Today sadly nostalgic “Day-Off”

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We tell God our plans. He laughs.

Today’s the Day-Off at the hermitage. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to clean things up a bit. The property is on the market. It ain’t my property. Sigh. But this world isn’t our home. We must look forward to heaven. I do, every second.

There are also ultra super special flowers for the Immaculate Conception which bloom in these days. I hope I can find them.

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve done anything with the Glock, so I’ll try to put out a few rounds as well. Since the hermitage is where my range is, I will soon be bereft of a place to practice the more outrageous of timed military and agency courses that are forbidden at more public venues. One of my baiters just happened to mention in passing recently the exact number of rounds I’ve put out over the past two years, though I never use a credit card for ammo. I would be most pleased if some of my baiters would come with me for some shooting, giving me some lessons. Anyway, a day off puts me into a different world for just a bit.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Is that a mistake? edition)

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Do you notice anything special here? Mary’s Divine Son doesn’t make mistakes when making flowers for His good mom. I don’t know about you, but I see things like…

  • a celebration of the love which stayed on the cross for us
  • a celebration of the love which willingly suffered five wounds for us

Mary saw it all… Some flowers for you, dearest mother…

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Because we’re the smallest parish

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Larger parishes send in much more, of course. They send it in through their (arch)dioceses. They don’t get letters like this since it’s all done bureaucratically. Monsignor Borgia must have loved sending this letter out. Thanks, Monsignor! Blessings upon you.

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Saluting the best of the American Military Patriotism in Joyce Kilmer

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On Monday of this week a great meal at The Hub was had with the higher ups among the caretakers of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest up in the back ridges of the parish. Personalized commemorative photos were handed out. The more one learns about Joyce Kilmer, the more enthralled one becomes. Besides the ol’ Wikipedia, here’s some bits and pieces which might hold your attention:

The next project for me is to walk the “Upper Loop”. I did the lower, and was told that I hadn’t yet seen the forest. So, O.K. I’m getting psyched up for this nature extravaganza.

Joyce Kilmer, just so you know, in putting us before the creation of the Creator, puts us before the Creator of creation. Clever, that. I love that.

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Spying on White House Situation Room

Omarosa recorded conversations in the White House Situation Room. The only way for that to happen is that it was allowed to happen by security. The only way for that to be allowed by security is for it to be planned by security. Otherwise, it cannot happen. Right? What does that say? They speak of tightening up some policies about cell phones. Really. That sounds maliciously sloppy. No one but no one in the intelligence community allows cell phones anywhere near anything or anyone high value. Just. Wow.

Moreover, if it was done once to record an alleged happenstance comment, is it not done on a continuous basis as a fishing expedition, perhaps with baiting? What does that say?

If it is thought that the content of the an alleged happenstance comment is more important than the security of the most secured room in the world, um…, what does that say?

This has nothing to do with Omawhoever. It has everything to do with bad actors in security. Right? That goes to those who set security policies. At the least, the lack of oversight needs some oversight. Who’s overseeing the overseers? That needs investigation. I just don’t see how the sloppiness is not entirely malicious.

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DOD-DARPA gaming gray-zones to be more black and white with red blood

DARPA DOD Situational Awareness

Multiple terrorist events are to be noticed in the city depicted above. Did you notice the yin-yang graphic providing foundation for situational awareness? That’s all about repeated baiting.

After taking care of some things in northeast Atlanta on my day off a few days ago, I hiked it over to nearby FBI Atlanta where, at the security building, a printout on yours truly was placed in front of me. I had wanted to discuss some options for a perpetual / interdepartmental program Main State placed me on (and in which I was further entrenched by the FBI four years later) in the early and mid-1990s. But the printout placed in front of me indicated another and more recent program altogether. I guess the agent was wondering which program it was that I wanted to talk about. That took me off guard as I didn’t know until now that I was on more than one program.

The guy was terribly exaggerated in looking at the printout, looking at me, looking at the printout, looking at me, looking at the printout, looking at me, and then putting it down on the otherwise entirely empty counter and shoving it toward me while he asked me a few questions. If he wanted me to see at least the title on the top of the page through the dark window of that security building, that was a mistake, or on purpose, either to show me how stupid it was for me to show up at the FBI when the program is spearheaded by another agency altogether, or because he was told to do that (and that indicates something else altogether, something for another post).

