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When Families Facing Autism Also Face Isolation . . .

16 Mar

When Families Facing Autism Also Face Isolation . . .

I remember one of the sweetest compliments I ever received came from a female admiral in my Navy community who, seeing Joey walking on the beach with Noel and me during a Navy “wetting down” celebration, told me how much she admired us for bringing him to as many events as we did.  

She said there had been children with autism in her extended family and they were kept hidden, out of the public eye. 

We couldn’t do it any other way.  I am a fairly social animal!!!

Even when Joey had a hard time handling gatherings like this wetting down, we would just take a half hour off and go walking down the beach, hand in hand with him.  

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

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Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

16 Feb

Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

This article is an example of purple prose. It is an example of a tempest in a teapot. And, for those who dislike such phrases from bygone eras, it is also an example of rampant racism (or some other type of “respect of persons” as forbidden by the Bible).

Let’s list the reasons why:
1) The “crisis” seems to have started right before Jason Cosby, the Virginia Beach Director of Public Works, was sent to Afghanistan on a mandatory military deployment. I would suspect someone at the city didn’t want to hold his job until he came back (as required by the law called USERRA). So they started a trumped up process to fire him . . .
2) The “infractions” are so vague and minor (if this news article can be believed) that they would probably apply to hundreds of other employees of Virginia Beach. There is no evidence that any other employee has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb like this. It is as though Mr. Cosby were suddenly looked at under a microscope to pick apart any mistakes made during his twenty years with the city. I regard that as racism (or at least as undue scrutiny of just one person) until I see evidence that everyone else has been subjected to the same level of inquiry. Who else was followed around at Virginia Beach rec centers to see whether they actually worked out when they swiped in, for example?
3) The article does not specify, in most cases, what was done when these infractions came to light. They could have been innocent mistakes that were later made right. For example, I once grabbed my business American Express card to pay for some Christmas presents I bought while on travel. I was shopping with a friend and not paying attention. That card was the one on top in my wallet. Since I had to pay the card off anyway, after my return, it was a “no harm, no foul” situation which I brought to the attention of my supervisor. I believe many people accidentally use official credit cards to pay for things at some point in a twenty year career. It is what they do when they find that out that matters!
4) Mr. Cosby is not currently profiting from receiving city pay (only benefits like medical, which the military also offers in most cases). The first year, the city paid him the differential between his city salary and his lower Army salary, as required by law. This is, again, a common factor for all people who work a full-time job while maintaining a reserve career in the military. If people don’t like the way that works, they need to lobby to change the system, not persecute one person who is doing it as though he were doing something wrong. In this case there not only is no fire, there is no smoke!
5) The article smears a decorated veteran with a 20-year city career that was, until now, regarded as exemplary. He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, two of them advanced degrees. His case is making its way through the city system, with lawyers on both sides working it. Why put this case in the paper to be tried in the court of (ignorant) public opinion by many people who don’t understand the USERRA law and how it is used to get quality military personnel to serve in places like Afghanistan?
6) At best, releasing the requested freedom of information files in the paper today is meant to sell papers. At worst, it is meant to produce an online lynching of someone who is, due to the ongoing process, not allowed to talk to the press and defend himself. Ya know?

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Six Ways to Shift Responsibility and Blame

6 Feb

Six Ways to Shift Responsibility and Blame

This is great! Bwahaha!

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The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

5 Feb

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

Disclaimer: not all young Christians are hipsters and not all hipster Christians spend their time acting like they would like to hide the fundamentalist folks in Christianity in a broom closet, along with their hardworking old grandmother who makes them feel ashamed in front of their friends by her terminal lack of coolness.

But there are enough young hipsters like that in Christianity to be ironic.

Ironic because they denounce fundamentalists for hating them and trying to make them go away.

They denounce us while using these same tactics against us.

Enough already. Mom here! I don’t care who started it. Let’s just stop it. We are all part of the same Christian camp.

The above post doesn’t address many things theologically.

If you want to be a hipster Christian and defend marriage as being other than Christ defined it (one man, one woman, for life), then show me where the moral authority comes from to do that.

