Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Secession Puzzlement

In the days since the USA elections, there have been numerous posts on the social media about secession. Apparently, there are petitions on a website that some folks have signed, believing their signatures will lead to the United States government giving them permission to secede from the union.

Interesting. I wonder if the petitioners truly understand what they're asking for?

If they were successful...

How would all the older folks living on Social Security exist? After all, Social Security is a federal program that would not be available to citizens of a "foreign" country. The same can be said for all those other despised government programs... Medicare, Disability, federally funded infrastructure, the Post Office, military bases/hardware, federal prisons, and federal law enforcement. Secession isn't the same as going to live in a foreign country while remaining a US citizen. When you secede, you give up your citizenship-- and your rights.

Of course, any employee of the federal government who lived in the seceded state would immediately lose his/her job. They might hold on to it if they moved into one of the "united" states. But maybe not. There are enough folks in those states who need jobs already. Naturally, that job loss would apply to the congressmen from those states and that might not be a bad thing.

It's true a seceded state would no longer be constrained by federal regulations and laws. That might pose difficulties for some of the citizens. As we saw in the past election, there is much hatred and bigotry roiling beneath the surface. If the majority of a state was in that category, some of the citizens could be in danger without the federal laws. I can easily envision a state with multiple classes where "minorities" (even if they were actually a majority) would become citizens with no rights. And yes, that would likely include women.

I wonder what the new country would use for a monetary system? It can't be dollars as that's the USA currency. And what about all those folks with dollars in the banks? What will they be worth after secession?

If the federal government totally withdrew from any given state, I suspect the state's economy would crash. Some of the states on the petition list are already bordering on bankruptcy. How would they manage when they had to deal with excise taxes on their exports and pay higher prices for their imports?

There would be new costs to police their borders. I suspect the USA would go to a passport requirement for entry at their borders. Yep, I can see long lines in some places--especially those towns that straddle state lines.

And the new state would have to deal with foreign countries on their own. Those states the currently sit on our borders might be vulnerable to invasion from neighboring countries. Border wars would probably be common.

I expect a lot of corporate America would withdraw to safer locations where their assets wouldn't be threatened. And that would put some more folks out of work.

There don't seem to be many advantages, off hand. The only ones I can think of are kind of puny.

A) Everyone that wanted a gun could have one. That seems to be one of the biggies among the petitioners. Of course, that's true in most places in the USA, except for felons, but I guess there wouldn't be any registration, maybe.

B) The state could/would have a state "Christian" religion. As far as I can tell, there's no exact definition of what that would be so that might require some sorting out. And since most folks professing Christianity seem to be pretty bullheaded about being the only right way, well, I can see how some of the sorting might be done with a gun. 

C) Ditto for folks that are out there on the edge of what's acceptable. See B). Once a bunch of people start deciding what's acceptable for their neighbors and family, all sorts of problems crop up.

D) A lot of the city folks would learn how to garden. And sew. And all those other old-timey crafts that have been abandoned in the pursuit of the Wal-Marts. Or maybe Wal-Marts would become the new religion. That's a thought.

Yep, it would be a whole new world for that country after secession. I want to wish y'all the best of luck. You'll need it.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Under the Gun

First of all--Thank you to all veterans for your service! We appreciate the sacrifices you've made in the past and the ones you and your families continue to make in the present!

I was exchanging posts with a friend on Facebook and for some reason got involved in a story from my younger days. One thing led to another and I promised to blog about a particular incident. So here it is...

The first time I ever fired a weapon, I was fourteen. My dad and I were out on my Uncle Bill's ranch in Texas. My memory says it was a shotgun, but reason argues for a rifle. Whatever is was, when I fired it, the kick from it landed me on my butt about six feet away from where I started. That didn't deter me. Over the years, I've had occasion to fire other guns. After all, target shooting can be fun and competitive.

Not so when the weapon is pointed at you.

When I was twenty seven, I worked at a fast food joint, closing the place six nights out of seven. The hunk and I had been married nine years, had three kids and a continually mounting pile of bills. He worked days plus the breakfast rush at the fast food place on the weekends. I worked nights. It's a schedule a lot of young couples go with because childcare is too expensive.

