Welcome to The WatchCat
Monday, September 25 2017 @ 04:38 am PDT

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Baby Steps

General NewsI don't want to try to guess what percentage of my life I have "control" over. I can't make people fix their relationships. I can't change the choices of the past and where they've brought me. I only have a 50/50 shot at getting my child to wake up or sleep in a particular time window, and I count myself lucky if the food I put in front of him gets eaten instead of turned into physics experiments. In some of these things I may have "choices" but the only good options are predetermined by love and integrity. Thus I'm not sure how much they count as a choice.

But I can choose to work on my own relationships. I can take the tiny opportunities for professional development and make the best of them. I can choose what I eat. I can choose to celebrate even miniscule steps forward. It's all I've got. And I can get down in the dumps about how I wish things were or I can do what I can to make something good.

And now, off to it!
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Close to Home

General NewsFight for Elliott

At this time of year, I know we're besieged with requests for funds for many worthy charities. It can be hard to determine who to help amidst so much need. I try to take a "close to home" approach in which I give to causes that have some kind of personal connection for me. Fight for Elliott is a fundraiser started by Marcus Luttrell for the medical needs of SEAL Elliott Miller, who was severely wounded in Ramadi in late 2006. I would need to check a few details, but my suspicion is that on some level Elliott was taking Mike Monsoor's slot. I don't want to speculate too much, but whether or not that's true, Elliott Miller needs our support. Please consider contributing.

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Fierce Honor

General News Wounded Ranger Salutes Commander Despite Injuries

"Josh, whom everybody in the room (over 50 people) assumed to be unconscious, began to move his right arm under the blanket in a diligent effort to salute the Commander as is customary during these ceremonies. Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes, and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm and rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen."

And so today the messy house, the annoying exterminator, the long to-do list and even spats with friends fade into the background where they belong. This fierce honor stands apart.

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1 am

General NewsOne of the most helpful books I've read this year is Dangerous Instincts: Use an FBI Profiler's Tactics to Avoid Unsafe Situations"

I'll admit that I didn't do all the exercises, but one stood out: Think about the major decisions you've made and whether they were good or bad, and find the common threads in each category.

Thinking through the decisions that went badly was a serious "aha" moment. The worst decisions I've made were attempts to relieve stress by changing my circumstances, when I felt pressure to decide instantly, and when I only saw limited options open. "Decide, or else" was the theme of those times.

That knowledge has made a difference. Stress has been really high these last couple months, and I want relief. I want to break loose, live somewhere else, do something else. I had some enticing opportunities a couple weeks ago. And a few nights ago at 1 am, I was so close to writing an incautious email because it felt like something, anything, had to give. But because of this book, I was able to take a step back and say, "No, I'm not in a good place for making decisions right now. These things can wait." And I'm very glad I gave myself some space, because even two days later I can see that those things would have been mistakes.

You may or may not be prone to 1 am bad decisions. But you can save a lot of heartache by evaluating your decision-making processes. Take a look at Dangerous Instincts. It might keep you safe.

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Internet Privacy Laws

General NewsForeign Policy: How We Killed Privacy

Groklaw: Forced Exposure

I have some quibbles with both pieces, but the information contained therein is worth your time. The WatchCat household has been having some animated discussions on this topic recently, and we're still researching some of the legal angles.

A couple off-the-cuff recommendations/plans from those discussions:

1) Don't use Windows 8. Windows 7 is tolerable for now, but for long term go Mac, or follow the example of the German secret police and go for Linux. See The Issues of Windows 8

2) I hope to eventually offer encryption/decryption keys for our correspondence.

3) Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in a crowded bar or coffee shop. That's the rough equivalent of the expectation of privacy you have on the internet.

4) Use a paid email service and encourage associates to use the same service. There's a modicum of extra privacy within a domain, particularly in academic or healthcare domains.

5) Delete cookies regularly. Block pop-ups. Get more vigilant about all the stuff we should have been doing all along.

6) Use IronKey for sensitive web browsing and passwords. Yes, the NSA can crack it. But it will take more time and effort.

