Always Advocating Alan – A Very Sad Week, Indeed

| Opinion | June 4, 2020

Watching the riots, with American cities being looted and buildings burning, has been very difficult for me to tolerate. How anyone involved thinks they are getting their message across is beyond me. Yet, how often have you heard someone say, “If only you could walk a mile in my shoes, you’d understand what I am faced with”?

Well, for me, I am not a member of a racial minority and I have no intention of pretending to be something I am not. But it does not mean I do not understand more than you might think. My children’s godparents were a wonderful black couple. Alice was a nurse who worked with Pam, and Jess owned a small trucking company. It was over 50 years ago when we invited them to our home for the first time. We were surprised, when after they accepted, they asked, “Is it OK for us to be in your neighborhood?” The question made us very much aware of the prejudicial challenges they had faced in the past. Later, when we extended additional invitations, we were glad they never had to ask that question again.

But, I also know firsthand what it is like to feel the sting of discrimination. As a member of a religious group which is a minority in our country, anti-Semitism is something I have known all too well. In a Signal column released on May 1, Josh Heath asked me to imagine I was born in 1900, and his request very much hit home. As it turns out, my great grandparents, (on my mother’s side of our family), immigrated to America from what is now Poland a short time before the turn of the 20th century, and my Grandmother immigrated right after 1900. By the time I was born in 1942, all of my relatives who had stayed behind in Europe were dead. Their demise was not something I had to imagine, but something which occurred as a result of a bigoted group of individuals in Nazi Germany. If anyone believes it is not something which has weighed heavily on me throughout my lifetime, or that religious discrimination has not continued in the United States, you are not thinking clearly. Even though I often consider how discriminatory practices might affect my family, I continue to choose to not be a victim. Fortunately, racial and religious discrimination has been declining over the years, and I expect the decline to continue in the future.

It is not that I am unaware of what happened in the past or who was responsible. But, the actions of Hitler and his Storm Troopers’ final solution, the refusal of the United States to accept Jews attempting to flee Nazi Germany in the ‘30s, the rise of the Nazi American Bund, and other ethnic cleansing going on in Europe left me asking this question: How could the local population have allowed it to happen? So, while I might show anger at those who were involved in supporting Nazi activities during the mid-twentieth century, I hold no animosity toward Germany’s current children and grandchildren, because they were not alive and not involved. I have always accepted the friendship of individuals, not based on color, religion, or national origin, but on “the content of their character.”

I hope you are starting to see the parallel of my story to slavery and racial discrimination in America. No living American has owned slaves. With the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln in 1863, a person would have to be over 150 years old to have been involved in such a hideous practice. I therefore also find it highly offensive when some individuals attempt to stir the pot by blaming all white people for slavery to have taken place. While at the same time, I believe we should call out individuals who discriminate based on race, religion, or national heritage, no matter what color they are.

From the first time I viewed the video of Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck, I was appalled – and my opinion has not changed. Officer Chauvin used excessive force and he should face the consequences. Then, almost right afterwards, I was pleased to hear that elected officials, as well as other police officers, police officials, and the public coming together wanted justice to be served. Reflecting on my own impression of the incident, I realized I had not conceptualized a white police officer and a black man; I saw an evil cop who had used excessive force and needlessly killed a man handcuffed while on the ground. I started thinking that maybe this time the country had arrived to a point where we would be able to go beyond race, and instead seek justice just because it was the right thing to do. I remember turning and saying to Pam, “I’m betting this is not the first, or the only, time this guy has used excessive force while making an arrest,” and Pam responded by saying “Yep, he looks like he is enjoying himself.”

But, then the media got hold of the story, and the topic of race was front and center. We heard from the normal cast of characters who intended to do nothing more but increase racial tensions and stir the pot. I expected demonstrations would occur. Mr. Floyd’s arrest ended as a tragedy and there are many questions yet to be answered. It turns out Officer Chauvin had 18 previous complaints. What are the details of each one, and if the complaints were serious, what was done about them? We have been told one complaint was submitted to Amy Klobuchar when she was the Hennepin County Attorney, but she made a decision not to pursue the case. Can anyone explain what happened? It has also been reported, on an internet site, both Floyd and Chauvin were working security at the same restaurant. If they knew each other, is it possible they had a conflict or disagreement which caused Chauvin to do what he did? Is the practice of an officer using his knee on a suspects neck an accepted Minneapolis Police department restraining technique? Will the method remain approved for future use or will it be outlawed? Did any of the other three officers on the scene do anything, in an effort, to have Chauvin release the tension on Floyd’s neck? As I said, there are a great many questions, and we will just have to wait for the trial to learn the answers.

At the same time, we have not been witnessing peaceful protests; we have been watching riots, people being hurt and killed, looting, and the destruction of public and private property. It is sad to see individuals losing their life savings and their dreams as people break windows and steal from stores. All while the police look on and do little to stop it. Yes, these are the guys and gals who wear the badges, carry the guns, and have the responsibly to “Protect and Serve” the public. Yet, when the going got tough, they stood still and did little to nothing to stop the carnage. Possibly, they were doing what they are told. So, I can only hope our Santa Clarita Sheriff’s department gets better direction and protects our community as they have always done in the past.

It also makes me very unhappy to see and hear individuals on the news using these riots as rationale to support their chosen cause. The media claims the rioters have the country’s attention, and I think they are right, but not in a good way. Mr. Floyd’s death is a tragedy, and it should have led us down a road of positive change and justice. But, I fear continued evenings of watching what anarchy looks like will eventually create a far more repressive response by the police, National Guard, and possibly the US Military.

My thoughts are, if you want to peacefully protest to get your message out, be very careful out there, because some are just looking to cause trouble, and if you happen to be in the wrong place when the trouble starts, you may end up suffering the consequences along with those who truly deserve it.

Memorial Day Reflection

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

Upon observing Memorial Day earlier this week, I decided to pen this article. We all know that Memorial Day has a long history. It is devoted to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. According to U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, about 25 places in the United States assert that this holiday started after the American Civil War. Though still somewhat controversial, the small city of Waterloo in New York has federal approval to be named as the first place to celebrate this holiday. It used to be known as “Decoration Day” for many decades and only in 1971 became a federal holiday.

Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer in the United States. When the world is not dealing with a pandemic, this day brings people together participating in parades, and visits to cemeteries to honor and mourn those who sacrificed their lives. There are many family get-togethers and one can smell the BBQ from backyards.

Memorial Day is a time of reflection. We are a free country because of the sacrifices made by these brave women and men. We at times forget, those who came back and how they are actually doing. Many of the veterans come back from the war zone injured – not only physically, but also psychologically. They have to deal with experiences which we can only imagine. They see casualties, experience life and death situations, that many civilians have no idea about. They come home with broken bones and many psychological issues, and can develop depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and illicit drug use disorders. Many times, they do not seek any help.

According to the National Council For Behaviorial Health, 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment, and there are approximately 730,000 men and women experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression. Less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment.

The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.

These are staggering numbers, and as a nation, we should make every attempt not to fail them. Measures should be taken at individual, community, state and federal levels. As an individual, we should be reaching out to veterans or their families to check on them. Invite them for dinners and social gatherings.
As a city and community, measures should to be taken to have VA satellite clinics for physical and psychological health care access. Low cost housing should be available for the veterans. Job training and veteran focused classes in community colleges and online universities should be provided to help them get ready and acclimate to civilian life, in order to earn jobs in well-paying professions. VA loan programs should be streamlined to make it less bureaucratic and more efficient. In medical schools, residents should be taught the “Armed Forces Culture” so that the cultural divide does not become a hindrance to provide good health care to the veterans.

Federal government should make sure that VA centers work smoothly and that the best and timely health care is provided. Every effort should be made to help their families, as well.

We are a proud nation and we should take care of those who have and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the county.

Wishing you all the best on Memorial Day!

Dr. Aakash Ahuja is a Board certified Psychiatrist and works for California State Prison in Lancaster. Dr. Ahuja lives in Santa Clarita with his wife and 2 children.

Where Did your Debt Problems Come From?

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

I was counseling someone the other day. He seemed shocked and confused as we sorted through all the credit card statements and added up how much he owed. $65,000! That’s how much the statements said he owed!

How can this be?  He said he remembered paying a lot of these debts off just a few years ago. When I asked him how it was possible for him to owe that much again, he replied: “Honestly, I don’t know.”

For the vast majority of people, their debt problems usually stem from a series of events or bad financial decisions.  It can be that a lot of people simply don’t keep track of what they charge on their credit cards. So they use their credit cards for everyday purchases without realizing how much debt they are accumulating.  Some use their credit cards for so-called “emergencies.”

The problem is that anything could pretty much qualify as an “emergency.” The “emergency” could be new furniture that they don’t even need, a new car or an unplanned family vacation. Months or years go by and before they realize it, their debts have skyrocketed beyond their ability to repay. And unless their income has increased over that period of time, it becomes a struggle to make the debt payments every month.

If you don’t have the extra cash laying around every month to make those increasing debt payments, it will only be a matter of time before you start defaulting. And from there it just gets worse and worse until one day you have a big financial emergency in your hands.

Some people even resort to borrowing from some credit cards just to pay other credit cards but quickly realize that this strategy doesn’t work and that they are only digging themselves a deeper financial hole with no way out.

The truth is that your debt problems didn’t just suddenly appear out of nowhere. Experience is often our best teacher. It would help to understand what past decisions led you to your present financial circumstances so that you can avoid making the same mistakes again.  This can be a good first step to solving your debt problems.

The late author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, said: “You may not be able to change your destination overnight but you can change your direction overnight.”  It’s never too late to make the change, and today is a good day to start.

Ray Bulaon has been a debt relief attorney for more than 20 years and has successfully helped more than 6,000 clients in getting out of debt. To request a free consultation, call his Valencia office at Toll-Free 866-477-7772. Due to virus situation, appointments are available via phone or video.

