Political Foolishness

     Greetings and Salutations;
     There has been a burst of mindless lies and rants from Right-Wingers showing up on Face Book and while I realize trying to combat the problem with facts is probably like trying to keep the Ocean Tide from coming in,  I thought I would not just sit by and do NOTHING.   So…When the above image showed up on my time line, I decided to grab a copy, and, discuss here each of its “points”.
     My first thought upon seeing  this sort of rant is “What in the world are they trying to do with this?”    It would be nice to believe that some thought had gone into it, and, it was designed to generate debate on how to improve America.   However, as Click and Clack say…some people live life unhindered by the thought process.    Rather, I realize that this is nothing more than a whiny rant that has no interest in improving things, but, rather just exists to spread hate and dislike.
     So, now, let us look at  each of the points raised in the image.
     1)  This is Pres Obama’s second term, so, by the Constitution, he cannot run again…so in a few years they will get their wish.  He will be gone and someone else will be elected..  Of course,  they are ignoring the fact that during the five years that Pres. Obama  has already served, he has accumulated a surprisingly lengthy list of quite positive accomplishments, all if which are aimed at improving America.   This has happened  in spite of unending and strong opposition by the Republicans and other Right-Wingers.   A few of the positives?
     a) Osama Bin Laden met his end and was fed to the fishes (Respectfully, of course).
     b) the Deficit is reduced by 3/4 or more from what it was when Pres. Obama took office.
     c)  While the economy is still terribly fragile,  It has improved a bit, and, there is some hope that it may regain much of the strength it had some 10 years ago.
     d) The Stock Market has regained a huge amount of value, reaching numbers it has not seen in a decade.
     e) The ACA is the law of the land, and, after a rocky start, is proving to be a boon to millions of Americans.   Perhaps most importantly, it has curbed many of the abuses by the Insurance Industry that allowed them to cancel policies without reason,  sell crap policies that took huge premiums but provided nothing in return, raise premiums by huge percentages every year, deny people coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” – some of which had NOTHING to do with serious health issues, and, cap the amount of money they would have to spend on a policy holder in case they managed to get a claim approved.
      f) We are no longer deeply entangled in the wars in the Middle East, taking the huge numbers  of casualties that we were during the previous administration.
     There are a lot more, but, these are a few, good examples of why I believe that wishing that Pres. Obama was “gone” is foolish and based on factors that have nothing to do with his performance in office.
     2)  Closed Borders?  REALLY?   If the borders were truly closed, and it was impossible for undocumented workers to make it into the USA, what do these people think would happen?  Like it or not, undocumented workers are a vital part of the American Economy now, have been for some time and probably will continue to be for the foreseeable future.   After all,  who is going to pick the produce, clean the toilets,  build the houses and do all the really hard work that it takes to keep America going?   Are Americans going to take those jobs?   I know that they are not going to work for what the producers pay the undocumented  workers.  Now, if the borders were closed, and Americans DID take over the jobs,  it is likely that they would demand more money for less work.  That would cause a jump in prices for everyone.  Also, I suspect that there wouldb e a drop in availability of goods and services,  because it has been my observation that American workers often do not have the focus or speed that other workers exhibit.   So…it gets back to the question I started with…who will replace the undocumented workers, and, how much will YOU be willing to pay them per hour to do it.
     3) Right now, it is true enough that English is the defacto language of the USA.  However,  that is mainly because English speaking citizens are in the majority, at least for the moment.   For us to not even attempt to accommodate people who speak another language really shows what small, shriveled souls we have.  Read the Constitution.   The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, chose not to create an official language for the country.   Even then, they realized that  America was going to be a melting pot culture  that would attract people from all around the world.  People  who spoke a multitude of languages.   They wanted America to WELCOME those people, because they also understood that the  alloy of these differing peoples would create a country that was far stronger than it would be if it were “pure”.    Finally, If you have a problem with interacting with folks that do not speak English well, I would suggest that it is far better and more productive to learn a second language, then be an egotistical twit and force others to learn YOUR language.
     4) This point seems to imply that American life is NOT controlled by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.   Again…kind of delusional… I look around and while I see some things happening that are infringing on those rights,  I do not see a wide-spread erosion of the Rights guaranteed us as Americans by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.   Since I seem to be missing something, I wish that one of these Right-Wingers would be kind enough to explain to me why they are saying this and what I am missing.  Actually, considering the number of Right Wingers who want to remove Constitutionally guaranteed rights, this is even more puzzling.    After all, it is not the Liberals who are protesting and raising a big stink to try and force the elected officials to block people from their right to vote,  to block children from getting a good, broad education that will allow them to be successful in today’s world, and, are trying to remove the rights of citizens to make personal decisions about their own bodies and life.   It is the Right-Wingers who want to expand government to deny these rights to citizens.   Explain that to me, please.
     5) Mandatory drug screening?   Been there, done that,  and it was an expensive failure.  Less than 1% of recipients were found to be using and, since MILLIONS of dollars were spent on the program, it ended up costing around $40,000 to find each one of them.  The only people that really benefited from these programs are the rich Right-Wingers who run labs that test for drugs.
     6)  No Freebies?  I am not sure that this means to the Right, but, to me, it shows a sad lack of understanding  about what people are getting in benefits from the government.   The food and support benefits provided the poverty stricken in America are hardly generous, are limited to 60 months in the LIFETIME of the recipient, and, are challenging to get and keep.   Actually, Walmart makes out better than most of the poor.  It is reported that Walmart salaries for many workers are so low  that we taxpayers are giving the stores  many tens of thousand of dollars a day to provide benefits to their workers, so they can afford to work for the company.  Also, the rich and ultra-rich get such generous tax benefits that they avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.   It also ignores the fact that many undocumented workers are both so underpaid that they would starve without aid, and, are paying income taxes and such that they will NEVER see any benefits from.  It would be worthwhile for some folks to follow this link, and  read the article, so they will have some facts about the subjects they hold such strong  opinons about.
     Reading this statement really kind of makes me think that the poster is proudly proclaiming that  we are NOT a Christian Nation, but, a collection of greedy, self-centered, grasping bastards that would  kick a starving child to the side of the road if we happen to see them!   Good to know, I suppose, since it clarifies what the rest of the world can expect from us.
     7) A Balanced Budget?   Sure…and easy to do with these two actions:  a) Cut the military budget, the vast amount of pork, the benefits enjoyed by the Federal Representatives,  and the “Black Budget”.  b) Raise tax rates on the part of society that can afford it the most – the Rich and Ultra-Rich.
     8) Tax Reform?   Sure….As mentioned above, raise taxes on the rich and ultra rich.  In the process, eliminate loopholes that allow them and the large companies to hide their income in other countries, and, so, avoid paying any taxes at all.  I realize that to many Right-Wingers,   this means “Stop collecting taxes”, but, again, that is delusional.  There is nothing magical about the government.  It needs to collect money from someplace to pay for the services it offers to the citizens.   No money coming in…at some point, the services will stop.   No one wants to pay taxes, but, everyone wants the services that they get.
     9) Term limits?  Do not make me laugh.  We already HAVE term limits for elected officials at every level.  It is called “getting out of the recliner on election day and voting for someone besides the incumbent.”   Who is responsible for the fact that, traditionally, 95% of the incumbents are returned to office?   You and I and too many other citizens are responsible.  Every American who does not stand in the election booth on the date, and record a vote for someone else  is responsible for elected representatives keeping office well past the time they should leave.
Posted in Ethics, General, General Thoughts, Humanity, Misc, Nuttiness, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Life is Complicated…Observations on Jackson Galaxy

