Because of an excess of spambot activity, I have blocked new registrations. I hate taking such drastic measures, but I don't have time to clean up all the false registrations that result from whatever attack list I landed on. I will likely revise this in the future once I've upgraded some of my code, but until then, please email me if you would like a user account. Most days, you'll get a login within a few daylight hours. Please let me know:
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The WatchCat spent a year in Russia and the Middle East in preparation for a government career. Unfortunately she got in a little too deep, and health problems sabotaged her career before it began. The future? Now there's an open question. She gets her paws in the action whenever possible, with or without a paycheck. WatchCat keeps busy supporting the troops, recruiting pararescue candidates, yelling at traitors and helping people navigate the grey areas on international everything.
A close family member is active duty US military, but due to OPSEC (and the general need for family peace), WatchCat is unable to write about that person's activities. She makes the most of the opportunities that God gives her, knowing that she should be dead by now.
And yes, she is married & is going to stay married. Smacks upside the head are delivered as needed to those who don't understand this.
Any Amazon.com shopping you do via these links will help keep WatchCat in cream & ammo:
Yet another terrorist attack. And already the Tricolor is reappearing all over profile pictures in solidarity. Of course, a few days ago it was blue..and black...lines. And all but the youngest sheepdogs are starting to feel old.
We're feeling the saturation of a global situation in which it's impossible to appropriately engage with all the tragedy. We find ourselves mourning some deaths and merely wincing over others, trying to find our way through each devastating news cycle.
We can't solve it all and we can't understand it all. Sometimes it's a struggle just to breathe.
What does solidarity look like in this kind of world?
"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"
-Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
Solidarity is filling in the gaps. It's being strong so that the body count in your town will be less, it's moving past grief into action, it's temporarily covering for weakness to provide room for healing.
So yes, honor the stories that move you. But let them spur you to be a better version of yourself tomorrow.
Seven months from my last post and I'm still struggling to find words for what I see around me.
The level of fracture in our nation is astounding. I landed in the thick of a related issue a few days early. In a moment of distraction I made a bad call related to a Confederate veterans group and flag. I was thinking about nuanced veterans' issues, but if anyone had been watching (and I pray they weren't!) it could have looked like I was saluting the Confederate flag. I felt the error almost immediately, squirmed quite a bit as the local issue escalated, and now with the escalated racial violence I'm wondering if I dare comment. But I'm going to do it anyway.
Forget black, blue, brown or white. Or even "all." Our problem as a society is that we institutionalized a sliding scale of human worth with Roe v. Wade. Several generations have grown up with the uneasy knowledge that if a baby isn't perfect or convenient or any other "choice" factor, it is acceptable for his/her life to be ended before it has barely begun. What did that teach our society?
You have the answer in the news.
I applaud the many attempts at racial reconciliation and understanding that are rising from the ashes of these recent killings. A friend of mine wrote a compelling piece about how no one really understands what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.
But "gun violence" and racial violence will rise or fall in proportion to how our nation measures human worth.
Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I got a reminder that my grandfather died a year ago yesterday. As I've written before, we didn't have the closest relationship, and that adds a different tang to the loss. I've talked it out with family at various points and it all comes down to one thing: he didn't know how to show his love. It's frustrating and heartbreaking, but all too common. Even from me. (Chip off the old block? I had a conversation last night with my living grandfather, KNOWING he doesn't have much time left, and while the affection between us was apparent we still didn't find the words.)
If we've learned anything from this era of terrorism, it's that death doesn't do schedules. If we wait for to say what we feel, odds are high that we'll be saying it at a gravesite, unable to see the impact of our words. That's not to say that our loved ones can't hear us; they do and it is always worth saying what needs to be said. But we are made for reciprocity. Our relationships need grounding in two-way communication.
We all have different emotional ranges and corresponding abilities to communicate those thoughts and feelings. It's not about pouring your heart out to all your battle buddies, unless you want to! Rather, it is about the next step forward...
