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Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series
I share this on my site because she is saying what I cannot and it’s something we need to hear. The women to whom Pastor Bonner is speaking need to be reassured they are not alone and are doing nothing wrong by being female. Men who perpetrate such offenses need to be told society is shifting against them. And then there are men like me. I have never assaulted a woman and I try to not initiate physical contact, even handshakes. I love hugs, but my practice is to only respond to a woman’s offer. However, I know there must be shortcomings and I need to be reminded just how delicate a balance this is and continually monitor the appropriateness of my actions and words. So, this is written to us all.
It’s been a while since I’ve written to you, I know. The better part of the year. The last blog I wrote was after that Nazi in Texas physically assaulting me at the airport, whipping my body back and forth like a rag doll until a woman with a baby in her arms tore me from his grasp. It’s always the women. Thank God for us. Thank God for you. You are so valuable.
When I tried to reason with him, trying to keep him away from the Muslim women and children he wanted to harass, he told me that he did not have to listen to me. He told me that women were inferior and I was not worth addressing.
It was not the first time that I was told I was inferior as a woman. Not the first time that I was told I was not worth hearing…
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It’s been a long time coming, but I am now soliciting nominations for a name and character description for my next book, “The Reporter and the Apricot.”
This is my sixth book in the series and each has had at least one character partially – or mostly – created by one of my readers.
If I select your contribution, the reward is having your name included on the acknowledgments page of the book and a personalized and autographed copy of the paperback.
So, here’s what I’m looking for this time.
The character delivers papers for the Odds and Ends, JP’s employer. That means starting the route about midnight and running until 4 or 5 a.m. JP is riding along one night to write a feature story for National Newspaper Week.
Your task is to give me a name and tell me a little about him or her. Your most obvious opportunity is to describe what your character does during the day. A paper route is not usually enough to live on unless one gets by on a remarkably low budget. Most carriers have day jobs or maybe pursue some low-income artistic endeavor or their own businesses.
Send your nomination to me via personal message or email. I will give this at least a week – meaning through Sunday, Oct. 22, at the minimum – and will issue reminders and give a couple of days warning of the final deadline through my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
If you need inspiration, review the previous winning characters: Virgil “Moose” MacDuff in “The Reporter, a Ferret and a Hurricane”; Sandra “Sunny” DelSol in “The Reporter and the Penguin”; Gene Teller in “The Reporter and the Rose”; Matt “Matty” Davis in “The Reporter and the Sloth”; and Kat McFarlen and Lucas Funkhouser in “The Reporter and the Marmot.”
Feel free to share this with your creative friends … if you’re not afraid of the competition.
This is what Donald Trump has done to himself.
My daily email from the New York Times of what’s in the news today included these two consecutive items:
“With Congress failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump is ready to go it alone on health care. He plans to sign an executive order today that would relax rules on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance.
“On Wednesday, the president said it was ‘possible’ the U.S. would drop out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. His administration has pushed for significant changes to the deal, but Mexico and Canada say they’re nonstarters.”
I have not studied anything about Trump’s plan to “relax rules on small businesses,” but on its face it sounds like a not-so-bad idea. At least, it doesn’t sound like something that will cause 30 million people to lose health coverage.
However, my gut, my brain and my heart initially reject the idea, because … well … Trump. All my personal alarms cause me to wonder who will be hurt by this.
Seriously, just about anything he’s pushed for in health care – indeed, in just about any field – would have a negative impact on non-rich, more so on non-male, and particularly on non-white people.
So, I read that paragraph and my first thought is, “I wonder who he’s going to screw with this little executive order?”
You see what I’m saying? He’s done this to himself because of his way of doing and undoing things. The vast majority of Americans automatically assume that if he’s going cowboy on an issue to get what he wants, it’s going to hurt a bunch of people.
It’s wrong to do that, but it’s a perfectly natural defensive position.
Now, carry that thought over to the NAFTA headline.
I am certain, in this instance, the leaders of Mexico and Canada are well-informed on Trump’s “significant changes” and are doubtlessly intimately familiar with NAFTA. But what about more general statements that sometimes emanate from the White House?
When another world leader hears that Trump has called for this or threatened that … does he or she give it a single serious consideration?
Why should she, when even his constituents do not trust what comes out of his mouth or off his fingertips? Above all, we have no trust in his character.
Here’s hoping that good news comes from him more often, but I cannot expect it. And, like I said, he’s done it to himself.
Fifty years ago today – Oct. 2, 1967 – Thurgood Marshall was sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren as the first black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
If you’re not familiar with his amazing story, look it up. For this space, I am marking my recent resurrection of the #RandomQuote among my Facebook and Twitter feeds by gathering several quotes from Justice Marshall. I’m setting up each so anyone can copy and paste a quote as-is, should there be a desire to share.
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“Equal means getting the same thing, at the same time and in the same place.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“Lawlessness is lawlessness. Anarchy is anarchy is anarchy. Neither race nor color nor frustration is an excuse for either lawlessness or anarchy.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“Truth is more than a mental exercise.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“We cannot ignore what we really want to create.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“Each of you, as an individual, must pick your own goals. Listen to others, but do not become a blind follower.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“We deal here with the right of all of our children, whatever their race, to an equal start in life and to an equal opportunity to reach their full potential as citizens.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“To protest against injustice is the foundation of all our American democracy.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
“The process of democracy is one of change. Our laws are not frozen into immutable form, they are constantly in the process of revision in response to the needs of a changing society.” – Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall #RandomQuote
Many of you may have paid little attention to RV model names; I hadn’t before we made one our full-time home. Ours is known as an Eagle, something that seems like a reasonable name.
Some of them, to be honest, don’t make as much sense.
