Monthly Archives: March 2015

Afghanistan: One bad thing after another….

The photo has nothing to do with the article. Just a little peace before reality.

I first wrote this article three years ago for Not a lot has changed in Afghanistan, but much of the Middle East has caught fire, and Europe, North America, Africa, in fact the whole world, will soon tremble from the march of so-called “peaceful” Islam as it pushes its way into schools, courts, governments….
One bad thing after another continues to happen not in our favor in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai wants us out, but remember: he’s between that proverbial “rock and a hard place.” (Karzai of course is gone now.) The Taliban also wants us out. I’m pretty sure the leaders of Pakistan would like to see us fade away, too. Or would they? Maybe the only reason Pakistan has not fallen to the Taliban and become an Islamic republic is because America is still in Afghanistan. Pakistan can’t identify the enemy either. Everybody dresses and looks alike. And records? Are there any, especially up in the northwest territories, where the government does not have a lot—or maybe none—of influence? I don’t know. Pakistan has nuclear weapons but I wonder how much actual control they have on their people. (God help us if radical Islam ever gets control of those weapons.)

When our soldiers mistakenly burned the Koran, Oh my God did the Afghan civilians scream—and rightly so: after all, wouldn’t we be upset if they—and probably not mistakenly—burned the Bible? Oh yes, we would have been upset, but we wouldn’t have gone looking for Muslim people to kill because of it. I’m pretty sure the Taliban has much influence on many local Afghan leaders, and the word likely went out to riot and kill as many Americans as possible by whatever cowardly way possible.

Do Afghan civilians riot when the Taliban murder civilians, especially women and children? I don’t know. I haven’t heard much about that.

About this soldier a while back who killed 16 civilians…I have never been in combat but I can imagine what it would be like to be unable to identify the enemy, and to see a fellow soldier die right beside you, killed by a so-called “friendly.” That “friendly” might even have been wearing a uniform of the new Afghan military or police force. There’s no way to know who is what. Very similar to what happened in Vietnam, where a friend shared a story of himself blowing away a child who was running toward him with a grenade. The memory of killing that child will remain with him to his dying day. I doubt even a day will go by without his remembering, and wondering if he could have done something differently. The one other option, of course, would have been to do nothing, which would have guaranteed both he and the child would have blown up.

Then, of course, the My lai Massacre, and again the frustration of not being able to identify the enemy, but this article is not about Vietnam, it’s just the frustration of seeing so many similarities.

The young man who killed the civilians in Afghanistan will now be faced with the same unending memories.

Instead of waiting for that timeline date in the future, we might as well leave now, tomorrow, especially since the enemy now knows when we are leaving. Sorry, Mr. President, I know you have pressure from all sides to end this war, and we will end it. But all the Taliban has to do is stay away and hide across the border in Pakistan, oh, but of course kill as many Americans and other NATO soldiers as possible by ambush and those cowardly roadside bombs. (The timeline leave date has since been adjusted.)

The thing is we will leave. We will leave the job very unfinished just as we did when we left Vietnam, and Somalia (I don’t want to even think about Somalia, not even that part of the world!) (oh, and Lebanon, but I won’t go there even with my thoughts) but the same thing will happen. When we left Vietnam the communist north came swarming down and took over the country, and gave Saigon a brand new not-very-pretty name. The same thing will happen when we leave Afghanistan: the Taliban will come swarming back over the border from Pakistan and take over the government and the country. (With this surge of power they might even take over Pakistan itself: what difference could one more radical Islamic republic make anyway?) (Oh! I forgot: that particular Islamic country has nuclear weapons!) The Taliban might lose a few expendable men in these two operations, but not many. And any Afghan man who supported the Americans will be killed, hopefully not tortured first as he watches the so-called religious Taliban sub-humans murder his family.

Karzai himself might be killed too, for certain if he does not agree to be just a political figurehead, which I’m sure he would readily agree to. More likely, when America leaves he will leave also, because he knows with no doubt what will come next.