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Over the past year or so, I have started watching Jackson Galaxy’s Animal Planet program, “My Cat From Hell”.   I have to say I like it a lot, as Jackson does a great job of analyzing the family dynamics and finding ways to modify the behavior of the people and animals to make sure that everyone has a positive life.   I will say that this show has also re-enforced one of my basic rules of life – that is that there are no bad animals, just bad owners.    While there have been a few cats that have had actual issues that made them difficult to live with (The most recent, and perhaps the most famous one, is Lux – the “911 cat” who recently became an internet and news sensation because he was so violent that his owners felt they had to call 911 for aid),  a vast majority of the issues are caused by clueless attitudes and actions on the part of the humans in the house.   The fact that Jackson does such a good job of analyzing these issues, and finding ways to re-direct and educate the owners in a non-threatening and non-confrontational way says a lot about him and his talents.    He is not a bad musician either! Over the past year or so, as his program has gathered a following, he has expanded his commercial presence…which is fine of course.   He needs to take advantage of the fame while it lasts. 
     Alas,  not all is happy in Galaxy-Land.   As part of his online store (which does sell quite a number of excellent products),  he has something called “Spirit Essences”.   Now, I had not paid much attention to these, but, recently, thanks to some stress in the cat population here, one of the cats was getting a bit hinky and having some difficulties interacting with the other cats.   So,  since Jackson has, in his Spirit Essences line a couple of products that are designed to deal with the sort of issues I was having, I looked into getting a couple of bottles and trying to modify the cat’s behavior.   Well,   I was terribly disappointed to find that Spirit Essences are nothing more than homeopathy!  And, for $23+  per ounce, that is REALLY ANNOYING to me..  At least he is honest about it, in that the listed physical ingredients in the bottle are water and alcohol.   The description of the process, though, explains that the water  is “treated” by shining colored light that has been refracted through special  crystals  into the water, and, apparently, waving various herbs, flowers and other plants at the water.  The water then “retains the energy” of the materials and lights, and then somehow imparts that to the companion animal  it is applied to.  This is, in my considered opinion, nonsense and nothing more than a way to suck huge amounts of money out of people for water and a small shot of alcohol. Homeopathy has been discredited time and time again…it just does not work.    At best,  the Essences are providing a Placebo effect…but, the claims of the water magically holding onto the energy of the light and plants are just silly.  If the cats that these Essences are used on actually have behaviorial changes, it is because of the increased handling and interaction by the owners  as part of the instructions for the proper application of the Spirit Essences.
     I really like Jackson, and, appreciate the work he does both to improve the lives of the individual cats who end up on his program, the education he provides about the reality of cats and the way their mind works through the show, and, the support he gives for various shelters and rehabilitation programs around the country, so it pains me to see this sort of foolishness being included in his bag of tricks.  In my opinion, if you purchase the Spirit Essences…do not be fooled into thinking you are going to get a magic cure in a bottle that will do anything positive for your companion animal. .   Rather, look at it as a contribution to Jackson’s ongoing programs, and, to specific shelters he is supporting (a part of the selling price goes to a shelter)
     I am fairly sure that Jackson will not ever see this, or hear of it….there is just TOO much noise on the Net.   However…if anyone DOES read this that has contact with him….Please, Please….change the blasted formulation of the Spirit Essences!   Put SOMETHING in there besides Water and Alcohol….It will not affect the cost of production any huge amount, and, at least you will be selling something that might do some good!   I will suggest (and I give up ANY claims for compensation for this suggestion) that you actually put extracts of the herbs and flowers in the bottles.   There is a lot to be said for Aroma Therapy, and, cats DO have a VERY sensitive sense of smell.   Jackson….You do a huge amount of good in the world, with your campaign to help companion animals have a good, long life, and, your other good works…but, the homeopathy thing is a stain that can cause big problems for your growing empire.    
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave
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Remembrance of Things Past…

     Greetings and Salutations;

      Proust, in his famous tome “Remembrance Of Things Past”, spent something like a dozen pages describing the joys of having some Madeline cookies and Tea in the afternoon.    Now, to a certain extent, I can understand his enthusiasm, as I have made Madelines myself, and, the delicate, lemon flavor of those foamy treats is a great taste treat.   I would make them more often, but, they are labor intensive, and, I have not had the time or energy to spend on them for far too long.   I will mention in passing, though, that once when I took a couple of large platters of them to a dinner party of a circle of friends,   I took about six of them back home with me, and, the only reason I took that many was because I was kind of a hard-ass about it.
     However, while that is a pleasant memory,   that is not the one I wanted to mention here.   No,  my topic is really supposed to be Jello chocolate pudding .  I prefer the cooked version over the “cold milk” version, as I think it creates a slightly better flavor and texture.   But, that is personal prejudice….   It had been a while since I had cooked any up, and, yesterday, while I was casting about in the afternoon, to see what I could put together to eat, I noted that I had quite a few boxes of the pudding mix in the pantry.  It had been on sale last year, and, so since at the time, I had a buck or two to spare, I stocked up.   I moved on to cut down on the number of mix boxes, and increase the amount of ready to eat pudding in the refrigerator, ended up with a nice bowl of it cooling on the counter in fairly short order.   One little bit of cooking technology I discovered a bit ago was that it works amazingly well to microwave puddings and custards.   It is amazingly efficient (cutting several hours of cooking in the oven to half an hour or so), and, with the proper sequence of heating and stirring, creates a pudding/custard that is every bit as good as the slower cooked one
     Finally, I was able to spoon out a bowl of the rich, dark custard, and take a bite.   Like Proust, this taste took me back into my memories to a Young Adults Retreat we had held about 25 years ago.   My good friend, Bill M, my sister, Cathy and I were the active force creating the event, and dealing with the logistics of it.   At the time, we were all very active in First Lutheran’s programs for youth and young adults,  so we stayed quite busy.   As a matter of fact just a couple of weeks before, we had run a Youth Retreat.  Of course, food is an important part of these events, and, we were casting around to decide on some sort of slightly sweet dessert snack for the Retreat.  At the Youth Retreat, we had experienced a run on the chocolate pudding.  No one wanted the Vanilla, but, we ran out on the first day of the event (and kind of struggled to deal with the next two days because of it!).  Well,  the Young Adults group was only a few years older than the youth that had run through the chocolate pudding like locusts through a wheat field, so we thought we would be smart and get plenty of extra pudding so as not to run out.
     Of course, as one might guess,  the age difference of just a few years made all the difference in the world.   Almost NONE of the chocolate pudding got eaten over the weekend, and so we were stuck with gallons of the stuff.  It was actually pretty good, though, but, there was just so much of it.     We ended up contributing some to a food bank, as I recall, and took a bunch of it for us to have.   I made it through the stack of cans I had ended up with, but, I was pretty sick of chocolate pudding by the time the last bowl was gone.  It was several years until I would eat a bite of the stuff, and, even today, the mention of a truck load of chocolate pudding remains an inside joke for us.   
     Bee Man Dave
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I am feeling a little stuffed today….

