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Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Politics, Travel | 7 comments

My Experience of Getting Detained by the National Security Agency

 

NSA-Entrance

This is the only photo I can legally show you of my recent visit to the National Security Agency.

 

Three flaps of a starlet’s wing off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, peering over and above the surrounding treetops of piney woods nestled in the rolling Maryland countryside, there’s an ugly rectangular building tiled in grey-mirrored glass.

Several buildings actually.  They’re grouped into one ominous compound, almost in circle-the-wagons mode, purposely secluded from the outside world and walled off by high-fences topped with razor-wire, ringed by heavily-patroled parking lots with late model vehicles driven by black-ops bureaucrats.

It’s them versus the world.  Within their universe, everyone is a suspect.  All are potential enemies, even those who walk in and out of those ugly rectangular buildings every single day.  No one is trusted.

Every movement within and around the compound is monitored by non-stop surveillance.  All the time.  Everywhere.  And — those suspicious eyes and nosy ears extend way beyond just the piney woods.  They know what we do.  They know what we say.  They know what we write.  They know what we text.  All this leads to speculation about what’s coming next — will they ultimately know that we think? 

This place has no visitors.  This place doesn’t welcome guests.  This place might as well not exist at all.  Aside from the towers and wires and otherwordly white domes, those ugly grey buildings might otherwise blend in well with the broader and more expansive federal quilt of the national security and defense establishment which has come to blanket (some would say suffocate) the greater National Capital area, a mammath region of three states growing by the month which now stretches from just south of Baltimore all the way down some 50 miles south through the District of Columbia, across the Potomac, into Northern Virginia and on to Triangle and Quantico — best known as the home of the U.S. Marine Corps, and what’s known in intelligence inner cicles as “The Farm.”  [See Footnote 1]

This is a complex of secrets and secrecy.  It’s an arena of perpetual paranoia.  It’s a regimented information labor camp where the loyal foot soldiers who come and go 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, are the spookiest of spooks.  Not because they’re evil people.  Rather because they’re so extraordinarly knowledgable and powerful, and yet so ordinary.

Today’s superspy isn’t James Bond sitting at a Baccarat table sipping a martini.  He (and increasingly she) is a GS-11 civil servant wearing some cotton-polyester blend purchased on sale at Target with kids’ soccer games to attend on Saturdays.  This is what the national defense establishment has become — not massive armies of soldiers and tanks and navies of battleships — but countless anonymous faces toiling silently behind desks topped with the latest flatscreens who can change lives with a single mouseclick.

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Rants and Raves, Travel | 17 comments

An Open Letter to Spirit Airlines

 

20140219_191954

 

February 20, 2014

Attention:  Mr. Ben Baldanza, CEO — Spirit Airlines

 

Dear Mr. Baldanza:

Look at the photo above.  Take a really good look.  Press your eyeballs right up against the screen.  Sniff.  Take it all in.

THAT’S WHERE I BUNKERED DOWN LAST NIGHT.  All because of your incompetent ass-joker tinker-toy excuse of an airline.

Check out the breezeway with chunks of sour vomit splattered right outside my motel front door.  What you don’t see were the gangbangers wandering the hallways the entire night, slamming doors, screaming profanities, serenaded by a hissing nest of feral cats parked outside my window making it IMPOSSIBLE to get any sleep.  I ended up at this slimeball slumber party — all because of YOU.  Make that, because of YOUR AIRLINE.

That’s right.  It’s YOUR fault.  SPIRIT AIRLINES FAULT.  At the time I should have been buckled into my seat up in the air sipping away on my third cocktail some 35,000 feet over Kansas, instead I was padlocked into a dive motel room trying to tune out an argument down the hallway that thankfully didn’t escalate into gunfire.  Oh, and I think at least one of the females was in heat.  One of the cats, I mean.

Tell me something.  Be honest.  Would you want to stay in this shithole?

FUCK NO!

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Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Blog, Travel | 6 comments

The Pyramids Were Built by Idiots

 

Pyramids

 

Let me level with you, okay.  I’m going to teach you something.

I don’t care what all those fancy scientists and sandmen say.  The pyramids were built by fools.  Total idoits.

I mean, look at this gigantic thing in the photograph.  These things weren’t built by “Monument’s Men.”  Rather, what a monumental waste of space and time.

They spent like sixty years and forced more than 150,000 men and women to slave away seven days a week….and that’s the best structure they could come up with?  Holy shit.  Hell, it wasn’t even a union job.

And another thing.  Who would be stupid enough to build a huge pyramid like that way out in the dessert?  On sand dunes, no less.  In the middle of nowhere.

Here’s a few construction sites that actually do make sense:  The French Riviera?  I get it.  Bavaria?  I get it.  Bali, or Bora Bora?  I’m there with ya.  I could even see hauling and stacking limestone blocks somewhere in the middle of Alabama.  On second thought, nevermind.  Alabama is waaaaay worse that Egypt.  I mean, have you ever stayed at the Motel 6 in Tuscaloosa?  Bottom line — whoever the architect was that decided on a barren wasteland as a building site was either stoned off his ass, or should have been stoned (as in, to death).

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Posted by on Dec 24, 2013 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 10 comments

The Best Gifts I Ever Received — a Blanket, a Cat, and a Silver Charm

 

christmas-tree

 

What are the best gifts you’ve ever received?

Truth is, our most precious gifts are the things we often take for granted.  Things like good health, our family, and our friends.  These are priceless treasures, far more valuable than we realize — until they’re gone.

I’ve been blessed far beyond what I deserve.  I’ve enjoyed the unconditional love and support of my wife for nearly 23 years.  Two parents provided a solid foundation and the freedom and encouragement to become who I am.  Friends have done more for me than I can possibly repay.  Even people I’ve met and known for brief periods, often without knowing so, have done things that brought tears to my eyes.  Indeed, gifts are constantly coming our way.  Hopefully, you’ve been blessed as much as I have.

Yesterday’s article (CLICK HERE) made me think more about the best gifts I’ve ever received.  Please indulge me on this special occasion.  Allow me to share a few of these with you.  The three things I remember most are — a blanket, a cat, and a silver charm.

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Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Blog, Travel | 3 comments

Highway to Hell: The Florida Turnpike

 

flight-19

 

Remember the tragic story of the pilots who took off from an airfield in Florida many years ago?  They got lost during the flight and then disappeared, presumably ending up somewhere in the Devil’s Triangle.

At least the men who went missing and were never found had some legitimate excuses for veering off course.  After all, they were flying World War II-era planes.  They lacked sophisticated nautical systems.  They didn’t have global tracking devices.

Such a thing couldn’t possibly happen today, could it?

Well….think again.

In this modern day and age, imagine two grown men, both supposedly intelligent and semi-technologically advanced, getting so ridiculously lost that they would end up 120 miles away from their final destination.  Impossible, right?

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