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Are you an American?

I came across this the other day on FB, in one of the pages I frequent. I provide the post here, edited slightly for clarity. Read it, then read it again.

Collectivism is never about the Collective.

A month or so ago I joined a Facebook group. I learned after a short time that the admin of the group had left, and it was more or less a free for all. Cretins were posting porn (really nasty porn) scams, ads and pretty much anything regardless of the intended topic of the group. However, the group members, still numbering almost 50,000, did nothing but complain.

So, I took it upon myself to begin reporting the porn each day (FB seems to take porn almost a seriously as it does political thought it disagrees with) and within a week it had almost vanished, those posting it giving up, to annoy other groups. But still the group members complained. I pointed out that, collectively, we as members, could report the scams and off-topic spam and if enough people agreed, the FB bots would remove them, admin or not.

The response?... crickets.

The group members were entirely passive to whatever was given to them and had no interest in working collectively to modify the environment they had voluntarily subjected themselves to.That is human nature.First century Roman historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus once said, "Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master."Thus the foundation of all politics. A few desire to actively control and shape society while the rest whine for more bread and circuses. Good leaders promise discipline and hard work, and deliver prosperity. Evil leaders promise the bread and circuses and deliver slavery.Most people listen only to the promises and thus remain slaves.As I’ve said repeatedly, politics boils down to one of two core political ideologies: Collectivism and Individualism.The Individualists wants the freedom to determine his own life, future, wealth, safety and prosperity.The Collectivist (followers) are—as Sallust put it— concerned about a “just master”.However, the Collectivist leaders see the Collectivist followers as cattle to be herded, sheared, milked and exploited for the pleasure and prosperity of the Elite leadership. It’s never about the Collective to them, but about what they can squeeze out of the Collective for themselves.It only takes a while dealing with the Sheep to understand why, even initially-good-intentioned men, will often give up trying to better the environment and simply exploit the Sheep.

I have brought this here to make a point. It is ideas and concepts like this that lead to the creation of the United States and America. Not ‘The United States of America,’ rather AND.

It has been my point for years that being a citizen of the United States and being an American are two separate things. While millions of people are both, there are millions more that are only one. Being a Citizen of the United States merely entails being born within the borders of one of the fifty States of America, or one of the Territories claimed by the United States. You can be a Citizen by being born of two US Citizens outside of the US, or you can be a foreign national and go through the naturalization process set forth in the US Code.

Being an American is not decided by where you were born. It is decided within your heart. A need you can’t quite put into words, the closest you can describe it as a yearning to be free and to choose your own path in life, without an overbearing government micromanaging you. Americans are born every day across the globe. This is why these United States have immigrants from every other country in the world. People who shut themselves into cargo containers for two months to cross the ocean. Who cross miles of open sea in vessels that would have a rough time in a kiddie pool. Who walk across miles of open desert. These people risk their lives to do this. A third of girls and women are sexually abused at least once during such journeys. Or whose overloaded boats sank at sea with no one else in sight. Or those who bake to death in a trailer abandoned by the human traffickers when the air conditioner fails and it’s 100 degrees outside.

There must be something special in this place, not found anywhere else that inspires people to risk their lives to come here.

This sign sums it up pretty well. Read this one out load several times. If you can read this without choking up, a tear rolling down your face or your soul soaring, then I’m going to be pretty sure you’re not an American.

Americans Creed no meme
This is what has happened in the United States. Those in power have treated us all like sheep, not realizing that most people want to go on with their lives as they see fit and not be bothered.

“You go do whatever you want and leave me out of your beliefs and problems.” And yet, this is the one thing Leftists cannot do. They are so inherently insecure about themselves and their choices that they need not only acceptance, but enthusiastic validation.

And the real Americans are reaching the end of their patience. Both of my parents were WWII veterans. Dad was Navy, Mom was Army Air Corps. They told me about that Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941. How they felt and how everyone developed a slow, burning anger and a firm resolve to settle that issue once and for all.

I am seeing the smoldering anger in more and more people, the “Don’t make me get up out of this chair” attitude and resolve the issue once and for all, so they can be left alone.

The Japanese were taught that lesson. The Leftists are getting close to getting that same lesson applied to them. A good, solid, hard and long beat-down that their grandchildren will feel.

You have been warned.

What a week!

My apologies for missing last week, I was out of town for a training and just got back that Saturday.

I have multiple articles on the hook, or in the queue, and real life keeps throwing me curve balls. Those I can handle, but the knuckleball I got on Thursday was a bit harder. We were hit with an ice storm (rain during freezing temperatures, trees and everything gets a coat of ice) overnight on Groundhog Day. Thursday the power went out, and as of Monday, as I write this, it's still out.

Which brings me to my point: I have several articles on preparedness (aka "Prepping") and I never had the time to set up a section and banner for it, but that's my top priority as of now.

I was mostly prepared for this outage. The only thing I lacked was a generator. Well, I have one now. Luckily the utility gas hasn't stopped, so all I needed to do was have enough of a generator to power the furnace. I have a propane heater that can keep a single room warm and enough propane to keep it going for over a week. The family and pets were hunkered down in there until I got things working again. It took two trips to towns outside the affected area (450 miles total) to first get a too-small generator (the last one they had) and then get one adequate for my needs.

