I don't do GDPR.

I have deactivated my FB pages, personal and for here. Timeframe if/when I reactivate them is unknown.

As long as you aren't a spammer, your respectful comments will be posted. Fair warning, you want to go Godwin's Law on me, the Ban Hammer comes down.

Memorial Day

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This weekend is not meant for you to have a day off, an excuse to grill out, or to participate in various sales to buy things.

It is to honor the men and women who have given their lives for this country and the concept of freedom. From the Concord Green to the Middle East, the citizen soldiers who have answered the call of duty and fallen in battle in foreign lands.

Please choose a day this weekend to visit your local veterans cemetery. Tread lightly, for heroes sleep there. Never forget those who died at sea, for the ocean is their grave.

If you have attended a veterans function, you may have seen a display like the one below. This table honors our POW/MIA's. For those of you who do not know the symbolism of each item, let me tell you:

pow mia table

This symbolizes that our Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action are with us, here in spirit.  

The Table is round, to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.  
This small table is set for One, to symbolize the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors. 
The Tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.  
The single Red Rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and their loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.  
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting for our missing.  
A slice of Lemon, on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.  
A pinch of Salt, symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who need answers.  
The Bible, represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God. 
The Glass is inverted, to symbolize their inability to share this day's toast. 
The Chair is empty, they are missing.

Freedom is not free. It must be paid for by the blood of Patriots and Tyrants who seek to oppress us.

We are never more than one generation away from losing all we hold dear.

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My take on Presidential politics

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Here you go. This is my take on what I see in the current Presidential candidates. To try and remain neutral, I am listing them in alphabetical order by their last name.

Hillary Rodham-Clinton

I perceive this woman to be so fascist that she would give Hitler a hard-on. I see her as the controlling partner of Team Clinton. She is angry, elitist and driven to run things. Hillary was the driving force behind the Clinton Universal Healthcare, she destroyed the names and reputations of the women Bill had sex with who had the unmitigated gall to actually speak out against Bill. She loves the "little people" so much that when an Arkansas State Trooper who protected her said, "Good morning" to Hillary, she went off on the trooper like she was a drill sergeant. She was the head instigator in Travelgate and probably many other "-gates." I have little doubt she managed the assets that probably had something to do with the 20+ people who were close to the Clintons and came to untimely and questionable ends, Vince Foster and Ron Brown among them.

Most of the MSM is firmly in her pocket, ideologically and probably financially. While there are occasional news articles on things like Benghazi or her email scandal, they are downplayed by the reporters. I showed here where her contributions to state Democrat organizations has induced over 500 superdelegates to openly support her, months before the election.

She has made it clear that she is anti-business, as in among other things, openly stating she will destroy the coal industry. She is decidedly pro-gun, as long as the government is the only one with firearms that is. Hillary "misspeaks" (lies) more often than she says something resembling the truth.

Bottom line: Hillary has limited "real world" experience. It looks like every job and position she has held are nothing more than check marks on her resume to get her to the Oval Office. Hillary is after power and she is not afraid to use force of any kind to reach the ends she sees that she deserves.

Bernard Sanders

"Bernie" openly admits he is a Socialist. And we all know how wonderful Socialism is, that is until you run out of other peoples' money. Many of us older folk saw how wonderful Socialism worked in the old Soviet Union and its puppet states, the Cultural Revolution in China and how it is playing out right now in Venezuela. He joined the Young People's Socialist League (the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party) while in College at the University of Chicago (1960-64) where he received a PolySci degree.

He landed his first steady job at 49 years old when he lucked into being elected as the Mayor of Burlington, VT in 1981, serving a total of four two-year terms. Bernie had been running for various political offices since 1971. After a short attempt at teaching at a pair of colleges, he was elected to the House in 1991, then Senator in 2007. In his Congressional career, he has sponsored 362 bills, of which three became law. One was a COLA adjustment for veterans, the other two were the same bill, one in the House and one in the Senate to rename a Post Office in Fair Haven, VT. This can actually be considered average, as I checked several other Senators, Boxer (sponsored 827, 18 signed into law), Hillary (417/3), and one of my own Senators, Lamar Alexander (167/8).

Bernie's economic plans of "free" almost everything would bankrupt this country even faster than Obama is already trying to. Just because college students would get their degrees for "free" doesn't mean that someone doesn't have to pay those bills. The various levels of government already take 40%+ of our income, to try and pay for the Trillions of dollars of programs he wants to enact would boost our taxes to the 60% (or higher) level.

The MSM has basically ignored Bernie. If he gets coverage at all, it's in the "someone named Bernie Sanders is trying to ruin the coronation of Queen Hillary."

Bottom Line: Bernie has been a leech his entire life. He never held a job of any importance before his political career. He sponged off friends until he got into political life, and has continued to sponge off the People of the United States at various levels for the vast majority of the thirty-five years since then. He is a pacifist who will ruin the country economically and militarily before we are reduced to banana republic status and probably attacked by another country.

