One of the shortest stops of our tour was the 30 minutes we spent at an information point along the Alaska Pipeline north of Fairbanks. This pipeline has been in operation since 1977 moving oil drilled on the North Slope above the Arctic Circle over 800 miles south to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port. Much of it is shipped onward to the west coast of the US and Canada for processing, but about 10% of the crude is refined at three small refineries in Alaska. ( https://www.akbizmag.com/industry/oil-gas/where-does-all-that-oil-go/)
The pipeline provides lots of jobs. Beyond the jobs that were available when the pipeline was being built, today, maintenance and security are directly related. In addition, trucks provide continual supply, which means supplemental employment along the highway route for stores, restaurants, lodging, and more.
While many Alaskans support increasing drilling, even inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-it-time-to-drill-in-the-arctic-refuge/majority-of-alaskans-agree-with-drilling-in-anwr), most support relates to the income from the pipeline. Now with the Russian oil no longer being imported, the cry from people throughout the nation to increase drilling production is gaining noise and increasing the flow of oil from the North Slope seems to be the answer of choice by many people. However, the best industry projections indicate that additional Alaska crude would have a minimal potential of reducing gasoline prices at the pump. Environmental concerns are brushed away by indicating the care already taken elsewhere on the North Slope. However, environmental concerns are expressed by others to specify that the Refuge is the home for huge herds and sustains the indigenous population. Introducing intense industrial activity will disrupt all of that. (https://www.wilderness.org/wild-places/alaska/oil-drilling-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge) We see here the age-old decision-making process about the value of resources and who has the power to influence any changes.
I just filled up my gas tank and while I was not pleased to see the cost was over $45, I drive a Prius that gets about 50mpg and I will not gas up again for several weeks. I made my choice several car purchases ago. Even a decade ago, the writing was clearly on the wall that our environmental costs were going to kill us all, sooner or later. As long as we keep acting like we need to use up the earth and all its resources, I suppose we will….and the challenge will come sooner for our grandchildren than we hope.
Back when my older two kids graduated high school, my mom asked me to plan a trip for her to take them to Alaska as a celebration of their achievement. I refused, declaring that any vacation to the 49th State would have to include me. And that is how I ended up in Alaska with a vanload of family members for a few weeks one summer a few decades ago.
I knew one day I would return. The grandeur of the mountains. The breaching of a whale. The light at 10pm at night. The distances with dramatic long views. All told me that there was much more to experience in Alaska.
The desire to see the Northern Lights has to be weighed against the fact that they are only visible when it is dark and summer nights are not dark in Alaska. The time to visit is the REST of the year, with December through February the prime time because of the length of the arctic night.
But it is cold. Way colder than any place I have lived. I knew my winter boots MIGHT be adequate but that was the only outerwear I owned that I could trust. Since the right kind of clothing could add up to over a thousand dollars and we would not have any use for it after the trip, I was very pleased to learn that rental clothing rated to -20F or -40F was available. And now that I have had the experience to FEEL -22F, I can let you know it is worth the expense. The only complaint I could say is that when I got myself all zipped in and fully covered, if we hung around inside, sweat happened. Good clothes.
Graham and I flew into Fairbanks. There are a few areas in the northern hemisphere where Aurora Borealis tourism excels and Fairbanks is the stepping off point for many of them.
I had long heard that if you want to see the aurora borealis, you better plan three opportunities. And sure enough, our first night was cloudy. We enjoyed a salon dinner in a yurt that is 100% off the grid. Nice company and okay food, but no sky view.
The next day, evening we were back at the yurts and our guide and our host informed us that something unexpected was happening: it was early (9:30pm) and the show had already started. For those of you who followed our trip on Facebook, you already know I needed to take a day to analyze the experience.
The third night we went in a different direction to a hot springs resort at Chena. That evening, there was a small burst of color around 8:30, but nothing much. Yet, on the 2-hour ride back to Fairbanks, the driver and I noticed a lot of wide towers of lights through the trees. Whenever he hit one of his safe parking areas, the show was not happening, tho.
We spent some time early in the third day wandering into shops and lucked into an artists coop. There, one piece of fused glass kept calling for my attention…and surprise, surprise, it followed us home. I felt it was a beautiful and pretty accurate depiction of what we saw our second night.
What is a bucket list? Simply, a list of desired things to do or see before you kick the proverbial bucket. And I really don’t remember when I added the aurora borealis to my list; it just always has been something I wanted to see. And right now, I can’t name another item. Although there are lots of things I still want to see and do, none reaches this level of intense desire. Well, maybe Barcelona……
There is an ad that runs sometimes between the games on my iPhone. It is a magic pill to reduce fat. Presented on Shark Tank, it raises so much excitement! Promises no side effects and will drop as much as 30 pounds in just a couple of weeks. No side effects. (Yes, I’m repeating myself.) And no diet or exercise needed. This is pure magic and the kind all of us who have struggled with our weight dream about.
