Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2021.12.01
But - most sorrowfully - many people never achieve spiritual sharing even with
the help of male-female advantage; they are condemned to wander through life
alone.

		Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"

2006.09.09

Tribute To Mary Melendez

[From September 10th through September 12th, 2006, the JZ:TOL weblog homepage will be dedicated to remembering Mary Melendez and her family.]

Many diamonds passed from this earth on the morning of September 11, 2001. When I signed up with “2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11” to be one of the bloggers assigned the task of honoring one of those precious gems chosen at random, I looked forward to the opportunity. It would be an opportunity, I thought, to come to know just a little bit more about the life behind one of those diamonds. What I didn’t know was how difficult, emotionally, this responsibility would be. You see, my diamond was Mary Melendez.

Mary Melendez
Mary Melendez
August 22, 1957 – September11, 2001

Upon first seeing her picture, I smiled. How could you not? What a grand effect her smile must of had in person. I’d wager as effortless as a Spring breeze across a wheat field is how a smile came to Mary. A smile like that isn’t put on from the outside, it shines tirelessly from within. That’s what I thought when I first saw her picture.

As I began to cast about to learn more of Mary’s story, I was fortunate and heartened to find a wealth of remembrances. Having read all I could find, there were other things I came to know as true about Mary. She gave and received love unconditionally. And she is deeply missed.

Mary’s kindness and generosity clearly touched many, many lives. For play or for parties, for kids and adults, the Melendez’ house was the place to be. Every neighborhood, it seems, has a house like that. A trusted second home. For Mary and her husband, Ramon, to have created and shared such a space is a testament to the quality of love they held within their own family.

The center of Mary’s life was her family. While a successful professional in her own right, she made accommodations to her work schedule in the interest of spending more time with her family. A loving wife and proud mother to four boys, her life reflects the depth of her love, strength and undoubted ingenuity for keeping each of her sons on track.

The caliber of support for her sons is to be admired. When her son, Ricky, was leaving for Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., Mary saw to it a proper party was thrown to send him off to his next success. While he was away, Mary wrote to him every day, keeping him up to date about all the little things that together mean “home.” She and Ramon had made plans to attend Ricky’s graduation on September 15th.

As I researched and wrote this post, I kept wanting to write as if I were speaking directly to Mary. It seemed to be the only way I could adequately express some of my thoughts and feelings about what I had come to know about her and her family.

I can tell by your smile, joy and happiness simply shined from within you just by being who you were, an expression undaunted by events around you.

I know you did not belong on the front line of an unknown war and am saddened to know you were there.

America, the country, is forever indebted to you. America, the idea, will always remember you, for the very soul of Freedom and Liberty is composed of those such as yourself. To harm you was to harm all of us. To loose you as we did was to threaten the very soul of America and what it means to live in freedom.

I pray that you are at peace. I pray for your family that they may find peace.

I think all of America knows in the abstract the loss of life on September 11, 2001, was horrific. But there is a lot of room in the abstract in which all manner of horror can be packed away out of sight, much as you might isolate a monster on a deserted island. A much smaller percentage knows the loss first hand. The loss of a family member, a friend, a coworker or even an acquaintance. A direct connection, however brief or slight the touch, has tapped them into the full electricity of the loss.

I will not presume that my humble tribute to one of those lost on that fateful day has allowed me to experience the loss borne by so many others. But I can say the experience of researching and writing this post has allowed me to set foot on that abstract Monster Island, and even this slight and humble gesture has had a profound and lasting effect on how I frame news reports of all my fellow humans who have died similarly.

It has been my honor and privilege to write this post in tribute to Mary Melendez. For the rest of my days on this earth, memories of September 11, 2001, will forever be touched by thoughts of Mary Melendez, her family and a sadness knowing she perished on that day. But even this will thaw and melt away as I remember the image of Mary’s smile, leaving the comfort of knowing that the world was made a better place for having been graced by such a being. It is by remembering the life she lived and the family she created that we can all find renewed hope for ourselves and our children.

May God bless Mary Melendez, her family and all her friends.

Additional Links

Tribute and Comments on Legacy.com.
Comments on September 11, 2001 Victims.
Mary’s cousin, Josie Cleary

Tributes to the other victims can be found on the “2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11” web site.

2006.08.24

The Blogsphere’s Tribute To The Victims of 9/11

If you are a blogger, do this: 2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11. You can sign up by clicking here.

I’ll be giving a great deal of thought for a post honoring Mary Melendez. She died in the World Trade Center.

