Monday: A Few Things

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, given here, or on FB, or in private messages. Although I’m not a celebrating type, your thoughts and comments are meaningful to me.

  1. Wore one of my favorite shirts yesterday. I bought it the year we moved to Ashland from Half Moon Bay, 2005. Shortly after moving up here in June, we went back down to the SF Bay area to address some issues, do some shopping, and visit with friends. We stopped in at an odd sale, where a convenience store on Middlefield had been converted to a sale of overstocked items. That’s where I found this shirt. It was bought on a hot day in July, 2005. As one of my favorites, I’ve been photographed in it at work and parties. I’m wearing it in this photo in 2010 with my little sister and her youngest daughter. I’m the one with the facial hair. I know, you can barely see the shirt.
  2. It’s always odd to me that Lee Greenwood lets Donald Trump use Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”, at his events. The song has lines that refers to being free and the men who died for that right . Trump has denigrated many military members, past and present, in his speeches and remarks. He holds the statues of the Confederate States of America, which was a nation formed from states who broke away from the United States. After they broke away, they attacked the U.S.A., starting a war in which they killed many Americans. If that doesn’t say enemy and traitor, what does? Beyond that, the C.S.A was fighting a war to keep people enslaved. All of that is the antithesis of what Greenwood’s song is purported to be about. Yeah, makes me wonder. Yeah, me makes me sad and cynical, too.
  3. Ashland, the little town that I’ve staked out as home, cancelled July 4th fireworks and celebrations cause, COVID, masking, and social distancing. A few fireworks went off but I’m pleased that the town mostly observed it, making it the quietest July 4th in my memory. Meanwhile, we visited with friends in their gazebo, six feet apart and masked, except to eat cupcakes (still six feet apart or more) and consume root beer floats. We noted, though, two of the masks being used by others had valves. I thought they — the health experts — do not recommend masks with vales. One of the participants wore their mask above their mouth and another wore their mask below their nose. I didn’t call them out, the be respectful, but I stayed back, and we were outside. Made me sigh, though; why wear the mask if you’re not going to do it right?
  4. I’d welcomed July as a positive move, posting to friends, hey, don’t fear July just because the year has been a bit sucky so far this year. This might be the month it all begins turning around. Well, it was like 2020 said, hold my beer, as the next day, I read an article about the Chinese being worried about bubonic plague cases. A resurgence of the black death is all that we need, given how many in the U.S. dismiss the threat of COVID-19 as just another flu, a hoax or conspiracy, refusing to take precautions against the novel coronavirus. God knows what they’ll do if the black plague begins spreading.
  5. We watched Avengers: Endgame last night. Yeah, all three hours of it. Looonnnggg film. One, good thing we watched it at home, where we could pause it and take bio breaks, and where we could also google info. We were constantly wondering, “Okay, who is that character?” They brought them all back, and we’re not deeply invested in the MCU. After all the hype and reviews, I expected something better. Yes, I know, my cynicism (or my age) is showing. Some of the acting appearances were fun and surprising, but I liked Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther much better. To each, right?

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more day.

Sunday’s Theme Music

So…

Contrary to world expectations, I’ve been, um, feeling good? How else can it be put, but I’ve been experiencing a rising sense of hope and optimism. It permeates everything I’m doing and thinking.

Rationally, I can’t account for it. I can say that I’m less stressed because I’m not out there socializing and fighting traffic. I can attribute it to kind weather gods; May, June, and July have been pleasantly mild for the most part, keeping anxieties about wildfires and smoke tamped.

But then there’s COVID-19 and what it’s doing to the world. And there was the death of a sweet, shy cousin, too young, just fifty-one, dead from cancer, leaving two sons behind, succumbing to the disease after a four year struggle. In my mind, she remains bright-eyed and smiling with an impish impulse.

And there was Dad, being rushed to the hospital mid-week, Dad who is rarely sick but has a full metal jacket of stents (installed a few years ago) and moderate CPOD. He is almost eighty-eight, though, so there’s always expectations and worries. We are talking about the life train. It always pulls in at the same final stop.

Writing, though, has been a wonderful escape, of course, taking me on an unexpected ride as the characters evolve and the story goes in directions that I didn’t expect. That’s always a pleasure, innit? A good writing day can propel you over many obstacles.

So…

Feeling good. Optimistic, hopeful, even joyous.

Against this backdrop, I’m hearing “Bell Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton (1971). Two aspects of the song stay on a loop in my head: “I don’t want to fade away,” and “I don’t want to lose this feeling.”