     Greetings and salutations;

     Once again, I am relieved to find that there are stranger people than me out there.   I ran across this link about Walter Potter, who lived around the 1850-1890 time frame.   He was interested in taxidermy,  and started doing it at the tender age of 15.   Today,  he would be looked upon with suspicion, I suspect, as this could be a sign of an incipient serial killer.  However, in Victorian times, there was much interest in the hobby, and, he ended up creating some of the most amazing dioramas out of small animals that one has ever seen.   For us, today, it is a bit weird, and one looks at it with fascination even though there is a strong feeling that one should not…. Here are a couple of examples of his work:  

Busy At School

A nice game of Croquet
     and, I would suggest you follow the link to read  more about  his work…it is pretty amazing:   Walter Potters taxidermy 
Posted in Art, Ethics, General, Humanity, Misc, MultiMedia, Nuttiness, Observations, Questionable decisions, Sculpture, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Who the Hell is THAT?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Some time ago, I was poking through Ebay on one of those random walks to see what nuttiness was posted there, when I ran across a delightful little statue of a cat perched on (and looking over the side of) a stack of books.   According to the listing it was done around the 1950s.  Well, at $80, it was attractive, but, past my pain point, so I did not grab it.   Over the next month though, I kept it on my “watch” list, and, checked on it several times.   No one bought it, and, when the vendor re-listed it at $60, I was no longer able to resist the tempation.   So, now it is decorating one of the little alcoves by the main entrance doors in the Octagon.    Tristan has taken to sitting in the next alcove down, as it gives him a good perspective on the room.   Well,  the title of this post comes from his reaction (which I was able to capture on camera) when he finally realized the cat statue was there:
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The twists of life.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     The past couple of months have been a chaotic nightmare in many ways.   Firstly, we were ready to move into the Octagon on The Hill as of the first of the year, so I got given the job of moving everything from the Rental to the new house.   Lisa, who has had increasingly bothersome amounts of pain and disability from her left hip, was not really able to help that much.  She managed a couple of sessions of a half hour or so each, of putting stuff in boxes, but, that was it.   The entire burden fell on me.   In addition, when we told the landlord that we were finally heading out, they turned around and found someone to rent the place who wanted to move in almost the day after we exited!   Of course that was not going to happen, as there was cleaning that needed to be done, and, some repair items that had been pending because I was too nice a guy to make an issue of it with them.   However, they needed us out by the end of February.   I made it, by pushing myself too hard, and, through the kind aid of several of my friends, who came out one day and helped me get four truckloads of possessions out of the Rental and into the Octagon – including the heavy stuff of the appliances and some other furniture.   I cannot express how thankful I am that they came through for me, and, would not even let me feed them dinner in return!   I will get them later with the dinner thing, but, I did not push it then. 
     Then, to add to the fun…At the first of February, Lisa went to an appointment with her medical group, and, finally mentioned to them during the examination that she was having a lot of pain from her hip.   They took an x-ray, and, a few minutes later popped into the examination room to say she was scheduled for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on the next Tuesday.   She felt that it was probably not good news simply because one does not get an appointment that quick for a consult, or double-check.  Indeed, the surgeon, Dr. Oros, looked at her scans and scheduled her for hip replacement surgery 10 days later!   While things went very well, indeed, she did have to stay in hospital for several days, and, I, of course, spent much of that time there too – which meant that nothing got moved from the Rental.   It has now been four and a half weeks since the operation, and, from my point of view, she is doing very well indeed.   She has been very good at doing the physical therapy exercises we were shown in Joint Class,   and continues to push the envelope.   She discarded the walker almost completely after Dr. Oros said she could try walking with a cane a little bit, and has hardly used it since.   She is back to work, at least for half days until the NEXT appointment, where with luck, she will be cleared for full time again.   she is driving herself fairly well.   And, her quality of walking has improved greatly.   Now, for example, she is getting good, normal movement out of her left leg – after using it for little more than a crutch that she moved by swiveling her hips for a couple of years.   She is quite steady, and has had NO falls, even when negotiating stairs.    Finally, her uses of the cane is evolving.   She was putting weight on it when she first started using it, but, now, it is more for balance and steadiness.   So…that is good, but, since I was the caretaker during this time,  it did complicate trying to get other things done.
     Finally, once everything was packed into the Octagon, that still left a somewhat overwhelming number of boxes to empty out and sort out the contents to their final location.   That has proceeded apace, though, and while it is still pretty chaotic here, it is easier to find things, and the paths are MUCH wider.
     As for the Art and Cats part of the title….that has to do with the move too.   The cats are really taking to their new environment well.   They enjoy the fact that they can run long distances now, and, have several big windows where they and Mr. Sunbeam can get together.    They are also enjoying exploring the main part of the Octagon, and, really want to get up into the tower (which has been off limits because they could have escaped into the garage)  and have managed to get into it a couple of times already.  Since I covered the open risers of the stairs with wood paneling, I have no problem with them going into it now.
     So…we are in the Octagon.    It is a MUCH better house than we have lived in for some time, and, if we can keep it is going to be a great place for parties, and life in general.   Keep your fingers crossed!
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looking at the ravages of winter and neglect.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, for the first time in far too long, I hiked into the apiary, to see what was happening there.   My thought, as I looked around, was that at least it is going to provide me with a great opportunity to rebuild and restore it in a better place and plan!   I am sorry to report that the two colonies I had remaining last year have either crashed, died during the winter or flown the coop, as the apiary is a quiet, and deserted place just now.   While the hives have not suffered too much – they are still standing and appear fairly dry and such, the girls are gone.   Maybe in a couple of months I can afford a nuc or two and get them going again.   At least this affords me a chance to clean up the hives, and move them to a better location.   
     One problem I noticed a bit ago is that the “good” place I had for them turned out to be a location where a river of very cold air would accumulate and flow by.   Considering the single digit temperatures we had a month or two ago, I suspect that is what did the girls in.   Ah, well, live and learn.     As I may have mentioned before, though, one good thing about living on the property, instead of 30+ minutes away is that it allows the opportunity to actually take care of things, instead of being an absentee Landlord.
     More later…
     Bee Man Dave.
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Keeping life Positive…more or less.

     Greetings and salutations;

     Amazing how quickly time slips away when life becomes a hectic whirlwind of chaos and challenges!   However, I am trying to ensure that I find ways to bring little rays of sunshine into my life, to help drive back the darkness of Depression and frustration.   Although I have been spending almost every penny I have scraped together to make the Octagon livable and keep it progressing to completion, last week, I decided I needed to do something purely for me.    As it happened, I had, some weeks ago been poking through Ebay, marveling at the amazing variety of weird stuff available today, and, I ran across a small statue of a cat, perched on a stack of books.   Well, two of the primary forces in my life that keep it worth living are the cats I interact with,  and the books I am blessed with.   However, at the time, it was listed at $80.00, which was slightly more than I could cough up.   So,  with a sigh, I moved on.   Well, a little bit ago, I was, again, distracting myself from the stresses of reality with a dip into the Weird Pool of Ebay, and, to my surprise, the cat statue was not only still available, but, it had been marked down to $60!   While still a worrisome sum of money, I decided to go for it, and, did a “buy it now”.   The statue showed up today, and, I have to say that it comes closer than anything recently has to bringing a smile to my face.   It was claimed that it was sort of an antique ( supposedly carved in the mid-1950s).  I do not have proof of that, but, it is really nicely done, and, the cat has a very “cat-like” expression of concentration on its face.   I am very pleased with it, and, will enjoy having it around as long as I can.   Violetta and Tristan spent a little bit of time sniffing the “carved” cat….which was most amusing.   In any case, here are a few pictures of the sculpture.

