Book Review – Wolf Pack by C. J. Box

Wolf Pack by C.J. Box

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A GREAT three day read! I got started on this particular C. J. Box novel and couldn’t put it down! It keeps moving and the interplay of themes which include the real-live wolf pack as well as the human “wolf pack” keep you thinking about what the outcome of this series of murders and Sheriff Joe Pickett’s life problems will be. Author Box got it just right with the trade-off of chapters between the deliberate actions by Joe and the his sidekick Nate and the mayhem and chaos sown by the human wolves of the Sinola Cartel. The Western setting of Wyoming is where author Box does the best descriptive work being familiar with the Bighorn Mountains. I loved the falconry and the episode with the drone that sets the wildness of the area against the technology that is invading it. A couple of the murders are a bit over the top for Box’s normal action writing, but still do a very good job of setting the stage for the action in Saddlestring, WY and the fitting triumph of justice in the very fitting ending.



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Book Review: Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes



goodreads.com/book/show/1604503

This is my first book by author Ben Coes and I think I’ll go right ahead and look for another of his books because he gives you a bit of everything in this action thriller starring Dewey Andreas, a former Ranger and Delta operative. The motion never stops, the motives for revenge are strong and the characters on both sides are cunning in their planning, double crossing and execution of plots that lead to the assassination of an Israeli Mossad mole, the killing of a U.S. National Security Advisor, the Kidnapping of a Russian arms dealer and the drawing out of Dewey’s most formidable opponent in covert warfare, Fao Bhang of North Korea. The author keeps you engaged, involved with the characters so that at times you actually empathize for the bad guys although you know good will triumph in the end. Enjoy the read.



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Starting Schools – Failure of National Leadership with Opening just around the corner!

The United States of America has become a disease ridden country through Failure of Leadership at the National, State and Local levels of Government with few exceptions.

Dont! Start School LikeThis!

+ =

If you disagree that school can open here safely without mandatory masks, testing, and social distancing, then answer these questions:

HOW can the USA with 329.9 Million people have 75,821 new cases of Covid 19 on 17 July 2020,

WHEN:

  1. China with 1 Billion 429.3 Million only has 22 new cases on this same day?

2. India, has 1 Billion, 380 Million People yet only 34,956 new cases on the same day?

3. Germany, U.K., Italy, France. Spain with 326 Million People combined has only 10,759 cases?

What is the USA doing wrong in fighting this Forest fire!

The Forest Fire rages because the President doesn’t support mandatory mask wearing and social distancing for all even as we go back to work. The President has not called a Nationwide conference of Governors to get everyone onto the same page with masks and social distancing. The Governors have not acted in unison to get their states to honor mask wearing and social distancing and to have CONSEQUENCES for Adults who can’t follow basic health rules.

Because we have no unified nationwide attack on this disease, which, by the way, doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor, doesn’t give a rip about your race, and really doesn’t care what age you are, it won’t stop as long as we keep feeding it with more juicy little bodies.

. + or and peace of mind?

YOUR KIDS ARE NEXT IN LINE: THINK ABOUT THIS LONG AND HARD BEFORE YOU SEND tTHEM BACK TO SCHOOL WITH NO MASKS OR SOCIAL DISTANCING OR ANY PLAN TO KEEP YOUR TEACHERS AND STAFF AND AUXILIARY STAFF SAFE AS WELL SO YOU CAN GO BACK TO WORK

WITH PEACE OF MIND!

Help Douse The FIRE OF COVID-19:

Wear A Mask and Social Distance! And demand that your Schools Open with this in mind!

visit to the Dentist: How Hypochlorous Acid Dispensers can help schools open more safely

IF YOU ARE IN A RUSH, SKIP TO THE LAST 4 PARAGRAPHS WITH KEY LINKS!

I generally hate going to the dentist, but the other day, having been given the grace of three months by our COVID director, I went in for my annual inspection and tooth cleaning. Here’s what I found out which as a former Science teacher and Secondary School Principal gave me increased hope for modified openings of schools on a safer level for teachers and students.

My dental technician was suited up per usual in her scrubs, gloves, goggles and wearing her surgical mask per usual with the addition of extra masking even though I had already been quizzed about my recent contacts, symptoms, had my own temperature taken, and was wearing my mask.

“So you’re finally back at work. This must be one of the most dangerous types of profession for exposure to the Virus,” I said.

“Yes, we’re right up there at the top, about in the 97th percentile group of those most likely to get the virus from our work,” she replied.

“Not comforting,” I replied.

“No, but we have to keep the beans and bacon on the table. We were one of the first dental offices to close and one of the last to open, because the Dr. and all of us here wanted to get the safety thing right.”

“So what have you done?” She hands me the special glasses and tips me back i n the chair.

Dr. found a way to cut down the escape of aerosol splattering when we use our sprayers or do drill work with the water on as a coolant. He also found some great HEPA air filters that take COVID viral particles out of the air and are quiet enough to use in our office and work areas. Best of all! He found that Hypochlorous Acid in a safe anti-microbial mist in each room kills viruses on contact, by forming a protective film on the surfaces of the counters and anything we might touch so that any viruses are instantly killed.”

She pauses, reaches over and flips a little toggle and I hear a sucking sound coming from the little funnel just next to my left ear. The water squirter goes into my mouth and she cleans out the first batch of debris in the regular manner, while I feel a slight movement of air from my mouth, past my cheek toward the mouth of the funnel. She stops washing, flips the suction apparatus off, and says, ” Open wide” before I have a chance to say anything.

” Pretty neat, Huh?”

“Ungh-Ungh,” I manage as she presses down and scrapes the back of my lower incisors, going after a year’s worth of plaque.

“Good Gums!” she says, bearing down one more time on the scraper. “We all know the basic drill : Social Distancing, Don’t touch your face, Wash your hands and Wear a Mask! If everyone did these things, our country would already be out of this crisis the way many other parts of the world are.”

“Ung-Ung!”

“Butwe don’t teach self-discipline in our country, so it’s like herding cats. Those of us who have to work need to look out for good old # 1, because the Dufus-ass who walks into our work place may not have the brains to folow the basics.” She lets me sit up for a second.

“So what are you doing to keep safe? 97th percentile doesn’t sound like a good place to be.” She leans me back.

We bought us these HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters that take spores, bacteria, many viruses out of the air completely. See the link: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=hepa+filters+are+used+to+remove+microbes+from They are so efficient that they take things out of the air down to 3 nano meters. Since Covid 19 Virus is qbout 120 nano meters in diameter. Bingo! Virus! Out you GO!

“But that can’t stop your Dufus from getting spit on your equipment or countertops. What do you do?” I manage to blurt out before the next round of scraping and cleaning begin.

Hypochlorous Acid!”

I must have jerked because she sat me up and let me breath for a moment.

No, silly, you’ve had chemistry, Not that stuff! That would Kill you! I said: HYPOCHLOROUS” She spelled it out, “H-Y-P-O-C-H-L-O-R-O-U-S”

“Eh?”

The good Doc walked in about that time. “Tell him about hypocholous acid, Dr.,” she said.

“A Great natural killer of bacteria and viruses,” he said. “Your body makes it is certain blood cells. In the office and here, it can be disseminated in an aerosol of 200parts per million by a machine in hospitals, operating rooms, our dental office, even regular work offices. We have a special generator for it. Kind of our extra insurance policy that we don’t get COVID19 here in our office. Here, Let me give you the link to a Dentist who really explains it. Got your Cell Phone?

I whip out my phone!

Here’s the link! Dentist During Corona Virus: https://abc7news.com/dentist-during-coronavirus-near-me-open-and/6213749/Complete with a Video!

“Wow! “Could this be used to safely disinfect schools during COVID?”

It’s approved by the FDA and The National Institutes of Health have done studies on in for Office use for exactly that purpose! Here’s a Link to that really important set of informtion! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315945/

Is it being used?

“Well it’s been used in a number of schools that had Influenza problems and works on a rotational basis. Here’s one good one that all Educational Leaders should be looking at right now. Fort Smith Schools did it with just one Fogger Per School! ! I’ll bet it will work for everyone in the country if we can just persuade some leaders! https://www.fortsmithschools.org/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=39&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=76112&PageID=1

The Doc glances around my mouth. “Hmmm, Nice Gums! Keep up the flossing!” Then He’s headed out the door.

Thanks Doc! You may have just saved one heck of a lot of lives! “

WHAT DO YOU THINK!!

Veterans! Re-purposing Those old Military Uniform Buttons

It’s been a Loooong…. time since I wore any part of my old military uniform. Kind of like 50+ years.

Mainly because I worm most of my old fatigues out (I do still have an old set of Tigers) or gave a couple of shirts to my daughters who wanted to wear them back in the late 90’s when it was cool at school. My dress uniform hung in the closet until it actually got clothes moths in Roseburg, Oregon and I decided to decommission it by removing the buttons and then giving it the old back yard cremation and burial.

So for 40+ yrs. I’ve had the buttons kicking around with my medals and coin collection. What to do with them in an age when I now wear hearing aids, glasses and gimp around at half the pace I could sustain at my peak at 25?

Then a buddy gave me an idea on a hike!

We are walking along through the woods headed up to Burnt Lake on the side of Mt. Hood and I note that he has buttons on his glasses frames. Buttons on your Glasses Frames ..You say?…..

So he asked me, “ Have you ever had your COVID 19 mask straps catch on my hearing aides?”

No Duh, guy. Who hasn’t at our age?”

So he whips out his mask from a pocket and slips it on, hooking the elastic behind the two buttons on his glasses frames rather than onto his ears.

Intense watching on my part. Memories of my ‘Old Man’ saying, “Watch and Learn!”

Then he whips off the mask and stuffs it back in his pocket. “Cool Huh?”

Whoa, Dude! What a great idea! I’ll bet I can do that too when I get home!”

At home, searching through buttons, I come across a lone ‘fake military button’ that has a great flange on the back with a rectangular hole. Eureka! No messing with thread, D-rings, or elastic, this will fit right on the glasses frames.”

I dig out my Real buttons.

Plunge the curved earpiece ends of my wire frames into boiling water, straighten the curved ear piece and pull off the plastic ear pad. Slip the button on so that the eagle is upright, slip back the ear pad and put a drop of glue to hold everything in place. Voila!

Here are my glasses!

Here is my mask.

Here it is on! Great!

Patriotic and Useful! Yeah!

Remember, there are only two weapons we have against this Virus which is beginning to look like it’s getting lose like an Oregon wildfire with a 50mph wind:

1. Wearing masks and 2. Social Distancing.

You don’t want to get downwind of this baby or your Goose could be Cooked! If you haven’t watch Dr. Fauci’s presentation, click here. this guy is the expert and doesn’t beat around the bush.