No, I don’t want to lose this feeling. It’s too good. I wish I could package it and share for free with everyone in the world. Others should know these sensations. They’re powerful stimulants.

Enough of my babbling. Here’s the music, a later live acoustic version that I think does more justice to the song.

Saturday: Four Things

There has to be four things today because it’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S., right? 

  1. Best fourth of July celebration for me is the first one with my wife. She wasn’t my wife or girlfriend yet. I was fifteen and she was fourteen, and she was just a girl I’d just met a few days before. Yep, just a smart, long-haired girl who captured my attention from the first time I saw her. Fortunately, I had the same impact on her, she claims. Guess it was fate.
  2. I subscribe to the Hulu service with commercial breaks. I don’t like spending money on streaming services. They’re an indulgence, so I try to minimize the cost. I’m watching two shows on Hulu, “Cardinal” and “Justified” (again), so I don’t think it’s worth paying more for it. They’re like an awkward, gamboling puppy with their commercial breaks, erupting in odd points in a scene (butchering the tension or mood). They usually show two or three commercials, and they usually cut off , and then cutting off the last twelve seconds of the final commercial. If I was that advertiser, I’d be demanding better service. My cynical aspect (which occupies about ninety percent of my mind) suggest Hulu does their breaks deliberately to motivate me to pay a few more dollars a month to avoid commercial breaks.
  3. Watched Hamilton on Disney Plus last night. Had the captions on, and it’s a good thing. It’s a continuous flow of life, song, revelations, and relationships, and worth every damn piece of praise that I’ve read or heard. I recommend it to you so you can witness for yourself.
  4. Gonna be a mellow day in spirit. I’m going for a walk in a little while…after I write. A pair of jets did a flyby to mark the moment when the parade would’ve begun but there are no parades in town, although our friend and state rep did a singleton parade. Pam Marsh wears the Statue of Liberty outfit every year, has for years. The mask is new…so is the Black Lives Matter sign…and the coronavirus on a chain… We’ve watched the town parade from her front year for the past ten years. It’s a potluck where everyone attending brings a food or drink. We’ll miss the parade but Pam is carrying the torch for it (yeah, get it?). We’re fortunate to have such an intelligent, energetic, and concerned person as our friend and rep. Did I mention her sense of humor?Pam July 4

Yeah, got my coffee. Yes, it’s a holiday, and it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time…

Thursday: A Few Things

  1. Still walking. Sounds like I’m bragging, right? I’m talking about exercising. My progress goes up and down. My 28-day average is just 7.51 miles (sixteen thousand plus steps), with my best being last Thursday, ten and quarter miles. I try to get in more, but stuff. I’m in a heavily hilled area. Examining results with where I walk is interesting. My flights will increase to fifty to sixty a day, and my activity level will increase, but my miles decline. That’s because the steep hills really slow me down. Coming down is less of a physical exertion, but requires a lot from my legs to keep from just pitching forward. Great views, though, and getting the exercise outside is worth it.
  2. COVID-19. We have people who shunned masking, attending rallies (see Herman Cain and Tulsa), church, and parties, who are now testing positive and being hospitalized. Some, like Cain, had underlying conditions. Cain is seventy-four, and I guess he’s okay with getting sick, possibly going through what others have endured, and dying, but what about spreading it to others, and putting them through it? Yeah, nobody say this coming.
  3. COVID-19 Redux. Other crazy reports have one, teenagers trying to deliberately contract COVID-19. Let’s play a game and see who can get infected. (Alabama Teens Are Throwing Coronavirus Parties with Cash Rewards for the First to Get Infected.) Oh, the young… Proves that life can be stranger than fiction. Beyond that, some people who are testing positive are refusing to help with tracing. (Party Guests Wouldnt Talk After 9 Tested Positive.) Hit with subpeonas and facing fines of $2000 a day for not helping, they caved. Florida setting new records for their state with ten thousand cases in one day, a one hundred sixty-eight percent rise. Of course, commentators are blaming the protests or riots, and Gov. DeSantis has vowed that Florida wills stay open. Paul Krugman has an interesting threads based on Opentable reservations for Texas, Florida, and Georgia. After reservations rose with re-opening, reservations began declining as positive cases surged. Here in Oregon, cases are rising. Gov. Brown has declared masks mandatory inside businesses, but several sheriffs have declared her policy unconstitutional and have refused to enforce it. I always thought it was up to the courts to decide constitutionally, not the sheriffs, but they know better. Even Oregon State Police aren’t even masking as they enter businessesTo quote one officer who wasn’t wearing a mask, “Fuck Kate Brown.” That’s protecting and serving for ya. Shows why trust and support for police keeps declining; they’re deciding what laws they’ll obey and enforce, and mocking what they don’t like.
  4. I’m not good at celebrating. My sixty-fourth birthday is this week. As with every year, my wife asked me what I want to do to celebrate. I don’t have an answer. Parties don’t generally entice me. Socializing in general doesn’t entice me. She knows these things about me. I feel pressured to ‘do something’ to celebrate to mollify her.
  5. Still painting walls. We have high ceilings in the dining-living-kitchen combo. Three hard to reach corners where the walls and ceiling met. I’ve bought an extender that telescopes out to twelve feet. I have an edger, brush, and roller that can be attached. Control, though, is challenging, and a bit comical, and a strain on the neck, squinting up there at the wall from twelve feet away. Refreshing the paint on them is also an interesting process.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Monday – Three Things

