Book Review: Condition Black by Gerald Seymour

Condition BlackCondition Black by Gerald Seymour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s a really well written book showing the flaws in Whitehall’s old boys methodology of handling an active shooter and spy suspect. A good insight into the differences in the way the US and Brits handle situations. The little angry underpaid government nuke scientist who gets passed over until he becomes a target for the Iraqi WMD program. Excellent characters, I love his hit-man, Colt. The kid from the British sticks who rebelled against Daddy, still loves Mommy and has sold his soul to a Colonel in Iraq. The side story of the scientist’s wife is well done including her pent up sexual frustrations, guilt and ability to clam up in the end. The semi-rogue FBI man is a bit of a bumbler and not as good a shot as I would want one of my “finest” to be. I guess sometimes we get our man and then… sometimes we don’t. Enjoy it, this writer is up there with LeCarre in understanding the psych, double-cross and intrigue of the spy world even today.

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Oregon Burns Up while Texas Drowns

forest-fire-from pixabay

Fire Scene from Pixabay! See Coumbia Gorge pictures of wild-fire below!

Gorge Fire Pictures

Just when you think summer and fire danger should be ending, some teenagers apparently spent over 5 hours hiking in the ultra-dry woods of the Columbia Gorge witness report and trew fire crackers for several hours into the tinder like forest. The consequence – BOOM! A big wild-fire that will cost millions of $$ to stop if it can be stopped. Otherwise we will have to wait until winter!

Columbia Gorge Fire Watch the fire live!

Multnoma Falls Lodge Saved! Eagle Creek Fire

Links plus Oregon Live information:  Views of Town Hall meeting, the Fire and Maps

Recent fire activity in the Gorge is shown on this large Geomac map in red. (A screen grab from  by Darryl Lloyd)

See this link for Oregon Smoke levels right now:

With all the national/international news focused on the Hurricanes which will affect millions of people, the Western USA is largely ignored despite one of the worst fire seasons with poor air quality distributed from the Oregon Coast in the west to the continental divide in Montana in the east and from north central California in the south to the Canadian border and Northward up north. Jill and I have been living in smoke conditions that require a mask to be worn for the past 10 days (for the first 7 days in Bend, you could hardly find a facemask on any but the most hidden of construction or automobile stores.

Here are some sites other sites to check the fire in the Columbia gorge which jumped the mile wide Columbia river four days ago and headed off into the State of Washington:

Our Indian Creek and Eagle Creek combined fire.

I went to a Hood River town meeting tonight after the fire marshal came by today to tell us that we were on Level !, (That means “Get Ready”) So Jill and I are packing stuff and planning to drop it off with friends. If we get the level 2 (“Get Set”) warning, then we will shut everything down, drop the dog a t the pet camp and go stay with our stuff with friends. We won’t wait for the “Go” since there ereally aren’t that many roads out of our area and we don’t want to get trapped.  Luckily, this evening at the town meeting, the meteorologist said that the conditions that caused the big fire break-out two days ago have changed and the chances of a big fire run to the East and into Hood River are much less.

Keeping optimistic that the weather and winds will change and my home will be safe!