The email response.
A warmer handshake.
An awkward hug.
One extra kind word.
I live between two worlds. My days now are filled with laundry, driving to school, running the HOA and being the “company wife” in partnership with a man who is far too good at his work. I’m blessed in many ways and I choose to embrace this season of life. Yet there’s another side of me, the part unsurprised by the recent attacks in Paris (and Beirut, and Baghdad.) It’s the part of me that lived in London during the “Troubles,” the part that navigated more crazy situations in other countries than I want to remember, the part that found a home when studying the Special Operations Executive of WWII. That part of me looks at the mom part of me and quietly announces:
Game on, NOW.
It’s Game On for all of us. Whether we’re on the front lines or the sidelines, we need a sharper attitude to deal with mass shootings, suicide bombers and borderless wars. It’s less apple-pie and more occupied France or blitzed London. When I lived in London, we had absolutely no tolerance for unattended packages. My favorite stories were about people who accidentally left their lunch on a bench only to have it destroyed by the bomb squad. In Heathrow, an unattended suitcase instantly drew attention, and everyone held their breath until it was claimed.
“Tolerance” gets us nowhere. Tolerance allows a stench in the community and accepts a lower standard of behavior until we become the victims, then yowls for justice. In short, tolerance cannot stand up to reality. Compassion, on the other hand, says that we all screw up but we’re going to work together to make this better. Compassion can withstand harsh reality unchanged. Compassion demands more, not less. Compassion builds a stronger community and is intolerant of evil.
What does this mean for Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, Syria, New York or Portland? It means we report suspicious behavior to the authorities. It means we speak up when good people do stupid things. It means we build a mindset of preparedness so that when things go wrong, we know our options and can make a rational decision to act in a way that improves the situation. There’s a beautiful story about a Paris bookstore that sheltered people during the crisis. This is what is required of us: to hold on to those nearest to us and to act. Most of us will never be heroes of the headlines. That’s okay. We probably wouldn’t look good in the limelight. It’s far better to be able to look yourself in the eye the next day, knowing you did everything in your power. Make no mistake; the battles are coming.
National security... I'm a hawk. I tend toward pragmatism first and ideals second when it comes to keeping our nation safe. I don't like it but I'm strangely astounded when I meet those who are squeamish regarding what is necessary to protect a nation.
Yet the Syrian refugee crisis and the parallels with WWII eat at me. I think of the Syrian monastery that deepened my faith and the friends who have family still in Syria. The choices before us are horrific. The threat of terrorists posing as refugees is acute. If we welcome large numbers of refugees, I am certain there will be terrorists among them. Many will be unsuccessful, but still, people will die.
If we don't welcome refugees, many will certainly die.
Our politicians have a responsibility to our citizens rather than to the world. That said, their responsibility is complex. Protecting our nation is paramount but requires a perspective far beyond an election cycle. If we welcome refugees on a scale with the vastness of our freedom, such hospitality will ripple for generations of Christian and Muslim Arabs.
We are America, saying that freedom may be dangerous but we will embrace the uncertainty because freedom is this important. We've been preaching it; we need to live it. Let them come see a land where they are innocent until proven guilty but we will sacrifice our lives to take down a murderer.
Yes, it will be the most dangerous of humanitarian missions. But instead of looking at all the reasons why we can't, let's put our energy into the logistics of making "welcome" a reasonable option.
I wrote last night about rebuilding our nation through individual excellence. This morning I would like to draw your attention to a group that is working to help Iraqi women and children rebuild their lives and stabilize their nation.
The core problem they seek to address is the backlog of congenital birth defects, particularly cardiac defects, caused by the past decades of malnutrition and exposure to mustard gas and depleted uranium. Yes, it feels as though it might be politically controversial, and I don't have personal experience with them to know how the back room conversations go. But in providing heart surgeries for children, they are doing something powerful to heal the damage of the past thirty years and to create stabilizing goodwill.