If you want to believe in theistic evolution, explain to me theologically how death came along before Adam and Eve fell.

If you want to reconcile a world that is millions of years old with a Saviour who was born of a virgin, explain to me how a God who wasn’t capable of creating an old universe in the Old Testament (with starlight already in progress, since stars that we can see are millions of light years from earth) suddenly became capable of creating a virgin birth in the New Testament.

There are lots of things that need to be addressed theologically by the above post. They were not even attempted. The writer merely did some terminally cool posturing. I throw a flag on his play.

And just sneering at fundamentalists does not count as a logical argument. In fact, that is called an ad hominem argument, for anyone who is truly looking to learn the fair rules of debate.

Just sayin’

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Who Owns the Pastor’s Sermons when They Become a Bestseller?

4 Feb

Who Owns the Pastors Sermons when They Become a Bestseller?

It is best to know in advance whether the church, a pastor, or a private enterprise/foundation owns a pastor’s sermons so when they are published, the tax implications of royalties are correctly in place.

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Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

31 Jan

Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

This piece, on worldwide poverty, brings to mind our microcosm in the U.S., as addressed by the President in the State of the Union address Tuesday night (January 28, 2014).

I had some thoughts on the wage inequality that the President raised. I don’t believe it will be touched by raising either the federal employees’ minimum wage to $10.40 an hour, nor the country’s minimum wage to $10.40 an hour.

First of all, most federal employees already make far more than $10.40 an hour, so that statement was just window dressing anyway.

Secondly, what can be done on $440 a week? Not much here. Even two married people, both making minimum wage, would be barely able to scrape by on $880 a week in coastal Virginia.

Should we federally control prices? In a free market? Never. That would be the worst of Soviet communism, come to fruition on our own soil.

So how do we equip people to live in this expensive economy?

Certainly not by preparing them to be minimum wage workers all life long.

Our newspaper, not a bastion of liberal nor of conservative thought, laid it all out again last week (these statistics are well known and have often been reported by bipartisan sources): point #1) there is a huge difference in wages between high school graduates (or dropouts) and college graduates, point #2) college graduates tend to marry each other and point #3) college graduates are the ones who still believe in the institution of marriage and embark on it, trying to make it last (high school graduates and dropouts tend to be the ones who believe that the entire institution of marriage is flawed so we should all just cohabitate whenever we wish).

I have had people who don’t believe in the institution of marriage try to give me anecdotal evidence that suggests the above points are not true. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But the points are true.

So, given that, I was less than encouraged that neither the State of the Union nor its rebuttal led to a discussion of strengthening the family.

It seems that finishing college and embarking on long-lasting marriages is the way forward economically for Americans.

Yes, we used to be able to make it in single-earner households. Some, by drawing down their requirements, still do. But most of us do not. World War II changed that by putting women to work. The economy grew to the point that it costs the wages of a husband plus the wages of a wife to live.

Society shifted. Life is like that.

Any constructive ideas from others about the way forward?

Was Your English Lit Teacher Wrong About Symbolism?

29 Jan

Turns out that those who tried to read without looking for symbolism in great books may have been on the right track!

101 Books

You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.

Turns out, maybe they were.

This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.

Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.

He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:

The survey included the following questions:

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Band of Brothers–History is Just Everyone’s Story Combined with Everyone Else’s

21 Jan

I finished the Band of Brothers series on video last night.  It was clearly HBO’s finest hour!

I love the personal touch.  Never have I seen so eloquently the fact that history is a very large river made up of the smaller trickles and streams of everyone’s personal story!

I love that the producers (Tom Hanks, whom I learned is a huge World War II buff, and Stephen Spielberg, who has produced some epics about World War II already in the past) took very little creative license with the stories of the individual men of Easy Company, 101st Airborne.  

If a man lost a leg in a specific battle in real life, that is how it happened in the film.

In fact, the most interesting part of the entire series was the documentary at the end in which the survivors were interviewed and gave more details of their individual stories.  

