About Charlie Hudson

Off with my combat boots and onto writing best describes Charlie my two careers. Born in Pine Bluff, Ark., and raised in Louisiana, I count myself as a military veteran, wife, mother, freelance writer, and author. What was intended to be a quick two years in the Army became a 22-year career instead, and somehow in the process, I discovered that I was an inadvertent pioneer by serving in several positions that had previously been held only by men. By the time I was in Desert Storm and later Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, women in leadership assignments was more widely accepted. My love of writing never left me though whether it is a short article that highlights an animal rescue group, penning the stories of a female police detective in the Florida Keys, or presenting issues about aging that Baby Boomers need to address, or working on a corporate proposal. When my husband, Hugh, also retired from the Army, we relocated to South Florida where we can both enjoy the underwater world in dive sites all around Key Largo. We do break away though to still travel, and especially visit the Washington, D.C. area where son Dustin is a professional dancer and lives with his wife, Samantha.

Absentee Voting and New Twist……

As regular readers know, I avoid politics as a subject. This, however, is a case where civics can cross into politics. In all the noise about mail-in ballots, there seems to be confusion about objections. I’ll start by saying “mail-in” has existed for a very long time, but was traditionally called absentee ballots. That’s because in years past, many people made voting day a priority. Employers were (still are) required to give a certain number of hours off to allow time to get to the polls, vote, and return. There was no early voting then. People who would be absent would apply for their ballot, fill it out and yes – mail it in. Generally, that applied to military and other personnel who knew they would be away on election day. Even older people often had someone take them to the polls to be able to vote. That’s what some of the drives during the Civil Rights Era were – filling buses with people to ensure they could make it to the polls. Population growth, longer commutes which might make it difficult to get to the polls in time, and those who didn’t have access to transportation, etc., began to use absentee/mail-in at a greater rate. Early voting came into play to try and accommodate some of these situations.

There have always been issues with ensuring absentee ballots are properly accounted for and counted. Some errors are human carelessness, some will full mistakes, some delivery errors, and fraud. The concerns with increasing mail-in to large scale is proportionately increasing errors and fraud. Example of a will full mistake is throwing away ballots rather than delivering them. Example of fraud is filling out another person’s ballot, influencing them to fill it out in a way they might not otherwise do, or knowingly having an ineligible person fill out a ballot.

Absentee/mail-in is and always will be a legitimate form of voting. Greatly expanding it comes with risk.

And Yet Another Feature……

In the on-going attempts to learn what all the features are on my Escape and how to use them, we did master the Memory Control for the driver’s seat. This is a feature we’ve never had before and it is nice. You can actually set it to remember three different drivers, but since the only other one who will use it is our son and that’s only for a few days each year, we probably won’t program his preference. The setting are for the seat, not the mirrors so those have to be adjusted each time. I accidentally discovered something yesterday that may well bring a chuckle to anyone this applies to. Okay, most Ford vehicles have the gas tank filler on the driver’s side. I realize this, but for some reason I will occasionally forget and either pull up on the wrong side or stop the vehicle before I get to the pump and check. As it turns out, there is a little indicator as one of the dash lights. There is a pump image and the handle for the pump shows it being to the left on the driver’s side. How clever is that? I hadn’t noticed it before and certainly wouldn’t have thought to look for something like that in the thick owner’s manual.

I also noticed while I don’t there are no cup holders in the pockets of the driver and passenger side doors, there is a slight recess that will steady a water bottle. The only drawback to the cup holders in the back seat is they are in the fold down console of the middle seat. Those door pockets also have spots for water bottles, but it does leave out whoever is sitting in the middle seat. We don’t have that very often though so I guess we can mange. It will be interesting to see what I discover next.

About All Those Moves and Travel…..

In saying good-bye to a friend who is relocating for a promotion, our shared experience of time in the Army (during different times) led to the discussion of frequent moves. In general, Army and Marine Corps personnel relocate more frequently than Air Force and Navy, but in looking back, I did do some travel even before my Army career. So, in order of having lived in, spent at least two months in, or traveled to, here goes.

