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Category: Serious

Strictly serious.

Air Travel and Trump Humanity

Our twitter in chief could use a little humanity. I think he has been hanging out in all the wrong places.

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 From the archives published in 2011.
 
 Our driver to the airport was of Middle Eastern descent.

 He was a lovely man, so much so we asked him to pick us up on our return. Air travel changed forever due to the actions of people who shared his ethnicity. I found it ironic that ten years later, we are cruising along in the predawn hours in his sedan stress free.

 He quoted “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”, Psalms 118:24. While I agree with the concept, my under-caffeinated body wasn’t quite ready to grasp the sentiment. We arrived at the airport on time and hassle free.

 The screening process is jarring at dark thirty a.m. but  I am grateful for the safety precautions. By now I know the drill and I have prepared my bags to go through the screener.
 
I don’t mind standing under the body scanner, but touching the cold, dirty floor with my bare feet is the worst part of the process. I hate that! Placing shoes back on feet that touched indeterminate grunge, is unthinkable, but I do it.
 
Airlines have nickel and dimed the traveling public to the point it is akin to gouging. The number of people taking carry on luggage is a testament to that fact. The plane is making the trip anyway, why can’t they permit one free checked bag?
 
You can always count on some doofus attempting to jam a bulging bag in the overhead compartment. They are oblivious to the minions waiting.
On the return leg of our trip, the pilot announces a brief delay while the plane is being de-iced.
I am relieved to know we will be flying ice free.
 
Thirty minutes he announces we are de-iced but may have to return to the terminal to get gas. Doesn’t he know for sure? I do not want to be 30,000 feet altitude and run out of gas. Ten minutes later, the pilot announces we are taking off. But wait…. we are not at the terminal; what happened to more gas?
 
My spouse assures me we wouldn’t take off if we were running low on gas. What does he know? He runs on the fumes all the time. It is a major male failing.
We arrive home ice free without running out of gas.
The first person we see, as we enter our gate is our driver, smiling and waiting for us. Psalms 118.24 seemed appropriate once again.
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The Blue Jay

We have a blue jay who has trained me to bring him food. He shows up in the morning for breakfast and again in the afternoon for tea.

This might not be so unusual, except we live in the inner city area of Dallas. The blue jays have adapted and permit us to live here.

Each morning, the second I flip on the coffee pot, he chirps until I go out and put seed in the feeder. We are not supposed to feed the birds, sayeth the homeowner association. I rationalize the birds make less of a mess than the two hundred pound dogs that live here. My neighbor and I worked out a “don’t ask, don’t tell arrangement.”

The blue jay is the self-appointed leader and determines the pecking order of the other diners.

After he finishes eating, the cardinals appear. The house sparrows are not intimidated by the cardinal and swoop in formation for their place at the table.

The cardinal stands his ground and fights off the sparrows. His mate hovers on the ground waiting for him to finish. Seed parity is for the birds and the males rule. After he has eaten, she gets the leftovers.

The morning dove ignores the entire pack and coos as she paces on the ground picking up bits and pieces of seeds. She reminds me of Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind.

Ted Cruz, the resident squirrel, does not care for the new variety of seeds and is absent for the most part. Perhaps his alter ego in congress will do the same.

The blue jay is the leader of our feathered kingdom. He sounds the alarm when the feeder reaches an unacceptable level. The other day when I returned from errands, I heard him squawk as I got out of the car. He was waiting for me on the patio beside his empty dish.

The blue jay knows how to get results—–fast. Maybe we should send him to congress.

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The 2016 Election And the Apprentice In Chief

Did reality television influence the 2016 election?

In 2004, “The Apprentice” aired. Would anyone have known Donald Trump without reality TV? Trump’s star power netted him free media coverage, forcing competitors to scrounge for dollars to compete.

Reality television has become an ingrained part of American culture that began with the first reality program airing in 1973, An American Family. With the advent and growth of the internet, reality tv morphed into a predictable if not a credible source of information.

Some of its creators describe reality television programming as “enhanced reality.” The danger with “enhanced reality” is that it is possible for these shows to promote a false sense of reality in American society.  “Audiences don’t want to watch fake, scripted events. People want to watch reality–it’s what captivates us.”

Whose reality is it anyway? These programs have longevity and huge, loyal audiences. The use of enhanced reality has the potential to slant or tilt information to achieve the program creator’s goals. Much of the programming does not meet the criteria of the lowest level of soap opera standards. It’s a documentary on crack; neither art or information.

If television is reflective of the current mentality of our culture, we should not be surprised about the officials we elect to represent us. This leads to a larger concern about electing unqualified people because of public familiarity with the candidates.

I feel like the main character in the 1998 movie, The Truman Show. His existence was a reality television program. He wised up and escaped.

I keep hoping I will wake up one morning and discover the 2016 election was a bad reality television program; it’s all a hoax.

