Mar 27, 2014 - Featured, Movies/TV Series    Comments Off

Problems with #TheBlacklist-Lizzie’s Search of Jolene’s ‘Apartment’

Problems with The Blacklist-Lizzie’s Search of Jolene’s ‘Apartment’

Tom Clancy once paraphrased about four or five others when he said on Larry King, “The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.”Liz Apartment2

After watching Monday night’s The Blacklist – Ivan twice now, I can come up with almost two dozen problems with Liz Keen and her search of Jolene’s apartment in the Monday, March 24, 2013 episode, IVAN.

Lizzie has gotten Arum to find out where Jolene’s last cell call originated from. It’s an address in DC and she goes there. Before she goes in, she calls her hubs, Tom, who is inside the “apartment,” which is not the same place Cowboy searched two weeks ago and found all of her spare IDs and such, but really, as some commenters have called it, “Tom’s Lair.” 

So here are the problems with this one scene:

1) Liz didn’t call for backup before going into the place. Not DC Metro PD, not the FBI. I keep hearing the guy in “In The Line Of Fire” who kept asking Clint Eastwood, “Why didn’t you endeavor to know more?”

2) She interfered with a DC Metro Police missing person’s case by entering into the place.

3) Why would she call her hubs, Tom, a fourth-grade teacher before entering the place? The only reason that makes sense is that she wants someone to know where she is and she still, at that point, trusts him.

4) Why is this fourth grade teacher never at school teaching? For an FBI agent, you think she’d have been to visit him at school by now or something, wouldn’t you?

5) Where did she get keys that would work on his door? Is it standard issue for FBI agents to have a master key of some sort or is this some sort of throw back to her self-proclaimed expertise of criminal activity when she was younger?

6) She didn’t call Ressler or any of the others back at the Post Office before entering a dangerous situation.  Ever heard of backup?

7) There’s a car parked right in the middle of the place. It looks like the tarp on it hasn’t moved since before Tom transported bodies in it. Wouldn’t there be traces of Cowboy blood in the trunk?

8) Tom’s fingerprints have to be all over that place. Would DC Metro not have taken a few of them off the car, the guns, the computers, the door knobs….

9) Wouldn’t one of the first things any law enforcement officer would have done, maybe DC Metro, is find out who owns or is leasing the “apartment?”

10) Okay, so there is at least one sniper rifle and several hand guns in the place. Once they had seen all that hardware, wouldn’t DC Metro have called in the Bureau or ATF?

11) Wouldn’t there have been some fallout for Liz going into a place without a warrant?  Of course, the assumption remains that they’re in Jolene’s place, not Tom’s, but you’d think….

12) What’s the likelihood that all of the photos Tom attempted to burn would have indeed done that completely and beyond recognition?

13) Tom not also burning the doll Liz gave him along with the pictures was a big gaffe on his part.

14) Shouldn’t Liz have let the bossman know about Jolene Parker? I know she has trust issues with him over the Judge issue, but still, protocol would seemingly have required it.

That’s fourteen. I’ll probably come up with more, but that took me about eight minutes to type out just those few problems with this one scene.

It was a great show Monday and I read somewhere that the producers say the most important thing about the show wasn’t what Liz learned about Tom, but what Tom has learned about Liz.  I saw some analysis was done on the photos of the wall Tom had created. I’ve not looked back.  Maybe later. I have actual work to do today so…..

 

 

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Mar 24, 2014 - Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

The Mystery of MH370–Hoping For Deus Ex Machina

What’s the true lesson we can gather as humans over the loss of MH 370 out of Malaysia?

While conspiracy theorists no doubt will continue to search for a happy ending, an ending that at least will make their own internal fears subside, the message to the rest of us is simple and one we learn day in/day out in life–life is hard and sometimes bad things happen to good, and seemingly innocent people.

As a writer, there’s plenty of source material from just this one episode in human events to write several volumes of work–fiction and non. It’s been hard all over the world to believe that in this day and age, where we have this underlying nervousness that government is watching everything we do, somehow a massive airliner could just up and disappear from the skies without a trace, without any messages from anyone.

Over the past two weeks CNN, and even FOX News to a lesser degree, have had a parade of people on air discounting every possible theory that’s come up. They’ve had two guys in a simulator. They’ve even had one anchor speculating that the plane went into a Black Hole.

But what few have wanted to say, save maybe Bill O’Reilly, is the same conclusion that was announced by the Malaysian Prime Minister today–the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean. There was no further speculation as to why, just a pure and simple statement.

