Monday, November 20, 2006

The bad guy, me.
Once again I find myself at a crux of parenthood, and this one is a doozy. I've heard that your first reaction is usually the right one, and I think it's true in this case as well.

While my 12-year-old son was at music camp this summer, he auditioned for the International tour group, and out of some 250 students who autitioned, he was one of the 78 selected to be in the choir. That was quite an accomplishment. When my son's dad told me in September that my son had been accepted to go on this five-week European tour, my first reaction was, "he's too young," and his dad had the same misgivings. I asked him for all of the information before the deposit deadline so I could make an informed decision about this whole thing before saying yes or no. He agreed.

So, I didn't get the information until after the deadline, and without asking me or telling me, his dad put a deposit down on the trip. I thought this was inappropriate and inconsiderate, especially since I didn't get the promised materials for review until a week after the deadline. I was even more convinced at this point that this trip was a bad idea. I didn't know who the points of contact were, what would happen if he was sick or hurt or lost, and who the people are that he would be going with. I sent my son's dad an email requesting specific information that would help me to make a decision.

My son's stepmom attended a briefing at the organization's location and got additional information. She was kind enough to send an email with some of the information I requested. It did not, however, clarify some of the key points I asked them about in the email, like who gets contacted if he gets injured or lost, and I was supposed to get the names and phone numbers of families whose children had participated in this international tour, but I didn't get that information, either.

Meanwhile, they all went on as if this was a sure thing. They've encouraged my son to take on part time work to help pay for this very expensive trip, my son has been saving his allowance, and attending rehersals. He is now very excited about this trip and it seems to be the primary focus of his life.

There is evidence that he's been more focused on this trip than his school work. On his October report card, GPA was a substandard 2.5 (our of 4). For a kid who is supposed to be taking a trip to Europe, these grades are not acceptable, and his dad and stepmom agree... but that's where the similarity ends.

I sent an additional email to their family giving reasons why I think that my son is not yet ready to go on this kind of trip. First is his grades, which granted, could be turned around, but there's no guarantee that they will before he left in June. Second was the fact that he's not mature enough and has not truly done anything to merit this trip. Little holds his attention for long, and I feel that after a week he will become bored with touring and it will all become a huge chore - for the remaining four weeks. My point was that this is the kind of trip reserved for someone who has worked hard for a goal and is an expensive reward for a 12-year-old.

Third is the lack of information about the tour, exactly where they will be going, and with whom. There has been no itinerary or certainty provided to any of the parents regarding the tour, nor any examples of past itineraries. He doesn't have any close friends in the group, and none of us know any of the adults.

Not wanting my son to hear my misgivings second hand, I called him to tell him about the concerns I wrote about in the email to his dad and stepmom. In the middle of the conversation, he got very quiet. I asked him what he was feeling, and he said, "angry," and then hung up on me.

I was livid. After calming down, I called him back, and told him that this exactly deomonstrated the lack of maturity I was talking about. He became insulting, mocking, and hostile. I could not believe this was my son talking to me; he had never, ever, spoken to me this way before.

I called him back, and he did not apologize for hanging up on me, and I scolded him for his disrespectful actions. I told him that I would not sign the paper for the passport that would allow him to go on the trip. We were closing the conversation, and was telling him that I expected to hear from him tomorrow when he said goodbye and hung up on me again. I left a voice mail for his dad about what happened and asked him to call me.

I didn't hear from his dad, so I called his dad this morning. He defended my son and told me that my son denied hanging up on me twice. We discussed the points of the email, and I told him that there is no way this child is going to Europe after the display of disrespect and immaturity I received on the phone.

His dad did his best to talk me out of it, and I didn't commit to anything on the phone, but I'll be damned if this child is going to be rewarded for this kind of disrespect, immaturity, and bad grades. After I worked through the anger and consulted with my novio, I came to realize that I cannot allow this child to go to Europe. He is definitely not ready.

But, it's difficult to say no to someone you love, even if it's the best thing to do.

If I let him go, then he will think that it's ok to lie, be hostile, be disrespectful, get mediocre grades, and go to Europe.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fridays.

I love Fridays at work. Everyone jokes a little more. Everyone smiles a little easier. Everyone talks about the week and what they have planned for the weekend.

I think part of the spirit of the day is the fact that we only work four hours on Friday (well, those who aren't management or supervisors. I usually work 6 to 8). The rest of the days we work at least 9 hours, so when Friday comes around it's almost a holiday-like atmosphere.

The guys often wear college jerseys or shirts from their favorite sports teams. They talk loudly about the games and who sucks and who's going to take the pennant, series, etc. Gals dress down fashionably with designer jeans and stunning jackets or outfits you just can't wear during the week. Jeans are everywhere.

People play music in their cubes. People stand up on chairs and talk over the cubicle walls to their neighbors.

Stuff gets wrapped up, signed off, and kicked out the door. Aaaahhhhhh! One less thing to think about over the weekend.

Then, when you get to leave work after only four hours, there's the added benefit of feeling like you're playing hookey. You can go shopping, run errands, take in a game, go to the beach, or go home and take a nice long nap.

Yep. Fridays sure are nice around here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VA Update

--------------

Response (Dept of Veterans Affairs)
10/04/2006 09:40 AM
This is in response to your inquiry of September 28, 2006. The advise from the VA General Counsel that we must conduct a rulemaking to establish procedures governing our consideration of applications for the addition of new emblems of belief to the listing of emblems that may be inscribed on Government-furnished headstones and markers was received in 2006. During this time period, VA has not approved any requests for new emblems of beliefs.We have a few requests pending for emblems of belief from a variety of organizations and faiths. Once the rulemaking is completed, VA will review all pending applications using the criteria set forth in the new regulations.Thank you for your interest in NCA programs and our Nation's veterans.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Still fighting the VA over Wicca Emblem on Grave Markers

Hello, again, friends. Well, this isn't over, yet. And, I wrote the VA office and got a total bullshit answer from them. Here's what's going on so far. I don't know if this link will work, so I'll post the text below as well.
<https://iris.va.gov/Scripts/iris.cfg/php.exe/enduser/acct_login_submit.php?p_userid=lionflower@yahoo.com&p_enc_passwd=&amp;amp;p_next_page=myq_idp.php&p_refno=060927-000130&p_created=1159368186>


Veteran/Inquirer
09/27/2006 10:43 AM
Sgt. Patrick Stewart gave his life in service of his country a year ago in Afghanistan while fighting the war on terror. His widow has been petitioning the Veteran's Administration since his demise for a grave marker appropriate to their faith, a marker with a pentacle on it, which is the symbol of the Wiccan faith.

When I served this country for six years in the U.S. Air Force, I had Wicca declared as the religion on my dog tags. I served with honor and would still die for the right of any American to freely express their opinions and to practice their chosen religion. My Wiccan brothers and sisters who have served and who are currently serving have sworn to do the same.

How can it be that other small, little known faiths such as the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii, Soka Gakkai International-USA, and the Eckankar faith have their symbols all approved by your office within the last few years, and the Wiccan faith, whose representatives have been petitioning for the last seven years, still be ignored?

This is a moral outrage and is not representative of what I believe America to stand for. I find the actions of this office to be completely unacceptable and I have contacted both my Senate and House represenatatives regarding this matter. Please resolve it soon.
Respectfully yours,



Response (Dept of Veterans Affairs)
09/28/2006 10:01 AM

This is in response to your inquiry of September 27, 2006. We have been advised by the VA General Counsel that we must conduct a rulemaking to establish procedures governing our consideration of applications for the addition of new emblems of belief to the listing of emblems that may be inscribed on Government-furnished headstones and markers. VA will publish its rule in the Federal Register and allow for public comment. Once the rulemaking is completed, VA will review all pending applications using the criteria set forth in the new regulation.We are unable to provide a timeframe for completion of this process. Thank you for your interest in NCA programs and our Nation's veterans.


Veteran/Inquirer
09/28/2006 12:46 PM
Can you please tell me why other faiths have had their emblems approved and why Wicca's pentacle has not? Other faiths, who petitioned later than the Wiccans, have had their emblmes approved. Why was theirs approved even though this ruling by the counsel was pending and why was ours not?Respectfully,Sandra

Monday, September 11, 2006

Swap Meet Finds

--- Update ---

Roger Hedgecock, a local radio talk show host for KOGO AM 600 read my email to my coworkers on the air today. I'm truly honored. It can be heard at: <http://209.126.179.68/rogerhedgecock.2006-09-12.mp3> at the 1:55 minute time block. Thank you, Mr. Hedgecock.

-----

Martin and I went to the swap meet at the arena this weekend. He went off to look at something, so I decided to walk around to an area I hadn't seen yet. There was this grubby old rusty van with makeshift plywood tables surrounding it. What caught my eye were these red and white stripes with gold fringe trim crumpled up in a messy heap next to some rusty tools on one of the tables.

"It can't be," I thought. I walked over to that crumpled heap, and slowly lifted it off the table. Sure enough, it was a ratted Old Glory with blue that was faded to a light lavender and the stitching of her stars coming apart. My eyes filled with tears and I picked her up and held her to me for just a moment. Then I laid her out on the cleanest part of that table and started to fold her just the way my father taught me.

You should have seen the crowd that gathered around to watch me fold that flag. There must have been 25 people. As I deftly made the folds, the crowd started murmuring their disapproval of the guy and several comments were made about his disrespect. People started talking about their service, and what sons, brothers, and nephews, and daughters they had who were currently serving. I told them that I had served, too, in the Air Force. It was starting to get ugly for the guy, so he called out to me, "Thank you, lady! I tried to do it, but it kept coming apart!"

I shot him a very unlady-like look (instead of shouting at him like I wanted to do) and continued to fold, triangle over triangle. When I got it just right, with all of the tassel tucked in and no red showing, I asked him how much. The crowd looked like they wanted me to just take it, but I wasn't going to make another wrong by stealing.

He made $5 off of me that day for that tattered, fraying American flag. But that was the only sale he made for quite a while - nobody else in that crowd bought anything from that guy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Einsteinian Fashion Philosophy for Women

I'm an admirer of Einstein. Who isn't, right? When it came to fashion, Einstein didn't mess around with "what am I going to wear today." He was well known for having several identical suits of clothes in his closet so that every day he didn't have to waste brain power trying to decide what matched. He just picked the next outfit of the rack and out the door he went.

Well, I'm no brilliant physicist, but I am hella busy, and I don't have time in the morning to stand there in the closet trying to figure out what I'm going to wear. I have a vanpool to catch! Nor can I buy several identical outfits and just pull the next one off the rack. #1, they would take away my girl card. #2, all of my gay friends would disown me. #3, I would personally dislike to wear the same thing every day.

So, I've adapted Einstein's fashion concept for little femmy me.

Just about everything in my work wardrobe goes with something else in my work wardrobe and just about everything is interchangable. I choose the color of the season and then work around that. Here's how it goes:

I have a white pinstripe shirt with blue, tan, and brown in it.
I have a white pinstripe shirt with pink, tan, and brown in it.
I have a tan camisole/shirt.
I have a burgundy print camisole/shirt.
I have a brown peasant skirt.
I have a knee-length brown and tan straight skirt.
I have gray slacks.
I have blue slacks.
I have a professional brown blazer.
I have a trendy brown blazer.
I have brown square-toes pumps.
I have brown trendy pointed-toe pumps.
I have black slip on mules.
Coordinating jewelry in conservative or trendy styles.

I also have another set of work clothes that goes together in a different fabric/color set:
I have a couple of stretchy black shells.
I have a stretchy olive shell.
I have a teal sweater top.
I have a teal blouse.
I have a long, stright burgundy skirt.
I have long, stretchy black slacks.
I have a short, stretchy black skirt.
I have a black cardigan.
I have a burgundy over jacket.

Every weekend I make sure everything is washed and neat and ready to wear for the next week. Then, I group tops, bottoms, and outterwear in the closet. The only decisions I have to make in the morning are 1. conservative or trendy, 2. skirt or slacks. Everything else just falls into place because whatever I choose works.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Who else might I have been? - A Sunday Scribbling

I was barely 18 and just finished my second interview with the alarm company in Palm Springs. I was offered a dispatcher job, but had not yet accepted. It was a very appealing job. In addition to my dispatching duties, I would also have the chance to learn how the alarm systems work and would be relied upon to remotely program the alarm system from the office after it had been installed. Having always been a techno-phile, the prospect of actually "getting my hands dirty" was very exciting. I left the interview feeling exhilirated.

I decided to do some window shopping and gallery gazing along "the strip" known as Palm Canyon Drive. This was my habit whenever I was in Palm Springs, and it seemed like a great way to top off this great day. I always enjoyed the art galleries the most and spent a lot of time walking around in them and scrutinizing the art. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist. I had some talent, and it was very undeveloped, but that never stopped me from dreaming. I looked at the art hanging on the walls and told myself that I could do at least that good if not better.

I walked into one very striking gallery and absorbed each painting and sculpture I passed. For once, the owner was in the gallery instead of some clerk, and he was unabashed by the multitude of questions I had about the art and the artists. I think he was a little bit amused at my curiosity. I even confided that I dreamed of taking art classes and being an artist myself one day. The next thing I knew, the owner offered me a job in the gallery - commission only, of course, but he also offered to introduce me to one the artists who was looking for an apprentice. I was flabbergasted and overjoyed. Still, I had the other job offer from the alarm company to ponder. I asked him for 24 hours to think it over.

I had a bit of a quandry on my hands. Do I take the techie job that was stable, that paid regularly, and would allow me to develop some marketable skills, or do I follow my dream of being an artist, making connections through this gallery, and apprenticing with someone who regularly sold paintings for thousands of dollars?

Technology won.

Perhaps if I had parents who could have supplemented my income or bailed me out had I not made anything on commission, I would have chosen the artistic route. As it was, I was depending on me and only me and had no safety net.

Do I have regrets? No. I have a great techie career that pays well. But, I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I chosen to work for the art gallery instead.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Visions of terror danced in her head.

I just had the weirdest vision. It was like on of my PTSD episodes where it interrupted my activities and I was caught up in the feelings of the moment. The vision was that a dirty bomb was set off down in Corodado. I was at work and and we were all directed to evacuate. I copied all of the important work files to the laptop started for home. I started the journey in my car but traffic and panic made the roads impassible so I had to continue on foot. Geeze. There I was walking through the chaparral in business shoes.

I've been avoiding listening to the news because it's been really bothering me. I guess I'll have to take even more evasive steps. It's one thing to be informed; another to be disturbed. No more late night headphones for me ... and maybe I'll pack a pair of hiking boots in my car just in case.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Heat. San Diego, CA.

At work today the topic of everyone's conversation is the heat. People from Temecula, downtown San Diego, Murietta, Perris, Hemet, Ramona, El Cajon, and Alpine are all suffering from temperatures that are at least 10 degrees above normal. That may not sound like much, but there's a big difference between the way 85 degrees feels and the way 95 degrees feels.

We're breaking record after record out here. People's air conditioning bills are through the roof. In our home we are rationing our air conditioning use for fear we won't be able to pay the electric bill. I think we're going to invest in a solar panel next year so we can run the AC for the duration of the heat wave and not have to worry about paying out the nose for it.

Some people are suffering though electrical black outs, which are nowhere near as bad as Queens, NY, I know. Those folks have it much worse. Still, my cube neighbor had an unannounced power outage for 11 hours and she has a very pregnany daughter at home. Must have been miserable.

Temperatures around the beach have been in the high 80s where they are usually in the 70s, and the humidity is unlike what any of us are used to. Temperatures out in Ramona where we live have been triple digits for a week. Last year we saw only one or two days in the 100 degree range. And it's just beginning.

Forecasts for the remainder of the summer are more of the same for us; high 90s and into the 100s. This is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Too young to ... die?

One of my best friends from elementary school died on Saturday. Oh, we hadn't spoken in years. We went our separate ways in middle school when I started seriously getting into the occult and my dad was officially wigging out. But, those hot summer days when we were just kids playing at her house were the best.

She is the first friend my age to die from anything serious like cancer (instead of something stupid like riding a motorcycle too fast while stoned). I want to tell some of our stories, but I'm not ready, yet. I'm still in the selfish mode; morning her loss for myself and missing her, dealing with my own mortality, etc.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beginning Days
These are the beginning days. These are the days we will remember, the days we will speak of to our grandchildren, if we're still around to have grandchildren. There is anxiety in every American voice. Anxiety and fear. Callers in to talk show hosts, coworkers, and grocery store clerks all express concern over current middle eastern events. The tension of the world is so thick it can be felt in the very air we all breathe. The entire population of the world is breathing shallowly, hesitantly, as if stressed. Decades of anger and resentment are being released in the form of missiles and rockets. Old wounds are being reopened and salted with the blood of brothers, sisters, mothers, children, uncles, fathers, and friends. The G8 stands as one, but the posture is slouched, and the message is weak and does not touch those who are deafened by their own vengence. These are the beginning days that will shift the world into segments, solidifying alliances and breaking others. These are the days that will change the world forever.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Band Names
Here is my most current Top 5 List of phrases that I think would make great band names:

5. Sneakers in the Dryer (a friend was referring to the music that comes from lowrider trucks)

4. Mop Slapped (a coworker was describing what happened to a man who was trying to convince his new Chinese wife that even though the carpet is dirty she should not use a mop on it)

3. Wierdos in Oshkosh (a friend in a chatroom was describing the new Goths who had moved into his neighborhood)

2. Toxic Octopi (a bunch of coworkers were chatting about sushi)

1. Tin Whisker (I read about these in a white paper generated by the engineering department that described a phenomenon that was causing short cirucits in satellites and other space-living technologies)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I just received a call from the office of the Honorable Duncan Hunter. The office inquired with the VA and the VA has agreed to recognize the pentagram as a symbol of the Wiccan religion. They will be installing the symbol on Sgt Patrick's headstone prior to shipment.

Duncan Hunter's office ackowledged that Wicca was regognized as a religion by the U.S. government in 1984, and he used a very respectful and apologetic tone when admitting that not many people were aware of the religion and its significance to its practitioners. The gentleman, Cal, who identified himself as senior relations for the office, seemed a little embarrassed by the VA's confusion and assured me that they encouraged the representatives of Nevada to get this taken care of.

Not bad for a bunch of Republicans. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything from their office. Barbara Boxer (Democrat) has never called me on an issue I've raised to her.

This experience has taught me two things:
1. It pays to be a registered voter and to write to your congress representatives about issues.

2. Not all Republicans are jerks.
Cheers!
Sandy

The original letter I wrote to both of my congress representatives follows:

Honorable __________,

It has come to my attention that Mrs. Roberta Stewart of Nevada is having difficulty getting an appropriate marker for her veteran husband's grave.

As reported by the Reno Gazette Journal, "She is the wife of Nevada National Guard Sgt. Patrick, Stewart who was killed in combat Sept. 24, 2005 when a CH 47 Chinook helicopter he was in crashed on a support mission in Afghanistan."

Mrs. Stewart and her husband, Patrick, were both practitioners of the Wicca religion. This is a religion that was acknowledged by the U.S. government in 1984. The symbol of the Wicca religion is the pentagram: a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle. This is an ancient symbol of protection that has deep meaning for Wiccans.

Mrs. Patrick was supposed to hear from the Veteran's administration in February as to whether the symbol of her husband's religion would be allowed on his grave marker. Earlier requests were denied.

Having served in the U.S. Air Force for six years myself, and having had Wicca stamped on my dog tags, I am very much dismayed by the VA's decision to first deny and then ignore Mrs. Patrick's request. This is morally and Constitutionally unacceptable.

Athiests have symbols on their veterans' grave markers. Jews have them. Christians have them. Muslims have them. And, a number of obscure religions I've never heard of have them. I do not understand why the VA will not honor the Patrick family's request.

Please inquire with the representatives of Nevada as to why this is so, and please let them know that this Wiccan veteran is perterbed by it. Please also contact the VA and instruct them to comply with the wishes of Mrs. Patrick.

Most sincerely,
XXX

Friday, May 12, 2006

Water as Fuel

This is for real, folks. Let's not let big business and the oil companies squash this. There is a video that demonstrates the technology of HHO gas in action, and the guy developing this technology is now powering his car with WATER.

http://www.freeenergynews.com/Directory/BrownsGas/WaterFuel.wmv"
http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Hydrogen_Technology_Applications_Inc
http://freeenergynews.com/Directory/RhodesGas/index.html

I really don't want this one to get away from us. Here's what I wrote to my Senator about it. I encourage you to do the same.

Honorable Senator Boxer,

Please do not allow big business to squash the efforts of the people who are developing ways to use water as a fuel source to power automobiles and other mechanical devices.

This is the solution our nation has been looking for. This, I strongly believe, is the technology that will change the world and solve our country's oil dependency problem.

Please, let's get some government funding for the development of these technologies on a large scale. I volunteer to help in any way I can.

<http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Hydrogen_Technology_Applications_Inc>
<http://freeenergynews.com/Directory/RhodesGas/index.html>
Thank you.Sandra Stoddard

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"when in doubt, always take the"

My brother and I were in a pretty noisy casino a few weeks ago and we were having a political conversation. I yelled to him, "When in doubt, always take the moral high ground!" What he heard, however, was" When in doubt, always take the Merle Haggard!" We laughed about that for quite a while.

Then I got thinking that Americans get a lot of use out of the phrase, "when in doubt, always take." I wanted to find out what other sage advice was out there, so I did a Google search of the phrase. And, here's what I got. It's completely out of context to you, but you may find it interesting none the less.

(I put them in the order of my favorites on top.)
Cheers!

When in doubt always take the Major Wound. [ed. Instead of what???]
when in doubt always take the single atom. [ed. As opposed to ...?]
when in doubt, always take the dog.
when IN doubt ALWAYS take the dog/pup.
When in doubt, always take the red pill.
When in doubt always take the pump and a bottle.
when in doubt always take The word of terrorist scum.
When in doubt, always take the high one. [ed. As opposed to the skinny one, or the cute one?]
When in doubt, always take the other side of the NYT’s (New York Times') predictions.
When in doubt, always take the high road.
When in doubt, always take the Rover tours.
When in doubt, always take the vendor’s.
When in doubt, always take the safest course.
When in doubt, always take the time to check out the charity involved.
When in doubt, always take the safest course of action.
when in doubt, always take the left fork.
When in doubt, always take the moral high ground. (From the San Diego State University Badminton Team Member Contract)
When in doubt, always take the centerline.
When in doubt, always take the player on the better team.
When in doubt, always take the safest course of action.
when in doubt, always take the time to look something up.
When in doubt, always take the more formal approach, so as not to offend the elected official.
when in doubt, always take the team with the best player.
When in doubt, always take the middle infielder over the corner outfielder.
When in doubt, always take the high road.
When in doubt, always take the bigger creature over the smaller.
when in doubt always take the Path of least Resistance.
when in doubt always take the expensive option.
When in doubt, always take the head coach that runs the cleaner football program.
When in doubt, always take the paint code located under the seat to your dealer for comparison.
When in doubt, always take the offensive.
When in doubt, always take the common sense approach.
when in doubt always take the middle road.
When in doubt, always take the offensive.
when in doubt, always take the side of life.
When in doubt, always take the side of your gender.
When in doubt always take the safe side.
When in doubt, always take the vehicle to a mechanic that you trust for a thorough inspection.
when in doubt, always take the points.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Flightline Survival Recipes
Recipe #1
Crew Chief Mocha

You’re working the graveyard shift and your plane isn’t due in until 3:30 AM. How do you stay awake when that 2:30 AM lull hits you? Head on down to the 24 hour cafeteria in the terminal and make yourself up some of this brew. It’ll get you through.

Ingredients:
16 oz coffee that’s been sitting on the burner at least two hours.
1 to 2 packets of powdered hot cocoa mix (marshmallows optional)

Directions:
Choose the big size cup. Pour in the coffee. Add the hot cocoa mix. Stir to blend. Add more coffee or cocoa mix to taste. Convince the cashier that it’s only hot cocoa so she doesn’t charge you for both. Enjoy!

Recipe by: Joe Toup

Friday, February 03, 2006

You're never going to make changes from the outside looking in. Real change occurs when you submerge yourself in that which you wish to change. To change it, you must become a part of it. Remember, too, that it is an exchange, not a one-sided thing - the thing you wish to change will change you as well.

Many pagans express outrage or call me a hypocrite because I was ever in the service. I understand their objection to the military. After all, the military kills people. The military is a necessary evil; without it, we would be overrun by other countries who would change our way of life. This means our religious freedom and our basic human rights would be at stake.

Personally, I love my religious freedom, and while I was in the military I chose to express my religion in subtle ways. Because I was a good troop, I presented a positive image to others who had never heard of a pagan or a Wiccan. Wicca was the religion declared on my dog tags. Some people thought I was just strange, but I did enlighten a few and I changed a couple of minds about the religion. I even gave the prayer at the Airman Leadership School graduation ceremony for my class. I think I did a lot of good while I served. And, I believe my service was good. I changed the military just a little bit. It changed me a lot. In good ways. In both directions.

Now, I'm looking at government. We holler loudly on the outside about it. We don't like the way things are done in this country. But, to change it, we have to become a part of it. It's the only way to be successful. So, when are you going to get involved?