“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Sunday, December 25, 2016

History to Ponder

For those of you who are in the "Millenial" generation, you truly have no understanding of what it was like to grow up under the shadow of the Cold War. Between the threat of nuclear annihilation and mutually assured destruction, the posturing and rhetoric of proxy wars and political grandstanding, and the "us versus them" mentality which divided the world into two camps, the period of 1945 to 1990 shaped those who experienced it. I don't mention this as a "You kids don't know how good you have it," moment; rather it's a reflection on a time period and how it affected the world to this day.

I also won't take this as an opportunity to look at current parallels and trends, though that is also something worth considering...

But, keep in mind that up until the sudden fall of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, numerous small things could have changed hisotry at any point. This article has an interesting discussion regarding some of these points in time.

Worth reading and considering how delicate the balance of history is for us all. Even when we don't realize it at the time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The "Fake News" Label

Following the recent election one of the terms being tossed about by both sides was "Fake News" - the implication being that deliberately false information portrayed as true had caused an undue influence in one direction or the other. Left and right were both quick to toss this new label at the other's media and online sources, with even the President getting involved. Facebook and other sites were quick to trumpet their stand against "false information", only to be called out on their own biases and revenue streams driving the problem as well.

Something about the whole term bugged me from the start though - based on a mixture of cynicism, intelligence analysis and common sense I suppose.

First off, it doesn't pass the "smell test" in terms of conspiracy theories or other realistic issues. I'm not saying there aren't sites and individuals propogating false or deliberately slanted information for political, social or other purposes - that's a trick as old as mankind and social interaction, the Internet just makes it easier. But the concept of a vast right or left-wing machination only suddenly coming to light in this fashion doesn't work with the facts being presented.

Because the echo chamber issue is the second part of the equation, and again, both sides of the equation are suffering from it. People are tribal by nature, and tend to primarily associate with, and gather data from, those they view as "in their tribe" - be it by blood, religion, politics, or whatever. So, when Facebook, ABC, MSNBC, and Snopes all agree to "fact check" each other, all that happens is they reinforce their own biases and outlook, and filter out the information they don't agree with. The same happens if you get Drudge, Fox and others on the right doing the same. Then the issue just becomes who can shout their message the loudest, because people are only going to actually hear the information which reinforces their own beliefs, and conciously or not will dismiss that which doesn't.

Note, I am speaking of humans as a whole here, and include myself as subject to the same psychological flaws.

Of course, it is slightly ironic that much of the rise in alternative (and potentially "fake") news stories has come from the growing public distrust of the mainstream media, and lack of any effort to hide their bias or slanted reporting over the past two decades. Much like an abusive husband who wonders why his wife might up and leave him for another man, the conglomorates are stunned that viewers and readers have abandoned them in droves, and that the "Fourth Estate" no longer is viewed as a required information filter for the average person.

Coming back to the term "fake news", I had a realization today what it was that bothered me about it, yet how perfect of a social tool it is. Calling something "fake news" is a linguistic kill shot as Scott Adams would use the term. It is a powerful persuasive tool, because you can't disprove a negative as it were. Calling something "fake news" is like throwing dog poo on the subject - no matter how strenuously one can argue and attempt to prove otherwise, you can't clean it enough for people to really trust. Much like the old joke of "Senator, have you stopped beating your wife?" no answer will effecitvely remove every hint of doubt.

Apparently I'm not the only one having these thoughts, as my daily readings are uncovering. Another article here puts it succinctly, and outlines what I also agree is our best hope of addressing the issues - broadening your views. Let's step outside of our echo chambers now and then and see what we might learn.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Another model submission

This one is The Norseman Cometh, by Collapse Industries in 1/35th scale. The wooden base with water effects, bit of line, and SCAR-H I added, otherwise the kit is stock. Mostly resin but I think a couple of the parts were 3D printed. Quality is exceptional, and I have a few other kits of theirs on my wish list down the road.

My prior fiction post-apocalypse post was germinated from the ideas this kit gave me.

Picture quality can be blamed on the photographer; coincidentally the same villian is responsible for any small mistakes in the painting.

Winning at life

My kids gave me the best compliment ever last night -

According to them, I am the Patronus that Chuck Norris calls on.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Can the Republic Long Survive?