It seems the past few weeks so many of us were longing, hoping and praying for a real life deus ex machina–a divine intervention of sorts that would explain away what happened, (Like at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and all 239 people aboard would just pop up unharmed, unscathed, just like they were when they boarded the plane on March 8); A miracle that even if it defied all known logic, would still result in those who were aboard that plane still being alive.

The whole media hype situation really was like a novel where the author had written himself into a corner with no other rational conclusion left. Yes, theories abounded and even I explored the possibilities of the plane flying toward the mid-Indian Ocean USAF landing strip at Diego Garcia, (A comment or today went further with it over the version of the story of the 20 chip designers out of Austin, Texas.) but ultimately the only inescapable conclusion was what was announced today; the plane was lost at sea, no doubt after it ran out of fuel.

Maybe it was our hope that this all would end differently because of our over saturation of Hollywood happy endings. Sure, no one, save a few psychopaths, really wanted to hear these people were dead, but reality has a nasty way of being brutal some times, and it appears this is going to be one of them.

Now is the time for all humans around the world who have been following this story so closely to begin the grieving process for those who are lost. Perhaps CNN will find a way to move on to another story, too. Lots of other news around the world has been ignored to bring 24/7 coverage of the same and so little information the past 17 or 18 days. How badly that has been handled is something for another day.

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MH370 and the Diego Garcia Theory

MH370 and the Diego Garcia Theory

I’m not much big on conspiracy theories, though admittedly, I still have trouble with the Magic Bullet JKF Theory, but I write today about my own self-discovery that seems to have a lot of smoke behind it–the involvement of the USAF Base Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and the still-missing MH370 flight out of Malaysia 10 days ago now.

Last night I found on CNN the actual GPS coordinates for the last two reported locations of the plane: 06˚55′ 15″ N 103˚34′ 43″ E when it made that turn, and then the last known sighting at 2:11 a.m. near Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca at 05˚40′ 50″ N 98˚ 56′ 27″ E. After plotting those out on Google Earth I laid down on the bed for a few and then closed my eyes and a name I’d not thought of in years popped into my head: Diego Garcia.

My dad is a retired USAF B-52 pilot. I’ve heard him talk about Diego Garcia before. It’s a B-52 base we have in the south Indian Ocean. If it’s big enough for a B-52, it’d be big enough to land a Boeing 777.  (For the record, he and I have not discussed any of this.)Diego Garcia

What’s most curious about Diego Garcia is that if one continues to draw a straight line from the last two GPS points released publicly, they lead almost straight to the Maldives and/or Diego Garcia, depending on how you look at the map. (See map to the right.) What’s also curious is the number of newspaper stories of people in the Maldives claiming to have seen a “white jumbo jet flying low level from north to south over the island” on the morning in question.

This morning I punched Diego Garcia into Twitter and have kept it going since. There are a lot of people fueling the idea that maybe, just maybe, for whatever reason, MH370 might be intact and on the ground at Diego Garcia AFB.

Diego Garcia is a military base. It’s in the middle of nowhere. If the plane had landed there, it’s not like anyone there would be taking selfies in front of the plane and posting them to Twitter.

It appears Jay Carney, the White House press secretary has “ruled out” that the plane landed at Diego Garcia, but if it had and there was an effort to keep it a secret as has already been done, would he really be free to reveal it?!

The Orwellian World of 2014

I think one of the things that’s driving the hysteria most about MH370 missing is that we’ve all read too many Tom Clancy novels and seen too many Bourne, Bond and Jack Ryan movies to accept that anywhere on this planet our government, the Chinese, the Russians, the British or the Indians, SOMEONE’s military, didn’t have eyes, radar or a satellite fixed on that plane.

If you have The Sum of All Fears, there’s an editor’s voice track of Clancy talking about some of the keener CIA “know it all” aspects of what was going on in Ryan’s life in that 2001 movie and Clancy says, “We just aren’t that good.”  And I keep hearing that in my head as it appears that we might not have had satellite tracking of the plane, but again, George Orwell, Clancy, the whole NSA surveillance thing, Snowden, all that suggests that maybe we really do.

So in March 2014, it just seems like a very hard principle to accept.

Flight Simulator At Home? 

I remember being at Castle AFB in California as a kid and dad training in B-52 simulators. They were HUGE. I wish the media would do a better job of explaining exactly what the pilot had built in his home. I grew up in politics, too, and when we conducted focus groups, we did them scientifically and conducted them in sterile environments. When I moved to Dallas I worked with education officials who said they were conducting focus groups. They put an ad in the paper and asked parents to come in and talk about an issue and then called that a focus group, so I can see how the meaning of the term “simulator” can have very different meanings.  Please, someone, CNN, FOX, AP, please clarify what this really was.