Always Advocating Alan – Celebrating Memorial Day 2020

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

Starting Memorial Day off as “the new temporary,” it was 6 a.m. when I was awoken by the alarm bark of my four-legged, white, floppy-eared, “cheese-aholic,” Baby dog. It was time for me to let her out for her morning romp in the grass. Then, she will want back in and will be looking for her morning cheese treat. I’d really like to know how she does it so precisely every morning. I check the clock, and her accuracy is within 10 minutes every day. I am sure it is the power of cheese.

This year, the coronavirus directives not only caused us to hunker down at home, but they have also made this a very different and unique Memorial Day. That, added to what is currently going on in my life, and we have a very busy day. With my mom “passing on to heaven” mid-march, Pam and I have been involved in emptying mom’s house, and I have been going through a seemly never ending amount of paperwork to get all her accounts and trust in order. One aspect which has amazed us is how much we have been surprised by what we have found. If you were to visit mom’s house while she still resided there, you would have noted a spotless and neat abode, where everything seemingly had a place. Yet in reality, mom appeared to have saved every scrap of paper she ever received, and did so by putting everything in plastic shopping bags and stuffing them in the back of closets, drawers and garage cabinets. But, rather than just relegating it all to the trash, I went through each package, and what I found was astounding.

Included in those packages was information I never would have thought might survive. I found the birth and death certificates of my biological father, Ernest Frank. I found pictures of him with my mother taken around 1940, their marriage certificate, and his Army discharge paperwork. My father served in the Army during World War II from 1943 through late 1945. His military travels took him to England, across France, to Belgium, and finally to Germany before returning home. He was truly one of the Greatest Generation, selflessly giving of himself for the service of the world and our country. When I consider his exploits, it becomes even more real, and sends a chill down my spine, as I hold the dog tags he wore throughout his service. Ernest passed away in 1948, 3,000 miles east in New York, and I had no idea where his final resting place was. Yet what came as an even bigger surprise was finding correspondence and contracts with the cemetery detailing exactly where he is buried. Armed with this information, I got online and was able to view his gravesite, along with my grandparents, uncles and their wives. I would hope under normal situations, on this special day, my dad would have a flag placed by his headstone to commemorate his service to the nation. It is something I need to make happen next year.

But that was just the start. I also found the military information of my adoptive father, Ben Ferdman. His World War II service was in the Navy, stationed on the USS Deneboloa (AD12), a Destroyer Tender in the Atlantic. One thing I came to realize about the Greatest Generation was that they did not volunteer very much information about their service during the war. I had previously became aware my uncle Paul Feldman (why they have different last names is another story) had served in the Army Air Corps as a Navigation Instructor and spent the war in Texas training B29 Navigators. After the war ended, his love of flying remained with him as became a private recreational pilot. What I did not know, was he received his initial flight training in the Army. An album, including pictures of him in the cockpit of an AT6, was also one of the items I found. When looking through the pages, I recognized his older brother Ken Feldman (who later changed his name to Ferdin), an Army Sergeant serving in the Pacific. Our Greatest Generation was a group of brave patriotic Americans, with many families seeing all their sons go off to war. Memorial Day is a time in which they should be recognized for their service.

For reasons beyond my control, I never considered joining the military. When I reached the age of 18, I signed up for my draft card, and three years later after my marriage to Pam and birth of our first son, I was reclassified 3A. My full-time employment started at Litton Guidance in 1961 as a test technician, and the first product I worked on was an LN-12 Inertial Navigation System, used on McDonnell F4 Phantoms. Coincidently, 46 years later, the last person I worked for before my retirement had been a Marine pilot in Vietnam who flew F4’s. As the 1960s were coming to a close and transitioning into the 1970s, Vietnam was getting a lot of my company’s attention. By this time I was a software engineer, but would still frequently visit the Overhaul and Repair (O&R) area where A6 Intruder Center Pedestals were often received for refurbishment with bullet holes in them. The brutality of Combat became more vivid not knowing what happened to the navigators, as the Center Pedestal was located between their legs.

After Vietnam was in the history books, and the Vietnam Memorial Wall was built, the Rolling Thunder ride to Washington, D.C. was established in support of our Vietnam veterans. I wanted to support the vets and make the trip to see the wall. So, in 2006 with Pam in my Harley passenger seat, accompanied by a George, a Korea war vet, and Gene, a Vietnam vet, we left Orange Country with 400 riders going the southern route and 400 riders on the central route, headed on a 10-day trip to Washington, D.C. Our group chose to ride the central route, and as soon as the coast and Las Vegas were in the rear view mirror, the world seemed to change. We traveled through towns and cities where residents lined the street waving American flags to cheer us on. We witnessed the dedication of a new Vietnam memorial in New Mexico and stopped to attend the Navajo Nation honoring their service members. Then, after ending up at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C., we noted how emotional it was for those who had a comrade with their name engraved.

Therefore, while the official rationale for Memorial Day is to honor those who lost their lives in service to our country, I feel it is equally important to remember and comfort those who witnessed a comrade fall in combat. They may have been fortunate to make it home, but the emotional scars will be with them for a lifetime.

This year, due to the coronavirus, the Rolling Thunder Washington D.C. Ride and Parade has been cancelled. On Friday, I saw a television announcement by the Rolling Thunder promoters suggesting individuals ride 22 miles on Memorial Day and post their activity on the net. Symbolically, the 22 miles is in support of acknowledging the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, and honoring those who served. So this morning, Joe Lozano (Marine), his wife Elisabeth, Nick (A veteran and member of the VFW and American Legion), and I did the ride and posted pictures supporting Mission 22 – an organization “United in the War against Veterans Suicide.”

So even if this Memorial Day is not like the ones you have celebrated in the past, remember those brave Americans who have protected your freedom. Make sure to proudly fly your American flag and thank our military members for their service.

But most of all, pray for America. May it always remain the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”

‘Follow the Science’ and Stop Abortions!

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

by Gary Curtis

I recently wrote an open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom to express my dismay that his executive orders have considered liquor stores, pot shops and abortion clinics as “essential” businesses, open to dispense their services at will, but churches are still ordered to remain closed.

Newsom, of course, is not the only governor to take this bewildering position. Many bow to the god of “science and data” and lock down the economy, close schools, deny religious people their “free exercise thereof,” along with forcing young and old to “self-quarantine” in their homes for months at a time–all in the name of hopefully “saving lives.”

The spreading Chinese-born epidemic became a global pandemic and is on the verge, in some U.S. cities and states, of causing public pandemonium.

If these governors and health dictators really wanted to save lives and “follow the science,” they would also want to ban abortion. Instead, they conveniently cherry-pick the contexts in which science and data should be used to save lives.

Brittany Clingen Carl, vice president of Illinois Right to Life, has written about this at thefederalist.com. “Scientific and technologic advancements in the fields of embryology and neonatology have made clear to laypeople what pro-life leaders have been saying for decades: A fertilized egg, complete with its unique and distinct set of DNA from the moment of conception, is a human being…and just as deserving of rights, protection, and care as any person fighting for his or her life in a COVID-19 hospital ward.”

Every day, governors stand at a podium and call on their home-bound constituents to cooperate with their edicts and make tremendous sacrifices to protect human lives. Yet the majority sign legislation to allow and encourage the daily killing of hundreds of innocent, pre-born children in their states via abortion.

Not only is abortion a moral tragedy but it is a strategic tragedy, as well. These anti-life politicians and adherents have, by now, short-circuited tens of millions of potential citizens, voters and taxpayers, who could have productively replaced the aging “surplus population,” to borrow a phrase from Scrooge.

Those who tout “science and data” as our way out of this novel-coronavirus crisis and those who share this life-ending, political ideology are, as Brittany Carl says, “complicit in ending more lives than COVID-19 ever will.”

It’s All About Your Perspective!

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat! I recently read this in a social media posting and thought, what a brilliant metaphor for perspective. For some in our community, this pandemic is a mere inconvenience, while occupying an estate room on a cruise ship. For others, it’s life threatening, while bobbing around in a lifeboat short on preservers. Some businesses have thrived, their unique offerings in constant demand. Other businesses have temporarily shuttered, contemplating closure or bankruptcy, because they depend on customer throughput. You see, we’re in different boats riding out the same storm.

Public health officials advocate isolation, social distancing, slow societal reopening and this appeals to many in our community. On the other hand, business owners advocate opening now, keeping the community informed and allowing individual good judgment to replace government directives. One perspective is we have to preserve life by doing all we can to contain the virus through social distancing and self-isolation. The other perspective is we have to preserve our livelihoods and learn how to live with the virus, otherwise the economic toll will create far greater loss of life than becoming infected by the virus. Both perspectives are valid. Both perspectives honor the value of life. Both perspectives have to be addressed by our elected leaders.

Perspective, the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful way, is a discipline practiced by successful leaders. Three hundred and sixty-degree perspective is what we try to achieve, in other words, perfect knowledge. Whether we are developing business intelligence for the capture of a large opportunity, or gaining insight to customer needs, or finding the right motivational button to push inspiring an under-performing employee, or balancing strict social distancing controls with day-to-day economic generation, we seek to broaden our perspective by hunting all the relevant data that minimizes risks and optimizes outcomes.

That’s where we are today. Public health officials streaming over thousands of COVID-19 deaths, looking at the various nuances and threats posed by the virus, then modeling infection and mortality rates based on our approach to minimize exposure before a vaccine is in place. Concurrently, economists are streaming over hundreds of leading and lagging indicators, then modeling outcomes based on our approach to reopening businesses and the public’s reaction and adherence to social distancing. Different perspectives. Different boats. Same storm.

