Friday, April 15, 2022

Black History Month and my own person DEI journey

I started this way back in February.  Took me a bit, but it's finally finished. Sorry it bounces around space/time a bit. 

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So...it's Black History Month!  Yay! This is the time of year when white CEOs all over the country talk about how important black people and all people of color are to their cultures. 

I thought it might be a good time to share a bit about my own DEI journey.  Because, let me tell you, I have come a LOOOOONG way.  It's still a journey, I am still growing and learning.  But, it's hard to argue that I am in a much different place than I was at one point. 

I should start by saying that even that previous paragraph makes me sound like a big hippie.  And, I recognize that.  Which, honestly, is part of my journey. The fact that I recognize how I sound and that I have become ok with it because I know where I am and where I am going. 

I will start by talking about where I grew up.  And, I know this will probably annoy my family.  But, my hometown is not really known for it's Diversity. At one point, recently, I read that the county I grew up in was 92% white.  What does this mean?  Well...it means that you don't learn much about people that are different than you.  Difference where I grew up was poor vs rich.  That's about it.  There were rich white kids and there were poor white kids.  I was one of the not rich white kids.  I wouldn't go so far as to say we were poor, because, since moving to Seattle, I have seen true poverty.  But, my parents were working 2, sometimes 3, jobs through much of my childhood.  

But, my neighborhood...white.  Down the street were some apartments where a few Hispanics lived.  We didn't talk to them.  They were just there. 

I grew up very Republican.  Even today, my politics lean right.  Back then, it was all about Ronald Reagan and the Christian Coalition! I grew up knowing only what I was exposed to.  

I remember the Rodney King beating.  When that happened, I remember exactly what I thought.  I thought, "Well, he must have done something to deserve that."  Why did I think that?  Because I was raised to trust cops.  Cops are the good guys.  If you are in trouble, find a police officer.  Rodney King clearly must have tried to punch them or maybe he was drunk or, or, or.  

I also was not fond of gays.  Being gay was a choice. I knew people who were gay. And, I liked them and all.  But, being gay wasn't what God wanted.  Being gay was a sin.  You can love the sinner but hate the sin. 

I was rabidly anti-abortion!  Oh, wait...I am still rabidly anti-abortion. 

Anyway, you get my point. 

When I went to college, my world started to shift.  But, not in the way you might think.  I went to a private Catholic school (Go Zags!) so diversity still wasn't something we were known for.  Geez...I honestly don't think I knew a single black person.  Did I?  There were a couple of them on the basketball team, but I didn't know them.  No...where I started to shift was that I actually became more Catholic.  At least, what I felt is Catholic. 

I know this probably sounds weird because the Catholic church still, you know...doesn't really like the gays. But, I wasn't listening to that part.  What I was listening to was the part about loving your neighbor.  It doesn't matter who they are, what they look like, what they sound like, how much money the have or don't have...it doesn't matter who they are attracted to or how they dress...it doesn't matter what country they came from or what religion they are.  Jesus said, in very clear terms, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 

And this became the foundation of my journey.  Because there are no Buts after that statement.  There are no commas.  He doesn't go back and say, "What I meant by that was..."  He only tells us to love our neighbor. 

Oh...he also throws in a bit about not judging our neighbor.  In fact, not only does he say don't judge...he says, if you do judge, you are going to get the same level of judgement upon yourself!!!  Kinda scary for those Westboro nuts, don't you think. 

This is where my evolution began.  I still have bias.  I won't lie.  I will never be so naïve to say that I am perfect and that I never judge anyone.  I do.  The difference is that today, I stop and ask myself why I feel that way.  Is it simply a knee jerk reaction I am having because my racist uncle from Detroit told me if I had been alive during the race riots I would call them n*****s, too?  Is it from when I laughed when classmates would ask the black kid in class where he went after turning off the classroom lights?  It it because, when I was a kid, we dropped the word fa**ot as an insult as often as I use dumbass, today?  

If it does stem from these or other things I was a part of as a kid, well then maybe my immediate reaction is wrong and I need to revaluate what just happened. Because, while I was never raised to look down on others, just by the nature of where I lived, I saw people as different.  My friends and family made small comments that implied others were "less than."  Or, assumed what was going on it the heads of entire populations simply because this is what made sense for them. 

Today, I tend to knee jerk in a different direction.  More often than not, I always start from a place of, this person is a human, like me.  Let's go from there.  I may still think they're a dumbass.  But, my reason for thinking that is because of their actions or words now...not because of their background.

Here's another thing I have learned that might be controversial.  Being white is ok.  It is ok for me to understand that I view things through my whiteness.  And that isn't a bad thing!  And, anyone who tries to make me feel guilty for being white can suck an egg.  I didn't choose my skin color.  All I can do is understand my place in the world and work to ensure that I think about my words and actions.  This often means that I can't understand what a person of color actually wants. 

This is a frustration I have in my liberal city.  We're always being told what the black community wants.  But, you know who is telling us what the black community wants?  White people.  White people who often come from a place of privilege themselves.  I know there is good intent, but good intent isn't necessarily the right thing to do. 

Anyway, there is a bit about my journey.  I am proud of the strides I've made, but I am also aware that I will never fully understand.  I can try to.  And, understanding does not mean that I need to agree.  I just need to understand.  

Same with any issue, really.  How can I take a stand on anything if I don't know why someone would feel differently.  I can only know how I feel about something if I know everything about that something. 

I'll stop rambling, now.  Especially since I started this 2 months ago.  Just wanted to share.   

  


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Facing an interesting hurdle this week

So, there has been a lot of talk about mental health, lately. Which is GREAT! There is so much stigma around mental illness. And, I won't lie. I do think there are folks that use it as an excuse. I remember a dude that I used to work with always saying that he was "So ADD!"  I was like, Bro...I actually have ADD. It's not just something you throw out there because you didn't get your job done. 

Anyway,  I figured I would take this opportunity to talk about one of my own struggles.  It's timely because of something I am doing this week. 

So, when I worked at Microsoft, every year I would participate in the Gonzaga Trek.  Gonzaga brings a group of business students through town every year and they stop at a few of the big companies for tours and information. Most of the years of my tenure at Microsoft, I would lead the Recruiting component of the Microsoft presentation: here's what we hire for, here's how you apply, here's how your resume should look, etc. 