The run-up to, and aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election have brought into sharp focus the great divide within our nation. Along with an equally bright spotlight on the poor state of civics and government education in the United States...

First, a couple of facts to establish the status of things as I write this - because who knows what may change down the road. And, if only for my own sanity, it may be curious to look back upon this four years from now.

At the time I write this (almost a week after the election), if things stand then President-elect Trump will receive 306 electoral college votes to 232 for Hillary Clinton, and with a margin of 30 states carried to her 20. Depending on which source you find the popular vote totals vary and are in great dispute, but I tend to find the most credible do show that Clinton carried the overall popular vote by a small margin.

Interestingly, most sources state that voter turnout was LOWER this election than in 2012 and 2008. I find this curious, as myself and other commenters nationwide observed longer lines than any prior election, and with the online rhetoric I would have expected it to be higher. However - there always remains the possibility that many voters stayed home, particularly in states where the perception was the results were a foregone conclusion.

Despite allegations of voter fraud and vote tampering prior to the election and with voting machines during, as of this point no significant, factual data has come out showing this to be a major factor for either candidate.

There is no doubt that this was one of the most bitter, divisive campaigns in our history. I know for many people (myself included), it was as much, if not more, a case of voting against a particular candidate, rather than for one you believed in. In some cases this even seemed to outshine long-held party affiliations, which had effects on both sides. Additionally, even more so than the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headlines of a half-century ago, the Trump victory seemed to come as a shock to many in the establishment, media, and half of the populace of our nation.

Which has led to the issues at hand now. Protests from those who feel that Clinton should have won, or that refuse to acknowledge President-elect Trump. Calls and petitions for the electoral college system to be scrapped. Even though this is precisely the type of situation which the founders intended it for. Since, as many seem to have forgotten, we do not live in a democracy, but a representative republic. And, the electoral college is intended to prevent the "rule by the masses" of the more populated regions running roughshod over more rural localities.

Two maps which have been making the rounds bring this issue further into focus:

Half of the US population lives within the blue shaded portions of this map. In other words, this fraction of the nation has over 175 million people who could disportionately influence the way in which the remainder of this map is governed.

Interestingly, this map reflects the election results by county, as opposed to the earlier statewide totals. You'll note, that while there are some outliers, those same high-population counties are reflected as overwhelmingly voting for Hillary Clinton (and are traditionally Democratic-leaning locales).

Now, none of this is anything most intelligent readers haven't already noticed. But I wanted to establish the background for my thoughts. Because it is the aftermath of the election which concerns me.

In my own voting lifetime, I remember when politics and open discussion still co-existed. When someone could have an opposing viewpoint, but you could still hold an intelligent conversation and even be *gasp* friends. When, after an election, people accepted who won and loss, picked themselves up, and more or less moved forward as a nation. Sure, Reagan was despised by the Democrats (although that seems to be forgotten now), but at least the discourse was generally civil. I was far from a fan of the Clinton presidency, but I don't recall having to worry about my safety or the ability to do business or interact with those who were. Now? We get not only the protests, the calls for the system to be re-built because people don't like the results, but we get things like this (NSFW language warning):

Really? This is what the party which was worried about being inclusive, and didn't want "hateful" speech involved is putting out? Riots and destroying property and attacking people who didn't vote the way you like is now the way to get the system to change?

Because, that is what I'm used to seeing in third world countries, not in the United States.

Now, there are plenty of people already pointing fingers in either direction on events such as these. I'm not going to repeat the same stuff.

Because the issue is deeper than that.

I feel we really have become two nations, as the above maps reflect. One, primarily urban, in favor of more government and generally more liberal in outlook; the other, "flyover country," with relatively conservative values and politically wanting less interference from a Federal overlord. As far as parties (a pox be on the lot of them), generally Democratic and Republican majorities respectively.

This separation of outlooks is nothing new, really - in fact, it is part of what led to the electoral college system, as well as the House of Representatives/Senate structuring of our Constitution. We've certainly faced divided results before in this nation, and have made it through them.