A co-worker of ours, another full-timer, lives in a motor coach called a Hurricane. I mean, how is that a good name for your home?
But it’s not alone. Other RV models are named Cyclone, Vortex, Storm, Firestorm and Thunderbolt. Does any of those sound like a place to bed down every night?
What about Outlaw, Vengeance, Prowler or Ghost? Perhaps you’ll feel safer aboard Bullet, Arrow, Sabre or Slingshot.
Not all names are strange, to be sure. Animals, like our Eagle, are quite popular, ranging from Hummingbird to Kodiak.
Carnivores are well-represented, such as Lynx, Cougar, Puma, Wildcat, Wolf Pack, Grey Wolf and Wolf Pup.
Other majestic animals would include Bighorn, Silverback, Gazelle, Palomino, Thoroughbred, Bronco, Phoenix, White Hawk, Greyhawk and Redhawk.
On a smaller scale, I found Beaver, Koala, Sandpiper, Cardinal, Chinook and Hornet.
Were you aware there are so many different models of RVs?
Another category I called landscape, such as Sierra, Cross Terrain, Hill Country, Chaparral, Big Sky, Big Country, Sunnybrook, Riverstone, Autumn Ridge, North Trail, North Country, Gulf Breeze, Brookside, Mountain View, Mountain Aire, Sunset Creek and Aspen Trail.
A few were simply cute: See Ya, Funfinder and Zinger.
Finally, there are several I just cannot explain.
Trilogy – of what?
Lantern – to show you the way?
Ellipse – you know that’s just a special oval, right?
Cameo – they’re usually oval-shaped, so maybe there is something to that ellipse thing.
Octane – why not just call it Regular-or-Ethyl?
Dune Chaser – seriously, how difficult is it to catch a dune and, when you do, what do you propose to do with it?
Torque – “noun, a twisting force that tends to cause rotation,” just cannot be a desirable quality in an RV.
Rage’n – this is absolutely unsettling.
Hathaway – Jane?
Did the Dallas Cowboys just steer us around the corner of the Great Kneel Debate?
Prior to tonight’s Monday Night Football game in Arizona, there was some speculation about whether any of the Cowboys would cross the wishes of owner Jerry Jones and take a knee during the National Anthem in support of the protest seeking equitable treatment for people of color.
If you missed it, the entire Dallas team – including coaches and the owner – lined up on the field prior to the anthem, linked arms and went to their knees in a show of solidarity. Then, they stood, arms still linked, for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
They were booed and cheered. Social media praised them and accused them of backing down.
It strikes me as possible that their actions might be what we need to move forward on the topic and, more than anything, refocus on the genuine issue.
Colin Kaepernick’s original protest early in the 2016 season was against racial injustice and police brutality, notably the string of unarmed black men and women shot to death by law enforcement officers. He chose to not stand during the National Anthem to draw attention to the problem.
He certainly received a lot of attention, but it was seldom directed at the issues of racial oppression.
No, many decided to recast his protest as being against the American flag or the anthem. They said, for example, he was disrespecting veterans and the military, even though a long line of service members stated they defended free speech and that he should be heard.
But it’s much easier to call someone a traitor than it is to address real problems.
So that’s what has happened and it all came to a head last week when Donald Trump did what he does best and riled up his followers to the cry that football players should be fired for refusing to stand during the anthem, which was presented as disrespecting the flag, the anthem, our country, not as a plea for justice.
This is where I’m hoping the Dallas Cowboys will help our nation turn the corner.
While hearing about the dozens of players this weekend who joined the protest by taking a knee during the anthem, and many more who linked arms, and reading the hatred spewed toward them, I found myself thinking that we had to break this chain.
Maybe, I thought, Kaepernick (who’s currently not on a team) and some other influential players who are part of the protest could announce this week that it’s time to redirect the protest in an effort to finally focus on the message. They could easily cite this past weekend as a rousing success and a definite win over Trump’s hateful rhetoric, claim that it earned them some of the attention they need and … well, I’m not sure what, but they could take another approach, one less likely to stoke a nationalistic uproar.
Could it be that’s what the Cowboys accomplished?
Their collective knee stated that they were united in seeking justice for people of color and fighting the scourge of wrongful police killings.
Their collective stand for the anthem stated that, regardless of our nation’s problems, they think it’s worth working within our framework to find solutions. It pronounced a love of country.
It’s worth the effort to make our country one all of us are proud to call home.
So, can we move past trying to elevate peaceful protest to all-out rebellion? Can we take an honest look at how we treat each other?
Can we turn the corner and move forward?
People-watching is a great pastime, just about anywhere you are. Driving around Mount Rushmore National Memorial like I do all day offers a specific genre that I’ve enjoyed this summer.
My principal job is driving a van to shuttle employees between the concession building and either the dorm or the RV park, both for work and meals. I make more than a dozen trips during my eight-hour shift, most of them almost three miles to-and-from the dorm and some almost seven miles for the RV park.
That’s not far, but the route (which is the only way short of almost an hour) loops us around the parking area, in front of the main gate and by a small turnout where folks can stop briefly and admire the four faces without having to enter the parking garage and pay that fee.
It’s there, at that turnout, where I have my most interesting sightings, brief as they are as I race by at 30-35 mph. That’s where people will pose for a photo with the memorial in the background. For the most part, it’s a simple photo op, but some are more entertaining.
One of the most enjoyable is seeing a person or, more likely, a group of people posing for a photo for a photographer who is obviously not a member of the traveling party. For instance, the photo subjects are an elderly couple dressed in standard tourist garb while the volunteer photographer is a grizzled motorcyclist decked out in leather and bandana.
A standard is one or more kids lined up with bored looks on their faces for the mandatory photo. Another is the arm-stretched selfie and no small number of selfie sticks.
