Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Article One


All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Legislation--the writing of laws. Here's where the Congress has their chance to influence life in our country. Unfortunately, most new legislation resembles that book in the picture above. Most legislators (our Senators and Representative) haven't even read the legislation they pass. Think about it. Mostly, except for a few influential individuals, the folks we vote for and send to Washington don't even know what they're voting for. If the legislation isn't controversial enough to attract media attention, no one knows what it is until suddenly it's law--usually passed in the middle of the night when their constituents are sleeping or watching television.

If you're unhappy with the direction the country is going, it's these men and women you should be investigating. Do you know who your senator and representatives are? Do you know what they're working on? How they voted? Such information is easy to obtain. What are you waiting for?

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. 

The President doesn't make laws. That's the Congress. And they control the money. If they don't vote to approve something (like war or other controversial spending), then it doesn't happen. When you don't like a law, you should have a chat with your Senators and Representatives. Seriously. They get nervous when their constituents start talking about voting them out. That's our power and responsibility. If we don't like what they're doing, then it's up to us to change things.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Preamble

WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This paragraph forms the opening of the United States Constitution. The first three words--We The People--refers to everyone. Not just the white folks. Not just the men. Not just the folks that believe in the same God, but everyone. We the people.

I wonder how we reached this terrible time in our country when we the people suddenly means 'only some of the people who share my beliefs'. Clearly, we are an illiterate people, incapable of reasoned thought or independent judgment.

Read that paragraph. Study it. Use the dictionary (if necessary) to learn the meaning of any of the words you don't understand. Tomorrow, we'll start on the rest of this most important document. I bet some of my readers have never read it. Not even once.
 

 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Truth

Truth is in the heart of the believer. Every individual from atheist to pagan to naturist to christian to Muslim to Jew to Buddhist to... all believe they know the ultimate truth. Every one of them are absolutely convinced that their truth is the only correct one. How do we reconcile this contradiction?

In a perfect world, we would all just agree to disagree, leaving others to believe as they wish and live their lives in accordance with their beliefs. Except. Except at no time in human history has it ever been a perfect world. Humans are too stubborn, too selfish, too greedy, arrogant, adamant, autocratic, too sure they're the only ones who are right, so totally convinced they should be in charge, that a perfect world is a misty dream, concealed by the fog of self-righteousness.

Some folks seek the truth with fervor and single-mindedness. A few do. Most people with sheepish laziness follow their chosen shepherd, be that minister, politician, celebrity, or media whiz. The few that seek the truth have a tough row to hoe. There are rabid weeds in the garden of truth with the long roots of prejudice, bigotry, expedient political lies, and outright concealment by the religious power of the moment by wanton destruction. Truth seeking is not for the weak or fearful.

Some are convinced truth is buried in the prehistoric past. Others look to the utopian future. I believe both are wrong. The truth is here, now, in the present, in our very human hearts. The truth is what we believe in, what we base our faith, our moral compass, our code on. It's how we choose to view and deal with our fellow man. It can't be legislated, it can't be converted. It a choice each of us must make after searching our hearts. That's the truth. And it's difficult.

Truth requires responsibility for our actions. It requires accepting the longterm consequences for our beliefs, for how we act is not just in the present, but will affect our future and the futures of our fellow humans. What we teach our children by our actions, by our unguarded words, by our careless acceptance of the actions of others, is what they will become. Can we handle the truth? I don't think so. It requires too much work.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bits and Pieces

When I was a girl, there was on expression in common use that I don't hear very often anymore. Well, actually, there are several I suppose, but this one in particular strikes me as relevant. "Keep your eye on the ball."

As a nation, as a people, we are too easily distracted by the unimportant, by the spectacular, by the awful, by the strange, by the liars in the media, by the charlatans of government. Maybe it's all the dazzling, shiny balls whizzing around for our entertainment. Maybe it's because it's too much effort to pay attention.

More than once, Congress has quietly passed legislation, the President has signed it into law, and zero media coverage has been presented while everyone was distracted by other shinier events. Months later, folks wake up, look around and ask, "When did that happen?"

The answer..."Back when you were engrossed in some other media circus." And has anyone noticed how the Congress can and does work together when they want to???