States: Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, now Florida. (Actually born in Arkansas and spent lots of time at grandparents over the years), Puerto Rico; Countries: France, Germany, Italy. Was in different times for at least two months: Alabama, California, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, North Carolina. Countries: Haiti, Saudi Arabia

Traveled to, business and pleasure: States: llinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin. U.S. Virgin Islands, Countries: Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, England, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Fiji, Scotland, Switzerland, Turks and Caicos

There are others planned of course, but at this point, it’s difficult to know how all that will go. They are divided though into diving destinations and other travel. The exception is Egypt as that is for diving and travel. Unfortunately, the political situation may never settle enough to allow for that. Although we expect to be able to dive into our 80s, traveling distances to do so will become more difficult.

As far as languages go, as long as I have a dictionary I can travel comfortably speaking French, German, Italian, and Spanish

Watching the Storm…..

As with other things that don’t slow down because of the pandemic, we’re looking at a Hurricane Watch beginning Sunday. There had been expectations Hurricane Isaias would weaken in crossing the mountains of Dominican Republic, but it didn’t go in that far. We’ll keep an eye on things of course with the hope of an eastward track to go out into the Atlantic. As I have said on many occasions, there is plenty of empty space for hurricanes to swirl around all they wish and interfere only with shipping and air traffic. Florida Power and Light (FPL) does year-round trimming and scheduled pole and line replacement to “strengthen” against storms. They have been systematically replacing wooden poles with taller concrete ones which are more resilient and the added height helps raise the lines to prevent falling limbs and trees from tearing them down.

Even though we do have the whole-house generator (despite all the hassle we endured), our development does not normally lose power because the utilities are underground. That of course isn’t a safeguard if there is flooding. At any rate, tomorrow is likely to provide clarity of the situation. Direction and speed can change with little warning which is what makes it difficult to know how much to prepare. Too much and people feel it was a “wasted” effort. Too little and there are obvious problems. We both happened to fill our vehicles this week which takes care of that task. It is the reality of living here, and as one friend said Thursday, at least with hurricanes, you do have some warning. They were previously in tornado-prone country. So, in the literal rather than figurative sense, we really will see what tomorrow brings.

Small, But Tasty Farmer’s Market…..

Being in an agricultural area includes having access to farmer’s markets. As I have mentioned in other posts, we have two growing seasons here; “regular produce” like corn, green beans, strawberries, tomatoes, etc., and exotics of avocados, mangos, starfruit, and more. Some of the farmers markets close during the summer, but some do stay open combining local produce and products with those trucked in from no farther away than the Carolinas. There is also local brown eggs, honey and bee pollen if you’re into that. Between my friend and I we picked up green beans, tomatoes, romaine, eggs, and honey. They’re competitive price-wise as we paid $21 for one 16 oz honey, 2 pounds to tomatoes, a pound of green beans, a dozen eggs, and a head of lettuce. It is a curbside business for the time being. You pull up, check the posted list, give the lady your order and she selects your items and brings them to the vehicle. The address is12690 SW 280th Street, Homestead, FL 33032; Tel: 303.257.2005 (I paid cash and did forget to ask if they took credit cards.) They are open 7 days a week, 10:00-6:00 p.m.

You can see the whole product list and order on-line through the service at https://yourfarmers.org They also have deliveries a couple of day a week. For those who may not have read the previous post, Redland Community Market is part of a wonderful organization, Redland Ahead. “Redland Ahead, Inc. is a 501-C3 non-profit organization formed to support agribusiness and provide services and opportunities to veterans and under served in South Florida. The non-profit organization also currently manages other operations and small businesses focused on supporting and growing agribusiness with a strategy to stay small and expand once the generation of operating capital proves effective. Specifically, Redland Ahead, Inc. provides:

  • Support for the training of under served populations and Veterans to become farmers & explore careers in Agriculture business in programs offered by FIU and UF (TREC).
  • Support to the FIU’s AgroEcology program in South Florida in conjunction with the expansion of FIU’s Hispanic Land Grant University status.
  • Support for training to improve the profitability from existing or future crops through university and private development of incubators, commercial kitchens, and other ventures in the Redland and South Florida communities.”

