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National Ping-Pong

September 12, 2022

Yes, this is a political rant. Every election it seems we tire of one side, so we elect the other side, and then back again, ad nausum. Let’s roll with this insanity for the rest of this post.

Let’s find a better game

I have several friends who are rabid-left, rabid-right, sort-of-right, sort-of-left, and a few, like me, none of the above. I had one such friend tell me that, “we are all putting our political views aside so we can be friends for a night.” Excuse me, but I don’t have to agree with you to be friends. That used to be true of almost all of us, but somewhere along the line we took to the idea that we can’t go to the same party if we aren’t in the same party.

Besides truly despising the labels (not all Republicans believe the same thing, not all the Democrats do, and even Pro-Lifers have different beliefs, but labels make us think we are all robots), we’ve forgotten how important we are to one another, and that’s why we have rabid-left and rabid-right.

When we respect each other’s right to hold different ideas, we can have calm or even spirited discussions about them. And it’s vital we do so. How do progressives know they’ve gone too far unless they listen to compelling arguments from the conservatives? How do the conservatives know they’re being too rigid unless they hear compelling arguments from progressives?

Maybe that’s why we’ve gone off into this weird fantasyland we’re wrapped up in. Neither party has brakes.

My daughter and I don’t see eye-to-eye on much, but I value our time in discussion. Maybe I move from my firm belief to something more moderate. Someday, when she’s older, maybe she’ll see a little merit in what I say.

Right now, we have leaders and former leaders who hate half the country and call them vile names. This has been going on too long.

In the corporate comic book industry, Marvel calls DC the “Distinguished Competition” and DC calls Marvel “The Marvelous Competition.” Each drives the other to greater creativity. Let’s look to comic books for inspiration (!).

We elect people to serve the common good; instead the elected serve their own re-election. That’s both sides. I’d like another way, but first we have to stop dividing the country by beliefs and unite for discussion. I saw an interesting teaching tactic for grade schoolers. A teacher started her own “me too” movement. She asked, “What’s your favorite…” movie, food, book, game, hobby, etc. If you agreed with a student’s answer, you shout “Me Too!” Soon, the whole class was shouting “Me Too!” Once they found they had so much in common, they quickly became friends.

That can work for adults, too.

Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Living in a Different Country

August 30, 2022

No, this isn’t a political diatribe. It’s an, “I can’t believe I live here” diatribe.

I have lived in Seattle (ugh), I have lived in Orlando, and I have lived in Atlanta (ugh). I loved Orlando for the people there and the sunshine. Seattle gets and ugh because of the rain, and Atlanta is just gross.

Now I live in the majestic mountains of Colorado. The only way it could be better would be if a river ran through it. Or a lake. Or an ocean, though the west coast would have to drop into the sea, which might not be a bad thing but for my family and friends who inexplicably live on the west coast.

It feels like a different country, here in the not really south-west or middle-America. Here, bucks and does come to visit and a plethora of other wildlife. I feel closer to nature and I like it (that would be shocking to anyone who knows me). The horizon, the view, the big blue sky… heaven.

But when we speak about heaven, we must speak about the night sky. At 8,000+ feet, it is simply arresting. I write words for a living, but have none to adequately describe it. Here are a few that badly describe it: The sky is filled with stars and the shimmering of galaxies. The Milky Way is a three-dimensional wonder through the middle of the sky. The Big Dipper is the BIG FRICKIN’ DIPPER!

I’ve never seen the sky so crowded with light. In lower elevations, you wonder what the Greeks were smoking when they created the idea of constellations, but up here, without light wash and humidity, those constellations stand out like Shaq would at a dwarf convention. Still not sure how they got people and animals out of them, but I understand wanting to name them somehow.

For my friends in Florida, look at your night sky. Now quadruple what you see; then quadruple four more times. Then once more for good measure. That’s how many stars are in our sky.

For my friends in Seattle, there are things called stars above the gray.

The Big Dipper sits just above the ridge behind our house, each star like a bright hole in space. It is vastly wider and taller than in lower elevations (probably a trick of perspective, but what a trick!).

Not our sky, not even close…

Furthermore, it’s always alive in motion. There are literally thousands of satellites orbiting the earth. There are always a few and sometimes many man-made objects slipping through our night sky. Maybe aliens, too, who knows? Badgers only come out at night. Now I know why.