And Women? Many of them will be killed too, and whether or not they supported the Americans. They will simply be killed because they are women, women with new power since they got more rights, rights they have come to appreciate since the Americans have been there. Unfortunately, when the Americans leave, those “rights” will dissolve. Just as sure as the sun rises that country will drop back into a dark religious stone age, with men-only in charge. And this FACT should make every civilized person weep.

The old battle cry will go up now: “Do you (meaning me) want America to be the policeman of the world?” Well, no, but better America then Russia (with Putin back in charge) or the growing powerhouse of China.
The following comment appeared when I first wrote this hub. Again, not a lot has changed.
ib radmasters 3 years ago, from Southern California
Well done and articulated hub on this subject.
My opinion is that war is a last resort, but when the US goes to War they should go for a total win. Unfortunately, Iraq and Afghanistan is not any different from all the other wars involving the United States where the United States didn’t win the war. There is a difference between military victory and winning the war.
The Taliban along with Islamic Extremist Terrorists are never condemned for their atrocities, but when the United States is involved in any killings or casualties then it becomes a global issue. When 911 occurred, most of the third world, and that includes Afghanistan cheered.
Where are these critics of the United States when the US Captain killed people in his own fort in the US because of his Islamic beliefs.
A lot of the blame for the extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan actually goes to the US Congress and all the liberals that didn’t give the military the moral support and the necessary military equipment to protect themselves against the enemy and the proper weapons to defeat the enemy.
These two wars are representative of all the previous wars that the US has been involved in, especially the ones after WWII.
Thanks, voted this hub up.
A sunset photo to offer more peace to a very unsettled world.
Saturday and my car 004

Nature Happenings: Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows,etc 013
Those Loveable Little Two-winged Bombers
The photo is from the overhang of my house, just one of the many nests I can watch. At the end of this post look for two short videos of the birds in action and one video by a young girl singing at a place called “The Barn Swallow.”
Most people I know do not like the barn swallow. Especially if they try to nest on their house, their garage, or any other inconvenient place. (inconvenient to the human, that is.) Why? Two really good reasons: barn swallows make a mess below their nest. They get territorial, and when the babies hatch they get really territorial. Let me tell you just how territorial.

Back when I lived in a small town the walk-in door to my garage was just a few feet from the back door of my house. I like barn swallows, so I allowed them to make a nest right next to the walk-in garage door. Things were fine until the babies hatched. Then began the territory squabbles with me. Fine. I tried to ignore their chirps and twitters, and their dives. One day I thought one dived a bit too close so I struck out, just once, and of course did not get even close to smacking that bird, not that I even meant to a actually strike it.

Evidently, the bird thought I did get too close

If I thought the territorial battles were bad before I was soon to learn just how territorial a barn swallow can get.

The post office in that small town was two blocks away. Upon returning I would cut across the small city park. A full half a block (about 500 feet) from the edge of my property, both parents would come out to meet me, and they were not nice about it. This went on till the babies left the nest, and then I tore the nest down.

Now get this: The next year I didn’t allow them to build in the same spot. Also I didn’t realize it was the same two birds…or had the vicious genetics passed to the young? I don’t know. I also don’t remember where they finally built, but once the babies hatched, once again both parents would come out to meet me in the city park as I returned from the post office.

The next year this didn’t happen. Likely those particular genes just faded away.

Now I live in the country. I allow the barn swallows to build on my house. They build in at least six locations. Yes, they make a mess but I can live with it. Last year something similar happened. A pair was bound and determined to build a nest right next to my back door, and I was just as determined to stop them. I must have torn that nest down a dozen times. I even put up a platform near by. They at first ignored it then finally nested there. Still a bit too close, but….

Now here’s the strange part. Being that close to the nest I feared the same territorial battles I put up with in town would ensue. Didn’t happen. Yes, they chattered at me, and dived a few times, but I think they simply got accustomed to me being so close. And the babies didn’t fear me. I remember past times getting too close to a nest would cause the young to leave the nest early and get in trouble, but these babies were different. They trusted me.

And now get this: when they left the nest, and left for the south, they buzzed me. No, it wasn’t territorial dives. To me it was friendly buzzing. They were saying goodbye.

And that’s what I choose to believe.

This spring the same thing happened. That pair was back, or their babies that remembered that spot by my back door. Again, I tore the nest down at least a dozen times. And, yes, it upset them but they would not give up. Finally they built a nest—not on the platform I installed for them but on a nearby wreath. Good, I thought. Still too close but…I thought the battle was over but they soon were building right by my door again.

And again I continued tearing their nest down, until I feared they might have been getting worn out, you know, their health maybe was getting in jeopardy…so I relented. I let the nest stay. The eggs were laid, the young hatched and grew, five of them, and they would peek out at me, but showed no fear. And the parents, yes, they would chatter at me and occasionally launch a dive, but nothing really serious. Then they would land on the rain gutters about ten feet away, chatter a little more, and finally go about their business.

And now the five are gone. I hope they all survived.

I do have a history with barn swallows. I was raised on the farm, and we always had barn swallows “inside” the barn. Back then I didn’t have the personal relationship with them as I do now. I just sort of accepted that they were a part of things.

One more thing: I live about 500 feet from the highway. Three highline poles bring electricity in and two wires. Twice those two wires have been filled with swallows. I tried a count, ten, then a hundred, and finally decided there were a thousand birds on my wires. So many that when they flushed not only would the wires shake but the poles too. That even seemed a bit scary. I mean, how much can a thousand little birds weigh? Not a lot, but still. Anyway, south of me is a marsh and open pastureland. The swallows would fill the sky out there and swoop and dive and catch bugs by the hundreds and thousands.

All the birds were not born here. That’s a given. Also not likely were they all barn swallows. Yes, I used the binoculars but couldn’t tell for sure. But I figure there were two to four species. Probably also tree swallows, cliff swallows, bank swallows, and rough-winged swallows. They all nest here in North Dakota but I have never identified the rough-winged swallow. I did put up bluebird houses, two on each pole, one for bluebirds, one for tree swallows. The experts claim if the houses are at least four feet apart they will share the space. I really haven’t seen that, but I don’t spend a lot of time observing either. I do know I have as many tree swallows as barn swallows.

But why would these thousand birds choose my poles and wires? I suspect they like the lush open country hunting ground and the security and quiet of my driveway rather than right out by the highway.

What I choose to think: They just plain like me.
The following 2-minute video shows some of their antics. Male and female are pretty much exactly alike.
The second video is less than 2 minutes and takes place in South Africa. The birds shown are definitely barn swallows, but I didn’t know they were so worldwide. The slow-motion footage is awesome.
The third video (4 minutes) is Helen Horal singing “Providence” from her album “Words Unbroken” live at “The Barn Swallow,” in Ivy, Virginia, February 7, 2009. (Right, the song is not about barn swallows.)

The early warning signs of an abuser:

This first video (less than a minute) shows how it can start with social media. Every young girl needs to see this.
Back when I began my new blog I met someone who wrote about the abuse and misuse of women. I soon followed her blog and a half dozen others, all on the same subject. Because of time, only one have I followed closely, and I can barely comprehend what she is going through for her children with her ex-husband. He is beyond cruel, manipulating, and quite likely mentally retarded but smart enough to keep the pot stirred.
I’m going through much the same thing with a young girl I care deeply for. I haven’t seen her for over two years and she has basically cut off communication. So I have to wonder why? Pretty sure I know why. Her boyfriend (now her husband) showed many signs of future abuse. Is he totally controlling her now? Has he caused her to cut off communication with other members of her family? (Me, fine, but she needs her family.) Have the pokes now turned into punches? Has the cursing escalated? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe marriage changed everything. Oh, almost forgot, they began their relationship with a child, which pretty much locked her in right away. (Just once I saw him literally yell at the three-year-old. The expression I saw appear on the child’s face….) There too, has his treatment of the child escalated?
At the end of this post is a video (less than 3 minutes.) How do I describe it? A woman took her picture every day for a year. At first she’s all smiles and happy. Then the eyes begin to change, not to fear exactly, but just change…you know what I mean. Then there’s a black eye, then healing, then another black eye and other bruises, more healing and smiles, then two black eyes, and then…well, I don’t want to describe it. The important thing is, at the beginning of the video she is a gentle beauty, but then the changes, her whole appearance begins to suffer, she no longer is the same woman, but beaten in all ways. I don’t want to believe a man could treat his wife so.
In the following article (not mine) I will write “yes” if I have seen it happen to the young girl I care about. Otherwise “not sure.”
He speaks disrespectfully about his former partners (YES)
A certain amount of anger and resentment toward an ex-partner is normal, but beware of the man who is very focused on his bitterness or who tells you about it inappropriately early on in your dating. Be especially cautious of the man who talks about women from his past in degrading or condescending ways or who characterizes himself as a victim of abuse by women. Be alert if he says that his previous wife or girlfriend falsely accused him of being abusive-try to get her side of the story. Be cautious of a man who says that you are nothing like the other women he has been involved with, that you are the first partner to treat him well, or that earlier women in his life have not understood him.

He is disrespectful towards you (YES)
Disrespect is the soil in which abuse grows. If a man puts you down or sneers at your opinions, if he is rude to you in front of others, if he is cutting or sarcastic, he is communicating a lack of respect.
He does favors that you don’t want or puts on such a show of generosity that it makes you uncomfortable
These can be signs of a man who is attempting to create a sense of indebtedness.

He is possessive and jealous (YES)
Jealous behavior is one of the surest signs that abuse is down the road. Possessiveness masquerades as love. Jealous feelings are not the same as behaviours. A man with insecurities may naturally feel anxious about your associations with other men, especially ex-partners, and might want some reassurance. But if he indicates that he expects you to give up your freedom to accommodate his jealousy, control is creeping up. Possessiveness shows that he doesn’t love you as an independent human being but rather as a guarded treasure. After a while you will feel suffocated by his constant vigilance.

He is self-centered (YES)
Watch out for a man that does most of the talking, listens poorly when you speak, chronically switches the topic of conversation back to himself. Self-Centeredness is a personality characteristic that is highly resistant to change, as it has deep roots in profound entitlement or to severe emotional injuries (in non abusers) or both (in narcissistic abusers)

He tries to drive a wedge between you, your family, and your friends. He tries to isolate you so you are defenseless and must count on him. He may pick fights with your family and or your friends so he has an excuse for taking you away from them. He may ridicule your family and friends, and tell you that they are too stupid for him to tolerate. (Not sure)

Nothing is ever his fault (YES)
He blames something or someone for anything that goes wrong. As time goes by, his target of blame increasingly becomes you. He may make promises he can’t keep, coming up with a stream of excuses for disappointing you or behaving irresponsibly, and perhaps taking serious economic advantage of you in the process.

He intimidates you when he is angry (YES)
Intimidation, even if it appears unintentional, is a sure sign that emotional abuse is on the way-or has already begun-and is a warning flag that physical violence may eventually follow.
Intimidation includes:
Getting too close to you when he is angry, putting a finger in your face, poking you, pushing you, blocking your way or restraining you.
He tells you that he is “just trying to make you listen.”
He raises a fist, towers over you, shouts at you, or behaves in any way that makes you flinch or feel afraid.
He makes vaguely threatening comments, such as, “you don’t want to see me mad” or “you don’t know who you’re messing with.”
He drives recklessly or speeds up when he is angry.
He punches walls or kicks doors.
He throws things around, even if they don’t hit you.