There is a lot of detail on this well-carved item…

Violetta noticed the new cat directly and checked it out.
SHe rapidly lost interest when she discovered it was just a carving

And here is the carved kitty looking down at the floor…
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New picture of the Octagon.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Progress is happening at the house in Blaine, although it remains a slow and painful process.  The picture at the top of the Blog, as of 2013/11/09 is a picture I took recently when I had to be on site by 7:00.   That was very early, alas,  but, the golden sunlight flooding the structure made it look pretty good.
     More later
     Bee Man Dave
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Once again, the Politicians AMAZE me.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, it is now day 9 of the government shut down, and, I, for one, have been affected by this childish game.    Specifically,   several months ago, my younger sister told me she and family were coming through Knoxpatch on the 3d of this month, and, she was going to throw me into the van and drag me up to Washington D.C. for a few days.   There were three main reasons for this trip.   
     First off, my older sister and her husband are celebrating the 43d anniversary of their wedding this month.   Considering the state of relationships in America, this is a minor miracle, and, is a great thing to see.   There are just too few people who truly complete each other, and, have a happy marriage even after all these years.   No marriage is without conflict of course, but, she and her husband have found positive ways to work it out, and, still care deeply for each other.   I freely admit that I have some envy for them, as I am far less socialized and find that happy state to be well out of my reach.   With luck, they will have many more years of happiness.
     Then,  there was the fact that neither my younger sister and her family, nor I, have been to D.C. for about 10 years, and, my younger nephew, Tim (AKA Tennessee), has never been there, so, it is high time we get re-acquainted with the city, and, he get some exposure to the amazing treasures of the Smithsonian, and, to see the complexities of the Federal Government.   The timing was good, too, as he was out of school for a time, thanks to a “spring break” of sorts, and, my brother-in-law had hit a point at work where the flood of IT problems had subsided a bit, so he could get away too.
     Finally,   my younger sister, being a mother several times over,   is sometimes slightly too concerned about the level of stress in my life, and, wanted to do something to help me escape from it for a bit.   It is certainly true that I have been through some dark times recently,  but, I was surviving….However, she was quite insistent, and, when a Red-haired woman of German/Engish descent makes up her mind that something needs to happen, it is just safer and easier to go along with it.
     So…that was the theory, when this was arranged, several weeks ago – well before the foolishness going on in the Congress right now.   Then,   the Republicans, in yet another attempt to get the Affordable Care Act repealed,  dug in their heels and shut down the government, furloughed 800,000 workers, got the doors of every museum owned by the Feds locked up tight, and, had the Park Service, as their last act before going home and trying to figure out how to feed their kids for the rest of the month,  put up barricades around all the national parks and monuments that they could find.    Now, I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but, even I would have figured out by at MOST the 20th failed attempt to repeal the act,  that I was not being particularly productive.   I certainly would not have pushed on to more than 40 failed attempts, and, I certainly would not have decided to screw over hundreds of thousands of moderate to low income government workers just to make a point.   They claim they are trying to “Save” us from the ACA.   Who is going to save us from THEM?
     As of today (October 10th),   the emergency measures that various governmental agencies had taken to try and shuffle money around to keep going for a while are starting to fail.   Perhaps the most outrageous example is that the bodies of five Servicemen, killed in Afghanistan a week or so ago, finally made it to America yesterday.   The Veteran’s Administration normally gives the families a goodly chunk of cash ($100,000 or so), to cover their expenses for travelling to the Air Force Base where the body will arrive, and, to help with funeral costs and that sort of thing.  Well, thanks to the shut-down, these families were faced with bearing that expense on their own – which meant that there was a good chance that several of those bodies would arrive with no one from their family to meet them.   Luckily,  a private agency has picked up the slack, and is, essentially, loaning the government the monies, to be paid back when the shut-down ends.   However,    the cash that the Veteran’s agency needs to send disability checks, etc, out to our warriors runs out at the end of October.    That will mean that hundreds of thousands of veterans will be forced to find other ways to get dinner, keep the lights on, etc.    In addition, further inspectors have been released from the DOE, so, for example, the nuclear plants around the country are no longer being monitored for safety.    Yesterday, there was a fatal crash on the Red Line Metro in D.C.   THis will not be investigated because the DOT inspectors have been furloughed.   While it may not be that important to a lot of people, I, personally,  find it sad that 97% of NASA’s employees have been laid off, so, many, many programs have ground to a halt.  There are likely going to be some that never start back up, because that equipment is time-sensitive.   I could go on, but, it is trivial to find a train-load of stories talking about governmental services and programs that are shut down.   While I am sure that all of us have one or two programs that we can look at and say “good riddance”.  However, there are a small number of Members of Congress who seem to believe that ANY government  or governmental program is bad.    They want to to destroy everything, apparantly with the attitude that somehow, by a miracle, some other private organization, or church will pick up the slack, or,  all those slackers and parasites who are draining money from the government will go get real jobs and become productive citizens!    It is amazing to me that it seems to be the very well off, nay,  very rich cats in Congress, who could live comfortably off their bank accounts and not raise a finger for the rest of their lives, who seem to feel this way.   They do not seem to have any idea of what a challenge life can be for us ordinary mortals today!  They want to get rid of the ACA – and allow the insurance companies to go back to cherry-picking only the most healthy folks to sell policies to – which did a great job of making huge profits for them, but, left millions of Americans with little or no insurance against catastrophy.   They want to allow the insurance companies to put caps on how much they pay out…so if you happen to get an aggressive cancer in your 30s,  by your 50s, you will have gotten all the treatment for it they will pay for, and, there is little left for you to do but die.    They want to attempt to turn America into a Theocracy, where, as long as you are a fundamentalist, and go to THEIR denomination, you will be “ok”, but, if you stray, or believe anything else, you will be subject to many penalties.   In short, it looks to me as if there is a small percentage of Congress who want to turn America into a live version of “The Andy of Mayberry” show, or “Leave It To Beaver”.    It seems to me that sometimes they do not realize these were television shows and NOT documentaries about reality.   It is impossible for America to go there, because it has never BEEN there, no matter what they say.
     The final bit of amazement for me is that the Republican Party, which my parents were proud members of, has been taken over by these extremists, and has almost totally given up the idea of fact based arguments, and, relies only on lies, anecdotes, and ad-hominum attacks on President Obama and the Democrats to try and push their agenda.   It is a terribly sad thing, because many Republicans I know are very intelligent and wise folks, but, are trying as hard as they can to swallow the jagged bits that the party puts out now.
Pleasant dreams
Bee Man Dave
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How do YOU deal with Stress?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     After far too long as a Renter,  we are moving into the Octagon on The Hill.   Thanks to the economy,  my health issues, and the difficulties that are a hallmark of two people with very different goals that work on building a new structure,  it has taken several years to get to the point where it is livable.     The stress  of moving, and finishing some of the pending tasks is still there, alas.   While I hope that this is the last time I will have to do a major move in my life, I fear that at least one more terrible disruption is rolling down the pike towards me.   That  adds more worries to those dark moments in the wee hours of the morning.   However,  with luck,  being able to contemplate views like the following from the Deck will help me find enough peace to deal with those stresses in a positive and productive fashion:
      This is looking  South-Easterly from the deck.
This is looking Westerly, watching the shadows of the tower creep up the nearby trees
This land has a lot of positive energy to it, so it is fairly soothing.  Combining that with the fact that the neighbors are rather far away, it is quite peaceful.    I am hoping now that we can  have some dinner parties and music evenings there…
Wish Us Luck.
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave
Posted in General, Humanity, Observations, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How should we treat the Needy in our society?

