goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Where are YOU in the Dumbing down of America?

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” I may say, except it wouldn’t do much good, as very few Americans would understand me.

Some facts about the dumbing down of America:

18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll.geocentric_model-_of_the_Universe-300x298

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn’t know that George Washington was the first President; couldn’t name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test.  Try to pass a typical citizenship test to see how YOUR knowledge rates.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents. And while the lack of a college education limits earning potential for most people, the escalating costs and increasing debt load of young people make the cost of a college education difficult to value. Meanwhile, the US is falling further behind other western nations.

According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate. Few people read for pleasure and even more, many people do not seem to have the ability to do basic research skills so they accept what they read at face value.  How many books have YOU read so far this year?

Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago. This has a lot to say about science education and the lack of interest by almost half of the population to know basic physical facts about the world around them. 

A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously and there is a museum in Cincinnati that shows this so it must be true.dinosaur and person

In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as “nerds,” “dweebs,” “dorks,” and “geeks,” and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular “jocks” for openly displaying any intellect.  These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S. Again, just one more way we have fallen behind. When more people are interested in Kanye and little about their current representative to Congress, there is a serious problem. 

And the list goes on…..

So the question is what are you doing to keep learning?tellign the truth


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Getting Dirty in the Gutter

So now we have Presidential candidates comparing hand sizes as an indication of how large their dicks are? What? To put it mildly, if a bit crudely, they are total schmucks. We should not be surprised.schmuck

What had surprised me initially but now I have fallen to a state of dismay, is how many of my fellow citizens are so titillated by this entertainment they do not seem to remember that this contest is not for the biggest jerk in the country but for our President and representative to the rest of the world.  When people say they support Trump because he tells it like it is, it is easy to remind them that they no longer speak to family members who have done the same thing for years. Why is speaking crudely an asset?

As more and more people climb on the Trump bandwagon I am still amazed at those that ignore the fact he has talked about how beautiful his daughter’s body is and he would “date” her….in other words, incest. I am amazed that the photos of his wife with her surgically enhanced breasts exhibited for all of us to see is not a matter of concern over the slutty nature of the woman who could become our First Lady but a gut reaction from men who drool over sexy broads. I would expect the constituency who cuts funding for women’s health clinics and does not want to teach sexual education to kids before their hormones lead them into activities with consequences, that that group of people would be making SOME comment about concern for the gutter level of the Trumps.  (I think this is the same group that scorns the dress code of Muslim women to cover their head or even their entire body.)

But now, we have people who are not really thinking. Maybe this is a horribly true reflection of our education system which teaches for the test and not for the ability to reason. I suppose if you vote for the winner of a Presidential election you might think you won.  You might think you passed the test. But in reality, you may have failed at an important life decision and the consequences of that support may really come back to bite you.

We need to look at those consequences.

For all of you who support Republican candidates who want to bomb the Middle East  because of fear of terrorism, take a moment to think it through. No one seems to take a minute to think who might not like that idea, besides all the innocent people who live there. (I suspect many people here don’t care about them anyway, back to the prior adage that the only dead (fill in the blank) is a dead one.)  But, no one is thinking that if we unleash the bombs, so might anyone else who dislikes us. No one is thinking about how WWIII will start.

For all of you who hate abortion, cutting off access to a legal procedure is not the right choice. Abortions have been going on for millennium. Backstreet procedures have ended up maiming and killing many women. Supporting a candidate who says he will stop all legal abortions is supporting someone who says they will change the law.  You might support that, but realize you are about to kill your sisters. You can start counting dead bodies of adults, I suppose. hanger

For all of you who hate people being on welfare and want to cut programs but look the other way when you notice the homeless in your town, be aware the problem will get worse.  People who say we should have smaller government are usually not active in their communities to work social programs. If we are not going to work on this on a local level, each one of us, then we need some help and that is why the federal government stepped in.