He has double standards (Not Sure)
Beware of a man who has a different set of rules for his behavior than for yours.

He has negative attitudes toward women (Not Sure)
Stereotyped beliefs about women’s sex roles also contribute to the risk of abuse. His conviction that women should take care of the home, or that a man’s career is more important than woman’s, can become a serious problem, because he may punish you when you start refusing to live in his box. Women sometimes find it challenging to meet men who don’t have restrictive beliefs about women’s roles, particularly within certain cultural or national groups, but the effort to meet such men is an important one.

He treats you differently around other people (Not Sure)
Adult abusers tend to put on a show of treating their partners like gold when everyone is watching, reserving most of their abuse for times when no one else will see. In teenage abusers, the opposite is often true. He may be rude and cold with her in front of other people to impress his friends with how “in control” and “cool” he is but be somewhat nicer when they are alone together.

Is this happening to the girl I care about? And her child? I don’t know….

Winter in July “The Doomsday Clock is Ticking; it Will Reach Midnight”

Winter In July Book Cover v13
With the Russian opposition leader assassinated and the Ukraine invaded, the possibility of nuclear war and a nuclear winter becomes a little—no, a lot—more relevant. Sorry, didn’t mean to leave out bad boys China and North Korea, and the growing threat of Iran.
The nuclear clock again races toward midnight.
In this novel you won’t see ships and bombers. Viewpoint is strictly from the civilian, so, you will hear the booms.

“Winter in July” tells of a man introduced to the horrors of nuclear war at the impressionable age of ten when he found his late uncle’s secret stash of nuclear war literature, which he began reading and having nightmares but kept reading. He couldn’t repress his new found, sometimes nearly neurotic fascination, which followed him into adulthood. As strong as his nuclear war obsession is his struggle to find love.
Hammett’s Mill, North Dakota, population 240, is located on the edge of ground zero–maybe the safest place–so gets a bomb shelter. The idea is to save entire populations in order to help rebuild civilization. The “front” of the gargantuan secret bomb shelter is called ‘Energy House.’ At the entrance is a small display room showing ways to save energy. Beyond the back wall panels lies an immensity large enough to house 300 people for up to 2 years. Only the city fathers know the truth.
This novel has a new cover. The original and title possibly led people to think that Christmas was somehow involved. The new cover should leave no doubt.
At the end of this post look for a haunting song by Neil Young and a sales announcement. Please see the 5-star review at the very end.
Excerpt from Chapter 7 “80 Acres of Paradise”
90-some-years-old sage, Samuel Hatwell, Esquire, is speaking:
Kirby is the main character. Colleen is a girlfriend.

“My dad homesteaded it back in the thirties.” Hatwell began preening his beard, stepped past Kirby and Colleen to the edge of steepness, then gazed toward the far expanses, probably remembering those long gone days, “I still say ‘the thirties’ as if we’re still livin’ in the twentieth century.” A hesitation, “But we ain’t. We’re in the grand third millennium now, the great days we been waitin’ fer a thousand years fer. But it’s no greater’n the twentieth century. Now there was a great century. But we’ll never see it again.”
Excerpt from Chapter 8 “Reflecting”
Kirby is listening to his late uncle’s favorite music. Look for this song at the end of this post.

The music interrupted his thoughts. One song finishing, another beginning. He knew which one was coming. The one that haunted him, yet he couldn’t stop listening to it. The one about fanfares and drummers, about a person in a burned-out basement, first with the moon in his eyes, then the sun bursting through the skies. But if it was night in the song, how could the sun burst through the skies?
Only one way.
Then the guy in the basement was hoping what a friend had said was a lie. Maybe Neil Young hadn’t meant him to take his song in such a way, but he felt at least some of the many stories in that song pointed directly to the occurrence and aftermath of nuclear war.
Excerpt from Chapter 18 “Lisa”
Kirby has the Point of View throughout the novel. Lisa he met in Chapter 3. He has several run-ins with her but they don’t get together until Chapter 18. This excerpt introduces a major problem, Kirby is in charge of security of the secret bomb shelter. Lisa is a leader of the local peace movement. She has applied for the position of museum curator for the Energy House. Conflict of interest would cost her job. Here he is waiting for her phone call and their first friendliness.