Keep Safe, wear those masks, Veterans! https://news.yahoo.com/cdc-docs-coronavirus-32-states-spike-in-covid-cases-fauci-174651410.html?.tsrc=daily_mail&uh_test=2_15

Most Deadly! Malaria vs Covid-19

When I was 16 my father gave me a copy of “Animals without Backbones” by Ralph Buchsbaum (1957). In it is a sentence that still applies to much of our world to day: ” Malaria is the most important disease of man in the world as a whole. At least half the people who die, from all causes, are probably killed directly or indirectly by this disease” Wow! Holy Cow! ….“The apalling social and ecnomic consequences of this widespread disease make it a problem that requires attack not by individuals alone, but by Governments”

In 1966 when I went to Cameroon for two years, my Dad, a microbiologist, talked to me about his concerns that I would be working in an area of the world known at that time as The White Man’s Grave! because of all the parasitic and other diseases.

Even today, despite modern medicine, Malaria is a disease to recon with for humanity. It has developed resistance to many of the drugs used to treat it, and still kills between 1,000,000 and 3,000,000 persons each year, many of them children. In fact, under the age of 5 years of age, Malaria kills 50% of the children who contract it and are not treated. Now wonder the deadly genetic adaptation of Sickle Cell Anemia, developed in Africa as a way of saving lives from Malaria, because it gives some ability to fight off the disease to about 50% of persons who carry one gene while killing 25% who carry two genes and leaving 25% of the population with no gene to take their chances. Whoa! Heavy! Dude! https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sickle-cell-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355876

People in areas of the world with Malaria take precautions when in Malarial areas of the world They take the latest medications prescribed by their doctors, sleep under mosquito nets, wear insect repellent or clothing impregnated with repellent, don’t go outside in the evenings, drain swamps, spray swamps and houses with insecticide, etc. Here’s what the Brit’s recommend and it ain’t just having another swig of your Gin with Quinine tonic water: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/malaria/prevention/

Now let’s look at Covid-19 also a nasty customer.

  • World Wide – 9,180,000 Cases – 475,000 Deaths – 5.17% mortality of those identified with COVID 19 – USA – 2,390,000 Cases – 123,000 Deaths – 5.15% mortality of those identified with COVID 19
  • Doesn’t sound too bad when compared with the Stats for Malaia you think?
  • Well Think again. This disease is spread by human contact not some bug that just happens around.
  • If every infected person touches, spits on, shouts at yaks for several hours with, dances with …with other humans and only gives three other people the disease and and those three each only give three more people the disease, and so on, the progression is :
  • 1,3,9,27,81, 243, 729, 2187, 6561, 19683, 59,049, 177147, 531441, 1,594,323, 4,782,969, 14,348,907
  • 16 x with 2 weeks in between each of these gives us over 14,000,000 cases possible in 8 months
  • We’ve done a bit, but we don’t have many things we can do. fortunately we can pause the viral spread in the USA with more attention to:
  • Social Distancing
  • Wearing Masks
  • Washing our hands
  • keeping to small groups
  • etc. as the good Dr. Fauci recommends

Now watch this very short Graphic Video comparing reported COVID 19 death to Malaria and othercauses of death: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/2634167/?fbclid=IwAR126Ac8bDgeIKRca8uE5xA_obz0_sSidlVmyb65xq6dswNGAPvGfwb-BOI

AMAZING! Watch it again if you didn’t catch what is happening to the COVID 19 stats!

Don’t stop the precautions folks, cause the next 16 weeks could be really bad since we aren’t starting at 1!

Varied Pandemic Response is not new! Look at National Geographic’s 1918 – 1920 Spanish Flue information – Revealing!

We always tend to think of ourselves being on the cutting edge of innovation and change as we move forward in our human endeavors around the world. In fact, History and Geography can tell us as far back as written history goes, that we have been locked into certain human behaviors that haven’t changed a lot since we walked out of the caves in Africa some 2 million years ago.

The 1918 Flue Pandemic illustrates how with one hand we can try to modify human behaviors with rules and with the other we can choose at the drop of a hat to ignore or avoid those same rules. The Geographic’s description of trying to get mask use in Paris -1919 is one example: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=History_20200615&rid=B26615A77E4786091E9D169FFF2601A7

The Geographic’s description of how Philadelphia came down hard on various behaviors in 1918, and then only days later allowed a parade of over 200,000 people is another: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/03/how-cities-flattened-curve-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-coronavirus/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=History_20200615&rid=B26615A77E4786091E9D169FFF2601A7

If History and Geography are correct, don’t expect you will see an end to our current Covid -19 Pandemic for quite some time as the bug keeps moving along at it’s own pace. Note our own recent changes in outbreaks across the country and as people loosen up too much, wait 15 – 20 days and watch for the blips that will appear in various localities. https://www.yahoo.com/news/infectious-disease-expert-says-coronavirus-180244347.html

Hood River Oregon is a typical example of social gatherings that result in the virus getting into the very safety conscious fruit packing houses and then spreading into our community. Some who get the disease will be deniers of the problem, others will be persons who have worked hard to avoid getting the disease. Random chance and mother nature don’t pay a whole lot of attention to our human opinions, wishes and behaviors, they are just facts of life. https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=hood+river+covid+19+cases&fr=yfp-t-s-m&fp=1&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8

Keep wearing those masks and maintaining social distancing folks!

Saving the Postal Service – national Treasure to Protect Freedom of Speech and Voting -Thank a Mailperson

As a kid back in the 50’s, living in rural Montana, the arrival of the daily mail was always an adventure. We would run out to the mailbox on Sourdough Road and thumb through the letters hoping for that next birthday card from Aunt Pat with a 2$ bill in it since she worked for the railway, or the small packet of new stamps from the Littleton Stamp company, or the next chess move from our chess-mail opponent. After summer church camp it was always in hopes of having that one sweet note from the girl who held your hand at campfire.

Now, 70 years later, in rural Oregon, I am still expectant of the daily mail. It’s a common ritual for my Welsh Terrier to run up and wait for the leash each afternoon during the warmer months so we can hike up the quarter mile to the Dee Highway and collect the latest magazine, or the Hood River News (now delivered by mail), or the Christmas and birthday cards hidden amid the piles of junk mail and requests for donations from a plethora or charities and non-profits. At least twice a year I collect my voting ballot from the box so that I can complete my civic right to vote for local, state and national representatives and ballot measures because Oregon is a vote by mail state.

The mail is a method of mass communication in our nation, whether it is from politicians, corporations or friends. It has a real purpose and function in unifying a nation through a safe system of information dissemination while we receive more and more misinformation through the electronic world disseminated electronically by our political leaders, multinational corporations, and scammers of all kinds who face no penalties for lying, cheating and stealing in the manner set up by our nation to guard the sanctity and safety of postal transactions.

When I receive a registered or receipted piece of mail through the post office, I know automatically that I have legal protections which have protected Americans for over a century. I don’t have to read and e-sign ten pages of disclaimer and give up my right to sue and got to arbitration to solve a problem, No, I know that if I do have a problem, I can report it to the Postal Service and they will follow up on it with the full power of the federal government including the FBI behind them.

So why is it, fellow Americans that our postal service is in danger of: being shut down? going bankrupt? ceasing essential services? Being taxed with burdensome retirement penalties that do not apply to the rest of the federal government? Why in a time of social distancing, massive losses of jobs, rampant unemployment, prohibition on large group gatherings, fear of going to the crowded ballot box lines and halls do we not utilize the postal service for some things that if funded properly, they already have the infra-structure and personnel to handle more smoothly than any of our other governmental agency?

We are in danger of losing one of our most important governmental institutions at a time when it can rise to the aid of the country and smooth over some real crisis areas.

For instance:

Voting by mail is one of the most secure methods of getting to and from the ballot box in troubled times! The Federal Government’s penalties for tampering with the U.S. mail are already in place. Check it out on Google for tampering and vandalism – up to $250,000.00 fines – per incident! https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=penalty+for+tampering+with+us+mail No wonder people don’t mess with the U.S. Mail!

Getting out Unemployment Checks and Stimulus Checks to individuals and local business recipients quickly and efficiently! Who else but our Postal Service should be handling and sending out these vitally important payments ? Where else is the best place to print these checks off and get them directly into the hands of the people who are so in need of these funds? Where could any Citizen with proper identification go to fill out governmental forms and apply for passports in small towns, pick up social security and pension checks? Who already has the trained personnel to deal with the public in a friendly, professional manner and not put you on hold for 20 minutes with a robot? The Postal Service!

Getting out non-fraudulent information to the public. We need a system in our country for distributing our news in a form that will have rules and severe penalties for lying, fraud and mis-information from all levels of the government. Who better than the U.S. Postal Service.

Next time you walk into a Post Office – Thank a Postal Worker for what they do. Tell them how glad you are that they get things done efficiently and professionally.

Next time you write Congress or the Senate, tell them to support this essential part of our Federal Government and to take away the penalties that are forcing it to go out of business. Tell them to give some more duties to the Postal Service because they are one of the truly honest and efficient pieces of our Government and are essential to the unity of the nation.

In Unity There is Strength! Unity demands Justice! Make sure you vote in November!

Our nation is in need of Unity. It is in need of a leader who can pull us all together to solve problems and not be divisive. We need a President who will tell us the truth even when it hurts and a President who stands for Justice!

General Mattis has put it very clearly for all of us who are now or were as I once was, that we :swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United Sates of America.

The General notes that since the very beginning of our country’s existence, this show of unity for the common cause of Liberty, Equality for all, and Justice for all under one set of laws, as described by James Madison, gives us a unified strength that is a world wide deterrent to foreign intervention. With this unity we have faced down dictators who would “bury us”, as well as stood fast in the face of the military dictatorships of Stalin, Hitler and Mao.

We, as a nation, have continued sporadically to work on this unified front until the past three and a half years, when we elected a President who has had nothing but a divisive agenda and personality which he is using to destroy our national values. The single most powerful man in our country who could unify us all has systematically worked for the past three years to tear down the culmination of Presidential leadership in government for the past seventy years. He is purposefully damaging work on improved civil rights, international cooperation, scientific research, a safety-net for the needy, and solid public education. All these things go by the waysdie as he lies to the most vulnerable and gullible people and continually postures in an attempt to make himself look good for photo ops.

