27 April 2011


Alright, I've had enough of this, so it is time for me to call a spade a spade. ANYONE who persists in claiming President Obama is not a natural born American citizen is a RACIST!!! Come on people! We have been through this time and time again! His birth certificate was released and dismissed by THE IDIOT BIRTHER CONSPIRACY THEORISTS because it read "Certificate of Live Birth" rather than specifying "Birth Certificate". So, even though the certificate was released, there were SIGNED AFFIDAVITS from people who VERIFIED his birth certificate, confirmation by officials in Hawaii, and independent investigations and NOW the release of his long-form birth certificate there are STILL people out there claiming that even THIS is a fake. WAKE UP PEOPLE, YOU ARE A BUNCH OF RACIST FOOLS!!!

If you think race isn't a factor in this, think again; when questions were raised about John McCain, an investigation was launched and when evidence presented that he was indeed eligible to run for President, it ENDED RIGHT THERE! Unfortunately, it hasn't ended for President Obama. Do you want to know why it hasn't ended?

It hasn't ended because MORONS like birther leader Orly Taitz are now claiming that, in 1961, Hawaiian officials would have classified Obama as "Negro" rather than using designation "African." Okay...REALLY??? Is Ms. Taitz now an expert on language used in the past? What are HER credentials? Nobody seems to be asking THAT question, are they? Maybe it's because SHE IS WHITE? Hmmm, naaah, that can't be it...except that SHE IS WHITE and a RACIST IDIOT MORON!!!!!!

Obama's father's race is listed as "African", SO WHAT? He was from Kenya, which is in...anybody? anybody? AFRICA! Gee I guess that would make him AFRICAN!

Now I know there's gonna be a lot of hate mail directed my way over this little tirade. I am sure there will be many who will point out that I am just as bad in hurling insults and epithets. Know what? I DON'T CARE. Yell at me all you want; the facts are that if you still believe his birth certificate is fake, you are a RACIST ASSHOLE MORON.

Get my point?

01 March 2011


I'm pissed off and have just about had it with Harley-Davidson STEALERships. Now I know there are some of you out there that already know the first part of this story, so please bear with me and I will get to the point of why I'm so angry now.

You see, back in 2002 Beth and I were stationed in La Maddalena, Italy. Ever since we had started dating in 1998, I told her all the time about the old Sporty I had and later had to sell...I wanted another one because up to that point I had never had the money to pull the trigger. Harley had announced its 100th Anniversary Edition line for 2003 and I got real excited about it. Well Beth, being the awesome woman she is, told me to go ahead and order one because we could afford it, so I ordered the 2003 Dyna-WideGlide.

I loved that bike and Beth loved it when we would go out and ride around Sardinia; in fact she loved it so much that in 2004 she took the MSF Basic Rider Course and we bought her a 2003 Honda Shadow. But I am getting ahead of myself here. You see, in 2004 we transferred back to the states and ended up in Virginia Beach. In June/July 2004, I had orders to report to USNS Spica, which was currently deployed. We decided to go down to New Orleans to see family and friends before I had to ship out.

I rode the Dyna down to New Orleans and, while I was there, I noticed the bike was coming up on its 7000 mile service. So, being the conscientious guy I am, I took it to New Orleans Harley for the service to be done. I received a call from them that afternoon telling me my front brakes needed to be done, so I said sure, do it. Then he says I should also have the rear brakes done as well...just in case, you see. I said no, I would get them done later because, honestly, I hardly use the rear brake on the bike anyway and I knew there was plenty of pad there.

The guy tells me I could be sorry if I didn't get it done but that he would abide my wishes. The next day I picked up the bike and Beth and I rode out to a friend of hers so we could ride together for the day. I started to notice a slight wobble in the bike when I would apply the brakes, but I didn't think much of it at first. A day or two later, I rode out to Jasper, Texas to see some old friends and while I was going down I-10, the bike started wobbling really bad. By the time I got to Lafayette I could barely do 60! Thankfully, Acadian Harley was right there, so I limped into the dealership and asked them to look at it.

The guy found that nearly all the spokes on the rear wheel were loose! I was lucky I didn't kill myself or worse, both of us! I told the guy about New Orleans HD and he looked me straight in the eye and said that was why he quit there and moved here. I can't prove it but I have no doubt that asshole in New Orleans sabotaged my bike to try to force me to come back because the bike was PERFECT on the way to New Orleans.

