Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Prescription

The holidays approach and I increase my dose of Paxil.  It's not anything personal to anyone at the moment, more of a Holiday ritual. It's not that I hate the Holidays...  wait a minute.  Really, I kind of do hate the holidays.

Not the days in themselves, I don't have any recollection of the Spirit of Christmas assaulting me with boughs of holly.  If anything, said spirit was distinctly not in attendance and therefore has a pretty solid alibi.  Neither has Father Time or Baby New Year anything to worry from a line-up.  The turkey at the end, never saw the guy and he never laid a feather on me.  Nope the embodiments of these holidays were not in the area at the time. Hit them with neglect if you have to, but I say, "give 'em a break. It is, after all, the holidays."

For me, nearly five decades of 'bad holidays' are hopefully coming to a close. I'm staying home this year.  No travel for me. Thank you Universe.   People look to the Holidays as a time to joyously be with family.  The tissue commercials, the coffee commercials, the beer commercials, the articles on how to slaughter and roast your 'perfect' 20 lb. bird, the table decorations, the exuberance of the children, all of the parts and people surrounding me turn into this mutual fantasy of 'the perfect holiday.'   We'll all be together, we'll all be happy.  Myth.

Everyone comes together in my family for a funeral.  That's it. And actually, now that I think of it, now that Nana and Grandaddy are gone, I wonder what is happening that I don't know about.  Heck, half the family could have died and I wouldn't have heard about it. Yes, we are a tight Southern Clan.

But Holidays were not the time for the family to gather.  They were the time that my parents stuffed us all in the car and off we went off the mountain to my grandparents elegant southern home in our stiff clothes, starched, neat, respectable.  When we arrived, we touched nothing, we said virtually nothing, and we didn't see anyone else.  My cousins, of which I have several, had several if the last funeral count still stands, were never in attendance.

We were the segregated part of the family. Often called hill-billy and rat-tail we were not meant to linger or mingle with the rest of the family. And so we didn't.  I recall one holiday meal with my aunt and uncle and their children.  The awkward attempts at conversation, the gaps in even basic knowledge about one another.  My brother making his escape early, my cousin and I following along behind the elders like a pair of matched red-headed mutes.

And that visit was an exception to the rule.  Most holidays were ride in the car in close proximity to my brother, still, silent, hoping he would ignore me for the whole trip.  He wouldn't, I would protest, and the whole cycle of anger would take off from there.  So, I learned not to protest. Suck it up, I can take it. And I could, so I did.

Get to grandparents house, sit for another interminable time, grownups talk, kids remain silent, straight, "don't muss your clothes", get off the floor, no you can't watch TV, we are hear to visit. She wasn't talking to you.

Nana would offer me a soda, and I would say "No thank you, Nana." because there would be Hell to pay if I ever dropped a single spec of it on her carpets.  Nana wouldn't really care so much she'd just send mom the bill, but mom would, I'd never hear the end of it, spoiling her perfection.  Embarrassing her. We'd go out to eat. Nana didn't cook, well, not for us. And then the long ride home in tense silence being enthusiastically grateful for our gifts, on cue, and never for too long.  Excitement in the car was frowned on.

And so it went year after year.  Until my brother started being able to drive on his own, then at least I could sit in silence on the back seat and not have to worry about him hitting me.  Then I went to college, and still, I would now drive the long miles across the state to "be together with the family" for the holidays. But, I might have driven in on my own, but once there it was the same, I was part of the scenery, I would only drink water, I was never quite smart enough in my dress, you know, the usual.

Then when my husband and I moved to NY state.  Finally, I was free, I thought. But, no.  There was still the expectation that I would travel the 13 hours south, to then go 'a progress' of the state from west to east to see all the parts of my scattered family, and his family.  And it was the same scene played over and over, until we got to his family.  Then there was a riot, and clamour, and laughter, and drink, and everything that I was not familiar with that came with a family.

I did that trip, I was dutiful, every year, except one.  That one year, we were packed, the car was facing out of the driveway the only thing left was for me to get into the car. And I couldn't make myself get into the car.  I couldn't face another holiday of masks and pretend and the schism between what we were supposed to be, and what we were.

I couldn't face another holiday playing out the roles, the 'happy homecoming'.  I had a home, in NY.  I wanted to be there. I wanted to be old enough to finally say to my family, "God, no!"  I am not going to play out this fantasy, again.  It's a lie. "Merry bloody Christmas."  As you yourself said mom, as I was curling into a ball and Dad was raging and my brother was yelling.

And now, mom asked if we should all 'get together for the Holiday.' All our dysfunctional, hateful little clan. Dad's in a nursing home, brother is ...  dang I don't even know but at least he's not in jail, I know that much. She is still trying to piece together that damn perfect Holiday.  That cruel fantasy.  No.

Well my husband and I are back below the Mason-Dixon.  We moved back south about six years ago to be closer to his family.  I have finally started to be able to function with the glorious lunacy that is his family.  And I have started to love them each.

And so what did they do.  They up and fucking moved to NJ.  To be closer to his sister and her children.  And now they want me to drive, fucking drive 13 hours to be part of their Holiday.
My reaction.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Echoes of 1933

Photo: the cover of the Philadelphia Daily News
The greatest generation, where are you when you are needed, again?  Gone to flowers, every one. Well, not every one.  But many, most. I cannot imagine what my Grandfather, either of them, would say about Trump.

One grandfather was an engineer during WWII.  He built the runways for the RAF that German bombers pounded every day.  And then, the morning would dawn, and granddad would be repairing them.

The other grandfather, he - well no one really knows what he did during the war.  He never spoke of it.  He had stuffed that part of his life away, with the associated memorabilia, in an attic.  Nana said he was overseas, but that was all she would say.  It remains a mystery.  I could ask and look for the truth, but, it was his life to share and I'll respect his choice.

My Uncle and my Mother remember the Blitz.  They lived through it. To this day my mother doesn't like enclosed spaces.  Too much time in bomb shelters as a little girl.  Huddling in the dark not knowing what the world would look like when you went back "upstairs".  Not knowing if Daddy was alright or if one of the bombs had hit your house.  Hearing the bombs exploding overhead.  Counting between when you heard the engine cut off and when it exploded.  That's a heavy memory for a six year old.

