Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Goodbye and good riddance!

I was going to end this year with a list of the famous people who died this year.  But when I downloaded a list from the NBC News website and tried to format it so I could reproduce it here, it came out to be THREE PAGES long.

So, all I'm going to say to this year, the year that cost us Princess Leia and her mother, that took away Prince and his protege Vanity, that killed 49 people in Orlando, five in Dallas, and a long, long list of others, both famous and not famous:

Goodbye, and good riddance!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Honoring a Gator . . .

I'm a graduate of FSU, so if anyone were to ask me to wear orange and blue in honor of a graduate of the University of Florida, I would have one of two reactions:  either laugh, because that request was obviously a joke, or give them a puzzled/bemused look and then ask, why in the world would you want me to do that?

Except today.

Today, I was asked to wear orange and blue in honor of a Gator, and I would have gladly done so . . . except that I had nothing orange in my wardrobe that was suitable to wear to a funeral.

Last Friday morning, two days before Christmas, radio listeners and/or TV watchers in the metro Atlanta area probably heard reports of gridlock on north I-75 in Cobb County due to a fatal traffic accident.  Gridlock is normal in the Atlanta area, and sadly, "fatal wreck" is all too common.  I heard that traffic report, but I'm afraid I paid more attention to the "gridlock" part than to the "fatality" part.
The next day, I found out that the fatality was a member of our church, Maurio Andrews, 32, father of two young children, Ava and Ian; and wife to Ashley.

I'm embarrassed to say that when I saw a mention of Maurio on someone's Facebook page, I had to ask who it was and if they knew him.  That's when I learned that he was a member of North Atlanta.

This isn't the first time that our congregation has been rocked by the results of a traffic accident.  In 2009, we lost two members, Matthew and Jeannette Prather, when their van's tire blew, causing the van to flip over.  (Ironically, this accident also happened on northbound I-75 in middle Georgia.) Counting Matthew, Jeannette, and now Maurio, we've lost five members of our congregation to traffic accidents since 2009.

Today we held Maurio's funeral.  Because Maurio was a graduate of the University of Florida, the family asked that the people who came wear orange and blue in honor of him.  It was the first time that I would have almost moved heaven and earth to find something orange that I could wear.  I have nothing orange in my wardrobe except for an orange sweatshirt and several orange T-shirts, and none of those would be appropriate for a funeral.

So I ended up wearing a blue plaid dress over a blue shirt.

Today, a sea of orange-and-blue clad mourners said good-bye to a man who was known for his intelligence, his big smile, his love for his God and his family, and his passion for the University of Florida Gators.  They said good-bye to someone who was lost too soon, whom tragedy stole from us in a cruel act of fate just two days before Christmas.  They remembered someone who served, someone who gave, and someone who left behind a legacy of love and passion.

For that reason, I would gladly wear orange and blue to honor a Gator.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Baby Rapp and Bobbie Lee

Between my birthday and Christmas money, I was able to reactivate my subscription. Since then, I've been poking around and clicking on links, trying to create my family tree with new information.  

I just found a death certificate that blew my mind.  

Actually, I found two death certificates that blew my mind.  

The first one, I discovered when I was tracing my husband's line backwards.  While investigating his grandparents' family, I found a death certificate reading simply, "Baby Rapp."  

I had not known, until that moment, that the first child of my husband's grandparents was a stillborn son.  No name except "Baby Rapp."  No record except on a death certificate issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, file number 44012.  Date of death, April 9, 1927; time of death, 9:30 a.m., cause of death "stillborn (at term)".  In other words, Baby Rapp was a full-term boy that was born sleeping.  He was buried two days later.  

My mother-in-law was born the next year, the first of four living children.

The other death certificate rewrote a small portion of my own family history.

You see, I'd been under the impression that my maternal grandparents had had a daughter who was stillborn or died right after birth.  I don't know if my grandmother had told me she'd died at birth or exactly how she'd told me the story, but that was how I remembered it.

This morning, while looking up my grandmother's information, I found a link to a Billie Lee Chitwood's death certificate.  I wondered if that was actually Bobbie Lee Chitwood, because this particular daughter was named for my grandmother's father, Robert Lee Thompson.

So, I clicked on the link and found a death certificate, issued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, File No. 27041, Because of the handwriting on the death certificate, "Bobbie Lee" was probably misread as "Billie Lee" when it was transcribed for the site.

Her date of death was November 13, 1935, around 10:30 p.m.  Cause of death: gastro-enteritis.  Age: Three months, 12 days old.

She didn't die at birth, like I'd always thought.  Instead, she lived with her family from August 1, 1935, until November 13.  And she died of a disease that would probably be easier to treat today but that, in rural Kentucky in 1935, was probably harder to deal with.

My mother was born two years later.  Then, my uncle.  

So now I know that the second child in my grandmother's family was Bobbie Lee, and she died before my mother was even conceived.  And not only did she die, she lived for a little while.  And then, around November 5th, she got sick.  A Dr. Bailey first saw her on November 8th.  Five days later, she was dead.

How do you go on after losing a child?

I now know that my husband's grandparents, and my grandparents, faced that question.  And somehow, they went on.  Because they went on, my mother and my husband's mother were both born.

I find it fascinating how death and life intersect, how just one moment, one decision made, one unforseeable circumstance can change a person's life in ways we can never, ever forsee.

Had Baby Rapp not been born sleeping, his parents probably would not have conceived my mother-in-law.  If Bobbie Lee hadn't died when she did, it's possible that her parents wouldn't have conceived my mother.  It takes one particular egg, one sperm cell, and one particular moment in time to make a child.

So, in reading the account of Baby Rapp and Bobbie Lee, and thinking about when they were born and when they died, I find myself asking the question:  Would my mother and mother-in-law have been born if these two babies had not died?

If they hadn't . . . I probably wouldn't be here writing this.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The ticking bomb . . .

I don't know who first came up with the illustration, but in nearly every account I've read about the First World War, the situation in Europe was described as "countries sitting on a powder keg".

The bullet fired into the body of Archduke Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 lit the match that exploded into WWI.

Lately, it seems that the world is sitting on another powder keg and it's just waiting for the right match to light the fuse.  Yesterday, Russia's ambassador to Turkey was murdered in front of a crowd by a man who shouted, "God is great!  Remember Aleppo!  Remember Syria!"  On the same day, a man drove a truck into a crowded marketplace in Berlin, killing nine people, and current reports now say that authorities aren't sure if they have the right person in custody--meaning that the driver of the truck may still be at large.  And in an incident that hasn't gotten nearly the same amount of coverage as the previous two, three worshippers at a mosque in Zurich, Switzerland were wounded by a gunman who opened fire during prayers.  Swiss police think they have found the body of the gunman.