Okay, now, fast-forward to 2010 when my bike picked up a bolt in the rear tire, completely destroying it and the tube. I trailered her to Meridian, MS to Chunky-River HD for the rear tire to be replaced. Just before I got my bike back, the guy there asked me who does my maintenance. I told him I do and his response was he thought I should bring her there for maintenance because there's always things a home-mechanic will miss. Curiously and slightly amused, I asked him like what. Well, his response was he's seen guys come in with brake failure because they didn't do it right or the steering head bearings would be "all ate-up" (his words, not mine) and it would end up costing them more than if they just came to him the first time.

Thinking nothing of it, I told him thanks but no thanks; I know how to do the maintenance and that is exactly what I am going to do...and I mentioned that I am building a 1975 Ironhead in my garage. Grudgingly, he acquiesced, I paid him, and I got my bike and trailered her home.

Now, come up to today, March 1, 2011. My bike is on the lift in my garage and I am flushing out the front brake lines and practically rebuilding the calipers. Wanna know why? Well, the front brakes were starting to feel a little spongy; I had replaced the pads with new ones about 5 months ago ( I guess...my memory is crap) and the master cylinder was full so I thought the job was done and all was well. Then the front brakes started getting steadily worse and I started hearing a weird sound coming off the front end. Wanna know what I found?

My Electra-Glide is a 2004 model, so it takes DOT 5 Silicone brake fluid. You canNOT mix DOT 5 fluid with any other type or you WILL experience brake failure (not immediate failure, the adverse reaction of the two fluids causes eventual failure...months later). Guess what, boys and girls, my master cylinder is filled with DOT 4 fluid!!! The reason I know this is because DOT 5 fluid is purple in color and DOT 4 is kind of amber-clear. I did not realize this until I had a bottle of DOT 5 fluid in my hands. So now I am flushing the lines and praying to God I won't have to replace all the lines and master cylinder; from what I've read in the Service Manual, flushing them should fix the problem.

Today, I remembered the conversation I had with that guy in Meridian last year and memories of what happened in New Orleans came back as well and, even though I can't prove it, I am now very suspicious of Chunky-River HD; and I am ROYALLY PISSED!!!

There's a fairly decent independent shop near me and I think that is where I will go when I need something done I cannot do myself. Now I know there are those out there who love everything Harley and that's fine...for them. For me, though, the jury's out. My confidence in Harley Service Shops is badly shaken now and I am not sure if I can ever trust them again. What do you think?

07 December 2010

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

69 years ago today, the Japanese fleet attacked Pearl Harbor and thrust the United States into full-scale war. More than 2,400 Americans were killed on this day as Japanese planes dropped bombs and torpedoes into Pearl Harbor, destroying the Pacific Fleet Battleships. As a Navy Veteran, this date is sacred to me; it's sacred to every sailor I have ever known.

The destruction wrought by the Japanese Navy was unprecedented. It also showed the world the superiority of air power over battleships.

As horrific as the attack on Pearl Harbor was, the US Navy carrier fleet, thankfully, was underway that morning and subsequently was not attacked. This little gem of fortune helped the US to quickly counter and eventually prevail over the Japanese.

So do me and every one of the more than 2,400 Americans killed on this day long ago a favor, include them in your prayers tonight. I don't care what your politics are, nor do I care what your religion is, we, as the United States of America, owe those men, all of their brothers-in-arms that fought, and every other servicemember past and present, a debt that can never be fully repaid.

Remember and honor these gallant men; say thank-you to a veteran and shake their hand. Visit any of the National Cemetaries across this country and pay tribute to the brave souls who gave everything they had in service to us. We must always remember this day and what it means, or else we will be doomed.

Take care of yourselves and each other...and never forget...ever.

11 November 2010

Veterans Day: More Than a Day Off

Today is Veterans Day. Across this great nation, on this day, there will be parades, breakfasts, and tributes for veterans. Still, there are others who will look at this day and treat it as just another day; a day off from work, a day to catch all the sales, and generally a day to relax. Many of those people will not even think about the veterans and the sacrifices they made to protect this nation. I bear them no ill-will; if that is how they want to spend veterans day, more power to them.