The difference now isn't the divide, so much, as the resulting anger, frustration, and general pig-headedness on either side. In the space of a generation we've gone from having a large group of "undecided" voters for each party to woo, and a (generally) centerist agenda as a whole, to pendulum swings between right and left. From intelligent debate and reasoned thinking we have moved to 30 second sound clips and 140-character brain diarrhea. From a view of our neighbors as "fellow Americans," we now default to hate and disdain for those who don't agree with our views.

A number of things have influenced this, but I really think there are three main factors.

One is the information age itself. With each stride forward in technology we are innundated with more data; each candidate now finds their thoughts, deeds, and every word instantly shared worldwide. Not only does this lead to information overload, but it becomes impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff - every rumor takes on a life of its own, and takes root before it can be proven or refuted. Not only do the parties and candidates take advantage of it, but we ourselves encourage the monster... And, like anything else, you get too much of a good thing, and people lose the ability to discern what is important and valuable in all the noise.

The second is the media machine. While in this election it was far more blatant and biased than others, it is far from a new thing. Journalists (of every persuasion) now view themselves as important parts of the political influence machine; that it is their job to present the information so as to best support the appropriate "message." The Fourth Estate has become firmly entrenched in the process, and like the priests of old feel they are the only intermediary between the common man and the holy writ of doctrine.

Finally, there are the parties themselves.

Whether Republican or Democrat, both groups have long since given up any interest in truly representing their constituents, and instead are firmly focused on maintaining power and position at any cost. Politicians spend the vast majority of their time campaigning to stay in office as opposed to actually doing the job they were elected for. Promises to "change the system" or press for reform of any nature quickly are forgotten in D.C., where it's business as usual and don't rock the boat. We have developed a class of career politicians who feel entitled to the trappings and benefits of their station, and know better than the commoners what is right and wrong. While the third party option is an admirable idea, the failure of mainstream America to consider such possibilities leaves little hope for the near term potential.

President Washington was right when he warned of the danger of political parties.

I have probably another five paragraphs I could rant on that issue, but I'm not saying anything that's not clear to any intelligent person.

Instead, it's back to the root question - and it isn't based on the results of this election, but rather on the symptoms increasingly on display. The sickness, for want of a better word, which has infected America as a whole and driven us apart rather than pulling us together.

Because we are divided, at a level we haven't seen since probably 1860 - and we all know how that turned out. Urban America doesn't want to find common ground with their rural relations, and small-town America has no interest in the globalism and agenda of the east and west coast. Each side stridently protests the intrusions of the other upon what they view as how America should be.

It's not just that we have people threatening to leave the country because their side lost - it's that we have others saying "good riddence."

It's not that thousands of people are seriously petitioning that California should secede from the Union, but that equal numbers (if not more) would be happy to see them leave.

None of this even remotely addresses the outside issues facing us, nor their influences upon our nation and politics.

It's that both sides are more than happy to ignore the Constitution, to call for changes in our political process when it's to their benefit. Whether abolishing the electoral college, using (or removing) the filibuster, appointing or ignoring Supreme Court Justices, or any of the myriad ways people think "if we just had a little more power, then we could finally make things right."

Because, despite their protestations of equality, the left side is convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong and unacceptable about the right. Despite their words of "less government" the right is more than willing to allow the Federal system to regulate people's reproductive choices and other beliefs. Between one side pandering to anarchists and social justice warriors, and the other embracing the evangelicals and ultra-nationalists there is not much of a "middle ground" to be found.

I fear we are approaching a tipping point in our nation, from which we will be unable to recover our balance. While I have hope that President-elect Trump will be able to delay some of this, I do not forsee a reversal of course. Proposals such as term-limits would go a long way towards proving me wrong, but the very people who must vote to impose them have a vested interest in not doing so. Additionally, despite his statements attempting to reach out to all Americans, I think President-elect Trump will face an even more hostile media and left-wing than President G.W. Bush did.

The next four years will prove me right or wrong. If we cannot come together in that time, no matter where you are in the political spectrum, I truly think we will be torn apart.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Quick Write-Up

Was inspired for this one off of a model I am wrapping up, which may post pictures of soon. May do something with it as a story or game setting someday, but thought I'd share:

Theme - 
Post-apocalyptic fantasy with Viking raiders, lost fae, strange magics and dangerous technologies. 


