Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'll Conquer This Thing or One of Us Will End Up in the Bin

Tuesday afternoon, I trekked out to the "nuclear park," determined to grab my new camera by the throat and get it to cough up decent pictures.  I had a wonderful time out in the fresh air, clicking off shots of trees and herons and a little group of geese.  Unfortunately, when I got home and downloaded the pictures, I discovered to my chagrin that I had collected about 150 really bad pictures.  Mostly related to the issues I was having getting the willful thing to focus where I wanted it and STAY focused.

So, last night I sat down and watched 2 You-tube videos on how to deal with my damn camera.  One had to do with setting up back-button focus, and disabling the auto-focus through the shutter.  This enables one to set the focus then depress the shutter without the camera deciding to refocus at the last minute.  Executed that change rather handily, but there was one more thing to address.    

Let me interject here that changing settings on these damned complicated machines is neither simple nor intuitive.  It involves diving into a bottomless morass  of menus accessed through half a dozen buttons, wheels and screens.  My default method of dealing with any new technology I purchase--going through and hitting buttons until I get the thing to do what I want--is utterly useless with the more advanced digital cameras.   Thank the Universe for You-tube, or I would be the proud owner of a $1400 doorstop.

The other focus issue I was having had to do with the setting of the "focus points"--of which, apparently, there are 21...20 too many, in my humble opinion.  And god forbid that the default on the camera should be a one-point center focus!  Hell f***-ing no!  The camera comes out of the box set to auto-focus on the thing closest to it.  So, if I'm trying to catch a pic of a bird in a tree behind some branches, the thing is going to focus on those branches, no matter how much I shout and bang it on a rock.  The nice man on the You-tube video showed me how to correct that, and now, it is to be hoped, I will be able to go out and get some semi-properly focused pictures without tearing my hair out. 

Of course, it's monsoon season, so I have no idea when the weather will be decent enough for me to actually take the camera out and field test the adjustments.  Hell...I'll probably just go out anyway, rain or not.  I'm determined to master this thing, and I have to get out there and deal with it before I forget what I did to make it do what I want.    

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fly The W

I hear Hillary Clinton did well at the third (and, mercifully, last) televised joint stump appearance of the presidential candidates.

And the Cubs won.

Sweet dreams tonight?

The Bloody Death of Political Correctness

Was it back in the 90's that the concept of "political correctness" was born?  I decided to check the internet for the answer...what I dug up was something entirely different than my understanding of the term.  Apparently, it has always been a pejorative.  I was under the mistaken impression that it had at one time been merely a term descriptive of the act of choosing language that did not insult or offend anyone.Whatever the original definition of the term, I think we can safely say that it lies at the heart of much of the ugliness that swirls around us today. 

There was a time--and I believe it WAS in the nineties--when there was a movement toward a kinder, gentler voice in America.  It was almost as if we felt we had solved the issues that had brought forth the harshest, most strident voices of ignorance, selfishness and hatred in our land:  We had addressed civil rights, women's rights, immigrants' rights, the rights of the handicapped, waged our war on poverty and removed the stigma from the poor, the addicted, the homeless; and now it was time to speak with respect and dignity toward all.  A laudable ideology, really...which soon careened out of control.

Special interest groups, each waving its own set of "offensive" terms, seemed to come out of the woodwork.  There was no one you couldn't offend with any words, innocent or otherwise.  As long as we were about the business of extending respect to groups that had long suffered blatant disrespect in America, we suddenly had to extend that courtesy every group, no matter how small or off-the-wall.  When it came to the "liberal" media, in our effort not to offend anyone, our voices became softer and softer, our reporting less and less relevant.  Eventually, the tightrope of inoffensive language became a gag...and a noose with which the rising right-wing contrived to hang us.

The right wing smelled blood; they understood that the American people were becoming frustrated with the trickle of watered-down information that made it past the dam of "political correctness."  They understood that the electorate was starving for substance.  And so, the concept of right wing "Political In-correctness" was born.  With personalities like Rush Limbaugh leading the charge, right-wing talk radio was born.  Soon, conservative talk radio dominated the airwaves in every market.  Conservative radio's success paved the way for conservative television--most notably Fox "News," which was launched in 1996.

