Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Year Approaches

It's been a rough year, or more specifically a rough second half of the year, for me.
I'm not sad to see it go.
Most of it is a blur, punctuated by a few highs and lows, as I'd bet it is for most people.
I'm going to try to forget the lows, and work on new highs in the upcoming year.

Along with the new year, another birthday also approaches for me. I'll be (gulp!) 44 on January 10th. I can honestly say I never imagined that I'd be where I am. I'm going to try to see that as an opportunity to drive forward to somewhere better, that I can't imagine being at this moment.

Actually, I can imagine a lot. It's fun. It's good for the soul, don't you think?

I'll post again soon, and share some of those imaginings, perhaps.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spot Thieves

These are two of our four cats- Agate is the dark one, and Samantha is the white calico. They cuddle up together all the time to groom eachother, and sleep arm in arm like in the picture. Unfortunately, their favorite place to do this is in MY computer chair!
I'm not quite sure if Agate thinks she's Sam's mom, or if they're just lesbians. Either way, it's cute as hell!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Four Days To Go

I've been planning this event for over 2 months, with very limited assistance. I'm nervous, stressed, and also quite proud of myself for even jumping into this, let alone feet first.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pitfalls of Democracy and the Difference Between Law and Regulation

I’ve been re-reading a book by Frank Herbert, called Chapterhouse- Dune. There are some fantastic passages in it about politics and law in general, and democracy in particular that really strike home with me these days. I’ll share some of this, but delete much of the dialogue of the conversation they come from and just include what is most pertinent, or it would be quite a long job of copying. I’ll highlight what strikes me most, and ask if you also see the parallels to what has been happening within our own government, both recently but also since it began.

Dama: “People always have government.”

Lucilla “People always have politics. I told you yesterday, Politics: the art of appearing candid and completely open while concealing as much as possible”

Dama: “What about bureaucrats?”

Lucilla: “They have no room to maneuver because that’s the way their superiors grow fat. If you don’t see the difference between regulation and law, both have the force of law.”

Dama: “I see no difference.”

Lucilla: “Laws convey the myth of enforced change. A bright new future will come because of this law or that one. Laws enforce the future. Regulations are believed to enforce the past.”

“In each instance action is illusory.”

“Isn’t it odd, Dama, how rebels all too soon fall into old patterns if they are victorious? It’s not so much a pitfall in the path of all governments as it is a delusion waiting for anyone who gains power.”

Dama: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lucilla: “Wrong, Dama. Something more subtle but far more pervasive: Power attracts the corruptible.”

Lucilla: “More law! You say ‘We need more law!’ So you make new instruments of non-compassion and incidentally, new niches of employment for those who feed on the system.”

Dama: “That’s the way it’s always been and always will be.”

Lucilla: “Wrong again. It’s a rondo. It rolls and rolls until it injuries the wrong person or the wrong group. Then you get anarchy. Chaos. Rebels, terrorists, increasing outbursts of raging violence.”

Lucilla: “Democracy is susceptible to being led astray by having scapegoats paraded in front of the electorate. Get the rich, the greedy, the criminals, the stupid leader and so on ad nauseam.”
“You know the flaw. A top-heavy bureaucracy the electorate cannot touch always expands to the system’s limits of energy. Steal it from the aged, from the retired, from anyone. Especially from those we once called the middle class because that’s where most of the energy originates.”

“I presume you have some form of civil service for your ‘lower orders’.”

Dama: “We take care of our own.”

Lucilla: “Then you know how that dilutes the vote. Chief symptom: People don’t vote. Instinct tells them it’s useless.”

Dama: “Democracy is a stupid idea anyway!”

Lucilla: “We agree. It’s demagogue-prone. That’s a disease to which electoral systems are vulnerable. Yet demagogues are easy to identify. They gesture a lot and speak with pulpit rhythms, using words that ring of religious fervor and god-fearing sincerity.”

“Repetition. Great attempts to keep your attention on words. You must pay no attention to words. Watch what the person does. That way you learn the motives.”

Dama: “You know how to make a democracy do what you want.”

Lucilla: “The technique is quite subtle but easy. You create a system where most people are dissatisfied, vaguely or deeply. This builds up widespread feelings of vindictive anger. Then you supply targets for that anger as you need them.”

Dama: “A diversionary tactic.”

