goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Counting My Blessings (May 2017)

I was doing busy work prepping some veggies for the dehydrator and was musing about my visit today to the new farm where some friends just moved. They are starting their new adventure and are excited about what they can achieve. They have a lot of work in front of them and they have the skills to tackle what needs to be done. I am so happy for them.

I also am humbled by my own lack of knowledge and ability to do what they plan to do. It made me realize that I am very fortunate that I have friends with diverse skill sets. Because I am enriched by those friendships.

I am so very glad I have many friends who are farmers or growers or fishers or hunters or gatherers. They know how to bring food home.

I am so glad I have many friends who are chefs and excellent cooks and others who love to build those skills. They know how to make us food to eat.

I am so glad I have many friends who are healers, either nurses or doctors or acupuncturists or chiropractors or therapists or physical therapists or massage therapists or reiki masters. They know how to help us be healthier.

I am so glad I have many friends who are teachers, either with children or adults, or group leaders, or others who share skills and abilities and are willing and able to share them to teach us to learn.

I am so glad I have many friends who have religious training either as ministers or rabbis or lay leaders or spirit sharers or truth seekers. They show there are many pathways to finding the message.

I am so glad I have many friends around the world of various nationalities. They share their pride of heritage and place and expand my world.

I am so glad I have many friends with sexual identities that differ from mine. They show me there are many ways to love.

I am so glad I have many friends.

My world is better than if everyone in my life was a cookie cutter, all from the place where I was born, all with the same education, the same religion, the same health, the same lifestyle. The diversity I see surrounding me reminds me we each are the star of our movie; we each are striving to make our life good. And the more we reach out to include people with differences, the better our own movie becomes.

Thank you for being part of making my life good….and then better.

 


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What’s the Right Way?

What’s the right way to challenge someone you know…someone you love or respect…when something that person says makes your bullshit meter twinge?  How do you behave when someone you know…someone you love or respect….announces something that you know is based on air and ego?

I once worked for a man, a terrific man, one of the best. I worked for him and saw how capable he is, how truly wonderful. He did great things, the best things. Really. You would be proud to call him your friend.

I knew him to be gentle and caring and smart. Very smart. Went to several of the best schools and got great grades, superior grades. Better than almost everyone else.

But he had this one teeny tiny habit. He made up statistics. And I knew it.

I challenged him once….in private.  He grinned and asked me who would know. I told him I would know. The others who worked with us might know. And he would know.

And he smiled.

Now this man is not self serving and malicious.  On the contrary, he recognizes that he was given chances in life and now, because he is in a position to do so, he wants to help others.

I love this man. Do not misunderstand me.

But I see when good men can also lie, we are in trouble.

We have a President who does not know how to admit he does not know something. We have a President who is so unsure about himself that he must make up information. He lies.

He lies so much that when he is caught and understands it is a lie, he blames it on others.

This man has no moral compass.

So how do we deal with the small lies we hear from people we love and respect?

I don’t know about you, but I will continue to let that person know I recognize what he did.  I will continue to offer a level of privacy….for a time. But if the lies continue, it has to be stopped.

As soon as we as a society get accustom to the level of lying that goes on, it will increase.

Or perhaps, it already has because we let it go. We ourselves lie at times. And when we let it go with people we know, how can we hold people we do not know accountable?  It used to be that a person’s word was what made their reputation. 

It starts with each one of us.  No more embellishing. No more lying by omission. No more painting the picture better than it is.

It means admitting you don’t know. That you need more info. That you need some help.

When I was working my very first job out of college I did not know a lot of what I was doing.  (I suspect many people play act as I did). I tried to carry it off, but I felt there was a big neon sign flashing over my head “fraud”. It took maturity to understand that it is perfectly okay if I do not know something. That level of maturity helped me a lot when I started visiting farms and had no idea of the value or benefits of corn feeding or grass feeding cattle. The rancher was patient and I actually found everyone was patient. They enjoyed talking about something that they knew. And so I learned.

