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Social media & politics

12 Oct

I have been seeing a lot of political commentary posted to Facebook, as well as receiving a fair amount of political based commentary on things I post to my timeline. It’s made me realize something.

A lot of people are pretty clueless about how our political system works, not that I’m an expert on it.

Many people truly do not understand that the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) was not passed by the President. Presidents cannot legislate, so unless it was an executive order, he cannot be the one responsible. The ones responsible are the senators and representatives in Congress who passed it. The only direct action on that health care bill that was an option for the president was to veto it when it landed on his desk afterwards.

The government shut down was not orchestrated by the president either. That was the direct result of Congress’ inability to compromise on a budget. They knew it would happen when a budget was not agreed upon. They knew the deadline too.  In private industry, we call that “incompetent” and “irresponsible”.

I understand that there is a lot of conflicting ideology around the budget.  There is the rising debt and the continual stream of tax credits and government hand outs to a wide assortment of corporations and industries, let alone foreign countries’ aid packages.  There is the Affordable Health Care Act, with its confusing assortment of rules and regulations, as well as rampant rumors that affordable is the last thing it will be in practice.  If half of it is true, I will be destitute and homeless within two years of it going into effect.  Average citizens, such as myself, are left without answers about what is actually true and what is just one more piece of fear-mongering propaganda being tossed about by the anti-healthcare faction.

Most of all, I’m seeing an increase in dissatisfaction with the federal government.  I’m also seeing an increase in fear of the government and a perception of it as a totalitarian force.  I hear more  about secession than I would have ever dreamed of hearing too.  I look back to history, to the antebellum era, and I’m seeing a frightening parallel.

If you don’t like it, whatever the it is, do something about it. Write your congressmen & women. Call them. Don’t vote for their re-election. Work to get them recalled if necessary. Ignore the continual and useless online petitions.

Whether you like or hate Obama, he can’t be re-elected. That is courtesy of an actual amendment to the constitution, the same thing that a lot of people have been ranting about lately.  It’s the 22nd amendment.    That means that Obama is on his way out with the end of this term. In the meantime, we’ve still got a corrupt & incompetent Congress…being re-elected over and over.

Maybe we need to limit terms as a senator or representative too, and put an end to the career politicians.  Of course, that could be a problem.

We’d have to have the same ones we want to put an end to vote to pass it.

Right now, it’s a great job.  You get to vote on your own benefits and pay.  You can take off time as you please.  You can take bribes and distribute favors.  If people don’t like what you do or don’t do,  you simply point your finger at the POTUS and pass the buck.

So, give up on the useless online petitions–they are not going to do a darned thing.  Give up the chain emails and shares and likes–they don’t do anything either.  Neither do blog posts like this one, other than to urge others to take some sort of useful action.

DO write and call Congress. Be loud.  Be persistent.

DO vote!  It does make a difference.  Voter apathy bought this Congress, folks!

If you don’t like what Congress is doing, we have a system in place to do something about it.  Use it.

Shutdown Solutions?

3 Oct

Face it, no matter how hard we try to NOT think about it, we’re all faced with the shut down of the federal government.    Probably the ones feeling it the least are the same people responsible for not agreeing on a compromise for the budget.  While those who are not members of Congress lack the fine detail of why there has been no agreement in our lame duck Congress for a budget, one single fact has become quite obvious to everyone.

Congress failed to do its duty to America and its citizens.

In my eyes, its the equivalent of treason because it goes way past inefficiency and lack of sincere concern.  The shut down isn’t merely a mild inconvenience, it is putting America at genuine risk.

All because they can’t get their own way?

Everybody wants to point their finger at Obama as being the one responsible for everything from the Affordable Health Care Act to the economy.  The reality is that the executive branch does not legislate.  Unless the action was the result of an executive order, it was the result of legislation passed by Congress and then, only then, signed into law by the president.  That means that the so-called Obamacare plan was enacted in a lawful manner by Congress, whether you or I either one actually like it or wanted it.  Our representatives and senators are the responsible parties, not Obama.  If you hate it, hate them.  If you like it, like them.  All Obama did or could do was advise during the legislative stage and sign it into law after Congress had brewed and stewed over it.

So with that understood…understand this.  The government shut down came about because Congress could not reach an agreement on a budget.  It wasn’t the supreme court’s judges or the governor of California or the prime minister of the United Kingdom’s fault, and it’s not Obama’s either.  The responsible parties are the ones that you elected, right in  your home state, and they likely have offices near your home so that they can theoretically keep in touch with their constituents.

You can believe me that I know the name of our two senators and my representative, and I know their email addresses too.  I also know exactly how long it takes for me to receive their form responses to any comments I email them–1-4 months.  Do I think they are particularly responsive to their constituency in this day and age?

Hell no.

Will I vote for any of them ever again.

Double that hell  no.

But you know what?  Incompetent job performance, which is what has resulted in the government shut down, should result in termination.  That creates a bit of a dilemma.  Some of those in Washington probably put sincere effort into trying to do their job, but were hopelessly outgunned by the majority who were refusing to do so.  With so much incompetency though, we are stuck with a blanket solution in order to have a plausible solution at all.

I think a government shut down should have serious repercussions for the ones responsible for causing it.  Things like:

  • No member of Congress should receive pay or any other benefits during a government shutdown, including retirement pay, medical care, per diem, etc.
  • No congressional support staff should receive pay or any other benefits during  a government shut down, and cannot be coerced into performing their duties during the shut down.
  • No member of Congress or congressional support staff shall receive retroactive pay or benefits for the duration of the government shut down.
  • 30 days after the initial day of a government shut down, all senators and representatives will be facing elections in their home states to maintain their seat or be replaced for the duration of their term.  That would at least give us a new Congress that might get something done, as well as reducing the likelihood of any shut down occurring to begin with.  We all know how these career politicians like to protect their cushy jobs.