If we want to add depth to our leadership ability, expand our perspective and watch our followership grow. We expand our perspective by actively listening, seeking to understand, and practicing empathy to those we engage with who hold different perspectives. Gaining perspective is only limited by time and our desire. Impediments to seeking others’ perspectives lie within each of us, hidden in our implicit biases and lack of will. We all have attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions, in an unconscious manner. We unknowingly act them out in the workplace, family, or social settings. These implicit biases formed during our life’s journey, undoubtedly limit our perspective.

The second impediment, lack of will, is a hard nut to crack. This starts with our shallow listening, task-at-hand disengagement, or confrontation avoidance. For example, we often join meetings where one or more attendees are so anxious to offer their solution at the expense of listening to their teammates; or are so enamored with their electronic devices they don’t remain engaged on the task-at-hand; or instead of engaging another they fire off an email or text to avoid what they perceive could be a confrontation. When we do these things, we lack the will to effectively communicate, missing important and relevant information that may lead to an optimum solution.
So, what’s your perspective? Are you riding out the storm in a cruise ship leveraging the opportunities at hand, or are you in a lifeboat, taking on water, desperately trying to stay afloat? If the former, do you have a plan to exploit your opportunities and continue to thrive in the new normal? If you are the latter, do you have a plan to stay afloat through the multiple phases of the gradual business reopening gates, then thriving in the new normal? Do you guard against your implicit biases and have the will to broaden your perspective by seeking out others’? We’re all riding out this storm, but not in the same boat. Be a leader, guard against your implicit biases, demonstrate the will to broaden your perspective, thus minimizing risk and optimizing outcomes. That’s how we lead, think, plan and act our way through this pandemic. Now, let’s get after it!

It’s Time for Everyone to Man Up

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

In a male-dominated society, we would not have closed our economy in response to Coronavirus; and if closed, such society would open once treatment was manageable. We are a female-dominated society.

Generalizations are truths that apply to most people. They are not disparagements of people who differ.

Most women are not like Nancy Pelosi. They are subtle. Men know the truth of the sayings “Happy wife – happy life,” “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” and “Behind every man is a woman.” Men recognize that women fall in love easier women are more emotional. Women remember personal events better. Their capacity to love is rivaled by their capacity to hate. Men are reluctant to discuss, explore and expand emotional responses to issues and instead focus on resolving problems. They are constantly battered by women for failures in demonstrating emotions, caring, and understanding.

Men are bigger, stronger, and more interested in sports and physical adventure. But acting on this fact is discrimination. Thus, we often have equal funding for women’s sports and quotas in the military and law enforcement. Transgender individuals are now dominating some women’s sports.

Our media and entertainment promote the notion that we live in a male-dominated society. That we discriminate against women in employment, education, wages, and politics. NBC ads claim women make better Congressmen. Women are urged to favor other women. Employers are urged to hire women in percentage reflective of their population even if they are only a small percentage of job applicants. The same advocacy for men would be labeled sexist and discriminatory.

In the workplace women are free to exercise or restrain their femininity while men are left in a state of confusion.

News is reported with feminist bias. When discussing President Trump’s approval rating, they refer to lack of support among women. However, it could be said that his approval among men is 19 percent more than women.

Men have adopted feminist positions. Men want to please women. They want to protect women. Male leaders expressing fear and concern for women’s safety win over other men.

In January while Dr. Fauci and the UN claimed the virus and Chinese travel was not a threat to America, our President halted flights from China.

Trump likes helping people yet is fiercely independent in making decisions. When experts provided frightening Coronavirus scenarios, he was herded into the feminist approach of accepting closure of our economy.

The experts were wrong. But instead of urging reopening they embraced claims inducing more fear while suppressing reports contradicting their claims.

People sitting at home are bothered by the numerous contradictions – inaccurate virus predictions causing the closure; big stores open – small businesses closed; massive claim of shortage of ventilators and hospital beds followed by overabundance; the need to protect infirm seniors and the mandate that their housing be shared by infected; requirement of social distancing followed by hotel housing of homeless, prison releases of major criminals followed by imprisonment of violators of restrictions; and the latest – continued prohibition of restaurant seating after latest CDC report that surface contamination is not dangerous.

Men are following instincts. Women are realizing continued closure is a mistake. The president advocates quick reopening. Democrat Governors representing states that failed in handling the virus and recovery seek continued closure. The press promotes hate of Trump and continued fear. Protests are happening despite the threat of imprisonment. People are seeing things as they really are.

Maybe more women will realize that the factors leading more men to support Trump are good for our society and should be embraced.

The Great Tonsorial Rebellion

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

Sir Joseph Porter KCB (Ruler of the Queen’s Navy who never set foot on a ship at sea) “the principle that a British sailor is any man’s equal, excepting mine.” H.M.S. Pinafore


“A British tar is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird, His energetic fist should be ready to resist a dictatorial word … He never should bow down to a domineering frown, or the tang of a tyrant tongue.  His foot should stamp, and his throat should growl, His hair should twirl, and his face should scowl; His eyes should flash, and his breast protrude, and this should be his customary attitude – (pose).” H.M.S. Pinafore.

I found myself thinking about the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore, but with the role of Sir Joseph Porter KCB being played by our elected leftist leadership who never had to make a payroll in the real world. With continued repressive and economy-killing restrictions being placed on the soaring souls of our valiant entrepreneurs, they proclaim us all being equal while playing the role of a tyrant as they eviscerate the constitution. All their constituents are any man’s equal, excepting theirs of course. For them, the rules do not seem to apply. For them, the pay checks keep coming as most of the people suffer. The great skill of entrepreneurs is that they have spent a lifetime of findings ways to take things as they are and make their dream work. The Sir Joseph Porters may dictate their vision but lack the wisdom and skill sets to build a solution.

The dictates of today’s blue state governors and mayor Sir Joseph Porters have more to do with exerting power than the welfare of (all of us) the sailors under their supervision. Just a few examples; Walk on wet sand only. Liquor stores, marijuana stores, fetus killing facilities open. Churches, 12-step clubs, hospital services other than COVID treatment, open water sports in the virus-killing sun and singing are banned. Big box stores open, small entrepreneur stores shut down. They are showing disdain for the individual while enforcing deference to the collective.

Today’s foot-stomping, throat-growling, hair-twirling, face-scowling, eye-flashing, breast-protruding entrepreneurs who are full of attitude are our brave barbers and hair stylists. In times past you could see them on the docks of Boston dumping British tea overboard. They are willing to fight for a chance to find a solution to deal with the dark cloud of COVID-19. They know that it is to their advantage to create a safe work environment which will protect their customers and their employees. They see that government either cannot or will not, so they are beginning to engage in principled passive resistance. They are opening shops and are willing to face the consequences of the tyrant’s edicts.

Dear readers, the inconvenient truth is that life and existence itself is not safe. Most serious accidents happen in the home, usually in the bathroom. What makes humanity great is they can face it straight on and make things better. Sheltering in place for an unspecified period time only delays the inevitable moment of truth. It likely causes more problems than it protects us. For some unknown reason there is a refusal to collect the type of information that can better inform our elected officials and our so-called experts to better shape public policy.

Future historians from Harvard will refer to 2020 as “The Great Tonsorial Rebellion” motivated by class warfare and not a desire for freedom and independence. I pray that we will have the type of America that Harvard hates.

Notes From an Extreme Centrist – How Does it Feel to Not Matter?

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

I’m 73, retired and I vote in New York. Now that the White House is in full campaign mode, I don’t matter – and unless you live in a battleground state, neither do you. Your health doesn’t matter. Your economic situation doesn’t matter. Your vote doesn’t matter. If you live in PA, OH, MI, WI or FL, your vote matters a great deal, and if you live in CO, AZ or NV it also matters, but not nearly as much; at least not to your president.

From the instant, the words pandemic and COVID became words we all understood, way back in January, that our president has viewed the approaching storm through the lens of politics and his reelection. That is how this president rolls. Everything is about him and his self-interest. Always! That describes his entire adult life, possibly from the moment he became sentient. That explains his early predictions that somehow the virus would magically disappear. Happy-talk is good for the Dow and that’s good for voter confidence.

As the deaths mounted, however, President Trump had to acknowledge the health crisis and pretend that public health mattered to him, and it did, or at least the perception that public health mattered. So we had task forces, Drs. Fauci and Birx and Trump himself touting the possible promise of make-believe cures and treatments. Because his concern wasn’t sincere, however, and there is almost no filter between his brain and his mouth, his messaging and policies were mixed, erratic, sloppy and counterproductive as they impacted public health and the economy.

Guidelines were released that Trump himself ignored. The same day his guidelines were released for opening a state’s economy he tweeted “Liberate Michigan!” despite the fact that MI was nowhere near achieving his own guidelines for relaxing the state’s shelter-in-place protocols. In his breathless haste to pressure an end to all restrictions, in his refusal to set an example to follow his own guidelines as they relate to wearing a mask and social distancing he accomplishes two perverse things. He lends legitimacy to the idiots who equate refusing to wear a mask with liberty, and he announces louder than any words can that the health and safety of vulnerable populations – folks like me – don’t matter. Wearing a mask, Mr. President, isn’t to protect you. It is to protect me!

The year 2016 taught us the hazards of political predictions and the limitations of polls. It is worth noting, however, that Trump is losing support among two demographics that were critical to his election; seniors and those who dislike both candidates. Last time around, they voted for Trump. Now, according to most polls, they are trending toward Biden. The other crucial demographic is GOP-leaning suburban voters, especially women. If you count yourself among these groups, however, you only really matter if you live in one of those battleground states.

I think Trump is making an enormous gamble. He is gambling that the second wave of COVID in the fall isn’t catastrophic, where all of us know someone who contracted a serious case and/or died from the disease. That’s what turned our response to AIDS around. That’s what made gay marriage a political non-issue. Responsible public health policy is also essential for real economic recovery. Yes, we must open up the economy, but doing it responsibly requires consistency, honesty and setting a good example from our leaders, especially the president. The economy won’t be back by November. If the death numbers skyrocket, Trump will be a one-term president.