WWII is still very much alive in my family.  On the 70th anniversary of D-Day my mother and I traveled to Bedford, Va to the National D-Day Memorial.  She went to thank the service men who had been on the beaches.  A "thank you" from a little girl who had huddled in a bomb shelter to the men who had made Adolf and his bombs stop.

I have read and studied a great deal about WWII, and not just via the History Channel, thank you very much.  My degrees in Political Science often had me looking at the roots of WWII, the causes.  And it is easy to point to a single ego, a political entity that lusted after power.  But the truth of the matter is much more complex.  The truth lies in the intersection of economics, lifestyle, beliefs, anger, resentment and fear. And at that intersection there came one ego that knew how to exploit the underlying fear and resentment of the masses.  That person, that master manipulator, was Adolf Hitler.

In 1920 Hitler placed his agenda in public.  At one of his first political speeches he outlined the Twenty Five Points of the German Workers' Party.  In this political platform, he called for  rejection of the Treaty of Versailles which was seen as demeaning, And in truth the heavy reparations of the treaty had crippled the German economy, leading to much of the resentment and economic uncertainty of the German citizenry.

A second point in Hitler's vision was citizenship determined by race with no Jew to be considered a German,  In Mein Kampf Hitler relates that his ideas on Jews had been shaped by his early years in Vienna, especially by his admiration for the mayor, Karl Lueger, a noted anti-Semite.  But, that political viewpoint rose to new levels under the guidance of Hitler, who used the Jewish community, especially bankers and financiers, as a scapegoat for the near economic collapse of the 1920s.

In truth the financial woes of Germany in the 1920s were caused by high reparations, high tariffs on German goods, and the reactions to one of the first global economic crisis, the Great Depression. When the United States entered the Great Depression, one of its first actions was to demand repayment of loans that the US had made to Germany post WWI.  This pushed the German economy still closer to collapse.

The average German at this point was watching hyper-inflation make the price of bread soar.  A lack of markets for german goods caused unemployment. The german citizenry was growing poorer, and life was becoming ever more unstable and unpredictable.  The people were becoming not only resentful, but afraid.  For many people the idea that there was someone they could punish for their problems, a scapegoat, was more attractive than reason.

A further tenet of Hiltler's National Socialist German Workers' Party (called Nazi) was religious freedom, except for religions which endanger the German race, namely Judaism, but this was expanded as needed to later include Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses. As the party became more organized, and once Hitler was in power his Minister for Church Affairs, Hans Kerrl, worked to mold Christianity into "Positive Christianity", a Nazi version of Christianity.  The effort was seen as a way to bring the entire population into not only support for the party, but also compliance.

Other point outlined by Hitler in 1920 were a strong central government,  efficient execution of legislation. all income would be earned by work or it would be confiscated, and a restructuring of the education system,

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he viewed trade unions as competition for the power of the workers.  He saw the unions as providing an alternative for workers power, therefore, trade unions were banned in Nazi Germany.

All of these points were to "make Germany great again".  A slogan that any downtrodden person will cling to.  We will be great, again.  Things will be good again.  There will be bread and there will be prosperity and there will be ease, again.  Who wouldn't want a promise like that? It's attractive. It appeals.

I don't throw comparisons to Hitler around lightly, nor should anyone.  Seriously, you shouldn't because using the name Hitler, like a bogey man or an insult diminishes the extent of the evil that he accomplished.  He brought the world to war, again, after "the war to end all wars."  He attempted to systematically exterminate a race. That takes a very special type of insanity.

But I see these patterns being played out, again.  America, your population is afraid.  The economic failure of 2008 has made life uncertain, unstable and unpredictable for a big section of the citizenry, who were previously comfortable. Gun violence has become a daily occurrence in our nation.  In the media the extremes are shouting out the center.  And all of this is allowing egotists and manipulators to emerge.

Trump is creating scapegoats, Mexicans, Muslims. Trump is making promises. We will be great again. Trump proposes a database of all Muslims.  Trump stated  that the sins of the father should be visited on the sons, and daughters, and wives.  That if someone is a terrorist "you have to take out their families."  He was, of course, speaking of Daesh terrorists. (That's ISIS and ISIL.)  But not so strangely, that isn't the part that seems to stick in his followers minds.

Trump has recently stated that Muslims should be forbidden to enter the US and then compared that statement to FDR's internment camp policy during WWII.  For the record, the internment camps of the 1940s were not the best chapter of American history.  It was, indeed, one of the moments when we, as a nation, allowed fear to overrule reason.

And although the scene of a black man being beaten by a white crowd at a Trump rally is more reminiscent of the Civil Rights movement in America.  It was the crowd that horrified me, ordinary men so filled with hate and ready to lash out at anyone they perceived as a threat. Meanwhile Trump, at the head of the hall continued speaking the rhetoric of hate, fear and scapegoats.

When I started this article, I was thinking about Trump, and where he would lead this nation.  But, my thoughts don't bend to him now.  He has stated on the record saying that Hitler references don't bother him.  He is unphased with his manipulation of the masses and the fear mongering.  He thinks it effective and is without guilt or shame.

So I have to look to the American people.  Trump is manipulating you. Wake up.  He is using your fear and he is taking cues directly from the precedent set by Hitler.  And only we, each of us, can resist the poison that he would feed to us. If Trump is allowed to become the leader of anything besides his own parade, we are all in deep. And to quote my Grandad, if that happens, our nation is FUBAR'ed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Just one of those things...

Today is just one of 'those' days.  A day when even thought the sky is blue my whole world appears to be one flat shade of grey.  My depression can be like this, sneaking up out of a stressful moment to make an appearance days later.  These are the days that I just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

Chores get done. I plod through tasks, head down unwilling and by and large unable to look up.  My world collapses to the edges of my task list and extends no further.

My thoughts go dull and I find myself fighting the tide of thoughts as they turn again and again to topics that I try to forget. Or at least I try not to wallow in them.  Tears come easily on days like today, the well of sadness and despair seems to provide tears endlessly.  I look for anything that can help pull me out of this space, and it always seems to be a doomed, or self-defeating proposition.

There is only one door marked 'exit' from this place.  The rest of the time I simply have to hold on, persevere and hope that my mood lifts, tomorrow or the next day, or the next.

