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Adieu, Cru!

September 3, 2018

Fourteen years ago, I bought my first new car. I’d had good cars in the past, and some great ones, but I’d always bought used. For some reason, this time I stopped into a dealership looking for a Toyota Matrix, but upon test drive, discovered it was gutless. No zip, not acceleration… In Florida, zip is necessary to survive the worst drivers on the planet.

So we stopped into another dealer and they just happened to have a cherry red 2004 PT Cruiser. I’d never had a red car before, and I liked the retro look. When I got it, man! it was so spacious! We drove off with it, feeling apprehensive and elated. Such a nice car need to be garaged, and it was.

A few months later, we moved, and because we were moving in, I parked it in driveway. A neighbor kid who knew use from church pedaled madly down the street, waiving at us, came over the easement, flashed over the sidewalk, lost control in grass and thumped the side of my car, leaving a golfball sized dent. On my precious new car. Fourteen years later, that is still the only dent in the car.

I hid it in the garage after that, away from marauding bicycles, but eventually, I built an office in my garage and the Cruiser had to live under the trees, sick birds, and assault squirrels. The paint began to fade. Newer cars had bluetooth and backup cameras. The Cruiser had manual locks. And the CD player broke. No one else like to drive it (score!).

I’ve had to replace the radiator, brake system, a few things here and there, but overall, it’s been a great car. Recently the check engine light came on. Catalytic Converter issue. The door chime started going off all the time, and a weird rattle came from right side of the car, like something was stuck and vibrating in the speaker. When I stopped the car, water burbled in the engine. There were probably frogs in the engine. They were certainly in the cabin. I started talking to the Cruiser, telling her she was a good girl and not to quit on me now.

Yesterday, we traded her in for a new car. I had to remind myself that cars are objects with no feelings. My jaw stood firm, if gritted.

Our new car has Bluetooth. And a backup camera. And other bells and whistles we discover as we go. It’s not brand new, just new to us. We buy our cars at CarMax now. It’s a dark green Chevy Cruz. Pretty slick. We call it the Jalapeno. My wife drives it. I get the Gerkin, our pickle-colored Kia Soul.

It has Bluetooth.

I’ll my my PT Cruiser and hope her new owner, or owner of her various parts, will treat her well.

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SPAM or Help?

August 16, 2018

I got an email from passwordhelp@wordpress.com saying my password has been hacked and that they’ve locked me out of my account. It looks real.

And yet here I post.

Yet why would someone want to hack my WordPress account?

I’m baffled.

(Baffled is an interesting word. It can mean I’m confused, or rigged to run silent.)

I Love America, Flaws and All

July 6, 2018

I did heavy eye-rolling at all the people posting they weren’t proud of America because of Trump. As if America could be dimmed by a single person. America is an idea, a dream, a symbol of freedom, and continually defies her attackers.  Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump… they are a footnote in tiny print of the document that is America. If America was the government, we’d all be in trouble. It’s not though, it’s the people, seemingly hopelessly divided as we are, that constitute the beacon on the hill.

The government blows.

Really.See the source image

England sneered at our concept of democracy. It’s a horrible form of government, doomed to mediocrity by its very definition. They didn’t think it would last.

Make no mistake, Democracy is horrible, but it’s the best in the world (God help us).

By definition, democracy is government by committee. We’ve all been part of a committee, every member with their own hairbrained idea. You can come in with the best idea, but by the time everyone’s done picking at it, the idea is watered-down, scuffed, and humbled, becoming even worse in execution.

This is why the government doesn’t do anything well. They can’t. Mire that committee down with political agendas and bureaucracy and a mediocre idea becomes leaden with inefficiency, waste, scope creep and drift.

All that and it’s still better than a monarchy or dictator, because the same issues burden those bastions of slavery. In this case, the committee is of the dictator’s immorality (much like our watered-down politicians), which makes for an ugly country. Socialism and Communism are dictatorships in sheep’s clothing. In none of these but democracy are individuals given a voice.

I like to think I have great ideas for running this country. I’ve even half-heartedly considered running for some office hire than dog-catcher, but realism intervenes. Great ideas don’t survive. Government is the answer.

My siblings on the left believe government is a solution. Balderdash. It’s more like sludge.

Government should only do what it must and not a drop more. Politicians like to come to Washington with buckets, though, and continue to grow the government beyond its purview. That’s left and right alike.

Government should get out of America’s way.

Corporatism isn’t the way to go, either. But at least capitalism is run on the only reliable emotion, and is therefore predictable. That emotion is greed.