I cannot say that I am not disappointed, though. Too many people in this great nation have lost sight of our history; they forget to stop and think that if it were not for veterans, we could well have been defeated by the Huns, the Nazis, the Japanese, or the Communists of the Soviet Union and the world today would be much, much different from how it is now. If not for the men and women of yesteryear and today, you would not be able to go to the Public Library and check out a book, you would not be able to walk into a grocery store and buy everything you need to eat for a week or two, you would not be able to express your opinions about the government without fear of retaliation; you get the point.

Our children must be taught that there are people who willingly and routinely give of themselves to protect our country and preserve the freedoms many of us take for granted. Here are some great ideas on how to show your thanks and respect for our veterans:

1) Make it a point to go to a VA medical facility if there's one close-by and say thank-you to the veterans inside. Many of those veterans have no family and their closest friends are likely ones who were killed in combat; you will never know how much a hospitalized veteran appreciates that until you see the joy on his/her face.

2) Donate to the VFW, DAV, American Legion or any other patriotic organization that assists veterans. They rely on members' dues and donations, so a few bucks their way would really help.

3) When you meet a veteran, shake his/her hand, look him/her in the eye and say with all sincerity, "Thank You".

4) Teach your children about the sacrifices veterans made for them.

That's it; I know it doesn't sound like much but these little things mean a whole lot to veterans.

Before I end this post, I want to say Thank You to every single veteran in this country and to all the active duty and reserve that are in harm's way protecting and defending us...and to every man and woman I ever had the privilege to serve with, Thank You, my brothers and sisters, you are what makes this country great and I am honored to know you and call you friend.

That's it, folks, nothing left to say; so I'll close this out with a few of my favorite quotes:

It is the Soldier, not the minister who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, and who allows the protester to burn the flag.

A veteran - whether active duty, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is honor, and there are far too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a veteran.

For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor that the protected will never know.

Peace, out.

05 November 2010

Wake Up Sunshine! Welcome to Reality!

You know, I served 20 years in the US Navy. Over that time I have seen some outstanding sailors and some real dirtbags. The thing about it is, though, that it wasn't until I was on the other side of my career (that means once I passed the 10 year mark) before I noticed the scales tipping. I don't know, maybe I chose not to see it but when I look back it is there plain as day.

I hit the mid-point of my career in 1997. Back then I was stationed in San Diego where I was volunteering and coaching Little League baseball. The kids were all good kids, to be sure, but there was something happening...it seemed like the kids and their parents were changing. So, here I was, working with these kids, teaching them the basics of baseball and how to play; more importantly, they were learning about teamwork and motivation while having fun. Well, our season didn't go as well as we had hoped; our team was eliminated from the championship. I started to tell the kids it was ok, the world wasn't going to end. I told them the old adage my grandpa told me when I was their age: "If at first you don't succeed, try try again." Then one of the kids tells me that's ok, coach, we all get trophies for playing. HUH??!!?? Somehow, somewhere, somebody changed the rules because they felt telling kids they lost hurt their self-esteem; the remedy was to give everybody a trophy.

You see, back in the dark ages, when I played Little League, we had tournaments and championships. The First Place team got a TEAM trophy, individual trophies weren't given. Second place teams got nothing...you got that...NOTHING. Back then it was understood that if you wanted to be recognized and rewarded you had to be the best, nothing less was good enough. Sometimes you won and sometimes you lost and when you lost, you didn't piss and moan about how bad you felt about yourself; what you did was PRACTICE. You practiced as often as you could so that next summer YOUR team would be the champion.

I didn't come back for the next season; I couldn't stomach the fact that these wonderful, bright kids were being set up to fail.

Special Note: If you are under the age of 35, you may not understand what I just said; that's ok, I will explain it to you.

The kids were set up to fail in the future because they were being taught that you don't have to practice and win; everybody gets a trophy! Then I read in the newspaper how schools in San Diego were not putting F's on report cards anymore. Failing grades being harmful to self-esteem and all.

Then, I started noticing the change in the Navy. I had junior sailors who rarely did more than the minimum required and then became quite upset when they didn't get advanced or they didn't get their Navy Achievement Medal. By the time I retired in 2007, I am sorry to say that I left a Navy with more of this attitude than anyone cared to mention. Now, I am NOT putting down sailors. NOT AT ALL. Any person who chooses to serve their country deserves respect and there are thousands of sailors who give more and do more than what is required on a daily basis. They do it all the time. Yet, there isn't an outstanding sailor out there who would disagree with me about the dirtbags.

