Values

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Since man had power on the earth, man has also had power outages. Power outages are one thing, but rolling blackouts are another thing altogether. “A rolling blackout, also known as rotational load shedding, feeder rotation, or a rotating outage is an intentionally-engineered electrical power shutdown in which electricity delivery is stopped for non-overlapping periods of time over different parts of the distribution region.” This type of shutdown…rolling blackouts…are a supposed to be a last-resort measure used by an electric utility company to avoid a total blackout of the power system. I can understand that in a serious heat wave, even though it is a dangerous maneuver, and I can even understand it in an overload caused by an unexpected cold snap, even thought that is also seriously dangerous.

I don’t know a lot about the energy industry, but I do know that some of the recent cuts in types of energy resources are very dangerous when it comes to making sure that we have enough energy for our country. It seems that these states who don’t regularly need large amounts of energy for heating and cooling, don’t have a way to “stockpile” any either. Rolling blackouts are used as a response strategy to cope with reduced output beyond reserve capacity from power stations taken offline unexpectedly, such as an extreme weather event. So, when an emergency occurs, their solution is to have these rolling blackouts. California has done this for years.

The theory behind the rolling blackouts is a “measure of demand” response. If the demand for electricity exceeds the power supply capability of the network, it’s time to have a planned blackout. Rolling blackouts might be limited to a single city or state, or they can be district or nationwide. The whole thing depends on the network and the stockpile of energy resources. Rolling blackouts generally result from two causes. These are insufficient generation capacity or inadequate transmission infrastructure to deliver power to where it is needed.

For California the rolling blackouts had began on June 14th, 2000 due to a heatwave. Other dates for rolling blackouts in those first couple of years were January 17-18, 2001, March 19-20, 2001, and May 7-8, 2001. These were the beginning dates of the California electricity crisis which included extremely high prices and rolling blackouts. In reality, the “crisis” was a direct result from the manipulation of energy of a partially deregulated California energy system by companies like Enron and Reliant Energy. I wonder too, if the mismanagement wasn’t also on the part of the state’s mismanagement. The recent power outages in Texas from the freezing weather were also rolling blackouts, and the problems they caused were far worse than the California rolling blackouts, because of all the things that froze up from the severe cold. The reality is that one way or the other, our government has to stop limiting the production of our energy resources. That is my opinion, and I’m sure some would disagree, but these rolling blackouts are ridiculous.

Have you ever wondered what things you might change if you could just turn back time? I can think of a number of things I would change, and I can think of many things that I would never change too. Things like my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are definitely in the “I wouldn’t change these things at all” category. My religious beliefs and career choices fall in that category as well. I have lived a blessed life. Of that fact there is not doubt. I had wonderful parents and in-laws, as well as sisters, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews too. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are precious to me. Yes, I have been greatly blessed. In these things, I would never choose to turn back time.

Of course, we have all made mistakes in life. I think the ones that tend to haunt us the most are the things we didn’t say, when we could have. Or we might regret the things we did say, when we might have kept quiet, or said something different. Also, we might regret the time we might have spent with those we care about, but we allowed our busy lives to dictate our time, or the lack thereof. When it pertains to those we love, like parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles, we all have wished that we had spent more time. Of course, as kids, and even as adults, there always seemed to be more time for these things later…until there wasn’t. When they are gone, we finally see just how unimportant that important thing we needed to do, really was. Of course, communication goes both ways, but some people really warrant an extra effort. Unfortunately, they don’t always let us know that they needed more of our time. They don’t want to intrude, I suppose.

If I could turn back time, I would go see my parents and in-laws more than I did. I would call and talk to siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins more. I have found that for those who are online, Facebook, texting, and Messenger have helped to fill the gaps. For me, it is far easier to text or write things down, because believe it or not, I am a bashful person. I can carry on a conversation, however, and I really should do that, so I don’t regret still another “shoulda, woulda, coulda” later in my life. I guess what I am getting at is that we all need to consider the things that are important to us, and make sure that we pay those important things enough attention. That way, maybe, “If I could turn back time” could be just another song lyrics, and not a personal regret.

