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.

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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….

End of Week 306 – Transitions…

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Happy Birthday to my cousin, Linda, who recently passed away.  We miss you more than you know! I hope your spirit is celebrating with all the members of our family who went before.

In life, change is the only constant.  We are still working through my husband’s health problems. His second round of infection is clearing up.  He is getting back into the routine of dialysis.  He will be getting an evaluation for a possible kidney transplant in about 10 days.  He has to keep up with his diabetes specialist and his cardiologist.  Despite all this, he feels better than he has in a while.  Changes of life.

Winter is fighting to stay in charge this year.  Five storms in quick succession, snow into April, cold temps as far south as Texas.  People were on Facebook saying, “So, are we just not doing Spring this year?”  But, trees are blooming, goldfinches are becoming yellow, early grass is growing, and early spring flowers are blooming, regardless.  The forecast for this week has warmer temps after Monday.  Spring may finally be making an appearance.  Changes of season.

This week’s picture is in honor of Major League Baseball’s opening day last week.  Yes, I am a die-hard Cardinals fan.  It was COLD at Busch in St. Louis yesterday, but baseball goes on anyway.  Another sure sign of spring.  Changes of sports seasons in the US.

A man pulls a gun and fires into the ceiling of a movie theater.  A young man is killed by police, and then a mentally ill man is killed by police.  In each case the police are being unfairly judged without due process, without having all the facts, based on rabble rousing and inflammatory statements from people like Al Sharpton.  If nothing else, this shows that we need police to work more on a community level so they can learn who belongs in their neighborhoods – and it shows that people who are not involved and don’t have all the facts need to keep their noses out of these things.  Trial by social media and 24-hour news is NOT due process.

This morning we woke to news that Assad, in Syria, launched another chemical attack on his civilians.  This comes right after Trump makes an announcement that he wants to pull our troops out of Syria, so many are saying there is no way Assad did this – that the timing is wrong.  They are forgetting that we are not the only people in the world who have learned that Trump’s words mean nothing.  We don’t believe what Trump says (since he changes his positions the way most of us change underwear), so why should other world leaders, like Assad, believe him.  In fact, he probably thinks that since Trump made his statement this may be the best time to get in all the attacks he can. Assad probably believes that at the very least Trump won’t retaliate.

A woman with a gun attacks people working at YouTube headquarters.  A man with a van drives into a restaurant in Muenster, Germany.  A Texas bomber.  These things, along with everything else that is happening, and what is SCROTUS concentrating on?  He is busy sending National Guard troops to our border with Mexico.  I’m sure he had visions of soldiers shooting untold numbers of Mexicans trying to cross into the US illegally, but he forgot about the law: Posse Comitatus.  This is his reaction to not getting any money for his new border wall.  It’s like the schoolyard bully going away and then coming back with his friends to exact revenge.

Good to know that in this time of transition some things never change.

Until next week….

 

End of Week 305 – Police, the 2nd Amendment, and strange weather…

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This is the picture I like to post on Easter.  I am not religious, but my cousin Carol took this in her house, and I really like it.

Got to the gym twice last week, and then the bottom fell out.  We had yet ANOTHER storm, and my husband got sick with the same thing that landed him in the hospital for 2 weeks in January. My husband’s birthday was Friday and we spent it in a clinic and the hospital ER.  At least he wasn’t admitted.  Easter at home.

It has been the kind of week one must slog through.  Lots of follow-up about a shooting by the Sacramento Police of a “young unarmed black man” and the protests that precipitated.  It was predictable.  All that was reported at first was that police killed a young black man standing in his grandparents’ back yard, and what the police thought was a gun turned out to be a cell phone.  As you might imagine, it was screaming headlines all over the place.

It wasn’t until later that other things started to come out.  The man, last name Clark, was running from the cops, being followed by a police helicopter, and ran into his grandparents’ yard.  He was suspected of ripping off neighbors, and maybe breaking into their cars.  He did not follow instructions.  Of course, to this day it is almost impossible to find any news source reporting these other facts.  They would rather show Al Sharpton and his rabble rousing. They would rather show marches in the streets and offer excuses for the destruction and violence that the protesters seem to feel is justified.