Twenty-four hours went by. During that time he mowed half the Energy House grounds, then called it a day because his jaw, with full feeling back, was aching. He had thought plenty too. He had not told Lisa the full truth.
Yes, a curator position was available, but that was only window dressing for the truth. There would be no, or few, visitors at the Energy House. There would be no signs, no listing on the official state road maps, tourist guides, nothing. Would anyone tell her the truth?
He suspected not. And because of how the underground building was designed, they could not tell her the truth, and no way would she ever discover the truth. But why wouldn’t they tell her the truth? Being curator she should know the truth. But if she wasn’t told by somebody else, then Kirby, also, could not tell her.
He stared at the phone. He could speak now. He had several times that day, if for no other reason than to practice, for when he spoke to Lisa he wanted to be completely clear.
But not completely truthful.
Maybe another twenty-four hours should go by.
Another twenty-four hours went by, and every cubic inch of his body and soul was ready. He picked up the phone receiver. If she knew the truth and was sincere in her peace beliefs she would not take the job. Of that he felt certain. So, if she took the job, then she was not aware of the truth. Of that, too, he was certain.
Excerpt from Chapter 19 “Colleen”
Again Kirby’s viewpoint. Colleen is not mentioned here, even though the chapter is named for her. It’s more untruthfulness toward Lisa.

Foremost was the quickly approaching open house at the Energy House. All of Hammett’s Mill’s finest would be there, and likely other dignitaries. He wondered how many of the special guests would know—or guess—the real purpose of the underground building.
And who would be curator? He could only think of Lisa Graham. So perfect. She could move in with him, they could get married, have children, raise a garden, and live happily ever after. But Lisa Graham, peacemaker, would never run the Energy House knowing its secret. So, she would not know.
And he could never tell her.
Four excerpts from Chapter 21 “Birthday Bash”
Hammett’s Mill is celebrating 125 years with a parade.
Kirby’s viewpoint. More dishonesty shown to Lisa. A hayrack loaded with suspicious men has pulled into the Energy House’s grounds. Lt. Oakes, Army Rangers, in civilian clothes, is present; more secrecy. The U.S. has just so much budget for building bomb shelters, so they have to be secret. Lisa, just recently hired, does not know the truth, and her peace advocacy is not yet known by the Powers-that-be.

On the hayrack the man with the angry eyes stepped forward and swung to the ground. The men could easily have forced their way past Smith. But they had not.
Then he noticed several eyeing toward the west. A large brown car sat there with three open doors, a man behind each. Lieutenant Oakes was one. Their hard, professional appearances said they would stand for no nonsense.
But what was Oakes even doing at Hammett’s Mill?
“Kirby?” Lisa pulled at his arm, did not sound happy, “What’s happening? None of this makes any sense.”
He looked at her innocent face. She could not possibly know the place was a bomb shelter. But she should know. He considered telling her right then, but it appeared she was about to find out regardless.
“What do you men need here?” Mayor Bradding sounded official, as if just seeing about town business.
“We want to know what kind of a building ya got here.” The man with angry, suspicious, eyes spoke, “We’ve heard stories.”
“What does he mean, Kirby?” Lisa squeezed and pinched his arm, harder than necessary, “I know you know something.”
He tightened his arm against her hands, “Shhhh, just wait, please.” Maybe things would come out. But why should they admit anything? But Lisa should know. But still he found it difficult to believe she did not know. But her avowed peace advocacy. How could she run the Energy House in good faith?
She wouldn’t.
After they disappeared inside, he realized that Lisa would be able to lie straight-faced to the men because she didn’t know the truth. And the men would believe such an honest-appearing woman as Lisa. And Mayor Bradding knew exactly what he was doing by asking Lisa to join them. The bastard.
Lisa was almost there. He saw the concern she still felt for something she did not know about and nobody was telling her. He saw himself in her bright, loving eyes. God, how he cared for that woman, and felt the same feelings from her.
Look for a free Amazon digital download beginning Saturday (meaning Friday Midnight) March 14, 2015.
This song by Neil Young, “After the Gold Rush,” from the 70’s album of the same name, still gives me chills. In it I think he sings of the many ways Mother Nature is being destroyed. In my mind, in at least part of the song, I see nuclear war occurring, and the aftermath.

