Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Reluctantly Rejoining the Political Fray

Image result for donald trump rigged election

I am a reformed political junkie.  From the dark days of the Great Hunt of President Clinton in the 90's to the questionable wins of Dubya in 2000 and 2004, eight ensuing years of war and economic mess, and right up until the first election of our current POTUS, I yelled at my radio in the car and shouted at the Sean Hannity's and the Bill O'Reilly's and cheered on Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher.  I had my views, based on my own personal experiences in this life, in this country, and I always believed it was important to stay on top of things.  You know, keep a watchful eye on who I saw as the wrongdoers while cheering on and helping those who I thought were doing right by us. But that all changed in 2008.

At the time, Election Day 2008, I was super elated.  We had just broke unprecedented ground by electing our first (paritally) African-American president and we were finally ridding ourselves of the shackles that had a terrible hold over this country for the previous eight years.  The names Cheney and Rumsfeld would soon fade into obscurity and finally we could get on to cleaning up the mess that they all left behind.  

I soon realized, though, just how nefarious our system of checks and balances can work.  There's been enough of a strong Republican base out there to give that party a hold of Congress, and the unprecedented obstruction of the elected president's policies began.  Tea Party politics fought Obama at every turn, making it difficult for him to get anything done.  The power of a President is not as great as people think.  Heck, the party that says it admires the Constitution so much has unconstitutionally held back the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice for 8 months now, leaving it one man, or woman, short. Deplorable! Out of complete disgust, I stopped paying attention altogether...until now.

An Election that Could Change the World

It's been really hard to avoid this current presidential election, probably the most disgusting of all time, but until yesterday I've managed to hold off on voicing my opinions for the most part.  Doing so does nothing to change minds and only works to create a divide among friends who may have different opinions than you, especially in this time where all civility has flown out the window.

I've said before that what has become of politics in the past 20 years or so is this my team, your team mentality, no matter what.  It's not about helping us, the little guys.  It's all about winning.  A Republican comes up with an idea...a Democrat will reject it before he even hears it.  A Democrat proposes something, it too is rejected unequivocally by a Republican without reason.  If the other guy comes up with something good, it makes our side look bad, so we're going to block it at all costs. And this ugly new norm on has worked its way down to the American public, who will side with their own side just because.  Pretty sad state of affairs, no?

Reluctantly Rejoining the Discussion

For the past few months, this election has been gaining steam, and I've bitten my lip many times over a Facebook post or a Tweet that I don't agree with, but I've said nothing.  It's not worth it.  But what I've been watching this past week has been truly alarming and I just had to do something about it, I shared an article on Facebook with a simple comment, This is very scary.   

The article, from the Boston Globe, was entitled Trump's supporters talk rebellion, assassination at his rallies.  In case you've been living in a bubble, Donald Trump has been feverishly telling his supporters over and over this past week that the upcoming election is a big conspiracy and is rigged against him. Perhaps he senses a loss and is trying to find something to blame it on.  He is, after all, an egotist.  

The reason I decided to share the story had nothing to do with which candidate I favored.  In my opinion, and in the opinions of many others, this talk is nothing but dangerous and irresponsible for any presidential candidate to claim, especially so far ahead of Election Day.  For someone to speak of such things and incite such anger can lead to very serious consequences.  

One of my friends innocently commented on the post:

I was hoping this whole article was satire.  It does not appear to be.  People make me sad.

Almost immediately, another friend of mine, an outspoken Republican and Trump supporter/avid Hilary Clinton hater, ratcheted up the conversation with an angry reply. The two, who have no connection to one another aside from knowing me, went back and forth for some time.  I was dismayed with each reply.  I knew I shouldn't have posted anything.  Ugh, politics!

The second friend was soon joined by yet two more friends, who simply posted videos showing how it's the Democrats who cause violence at Republican rallies.  Videos were posted, Imagine if conservatives disrupted a Clinton rally (an opinion piece), White girl attacked by Mexicans at Trump rally, and Rigging the Election: Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies.   This is exactly what I was talking about just a few paragraphs up...no matter my intention, the other side will deflect the conversation by attacking, without reply to the original point.  I finally responded:

Oy, I have to say I've been very reluctant to post anything about the election on FB, and the responses to this post exemplify my reasons.