Combat diving…yes, that’s a real thing. Navy divers are used in ships maintenance, marine construction and salvage, demolition and mine clearance, and special forces. Army divers may be used in engineering activities such as bridge construction and demolition, and by special forces units. I guess that when I considered combat diving, I thought of underwater battles, and once in a while, that was the case. One case I heard of recently is that of Robert Hughes. Sergeant Hughes served as the Dive NCO for First Force Recon Company during 1967 to 1968. Born September 26, 1951, Hughes grew into a tall muscular man, and that helped him in the performance of his duties. During the Vietnam War, it seems that while divers had jobs to do routinely below the surface of the water, the Vietcong had a tendency to try to sabotage the divers, and that’s when they knew what real combat diving was.

While hunting the Vietcong fighters, it was not uncommon for US troops to observe the Vietnamese flee underwater and never reemerge. It was proof that they had made their escape into one of the countless tunnel entrances located below the water. The US had scuba trained Force Recon Marines, who would comb the river bed looking for bodies, equipment caches, or enemy tunnels. It was during one such mission that Hughes fought the battle that would earn him his reputation.

Hughes had always been called a “gentle giant” by the Marines he served with. Of course, it was his size that earned him the giant part…Hughes towered over many of his peers. He was a gentle man, but all that disappeared when he was engaged in a battle with the VC fighters. Then he became a virtual tiger. On one dive mission, Hughes was given the task of locating an underwater tunnel. He was searching through the murky darkness. As he felt his way along a bank with one hand, Kabar knife ready in the other. He located what appeared to be the tunnel entrance, and suddenly an enemy diver shot out of the hole. A fierce battle ensued. It was a fight for his life. Hughes knew that he had to kill or be killed. Submerged and hampered by limited visibility, Hughes fought to get control of his enemy. Finally, he gained the upper hand. Hughes wrapped his legs around his enemy and pulled him in close. Then he spit out his regulator, lunged forward, and bit into the diver’s throat, ripping it out. The diver released his grip and Hughes finished the fight. This wasn’t the only “kill” to Hughes’ credit, but it was quite possible the most dramatic. Not many people have fought to the death by ripping out the throat of their enemy with their teeth. Hughes was a tiger in battle. One marine who served with him, said, “There was no one I would rather have as security underwater than Sergeant Hughes.” Hughes was an amazing soldier. Sergeant Robert “Gentle Giant” Hughes died on February 14, 1990.

As the world first began to be settled, the Hawaiian Islands were discovered, and in approximately 400AD Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands traveled the 2000 miles distance to Hawaii’s Big Island in canoes. To get to Hawaii, they navigated by the sun and stars, reading the winds, currents, and seabirds’ flight. The Polynesians sailed across the open ocean in great double-hulled canoes. The Polynesians brought with them items essential to their survival, including pigs, dogs, and chickens; the roots of kalo (a root vegetable and one of the most complex carbohydrates on the planet) and sweet potato; the seeds and saplings of coconut, banana, sugar cane, and other edible and medicinal plants. Polynesians were well-established on the islands when Polynesians from the Society Islands arrived in Hawaii. These newcomers became the new rulers of Hawaii. After a time of voyaging back and forth between the Society Islands and the Hawaiian Archipelago, contact with southern Polynesia ceased. During the 400 years of isolation that followed, a unique Hawaiian culture developed. That is similar to what happened when the pilgrims came to the new world…present-day United States. Once away from the culture one comes from, new ideas and new skills begin to form.

The Hawaiian people were highly skilled farmers and fishermen, who lived in small communities ruled by chieftains who battled one another for territory. The new Hawaiian culture was a highly stratified society with strictly maintained classes of people. The chiefs headed the social pyramid and ruled over the land. The highest class, the Kahuna (professionals) were highly regarded and sometimes feared, they were experts on religious ritual or specialists in canoe-building, herbal medicine, and healing. The middle class, the maka`ainana (commoners) farmed, fished, built walls, houses, and fishponds…and paid taxes to the paramount chiefs and his chiefs. Kauwa, the lowest class, were outcasts or slaves. I can’t say that the class society was fair, because it really wasn’t, but many societies of that era were ruled in that way, and in reality, this class society still exists…maybe with slight differences, but it still exists.