I could add that we too often react rather than act. The phrase 'knee-jerk' comes to mind. You know what that is. It's when the doctor whacks your knee with his little rubber hammer and your foot jerks up. If you don't believe in the knee-jerk philosophy, I challenge you to scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook and note how many times some inflammatory story is shared--apparently without anyone fact-checking it. Here's just one example.

In the wake of one idiot's actions--and yes, they were absolutely awful and evil--we have a slew of people calling for gun control, removal of a flag, dialogue about the difference between the way police treat white suspects and black suspects, and calls to change the names of schools, parks, etc., that were named for Confederate generals. Knee-jerk.

I keep waiting to read or hear one sensible discussion on any of the above. Hah. Not likely, because no one wants to actually research, write, and then present their findings. Numbers are a fickle thing, subject to many interpretations. I don't want pretty charts. I want hard facts. Are there any? Probably not.

As I sit in my office, reading the widespread coverage of so-called current events, I wonder how many people realize how skillfully we are being manipulated. The master manipulators know exactly which strings to tug to jerk us back to the party line. Our current presidential campaigns are a perfect example. We have a group of clowns (both parties) announcing their presidential aspirations. After some entertaining shenanigans and frankly unbelievable stupidity most will drop out, leaving a couple serious contenders that appall everyone, but hey!--now we're stuck with them. It's a magic trick called misdirection. Watch it all play out.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Code

Everyone everywhere should have a personal code that governs their behavior. Some folks might have more 'Thou Shalt Nots' in their codes, others may have a couple of rules that cover everything they expect to deal with in life.

My own code is pretty basic:

1. Treat everyone like I want to be treated, but don't expect others to ascribe to my code and don't take it personally if they choose to live by their own code.

2. Don't assume my fellow man has my best interests in his heart.

3. Defend and protect the helpless, the young, the small, the elderly, and the wounded.

I could add a fourth one...Only trust those who have demonstrated their trustworthiness. Or maybe Trust, but verify.

As I read through the news and my Facebook newsfeed, it seems to me that people in general don't have a code. At least, if they do, it's not very concrete. A lot of them appear to switch codes whenever they find something they like better. That's not the way it works. Probably that's why we're in such a mess.

If everyone had a code they'd worked out for themselves--and they stuck to it--life would be simpler. Of course a code is personal. Except for protection of those individuals in #3 of my code, you can't impose your code on someone else--not even a spouse or partner. They need to decide on their own code.

A lot of people count on organized religion or a deity to tell them what their code should be. The problem with that is they generally don't like the entire list of rules in the code. And once they break one rule, they figure what the heck, why not break a few more? That's the thing about letting someone else decide your code.

I mentioned in #1 that I don't expect others to live by my code. If fewer folks tried to impose their code on their fellow man, our world would be far more peaceful. And if our civil code was simpler, there would be less work for the peacekeepers and lawyers. Really, we only need a few basics.

1. Don't murder.
2. Don't assault your fellow man, woman or child.
3. Don't abuse animals.
4. Don't steal from anyone.
5. Don't bear false witness (perjury).

That's about it. I wonder what life would be like if everyone lived by the code?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bill

TS Bill is coming soon. Naturally, like an unwanted guest, he can't go somewhere he might actually be welcomed. Instead, he's gonna show up where he can do the most damage.

Every time I think about never-ending rain, I envision that scene in one of the Star Trek movies where the humans have killed off all the whales and the alien ship messes with the weather and rain pours down non-stop. So has anyone investigated that possibility? Has anyone considered we might oughta change the way we do things?

Now, I'm not going to get involved in a debate about climate change because that's a no-win, no-win debate. Folks believe what they want to believe--mostly because they can't stand to take responsibility for their actions. Everyone talks about how they try to live with a small carbon footprint, but I've noticed it doesn't mean much when they want to fire up the gas guzzler to drive to the McDonalds or ice cream stand.

Mostly, we go out for doc appointments. And while we're out, we cram as many other errands in there as possible. We try to re-use, recycle, and eliminate plastic from our home. Nope, we're not perfect, but we try.