War Monuments: History – Who We Are and What We Believe

Dear Readers,
 As a Civil War book writer,
“Rough Enough” Richard Clow’s Civil War and Frontier Experiences, 1864 – 1885 with letters I have a number of qualms about the blanket removal of a number of Civil War historic statues and monuments.
Yes, there are definitely a number of monuments that were put up for Jim Crow reasons, and it ought to be made very clear that these are those types of sites; made and erected to further the hatred of others. These sites ought to be considered for removal or relabeling to make sure that the facts of history are known to all who see.
On the other hand, there are many of these monuments, statues, markers, etc. which you would call historic information sites, markers of battle fields, and those that give us reference to a period of history that should not be forgotten lest we fall again into the same thought habits and ideas that brought about this slaughter.Many of us are totally ignorant of the racial mix of soldiers fighting in the Civil War.
This was not just a “White Man’s War”  there were black soldiers and guerilla fighters deeply involved in the war. Some 180,000 colored army soldiers and many more sailors were engaged in battles from the plains of Kansas Oklahoma to the Louisiana swamps and the shores of Charleston. The records show that black soldiers, led by often incompetent white officers still had the guts and courage to “kick butt.”  We don’t want to start rewriting and removing history. Here are a couple of sites on colored troops if you are interested:
There were Native American soldiers as well in the Civil War. The most famous of these is probably Seneca tribal member, General, Ely S. Parker, who drew up the articles of surrender for signing by General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant.
If you want to help get the truth out, join The Civil War Trust which is dedicated to the preservation of the true history of the Civil War. Home site for Civil War Trust
A visit to Petersburg, VA is instructive about Civil War monuments. The entire battle field is covered with them, as is much of the state of Virginia. Petersburg is especially instructive on this because in some areas you will find almost full re-creations of battle areas describing victories or defeats of both sides and can walk through these areas and try to understand what warfare in those times and conditions was about.  Here you see words from a marker at “The Crater” an event that had it succeeded, would have cut the war short by nearly a year. Because it turned into a route of the Union soldiers who were misled, it is both instructive as to what should have happened as well as the vagaries of war.  DSCN6777
Then, for those of you who are seeking family genealogy, you can go to simple signs such as this: DSCN6787and look beyond the sign through the overgrown blackberries  at the expanse of cotton fields that exist just beyond this nearly forgotten site where your great grandfather helped man a three gun outpost near the last days of the war and ponder the meaning of life and reflect on the individual sacrifices that welded a nation out of a bunch of hayseed farmers, businessmen and ruffians.
There are these sites all over the United States. This site shows you a map with dots for the sites.  When you click on a dot, it will open to that site and you can see: a. The date the monument or marker was put up, a picture of it, and read the inscription. In some cases you can judge for yourself – the site is truly historic. In others, it could just as well be relabeled to explain why it got put there, or removed from where it stands and placed in a a more appropriate site.
You can generally tell which is which by how much “glory” “honor” … stuff is brought in versus wording such as:  in 1865 this section of the Petersburg Battlefield was overrun by General ….  You get the gist!. Civil War Monuments in various States
View and ponder:

Book Review: Bowdrie’s Law, by Louis L’Amour

Bowdrie's LawBowdrie’s Law by Louis L’Amour

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably one of L’Amour’s better books. At the beginning of each tale about Chick Bowdrie, L’Amour puts a historical note about the old west. Not all relate exactly to his 15 page story that picks another incident in Chick Bowdrie’s life as a Texas Ranger, but they do illustrate how varied the lives of those men could be, as well as the types of persons who made up the 1870 – 1890 western framework of time that most authors of this genre are dealing with. I like the endings of a number of these stand-alone short stories which kind of leave you to imagine what happened next when the last sentence is: “It was a long way to town.” You’ll enjoy the stories of the trickster who gets the Sheriff hanged instead of himself, the story of the young lady in distress,and the bad guys holed up in an isolated canyon with a secret cave. You’ll enjoy Chick Bowdrie’s slow but steady ability to track a man across the desert and in the end as all good Texas Rangers should, always get his man.

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Book Review: Broken By Messines, by Dr. Mark Wardlaw

Broken by Messines in WW1 - The Grandparents I Never KnewBroken by Messines in WW1 – The Grandparents I Never Knew by Mark Wardlaw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book that best fits into the category of genealogical memoir. In doing his research, Dr. Wardlaw has tried to open up the secrets behind the distant love affair of his grandfather and grandmother, who were engaged for over five years, living on different continents and able to only communicate by letters that often took several months to arrive. It is a story of love that nearly was unrequited and it ends as a tragedy in many ways. Many of the letters are unfortunately stilted in their writing. This is due to the period of history in which many of the things we talk about openly today were not discussed. In addition, Peter’s military service during the war and the rigid censorship of letters from battle field areas meant that often soldiers could only talk about the most mundane of circumstances. For me the very best part of the book is in very long letter from Kate to Peter which describes her trip to New Zealand’s tourist centers while fiance Peter is off on the Galipoli peninsula fighting the Turks. I believe the Dr. is right in saying that the eventual outcome of the marriage and some of the mysteries of his own father’s upbringing are still not completely resolved by this research. Those readers in the Wardlaw clan who read this will gain insight into the history and relationships which only letters can open for us in the realm of history.