When the discomfort of shut downs are affecting Congress as much as they are everyone else, perhaps they will work a little harder to try and do their job.  Besides, if they aren’t getting paid or enjoying the many perks of their position, we might save a bit on the budget and make a shut down worthwhile.  And the best part of a shut down? We would have a national opportunity to clean house and get a new crew in that just might do the job the way they are supposed to.

Can we say “congressional job fair” folks?

America’s Religions

16 Sep

I think of myself as a typical American.  I’m nothing exceptional at all.  I’m a bit older than some, and  younger than others.

So moving away from the age debate, let’s get onto another hot topic.

Religion.

We’ve seen religion made a huge issue lately.  It’s likely been one before in American history, but I’m not a historical expert.  I’m also not a religious expert.  Or a political one.  Since I’m an average American, I really don’t see myself as an “expert” in anything.

But I do have opinions and I can be annoyed anyhow.

I have a very eclectic collection of friends and acquaintances.  They have very diverse backgrounds and cultures, even though the majority are Americans by nationality.  For the sake of this post, I’m only talking about the American ones, since I’m also referring to American society and culture.

With such a diverse collection of people, I see and hear a lot of comments about religion.  Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me one way or another.  It certainly does not influence me in terms of my religious beliefs or practices.  I’m quite comfortable with mine, and while they will continue to evolve, they are not going to go through any radical conversion to some new religion at this point in my life.  I think that usually happens when we are younger and still formulating our world view and the concept of our own mortality.

So when does it bother me?

I don’t like to have other people’s religious views crammed down my throat, especially when accompanied by the “I’ll kill you and that will change your mind” ideology.  I’m also not someone who feels a need to convert anyone else, nor do I wave my religious views around like a banner on a summer’s day.  My opinion is that the whole issue boils down to “all roads lead to Rome.”  I can agreeably accept any religious views that don’t include hurting other humans as part of their practice or ritual.

Notice that hurting other humans bit.

Now we have all encountered those who are “witnessing” from various fundamentalist Christian groups.  I understand that this is part of their responsibilities according to the religious doctrines they follow.  Most will accept the “thanks, that’s nice, but I already have mine” very courteously, especially when their answer is given in a courteous manner.  There are a few sects that practice rather aggressive methods of proselytizing to strangers at their homes.  I’m less enthusiastic about that practice.

I have never had a non-Christian religious practitioner come knocking at my door or hand me a tract.  Have you?

I really do not like the Christian groups that picket funerals–I don’t care what religion they are or practice, it is not an appropriate time to picket anything.  They seem to enjoy causing emotional distress to the grieving because of the publicity it draws.  It’s one case of negative publicity that seems to benefit someone.

But we’ll let them go for now.

I’ve read religious conservative statements that advocate returning prayer to school as a method of teaching morality to youth.  I have a  news flash for them.  A single 5 minute prayer at school each day is not going to make anyone more moral nor is it going to make them religious.  Morality and religion happen at home and in life.  Besides, who decides what prayer will be said?  What if the chosen prayer is not one from YOUR religion?

And then, there are the “other” religions.  We all hear about the Big Three: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.  We hear plenty about the various sects of those three too.  There are the Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Pagans, etc. too.  Even those get more attention with a label attached than the most rabid and often nastiest toned ones I have encountered lately.

Those happen to be Atheists and the even larger, “Church of” Science.  The two have often been allies lately, as they seem to have a single goal in mind.

The removal of religion from America entirely.

They do have some good points.  Religions tend to divide, not unify, a population with diverse cultures and a broad spectrum of religions.  Practitioners do get caught up in the little “My God is better than your God” little turf wars.  Historically, they have often escalated into actual armed conflicts.  It seems to be one of the core causes of the continual conflicts in the Middle East too.  More people are killed in its name than die from any other cause.  It is quite obvious that religion has some problems.

But these rabid proselytizing anti-religion groups aren’t exactly being endearing either.  They seem to have twisted the “my God is better than your God” bit into a whole new cry: “Your God is dead and I know it, so I’m better than all of you!”

I watch all the flaming going on, and it seems that the only thing that would make them happy is to do away with all public examples of religion.  Churches and cathedrals, mosques and synagogues…they’d all be plain cinderblock buildings with a sign over the door with letters less than 3″ tall, as though you were visiting a VD clinic.  Priests wouldn’t wear the collars that make everyone stand up straight and stop swearing, and nuns wouldn’t be allowed to wear any part of a habit in public either.

Christmas would become “Generic Winter Holiday.”  Easter would be “Spring Break.” Thanksgiving? Just “Harvest Festival”.  Memorial Day? It too has some religious overtones, along with military ones, so obviously that would be re-designated “Beginning of Summer Holiday.”  Labor Day, with no religion attached, might retain its current name.  Halloween would be subject to suspicion, but without recent religion attached to it by the majority of citizens, its consumerist ideology might let it stand.

There would be re-writing of history too, to sanitize it of religious overtones.  Nevermind that many historical events did have strong religious overtones, as the entire war was focused on the idea of “My God is better than your God.”

All of that for political correctness?

To me, anti-religion is just as rabid as religions are when they are at their worst.

It was wrong to kidnap Native American children and send them to boarding schools where they were robbed of their culture, language, and religion and given the “gift of Christianity”.  It’s just as wrong to do that to anyone else, even in the name of anti-religion as the new religion.  It was wrong for the federal government to deny tribes the right to have ceremonies and practice their religions for most of the 20th century.  It’s just as wrong to do that to the rest of American society.

