Welcome to The WatchCat
Wednesday, December 12 2018 @ 10:53 am PST

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Doing It Right

General NewsIt's been a crazy, exhausting week, but I want to give very public accolades to a couple of companies who have earned my business:

Dutch Bros Coffee... they have a great product, always have a smile and upbeat attitude for me, and have sometimes given me free drink-size upgrades when I'm having a really bad day.

Les Schwab Tires... While they had to special-order a replacement for me, they loaned me a used part to get me back on the road immediately.

(I'm also very thankful for cop friends who take care of me so I don't have to wait for a tow truck.)

Chipotle... They comped a meal when I forgot my wallet.

Costco... Their return policy makes product failures an annoyance rather than a financial hit.

In a world where life has cheapened and consumer goods aren't meant to last, I appreciate such companies all the more.
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The Good of Regret

General NewsLearning from our mistakes is harder than it seems.

Yes, we can probably avoid duplicate scenarios, but what about the larger themes? How do we take the rotten stuff and truly make something good of it?

I have a lot to think about as I move forward, but I'm finding that regrets can be useful. While I might not find myself sick on a Cairo street or breezing through a college program that was too easy for me, I can look at the deeper issues. Why did I go? Why didn't I switch? Why didn't I persevere?

Take an honest look at the questions. Then fast-forward ten or twenty years into your future. What challenges will you regret not accepting? Where did you let a talent die? When did you refuse to leave something that wasn't working?

The good news is that you haven't made all of those choices yet. So much of the future is a mystery, but I know a few things that I would regret. And since I've had those thought patterns before, it's going to take a conscious choice to avoid repeating history.

Where did you go wrong? That's your place to start.
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What Dreams May Come

General NewsI'm writing this on some borrowed time, so forgive me if this gets a little disjointed.

Ideas of vocation, dreams, and the like have been a recurring theme in my life these past few weeks. The next few years are somewhat set, and I'm trying to maintain perspective by planning for the long term.

I recently read someone's New Year's motivational post in which they asked people to e-mail with their dreams for the future. Suddenly I realized I could no longer say what mine were.

I read an article on vocation which suggested that motherhood and military service are two of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated vocations, especially on a spiritual level.

And finally, an article on "Finding Time," which I linked in a scramble, asked whether we would really want our children to live their lives the way we live ours. Facebook, TV, house-cleaning...is this really what we want to look back upon?

I remember a conversation with a friend: if money wasn't a factor, what would you do?

I'm torn between the worlds of medicine and national security/public safety. Both are longstanding interests. In some ways, medicine is the more obvious choice. It's attainable, I already enjoy using the medical knowledge and skills that I have, and of course it pays well. I think I wish I'd become a doctor in my 20s so that I could have the knowledge but then switch careers in my 40s.

I'd switch, partly because that's my temperament (I like amassing skills but not being pigeonholed), but largely because my heart doesn't beat faster at the idea of practicing. I think I'm afraid I'd get fed up with all the bad patients (like me.) I want to solve people's problems, not make money off of them.

I may regret saying this next part publicly.

Someday I want to rescue victims of human trafficking. Government or NGO, I don't really care. I'd need to find a way to protect my family from retaliation. But I think I could be very happy with that slice of the public safety pie.

There's also a place I want to live while doing it (involving a significant commute) but that's all I intend to say about that side of it.

So there it is, my dream. I have a lot of planning to do, not to mention years of applicable training.

What's yours?
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Goodbye 2012

General NewsI'm sure there are many wise things I'm supposed to say. 2012 changed my life forever and you'd think I would have something profound to say. Well... I'm working on it. I'm thinking via my keyboard and my monitor, ears perked for a particular sound, ignoring the routine duties that so desperately need to get done before the end of the day.