     Greetings and Salutatons;

     Just a short note about a story I read this Sunday morning.   It seems that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina is starting an urban renewal project by making life for the homeless in the city less comfortable.    As I mention in the below note, I am all for cities being clean, nice and attractive, but, it is somewhat repulsive that the towering, crystal spires be built on the misery of the disadvantaged in the city!   A link to the article that came across my desktop is included in the quote of the letter I wrote….
 Greetings and Salutations;
This Sunday morning, I read an article about how the “Love Wins Ministry” was prevented by the LEOs from distributing free food to the homeless and needy in your city.   Here is the link to that story:  http://lovewins.info/2013/08/feeding-homeless-apparently-illegal-in-raleigh-nc/

I am registering a protest against this action, and support the ministry’s actions completely. 
There are several reasons for this decision:
1) As a follower of Christ, I follow His lead in this matter – and his teachings were that we, who are more fortunate, are to help the disadvantaged whenever possible.
2) I have a general objection to the thought that in America, where we throw away more food in a year than many other countries would need to feed their entire population, there are people who remain food insecure.   How in the world does anyone expect a person down on their luck to be able to climb out of that hole when they are preoccupied by trying not to starve to death.
3) There was a mention of a “revitalization” of the city bouncing around in your minds.   While it is a wonderful goal, and if we have to have cities, we want them to be as nice as possible,  it is a bad idea if you are going to build it on the bodies and misery of the homeless trapped in it.   If you think that an artificial limit on how they can get food will have any positive effects, I fear you are doomed to disappointment.   They will not leave, they will not vanish, and, I suspect that if you use draconian methods like this to try and make the problem go away, all you will see is an increase in property crime, and, in the number of homeless, desperate folks standing by the road with cardboard signs begging for food.
4)  From the article I read, the Ministry folks were treated with terrible disrespect by the LEOs that prevented the food distribution.   For the police to arrogantly tell them that (a) they were going to jail if they handed out the food, and (b) to refuse to quote what laws they were breaking indicates to me that there was no legal basis for harassing these people and their clients.   I am not a lawyer, but I have enough age and experience in local politics to feel that I am quite correct in pointing out that this is the sort of police tactic that exposes the city to some serious liability.   If, for example, the LEOs had arrested some or all of the Ministry folks, this would have gone to court, and unless the charges were very well documented and not the usual mish-mash of serious-sounding, but hollow charges that the LEO community uses to annoy citizens, the case would bring nothing but acquittal for the defendants and, loads of bad publicity for the city.   Think for a minute – How would you like Rachael Maddow or Anderson Cooper to feature Raleigh on their programs, in the “worst thing in the world” or “Ridculist” segments?

That having been said – Let me offer you some suggestions on how to fix the problem and make this a winnable situation.   I gather from the article that there are no places in the city, where people in need of food can go for a hot meal on the weekends.   This Ministry was created to deal with that need, so, the simplest way to deal with the situation is to re-open the soup kitchens and shelters on the weekend.   I am sure the Ministry folks who now take food out into the world would be happy enough to support this effort with volunteer labor, if the expense seems too much.
Alternatively,  reconsider the licensing structure and costs as regards public areas.   While $800/day is probably quite reasonable for using the park for an entire day, it is far out of line for the short time that the Ministry folks would be there distributing food.  After all, considering the demand and supply available, I suspect that the food is all gone within half an hour of their opening up shop.   So, either pro-rate the licensing costs, or create a free license with restrictions, so the Ministry can come in, do its work, and leave without hassles.   Now, as a part of this, if there is going to be a conflicting event there that the City knows about…make it a point to communicate with the Ministry folks, so they can have their distribution set up elsewhere, or far enough out of the way that it will not conflict with the other event(s).
I would also strongly suggest that your police department be reminded that they are not warders in a prison, and, the people they were threatening were not prisoners under their control.   The fact of the matter is that, even in these chaotic days, the police force is a servant of the citizens.    They are hired to keep the peace by ensuring that crimes against citizens end up with the criminal being tracked down, arrested and put into the Justice system.  Law is the basic structure of our society, so an accurate and objective police force to enforce those laws is a vital part of that society.   If the police err in their enforcement of the law, it should be on the merciful side.   For example, in the quoted example, it would have been more appropriate for the LEOs to say to the Ministry folks “This statute says that you are no longer allowed to distribute food here.   Go ahead and give out what you have today, but, do not do it again.  The NEXT time you will be arrested for <list of excuses for cracking down on the folks>”  Obviously, this was not the course that was taken.

I could go on, but, I believe this makes my point.
Dave Mundt
Knoxville, TN.

Posted in Ethics, Food, General, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why should someone have to die because some punk is “bored?”

  Greetings and Salutations;

Once again, my fellow Americans have shown that they have the capacity to amaze me and push the limits of how one should conduct oneself.

In short, Christopher Lane was an Australian baseball player, in the United States on a baseball scholarship. Last week, while visiting his girlfriend and her family in a small town in Oklahoma, three boys (ranging in age from 15 to 17), pulled up behind him in a car, pulled out a gun and shot him in the back. This week, a court heard that their explanation for the act was that they were bored, and, thinking of themselves as wanna-be gangsters, randomly picked this young man as a target.

People around the world are asking”why”, and “How could this happen” and such. A problem with asking these questions is that it pre-supposes that there are some rational reasons for such an act. There really are not, as it has more to do with the weird way that the minds of kids work than any real reason. I believe there are some factors that contributed to this terrible event, that provided the roots for the act, and, I want to discuss them in this post.

Over the past several decades, there has been an almost obscene glorification of the outlaw and the gangster. The American entertainment industry has glommed onto this theme with both hands, as they see that it sells movies and television shows. As I have said before, children are, essentially, empty vessels  when it comes to morality, ethical behavior and the like.  If parents do not work to fill that void with positive values, then, those places will be filled by the next option – which in this case is the examples set by the entertainment media.

