How Lucky We Are

A month ago we got the news no one wants to get. My wife was diagnosed with small cell invasive carcinoma, a form of breast cancer. They were able to catch it early so the prognosis is mostly good. Since the diagnosis she has had to endure 3 painful MRI assisted biopsies.

If you know my wife, you know her physical and emotional strength. You know that she is a determined individual and has a great attitude and outlook on life. Many of you are going to ask, “What can I do?” You can go and get regular exams. You can encourage others to do the same.

We met with the medical staff at the hospital on what to expect, the surgeon, the oncologist, the radiologist, the nursing staff. We also had to meet with someone from BILLING and FINANCES. The surgeries and treatments she will have to have are understandably expensive. BUT- we WILL be able to afford this.

When we left the hospital we thought about how absolutely lucky we are. The cancer was caught early. We live in an area of the country where our local hospital (less than 10 minutes away) has a wonderful cancer unit. We are lucky because she has a great support group of friends. We are lucky that we had a trip already planned and were able to talk to our adult children about this. We are lucky because our jobs have flexibility that will allow her to go to her appointments and I can be there when she feels it necessary. We are lucky that although as small business owners we have pretty horrible insurance that we will be able to afford all the necessary procedures.

Thinking of all the luck we had it made me think about others who may not have this kind of luck. My goal is to make her day to day life as stress free as possible. There are some people who just do not have that option. I cannot imagine someone facing the same diagnosis and wondering how they will afford the treatment. How they will get the necessary time off. Do they have to make a choice between LIVING and a car payment? Do they have to pick and choose which appointments they go to based on if they can get time off work? Do they have to handle everything on their own because their husband/partner or friend can not get the time off to help them? Do they go without groceries because of the expense of the medication? Do they not have the time to recover from procedures (where you are not allowed to lift more than 5 lbs) because they have a job to do or children to lift up?

My wife has never smoked, very rarely drinks, has lived a very clean life. Cancer sucks and it doesn’t care what kind of life you lead. It makes no sense that in today in the USA a person may need to have to make a choice between life saving care and food or work.

Healthcare should be Universal. There is no but. It should be Universal. Period. Universal health care is such a complex beast that only 32 of the world’s 33 developed nations have been able to make it work. The insurance companies are getting rich on our payments while denying our claims. People say they do not want the government involved in their health decisions. I get that. But you would trust a private company instead? The government wants you in the workforce. They want you to be able to work and to be able to pay taxes. A private company, they just want your money.

Politicians don’t want to tax millionaires and billionaires because they want the money for their campaigns. They do not want that money going to an opponent’s campaign. So taxes keep going up on the middle class. The working poor are left to fend for themselves. Told to pull themselves up by their boot straps when they can’t even afford boots. I miss the “old days” where billionaires’ vanity projects was to build public libraries, music venues and hospitals. I don’t get people like Elon Musk. If I had billions of dollars, I would impulsively start fixing stuff. Homeless vets? I don’t think so. Hungry children? Not on my watch. Cancer treatments- I got this. He could be Batman.
What a waste.

and so does our healthcare system

Relax… No One is Treading on You

Normally I try to get home for lunch. I eat healthier when I am home and I go outside for a walk with the dog. The other day I was stuck in town for lunch. I went to a place I know serves reasonably sized portion. I made the mistake of sitting at the lunch counter. Like at a bar, when you sit at the counter you are open to engagement and conversation with others. The engagement I got was just too much. I came for a sandwich. Not a lecture on how other people having rights some how steps on your. Not a discussion on your 1/2 baked conspiracy theories.

When people talk about constitutional rights like freedom of speech or religion, they often refer to them as guarantees. But no rights are absolute. Government has the power to limit individuals’ freedom under certain circumstances, like when they’ve committed a crime. You can have the constitutional right to carry a gun, BUT, should you have the right to carry that gun into a school? Does anybody think carrying a gun into a bar where you plan on drinking is a good idea?

The other person sitting at the lunch counter was all upset about gay marriage. I just fail to understand how by letting a couple who love each other get married is an infringement on your rights. When a gay couple is married, does that somehow make your marriage any less important or any less based on love and commitment? Does it stand in the way of you going to the church of your choice? Does it get in the way of a church sayings, “we will not allow gay marriage in this religion?”

The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Rights are not Pie. When one group of people is given equal protection and rights, it does not mean another group has less.

When a member of the MAGA right describes a liberal they use the terms like “weak” “snowflake” “libtard”. Yet it seems like it is the MAGA rights who are most upset at things. It is the MAGA right that has weakened our government, our armed forces and our police. Any organization is only as strong as its weakest link. In the military they must train to be a well operating machine. But recently due to MAGA pressure a member of the military can decline a vaccine. Let’s get past COVID as some people still have a problem with science. If the next pandemic (and there will be one) is worse BUT there is a vaccine the military MUST be able to require everyone to take it. Not requiring it makes or military weak. The support for the military only goes as far as when they are fighting their battles. Eleven Republicans voted in August against a bill that funds research and benefits for as much as 3.5 million veterans who were impacted by toxic substances while they served.