Now the President’s quest for disruption of our unified society has only been amplified by his inability to lead and take responsibility for being a commander in chief of a battle to fight a pandemic having an unprecedented effect on our nation’s health, economy and the plight of the massive numbers of working wage earners who are not receiving the needed long term benefits of a national safety net covering the health, salaries, job security and families of these workers. As people demonstrate in hopes of getting him to work on a more equitable system of legal justice for over 1/3 of our nation’s people. he condones tear gassing and the shooting of rubber bullets at peaceful church members doing social work with peaceful demonstrators so that he can hold up a bible as if he were Moses with sacred tablets leading us towards a promised land. Unfortunately, his promised land for the majority of American people will be as smaller piece of the American pie for all of them as systems of our nation collapse due to his inattention and uncaring personality.

Instead of getting Congress to compromise across party lines to solve the Pandemic, Economic and Social problems our nation faces, he urges division. Instead of fighting for more funds for further long term support for the workers of our nation, the President continues to regard them as “low life” only acceptable if they are willing to eat the crumbs that fall from the tables of the wealthy who are raping the nation’s resources. The President’s actions exacerbate party divisions and his demand for a politically motivated investigation of the man who will oppose him in the November election is only one more sign that he has his own agenda, which is not the one needed by the American people. Instead of concentrating on being the person where “The buck stops here”, the President continues to pass off every medical, financial and social responsibility to governors, or others whom he can blame, ridicule and make fun of when there is any weakness in their unsupported work. A President who will commit blasphemy to his own religion of Christianity as well as denigrate the religions of others is not fit to be in the highest office in our land.

Tyranny can only survive when the good people of the world turn their backs and hide rather than standing together and confronting the tyrant. We all need to recognize that the “Emperor,” who is not wearing any “Clothes,” is our current President of the United States of America, Mr. Trump.

We all need to show our strength at the voting booths or by mail-in ballots that we want a person in the Presidency who will unite our nation, not divide and destroy it. Make sure you get out and vote!

Remembering My brother Christopher A. McBee and his Silver Star

This is a time for us to remember all of the soldiers who have served our country throughout the ages. In particular, today, I wish to share my memories of my younger brother, Chris, who passed away on September 15, 2019.

Chris was a go-getter, in 1968 when he chose to become a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman. He wanted to pursue his dreams of becoming a medical doctor, but also was called to service because of our long standing family traditions of military service haring back to our father, Richard McBee who served in WW II, all the way back to and including both the Revolutionary War with Captain Vardry McBee and the Civil War with Richard H. Clow. Chris had a desire to make the world a better place and so chose to enlist in a helping profession that would give him excellent training to come out of the service and pursue further medical training.

Chris served two tours of duty in The Republic of Vietnam during his four years of service. The first tour was as a corpsman attached to Company D of the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion of the Third Marine Division: Motto Swift, Silent, Deadly. The unit operated out of the Quang Tri Combat base with numerous patrols. During this service, Chris was cited for gallantry in combat in Vietnam.

Citation: “On the night of Sept. 3, 1969, the seven man reconnaissance team of which McBee was a member, was occupying a defensive position approximately one mile southeast of Quang Tri Combat Base when the Marines came under intense fire from approximately 30 enemy soldiers. Reacting instantly, McBee unhesitatingly exposed himself to hostile fire as he fearlessly moved about the perimeter rendering aid to the casualties. When one Marine was wounded by an enemy rocket – propelled grenade, which nearly severed his foot, McBee rushed to the aid of his companion. Determining that an amputation would be necessary to prevent further complication, he skillfully performed the necessary surgery while hostile rounds impacted near him and his patient. His heroic and timely action inspired all who observed him and saved the life of his patient.”

Following the action, Chris and most of the unit were evacuated due to wounds suffered in the action. After recovery, Chris was trained as a military recon. diver and then rotated back to the States where he was based in San Diego for nearly a year before volunteering to be posted again to Vietnam near the DMZ for the remainder of his time in service.

After the war, when we met up and were recounting our separate military service activities while drinking a few beers overlooking the Madison River outside of Bozeman, MT, Chris explained his view from the “ground” version of the action for which he was awarded his Silver Star. This is as I remember his story.

“We had been out all day on recon outside Quang Tri. We were with a different Lieutenant than usual because ours had a bad case of some fever. As night came on in the woods we set up our perimeter with tripwires and Claymore mines as usual and prepared to spend the night. It was all quiet and I snoozed a bit, the way you do when half your brain still is monitoring what’s going on in the woods. Somewhere about midnight I heard what I thought was rustling in the brush and the click of something that sounded maybe like a rifle safety. We woke everybody up and listened, but everything was quiet. In this kind of situation, with our regular Lieutenant we would have blown our mines and made our escape right then because we were pretty sure something was going down but we weren’t sure exactly what. It was only a minute or so later that I heard what must have been a grenade ping as a handle was released and then all hell broke loose. We had incoming fire and at least one or two explosions. Everyone were yelling and screaming at one another while I tried to see where the fire was coming from. Then it was one thing after another with the guys being wounded and automatic fire coming straight in on us. I just crawled to everyone and did what I could for the wounds. The one guy hit badly by shrapnel from an RPG had his foot dangling so I cut off what was holding the lower leg and fixed him up as best I could. We called in for covering artillery. Nothing came, but it wasn’t more than ten minutes later that we saw a searchlight and an armored unit literally came over the hill. The next thing I knew someone in the armored unit opened up with the 50 caliber machine gun, the hostile fire ceased and we were yelling “Cease Fire”to keep the guys from shooting us up. In the end, I look back on it and sometimes wonder why I got the medal because I was just doing my job and what I’d been trained for.”

Chris returned to the U.S. and began studying Premed. at Montana State. His Vietnam experience never left him and he fell into depression, suffered catastrophic PTSD and dropped out of school. He became a reclusive digital watch repairman for nearly 15 years, fathered two children with his caring wife, Karen Smith, and then because of psychological was divorced. He eventually, after extensive therapy, was able to return to Montana State to study Psychology. He specialized in the treatment of veteran’s PTSD and Compulsive Behavioral disorders throughout the State of Montana and his work had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of his patients. He became the proud grandfather to 5 grandchildren now living in the vicinity of Bozeman, MT, with their parents: his son, Shiloh and Liz McBee and his daughter, Moriah and Matt McKee, from his first marriage. Chris eventually remarried and had over 20 years with his second wife, Kathy, who cared for him until he died peacefully at the age of 70, of a metastatic stomach cancer, likely exacerbated by his exposure to Agent Orange while serving his country fifty years previously in Vietnam. R.I.P. Chris, you are a true hero. From your brother Rick.

Dodging Africa: by D. Lou Raymond – a book review

Dodging Africa by D Lou Raymond

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A super good coming of age book in Africa and the U.S. during the late sixty’s hippie protest era of the Vietnam War in the U.S. and the 4th Peace Corps group out in Botswana, Africa.
Two sisters, separated in mid-childhood life by the estrangement of their parents, grow up in very different cultures on separate continents and face the challenges of late adolescent development. The questions to be resolved abound in this book and are dealt with by author D. Lou Raymond directly, but with cultural sensitivity and understanding that can only be found in those who have walked in the shoes of that period. They are the universal questions for all persons at some point in their lives and are excellent ones to be discussed by book groups, senior high school classes, and university level courses including: Do I love or hate my mother/stepmother/father? Do I go off to college and pursue the direction my parents and interests have selected for me in life, or, do I rebel, and run away, to a drug experimenting flower culture? How can I fit my multicultural experiences of African life and native medicine into my interests in pursuing modern medicine in an upper middle class white community? Do I explore premarital sex and learn the consequences in the the school of hard knocks?
Those of us who are products of the era will love the back and forth discussions, displays of emotion and decisions made by the two protagonists, Willa and Nora as they wend their way through the journey of life. An excellent multicultural book. Enjoy!



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Hope is eternal! Story Review: My Pick for the Best Children’s Story of the Year!

As one of my medical friends said in a reply after watching this brief children’s video story:

This is probably the very best work on HOPE that I have seen coming out of the Covid 19 crisis.”

I agree and I hope you will spend the three minutes watching this and take it to heart.

The Story: https://www.facebook.com/100002664525427/posts/2788970951201695/?d=n

Life will be different after this crisis is over and we can go a long way to making it different! Just like the hope in the flowers that come every Spring!

Putting on the Covid = 19 Pounds!

Dear Friends,

I don’t know how many of you have found that living at home can have both it’s ups and downs, but let me clue you into something my wife and I have been discussing this past week as we spend more and more time traveling between the Kitchen and the Garden.

It has to do with the temptation to snack every time you come in from pulling weeds, planting seeds and trying to do all those little outside jobs that have been hanging fire for a number of years as you put them off one more time to go: Diving in Curacao (Oops, ain’t gong to happen in 2020) Orienteering at National and International Meets (Oops, those are cancelled everywhere), Going back to Africa one more time to see old haunts (Oops, diseases, diseases, diseases not to mention Covid19)….. I could go on…to visiting family – no motels, camping out – no campsites….. Darned depressing? Yeah, a way of life is changing right now as we live through things for the next 12 months.

What do we tend to do? Seek Comfort food! Of Course! So:

  1. Once a week: Call up the Mesquiteria https://www.facebook.com/themesquiteryandtheshed/(takeout) – Steak and Shrimp are good for me – but Ohh! the Chocolate Bombs with Vanilla Ice Cream! – Sinful! – Yummm!
  2. OK, now what are we going to do special for another day! Fry up some more of those great Morel Mushrooms I collected this spring and eat them with dinner, or munch like candy, or slather them into a great spaghetti sauce! Getting Hungry?
  3. Wow, woke up again from my afternoon nap after busting my rear making fence around the garden to keep the deer out! Hungry? You bet! Rhubarb Upside-down cake for tea, anyone? undefined
  4. Breakfasts can last a long time since I don’t have to rush out the door – Sourdough pancakes! undefined or we can have my home-made raisin bread. undefined or…. one of my favorites! Blueberry muffins! undefined
  5. Lunchtime seems to be always popping up in the middle of the day so quickly and there is nothing like a piece of an English Lady’s – Sausage and Leek Pie to get you ready for another nap? undefined
  6. But dear we have so many eggs from our 9 chickens and four ducks, so we just have to have a little custard for dessert. undefined

As you can see, it’s a good thing I’m working 6 to 8 hours a day outside and taking my Statins and cutting out my alcohol intake because you can see where all of this good food is leading……! Got to stay in CONTROL!

Seriously, we are now having discussions as to how we can keep our weight from BALLOONING!

Enjoy the good cooking, but MODERATION in all of this is also important for our good health and being since the last place I want to end up right now is in a HOSPITAL!

Love to you all, Keep well!