The summary report shoved in front of me was about another and quite recent program having provenance with “DOD/DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is largely constituted by civilian scientists and mathematicians, by physics and chemistry nerds, by manipulators of everything internet (which they helped to invent btw). DARPA is spread out in multiple research centers, playgrounds, if you will, in which imagination rules the day. Budget is simply not a concern. That would be one of the coolest places in the world to work under those conditions, wouldn’t you agree? For many years of my life I was in those circumstances. It was exhilarating. But, here’s the deal: there’s always someone who thinks they’ve found salvation by way of self-congratulation for the little project they’ve been able to get approved just because, for instance, he or she is an ultra-super-genius mathematician. And then things get dangerous.

The next day I spoke with a top DOD guy who is quite familiar with DARPA, as he would acquire the results of some of their projects for integration into some of his own major military projects he was working up with our military manufacturers. He knows a bit of my history and was much perplexed as to why DARPA could possibly be interested in yours truly. That was my reaction exactly. Until I saw this while scrolling through DARPA’s news items, now on page two as of this writing, as this was announced back in March of this year (2018). Perusing that little announcement, lots of pieces fell into place regarding incidents in relatively recent times, particularly after that date. Let’s take a quick look at that short publicly consumable document on that particular project. Be sure that anything publicly consumable doesn’t tell the whole story. But, we have what we have. It’s all baiting. As far as my own involvement in all this, I guess I would be a guinea pig upon whom to test some baiting. I don’t like it. Being a beta-target has its risks and misunderstandings. Whatever about me, it also puts those around me at risk. I’m not a willing participant. I note that the guy who stole my identity decades ago has been telling me for the past number of months that I’m on another program besides the one occasioned by him. I thought he was off his rocker. But he was spot on, describing what is happening in detail. So, here we are. So, it’s also a chance to make an evaluation from a disadvantaged, merely baited position. Here’s the short document with my emphases and [comments]:

===========================

Making Gray-Zone Activity more Black and White

New program aims to lift the fog obscuring an adversary’s intentions in slow, simmering non-traditional conflicts – outreach@darpa.mil 3/14/2018

An emergent type of conflict in recent years has been coined “gray zone,” because it sits in a nebulous area between peace and conventional warfare. Gray-zone action is not openly declared or defined, it’s slower, and is prosecuted more subtly—using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence [thus not exclusive of violence to achieve also destruction of religious sites or people(s), not exclusive of violence to achieve also the brainwashing of religious people or changes in religious practice and doctrine. While all that refers to malevolent actors, the response is to be on the same level:]. The lack of clarity of intent—the grayness—makes it challenging to detect, characterize, and counter an enemy fighting this way.

To better understand and respond to an adversary’s gray-zone engagement [meaning we are engaged and respond to that engagement in that same gray-zone with or without violence; see “theater-level operations” below], DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office today announced a new program called COMPASS, which stands for Collection and Monitoring [including humint guys=baiters to better define targets whose particularities on any given day after he’s been studied are available through metadata evaluations and actionable parameters the field] via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios [which is where in-the-field-violence can enter the equation]. The program aims to develop software that would help clarify enemy intent by gauging an adversary’s responses to various stimuli. [=baiting typical of counterintelligence reduced to spreadsheet style metadata.] COMPASS will leverage advanced artificial intelligence technologies, game theory, and modeling and estimation [all of which is utterly dependent on arbitrarily established standards of philosophy, theology, economic anthropologies, etc. This is the elephant in the room. It throws out the Constitution and replaces it with theories used by adversaries. Law is thrown out. Natural law is thrown out. It’s all just the yin-yang action and reaction, indeed being controlled by the adversary in this way as it is he who leads, who invites being baited, you know, in particular ways] to both identify stimuli [through contrived, arbitrary, thought to be leading baiting incidents] that yield the most information about an adversary’s intentions [“the ol’ mafia-esque extortion: “We know where your family lives” (it always comes down to that, as I’m told, very quickly)], and provide decision makers high-fidelity intelligence on how to respond [unless the one so baited is himself baiting his baiters since the beginning, taking any number of sides and tactics to see who’s who with what intentions] – with positive and negative tradeoffs for each course of action [people being taken out is always the “positive” result as it gives “decision makers” stuff to do, an encouragement for which can always be obtained in this fashion, the negative tradeoff simply being the bother one has to go through in explaining the reason why an action had to be taken must remain classified information].