In our own country, we've had too many shootings and other violent incidents to count in the last several years.  I think the last major one was the stabbing at Ohio State.  And the fact that I have to write "I think" says a lot.

December 14th marked the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.

This summer, two African-Americans were shot by police, and five officers in Dallas were shot.  And I've lost track of the number of people shot by police and the number of police shot.  Only a few days ago, two Americus, Georgia police officers--best friends to each other--were shot and killed responding to a domestic violence call.  Four other officers in the state of Georgia were shot in the same week.

Forty-nine people died this summer in a mass shooting in Orlando.

The hysteria leading up to this year's presidential election was unprecedented, and the hysteria afterwards also unprecedented.  Depending on who you listen to, Donald Trump is either the savior of the United States or the Antichrist--or at least, the False Prophet to the Beast in Revelation 13. Yesterday, this savior/antichrist was officially elected President of the United States.  Here in Georgia, protestors met the 13 electors who went to cast their votes at the state capitol building.  One of the electors has a name similar to that of a friend I attend church with.  She -- my friend -- received four letters begging her to change her vote from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.  And other electors around the country can share similar stories.

Although I refer to "hysteria", people do have legitimate concerns about this coming administration. A friend who received an appointment to the US Diplomatic Corps decided not to accept it because she is very concerned about the possibility of violence towards Americans overseas.  And I can't blame her.  Others worry about the possibility of actions towards Muslims and other minorities. The "alt-right" -- a term I never heard until after this election -- raised its ugly head with its "white supremacy" nonsense, and "fake news" is now a trending topic in mainstream news coverage.

In my Facebook news feed, I see posts condemning Donald Trump, and then, the very next posts praise him.  Never mind that there may be very real concerns about his attitudes/statements towards women and minority groups, at least he's going to fix the economy.  </sarc>

The divide between groups is as deep as I've ever seen it, and I don't think it's ever going to heal.

When the reality show Deadliest Catch began advertising its previous season, it used a song by Aloe Blacc with the following lyrics:

The whole world sitting on a ticking bomb
The whole world sitting on a ticking bomb
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And it's about to explode!

Whoever picked that song may be more prescient than they realized.

I hope they're wrong.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"But was it organic ketchup?"

"But was it organic ketchup?"

That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me as far as diet was concerned.

I'd been visiting an alternative medical clinic, trying to get help for adrenal fatigue.  While I got better for a time, the place ended up loading me up with supplements (I was taking TWENTY-TWO different supplements at one point) and insisting that I eat organic food.  I was told I needed to eat berries for breakfast, and not just any berries--specifically, blueberries and blackberries (strawberries didn't count.)  I needed to eat more protein (not bad advice) and go low-carb--and was also told at one point to go "no-carb", which turned out to be impossible.  The point the doc was trying to make about the organic ketchup was the amount of sugar in the ketchup.

The diet advice was good, as far as it went.  But that was not the first time I'd been told to "go organic".  When I said to the person that I couldn't afford it, I was told, "Well, it's better for you in the long run."  No mention was made of how much it cost.

I'm dealing with a lot of stress right now.  It seems like there is still so much on my plate and I have no idea what I can take off of it:

1. Today I see my TMJ dentist, and I still have a dislocating right jaw.  I can pop it back into place, but it shouldn't be dislocating in the first place.  The appointment will cost $85.  Insurance won't cover it.
2. I am still dealing with the adrenal fatigue, and treatments are expensive and not covered by insurance, for the most part.  Currently, I'm not seeing a doctor for it; I'm trying to rest as much as possible when I get overtired.
3. I use a CPAP for sleep apnea.
4. I am obese.  I need to lose weight.  I've been trying to go swim lately--I had been walking, but it caused pain in my feet.  Swimming is good, but if I push myself too hard, I run the risk of getting overtired, which makes me unable to exercise, which doesn't help my weight . . .
5. My blood sugar does need to be controlled.  See #4.
6. I have back pain.  Friday I go back to the chiropractor--again, which isn't covered by insurance.
7. My mother, who lives in another state, is dealing with her own health issues.
8. I have a child with autism.  We've just filed papers for guardianship.
9. I am dealing with all of my past issues from being part of an unhealthy church.  We also have issues we are dealing with in our present church (not bad issues, just changes we have gone through and other changes that will happen soon, mainly with our small groups.)
10. I also deal with past issues from being bullied.
11. I need to finish my Christmas decorating.  (My husband took stuff UPSTAIRS in order to vacuum the rugs.  Now I have to bring it back DOWNSTAIRS.)
12. I have writing I want to do and it seems like there are so many projects I will never be able to finish:
--Seven books involving four friends and their families
--Four books revolving around the life of a teenage track runner
--Two books loosely based on my dad's life
--One dealing with a teenager in an abusive church
--One dealing with a woman's relationship with her gay neighbors
--One dealing with a possible Muslim takeover of the US.
--One dealing with a French girl who loses family in WWII, moves to Atlanta and gets involved in the civil rights movement.
--A collection of essays about people we don't normally think about when we think of Black History Month.
--A study on I Corinthians 13:4-8 and I John 4:18.
--A collection of blog entries.  I just need to format them and put a cover on them . . . and I am having a horrible time designing a cover!!!
13. I HAVE to earn money to pay back some serious debt we owe from court reporting school, and we also owe credit card debt.  My husband is working as much overtime as he can as well.
14. There are current events that are going to affect us, whether I pay attention to them or not.

This morning I feel tense, pressured, and stressed.  Organic ketchup is the last thing I need to be concerned about!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Air raid, Pearl Harbor - this is no drill."

I have no idea exactly where my parents were or what they were doing on December 7th, 1941, 75 years ago today.

My father was nine years old and living in Harlan County, Kentucky; in the unincorporated area of Rosspoint.  Thirty-seven days earlier,  he'd lost his father when a train hit the car his father was riding in. 

My mother was eleven days short of her fourth birthday. 

My guess is that, around 2:30 or so that Sunday afternoon, after a morning spent at church and after having their tummies filled with Sunday dinner, they were sitting around the house listening to the radio.  Maybe my grandmother or my Granny Mary was cleaning up after Sunday dinner.  It's possible the kids were playing, or maybe fighting with each other.

Whatever they were doing, they were probably several of the millions of Americans who, at 2:30 p.m., heard John Charles Daly report that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese.  (A history of the first radio bulletins can be found here.)

What happened next? 

Probably, my parents and grandparents would have stopped what they were doing, frozen in shock.  Then, they ran to the radio and listened.  They tried to absorb the words, "Japanese," "bombing," "Hawaii," "Pearl Harbor," and that final word, "war." 

