That would be the headline of The Guardian had its way, the British newspaper that’s so far Left it makes the New York Times look like The Wall Street Journal if the Journal was run by Fox News and staffed by the Klan. But the Daily Mail reports that two unarmed US servicemen stopped a Moroccan Jihadist firing an AK47 on a crowded train in France. The soldiers thought the guy was acting suspicious and heard the attacker rack and load his weapon in the train’s toilet, and they jumped him when he burst out firing. One soldier was injured although not seriously, as were two others on the train.
Just another day at the “office” for America’s best and bravest.
My mother passed away last night. I got the call on the highway coming back home after picking up my wife and son from the airport. My brother-in-law explained what had happened, and while there were better deaths to be had there are far worse. She had lived 94 years, the longest of any of my known ancestors. Through her I was able to touch people born early in the 19th century, and learn first hand about life before inventions like indoor plumbing, the telephone and the automobile changed the heart of America.
The loss of that history is one of the unexpected feelings I find myself thinking about today, along with the usual regrets a son has. I really do wish she had made it to our little haven here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but she was too weak to travel. Her spinal stenosis would have made sitting in an airline seat impossible. But I wish she could have seen my dogs running in the fields.
As for the title. The only non-religious music she ever truly loved was Polka – fitting for a woman of Bohemian descent who grew up in South St. Louis during the 1920s and 1930s. And one of the best memories I have as a child is of her with my eldest sister dancing the polka, laughing and whirling. I imagine that’s what she’s doing now, freed from a body that betrayed her, whirling and laughing with my beloved niece who died on the operating table at the age of 5 years.
The all-day meeting with the client is pushed back and another meeting takes its place. The teams are told by the acquisitions leader that the client is not happy with our requirements. Wagons are circled and everyone defers to their team leads. We are all to be on our best behavior and avoid mentioning timelines or other key phrases that sets the client’s teeth on edge. We are pros. This is what we do and we know this stuff, but we have a line to walk: making the client happy and supporting our own clients downstream who depend on us for their data. Acquisition Teams always sweat; I suppose it’s what they do.
A text appears on my phone. “We took mom off the bipap machine and we are giving her nasal oxygen. We have decided on hospice care because we have decided to make sure she is comfortable.”
I refocus on the presentation and the droning becomes words again as the acquisition team lead walks the client through my process flow.
The hours pass with few breaks. Once we focus on the data mapping exercise I notice the people representing the client seem relieved. The unknown always frightens people, and they were beginning to understand it wasn’t as bad as they thought.
My phone buzzes. “Just found out the insurance company will be kicking mom out of the hospital tomorrow or Saturday. We will be doing hospice at home.” I text back, “Good. Better for her to be at home.” Droning again, and I ignore it. Another text. “She is delirious today, probably from the morphine and adavan.” “Talk to the nurse about balancing her meds,” I text.
As the droning becomes words again I can feel my mother, a woman’s whose first questions always included “How is your job going?” likely because her husband wasn’t the best at holding one down for very long. Her love of her job made me move gradually towards a place where I loved my own, where the idea of working long hours didn’t really matter. She always accepted my shortened visits because she understood that as a computer contractor I didn’t get paid time off. Now I do but I don’t know how to use it.
The hours role on with very few bio breaks. 4 pm. 5 pm. 6 pm. At 6:30 the acquisitions team lead is pushing for an important technical decision. I know it’s one that we have to craft perfectly, and it will not be done after 8 hours of straight meetings. So I suggest we hold off for tomorrow or the day after. He seems disappointed but the client and the other teams have already lost focus. It’s time to call it a day and regroup later.
After 11 hours I turn off the computer. Other challenges await but important decisions were made today, some more important than others.
Bernie Sanders has surged to the lead in New Hampshire and is filling his venues to overflowing. The FBI has possession of Hillary Clinton’s email server and will presumably pull every last byte of email residue from its hard drives. They’ve already found extremely top secret satellite intelligence that is assumed to have fallen into Russian and Chinese hands. Remember, she has yet to give a full accounting as to why she operated a personal server in the first place which itself was against the law. Now highly classified intelligence was found on it, and worse, the server was completely open to the internet for 3 months.
