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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Aarrrggghhh- paperwork! (Letter 132)

Hello my dear,
   How are you? This morning in the small town of Tecumseh, Michigan, USA, the weather is warm and humid. An overnight storm wetted the earth with rain, while accompanying sound effects supplied orchestral background music for my slumber. Two hours prior to bedtime, I had participated in a group guided meditation. The ensuing relaxation, combined with freshly laundered sheets, lulled me to a blissful ten-hour repose.
   The paperwork to which I have alluded comprises correspondence and homework. First, personal correspondence: including - but not limited to, letters to my Italian friend in California, my canine friend in Missouri, and a couple of bald-pated fellows hither and thither, of whom I have grown quite fond. Then, there is my "professional" correspondence: as [self-assigned] Birthday Correspondent for Tecumseh Senior Center, I send birthday missives to home-bound and congregate participants. Current summer season has a lot of birthdays. Suffice to say November and December can be quite cold, Great Depression years were slim on diversions and folks had to occupy themselves somehow. I am currently participating in a ten week course on Guided Autobiography, which has weekly homework assignments. Given all that, I'm sure you understand why it has been nearly a month since my last cyber missive. The recovering Catholic in me is having a bit of difficulty not seeing this particular letter as a "guilty" pleasure but I have become pretty adept at quelling those mea culpa notions.
   What have you been doing lately? Gone on any trips; moved; changed jobs? Maybe there is a new car or significant other you have neglected to mention. On the other hand, status quo often gets a bum rap. Notions of "excitement" differ from person to person - and that's a good thing.
   Well, no putting it off any longer: there is a whole day out there, waiting for me to make something of it. I'll try not to let so much time pass between letters. Either way, know you are always in my heart.

Much love,
Jo

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Helping some, hurting others

   Sometimes news is puzzling, to say the least. Recently I heard a bit of news that companies in at least one state would be mandated to purchase a specified percentage of their needed energy from coal-generated sources. This is likely a result of the "bring back coal jobs" stance promulgated by certain factions. I know for some people, it is all their families have known for generations. But times change and people need to adapt. Naturally, there is bound to be resistance - as there is to every major development. Slavery, for instance, did not end overnight. That doesn't mean old ways need to be drawn out long after they have outlived their usefulness or acceptability.
   When I heard the aforementioned newscast, my first reaction was, "Isn't that rather like telling doctors to treat a certain number of patients with *snake oil* because how else are charlatans supposed to compete?" It just felt totally wrong. Actually, I believe that is exactly what this is like.
   Time has come - in fact is long overdue - to seek and promote energy sources that do not deplete nonrenewable sources. Those in the "Earth is here for our use" camp will take exception, perhaps even umbrage. I believe humans are called to be, nay, charged with, being stewards of the planet and its multitude of resources. Being responsible is the "rent" we pay for dwelling here. Maybe we are the last generation of humans to inhabit this planet; that doesn't mean we have to trash the joint. Besides, even if we colonize another orb in Milky Way galaxy, wouldn't it be better to treat that new habitation as a *summer home:* a respite retreat, rather than a refugee camp? You know as well as I that many of us will end up in a position similar to Moses: being denied entry to Promised Land.
   At this point, perhaps we call only forestall the inevitable. That is no reason not to try.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Profits of doom

   I don't know what literacy problems are faced in other countries, but in United States, there is a great deal of misunderstanding generated by homophones. Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Oft-noted examples are: you're/your; there, they're, their; and then/than. You may think my use of "profits" instead of "prophets" was a *slip of the pen,* so to speak. I assure you, it was intentional.
***

   For seven years, there has been a contingent of U.S. legislature hell-bent on repealing Affordable Care Act. They gave this act the odious name "Obamacare," signaling their disdain for the President. Their primary goal was to undo the work of a man they dislike - constituents be damned.
   There are aspects of the current law which appear to be serving a great number of people quite well. Rather than tweak what is in existence, there is a drive to demolish a legacy simply because it is not a measure put forth by their party. Government has long since ceased to be about "the people" and is all about Power. Forty-fifth office holder has recently suggested the plan be scrapped (repealed) and replaced at a later date - an option previously rejected. One wonders just what poor people are supposed to do, meanwhile. Even if the poor were to die, one suspects the rich would be irate because the recently deceased had not to have dug a grave first and fallen in. How very inconsiderate.
   United States will go broke [in real dollars, not merely *morally bankrupt*] for sure, if we insist on paying people to be rich. Get real: people making millions and billions, sure as hell don't need a tax break - particularly at the expense of the poor. Anyone who takes in over a million dollars a year SHOULD pay a tax of seventy-five to ninety percent. Honestly, who needs more than one hundred thousand dollars a year to live on? Mind you, I am talking absolute needs here: food, clothing, shelter, potable water, safe environment, immunizations and medical needs, education, access to gainful employment - those things/circumstances which sustain life. It is greed, not need, which demands bigger houses, faster cars and other accoutrements of wealth. I would not deny anyone "nice things," but neither do I see any reason to deny basic necessities to any group of people.
   I am sure my outlook will be perceived by some - perhaps even a majority - as naive; I believe it is simply "humane." Let us as a nation and a species, support "Truth, Justice, and the American  Human(e) Way."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Terrorist lives matter

