Monday, April 27, 2015

They're Coming! They're coming!

Well, we're about 24 hours away from The Big Move. Needless to say, my bro and SIL are up to their elbows in "collections." Cut-glass collection, stamp collection, ugly pocketbook collection, airline ticket stub collection....the list is endless. My sister-in-law is a champ at this stuff and I think she is keeping everyone sane. 

Up here in L'Etoile du Nord, I am worried about the number of collections that are going to find their way here. There are hundreds of loose pictures that need to be sorted and I would imagine thousands of negatives. There is also the matter of the slides. Yes, I have a projector. And now, after having been told they had been relegated to the trash years ago, it appears some of the 78s might have survived the move to Flah-rida a decade ago. This may be a find of some significance; we shall see. 

Kaliedoscope by Crimson Shine 
There is also news out of Milwaukee...besides that they have a total moron for a governor....and that is the Senior Son's Main Squeeze has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This makes for an interesting pair of philosophical and emotional bookends for this family. As we recognize that at 92 and 94 my folks are frail and making all sorts of decisions no one ever wants to make while they get ready for the move up here, we are also acutely aware of the fragility of all life.  Age and otherwise good health are on the Main Squeeze's side. Knowing it's Hodgkin's and not some other form of lymphoma is a good thing, and we are all confident she will have a swift and complete recovery. And with Little Miss in the middle, that charmingly adorable baby with everything ahead of her, we are seeing the kaliedoscope version of life. Colorful, sharp, bits and pieces making up a unique and unpredictable whole.

So enmeshed are we in our own particular life-altering events, it's hard to look around at the rest of the world. Or at least not glance up only to be completely grossed out.

A while back...August 18th, 2014 to be exact....I wrote about Michael Brown's autopsy report. I admitted I was having trouble knowing who was to be believed, and what to believe. I struggle with the death of Eric Garner in New York. One might think the exposure, coupled with the enormous impact each of these horrendous events have had, would make cops more deliberate, more careful in their trigger response. OR, it's not that there are more events like these, and between the body-cam and the cell phones, it's that We, the People realize no action goes undetected.  Everyone with a cell phone has a video camera, and that makes everyone either Abraham Zapruder or a cub reporter. Jimmy Olson with an instant audience. Kinda scary.

But it doesn't stop bad stuff from going down. It's exactly that lack of videography that has sparked the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. The time lapse between when a cell phone camera captures him being dragged into the paddy wagon and the arrival at the hospital is a terrible hole in space. What happened in the back of that wagon? How was his spine severed? There was more than one officer in there; why didn't someone stop what was happening? Meanwhile, 6 officers have been suspended....and today there were riots.

Like Ferguson and now Baltimore, the riots have nothing to do with the killing. Oh, yeah, people will blame that heinous act, but looting and rampaging and doing whatever else they're doing has nothing to do with Baltimore, the police, or justice. It has to do with free stuff, greed, and lawless behavior. The mayor neither instigated nor condoned it, yet Stephanie Rawlings-Blakes is being savaged by the right for remarks taken out of context and spun into something that has no resemblance to what she said:
I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw.
She did not promote destruction; you would have to have more than your fair share of dead brain cells to get that out of this text. She said that in attempting to protect the Constitutionally guaranteed right to congregate and express free speech, it also meant that those who would turn to violence also had their rights protected. But she was right; there was no other way to protect the right of free speech. That protection is not without its dangers. 

The Constitution was written long before instant media and the 10-second news cycle. Taking that into account, we can continue to deny that some of the paradigm has shifted. We can continue to trust the police blindly and without accountability. We can also continue to blame the victims. Somehow, I don't think that's what the Framers had in mind when they drafted the blasted thing. Of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson remarked,
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” 
For people that claim they want small government, the right wing is the first to demand more police, more interference, more provocation, and more controls on personal matters. They are the first who want to send SWAT, guns, and paramilitary operations into the street to "protect," when, in fact, they are creating a prelude to confrontation. Even a 6 year old knows how belligerency ends. 

