End of Week 312 – And the rollercoaster continues…

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Today, Sunday, is the first sunny day in more than a week.  During that week I got to the gym twice. Not what I wanted, but better than nothing. Of course, I’m trying again this coming week. Maybe things will be calmer. If week 311 was a rollercoaster, week 312 added a full loop!

Once again the nation mourns the deaths of 9 students and 1 teacher because of a mass shooting in a high school. It happened last week at Santa Fe HS in Texas. Tragic to be sure, but what made this event a little different was that it happened in Texas. There isn’t a state in this country that supports the NRA more than Texas. So, it is not surprising that the reactions of those in Santa Fe were very different from the reactions of those in other states after other shootings. In Santa Fe most refuse to see there is a firearms problem in the US. Those interviewed for, and quoted in, the articles I read blame just about anything else other than the availability of guns – lack of respect for authority; the destruction of family and community; lack of “god” in schools; etc.

Respect for authority has nothing to do with a disturbed individual obtaining firearms. A supposed “destruction” of family has nothing to do with the reality of the availability of AR-15s and extra-large ammo clips. Forcing Christianity on public school students will have no positive effect on extremists making plans or the paranoia of an emotionally fragile teen (not to mention it would be unconstitutional). It’s too bad the supporters of the NRA don’t see that guns don’t kill people and people don’t kill people.  People with weapons kill people, and guns are weapons – that is their ONLY function. It is not like knives, which are also used for cooking, for example. Sure, other things can be used as weapons, but guns have no other use.

One of the horrible things about this particular mass shooting is that, if reports are accurate, none of what the NRA wants to do and none of what NRA opponents want to do would have made a difference.  The shooter was a current student at the school. He would have been there regardless and would have entered with all the other students. The shooter got his weapons from his father (may have taken them, as opposed to being given them), so it was not a question of buying them and having a background check. The shooter used the fire alarm to create mass confusion, so he didn’t have to worry about a standoff with a single teacher, or whether that teacher was armed. So neither the NRA wanting to arm teachers, nor the common sense measure of stronger background checks, would have made any difference this time.

The lesson is: There is no way we can prepare for every single possible situation. If someone wants to commit a horrific act chances are they will find a way. All we can do is try to make it more difficult, but that is not the goal of the very powerful NRA.

The other major event last week was the royal wedding – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I am not a “royal watcher”. I do not follow the lives of celebrities and do not read the tabloids, paper or electronic. I was mildly interested in the wedding, mainly because I had a preconceived idea of what the gown would look like – I was pretty spot on, too. I watched some of the ceremony and got a kick out of how shocked and confused the British guests looked during the sermon delivered by the American Episcopal Bishop.

On line I noticed that for some reason people who claimed not to care about the wedding had to post negatively about it. Seems to me that if you really don’t care about something you simply ignore it and don’t post at all. The fact that they bothered to post at all tells me they feel something – probably envy. There will always be people who become resentful over others being rich, powerful, and privileged.

As for the rest of us, I saw a meme on Facebook that said it best. Paraphrased, it said  “please don’t shit all over the royal wedding. It is beautiful, dressy, fancy, traditional, precedent breaking, and full of joy. Our country (the USA) is being run by a malignant yeast infection. We need some joy and beauty!”

There was also a lot of SCROTUS tweeting about the Mueller investigation and other Washington nonsense. I’m hoping more will develop on this going forward.

Until next week….

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End of Week 311 – Rollercoaster Week…

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HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!! We have a LOT of mothers in my family. This picture is of my mom (right), and my aunts, Carol Lee (center) and Trudy (left). Our family has a long tradition of very strong moms, going back to my grandmother and even further. Our dads have not been slouches either, but that is a subject for June.

It’s been another week of frustration regarding exercising. I keep trying to get to the gym, and other things keep coming up. We got a new front door, are getting new basement windows, need trees trimmed, and of course there are the usual medical appointments. I’m hoping next week I’ll be able to get there more (I keep saying that – one of these times it’ll happen). I’ve been eating pretty well.