And if you're wondering about me, the blog, etc.... I know I'm not truly hidden. My family asked me to take my real name off the blog years ago, and I did, but I understand that nothing truly disappears from the internet. I stand by my opinions here, and I will take consequences as needed. I'm pretty sure the NSA knows how to find me. But I won't give anyone a roadmap to me or my loved ones. I live by rule #3, and I encourage you to do the same.

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Conversations

General NewsThe context is too complicated to describe here, but a recent conversation stopped me in my tracks. Just a few simple words: "He really doesn't understand." Most times, when we hear those words, it's an accusation against the person in question. How dare they not understand? Are they idiots, or are they bad people who refuse to emulate the decency that is us?

Isn't that what we really mean when we complain that someone doesn't understand?

But this conversation was different. "He doesn't understand" was a valid explanation for all that frustrated me. Truth is, good people can be clueless.

They don't know that their actions hurt you, and even if they did, half the time they wouldn't know why.

They don't know that they drive your BP through the roof. (I remember a coworker from another country who said "Do you get what I mean?" after about every third sentence. I don't remember her points; I just remember that I was ready to go postal after a week of it.)

They don't know that the ways they blow off steam make you need to blow off steam.

And they don't get that there is so much more to your story than what you've told.

There's just too much coming at all of us. Too much information, too many crises, too many demands on our time. We're overloaded and it means that few people really have the ability to seek true understanding.

Applied to a third person, these simple words were a gift. And they echoed Christ's words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Time to stop confusing cluelessness with evil.
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Blackberries

General NewsThere's a great little produce place in a town called Oregon City that we like to visit when business takes us that way. It's the kind of place where the shopping inspires the menu. And this weekend, it was mostly fruit that came home.

It's been a busy weekend, so when I eat it's usually standing in the kitchen, often with my other hand doing something else. This morning was no exception as I popped a few succulent blackberries in my mouth while "really" prepping a child's breakfast.

But just for a moment, I stopped. The wild sweetness took me back to childhood, to prowling around with a cool whip container in search of the best blackberries. To my grandparents' acre, to a hundred roadsides and path sides. To a time when I actually had time to pick blackberries and the biggest worry was whether I might prick a finger or stain my clothes.

Sometimes we just have to wonder how our lives got this crazy. Some things are necessary, but how much of this craziness do we just do to ourselves?

I don't know. A number of friends and family have been having emergencies these days. But I speculate on how many of those accidents and strokes and pains were driven by stress. I'm not pointing fingers; if you know anything about my chaotic life you know I wouldn't dare. The only thing I can say for myself is that my household has a long-term plan to live a different kind of life someday.

I want my kids to grow up picking blackberries, not living via Blackberry.

I know the "value of my time" equations, but it falls apart at a $3 pint of blackberries. Why do I pay $3 to get a product instead of an experience?

And maybe "make blackberry pie" needs to be somewhere on that list of life's goals.
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Polish Military Member Dies on Mt. Hood

General NewsClimber Dies After Falling 1,000 Feet on Mount Hood

I have reason to believe he may have been a reader of this blog. Memory Eternal.

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10 Questions

General NewsAbridged from http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/02/2...nswers-to/

10 Questions You Should Know the Answers To

1. What would make you proud of yourself?
2. How can you make a positive difference?
3. What are you trying to accomplish and why?
4. What are the roadblocks standing in your way?
5. What’s the next step?
6. What are your flaws and faults?
7. What issues do you need to resolve with yourself?
8. How are you burdening yourself?
9. How have you celebrated your progress lately?
10. What do you love about your life?

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The Alert

General NewsUS Issues Global Travel Alert Over Al Qaeda Threat; Prepares to Close Embassies

Two things come to mind. My suspicion is that we've either lost track of a specific terrorist (or group of them) and/or a significant weapon is loose.

I'm having a personal struggle. There's no telling whether my career would have survived the current administration, but I look at my son and wonder whether I should have done more in those years before I had him. It's impossible to say, and certainly God never said that He can't protect the world without Cat. Still, I'm sobered by this pending threat.

Stay safe, stay alert. Remember it's better to call something in and look like a fool than to overlook something and face the regret.