And I am sorry, but I don’t believe it. I certainly do NOT believe the “no side effects”.
Why? Because I was intrigued by an FDA-approved drug that offered to help me lose weight. I needed to eat a nonfat diet and this medicine would get rid of all the fat in my body. No one in the doctors office and nowhere on the literature (yes, I read the small print stuff on medication I am going to put into my body-don’t you?) indicated that there would be THESE side effects.
I took those pills for 2 weeks and it took my body 6 months to stop….leaking. I was better prepared than a man would be to capture the oil essence leaving my nether regions, thank goodness for panty liners.
So, now that you have been possibly grossed out, let me inform you that the FDA did remove approval for that medication. But the product presented at Shark Tank does not fall under ANY scrutiny. There is no protocol in place to review supplements for content (yup-you may not be getting what is on the label) or safety.
I’m not advocating for FDA control of supplements, although there is an effort going on to put that in place. What I am trying to say is that while the FDA has a required regimen for approval, they do sometimes go too quickly to approve something that people want. Recently, the approval for a medication for Alzheimer’s is raising concerns by the medical and scientific community. This needs to be watched carefully.
I had exposure to the FDA system to approve medications early in my life. My father worked for ER Squibb & Sons all his working life. After his service in World War II (Pacific and European theaters) he attended City College in New York. It was free in those days, and the GI Bill helped with books and other expenses. He started working for Squibb at their original Brooklyn plant and then moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1948.
The plant made a lot of medicine, and we knew whenever they were preparing penicillin. (My husband Graham talks about the aroma of a regional bread bakery in Dallas, Texas. No question, a more enjoyable smell.) Dad worked on a number of projects but I best remember when he worked on flavorings for children’s medicines. He’d bring stuff home to taste (spit it out, don’t swallow it) but it never was chocolate. I tried to persuade him and it wasn’t until I was a parent, that I appreciated that kids were not tempted to overdose on any med just because it was a favorite flavor.
My father spoke with the highest respect for the FDA’s process. And, trusting his experience and judgement, I held that view until the time of the magic weight loss medicine. At the same time, I was working for a respected ophthalmologist in Nashville and he was asked to be on the FDA panel to review all eye medications and surgical procedures being introduced. He never shared details but it was clear to me that there was a lot of arm wrestling between the medical and the pharmaceutical people on the committee sometimes.
So, yes, it became apparent to me that there was some agenda going on. No idea specifically what, but we know that governmental decisions sometimes deal with patronage and not as much with facts.
As the vaccine was being developed to address the COVID-19 infection, it was fascinating to hear how work had started on methods to address the specialized coronavirus formation. As SARS and other coronavirus infections started spreading early in the first decade of this century, work started. This article presents why and how the research started over 10 years ago. Still, even with this head start, it has been amazing to see how so many organizations, research facilities, and pharmaceuticals worked together to try to solve this problem. We had a global threat and competition was set aside for cooperation.
There have been so many technological advances that have happened during my life and my high school science helps me understand just some. With a willingness to read hard words and use other sources to explain things I don’t know, I can get a glimmer of comprehension. I am so appreciative for the people who have additional 8 to 12 years of specialized education and then decades of research and applied science to help determine things beyond my understanding and capability.
To assume I can make my own decision regarding how the virus or the vaccine will affect me, I have to be willing to trust sources I have read. When I read published studies that comply with the scientific process that has worked safely for us for decades, I look to see that the studies are independent. In other words, if the same researcher’s names show up on all my research, I have not researched correctly. I am skeptical enough that one or two or even the same ten people are not enough if they all are saying the same thing. In order to make an informed decision as a lay person without this specialized training, reading must include all viewpoints.
This scientific process may be flawed in part, but without it, studies are merely stories. Anyone presenting advice based only on 10 or 100 patients in a few medical practices is not providing information that is well tested and reasonable for a life-affecting decision.
I understand that there may be other treatments for any number of illnesses that may not be approved by the FDA that are effective. I enjoy the benefits of some unregulated supplements. But you can be very sure that if someone says something is good and the science behind it indicates it is a kind of bleach, I need to know a lot more before I jump into that line. And if the doctors suggesting this concoction was not done in a study by researchers because he is only a clinician, people should really slow down in jumping on this. Everyone really should read what he said after he said the thing they enjoy hearing.