When it came to swinging the tone of the national debate back toward the center (and sanity) the Right Wing hasn't been any more competent than the left had been.  We were dragged past the center so quickly we didn't have the chance to wave...on the way to the far, far right, where paranoia and ignorance dominate the conversation, and truth is not only not the message, but a hindrance thereto.  Political correctness vanished without a trace under the tank treads of the "politically incorrect" movement.

Political incorrectness didn't stop at peeling off the layers of inoffensive pabulum that had smothered frank discussion of the issues for a decade.  The right wing gambled--correctly--that the public would jump at the chance to shake off the shackles of "political correctness" and revel in the opportunity to freely express themselves again.  And how easily we all tumbled into that pit of self-indulgence!

But frank discussion of the issues wasn't going to give the right wing what they wanted.  They wanted to dominate the conversation.  They wanted to own it.  They didn't want to have to talk people into seeing things their way; they wanted to threaten them into it.  They wanted people to be afraid not to join in the debate as they intended to frame it.  To that end, they didn't just do away with the annoying over-niceness of political correctness.   They obliterated all vestiges of courtesy, decorum, civility, empathy--deeming those softer, saner emotions counter to their goal.  Which would be reached much quicker through rudeness, bullying, threats of violence...and bald-faced lies. 

So, here we are.  In a world where courtesy has been labeled weakness; where if you care about the less fortunate you are a sucker;  where the Constitution applies to MY rights and MY freedom, but not to yours.  Where hatred, violence, lies and disrespect flow like a river of blood, deeper and deeper,  across the television, the radio and the internet, drowning anything and everything else.  Where a bottomless pit yawns between conservative and liberal ideologies, and anyone trying to bridge that gap tumbles headlong into eternal damnation.

Political correctness is dead all right.  And if we don't find a way to deal with the monster that killed it, it's going to do away with us as well.   


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ladies: Let's Make Like Ms. Liberty on Election Day

THIS is absolutely perfect!

I screen-grabbed this from an "Occupy Democrats" post on Facebook.  If anyone knows the artist, please put it in the comments so I can give proper credit.    

Monday, October 17, 2016

Worst Anniversary Weekend EVER

Four days.  We just wanted four days.

Friday, we had reservations for a “100th Anniversary” dinner with my sisters and their husbands—2016 was the year of our 40th, my oldest sister’s 35th and the next oldest sister’s 25th wedding anniversaries—totaling 100 years of wedded…um…marriage. 

Saturday, we were to head up the Columbia to Hood River for the Harvest Festival—crafts, food, fall colors, all that good stuff. 

Sunday--our actual anniversary—the husband and I reserved a room at one of the cutest hotels in Astoria, planning to shoot west once the rest of the crowd headed for home.  We would have a fun evening in Astoria, walk to a nice dinner, and generally have a good, quiet anniversary.

Well, first off, the weather forecast tried to kill all our plans.  Any sane group would have just scratched the weekend of frivolity when faced with dire predictions of wind, rain, thunder, lightning, even a tornado or two.  But not us.  We’re tough.  We’re Oregonians.  We’re not going to be intimidated by a little stormy weather.  Plans were NOT changed.

So…on Monday previous to the weekend, husband comes down with the crud.  Fever, sinus blockage, chesty cough, the whole nine yards.  So bad that I even talk him into coming home from work early one day (this man has to be dying to leave work) so he can stay in bed and rest up for “our weekend.”  He is still feeling like crap on Thursday, the day the crew is set to invade, so I suggest that they delay their arrival until evening so he can have  a few more hours to chill and maybe get rid of this bug. 

Meanwhile, while running around the house Thursday afternoon making final preparations for overnight guests, I find myself feeling crappier and crappier…  Yep.  I am coming down with husband’s bug.