Depression is really a bitch.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mid way through

Not my photo.  Alas, I cannot find proper attribution.
Well, mid-way through NaNoWriMo, and I got nothing.

Well, 1,000 words of nothing.  It just hasn't been my month for writing.

I've found myself obsessed with making progress on 'concrete' projects.  So the closets have been built out.  The false ceilings in two of the rooms in the house dropped.  Solid things that I can look at and say, yeah, I did that.

For some reason, at the moment writing doesn't bring me the same feeling of "Look, I have a product" as the chores and the construction work.

It will again. Just have to sit at my job and follow it, ok sometimes prod it with a stick and some caffeine. To be a writer means to write, and sometimes that is easy, and other times it feels like some sisyphean task.  (Ha, blogger, you and your spell-check. Learn your history and mythology.)

So, back to the rock rolling.  I just wanted to make an appearance here to make sure that the cobwebs don't become a permanent installation.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thank you, Joe

Well, it's official. Joe Biden will not be running for the Democratic Party in the upcoming Presidential race.  Thank you, Joe.  That one decision, which some applaud and some are despairing has essentially made the Democratic ticket a two horse race.

I think Joe Biden was a good Vice President. As a President, I'm not so sure. I feel that he has been a great 'get things done' aid for President Obama, but I don't have a feeling for Biden's politics.  Add to that I'm not sure that now is the time for him to make a Presidential bid.  I've heard some people really passionately arguing for him. It's an excitement that I never really shared.  I always thought of  Joe Biden's possibility of running this year as a spoiler for the other two major candidates.

So, I think Biden is better off, biding his time.

I was very surprised, to hear people actively lamenting that Biden wouldn't run this year.  There are some folks out there who honestly think that neither Hillary Clinton, nor Bernie Sanders is electable. I think those people will be very surprised by what happens in November 2016.  The electoral base is shifting.  People of color, immigration in the past fifty years, and youth are going to be the deciding factors in the upcoming election.  Voter turnout, and the attempts to block voting or gerrymander regions is also going to play a role.

Most of those people I have seen bemoaning the Biden refusal are white male moderates, who veer a little to the right of center.  They aren't happy with the GOP, seeing them as highly dysfunctional, but they aren't ready to commit to Hillary Clinton because of her husband's turn in the White House.  Also, perhaps because of some hidden misogyny there. Bernie Sanders, who they often describe as far "too liberal" is also a no go.  For them, socialist is still something of a dirty word. Most of them are also gun owners or people who have small businesses, and are stuck thinking that Democrats equal "taking away their guns" and "giving handouts to the undeserving".  But, I don't think their concern is relative.

Sure I would love a world, fantastic though it would be, where everyone voted for my candidate. But, I know that is not going to happen. There will be moderates who believe that even dysfunctional and divided as the GOP is, that it is the party which will protect their interests better.  And, it might.  However, I think any benefit a moderate might see from the GOP will be mainly from stagnation rather than movement.  Right now the push-me-pull-you of the political right is going in circles.

So my moderate, male, Caucasian friends who love their guns are mourning the lost idea of Biden.  But I think they are working their way into an eddy of the political process.  Hillary or Bernie is going to be the Democratic Presidential candidate.

And I think it likely that there may be a Hillary/Bernie ticket.  Although, I've had people vehemently argue that with me.  It seems that even the Democrats have adopted a bit of the "all or nothing" attitude of the GOP.  All I can say is remember the adage about Politics making strange bedfellows. You know the quote.

Here an uber ticket to the moderate and progressive sides of the spectrum would create one very powerful team.  Can it be done?  I don't know.  But I do know that under such a team, economic reform for the middle class would become much more defined.  We would see progress on social equality and on the repeal of Citizen's United.  We might even see some Wall Street reform and the adjustment of the tax code to address the ballooning wealth of the 1%.  Interesting possibilities all.

Moreover, the momentum is there for social change.  Wall Street has over played it's hand and the middle class is looking up from the "panem et circenses"  to see that their lot has visibly worsened under Republican strategies.  So in the words of Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration:

Going after white “swing” voters [...] is a losing strategy now. The next Democratic candidate for president – whether Hillary or Bernie – can best win by mobilizing and energizing (1) progressives and (2) people of color. Together, they constitute a majority of the electorate. And the best way to mobilize and energize them is to be crystal clear that America must be fundamentally transformed – the economy reorganized so everyone prospers as the economy grows, and democracy altered so everyone’s voice is heard. Such a platform and political movement may cause concern among some white swing voters. But that’s okay. America's emerging Democratic majority doesn’t really need them." 

And that is strangely comforting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Tempest

Today has been consumed by worrying about someone else.

I have done all I can.  My hand is out to help. I have realized that I cannot fix everything. This isn't a scraped knee.  It is life. Full on, hard to be the grown-up, sometimes it sucks beyond comprehension life.  And it's not even my own life.

But, the problem that is being faced, I can relate to. I don't have experience with the direct event that has set things in motion, but the underlying currents are very familiar.  I want to comfort. I want to help.  And, it is not my place to do so, unless I am invited into this crisis.  The other part of me is thankful that I haven't been invited in.  My fear is that I would prove to be inadequate to the task and would only produce another broken person.

"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all."

So. I wait and I hope and I pray. And I am grateful for the help I was given amidst the tempest.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Creeping out onto the springy branch

I've been writing, just not here.  My good, or bad, as you like it.

I have had one piece published over at SisterWivesSpeak.com ,  I Cut *.

It is a very personal piece, and won't be for everyone. I know that.  But, it needed to be said.  I don't know where it will lead, if anywhere.

I have done my part and now I give it up to the void, and see if anything will return to me out of it. It is out of my hands.  And there is a type of peace in that.  It's like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the sea.  Who knows where it will land, or if, it might come back to me.

Egads.  Poetry alert.  (Granted, after the fact.)

I am, I was so far from my zone of comfort when I first saw that article on the web.  But, now, I've  let it go.  I'm hoping it does some benefit for someone.  It certainly is a topic that needs to be dragged into the sunlight more frequently.

I owe my thanks to the ladies at SisterWivesSpeak.com *. They provided a safe place to unpack some very dark baggage.  Thank you.

And a thanks to the readers, and the folks who left comments. Your reception, helped me let go.  Thank you.   And thank you to everyone who passed it on.  Thank you.  Maybe we can help someone else.