Lucilla: "I prefer to think of it as distraction. Bury your mistakes in more law. You traffic in illusion. Bullring tactics. Wave the pretty cape. They’ll charge it and be confused when there’s no matador behind the thing. That dulls the electorate just as it dulls the bull. Fewer people use their vote intelligently next time.”

“Then you rail against the electorate. Make them feel guilty. Keep them dull. Feed them. Amuse them. Don’t overdo it.”

We have been lulled and dulled by the bureaucracy, and have been given bread and circuses to keep us that way. And the current administration wishes to dull us even more. Why? Because power attracts the corruptible. Every person who actively seeks office is suspect! I think we’d be much better off if power over our affairs were only given to those who are reluctant, and only under conditions that increase that reluctance.Unfortunately, I do not see that in our near future, so we must use our vote intelligently, in spite of the efforts of the bureaucracy to thwart us in order to keep their positions of power.
I do believe that we can avoid most of the pitfalls inherent in our system of government, by continued diligence, always being aware of the shortcomings of our system, weeding out the corrupt, and keeping in mind the difference between law and regulation. When our government continually uses them interchangeably, we see what is happening now, with them taking ever larger steps in their grasping of control.
Law is the promise of a better future. Regulation is the oversight of what is already in place. The government continually makes promises ever increasingly hard to keep through the passage of more and more law, rather than utilizing proper regulatory oversight of that which is already in practice. They are mistaken in their thinking that this would be better, let alone easier. But what it DOES do though is grant them much more power and control over the populace. I thought that the American form of democracy was put in place to reduce the same type of control which drove us into a revolution in the first place, and yet here we are, facing the same pitfalls, because we have become confused, complacent, dulled, like the bull in the bullring.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I've been thinking..

I've been pondering many disquieting things I've seen happening in Washington DC lately, trying to wrap my brain around them. I decided I needed to take a different approach and look at these decisions not individually but as a whole, rather than dealing with the Hate Crimes Bill, Stimulus Bill, Healthcare Bill, Cap and Trade Bill, Auto Industry Takeover, the upcoming Copenhagen Conference, proposed amnesty, targeted over-taxation of the wealthy, ad nauseum all separately. Many will disagree with me that these are problems at all, but I beg to differ based on the fact that the country has been fractured and factioned by them, not whether they are good decisions or bad ones.

What I've learned about figuring out large and many-faceted problems is that one must assume complete naiveté, and forget everything you think you know. Begin by asking questions- answers aren't as important as the imbalances revealed by the questions themselves. These imbalances lead us to the areas where we need to gather more data, or if enough exists we can compute a projection.

First question: "What does the government gain by this?" This question shows a distinct imbalance, in that seldom is this question asked by those outside the government itself. Most people assume that the government is acting in our best interest, not in their own best interest.

Answer- "Negative results will occur/have occurred by these decisions on several levels- both fiscally and socially." Fiscally, our nation is deeper in debt than any time in history, with no end in sight. Socially, we are being torn apart from within by the intentional fostering of the natural human tendency to separate into groups, by calling continuous attention to the differences we have in opinion and lifestyles among other things.

Second question: "What does the government gain by accepting negative results?" This question also shows distinct imbalance, in that you'd think nothing would be gained… until you actually ask the question and think longer on it.

Answer- "Instability." We are weakening financially and socially as a nation, a combination that historically creates internal instability within governments and nations.

Third question: "Who does stand to gain by the US government acquiring instability?" This question is the granddaddy of them all, showing a HUGE imbalance, by the disquieting thought that anyone at all stands to gain by it. But someone MUST.

Answer- "Not known- not enough data to determine a definitive answer from all available possibilities." The list is long.

What we do know without question is that our government is making many decisions that are contradictory to the good of the nation, both fiscally and socially. They are increasing the debt by astronomical amounts, and seemingly purposely driving a wedge between those who have and those who have less, Democrats and Republicans, Whites and Minorities, business owners and employees, etc.
The question that must be answered is, truly, who gains? That answer will tell us why the decisions have been made by the people making them.
We need more concrete data to answer it, at this point. I do have some ideas as to whom would gain.. but not enough to figure out who would gain enough to warrant our government's actions.