In many ways, the culture was quite oppressive, especially to women. A system of laws known as Kanawai enforced Hawaii’s social order. Certain people, places, things, and times were considered sacred. Being near them was kapu, or forbidden except to a very privileged few. Women ate apart from men and were restricted from eating pork, coconuts, bananas, or a variety of other foods. Kapu regulated fishing, planting, and the harvesting of other resources, thus ensuring their conservation. Any breaking of kapu disturbed the stability of society, and the punishment for breaking this law was usually death.

Still, even with the strict laws, village life was rich and interesting. Hawaiians fished in coastal waters and collected shellfish, seaweed, and salt along the shore. They raised pigs, dogs, and chickens and harvested sweet potatoes, kalo, and other crops. Men pounded kalo into poi, which is the staple food of Hawaiians, while women beat the inner bark of wauke (paper mulberry) into kapa (bark cloth). The sounds of taro pounding and kapa beating were rhythmical signatures of Hawaiian village life. That changed dramatically after Captain James Cook arrived in 1778 and introduced the rest of the world to Hawaii. Cook, who named the islands after the Earl of Sandwich, returned a year later and was killed in a confrontation with Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay, on Hawaii’s Big Island. Still his impact on the state of Hawaii remains.

With each passing year, I find myself more and more amazed that my mom, Collene Spencer could be in Heaven for six years now. For those of us who miss her very much, that thought feels sad, but for my mom, who loved the Lord so much and was excited to see Heaven, these have been wonderful years, that seemed like seconds, I’m sure. Each day for her is now spent in rejoicing, because that was always what my mom wanted. She never desired anything more than to worship God and bask in His presence. Like one of the songs we used at her funeral, and those of many others now, tells us, “We can only imagine what it will be like!!”

Mom enjoyed many things in her lifetime. She liked to travel, go camping, celebrate the holidays, and spend time with family, but more than anything, my mom loved to spend time in the Word. We bought he a Kindle when they first came out, and loaded it with Christian books and the Bible. It made it so much easier for her to read, because it was so light and easy to hold. She had dozens of books at her disposal, and she loved that. She spent her days reading and communing with God while her family was all at work. Anyone who knew her will tell you that my mom was “All about bringing others to the Lord.” She loved people, and didn’t want anyone to be lost, but she really wanted people to know how much God loves them. She never stopped telling others about God’s love for them, and that is to her credit. I can’t begin to count the number of people she led to the Lord in her lifetime.

Of the things on this Earth, the most important to mom was her family. She treasured each and every new baby that was added to her lineage, and I know she can’t wait to meet the ones who have arrived after her homegoing. She also treasured the new spouses and partners. There was a special place in her heart for each of these new additions. When someone loves one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond, that makes them awesome in Mom’s eyes…and that makes them as much hers as if she had given birth to them. There was always room in Mom’s heart for more loved ones. She loved watching her family grow with each new addition. She considered each one perfect. It s such a wonderful way to look at people, and one we should all incorporate into our own lives. When I think of the life lessons my mom gave us, these things are among the greatest. As I look forward to my own homegoing someday, I can only imagine just how wonderful it will be, and as I continue my life on Earth, it is my desire to live my life in such a way as to make my mom and my dad proud of the child they raised, and the woman I have become. I miss my mom very much, and I am forever grateful for the life she and my dad gave me. Happy 6th anniversary of your homegoing, Mom. We love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again.

Those of us living today, might not have heard of a thing called a Poll Tax, but it was a very real thing, and with the election process just behind us, I think this might be something worth hearing. The Poll Tax was also known as a head tax or a capitation tax (meaning a tax for a head count). When I first thought about this particular tax, I thought well, maybe that kind of a tax could have ensured a fair election, but really, the opposite is true. While the head tax was considered an important source of revenue for many governments, from ancient times until the 19th century, in the United States at least; voting poll taxes (whose payment was a precondition to voting in an election) have been used to disenfranchise impoverished and minority voters (especially under Reconstruction). I find that absolutely unbelievable. In this nation in most election years, we have to practically beg people to get out and vote. Charging them money for it would all but insure a poor turnout. It would also insure that only those well enough off to be able to “throw money” at an election would be able to vote. Now that is truly appalling.