COMPLAINFor all of you who want change but never get off your butts to help make that possible, your comments are not helpful.  Your actions show you really don’t care. You just want what YOU want and are little different from anyone else in that regard. Only if you help work it so the least of us can get more comfortable living and eating and working situation, your bitching and moaning does nothing to help.

For all of you who just buy another gun so you will be ready to join the fight, what are you fighting for? If you think you are going to protect your family, if your mottos include “out of my cold dead hands” then you are not working to building a nation for all of us, but part of what will tear us apart.

For all of you who want the illegals to go back home, go work in the farm fields for a season.  Hell, work for a week…if you can handle the physical activity. And then live on only what you earned. And please, think back to your own family history and try to really understand the motivation for those ancestors who were willing to leave all that they knew in search of a better life. If your family does not know its history, perhaps it’s because there is something particularly unpleasant they were trying to forget. Or something that did not include an element of pride?  But if you can not find the feeling within you to understand why people come here now, you are not reaching into your soul deeply.nationalities_ethnicities_citizenships

One thing is abundantly clear. Over the past 7 years this nation has been whipped into divisions.  Back in 2007 Obama was elected by most of us in the hope of “change”. His slogan, Be the Change you want to see obviously fell on deaf ears. I think people sat back expecting improvement and their choice of talking heads lead them to believe things like medical coverage for all is a horrible idea. Their choice of talking heads lead them to think things should have been fixed in the first year. Their choice of talking heads has helped them forget what caused the issues President Obama had to deal with.

Who benefits if we are divided? Do you know…or care?  If you don;t, you probably are continuing to support their goal. Is that your goal?

So now, we have a clown show and the world is laughing. For all of you conservatives who believe that President Obama degraded America’s world image, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Worse, you will be contributing to it if you elect Trump or Cruz or Rubio. None are the leadership we need on a world stage let alone to bring our domestic situation to a healthier state.  Several nations are considering banning Trump from ever visiting. From Mexico to Great Britain these are early warning signs that a Trump Presidency will not be respected by the world.Trump pnata

We have had a few great Presidents, many of whom were not very popular during their time in office because of the programs they started that affected people in power to help others.  And we have had some that introduced programs that hurt many people living in this nation. Most Presidents were in the middle, not great statesmen but people who tried to at least do no damage.effective leadership

This election we have choices to elect a person with strong ideas of what is right for this nation. So many are out of touch with what we, the people, really deal with. Oh, they learn snippets from those of us who shout the loudest and have a crowd following. But we, the people need to look at the whole picture not just our favorite issue. Who can lead us in our nation and in the world to bring us together in peace and prosperity? Think people…..use the space between your ears, not just your gut reactions. This is important. There are consequences.

 


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Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Several years ago I called a local print shop to order some brochures and the guy gave me a quote for the job. I emailed him the file and stopped in there a week later to pick them up.

WRONG!!!!!

WRONG!!!!!

The phone guy was not there but my brochures were, without an invoice. The boss had me take the printed brochures, saying he would send an invoice.

Three months went by, no invoice. I stopped back in and prepared to pay. Still no phone guy and the boss man still had not prepared the invoice. I told him what the quote was and he had me pay that. But he marvelled that I had come back in, saying most people would not.

I said that was sad. I then said that I try to live by the Golden Rule.

“Oh yeah,” he sneered, “screw them before they screw you.”

“No, wrong attitude, ” I reminded him I HAD come back in. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” I reminded him. He laughed, not a happy sound.

Today I saw a meme on Facebook where Elizabeth Warren challenges us Americans to consider where we are as a society. If most of us have the attitude that the printing shop owner has, we are in big trouble.elz warren

So, why have we become a very selfish, self-centered, I need I need I need I don’t care about you society? This is not because Black men don’t stay with their families. This is not because today’s music undermines the morality of our children. This is because most of us are hurting and resentful and above all, it is because most of us want what we want and many have forgotten that you need to work for it.