Donald Trump

As far as "The Donald" goes, I am not fully in his camp. He sounds like a Republican however I am not fully convinced. I like what he says despite the MSM distortions and half-truths. Example: the MSM says he wants to throw all of the illegal immigrants out of the country. That statement is factually correct. What they don't say is how he would let the immigrants back in under the current immigration laws.

I have a meme that states that had Trump taken his inheritance and safely invested it, he would have several $Billion more in assets than his current net worth. That again, is factually correct. The truth is he risked his fortune and did go broke several times, however he has managed to come back each time. Had he come out on top in all of his deals, he probably would have surpassed Bill Gates in net worth.

While I don't have all of the facts for a lot of his stories, they do have a theme of doing the right thing for the right reasons. From offering free use of his airliners to get troops home after the first Gulf War, to helping veterans get what they need from the VA, he appears to be genuine in his concern for others. I hear little stories about how he has helped others anonymously and refuses any fanfare.

When you truly look at it, The Donald has had Hillary, Bernie, the MSM, all of the other Republicans running for the president and the Republican power structure attacking him from every angle simultaneously. Yet he made it to the top of the heap and unless there is a major sea change in the few remaining primaries, he will be the Republican nominee for president.

The Donald also has one skill that both Hillary and Bernie lack: the experience of having to make a payroll. The economic experience of having a budget to complete a task and having dire consequences if he blows the budget. Hillary and Bernie merely call to raise taxes or borrow on our children's future if they go over budget.

As far as the MSM goes, if they had vetted Obama half as much as they are "vetting" (attacking) Trump, Obama wouldn't have made it to the Oval Office. A couple of days ago, the MSM was all in a panic because Trump "didn't pay any income taxes." Again, that is the truth. The context is, that was back in the 70's and was like two or three returns. Trump was able to exploit the tax laws to his advantage to avoid paying any income taxes. If you have a problem with that, let's go to a flat tax rate for everybody no matter their income. I always thought it was BS when Bill Clinton was buying votes with "targeted tax cuts," which were specific ways to help out those friendly to him. Most people heard the "tax cuts" part, never realizing that regular people could never qualify for them.

Bottom Line: The Donald is a risk taker. I once heard the saying, "A leader can be right or wrong. He must never be indecisive." If you take risks, you will occasionally fail. How you fail and how you recover are the important points. Donald has demonstrated he can bluster, bluff and make a deal. That being said, business is downright polite next to the bloodsport that is politics. Billions of people could die if one of his deals goes bad the wrong way. A single wrong estimation could cause hundreds of nuclear ballistic missiles to be launched against us.

When faced with a choice between these three, I do not like any of them. Hillary and Bernie in the Oval Office would be totally ruinous, just in different ways. Trump is still an unknown to me. He looks good, he sounds good. I still say there is a difference between good, sound ideas and ideas that sound good. There are subconscious alarm bells going off with him. Nothing I can put my finger on right now though.

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Eating their own

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I asked a rhetorical question about why Hillary had over 500 declared superdelegates in this post.

Then, I come across this article explaining why so many superdelegates are openly declaring their support for Hillary so early. The answer is simple, she bought them. I think Democrats actively and aggressively going after their "presumed" presidential candidate.

Daily Koz, an obviously left-leaning website, has this article, How Hundreds of Superdelegates were "bought" by the Clinton Campaign.

You see, these Superdelegates are members of their State Democratic Parties, upon whom they rely for support and funding for re-election. And the money that will be available for those re-election efforts has, in many cases, been provided by Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has provided funds for these candidates through a sophisticated system of money laundering that has allowed the Clinton campaign to funnel billionaire’s donations to State parties in return for their participation in a massive money-laundering payback system to also funnel money to the Clinton campaign itself.

So, just to spell it out and not leave anything to misinterpretation:

So if a Superdelegate whose State voted overwhelmingly for Bernie switched her support to Sanders under the reasoning that she was representing the will of her State, then Clinton’s Campaign COO would shut off the spigot and all that sweet, sweet billionaire cash would stop flowing into the coffers of her State Democratic Party — and the candidate herself.

The qualities of an effective head of state are an interesting mix. You must be personable, diplomatic and likeable, yet ruthless. An empathy for other people, while relentlessly and assertively pursuing the best interests of those whom you represent. The only thing I see in Hillary are the ruthlessness and aggressively pursuing her own private gains at the expense of the people she "serves."

People are going to vote for her simply because she has a vagina and they believe "it's time." They ignore the influence-peddling, bribery, strong-arm tactics that would make the Mafia blush and the large number of "accidental" deaths of people around both her and Bill.

We will be well and truly screwed if she makes it to the Oval Office.