Of course, some of them attempt to get creative.
Just the other day, I saw a boy with both arms curved above his head, clearly positioned to make it look as if he was holding the entire memorial.
The most common in that vein is the person with one finger stuck up in the air and, almost always, a silly grin on his or her face. You can bet those folks are positioned with their fingers strategically placed under George Washington’s nose.
I’ve also seen people park their motorcycles, bicycles and even cars just right so they can get a photo of their wheeled baby with the memorial in the background.
And then there are the props … probably my favorite category.
I’ve seen folks posing with what appeared to be a Flat Stanley or a stuffed animal.
Or an animal.
There was a guy early one morning that I saw at least three times while I was coming and going. He put a lot of effort into getting just the right photo with a baby goat, which was wearing a blue bicycle helmet and some sort of a blue garment I just cannot describe.
But my favorite was neither person nor pet but vegetable.
Early this season, there was work going on at the concession that forced me out of my usual parking place, so I walked back and forth to the public parking lot. This particular time, however, I only had 10 or 15 minutes between runs, so I drove down past the memorial to the profile view.
This small parking lot offers a closeup look at the right side of Washington, but you cannot see the others. It’s a neat sight.
There, I sat in my van until time to begin the next run. A small SUV parked across the way. The driver hopped out, opened the back hatch and removed what looked like a jar of canned cucumbers. Placing the jar on the roof of the car, he took out a camera and composed the photo of the canned vegetables in the foreground and our first president’s profile in the background.
My thought: “Grandma couldn’t take the trip with us, so we brought her famous pickles.”
Oh, the photo at the top doesn’t quite fit the topic here, but I couldn’t very well take photos of people taking photos while I’m driving. Last week, however, I was at the memorial while off-duty and walked around a bit. I was sitting on the Grand View Terrace when I spotted a woman with a white rabbit on a leash. That still doesn’t rank with the pickles, in my book, but it’s a special sighting.
“It’s not a question of if but when.”
Over the years, Leah and I have lived in four different towns on or near the Texas coast. In each, we dealt with some degree of a hurricane or tropical storm, though it was never “the big one” everyone talked about with the above line of coastal wisdom.
“It’s not a question of ‘if’ the town is ever hit by a major hurricane; it’s a question of ‘when’ it will happen.”
Headlining the Hurricane Harvey stories of the past 24 hours have been Port Aransas, where we lived 2000-2005, and Rockport, where we lived 1984-1986.
Both were hit hard. The damage was enough that information has been slow to come out. Emergency services are dealing with a string of emergencies.
A friend of a friend who apparently rode out the storm in Port Aransas posted a bunch of photos taken around the town. Scrolling through them, I recognized many places, some of which seemed quite damaged, and found myself grieving for the people who love these charming little towns.
You see, most of them understood that one day it would happen, but all of us are happy to assume it won’t be today or this year.
And then it is.
The people who are the roots of these communities will rise above the rubble. While many of the fair-weather fans who have gathered over the years predictably slip away, the hardy souls who made these towns amazing in the first place will rebuild.
And they will do so knowing that … possibly … the next major hurricane could come in 2018 or 2019.
Because … still …
It’s not a question of if but when.
I’m not really much into product endorsement, though doing so is important and helpful (but many of us, including myself, just don’t take the time), though there is this little phone app I’ve discovered that has been so interesting I decided to share.
It is called “Planes Live” (as in “live, up-to-the-moment look at plane traffic,” not, “The plane lives, it’s alive!”).
You probably know about tracking a specific flight to figure out when Aunt Maude will arrive at the airport.
Planes Live, however, also allows you to look at a map showing aircraft in flight and, when you select one, it gives information such as type of plane, its tail number, who owns it, and it’s trip origin and destination. For example, flying over us just now is a Boeing 737-700, belonging to Alaska Airlines, number N461AS, en route from Philadelphia to Seattle on flight AS17.
Click for more information and I learn it left PHL at 5:29 p.m., 29 minutes behind schedule, and is scheduled to arrive in SEA at 7:39 p.m. It is cruising at 36,000 feet at 459 mph. It also gives heading and position, among other information.
Why do I need to know that? I don’t; it’s just fun.
The real pleasure is, for example, when we’re sitting outside and see contrails high overhead. I click on the app, zoom in on our area and find the plane and its information.
The other day, I did that and saw on the radar another flight on a similar bearing (I should have checked to see the difference in altitude), looked up for a couple of seconds and there it appeared.
I have the free version of Planes Live, so I have to click off advertising fairly often, but all this information comes with it.
There are probably other similar apps out there. If you know of one, please share.
I’ve been playing a game with my Facebook friends for almost a week now, waiting for the day one of them figured out what I was doing.
Saturday evening, I posted this without comment:
A well I bless my soul
What’s wrong with me?
I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree
My friends say I’m actin’ wild as a bug
I’m in love
I’m all shook up.
Of course, they are the opening lines to Elvis Presley’s hit song “All Shook Up.”
Now, it’s not uncommon for me to simply post odd things, sometimes to generate discussion and sometimes for some simple joy found in the post.
Sunday afternoon, I posted a few lines from “Burning Love.” Early Monday morning, my post was from Elvis’ best-selling song (according to officialcharts.com), “It’s Now or Never.”
This was about the point that some folks were taking note something was going on. Some contributed lines from other artists and songs, named the song I quoted, added more lines from the song, etc. Following were “Jailhouse Rock,” “Return to Sender,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “The Wonder of You” and “Suspicious Minds.”
Responding to “Suspicious Minds” Wednesday, one friend quipped, “What’s with all the song lyrics? You having lady probs?”
My first acknowledgement I was up to something was, “There’s a rhyme and a reason and someone will figure it out within the next few days.”