So, what is America to do?  The right move is to strip government down and allow greed to truly sicken people (and it will). Imagine if all those people protesting for the government to reform, instead sought private sector solutions. I envision a growing non-profit movement.

Imagine if the protestors clamoring about immigration and children being separated from their parents decided to actually do something, like setting up immigration go-between services; becoming educated on human trafficking to recognize many kids aren’t with their parents, but coyotes.

I’ve come to believe protest is worthless. It makes people feel like they’re doing something when they aren’t. It allows people to know nothing and just yell and chant to feel morally superior. If you want to be part of a solution, understanding the problem is paramount.

Stop yelling “government change!” and start recognizing “I must change!”

That’s America. Sweat equity and helping one another out where their passion is high. The government can’t do it, only America can!

 

Give me your poor… My who now?

June 30, 2018

A friend on Facebook was ranting about how current policy isn’t good for the “poor.”

My question is, “Which poor?”  I think he meant the homeless, which is a growing problem, but there is no archetype for the poor or homeless. Just as there’s no black, white, or Asian representation of the whole group, the poor/homeless are a mixed bag, and no one solution can work for all of them. I’m going to break it down to categories, yet even these have subcategories. That’s what makes homelessness and poverty a thorny knot to cut.

I call them the Crazies, the Lazies, the Dazies, the Staysies, and the Not-Staysies.

The Crazies are the mentally ill. They need help, can’t hold a job and are a job for the government. However, they have human rights, too, so the mentally ill who aren’t a danger to others can’t be Baker Acted. They have to ask for help, and for some, it’s beyond them.

The Lazies are those who choose to be poor and/or homeless. They are capable of work, but don’t want to. They want handouts from people and the government. There is an educational component to this, but it’s really a mindset.

The Dazies are drug addicts. Again, they need help, but different help than the others.

The Staysies are the persistent poor, victim to institutional racism and damaging self-talk. Education either wasn’t possible or it was believed to be irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter if the institutional racism is gone, it’s still alive in the culture. The lack of education and marketable skills make them poor. The derision of education keeps them there.

The Not Staysies are the victims of circumstances. This happens a lot. For some it’s a bad business decision, a recession, bad choices, medical disasters, but they won’t stay poor or homeless. They have the ability to get back on their feet and the will to do so.

Welfare can help the Not Staysies, yet it can hinder the Staysies; they need some, but they need a lot more than that.

The Dazies and Crazies need medical help. If the government pays for it (re: taxpayers), I think the Dazies need to work off the debt. The mentally ill, less so. They didn’t ask for the problem, they didn’t necessarily make bad choices that took them there.

The Lazies and Staysies require more than just education. They require a cultural adjustment. Yes, some cultures are bad and need to be abandoned. All the money skills in the world are meaningless if the cultural pressures make you incapable of handling money (I’ve gotten away with it, but my middle-class culture has some redeeming qualities, such as work-ethic and prizing education).

This is America, so any programs HAVE to be voluntary. I think people on welfare who are in their 40s and beyond need continued access to it, unless they choose the new programs, but I also think anyone under 40 needs a deadline on welfare. Long enough to see them through programs (that they don’t have to take if they don’t want to) but not much longer.

The biggest fight would be the re-culturalization. “Who are you to say what cultural traits are good or bad?” I think we could rely on the research, which says valuing education, marrying and then having kids, and understanding proper money management are proven positive factors. Our current dominant culture would fight the statistics about marriage and kids within marriage.  Perhaps with the welfare benefits curtailed, that might change since welfare encourages having more children out of wedlock.

We flat-out need continuing education availability. While it’s true kids who drop out of school make that decision themselves (most of the time), immaturity has to be taken into account. Online free GED and remedial education needs to be available. And I still think another branch of the military that isn’t a fighting force needs to be created. Skills training, re-culturalization, and then a number of years served using those skills in service of infrastructure and helping in Improvement Zones (areas of blight fixed up for free, including tenements and low-income sectors).

Our “throw money at it” philosophy doesn’t work. We would still have poor and homeless, but it would be their choice, and no benefits other than the programs to help them.

We need to rethink America’s problems so we can actually fix them.

Innocent until the Media Tells you Different

June 23, 2018

An executive fired because he told his employees not to write certain words and then listed them out loud. Another fired for giving hugs to people who found it uncomfortable, but never said so.

An accusation of abuse 50 years ago and the priest steps down. People call for his blood in the most graphic of ways.

Me Too claims automatically accepted and the alleged perpetrators vilified and hounded out of careers. Were any of them convicted of anything? Did any of them admit it?

People are arrested for heinous crimes and people talk, scream and protest as if a verdict has already been reached.

