Or That Was The Week That Was.

I can hardly believe that a week has gone by already. The time seems to drag when I am waiting for Mike to get back from dialysis, only for it to pass far too quickly when we are together. There is also the fact that we lose three days a week as Mike is often fatigued by the dialysis and he still has a low hb. Still as Mike says, he is still upright.

It is election day today. It fills me with dread. I fear for what will happen if the media is right about the outcome. As a child I naively thought that the MP for the area you lived actually did what his constituency wanted. As Jasper Carrot jokingly said last night, that they actually asked people how they wanted them to vote on really important issues like Health, Education, Laws and Welfare.  Of course they never ask. They never listen to the man on the street. Even if you find a party whose policies you agree with, there is no guarantee they will get a seat, far too many “safe” seats in England’s two party system. I despise politics, can you tell?

My granddaughter’s present is still collecting dust, I have decided for now to say no more to my daughter, to watch and wait. So on Saturday I made cupcakes and used the pink glitter I had bought originally to put on the cake I was going to bake with my other daughter, the one who decided to do it by herself. Luckily Princess Charlotte was born on the day I baked them so we ate them in her honour. 

I think I am possibly getting a bit senile, I saw this in a shop locally and I just had to have it.

It cheers me up, whirling away in the garden like a rather dangerous circular saw. Hopefully the bloomin pigeons might fly too close and stop eating my veg!

At the fair

“I’m always right and I never lie,” swore the candidate. His teeth gleamed a radioactive white as he simultaneously spoke and grinned an endearing smile that seemed practiced to support his position. In one hand he held a corn dog, well wrapped by a napkin to protect his custom cut Armani suit. He looked nothing like the people of the venue; a state fair was not his dress for success destination. He should be wearing cowboy boots, tailored jeans and a western top with pearlescent snaps enclosing his shirt and decorating his pocket flaps. At least he wasn’t wearing a western hat. Such an accoutrement would broadcast LIAR over his head in neon red. The leather vest was trying to fill in for the hat anyway. He couldn’t have looked less like he belonged there. In the eyes of many he didn’t, but Iowa was where those people entertaining a run in the coming elections all congregated all showed up to announced their candidacy while swearing up and down they had no intention to run -although if asked would probably set aside their desire to spend more family values time with family and accept the opinions of supporters to take a shot at the big chair.

A television news reporter pressed a mic in his face and asked, rhetorically of course, That between then and a private 200,000 viewers that he was truth the best chance for a party with. The answer was an abashed “Well, I do have the experience and the contact to reach across the aisle to secure the proposed agreements that might propel the country forward from its current static place. Our congress has single digit approval numbers. To invite the incumbent back is to invite the status quo, which certainly leaves us stuck in the tanglefoot quagmire we’ve experienced for the last thirty years.”

“So, you’re going to run?” asked the reporter.

“No decision has been made. Like I said, I’m just here to sample the winds.” The teeth gleamed brightly again. Behind him, the candidate handed his corn dog off to his aide who dumped it surreptitiously into a nearby trash can.

Fifty feet away, another politician, a stately woman with a Murphy Brown hairstyle wore a bright red dress with white sleeves. A blue scarf hung stylishly over her shoulders and embraced her neck. Another reporter was asking if she planned to run in the coming election. Again the candidate claimed they were merely putting a toe in the water to test the temperature, but had no specific plan to run. She too, she explained, would certainly step up if called by her constituents.

In fact, of the twenty two politicians at the fair, none of them was willing to come right out and say they planned to run. The truth was that they were merely preening for those who might step forward and offer the beginnings of a war chest to fund a run for the office. The likelihood was that they would all become announced candidates and then their numbers would dwindle as those with the greatest financial support would be able to soldier on. Others would be given deals for interim offices to step away, others yet would simply fade from the limelight to turn up later in private sector lobbying positions, their connections across the aisle use for access to those who went the distance.

All around this activity would be the bustle of the fair itself. Young farmers would show their pet livestock, families would play games of chance where a few would take home large stuffed animals or a doomed goldfish swimming in tiny globes of colored water. Cotton candy, ketchup and mustard would stain clothing like Picasso art pieces and kids, tired from a long day, would argue in the back seat of the family car. In truth, few, if any of the families, would have taken much notice of the politicians who came to the fair for exposure. The fair existed on two planes; one was as a backdrop to prove the down home, family valued nature of potential candidates to reporters desperate to fill their columns or air space. The other was actually a piece of Americana, an attempt to stretch an expired image of national life another year in spite of the winds of change that time and technology that continued to morph the country.  In a few days it would be forgotten, the photos taken with smartphones shared among the circles of friends who were now off to new gossip and new games, films and apps for the kids, new concerns about money and the practical obstacles for the parents.