Truth Derangement Syndrome and China

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

If slavery still existed in North Carolina, that state would be boycotted, and forced to change.  So why do some have no problem with expanding their own disposable incomes by exploiting modern slaves in China?

These same people call for boycotting Israel, the only democratic entity in their region, but not communist China.  The communistic Left here label themselves “democratic” socialists, because it sounds gentler while masking its totalitarian roots, while they give China a pass to brutalize and enslave their own citizens.  If you haven’t heard about China’s citizens being sentenced to slave labor camps, blame your democratic socialist media.

China’s slaves are forced to make much of the stuff we buy, due to belonging to religious or political minorities ruled by a God-hating regime. But if they were enslaved for being a racial minority, would there then, finally, be calls for boycotting?  One would hope so, but evidently communism lovers don’t consider being simply human as deserving God-given rights.

Brian Suits points out there’s more Chinese government agents stationed in California (aerospace and silicon valley) than there are FBI agents here to root them out.  Computer chips in our jet fighters are made in China.  What if they have a built-in backdoor?  China produces a vast amount of our pharmaceuticals and other necessities.  We need to start producing essentials we need in case supplies are cut off, or fail.

Christians in China are sentenced to labor camps simply for following their faith.  They help make low priced goods that stretch our paychecks.  China is also experimenting with, and planning for biological/germ warfare.  They secretly and illegally pay our university research staffs for their tech and chemistry research.  The leftist media doesn’t report all the arrests. This subterfuge has another name: treachery.

Before WWII, we sold another totalitarian state our metal and oil, the means of production of their war machine.  But China makes no attempt to hide their main target. Do we want to look down, like Aesop’s eagle, to see the arrow that killed us is feathered with our own plume?
China’s Marxist government considers Christianity an enemy, and has no problem “harvesting” their prisoner’s organs for sale.  Evidently it’s easy to get “so-called” Americans to look the other way – as evidenced by China’s partners like Google, and the NBA.  If China’s slaves were a group the NBA identified with, wouldn’t they boycott in outrage?  Which means they don’t see China’s slaves as being equally human.  Welcome to the one, shared, fallen human race, the broken family of man.  Those you don’t forgive you can become like.  Fortunately there is a redeemer, and He lives.

Compromising with slavery now may be as dangerous as it was during our Constitution’s ratification. Burying our heads in the sand will have predictable results, as doing so at our country’s founding resulted down the road in the War Between the States, our bloodiest war.  That war might have been prevented if we hadn’t put slavery on the back burner.  As Paul Simon sings, “silence like a cancer grows.”

North Carolina was boycotted by the NBA and the Left for not allowing biological males to use restrooms reserved for the privacy and protection of their daughters. Yet the Left send their daughters to colleges the Left claim to be rape centers.  Why would they do that?  Because they have Truth Derangement Syndrome.  It also causes them to remain blind to the torture and enslavement of China’s citizens, while producing a substitute theology needing ever more cheap goods to fill a God-shaped hole that can’t be filled that way.

As for the Church in America, we are to be known by our love for each other, particularly widows, orphans and prisoners of faith. So, what’s its excuse for ignoring their so-called family?

It’s Those Blasted Incessant Drums!

| Opinion | May 28, 2020

by Dale Paule

That was the frightened line, blurted out by an unnerved member of the safari trapped deep in the jungle, and surrounded by hostile natives as the relentless sound of drums pounded out its never-ending message of impending doom for the hapless group.

It was an effective gimmick, and pretty soon, even the movie’s audience was feeling trapped. Fortunately, those “Hollywood Impending doom” scenarios lasted only ninety minutes or so, then the day would suddenly be saved, and fear was replaced by the predictable “happy ending” fade to black.

It’s strange how often life imitates art. Take the case of that trapped safari plot for instance. Of course the movie version is just fiction, meant only to entertain. But, instead of the constant pounding of “jungle drums,” what if you were constantly bombarded by the “pounding” and catastrophic attacks of “bombshell drums,” one after another, from your radio, newspaper, or TV? Is it possible that after a while, you could likely succumb to that same feeling of being “trapped,” “surrounded,” and eventually even “defeated?
“Say anything, no matter how ridiculous, over and over enough times, and eventually, it will be accepted as fact!”

That isn’t just some catchy phrase; it’s a proven tactic, designed to demoralize those who allow themselves to be surrounded by it. It’s just human nature and our sense of curiosity to question the validity of things we’re being told, and not to just automatically accept it as a fact because it’s being “drummed’ into you. You’d think that would trigger our basic instinct to question why so many different versions are belched out from the numerous “news” sources each time one of these “bombshells” explode.

But, unfortunately, those who are too busy working, raising a family, or perhaps those who only occasionally listen, watch or read about what’s going on around them are especially prime targets for these drums!

But there may be a touch of irony accompanying the drums’ attempt to suppress and control our instinct to question “facts,” and to use our common sense and voice.

By shutting everything down, eliminating the simple pleasures of going to the store of your choice, or to a movie, or even to church, they’ve created a side effect which may counteract their desired result of total control, and eventual ability, to change society into a more compliant herd; rather than the “unpredictable” and “freethinking people” we are so far!

Having so much more time to think and consider what’s happening suddenly seems to have re-ignited that sense of curiosity and freedom to question “authority.”

People are beginning to communicate their fears, frustrations, and yes, anger, at being put into a box, like a family pet, just before it’s taken to the vet to have it rendered safer and easier to control.

Memorial Day has just passed, and I for one would hate to have to explain, face to face, what we’re allowing to happen to us to any of those who lay forever beneath those little white markers in our military cemeteries. I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.

Summer is normally the time to go out, enjoy the weather, and here especially in California, the “Land of Milk and Honey,” to frolic in the sand and water of the blue Pacific. But this year, for the first time in 240 years, we’re allowing ourselves to be denied even these most basic of all “AMERICAN” rights, and told to stay in our box until the vet can “fix” our unruly and uncontrollable habits.

Well, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming holiday, that big one that says it all about what and who we are; it’s called, “Independence Day!”

It’s that special day when we proudly proclaim to the entire world that we are not ruled by little tin-pot dictators, or tyrants. No sir, we live in the “Land of the Free” and we are endowed with “certain inalienable rights,” among which, is the right to express those rights!

As long as we don’t leave that box!

Grey Days – Creating Memorable Moments in The Right Now

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

by Derra Grey

These are truly grey days. A surreal time in our lives as we move through a state of flux amidst this global pandemic where an invisible enemy has taken us hostage. We are faced with insurmountable fear and anxiety, while trying to make sense of the loss, mixed messages and uncertainties.

Our once busy lives and certain freedoms have come to a screeching halt. The undeniable fear of this unrelenting virus has us putting our trust into the guidelines imposed on us for our well-being. With these stay-at-home orders, comes an array of complicated and even devasting consequences. And as we actively try to find ways to adjust to this “new norm” all we can really count on is the right now.

When 18-year-old son came into the kitchen this morning before attending his online college classes, I had his iced coffee ready for him like I do every morning since we have been told to stay at home. Considering how pretty much everything we were accustomed to had changed, I began finding ways to help create a sense of normalcy. Knowing my son once looked forward to an iced coffee at Starbucks before going to his college classes, I started making him iced coffee each morning, and adding a dollop of whip cream on top for fun.

“I think this is going to be one of those things I will always remember,” he said, holding the cup of iced coffee and smiling at me.

I assumed he meant the pandemic. “It will be impossible to forget,” I said.

He smiled. “I meant you making me iced coffee every morning. It means a lot.”

Something as little as making iced coffee had made a difference to my son. This got me thinking about things we can do to help create memorable moments while helping to combat our feelings of loss, confinement, and even powerlessness during this unprecedented time:

  • Eat out. Pick up the food at your favorite local restaurant and have a picnic in the car, backyard or balcony.
  • Take trips to elderly family and friends and deliver necessities and homemade meals.
  • Spend time interacting with kids/teens; playing video games, board games, arts and crafts, walks, exercise, baking, talking, binge watching shows and movies.
  • Try doing Tik Tok dances with your kids. Guaranteed exercise, laughter and fun.
  • Learn things that interest you on YouTube. There are a multitude of videos that can show you how to do virtually anything.
  • Break out the photo albums and memorabilia.
  • Send things that can fit into an envelope and can easily be put into the outgoing mailbox. (Recently I sent my sister my favorite tea bags so we can facetime and enjoy the same cup of hot tea together.)
  • Have fun cooking, baking and trying new recipes.
  • Take time out to facetime, call, or text family and friends. It means a lot to have someone check in.
  • Validate feelings and thoughts and allow and encourage open discussions concerning them.

Whether we are living with others or alone, we can begin to live more consciously in the present. And through this uncharted time in our lives, however long it may last, may we embrace the right now, which is the one thing we can count on in this ever-changing world.

Ordinary Americans, Doing Extraordinary Things

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

Ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things; we have an obligation and duty to remember them!

It was a gorgeous Spring day. The smell of bacon, biscuits and coffee were in the morning air, men stirred, causing their equipment to clang. Commands were barked out. Soldiers, still tired from the long march the day before, were slowly assembling with their muskets and pistols and securing ball ammunition and powder.

The officers were huddled going over battle plans. Plans that were fairly straightforward…move to contact, hold key terrain at all costs, find and exploit the enemy’s seams, then close on the enemy and if ammunition runs out, fix bayonets, charge and engage in hand-to-hand combat to secure the day’s objectives. The sergeants were bucking their troops up, chanting familiar war cries and maneuvering them into position. Both the officers and sergeants knew what was coming but blocked the images from their minds. Images and sounds imprinted and lived over and over, again and again until that’s all they experienced whether asleep or awake. They felt deep down that this battle most likely was the turning point in the war.