Well, in 2013, I had just wrapped up a shit year. Worst of my life. My divorce was just finalized and I was entering a period of severe uncertainly.  My mental state was not at it's peak, that is for sure. 

Anyway, Trek comes around. It comes to my part in the presentation. I am standing at the head of a room full of college seniors, all in suits or business attire.  I begin my presentation.  

About 5 minutes in, I have a panic attack.  

It wasn't the last panic attack I would have.  But, it was the first.  And, I had no idea what was happening.  

It started with sweating.  Like, heavy sweating...like I just spent 30 minutes on the Peloton sweating.  Then came a dizziness like I had just spun in 100 circles.  I was not standing at the podium, but I quickly made my way to it.  And, I made it just before I fell over.  I didn't fall over.  I caught myself on the podium.  And, I stopped talking.  Because I couldn't breath. Mike Tyson has just punched me right in the stomach. I was going to die.  Right here in front of a bunch of Business majors.    

My colleagues had left the room (they didn't need to be there at this part). But, the students were all still starting at me.  One in front asked if I was ok.  Yes, I lied. Just got a little dizzy. I don't remember how long this went on.  Felt like 10 minutes.  I am positive it wasn't that long. But, I clung to that podium in silence for an awkward amount of time.  

I didn't finish my presentation.  I told them I needed to get to another meeting.  And I left the room. To my colleague outside, I said I just got called into a fire drill, can they jump in.  Then I migrated to the rest room where I kneeled down at the toilet for a good 30 mins.  I argued with myself that I should call 911.  If I had been home by myself, I probably would have.  But, being at work, having just walked out of a presentation to my alma mater, pride wouldn't let me. 

Finally, after my stint in the bathroom, I went back to my office. I had an office, back then. All to myself! I retreated to my office, closed the door and laid down on the floor. I stayed there for the rest of the day until I caught the final Microsoft bus back home. 

At the time, I had no clue what that was.  I seriously thought I had caught some weird 24 hour bug that only lasted 5 minutes or so.  It wasn't until I discussed it with my doc that he told me I likely suffered a panic attack.  He drew blood, took my blood pressure, told me everything was fine.  Discussed meds that I declined (but would later start taking) referred me to a shrink and we called it a day. 

Anyway, that was a pretty pivotal moment in my life. It's the first time I recognized that my mental health had a direct impact on my physical health.  I've always been just a bit different since that time.  My mental health has always been a bit...I don't want to say weaker...but, I have to be much more mindful of it since those days.  I do take an anti-anxiety drug still.  But, I haven't had a panic attack since 2013.  

So, there you go.  Why is this a hurdle...well, for the first time since this story takes place, I am presenting at Gonzaga Trek!  They are visiting Alaska.  I skipped the Trek at Microsoft in 2014 (my last year at Microsoft) because I was still embarrassed about the year before. Hopefully, any of the GU staff that were there in 2013 have either moved on or forgotten. :-)  

That's it. On Thursday, we try again!  Obviously, I am at a much different place in life, now. It doesn't change that my brain is reminding about that last time. And that leads to anxiety!  The drugs help, though. And so does the knowing that this is mental. And that I will be ok.  

If you're suffering from anxiety, depression or any other mental health struggles, it's ok to ask for help. It's not shameful to keep yourself healthy. You hear folks preach about diet and exercise.  At this point in my life, I was training for the Goofy Challenge...a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday. Exercise wasn't my issue. Sometimes your brain needs some love and support.  Don't be afraid or ashamed to give it what it needs. 

And remember Help is ALWAYS available. You can call me! Anytime.  

Or, if pride hits you like it hit me, call someone else. 

The National Suicide Prevention Line is 800-273-8255.  

It will be ok! 




Friday, November 19, 2021

Let's talk about Kyle What's-His-Face

Oh, boy...here we go with yet another demonstration in just how polarized our nation is right now.  

I'm just gonna lay out how I see this whole thing.  

I feel like Kyle Rittenhouse is a douche bag.  I feel like he should NOT have been at this riot to begin with.  He had absolutely no business being there.  His statements about going down to defend property is lame.  It wasn't his property.  He decided to put on his vigilante hat instead of staying him with his parents, which is what all kids in the area should have been doing. 

Let's not forget that he's not even from the area.  He went well out of his way, armed, to participate in an opposing riot.  

I feel like this kid deserves to be in trouble.  I feel like he deserves to be in jail.  I feel like he and George Zimmerman have a lot in common.  Assholes putting themselves in places they have no business being in and then playing the victim after they were the ones that killed someone.  I feel like the Rittenhouse parents also share blame for letting their kid be in this position. 

But, here's the thing.  My feelings aren't the law.  If the were, abortion and the death penalty would be illegal. 

To all of those that are SHOCKED that Kyle was acquitted did you follow the trial at all?  Did you hear the testimonies?  Or, did you just hear the parts that your Facebook bubble showed you?  Because, as I read it, there seemed to be a ton of evidence that he was shooting in self defense. And, whether we like it or not...while I don't think he should have been there, it was not illegal for him to be there.  And, while I think he's an asshole, when one of the prosecutions own witnesses, the only living victim, admits that he was only shot after he raised his gun at the shooter, it's hard to argue against self defense. Beyond a reasonable doubt is intentionally hard to achieve.  And, I can completely see how they achieved it. 

This is being painted as more proof that the legal system is stacked against black people.  I don't see that.  All of the victims were white.  People are mad that the jury was made up of mostly white people.  I can't find anywhere that can actually confirm this.  Maybe we'll learn more about the make up of the jury soon, now that the case is over.  Regardless...a person is supposed to be tried by a "jury of their peers."  

When a black man is on trial and people raise a stink that the jury is made up of mostly white people, they are 1000% in the right to complain about this.  Likewise, when a white man is on trial for killing white men, it does not feel wrong to me that his jury is made up of mostly white people.  