The politicians would vanish for a while, to reappear at another time on the airwaves, and they point back to their visit to Iowa as proof of their connection to the middle class, which they knew no longer existed. And the game would play on and on.




On being judged

Trigger Warning: This is a rant. There is some mild swearing. I am angry!

I have had a rather upsetting little contretemps with a so-called friend…

It happened after I posted this on Facebook: “Today will include hair colouring (if I get a shift on), Tai Chi, knitting, meeting the editor of a local paper about writing for them, completing a DLA form and a scholarship application for Playback training, then maybe some writing and more knitting in my chair. Phew!”

My friend [sic] asked “Do you need a scholarship?”

Now, maybe that could be seen as a harmless enquiry, but my guts reacted with a clench – I felt I was being judged.

So I checked it out with her… And yes, I was being judged. She claimed that she wasn’t judging me, she just “…had to wonder at [my] application for a scholarship… considering [my] jet set lifestyle and recent shopping sprees, is all.”

Have we known each other for over twenty years? Have I been supportive of her health issues? Do I trust her to make valid decisions about her life? Yes, on all counts.

Did she read my recent post about my not normal life? Does she understand anything about my situation? Does she get it? Did someone not tell me that she has been nominated judge and jury over my life for the day? I think perhaps not, on all counts.

Because I am making the most of my time and funds…

Because I am travelling and doing as much as I can, spending money much more freely than ever before (on other people as well as myself), admittedly with some support from my family, but mostly using savings that I would otherwise have saved until I retire. By the way, that will be the retirement savings that are unlikely to be needed because that will be the retirement age I am unlikely to reach – not even the retirement age that used to be expected (60), let alone the age one has to attain now, due to government budget changes, in order to get the state pension(66)…

Because of my deliberate openness in sharing all of my activities, not hiding, being proud, bold and quite decadent at present… after over two years of feeling sick, fatigued, disabled, isolated, in treatment, being prodded and poked with cannulas, biopsy needles, chemo and other drugs, undergoing tests and procedures, experiencing a variety of side effects, a couple of hospital admissions and regular visits to clinic and Daycase, none of which is over… (More on current treatment shortly, once I have regained my equilibrium.)

And yes, perhaps I am playing the cancer card. Well, guess what, surprise surprise, I have cancer. I have an incurable cancer. I have every right to play the cancer card.

Because of all this, she is “… sometimes shocked by [my] apparent lack of awareness around [my] privilege.” So has she decided that perhaps I should “use [my] savings to do Playback and leave the funds for people less fortunate.”

This is all without knowing anything about my awareness of privilege, or how the scholarship funding is determined, or about any conversations I have had with the Playback School, or about the strong support I have from the school and without any empathic enquiry… In fact without knowing very much at all about anything, only that she felt “uncomfortable”.

I believe “uncomfortable” is a red herring. I think envy is playing a role here. I did suggest that, but understandably was met with denial and the counter that “[she] too live[s] with a lifelong, sometimes, life-threatening condition”.

Now envy is a strange thing, isn’t it? I am pretty sure she would not wish to swap with me, to have an incurable cancer shortening her life. And if she did have cancer, I am confident that she too would grab every opportunity to take up training, volunteer, make a difference, travel, spend on herself and other people and do all those things that one puts on a ‘when-I-have-time’ or ‘when-I-retire’ list, or what I have called my List for Living.

Privilege is another strange thing. Yes, I am privileged to come from a family with money to support me and that for many people facing cancer, even in the UK, where we have the NHS, not to mention other countries where treatment is dependent on having the funds to pay or the ability to fight/negotiate with an insurance company, where no money = no treatment, end of story. Yes, I am very lucky not to be facing poverty on top of ill health, pain and an incurable cancer. However, I believe that I am using my privilege to make a difference.

Aside from the fact that judging people based on your perception of their experience is really not acceptable, not helpful in terms of changing the other person’s behaviour, if that is her intention, and it’s definitely not empathic. By the way, this friend is in training to become a counsellor… She is not the first of this ilk, nor I doubt will be the last. Hmmm… Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes comes to mind.

I resent being put in a position of feeling the need to justify my choices, my spending, my application for help with funding, my reasons for asking for help. And I am not about to start here.