Soldiers, anxious and uncertain of their fate, responded lethargically to their sergeant’s commands. Their minds drifted to family, friends and home, joys of past and dreams of future. They blocked out any thoughts about what was in front of them. Instead they eyed their battle buddies who served as their constellation of courage and pride…knowing that their life depended on the performance of those around them. The waiting was the hardest part. You could hear and see distant movement. You constantly looked for cover and did what you could to conceal yourself. Men often searched for and found God in moments like this. Asking why He had forsaken them, then surrendering to His will.

The cannons’ booms rang out, iron tubes spitting out round after round of canister shot. A relatively new and highly lethal ammunition that spewed hundreds of small lead and iron balls through the air ripping their intended human targets to shreds. Attrition warfare for the last hundreds of years was how battles were won…kill or maim more of the enemy than what the enemy could kill of you. This is what the officers and sergeants knew…that soon the green pasture would be littered with dead, bodies frozen in time, dreams crushed, and the horrific sounds and images of war imprinted on their memories, forever.

Memorial Day saw its beginnings shortly after the end of the Civil War. The war ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. History. About 5.5 million troops served in the Civil War, of which 620,000 countrymen perished on our Nation’s soil. Numbers so large, it’s hard for us to imagine such death today. Too often we lose site of the importance of this day. It’s dubbed the official start of the summer season by many. Memorial Day sales are constantly streamed in media weeks before and after this solemn day. For a soldier, airman, seaman, Marine, or coast guardsman, one of our greatest fears is dying for our country and being forgotten. A death, freely given to protect our country’s liberties and freedoms. Ordinary Americans, doing extraordinary things; we have an obligation and duty to remember them.

Kim Orlando was his name. He was my operations officer when I commanded the 16th Military Police Brigade, Airborne, the only paratrooper MP brigade in the Army. He enlisted in the Army as a military policeman in 1982 and was commissioned at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1986. He served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and thereafter rose quickly to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Kim was the best of the best and fortunate enough to be selected to lead the 716th Military Police Battalion out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, into battle in Iraq. The battalion comprised no fewer than 400 soldiers, and Kim made it a point to learn the name of each one. His soldiers and his family were paramount to Kim. When not on duty, he spent as much time as possible with his wife Sherry, and his two teenage sons, Gregory and Jason.

It happened on October 16, 2003. Kim was killed in Karbala, Iraq, while attempting to negotiate with armed men who were congregating on a road near a mosque after curfew. As a Military Police Battalion Commander, he understood the dangers of Military Operations in Urban Terrain. He knew where the most danger potentially would be on the night of October 16, and that was where he was. As ground forces often have to do, he was eyeball-to-eyeball with bad people, displaying the unrelenting determination and absolute resolve of the American Soldier and this country’s commitment to the Global War on Terrorism. The firefight was brutal and intense. As of that date, Kim had the distinction of being the highest-ranking Army officer killed in hostile fire in Iraq.

Lieutenant Colonel Kim Orlando was laid to rest where he had told his wife he always wanted to be buried…among the rows and rows of soldiers interred at the Veterans’ National Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. In typical 101st Airborne Division fashion, the Screaming Eagles pulled out all the plugs at his funeral to honor a great soldier, leader, husband and father of two. Comrades, just as I do, remembered Kim as never hesitating to lead his soldiers personally, upfront, whether on a five-mile run in below-freezing temperatures, jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft with troops in tow, or on patrols in the streets of Karbala. Kim, 43, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Kim truly was an ordinary American doing extraordinary things; we have an obligation and duty to remember him!

There are thousands of accounts such as these that cross the four centuries of wars our country has fought. We know the soldiers, airmen, seamen, marines, and coastguardsmen. They’re our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends…and fellow countrymen. These fallen warriors truly represent the demographics of our country…all races, all genders, all ethnicities, all religions, and all defenders of our nation and the democratic values our great republic stands for. We have an obligation and duty to remember the sacrifice these ordinary Americans made, doing extraordinary things. So when our nation’s flag is raised or taps is played, and we sing the National Anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance while rendering a salute or with palm over heart, we must remember those who gave their life in order to preserve ours while living in this great country, the United States of America. The price they paid in blood, spilled for our freedom must never, ever, be forgotten!

There is Light at the End of the Tunnel, and it is Ultraviolet

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

Some thoughts on mitigation of the COVID-19 virus:

More than 100 years ago, ultraviolet lamps were being developed for medical use because of the lights ability to kill viruses and bacteria. The discovery is credited to Niels Ryberg Finsen, a Danish physician. Over 55 years ago, I had a neighbor who was quite literally a rocket scientist at Rocketdyne in the North East San Fernando Valley. He had decided to build a swimming pool in his backyard. Instead of using chemicals to kill bacteria and viruses, he designed and built a device with clear glass tubes where the pool water would be exposed to intense ultraviolet light. His pool was always clear, healthy, and chemical-free.

There are already companies that manufacture ultraviolet light products for use in buildings and hospitals. There are portable room air purifiers that take advantage of both hepa filters and ultraviolet light. A simple device that amounts to little more than a squirrel cage fan blowing air over a ultraviolet source, installed in places where we closely gather – such as restaurants, and public transportation – properly designed and installed, could provide great mitigation in the spread of the virus. There are even lower power bulbs in a restricted bandwidth that provide no harm to humans who are being directly exposed as it kills bacteria and viruses. The technology to create safe spaces cheaply already exists. We must start using it. Then we can feel much better about opening the economy.

In dealing with the COVID-19 problem, we need to keep in mind human nature. Imagine two restaurants. One follows all the guidelines, masks, plexiglass barriers, social distancing, frequently cleaning etc. The other does the same but advertises that all air circulated in the restaurant has been filtered and made virus free because of their innovative use of ultraviolet light. Where would you prefer to go for dinner?

Many complain that everyone does not wear a proper mask. We are told to use some derivation of a surgical mask that prevents the wearer from spreading the disease. Medical workers get the N95 mask which protects the wearer from being exposed to the disease. If we want effective mitigation through mask usage, ask yourself which type of mask you would prefer wearing. One that restricts your spreading of the disease to others or wearing a mask that protects you from your disease-ridden friends and neighbors. Come on, who would not want the protective apparel? If we could not contract the disease when going about our business, the crisis would be over in no time.

On testing: The methodology they are using to justify the administration of a test does nothing to inform us about the extent it has infected our society. It is useful to attack hot spots and tracking the potentially infected, but does nothing to inform us of the disease’s extent and the kind of strategy we need to engage in to put on a effective fight. Just look at the continuous failures in the prediction models.

As soon as possible, we need to do truly random testing of statistically significant numbers. It seems clear at this time we will discover that as a percentage many are infected, few die and most are unaware that they even have contracted the disease.

(Danger, do not do this!) When I was young, parents often had infection parties where parents would intentionally expose their children to the chicken pox, measles, and mumps, so their children could heal easily and develop immunity. (Do not ever do it!) Sometimes nature suffers fools and finds a way.

Start Thinking of Bankruptcy Now as a Possible Option Later

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

by Ray Bulaon

The coronavirus has put a lot of strain on people’s ability to pay their debts. With a lot of employees getting laid off in massive numbers, they are staying at home to keep themselves and their families safe. In the meantime, however, the bills still continue and without any income, it is becoming increasingly difficult to catch up as their debts begin to snowball.

If you’ve lost your job and don’t know if you even have one to go back to, bankruptcy may be an option for you down the road. And although that may sound grim, it is the reality that everyone is now facing. For some, this may still be a big question mark and they are waiting to see what happens in the next few months. For others, it is the writing on the wall that cannot be ignored. The government and most banks have provided some kind of temporary relief. Most lenders have allowed suspension of payments for a few months on house, car and credit card payments. But be mindful that you will still need to make up the missed payments at some point. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

It is best that you start thinking defensively in terms of how you can protect your home, car, savings, retirement plans or other assets you have. Remember that you need to put yourself and your family FIRST. If you have limited income or just living off your savings at the moment, figure out the best way that you can survive while spending as little as possible. Go through your monthly expenses and figure out what you can cut out for now. Pay only essential bills, those that are necessary to keep a roof over your head, keep the lights on and to put food on the table. To some people, this is something new because they never had a monthly budget and never took the time to looking at their finances in detail. But we’re living in difficult financial times and if there was ever a time where you had to watch your expenses like a hawk, this is the time to do it.

If you can help it, do not touch your retirement money (example: IRA and 401K accounts). First of all, be aware of the tax consequences of cashing out your retirement plan by consulting with your tax professional. Secondly, people who think they may be headed towards bankruptcy soon try to spend their retirement money for fear that they may lose it later if they do end up filing bankruptcy. Wrong. 401K plans and IRA’s are actually exempt in bankruptcy and they cannot be touched for distribution to your creditors. This is just one common mistake that a lot of people make because they don’t take the time to consult with an attorney and try do things on their own. The moment you convert that retirement plan into cash, you may actually risk losing that money since the cash is no longer retirement money; it’s just cash in the bank.

Another mistake that people make is giving away property or selling them for cheap to family and friends in order to get cash or in many cases, just to get the property out of their name in anticipation of a potential bankruptcy filing. If you end up filing bankruptcy later, this could be deemed a fraudulent transfer and the bankruptcy trustee could end up suing that family member that you paid money or transferred property to.

One final word: If you think there’s a possibility of filing bankruptcy later if things don’t get better for few in the next few months, consult with a bankruptcy attorney before making any financial moves. You may not need to file bankruptcy at all or you may need to postpone it and only do it if necessary. But if it becomes unavoidable eventually, the best thing to do is to plan ahead and avoid doing things that could become a problem in your bankruptcy case later.

For a free evaluation of your case, please call our office at Toll-Free 1-866-477-7772 to schedule a free consultation. Let us help you.

Due to the virus lockdown, I am currently offering consultations via phone or video. Please call the office to schedule your appointment with me. Questions? Email me at [email protected]

(None of the information herein is intended to give legal advice for any specific situation. Atty. Ray Bulaon has successfully helped over 5,000 clients in getting out of debt. For a free attorney evaluation of your situation, call RJB Law Offices at toll free 1-866-477-7772.)