A Review: One of three 5-star reviews
Buy! — an unusual, introspective take on the apocalyptic / post-apocalyptic tale, May 5, 2012
By Kurt Stallings– Author, Law… (Fort Worth, Texas
Kirby Yates lives in a part of the country where there are almost as many nuclear missiles as there are people. The small little town he calls home is filled with lonely people making their way through silent lives. They would be mere numbers waiting to be dumped onto a casualty list if it wasn’t for the fact that their exact location is just beyond the range of total destruction by any enemy missiles aimed at the American bases a short drive across the prairie. Even so, Yates would be nothing among them in the eyes of planners, but for the fact that he happens to have a combination of basic military experience, a quiet competence for planting and managing landscapes, and a bit more intelligence than most. He’s chosen to prepare for and participate in any nuclear exchange without being informed of the fact until it’s too late to quit, although he is bright enough to realize it before. Ironically, he realizes, he is preparing the stage for the tragedy that has given him nightmares since discovering a secret stash of materials in his uncle’s house. His artist’s vision, which he keeps hidden from others, makes his sense of what may be coming only more vivid.
The author achieves something rare, if not indeed unique, with a work of fiction that not only broadens the reach of its particular sub-genre but doubles as a commentary on that sub-genre in itself. Certainly, this is the first of the A/PA novels I’ve read that explores the reason I am compelled to read so many. The protagonist grew up with the same obsessive sense of impending nuclear doom that vested in so many of us at a certain age, thanks to countless drills at school, those ridiculous films in class, and any number of black-and-white movies on TV. While some reviewers here are put off by Kirby Yates’ initial, relative immaturity — brilliantly and incisively detailed for him halfway through by a woman explaining why they can not be together — readers more accustomed to novels that aren’t purely action-driven will enjoy following his maturation, complete at the end of the book.
I’m not knocking action books, or those who enjoy them, I’m simply making the distinction so you can choose whether you personally might enjoy the book or not. I like action books; I also like this one. This is a book about a man, not a war, albeit a man preparing for the most terrifying of wars; and it’s a book about a real man, not a caricature.
I recommend BUY as someone who enjoyed the tension as the subtle shifts in his relationships, always driven by an artist’s appreciation for the insanity of nuclear war, was also balanced by an appreciation for the need for “adults” (as Yates puts it in his musings) who deal with insanity as something that is never going away. The struggle to achieve some sort of mature balance within himself as between those two impulses are what drive his decisions throughout the book. The ending is so satisfying because he finds that balance under the most surprising of circumstances — or perhaps the only situation in which he might have stumbled onto it. In any event, it’s his decisive action that wins him his “adulthood,” and brings the security he’s always sought to himself and those for whom he cares.