I think, I'll keep today brief.  I have a story that needs writing. And so, I shall go sharpen my pen.

*The site is now defunct update on 1/1/2018

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A poetic moment

Fall gently leaves,
Drift and float.
Cover the forest trails
With your colors
And dry cracklings

Monday, October 5, 2015

The rush to judge

If you have read many of my entries you may have sensed a theme to many of them.  I strongly believe that most people are afflicted with emotional thinking and incapable, or simply uninterested, in attempting to exercise rational thought. Furthermore, I believe that the world around us encourages this behaviour*.

One example that I have seen recently seems to capture this phenomenon is the Pope's visit to Kim Davis.

Allow me to elaborate.  On my social media feeds I kept an eye on the Pontif's visit. I have deep personal respect for this man.  As Pope he is trying very hard to remind the Catholic church of it's role.  I also believe that he is doing his very best to recognize places where the Church has fallen short in recent decades.  He doesn't always get things exactly right, as in his recent statements on abortion, but he is trying.  And for the effort he is making to include rather than condemn, I believe he is the best Pope we have had in a long time and that he is an exemplary Christian.

And my social media feed was awash with other folks who were celebrating his visit to the US.  Yes, there was a fair bit of quipping about the state of traffic and the number of port-a-johns for the Papal visit, but, in general, all the noises were positive. Even some of my friends who identify themselves as Athiest or Pagan or Jewish or Muslim were supportive of this visit.  His address to Congress was a high-point for many readers. Quotes that came out of his meetings with House and Senate leaders pointed to the corruption in the American system and the need for reform. He was garnering a lot of liberal non-Catholic cred, just by being the devout man he is.

And then, it was announced that he went to see Kim Davis.

And almost like a light switch I could watch the very people and news sources that had praised him the day before, excoriate him.  There was no moment of reflection, people simply flipped from "love" to "hate" in the blink of an eye.  Or more accurately, in the time it takes to read 140 characters or less.

And the assumptions that were made, some of them were astounding.  Even friends who I can usually count on to examine a situation were leaping onto the social net to proclaim that this action had severely damaged any respect that they had held for the man. It demonstrated to me that even rational heads are capable of  being carried away by emotional thought.

We don't know what happened.  That is the bottom line.

As much as we clamour* for information, as much as we feel we have a right to 'know' what went on we don't know. And, I don't know if I would trust the now professional handlers of Kim Davis to tell the truth.  So we may never know.  And I can live with that.  It was a private conversation.

But I am straying from my point.  People have always been capable of both emotional and rational thought. Today's atmosphere rewards those who yelp the loudest. The substance of rational thought is being replaced by the emotional gratification of 'like', 'favorite', and 'diggs'.  And to garner those token rewards our conversation is becoming ever more superficial and superfluous.

Take a moment to walk back from the instantaneous edge of emotional thought, and instead, think. Because, one thing I have learned is this. It is better to add illumination, than heat.

*(Yes spell check, I know you don't like my 'u'. You think it extraneous, but I have some British blood and you will not impress me to abandon my English 'u' no matter how many little red lines you display. Deal.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Diversity, it is the American way

There are days when I despair.  There are things on the internet that make me want to walk away.  Put it down, and walk away. Because the only way to stay sane against the tide of hate is to head for shore before it pulls you down.

Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station brought one of these little chestnuts to light on FaceBook.  Apparently Patrice Lewis of WND believes that the only solution to the problems facing America is to "divvy up our land mass into 2 nations."  Her piece is titled "WOULD A COUP MAKE THINGS BETTER?" Her caps, not mine.

I'm looking for the satire. Really. "This has to be a joke" is the only thing that keeps scrolling across my mind. The paranoia that runs through this palaver is almost viscous.  As I'm scrolling down to read I have to keep wiping off the insanity that is oozing through the computer screen. (Note: I am wearing proper PPE)

I cannot believe that people actually think this way. How can people be so insane?  Hey, I know insanity and delusions. I have my medication and everything. However, unlike this author I work to stay sane. This person is working very hard to appear unhinged. Usually, you try to hide, or at least curb, the crazy in public spaces.

And I sit, having read through it and I am just amazed. How does someone, anyone, choose to believe such contorted thinking? How does someone accept the idea that the government really cares about what you had for breakfast, or how many times you eat junk? The author even hints that giant surveillance nets to rival those of the Soviet Union under Stalin are at work.  And I'm not going to touch that idea because it would cause a massive tangent.  Moving on.

Then the idea of a coup as a 'cleansing' event is raised. True, it is dismissed pretty quickly, but still.  The only reason it is dismissed is because the end result can't be guaranteed.  And that is what this whole divide and expel exercise is about, control. Ms. Lewis notes that we don't have any wide open spaces for the disaffected to move to any more, "but we can divvy up our land mass into two nations – one progressive, one conservative – where the ideals and agendas of each can be instigated to the satisfaction of two extremely diverse populations."

Diverse populations, that is what America is all about. And being tolerant of that diversity is what America is all about.

This is where I tripped over the truth. It dawned on my "Why?" some folks want to have a 'conservative' nation and get all those 'progressives' out of the way. Think about it and you'll see it's a likely solution.  (You'll notice I do try to stay away from absolutes, in general.)

And I'm probably going to irritate or anger some folks.

It's fear. And it is a pervasive and ugly thing.
   It's fear of being insignificant that makes someone believe that the government is watching.
   It's fear of being 'less than' someone else, that makes people hold onto symbols that are past due.
   It's fear of being 'powerless' that makes people unable to even be able to talk about gun control.
   It's fear of being 'wrong' that makes people cling to a formula that is perceived 'safe'.
   It's fear of being changed that makes people cling to the past.

Fear is why some conservatives back Trump.  A loud windbag unashamed to say the racist, hateful things that people would fear to say out loud. They wouldn't want to risk their place by the water cooler, but they agree with Trump in their hearts.

So, in the world that Ms. Lewis puts forth there would be one state "conceived in libertyand dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," and ...  the other one.  But, she has missed the point, slightly.  There would be one nation where all men were created equal, and there would be one nation where all people were created equal. And the latter is the state that would find liberty and freedom.  The state where the people were unafraid to embrace their differences.

