Archive for the ‘Irreverence’ Category.

A List of Things I would Like to See In 2018

Here is my wish list for 2018. I kind of ignored that peace on earth thing as that is not ever going to happen. These are just things we put up with that we normalize when we should not. So here goes:

  1. An internet that does not make me wait and wait for a download or stops in the middle of a video clip. This should not be hard as most of the rest of the industrialized world actually has this.
  2. Speaking of the computer, how about ending those announcements when you are in the middle of something to announce an upgrade. Worse, when it just takes over and you know it is not really your computer. Instead of get off my lawn I spend more time hollering get off my screen.
  3. Getting rid of upgrades and “new” improvements to software that give lots more choices you don’t want and complexity you don’t understand. Ever notice with all these new and better improvements, our technology is getting less reliable and it is harder to do things? I am still waiting for a simple keyboard for my iPad Pro that can adjust to any angle and stays connect to the “smart” connector. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently.
  4. Now this one really is in the category of get off my lawn, but why do wait persons in a restaurant wait until your mouth is full to ask if everything is alright? For that matter why do they interrupt conversations to ask whatever they ask? I have always felt if everything was not okay, there would be no need to ask, I would tell them.
  5. Ending selfies and continual self promotion and you know who I am talking about. Last night in Times Square more than half the people were recording themselves at Times Square to later post instead of being in the moment. Also the continuing changing posed picture on Facebook to announce the new same old you. Really? Most actors and actresses have fewer head shoots and they do this for a living.
  6. Making it a capitol offense (life in prison since I am against the death penalty, except maybe in this case) to impede traffic on the freeway while you homestead the left hand lane. Let’s face it, our freeways are becoming more and more like the Autoban (no speed limit) and blocking the fast lane could get us all killed. Watch traffic build up when you have someone holding the left lane as their own and it looks like a commercial for a blocked colon.
  7. And while I am on it, let’s end talking and texting while driving with a cellphone. When a driver is driving erratic, 9 out of 10 times it is because he/she is texting. I know this goes against our freedom impulses, but in public places like a freeway let’s put up cameras and nail those assholes. Cities and counties need revenue and there it is. Did I mention a single driver in the carpool lane? That would put a real dent in the number of people who think they are special. Might rejuvenate the U.S. Post Office sending out all those pictures with a ticket attached.
  8. How about a simplified tax code? If you thought we just got one, think again. I believe the current one now has something like 35,000 pages and nobody knows what all of it really means. If you run two businesses (consulting and vineyard) like I do, just organizing all my stuff takes 2 full days and I am an organized person. Then it is off to the accountant. Just send me a bill. They do that in Finland.
  9. Let’s end news stories that sum up the year. I WAS THERE! Okay, I get it, most of the rest of you weren’t. So just title the story 2017 for Dummies and Those Responsible for President DFF*.
  10. End Sports talk. Instead of just watching the game, it has to be about personalities, blah, blah, blah, blah. If the same knowledge and time that goes into sports talk actually went into something that affects our lives, it might be a better place to live, especially when some of the dumb us things come out of their mouths and no one goes ballistic. Politics like sports talk would be a refreshing change.
  11. Let’s get rid of Football players beating their chest after a play (did we just arrive from the jungle), trash talk, and in general the genuflecting to the heavens in any sport. Yep, I am sure God was helping you hit that long one while he was killing hundreds in a hurricane or starving them to death in Africa.
  12. Let’s end God Bless America in political speeches. Clearly he does not since we got President DFF.
  13. One last thing (13 is my lucky number) and this is my favorite pet peeve. End the 24/7 of some shooter or bomber somewhere. A guy (always a guy like sports talk, I wonder if they are connected) pulls a gun and shoots 5 on a subway and the news is hijacked by an event that is not explainable and cannot teach us anything except there are nut jobs out there. Remember Las Vega. Learn anything except stay away from country music? Do you know it is estimated 88,000 die of alcohol related diseases every year and over 40,000 in car crashes. Think what the news would be like if we covered that. Oh, and if it happens in media central (NYC) the coverage is multiplied by 10 and in the end, we learn nothing other than maybe we have too high a ratio of the number of guns to nut jobs and we do nothing about it.