“The ultimate goal of the program is to provide theater-level operations and planning staffs with robust analytics and decision-support tools that reduce ambiguity of adversarial actors and their objectives,” [adversarial for who, the Southern Poverty Law Center, who hold citizens in good standing to be suspected terrorists and have been joined in that opinion by the FBI for very many years now?] said Fotis Barlos, DARPA program manager. [Thus, the guy sitting behind his computer screen with a joy-stick, who is from there flying an otherwise unmanned drone and is dropping bombs on a village on the other side of the world will feel nice about himself because his target’s teenagers all play with the target’s computer all on the target’s profile and are just baiting their friends who are having fun baiting them and no one is a terrorist. Have we really given up on humint?] “As we see increasingly more sophistication in gray-zone activity around the world, we need to leverage advanced AI and other technologies to help commanders make more effective decisions to thwart an enemy’s complex, multi-layered disruptive activity.” [The response to that which is “using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence” is a response which is also “using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence”. This makes everything descend into chaos. Everyone gets better at being gray. And, by the way, baiting is also entrapment. Thus, if you put enough pressure on someone, they will react. Thus, the Mafia will break your mother’s arm for not paying her usual installment for protection, and you, the son, will express your disgruntlement publicly, the response to which is a bullet between the eyes for you, which offers a “good example” to anyone else thinking about not paying their installment for protection. And you get more people paying protection. This is called empire building. In the past number of months I’ve been baited in all sorts of ways regarding terrorist activities, and with plenty of “insurance policies” for extortion, even though I have a history throughout my life of stopping any number of terrorist incidents. This is a distraction, I think, from something going on with the duty roster at Main State. I’ve been trying to report that. This is way to stop that reporting. Anyway…]

Current military decision-making follows a well-understood and effective OODA loop—Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. [Yes. That’s rather pedantic.] This is how planning is done in various geographic areas around the world, which works for traditional kinetic scenarios, Barlos said. This process, however, is not effective in gray zone warfare. Signals in the environment are typically not rich enough to draw any conclusions, and, just as often, adversaries could implant these signals to induce ambiguity. [Tradecraft is, however recognizable if you don’t blind yourself with self-congratulatory game theory. The entire methodology must remain open to new conditions. That’s how we caught UBL. Phone calls were made on behalf of UBL, but always from a different pay phone. But no one does that. That was tradecraft so persnickety that it revealed the malicious actor. But no program would have seen that as the “programmer” back in the day configured analysis according to pre-9-11 thinking that UBL and his supporters were all in a cave. The one person only who thought outside of the program is the one who caught him. So, what does that say about this?] COMPASS aims to add a dynamic, adaptive element [not really, as the active baiting that is feeding algorithms is using increasingly ossified algorithms, right? Right?] to the OODA loop for complex, gray-zone environments. [This is someone overexcited for finding what they think the Holy Grail for them happens to be. I see this all the time in academics.]

The COMPASS program will leverage game theory for developing simulations to test and understand various potential actions and possible reactions by an adversary employing gray-zone activity. [For those not in the know, “game theory” forces life itself into an ideology of action and reaction, whose metadata can feed into imagined equations: “Everything is math” is the exclamation of promoters, “everything.” Game theory has been used by economists and some rather cynical investors for many decades. Some think, seriously, that game theory is what runs the world, absolutely, no question, everything, all based on greed, a reverse of Karl Marx but not different from him in the end. And this is where it all falls apart. Human beings, terrorists or not, have currents running deeper than all the yin-yang gaming theory. To deny this is to miss out on the experience and POV of literally trillions of people throughout the millennia] Barlos quickly noted, however, that the program is not about developing new sensory technologies, virtual reality systems or other advanced hardware. The program focuses rather on advanced software that would quickly present options to decision makers by assimilating a large amount of intelligence collected using existing, state of the art systems (such as standard video exploitation, or textual analysis tools [and humint]) related to rapidly changing scenarios.