Book Review: Partner in Crime, by J. A. Jance

Partner in Crime by J.A. Jance



My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed the side stories that accompany author Jance’s very interesting murder mystery and the personality descriptions and characters of Sheriff Joanna Brady and J. P. Beaumont, from two different worlds of law enforcement, who need to cooperate to solve a very complex murder of a Bisbee, Arizona artist. The personality clashes along with the character descriptions make the story. Right up to the final hundred pages, you won’t know who ratted out the Washington State Witness Protection Program, who killed the three Arizona citizens and how Beaumont’s former wife played a part in this whole story. The book deserves a good 4 stars, but I wasn’t drawn into it so heavily as to have a two day binge on the 400 pages of the novel. J. A. Jance is an excellent author and story teller. I will go on to read some of her other murder/suspense novels. Enjoy!



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What do the Simple Folk Do? # 6 They Color Eggs, an ancient worldwide tradition

Yesterday we colored eggs! A long time family tradition for my family around the Spring Easter season, and has been a traditon for millions of persons around the world from many different religions and cultures.

Where did the tradition come from? There are many theories but historians take coloring eggs way back to the earliest peoples and their ideas of the beginnings of the world and life. Decorated Ostrich eggs that at 60,000 years old, way before Christianity, other major religions developed, have been found and dated in Africa. So what many Christians around the world take as their own, is actually much much older than many people know. See Wikki for an indepth series on this whole subject. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg The egg can represent fertility, beginning of life, a tomb, resurrection, the stone in front of a tomb, and the colors can represent blood, green life and fertility, yellow -sun….. Lots of things1 Wow!

Symbolism in Eggs!

According to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone in an easy to read essay: https://www.learnreligions.com/easter-egg-history-1807594 “The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The particulars may vary, but most cultures around the world use the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth.”

As with many of the world’s major religions, Christianity adopted local beliefs and customs in order to help persons who were interested in those beliefs incorporate their already preconceived notions about life and the beginning of the world.

And for Christians in particular, according to Peggy, “Since Easter is in the spring, the holiday is also a celebration of this annual time of renewal when the earth re-establishes itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The egg has become synonymous with Spring’s arrival.”

So the very early preachers in the Norse lands already knew how to adopt local ideas and put them to use in their early churches.

So taking that pile of eggs! Let’s get started! First I lay out all the materials: dishes, paper towels, food colors, drying racks and dipping utensils. Then I boil up those eggs until they are hard inside and cool them down completely in ice water or the fridge and make sure they are well dried. Her’s what it looks like!

Space things out if you have a good-sized group doing this!

We use not only the commercial dye kits, but also straight old Cake food coloring dyes. You want to make sure the dyes are edible if you are planning to eating the eggs later on. These dyes are water soluble and we put 1 tablespoon full of vinegar in each container, the dye and 1/2 – 3/4 cup of warm water. With food coloring you can always add more dye if you think the colors aren’t strong enough.

Then go to work!

Great Colors! Use a dipper!
Use Tongs!
Just set carefully.
Put eggs in rack to dry!

I I I

I love DEEP colors! The Green and Red Egg reminds me of the lab experiments we used to do with Green Chlorophyll Extract in Science Classes and when you shine a light through the Green solution, it makes it fluoresce and give off a fabulous deep Red color! Wow! (But that’s another story) Interested? See Wikki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorophyll_fluorescence

All done? Put your eggs in a great display basket and show your friends!

P.S. If you plan to eat some of the eggs, don’t leave them out more than a day or two in a cool room before putting them in the fridge. We wouldn’t want you to come down with food poisoning after all the fun and enjoyment.

Love those colored eggs and the ducks!

Enjoy!

What do the Simple Folks Do? #5 They play with the dog!

When you wake up in the morning feeling blue staying home,
Remember your Rex your dog is also longing for a roam, So to liven your day, You can get the dog to play,
and have your wife snap a picture on her phone!

Rick and Rex Duke it out for the washcloth!

The dog won when my wife reminded me that this is not the time to see a dentist to replace front tooth caps.

If I wake up tomorrow with a crick in my neck, Oh! what the heck! It was fun!

Enjoy your day – someway!>)) and don’t forget to check out my free African adventure novel – “The Ghosts of Ukuthula” available this week on Kindle.

No Fooling! Stay at home and stay safe! GRRRR!

April! No FoOL’in! My Three Kindle Books Free! Reading is something else Simple folks do!

A time to share while we wait for the world to come back to a semblance of normal – Enjoy them!

All are available through Kindle Reader’s Library directly on you Kindle for P.C. or Apple, and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000739811, at my Amazon Author site https://www.amazon.com/Rick-McBee/e/B001K8HIXI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1, or at Amazon Books under the title.

I’m at home like a lot of you, waiting and watching and trying to do something other than self-massage fears by reading the news. So I spend a part of each day reading book. These three books will give you ample reading material to enjoy. First, free April 1 – 5, 2020 The Ghosts of Ukuthula

A. African adventure at it’s best!

A. You follow historical fiction in an account of the period in South Africa when some key persons prevented a Russian takeover of South Africa leading to the installation of the first Black African President of the country, Nelson Mandela. Then Free April 6 – 10, 2020 Rough Enough.

B. A true Enlisted man’s story of the Civil War and the frontier.

B. You can read the true story of Richard Clow during the Civil War and later life on the frontier. Through his letters to his sisters, you will discover the life of an enlisted man, the joys and hardships and terrors that accompany soldiers on the battlefront in all ages as well as the life that confronted married couples on the frontier in Deadwood, Dakota Territory and Little Sioux, Iowa. Finally, Free April 11 – 15, 2020 is Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean.

The best e-shell book for this area of the world!

C. You can explore the world of Caribbean seashells through beautiful photgraphs of over 200 of the author’s personal shell collection and read about the lives of those particular creatures and have references to 5 other sources of seashell information, should that be an area that you or your children are enthusiastic about.

Those of you with Kindle Readers can borrow all of these books from the Kindle Reader’s Library and read them for free any time. Relax, get a free book or two and enjoy. You might even be able to find out what all those pretty shells are that you picked up in the Caribbean, back when we could travel. A place to dream about going back to!

Enjoy Spring! Smell the flowers! Look for Bees! The End!

What do The Simple folk Do? They work puzzles! #4

One of the best things to take your mind off the rest of the world is to work a beautiful Puzzle. The concentration prevents you from caring about all those things the internet would like you to focus on like inane Tweets and crude comments and you can make something of beauty!

Here’s Your Pile to get started on! Looks Impossible at first.
Spend hours looking at and sorting weird pieces And a picture forms.
Three days later you’ve not thought about the world and Wow! What a great end result!

What do the Simple Folk Do? To help them escape when they’re Blue? Essay #3 – Keeping Positive! Flowers!

So What to Do ——– if I’m Blue ———- to Bring me back to the positive side of Life?

  1. Go outside in my yard, find a flower and take a selfie with it! Here’s my great flowering Japanese Magnolia in full bloom right outside the kitchen door! These have no odor, but this is one of the first trees to come out every spring. What a joy!

2. Walk on the hillside across the river from our place staying a long – long way from anyone else and shoot a wonderful Shooting-star flower (also called a Bird’s Bill by some people)

That’s what this guy does to cheer himself up. It’s amazing how the outdoors even a few feet from the house, absence from our electronic massage machines – phone–internet – TV – Radio ….. can change our mood! A touch of sunshine this time of the year after a long day cooped up in the house brings on an instant feeling of – Ah! How Great to Be a Part of this World!

Enjoy!

What do the Simple Folks Do? Essay #2: Make Pancakes!

Need something to make your day perk up a bit? Start off with Pancakes!

I always make my pancakes with either Blueberries, Huckleberries, or Black Currants to get all that Good Blue out of the berries and counteract the Bad Blue of a slow wake-up in the morning before the first hot cup of Coffee or Tea.

Easy to do steps to make enough pancakes for 2-3 people depending on your size and gluttony quotient: 1 Cup of Four ( I use the generic Gluten Free Flour because regular stuff makes me itch, reg. works fine. 2. Then to this I add: 1/2 tsp soda, 1tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp salt, 1Tbs of sugar and set aside in a bowl. 3. In another bowl I break three eggs (you can get by with 1) and beat them really well, almost frothy. To this I add 1 and 1/3 cups of buttermilk (you can use milk but then you have to add 1Tbs of lemon juice to make the soda bubble when you mix things together. buttermilk is so much easier and you can get low fat type if you prefer. I mix the eggs and buttermilk together and then add 2Tbs of olive oil (other types of cooking oil work just as well). Whip everything well. Now pour your liquid from #2 above into your #3 mixture and beat just enough to mix everything but not to whip out the bubbles that are beginning to form.

4. Now fold in with a spatula 1 – 2 cups of berries. If they have been frozen, then make sure you warm them in a strainer in a bowl of warm water for a minute and drain well before adding to your batter or the batter will actually freeze to the berries in clumps.

5. Heat your pan or griddle to mark 5 of a 10 scale gauge and add just a small bit of oil to the pan to get it ready for cooking. Put three to four dollops of batter (about 1/4 cup each) into the heated pan.

Now cook the pancakes on that side until you begin to see little air-hole bubbles coming to the surface and when they break, they leave a hole. (You can see a few holes beginning to to show on my pancakes (the little black dots). Use your spatula to check that it is turning a deep brown, but not burning and then flip the pancakes once.

RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO PAT THE PANCAKE WITH YOUR SPATULA – NEVER PAT A PANCAKE!

While the cakes are on this side, warm you r syrup, get out the butter, put the plates nearby and get your family (including the dog) ready to eat! Note I have a bunch showing at the top of the picture. Those are the pancakes that after cooling go in the freezer in a plastic bag so we can eat them for several days just by warming in the microwave.

Take out those yummy pancakes straight out of the pan and Chow Down! YUMMY!

Enjoy! All the best for another day, Rick McBee

What do the Simple Folks Do? Essay #1

Reminiscent of one of my favorite songs in the 1960 Broardway Musical, Camelot: This article and the next few will focus be on things that we, the simple folk of America can and still do in order to keep our sanity and drive fear away from the door as we pass the time while Nero and the Senate go on Fiddling and deal with long stretches of semi-solitude during our home stays being mandated by the competent State Governments who hope to keep us from spreading or acquiring the COVID -19 virus.

So what can we, the simple folk do?

1. .Start off by reading a bit about the Musical at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/camelot-the-musical-synopsis-characters-songs.htm On Wiipedia you will find a number of related searches.

Camelot (musical) Camelot is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe (music). It is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White novel The Once and Future King. Wikipedia Related searches include the legend of Camelot and King Arthur, the Musical Overture and much much more.