Five Landing Strips Programed Into The Simulator

There are numerous reports per the Twitter feed about Diego Garcia that there were five landing strips programmed into the pilot’s simulator. One of those five was Diego Garcia, a military installation that he’d get severely fined for landing at if he ever did. Unless this was part of something bigger and pre-planned.

Conclusions

I don’t know where MH370 is, but I hope someone finds the plane and soon. The news media have done a number of things to make this an even bigger mess. The Malaysian government has proven they weren’t ready for an international media sensation–though few people ever are. The last known path of that plane points it toward the Maldives and Diego Garcia, but I’m also reminded of Clint Eastwood in Firefox. After he stole the stealthy Russian Mig Firefox, he flew by a USSR airliner to be seen, and then dramatically veered off that course to send chasers in the wrong direction. That very easily could have been done here, too.  We just don’t know. And if that plane really did land at Diego Garcia as part of a CIA or anti-terrorism effort, we likely will never know that either. It’s also hard to believe that our government would start down the path of pulling planes out of the sky and sending them somewhere in the middle of the ocean with living survivors. I just can’t believe we’d start that because there is no logical finish to it.

But you also have to wonder if we need to rethink some things about giving the flight attendants in the back some sort of tool for communicating outside the aircraft if they ever got to the point of where they believed something like this was bad wrong.  I can see why we wouldn’t want to have that back there, too, but think about it.

The whole flying up to 45,000 feet thing has been blown out of proportion, too, provided that the cabin remained pressurized. If it did, most everyone on the plane would have been fine. Now if a door had been somehow opened or a window punctured, half of the fokes in that cabin would have been sucked out.  But again, we just don’t know.

Today we were greeted with news that the Chinese government has “cleared” all their passengers on the plane saying none of them were “terrorists.”  Well that’s comforting, isn’t it?  Again I ask, if the Chinese had found someone on the plane to have terrorist ties, do you really think they’d just freely admit it? The Blackist was on last night. In it, a Japanese prisoner escaped from one of their maximum security prisons. When talking to an FBI agent in New York, Red talks about it and the FBI agent says, “we don’t know anything about it.”  To which Red responds, “Of course you don’t. It’d be an embarrassment to the Japanese to admit they’d let someone escape.” Wouldn’t it be the same thing for the Chinese, or any other government really, to admit such when they didn’t have to?!

What we do know is that a plane and 239 people are missing and have been for 1o days now. They did what most on the planet seem to believe is impossible in 2014–they disappeared without a trace. Perfect fodder for conspiracy theories and some new materials for whomever takes over the genre left behind by Clancy.

 

 

 

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Mar 8, 2014 - Family, Featured, Product Reviews, The Real Me, Travel    Comments Off

W. Cartwright in Mesquite–One of the most dangerous curves in North Texas

W. Cartwright in Mesquite

Another crazy-assed Mesquite driver took out the AT&T phone box on June 22, 2013. A month and five days, it's not been fixed. Now there's a blue tent over it.

Another crazy-assed Mesquite driver took out the AT&T phone box on June 22, 2013. A month and five days, it’s not been fixed. Now there’s a blue tent over it.

–One of the most dangerous curves in North Texas

I’ve been in the Stoneleigh Apartment complex in Mesquite/Balch Springs, Texas for almost four years now. Over that time, there have been multiple single-car accidents at the intersection exiting the complex and into the curve headed toward Belt Line Road.

Most of the accidents clearly have been caused from drivers well exceeding the 40-mile-per-hour speed limit.

In the field just past Stoneleigh to the east, the owners used to have a fence up. After a car would plow thru it, they’d rebuild it.  Last spring, they finally decided they’d spent enough on fencing and replaced it with small pine trees. Some are growing okay, most look like they’re on the edge of death, and frankly, they are–the from the next idiot who comes flying around the curve and loses control of their car.Dec. 5, 2011

Last June, as you will recall, one driver came thru the intersection and flew in between the major light pole and the telephone pole in the intersection and straight into the AT&T phone box there. It took AT&T almost four months to get parts in to replace the box while we got to see that ridiculous looking tarp tent they built. AT&T July 11

There have been other times when whoever hit the telephone pole hit it and it snapped about 15-20 feet up. I knew something had happened that time because at 4 a.m. or so the power went out.

Two weeks ago, a truck was stopped in the right lane of the road just past the intersection because it’s right rear tire had fallen off.

This morning, ANOTHER truck was stopped in almost the same spot and guess what, right rear tire missing.