In current events, there’s good news and bad news, as the old saying goes. The good news is events seem to be progressing regarding North Korea. SCROTUS will be meeting in Singapore with President Kim on June 12th, assuming everything goes as planned. Kim has announced plans to dismantle NK’s nuclear testing facility. This is being hailed as a big step forward, and I truly hope it is, but I have some reservations.

First, NK is not known for keeping promises, but that is not my biggest concern. What really worries me is that there is a BIG difference between not going forward with nuclear development, and giving up what they already have. I’m not sure we know exactly how far NK has come in becoming a nuclear power. Just what do they already have? This is worrisome, but until we see reason to doubt NK, I’m going to hope this is a true effort at establishing peaceful coexistence. My other major concern is the behavior of SCROTUS. We have no way of knowing if he will behave himself during a face to face meeting. He is a loose cannon, and will want to make it all about him. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to ensure he is diplomatic. He is an uncontrollable toddler.

The bad news is that while SCROTUS is busy taking credit for all the work done by Kim, SK prez Moon, and the US diplomatic corps, he and his minions are sinking to new lows domestically.

  • AG Sessions was almost gleeful when announcing that he intended to separate children from their parents if families cross into the US illegally. I realize if someone is caught entering illegally they should be sent back, but to WANT to separate children from parents?? To revel in the idea?? And announce it like it is some great achievement?? Happy Mothers Day from the US government! There are monsters lurking in the current administration.
  • During a discussion of opposition to SCROTUS’ CIA nominee (during a staff meeting in the WH), one aide noted the opposition of Senator John McCain (AZ) (who is fighting aggressive brain cancer) and made the comment, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” This was leaked, and has caused quite an uproar. Now, the person who said it reached out to McCain’s daughter to apologize, but I haven’t heard how that went, if at all. The uproar, even more than the comment itself, was caused by the fact that SCROTUS has not said ANYTHING about the comment – not verbally nor in Twitter. He tweets about everything else, but cannot acknowledge how bad that statement was. Plus, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the subject at a press briefing she complained about the fact that the statement was leaked – not a word about the statement or the aide who said it. And, as of this writing, the aide still has her job. To paraphrase Joe Biden, we wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened at that staff meeting.

And just so you know the bad news is not restricted to the domestic front, SCROTUS has pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal. Why is this bad? Because it sends the message that the US cannot be trusted to keep its promises or stick to its deals. This could eventually affect our dealings with NK, but a more immediate concern is how Iran will react. Our allies who signed the deal with us have said they will continue to uphold the deal, and Iran may continue to work with them. This will leave the US looking like the pouty kid that didn’t like what was happening and stomped away.

Fact is, nothing SCROTUS has said about the Iran deal has any foundation in fact.  The ONLY reason SCROTUS hates the deal is that it was created during the Obama administration, and SCROTUS is determined to dismantle everything that happened then. Even if it means we look like spoiled, angry toddlers.

That certainly fits SCROTUS anyway.

Until next week….

 

End of Week 310 – Conversation….

DoverDays2015

Yep, this is me and my son (Michael) from around 3 years ago. He looks pretty much the same. I look a lot older, but what the hell. I’m using this picture because I spent this morning having a great conversation with him. Since he does not live at home any longer we don’t get to talk as much, but when we do I really enjoy it.

Michael and I like to discuss all kinds of things, including politics, but also movies, music, working out, and plans for the future. Today he filled me in on the plots of the various superhero movies he’s seen (mostly Marvel), and then we had a political conversation that really made me think.