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Why I do not celebrate today

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I have placed this in the Recovery category rather than the Personal category because this is about my recovery. I have not spoken about my issues that led to the creation of this blog in a long time. I think today is the day to break that streak.

Why do we enthusiastically celebrate a child's birthday? Why the swats, with "one to grow on" and the extra candle? Because as late as the 1950's, a significant number of children died young. They died from diseases we have either eliminated totally (Smallpox) or rendered irrelevant through general medical science and vaccines specifically. Diseases like Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio ravaged children back then. Today they are almost unheard of because of vaccines. I am one of the last to be vaccinated against Smallpox. They don't vaccinate against that anymore since it has been eliminated.

Because a child's' next birthday was never guaranteed, we held out hope that the child would live to next year by placing next years candle on this years birthday cake. The same basic concept goes for the "birthday spankings."

Once I reached adulthood, my birthdays never really mattered to me. I was amazed that one day I was considered a child and under the law a non-entity and property of my parents, yet the next morning I was magically an adult, able to enter into contracts, serve my country and be ultimately responsible for myself.

I continue that tradition today, and I'll tell you why.

When Robin Williams died in 2014, a lot of people said, "It is a tragedy he died so young [at age 63]." I regard that he lived until 63 as a miracle. In the 1970's and early 80's (up until his friend John Belushi died), Robin was self-medicating his depression with cocaine and alcohol. If he had completed suicide or overdosed on something like a speedball that took Belushi's life in say, 1981 at the height of Mork & Mindy, that would have been the true tragedy, because we would have lost him 34 years earlier when he was 29. Think of everything he had done after Mork & Mindy, then think those roles would have been performed by other actors or maybe not at all.

During my dark days of 1999-2002, I stood toe-to-toe with Death and got into a staring match with him several times. Each time, I made Death blink first. I could have missed out of all the experiences I have had with my wife and son between then and now or will have with them in the days yet to come. People with a mental illness die on average twenty years sooner than a person who never experiences depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any of the other mental illnesses.

I don't celebrate the anniversary of my birth anymore, because I celebrate every day that I wake up. I thank my God that I am alive and able to get out of bed and move forward each and every day. At this point of my life, because of what I have been through, every day is my birthday.

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Those in power...

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...will do anything to stay in power.

The leadership of both the Republican and Democrat (not democratic; democratic is a process, not a group of people) parties are screwing over their members so that the power structure can decide who their presidential nominee is, rather than the voters.

Make no mistake, I charge both parties with the crime of Being Assholes. The difference between the parties is at least the Republicans stick to the rules they made, good or bad. Republicans pushed through rules changes last Presidential cycle that have come back to haunt them this time around. Trump has won the Republican nomination because he operated within those rules and exploited them to his advantage.

I remember during the 90's, during either the 1992 or 1996 Democrat Conventions, when the various subcommittees would develop "planks" for their parties platform (the parties official position on various stances like abortion) they would state, "This is the position of the party. All in favor say 'Aye', *raps gavel* motion carried." Notice there was no "All opposed say 'Nay' in that.

The same thing basically happened this past weekend in Nevada. A motion was made by the Chair of the Nevada Democrat party, Roberta Lange to perform a delegate recount, which was seconded by a member of her staff. I had to at least read up on Roberts Rules of Order for last year, and the person running the meeting is supposed to be neutral and cannot make motions. It's also "bad form" to have an underling second a motion. Ms. Lange then called for 'Ayes' but not 'Nays,' before rapping the gavel and walking off, leaving armed security to break up the Bernie supporters.

To get back to how the Democrats "fix" is in, the Democrats "superdelegates" are their way of controlling who gets elected to represent the party. Just like when you vote for President, you're not voting for the actual candidate, you're voting for someone who will vote for that candidate in the Electoral College. The presidential primaries run off the same system, you vote for delegates who will attend the convention and are pledged to vote for that candidate on the first ballot only. If there is no winner on the first ballot, these delegates can then vote for whomever they please. The Democrat superdelegate is never bound to a particular candidate and can vote for whomever they want on all ballots. Just as a rhetorical question, why are any superdelegates already "pledged" to a delegate?

As of today, Hillary has 1,716 pledged delegates, while Bernie has 1,443 pledged delegates, for a lead of 273 for Hillary. There are also 564 superdelegates, of which 524 are "for" Hillary and 40 "for" Bernie. As a "what if," if all of "Hillary's" superdelegates were to suddenly change their minds and switch to Bernie, he would have a lead of 281 rather than Hillary's current lead of 767.

The bottom line, the fix is in our national politics, it has been for a long time and until the current power structure is kicked out and replaced, it's going to keep happening.

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A true definition of leader

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I found this video last night and I was really impressed, because Simon Sinek gets it. He understands and clearly conveys what a leader truly is. From an A-10 over Afghanistan, to the chemicals our body produces and why, Simon talks about why we get addicted, or feel good when he help others, or are helped, or even watches one person helping another.