First of all, to friend #1 and friend #3 (the poster of the first tow videos) I admire your civility towards one another. If only that existed in all political discussion.
(Their replies to one another were civil.)

My reasons for posting this piece have nothing to do with this side, that side, blah blah blah. To me, my choice in this election is a no-brainer, but regardless all of this talk about election rigging so far in advance of the election is potentially dangerous.

Trump said, and I quote, "If she gets to pick her judges, there's nothing you can do folks...although the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don't know."

What is that supposed to mean? A candidate for the American presidency veiling a call to "Second Amendment people" to do something about it? That's horrific, and from the fervor I've seen on the part of his supporters, does no one think that maybe, just maybe, one might try and take him up on it?

We are the United States of America, champions of true democracy, where no one gets to hold the highest office for too long. In more than 240 years of presidencies, there have always been peaceful transfers of power.

Whether he meant it or not, that very statement and the constant gripes about election rigging and media conspiracy instead of talking...in detail...about the issues, is the height of irresponsibility, and I only hope my fears will be assuaged come November 9th.

Still, the arguments continued.  Excuses were made, Hilary and Democrats were attacked, and other issues were brought into the fray.  I once again tried to quell the arguing by reasoning my point again:

I said NOTHING of who I am voting for or anything else political. My only point here was that one candidate for the highest position of power in this country thinly veiled a call for his supporters to shoot (yes, I think when he said "second amendment people," that's exactly what he meant!) the other candidate if he loses. If you're okay with that...I don't give a crap if it's Hilary Clinton or Bozo the clown, that is absolutely disgusting and dangerous, and no, this wasn't just reported by the liberal media, I heard him say it! If that's okay with you, then the America you want to be a part of sounds a lot like some of these other countries from where you'd like to keep people out. (Immigration, one of my own hot topics, was brought up and not in a positive light!)

I ended the discussion, which was clearly avoided by the majority of my friends, probably out of the same fears as I'd earlier harbored.  Once again, the article I posted had nothing to do with political favor.  I was simply making a statement that this type of talk is incendiary.  It has the potential to come to fruition and that is very dangerous ground to take and is highly irresponsible on Trump's part.  Though it should seem like a good situation, a non-politician running for office, unfortunately someone who's never been in politics should never start out by vying for the highest office in the land.  

No one ever knows with certainty what will happen in the future, either come Election Day or a year from now.  Deplorables worry about Muslims and Mexicans wanting to kill us, yet in the 16 mass shootings over the past 8 years, the vast majority of them were perpetrated by not Muslims, nor Mexicans, but by Americans.  And they're worried about the the immigrant?  One of the highest prices we've always paid for freedom is the sad reality that there are crazies out there, of all stripes, and we can never see beforehand which ones will act upon their crazy.  I just hope to God it is not one of these guys.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Diego's Diagnosis

This is Diego, one of my two kitties.  Diego's not been himself lately, losing both weight (and hair) and eating and drinking with voracity the past month or so.  It was just about a week ago my friend Blanche pointed out that he had lost the hair...a lot of it, along his spine.  I hadn't noticed it before, but that's probably because I see him every day and well, I just didn't notice, but once I heard Blanchie's observation, I took a closer look and it was obvious.  Diego had to go to the doctor, and soon. Something was definitely wrong.

My friends Rich, Bobby and I had been talking about it ever since the unexplained weight loss started becoming noticeable a few weeks ago.  I mean, Diego was always a big cat...still is...but in the past month I could actually connect my two hands around his abdomen and clasp them together.  He'd lost a lot of weight...9 pounds to be exact.  What was a 20 pound kitty back in June became an emaciated 12 pounds yesterday.  

Taking a cat to the vet, though, is something every cat owner knows to be a super-stressful undertaking, and I guess I'd been putting this visit off for too long for that reason, making excuses that my busy life didn't leave me time to do it.  But the hair loss!  And how thin he's gotten!  I'm actually a little ashamed it took me this long.  Now I know.