How a Court Case in Kansas Could Pave the Way for 'Buying Justice'

Re-posted from an article written on Sep 09, 2015 on A+

The judicial system of the United States is under attack. The fundamental construct of the government of the United States is being rewritten, in Kansas. For those who need a refresher the government of the United States is based on the premise of equal but separate branches. Three branches make up the government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. This system is in place at both the federal and the state level.
But conservatives in the state of Kansas have been redistributing the power and attempting to dismantle the power of the judicial branch. The assault on the judicial branch started in 2014. As a result of conservative tax cuts set in motion in 2012, and reiterated in 2013, the state revenues had fallen by nearly 25% by 2014. When the Kansas State Supreme Court ordered in March 2014 that the state correct an inequitable dispersal of education funds between rich and poor districts the state didn't have the dosh.
Since then, the legislature in Kansas which is dominated by conservatives, has pressed the idea of giving the governor more power to pick state Supreme Court justices and to make is easier to remove sitting justices at all levels of the judiciary from the bench. Therefore, quite literally, allowing them to stack the judicial deck in their favor. In addition to this, they passed a law that removed the Kansas Supreme Court of its administrative authority over lower courts, and placed a booby trap around that law by including a provision on court funding in case anyone should think to repeal the law. In essence, the legislature wrote the rules for the court, and then to hold the courts to the uneven playing field, the legislature tied the courts budget to it's acceptance of the new rules.
What the legislature forgot is you never play chicken with a judge.
The threat to defund state courts if the courts were not submissive to the legislature's desires has caused a tsunami of indignation through the judicial branch. In response, on September 2nd 2015, a district court struck down the law stripping the state Supreme Court of it's Administrative Authority, thus triggering a freeze of the judicial systems budget. If not for a last minute stay and an agreement by both sides to wait on suspending the judicial budget until the case is heard by the state Supreme Court.
Why does all of this matter to you? 
What we are seeing played out in Kansas is pure political power attempting, and not even in a subtle way, to skew power to the affluent. All of this began from a disparity of resources allocated to the poor. When that disparity was recognized by the court it ordered that the gap be closed. That is when the affluent in the legislature started their attempt to dismantle the judicial branch. In short order the legislation passed a law to hobble the court, seized it's funds and placed a contingent on the funds to prevent future judicial rebellion.
Money is attempting to drive the scales of justice to suit their own agenda. If the precedent of defunding the courts is allowed to stand the doors are open. I don't want to argue an impossibly slippery slope, but the fact that the moneyed and the powerful could tie the courts to behave according to legislated rules, dis-empowers the courts and corrupts the nature of the checks-and-balances system.
From there, the fiction writer in me leaps ahead to gross corruption of the legal system where if a person be worth more than some gross value in wealth they would become immune from prosecution. A system crafted by the rich for the rich. Indeed, let's hope it remains fiction.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reclaiming the American Spirit: Thoughts on what we lost on 9/11

This is a re-post from a piece I wrote on 9/11/2015.

Today is that day.
For me it is a day full of emotion and an ominous mind.
I look out my front window and see almost exactly what I saw on that day years ago, a green field and that same cerulean sky, crystal clear and empty.
"The innocence of a clear September sky." That phrase, which I read in the days after 9/11 has embedded itself in my memory. It is immovable. It is as much a part of this day as the leaves outside my window beginning to turn.
I usually spend this day in silent lamentations for lives lost, innocence lost and for dreams shattered. As a nation we had been innocent of violence brought by others on our own soil for a very long time. The events of that day brought the harsh presence of sharp reality into our conscience. Our dream of innocence was not just ended, it was torn away with such violence that it left us disoriented, gasping, instantly and hyper-awake. We awoke to a new world.
All the formerly perceived insulation that we had from the shadowy 'them' was gone. The shattering left behind a world hardened, turned sharp and jagged. A once forgiving scenery now catches and cuts. The world we suddenly perceived as dangerous.
But, in truth, nothing changed except the loss of our earlier perception. The world for all that we think and fear, is no more dangerous a place than it was.
We had grown so comfortable in our safe isolation that we thought ourselves inviolate. Voices who counseled caution were duly entertained and then dismissed. Much as a parent might try to counsel a teen. Our perception of the world was all the world. We were immortal.
When truth came home, our world fell around us. I think we all died a little that day. Even the hollow cynics who held themselves aloof and whispered "we warned you", even they can point to the place in their chest where a hole now exists.
Time has passed. A monument was erected. The names of the lost are remembered. New towers go up, a symbol of hope, but empty. Perhaps, they are more angry defiance.
We, the greater we, are still lost. What was ripped from us fourteen years ago cannot be restored. But with our innocence we also lost ourselves. Our generosity is buried. Our faith in our neighbor is torn. We, who once lit a lamp for the masses of the world now seek to bar those doors. We talk of walls between us and our neighbors.
A nation that once stood for individuality, equity and unity now huddles in on itself, clutching at anything old and familiar. Trying to make ourselves small and innocent and protected by something bigger than ourselves, so that we can never be hurt again.
We are afraid. We have rarely been a nation afraid and never for so long. Somewhere in the rubble, or lifted in the dust of that day is the American Spirit.
That spirit that says we are different. Each of us comes to this nation with a different story: the Jew; the atheist; the queer; the Christian; the black; the trans; the Muslim; the white; the intellect; the faithful. We are all different and we embrace our neighbor, different as they might be, because we are American.
That spirit founded a nation like no other. A place where there was space for all. A place that looked beyond color and creed to a person's character. Where reason and faith could both flourish. That spirit brought us through two world wars, pandemic and civil strife. It took us to the moon. And we were stronger for it. The spirit created a nation where ingenuity was rewarded and social equity was valued.
We need to find that spirit, that meaning of American again. We crouch in fear so afraid of being hurt again. We allow the government to spy on us, we arm ourselves, we see disagreement as treason. Fear has us on a leash. And we have accepted this, because it restores our illusion of safety.
We need to find that spirit. The one that let us stand up and face the uncertainty of the world. We need to find that spirit that allows us to say "My belief in my fellow Americans is stronger than our differences." For only when we give up our fear, and embrace our brothers and sisters can we move forward out of this oppressive and shadowed place and back into the light of freedom.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Writing in the dark

I'm just playing with things today.  Mostly I'm wrestling with myself.  So far, I'm not winning.  It's one of those epic battles that never seems to resolve itself. And yes Adam, before you ask, it did involve beer, the Underworld and a sword.  