Mary Melendez
Mary Melendez, Age 44

2006.08.02

Making The World Safe From Treeists

I am soooooooo relieved the police have pounded another gang of rogue tree climbers into the ground. Whew! It was getting to the point I was a fearin’ to leave my house!

To the 12-year-old friends planning to build themselves a den, the cherry tree seemed an inviting source of material.

But the afternoon adventure turned into a frightening ordeal for Sam Cannon, Amy Higgins and Katy Smith after they climbed into the 20ft tree – then found themselves hauled into a police station and locked in cells for up to two hours.

Their shoes were removed and mugshots, DNA samples and mouth swabs were taken.

Crikey. I’d ask where’s the common sense to this but I already know the answer – THERE ISN’T ANY. There’s a thread about this stringing over at Slashdot.

And let’s not forget Glenn Reynolds’ question: “Will somebody please explain to cops that they can’t arrest people for photographing them?”

2006.07.27

The Last Words Of Kevin Cosgrove

Stunning.

Kevin Cosgrove

I have watched this and will watch it again – every time I show it to someone else. Then I will list for them all the points of Shar’ia law they are in violation of just by standing there and being who they are. The best they can hope for is the life of a dhimmi. At the hands of rabid fanatics, it is more likely the consequence of their transgressions will put them in that building with Kevin Cosgrove.

We know Kevin Cosgrove’s last words. What will yours be?

For a fascinating “What If”, read SF writer Dan Simmons’ April 2006 Message.

More comments here.

[Edit History]

2006.07.27

Case in point:

On 15 August, 2004, Atefah Sahaaleh was hanged in a public square in the Iranian city of Neka.

Her death sentence was imposed for “crimes against chastity”.

The state-run newspaper accused her of adultery and described her as 22 years old.

But she was not married – and she was just 16.

A fine example of the “pure values” President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad seeks to slather world-wide. Under Shar’ia law sex outside marriage is a capital crime, just as serious an offence as murder and drug smuggling. Care to venture a guess how many Americans have a noose with their name on it?

2006.07.28

Another thread regarding Atefah Sahaaleh can be found over on Tim Blair’s site.

2006.08.13

An hour long video of Atefah Sahaaleh’s story can be found here. Seventh century thinking caught on video. Who says we cannot go back in time?

2006.09.11

Added picture of Kevin Cosgrove and his children.

2006.07.21

Operation Mag-Neato Update

Coolness.

   
 

Doc Lee Letter

Are you doing your part?

2006.06.20

Operation Mag-Neato

It’s simple, just do what the Sergeant says:

Mail any and all refrigerator magnets (the tackier the better,naturally) to me, Sargeant Lee at:

Dr. Darren Lee
Attn: PSYOP
TF-3-187
FOB Brassfield Mora
APO AE 09349

Here’s the one I sent (Iraq is a dangerous place and information is power.):

Operation Mag-Neato - JZ-TOL

Read all about it here, here and here. And more here.

[Edit History]

2006.07.11 – Looks like the address has changed. The address above is the latest one as of this date. Alas, I haven’t spied my contribution.

2006.07.20 – New address again. Visit Doc. Lee’s web site to be sure you have the latest address. It’s looking pretty.

2006.06.17

Modern Day Marshalsea

While on a recent trip I found myself short of cash. “Not to worry,” me thinks. “A convenient cash advance from my credit card and all will be set right.” And so it was, until I got my credit card bill. I hadn’t done any kind of cash advance for years, as in 15 years. Having learned early about the black pit that is “Credit Card Debt,” I vowed to myself as a young lad never to fall into that dark, unholy place again. Since that day, I’ve paid my credit card balance in full each month.

But there are new rules (new to me, anyway) about cash advances. Not only do you pay a “fee” for the cash advance transaction, $20 in my case, but the damn thing is subject to immediate and Draconian finance charges. Check out the APR put in place by a simple cash advance:

Ouch

It would seem with the recent changes in bankruptcy laws (aggressively lobbied for by the banking and credit card industry) and the ability to jack interest rates to such obscene levels, the credit card industry has successfully pilfered the signage above the very gates of Hell: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” All the more reason to be mindful of the benefits of hard work and grateful I can pay my balance in full each month.