I am not condoning nor excusing the violence in the streets of Baltimore or Ferguson or anywhere else for that matter. That should not be happening. Cops are there to preserve the peace, not exacerbate violence. 

Wake up, people; you cannot have it both ways. Either We, the People step up and demand accountability for police action, or we prepare to live in a police state. There is no in between any more. The right wing nutballs have seen to that. 

Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Never utter the words, "Oh, just send it here....."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Stuff and a Whole Lot Of Kleinigkeiten.

Two of my from each side of the family and not realizing they were both heading south.... are in Delray to take their leave of my folks. This is an extraordinary kindness, and I am glad that they are there. As excited as we are about getting the 'rents into assisted living, we are all very aware that they are saying goodbye to siblings and relatives and close friends. 

One of the sidebars to this move is that they will probably not see Tante, Aunty G, and Uncle Budgie again. Not only are my folks in their nineties, the others are close behind them. This is a rather harsh reality, one nobody wants to talk about but one that cannot really be pushed aside. Deal with this we must. 

My parents have spent a fair amount of time in Minnesota over the years, but they are east coasters and living in the land of Swedish passive aggressive even in a Jewish seniors' complex will bring its own set of challenges. I am hoping their old sense of adventure kicks in once they get here, and that they will find having all their meals provided, classes, exercise and assorted activities right on site will renew their independence, something they've both been missing since Mom stopped driving a a couple of years ago. They have been members of our shul since its founding, they know the rabbi and he knows them. It's not exactly a strange land, but it will be different from that comfortable world they know. 

Aunt Jane and Grandma Sarah
Once upon a time, my grandparents boarded ships and floated across the ocean, knowing with absolute certainty they would not see those left behind ever again. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even parents waved goodbye and prayed that a letter or two might come from across that vast sea. It must've been terrifying for Grandma Sarah and Aunt Jane, already orphans, to get on the boat in South Hampton to sail to their aunt in New York. But off they went to make new lives for themselves in a strange land. At least they spoke the King's English. Many more did not. 

Grandma and Aunt Jane, Grandpa Moishe, Grandma Bessie, Grandpa Ben....they all came to America believing this was the "Goldeneh Medina,"  the golden land. They believed if you got here, it would all work out. The Lower East Side was a gateway, not a final destination. They were all immigrants.... as was anyone who was not Native American. They came with expectations, lived with reality, and eventually figured out how to live here. There was the belief that if you worked hard, you would get ahead. Some did it better than others.

America has changed since then. And America is changing once more. The middle class is shrinking. Blue collar/manufacturing jobs that were once the backbone of this nation have evaporated. Service industry jobs don't exactly pay a living wage, and lots of people are losing ground. Once upon a time, a minimum wage job was enough to provide food, clothing, and shelter for a family. These days, a minimum wage job isn't enough to provide any of those, much less all. If you're a two parent family, chances are pretty good both parents work and pay for daycare to make ends meet. You may or may not have health insurance through your workplace, but at least now you can get it through the ACA, and millions have done just that. 

The economy is bouncing back. There's a resurgence of manufacturing and product development that bodes well. It's slow growth, but it's deliberate, careful growth, not  a boom/bust mentality. Still, we are a nation with serious problems. Our water supply is shrinking. We are having incredible droughts on the west coast which threaten much of our food supply. Roads and bridges are in desperate need of maintenance and repair. We have a social gap that is widening, not shrinking as it should be, and the social fabric of this nation is at risk. These are the issues that should be front and center in the upcoming presidential election.

And what are the candidates talking about? 
  • how to prevent women from getting reproductive health care that's available in every other country on the planet, but not in ours. 
  • how to protect inherited wealth from taxation while upping the ante on lower and middle class families. 
  • how to remove science from classroom curricula in order to replace it with mythology.
  • how to prevent scientists from using incendiary phrases like "climate change" when talking about shifting weather patterns.
  • whether or not a child born to an American citizen in one of the 50 states that comprise the United States of America is a citizen.
  • whether or not corporations count as people when money is involved.
  • whether or not Hillary Clinton flying coach is electioneering ploy.

