goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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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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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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Why I Bother

I just finished helping make phone calls for a local candidate running for state office. It’s early in the campaign season so I only had one rude person on the other end of the phone. Based on my experience when this candidate ran two years ago, it will get worse the closer we get to November’s election day. People get pretty sick and tired of all the campaigning that goes on, especially this year with a Presidential election. phone bank

So why do I bother to put myself in a position for potential abuse?  First, I don’t take any of it personally.  I’ve had enough sales training in prior chapters of my life to know an upbeat voice (have a smile on your face) can make a big difference in how you sound to the other person. But still, calling at supper time, in the middle of a family crisis, following someone’s bad day means many won’t answer the call and if they do, they may be short tempered. Not a big deal.

I do it because I like the candidate. I think he is a good person making a tremendous effort to reach out and really listen to the constituents. When he lost by a narrow margin against the incumbent 18 months ago he said he would run again, and essentially he has never stopped. He got even more involved in the community and people on all sides of the issues know him better now. They know him to be someone who will listen and search for the commonalities.  THAT is a huge reason why I support him.good listening

I do it because I agree with the candidate.  Before I felt comfortable to work on his campaign I actually spoke with him and heard him speak at a small group meeting. I saw how he listened and interacted. I learned how he did additional research and how his position on that issue matured based on what the person had brought to his attention. I liked his viewpoint but I also liked the way he never assumed he knew the answer right off the bat.

I do it because good candidates are hard to identify. Certainly you can’t tell from the advertising on tv or what you get in the mail. Everyone sounds pretty similar, all promising to fix problems. But whose problems? How will they fix them?  Many candidates seem to run on generalities or flip flop depending on their audience. It is amazingly wonderful to find someone who has a good moral compass and is genuinely interested in what people have to say, and be willing to learn from that person’s  experience.

I do it because in a local contest my action makes a tremendous impact. Sure, I have a favorite Presidential candidate but any effort I could make would be a drop in that national bucket. Here, in our state representative district, I can really have an influence on sharing my feelings about this candidate to others AND sharing my opinions with him.

So, if you live in this state house district and I call you about Ken Moore, please feel comfortable to chat with me. Even if you are angry about issues, please share. We have someone who wants to do what he can to help.Moore-for-Oregon-logo-final2

People who chose to not get involved, to never really learn about their elected representatives in any level of government, who may not even vote, are losing out on a tremendous freedom. It is our responsibility to be involved. We The People means each one of us.

 

 


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Almost There

fishing-hooks1My sister, upon hearing the story, asked repeatedly, “Didn’t you know then?”  No, no and no. When a scam artist, especially one who has been operating for over 40 years plays you, you are hooked on his line. Nothing stands out to wave a red flag. I’m mixing metaphors but you get the picture.

I think I told the story already but I’ll recap it: To get ready for our move from West Virginia to Oregon we scheduled a trip a month before we expected to make the big move. We connected with a realtor in McMinnville, explaining we wanted to rent for a year to be sure we were in the right place before purchasing a house. We asked her to help make the appointments for the 10 or so properties I had pulled from Craigslist and that we would work with her in a year when we would buy something.  She assured us she would help.

But she never called any of the properties so we only got into the one that I had called directly. We met the owner there on a Sunday afternoon. We had gone to the church we expected to attend that morning , so we were dressed nicely. Another family with three small children also were at the house. Graham and I looked at each other, figuring we were the better risk; the rental would be ours.  And sure enough, he offered to get it ready for us in the month and I wrote him a check for first, last and security, about $2450.

About three weeks later Graham was knocked out of his chair when he read the online edition of the Portland newspaper that it had been a rental scam. Two friends met and each shared the exciting news that their adult kid was renting a house nearby…it was exciting until they shared the address. And then they went to the police.fraud-alert1

Okay, I’m not recapping, so I’ll shorten it now. Jerry was caught. His name was different than he had told us. He went to jail, posted bail. Court hearings were held bi-monthly to try to arrange full restitution to all victims. Each month his attorney reported some inability to follow through. The judge told him the next hearing it was put up the money or go to a jury trial. Jerry did not show up.  When he was apprehended he was put in jail with a bail too high to pay. And there he sat.

In the fall we were notified that there was real person involved with the name we had been given for the check and we appeared in court for that person’s plea bargain hearing. He is out on probation and is supposed to pay full restitution but golly gee, can’t get a job.  We’re not holding our breath.

So today was Jerry’s plea bargain hearing. He was facing a jury trial so a plea bargain was at least a known. A jury of his peers may have thrown a heavier book at him after all.

So, now Jerry is going to prison for 11 years. The $15,000 bond will be prorated to all the victims, as it is not the full amount that needs to be repaid.  The rest of the outstanding money will be supposedly  paid when Jerry gets out of prison (and gets a job hahahahaha). Of course, the other guy is supposed to pay restitution, so perhaps he will be able to since the amount he will be responsible for will be lower.light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel

So, that is the story…not quite finished. But at least almost there. I want to share a couple of impressions I got sitting in court listening to pleas and sentencing about six times in the past 15 months.

We have a lot of people in our society who want what they want when they want it. They don’t think about making a plan to achieve a goal. Hell, they probably make few if any long term goals. They don’t think about how their actions affect anyone else…until they get caught. I heard a lot of apologies, even from sociopathic Jerry. Yeah, he’s sorry. He’s sorry he got caught.

The judge today was a new person. I liked her. She talked loudly and clearly and simply. She told the person what she thought, good bad or indifferent. She told Jerry she didn’t believe he would ever learn anything but perhaps, in prison, his effort to scam people would be limited to others in prison. The prior judges had seemed to be way too lenient setting up an action plan after listening to the defendant’s sob story.

Many of these people seem to be in a revolving door, unable or unwilling to earn their living, make their way, follow simple rules.  The rules are not meant for them.

If you know anyone who is in this kind of rut and I am offending you, please explain your perspective. All I know is how this event affected us, and we were in the best financial position of all the victims and yet that loss of $2450 for all this time has stopped us from something important. Many of the others have still not recovered and have had to move in with family, thereby affecting more people.  uneven_scales_sm