He talks about endorphins, dopamine, seritonins, oxytocin and cortisols, and why they are produced and what they do for us.

The most important thing he talks about is being a leader. Again, he gets it. Alphas eat first, because they are the biggest and strongest of us. Out of those Alphas, the ones who make sure everybody eats and feels safe in the group are leaders. CEOs who unflinchingly sacrifice hundreds of jobs to preserve quarterly earnings (and his annual performance bonus) are not leaders. A cleaning supervisor (head janitor) at such a company, if he truly looks after safety and well being of the people he is responsible for is more of a leader than the CEO.

Leader is a title that cannot be given you by your job or position. It can only be earned by your actions of selflessness and concern for the entire group you belong to, be it your family, the company you work for, the society where you live, your country.

Take heed about why you should talk with someone face-to-face (or over the phone if you can't see them) after they send you an email asking your opinion about something. If we all did things like this, the world would be a better place.

Watch it, you must. Learn and enjoy.

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I am proud to see this

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I heartily congratulate Shades Valley Lodge #829 in Birmingham, Alabama, for on May 5th, 2016, they took a step that I wish Tennessee Masons could or would take.

On that day, they raised Brother Ronald King to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. While they have been integrated for some time, Brother King is the first Black man to go through the degrees in an Alabama Lodge.

During my year as Master of my Lodge, I tried several times to integrate a Lodge that was recognized throughout Tennessee as one of the best Lodges in the state. In 2014, when our Grand Master was from another Memphis Lodge, when he toured the state, he didn't talk about his lodge, he talked about Bartlett #211 as the standard all Lodges should strive for. We could perform all the degrees without the help of visitors (although all parts were offered to visitors first) and we had more Pins of Excellence than any other Lodge in the state. However, each time a Black man visited us, a cold shoulder was given to him.

As Masons, we are taught to judge a man by his internal qualifications (honor, integrity and character) rather than the external (riches, appearance or skin color). To see men denied solely because of their skin color has always upset me. I am glad to see this advancement in Masonry.

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The stupid is strong with this one

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This post is filed under the category, "Duct Tape Alert." Since I haven't used this category in a while, let me repeat what this means: A Duct Tape Alert means that I suggest you wrap your head in duct tape before reading, because when (not if) your head explodes, you will be able to find all of the pieces.

So I find this on the Huffington Post, and I am seriously wondering, "Who ties this guy's shoelaces???"

Justin Curmi has a three part series (so far) on "A Revision of the Bill of Rights." Part I, Part II, Part III and Part III, Questions Unanswered. All I can infer is there will be another seven articles until he has gone through nine of the ten Amendments in the Bill or Rights. I'm thinking he will probably skip the Third Amendment.

Justin misses entirely the purpose of the Constitution, which is a limitation on the scope of a federal government. I do agree that the Preamble sets the tone for the entire document, however he misses the overall point. He also seems to consider the Bill of Rights to be a secondary Constitution, rather than what they are, changes to the scope of original document.

The original Bill of Rights actually consisted of twelve, not ten amendments. The first has never been ratified, it being a plan on how to change the proportions of citizens to representatives as the population of the country grew. In 1911, Congress fixed the number of Representatives at 435. The second amendment ultimately became the 27th Amendment in 1992.

There is a preamble to the Bill of Rights:

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution. [Emphasis mine]

So, the Bill of Rights is a recognition that the rights of Man come from a Higher Power and the government constituted under this document must respect and not infringe upon these Rights. Every word of the Constitution as originally drafted and the Bill of Rights have the sole purpose of clearly defining and restraining the power of the federal government.

So, in Part II he says this:

If there are grievances, the people have the right to peaceably protest and write the government to address the grievance. Thus, the government cannot make a law but if there is a grievance brought to them by the people, they can ban or bar what is causing the grievance.

Again I am asking myself if someone pushes the straw into his drink box for him...

"The government cannot make a law but if there is a grievance brought to them by the people, they can ban or bar what is causing the grievance?" Really? Really? Of course they can make a law. And the various federal agencies can make additional regulations. They make these laws and regulations "public" in the Federal register, which it takes a special breed of person to effectively make their way through that and retain their sanity.

The United States is founded upon three Boxes: the Soap Box (as in the free expression and exchange of ideas and political opinions), the Ballot Box (throw the bums out of office) and the Cartridge Box (armed revolution if the first two don't do the job). If the government makes an unpopular law and the People protest, the government has two choices: either they can amend the law to remove the offending sections or void the law entirely, or tell the People to go screw themselves and start punishing people for violating the law. The People then have the option at the ballot box to vote in people to overturn said bad law, or rise up, overthrow the current power structure and try this experiment in freedom again.

His last paragraph in Part II almost gets it:

If a person is unaware of his or her rights, they will be doomed to laws that establish religions, prevent religious expression, limits free speech and press, and the right for people to protest peaceably. Ultimately ignoring the powers that an individual has, which is a detriment to democracy.