Unfortunately, prices are a lot higher here. I don’t know if McDonald’s hamburgers are still under a buck in Orlando, but that sorry excuse for a single-patty burger is $2.35 here. Back when I was trying to lose weight, a burger and small fries (and any size diet drink), were my staple when I had to go there. Now, the cheapest thing on the menu is a lot bigger than the hamburger. A $3.00 meal is the double cheeseburger and small fries. $4 if you want a soda. The same with a burger is $5, $6 with a drink. Far less “food.” I would have no problem skipping Mickey D’s, but we have grandchildren with us, so I can still get out of there for around $25, as opposed to $40 – $60 elsewhere. Gas is within spitting distance of $5.

Oh, and car registration is almost $2,000. Half that next year.

So, everything but cost is fabulous here. Come visit.

Enough with the Partisan Extremism

July 18, 2022

I subscribe to a conservative newsletter. Not sure why, I’m not terribly conservative, but they had informative articles. Until they announced they were supporting Sarah Palin for some office or another. That was enough. No thanks, unsubscribe.

However, there’s a greater cancer than Us vs Them of partisan politics, and that’s opposition misrepresentation. Republicans, the Democrats aren’t setting out to destroy America. While I disagree with a lot of their ideas, I know they believe themselves to be promoting a better America, even if I disagree with their methods and platforms. Similarly, Democrats, the Republicans aren’t fascists looking to take your rights away, they simply disagree with what rights you claim.

Yelling and Shooting aren’t Discussions

I get that you can’t say what swell guys the other side is while running for office, but tone it down.

It is possible, even desirable, to have friends with contrary views. The polemics of each group simply make discussion next to impossible.

Often, compromise isn’t possible, however, the more we discuss things, the greater likelihood someone will throw out a better solution.

We raised our kids on the importance of discussion. I’ve always been proud of them that they can talk to anyone without condemning the other’s views. Maybe they should run for office.

Let’s remember how awful the last Civil War was. Let’s not repeat it.

Use your words, America, and remember we’re all in this together.

O, Civics Class, Where Hast Thou Gone?

June 26, 2022

That was eye-opening. Roe v. Wade was overturned and I stupidly tried to explain to people on Facebook that, no it doesn’t make abortion illegal, it remands it to the states. You know, like the 10th Amendment says it should. This was on a good friend’s thread that misconstrued the facts.

One of his former students was incredulous that I thought a right had to be in the Constitution for a law to be legal. Y’know, like the Constitution says.

Call me weird, but I read the Constitution regularly. I love American History, with emphasis on the creation of our country. Flawed men who did an amazing job ensuring tyranny wouldn’t ever occur in America.

These kids write off these guys as white, racist, slave owners who are so out of touch because they were rich landowners making things cushy for themselves.

It is to weep.

In man-on-the-street videos, kids couldn’t name the combatants in the Revolutionary War (I assume these videos are heavily edited, but they found a lot of people who had no idea).

Without the context of the Revolutionary War, what the Framers achieved in that document is amazing. Twisting the 4th amendment to ignore the 10th was unconscionable. Finally, that was corrected. It should be a victory, but the incendiary issue clouds everything. Except, few today seem to understand the ruling because they don’t understand the Constitution, that which our law is based.

This allows people to believe free speech only is for people who agree with them. That mental illness is protected as a right…

They don’t teach Civics in school anymore. I find school has become irrelevant to life and to life in the United States. So much should be taught and so little of value is.

Have you read the Constitution lately? Do you understand what the job of the Supreme Court is?

Ghost Driver

June 14, 2022

The move to Colorado has been glorious! Beauty, beauty, and more beauty!

The first week here, we had a three-feet snow that lingered for several days, snowing off and on. This is unusual in our neck of the mountain. Not snow, just the depth. It’s normally a couple inches that are gone the next day. Still, the reality of snow necessitated a few purchases. I ordered gloves and nifty boots from Amazon.

It hasn’t snowed since I got them.

The biggest purchase, besides the house, was a new four-wheeled drive car. The Rogue is gone, the Santa Cruz is in.

I love this vehicle. It is a car mixed with a pickup, so call it a carck. With a 5-foot bed (wish it were a bit longer, but we make do), it also has slick instruments. There’s Lane Warnings which beep at you when you go over the center or side line. It isn’t a pleasant sound, but it is evocative of William Tell’s Overture, which is counter-intuitive to safe driving (that’s the Lone Ranger theme for those who aren’t sure). We have 22 miles of gently curving mountain roads to drive to town. The Lone Ranger would ride a lot if not for… LANE ASSIST.