They say that once we covered the Earth, with cities grander than any imagining, ordinary people flying through the air like sorcerers, and machines which catered to our daily needs. 
They say a lot of things about those times. Who knows what was true?
We do know that hubris led to our downfall. 
First the Gods threw their lances of fire, striking those cities from the Earth with balls of flame and suffering which still plague those nearby. 
Then the Earth itself revolted, swallowing a vast swath before spitting it out again to cover the lands in ash and death and starving the world. 
In what seemed the final insult, reality itself rebelled. Magic. Sorcery. Monsters. Demons. All of the things of legend turned out to be true. Whether they had been there all along, or it was simply the final act of madness, who can say? What our grandfather's grandfather called impossible, our grandfathers called real, and we call normal. Creatures that supposedly only existed in fables live in my very hamlet. Powers that are unexplainable now heal our sick and aid our harvest. 
They say a lot. What I know is probably the same as anyone throughout history. Times are lean, and I have a family to care for. Whether the past is truth or myth doesn't put food on our table, nor coin in my pocket. 

We raid, the Dirtmen farm. We live free, land dwellers are tied to their crofts. We embrace the old ways, they hide from science and knowledge. This is the way of the world. 
Yes, they call us barbarians. Heathens. Northmen. They blame us for their weakness, and condemn us for our ways. But, has it not always been that the strong take what they need? 
Of course, we did not always have our ships, our freedom, or the rights to the open seas. Before the fall of man we were cogs in the machine, like any other - but, some men dared dream. Dared to remember the old ways, to lead their kith and kin as the Gods intended, to prepare for the future. So when it came, they were not surprised, but ready. With stockpiles. Plans. Weapons. And a people who remembered that a man's bravery and skill outshone any lie of civilization. 
The Dead Zones. Certainly a problem, but we have learned how to not only pass through them, but to use them to our advantage. The masks and the washes only add to the fear we instill in our foes, while protecting us from the contamination that still remains. Without the Dead Zones it would be harder to find ammunition for our weapons, or parts for our Home Ships. 
It is no easy life, but I would have no other. A companion at home, Valhalla ahead, and the cries of the Dirtmen as my longship emerges from the fog of morning remind me of what is right. 


Once, we were beasts. Pets. Livestock. Or free in the wilds. No speech beyond grunts and whines, no drive for more than the life we had. 
No more. 
Some of us came from the sciences of humanity. Others were changed by the fires and doom man laid upon the world. Whatever the cause, we were uplifted. Changed. No longer dumb brutes, we have come into our own. The best of both worlds - still running with nature, but wise enough to build more. 
Some humans accept us, some still want to hunt us. Some don't know what to think. 
Either way, we are beasts no more.


The sad part is our ancestors knew it was coming. 
They knew men were poisoning the Earth and skies.
They knew that our weapons could destroy the world. 
They saw the end was neigh. 
They railed against it, seeking a return to simpler ways, when brother loved brother, and we lived in harmony not destruction. They fought to educate not only their communities, but their rulers far away. 
All for naught. 
When the Destruction came, some survived. Safe on their farms, in their communes, or simply survivors by chance. Their worst nightmares come true, the reaping of an evil harvest which could have easily led them astray.
Instead, they remembered. Their duties to Mother Gaia. The peace preached by the ones who came before. The drive that all would live equal, no matter their race or creed. The knowledge that Jah would provide, as long as we remained true. 
It is not easy. Most towns are lucky to feed their own, and have little room to listen to wandering pilgrims spreading the truth of how we really *can* be better, if we just move towards harmony. The old churches mistrust our sacraments, claim our faith is the illusion of intoxication rather than a gateway to truth. The Northmen care not that we abhor violence - they kill and take as they wish. The Fey mock us and smirk behind their tricks. 
But, as the pilgrims before us said, if we don't *imagine* it will never be.
So - we wander. We preach. We heal. 
And, someday, all may live in harmony. 