That set folks to working on it.
Thursday morning, I posted from “Good Luck Charm”:
Come on and be my little good luck charm
Uh-huh huh, you sweet delight
I want a good luck charm
a-hanging on my arm
To have, (to have), to hold, (to hold) tonight.
Shortly after that, in a comment on the previous song, came this from David Trigg, a fellow I’ve not seen since junior high.
“Anniversary of death of Elvis” was all he wrote.
Next Wednesday, Aug. 16, will be the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. I know that without looking it up because it came at a special time in our lives.
Leah and I married at sunrise on Aug. 15, 1977. We were on our honeymoon when news tore across the country of the death of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll at the age of 42.
Few entertainers are the type of people whose deaths are remembered for decades. Elvis is one of those.
Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead’s another town
That I’ll go walking thru
With the rain in my shoes,
Searchin’ for you
In the cold Kentucky rain,
In the cold Kentucky rain.
— “Kentucky Rain”
Apparently, if you believe some of the outstanding people with whom I work, I’ve been somewhat snarky all day.
Fair enough. It was my Friday and maybe I was a bit, shall we say, feisty.
I then came home and found a Trump tweetstorm and decided I would play along. Because this is my page and I can print what I want, here’s a rundown of me having a little fun with 45a, commenting on each of his 13 tweets (so far) today.
TRUMP: The failing @nytimes, which has made every wrong prediction about me including my big election win (apologized), is totally inept!
ME: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Listen, with your level of ineptitude, you really should be better at recognizing it.
TRUMP: The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling). Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio…….
ME: Rallies? This is a whole country, you know. Sorry (not sorry), but that rapidly shrinking support is real. Bottom line, you’re a loser.
TRUMP: …and West Virginia. The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs…..
ME: Again … stock market and jobs are still Obama’s. Border, military are smokescreens. As for Russian collusion … we’ll see. Yes, we will see.
TRUMP: … Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation & so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change!
ME: Still crowing that GOP stole nomination from Obama and you eked your pick through the GOP-controlled Senate? Yeah, you’re awesome.
ME, BONUS COMMENT: Close, eh? You might hope to have neighboring prison cells, but I doubt any of them will want to be on the same block with you.
TRUMP: Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!
ME: I know, you keep saying it and the Trumpers will believe it, but it’s still not the truth and the MSM are still 100x as honest as you.
TRUMP: Working hard from New Jersey while White House goes through long planned renovation. Going to New York next week for more meetings.
ME: Hey, I don’t mind you taking vacations (though not with us supporting your businesses), but why invent another reason to lie to us?
TRUMP: Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!
ME: Yeah, Blumenthal, take it from an authentic con artist. (PS – We’ll just wait for the investigation to finish.)
TRUMP: Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and….
ME: And you really think that makes it OK for you to make a deal with Russia to hack our elections and give you the presidency?
TRUMP: …conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?
ME: Thanks for that image. I can’t wait to see you cry.
TRUMP: On #PurpleHeartDay💜I thank all the brave men and women who have sacrificed in battle for this GREAT NATION! #USA
ME: Particularly those who served in your stead in Vietnam so you could protect your feet for future golf games.
TRUMP: The Fake News Media will not talk about the importance of the United Nations Security Council’s 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on N. Korea!
ME: Oh, the American Free Press did report it. Perhaps you missed it while whining that China wouldn’t do the job for you.
TRUMP: How much longer will the failing nytimes, with its big losses and massive unfunded liability (and non-existent sources), remain in business?
ME: Probably for centuries, but definitely long enough to see you kicked out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
TRUMP: I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there
ME: You still haven’t figured out the last thing you need to do is attempt to call out someone for lying. Psst, folks call you Liar in Chief.
Surely, with investigations mounting, with the Trump administration repeatedly going further off plumb, with the GOP increasingly alienating even its own … surely, the end times of this little experiment are approaching.
For the sake of the point I wish to make here, let us presume that to be true. Not that it really matters, but perhaps it will be easier to accept what I’m here to insist we need to do.
First, this is addressed to those who oppose the Trump presidency. That would include a broad range of people – far more than just Democrats or progressives – so I’m lumping us all under the term of the Resistance. Not novel, by any means, but it seems most accurate.
Warning: If you do not consider yourself among the Resistance, particularly if you remain in the midst of the dwindling number of Trump supporters, please read no further.
I will not be responsible for raising your blood pressure, especially since you and your leaders are so keen on pricing medical care out of your reach. Naturally, since I am not giving you permission to read further, neither will I allow comments making a weak attempt to defend President 45a* and the fact you wasted a vote on him.
What I want us to do is keep the message loud and clear but focused on facts.
Most notably, I hope we can eliminate the name-calling that is not representative of how we wish to see relationships carried out. All of us need to start working together to patch up the damage being done.
Do not challenge the intelligence of Trump supporters, for example. That puts them into a defensive mode and will make it take even longer for them to see their mistakes and/or how they were duped.
This does not mean that we back away from the facts that their health-care attempts were cruel or that most of their policies would achieve nothing but further enriching the upper-upper-crust billionaires. We must convey that message … but with compassion and support for personal growth and reform.
Certainly, we must do away with hateful comments that do not reflect on policy. An example is referring to Trump’s orange complexion. Or his hair. And definitely not his weight. Talk instead about his lack of a game plan. By the same token, quit calling Jeff Sessions an elf. What good is that when you can point out his racist background?
(As I was writing this, I came across the graphic on the right that talked about the use of creativity in a resistance movement. I’ve got to admit, the piece by The Anti-Trump makes a good case. But, as I mentioned in the opening, we will need to tone things down a bit once Trump’s term falls apart.)
