goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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My Real Job

I graduated from Rutgers College in 1976 and was already working for the Tennessee Supreme Court’s office of administration. They had started a judicial PLANNING office and since I had a degree in urban PLANNING, it made sense to them. I was happy for the job and my kids are now amused that my starting salary was $6,000.  That’s a year, not a month.

Tennessee-SealI enjoyed the work for the Supreme Court.  I did lots of tasks that often fall to the newest/youngest on staff but finally one piece of my education was useful and I got to be in charge of a project!  I had taken a year of computer programming in high school. I had managed to talk my dad out of the more typical college prep physics class for this newfangled concept. We learned a Fortran language and used the computer across town at the university since the high school only had a card sorter. This fantastic skill was useful to the Supreme Court because it was miles ahead of everyone else on staff and we were implementing a new court information system that was going to use key punch cards. It is pretty funny now.  But I loved it, other than not fully knowing all the court related vocabulary I needed, because I got to travel to all 95 counties in Tennessee and let me tell you, that is one beautiful state.

But a few years into that work experience I realized I was getting further and further from my education and applied for and won a job at an engineering and planning consulting firm. That one also included travel. Some to places like Little Rock, Arkansas and Bossier City, Louisiana, but I also got to spend a winter in Miami and then six months in Europe. Not bad. However, I got laid off when Reagan because President and cut funding for environmental issues as part of his economic program. I will not make a political statement here but it is tempting.ronald-reagan-24-11-82

The next few years during that recession were difficult. Planners with a masters degree could not get work so I switched gears and started in real estate. I sold houses for a few months and did okay but I never loved it. My broker suggested I start an appraisal division for him, and within two years I bought out his interest and had 12 people working for me in the booming real estate market of the 1980s.

AppraisalReportsI loved that job..half in the office writing the reports and half out and about in the beautiful northern part of Connecticut. I learned quickly that the emotional appeal many people feel about their house could be achieved in many properties for me. I also learned that many people react to the way things LOOK, not the way things ARE and pretty finishing hides a lot of shoddy workmanship.  Loved what I did. And it was in the mid 1980s that I deeply learned that THAT was NOT my true job.

My REAL job was to raise my tiny children to be healthy functioning adults.  At that time it was a challenge because my husband was a troubled person. I’ll keep it simple and just say he blamed me for red lights and the rain. I did not buy it, and the time came when I told him, for the sake of the kids, we MUST live apart. He filed for a divorce soon after. Fine.

I have always been a nice person. (There are a few that would argue about that, including him, but all those people have, like he does, a perverted view of reality and the responsibility they have for their life choices.) I listened to the question one counselor posed, “Is it important for your children to know their father?” and decided it was. And that, my friends, was probably where I should not have been so nice. But I am who I am.   So we had numerous wrestling matches over the years and now, we have some major fallout.

I wrote a blog a couple of months ago when I found out my ex had made a choice that is socially reprehensible. He is ostracized and yet, our children are torn. They do not approve of his behavior, but he is their father. And so, they feel a need to be there for him.

Yes, they had good times with him. And he helped them with challenges. But that is nothing above and beyond the scope of normal parenting. We can and should celebrate he had some normal motivations and abilities.  But we need not exaggerate it.estranged

I see the homeless here in our town and have gotten to know many as they hang out on the church grounds where my commercial kitchen is located. Without knowing any of their stories, I recognize that they have made life choices that have left them estranged from their families. And so, I understand that we have many people, operating at all levels of functionality in society, who are isolated and confused why. Few recognize that the choices made in their own behavior and the ways they treated people who once loved them and trusted them caused alienation.  Many blame it on others; it is easier to do that than recognize one’s own place in the divergent pathway.

So, I recognized, over 30 years ago that my REAL job was not what paid for the bacon, but to nurture and continue to help feed the lives of my three children.  All adults now, they are amazing young people and I am super proud of them. They have not been fault-free; that is some fairy tale not based in reality. But they are thinking and caring people who are facing their responsibilities and enjoying their pathways with close and dear friends.an nlanders

I am not ready to retire, but I love basking in the glow.

