Thursday, February 15, 2018

02/14/18--Florida

 
 
I'm driving southward on one of my jillions of business trips between home and Eugene. My nerves have been frazzled for days...sick dog, loan papers, taxes due, house hunting, retirement looming. I decide to take the long way, because driving on the freeway just...makes me nuts.  I drive in silence, snaking along the scenic backroads of Washington and Yamhill counties...wine country. I feel myself unwind, relax, give in to the rumbling rhythm of the Cummins diesel...sigh!  Better now.

By and by, I decide I'd like a little company, because if I kick around my own thoughts, I end up edging back into that place of tension and jangled nerves. So I turn on the radio. NPR. And am immediately assailed by the news of yet another school shooting. This one in Florida. A nice suburban school. A quiet, safe community...except not today. Many injuries, many dead. Oh my god.

Not again.

I turn the radio off. I can't hear this right now.

I get to my sister's house, we put dinner in the oven and sit down in front of the TV. BIL is, as usual, tuned to Fox News. And they are doing non-stop coverage and analysis of the Florida school shooting. I can't watch...can't listen. We switch to the Olympics on NBC.

Do I hate myself that it's come to this for me--turn it off, don't listen, don't watch? Maybe. But...what's the point? Why get outraged? Why have the same conversations over and over again, why hear the same "thoughts and prayers" sent out over the airwaves, why care? Nothing ever gets done. No solutions are ever offered. The death match between right and left heats up and then cools down...with each mass murder, the argument is a little less heated; people care a little less and turn away a little more quickly. School shootings are just part of the new normal in our god-forsaken, crumbling world. You can only get so worked up about something that...is what it is. 

A friend posts her shock and disbelief.  Really? I ask.  How can anyone be surprised by this, in light of the naked hatred spewed between groups with opposing ideologies in this country today? All we do on social media--and EVERYONE (including and particularly the POTUS) is on social media--is bully and threaten and demean each other. Our children are not growing up in a vacuum. They are being formed by the divided and violent society in which they are being raised.

Another friend posted--god help us...we've got it all wrong. All of it.

God help us indeed. Because we sure as hell can't help ourselves.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Leave Him Alone and He'll Go Away




Mainstream media covering Trump have got it wrong since early in the 2016 campaign.  Practically from day one, their tactic has been that of expose´--broadcast and minutely analyze every ugly, ignorant, "politically incorrect," rabble-rousing comment or action by the candidate, then the President.  Given Trump's proclivity for such things, this almost immediately translated to an uninterrupted torrent of  Cheeto stories.  I'm certain that the original intent was to show Trump for what he is and convince people of the inappropriateness and ineptness of his candidacy, and then his administration.  But we now know--in fact, have known for over a year--that this had the opposite effect. Basically, the media handed Trump millions of dollars worth of free media exposure.  One has to wonder, what do the media not get about the fact that their unending fascination with all things Trump was very likely a major factor in pushing him to victory in 2016?

Trump himself has clearly demonstrated repeatedly that he thrives on media exposure.  He may not be too smart, but he is a wizard at self-promotion.  He learned two things right out of the gate: 1.) when he felt he was losing the limelight, all he had to do was say or do something inappropriate or outrageous and the cameras would swing right back toward him; and 2.) he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any votes.  He's a walking reality show, and he's discovered the secret to unprecedented success:  make the guys in the cheap seats believe they are a live part of the show.

And as long as the media continue to feed this dynamic, it will continue.  Not only continue, but grow exponentially.  The way to end a reality show is---to turn it off.  When people stop watching, when it stops being a pop culture phenomenon, when it's no longer the first thing everybody tweets or instagrams or argues about on Facebook...it will be canceled.  When Trump can no longer use the outrage of decent people to stay in the limelight, when the GOP no longer sees him as their greatest asset to connect to their "base," Trump will go down.

We desperately need to LET THAT HAPPEN.

Turn off the cameras, dial down the outrage, let Trump be Trump in a vacuum. 

THAT is when we're going to see things change. 

Until then, I can only see Trump in terms of the sort of analogy the Pope used to describe the dynamic of trickle-down economics.  Pile more money on the rich, and their glass will overflow onto the poor.  But "...what happens instead is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger, but nothing ever comes out for the poor."  We're trying to defeat Trump by piling more and more shit on him, hoping that, at some point, his tower of shit will topple and we can sweep him away and be done with him.  But what is happening instead is that the shit is building Trump a more and more impregnable fortress.  The pile just gets higher and higher, more and more outrageous; it's so huge that it's all anyone can see or talk about.  And it's not going anywhere but up.

We have to put down the shovels and let the shit decompose and crumble,  or it will never go away.             

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pansies Were Your Favorite...

 

Pupdate


Age:  1 year!!!

Height: 22" at the shoulder 

Weight:  45 lbs

Eats:  Anything we don't give her to eat.  Leaves, moss, sticks; goose poop is one of her favorites.  Her own food, not so much.  She goes "off her feed" at any little bump in the road. 
 
Favorite food:  Still likes hot dogs, but goose poop comes in a close second.
 
