It’s Been a Year

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.

It’s one of those places now that, just by mentioning its name, evokes vivid, horrifying images for us all.

One year ago today, that school lived its worst nightmare.

An eighteen-year-old former student showed up on campus with a semiautomatic rifle and shot seventeen people to death; fourteen of them, students.

Most of us can’t possibly imagine what that experience was like; to helplessly watch the surreal scene of a gunman randomly killing people, killing your friends. 

And you wait, paralyzed in utter shock and terror, for your turn.

Can you imagine?

And today, all the surviving students, teachers, families and members of the community who have lived with this horrific tragedy every day for the last year, will commemorate this anniversary by honoring the memory of those who were lost, and by renewing their commitment to putting an end to the senseless violence that forever changes the lives of all who are affected by it.

Which, incidentally, is all of us.

 

So then, let’s all honor the memory of those who died tragically a year ago. Let’s remind ourselves of how precious the people in our lives are, and how we need to let them know that every chance we get, because the time could come when we run out of chances.

I was listening to a man on the radio this morning recalling his experience that day. He was at a Starbucks just blocks away from the school when the shootings happened. He clearly remembers all the parents’ phones ringing at once. He remembers the horrified screams, the panic and chaos.

And he remembers one mother’s tearful regret over not telling her daughter goodbye that morning before she left for school.

Remind the people you love that you love them. Today.

 

And let’s also honor the memory of those who died by letting our lawmakers know very clearly that there is no longer any excuse for weak and inadequate gun control laws. This insanity has to stop, and they have the power to make it happen, if they can just stop kissing the arse of the National Rifle Association.

Let’s all speak out. The Stoneman students are; let’s support them. Let’s join them.

Today, we are all Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

#MSDStrong

Is it True?

This is a terrific post about how people deal with climate change (or don’t).

Stargazing Futures

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We have just over 10 years to avoid a climate disaster that will destroy humanity! That’s what they say? Who exactly is ‘they?’ Are they correct? And do we care? Well, I care. But does that even matter, except to me?

The topic of a warming world has been on our collective radar for decades. I won’t bore you with the details because you know them for yourself. The ‘They, ‘ the scientific climate researchers, have released their measured analysis of the state of our world and why it looks bad for life. The media is full of opinions, detailed statistical reports, proven theories and estimated trajectories of our survival or annihilation if we do or don’t do something. Indeed, I am currently listening to yet another hysterical report on the radio as these words tumble out. I read scary stuff every day. And most of us have been told by…

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Toxic

This is a very apt analogy of our President, our Congress, and us. Thank you, Teri.

Teri Carter's Library

At the park, I am putting my dog in the car after a long walk when I hear him — “Stop it,” he yells. “Sit down, I said sit! Sit, sit, sit. Knock it the hell off goddammit!” — and I turn to see the elderly man I passed half a mile ago on the trail, yanking his dog’s leash with one hand while beating him with the other.

The dog yelps and cries, cowering with each anticipated blow. I start toward them and that’s when I spot her, the man’s wife, continuing on down the trail as though nothing is happening.

“Mister, stop!” I say, waving my arms, trying to pull his attention my way. “My god, what are you doing, stop, you’re hurting your dog, please stop.” But he turns his back to me and keeps at it, his dog now upside down on the ground, and I…

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Last Chance

 

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CLIMATE CHANGE, IF WE CONTINUE TO IGNORE IT, WILL LEAD TO OUR EXTINCTION.

Did anybody miss that? Let me say it again.

CLIMATE CHANGE, IF WE CONTINUE TO IGNORE IT, WILL LEAD TO OUR EXTINCTION.

There is no greater threat to humanity. Not ISIS. Not illegal immigrants. Not even delusional, despotic Presidents.

None of them are a match for Mother Nature.

If you’re still a Denier, well, pardon me but, pull your head out. This is real, it is urgent, and denying it won’t keep it away.

It’s not a Democratic issue, a Republican issue, or even an American issue. It is a human issue, and it demands all our attention.

If we fail to give it, we’re done for. Period.

 

Are you all with me? Good, listen up:

Last week, a resolution was introduced to Congress declaring a Climate Change Emergency. The resolution, H.Con.Res.52, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer, and co-sponsored by several other Representatives reads, in part,

Expressing the sense of Congress that there is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes.