 

 


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He Said She Said

Even people who love each other have problems. Maybe it’s a Venus/Mars thing but I don’t think it can be explained that simply. Basically, many people just do not know how to communicate.  They know what they want to say but they forget to make time for the feedback loop…they forget to listen. They forget to check that they were heard correctly. And also, it seems, they forgot to stay patient.

Oh, we all say lots of words. No question there. I am a good example of the blah blah blah. But there is a difference between talking and communicating.

This past week was the county fair and I helped out for a few hours at the booth operated by the county Democratic party. It is set up with information about candidates running for ALL the races from President on down to dog catcher. Only kidding about the dog catcher, but down to the local level.county fair

It was pretty funny watching people as they walked by the booth. For some, we were obviously invisible, as if they had blinders on the side of their face closest to us.  For others, we must have been emitting some kind of sensory beam as they walked as far away as the sidewalk allowed. Cooties, I guess….just as well they stayed away.

Other more passive aggressive types hollered “Vote for Trump!” as they cleared our frontal zone.  I managed to suppress my “in your dreams!” or a more colorful response in the interest of community  fellowship.

The funniest part was when I walked down about five booths to the county Republican booth. It appeared to be a father and son who were there. The older one was in his 50s; the younger one maybe 20.

There was a banner “Make America Great Again” festooning the back of the booth so I asked, “So, how will we all make America Greater Now?” The answer, they proudly sang in tandem,  “Vote for Trump!”

Great, I said. Many will. And then what will happen?

Silence

“Oh”, I helped them along, “what has he suggested will make it better than it is now?”

“Get rid of all the illegals!” Dad shouted.

“How?”……pause….and then with more strength he opined, “round them up.”

When I suggested it might be hard to know where they are, they got stymied.Needle-in-a-haystack

When I told them that most illegals came in legally on visitor visas and overstayed their  permitted time limit, they did not know that.  But they rallied and said all foreign visitors would need to check in with the authorities as they moved around the country. I told them when I was working in Germany in 1981, before the fall of the USSR, I had to turn over my US passport at the place we stayed so they could report our presence to the police. I asked them if that was what they wanted here. They said only the foreigners would have to do it. Really? And how can you tell someone is a foreigner?  No answer.

When I asked how the illegals would be rounded up, they didn’t know, but it would be done because Trump said it would be.

I then dared to ask how getting rid of illegal farm workers would make Oregon great. They had no idea the role illegal workers play in this state, let alone the country.

Dad was very annoyed by that time and stomped off. I hollered after him that one way to make America great was not be a quitter and learn to communicate…give and take…listen and talk….then we could discover our commonalities and work together.communication-is-key

Son looked at me sheepishly. I guess the herd mentally was getting to him too.sheep Icelanda

 


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The Joys of Language

Most other nations in the world, except for the United States, consider learning another language not only normal but necessary. Their place on the world stage is enhanced by being conversant in their own native tongue but also French or Spanish or Chinese or English. We Americans who travel abroad are so used to finding someone who speaks English that most don’t understand that to be a considerate tourist it helps to know at lest a few basic words in that foreign language.

Well, tables are turned sometimes. It is pretty funny when you consider what regular English words mean in other places around the world.

InkTank has a funny article about ten English words that mean something very different in other nations.  Their #6 spoke to me, since I am a commerical food processor and make many jams and jellies.

6. Preservative  In France, a préservatif isn’t quite what you might expect. If you tend to have many conversations about jams and jellies, it might be useful to be aware that préservatifc actually means condom. In fact, many European languages have variations of preservative that all mean condom.no-added-preservatives-1030x1030

However, the funniest situation was something I learned yesterday.  First the back story.

Many immigrants, when coming to Castle Garden or Ellis Island, ended up with a family name different from the one they had known. Some names were changed by the immigration officer to make it Americanized or simpler.  Some people opted to change their names at that time.

We all know by now that Donald Trump’s grandfather changed their German family name from Drumpf. I assume the information about British slang was not widespread. The verb to trump has been used extensively across Britain to refer to the breaking of wind. It is especially the case in the North, in Wales and certainly in Norfolk,  simply  “To give forth a trumpet-like sound; spec. to break wind audibly (slang or vulgar).”25203695-SmCharacter-With-Fart-Cloud

 


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Paul Ryan and me

Maybe EACH of us SHOULD do this.  Maybe each of us should listen to a speech and then get the transcript and talk back.  And maybe we need to talk to each other also.

