Most of you regular readers know I HATE giving the government money. Doing so burns my libertarian soul.
I’m still driving Ol'(insert old-timey lady name here), my 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue. Basically, because I’ve no other choice. And, it’s
registration involuntary ownership tax time again.
With the precursor of emissions testing.
(I always stop here to remember how the State legislator who forced through the emissions testing requirement soon left the legislature to work for the contractor who obtained the initial contract. No dirty politics here, no sir! :-))
I arrive just after the testing station opens and find I’m second in line. I’m a little worried, as my car sometimes stalls at idle, and sometimes the pollution control gimmick sticks in the engine and dashboard warning lights illuminate. Getting tested with dash lights on is a no-no! They’ve not come on in a few weeks, so I feel they are due.
I pull up when ordered, exit the vehicle, the guy does his testing, and she PASSES!
I re-enter the vehicle and crank her to start and leave, as instructed…
AND THERE IS A BACKFIRE! THE TESTING STATION (AND MY CAR INTERIOR) FILLS WITH SMOKE! But, as the car is running (and there is no obvious fire or dash warning lights), I drive away victorious!
And return home (after depositing appropriate gift funds to cover costs) and pay on-line to obtain my State license tags for yet another two years!
(To those of you who help me pay to keep my car registered and insured – I salute you!)
And to the State, who forces me to go through this nonsense every couple years to extort revenue from me – you already received my salute!
I’ve been prowling this Internet thing since the early 90’s. (Remember dial-up? *shudders*)
It still amazes me how it can connect people from all walks of life, from all over the world.
I remember surfing bulletin boards on the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and found some guys in Finland. They found out I was American, and told me to go away!
I posted a few days ago about yet another medical adventure. This time with my upper GI tract. Seems I have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) – aka acid reflux damage to my esophagus.
I chalked it up to getting older and poor diet. Whined about it and forgot. (I’ve a tendency to post stuff, then forget about what I posted – as if I needed to get it out of my head. Must be a writer(?)
The other day, I get a gift and nice note from a regular reader (who knew I had those?) whose reason was we both suffer from the same affliction!
Other people have sent me – and even brought me – gifts of money, ammo, and even single malt Scotch!
Sometimes, I feel unloved and forgotten…
FRIENDS, and the Internet are wonderful things!
(or perhaps not.)
As some of you know, my roommate is a renowned hairdresser. As such, she is an artiste’, or at least artistic. She is also (by her own admission)
an old hippie was a hippie in her youth.
As such, she tends to lean toward pushing the envelope stylistically.
Last Summer, around the time of her birthday, it occurred to me that I had no funds with which to acquire a birthday present for her. Nada, zip, zilch. And, as she is a good friend (among other things, she provides me with a room to rent!)
I had to do something.
I decided to grow a beard. She likes beards. Until her next birthday, which is in July. You have seen it’s progress here. (Tonsorial Splendor)
And she recently decided to tweak it!
Here is the result:
Kinds of ‘biker meets old man’!
The good news is she also cut my hair shorter. I can probably live with this until July – Hey! it shows I’ve lost weight, too! :-)
From my friend Borepatch:
Stay thirsty, my friends
I will leave you with one note of optimism, from Mark Perry. I went to college in the nadir (1980) of the American beer industry, where a small oligopoly of mediocre beer producers was protected by government legislation. It was a classic example of how regulation drives monopoly, consolidation, and loss of choice. With deregulation, the American beer industry has exploded.
I don’t drink beer as often as I’d like. 1) It costs money, and 2) being diabetic with weight ‘issues’, beer is probably not the best choice for a beverage. For me.
This doesn’t mean I don’t like it!
Thankfully, when I do imbibe, I don’t repeat my college years, wherein if I wasn’t scheduled to work or be in class, I had a can in my hand. As did many of us.
A friend would stop by. “Hey, wanna beer?”
These days it’s more diet soda, or coffee. Or even water. And it’s in a glass bottle or draught! Canned is for the uncouth – or poor college students! Glass just tastes better.
Borepatch, on multiple occasions, has stated he would like to buy me a beer.
I hope one day we can do that, BP!
And I can buy one for you.
(A belated mention – National Beer Day was April 7. The anniversary of the end of Prohibition. I did imbibe that day. In honor of the end of government oppression and control. Perhaps one day there will be a National Freedom Day?)
Life doesn’t always go as we plan or desire. We certainly cannot control others in their personal plans or desires.
Especially, in matters of the heart.
Sometimes, we must let them go…
When love is good, it’s very, very good.
And when it goes away, it sucks.
Yes, yes, we should make all nicey nice with CUBA. Aside from the missiles, what did they ever do to us?