Kids: Let us Applaud These Unsung Heroes

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

Our society has been very thankful to the doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. Grocery store workers, friends helping with delivery of food and goods, truck drivers, first responders and many other groups have been instrumental – working day and night to make sure that some level of normalcy, whatever that means now, continues in the United States of America and across the world.

However, I’m writing this article to thank a very special group of people whose contribution cannot be overstated. This is the younger generation of our country – whether we are talking about preschoolers, elementary school kids, junior high or high schoolers. Their lives have been turned upside down, too. And yet they have not only thrived, but have supported the so-called “mature” family members to deal with this pandemic.

Kids are not able to go to school, not able to meet their friends, and are not having any traditional birthday celebrations. There are no more sleepovers with friends, and their whole school paradigm has changed. They have no clue when schools are going to open, or whether it will be online only.

There is no clarity about when baseball practice will resume, when the chess and sport tournaments will start, and when will they be able to play soccer or basketball with their friends.

The current class – which is going to graduate high school this year – is being impacted big time. I’m sure these kids, in all of their wildest dreams, wouldn’t have thought about their graduation ceremonies happening like this.

As adults, we have seen many ups and downs in our lives. We have gone through many obstacles and most of us have dealt with many challenges and hopefully have developed a maturity to deal with these situations.

Surprisingly, this younger generation, which is short on life experiences, has been doing everything fantastic not only for itself but for their parents and community.

They are teaching us how to be adaptable. They are doing a lot of things like online piano lessons, singing, dancing, Tai Kwon Do, chess and distance learning without prior experience in these activities and excelling in them.

They have amazed the community with their compassion. You can see a number of high schoolers helping out the elders in the community, buying groceries and checking on them to make sure that they are alright. They have impressed us with their modesty and benevolence. There are numerous examples of kids making and distributing facial masks, food and required items to the needy.

With their innocence, they have kept us adults quite entertained and motivated. They are adjusting to somewhat limited resources, and though many of the younger kids might not understand exactly what’s going on, they have fared better than even some adults.

A country’s future is in the hands of its younger generation, and I’m sure that the children dealing with this situation will come out stronger, more resilient and resourceful, with better entrepreneurship skills.

I hope they will be better humans and citizens than we were, and help to ensure an even brighter future for our country.

Thank you, younger generation!

Dr. Aakash Ahuja is a Board certified Psychiatrist and works for California State Prison in Lancaster. Dr. Ahuja lives in Santa Clarita with his wife and 2 children.

Always Advocating Alan – The Risks We Face Every Day

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

So, after another week of sheltering at home, I am again penning my weekly column. Prior to my first poke at the keyboard, I thought about how as a community, we have been subjected to 9 or 10 weeks of COVID-19 pandemic mitigation, and if you believe the experts, there is no end in sight.

At first, I understood we were facing a new threat. It is a new virus with an unusually long incubation period. Becoming infected appeared to be extremely dangerous, with a patient’s survival probability severely limited because there was no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine. Predictions of our impending doom included an outbreak which would overwhelm our health care system, and require medical hardware, such as masks, gloves, and ventilators, in a quantity exceeding all previous needs. Hospital ships were headed to New York and Los Angeles, and millions of federal government dollars was being spent setting up field hospitals around the country. In an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, travel to the suspected epidemic’s origin in China was halted. Next came the advice of the medical experts to take shelter at home in order to “flatten the curve” – whatever that meant. We learned what an N95 mask was used for and were also assured there was no need for the general public to wear one.

But now, over two months later, we are much better informed. As it turns out, not only was our health care system not overwhelmed, but the additional patient treatment capacity, provided by the federal government, went mostly unused. Hospitals had discontinued providing their regular services, which constituted the majority of their income, and are now laying off health care workers as their floors remain empty. We had more ventilators than necessary, and currently treatments are being devised with vaccines, other drugs, and mitigating methods entering clinical trials. But businesses, both large and small, are shuttered and suffering, as jobs are being furloughed due to “executive orders” around the country, making the prospect there will be massive numbers of bankruptcies more likely every day. A large segment of our population has become restless, and we are starting to see demonstrations demanding our elected offices allow us to proceed with our daily lives, unencumbered by their skepticism of the future. All while others tell us improving the economy will only occur at the cost of additional lives, so we should follow what the experts tell us. They yell, “Don’t you believe in science? Do you think money is more important than your life?”

Both are good questions, so let us start with the experts. So far, almost everything the experts have told us has not come to pass. The pandemic has not been as big, or as deadly, as they predicted. But their statements were just predictions. They were not based on facts or science, but on their opinion, so how can you fault them? Yet they keep repeating the same tag line, “it might get worse,” which is also not based on science. It is just as possible, “the situation may get better.”

But in other aspects, the experts have been absolutely wrong. Take the situation in New York where initially hospitals refused to take COVID-19 patients. What did the governor do? I’m sure it was after consulting with his experts, he ordered Convalescent Hospitals to take the infected patients, and the medical professionals who were in charge of the facilities did not object strongly enough. Instead, they willingly accepted contagious patients into an environment which did not have the capabilities of isolating, or properly treating them. Wait, were they not the same medical professionals who would not allow the public to visit their loved ones residing in Convalescent Hospitals because they are the most vulnerable, who now embraced admitting actively infected patients into their facilities? What happened? Many of those most venerable died and health care workers were infected. I know the New York Governor admitted he made an error in judgment, but tell me again, why I would want to blindly follow the advice of politicians or medical experts?

I understand the death of anyone close to us is a devastating and horrific event. Yet we all need to come to grip with the fact that death is a part of the human life cycle, and we will all succumb to death at some point in time. None of us will get out of this life alive, and during every minute, of every day, we face risks of injury, or natural medical trauma which could cause our life to end. Thankfully, most of us do not consider the probability of a life-ending event as we go about our daily activities, most likely because the probability of occurrence is so low, we simply, and sometimes unknowingly, accept the risk.

So rather than dealing with talking points about “humanity vs. the economy,” I would prefer to look at the data to determine what to do next. Some of the information, unfortunately, is not presented in a way where a conclusion can be drawn. The public has also been inundated with experts indicating more testing is needed, but test results have no meaning unless they cause something to happen, or provide enough information to make some sense of it. When we read an article which reports “the rise of x number of cases today” without knowing the sample size, the date of testing, the location, and if these are all newly tested individuals, it is not possible to tell if the number of new cases is increasing or decreasing. Yet, we can look to the number of COVID-19 deaths vs. the population. I realize the number may be bloated due to hospitals receiving larger payments if they report a COVID-19 patient, and even more if the patient was on a ventilator; but even so, we can use the number as a worst case scenario.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the united states as of May 17 is 88,488, and the population of the US is 327 million. While the number of deaths may sound large, dividing deaths by population yields a 00.027 percent death rate. Interestingly, “I heart SCV” published data on May 14, showing the COVID-19 death rate in the SCV at 2.8 per 100,000 or 00.0028 percent, which is even lower than the national average.

To put our risk of death in perspective, I looked at the United States mortality rate (2017 data) which showed the total number of US deaths at 2,813,503, or 863.8 deaths per 100,000. The totals included heart disease at 647,457, cancer at 599,108, accidents at 169,936, chronic lower respiratory diseases at 160,201, stroke at 146,383, and Alzheimer’s disease at 121,404, all of which individually are greater of an impact than COVID-19, and we have not shut down our economy for any of them.

Next, I looked at the New York-specific data, which shows similar results to the SCV information I included in my column several weeks ago. Hospitalizations peaked on about April 10 and have been coming down ever since. Yet the section most curious is that the infection rate for those sheltering at home is significantly higher than found in the homeless population. So, has our approach to reducing our risk been wrong all along?

While there are a lot of questions yet to be answered, one issue is undeniable. Politicians and experts have shut down 30 percent of the US economy, and disrupted the lives of all Americans. Small business and low income wage earners are being hurt the most. People need to care for their children, put food on their families table, pay the rent, and the government does not have the resources to help out much longer. Politicians and experts never want to admit they made a mistake and this situation is no exception. They tend to double down on the road they chose to travel, and wait for the next high profile drama to rise up and take public attention away from today’s dilemma.

But, I do not think the public will be so quick to forget this time around. It is time to reassess the risk of returning to work, school, and recreation, and put the country back on its feet once again.

California Killing Itself

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

by Rob Werner

There are many participants killing California in our reaction to Coronavirus. Perpetrators of this crime include Governor Newsom, Dr. Fauci, the media and we the people.

During crisis we rely on government leaders for direction and solutions. Politicians rely on the media to improve their popularity. The media relies on hyping fear and crises to increase viewership. They recognize that people have a short attention span. People do not trust the media but are constantly driven by its misinformation. This explains why Democrat Governors in the worst performing states have increased their popularity while Republicans in the best performing states have suffered. Most major news stories since Trump was elected were based of fabrications. When the lie becomes too obvious, a new crisis is created.

With your own research, you may discover that coronavirus is highly infectious but only spread by people suffering from the disease (with fever). Mandated masks do more harm than good. There is no proof that an infected person without signs of the disease can spread the disease. Disease germs may spread to objects such as doors and packages but there is no support that contact with will be deadly.

Dr. Fauci’s Senate testimony was that of a doctor and a politician. He sought common ground with whoever asked a question as if auditioning for a job with the next administration. This expert who downplayed possible treatments for the virus supported Governor’s decisions to keep schools closed despite there being no evidence that opening schools would create a danger. He speculated that something we do not yet know might become a problem. In other words – let our fear of the unknown rule our lives.