There was no such thing as "breaking news" in 1941.  CNN and Fox didn't exist.  (Some people might think, "Thank goodness.")  Rather, information came piecemeal, bit by bit, bulletin by bulletin. 

Some things don't change.  When 9/11 happened, information also trickled in bit by bit.  Rumors flew.  (I remember hearing that a car bomb had been found in front of the State Department.)  What rumors would have flown in the hours and days following Pearl Harbor? 

If my parents and grandparents were like I often am when "breaking news" happens, they were probably glued to the radio, wondering what was going to happen next.  Would the Japanese start bombing Los Angeles next?  Seattle?  San Francisco? 

Four years of war followed, four years of rationing, four years of being told to sacrifice "for the boys", "for the troops".  If you listen to shows such as Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, and Jack Benny, you'll hear exhortations to save your rubber and paper, turn your fat into the butcher, make your cars and other appliances last, because new ones will not be made until after the war. 

Seventy-five years later, what would we Americans do if we were hit in the same way that we were hit in 1941? 

We were hit in a similar way on 9/11; in fact, 9/11 is often referred to as this generation's Pearl Harbor.  Most of us remember exactly where we were when we heard that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. 

We saw an upsurge in patriotism for a time . . . and then, we went back to attacking those in charge, those in power, questioning decisions, and fighting amongst ourselves.

In 1942, Americans sacrificed.  They put up with no new cars, sugar rationing, and saying good-bye to fathers, brothers, and sons. 

In 2016?  I don't know if we'd be willing to make the same sacrifices that Americans were in the 1940's.  Too many years of being exposed to news has left me cynical.  I fear that, if Americans were told that manufacturing plants would be devoted to making war supplies, or that certain foods and other supplies would be rationed, a howl of protest would go up around the country, like spoiled children being denied a favorite toy. 

On the other hand, I could be wrong.  Thousands of Americans sacrifice, year after year, when they give their lives to the United States armed forces and leave their families behind.  Their families sacrifice, learning how to get along without that loved one. 

Forty-five days from now, we'll be inaugurating a new President.  I pray to God that he will not have to hear anything like, "Air raid, Pearl Harbor - this is no drill."

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hey, Siri! . . . uh, never mind . . .

Matthew was asking me just now about the promo music to the Chicago franchise (Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and soon to be Chicago Justice).

I said, it all depended on which Chicago series you were talking about as to whether or not I knew the promo music.

I was sitting right next to my iPad when I said it.

Suddenly, Siri pipes up with:  "Okay, here's the current weather in Chicago!"

Matthew immediately said, "No, no, no, no!" while I was too busy laughing!

Moral:  Either turn off your iPad when you're talking to your son.  Or be careful what you say.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear T . . .

The other night, I dreamt of you.

In my dream, you came to my church, and I was happy to see you.  Then you told me that you were going to marry the woman who played Jan Brady in the Brady Bunch. (I'm sure the Brady Bunch reference came about because Florence Henderson just died.  Now, why you were going to marry the person who played Jan Brady, that's another question . . .)

I congratulated you, because I was happy for you.

And then, to other people, I started wondering aloud, was I not "spiritual" enough to have a boyfriend?

You were the third boy, and the first Christian man, to kiss me.  I was 19, and I think you may have been 20.  We stood at the doorway of the dormitory I lived in at the time, and we were saying good night after a wonderful, romantic date.  I feasted on the memory of that kiss for months.  That summer, I sat in an English literature class about Shakespeare, and I daydreamt about that kiss, about how it felt on my lips.  It was light and sweet, just like a first kiss between two people should be.

And then, that October, after an FSU football game uncharacteristically held on a Thursday, you told me that you weren't sure if I was "the one" and decided to stop taking me out.

I respected that decision.  Because it was more than I got from my high school boyfriend, who broke up with me and never bothered to tell me that the relationship was over.

A year later, you left the church we both attended.  The last time I saw you was in the checkout line of a Publix, where you said hi to me, and I didn't respond.  I think I just smiled.  I've regretted that many, many times.

I know now that a relationship between us may not have worked out.  I wouldn't have been a good girlfriend, nor would I have made a good wife.  I didn't have the maturity to understand that a relationship between a man and a woman required a certain give-and-take, that I was called on to be a partner and a helper, not just a taker.

One other reason that a relationship between us would not have ultimately worked out is because the entire environment we were in was so rigid, unhealthy, and fake.  Dating relationships were forced and stilted in so many cases, with rules and regulations about how long you could talk, how much time you were allowed to spend together, and when you could go out on single dates.  Could we have had a healthy relationship?  A healthy marriage?  A healthy family?  The only honest answer I can give, I don't know.  Knowing who I was at the time, my gut reaction is to say, "No."

I'm married now.  I've been married for 23 years to a wonderful man who's an intellectual, who strives hard to be a good husband and a good father to our son.  Our son is a teenager with autism. My husband has stepped up to the plate and been an involved father with him.  That can't be said about all fathers.

Ironically, I ended up living in the same city you called home, and I attended the same church that you did when you visited home.  I wondered at times if we'd run into each other.  We never did.  I have no idea if you were living there when I did, and I know you did not attend the same church I did.  And in another piece of irony, the man I married attended that same church.  Perhaps you talked to each other and didn't know it.

There are two questions, though, that I've never had answers to:

1.  Did you make the decision to stop dating me on your own, or were you told to stop dating me because I was somehow "not spiritual enough"?
2. What happened that caused you to leave the church?

I've wondered about these two things, because I know that in the church we were part of, things went on behind the scenes that we were never told about but that affected us.  People left, and since we were "encouraged" not to associate with them, and we were often given the "spin" version as to why they left, we probably never had the whole story as to why they left.  The onus was put on the person that left.  We never stopped to think that there might have been a problem with the church, or with the structure that we were part of.  

I've wanted closure on those two questions for a very long time.  But I also ask myself:  Just because I desire closure, does that mean I need it?  Suppose the "closure" I want just leads to more questions than answers?  Or suppose it gives me answers that I wish I did not know?  

You were not the only one who left the church we attended, or who left the group of churches we were part of.  I know of a long list of people who did exactly that.  Some of them went to other churches, and some of them simply left God.  Given my experiences in religion, I'm surprised that I still have any faith left.  I still struggle with many aspects of faith in God and in Christ, I ask myself questions that often have no answers, and I get angry at God during many difficult circumstances.

But as I've been writing this, I've been listening to a series of Christian songs on my Spotify playlist, one of them being Building 429's "Impossible" and another one being "He Reigns" by the Newsboys. I still believe.