Don’t misunderstand; I am not normally a basher of news sources.  This is a very specific case where I noticed this specific imbalance.  It could be that they reported what they had and maybe some of the other information was not released.  Unfortunately, what came out was a very one-sided story.  The papers and the TV news channels will report what they have, regardless.

Also lots of follow-up regarding survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, FL.  Various celebrities for some reason feel the need to insult the anti-gun student activists, and call them names.  “Coward”, “soulless”, “manipulative”, “bitch”, “punk”, etc. Two things the 2nd amendment crowd has demonstrated with this language: one, that they are bullies, and two, they feel threatened by the movement started by these students.  They should.

I mentioned in my last post that I do not think the second amendment should remain in the Constitution in its present form.  I do not think it should be completely removed – it needs tweaking.  I feel there are two main things wrong with the current amendment.  One is in its wording.  The other has to do with its history, or more accurately, the time it was written versus our current times.

The second amendment reads, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  I often ask “How does the Constitution define arms?”  Almost always I hear “guns” as the response.  Really?  Where is that?  It isn’t.  The Constitution does not say “guns” nor does it say “firearms”.  It says “arms”.  Ok, so does that mean nuclear arms are included?  Am I allowed to build an atomic bomb in my garage?  If not, does that infringe upon my second amendment rights?  The point is, the second amendment needs some specificity due to how times have changed since it was written.  The “founding fathers” had no way to know what horrific weapons would be invented by future generations.  And they are all known as “arms.”

Historically, I realize that the second amendment was written in a time when the colonies relied on regular citizens to answer the “call to arms” that won independence.  A lot of them probably had to provide their own weapons if they had them.  If we were in a situation today where the military – a HUGE organization – could not respond to a domestic threat; I have a feeling we’d have bigger problems than could be addressed with our handguns, standard rifles, and AR15s.  The “founding fathers” listed the need for a militia because that is how they built their army.  That is not the case today.  The amendment needs to be changed.

Civilians do not need to be able to purchase assault rifles.  Not even for hunting.  I like the quote I saw on-line (not sure who said it, but it does not originate with me).  “A man who thinks he needs an assault rifle to be a hunter is neither a hunter nor a man.”

Until next week…

 

End of Week 304 – Opinions are like armpits…

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Of course, this picture is for the March for Our Lives that took place yesterday in Washington DC and hundreds of other places, mostly in the USA, but in other countries as well.  This picture is from the Women’s March in January, but you get the idea. I don’t have a picture from yesterday yet.

Yesterday’s march was by the young people who are sick of mass shootings, and their supporters.  Not all young people agree, but this particular march was for common sense gun ownership reform and school safety.  I watched the whole thing and contrary to what NRA members would have us believe, not one speaker called for banning all firearms.  They do want a ban on civilian purchases of automatic (military style) assault rifles, but not one said we should take all the guns from everyone.  Not one said a single negative word about hunting.  It was all about assault weapons, background checks, and other common sense measures that would not hurt anyone’s second amendment rights, but still cannot seem to get passed by Congress.

And speaking of Congress, there was one overriding theme yesterday – VOTING. Many of these young people will be voting soon – some in 2018, some in 2020.  They made it clear that they will get involved in the process and try to vote out any politician who appears to be controlled by the NRA.  They are tired of inaction.  They are tired of nothing changing.  The NRA has seen to it that the status quo is maintained, at the cost of lives.  I’m not a young person, but I believe in voting and I will be right there every chance I get to support this cause.  I like that they are emphasizing working within the system.

A conservative I know said (imagine this in a sarcastic tone) that he was amazed at how the young people, without adult help, put all this together in a few days, with a huge setup and Hollywood celebrities.  This is part of the problem.  Just because the adults involved didn’t put themselves out front on this doesn’t mean the kids didn’t have adult assistance.  Of course they did.  And the kids did not try to hide that fact.  I heard about it on several reports and read several articles about it. Many of these kids are not old enough to sign a contract, so of course they had adult assistance.  However, conservatives should note: ASSISTANCE IS NOT THE SAME AS MANIPULATION. Just because you cannot sign a contract doesn’t mean the person who signs for you tells you what to think!  Conservatives want to talk about manipulation? Those running the NRA are MASTERS of it!!