“We’re looking at the problem from two perspectives: Trying to determine what the adversary is trying to do, his intent; and once we understand that or have a better understanding of it, then identify how he’s going to carry out his plans—what the timing will be, and what actors will be used,” Barlos said. “The first is the what, and second is the where, when, and how. [Bill Binney at the NSA diversely came up with predictions like this twenty years ago.]

“But in order to decide which of those actions is important you need to analyze the data, and you need to understand what different implications are and build a model of what you think the adversary will do,” he said. “That’s where game theory comes in. If I do this [baiting], what will the adversary do? If I do that [baiting], what might he do? So it is using artificial intelligence in a repeated game theory process to try to decide what the most effective action is based on what the adversary cares about.” [“cares about” isn’t just ideology, but also the “insurance” extortion scenarios, always. Also, again, what if the baiter is baiting you to bait in particular ways, while meanwhile he is doing something different entirely? Sitting behind a screen is one of the best ways to ensure terrorism. People aren’t so stupid as all that.]

The COMPASS program seeks experts in AI, machine learning, game theory, modeling and simulation, control systems, estimation and other related fields [I hope “other” means humint]. A Proposers Day is scheduled for March 30, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia. Registration instructions and more details are available on […]

==========================

My further commentary: The problem with all this is that the emphasis is entirely on the adversary, with nothing on the arbitrary input of the programmer. It canonizes any result recommending whatever it is that sells to “decision makers” because it is all backed up with… oooo!… mathematics. What does the programmer think philosophically, religiously, economically, socially…? Any action of violence, brainwashing, whatever, is going to be based on a few programmers in DARPA. Really? Wow. Also, the humint side of things doesn’t work if the target can figure out what you’re doing before you even start. Anyway, more on “deep currents” and how to deal with them in another post.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (What were you thinking edition)

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Red just doesn’t show up well with a digital camera. This is the best I could do. I was trying to emphasize the spidery-ness. I’m thinking that this is a bit of humor on the part of Jesus, trying to provoke from His good mom the exclamation about His creativeness: “What were you thinking?!” with a smile of course. There’s a good section of a field of these across from the rectory growing wild.

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Weird, the things you might see…

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The cloud above would be over Andrews on the far side of the mountains. Below shows the very same spot with what’s happening below the clouds with a downpour right over Andrews. Yikes! I love nature.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (While the world goes to hell edition)

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If people think that they are entitled to take themselves seriously while the world goes to hell in hand basket, so that they complain how hard it is for them, they will only make things more difficult for themselves. Better to just lighten up a bit. Notice the good things our dearest dear dear dear Heavenly Father has made and the joy and peace and goodness and kindness to which He has called us through, with and in His Son. After all, it’s all about Jesus. And, when we notice that, and see the great love He has for His good mom, we might just give Him a flower of His own creation to pass on to her. And if this sounds all just too naive and childish while the whole world goes to hell, perhaps you might want to take note that it is this which is attractive to the world, in the end, and is what might save some for heaven, right out of hell. So, yeah…

shepherd boy

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1998 US Embassy bombings: Nairobi, Dar es Salaam (FBI CIA DARPA)

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embassy dar es salaam

Ten minutes apart in two countries. Numbers killed differ officially, somewhere between 100+ and 303 people. Many thousands wounded. It was catastrophic. Two truck bombs. All other embassies everywhere scared to death. And, of course, this wasn’t only an attack on the United States, but also, very directly, on the peoples and the viability of the countries of Kenya and Tanzania. These bombings were UBL’s first big projects for al-Qaeda.

Two years previously, at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, “Rick” was the guy behind the window who, in express coordination with Main State and without me asking, provided me with a false passport because of a situation with a certain guy who had taken my identity. “Rick” became the FBI’s Chief investigator for U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam two years later. “Rick” isn’t sloppy in his work.