So right now we are warm, and the family has their computers and Internet to keep them entertained. The refrigerators and stove are working, but the microwave is not. We are using headlamps at night, thankfully we have lots of batteries for them. The next outage I will be able to run lights and the essential stuff as well. I just have to do the work to know amperage and the what and how to "backfill" the house with power but not to energize the external lines. There will be an article on that.

Third best day of my life

Just to give you a scale for this, the best day of my life was when my Beautiful Blushing Bride said, "I Do." The second best day was wen my son was born.

So, I got permanently banned from Facebook two days ago. I was responding to a meme in a group that the purpose of was to push the limits of propriety and bad taste. I actually used a meme that I had posted on my personal feed and FB didn't bat an eye. My response was the straw that broke the camel's back and the group was shut down.

Here's the offending meme:

Selling my nudes

To be truthful, I could appeal, but I've wrote about the difference between a platform or a publisher before, and I'm tired of expressing myself on a publisher without getting paid. My ban isn't permanent until 1/14/22. However, in order to return I must first prostate myself before their nearly omnipotent Philosopher-Kings and beg for their favor to let me return to that reached hive of scum and villainy. Let me think about it, no. Also, this ban happened while I was appealing the group ban. Here's what I sent to their "Oversight Board."

Oversight Board Final

So, I will now recover the several hours a week I previously spent discussing and arguing various points on FB. I'm sure I'll live, I've lived for several decades before FB came around without social media. I haven't forgotten.

Happy Independence Day

I refuse to celebrate the 4th of July. I am proud to celebrate Independence Day.

Today, July 2nd, was the day that the Declaration was actually signed by the fifty-six brave men who affixed their signatures to this Declaration. As Ben Franklin put it so eloquently, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Nine men did not live to hear of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. Many others lost their families and fortunes. So they fulfilled the last part of this Declaration:

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

If you have never actually read the Declaration, listen to this. It will be the most impactful 15 minutes of your life.


Spread This Word

If you haven't read my posts from the start of this blog, I was a Mental Health Counselor for several years. I dealt with people who were in terrible situations, some caused by their own malfunctioning biology, some by external events.

Some of the saddest cases I dealt with were those who engaged in "non-fatal self-injury" known by most people as "cutting." While the reasons that cause this coping skill are different for each person, the reasons why are either the person feels emotionally numb and need to feel something, even pain, or they do it to convince themselves they have control over their body because they are in an untenable situation they have zero control over.

If you know of or find someone who engages in this behavior, NEVER NEVER NEVER try to get them (by whatever means) to stop that behavior. This is their "mental steam valve" and if you take this away from them, while this behavior is not good, worse things will happen. Cutting is a symptom and coping mechanism for a far deeper and serious issue.

I became overjoyed to have this article brought to my attention by a friend: This Girl’s Therapist Suggested Drawing On Her Body Instead of Cutting, And It Worked Beautifully. This is a great solution to the cutting symptom and why you shouldn't try to stop someone from using a coping skill (even a negative coping skill) You redirect the behavior into a positive skill. This redirection allows the person who continue to engage in their coping skill without doing further harm to themselves. The article at the bottom even gives drawing tips, hint and ideas on what and how to draw.

This won't work in all cases, however coping skills redirected from a negative to a positive skill provides the needed coping and redirects it into an empowering direction. Once the self-harm is stopped, help the person to address the reasons for the self-injury.

I don't celebrate the 4th of July

We celebrate New Years Day, MLK Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Patriots Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the 4th of July. I don't celebrate the 4th of July, because I could just as easily celebrate the 3rd of August. A date by itself does not communicate the reason why that date is important. So, while I do not celebrate the 4th of July, I do celebrate Independence day.

It was actually today, July 2nd, not July 4th, that 56 Radical Old Rich White Angry Men put their names to a piece of parchment that explained to their King why they were telling him to fuck off. The last words of that document explained quite clearly the price each man was willing to pay to grant the 13 American Colonies the freedom they desired.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Many of those men paid that price and more. They died, lost their fortunes, their families and sometimes more. I have to ask you, would you be willing to do the same as these men did?

Here I present you a reading of the Declaration of Independence, read by a variety of famous people. If you are unmoved by this, then you don't desire to be free.

Quick update

Sorry for no post last week and this week's post being delayed. I have had a lot going on lately and none of it has been good. I have been working on something that is long and requires a lot of fact-gathering. It should be up later in the week.


I just put in 40 hours of work since Friday. And it's only my Wednesday (I work until Wednesday of this week). Needless to day, I'm tired and didn't have time to research and write anything.

Hey Dad, I miss you bad

Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the passing of my Dad. It was a Sunday morning, I was in the hospital, he was in Hospice at my Sister's. I wanted to talk with him one last time when my nephew told me he had passed in the night. From the time I left home in 1979, my parents and I talked by phone at least once a week. It didn't matter if I was in Illinois, California, Hawaii, Japan or Guam.

My Dad was many things in his life. I know he was proud of me for joining the Navy to be a Sailor like him. I sure he would have been proud of me when I became a Master Mason, then Worshipful Master.

There is a whole lot more that I wanted to tell you about my Dad, but I can't. The tears won't let me see the screen. This pretty much describes how I feel about my Dad.