I agree, if the People are unaware of their Rights and Responsibilities, they will be doomed to laws that encroach upon their freedom.

It's Part III that really gets my blood boiling. It's about the Second Amendment. Again, Justin gets it wrong on the most basic level. Oh, sure he gets some of it right, but again, he misses the true intent by attempting to be nuanced.

The Second Amendment exists to recognize the Deity-granted right of citizens to defend themselves and limits the government from limiting that Right. It doesn't matter if the attacker is a local criminal or the federal government. That weapon is the power of the citizen to put an exclamation point to the word "No!"

Justin also does not grasp the basic concept of what exactly a "trial" is. In this instance, a trial is a legal process where another citizen or the state makes an accusation that another citizen has violated a law of the land. During this process, the accuser (the government) shows what law was broken and why the accuser believes the accused is the one to have committed the act. There are standards that the accuser has to meet, as far as the integrity of the investigators and the facts used to show the accused actually committed said offense. When we say "fair trial," we intend that the accuser must prove guilt, not the accused must show he did not commit the offense. If the accused must show innocence, this would be like standing outside on a sunny day at Noon, then trying to prove at that moment that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. You can't do it.

If a criminal just so happens to select an armed citizen as their next victim and the criminal becomes dead in the process of unlawfully imposing their will on the victim, that was the criminals fair trial. I am 100% sure that if the criminal had not performed the act, the citizen would not have forced the criminal to assume ambient temperature. As Baretta said, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

In Part III, Questions Unanswered, Our boy Justin gets it totally wrong, again. He questions the fair trial concept in the Fifth Amendment and fails to comprehend at any level what it means.

The appropriate part of the Fifth Amendment Justin is not understanding is:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;

In order to stand trial for a capital crime (generally felonies), the accuser (district attorney) must present their evidence to a Grand Jury, who will either approve or "no-bill" the charges. The accused nor the defense team is present at these proceedings. This is purely to determine if enough evidence exists to possibly prove the guilt of the accused. If someone is in the military under active duty status, they do not get the Grand Jury step of the process. An officer on the field of battle can summarily execute a soldier under their command right then and there for something like Cowardice Before the Enemy, desertion of his post or a similar offense that could result in the entire unit getting killed.

It is plain to me that Justin does not understand the concepts he is talking about. His views are so contorted and convoluted I have no frame of reference to truly comprehend this mans ignorance.

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Another Major Life Change

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Last week, I received an unexpected call from my supervisor to come over and see him. I immediately made the 10 minute transit to his office to see what was up.

He was reluctant to give me the bad news I had actually been expecting for a while. You see, I was hired to my current job to develop and maintain the company website and manage the social media. The social media side didn't work out (a long story that I'm not going to get into) and I have brought the website to fruition and it is currently in "maintenance mode." At the last Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that my position be curtailed to the hours necessary to maintain the website. I am being cut back from 40 hours a week to 8.

As my supervisor sadly relayed this information to me, his assessment of my was confirmed beyond all doubt.

Like I said, I had been expecting this for a while. After the initial shock had passed, my first question was, "Is there anything I can do for the company that will allow me to keep my hours up?"

I subscribe to a cycle that everyone goes through many times a day. Something happens to you. That event produces a feeling inside of you. You assign a thought to that feeling, then you make a decision on how to act based on that thought before you actually react to what happened to you. Many people run through that entire cycle without pause. They let the most important part of that cycle go by without consideration. Because you can control everything after the feeling. You can pause that cycle to actively consider and choose the thought, decision and action you take based on that feeling. Or you can "knee-jerk" (reflexively) act.

Most people would be shocked and scared to know they are taking an 80% pay cut. Many people would have an angry or belligerent response. My response was to see what I can do different to help the company.

My supervisor, Cordell Walker is a man of great personal integrity and character. I have known him for years and he became my friend long before he was my supervisor. How he carries himself gives you the impression that he is like a granite obelisk. Tall, solid and unshakeable. He gave his honest assessment of me, stating he was pretty sure that would be my response to the news. He is impressed every day with my professionalism, demeanor and outlook on my job and my life. He knows and supports my first objective, the financial security and stability of my family.

With friends like him, I cannot fail.

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The religion of hate

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The religions of man are many. The various methods of expressing worship of the Deity are almost too many to count. As with all religions, there are two basic methods all religions use to recruit their members: coercion and inspiration.

Coercion takes many forms and methods and are all based on the lack of choice. Instilling the moral teachings of a religion in a child is not a bad thing and can be considered a mild form of coercion. That being said, a child does not have the learning or reasoning capacity to make such choices. A more intense form is to browbeat one emotionally and/or intellectually into believing as another. The worst method is the choice of either convert or die.

Inspiration by example is a much better way to obtain believers. But who is counting? Just because one method of worship has a billion followers and another having only ten followers does not put one of those religions over the other.

Once a person becomes truly self-aware, their spiritual quest may lead them to stay with what they know, or lead them through many different religions before they find their spiritual peace. The most important point is each person be allowed to make this journey for their own benefit.

This has been said many times before in many ways, "If your religion leads to hate others, you're in the wrong religion." Those who forcefully exclude others who do not believe in the same way actually hurt themselves, because it is by exposure to other beliefs and pools of knowledge we might come to a better understanding or modification of our own beliefs.

And just so I am perfectly clear, I see coercion of others in Christian, Muslim and most other religions as well. I am disgusted with people who use religion as a weapon. Religion and the love of Deity is supposed to be a unification of Mankind, not a violent separator. I am not naive, I know more people have died in the enforcement of one religion upon another than from any other cause. This enforcement of religion gave us that wonderful phrase, Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. "Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own."

When I mean "unification," I mean that all should worship the Deity as they see Him, or Her, or Them. That they worship is much more important as how they do so.

Forcing all of Mankind into one religion would be like everyone having the same make and model of automobile. Imagine how well things would work if every person of legal driving age was given a Smart Car and only a Smart Car. You know, the two-seat car that's not too much bigger than a roller skate? While this would work fine for young, single people, or those who only transport themselves inside the city where they live, what about the couple that has five children? Or those who haul cargo long distances? Or the traveling workman who must carry his tools and materials long distances? This variety of transportation needs is why we have Smart Cars, Minivans, Tractor-Trailers and vans of all shapes and sizes. One type of car is not good for most people throughout the span of their life. Why should a much more important aspect of a persons life, their religion, be any less flexible? Would it not be better for a person to visit, observe, learn about and try other ways of worshiping Deity so they find what suits them?

I have many people in my life who do not worship as I do. And you know what? I am glad they worship as they see fit. My personal agreement for or against their religion is totally irrelevant. If I see friend A try to force their religious beliefs on friend B, who believes differently, I will step in and protect B from A. That goes equally as well of B were trying for force A, I would protect A from B.

Think about that. Think about what I have said before you start saying, "My God, the God of Love and Peace tells me to hate and destroy those who do not believe as I do!"

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The war on work

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I admire Mike Rowe. He is a rare breed of man. He is not afraid to get dirty. He is a champion for skilled labor. He laments about the crumbling infrastructure, then points to all of the young people who want to go to college. These young people come out of college, unprepared for real work because they have a degree in Comparative Icelandic Literature and zero practical skills. He is doing the Lords work, through his mikeroweWORKS website where he helps people learn skilled work. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and all of the other good-paying skilled labor that would fix our infrastructure problems.

Here he is at a TED talk discussing this. The first 2/3rds is him waxing anecdotally about castrating sheep with his teeth (mentioning anagnorisis and peripeteia along the way) and being on a crab boat in 50 foot seas. The important part starts about 15:00 into the video.



As long as all of us look with disdain upon the skilled worker as some type of Morlock, this situation of empty factories and crumbling infrastructure will only get worse. The large, publicly traded companies who only have their eyes on beating next quarters' stock dividend predictions can include themselves in the blame for this predicament we are in. Many of our skilled labor jobs will change as things progress. There are many types of jobs that no longer exist and there are many jobs that no one could have conceived 30 years ago. However there are still many skilled labor positions that will be around for a long time to come.

It is time we laud their efforts and encourage young people to pursue the skilled trades.

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I will no longer sacrifice my Character

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Before anything is said, I am not a representative of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, nor any of the Masonic Lodges I belong to. I am speaking only for myself.

Unless you have been under a rock the past couple of months, you probably heard about two Tennessee Masons who got married in a same-sex marriage after Obergefell v. Hodges was decided by the Supreme Court (my thoughts on that decision are here) and posted that event on social media. They were consequently suspended from the fraternity for a year.

I realize I do not know all of the particulars pertaining to the facts of this issue. I have read and heard what the Grand Lodge (which I will abbreviate as GL from here on out) has said about this issue. I have received information from the suspended brothers and I have spoken with brothers from the lodge where they are members. I realize I will never know all of the facts and quite frankly, I don't want to know all of them. It's none of my business.

During our GL Annual Communication held in March 2016, there were several proposals to change sections of our code to address issues like this. The code proposals were properly submitted, discussed and voted upon by the members of the GL. I, as a Past Master and member of the GL, was there when the discussions were held and the votes cast. The membership of the GL consists of the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens of all lodges and all men who have served and completed their year as Master, who are called Past Masters.

I am not going to second-guess the Grand Master of Masons of the State of Tennessee, nor am I going to criticize him for the decisions, judgements or rulings of him or his appointees in this matter. It is not my place to do so, and in order for me to do it properly, I would need the facts of the matter, which I just said I do not have, I never will have and would not want them in the first place.

This post is not about any of that.