If everyone tried, if everyone chose to change just a couple things, it would make a tremendous difference. It's kind of like that 5% commercial. If everyone contributed 5% to the cause of their choice (food bank, cleaning the ocean, homeless shelters, whatever) no one would be hungry, the ocean would be clean, everyone would have a place to live...

Of course, that wouldn't help in the case of natural disasters, but it would free up resources to help folks recover. There's a quote that goes something like, "You can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result." I wonder how long it will take us to understand?

In the meantime, my prayers and thoughts are with every person in the path of old Bill. May he fizzle quickly and do minimal damage.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pain

Went to the doctor yesterday. The primary reason I went was for required bloodwork. I had a new-just learning to draw blood-technician. The first time she poked me, she didn't have a vein. On the second try, she found blood, but it was quite painful and left a crater that bled for quite some time after she was finished. And of course I now have a nasty bruise. Such is life.

Today I went to the dentist for my quarterly hygienist appointment. This time around the teeth only required a light cleaning, but my gums still hurt and my teeth are still humming. And cold or hot drinks are the work of the devil.

I'm not so self-centered or unaware that I don't know there are many, many folks out there who deal with unspeakable pain on a daily basis. Truly. But there are all levels of pain and some (like me) have poor pain thresholds. What my husband tolerates with minimal stress, is likely to be a hellish experience for me. Most local anesthetics don't work for me--or they take a long time to work and then wear off very quickly. My dentist (bless his heart!!!) is patient and willing to do whatever he needs to do to keep me pain free when he's working on my mouth.

I say all of this to point out everyone experiences pain differently. What might not be any issue at all for one person might be a nightmare for another. There is nothing that annoys me more, nothing that just peeves me in the extreme, as much as someone else trying to tell me I'm not really suffering as much as I say...because they had the same exact procedure/condition/experience and it didn't hurt at all.

I'm happy for them. Really. Now shut up. Because unless you're in my shoes, you just don't know what you're talking about. Pain, like so many other life experiences, is individual. And if you're fortunate enough to skip through life with minimal pain, then get down on your knobby knees and say a thankful prayer.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Alone

My cousin is four days younger than me. She's been married--and widowed twice by cancer. The last time she came to visit me, we had a discussion about the differences between marriage and widowhood, especially later in life.

At sixty-five, I have never lived alone. I lived with my parents until I was eighteen, got married, and lived with my new husband. Forty seven years later, he's still around. While I believe I'm perfectly capable of managing on my own, taking care of the bits of life such as paying bills, managing a budget, getting the oil changed for the car, and yes, even doing minor repairs around the house, I know there are things a spouse or partner does to make life easier.

For instance, at our place, the hunk is the one who mops the floors, cleans the bathrooms, makes sure the toilet paper supply is up to snuff, and carries out the trash. He also does most of the grocery shopping, tops off the gas tank in the car, and keeps track of the bills and checking account. If necessary, I could manage all those chores, but my life would be significantly tougher.

I have several friends who are single by choice. They manage their lives, make choices, take care of themselves without any problem. I have a notion though that a woman who's always had someone else to share the load with, would have a major adjustment after she loses her spouse. Not because she's incapable, but simply because she's always had someone to bounce ideas from. Someone to share the decision making with. Heck...someone to fetch the roll of toilet paper when it runs out.

There are lots of shades to the companionship and relationship of a longterm marriage or partnership. Something to think about when a friend or acquaintance loses a spouse...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Crazy

It's one of those days. The kind when you wonder why you crawled out of bed. Not gonna discuss it.

Moving along. The hunk went shopping. And stopped at the battery store to have a battery replace in my watch. It's not a wristwatch. I carry it on a key ring. And why? Because no watch (that I actually wear touching my skin) runs for longer than 24 hours. The little watch he had fixed hangs on a hook so I don't have to touch it. That's because I have too much MAGIC. I can make watches stop, light bulbs fizzle, phones die.

Maybe I could be an alternate energy source...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Diversity

One of my writer's groups has been discussing a blog written by another writer, calling out romance authors about their lack of character diversity. There's probably something to that. Especially, if the writer's circle of friends all look/think/live like him or her. There are lots of people who never really associate with folks that aren't part of their circle.