Favorite toy:  She killed Bumble.  Matt came home from work one day a couple of weeks ago, and Bumble was flat, inside out, and his stuffing was strewn hither and yon.  She still likes the stuffies--she has two bears, a chipmunk and a penguin--but her "go to" is bacon-flavored nyla-bone keys.  She is currently working on her third set of these.  Josie is a chewer.  She has eaten my dining room table legs and our patio door.  So it's essential that she has safe, durable chew toys.
 
Commands she knows:  She KNOWS lots of stuff:  Sit, down, off,  NO!, dead dog, gimme five, drop; and the ones she has learned in "Reactive Rover" class:  turn, leave it, "hoover" (pick a piece of food off the ground), look (make eye contact with whoever is on the other end of the leash).  But just because she KNOWS the command does not mean she is going to choose to perform the act consistently...even if it means a treat is connected.  Since she's not particularly motivated by food, or even pets and "good girls" and rah-rahs from the human, she's been hard to train.  She's smart and stubborn, a little OCD (She does best with strict routine.  Deviate from that, and she derails.)  and very ADD (Squirrel!!)
 
I honestly think Josie is somewhat of a "special needs" dog.  Her awareness bubble is huge--this is the only dog I have ever seen that will look up at the sound of a plane high in the sky and watch it until it's out of sight.  Since she's so keenly aware of EVERYTHING, it's hard to get her to focus on what you want her to do.  And when she does figure out what you want, you can just look at her and know she's weighing her options..."Hmmm....  Would I rather 'leave it' or yank your arm off chasing this leaf?"  "Come here?  Nah...I don't think so."  We are not able to let her off-leash anywhere that she is not contained by a fence or walls.  She will not come when called if she isn't connected to you by  some restraining device, or if she does come, she'll dodge and run away as soon as you reach for her. 
 
This is SO opposite of her predecessor.  Lucy rarely needed to be leashed.  If you were out with her, she was on your heels.  You couldn't scrape her off with a stick.  She always stayed with the flock.  If we were walking in a group and someone lagged behind, she would fall back until she was sure the "straggler" was back in the fold.  We try very hard not to expect Jo to behave like her late sister.  And while we have that head knowledge, it has been kind of a difficult adjustment for us.  For fourteen years, "dog" meant "the animal that behaves in a particular manner."  With Josie, we have absolutely had to redefine "dog," and for a couple of old farts, that has not always been easy.  Honestly, there have been times when I thought we had bitten off more than we could chew with this one.  But she's so funny, and so clueless, and she clearly has chosen ME as her human...  I don't think I could imagine giving up on her and shipping her off to some other forever home.    
 
She does mind me better than she does the husband.  He is of the impression that you can calmly and quietly trill, "Off!" and she will understand the word and comply.  There may be dogs out there on whom this tactic will work, but ours is not one of them.  When we were training Lucy, the manuals instructed you to use  "the Mom voice" with training commands.  Dogs understand tone before they understand English, and a stern tone that invites no argument is essential.  So, yeah, for the first couple of years of their life, you come off as a raging bitch.  But you are not dealing with a human child with a fragile psyche here.  You're asserting pack leadership over an animal that relates to the world as a member of a pack.  A dog needs to see its human as "alpha dog," or it will NEVER behave.  And an out-of-control 45-50 lb animal is not a pleasant companion for anyone.   
 
As a result, when Dad tells her to do something, 65% of the time she just blows him off.  He has been the one taking her to doggie class, but she STILL minds me better than she does him.  I honestly think she considers the consequences of disobeying me to be dire enough that she'll actually do what I say.  For Josie, her motivation is less, "What will I get if I do this?" than "What will happen if I don't?"  Positive reinforcement is all well and good...and I make use of the concept as much as I can.  But sometimes, they just need to know that they are not going to like what's going to happen if they DON'T do what you say.  Which doesn't mean you're always beating on your dog.  Time outs, abrupt cessation of a play session, removing yourself from her vicinity or her from yours...this kind of "consequence driven" reinforcement works wonders as far as I'm concerned. 
 
It's been a long and somewhat challenging 10 months for us--the Old Farts and Josie.  But we're all surviving, and, I think, benefitting from the challenge. 
 
Onward and dogward!        

Friday, February 9, 2018

Miss You SO Much

 


Yesterday afternoon, while digging for some tax documents. I came across an anniversary card from 1993. It was from my big sister, Joyce, who died less than two years later. 





The tears flowed, and all I could think was, "I miss you so much!"









Joyce had a capacity for showing and sharing love that none of the rest of us seem to have been blessed with.  There was a connection between the two of us, in particular;  in the last decade of her life, I moved to Oregon and she got sick.  But we held on to each other for dear life.
 


So I dreamed about her last night, something I haven't done in a long time. I don't even remember the dream...I just remember it was so nice to see her, to say her name and have her right there looking at me. 

 It felt like home.