So, what caused this change in thinking? Well, let's see, a good many years ago, there was a man named Dr. Spock (NO, NOT Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek!). This man, at one point, put a book out that told parents not to spank their children. Disciplining your child this way is wrong became the mantra across the land. Then, we were told that we needed to "positively reinforce" our children; in other words, we were supposed to lavish praise on our children and discipline became "time out". I don't know about you, maybe I'm crazy, but it sure looks to me like we've gone a bit overboard. Now we have a new term for parents; "helicopter parents" are parents who constantly hover over their children, lavishing them with praise, making them feel like they are truly special and better than everyone else.

The result? Well, look around you today. Today's young adults are going out into the world thinking the world owes them. They expect the $50,000 a year job fresh out of college; they think everyone around them should drop to their knees and kiss their feet. When I was on active duty, I watched sailors get Navy Achievement Medals for the damnedest things; the kicker was the baker who received a medal AND a meritorious advancement (read: un-earned) for...get this...BAKING CAKES! These kids today are spoiled rotten because their parents have raised them to think the world should be grateful for their presence!

So what do we do about this? Hell, I don't know. Maybe I should go back to the title of this post; hey kids, WAKE UP to what the rest of us call REALITY!!! Nobody owes you ANYTHING! You deserve NOTHING! You have to WORK to EARN praise and recognition, not sit on your duff waiting for the goodies to come to you! The REAL WORLD doesn't give a damn about your self-esteem!

Parents! WAKE UP! You are setting your kids up to FAIL!!! You want to know why our country is falling behind in math and science? HELLO!!! We are raising a nation of IGNORANT KIDS!!! Oh well, at least they will feel good about themselves.

Disclaimer Alert: If you are not doing this with your kids, you don't have to yell at me because this post isn't aimed at you.

26 October 2010

Life: That thing which happens when making plans

Well, I thought I was finished with this blog. I grew weary of the outright hatred some idiots spewed in the comments section; deleting the comments was doing nothing for me. I was still angry at these morons, especially the "Christian" moron who said I needed to die and burn in hell because I am pro-choice and I support the rights of homosexuals to get married. The result of those comments was me vowing to stop writing this blog and I'm sure there are many other bloggers out there who have felt the same way from time to time. I love the internet, folks, I truly do. The net is a wonderful tool for doing research to get past the talking heads in the media. The caveat I see, though, is that the anonymity of the internet has emboldened some who would otherwise be called cowards. You know these people, they are the ones who would never confront someone in real-life because they are afraid, but give them a keyboard and an internet connection and PRESTO, they become the big badass!

But I digress. So, as I was saying, I had vowed to not write this blog ever again. Then I tried to enroll at Hinds County Comm College and grew so frustrated with their lunacy that I walked away. Then Tulane University opened a campus in Madison, Mississippi, about 30 minutes from my home. So, I wrote about it but then again vowed to not write anymore. Then, yesterday, my writing professor mentioned she had read my blog and thought it was very good. She also told me after class that I should not let the idiots get to me; if I stop writing, they win. That was a complete kick in the head because it made perfect sense! I have never backed down from a challenge and this challenge has galvanized me. I am going to start writing regularly again.

That said, I am going to share a couple of my writing assignments with you. When class first began, we were instructed to write an essay on something we felt strongly about. Mine was a testimonial to military service. Those friends who have served will understand the essay and no explanation will be necessary, some of you may not understand and I welcome your questions about the subject. So, without further ado, here is one of my better essays for your reading pleasure.

