Distancing from Darkness

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several hand-written notes. These were all personalized acknowledgements of what Mary and I have been going through since Mark was killed on January 21. Often, they touched on the difficult time that this person had in reaching out and the struggle for words that adequately addressed what they thought we are going through.

When people that know you don’t respond, it only compounds the grief and loss that you are feeling. That’s been my experience anyways in not hearing from people that I assume know that we lost our only son—and that we are walking through a valley and have been for more than two months.

As Linda Andrews writes in her lovely and pertinent book about grief and loss, Please Bring Soup To Comfort Me While I Grieve,

When it comes to the topic of grief, many people are uncomfortable and unprepared to know what to say or do. Some people try to say the right thing and others just avoid the whole situation. The effect on the person who is grieving is devastating; feelings of pain, hurt, anger and disappointment prevail. People who are grieving are not in a position to understand this flaw in the human spirit. Continue reading

Losing Love

When a loved one is stolen from you by death, you immediately get clear about priorities and what’s important. Think of it as a refinement process unlike anything else most people will ever experience.

I haven’t been consuming news of late, no longer obsessing over the minutia of the daily cycle of events like I once did. When your son has been ripped from you by a senseless and careless act, the buffoon in the White House and his boorish antics seem trivial. Of course that also doesn’t mean that what’s taking place doesn’t have consequences.

During Mark’s final video, the day prior to being killed by a woman who happened to be a supporter of the man seeking to dismantle the country that I’ve known for 50+ years, he ticked off a litany of things that concerned him about the man who had just been sworn into office as our 45th president.

“We now officially have a president,” said Mark, “that does not believe in climate change. He wants the world to burn so he can profit. We have a president who hates women, who discriminates against women, who physically abuses women. We have a president who hates minorities, who wants to make minorities suffer. we have a president who hates disabled people, who doesn’t want to help people when they are in need. All he wants to do is profit. If you support this man, you do not support human life on this planet, plain and simple. You do not support the future of earth as a planet…”

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Our New President

We’re barely 24 hours into the term of our 45th president and it’s clear to me—the next four years are going to be one wild ride! It’s possible that life as we know it in America will have disappeared, with no guarantee that there’s a pathway back to restoring it.

I had to work yesterday, so I only caught snippets of Inauguration Day. I did see the swearing in of Pence and Trump. And then, I got to watch his address during lunch.

I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps naively, I held out some glimmer that our new president was going to offer his plan for bringing together a divided people. Not even five minutes in, it was clear that Trump had no interest in unity.

No unity here.

Granted, as one commentator said, for followers of Mr. Trump, he serves as a “kind of Rorschach test” in that they tend to see him in whatever way they want to believe about him and various issues. I’d concur with that. Continue reading

Restaurant Food

What makes Americans fear their kitchen stoves so much? Huh?

Well, it appears something is at the root of the rise in eating out. Just last year—for the first time, ever—Americans spent more on restaurant food (and bar fare) than they did on food from the grocery store. The data reflects a pattern hearkening back to our “halcyon” days in America, the 1970s.

Perhaps the paucity of exciting food from the decade when things began unraveling drove a generation to seek their sustenance outside their home kitchens. Experts tell us that much of this is due to females now working somewhere other than where they’re domiciled. I think one assumption that’s safe hold is that Johnny is pretty useless in term of opening a can of beans and throwing some rice into a pot. Or maybe, we haven’t evolved as far as we think we have and it’s still a woman’s job to cook (and clean), while bringing in half of the household income, women’s lib be damned!

Cooking doesn’t have to be a comedy routine.

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People and Corporations

We hear a lot of lip service paid to cracking back on corporations. People generally seem to dislike corporations—except when they’re supplying a paycheck, or often, cheap, substandard products manufactured offshore, by exploited workers.

Corporations have more rights now than ever before. In fact, the Supreme Court has broadened the concept of “corporate personhood” considerably over the past decade.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Mitt Romney, when running for president in 2012, actually came out and said explicitly, “corporations are people.” Justice John Paul Stevens would disagree, as he did in his dissent in the Citizens United case:

[C]orporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations . . . and their “personhood” often serve as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established. Continue reading

Ex Post Facto

We are told that we live in a “post-fact” world. If you grew up in a print-based culture like I did (and you actually still use books to round out your understanding of the world), then this is alarming.

After months of brutal electioneering, a candidate has been chosen. He might be the perfect choice for a world where fact and science has been swapped for tweets and relying on his “gut” or something other than his brain for decision-making.

If it was merely our reality TV president relying on something other than fact-checking and data, then jokes and innuendo might be the end of it. However, it’s each and every single one of us “googling” on our smartphones that is driving dismissal of fact. Facebook then amplifies it ten-fold.

