Dahlia crept up into the cockpit, three mugs in hand. She gingerly stepped over the Captain, sprawled out in the doorway, swords in hand and sound asleep. Beside him she placed one of the mugs, brimming with beer and continued towards the co-pilot’s seat. Best to placate the captain with drink in case he woke up and decided he was uncomfortable with Dahlia sneakin’ and steppin’ over him and such as to make him uncomfortable on his own ship. Which wasn’t his own ship, it was Toren’s; not that the Captain cared much about that technicality. She hopped into the co-pilot’s seat and took in all of the blinking lights and sensors. Mac was at the helm, with the glazed-over look on his face that he always got when he was bored and tired of working. Good timing. “Hey, Mac. Here’s a pick-me-up,” she said as she pushed a mug of hot chocolate into his hands. He smiled a lop-sided grin and the stale look that had previously taken reign over his face was suddenly wiped away. “Thanks.” Mac raised his mug slightly, a silent “cheers” gesture he’d probably picked up from Steve, and proceeded to sip on the contents. Dahlia looked out into the black, her hands cupped around her mug. It was beautiful. So many opportunities, so many ways to start new. After all the mess on Hera, that’s what she wanted. A clean slate. Strange that she ended up being a mechanic for a ship full of folk who had no qualms about killing, how she was probably building a pretty sizable criminal record just from associating with half the crew. But, it was the first good piece of work to come to herself and Mac. They needed a pilot and mechanic, and it just so happened that Dahlia and Mac were a package deal. Mac had only worked for Dahlia for a short while, but she liked him fine. He was an all right kid overall. A bit on the gullible side, but good. Knew how to handle himself, and knew how to handle a ship. Carefully balancing her own mug, Dahlia tapped her password into the Cortex and logged on to her account to check if she had gotten any waves recently. A quick message from Vaughn saying that Callie was getting along great and that life on their new tiny moon was faring well. Callie had established a small shop and was repairing ships still, even though she was about 7 months along in her pregnancy. Vaughn couldn’t get her to sit back and relax for anything. Dahlia smiled; sounded like Callie all right. She flipped through a few others, mostly junk, but her curiosity was piqued by an advertisement.
“Mac, have you seen this?” she asked, indicating the message. Mac gulped down his last swallow of cocoa and blinked. “The Cortex?” Dahlia sighed and pushed play on her wave. Lights flashed and words splashed across the screen, bold and demanding to be read. A fighting competition, with a prize of 500,000 credits and a trunk full of fresh grain. It was going to take place on Ezra in a week, and anybody could join so long as they wanted to and could fight. Sounded like just the thing for this crew. Avery and Magnus had grown bored on the long run shipping lumber. Magnus had taken to using some of the lumber as targets for throwing knives at, while Avery was doing a great job of chopping the blocks of wood into kindling. Even Mac spent some time practicing his aim in the cargo bay. Sahkmet kept herself busy trying to proposition a disinterested Steve. Every so often, the captain made wild motions at any ship that looked abandoned and helpless. Dahlia ignored him; they had to make good time on this particular shipment, and they had to have it mostly intact. For once, the crew was relatively low on funds and they needed to make sure they made this client happy. At least now the captain could be contented, punching and kicking people, possibly in the trachea or other unpleasant places. Sahkmet and Magnus liked a good brawl, too, for that matter. Only person who would be very disappointed in going would be Toren. But how glad would he be for fresh grain? Pretty glad, Dahlia surmised. She wiggled her eyebrows at Mac. “You think our crew stands a chance?” “I hear Ezra’s kinda dangerous an’ all. Our crew is kinda dangerous an’ all too, though. An’ I guess it’s the closest thing to constructive we can do while still bein’ destructive.” “But would any of us win?” “Cap’n in berserker mode could pretty much oust any grand champion. Jus’ tell ‘im that the competition is fulla former Alliance officers and we’ll win easy enough. Magnus an’ Sahkmet can handle themselves full well, too. I’d say we’ve got good odds.” At the word “alliance” Avery stood up straight, his swords locked in his fists. He ran to each and every window and glared out of it. His knuckles were white from the grip he had on his swords, and despite his scrutinizing, he could not find the Alliance cruisers that