I grew up in a multi-cultural family.  We didn’t practice the same religion as our classmates and neighbors did.  I enjoyed learning about Judaism and their holidays.  I was curious about all of the Christian denominations and their religious practices too.   I’m not Catholic, yet I too was terrified by nuns in their spooky long black habits and that head dress they wore.  I still stand straight and clean up my conversation when conversing with  or even nearby a preacher, priest, or nun.  I’m also respectful of shamans and medicine men/women.  I enjoy learning about rituals and beliefs.  I like hearing the stories too.

But just because I read the Koran or the Book of Mormon or even participate in a ritual does not mean that I have become a convert of that religion.  Just because I am respectful of someone else’s belief system does not mean that I advocate it as a lifestyle.

Respect and courtesy are important traits of a civilized society.  This respect and courtesy means that many people, from many cultures and many religions, can live and work together harmoniously.  That’s what we need.  We don’t need another doctrine to separate groups of people from one another, to divide them and put them in conflict with each other.

I may think it is extremely foolish for a couple to spend a vast amount of money that could be put to better use in purchasing a home and getting established in life (at least in MY opinion, right?) on their wedding and reception.  That does NOT give me the right to go to their wedding and reception, standing around and being nasty or waving a sign pointing out their foolishness.  It does not give the government the right to forbid them from doing so either.

Heck, I might even think that marriage is a ridiculously antiquated monogamous ceremony that is in opposition to our biological and natural sexual and social needs and object to a couple’s marriage on those grounds alone.  Does that give me the right to cause a scene at the wedding? To forbid it?

Wake up, America.  We don’t need more rabid and inflammatory religious or anti-religious sects.  We need the concept of courtesy to lead us towards harmonious respect and co-existence.

Oh, and for the fundamentalists that I have undoubtedly offended…if you are a Christian, see A.  If you are an Atheist, see B.

A) What would Jesus do?  Jesus did not advocate violence of any kind, nor was he ever cruel or rude to others.  His original doctrine was one of kindness and teaching, of giving and not taking.  He had no church, no fancy car, and financial success didn’t happen either.  He never built a church building and never took up the sword either.  He sure never cut someone’s hair,  jailed anyone or took away their personal property because they didn’t agree with him on religion.

B)  If religions are all based on the concept of an imaginary friend, then why are you so adamant about the whole thing?  Do you spend that much time and effort in the eradication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Do you even THINK about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  How about Rainbow Brite?  Strawberry Shortcake? The Gingerbread Man?  Star Wars? Star Trek?  Heck, all of Hollywood is based on imaginary friends, so I guess it’s also the equivalent of Vatican City!

People Watching

7 Sep

I am a people watcher.  I notice a lot of things about people, and some of them are very subtle cues about their psyche given away by their body language.  When I worked in fields such as corrections and law enforcement, it was very useful.  When I was younger and lacked knowledge about the frequency of people having less than honorable intentions, it was what saved my silly butt when my brain failed to use what is called “common sense”.  People watching is a lifelong habit.

As time as moved forward, the internet was not only born, but grew up and out, swallowing our world.  It has given us access to the thoughts and comments from people from all over the world.  In many cases, it has removed the economic barriers that had previously isolated certain sectors of society from each other.

So what does that mean?

It means that I have the ability to regularly observe the public behavior and comments of those people born into a life of privilege.  You know the sort–their vacations cost more than my house’s total purchase price.  They have never experienced actual hunger, been homeless, or been worried about whether their utilities were going to be shut off before they could scrape together the money to pay the bill.  They have no idea what robbing Peter to pay Paul even means in terms of daily life.  They can have personal trainers, multiple cars, multiple vacations each year, etc.  They also have the ability to go “find” themselves and put their principles ahead of survival.  

When they were graduating (or their children) from high school, their biggest worry was not trying to find a way to pay for college, but rather whether they would be accepted into their first choice college.

But that’s okay.  It is nice that some people can enjoy a life of privilege, and if they inherited it from their grandparents or great-grandparents, well, lucky for them.  It’s hard to not envy that financial state when you are struggling, but I really don’t bear them animosity.  What does torque my psyche is that these people with  a life of privilege feel that they not only have the right, but the obligation, to pass judgement on the rest of the world.

People usually do not choose to be poor or financially struggling.  No one enjoys being hungry, homeless, sick, etc.  Our natures encourage us to try to avoid those states.  They, which in this case, includes me, may have made some poor choices or been the recipient of an unfortunate series of events that lead them to that state.  From there, circumstances can snowball to other issues, with a wide range of observable results.  These things can happen to people who are intelligent, moral, hard-working, and considerate of others.  They may even have a very good education to go with it.

It’s sad but true, money talks in this country.  Without money, if you are sick, you will die, the same as anyone who is poor and sick in a third world country.  Some areas have better indigent health care than others.  In Mississippi, if you do not have children at home, you are unlikely to receive any assistance with any medical needs, from medication to hospitalizations. The state does not consider keeping their population healthy to be financially feasible or a good investment, apparently. It means lower costs for the elderly too–Mississippians tend to die younger than most Americans, reducing the number of years that the elderly receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, etc.  Sounds great on paper, if you are one of the privileged category that can afford good housing, good nutrition,  lifelong insurance and private elderly care.  Poor people tend to believe that they are “lucky” to have minimal health care for their children.  The new national health care plan is painted to be the tool of the devil himself, an affront to the very fabric of American society.

Why do these people of privilege believe that they are responsible for passing judgement on every overweight person they see, everyone who is struggling to make a life for themselves, everyone who asks for help, and everyone else that they may observe in the course of a day?  Who gave them that right?