One more thing all this has impressed upon me: We are all preaching to our respective choirs when it comes to this stuff – and most things political.  There is an old saying, “Opinions are like armpits.  Everyone has them and they always stink.”  Our country is divided and most of us hold rather strong opinions on important issues.  We talk and write and argue.  Very seldom if ever does anyone change their mind on something. I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.  First, those who consider themselves members of the party in power (currently the conservatives) always call for everyone to “come together” for the good of the country.  Those suggestions are disingenuous at best.  What they mean is the rest of us better agree to everything they want.  Never gonna happen.  There will always be an opposition. Consequently, I’ve concluded to never call for “coming together”.

Second, I’ve concluded I will continue to write and argue as I see fit.  Of course, the first amendment says I can.  A better reason is that it helps me think through my positions and see the finer points.  I do not think I will convince anyone to change an opinion.  My expression is more for me.  The second amendment is a perfect example.  I despise guns and the super-macho power mentality they seem to generate.  However, in thinking things through I realize calling for a gun ban is completely impractical, never mind unconstitutional.  The second amendment is completely flawed in its present form – it needs major tweaking – but we don’t need to remove it from the Constitution.  I’ll go into what’s wrong with it in another post. The point is writing and arguing about it has honed my perspective on the subject.

We had a storm last week (as I mentioned in an earlier post) so I got to the gym once, but I got on the treadmill at home on other days.  My eating is improving because my husband has finally decided he should change his eating as well.  He never tried to keep me from eating well.  It’s just that we can’t afford two different grocery trips. I’ve dropped a couple of pounds, and am looking forward to seeing what I can do in warmer weather!

Until next week….

Delayed Week 303 – Spring, where art thou….

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See this picture?  Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and when I look outside today this is what I see.  We, along with the rest of the NE section of the country, are getting slammed by the 4th nor’easter in less than a month.  This one is packing a lot of snow.  We will get a few inches.  I’m afraid the areas from NY to Boston are going to be hit hard.  The snow is heavy, wet, and icy.  Just hope the power stays on.

Yesterday there was a shooting in a Maryland high school.  The school resource officer stopped it after 2 students were injured.  Could have been much worse.  Shooter was a 17-year-old white male.  There was also an escalation of bombings in Austin, TX.  Overnight they found the bomber (who blew himself up) – a 24-year-old white male according to this morning’s reports.

Seems many, if not most, violent acts like mass shootings and now bombings in this country are carried out by white males.  There are exceptions, of course, but so many events involve white males that it raises questions of WHY.  I just read an article that summarized many reports regarding this.  The conclusion, in a nutshell, was that white males are now insecure about protecting their families and their place in our workforce. It was worded various ways in the article, but amounts to this: White males are the group that until recently had all the power and pretty much ran life in this country.  This slowly changed, and continues to change (albeit even more slowly under SCROTUS).  As white males as a group see their power eroding they react in various ways – drastically increased gun ownership, overt acts involving control over others (shootings, bombings), etc.  Yes, they are insecure regarding their place in this changing society.  Sometimes mental illness is also involved, but not every time.

Which leads me to wonder about SCROTUS’ reactions to these events.  I wonder why he describes perpetrators who are “of color” or immigrants as evil and criminal, while he describes those who are “white” as “sick”?  Seems a bit hypocritical, but it doesn’t surprise me that SCROTUS sees things this way.  He also likes using the few events carried out by immigrants/people of color politically – pushing the wall or for action against certain groups.  What a scumbag.

I’m running late with this entry, but I’ll be back this weekend.  Until next week….

End of Week 302 – All Hail….

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Didn’t get to the gym but once last week.  It was one of those weeks when I’d get up and get dressed for the gym and then something would happen that required me to stay home or go do something else somewhere else.  I’m hoping to correct this in the coming days.  My husband and I are going to try a new eating plan based on information from TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly).  The system has worked very well for my brother and it is not nearly as expensive as Weight Watchers.  You have to be ready to expend the effort – they guide and advise and counsel; you have to get the food and make sure you are being honest about it.  I like that you buy your own food at the grocery store or wherever rather than having to buy the system’s food.  They emphasize that.