So, driving home from a bunch of work-related errands this evening, I heard Speaker of the House Paul Ryan rah-rah at the Republican Convention. I felt the need to retort….so here goes:

Speech by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Chair of the Republican National Convention:

Thank you all very much.

Delegates, friends, and fellow citizens: I appreciate the privilege of addressing this forty-first convention of the Party of Lincoln.

Oh, I really think the way they claim Lincoln to prove they are “good” is funny. I notice they do not claim more recent Republicans, which speaks a lot louder.

As part of my co-chairman duties, let me thank all the people of this beautiful city for looking after us this week. And above all I want to thank the men and women here from law enforcement for your service.

You know, standing up here again, it all has a familiar feel. Students of trivia will recall that last time around I was your nominee for vice president. It was a great honor, even if things didn’t work out quite according to plan.

But hey, I’m a positive guy. I’ve found other things to keep me busy. And I like to look at it this way. Next time there’s a State of the Union address, I don’t know where Joe Biden and Barack Obama will be. But you’ll find me right there on the rostrum with Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump.

“Postive guy”?????? Is that why the only word we’ve been hearing is “no”. No, we won’t meet to talk about the nominee for the Supreme Court.

Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made ours.

Have we had our arguments this year? Sure we have – and you know what I call those? Signs of life. Signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions. Not just mouthing new words for the same old stuff.

Hmmm, wait a minute here, Paul. Your co-chair shut down the protest within the Republican delegates pretty quickly. Guess muzzling people is a Republican choice, too?

Meanwhile, what choice has the other party made, in this incredible year filled with so many surprises?

Seems like voting fraud is not just a Republican issue. People in power do not like to lose it. Yes, that was a jab at Hillary also.

Here we are, at a time when men and women in both parties so clearly, so undeniably, want a big change in direction for America, a clean break from a failed system. And what does the Democratic Party establishment offer? What is their idea of a clean break?

They are offering a third Obama term, brought to you by another Clinton. And we’re supposed to be excited about that?

Personally, I think getting a “third Obama term”, while there are problems and I don’t like everything he has done, would be preferable to spending billions to build walls, splitting up families, and registration of members of one religion. Not to mention the probability of a new war, possibly one we will not survive.

For a country so ready for change, it feels like we had been cleared for takeoff, and then somebody announced we’re all going back to the gate.

  For a nation that wants change, let’s look at who is wanting what kind of change. Let;s also notice who refuses to change in teh manner of equal access to the law. 

It’s like we’ve been on hold forever, waiting and waiting to finally talk to a real person, and somehow we’ve been sent back to the main menu.

  It’s as if you’ve been having to share equal access to rights and the law with all kinds of people and that just is not comfortable.

Watch the Democratic Party convention next week – that four-day infomercial of politically correct moralizing. And let it be a reminder of all that is at stake in this election. You can get through four days of it, with a little help from the mute button. But four more years of it?

   I’m sure you can manage the same way you managed the last bit…doing nothing.

Not … a … chance. The Obama years are almost over. The Clinton years are way over.

Two-thousand sixteen is the year America moves on.

  Hopefully, with a gun or two in many hands, the movement will not be bloody.

From now to November, we will hear how many different ways progressive elitists can find to talk down to the rest of America … to tell voters that the Obama years have been good for you … that you should be grateful, and now, well, it’s Hillary’s turn.

  Oh, I LOVED this one! Hillary aims her speeches at a 7th grade level. Trump at a 4th grade level. Sorry if Hillary is talking down to you. Why didn’t you learn to read and understand when you went to school like we did?

But the problem is very simple. There is a reason people in our country are disappointed and restless.

The solution is so hard that no Republican has come up with one. 

If opportunity seems like it’s been slipping away, that’s because it has. And liberal progressive ideas have done exactly nothing to help. Wages never seem to go up.