Somewhere along the way, the capitalism that we all treasure became a corporate based economy that has little to do with the concept of “free enterprise” and a whole lot to do with monopoly and control.  It’s not really capitalism anymore, more like corporatism.  Now we are told that corporations even enjoy many of the rights of a person.

Wonderful, right?

Not until a corporation dies on the battlefield or in a hospital bed of a curable disease.

In most cases, those with a life of privilege have acquired it via the corporatism society we live in today, not due to extraordinary efforts or great inventions. The sad thing is that with the rise of corporatism, we’ve lost compassion.  We illustrated it with the reality show industry featuring Donald Trump pointing his finger and stating “You are fired!”

There is no compassion from corporations.  It’s nothing more than the cogs of a wheel that bring the downsizing from the board of directors to the employee being laid off, all pre-planned like a paint by number painting and never seasoned by compassion, to give the dreaded pink slip to someone who is going home to his or her family with the worst news imaginable.

Even the safety net of the extended family is gone, also courtesy of corporatism and its demise rushed by the corporatism that fuels Hollywood’s representation of society in films and television.  We are now like a nation of three year olds grabbing everything they can reach and shouting “MINE!” at the top of their lungs.

Corporatism has convinced us that we need those “toys” and that he who dies with the most toys wins.  Too many people are working too many hours to buy toys so that they look as though they are living the life of privilege, when instead they could be enjoying the luxury of a real life with enough.  It’s made us a nation of people who trample over other people just to grab one more toy too.

Did you think Hunger Games was a depressing book?  It’s not that much different than the corporate career many face.  Most “die” early on, doomed to a life in the mail room, secretarial pool, or being fired.  A few climb to the next level, if they are greedy enough and willing to stomp on enough other people to do so.  At each level, more die and fewer rise to the next level.  Then, finally, there is a handful of “winners” who get the prize.

I think we need a whole lot more compassion, respect, and consideration for others and to stop entertaining those in positions of privilege with our envy and efforts to rise to their positions.  We need to learn what enough really means.  We need to remove the concept of false shortages and monopoly from our economy and create an air of plenty and competence.  We need to reward excellence and despise greed.

I can dream, right?

Sometimes, I wonder how Gene Roddenberry’s world came into being, what kinds of growing pains it experienced before money went away.  What measure did they use to bargain with others then?

Spittin’ in the wind

12 Aug

Well, the cable company was even less patient than I’d hoped.  They hit us this morning with a cut off.

Thankfully, courtesy of the donations we’d received, we were able to pay the minimum payment to keep it on for now.  So…even though we were $75 short of paying the whole bill, we have internet for a while longer.

We didn’t get much response, compared to the number of listeners we have.  I guess I would have been inspired by more response, even if the response came without a donation, but…that’s the way it is.  We haven’t even gotten any response on the poll we posted on a previous post on this blog.

I really need a bit of encouragement.  So does Greg.  

In the middle of all of this, our little feist was failing fast after another stroke, and she passed away early Saturday morning.  Granted, she was very good at annoying people, and not very nice to most of them, but we loved the little dog anyhow.  The show Saturday evening was tough for Greg on the heels of digging his little buddy’s grave.  She was a “daddy’s girl” dog, and they were especially close.  Despite having other dogs, we are still depressed over losing her.  Our dogs are like our four legged children, I guess.

But…with all of that aside, I’m done begging for donations.  It was a very difficult thing for me to do anyhow, and I didn’t like it.  Beggars also have a tendency to suddenly become invisible, and that’s the last thing I wanted.  We’re going to have to consider alternatives to the donation method of funding, that’s obvious.  We’re exploring those avenues now, and it will likely result in advertising, sponsors or pay-per-listen for the podcasts.   Maybe something will come up, but I’m leaving that to the Universe.  If we’re meant to stay on the air, we’ll find funding somewhere.  If not, well…we won’t be.

It’s kind of like spitting into the wind, you never know what will happen for sure.  You might get a face full, and then again…maybe you won’t.

In the meantime, the next month’s worth of shows are coming to you courtesy of Steven and Elaine, our benefactors.  I’m very grateful that they donated.

A cry for help

7 Aug

Sad stories are a dime a dozen these days.  It seems that everyone is telling one.  That’s part of why I hate to start on ours.

But, it is necessary, there is a lot at stake.

For years, Greg & I have paid for the expenses of the radio programs we host.  We have had some very much appreciated donations along the way, but the truth is…they are few and far between.  Years of donations, if lumped together, would cover a single month of expenses.  We don’t spend a lot of time soliciting donations though, and we certainly don’t hire someone to do it for us, unlike major charities.

The truth of the matter is, despite having a new series of shows featuring Native American writers scheduled to start on August 13th, we’re looking at it all coming to an end in less than two weeks.

We are looking at a shut off notice for non-payment for internet access if we don’t come up with $120 by then.  We couldn’t pay the bill last month.

To us, it looks like a vast number.  We’ve had our fair share of “bad luck” lately.  Greg had a major heart attack in the spring, resulting in a long hospital stay, as well as expensive medication, weekly blood tests, and regular doctor visits—all of which are financially challenging.  We couldn’t afford his medicine last month.  We couldn’t afford mine either, but I did have a month’s worth of one medication on hand.

We’ve also had mechanical break downs.  Our primary vehicle is broke down and its tags are now expired, rendering it undrivable on two fronts.  Our lawn mower sputtered out.  We’re having electrical problems with the house.  The mini-van we’re driving is worn out, the a/c doesn’t work, and the suspension system soon has me in agony.  Our badly needed all-in-one scanner/printer/fax machine died this week.

Everything has drained our resources.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re treading water as fast as we can.  But there is no choice, we have to have donations or we’re facing going off the air.  We just can’t cover this bill.