Oh yes, I was tempted to lay it all out here, but that idea makes me even more angry. I am not asking for her or anyone else’s permission. I do not wish to be judged full stop! If you cannot support me in my decisions and activities, then go and whisper about it to someone else who cares for your opinion. Because that is all it is.

I resent the stress and self-doubt that having this conversation has caused me. I resent my politics being called into question: “I often wonder where your ‘politics’ actually are.” I beg your pardon?! WTF???!

One thing that has changed for me during these past three years is a strengthening of my bullshit radar. While I have become softer, more compassionate, more appreciative and more generous (especially while on steroids) towards those whom I love and who love me, not to mention towards strangers and charitable organisations, I have also become a lot clearer about and quicker to respond to behaviour that is unsupportive, detrimental to my well-being, or even downright toxic.

I will no longer tolerate people who purport to be friends but behave like enemies. I believe the current terminology is ‘frenemy’. I already have an internal frenemy, in the form of myeloma! That, at least, is just going about its own business, which just happens to be detrimental to my health, but I don’t perceive it to be actively malicious. It’s not out to get me. And it was never a friend, so I do not feel hurt by betrayal.

In the past, in the years before cancer, if I encountered challenges like this, I would spend many troubled hours soul-searching and berating myself for my failings. I would take on all sorts of crap that other people threw at me. I am not saying I was always right, that I never made mistakes – of course I did – I still do. But often I was so keen to make things right, to avoid confrontation, to take the blame for things, to question myself before anyone else, to please people rather than validate myself, that I would twist myself into all sorts of painful positions to put things right that many times were not my wrongs.

These days, I will not do that so readily. I am a lot more in touch with my gut feelings and I trust them more than I ever did. I can admit being wrong when I believe I am, and I do my utmost to put things right when I mess up, but I can also stand up for myself in ways I wouldn’t have dared to do before. I feel stronger and more assertive than ever and less afraid of the discomfort that challenge and confrontation brings.

Some of this new-found strength of character is from going through all I have experienced in the last three years. It has brought out a warrior spirit in me. Some of that is due to the influence of a friend, whose directness and fiercely protective attitude around me has allowed me to experience a stronger sense of myself and my value. Standing up for myself is valid. This friend’s bullshit detector is on full-strength and for the most part I trust her, even when we don’t always agree on the best way to deal with the crap.

So, all the haters out there, please take note: You are no longer dealing with a doormat. I do not need nor want your heartless, envious judgements or your lack of trust in me. If that is what you bring to me in the name of friendship, then I no longer need your friendship. Fortunately, along with everything else I have encountered on this journey, I have found plenty of good friends, a strengthened bond with my family and people who were just waiting to appear in my life, people who accept, support, care for and love me. And the feeling is strongly reciprocated. I am fiercely loyal to my friends, grateful to and proud of them.

Ok, I think I’m done. Rant over. Thank you for reading. Supportive comments are welcome. Anything else, please take elsewhere.

Turning the Page

Welcome to the future!

Well, here we are in 2014. A new year begins for us all, and there is a lot of promise said to be coming to fruition. Sadly, many of the promises are negative, but hey, at least there is something new on the horizon and it’s not the same old stuff of 2013. Perhaps this year will show congress in a more productive light; but I suppose we should be careful what we wish for in that regard. It seems that when congress does something these days, it unwinds something it took decades to build. Of course, it’s always easier to destroy than create.

For Multiple Myeloma there are the promises of new treatment options. They look suspiciously like the ones we’ve been using already, but let’s take a positive view and hope that things do get better. Every little bit helps.

Technology looks to be delivering a crop of brand new (or at least reachable) products. We can now get a 3D printer for well under $1000, watches that are almost (but not really) computers, and a bevy of new and lower priced tablets. There is new software available to the brokers selling electrical power to us that will lower their cost and make their operations more efficient. So far, there’s no word about it making power any cheaper for the end users. But there is good news in that alternative systems for generating power are affordable and finally worth installing that can put a serious dent in our power bills. Plus that, we have LED based lighting that costs very little to operate and is finally able to duplicate the soft and warm glow of incandescent lamps. Bye bye to the harsh blue hued glare. In fact, with RGB leds available, you can have your regular lighting be any color you like, and even get fancy with it at holiday time. Finally! A way to leave your Christmas lights up year ’round without looking like a dork.

More electric cars are headed out to the streets. Sadly, we’re still not seeing charging stations cropping up in any useful numbers. Judging from last year where a few electric auto owners were wrist slapped for plugging into available power sockets, it will pay for electric car owners to make sure they get written permission to charge before plugging in to power sources. Not everyone feels contributory towards supporting lower carbon footprints and reducing internal combustion pollution, even to the tune of a few cents.