I wept as they introduced the real Major Winters, who remained lifelong best friends with Lieutenant Nixon, and even moved to New Jersey so he could work for Lieutenant Nixon in the factory he inherited from his father.  

The men of Easy Company have held annual reunions, along with their families, ever since the war ended.  Can we even fathom an annual reunion that has lasted for almost 70 years so far?

Since Easy Company was the assault company of their battalion, they saw some things they still cannot express, especially in the Battle of the Bulge, where they lived in foxholes in the Ardennes Forest for a winter.  Even a documentary cannot get some words past their lips.  And many wept as they spoke, even after almost 70 years.  These men, who refer to themselves as ordinary and to those who died as heroes, gave the best of their youth to their country.  Many entered the Army at age 17 or 18 and served for at least the next three years.   

Often life is so much fuller with warmth and love and heroism than fiction ever could be!

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Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

20 Jan

Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

A thoughtful article.

I do have to give a shoutout to my own church and its academy. I haven’t done an exact count, but the academy seems to be approximately 50% non-Caucasian, with students who are black, Asian, and Hispanic all there. And the most popular ethnic group nowadays–those beautiful kids who are of such a mixture of heritages that you couldn’t even classify them if you wanted to do so!

That, my friends, is heaven.

We are advantaged here by having the military as the great integrator. In our area, we host all five military branches. People are comfortable with those of other races because they learn to be comfortable at their government/military jobs.

I suppose a place like Jackson, Tennessee (in the article) isn’t advantaged like we are with a working environment in which people of various races get to know each other well.

But our church also reaches out to all ethnic groups and has a low enough tuition for the private school that it is more easily accessible for members of ethnic groups who might be the first in their family to consider private education. It is a sacrifice for everyone, but it is one that an increasing number of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic parents are choosing at our school . . .

Band of Brothers and the Liberation of the Camps

16 Jan

Last night, I saw the penultimate episode of Band of Brothers (episode 9).  It affected me in a way I can almost not put into words.  

After Easy Company parachuted into France on D-Day, fought their way across France and the Netherlands into Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge, stood off with the Germans in the Ardennes Forest for a winter, protecting Bastogne while being encircled by enemy forces as the other U.S. forces withdrew from them (that was the gist of the Battle of the Bulge for them), and fought on into Germany, they encountered the worst thing of all . . .

On patrol, they accidentally stumbled on a Jewish work camp. This was while the Russians were in the process of discovering death camps like Auschwitz on the other side of the Reich. The footage in Band of Brothers is unreal. The work camp guards had fled that morning, in advance of the American arrival in the area. They had burned some huts, with the prisoners trapped in them. They had mowed down as many prisoners as they could before they ran out of ammunition. There were already corpses stacked in piles three feet deep that had been left in trains on the tracks in that camp. They looked to have been dead for days, if not week. There were dead bodies lying (and swelling up) everywhere. There were the walking dead, awaiting the American GI’s at the fence or lying in bunks, unable to get out of them.

The Americans broke down at this point. These brave 20 year old soldiers were openly weeping for the first time in the series. The segment is called, fittingly, “Why We Fight.”

The next thing we see, the American General Officer in that area has declared martial law and is sending the well-dressed “respectable” German townsfolk from the town right outside the camp into the camp to remove the bodies for a decent burial. One of these “decent” women catches the eye of a GI who had earlier gone into her house looking for supplies. He had thrown the photo of her German Army officer husband on the floor and broken it. And this was before he knew about the atrocities with the Jews. As he catches the eye of this lady, in an expensive dress, picking up rotting remains of humans that many Germans did not even acknowledge as human, he just stares, with the knowing look of a young man who realizes that she and her husband have knowingly profited from this misery. For many Germans may have been ignorant of the Final Solution, but if you were ignorant half a mile from a camp with the stench of death hanging over it 24/7, it was only because you didn’t want to ask questions!