2006.06.13

Aluminum Overcast

Growing up in the 1960’s, the events of WWII were a mere 25 years in the past. It seemed like ancient history at the time, but now that those events happened more than 60 years ago, both age and experience have given me a different understanding of times’ relativity. Its easy to understand why my brothers and I had a strong interest in that particular war. WWII was more recent to us than the Vietnam war is to the kids growing up today. We did the outward kid stuff like playing soldier and building models of ships, tanks, canons, aircraft – virtually all manner of military equipment was of interest.

But we knew more of the history around the arsenals we built. Certainly more so than the kids today. Our kid play involved re-enactments of the Battle of the Bulge, Anzio Beach and the Ploesti Oil Raid. We knew the history of the Desert Rats and the 8th Air Force. In that respect, it wasn’t play. We taught ourselves the details of an important time in world history and in doing so gained a lasting appreciation of war and its effects. That a man could die in battle wasn’t such an abstract concept. We didn’t have the Game-Over-Reboot-Start-Again filter.

My greatest interest, my speciality even, was aircraft. No detail was too small or insignificant to commit to memory. Indeed, no self respecting student of the Mustang would dare claim expertise without knowing the subtle differences between a P-51B and a P-51C beyond the obvious fact they were manufactured in different locations. No doubt enthusiasm of this sort was inspired partly by my father’s tales of being an Air Scout and hanging around the likes of Joe Foss.

But it was more than that. There was something attractive about being a fighter pilot or even a member of a bomber crew that was different from serving on the land or at sea. Once the aircraft left the ground, a whole new set of rules were in effect. All you had to work with was what you brought with you into the air and all you could do was move forward – no cavalry, no digging in, no backing up. Its the kind of environment that appeals to a grown up Aikido black belt libertarian who’s not afraid of a fight.

Each time I see one of the old WWII era aircraft fly over, I think of the men who went to war in these machines. Each of those moments is a Memorial Day unto itself as I cannot help but imagine standing on an airfield in England in 1944, the plane I’m watching having just taken off on its way to a mission deep in the heart of Germany. I’m seeing and hearing exactly what it would have been like over 60 years ago. These moments are a brief experience of times long gone. Unfortunately, memory of the sacrifice is fading, too.

I thought of these things yet again this past weekend as the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17G, “Aluminum Overcast,” visited Centennial Airport. My office window looks out over the flight pattern for Centennial Airport, so for the past four days I’ve watched this amazing piece of history take off and head out across the flat Colorado landscape several dozen times. I did manage a couple of good shots with my trusty Sony DSC-W7, and even a little video. Below is one of the better pictures.

B-17G Aluminum Overcast
Boeing B-17G “Aluminum Overcast”

[Edit History]

2008.06.02

Grammar fix.

2006.02.18

From the We-Don’t-Need-No-Stinking-Badges Department

Its -11°F here in Denver this morning and the power to the neighborhood has been out for the past 30 minutes and counting. What caused me to shiver wasn’t Mother Nature’s biting cold, rather this from an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Houston’s police chief on Wednesday proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.

And just who is it, Chief Hurtt, that decides whether or not what I’m doing is “wrong” in your Utopian Police State? You and your stripe? That there are American citizen who think like this is not what is frightening. Its when they are leaders in the police force, and in a position to “advise” politicians, that this thinking crosses the line. Is the Fourth Amendment safe?

Signs like this have increased in frequency since the terrorists of 9/11 gave their domestic counterparts exactly what they needed to push an agenda which believes the only secure society is one that is safely tucked under the heel of a boot. The signal is above the noise and has been for some time.

This isn’t a ding against the police. I have great respect for the job they do. The concern is directed at the neo-Luddites who’s understanding of a consequence couldn’t win them a game of tic-tac-toe. Its of special concern when such thinking wears a uniform – police or military. Nano-surveillance of law abiding American citizens isn’t the way to better security. It is, however, a substantial invitation for abuse. It moves me closer to buying a gun. Not because I feel the need for one. But to do so while I still have the right. The founding fathers of America understood the only real check against a totalitarian government was an armed citizenry capable of tearing down any despots. Despots know the only sure way to stay in power is to disarm the citizens. And detailed surveillance of every citizen would be a useful tool for finding who has what and with whom they are meeting.

[Edit History]

2006.02.24 – Bruce Schneier is running an interesting thread on this story.

2005.07.25

Janet’s Day of Days

I wanted to write about Janet’s last few days before the memories fade like delicate colors in the sun or the edges of objects in waining daylight. This post has been in draft mode for several months, undergone numerous revisions and will likely be revised again as I remember various points.

During the week Janet was in hospice, she said on three separate occasions “I want to go.” What an incredible forward looking statement. It wasn’t “I want to die.” or “I’m ready to die.” It was “I want to go.” The day before she died, she said “I want to go before they get here.”, referring to the impending visit by some of her family and out-of-town friends.

We had made it as clear as possible last Fall that Janet was facing a battle with the grimmest odds yet. No one we had known, met or read about had survived the predicament Janet was in. A month later, our good friend Linda would die from the very same complications Janet was dealing with. Getting the idea across to family was difficult because Janet had pulled this trigger several times in the past and ended up pulling through. Almost like crying “wolf”, but not quite. My sense was the family wasn’t completely sold on the idea this was going to be a problem. Can’t say I fault them for thinking this. I certainly knew that if anyone was going to fight in face of such odds, it was going to be Janet. And she did. Nonetheless, we made the call to family that if they wanted to see Janet while she was reasonably comfortable and available, now was the time. The family answered the call and each of her brothers, some of their family and her parents made the trip to Denver. (more…)

2004.10.25

Great moments in TSA security

Unlike prior examples which had at least a shred of physical “evidence” (an air sick bag with “BOB” written on it and Arabic writing in a magazine), this one is pure fantasy with real consequences. From a March 27, 2004 AP story:

“A self-described psychic’s tip that a bomb might be on a plane prompted a search with bomb-sniffing dogs that turned up nothing suspicious, but forced the cancellation of the flight.”

Doug Perkins, a local administrator for the TSA director, had this choice quote: “But in these times, we can’t ignore anything. We want to take the appropriate measures.” When the TSA officials declined to identify the psychic who made the tip, it was undoubtedly done for security reasons – the psychic’s security, I mean, not our’s.

With such unwitting allies, it’s little wonder the terrorists seem to be winning.

Ref: https://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4614495/

2004.08.31

Canary’s in the coal mine (in the land of democracy)

[Note: Much of this article was written in the months following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2001.]

One of the “superpower” traits of America’s government is it’s sheer size as well as the colossal power of it’s potential military punch. However, it does not possess any “superpower” qualities we like to ascribe to comic book super heroes. Rather our government is a collection of garden variety human beings, bundles of emotions teaming with conflicting desires and tangled by primal drives. Hardly the substrate for collective superpower capabilities.

The thing about bringing groups of people together, you only get superior capabilities in rare circumstances. In the case of large groups, like governmental bureaucracies, what typically results is something that functions closer to it’s least common denominator. Expecting such an organization to protect us from other smaller groups of humans with malicious goals is a bit like expecting peace of mind when enrolling your children in a daycare run by unfit parents. (more…)

2004.08.26

Urban Scare Crow

I believe I’ve hit on a solution for the incessant door-to-door solicitations at my home. There used to be a sign on my front door that said, in bold, “NO SOLICITORS“. Except for a few self-rightious bible thumpers and the occasional butthole, the sign was honored. But someone, probably one of the more aggressive solicitors, pulled the sign down – screws and all. Frustrated after being hit three times within an hour one evening, I ordered the following placard from one of those custom on-line sign shops:

NO SOLISITORS
Violators will be charged a
$50 SOLICITATION FEE

This is taped next to the doorbell and on the inside glass of the storm door where it cannot be removed without serious damage to the door. Since posting this, there hasn’t been a single violation and summer is typically prime door-to-door sales time.

Apparently, the bastards don’t give a crap about respecting a homeowner’s wishes. But they sure as hell are sensitive to hits on their wallets.

😀

2003.03.14

Couds of War

The following recipe for stopping war within 10 days was recently sent to my attention. It required a “strong commitment of each person involved progressing exponentially to a massive scale worldwide.”

“The basis [sic] idea is one person would find 9 other persons to stop work for 10 days straight as a personal commitment to stop war and hold for peace. Those 10 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for the next 9 days. Those 100 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 8 days. Those 1000 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 7 days. And so on multiplying by the power of 10 the total number of persons stopping work each successive day until on the 10th day the entire world would stop war and realize peace.”

Personally, my hope for peace diminishes when I see solutions like these being circulated. Is this the depth of thinking and compassion that will actually bring peace forward? I’ll leave the problems with the math alone. Mostly because I want the keep the reader. So, let’s say we have that “strong commitment of each person”. What’s going to happen? (more…)

2001.09.12

From The More-Tears-Than-The-Oceans-Can-Hold Department

Does one really have to fret
About enlightenment?
No matter what road I travel,
I’m going home.
– Shinsho
Tear

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