Coronavirus did not spread or kill as predicted. In Italy over seven percent of the casualties were people over 70, most with preexisting conditions. In the U.S. mandated board and care facility housing of infected led to 39% of the fatalities. Confining the elderly, reducing their activities, and preventing visits from relatives and friends – their advocates does not protect the elderly.
Despite the claim that killing our economy is part of Democrat election strategy, the truth is likely that Governor Newsom has caught the panic mentality perpetrated by the press and views the crises as an opportunity to transform California. As a progressive globalist, he seeks to assist people taking advantage of open borders, the homeless and dependent versus capitalists.

Newsom used this as an opportunity to move the homeless into hotels without consideration of the damage to our tourist industry. His sympathy for the “oppressed” led him to release prisoners and provide additional funds to illegals. He is afraid to open California too soon as he might be blamed for future deaths. Like so many politicians he enjoys autocratic authority.

There can never be guarantees that no death will occur after opening our economy. There is strong evidence that it can and should be open. Taiwan, with a population of about 24 million and territory the size of South Carolina has less than 50 confirmed cases and seven deaths? Its schools, businesses and restaurants are open. While for most businesses it has mask and alcohol wipe protocols, its success is due to temperature scans at entrances for fevers and housing in place those infected.

This is not rocket science. Look at the facts. Let go of your fears. There is no reason why we cannot go back to business as usual with the safeguards of temperature scanning and those infected sheltering in place. We need to allow all businesses including entertainment facilities to reopen now!

Sanctuary Cafe – Open for Business

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

by Dale Paule

Just for a moment, imagine you’re back in the Old West sitting in a saloon at a poker table with a handful of aces, and you’ve just bet your whole pile of chips on what you’re sure is the slam-dunk winning hand. But then, the house suddenly announces they’ve decided to change the rules, and from now on, the deuce will be the highest card in the deck, and the ace, lowest.

It doesn’t take all that much imagination to predict what the next scene would likely be: six-shooters clearing leather and, well, you know the rest.

It’s been over a hundred years since a scene like that could take place, and even though it’s still the “West,” it’s not something that could happen today, right?

But, instead of sitting in a saloon at a poker table, what if you were sitting at a desk, in an office; and instead of holding aces in your hand, you were holding the last paycheck you’re likely to see for a long time, if ever again. All because the “house,” otherwise known as the “government,” suddenly announced the business where you were employed has been ordered to close its doors until further notice!

They say it applies to everyone and all businesses due to a deadly virus spreading across the country in pandemic proportion. Then you learn the order applies only to those businesses, and people the Government deems, “non-essential,” but those who are seen as, “essential” are exempted. Then, you notice, some of those deemed “essential” are businesses just like yours. How is it possible that the smaller stores selling clothes, cosmetics, sporting goods, books, and other everyday items are “non-essential,” and ordered to shut down, while some chain stores like Walmart, and Costco are classified “essential,” even though they offer the same items, and serve that same public those small businesses were serving, but are now prohibited from doing?

We’re sternly warned that we condemn our neighbors to certain death if we even consider opening our “non-essential” doors to the poor, unsuspecting and trusting public. Anyone who ignores the irrefutable scientific “Government Speak” evidence, should be considered selfish; concerned only with money, and the lives of their fellow citizens be damned!

Well, that pretty much stepped on any chance of trying to approach the issue from a logical point of view, and cooperate with the “experts” in government to find a safe way to resume business without endangering lives.

That’s when the air suddenly began to smell of fish.

As people began to exchange experiences and thoughts, it appeared the vast majority agreed; it just didn’t make sense to destroy an economy forever, in exchange for using common sense to defeat a temporary plague; which
In fact, was already showing signs of receding in many areas of the country. People began to question why the government in some states, like California for instance, were so adamant about pouring more effort into destroying an economy than the plague?

The motive, not surprisingly, pointed to a political goal rather than the governor’s concern for the well-being of the state’s citizens. In short, by keeping the economy from recovering too quickly before the next presidential election, there would be a strong possibility, Trump, hated by the Democrats, could be defeated, so full power and control of the country would be back where it “rightfully belongs!”

No one in their right noodle, that is, anyone not drinking “Political Koolaid” would choose economic destruction over saving lives. The reality is that we can do both, but we’ve got to get these self-serving politicians out of the way, and resume business, while practicing common sense, and proven methods of minimizing the danger of contact with the virus, until a vaccine is available.

All well and good you say; but the government is forbidding us from doing just that: they say it’s now “The Law!” and everyone knows you can’t break the law.
The answer to that is both yes and no.

There’s a law on the books, stating it’s against the law to remain in this country illegally. But when we tried to uphold that law, we were told those breaking
it were under a different, more caring law, called “Sanctuary,” and therefore exempt from that other law.

So, what if those businesses wishing to use safety and common sense were to just open their doors for business, claiming sanctuary?

You can just see the lawyer’s cease and desist orders, clearing leather, then, well, you know the rest.

The California Pandemic Alphabet

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

by Harry Parmenter

A is for Arbitrary.  Simon Newsom says you can open, Simon says you can’t.
B is for bookstore.  Simon says you can open but no one can come inside; curbside pick-up only.  People who love bookstores and still support them want to go INSIDE to CHOOSE a book.  If we wanted to find something online and order it we would go to what’s called AMAZON.
C is for, what else, CoronaVirus.
D is for Dictatorship.  It used to stand for Democrats.
E is for Enough.  IT IS TIME TO RETURN TO FREEDOM, Simon.  This is AMERICA.
F is for First responders.  Yes, Simon is out of money because he refuses to open the state so he needs to blackmail Donald by telling Joe Public the first people to go if he doesn’t get his zillion dollar bailout will be First responders.  Reminiscent of the first thing little Barry did when the government shutdown occurred was close the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, national parks, etc. i.e. what people love the most.  God forbid he and the rest of the bureaucrats would vote to have their salaries suspended.
G is for grief, not only for the families of victims of CoV, but those who have lost loved ones who refused to go to the doctor for unrelated maladies, and died as a result.  A friend, 68, had recurrent shoulder pain but didn’t see a doctor due to The Fear.  He dropped dead of a heart attack.
H is for Home, which is what many people will lose the longer people aren’t allowed to work.
I is for Inoculation, but guess what?  We may not get one anytime soon.   Shall we wait for Godot and the cure to cancer while we’re at it?
J is for Joke, because the joke’s on you.
K is for KISS, whose farewell tour has been interrupted. Now it may never end.
L is for Lies, which we’ve grown accustomed to and now often swallow whole.
M is for Madness, which is what we are slowly descending into.
N is for Nature, a wonderful respite during all this, for those of us who have access to it.
O is for Over, which is what this needs to be.
P is for Pelosi, who is calling the shots in DC.  Exactly what is the endgame for these people who want to destroy our country with endless government handouts, crippling debt that will eventually bring us to our knees and turn us into a banana republic? They’re all wealthy and live behind their walls; but WHAT DO THEY WANT EXACTLY?
Q is for Queen Elizabeth, because couldn’t we use her right about now? The Crown is always so reassuring.
R is for Remsidvir, the only current hope.
S is for Safety, because after all we must remain in our homes for safety reasons, afraid to venture out in case the wind blows the wrong way and we catch a cold, er, virus.  Well, they ARE kind of the same thing.
T is for Torture, because it’s a slow death no matter what.
U is for University, all of which will be shut down indefinitely in the nanny state of California for fear there might be a spider in someone’s closet.  More likely one of the cockroaches will escape from Sacramento.
V is for Vote, which is what we did for Mike Garcia, a first step to take our country, not to mention our district, back.
W is for Wuhan, where our special friends who make all our stuff concocted this disaster.
X is for Alphabetland, the first X album in decades that is just what we needed.  Loud, fast and unscientific.
Y is for Youth, who are seeing theirs float away in a sea of paranoia and, of course, “an abundance of caution.”  Here’s your stimulus check; now shut up and go watch TV.
Z is for Zoo, which is where the animals are, ignoring the whole thing.

Letter to Governor Newsom

| Opinion | May 21, 2020

Governor Newsom:

Please know that churches, other religious entities and their adherents are thankful for your leadership during this COVID-19 crisis.

The New Testament encourages believers to pray for you and all those in authority. Consequently, both you and all our elected leaders have been in our prayers, especially during our online services and prayer meetings in these weeks and months of crisis and concerns.

During these unprecedented and uncertain times, many Californians are being destroyed financially or distressed emotionally to the extreme by the coronavirus or its consequences. It is not surprising that many churches and social workers report spikes in attempted suicides, alcohol abuse, drug abuse or even child abuse. Compassion requires personal contact and care–the kind of spiritual, emotional and physical support which Churches provide.

In spite of being consigned to our homes for more than two months–to “flatten the curve” of this virus outbreak–we have sought to be peaceful, patient and respectful. However, we have been perplexed to see how liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries and abortion clinics have all been deemed “essential” entities but churches and other places of worship have not. We were grieved by this just a few weeks ago, when Christians were denied the right and opportunity to assemble and celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, perhaps the holiest events of our faith.

Our congregants don’t understand why we are not viewed with other “non-retail” establishments, which also practice safe distancing and hygienic protocols and are allowed to function normally. Churches seem to be viewed along with ancillary, entertainment venues rather than with essential institutions of our society.

Please allow me to make two practical points and a respectful request:

Point #1 People and institutions of faith are viewed as essential within both our state and federal Constitutions. The free exercise of religion and the freedom of assembly are both prominently enshrined as God-given rights in the Declaration of Independence and in specific amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Also, declaring gratitude to “Almighty God” are among the first words of the Preamble of the California State Constitution.

We need to balance these constitutional guarantees with the exigencies and limitations of public health issues, with any restriction being the least necessary.

However, your Executive Orders have forbidden us from physically gathering together to worship God, as commanded in our Holy Bible. We have done our best to temporarily adapt to these extraordinary circumstances and restrictions, but this must not continue indefinitely. Soon, many may feel forced to actively “obey God, rather than man.”