   Yes, opportunity has slipped away as fast as the middle class has lost ground. The wages that never seem to go up….well, who has been fighting raising the minimum wage? Hell, who has been hiring people at minimum wage while CEOs are taking humongous bonuses and profits have shit out the roof along with the rise in the stock market?

The whole economy feels stuck. And for millions of Americans, middle-class security is now just a memory.

Yes, the middle class and the poor feel a loss of security. But the rich are happy…..well, maybe not.  They always want more.

Progressives like our president talk forever about poverty in America. And if high-sounding talk did any good, we’d have overcome these deep problems long ago.

  It sure must be annoying to hear that there are poor people everywhere.  And you are very right. Talk does no good. And apparently you and the Congress decide that work is not your shtick, so talk is all there is.

This explains why, under the most liberal president we’ve had so far, poverty in America is worse – especially for our fellow citizens who were promised better and need it most.

No, YOUR lack of positive responsiveness to help creative jobs, improve the infrastructure, and build educational opportunities to retrain people who have lost their manufacturing jobs because there are incentives in place for corporations to go elsewhere for cheaper labor, often with children.

The result is a record of discarded promises … empty gestures … phony strawman arguments … reforms put off forever … shady power plays, like the one that gave us Obamacare … constitutional limits brushed off as nothing … and, all the while, dangers in the world downplayed, even as the threats grow bolder and come closer.

Discarded promises like yours and your fellow Republicans to serve? Like the Judiciary Committee who refuses to even meet with the nominee for the Supreme Court?  You brought it up: shady power plays? Are YOU throwing stones? And you are blaming the fact that Congress voted to approve the ACA because you and so many never read the thing?  Hey! That‘s why you have assistants! Are you telling us you don’t read OTHER bills? Is that why there is nothing being done by Congress?

It’s the latest chapter of an old story: progressives deliver everything except progress.

Ahhh, blocked by the Congress, not much could get done. But wait a minutes, complain about Presidential order again now.

Yet we know better than to think that Republicans can win only on the failures of Democrats. It still comes down to the contest of ideas. Which is really good news, ladies and gentlemen, because when it’s about ideas, the advantage goes to us.

   Yes, appealing to fear and hate is always a reachable emotion. Much better than idealism like building community and helping the least of us…oops, forgive me, I’ve been going to church too much.

Against the dreary backdrop of arrogant bureaucracies … pointless mandates … reckless borrowing … willful retreat in the world … and all that progressives still have in store for us, the Republican Party stands as the great, enduring alternative.

   Enduring? You think a Trump Presidency will result in a viable nation? We WILL endure if we don’t get rounded up for being subversive.

We believe in making government, as Ronald Reagan said, not the distributor of gifts and privilege, but once again the protector of our liberties.

  Ah yes, the Constitution. Thank goodness it says ALL  people. EQUAL access. We Democrats remember that part. 

it says Let the other party go on making its case for more government control over every aspect of our lives – more taxes to pay … more debt to carry … more rules to follow … more judges who just make it up as they go along.

Excuse me, no Democratic government wants control of my vagina. No Democratic government wants to say love is not love unless it is between a man and a woman no matter how they cheated on their spouses and no matter how many times they betrayed those wedding vows. And o, by the way, those judges follow that Cosntitution.  Sorry, like the Bible, it’s very apparent you Republicans seem to like some parts better than others. 

We, in this party, are committed to a federal government that acts again as a servant accountable to the people, following the Constitution, and venturing not one inch beyond the consent of the governed.

   If the Congress passes bills that over 80% of the nation’s population does not want, are you acting as a servant to the people? Seems like someone else is pulling the strings.

We, in this party, offer a better way for our country, based on fundamentals that go back to the Founding generation. We believe in a free society where aspiration and effort can make the difference in every life … where your starting point is not your destiny … and where your first chance is not your only chance.

    The Republican Party did NOT exist at the foundation of this nation. But that’s okay, raise the flag, say some words that sound pretty but the Republican party as governed by many governors, does NOT offer better chances to people who want out of their starting point. In fact, some states with Republican governors are really hurting now.