Friday morning, I creep out of bed, determined not to let this thing screw up my plans.  Sisters and I go shopping for three hours.  I—feeling sicker and sicker—suggest we go back home so I can get a nap before we leave for dinner.  I climb upstairs into bed and soon have a raging fever that makes me feel as if my head is just going to explode.  No dinner out for me.  Husband and two sisters trek out to the restaurant in PDX and get our prime rib dinners packed into little Styrofoam boxes.  I’m barely able to shove down a few bites of rib and some mashed potatoes.  My fever breaks around 8:30 pm, and I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.

Saturday, despite wind, rain and virus, we DID, by god, go out to Hood River.  I was feeling a bit fragile but not too bad, considering that I had been on death’s door a mere 12 hours previous.  We all had a decent time, spent some money, came home, crawled into warm comfy furniture and had soup for dinner.

Sunday seemed fine.  Everybody left.  We went west.  I still felt like crap…no voice now.  And in the ups and downs of the road on the way to the coast, my hearing came back every time we got to about 700 ft altitude, and then clogged back up into a solid block of congestion every time we descended to sea level.  One of the strangests phenomena I have ever experienced.  Ugh.

Still, we got to Astoria, checked into our room and enjoyed the hotel.  We had dinner at one of the restaurants within walking distance, the food was good, we had a thoroughly enjoyable meal.  Walked back to the hotel.  This is all pretty good, right?  But I'm feeling rather put out that we are both still feeling puny so we're not able to do anything fun like go for a stroll on the pier, or really do anything even slightly strenuous.  So…we end up sitting on our bed in our hotel room, each of us with our nose buried in our iPads.  Whippy dip.  Happy anniversary!

Well, I guess I shouldn’t have even let that dark instant of disappointment cross my mind, because, evidently, that was as good as things were going to get.  Next morning, husband excuses himself from the breakfast table and disappears back up to the room (leaving me sitting at the table without a key…)  I wander back up to the room fifteen minutes later and find…well, suffice it to say husband is not feeling well.  Don’t know if it was something from the dinner or the bug that has been going around his office.  But he is sick.  Again.

So instead of a nice, leisurely drive down the coast before heading home, I drive hell bent for leather to the next big town, where we scrounge up some Dramamine and 7up for husband, to try and fortify him for the twisty drive that lies between where we are and where we need to be—home, hearth, toilet and bed.    

We make it home, me asking every ten minutes if he’s ok, him reassuring me that he feels better.  He goes through the front door, goes upstairs to change for bed and proceeds to…I guess he wasn’t actually feeling better. 

So here I sit, typing away on the damned laptop and waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Waiting to see if I will indeed come down with the same issues that he is having, either from last night’s dinner or from living in close proximity to whatever germ he is percolating now.

I want a do-over.    

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where Did The Time Go...?

Thou Shalt Not Lie

Came across this on Facebook this morning.  The link leads to a convincing mock-up of an ABC news page, with this utterly false story about President Obama signing an executive order to ban the Pledge of Allegiance. Some person/people invested hours into crafting this elaborate lie, for the sole purpose of feeding hatred and opposition against the President of the United States.

Bible thumpers are some of the most rabid Obama haters.  And I find it interesting that much of the crap that flies around the internet, the stuff that gets all the outrage and the likes and the declarations that “Obama IS the anti-Christ” is blatantly untrue.

When it comes to the internet, that faction most attractive to the Obama-hating Christian right lives, breathes, is completely saturated in lies.  Untruth.  Made up crap designed to look (marginally) credible and cause the most furor among the base. 

Which leads one to wonder…what of the ten commandments?  Aren’t they supposed to be the instruction manual?  Why do these folks who want to insist that the ten commandments be posted in government buildings have neither the desire nor intention of actually LIVING by those tenets?

One of those commandments is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”  Thou shalt not lie. 

It’s probably the commandment that has taken it in the shorts more than any other.  The concept of “white lies,” the idea that a merciful lie is better than a hurtful truth…  Which of us doesn’t believe that a little lie once in awhile won’t send us to hell?

And yet… I have to believe there was a reason the Creator included the onus against bearing false witness in the code by which so many human beings have lived for so long.  Could it have been in anticipation of just the world we live in now—a place where there is no standard of truth anymore?  A world where lies are created and circulated with impunity, in such huge volume that there would be no way to track down and fix every one?   And because untruth has become so ubiquitous, there’s no disproving this volume of falsehoods.  People now chose to believe what they want to believe, and the actual truth becomes the lie to them.  Even if one searches for the truth, it is so hidden under layer upon layer of lies that it’s almost impossible to find.