When, in late 1998, after these bombings, I went to report something at the Embassy in Rome, I was escorted to a back office upstairs and seated with a certain agent who entirely ignored whatever I had to report, expressly rejecting even being shown what I had brought with me as proof of gun transfers to straw purchases of Mexican cartels as wrought by the guy who stole my identity. But then she proceeded to reprimand me severely for not taking the false passport two years previously. Obviously this was front and center in their minds two years later, even not long after the embassy bombings. She was still incredulous at my stupidity: “Don’t you know who that was who gave you that passport? He became the Chief Investigator for the Embassy bombings. And you didn’t do what he said with what he offered you. Just to let you know,” she continued, “that week we were having a seminar on why never ever to give out a false passport, and in the midst of that, he did, to you. So, what do you think that means? Do you think you should have taken it?”

Rhetorical questions. I was duly smacked down. I just didn’t know what to do two years before, it being that I had only been ordained some four years and couldn’t fathom why I, a citizen in good standing, should disappear from the face of the earth with yet another “identity” in play even while the guy who stole me identity should be protected by the FBI and the State Department. It only more recently dawned on me that he’s working for them. I’m a bit slow on the uptake. This is a perpetual interdepartmental program since 1992 (at least as dated to the letter from the Ambassador at Main State), if not since the late 1970s.

Why mention this again? Because of what happened at Atlanta FBI the other day:

When I told FBI Atlanta that I just wanted to have a chat about some options of the perpetual program I’m on (which the FBI later further entrenched me in), that program going back many decades, they thought I meant something much more recent that popped up when they looked up my name, a program with DARPA. I didn’t know about that one. I have much to say about that, about being game for gaming gamers, assassins. But, I digress. That’s for another post. What I’m concerned about especially is the duty roster at Main State and how that affects the viability of our counterterrorism efforts. Concerns I raised now a year ago are as fresh as if I’d make them today. The DARPA, more recent than all of that, is a distraction. How ironic. Stay tuned for some irony.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (They’re BAAAACK! edition)

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It seems there is always an abundance of flowers to gather for the Immaculate Conception. Like clock work. Everywhere you look. These are on the fence now by the zillions in the back of the rectory. The triumph of the cross for the Immaculate Mother of Jesus. “Behold,” He says, “I make all things new.” His gift to His good mom.

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FBI Atlanta: “Hey priest, it’s DARPA.”

Continuing my “Day-Off story, by coincidence I arrived to the side-parking lot outside the perimeter of FBI Atlanta at the same time as a CTU guy from Virginia, who didn’t go through the main gate but instead parked in one of the free remaining spaces outside. I parked next to him. He walked me to the security building, except when I went back to my car to get I think it was my passport. He went back to his car and rummaged around next to me until I was on my way again to the security building. He went inside handing off a piece of paper. I went to the window outside, out front as instructed. I struggled to see anyone as the window is almost completely blacked out and even the voices are so muffled that almost zero communication can go on.

The two agents had one piece of paper visible on the entire length of the long counter between them and me. They were looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, shoving it on the counter right under my nose, though upside down. I guess they were beckoning me to, you know, accidentally have a look. It was a one-page summary report, you know, the kind you fill out with the “tab” key on your computer keyboard so as to jump from one bordered-field-box to the next, entering the least info possible, the origin, the date, the name of the author, a slightly larger box for comments at the bottom. I did get a look at the name of the author (which I needn’t give) and the provenance of the printout. The provenance of the report is what took me totally off guard. The provenance of that report was the absolutely last thing I would have thought to see that morning just there at the FBI.

To be continued. Time to start gaming the gaming game.

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FBI Atlanta – phone games

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After taking care of some things in northeast Atlanta on the “Day-Off”, and since I was right next to the new campus of FBI Atlanta outside the city (directly across the street from CDC), I thought I might see about some having a chat about some options for the “perpetual program” I’m on. It’s true that an Ambassador at Main State put me on that program, but the FBI seriously entrenched me all the more in the program in conjunction with Main State not long after that. I came prepared with some relevant documents. Not that I would need them. Having found the campus, I called up the security building.

A recording comes on with a woman’s voice warning you that the call is recorded and will be an analyzed. I like it. No, I take that back. I love it. They do a 15 minute menu to scare off any caller, first of all because of the time, but then also because of the menu options. It’s like… If you have direct information on an imminent attempt on the life of the President, the Vice-President or immediate families, press 1. – If you know of an imminent nuclear attack on the USA, those who are carrying this out and where they are right now, press 2. Blah blah blah. Finally, there’s an option for “Other”. I pressed that since nothing I have is equivalent to an imminent nuclear holocaust. The recording then started again for another 15 minutes. This gets rid of druggies who would never have the patience.

That recording finishes, and then it’s automatically piggybacked by another recording, this time with a guy’s voice who, on the recording, really impatiently demands your first and last name (at least he didn’t use expletives), and while you’re quickly saying your name the digital guy even more impatiently immediately demands that you state your name again – with raised pitch in his voice – and then without a break, even while you’re saying your name repeatedly, the recording digitally says that since there was no response he’s going to have to terminate the communication, you know, with a voice of a tender snowflake who sounds like he’s been micro-aggressioned beyond his limit for the day – how to describe it? – kind of like a quiet shriek, ever so offended that you had the gall to stay on the line all this time without hanging up. Mind you, this is all purposed to bait you into saying something stupid out of frustration. Playing the game, I did say something, though nothing stupid. “Wow” was my recorded response that they can “analyze” as the recording promises to do. “I did try to say my name…” Having gotten that response, the recording then hangs up. It is to laugh. I guess that gets rid of 99.99% of all callers who press the “Other” option. It also gives a chance for the security crowd to do research on the phone number and identity of the caller and triangulate your position. I like that. Smart. Although, one does get the impression that the FBI is trying a little too much with the inclusivity in all things thing. Somehow they got the tender snowflakes included. That took some imagination.

So, I called again, knowing that I’m now in a group of 0.01% of callers. So, this time another recording came on with yet another set of menu options threatening another 15 minutes and an analysis of anything you say. This time the recording was a guy sounding a bit like James Earl Jones. Very cool, that. The vast majority of the remaining 0.01% are going to hang up within a minute. I persevered, of course, always game to do the gaming thing. So, then, of course, soon enough a live super polite security lady came on the line and said to come on over to the security building. Great!

To be continued… I mention all this gaming the gaming game as this will be consonant with what happens next.

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Shadow-dog commands. No fingers crossed behind my back.

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I’m guessing that if a priest takes a day off it has to be put in scare quotes: “Day-Off”. First on the agenda for me the other day on the “Day-Off”, at about 3:00 AM, was to edit the article written by Father Gordon J. MacRae (About) over on TheseStoneWalls entitled “Assassin’s Deed” (what a fright!), which, this time, included at a zillion pictures. Father Gordon says that editing counts for visiting those in prison. Never an easier visit.

At the very end of the day, some 18 hours later, when I got back to the rectory, I noticed the top picture of this post which came in an envelope from Father Gordon along with his post for next week. Hahaha. This is, of course, what Father Gordon thinks of all my carry on about our intelligence services. Hahaha. Of course, I laughed out loud because, of course, he’s spot on. But, I digress.

Yesterday, a comment came in for moderation which included this appraisal:

“One thing love about you is how much you love being a priest. In another era your affinity for “spies” might have made you a great underground Jesuit somewhere where it was illegal to be a Catholic priest.”

“Another era…” Hmm… Let’s continue on the “day off.”

About 7:00 AM Sassy the Subaru was put in gear for an easy downhill ride to northeast Atlanta. If you’re ever passing through northeast Georgia, I recommend taking Hwy 19 with its frighteningly tight curves. It’s Georgia’s answer to the Tail of the Dragon up from my parish. Anyway, I had to complete the purchase of some specialized tactical items that had been on back order for some months and the order some other items that needed the know-how of a supervisor to put it through. What happened next on my “day-off” at FBI Atlanta certainly raised my eyebrows. But that’s best put in another post…

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Counterintel Sunday: “Situational awareness already saved your life.”

