Through the Keyhole

Every moment is but a wisp of smoke through a keyhole and cannot be grasped and held so that it might stay longer than the brief time it is allotted.

Earlier this evening as I opened my FACEBOOK page, over on the left column it asked me to add a public ‘bio’ so I sat and penned what I thought should be said. Well, after a few minutes when I went to save it, it said that I was 2844 characters over what is permitted. So… since I cannot say it there, I will say it here! If you have a desire to read this short ‘bio’ – I hope you enjoy it. If you choose not to – I will not be offended in the least. For me it was an exercise in thinking about my priorities, so here it is my “short bio”!

First and foremost, I am a sinner saved by grace, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Without Him in my life I am nothing and I have no hope for the future. I make no boast but in Him alone. He did not save me because I deserved it but because He loved me even though I could never deserve or earn it!

After that, I am the husband of Karin for almost forty years. I have been far from a perfect husband; but, she remains my life partner whom I love with all that I have to love. I am blessed to have her in my life and blessed with four great children, all of whom are grown and married and so far we have eight grandchildren, two boys and six girls ranging in age right now from 8 years to about 1 month. yogiOur newest is the daughter of our “adopted” daughter (child number five if you are counting, who came to us not by birth but by 747 as an exchange student back in 1996.) We tried to keep her but the best we could do was share her with her own parents in the Philippines and now we share her with our ‘adopted’ son-in-law Andy!

Our not so regular kids are: Heidi with her husband Nick, Suzanne with her hubby Dave, Sarah with her husband Mike and Daniel with his wife Sarah. We have another little child who went to be with her (his?) Heavenly Father before he or she was able to be with us. We look forward to meeting him or her someday.

My work and life’s passion since my teen years has been law enforcement as well as time as a firefighter and EMT, too. I retired as a Chief of Police and now own a private investigations and security consulting agency.

After I retired, I attended seminary and for almost fifteen years Karin and I have had the joy of serving as missionaries to help care for missionaries all across Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. I have worked a great deal with them in the area of security and contingency planning. We enjoy our service in a local church with whom I will begin serving as a Deacon in January. I love to teach and do so whenever I have an opportunity.

I enjoy fishing and hunting, horseback riding and I’m a ‘ham’ radio operator since 1971! (WB8KMP)

Most of all I love to be with family whether it is babysitting grandchildren or travel.

Every moment is but a wisp of smoke through a keyhole and cannot be grasped and held so that it might stay longer than the brief time it is allotted. So I inhale deeply, as the moments go past and drink as deeply with each precious memory that is so fragile it can be lost in an instant.

I love to read and study the Bible and I enjoy reading mysteries the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. I have authored a book on policing in a new century during times of great threat. It is due to be published this winter. yogi-bear-n-boo-boo

Rather than an epitaph engraved on a cold stone over an empty grave; I much prefer to have a message written on the hearts of those I love and leave behind that says simply: Ross, He loves the Lord, his wife and his family. He tried his best and is a trophy to God’s grace.

Of Trains, Radios, Fishing Lures and Time…

Dad's pocket watch    As of this moment, my third daughter is in with her OB checking on her health and the health of a granddaughter I have not met yet. Her husband, my son-in-law went to jail today. I’m glad he did. It was his first day in his career as a Deputy Sheriff/Corrections Officer! Earlier today, I had a conversation with a fellow who, following in his grandfathers, fathers and uncle’s footsteps, he collects toy trains. He pays top dollar for toy train sets that used to circle every Christmas tree or glimmer in the hopes of little boys as they decided what Lionel train they wanted for themselves. Yet, he worries because as collectable as the old trains are, there is a growing fear among collectors that if the interest does not re-emerge for the small gauge track with the real looking train cars, they will be stuck with thousands of miles of track that lead nowhere.

