One of them anyway …

by baldilocks

Well I guess I understand why the DHS is doing this, but

Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.

The previously undisclosed program, called “Quiet Skies,” specifically targets travelers who “are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base,” according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.

The internal bulletin describes the program’s goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft “posed by unknown or partially known terrorists,” and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.

It is a time-consuming and costly assignment, they say, which saps their ability to do more vital law enforcement work.

TSA officials, in a written statement to the Globe, broadly defended the agency’s efforts to deter potential acts of terror. But the agency declined to discuss whether Quiet Skies has intercepted any threats, or even to confirm that the program exists.

I’m guessing ‘no’ and ‘yes.’

Between this, and the TSA activities — x-rays and groping … er … pat-downs — I’ll pass on flying when I can. I have a choice with my upcoming trip and I choose the ground, along with a relative bit of freedom.

From those who don’t know what I’m talking about, go here. And, yes, one Peter Ingemi is on my list of persons to visit.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Cite.

by baldilocks

It’s tough to write much today especially since I don’t feel like talking about Brett Kavanaugh — President Trump’s SCOTUS pick — or the Left’s nationwide and 20-month long temper tantrum over losing the 2016 presidential election.

What I feel like talking about is escaping — yes, from California, if only temporarily.

In September and October, I have a couple of invitations to Middle America in a pair of states I’ve never been. Both invites are reunions; one is a USAF meeting and the other is a blogger meetup. I haven’t done either in years and had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed both types of gatherings. Meetings of the minds and booze.

Also, I’ve longed to visit a memorial dedicated to a departed friend — more than a friend — and asked God for that chance. As it happens, the memorial is in the same state as one of the reunions.

But I can’t ignore the fact that I sense being drawn away from my home state. It feels temporary, like I’m simply planning a vacation from my beloved People’s Republic of the Formerly Golden State. At least that’s what it feels like right now. 

I’ve never planned a vacation before. Because I always had the resources at hand in the past, there was little need for much planning. This one will be different in that the resources, meaning money, have to be marshaled.

I mentioned the plan on my Facebook page and now I have about 12 places to visit before I get to the intended destination. Most of those places are in Texas.

Additionally, I plan on documenting this trip online — as I did with my Kenya trip — but now with a little bit of experience under my belt. Plus I’ll be the captain of this voyage. Did I mention that I’m driving?

I will keep everyone posted about my plans and about any campaigns I wage for this endeavor.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
– Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

I hate the term “working mom” because it implies that moms who are not employed do not “work.” My wife is a stay-at-home mom and she works plenty hard. More importantly, she works hard at things that matter. And the fact that she is not spending 40+ hours of her week focusing on not being a mom means that she is able to do things for our family that a “working mom” simply can’t. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

On Mothers Day, I salute all mothers who put their families first, especially my wife. When our son was born, she left the business world to be a full-time mom and wife. Our two children (and I) have benefited in countless ways from this decision, which she and I made together even before we were married. She has always been there, from playing with my son when he was an infant to being there when my daughter comes home from high school and needs advice or just someone to talk to.

Our parish bulletin contained a page of quotes about Motherhood today. One that particularly stood out is:

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling.
It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in.
It is what God gave you time for.”

This perfectly sums up my wife’s calling to be a mother. Today let us reflect on the fact that many of the ills facing our society today could be solved if more women felt the same calling.

Other than magnificent seven writers blogging will be non-existent today

And yes I’m putting DaTipJar below because a huge day at DaTipjar would put a smile on DaWife’s face which is a good anniversary gift.



Consider subscribing. 8 more subscribers at $20 a month will pay the monthly price for the new host/server.


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Finally might I suggest my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

`1,000,000 copies and I can retire.

by baldilocks

Love is in the air.

Mass murderer Nikolas Cruz is getting stacks of fan mail and love letters sent to the Broward County jail, along with hundreds of dollars in contributions to his commissary account.

Teenage girls, women and even older men are writing to the Parkland school shooter and sending photographs — some suggestive — tucked inside cute greeting cards and attached to notebook paper with offers of friendship and encouragement. Groupies also are joining Facebook communities to talk about how to help the killer.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel obtained copies of some of the letters showing that Cruz, who had few friends in the outside world, is now being showered with attention. (…)

A teenager wrote on March 15: “I’m 18-years-old. I’m a senior in high school. When I saw your picture on the television, something attracted me to you.” (…)

A woman from Chicago enclosed nine suggestive photos, including a shot of cleavage, another in a skimpy bikini eating a Popsicle and a tight shot of her backside as she bent over. Another girl sent photos with Hello Kitty Snapchat filters. (…)

This sort of thing is certainly not unprecedented. Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and, more recently, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – one of the perpetrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing – are examples of mass murders/serial killers who attracted throngs of women.

It shouldn’t even be surprising. The Devil has tons of fans; why wouldn’t his servants also attract those who find excitement in evil?