Ages past the Christian God of men rose, the iron cities grew, and we grew weak in this realm. Consigned to myths and legends, tales used to frighten or amuse, the Fae waited. 
While the humans spread across the world like a disease, we waited. 
While they destroyed the forests, dug deep under the mountains, and soared in the skies, we waited. 
Because the circle always turns - summer becomes winter, new becomes old, what grows and feeds must someday feed another. 
And, now our time has returned. Their steel cages no longer fill black roads. Their technologies no longer overwhelm the very fabrics of reality. Now the Fae once more walk in the day and the night, and it is time for man to learn he is not the pinnacle of creation. 
Magick is back, and we come with it. 

The elders warned when the white men came, of the destruction they would bring to these lands. We foolishly thought that the tribes had suffered that doom already - confined to reservations, no longer free to hunt or live as the Great Spirit intended. Burdened by diseases, poverty, alcohol, and the other curses of "civilization." Little did we know the worst was yet to come... the nuclear fires, vast quakes, and fall of man. Where once they filled the Earth like locusts, less than a hundredth must now remain. The cities fallen to poison and ruin, the vaunted gifts of their technology forgotten as they scramble to survive. 
The elders had done more than warn, though. They had prophesied that we would rise again - and we have. No longer confined by their laws, the boundaries they sought to impose on the land and free people, we grow stronger every season. Some hunt the whale on the sea, as their ancestors did. Others roam the forests. Or seek the bison on the plains. Warriors ride to raid and challenge once more, not to conquer but to prove their worth. Our children learn to live with the rhythms of the Earth, to walk with creatures returned from legends, all as it should be. 
Where there was destruction comes new growth. Where a people were lost we are reborn. 

The elders were wise, and we return to their ways. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Early Election Day observations

Got up and went to vote early today, as the kids are home from school and I hoped to beat the crowd and lines.

Our polls open at 6, and I've never waited more than 5 minutes before as long as I was there before 9am. At 7am today the line was longer than I've ever seen - ended up being about a 40 minute process.

Everyone was polite, courteous and respectful - both voters and poll workers. No issues of political discussion in the line, no protestors or pollsters outside.

No voting machines in this election, due to the ongoing problems. Everyone filled out a paper ballot for scanning. An unexpected change.

We require photo ID here for voting - no one had any issues with it, and the state does provide free IDs for that purpose on request.

While I have doubts it will be as smooth of a process everywhere else (even locally), it gave me a small measure of hope for the event as a whole.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Farewell, partner.

To add to the challenges I've had to face this year, this week I had to put my retired dog down. Unexpected, due to an injury and infection, and something I wasn't ready for.

He was boneheaded and stubborn, more interested in play than sitting still, as happy to chew on a tree branch as a dog toy.

He loved riding in the truck, and would pout if I left for someplace without him - because he knew we were supposed to be together to do stuff.

He did the heavy lifting for the pair of us, great at doing his job and finding stuff. Because of his nose we had numerous weapons recovered from crime scenes, we kept kids and dignitaries safe at public events, and he loved every minute of it. I just had to trust him and let him work, and know when he was ready for a play break.

He never once cared about the siren when we were driving fast to a call at work - but, at the house, the slightest hint of a firetruck be heard, and he would howl until it was long out of range.

He listened to more of my rants and rambles than I could count, doing his best to get his head up by my arm, or to sneak a treat as we drove around town.

It's tough to write this. To say enough about how much I appreciated working with him. How poorly I let him know it.

I'm glad he got to spend the past few months just being a dog, playing with the kids, hanging out in the sun, running around as he wanted to. He earned it. I'm glad we got to go on one last ride together, and that I was with him at the end.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The time I made people spew their drinks...

Once I was at a conference up in the Capitol region, one of those multi-organization day long things. The sort of thing where most of the participants knew a few of the others, so breaks ended up being rotating cliques of introductions and catching up on stories. No different from the rest, I had run into some peers from various places and enjoyed the opportunity to make some new friends.

So, partway through the morning a gent I served in the Navy with brought over two other guys and introduced them by first name, along with the typical "They work down at XYZ... (name changed to protect a reference to an information gathering government organization). Knowing my friend well enough, and figuring we were all similar in outlook, I couldn't resist the opportunity.

"So, do you guys recruit based on first name, or do you make them change it after?"

This was met with a slightly confused look from the pair, as one of them asked "What are you talking about?" Even my friend appeared kind of lost as I set the hook on my bait.