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Duc in altum: Launch out to the heights above the depths! Since there are those who will be upset that I was out on a pontoon boat with a family of our parishioners up in Graham County, NC (coming up from Atlanta, GA) – since priests should never get a break – I should preface this by saying that my day started about 3:00 AM. After putting up some posts on the blog on Saint John Vianney and Our Lady of the Snows, it was time for Adoration with dozens of parishioners at 6:00 AM with silence, then rosary, mercy chaplet, Lauds, Confessions the whole time, Benediction. At 7:10 AM it was time to race up to Graham County for Adoration and Rosary and Confessions before Mass at 8:30 AM. Then race back to Andrews for Confessions and then Mass, followed by the social (with a Q and A on some apologetic questions), followed by Communion calls in the back mountains. It was only then, now already evening, that I raced back up to Graham County to finally get on the boat after some sixteen hours of non-stop apostolate.

But let’s back up to early Mass in Robbinsville. Mind you, this is not a place you go so as merely to pass through. It’s a purposed destination, that is, utterly off the beaten track. You have to have a reason to come, cycling, motorcycling, backpacking on the AT, kayaking or because you have a cabin, or… just because, which is always a good reason.

Sitting back in the confessional (with it’s massive window facing the church) with just a minute a two before Mass, I saw this fellow, my age, come in and take a seat. The very nano-second I saw him I thought to myself, “This guy’s CIA.” It sounds really weird, but it’s just a thing with me since forever, meaning, I don’t remember ever being wrong. (Of course, I wouldn’t know that, right?) Still, it’s kind of stunning to me that as far as I know, I’ve never been wrong with these kind of experiences. It’s always instantaneous.

At the end of Mass I mentioned the article in the bulletin on Joyce Kilmer, in which I had failed to explicitly mention the OSS, successor to Kilmer’s great example and immediate predecessor of the CIA. I apologized for not remembering the tri-letter designation but said it’s something like CSS, something to do with Strategic Services, and asked if anyone knew the original tri-letters. No one said anything.

Afterward, outside the church, the guy I was guessing was CIA and therefore who should know the answer came up and said that the letters were OSS. Ah yes, said I, Office of Strategic Services. He said he knew that because he had just now retired after 39 years in the CIA. Surely they had recruited him right out of high school. This guy just happened to come here for Mass. No family. No cabin. No A.T. No kayaking. Waaaaaay out of his way. Mind you, it’s all understandable. Right after retiring out you want a breather, a drive through the mountains, a break. It’s what I would do. So, there’s no there there. Just that I caught him out. Like clockwork. But I digress.

After arriving to the forest on the far side of the picture above in the pontoon, which was super relaxing, a good times memory, we putt-putted back to the cabin, about an hour round trip. A call was made to the neighbors, life long friends of my parishioners down in Atlanta who happened to have a cabin right next door. They had always been assigned to the same places in the military, and were both into the intel / surveillance thing.

The bagpipes came out. Amazing Grace and other pieces were squeezed out, echoing across the massive lake. Really loud. That was met with yelps of glee and appreciation by other lake dwellers far away with the quiet evening unbroken surface of the water permitting their voices to render thanksgiving at a distance. Then dinner.

The conversation of these ultra-super cultured people – leaving me entirely in the dust – roamed about the works of literary geniuses, military intel, rosary meditations, my own background[!].The intel guy kept coming back to my growing up in Minnesota and to various aspects of what kind of photographic memory I had, provably, since I was one year old. He was super interested in what I perceived to be the value of humint, the whys and wherefores. At one point the intel guy seemed to have had a sufficiency to make a decision. He locked eyes with me and kept hold of my eyes with his deadly serious though soft-spoken and each word accentuated and individuated tone of voice: “What is certain, I’m telling you this, what is certain is that your situational awareness has already saved your life. It has already saved your life. You are to continue with your situational awareness.”

I think his assertion immediately brought the conversation to what kind of dessert we would all like. Of course, I had no problem saying that I didn’t see a problem in sampling some of everything. Homemade cake, various kinds of ice-cream and deli toppings, the works. :-) Meanwhile, as you might imagine, the “already saved your life” comment came to mind. Maybe it’s just the way he said it: “already.”

Yesterday, from 3:00 AM until about mid-night, was absolutely pleasant. Refreshing. Perfect. Holy Mass at both churches. Adoration. The CIA guy: humble, happy guy. Racing about for Communion calls. The boat ride. The scrumptious dinner. The leave-me-in-the-dust conversation with the intel guy. The desserts. The super peaceful drive back through the mountain passes. The greeting back at the rectory by the puppies, Laudie-dog and Shadow-dog. But then the comment: “Your situational awareness has already saved your life. You are to continue with your situational awareness.”

