hope this one is the same for you.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

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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Is There Anything More Useless Than The Next-day Review Of The Big Game?

I’d posit that perhaps, just maybe, there are more useless things than revisiting a sporting event that’s concluded the day before: but you have to work really hard to top that action.

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One example would be “How will this win impact the quarterback? Doesn’t matter who it is: they’ll be given accolades and more endorsement money unless they screw up. They may retire. They may play another year. They may win another Big Game. They may be killed in a freak shower incident. Doesn’t matter: none of us can predict the future in that way.

Discussing the multiple bad things that have happened to you in your life, none of which was the result of your actions. Again,time travel hasn’t matured, so “what-iffing” the tragic collision you were in as a teenager, the death of your spouse due to an aneurysm, the accidental escape of a beloved pet bird, and a lightning strike while sitting in a house are all equally useless.

I’d like to add that bemoaning the spelling error on your resume that slipped past proof reading in 1993 is on the same list. Did it cost you a job? You’ll likely never know.

What kinds of thought are not useless and boring? How about a review of what you might improve to better the future?

Plan that next novel. Think about the need to exercise more, and start putting down the foundation for taking it to action. Stop wasting your time reading the blog of some moron and start your own blog. (You, of course, will be called a moron as well.) Be more kind to others. Spend time in prayer and reflection. Shut your mouth and listen. Turn off the television. The list is endless.

But by the simple act of making that list, and doing something concrete to enact it, you are improving yourself. You can validate your plans down the road by looking at the word count on your book. The number of miles you’ve walked. The number of homeless you’ve fed. The number on the scale after you’ve quit eating 8 donuts every day.

We humans don’t do well with such things. We talk about them, but rarely move forward.

The question for you is this: will you spend the next week ruminating about “the big game” or will you take that time to list out your objectives for 2017 (and beyond) and make a start on achieving them?

I’d love to talk more about it, but I have an audition for an audio book, a sequel to write, a paid writing project that requires research, a need to pack my backpack for the walk to work tomorrow morning, a dog that needs grooming, and a load of laundry waiting for my attention. It’s all on my list.

Have an excellent day. I truly appreciate your stopping by to read this blog.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

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.

Posted in Assault on Saint Agnes, audio book, extraordinarily sage advice and unwanted butting in, Sincere Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is There Anything More Useless Than The Next-day Review Of The Big Game?

I Just Realized: It’s Not Left Or Right That’s The Problem – It’s Elitists.

Let me clear the air by first admitting that I’m way smarter than most other people and I’m not shy about it.

Not the kind of thing people usually say, much less believe of themselves – unless they’re honest.

I will never be the best employee at any place I work. Nor will I be the smartest. Walking down the street, I pass people who are smarter than I am on a regular basis. I’m not even as smart as some of the homeless guys I know. I haven’t written the best book you’ll ever read. (I like Shibumi way more than my own stuff.)

But I know that I’m still smarter than the average person. And, I wrote a book. I’ve also held jobs ranging from dishwasher to author, with stops along the way to be a Cryptologic Technician, computer specialist, forklift driver, temporary secretary, etc. God blessed me with a pretty substantial brain. I may not be the best in everything, but I do know a moderate amount about a really wide range of topics. I enjoy hanging out with others who have that gift as well. They don’t need to have any more than a grade-school education, maybe even not that much. Heck, some of them are illiterate. But all of them are curious people who listen and think. Those are my true friends.

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But none of them are truly elites. I know some really wealthy people as well as the poor. I know some people are ranked up there in the world of competitive chess. I also know more than my fair share of authors. But none of them has ever acted like an elite.

Elites, in my definition, are those smarmy animals that look down their nose at us commoners because we didn’t attend an Ivy League school, didn’t belong to the right clubs, or suckle at the public teat as a politician for the majority of their lives. They view people like Donald Trump, Joseph Courtemanche, and most of you, as clods who wouldn’t make it in their rarefied atmosphere. There are elites who have no claim to it, but they act as though we are without merit because we don’t subscribe to their political philosophy. We’re too stupid to comprehend it (in their opinion). Besides, The Donald and I merely have some minor degree from a school like a state university, or Wharton. What kinds of swine never go on to study at a higher level?

Normally you would just ignore jackasses of this sort. I do for the most part. On occasion I’ll open up a can of vintage sarcasm and sophistication on them. They aren’t expecting it from a peasant like me. It’s fun to watch the stunned response. On one notable occasion of late, I tried to point out to an attorney that the contract she was screaming about didn’t actually say what she thought. This set off a long, tedious tantrum on her part. Strangely, it was all in my favor. It came down to the tense of a word. It was not in the future tense. Consequently, it applied to that specific clause only at the time the contract was executed. I’m sure she’s still typing away on Facebook about the rube from Minnesota. But if it goes to court, I’ll smile the whole day long when the verdict comes out.