I am sure I missed some big ones. But I have all year to update this list. No I did not go off on my number one irritant, President DFF*, the Republicans, and to a lesser extent, feckless Democrats who seem determined not to learn anything, but they are at least well meaning. To be mad at them would be to be mad at the stupidity of the people who put them in power and that is a blog for another day, or the next 365. Happy New Year.

*President DFF – Dumb Fat F*uck

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or Whatever

WARNING: NON-BELIEVER MUSING. You know, I think maybe Buddha took over Christmas. And maybe that is a very good thing. Religion after all is supposed to give peace of mind to the faithful that they will be saved. Now from there you have all kinds of variations and the obvious conclusion is they can’t all be right about the word of God. Especially when each one assumes their’s is the only right one. Or not. Anyway, once they have the word of God, they can be at peace, except they never are.

They are hoping for no more second thoughts about what is right and what is wrong or what is going to happen to me. Roy Moore comes to mind as an extreme example that you can have the clarity of knowing your own religious discrimination and hate is sanctified by a Supreme Being. Or again, not. So what is going on with believers and non-believers of various kinds buying presents for each other, throwing some change in the Salvation Army bucket, trying to be nice to one another, and all the wishes of Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays? Hell, some people even go so far as to let you change lanes on a busy freeway.

Well step forward Buddha. Now you can look at Buddhism as a religion or a philosophy since Buddhism does cross all these boundaries in variations of the belief. Some believe he was a god, some believe he was just an enlightened man trying to transcend the everyday life to find peace and happiness. Some believe there is an after life, some don’t. You can also find all kinds of interpretations of what is the proper route to get there, kind of on the same level as whose interpretation of the Bible got it right. But whether you believe in a supreme being or not, Buddha and Jesus had a philosophy that touches us all.

Jesus (Pronounced Hey-sus:  I like to use the Spanish pronunciation because it makes him more human and pokes a finger in the eye of all those immigration bashers) had some really good ideas, that get jumbled in heaven, hell, God saving you, and interpretations we see today leading to discrimination and hate. But that is not my Jesus, right? Buddha on the other hand found “salvation” within oneself. We have the power to save ourselves through transcendence. I think some Stoicism is really part of Buddhism. The difference is the stoic takes the pain of life and his reaction to it as his badge of honor, stoicism (shit happens, so what). The Buddhist is just about being and taking the self out of the equation to actually experience the moment without judgement.

But at Christmas or the Holidays or whatever, what we are all really trying to do (well most of us, I am never really sure what President DFF is doing except trying to demonstrate he is the center of the universe) is be in the moment. Enter Buddha who said enlightenment comes from being in the moment and losing the self in the equation. As she who must never be mentioned here will tell you, I am never going to lose my self, too many toys, so not to worry about some ideological rant here. But in being in the moment you loose judgement and just experience. All of a sudden everyone is part of the humane equation and you can almost feel their pain. We all become fellow travelers. So we are nice to each other for a fleeting moment before the holidays pass and we can get back to pushing and shoving to get to the front and assuming the other guy/gal is the real jerk. Could not be us, right?

I might argue that some of our favorite Christmas parables (current ones, not that manger stuff) like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, even It’s a Wonderful Life, is really about stopping and seeing the world around you and what is so beautiful. The Grinch’s heart grew, the family in Christmas Story found joy and laughter in the moment, Scrooge found his empathy. Even George* understand that he is among a wonderful community.

So with all that, the discrimination and hate generated by some religious beliefs, or just selfishness in general resulting from a lack of empathy for our fellow-man who some see as deserving their fate, not recognizing that their own fate was determined by a roll of the dice, not some supreme being anointing us to our favored position, when we stop and take a moment to be in the Christmas spirit, to take in our fellow-man and for a few moments actually care, whose day is this, Jesus’s or Buddha’s. Well they both got some things right, but Buddha gets my vote for what we really should be paying attention to. Stop for a moment (well at least slow down), smell the coffee, realize that guy or gal next to you is in the same human mix master your are, and maybe offer a hand if not a smile. Happy Buddha’s Day or Merry Buddhamas.

*I have a take on It’s a Wonderful Life which is a little different than maybe the contemporary worship of that movie if you are interested.

Traveling with Stephen (pronounce Stefan)

The View from our table at Scotts Seafood in Jack London Square.

