Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Ends of the Color Spectrum

Yesterday the world learned about the horrific execution of a 17-year-old Chicago boy last October. He was gunned down by a white cop answering reports that cars were being vandalized. The first two shots into the kid's back took him down, but the officer approached and at close range fired another sixteen bullets into his victim. It is beyond beyond, certainly one of the the worst examples of police racism ever. The whole thing was captured on a video which was just released yesterday. Hours later, in a CYA move on the part of the Chicago police, the officer was arrested. One wonders what he's been doing since the murder of this boy one year ago? Was he still out "protecting" the citizens of Chicago?

A friend of mine works for a large company seeking to hire a new CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Starting out there were more than thirty applicants eager for the job, and they had to be whittled down to a reasonable number to be interviewed in person. There were nine who made the first cut. My friend, the ultimate decision-maker, sought my help to continue the whittling. Finally he came down to the two men he had liked the best in person, who also had the most pertinent experience and could definitely do the job handily. But then he mentioned, "The third best candidate is a black woman." I asked if the company, which already employs many women in top positions, has any black executives. He said no. One guess who's getting the job.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Changing Times

Today I was driving behind a Masshole, which is what we here in Maine call drivers from Massachusetts, and wow, was she ever one. Besides being a terrible driver -- not signalling ever and going way too slow to qualify for the left lane -- the back of her Toyota Corolla was plastered with bumper stickers for Hillary Clinton. I got a chance to see them up close for a really long time, and they sure were stupid. One of them said, "I'm ready for Hillary for President." I wondered how one gets ready for that, and what not being ready for it looks like. Another one simply said "Madame President." There were others, maybe eight or ten in all, slapped on willy-nilly.

These days, with terrorists eager to blow you up or shoot you down, I find it surprising that people drive around wearing their hearts on their sleeves, which is essentially what a bumper sticker does. I want the stranger in the car next to me, ahead of me and behind me to know as little about me as possible. I'm already putting myself out there by driving a bright red car; they certainly don't need more information, least of all what my other car is or where my child is an honor student.

The only bumper sticker I ever displayed was EAT BERTHA'S MUSSELS, which referred to a funky seafood restaurant (Bertha's) in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. Other people with a Bertha's bumper sticker would honk as they passed by. It was sort of like being in a cool club of fun people. It even got me out of a ticket one time, when the cop who pulled me over for going through a yellow light that might have been red decided to let me off with a warning because, as he said, "Anyone who eats at Bertha's is okay in my book." That was back in the early 1980s, when Baltimore was safe and sane. Today that same cop would likely arrest me or shoot me on the spot.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beyond All Reason

Yogurt: Never again!
In today's paper there is a teeny little article about the fact that at the University of Ottawa, a yoga class that has been taught since 2008 is being discontinued because it is politically incorrect, since "there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice" and fears over "which cultures those practices are being taken from." Yup, you read that right. Here's more: "Many of those cultures have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy. We need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practicing yoga."

So to be sure I don't commit an act of political incorrectness I am taking stock and changing my behavior. Following are a few of the steps I will implement in order to avoid making anyone at all uncomfortable:

1. First and foremost I will stop eating all yogurt. Not only does it sound very much like "yoga," which we now know is bad, but it is made from cultures, and eating an entire culture can never be good.

2. I am discarding all my black clothing since the wearing of blacks can only be seen as racist behavior.

3. I am installing ramps leading to all my doors because you never know when a handicapped Jehovah's Witness or Mormon will stop by to proselytize. We must be open to all religions.

4. I am burning all my books that have anything to do with racism, sexism, history, the Irish, Native Americans, and all other peoples who may have been abused by our evil government. This will free up a lot of space on my shelves where I can instead house several three-year-old Syrian refugee orphans, I heard many of them are coming soon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Everybody Qigong

I am so tired of anger. I think I will not have any anymore. Right now my husband is on the phone in the next room, yelling. Who at or what about is not important, the fact is that yelling is tiresome and doesn't change minds. I imagine that if nobody got angry, problems would either dissolve or be solved. Try it in your own life. And if you know any members of ISIS, get them to try it.

Yesterday I participated in a three-hour workshop covering the basics of Qigong, which is sort of like Tai Chi but different and please don't ask me how. Anyway, for the whole time I did not have one angry, depressed, sad, dire or uncomfortable thought. It was paradise.