And, final word here: if you eat junk food or if you buy prepared foods at the supermarket without reading the labels, you are showing you are someone’s puppet spouting you don’t know what is in the vaccine so you will not take it. If you truly are concerned about keeping your body healthy, there is a lot of behavior that needs to be considered. Like quitting smoking.
Today, as Graham and I celebrate our 14th anniversary, I ponder the pathways of my relationships. I happily acknowledge that some in my age range are well into 40 or more years of marriage. While I have never experienced this kind of “growing old together” relationship, I have learned a few things.
A lasting relationship is based on respect. I once was married to a man who said things like “There are two kinds of people: math and science people and English and history people. Math and science people are smarter.” and ten minutes later, “Will you please help me write my report?” And ten minutes later, “I hate to write complete sentences. That is so dumb!” I can laugh now, but you who live with someone like this are not laughing. You know.
A lasting relationship is based on some overlap of interests. I learned to cook from my mom and, as soon as they could sit steadily, I positioned my babies on my kitchen counter to participate. Being married to another person who enjoys cooking has given us a common area to explore. If we have a dinner party, we split the workload. If we want to have a fun project, we explore a cuisine we have never attempted before. And, in a day-in-day-out lifestyle, it means the humdrum duty of the family’s meal prep can be shared with no one person burdened day after day to come up with appetizing temptation for all. That sharing of duties, in itself, can save a marriage. And while your partner may not fully understand you, having common interests and activities build other pathways to closeness.
A lasting relationship is based on the knowledge that lust is not the same as love. We crave intimacy. We need touch. We sometimes confuse a satisfactory “itch-scratching session” with another person as a deep emotional bond. Sometimes we rinse and repeat for years before we might swear off sex because it has failed to be THE way to know who to trust. That’s also not a way to find love. It was the long distance of 350 miles that required me to build intimacy with Graham by sharing thoughts, hopes, and dreams; physical touch was of course not possible. It seems to me that most relationships build with talk until we get comfortable enough to move to physical intimacy, but many never take the time to build that emotional intimacy further.
A lasting relationship is based on giving each other space and allowance to improve personal goals. I once was married to an abuser. The short leash was one of the issues that burned hot and made me very aware that the man was an unhealthy partner. I became aware of how important it was to have my own time and space to work on my own interests. A healthy relationship is one where the desire to share time together is balanced with personal time.
A lasting relationship is based on the understanding that each person will always try to bring positives to the relationship. In the human condition, it is reasonable to expect some days don’t go so well. The way each person deals with stressful issues can affect relationships even when the partner has nothing to do with the problem. When one person flows into an emotional whirlwind and only emotes anger or silence, the relationship is in trouble. The other person is buffeted by a storm of emotion and yet, any offer of an ear and an effort to listen tends to diminish over time when that emotional assault is not balanced. Learning to communicate calmly in a time of high emotion is almost impossible. Know when to call for a personal time out and expect your partner to respect that, but get back to the issue. Something swept under the rug and never discussed ends up becoming a mountain that you will trip on again and again.
A lasting relationship is based on wanting a lasting relationship. Bring the best YOU to the relationship. Know what you need and know what you can provide. Talk about that. After failed marriages, I asked Graham “What kind of husband will you be? What kinds of responsibilities will you assume? What kind of time will you give me to nurture our relationship? And then, I asked him what he expected his wife to do and be. He was surprised but then he realized that in failing to think this way before, he also had not discussed with that prior partner what the hopes and expectations were. He understood that while the pathway may not be smooth, at least a basic agreement of roles and responsibilities helps sets some kind of guidelines.
A lasting relationship is based on recognizing that your partner is flawed. No one, even me myself and I, is perfect. After my first two marriages, I recognized I had to do better identifying and analyzing those personality traits of my partner that might irritate me. Sure enough, it does not eliminate my feeling of annoyance, but it does wake me up to the realization that I had recognized and analyzed it and decided it was not “too big a deal.” So, it is not fair for me to pitch a fit at this late date. There are ways to present a way to help reduce any irritant, of course. Knowing how to talk calmly about sensitive issues is so helpful.
So, here we are at FOURTEEN. For me, I am close to my 17 with a prior husband, but there it was 7 good years and 10 dying with cancer years, so in a way, I am “ahead” at this point. I like to also think I am “ahead” with the way Graham and I have learned to talk about uncomfortable things and while there will always be “something”, I do have high confidence that we will continue to walk together in a lasting relationship.
We are all guilty. Right now it is so easy for me to look at YOUR behavior, your opinions, and know how you need to change your ways. I suspect you have the same thoughts about me.
I read articles bashing Trump and the people who followed him. And the ones who STILL are supporting him. There are two things here.
NUMBER ONE: I know I was not the only person who had observed Trump’s behavior as a real estate developer and reported he is a flawed business person very early in the 2016 campaign process. If one reason people were going to support him was that he flashed a lot of gold and said he was successful, lots of other people pointed out the bankruptcies and sleazy practices of not paying subcontractors, causing small businesses to fail. The choices made during site selections in his business gave a view to how he feels unconcerned about people and how his actions affect them. We knew Trump without even studying him deeply. We warned you. You had already stopped listening…and analyzing. You made excuses. They didn’t make sense then (My favorite is “They were business bankruptcies, not personal ones.”) You chose this. You own it. You now are dealing with it in ways I can’t even imagine.
NUMBER TWO: As long as we see that arrested white demonstrators and rioters are treated significantly differently from demonstrators in BLM actions last summer, we understand there is a long road ahead of us. We are beginning to hear words of apology and something else. I don’t know, it may be my ears as well as their words, but the message is just not contrition. Claiming to have been conned will, at best, provide the grounds to recognize these people are not capable of analytical thought and should be removed from ANY and ALL leadership positions. Special educational sessions, call them civics, call them therapy, seem to be needed.
In other places and times, including now and here on Earth, there are camps that have been set up to “retrain” people who “need” retraining. These are prisons. Not what I am talking about.
We have lost our sense of community. I hate saying Mom may have been right when she moaned in the 1970s “This ‘Do Your Own Thing’ movement is going to bite us someday” but Mom, I’m ready to concede that one to you. We broke some of the social conventions in the 1960s and we still have many more to free, but what has resulted is a cacophony to many.
Instead of hearing all the beautiful individual voices of any given group, many hear the overstimulation of too much choice. Their longing for the “good old days” simply means that recognition of so much new stuff to learn is hard and they are being stubborn. (Sorry. Just think back to how many hours kids would be able to play if they did not fight the concept of getting homework done first and you’ll get the point.)
Back in the days when I was walking grocery store aisles, it was often fun to see someone staring at the shelves, trying to decide which of the many options was the exact right one to provide that perfect taste note for them. My wicked side usually would offer a wide arm sweep as a suggestion, but choice, as delightful as it can be, is really really hard for some people. Just the act of CHOSING results in stress.
So, to make that one choice, many people lock down hard. And refuse to go back to the grocery store to try another brand when they find a sour taste in their mouth. Oh, they often forget to read the label, too, to check for ingredients that may not sit well in their gut.
Since the political turmoil ratcheted up during Obama’s tenure as President, I have often wondered how we would function if all political parties were disbanded. All of our voter registrations become “unaffiliated”. Campaigning is limited to a period of time of 6 weeks before each election day. Primaries are coordinated to be held one day nationally. Campaign spending is limited to $10,000 for localities, $50,000 for state races and $5 million for national races. That’s it. Chose your marketing carefully.
Let them tell us who they are in 6 weeks. Clearly. Answering questions until those questions stop because people feel they finally heard what they needed to. Include fact-checkers that have been accepted by all BEFORE it all begins. If someone is found to be lying, they get a warning. The second time, they lose 10 percentage points in the voting. Hahaha, I doubt that can happen, but it will be what hurts them, isn’t it? What do you think? Convince me: yes or no?
We are seeing posturing in Congress to protect re-election options. Those people are not serving their constituents. They are serving themselves. I have mixed feelings about term limits because some serving do seem capable of staying on their message long-term. Bernie is one example. West Virginia loved their Byrd. Understanding that there are certain benefits to congressional reps building relationships with other people across the country or, ever hopefully, across the aisle, we need to permit them some bit of time more than the minimum of two years. Why not a two-term limit for each house? Convince me: yes or no?
We ALL believe we understand what this nation needs.
We ALL are fools.
Since when have YOU fixed a problem that even began to approach this magnitude? You know that uncle at your Thanksgiving table you can’t talk with? If you can’t talk to him, you think you can talk to soemone even more adamant they are right?
And it’s not HIS fault. It is HIS fault. It is also YOUR fault. And it’s also not YOUR fault.
It is ALL of OUR failures.
“When they go low, we go high.” Nope, that didn’t work.
“Just say no.” Nope, that didn’t work.
Your C is high school biology (what? you never even took biology but you think you understand DNA?) does NOT provide you with any expertise to correct anyone else’s understanding.
Your medical degree from the school of hard knocks does not qualify you to tell me public health experts are wrong.
There has been a lot on us. Eight years of an African-American President was enough for some people. Four years of an orange-toned President was also enough for some people. A highly infectious new illness that is still confusing doctors was also more than enough for millions of people. We are not the same as we used to be.
ALL of us.
If you think you are fine, trust me on this: you’re not and please go to the front of the line to get help.
My best advice is to go home, listen. Read. Turn the channel! Read another aspect. Think. Calm yourself.
Let the people who need to act out with high energy to destroy, rip apart, tear down get it out of their system.
Then, if you can demonstrate behavior control and a calm tone of voice, we can start to work. Ready? Don’t come and join the workers until you are ready to roll up your sleeves. This will take all of us.
We have a revolution happening in my family. One of my adult children is now houseless, by choice. And she is working and healthy without any bad habits, so what is going on?
What has happened is the result of thoughtful decisionmaking: how she and her partner choose to spend their hard-earned money. They also have a very different view of what they want in their life than I had developed at the same point in my life, and they are wiser in many ways. They want to make sure that “work-life” balance looks more like “work<life”. They want to enjoy their lives. They are outdoor enthusiasts and being able to work hard and then take time off and play hard is their joy. Dropping $2000 a month for a bedroom and shared kitchen, living room, and bathroom is not their idea of what is important.
Instead, after a minor minivan rearrangement for sleeping on trips, they seriously started looking for a Sprinter van and converted it for living and trekking. After a year or so, they had some better ideas, sold that one and are now in the middle of renovation on the next Sprinter van.
While this is “tiny house” living in an even smaller space, this is not an inexpensive project. Electrical provided three ways, clean and dirty storage for water/etc, insulation to keep it comfortable in heat and cold, all the cooking and food storage and prep requirements, this time a composting toilet and a shower arrangement, a platform for comfortable sleeping (he is 6’2″) while providing storage underneath for bicycles and more. This new home is jam-packed with all that will be needed.
I was asked to help with window coverings. Let me add this right here: I can sew but my skills are limited to “nothing fancy” and I also knew that they deserved something better than “mommy” level sewing, as this is definitely becoming a business for them. I told her I would go slowly…..and I did. I also only needed help from the sewing machine technician twice…..the machine will get tuned up after this and prior to the next big similar project. Live….and learn.
One more aspect to understand about van living: most areas do not have permitted areas for parking overnight. This is part of one of the societal changes we need to adjust as more and more people are forced to live houseless because of the current economy. So, those window coverings need to address the issue of privacy, of course, but also for stealth living as well as basic insulation. The windows must be covered tightly so no light escapes. We use rare earth magnets to hold the panels to the metal on the window frames.
First, Lisa carefully drew templates for each window with heavy paper. Some windows shapes were similar, but some of those had minor differences. For example, the front passenger and driver windows have the same shape but are reverse images.
Then, she obtained and roughly cut out the sizes needed for the insulation. This is batting with a heavy fabric on one side and about an inch of the loft of the insulation. She labeled them appropriately for each window (i.e., R2 for the 2nd window on the right) which helped me understand where each belonged. I then could take the rough cut and, using each window template, trim to the exact size and shape needed.
Lisa and Josh live in California. I’m in Oregon. Fabric selection was next. They came through heading to the Olympic National Park to trek and we hit one of Portland’s major fabric stores. Carefully, and thank goodness Lisa has a head for numbers and organization, she and the cutter helped me by cutting each window panel section piece, instead of just giving me the raw yardage and me trying to figure out the cutting. We needed decorative fabric for the interior side and plain fabric for the side that would face the windows and show from the outside.
We bought a lot of fabric. I found some seam binding there and ordered more online, obtained thread that was the perfect color, and got started.
My first step was to sort all the pieces so I had each window’s components together: the pattern, the batting, the plain fabric, the decorative fabric.
Then, I sewed pouches for all the magnets. By placing them in pouches that are attached to the material, the magnets will stay in place. Magnet pouches were placed in corners and along long straight edges.
Next, the seam bindings and the magnet pouches were sewed to the plain panel.
Then, placing the insulated batting and the decorative fabric in place appropriately, pinned closely, the topstitching on the seam binding edge closes the window panel.
In preparation for their next trekking adventure, a raft trip down the Colorado River in January, Josh and Lisa zipped through Oregon in an effort to hook up with a friend to learn some river rapids reading skills. We met them at an REI where they picked up one more needed item and brought the two window coverings I had completed. We identified issues I knew, others that needed attention, and I brought those two panels home to rehabilitate.
One point was the small round magnets, as strong as they seem to be, are compromised a bit with the fabric. We ordered more magnets, this time rectangles, that will more easily attract to the car metal frame. We hope.
They will be coming back for another river lesson in a few weeks. That will be the time to see if I am part of the next Sprinter van conversion or not. Photos to follow!
I’m having trouble writing in a calm tone today…there are just so many things going on that are hollering for something better.
The son of a friend, a chef in his 30s with a young son and loving wife, in good health, died suddenly at home this week.
The niece of a friend, together with 2 other high school friends, went for a ride together and all are now dead, thrown from the vehicle despite seatbelts.
The President is taken to Walter Reed Hospital because of a positive COVID infection and now, a few days later, says he is feeling better and planning to return to the White House. No one has said he is testing negative, of course. Everyone understands that this is way too early in the illness for him to be “better” but no one is adult enough to contradict him and order him back to bed. It’s gotten to a point that nothing that is announced from the White House can be considered truthful and reliable.
The desire for making a personal choice the highest rule of the land seems to stop people from noticing the strong correlation between unmasked events and infection outbreaks. Can you say Spring Break? How about Sturgis? And one recent superspreader event, the Rose Garden announcement? Can you notice people not thinking?
A candidate in a local election against an incumbent who has provided good service has been identified as an enforcer for compliance with rules of the Church of Scientology. Can she even serve equitably when so few are in agreement with her church policies? What is her real reason for running?
Another candidate for public office campaigned really hard to fight for a DEQ air quality sensor here in our city because perhaps someday there might be a reason to expand to automobile emission testing. So, during our wildfire season we have no way to know our local air quality, but must extrapolate the data from sensors 25-40 miles away. This man is proud of the way he “protected” us from maybe fees in the future and sees no reason why anyone needs to know if the air is unsafe.
Some people on various Facebook pages dedicated to food processing don’t even read any recipes when they start putting food into jars. The questions indicate a complete lack of any understanding about the food safety requirements.
A lot of people on freeze-drying Facebook group pages are thrilled about the candy they are processing, saying they eat it as fast as they preserve it because it tastes so good.
I can’t help but notice on trash day that my neighbors have a lot of take-out boxes and piles of plastic overflowing their large bin. I wish I could help them reduce their monthly bill to Recology by teaching them how to sort their trash at the very least and then to refuse all the single-use plastic next.
Recent surveys of the US population reveal that about a third of people are tuned into Qanon and hoping that yes, we will be rescued by aliens and all will be announced in October, no, wait, now the big reveal is in March. Stay tuned, obviously.
Other surveys of the American population disclose that about half are now drinking or drugging daily. As personal ownership of weapons rises, most new gunowners are not taking any safety instructions, and assaults at home are rising.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering why we are even trying to maintain a “normal” educational curriculum right now. This is the time to introduce Life 101 to include lessons on growing food, cooking and preserving; on sewing and ironing and doing laundry; on car maintenance; on household maintenance; on general small electrical repairs; on art and music and dance. This is the time for those of us close to the coast to teach about tides and sealife, including time for beach cleanup and plastic trash collection. Others can do to nearby rivers and streams and learn about the difference in those ecosystems. This is the time for matching older teenagers with adults who are working in a field that the youngster has expressed interest.
This is also the time for a huge survey of homes here in our town to identify which are not fully occupied. Those homes occupied by one or two elderly people who no longer can easily do the maintenance required may benefit from a match with a younger person or couple who can rent a room and provide some younger energy for daily life. Those homes that are sitting vacant may be able to be added to a housing program for people who currently can not afford to pay for indoor housing.
This is also the time for neighbors to join together to plan their 2021 gardens, so participating families can grow different foods to share with all in their circle. This is the time to arrange for seeds and jars and lids before the seasonal requirements run the stores empty.
We can’t sit in the doldrums. We have too much good work to do to help raise everyone.
I admit it. There have been times in the past when I looked at my ballot and realized I had NO idea about the candidate. I had not read anything about that person nor the one running opposite. How was I to choose?
How about you?
Do you just vote for a name just because it is familiar? It’s familiar because of massive advertising, perhaps. The issue of money in campaign marketing and how elections have changed significantly since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision comes up each cycle, but when money from outside the state is injected into local elections, the issue becomes of even greater concern. Do we want people who live in another place in the world influencing our life in small rural towns?
Suppose you see some tv personality is running for office? We have a number of politicians who achieved popular appeal because they were in your face daily or weekly or at the box office. You are comfortable with them; after all, you invited them into your home on a regular basis as an entertainer. At what point do you begin to think that entertainment equals competency in other areas? Can you even speak about that candidate’s stand on issues?
Some of these people have had a surprising ability to be thoughtful and careful in their representation of the people who elected them. Unfortunately, most of the others just continue on their way without much effort at learning things that were outside their scope of experience. We can easily name several of these in both political parties. And you voted for them? Because you saw them on tv? Really?
We have a new face on the local political scene. She is presenting herself to the public as a candidate for mayor and has been doing an amazing job marketing herself on social media with lots of posts, mainly supporting local restaurants and shops around town. She also started presenting the state’s daily infection report and very mixed messages about compliance with the governor’s mask-wearing order. Her following is growing. Comments are glowing, lauding her for being “fantastic”. But there is no direction being given. And no one says specifically what is so “fantastic” about her other than she volunteered to pick up trash, as many others do in Mac.
She has recently offered a survey with restricted choices to see what people’s attitudes are about “bullying”, possibly because she is beginning to feel “bullied”. Most people will feel the survey is great, but the survey is poorly designed and does not offer a full range of responses nor permit any comments from anyone.
And no solutions offered But that is not even the most important thing people need to recognize this coming campaign.
Between the pandemic and the civil rights demonstrations, many of us recognize that there are things that MUST be fixed, such as equal access to affordable health care as well as equal access to affordable housing. And yet, a whole segment of this city feels anyone who is needy is flawed, but NIMBY is just not going to be a viable option any longer. (Even the current administration recognizes that as bankruptcies and foreclosures occur, the number of people who will become houseless will be rising over 45% next year. Abd the current administration, being who is in charge, is doing nothing to prepare for that.) This coming influx was not caused by anything any government official did either here in McMinnville, Yamhill County, nor the state of Oregon. We need leadership to help us come together to help our neighbors.
In the coming months, we have a real choice, people. We can continue narrowing what is acceptable and end up with a community that has chosen to fail.
Or we can stop right now and agree there are times like now, in the midst of several crises, that we MUST pull together to survive.
What are we waiting for? Your action is needed. Your vote counts.
I think ALL of us can agree on one thing: our American society is sick right now. So much finger pointing is going on about the causes, but there are some truths that can’t be ignored.
One is on male anger: our young boys are taught to “man up”, to suppress their natural dismay and fear and unhappiness and learn to be stoic. And the hurts build up until it festers. Some people turn inward and we have a lot of teen depression and anxiety. Others, unfortunately, turn outwards and access a way to strike out. Such are mass murderers nurtured…..and it is all of us who parented that one. Because we are part of the society that encourages this way of raising boys. Today there was another shooting in Texas with 5 dead and 21 injured..and it was a young white male who is the (now dead) suspected perp.
The other is white male privilege. I read an opinion piece I urge you to read. It’s long and you might want to close it down. I urge you, instead, to read it in bits. Take it in. Share it. It may not resonate with you but when I read it, I had a few insights of enlightenment. Perhaps you can, too.
It is apparent to anyone who is not a white male that the white guys have access to many things that people of color and women generally have to work harder to achieve. And we know pay scales are different. We know perception of why people act the way they do is different based on color and gender. This article develops the historic reasons why.
The ONLY time I ever was close to a position that the white males of the USA enjoy was the summer of 1972 when I went to Israel. It took a few weeks there when it hit me: most people around me were Jewish. It was the first time in my life that I was in the majority. I was no longer an “other”.
While I had entered the identifiable group, I was only on the fringe because I did not have the language nor a lot of the modern cultural knowledge, but, once learned, I would be there. I propose to you to consider the experience you had when you visited the country where your family’s heritage is based. You may not been able to speak (fluently) in that language and you would not know the day-to-day societal norms, but you could learn them if you immersed. If you have never gone to the “old country” nor ever really learned any ethic cooking, dances, or stories, if your family has lost its cultural heritage and you just “know” you are part Irish, for example, you probably will not be able to access this point of insight. It is NOT the feeling you get when you are on your 5th green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and just looovveeee everyone in the bar.
That feeling of “belonging” to a group that is in the majority and has a strong voice in the society gave me a sense of calm……and I had not recognized prior that I was otherwise anxious. That anxiety increased greatly when I lived in the Bible Belt and was very definitely an “other” much more than when I grew up in the ethically and culturally diverse New York metropolitan area.
So, without even going into the God-given rights as discussed in Christianity and the Cult of Trump, I could see that white men subconsciously feel safe. Since they have been the predominate group, they have the power. And when I felt for the experience I had, the feeling of being IN the group in Israel, I could finally grasp just what white male privilege is.
Part of the pushback by angry white men MIGHT be because it sounds like they are being considered “inferior” because of skin color and that is an impossibly hard concept to swallow (and yes, ironic as hell). No, it’s not your skin color……it is your attitude. But your skin color gave you access and so your attitude is that everyone has equal access, which is not true. Once you wake up to the difference, we can begin the job of healing this society.
The second insight I received reading this article was related to religion. As you know, I am Jewish but married to a Christian. For twelve years I have been attending church with him, learning about the stories and practices of this faith. And what I have learned has taught me that Jesus was all about teaching love by actions. He tried to simplify things, since people then like people now seem to have issues with reading long and deep. He acknowledged the Ten Commandments but basically said it comes down to treating others the way you want to be treated. That really should be simple enough for people to understand….but it is not.