I Stand For These Ideals

A rather heated discussion in another corner of the Internet has caused me to put these words to paper, as it were for all there to see. I thought it would be a good idea to post them here as well. I have also saved this to my Personal section.

I STAND FOR FREEDOM OF CHOICE. You should be the ultimate decision-maker for your life. This includes the freedom to choose stupidly. Do not limit my choices or force your choices on me without my permission.

I STAND FOR FREEDOM OF VOICE. What you say should never be stifled or silenced, no matter how unpopular or uncomfortable what you say is for others. The exceptions to this are slander, inciting violence, child p0rn and the like. I have the freedom to listen or not. Don’t make that choice for me. I also expect that if I call for a person to be silenced, I will be silenced in turn.

I STAND FOR FREEDOM OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. If you go and do something, always be prepared to face the consequences, good or bad. Do not prevent my negative consequences from happening to me. This is how most of us learn.

I STAND FOR A PERSON TO BE AFFORDED A BASIC LEVEL OF RESPECT AND DIGNITY. Everyone we meet deserves this basic and common courtesy. Your respect for them and their dignity can always go up based on their actions, however even if you despise another person, if you must interact with them, still grant them a basic level of respect and dignity. It says way more about you than them.

I STAND FOR A PERSON TO BE TAKEN AT THEIR WORD. I will believe what you say until proven otherwise, which goes for both sides. An accusation is equally offset by a denial. This balance can be changed one way or the other by evidence or corroboration.

I STAND FOR YOU TO HAVE THE FREEDOM TO BE WHO YOU ARE. I don’t care about your sex, gender, skin color, sexual/gender preference, height, weight, religion or lack thereof. I am attracted to your soul, not your meat sack. Be nice to me, you’ll get the same in return from me.

I STAND FOR MINIMAL GOVERNMENT. It is a simple and clear power balance between the people of a country and their government. The more power the government has, the less power the people will have. We need government because there are certain things and duties a government can do that an individual or group cannot. There is too much government when it adversely affects all our lives.

I STAND FOR ALL TO BE EQUAL UNDER THE LAW. No person should ever be afraid to seek justice under the law. Those in the law should never deter those who seek justice. All people have been wronged must have the opportunity to prove and seek damages from those who wronged them.

I STAND FOR SUPPORTING POSITIONS, NOT PARTIES. I do not praise or condemn someone based on their party or ideology. I praise or condemn them based on their words and actions. And I can and do praise and condemn the same person on different subjects.

These are my core principles. It has taken years of careful and introspective thought, study and meditation to arrive at them. They will not change. There is no use to even try.

Do I fail at these? Every day. I am not afraid to admit it. But I would rather have standards that with my maximum effort I almost achieve, than those standards I can achieve and do not have to exert myself. Sometimes I come out on the short end of the stick, I do not change them to suit my situation.

I am perfectly willing to discuss the finer points of my core principles and how they can be enacted for the betterment of all. If we discuss it with politeness and respect, we might find out that we agree more than we disagree. I can also agree to disagree.

If you want to call me wrong, insensitive, stupid or worse, do us both a favor, don’t say it and don't visit here anymore. If you do say it, I’ll block you so you can't. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings either way.

In the end, if you want to post about why I’m wrong, write to yourself “I STAND AGAINST” where I say “I STAND FOR” and then the subject. Then think about it before you post. Do really want to say “I stand against freedom of choice” and the rest?

People can change

Everyone (should be) familiar with MLK's Mountaintop speech he gave the night before he was assassinated. The phrase where he said "he hopes one day we judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his 1963 book Strength to Love:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

With this in mind, I am happy to bring this article to you: White Nationalist, KKK Member Who Marched in Charlottesville Baptized by Those He Once Hated.

Ken Parker, who was part of the White Nationalists at the Charlottesville rally, was interviewed by Deeyah Kahn, a Black woman and a documentary filmmaker at the rally. Kahn listened intently and treated Parker and his views respectfully, and treated him kindly when he developed heat exhaustion. This simple act started Parker on the road to question his hate.

Some months later, Parker approached a group of Blacks having a cookout near Parker's home. He and his girlfriend walked over and started talking with them. A couple months after that, after more such conversations, Parker was giving testimony and asking for forgiveness from the members of the All Saints Holiness Church. During his testimony, he said this:

"I said I was a grand dragon [recruiter] of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi..."

Parker then went on to join this church and become baptized in it. He then went through the painful process to have his Klan and Nazi tattoos removed.

This proves that if you want to win people to your cause, you do it by being the kind of person and leading the kind of life that others want to emulate. You don't draw people to your cause by calling them vile things or threatening violence. You meet them where they are, reach out to them and maybe when they are ready they will follow you.

My personal philosophy is to leave every person I encounter better than how I left them. I always try to show kindness, politeness and consideration, especially when I am furious at someone or something. I always have a Markism on my tongue to make the other person smile as well. I believe that if we all did this in every personal interaction, the world would be a better place. I ask that you do the same.

Watch out for this kid

Last week, I attended a CPAC365 forum sponsored by The American Conservative Union. It was very interesting, I got to see HUD Secretary Ben Carson speak and I almost got to interact with Art Laffer (of the Laffer Curve), however it seems he wrenched his back (he’s 80) and could not make the flight.