Like most nearly every aspect of life in America these days—the problem of ____________ (fill-in the blank) is someone else’s fault. Actually, most of the issues staring us directly in the face could be rectified with a little backbone and character. Like so-called fake news. If we didn’t consume so much of this fucking dreck, then there wouldn’t be a market for assholes like this guy, making shit up in his basement, and laughing all the way to the bank. Isn’t capitalism grand?

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

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Elections and Alienation

With the 2016 election clanking to its completion, like a car with a malfunctioning transmission, I’ve taken a different tack the last few weeks—disengagement—imbibing next to nothing from the mainstream. My inner environment has been almost tranquil. Rather than alienation and discouragement, removing myself from the ongoing dysfunctional din of reality has been a positive and necessary corrective.

Just because someone demands that you see the world one, or two ways, doesn’t mean that you have to. Binary thinking leaves you dead-ended, painted into a corner.

If voting mattered...

If voting mattered…

Over the weekend, I picked up several books that seemed to be waiting for me on my local library shelves. These books provided historical context, as well as reminding me of perspectives I hadn’t considered in quite some time.

What I found fascinating in reading about America’s history of radical politics, was the role of European immigrants in bringing socialist, Marxist, and anarchist perspectives to these shores. What I’ve also been ruminating about is why the town where I grew up—with many immigrants from Europe—was and continues to be a place where conservative values reign supreme. This is a topic that I’m likely to come back to at some point. Continue reading

The Real Corporate Candidate

A week ago, I received an invitation to attend a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. It came from a relative on my wife’s side of the family. Apparently she figured I’d be an easy target, simply assuming I’d be supporting Clinton because of the alternative, Donald Trump.

This kind of thinking has galled me for months. The idea that we must vote for Hillary because of the specter of a Trump presidency is typical either/or thinking that I’ve been subjected to ever since I first started voting in 1980. It’s also more of the usual reasoning that you get from spineless liberals. More on that further down in the post.

Two pathologically-damaged choices for president.

Two pathologically-damaged choices for president.

I don’t run around touting faux socialists for president like some of my friends did prior to Bernie Sanders going in the tank for Mrs. Clinton. I’m also clear on Clinton’s neoliberal policies designed to further dash the hopes of working class people across the U.S., something that so-called working class advocates from Maine that I’ve written about on this blog seem to have missed. Democrats will be Democrats, however.

Oh, and do I need to do the usual kabuki dance and list all the Republican’s political peccadilloes? They should be fairly obvious, but then again, given the drivel I’m reading about “Hillary must win, no matter what,” I’m not so sure.

Hillary Clinton has long been seen as the heir apparent to an ineffective, two-term president. Mr. Hope and Change has delivered little and dashed any hopes thinking people may have had about America. What passed for change was negligible at best. Continue reading

Weather as Social Commentary

In the Northeast, the sky has forgotten how to cry (aka, rain). This year, our rainfall totals are 9 inches below normal. We’re in the midst of a significant drought in the region.

People like it to be sunny each and every day. However, farmers need rain to water their crops. Municipal water supplies that rely on rain and groundwater (basically, all of them) need rain to recharge aquifers. I’m no geologist, but being as historically dry as it is can’t be good for longterm water needs.

The weather puppets—those Tee Vee people who only want to tell you that it’s going to be sunny, each and every day—have started to hint at some “soaking” rain coming next weekend….maybe.

I shouldn’t blame the weatherman (or weatherwoman) for only wanting to say “sunny,” rather than “rain.” I’m sure they’re perfectly nice people. They’re simply one more subset of America that believes in the myth of unending progress. Why tell people something unpleasant and end up being unpopular. Just like in politics—where each side thinks their pathologically-flawed candidate is the “hope” for our future—it’s better to sugarcoat it and tell people what they want to hear. Or make it about an issue that’s not really what ails us in the moment. Continue reading

Simple. And Easy to Set Up

Technology has a tendency to over-promise, and under-deliver. Think about that for a moment.

Do you remember the phrase, “paperless society?” That was what computers at work were going to provide—a workplace where you didn’t need file cabinets and hanging folders to store/organize reams of paper and reports. Do any of you work at a place like that? I didn’t think so.

There’s a technology product called eero. eero delivers WiFi to your home. From the company’s website, they summarize their product.

eero is the world’s first home WiFi system. A set of three eeros covers the typical home. They work in perfect unison to deliver hyper-fast, super-stable WiFi to every square foot of your house. It’s simple to set up. Easy to manage. And gets better over time with new features and improved performance. Stream video, get work done, or swipe right in any room—not just next to your router. Finally, WiFi that actually works.

Immediately, you know eero is cooler than the average WiFi router and set-up—just check out the lower-case name. Why do techies hate capital letters so much?

What’s better is that having an eero (or three) is simple, gets better over time, and you’ll get work done (magically). Who wouldn’t want an eero?

The bliss of WiFi at home.

The bliss of WiFi at home.

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