  1. $.49. That was our electric bill for last month (May, 2020, for the calendar impaired): forty-nine cents. To break it down, we used $14.99 worth of electricity, and we were paid $14.50 for our solar panel energy. The rest of the bill wasn’t as good. Twenty-six and change for water. We had a wet June this year, so our water use was about half of what it was for the same time last year, even though we planted a garden this year and skipped it last year. Our utilities (gas is on separate bill), then, were about twenty-seven dollars. The one hundred dollar monthly bill’s remainder, about seventy-two dollars, were taxes and fees. Yeah, it’s a regular rant; I can’t save much on my monthly city bill because most of it is taxes and fees.
  2. WordPress Editor. I’ve returned to the ‘classic’ WP editor. Didn’t like the new stuff. Found it intrusive, counter-intuitive, and irritating. It was a change I didn’t want. And that’s okay, as I went back to the old way. No one’s rights or safety was threatened by my move back to how it was.
  3. I can’t keep up. My muses tell me the story too fast for my mind, and waaayyy too fast for my fingers. They don’t tell it in order and they’re always filling in the gaps. I get excited by what they’re telling me and their implications, and jump up to pace off my excitement. It’s a fun road that I follow, that struggle to write.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Sunday’s Theme Music

It’s a classic line: “Why don’t they do what they say, say what they mean?”

First, you have the POTUS backing the CDC, declaring people are supposed to wear masks (and his staff visiting with him are often required to wear masks, and have their temps taken every day), but then declares that he’s not wearing them. Mike Pence, one of the limpest Veeps in history, has been pilloried for not wearing masks when everyone else was wearing one, when told he should be wearing one, etc, while visiting places and making stops.

“Do what they say.”

Video revealings have people saying what they mean, turning on Blacks and other POC, screaming at them, “Go back where you came from, you don’t belong here,” calling them thugs, criminals, monkeys, and generally using the vilest language and deepest levels of hate that they can muster. When their words spread across the net (because we’re in the net age) and they’re ostracized and fired from jobs, they claim that’s not what they meant (they were just angry, afraid, blacked out, etc.). But it’s pretty clear that they mean what they say.

“One thing leads to another.”

And we certainly have seen that in evidence, haven’t we? Folks attend church, sporting events, bars, parties. Social distancing is shunned, masks are mocked, ridiculous claims are made (our air-conditioning filters will save you)…a few days later, people are in isolation, testing rona positive, and heading for hospitals.

Yet, we still have so many claiming that one thing doesn’t lead to another. They’re above the experts. Or, doesn’t matter. Business and the economy — making money — are more important. So the cases keep rising, and the deaths keep rising…

One thing leads to another.

Here’s the song by the Fixx, “One Thing Leads to Another”, from 1984.

Questioning Dreams

The two remembered dream segments from last night were questioning what was going on and what was happening next. None addressed the current news or anything, but used metaphors to express my concerns.

In the first dream exploration, I was at a start-up company. The dream featured many of the people associated with the first start-up employing me after I retired from the U.S. Air Force. A big event was happening, but it had flopped and fizzled. I was concerned; what was going to happen next? I wanted to know. I knew there’d been a plan in place, but it depended on some milestones, and weren’t due to happen for another twelve to eighteen months. What was going to happen in the meantime until then?

I kept asking people. My question confused most others but two friends said, “Here, play him the tape.” They took me into an office and played me a recording off an old-fashioned answering machine with a cassette tape. I listened but couldn’t understand any of it because it was in another language.

