Welcome to The WatchCat
Wednesday, December 12 2018 @ 11:49 am PST

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General NewsThis past Memorial Day, an old friend asked a serious question: What does it mean when we say that someone has fought and died for our freedom? She could understand the concept that the military keeps us alive & safe, but her complaint was that she really didn't see the correlation between her concept of freedom and what the military does. As my attempts to explain failed and as the conversation disintegrated into "politicians just say that to advance their agenda" I started to wonder what kind of skewed understanding the general population has of freedom.


the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.
exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
the power to determine action without restraint.
political or national independence.
personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

1. Freedom, independence, liberty refer to an absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one's rights and powers. Freedom emphasizes the opportunity given for the exercise of one's rights, powers, desires, or the like: freedom of speech or conscience; freedom of movement. Independence implies not only lack of restrictions but also the ability to stand alone, unsustained by anything else

(taken from http://dictionary.reference.com)

The more I read these definitions, and others like them, I realize how much gets taken for granted. There's another phrase for you..."taken for granted." We assume that these things just landed in our laps and that there is no ongoing cost to ourselves or others.

If this still doesn't make sense to you, talk with someone who has served in the military, in intelligence analysis or in any number of public safety capacities. Bonus points if you find someone who has worked in a place where those freedoms do not exist, where "Human rights" is a watchdog group and not a way of life. We've been the world's policeman for so long that people have forgotten how high the cost has been for what we and others enjoy.
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Personal update

General NewsA few comments and then I'll try to get a "real" post up for all you patient people...

The last few weeks have been pretty brutal. Granted, I've gone through far worse, but not while in this kind of weaker condition. Nearly passing out while seated is never a good sign! Ditto for being so tired that it's not worth it to move out of an uncomfortable position. I got through my grandmother's memorial service, but pretty much had to write off the weekend. Today is the anniversary of my other grandmother's death. And somewhere between the two dates I had a setback in my writing career. You'll appreciate the irony when I say that I'm doing better than I was; despite those major issues, a lot of problems that popped up in the last few weeks did get resolved.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is un-learning some lessons of the past, such as:

-never asking for or expecting help.
-pushing through fatigue and pain.
-carrying the load for other people.

There's more, but you get the idea. These last few weeks I've had to abandon those well-worn paths, and it's been hard to not let it get to me. I have to remember that there are good reasons to change in these ways. Asking for help is probably a good thing for me to learn, and while I expect to get back to the other two, I'm learning to see that I can't do them all the time. It's hard to let go of that part of myself.

Of course, that begs the question: Are we really defined by the things we do?
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Memorial Day

General NewsSeeing a Fallen Soldier Home

As Memorial Day Nears, A Single Image That Continues to Haunt

Then from Blackfive:

"Being a good “daddy” is the best way that I know to honor all of my friends who’ve given their lives in our defense. That’s the best way to honor the sacrifice of so many for our freedom – ensuring that our future is worthy of the sacrifice of their tomorrows."

This Memorial Day is both odd and poignant for me, juxtaposed as it is between death and new life. My grandmother was a Marine wife. She had a way of honoring my grandfather's service and supporting his civilian life all at once. Her death, and the death of two other family friends this week, has given me new eyes on Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, during the last few weeks I was doing some research on Mike Monsoor. He still amazes me. I find myself wondering "how do we best honor his sacrifice?" and I see something of the answer in my grandmother's life and in the articles linked above.

We never, ever, forget. If they live in our hearts, they will be present in the way we do our jobs, the way we raise our children, the way we support the grieving, the way we face our troubles. Some of us will remember better if we visit a graveside or attend a service. Others will remember by doing a job well or by caring for a child. I read the Blackfive post and the statement quoted above resonated. On Memorial Day, we honor those who sacrificed their future for us. The fallen become the aunts and uncles of our kids. They are our other parents. They are our brothers and sisters, no longer physically present but part of our family nonetheless. Giving them a part of our future is the least we can do.

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Family emergency

General NewsJust a very quick note... I fully intended to get back to regular posting this week (I was out of town last week) but life has taken a painful turn in the form of the imminent death of my grandmother. When paired with some of the other things going on in my life, it's just a lot to handle at once. Please be patient; I'll try to get some good content up as soon as possible.

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Some closure

General NewsLockerbie Bomber Megrahi Dies in Libya
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Clean Your Wounds!

General NewsSorry to give you something so awful first thing in the morning, but it's an important note, especially for you macho types who don't like bandaids etc. Clean those wounds well at first opportunity!