Point #2: Reopening places of worship is consistent with the federal guidelines, wherein phase one establishes that “places of worship can operate under strict physical distancing protocols.” Most of our denominational affiliations have published guidelines to help us go above and beyond in meeting state and local guidelines for physical distancing, disinfecting and practicing personal hygiene.

The U.S. Department of Justice acknowledged earlier this month, “For many people of faith, exercising religion is essential, especially during a crisis.” We are asking you, Governor Newsom, to trust us now to exercise our “essential” faith responsibly and compassionately. We are prepared to use extraordinary care and precaution to protect the health of our members, as we re-engage in public worship and witness to our faith. Loving our neighbors is part of who we are as the Church. We will seek to be models of safety, sanity and sincerity.

The Request

Governor Newsom, I ask you to swiftly and publicly recognize churches as “essential,” non-retail entities and ensure that they are released to responsibly reopen by the end of this month.

Sunday, May 31, is “Pentecost Sunday,” another key observance for the Christian Church. It is sometimes known as “the birthday of the Church.” Being free to reopen on that day would be like a “new birth” in the middle of this difficult season of death and discouragement.

Please release churches and other religious entities to responsibly practice the necessary health protocols, while reopening churches to safely serve the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of their–and your–constituents.

Thank you for caring and for your timely responses.


Pastor Gary Curtis, Retired
(Emailed 5/16/2020)

If You Can’t Pay Your Bills due to the Virus

| Opinion | May 14, 2020

by Ray J. Bulaon, attorney

As we face an unprecedented global pandemic that has forced the government to order an immediate lockdown of almost all businesses, millions of people are suddenly without a paycheck.

Fear can be our worst enemy at this time because it can be debilitating. So, it is important that you take care of your mental health as you plan and strategize for tougher days ahead. How do you pay your bills when there’s no money coming in? Who do you pay first? What will happen if you don’t pay your bills and what can creditors do?

First of all, understand that this situation is new to everyone including all your creditors. So even banks and lenders were caught unprepared and don’t have an instant answer as to how they will respond to millions of people who are expected to default on their mortgages, cars, credit card and loan payments, etc.  This is still a very fluid situation, and no one has a definitive answer.

From what I’ve seen so far, remedies under consideration or are already being implemented include bans on evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs. I’m sure you already know, the government is also sending everyone a check although I know that this will barely make a dent on bills that are already mounting.

The best advice I can give at this time is to prioritize your spending while taking care of your health and safety FIRST. Without your health, nothing really matters and that should be at the very top of your priority list.

Remember that this crisis is keeping everyone from doing their jobs, including the bill collectors who may still be calling. For unsecured debts (no collateral), there is nothing for the creditor to take if you stop paying other than suing you and getting a judgment.

However, if you have secured debts such as a mortgage or a car, understand that these are the creditors that have quicker remedies because they can foreclose on your home or repossess your car without having to take you to court first. I expect mortgage and car loan companies to be more flexible as the government passes needed regulations to ease the burden on millions of consumers. But of course, that still remains to be seen.

(Nothing herein is intended to give legal advice for any specific situation. Ray is currently offering free phone or video consultations to discuss your personal situation. You can call his Valencia office (RJB Law) at 866-477-7772 or (661) 775-4880. Website: www.familyfinancelawyer.com)

Time to Get Up!

| Opinion | May 14, 2020

Lisa and I often attend the College of the Canyons weekly webinar for businesses. Jill Mellady, President of the Foundation and President of Mellady Direct Marketing, hosts the event and this past week’s seminar was titled Business Not-So-Usual, Managing Your Business Through Times of Crisis. Jeff Forrest, Vice President of College of the Canyons, Economic & Workforce Development, and Tom Williams, Owner/Operator, Chick-fil-A of Valencia Town Center, were the guest presenters and their words were inspiring, compelling and instructive. Both shared stories that taught the audience in real-life-terms lessons in resiliency; the ability to recover or adjust from adversity or change, something we all are coping with.

Jeff and Tom’s presentations illustrated a quandary most business owners face today, what to do after a crisis knocks you off your feet. Their answers were simple and to the point. Overcome failures, even those not at your hand. Get up, dig deep and either figure out or recall why you went into business in the first place! That’s your anchor for all that comes after.

Resilience is measured by a leader’s steadfastness when challenged by failure. My father was a space pioneer and spent his adult life at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as a design engineer and manager of the engineer design section. He often told stories about our country’s race against the USSR to fly the first satellite. We lost. Sputnik achieved orbit in October 1957, months before the U.S. was able to launch Explorer 1 in January 1958. Then came the race to put the first man in space. We lost. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth on April 12, 1961, beating out U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight less than one month later. Finally, a U.S. victory on February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glen flew the Friendship 7 orbiting the Earth three times before splashing down in the Pacific.

These failures motivated our space pioneers to be number one in every major world space accomplishment since. For thirty-eight years Dad worked at JPL and was a key team member to the Explorer, Ranger, Surveyor, Mariner and Viking programs. Programs that were dedicated to the exploration of space and created the conditions for our country’s success in landing the first man on the moon. All these programs were high risk, high payoff, and fraught with a high number of failures; some minor, many major, and as you know, several catastrophic. Just the geo-physical challenge of launching an object into space and successfully intercepting some target millions of miles away was and is a remarkable feat.

But even more phenomenal, these pioneers worked in an environment that recognized failure as an essential element to success. They had the fortitude to never allow themselves the emotional respite to quit and the resilience after a failure to get up and adapt, recall their WHY, and improvise, engineer and design successful spacecrafts that led the world in interplanetary exploration!

Many of our Santa Clarita Valley business owners have been gut punched by COVID-19, resulting in many failures. Those that have survived are starting to re-open, but not without significant challenges. Businesses that rely on high density customer traffic are required to limit on-premise customers, significantly reducing the number of transactions and sales made per day. Other business owners who can open are finding it hard to bring back employees because they are making more money collecting unemployment benefits then if they were to return to work. Still other business owners are finding past reliable supply chains drying up or raw material costs increasing, impacting their product or service delivery and retail price to the customer.

Now’s the time to get up, dig deep, rediscover your WHY, adapt and improvise your business to this change, and create your anchor for future prosperity. Your team depends on your motivation and resilience to get them through the next phases of this pandemic and return to a new normalcy. Your customers are cheering you on, they want to see you succeed and if your communication with them is direct, clear, purposeful, and inspirational, they will remain loyal and help restore and grow the business you dream of. This is how you lead, think, plan and act your way through a crisis. Now, let’s get after it!

The Wizard of Odds

| Opinion | May 14, 2020

by Dale Paule
2015: June: “Hey, did’ja hear that billionaire guy Trump, that guy from New York with the funny hair and the t v show is going to run for President? Whatta you think the odds of that happening are; a gazillion to one, right?”

2016: “He actually did it! He can’t really think he can debate with those other sixteen, professional politicians with their years of experience; probably a publicity stunt to boost his TV show rating. The odds against him would be a gazillion to one, right?”

2016: Sept-Oct: “Well, I can’t believe he actually did it; he actually beat all sixteen, weak, loser candidates! He got lucky there, but just wait until he runs head-on into the Clinton Machine: ‘Pow, Socko!’ Hillary Clinton will put him down before the end of the first round. What are the odds he’ll still be standing at the end of round one? At least a gazillion to one, right?”

2016: November: “Well, it’s Election Day, and I’m surprised Trump is even hanging around for the results. The word is, it’s in the bag for Hillary; a landslide like nobody’s ever seen. I almost feel sorry for the poor chump. I mean how could he ever have believed he could beat odds like a gazillion to one, right?”

2017: January: “I’m seein’ it, but I ain’t believin’ it! They’re actually swearing Trump in as the 45th President of the United States! It had to be a screw-up somewhere; just a little mistake that Hillary will make sure gets ‘corrected.’ In the meantime, we’ll just make sure he doesn’t touch or break anything. Odds of him staying in office longer than a week are somewhere around a gazillion to one, right?”

2017: “They ain’t wastin’ no time with this guy; Bob Mueller’s team is putting together a rock-solid case for impeachment. If Trump’s smart, he’ll skip the embarrassment of being thrown out of office, and just walk away. Nobody can stand the guy, and can hardly wait for Hillary to make things right. The only people on his side are a few of those far-right, loony-tune zealots who are too dumb to understand how it’s really supposed to work. Can they really believe they can keep him in office? Whatta the odds against that: gotta be a gazillion to one, right?”

2019: December: “It’s all but over now; they’ve started a formal impeachment on Trump, and the only question is who Hillary will pick for her vice president when she takes over after Trumps slinks out of the White House in shame. “

2020: February: “Then, the unthinkable happened; the impeachment concluded with Trump being acquitted! Everyone at CNN was crying? How could that happen? No one except a few nut-job right-wing zealots were for him. The odds against coming out of this without a dent, and still president was in the neighborhood of like, a gazillion to one, right?”

2020: May: After all that, and in spite of three years of unending opposition by the Democrats, the Press and “Never Trumpers,” Trump managed to free up the obstacles stifling the American spirit for decades, and once free, both the economy and confidence dramatically rose to an all-time high. Then, tragedy struck a horrific blow: A deadly virus, born out of China, sent our dreams and economy crashing! Within a matter of days, the entire world was in shambles. Trump acted quickly to minimize damages, but the sheer enormity of it left us dazed and humbled.

You would think, at a time like that, with the survival of the American people at stake, even the most rabid in opposition would surely come together to become “One Nation, Under God.” Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. They simply saw the tragedy as an albatross of blame to hang around Trumps neck, then doubled their efforts to drive him from office.

Trump’s first term ends in November, and the job of rebuilding what the virus and its consequences have wrought will be left to whomever ends up in the White House. Will it be someone who, “understands how it’s really supposed to work,” or will it be Trump, who did it once, and without doubt, can do it again?

Many believe Trump has finally met his match, and is destined to lose.

Those who “specialize” in such things, put his odds against being re-elected at an easy gazillion to one, right?

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