Otherwise, looks like we are stuck with an apprentice in chief for the next four years.

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Thanksgiving and Diversity

Attitudes surrounding the recent election make me aware of how fortunate I am.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, my thoughts turned to the colorful diversity of my childhood.

During the 1940’s  the railroad brought   business owners of different cultures to our east Texas town .

A shopping trip to the town square with my grandmother was a treat. Shops owned by Jewish merchants offered all kinds of merchandise. They sold the cotton stockings my grandmother wore every day and the silk stockings she saved for  Sundays. While grandmother shopped, I sat on a stool and stuffed myself with the peanut butter logs offered by the shopkeeper. It was magic.

Our German pediatrician frightened me, intimidated my parents, but made house calls. He over-ruled some pretty awful home remedies and usually had candy in his bag.

One of my first grade classmates was Greek. I never thought about her ancestry, she was just “Helen” to me. Her parents owned the hotel next to the railroad terminal. A visit to her home revealed a large extended family, including her grandmother who hugged us both until we couldn’t breathe.

We purchased our groceries from a Lebanese family. Three generations of them worked in the store. My mother refused to serve meat that was not purchased from them. They always sent food when there was a death in our family and we sent flowers when there was a death in theirs. They were our friends.

The owner of the shoe store was Jewish. Had it not been for his  intervention, I would have been destined to wear the awful Jumping Jack shoes until puberty. Thanks to him, I graduated to Mary Janes.

We purchased my clothes from a Syrian owned store. The mother was the leader of my campfire group. Their daughter was my friend and partner in crime at our sleepovers. We were experts at toilet papering lawns. It was my good fortune that my mother trusted their judgment enough to let me shop on my own in their store.

Now I look back with gratitude at how much richer my life was because of these people.

I am thankful they were part of my life, an experience that in today’s political climate may no longer be possible.

 

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The National Anthem

I’m not a sports fan; not going there, but the  flap over the national anthem and the sports figures brought up an interesting thought.

The “Star Spangled Banner” is almost impossible to sing.

If you are not Adele, forget about singing it where anyone can hear you. Most of the time it crescendos into an annoying screech.

The theme of the song is war. Maybe that’s why it’s played at sporting events to pump up the players.

We have enough of a battle just surviving our freeways. “And the Rockets red glare, the bombs blasting in air” race across the evening news daily reporting war somewhere in the world.

Maybe it’s time to find a different song; one that gets to the heart of what America really is.

How about “America the Beautiful” as our national anthem?

It speaks to what the majority of Americans are. I’m not alone. Lynn Sherr wrote a book about Katharine Lee Bates who wrote the poem which became the song. A beautiful peaceful anthem reminds us of how fortunate we are.

Some probably will object to the use of a deity in the song. But,  I’ll choose a deity over a bomb any day.

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The Legacy of Voice

I remember how he looked, but I hadn’t given much thought to how he sounded.

Hearing an old song set off the memory of my dad’s voice singing, “I don’t want to walk without you.”

I thought about others to see if I could recall how they sounded.

Mother was rarely at a loss for words. Her voice is the one I hear most often; sometimes angry, sometimes laughing, but never forgotten.  (I’ve since  discovered, that Mothers occupy a cool spot in Hell while Fathers automatically receive ” a get out of jail free” pass.)

The voice I hear  from her is, “I guess they did the best they knew how to do.” At the time, I wanted sympathy for some  slight I suffered. Funny thing is, this rationale never seemed to present itself at the scene of some of my petty crimes.

Perhaps I still require a reminder.

In her quiet southern voice, my grandmother told me, “You’ll never do that again will you dahlin”, when hearing about my misbehavior of the day/week, depending on my level of activity. Those few words shamed me into good behavior– for a while. She was the majority of one, who believed I was perfect.

I was eight and our neighbor Maggie was my dearest friend in the entire world.  Her mother had been a slave and Maggie a domestic until she was too old to work. Her deep-throated laughter as I read aloud letters to her from her daughter made me giggle.

What a gift to be the beneficiary of these voices from my past.

At the same time, I am trying to be mindful of the legacy of my voice.

Whatever it is, I hope someone remembers the caveat, “I guess she did the best she knew how to do.”

 

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Everyday People

From the archives, Apr 24, 2013.

Seems appropriate for this week.

2013 arrived with nonstop devastation. We hardly recover from one horrific event, until another presents itself. The past week inflicted more sadness and terror than anyone should have to bear, yet everyday people endured.

Everyday people prove over and over  that we are resilient. In the face of tragedy, we manage to find strength and courage. We rise to the occasion and meet whatever challenges we face. We persevere.

The past week’s events reminded us of the everyday people who choose to become firefighters and law enforcement agents. A commitment to perform the job the public has entrusted them to do does not permit them to compromise the well-being of those they serve.

This past week congress chose to ignore the wishes of everyday people and defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.