And I also learned that I didn’t need to bullshit any more. 

 

 

 


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Our Heart is Sick

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves….about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess.  I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music.  It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships.  Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in VietNam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience.  We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting 

and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting by a government ordered militia of four kids on a college campus who were peacefully demonstrating would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting?

And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinion, someone has lost their values.

My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Willamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of  a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights.  They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us.  They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt.  To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for …hmmmmm at least 5 decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if will we react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is….no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by anther country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet.  We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is……perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.


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Coming to a television screen near you…..

My parents restricted our television watching when I was young. I learned to tell time before kindergarten so I could turn on my program (Romper Room) at 11:30.  I still rarely watch TV and have been thinking we can let the cable access go without a problem. I watched only a few things in the past year and most of that was accessible online.

However, I know a lot of people have the television on just about all day. It’s background noise to some.  For many, it is the focus of their activity. Perhaps, in time, it will be also for me. My mother-in-law, essentially bedridden in her last few years because of COPD, had no cable but still could watch local programs. She had public television on all day. Or at least when her local sports team was not being televised. The television brings the world to a lot of people, especially if they do not get out into the world.

Back in 2000 I heard people talking about a new tv program, Survivor. They were excited about what the contestants of this reality show had to do. I actually watched one show; I think they had to eat bugs. It was an interesting concept but, to me, not worth the time. I had a six-year-old and my husband was dying of brain cancer. It was more important to me to spend time with them than spend an hour glued to what really seemed like the idiot box.

We were living in Huntington, West Virginia in 2010 when British chef Jamie Oliver came to town to get people to change their bad eating habits. Part of the show was filmed at my son’s high school and he came home often with descriptions of what REALLY went on before the cameras started to roll. In addition, I spoke with one of the guys who was on the track team and had participated in the reality show.  He described an incident where he informed an associate producer that he had a conflict and was told to tell Oliver. As he started to explain to the chef, Oliver stuck his fingers in his ears and started singing “I can’t hear you.” Later, when the episode aired it showed Oliver having a fit because this guy had not had the courtesy to inform him that he would not be there.

So, it was very apparent to me that reality television shows are NOT about reality, but are staged as much as any scripted show. And it also became apparent to me that people watched these shows because they enjoyed seeing people lose. The excitement of the show very much included the idea that someone who is inferior would be kicked out. If the watcher voted for someone who got to stay, they “won.”  This set people up, over all these years, into a me versus the rest of them attitude.

Needless to say I had no interest in watching the Apprentice. I grew up in the New York City area and knew about Donald Trump’s ways to take advantage of people to get what he wanted. I did not need to give up my time watching him belittle people.  However, it was a popular show. And many people voted for Trump based on that TV persona. They did not realize it was fake. So, by accepting it as reality, guess what happened?

Now now we have a new reality.

  • The head of the EPA went on national TV and said carbon dioxide doesn’t drive climate change.  This is a complete reversal of past EPA policy and a total rejection of all credible science and facts. This isn’t a joke — It’s the first step to killing all programs to combat climate change. Ask yourself WHY.
  • We have escalating fear that a transgender person will attack young girls in public restrooms although no such incident has happened.  At the same time, young white men are getting slaps on the wrists for raping and sexually assaulting women, even when they are unconscious. Ask yourself WHY.
  • A member of the Congressional committee discussing the new healthcare plan does not want men to have to pay for pre-natal health care. Perhaps he is merely unaware how costs go down when the pool includes people who do NOT use a service, or maybe he sees no reason for women to have health care costs as low as men. Ask yourself WHY.
  • The populations of more and more states are voting for legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana but the federal government is adamant that the risk to public health is equivalent to drugs like crack, meth, and heroin. So, the legal businesses have restriction from federal banks and the government can continue to slap people into prison for sentences that are often longer than crimes against people. Ask yourself WHY.
  • While 17 intelligence agencies say they have proof that Trump and his cohort had dealings with members of the Russian oligarchy, no one in Congress is willing to start an investigation but those same Senators pounced all over the mismanagement of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Ask yourself WHY.
  • People throughout the country clamor that illegal aliens have stolen jobs from native born Americans and support the deportation of all people who entered the country illegally.  Farmers growing produce, restaurants, and the construction industry welcome people wanting jobs to come forward. Ask yourself WHY.
  • Trump promises a YUGE wall to protect us from bad hombres and also promises that he will get Mexico to pay for it. As the plans unfold, it appears that not only will we the people be paying for it with a surcharge on Mexican products but it is apparent that Trump’s plan to reduce the funding for the Coast Guard will offer a new door of entry to anyone wanting to come to stay. Ask yourself WHY.
  • Discussion about infrastructure construction includes giving the work to private companies who will get reimbursed by we the people with tolls on rebuilt highways and bridges. Ask yourself WHY.
  • And finally, because this list COULD go on and on….The new healthcare plan will be lowering costs not for we the people but for the government. The rest of us will have the option to pay more than we can afford for services unknown at this time, or die. Simple choice. Ask yourself WHY.

And the people are beginning to make some noise. Congressional town hall meetings in their home districts are having massive attendance. Some are calm  as people ask questions and the Representative or Senator responds. Many districts, however, are not being visited or their meetings are cut short because the Congressional Rep or Senator can not  adequately show that s/he is actually listening to his or her constituents.

But the majority of the people remain silent. Can you explain to me why?

One reader said I am asking too much of people to expect them to comment. Okay, here goes: don’t comment to me.  Get involved. Turn off the television and go out into your community. Get involved. Only by your actions will you be known.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

 

 

 


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Why Argue Instead of Doing Research?

Time and again we see hints that many people have lost….or perhaps never developed….critical thinking skills. We can blame schools or families, but once a person reaches adulthood, the choice is theirs.

If you don’t know how to cook, watch some cooking videos or read a cookbook. If you don’t know how to put together that IKEA desk, go to Youtube. If you don’t know how to research something, there are plenty of instructions available.

Yes, it is easier to learn something when you are young. But if you want to improve the way you present yourself to the world, you can learn new tricks. Unless you prefer to be stuck in place.

Example: one of my friends on Facebook has a family member who often joins in the conversation. I have been warned time and again not to bother interacting with him; that he is a troll. However, I come from a long line of do-gooders and I am pretty stubborn. I think almost anyone is redeemable…..if they show willingness to learn.

The thread got into Trump’s promise to bring back coal. No one contributing to the conversation had lived in West Virginia but since I had, and because I had had a meaningful conversation about coal with a mining engineer at one of my son’s cross country meets, I shared that exchange.

The information I shared is easily verified by countless articles posted to the Internet. However, the troll chose to tell me what I said was hearsay and he would just wait and see what Trump does to help the coal miners.

The legal definition of heresay fits, but the common definition does not. scan_20170303

Since we were not in court, why the hesitation to accept what I offered?  It took me less than 3 minutes to find and read an article from a reliable source about the causes of the decline in the coal industry in West Virginia.

He either had no interest in agreeing with anything anyone says or he has no desire to do research.

Either he enjoys his role of being a dissenter in the context of the Facebook discussion or he is unable to learn anything new.

He is only one of many many people who exhibit similar behavior.  Think of your own habits. Do you agree or disagree with something based on the information presented or do you bother to take a few minutes to research independently?

I consider my time on Facebook to be “free time”. In other words, I CAN step away from the conversation to actually verify facts. This is not work. This is not something that is particularly time sensitive.

But what you say and do is your face to the world. Why be a troll?

From Wikipedia: In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community  with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional responseor of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.troll-stupid
If a person chooses this behavior willingly, he certainly is not worth my effort to “teach”.


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Okay…So Now I Know

Have you ever wondered how you are going to die?

Back in the late 1960s my father’s sister developed breast cancer. If you are old enough, you probably remember that cancer was so horrific with few cures in those days that most people never said the word. It was the Big C. If it was uttered, it was in a whisper. Watching her decline, I assumed I would get breast cancer.

My mom and all her side of the family died from issues related to heart disease. No doubt in my mind that I have a genetic disposition for that.

I am not a morbid person. This is not anything that fills my waking hours with dread. I am not afraid of dying; I just have a lot of living yet to do, so I don’t want to go before my time. But recently, very recently, I have been staring at a new death option.  And it makes me angry.

With the threats/promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans in our lives have also threatened and promised to kill 20 to 30 million people in this nation. We, the ones with the death sentences, are your neighbors and your family members.

Why will we die?  In my case, I  will suffocate.  I have chronic asthma. It is well maintained with two medicines that currently cost me $100 a month. Their out of pocket cost, without insurance, is close to $1000 a month. Guess what? I can’t afford that.

So, very simply, if Congress in their infinite wisdom think it is more important to destroy the law because it was implemented by Obama, instead of fixing it (good luck with that if you want to keep the insurance companies in charge, but that’s another story and blog) I will die.

So now the question is, will you also die?  Will people you know, people you love, also be murdered by Republicans?  aca-congressional-district

That sounds harsh, but think about it. There are two components in the ACA that help people.  First,  the insurance premium (set by the insurance companies, not the ACA) is reduced based on income. This is part of the benefit that will be removed. The premium I need to pay is $535 a month. Before the reduction, which is based on my income, my premium would be $875 a month.

Secondly, the ACA eliminated discrimination insurance companies had based on pre-existing conditions. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 5 years old. This is a pre-existing condition that before changes in the law meant I had to wait 12-18 months when changing medical insurance companies (because of a change in jobs) to be covered. I was fortunate that my breathing issues were pretty minor until I moved to West Virginia in 2007. The Ohio River Valley is one of the areas in this country with a high cluster of breathing problems. After decades of heavy industrial air pollution and the way the air currents flow, the environment caused a major decline in my ability to breathe. My health issues were covered at the time because of a change in the law back in the 1990s: employer offered health insurance would not have the pre-existing restriction if the employer had more than 100 employees. My husband worked at one of the state universities, so we had a state employee health plan.  So, I was able to be treated for the asthma while we were living there.

But in anticipation of my husband’s retirement, the question of my healthcare once again raised its head. His retirement package included an extension of my health insurance coverage but that would run out before I would become eligible for Medicare. I anticipated a major gap of coverage and was very pleased when the Supreme Court ruled the ACA could be implemented.  And so, I have been able to continue to have insurance. I have written about my lifelong experience with my health insurance coverage in January. I did that not to elicit sympathy but to share what I believe is common situation. Many of us have known people who have had someone with a major illness and our American  healthcare insurance coverage has always been a factor in the rising number of bankruptcies in this country. aca-repeal-gop

When we talk about “millions of people will die” if the Affordable Care Act is repealed the number is hard to understand it. Recently, a health-care analyst broke the statistics down to Congressional districts. In other words, if Congress decides to erase our health care, they will lose this many people (voters)  in their own districts. I now know I am one of almost 80,000 that will be affected in my Congressional District. The difference between me and you? I know my Congresswoman, Suzanne Bonamici is one that is working to keep the program. What about YOUR representative?

Take a look at this effort to provide the information on a scale where we can realize how many of our neighbors will be dead if Congress moves forward on their promise/threat. All because its nickname is Obamacare.

And you know what?  There is a huge group of people in this country who love their health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act but despise Obamacare. Their lack of comprehension is a sign that we have a major problem with people who no longer know how to think. But that’s another blog……

 

 


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They are Making THEIR Choice Known – What’s YOUR Choice?

