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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Changes in our Lifetime: Air Conditioning

If you are of an age, anywhere above 40, you most likely remember living through the summer without air conditioning. Growing up in New Jersey we had some warm spells but the reason we finally got a window unit when I was in high school was to help filter the air to help with my allergies.  It was the ONLY time my sisters wished they had allergies like me……

Each summer from the age of 3 until 16, I traveled with my parents on camping trips around the United States. We slept in a huge heavy canvas tent for years which eventually got replaced with two smaller lighter tents. In 1965 we got our first camper van that snugly slept all 5 of us plus our two boxers. Sometimes we enjoyed setting up wherever we wanted to stop, like crossing the Nevada dessert. Dad pulled off the highway (no interstate expressways in those days) and followed a dirt road a ways, making sure we stayed between the highway and the first rain culvert.  The idea of a camper van opened up new areas to us.our van on daytona beach fl

But we never went to the Deep South because, in the summer, the heat and humidity made things pretty uncomfortable. We visited some areas on trips during school vacations in December and the spring, but no full exploration without air conditioning.

I moved to Nashville in 1975 and my exploration of the Deep South really started.  My first car did not have air conditioning and I would jump in the condo complex pool after my late afternoon drive home. In the summer Memphis often was 90/90…90 degrees and 90% humidity. My hair in those days best resembled Bozo the Clown because of the damp. It was years before I finally got a style that was good for my curly hair and stopped fighting nature for that straight hair look that I never could achieve.

Until air conditioning spread throughout the South is was a laid back place. I lived there in the mid to late 70s and returned to Nashville in 1994. The difference was amazing. During those two decades, air conditioning had given the once sleepy culture a vitality it had not had – ever. There is a reason the South had a reputation for being slow….it was. You HAVE to move slower in the kind of weather that lasts for months and months.heatindex

Once air conditioning became widespread there was a new migration of people in the US. Many people moved south to areas that welcomed them and cities grew. Nashville had a population of 500,000 when I lived there in the late 70s and over a million 20 years later. And that population was much more diverse with people from all over the globe, not just the nation.  This influx of diversity resulted in some new cultural norms in the South,

For example, when I worked for the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1975-1978, a pretty conservative work place, I stood out as a “foreigner” because of my Yankee accent.  (In those days they called me a “Yamn Dankee” and smiled, thinking they were not being rude, bless their hearts.)  I used to fly home to visit my parents and bring back bagels. One day one of my co-workers asked me why I was eating my sandwich on a donut.  I introduced them to bagels and soon I was “importing” 5 dozen each time I flew back from New Jersey to Nashville. In 1994, when we returned to Nashville, it became very apparent things had changed…at least on the surface.  I saw  bagel shops all around town. More surprisingly, I saw many many many multi-racial couples. However,  people were no longer as “polite” as they had been before. They expressed very clearly the things that had changed that they hated. Very few thought the change was good, but they sure did like their air conditioning.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years. At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years.
At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

 

As this climate change happens and various areas of the country experienced a hotter than typical summer through it all most of us have our air conditioning.  Can you imagine life without it?  Would you live where you do without air conditioning to keep you comfortable in the hot summer weather?  We are pretty spoiled.

 

 


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Blame It All on Obama

So, I read once again this morning that it is Obama’s fault. Specifically this morning it was about some unhinged individual who took his gun and travelled to Brooklyn to kill some cops. It’s Obama’s fault.

I really have trouble with the President being blamed with all that is wrong. So, let’s examine our own behavior because it is the collection ALL OF US that makes up American society.not me

Do you chose to go to the movies and pay $8 or more to watch bloodshed and violence?  Do you consider it really cool when someone goes around and starts “making things right” by killing and destroying. Then YOU are contributing to the attitude that supports riots after something happens that angers people.Einstein logic

diet-soda2Do you chose to ignore the advice that artificial sweeteners have been a major reason why there are so many overweight Americans with health issues? When you grab that diet soda, YOU are contributing to your own health decline and the crisis we have in the United States with rising health care costs.

Do you chose to drive your favorite ride whenever you want to go without considering fuel efficiency or planning to run all your errands at one to time to minimize adding emissions to the air? Then YOU are contributing to dependence on oil and poor air quality?