This morning I received a voicemail from the vet.

Hi, this is the doctor calling with Diego's lab test results.  Unfortunately, he is a diabetic cat.    

Stunned! That was not the news I'd been expecting.  When she examined Diego yesterday, the doctor told me that, based on his symptoms, it could have been one of three things: an overactive thyroid, diabetes, or kidney issues.  Based on what she saw when she examined him, she believed it to be the first, and she even said I should pray for that result, which I did.

It surely could have been worse.  Kidney disease killed my first cat, Spike, and that surely would have been the worst diagnosis I could have gotten this morning.  The thyroid condition would only have meant he'd be on medication, in pill form, for life, but he would be able to live out a normal life. Diabetes is one serious illness in people and is as serious in cats, too, but this diagnosis will surely change not only Diego's life, but mine as well.

They told me to bring him in as soon as possible.  Ugh, another stressful afternoon of coaxing him into the cat carrier and listening to him make these ungodly sounds for the entire trip to and from the vet.  It weighed on my mind all day, but when the time came, I just had to do it.  He is my baby, after all, so gentle, so sweet.  

To my own personal horror, several people I spoke to during the day insinuated, some even outright suggested, that I put Diego to sleep.  Since it is such a well-known disease, most assume that having a cat with diabetes at least meant I'd have to administer insulin shots to him daily, a highly unpleasant task, and I guess many people lack the sort of animal compassion that I have.  Although the diagnosis and its affect on my life are going to be unquestionably difficult, I never gave that option a thought. They say God never gives you things that you can't handle, and so this will become a part of my life and I will deal with it.  

So for the second straight day I had to put my baby in the stressful situation of trapping him in a carrier and carting him outside of the only world he knows: my house.  The doctor was going to show me how to give Diego the shots, which I found out have to be given every 12 hours. Ugh!  I have to say, Diego was a trooper during the visit (not so much in the car!) and he laid still on the table as I administered my practice injection of saline solution into his thigh.  Not fun, for sure, but I'm going to have to get used to it.  The doctor said it will just become a part of my daily routine, and I'm sure it will in time, though still...  

By this time of night the initial shock of the diagnosis is starting to sink in.  I'm just going to have to see where this takes me, and my baby.  I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for the insulin, but therein lies another issue: cost.  No matter, I was given alternatives to the $310 CVS was going to charge me for it, and so that is my next step tomorrow.  I want to get it quickly so Diego can go back to gaining some weight and growing hair and well, just being normal again.  Like I said, I will deal with it as long as we can go back to being normal.  Stay tuned... 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weezie Rides Again

Finally!  After more than a year without riding a roller coaster, and after a summer in which I was told not to ride roller coasters, Weezie finally got her fix yesterday!  September 24th was a date I'd had on my calendar for a long time and though it was a little disappointing (read on), I did get to ride, and with some of the coolest people I know, too.   

Last night was Great Adventure's Annual Out in the Park event, something that my friends and I have been going to for years now.  I figured that since this particular date was so late in the season and more than two months after my back issues, it'd be the perfect time to go, and it kinda was.  The weather was crisp and very autumn-like and all of the rides were running.

The Great El Toro!

Our first ride is one of my favorites..El Toro.  It was around 5 p.m. when we got to the park, and the place was packed.  Almost an hour and a half wait to ride this one, but once we were in that seat, it was definitely worth it.  Take a quick ride...  

At the end of that exhilarating ride, we all came off laughing at our pal Sonny, who had never ridden El Toro and was screaming the whole way.  We stopped at the picture booth to check out how silly we all looked and a gem was found:

Yup, that's Sonny on the left (my other pal Sean is on the right!).  You can imagine from the look on her face just how hard we were laughing, and it continued the whole night through.  We giggled and fooled around and chatted amiably for the next six-plus hours as we rode Nitro, Bizarro, and the all-new Joker (Loved!).  Wait, that's only four rides altogether.  Well, no, there were two rides on Nitro.  Well...