Many people are unhappy with the way things are.  Many people, like me,  have passion for one or two issues but never move beyond them to consider the common good in choosing a candidate.Bengazi

If you abhor abortion, and you’re a woman, don’t get one. If you’re a man, don’t get a woman in a position to need to consider one. Support widespread education about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. And then, be responsible not just angry.

If you are terrified that any Muslim is going to kill you, get educated. Believe it or not, Harvard offers FREE online courses. You have a computer, after all you are reading this. So, take advantage and learn more in a way that will not be slanted to one political ideology. Here is the link for the free courses offered about religion.   Xenophobia is not attractive and your fear means the terrorists are winning. They may not have to kill you to show they control you.

If you believe the poor are sitting back and taking advantage of social programs so they don’t have to work and you believe they are the cause of our national deficit, time to realize that the most expensive welfare program in our country is to corporations in the misguided effort to keep big business here at home, hiring our workforce.  Large corporations despite huge profits are eligible for huge tax incentives and other programs that put money in their corporate pockets.  They take advantage of the laws and STILL move offshore with their manufacturing plants, also taking advantage of the law.  In the effort to keep food commodity prices low, large corporate factory farms are given money NOT to grow food. Your tax dollar, in other words, is NOT being abused by the poor. The programs may not be effective but don’t cut services without offering a better alternative.politifact-photos-Budget_pie_chart_meme

If you notice a recurring theme, it is get educated.If you are angry about something, dig in more, using all sources, not just the ones that make you happy when you read them.

And then, get back to considering my first question. Are you your brother’s keeper?

We are part of a nation with vast differences.  Those differences have made us what we are.  We have different heritages, different living situations, different educational experience, different work experiences. The people who seem to be most upset are those stuck in the past when the White majority had all the power, and those on the edges who are trying to gain their equal place in the sun. We should not have different attitudes about everyone living in peace, everyone living in a safe place, everyone having access to education to improve their world and the world around them, everyone doing their best at their chosen work.

If we don’t lose this “me versus the rest of the world” attitude, we are in for more divisiveness, more anger, more home-grown people choosing to use their legally acquired guns to exhibit their anger.

It starts with YOU and how you raise YOUR children.  Work it. Be responsible and educated.

If this blog irritates you….there she goes again with more liberal ranting….please take the time to respond and explain why wanting all us of to work together is against your sensitivities. If you agree with the concepts here, please comment and explain why and, if you are willing, go a step further and explain how you put those feelings into action. After all, some people need a road map. Let’s build one together.roadmap


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A Glimpse at the Conservative Mindset

Today as I headed to my car to offload items needed for work (I do my professional canning in the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries’ commercial kitchen) I stopped to chat with a car going out the entrance into the parking lot. I wanted to ask him if he had ever read Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman in the late 60s, but he started the conversation in a different frame of mind.

“Do you see all the homeless sleeping here?” he asked, aggravation in his voice.

“Sure did,” I answered, “and I feel bad for them….it is 43 degrees now at 8a.m.. No one chooses to sleep out in cold weather if they have an opportunity for a warm and dry bed.”

“Well, it’s a damn shame. I see them smoking. If they quit smoking they could save their money and get a place to live.”

I told him how our experience just two years ago cost us almost $2500 in first and last month rent and a security deposit. “That’s a lot of time not smoking to save that up.”Savings-target1

He countered, “Someone needs to do something about it.”

“Who do you think should do something and what should they do?”  I asked, keeping my voice as neutral as possible.

His agitation increased, “I don’t know but someone needs to! I’ve lived here for 50 years and it wasn’t always like this!”

“I know,” I murmured, “there are a lot of problems now that did not exist 50 years ago, even 5 years ago.”

“Yeah!” he was urgent. “There weren’t all these hispanics. All these gay people.,…they stayed hiding then. No niggers too. No druggies.”

Okay, it was apparent he believed that the people who were suffering were at fault but if I hadn’t realized it before it was clear he was a bigot.  I kept my voice calm, “We here at the Coop do what we can to help them and there are others in town who also are working hard to try to get them off the street. But, ” I added, “I also agree things are not what they used to be.  I wonder why their families are not helping them.”