Once we have that answer, we will know what must be done to protect ourselves, maintain our freedoms, and maintain a prosperous nation as a whole. I just hope that answer doesn't come too late to do so.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I've been feeling kind of blah

I'm not really sure why, since the weather has been pretty good up till today, and life is humming along. Perhaps I'm waiting for a shoe to drop?

Friday, May 29, 2009

politics in the wee hours

It’s 3:00 AM & I’m on the ‘puter. The TV is on for noise but I noticed that “West Wing” was on. It’s only on one channel & only at 2:00 AM. I liked it before so I stopped to watch it.

This episode centered on the debate between the incumbent President & his opponent. I noticed that when the “President” was speaking, knowing full well that it’s fiction, I still got goosebumps. I’m not a liberal but I’m not quite a conservative either. I don’t agree with some of the politics of the show, nor do I agree with those of Martin Sheen. He may have spent more time in the “Oval Office” than any real president but he’s always been distressingly liberal.

My point is in the form of a question: When was the last time any real life candidate, for any office, of any party, gave you goosebumps when you heard him speak? I don’t remember but it’s a fair bet that I was a helluva lot younger & I bet you all were too. Why do you s’pose that is? When did we stop expecting, demanding that our elected officials (especially to the highest office) be passionate, intelligent, ethical, honest, & realistic? That they be realistic about what can/can’t be achieved & about the compromises that may be necessary to get anything done? Realistic, even while dreaming, believing that we, as a country, can do better; can BE better.

When did we become so “fat,” lazy & complacent? When did we decide to accept “the best of a bad lot”? I’m just as guilty as anyone else; between trying to keep a roof over my head (with mixed success) & not go completely bonkers I stopped believing that “if you don’t like your politics or your politicians, then for Gods sake, CHANGE THEM !

I have an old beat up t-shirt that I wear when I go vote; “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” It may be accurate; but when did it all become a joke? I have said for years “there may not be anything or anyone I want to vote for but there is damn well something or someone that I want to vote against”. Again, it may be accurate, but what bothers me is that I can’t even remember when I actually started to believe it.

The first time W. ran for president, I voted for him because Al Gore scared the shit out of me. He still does; maybe more. The second time, I voted for him because I felt the same about Kerry. As for the most recent debacle, there weren’t really any good choices. Ron Paul was interesting but I think he stood too close to a microwave at some time. I didn’t want to but I went with McCain. In all three elections, I voted against someone not because I believed “W” or McRino would do a good job or because I had sparkling republican pixie dust in my eyes. To be brutally honest; I figured that while W. might try to overturn Roe V. Wade, he would leave me my guns to defend my right to choose. REALLY !

The lesser of two evils is a lousy reason to vote for anything beyond prom queen.

I wasn’t always like this; my folks were on opposite sides of the political fence but they spent a lot of time raising me to think for myself. They taught me that responsibility & duty go along with freedom; that what is now called “giving back to one’s community” was just how you lived your life. They taught me that public service was not an onerous duty but my proud privilege as an American. They did good work, I believed them. For a while.

When I graduated from high school, I was as empty-headed a liberal as ever there was. I was in the Navy for several years before I was able to vote in a presidential election. By then, that fatuous liberal gleam in my eye had been snuffed out by reality. And an ugly, bloody reality it was. I learned that our government & elected officials, along with the media, cannot be trusted with the lives of our service men & women. I learned first hand that the Cold War was a very real & deadly war regardless of what the libs said, then or now.

I worked intel in a several capacities, often behind multiple cypher locked doors & armed guards. I knew there were very good reasons for both. Isolated duty meant that we were our own fire, sabotage alert, bomb threat & defense force. Even the “topside” troops would not be able to help us in a crisis because they couldn’t be permitted into the building & any aid was always at least 5 hours away by chopper.

However, even then, I still believed what my folks had taught me were important. I was an American with a capital “A”. Still, somewhere along the line, I started to become cynical. When I got out, it only got worse. Not just because I was slowly starting to come unhinged but because I ran into people all over hell’s half-acre that couldn’t & wouldn’t read or think for themselves. They had their hands out expecting the “guvmint” to solve all their problems. They certainly couldn’t be bothered to inform themselves about such an arcane subject as politics. Not when they had computers, cell phones & designer duds to buy & honest work to avoid. To me, those who won’t are the worst & possibly subhuman. The truly stupid have some excuse; the lazy & serenely ignorant have none at all.

So I got to wondering how we got this way. I’m not talking about political corruption; like “the poor,” who have always been with us & always will be. I’ve said before that I would vote for a “business politician” with a clear conscience, knowing that he is corrupt, over a “reform politician” every time. They’re both corrupt but a business politician stays bought. He only sells his soul once per issue because he knows that his word is all he has to sell & if he breaks it folks will stop buying.

A reform politician has, first & foremost, conned himself & honestly believes he wants to help the “dear peepul” bless their precious, rancid, black hearts. He is bought & paid for but he will sell his soul & break his word 5 times before breakfast if someone convinces him that it is “for the good of the people.” That’s why he has assorted flunkies to do his dirty work & fall on their swords if they get caught. What’s scary is that he may not even be aware it. It doesn’t matter what party either belongs to, although most reformers tend to fall on the liberal side of the bell curve.

I wonder when good, responsible, ethical politics & politicians became fictional characters. Why a well-crafted show about such politics & people, that won a truck load of Emmy’s is relegated to one channel & only broadcast in the wee small hours. Think about it, there are a half-dozen channels that are still running MASH & Dark Shadows reruns. The TV gods know that people watched it (in droves) & would again but still it took 3 years to even show up opposite Mother Angelica & the infomercials.

Sure, they “saved the world” & “slayed their share of dragons” but they also showed the cost of doing so. They even went so far as to show that sometimes the dragon wins & eats its share of Saint Georges.

All I can figure is that someone is afraid to remind us that there’s an alternative to dishonest & incompetent career politicians. As Bill Cobsy has said more than once to his kids; “I brought you into this world & I can take you out.” I guess someone doesn’t want the public to remember “We put you into office & we can take you out.” So, as much as I’m able, I am going to try to prove Sam Clemens wrong; I’m not just going to bitch about politics, I’m gonna to do something about it.

Like I said; “Think about it.” Really.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Verbiage

Some odd little comments occur to me from time to time or I hear them from some one else. Since there is no earthly reason for this post I wanted to share them with the rest of the universe. Arsenio Hall used to have those "things that make you go hmmm." I have things that make you go, "What the fuck?"

Things like:
If we aren't supposed to eat humans why are they made of meat?
There must be a pony.
A little random malevolence always makes me feel better. --- D. Trent on Waiting For God.
Life lost some of its beauty when truth drugs replaced
thumbscrews and hot irons. --- Hazel Meade Davis Stone in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by
Robert Heinlein
The last thing I want to do is hurt you but it’s still on the
The whole world is going to hell and I’m driving the bus.
And, my personal fave and the guiding thought in my life:
"It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees". --- Emiliano Zappata

I've been up all night (again!) and just wanted to share those tasty little tidbits with someone.
I'm sure there will be more. Same time, same station.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I've found out I will soon have more time to devote to this little endeavor. I hope to shape this blog to be something unique to myself- humorous, insightful, hopefully intelligent.
I hope more will read, enjoy, and comment.
More to come soon!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I have four wonderful kids. None of them live with me any longer- the two eldest on their own, and the younger girls living with their father. I don't mind- he needs them more than I do right now, I think. Full time fatherhood keeps him sober, out of trouble, and gives him a purpose he was missing when all he did was work at his job to support us all. And he's doing a pretty good job of it.
I miss being a mother on a daily basis though. I miss the fun of it, anyway. I don't really miss the incredible work of trying to keep up with them all, when my back was failing. It was incredibly tough to be a good mom when I had to grit my teeth, bear the pain, and pretend I was up for it.
I do miss the laughs, the hugs, the fun we had as a family. I miss watching them grow and learn daily. Now, I'm relelgated to the occasional weekend to try to cram everything into two days.
I'm extremely lucky in having the children I do. They are all so very unique, intelligent, happy people. It is more than gratifying- and humbling- to know I was a large part in helping them accomplish that. It sounds cliché, but they are the reason for me being here, I'm certain of it.
It may be Mother's Day, but I want to thank Alaina, Andrew, Alexandra and Sarah for giving me the title.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Youngest Child Will Rule Us All One Day