I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend to you.  I'm sorry I didn't try to come alongside you when you must have been struggling.  I have prayed for you often in the years since you left church and school.  I hope you have found faith again.  If you're married, I've prayed for you to be faithful to your spouse. If you have children, I've hoped you've been a good father to them.  If for some reason you're divorced, I hope you have treated your ex-spouse and any children decently.

And, if by any chance you are no longer alive, I pray that God will have mercy on you.  We know that God is a just God, and that he is a merciful God.  James 2:13 says that "mercy triumphs over judgment". I believe God's mercy will triumph.

May God bless and care for you, T.


Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In the aftermath, what now?

In the aftermath of this election, I don't know what to say or what to do.

I fear that no matter what I say or what I do, I am going to offend someone.

If I point out one side, I will get hammered by the other side.

If I stay silent, I will be accused of complicity.

Right now, I am just drained dry.

For a week, I've had very little to give to anyone.

I do not want to hate or be hateful, but I fear that I will be labeled as a "hater" no matter what I say or what I do.

I don't know what to do in this aftermath of the most contentious Presidential election in my lifetime, and the most stunning upset since "Dewey Defeats Truman".  People are angry, and people are afraid. And nothing anyone says or does seems to calm this fear or this anger.

A Facebook friend said that she didn't think we'd ever heal, and I worry that she's right.

And while I hope I'm wrong, I fear a mass civil disturbance is on its way.  I fear an attack on the President-elect and/or on our country.  I'm not holed up in the house--I won't do that--but I don't think I'm being paranoid by saying that this is what I'm afraid of.

Mentally, I think I was more prepared for a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency.  Now, my brain is trying to make the shift and it's not doing very well.

My writing is nil at this point.  The story I have been working on, I don't have the gumption to write on right now.  My poor best friend, also a writer, has similar feelings; and she carries a burden that I do not.  She's a caregiver to an elderly relative, and that presents its own challenges.

We are both drained dry.

So, in the aftermath of this election, and in this transition from Obama to Trump, what now?

I don't know.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Plot twists, primal screams, and Dewey Defeats Truman

For months, I have been waiting for the last, final plot twist in this unbelievable election season.

I thought the final plot twist was the "locker room" conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush where Trump said vile, disgusting things about how he could (and may have) treated women.

Then I thought the final plot twist was the FBI reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

But never, never, never, in my thoughts about this election did I think that I was going to write the words I am about to write:

President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Apparently that was the plot twist that I should have been waiting for.

I stayed off of Facebook on Election Day.  Perhaps I should also have stayed off of it today.

Already, people are venting their anger, fear, and frustration.  From the way some people are posting, we're either going to be living in the country of Panem (from The Hunger Games) or the Republic of Gilead (from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.)

I don't blame people for being concerned.  And I will not say that people shouldn't be angry or feel angry.  I didn't like it when people told me that "God is in control" when an election didn't turn out the way I wanted it, so I am not going to say to anyone now.

Last night, a political pundit on CNN describe the election results as a "primal scream" of the American electorate.  There may be more truth than he realizes.  People are angry, frustrated, and fed up.  People are tired of what they perceive to be an unresponsive government and a government that does not seem to listen to the electorate.

So, when an "outsider" came along who expertly tapped into the anger and frustration that many people feel -- and expertly exploited that same anger -- people turned to him.

Right now, I don't really have the energy to empathize.  I have empathy fatigue.  I'm sure that some rest and a resetting of the brain after this long, tumultuous election season will take away that empathy fatigue.  

But I think I can predict that, when Donald Trump actually does get into the White House, and he is unable/unwilling to do what he promised he would do, the same people who were so enthusiastic about putting him in the White House are going to be the same people that will feel betrayed, and they will be the same people who will start screaming about getting him OUT of the White House in four years.

In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and listen to the so-called experts try and dissect the events of this generation's version of Dewey Defeats Truman.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, November 4, 2016

"You talkin' to me?"

"You talkin' to me?"

Travis Bickle, played by Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, asked that iconic question.

Well, I'm not talking to Travis Bickle, or Robert DeNiro, but I am talking to several other people.

Hey, you.

Yeah, you.

I'm talking to you:

Ted Cruz
Mark Levin
Sarah Palin
Rush Limbaugh
Sean Hannity
Bill O'Reilly
Ann Coulter
Newt Gingrich
Franklin Graham

And anyone else who calls themselves "conservative" but who's been willing to sell out their principles for the sake of not putting someone in the White House but for the sake of keeping someone out of the White House.

Hey, you.

Yeah, you.

I'm talking to you.

You have sown the wind.

You will reap the whirlwind.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I heard it through the CPAP . . .

(This is probably THE most bizarre blog entry I have ever written.  Maybe it will serve as a distraction in these days leading up to the election.)

I just turned 53.  Those of you that are of my generation probably remember the Partridge Family, a series about the comedic adventures of a singing family.  In one episode, Laurie, the second-oldest child and oldest daughter, gets braces . . . and during rehearsals, the metal in her mouth starts picking up signals from her boyfriend's transistor radio.

I'm having the same experience with my CPAP.

I have sleep apnea, and for the past several years, I've been sleeping with a CPAP mask.  In fact, I'm so used to it that when I recently tried to sleep without it for a night, I couldn't do it.

But also, for the past several years, I've been hearing noises through my CPAP that I'm convinced are from a radio station.  I just can't figure out which one.

It started when I was hearing, "It's the radio show / WAYB / WAYB / it's the radio show," sung to the tune of the song, "Turn the Radio On".  It sounded like a jingle for a broadcast segment.

Before you ask, yes, I have searched on the Internet, and yes, I did find a WAYB, 95.7 FM, in Graysville, TN.  I live in Atlanta, about 150 miles away.  It's possible that my CPAP could be picking up the signals from this station.  However, this WAYB doesn't broadcast on the Internet, so I can't compare what I'm hearing on my CPAP with the radio station.

But more recently, I haven't been hearing the jingle.  Instead, I've been hearing letters and odd sentences coming through my CPAP.

I hear someone saying the letters, "W-A-Y-A, W-A-Y-C, W-A-Y-D, W-A-Y-E . . ." and on. Sometimes they start at the end of the alphabet, "W-A-Y-Z, W-A-Y-Y, W-A-Y-X, W-A-Y-V . . ." and so on.

Within the last couple of weeks, I've started to hear, "W-A-Y-B, W-C-K-G." Or, possibly, W-Z-K-G, or W-C-K-Z, or something similar sounding . . .  and then, W-O-I-See, W-O-I-Hear, W-O-I-Smell, W-O-I-Taste.

I don't know what I am hearing.  I don't know if it's a station identification, or someone just playing games, or what.

So tell me, am I legitimately hearing something through my CPAP?