Oh I got an earful then. His own daughter, age 35, is living on the street. He won’t let her come home because she has a Latino boyfriend and if “he came over I would have to shoot him. So she choses to live her way.”Homeless-Sign

No wonder, I thought.  So I added some fuel to get him thoughts.

I asked him, “I wonder why children, like your daughter don’t learn good work ethic from their parents, like you.”

Ahhh, turned out although he had worked some in his adult life he had been an alcoholic. and his life had not been a smooth path. His wife left him and she was a fool with the next man, according to his judgement. He said he had another daughter in prison.role-model-6-728

So, I pushed my point, “So perhaps you did not quite show them the kind of way to be a productive member of society, to learn how to nurture relationships to help the people close to you through hard times?”

He glared at me (perhaps I was lucky he only glared) and suggested “Someone needs to do something!” and he drove out…the entrance. See, the rules do not apply to him, after all.

I hear and read a lot of comments from the conservative people on my Facebook feed that we need to return to the way America was in the 1950s and early 60s.  I remind them, first of all, we all were pretty young then and our viewpoint of the way society was then was not an adult perspective. Any analysis read now that puts it all in a golden perfect society seems to forget that women were considered to need to be at home and let their husbands tell them what to think,  that Jim Crow laws  existed throughout the South and in many other areas, the Cold War provided pretty constant fear of annihilation, the McCarthy hearings in Congress  served as a Communist witch hunt,  that Jews and other minorities were restricted from country clubs, some schools and some neighborhoods.  It was NOT a golden time for most. Just white Protestant men.

So now, who is leading the charge to bring America back to those days. White men.accept

And they complain….and blame the victims. They have no ideas for solutions, but say “SOMEONE” needs to do ‘SOMETHING”  but not with their tax money and since they do not participate in civic volunteer activities of that sort, not with their personal effort.

I did not get to ask him my punchline, “Do you consider yourself a Christian?”  Most bigots do. Pretty amazing.  Maybe they read a different Bible than I do. They certainly do not follow the teachings of Christ.


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Bombardment: No Wonder We Are Stressed Out

Dying polar bears. Hundred of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Damage from oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundred of thousands of acres on fire in Alaska. Bee colony deaths. Monster hurricanes.oil-spill-beaches

Shootings in churches, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. Road rage. Burning flags. Burning churches. Love the sinner hate the sin translating into willingness to quit a job instead of follow the law. Lynchings over race and sexual orientation. Surplus military vehicles coming to your town as local police equipment.armored police vehicles

Items sold in grocery stores as food that have no natural nutritional value.  Adults who have never eaten a nectarine. Children who only eat canned fruit and can not identify the real thing. Chicken shipped to China for processing and then shipped back to American supermarkets.cildhood obesity

Trade deals with other countries that are secret. Jobs outsourced from the US. Shoppers who stand in line for hours at big box stores for a sale instead of supporting locally owned stores on main street. People who claim they are patriotic but buy cheap foreign made goods.sale line

Mandated national academic policy. Children who watch television 6 hours a day. Adults who watch television 6 hours a day but don’t have time to cook from scratch. Active children given drugs instead of fun outside.  Organized recreational sports with angry parents.kids-watching-tv-blog-size

People who never spend time in nature. National parks crowded with people in air conditioned RVs. Trash thrown out of cars. Lack of recycling programs and attitudes. Yards junked up with old tires, old appliances, overgrown weeds.  Water bottled for sale from a drought-stricken area where farmers can no longer irrigate the crops that feed us all.food gorws

Children joining the military because patriotism/economy is so bad can’t find a job/can’t afford to pay for college and finding themselves unprepared  in situations where they learn war is not a video game. Traumatized vets coming home and unable to maneuver through the rigmarole of policies and practices of supposedly helpful agencies, maybe also spiraling downward with drugs used to quiet the noise in their head, abandoned by families because of emotionally unstable behavior, ending up on the streets.homeless veterans_infographic

Growing number of homeless. Feeding the hungry illegal in many towns. Not in my backyard attitude of many communities instead of recognition that poverty exists everywhere. Rinse and repeat through several generations.  Assumption all are druggies and abusing the system.hunger in the US

On and on. Anger. Hate. Fear. Me. Me. Me. My rights. My privilege is more important than your need.