As I just mentioned, one of the other issues that is causing problems is the issue of parenting (or the lack thereof) in today’s world. This is a complicated issue, too. Some of the problem is that the economy is such that it is almost impossible to survive if both spouses do not have fairly well-paying jobs. This sucks up so much time and energy that even the best parents have limited time to do the sort of job that is necessary to rear good citizens. There is the fact that, still, too many parents do not want to BE parents, and accept the fact that this requires them to be the “bad guy” at times.  Rather, they seem to look upon their children as their new “best buddies”…and think that it is ok to treat them as equals. This attitude is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that the kids will not get a good moral basis to live by,  but, will tend to grow up with a sense of entitlement and self absorption that makes everyone else far less important.  . This attitude also ends up making it nearly impossible for the parents to discipline their kids, and, it allows the kids to believe that they are doing everyone a favor simply by existing, and they have no duty to put the dirty dishes in the sink after eating (as a single point in the list of helpful chores). The whole concept of assigned chores and working to help improve the environment for the entire family is falling by the wayside. There is the fact that too many parents, these days, have no interest in supporting the education of their children. Too many of them seem to believe that their “Little Snowflake” is perfect, and, if there are problems at school, they must be caused by unreasonable demands on the kid by teachers, or, tyrannical administrators, or some other factor.  So, instead of supporting the teachers, and working to make sure that their kids are doing the work necessary to pack the information and skills into their heads that are necessary to become good citizens these days,  they rant and rave at school administrators to try and force them to change things to fix THEIR problem.

Unlike too many people on the Net, I may rant about problems, but, I also try to offer some ways to improve the situation. Now, how would I approach this can of worms?

First off, I realize that I cannot fix the parents in the world, although it would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and improve the quality of their work and to make it easier for them to be good parents.  However, I would encourage everyone to consider looking at their parenting habits, and, perhaps start taking a more active part in their kid’s life. My upbringing was hardly perfect, but, my parents DID take far too much interest in my life, and keeping track of what was going on in it. Also, I had chores, and, I had to do them…NOT doing them was not an option. I did not like it so much at the time, but, it left me with a strong sense of taking on a job and finishing it, even if it was hard. I also tend to see problems or messes and clean them up without waiting for someone to ask me to do it….I just do it,   I, for one, think my life and the lives of those around me are better for it.

An issue with this murder was that the three boys who did it were sitting around the house, killing time. The old saying is “Idle Hands are the Devil’s workshop”,  There is a lot of truth to this old saying.   Now, some of this could have been dealt with if the kids had enforced chores to do, or some other, positive activity to fill their time.  One of the things that kept me out of a lot of trouble when I was in my teens was the fact that I had a membership in the local “Boys Club” (Now, known as a “Boys and Girl’s Club”). That gave me a good place to go, it provided me with a fairly decent library, and, the staff there had organized games that they would drag us outside to participate in. While I am no great fan of Basketball, it was good to get dragged out on the court and practice the concepts of teamwork, as well as building my eye/hand coordination. Over the past decade or so, the Conservative wings of the government have consistently cut funding for places like this.  I think this is a foolish savings, as it only saves a small amount, and, ends up removing the places where kids like this can work off that excess energy, and get a bit more socialized.

Finally, this glorification of the“gangsta” world has to end.  It has never brought anything goodto the equation, and, it never will.

These three kids have done a terrible thing, for which they will pay for the rest of their lives. If we do not make some serious changes in the road we are on as a society, I fear we shall see more and more such events in our world.  Nothing good can come from this.

Pleasant Dreams

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Space Program is SO worth it

    Greetings and Salutations;

     There are so many amazing images that NASA is collecting, that I thought I would share one here.    This is an image of two of Saturn’s moons (Mimas and Pandora) hanging in space just outside of the Rings.   It is an image taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it orbits the planet, and, is yet another of a amazing flood of images from this craft.
     Mimas is interesting, as it is also known as “The Deathstar Moon”, because the huge crater left from a meteor impact has left a bowl-like depression in JUST the same general area as that monumental space craft from the Star Wars Saga.    It is a pretty amazing sight. 
     However, images like this are not only kind of amazing to view, but, some quite useful, scientific data can be gathered from them.   Rather than repeating the information, let me point you to The Bad Astronomer blog entry that discusses this at some length.
Posted in Astronomers, Astronomy, Cosmology, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

No More Spam, Man

     Greetings and Salutations;

     I am sorry that the actions of a few have to impact the reality of the many.
     I just spent quite some time zapping close to 200 spam posts from the comments queue.   Frankly I am tired of it.   I do not know if anyone out there actually reads this blog, nor, frankly, do I care that much.  I do not do it for you as individuals.  I write these posts because there are topics that I feel are important enough to comment on, and, leave a mark.
     So…to get back to the comments.   From now on, you will have to be a registered member of the blog in order to post comments.   Your comments (if any) will still get moderated before they appear, so do not worry if they do not pop up immediately.    If you have any questions, feel free to email me at xmundt@yahoo.com.   Put “beemandave blog” in the title to catch my attention.
      pleasant dreams
      Bee Man Dave.
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How to write a story (one man’s view)

     Greetings and Salutations;