Or am I, like Marvin Gaye sang in the song, just about to lose my mind, honey, honey?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Barbecued in the name of democracy . . .

Yesterday, I was barbecued in the name of democracy.

Yesterday was the very first day of early voting in my county.  There is only one place where people can go to vote (until more satellite stations open up in about a week or so), and it's at the Department of Elections in the county seat.

I am tired of this election, and a while back, I decided that I would go on the first day of early voting and get it over with.

Time of arrival:  about 11 a.m.

Time of departure:  about 3:45 p.m.

Yep.  I spent FOUR AND A HALF HOURS in line waiting to vote.  And as a result, I have a sunburn on my face.

During those four and a half hours, I stood outside in a line reminiscent of that you would find at Disney.  Complete with movable portable separators.

I had no hat, no sunscreen, one bottle of water, and two electronic devices unable to be charged.

I did have a small notebook, so I took a few notes about what was going on around me.

I also had a nice chat with the women waiting with me.

The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of the year.  Two people had to be treated by the EMTs for heat exhaustion.  Several left the line to go sit down.

But despite the heat, people didn't get angry with each other.  They grew impatient, but no riots or fights broke out.

Once we FINALLY got inside, I showed my ID, got my voting card, was shown to where the voting machines were, and pulled up my ballot.

First, I voted down ballot.  There was a US Senate race and a US Representative race I voted for; four amendments, several local races, and a SPLOST initiative (special local sales tax.)

Then, I moved back up to the top of the ballot and touched "write-in", trying to figure out what the procedure was.

I was confronted with a QWERTY keyboard.

So I took my index finger, and very slowly, and very deliberately, I pecked out the letters S-N-O-O-P-Y.

Then I hit "cast ballot".

My duty was done.

Yes.  I voted for Snoopy for president.  THAT is how disgusted I am with the slate we are being offered this year.  We had three candidates on the ballot, and I picked none of them.

Because, you see, for me it all came down to this:

I don't trust one candidate, I don't think one candidate is qualified, and I don't think one candidate knows what they are talking about.  Therefore, my conscience won't let me vote for either of them.

Why, you may ask, did I cast a protest vote for Snoopy instead of just leaving it blank?

And why not vote for any of the above?

I cast a protest vote to make a statement.

And I didn't vote for any of the above because . . . ?

In this election, it was not that I wouldn't vote for any of them.

It was that I couldn't vote for any of them.

I hope it was worth getting barbecued for the sake of democracy.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Losing Mom

September 11th was the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
September 11th was also the 23rd anniversary of my father's death.
September 11th was the day I lost my mother.

My mother has been in assisted living since July a year ago.  She developed a blood clot in her leg, resulting in three surgeries and rehab.  But as a result, she couldn't go back home because she wasn't able to live on her own.  So she went to assisted living.  My sister had to make that decision, and while I'm sure it was not easy for her, she did the right thing.  She found a comfortable place for my mother to live.  I've visited there, and it's very nice.  My sister checks on my mother regularly, takes her to doctor's appointments, does her laundry, and takes her shopping and out to eat.  The personnel also check on her regularly.

Last Labor Day, I went to visit her and noticed her memory starting to slip a bit.  I chalked it up partially to age (she's now 78) but also wondered if there was something else going on.

When her Christmas card came that year, she signed it with her first name, not, "Mom."

I saw her again this past July, and it was difficult for her to hold a conversation.  She resorted to the phrase, "That one," when she couldn't think of what to say.  About ten minutes after I got there, she said, are we going?   It wasn't until we'd gone out to the car and driven a few minutes that I realized that she wanted to go to Walmart.  I went along.

She, my sister, her husband, and my family went out to dinner on the Sunday that I was there.  My mother had a hard time explaining what she wanted to eat and fixated on the amount of water that Matthew was drinking.  We kept telling her, it's okay, he can go to the restroom.

This past Sunday--September 11th--I called her.  Our conversation lasted about five minutes, and I'm not sure if she realized I was calling because it was the anniversary of Daddy's death.

After I hung up, I realized that I'd lost my mother, and she's not even dead yet.

Tuesday she had a brain scan.  I don't know the results of it yet, and also, the doctor will need to see her as well.  But I will not be surprised if the doctor's conclusion is that she's dealing with some sort of disorder.  My grandmother--her mother--died of dementia as well.

Since telling people about my mother, I've heard so many say, this has happened to my parent as well. There are too many people who have lost loved ones to brain disorders.

T.S. Eliot was wrong.
April is not the cruelest month.
September is the cruelest month.
Especially September 11th.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Leave the girls alone!

You never do anything right
You never put anything in its place
No wonder everyone calls you
Failure Face.

From "Failure Face", from "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". 

Gymnast Simone Biles is predicted to win five--yes, five--gold medals in this Olympics.  As I write this, she's competing in the all-around event of women's gymnastics.  

She is 19 years old and considered the best female gymnast of all time.

But predicting five gold medals for her is setting her up to be a failure face.

Because, no matter what she does, no matter how many gold medals she wins, no matter how many Olympic medals she wins, the story is not going to be what she won.  The story will be, why didn't she win the five gold medals she was predicted to win?  

Gabby Douglas is having a similar problem.

Four years ago, in London, she became the first African-American gymnast to win the all-around gold medal.  

Within 24 hours, the Internet was abuzz about. . . . Her hair.  

Apparently, something was wrong with Gabby because she was using hair gel on her hair.  

Tuesday night, the American girls became the first American team to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in team gymnastics.  Because this is Martha Karolyi's final Olympics, they have named their team the "Final Five".  

The Internet is now abuzz about not only Gabby's hair, but the fact that she didn't put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem.   

I did check the US Flag Code, and the code does say that non-military people, during the playing of the National Anthem, should face the flag and put their right hand over their heart.  

While researching the Flag Code, I came upon a mention of Barack Obama's failure to put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem in a now-infamous picture that has since circulated the Internet to show his supposed lack of patriotism.  He was quoted as saying, "I was taught that you put your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, but during the National Anthem, you sing."

I'll give Gabby the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps that was how she learned it as well.  I will say that she stood at attention and was respectful.  

As for her hair . . . I'm a white woman, and I don't completely understand the fuss over the hair.  I will say that she has to keep her hair out of her eyes when she's performing.  Her hair gets in her eyes, she can't see; she can't see, at the least, she makes a mistake on her apparatus; at worst, she gets hurt on her apparatus!

Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas are in an impossible position.  No matter what they do, someone is not going to be happy with them.

Gabby is 20.  Simone is 19.  They are at the pinnacle of their gymnastics careers.  They have achieved what only five women in the United States can achieve every four years.