This may be the year of the drones. Colleges and large employers have discovered the utility of being able to guard students or employees as they walk about campuses, stepping up security in an effective and inexpensive way. Then too there are the stated intentions of using drones to deliver goods, but I somehow think that these plas are still effectively publicity magnets rather than any real indicator of a change to delivery methods by Amazon or UPS or even burrito companies. However, research and security will definitely feel the love through drones and their ability to gather information more rapidly and less expensively than when performed by humans. They’re safer too.

This is also bound to be a year of heightened security. No, not more uniformed watchdogs at the airport, I mean personal information security. Companies and households will be abandoning the free cloud storage offered by data miners in favor of private clouds, what with the incredible simplicity and ease of doing so offered in new product lines. For around $100 individuals and families can park the data available to their PCs, smartphones, tablets, smart televisions and so on into multi-terabyte network based storage. This will cut out the data vultures of both government and marketing agencies. Privacy will also be driving people away from social media sites and over to the more tightly controlled person to person communication platforms, leaving Facebook and others for grandparents to post pictures of their grandkids. Smart moves.

And, of course, this will be a year of greater global involvements as science, medicine, government and conflict shape shift and produce results both expected and unexpected.  Yesterday’s future is today’s now, so welcome to the future and accept my hopes it’s all you hoped it would be.


Pity Party

As a veteran who’s experienced profound loss in my efforts to defend American principals through war, I feel I have a vested interest in my nation and it’s adherence to the principals we fought for. That doesn’t mean my opinions are better than anyone else’s, it means that when the nation appears to have veered or even swayed from those principals I was fighting to defend and seed, I tend to take it perhaps more personally. To coin a phrase, I have skin in the game.

In that regard, this election is particularly disturbing to me. That feeling has nothing to do with one party or another, I’m just talking about how I don’t feel that this election is doing anything to further the national ideals as I see them. My objection is to both parties because I believe, and firmly so, that we have lost the government designed by the Constitutional framers by virtue of a loss of moderation and objectivity. We have come to the point where I don’t believe that any candidate for office is very different from any other within their party. Individuality has been lost to party agenda on both sides to such a degree that literally anyone who can read would be equally effective. There is no such thing anymore as politicians who think with any independence. Instead they all merely regurgitate the party line of the liberal or conservative agenda.

I see elements from both party agendas which I support. Yet at the same time I see elements of those party agendas which I find disturbing and in some cases inexcusably reprehensible. That leaves me, as a voter, unable to vote for the most qualified candidate and instead forced into voting for the least disgusting. This nation was designed to have a two party system so that a balance of ideas from the two primary perspectives would reign and thus make our government representative of the majority of the people. Further, it was designed so that no religion (or lack of one) could force any citizen to live within the mandates of any given faith. These two ideas were the foundation which made government subservient to its citizens and underscored the position of political aspirants as public servants.

I believe that with the emergence of unbending partisan agenda that we have lost the most important facet of government that made it truly responsible to the will of the people. Atop it all, topics of all stripe have been politicized –and within a climate of fear, casting aside objectivity and causing the government to become more and more intrusive while being less and less responsive. No party is more or less guilty, the responsibility is shared by not only republicans and democrats, but by the people as well. No one is doing their jobs properly in my perspective. What I am seeing in my government, the uninformed behavior of closed mindedness is shared equally between politics and the people governed by it. As such, I’m dismayed.

I don’t know that this nation has been so divided as it is now. It is almost impossible to have an objective discussion about politics –so much emotion is attached to so many of the topics. It’s almost as though it would be wise to divide the nation into two parts; separate but friendly nations. It’s a lot easier to tolerate issues we might find reprehensible if they were the status quo in a nation other than our own. But that’s really not an option and wholly unrealistic. The fact is that this election is going to determine the course of our country in ways it never has before. This time, we are thrust into a choice between the far poles of conservative versus liberal. The conservative side representing libertarian leanings and the liberals a more socialistic bent. I don’t think you can get two political sides any farther apart or any less willing to compromise. Bi-partisanship is as dead as the dinosaurs.

No matter who wins the election, it’s going to make me sad. I guess that takes me from the republican or democratic parties and plunks me into the pity party.

Did you see …

Well, the first Obama/Romney debate is over, and here are my thoughts…   I don’t have any. The debate has not had any effect on my thinking at all, because I have already made my choices, state and federal, based on the records and credentials of the candidates. I worry about people who would allow a few speed speeches to sway them at this late date. Those who haven’t already made up their minds, or are being swayed at the last moment, obviously haven’t taken any time to research one of the most important decisions a citizen could make. I watched the debate. It was a lot more interesting than most of what I see on the tube these days.

A year or so ago a friend of mine made a political statement that came at me out of left field. What he said was totally inaccurate, and it was easy to point him at the records which showed he had been terribly misinformed. He said to me in reply that he just didn’t have the time to research any of the candidates for office. I wrote back to him, chastising him for failing at his most sacred obligation of citizenship. If you’re too busy to look at the candidates for an office that is going to affect your life, then I tend to assume you’re probably the kind of person who drives drunk, leaves children unattended for days, and locks your pet in a closed up car in the middle of the summer. Okay, that was kind of nasty, but the truth is that you’re being awfully cavalier about not just your life and well being, but that of your neighbors and fellow citizens.

Yeah, I’m pretty judgemental about this, I admit it. But this is a subject in which there just isn’t a lot of slack. Everyone needs to participate and take their vote seriously, and refuse to be one of the people who think that their vote doesn’t matter. A lot of people have worked and died so that we can participate in our government, starting from the Founders and spanning the decades to this very moment.  I know I want to live in a country that is directed by the wishes of the majority, not a group, a party, an organization or individual.  I don’t pay any attention to commercials, TV and radio shows, and specialized Internet destinations –because they simply aren’t accurate. Many are outright lies. If you get your information on candidates from the media, then you’re making a huge and dangerous mistake. I don’t understand why anyone cares what Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews has to say, I think everyone should care about what the candidates have done, what their record is, and how they have voted on the issues they’ve been presented. If you don’t care the same way, then chances are you’re getting fleeced. You probably believe in at least some of the many falsehoods that surround the various candidates. Anymore, I don’t even believe in what the candidates themselves have to say, instead finding it pretty obvious that during campaign season they’re presenting themselves in the best light they can. For all of any of the candidate’s campaign promises over the decades of my life, I have seen precious few of them actually honored. I let their records do the talking, and pay attention to the way they operate. With our Congress having single digit approval ratings, the last four years have spoken volumes about how ineffectual both sides of the aisle have been. Neither the Congress or the Senate members are able to hold their heads very high, having made partisan stonewalling more important than the welfare of the country. We all know how badly they’ve performed, and it wasn’t any single person that caused our government to be the object of such national contempt and disdain, it was, sadly, the majority of people we allowed to govern us. We all screwed up royally, and we should be giving serious thought to trying to set things back on track. And no, I’m not favoring or blaming either party –they both stunk.

I think I spent a total of about five or six hours over the last year reading up on the people running for offices that affected me. Doing actual research, I mean. That includes municipal, county, state and federal governments. That’s not a lot of time, considering it was a few minutes here and a few there. That’s really all it took. Given that I went straight to the horse’s mouth, it also showed me in technicolor which people were serving up bovine effluence and which were serving sirloin. The fallacies we are inundated with only serve to reinforce that the media invariably serves a cause –much more than they might serve the nation or simply serve the truth. As they always say in murder mysteries, follow the money. In the case of the media, do the same. You’re always going to find that there’s an agenda controlling the purse strings, and therefore the content of that media outlet. You really can’t trust information doled out to you without your soliciting it. Even then, you have to be sure of where you’ve gone to look. Fortunately, no one has yet figured out how to corrupt things like the senatorial or congressional records, and likewise local government records. So there are easily reachable sources for information that are accurate. But the very easiest sources, the ones that seek you out on TV, radio, and print, are actually the least most trustworthy. Like they say, if you believe in any of these broadcast talking heads, I have a bridge to sell you.

I’m pretty sure that some of you may be feeling insulted and demeaned by what I’ve said today. I’m sorry, I don’t set out to make anyone uncomfortable. My job, as I see it is to “tell it like it is” for someone who suffers a life ending cancer. But my life isn’t all about cancer; my life is defined by much more than Multiple Myeloma. The people who will be making decisions about my VA benefits, my medical programs, and other aspects of my life are very much an important aspect of my existence and so I am writing about this stuff.

Finishing up, I have made my choices when it comes to politics, and so I’m not all atwitter about who said what or how well this or that candidate came off in the latest debate. This isn’t a beauty contest or American Idol. The contestants in this particular set of races and how they will affect us and our future is way too important to treat it like an episode of Project Runway or Chopped. No matter which side of the fence you sit politically, I urge you to spend a little time getting your own information from certified sources. Then get out and vote. It’s your duty, and failing to perform it disservices us all and spits in the faces of those who gave their all for our democracy.

He Said that She Said

I posted a review of the EW-36 mobility scooter on Amazon. The review has been there for almost a year and has generated some discussions from questions people asked me. I gave the scooter a positive review (4 stars) because it has been a good scooter for me. For my uses, it is a good fit to me. Then a question appeared asking what the length of the scooter was, and I took a tape measure and checked. I reported that it was 61 inches long. The man replied that he had asked a sales representative of one of the distributors the same question and got the reply that it was 54 inches long. That devolved into a rant about how he had been lied to by the manufacturer so they could make a sale. The more he wrote on, the worse it got. Along the way he mentioned that he’d purchased the scooter and was awaiting its delivery, but since the company had purposely defrauded him, he no longer wanted his scooter and offered it for sale for half of what he paid. I wish I had the money, I would take him up on his offer. But I was really surprised about how this guy had whipped himself into such a self-destructive frenzy that based itself on a misstatement. The wheelbase of the scooter was confused for the length.

But it surprised me as well that the dimensions of the scooter are clearly published on virtually every ad I’ve seen for it, and the length is reported as 61 inches. So the information the guy was looking for was available if he wished to look. But look what happened there. He got information that was incorrect from a telephone sales representative who answered for thousands of different products. He made a mistake, sure. But the error of a sales guy was then applied to the manufacturer, and atop that, made it into a purposeful negative act.

I couldn’t help but think about this guy who I had concluded was a complete idiot. He based his purchase initially on reading a couple of good reviews. Then he read a bad review and got the wrong length answer, so based on negatives of his one experience, but mostly because of the bad review he read, he now wanted out of his purchase so badly he was willing to throw $800 into the closest garbage can.

Watching Fox News about an hour later, I was feeling a sense of deja vu and I realized that my experience with Scooter Man was a metaphor for American politics these days. I find that the majority of the people I talk to about politics seem to be basing their opinions on the opinions of others, and that a information being distributed was, in many cases, incorrect. I have to think my fellow Republicans are perhaps more guilty of this than democrats, but not by much. I personally think that the coming presidential election will be determined more by the opinions of others than the ideas and determinations of individual voters. I hear a lot more people say “I heard from this guy at the office/club/golf course …” than I hear “Well, the public record show that …” I’m afraid my involvement in conversations like that tends to make me a bit unpopular because I end up chastising people for claiming they didn’t have enough time to actually research candidates. They had enough time to watch the streams at Facebook and Twitter, time to shoot the breeze at the water cooler or the cocktail party, but no ten minutes to look up the record of a candidate.

I was raised with a sense of national service instilled in me. That’s why I volunteered for the Army and then volunteered to go to Vietnam. As well though, I see the citizenship that I fought to defend entails certain duties, the foremost being an informed voter. We elect politicians to govern our nation and so our actions are critical to ensure that our nation sets and holds an admirable and just course. To base our choices on “what this guy heard from someone who read somewhere that …” is just plain asinine. Virtually everyone I meet has strong opinions about government and the way it has conducted itself over time, and it seems that a majority of them cannot defend their reasons for supporting a candidate anymore than Scooter Man can defend his distaste for a popular scooter.

I shouldn’t be surprised to learn this. Just look at the arguments people have for their television programming choices. Many people have a distaste for cable and others for Dish or DirecTV. Most of the people with negative opinions have them because of what others have related to them as bad experiences with their provider. About 8 years ago I had cable and I switched out to DirecTV because I was unhappy with customer service, programming choices and pricing. Three years ago I moved back to cable because I was unhappy with customer service, programming choices and pricing. I admit that part of what swayed me was that both times my belief was supported by others who shared my observations. This is a perfectly fine way to decide where you’re going to get your video from, but it’s a bad idea to employ in choosing government. Why? The television you personally watch doesn’t have an indelible effect on the course of life and country.

It will be interesting to see how the nation reacts to the campaigns as more and more money is thrown into the fray and more and more disinformation is treated as valid currency. The next three months will be something to see. The question in my mind isn’t really so much as who the next president will be, as how he will have amassed the winning vote count.


All Crossed Up

In 1934 veterans of WWI erected a monument to fallen American soldiers in the Mojave Valley. It was marked by a large cross, a symbol to the lost. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit and caused the closing of the monument, based on the fact that the cross was considered a religious symbol –and therefore offensive. Just this year, the court case appeals finally reversed the initial decision and did a little land swapping. The area is now again a memorial to falled soldiers, the cross has been returned, and the property has been fenced in and marked as a private memorial to World War One.

Future Tense

The ship had traveled at 0.8 C as it crossed the cosmos in a large and lazy circle. Traveling at nearly the speed of light had slowed time for the pilot, a man selected for his lack of family and willingness to leave all he knew behind. When the ship at last returned to mother Earth, over a century had passed. But for the pilot, it was just a couple of long and tedious years. When he left he’d expected to see wonders outside the ship as he traveled. But space is just that, a lot of space, and the majority of time outside was merely a blackness punctuated by far distant pinpricks of light that were the stars.

He landed his ship at the coordinates where, at one time, the metropolis of New York had sprawled. A place that used to be called Central Park was chosen because it was thought that this would be a place where many could witness the arrival of the first real time traveler in human history. But as he took orbit and looked down at his home planet, he was not greeted with views of plains and mountains, rivers and towns. Instead it was all city. Perilously tall skyscrapers covered the entire north and south American continents, from pole to pole. In point of fact, he had to make six successive orbits to locate a spot large enough to land his vessel. He made a gently sloping approach, slowed and landed himself. He skipped his disembarking checklist and excitedly exited his craft, only to be immediately taken into custody on a charge of suspected malfeasance.

He was neither handcuffed or shackled though. In fact, he was treated so well that for a short while he wondered if some sort of prank was being played. But no, the comments and cracks made by the police as they escorted him made it clear that he was not being looked upon with any sort of honor at all. Yet they took him to a magnificent high-rise that jutted two thousand feet into the air and gave him an apartment of exquisite luxury. He had every possible convenience, there was an abundance of labor saving devices, many he’d never seen before. But they were each marked with little pictograms that were instructions and easy to understand. His kitchen was stocked with foods of all sorts, but he recognized no brands and for that matter wasn’t sure he recognized the package contents as food. But the items he tried were delicious, as was the stock of wines and spirits he’d been provided with. It was confusing to him, to be arrested and in trouble, yet treated with the celebrity he had expected his triumphant return should have brought. He went to the front door and opened it. A guard stepped in front of him and indicated he needed to go back inside. He did, knowing he was a prisoner.  At least, of sorts.

After making himself a meal and enjoying it immensely, he moved to the apartment’s balcony. Gusty winds whipped at his hair and clothing as he stood and peered at the city surrounding him. Closer inspection showed the city to be dark and sooty, with grime on every surface. Resting his hand on the railing, it came away gray. There were odors in the air, also foul and off-putting. It was the reek of population and industry wrongfully combined and it gave the very air an almost greasy texture he could feel and taste in his mouth. Peering down to the street, he realized that the streets seemed to undulate and move, but without pattern. Staring hard, he realied that he was looking down at masses of people that crowded the streets from building to building, covering nearly every square inch of unbuilt on space. His thoughts and wonderment were interrupted by the sound of a doorbell, which he realized was his. He opened the door to a medium sized woman with short cropped brown hair. She wore a pull over blouse, pull up skirt and pull on shoes. She was an entirely different sight than the hugely broad shouldered police in their black uniforms and riot gear, chrome helmets on their heads.

She said hello, her voice a bit tentative, and explained shortly that she was his state provided counsel. After staring a second he caught himself and invited her in. She moved with a kind of shuffling walk and took a place on a luxurious couch that threatened to swallow her whole. The pilot took a seat in an easy chair and the two sat there and looked at one another for a full minute of silence. She spoke first.

“You have been charged with IDref.”

“What?” he asked.

“IDref, that’s refusing to provide proper identification to the authorities. You’re also being charged with unlawful entry to the city, possession of an unlicensed vehicle and possession of materials which might be construed as able to be made a weapon. Much of that is nothing, it can be negotiated away, but I’m afraid that failure to give the Freedom Force your identification, an administrative crime, could bring you a terribly long sentence –that is, if they don’t decide to repatriate you back where you came from.”

“I came from here.” said the pilot. He looked as confused as he sounded. His lawyer regarded him with skepticism.

“Okay,” she sighed, “let’s hear your story.” It took him about thirty minutes to explain. She listened patiently until he finished and then told him he’d spun a pretty good tale, but temporary insanity only applied to corporations now. The courts had come to find that because corporations were made up of different people with different ideas, and that because corporations were people, all those different committee voices amounted to psychopathy so corporations couldn’t be held accountable for anything. No person could justly claim insanity because they had but one voice they listened to, their own. Even if the voices resulted from different personalities within, the voices always were those of the person. Ergo, an individual couldn’t be a psychopath. It took five hoursa of discussion before the lawyer began to wonder if maybe her client might be relating the truth.

After all, time travel was known not to exist. It was right in the history pages on the information terminal sitting atop a handsome desk in the corner. Time travel had been attempted in the previous century, with the former America sending out a ship to test the theories advanced by early scientists. The ship had departed and never been heard from again, so obviously the theory was invalid. The date of departure was May 12, 2012, which coincidentally happened to be the very day the pilot had blasted off amidst hopeful fanfare. A high school graduate, one of the fortunate few of the times, his lawyer finally figured out that she was sitting with a real live and breathing bit of history. Excited at the possibility of an entirely new defense to use in court, she took her leave and went off to work on his case. She left him seated at the terminal, reading up on what he’d missed during his long, dark voyage. According to the terminal, it was summertime: July 19, 2123. The pilot settled in and began asking the terminal question after question.

A lot had changed since he’d made his journey. He ranged his questions in a way that allowed him to hit the historical highlights starting from his departure date to the present. When he’d left, the world was in economic trouble, all nations suffering depressions that led to severe austerity. So tied to money was everything, that it took monetary experts to try to sort it out and conservatives the world over took power. They were unable to cure the economic woes with any rapidity, but they did manage to create Amendments to the Constitution that outlawed contraception, abortion, and divorce. An overburdening population had grown until food had become almost a scarcity. In response, the conservatives, who failed to fix the monetary problems were chucked out on their ears, leading to a liberal government that banned weapons of all types, abolished the death penalty and fostered thousands of programs to assist the impoverished, paying particular attention to health and welfare. This only managed to increase the population more. The result was that nations began to fall and starvation became even more widespread. The leaders of the world’s nations got together and devised a plan. People were relocated to make even greater sized cities while the most arable lands were dedicated to making foodstuffs. His head reeling from all of the information, the pilot slept in a comfortable bed and so hard he didn’t dream.

His lawyer returned at midday, looking just as she did the previous evening. “I spent an hour with the Prosecutor General for the city-state this morning. She was in a good mood and agreed to drop all of the charges against you …except one. As I feared, violating administrative laws is a very serious matter. The law isn’t so concerned about petty crimes, you know, theft, assault, terrorism. But they’re terribly intolerant of anything that violates the Census Act of 2101. I’m afraid that they plan to prosecute you for IDref and want to give you the maximum prison sentence.”

“Oh, God.” The pilot was crestfallen. “What kind of time am I looking at?”

His attorney looked at him soberly. “You could spend as much as a week in jail.” she said.

“A week?” he began to giggle and then stopped short. “What happens in jail? I mean, is it hard labor? Do they try medical experiments?”

The lawyer looked at him in horror. “We’re not uncivilized!” she sniffed. “The courts heard so many suits of emotional abuse and other offfenses against the poor people incarcerated, violating their rights and diminishing their spirits that the courts banned ALL punative behavior. So no, there won’t be any medical experiments. As to where, I’m surprised you ask. Where do you think you are? At home?”

“THIS is jail?” he asked. His voice had a whining quality of incredulity.

“Of course it is.”  she replied. “What did you think?”  The pilot jumped up from his chair and ran to the door. Flinging it open, his way was barred by the guard. The pilot punched him in the nose. “Are you out of your mind?” she screamed. “You’ll never get out of here.”

The pilot smiled, dusted the lapel of the guard he punched and smiled. “Yep.” he said.

Such Compassion

I suppose that I am more compassionate than many, and even more than I used to be myself, since Multiple Myeloma made so many changes to my life. So maybe I’m just being over sensitive, but it seems to me that there is a viciousness rising visibly in American politics. I didn’t like hearing the cheers as Rick Perry was fielding a debate question and the number of executions in Texas was mentioned. People cheered the high number. Then I listened to Ron Paul, a physician as well as presidential candidate, say that a 30 year old man, without health insurance and laying in a coma should be allowed to die for inability to pay for lifesaving treatment. Michelle Bachman said in a speech that if people didn’t work then they should be able to eat. There was no regard to circumstances, just a blanket rule including everyone. Work or die, never mind the unemployment numbers. A congresswoman said in an interview that if her favored agenda wasn’t carried she and her followers should exert their Second Amendment rights.

Really? I mean, a lot of incredibly insensitive things have been said as people are campaigning for votes. Electric fences capable of electrocution, and not to mention moats stocked with predators have become a part of a political platofrm. Actually, a couple of them. I came from an America where every person was important regardless of race, creed or religion. I took pride that my nation was considered a moral entity, respected virtually everywhere for our generosity.