were obviously just out of sight, because why would anybody say “alliance” if there weren’t alliance folk just outside waitin’ to snatch ‘em. “WHERE,” was all the Captain managed to grunt as he turned his wild gaze to Mac and Dahlia. “Where’s what, Captain?” “ALLIANCE. WHERE.” “Captain, there’s no Alliance here. There’s nobody within a day of us. You should be asleep.” “How can I sleep when there are ALLIANCE FOLK out and about?” “Sir, honestly, there are tons of Alliance folk out and about, but not any here.” “There’s one in my cargo bay, hidin’ out, I jus’ know it,” Avery snarled. He plopped back on to the ground, and sniffed at his beer before taking a swig. “Don’t be sayin’ Alliance ‘less there’s Alliance about.” And with that, as abruptly as Avery woke up, he was asleep again, undoubtedly murdering Alliance officers in his dreams. “Mac, you know better than to say the ‘a’ word in front of the Captain. We’re just lucky he didn’t destroy any of our pretty equipment this time.” Dahlia smiled at her pilot, but her eyes were quickly fixed back on the ad. “Shall we tell the others about this during breakfast?”
She was a 98-year old woman at her time of death. During World War II, Irena worked in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist. She dedicated herself to smuggling Jewish children out. Infants were carried in the bottom of the tool box she used and older children in a burlap sack she had in the back of her truck.
She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids’ and infants’ noises. Irena managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children during this time.
She eventually was caught and the Nazis broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and in a glass jar buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and reunited some of the families but most had been killed. She then helped those children get placement into foster family homes or adopted.
In 2007, Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected.
“Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth,” she said, “and not a title to glory.”
For more information on Irena Sendler, or to contribute to the Life In a Jar Foundation, go to www.irenasendler.org.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was just passed by Congress, and is on its way to the President’s desk.
The bill gives the military the authority to arrest and detain citizens indefinitely, torture them and even assassinate them on U.S. soil.
NDAA declares the United States a “battlefield” and give Obama and any future presidents the power to transfer suspected members and supporters of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated” groups “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity,” rendition as it has applied to foreigners in violation of human rights.
The President’s advisers are recommending that he not veto this legislation despite earlier promises to do so.
The whole world is not a battlefield and President Obama should make that clear. Tell the President to veto any bill that contains indefinite detention without charge or trial.
#1- What makes me feel most alive. Laughing so hard I can’t catch my breath. I love that sort of laugh. It just starts and it bubbles up and up. It makes me feel alive and it makes me happy for being so. #20- Five things that make me cry….1. Last Kiss by Pearl Jam. It is the saddest song I know and I end up crying like a child whenever it comes on the radio. And I can’t make myself change the channel because it’s beautiful. 2. The thought of Jake going away. It’s so predictable and sappy, I know. But I love him. I see him all the time. Right now, he’s a part of me. He talked about going into the navy after college for a while, and while it may end up being good for him, the thought of him being gone for months at a time breaks my heart. He’s not thinking about that route anymore, and I’m glad for it. 3. Sometimes, I feel like a fraud. In my studies, that is. I feel like I have all of these smart people around me and they know so much about this subject, and here am I. I feel like a newbie. I feel like I don’t belong. The same with aikido sometimes. I have a rank; I’m a yon-kyu, which is a belt above the lowest color belt in our system. And I often don’t feel like I have the right to wear it. I expect a lot from myself. 4. My mom. She’s been through a lot. Not as much as some, but she’s had a lot of problems these past few years. And it hurts me to see her hurting. 5. Someone telling me they are proud of me. It always makes me want to cry. Because I feel like I’ve done something so good, that they hold me in esteem. And then, at the same time, there’s that creeping sensation of not really deserving it. It’s a confusing thing, having someone be proud of me.