Give them a break.

Leave the girls alone!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

The beginning of the end . . .

This week marked the beginning of the end.

Matthew got on a bus for his senior year in high school.

Next year at this time, he'll be getting on a bus to go to a different program, for life skills and job skills, run by the Gwinnett County Public Schools, called STRIVE.

So on Monday, when he got on that bus, it was the last "first day of school" for him.

In just a few weeks, it'll be the last open house.

Then it'll be the last Thanksgiving break.

Then the last Christmas break.

The last Special Olympics stuff he'll do this year.

In May, he'll be one of the ones honored at our church's Senior Honors Night.  And on May 24, 2017, it will be his last day of school.

Sometime during the first few months of 2017, I will do my last IEP meeting before he graduates.  (I will probably be doing IEPs for his time in STRIVE.)

The song "Sunrise, Sunset" has suddenly become more poignant for me this year.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Underdog Olympics

One thing that Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, knows how to do is throw a party.

So when the loudspeakers blared the opening notes of the appropriately selected song "Brazil" and the audience roared its welcome, it should have come as no surprise that the flagbearer of the Brazilian Olympic team danced into Maracana Stadium.

I didn't stay up to see the entire Opening Ceremonies.  I did watch the Parade of Nations, which to me, is one of the best and most intriguing part of the Olympics. I enjoy seeing the outfits bedecking each nation's team members.  (In the case of the flagbearer from Tonga, more people enjoyed the fact that his chest was not bedecked in a national outfit.)

In the days leading up to these Games, I've seen speculation that they might be canceled, that Rio just wasn't ready for the Olympics.  I've heard about the raw sewage in the water.  I've heard about the poor Australians and their problems in the Olympic Village -- blocked toilets, a fire, and theft.  The host of this Olympics is an interim president.  The current president of Brazil is being impeached. And the budget of the Opening Ceremonies was cut.  Severely.

So, Rio resorted to what it knew how to do best:  Music, dancing, and color.  They channeled the energy that is Rio into Maracana Stadium.

People love the story of an underdog.  With an impeached president, a limited budget, and sanitation problems facing these Olympics, perhaps the city of Rio could be cast in the role of underdog.

I think that's one reason I like the Parade of Nations.  When the athletes march in, the commentators will often find a story about one or two of the athletes to humanize the representatives of that particular country.  Such as, the fact that Vietnam may have the chance to win its first Olympic gold medal, ever.  (They did.  Vinh Xuan Hoang won in the 10-meter air pistol event.)  Or, the triplets from Estonia -- Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik -- who will all compete in the marathon.  Their slogan?  "Trio to Rio."  We hear about such people, and we may think, "Nice story, but can they win?"  Thus, they become an underdog, and most people have a soft spot in their hearts for underdogs.

Before the audience roared their welcome to the Brazilian Olympic team, they paid tribute to who are, perhaps, the ultimate "underdogs" in these games.  They are ten athletes, five from South Sudan, two from Syria, and two from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, competing as members of the Refugee Olympic Team.  Their handle on social media is #teamrefugee, and they were greeted with a standing ovation.

The underdogs, more than anyone, probably appreciate the Olympic creed:  "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the more important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.  The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Rio, at the moment, is in the "fighting" stage.  According to one news commentator, Rio's answer to their critics will be to put on a good show.

So, crank up your bossa nova and brush up on your samba moves.  Rio de Janeiro is throwing a party and they have invited the world.

Let the Games begin!


Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ruby Bridges

Yesterday, I stood between two African-American women, our hands clasped together in prayer.  We are all part of our church's praise team, and we'd just finished having a brunch and listening to two people talk.  One of the people who spoke was an elder at my church, a very dear African-American man.  (I was in a Sunday evening small group he led for a while.  The reason he should be an elder is because, anyone who can put up with ME in a small group deserves to be an elder!)

Were it not for the courage of a six-year-old girl in November of 1960, such an occurence may not have been possible.

Today, I got to hear the story of that six-year-old girl.

Ruby Bridges (Hall) was born on September 8, 1954.  Less than four months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down their decision in Brown v. Board of Education, ordering the desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed".

The South responded with deliberation, but not with speed.  In fact, in most places in the South, the "deliberation" they responded with was the deliberation to make it as hard as possible for black children to go to school with white children.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1960, the NAACP put out a request:  will you volunteer your children to help integrate the New Orleans public school system?  Ruby Bridges' family said yes.  Mr. Bridges was reluctant, but Mrs. Bridges convinced him to let Ruby attend.

So Ruby took a test--a test that was designed to set up kids to fail--and was one of only six black children, out of 140, who passed.  The stage was set.  The New Orleans schools would be integrated.

If any of you are familiar with Ruby Bridges' story, you probably have seen Norman Rockwell's painting "The Problem We All Live With":

When Ruby told her story today, she sat on stage with my minister and just spoke, very simply.  It was her child's innocence, she said, that protected her.  Everyone was excited for her to go to this new school, and people said over and over that she was so smart because she was one of the few kids that had passed the test to get into school.

On November 14, 1960, as Ruby was dressing for school (in a coat that she said she hated!) someone knocked at the door, and when it was opened, a man announced that they were federal marshals and they were there to escort Ruby to school.  Ruby thought, "Who are they?"  No one had told Ruby about the men, and no one had explained to her that she was going to be integrating the school.  This was a time when children--especially in the African-American community, Ruby explained--were "seen and not heard".  You didn't ask questions.

So, Ruby and four federal marshals climbed into a car, and they were escorted to William Frantz Elementary School by the members of Ruby's community.

But when Ruby got there, she was taken to the principal's office and stayed there all day.  She had noticed the crowds screaming and shouting, and she thought, this is just like a parade!  They all came out for me because I'm so smart and I must have gone straight from kindergarten into college!

At the end of the day, when she went home, she thought, college is easy!

She went home, and she jumped rope to the chant she'd heard that day:  "Two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate!"  What she did not know was that 500 kids were taken out of school that day by parents who did not want their children to attend school with a black child.

And then the second day came.  And that was the day that Ruby's mother got very nervous.  Because now the world knew that the New Orleans schools were being integrated.  And the world sent the media to cover it.

The federal marshals came to the door, took Ruby into the car, and when they got to school, they told her, walk straight ahead and don't look at the crowd.

She got to her classroom, and the door opened and a woman named Barbara Henry introduced herself, and said, I'm going to be your teacher.  Ruby's reaction:  She's white.  She's just like all those people out there who were screaming.

Except she wasn't like them.  Ruby, while speaking today, described Barbara Henry as "the nicest teacher she had".

For the entire year, it was Ruby Bridges and Barbara Henry, alone, in a classroom.

On that second day, a white girl crossed the picket line.  Five or six other families--at personal risk--sent their children to Ruby's school.  Ruby could hear the kids, but when she told Mrs. Henry that she heard them, Mrs. Henry wouldn't tell her about them.  Because, the principal--who was on the side of the demonstrators--had hidden the kids so that they wouldn't see Ruby.

Finally, Ruby got to meet the kids.  Her reaction:  "I knew I heard kids!"  And like all children, she wanted friends.  But one little boy told her:  "I can't play with you because you're a nigger."  That was when the light dawned.  "So this is what this is all about."

She wasn't angry.  If, Ruby said, her parents had told her not to play with a white child, she would have done it because her parents told her to.  "We pass racism on to our children," she said.

Ruby finished that first grade.  She grew up to become a travel agent, and then lost that job.  Restless and at a loss, she asked God, "What am I supposed to do?"  She heard in response, "You're not doing what I want you to do."  Her answer, "Then you need to tell me what I need to do, and if you are who I think you are, I'll do it."

It so happened that, at that time, she was caring for the children of her late brother, and the kids were attending the same school she had integrated.  The current principal, after telling her, I know who you are, encouraged her to volunteer.  And around the same time, Robert Coles' book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, was published  . . . and when the publisher said, we want you to do publicity for it, and we'll pay you $50,000, she said, "I think I can do that."

While her courage as a child moved me, it was the portion of the story she told about her adult life that nearly moved me to tears.

Ruby had four children.  Her second son, along with one of her grandsons, was shot in a drive-by shooting.  Ruby was just simply grateful that they were alive.  Her oldest son, though, was consumed by the shooting.  Four months later, Ruby's oldest son was rear-ended, and after her son got out and conversed with the driver, he turned around.  The door to the driver's car opened.  The person that emerged shot Ruby's son 11 times.  He died four hours later at a hospital.  The police thought that Ruby's son may have been investigating his brother's shooting on his own, and that the shooters found him first.

And right after that, Katrina hit and destroyed the home she lived in.

Two years after her son's murder, she awoke fearing that she was having a heart attack.  At the hospital, she met a nurse and, in the conversation, learned that this nurse was the ER nurse who had cared for her son before he died.  She said, I prayed with him the whole time.  The reason you're here today isn't because you're having a heart attack (which she was not.)  You came here for me.  God had sent Ruby there so she could hear about her son's last moments.  She said to us, there is a God, he is real, and he hears us.

Ruby was invited to speak on faith and politics at last week's Democratic National Convention. Given her experiences as a child and as a mother who'd lost a child to violence, the inevitable question came:  So, how do you feel about Black Lives Matter?

Her answer:  Black lives do matter.  They mattered to her, her husband, her sons, her grandson, her widowed daughter-in-law, her grandchildren left without a father.  Her son's life had been taken by someone who looked like him.  And then she said, "Black lives have to matter to us [to other blacks] first."

And then she said, "There is an 'us and them'.  It is good and evil.  Evil doesn't care what you look like.  We're busy talking about color, but there is a bigger force of evil.  We are up against evil," she said, "we need to be aware of the real war."

That, she said, was the message she delivered to the Democratic National Convention.

She holds no anger, no bitterness against those who mistreated her as a child.  She holds sorrow and grief over the violence that killed her son.  But above all, she holds a faith in God that has brought her through; the God that she says is real, and that he hears us.

She was greeted with a standing ovation.  She received several ovations during her talk.  We thanked her with a standing ovation.  All of them were deserved.

I visited the exhibit afterwards which told the story of how Christians had participated in the battle for equality in education.  Several of our members acted as guides, telling different parts of the story and asking us to leave comments.  At the end, we got a chance to briefly meet Ruby.  Several members of our church had their picture taken with her.

In these days of violence, hate, and "us vs. them", Ruby Bridges reminded us today that the war is with evil.  And she put a face on those that fought in the war against evil; a woman who sat in an empty classroom and taught her, a nurse who spoke of the last hours of Ruby's son, a publisher that encouraged her to tell her story.

Our theme this year at church is "Fear[less]", i.e. not being totally without fear, but learning to live with less fear.  I do not think it is an accident that, in this year of police shootings, terrorist attacks, and a volatile, contentious Presidential campaign, that we are learning about fearing less, and that a woman spoke to us today who pointed the way to living with less fear.

Sunday at 10 a.m. has been called "the most segregated hour in America".  My church tries hard to be the exception to that rule.  Ruby Bridges, and other heroes of the Civil Rights movement, show that it is possible for love to overcome hate, for blacks and whites to clasp hands around a circle of prayer, for all of us to worship the God that loves us, no matter the color of our skin.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Carb, two, three, four . . .

At a recent endocrinologist's appointment, I was told that my blood sugar was rather high.  So, I did a glucose tolerance test to find out whether or not I had diabetes.  (Do not misinterpret the name.  The "tolerance" part is actually a test to see if you can tolerate the taste of the liquid glucose they make you drink!)

After getting my blood drawn, I drank the aforementioned liquid glucose and shudder at the sweetness.  Then I got to wait for two hours.  And since I had to wait for two hours, I was advised to bring a book or something to keep me busy.  I took my iPad and iPod, and was lucky enough to be able to stream some video.

Two hours later, I got another blood draw.  I've had so many blood draws that the veins around my elbows are shot.  So I just tell the tech, take it out of the back of my hand.  You can see the veins there.  So yes, I got two blood draws in two hours.  Ouch.

When the results came back, they showed that I was pre-diabetic.

Not good.

So I get to enter the wonderful world of . . . carb counting.

My endocrinologist has a dietician.  I'm a bit skeptical of dieticians, because I've seen two of them in my lifetime, and both of them have told me that I need to "eat organic".  When I protested to one that I couldn't afford organic, he said, "It's better for you in the long run."  No mention of the cost factor.

The other one wanted me to eat weird food that I couldn't afford and probably didn't like.

So I approached that appointment with a mixture of fear and trepidation.

This appointment, however, was run by a reasonable person.

She gave me a guide to carb counting, and when I asked her if I was going to be told to eat weird food that I couldn't afford and didn't like, she said, "No."  She also said that no, I didn't have to eat organic.  Thank God.  But she did say that I needed to add more protein, more vegetables, and exercise consistently.

So now, the challenge is, how in the world do I plan meals with fewer carbs?  Probably, I just have to sit down and do it.

The answer to everything these days, it seems, is "exercise and eat your veggies."

So, all together now:

Carb, two, three, four; carb, two, three, four . . .

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tina to GOP: Bye, Felicia

Although my dad registered as a Democrat when we moved to Florida -- for reasons he never explained to me -- I grew up with Republican Party principals.  I remember riding in the car one time with my father when Ronald Reagan came on the air, and my father said, "Silence."