It helps that we agree on most things political. He is a tad more conservative than I on the second amendment, but not by a lot. I don’t see the need for civilians to own AR15s and similar automatic rifles, don’t see the need for oversized clips, bump stocks, etc. He would rather not restrict the automatic rifles, but agrees on all the other stuff. What’s funny is Michael supports the second amendment, but hates hunting. Like me, he thinks it is ok to hunt if it’s out of necessity, but as soon as someone says they hunt for sport, or calls hunting a sport, they lose both of us. Michael said that if hunting is a sport, find a way for the animals to shoot back. Any contest where the only defense the opponent has is to run is not a sport. I said yeah, that’s not a sport, it’s the Hunger Games. We had a laugh over that.

Neither of us can stand SCROTUS. We discussed SCROTUS’ hypocrisy, which was on full display this week during his speech at the NRA convention. Michael can’t stand the NRA either, which is also kind of funny considering his stance on gun ownership. However, I can understand because I did not raise him to embrace extremes or to adopt ideas without considering all sides of a subject. He thinks about things and comes to his own conclusions, which more often than not reflect a balanced viewpoint. We both consider the NRA extreme.

Of course, we can’t talk about SCROTUS without bringing up Russia. We both feel there is something going on (or was) between SCROTUS’ campaign and Russia at the very least. Was the pretender himself involved? I’m not sure – Michael seems to think so. This raised the question of what exactly Russia is trying to do with all the meddling. This is what made me think.

Did Russia directly affect the outcome of the election? I don’t think so IF “directly” means things like messing with actual voting machines or hacking to change real vote totals. I think what Russia is doing is much more insidious. They are trying to sow the seeds of social discord (and doing a pretty good job).

Does this mean they wanted to help SCROTUS win? I think Putin preferred SCROTUS, but I don’t think that was the primary goal. It worked out that way, but I think Putin’s goal was, and continues to be, simply weakening the fabric of our democratic republic. That is why the meddling concentrates on causing discord.

Think about it. People say we should all put our differences aside and unite as one for the good of the country. The problem with that is it’s not the way a democratic republic works. Were we all united and agreeing with each other before SCROTUS? Hell no! The way our system works, there is always a group in charge (currently the GOP, but not always), and there is always a “loyal opposition” which exerts influence on policy and tries to balance things out. The sides, citizens and politicians alike, debate, argue, and compromise through life. However, for the most part, they do it civilly when left to their own devices.

Through inserting their “bots” and bad players into our discussions, what Russia is destroying is our civility. The problem isn’t that we argue; it’s how we argue. Discussions that used to be civilized debates of opposing views have devolved into name calling and other insults. This lower level discourse was always around, but to a more limited extent before Russian hackers decided to try to pit us against each other. I think this is why Putin preferred SCROTUS. Encouraging our citizenry to sink to name calling and insults plays right into SCROTUS’ style. Putin wants us to battle each other, and SCROTUS is helping guarantee that result. SCROTUS may not know he’s being used this way, but it certainly seems the case.

Unfortunately, we now have an appointed WH occupant who constantly tweets, constantly calls his critics insulting names in those tweets, constantly makes the same unfounded and unproven pronouncements over and over in those tweets, and wouldn’t know the truth if it walked into the Oval Office carrying a dinner from McDonald’s. This is not because of Putin. It just makes Putin’s job easier.

Until next week…

End of Week 309 – Still Looking for Spring…

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Well, another week, another medical procedure.  Last week my husband had corrective surgery for his dialysis fistula (arm port).  This type of thing takes up a good 3 days what with preparation, procedure, and recovery.  It really messes with my exercise and eating. This coming week I’m hoping there are no appointments and I can get to the gym more.  One thing I wanted to do when I retired was spend more time at the gym. So far, that has not come to pass, but I’ll keep trying.

My husband has followed through on the arrangements he needs to make for transplant consideration.  He has made an appointment for a colonoscopy consultation and talked to his neurologist about a new sleep study.  I’m very proud of him for not putting these things off.  A lot of this, including more trips to Christiana, will happen at the end of May.