I told them that I didn’t understand. A woman came in to stop me from hearing the tape. One friend told the other, “Turn on the translator and play it.” The friend turned on the translator but the woman hurried me out, telling my friends, “He’s not supposed to hear that.”

So something is up, I thought. There’s a plan, but I don’t know it. I wanted to know it, and felt frustrated.

Another distraction struck in the form of the next door business. They’d closed for good. I was sorry that it’d happened. The doors were open and people were inside cleaning it out.

I went in to check it out. Bins overflowed with grain, nuts, and kibble. I said something to the effect the place needed to be cleaned up. The men told me, “Yes, that’s what we’re doing.” I asked if I could help. That amused them. “Go ahead.”

I shoveled loads of stuff into a large, wheeled silver bin. When it was full, I wheeled it out the door and parked it, setting the brake.

A young white woman happened along. A bubbly person, she wanted to know what was going on, peppering me with questions but not waiting for any answers. As I turned to return inside the store, I saw her moving my silver bin. “Careful,” I warned her.

We were on a hill. I told her, “Set the brake.” She went to do that but then turned around and started talking to other people. The bin started rolling down the hill. I shouted, “Look out.” Before I could move, it went completely down the hill and off the cliff.

I was shocked. I knew people were down below. I figured they were injured.

The woman turned around. “Where’d the bin go?”

“Down over the edge,” I replied.

She ran down to look. I followed. When we got down there, it was still going through the air. I was surprised that it hadn’t landed. It looked like it was going to hit people but landed in an empty space.

Shrugging, she walked away. “I guess everything is okay.”

The dreams ended.

Are You Outraged?

Someone else wrote a blog titled, “Are You Outraged?” And I thought, am I outraged?

Let’s see. I was born in 1956, eleven years after WW II, but while the conflict in Korea was happening, and as the U.S. was getting drawn into Vietnam.

The Cold War was going strong. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. were ready to launch nukes and drop nukes at the slightest provocation.

1960 began strong, with John F. Kennedy getting elected. He promised to put a man on the moon. Meanwhile, protests and riots began. The 1960s were full of blood and smoke. Kennedy was assassinated; so was his brother. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Many blacks were lynched and murdered. Battles were fought over segregation, “Separate but equal”, and desegregation.

As races fought for equality, so did women, but the Equal Rights Amendment stalled.

The arms race sucked up resources and attention. Korean and Vietnam were ‘ended’ as conflicts, but more conflicts sprang up. War has not ceased in my lifetime, despite the fall of the U.S.S.R. Instead, it’s intensified.

As has the battle for equal rights and the ideal that skin color, sexual orientation, religious preferences, and genders should not matter, that we, as a nation, are only as strong as the weakest among us, so we must protect them.

The battle for the environment has intensified, too, and with it, the understanding that this is one world, and once again, in order to survive, we must survive together, and protect our planet, or we may all suffer, and many of us will perish, bringing our civilization to our knees.

These seem like self-evident truths, but instead, another war has arisen, this one about what constitutes truths, facts, science, and evidence. The way that numbers and words are spun to create division and distraction spins my head.

Am I outraged? Fucking yes. After a lifetime of this, I thought we’d be further advanced. But as I watch the police brutality and government response to the murders and protests, echoes of history reverberate. I’m reminded of the tanks in Hungary in 1956 as the Soviet Union crushed an uprising.

I’m reminded of the Watts riots.

I’m reminded of Tienanmen Square in 1989.

I’m reminded of the Berlin Wall.

I’m reminded of Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, and Detroit, Michigan.

I’m reminded of the American Civil War.

I’m reminded of the rise of Solidarity in Poland.

I’m reminded of Ferguson.

I’m reminded of the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

I’m reminded of Kent State in 1970.

I’m reminded of countless sit-ins and marches against war and for peace, against injustice and for equality.

I’m reminded of so many events that I’ve seen and read of in the narrow focus of my short life, and I’m reminded of so many who live in fear and suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect.

Am I outraged?

I watch the news, play the viral videos, and read the articles this week and wonder why so many fight against others’ equality. I wonder how so many can be so cruel to fellow humans. The outright cruelty and disregard demonstrated as police officers spray, beat, shoot, and mistreat their fellow citizens, their fellow humans, horrifies me.

Am I outraged?

I am sickened. I am saddened. I am furious.

Yes, I am outraged.

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