#23- Oh my gosh, I wish you had asked this a few days ago. I had some dreams I remembered. I have since forgotten them. Here’s the last one I’ve written down, though: Working with an underground movement against a bad government, mom, myself and others put together bombs to destroy some of the people involved in the government. We tried to wipe off our fingerprints and sent them to the offices we were targeting. Somehow, though, the packages were traced to us. As we waited in our bunker, some people in the organization were waiting with knives in their hands, ready to slit their wrists if they were caught. I managed to get out and got into a car and went to the mall where there was enough of a crowd to get lost in. Priscilla, also in my organization, but not directly tied to the events, noticed me and showed me a back way out of the mall and gave me directions to a safe house. I was able to make a clean escape from the mall and was making my way towards the safe house, when I noticed I was being followed. I ran into the closest house I found and hid in the closet. Little did I know this was Ms. Mullock’s house. I am now enemy #1 and my face is being flashed on the news. People are looking for me. I sneak out of the closet when Ms. Mullock isn’t there, but Mr. Richmond is. He sees me and is horrified because he knows that Ms. Mullock would turn me in. He also doesn’t want to risk bringing me out in broad daylight because that is also dangerous. I am narrowly saved from being seen by Ms. Mullock by Mr. Richmond because as she is looking in the closet he distracts her.
Ms. Mullock was my cooperating teacher during student teaching and Mr. Richmond was another science teacher who ate a lot of junk food in the teacher’s lounge. Priscilla was one of my students.
#33- Which sense could I live without. Oh man. This is difficult. Would removing my sense of smell affect my sense of taste significantly? I want to see, all of my hobbies revolve around seeing. Knitting, reading, surfing the web. I know I can do it all without my sense of sight, but it wouldn’t be the same, and I’m not sure it’d be as fun. As for my sense of hearing, I don’t know. I like hearing people’s voices. I like hearing music. I keep voicemails on my phone in case I want to hear someone I love talk. Sense of touch…I like the feel of a hug, a gentle caress. I would like to keep that. Sense of taste…I like food. Wouldn’t like to lose it. While I like certain scents and they make me happy, I think a sense of smell would be what I would miss the least.
Here’s the thing: If you’re using the holiday season to go out of your way to be an asshole to someone, believer or non-believer, you’re doing it wrong, and I wish you would stop. That’s not a war, it’s a slap fight and it’s embarrassing. As a non-believer, when someone says “Merry Christmas” to me, I say “Merry Christmas” back, because generally speaking I understand that what “Merry Christmas” means in this context is “I am offering you good will in a way I know how,” and I appreciate that sentiment. Left to my own devices, I use “Happy holidays” because I know a lot of people who aren’t Christians (or at least Christmas-centered) and that seems the best way to express my own good will; the vast majority of people get what I’m doing and appreciate that sentiment too.
I think most people get the idea that regardless of religion or lack thereof, we’ve designated this time of year as the one where we make an effort to be decent to each other. Accept it. Welcome it. Live it, in the best way you know how. Be tolerant and gracious when others share this sentiment in a way different than you would. Look for what they’re saying means, not just the words they use to say it. It would be a fine way to have everyone enjoy the season.
4. My favorite physical possession? That’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to say my laptop. If all of my other physical possessions were taken away, I think I’d be able to keep myself entertained with it (I can read on it, watch movies on it). Though I’d miss my knitting gear, which is really relaxing, and also tea, which is also really relaxing. Though overall, without my laptop, I think I’d be really lost.
#26. Something somebody should know before dating me… This is a singular thing, yeah? Maybe something important would be that I don’t take crap and if you cross me I’m done with you. But that’s not always true. I have a soft spot and after a few months (or years) of defrosting, I can warm up to somebody again. Maybe it’s better to say that I’m a homebody. I love staying at home. I don’t really want to go out places all the time. It’s not that I don’t like to once in a while, but most of the time I’m happy staying at home, eating Chinese food out of the containers and watching a silly movie. I need a guy that is good to slow down and enjoy those little things with me, rather than a guy preoccupied with taking me out to a bunch of places. I just want to enjoy being alone with him. Does that make sense? I hope so.