That’s why the fools in the Congress are all pouts and miffed that people just like them aren’t being nominated to the cabinet, to ambassadorships, to the Supreme Court, or to positions of power in the new government. You see, this guy in charge isn’t overly impressed by that sort of thing. He doesn’t accord them the level of deference they feel they deserve. He’s an outsider who’s never been in government before. And that annoys the Patricians on both the left and the right. It really grasses the elite press – how dare some blogger from Des Moines get a Skype slot at the White House Press Briefing!

We, the people, aren’t smart enough to do this without the guidance of our betters. We will mess things up. Why, there could be a revolution if Trump isn’t careful!

Yes. There very well could be a revolution. But not the kind the elites are rooting for. This one started in November when the unwashed mob of tanker truck drivers, authors, mothers, bus drivers, college professors, lawyers, doctors, preachers, and other members of the common class stood in a voting booth and pulled a lever.

The revolution will increase in vigor with every road blocked, every punch thrown at a helpless victim by a mob of anarchists, with each business boycotted by the left, and with every politician telling us that we are not good enough to be in charge of our own destiny.

It will start slowly. A good example is the push-back on Facebook against abusive memes from the left and fake news. More and more people who politely ignored it for the last 10 years are pushing back. Not just removing friends, but letting them have it with good arguments and facts.

It will progress. When the mob sweeps into a business to hurt people, and break things, no longer will people stand idly by and watch. They will fight back. That does not bode well for the left and the elitists: they didn’t go to basic training. They don’t have guns in their homes. They don’t know how to get by without skilled workmen (most of whom are red-staters at heart) to do their plumbing or electrical. We do those things in our jobs. Our fathers, and mothers, taught us how to do them. We don’t need the elites, but they surely need us.

That, in conclusion, is why the elitists need to dial it down about three notches. Political violence is not the answer. For we will meet it tenfold if you threaten our families and our businesses. We will not be screamed at, abused, and trampled to avoid further conflict. That time is over. It is now time for the nonsense to stop. It is time to back up and start talking to each other civilly.

Because if it isn’t civil, based on what I’ve seen thus far, it won’t do anything less than energize the 2020 election of President trump for his second term. And it could do far more. I like this country to be a reasonable place. I pray for it.

So, before you block that sidewalk, throw that rock, smash that window, remember we’re around somewhere nearby. We aren’t good enough for your standards to be of much concern, but I’d like to quote a couple of lines from Toby Keith:”I aint as good as I once was, I got a few years on me now. But there was a time, back in my prime, when I could really lay it down. I aint’ as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”

Remember: you can only push a man so far. Right now, a lot of Americans are done being told they’re racist, homophobic, immigrant haters. Some of us are gay immigrants with dark skin. Don’t underestimate the depth of Trump’s resolve. Or ours.

Let’s keep it civil. And talk to each other. For the alternative is a very dark place none of us really want to go.

Don’t let the elites drive us off the cliff.
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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

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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1000th Post Coming In February

Welcome back. My thanks to the many readers who communicated privately after the post about Ranger 12 and my two friends, Patrick Price and Craig Rudolph. It’s always nice to hear from you, but doubly nice when you were friends of friends.

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Today I’ll just throw out all sorts of dreck that’s been accumulating here in the bilges.

First, my dog Stormy really thinks I’m a smart guy. She, as a matter of fact, has accorded me the honor of having special mental powers. It seems that during my wife’s recent winter break in Florida, Stormy decided that not only could I read the meaning in her droppings on the rug, but I was capable, evidently, of reading her special script on the rug – the kind that can only be written in secret urine.

Resting her head on the tablet in question.

Yeah. She was mad that her best friend (mine as well) had headed south to get some sunshine. I even went the extra mile to put out the puppy pads for her. Nope. Off by just 7 or 8 inches every time. This from a dog who can bullseye a womp rat every time. Seriously, there are Marine snipers who aren’t able to put it on target quite like her. Evidently I’m not as smart as she thinks. But I do appreciate her faith in me. Thankfully, my wife returned last week and the decorating spree has ended.

Item next: I’ve started a new chapter in my writing – taxes.

Good grief. The pain in the butt to document everything to the government is mind-boggling. I didn’t make any money as an author last year. Yes, I sold books, but it’s not very lucrative unless you have a huge seller. I was not having fun doing the sales tax calculations (I keep good records, but you do have to cough it up to the state once a year) and spent a lot of hours on the task. But better to do it right than to get fined.