   We are in Twenty-First Century of "Common Era." At a time which offers so many ways to keep in touch and learn about cultures different from the one in which we live, there exists an almost perverse trend toward hyper-nationalism is some countries. I find it not only disturbing but distinctly unhealthy.
   During week of 19 June, 2017, there were several reported incidents which demonstrated just how uncivil the world is. A lot [too much] attention was focused on some guy named Otto Warmbier, who died a few days after being returned from North Korea, in a coma. At least he didn't come back in a body bag, which he well could have. Allegedly, he had absconded with a propaganda poster, thinking it would make a cool souvenir. Young man had a lot to learn about flaunting rules when not on one's home turf - unfortunately, he won't get the chance. Hopefully the lesson is not lost on everyone.
   This same week saw an airport in Flint, Michigan put on lock-down for several hours after a man was stabbed. Alleged attacker is of Turkish heritage and lives in Canada. The incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism: I presume because one of those involved in the altercation is from Middle East.
   Apparently, though, it is only when perceived aggressor has ties, however vague, to Middle East, that term "terrorism" is bandied about. Yet when a young Muslim girl is murdered on her way to prayer, it is shrugged off as "road rage"and not a hate crime. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!!! I just don't get it. ALL murder is a hate crime - by very definition.
***

   But I digress. I wanted to talk about the human-ness of terrorists, that we might understand them better. I believe it is only by treating all people as human, that we will - as a species - get anywhere in this world. There has been rhetoric *ad nauseum* about "driving terrorists out." Can people not see this is the essential core of the problem? These people have been marginalized within inches of their very existence and are fighting tooth, nail, and contraband weapons for a toe-hold. There minds have become warped by some overlord who uses them in a shameless scheme to grab power.
   "Terrorists" are made, not born: these individuals have parents, children, spouses, sweethearts; if they are destroyed, does anyone imagine that will be the end of it? There are people who love these misguided individuals and they will take up the cause. Hate/terrorism cannot be killed; it must be loved into nonexistence. We've tried the other way too long - and gotten nowhere.

Give peace a chance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Letter 131 [because it was time]

Dearest,
   I felt need to say how much we are in agreement regarding crazed glorification of all things military. Surely the entire world knows of United States' lust in this arena. What makes situation so tragic is knowing the money goes more for high-priced *gew-gaws* than personal needs of ground troops. The neglect suffered by personnel is outrageous. There should be treatment centers available to all who are dealing with symptoms PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Nearly every day, I see a post on Facebook which gives a number for Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Friends tell me counseling is more readily accepted now, which is a good thing because it certainly is needed. How can one be expected to just get on with it after ravages and deprivations of war, the taking of human life? Granted, not all members of armed forces see combat. One might say those are the lucky ones. But who knows what demons one may encounter in the solitude of one's bed? I very much doubt that anyone escapes military service unscathed.
   Time enough for troubles: let us take a respite to enumerate and enjoy a few whimsical pleasures. On this day which is eve of Summer Solstice, I went with a small group from Tecumseh Senior Center to Beach Bar on Clark Lake. A dozen of us car-pooled to this locally popular hangout, which opened in 1946. Menu, though not *extensive,* offers a pleasant enough variety and the place seems to be "known" for its tomato soup. In fact, a member of Orchard Terrace office staff recommended it. I promised to check it out and give a review. My selection was from Pick Two section; in addition to cup of soup, I had half a turkey sandwich on toasted cranberry-walnut bread, which also had cole slaw. I indulged my sweet tooth with a rich chocolate dessert. Why not? I had abstained from beer - and it simply does not do to be overly virtuous.
   Upon my return to apartment complex, the aforementioned office worker greeted me with, "Well?" Told her the soup alone was worth the trip: creamy tomato soup, topped with grated cheese and miniature garlic croutons. I am already planning a return trip.
   Rest of my day was pretty low-key: simple dinner of toasted bagel with Brie and strawberry jam, then a brief jaunt to Dad's to watch Jeopardy! Came home following a pleasant little shower, which dropped temperature by several degrees Fahrenheit.
   I have started a new missive to my young friend in New Delhi and am savoring a glass of White Zinfandel and a small piece of dark chocolate [85% cacao] while writing this note to you. Guess that's about all the news that's fit to print.