We’ve had a couple of nice, warmish days.  Then, today, another unusually cool day.  This coming week should slowly get warmer, but by next weekend we are supposed to be close to 90 degrees.  I guess that’s spring – rollercoaster temperatures leading into summer.  I’m not a fan of warm weather.  Once it gets above 80 it is too warm for me, but we have good fans in the house and central air once the hot weather really settles in.  Right now it is still too soon for AC.  Overall, however, this has not been a great spring.  Too cold and too wet.  I sound picky, don’t I?  Oh, well.

SCROTUS skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner again. Not only did he not attend; he criticized it as a “very big, boring bust.”  Of course, it wasn’t.  It was pithy; it caused some controversy; boring it wasn’t.  SCROTUS talks this way about anything that does not praise him.  While the dinner  was going on he was in Michigan obtaining one of his adoration fixes – a staged, scripted, fan-stacked, choreographed appearance that is about as real, genuine, and spontaneous as professional wrestling.  Besides his self-praise and his immature name calling of opponents, two things stood out.

  1. He threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t give him funding for his border wall.  You know – the wall he PROMISED, over and over, would be paid for by Mexico.  I don’t want ANY tax money going for it, but besides that, the wall would simply be a waste since it will not work the way he thinks.  Not in this age of technology.  A physical barrier might stop a few immigrants who may be on foot, but a lot of what SCROTUS says he wants to stop is related to drugs and other crimes, and those people will not let a wall stop them.
  2. Not sure in what order it happened, but in the same speech as the wall threat SCROTUS also said that the immigrants who work the farms will be allowed in.  SCROTUS does not care if what he is saying contradicts something he said before. One day he will tell city people that all immigrants are horrid rapists and that we need to completely close our borders.  The next day he will talk to farmers and tell them we need to let farm workers in.  The man simply does not care about the truth or about giving explanations for his contradictions.  At this adoration fix he thought he was talking to Midwest farmers who would love a promise of letting in farm workers.  He miscalculated.  The farmers further west (Arizona, California) would be a better audience for that promise.  The Michigan audience gave the announcement a rather lukewarm response.

The other big news this week happened on the Korean Peninsula.  The leader of NK met with the leader of SK at the demilitarized zone (38th parallel?) and each crossed into the other’s territory together.  They had extensive meetings.  Then they announced that they hope to have a peace treaty signed, formally ending the Korean Conflict, by the end of this year.  If Kim Jong Un follows through on this and his promise to curtail his nuclear program, the world will be a safer place.

Before we get too excited, let’s remember that NK has broken similar promises before.  However, the possible result is good enough that Kim Jong Un should be given the benefit of the doubt until and unless there is evidence of a repeat of the past.  The funny thing about all this is that SCROTUS is taking all the credit.  Make no mistake, the president of SK did all the heavy lifting on this project, but he is giving SCROTUS credit.  I think it is because he does not want to endanger SK’s relations with a US pseudo-leader who has a very fragile ego and is addicted to adoration.

The US pulled out of active combat on the Korea Peninsula, and went into peacekeeping mode, in 1953, the year I was born.  That was 65 years ago.  If the president of SK thinks including SCROTUS is necessary to accomplish his goals, I can understand and I hope it works.

Until next week….

 

End of Week 308 – Starting Down the Path…

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This is my husband. It was taken at a restaurant a few years ago.  He hates cooked spinach and our waitress was having fun with him by giving him some.  We all got a good laugh out of it.  We have been married 37 years, and we are now heading down a path with different challenges than we are used to seeing.

My husband has kidney failure.  He started dialysis in January.  We hope this new path we are on will lead to a transplant.  Last Thursday we spent the day at Christiana Medical Center taking the first steps on this path.  Patients and their support persons come prepared to spend the day, and the kidney transplant team at Christiana conducts an evaluation in one day that other centers take 90 days to complete.  We saw the surgeon, the nephrologist, the nutritionist, the social worker, nurses, PAs, coordinators, and attended an educational session.  We still have to see the cardiologist.