School Bus Passing

Another frequent illegal event that happens in front of Stoneleigh Apartments on W. Cartwright is the number of drivers in the interior, east-bound lane who patently ignore the flashing RED lights on the school bus about 8:10 a.m. on school days. I’ve seen this happen on at least three occasions in the past month. What makes this even more inexcusable is that these same drivers stopped for the bus when it picked up high schoolers just 100 yards to the west on the road.photo 2

Prediction

Someone is going to get creamed one of these times by one of these people who are exceeding the speed limit and coming around the curve on W. Cartwright in Mesquite. Increasing the odds of this happening are the ridiculous hold times that the light stays green, and for those wanting to turn left out of the apartment complex, having to sit there like dead ducks at the red light.

For a while last year the Mesquite Police Department ran radar in the evenings in front of Stoneleigh to catch some who were headed home a little too fast down Cartwright. But it’s been months since this has been done and the speeds haven’t changed.

Maybe something can be done and done before someone gets hurt, possibly a child waiting for the bus or a mom with a car full of kids trying to leave the apartments and head west toward 635.  Sadly, it looks like it might take something like that for there to be any plausible action taken.

Maybe instead of holding so long, it ought to take less time to sit to come out of the apartment complex and more time for people to sit there at the light going toward the east. The only light previous to the exit at Cartwright is uphill and at the entrance ramp to 635 North.  The next light is at Belt Line and one cannot go from 635 and thru the light at Belt Line without stopping because of the timing. Perhaps a little more red light time on W. Cartwright is the answer. I don’t know, but I wish the Mesquite Police Department and the Mesquite city traffic engineers would consider this before we have a fatality.  Otherwise, it is almost assuredly going to happen.

photo

And in regard to the school bus getting passed while kids are boarding in the morning and the lights are flashing, my daughter tells me that Dallas County Schools has gone to a system where the buses have cameras and take photos of those who drive by illegally. She said it’s somewhere around a $300 fine.

As ticket happy as the city of Mesquite is, you’d figure they’d have been all over this by now. I hope they at least will be very soon.

 

 

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Mar 5, 2014 - Featured, Movies/TV Series, Product Reviews, The Real Me    Comments Off

Ukraine, Where is Jack Ryan When We Need Him?

Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine si...

Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine since 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ukraine, Where is Jack Ryan When We Need Him? 

With all the hubbub going on in the international news media about the events in Ukraine, I somehow have this feeling deep in my heart that somewhere in this world there’s a Jack Ryan type running around going “WAIT A MINUTE! YOU’VE GOT TO LISTEN TO ME!”

I keep pretty good tabs on the news and the whole thing where the former Ukrainian president fled just seemed to explode out of nowhere the past few weeks. Then came video and virtual tours of the ornate presidential palaces. Then came supposed movements by Russian troops into Crimea. Then came responses from the US that this was a violation of international law. There have been talk of economic sanctions. Now there are even stories about how ExxonMobil would be very negatively effected by sanctions because of massive plans they have to drill in Siberia. Russia is threatening that if sanctions are put in place, US assets will be seized. Today there a more talks about kicking Russia out of an alliance of European nations, and more.

It all very much sounds like the beginning of a Tom Clancy movie. And maybe I’ve seen too many of them, but it also sounds like there should be a Clancy character, an analyst for the CIA, running around the halls at Langley saying, “Something’s just not right.”

I went to breakfast this morning and talked to a woman I’ve known for about four years now who still is very much from Ukraine. She says she has nothing left back in that country now except two friends. Family is gone. She loves her old country, but says brain drain has been going on there for many years now, along with corruption. “The people left there now are trash,” she said. I think she was referring more to supposed leaders, either legitimate ones or not–and I think right now it sounds like more of them are not legitimate than are.

And it sounds like corruption is a big, operative word there. Makes me nervous about why we’re about to drop ONE BILLION US dollars there if there’s such rampant corruption.

It’s no secret that we’re mad at Putin and would like to do nothing but give him a big middle finger–think of Edward Snowden as a primary reason. But again, there seems to be something missing here.

For years I’d thought that the people of Ukraine didn’t like Russians. To that my friend said with heavy accent, “We are same blood. We have Russian blood.” She then told me one of her parents moved to Ukraine from Russia with “just suitcase.”

Yesterday CNN ran a piece from a former Kremlin officer entitled Why Putin’s Move Is No Surprise. And I’ve wondered since all this began what we would do if a Mexican state just south of the US border were to have such an uprising. (Most likely this president would do nothing, but consider there was a threat of that pandaemonium falling over into the streets of the US.) Wouldn’t we want a beefed up presence of authority in the area to keep the peace?  How is that any different than Putin activating troops in the area to keep things peaceful? The CNN trolls had fun with that post, but I have to admit, from that perspective, it’s completely different than what we’re saying here in the West.

The video over the past few weeks show the lavish palaces that were built for the Ukrainian president. CNN kept calling them “his home.” My Ukrainian friend said, “American TV,” and rolled her eyes. “Those palaces belonged to the state. Not the president.” And it made me wonder then if somehow we had a horrific overthrow of the US government and all of a sudden we all could take more extended tours of the White House with it’s fancy technology rooms and spy stuff. Would European media portray what they found here the same way American TV news did of the Ukrainian palaces? I don’t know the answer to that. The Ukrainian palaces sure seemed a lot nicer than the White House, but consider the point, not the technicalities of it. (Needless to say, I’m not advocating for such to happen here in America in case anyone wants to try and twist that.)

I keep reading the news accounts from multiple venues several times a day because I honestly don’t feel like we have been told the whole story about what happened in Ukraine or that we ever really will. We know historically to not trust the Russians. But we also have an ever-lengthening list of times this president hasn’t been honest with us either.

Like the face of Putin, always stoic and ever ready for a game of poker, there’s more going on in this story than we know about right now. And the question to ponder as more and more information and twists come along is will we ever really know the truth?

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Mar 2, 2014 - Featured, The Real Me    3 Comments

TDMN Story About Home-Rule District In Dallas ISD Brings Squeals

TDMN Story About Home-Rule District In Dallas ISD Brings SquealsDallas ISD Logo

As a Dallas ISD ex-pat, it’s often aggravating and comical to watch current goings on in the district, none more so than today’s story in The Dallas Morning News about an organization attempting to drum up petition signatures for an August vote in Dallas County about changing the school district’s governance structure.

With only just preliminary information about the idea, the squealing sounds of stuck pigs are filling up the comments section under the story on the DallasNews.com site.

The saddest part is that rather than having an open mind about whether a new governance system would work, the idea is summarily getting attacked as one that won’t.

Now comes the curious part of looking at who is doing most of the commenting.

Dallas ISD has had serious financial and operational issues for years. The six years I was in the district (2001-2007), I gave making daily improvements there all I had and more sometimes. I was fortunate to serve under two strong leaders and I won’t go into the facts surrounding the one I left under. History has proven my predictions correct, (let’s leave it at that.)

One of the common threaded attacks today is that because one of the people funding the organization proposing the change is a former Enron employee, well, then it has to be corrupt. The story doesn’t say anything about whether or not the billionaire in question did anything wrong at Enron, just that he was there. The people attacking him are likely the very same ones who when they heard someone around DFW say, “Ewww, you work(ed) for DISD” would say, “Hey, just because I worked at DISD doesn’t mean I wasn’t a good employee.”  But apparently it does in this case. Shame on them.

One of the provisions of the idea is to set up a broader governance commission of teachers, parents, and possibly appointed persons to run the district. In a time where there is constant infighting about factions having too much power, the threat of this seemingly would be that those who are holding power for power’s sake might lose out on what they have instead of it being applied even more fairly across the district. Now honestly, how could that be a bad thing? Fair representation is one of the founding principles on which this nation was established to begin with.

The Texas Legislature, in its wisdom, set up this mechanism for school districts many years ago. Apparently it has never been done, but it exists on the books as an option.

What is certain is that there are schoolchildren in Dallas ISD who continue to struggle because of infighting, the racial divisions, and problem pockets here and there.

What also is certain is that there are many good and even great teachers, principals and administrators in the district who get up every school day of the week, and some weekend days, too, to do their level best to make sure the 150,000-plus students in the district get the best chance they possibly can in receiving a good, solid education.

Now if furthering that cause is indeed the true mission of the group that’s making this proposal, isn’t it at least worth getting some more information about it before making a judgmental decision about how it won’t work?  

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Feb 27, 2014 - Family, Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

Domestic Violence is Real, and it’s Serious

Domestic Violence is Real, and it’s Serious

There have been two murder-suicides in Dallas in as many days.

Domestic Violence is a real and serious crime and far too often it goes unreported and when it is reported, many times little or nothing is done about it until it’s too late.

As a victim of Domestic Violence in my own home (yes, a man can be a victim, too), and having worked with Veronica Galaviz, who in April 2010 was attacked in the middle of the night by her estranged husband who after trying to kill her, set her house on fire and then killed himself, I take it very seriously and often roll my eyes when local media give props to efforts to hold awareness rallies or DV agencies that have been in operation for years clammer for additional funding of programs that haven’t even put a dent in addressing the problem.

Let me qualify that. I get why there have been rallies to raise awareness in Dallas about Domestic Violence and I applaud Mayor Mike Rawlings’ efforts to raise awareness about the problem. Raising awareness of the problem is good. Getting people to come make a pledge not to do it, admirable. Sending high school kids to a Cowboys game (to see a star wide receiver who allegedly assaulted his mom) for the most pledges at their campus, yeah.  Saying our agency needs money for shelters because more and more women, children AND men are  falling victim to Domestic Violence, yeah, I get that, too.  There’s just one problem with all of that–little has changed.

Where is the effort to stop Domestic Violence before it happens? 

Sometimes my level of efficacy about the issue is low. Domestic Violence takes place in every culture around the world and has since the beginning of time. The “If I can’t have you, no one will” jealousy mentality is powerful, isn’t new and it isn’t going away. And it’s often deadly.

Veronica has been doing research the past few years and has made yet un-heeded recommendations to lawmakers about ankle bracelets for protection order violators. In her case, she kept telling Rowlett Police that her ex was at her house cutting her cable wires, slashing her tires, and just stalking. They said, even with a video of a man in front of her house slashing tires, that the video wasn’t conclusive it was him. And so they did nothing.  And so he kept acting, and acting, and acting, until April 21, 2010 at 1:30 a.m. he broke into her house and tried to shoot her. When she got away, he set the house on fire and shot himself.

Veronica has advocated for a one-strike you’re out provision for violating a protective order. Right now, it’s basically just a piece of paper, and if law enforcement won’t act on what’s in it, then it is an EXPENSIVE piece of paper that’s worthless. So add an ankle-bracelet, and when there is a 500-foot violation, etc. it’s off to the county lock up until the person can appear in front of their judge again and the potential victim is kept safe.

Just two ideas. Two ideas that could be a little more costly to enforce, but they could save lives and certainly do more than people filling out pledge cards or shelters filling up with more and more victims.

My Own Case

Domestic Violence comes in different, but nearly always at escalating, levels. I have had things thrown at me, been rushed at like I was going to be physically hit, and scratched and more.

When you wake up in Dallas and fly to New York for an event and don’t want to go walking in Times Square at 12 p.m. EST cos you’re exhausted and have to be up at 3:30 a.m. to go over to the Today Show, you don’t deserve to be beaned by an iPhone in the back of the leg by your spouse, your “safe” person in their anger. (See photo). And then you’re in a mentality of “if I just don’t crack eggshells, things will be better.”  But I’ve learned the hard way that once someone begins doing that and more to you, the relationship needs to end and fast before it gets worse. Getting An iPhone Thrown And Hit In the Back Of The Leg

I have no problems saying that hearing about pep rallies about Domestic Violence make my eyes-roll. The Dallas media has done a lot to promote the mayor’s efforts. And each story I’ve seen, I’ve just rolled my eyes and tried to keep my mouth shut, you know, the victim mentality.  I’ve lived through the abuse and have lost more of my life than I ever could have imagined. People think Domestic Violence only happens to women, but it affects the whole family, and women can do it and act like they’re the victim themselves and few would believe it to be the other way around.

This also is why I don’t take lightly when I hear others making threats either to me or my children whether married, dating or separated. I’ve finally reached the point in my life where if people in relationships are going to be dangerous, the relationship with that person is over and if it keeps up, someone is going to jail. Period.

Domestic Violence is a serious crime and it’s high time it be taken far more seriously than standing in front of City Hall and saying “make a pledge.” I get why it’s being done. It’s just not having an impact.

Anyone can become a victim of Domestic Violence. And that’s the scariest part of all.

 

 

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Feb 19, 2014 - Family, Featured, The Real Me    2 Comments

The Melancholy of Divorce

The Melancholy of Divorce20081001_1898 20081001_1896

On my Facebook wall today are two photos with me and my dog, Molly, my Great Pyrenees we got in 2008 as a puppy and raised to a 70-lb adult, gentle giant.

It’s almost been four years now since the collapse of my marriage with K., expedited largely by external corruption and dishonesty, but also coupled with my own faults and those of my ex, who has lost access to all her minor children through the alleged use of meth and other drugs. (Molly was sent away before I ever got a chance to say goodbye to her–largely out of meanness.)

Two Sundays ago in church, preacher Gordon Dabbs talked about putting one’s past behind so that growth could once again happen. And I have to say that after nearly four years now, the melancholy of divorce isn’t nearly as painful as it was when it was so very raw on my emotions, but there still are triggers that pop up unexpectedly, like today’s photos of Molly, that make me sick inside like I was when my world was collapsing around me. Worse still are two refrigerator magnets of the youngest child; one I raised as though she were my own, who now supposedly is with her biological father, whom she’d never met until well after she’d been removed from her mother’s lack of care. Holidays and birthdays still are painful.