Good people, good food, good cause.

Learning To Zoom….

There is actually a short article about this that may or may not get published in the paper (not every article makes it into the limited space per week). As so many of us look to staying in touch without traveling and unable to meet in large groups, the phrases, “Facebook Live”, “Zoom”, “Face Time”, “Whats Up” have been added to “Skype”, “Videoconferencing,” and who knows how many I’m missing. Some of us are old enough to remember the early video-teleconferences with the odd lags between transmissions. While it was “cutting edge” at the time, it was still awkward.

We had Skype for a period of time on our computers and I’m not certain of why that fell out of favor. I didn’t (and don’t) use Facetime that much on the phone, however, I do now have the What’s Up App since that allows me to engage with those who have something other than an I-phone. Zoom is what has become immensely popular and as with other technology, I can manage only a few of the functions available. Part of the popularity is the free version so literally anyone with a computer can participate. Ideal is to have a camera so you can be part of the video piece, but you can be on with only audio as well (an advantage over Skype). Apparently a large number of people can participate at the same time as long as the “host” has the paid service which is reasonably priced. If no one has a paid service I think there’s a maximum of 40 minutes allowed. Anyway, with the on-going prohibition against groups of more than ten gathering for meetings, most of the local organizations have adapted to Zoom. I’ve been hoping we won’t have to do this for Homestead Center for the Arts, but we may have no choice. An issue though is we have quite a few people who either don’t have computers or who are not comfortable with them. There is a chance we can do some sort of hybrid set-up since we usually don’t have more than about ten who attend the regular meetings who are also not comfortable with Zoom. It will be interesting to see how we work this out.

Conflicting Experts……

I meant to finish this yesterday and was interrupted. As I’ve mentioned before, my father was a forester for about sixty years although he did finally quit tromping around the woods so much in his early 80s. Anyway, he was once called upon to be an expert witness in a civil suit. The issue was a tree that was cut down, fell the wrong way and damaged the house in question. I don’t recall the particulars because they aren’t important. He recounted there were actually three experts who testified about the situation. What surprised him was each of them provided a different analysis and that left the jury with the task of trying to decide which, if any of them, they believed. This is not uncommon.

There are multiple problems with experts. The first is credentials. As I may also have previously posted, I am by no means a scientist, but my sister and brother-in-law both are. In the years of being around them and listening to different things, I learned how narrow some science focuses can be. When my sister was considering seeking a new position, she was well credentialed in her field, to include having received national and some international recognition. In her particular field though, there were only a few positions open in the entire that were an actual match. All scientists have common understanding of certain things, then branch out to where they have little, if any understanding, in other areas. We’re all more familiar of course with this in medical practice. The GP is only the first stop if something specialized is the problem.

Speaking of problems; human nature, particularly if someone is an “expert”, is to be reluctant to admit one doesn’t have the answer, or worse, if one has made a mistake and must openly acknowledge that. And so, we come back to what to do when two equally credentialed experts provide assessments/recommendations that are the opposite of each other. If no hard data can support one position or the other, we choose whom to believe based on multiple factors; one of which is likely to be one’s personal view, which in turn may be driven by emotion. It does make decisions difficult.

 

Ah, Another Technology Surprise……

My attempts to actually learn all the gadgets/features of my new Escape continue. On the plus side of what I like, I think I have successfully set the “Memory Seat” function for me. Hubby hasn’t driven it yet, but once he does, we’ll see if we can set the one for him. There are three settings available. The only other person who drives it is Dustin during their annual Dec/Jan visit so I doubt we’ll bother with that for him. Oh, and the middle seat in back is child-approved. Granddaughter should be comfortable in it although she’s had a growth spurt so I think she’s over the height where the special seat is required.