It is my understanding that originally the “poll tax” or maybe more correctly, head tax was not about an election, but more like the census. It even has Biblical roots…Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be counted and pay their taxes to Caesar Augustus. This was the first of the head taxes. The tax might have been originally a way to bring in revenue. The poll taxes that followed, in most cases, were purely discriminatory. These latter poll taxes ensured that only wealthy people got the chance to cast their vote…thereby putting in candidates that those in charge wanted.

While the Poll Tax might have been a way to bring in money for governments, it seems to me that it could also be a way to make sure that the people vote for the candidate the government wants. Those who might have voted for change to improve the situation in their own neighborhoods, towns, cities, and states, were usually the poorer people, but they couldn’t vote for someone who could help, because they didn’t have the money. Many of these people were minorities. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments from ancient times until the 19th century. In the United Kingdom, poll taxes were levied by the governments of John of Gaunt in the 14th century, Charles II in the 17th and Margaret Thatcher in the 20th century. By their very nature, poll taxes are considered very regressive taxes, are usually very unpopular and have been implicated in many uprisings.

On August 27, 1962, the Twenty-fourth Amendment (Amendment XXIV) of the United States Constitution was proposed. The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. The amendment was ratified by the states on January 23, 1964. When the 24th Amendment was ratified in 1964, five states still retained a poll tax. Those states were Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia. These states continues the practice even though the amendment prohibited requiring a poll tax for voters in federal elections. Finally, in 1966 the US Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, that poll taxes for any level of elections were unconstitutional. The ruling stated that the poll tax violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Further litigation related to potential discriminatory effects of voter registration requirements has generally been based on application of this clause. Those of us living today, might not have heard of a thing called a Poll Tax, but it was a very real thing, and with the election process just behind us, I think this might be something worth hearing. The Poll Tax was also known as a head tax or a capitation tax (meaning a tax for a head count).

As the final day of 2020 arrives, I find myself…relieved. This has been a hard year in so many ways…so many losses. Setting aside the loss of friends and loved ones, because that is almost too much to go into, I will turn my attention instead to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the source of much of the loss we all felt this year. Countless numbers of people lost their jobs this year, or at least temporarily lost their source of income. We became isolated, even if we weren’t sick, we were told to wear masks, and even when things opened up partially, the churches were told to stay closed, while the abortion clinics were considered essential businesses. We were told to shelter in place, making us feel isolated and alone. We couldn’t visit loved ones in nursing homes or hospitals, making them feel alone and forgotten. We were told to skip the holidays and stay at home, further isolating all of us. Urgently needed surgeries and cancer treatments were postponed, because of the virus, but people could still kill the unborn babies. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the seriousness of the virus, I lost loved ones and friends too, but the way things were handled, especially in Democratically run cities and states, did nothing to protect the people of this country. We tried to listen to the scientists, but they kept contradicting themselves and each other. One minute masks saved lives, the next they didn’t. I hate to be a person who only rants, but like most of us, I’m over it…and I’m over 2020.

With all that has gone on in 2020, I am still able to say that I have high hopes for 2021. The craziness and sadness of 2020 will not last forever, because people have a strong tendency to have hope for the future. Pandemics have come and gone, and this one will too. As a nation, we will fight for our freedoms. We have done it before, and we are not scared to do it again. I believe we have God on our side, and in Him, we have the victory in every battle…especially this one. Whether people want the vaccine or not, it gives many people hope that there is an end to this Pandemic. I think that is the main thing that people are looking for these days…hope!!