Everyday people elect representatives with the belief they will deliver what they promise. We trust them to reflect our values. In short, we expect them to create laws that benefit most of the people, most of the time. We expect them to compromise when necessary for the greater good. We expect them to adhere to the same standards and moral code of everyday people.

Everyday people deserve better.

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Finding Blessings

blessingsThe dictionary defines a blessing as “a gift that is received at the right moment.” As a lifelong  pragmatist, I have a tendency to refer to this condition as head up a dark place.

My friend Lillith and I have enough in common to be compatible, but different enough to be interesting.

She earned her law degree, passed the bar but wasn’t comfortable with the way the legal system works. She disliked most judges, probably because she’s smarter than the majority of them, so she changed her career path.

Lillith is my Woodstock hippie pal and discovered way before it was “in” to follow her passion. She is a walking contradiction, a practical problem-solving genie and a sponge for snake oil pitchmen.

Lillith can be annoyingly positive. When I find myself in an unpleasant situation, I want empathy. Lilith takes a different approach. She says these situations are blessings…opportunities for personal growth.

Me: “My least favorite house guest is arriving uninvited for an extended visit.”

Lillith: “It’s a blessing; an opportunity to spend time at the movies.”

Me: Sniveling over a failed opportunity.

Lillith: “It’s a blessing. When things don’t work out, it is the loving hand of the almighty gently steering me away from some SOB who I would murder. It is God seeing to it that I am not found sitting on the bench outside the Grand Jury room, waiting.”

Me: “_______ (family member) did not read my book.”

Lillith: “Most blessings have to do with Family.  Remember that blood really is only seventeen percent thicker than water. I learned that in an 8th grade Science class filmstrip. I remember hearing that bit of scientific information and thinking there is a fact I can USE.”

Sometimes I receive a correction from Lillith on how to deliver the obvious with more class:

Me: “I can’t afford to (whatever).”

Lillith: “It’s not how I choose to allocate my resources.”

I called Lillith and asked her to identify a blessing regarding today’s current political climate.

She hung up on me.

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Senior Citizen Refuses Job Offer

From the archives:

Williams, JoAnn Beaches Leader, Atlantic Beach, Fl.9 Nov 2007 print

I was excited about the company and interview. They had an inordinate amount of turnover and were seeking stability, but what appeared unto them was a SENIOR CITIZEN.

job applicant
job applicant

“I want to thank you for the interview and the subsequent offer of employment. However, I feel I must decline the offer. You indicated that one of your  managers felt hiring a senior citizen would be an advantage to your company as I would not be bored.

I assume she theorized it would take longer for me to complete tasks and, therefore, I would be a more focused employee.

I am guessing you felt it would take me most of the day to shuffle to my computer, figure out how it operates, then it would be time for lunch and if I managed to remain upright and awake, I would only have to be productive four hours of each day.

This would explain the salary range as it  is based on about four hours of compensation for eight hours of production. I would have preferred to be considered an asset because of my skills and abilities.

Should I have been relieved that I found an employer who felt, because of my  age, I would be grateful to have a job? This is not unlike kissing the ugly girl at the party because she will be  grateful.”

A good forty years after the bra burners of my younger days told us we could do anything, I was  naive enough to believe skills and abilities will take precedence over a youthful bod.

My 90-year-old father bristled at being offered a Senior Citizen Reward. He refused any discounts associated with that category of consumer. At the time, his offspring thought it was humorous  for him to take such a stand.He was correct to be offended. Who in his right mind would ever be proud of the catchphrase “Senior Citizen”?

Exactly what group of people does it define?

What kind of a mental picture does the term evoke?

I don’t know how other mature people feel about the term, but I’m ready for a new definition.

The  firm went out of business six months later.

 

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Postscript: Nine years later and I still can’t stand the designation senior citizen.


 

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First Impressions

First Impressions  first  published in 2010. Here it is again:

How many times have you met someone, and for some inexplicable reason, felt they were devious and untrustworthy? You didn’t want to be unfair, so you tell your inner voice that warns “watch out” to dummy up.

You look for reasons to justify questionable behavior in someone who would never reciprocate on your behalf if the tables were turned.

In the interest of being fair, you overlook incidents along the way, but most are subtle. The perp knows this, and if you say anything, it appears you are unfair.

This has happened to me often enough that I trust my first reactions are usually right on target. I don’t believe I have suffered permanent damage by not going with my first instinct.

Why upset the apple cart of a passive/aggressive? Let ’em have their fun.

Now the question is, knowing this about myself, would I change my behavior when I get a bad feeling about someone? I think not. I believe I’ve learned not to invest emotionally in these types.

Some say life isn’t fair, but I believe life is fair, and sooner or later karma is a force to be reckoned with.

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Carly Fiorina’s endorsement of Ted Cruz confirmed my first impression of her.

 

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