I had a thought today that with our new information-age lives we were becoming increasingly suspicious of one another and increasingly compartmentalized in the comfortable silos that we make for ourselves.  My silo is not what I would call comfortable, but it is familiar and I feel safe, whether that is a true perception or not is a post for another day.  

Back to compartmentalization. I know this isn't an original thought. As a matter of fact, I know that I have had this thought before, and that I have seen other folks write on this topic. 

Today's 'ah-ha' moment related to my own search for success as a writer and anonymity at the same time. I've written before that if you want to make it in the writing game today it seems almost a granted that you will have a web presence, a twitter feed and a facebook page. You'll be reachable, accountable to every single person who may ever read a word that you write. If you want to be found. Otherwise you're kind of writing in the void 

In a way, a very real way, that terrifies me. I perceive the internet as a place that is 80% rational, and the other 20% is just really messed up. It might actually be higher on the messed up percentage. I do tend to travel through some pretty tame areas.  Not that I think anything of mine might ever spark outrage, but you never know. And that, is part of what's killing me. You never know. Until, of course, that moment when you look at said feed or page and the entire world is telling you what a terrible person you are. 

And that leads me into a great many things that I am just not ready to say on the internet. 

What I am willing to say is this, and I've mentioned this before, I have a history of depression. Not "oh I feel blue" depression, but serious, "I wonder if I nicked the artery would the blood hit the ceiling" depression. I'm on meds. have been for years. I've tried to come off once or twice and gone - right back on.  My family is an onion that I am slowly peeling away the layers. And understanding isn't the same thing as forgiveness or healing. I know I have a long way to go some days. 

So how do I balance the wanting to be a *gasp* paid writer, an author, with being seen. I've been anonymous in my own life for so long I've found myself not wanting to play the seemingly required "Game of Tomes"?  (Just had to go for it) One thing I know is I will keep writing, but will I be writing in the dark? 

But, as a small act of courage, this piece will be posted. Will it be seen or merely turn into one of the many flecks of confetti in the void? 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What time is it? When fear rules

Theatre Obraztsov I am a geek. I have let my geek flag fly for decades now. I have been a geek of many colors and a geek of many lands. I have even been a professional geek - think computers, not circus here. And never have I thought of myself as dangerous. I consider myself curious and yes, sometimes that has led to some awkward questions. "Dearest, why is there beeswax melted on the ceiling?" "This isn't pasta. Is it?" "What happened to Bo?"
But never have I felt that my curiosity would lead me into trouble with the law. Ok there was that one little experiment with medieval nitric acid, but it was all cool. Curiosity, the attempt to make something better, to invent a better mousetrap founded this nation. If a bunch of people getting into a tiny boat and crossing the ocean isn't a leap into the unknown I have no idea what is.
Some will say the initial influx of settlers was all about faith, but they're forgetting the Vikings. If there wasn't the willingness to try new things, to experiment, to learn we, that would be the Europeans, wouldn't be here now. And this nation is, or used to be, all about trying something new. New lives. New technologies. New ideas.
And now, in a place where we should be opening those minds, instead there is fear and astounding ignorance. Add to that the backside-covering and the victim blaming, are you kidding me, victim blaming a kid for being curious? This is the product of the school being a monument to standardized testing and group think.
My mind just boggles. Where is common sense? Where is the one responsible adult who stood up and said, "This is insanity?" I could go on about racial profiling, court cases to come, civil liberties and general ignorance. But, I'm not going to go there, today.
What I'm going to close with is this.
Ahmed, today you have seen some of the worst of America and I hope some of the best. You are curious and the world needs curious. And we need courageous people, too. Keep tinkering, keep learning and let that curiosity blossom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Conscientious Objection: Panem et Circenses

I can tell that this is going to be a frequent title for me in this blog.  The reason is because I have this terrible sinking feeling that people don't want to think or consider things any more. The masses, and it's always been about that masses if I'm honest, only want food and entertainment. A Roman observation that still holds true today. 

That certainly explains why Buffalo Wild Wings exists.  It surely isn't for the food.  Moving on.

So why do I equate America's interest in a middle aged white female bigot with the Latin phrase "panem et circenses"?  It's the same thing.  Easy answer.  It's also one of those situations where I want to shake everyone and shout "Wake up!" Because people, Kim Davis is a distraction.  While people are actually spending time debating, or worse defending, her actions real topics aren't being discussed.  

But then, perhaps the shouting matches are all the American populace is capable of these days. I sincerely hope that isn't true.  I hope that my perception of the intellectual level of the American populace is wrong.  I would like to think that more people care about social equity than about some self made media whore's ass. I would like to be proven wrong. 

Until then I suspect it will be business as usual here on the interwebz, bad spelling, worse grammar, herds of cats and all the introspective depth of a puddle.  And folks like me whingeing about it.
So...  enough whining.  Let's do something about it. 

If you want to know something about conscientious objectors, go read about Desmond Doss. There's a great example.  
Desmond Doss

Wikipedia, ok not the greatest resource but it is a start, also houses information about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.  This experiment conducted near the end of WWII involved conscientious objectors who volunteered to be studied to help understand the physiological and psychological changes encountered during starvation, and also to help find sound strategies for helping victims of starvation. (POWs and concentration camp survivors). 

Once upon a time to be a conscientious objector meant that you found a way to help that didn't conflict with your views.  It is not a way to feed the ego. 

This quote from Arthur Ashe sums my point up very well. 

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.— Arthur Ashe(1943 - 1993)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Mostly Lawful

Once, a long time ago, I was out with some friends and we lost the frisbee we were playing with over a fence onto some land marked "Private. Keep out"  Now the sign was new. We had been coming to this spot for nearly three years and liked to play frisbee on the beach and climb over the rocks.  Well, when we lost our toy I blithely sauntered over to get the frisbee.  I returned with it and we kept right on with the game of ultimate.