Our store closed at eleven p.m. on the dot. The manager ran around locking all the doors while the rest of us starting taking the bins apart and carrying them back to the crew person in charge of washing dishes. In the back storage room we had a washing machine we used to wash our cotton clean up towels. After dumping off my bins, I snagged the keys to the storage room from the manager's desk and went to empty the washer.

When I unlocked the door and flipped on the light, a guy jumped out at me, waving a shotgun. He had on a rubber Halloween mask with a sheet draped over him.

We never know how we'll react in a crisis until it happens to us. I just backed up and slammed the door shut. It didn't occur to me that I was the one locked out--not him. He jerked the door open, pointed the gun at my belly, and yelled, "This is a hold-up!"

The mind freezes up. I just stood there until he poked me in the gut and told me to sit on the floor under our time clock. He rounded everyone else up by telling them he would shoot me if they didn't come. When everyone was sitting on the floor except the manager, he demanded she dump the money in the drawers in a pillowcase he was carrying. And then he left.

Time started. Stopped. Started. The manager called the police and then the head store manager. The crew went back to work in the close down cleaning.

I remember the plain clothes cops kept trying to talk to me but I was cleaning. Finally, one gently removed the towel I was using from my hands and directed me to sit down.

Then I started shaking.

The head manager called in extra crew to close down and sent the night manager and me to a diner to unwind over coffee because clearly we weren't going to be able to just go home and sleep.

Overall, I thought I was handling the incident pretty well until about two weeks later. All the crew members except the grill guy and me were in the back for a quick crew meeting. Two fellows came in and walked up to the counter, but they were acting weird and my inner alarm were screaming. In my best cheery voice, I welcomed them to the store and asked how I could help them.

"This is a stick-up."

Maybe they were screwing around. I never saw a gun. But I walked away, heading for the crew room. By the time I got there, I was crying and howling.

The two guys ran out to their car and were peeling out of the parking lot when the manager made it to the front counter. The manager called the cops and the same two plain-clothes cops interviewed me again. By then, I was feeling really stupid and sure I'd over-reacted.

When I shared my thoughts with the officers, they just shook their heads. One of them scolded me about discounting my instincts. Then they told me they were pretty sure the same two guys had hit another fast food store after they left ours.

They killed three teenaged crew members there.

Because of the first robbery I didn't react the way I might have otherwise and that had thrown them off their plan. I worked a couple more weeks. And then I quit. The hunk and I decided we'd find some way to make things work without my job. Things were really hard. Not long after that we found out I was pregnant at the time of the first robbery.

I've talked to officers since then over the years. Every single one has told me to never ignore my instincts. If something about an individual sets off my alarms, get the heck away from them. There's a reason that radar is screaming.

And I can tell you firsthand--the real deal is nothing like television or movies or books. Nothing like it.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Lessons From the Pros

In the past few weeks I've read several series by long-time favorite authors. All genres. All lengths. Old stories and new. Here are the things I've learned.

1) There's hope for the first-time author. Chances are our writing will improve. Heh. I re-read the first book by an author I truly love. I confess by the time I reached the last thirty pages I was tired of it. Tired. So I went to the last six pages just to make sure the murderer was caught. That book was interminable. Not so with the rest of them.

2) Series. It's not the number of books in a series that will kill it. It's the total lack of interest on the author's part. If you have to call it in to continue the series, don't bother. Really. You're doing your readers no favors.

3) Stories should have a point. What are you trying to say? Even erotic romance should have a purpose. If your sole purpose is to see how many positions you can use in the least number of pages, that's not romance. That's porn, whether two people are in the bed, or twelve.

4) Conversely, if you're dialing in the sex so you can meet the publisher's guidelines, don't bother. I read a really intriguing little story that was totally ruined by the sex scenes. They could have enhanced the story in so many ways. Instead, they were plodding, miserable interruptions to the story. No author should add an explicit sex scene to a book if the characters truly don't lead the story into the bedroom.