My youngest, a daughter, will be 11 on May 5th.
She is always smiling, and has the most devilish giggle for a little girl.
She's been plotting her rise to world domination since the age of 8, when she created a list of things she may need to accomplish this.
It doesn't include an army, WMD's of any sort- not even a cosmic death ray- nothing you'd suppose it to include.
No, it had things like "16 bendy straws" and "45 pounds of butter". My favorite though was when she had already handed the list of about 7 different items in various quantities to me to peruse, when she exclaimed, "Wait! I forgot!" and took it back, quickly writing three little words that still give me the shivers- "One air vent".
What goes through the mind of such a child as this?
She has perfect pitch, a beautiful soprano voice. She's teaching herself the keyboard and the tin whistle. She is a straight A student, with a proclivity towards maths and sciences, even though reading and writing are her loves. In one hand she will have a biography of Nikola Tesla and "Aragon" in the other, and not to forget the ever present notebook tucked under an arm. She learned how to work out Einstein's theory of relativity before she was 9, looking up the speed of light, and plugging in an arbitrary number for mass.
She has Happy Bunny posters next to her poster sized pictures from the Hubble of our own dear Sol, and the Crab Nebula.
She has a creative streak a mile wide, creating wonderfully odd sculptures for me, and beautiful Kabuki figures for my room mate. She is performing on her birthday, singing the "Connemara Lullaby" at the school talent show.
She talks to our animals as if she were one of them, with an uncanny knack for knowing what will make them happy.
Yes, if she wants to, she could accomplish any goal she may have, and do it with a dimpled grin, and that giggle.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One of my Favorite People Died

Richard Lindenfelser, a farmer from Albertville MN died last week of a massive heart attack.
He was one of the jolliest, kindest, happiest people I've ever known.
He was the father of one of my best friends while growing up. He and his wife Marlene have always come to every family function of import ever since I can remember. Last time I saw them was at my grandmother's funeral almost 2 years ago. He hugged me, even though he hadn't seen me in well over a decade.
I had known him since I was 7 years old. I'm 43 now. That's a good stretch of time. He himself was timeless. He and Marlene are family.
I will miss him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Children In Trust for our Future

Children In Trust for our Future

"Children are not property nor slaves. Children are held in trust, as they are the next generation. There is no greater privilege than to hold this responsibility. Never get the notion into your heads that they are anything else, nor that our task as parents is anything less than the utmost of importance, or you delve into the realm of true abuse." - Marcia J. LaVine

Yes, that's me. I wrote this in part awhile back, and revised and refined it this evening. I've written quite a bit over time on parenting, what it means to me, and what I believe it should mean to every American parent. Here are a few of my finer points on the matter, and I've included some of my thoughts on government intervention, poor parenting, and when I believe the two shall meet.

"Being a parent is not only the hardest job, but the most thankless, especially when they are the parent of a teenager. Teenager is, contrary to most modern thinking, not a swear word, and I resent the fact that most people, other parents included, seem to believe that all teens are inherently evil, vile, distasteful, or otherwise unsavory and not to be wanted around. I adore having teenagers. They are creative, dark, mysterious, growing, learning, thinking creatures, and I was one of them, not so very long ago, in my own mind. Consider the fact that I think of myself as a 23 year old, with 20 years of experience, and you get my drift. I pity the man or woman who has forgotten what it is like to be young like that! Even with the angst, anguish, hatred for authority, and all the rest that goes along with being a teenager, it was a wondrous time, learning the ins and outs of early adulthood, finding a new footing between child and grown up."

"The government is truly the worst thing to happen to parenthood since the advent of religion."

"I want the government out of my bedroom, and out of my child's nursery."

"One of the worst things to explain to my children was when I had to reassure them that we were not horrible people just because we didn't pay the government to recycle our glass and aluminum. I had to tell them that because we didn't pay to have it picked up didn't mean that we didn't care. We took our stuff directly to the recyling plant, and got money, instead of paying for it. How can that be bad? Unfortunately, the teacher had told the children that if we didn't have the recyling truck pick up our stuff, then we were bad, and creating waste that was killing the planet. How in hell do you get a teacher to stop feeding this destructive crap to your kid?" "A bad parent doesn't give a shit about setting rules, limits, or boundaries, and allows someone else to do it for them."

"Teachers are only teachers, not parents. The government has set up a system where teachers have more power than parents today, and that has changed the fundamental dynamic of the family as a unit."