Here are some numbers, just to show how many people do listen.

Last week, on the Dawn of Shades, we had over 260,000 listeners log in to listen to the program.  It was another record setting audience, but that’s just about every week.  We seem to have more and more listeners each week, and that tells me that I must be doing something right.

Greg has about 400,000 listeners log in each Saturday to listen to the Voice of the People.  He must be doing something right too.

That means that roughly 660,000 people are listening to us each week.  Free.  More people listen by downloading or streaming the archived show, and others listen when the shows are re-run on the network.  It’s all free, too.

We have no sponsors, no advertising revenue, and we’re not paid by the station either.  We not only don’t make a living doing it, we don’t even make a starving doing it—we receive no funding from anyone to support what we do.  Because of the station’s rules, we are not even able to ask for donations on the air.  We can only do so through our blogs and websites.

We pay for the radio programs.  We do occasionally ask for donations, but we have never counted on them before.  Right now, it’s critical that we get those necessary donations though.  Even though we’re crippled by being restricted from asking on the air, we are asking all of our most loyal listeners to “show us some love” by helping us stay on the air.

We aren’t asking for a lot.  We know that a lot of our listeners can’t afford to donate and are struggling to just stay afloat too.  All we’re asking is for you to give up the equivalent of ONE fast food meal, just $5 or $10, and show us some support for what we do as an independent media outlet.  If you can afford it, donate more to make up for all of those listeners who are living on fixed incomes or can’t afford even a trip to a fast food joint.  Even a movie usually costs more.  Besides, your waist will not mind exchanging that cheap burger for a couple of hours of fun, interesting, and upbeat programming each week.

It’s easy to make a donation through Paypal.  Just go to www.Paypal.com and click on “send money.”  Then put in the amount, and my email address, giascott at exogenynetwork.com (just replace the at with an @ and eliminate the spaces—spammers are everywhere!  Please don’t wait until the last minute—it takes about a week to move the money through Paypal and then into the bank to pay the bill.

Independent media outlets are important.  Programs you like and enjoy are also important.  Please support Exogeny Network’s programs today.

Red Dog and fireworks

30 Jun

I have talked about Red Dog a lot over the last dozen years.  She has been an important part of my life.  Right now, as I write this, she’s just outside the kitchen door, protesting being outside.  She prefers her usual activity, also known as “Occupy Floor”.  It’s a movement she believes in devoutly, as long as it is in my vicinity.

Red Dog has a strange personality.  Most people, on observing her for short periods of time, regard her as “very loyal.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doubting her loyalty at all, at least as long as buttered toast isn’t in the equation.  On the other hand, since I know her very well, I know it’s more than loyalty.  It’s a severe case of separation anxiety.  It is her job to protect me, and that means she has to be with me at all times.  She has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that she is with me.

On one occasion, we were visiting friends.  She was young then, less than two years old, and she was more than a little suspicious of new people and situations still.  She lacked the confidence that more experience would give her.  We were in a crowded living room, and all of a sudden, I realized that she was panicking.  She was on the opposite side of the room, with people and furniture blocking her access to me, even though I wasn’t more than a dozen feet away.  I tried to get people to move to give her a clear path, warning them that she was panicking, but people who are not accustomed to the level of devotion she exhibited weren’t accustomed to dealing with panic either.  She collected herself, then sailed in a single leap over a coffee table and leather sofa to land beside me, managing somehow to avoid crashing into the stairs beside me.  Needless to say, after that, when I moved, she tended to move immediately as well.  The people who saw it also realized that when I said to move, that maybe they should too.

On another occasion, I was at the house of a man I was dating.  He was hosting a seafood boil with his neighbor, his brother.  There was going to be a lot of people and children, and I knew that supervising her was not going to be easy.  The solution was to leave her inside the house.  Unfortunately, she was not in agreement and decided that escape was critically important.  She exited through a window.  It just would have been nice if it had been an open window.

Obviously, she prefers to be at my side.  She has developed more restraint over the years, but she still is very unhappy at being left behind.   Unfortunately, the world is not particularly receptive to her desire to remain at my side, and she’s had to be left behind for everything from jobs to hospital stays, as well as on a few trips.  She has been boarded, and while I’d not claim she was an easy boarder, she is usually manageable, as long as there is no possible escape route.

During our time in New Orleans, we lived very near the Zephyr baseball stadium.  After almost all home games, there was a fireworks display.  It was an impressive one too, far more elaborate than the small town displays I was accustomed to seeing on the 4th of July.  However, among Red Dog’s skill sets, coping with loud noises such as fireworks and gunfire was not among them.  To make it even worse, New Orleans has fireworks for more than baseball and 4th of July–it’s also wildly popular for New Year’s Eve.

It was a New Year’s Eve when Red Dog made a very surprising decision.  I was hosting my then-boyfriend and his younger children at my house for a rather low-key celebration.  At midnight, we assembled on the kitchen steps to watch a rather impressive neighborhood fireworks display.  I tried to keep Red Dog inside, but she was facing a true dilemma: she could remain inside where it was safe, but she was alone OR she could come outside with the dangerous noise where I was at.  She came out, she darted back inside, she wanted out…back and forth she went, probably a dozen times.  Finally, she sat on the step beside me as we ooo’d and ahhh’d over the fireworks.  She began to watch them, as I put my arm around her, absentmindedly scratching and petting her.  Fireworks became a good thing.  Over the coming years we lived there, everything changed about fireworks.  Instead of cringing when it started, she would start barking at the door, demanding to be let out.  She loved to watch the fireworks.  She still does.