Someone I did meet was an 11-year-old young man who was covering the event like a reporter and was also interviewing people. His dad is his cameraman and driver, as they have traveled over 50,000 miles doing this since he was eight. His website is Phoenix Rising in America. I admire this young man because he was able to articulate what he wanted to do to his parents to a level that his dad left his job to pursue and help him in his quest. I wish him and his family all the best.

As a personal note, my son was a bit younger than this young man when I developed my mental health issues. My son showed similar potential in his own areas, however my illness cut off his promise because I was not there for my son and I have regretted that loss every day since. I try to help my now adult son, but that weight of his lost potential is a heavy albatross around my neck every day.

Happy Independence Day!

This is one of those things that need to be said every year.

I don't celebrate the 4th of July, because I don't know what is special about that date. If we celebrate the 4th of July, why don't we celebrate the 24th of August? We celebrate New Years Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. So it sticks out as a sore thumb to me as to why we celebrate July 4th and not Independence Day.

To know the history of the world, not just the United States gives you the true context and the deep significance of Independence Day. On July 4th, 1776 AD, there were several dozen countries in the world, most if not all some kind of Oligarchical Monarchy. Just to be clear, an "Oligarchical Monarchy" pertains to a monarch (King or Queen) that more or less ruled with the permission of the powerful people (lords and other nobility) of that country. The 13 colonies in America was the first time in all of recorded history that a colony had successfully fought it's way to independence from the mother country. While many other countries have been liberated from control of their mother country since then, the vast majority of these separations were with the permission of the mother country.

The men who started and led this insurrection knew that if they did not triumph in this fight for independence, those who survived the battlefield would be hung as traitors. Not a quick or elegant way to go in those times. You were not dropped in such a way as to break your neck making the death quick, you were hoisted upwards and left to strangle, slowly.

Through the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, our Founding Fathers codified a government that is ruled by the People, not the People ruled by the government. That concept was totally absurd at the time. I seriously think that kind of independence is the kind to celebrate by calling it for what it is, not just by the date.

Do not, under any circumstances wish me a "Happy 4th of July." However I will happily celebrate with you the Independence Day of the United States.

Why there is pain and suffering

I kid you not, from God Himself on why there is pain and suffering in the world:

This clip has stuck with me since I saw this movie, Oh, God! Book II in 1980. Please, carry this with you throughout your life when you experience bad times, pain and suffering. Without these to compare against, how can our happy times truly be happy?


Baby in the house!

Baby chick, that is.

I have owned a pair of Sun Conures since 2001, which means they predate this blog which was started in 2003. Rocket was the first one I bought, whom I took pity on. Rocket shared a tree perch with a Macaw at the breeders home and the Macaw didn't like Rocket, so the Macaw nipped 3 of 4 toes off one foot. Corky, short for Corkscrew (a type of model rocket) followed a couple of months later.


They are about half way through their life span, and I never bothered to have their sex determined, which involves plucking a blood feather and sending it off for DNA analysis. If you have ever talked with me on the phone while I was home, you have heard them. They are loud, squawk a lot, and are very affectionate.

Almost a year ago, they discovered that they are a pair and started having sex. Corky is male, Rocket is the female. Eggs followed shortly there after. I built them a nest box, which they have chewed the lip (to keep things from rolling out) and the top off of it. I wasn't too concerned about egg viability because they were probably not fertile because of their age.


Thursday night, we started hearing a very soft "peep, peep" coming from their cage. Lo and behold, a little baby Conure chick was there, freshly hatched. Panic mode ensues, hay was added to the cage and chick supplies were quickly researched and to be purchased in the morning.

Why you should do the right thing

I have long said you should do the right thing for the right reasons. I just learned about this story, Guy Finds StarCraft Source Code And Returns It To Blizzard, Gets Free Trip To BlizzCon.

This guy bought a "box of Blizzard stuff" off eBay, and in the box was a CD labeled "StarCraft Gold Master Source Code." This is the uncompiled source code that makes up the game StarCraft. A lot of things could be done with this code.

In the end, he did the right thing and returned it to Blizzard. Blizzard then sent him a copy of their new game Overwatch and $250 in store credit.

Then the other shoe dropped.

Out of the blue one day, the guy gets a phone call from Blizzard, giving him a full ride (airfare, hotel and admission) to their annual convention, BlizzCon and drinks with the staff. Oh, yeah, another box shows up at his door with multiple Razer gaming accessories, plushies and a copy of Diablo III.

Think about this the next time you're confronted with an ethical dilemma.


Love who you are

MidSouthCon 35 was this past weekend. Sarah is a wonderful person who hugs me every time she sees me. She is open and sassy and full of attitude. I like that in a person. Sarah decided to do some cosplay for the Con. Before she was anxious. I don't know how it went, however from her Facebook post, it was less than optimal.

To my friend Sarah, I want to be clear:


You did something that I do not have the courage to do. The fact that despite your anxiousness, you went out and did it shows a level of courage that is unmistakable. Do not let anyone else define you. All you can do is your best.

To show you that you will always have haters, I want you to watch this video.

You are who you are. While you should always try to do better, measure yourself against who you were yesterday, not what somebody else is today.