They say “time heals all wounds,” and yes, I am largely recovered emotionally from the trauma of the early part of this decade, but its impact will endure probably till my end.

I think the only way the ending of that marriage could have been thwarted was never to have begun it at all. But I also look back on good times, travels, and the difference my time made with a couple of the kids and when I think of it in those terms, I have no regrets.

I miss Molly, A. and L. J, too. I know my three girls feel the same. Life is hard. Some people have it out to make it even harder on others. And then there are just those variables in life one cannot explain.

Today is a new day. I could not be where I am today but for the hardships of the past, many of them that still have a claw in me. But more and more each day I continue to look forward, eager for new opportunities and new growth–more growth than what I’ve been able to accomplish in the new quiet of the past four years.

There were times when I wondered where God had gone in all the Hell I was enduring. I know now with greater resolve that he was right there next to me the whole time, knowing he’d not put more on me than I could handle, even with the heart attack two years ago, and wanting me to grow in life experiences and pains in new ways so I could greater fulfill the purpose he has for me in this life. That’s not easy to see when one is in the middle of the tornado of divorce and wondering why all of what was is suddenly getting sucked out of one’s life and thrown miles and miles away, possibly never to be seen or experienced ever again.

But God, I have found, has this way of taking us out of our comfort zones when it’s time for us to do something in his plan, not necessarily in ours. Sadly, today, it seems divorce becomes a vehicle for making transitions in life happen. And the result is usually something far better than what we had before. Amen. (That isn’t saying I condone or encourage divorce. But I do believe that in the end, good can come from such bad.)

If you’re suffering from an active divorce, either of your own making, a spouse, or one involving your children or parents, I pray for you constantly. It’s one of the worst experiences in life and it causes so much lasting pain. People shun you. People get mad at you. People form their own judgments of you, right or wrong, and there are times when you feel so very small and hurt inside.

Anger and pain are part of it, but so is answering God’s calling and voice to find good in the bad and make something positive come from it.

That’s not easy, I know. But it’s the only way to make things better, not to mention God has something bigger and better in mind for us all in the end….

Molly Ball on Jan 25, 2009

Molly Ball on Jan 25, 2009 (Photo credit: ClaxtonCreative)

Sophy And Fizz

I plan on getting two Great Pyrenees pups again as soon as I am able. I’m going to name one Sophie, and the other, Fizz. When I was a kid in Northern Michigan, one of my best base housing friends was Robbie Webb and he lived a Where The Red Fern Grows life with two black labs he had of the same name. He’d call them by name or he’d call them “Doggers!”

Eventually I will be returning to the woods of Northern Michigan to ply my book and eLearning trade from the beauty of those many and magical woods.

You see?  A plan.  And moving on from the pains of yesterday. Progress.

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Feb 11, 2014 - Family, Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

In Hard Times God Was With Them–Do You Think He’s Forgotten You?

In Hard Times God Was With Them–Do You Think He’s Forgotten You? What Gordon Dabbs Taught Me Sunday

Sunday in the a.m and p.m. services, Prestoncrest Church of Christ’s Gordon Dabbs drew two amazing word pictures that have helped continue to reshape my focus and attitude the past few days, and I feel compelled to share them here. You know I don’t do this about religion very often, but I’m drawn now to do so.

Growing Into The Enormity Of God’s Love

When we put on Christianity, most of us don’t really have an idea of its breadth. I’d say it’s almost impossible to do so until we spend a lot of time in study, prayer, reflection and personal growth.

During his morning sermon, Gordon painted this word very special word picture: Imagine I’m a billionaire and I go and buy the most expensive private jet aircraft in the world for my 13-year-old son and give it to him and say, “It’s yours. All paid for. The only stipulation is that you are the only one who can pilot the aircraft.”  At 13, his son does not have a pilot’s license. To make the most of his father’s gift, the son will have to go through growth, maturity and pilot school in order to ever make full use of the gift.

Doesn’t the same situation exist in our walk with Jesus? Do you think new born Christians are ready to “fly the plane?”

It’s why on our walks, we need to do as I think it was Paul said, and drink small sips of milk in order to grow, to study regularly and to find ways to mature in our faith.  That’s why it’s a walk, not a sprint.

God Was With Them

The other great thing Gordon was talking about Sunday evening was that through their trails and tribulations, which both involved jail time, the Bible says that “God was with” Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery, and with Paul, who was falsely imprisoned.