Now, what about the fact that the shootings happened during a Black Lives Matter protest?  Well...I disagree...at that point, these were riots.  Yes...many many of the Black Lives Matter gatherings were peaceful and legally sound.  But, many of them weren't.  And, everything points to Kenosha being a riot.  So...there you go.  I don't have much sympathy for the looters.  You will hear me support the peaceful protesters much of the time.  You will not hear me support riots.  

This whole thing is yet another tragedy.  Everything sucks here.  It's time for Kyle to thank God and go away. 

All these calls for Rittenhouse to take an internship are shameful.  Just because he got off doesn't mean he's innocent.  If he didn't take it upon himself to play Punisher, 2 people would be alive.  These GOP asshats all over Twitter singing his praises are just showing why they have lost voters like me.  What would Jesus do Matt Gaetz?  Think he's proud of you for cheering for the deaths of these people?  

Anyway, there you go.  My thoughts.  I will continue to pray that we figure out how to undivide ourselves.    


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Catching up

 So...according to my calculations, I haven't posted in almost 2 years.  Judas Priest, who let me have a blog. 

It's funny, I frequently get the bug to write. But, it's usually when I am in the car or in the shower or going to sleep or ordering a coffee from the bikini barista.  It's never when I am sitting at my computer with time to write.  And, if I am sitting at my computer and thinking about writing, I forget what it was I was thinking about in the car or in the shower or going to sleep or ordering a coffee from the bikini barista. 

Also, 99% of the time I am thinking about writing, I am mad about something.  I am mad a lot right now.  

Not at life.  Life is actually pretty good.  I am busy as shit.  Work keeps me busy and I have this side gig that has really picked up.  Not to mention kids that need to not die.  

No, it's people that make me angry.  When I see that the US has had more Covid deaths than any other country.  When I see how hard it is to hire people because we require them to be vaccinated and so many of them simply refuse to do so.  And, when I hear people that I at one time thought were intelligent human beings complaining about their rights and junk as people around them continue to get sick. 

Yeah...I'm just mad.  Because how can you politely tell someone that they are being dumb. 

My favorite is the religious exemption.  Because there is really no way to PROVE that you don't truly believe that you can't receive this vaccine.  I mean, you are probably vaccinated against TB and the measles.  But this one is just too much!  

I got a fucking small pox vaccine when I was in the Navy.  But, numerous former military people are talking about how this one is just too dangerous because some talking head or some blogger posing as a journalist told them so. 

That's really all I have right now.  There are so many good things happening, I should post about them!  Maybe I will.  But, not right now.  Right now, I have to get back to work. 

Kisses!!! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Poet Amanda Gorman reads 'The Hill We Climb'

It's a good day

 I've been trying to find the word that best sums up how I feel today.  It's been challenging. 

Happy isn't right. We still have so many challenges and I'm not really happy.  400k+ Americans dead, the recent insurrection still on our minds, the continued separation from loved ones and blocking of things that I love to do.  Happy isn't right. 

Excited?  No...not really.  I mean, Democrats now control both the Executive and Legislative branches.  Despite popular belief, I am not a Democrat.  I am not at all excited about one party rule.  I suspect a lot of annoyance over the supposed mandate pushing through policies I don't like.  

Pride?  Maybe, but no.  While I am glad that voters chose America over Trump, 74 million still voted for Trump regardless of the shit of the last 4 years.  74 million Americans still selfishly picked a divider that agreed with them over a genuinely good man because he wants everyone to have health care and believes in racial justice. 

Relief...that's what it is.  It's relief.  

I am working really hard to NOT keep complaining about you-know-who.  He's no longer President.  No more obsessed tweeting.  No more worry about which dictators have the leader of the free world on a leash.  No more wondering who else will die or be orphaned because of one man's power trip. 

I tried to look ahead in 2016 when Trump was elected.  I said it is what it is and now it's time to be Americans and do what we do.  A couple weeks later, he tried to ban Muslims from entering the country.   

So, that's all the reflecting on him I want to do.  Now it's time to look forward. 

I am not naïve.  I know that half of the country voted for someone else and does not want a Biden presidency.  I've said it before, any other year, I would not have voted for Biden.  I voted for Biden for one reason.  He is not Trump.  I've been asked if that means I would have voted for Bernie.  I am not 100% sure, but probably.  I voted for an end to this division and an end to the permission that has been granted to people to be assholes and to think only about themselves.  Out of many, one.  Not, Out of many, mine.  

But, I would like to think that the majority of that half of the country still recognizes what America is.  America is a place where all are welcomed, regardless of background, regardless of race or religion or heritage. It's a place where disagreement is acceptable and peaceful.  It's all the things President Biden said in his speech this morning.  We can disagree without violence.  Without hatred.  

Here's the thing, though.  Disagreement is fine.  Debate is fine.  What is NOT fine is bullshit.  You can disagree with tax policy or immigration reform.  You can't continue to claim this election was rigged.  You can't continue to promote false evidence, exaggerated or often made up "evidence."  Because these are lies.  And these lies will destroy our Republic.  There has been NO factual evidence that supports the claim that there was widespread fraud in the election.  So, if this is your bag, then we have nothing to talk about.  Because you are wrong, the evidence proves that you are wrong, and experts have proven you are wrong, the courts have declared that you are wrong and our new President has been sworn in. So, either accept it or shut up.  We're going to have another election in 2 years.  Another Presidential election in 4 years.  And, the country is tired of angry white mobs trying to spread the lie that our Republic is broken because your Dear Leader didn't win.  

And, let's just acknowledge Vice President Harris.  After 240 years, we finally have a woman VP.  And, let's be real...chances are EXCELLENT that she will be President.  Politics aside, this makes me happy.  I was really frustrated when Hillary Clinton was running.  Because I did NOT want her to be the one to break that glass ceiling.  America has been ready for a woman to be President for a while now.  But, please not her.  Alas, it wasn't her.  Kamala Harris, on the other hand...very happy for her.  Republicans still have time to get their own woman on the ticket in 4 years.  But, dang...you all have a LOT of reconciliation to do before people like me trust you again. 

I'll wrap up with this paragraph from our new President.  It sums up my feelings pretty perfectly.  I thought the speech was pretty perfect, honestly.  Unity.  That was the theme.  

The answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don't look like look like you or worship the way you do, or don't get their news from the same sources you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we're willing to stand in the other person's shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here's the thing about life. There's no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we're called to lend a hand. That's how it has to be. That's what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. 

Let's get back on track! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

For anyone that needs to hear this...Parenting is FREAKING hard!

Ok, it's time to get real, folks.  

Do you have that friend or that family member that clearly lives the perfect life on Facebook and Instagram?  I'm sure you do.  The one with multiple kids.  Their toddlers are always working on some kind of STEM project.  Art is an every day thing.  Bonding is easy, along with breastfeeding, bedtime, naptime, every time.  Everyone is smiling and happy and #Blessed. 

Yeah...you know that friend.  Maybe you have more than 1.  

I am here to tell you...your friend is a big fat lying liar!  

Smoke and Mirrors!  That's all it is!!!  Because parenting is mother effing hard!!!

Imagine that, for the next 18 years, you would have to run a marathon every single day. 

That would be easier than being a parent. 

Imagine that you had to come up with a vaccine for Covid-19 in less than a year. 

Easier than being a parent. 

Imagine kicking off a space program and getting to the moon within 9 years. 

HA!  Try raising children! 

Seriously, folks.  Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.  Ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. Have I forgotten to feed my child for more than 24 hours?  
  2. Has my child fallen into the Grand Canyon? 
  3. Has my child opened fire on any human beings? 
  4. Is my child named Chad? 
  5. Is my child actively trying to undermine American Democracy? 
  6. Has my child ever passed up the opportunity to eat bacon? 
  7. Does my child think cheerleading is a sport? 
  8. Does my child say "I could care less?"
  9. Does my child enjoy movies staring Ashton Kutcher? 
  10. Have I ever left my child with a stranger for more than 4 hours? 
If you have answered no to all of these questions, you are doing just fine.  

Even if you have occasionally felt like putting your fist in a wall, that's ok!  Kids will create those feeling in their parents.  Maybe try to not actually put your fist through said wall...but, the feelings are understandable. 

Even if you feel like you just want to hop on an airplane and fly to a secluded place in Alaska where you don't have to look at or hear a single member of your family!  That's ok, too.  Heck...it might even be a good idea.  But, it doesn't make you a bad parent.  

Even if your darling child wakes you at 4 in the morning and you just want to look into his beautiful eyes and say, "DAMMIT IT'S SATURDAY AND I HAVEN'T GOTTEN 8 HOURS OF SLEEP IN 4 YEARS AND WILL YOU JUST GO AWAY!!!"  This is also completely normal. 

Parenting is hard in a regular year.  When playgrounds and movie theatres and zoos and parks and grandma's house are all open.  Take those away, throw in a nice little dose of "pandemic" and it makes an already overly trying experience all the more impossible.  

So, you know what.  You're doing just fine.  And, if you're not...if you're struggling, that's nothing to be ashamed of.  Because we all are.  Even Little Miss Perfect Life on Instagram.  Know your limits.  Know when to ask for help.  Know when to step away and let your husband or wife take over for a bit.  And if he/she is struggling, then it might be your turn to step up for a bit.  

Or, if you can, phone a friend!  Hand those little angels off for a bit.  Make sure it's someone in your Covid bubble because, you know, pandemic and all.  But, this is one area where Hillary was right.  It takes a village.  Lean on your village.  

You got this!  I got this!  We all got this!!!  And we're doing just fine! 





 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Things that make me smile - Haitian West Point Grad

 So...I saw this article float by by LinkedIn page.  Did a quick search to determine that it was legit and found the below story on the Washington Post.  Give it a read.  It's very heartwarming.  And, something that reminds us of the good in our country.  Something needed during 2020.  

tl;dr: From a Haitian slum, Alix Idrache first encountered American Soldiers when they were assisting Haiti after a devastating earthquake when he was a child.  He knew then that he would become an American Soldier.  And, he did.  Recently graduating with honors from West Point.  Now he is off to flight school where he will learn to fly Chinook Helicopters.  



Friday, November 27, 2020

What I am Thankful for - 2020 edition

 Wow...this year has really been different.  Makes one take a step back and think of all the things we have taken for granted.  Every year at Thanksgiving, I try to reflect on the things that I am grateful for.  This year, that list looks a bit different. 

Let's just get my family and friends out of the way as a given.  I am always thankful that I have been blessed with amazing people in my life.  

But, I want to reflect on more this year. 

This year I am grateful for the following:

  • Healthcare workers.  Recently, I heard someone say, "Did you know doctors and nurses can quit?"  I mean, I knew that, sure.  But, I didn't really think about it.  They can quit.  But, they haven't.  They are going to work every day, in full PPE, taking care of people at risk to their own health and the health of their families.  These people are the heros of 2020.  Thank you for doing what you do.  
  • Desmond's teachers.  Last year, nobody really knew what they were doing.  We were all winging it, hoping that things would be back to normal in the fall.  They weren't.  But, Our Lady of Guadalupe Middle School stepped the Eff up!  I can not overstate how active they have been.  Remote teaching is challening, I am sure.  But, they are doing it!  And, not by simply sending a list of assignments.  Desmond is "in school" from 8:30 - 3 every day.  Granted, it's via the internet, but his teachers are right there, on screen, teaching class and answering questions.  I went into the year wondering if it's worth it to pay the $800 a month for remote learning we could offer Des for free through public school.  The answer is 1000% yes!  This is levels above.  Desmond will be absoultey be ready for 7th grade. 
  • Owen's teachers.  The Mount is another story altogether.  Because they are part of an assisted living facility, they haven't had to close.  And, while many kids have been pulled out by their parents, nothing has been made easier for the staff.  They have to wear masks ALL DAY.  They have to communicate with parents via email and phone instead of in person.  And, they still have to deal with all the gooiness that is a toddler and their 20 toddler friends.  And, Marie, the Director.  Bless that woman!  She gets hollared at every day by parents that don't think they're doing enough.  They are doing their best, and their best is pretty damn great. 
  • Delivery workers!  Mail men and women, UPS drivers, Amazon delivery, etc.  Your companies (Amazon in particular) are profiting off of this pandemic while you are the ones putting yourselves in harms way.  By doing so, you are keeping us all socially distanced.  It seems like such a mundane thing.  But, we would be screwed without you.  Grocery stores would be packed, even more restaraunts would be forced to close, and Christmas would be cancelled!  Thank you for bringing us everything we need. 
  • Scientists.  The geniuses bringing us a vaccine with unheard of haste!  It's been less than a year and the state of Washington is talking about delivering vaccines to the most at risk people and front line workers by Christmas!  Thank you for the sleepless nights and all the time away from your families!  Thank you for also pushing ahead dispite the insults being lobbed at many of you from the most powerful person on Earth.  You are selfless and we are grateful 
  • Everyone that follows the rules.  Mask wearers, social distancers and those that stayed home for Thanksgiving.  Even with a vaccine, this virus is going to hang on for a LOOONG time if people can't start following the rules.  To those that wear their mask in public, thank you!  To those that stay 6 feet (or more) away from me and my loved ones, thank you!  To those that thought of our country instead of themselves and opted for a meal at home instead of a meal at Grandma's, thank you.  This all sucks.  But, American's have been known for coming together and sacrificing for the greater good...until 2016.  But, for those that care for others, thank you for what you do. 
I feel like the end is near.  We're in a really shitty time at the moment.  But, part of me feels like this is a last ditch effort by the darkness that has been consuming us the last few years.  Covid is spiking, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  How far away is the light?  I think it's closer than we realize. 