The resolution lays out several reasons for this urgency. Here’s just a few of them:

“…in 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that the Earth could warm 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels as early as 2030;

“…the climatic changes resulting from global warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, including changes resulting from global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, are projected to result in irreversible, catastrophic changes to public health, livelihoods, quality of life, food security, water supplies, human security, and economic growth;

“…in 2019, the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that human-induced climate change is pushing the planet toward the sixth mass species extinction and thus threatening the food security, water supply, and the wellbeing of billions of people;

 
“…even with global warming up to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the planet is projected to experience—
(1) a significant rise in sea levels;
(2) extraordinary loss of biodiversity; and
(3) intensifying droughts, prodigious floods, devastating wildfires, and other extreme weather events;

 
“…in the United States, massive, comprehensive, and urgent governmental action is required immediately to achieve the transitions of those systems in response to the severe existing and projected economic, social, public health, and national security threats posed by the climate crisis;

 
“…the massive scope and scale of action necessary to stabilize the climate will require unprecedented levels of public awareness, engagement, and deliberation to develop and implement effective, just, and equitable policies to address the climate crisis…”

There’s plenty more. Google climate emergency resolution to read the rest.

You get the picture? We’re in deep you-know-what. And it’s gonna take a large-scale course correction to avoid a total catastrophe that wipes us clean off the face of the earth.

It’s that serious, friends. It needs our attention right now.

So, what can I do?, you ask. Glad you asked.

One thing you can do is educate yourself on the issue. I know, it’s boring as hell to read about, but we need to have a good idea of what we’re up against. https://www.acciona.com/climate-change/ is an excellent website where you can learn about the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as ways to cope with and adapt to it.

Recycle more, use less energy, plant a tree or two, talk to your friends about it, get everyone’s mind on climate change. Because it’s gonna take all of us.

Support this resolution. Tell your folks in Congress to support it. No matter what The Man in the Orange Head thinks, climate change is the real thing, and nothing less than our survival as a species depends on how we deal with it.

Oh, and don’t do it for me. Do it for the children. They’re going to need someplace to live.

Looking for Feathers

 

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I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

 

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

 

That was all a man needed: hope. It was lack of hope that discouraged a man.

— Charles Bukowski

 

It’s real easy for someone with depression, like myself, who tends to view the world through a rather dark lens to begin with, to abandon all hope in the future when looking at the state of things in the present.

The news is constantly discouraging, courtesy and manners have all but vanished from society, and kindness, compassion and morals are well on their way to doing the same thing.

I keep looking for reasons to hope, to believe in a brighter day on the horizon but, lately, despair takes up more head and heart space.

I guess it’s partly because, the older I get, the less faith I have in people. I’ve seen more cases of them giving in to their baser instincts, not their better natures. And the difference is in who they serve: themselves, or others.

Also, giving up hope is just easier; I don’t have to do anything. Hope takes work. If you’re gonna hope, you’ve got to care. And if you’re gonna care, you have to actively engage.

And that’s where the old blood, sweat and tears come in. Nelson Mandela spoke of “one’s feet moving forward,”; Howard Zinn talked about “the energy to act.” They knew what I still need to learn: hope isn’t a state of thinking or feeling.

It’s a state of doing. If I don’t feel hope, I just have to make some. People through the whole course of history have done so, when facing the most impossible circumstances. I owe it to them to do the same.

So, wish me luck. I need, and want, to find hope soon. And, I have a suspicion, a lot of us do.

 

 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

The Big. Six. Ohhhh!

 

The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

“Time”, Pink Floyd

 

When I was a kid, I thought 60 was old.

As I turn 60 today, I still think so.

Sixty. It just sounds old to me. It means I’m now officially an Old Man..

And no B.S. about “60 is the new 40.” It’s the same old 60, if you ask me.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me already, for corn’s sake, as Fred Mertz used to say.

I’m hiring a private detective to track down where all the previous years went. I’ve done the math over and over, and get the same answer. Something is definitely amiss here.

On the bright side, I’m eligible now for lots of discounts.

 

I don’t know; turning 40 and 50 didn’t seem to bother me as much as this does. Maybe I’m more worried about my future: A, how much longer will it be and B, what kind of health will I be in?

Before I go any farther, I acknowledge all you geezers out there who left 60 in your rearview mirror some time ago, laughing at my lamentations over turning “just 60.”

Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve never been here before, and it’s a little scary. And, given my resting state, somewhat depressing.

Despite said depression, though, I must say that I’m glad to still be around. Most days, anyway. The bad days ain’t all gone, but they are fewer. For now, at least.

And, for that, I’m grateful.

 

I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things by now but, honestly, I’m not so sure what, if anything, that would be. In some ways, I feel like I’m still trying to learn how to be a man. Even at 60.

(The word man has always felt awkward to me, anyway. I still think of myself as some goofy kid a lot of the time.)

I realize I still have much to learn about love, respect, compassion, forgiveness, patience, good health, and a few other things. I guess the lessons never end.

I guess they’re not supposed to. I used to think, by the time I reached 60, I’d finally have things figured out. Turns out, not even close; I feel about as clueless now as I ever did. Must be a really slow learner.

