Monthly Archives: May 2017


I’m working on my story that might be considered fantasy, horror, thriller, or who knows what.

I don’t care what genre it fits, just so long as it ends up a good story. However, it’s nowhere near finished, therefore, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

I hope it’s worth the wait.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day isn’t celebrated-it’s observed. Memorial Day—once known as “Decoration Day” dates to just after the Civil War when various groups selected a day to lay flowers on the graves of those who fell in battle. Both North and South began similar traditions; eventually ending up on the last Monday in May. Veterans Day recognizes those who have served; Memorial Day is for those who, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Gave the last full measure.”

There is a symbol, and on special occasions, a brief ceremony to honor the fallen, and especially those who are missing in action or prisoners of war. It is commonly known as the “White Table” or “Missing Service Member (initially “man”) Table.” The following is read, explaining the significance of each item on the table.

Table Ceremony Script

Preferably, the table is being set while the script is read.

The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today. And we remember them. (ring bell)

The table is small, and set for one — Symbolizing the vulnerability of a lone prisoner against his captors. Remember! (ring bell)

The tablecloth is white — Symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation’s call to arms. Remember! (ring bell)

The chair is empty, for they are not here. Remember! (ring bell)

The wine glass is inverted — They cannot toast with us this night. Remember! (ring bell)

The slices of lemon — Reminding us of their bitter suffering. Remember! (ring bell)

The grains of salt — Representing the countless tears of the families. Remember! (ring bell)

The single red rose — Reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. Remember! (ring bell)

The burning candle and yellow ribbon — Symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember! (ring bell)

Remember! — All who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance — We will never forget their sacrifice. Remember! (ring bell)

Remember! — Until the day they return home, or find eternal peace, we will remember. (ring bell).

One Shot

We all get one shot in this life—one shot to make a difference. One shot to leave an indelible mark behind us.

I read about the suicide bomber in Manchester and am appalled that anyone—and it appears to be quite a few—believes that the way to please God is to murder innocent children. The media feels compelled to share this information with everyone, repeatedly, with no good reason.

I know that for every sociopath there are millions who help neighbors; for every psychopath there are millions who donate time and money to worthy charities. I thank God for that. It’s too bad that the news media has a fetish for sharing all the details they can find about Salman Abedi Flaming Idiot 201705#1—where he grew up, where he went to school—and dropped out,, as well as his family. The police and intelligence agents trying to prevent future attacks need detailed information, not the general public. he should be treated as the nameless, faceless creature who chose to not be part of the human race. He squandered his one shot.

The only reason for the media to dwell on the details is to sell more advertising. Are they advertising hemorrhoidal cremes, erectile dysfunction drugs, or something else. Why don’t we just label these in-depth stories for what they are—recruiting ads for murderous fringe groups? The media glorify the worst among us. This is easiest for those who have only a casual relationship with the truth, malleable social mores, and no concept of one’s responsibility to society.

Twenty-two killed, 64 who were injured with 20 in critical conditions—most of them will never have their one shot.

Flaming Idiot 201705#1 used his to kill and wound the innocent.

The media pissed theirs away long ago.

Now—how are you going to use your one shot?


Untied Airlines

Well, United is in the news again, this time for charging a $200 overweight baggage fee to an American service member returning from Afghanistan. Why was his baggage so heavy? Souvenirs? Illicit goods? No, in his government issued bag was his government issued body armor, Kevlar helmet, etc.

Why does United keep committing so many faux pas? I have a pretty good guess.

This behavior is consistent with a micro-managing senior leaders who have never dealt with real, actual customers. Instead, they generate reams of regulations meant to cover every possible situation with the focus on protecting the bottom line. While there may or may not be harsh penalties for failure to adhere to the myriad rules, the message from top management is clear—you employees are not to make decisions on your own. Employees when faced with a potential customer relations fiasco no longer see the craziness, because the rules must be followed. I’d not be surprised to hear the following in the employee-only areas, “This would be a great job, if it weren’t for the customers.”

The cure, a change of culture to one focused on the customer.