John Lowery — February 10, 2015
This column was originally published at www.aim.org
Whatever one thinks of President Barack Obama’s overtures to Cuba and the accompanying prisoner exchange, an important consideration in need of immediate attention is an accounting of our servicemen captured in the Vietnam War and imprisoned in Cuban-operated POW camps. Of utmost importance is an accounting of the 17 American airmen captured in North Vietnam and then taken to Cuba for medical experiments in torture techniques.
Most Americans are unaware that Cuba was deeply involved in the Vietnam War. In fact they had an engineering battalion called the “Girón Brigade,” that was maintaining Route Nine, a major enemy supply line into South Vietnam. Their facilities included a POW camp and field hospital very near the DMZ, just inside North Vietnam. Meanwhile Cuban interrogators worked in Hanoi at a prison known as the Zoo. We know of these operations and some of what happened to our servicemen after so managed to survive and be repatriated in the winter of 1973, during Operation Homecoming.
Following his release Major Jack Bomar, a Zoo survivor, described the brutal beating of Captain Earl G. Cobeil, an F-105F electronics warfare officer, by Cuban Major Fernando Vecino Alegret, known by the POWs as “Fidel.” Regarding Captain Cobeil, Bomar related, “he was completely catatonic. … His body was ripped and torn everywhere…Hell cuffs appeared almost to have severed his wrists…Slivers of bamboo were imbedded in his bloodied shins, he was bleeding from everywhere, terribly swollen, a dirty yellowish black and purple [countenance] from head to toe.”
In an effort to force Cobeil to talk “Fidel smashed a fist into the man’s face, driving him against the wall. Then he was brought to the center of the room and made to get down onto his knees. Screaming in rage, Fidel took a length of rubber hose from a guard and lashed it as hard as he could into the man’s face. The prisoner did not react; he did not cry out or even blink an eye. Again and again, a dozen times, [Fidel] smashed the man’s face with the hose.”
Because of his grotesque physical condition Captain Cobeil was not repatriated but instead was listed as “died in captivity,” with his remains returned in 1974. (Miami Herald, August, 22 1999, and Benge, Michael D. “The Cuban Torture Program, Testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Chaired by the Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, November 4, 1999.) Incredibly, Fidel’s torture of Major James Kasler is well known as he somehow managed to survive the Cuban’s torture.
Much less is known about our 17 captured airmen taken to Cuba for “experimentation in torture techniques.” They were held in Havana’s Los Maristas, a secret Cuban prison run by Castro’s G-2 Intelligence service. A few were held in the Mazorra (Psychiatric) Hospital and served as human guinea pigs used to develop improved methods of extracting information through “torture and drugs to induce [American] prisoners to cooperate.”
After being shot down in April of 1972, U.S. Navy F-4 pilot, Lt. Clemmie McKinney, an African-American, was imprisoned near the Cuban compound called Work Site Five. His capture occurred while then-Cuban president Fidel Castro was visiting the nearby Cuban field hospital. Although listed as killed in the crash by DOD, his photograph standing with Castro, was later published in a classified CIA document.
More than 13 years later, on August 14, 1985, the North Vietnamese returned Lt. McKinney’s remains, reporting that he died in November 1972. However, a U.S, Army forensic anthropologist established the “time of death as not earlier than 1975 and probably several years later.” The report speculated that he had been a guest at Havana’s Los Maristas prison, with his remains returned to Vietnam for repatriation. (We also paid big money for the remains—delivered in stacks of green dollars to Hanoi aboard an AF C-141 from Travis AFB, California.) Unfortunately, our servicemen held in the Cuban POW camp near Work Site Five (Cong Truong Five), along with those in two other Cuban run camps were never acknowledged nor accounted for and the prisoners simply disappeared.
If our honor code of “Duty, Honor, Country,” and our national policy of “No man left behind,” are more than meaningless slogans, then before our relations with Cuba can be normalized, their murderous leadership must account for our POWs—especially the 17 airmen taken to Cuba. The civilized world and American veterans demand it.#
Additional research on this topic, by John Lowery, is below:
Cuba’s Vietnam War Involvement
Research by John Lowery
1. “Torture of American Prisoners by Cuban Agents,” Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald, August 22, 1999.
2. “ Cuban War Crimes Against American POWs,” Michael D. Benge, Cuba Program Research Paper, October 4, 1999. www.vvof.org/cuba_res.htm
3. “The Cuban Torture Program …Torture of American Prisoners by Cuban Agents,” Testimony of Michael D. Benge, before the House International Relations Committee Chaired by the Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman. November 4, 1999. www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/cuba_benge.html.