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The Union President Says it – SPOT ON! There is a line in the sand. We all must stand against the forces of evil.

Check the link and listen to what the President of the AFL-CIO says to us working people at this link: Union President explains why POTUS is wrong!

AFL-CIO President Mr Richard Trumpka is saying it like it needs to be said. The Unions stand for the working people of this nation. That means all working people, not just one race or one job, or one religion, or one nationality, but all workers because when the workers and small people stand together, they have a voice that can be heard and can change the world. They don’t do it by waving swastika flags or white hoods, or chanting slogans against jews or blacks or mexicans …. on and on. Unions get together, decide what is best as a group, vote on it and then support candidates who will accomplish that in government. POTUS misled all those working persons whom he promised to champion, lead and put back to work as he rebuilt the infrastructure of roads, bridges, railways, electrical grids, etc….of our country. POTUS needs to get back on track or move over and cut bait while the rest of us do the fishing that needs to be done for this country.

The Unions recognize that there is a line in the sand in which rules and methods of behavior are regulated even in strikes and negotiations so that an outcome can happen by working across a table rather than going to the barricades as they had to in the 1920’s and 30’s to be heard.  The line in the sand defines the limits of free speech and actions that are commensurate with conduct for a civilized nation.

Any person who stands on the side of the line with the Swastika and the anarchy that its followers would like to bring to our country is standing on the side of evil. This is not about whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or Libertarian. It’s not about whether you want a Confederate statue in a park or in a museum with a label explaining what it really stands for.  it is about an evil that rejects American values, party politics , unions, civil disagreement, civil discussion and all that we stand for as a nation. It is imperative that we stand with all those who oppose evil and anarchy and work together to build and maintain a country based on equality under the rule of law for everyone.

That’s why I was a Vietnam Era Veteran, a Peace Corps Volunteer, a Missionary, an NEA Union member and now as a writer write the kinds of fiction I write; because I believe in  the American way of life and its values.


No Middle Ground! – Teaching Hate or Not – It’s not something we can be Wishy-Washy about!



As we watch with awe, grief and anger as radical “White Supremacy Hate Groups come out in the open and try to take political power, we are reminded by history and literature that there is and will continue to be a constant battle for the souls of human beings.Are the people we expose our children to, or are we ourselves setting examples that teach our children to Hate or Not? Our President seems to be coming out in a kind of wishy-washy manner about who to support or who is right. He needs to take a stand on this not have “The White House says he…”We need this from the President’s own lips!

Here’s a quote by an African man facing the same moral dilemma of power:

Here were his people, his body of support. They were waiting for him to step forward, to claim his rightful position and fulfill their dreams of his mission.

“What power! What glory! To be standing in front of my people once again as a leader!”

“I can take them with me tomorrow into the streets of the cities and we can rid ourselves of all these whites and their oppression forever. Shall I ask them once again to take up their spears against other people? Shall I ask them to help me drive them out forcibly? Shall we send them packing?”

Am I capable of forming a nation from this mass of humanity or will it all crumble around me?” Ref: “The Ghosts of Ukuthula” pp. 318 – 319

Evil is a dilemma for all leaders in positions of supreme power including our American President, Mr. Trump. Pure Evil does exist and breaks out in humanity given the proper set of stimuli. It can do so in any nation.

We have seen distinct signs of the power of unchecked Evil in the outbreaks of violence perpetrated by marches of White Supremacy Hate Groups in the streets of our cities. Hate groups led by persons who have turned their very souls over to the darkness of the evil that they represent and preach.

Many of these persons have been taught this hatred since childhood and will go on to teach others as illustrated in this portion of the words sung by Cable in the film South Pacific:    “You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose eyes are oddly made, and people whose skin is a different shade. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be carefully taught. Listen and hear  Barbara Streisand Sings the Lyrics

After you have listened to the full lyrics, think about the examples being set for our children by our leaders including our current President, Mr. Trump who uses put-downs and derogatory remarks against women, persons of other races or religions or cultures. Then in a situation where moral leadership should be evident in standing against the overt actions of hate groups, his own statements appear to condone their actions.