Woman Contracts Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Zip Lining Accident

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The Little Things

General NewsI feel like growling right now but y'all don't deserve that. I've been on a short fuse lately due to a handful of situations where I've been unable to depend upon people to keep their word, and it throws my life into chaos. Most have had decent reasons for what they've done, ranging from illness to overcommitment to "my unit got called in", but the quantity of unreliability has been raising my normally-low blood pressure to levels of concern. (Yes, my excellent doctor is on top of this, but if I don't mellow in two weeks she's going to try to send me to a yoga class!!) It's just been the sheer quantity of changes that's getting to me.

But on a positive note, I'm really learning to appreciate the people who step up and make an effort to do something nice. The little things matter. Today I was driving home from the airport, emotionally spent, but when I stopped at my favorite coffee place they had my drink ready by the time I got up to the window. They'd paid attention to who I was, and in that moment I just needed that reminder that I was more than my debit card. One of you called to offer dinner and ended up agreeing to fix my toilet. Another told me that a care package was on the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You might think these are small gestures, but they mean so much.

I guess all of this is to say that you shouldn't underestimate even your small contributions to the world. You don't know how people might be struggling, and you may never know how much they love you for those acts of kindness.
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Homes Needed for Veteran's Cats

General NewsClackamas County Dog Shelter Goes to the Cats
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The rights of states and citizens

General NewsWSJ: The Tea Party's Inner ACLU

"Some tea partiers also want to distinguish between U.S. citizens and foreigners, as if that would matter to their victims. Anyone who takes up arms against the U.S., fails to wear an enemy uniform and targets civilians is an unlawful enemy combatant regardless of citizenship. "

I found the article quite thought-provoking as it juxtaposes the issues of federal powers with the need for realistic counter-terrorism strategy. I wish this was at the forefront of American dialogue instead of so many trivial issues. Is Virginia correct in aggressively separating state law enforcement from federal law enforcement? I doubt it, but it does raise the issue of state versus federal law and powers. The issue of states' rights has been creeping into the news more often lately. The issue of the rights of citizenship also bears discussion. So far, we've shied away from the policies of revoking citizenship that are common in other countries. As we continue to deal with enemy combatants who hold US citizenship, it's going to be worth our time to examine the issue of citizenship.

States' rights and the right to citizenship. We need to define them in serious constitutional dialogue before the media defines them for the next generation.

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General NewsI'm feeling really stupid and...well, a lot of other things right now. I really need to learn to ignore the doorbell, but there are a lot of bad scenarios that go through my head at that idea. So yesterday I opened the door.

The kid was well-dressed and upbeat, and he introduced himself and shook my hand. We spent a couple minutes chatting while I waited for him to get around to making his point. (In my defense I will say that my stance through all this was quite strategic. He wouldn't be crossing my threshold without a fight.) He reminded a bit of one of my former Marine EMT classmates who I'd really liked, although if I'd thought that one through a little more it would have been another red flag.

Long story short, he worked really hard to make sure I liked him and wanted him to succeed. Then he told me what he was selling -magazine subscriptions- and when I balked at the price, he offered to cut me a really great deal. He also assured me that I'd have the opportunity to cancel, and he successfully got my $100 check for several year's worth of my favorite news magazine.

No sooner had I shut the door than I got that really uneasy feeling that comes when you've just screwed something up. I put the receipt on the desk, started to walk away, then grabbed it again and re-read the fine print: cancellations in writing only, checks cashed immediately, verbal agreements are void, no refunds after the 3-day cancellation window. I started researching his company and found that while they are a legitimate sales firm, they have a grade of F from the BBB. So, I waited just long enough to consult with Mr. WatchCat on how "nuclear" we would make our strategy, and got things rolling to cancel the order and protect our $100. We're keeping the nuclear options in our back pocket but will have no problem making their lives miserable.

What really gets under my skin, though, is the realization that he got to me through my compulsion to be nice. I was brought up to be sweet and polite, and although there are many good things about that, I'm sick of getting hurt because of being afraid of what people will think if I raise a fuss. I'm sick of living up to low expectations. And I'm really sick of overriding the perfectly good warning signals my instincts produce.

Needless to say, it's been a rough 24 hrs. I've been flashing back to other times when being nice has gotten me hurt. Now it seems like my world is divided into the people who think I'm sweet but weak, and the people who are scared of me. I'm all the more grateful for the handful of people who see me as "sweet in a .50 caliber kind of way," as one friend said. I just need to remember to show the .50 caliber sweetness to the right people.