We learned about the plusses and minuses of having a living donor versus receiving a kidney from someone who dies.  We learned how one qualifies for a transplant and what might keep one from being put on the list.  We found out how long the wait is and what the wait-time factors are.  We heard about what it takes to be a living donor and how patients benefit from the swap program.  This is a whole new world, and it is incredibly complicated.

I want to be a living donor for my husband, but I may be too old (65 in June).  I’d also have to drop some weight, but I think I could do that.  I’m always working on that.  Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’m healthy.  The upper age limit for being a live donor is 65, so I’d have a year to do it after June.  Our son would be a living donor despite the fact that the thought of surgery frightens him.  He’s entitled to that after having 23 surgeries growing up.  However, he is younger and healthy other than having a cranial-peritoneal shunt.  We’ll see….

I’m hoping to chronicle our journey through TransplantLand on this blog.  His next step is arranging for a couple of tests the team wants and meeting with their cardiologist at the end of May.

I wasn’t able to follow a lot of politics with all our medical business happening, but I heard about the Republican distractions.  The GOP has asked that the DOJ probe Comey in relation to how Mueller was originally hired.  They want the DOJ to say that Comey mishandled classified information when he leaked his personal memos.  They say the appointment of a special prosecutor was the direct result of what they say are illegalities, so Mueller must be fired, his investigation terminated, and the information…well, they haven’t said what is to be done with the information.

This is obviously a GOP attempt at distraction from all the attention being paid to the raid on Cohen’s offices and residences (SCROTUS’ fixer attorney), Stormy Daniels and at least one other woman wanting to come out about improper sexual behavior by SCROTUS, and Comey’s new book.  I’ve bought the book and it may be the only non-fiction book I ever voluntarily read.

Finally, I wish a peaceful transition to Barbara Bush, filled with light.  She was a classy lady.

Until next week….

Midweek Addendum – On Being a Fan

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I was at the gym this morning, on an elliptical with my back to the TV on the wall, listening to a report on the NBA playoffs.  I heard the Celtics won their first game and smiled.  That got me thinking about being a fan.

I root for all teams from St. Louis, as indicated in the above photo.  Since St. Louis does not currently have NBA or NFL teams, I do not follow professional basketball or football closely.  Truth be told, I really do not have an alternative favorite football team.  My husband is from Cincinnati so it is nice when the Bengals win, but that’s not really me.  However, I am a fan of the Boston Celtics in the NBA.  Have been for a long time.

So, how do we become fans of certain teams?  The most obvious reason is that there is a team where you live.  I lived most of my formative life in the St. Louis area; my rather large family of maternal relatives are from there.  Supporting St. Louis sports is a natural thing, especially baseball.

But locale is not the only reason.  Thinking about why I like the Celtics, I realized it dates back to Larry Bird.  I don’t even remember why I liked him so much, but my family does not grow “sunshine fans”.  Once we give our hearts to teams they are gone for as long as those teams are around.  My son loves the Miami Dolphins.  At age 5 he had a teacher who loved the Dolphins and Dan Marino, and my son really liked this teacher, so he also liked the Dolphins/Marino.  This August he will be 30, and he still loves the Dolphins.  I have never been in Boston and he has never been in Miami, but that makes no difference.  Like I said, no sunshine fans in my family!

Then there’s my husband who has been known to like a football team based on how the helmet looks.  I’m not even going to try to explain that.

Make no mistake, if St. Louis were to acquire NFL or NBA teams I would support them unconditionally.  I would also remain a Celtics fan – that’s just the way I am.  Yes, the world of fandom is a strange and wondrous place.

End of Week 307 – A Week of Distractions…

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This is an old picture, but I have noticed these same wild violets blooming in the yard.  As I said last week, spring is coming no matter how hard winter tries to remain.  We just had a couple of sunny, warm days.  Today is cloudy and cool.  That is what transition seasons do.  Come September into October I’ll be ready for the reverse process – with cooler days gradually overtaking the warmer ones.