"The government has no right to tell me what morals to instill in my child. They may have a certain interest in what I teach them for values, but not morals. And they are not the same thing. No politician has the right to demand I teach my child the moral definition of what constitutes "life" as they see fit. They can dictate what the schools teach of as the scientific definition of it, but have no right to teach the moral definition. That is a parental job, not a government function. The government should not be able to dictate to me or my child what the moral definition of "good" is, but can legislate and therefore define "bad" behavior in the form of laws; what the society as a whole has determined to be unacceptable. When government tries to tell my child outright what is "good" ...I get more than a little nervous. I get indignant."

"When a so-called parent is guilty of blatant abuse, there is no punishment strong enough, harsh enough, or long enough to undo the damage caused to yet another human being, who will grow with a distorted view of people in general. The odds that this poor child will grow to distort any offspring they produce is so overwhelming, that no punishment is too much for an adult who has perpetrated this atrocity onto another generation. There is no excuse. Not even abuse. One makes personal decisions as an adult, and as an adult, you KNOW that what happened as a child was wrong, by your own recollections of the denial and subterfuge involved in hiding what was done to you."

"Since every individual is accountable ultimately to the self, the formulation of that self demands the utmost care and attention."- Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse:Dune

I end this article with probably the most profound quotes I've ever read, concerning the raising of children, that I've ever found. It says exactly what most good parents feel, even if they've never considered it directly or tried to put it into words. But as GOOD parents, this is our mantra, our goal, and our ultimate achievement. No government dictate can ever come close to that. No legislation can instill that into our hearts..or our children's hearts.No other person nor entitiy can take the achievement away from us as PARENTS, when we know that we've done our jobs well and with honor. We do not need a government dictate, mandate, nor legislate to tell us why, how, or when to do our job. I resent the fact that some people believe that we do. Maybe it's because they've lost THEIR way, as parents. Maybe they've forgotten it is a PRIVILEGE, HONOR, and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY that we take on, when we decide to have a child; that we will raise them to be good, honorable, responsible people, capable of carrying on that privilage to anther generation of Americans. I am deeply offended that anyone wants to remove even a tiny bit of that from me. I feel so sad for those who would accept or want the government to take even a little of that pleasure away from them. They know not what they do.

Marcia J. LaVine

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dogs, Big Dogs

I caught a bit of the Westminster Dog Show this evening.
I want a big dog. Well, a pony that looks and acts like a dog, really.
I've gotten it into my head to get a really REALLY big dog: I want a Mastiff.
I'm not a large person, really.. quite average, at 5'5", medium build. I want a dog that rivals my own weight. I want a goofy, floppy footed, bulky, dog.
I don't understand those who like the little, ankle biting yappy little bitches that fit in a purse. Why have a dog at all? Why not a cat, a ferret, or even a rat, gerbil, or guinea pig if you want a small animal?
I find you learn a lot about people by the animals they have, or don't.
I don't really know what it says about me that I have 2 cats, 2 snakes, a bearded dragon, and want more of all three types of animals, plus one really really big dog. I'd have dozens of animals, if I had the time, patience, and space, though.
I've never been a dog person, and have only had one of my own in my whole life. She was late middle aged when I got her, and we got along famously. She was my kind of people. Simone was a rough coated Collie- a Lassie. She hated little dogs, too. She'd lay on my feet, let me brush her, and hide in the bathtub when it thundered. She was quite cat-like, really... probably why we got along so well. I'd have a dozen dogs, too, if they were all like Simone. She died of old age a couple years ago, while in the care of my ex and two girls. I still miss her.
Okay.. that's my puff piece for the month!
I'll find something more interesting, less introspective, and downright ornery to write about later. I'm too tired tonight.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I was yet again dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and completely taken by surprise this evening when going to buy cigarettes from the local tobacco shop.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened, but when it does, I am still just stunned, every single time.
We had to scrounge all of our change in order to scrape up enough for one carton between us, as things are beyond tight right now, since I haven't gotten my short term disability nor my tax return, and my roomie doesn't get her VA disability until the first of the month. My being off of work for the past 5 weeks has hurt us more than we had anticipated, especially when additional expenses came up that we did not forsee early in the month.
I counted out $33 in quarters, dimes and nickles and trotted off to the tobacco shop, hoping the proprietor would accept that much in change. He has always been very charming, friendly, and genuinely NICE, so I pretty much figured he would take it. He most certainly did, as well as taking my word at the amount in the bag- I didn't have to stand there for ten minutes counting it out for him.
He then asked how I was doing, and I told him "Broke", and then told him I was going to try to borrow some money from my son so we could buy some groceries. He knew the reasons why already, since I had told him about having had surgery the last time I was at the shop. He then said "Let me loan you $20" and pulled a bill from the till. "I just have to write my name in back, to account for it. I know you're good for it."
I wanted to cry right then and there.
I don't know much about him, except that he just turned 30, lived in Jerusalem before coming here, has a wife and two young daughters, and he liked holding my ball python when I brought it in upon his request. Evidently, all he had ever done before was kill snakes, since the ones he was familiar with were all venomous, and he wanted to see what holding a constrictor was like.
I tell you what, though...I know enough about him now, to be certain that I am privileged to know him at all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Power of Words