Children of border-crossers are separated from parents… and Facebook can speak of nothing else. How many pitching in even have a clue of what’s really happening?

Innocent until proven guilty is not just a nicety of law. It’s a reminder to all of us that we aren’t privy to all the facts. The accused may not be guilty of anything. That event may not be covered accurately by the press, cops may get things wrong (that’s why we have juries).

I do think accusers should be given the benefit of provisional belief. I also think such claims should be investigated.

But let us be a people who reserve venom. Who wait for the facts. Or at least the verdict.

And we rage out against something we think is horrible… let’s make sure it is. It may very well be horrible. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Returning to Your Regularly Unscheduled Blog

June 11, 2018

I admit I’m new to Twitter. I’ve chirped a couple times to know fanfare. Then I ended up on a thread and innocently answered a question that I took at face value. The twit who asked the question promptly wished me death by several fatal diseases. Then a dozen people liked the deathwish.

See the source image

A pregnant goldfish is called a… you guessed it… twit.

Even more amusing, half a dozen twits made wild assumptions about my personal condition (I wish I was wealthy and healthy, and if I was heartless, these twits wouldn’t bother me, but they do a little bit). The amusing part was that every assumption was a 100% wrong and 180-degrees from the truth.

Fortunately, it was followed by a polite twittering with a reasonable human being… then I found out he was Canadian, who are congenitally polite.

The nastiness of people astounds me. Way back when I was a kid, dark ages though they were, we learned about the Constitution and, equally importantly, the concept of pluralism in which we not only tolerate but embrace multiple schools of thought. That doesn’t mean we agree with every ideology, just that we seek to understand or at least openly discuss ideas, and even if you disagree, respect the other.

I’ve been careless in the past with my love of debate and the passion of my thoughts, but wishing people dead or assuming someone must be evil (without first confirming they are) is beyond the pale.

So clearly, the deathwish twit must be an uneducated youth, who can be forgiven their exuberance, but tracking back, no, she is a PhD of something fluffy. I bet she has a Coexist bumper sticker…

Anonymity breeds slugs, thugs, pugs, and drugs (maybe not the last one, it just kinda snuck in there).

Can’t we all just get along?

The Clock Has Wound Down…!

June 8, 2018

You might be wondering why we gave away Always Look for the Magic by Bonnie Manning Anderson for FREE (and now for the low cost of $3.97)…Always Look for the Magic by [Manning Anderson, Bonnie]

There are a few reasons for book giveaways.

  1. To make you fall in love with the author’s writing and characters so you’ll buy the new book. That isn’t why we’re doing Bonnie’s book for free, though. She will have a new book in 2019, if not earlier (right, Bonnie?!)
  2. Reviews are vital to a book’s success. We put Bonnie’s book on your Kindle FOR FREE because we want you to review it on Amazon. Go ahead, be brutally honest. It’s a great book and we don’t fear negative comments because you’d have to be wacko to dislike it. Amazonians look to reviews. The more reviews, the more likely people will buy it. If you’ve downloaded it (and you should, even for $3.97!), read and review, please. Or if your child reads it, review with their insights.
  3. Ranking: The more people who downloaded it, the higher the book goes in Amazon ranking, which gives it preferential display on Amazon. Again, sales oriented.
  4. We’re not just profit-oriented, though, we’re reader-focused. Who doesn’t like a great yarn they get for free?
  5. Teachers don’t make a lot of money. They can preview a book worthy to add to their reading list for students. And Always Look for the Magic is a great student reading assignment. Ideal for English and History classes, Bonnie’s book should be on every reading list.
  6. Sales, reviews, and ranking also motivate a writer to sit down and write! I can tell you when I got a phone call from a reader of my novel Do Angels Still Fall (not free, but low-cost on Amazon), the eagerness of her questions made be burn to write another book (I did, Me and the Maniac in Outer Space. It’s a big book, also low-cost as Kindle and slightly more expensive as a paperback).
  7. You win when you encourage a writer to write. Good stories lower stress, improved outlook, and it helps you lose weight (OK, one of those isn’t true; I’ll let you guess which one).

This is a link-heavy post, and kick me for not posting this earlier, but MEET BONNIE! This YouTube video gives you a look into her story.  It’s still inexpensive, download it TODAY. If you call me friend, or Bonnie friend, or want a great story, do it, do it, do it!

Also learn about Bonnie on her www.prevailpress.com author page!

You’ll be glad you did. And just think, you can get all the books above for the cost of a single hardcopy book. This looks like a weekend for reading…

*Cross-pollinated for maximum readership. If you got this twice, you should have bought these all already!