Saturday, September 30, 2017

They lived life fully

In light of recent events due to the passing of my uncle, I got to thinkin' a little deeper about my father and the Thomas Uncles. My mind began to wander about their lives and the times they grew up in and the trials they lived through.

Many people in the current and recently named younger generations are often called snobbish, entitled and many other names leaning toward being ungrateful for what they have in life. Now, it is hoped that one generation builds upon what is handed to them and is able to take that and add to it and thus, hand it off to those that follow. The complaint against the current version, the Millennials from other folk is they do not seem to be grateful for what ever they have.

The Millennials are heirs to a society where everything they want is instantly available to them without much effort on their parts. As well, anything wrong with the world is aptly blamed on someone and they are apt to readily point the finger. One thing I do tend to believe is there is a tilt to this generation that many of these qualities reside more in those who dwell in the urban landscape where even many of the poorer elements have more available to them through the use of a phone than any previous generation.

Take away their phones and how would many in this generation react to a world where they had little or no conveniences. My Father and his brothers grew up in a world where:
  • There was no modern refrigeration. If you ever wondered where the term 'icebox' came from it was truly descriptive of what it was
  • Air conditioning did not enter the modern home until well into the 1960's.
  • Television did not move into the home until the 1950's. Then, it was a very small set that carried only a black and white image. In the 1960's there were three national broadcast companies. That's it.
  • Public air travel was only available to those who had some degree of wealth. The average person would never have been able to afford air travel.
  • Radio was the predominant form of electronic entertainment well into the 1950's.
  • The average family had one automobile, if they had one at all. 

By the time this all came to pass and the modern world began to look vaguely like the modern world we now recognize, the Thomas Uncles were already raising their children, sending them off to high school and some to college.

To an extent this generation is correct that there are problems. What they fail to recognize is there have always been problems. What you do is take what you have and do the best you can with it. If that happens, you won't hear any complaints from me. My Father and my Uncles lived life to the fullest with conditions that many now would describe as primitive.

If they could do what they did under those circumstances, what can you do with what's now handed to you?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Passing of our time

I come from a very large family with a plethora of aunts, and uncles. As a child I could count them in the thirty-some range. I guess I never really took a full count. It seemed pointless at the time, there were so many. With that came all the cousins that large families like ours had. To this day, we are a far-flung group covering many areas of the country. Sadly, we will pull together one more time in mourning. The last of the Thomas uncles has passed. Of the dozens that I looked up to with love, only Aunt Loretta's voice remains.

When you are a child, the hesitant thoughts of passing into adulthood was lessened by the guidance of a clan of men and women who looked out not only after their own but of all those who belonged to the family. Each one was our mother and father whether we were their own or not. The challenge of adulthood was never frightening to me because of the examples of those who came before us, those who made it look easy to a child whether we knew of their burdens or not. To us, it was a smile, a glance, a hug, a kiss on the cheek or a swat on the butt. They were guiding hands that prepared us to one day take the lead.

With the passing of my Uncle Jim, that day has arrived. There are no longer uncle stories to hear, no longer witticisms offered, no longer a memory of times we knew nothing of. We are now the leaders of the clan without exception. It is our voice that gives the sage words of advice and humorous stories to those who follow in our footsteps, to those that shall one day make their passage into the adult world or have already walked into that forest.

Herbert, Charles, Girard, Anthony, Stuart, Raymond, Madeline, David and James. Some passed too early yet they shall be ever in our hearts and we shall be forever in their debt.

Good night, Uncle Jim.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


My Beloved and I decided to take a few days to ourselves and enjoy a brief vacation out of town. If you haven't had the opportunity to travel up to the New England states, I urge you to go. There are a ton of things to do up there. The weather is wonderful this time of year, the people are terrific and the scenery is beautiful.

So, what's to disrespect you ask? It began when we boarded our Southwest plane. Nothing out of the ordinary. The crew smiled and welcomed everyone aboard. I have generally found the Southwest flight attendants, I'm sure I would get shot in this day and age if I called them stewardesses, PC and all, are generally the friendliest in the skies I have traveled. However I digress. The plane boarded normally and we paying cattle took our seats without incident.

Then, it happened. The attendants stood up to give their much practiced play, Act I, Scene I, you know, keeping us safe in the event of an emergency. I was sitting about four rows in front of the attendant who had the middle of the plane performance. She began her buckling display and smiled. What irritated me to no end was the jackass sitting right in front of her on the aisle seat began talking to the person across the aisle like the attendant wasn't even there. He continued to talk the entire time ignoring the attendant's instructions.