So, onward I go, my hair more gray and less voluminous, my back a little more bent, my feet garbed in the age-appropriate socks and sandals. I’ve got my health, my job, my stunning good looks (Ha!), my friends and family, my lovely wife of now 35 years, and our two spoiled rotten cats, Izzy and Lizzy. Life is pretty good for this Old Man.

Well, gotta go. I got an early bird dinner to get to. Outta my way, whippersnapper!

 

You Want Them Here Forever

 

One of the bad things about getting older is, everyone else gets older, too.

And the people you love the most, who are older than you, who have always been in your life…

…eventually pass away.

And an essential part of your life is now gone.

You feel deeply hurt and, for a while, a little disoriented.

Your constellation looks different now; there’s a star missing.

And it upsets your sense of order. You want all these precious people who have always been here, to always stay here, defying the inevitable, because you don’t know life without them, nor do you want to.

And you know this is how life is; it’s just the natural order of things. But you still hate it.

 

My wife lost an aunt this week, one that she knew and dearly loved all her life.

Her passing wasn’t that unexpected; she’d been in poor health. But of course, that doesn’t make losing her hurt any less.

I met her 37 years ago, back when my wife was my girlfriend, even before I met my future in-laws. She was a wonderful lady, a terrific sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved her family wholeheartedly, and took care of them the best she could.

I know everyone who knew her will miss her. Like I said at the beginning, letting go of someone you love is always hard, and the older you get, the more letting go you have to do.

And memories, as much as they will sustain you in the future, feel woefully inadequate in the immediate sorrow and grief.

And that’s where family comes in. We cry on each other, hold each other up, affirm our love for each other and for the one who has left.

And we all just go on, considering ourselves so lucky for having known that special someone.

 

Love you, Geneva. You’re one of the best people I ever knew. Rest In Peace.

While the white people rally in Orlando…..

I fully agree with everything in this editorial from the Orlando Sentinel. I only hope decency prevails in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Ends and Beginnings

The face of Trump

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial

Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

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Day Trip to France

 

Have to admit, most of what I know about D-Day, which commemorates its 75th anniversary today, I learned from watching Saving Private Ryan. (A terrific movie, by the way.) I know it involved a lot of young men who knew they would probably die that day on the shores of Normandy, France, yet despite being scared out of their minds, courageously carried out the mission that ultimately saved the world.

And some of those young men are still alive today, and though they are much older now, the memories of that day are no less vivid, no less haunting. War stays with you your whole life.

It would behoove us all to take some time to read about the events of June 6, 1944, and appreciate just how historically impactful they were.

And to remind ourselves of just how undeniably horrible war is.

To all the remaining veterans of World War II and D-Day, I salute you, and offer my heartfelt gratitude. Your courage and heroism in the face of grave danger is why we are all here now.

Peace in Our Time.

Madness and Angst at the End of Empire — Kenn Orphan

 

This post isn’t a short read, nor an easy one, but I have yet to read a better, more truthful description of the American condition. Chew on it for a while.

Larry

 

“Recent Research suggests that human societies will experience disruptions to their basic functioning within less than ten years due to climate stress. Such disruptions include increased levels of malnutrition, starvation, disease, civil conflict and war – and will not avoid affluent nations.” – Jem Bendell, professor of sustainability leadership, University of Cumbria, UK “Perseverance porn […]

via Madness and Angst at the End of Empire — Kenn Orphan

Minefield

 

I’ve been more than a little hesitant to broach this subject, but I feel compelled to say something about it; given all the attention it’s gotten lately, it just feels wrong to stay silent. So, here goes.

Abortion. There, I said it. Of all the hot-button topics there are, this one may be historically the hottest.

And it’s front and center these days, with states from Michigan to Texas and Alaska to Alabama crafting new legislation to abolish it, feeling emboldened by the conservative Supreme Court to challenge the landmark Roe v Wade decision from 1973, which protected a woman’s right to privacy in regards to abortion.

Just check out the anti-abortion measures being considered in several states or, in the case of Alabama, already signed into law. By a female governor. (!!) Punishment not only for the woman who has the procedure, but for the doctor who performs it. Severe punishment.

(By the way, where’s the punishment for the guy who impregnated her to begin with? It does take two, you know.)

 

Let me be clear: I’m not here to debate the morality of abortion, itself. Whether I believe it’s right or wrong is irrelevant. I’m taking issue with the choice to have it done being taken from the woman. That just makes no sense to me. It’s her decision, nobody else’s. Certainly not the state’s.

And it’s incredibly naive for anyone to believe that making abortion illegal is gonna put a stop to it.

Anyway, that’s as much as I’ll say about it. If a woman is facing the decision of whether or not to abort, let’s offer her education, counseling, spiritual guidance, whatever, but leave the final decision to her. Don’t legislate it.

I know some of you will agree with me and some of you won’t, but I’m gonna say what I feel. You’re welcome to do the same. Thanks for your time.