An old article

A few months after I was discharged from the Navy, I was interviewed for a "transition supplement" for the Navy/Army/Air Force Times. A while back, I found an old, yellowed DTF copy (it was dated 1993) and I have finally spent the time to transcribe it and post it here. Enjoy "Like Godzilla Did Tokyo."


Why I stood to be Expelled

I have been wanting to write this for a while, but the full scope has not become clear until now. I am still reeling from my “Masonic Death” (i.e. Expulsion) and thusly still sorting my way through it.

I also will say up front that my thoughts and opinions which follow applies only to Masonry in Tennessee. Most other Grand Lodges do not have such things that they persecute their members for.

To give you some plain-speaking context, let me explain how I feel about Masonry this way. I love this country and the ideals she stands for, namely freedom and self-determination. For thirteen years, the United States government held a check written by me, payable to “Freedom” and the price being “any price, up to and including my life.” That’s a hefty price, no matter how you look at it. I would not trade my knowledge, experiences or friends from that part of my life for anything in the world.

My love for this country is but a pale shadow compared against my love for the ideals and brotherhood of the Masonic Fraternity. The ideals of Masonry extend from this world into the next. While my brothers and sisters-in-arms would protect my corporeal being, my Masonic brothers protected my integrity and my soul.

So when I saw brothers persecuted and in distress, subsequently suspended and recently expelled solely on the basis of publicly expressing their love for each other, I could not stand by silently. Their “crime” consisted of publicly expressing their union with each other when it became legal according to the law of the land.

I do not believe that rules, laws or regulations made by man should be obeyed just because they are duly constituted by established procedures. Any law, codified or societal, needs to be made based on the premise that the individual’s freedom not be subsumed to the demands of the society unless the individual is actively harming the society that they are members of.

For example, the concept of chattel slavery, a permanent elimination of an individual’s freedom of self-determination was once codified law in the United States. The “national discussion” on this subject culminated in a Civil War, where over 650,000 people died horrible deaths because the citizens of this country had a disagreement over whether this concept was acceptable or not.

In the 1980’s the Masonic Grand Lodge of Tennessee decided to codify in their bylaws that any Mason in Tennessee who physically loves another man, or is supportive of that concept is to be expelled, does not make rules like that right or good. The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, codified in the 19th Century, is the foundation upon which the Fraternity is built. One of those Landmarks states that the only physical requirements for him to join the Fraternity is that he is male, uncrippled and is of legal age. There was not any inquiry of their sexual preferences nor methods, because the “private” parts of a person’s life are not subject to the purview of any clubs or societies they might join.

The two brothers who were expelled were openly a couple when they petitioned the Lodge they joined. The brothers of this lodge did not have a problem with these men and their sexual preferences. One of them advanced through the officer stations, becoming Master of the Lodge. These two expelled Masons spent hundreds of hours of their time fixing and restoring the lodge building which had fallen into disrepair. When severe storms ripped part of the roof off the Lodge, these two spent thousands of dollars of their own money on building materials and hours of their time to repair that building. One of the appendant bodies of Masonry (other organizations that require their members be Master Masons before they can join) in Memphis had a non-functioning pipe organ. Again, these two men spent hours and hours repairing and tuning that organ until it worked, then one of them played the organ at the meetings. And someone is trying to tell me these men do not belong? I beg to differ.

A brother going through the degrees is not permitted to see the Masonic Code before they swear an oath to obey it. I admit, I never looked at the Masonic Code of Tennessee in its entirety after I became a Master Mason, even after I became Master of my Lodge. If I had known that this was part of the code, I probably would have not assumed the Oath of a Master Mason.

When this issue first came to my attention, I was Master of my Lodge and I initially paid it little mind. Once I heard that they had been suspended, my interest grew. Upon finding out the Past Master had submitted a change to the Masonic Code to eliminate that part of the code, I decided I had to speak up.

The applicable part of the Tennessee Masonic Code reads as follows:

Section 6.207,

(27) To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage.

The proposed code change I spoke in favor of would have reduced this to “To engage in lewd conduct.” That part of the Masonic Code had been used rarely if at all in 30 years since it was passed, either for the homosexual part or the “cohabitating without the benefit of marriage.”

The 2015 Grand Master of Tennessee, Dwight Hastings made it clear through his deputies that any comments about Grand Lodge business in public or on social media would result in the offender being expelled. Because I wanted to speak on this at the Grand Lodge, I remained silent against my will. At the 2016 Grand Lodge Meeting (called the Annual Communication), I stood and spoke in favor of eliminating this part of the code. I was shouted down by many of my "enlightened" brothers. I felt disheartened at that moment, not because my “brothers” not wanting to hear what I had to say, but that the Grand Master made zero effort to curtail this immature behavior by exerting any kind of control over the situation, which is his purpose and obligation as Grand Master.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee was made aware of the sexual orientation of these men in 2007, after they announced on Facebook that they had flown to Scotland and obtained a “civil license.” The fact that the Grand Lodge waited eight years before bringing them up on charges points straight at what kind of men Hastings and Cutlip are.