From Jonathan Allen's Twitter feed
This list is just the beginning, and it's all (as my mother would say) from the kleinigkeiten....trivial baloney. The amount of stupidity that passes for political discourse is an abomination. The amount of hate speech that comes out of the talking heads on television makes me wonder about who is monitoring this stuff....and suspect they just going for the scandal and not the news. Who gives a rat's ass if Hillary got on a small plane that had no first class? Do you really think there is some sort of secret code message in that action? Or is it possible it was a plane going to Newark and she got on. Really, folks; this is newsworthy?

I must be living in some alternative universe where common sense and civil discourse have been replaced by garbage talk from BOTH sides. And I know I sound like a broken record when I say, once more with feeling, that the only ones who can fix this are We, the People. Until a large segment of this population wakes up to the notion that there are candidates out there pandering for your vote who want to put an end to the idea of the public good, we will continue to elect congressclowns, and presidents who are acting against the needs, the good will, and well-being of this nation. 

Meanwhile, and much more importantly, my folks will arrive next week and I am looking forward to that. I am thankful they can afford assisted living. Having been FIL's caregiver under my roof, I am especially thankful that they have each other and that they can have a flat of their own. Believe me when I tell you I know how lucky I am. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Never underestimate the ease and sanity of just renting a U-Haul truck.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Call To Post: The Horses Approach the Starting Gate

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the 'rents are moving to Minnesota. Now, all things considered, moving anywhere can be pretty traumatic, especially when you're a nonagenarian; going from Flah-rida to the tundra is a particularly odd change. But Minnesota bound they are, and we (my bro and I) are in the throes of getting stuff organized for the big day when he and my sister-in-law will accompany them north.

So last Monday, instead of writing to all my gentle readers, I was on a very early morning flight to Flah-rida to get the ball rolling. I arrived and went right to work on the first sorting pass.  After dinner, Arthur, living up to his knightly name, came to rescue me. In other words, it being Passover and all, he took me out for a much needed potato vodka Bloody Mary. By the time I got home, I was in no condition to write much of anything except, "no intro today," because I really was falling asleep at the keyboard. We also went out for vodka the next night, and the night after that. I don't think I would've gotten through the week without him. 

And as long as I'm talking about Arthur, let me just tell you that this man has the patience of a saint. He is the son of my parents' dear friends, Jules (z"l) and Juliette (z"l) and I have known him literally since the day I was born.  Because he actually lives just down the road from my folks, he has been their wheels, their advocate, their friend, and their cell-phone programmer. My bro and I are so thankful to have had him in such close proximity these last couple of years. We are forever indebted to Arthur for his loving kindnesses to our parents.

So now you know. 

In other, more worldly news, the race to the White House has begun in earnest. So far, the GOP field has two candidates: Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber, with Tweedle Dumbest waiting in the wings. What is wrong with these people? The amount of money Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker are about to waste on this exercise in stupidity is just plain staggering. None of these three have the brains to be the leader of the free world, not to mention the emotional chip needed to actually look concerned. 

Dr. Random Thoughts is a book-toting, philosophy-swinging adherent of Ayn Rand's Objectivism school of thought. And if you aren't sure what that means, follow the link and prepare to have your eyes cross. This man thinks climate change isn't real. He sure backpedals fast when you ask him about gutting Social Security and Medicare. Y'know, I wonder if he owns stock in the company that makes the dray-carts for "Bring Out Your Dead" days. 

Senator Rub-Me-The-Wrong-Way is one smooth talker. He can lob the bullshit with the best of them. But when it comes right down to it, he's a Tea Party patsy who is ready to throw the middle class under every bus he can find. Sure, he's the product of immigrant parents...where are the birthers to ask for his certification?... but his idea of budget balancing is on the backs of the lowest economic rungs while slashing corporate taxes. He's also big on putting lots of boots on all sorts of grounds without so much as a hint of a plan to pay for any of it...except by increasing the deficit by trillions. Kids and seniors...forget them; they have no value in his world. He wants to make Medicare a pay-as-you-go scheme, thereby insuring seniors can be gouged by the insurance companies and for-profit hospitals.  Do we look that stupid? Apparently so. 