Moving away from these extremes, so-called normal women find “bad boys” attractive, too. Such men may not be killers or law-breakers of any kind, but they are perceived as rule-breakers and that edginess is exciting – for a while. Men are also attracted by “crazy women.” (My streak of deviousness tells me many such women are some of the sanest among us.)

This sort of attraction is symbolic of a certain absence within an individual; a skewed sense of that which is good, faithful and true. For the warped mind, such things are boring.

Many of us are a little or a lot warped in this way. The key to defeating this kind of thinking is, of course, sticking close to the God of the Bible. Through this, we can get a clear view of the faults in ourselves and we can ask God to help us remove these faults.

I understand this for a good reason. I’ve had to give over to God my own warped view of what a loving man-woman relationship should be. I was never into Bad Boys, but there were other issues.  Sometimes, it necessary to have a seat and stay sitting down for an extended period. So it is that I have remained single for some time.

And that’s the key: recognize the problem, remove oneself from it, and ask the Professional Fixer of Things for help.

As for the wannabe lovers of serial killers, however, the fist step — recognition — can’t happen when one’s eyes are closed.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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On a sunny Orange County afternoon some twelve years ago, I was in a bookstore containing (but of course) a large coffee shop upfront. My purpose in being there was to meet up with one Mike Stand, leader of seminal Christian punk rock group the Altar Boys.

At the time, Stand’s musical career, at least as far as Christian rock was concerned, was decidedly in the rearview mirror. In more recent years he has fronted a rockabilly trio calling itself the Altar Billies. But, at the time we met so I could interview him for my book, we were talking about what had previously transpired.

During our conversation, he mentioned a sixth Altar Boys album. Now, as all fans of the group know, the band released five albums during their tenure. So, what was this mysterious sixth album to which Stand referred? He stated that it was planned to as a follow-up to Forever Mercy, adding how the album had gone so far into production it had been named: No Substitute. However, for various reasons the project was never completed, Stand lamenting that it would’ve been a much better final statement on his band’s career than Forever Mercy.

Whether the Altar Boys can be labeled the first Christian punk band is a matter for musicologists to argue. The band wasn’t a pure punk band; its music is far better described as raw, bareknuckled, hard driving rock ‘n’ roll. Tons of intensity, tons of passion, and an uncompromising lyrical message focused on salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Forever Mercy got away from the band’s musical strength. No Substitute would have been a welcome return to form. Alas, it was doubtless never to see the light of day.

I mention the above because recently Stand, along with the Boys and his boy (his son is helping with the engineering and such), has dusted off the tracks recorded by him for No Substitute, completing the tracks already recorded by using the original vocals and guitars from the 1991 and 1993 sessions as the cornerstone for completing an album even the most devoted Altar Boys fans doubted would ever see the light of day … assuming they knew it existed. There’s a Kickstarter campaign going on right now to finance the whole thing.

I said all that to say this.

As one of the other artists in my book stated, every publicly-placed creative endeavor involves a fair amount of shooting arrows over the horizon. You don’t know where they’re going to land, chances are excellent you’ll never know where they did land, and thus you do not know and will never know if you hit any intended targets. You give it your best shot (no pun intended), and you move on, all the while wondering if it mattered.

Lately I’ve been fighting a nasty streak of ennui plus hopelessness. My employer is going away, taking the store my boss and I worked ridiculously hard on with it. There are few things more frustrating than the failure of others sweeping you up with it when for your part you sweated blood to make your piece of the pie a roaring success. And it was. Now it’s going away. Definitely takes the wind out of your sails.

I’m relatively certain I’ll land another job. I’m quite certain it won’t be as personally and professionally rewarding as this one has been. Hopefully it’ll at least be all right. We shall see.

I think back to the book and wonder: did it make a difference? I did my best to lift up the artists and music I love to the world. Hopefully it made some new fans. Hopefully it reignited someone’s faith. Hopefully that sunny Orange County afternoon, and all the other interviews conducted at different times and places, mattered. I honestly don’t know.

But I’d do it again.

Perhaps one day I’ll find out if I hit anything.

by baldilocks

Sitting in for Fausta.

A frequent response from black liberals/leftists to black conservatives and our advocacy for conservative principles is that whites laugh are at us because of this. Seems silly, yes? And, whether it’s true or not, I used to be nonplussed at this assertion. Why should I care one way or another?

The interesting part about “whites laughing at us” notion is that it points the subconscious belief of liberals/leftists that black people are incapable of inductive reasoning and can only mimic white persons of any political persuasion and only do so for their entertainment – and money. This is why it never occurs to many black liberals/leftists that their conservative counterparts have reasoned their way to a different conclusion. So they attempt to play on our egos.

When people laugh derisively at something you say – and tell you that this is what they are doing – they do it with the assumption that this type of laughter will wound you in some way. But what happens if this has no effect on you?