Our total disregard for truth is tearing apart the fabric of our society.  And if we don’t do something about it, it’s going to destroy us. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yes...I'm With Her

From time to time, I've posted Facebook exchanges here.  Sometimes I get carried away and go on for a really long time with my response to a post that gets my brain cells churning.  So here's one from this morning. 

Question (Well, actually, a thinly veiled example of Clinton-Bashing...): 
 I have been scouring the internet for weeks and keep coming up empty handed. I guess I just have trouble understanding her position on anything.
So when exactly in her career did you start supporting Hillary? Was it in AR? after her time as sec of state? when she was a goldwater girl? or was it just after hearing the trump tape?
What does she stand for that you agree with? gay marriage? abortion? lying to the state dept? is it her server skills? her husband?
relationships with wall street? ability to collect $ from the big banks she publicly reprimands? universal healthcare success/failure?
her sniper fire/lack thereof experience in Bosnia? defense attorney history?
What positions does she take on anything that you support? I am truly trying to find a reason why so many here are "with her" her for reasons other than the fact that they think Trump is too much like Bill knowing damn well those 2 have always been a package deal. I don't understand. Trump supporters openly admit hes not presidential, but her fans are pardoning decades of corruption in politics and many lives lost... and yet here I am, somewhere in the middle, unable to find a SINGLE reason TO vote for her. What are yall thinking?

My Response: 
You write as if you have at least a couple of brain cells to rub together, my dear. Other women have posted links to positive articles and facts about Hillary Clinton. I would do so, as well, but I have the feeling that anyone who has written things like "What does she stand for that you agree with? gay marriage? abortion? lying to the state dept? is it her server skills? her husband?  relationships with wall street? ability to collect $ from the big banks she publicly reprimands? universal healthcare success/failure?  her sniper fire/lack thereof experience in Bosnia? defense attorney history?" chose a long time ago what she wanted to believe about Hillary Clinton, and nothing we say or do is going to change her mind. The information is out there, dear. Unfortunately, in 21st-century America, lies and truth share the same pages, screens and airwaves; in fact, lies generally outweigh fact by a wide margin.

I don't know how old you your picture, I'll wager you were not old enough to be politically aware when Hillary Clinton came on the national scene 25 years ago. You probably don't remember how the Clintons were hounded during the campaign and subsequently by a partisan Congress during the entire 8 years Bill Clinton was in office. You don't remember career special prosecutors combing through the Clinton's lives and business dealings practically from the time Bill Clinton declared his candidacy for his first term. Under endless investigation, Bill Clinton was finally caught in a lie about his personal sex life, which led to the impeachment vote by a Republican House of Representatives. Everyone knew that the President of the United States was not going to be removed from office because he couldn't keep it in his pants, but the country came to a halt while the drama played to its legal end. What a colossal waste of time and government resources! This sort of thing has been the tactic/priority of the GOP every time the American people have chosen NOT to elect a Republican into a position of power. Look what they've done to President Obama!

So when you're tempted to believe all the crap cited in your original "question," you might keep in mind that Hillary Clinton has been under investigation for one thing or another for practically a quarter of a century, and has never been found guilty of anything. These investigations have been instigated by her political enemies solely for the purpose of ruining her reputation and career. I could accuse you of murder, and you could be investigated or even put on trial for that crime...but that doesn't make you a murderer.

Why do I admire Hillary Clinton? Why am I "with her?" Because she has put up with all this crap for all these years, and she STILL believes she has something to offer this country that has done nothing but put her through the wringer for 25 years. Through it all, she has worked steadily to gain experience and build a resume that would qualify her for the Oval Office. She STILL believes she can make a difference, and she is willing to go through whatever it takes to get the opportunity to do so. THAT is strength. That is fortitude. That is presidential. If you believe Donald Trump has more to offer than Mrs. Clinton (and evidently, you're leaning that way) then by all means, throw your vote down that sewer. 