The Sheepdog
A long time ago, when I was little more than a cocky 19 year old sailor, I heard an analogy from a crusty, combat-hardened Chief Petty Officer; that analogy would stay with me for my entire military career and the rest of my life. In 1987, when I joined the Navy, the overall attitude toward military personnel seemed to be one of disgust, distrust, and disrespect. In 1988, in Norfolk, Virginia, I could not help but see signs that read, “Dogs and Sailors Keep Off the Grass”. Back then, it was hard to keep a positive attitude about being in the military, especially when every business in the area seemed to be on the look-out for young military men they could rip-off.
It was on my first ship, USS Newport (LST-1179), that I heard this analogy during a mid-night watch. “Son”, he said to me, “the majority of civilians in this country are like sheep.” I asked him what he meant; he replied, “Civilians are like sheep; easily led and easily fooled.” I stifled a laugh as the Chief continued, “We, active-duty military, police, and fire-fighters, are the protectors of the civilian populace; much like the sheepdog that guards and protects the sheep.” He continued this analogy, “The sheepdog keeps the peace and protects the sheep and the sheep fear the sheepdog; they look at the sheepdog and see that he is not far removed from the wolves, weasels, and poachers that threaten them. They fear the sheepdog because they do not want to see the real threats to their lives. They do not want to see the wolves, weasels, and poachers stalking them, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting sheep.”
Initially, I scoffed at this analogy. I told the Chief I thought he was nuts and there was no way civilians could be that dumb. Unphased, he continued his story, “You see, after a while, the sheep become complacent and comfortable; sure in their security and, like a spoiled child, they challenge the authority of the sheepdog. They start to question the need for the sheepdog; they reason the sheepdog is no longer needed because their world is safe. The sheep want the sheepdog to go away so they do not have to be afraid of him anymore.” Slowly, I started to understand what he was talking about. The message hit home when he finished his analogy. He said, “And so it goes that the sheep start chipping away at the sheepdog’s resources and authority until he can do almost nothing to protect the sheep. It is at this moment of weakness when the wolves, weasels and poachers attack; they see the newly vulnerable sheep and the toothless sheepdog and pounce, secure in the knowledge the sheepdog is sufficiently weakened and unable to fight back decisively. The sheepdog still fights gallantly and mightily to turn the predators back. Unfortunately, the sheepdog cannot prevent the loss of sheep to the predators. Ultimately, after a long and arduous fight, the sheepdog turns the tide. It is at this moment the sheep will start asking the sheepdog ‘Why oh why did you not protect us?’ They turn on the sheepdog and blame him for the lax security that left them vulnerable.”
“So,” I asked, “the sheep then vote to what, rearm the sheepdog with the necessary resources to defeat the predators?” “Yep, you got it.” was the Chief’s reply, “do you know what comes next?” I told him I did not know, so he continued with the story, “The sheep vote to rearm the sheepdog. They send the sheepdog off to foreign lands to defeat the predators. Unfortunately, after a while, some sheep will start questioning the need to fight the predators. These sheep will start raising protests against the sheepdog’s fight and blame the sheepdog for starting the fight. These sheep will continue to protest until action is taken to once again cut-off the sheepdog’s resources. The result of this action causes the sheepdog to withdraw in disgrace because the sheep he has fought so hard to protect and defend are now more worried about what the predators will think of them rather than the sheepdog eliminating the predators.”
That analogy amazed and dismayed me. I could not understand why the protected sheep would turn on their protector. I also had no idea that I would be at front-row center to witness this analogy in action. Prior to July 1990, I had seen scorn and hostility toward me and my fellow sailors from the civilian populace. Then, Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait and started the occupation of Kuwait. Stories came across the airwaves of Iraqi soldiers raiding Kuwaiti hospitals, ripping premature Kuwaiti infants from their incubators and bringing the incubators to Iraq for Iraqi premature infants. Reports flew from Kuwait that Iraqi soldiers were raping Kuwaiti girls as young as 6, making their parents watch until they would beat the family to death to save ammunition.
Predictably, the American military was kicked into high gear to liberate Kuwait; the sheer number of troops, planes and ships that deployed was staggering. In March of 1991, after successfully defeating the Iraqis and driving them out of Kuwait, we returned home. We returned home to heroes’ welcomes; yellow ribbons and American flags were flying everywhere and scores of banners around town exclaimed, “Thank You! We Love Our Troops!” The patriotic fervor was intoxicating! Almost instantly, we were celebrities! We were greeted with keys to the city and kisses from beauty pageant queens! I myself felt the pang of embarrassment; sure in the knowledge that I did not deserve such fan-fare. Still, I was amazed at the outpouring of gratitude from the civilian community.