Thinking through the obvious, ridicule is given its power only by the target. On the Internet, if someone throws some scorn my way, I choose my feelings and my response. For a long time, I’ve realized that derision does almost nothing to my feelings – I was often the target of bullies as a child and, therefore, have developed a certain immunity to it. The small effect it does have on my feelings is that it will fill me with glee. Ridicule mongers are invariably illogical, and I can usually expose it without breaking too much of a sweat. I might have a small sadistic streak. Pray for me.

Human beings instinctively hate being laughed at, being the butt of ridicule. This is a subtle form of pride.

How to become immune to it: become dedicated to the truth over all else, especially if it is an uncomfortable truth. Allowing wounded pride to subordinate truth is one of the gravest dangers to one’s soul.

You can always laugh back, since there is joy in sticking to the Truth. And you will laugh last.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-GoDaddy host!

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by baldilocks

Spelling intentional.

Many times, I find myself insufficiently interested enough in the headlines of the day or even the hidden stories requiring discovery to write about them. That makes for what is sometimes called writer’s block. But that’s not what it really is. In reality, it is the failure to pick up the pen and begin to write or the failure to open a blank word-processing document and start pushing buttons.

Yes, I’m having one of those days today, but you’re seeing the results of one of tried-and-true methods of executing a sensible missive.

I get this way because, for a while, I’ve had a low-level sense that we should be concentrating on more than the outrages of the day, even those that imperil our republic. And, yes, I realize that this sense comes through in many of my posts.

But, as is so with every human being, some event in my personal life has had the effect of cold water on my thinking. The thing which will usually do this to an individual is death and that is true of me. It was someone I used to be very close to and we never mended our breach. The good thing is that, over the years, I prayed for him frequently.

Since the revelation, I’ve been thinking of the concept of eternal life and I’ve concluded that most people, even Christians, only give lip-service to the concept until someone we love dies – especially if that person dies young. Or maybe I’m the one who was just giving it lip-service. (I’ve had loved ones pass away before, but they were of great age.)

Anyway, my grief has altered what I think is important — or, perhaps, it has amplified what I already knew. Where we are headed in the next portion of life (aka the afterlife), how we treat others in this portion of life are higher up there now. Fired FBI dude McCabe losing his pension, for example, not so high.

Here’s how I would label this altered state: the latest way that God has blessed me. Hopeful, readers will not wait for God to bless them in like manner.

But His grace is sufficient for me.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-GoDaddy host!

Or hit Juliette’s!

Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure:
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.

The Old Batchelour, 1693:

One of the biggest mistakes people make in marriage is haste. A trip to Vegas, or a rush to a Justice of the peace and suddenly you are in a legal relationship whose failure can cost you plenty.

A long engagement means that you get time to know each other, to spend time with each other, to see how others react in a crisis, to test your judgement. It also gives time to see how you act in conflict because conflicts WILL arise and you need to see how these will be handled.

Now by a long engagement I don’t mean living together, While that does provide some preview of coming events it becomes very easy to fall into the “it’s just a piece of paper” trap, which I will address in a future tip.

In the catholic Church there are meetings and marriage preparation that take place, these allows you to consider things that you have not advised by a person who deals with families every day and has seen marriages work and fail. This is an invaluable tool and a long engagement gives time for it to be used.

Additionally a long engagement give extra time to plan the Wedding date to maximize the chance of distant guests to attend, to give wiggle room in case an issue comes up and to be sure that your Wedding day is a memorable one.

The idea is to have a single wedding day in one’s lifetime, so take the time to make it a good one and it will help make it last.

Previously:  Tip 1:  Choose Wisely

Here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, we are still digging out from two big Nor’easter storms that we’ve gotten in the past week. There are huge piles of snow and big broken tree branches all around my property, but my family was thankfully spared from the power outages that hit this area hard and our little house is still standing. Unfortunately, I’m on my second week with a nasty upper respiratory infection that my kids have caught as well so no sledding or snowman building for us. My dogs, however, had a grand old time jumping around their frozen play yard, so there’s that.

I recently learned that hot toddies can be made with pineapple juice and rum. Not for the kids, of course, although it would have been acceptable for previous generations, and while it did not really much help my symptoms but it did help me care a little bit less about them for a little while. You can make the toddies with any kind of juice, apparently, and whatever spirit you prefer as well – the key ingredients besides the booze and juice are honey and cinnamon. Heat the juice, add the other stuff, stir, and enjoy!

My mom used to make hot toddies with orange juice and whiskey before I developed a food allergy to oranges, but they are traditionally made with tea. Here is a link to a recipe for that: Dr. Pat’s Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

I’m going to have to cut this post short as there are coughing children who need my attention (so no toddies for me). I hope you are all safe and warm and well. I’ve got over the counter cold medicines, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and chicken soup to try to get us through our winter sicknesses but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve got a favorite home remedy or winter comfort food, please share in the comments section.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.