I told my husband I would go to church with him but only as long as people respected me. His answer, “If they don’t, we’re in the wrong place.” So I was embraced by people at Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado for my introduction. The people at Huntington, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church asked especially for me to participate in study groups because my point of view would be different and would lead to more interesting discussion. Now in McMinnville, Oregon at McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, a blended Lutheran-Methodist church, I am participating in actions to help the community and even though I am not baptized, I am recognized as a full member of the congregation.
Simply, the exposure I have had to Christianity has lead me to understand that we are all imperfect but should be striving to BE LIKE JESUS.
In contrast, the Christianity I saw on full display living in the Bible Belt was, for the most part, significantly different. When I first moved to Nashville in 1975 I was greeted “Hello! Welcome to Nashville! What church do you belong to?” in one continuous breath. Sunday mornings were the best time to go grocery shopping (except the beer was inaccessible until noon, not a big problem for me.) because people either were in church or sleeping in; basically not going out in public if not at church so not to be identified as “one of those”. It also was when I learned not to expect to schedule anything on Wednesday night, as many had midweek church suppers at the very least.
So, if they were so tuned into church life, why was there so much anger towards “others”?
I worked for 18 months (way too long) in an office in Vanderbilt Medical Center where the electronic medical equipment was repaired and kept running at peak efficiency. The assistant director was a guy in his late 30s who proudly told me he was an elder in his church. He also told me that all the other people who thought they were Christian were not. He belonged to the XYZ Christian Church and others went to Southern Baptist or Church of Christ or some other denomination without “Christian” in their name. Ergo, they were not Christian. He said all this with a straight face.
This same guy stumbled into work bleary-eyed one morning shortly after his second child had been born. I asked if the baby had kept him up. No, it was another problem. At his church. Apparently, one of the Sunday School teacher positions had to be filled and the congregation had been asked for volunteers. Two men had offered but they just could not be considered. Why? He was hesitant to speak it….I wondered if he knew his indoctrination was not quite right and that caused him distress? He finally said that the two guys were “a couple.” I responded with “What’s the problem?” He was shocked I didn’t automatically “get it” and asked “Would you want one of THEM teaching your kids?” I kept calm and asked him if the Sunday School has a curriculum that the teachers use to teach the religious training they want the kids to get. Yes. I asked if any of the curriculum included getting naked and touching each other. NO!!! “Well, then,” I repeated, “what’s the problem?” He stomped away in frustration. (I seriously hated using that argument because it feeds the convoluted concept that homosexuals are pedophiles even as we hear at LEAST once a month about some ordained Christian minister being caught in incest or some other inappropriate act with a minor. And THAT gets no discussion so it really is a GREAT example of white male privilege.)
The next morning the boss stumbled in again and I played coy and again asked if the baby was ok. Yes,….it was “the other thing.” Turned out, after kids were asleep and his wife also and he was just drifting off he clearly heard a deep resonant voice (James Earl Jones?) “Love your brother!” And a few seconds later, it was repeated, “Love your brother!” I asked him if God had ever talked to him before and he slowly said ” noooo”. So then I told him the message was pretty clear…..and was he going to approve hiring the two volunteers for the teaching spot. He didn’t want to. So, I pushed a bit, “But God told you to LOVE YOUR BROTHER and I think God would be okay if you just let him teach the class.”
I have no idea what eventually happened there. I would prefer to think that those guys found a better church family, one that could respect and love them as Christ taught. (Is it considered teaching if teh lesson is not learned?) But this was only one of many many incidents related to the need to make everyone believe the same that I experienced and for many, I was the one they were trying to change.
These experiences, when compared to the ones I have had at the churches where I attended, have been significantly different and when Miguel A. De La Torre wrote in his essay Christianity and the Cult of Trump, he mentioned that Christianity as practiced in the South IS different from Christianity practiced elsewhere in the USA.
I want to interject that I know there are “liberal” churches in the South, just as there are “conservative” churches throughout the country. In the 21 years that I lived in Tennessee I had five active Christian friends who walked the walk and loved me as I am with no “need” to fix me. And I have also met others in other areas of the country who very much want to “save” me.
The point Mr.De La Torre wrote and I sensed is that when a culture has a majority population with a similar mindset, it influences the mores of the area. So, with a pervasive attitude in the Bible Belt that the fundamentalist spin is the ONLY right way to Christ, it makes everyone else an “other”. That means the unchurched, the nonChristians, and so many others need to be fixed or made to leave.
I very much felt like an “Other” in the South and there are a few people around me that may try also. Because white men essentially run this nation and the conservative Christian church has learned how to make their voice heard, we are all immersed in this struggle. The first step is to stop denying it.