Before I begin talking about this situation, I have to "set the table" so everyone has a clear understanding of the context where this situation has come about and why I am doing this.

The Masons are a fraternity that has been around in its present form since 1717. We trace our history all the way back to the stonemasons who built King Solomon's Temple. We use metaphors and allegory to inculcate (teach) certain moral principles and duties we owe to each other and all mankind. Our only requirements to join are that you be a male of legal adult age and believe in a Supreme Being. Who that Supreme Being is exactly, we don't care. The Masons only care that you want to better yourself, morally and spiritually. We embrace men of every county, religious sect and opinion.

Masons are taught that each man takes his own path toward enlightenment. We are taught and reminded that there is no "wrong" or "right" way to interpret the symbols and allegories used to inculcate our lessons. What a particular symbol or allegory means to one Mason can be very similar or totally different to what it means to the brother sitting next to him. We freely discuss what these mean to us personally without trying to force our view on our brother. As I like to say, we travel "individually together" in our journey for enlightenment.

We are constantly reminded that we should be in harmony with each other and support, protect and aid all mankind, especially our brothers. There are no qualifiers in this obligation other than we must take care of ourselves and families before we can help anyone else. This is what I was taught when I became a Mason and it is in agreement with how I have tried to live my life before I became a Mason. Subjects such as religion and politics are considered divisive and are specifically not discussed in lodge.

Above all this, we are taught to regard our honor, integrity and character as second only to our love and devotion to our Supreme Being. A man without these traits is to be avoided.

Now that the table is set, let's sit down and break this bitter, unleavened bread.

What I am very angry about is how the situation has been handled. I am angry that this situation is going to have very long-range repercussions on this fraternity. Most of all, I am angry over the choice I have been forced to make about this situation. I should have spoken out on this several months ago. The cost to hold my silence has been great and the cost I will likely have to pay as a consequence of speaking out will also be great.

What I am going to criticize is the fact that I and every other Mason in the State of Tennessee have been ordered to remain quiet on this issue in public, especially on social media. No comments for or against, no "likes" of any related topic or anything. The Grand Master's words were:

Brethren, this Masonic matter is to be handled by the GL of Tennessee within the State of Tennessee and any further unauthorized discussion on this matter outside of the Tennessee Masonic fraternity will be considered a Masonic offense and will be dealt with accordingly.

Those who speak out are to be brought up on Masonic Charges. If found guilty, those who violate this order could be suspended or even expelled from the Fraternity. This Grand Master is now out of office, as the Grand Master's term ends at the close of the Annual Communcation. I am unaware of any renewal of that edict by the new Grand Master.

I remained silent because I wished to speak on this subject during the Annual Communication, which I did. This enforced silence was painful for me, because I wanted to voice my views on this subject. I believed I compromised my honor, integrity and character by my silence. I will not repeat this error.

Even though there is no official edict forcing my silence, the possible consequences of this post making its way across the Internet are these:

  • Nothing. The GL of Tennessee doesn't find out about this post, or decides to take no action. (.000001% chance of that happening)
  • I am charged with a Masonic offense, tried, found guilty and suspended for a certain term from the Masons. During my suspension I cannot attend visit a lodge except for public events. I cannot speak about any Masonic subject with a brother during that time. Any lodge who lets me visit or brother who supports me would suffer a similar fate. (Most likely)
  • I am expelled from the fraternity entirely. I can never attend or join another regular Masonic lodge for the rest of my life. (Possible, not probable)
  • Absolutely nothing. This is different than the first possibility, but far worse than even being expelled. I have aspirations of advancing in the GL hierarchy (District Chairman, Grand Lecturer or something similar) and/or obtaining my Pin of Excellence. I would like to be considered for positions of authority in the several appendant bodies I belong to. With this possibility, all of these would vanish. I would be an equivalent to "that Ensign" that spills coffee on the Admiral and finds himself permanently stationed in Alaska until he resigns or retires, never advancing in rank past Ensign. (90+% chance of this in any case except expulsion)

While I understand how and why this fraternity has responded (generally with silence) to such incidents in the past, this kind of response is no longer a viable option. In the "Old Days," an incident like this would likely remain a local issue, and never venture beyond the city or county borders. Today, all it takes is one blogger to say something, or someone posts the news channel video to YouTube or Facebook and suddenly a lot more people know about this issue. When this happens, a large number of people now know that this happened, with very few of the facts of the matter with none of the context. Silence and stonewalling is not an appropriate response to situations like this anymore. Misinformation has to be fought with correct information.

There are people out there who upon seeing the words "Gays Suspended from the Masons in Tennessee" together go off on a tirade "OMG-WTF-SMH-SJW" and all the rest. Those people cannot be reached nor convinced of anything beyond what they have already made their mind up about. The good news is there are enough people who want context and more information before they decide. Those people understand that there is more than one side and there are multiple forces in play. Those are the people you need to reach.