He also took me one time with him when he voted.  And we watched every evening news program that was on:  ABC at 6, NBC at 6:30, CBS at 7.  So I grew up with a knowledge of current events and the idea that it was very important to vote.

When I went away to college, I went to Florida State, and in Leon County, you could register to vote if you were within six months of your 18th birthday.  So I registered, and when asked for a party affiliation, I put down Republican.

The first time I voted for President, in 1984, I voted for Ronald Reagan.

I was young and ignorant in 1988, and I voted for Dukakis.

But ever since then, I voted Republican for president.

I've always believed in a rather limited government.  I'm a moral, fiscal, and social conservative, and I don't believe that the government should be giving "handouts".  (I also understand that there's a difference between a handup and a handout.  There is a place for short-term help and for help for those who cannot work.)  I worry about the increasing power of the federal government.  Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

But the GOP has been sliding away from conservative principles for the last several years, and increasingly, I have grown very angry with their leadership.  They say they have principles, and yet they abandon them for the sake of "getting along".  You can say what you will about Sarah Palin, but in 2008, she did galvanize the conservative base of the Republican Party--a base that is now being ignored.

Over the past year, the Republican Party has rallied behind a man who, in my opinion, is not qualified for the Presidency.  He has had success and failure in business, but knows nothing about foreign policy or how to work with Congress or foreign governments.  If he HAS worked with foreign governments, it's in his capacity as a businessman and not as a world leader.

He has shot his mouth off about Muslims, immigration, Megyn Kelly, and other subjects, and he has refused to apologize.

He does not believe he needs to be forgiven by God.

People support him because "he says what everyone else wants to say but either can't or won't."

He wants to make America great again but has no specifics on how he will do it.

And one by one, the leaders of the Republican Party and conservative media have all fallen in line behind a Pied Piper playing his flute and leading the children, one by one, off to the side of a mountain, where the door will close behind them.

Last night, upon learning that Donald Trump had officially and formally secured the Republican nomination for President, I'd had enough.

My 35-year relationship with the Republican Party is at an end.

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson posted an article this morning that sums up much of what I also am feeling.  He says that he cannot be a water carrier for Trump.

Neither can I.

So, here's my farewell to the Republican Party:

Bye, Felicia.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Empathy fatigue and adverbial correctness

I have empathy fatigue.

I'm currently on vacation, in Florida relaxing at my mother-in-law's house.  She's a gracious hostess and I appreciate her hospitality.

It was probably before I left that I started developing empathy fatigue.  When I heard about the shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I thought, "Not again.  Here we go again."

On the drive down to Florida, we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast, and that was when I learned, courtesy of a big-screen TV blaring CNN all over the place, that TWO black men, in different parts of the country, had been shot by white policemen in 24 hours.  One of them was the shooting in Baton Rouge.  The other was in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The MN shooting was live streamed on Facebook.  The Baton Rouge shooting was also videoed and placed on the Internet.

After seeing the news on CNN, all I wanted to do was cry.  Because such shootings have happened too often.  And I predicted that violence such as what happened in Ferguson would follow.

What I did not predict -- indeed, what probably no one else predicted -- was the senseless slaughter from ambush of five Dallas police officers, murdered in cold blood.

That, I learned of when I sat down for breakfast Friday morning, opened up my iPad, and saw as the first alert from my news apps.  All I could do was whisper, "Oh, my God."

I, like probably numerous others in this country, am just plain overwhelmed and tired from all of the violence, murder, and other bad news we've been hearing recently.  Orlando knocked the Standford rape case out of the headlines.  A bombing in Iraq knocked Orlando out of the headlines.  Baton Rouge knocked that bombing out of the headlines.  St. Paul knocked Baton Rouge out of the headlines.  Dallas knocked both Baton Rouge and St. Paul out of the headlines.  The American flag has been at half-mast for so long and for so many times, I've forgotten who, at the moment, we're supposed to be honoring.

What next?  What next?

I'm worn out from trying to care and from being expected to care.  I describe it as "empathy fatigue". I think the correct term is "compassion fatigue", and it's common among those who serve in the helping professions.

Not only am I worn out from trying to care, I am worn out from trying to be adverbially correct.

That's not meant to be a comment on the use of correct grammar.  Rather, I feel as if I have to have the politically, socially, Bibically, spiritually, -- whatever -ly word you want to use -- correct position on every. single. issue that is out there.  And the thought of having to do the research and thinking to come up with whatever that position is just leaves me overwhelmed.

And in addition, I feel that no matter what I say, as a white woman, I am going to be labeled as either "racist" or "privileged".

If I am not an overt racist, I'm a covert racist.
If I'm not a covert racist, I'm an inadvertent racist.
If I'm not an inadvertent racist, I'm an unconscious racist.
If I'm not an unconscious racist, I'm a subtle racist.

And if I'm none of the above, I'm "privileged" solely because I'm white.

Therefore, since I am white and privileged,  nothing I say counts.

At the risk of offending friends on both sides of the political aisle, I'm going to say two things:
1.  Sometimes the police officer is the bad guy.
2.  Sometimes the African-American who is shot by the police is the bad guy.

Neal Boortz, a retired talk show host who was based in Atlanta, has said that when a young black is shot by a white police officer, the narrative is that the young black is ALWAYS innocent and the white officer is ALWAYS guilty.  I can't say that he's totally wrong.  Because that does seem to be the narrative these days.  What I resent about these police shootings is that NO ONE is willing to wait until the facts come out before they start casting blame--whether it be at the white cop or the African-American victim.

On the other hand, we DO have a tragic history of racism when it comes to the treatment of African Americans by white officers--and sadly, there are some white officers that still automatically treat African-Americans as if they are criminals when they are not.  One of my minister's sons is African American.  He's been subject to such treatment from white police officers.

We live in a world where it seems that right has become wrong, wrong has become right, and the world has turned upside down.  To tell me, as a Christian, to, "just read your Bible and do what it says" doesn't completely help , because ANYONE can take the Bible and use it to "prove" that what they are saying is accurate.  To go through and try to prove or disprove every.single.teaching that is out there is a job I just can't do.

I"m a white woman who doesn't want to be a racist.  I'm a Christian who wants to follow God's command to love Him, love others, and reach the lost.  Is there no way for me to do it without falling victim to empathy fatigue and/or having to be adverbially correct on everything?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Monday, July 4, 2016

On the 240th birthday of the United States of America . . .

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton
Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton
Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Column 4
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean
Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark
Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The 49 . . .

They loved.  They were loved.  And they will be missed.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old