Welcome to The WatchCat
Wednesday, September 19 2018 @ 11:52 am PDT

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Worthy Causes

General NewsD-Day Veteran Beaten, Wife Killed in Robbery

Fallen SEAL John Faas Memorial Scholarship

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Padding their stats

General NewsUzbekistan's Program of Secretly Sterilizing Women

I think this story speaks for itself. As in so many other parts of that region, they have lost all sense of the value of life. All I can say is that this will not end well for them.

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Tuesday Scramble

General NewsMilitary Exposures: Chemical, Physical and Environmental Hazards

Best Breakfast: The Breakfast That Will Get You in the Best Shape of Your Life

Blackfive: The Spectre of Un-Won War

Marines Fight to Protect Crosses at Camp Pendleton as Atheist Group Seeks Removal

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The Secret Service Scandal

General NewsSo Pres. Obama will be "angry" if it's true?

Before I laugh too hard, let me be clear: I have no inside knowledge of this case.

Point 1) This was not illegal activity according to local laws. Don't misunderstand; I abhor all angles of prostitution. I could say a lot about the devastating harm of the sex trade and the impact on participants at all levels. But the only local issue was failure to pay the hotel for the "extra guest" and the conflict that caused. [EDIT 1: It now appears that there was also a dispute over "paying up."]

Point 2) The Secret Service is staying very quiet about all this.

Point 3) If the alleged misconduct took place, it is primarily an issue of security vulnerability, i.e. potential blackmail fodder which could coerce agents into participation in security breaches.

Point 4) White House staffers were staying at the same hotel.

Pure speculation: Are we sure that the agents on this advance team were not engaging the services of the very legal Columbian prostitutes for someone in the White House entourage? While it's very plausible that these agents crossed the line, it's equally plausible that they are allowing themselves to be scapegoats for the people they protect. Again, I have no way of knowing if this is the case, but I thought it was worth raising the question. [EDIT 2: Looks like a Senator is raising a similar question about the White House.]

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People We Meet

General NewsFirst, I should say that I've had a great Easter! I'm exhausted but I expected to be in far worse shape by this point, especially as our biggest church service went an hour longer than normal...aka nearly four hours from start to finish! But it was beautiful, uplifting, and particularly poignant as I looked around and realized how many people there had lost a loved one in recent memory. This isn't a theology blog, so won't spend a lot of time on the subject except to say that on Easter, we celebrate the ultimate rescue mission. Christ went to hell and back to rescue us and the people we love.

Other topics...

I must be mellowing, because I agreed today with a friend who remarked that true life is not found in political debate or the rise and fall of nations, but rather in our interactions with others. Yet merely being in another's presence isn't enough; we must see them for who they are rather than what they can do for us. How often do we do that? How often do we relegate even our most beloved to the role of servants of our needs?

Finally, I had the fun of sitting down with a SEAL hopeful to discuss strategies for qualifying. It was a good talk and I loved having that opportunity. While the USAF and Pararescue are my closest affiliation, I don't forget that this chapter of my life began with the story of Mike Monsoor. It's been an amazing journey, and today was a reminder of what a privilege I've been given. I get to have a small part in the preparation of some of our finest Americans. Sometimes that means cheering them along, and other times it means busting their tails and making sure they don't waste anybody's time in the wrong avenue of service, but either way it's an amazing experience. Thank you all for the part you play in that.

Well, my 2 AM revelry is starting to catch up with me, so I'd better close this off. A few of you owe me emails, so let's make it a great Monday!
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Feline Therapy

General NewsPrison Inmates Given Pet Cats
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Desires of the Heart

General NewsI met someone this weekend.

No, not like THAT. It was a female, middle-to-senior member of the intelligence community. It was a quick introduction, too, with more unsaid than said. Just names and greetings, no explanations.

Given current circumstances, there was nothing I could ask for.

Someday...

I'm learning to have faith that some dreams will come late. If something is truly not attainable now, that doesn't mean the dream has to die. Sometimes when we can't have what we long for, we kill the desire, but in doing so we kill a piece of ourselves.

Alternate strategy? It's the whispered "someday," the conversation with God where we say how badly we want this but we're willing to wait. It's the balance between contentment and holding on to our dreams.

Don't worry. Dreams are stubborn things. If they're good ones, they'll live unless actively killed.

The good ones live and breathe "someday."
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The Attitude Battle

General NewsI hope all my protestant and Catholic friends had a very joyous Easter! We Orthodox Christians still have another week of hard focus on spiritual discipline before we get to celebrate. Our Holy Week is always a challenge, but like anything else, the hard work makes for a greater payoff when it comes time to celebrate Easter.

