Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Thursday, November 22, 2012

C: How Much Reward is Required?

My now-calendar rewardsgrown son likes to remind me of a “scam” we used to run on him when he was young.  We put a special calendar up on the wall just to record his good behavior.  He would earn one of those gummed gold stars on the calendar for each of several specified good deeds.

He now tells us that he paid great attention to the opportunity to fill gummed starsthose little calendar squares up with the shiny stars.  It caused him to eat way more green beans than he would otherwise have eaten (which would have been none).  It was responsible for many more beds made without asking.  It just, generally, served to achieve parental purposes at very little cost to Dad and me.

Son now says (good naturedly), “I can’t believe I fell for that!  All that effort for a stupid star!”

And we both wonder why it worked like it did.

I was reminded of this the other day bejeweledas I played my latest time-waste game on my I-Pad – Bedazzled.  I become mesmerized by this game, trying to line up like “jewels” so that they will pop and go away, others dropping in their place.

If I am good enough, I get “special” jewels that sparkle or seem to be on fire.  These make a spectacular fireworks display when they are discharged by lining them up with others like them.bejeweled 2

If I’m really good, I get a message, like the “Excellent” shown in this picture.  It is always such a thrill to get this message of encouragement.

And, let’s don’t forget the points!  You get points for lining up like jewels so that they pop and disappear.  And you get even more points for the “special jewels.”

And all this counts for what?  Nothing, that’s what.  It reminds me of the gold-star scam, above.  It makes me wonder about the psychology of reward and what’s really required for our brain to see something as rewardsa reward.  Surely, it isn’t only identifiable return…

I’ve said it before:  It takes so little to amuse me.

Kind of embarrassing when you think about it. - C

PS – don’t take this as some declaration that I’ll quit this time-waste game…

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

V: Thanksgiving Ramblings


Keep Calm and Gobble On


I’m cooking today—all day!  I’ll be cooking tomorrow too for our family gathering.   C will be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at her sister’s home with family.  She’s taking apple enchiladas!  Maybe she will share her recipe with us all!

When it’s all over  I will be exhausted for sure, but we have so much to be thankful for—not that I always remember that……


Thanksgiving table


We may use the real china like my grandmother always did and her silver which stays in the wooden chest in the buffet.  I’ll make homemade cranberry sauce with a little orange essence and there will be the canned jellied variety for hubby who is picky!  Visit www.susanbranch.com for her great recipe for cranberry sauce in the oven!  I’ll serve some spiced peaches in a crystal dish because my grandmother Elsie always had them on the Thanksgiving table—apple rings at Christmas.  Traditions live on in those that follow.  I usually feel a bit melancholy at the holiday season remembering those who are no longer with us.


I happened onto Edie’s post on poverty last evening and I wanted to share it with you!  Edie’s blog is a happy place, but I especially love her postings on the deeper things of theology!  She’s not a theologian (she’s actually a physician who now homeschools her girls), but I really appreciate her writings on spiritual life.  She has a book club too!  She’s been delving into the classics and even ventured into little videos which you can watch.  Not sure if C and I will ever go there, but it might be fun!  You can read Edie’s new post at www.lifeingraceblog.com.  It’s titled:  My Poverty (and Yours).



Black Friday

So I will NOT be shopping on Black Friday—and certainly NOT on Thanksgiving!!!  We’ll be stuffing ourselves silly and watching movies—Miracle on 34th Street is a favorite tradition!  I actually like the newer version best!  So how about you out there in blogland?  What are you cooking?  Do you shop on Black Friday?  What are you most thankful for this year?


This is my favorite scripture when I think of Thanksgiving—there’s a lot of theology in Psalm 100!  May we remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!



Friday, November 16, 2012

C: RANT WARNING–“Public v. Private” Matters

Nothing like a sex scandal to bring me out of temporary blog retirement. But, really, this isn’t a “sex scandal” per se, rather something much more. I smiled to myself that the very last post I wrote on this blog was about Benghazi, which is so intertwined with this subject matter which is: Generals Petraeus and Allen; Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley. For your reference as we go through this scenario, here is a little diagram:

petraeus mess

Deep breath…here I go.

When I hear diametrically-opposed opinions from someone I respect, I sit up and take note. In this instance, it is my blog friend, Karen, from This Old House, Too. Karen’s posted a couple days ago on this subject, lamenting that we have to hear about this scandal ad nauseum and that it is nobody’s business but that of the players.

