Friday, December 27, 2013

Slippery Slope

The covert community is all over the news these days; especially with Edward Snowden disseminating stolen, sensitive material. It has also been the fodder of too many novels to even begin to count. I find myself torn and conflicted about the wholesale assault on our espionage community. On the surface their activities seem intrusive and even unconstitutional at times. What mucks it up even more is the explosive growth of personal communication devices and the social community on the internet. I grew up living in countries where daily life as an American or foreigner put you at risk. We have even had folks we knew struck down by terrorists. Before all this unrest in the Mid East, South America suffered from a scourge of terrorism and attacks. Actually, it still does. The Shining Path in Peru, the Tupamaros of Uruguay and FARC in Colombia all have contributed to unrest through out South America. Add in the narco dollars from cartels and you have the potential for violence all over South and Central America. I haven't even mentioned Europe, the Middle East and who knows how many other back water countries. Spies have been around since the dawn of time and there always has been a covert war raging somewhere. Unbeknownst to most folks is that a cat and mouse game (with potentially serious consequences) goes on between us and the members of the diplomatic community both here and abroad. All those attaches that belong to the embassy staff are involved in covert activities in one form or another, He or she may have the title of Agricultural Attaché or supposedly belong to the Agency for International Development (AID) or some other title; but they are all spies. The intelligence gathering is so rife that our country has had to abandon new construction of some diplomatic outposts because of all the bugs embedded in the building. The embassy and consulate staff have to undertake extreme measures to avoid being listened in on. At some of our posts, the staff is paid extra for working in an environment under constant bombardment from microwave and other intrusive devices. Each country keeps a strict count on how many people comprise the staff of each Embassy or Consulate and this goes on throughout the world. This is just scratching the surface because you also have to deal with each countries intelligence agencies; like M I 5 and 6 in Great Britain, our CIA and NSA or the KGB in Russia. I'll throw in moles, too. Agents embedded in our communities and workplace(s) snooping about and doing who knows what. Anyway, after nine eleven our government thought it prudent to throw out a wide net to try and quash any potential acts of terror and perhaps identify the perpetrators. With all that was going on they figured the American people wouldn't mind. This involved tracking phone calls with key phrases and words both from here and abroad. Conspiracists must have rejoiced when Snowden made all this public. For what it's worth, I don't think the NSA, CIA or whoever was and is involved meant any malice toward the average Joe. As I have written previously, I believe this whole personal privacy thing is overrated. Sadly the cow is out the barn on that deal. Unless you know a way to erase your public persona and can drop completely off the grid, forget about it. Back to my being torn and conflicted. I think Edward Snowden did a disservice to this country and should be treated as a traitor. Apparently he is fishing around for an amnesty deal and is tired of being a guest of Mother Russia. I say bring him home and hang him in public. As far as the activities he exposed, I reluctantly think they are a necessary evil. The problem is; and has been for ages, who is watching the watchers?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


It's the day before Santa's big show and I find myself somewhat blasé about the whole affair. The 22nd of December would have been my fathers 81st birthday and he passed on Christmas day. No man is without flaws, but my father was an exceptional human being and he is loved and missed. I will celebrate his life and make the best of the day; he would have wanted it that way.
We will again celebrate Christmas like a lot of other Gate Guards; ever vigilant and at our post. It is a oft times thankless job, but we didn't sign up expecting accolades. Unlike the drilling rigs we have protected, the fracking crew will shut down for a few days starting at noon on the Monday before Christmas. It is interesting to note that we initially dreaded getting assigned to a fracking crew. All we heard about was the traffic, the dust and general busyness of frack gates. Now we have grown accustomed to it all and find it's really not that bad. I will say that sustaining a professional effort and maintaining an upbeat attitude becomes more difficult after multiple fracks without a break. The crew we are currently with have worked with us before and that makes the job easier. This crew also has a full time caterer so we are eating well and saving on groceries!

Our long term plans call for a Memorial Day break to compete in a chili cook off and we hope to visit some relatives next year. I also have hopes of visiting a national park before my demise. How ironic that I have travelled the world and not seen our national parks!

Missy and I, along with our pack of animals, sincerely wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. I hope you get to spend it with someone you love and care about.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Writer's Block

I have been suffering from a horrendous cold. At least that is what I am told. Frankly it feels more like the flu or walking pneumonia to me. The oilfield workers say it's the "crud" and it's going around. As some of my dear readers know, I suffer from heart disease and I have had a quadruple bypass. What they might not know is that coughing is never the same once your chest has been split open. I am not soliciting sympathy; far from it, I am simply providing an update. I figured that I haven't made a blog submission for a while and that I owe my readers an explanation. The cold, crud or whatever it is also manifests itself by making even the simplest tasks difficult. I also owe Missy and those around me an apology as I know I have been difficult to work with during my illness. Basically I am a terrible patient.
Anyway, along with being a terrible patient, I am a Scrooge. As I have said in the past the commercialization of Christmas seemed to take all the joy out of the holiday. It seems more and more that the value of a present has far more meaning than the thought behind it. Then, good old capitalization sets in, and; before you know it, everyone is trying to out give the other. Often times someone in the group/family just can't keep up and simply gets outspent. Bad feelings commence...need I go on? In my case if you get more than a card you're doing well! I watched my father try for years to get the perfect present for my mother. Most times he failed. Silly man, all a woman really wants (I said really) is your love and some pampering-like some spa time or a mani-ped. C'mon ladies! You know I am right. As far as this male goes; keep it simple. A six pack or two of my favorite brew and a box set of Justified and I'm set. So my advice to you this Christmas is to get back to basics and show your partner that you truly care for him or her.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Trip Back in Time

Recently our time off coincided with the move of a friend into an older home. We volunteered to help her get settled and the first order of business was a thorough inspection of the new digs. Wow! It was an older home (built in the forties) replete with gas heat via ancient ceramic heaters. While the heaters still worked the house did have a central heat and air system retrofitted; for those of you that were concerned. A trip into the kitchen revealed a charming, virtually intact Magic Chef oven from the early fifties! Of course, there were wood floors throughout the house. The "flow" sucked, of course; but they didn't worry about those things back then. I'm not sure what the exterior walls were made of, but the house retained a chill throughout an 80 degree plus day. We spent the better part of two days helping clean and organize. But, isn't that what real friends are for?