I was so undone by this segment that, for one of the only times in the 23 years we have lived here, on half an acre with no curtains over our backdoor and the lower parts of our breakfast nook bay windows, I got up from the den chair, at 2 AM, with a feeling of panic because I did not have a working lightbulb in the light on our deck. I feared evil eyes looking in at me as I sat and watched the movie. And how silly was that, when we have lived this way every night for 23 years, in a fairly safe neighborhood, and rarely turn the decklights on, even when they are in working order?

Yes, this segment literally sent me into a panic attack. I suspect it does that for others, too. I understand from German friends who talked freely to me while we lived in Germany, that it was a complex time and many were afraid to speak up for persecuted people lest their own young families be ripped apart. But isn’t that how evil thrives–when everyone is too afraid to call it out as evil? Good lessons for us all in this segment, lessons from World War II and the generation of giants who fought it.

P.S. This segment probably singlehandedly gains an R rating for the series with a gratuitous sex scene in the first five minutes, as peace is breaking out. The woman never shows up further in the story and her tryst with an American GI has nothing to do with the plotline. She is just there so the producers could say, “See, even HBO can do R-rated material.” Which is kind of sad, because the violence would have gotten it an R-rating without that. And now I cannot unreservedly recommend the series to my Christian brothers without telling them to advance past the first five minutes of episode 9, to avoid the topless woman. Just saying.

Band of Brothers . . . Living History

15 Jan

For Christmas this year I treated myself to the six-DVD set of Band of Brothers, as originally seen on HBO.  I had long looked forward to seeing this series.

I have seen all but the last DVD (two episodes).  It is a fine, historical series.  No huge surprises, as most of us know the story of World War II.

What is awe-inspiring is the interviews at the beginning of each episode with Easy Company, 101st Airborne survivors.  I so hope at the end of the series they identify the survivors by name, as it is easy to fall in love with the amazing young men in the series, as portrayed by today’s young actors.  It would be wonderful to know which ones have survived to a ripe old age (many, many of them die in the series, as they did in real life). 

The series does not veer too far in either direction–it does not glamorize nor vilify war.  It shows that many bodies were (and are) shattered by it.  It is not for the faint of stomach, in fact.

But it allows us to form our own conclusions from history, as it should. It leads people to think.  

I did not realize that the 101st Airborne’s winter defending Bastogne was much like Washington’s winter at Valley Forge.  One survivor says he still tells his wife, when it gets cold and snowy outside their home, “At least I am not sleeping outside in the snow in Bastogne.”

Men are shown huddled under blankets in foxholes, sleeping like a heap of kittens with other men for warmth.  Amazing times.

It is totally understandable how the men of Easy Company have remained best friends and closest of brothers during the ensuing decades.  They say no one else could even understand what rigors and horrors they undertook that winter.  

In the battle for Bastogne and in their other battles, they had over 100% casualties (lots of replacements sent in were killed or injured, too).  

Amazing times.  Amazing men.  I am glad this series was made.

The Damage that can be done by People without Knowledge of History

14 Jan

This is going to be dangerous territory.

There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.  

You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.  

Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.

You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech.  You have a right to say it.  But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers.  You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.

People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us.  But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.  

In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing.  We don’t need to suppress speech.  But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.  

I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S.  She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.   

The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury.  What are we protecting, after all?

As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic.  Tragically so.  

But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.  

My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.”  Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”  

Really?  So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?  

So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check?  Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?

I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs.  But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does.  You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.  

In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note:  the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).  

I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history.  So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history.  Sometimes they try to give us lip service.  Sometimes they don’t bother.  

I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college.  But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you!  I always loved history.  Now I have a pretty broad background in it.  

There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II.  There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.  

And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”

It is important.  Very important.  

Band of Brothers and PTSD . . .

7 Jan

I bought our family (well, myself) the HBO Band of Brothers series for Christmas this year and just started watching it three days ago.  I watched the second segment (about D-Day) last night. Wellmade series.  I especially like the interviews with real Easy Company survivors at the beginning of each segment . . . and the listing of medals awarded to Easy Company men for D-Day which came at the end of last night’s segment.

While watching these airborne men parachute into France on D-Day, amidst anti-aircraft fire and flak, I reminded myself that what was a glorious sight to me would have been an event that produced some serious PTSD in its participants.  Only back then, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) was not called that.  It was called shellshock from World War I onward. 