Her reply (she scolded me...and she was right to do so):
I will def give this more attention after I'm done working for the day but for now, my common sense is telling me that you're far from commanding my respect or attention when you start a sentence like that on my wall, my dear.
My turn:

I honestly am sorry. That was uncalled for. This circus surrounding this election has worn me to frazzle, and I'm not a very nice person to begin with. Cynthia can attest to that. It's just that I'm not surprised when people who are obviously nearly illiterate believe and regurgitate all the horrible things that Hillary Clinton has been accused of over the years, but I have a really hard time when someone like yourself, who obviously is not stupid or uneducated, appears to believe all that stuff as well. I despair that young people of your age have nothing but an internet full of lies, attacks and political divisiveness to turn to for information. At least those of us who are older and have witnessed all this from the beginning can view the "information" that is all over the internet through the lens of our own experience and judgment. I would advise you to take your search for information about Mrs. Clinton to somewhere besides the internet, but I really don't have any idea what a viable alternative might be. And that makes me very sad.

Another Commenter:

Your attempt to tear Rachel down seemed to be very well thought out. So it surprises me that your reason for backing Hillary is that she's still kicking after all of these years and thinks she can do it.

I think I can do a lot of things when I am
thinking it up. I have a lot of partially completed projects because WHOOPS I had no business thinking I could do the job of a carpenter just because I have been looking at furniture for46 years. I added my age for you there. I was politically aware all those years ago and a registered voter.

Me again:

But I assume you have never been a US Senator or Secretary of State. Not to mention FLOTUS, though that alone would not qualify her for the Oval Office. Which is why she has remained involved in national service all this time, collecting knowledge and information from many sources and positions. Much like an apprentice/journeyman craftsman would do, to use your own analogy. Mrs. Clinton has not just been "looking at furniture" for 25 years. She's been making it.

I never said that everyone who has lived through the last 40 years of US political history would be likely to have come to the same conclusions I have. Political disagreement is a fact of our lives...what has up till recently made this country great is that we could sit down with our divergent viewpoints and hammer out policy that would benefit all. You and I are fortunate that we knew there was a time when our government functioned. I am sad for this young lady and her generation, because they have never seen it work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Can't We Just Kill It Now?

This election season has already been a trial almost beyond bearing.  And unmercifully L----O----N----G; the first candidate declared his intentions to run almost 19 months ago.

Hillary had to withstand the meat-grinder of the primary, where Bernie Sanders' "positive campaign based on the issues" almost instantly devolved into a Clinton-smearing crusade as vicious as any special investigation launched by Republicans over the past twenty years.  All the Republicans had to do was sit back and watch the fun.  And collect ammunition.  Clinton has soldiered on, looking more and more like the bandaged piper emerging from the mists of battle in Archibald Willard's painting "Spirit of '76."  And, in that condition, she has attempted to cross intellectual swords with a man who has no intellect.  Surrounded by a gallery full of onlookers as dense as their champion.  

That would be Cheeto Jesus.  The orange messiah.  In the midst of the circus that was the Republican primary, he declared that he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and not lose any voters.  And god help us, he was dead on accurate.  Intelligent members of the electorate have looked on in disbelief as any perceived misstep on his part manifests itself into a rise in the polls and an upsurge of his appeal in the eyes of his faithful.  Just when we hope against hope that he has finally shot himself in the foot enough times to cause him to topple, he comes roaring back, through the auspices of free television time granted him by the misbegotten "debate" schedule.  People see the familiar orange face of this bigoted, misogynistic bully on TV and they think they're watching just another episode of The Apprentice.  No matter what he says or does...he wins!  He's the boss;  Hillary Clinton is fired.    

And, oh...dear god.  There's another, debate...scheduled for next week.  Puh-leeeez

Euthanasia has figured prominently in my life the past few months. I've had to resort to that merciful method of ending a life twice in  six weeks. So I find the concept bubbling to the surface when I ponder the 2016 presidential campaign and how to put an end to the agony. Isn't there some way we can just put this thing out of its (our) misery?

Lose The Cheeto