The inference is that even in times of great despair and loss for two of God’s favorite biblical characters, he was there with them, at their side, ensuring that they’d be around for to meet his purpose for them.

Finding Life’s Purpose

On the way back from Denver in October I sat on a Southwest flight to Tulsa to Dallas next to a man who claimed to be a professional provoker. Our conversations soon turned to what he does–helping people find their purpose in life.

In an hour, he and I are going to have a Skype call about how to expand the reach of what he does. In preparing for that call, I’ve had to search for many new technologies and gone through his learning materials, which have led me to find my purpose in life. On ClaxtonCreative.com now you will find the new tagline, “Telling Stories With Purpose.”  I firmly believe now that my purpose for being on this Earth is to find the best stories ever, and maybe not yet ever told, and share them with as many people as I may.

So at 48, I don’t know if I’m ready to take the plane up in the air, but I’m at least ready to taxi out to the runway.  As noted many times, the past four years have been the hardest of my life. There have been times when I felt like I’d been left alone in a personal prison of great depth and despair with little where to go but back up again. In those times, I did wonder if God was with me. But as life has begun to unfold, as I have now found my purpose, it’s clearer by the minute that he indeed was right there all along. It also has become clear that I had to weather those horrific storms of life in order to be where I am now. At a point of discovery.

So what’s the take away here? Our faith’s progression is a journey and our minds need nourishment to feed them so they can grow in our understanding of what God intends us to do while we’re here. And no matter how dark things may appear in life, he’s always there. You just have to reach out to him to connect. And in dark days when it seems like you’re miles down in a dark, dark cave that’s pretty hard to comprehend. But I encourage you nonetheless. Reach out your hand. God will be there to take it.

 

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Jan 6, 2014 - Auburn, Featured, The Real Me    Comments Off

Win Or Lose Tonight, Auburn Still Wins

Win Or Lose Tonight, Auburn Still Wins

I just had lunch at my local Wing Stop, figuring it’ll be too crazy to get in there tonight with Auburn and Florida State University playing for the final BCS National Championship. I went in wearing a sweatshirt I received for Christmas heralding Auburn’s chance to play in tonight’s game, and ESPN was playing with no audio at both ends of the store. Across from me, two men spied me watching as Coach Nick Saban commented about Auburn’s defense. Auburn Logo

When I sat down, almost like he was trying to pick a fight, one of the men looked over at me and said, “They’re not going to win tonight.”

I greeted him and responded with, “We weren’t supposed to win the last two, either.”

That was the end of the conversation. It was like talking to a Bama fan up until Wednesday afternoon. (BTW: The best joke so far today–”How long does it take to beat Alabama?”–Answer: “A second, or Sooner.”) Where does such arrogance and outright anger come from anyways?

What The Man At The Table And Most Others Don’t Understand

I’ve been an Auburn fan since we moved from Atwater, CA to Montgomery, AL  in 1981.

In Alabama, you have two options, you’re either an Auburn fan or you’re “One of them.” (An Alabama fan.) Bama has a much longer tradition of winning than Auburn does. One of my friends, in a put down earlier this year, said, “Alabama seniors have won more national championships than Auburn.” Quite biting, yes, and true.

Tonight, Auburn has the chance to win it’s third national championship in the school’s history. No, that’s not as storied as Bama, or Notre Dame, or USC’s past programs. And yes, there’ve been many years at Auburn when we’ve had to just chalk things up to “next year.”

But here’s the part others don’t understand–Auburn was never expected to be playing tonight. All year long we were beaten down by Alabama fans and the news media. Bama fans, up until the last play of the Iron Bowl were constantly crowing about their being on the way to their 16th national championship. All they had to do was push pitiful Auburn out of the way.

So without the expectation of even being here, with a 3-8 record last year, a horrible showing in the Iron Bowl and one of the worst losses ever to Alabama, Auburn’s team this year did something special–they ignored what EVERYONE was telling them and they went inside for something all of us should do day in/day out–they found an inner strength and a determination to not let go of their dreams.

#AUBURNWINS

ESPN is running a nonsensical, non-scientific Twitter poll right now. If you think FSU is going to win, you Tweet #FSUWins, if you think Auburn, #AuburnWins.

In many ways, it feels like I’m back in the Alabama Governor’s Office today waiting for 7 p.m. when the polls close. Then all the pundits and nonsense can stop and the real poll can be conducted.

I hope Auburn wins tonight. But even if they don’t, I’m still going to be very, very proud of what this group of kids and our new coach have done. And we have about 320 more days to remind Bama fans of how long it takes to beat them…..

 

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