Okay, that’s totally weird.  Seriously, how many dogs LIKE fireworks?  She is the only one I’ve ever encountered that does.  Don’t get me wrong, she does not like firecrackers–they sound too much like gun shots and gun shots scare her half to death.  She likes the colorful displays in the night sky, even when accompanied by loud booms and shrieking whistles.  She stands and stares at them fixedly, and I have the peculiar sensation that she is remembering that long-ago New Year’s display when I was petting her as we watched them with our friends.

Our other dogs hate them.  They have no desire to watch, and prefer their crates during thunderstorms and fireworks alike.  Red isn’t thrilled with thunder, but I have seen her standing in downpours, complete with thunder and lightning, if I was anticipated home from work.  She has sat through a storm with me on a memorable camping trip where our sole protection when the clouds opened up was to sit on the tarp and flip it over our heads while we waited for it to stop.  I’ve also seen her jump a few seconds before I heard the clap of thunder–she’s apparently feeling the change in electric field before the sound arrives.

In the USA, the 4th of July is a date with many missing animals, terrified by the sounds, they run and try to escape.  Usually, they end up lost and sometimes it’s worse.  Often, they never make their way home again.  It’s a terrible time of year for dogs and cats, with the frightening noises and sulphurous stench of the gunpowder to make the explosions.  Don’t leave your pets outside unattended, it will save you a lot of heartache and it may save their lives.  Just bring them indoors with you, and provide them with a safe space when you are gone, whether its a crate to prevent them from eating inappropriate things (like your sofa, the carpet, trash, electrical cords, etc.) or so that they have a safe “den” feeling to hide from the noise.  Living in the South, I use wire crates for ventilation, but typically will drape them with a small sheet or towel to increase the feeling of security.  Other pets may prefer to curl up on the sofa or bed, some may prefer UNDER the sofa or bed–you know your pet best.

Be safe and keep your pet safe this 4th of July.  Don’t become another statistic.

Common decency?

29 Jun

When did things like kindness, courtesy, being polite, patience, and virtues in general go out of style?

I’m sort of lost here…in case you hadn’t noticed.  I’m also curious.

When did cruelty, viciousness, rudeness, foul language, selfishness, greed, and avarice become desirable traits?

Seriously.  I still see posts where women brag about being bitches.  Yes, I know a bitch is a female dog, but there is a reason why the word bitch is used to describe a woman.  It’s because she is selfish, rude, vicious, cruel, and/or greedy.  While I own three bitches myself, and I love those dogs to death…it is the attitude of a bitch in heat, if you had sexual promiscuity to the list of characteristics of a bitch.

It’s sure not something you’d want your daughter to grow up to exemplify.

Ok, I’ll admit it…I have, on numerous occasions, responded with “Thank you, that’s the nicest thing anybody has said today” when I was called a bitch by a man.  That’s because I was working as a guard in a men’s prison and it likely WAS the nicest thing I’d been called that day.  You will never get anywhere if you think a prison guard has popularity on their mind–they don’t.  They tend to be oriented on policies, procedures, and getting the job done.  Being called a bitch kind of went with the general lack of popularity thing I had going on then anyhow.

But that was just a job, and that was a very long time ago now.  I don’t like being called a bitch.  I don’t call people bitches either, unless provoked greatly.  When I do, it is NEVER a compliment, in case you were wondering.  I’ve never had respect for someone that chose to act in that manner either.  I certainly don’t envy them.  In general, I feel sorry for them, for surely something terrible has happened to make them so miserable.

I still try to be kind, considerate, and polite with others.  Even bad customer service reps don’t get sworn at by me–the worst I say is to ask to speak to a supervisor.  Bad customer service happens to be something that makes me very irate too.  Rude clerks make an impression on me in stores as well.  I tend to not want to shop there again.  Rudeness is bad for business, it does not attract future customers.  It drives away previously loyal customers too.

So why are all of these companies, from your local hospital to the utility company to the corner coffeeshop, still employing rude and unpleasant people?  Why are we beginning to accept rudeness and worse as our lot in life?  Why aren’t people more considerate of their co-workers, neighbors, customers, employees, friends, and even family?  How did society become so “me, it’s all mine, I deserve this” about everything?

Paula Deen is being crucified for decades old comments, and yet we forgive people like Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen.  We hear the same words in music from a variety of artists, and that’s okay too.  We’re devoting hours and hours of debate to whether or not gay people should marry.  We send money overseas to promote “freedom” and “democracy” while our own freedoms are being eroded away and our democracy becomes a corporate lapdog.  We scream about human rights, and right here in the USA, they are violated continually, without even minimal access to health care for the millions of working poor families.  That’s okay, we’re sending rice and vaccines to Africa.  Never mind that the seeds we export are GMOs and “Terminator” seed…leaving farmers starving and unable to grow anything.

We can’t change the world.  We can’t even force change in our own country in anything resembling a speedy change.  We can’t make people learn to think independently and quit worrying about whether or not Britney Spears was wearing underwear when she went to the club last week.  We can’t make them demand their freedom is protected or that Congress actually works to better the lives of the majority of citizens in this country.

So what can we do?

Start in your own little corner of the world.  Demand that corporations deliver what they promise, from the product they sold you to the customer service that ensures it works right.   Smile at your neighbor and ask how they are doing.  Quit surfing on the surface of life, worrying about paying that too-high mortgage or that new car payment so you can replace your four year old car.  Quit caring about who’s name is on the butt of  your jeans and spend more time paying attention to how those jeans makeyou feel.

For crying out loud, quit being a whining bitch and bragging about it.

Grow up.  Participate in life, contribute something along the way.  Make a friend and keep them as a friend, even when its not convenient.  Friendship is about more than mere networking.

Learn the virtues and think about them.

Common decency…ask someone like your grandmother to tell you about that.  It isn’t weakness to be kind and considerate.  It’s a virtue.