Nonetheless, one could not have been there, amidst planes getting shot down and crews burning to death, and emerge unscathed, even if not one bone of one’s body was broken.  It was the kind of scarring of the soul that would remain forever.  

And, you know, God built us that way for a reason.  We can’t pass through life without scarring of our souls.  Some of it does last forever.  That is not to be regretted, really.  

Much of it is related to learning.  It is one thing to participate in D-Day, for the good of a greater cause, and quite another thing to participate in a painful situation that has no purpose.  Only, since we tend to be so unthinking in our actions, we can spend our lives participating in painful, purposeless situations until the consequences they bring force us to think them through. 

A friend made me laugh the other day by telling me that she learned, at age 5, to not produce backwash in her drinks while sharing them.  She learned this by way of being laughed at by older people who caught her doing just that.  At the time, she didn’t even know what backwash was, but by the end of that day she had a hypersensitivity to producing it that continues till this day.  Kind of a minor PTSD, as it were.  So much embarrassment attached to an incident that she is guaranteed to learn from it–to always react in a hypersensitive way to that situation for the rest of her life. 

Haven’t we all had something happen like that, something that produced lifelong learning in some trivial area just by being so utterly embarrassing?

I remember the days when I was just starting to need glasses, around sixth to seventh grade. Part of my nearsightedness revealed itself to me when I realized I could not see things normal people could . . . but that happened over the course of months, not instantly.  

One day I walked into the girls’ room at my junior high school and saw one of my cousins in there.  She was changing clothes, but I could not tell that from where I stood.  I thought she was wearing a flesh-colored shirt and I strained to make out what it looked like.  As I squinted right at her, I remember to this day her exact words:  “My God, you lez . . .”  No offense to my lesbian friends, but she said that to me in front of half a dozen other girls.  My cheeks burned bright as I realized my mistake.  

To this day, I have difficulty looking at another woman’s chest, even when she is trying to show me something she is wearing there.  Again, a minor PTSD.  A learning incident that became tied to painful and uncomfortable feelings of embarrassment.  

All that to say, God allows PTSD in order to reinforce learning by way of consequences that solidify it into our minds and souls.  Since God did not create war, there are many learning sequences there that are reinforced by PTSD and are also so major as to disrupt one’s life forever.  They are related to our minor learning sequences of life but are on such a major level as to be in a whole different league than the ordinary situations we all encounter.

Military PTSD has produced a whole new area of study which will be ongoing for years as we try to find some relief for those whose souls are completely scarred by the brutal things they have seen in warfare.

If I Am Gonna Be Your Beta Tester, You Have to Be Willing to Pay Me . . .

26 Dec

Has anyone else noted recently that the American public seems to have become the de facto beta tester group for every new software or application that is issued?

I am not merely talking about the healthcare.gov fiasco, although that is the most famous example of a software that was sprung on the public well before it was ready for prime time.  

I am talking about inefficiencies in softwares and apps that leave me, a non-programmer, shaking my head and wondering aloud why programmers couldn’t see what is obvious to a casual user like me.

Today my cause du jour is the Amazon Prime application on my iPad.  When I put a movie or television show on my watchlist, it is not intuitively obvious whether that show is free, with my Prime subscription, or whether it is an extra charge for an actual purchase of that movie.  

That is okay, if a bit inconvenient–I can figure that out when I go to play the movie and only have a preview available, not the movie itself.  If I have been anticipating a particular movie all day and find out at that moment that it is not free on Amazon Prime, that can be a disappointment, but it is a very First World dilemma to face and I acknowledge that . . .

The next step, however, is totally baffling.  When I play the preview, there is no option to purchase the film at that time, from that spot on the Amazon Prime app.  Wouldn’t you think they would put in a toggle switch with either “continue to purchase” or “return to watchlist” as options at this point?

In fact, I have found no place on my Amazon Prime app where I can purchase movies.  Seems I have to leave the app and go to the Amazon website.