5) Same goes for violence, gunfights, fist fights, car chases, and other ways to stretch the story. Suspense does not equal action. Many times, suspense is much more effective than action. Think about the Hitchcock movies you've watched. He was the master at stretching out the suspense to the snapping point. The active parts were frequently short and sharp. Not interminable!

After all my reading I concluded there's still hope for me. I have a dental appointment today, but on Monday I'll dive back into the writing cave and persevere. Onward.



Thursday, November 8, 2012


Crawled out of bed early this morning and went off to the doctor for my quarterly fasting bloodwork. Lost six pounds so the changes I've made in my "lifestyle" are working.

Came home, had a late breakfast and browsed the news pages on the Internet. Over and over, I noticed one thing. Exaggerated headlines.

Dozens killed in earthquake. Thousands in the dark. 8,500 year old murder mystery.

When you read the actual stories, you discover forty-eight people died in the earthquake. All deaths diminish the rest of us. Generalizing numbers somehow makes their deaths less important. To me, using a word like dozens takes away from the loss. Forty-eight. Forty-eight people died in a terrible earthquake.

Thousands in the dark. It doesn't sound nearly as urgent as 715,000 people waiting for power. Thousands...well, that could be any big number--right? And how can you tell if things are getting better unless you have an actual number? Now if tomorrow I read 610,000 people still waiting for power, then I know some people are no longer sitting in the dark and cold. Or maybe it's an accountability issue. What you don't know, you can't protest.

As for the 8,500 year-old murder mystery. A) They have no idea how the people died. B) Therefore, they have no idea whether they died accidentally, or on purpose. C) They have no clue how the people ended up in the bottom of a well. Blah, blah, blah. Sensationalism at its best.

I realize the purpose of a headline is to attract the reader's attention. Perhaps it's just my imagination. But I believe more and more headlines are creeping into the deceitful zone. And it just isn't the print/electronic media. Those little sound bytes on television frequently border on the "But wait! If you buy two..." territory. Often the reporter reminds me of a yapping terrier or poodle, desperate for attention. Is that what we've come to?

Maybe that's why so many people just tune it all out.


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Among our ancient ancestors, it was common to erect stones circles, cairns, pillers in remembrance of some important event, a sacred place, or a lost loved one. Now such stones are lost in the mist of time or puzzled over by curious scientists and scholars as they strive to decipher their meaning.

My entire life I've been fascinated by these signs from the past. What did they mean? Who raised them up and what significance did they hold for those long ago humans? Did they mark the passing of a leader or loved one? Where they raised in worship? Or did they mark a neutral place where warring tribes could gather in peace?

What compelled them to spend so much effort and time on gathering stones and transporting them, sometimes from distant places to their particular final resting place? Why this place rather than another?

We still raise our monuments to achievement, memorials, worship. I sometime ponder what our descendents will make of our "stones". Will they understand why we found our particular events important? Or will they, too, wonder at the time we spent building them? 

It's possible that our stones, like those from the past, will merely be enigmatic puzzles that occupy the curious as they search for the meaning and significance of our efforts. In the end, this too shall pass.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fair or Not

When my daughter was about twelve, I remember her stomping into her bedroom, muttering, "That isn't fair!" Well, no, life in general isn't fair. I have a theory that the sooner a child learns that lesson, the more capable they are to manage their life.

My first experience with the total unfairness of life was the night my mother died in a car accident. I was ten. It was like taking a huge blow to the chest. How was I supposed to go on with life?

But I did. That night was over fifty years ago. We cope with the most appalling events and move on...because life is not fair. The sooner we stop expecting it to be fair, the better we are at dealing. That's the point where we look around us and say, "We'll be all right." No, not immediately. Not even next week or next month. But eventually, life will move on and we'll be stronger for it.

Paul the Apostle had some wise words he wrote in a thank you letter while incarcerated in a Roman jail. "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4: 11-12 Wise words.

I suspect that's the true secret to happiness. Contentment in all circumstances, whatever, wherever we might be. Fair or not, while we make our way forward to more settled times.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Best Things

Things I'm grateful for today...



A safe place to lay my head and sleep.

A working gas station.

Food to eat and a place to cook it.

Friends and family who are safe.

Blessings on your day.