2. If you want to watch the later movie of Camelot from 1967 with Richard Harris and Vanessa redgrave, check this out https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061439/ then you can rent the movie on netflix see: https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Camelot/345890

3. Now you’re ready to start making your own list of things that we simple folk can do to help us from becoming so blue.

See my Next Blog Post #2

Enjoy! Rick McBee

The Fox, by Frederick Forsyth a Book Review

The Fox by Frederick Forsyth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Writing master, Frederick Forsyth, is back at it again with a great book linking IT to current and past events in the world of international intrigue and power games. The occurrences that happen worldwide are real. The methodology by which Britain’s IT genius, Luke Jennings, pull off the intrusions are fictional, but not that far-reaching in a world where the race to build the ultimate quantum computer to spy on others is going full blast. Adrian Weston, the resuscitated former MI-6 chief, running Jennings and the global intrusions is also a picture of a truism that the old ways of running spies and deceiving the enemy may still be needed in a world where every movement can be traced using our cell phones, our credit cards, camera facial recognition, etc. Kudos for this work to a writer who understands that the spy world is not an adrenaline rush of dodging bullets but rather a cat and mouse game of piecing together seemingly unrelated bits of information and making the chessboard moves with the knights and pawns before the opponent recognizes the deception and the true plot. Woe unto the Russians, the Iranians and the North Koreans. Loved it!



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The Silence of the North by O.A. Fredrickson and B. East: A book review

The Silence of the North: The Incredible Story of a Woman’s Fight For Survival in the Wilderness by Olive A. Fredrickson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Olive Fredrickson’s story of her early life growing up in the Canadian wilderness is an exciting adventure suitable for both young and old, male and female as she deals with the death of her mother at an early age, grows up knowledgeable of the world of trapping and hunting in a part of the world almost completely unknown to the majority of North Americans. The knowledge she gained from her hardscrabble family upbringing in the wilderness carries her through to adulthood and marriage to her first husband, a trapper named Walter Reamer. Olive and Walter follow the trails of the Canadian North on trapping expeditions that place them and their young child in danger of drowning in the icy waters of Lake Athabasca and the Slave River as they treck into the wilderness for a winter’s trapping and hunting. Fate steps in during the winter as the young couple makes one slight mistake after another in their choice of cabins, food supply, and preparation for living off the wilderness. On the doorstep of starvation and death by exposure to the elements, the couple set off in a desperate attempt in the subzero weather to reach another trapper’s cabin. Lady luck peeps out for a moment as they stumble through a twenty mile ordeal. Returning to civilization, Olive remains in the safety of town with her children as her husband continues to trap each winter. When she is widowed, Olive moves briefly to the States and then returns to Canada, working hand to mouth for a number of years until she meets her second husband and they are able to make a living in a less hostile section of the wilderness up the Stuart river where they pan for gold, encounter grizzlies, and fabulous fishing. It’s a memorable story with lessons for all of us about the realities of making choices in life and the consequences of making the wrong choice in the unforgiving climate and environment of the Canadian wilderness. An excellent read-aloud book!

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THE TIME FOR ACTION! Political Robocalls

Trust Me! You will NOT get my vote with a Robocall, Three times per day. That shouts in my ear

THIS is —— —–, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION!”…….etc…….undefined Who gave you my phone number anyway? Is a record being kept of home many times you call me? Are you paying the phone company for all these calls? Are you just another scammer? Nigerian? Russian? Ukrainian?

Robocalls can be stopped if we have the political willpower. Do your Jobs Congress and POTUS!undefined

Trust me, You aren’t getting my vote with this Hogwash! undefined

Personal (Jack Reacher #19) by Lee Child. A book Review

Curacao is always a great place for me to catch up on my reading between dives. (More on that when I get back and have time to edit my videos and pictures. I’m also getting a lot of writing done on the next book(s).(:>)

My wife Jill cruising along – note the calm relaxed swim – cool!
Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)

Personal by Lee Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The sniper has always been one of my favorite themes to read about whether that person is a villain or a hero. Author Lee Child has found his firm niche for the second time with a book that gives insight into the psyche of the sniper/killer and all of the factors that go into tracking down a single human being who has decided to do someone in, long-range style. Because of the international setting and the weeding out of possible sniper candidates from Israel, the U.S., Britain, and Russia, our hero, Jack Reacher spins his wheels for a while stateside before venturing to the European theatre where the killer is due to strike next at an international trade convention. Who is the killer really after? One of the big-wigs of the conference? One of the numerous members of the international team of GRU, CIA, MI6, etc. investigators who have gathered to share intelligence and hunt down the murderer? It’s a cat and mouse game, and as the author says, “It’s not the same with a sniper out there.” When the Russian GRU man gets taken out the hunt turns toward the Russian rogue sniper. Reacher isn’t sure and ends up in London with his sidekick Casey Nice hunting for at least two snipers being hidden by the ‘Romford Boys’ under the leadership of a giant of a man whose presence intimidates even the husky physique of Reacher. It’s a hunt through good old London and enough twists and turns are there to keep you and Reacher thinking about the outcome. Lovely Casey is pretty good with holding up her own end of the deal, saving Reacher’s neck by improvising with a shard (no pun intended) of London glass to off a dude. I enjoyed the fast pace, the changes of venue and the ability of the author to get all those characters amply described and fitted for their various nefarious and savior roles. Enjoy the voyage and enjoy that final take-down of the bad guy at the end. A non-stop page turner for rain or the plane!



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The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher #22) by Lee Child. Book Review

The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)

The Midnight Line by Lee Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Midnight Line is a must-read for the many of us who have been military, been associated with a war, or have been related to a friend or family member who has been damaged physically or psychologically by war or military experience. So that’s to say, pick it up and read it, America and the rest of the world. Author Lee Child hits the nail on the head with his phraseology about addictions: “You should never underestimate the appeal of an opiate high,” and the military: “you never really leave.” The entire book illustrates how the simple act of looking through a pawn shop window and seeing a class ring can lead to a fascinating vision and train of thought for an author to follow up on and develop an entire book. I’d like to sit down with Lee Child in one od his lecture and fins out which came first, the plot of the drugs and the missing West Pointer who pawned their class ring, or the stimulus of looking in a pawn shop window, seeing an old class ring for sale, and jumping from there through hyperspace to the gist of a disabled veteran hiding out from the world. Well written, one of the best in many ways for those of us who know and have crossed the high and wide of the Wyoming plains and mountains around Laramie. Enjoy!




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Never Go Back: Jack Reacher #18, by Lee Child – A Book Review

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18)

Never Go Back by Lee Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this Jack Reacher book with its twists of plot and the fact that author Lee
Child has created a co-protagonist for Jack in Major Susan Turner, new CO of the 110th MP. Turner, a no-nonsense Major with many of the traits of Jack in a lightweight fashion, is a good foil for Reacher and gives some further humanity to the guy. The book gives readers a strong awareness of the problems we will face in the future with records and the ability of materials to be redacted or changed by persons in the government to tell the story they want us to hear, rather than what has actually happened. It also gives an indication of how easy it might be to falsely twist facts to have someone incarcerated with no hope of beating the system without breaking the law because the enforcers of that law are cautious about going against what they believe to be the actual facts, when in reality they may only tell one side of the story. Only Jack Reacher could break out of jail the way it is done in the book, but of course, we all know what he alone is capable of in comparison to everyday humans. Read and enjoy the fast-moving read and plot twists!



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BUZZ: The Nature and Necessity of Bees! by Thor Hanson – A Book Review

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed how author Hanson mixed hard factual science and knowledge of the Bee world together in a well-organized book for laypersons and members of the science community with broad backgrounds for understanding the reasons why certain grown adults charge around deserts, forests, savanna and jungles flailing the air with nets and patiently pinning nearly microscopic bugs on balsawood boards for study and posterity. As a former bug-kid who did a lot of net swinging while my compatriots were shooting balls at nets, I can empathize with the author as he describes run-ins with Border Patrol Agents wondering why a bunch of folks would be thrashing about the cholla cactus regions along the Mexican border looking for bees. Hanson has interviewed with and studied under, a number of the cutting edge entomologists who have traced the history of human-bee relationships back to earliest times, calculated the calorific contribution of honey to hunter-gatherer tribes, chased the ghosts of ‘colony-collapse’ in our own time, and those who have begun changing their farming methods from bee-adverse methodologies to bee-enhancing practices. I enjoyed every chapter. There is something for everyone in this book which opens our eyes to our bee/human interdependency and gives us reasons to go out and look closely at our own flower beds and try to make them as bee-friendly as possible and help this vast group of friends prosper.














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Last Call – African Adventure at it’s Best – Ghosts of Ukuthula – Free for 30 more hours!

We are down to the last 30 hours before the Free Offer on an E-Book version of “The Ghosts of Ukuthula” will end. Take advantage of this and connect with the freedom fighters who fought the neo-colonial attempts by Russia and others to keep the Republic of South Africa from throwing off the chains of Apartheid and make the nation into a Russian puppet. Historical Fiction for all ages. Enjoy!

Get the Book Here! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GNGCKHK?tag=sa-sym-new-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1

One of the best African Adventure Novels in the past 5 years – Similar to those of Wilbur Smith!

Rough Enough: Reader’s Question Answered about Documented Atrocities

In response to a Reader’s Question as to whether Rough Enough documents atrocities against Native American Indians during this period of time, the simple answer is, no. But let me elaborate on what it does cover a bit more in case it can lead you to references that might hit topics you find interestingon Montana or Dakota history as well as the Civil War.  

Killings of soldiers and travelers: During the period 1867 – 1870, Rough Enough documents and refers to several Indian attacks, most generally associated with the raids that were conducted to take horses and cattle at Fort Buford, a direct attack on Ft. Shaw, by Blackfoot Indians and an attack in the Gallatin/Yellowstone drainage on soldiers from Ft. Ellis.  Richard Clow’s letter to his sister in 1869 documents the killing of several civilians in Ft. Buford’s vicinity and his reaction to that particular killing. The 13th Infantry in Montana and Dakota Territory at that time was tasked with building all of these fortifications which were poorly manned (under 100 – 200 soldiers) and could only patrol or follow up small bands of Indians, let along protect themselves in remote areas with virtually no supply lines. The book contains information as to the recorded deaths at Fort Buford during a 10 year period and you will note that soldiers were more generally dying from things other than Indian attacks despite what the rumors and trade books would lead us to believe.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_massacres for a full accounting of massacres, references and dates. By comparison to other times, this period was generally more peaceful.

Killings of Native American Indians-The Marias River Massacre: The only documented massacre of Indians in this section of the country during this particular time period was the Marias River Massacre in western Montana in 1870 in which 200 + older men, women and children were killed by Maj. E. Becker, under the command of Gen. Sheridan. See full account: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-mariasmassacre/ . This particular massacre has been described as one of the most atrocious killings of innocent civilian Native Americans and gives one good reason to understand why after this time, a lot of Native Americans Indians developed a strong hatred for soldiers and intruders into their territories.  In Rough Enough, there are descriptions of small confrontations and killings but no other massacres initiated by the military or civilians of Native American Indians.