My Road No Longer

Late October, 2013 025
This photo is not the road in the text, but the path leading from my present day home.
Eleven miles to the post office. I need to go today and need to use the road that no longer is mine. Why is that? And how can one own a whole road? Only seven and one half miles did I actually own, and, of course, I never actually owned it. So what the heck am I saying?
In the far past I enjoyed that road. It took me from the farm to my town, where I went to high school. There I’m calling the town mine too.
Yes, back then I considered it my town. Besides school, we (my late parents and I) went to that town on Saturday nights for visiting and buying groceries and selling cream from our dairy cows. It gave me the chance to visit friends, throw green apples at the back door of the bar on the south side of the street, and, at the young age of 12 to about 16, I was able to lust after the girl—who walked the streets arm-in-arm with some other guy—who didn’t know I was alive. Other girls knew but not the one I wanted. But girls are not what this post is about.
It’s about “things we miss and things we long for,” which is the tentative title to my possible second autobiography. Some friends have asked me to write another one like the first one. My answer is always, “But I have only one life story.” But maybe that’s not true. A lot has happened since the first one.
Back in those early days, besides a creamery (which also served as the local telephone exchange) the town had two well-stocked groceries (well, one wasn’t too well-stocked, and quite often sold food way past prime, but that’s another story) a full-service gas station and garage, a bulk-fuel supplier, a hardware store, a lumber yard, a grain elevator, two rowdy bars, a cafe, and what was called a fire hall which also served as a community center and American Legion meeting hall.
All that with a population of only about 200 people, plus the surrounding farms. Back then there were a good number of farms. Not so many today. Today many farmsteads have been burned, bulldozed, buried, and agribusiness has mostly taken over…not necessarily a happy, good, thing.
Today that town has only the post office, the elevator, one bar, a church, and one business that has nothing to do with the idea of “community.” The brick school house was torn down to make room for a house, and the road going south from the school was totally destroyed to make room for bedroom-community housing. I miss the school because it was my school. I miss the road because it served for my one and only nature field trip led by a teacher who I admired.
Getting back to why I called that road my road and my town, well, I loved it there. I loved the town and its people, and I loved driving that road because I knew everybody who lived along that seven and one half miles. Today some of the farmsteads are still there but I know nobody living in them, not many in the town either. That would be a good reason for saying it’s no longer my road and my town, but it’s not the reason.
The real reason is because I have to pass what used to be my parent’s farm, and what would have become my farm. A half mile away I can still see some of the trees. Sometimes I’ll forget to look, but that doesn’t help my heart. I know it’s there whether I look or not, and knowing that…well, it no longer breaks my heart, but my heart becomes heavy, all the way to town and all the way back.
I suppose I could go 28 miles out-of-my way and avoid that heavy-heart feeling, but that’s a lot of extra gas. And I would know why I’m going all that distance. So, instead of only 15 miles of heavy heart it would be 28. I deserve to go down that road. I deserve that heavy heart because I allowed my dad to sell that farm, I even told him I didn’t want it.
Since then I have changed my mind at least one hundred thousand times.
Because I have rural delivery, only a few times per year do I need to visit the post office.
So, with heavy heart I will continue traveling that road that’s no longer mine.
I’m not alone with my heavy heart. Thousands, millions of people have left farms and other homes and places they loved, and once it’s left there is no returning.
The country lanes pictured in the video are not like my road in the text. There are no tunnels, no redwoods, no ocean, no rest stops on the road I used to own, but for the thousands of people with memories of places left behind, maybe here in this video is a memory or two for them.

A Vulcan Blessing from Leonard Nimoy


“I am and always will be your friend” – Spock (Leonard Nimoy)

untitledWhen I was a little girl watching Star Trek, I had a secret crush on Mr. Spock.

While alien women were throwing themselves at Captain Kirk, I was drawn to his first officer.

When the rest of the crew seemed to run around fuelled by passion and chaos, Spock, the ever logical, the always calm, stepped in with his wisdom and grace.

Even in my 20s, it was my 11:30Pm ritual to watch Star Trek in bed before falling asleep.

Here, I read that: Nimoy’s fame as Spock was such that both of his autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995), were written from the viewpoint of sharing his existence with the character. 

I am saddened by Leonard Nimoy’s passing but so grateful for the man he was, and the way he…

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