While I do not know them personally, I will assume that in most parts of their personal and business lives, they are upstanding men. Both of these men are to the best of my knowledge very passionate about their Christian faith. From my impression of them capriciously discharging the duties of Grand Master for the Masons of Tennessee, they are closed-minded, thin-skinned, hyper-religious, childish, insecure, tinpot tyrants who cannot stand the thought of someone publicly disagreeing with them. My impression of them is that they feel driven to “protect their legacy” by driving out or expelling anyone who dares challenge their authority.

Leaders will recognize that not everyone in the organization will agree with them 100% on every subject. Leaders also understand that they need to see what the organization wants and needs, tempering that with where the organization needs to be. Hastings and Cutlip have both clearly demonstrated that their personal morality trumps the views and the will of the brothers.

I had a private meeting with Grand Master Cutlip and several of his Grand Officers when he visited Memphis a couple of weeks after I stood up in Grand Lodge. During that meeting I presented the case that he is on the wrong side of this issue. I told him that several of my friends and acquaintances were considering asking me how to become a Mason (that’s how you start the process. You have to ask a Mason, “How do I become a Mason?”). Because of this controversy, each of them told me they had decided to not ask.

The response from Grand Master Cutlip was approximately [NOT A DIRECT QUOTE], “I would rather have 1,000 Masons who share my beliefs than 10,000 who believe like you do.” Grand Master Cutlip then gave me three choices: 1) Shut my piehole and remain a Mason, 2) Demit (voluntarily quit the Masons) or 3) Be expelled.

The problem about this issue is that Masonry is meant to be non-sectarian. The Fraternity only requires that you profess a belief in and an accountability to a Supreme Being. Who that Supreme Being is, the Fraternity doesn’t (or isn’t supposed to) inquire about. There are religions on this planet that do not believe homosexuality to be an offense to their God. The majority of Masons respect the beliefs of others. When the Masonic leadership usurps this ideal, replacing inclusiveness with exclusiveness of all but their religion, that path will end up destroying or rendering the fraternity irrelevant.

Masonry is meant to unite men of all faiths by their love and obedience to each man’s Supreme Being. It is a long standing policy that Masons do not discuss politics or religion in or near the lodge because they are considered divisive issues in a Fraternity meant to unite men. This policy from Hastings and Cutlip has forced these issues into the Lodge, because this is the only place where it can be discussed now.

This is why I stood in favor of deleting that part of the Masonic Code. This is why I stood and opposed the Grand Lodge and forced them to expel me. On the day that I stand before my Creator and He judges me on my life and actions, I believe being expelled from the Tennessee Masons to be a far preferable thing to remaining silent and quietly condoning the persecution of brothers based solely on the basis of whom they love by continuing my membership in that organization.

Epiphanial thunderbolt

I was hit with an epiphanial thunderbolt the other day. A phrase that literally shook me to the core of my very being.

First, a new link: Monday Morning Memo. Go read and sign up now. I command it. You will not regret it.

The other day I was listening to The Ziglar Show #426, which was about this issue of the Monday Morning Memo titled The Talented-Person Blind Spot. It talked about two conditions called the Impostor Syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger Effect. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

About the 36:00 mark of the Ziglar podcast, the host starting talking about how inadequate he felt leading personal development classes on subjects that he felt he need a lot more work on before he felt comfortable teaching others about. This transitioned into talking about hypocrisy, which is defined today as a person declaring a personal standard (usually moral) and then failing to meet it.

This “hypocrisy” is used by Liberals all the time against those they oppose. If someone Liberals don’t like (usually Conservatives) declare a standard, then when someone of that disliked group does not meet that standard, Liberals use that to try and declare that standard invalid. An example that comes to mind is when Republicans speak against debauchery and degradation of women. So when a couple Republican lawmakers are found enjoying themselves in a strip club, Liberals start screaming, "SEE, THEY DON’T LIVE UP TO THEIR OWN STANDARDS!!!"

To continue with the podcast, the guest brought up Thomas Jefferson. The man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, yet he owned slaves. Which, using the current definition of hypocrisy, Thomas Jefferson certainly was a hypocrite. Declaring that all men are equal, while at the same time owning human beings.

Here’s what the guest quoted Thomas Jefferson saying about this:

"This thing I believe, do I water it down to the level that I can live up to, or do I say the truth, even though I am falling horribly short of it myself?"

This is that epiphanial thunderbolt I spoke of earlier. Do I set my standards to where I can reach them, or do I set them high enough that my maximum effort may or may not attain that standard? A deep quandary indeed to all those of deep thought want desire to improve themselves.

I have certain beliefs as standards that I hold myself to, even though I fall horribly short of them on a consistent basis. Every day I fall short in my obligations to my family, friends and all those whom I interact with. However, because I will fail does not mean I should never try. With that being said, I work every day to try and attain those unreachable goals, even knowing I may never reach them.

I have multiple other ways of saying this, such as, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” “One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts” and many others. I heard in another podcast this intent (since I don’t remember it exactly enough to quote it):

Never fear failure. If you fail, this means you picked a target outside of your comfort zone and your abilities. If you tried your best and failed, be proud of yourself because you got out on a limb and tried, which puts you way ahead of those who never try.

This is the message I want to leave you with. Strive for what is out of your reach. You just might get it.

I got your back

I am being deliberately vague here to protect who everyone is while keeping them straight and paraphrasing what was said...