The current consequences of the enforcement of this Tennessee Masonic Code has been the GL’s of California and the District of Columbia have suspended recognition of the GL of Tennessee. The GL of Belgium was waiting for what came of our Annual Communication before making a decision. A suspension of recognition means I cannot travel to these areas and sit in lodges there. Other GL's have spanned the spectrum from fully supporting the GL of Tennessee, respecting our decision but not agreeing with it, to no comment.

No one really knows the future. My experience convinces me that this issue is forcing religion and politics into every lodge where it does not belong. This will affect every lodge across the United States, if not the world. Our membership has been declining worldwide for years and this decision can only accelerate that decline. Every organization needs young people to join and remain members if it is to survive and grow. Young men across this country who do not share this mindset will regard the Masons as an organization they wish to have no part of, because of the decisions of the GL's of Tennessee and Georgia.

More GL's may also decide to suspend recognition of the GL of Tennessee. This will lead to a patchwork of recognition and confusion.

What makes this worse is that it is very difficult to change this from within, because if you can become an officer of a lodge, it generally takes 4-6 years from when you "join the line" until you become the Master of the lodge. It will take 15-20 years minimum to be able to change the direction of the GL, as the older and more stalwart members have to die off to negate their votes and views.

I weep for this fraternity. I am a third-generation Mason, as my father, his father and two of my great-grandfathers were Masons before me. It saddens me beyond words to see and experience this divisiveness in an institution meant to unite men of every country, sect and opinion.

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Pranks are not nice

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People who prank others are bullies that are in denial about being bullies. I understand that there are shades to this. My standard to this is, if you are actively interfering with the actions of another as they go through their life, even if you are just "having fun," you are bullying others.

This is a case in point. The audio is NSFW.

This bully decided to modify his R/C car with the intent of moving golf balls on the nearby green. This guy actively planned and worked to negatively impact other peoples day.

One of the golfers that was bullied decided to do something about it. He took his golf club and gave a whack to said R/C car, seriously damaging it. At this point the bully rushes out to save his car and is genuinely angry about his victim not acting like a victim and destroying the R/C car. The bully and his cameraman also almost get their ass kicked by the golfers.

I see this as a simple situation. If the bully didn't send his car to bother those golfers, I am 100% sure his R/C car wouldn't have been destroyed by the golfers.

We are never going to get rid of bullies. That personality type is part of the human condition. There will always be people who are insecure about an aspect of their life and use bullying others they think are inferior to them to improve their internal self-worth. When I grew up, bullies were eventually taught that their actions became personally expensive. Either by a destruction of their things, or they were beat down. Once the bully received the "training" that being a bully had short-term emotional gains that led to a more expensive results from the people who grew tired from being picked on, they generally stopped being bullies.

All it took is them realizing that the "expenses" of being a bully is more than the "income" from being said bully.

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Bad Mindsets

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I found a video from the CBS affiliate in Miami. I can't post it because Joomla doesn't support that video player. The article I found about it is here. It relates how a teen was shot and killed after he burglarized a home. The video discussed several points that raised my suspicions about the shooting. Not knowing all of the circumstances of the event and Florida law, I am going to refrain from commenting on it.

What I am going to discuss is the comments made by the burglar's cousin:

"I don't care if she have her gun license or any of that. That is way beyond law... way beyond. He was not supposed to die like this. He had a future ahead of him. Trevon had goals... he was a funny guy, very big on education, loved learning.

You have to look at it from every child's point of view that was raised in the hood. You have to understand... how he gonna get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point of view."

Umm, young lady, perhaps his parent(s) could purchase the clothes for him? How about he could get a legal job to earn the money?

This mindset that some people are entitled to the property of others (both in hoodlums and politicians) has to stop. If you engage in the actions of entering another persons space, be it their home or personal space, with the intent of depriving the other person of their possessions, you should fully expect to wind up seriously injured or dead. That should be the regular outcome, rather than the exception.

Before we had police, if you stole from another and got caught, you could fully expect a serious ass-whuppin' at a minimum. In Islamic cultures, they cut your hand off. While jail or prison today is by far from a pleasant place to be, for some people it's an upgrade in living standards. Punishment for violating the laws is supposed to be an incentive to not repeat those bad acts.

I don't know if Trevon was going to grow up to be a world-renowned surgeon, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, or even President of the United States. We will never know now that he has assumed ambient temperature. That being said, based on what caused his death (if he had survived) I think his most likely outcome would have been a life of crime, interspersed with stints in prison before dying in his 20's, either being killed by another criminal in a "deal-gone-bad" or by an armed citizen protecting their property.

Ronald Reagan said, "History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap." This can be translated in this case to "History teaches criminals that they can commit crimes with impunity when the price of punishment is cheap." I don't know if Trevon had a police record, but I think it's a safe bet that was not his first burglary nor petty crime.

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