We offer a better way for America, with ideas that actually work. A reformed tax code that rewards free enterprise, instead of just enterprising lobbyists.

  Free enterprise sounds great and most of your 4th grade followers have little concept of the rules that the government has for those who want to start a business. And Paul, don’t try to BS us about the enterprising lobbyists will be thrown out of the Temple I mean the Congress.

A reformed health care system that operates by free choice, instead of by force, and doesn’t leave you answering to cold, clueless bureaucrats.

A health care system that is accessible to those that can’t afford it? That means something like 60% of the current population will be out in the cold, clueless of how to manage their choices of food or medicine. But I guess when you decide Social Security Disability is spending too much money you might begin to understand a population with managed health is better.

A renewed commitment to building a 21st-Century military – and to giving our veterans the care they were promised, the care that they have earned.

Let’s talk about waste here also. Let’s admit we have the largest armed forces in the world. Let’s hear you admit you perceive we need more because we will soon be actively at war.

And we offer a better way of dealing with persistent poverty in this country: A way that shows poor Americans the world beyond liberal warehousing and checkwriting … into the life everyone can find, with opportunity and independence … the happiness of using your gifts, and the dignity of having a job.

   Has the Republican Party EVER come up with a way to help people out of poverty? I must have missed that.

And you know what? None of this will happen under Hillary Clinton.

   And you know what? None of this will happen under Donald Trump.

Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way.

  A better way for you…..not most, including the poor suckers who believe you.

And, last, let the other party go on and on with its constant dividing up of people … always playing one group against the other, as if group identity were everything.

Ahhhh, blinder and memory loss apparently. WHO has been saying all Mexicans are rapists? WHO has been saying all Muslims are terrorists? WHO has been saying all Democrats want is more money?

In America, aren’t we all supposed to see beyond class, or ethnicity, or all those other lines drawn to set us apart and lock us in groups?

   Do you, Paul, ever sit down and spend a day (not an hour) helping in an inner city school?  How about harvesting crops?  How about mining coal?  Let’s talk about how YOU intermingle every day with the poor, the people of color, the disabled, the homeless.  Then we can have a real conversation about the groups in this nation that have to be considered.

Real social progress is always a widening of the circle of concern and protection. It’s respect and empathy overtaking blindness and indifference. It’s understanding that by the true measure we are all neighbors and countrymen – called, each one of us, to know what is right and kind and just, and to go and do likewise.

Your neighbors are not mine. There is a class difference and you know it. You have gates on the streets that enter your neighborhoods and the only people of color who enter are for cleaning your houses, mowing your lawns, keeping your pool waters sparkling.  The true  measure is that made by those people who enter your pristine neighborhood, happy for the work, but ashamed and sickened by your attitude.

Everyone is equal … everyone has a place … no one is written off, because there is worth and goodness in every life.

Everyone has a place is a line that tells it all.

Straight from the Declaration of Independence, that is the Republican ideal – and if we won’t defend it, who will?

   Once again, history lesson. Republicans were NOT there at the drafting or signing of the Declaration of Independence. The people most like you were Tories, sticking to the ways of the King. The upstarts, the rebels, were young and breaking the rules. But again, the 4th grade education level of your constituents  pays off as they didn’t really pay attention in US History class.

So much that you and I care about, so many things we stand for, are in the balance in the coming election. Whatever we lack going into this campaign, we should not lack for motivation. In the plainest terms I know, it is all on the line.

       Hey! I agree with this! It IS on the line…for all of us.

So let’s act that way. Let’s use the edge we have, because it is still what earns trust and votes. This year of surprises and dramatic turns can end in the finest possible way – when America elects a conservative governing majority.

  You had a conservative ruling majority in Congress and we saw very clearly what you did….nothing for the PEOPLE. Nothing for the veterans, nothing for the teachers, nothing for the people who want to know what country their food comes from, nothing for the people. Plenty for the powerful. We see how the conservatives are.

We can do this, we can earn that mandate, if we don’t hold anything back, if we never lose sight of the stakes. Our candidates will be giving their all, their utmost, and every one of us has got to do the same.