"Well, in twenty years of running into you guys around the world, I've noticed every single one of you has the same first name. Whether it's Boston, Bangkok, or Baghdad. It's always "Just".

"Just?" - the same guy again. But I saw my teammate starting to grin with comprehension.

"Yeah, "Just." "Just Mike." "Just Dave." Everybody is named "Just."

Of course, by this point they had caught where I was going, but it was too late. Our little group, as well as the ones close enough to catch it, were all openly laughing and a few had spit their drinks as a result.

It's one of those tales that still makes me smile - because if you've met the community, you completely get it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Vignette

A portion of this is real, a portion is fiction - I shall leave it to the reader to decide which.

My first essay into posting writing of this sort - constructive criticism would be appreciated.


Musings on a Spanish day

Despite the history of these lands, there is a peace to the Mediterranean sun on a warm afternoon. Whether in Greece, Malta, Italy, or Spain, where I find myself these days on the balcony of an apartment in a small town, there is something about summer days here which lead one to reflection, to a quiet drink, looking over the waters and placing life in perspective. Twenty years ago I would have considered this a short break, somewhat boring, perhaps a chance to re-charge, but eagerly awaiting the next phone call and trip to the airport for a new job. These days? I'm happy sipping my wine, musing over the years, and ignoring the outside world for a time.

I'm not in the Game anymore, but I still watch the bits that show about town, and see the players and catch the hints of what is going on behind the scenes. It's funny how many of us gravitate to the places where it's warm. With the exception of some of the Russians, and the Viking-blood, it seems no one hangs out in the cold by choice. Go to Berlin? Few of the retired guys there. Valletta in June? You can't swing a cat without hitting a guy who used to have a different name.

Which brings to mind six cold months I spent in Oslo long ago, waiting for a meeting or a warm day, neither of which ever came. I think it was that one that made me finally swear off skiing as a recreational pursuit.

That's a story for another time, though. Here I can sit, I can ponder, I can reflect on what happened through the years. I can see the old players, like me, wandering about getting a meal or a drink; or the newer members of the club, in town trying to ferret out that tidbit of data from a random "this guy might know."

It makes me laugh now, seeing the varied molds in their early genesis. The former military, all confidence and awareness, placing themselves just so as they check out the opposition. The academics, recruited from some college and following the tradecraft checklist they so recently memorized, because that's how it's done. Even the rare "grey man," barely noticed in the landscape as he or she drifts in and out like a stage hand, making a change in the background while the audience is focused elsewhere. I try to note these particularly, knowing their identity may be valuable to my own safety down the road. And, I can laugh at it all, because it seems only yesterday I was one myself, sure in the knowledge that I was serving the right cause, and every day was a new step towards victory.

The waiter brings me another tinto, and I reflect more on the years, the changes to the world and our place in it. I wonder how many of the tourists here really catch the currents beneath? How many of them pick up a hint, the hairs on the back of their neck telling them something is going on that they aren't catching as they enjoy their two weeks holiday and let's not forget to tip the maid tomorrow?

The end of the cold war was a huge shift. So many former workers on either side, now looking for a paycheck and some form of relevance. Ronin got it close, with the shift in the shadow game, but the aftershocks continued far past that decade. Much of what we did moving from the pages of fiction, or things only discussed in closed inquiries, to the subject of news feeds and 140-character speculation on what "really" happened.

Then, with the "Global War on Terror," we had a boom - at least on the western side. From famine to feast overnight, so many of us back in the game as "private contractors," with bigger paychecks and seeing some real results. Only to watch the administrations piss it away because they didn't comprehend the end game. The Reds (even decades after the Wall came down, I still think of them that way) had their own struggles, but equal opportunities with the rise of organized crime, and then the return of the Bear wearing a new skin. But it was a solid decade of real work, and fewer bean-counters fussing over your expense report at the end of the day; I think for a lot of us it was the most rewarding time we had in our semblance of a career path.
The other benefit of these lands is the scenery. The beaches are beautiful, and the women who walk them so nonchalant in their own appeal. Even an old man can sit in the sun and smile and wish. But I digress...