Try a few of them on for size.  It’s not about anti-feminism or religion or wanting to go back in time.  It’s about how  you treat people.  It’s about how you treat yourself too.  How can anyone be happy if everyone cringes when they see you coming?  Fear doesn’t come with respect, in case you hadn’t noticed.  It’s more apt to deliver disgust, repulsion, and rejection.

 

Does social media reflect our society?

16 Jun

I’ve been looking through various social media sites today, having a few laughs at the creative ways people solve problems.

And then, I would read the commentary from people that I don’t know. It was interesting but also concerning. Judging by that commentary, our world is made up of a high percentage of very vocal people who feel an obligation to pass their moral judgement on someone else. They can’t see any further than single snapshot of the story, but because of THEIR opinion, that person should be imprisoned, have their kids & pets taken away, and be restricted from interactions with others…at the least.

I’m not talking about photos of blatant cruelty, deviant behavior, etc. either. Some of it revolved around creative punishments for kids after some rule violation, which was never described. Having been a parent with kids who were creative about rule violation myself, I know that I had to be creative with finding appropriate punishments that reflected the rule violation. I wanted them to understand why the rule existed and why it was important to follow the rule too. It wasn’t about retribution usually (sibling wars sometimes do involve that though.)  I was a mother who actually made her daughter wear a sign that stated “I lie to my mother” much to her chagrin.

Sometimes it was about outdoorsy stuff–fun things to do with kids while camping, having a bonfire, etc. Sometimes, ideas don’t work so well in practice as they do in concept. I’ve done a lot of things, ranging from cooking on hot rocks to cooking stuff on a stick. I’ve eaten food that had more sand in it than the average ocean beach too. I’ve tasted things that were rather unpleasant along the way. It’s part of the fun we share with our kids.

After due consideration, I have concluded the following.

Too many people spend too much time worrying about what other people are doing.
Too many people lack fun in their lives, and therefore must stamp out the element of fun in other people’s lives.
We have too many “holier than thou” people in the population.

We have way too many people who object to hearing laughter or seeing smiles.

Too many of those who are “experts” and free to make decisions about what we can or cannot do have no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Too many people actually feel they have not only the RIGHT but the moral and legal obligation to control what other people do in the privacy of their own homes–and I don’t mean what we consider illegal normally, but how they talk, what they think, how they dress, what they eat, their manners, etc., stuff we consider the small individual choices of life.

It’s no wonder that as the mysterious “They” say, the nation (or world for that matter) is going to hell in a handbasket.  Everybody is too busy worrying about everyone else’s thoughts and actions to take care of their own business!  Surely these trolls (yes, they are trolls…people who habitually do this negative commentary are even called trolls, for crying out loud!) cannot be doing much for their own personal economy or relationships if they are devoting this amount of time to tell everyone else that they are doing it all wrong.  Just like those parenting experts that have never had a child of their own, these trolling experts don’t seem to have a life of their own.

Not that the world or the masses are always right either.  I agree…too many people deface historical or archeological artifacts, whether in vandalism or theft.  Too many people do dumb things like chop down living trees to build a bonfire or break glass bottles at a beach.  Other people destroy the environment with the foolish use of a fire or flare.  There are people who do abuse their children, spouse, parents, or strangers for that matter.  We have laws trying to protect society from acts of stupidity and viciousness.  We have an appropriate process to deal with the people who are believed to have violated these rules of society too.

But just because I let my granddaughter pick a wallflower alongside a country road, that doesn’t mean I’m letting her burn down the forest.  Yes, I know it is a wildflower and it won’t produce seed because she picked it.  I also know that it was one of thousands in that area alone, and that the roadside will be mowed in a week or two.  It’s not endangered, and I think she is smart enough to learn (over time, she is still a toddler) to respect and appreciate our natural world.  Meanwhile, the child of the pompous troll who passes judgement on us as being among those who rape the environment will miss learning what beauty and joy is to be found in the natural world as s/he learns instead to judge others with no tempering by mercy or common sense.

If this is the direction society is headed, my apocalyptic prediction friends are apt to see it become a reality.  These people are so focused on finding fault with others around them that they can never see the real threats to their world aren’t the people who laugh and do silly stuff, but rather those who work in secret, trying very hard to stay out of sight as they figure out how to make a few extra dollars.  My conspiracy theorist friends can undoubtedly figure out how these trolls are actually secret government agents, designed to keep people irritated and aggravated, unable to focus on real issues while they deal with the dumb stuff the trolls come up with.

Like education.  Genuine education that actually teaches kids critical thinking skills…now there is an idea that has been long forgotten as we deal with the “No child left behind” concept that ultimately was translated to “thou shalt only teach kids what they need to know to pass the federal tests” because that is going to determine whether or not you keep your job as a teacher.  Critical thinking isn’t necessary, especially if you are raising the next crop of trolls and troll victims, now is it?

It’s no wonder we have the FDA pursuing small farmers who sell raw milk while we have organized crime moving drugs throughout the  nation, or that towns across the country are more concerned with whether or not someone is growing vegetables in their front yard than they are with the number of people in town that don’t have access to fresh, healthy produce at all.  Yes, I know that raw milk is a potential carrier of horrible disease and that was the original reasons for pasteurizing milk, but if people were educated to understand what the word pathogen meant, then they could make an intelligent decision about whether or not to use raw milk, couldn’t they?  We’re far more likely to hear about a school teacher having inappropriate sexual relations with a student than we are to hear about all of the teachers who managed to help a child learn and maybe even make something of their lives via education.  We’ll hear every small detail about some celebrity’s life, right down to whether or not she had on underwear when she was at location x than we will hear about that local activist who managed to put together a community farm that ensured that everyone in that town had fresh vegetables in season.