How inefficient.  That is not even worthy of the early 2000’s, honestly.  

And again, how First World of me!

But if you are trying to be cutting edge in the world of technology, if you are telling reporters you are going to start delivering packages by drone . . . at least get your movies app up to 2013 standards.  Or get out of the way . . . as you will be run over.

I could go on but I have lots of softwares with which I need to interact as a current job seeker.  Yup, the state of Virginia jobs data base (list of commercial and government jobs) allows me to upload a resume, but it won’t mark my entry in their data base as complete until I enter my job (and education) histories by hand.  So I have been painstakingly entering more than thirty years’ worth of data on myself over the past two weeks.  And not being surprised that their software can’t translate my resume, like some commercial softwares can, because states can’t afford cutting edge technology like these other bad boys, including Amazon, supposedly can!

In my years of military service, I first functioned as a beta tester for an information management software (mostly a data base to keep track of multiple questions that might be asked about the same situation) that was being built by and for our military in Germany.  It was standalone for our site, back in the days when the military let sites develop their own softwares which subsequently were not usable by anyone else (since there was no Internet yet, either).  I would tell programmers what I needed the software to do for me, they would build it to my specifications, and I would test it.  Even though we didn’t have the term beta tester back then, I was one!

Later, I worked for almost a year for a market research company, managing entire projects for them, start to finish.  It was not my favorite part of the process (because their programmers were usually working under the gun with a deadline looming as they wrote code) but I tested my own surveys before they went live.  How well I remember having programmers who were not well paid (so therefore sometimes were just as baffled as I was about how to fix things that didn’t branch correctly into the next set of questions) sitting with me at 3 PM trying to fix things that were to go live at 6 PM.  With management standing there saying we were costing them money if we didn’t hit the ground running at 6!!!

Never mind that management didn’t give the specs to the programmers till 9 that morning because the client could not decide what she wanted on the survey.  Oh, no, it was not management’s place to tell the client that a well-written survey could not possibly occur between 9 and 6!  It was our job to make it happen.  And when I let things get by that did not branch correctly, by not following every possible answer that could be given to every possible conclusion in the survey, we would have people who were responding live on the phone that evening when suddenly the software would glitch up and not continue (like Obamacare!).   

I remember hearing yelling, being told how much it cost in dollars to lose live people who could not finish the survey and had to be replaced with others.  Or to have to shut the survey down during the time it was supposed to be live in order to troubleshoot a glitch.  Those angry statements directed at me were true!  And I was the person who was held responsible, back in the days when people still held others responsible for nonfunctional software!!!  

For me, that job was so high stress that it lasted less than a year before my husband and I decided I was only going to work part time for the Navy reserves.  

So, yes, I have earned my chops as a beta tester, both early on and in later Navy projects.  But I have also gotten into the annoying expectation that, when I test someone’s software or app, it is a job for me and I should be paid for the beta testing.  

Just serving notice to the developers of software and apps . . . if you are not cutting me a check, I am not planning to do your job for you!!!

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Edward Snowden as the Canary in the Coal Mine . . .

19 Dec

Edward Snowden as the Canary in the Coal Mine . . .

Every few months I have to recalibrate with Eugene Robinson in order to realize that this liberal writer and I agree completely on the role of the National Security Agency and the fact that they have gone far beyond that role, funded by our taxpayer dollars to collect against our own citizenry, no less!!!

Edward Snowden had to be. Whether he is a traitor, I will leave to someone more nuanced than myself.

He did need to fill the role of whistleblower. And of canary in the coal mine.

He may never be able to come back to the States. I think he realized that possibility when he did what he did. He counted the cost and . . . did what he did anyway.

What if we had never found out that the NSA is collecting on virtually every electronic move made by every resident of this land, as well as many people overseas? And that it is storing the data for quick recall later if they ever suspect one of us of anything.

As Mr. Robinson says, this data is always available after the fact with a warrant.

But the NSA wants their collection to be effortless. And apparently warrantless.

I like Mr. Robinson’s statement that it is supposed to be inconvenient (to the government) to invade our privacy!!!

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