Step one? A wholesale change of top managements, starting with the financial types. Change the focus from dollars to customers and the company will do better. Will some stockholders balk and sell off their shares? Yep, but they’ll sell out soon anyways. Those stockholders are the ones who only want the quick buck—a big return this quarter. If this puts the company in a death spiral, they don’t care, because they’ll leave as soon as big quarterly gains or dividends slow.

Let the stockholders know that the airline will be customer focused—that it’s in the business for the long haul. Wise investors understand that. Stockholders who don’t like that approach should invest their money in Pan American, Eastern, Braniff, TWA, or their current equivalents.

Write, Wrong, or Whatever

I haven’t been able to write as many blogs lately because I’ve been sitting by my phone or computer waiting for people to send me photos of their latest meal. No! Really! It’s apparently the latest thing.

Okay, actually. I spent the last weekend in Virginia Beach. My wife and I walked miles and miles—on the beach side, on the touristy shoppe side, and everywhere in between. Being local, we did not purchase salt water taffy, T-shirts with semi-obscene sayings, nor even hermit crabs (my weakness on our last trip). We did, however, have a number of amazing meals, and a fantastic time just being together.

However, around the strolls, meals, naps (Excuse me, but once I received my Medicare card, I began to believe that naps are a medical necessity—at least on weekends) I did get a lot of writing done on one of my stories. I have no idea if it is going to end up as a short story, a novelette (which is a contradiction in terms), or perhaps something else. All I can say is that when the protagonist (or, the antagonist, depending upon your point of view) is a not-quite-dead guy, the story takes a lot of writing, rewriting, editing, etc.

Should I blog the story? ePublish it? Try to get one of the n^99 cable channels to make it into a mini-series?

All I can say is, stay tuned!

Fast Food

I grew up in the sixties and worked at McDonalds for a while. Food was cheap, appealed to the teenage palette, and was strictly counter service—no drive through or dining room. I used to say that suffrage—the right to vote—should require proof of having worked in a fast food restaurant. It taught people how to interact with others, what customer service meant, and, yes, a little humility.

Today, fast food is definitely not fast and nutritionally, just barely food.

There are times when I’m either on the road or in a hurry and stop at one of the ubiquitous franchise food stops. I usually go inside because: a) The ham radio antennas on my car don’t clear the overhang, or b) if it’s a road trip, a restroom stop is a prerequisite to eating, and c) I get to see the actual operation. Seeing the operation is best avoided. Today’s fast food routine requires:

  1. Priority number one is to socialize, which in my fast-food days was met with, “Hey! Get back to work—I’m not paying you to play grab ass!”
  2. There are no longer any standards as to how long food is kept. It may have spent three weeks under the warmer, but it still takes 20 minutes to put it in a bag and bring it up to the counter.
  3. There is no reason to worry about keeping soft drinks or coffee available, and no reason to tell a customer when the order is placed that certain items are not available.
  4. Food must be presented in such a way that any sauce, condiment, or other stain causing liquid or semi-liquid is placed on the bun to ensure that at least 67 percent of it will drop onto the customer’s lap.
  5. All French cries must have enough salt to clear 1¼ miles of ice encrusted, six-lane interstate.

Maybe I got it backward. Maybe it’s not the voters who need fast food experience—maybe it’s the elected officials—who should be required to spend 1½ times their tenure in office working fast food after they leave office. It just might change their attitudes a bit.

Just a thought.


I can barely keep up on e-mail, so I don’t do much with most forms of social media—especially Twitter.


Twitter would be the comparative to twit, such as, “He’s more twit than his brother.”

The superlative, of course, would be twittest. Fortunately, so far at least, that is not even recognized as a word.

Oyay! Oyay, ye Rolling Stones!

Who would have guessed that in 1965, the most accurate prognosticators of the twenty-first century would have been the Rolling Stones?

I mean, give me a break!

“Hey, you get off of my cloud!”

Computer technology—which was quite limited in 1965—has today become so cloud dependent—forty-plus years after their warning.

More importantly, today there are hackers at every turn . . . . It’s almost eerie. How did Keith Richards and Mick Jagger know what was coming? They are the two most unlikely people . . .

Unless you’re a fan of Men in Black, in which case, that explains a lot.

On the other hand, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones–as much as I love their acting–have always struck me as just a bit different.

Do you know what I mean?

Fixing Healthcare – Part Three

Physician’s Assistants (PAs) and Advanced Registered Nurse  (ARNPs) are helping lower costs and increase access. While some nurse practitioners, can operate relatively independently; other nurse practitioners and most physicians’ assistants, cannot. Why?

Physicians are adamant that they maintain a high degree of control over these and other healthcare workers. This is a throwback to the nineteenth century—which is kind of interesting in a weird sort of way. The story, and I cannot vouch for its accuracy, although all my research seems to support it, is that the country was besotted with traveling medicine shows hawking patent medicines (You’ve seen it in the movies—“One for a man, two for a horse”). The physician industry supposedly promised to get things under control if they were put in charge of medical practitioners, i.e., physicians and surgeons (MD). It, at best, minimized, if not blackballed, osteopathic physicians (DO), chiropractors (DC) and chiropodists, now known as podiatrists (DPM).

A physician, at the time, could authorize any hireling under his license to perform any duty under the concept that the doctor was “the captain of the ship” and was responsible for everything. Therefore, he had authority to authorize any employee to do anything—hopefully, but not necessarily, after some training.

Today, many non-physician healthcare workers are licensed in their own right; in most states this includes nurses (of all levels), therapists (of all varieties), and technologists (ditto). These people are trained and possess technical skills that physicians do not. Generally speaking, only television doctors leave their practice in order to operating high technology devices. It’s good theater but bad economics.

Many of the other healthcare careers such as nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, etc., have made significant advances Unfortunately, old attitudes die hard, and there are too many physicians who try to maintain an inordinate control over everything, including these other professionals. Nurse anesthetists and physicians’ assistance must be “supervised” by a physician, although such supervision does not require actual observation or even the presence of the supervising physician.

Efforts to keep others under control have led to some bizarre arrangements. In radiology, for example I’m told that the technologists are now required to periodically retake the examination that initially proved their competence even though there has been continuing education requirements for 40 years. If true, I believe this is a unique requirement, but a warning to all others. Of all the physicians’ assistants, only those specializing in radiology are not permitted to interpret x-ray or other diagnostic images.


Some blame the American Medical Association, a very powerful organization with effective lobbyists. However, it apparently speaks for a self-selected group of physicians. Out of 923,308 practicing physicians, the most recent numbers available indicates that only 228,000 belonged to the AMA. If you don’t round, that’s just less than 25 percent.

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and his wife, who wrote the book Free to Choose, asserted that the AMA functions more like a guild with the goal of increasing physicians’ wages and fees by limiting both the supply of physicians and the competition from non-physician groups.

This is yet another issue that must be addressed if we are truly interested in fixing healthcare.

To Err Is Human—To Really F*** Up, You Really Need a Computer

I admit that life demands a place over blogging. I admit that faith, family, friends, work, and keeping up with laundry, mowing, etc. get in the way, too. However, over the past few weeks, I have actually written a few blogs, but my computer would not let me post them, and then they disappeared.

Eventually, I realized the truth.

Whenever I arrive home—early, late, whatever—Louis (our dog) expects to eat. Whenever Adam, my son is gone, his cat demands attention from me—lots of attention—just so long as I don’t try to actually pick her up and hold her.

OMG*, my computers have developed similar traits. If I don’t pay them adequate attention, they act out—obvious passive aggressive actions.

First, it’s a slowing of all functions followed by lost files. Something like:

Me: “Open blog May 2, 2017”

Computer: “                                                                                        Huh?


Then the computer moves to:

“I can’t locate the file.

What application do you want to use to open the file?

The file is corrupted and cannot be opened.

Ooops! The dog ate my files—I mean file not located.”

I’ve been busy looking at new computers online—using the offending computer—but it has such an inflated opinion of itself, it doesn’t seem to care. It just might be in for a big surprise. Feel free to castigate my offensive hardware.



*Others May Question (my sanity)