Saturday, January 1, 2022

The post at the top

Thank you for reading my work.  Seriously.

  Thank you.  

I've decided to tackle this post early on to think through how to handle things before they arise.

There are some rules - basic stuff. Please take the minute to read over them.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Address on Independence Day That Our Nation Needed

My Fellow Americans,

Thank you for joining me here this evening to celebrate the creation of this nation that we all love. We stand together tonight beneath the presence of four of our former leaders. In the celebration of our nation and our history.

And that is how we Americans like to view the history of our nation, monumental, larger than life, and as permanent as a mountain. That collection of beliefs is part of what shapes the American myth.
Monuments, as grand as they might be only relate a fragment of the complexity of the humanity and events that they attempt to capture.

We call these presidents hewn into the stone behind me ‘great men’ and we hail them, preserve them in stone as the shapers of our nation.

They did that, among many other roles they played in their lives. But, this is how we choose to remember them. All of them, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln, emerged from riot, rebellion, and war to create this nation, to hold it together, and to heal our republic.

They are not great men because they conquered, or won. But, because they were gracious in victory. Punishment is the hallmark of a tyrant. Grace is the hallmark of a ‘great man’.

We are a nation born in rebellion. That fact has informed the myth of America that we all carry.

The America we celebrate today was only achieved by disparate groups working together with one another toward a common goal. And in those struggles, we embraced one another and our allies. Those nations of men and women who shared our values and our hope of independence.

Without the help of France, America might never have emerged from the colonies.

LaFayette, our favorite fighting Frenchman, to borrow a line from Mr. Miranda’s “Hamilton” is only one of the first of a long line of great people who have shaped America by giving of themselves. Sometimes, even to the cost of their own lives.

Those who have fought and died for this nation create a line through history from the Revolution to the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and the global conflicts of WWI and WWII.

To take a page from the annals of WWII, we know our ally's names. Churchill, Montgomery of Britain. DeGaulle. Added to those are the scores of nameless patriots who formed the Resistance movements across Europe.

Together, as allies, we fought to preserve freedom against the horror and brutality of the Nazi regime.

That is a fact. It is history, not myth.

For there is a difference between myth and history.

Myth makes us feel better, it justifies and validates our actions. But myth is something removed from reality, which we create by picking and choosing from history. We choose from the facts of the past what we find important or meaningful. And, it is the nature of myth to overlook or to ignore that which does not fit or complement the narrative.

And myth, while it persists through the generations, is malleable. Each new group of children faces a world different from that of their parents. And they add to the myth with what they know, and what they find important.

Who would we choose to memorialize today?

John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Sitting Bull.

The mythology of our nation grows and changes, even as we do. The Great Myth of America is not captured in stone. It is constantly evolving as we change as a nation.

History, while historians may re-interpret them, history is based on facts. And the full story of history is unafraid to look at not only the successes, the victories - but it also embraces the facts which today might seem unpalatable. Or which we might not agree with. History includes our failures and our near misses.

For example, many Americans have the idea that the United States stepped into WWII and stopped it.

This view - which is blurred at the edges and seen through a rosy filter, is an attractive and comforting myth of our own prowess and strength.

If asked who our allies were you would hear the answers - Churchill’s England, DeGaulle’s France.

How many will choose to remember that Stalin’s Soviet Union was also our ally?

That is history. That is fact.

And that is only one example of how myth differs from history.

Myth looks through a lens that softens the edges. That selects carefully what it will see.
History is clear-eyed. It recognizes that our nation is capable of great things and that we also carry the legacy of our imperfect past.

Myth proclaims us a paragon, offering stories, analogies, and yes, the occasional fact.
But history extends its roots down into fact and is not afraid to hold up a mirror that shows us our errors. History challenges us to do better.

Blindly accepting myth, without evaluating what historical facts it offers, is building a castle in the air. Without foundations, one puff of wind will disperse it into nothingness.

The myth that we as Americans hold close to our hearts is of a nation of freedom, of fairness, of grit, of opportunity, of tolerance and determination.

It is the belief that we are the shining beacon on the hill.

It is a worthy ambition.

To achieve that ideal we must build a foundation rooted in the no-nonsense facts of reality. We must not only speak of those ideals, but each of us must also embody them.

So, on this July 4th, when our nation feels fragmented, isolated, and under attack by disease, falsity, narrow mindedness, and fear. I would remind you of the qualities that when they are held together by the citizens of this nation: tolerance, fairness, honesty, innovation, and determination -

That is when America is at its best.
That is when as a nation, America is great.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Guest Post: from Carrie About Anxiety and Masks

On Facemasks

I keep seeing people complaining that they can't breathe in face masks. They describe feeling light headed, they fear that they're not getting enough oxygen. They describe feeling tightness in their chests, tingling in their extremities. They feel confused and claustrophobic.

Baby, that's not oxygen shortage, you're just having an anxiety response. Welcome to the club. We have a handshake... you just hold out your hand... and it shakes.

You're not going to die. It feels like it. It's scary. You don't like it. There are actual scientifically proven ways to deal with and overcome these feelings.

When you see someone who is going off on an anti-mask rant, slip them a DM with this link.

Don't mock them in public, or show them the proof about why they're not dying of oxygen deprivation.

They're just experiencing a new mental health challenge and since they've never had any patience for any mental health stuff, they're totally not equipped to deal with it.

Why Protective Face Masks Make You Feel Anxious and What You Can Do to Cope

A good friend posted this on FB and with her permission, I'm passing it along.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I was waiting for someone to point this out.

I wish I had said this, but this is perhaps the most comprehensive and cogent information I have seen.
If you have a link to this person's blog entry, please share it. I want to link directly to the blog.

On Viruses
From J.Wade via FaceBook

Chicken pox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you're older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system, and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
So far the symptoms may include:
Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:

How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as "getting it over with", when literally no one knows who will be the lucky "mild symptoms" case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30 year olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don't yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it's "just a virus" and we'll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Hamlet Revised

I wrote this in 2015, but I've been trying to knock the rust off my programming skills. This seemed like a good candidate for a slideshow. 


Friday, June 12, 2020

Goodreads - A short note

Hi folks.

I realized today that my writing over at Goodreads is not exactly what I would define as 'readily available.' So, to prevent myself from needing to look for the link, and waste 15 minutes in the process, I'm parking the link here.

Most of these stories are exceedingly short. Snippets, things that fell out of my brain. But, some of them are fun too.

And, to my future self.  See, I knew you would need it.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Ever Wonder...

Ever wonder how a piece of writing gets from the brain to the finished product?
This is one example of how a scene initially tumbles out of my head.  I'll admit, this is a really good example.

A scene from Book 4.