It has taken a bit to become accustomed to the screen mounted on the dash and I am now comfortable with setting the navigation system. The hands-free telephone is nice, too. In fact, there’s a hands-free text function that I’m not entirely sure of yet even though Hubby showed me how it worked on his truck. The text appears on the screen and then the voice asks if you want to respond to the text. If you answer “yes”, it somehow sends it. (I’m not going to try to figure that out).

However, something I didn’t realize and didn’t think to look for is there’s no CD player. The reason is there’s an audio function that allows you to do everything through the phone. I haven’t tackled this yet, because except for long trips I don’t use a CD. Hubby does listen to audio books during his commutes and has it all figured out. Rather than subscribe to one of the services though, he gets his audio books from the library download service. And no, I haven’t the faintest idea of how to do that either. I will tackle it at some point before too long.

The Most Annoying Polls…..

We all know election years bring not only volumes of mailers, but also streams of telephone calls. Some are simply robocalls asking for support, others are of course asking for donations. Polls are divided into two types. One is an actual poll which measures different things and the key to these is length. A few really are brief as promised while others seem to drag on and on. I tend to respond to polls though because I do have a family background (maternal side) of small town politics and polls can be helpful. The ones I dislike – and occasionally terminate before completing them – are the negative campaign disguised as a poll. If you haven’t experienced one of these, here’s the way it works.

It starts off in a normal way with questions about your likelihood to vote, do you approve of X,Y,Z, which issue do you consider to be most important and so forth. Then the very thinly disguised campaigning starts. Are you familiar with Candidate A? What is your opinion? Are you supporting him/her? Are you familiar with Candidate B? What is your opinion? Are you supporting him/her? If you know this about Candidate A, does that make you more or less likely to support him/her? If you know this about Candidate B, does that make you more or less likely to support him/her? By about the second question, it is obvious which candidate the “poll” is pushing and of course the “things” revealed are statements you have no way of knowing the validity of unless you’ve been following the campaign all along. If I haven’t become so annoyed at this stage that I tell them to stop, I go with the standard, “doesn’t have any impact” on my opinion no matter what the “thing” is they mention. After all, the individual calling doesn’t write the script and is probably merely trying to make a salary. This is the only reason I try to continue with them until it’s over. Unfortunately, we have another 4.5 months until election. Sigh!

 

A Dark Version Yet Again……

Okay, I have no problem acknowledging the 1950s/1960s TV series were “old-fashioned” by today’s standards. Things were different then and when, as Hollywood does, in deciding to re-make a series or movie, the choice is to retain as much of the old as possible (which they do infrequently), “modernize” it (sometimes successfully), or create a different take. That’s the approach HBO selected for their series Perry Mason. We recorded the first two episodes and I tried. Now, before I say more, it turns out my first objection was an error on my part. I did read a few of the Perry Mason books, but they were the later ones and I didn’t realize Earl Stanley Gardner wrote them in the 1930s through the 1960s. When I saw the first episode was set in the early 1930s, I thought it was a mistake. Hubby did a quick search and set me straight.

With that said, I’ve told Hubby he can record all the future episodes and watch them whenever he wants to. After all, I generally head to bed between 9:00 and 9:30 so he has plenty of time. I don’t want to spoil anything, however, this is not remotely like the Perry Mason of the original series. There is a Paul Drake, a Della Street, and an uncle Mason who is the lawyer. This Perry is a private detective, damaged from his experience in WW I, and has a very long way to overcome numerous issues/flaws. The warnings prior to the show of sex and graphic violence were accurate if that tells you anything. The period piece is well done and I’m okay with “noir” to a point. For example, HBO’s first “True Detective” short-run series was dark, yet manageable. Season Two was worse and by Season Three it was beyond what either of us cared for. I don’t know how long Hubby will stick with this Perry Mason, and there will no doubt be those who enjoy this type of show.