This year has taught me a lot about what I'm made of, both good and bad. In some areas, I'm tougher than I realize. In other ways, I realize just how destructive certain mindsets have been. Wait, let me claim that properly: I realize how wrong I've been in attitudes and resulting treatment of certain people. And amidst all that are certain dreams that refuse to die even as I forgive those who have hindered me.

2013 is shaping up to be a tough year. One close friend is having serious medical issues, while another is coping with a family member's cancer. And circumstances with another close friend who is deployed have me very nervous. The WatchCat household is hoping to move to NY at the end of 2013. Meanwhile, there are the dreams.

Perhaps the one useful thing I can say is that you have to keep moving forward, knowing that it's okay that you don't have all the answers. You dig in and try, loving the people who are with you because love is one of the few things that lasts. Love while you can, pursue what dreams you can. And trust that what we see of our lives is a tiny piece of everything that life means.
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Gun Control is Using Both Hands

General NewsI'm a firm supporter of all of the Bill of Rights, and that includes the 2nd Amendment. But in light of the recent gun arguments, I want to reiterate one thing:

Rights include responsibilities.

I don't know what measures Nancy Lanza took to secure her guns, but apparently it wasn't enough. I don't know if she kept the guns because she was afraid of her son. It's possible, and I don't want to attack her memory when I don't know what all she might have tried. Life is risk. We can't prevent every atrocity.

However, I'm concerned that my fellow 2nd Amendment supporters sometimes have more enthusiasm than sense. Sales are up, but as far as I'm aware there hasn't been a corresponding uptick in training. How about gun safes? Or other forms of self-defense?

I also hear a recurring comment from the anti-gun types: "I don't even want to touch a gun." So if you're in the middle of a shooting, and the shooter drops a weapon within your reach, are you going to let him take it back? What happens when you're at someone's house and you find a poorly-secured gun? Or what if a student has a gun that they just brought to show off? Whether to learn to use a firearm is your own choice, but learning how to safely handle a gun is on par with CPR for adult responsibility.

If you choose to own or carry a weapon, you need to accept the burdens of safe storage and safe operation. If a domestic situation has deteriorated, you need to decide whether the benefits of keeping a weapon outweigh the risk.

Let's exercise our rights in such a way that our critics will have no leverage to take them away.
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Random Acts of Violence

General NewsEnough time has passed since the Clackamas shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting that we can now discuss the issues in good conscience.

Predictable as it has been, the gun debate worries me. Ammo and gun sales skyrocket, the media spins the story to sound like gun supporters are either trigger-happy lunatics or are either too calloused or too ashamed to speak up. Meanwhile, those with friends on both sides are getting tired of being demonized for their position. Lots of raw emotion. The nation mourns the loss of its children yet debates the wrong issues.

I've been fierce in my rebuttals to those who have taken the "you reap what you sow" approach when it comes to gun control. Such comments were utterly inappropriate during that first week.

Blaming the "lack of gun control" is rather like blaming the fertilizer for the weeds in my yard. It might factor in to the issue, but removing the fertilizer isn't going to solve the problem. There are existing seeds, problems from the neighbor's yard, and good plants that are too weak to hold their ground.

I've also heard people getting on the "access to mental health care" bandwagon. Yes, it's important, and costs are a concern. I doubt that government programs are going to have a significant impact on the tough cases, but hey, it's worth a try.

But what about the speculation that Adam Lanza's rampage was motivated by the fact that his mother was trying to get him committed into a mental health facility? Would "better access" really have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting? Or do we just lock up all the 1-year-olds who display signs of rage?

There will always be sociopaths. And they will always find a way to harm others if they want to.

We do our society an incredible disservice when we frame the abortion debate as a religious issue. We have a society that teaches the value of animals and trees yet aborts its own future. All of us can be very good at lying to ourselves, but deep down we know something is wrong with killing the youngest form of human life.

Yet we've tried to convince this generation that it's ok to kill an embryo if it gets in the way of what we want in life. These 20-somethings who kill the innocent are calling us out on our BS. We've taught them to accept the killing of a fetus, so what reason do they have to value the lives of children? What value do they place on their own lives?

Various laws might band-aid issues, but senseless violence is going to be a way of life until we teach our kids to value human life at all stages.

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Christmas Wish

General NewsI'm exhausted and winding down after several hugely stressful days, but I wanted to take a minute to wish you Merry Christmas. I don't know whether many of you know just how much you mean to me, but I'm thinking about you tonight, hoping you are where you want to be and with people you love. I didn't get Christmas cards out this year, but.... Well, let's just say that if you've gotten a card from me in the past, or if we've had significant correspondence this past year, one of my Christmas wishes would be to just sit and have a hot coffee or cocoa with you. Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for living your lives with honor.

Best wishes for a merry Christmas, my friends.
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A Flight 93 World

General NewsWhat made Flight 93 different from the 3 other crashed flights of 9/11?

The common answer is courage, and I don't deny for a second that the passengers showed extraordinary bravery in taking the plane back from the hijackers. But there is something more fundamental.

Up until 9/11, the prevailing wisdom for dealing with hijackings was to survive by not causing trouble, operating under the assumption that the hijackers want to get out alive. Play nice. Don't draw attention to yourself, and it will all work out. Give them what they want, and no one gets hurt.

But the passengers of Flight 93 heard what was happening on the ground, and they had the wisdom and courage to recognize that the paradigms had shifted. They knew that the old methods wouldn't get them out alive. Perhaps most importantly, they realized that it wasn't only about protecting themselves any more.

The horrific crime of the Sandy Hook shooting is becoming America's Flight 93. We've assumed that basic decency would protect our youngest children from attack. We've assumed that schools can still look something like what we remember. And if the shooting in Connecticut didn't wake us up, an incident in Bellingham, WA, where a stranger punched a baby in the head, should open our eyes to the threats that endanger our children.

These threats are horrific enough, but there are also rumors about Al Qaeda planning specific attacks on children. I can only imagine how they are responding to our nation's grief right now. No doubt the Sandy Hook shooting has emboldened our enemies to strike at our hearts via our children.

We have a choice of Flight 93 magnitude. We can handle our children's safety the same way we have in the past, and hope it turns out well. Or we can face an ugly truth with courage and put our money, time and attention into doing whatever it takes to keep them safe in a dangerous world. Good parents have always been ready to give their lives for the children, and we may soon be called upon to make that choice.
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General NewsI'm struggling to do the right thing as the political uproar over the Connecticut shooting gets louder. There's a lot to say but the decent thing to do is wait. Unfortunately it seems like just about everyone else is jumping in, and there's a part of me that's afraid that the momentum will create fast, unwise changes in our country.

Still, I'm going to attempt to not publish anything on the gun debate or the accompanying rhetoric for a couple more days. However, I'm gathering links, having private discussions, and likely writing a post-dated blog post. My comments will come. But for now, I will simply remind you to pray for the victims and their families.
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General NewsI don't know if there are words to describe my feelings right now.

I tend to get irritated when someone describes a particular situation as "a parent's worst nightmare" because it implies a certain hierarchy of tragedy. Truth is, parents have a lot of "worst nightmares." Cancer, accidents, abuse....


Their child committing a horrific crime.

Their child turning on them.

But if today's shooting in Connecticut isn't a parent's worst nightmare, it has to be close, because it rolls three of those into one. As I held my son after getting the news, I tried to imagine being one of the parents in this situation. And I can't imagine how I would breathe, let alone go on.

And I'm so angry at all the gun control finger pointing that is going on already. Blaming the political stance of a large percentage of the USA is grotesque in the face of such grief. If the parents want to make statements, let them. It's their right. But everyone else needs to hold their tongues at least until after the funerals. Blame games have no place here.

I have my opinion, and will do my best to wait to share it. It's far better to put my energy into praying for the victims and their families.