The story below highlights how I treat and speak of others when they are not with me. This is how I act about all of my friends and acquaintances.

I was visiting a friend (Friend) during my lunch break yesterday, and while we were standing near my work truck (I was preparing some parts to be shipped back) a neighbor and acquaintance of Friend (Neighbor) came over to us and said to me, "I know you from somewhere." As we talked, we discovered that Neighbor had been in a class I had taught some years ago while I was a Mental Health Counselor.

Neighbor and I continued to talk, and the conversation turned to people we mutually knew, two in particular (Mutual A and Mutual B). Neighbor called Mutual A an "asshole" and Mutual B an "idiot." I replied, stating "Mutual A is strong-willed and is set in his ways about doing things. Mutual B has knowledge, however they lack the understanding to apply it properly." I did provide an example of Mutual B's "expertise." Neighbor pressed me, trying to get me to call Mutual A and B the same names he used.

It was at this point that Friend said, "Give it up Neighbor, he doesn't say things like that about anybody."

I am not providing details as to why so don't ask. I respect Mutual A and Mutual B, make no mistake about that. I continue to be friendly with them to this day, when our paths cross. To say that I like them, not so much. I have had occasional less-than-satisfying encounters with both. I can suspect, but I will never fully know their motivations and reasoning about why they treated me as they did.

I cannot change them, nor can I change their perception of me. All I can do is to try and be the best person I can be. How that appears to others and how it influences their opinion of me I cannot affect, nor will I lose sleep over it. That is their burden, not mine.

I defend everybody I know when I hear their character maligned. On Facebook, I have defended both Trump and Hillary when I see memes or whatever that state things I know are not true about them. If I have two friends/acquaintances who were in a relationship and broke up, I don't take sides with one over the other, and I ask one not to malign the other with me.

I have your back.

I don't need anger management

This is not going to end how you think. Really.

I don’t have anger issues, really. I am very laid-back, happy and deferential when it comes to 99% of my interactions with people. That last 1% however can screw up and put a negative spin on the rest of my day.

I have been on “that side” of the phone, as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) and help desk. I always tried to be helpful and giving of information and resources. It seemed to me that giving the information would improve the customers’ experience. Some help desk/CSR banks though have intentionally gone the other way. This department of this company seems to ascribe to the “Piss them off so they won’t bother us” school of thought.

My work history has been unsteady lately. Out of the past 31 months, I have been unemployed 14 months and underemployed (30% base pay cut compared to the 5 year job plus no benefits) 17 months. When I got the underemployed job, I worked with the bank that holds my car note to fold the three payments I was behind into the end of my loan. The lady I worked with was sweet, kind, attentive and caring. Six months ago, I had to file for bankruptcy because my expenses were more than my income. Being severely underemployed will do that to you. Due to various delays I have not fully discharged the bankruptcy yet.

I covered all of that so you have the context of my call transcript below. I am now (again) three car payments behind. So I called the bank again and was routed without choice to the bankruptcy department because I am still in Bankruptcy.

Me: Hello, I am calling because I am three payments behind on my car and I need to speak with someone about what I can do to roll those payments onto the end of my loan.

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: I did this exact thing back in December 2014. What do you mean ‘we don’t do that here’?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: Okay, what you're saying is the Bankruptcy department can’t do that, I understand. Who would I have to talk with to make this happen?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: [Looking for my ball-peen hammer]
Me: […pauses to keep from shouting…]

Me: Could you please volunteer some information so I don’t have to be extremely pedantic and exacting in my questions in order to try and gain some information you have that could solve my issue???

CSR: You have to reaffirm your debt to get it out of this department.

Me: [Found the ball-peen hammer, debating to use it on the phone or my head]
Me: […pauses some more to keep from shouting…]


CSR: Your lawyer must fill out and return the appropriate paperwork to us.

Me: [Sarcastically] THANK YOU. I just want to tell you that you could have prevented the last five minutes of my life from being excruciatingly painful merely by being slightly forthcoming in the information. If you had said the first time you opened your mouth, ‘We can’t do payment rollovers in this department. The loan has to be transferred out after you reaffirm the debt.’ I would have been understanding instead of aggravated.

Me: Now that we got that out of the way, is there a way you could inform me if you are about to take my car for non-payment?

CSR: No.

Me: [Puts hammer down. Looks for a power drill with a paddle bit to drill on myself]
Me: “Bye.” [Hangs up]

At that point in time I was aggravated to the point I was going to call into question in a very detailed and graphic manner the genetic relations of her prior three generations and use very impolite language. Normally I would do this and use language suitable at a ladies afternoon cotillion but I was rushed and not in the right frame of mind.

I didn't, because at the last second before I opened my mouth I realized she could have been under orders to not be helpful (yes, there are help desks that do that). Maybe she had a bad day herself and my yelling at her and belittling her more than I did wasn't going to improve the attitude of either one of us.

I learned a while back that in any interaction I have with another person I should always ASSUME GOOD INTENTIONS. This means that I should never think the other person is intentionally trying to ruin my day. That does not preclude that they might be a mean person, however you should always assume that the other person is fighting a battle you will never learn about. This bad news will affect how they interact with others, but you should never let their attitude spread to you then you take that and hurt others.