Life remains beautiful.  Hard.  But, still beautiful.  I am grateful to get to live it.  

Thank you for reading!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

(disclaimer - photo is from 2019 as I am not allowed to reveal the 2020 photos, yet)



Friday, November 20, 2020

One year to prepare for life with a teenager!

 So, last week, my big little dude turned 12. 

Twelve. Years. Old. 


I don't think it's a surprise to learn that I kinda like this kid.  He's going to be taller than his bonus mom by this time next year.  

12 is an interesting age.  It's a conflict.  One second, I am completely impressed with his maturity in one thing or another.  For example, I don't remember what we were watching, but something I was watching made me say, "Wow!  That guy has some cajones!"  

Desmond: "Dad...what are cajones?"

Me: *internal monologue* "Dammit...why is he always listening?"

Me: "Uh...well...it means balls." 

Desmond: "Dad...why can't you just say he's brave?" 

Me: "Don't you talk back to me Captain Woke face!"  *oh, sorry...that was also internal monologue*

Me:  "You're right...thank you for correcting me."

Then, 5 minutes later, I'll find him raging, fighting back tears because the dog ate his Lego minifig.  One of about 600 of his Lego Minifigs.  

He recently became a certified Scuba Diver!!!!

But, roller coasters are too scary. 

He's getting straight As!

But, still manages to forget to turn in completed homework.  

There is no doubt that he is my kid.  He shares many of my traits (laziness, ADD, a desire to play video games when we should be working). But, I remain proud of him.  He is doing very well in school, despite the challenges of remote learning.  He achieved Orange Belt in martial arts and he remains active in the sport.  He regularly texts his grandma (he's better at it than I am).  And, he is wonderful with his little brother who ADORES him.  

I feel like we are at a pivotal moment in his life.  Like this is the last we will see of little Desi.  He's going to continue to grow and mature.  He's got his pals that he loves to spend time with.  In spite of the lockdowns, he still chats up these buddies up regularly.  It won't be long before he's driving and staying out late and *GASP* dating.  

He's a good kid.  We're lucky to have him.  




















































































Thursday, November 19, 2020

Is it time for the GOP to die?

So...I have continued to follow all this post election nonsense.  You know, the nonsense of a lame duck president refusing to acknowledge his obvious (and fair) defeat.  

It's been hard.  I mean, the guy I wanted to win WON!  It's been 16 years since the person I voted for for President actually won the election.  I should be thrilled, right???

Well, here's the thing.  

I was really hoping that, once it was clear who the winner was (and, let's be real here...it's clear. If you're one of those that actually thinks there was some kind of fraud that is putting Biden in office, I really encourage you to read a book sometime.  And not one written by Mark Levin), that the GOP would start to back up their last 4 years of garbage.  The last 4 years of bending over to the bully that beat them.  

But, nope.  That is not happening.  In fact, many of them are doubling down. 

Remember how much we loved Rudy in 2012?  He was "America's Mayor!"  He could have gone down in history as the greatest and most loved Mayor ever.  Sure, he had faults.  Sure, there were reasons to criticize.  But, he led us through 9/11.  I remember him appearing on Saturday Night Live as he was leaving the mayor's office.  Tina Fey was there, almost crying, asking him to stay.  That's how bi-partisan the love for Rudy was. 

Now...Rudy Giuliani is a mess.  Perhaps I should cut him some slack.  Word is, he is making $20k a day to peddle conspiracy theories and take up taxpayer time and money on a lost (and dangerous) cause.  But, that's not something "America's Mayor" would do.  That's something an asshole would do. 

And Lindsey Graham.  I used to have so much respect for this guy.  He and my man Johnny Mac were tight!  Together, they were mavericks!  Bucking their party when the party was being stupid (campaign finance and immigration to name a few).  Now...he's just another Trump toady.  Not only did he chip in money to help Trump fight this completely fair and free election, but now he is potentially facing an ethics investigation for trying to persuade Georgia's Secretary of State to toss out legally cast votes.  This former acolyte of the greatest statesman of my generation is purposely trying to disenfranchise voters. 

And then there is Michigan. The home of my ancestors!  Where the Wayne County canvassing board is intentionally made up of 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats to ensure it's bi-partisan.  Where the 2 Republican board members voted to NOT certify the counties votes.  AFTER suggesting they would certify the votes of all the cities EXCEPT Detroit.  Did you know that Detroit has the largest percentage of black voters in America?  Oh, well now you do.  And two white Republican canvassers are trying to eliminate their vote because the amount of votes cast doesn't match the voter roles.

(Side note...this happens everywhere. Imagine for a second a group of volunteers, often elderly, juggling voter after voter during a pandemic, restricted to a certain amount of time while the eyes of the world are on them.  Is it really surprising that these don't match?  Another reason to support mail in voting.  But, not a reason to disenfranchise an entire city.)

(Side side note...the canvassers quickly changed their vote after EXTREME public push back only to come back this morning, after a phone call from our lame duck president, to "recuse" their vote.  Good news is they're out of luck). 

Anyway, this all continues to depress me.  The dumbification of America continues.  Somewhere, at some point, Americans got stupid.  It's not just the right.  There are a TON of dummies on the left.  Dummies that boycott JK Rowling for having an opinion.  Dummies that want to cancel Chris Pratt because something he liked on Twitter MIGHT imply that he voted for Trump.  Dummies that think it's actually a good idea to shut down our police departments. 

But, here's the thing about the current GOP.  They have given in to their dummies.  You can cry all you want about how liberal the Democrat party is.  But, they elected Biden.  They didn't elect Bernie or Warren.  And, as much as you want to cry about how Kamala is the most liberal senator based on her less than 1 term in a Republican Senate, it's simply not the case.  What is the case is that Republicans, the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ike, and Reagan are ok with undermining our democracy.  They are ok with casting doubt on our election systems.  Decades of gerrymandering haven't worked, so now they're trying the courts.  And THANK GOD our courts are throwing them out.  Checks and Balances ARE working.  At least for now. 

I stopped calling myself a Republican when Trump won the nomination in 2016.  I said that I refuse to be part of a party that promotes a person like this as it's leader.  It's not who I am, it's not what I stand for and I won't be part of it.  I've been holding out hope that they would swing back.  Swing back to the party that nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney.  Before the Tea Party had claws.  Before InfoWars and QAnon.  

I was having socially distanced beers with a buddy last week.  He asked, "When did things change?  When did people just start accepting things because someone said so?"  I don't know the answer.  When did bile from a reality TV star become more important than science?  When did the ego of a thrice married womanizer become more important than our electoral process?  When did we start accepting the word of a serial liar?  For real.  I don't know.  I try to have intelligent conversations with people I think are intelligent only to find they have swallowed every last drop of what has been fed to them.  Without question.  

Well, keep sucking, GOP.  It might be time for you to go and just enjoy your cult while the big kids figure out how to fix our country. 







Thursday, November 5, 2020

Statesman

I can't stop watching the news.  Nothing has happened in 24 hours, but I can't pull myself away.  

Things are looking good for Biden.  It's not done, but it's looking positive that we will boot President Asshole into the trash bin of our history along with Joe McCarthy, Jefferson Davis and Benedict Arnold.  

Latest reports are that, should Biden declare victory (which he won't until he is clearly the victor, unlike Trump who has already claimed victory), Trump will not concede.  He'll fight.  Because, that's what he does.  Because he's a dick. 

Hearing this, I was reminded of the greatest public servant of my lifetime.  My Senator, one of my heroes, the man I so badly wanted to be President: John McCain.  

John McCain would have been an amazing president.  Possibly one of the best the country has ever seen.  He valued life, unborn and immigrant alike.  He listened to the other side, he didn't just brush them off.  He was always, ALWAYS country before party.  But, he ran against Barack Obama.  

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not one of those idiots that thinks Obama was the worst president ever.  I didn't agree with him on much.  I never voted for him.  But, he was a good man.  McCain would have been a better president.  But, the time was right for Obama.  There was not a single person alive that could have beaten Obama.  McCain really should have won the nomination in 2000.  Oh well. 

Anyway, my point.  I was reflecting on the campaign of 2008.  And, I recalled John McCain's concession speech.  Possibly the most gracious in my life time.  Certainly, the most gracious that I remember.  Granted, I am biased.  But, I think it's hard to argue that this was a lesson in class.  It is such a shame that our current leader knows nothing of class. 

Here is the speech, for your viewing pleasure.  



My choice has been confirmed!

It's 2 days past election day.  It's no secret to my friends and family and the 2 readers of my blog that I am NOT a Trump fan.  Haven't been since day 1.  I was one of those that knew, KNEW, with every fiber of my being that the Republicans wouldn't be stupid enough to give him the nomination. 

Well, Republicans were stupid enough. 

Then, I knew that AMERICA, wouldn't be stupid enough to elect him president.  I mean, I knew how deeply the hatred of Hillary ran.  But, certainly we could put that hatred aside knowing that we would be electing a dangerous narcissist.  Remember how much grief we gave Hillary for NOT leaving her cheating, womanizing husband???  HAHAHA!  Of course we're not going to elect this serial adulterer!  A man accused of abusing multiple women.  HAHAHA!!  Of course we're not THAT dumb!!!

We're that dumb. 

Now, here we are...4 years later.  Everything I worried about has come true.  Our allies laugh at us.  Our enemies have been emboldened.  Chaos rules the streets.  Oh, but don't worry...the chaos is only those black people complaining about cops.  Don't worry about those thugs.  If they would just stop committing crimes, they wouldn't get shot. ALL LIVES MATTER!

Oh...and, spending is at record highs, too. 

And now, the election has come and gone!  And the winner is....WE DON'T KNOW!!!

We don't know because, still, almost half of the country is ok with this guy.  Over half the country doesn't care about 530+ children orphaned by the United States.  Over half of the country thinks 235k and rising deaths of Covid-19 is an acceptable number.  Over half of the country doesn't mind the constant lies, the hypocrisy or the fact that he's been undermining our American elections system for months.  

But, Americans aren't dumb enough to fall for that, right?  They know that there has been no evidence of widespread vote tampering, right?  That any fraud or error from mail in voting has actually been less than fraud or error from in person voting?  They know because they read, right?  

Yeeah, no...they don't.  Votes are still being counted in most states.  5 states have yet to be called by the news, much less be certified by the respective states.  Yes, our Dear Leader has declared victory.  And, his mob has agreed.  They are trying to storm polling places.  They are taking videos of their lemming friends INSISTING that their vote was tampered with.  And, people are eating it up.  

This, my friends, is what Fascism looks like.