I was recently lambasted for the use of a certain word(s) used to denegrate people of particular ethinc backgrounds.
I refuse to be deterred, since I did nothing wrong.
We as a nation have been browbeaten, blackmailed, and lied to long enough when it comes to the utilizaton of vocabulary. Certain groups will have us believe that even the mere mention of a word is grounds for accusations of racism, bigotry, and hate.
Anyone can use any word or words they want -within context- without offense.
Even though offense is defined by the offended, and distinctly difficult to defend ones self against, when it comes to vocabulary within a defined context, those who choose to take offense have no ground to stand on.
For instance, it is nearly impossible to discuss constiutional law, if the word "whereas" is not allowed within that conversation. Read any text on the subject; the word is used nearly every other sentence! Few quotes, few arguments, few counters can be conducted on the subject without the use of the term- and very very few.
In a television show called "Cold Case", they had two episodes concerning racism. In both episodes, they used the word "Critter", first spraypainted on a wall and then on a car, as a replacement for the term "nigger". How can you expect to even begin to have a discussion of racism if you cannot even expose the terms used to offend? How can you defend yourself against it, or even know what it is when you see it, if it is never discussed? Kids are gonna be so confused!
Soon there will be a whole generation who don't even know that the use of that term is considered to be racist, since they hear it on a regular basis from some people, and it is fully accepted; yet no one else is allowed to use that word. The first time a single digit aged white child use that term, they will be reprimanded. They will ask why, and you had better have a damned good answer for them when it happens. Just saying that some people don't like the word won't cut it with the next generation of 12 year olds when half their friends use it, and the other half can't. And telling them that only black people can say it with impunity and whites can't will only DIVIDE the races even more. So much for equal rights, eh? Kids see it for what it is.
The fact that I am being implicitly prohibited from the use of any word at all absloutely infuriates me. You have no idea how angry I am about it. I love words. All words. Any words. No one has any right to restrict mine or prohibit mine, as long as I am within the constitutional amendment of free speech. And last time I checked, there were no specific words outlawed by my country, my constitution, nor my concience.
You can disagree, argue, and tell me to shut up all you want. But you CANNOT prohibit me. You can't even accurately accuse me of racism or bigotry in this case, or any for that matter, since I will not use any words in a manner describing such behavior.
What is considered to be racist vocabulary now will only continue to be considered racist vocabulary for as long as the divisions are kept. I do not divide. I utilize vocabulary based on intelligent discourse. A word is just a word, until meaning and intent are placed upon it. If you can't see the difference between people such as myself and real bigotry, I pity you- and dismiss you summarily and without recourse.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another birthday

Tomorrow, I turn 43. Most women my age cringe at the thought of another year passing by. Not me. I relish the thought!
Age brings a freedom, understanding, and depth to one's existance that younger people just haven't any idea of.

At 3, I was surprisingly intelligent, and remember a great deal of that year. I remember my birthday party that year. My little brother was born, and I was mad about it. He was born the day they went to the moon, and my mom had woken me up very early to watch it, then went to the hospital later. I loved classical music, especially the 1812 Overture- I called it "Guns and Bells".

At 13, I was not the typical teenager. I spent most of my time with my nose in a book or with pen in hand, not out with friends, causing my parents angst. That would come later, but not at that time. I was a 'model child', good at school, showing much promise for a bright future. I didn't have any idea of reality outside the walls of my own little world, and didn't give it much thought.