I love it. Lynette hates it. Turn this thing on and the car gently, so gently, keeps you in the center of the lane. You can hover your hands over the steering wheel and it will turn for you. It’s like having a ghost driving with you. The ghost drives better than I do and only tries to kill you a couple of times.

You can be grooving around a corner, ghost in control, and suddenly one of the lines is gone or glaring, and your carck wants to go off into the meadows. This is why Tonto, I mean, Lynette, hates it. She doesn’t like the self-heating seats either. We haven’t needed them, because Canon City has been hitting a 100 degrees the last few days, and in the 90s before that. We keep it cool in the high sixties, low seventies up on our mountain.

Now image the landscape every shade of green. The snow did that. 🙂

From my office, I’ve seen deer, ground squirrels, rabbits, eagles, hummingbirds, magpies, and maybe a wild horse, but probably an escaped domestic pony from up the street.

Right now, my office is in the loft. The dogs are downstairs (the log steps aren’t safe for them), and I miss them. Fortunately, I begin construction enclosing the back porch and turning it into my three-window and one French door office, giving me a view of half our acreage, and dogs who can visit through the series of dog doors.

I know visitors will think us crazy after driving the 30 miles from town to our two miles of gravel road and driveway. But when they see the house, and the view, they’ll understand.

And if they don’t, I’ll sic the Lone Ranger’s ghost on ’em!

Human Rights is Enough

April 25, 2022
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

I admit I’m lousy with math, but I’m pretty sure that dividing Human Rights is a bad idea.

Understand, I believe Human Rights belong to every human being. I don’t care what color your hair or skin are, I don’t care who you love and who you don’t. If you’re human, you have the same rights as any other.

I’m not saying every human is enjoying those rights as they fully should, but I am saying they should be under the banner of human rights. Why?

  • To make sure whatever you campaign for IS a human right (it isn’t a human right for people to agree with you, only to treat you like a human being, no matter what they believe).
  • It seems when you slice out a piece of humanity; you don’t care about other slices.
  • Acronym fatigue. LGBTQIA… it’s getting really long. How about just H?
  • Human is enough to demand your rights.

I’m not indifferent to people who feel marginalized. However, I’d need someone to point to a current law that singles them out. I think we did away with the last one several years ago.

Look, if you’re experiencing honest-to-goodness racism, not just think so (if you’re turned down for a job you didn’t apply for, that isn’t racism), then stand up for yourself, but don’t assume everyone else has the same problem you have. If they do, argue that point as an affront to your human rights, not as a slice of human, because no one is a slice of human, everyone is fully human. That’s. Enough.

The Evils of Frontier Airlines

March 8, 2022

Three months. That’s how long ago I bought my tickets to Colorado. We got there nice and early for a quick flight landing at 2:15 in the afternoon. We got to the agent and we’re told the flight was oversold and we were going to bumped to 8:00 pm. Apparently you have to buy a ticket to the flight, and separately buy your seat. Want to check a bag? $80 bucks. Want to bring one on with you? $55. Want a drink on the plane? A can of soda is $3.75. Or get a soda and a cheese plate for $10. The menu has the size of the cheese plate at actual size. The guy in front of me bought it, not me. I half expected them to spiel, “In case of emergency, a bag will drop from the ceiling. Those will be $20, or $30 if you want air.”

We weren’t alone….

The 8:00 pm flight got pushed to 10:00 pm. Then back to 9:45. Then to 11:00 pm. Let’s not forget that the car rental place in Denver closes at midnight. Frantic calls to the hotel and Budget and I was assured there would be someone to meet me. And at 1:30 am, there was. He was a nice guy, spoke English like I do math, which is to say, badly. Said he’d drop me at Avis. Not knowing Avis and Budget are the same company, confusion ensued. We got to the hotel at 4:00 am.

Note, we had to get up at 6:00 am the next day for our the showing of the house we really wanted to see. Bleary-eyed, we saw and fell in love the with cabin in the woods. We even put a bid on it. They’d been trying to sell it for a year, so we thought we were a shoe-in. Didn’t like any of the other houses we saw.

Waiting for the bid response was tricky. Frontier made it more adventurous by delaying the flight for which we spent $76 for seats (and $150 for a ticket)… just enough time to find out our bid was rejected in favor of someone who didn’t have to sell their house first.

Sigh.