It wasn't until that evening that one of the guys looked at me and said, "I didn't expect you to go get it." He meant the frisbee.  I asked him why not and he answered. "I always thought of you as Lawful Good."  Ok, yes we were geeks.  I still fly my geek flag proudly.  Ever since then I have cherished my ability to have a bit of a Chaotic streak in my personality.  It keeps me unpredictable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A small rant about a big topic

Yesterday Facebook did something stupid.  No that isn't the rant, although there is a veritable unending supply of stupid from Facebook.  And, to be honest it wasn't Facebooks fault.  

Allow me to start at the beginning.  As you all know, Facebook allows advertising, it pollutes and dilutes our social media streams daily. We do have the ability to edit, or manage as Facebook laughingly calls the "kill this now" x.  And I use my ability to delete ads frequently, very very frequently.  I kill more beauty ads, firm your body part ads, sports ads, and food ads than I can count daily. But, I do make one category inviolate, no matter how much I might be annoyed by them, political ads. 

Why you might ask would I keep the very dross of all the ads on Facebook?  Good question.  I do it so that I can see what the politicians are trying to feed to the masses. What version of tripe is the current scandal du' jour. At times it is painful, torturous reading. And at times, it just pisses me off no end.

Guess which one I saw yesterday?

I have an add on my feed from Secure America Now: which reads:
Does your senator stand with Iran or America? See where he or she stands on the Iran Deal >>>

This is a brilliant example of the binary thinking that is destroying America. Yes, I said destroying. And yes, I mean destroying.

Allow me a small rant in response.  

The efforts to disarm and prevent middle eastern nations from gaining nuclear weapons is decades old. The Iran proposal that is on the table is a continuation of that policy. A policy that has remained consistent across both Democratic and Republican administrations since the 1950s.

Foreign policy, most of life, is not a binary decision. Pretending that any negotiation between nations can be summed up as us=good, them=bad is preposterous. And it is the type of infantile no more sophisticated than a 3-year-old thinking that your oppressors rely on.

THINK. Learn to think.

Now there is a lot more that needs to be said, and people are saying it, about the dumbing down of America.  The more I look, the more I see and I wonder where this love of ignorance, this blind hatred of education, any education, comes from.  It's worth investigating.  It's worth exposing. And, it's worth cutting out like the poisonous cancer it is. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hamlet, revised

"the play 's the thing. 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."  
           ~ Hamlet

Oh, Dear Hamlet. 
The king is dead. Long live the king.
He is transformed into a frail and foolish old man

Who babbles and wanders and dreams

There is no redress from him. 

He sits on your back, carried in a basket
Wrapped in a blanket
You guard him from the wind by long habit. 

He is empty, and you are hollow. 

Gertrude, is lost in a fantasy
Created by others, but maintained by she,
Of crystal, and silk, and brave finery

There is no talking to her. 

She hears only flattery
And sees only reflections of her dream
Pieced together long ago, fraying at the seam

She dances alone, without you child.

Laertes, my brother, 
The son you should have been. 
Lies dead. 

He could have been you, it should have been you.

And I, lost to madness
Poor Ophelia, deluded, abandoned and used. 
There’s rue for you, and some for me. 

The maidens flowers fall from my hair. 

Would that I had lived.  
Warmth in my joints, sparks in my eyes
A copper crown of braided glory.

But I am cold, and drowned. 

I rise again for you, dear Dane, 
From my watery tomb, to speak truth 
To you, the author of all. 

Decided to Play

When it rains it pours. Bother.

Yesterday I heard from two friends about two great writing competitions.  One in DC for plays, one on-line with Gulf Coast.  Both have Aug 31 deadlines, or near enough as makes no difference.  So, I have to make a decision. 

I should warn you, I'm bad at making decisions.  I usually suffer from analysis paralysis. And it can get very silly, or painful, depending on your perspective. 

I took the time and looked at both competitions.  Now I have a buddy who I would love to work with for one of them.  A bit of mutual "So, how's it going over there?"  You know, someone to keep your feet to the proverbial fire. And that is for the prose competition. 

But my heart is screaming for me to finish the play.  And this opportunity will make me sit down and write. Too many things are tumbling over in my head, it's making far too much noise so "the play 's the thing."  

I can't promise this will be "happy, happy, joy, joy" time. Actually, I suspect it will be quite painful for me. I'll be visiting the Greylands again.  Oh, that's one of the ways I refer to my depression.  I'll have to give a tour one day.  Interesting place, if you don't have to reside there. 

I'm going to be pulling up nettles with my bare hands. In a way I'm not looking forward to that, and at the same time, I am.  Strange.  I'm not usually masochistic. The thought that makes the task bearable is that I hope, by pulling those weeds I can somehow remove them permanently. I'm hoping that writing all this down will be like applying some mental weed killer. 

We shall see.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The search for balance

The search for balance is a constant theme in my life.

Emotional balance, coming to peace with my past, finding some way to resolve the illusion of my youth with the reality, fighting the deeply ingrained reactions and overreactions from my early years, is a challenge for me.

Balancing my health is another perpetual concern.  Between endocrine problems and energy issues there is always a fine line between functional and not.  And that delicate balance can be wrecked by the common cold. For example, I'm five weeks out of the gym thanks to a summertime cold right now. That is ending today.  Live or die, I'm crawling back to the gym.

Then there is the inner versus exterior struggle to find balance in my life, in my writing.  How much to say, how much to reveal, how much can I dig up from my past and share without compromising my future.

I'm not alone, I know most people have similar issues, but I'll admit, it's become a central theme for me.  Here's an example, I have an endocrine problem, if I eat too many carbohydrates (simple carbohydrates to be precise) I can count on a hypoglycemic "crash" in about 20 minutes.  So I have to balance when I eat, what I eat and how much I eat, and add to that exercise.  This isn't too different from what anyone with a chronic illness needs to do.  I resent how pervasive it is.  How it crawls into every corner of my life.

But even that isn't as bad as the depression.

Yeup, I'm another tortured writer.  I can imagine the eye rolls.
Well, not that tortured today. Thank goodness.

I've struggled with depression for thirty-five years.  That's pretty remarkable, at least I think so.  Initially I wrote "I lived with depression." but, you don't really live.  Yes, you do all the technical breathing, digesting and metabolizing, but there isn't much 'living'.  Mainly because all the things that register as 'life' are unable to penetrate the depression. When things are very bad everything seems to be rather flat and tasteless.