Then there was a conversation I had over the weekend with a man who buys up old “Ham” radio equipment, not so much for re-furbishing because with the new digital markets the newer radios are smaller, lighter, cheaper, better sound, overall quality and focus on replacement not repair. So why buy up the old stuff? A sense of nostalgia for when times were, in B.C. terminology (before computers) slower, calmer, and even quieter brings those who remember those times looking for a connection to the past. There were times when people on “Ham” radio would Ragchew – in fact, yours truly has a certificate to show that I am a bona-fide ‘Ragchewer’. To prevent questions of my oral hygiene, I’ll explain that to ragchew means to spend time on the radio talking for fairly lengthy periods to someone they do not know, who they will probably never meet and may never talk to again. So taken were they with their long conversations about practically anything and most often nothing at all, that they would exchange post cards, called QSL cards – QSL being the abbreviated Morse Code for ‘confirm contact.’ They usually include the date and time of the conversation, which is recorded for posterity!    The card to the right is an example, showing the author hard at work. QSL

What has become of those who build a small city with mountains and tunnels, with curves and bends that bring the roaring train across the plywood over top of the billiard table which was used for at least two weeks after the Christmas it was dragged into the house, but now proudly holds the Lionel set including the water tower and depot? Where are the all-night ragchewers that are also running phone-patch traffic for maritime mobiles (ships at sea) or missionaries in the heart of the Amazon, even for scientific expeditions at South America?

The phone patch traffic has gone the way of the local telephone operator with the advent of cellular phones, sat-phones, internet and SKYPE. Most “Hams” these days are techies that work only 2 meters or 440 MHz on repeater systems. Thankfully many are volunteering on Tornado Spotter teams and rescue and emergency communications back-up. Now the all-nighter is spent on FACEBOOK or IM-ing someone with texts about the steak they had for dinner. Sure, I know that ragchewing conversations were never going to be the upcoming agenda for MENSA discussions but, come-on… rather than go to some recent FACEBOOK or texting sites; I can get a more intelligent conversation on a Saturday night at Wal-Mart with the unarmed manikin that doubles as a security camera!

The leisure time activities of old have been replaced by twenty-four hour news, text alerts for whatever style of news you desire, computer games that will allow you to land on Mars in virtual reality or draw down on Zombies that are dragging their way across your 87 inch plasma screen with surround-sound so realistic the neighbors have called the cops twice thinking there was a real gun battle at your house and your closest neighbor is two farms down the road about three-quarters of a mile! This is quite different than the good ol’ days of uncle and nephew leaning into the crackling noise of the speaker to try to make out the call sign of that maritime mobile that was looking for a phone patch into Ohio. Gone are the days when, just before the ‘test pattern’ came on to the black and white TV screen there was the footage of a fluttering American flag and background music playing the Star Spangled Banner as the station signed-off for the night. It was night, time for rest to not be haunted by the cable news network talking heads going over the same discussion they have continued nightly for more than a week!test pattern

Oh, yes; I love to be able to pull out my Droid phone and check email as I wait for the plane to take-off or jump on to FACEBOOK and see my grandchildren’s most recent pictures. And at home… the Night Before Christmas might end up re-written “And mother on FACEBOOK and me with my Kindle, had just checked out a NETFLIX film about reindeer…” As much as the nostalgia side of my brain yearns for the simpler, quieter times; I love the electronic toys, the ease of communicating and the instant everything that the Internet brings. So what is the answer to the conundrum?

It must, and I would underscore must come down to Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” If ever there was a time in our world’s history that people must be admonished to “Be still” it is now. The whirling sounds of computer fans, the clacking of keyboards, the incessant ringing of the cellular phones all bring a cacophony of noise that can drown out the soft sounds of the Holy Spirit directing your heart. So how do we find that delicate balance between the quiet space with the Spirit and thriving in a breakneck paced world that can be exciting and full of great things?

The answer lies in the remainder of verse ten of Psalm forty-six. God states, “I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted above the earth.” If we truly allow ourselves to see God as higher than any President or King; if we truly see Him as above anything in nature, we will find a way to give Him the time  due to Him. I dislike using the following example but let us assume for this one analogy that ,whoever is the President of the United States at the time this happens is THE one President in all history, or yet to come, that you would like to talk to… If the President of the United States calls you and says, “It is very important that we meet every morning for the next two weeks for about thirty minutes each morning…” Chances are you or I would move everything else off our schedules to make certain we were free for that time period. Well, the Sovereign God, Creator and Master of the Universe has told you that He desires to have that thirty minutes with you every morning for the next two weeks (as a start). Will you being willing to at least put down your sports section of the newspaper or turn off Fox and Friends for thirty minutes for the Master Ruler of the Universe?

The best part about ‘giving up’ time like that for God is that YOU are the one that will receive the blessing for it. You will come away refreshed, encouraged, and yes, even the rest of your day will change because you took the opportunity to spend quality time with God.

Someone mentioned to me that, they agree with taking the time with God but, they have their devotional material on their computer. Well, if that is where you want to start reading it, Okay; but after you have read it, switch that screen off and let the Holy Spirit talk to your spirit for the rest of the time. You won’t regret it and, believe it or not, the computer switch will allow you to turn it back on again when you need it.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted above the nations. I will be exalted above earth.” – Not enough ‘time’ to get quiet with God? The One who created Time, will give you all you need. If you cannot find a way to set the time aside yourself, God may do it for you and it may not really be ‘convenient’ if He has to choose what will make you slow down and listen.

 

The NSA – Cyber Info – and We the People

So, America, step up and do the job that your acceptance of citizenry in this great nation demands that you do.

NSA Fort Meade Md
NSA Fort Meade Md

The comedic circles have picked up on the humor that is found within such debacles as the recent NSA report. You no longer have to pay for that expensive data back-up, the NSA is doing it for you, no charge! 

Claiming that the NSA is gathering information from cellphone services and the internet on Americans, a 27 year old new civilian employee (less than 3 months on the job according to sources) approached British newspapers and the story spread very quickly across the sea. Many Americans are, however, concerned that the Administration cannot be trusted with the information that is being gathered. And this comes as a surprise? But whose responsibility is it in the first place to maintain your privacy?

Much has happened to strengthen the feeling that the ‘government’ cannot be trusted to protect Americans from the right to be secure in our homes and our holdings and that we should fear that the government will over reach its authority. The IRS scandal that is currently going on makes it seem apparent that this Administration will use any information or authority within its reach to seek out political ‘enemies’ and destroy them. That is the key reason that this mining of information from cyberspace, whether by cellphone interception or tracking information purposely sent over the internet is so unwelcome to so many. How will the Administration use it?

Citizens immediately run and grab hold of the 4th Amendment claiming illegal search and seizure; confident in their belief that we as Americans should be free from such fear. This is true but in this particular case, the Fourth Amendment, I contend, does not apply.

There are three points upon which I base this thesis: First, No citizen of the United States should expect to have any semblance of privacy over information purposely sent through electronic media that is not hard-wired or any information purposely disseminated across cyberspace including FACEBOOK, Twitter etc. If an American citizen chooses to utilize the convenience of such a tool they do so with the caveat that any information spread by these electronic means is not private and cannot be ever expected of being so.

 Once that information is sent into cyberspace, it is available to anyone who can find it.


Fellow Americans, you have a choice. If you do not want the government (ours, theirs or whomever’s) to mine your cyber-speak for intelligence purposes, then do not use a soft-wire, cellular, wireless, internet driven or cyberspace transmitted communications devices. The Fourth Amendment applies only where we, as citizens, can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In this genre of communication, there is no such expectation. A nice ink pen, a comfortable 20 weight stationary paper, and a U.S. postage stamp will not only serve to communicate your thoughts and ideas, it will do so with all the clarity and personalty that you could want and it comes protected not only by the Fourth Amendment but by federal statutes such as 18 USC 1708 that will garner the malefecent actor a fine and up to five years in prison.

Second, in a 1986 Supreme Court Decision involving similar issues, the court allowed that: aerial surveillance over your home or business is not required to have a fourth amendment warrant for search and seizure. Americans have no expectation of privacy from the space above their homes or businesses.

The following is an excerpt from the NY Times article dated May 20, 1986:

AERIAL SEARCHES OF FENCED AREAS UPHELD BY COURT

Special to the New York Times  Published: May 20, 1986

WASHINGTON, May 19The Supreme Court ruled today that government investigators do not need warrants to conduct aerial surveillance of areas that any pilot could legally fly over, including the fenced yards of private homes.

The Court voted 5 to 4 in each of two cases to uphold warrantless aerial surveillance both of a suburban, fenced backyard where the police suspected marijuana was being grown and of a highly secured Dow Chemical Company complex in connection with possible air pollution violations.

The Court ruled in each case that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures did not apply to government investigators who use airplanes to observe or photograph places over which any private pilot might legally fly. Privacy Is Questionable and in the case of cyberspace, when Americans willfully place their own information out there floating in bits and bytes and nano bytes and terra bytes; well, still expecting privacy simply bites!

Third, American citizens  have abdicated their authority to others such as faceless PACs and lobbyists.

Americans are eager to say ‘the government did this’ or ‘the government did that’ and well, perhaps in one sense that is true. Certain people in the government did do whatever is being stated. But, it was not the government that did ‘it’ because in America, We the people… are the government. What is done by people in the government happens because we as the government continue to allow it. So, you say: “That’s what my Representative or Congressman is for, he or she should be handling it for me!” Pay close attention to the word, representative. The people who have stuck their neck out to take this position as a congressman need the support of the people, folks who are willing to call or write with their thoughts and concerns. Until Americans get actively involved and call the Administration to task for the IRS scandal, the Benghazi cover-up and ask: “Why there is no special prosecutor named to investigate the murder of Christopher Stevens?” there will only continue to be dissatisfaction and mistrust of the government.

Three simple points that make it clear that as far as the NSA is concerned, they are doing one hell of a hard job and we should be supporting them as well as watching for those who would abuse the privileges. Those who do their job well deserve our thanks. Those who abuse our trust deserve prison. When the NSA director lies in a Congressional hearing and says ‘No’ we don’t gather information on American citizens, he deserves to lose his position, at a minimum. There are times and places for secrecy, that we all understand. Secrecy is part of  how we protect our nation and there are appropriate avenues for sharing what needs to be and should be shared. That hearing was not, perhaps, the appropriate place to ask that question in the first place.

So, America, step up and do the job that your acceptance of citizenship in this great nation demands that you do.

We the People… That’s us. We must be about the task. A great President once called upon his fellow Americans to “…highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  Shall it?

We-the-People

SCAM and FACEBOOK an unholy attack

Rev. Ross L. Riggs, DMin.   Director    Security Consulting Investigations, LLC

                                                                                         and  Global Security Consulting Investigations  GSCI21

Your premier private investigations and consulting team across the US and worldwide

SCI has posted blogs and published articles all around the world and none have reported on so diabolical a scheme. This one is aimed directly at Christian communities, targeting pastors and their affiliated congregations. Church members have begun to see FACEBOOK posts that look pretty much just like their pastor’s FACEBOOK page. But now, on the page, is a heart wrenching plea “from the pastor” to help him and his family pay a looming debt. Recently, in NE Ohio where this was done, an elderly single lady in the church removed all but $3.00 of her life savings and completed the transfer to the “pastor” she loved, at least she thought the $4,000 would go to her pastor and his family. Instead it went into thin air. (The $3.00 was just enough to keep her account open.)    This lady has no family and the church to which she belongs is a very poor church financially. We are trusting God to help her regain her only means of support. Reports have been made with the local police, FACEBOOK, Western Union and IC3 will be contacted also.

If there are people, groups, churches, or businesses interested in helping SCI create a fund to help, we need to hear from you.

Go to: www.security-consulting.us/help to pledge a donation today. You will receive directions on how to forward your donation so that will be used to direct the funds to her savings institution.

Note: Names of victims have been withheld for privacy concerns.

Security Consulting Investigations, LLC is fully licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety/Homeland Security PISG Unit, Columbus, Ohio License #200921001465   

SCI is fully insured by West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, West Bend WI

Contact the director by phone at 330-956-9561 or director@security-consulting.us