The next massacre incident in this part of the United States was the Big Hole Massacre of Chief Joseph’s women and children in 1877. This is an equally despicable attack on a sleeping non-military camps under Col. Gibbon in the running battle which occurred as Chief Joseph tried to lead his people to Canada to escape further persecution.  See: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nez-perce-fight-battle-of-big-hole .

Hope you enjoy the book. Still Free through Dec. 9, 2019

Get the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Rough-Enough-Richard-McBee-ebook/dp/B00HCQNBB0/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Rough+Enough+by+Richard+McBee&qid=1575751638&s=books&sr=1-2

Hope you enjoy it!

Be aware Americans! You Babes in the Woods for Putin’s Propaganda.

What do you think makes this arch enemy of American Democracy so happy? Is it because he likes our burgers? or our nice houses? or the cars we make? or our freedoms? No Way! This guy is out to get us!

President Putin of Russia 2019 – US News file photo

Mr. Putin as stuck a knife in the ribs of American Democracy and continues to twist it because of our own ignorance about his tactics at the highest levels of government. Mr. Putin knows that 21st century Americans are addicted to the internet and are fools about his use of the disinformation and propaganda that are manipulating the governance of our free Democratic Republic.

Mr. Putin is influencing our nation with propaganda vastly more powerful than what was used in the 1950’s and 60’s during the height of the Cold War, to manipulate the minds of persons within the sphere of Soviet power around the world. Newspapers and letters took weeks at times to transmit information during those eras. Now it is a matter of milliseconds between something occurring and it being disseminated world-wide. Lies travel faster than well thought out truths.

For those of you unfamiliar with the the Cold War, you might want to take the quiz and read the answers to learn about this very insidious period for the world. I was in the military during that period and so it is real for me. https://grizly.com/quizzes/how-much-do-you-know-about-the-cold-war?paginated=1&utm_campaign=qg_dynamic_search_desktop_11_1&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=search&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4pfWtY2f5gIVpiCtBh2i9QzWEAAYASAAEgJA9vD_BwE

The use of mind manipulation has been around for thousands of years, especially used by the military to gain the advantage in warfare. The understanding of mind manipulation by propaganda was well understood in the US during the Cold War. It was the reason my father, a WW2 veteran, built a bomb shelter for the family under our house in Montana in the late 1950’s. It was one of the reasons why I wrote one of my high school senior essays on Brainwashing. It was one of the reasons why McCarthyism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism was such an insidious and dangerous name-calling game in the U.S. political scene of the 1950’s. When you look at today’s political mess, remember lies, innuendo and conspiracy theories have happened before. Truth and facts will root it out.

In the 1980’s and 90’s after Glasnost (Russian for openness and transparency) came to the Soviet Union and its separation into smaller independent countries, America lost its focus on the ball of disinformation. I focus on a portion of this problem in my book The Ghosts of Ukuthula in detailing a number of acts promulgated by the Soviets and Russians through KGB action in the war for black majority rule in the Republic of South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and Namibia. https://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Ukuthula-Mr-Rick-McBee/dp/1532995342. The problem has not gone away, now it is more frequent and focused by unvetted media and Mr. Putin’s apparatus through the various mouth pieces in our own nation.

Actual facts and knowledge have always been very important for human development, understanding and governance. So suddenly in the past 20 years of unfettered growth of the internet there have been some big technological developments that allow pseudo-facts and stories to be disseminated globally by governments wishing to manipulate the thinking of other countries. If nobody checks these facts and stories, then as our research shows, the false story, if written cleverly will circulate much more rapidly and quickly than the truth and thus influence more people. A very dangerous situation in a Republic governed by Democracy.

Mr. Putin knows that because of our open internet and our naive gullibility to pick up on and spread unchecked rumors, outright lies, and stories through unvetted channels such as Facebook and Twitter, that we are a nation very susceptible to manipulation of our population and our government.

We have begun to drink very shallowly from the wellspring of actual true facts and knowledge; what the Greeks and Macedonian’s called the Pierian Spring; a place where the ancient Muses gained their unique prophetic knowledge. Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) wrote a long poem in his “Essay on Criticism” on this subject including the dangers of having only a small amount of knowledge. See it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierian_Spring. We are thus treading nationally on very thin ice.

The gist is: if you only delve shallowly into learning about a subject, then you will think you know a lot, when in fact you are ignorant, and flout your ignorance in front of others while they mock you behind your back for your stupidity or worse yet, manipulate what you think and do with your scanty knowledge.

Mr. Putin knows that Americans now get the majority of their knowledge and information from the internet or TV commentary, not from factually vetted news sources. Without filters to screen out the ‘crap’ (often known as my right to Free Speech), Americans devour all sorts of health, political, science, literary and other so called knowledge without ever checking the sources of that information. It is detrimental to all of the above.

One of America’s best weapons against Russian disinformation and propaganda is our free news press which is generally vetted for truth of facts before publishing. Please distinguish Free Press from Free Commentary by the Press. The former being vetted for truth, the latter being just what comes out of the loose lips of the commentators who may or may not stick to the facts. Read this excellent essay about why vetting is so important: https://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/324053-why-vetting-nominees-is-so-important

Cyber warfare is often the cheapest and fastest method of disseminating propaganda and disinformation. It has been well researched and is an area all Americans should be familiar with. Mr. Putin is very familiar with these methods, having been a member of Soviet and Russian Intelligence for many years prior to his assumption to power as the supreme leader in Russia. He knows that if he has mouthpieces to disseminate false stories in the the US. An excellent article from over a year ago in the Washington times describes this process of disinformation. I hope you read it. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/6/vladimir-putin-uses-cyber-weapons-to-keep-american/?utm_source=GOOGLE&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=chacka&utm_campaign=TWT+-+DSA&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuNyzjYqf5gIVzB6tBh1CggbtEAAYAiAAEgKUSvD_BwE

We as Americans are living through an insidious and very dangerous cyber-war which uses disinformation and propaganda to infiltrate and manipulate all of our social and internet media. We must learn quickly to cut out, avoid and remove disinformation from our media in the same manner that we took control of the disinformation of big tobacco and other snake-oil companies who would manipulate our thinking and actions.

If we do not change how we view and regulate these current advertisements and mouth pieces for political and societal chaos, and root out our national greed for instantaneous solutions to all social, medical, political and scientific ills; If we do not learn to take every unthinking word from our leading politicians’ mouths with a grain of salt, then we will continue to become a more fragmented society. We will continue on our journey without using and discussing our compasses of common values which are written in our Constitution, The Rule of Law, and our Declaration of Independence. Then we will have fulfilled the desires, mission. and purposes of the smiling Mr. Putin who is working to our detriment as a nation and a free people and we will not last as a Democratically governed Republic through the 21st century.

Be Aware! Beware!

Don’t Forget your Free e-book on Seashells!

The Giveaway on this book is almost over! 24 hours left, don’t miss it!

Free Nov. 29 – Dec. 3, 2019 – If you happen to be headed to Florida or the Caribbean, you’ll love Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean to identify a plethora of shells from Barbados to the San Blas Isles to Florida and Venezuela! Free Dec. 5 – Dec. 9, 2019

Get it Now! https://www.amazon.com/Beachcomber-Seashells-Caribbean-Correlated-Reference-ebook/dp/B00IP954W2/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Beachcomber+Seashells+of+the+Caribbean&qid=1575332603&s=books&sr=1-2

After this Give-away, the next ones are listed below:

– Richard Headley Clow’s amazing story in Rough Enough. This history expands on the military action behind Clow’s letters, diary, and life from his assault on Petersburg with the 56th Massachusetts Infantry,  to life in the Dakota Territory gold rush.

Free Dec. 12 – Dec. 16, 2019 – Stay warm at home in winter weather with my action-packed historical fiction novel: The Ghosts of Ukuthula. Follow the early Nelson Mandela era and the Soviet Union’s “Third Force” in a fight to control Southern Africa at the end of apartheid.     

Thank You Readers! Rick’s 2019 Book Giveaway!

It’s Rick’s 2019 Worldwide Book Giveaway Time!!!
This is one of my favorite times of the year in which I am able to give an electronic gift to my readers and facilitate your giving books to friends.

Holiday Book Giving helps us all enjoy those vacation periods with something to engage our brains  These are electronic books which you can download to your Book Reader, I-Phone, Android, P.C. Nook, Kindle, Etc. Kindle Books offers a variety of formats for electronic platforms. So! Keep these dates handy and send them to your friends so they can also share in the reading fun!  

There are three giveaway weekends, one for each book at Kindle Direct Publishing . See Below!

  • Going to Florida or the Caribbean?  I will be giving away my Seashells of the Caribbean book: November 29 – Dec. 3, 2019. Check it out! 
  •  
  • Like true 19th century history?  I will be giving away my Civil War History Book: Rough Enough: December 5, – Dec. 9, 2019. Check it out!
  •  
  • Do you devour African Historical Fiction? I will give away
  • The Ghosts of Ukuthula: December 12 – Dec. 16.  
  •  

Enjoy Thanksgiving and have a very Merry New Year!

Executive Power! (Mitch Rapp #6) by Vince Flynn – Book Review

Executive Power (Mitch Rapp, #6)
Bring on our favorite SEAL!

Executive Power by Vince Flynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book by Vince Flynn has all the stuff of the modern era: spies, terrorists, hostages, military insertions, and governmental intrigue leading us across the globe in the hunt for the king spider at the center of the web! Mitch Rapp is the SEAL point man and plays this role to the hilt; leading us through the halls of the White House and Congress as he tries to avoid being in the spotlight after his exploits are exposed and he is kicked upstairs to advise top officials on the best tactics to use against the shadowy figures who require special ops to remove their threat to our nation and the world. In this morass of politics, military missions and exposure to death, Mitch struggles to maintain his marital life with Anna, his investigative reporter wife, who fears that Mitch’s penchant for action and being on the front lines will get him killed. As Mitch leads the clandestine hostage rescue against General Moro in the Philippines, this worry almost becomes a reality as the small SEAL team works to pull off the rescue of an American family. Back in Washington, severely chastised by his wife and working at his desk job, Mitch follows the clues of the mysterious terrorist and Palestinian freedom fighter, David and his relationships with both the Saudi Royal Family and the innermost secret workings of the Israeli Mossad. Who is this man actually working for? What is his ultimate goal? How will his assassinations and global intrigue accomplish his ends without bringing about a worldwide conflagration? The ending of the story on the French Riviera is just as exciting with a twisted plot and a scenario that could be happening even now as we read this review. Loved the book. Will read more by Vince Flynn in the near future.