As for Tweedle Dumbest in the wings: Scott Walker has done such a bang-up job ruining...I mean running Wisconsin that we really need him to do the same to the rest of the country. After all, he can deal with those pesky ISIS folks the same way he took down the unions in his state. Yep. That's just what we need in the White House: more delusional thinking. 

None of these guys ever heard of interstate commerce and infra-structure. They never gave a whit about our transportation system and how goods get to market. Hell, they don't even know where the goods are made. But they sure know all about boots and bombs, insurance and capital gains. They know about off-shoring and tax havens, but they know nothing about potable water, breathable air, or the polar ice caps. This are not worth worrying about because, as the Ferengi would say, there is no profit in it. 

And all three agree that a woman should have no control whatsoever over her own body. What's next for us frail little things? Burqas? Sex-slavery? Legalized discrimination in the work place? And this is different from the Taliban, ISIS, and Wahhabism how? 

Now, in all fairness, I have to say that I would love more than a one-horse race on the Dems side. There needs to be a compare-and-contrast kinda thing going on. I wish Bernie Sanders would run….but he’s not only too independent, he’s Jewish so that’s a non-starter. Elizabeth Warren says she won’t run, which is disappointing. Andy Cuomo is too busy being vilified in New York State to do much good. And neither Al Franken nor Amy Klobuchar, either one would be fine with me, have shown any interest in wasting their time.

Interestingly, CNN aired a show on Monday morning that contained the following exchange between their anchor Carol Costello and Ana Navarro , a CNN political commentator:

COSTELLO:   Good morning. Nice to have you here. 
So, Ana, if you look at Clinton's new FaceBook page, it's like a Clinton family photo album. Take a look. There's Hillary and Bill Clinton at the altar. And you'll see a picture of Clinton with baby Chelsea, Bill and Hillary in the Arkansas governor's mansion with the tiny Chelsea. Does America want a wife, mother and grandma in the White House, Ana?  
NAVARRO:  Oh, Carol, I think it's not a qualifier, and I don't think it's a disqualifier. I don't think anybody should be disqualified because they're a mother, a wife or a grandmother. But I think there [sic] need to be much more than that. 

[Tip o’the hat to my friend Kelly O’Sullivan for posting the grandma quote on Face Book.] 

My response to that question is a resounding, YES. I do want a wife, mother, and grandma in the White House. At least we’ll have someone who can multitask and actually accomplish something. I cannot imagine my father being able to run the house and the kids and everything else with the same efficiency as my mother. And on the few occasions Ziggy gave it a whirl, well, let's just say I was welcomed home with open arms. 

Now before you accuse me of a Scott Walker-esque comparison here, think about it before you dismiss it out of hand. The men have screwed things up beyond recognition. One more unfunded war is gonna put us over the edge. I'm not so sure a woman could just push the seniors onto an ice-floe and leave the kids in the gutter. Why not have a woman leader of the free world? Other countries have done it. America is so far behind in universal health care, affordable tuition, and minimum wage that this is just one more embarrassing factoid.

If Hillary Rodham Clinton is not perfect, name one guy who is. Tell me which of the GOP sacrificial goats isn't out there for the benefit of anyone except We, the People. And for all her faults, and she has many, I still think Hillary is the first one out the gate who might actually give a damn about the rest us. 

Truth be told, the field will change a hundred times before we get to the primaries. Stuff will change, there will be one gaff or another to weed out the nut-balls from the really-possibles. Still, now is the time to start reading. Don't sit back and wait for someone else to tell you what to think. Look at your bank statements, your tax bills, and your income-to-debt ratio. 

Then think about who is gonna give you the best bang for your buck....and where that buck is going. It's all about the economy.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When planning spaces for a senior, remember a path between furniture pieces
 must be wide enough to accommodate the walker. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

No intro today

It's been a very long day and I am falling asleep at the keyboard.

All will be revealed next week. I promise. 

The WP.