As we close out 2020, we can consider it hindsight as we look forward to 202Won!! I really like that, because this nation, as well as many others, need a win right now, and I’m all for putting 2020 in the rearview mirror, and turning the mirror toward the ceiling so we don’t have to look at it ever again. We will persevere, and we will come back stronger, if we don’t lose hope and our strong faith in God!! I am a positive person, but I think 2020 was enough to try anyone’s patience and even faith, but we must never lose faith. Never doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light. And don’t ley what you see make you doubt what God has spoken. So, here’s to the end of 2020. Bring on 202Won!!! Happy New Year everyone.

The Battle of the Bulge has been a brutal, hard-fought battle. The soldiers were tired, cold, and hungry; and all they wanted was a night off to recharge. That was not to be. They had more pressing matters to attend to, and the fate of the free world might just depend on their success. The Germans had achieved a total surprise attack on the Belgian town of Bastogne, on the morning of December 16, 1944, due to a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance because to bad weather. The American forces, specifically the US 101st Airborne Division bore the brunt of the attack and incurred their highest casualties of any operation during the war. The town was vital to the Germans, because it would open up a valuable pathway further north for German expansion. The siege had to be stopped, and the 101st Airborne Division needed help to do it.

The capture of Bastogne was the ultimate goal of the Battle of the Bulge…the German offensive through the Ardennes forest. Bastogne provided a road junction in rough terrain where few roads existed. The Belgian town was defended by the US 101st Airborne Division, which had to be reinforced by troops who straggled in from other battlefields. Food, medical supplies, and other resources eroded as bad weather and relentless German assaults threatened the Americans’ ability to hold out. Nevertheless, Brigadier General Anthony C MacAuliffe met a German surrender demand with a typewritten response of a single word, “Nuts.”

This was as bad as it gets, and they needed a hero. Enter “Old Blood and Guts” Patton. General George S Patton Jr was a “street fighter” of a general. He knew what it took to win, and he refused to lose. He was the kind of leader any army, and indeed any government needed. Patton made the decision, the only possible decision he could make. The plan was a “complex and quick-witted strategy wherein he literally wheeled his 3rd Army a sharp 90° turn in a counterthrust movement.” It sounds like a simple plan, but there is no more risk-laden battlefield maneuver than a 90° turn and then a move across and perpendicular to their own lines of communication. The possibilities of mistakes being make were endless. Still, Patton told his men that lives depended on them, and they needed to be in Bastogne…100 miles away, in five days. Not only that, but the march would be over a mountain pass in frigid temperatures. It seemed an impossible task, but two days later, Patton broke through the German lines and entered Bastogne, relieving the valiant defenders and ultimately pushing the Germans east across the Rhine. I think that if this mission had been asked of any other general, the results might not have been so great. There are generals in war who may annoy everyone around them, but when it comes to doing what is best for the people in trouble, you don’t want anyone else to do the job.

The United States is a great nation, but it would be very hard for a nation to remain great, if that nation did not have a strong military. These days, national security is not guaranteed. That makes our military men and women absolutely essential. All too often, I don’t think we give our veterans the respect and recognition they deserve.

Veterans and soldiers are unique characters. Most of us are not interested in running off to some other country at the drop of a hat to defend people we don’t even know. Nevertheless, when a people are being oppressed, it is a soldier who is called to defend them. These soldiers leave their homes and families, often for months at a time, and go off to another country to defend strangers. They miss births, first steps, school plays, graduations, and so much more. They miss tucking their children in at night, dropping them off at school in the morning, watching their sporting events, and having weekend barbecues, just to name a few. By the time they have left the military, their children are often mostly grown up. It is time they can never get back, and yet they consider it time well spent, because they did their duty and they saved lives. What more could we ask of them?

Veterans Day is a day when we honor those who served and upon their discharge, came back home. In this case, while it does honor veterans who have gone to their Heavenly home, it is not about those killed in action. Theirs is a different day…Memorial Day, the day we remember those lost in battle. All of these men and women served their country and the world, but a veteran came home and lived out their life…hopefully with all their limbs attached, but many times that was not to be either. Those veterans, and those with PTSD need our help badly, but all veterans, no matter what the outcome of their service was, deserve our complete and total respect. Veterans Day began on November 11, 1919, making this year the 101st anniversary of that date. To all those among us who served, thank you for your service, and to those veterans who have gone home, including my dad, Allen Spencer and many family members, I thank you!! Happy Veterans Day.