Had I known ahead of time what really caused this change in attitude, I probably would have looked at it with a jaundiced eye. What happened was, after the mass deployment, all these “Military Towns” became ghost towns. Area businesses saw their income drop like a stone. With their husbands/wives/sons/daughters halfway around the world in harm’s way, the military dependents stayed home to watch the news and checked their mailboxes sometimes two and three times a day. E-mail wasn’t around yet, so our only communication was through the Post Office; and it really sucked on the ship when the helo would drop the mail bags on the flight deck and one would fall over the side. So, basically, nobody went out to town; spouses and children went to the family support group on base. Cell phones were not around yet, so families stayed by the phone, hoping upon hope they would get a call and at the same time praying they wouldn’t. The long and short of it was revenue streams dried up and a lot of businesses almost folded. THIS was the phenomenon that shook the area and made them realize the economic impact the military had on the area. The good-will that was in the air lasted for a while but, predictably, the sheep began to talk about how the sheepdog needed to be disarmed. Military bases were put on chopping blocks, force draw-downs were the order of the day. The defense budget was slashed and, again, predictably, the sheepdog was being disarmed and castrated by the sheep. There was a new wind blowing across the country; we needed to be friends with everyone in the world. We needed to apologize to the world for our callous behavior in driving the Iraqis out of Kuwait; we needed to beat our guns into plowshares and bring peace to the world!
The blood-letting of draw-downs and base closures continued unabated for what seemed like forever.
Then, on September 11, 2001, the most devastating attack ever on American soil happened. Two jet-liners flew into the World Trade Center and killed close to 3,000 innocent civilians. Once again, the sheep bleated and moaned about how the sheepdog didn’t protect them. The re-arming again ramped up as troops deployed to Afghanistan and the pro-sheepdog attitude was back.
Now, however, even though the sheepdog is still fighting valiantly on behalf of the sheep, the sheep are starting to turn on the sheepdog again. Attention whores like Cindy Sheehan get more airtime than the troops in the fight. On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died; and so did 13 troops in Afghanistan. These brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country barely got a mention in the press; the press fawned over the Jackson family for weeks. These troops came home in flag-draped coffins; their shattered families mourned and, in some cases, the Westboro Baptist Church from Kansas protested the funerals, yelling slogans like, “Hooray for dead soldiers!” and “God hates fags!” So, not only did some of these families not get any attention from the media, they were also subject to ridicule by the whacko crazies from Kansas.
As those families heard “Taps” played and their tears fell like a summer thunderstorm, the rest of the country was wailing about poor Michael Jackson’s death. Those families went home after the funerals to grieve and try to rebuild their shattered lives; the media was announcing over and over how Jackson’s death had such an impact on the country. For weeks the media cried and moaned about the Jacksons; the city of Los Angeles put on a memorial service (that they later had to pay for out of their already strapped coffers because the Jackson family certainly wasn’t going to foot that bill) and the entire nation grieved over the death of the “King of Pop”. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 13 families were still grieving and dealing with the slap in the face the media dealt them by not saying a word.
Troops are coming home, their bodies mutilated by road-side bombs and suicide bombers. They are coming home to a country that cares more about an entertainer that had been suspected of molesting children than the wounded sheepdog coming home because his body is too damaged to allow him to fight on. Wounded military men and women languish in hospitals that are rife with moldy walls, rats, and God knows what; Lindsey Lohan is in the news for weeks concerning her continued alcohol and drug abuse, rehab, and jail time. A soldier wounded in action comes home to an Army that denies he is wounded and withholds desperately needed care. The Veterans Administration withholds a disability rating, so that soldier quietly dies, waiting for a “grateful nation” to show their gratitude; Washington crows about increasing welfare and food stamps for a section of the population whose majority has never contributed anything productive to society.
The sheepdog is tired and wounded but the sheep don’t care. They will just continue kicking him until he can’t fight anymore; the “grateful nation” is in the middle of a countdown to self-destruction.
Maybe once the sheepdog is dead, the celebrities and professional athletes will rise to the occasion and take up the fight. No they won’t.