This year, because I've been unable follow many of the traditional rules, I've chosen the battlefield of attitude. Some of that has been inspired by friends whose positive outlook amazes me, and some of it has been sheer necessity for handling issues at hand. The deeper I get into this struggle, the more I admire those who succeed.

I was reading old emails today and I came across a year-old note from one of you. One of the comments was, "I get the feeling you are struggling with more then you let others know." Well...yes. Maybe one of these days I'll be strong enough that nothing but joy will show, although I suspect that my own journey has more to do with being strong enough to be open with people. But yes, there's a lot going on in my life right now, and for most of the issues the only thing I can control is my attitude.

It's easy to talk about positive attitude until the stakes get bigger. When you realize that someone is on a harmful path or that a good outcome is the least probable, it forces you to evaluate what you have. There's not much that can't be stripped away, and if we have something "extra" like good friends and family, we have to recognize it for the blessing that it is. But family and friends can disappear too. At the end, we have four things: faith, integrity, love and attitude. When situations go bad, we can make our decisions based on our weakness or based on these four things that remain.

Pray for me, and if I know your name I'll pray for you. A positive attitude is an hour-by-hour, situational choice. It's not easy; sometimes the only comfort is knowing that we've made a choice to hang on to what's important.
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Stubborn Scot/Scandinavian

General NewsIt probably doesn't surprise any of you that I'm not the world's greatest patient. I'm not a complainer but other than that, managing me is like, well, herding cats. ;) I'll follow instructions for maybe two days before I start going rogue and calling the shots on what I think my health requires.

You can probably guess where I'm the worst. Yup, you got it: pain management. And I don't mean overdoing the painkillers.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to get a treatment from a Canadian Massage Therapist. For those of you who don't know, Canadian RMTs are required to have several thousand more hours of training than massage therapists in the USA. They're bona fide medical practitioners, more like our physical therapists than the technicians who work in our spas.

To top it off, the person I went to has a stellar reputation. She also has a very poor opinion of spa technicians in the USA, which set her up to think she could probably get my back and leg cramps sorted out in one session. She got my medical history and then started exploring the muscles in my back. Suddenly she went from very talkative to one word: "Oh."

As she checked other muscle groups, my response became, "yeah, that one too." As a 50 minute session extended to an hour and a quarter, the great unspoken in the room was, "you've been living like this?" But for me, the funniest moment was when she offered me a heating pad to use when my muscles lock up during the night. I nodded, but didn't say what was on my mind: I hadn't thought of doing something other than stretching to relieve that pain.

I come by it honestly; you probably wouldn't believe some of the stories about my grandfathers and great-grandfathers. (The women probably never told their stories.) It's a great heritage, but some of us need to remember that it's ok to get an intervention from time to time. Seriously. The world won't end and we'll be freeing ourselves for more opportunities. We might even give someone a challenge in the meantime.
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Respect

General NewsI've had a lot of conversations about respect lately. I can't begin to cover them all, but I can still make a few comments here.

Someone shocked me yesterday by announcing they plan to retire from the military after they hit the 20 year mark. That's still a few years off, and I just didn't see that advance plan coming. I thought that if circumstances demanded at that time, they'd get out, but the way the promotions and top assignments were coming, I thought he'd end up a General. It's been almost 24 hrs and I'm still trying to catch my breath! In my mind, he's too good at what he does to retire. As I get over my growling, though, I'm realizing that I have huge respect for the decision he's making. He's putting his family's needs ahead of his own career, and I respect the hell out of him for it.

On the flip side, I'm working hard to learn how to communicate respect to the guys in my life, and it's not all smooth sailing. These last two years have taught me a lot of humility, but still my respect is not easily won. I'm intelligent, detail-oriented, and good at quite a few things. Thus I can be hard on anyone who struggles to keep up. I know that's not always fair; some of these people have tremendous talents in other areas. Right now I'm feeling terrible because I was a little too honest when answering one man's questions about another man's skills in a particular department. After the conversation I realized that I had probably communicated disrespect, which was an awful thing to do to the relationship of the two men involved. Because I spoke my mind, I don't know how to undo the damage I might have inflicted. Part of me hopes that the hearer just passes over it due to the common culture of disrespect in the world, but I doubt it. His respect has always been hard to win. I really screwed up here.

I'm trying to do better. I'm trying to communicate respect to those who deserve it, and to those around them. But for my male readers... Please understand that women who want to show respect to men are swimming against the tide. Our culture discourages it, and it can be hard to find examples of women who respect their men without being doormats. Most of us are scared to death of being doormats. Neither men nor women can win this battle alone. Please forgive us when we misspeak in front of other men; once we realize what has happened, your kindness and forgiveness will lift you even higher in our eyes.