I'm pretty sure that if everyone spent their leisure time doing Qigong instead of playing video games or watching violent movies or bombing innocents, the world would fundamentally change for the better.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Words to Live By

We never know each day when we wake up what will happen. The sun rises and the sun sets, and in between is chaos. Today I learned that a wonderful person I knew back in high school (South Side Senior High, Class of '64) died last Friday. Jane had been battling cancer for some time and finally succumbed. She left the following final reflections which I share here with you, dear reader.

Final Thoughts from Jane Kinzler

All you have to do is live your life.

Gratitude is a portal to compassion.

Receive the encouragement that is offered.

Be at peace with the surroundings.

And allow the stories to unfold.

The less the resistance, the fewer the obstacles.

Regard what is around you as a gift, not an obligation or a chore.

Enjoy your time on the planet.

Enjoy the journey.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pet Pet Peeves

A pet peeve is defined as "Something that is annoying to a particular person that may not be annoying to others." Mine is having pets. I am clearly in the minority on this one, since according to the ASPCA there are now approximately 70-80 million households in America with dogs and another 74-96 million with cats, and I'm guessing that the people who own those animals enjoy having them. This may not be true, since I am among the cat owners (and until two years ago the dog owners) and I am sick to death of the whole shebang.

The last week of my life would make a great comic movie starring Seth Rogan and James Franco, if only it were funnier. In fact, if it were even the teeniest bit funny. Actually it would make a better drama, a tearjerker like Sophie's Choice only without the Nazis.

I can hardly stand to relive the gory details so I'll just say it fast to get it over with: To recover from the death of my beloved cat of twenty years, which bummed me out as much as any death of any being ever has, and to get my surviving cat a replacement companion, I purchased an adorable seven-month-old kitten from a local shelter. Once home with us, that new kitten stopped being adorable and turned into Carrie of the cat world. It bummed out my surviving cat much more than the death of my other cat bummed me out, to the point that he took off on the morning of the third day and stayed away for 12 hours, returning late at night in dire condition, sick and weird and hiding under the bed and not eating, drinking or using the litter box.

We got the point and returned the new kitty to the shelter, a loss of only $89.00 and thus no big deal although it could feed a family of refugees for a week no doubt; what refugees where I am not saying because don't get me started on that whole thing.

Anyway, Lurch was sick for two days, and so a vet visit was necessary and then another one requiring an x-ray and blood work and subcutaneous intravenous fluids and an appetite stimulant, and in all upwards of $6oo was spent to get him back to somewhat normal. (I am leaving out the grossest part that took place last night and after which I may never be the same, involving cat feces and that's all I'll say, necessitating a day spent laundering everything in my house including but not limited to bedding, bathrobes, personal clothing, towels and more. I went to a laundromat for the first time in 40 years since I needed a commercial washer for some of the larger items.)

So then this afternoon, after Lurch's morning douche in the kitchen sink (which thank God my son was kind enough to drive over and join me for since it's a two-person job when the cat weighs fifteen pounds), he seemed better and was no longer hiding under the bed and seemed eager to go out. Since he had finally eaten and actually performed some bodily functions that were close to what is deemed normal on this planet, I made the executive decision to let him go, thinking he would be back in half an hour since it was his first jaunt after being sick. But, he's now been gone four hours and I am not only looking out all the windows and opening all the doors constantly, I am writing this post about it, and that just sucks.

And that's why I am done with pets and if Lurch never comes back then I say good riddance to him and his kind.  I will simply donate my pet beds and pet carriers and cats toys to the shelter and be done with the whole lot of them and enjoy what little time I have left without worrying about finding a pet sitter to go away for a freaking weekend when the spirit moves me (if I ever have any spirit anymore without Lurch).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Donald's Plain Talk

The Donald is pissed.
I just watched Donald Trump on C-Span giving a speech to a packed arena somewhere in New Hampshire yesterday. The crowd absolutely loved him, and while he said many things that got applause, the one statement that had everyone clapping wildly and up on their feet was his plan for handling the terror organization known as ISIS: "We have to bomb the shit out of them!"

It was shocking -- even to me and I admit to having a gutter mouth -- to hear someone running for president talk that way. What way? The way everyone in real life talks all the time. But somehow our politicians have gotten it into their heads that they need a gang of highly paid speechwriters to dream up fancy language full of esoteric rhetoric and soaring euphemisms to get our votes. Well guess what: that's how Obama got elected, and it hasn't worked out too well. The sad truth is that fancy talk won't stop terror attacks.

Donald Trump may not be the right mouthpiece, but diplomacy isn't always the right solution. That rousing roar of approval Trump got for his proposed solution suggests that many of our fellow Americans feel it's time to get some muscle back into the Oval Office.