4. “Cuban War Crimes Against American POWs During the Vietnam War,” Mike Benge, National Alliance of Families,www.nationalalliance.org/cuba/benge2.htm (Undated)
5. “The Evidence is Clear,” POW/MIA Freedom Fighters,www.powmiaff.org/evidence.htm, May 23, 2006.
6. “ Benge, Michael Dennis, Bio” Loss/Capture report, 31 January 1968.
Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.
“Fundamentally transform” I believe is the felicitous phrase used by The President, with regard to what his agenda
Of course, we are now friends and trade partners with
North Vietnam, too.
And, over the past 70 years, we made what was left of Nazi Germany into world power. Fortunately for the world, reunification with financially-inept East Germany crippled them, as will our pending annexation by Mexico.
And Mexico didn’t point missiles at us and torture our POWs during the Vietnam War…
Political correctness will kill The United States.
(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)
There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.
The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.
My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.
A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc. The reasons don’t matter.
Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.
I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad. The Protector. The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.
I carry a sidearm. I’ve done so for 41 years. Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.
And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father. It’s what father’s are supposed to do!
We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road. A little after 1 PM. Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback. Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping! The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then. It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong. Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.
And many lives changed forever.
I’ve no memory regarding what happened next. Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later. I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.
I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!) Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship. Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs. Ribs pushed into a lung. Broken collar bone. Broken arm. Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.
My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could. Not wanting to answer the obvious question: Where was Molly?
In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.
My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support. Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery. I am forever grateful to her for this. A number of folks benefited from her decision.
The funeral was that following Tuesday. I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.
Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.
I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.
Until I could pay my respects.
That came weeks later.
I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath – Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!
Because you may never get another chance.
AND be an organ donor.
I try to remember the good times. The IMPORTANT ONES. It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.
My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.
(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel. Thanks, again.)
I posted a few days ago regarding losses – specifically the loss of my daughter, and a good friend’s loss of most of his lower left leg and foot.
Hardly an upbeat read.
However, Life is not just loss. Life also gives us lessons!
Since I heard from my good friend Bob regarding his diabetic amputation surgery, I’ve tried to contact him. We exchanged texts initially a couple of times, and he advise me he would call.
I feared the worst.
So, I took it upon myself to call him. Not to incessantly badger him (thinking he was busy enough) but once a week, just to check-in on him and his condition. And attitude.
And I ended up leaving messages. And this concerned me.
Bob returned yesterday’s message last night. I needn’t have been concerned.
Bob – (my former PI and gun store boss) was in great spirits! YES, he did lose his left foot and about 12″ of lower leg. And yes, he has a long, painful recovery and rehab ahead.
But he was not only doing physically well – he was doing well emotionally and spiritually, too!
Now, Bob would be the first to tell you he is not a religious guy. And not the most spiritual. But he almost lost his life to sepsis, and took his survival to mean he is supposed to remain here a while longer.
And not wallow in his losses.
He is fortunate to have the great support of his wife and two daughters. And his brother. And he reminded of previous losses and near-death experiences he has suffered.
AND HE SEES THIS AS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF!
Or, in the words of his parents (both deceased), “Put on your big boy panties and get on with it!”
And his is and has.
And, he reminded me (indirectly) that I have similar lessons. I, too, have had losses, and near-death experiences. And I have wallowed. Or more specifically whined.
I might lose some benefits. So what? Big boy panties are available for the wearing.
Bob has set an example for me to try and emulate.
Not exactly Spring cleaning (still being Winter, and all) and not my house (as I rent a room) but I’m speaking of the blog.
As I’m approaching another year as a blogger (aka ersatz writer, copy thief, waster-of-time) I’m looking at my blog roll (The Usual Suspects), and trying to decide who to keep, who to add, ad infinitum – ad nauseum. Some folks are simply no longer blogging.
Also, is anyone missing? What about those blogfriends™ who list Guffaw in AZ in their blogrolls, but I don’t list them in mine?
Is anything missing? Serious, thoughtful commentary? Intellect? Blazing retorts? Nudes? (Remember Rule 5!)
What would YOU like to see? More politics, stories of governmental abuses, gun stuff, libertarian stuff, investigation/security stories? (Remembering the final decision is up to me, regardless). :-)
PLEASE let me know, especially if you have been kind enough to list me, but I’ve neglected listing you…
I’m in whine mode.
(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)
Why? Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays. One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.
Hardly an even trade.
I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.
Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.
We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list. So here goes…
I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car. Thanks to my friends! I’m on Medicare. I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent. I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can. Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.
This must mean something.
I’m disabling comments for this post. Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.