The search continues, and the house is getting prepared for sale. Oh, the amount of work…

I’d say I’ll never fly Frontier again, but they gave us two free tickets, so we will. That might be their business model: Bump people and give them free tickets, bump them again and more free tickets, and eventually everyone flies for free, but not on time.

Thoughts on Entitlement

January 17, 2022

“Entitlement” is a buzz word today and I try to stay away from buzz words, but I have a different take on it.

This has been a season of loss. A swath of deaths has occurred in my life this last month (none from COVID, none who are young; being old-ish myself, my family and friends all tend to be old-ish or outright old. My aunt was in her 90s, and a dear neighbor from my childhood was also up there, but the one who rocked my world was only in his 70s. That’s old to younger people, but I’m 2 years away from 60 and 70 doesn’t seem old anymore). And I’ll be honest, the loss of my parents, though many years ago, is still fresh in my heart.

Andy was an amazing man. I’d mentioned Craig in a previous post, and Andy and Craig were the most encouraging men I’d ever known. Andy worked for our church. We’d see him every Sunday and he would never fail to brighten up and give us that Andy smile and boom, “Hey there!” I consider him a friend, though we never saw each other outside church or home group. He had that effect on everyone. And it was real. Andy was transparent, honest, and genuine. He invested in every person he saw, either with a spirit boost, a wise (and often funny) word, and down deep with the kids he employed.

Losing Andy is like losing a heart. It happened Christmas Eve and I’ve been thinking/grieving about it ever since. We have each had significant deaths in our lives, ones that will be with us forever. My parents, my brother, a teenage friend whose tragic loss marked the death of our innocence oh so long ago. Craig and Andy have joined that circle of significant loss.

I railed about four of those losses. I had a “how dare you!” attitude toward God. That was entitlement. In every case I’ve wished I’d had more time with them because I hadn’t taken as much time with them as I should have. I felt entitled to more.

The last two I have not railed about, but of course I grieve. Somewhere along the line, God reminded me that he didn’t promise me people would be around until I felt I’d had them long enough, because if that was the case no one would die and it would get crowded around here.

My failure to take the time with those I love is my failure to recognize that I am not entitled to think I have unlimited time. I’ll still grieve, I will miss them in the strangest moments, but my attitude toward God is gratitude for the time I had, not resentment for the time I didn’t. And a reminder to be more intentional with my friends.

Andy, I will miss you every time I set foot in church, probably any church. You are a fantastic model of God. It’s funny, everyone has their own image of you that will be their memory template. Some will see you as a teenager or young adult, no one will see you as old and infirm, I think most of us will see that vibrant, age-indeterminate, bright soul with matching smile. We’ll all look for you in your son and grandchildren, and also in each other, because you touched us so deeply that you left your mark.

I suspect that Jesus as a new contractor, and if he only lets you work on the homes of those you’ve impacted, you’ll be busy forever.

Dog Lives Matter

September 10, 2021

I am a dog person.

Pretty sure that qualifies me as somewhat insane (less so than cat people).

I’ve always had small dogs. A poodle, a mid-size mutt as a kid, then the best dog in the world when I was an adult who was maybe 10 inches tall. After him, a Chihuahua and a Rat Terrier (Andy, Behaire, Rainier, Grizzly and Thunder). All small, and only the Chi shed much. Short white hairs everywhere. Or so I thought.

NOW I have a beautiful Lab/Hound mix, McKinley, our first girl and first “big” dog (there are bigger, but at 70 lbs and a foot and a half tall (on all fours), she’s twice as big as any other dog we’ve had), and a golden Huskita, Tehachapi, who is an inch shorter than McKinley, but about 4 inches wider. Kinley is needy, Hatch is independent.

Oh, and Hatch reproduces his non-fleshy parts copiously. I mean this dog SHEDS. We sweep a couple times a day and wake up to drifts of undercoat all over.

Further, these big dogs wreck sofas. We’ve never been a no-dog on the furniture family, and yes, our house has always had the dog smell funk, but these two can tip over the couch and regularly move it all over the rooms. Once they shredded a cushion.

They’ve also destroyed the back lawn. We had my daughter’s dogs with us for a while and they wrecked the side yard, but these two took out the whole thing. Our grass is rooted in sand, so when they chase each other (hours every day), they rip up anything they run over. The aggressive summer has brought some of it back, just the area around the pool enclosure is bare. They also realized when it was all gone that pooping on grass is better than pooping on sand (as the person who scoops it up every week, I can’t agree). And walking in the backyard is an adventure because big dogs never poop small.