I find I’m not enjoying retirement as much as I thought I would.  In part, I think most retirees discover this.  Anticipation is never the same as reality.  In part, I think it may have to do with all the medical stuff for which I must be available – taking my husband around to various appointments and talking to surgeons and transplant centers.  However, I recently realized part of my problem is that I am very goal oriented, and I like to have an end point in view with some kind of recognition at the end.  That is one reason I do well as a student – I’d love to go back to school and get another degree, but it would be VERY expensive and at my age I don’t know what I’d do with the degree.  I just love the thought of graduating, and I’m completely willing to do all the work that leads to it.  I went through the same thing years ago when getting my black belt.

I know what I have to do.  The trick is getting myself to do it.  First, I have to convince myself that losing weight and getting in better shape is goal oriented.  I know that sounds funny.  Most people would say, “Of course it is!  Your goal is to weigh less and be more active, thus healthier!”  But, if I lose weight and get in better shape, what happens then? What recognition is there besides my own knowledge?  That question leads to the second item: I may have to construct my own recognition for these types of victories, assuming I ever have one.  I need to stop depending on the approval of others and figure out what I can do with new situations for myself.  Maybe write about it or get into a lot of 5K walks for charity (one of my goals this year is to walk at least one 5K again – it has been a long time).  Maybe both.  I can say this; being retired has let me see where I need to change and improve.  Before, having an outside job cluttered my thinking.

Politically, this has mostly been a week of follow-up; continuation of subjects that started the previous week.  There has been lots of talk about ICE, California defying the federal government, the federal government suing them in return, AG Sessions trying to “shame” California and especially the Mayor of Oakland, videos all over social media of families being broken up by ICE agents.  I don’t blame the ICE agents for what is happening.  They are doing their jobs.  I blame the federal so-called “administration” as they talk about how they are targeting gang members and serious criminals, but keep separating families of undocumented immigrants whose only brush with the law has been something like traffic tickets or maybe DUI.  I realize being undocumented is technically illegal, but it seems to me the feds are (to quote an OLD expression) throwing out the baby with the bath water.

There was more speculation about developments with North Korea.  This is really a wait and see game.  We’ve been here before, and NK has lied about wanting peace and denuclearization before.  I’d really like to see this effort succeed, even if SCROTUS take all the credit.  It would be worth it, and anyone who is paying attention can see that the president of South Korea is the person who really did all the heavy lifting in this case.

Of course, we had news involving guns.  There were a couple of shootings – 3 women working in a Veterans’ Administration home were held hostage and eventually killed by one of the residents.  Yes, a gun was used.  A teacher tried to commit suicide with a gun inside his school.  Florida passed a law raising the age to purchase firearms to 21 and was promptly sued by the NRA for violating the rights of those aged 18 to 20. I think SCROTUS is being sneaky about this issue.  Publicly he is saying things like we should ban “bump stocks” and raise the age to purchase assault rifles to 21. He is taking small steps that he knows the NRA will fight, and so he will probably never have to worry about anything actually being enacted.  The court battles could go on for years.  SCROTUS has also said we should arm teachers.  This will probably be set on a state/local level, so, again, SCROTUS does not have to worry about being responsible regardless of how it turns out.  As usual, it turns out to be a fat lot of nothing.

SCROTUS signed the steel and aluminum tariffs.  Another wait and see game.  He exempted Mexico and Canada at least temporarily, but that won’t keep the prices on goods that trickle down from steel and aluminum from rising.  SCROTUS says “American workers first.”  Looks like that is followed by “American consumers LAST.”

And since I like to finish on a lighter note, it looks like SCROTUS is getting his military parade on Veterans Day in November.  No tanks – I think the local government of WDC told the feds that if they tear up WDC streets they will have to pay to fix them!  SCROTUS will be in a reviewing stand, surrounded by Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.  I’m sorry, but I laugh each time this crosses my mind.  I keep picturing SCROTUS as a Roman emperor, sitting in the stand, surrounded by his “senators”, looking very smug as he accepts all the worship bestowed by the military and the citizens, while his closest advisors try to figure out how to not invoke his wrath.  I truly think this is how SCROTUS sees himself!

By the way, this week’s picture is of the first tree I’ve seen bloom so far. Spring is coming!

Until next week….