The MAGA republicans want you to believe they support law enforcement but they are the group which beat up law enforcement officers at the capital. Despite the House and Senate coming to an agreement that will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers who defended the Capitol, 21 House Republicans voted against the legislation. These are the officers who put their bodies on the line to save the members of congress from harm.

In order for our country to grow and prosper we need to work together. As a long time business owner I am used to my decisions being respectfully challenged. I know that different opinions makes my business stronger. We need to show respect for one another. AND SOME OF YOU NEED TO REALIZE THAT NO ONE IS TREADING ON YOU.

Banning Books is Back… sigh…

Banning books has NEVER been about protecting our children. It has been about discrimination against others. Banning books from public libraries or schools based on nationalistic, political or religious reasons violates the first amendment. Currently they want you to believe that any book that does not center from a straight white perspective is pornographic.

When a group is trying to get a book banned they find the most explicit passages and recite them out of context.

I too am disturbed by the filth that Americans are reading.
Take, for example, a story in which two daughters live alone with their widowed father. They make a pact to get him drunk and trick him into having sex with them, after which they become pregnant and give birth to sons.

I am, of course, paraphrasing from the Bible, specifically genesis 19:33. a book that has been mass-printed since the fifteenth century and relied on as the primary text of all Christian faiths for millennia.

I find it interesting, that in the very place that students should be engaged in challenges to their own thinking in order to grow as learners, some are actively trying to make sure that schools are not able to create opportunities for that thinking?

The very groups who yell so loudly about cancel culture are the same people trying to cancel discussions about ideas that come to us through books?

By restricting information and discouraging freedom of thought, censors undermine one of the primary functions of education: teaching students how to think for themselves.

I think it is important for children to read about these adult situations before they face them in person.

Banning a book from a library or curriculum implies that some ideas and experiences are valuable or worthy of discussion and others are not. It reinforces one particular way of thinking and limits others, which might not accurately reflect the lived realities of youth.

The strength in our society can be found in our diversity. Diversity of people as well as ideas.

There is no gentle way to speak or teach about certain subjects.

  • The Holocaust
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Civil Rights / Lynchings
  • Violent acts 
  • 9/11

Students deserve to learn history based on facts not feelings. Some lessons will be hard and make people uncomfortable. But if I have learned anything it is that rarely is any important lesson an easy one.

A Season of Hope. Music

When we were young music would find us. It seemed like it was everywhere. You could hear it as cars drove by, you could hear it coming from house windows as you were outside playing. I remember sitting in my parents car waiting for them to come out of the grocery store. I was listening to the radio and James Taylor came on. It was the early 1970’s and I love listening to James Taylor ever since.

In middle school I saw a kid with a button on his jacket that said, The Ramones. I had no idea who they were. But that afternoon I walked down to Main Street Records and asked if I could listen to The Ramones. Still to this day, my favorite band. (Thanks Bob Cat!). I remember being at my friend Jeff’s house and his brother let us play a Rush Album. Just Amazing, everything from the lyrics and vocals to UNBELIEVABLE drumming. At Chris’ house he introduced me to BOTH AC/DC and Pink Floyd. Although I had heard some of each of those bands on the radio, it was the first time I think I may have listened to an entire album. I thank these friends for starting my lifelong love of music.

It seems now that the older you get you have to find the music. Maybe it is the speed of life. Maybe it is because of air-conditioning fewer windows are open! Sometimes music still surprises me. I was walking through town and a song was being played in a store. As the door opened, I was struck by 2 lines of lyrics:

In every movie I watch from the 50s,

There’s only one thought that swirls around my head now,

That’s that everyone there on screen they’re all dead now.

I recognized the voice of Ben Gabbard from Death Cab for Cutie. Couldn’t wait to get to my car to put that song on. I think I would discover more music if I just lived the the present a little more.

Sometimes It may be a song you’ve known for years, but actually listen to it with your ears for the first time. In High school I remember being completely exhausted physically and mentally. I cannot remember what was going on in my life at the time, but I do remember the feeling of hopelessness. I had gone into my room and closed the door. Put on the radio and laid down to take a nap.

At some point I slowly came back to consciousness to The Beatles song, “The Long and Winding Road”. I had heard the song countless times. It was already 15+ years old when I was in high school. But this was the first time that I really heard it with my ears and my heart. McCartney says “It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach,” he revealed. “This is the road that you never get to the end of.”

Hearing that song at that moment let me know that although this was a tough time, I was goin g to be OK. The road is long so concentrate in the journey, not just the destination.

To this day, when I hear this song I am transported back in time to my bedroom in 1983.

Is there a song that has changed your perspective? A song you recently heard that you can’t wait to share?