I illustrate this point using a story from Stephen Covey:

Stephen was coming home on the subway, trying to unwind after a stressful day. At one stop a man gets on with several children. The man seemed unconcerned that his children were running up and down the car, screaming, fighting with each other and being very unruly. Stephen walked over to to the man to tell him to control his children, but at the last second something in the mans demeanor gave him pause. Instead, Stephen sat down next to the man and asked, "What happened?"

The man replied that he and his children were heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the children's mother had just died a few minutes ago. Stephen's attitude changed 180 degrees from "yell at him for not controlling his children" to "How can I help?"

I apologize to the lady I spoke with. It was my failure of control that caused me to be upset and yell at her. I try to leave every person I encounter better than how I found them. I failed with you.

Unfinished business

I lost an acquaintance the other day, his name was William Duty. He died unexpectedly at 51 years old. He had just walked out of a gym, sat down in his car and died, just like that. My relationship with him is unusual, because we first met in Guam in 1989, then we managed to cross paths again in Memphis 7,500 miles away and 25 years later.

Will was not only in my division when we were stationed in Guam, we also saw each other on Saturdays at the nearby Andersen AFB in the Project Warrior wargaming club. Our tours overlapped by about six months (I arrived in June 1989, he left about Christmas 1989). Here in Memphis, we usually saw each other at board gaming meetups. When I first bumped into him several years ago, we didn't realize who the other was. I lost hair, he grew out his hair and a beard and we both gained weight. It took me talking about my time in Guam that he overheard and we started talking and realized we knew each other. In fact, a very close friend of mine Bill Weldon who followed me from Hawaii to Guam a few months later, ended up in Will's shop and Will trained Bill.

The last time we saw each other, I was talking about when Project Warrior as a group crossed a Modern D10 land wargame (I forget the name) and Battletech. I was playing Commander of the Battlemech lance (4 'Mechs) and Will was coordinating fire with a platoon of APC's armed with FOG-M's (Fiber Optic Guided Missiles). Those damn FOG-M's were killing a 'Mech a turn and were out of sight and way out of range for me.

I titled this "Unfinished business" because I still have a newsletter from Project Warrior and I promised to scan it and send him a copy. I don't think my email can reach into the next world. Will, you will be missed by many people.

will duty


Good night, Mr. Garibaldi

Babylon 5 is my favorite TV show. It had characters with real flaws, who dealt with real-life issues and the episodes were not interchangeable, like "Brand X" (Star Trek). This series taught me that "You must do the right thing for the right reasons. If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, you will corrupt and destroy the good you have created."

I learned yesterday that Jerry Doyle, the actor who played Chief Warrant Officer Michael Garibaldi, died suddenly at age 60. He joins Andreas Katsulas (G'kar), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) and Jeff Conaway (Sgt. Zack Allan) in the Great Unknown.

While probably many people who watched B5 identified with the characters Sinclair or Sheridan (for the ladies Ivanova or Delenn), I always identified with Garibaldi. He didn't take any guff, he was very passionate and didn't compromise his principles. Garibaldi had a clear sense of right and wrong and a strong loyalty to his friends. He took care of his friends and was very indirect on how he exacted revenge against those who hurt him. Out of all of the scenes with Mr. Garibaldi, this one is the one I like the best:

The only loose end not tied up by the series end was how Garibaldi took care of Bester. After some research, I found out that Garibaldi (after the no-harm block was removed) pursued Bester. In the end, Garibaldi left Bester alive, in prison and stripped of his telepathic abilities.

Good night, Jerry. You will be missed.

This is why...

I'm not allowed to cook.

In 1988, when I was still freshly married to my bride, she demanded that I assist her in preparing our meals. So one evening she called me into the kitchen, handed me a bulb of garlic and a cleaver and told me to crush a couple of cloves. Not knowing the difference between a clove and a bulb, I put the entire bulb down and got ready to crush it. She screamed "NO!!!" then broke off a couple of cloves. Again, not being versed in the Way of the Kitchen, I then exerted my entire force on these cloves of garlic, reducing them to an unusable mess. She banished me from the kitchen at that point.

In 2013, while Junior Warden of my Masonic Lodge, I was carrying out my duties as JW by doing the cooking for my brothers at Lodge meetings. I told them before they elected me to this position, "Many people have eaten my cooking and have gone on to live normal lives." They thought I was joking. I ended up choking on a pork steak I cooked and spent twelve days in the hospital, five of them in ICU. I have a dead leg from my cooking.

Tonight, both my bride and son were unable to prepare dinner. My bride told me to fix some Red Beans and Rice with Bratwurst. Simple, right? So you think...

I was instructed to use two boxes of RB&R, each of which the instructions called for three cups of water. Everything seemed to be going to plan, except that 15 minutes after the called for 35 minute cook time, there was still lots of water in the pot with the RB&R. It was at this point that I realized that the measuring cup I used to measure the water didn't hold one cup, but two... I put twelve cups of water in the pot, not six.

In the end, dinner was overcooked, wet and tasteless RB&R. The brats were just as tasteless, as the beer I added to the water for flavor had boiled off in the extra cook time.

After dumping half of her dinner in the trash, my beautiful bride of twenty-seven years told me, "I would rather starve than eat your cooking again." I'm not sure how I should feel about this...

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