Nowadays it seems it's all private companies. Some of it is corporate espionage, a mixture of prestige and one business trying to get past the other in the competition of data, predictions and insider trading. Most of it is honestly just another front, a way for a government to play the same old games without worrying about legislative inquiries or unwanted revelations. For every Snowden or Manning, there are a hundred more secrets that will never see the light of day, another small group of people who will read a news story and laugh to themselves because the true background will never hit the press.
From the few who know, in those private conversations in a dark corner or late-night walk, I always get asked about the wet-work, the bloody side of the business. Sure, the violence has a place. There are nights where a knife flashes in a brief light, or a muffled gunshot ends a problem and shifts the game ever so slightly. The sort of thing attributed to "a robbery gone bad" or criminals fighting amongst themselves. But just as often the move comes from a new asset revealed or seduced, from a compromised pawn who never knows his place, or from the quiet tumble of a network collapsing to cover one loss. We spend far more time with a subtle nod of the head acknowledging a win in a cafe than we ever do at a funeral in the rain.
There are worse ways to retire, worse things than enjoying the sun and an occasional conversation with an old friend or foe. Worse fates than being a "he used to" in the conversations and nods of a younger generation.

But I can't deny it would be nice to have the phone ring once more, to hear a voice saying "We need a favor, there's no one else we trust for this one." Maybe, just one more time, to do more than watch the Game...

Monday, May 30, 2016


A tough post to write, and it will be going through several drafts, just so you, as the end-reader, know...

As some of you know, I had a bit of surgery late last year. All went well, but as a result, I'm not able to return to my duties as a bomb guy, or as a cop. Which, means an unplanned and unforeseen early medical retirement.

Before we go further, this isn't a "woe is me" whiny post. Just a few thoughts connected with it all.

Because, if you walk the path I've chosen, it happens sooner or later. I've seen and talked with enough similar guys from the military and law enforcement over the years to know that. Sure, you think "That won't be me." But, one day it is.

Whether it's age, or health, or just the time to move on.

You're not the one to go through the door first anymore. You aren't even in the stack. You've gone from being in the top 1% of your community to "someone who used to work here", all in the space of a few hours.

You go from "What new thing do I need to make my gear easier for the job?" to "What can I get rid of out of these years of crap?"

Instead of carrying the phone everywhere, waiting for that next call-out, you're looking at your inbox and wishing someone would just say hi.

You'll see the news story and smile a bit guessing at the backstory. Or resist the urge to rant on something online, because you know better but figure it's not worth the energy.

The hardest part? You're no longer in "the club." Sure, folks will still talk with you. Grab lunch. Share a joke. But, you're not the same anymore. You don't get to go into those closed rooms and prep for the next mission. You don't get the rush of a "holy crap this is real" callout where what you're doing affects who goes home alive. You aren't "one of the guys" anymore so much as "you remember when?" And, it can be tough. I'm still processing a lot of it, so I can't even fully write that part yet.

Again, I'm not whining. I've had a hell of a run over the past few decades. I've visited places, good and bad, that I never imagined growing up. I've met people I trust with my life. I've learned who I am in ways I never would have otherwise. I've challenged myself, failed, succeeded, and grown from both. Most importantly, I feel I've made a difference - I can honestly say there are people alive today because of choices I made, and that is a great gift to have.

I suppose it would have been "easier" had this been in the plans - the normal "In "xx" months I'm retiring," do a transition and so on. Unfortunately, that's not how things worked out. Also, unfortunately, I didn't even get the transition really - it went from a "You're coming back to work on this day," to "Sorry, you'll just have to use sick time til the paperwork goes through," in the space of an email. Which led to far too much time to think.

The good parts? I've had a few months to just be. I honestly don't know when that happened last, and it has helped me put some stuff in perspective. I've gotten more time at home, without those extra duties or call-outs, and have been more a part of my kid's days than ever before. And, I've gotten to reflect - on the issues, both internal and external to the job, which let me know it's not a bad change.

So - I'm officially "retired" from being a cop. Looking for work (some possibilities on the horizon, but that's a different stress) and for the first time in almost 3 decades not really sure where things are going. I'm not in a financial position to just sit at home, nor will my character and drive allow me to.