I don’t get this and replied (lengthily, as none of you will be surprised), that it is, indeed, my business when the head of MY CIA engages in risky behaviors. This is Karen’s reply (in color) to my comment (redacted for space, but you can see the entire exchange by perusing her blog comments—and her blog, itself, is worth the visit).

I'm sorry C... I still do not agree with you in a big way. HUMANS will always have their sexual daliances...Just because we made it our business a long time ago to try to force human nature out of the human by insisting on monogamy...even though it goes against basic human nature.... I don't care what their position is in government, we have no business in their bedrooms. And the reports I'm reading state that there is no evidence that he gave away classified information. You can assume all you want because you are angry over the indiscretion... doesn't make it fact. We need to get real about our expectations and stop making other people's sexual -whatever - our business. Now, if they come up with hard evidence that he gave away intelligence information that could inform a "spy"... then he should be prosecuted to the hilt. I don't see that happening. The man has had an exemplary career. Stellar, in fact.
Anyway... you have a right to your opinion on this and time will tell whether this was a ridiculous witch hunt or had merit.
[the emphasis shown is mine because I don’t want to forget this and because it is part of the crux of this post]

While I agree that it is sickening to hear about this affair, I believe that we NEED to hear it.

We must consider risk factors to determine fitness of a person for a particular position or activity.

Do you think it is okay for a person seeking a high corporate position to be vetted as to his credit score? I do, because experience has shown that people experiencing serious financial difficulties may be led to do unethical things they might not otherwise do. I believe that the cause-and-effect risk effect in this particular scenario is a valid one.

In the Petraeus case, I believe that his “private” behavior mattered to the performance of and his fitness for his job  in much the same way. At the time of his affair he was head of our CIA. We traditionally worry about spies being in compromising positions because they hold the keys to so much of our national security information. Here it involved the man who holds the key to all of our national security information (or almost all of it…not sure how all that works).

Do not forget that he represents YOU. He was, at all times, YOUR EMPLOYEE. This is NOT a private matter. It is my tax dollars at work, my national security, and a serious business--beyond the usual scumbagness of adultery.

I do believe, as I told Karen, that it is a sorry statement that so many of us are willing to turn blind eyes to this serious business on the pretext of "privacy." I hold to my opinion that this is not a private matter. It's my government. And people in MY responsible positions ought to act responsibly for very good reasons.  If they want to be big shots in a pool where they can privately act in such a way, they can head up Ford Motors, but not my CIA.

Now, Moving from Philosophy to Substance:  Accounts I am reading say Paula Broadwall had information that she had no business having. Look at these very recent sources:

First, an ABC news report on November 15, 2012 5:28 PM which can be found here

Obama stressed that the affair posed no threat to national security: "I have no evidence, from what I have seen at this point, that classified information was exposed," Obama said Wednesday at a White House news conference. But it turns out that some was: the FBI has found a "substantial" amount of classified information on the personal computer of Broadwell…

Though the contents of the material obviously can't be revealed, officials say it is significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation. According to ABC sources, officials also found documents Broadwell admitted taking from secure government buildings. Broadwell has now been stripped of her military security clearance. Prosecutors are now determining whether to charge Broadwell with a crime.

Or look at what the UK’s Telegraph is reporting on November 15, 2012, quoting ABC sources, here:

Yesterday, senior government lawyers said they were keen to question Mrs Broadwell over how she came by the undisclosed material. They are also anxious to ascertain the source of the former Army reservist's information on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

In a speech at the University of Denver … Broadwell told the audience: "Now I don't know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually – had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that's still being vetted."

US officials have so far made no reference to the possibility of prisoners being the catalyst for the much criticised bloodshed in Benghazi.

So, we have the lover of the head of our CIA trotting around spouting in speeches stuff she has no right to even know and having classified information that she should not have and which the General denies giving her.

· Do you know that it is a federal offense to have classified information in your home, especially if you aren't cleared for it?

· Don't you think that is a good idea? Don’t you want classified information protected?

· Don’t you want responsible positions occupied by people who will adhere to the law concerning the dissemination of that information?

· If there is some criteria that says a person who is involved in risky behaviors is more prone to violate that responsibility, don’t you want to know that about them before they take that office?

· Am I the only one who considers this important?

Let’s move on to another player: General Allen, who is in Afghanistan, being considered for the Supreme Commander, NATO position. He has been found to have sent “thousands” of “flirtatious” emails to Jill Kelley of Florida, married “socialite” who was “close” to the two generals involved. It was to Kelley that Broadwell penned “cat-fight” emails (characterization is not mine—one of the news reports called it that).