I wanted so badly to stand up and yell across the rows, DUDE, pay attention to this woman. Have some respect for her doing her job. Shut the hell up! What she's saying might save your life! Apparently he doesn't give a crap about his life.

I don't care how many times you fly. I don't care how well you think you know the instructions you are about to receive, but have some respect for the person who is telling the other passengers how to save their lives. Shut your pie-hole until they are done.

If this plane crashes, you're the last person I'm coming to help.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Captain's Journal

It has been quite some time since I have put up and excerpt from any of my books. I generally try and use this blog mostly as a place of thoughts and reactions to the world. I am however a writer and I'm giving myself permission to do it.

So, without further ado, a brief excerpt from the upcoming novel, Ghost Fleet, book two of my science fiction Home World Series.

          Jason Tully sat back in his cabin and just stared at the walls. He let the chair turn beneath him as he pivoted, casually examining his surroundings. He had all right to move into the ship’s Captain’s Quarters, but he chose not to. That was Joseph’s place. His own suited him well enough. The captain would return. He turned toward the panel behind and stabbed at the console.

Captain’s journal: Theta 9- 8

“My mentor has awakened and though I believe he will make a full recovery, he is not yet ready to bear the rigors of command, much less influence my decisions. I would welcome his counsel however he is not fully aware of all the details and is in no shape to undergo a briefing.”
“I look around myself and see the small quarters that holds my private world. It is spartan by nearly any measure. Others decorate with their trappings of success, awards and plaques, certificates of accomplishment. I suppose it gives them courage or comfort in an ever changing universe. This life we have chosen is difficult with no guarantee of success, no guarantee of tomorrow where each day could be one’s last.”
“I have succeeded with so much in my career, living dreams that only a young lad could dream as he looks to the stars, yet, now I am faced with decisions that no boy, even in his wildest imaginings could conceive. I once dreamed of sailing the vast oceans of Carrigeen, my home world. I would command warships that chased down pirates or even plied the seas as those same scavengers.”
“Yet even those adventures could not win my favor as I looked to the stars in the heavens. The blackness above was vast, unimaginable in its breadth and depth, filled with points of light that could never be counted though indeed I gave an effort. The wandering dreams of a child again filled with the adventures of warships, massive flying cities that protected the Home Worlds from marauding bands whose only goal was to conquer. It isn’t that simple any longer.”
“As captain of the Parras I have a duty, a single purpose. I can see only one solution to this situation. I hope it is the correct one.”
“Close journal.”

Jason slid his hand over one button laying his finger gently on its smooth surface. He paused, his mind surprisingly calm. He thought back to something his captain had said to him after they had left Tor Dunlaw;
“… and just because sometimes, you’ve got to learn on the job. It’s war, and I don’t know of another training ground quite like it.”
“Bridge aye.”
“Signal the fleet, all ships battle stations.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Life hasn't changed

These days of 24 - 7 internet and news activity has somehow made the last two generations believe the world is crumbling and that the United States if falling into the abyss and we as a nation have never faced such strife. Here are just a few things that may have happened before you were born. This is just a very small selected list, something from every decade since the American Civil War. Maybe you've heard of some of them...

1860's - The American Civil War

1870's - exploitation of the American West and the battle of Little Big Horn

1880's - exploitation of the American West, 2nd Anglo - Afghan war when British troops fight in Afghanistan, Haymarket Riots in Chicago

1890's - Philippine Revolution, Lattimer Massacre, War of Canudos

1915 - World War I, the war to end all wars

1920's - prohibition and women suffrage

1930's - the Great Depression

1940's - World War II

1950's - Korean War and start of the Cold War,conflict of integration of the Southern states

1960's - Race riots / civil rights, Cuban missile crisis, the Cold War continues, assassinations of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, rampant environmental pollution (Cuyahoga River in Cleveland catches fire)

1970's - Vietnam War and civil unrest, 25 year strife in Northern Ireland, Genocide in Africa, Arab-Israeli conflict

1980's - Civil wars continue in much of Africa, Arab-Israeli conflict continues, Iran - Iraq War, overthrow of Communist governments in Europe and the fall of the Iron Curtain

1990's- First Gulf War when one Arab nation invades another, Branch Davidians and Waco, Texas

2000's - Terrorism escalates around the world and continues to this day

The world hasn't changed one bit. You as a consumer or a Millennial or a Gen Y or whomever you identify with just see and hear more of it. The United States has been involved in more military campaigns mostly because we have become the world's police after World War II. Have we always been right? Absolutely not. There are places I believe we should never have gone, but what we don't get credit for is all the aide to the starving and poor around the world. Those stories almost never get published in the general press, or when you do hear about them it's like trying to find a radio station on a Sunday morning and the only thing you can find is required content stations must air to retain their licenses.