     I was perusing my FB entries a bit ago, and, I came across a plea for help from a novice writer.   They were experiencing challenges in getting stories finished up and ready to go, and, wanted helpful suggestions on how to make the process less painful.   I got to thinking about this, and, while I do not think there is ANY painless way to go about it   (after all, I believe it was Mark Twain that said “Writing is easy…just put a sheet of blank paper in the typewriter and stare at it until you sweat blood”),   I think there are some steps that can ease the process…so here we go:
       Writing is, perhaps, one of the hardest habits to deal with.   To be driven to write, yet, to have to deal with those distractions makes it very difficult to get a good story out and onto paper (or in the computer).   
     While there are a number of things that can make it a problem,   I thought I would touch on a few of the main ones that I have run into over the years of trying to get something worthwhile on paper.  When one is attacked by several problems at once, the best actions is “Divide and conquer”….
     0)  Dealing with getting off track!
      Decide the  destination for your story.    Keeping focused on, and, progressing on a story is easier if it has a target to shoot for.   As a part of that, it can  help to rough out an outline for the general path of the story.    If you do not have a concrete goal to focus on, it is entirely too easy for one to wander aimlessly around the land.   A perfect example of this  is Frodo’s quest in LOTR.   The Cracks Of Doom in Mordor were his goal.   He focused all his energies on achieving it, and, so, while there were diversions, mostly due to the actions of others, he successfully reached that goal and fulfilled the quest.    That having been said, I also realize that sometimes when one gets into a story, it becomes clear that the original goal was the wrong one.  Either it does not fit the protagonist’s character, or, it is too confining.   Sometimes a change of destination can allow the author to create a much better story.   However, if this happens more than once or twice, then, it is the wrong story, and, needs to be scrapped and restarted from scratch. 
     1)   Sometimes, when we get off track, it is because we are distracted by an interesting plot twist, or a character who shows some unexpected facets of their personality.  These are useful, as they can be seeds for a whole, new story.  so, open a “slush fund” file, and, write down some notes about that distraction.   Do not spend too much time on it, but, put down a few high points, so, later on you can revisit the situation and use those notes to flesh out that new story.    I find plot twists are easier to do this with, as they translate to other stories without too much difficulty.  Personality quirks of characters require a little more work, though, as, part of writing a good story is creating a 3d character who people can relate to, and, will care about.    Every personality trait we put on a character changes the way they will react to events in the story, so, making too many changes can lead to problems…which leads us to point 2….
     2)   Try and start out with as fully formed characters as is possible.    When I was running my AD&D campaign,  I would spend hours thinking about the major non-player characters that inhabited the world.    I created a reasonably lengthy back story for each of them, so when the players would intereact with them in the game,  I would know what the NPC liked and disliked, who their allies, friends and enemies were, and how they would react to dealing with them.   I did not, of course, create a fully formed being there, simply because there were not enough hours in the day.  However, if I had a couple of dozen facts about each NPC, that was usually enough to get a realistic reaction when they reacted to the players.   That having been said, I also realize that, as one writes,  the characters change.  We get to know them better, and, as creators, certain things start feeling “right” or “wrong” as a part of the character’s personality.    For example, in my campaign, There was an innkeeper who really hated Elvish sorts, and especially Elvish Mages.    He would be coldly courteous to them, but, if he had a chance, he would find a way to injure them.    As it turned out, his story was that he had a strong strain of Elvish blood in him, and, his grandparents, who had been pure Elvish, had been destroyed by an experiment gone wrong.   They had gotten involved in the Dark Magics, and, had been incautious.  Well, he had lost them very early in life, but, had a very close relationship to them, so their apparent deaths had hit him hard.   The family – both Elvish and human, had buried the truth of their death and had maintained that they had been killed by another Elvish Magic User after a disagreement got out of hand.    The Innkeeper had kept a grudge against all Elvish sorts ever since, and, had a certain amount of self-loathing for himself because of his heritage.    Since the adventuring party included a couple of Elvish types, this had the opportunity for some serious repercussions….    In any case, this short example shows how it is a good idea to flesh out the characters first.  They may change during the telling of the tale.   That is not a problem, as changing is one thing that makes it easier for the reader to relate to them.   However, having a solid base to start from always makes for a better, easier story to write.
     3)  Make it a point to write the story you have laid out, then stop.   Do not try to edit on the fly.  Do not worry about whether or not it is great prose or crap.    Some years ago, a wild child of Science Fiction, Harlan Ellison, said  I don’t know if what I write these days  is great or crap.  I put it out there and people read it.    He has been writing since the 1950s, and has amazing amounts of experience and knowledge.  He is also not afraid to push the envelope.   I have read most of his works, and while some of them ARE crap…even the worst have some very interesting moments in them, and the best of them are gems of insightful writing.
      Once you have put the last word of the story in place, put it aside for a bit.  Let it mellow.    Then, and only then, go back and read it with fresh eyes, to see if there are some awkward places that could be polished up.   There will be, trust me!   I have joked over the years that the best authors are not writers, rather they are Re-Writers!    This is also a place that having a good editor can be a God-send.   A different set of eyes to read the story, and mark it up for awkward writing, or spelling/grammatical issues is a wonderful thing to have.  It can be painful for one’s ego, but,  the result will be a much better story.     By the by…my definition of a “good editor” is pretty much covered by the proceeding sentences.   It is, alas, not a person that is just as creative, who will start re-writing the story the way THEY would have written it.   Even if they are your best friend, that is not good editing.
     4)  One of the other issues brought up in the original post was, basically, “is the idea good enough” or “is my writing good enough”.   Put that concern out of your mind.  That is nothing more than the demons of Failure and Dispair whispering in your ear.    I would go so far as to say that ANY idea can create a great story, even one as mundane as “do you hang the toilet paper roll with the end to the wall, or out into the room”.   As for the question of “is your writing good enough”…I say a qualified yes to that.   It is fairly unlikely that your first story is going to take its place with LOTR (as an example).   However, if the writing is clear, and you can find an interesting point of view…then, yes, it is great.   It will get better, as you write more (that is the nature of the beast), but, it is likely good enough now that if you publish it, you will find a fair number of people who will read it, and enjoy it…and THAT is one of the goals of writing.
    One of the things that just grates my last nerve are those authors who go back and destroy old notes, or partial stories, because they cannot see the value in them.    For that matter, I know of at least one amateur writer who keeps threatening to take the story she has spent hundreds of hours on, and, delete it, without backup, because she is unhappy with it.    The fact is that this is a terrible waste, and is admitting that the demons are right.   The only way to succeed is to push those demons back, and keep moving on towards the goal.    perhaps the most important lesson learned in my multiple creative careers (woodworker, programmer, and Dungeon Master) is that the end product is NEVER going to be as good as we want it to be.  We, the creators, will always see the flaws.  We forget that those flaws are like Sun-spots.  They are tiny defects in a huge ball of light, and, the rest of the world is only going to see the amazing ball of light.
     5) Keep the momentum going.    if getting a story finished is a problem, then, do not put it in the drawer and ignore it for weeks.   In a perfect world, we would have time and flexibility to be able to set aside a chunk of time every day to work on the writing.   I have a good friend who is quite an accomplished author of Fantasy/SF tales, who makes it a point to pull out her writing during her lunch hour and work on it a bit.  Some days, she gets a couple of thousand words typed in.  Some days, she stares at the screen for the entire time.   But, the momentum is there.   In a bowling analogy…when I was learning to bowl, my instructor’s favorite line was “Pick up the spares;   the strikes will come”.    That one day when the words flow out of one’s fingers like sparkling waterfalls makes all those other days of just a couple of edits more than worth it.    That having been said, I have to say that I do not perform well under pressure.   If I have a short deadline, it is always harder for me to get the words out.   My mind works more in a fashion of slowly building a model of reality, then, when it is working properly, all I have to do is look at it with my mind’s eye, and, note down what I see.   However, building that model can take time!
     In closing…take heart.  sit down in front of the typewriter/computer with a blank page in front of you.   Type something…  Then, type something more.  When you reach the end – STOP.   You will produce and interesting tale that is worth reading. 
     Pleasant dreams
     bee man dave
Posted in Characters, General, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Plotting, Thoughts on creative writing | Leave a comment

Brave Men Struck Down Too Soon.

  Greetings and Salutations;
     I  am pausing a moment to send my condolances and prayers to the family and fellow firefighters of the “Hot Shot” crew killed by a wild-fire in Arizona.     These are the names of the 19 brave men who had gone into the country, carrying heavy packs and armed with only basic tools to attempt to gain control over a lightning-created wildfire that was ravaging the countryside, and, had already destroyed several homes in a small town caught in the middle of it.     Fire is a vicious monster, and, this time, it whipped around and washed across the crew.   Although they did have protection with them, it was likely inadequate for the fury of the flames.     some of them were just starting families.   All of them had people close to them that will miss them.     Their bravery and self sacrifice both shows that there can be hope for humanity, and, it gives us all a model to aspire to.
     This has happened before, and it will happen again.    Do not let this sacrifice be wasted.   Take action to keep your house safe from fire by taking common-sense precautions.    When you are out having a picnic in the wilderness, or camping,  practice good fire safety.   This fire was started by lightning.  Too many fires are started because of stupidity, or deliberate arson.   And, perhaps most importantly – Thank a firefighter for their efforts to make the world a safer place.
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave.
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Drowning At The Shelter