  Yes, you can earn the mandate. And next week we will hear something similar and I probably will be annoyed enough to do this again. The candidates of both parties start out pretty excited to help their constituents…and then along come deep pockets with how many trillions of dollars to help dish out more empty words and lies, yes lies.

So what do you say we unite this party, at this crucial moment when unity is everything?

There are still some sane people in the Republican party who recognize what a mistake Trump is. Good luck to all of you uniting.

Let’s take the fight to our opponents with better ideas – let’s get on the offensive and let’s stay there.

    Oh, you’re plenty offensive enough.

Let’s compete in every part of America, and turn out at the polls like every last vote matters, because it will.

Except where you need voter ID that is new and different from the one you’ve been using for years. Then your vote doesn’t matter.

Fellow Republicans, what we have begun here, let’s see it through … let’s win this thing … let’s show America our best and nothing less.

      I’m still waiting to see your BEST for all people. 

Thank you, and God bless.

And now, we will see. Get ready for next week’s version and then three and a half months of …… empty promises and probable lies. Equal opportunity no matter the party affiliation, I’m afraid. 


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I didn’t see that coming

Parenting is hard. Parenting with a partner is hard. Single parenting is hard. Any way you look at it, if you are doing it “right”, parenting is more than full time and you HAVE to put your own ego, your own desires, your own agenda aside.

It was when my kids were two and four years old that it became clear that my job was not my work as a real estate appraiser. My job, much more powerfully important that getting someone’s mortgage to an approval and closing, was to raise those two little pipsqueaks to be healthy, functioning contributing adults. It became apparent when my marriage was on such shaky grounds that the analysis HAD to consider what the kids would be learning if I stayed with their father.

I erred on the side of being “nice”. I told him we needed to separate. I had no plans at that moment for a divorce but I knew the kids needed a healthier environment for their daily life. I allowed him generous time with the kids and had to talk with them quite a bit when he hurt them because their needs were not compatible with what he wanted to do.

And when he filed for a divorce because he wanted to control the situation, I was okay with that. In fact, I was kind  of worried that if he knew how okay I was he would withdraw the petition, but he didn’t.  He told the kids I divorced him. I refused to talk about it with them (until they were adults) saying it was a grownup decision and both mommy and daddy love them.

I read a lot about kids going through divorce. I participated in programs the elementary school offered and we all had counseling sessions together. I was asked in a session, what my goal was. I stated, simply, that I wanted us to get along well enough that we could sit together at school events so the kids only had to play to one part of the auditorium. He said that was not his goal. He never said what goal he had.

And so, at high school and college graduations, we sat apart. Often his family sat with me. Not because they were taking my side but because they were taking the kids’ side. They got it.

He never did. He married again, as I did. And life moved on. The kids are now adults in their 30s and sometimes we still talk about what might have been. They ended up with a new brother with me and two new brothers with him. They are close to my youngest. The other little ones need them, but the new life their father has built has pushed them away.

I got news today that my ex is in trouble. That choices he has made has once again brought him into a world of hurt and he is most likely scared and unable to figure out how things turned so badly.  He has a pathway in front of him that I never dreamed he would take.

My feelings are confused. I know, intellectually, that there is nothing I did or did not do, nothing I might have done, that would have given him a different pathway. I know, intellectually, that his actions must have continued after my time with him with little thought of the consequences.  I know, intellectually, that no one can make this better for him,

However, I am surprised at how much emotional pain I feel. The “what if I had made him do this or that” syndrome is running through my gut. It is a worthless exercise. I know that.

 

 

 


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Hyphenated-Americans Not Allowed

Almost all of us are immigrants. Do you know your family’s heritage or is the trans-ocean story so many generations back that you have no real connection to that Old Country place? No stories?

Many people don’t remember so can’t even reach for empathy with this issue, but a recent short discussion with someone who recognized the nationalities of his grandparent immigrants made me think about what was different between his experience and mine.  Because there was one.

not-allowedThe big difference was that my grandparents were part of a discriminated group when they came and for decades after, and my family education was full of stories of that experience. During my childhood I was carefully taught.  I have struggled with that, trying to accept all people as equals, knowing full well they may not feel the same about me.  I have been the brunt of discrimination myself and yet I recognize it is not bad compared to so many others.