Hillary Clinton should be done.
Now if only Jeb Bush was too…
Last quarter 566,000 Americans quit cable or satellite TV. I was one of them. For the first time since 1981 living in this country I have gone without cable TV and you know what? I haven’t noticed it. That’s because for the past year I have been subscribing to Amazon Prime, Netflix and Acorn TV, adding HuluPlus just to cover some of the more popular networks. Total bill after I cancelled my service on June 23? Excluding the Amazon Prime membership which I bought for the discounted shipping, about $21. That’s 20% of my monthly satellite bill.
But honestly I was already relying upon Netflix and Acorn TV for my TV watching for a long time before I called DirecTV and told them I was leaving the country for awhile (to avoid the hard sell and begging to stay subscribed). Instead of turning on the TV and seeing what was available as I had done since I was a kid, I bought a Roku 3 and was binge watching quality shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, as well as British-only fare like Time Team and Doc Martin. Now we’re hooked on Game of Thrones, but for the price of subscribing to HBO I can rent almost an entire season of the show. When HBO Now becomes available, I’ll probably swap out HuluPlus for it (or not until I’m done catching up with the UK version of The Office). The Roku makes navigation and selecting services easy, although searches within the apps range from tolerable (Netflix) to god-awful (Acorn TV).
The bottom line? I’m watching less TV, but the TV I do watch is of high quality, much better than 99% of the shows you will find on extended cable or satellite. Plus I’m saving money overall, even when I add in the cost of additional rentals.
I grew up with the TV an ever present sound in my childhood. I can sing the Love Boat theme or rattle off quotes from various shows of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s simply because the TV was always on. Now I spend at most two hours a day watching it, and what I watch just cannot be compared with the dross you find on TruTV or E!.
But it still took me months to work up the courage to cut the cord. “What if there’s a news event?” I asked myself. And I answered that I already get my news from the internet from several different sources including the British media including Sky News. “What about Walking Dead?” Available for rental at $3/pop as soon as the show airs. Still I dragged my feet until I opened my satellite bill, saw I was paying $103 a month and couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a show on it.
So I made the phone call and haven’t looked back. And the most illustrative fact? My teenaged son didn’t notice that DirecTV was turned off for over a month.
New Zealand is considering updating its flag. I’m not sure why, but I guess there’s little else to do in that tiny corner of the world but whinge about America and fret about Australia, so perhaps the flag issue has little mental space to compete with.
Here are my suggestions.
We’ll get the sheep joke out of the way first.
For the Kiwis who feel it’s necessary to lecture Americans about how everything their country does is wrong.
And finally, my impression of what the New Zealand flag will look like by the end of the 21st century.
As an animal lover and one who has participated in the conservation of an endangered species it’s hard for me to not be pissed off at the dentist. I understand the excitement of a hunt, how much of a challenge it is to track your game, check your target and wait until you find the perfect moment. But I’ve used cameras not guns for my “kills” and the exhilaration felt was not lessened by capturing the image of the animal instead of its skull.
For those upset about the dentist killed Cecil the lion I can’t help but wonder how they feel about the abortionist making jokes about cracking the skull of a baby. I’m sure many upset with Cecil’s untimely demise aren’t familiar with the video making the rounds of the pro-life community, but I wonder if they would react a similar way, or if as I expect they would justify it as many in the hunting community have done with the lion’s demise. There’s something intrinsically screwed up with trophy hunting, just as I think there’s something intrinsically wrong with people who laugh about crushing the skulls of unborn children and make a profession of it. “Right Livelihood” is part of The Buddha’s Eight-Fold Path, and it’s hard to think of a livelihood further away from Enlightenment than the troglodytes shown in the videos. At least Cecil had more of a chance to defend himself than the kids crunched before birth.
Perhaps Cecil’s killer should have been an abortionist instead of a dentist.