Countries around the world have often had leaders who became seduced by the powers of their office. They have become deluded, thinking of themselves as superior beings set on a pedestal and literally worshiped by followers. You have heard of the worst of them, the despots, the dictators, the cult leaders, those who committed atrocious acts with their followers as they pursued a false idol of supremacy on a pathway to unadulterated evil. 25 you should know about lest we repeat their actions You know some of them: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Ho chi Minh, Mussolini ; others you probably don’t know: Sankoh, Taylor, Pavelic, Khan, Omar, Savimbi, Hideki, …  ; or you’ve heard of the places where the more atrocious acts were committed: Armenia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Dafur, Treblinka, Babi Yar …

But above and beyond these leaders or the acts that they and their followers have committed, is another layer of evil, that which is deliberately taught to our youth and unstable persons by hate groups within our own society. Groups that have learned how to open the trap door that leads to parts of the brain that should be controlled by the norms of behavior and release the demons of hatred. Given their techniques and teachings, insecure or malleable minds can be led directly into cults of evil action.

So social groups that recruit, foster and teach hatred, aggression, hostility and anger against others, rather than teaching inquiry, appreciation and discussion about the wide varieties of differences between humans are in fact some of the most threatening groups to our American way of life. The Southern Poverty and Law Center is a group that informs and protects us from many of these groups. we need to support them in their work.  Monitoring and work on fighting hate groups

America is a nation build on some very profound ideals. These are not just ideals for a few Democrats or Republicans or for Libertarians… they are ideal for all of us as Americans. The propositions that all humans are created equal and should have the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness no matter who they are is a statement of a universal inalienable right. This is something we can’t be wishy-washy about.

We can only pray that our own President, along with every other world leader will face the threat of hate groups directly and work to eradicate them.

Because: There is no middle ground.




The Ghosts of Ukuthula by Rick McBee

Here’s a great book reviewer for you all to try. Check out how completely “Jodi a Cook” reviews each section of the book! Thanks for all your hard work, Jodi.


Book Review51b5coymmBL

Title: The Ghosts of Ukuthula

Author: Rick McBee

Genre: Action/Historical/World Literature

Rating: *****

Review: The opening of The Ghosts of Ukuthula was great, there is politic intrigue, espionage and murder all in the opening chapter and I was hooked. We start the story in Durban, South Africa in October 1989, this immediately suggests to me as a reader that there will be time and location skips in the duration of this novel. We also meet Dirk Van Zyl, an intelligence agent during an information meeting with the Russians about disrupting the transfer of power to black leaders.

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The Ghosts of Ukuthula by Rick McBee

An excellent Review of the book by “Jodi a Cook” Source: The Ghosts of Ukuthula by Rick McBee

What if another 1804 Silver Dollar exists?

During my visit into the remote sacred mountains of Myanmar (formerly Burma), I ran across a little known cave guarded by Buddha’s Cobras. After a slippery climb and crawl into the interior of the cave, I came across several shrines, one of which had a statue of a special Nat ( demi-gods incorporated into Buddhist theology back in 200 BC  the main line religious thinkers found they could not root out Nat worship from the indigenous Bagan (Pagan) tribes.   Nat Worship Site

The  special Nat was amazing in decoration and structure, and covered with gold leaf. But the thing that really hit me was that this Nat had only one eye like a Cyclops. And the eye was a silver coin!

I got up close and looked at it before the monk who what guarding the area shooed me away. But the one thing I noted was that the coin had the bust of a woman with flowing hair on it, The word LIBERTY above her head, and the date 1804 beneath the bust. It looked pretty much like this:

1804 Dollar 1

Well, I got back to my hotel that night and used my phone to get on the internet and guess what! An 1804 dollar sold at auction in the USA for over 3 million dollars! 1804 dollar sells for fabulous price!

Here’s the back of my dollar! Is it for real?

1804 Dollar 2

So, in the next 8 days as I was scavenging through the local flea markets seeing numbers of fake 1804 dollars, that they must be taken off of this one eal dollar that is stuck in a special Nat in a tiny hidden cave in Myanmar. Wow! I know where it is, but how would I get my hands on it?

it’s like knowing about the 38 carat diamond on the top of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It’s going to take James Bond or Jacob Nkwe or some other surreal thief to get it out and then sell it without having 10 million enemies hunting you for the rest of your life.

Here’s the diamond! Think about it!


Wow What a story!



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