Kelley is interesting only in the context of this scandal. She was given a “position” by General Petraeus: “Honorary consul for South Korea” so that she could “promote free trade.” Amazing (stifling giggle, here).

You could not make this stuff up and be believed.

Ms. Kelley may just be a socialite, but she knows opportunity when she sees it. Let’s look at an ABC news report on her published on November 15, 2012. The entire article can be found here:

This article tells the story of Adam Victor, a New York businessman who discussed a multi-billion-dollar Korean business deal with Jill Kelley who told him (and this is important) that Petraeus had arranged for her title as consul and that this put her in a position to “…have access to senior levels of the Korean Government…”

Ms. Kelley had absolutely no other credentials to be “promoting free trade” at senior levels…. She simply had the endorsement of your general (and mine) and cloaked in that credibility attempted to conduct serious trade discussions.  She demanded of Mr. Victor—are you ready for this?—a payment to her of $80 million for her services!

What do you call this? Is it influence peddling? If not, why not? Is it ethical? Is it what you want your General and your CIA director doing? As a citizen boss, do you think it might have been better not to “bestow” such a title which leads others to believe she was a serious player in global free trade?

Victor went on to say he was disappointed in Petraeus for helping Kelley become an honorary consul. "Frankly, I blame Gen. Petraeus for this as a lapse of judgment…" Ya think?

We won’t even talk about the dork FBI agent who sent Kelley his shirtless picture. I think he’s fired and, if not, I want him off my payroll. He’s obviously of inferior intelligence to what I expect of my FBI agents.

Now for the real concern I have here. I am deeply disturbed by the way the attack on our Ambassador to Libya went down on September 11, 2012.  I want to know what happened (within the constraints of true national security) and I want to be sure that it won’t happen again to the extent that we can.

As I type this there is the television blare of Petraeus’ testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.  At least he is willing to say that what the White House was initially saying was not true, but the reports are (Chairman of the Committee) that Petraeus’ testimony today differed from his initial testimony before the committee.)

Apparently, he told the committee that the report that UN Ambassador (bless her heart) was trotted out by the White House to distribute was “at odds” with the report that the intelligence community gave to the White House. (Insert sacrificial lamb, here). The committee exonerates Ambassador Rice, saying that she only did what she was told and probably had no idea that she was fed lies by the White House for this purpose. (My language—they were much nicer).

What do I expect of persons who are in the type of government positions occupied by these two generals? 

  • I want people who heed all my Ambassadors’ pleas for more security…especially in places like Libya.
  • I want folks who will pull out stops to save those who have gone in my service into harm’s way.  I do not want officials who hole up in some “situation room” watching as those people end up giving their lives while NO ATTEMPT WAS BEING MADE BY WASHINGTON TO SAVE THEM.
  • I want leaders who are strong enough not to throw up red herrings (anti-Islamic Youtube film) to excuse their failure to act.
  • I want LEADERS OF GRAVITY AND INTEGRITY who we can trust to act on our behalf to protect those overseas workers and who, when things go wrong, will not lie to us in explanation.
  • And Here is Where it Comes Full Circle, Encompassing the Generals, The Girls, and Benghazi:  I want leaders of integrity who, when they speak on these weighty matters, won’t have their words sullied by stupid acts of sex-above-all-else which cause us to wonder about their over-all judgment and veracity and which may have led to breaches of secure information. 

Yep, I’m steamed.  And it ain’t about the adultery right now.  It’s about folks acting in ways that fly in the face of serious and sober responsibilities they are charged with—giving heavy titles of consulates to light-weight socialites; allowing access to my country’s deepest secrets by lovers with loose lips.

I think it just generally benefits us all to demand a level of integrity and mature, sober behavior from our leaders.

And I submit to you that all the factors which bear on the above are public, not private matters.

So there!  -C

Sunday, November 11, 2012

V: Inside, Outside




Cats are such connoisseurs of comfort!  These sweet boys were rescued from a plastic bag in a trash dumpster!  They had five littermates who thankfully have all found homes!  Someone’s “trash” is another’s treasure.  My grandkids are really enjoying the new kitties!



Such a little imp!




Always into something!

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The big rescue dog, Cowboy, always watchful and protective.



Barn kitty, Pumpkin,  is checking out the coop!




Free Range Chickens lay tasty eggs!  Perhaps they think the gazing ball is a huge egg!




Cowgirl in training!



  Have a great week!


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