Not really, but sounds more sophisticated and better than travels with Steve (isn’t there already one? Last name anyway). Anyway, the news is just a repeating cycle of lies out of the Republicans and the White House, interspersed with bad news from overseas so I thought you might enjoy a diversion. This weekend was Van Morrison weekend. I have always loved Van the Man. His amazing voice and his ability to change tempo and do various rhythms in the same song has truly amazed me. His music makes me move and moves me. Well, my beautiful and amazing daughter got with my beautiful and amazing, not to be ever mentioned here, and they planned a surprise for me. Serena (my daughter) procured tickets for the Van Morrison Concert on Saturday night, row 8. I knew something was up because we were going to spend the weekend in Oakland, but it was a surprise, and I kind of figured it was a family thing, but why Oakland?

Anyway a few days before we left for the trip they told me and I was thrilled. VAN MORRISON! UP FRONT! HOLLY SHIT! So the plan was to drive in after she who must not be mentioned here got off substituting (teaching), drive in to Jack London Square, eat at Scotts Seafood overlooking the water, and get a good nights sleep. Driving into Oakland and getting off I-880 is kind of a shock because it dumps you off in one of the worst industrial areas, full of tents and homeless, and all the stories of Oakland and violence stream through your head. But then you drive into Jack London Square and all of a sudden you are uptown. Note to the City Council in Oakland: Clean that up because it scares the bejesus out of us white people.

Jack London Square, Rosenblums cellar is out of the picture to the left and that is the Waterfront Hotel in the Distance. We are on the pier boarding the ferry to SF.

We checked into the Z Hotel which was about two blocks from the waterfront. The people there were super nice, but the hotel was very dated, and had the air of old tobacco about it. Knowing what I know now I would have stayed at the Waterfront Hotel, more expensive, but you only live once. Of course she who must not be mentioned here was ecstatic because there was a soul Vegan place across the street (Souley Vegan). The whole area was very safe and becoming a place to hang out. Okay Scotts Seafood. We went over there early to have a glass of wine and sat in the bar. The hostess noted that while we had a reservation, they did not reserve specific tables. After I had a glass of wine, my brain kicked in and what she was telling me was get seated early and get a table looking over the bay, which we did.

Blackened Catfish. Sorry I took a couple of bites before I snapped the picture. I lost control.

Food was outstanding, except for my oysters. I should know better. Once you have had the fresh crisp oysters from Tomales Bay (Hog Island), almost anything else will be a disappointment and they were. I could tell they were not as fresh as they should be. I had Caesar Salad which was good (but not Christian’s), and blackened catfish that was to die for. She who must not be mentioned here had some Vegan stuff. Wine is Vegan you know. Then on a trip to the bathroom, I noticed the bar had a wonderful blues singer and we relocated there to listen. Now here is the thing that just slays me. The people were so friendly there. We even got to know the singer and some of her family who had come to listen to her. She was black, the electric piano was played by an Asian gentleman, and the drummer look like a white college kid. We were back in the land of diversity and it was wonderful. Walking home I tried to put she who must not be mentioned here’s mind to rest pointing out that any mugger who took on a guy with terminal cancer was asking for trouble. It was perfectly safe.

Bay Bridge from the Ferry

Okay, Saturday we planned to take the ferry (there is a ferry service from Jack London to the City) in to San Francisco. So about 10 am we ambled over to the ferry and caught the 10:15. I love Clipper Cards. They work on Muni, Bart, and the Ferries. It makes life so simple. Taking the ferry in is like getting a water tour of the Bay and it only takes about 25 minutes. There is one returning every hour in the afternoon to get home, so we could chill. After some shopping, we met my nephew at the WayFare Tavern for a late lunch. I will let you peruse the menu and guess what I ordered. Here is a tip. If you want to really have a relaxed meal in the City, do late lunch. It is never crowded and you are comfortable turning it into a couple of hour affair. It is always good to see my nephew and get caught up and we won’t be having a traditional Christmas feast at Hog Island (Hawaii at Christmas) so we tried to change it up. I won’t give you a detailed menu, but it was all good. Then it was ferry back to Jack London and get some Zs before the concert. Note: When you get off the Ferry, Rosenblum Cellars is right there for wine and snacks sitting outside in the sun.

The Concert. When the time came, we got Lyft to the theater. Again I love technology. Driver arrived in a minute or two and the Theater was only about 15 blocks up Broadway to Telegraph. This whole area of Oakland is alive and beautiful. Lots of bars, restaurants and the streets were alive. The Fox Theater is a beautiful theater and people were streaming in. I think it seats on about 2800 people (Van gets terrible stage fright and likes small menus (if you are a groupie)). Bar/lounge part of the theater, and once again, everyone was super nice. We got in our seats around 7:30, yep right up front and on the end of an aisle which is good for those of us who need a restroom break from time to time (old men). Good thing too, because Van’s daughter Shana opened with her group and it was just fun. At 8:00 sharp, the lights dimmed and out came Van the Man. I think my heart went thump.

VAN THE MAN

For the next hour and a half, Van sang and played (Sax, Guitar, Harmonica) non-stop, and I mean non-stop. He would transition from one song directly into the next. Needless to say his band and backup singers were amazing, playing trumpet, electronic keyboard, drums, guitar, bass, slide guitar, sax, you name it. He had old and new songs and in the old ones, he had new arrangements that were great. It was the fastest 1 1/2 hour of my life. He even did a duet with his daughter. It was sold out of course, and yes, I got the t-shirt. I was like drained when it was over. My fondest memory is when he did Gloria, and the crowd did the backup. It was amazing.

When it was over, we walked down about 3 blocks away from the theater and immediately got a Lyft back to the hotel. At big events if you will walk to put some distance from it, it is much easier to get a ride. We were psyched. She who must not be mentioned here pointed out the Vegan Place was still open so we went in to just get a little something. Now I am not going to describe the food, but as hard as it is for me to admit, everything I had was delicious. I say everything I had, because we struck up a conversation with two black women at the next table and then we started sharing dishes. Like I said, everywhere we went, we found super friendly people. Then we went to bed, got up early to get home before Apple Mania (we live in Apple Hill and traffic backs up for miles as people drive at parade speed looking for their next sugar high with pie/cobbler/donut/scone/cookie hit (all made of apples)) took over and got safely home by 10 am.

What a wonderful trip and another experience I shall deeply cherish. Spent the day shooting arrows and lifting weights with Van playing in the background. Oh and least I forget, paying attention to my cat, MK, who was pissed about us being gone. Sophie goes to dog heaven when we travel so she was fine. Could life be any better? When is the next adventure?

Las Vegas

24/7 News of nothing. I am not saying the shootings were nothing, but I mean there is no point to the coverage except maybe practice for the next one. Who was he? Why did he do it? Who cares? The next one will be totally different and we learn nothing. Let’s lower the flags to half mast, express our profound grief, label the shooter evil, oh and let’s not forget to pray. You are in our thoughts. That about covers it, then let’s move on to the next shooting. Where we can repeat and rinse.

There is a common denominator here that sets us apart from other places where this is rare and that is guns, guns everywhere. I listened to an interview with a cop whose daughter was at the scene and he himself was a gun collector so controlling guns can’t possibly be the problem. People kill people, not guns, right? Except it is the problem. Wait, the shooter used an illegally modified weapon (alleged). And I can buy a gun like he had and modify it with little effort. Thank you NRA, I feel so safe now with my basement full of guns, until I go postal and kill everyone around me. Tick, tick, tick.

No, we are going to thank God for what the fuck? Tell those parents, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters to thank God for killing their loved one? It’s horseshit. It was as Lenin who said that religion was the opium for the people and that is exactly how religion is being used. Trust in God and do nothing. Thank him that you were not shot.

See a trend here? God does not exist or if he does he either doesn’t give a shit or his grand plan is BS, and we have to solve this ourselves. But after Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 were killed, Sandy Hook in 2012 where 26 little kids where shot to pieces, Pulse nightclub where 49 more were killed last year,well, we declare it evil, lower the flag, look for answers not to be found, express profound sadness, have you in our thoughts, and of course pray. Maybe we could just tape the usual bullshit and replay it at every shooting. Save all those never-ending interviews of what happened, the same thing. Nothing changes.

Note there is one common denominator here, rapid fire high-capacity guns. Can’t talk about that. Oh, that is political (Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday) in these emotional times, maybe later, much, much later. Maybe even never. Why is it political to say guns are the cause of this mayhem and if we got rid of them or closely regulated them, then maybe we could really limit the damage? Show me a guy throwing knives from the 23rd floor who could kill 59 people. That does not seem political at all, just common sense. Ask yourself why are we the only country with this kind of repeating mayhem? The answer is simple, easy access to guns.

Second Amendment rights my ass. Read the damn thing. WE DON’T HAVE MILITIAS ANYMORE! We have standing armies. If you want to find evil, look no further than the NRA and the politicians who will do nothing. There is where the real evil is. Conservatives are a major part of the problem, but watch most Democrats kneel to the god of unregulated gun ownership. There is the real evil. But ignore all that. Let us pray.

Deplorable is the Nice Word for It

The DIC (Dotard in Chief) in Alabama:

“During an address inside the Wernher Von Braun Center that lasted an hour and 20 minutes, the president called North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “Little Rocket Man”, said NFL owners should cut players who kneel for the national anthem and returned to familiar targets like John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

…Hours after John McCain torpedoed Republican hopes to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump expressed his disappointment. He said McCain’s opposition was “totally unexpected and terrible”. He also chided the Arizona Republican for what he saw as hypocrisy. “Repeal and replace, John McCain if you look at his last campaign it’s all about repeal and replace and that’s fine, we still have a good chance [of repealing and replacing Obamacare.” He described his attempts to court senators on health care, saying “I’m on the phone screaming at people all day long for weeks”.

…Trump also returned to some of his favourite topics. He talked at length about the wall he hopes to build on the Mexican border, insisting it needed to be see-through. Trump said this was because drug dealers are currently using catapults to send 100 pound bags of drugs over the existing concrete wall and they are landing on people’s heads in the United States. He also responded the familiar cheers of “lock her up” directed at Hillary Clinton by telling the crowd “you gotta speak to Jeff Sessions about that”.

The president also dwelled on NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem in peaceful protest. He asked the crowd, “Wouldn’t you love one of the NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now.’” He told attendees, “If you see it, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop.”

Let’s see, belittling and egging on someone who feeds on threats and has nuclear weapons, attacking John McCain on a principled objection to the current process for repeal and replace (and has no idea what is in repeal and replace), screaming as leadership, see-through walls, lock her up, again promoting lawlessness, and finally attacking the free speech of football players in what was little more than veiled racism. Wasn’t that in Spain where they burned people at the stake for heresy. What’s the difference? Everyone must conform to der leader. Free speech in his mind is only free if you agree with the DIC.

Then there were the tweets: Earlier Saturday, Trump said Curry’s invitation to the White House was “withdrawn” because the NBA point guard was “hesitating…Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Trump tweeted. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Lebron James responded with this great line:

When Hillary called his followers deplorable, she was only half right. I think it is Despicable leads the Deplorables kind of captures it. I can’t wait to see how pro football players react tomorrow. I hope they all take a knee. I would. He is not my President. Resist America.

Irreverent – Texas and Harvey or Lessons for the GOP

First of all before I say all kinds of irreverent things, let me said that I contributed to the Mayor of Houston’s fund for helping the victims. This is a tragedy of immense proportions and we have not seen the real suffering and struggles yet. They are our fellow Americans and all of us could have something similar happen to us, whether it is a fire, earthquake, tornado, or flood, and we all need to help each other. Okay, now for some hard and maybe unfair observations:

  • People were devastated by the flooding. Why was that when the forecast for this storm was just that, devastating? Did they just not believe it?
  • Many people were not in flood zones so flood insurance was not required so if they did not have it, and they are at risk for the whole cost of repairs, rebuilding. Should they rebuild with tax payer money if a storm similar is likely to come along again next year and do the same thing?
  • The Village Idiot in Charge visited again today for another photo op and reported, “They’re really happy with what’s going on,” he told the reporters. “It’s something that’s been very well received. Even by you guys, it’s been very well received.” Isn’t it way to early to high five, with the fact that the real recovery hasn’t even started yet, nor has the reality of the real loss set in?
  • There is an interesting story today in the NYT about the frustrations of one home owner with trying to figure out what to do next. In this case the house was flooded about halfway up the first story walls and now mildew and other fungus were setting in. Wouldn’t you think there would be a checklist for this? After Katrina wouldn’t the lessons learned tell them what documentation or inspection/pictures were necessary for help, and then what needed to be done with the drywall walls to stop the mildew, remove the damaged materials (floor, floor coverings, walls), and get on with the recover? Wouldn’t there be instructions that tell you when the water height dictates total rebuilding? I would think that.
  • Then there is the issue of recover money. Congress will have to appropriate it. When the Texas delegation demands fast money, Congress as a whole should comply, but not without reminding them how stingy they were with Sandy and made all kinds of excuses including mostly made up claims of pork. Their hypocrisy and sad cruelty should be pointed out every step of the way.
  • There will be a major rebuilding effort and there is already a shortage of workers in those trades, and many of them are filled by undocumented workers. Again, Texas and the Trump Administration’s policy on immigrant should be challenge as we have a real in your face example of how stupid and counterproductive their policies are.
  • The same might be asked about their disregard for global warming and rational planning and land use based upon global warming projections. The United States military is trying to plan for Global Warming, but “Republicans in the House of Representatives added language to Defense Department spending bills prohibiting funds from being spent to plan or prepare for climate change.” Houston with its lack of land use controls and planning for proper drainage certainly contributed to the misery there. Note that the link was written before Harvey.
  • We haven’t yet seen how the stingiest people on the planet are going to fund and pay for real recovery (Republicans in Congress). Remember that the Village Idiot in Charge went out pushing for a tax cut a day after he did a pseudo visit of the flood. We have not seen how mad people get at the slow progress that will be the reality. We have not seen the real environmental damage yet and the possible impact on living down there. And we have not seen the recriminations when people figure out they trusted their government to protect them and Republicans have ignored their responsibility to use science, not greed or ideology, to plan and develop living space.
  • Trump pledged $1M for Harvey, but he has a history of not coming through and we do not not where that is coming from. Oh, and his net worth has been estimated at $10B. So if your net worth is $1m and you give $100, you are equal to the Village Idiot in Chief. I gave $100 so am I a great person?
  • On this one I will take some heat.  People who are wading through flood waters or out there in their boats to help others are not heroes.  They are what we all are, citizens willing to pitch in.  Hero is such an over used word and demeans its real meaning.

So the bottom line here is that people should have known this was coming, Global warming and its predictions are mainstream science. Texas has had 3-500 year storms in the last year, firmly signaling the impact of a warming planet. The storm itself was well forecast so when the monumental rains came, well they were forecast. The result was just waiting to happen and people ought to be made as hell that their government allowed that they put at that kind of risk. And I think they will be. As the real recovery, not the fake photo ops, drags on, funding becomes a political football, there are going to be angry people and finger pointing through lawyers.

Then there is the GOP reckoning. Let’s just check out what they have wrong:

  • Global Warming and its impacts
  • Immigration hysteria and lack of policy to get a flow of immigrants to feed our economy
  • Debt Ceiling, Federal budget (don’t forget they wanted to slash $1B from agencies that respond to this kind of stuff), and deficit spending
  • Tax cuts
  • Government regulations to control responsible planning and growth

So here we are and the disaster in Houston and East Texas was not only predictable, but could have been so much better prepared for. But from the masterminds of Donald Trump we have ignorance and stupidity as public policy. How is that working out for you. Texas was a wakeup call. Did anyone wake up? Oh, and one last thing. Remember Republicans are in charge and the Democrats already said we should pay for recovery. This is totally on the Republicans. Can they govern.  Not so far.

Cancer, Michael, and Heroes

Once in a while at an odd moment, thoughts of my cancer come flooding in. This time it was probably brought on by the fact that I go in for another PSA test and my PSA has been showing a slight rise.  Is this a new chapter? Now as far as cancer patients go, I have no complaints. While I have an incurable prostate cancer with a really high (9) Gleason score (highly aggressive), right now the treatment has put it in slow motion. So other than the side effects of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and antiantrogen therapy to wipe out testosterone in the body (fatigue, loss of libido, some weight gain, hot flashes that never end, sore breasts), I am mostly fine. No pain, no chemo, no radiation or their horrible side effects. So it is easy to ignore it, forget your now on a fast-moving time clock, and just cruise like most of us did through our younger days. Sure, weight lifting is more of a challenge, and golf wipes me out for two days, losing weight is a bitch, but I can still do all of them. My tolerance of heat is non-existent, but I am not suffering the ravages from the treatment that most cancer patients suffer so bravely and fight so valiantly (My sister-in-law comes to mind as a close example).

But still, I know that when things start to go down hill, things are going to get tough, unless some new treatment comes along to prolong my life until I die of something else. When those thoughts come flooding in as they do sometimes, I think of the movie Michael, the archangel played by John Travolta, who was on his last trip to earth to pull off one more miracle. But he knows this is it, this is his last hurrah, he is not coming back. Michael lived life large and enjoyed the sensory pleasures of this world taking in everything life had to offer. But in a great scene, Michael has that same sense that I am sure most terminal patients all have at one time or another, about how much they love life.*

The scene is with Michael who sees a bull in the field and decides to take it on. The noble fight. Imagine the battle scene between the two when they charge at each other, full of the passion of the moment and the fight, and then Michael and the bull are both knocked out by a high-speed head butt (there might be something here being said about fighting itself and its utility). When Michael gets back to his feet with help from William Hurt, he reveals to Hurt that this is his last big blast on Earth, his last hoorah. Michael looks to the skies, eyes closed, arms up, wind in his hair, and says, “I’m gonna miss everything so much.”

That is exactly how I feel. It just could not almost be over. There is so much around me that is to rejoice in. Yeah, young love is gone no matter what, I am an old man after all, but I have a wonderful enduring love that few will ever experience. And then there is that sunset, the amazing beauty of the sun, the feeling of a breeze blowing by you, just the pure joy of living, of being, all of that is still there and the thing that comes flooding in, that soon this is going to be over. Take it in, drink it up. Stay in the moment. And then… I’m gonna miss everything so much.

But the moment I am trying to stay in will pass and I will be in another moment, one that could be brutally hard, not just on me, but for everyone around me. And that is when I think of heroes. People who just carry on when things get really tough. That is the real definition of a hero. I think of the Medal of Honor winner who was honored the other day at the White House, who was a medic who just carried on with his job risking everything for his comrades. Who does not have a hero fantasy about themselves? You know, some fantasy about you saving the world. We have a whole genre of movies these days about heroes.

I think they all miss the point. Heroes don’t have to be super. Heroes are all around us. People, who in the face of adversity, carry on. And many of them do it with such grace. Whether it is the last throes of cancer, a disability that puts them at a disadvantage in this life, a tragic loss, or simply being poor and disadvantaged. If you want to find heroes, stand in a crowd and look around. The fact that you don’t know their stories makes what they are going through and how they manage it so much more heroic. And whether they win or lose the battle is not the point, but how they nobly fought the fight.

And that is my next great challenge. Who knows, I may luck out, but then again I may not. And the challenge is to do this thing with grace and dignity, to leave those you love so very much ready to carry on without you, remembering you for your grace and dignity. This last chapter is really more about them than me. Am I up to it? I really don’t have a choice. I have to be up to it. And if I need a role model to inspire me to get me through, it is not the combat soldier, the Navy Seal, the fireman, the police officer, the usual suspects, it is a little old lady who spent her last days in pain, but carried on. It is the bravery of those around you who will have to shoulder the pain of your loss when you are gone. It is all around us and yet most of us are oblivious to it. Well, I see it, maybe because I now am forced to profoundly understand it. I just hope I am up to it.

*This is not to say that at the end, some could and should choose death when the reality of life and their disease overcomes them. I cannot help thinking of the bravery of Brittany Maynard, her husband, and her family on her journey with cancer, and giving the rest of us some modicum of control over our lives in the end. That is one amazing role model.

Not MY President

“He is our president and we should rally around him.” “Good Americans and Democrats should attend the inauguration to show our solidarity in the peaceful transfer of power.”  Bullshit.  More like, “All hail Caesar and we are taking names of those who don’t.”  Let’s start with the basics.  He lost by an almost record margin of popular votes but because of the gerrymandering of slave states back in the Founding, we have an electorial college weighted to rural states.  Second, let’s really look at the Comey email fiasco which according to many analyses did swing the election.  Third, let’s add in the Russian hacking, and Wikileaks being their tool while no similar leaks on the Republican side and clearly the election was stolen.  This leaves out the fickle role of the press that chased after every morsel of email news to try to create a false equivalency between Donald and Hillary.  So yes the election was fraudulent based on lies and innuendo.

But even if you don’t buy that or say politicians lie all the time (and our press is supposed to pick them off), my president would not be a small mean bully.  He would not go after the unprotected in our society to blame all its ills upon.  He would not deny science and try to dismantle the very agencies that try to protect our environment for our children.  He would not be cozying up to a dictator who has murdered thousands as a good business opportunity.  He would not suggest that maybe other countries should get their own nukes. He would not be dismantling healthcare for millions and throwing the health insurance industry into chaos.  He would not denigrate women and pretend he respects them.  He would not throw millions of immigrants out of the country when all our ancestors were immigrants.  He would not put a person in charge of education who has done more to damage public schools than just about anyone else.

And we are not talking partisan politics here, we are talking about destroying American values.  He has demonstrated that he has very little understanding of the Constitution or the great debates our Founders had.  He has no appreciation for due process or free speech and has started a very authoritarian approach to the press refusing to answer hard questions.  He has shown amazing ignorance on a multitude of issues both foreign and domestic.  His understanding of economics borders on non-existent.  And his ethics and morals are in the gutter.

So no, he is not my president.  He may be the president, but we cannot trust a thing he or his teams says.  America has sunk to a new low of crass I got mine, screw you.  People who voted for him ignored fact, data, and science, or the march of time.  They demonstrated how dumbed down America has become.  But they were the minority and they still won.  So again, no he is not my president and I will do whatever it takes to obstruct his destruction of America.  That starts with ignoring the inauguration except for the sadness of seeing the Obamas leave public life.  Even that may be too painful to watch.  So don’t enable this monstrosity America.  Fight him every step of the way.  No, he is not my president.  Like John Lewis, I will be staying home and turning off the TV.

Oh FMITH!

I am listening to the news and the narrative is did John Lewis go too far.  How could he delegitimize the president, that he says he would find it hard to work with him?  How could a politician be so divisive?

WAIT A MINUTE!

Does any remember the leader of the Senate Republicans telling us he was going to make Obama a one term President?  Does anybody remember the drum beat by Trump and the whole Republican Party that said Obama was a Kenyan and was not born in America?  Do you remember you lie?  WTF? Are you people brain-dead?

FMITH-Famous expression from my Vietnam and SAC days (Fuck me in the heart).

My New Fiction Novel:  Constitutional Crisis

Let’s just fantasize for a moment.  Say President Obama is presented with unequivocal evidence that Trump and his team are colluding with the Russians and colluded with them on the hacks and release of emails.  Say that it tells a story that the election was illegitimate.  What should the President do.  For my novel, he would declare Martial Law, declare the election illegitimate, and hold elections in March (June?) after the full investigation is completed and the American Public is fully informed.  The Republicans would probably be forced to run Pence unless he was involved and I don’t think he has the wattage.  Welcome Paul Ryan and it would be Hillary and Paul in June.

You could throw in some sex, murder, and conniving (well we probably already have two of three in real life), where political power and greed have overcome our conservative leaders whose ideology trumps the common good.  Oh, wait!  We already have that.  There could be riots in the streets, threats from Russia, Republicans claiming everything is a lie.  Finally have the nation come to its senses and be a novel of real hope and rebirth in our founding principles.

Sadly, other than the martial law, most of this is actually going on or may go on.  Would there be enough Republicans who when presented with clear evidence, be willing to stand up to conservatives that don’t care and just want the control the three branches of government?  So far there haven’t been when it is obvious the man they elected is unstable and not qualified to be president.

Let’s take another not so far fetch scenario.  That Trump has to be removed.  What do we do with Pence if we arrive at the conclusion that the election was illegitimate?  Does he get the reins of power, do we have a do-over, or does he resign and Paul Ryan become the President. Meanwhile. Hillary won the popular vote.  Does this lead to riots in the street?  Now note in all of this there is a basic assumption that the Republicans lost the election.  And one of the problems in all of this is that it does not force Democrats to face the fact that their party has its own problems when it comes to economic inequality and losing even the electoral college was a wake up call.

The problem with all this from a narrative point of view is that the Republicans are bad guys (true), but the Democrats are innocent victims (not so true).  So how do you write this novel with both an external threat (the Russians), a corrupt and ideological Republican Party, but also a flawed Democratic Party that has lost its way.  I am still working on that.  Maybe I just need to wait until June and see how it writes itself.  Just fantasizing here or am I?