The good news is, the data is trending in a direction that should kick this ass to the curb.  But, we know that won't be the end of it.  He's already suing. And, he's not suing to contest results.  He's suing to STOP COUNTING.  Let's flash back to 2000.  The counts all happened, then the recounts.  THAT'S when the lawsuits happened.  After counting.  This is unprecedented.  He is literally suing to disenfranchise voters. This is disgustingly unAmerican.  

I want this to be over.  




Oh...and I deleted my Facebook page.  More on that later. 

  

Monday, August 3, 2020

School or no school

So...Covid sucks.  Let's just get that out of the way. 

It's August.  School starts for my kids just after Labor Day.  So, we have about a month left.  Last we heard from OLG is that they plan to be in school IN PERSON.  I love this idea!  And, I am terrified of this idea!  

The whole open schools or not arguement...this is the bloody Kobayashi Maru.  It's freakin' Sophie's Choice.  It's Trump vs Clinton.

In other words...it's a no-win situation. 

Kim and I are pretty realistic about this whole Covid thing.  We follow the rules.  When we were told to stay home, we stayed home.  When we were told we could go out but we should wear masks, we listened...we went out and we wore masks.  We're in a place where we like that things are opening up, but we really wish people would stop being stupid and selfish.  So much of this can be controlled if people would think less about themselves and start considering those around them.  Why do we feel this way?  Because the doctors and scientists have told us to and I accept that they are much smarter than me.  

Back to schools.  

When they first started saying they would open the schools, it looked like things were improving.  But, then summer hit.  And people went to the beach or to rallys or protests or parties.  IE: people were dumb.  And, Covid went back up.  So, schools are now talking about sticking to virual learning. 

Virtual Learning is absolutely NOT as good for most kids as in person learning.  Certainly not for my kid.  It's hard to keep him on task, he tends to distract me from the work I need to do, and I am a horrible teacher as I don't know how to do this stupid hippie math they teach, now.  I absulutely do NOT want to do what we did the last trimester of last year.  

So, send them to school, right???   Right????

Well, no...not necessarily.  

Because we are still in a pandemic. 

The average age of a teacher in the US is 42.  The median is 41.  This means that 50% of teachers are over 40.  Many are teaching in to their 60s.  And...kids are germ factories.  These little bastards are carrying every germ known to man and many that aren't.  They don't show symptoms like adults.  That doesn't mean they don't wipe their boogers on their hand and then wipe that hand on something that someone else will touch.  That doesn't mean they won't cough and send their spit flying 100 feet towards the teachers desk.   

I feel pretty confident that, at some point, I am going to catch Covid-19 (actually...want to know a secret?  I actually think I already had it.  In the very early days.  But, it was before we knew it was a thing in the US, so we weren't testing).  It's out.  It's coming.  But, I am being pretty safe and taking precautions to ensure I don't pass it on.  I am a loyal mask wearer.  I wash my hands.  I don't shake hands or hug (This is actually great for me because I don't like touching people).  But...if Desmond gets it and is sitting at school with 25 classmates talking about Fortnite and forgetting to distance...what if one of them catches it and takes it home to their family?  What if one of his friends gives it to Grandpa?  What if one of the teachers gets infected?  That would be absolutely tragic. 

Desmond is a smart kid...I think he can handle the mask and the social distancing.  But, he's also going into 6th grade.  How the heck do you get a Kindergarter to wear a mask all day????  Don't worry, I will answer that for you.  YOU DON'T!  Masks will be slingshots, projectiles, napkins.  They'll be everything but a protective shield to keep germs from spreading.  

See...no win.  

What's the solution?  I have know f**king clue.  I'm a recruiter.  I hire software engineers.  This is why I look to the professionals and I choose to trust.  I trust the doctors and scientists to tell us what they know and offer suggestions.  And, I trust my kids' principals and teachers to have the best interests of the kids and staff at heart.  If that means we have to go all virtual, then (MOTHER EFFING SON OF A BERCHING ASS BUTT STUPID FACE) we will do all virtual.  If it means all in person, great...we will be ready with masks and sanitiser and anything needed to keep people as safe as possible.  If it's a hybrid, ok...we'll figure that out too.  None of this is normal. All of this is new.  And, we're all in in together.  

2020 sucks balls.  Sign me up for that vaccine trial! 

Maybe if we all have Principals like Dr. Lee here, we'll be good to go!  


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Black Lives Matter

There's a ton going on at the moment. I have a couple posts that have been sitting in draft. The one about quarantine. The one about my wife losing her job, recently. But, I haven't posted them yet because, each time I write one, something else happens and makes the previous thing seem so minor.

So, I am going to take this spot in my blog to talk about Black Lives Matter and everything happening in our world after the murder of George Floyd. Now, this is my blog, so I am going to be upfront about it, like I normally am. And, like I normally am, I am probably going to wallow somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. The place where neither side thinks I am taking the right stand. Oh well...such is the life of a true Centerist, I guess.

I'll start with George. Did you watch the video? If you didn't, you need to. It's hard. But, especially for those that are talking about how "he was on drugs" or "he shouldn't have been breaking the law," go watch the video. Because, you know what...I don't give a shit about anything else. He did not deserve to die. Full stop right there. He did not deserve to die. He was unarmed and he was cooperating. He was handcuffed behind his back while being held to the ground on his stomach. The man was restrained. There is no way to argue this point...George Floyd was murdered. Did you watch the video, yet? Did you watch the part where he calls for his mother? Maybe your heart wasn't touched when he begged for water or told the cop he couldn't breathe. But, then, as he's dying, he cries for his mother. If you are a parent and that doesn't move you, I question your humanity. No, really.

Now, before I get into the protests, let's pause for a moment. George was the catalyst. For everyone talking about how he's not a hero or how you don't "support" George Floyd. Let's not forget the other murders that have happened in the last few months. Breonna Taylor was shot by police while sleeping in her own apartment. Turns out they served a warrant on the wrong home. Let's also remember Ahmaud Arbery, shot by 3 rednecks while going for a jog.

And now, people are protesting. I am going to split this part up into 2 seconds. I'll start with the protests, then I will talk about the riots. Because...they are most definitely 2 different things.

The protests.

