July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

Last year I said I would repost until our government understood the meaning.  The situation is even more dire today that it was a year ago.  God Bless you and your families today.  Let's hope for better years to come.


July 2, 2015

I just can't

Keep up, that is.

Why is it that convenience products and improved efficiency hasn't resulted in more downtime?  It just seems to have paved the way for busier lives.  I am envious of my friends that have retired, or found a leisure-oriented balance to their lives.  I know that my time will, hopefully, come, but it sure is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Last weekend we traveled to Kansas for a family reunion.  It seems silly to me to call it a reunion, as growing up the same group of people gathered for Christmas Eve each year, and then saw one another frequently at other holidays and summer gatherings.  Alas, since the death of my grandparents, there hasn't been a catalyst for routine gatherings these past twenty or so years.  My first cousins once removed (I had to look that up - my cousins' kids) are now getting married and having children of their own, and a gathering of the family was past due.

There were over 80 that gathered.  My mom being the youngest of eight, and, other than those that have just started their families, I was the sole only child, mom's brothers and sisters all having largish families, and their children following in their footsteps.  It was easier to count who was absent, and they were sorely missed, as, at my age (and theirs), there are those that I likely will never see again.

We had a blast, to say the least.  A large group started the morning with a golf scramble.  Mostly the men and some of the kids hit the links while the women folk got things set up.  We had tons of food - my husband has been such a good dieter, following his doctor's low carb plan for months, but when he decided to go off the wagon for the weekend, he went all in.  I think that is how potluck dinners should be, you have to try a little bit of everything, desserts included.

After lunch, a grand family tradition ensued - a softball game in my aunt's front yard.  Her house is along a state highway, but the front yard has always been the spot for the game.  First and second bases are uphill!  Some of the younger adult males managed to jack a shot or two over the highway (a ground rule double, by our rules - mostly to discourage that risky shot.  Though hitting a car is an automatic grand slam).  This was my husband's first time playing, and despite my warnings, he was not prepared for how competitive some of my cousins were.

As the softball game ended, one of my cousins cracked open a cooler that was filled with iced-down water balloons.  The kids had a riot soaking everyone with the cold water.

Some watched baseball on TV, some played volleyball and a new-to-me game, Polish horseshoes, some went fishing at the pond, kids played in the yard, and a group of us went down to a pasture to shoot clays for a few hours.  Boom has been wanting to give skeet shooting a try, and I guess she should, as she proved to be an excellent shot.  Little Crash shot a 410, not hitting any clay, but coming close enough and having so much fun that he is now begging for a shotgun.

As the planned festivities wore down, many of us set off to our parent's hometown - a little tiny farming community that has had a 4th of July celebration for over 150 years.  It is held on the weekend before the holiday, so we were able to go watch their fireworks show, something my granddad had once been in charge of, and they have carried on the tradition.

It was a great day all around, and, not one to go quietly into the dark night, I instead did my part to lower the mule deer population on the way back to our lodging.  It doesn't seem quite fair, my car damaged (but driveable) and no back strap or rack to show for it.

June 22, 2015

FOD

Living in a democratic society is supposed to be about choices.  We choose representatives to be our voice in government.  We choose our religion, careers, number of children, hometowns, etc.

The growth of government has meant erosion of those freedoms, though most in power would claim that the rules in place that limit our choices are meant to protect us from harm.  Which, IMHO, detracts from our ability to choose.

I shouldn't feel like a criminal when I purchase tamales from the lovely woman who stops by our office once a month.  I am fully aware that she is preparing her food in a kitchen that is not inspected by the health department, that she has no permit or license to sell her wares.  That she likely has no food safety training or certifications.  But her tamales are delicious.  I am willing to make the choice to accept the risks of eating non-government regulated Mexican food.  I also acknowledge that my tamale lady isn't collecting or paying any sales or income taxes.  And I. Do. Not. Care.  Her immigration status is also suspect, but here she stands, working, making a living, and, as far as I can see, the only people who she might displacing in the work force, are those who perform all of the above regulatory tasks that I mentioned.  Boo hoo.

Last week, the new Agriculture Commissioner for the great state of Texas, Sid Miller, repealed the ban on deep-fryers and soda machines in Texas schools.  His comment being that Texas schools should teach children to make good decisions about their nutrition - he was re-instilling a choice to our schools.  

Unfortunately, the bigger government restricts calories, fat content, and controls the purse strings on lunch money for families who can't pay.  None of these things, coupled with the deep-fryer restriction and soda machine ban, have done anything to curb obesity.  Miller offered an interesting example of how government restrictions don't consider all the circumstances:
"You got a boy that goes to Anson High School — he plays in football, he plays both (offense and defense) — he can't make it on 870 calories. That boy burns 3,500 calories a day," Miller said. "He gets home, he hauls hay and milks cow and moves irrigation pipe. Then there's another child that's not active athletically. They may be into academics or band or some other extracurricular. Eight-hundred-seventy calories may be fine for that kid."
Miller says critics are missing the point that Texas is simply giving schools the option of reinstalling deep fryers if they want starting July 1.He conceded that his decision is mostly symbolic and that few schools might take advantage of the relaxed rules — since the state won't be the one buying new fryers for cash-strapped schools. Like practically all Texas Republicans last year, Miller partly ran on fighting what the GOP candidates call federal overreach.

But he believes fried foods are OK in moderation and says it would be nice to grab a carbonated drink from a vending machine during a basketball game.
Choices and moderation...not a new or foreign concept.

June 18, 2015

Which would Caitlyn use?

I work in a male dominated industry.  In a male dominated office.  There are two females, counting me, in our building.  Which kinda explains the chauvinistic, yet humorous, bathroom layout at our offices.  In our main foyer, there is a pair of restrooms:

Since you had a little bit of a build up, you might have noticed right off the bat that both are marked "Men".  Thing is, most people don't notice.  I can't tell you how many female visitors to our office use one of these restrooms.  I suppose it is a conditioned response; look up and see the sign that says "Men" and automatically enter the opposite door, without checking the sign.  We try, really we do, to stop people.  When we have hosted events at our office we have tried making announcements, putting up additional signage, etc.  Some people just don't pay attention.
For the record, we have a lovely women's restroom, back by the kitchen.  I know, I know, that is yet another little chauvinistic jab.  But, it is lovely, and not industrial-looking like the metal-stalled and brightly lit men's rooms.  And, in the interest of fairness, our ancillary building next door houses a mostly female workforce, where there are two women's rooms and one men's.  They don't have quite the same entertainment value, but it evens things out.

June 15, 2015

FOD

I'm surprised anyone is surprised by this Rachel Dolezal story.

The current president ran his first campaign on a consistent, and insistent, theme of his mixed-race heritage.  We were told every day of his campaign that he was half-white.  The minute he was elected, he magically became the first black president.  I don't know why it took so long for society to realize that this Dolezal-sort of thing was happening, as the president has already perpetrated a racial shift to serve his own purposes.  

I have to say, I am a little excited by what Rachel has perpetrated.  Even more so since, at first blush, the NAACP has stood behind her, at least her local chapter.  This is FANTASTIC!  Someone coined the term "transracial", and I am slapping that title on my kids effective immediately.

I might have paid full price for my oldest white kid to go to college, but you can bet your sweet ass that the next three are getting some of those minority scholarships.  Bang might be a hard sell - he has no rhythm or street cred.  Crash, well, he is a pretty gifted athlete, so maybe we can pad his college fund with some sport scholarships.  The Princess takes a hip-hop dance class and loves the music that goes with it, and she does a spot on Sweet Brown imitation...all she needs now is a bad perm and some spray tan.

June 10, 2015

Fire up the DeLorean

I want to go back in time, to a place where I don't have to explain things like this to my children:

From the Denton Record-Chronicle, "Yesterday's news, tomorrow."
I really, really, really don't care what people want to do in their lives and with their bodies as long as it doesn't harm anyone (other than themselves) and it doesn't intrude on any of my freedoms.  I do not appreciate the current attitude that I have to alter my beliefs and values and put people who make these sorts of choices on a pedestal.  I subscribe to the belief that we should love one another, and within that, I believe we are entitled to our own set of opinions, many of which we should quietly keep to ourselves.

What bothers me is this rather sudden shift in what the media thinks is acceptable, and how society is swallowing it.  We can't pretend that personal pronouns don't exist to distinguish gender.  A journalist is supposed to lay out facts, and write articles that make things clear, not ambiguous or unnecessarily intriguing because no one will address what every reader is wondering.  Why would the writer ignore the lipsticked elephant in the room and write an entire article about a MAN that ignores the fact that the picture provided begs for an explanation?  The writer uses neutral terms and the victim's last name in all but one sentence, and that near the end of the article. And why run the photo at all, knowing it is a red herring?  It is as if some switch was flipped with the Trans-Jenner story, and newspapers are rushing to show how fashion-forward they are in their treatment of what was once referred to as 'alternative lifestyles'.

June 9, 2015

Raising Victims

My friend Kerrcarto used to have a profile picture in which he had photo-shopped steam coming out of his ears.  I often think of that photo when I read crap like this:
Trinecia Blacklock needs wheels to get around but that's never kept a smile off her face, until last Tuesday.
"We were just extremely excited," said Tonisha McCowan, Trinecia's mother. "We were waiting to see her graduate everybody was there to yell, scream, but we got shut down completely."
At Blacklock's fifth grade graduation ceremony, administrators at Link Elementary forgot she was there.
"They closed up the ceremony and then forgot to call my name," said Blacklock.
While her classmates walked up to get their certificates, Blacklock didn't.
"How they missed her sitting there by herself down there in a wheelchair, I don't know," said McCowan.
Only after her parents alerted administrators did the principal call her name. She never got a chance to cross the stage like everyone else.
"I wish I would have gone across the stage, but they have no ramp, nothing but stairs," said Blacklock.
Now she has her certificate. Her family even bought her a cake and had her pose for photos but the memories tied to that day she can't forget.
"It was just all very humiliating," said McCowan. "Her joy from that day was stripped from right under her."
No, I am not mad that they accidentally skipped this child at her fifth grade graduation ceremony, I am incensed at parents, media, and a society that ignores the dozens of things they could have done to preempt little Trinecia's presumed humiliation.  Sure, the school screwed up, but, why in the hell didn't someone else try to head it off?
Last week I sat through an ass numbing award ceremony at my children's school.  The ceremony began with the awarding of various cords that the seniors had earned to wear with their graduation robes.  They announced what a cord was, and then read off the list of seniors that had earned the privilege of wearing it.  Halfway through the ceremony I observed a student quietly pulling aside a teacher, whispering back and forth for a few seconds, and after the next round of cord announcing was complete, they backtracked and announced an award they had apparently missed earlier. That is how utterly simple it is to make sure someone's feelings don't get hurt when their name is skipped.

Why didn't Trinecia's family, teachers, or friends speak up for her?  When the Blacklock family arrived in the school gym and saw the stage set up, did they not see that it might present some difficulty for their wheelchair-bound child?  Why didn't they advocate for their child and pro-actively seek out information that would have alerted someone to the fact that there was no way for a wheelchair to cross the stage?
And, let's assume that this ceremony was like Every Other School Award Ceremony In The World.  They likely called names alphabetically.  Blacklock would have been at the top of the list, and that would have left twenty-four more letter's worth of names, and time, for someone to walk up to an administrator and mention that they skipped over a kid.  Once they had called the kids sitting on either side of her, did no one watching stop and think that maybe they had forgotten her?
If they had indeed "closed up the ceremony" before someone alerted them to the omission, then every single person in that school gymnasium is to blame for not saying something on behalf of that child.  And, quite frankly, someone should teach that child to speak up for herself, or, as it may sometimes be difficult for her, she should also know to ask others to assist her.  Everyone I know that has a mobility issue knows to survey their surroundings and plan for whatever is coming.  Why didn't this girl ask a teacher what the plan was for getting her to the stage to accept her certificate?  
There are thousands of words that could be written about the ridiculousness of a fifth grade graduation ceremony, the artificial inflation of the importance of the day, and the cruelty of a family that is guaranteeing that this child won't ever forget what happened, because they made it a front page story.  None of those words will fix what happened in this situation - but they would highlight the fact that if we didn't make mountains out of molehills, we would all be better for it.