Out At Night: A Rant

I mentioned earlier in the post to read on, and this is where a little rant comes in.  I'd said that my friends and I have been going to this event for a few years now, not every year, but mostly.  The event, Out At Night, is supposed to be a night for LGBT's to enjoy some rip-roaring, our-kind-of fun in the park.  There used to be a dance party, beer and drink gardens, dancing, and best of all, short lines.  Well, no more.  Like everything else good, (see A Pitiful Night on the Sea Tea), this event has morphed into something altogether different than it used to be, and is no longer worth it.

I don't blame the organizers for what it was like at Great Adventure yesterday.  I place blame on Six Flags and good old fashioned capitalistic greed.  You see, in recent years, the Halloween-themed days at the park, dubbed Fright Fest at Six Flags' parks, has become a huge draw, and to seemingly capitalize on its popularity, SFGA had been running theirs a week already.  Where we used to have the park to ourselves, that is no longer the case.   

Yes, that first ride on El Toro ate up almost two hours of our evening, and so did lines for the other rides.  Kingda Ka was an hour and forty-five minute wait...not worth sucking up another two hours.  For the first time in recent memory, we had to pick and choose which coasters to ride, given the time we had at the park, which is a darned shame.  There were people everywhere, and though there were LGBT's in the crowd, there were far more of everybody else.  I'm done with Out At Night!  

It's too bad that Six Flags seems to have chosen the almighty dollar over goodwill.  I always waited till this event to visit this, my home park, and now I'll have to choose an alternative.  Despite the huge crowds, long lines and few rides, it really was a fun night of riding and the only pain I had in my back was from standing so long.  Luckily I had good people to share the experience with, and I guess we'll just have to find another day to go next year...maybe a Monday!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Working to Remember and Never Forget

Today marks 15 years since that terrible day.  When I think of the events of September 11th, 2001, I can recall most of it vividly.  I think most of us who were adults at the time can.  I couldn't help but notice today that there seemed to be less and less mention of the anniversary on social media.  Now I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others and I saw very little of anything, at least in comparison to past years, about what happened that day.  I guess it should be expected...time does that healing thing, which is really a good thing. But still, forgetting this is not an option.  

I have to admit, even though this was a notable anniversary, I didn't even think about the day until I finally saw a post on Instagram around 2:00 this afternoon.  Sure, I'd known it was coming, but for some reason it just hadn't entered my mind.  Today was a similar day, weather-wise, to that September day back in 2001, only not as clear and not as crisp, and though I admittedly did not actively think on the anniversary often today, I couldn't let it go without a mention.

Of course, the sentiments that go along with that day will dwindle even more over time, but they should never be forgotten.  In school, our principal always mentions the date and asks any of us who plan to do anything to commemorate the day to share it with him.  Well, the kids in high school today were either babies at the time or not even born yet when it happened, so to them it's not as personal, not as meaningful.

Since my students are all foreign born, they know even less of that sad, sad day, and during one of my early morning periods, they had come to me from their Global Studies class in which they had just seen a video and had an accompanying worksheet to fill out on the event.  They were confused and didn't really understand what they had just been taught.  I promptly decided to forego my own lesson just to talk to them.

I wrote the word terrorism on the board, and asked them to give me words that they thought would fit the definition.  In a bit of sad reality, they were able to come up with some words to fit that heinous tactic: bombs, guns, killing, etc.  I added the word scare and we launched a conversation that began with the recent attacks in Nice and Paris and we worked our way back to 9/11.  I recounted my own memories of that day, from the moment I'd heard a plane had crashed into one of the towers early on to being glued to the television all day and all night.  I choked up a little when I spoke of the heroes on United Flight 93 and knew right then that although my own memories and feelings about September 11th, 2001 had diminished, the feelings were still there deep inside me.  

So if you found yourself in the same place as I today, and you feel like maybe you've lost some of that anger, horror and sadness over the 3,000-plus lives that were lost just fifteen years ago today, then I think you need to relive it a little,  Whether it's by watching a program on the events, or sharing your own recollections with someone who wasn't around and doesn't know.  I think from here on, we're going to have to work to remember...and never forget.   

See also: