Winter Flash-Irrational

True had a sense of being watched, an itch making her hair stand up as if with a life of its own. She refused to turn around instead, she continued her walk along the river, sauntering as if without a care in the world.  Around the next bend, she knew there was a bench where Jimmy Jon sat each morning to watch the riverboats, she would stop there and watch for who was following.

“Morning JJ.”

“Blessed Day, you got problems a following you.”

“How do you know, JJ?”

“Lookee there at that man, he doesn’t fit the riverwalk folk; not one bit at all.”

True looked where JJ nodded his head and saw the man, tailored suit, cropped hair and pale skin. Nothing about him stood out, but he didn’t fit in either.  She felt irrational in her fear of this stranger, until he smiled.


It is a new season, time for a Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week is Irrational with a word limit of 150.  Irrational comes in at 149.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

Not Backward, Please

Eisenhower_and_KennedyI have been thinking, I know dangerous up there my brain wheels grinding and all.  Nevertheless, I have been thinking.  Thinking about how the world has changed in fifty years, especially the United States.  How we as a nation and a people have changed so very much in this short half-century of time that has passed since the assassination of JFK in Dallas.  Do you wonder how we have changed?  Do you think it is for the better or like me, do you think we are worse as a nation and pettier, smaller as a people.

Dwight Eisenhower warned us of some of what was to come if we allowed certain elements of our society to gain control.  In his farewell speech he said much, though one quote is often referenced it is also taken out of context, leaving off much of what President Eisenhower said and intended regarding the military-industrial complex, I recommend reading his speech.1

From this same speech comes an even more profound statement, one that looked into the future and saw the potential of our smallness.

“Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history, yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.”  1

What does this mean?  As the oldest President handed the reins of power to the youngest, he warned the nation of our potential for terrible acts.  He thanked Congress for working with him in a bipartisan manner.  He thanked the nation for allowing him to serve.

What this doesn’t tell us, we were already sending soldiers to Vietnam.  We had been doing for years though the term then was ‘advisors’.  Three weeks before the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara upped the ante, increasing both military and economic support.  We were at war again, though undeclared.  This would lead to the first draft of unwilling soldiers since 1942, on December 1, 1969.

The world was in upheaval.  Young people taking to the streets, demanding they not be sent to die on foreign shores.  Demanding accountability for the billions spent, the lives destroyed and lost, the flag draped coffins shown on television every night reminded us, young and old, this was not a war of our choosing.

President Johnson decided not to seek reelection because of the outrage against Vietnam, thus handing the reins of power to Richard M. Nixon.  The nation was once again sent spinning, though he eventually ended the war, he also taught us a terrible lesson about the abuse of power.

Do we think about this, track this abuse of power in those we elect to high office?  Personally, I don’t think we do.  I think instead we shrug it off, in some cases even expect it and so continue to elect the miscreants.  One thing I know for certain.  No matter who actually commits the acts, whether criminal or simply scandalous we lay the blame at the feet of the President holding office at that time.  With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at the High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the past several administrations:

Crimes=Convictions  :  Scandals=Bad Acts made public


I will admit it was difficult to come up with these numbers, nearly every site listing numbers gives a slightly different view and I did not include Sex Scandals in the numbers of which we have had many over the years.  Soooo, while these numbers are close to accurate, they may be off by one or two in each administration.  What I found fascinating in looking through the lens of history?

the big ones_scandals

Look at that would you, all those big ones.  What does that say to us?  The redder we get the more corrupt.  That no matter which side of the aisle congress falls on, whoever is in the White House sets the tone.  Is this why today we have a bunch of obstructionist clowns, criminals and hypocrites trying their damnedest to manufacture scandals to lay at the feet of this President and this administration? Thus far though we have many named scandals, not a single one have stuck except in the minds of those who would smear, those who would destroy a legacy, those who are so filled with hostility toward this President, they would do anything including destroy democracy and us, the American People in their crusade to destroy this administration.

Don’t mistake me, I can find fault with President Obama.  I wish he would lead us further down the progressive path, further to the left rather than sticking so closely to the middle.  I understand though, he is leading the entire nation, not just the part I belong too.  I wish he would end Afghanistan, bring our soldiers home for good.  I wish he would rein in the NSA, shutter the programs of his predecessor.  I wish he would stop the Drone attacks and the killing of civilians.  I wish, frankly he would stop negotiating with his haters and stand up for his base, lead the party and the nation with strong words and actions that call out the naysayers by name. But I understand, sometimes you have to act in the best interest of others to gain the best interest of an entire nation.

I thought though these little factoids were interesting, fifty years of High Crimes, Scandals and What the Hell in the face of a changing nation.  No, our President isn’t King, Dictator or any of the other names laid at his feet.  He also clearly isn’t leading the most corrupt administration in the past century.  The election and ultimately assassination of John F. Kennedy opened the door for so many things, including the opportunity for Barack Obama to become President someday.  Strange what fifty years will do to a nation.

I have to ask all those Conservatives, those Tea Party Republicans, those whatever on the Right you call yourself; what is it you want to take us back to anyway?  From where I sit back doesn’t look all that grand.


Winter Flash – Mad

Deanne stared at the white space and shuddered.

Dipping her roller in the first pan, she began the transformation.  Her family could hear her working, laughing aloud as she rolled out paint.  Later they heard something slapping the wall; they wondered what she was doing in the dining room.

Finally, the door opened.

“Are you mad, neon pink walls and lime green hand prints,” her husband shouted.

“Isn’t it perfect?”  Deanne smiled serenely back.


It is a new season, time for a Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week isMad with a word limit of 74.  Mad comes in at 74.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

Hot: Finding the Path

finding the pathDid you notice? What?  Notice what you are asking, right?

Well, there is a new book added to the group to the right, casually scrolling by, flashing for your attention.  Flashing, get it?

Flash Fiction has switched from Fall (Autumn) to Winter 2013.  With this switch the latest book, ‘Finding the Path’ was released from Redmund Productions, just recently (a couple of weeks ago actually).  I love the cover; in fact, I think it is my favorite to date.  ‘Finding the Path’ is available in paperback, Kindle, e-pub and PDF, there is simply no reason not to grab your copy!

I had a great time writing to the Fall words; directionally challenged I had fun writing to all the directional words, often having to think about what they meant in everyday life and how to adapt them to stories.

The other authors in the book this time took many different directions (get it?) including excellent Sci-Fi.  I love this one; it is an excellent example of Micro Fiction from some truly creative authors.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt I made the cover!

I feel like I made the cover of Rolling Stone, I feel like a rock star!

Flash on over to Redmund Productions and grab a copy of your own.  Grab the entire series while you are there, I did and am giving them as gifts to family and friends who love to read.

Conundrums Demystified

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other day I was sitting at Starbucks waiting for my customized travel coffee to be served up.  I stop each Sunday at the front end of my three plus hour drive to Houston for a Trenta (can someone please tell me why Starbucks is so pretentious they need their own size names), iced unsweetened soymilk 5 shots of espresso keep me the hell awake drink.  I stop in Huntsville for a similar sized Black Tea and Cool Lime (fully caffeinated) to make the last hour of my trip.

Anyhoo, there I was sitting and waiting when I opened last month’s Oprah magazine.  I know, I bitched about her magazine already, this time I actually found something I enjoyed (shocking).  Every month there is a feature called “Contributors”, most times when I read Oprah I breeze past this page not this time.  ‘Demystified’ was interesting, it was funny and compelling enough for me to tear the page out on the sly. Five contributors to the magazine answered four questions, or as the headline read:

Five creative minds come to terms with their most compelling conundrums.

I loved the ‘conundrums’ and thought it would be interesting to try to answer them myself.

Stolen directly from page 12 of the September issue of Oprah, I bring you Demystified.

I am so glad I learned the secret to…living with ambiguity and taking risks in my career and my personal life.  Had I always followed the path of safety I wouldn’t have seen the world nor had so many truly amazing opportunities to love and be loved.

But I hope I never figure out…how to live an unemotional life, not crying at movies or when reading a book.  I don’t want to grow so jaded or cynical I don’t respond to those emotional triggers intended to pull at our heartstrings, whether in a McDonalds commercial (“I had blue eyes first”) or at the real life wedding of a friend.

When I need help with life’s mysteries, I turn to…best friends, my own mind and books in that order.  I use to turn to my beloved step-mother who was my anchor for many years, since her passing I often replay out conversations in my mind and find many mysteries are resolved this way, she was true North for me.  My husband is a wonderful sounding board but wants to solve problems instead of allowing me to work my way through them.

My next challenge is figuring out… how to continue working, return to school for my Ph.D., maintain my marriage and actually have a life worth living while doing all of it.  Yes, I know sounds like I want it all, why not?  I keep asking myself why I would do this, why pursue an advanced degree at 56 years old, what the hell is the benefit?  But it is the dream.

I would love it if you answer the questions yourself, in your own blog or even here in the comments.  For ease here they are:

I am so glad I learned the secret to…

But I hope I never figure out…

When I need help with life’s mysteries, I turn to…

My next challenge is figuring out…

You Can Keep It

WideModern_Obama_130621620x413“You can keep the plan you have.”

Everyone weights in, including Bill Clinton. Everyone has an opinion, on both sides of the aisle; Democrats and Republicans, the Tea Party is running with the idea of the Train Wreak.

The website doesn’t work as well as it should. It is certainly a problem; I think we can all agree.

Sign-up in the federal marketplace for private insurance are far below projections or what is necessary to claim success. The slow sign-up is consistent with the Massachusetts experience and reflective of the gross problems of There are so many different issues, more than are being addressed by the media, the talking heads or by the clamoring politicians afraid of their re-election prospects.

What should we be thinking right now? Who is to blame for the failures? What are the answers?

Without pointing fingers at any single person or entity, is it possible to answer these questions? Probably not, so let’s point some fingers and remind ourselves of what the ACA was supposed to be and who is behind some of the failures and who is not. is a website with a complex integrated system underlying it. It was underfunded, poorly managed from its onset and deployed without appropriate testing. Further to this, thanks to the many obstructionist Republican Governors who refused to establish state exchanges, the Federal exchange is far bigger than originally expected. What does this sizing mean? It means greater complexity, more integration to individual private insurance companies in individual states. Add to this the entrance barriers set up by those states that chose to ‘opt-out’.

Can we blame this entirely, no we can’t. We can point to this as part of the problem though.

We also have to blame the contractors, all of them, responsible for the design and deployment of the solution. No, not just the website the entire system; it does not work and this is a clear design flaw. The flaw isn’t just in the front-end, what you or I might see, but in the back-end everything from how it was sized to how it is integrated to the all the other systems it must integrate with to provide the services it was intended for. The contractors hired to provide this system were given a Statement of Work (SOW) to develop this system with what I am certain were clear milestones and requirements, they failed to meet the most critical of these. None of us can know for certain how oversight was provided over the various stages of the contract, how milestones were validated or whether there were periodic quality gates to insure requirements were being met. We do know though taxpayer money was paid to private contractors to deliver a system that does not work and that is doing great harm to citizens and this administration.

Does part of the blame for the system failure fall on the government agency in charge of the development? Yes, it does. They were responsible for oversight. Who within that agency is responsible? Ultimately, it is the head of the agency; however, knowing what I do about this process it is unlikely the top of the line was sitting in status report meetings, performing tests or otherwise involved in the daily activities of this project. There was an accountable deputy.


Here is what I do know, The President of the United States is not responsible for the failure of as a computer system or website frontend and we truly need to stop beating him about the head and shoulders for this specific failure.

Finally, ‘You can keep your plan if you like it’. Yes, the President said this repeatedly. I think he believed it. In fact, within ACA all the policies now being cancelled by the Private insurance carriers were grandfathered for at least two years. This means Americans should have been able to keep their policies through 2015. Let’s talk about both the junk and what else the Private market is doing shall we?

  • High deductibles
  • High co-pay
  • Annual spending limits
  • No catastrophic coverage

These were primarily Defective products, not grandfathered and in many cases, states had thrown the companies out years ago. On the other hand, there were policies that did meet the standard for being grandfathered, even if they did not meet the ‘Basic Coverage’ standard of the ACA. What is happening with these? Why are policyholders receiving letters of cancellation of policies they like, that the President of the United States promised they could keep. There is a simple answer.

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The Private Insurance Carrier decided to re-price their product to ensure they were making a PROFIT.

When the ACA was designed and passed, it was a gimme to the Private Marketplace. It kept Private Insurers in the game, offering them a broader market even if they had to meet some new restrictions and regulations. Although the law was designed in favor of citizens, allowing them to keep their current policies, it cannot force the private insurer to continue offering that policy to the market.

Blaming the President for the greed of the Private Insurer is idiotic, truly stupid. For those making the most noise, I offer this tidbit to chew on. The acts of the Private Market are consistent with Capitalism at its finest.

This is what everyone wants, right? Free Market Capitalism and Competition

Well this is what you got, so stop bitching. The Private Insurance marketplace is doing exactly what they choose; they are evaluating their products, cancelling those that no longer meet their profitability standards and offering alternatives. They are using marketing techniques, while you and I might find them slightly shady; there is nothing illegal about what they are doing. If those receiving the cancellation letters are too lazy, stupid or stubborn to look for alternatives; shame on them.

I am tired of hearing the ACA is a failure. We have only gotten started and even today, with what has already been implemented it has helped Americans. Do we need to look at the ACA and potentially tweak the law? Yes, we do and we should. But this trash talk in Congress, on the street and in the media is ignorant and without merit.

Winter Flash – Level

“Are you stupid?”

“I don’t think so; no I am fairly certain I am not stupid.”

Jarrell stared across the fence at Ric, then at the fence itself. Slowly his face turned lobster red, “If you aren’t stupid you must be incompetent”.

“What are you talking about, I don’t see the problem”.

Jarrell pointed at the pickets, each a different height, “The fence is supposed to be level man, what were you thinking?”

“Creative interpretation.”


It is a new season, time for a Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week is Level, with a word limit of 75. Level comes in at 75.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

Winter Flash – Erratic

Why did she tell him she knew how to cook? Why did she agree to host a dinner party? Now what?

Priscilla studied the book, forehead scrunched her eyes followed her finger across the page with an erratic bounce. She started over again, from the beginning of the page. The print blurred as she stared at the page, ‘dammit, what will I do, dinner in an hour I don’t know how to make spaghetti sauce.’


It is a new season, time for a Winter of Disturbing Flashes. Flash in the Pan is brought to you by the remarkable Red of M3 fame, to join in the fun read the rules at the link provided and get to flashing!

The word this week is Erratic, with a word limit of 75. Erratic comes in at 75.

Hashtags: #flashfiction #getpublished with @RedmundPro

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