I didn’t get to the gym at all last week, but I did start plowing through my bedroom and giving it some new order.  This means getting rid of a lot of old clothes and other stuff. Fortunately, I have no hoarder tendencies.  Things tend to accumulate here, but once I get it in my mind to clean I show no mercy.  If I haven’t needed something since I put it away, I get rid of it.  I transferred my shirt and sweater storage to zippered storage boxes, which freed up my black shelves to store my shoes.  I still have a dresser to clean out and use to store jeans and more shirts.

The roller coaster weather is wearing people out.  Those of us with joints that are more accurate at predicting weather than our local TV stations are really feeling it.  I’ve lost a lot of sleep with aching knees and several friends of mine have mentioned similar problems.  This coming week we have to go upstate for a medical evaluation on Wednesday, but I hope to get to the gym at least a couple of times before that, regardless of the weather.

Life is full of distractions.  Some are personal.  All our medical obligations sometimes distract me from my exercise and diet.  I tend to get distracted from my writing by the internet and its social media.  Then there are the bigger distractions that are intentionally started by those who need them.

Such is what we have seen this past week.  The big news for most of the week was the raid on the offices and living areas of SCROTUS’ personal attorney, Michael Cohen.  No, it was not by Mueller.  Mueller handed his information off to the FBI because the subject did not fall into the realm of the Russian questions.  This raid is more about possible campaign financing violations, and whatever else they may find.  A lot of it may have to do with payoffs to women who are not supposed to talk about their activities with SCROTUS.

Hot on the heels of the raid, a new book by former FBI Director James Comey (fired by SCROTUS) is set for release this coming Tuesday.  Comey has been hitting the promotional circuit in advance.  It is said the book is not exactly flattering to SCROTUS.

In the wake of all this there has been a full-blown offensive by SCROTUS and the Republican National Committee (RNC).  As usual, SCROTUS is taking to Twitter for his attack; calling Comey a “slimeball” and deciding his nickname is “slippery James Comey”, among other insults and name calling.  Yes, SCROTUS is his normal classy self with bully tactics, name calling, gutter level insults, and poor grammar.  For its part, the RNC has created a website called “LyinComey.com”.  I’ve glanced at it and I think that the RNC should be careful about exposing themselves to a civil action on the basis of defamation.  The saving grace is that all this reaction is keeping the public’s attention on Comey’s book.  Sales should increase.

However, besides the frontal assault, there is also the distraction.  On Friday SCROTUS, along with Great Britain and France, launched missiles at Syria.  They targeted buildings that they thought housed Syria’s chemical weapons work.  The missiles hit their targets.  The buildings were destroyed.  With the exception of Syria, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, the international community approved of the action.  The action was in response to the Assad government using chemical weapons on its own people.  The action was a measured response and was understandable.  Nevertheless, it was a distraction on SCROTUS’ part.

Whenever SCROTUS does not like what is happening – like the raid and Comey’s book – he does something else to distract the public.  In this case, his distraction played right into his tiny hands.  The world was expecting a reaction to the chemical attack anyway.  For days there was nothing.  Now we know that the delay was because we warned Russia way in advance so they could get their people out.  That’s ok.  Russia warned Syria so they could get their people out.  That’s ok too.  I’m happy there were no human casualties.  However, I simply cannot believe that as they were evacuating people they didn’t also evacuate as much research and work on their weapons programs as they could.  They had days.  Our missiles hit the intended buildings.  It’s just that I’ll be very surprised if the buildings were anything more than empty shells by the time the strike happened.

That’s the nuts and bolts of the situation.  That being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that this entire week is just one more example of why human beings are the worst species on the planet, and Assad, Putin,  and SCROTUS are examples of the worst of the worst.

Until next week….