I'm not hanging up my hat here, despite the infrequent writing. In fact, perhaps this will let me write more, since I'm not "obligated" to be silent on some of the things as much.

It's just time to find the next challenge and figure out where I can thrive.

If the past is any indication, it will be an interesting trip...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Digression

One of my hobbies is building model kits - and, frequently becoming over-involved with them and taking far too much time :D In general I work with modern aircraft or vehicles connected with SOF stuff from my experiences, but I do digress at times into a few classics that have a warm place in my heart.

Anyway, I've had some free time recently, I managed to finish a diorama off one of these digressions. The base was a Toyota Hilux truck - the Third World workhorse that a number of us wish they'd import, because the things run forever and carry more than the U.S. version Tacoma. I added on a bunch of aftermarket details, as well as scratch-built accessories.

The scene? Somewhat post-apocalyptic, but open to interpretation. Our "hero" in his truck, loaded with what things he has left. A broken-down road on the edge of somewhere. An old woman in the ruins of a house with her dog and a few grenades. I'll let you figure out what you think is best for the rest.

Pictures could have been better - I'm new at sharing these, so will work to improve if there's any interest. Or any questions on particulars for fellow model-geeks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Could use some good thoughts

Bigger post coming soon, with some transitions in the works.

But until then, I could use prayers, good thoughts, and all that other stuff til things get figured out.

More to come. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Two different approaches

One of those "topics I don't rant on" much lately has been the growing prevalence in society, particularly in the college student ranks, of "I must be protected from words and ideas that hurt or challenge me." Whether it is Internet censorship of conflicting views, the establishment of "safe spaces" where one needn't face differing ideas, or even the trend of hounding people out of jobs who are not in line with the appropriate group think, it all makes me fear the direction of our world. I know it isn't representative of everyone or everything - but when you see this much of academia and the media doing everything they can to avoid offense it can only lead to bad things down the road.

That's not what I want to see in our future though... and there are other things that give me hope.

One of the news stories I read this week involved young Yazidi women who had escaped or been rescued from their captors in the Islamic State. As opposed to facing words or ideas which they didn't like, these women have faced evils and horrors beyond description and which no one should ever have to deal with. Any sane and decent person could easily forgive them for hiding from society, for seeking a safe space and avoiding conflict and the threat of ever being harmed again.

Instead these women have gone to their fellow Iraqis and Kurds, have sought the opportunity to not only remain in their world, but to go forth and challenge their demons in battle, to serve alongside their countrymen in a fight for their nation against the greatest threat of our time. These women warriors are doing their best to ensure others don't suffer the same fate through actions, not words; and with the full knowledge many of them will die in the cause of freedom.

I'm not saying violence is the only answer by any means - and I have had the privilege and honor of meeting a number of people in life who are doing incredible things to change the world through peaceful means. But it is inspiring to know that where there are people afraid to even consider the idea of facing things which make them uncomfortable, there are still those souls who will stand at the gate when the enemy is near.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Things I hate re-learning

As some folks know, I have a severe case of arthritis which is (typically) well-managed by medication. Severe, as in without modern medication I wouldn't be able to work most likely. But, thanks to modern science I normally don't have to deal with more than moderate pain, some immune system issues, and remembering certain limits on my activities.

I say this, because as part of the surgery I had late last year, I've had to be off my arthritis medication for the recovery period. And, in the last week, it has definitely taken a toll on me... I'd forgotten exactly how debilitating this can be, in terms of the pain, the limits on my endurance and daily activities, and all the other things that come with it.

Not bringing this all up to gripe... more I think an appreciation of what science and medicine can do for us. Within my own lifetime my prognosis for this disease would have been pain management at best, and even that would have limitations. Yet nowadays I'm looking at dealing with six weeks of what is really an inconvenience in the big scheme of things, and then being back on track.

All in all I'm pretty lucky.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Guess I should plug this thing back in again

Honestly just haven't known what to write about lately. Not that I don't have things going on, or opinion - but just seems more effort than it's worth to rant...  But maybe getting back in the habit will be good for me.

Been off work lately recovering from some surgery. So far healing well, but waiting on the final prognosis soon.

Going to try to re-set my brain and get back to this thing.