That is why balance is so important to me. I do find that as my body is healthier, my mind is healthier.  I write primarily to help my own mind find some sort of emotional and mental balance. It is an exercise to keep me functional. And I do try to exercise daily.

Balance: a consistent goal, with variable results.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Missing the Mark on African Trophy Hunting

Have you ever just missed the mark?

I did the other day.  I sat down full of ideas to communicate to the world,  and ended up writing a piece of pap.  It was dull, it added no interest to the conversation, it was off-target and bland.

What I ended up writing was just another piece on killing Cecil the lion.  But that wasn't what I wanted to convey.
I didn't want to just put out another piece that said, "I like lions, he's a jerk to kill one."
I didn't want to just put out another piece that said, "Trophy hunting is wrong."

What I wanted to do, and failed completely, was to look at the why under the headlines.  I wanted to explore the complexities of international law in this situation, and missed.  I wanted to convey the tragedy that many African nations, with histories of unrest, civil strife, religious fighting, and even tribal warfare, not to mention the trifecta of AIDS, famine and civil war, is stuck in a cycle of poverty.  Africa is a complexity, that we comfortable westerners in general, just do not understand.

And that brings me to more of what I wanted to talk about.  How a comfortable American with money to burn can go to Africa and buy the opportunity to kill an endangered species.  Some African nations have realized that one of the ways they can use their natural resources is as a tourism draw.  Mozambique and Botswana have both embraced the concept of natural preservation and eco-tourism.  But this isn't a one size fits all solution.  Very few solutions are in Africa.

So money, still brings in hunters.  And hunters still pay for the 'thrill'.  This brings up another idea I wanted to explore.  What is the 'thrill'?  Is it the chase?  Is it the excitement of outsmarting another critter in its home habitat?  Or is it the actual killing?   Is it the need to see if your testicles have grown a fraction of an inch because you have killed another living thing?

Don't get me wrong.  I am all for hunting for food.  And in my family hunting was a way of life for my father's generation.  Very few seasons went by without dove, or quail, or pheasant, or venison being served.  And I can still ask family and friends for venison when the fancy strikes.  I have no problem with eating game.  But I do have a problem with someone who wants to kill, just for the kill, just to prove to themselves in some twisted way their superiority.

So here's an idea.  If you have to have the chase - why not talk to biologists who need to tag and trace animals?  The hunter gets the chase, the hunter even gets to shoot something, albeit with a tranquilizer and not a bullet.  It has the potential to offer everything to the hunter that is supposed to be important,  except the kill.   And just think about it,  that animal,  lion, leopard, rhino, can be traced, followed and even hunted again with tranquilizers - to check on progress or aid a biologists study.

There.  That's closer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yes, I'm Afraid of Twitter

Twitter scares the ever loving bejeezzus out of me.  And I can't think of a better TED talk than this one to demonstrate why that is so.

When Online Shaming Spirals Out of Control.

And yet, writers seem almost compelled to put up a social media presence.  From my admittedly very early days in this pool, it seems like it is impossible to get a writing job, or published in any forum unless you have that on-line presence.  And for someone who is, well, me... that's just a terrifying concept.  Not because I'm a terrible person, but just because I am a person.  I say stupid things.

Within me there is an almost equal mixture of sage and silly and "oh, my goodness. Please tell me that wasn't the outside voice."

And seriously, the idea that I could somehow, through error or bad timing or just who-knows-what, be the focus of millions of peoples hate is just terrifying.  And some of those people, they just lurk out there and wait for people to screw up.  They are like the crocodiles at the bottom of the cliff.  Bad enough you should fall off a cliff, hit the rocks below, then drown in the river, but now you have crocodiles tearing you literally to pieces.

It seriously makes me think that I shouldn't even touch the Twitterverse.

How much do I want my goal?

Monday, July 27, 2015


I have spent 50 years doing as I have been told, as I have been advised, as seemed best by the masses. It has brought me a living but one washed in doubt, grayness, and despair. No longer. I will write my own story, and if I fail I will do so with my spirit in tact, instead of surviving in dreary mediocrity for someone else's dream.

It's not often I have something burst into my mind fully formed.  But this thought, once tangled up with so many others, broke free from the pack today.  It was a moment where I stopped what I was doing. It was a full stop.  My hands dropped, the sheet drifted to the floor, the dog started from beneath the sheet, and my world tilted, it was that kind of stop.  

As many of you might surmise, I'm trying something very new for myself.  I've finally given myself permission to follow my dream of being a writer.  Win or lose, fly or fail, I am allowed to pursue this for myself.  Not for my family, not for my father, not to fulfill expectations that my brother couldn't shoulder, but to define my self by myself.  

I would love to insert something witty or humorous about being a late bloomer right about now.  But, I'm determined not to look backwards at all the 'wasted' time, because as a writer, I call it fodder.  So here is the thought...  

Gardens use manure to bloom.  
by xedos4 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The best laid plans

Well, that's not what I was planning to do this week.  Ever have one of those weeks where all plans hit reality and go "POOF"?  That was my week.   So the website is still almost a zygote, post two is this note to prove that I have not fallen off the face of the planet, and post three has a draft but not much else. 

But I have found the one theme that I will be talking about for this blog - Here's a clue. 

Photo by by Jeroen van Oostrom

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh Portland, Dildo City, USA.

From @Cody_Perez  #KeepPortlandWeird 
The Huffington Post, UK, reports that Portland power lines are sporting something new today.

Go ahead, take a look.  (Sorry, not meaning to pun there.  Oh, what the Hell.) 

Portland you are one of my favorite towns for "I don't give a fuck" behavior.  (Another pun.  I don't know if I can get through this with a straight face).   But, yes.   Portland.  You are the town of "We do our own thing and if you can't take it, we really don't care."  I love that attitude.   

Parts of New Jersey have that attitude as well, but there it usually involves driving or parking.   But I digress, back to the West Coast.  

Now my question is, who's brain child was this?  One of the many things that we as Americans often put a puritanical straight jacket on is adult sexuality.   Even when things are right, we tend to emphasize the 'what could go wrong'.  It's fun to see someone having a little harmless fun.  Maybe, just maybe it will create a couple of teachable moments.

So today all our little latex hats are off to Portland.  #KeepPortlandWeird