 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tax Cut Progress Report



The past two weeks, the husband has brought home $100/week more in his paycheck than he had been before the tax cut took effect. It's too early to say whether this is due to some glitch in the newly-minted tax tables (for which we will pay dearly next year) or if this will be a permanent, no-corresponding-bite-in-the-ass result of the new tax law.

Should I be happy? Should I grudgingly allow that Trump's and the GOP's crowning glory of legislation... IS going to benefit me, a card-carrying member of the solid middle class, after all?

I'm going to say, "no" to that. More money in my pocket is not the be all and end all. It is not the only meaningful benefit on god's green earth. Because that extra $400/month in OUR pockets--money that we could afford and didn't really miss-- is $400/month NOT going to programs that might benefit those less fortunate, or protect our food, water and land, or beef up our crumbling infrastructure.

Being a member of a society requires collaborative efforts among all members to benefit and advance the society as a whole. Sure...I could take that extra income and go out and buy a boat or an RV or save up for a few months and go on a decent vacation. But I don't need those things as badly as a young woman in the inner city needs a roof over her head, or as much as an unstable Interstate overpass needs replacing, or as much as we all need to be able to depend on not suffering dire health consequences from the food we eat or the water we drink.

So...sure. We have a few more bucks in our pockets. But are we benefitting? I think not.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Photo Wednesday


It used to be photo Friday over at "Women On..."  That long-dormant blog that I shared with several amazing women from AOL J-land so many years ago...

Anyway, lets have photo Wednesday today, shall we?  Haven't been getting out near enough to get pictures...and when I do, that new lens is keeping me kind of stymied. 

But I do get one or two that I like.  Here's one.  Taken at Finley NWR on 1/30/18.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I'll Get It

I get messages from the strangest places.  Oldies radio station, a 41-year-old Billy Joel tune.  (Hard to believe either of us is that old.)  The lyrics were written by a young man for a young man.  But they spoke to sexagenarian me today--the me who has been fretting about an uncertain future in retirement... 



I think I can take that and run with it. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hoodwinked

Just clicked on a story that claimed to want to tell me the best places to stash my cash and earn "HUGE" interest, rather than "risk" my cash in the market. "22x the average savings interest!!!"

Easy to make that claim when the "average" interest available on a savings account at your bank these days is .06%. No, that's not a typo...that IS "point-oh-six" percent. Six one-hundredths of a percent. So that wild and wonderful "22x the average" pencils out to a whopping 1.32%.

Pretty hard to get excited about that when I can remember  when I started working for a living, regular passbook savings accounts paid 5.25% with no minimum balance, no fees and no restrictions on access to your money. Hell...even twenty years ago you could get a  6-month CD that paid 3%. 

Anybody still skeptical that we have been hoodwinked into pouring all our hard-earned cash back into the pockets of the guys who already HAVE all the money? 

SMDH

Bible-Thumping Catholics?


I came across a link to an article in the National Catholic Reporter on Facebook the other day.  The article was about how the Catholic Church in Europe might be bowing to pressure to deal in some positive way with gay marriage...though gay relationships are frowned upon and gay marriage is banned by the Church, perhaps some kind of  "blessing" of the relationship could be finagled without everybody going to hell about it.  I didn't read the article, but I did click into the comment section just out of curiosity. 

I had to laugh at a thread that had two commenters spouting bible verses at each other.  The Catholic Church is about as connected to the bible as Santa Claus is to the Nativity story.  My sense when I was growing up Catholic was that the bible was an inscrutable sacred text which only theologians and scholars tackled...we peons were entitled to nothing more meaty than the watered-down and politically engineered interpretations they passed down to us.   

So I had to throw in my own comment.  Which no one has as yet commented upon, but I thought it worth bringing here:

"I was brought up Catholic, went to Catholic school. I have to laugh when I see Catholics quoting the bible. We were never taught bible in religion class, only catechism--Catholic dogma. The bible was a book you had in the house and cherished as if it was some kind of icon...you didn't actually READ it (and since it was the KJV, you would have had a hard time reading it, anyway..) I literally knew nothing about the bible until I became a "born again Christian" in my twenties.

"Unfortunately, the most enduring thing I learned about the bible during that time was that you can cherry-pick "scripture" to prove blessing or damnation of just about anything. You can bless sin (many a born-again Christian has "forgiven" adultery using the example of David and Bathsheba. Knew a pastor who fooled around on his wife, married his lover and named their first child "Solomon." Sheesh!)

"Any thinking human gets to the point of understanding that Christianity does anything BUT honor the Spirit of Creation. Neither does it promote brotherhood, empathy, compassion, or love of fellow man (esecially if he is in any way different from you.) One only needs to look at the violent track record of organized religion over the ages to see how poisonous it is. I would advise gay couples to walk away from such a destructive, violent and ultimately evil source and seek out blessing from some agency that is actually capable of  and joyous about conferring it. Rather than trying to change a backward and judgmental Church."


With my apologies to my Christian friends.  I am normally not (publicly) so angry and condemnatory about Christianity--I know there are fine people who embrace it with love and understanding.  But sometimes the intractable judgmentalism that seems to be so much a part of the basic foundations of the faith just cause me to...lose it.