Both love to get up close and breathe heavily in your face. More than once it’s occurred to me that I have an animal who could literally bite my face off just inches away from it.

You’d have to be crazy. Just stark, staring bonkers to have dogs.

But right now, one is sacked out by the door (hope Lynette doesn’t open it suddenly), and the other is asleep under my desk (have to remember not to move my feet much). They are both beautiful, one in sleek, black dog-perfection, and the other in golden hair, golden eyes wonder. They pine when I’m out of town, and they pine when Lynette is out of town. They love to play with each other, tearing through the house. And they love to cuddle. Kinley a lot and Hatch occasionally and not for long (people are hot!).

The Ying and Yang of it.

They also fill the house with presence. We’re older and either don’t radiate presence as much or can’t sense it as easily, but the house overflows with life. That’s probably why I’m a dog person. Houses need life.

These 140 pound puppies look to us for everything. They occasionally obey, and they look great draped over the couch.

I mentioned they are both puppies. Kinley is almost done growing and will max out around 75 pounds. Hatch, old thunderpaws, is nowhere near grown into his feet. My guess is he’ll grow 5 more inches and jump over 100 pounds.

The worst/best thing is that with these monsters, we can’t have people over. Best because we’re introverts who are happy not to have people over, and worst because sometimes it’s great to have people over.

Mostly, though, these dogs deserve a good life and they weren’t getting that before us. The beautiful, 14 pound McKinley was in a dog shelter, and little Hatch was… well, he’s safe now, and regularly fed.

Black Lives Matter

July 20, 2021

Of course they do. Black Lives Matter, which has an element of a corrupt organization, mostly has brought a real struggle to national conversation. But who do you have the conversation with? Yes, I have black friends, but we talk about friend stuff. I don’t want inelegant, often not-fully-formed ideas to harm a relationship. I’m happy to respond if it’s instigated, but it seems gauche to expect my friends to represent some black ideal. Fortunately, I have a blog for this stuff.

The question I’d want to ask is: Where do you feel your American Identity begins?

The Thirteen Colonies America's Beginning. Who were the First People in  America? One may think that Christopher Columbus was the person in America,  but. - ppt download
For All Americans!

I would hope with at least the Mayflower. Definitely the Revolution. But please, please, please, don’t let it begin with Slavery.

My family did not come over on the Mayflower, but it is the beginning of my American Identity. Much of my easily-identified family came over after the Civil War. Some could argue that my cultural identity begins in Ireland or Norway, but I don’t identify as Irish or Norwegian in any cultural way. I don’t know their cultures. I’m an American. (I don’t care for the terms African American, Asian American, Native American. We’re all Americans, why modify it?)

Slavery is the greatest national evil we’ve ever embraced, yet even at the founding of our country, it wasn’t fully embraced. The ability to change the Constitution was included specifically to enable the abolishment of slavery. And end it did.

Abolition meant everyone born here is a fully-invested American. Certainly, not everyone was always treated that way, but the fact of the matter is that every free person who is an American citizen owns the entire ideal of America. Freedom.

The ideal falls short far too often. But freedom isn’t meant to be easy. It is to be fought for, and yes, some have to fight harder for it. Not all of those people are black.

Here’s one of those half-formed thoughts. Today’s black people have more in common with our forefathers than they do with slaves.

Is where our identity begins really that big of deal? YES!

I imagine my great great grandfather Ole first stepping foot on American soil. The excitement! The bindings he sought to escape fell off, their weight suddenly absent. Ole knew he could be anyone in America! What he worked for would be his. I’m sure he quickly found out that it wasn’t that easy. Maybe they didn’t speak English. Maybe they didn’t have the skills or fortitude they’d need to succeed, but they worked hard, learned skill and gained fortitude from the struggle.

As his great great grandson, I didn’t have the immediate excitement. Freedom that was free isn’t as keenly felt. Yet as I learned about the promise of America, I did get excited.

I want that for black people. To begin your American identity with slavery is to begin with oppression. That is not who you are. You are as the founders were. If the color of their skin bothers you, imagine them in the dark. We’re all the same color in the dark.

You are an American. Like all of us, you have to build skills, learn fortitude, turn your personal story into strength. The forces against success are strong, but as an American, you have the ability to be stronger. Ole didn’t ask that it be easy, just possible.

For you, American, it’s possible. Work hard. If you have to, work harder. With every beat down, remember it’s possible. That’s what we all have as Americans.