A pillar in the Resistance is guaranteeing religious freedom for all religions and for those who desire to follow none.
However, because the radical right has warped its version of Christianity into an oppressive movement, many in the Resistance have become anti-Christian. That’s no better than what the right has done. Many progressives are Christian and they deserve the same protections as atheists, Muslims and others.
I could continue pounding out more examples, but you’re smart people. You get it. Be strong but be compassionate.
As much as possible.
* Oh, good, you followed the asterisk from “President 45a” … do you like that? What does it mean to you? The idea struck me while typing. I’ve seen a reference to Trump as 45* (similar to the movie “61*” and the suggestion that Roger Maris’s home run record would carry an asterisk because it was set in 162 games while Babe Ruth’s 60 homers were hit in a 154-game season). “Still,” some may say, “Trump will forever be our 45th president, even if he resigns after only six months.” Ah, but I’m hoping for more. I’m envisioning a storyline where his term is expunged and his replacement is known as 45. It’s a dream, for sure, but what if investigators prove Trump was in cahoots with Russia and that they did manage to throw the election? Surely, then, the entire election must be thrown out. Along with Trump and Pence, all his appointments should be summarily ousted. What happens next? The easiest thing would be to run down the order of succession, but in the above scenario it’s certainly believable that Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch would also be caught up in the investigation and the entire Cabinet would be emptied because they were Trump appointees. Get it? So, the fairest thing would be for the Electoral College to reconvene and elect Hillary Clinton as president since, after all, the election was stolen from her. She could have the Oval Office up and running in short order. Another possibility would be to hold another election. Other countries call elections and hold them in a matter of weeks, but first things first.
Anyone who feels the need to drop something in my tip jar, maybe buy my next stout, may do so at paypal.me/SteveMartaindale but only after accepting my gratitude.
Time for a little fun.
I came across a trending item on Twitter this weekend. I believe it was the product of a radio station promotion, but it’s moved beyond that now.
They called it “more realistic state mottos,” used the hashtag #MoreRealisticStateMottos and asked for input.
I read through all I could find and came up with one for each state … plus a couple of bonuses. Without further ado:
Alabama: Home of Jeff Sessions. You’re welcome.
Alaska: We’re Russia when ya not looking!
Arizona: No black people holidays to worry about here, buddy.
Arkansas: Our citizens like to be referred to as People of Walmart.
California: Did you feel that?
Colorado: Come for the pot, stay for the … well … I can’t remember for what, but stay.
Connecticut: Like NYC but without the buildings, opportunities, or things to do.
Delaware: So close to where you’d rather be.
Florida: Where people go to die.
Georgia: We have more Waffle Houses than high school graduates.
Hawaii: You couldn’t afford us.
Idaho: No, really, I am the ho.
Illinois: Our governors will make your license plates.
Indiana: We’d flood more often if it weren’t for all the damn potholes.
Iowa: Smarter than we vote.
Kansas: Dorothy dreamed about leaving for a reason.
Kentucky: Well, at least our basketball team isn’t in the bottom 5%!
Louisiana: We still have a Jim Crow law on the books we use to keep our prisons full.
Maine: We can’t understand what we’re saying either.
Maryland: Hiding our racist southern roots since 1900.
Massachusetts: Counting the days to leaving.
Michigan: Sorry about Betsy DeVos, Ted Nugent & Kid Rock.
Minnesota: To protect and serve the police departments.
Mississippi: Because Alabama is too bougie.
Missouri: Live in a state with the worst stereotypes of southern history and culture with a Midwestern feel.
Montana: We leave our guns at the bar door.
Nebraska: Of course you haven’t been here.
Nevada: OK, just call us Las Vegas.
New Hampshire: We’re going to build the wall and make Massachusetts pay for it.
New Jersey: Final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa … somewhere …
New Mexico: Arizona with an art degree.
New York: Yes, it’s also a state.
North Carolina: Racism, transphobia, death by cop. Who could ask for anything more?
North Dakota: You got lost looking for Canada, right?
Ohio: Call us if you need a sports team to choke at the worst possible time.
Oklahoma: This state got a whole entire musical?
Oregon: Can someone please tell 45 we are more reachable from North Korea than he is?
Pennsylvania: Mississippi with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on the ends.
Rhode Island: Don’t forget that we are a state.
South Carolina: Among the top two Carolinas in the country.
South Dakota: Please don’t feed the natives.
Tennessee: We’re always volunteering to move to a different state.
Texas: Way too concerned about Cali.
Utah: We caught Bundy and Gary Gilmore.
Vermont: Where people move based on unrealistic expectations of serenity, spend the first winter, then leave.
Virginia: There is no Santa Claus.
Washington: Just left of Idaho (but who isn’t?).
West Virginia: We won’t actually rape you for whitewater rafting.
Wisconsin: Just keeping Canada out of Chicago.
Wyoming: As cold as Canada but without all the healthcare.
And the bonuses? Two would-be states.
Washington, D.C: You know we’re just a neighborhood in Maryland, right?
Puerto Rico: “Hey, mang, we tried!”
We’ve talked previously about how everything since last November has been an emotional abyss for me, as it has many of you.
I’ve had as little success maintaining a writing schedule as Donald Trump has had finding people to fill the hundreds of vacancies he’s yet to address.
Here I am, yet again, promising to get a better focus on making my fingers dance, both on this blog and on my next book.
But first …
While checking out a tweak on my web page, I stumbled across a post that so wonderfully addresses how I’ve felt the past few months. In a funny way. Kind of.
Dina Honour made her point in the form of a multiple-choice form letter to share with friends to explain why she’s not been keeping in touch. Check it out.
Tune in tomorrow and make sure I’m still at it.