It is perhaps because of my heritage and this discrimination that I have supported the fight for equal rights and equal access under the law for all people. For gays. For the transgendered. For people of color. For people who may even sneak in, mostly on visitors’ visas and overstay their permitted time.no Irish no blacks no dogs

Now, with Trump’s massive acceptance by an angry mostly white population that generally is not highly educated, we see just how dangerous life in the United States can be for people who are different. Not white. Not the right religious expression and practice. Not men, although there are many women who are part of that angry group thinking they are okay. You’re not okay, women. Your turn will come.

All of our turns will come. It has happened before and we are seeing the start of a horrible eruption.

It has to be stopped now.

We are ALL Americans. It took a nation of immigrants for over 150 years to build this nation.  We called it a “Melting Pot” for years but that has changed. Now, more than even before, new immigrants stay isolated from mainstream society. Because of this, the language barrier persists. Because of this, the education gained is less. Because of this,  fewer and fewer than even 20 years ago feel that have to fight for a place here.the_melting_pot_diversity

The United Sates used to be a beacon of hope and opportunity to the world. Not now. Now we are getting a worldwide reputation for being a country of hate. And of stupidity.

The hyphenation has to stop. I don’t need to know if someone like Bobby Jindal is an Indian-American. Saying that makes me realize he is “different”. I don’t need to know if the judge in the Trump University case is a Mexican-American. Saying that makes me wonder what the “problem” could be.   I don’t care what your heritage is.

I DO care about your ethics and your activity in being an active productive member of the community that makes up a strong nation that believes in freedom and liberty. I DO care if you are accepting that others in your community have equal access to education and opportunities.  I DO care if you are a loving person or a jerk.

Don’t be a jerk.


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Pursuit of Happiness

Long ago I knew a man who wanted things, and so he would arrange to take them. Secretly. Sometimes other people would get blamed and he would not care. His pursuit of happiness was severely flawed as it not only did not take into effect the feelings of the owners of those stolen things, but the restricted freedom or life changing events that affected those that took the blame. He didn’t care. The Declaration of Independence provided him an inalienable right to pursue happiness and damn everyone else. Him first. Only him.

He’s not alone. There are many other flawed people who have “me first, the hell with all of you” attitudes.pursuit-of-happiness-2-728

And so, here we are, a nation that has been driven to division based on religious expression, women’s rights, the rights of people of color and sexual identity and expression and so much more.

The fundamentalist mindset is that anything else but their expressed beliefs are evil and must be stopped.  Al Qaeda and ISIS are doing that by murdering thousands. So far, it has not come to that here in the United States with our own citizens. But the time seems to be coming and not from Middle Eastern terrorists. This will be home grown.

Are we in for a civil war because some people believe THEIR pursuit of happiness depends on others being subordinate? Am I to be murdered because I have posted about my food preservation business and they want my stored food? Am I to be murdered because I have been outspoken about equal access to rights for all?  Am I to be murdered because I am a Jew?

There are a lot of challenged people in our communities. People who want what they want and have no ability to work out a plan to achieve it. They may be the poor, the people who are on public assistance and eat at soup kitchens. They may be the homeless with problems that are rooted in drug abuse or mental instability. But most likely the ones who have the largest problems are people who are living a life of struggle and they don’t know why.Pause Pursuit-Of-Happiness

These people are inhibited by their inability to self educate, their inability to develop a plan of action, their inability to consider the effects and consequences of their actions. These challenged people are our neighbors, our friends on Facebook, our childhood friends. These struggling people are angry and listen to the voices of Trump and other conservative talking heads that fuel that anger.

The pursuit of happiness is an “unalienable” right. That means it is the desire to be happy that is natural. The Decalration of Independence does not say “happiness”. It says “the pursuit of happiness.”   We are born with minds and talents that we may use to pursue happiness.  Many of us have had our minds and talents squashed and skewed in ways that make it hard to recognize that a path to happiness is one we must make on our own and together. Not through divisiveness but with cohesion and community. And it is not instant gratification but the actual working towards that goal that brings the greatest happiness.pursuit-of-happiness work