REMEMBER: 62 Things Donald Trump Did (that you may want to forget to preserve your sanity)

Donald Trump has returned to the news cycle amid a deluge of stories about a dinner meeting he hosted with a white supremacist and Ye, the rapper previously known as Kanye West.

It’s a reminder of the chaotic years of his presidency, as well as a foreboding ― though hopefully instructive ― warning about how he would wield power if elected again.

If past is prologue, let’s take a moment to remember just how unsettling things got during the Trump administration, with this not-even-remotely-exhaustive list of weird and bad stuff he attempted while in office:

  • Tried to buy Greenland.
  • Wanted to nuke hurricanes.
  • Doctored a hurricane forecast map with a Sharpie.
  • Attempted a coup to stay in power.
  • Absconded with thousands of classified documents, lied about it and refused to give them back when the feds asked nicely.
  • Sent unidentified federal officers to Portland, Oregon, to abduct protesters and spark a conflagration that could be used as a pretense for implementing martial law.
  • Ordered peaceful protesters tear-gassed so he could pose for a photo-op with a Bible outside a church.
  • Tried to blackmail Ukraine into manufacturing dirt for his 2020 campaign.
  • Asked Russia for help in his 2016 campaign — and got it.
  • Had a weird affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Remember the Helsinki summit?)
  • Invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to an in-person meeting in the Oval Office, where he accidentally revealed top-secret intelligence.
  • Wanted to withdraw the U.S. from NATO.
  • Separated migrant parents from their children, locked the kids in cages and then failed to reunite them.
  • Insisted that “raking” would prevent forest fires because “you’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important.” 
  • Covered for Saudi Arabia after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome murder and dismemberment of a U.S. journalist with a bone saw. (Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, owes Saudi Arabia $2 billion, and the crown prince has reportedly bragged about having Kushner “in his pocket.”)
  • Intervened to get Kushner top-secret clearance after he was denied over concerns about foreign influence.
  • Put Kushner in charge of Middle East peace.
  • Embraced rampant nepotism.
  • Touted injecting disinfectant as a COVID-19 cure.
  • Touted ultraviolet light as a COVID-19 cure.
  • Touted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure.
  • Touted ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure.
  • Told people not to wear face masks to cut down the spread of COVID-19, even though they work.
  • Actively discouraged COVID-19 testing.
  • Refused to send federal aid to New York City amid the first COVID-19 wave because the virus was hitting Democratic-voting states hardest.
  • “Jokingly” said on multiple occasions that he deserved to be president for more than two terms.
  • Thought climate change was a Chinese hoax.
  • Built an incomplete border wall that doesn’t work, wasn’t needed and wasn’t paid for by Mexico.
  • Started a trade war with China that mainly hurt U.S. consumers.
  • Threw food when angry.
  • Saw no problem with his vice president potentially being hanged by a violent mob he’d summoned and sent to the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the peaceful transition of power.
  • Stared directly at the sun.
U.S. President Donald Trump stares directly at the sun during a partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump stares directly at the sun during a partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.
  • Started his presidency with an easily disproved lie about the crowd size at his inauguration.
  • Thought people needed an ID to buy cereal.
  • Fired James Comey as FBI director because he didn’t like the bureau investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Later, it was revealed that Trump’s campaign manager gave detailed internal polling data to a Russian intelligence agent.)
  • Was a “fucking moron,” according to Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state.
  • Fired the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s China-based pandemic response team — and then when a pandemic happened years later, said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for COVID-19.
  • Repeatedly embraced racism.
  • Thought repeating “person, woman, man, camera, TV” would assure Americans of his mental stability.
  • Tweeted literal gibberish — a lot.
  • Lied all the time. (And still does.)
  • Openly embraced and amplified QAnon conspiracy theories.
  • Got impeached twice.
  • Passed huge tax cuts for wealthy corporations ― and massively grew the national debt.
  • Flip-flopped on whether the White House had ordered the USS John McCain be hidden so he wouldn’t get mad. (It did.)
  • Called American military members who died in the line of duty “losers” and “suckers.”
  • Claimed to have bone spurs to get out of military service.
  • Binge-watched Fox News when he should have been working.
  • Played so, so much golf.
  • Raked in cash from foreign interests at his Washington hotel in an operation sometimes described as the “epicenter” of a corrupt presidency.
  • Held a rally that may have led to the death of Herman Cain.
  • Allegedly directed his lawyer to commit campaign fraud to cover up that Trump cheated on his wife after she had recently given birth.
  • Was accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.
  • Dismissed any bad news about himself as “fake.”
  • Lied about voluntarily turning over his tax returns.
  • Ate well-done steak — with ketchup.
  • Described white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “very fine people.”
  • Grossly abused the presidential pardon on his way out the door.
  • Used private communication services extensively after arguing that Hillary Clinton should be jailed for having a private email server.
  • Refused to release White House visitor logs.
  • Went to Puerto Rico and threw paper towels at people desperate for actual hurricane aid.
  • Discouraged exercise because he believes bodies are like batteries, with a finite amount of energy.