As I aged, the glory of war that is impressed on the young gave way to the awareness that most war is fought for ugly reasons and that millions die directly from warfare and indirectly from the wasteful use of resources.
However, such evil does not detract by one iota from the honor due men and women who have fought – willingly or not – and died in service to their countries.
Even when some leader blundered, they rode still “Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of hell,” as Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote in “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
Today, I honor those heroes while also beseeching current and future politicians to pause more deliberately before they, “Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Because there are grave consequences.
In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col. John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
For the first time since Donald Trump’s plan fell apart Nov. 8, things are beginning to look up for the man shocked to find being president more difficult than being a billionaire.
When, somehow, he managed to win the presidency despite being outvoted by almost 3 million, he was forced to abandon his strategy to ride his defeat to a fun-filled pastime of addressing raucous and adoring fans, writing outrageous books (or, rather, paying others to write them) and maybe starting his own fake news television network.
If that sounds familiar, I wrote about it a month prior to the election. Like most people – including Trump – I didn’t think there were enough suckers to put him into office. (Of course, I more than once prior to the election expressed my confidence in American voters. I was wrong then, too.)
Warning: Just to be clear, this is all my theory. Unlike those sites where Trump gets his “news,” I do not present this as established fact.
So, Trump stumbled into the Oval Office and immediately found it not to his liking … not the office, the White House or the job. Almost instantly, he began putting into effect his next plan.
And it’s a great plan, many people say the best plan ever.
Trump likes to be first, grandest, biggest. Being president puts one in an exclusive club, but there are 43 others there … kind of crowded.
What if he were impeached while president? Two already sit in that category.
But what if he were impeached and subsequently forced from office? That’s perfect. Not only has it never happened (thanks to Richard Nixon’s resignation), but there’s a decent chance it will never happen again.
Think of it: During the nation’s quincentenary in 2276, school children will be reminded that among the 103 presidents to date, only one has been forcibly removed from office, Donald J. Drumpf. (I have no idea how or when that name change comes about.)
On what do I base this supposition? Look around you. What better explains the things he has done.
A few examples might begin with the outrageous claims about crowd size at his inauguration. Seriously, what responsible person does that?
Then there are holding his businesses much too close, placing his family in high positions, pissing off most of our allies, appointing ridiculously unqualified people to top spots, profiting from foreign states, making every public speech about him, making baseless charges of Obama spying on him, playing golf every weekend after ridiculing Obama for playing occasionally, tossing missiles around while threatening war, calling for unconstitutional restraints on the media, firing the top cop who was investigating the White House … and so on. You could even add that it’s upsetting anytime he tells the truth because it throws us all off-stride.
Finally, however, there seems to be promising movement. Things are happening quickly and I believe Trump is pleased with what he sees, though he certainly cannot let that show.
When he’s kicked out of the White House, if he’s not immediately relocated to prison (or maybe even if he is), he can return to his original plan of making a career out of being the abused, rabble-rousing outsider.
Then he will be happy again.
But he won’t act like it.
Of course, maybe he’ll lose interest before then.
Tony Schwartz, co-author of “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” told CNN the president cannot stand the idea of losing and will find a way to resign and proclaim it a victory.
Don’t you love names of racehorses? It’s an art.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not above placing an occasional wager simply because of the horse’s name.
I have a little secret to tell you about Mount Rushmore and it has nothing to do with Nick Cage.
Remember “Ventura Highway,” the song by America? It begins:
Chewing on a piece of grass
Walking down the road
Tell me, how long you gonna stay here Joe?
Some people say this town don’t look
Good in snow
You don’t care, I know.
I thought of that song when I snapped the above photo of the memorial this morning following an overnight snow.
Nope, the boys don’t look good in snow. Or rain, for that matter. (PS, “the boys” is an affectionate term used by some here to refer to the four presidents carved from the mountain beginning 90 years ago.)
When you see them after snow or rain forms dark streaks down the carving, it makes sense. But one doesn’t think of that when making a long-planned, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime visit to the memorial.
But then …
It could be worse, however.
While the elevation isn’t particularly high – 6,025 feet at the top of the faces – the Black Hills can influence the weather and one way is covering the hilltops in low-lying clouds.
Yep, you got it.
It’s not at all uncommon for clouds to cover the faces for hours and hours. Sometimes, one can see through the vapor and make out the images. Other times, it’s just a cloud.
Here are a couple of other photos I grabbed with my phone today.
Note about the Rocky Mountain goats. I was sitting in a vehicle in a parking spot. I say this because it seems most people get their Rushmore wildlife photos by stopping their vehicles in the middle of the road.
The photo of the cliff doesn’t do it justice. Trust me, it’s more awesome than it looks here.
I have finally posted the articles and photos from our trip to Thailand. Yes, I intended to have it finished six weeks ago, but …
In my defense, it was much more time-consuming than I anticipated. With a little luck, you’ll find it worth the wait.
I learned from our Erie Canal walk that it’s not good to post everything on one page, so here is what you will find. Clicking this link will take you to the index page. It has a brief tease and a link to each of the 18 topical pages or sections. At the end of each section is a link to the next. Simple enough?
A couple of the sections are kind of long, a couple are mostly photos and most of them fall in the middle. In all, there are 116 unique photos and a whole bunch of words.
We’ve always enjoyed sharing our travels with our friends and put extra effort into this special trip. We hope you’ll enjoy it.
This is a public service message for anyone age 62 or older … or such a person’s friend or loved one.
Get your National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass!
This may not be news to anyone else, but I was surprised to learn what a great deal it is. Maybe I was also shocked because I didn’t think of myself as being old enough.
Here’s the deal.
If you are 62 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can get a lifetime pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites for a cost of $10.
“Welcome to Big Bend National Park,” said the ranger at the north gate.