It’s time to quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and go do something.  Have a glass of milk and eat a cookie, made with real butter and sugar, while sitting on an unmowed lawn and letting the sun warm your body.  Wear some goofy outfit and go to Walmart, and while you are there, smile at people and ask them how they are doing and really listen for once.  Go eat a hot dog with mustard and kraut while watching a baseball game and cheer for both sides.  Pick a dandelion flower and hold it under your chin to see if you like butter.  Have a lemonade stand and give the stuff away to people, just for the heck of it.  Put a lawn chair in your front yard one evening and wave at everyone who drives by.

Just don’t be a bland piece of milk toast in a milky, bland world!

My car runs on magic and other crazy stuff

26 May

I know it without a shadow of a doubt.  My car is a magical thing.  Probably more magical than Puff the Magic Dragon or unicorns even.

No, I’m not crazy at all.  At least I don’t think so.  Let me show you the logic of this statement though.

My car operates through the magic of a talisman and some different magic potions.  It’s not unlike the scenarios seen in some video games I remember my kids playing on their Nintendo.  I think one of the games was called Zelda?  Maybe.  I can’t remember for sure, but there were characters who had to navigate this strange landscape to rescue a princess, fighting all kinds of magical creatures and crossing all kinds of obstacles, magical and otherwise.

We see magic in a lot of our fiction and movies, from the Lord of the Rings to the whole Harry Potter thing.  It’s only natural that I would eventually see the parallel with the thing we call “reality” here.  It first occurred to me that magic is what operates my car.

It starts with the purchase, of course, and all cars come with at least one magic talisman.  We have to have that talisman in order to make it move.  If we lose our talisman, it’s a huge disaster too.  We’ll turn our homes upside down and rake the entire lawn in search of it.  If it’s bad enough, we have to call a special magician to come and create a new talisman for us.  In the “good old days”, talismans were simple tokens, ones we could have copied in a number of locations, usually hardware stores.  Today, however, those talismans have been imbued with even more magic, and obtaining a duplicate one can be very expensive.

Now once we have our car, the modern version of a magic carpet, except that it doesn’t fly, we aren’t off the hook in terms of further magical purchases either.  We have to have regular supplies of magic potions, most of which is purchased at a magic potion store.  Occasionally, other magic potions are also required that perform more specialized magical assistance for our cars.  We can buy these at different stores, as well as occasionally finding limited quantities and varieties available at the specialized magic potion store.  We even have a meter on our cars to tell us when we’re running low on magic potions.  Many of us even have special tools to help us find those all important magic potion purveyors.  When we are forced to continue using an older, worn out car, usually because we lack the “gold coins” and “reputation points”  to buy a newer model, we often are forced to buy more potions because the potions don’t last as long.  We may also have to visit magicians more often to have the car’s magic restored.

All cars must make regular visits to magicians to ensure that their magical powers are intact.  It’s part of the magic conspiracy to ensure that we don’t accumulate excess gold coins.  We’re even more susceptible to that conspiracy if we are forced to use an older model of car, as their magic grows weaker with time.  I’m certain that the makers of these cars put a timer inside of them to ensure that we are inclined to replace our cars regularly, by making their magic fade faster and faster as time passes by.  Those with more reputation points and gold coins can buy more elaborate cars with better protection from that timer than those who don’t have as many points or coins.

While the conspiracy is run by a secret consortium of evil magicians, another one protects that conspiracy.  They too are the evil magicians, and they have special palaces to perform their magical incantations to figure out ways to steal our gold when we aren’t looking.  The largest palace in my region of the realm is called Congress.  The magicians have other titles too, usually they are called congressmen or senators.  They earn money openly by inflicting us with lots of taxes on our cars, as well as our magic potions.

The evil palace magicians have many conspiracies against the common people, who are people like me.  Not all of the evil magicians are part of that palace consortium, although they seem to use the palace magicians to help them with their conspiracies.  There is another conspiracy against us, involving our “regeneration” potions.  Some of these potions are for health, some are for energy, and some are special points, like intelligence, experience, and education.  All of these potions are under continual attack from hidden factions of the evil magicians’ conspiracy forces.

On the health potions, they restrict our ability to earn the necessary points and gold.  They tax them heavily, and participate in secret efforts to raise the prices to prohibit the lower ranking players from obtaining them.  For the energy ones, they have created potions that are useless or actually even will take away energy points, leaving us exhausted and unable to progress to obtain points anywhere else.  With the education points, they have limited where we can earn them, raised the costs immensely for those without a lot of reputation points or gold coins, and made it very difficult to obtain enough points to advance in the game.  Sometimes, they’ll just take those points away for no reason at all, or require more points to advance without warning.

It’s just as bad with the experience points.  There are periods of time when they refuse to grant experience points to any of the players without a huge backlog of experience points, or for those with fewer points in other areas.  Sometimes, it’s based on the number of gold coins held in reserve.  It’s very frustrating for players who are trying to advance to have this happen.

Most of all, they have attacked the intelligence point earning ability of players.  Vast areas of the realm are traps, which suck away the intelligence points that a player has earned, and does it with no warning that it is happening.  Remaining in such an area for any period of time can be devastating for a player, as they may not be aware of this until it is too late.  It’s harder to earn those points back if you have been playing for any length of time too.

So, do you think I’m crazy yet?

Just in case you missed the satire, I suppose I’ll offer you the magical key to figure it out.  The talisman for the car is a key.  The most critical magic potion is our gasoline supply (or diesel if you have a diesel car.)  The rest of it, well, I can only hope that you haven’t lost too many of those “intelligence points” and have accumulated at least some “reputation” or “experience” points along the way.

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