Hugs & kisses,
Jo

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dollars and sense

   Wealth disparity is old news, having existed pretty much as long as there have been people. Likely as not you, like most of the rest of us, are a member of the "ninety-nine percent." I read an article recently, which, astonishingly, more or less defended United States lack of universal health care. My personal takeaway was [author felt] individual greed, excuse me - comfort, superseded social responsibility. Cited, was American penchant for 'living large.' Not for U.S. citizens were apartment dwellings and small fuel-efficient cars - at least not while 4000 square foot homes and gas guzzling automobiles were available. It appears the want of the haves, outweighs the need of the have-nots.
   It would be bad enough if such as above were the sole offenses committed. As bad as wanton waste is, it pales when compared to mismanagement. Stupidity is bad; willful ignorance, worse; and perhaps cruelest of all is deliberate mismanagement committed to benefit bureaucracy. Examples are rampant, so let us arbitrarily start with what is pathetically called the "justice" system. Any sane and moderately compassionate individual can see that rehabilitation is more productive than punishment [read "revenge"].
   Jails are overcrowded not so much because there are really so many criminals as because prisons are profitable. Those who espouse law and order would have the public believe that locking people up is a means to securing "safety" for *average citizens* - whatever that means. It seems more about exacting revenge. Putting first-time and/or non-violent offenders in with murderers and sociopaths just gives latter group a new batch of victims. Prisons unfortunately seem all too often to attract personnel who are themselves inclined to bully.
   Recently I heard a program on NPR (National Public Radio) about theater in prisons. The play staged was Shakespeare's Othello. One of the cast members spoke of humiliations endured: he had to strip down and submit to a cavity search before entering rehearsal hall. He said it was a price he willingly paid because, once inside rehearsal hall, he was treated as a human being. How do people on the outside forget that? Maybe because all we hear are self-righteous people griping about how "easy" prisoners have it: *access to gyms, free health care, and three meals a day.* I would venture unless one is a white collar criminal, life in "the Big House" isn't all it is cracked up to be.
   Gym time is not like school recess; a clinic visit is not a hall pass; food is often unfit for human consumption. Prison is not a place one aspires to be, generally speaking: I add that caveat in interest of accuracy. As one on the outside, processing seems inept at best, deliberately wasteful and cruel at worst.
   During last full week of May 2017, heard a news report of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials dining at an Ann Arbor, Michigan restaurant, then going into kitchen and rounding up individuals. Panic ensued. Three of detained individuals had papers - but not on their persons. Fully a day after being taken into custody, these individuals remained in custody at a Detroit, Michigan holding facility. Don't know how many of you have ever been stopped for a traffic infraction and didn't have operator's license on you, but used to be in such case, one was issued a citation and had, I believe, 10 days to appear before court showing valid license and proof of insurance. Maybe now, one is thrown in the hoosegow until a third party produces necessary documentation; I don't know. What I really want to know is, where is the justice for these individuals? What of their lost wages; court costs (if it comes to that); mental anguish?
   Not being a scholar of criminal justice, I am unaware of the legalities involved but something is terribly wrong here. Surely there has to be a better way; a way that protects the rights and dignity of individuals and is more cost-efficient. We had better find it.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Table for one - letter 130

Hello dear,
   Recently, I was dining out with a friend, as I do a couple times each week. Every time, I see someone dining alone - most frequently an older fellow. It has always been my nature to talk to people. Most of them seem to like it; at least no one has asked me to go away. There are people in need of what I have to offer. Talked this over with several persons of my acquaintance, saying I had thought of having cards made up to say I was available as a meal companion and conversationalist.
   An advantage of being an overweight senior citizen is, one is less likely to be picked up for solicitation. A couple people voiced opinion my idea had merit; one adding there was probably an online site for promoting myself, another suggesting possible names for said service. One possibility was Tea for Two - [or Lunch or Brunch]. It needs tweaking but a market exists.
   Humans are social animals, eating is a social activity. I have long maintained that dining in the company of others, improves the flavor of food. I don't know if there has been scientific study but it would not surprise me to find food consumed in company of others is more easily digested. There have been and continue to be times when I dine solo. At those times, I usually listen to radio, to hear other human voices. I believe that longing for companionship is why so many single people eat while watching television. Oh, I know some families do it too - but that, in my opinion, stems from a tragic breakdown of communication skills.
   Dining out provides a good deal of pleasure and it is nice to have someone pick up the tab. That said, I wouldn't want *ability to pay* to be an obstacle to receiving care. You know me dear: I'm more about people than profit. I believe we are here to do good in whatever capacity possible. It seems I have found my niche. Now I just have to let others know they are welcome to visit.
Until next time -

Au revoir et bonne app├ętit.