When I was 23, I was a working mother of two very young children, with no time to actually enjoy anything of my own, beyond my family. Granted, I loved every minute of that, as well. My children have grown to be fantastic adults, and I'm very proud of my part in that. It was the most important job I have or ever will have in my lifetime. It deserved the attention I had given it, and I wouldn't go back and change any of it. Yet, I was identified as only Mother and Wife. Not Marcia. Keeping food on the table and raising kids was my reality then.

At 33, the kids were a bit older, but I had had two more in the intervening years, so still had my primary identity as Mother and Wife. I had at least learned how to balance a bit better; I was not working by then, so had a little more time to indulge in my own interests such as reading and a bit of writing. I was able to keep up a little more with what was going on in "the world", beyond my own community. Then the health problems hit. That took up the better part of that decade, and my world fell apart not long after.

So, that brings me to tomorrow- 43.
I have successfully raised 2 adult children, and now have 2 teens who also are showing great promise to become successful adults. That job isn't done yet, but it takes up much less of my time than changing diapers and dealing with daycare ever did. I've been able to rebuild my own world after the devastation of divorce, physical disability, and homelessness. Score another big one for me- that would have taken down a lesser woman. I'm finally at the point in my life where I can freely pursue what I want to do, not what is expected, required, or demanded of me based on societal norms, family obligation, or anyone else's expectations.
Life is GOOD! There is still so much to do, I hardly know where to start. Writing? Absolutely. I'm working on multiple projects between job, home and boyfriend. I've discovered volunteer work in joining the Elks. I'm taking better care of myself than I ever allowed myself to before, when everyone else had to come first. I look pretty darned good, for any age, let alone my own, and I feel great- most days.
I've been paying a lot more attention to "the world" in general, and most of it either makes me want to laugh, or cry. There isn't much inbetween, these days. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I came to the realization that the vast majority of human beings are dumb as a box of hammers. Knowing this makes things much easier to understand. Right and wrong have almost nothing to do with anything in life, except what we impose on only ourselves. Most people are too wrapped up in deciding that for others, and never even bother to look within.
When I was homeless, I had a ton of time to look within. I created my own rules of behavior, code of ethics, and moral standard for self. I don't know of many who create their own. Most people I know just follow what they have been taught by family, faith, and society. I had discovered in my grief that most of what I was taught just didn't work in the context of my own life. I rearranged priorities, toughened up my own personal standards by a great deal, and chose much higher expectations of myself than anyone ever had. I also made a concious choice to be a happy person. I hadn't realized I was so very unhappy, until I did make that choice. Odd? Probably. But then, I'm not the average ordinary woman. I never have been, regardless of exterior projection of middle American mother and wife. I'm a quiet person by nature, keeping self to self, but I voice my opinions now, without reservation. What was I waiting for? I've accepted my shortcomings, especially my physical limitations, and stopped being angry about it. I am determined to expand my mental capablities, and actually utilizing them for a change in a way that fulfills me.
Freedom? The only freedom we have is within. Understanding? That comes with life experiences- good AND bad. Depth? That comes when you make a choice to listen, learn, to live your life.. and for God's sakes.. LAUGH!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Proportional Response"

I originally posted this comment about an article on AntiStrib. I felt it was worth posting here, as well.

I have been asking myself the question of "proportional response" to this since it (the latest round between Israel and Palestine) began. I don't have the answer, because I'm not Israeli. They are the only ones who have the right to determine "proportional response", since they are the ones targeted in the attacks. The rest of the world, bedamned. The whole point in responding at all SHOULD be disproportional, in the hopes that those who are attacking will be STOPPED, dead in their tracks, so to speak. Raise the stakes so steeply, they fold. Case in point: Dropping the big ones on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were disproportional, yet highly effective in their objective. Which is what we wanted. Was it horrific? Absolutely. That was the point. For the world to expect "proportional response" is rediculous. All that means is a continuation of the conflict. What the goal is, is an END to it. The people of Israel know there is no such thing as innocent bystanders in a time of war. They are all combatants with their very lives at stake, making WINNING their objective. If they die because of who they are and what they stand for, they do so with the fundamental understanding of what is at stake. Ask any of them. This also is applied to the Palestinian people, who are not so very different, being bound by millenia of conflict with the Israelis. Only the Palestinians and Israelis involved will settle this, ultimately. "World View" will prove to be a non-factor in it's resolution, since the "World" is not the mother waching it's future die. The "World" doesn't get a vote.