Caitlyn Jenner and gay marriage didn’t upset me.
Clinton, Trump, Walker, Bush, etc. etc . etcetera…
The Cascadia Faultline.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels strapped to a powder keg tonight. Divisiveness has marked the past decade, and in this time of comprehensive turmoil we are on a dangerous trajectory. We have too many options for banner issues. Emotions dictate too much of our public discourse, and we are vulnerable to anyone who shows any promise of leadership.
Why do I write this now, in the wake of the Chattanooga shooting? I’ve been listening to loyal Americans, including military families, talk about their disappointment with our country. Our Sheepdogs are frustrated as they gear up yet again. All political sides within the nation seem to despise the others. Add the Planned Parenthood scandal and the attack on our dis-armed Marines, and we are ripe for a groundswell of “we’ve had it.”
Our society has devalued human life, undermined the police and military who protect us, and divided ourselves not so much by class or race as by our opinions. We are ruled by blame, whether for ourselves or for others, and we use the blame and labeling as an excuse to avoid getting our hands dirty in the quest for real solutions.
We are drifting due to lack of leadership, and we are justifiably afraid that new leaders may lead us astray.
There’s an old church joke: parishes get the priests they deserve, not the priests they want. I think it may be true for nations too. Therefore the solution is not to ask for a better leader, but to build a better nation from the ground up. I’ve been studying one of my heroes, and in recent weeks I haven’t been able to shake one recurring comment: He wasn’t the most talented one. But he was the hardest worker. Meditate on that concept. Where can you challenge yourself? What opinions have not undergone the test of fire? Do your loved ones get your best or your worst? What do strangers get from you?
What can you do for your country? It’s time to answer that question.
The blog has been quiet but life has been anything but. The medical sagas continue both for myself and my family. Mr. WatchCat has transitioned to a leadership role. Friends have drawn near, pulled away, and in some circumstances, both. My writing career is taxiing for takeoff but still hasn’t gotten clearance from the tower. I feel old and young at once, with a long list of lessons learned yet still feeling like I might make all the same mistakes again.
Is it wiser to fight out an issue with someone you love, or should you just let it go?
When does the quest for perfection become self-defeating?
When is it better to just fix someone’s problem for them?
When do you just cast it all upon the waters and see what comes?
(And when do you send a second email and risk sounding desperate?)
April had some tremendous moments but May feels shaky. Death is all around, a mentor’s divorce caught me by surprise, and there’s a shortage of adult conversation in my life right now. A new book, Ashley’s War, rocked my world and raised a few new regrets, but also inspired me to take ownership of my life. I have mid-year resolutions to write in the coming days.
Forgive me for not making a clean break with the blog. I don’t know who still reads but I need this place to think via my keyboard. Is someone out there walking this crazy road too?
Oh, one more thing: I did my first climbing wall a week and a half ago. I loved it, want to do it again. And I messed up my back further in the process. It’s pretty typical of how life goes these days.
"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -Sirach 4:28
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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8
As many of you are aware, the PJCountry blog disappeared in November 2008.
I'm doing my best to help the pararescue community by sharing PJ-related news and events on my blog. The following information may be helpful:
You will find answers to many questions at pararescue.com and specialtactics.com
If you're ready to become a PJ, you'll need to decide between Active Duty and Reserve. This will determine who will handle your official recruitment. Visit Contacts and POCs to find the appropriate person or email me.
304th Pararescue Team (Reserve) (Oregon)
If you're on the west coast near Oregon and are considering being a PJ/CRO on the Portland Pararescue Team (commitment of 4 years beyond training), contact TSgt Stanley Iakopo at stanley.iakopo AT us.af.mil or email me.
I have no official role with pararescue or other SpecOps but I know enough to get you connected to the right people. Email to CAT at THEWATCHCAT dot NET
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B
[For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.