Let me know what you think.

19 August 2010

School Days, School Days...

Greetings everybody! Yes, I have been away for a long time and I don't blame you if you don't read my rantings anymore. Thing is, there has been so much going on that it has been very difficult to to write without turning into a raving lunatic...please forgive me. As I am sure a lot of you know, I have decided to go back to college and make good use of my remaining GI Bill eligibility. My decision was not arrived at easily, nor was my choice of schools (I will tell you which school in a bit); and that is why I am writing this tonight. This is a very interesting, albeit a long,story.

You see, back when I retired from active duty (US Navy) in 2007, I applied to University of Phoenix for a 2-year degree in Information Technology. My experiences were, well, a little less than ideal. Apparently, University of Phoenix does not mind having students who cannot put together a coherent thought, much less a sentence, on paper, as long as they can pay the tuition. I received my Associate's Degree in Information Technology in October 2008; I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment! At least, until, companies started laughing at my "degree".

So, I did nothing in 2009 and for most of 2010, until I thought that maybe I would go to the local Community College here in Brandon, MS. I picked up a catalog from Hinds County Community College and found quite a few certificate courses that interested me. I thought it couldn't hurt if I brushed up my welding skills and electrical skills. Uhhh....yeah....about that...my experience with enrolling at HCC was not good, it was not ok, in fact it was possibly the worst experience of my life. I arrived at the Admittance Office to fill out the application and order my official transcripts and was met with stone-cold silence. Nothing. Nada. I'm still not sure if the ladies in there just didn't want to help me or they didn't know how but either way, I was stone-walled mercilessly. When I had trouble getting my unofficial transcripts to print, the antiquated system just did not want to comply and imploded. When I asked for help to use another terminal, again, I was met with nothing, nada. Once my official transcripts arrived, I received a letter from HCC telling me I was accepted on a conditional basis; evidently, my Navy transcript and my transcript from University of Phoenix (3.91 GPA, thank you very much) were not enough for me to enroll in the welding CERTIFICATE program. When I asked about this, I was told there was no proof I had taken English.

YES, you heard me correctly! According to the admittance office at Hinds County Community College, I could not attend their WELDING CERTIFICATE program because I could not prove I took ENGLISH! The fight over this was exhausting and, even though I prevailed, I still had to go toe-to-toe with the counselor because, evidently I was going to be expected to attend one class on Monday and Wednesday, then another class on Tuesday and Thursday, each class from 5pm to 11pm...this while working 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday (a 40 hour week)! Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that seems a bit excessive. I was still in the middle of this battle when the battle over the Montgomery GI Bill began brewing. I bet you're sitting there asking, "What the hell is he talking about?". Well, it goes like this; I called and emailed the Hinds County VA rep several times, but, my calls and emails were never returned. I went to the campus to speak with the VA rep, but the VA rep wasn't there (on TWO visits!) and it wasn't known when he or she would be back. So, eventually I said forget it and stopped altogether. In retrospect, I'm not surprised by this, although I cannot figure out why a state that has an astronomical high school dropout rate would make it so difficult to get into school.

Things looked bleak for a long time after this. I live near Jackson, MS, which we all know is Mississippi's Capitol City. The only other colleges in the area were three "Christian" (no, thank-you) colleges and Jackson State (another no, thank-you); Mississippi State is in Starkville and Ole Miss is in Oxford and living in Brandon makes it untenable, to say the least, to attend these schools. Enter Tulane University! (Yes, THAT Tulane, from New Orleans! Taa-Daa sound right here!) An announcement had been made earlier this year that Tulane University was opening a School of Continuing Studies in Madison, which is only about 30 minutes from my home! Browsing their site, I saw quite a few degree opportunities that interested me, so I applied online and sent my $25 application fee. Guess what happened? I was called that same day!!! Holy Crap, you mean they actually CALLED ME?!? YES, they DID!!!

On the phone with an advisor, I was given the address where my official transcripts could be sent and I was given an email address and phone numbers of all people I would speak with in the process of registering...imagine that! The very next day, I received an e-mail telling me an account was set up for me as I was now a student of Tulane University! I called the Madison office several times with many questions and each time I was met with a warm greeting and enthusiastic help! I called the VA rep in Biloxi and was told I should fax my DD-214 (this is a document that verifies military service) and he would take care of the rest! I did this, and two days later, I received an e-mail from the VA telling me an application for benefits had been filed by Tulane University! I attended the Student Orientation this past Tuesday and went back to the office Wednesday to sign the forms that tell the VA what degree I am pursuing. I initially wanted to pursue a Bachelor's in Journalism but was disappointed when I was informed that particular degree would not be possible in Madison. Before the disappointment showed on my face, the nice lady at the counter told me I could pursue a Bachelor's in Media Arts. Basically, Media Arts is Journalism but with a few other areas include, such as Graphic Design, etc.

So, dear friends, come this Monday, August 23, 2010, I will be a student at Tulane University studying Media Arts. The excitement I feel right now is almost impossible to contain! The way Tulane welcomed me and assisted me in all facets of enrollment, registration, Montgomery GI Bill benefits, and confirmation of courses registration, I cannot believe I ever thought about going to Hinds. It's amazing what can happen when you apply to a REAL university, rather than a Community College...especially here in Mississippi