Back in the late 90s I worked as an administrative assistant in the Vanderbilt Hospital office that maintained the electronic machines that go beep, among other things. One of the technicians had the opportunity to go to a training seminar out of state and was excited about that until he realized he would have to rent a car to get from the airport to the training site. (No uber or lyft in those days.)  He asked if I could arrange to get the department credit card for that expense. I presented his request to the supervisor who had an interesting reaction.

He not only immediately said no, as he was wont to do anytime anyone asked anything “nice” of him, but he then went on a demeaning rant about how anyone could be so inept with their own personal finances that they could not float a $500 expense that might take a month to get reimbursed. He not only had no understanding that not everyone he knew was as financially solvent as he was, but he had no empathetic ability to recognize times may be hard for others and what small thing could he do to help.

As I was myself in severe financial straits at the time dealing with a serious long term illness in the family, I could immediate understand the technician’s situation, and so, went to bat. We got the department credit card, the technician went on his training trip, and all worked out.   But the message hit home. Some people are so narrow in their view of the world that they have NO ability to recognize anyone may be different. And when that different worldview is thrust upon them, they refuse to learn about it, and so more easily want to brush it under the table. Make it disappear.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like that supervisor. Many are in positions of authority as he was, and so exert control with little signs of benevolence. Instead, they are judgmental and their aim to make people causing them problems disappear may not be hidden well.

Years before, sometime in the 1970s I read a book which stayed with me.  Triage by Leonard C. Lewin, published in 1973, was not a best seller and is not a spellbinding page turner but it is a view of a dystopian society where the government and individual corporations make decisions that can and will cause death of “stupid” people, “old” people, “sick” people, “worthless” people.triage-definisiton

triage-bookThe one story I remembered from reading 40+ years ago was about how car manufacturers had come up with a motor that had NO unhealthy emissions and so would eliminate pollution. Sounded great as they they made their presentation to what is clearly recognizable as the EPA until someone finally asked a question they were hoping would go unasked. Simply, the revolutionary motor needed to be started with a proscribed sequence and if not done correctly would blow up. The manufacturers had rejected installing a switch in the car to inhibit imperfect start-up because then they would be accepting responsibility if it failed. The best thing they could offer is that it would only kill the driver who would be showing his lack of intelligence by not following instructions. Passengers would only be injured. The roads would then, they argued, have one less unsafe driver and so driving accident rates could be expected to decrease.

When I went to purchase the book recently to refresh my aging memory the reviews talked about how this is a libertarian viewpoint. Each person is responsible and no paternal oversight should be expected.  I don’t know about that but I do know there is something very much missing in the actions described in the book.

Today we are about three weeks into the new President’s administration and the view from here is one where decisions are being made without much thought about consequences.  It seems like backs are being scratched and the promise to clean up the government by “draining the swamp” is resulting in an exchange of self-interested people with long term experience for people who have paid for their new position and have considerably less experience and a demonstrated predominant display of self interest.triage-decision

I am not inclined to buy into conspiracy theories but it is getting clear even to a Pollyanna like me that something stinks. We The People are not relevant to the people in power.  We WILL be killed off by restricting health insurance, astronomically raising the price of life saving medicine for increased profits,  eliminating environmental protections for water and air, allowing food to have increasing levels of potential carcinogens. Discussions about a new educational policy has not included improving work and life skills nor cognitive reasoning skills. We have been promised that rules restricting businesses will be reduced, thereby helping small business people, but the candidate to run the Labor Department has a long history showing he cares little about wages and work benefits. I fully expect more, not less regulations affecting my own business.

In addition, we are seeing the formation of a shadow administration.   We have a President who has already demonstrated he is unwilling to be informed to make decisions and thereby  relying on his advisers for their input.  In Steven Bannon we have a person who has a history of showing a very narrow definition of who is acceptable.  His advice to the president will ONLY be in their own best interest and those of their cohort.

The rest of us are expendable.  Get ready to play. You’re in the game whether you want to be or not. dice