Bonus Track: “Devil With the Blue Dress On”

Today’s By Special Request tune takes us back to the first night I lived in California.

I moved from Portland, Ore., to San Rafael, Calif., for a job in San Francisco . Three of my best gal-pals helped me by driving me and my stuff to the apartment I would share with a single mom in the Canal district of town. After we unloaded, we decided to explore my new town.

On the marquee of New George’s, a club I would come to frequent, was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. We found parking and went over to the club. I asked the doorman if this was *the* Mitch Ryder and was assured that it was. We paid the cover and enjoyed an excellent show.

That show was the confirmation that I had landed in the right place.

Blogging from A to Z: I is for Ides

It’s that time of year again!

Sharon E. Cathcart

The ancient Romans reckoned dates differently from what we do today. There were two specifically named days of the month, one of which was the ides. The ides fell on the 15th day of March, May, July, or October. In the other months, it was on the 13th day. Other dates were reckoned as so many days before or after ides, or the other named day, which we will discuss later in this series.

Most people are familiar with the Ides of March from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2, above. However, that date was an important one for ancient Romans. It was the 74th day of the calendar year, and the one on which debts were to be settled. It was also the feast of Anna Perenna, which concluded ceremonies in honor of the new year.

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Postcards: The text messages of yesteryear? | The Historic New Orleans Collection

But even before most households had telephones and cars, people did have a relatively cheap and easy way to keep in touch: the postcard. Then as now, postcards were often sent to friends far away—a “wish you were here” note from a scenic vacation spot. In the early 20th century, though, a postcard was also the simplest way to send the equivalent of a text message to a pal across town.

Postcards: The text messages of yesteryear? | The Historic New Orleans Collection

Just for fun: click through to see some entertaining postcards from the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Blast from the Past: Some Thoughts on Moral Cowardice

The thoughts I’m about to share turned up in my Facebook memories from eight years ago today. I debated about sharing them here, and nearly came down on the side of not doing so. Yet, I have spent the last hour or so coming back to those paragraphs. So, here we are.


I was just thinking about, of all things, moral cowardice. On my last DoD job, I had a severe bully boss. If you were one of her sycophants, you could get away with anything — including sexual harassment (I have written before about how I got a letter of reprimand for telling the guy who was harassing me to get the fuck away from me … and how, when that guy left the unit, the JAG officer brought the unit copy of that letter to me, tore it up in front of me, and said “This bullshit never happened). She tolerated a guy being drunk on duty *every single drill weekend.* She gave people points for drill in exchange for doing her favors.

When the unit was having a change of command on a Navy base, she said “And we are inviting the media.” I asked whether they had contacted the Public Affairs office on that base to arrange for media credentialing … Public Affairs, after all, was how I made my living until the DoD sent me to that unit through its “Priority Placement Program.”

“We are the Army; we don’t have to get the Navy’s permission,” was her reply.

Needless to say, the media were escorted off the Navy base by the MPs since they were not credentialed … but that’s a digression.

This is the woman who, when my physician pulled me off work for three weeks on the heels of a full-on nervous breakdown, told me it was “selfish” of me to take that leave and that I needed to “learn to put the unit first instead of ” my “little personal problems.”

I could write an entire book on the stuff that happened on that job.

And what does this have to do with moral cowardice? There were people who witnessed what she did to me and who flat-out refused to testify when I filed a complaint. “It could be the end of my career. I’m sure you understand.”

But there were two people … both from subordinate units, who came and testified. One of them was someone I had only met twice … but he was willing to talk about what he’d seen.

The people who were there every day to witness the abuse wouldn’t say a word on the record … because they were too afraid of this bully boss, frankly. And that’s unfortunate. Speaking out against wrong-doing shouldn’t be dependent upon what might happen to you for speaking up, if you ask me.

Standing up for the downtrodden is important. Period.

Blast from the Past: Loma Prieta Earthquake

born of warThirty-two years ago today, while I was on my way home from work on the Presidio of San Francisco, my carpool driver pulled over. The car had pulled sharply to the right, and he thought a u-joint had broken. He inspected the car, and it was fine. We got on the Golden Gate Bridge (we were at the viewpoint) and went home to Marin County. It was not until we were all home that we learned that what later became known as the Loma Prieta earthquake had just happened. Marin was almost entirely unaffected, while the rest of the Bay Area had huge amounts of damage. A couple of days later, I was putting in 12+ hour shifts in the Emergency Operations Center as part of the group controlling the military’s disaster response and relief efforts.

All we had to monitor the media was the radio from my desk (one of the guys had gone upstairs to get it … the only place on base that had electricity was the EOC). We had been begging for media monitoring equipment and been denied under the budget. Needless to say, we got it after that.

Just a couple of months prior, I had been to a disaster relief field training exercise that prepared us greatly (little did we know …) for managing in the wake of Loma Prieta, because we learned where the problems were and could plan for them.

It was a difficult time in San Francisco Bay Area history, but one that showed the mettle of our Public Affairs Office team in a way that nothing else could have done.
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Born of War … Dedicated to Peace was my first book, written in 1995 as a souvenir for the decommissioning of Sixth U.S. Army. You can read it for free on Scribd.