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Hands off State’s Rights! : Gaming Our Democracy!

Hands off our State’s Rights Mr. President! 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” You have not been given any rights here!

This and subsequent rulings and laws were put in precisely to prevent the kind of twisting of State’s elections for anything including and especially for the Presidency and Congress in order to prevent the return to Monarchy or a Dictatorship.

Note Mr. President: Since the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court both point to state law regarding voting rights, it is up to the individual state to determine how it wants to distribute those voting rights

Despite my continued angst about our country, I have learned some very important lessons about the Presidency, our Democracy and our Constitution during the past four years. None are infallibly perfect. Our system can be “Gamed” internally by using straight old school propaganda and modern technology. Basically, we know that humans can have their brains “Hacked” and “Malignant Viruses” inserted by “Tweeting” enough falsehoods so that we forget simple truths and believe the most outrageous lies. I call it “Gaming” because psychology tells us that “Name Calling”, “Scapegoating” and “Loaded Words” are like “Computer Viruses” in that they  “Manipulate” the normal programming of our brains and thus our behaviors. In adults, this types of gaming is a lot more serious than middle school bullying which we work hard to eliminate. Adult games can end up with split societies, increased violence and major bad consequences for a nation. We only need to look at many countries we used to call “Banana Republics” to see how badly it can end.  Our nation has just concluded the most secure election in history according to our government’s NSA and most national leaders. Unfortunately the results are being “Gamed” at time when a major transition in government in needed. Consequently we see a continuation of the breakdown in our national civil discourse and social contract relationships. As a nation of varied values, races, traditions and religions we need to get back on track. There is no conspiracy, it is not a battle between “Liberals and Conservatives,” (whatever those two words now stand for) or “Guns – No Guns”, it’s about living and working together. To quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and it is US.

Americans, we all have a lot of repair work to do to fix the “US” whether used as a pronoun or as U.S.

School Transitions : Leaving the place Prepared for the future, and better than you found it!

I can still remember in the summer of 1949, when Dad and I were driving to Montana from our place in Oakland, California, stopping at a gas station out on that long stretch of road running across the Club Foot of southern Idaho. It was hot as the Devil and we stopped for gas in the car, water for the water bag that hung out the window to cool, and a trip to the John. The John was about as filthy as you could find one in those days.

After using the facilities, Dad said, “Well I guess we better clean some of this up before we leave.”

My little brain clicked in and I blurted out something like, “Why would we want to clean it up? Somebody else made the mess.”

At that point, my Dad looked at me and said, “Ricky, when I was in the war, I saw an awful lot of stuff that was one big mess out in the Pacific. All the fellows in the unit, including myself vowed that after the war ended, we would always leave any place we went, better off than we found it.”

With that, he flushed the toilet about five times used the plunger and an old toilet brush to slop it out, cleaned and scrubbed the sink, and wiped everything down with the ragged greasy old towel that everyone must have wiped their hands on for the past week.

When he was finished, he stood back, looked at me and smiled.

“Now, that’s a lot better, isn’t it? You need to remember that no matter how bad a place is, we always leave it better for the next person than we found it.”

I had to agree. We left that old crapper a lot better than we had found it, gave the dirty towel to the attendant, and tooted the horn as we hauled our trailer with all the family belongings back out onto the road and headed on toward Montana.

We drove off both feeling happy that we had done a good turn. That one incident made a big impression on me!

As an adult school teacher and later a principal, I switched jobs a number of times during my 10+ different postings in some forty years of professional international work.

My Dad’s phrase has always come back to guide me when leaving one position and moving to another, “We always leave it better for the next person”.

Because of this one phrase, I have always prepared for any job transition by leaving behind good records of: materials, inventories, information, files, schedules and personnel records, so that everything is in the best possible condition for the next person to come in and take over smoothly.

Believe me, I have taken over schools in which it was obvious that the preceding person(s) didn’t give a rip about any Transition! No cares for what would happened to the place when they were gone: No files of records, No Student Handbooks, No Teacher or Curriculum Handbooks, No agreements and documents on how we do business or school discipline, No maintenance done to infrastructure, No positive working conditions with staff and co-workers etc., etc. etc.

Because of previous actions by the persons who should have been positive leaders in Transitioning schools to another leader, I’ve seen and had to clean up the virtual latrines left behind. I’ve followed my father’s advice and immediately gotten into it and cleaned up the graffiti, gangs and bad attitudes that can take over and control the running and education of an entire school.But it could have gone much more smoothly with some thought by the previous person about smooth Transitions.

Schools are Family. They are a small microcosm of a State, a Country or even the World. Leaving the place in the best possible shape means that when I depart, the new person coming in will be able to pick up and run with the ball instead of having to find and pick up the dropped baton in a race that never ends. I am leaving a blueprint of myself, my values, my personality and my hopes and desires for the future of that institution behind so that someone else can come in and make the Family even better.

Having good and excellent schools is the business of us all as communities, and GOOD TRANSITIONS are the Mark of Excellent Leaders and one of the keys to maintaining EXCELLENCE in any school!

FEEL FREE TO INSERT THE NAME OF ANY INSTITUTION FOR THE WORD SCHOOL!

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This well researched book is probably the best amplified history and documentation of the massive genocide occurring from 1933 through 1945. It contains the most complete description of the causes, perpetrators and victims of the some 14 million persons who died during this era of political mass murders and crimes against humanity.

I would recommend that Snyder’s book be required reading for all students in High School, coupled with the viewing of a few of the post WW2 actual concentration camp films. Society needs a constant reminder of the kind of human horror and devastation that can be brought upon any region of the world by any political system that has leaders who are not firmly bound by strongly enforced moral and ethical codes of society and governance.

The horrors of Stalin’s Communistic Socialism and Hitler’s Fascist regimes turned the entire section of Central/Eastern European countries, from the Black Sea to the Baltic, into a human fed butchery of massive proportions. Whether the crimes were perpetrated against Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians, or whether the innocent victims were Jewish or Christian, the monstrosity of the crimes committed can only be understood by reading a volume such as this.

Containing personal witness and survivor stories nestled alongside the detailed written plans of the perpetrators and facilitators of the horrors, author Timothy Snyder weaves a picture which, be warned, may give some readers nightmares.

Read the book slowly and thoughtfully. Digest the full broad picture of the spectrum of humanity that appears. It’s a picture that shows the naivety of the victims until it was too late to escape, the systematic cold blooded plotting of the masterminds from their comfy offices, the machine like efficiency of the killing squads and the feigned ignorance professed by the watching bystanders even during famines.

Snyder’s book firmly illustrates clearly what we already know but tend to suppress about our human political situations. That is, that any population of humans, under an amoral leadership, in a society that lacks strong checks on power; when given a falsely fabricated scapegoat, that society is capable of donning the cloak of mass murder for any number of fabricated justifiable reasons.

It is only by strong checks and balances in governments and constant vigilance and education of each generation about genocidal history that we can prevent such horrors from happening again.



View all my reviews

Getting the Straight Stuff on Corona Virus Vaccines

This is a good one! Definitely, with the vaccine research being done and the need for excellent dissemination of correct information, You have it here. 10 minutes of excellent information.

Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Results, Explained

“November 9th, 2020”

“Preliminary efficacy data is truly encouraging, but here’s how we can best understand what it really means!”

I’ve pasted in the picture above and the link below because this 10 minute video is the kind of presentation I wish I could have done for my Biology students back in the 60’s up through the 80’s. Clear, concise, Science language we can all understand and pointing out the challenges of vaccine immunology work as well as the promise if it all comes together for us on the COVID-19 vaccine. Enjoy! https://zdoggmd.com/z-blogg/

Send this on to America! Our people need to know where to get excellent sources of information!

Thanks, Rick

Repairing an Old Violin – Keeping Sane in the times of COVID-19

Who would have thought that $10.00 spent on a falling apart old violin could keep me occupied for so much time and give me so much enjoyment?

Wow! Found it in August of this year, sitting all cracked and scratched with the front and back falling off and a section of one side broken, in the photographic store of a friend here in Hood River. As a former violin player, it piqued my interest, so for a tenner I got to take it home.

Then the fun began!

In my shop, it took about one minute to run my utility knife down the remaining glue in the cracks, and there it was: Front, Back, Broken Edging, Fingerboard, Scroll and Yoke all spead out on the work table. I didn’t need to heat up the old horse-hoof glue to take it apart, it literally fell apart in front of me.

I checked out what condition things sere. Note the long crack on the lower left-hand side below the construction hole and note the black mold or fungus stains where it must have sat in a lot of moisture because these stains extend through from the outside right into the interior. Well aged, but not treated well obviously. There were similar cracks on the top and deep stains on it as well. So what did you expect for 10 bucks, kid?

I checked out the inside of the Back to see if there was a clue about who made it! Was it an old lost Strad?

Nope Not a STRAD! – But, inside there was a small label: Daniel P. Fry, Boise, Idaho, 1963. He put this together the same year I started studying Zoology at Montana Sate College in Bozeman, Montana.

First things first, remove a whole lot of damaged and scratched up finish so I can work on the body before I put it back together. An orange colored citronella based paint and varnish remover seems better than some of the more aromatic brain damaging removers. You still need to wear gloves because this stuff is caustic.

After getting all the gooey mess of varnish remover off, I sanded, and glued broken and falling apart pieces together again. Here’s the edging being held together as I glue it to the scroll-neck and fingerboard for 24 hours with some clamps.

Notice that the edging here looks a bit lop-sided. This is because of two things: first it still needs one more gluing to complete the symmetry of the actual violin shape, and secondly, because it is like a spring under tension when all the bowed pieces are finally glued together so that is is under dynamic tension when mounted between the top and bottom of the violin and helps carry vibrations and resonate better with the sound. Note the sides of th eviolin are about 1/16th of an inch think and the thin strips of springy wood that hold them bent in place and strengthen them to attach to the top and bottom are willow.

Once I had glued all the nicely sanded pieces of the edging together, I found that the spruce top was extremely weak with a lot of cracks in it. I was afraid it would collapse under the 2800 lbs. of force exerted on it when I will ultimately put the whole thing together and tighten the strings. To make it less flimsy, I reinforced it by using a couple of coats of old fashioned shellac on the underside to penetrate and stiffen the wood and hold things together. In this view (below), because the shellac had some stain in it, you can see the gouges and cracks along the edges where I have begun sanding to get a new smooth edge to glue to the sides. I also had to completely re-glue the bass-board (that long thin piece running from top to bottom which takes the vibrations of the bass strings and carries them to the two ends of the violin).