“Thanks. We’ve been 40 years getting here,” I replied, not having had any intention of going there.
“You sure do drive slow,” he said.
We’re mere hours away from the 2017 Oscars and you know what that means.
Yep, prepare to listen to a bunch of overpaid court jesters take turns telling a global audience what’s wrong with the entertainment industry, society, politics and the world in general.
Does that concern you? Are you among the crowd wishing entertainers would leave their politics at home?
Here’s a suggestion. You might want to steer clear of the 89th Academy Awards Sunday night.
“When the album that is life finally reaches the end, wouldn’t it be nice to keep that record spinning for eternity?”
No, that’s not my question. It’s the lead sentence on the Website of the UK-based company And Vinyly. And, once you get past the heavy imagery, you find it means exactly what it says.
Succinctly, have your ashes shipped to these folks and they will press them into a vinyl record.
“You lost. Time to move on with your life.”
This advice was left by a person who follows my Facebook account. (You can, too, and I bet you can leave much more perceptive views.) His deeply insightful comment was to a link I shared to a New York Times article headlined “Our Articles on the Attacks Trump Says the Media Didn’t Cover.”
Perhaps the “you lost” part of his comment was because the usual set of trolls had already lined up. You know, those who bring up arguments as germane as, “This is crazy liberal dreaming because today is a day that ends in the letter Y.”
In his world, the fact that more people attacked it than supported it meant they won. Ah, if only right and wrong could be determined by a show of hands.
Then again, maybe he was saying I lost the election and should move on, as if that’s an original thought. We’ve already had that discussion.
But it’s the “time to move on with your life” portion of his input that really caught my eye.
He just doesn’t get it.
This is me moving on with my life.
It’s not something that has come easily. I have sweated it out – with no small amount of prayer and counseling – and wavered between whether I should resist what appears to be a forthcoming assault on all that is dear to me or withdraw into a dark space and spin my own stories of fiction.
It’s tempting to choose the latter. It would be easy to ignore the news online and on TV, to delete my news apps, to quit following the AP, CNN, Al Jazeera and others, and just let the country take care of itself. I could get up in the morning, re-enter the make-believe world of my books and write away.
But my heart and soul will not allow that.
Not while I see our nation taking the textbook steps into fascism.
I have resisted until this very moment making a public comparison of our situation to the early days of Adolph Hitler’s ascent to power and all the ravages related to it.
Why? Because I kept wanting to believe such was an overreach. Surely, I thought, we will not allow such things to happen in this country. Hitler’s rise was documented well enough that we should recognize it if something similar begins occurring, right?
We can trust that someone will speak up and alert us … right?
But you know what convinced me that I must speak up?
My Facebook friends.
Not those who believe like me, not those who “like” and support my comments, not those who themselves post in support of human rights and equality and protecting the environment.
No, it’s those who are dear to me who have called me names, who have blindly (I believe) fallen in line behind the march to an oppressive government, and who triumphantly trumpet their support for the current administration by repeating its lies and underscoring hatred.
Those saying things such as, “You lost. Time to move on with your life.”
I must soften Bertrand Russell’s assertion here just a bit. I do not believe only fools fall for a false, “energetic leader.”
Many have simply been fooled, deceived. They have locked onto an image of a country that they feel he has promised to deliver. With that image clouding their perception, they tend to overlook things, to forgive some of the things they do see. They fall victim to lies.
I do not believe my friends who disagree with me are fools. We just disagree.
However, if my fears of a rising despot prove to have any validity at all, I am honor bound to voice my concerns.
Since the election, I have visited a few times with a minister friend who, like me, is deeply troubled with the direction we’re headed. (By the way, at least three minister friends fit this description. They are also anxious to show that the Christian church is not entirely made up of what is being portrayed by the radical right.)
This minister is obviously better informed than I and considers events and implications at a deeper level, quoting the likes of theologians Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the latter of whom was executed by the Nazis for his resistance to Hitler.
Even so, my friend is also struggling with what we can do besides contact representatives who have shown a deaf ear and the growing option of peaceful protest.
“And protest is OK,” I was told. “Our church was born out of protest. That’s why we’re called Protestants.”
I have another choice.
I write. It’s what I do. If indeed I have been called by God to speak my heart (Wouldn’t it be nice if He just sent an e-mail notification instead of us working to discern His wishes?), then I must write about it.
There you have it. I’m “moving on” with my life.
Finally, humility and common sense dictate I must consider the possibility I’ll be proven wrong. Of course, that’s probably part of what causes my hesitation, though certainly not as much as the unpleasant treatment I get from friends.
But should I be wrong, then hallelujah. I will gladly admit it and the lessons learned will better inform my future decisions and analyses. Possibly, other resisters and I might feel our campaigns helped steer the course of the current administration, but we’ll all be happy if everything is right in the world.
Along those lines, allow me to recommend an article I came across this morning by Nate Silver. Employing what he called “scenario planning,” he laid out 14 potential versions of how the Trump administration will play out. Certainly, there are more options, but anything else will likely resemble one or two of these, which range from plunging America into outright authoritarianism to making the nation great again.
Reading through them, I find a role in each for some type of resistance, such as my small contributions, whether it be to sound a warning or to influence a new direction.
So, don’t hate me for my part. I would also appreciate it if you don’t call me names, but that might be too difficult for some. Feel free to ignore me, but do hesitate to unfriend me if we’re really friends because I still have a life outside politics and enjoy sharing clever photos and stories.
And if you’re wishing I was doing more, then you need to follow me on Twitter. I share a lot of information there.
After a week of settling back into home, battling jet lag like I’ve never seen before and “organizing,” I am getting started on putting together an Expedition page for our visit in Thailand.