Most of us, though, deal with diverse groups of people in our daily lives. As we shop, go to the doctor's office, do laundry at the Laundomat, visit the library, and work, we brush up against a host of different individuals. The trick is to see them. Most of us don't.

Think about it. If I asked you to describe the last five individuals you dealt with (in any capacity), could you?

I'll be honest, I will be hard pressed to do this, but that's because I haven't dealt with five people in...two or three weeks. Hmmm. The cashier at Wal-Mart. She was a young woman, possibly Indian or Pakistani in background, very pleasant. Dark hair, and in spite of what is probably a tiresome job, her eyes smiled.

Another woman at Wal-Mart, obviously fatigued, but very patient, located and helped me tape an envelope closed so I could mail it. She also smiled. She was what I think of as standard Caucasian-American, on the skinny side, light hair going gray. 

At the post office, the clerk (I suspect he was a supervisor), very patiently explained the forms I needed to fill in so I could mail a package overseas. He was pleasant to deal with and smiled a lot, even though the post office was very busy. Maybe forties with dark hair, not fat, but solid.

So three people. All smiled and that's what I noticed first and last.

The first four books I wrote had a wide cast of characters:

Dancer's Delight--the hero was an assassin whose cover was as a concert violinist with a penchant for cooking. His heroine was a tall, queenly blue-skinned woman with pointed ears, tilted eyes, and fangs who was fond of gardening.

Chrysanthemum--the hero was King Arthur's son, a librarian in the castle with a penchant for...piercing. The heroine was the daughter of the king's wardrobe master and a wannabe historian.

Honeysuckle--the heroes were twin Firebird shifters serving the king (their uncle) in a security capacity. The heroine (Chrysanthemum's sister) was a fiesty redhead also serving the king in the same capacity (unbeknownst to them).

Traveller's Refuge--the hero (Dancer's brother) was a spy who longed for retirement and did stained-glass work as a hobby. His heroine, was also blue (sister of the heroine in Dancer's Delight), but shaped more like a pixie, who served as the potter for her village.

The cast of secondary characters were blue, white, asian, black, green, tall, short, skinny, fat, old (nearly 100), young (newborn), dragons, firebirds, unicorns, packits, dintis, pirates, knights, trolls, fairies, wizards, warriors, weavers, healers, 'working girls' and...even a couple really, really bad guys. I believe life should be interesting. So should stories. Variety is everything. I suppose you could say my books cover the diversity issue. I was ahead of my time.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

And The Candidate Is?

Political mayhem season is here once more. But then...it never really goes away. Before the votes are counted, someone out there is planning to run for office the next time around. I've read so many ideas about how to fix our political system. Some are possible. Maybe.

Regardless of what a prospective candidate might say, the number one reason to run for office is power. Number two is prestige. Therefore, once an individual is actually elected, what possible reason would he or she have to yield their position to a new candidate? None. Secretly, whether they admit it or not, every politician is aiming for the White House.

I think we should have a national Host or Hostess. This position would do all the social stuff. Welcome dignitaries. Host dinners and special events at the White House. Travel to other countries as good will ambassadors. And their political power would be zero. In order to qualify for the position, they would have to demonstrate their social abilities.

Then stashed somewhere out of the limelight--maybe at Camp David--we could have a CEO, elected every four years just like a president, BUT he would have to demonstrate his qualifications prior to running. Good looks, connections, and a charismatic smile wouldn't be important because this dude would never leave the country. His chance at a second four years would depend on his performance. Bad performance? He or she would be gone like the wind. And no Secret Service once he's done. No paycheck. No bennies.

The same for the members of Congress. Two terms max. Minimum wage paychecks. No bennies. No freebies. No retirement. No travel allowance. Senators and Representatives would be required to spend a minimum of 50% of their time in their home districts, actually available at an office open to their constituents.

Political mayhem season could be limited by law to four months. Except for the official 'season', no ads, no talking heads, no PR ops. After all, if they're doing their jobs, they won't have time for all that nonsense. They'll be working!

Instead of the so-called journalists covering non-events, they could actually work to inform the public with real information, detailing the real work of our elected officials.

The truth is the money we spend paying all these clowns, covering benefits, retirement, security, blah, blah, blah...would be enough to balance our budget. So I say, let them prove their worth or toss 'em out.