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Our Lady of the Snows edition)

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Back in the day, when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes, France, I took this picture with my el-cheapo digital camera. It was February, the first day following weeks of 24/7 sub-freezing temps with ice and snow precipitating down on the pilgrims daily. As you can see, the ice and snow are no match for the gentlest of petals when it is time to give due honor to the Immaculate Conception at the grotto. Here’s a view from above the grotto, and, yes, this is also a color picture. It was just that dark and dreary and ferociously cold for weeks:

lourdes-grotto-ice-snow

Meanwhile, in the brutally hot August of Rome it snowed exactly where the Basilica in honor of Jesus’ good mom was to be built, and only there, you know, when tender snowflakes had something to do with water and temperature.

Today I am thinking about Saint John Paul II, how he used the phrase “co-redemptrix” dozens of times, I think 29 times. This title for our Lady refers simply to how appropriate it was in justice that one of us who is not divine should ask for such graces perfectly, graces coming directly from her Divine Son. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for being a good mother to us. Continue to show yourself a mother to us!

Monstra te esse matrem!

GENESIS THESIS GEORGE DAVID BYERS

IVE GENESIS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONFERENCE 7 FEBRUARY 2013

Perhaps this theme of co-redemptrix is the key to my making a popular version of the thesis, finally. My hope is that this would bring some light to the darkness, including my own dark little life. The glory of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception entering this world to grab us and bring us to heaven fires me up, enough, methinks, to melt the ice and snow, enough, methinks, to finally start writing.

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For St John Vianney it’s all about Jesus

cure dars chapel john baptist

What’s that I hear? There are… are… are controverted issi-oos somewhere inside oneself, somewhere in the world, somewhere in the Church? Oh. That’s new. What a surprise.

Breathless argumentation which condemns all others to hell, all as heretics, all with simple emotional assertions on their own or simple emotional assertions shrouded lightly with – Oooo! – lots of verbiage…. all this breathless argumentation always and every time seems to forget entirely about Jesus. It is in this way that doctrine turns into ideology, meaning that it’s all about oneself asserting an assertion, any assertion, and whether right or wrong (that’s irrelevant as essentially important premises to the argument bite the dust and not essentially important premises are introduced as being totally decisive, ripping words and phrases out of context, which is pretext), it’s: “I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m justified; you’re not. I’ve condemned everyone to hell as a heretic and so that includes you too.”

The great thing about St John Vianney, as with any other saint, is that, for him, Jesus was of paramount importance, and more than merely paramount; for Father Vianney, Jesus was and is all important. It’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only one. So, for him, it was all about him saying: “Father, please hear my confession.” And then he would hear confessions, confessions, confessions, confessions.

By the way, that picture up top is the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the one who lost his head for a dance. Father Vianney literally knocked out the side of his parish church to build this side chapel to combat the brood of vipers in his mountain village.

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Joyce Kilmer’s Trees Sheet Music 1922

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Bonus: Joyce Kilmer Centennial Memorial 30 July 2018 at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: Listen up, CIA! Dedicatio par aevum Heroic history: Joyce Kilmer Centennial

 

 

 

 

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (“New” day lilies edition)

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These were donated from the neighbor across the street. Very healthy even after transplanting. Right next to the statue of Mary, Jesus’ good mom. I always but always notice the Star of David, the three petals overlapping the three petals. And then, with the yellow color and all, I recall what I always carry with me:

jewish yellow star jude

Don’t think this is morbid or only something dark and depressing. Instead, I also always carry this hope, as should we all:

star of david

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Lost in paradise

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The directions I received to go do a house blessings were: “You know, we’re up 143, like, you know, Snow Bird.” I will find it. Meanwhile, on my first attempt, going the length of 143 and Snow Bird, I stopped at this waterfall to share with you some of the screamingly beautiful beauty of my parish. If you follow the water up the picture you’ll come almost to the top of the ridge. I don’t mind getting lost in paradise. It’s an occasion to sing:

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.

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