Those of us over 50 recognize how much the US has changed since our childhood. While some long for the good old days of the 1950s, they don’t recognize it is not because of what was or was not happening all those decades ago but because we were children. We had no real knowledge of what was really going on and we basically had no responsibilities.  Of course life was simpler then-we were children and naive.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it's an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it’s an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

There has been no idyllic time. Ever. For each era  where countless people had prosperity, countless others were diminished through economic or legal policies.

Some people recognized that something needed to be done to fix those policies, so all people could have the opportunity to strive to that level of prosperity held by others.  What happened over time was that some people just could not be helped and other people began to realize their own position of power was diluted and started working for equal protection under the law.not being bullied

The turmoil we now experience is truly nothing new. Even the hate, which seems to be pervasive, is really nothing new. There is a lot of fear and we are being manipulated by those in power to keep us off balance and fearful. Fear of anyone different from us, whether in color, nationality, citizenship, education, economic standing, residence style, education. Having fear of anyone who is different, people huddle in groups of like-minded friends. They rarely bother to know anyone outside their narrow group, and so the fear…and the hate….continue.

We enjoy diversity in parrots...why not in people?

We enjoy diversity in parrots…why not in people?

Why? You certainly don’t like it this way, do you? The ONLY person whose attitude you can control is your own. Start. Set an example of good. Of calm. Of rational thinking. Of sharing ideas calmly. Of living the Golden Rule-TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.Golden Rule

 

 

 


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Leadership Challenge

You ever put together one of those bookcases you buy in box or piece of IKEA furniture? You know how the instructions sometimes do not seem to be in English?  I can only wonder, when I have that experience, if the instruction writer was so used to the assembly process that forgetting a step or two was easy.Billy bookcase instructions

Overall, I am pretty impressed with the State of Oregon. In the almost two years I have lived here I have found most people are friendly and helpful.oregon gov

I even have been impressed by DMV, which any American who drives knows is an agency that seems to be designed to stay just barely within the Geneva Convention guidelines for torture. In West Virginia, for example, it was pretty typical to wait an hour only to be told that I did not have the right information.  Here, we were able to register a car that was 3000 miles away. Not only did they understand the situation, they even had a form and system in place. I definitely felt we were moving to a place where information was shared, and shared in a way that was easy to understand.

However, I hit a spot where the published information for my new business endeavor is not quite “full”. To become a state licensed processor I read I needed to call the Health Department person in charge of my county. I read that the kitchen needs to be inspected and I should call 2 weeks before I expect to start processing. I also read that the state does not prorate the $450 annual license which runs from July 1-June 30, so I figured I would wait until June 15 to call.

I also read that I need to have each recipe I plan to process reviewed by a state licensed lab for Ph, water activity and Brix. Then and only then do I need to send another sample and the written recipe to another lab, run by Oregon State University, for approval. They are the licensing agency, so their approval is tantamount. But no where, in anything I read, did it say that the lab test  must be done before the Health Department is called and the license application begins.Screen-shot-2013-08-18-at-9.33.56-PM

So, the Health Department person responded to my phone call today and I need to do things in a different order than what I read. Okay, not a biggie…just a tad annoying. She will not give me a list of approved labs. Okay. I can find some on Google.

I need to convert my recipes into weight measurements in grams, not in cups or teaspoons.  Okay.

She’ll be happy to meet with me.  Great. impatient

I want to get rolling and this will take another few weeks. Okay. Once I am up and running I will be up and running so in the scheme of things, this is NOT a big deal. Just need to remember to breathe……