Protesting is not my bag. I don't really like crowds, so I don't typically go to protests. But, let's get one thing clear...the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the 1st Amendment. It's right up there with Speech and Religion and it comes BEFORE the beloved 2nd Amendment Republicans are always crying about. And yet, for the last 2 weeks, we have seen peaceful protests broken up by police in riot gear, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets and arresting people for simply being there. This isn't a media narrative, folks. Watch the videos from people on the ground. Jump onto YouTube or Reddit. This stuff is raw and real. Crowds are chanting, yelling, waving signs...doing nothing violent. Then...BAM...flash grenade. BAM...tear gas. Now, we're hearing calls for "Defund the Police!" I'll get to that in a second. But, it's easy to understand when we see what is being done to Americans practicing their Constitutional rights.

Now...the riots.

Riots suck. And, the riots are being led by fringe groups, not the protesters. And, I know this is hard for a lot of people to hear, but most of the riots are being started by white people. Whether it's Antifa or White Supremacists doesn't really matter. What it comes down to is that they are not being started by the same people that are leading these protests.  Then, we all jump on our social media pages to tell protesters they are doing it wrong.

Let me quickly touch on Defund the Police. This is a horrible motto. I get it. In no way to I support Defunding the Police. In the last couple of days, I have learned that Defund the Police doesn't actually mean abolish police departments (although, granted...nutjobs like AOC say it does). Defund the Police is about reallocating funds. So, instead of buying a new tank for the PD, maybe invest in mental health or community organization. Instead of 100 more AR-15s, maybe hire some more social workers to check in on our lower income, more at risk communities. Defund the Police is the wrong term and they need to stop using it. Because, DEFUND means...well, Defund. It doesn't mean, Keep Funding, but spread the money around differently. So, I am not onboard with Defunding the Police. But, I will keep listening to this conversation. Because, I don't think the PD needs another armored vehicle.

Here's where I have been impacted personally in all this. I have always said, "It's not people like me that are the problem." I've tried my best to take a step back and really examine where I fit in all this. Granted, I would not consider myself racist and I suspect (hope?) my friends wouldn't, either. But, I have come to acknowledge White Privilege. I hate this phrase. Even today. But, 4 weeks ago I hated it because my ancestors never had slaves. I have never stood in the way of a black person reaching their goals. Yes...I've told some black jokes here and there, but only the tasteful ones! After all, as I learned from Avenue Q, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist."

But, today, I hate it for a different reason.  Because I had a come to Jesus moment and realized it's real.  Maybe I haven't directly affected the life of a person of color in a racist way. Maybe. But, I have come to acknowledge that I have not had to face the same hurdles as my neighbors of color. I've been pulled over 4 times in my lifetime. I heard the story of a friend who was pulled over 15 times in one year. I have never been in the back of a police car. Recently, a friend shared a story of how her black son was put in one when he was 10 for throwing rocks across the street from his house. A 10 year old boy put in the back of a police car without his parents around. I don't get watched by security in the store.  I can walk down the street in a hoodie at night.  My parents and their parents and their parents chose their lives and the lives of their children.  Can the same be said for my black friends?  How far back do they have to go to find an ancestor who was kidnapped?

I watched the video of Philando Castile's girlfriend and 4 year old daughter in the back of a police car after Philando was shot by police. The girlfriend is crying and screaming and her daughter, 4 years old, says to her, "Momma, please stop cussing and screaming...I don't want you to get shooted." 4...Fucking...Years old. Seriously...I am tearing up as I remember this.

Look...I am not anti-cop. Not even a little bit. There seems to be this notion that support of BLM makes one anti-cop. I'm not. You have to be a truly special person to be a police officer. You put your life on the line every day. You don't know what might come from a traffic stop or a domestic violence call or anything on any given day. However, it also takes a special person to know that killing people should almost NEVER been an option. We're training our cops to learn how to live with the taking of a life. We're training them on how to do this long before they have to pull their gun on someone. We're sending them into unknown circumstances, putting an enormous amount of stress on them, and then given them no resources to cope with this stress. Is it really surprising that 40% of police families experience domestic violence? Going back to the poorly labeled "Defund the Police," maybe it is time to spend less money on guns and more money on a precinct shrink that all officers are required to visit on a monthly (or more) basis.  And, if there are cops that are saying, "I don't need a shrink!" well...maybe these are the cops that should consider a different profession.  Because, I feel like anyone that is legally allowed to pull their gun on another human being should be mentally competent to do so.  Perhaps, instead of 100k more new cops, we train the ones we have to be excellent humans, excellent de-escalators and make sure they are VERY well supported.  As well as held accountable.

If you've gotten this far in my post, you're committed!  So, I would like to offer up a challenge to those of you (you know who you are) who still prefer to post about the white guy that died in a similar manner to George Floyd (what about him???) or about black on black crime or "All Lives Matter" or some other "What about us," stuff.  Here's my challenge.  Learn about our shared history.  Truly learn about it.  You don't have to read "White Fragility."  I'm not reading it.  Not because I don't think there's probably a lot of great info in there.  But, because I suck at reading non-fiction.  But, there are so many other things you can do.  Watch 13th on Netflix.  It's eye opening.  Learn about our American heritage outside of "Abe Lincoln freed the slaves."  Because there is so so much more.  Heck, even this episode of "Last Week Tonight" is enlightening.  Especially the woman at the end.  Don't write her off as just another "angry black woman."  Her last line took my breath away.  And, I mean literally.  Because, when you truly think about how we, as a nation, have treated our citizens of color...my dear God, we deserve what's happening.  I'm not pointing to you or you or you.  I am pointing to us...The United States of America.  Land of the Free...ish. 

I'll leave with a couple final thoughts that I had, recently.  Did you know that, only a month ago, a woman named Irene Triplett died.  She was the last person still collecting a Civil War pension check from the US Government.  The Civil War happened a million years ago...or did it?  It's much closer to us than we realize.  Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated in 1968, within our parents' lifetimes.  Rodney King was beaten in 1991, in our life time.

Oh, and only a few weeks ago, a black man was killed while taking a jog.


Black History Month and my own person DEI journey

I started this way back in February.  Took me a bit, but it's finally finished. Sorry it bounces around space/time a bit.  ______ So...i...