I will arrange this by sections, each looking at one aspect of our experience. With that in mind, I have a question for you.
What would you like to know about our trip?
Either comment here or send me a message by some other means.
Now, back to work.
I may have mentioned the fact our friends and hosts in Thailand are dive instructors. Well, you know what that means.
In the photo above, Leah is making the big step to enter the water.
This is a photo she took while diving.
What? You want more? The full story and more photos are promised when the Expedition posts goes up next month.
This may be my last posting from here. We’re less than 48 hours from starting the long trip home, where I will get to work on the full story.
Here’s one more parting shot. One of several topics I’ll cover is transportation and traffic.
Time – or past time – to catch you folks up with a few more photos.
As you can tell, I’m not writing much about our stay in Thailand. Rest assured, I will put together a full report with more photos and post it in the Expedition section after we get home. Follow this page and you will know when it happens.
Our big outing the past few days was a kayak tour of Ao Thalane Bay on Monday. After paddling for a while, we stopped on a sandbar exposed by the low tide. Around the edges of the bar were hundreds of starfish, as seen in the top photo.
We took a city hike Thursday.
After riding into the central touristy area of Ao Nang with Catherine, Leah and I had breakfast and then slowly walked back to the house, taking many detours and making numerous stops.
Our friends who are hosting us during our visit to Thailand both work at a scuba shop in Ao Nang. This being high season for them, we’ve squeezed in visits between the end their work day and bedtime.
Tuesday, however, brought a bit of a treat.
It’s late Monday afternoon and clouds have rolled in to block out the sun and cool things a bit here on the Krabi coast of Thailand. Temperatures have been around 90 with “feels like” temps reaching even over 100.
We’ve been in Thailand some 40 hours and I’m already behind on posting about our trip, so I’ve decided to try a rapid-fire effort and post short, quick items. It will all come together later on an Expedition page.
The lead photo is a view of the harbor that is less than a mile walk from our friends’ house and it was our first objective on Day 1, Saturday. (Reminder to those in the States, we’re some 12 hours ahead of you. To avoid my confusion, I’ll write from our perspective.)
It’s all been said about the election … right?
I’ve been stewing for two months, depressed to see what our country looks like right now, fearful for friends and strangers who are likely to face challenging times, dreading a clear and present threat to progresses made for people living on the edge.
After hearing so many Trump supporters telling people like me to deal with it, I finally have, as I best know how.
Let me warn you, it’s not my typical, easy-going style. One might call it raw. The situation, I believe, calls for complete honesty, so I’m saying what I think.
It is too long to place here amongst others, so it’s on a dedicated page in the Special Topics section. Click here to read it.
Overnight successes are an anomaly; they hardly ever happen. We know that, but it’s still surprising – and a fun bonus – when you catch a big-name actor in a minor role in an old movie.
With that in mind, I roamed around one of my favorite Websites, Internet Movie Database (imdb.com, and yes, I realize this is two movie articles in a row) digging up some early roles.
I started with one of America’s most iconic actors, John Wayne, who is said to have played leading roles in 142 films, but he had to start somewhere.
Had it not felt like Christmas already, the 20- to 30-mph north winds and temperatures dropping steadily all day Thursday and hovering this morning certainly bring awareness of the Yuletide season.
One thing that dependably underscores the season – regardless whether the weather outside is frightful – is the television lineup of Christmas movies.
Christmas season is in full swing now and that means … Christmas movies!
Tell me what movies make the season for you. Be they religious, funny, heart-warming – or “Die Hard” – please share your list with me. And I would appreciate a quick comment about why you like it.
Warning: What you say just might end up in a blog post very soon. And might I encourage you to think of something that might not be on everyone else’s list?
Either leave a comment to this post or message me through social media.
Thanks and Merry Christmas.
Still thankful this morning following a great couple of days with the family at Disney World and with two more days remaining.
I’m also thankful I’m not caught up in Black Friday traffic (which sounds strange considering the crowds we’re dealing with) and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to join in.
So, from now until the time I crawl out of bed next Thursday, Dec. 1, I’m offering all five of my books on sale. These are paperbacks and each will be inscribed (To So-and-So) and signed by the author, me.
I’m pricing them at $6 each with a shipping charge of $4, regardless how many books you order (to be shipped to the same address, of course).
To simplify: 1 book for $10, 2 books for $16, 3 books for $22, etc.
To order, email me at email@example.com or private message me through social media. We’ll then work out which books made out to whom and how to handle the money.
Like I said, this was spur-of-the-moment.
Oh, and you can review all of the books on this page.
My earliest memories of my father are of a firefighter.
Any lucky young boy can take a lot of pride in his dad, but exceedingly fortunate is the lad whose father is a hero not only to him but to the community as well.
I’m not speaking of any particular act of heroism but the status we assign those who make it their job to protect others. I loved it when he came to my elementary school during Fire Prevention Week.
My dad, Alva Martaindale, had a special role when he first became a firefighter. He was one of only two paid members of the otherwise volunteer department. Except for one day off every other week, he literally spent half of his time at the station, eating half of his meals there and sleeping there half of the nights.
Happy Go the Extra Mile Day!
Yes, yet another “Special Day” designed by some organization to promote some product or idea. However, this is neater than, say, National Sandwich Day, which comes up Thursday.
I’ve been told I should be on Instagram and, finally, I looked into it a few days ago.
I looked deeply into it because I just couldn’t believe you cannot run an Instagram account from a computer. Well, actually, you can do most things … except post photos!
People have been asking what Leah and I have planned next and now, a year in the making, we’re set to travel to Thailand.
In January, we’ll spend 16 days in Ao Nang on the coast of the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand, some 400 miles south of Bangkok and less than 200 miles north of Malaysia.