Do you encourage your girl children to be “pretty” and your boy children to be “tough”? Then YOU are contributing to gender role problems and all the issues that lead up to the high level of sexual assault and rape on college campuses, discrimination against gays, ill treatment of anyone who is different.

kid in front of computerDo you encourage your children to play with their electronic games to keep them from bothering you? Then YOU are abdicating your parenting to the values others will give them.  Don’t blame the schools for not teaching your kids if you are not teaching your kids.

Do you rant and rave when something gets you angry or upset and blame problems on others?  Then YOU are demonstrating that anger is justified and you are rolling over and permitting anyone who has power over you to control you.

This meme made the rounds on Facebook and so many people "liked" it. What does it say about us when we enjoy seeing a baby encouraged to pose this way? Worse, what does it say about how this child is going to be raised to demonstrate anger?

This meme made the rounds on Facebook and so many people “liked” it. What does it say about us when we enjoy seeing a baby encouraged to pose this way? Worse, what does it say about how this child is going to be raised to demonstrate anger?

WE are society. If you do not like something you need to DO something about it. Yelling, writing a tirade (yeah, even this one) without positive action is only contributing to the anger level.

WE are society. If you see so much is wrong you are at a loss to know where to start, start in your own home first. Teach your children  to strive for excellence, not complacency. Don’t do just enough to get by, aim for the best you can do. Teach your children that respect for others is the way to go.  Don’t teach them to “screw them before they screw you” as one person quoted his version of the Golden Rule.taking-personal-responsibility2

WE are society. Get involved. If the concept of contacting your representative in Congress is too hard, go contact your neighbor. The person next door. Help with a chore. Bring them some cookies. Shovel their walk. Offer to take them to the store. Get to know them.

WE are society.  Stop blaming the President. We elected him, twice. With large margins. Soon we will be participating in another election process. This time, stretch your own thinking and go to a nonpartisan source to read about all the candidates. A site like procon.org which will present facts, not editorials, about each candidate and even provide a questionnaire to see which candidate is most aligned with your thinking. You may be surprised. Be your own thinker next time.

WE are society. You don’t like the way America has become. Change what YOU are doing and set the pathway on the right course.Society-Needs-People-Like-You

 

 


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The Power of Place

Where you live may be an accident of birth or may be a life path decision made to get an education, grab a job opportunity or to follow your heart.  Whatever the reason for the WHY of where you live, the power of that place affects the HOW.

I know I am not unique but there are not many people who have moved around the country as much as I have.  I was born and raised in New Jersey, about 40 miles from New York City, at Exit 9 on the Turnpike and about an hour from the Shore to speak the vernacular of that place.

My parents took us camping each summer and we traveled the country.  I learned very easily that the United States has such a grand variety of ecosystems, terrain, cities and also there is beauty all over.  There is a place that will appeal to your heart.   I also learned in all my moves that the place you live has an influence on you.

For people who have never moved away from the place where they were born and raised, this kind of discussion may not be understood. Many feel that the place where they live is the best place on earth, and it may be. But how do they really know unless they have ever lived anywhere else?born in state map

This influence, this Power of Place,  comes from societal attitudes and whether you would call them good or bad depends on your own morals and life choices.  If your education has taught you there is only one right way and you are living it, you may be comfortable, but are you right?  If you believe the way most of your neighbors believe, it feels good. If you find yourself surrounded by people who are just….different…..you have to work to balance fitting in and holding on to your soul.

I’ll give you an example.

When I moved to Nashville from New Jersey in 1975 I stood out as a foreigner because of my accent. People, with their genteel Southern ways, called me a Yamn Dankee. Didn’t fool me for a second that they didn’t want me there.  But I slowly wore on them, like after a visit back home, eating my lunch sandwich on a bagel. “Whatcho eating yo lunch on a donut for?”  By the time I moved to Memphis in 1978 for a better job I was bringing five dozen bagels back each time I flew to visit my parents.  And when I moved back to Nashville in 1994 we had to throw away the idea of starting a bagel shop when we saw all the franchises around town. It had changed from a population of 500,000 to over a million and many were transplants like me.  No more polite veneer.  Nashville, while keeping a few treasured icons, had morphed into just one more homogenized American city with national chain stores and restaurants and common unpolished behavior.

What makes a place livable for you? Do you like it that people around you think like you? Do you like that there is diversity in your area that gives you a chance to learn new things?  How about the cost of living?  How does your area compare to others? Would you consider moving just because you could live more comfortably somewhere else?Price-Parity-2012I think most people would not move….they would rather stay in the place they know and complain. Such is the Power of Place.