It's fine to be aware of what's happening in the world and our own country but to think it was all puppy dogs and roses before you were born is simply ignorance. Change requires people to get involved but don't blame everything on the generation before you. We had to battle our own challenges.

The world keeps on spinning ...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pencil and paper

It's that time of year again, the kiddies are going back to school. With my line of work during the daylight hours, it has been something I've been intimately involved with for many years. This year however, I got to do something new.

I'm on the other end of the school supply list! And it sucks! Yup, the shoe is on the other foot.

How did this thing we call school lists get so out of control? In the past as a parent, My Beloved handled all this stuff. That was her duty to fulfill. I never had little little kids around. I got the joy of parenthood with a teenager. By then, yeah, they're fairly self sufficient. That's not happening this year. Ragin' Cage has a school list about a foot long and I was in charge of getting it filled.

Here's my questions, why the hell does a kid need three styles of markers? Highlighters, permanent and washable? What the heck is that all about? We also have two styles of pencils, colored and regular #2. And not just any #2. It had to be 12, Ticonderoga presharpened pencils. Hey, isn't that why God made pencil sharpeners? Why the hell do we have to have presharpened?

Okay, this is where I go into flashback mode. Back in my day ... Yeah, that's right. We needed a pencil, a pen, a notebook and that was it. If your parents had a few extra dollars you got to have a book bag to carry it all in. I never had a new book bag. All I had was an old, army green duffle bag. It looked like army surplus to a little third grader. It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. They have these things now that are stretchy book covers. You guessed it. I covered all my books with paper bags cut to size from the grocery store. (Try finding a grocery sack these days).

I get it. Times change; things evolve and yes, many teachers have a tough job and use their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms. It get it, but sometimes evolution gets it wrong.

Oh, and he has to have headphones too ... really?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A nod

I think at my age, and others of my ilk, my personal habits are rather entrenched. It's not like as I close in on the end of my fifth decade I really want to change a lot of things about myself. Fifty-nine years of doing the same things is relaxing...well, mostly.

I have recently discovered a break that many tell me they do often. Myself? Never, unless I was sick. I'm generally always on my feet doing something from the time I get up to the time I finally decide I've had enough and need to go to bed.

I've discovered the wonderful world of naps!

True! I've never been a napper, except perhaps when I was a small lad bouncing on Sainted Mother's lap. Since I have no memory of those events I just assume they really didn't happen. I have always viewed napping as unproductive; a waste of time. I have things to do and I don't see that changing any time in the future.

Then, a funny thing happened. I had a couple minor medical procedures this past year and I was forced to sit around for two or more weeks at a time. Well, with at least one of them I could sit, if you get my drift. There isn't much to do when you're immobile. Napping just kind of happened. I figured heck, I'll be back to my old self in no time.

As I headed back to work I would get home exhausted. The moment I would sit down in my favorite chair, my head would begin to nod just like it did when I was listening to boring homilies at 8 o'clock mass on Sunday mornings. Those times I was left in the pew at the back of the church by Beloved Father, the nods came fast and furious. Unfortunately for me I was often the victim of an altar boy not showing up and Beloved Father would step away from his usher duties and I would get 'the thumb'. That meant a trip back to the sacristy where I would don the black and white shrouds. One can't fall asleep on the alter in the middle of a round church.

 But I digress.

Something has changed and perhaps it is age which I have been putting off as long as I can. Coming home from work these days means being tired from work and the drive home. Plopping down in my leather chair is just an extension of trying not to fall asleep on the way home. Perhaps it is all the work that comes with moving to a new house and the work that comes with it while one juggles the rest of their day. In the past when I have had a rare nap I always felt groggy. That has all changed. For the first time in my life after a nap I feel refreshed.

I must now look at what is to come, a slowing down, a change of pace, or perhaps just thinking I need less on my plate.

Hahahahahahahaha ..... I'm a retail manager in real life ... that's not likely happening soon!