Speaking of fines, Amazon has somehow decided that 5 of my reviews were fakes and pulled them down. Seriously, I’m tempted to open 20 or 30 Amazon accounts with debit cards and flood them with reviews. They seem to think that’s what I’m doing now, so I might as well reap the reward. Not too many things in life make an author more indignant than having a 5 star review pulled because some algorithm says it’s probably fake. To the best of my knowledge, that brings me to 30 reviews they’ve nixed. I made that number up. I admit it. But it’s over 20, and who knows how many more never got posted because of some technical issue.

While I’m whining, let me touch on the subject of Bob Beckel. He’s back on The Five. Bob has the “fingers-in-his-ears-I-can’t-hear-you” thing going on all the time. He is the epitome of the guy who hears your first five words and then starts planning his rebuttal. I think I will be watching The Five a lot less in the near future.

Teaching. Ye Gods, but the wind in my hair is magnificent! Or something. I’ll be teaching at a national writing conference this fall. Very excited about the opportunity to let my experience with weapons and violence – that doesn’t sound quite right, but I’ll let it stand – benefit my fellow writers. If I can infuse some authenticity into their writing, we’ve all won. One of my topics is “How to kill your opponent with a roll of dimes.” Something like that: it’s on personal weaponry. Weapons of opportunity will be part of the lesson.

Writing. Yes, the sequel is in progress. I think it’s very good. I am also working on three other books at the same time. It might be later this year. I’d planned on it being this week, but life has a habit of getting in the way. I do promise to try. I’m optimistic about it happening.

Snow shoeing is a bust this month. Good grief. I live in Minnesota, and the snow stinks for outdoor activity due to the layer of ice under the surface. We had a couple of days of rain this month, and under the 2 inches of snow in my area you will find a two inch layer of solid ice. Even the pair of snow shoes with the crampons built in won’t grab on that stuff. Pray for snow. I have a race to train for this month. 20 days to go and I’m not nearly ready.

I think that’s enough blather for the moment. I promise a real blog later this week.

Thank you, again, to all the new readers who stopped by last week. I hope you’ll stick around for a while. It does get better.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

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.

Posted in Assault on Saint Agnes, dogs, Lazy author with nothing to blog about, Stormy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Stopped At The Spot Bar For A Drink With My Friends Pat & Craig.

Thirty years ago two of my friends died in the crash of Ranger 12 on the U.S.S. Nimitz. They were Cryptologic Technicians Interpretive Third Class Craig Rudolph and Patrick Price. I talked about the story in a previous edition of Commotion In The Pews. Please take a read before continuing.

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Glad you’re back. Most of my friends from the Navy, who constitute most of my friends, knew these guys. Our group was very small, very select in terms of unique skills and clearances. As a result, when that plane went down, people across the globe shed a tear. From Adak, Alaska to Diego Garcia, someone in that Naval Security Group unit knew one of those guys.

Their deaths had a world shaking impact on their families. We were part of that family. On the 25th, many of my friends wrote blogs and posted on Facebook about the loss of this group of men. I did not.

Frankly, I had been dwelling on it for the last few weeks. Every year this anniversary brings to the surface a lot of emotions for me. Mainly of loss. Not only did we lose those guys thirty years ago, but my friend Pete checked himself out over a decade ago. He was with me on my first submarine mission when the deck of the Nimitz became the last sovereign territory of the United States where my friends touched the face of the Earth. Their next stop was the bottom of the Mediterranean. The bodies were never recovered.

Now, three decades later I finally got to have a drink with my friends. I’ve written about it for years, but on the 25th, at about the hour they died, I walked into the Spot Bar in Saint Paul and bought a round for my friends.

If you’ve never been in the military, or a cop/firefighter/EMT etc., it’s probably hard to understand this tradition.

You honor your friends by buying them a drink. You place their name next to the drinks. You make sure the bartender knows that the seat is theirs until closing time. I had a sip of beer and an Ouzo with my friends. It was good. They were guys who’d enjoy a Hamm’s and a shot. Especially since every spook I knew drank Ouzo when they were deployed.

After hoisting my glass, and downing my shot, I bid farewell to my friends until Memorial Day. I’ll think of them in the meantime. Can’t help it. Friends from my youth are getting thinner on the ground, thicker around the middle.

I left the bar in darkness and cold. It wasn’t just winter that enshrouded me: it was 1300 fathoms of sea water and thirty years of memories that they would never share.

Freedom doesn’t come free.

They paid for their seat at the bar 30 years ago.

Thank you, Ranger 12. And all the rest who have paid the ultimate price to give us freedom.
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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

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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