Now came the fun of gluing the bottom and then the top of the violin onto the extremely thin walls. I glued the bottom of the violin on first since it had guide holes to hold the springy sides of the walls in their proper places and also because it is made of maple and is much stronger and able to withstand any initial strains caused by the flexing of the edging as everything is glued together. This process needs a lot of clamps and care to get things padded to that the clamps don’t damage the wood of the top or bottom as you tighten everything down.

You can see some of the clamps in place as I work around the body of the violin. Remember, this is not a fast process. Every step takes a good 24 hours to set up and dry as you go along to make things really sturdy and firm with no gaps that will make weird sounds later when you start playing the strings. Note on the upper part of the back, just to the left of center is the black mar caused by water or fungal rot which I had pointed out on the inside. No way I’m going to get this out. It will just become part of the aura and mystery of this violin for the next 50 to 100 years of its life.

Here’s the top of the violin being glued down again with padded clamps to avoid crush marks on the especially soft Spruce wood of the top which is not much more than 1/8th of an inch thick.

You can see the deep staining of the wood and several deep dark gouge marks that will just have to become a part of the character of the violin as we move forward in getting it back to being a working instrument. The proof will be in the final sound of the stringed instrument when we are all done. If it is good to excellent, then the mars will just become part of its personality.

I am now at the staining and varnishing stage of the work. This is fun because it means that we can give more character to the wood by what we do with it in the final finishing steps of 4 – 5 very thin coats of tinted and clear varnih to leave us with a translucent appearance which will reclect back some of the inner grain and beauty of the wood as modified by the stains. Here are a couple of shots of front and back after the coat #1 of my cherry-wood tinted stain. My initial staining was done with a quick coat of walnut stain to blend in some of the darker imperfections of the wood but to not get too much of the blackness of that stain, so I wiped it off and let dry after about 5 minutes. Then I used a relatively thick cherry-wood stain which I actually rubbed in by hand all over the violin and scroll, leaving lighter wood beneath the fingerboard so that some of the maple marbling will show through the lighter wood where the hand moves back and forth during fingering. My varnish is a synthetic satin finish varnish diluted 50/50 with a very nice red cherry-wood stain to continue colors up through the layers of varnish towards the clear surface.

So this is where I am today after about two months of slow patient sanding, gluing, waiting, sanding, staining, waiting, and now varnishing.

I hope you like what is coming out! I will do a final blog on this when I finish up in November and find a proper Luthier who can make and insert a new sound peg to insert on the treble side of the violin. Then I will only have to replace the yoke, make, and fit the bridge, tighten the strings with the pegs and tune it up hopefully by Christmas.

We’ll see if I can still squeak out a good fiddle tune or two for you at that time.

Enjoy!>)

Mute Button or Chess Timer! Control for future debates!

It is obvious that WE – THE PEOPLE need to keep CONTROL of the DEBATE if we are going to have one that is worthwhile watching. Two very effective methods used by schools for keeping things on track:

A. The MUTE Button! Controlled by the Moderator. During the 2 minutes of answering Chris Wallace’s directed questions, The opposing candidate should be completely muted. (Shut One Up!) Then for the 2 minutes of free-for all, Open both mikes and let them make points or repartee and then: Take them both off the air at the end of two minutes with the MUTE button.

That way – we all get to hear the Moderator’s full next lead-in and Question.

B. A set amount of talking time for each candidate can also be used as in chess! Give each candidate 40 minutes of 2 minute talking time for answering directed questions plus their repartee. The clock runs against that candidate whenever they are speaking (Even any utterance – ejaculation – blah-blah-blah – etc. uses up their clock time). At the end, the candidates get to make a closing statement for the number of minutes left on their clock. NO MINUTES – NO CLOSING COMMENTS.

We! Control the Vertical! We! Control the Horizontal! Not some Motor-mouth Candidate who wants to interrupt Civil Discourse!

(Apologies to some of you who may not remember the old radio program “The Twilight Zone”.)

Book Review: The Fix (Amos Decker – Memory Man #3) by David Baldacci

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com



My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Beginning of this book is right up to snuff with the other “Memory Man” series and the story line runs smoothly through the first 275 or so pages. Amos Decker is in his fine fettle and the scenes he is able to draw upon with his perfect memory to solve a crime. Author Baldacci builds us a gradual picture through the eyes of Amos Decker of what really happened, that day outside the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C., when Walter Dabney approached Anne Berkshire from behind, shot her in the back of the head, and then proceeded to blow himself away in front of Decker and the FBI security officer. As with a lot of sequeals, there comes a time when the author has a relatively coherent novel which just calls for a hundred page conclusion. In this particular book, author Baldacci carried that thread just about two hundred pages too far. In the process, the key threads of excitement and anticipation grow thin in a maze of rehashes that replay over and over and over … that initial moment of the stalk and kill. Too many chickens spoil the stew and by the last chapter the book has fallen into our face as we lapse into a deep snore of ennui. Splitting the book into two, and working to spice up the second half into a work of its own would have been a better solution. I await the Amos Decker # 4 in hopes that the mojo of # 1 and # 2 comes back.



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Book Review: The Last Mile – by David Baldacci

The Last Mile by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this book because it takes the “memory man”, Amos Decker, and uses his skills in the solution of the complicated murder frame-up which has sent former NFL prime prospect, Melvin Mars to prison for twenty years on death Row. As he’s about to walk that last symbolic mile to the “chair”, Mars has a “Texas Reprieve” which is one of those good old boys “Indian Giver” games in which the stay of execution and release from prison with the caveat that even if you are innocent, if you don’t come up with “Who Done It”, you’ll probably be chucked back in prison and executed just because “That’s the way we do things here in Texas.” So all in all, I enjoyed the entire book, finishing it in a couple of days so I could start in on the next one. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s a good follow-up to the Amos Decker #1.



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Hiking on Mt. Hood’s Trails

Another Beautiful day in Oregon and time to have another hike on the lower slopes of Mt. Hood. You can see where it was that we hiked on the link below. About 8 miles of generally easy walking with a stop for lunch. The Link will take you to Google Earth which I presume you have: You will see our pathway for the 8 mile hike.

Google Earth Map with hike and location points

So having seen the map, here is a short series of pictures and videos  of the hike which started at about 9:30 AM near the Umbrella Falls trailhead.  Note in the pictures we are not wearing our masks, but we do put them on whenever we meet others on the trail and also when we are ourselves stopping and yakking, eating lunch, and are close to one another. I wouldn’t want you to think that the old Biology Teacher/ Parasitologist/ World traveler/ Son of a renowned Microbiologist …. didn’t adhere to proper COVID 19 protocols during this pandemic time.

So what did we see? An amazingly Gnarly Old Tree! Watch the video below!

We ford a small stream and then pass a rushing Waterfall in Heather Canyon that leads down into Clark Creek. This area is a double black diamond area for skiers at Mount Hood Meadows Ski lift.

Then after hiking several hours we climbed out of the desert – like N. Side of Heather Canyon with Mt. Hood in the background.  2. Debbie, Julie and Dave Walking down Clark Creek, the bottom of Heather Canyon

into the trees where we finally stop for lunch. 3. Julie and Jill with Hood and Ski slope of Heather canyon behind

With More views of Mt. Hood. 4. Farther up the N. side slope of Heather canyon

Once over the top of the ridge we drop down – down towards Newton Creek which comes out of one of the rapidly shrinking Glaciers on Mt. Hood. Then look down a terrifying slope from some over-hanging rocks some 200 yards into the depths of Newton Creek Canyon and across to Gnarl Ridge – another hike for another day.

Finally, after dropping into the canyon we reach the final view looking back up Newton Creek.  Here’s my wife Jill: 5. Jill on Newton Creek with Hood in Background

and me!6. Rick on Newton Creek

We then re-enter the deeper forest for another two miles to reach Hood River Meadows parking area and the trailhead leading to Elk Meadows and Gnarl Ridge that on another day will lgive us another 8 miles or so of good hiking.

Enjoy yourselves and stay safe. Make sure you get out and vote in November!

Just Shuckin’ the corn in Oregon with a WARNING for your Dog!

I went out the other morning into the garden and 2 dozen quail take off out of my corm patch. No this isn’t a large patch, only 7 rows of 25 feet in length so I know something must be up! Yep, as I walk through my stalks, many with two or three ears set on them I can see the damage. The Quail rip back the husks and the stand on the exposed ear pecking away until we’re left with nothing but a bare pecker-head. The result?

See for yourself!

25 Ears of corn all gone! Time for action!

25 Ears eaten? That’s a bit of MY food! Time to either eat Quail or get some corn out of the field like PRONTO!!

So I start picking the ears that are ready, leaving the immature ones for another week and hopefully not for Mr. Quail! Over 100 ears in that little space of 7 x 25 ft. rows! All juicy and ready to eat! So I take them out on the back patio and watch the ducks on th epond while I shuck corn! Feels like Montana in the 40’s and 50’s all over again when Mom supervised Gail, Chris, Anne and Me, making sure we shucked our fair share before we could go off and play! (Somehow us bigger kids always had to do more than the little ones. Hmm!)

Here’s my Shuckin’ Site!:

‘ Out on the Patio shuckin’ the corn! Duck Pond to left of picnic table.

Here’s a closer look at what I got when it was all done.

100 ears ready to freeze up.

Take a good look at what we have here! A Genetic mixture fit for a class on Mendel’s inheritance rules.

A. My one row of Indian Corn – red/yellow/purple and white. B. My Mixed Indian Corn and Yellow sweet corn from my saved seed from last year’s corn-mixed because of pollination by wind. and C. Yellow sweet corn from my seed last year which didn’t get pollinated with Indian Corn pollen.

Cool!

Now to throw all that corn into boiling water and cook it up for 2-3 minutes, let cool and slice off all the Kernals to go into freezer bags. Here’s some of the final take:

12 big quart bags of corn stuffed and ready for the freezer

Also a bunch of ears in the refrigerator to eat for the next week until I pick again! Note the Indian Corn is roasted with seasoning when we take it our of the freezer and then it’s like munchies for around the house snacks!

Plus! – 12 Nice Indian Corn Ears for Thanksgiving Decoration and planting next year!! Think I’ll put in about 10 rows of Indian Corn next year and sell the dried ears at the harvest festival here in Hood River next fall!

ONE BIG FINAL WARNING!!!

Corn Cobs are Extremely Bad for DOGS!!!!

DON”T GIVE YOUR DOG THESE!!!

CORN COBS ARE LIKE INTESTINE CORKS!! THE DOG WOLF’S THE CHUNKS OF COB

THE CHUNKS PLUG UP THE INTESTINE

YOU WILL HAVE BIG-TIME VET BILLS TO SAVE THE DOG!

PUT THE COBS IN THE GARBAGE, THE COMPOST, OR FEED THEM TO THE CHICKENS!

 

 
 
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