I am sometimes amazed at the ability of humans to be heinously cruel to other human beings. From murders, to slave owners, to prisons or prisoner of war camps, man has the ability to act out evil in its purest form. Still, one would not have expected such evil in the American Revolutionary War era. Well, one would be wrong. We all know that war is a horrific event, but worse than losing life and limb in battle, seems to be the fate faced by those who are captured by the enemy forces, only to be tortured and even killed.

During the Revolutionary War, being captured by the British often meant being sent to a prison ship, the worse of which was the HMS Jersey. Over the years of the war, approximately 11,000 prisoners of war perished on the HMS Jersey. The number of American field casualties during that war was approximately 4,500. That is a stunning difference. The HMS Jersey often held thousands of prisoners at one time, in quarters that were so close, that it could be likened to being packed in like sardines in a tin. There was no light, no medical care, barely any oxygen, and very little in the way of food and clean water. The guards on the prison ships were not concerned with keeping their prisoners alive, and HMS Jersey was the worst of them all.

The little food the prisoners were given was moldy, putrefied, and worm infested. The prisoners had to choose daily to eat the horrible food, or starve. One prisoner Ebenezer Fox, who survived said, “The bread was mostly mouldy, and filled with worms. It required considerable rapping upon the deck, before these worms could be dislodged from their lurking places in a biscuit. As for the pork, we were cheated out of it more than half the time, and when it was obtained one would have judged from its motley hues, exhibiting the consistence and appearance of variegated soap, that it was the flesh of the porpoise or sea hog, and had been an inhabitant of the ocean, rather than a sty. The provisions were generally damaged, and from the imperfect manner in which they were cooked were about as indigestible as grape shot.” That pretty much says it all, I would say. The British soldiers were seemingly unaffected by the image of prisoners banging their biscuits against the deck to remove worms, because this treatment continued throughout the conflict.

Because the prisoners were kept at sea, the smell of a piece of dirt from the shoes of a soldier back from shore leave became one of the prisoners’ greatest delights. I guess that one can always find some good, even in the worst situations, if one looks for it. Captain Dring, a survivor who wrote prolifically about his experiences on the Jersey, recalled one particularly strange consolation. When someone died on the ship, their remains were usually thrown overboard, but occasionally they were allowed to be taken ashore and laid to rest. Dring was part of a group that was tasked with digging graves on land. The men chosen for this duty were ecstatic to be on land again. Dring even took off his boots simply to feel the earth underneath his feet. However, when the crew came across a piece of broken-up turf, they did something extraordinary: “We went by a small patch of turf, some pieces of which we tore up from the earth, and obtained permission to carry them on board for our comrades to smell them. Circumstances like these may appear trifling to the careless reader; but let him be assured that they were far from being trifles to men situated as we had been. Sadly did we approach and reenter our foul and disgusting place of confinement. The pieces of turf which we carried on board were sought for by our fellow prisoners, with the greatest avidity, every fragment being passed by them from hand to hand, and its smell inhaled as if it had been a fragrant rose.”

The known fate of the men on board the prison ships, and especially HMS Jersey was a slow and painful death. Most knew better than to expect to survive their ordeal. They had seen too many of their comrades die right before their eyes, to have much hope that they could make it out. To make mattes worse, the majority of the prisoners aboard the Jersey were young, inexperienced farmhands, not hardened soldiers with survival experience. Only a few of Washington’s army were soldiers with any experience. The rest were provincial people, and many had never traveled beyond the limits of the small county where they lived. Imagine the horror of war, and then the conditions on HMS Jersey to the young, innocent men. The constant punishment, meager rations, lack of light, and lack of privacy could be tolerated, but the inactivity and helplessness most likely added depression and despair to their suffering. Times were different then, and there were things that were not available, but many of the things the prisoners suffered could have been avoided, especially the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, but apparently they just didn’t care.

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