     Greetings and Salutations;

     It has been far too long since I added any notes to this  journal of my wanderings through life and the Internet.   Unhappily, life tends to overwhelm one at times.    Among the various things that have covered me up recently are several bouts of severe depression.   This is a problem I have struggled with since I was far too young, but, only in the past few years has it gotten to a point that I have (for example) been unable to take a step outside of the house for a week – and barely been able to get out of the recliner for much of that time.
     One of the anchors that have helped me through this period are the companion animals that live in the house.   We have, at the moment, six cats, all of whom were rescues from a feral life in the great outdoors.    For you that do not interact with cats all that much, do not believe that they are aloof and uncaring.   If one builds a relationship with them, they are quite caring.    In any case, while I was locked into the Darkness in my mind, they would hang out with me, and be very purring and happy when I would scratch them.   It may sound like a small thing, but, it was a huge help.
      I realize that the proceeding is kind of a bummer and not the most cheerful way to start off a blog entry – but, it leads me into my original topic, mentioned in the title.    In that title, I am referring to the ongoing problem of excess animals that we Americans produce every year, and, the somewhat shameful way we treat them.   Right now,  the local shelters are beginning to fill up with dozens and dozens of cats and dogs that have no “forever home”.   Some of them are animals that were taken out into the country by their owners and dumped, because those people became bored with the animal, or changed the decor of the house, or, had issues they did not know how to handle with socializing the companion animal.  If they are lucky, they are captured and taken to the shelter.    Some of them are batches of kittens or puppies that an un-neutered pet produced, and the owners have no ability or interest in dealing with finding them a good home on their own.   In any case,  the shelter ends up with the animals on their doorstep and has to do something with them.
     Generally, kittens and puppies are relatively easy to get adopted.   Everyone thinks they are cute, and, wants one.    Older cats and dogs can languish for months at the shelter, waiting for their fate.  If they are lucky, someone comes in who realizes that an older cat is a great companion too, and, is just as good or better than starting off with a kitten.    Then, there is the pool of animals that no one wants to talk about, but, the staff at the shelter has to deal with.  These are the animals who have injuries that have left significant scars (like three legs instead of four, or one eye instead of two), or are unsocialized to the point that they are not the cute, snuggly creatures that most people want.    These “unadoptable” animals tend to come into the shelter, and, end up being euthanized within days or weeks.    I know the staff hates to do this, because every one of them has a deep love of animals, and, really appreciates the distinct personalities of each animal that they see.   However,  there are only so many spaces at the shelter, and, only so much food in the stockroom to keep them alive, and so difficult decisions have to be made.    It is a fact that the best thing that can happen to some of these animals is euthanasia.   When they come into the shelter, they have enough physical problems that ending their pain is the kindest thing to do.   However, it is also a fact that (as of last year) around two thirds of the animals that come into a “kill” shelter end up being euthanized.     That is a problem that we, as pet owners are directly responsible for, and, while I am not sure it is entirely possible to get that number down to single digits, there are some things that would help.
     1)  Have your companion animal  neutered.    It does not hurt them, and, unlike humans, they have no sexual insecurities that cause it to bother them.
     2)  If you have to surrender your companion animal, then, do it in a responsible way.   There  are shelters in your area that will take your animal and try to find it a new home.   Go on the Net and search for rescue groups for your animal’s breed.   There are a huge number of people who volunteer to transport dogs and cats from their current home to their new home.  It is quite well organized.
     3)  Remember that getting a companion animal is not like buying a sofa.   They may be a small life, but, they are a life, and, should be looked upon as just as much a part of your family as your children.    Do not think it is acceptable to just discard them if they become sick, or inconvenient, or no longer match the furniture, or, develop bad habits, or, you just get bored with them.    Companion animals will give you unconditional love and do not hold grudges (unless REALLY mistreated).   Remember that to return that, you have the responsibility of making sure that they have a good life until they die.  If that includes making the hard decision to have the animal put down, then, that is OK.   I, for one, will not have an animal put down unless I am there for their last heartbeat, letting them know that their contribution to my life was appreciated, and, that I am willing to escort them into the darkness.   That is, perhaps, one of the hardest things a person can do for their companion animal, but, it is the most ethical thing that we, as humans, can do for our little, furry friends.
     4)  Seriously consider taking an adult, or less adoptable animal from the shelter.   At best, you might lose a few years of time with them…but, on the other hand, you will have extended their life by, perhaps, a decade or so, and, made that life a good one.   I know this is not the easiest course of action.  If you adopt an unsocialized animal, it will require more work on your part.   First, you have to gain the animal’s trust – and that can take some time.  Then, you have to reprogram them to be social creatures – again more time.     I do not recommend this for everyone, but, I will say that I have found, over the years, that I am quite good at the process.   As a matter of fact, I have collected a number of animals from the shelter that were not going to get adopted because they had been tortured by humans and had a deep mistrust of them.   Over a period of time, I was able to work with them, and rebuild that trust to a point that they became some of the most loving, friendly and playful creatures one could imagine.    In one case, of a pair of sisters, it took a year or two before they really loosened up, but, they did become great companion animals.
     5)  Finally, while the world is full of need, consider supporting your local shelters.   They are always happy to accept cash (are not we all?)  but, contributions of cat and dog food and time are always appreciated and will go a long way to helping the problem.
     Dogs and cats have, for thousands of years, been mankind’s companion animals.   They have improved mankind’s lot in many ways, and required very little of us.  Alas, for a variety of reasons, we humans tend to treat them thoughtlessly.   This is the source of the flood of animals that are drowning the shelters these days.    We, as ethical humans, should do what we can to pay back that debt we owe our companion animals, and do what we can for them to have a good life that is relatively danger free.   Take Action!
     Pleasant Dreams
     Dave Mundt
Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

If things look a bit rough just now, I apologize.   I am moving hosts, and, of course, the “easy as pie” stuff never works properly.

The regularly scheduled appearance should return shortly



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Lovely pictures of Technology in Action

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Hidden in the mass of terrible news of destructive weather, personal tragedy and general scumminess on the part of Mankind, there are some bright points.  This, for example is a great photograph of a new communications satellite being launched:
      Here is more detailed information on the mission but, in short, this geo-sychronous satellite will be used to make it easier and faster to gather some of the flood of data from Hubble Space telescope and other NASA satellites that produce large amounts of data.  It is part of the planned maintenance and upgrade path for the NASA Space Network, which provides vital support for the data gathering missions, and, ongoing missions like the ISS.   It has some significant hardware (and I assume, software) upgrades that will help it run longer and handle more data with fewer delays and speed issues.    Granted, this is probably not as sexy as a launch to the ISS, or shooting a VW bus to Mars, but, the roll that the NASA Space Network plays is vital to the success of these missions.   They are like the trucks on the Interstate, quietly bringing the necessities of life to us, and only becoming visible when problems occur.
     While it is important enough, I mainly just liked the photograph!   That wonderful arc of flame, punctuated by layers of clouds that the vessel punched through, reminds me that there remains some hope that we, as a world, could take that step out and escape this cradle we live in.   
     Pleasant Dreams
     Bee Man Dave
Posted in Astronomy, Humanity, Observations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment