This was in our mail that was held for us while we were gone. I hope we are not too late to take advantage of this chance to free up some money that would otherwise go to Russians and Asians and make an entrepreneurial investment in our country.
I can't imagine living in a place where almost 2/3 of the people own guns. Since most gun owners own more than one gun, and many own virtual arsenals, this means that Wyoming has way more guns than people.
We bade farewell to our condo at 6:45 Seattle Time. It was dark and drear outside.
We used the limousine service that we realized was only a few dollars more to take than the Airporter and much more comfortable. Our favorite driver is a very amusing Russian guy with that ironic sense of humor they have. However, this time we got The Silent One, the driver of few words. He looks faintly like Liberace but is stolid.
Anyway, as usual I refused to go through the blue X-ray box at security. I had a nice chat, though, with the TSA official. She was very friendly, and we had quite a discussion about how cold and lacking in sun Seattle is. She lived in Honolulu for a while and misses the beach life there. And we were even joking around. There are some advantages, I always think, to appearing as harmless as I do.
So far so good, eh? Well, about three hours into the flight we started rocking and rolling, and it went on for 45 terrifying minutes. I'm not exaggerating. I know terror when I feel it. The plane went up and down like an elevator. It shook and shimmied. And sometimes it went up and down and shook and shimmied all at once. It was like being on a rough Jeep trail. This has never before happened to me in all my years of flying.Maybe bumpiness going on for a few minutes, but not for 45 minutes!
I hope never again to have that kind of experience. I got this, "You were scared? Not me." reaction from Terry. Yeah, right.
Margaritas and Mexican food at Rueben's helped. It's been getting lousy reviews from spoiled Yuppie twits on Yelp, always the sign of a good restaurant. "The help did not tug their forelocks enough." "They charged extra for the chips and salsa." "The food had fat in it. Ugh!" Yes, they cook with (gasp) butter! And Sue's margaritas always knock me on my ear. Which was what I wanted at that moment! Sweet oblivion.
I do appreciate that not just Ruebens but downtown Hilo in general can shock a higher class of people. You may not have a guy in dreads playing the harp on the sidewalk in your town. But then again, maybe you do.
Today I have adrenaline poisoning. Ugh. But we had a good breakfast and are now going to pick up the cat from the boarding kennel.
One thing that has made me very happy is seeing the expansion of services for the poor and homeless in Ballard. There is a homeless clinic here now which has been open since June. They are seeing and treating people and getting them signed up for Medicaid. They are a government subsidized non-profit.The Ballard Food Bank is providing a lot of meals and is always busy. Nice to know there are are so many good, caring people in this community.
Just a quick note: apologies to those I failed to get in touch with, phone or visit. I'll phone when I get back to Hilo, which is better to do with a land line anyway.
We just took our granddaughters to the school bus for the last time. This evening we'll be going to a music and dance extravaganza at their school. That will be fun!
My older daughter said something last night that really struck me, and I am going to be mildly indiscreet and share it. I hope this does not depress anyone. She said that at work sometimes people don't want to do what she says but she makes them do it anyway because she is right and in the long run they realize that. In my entire life I have never been in that position: in school, in my family, at work. It did not matter whether I was right or not, because I had no power. I could be as right as right could be, but it made no difference, because I had no authority.
I wonder how many other people are in my position. It has taken me all this time to realize that this has been the story of my life, and denial being what it is I'm sure that this is an unrecognized and common affliction among the powerless. At best, I have been able to prevail in some small matters. But everything I say or do has been called into question for as long as I can remember. This has forced me to explain my position, always, or just give up, whereas so many others simply get their way with very little trouble.
As an example, one of my last struggles was trying to convince my boss(es) that the best way to teach writing was to allow students to write. I ended up passing out worksheets and correcting grammar mistakes, because it was too difficult to do anything else. This kind of defeat has sapped my confidence and is typical of what happens to me.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer here. But that is how it goes sometimes.
Probably my most defining trait is that I never try to influence events and have no idea what is going to happen next. Being like this has prevented me from being a roaring success in life, but it also has kept things interesting. And this trait of mine has made old age one of the happiest periods of my life. Old people who want to run the show are such a pain, but I am happy to go along with whatever turns up and am generally well liked in spite of my contentiousness and refusal to have the correct attitudes toward life.
Therefore, the Norwegian crab feed at the Lief Ericcson Lodge of the Sons of Norway turned out to be so much fun and just my kind of event! I think we were the median age there. There were not too many officious people around but enough to organize things and keep everyone under control, not too difficult a task. There was a silent auction, and I won this perfect example of Norwegian kitsch for $10.00.
Someone devised a bib for this print of a Munch painting, and someone else added a comment later! Here is the Wikipedia entry on Uff da! which I see a lot on bumper stickers around here.
The woman seated next to me was Chinese, from Hong Kong, married to a genuine Norwegian, who probably was the only person there who was actually from Norway. They had come from Bellevue to attend this event, which was a long drive. Across from us was a third generation Ballard resident of Norwegian ancestry with his fourth generation daughter. He was bemoaning the changes in Ballard but became very tactful when we said we had a condo at Canal Station.
Later on there was a raffle, and the Chinese women, who had bought a lot of tickets, did not win anything. "I never win anything," she said. But then she smiled and showed me the beautiful gold cruxifix around her neck. "But I did win $40.00 once, and I bought this with it."
And not to go unmentioned: the crab was the best we've had for years. With melted butter, a baked potato and sour cream, garlic bread and coleslaw this was a feed that could not be beat. Those crabs never had a chance.
And there were some buxom maidens at the cash bar and a very buxom young woman at our table that Terry enjoyed conversing with. She was, however, of English heritage. Not being much for dancing, especially not being much for dancing to oldies, we left around8:30. Leif was looking very craggy and handsome as we left, I thought, if somewhat severe.
Got this shot out our condo window. This street person comes around about twice a day, quite regularly, and goes in to the Cafe Fiore to warm up and I assume to use the facilities. I also see her sitting in a chair in front of the cafe when it's warmer. It could be that she lives in one of those shelters that make people leave during the daytime. I don't know. I might ask her sometime. She seems to be living a thought out existence. Of course. How could she survive otherwise?
One of the best newspapers I have ever read is Real Change, the "homeless" paper that people sell on the street here. Just off the top of my head, as it were, and not really having a lot of information, I would say that Seattle's homeless are in much better shape than the homeless in Portland. Not ideal, of course. But having an outlet like Real Change is a real boon to the homeless community. Since we do own property here, I'm trying to inform myself and find out what my obligations are to this population. I will drop in at the local food bank before we leave.
Update: I haven't had time to look things over in the Ballard neighborhood, but there is quite a bit of national interest right now in homelessness. I guess it seems so much grimmer when the weather turns bad. Melissa Harris-Perry had formerly homeless youth on her program who talked about how they ended up on the streets and how they were eventually able to put their lives together.
Obviously, the most immediate and pressing issue for the homeless is always hunger. And imagine what
it must be like to be for young people-in most active phase of their lives when they are growing so fast-- to be food deprived. This means that for the homeless enough high quality food is
priority #1. So donating to the food bank seems like the first line of help.
The Ballard community is, in fact, doing a lot. The Episcopal Church has a sign out for a "homeless clinic." The church was busy and open to all comers, unlike too many churches which are locked up most of the time. If I have time I'll go there and talk to people. But this has been a very full visit.
We did get in a long walk on the one day that was very pretty. And we got to the local Norwegian crab fest, which I will report on at length at a later time. I am also researching the gun control issue, which is refusing to disappear in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. I had no idea how urgent the propaganda of the gun industry has become, how worried the gun manufacturers are and how they have been ramping up their efforts in the past few years. Their base of rural gun owners and hunters is shrinking.
I remember how much a part the hunting cult was of Terry's boyhood and his supposed initiation into the guy world. He resisted and rejected it all. We even have a video from a film, made some time in the 40's, of him and his father dressed in hunting gear, carrying their weapons and advancing into the woods. Very corny, but it certainly illustrates the nostalgia cult around hunting. Boys in our neighborhood in the Bay Area all had a BB guns, which they used to shoot pigeons, squirrels and cats. They were the town kids of people who had grown up on the farm. Later on, many got shotguns and killed ducks. These stringy wild mallards were inedible, but oh well. They were just as apt to fish, however, and they caught bass, mostly. I think fishing is bigger where there are the opportunities. Certainly this is true where we live in Hawaii, except for the pig hunters. I don't know much about pig hunting, except that it's the pig dogs that track them and bring them down. I believe many pig hunters hunt with bows.
So here we are with food and dead fowl: This evening will feature Sunday chicken dinner with the family at the Hi Life. We practically live there. I love their food, and their menu is big enough so I don't get tired of of their offerings. It's amazing how much food children need! And a check is going to the Ballard Food Bank and food into the collection drum in the condo entrance, too. With this cold, people need more food.
I've got to say that the more time I spend in Ballard, the better I like it, and the more I admire what they do in the way of community service. I don't admire the covert racism, of some, however, and that is a genuine problem. The Ballard School District was one of the plaintiffs in the recent Supreme Court decision that de facto overturned Brown v. The Board of Education. I think that this is the agenda of a minority, however, who were always anti-integration activists. And this is far from being the all white community it once was. I see lots of positive changes here. There are many very liberal people in Ballard, and we know some of them.
Good news: The whales are back! Our neighbors say there are a lot of them this year, and they are very active.
And there is a lot of whining going on on the right about what conservatives regard as Democrats' trickery (Beyonce's lip-syncing), double-dealing (furthering the Democratic agenda against their opposition) and downright aggressiveness (Hillary!!!) I think they are doing a pretty good job of self-destruction and need no help with the job.
But they could rescue their situation if they just stepped back and thought things out. I know thinking is bad and hurts one's head. Remember those pictures of Dubya trying to think? He looked so distressed. It must be bewildering to Republicans to realize that money can't buy everything. It's their faith, after all.
Republicans lived by the bottom line, stripping the middle class of assets and driving the poor into greater poverty. They poured resources into unnecessary wars and military expansion, because they thought that was the way to keep the economy revved up. They indulged themselves in patriotic propaganda and encouraged overt and covert racism among their followers and then were astonished that they lost the support of the electorate. They were stupid, in a word.
How can they recoup? Melissa Harris-Perry has said repeatedly on her program that we need a two party system for democracy to function. Obama has outsmarted the Republicans at every turn, and they are reacting like maddened bull elephants on stampede. But there are solutions, things they could do that would be of benefit to everyone.
First they need to redefine what they stand for. Traditionally, they have stood for family stability and continuity, upholding cultural values, widespread property ownership, small businesses, professionalism, social responsibility, public safety, just laws, and in general a civilized way of life. These are good things. Not exciting, to be sure, but necessary. Of course Democrats stand for these things, too and have been better of late in actually furthering these essential matters.
Unfortunately, today's Republican party has stopped caring about what happens to ordinary Americans. They have continued to think of themselves as the best people but have not been willing to broaden their class outlook and explain to the public what was good about their values. Instead, they welcomed in the goon squad in order to win elections but became hopelessly contaminated by association with their ideas. It was all over for them when they ran Sarah Palin with McCain. They tried again with that horse's neck Romney and his sidekick Ryan, but the public didn't buy it. So now the GOP lies in fragments.
If they stressed the aspects of good governance they were once known for they could win people back. Instead they alienate people with their attacks on unions, accessible health care, women's reproductive rights, gun control, and so on. Everything they seem to favor now pushes in the direction of instability instead of the stability they were once said to favor.
William Waldegrave's The Binding of Leviathan (1978) is one of the neglected classics of Conservative political thought. Waldegrave later served as a minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, but in the 1970's he recognised--as humanity as a whole will soon enough--the limits to growth and a future of scarcity. While Waldegrave defended private property, "as the best source of independent strength agaisnt the overexpansion of the state, and the surest source of stability in a community," he opted for co-operation over competition, and argued that "financial gain is the sole motivator of few in a sound society." Conservatives[ Waldegreve argues ] should evaluate policy by a far from Thatcherite criterion: "Does this policy tend to advance the chance of the citizen to live, work and play in the kind of communities which are necessry to civilised life?" Unlike the proponents of the turbo-capitalist perversion of Conservatism, Waldegrave displayed an acute psychological understanding of the basic loyalites necessary for social cohesion.
I haven't heard anything like that from Republicans for a long tme. Instead they have exploited all the worst aspects of American life: racism, militarism, patriotic chauvanism, religiousity, material greed, demonizing the poor: all the things that tear a society apart.
And here Kidd makes a really interesting point: "The environment was--or should be--the Conservative Party's 'natural territory.'" Couldn't conservatives get behind matters like population control, renewable energy, preservation of green spaces,etc. and make these their flagship issues? Redefining "conservative" to represent values of stability and continuity could do everyone a lot of good. Conserve, improve. I could get behind a program like that.
And local politics! The Nation Magazine discussion group on the Big Island has been ruined by paranoid Libertarians and strident single issue nuts, especially on the subject of legalizing pot. One of them actually said something like, "First they come for the pot smokers, then they come for the Methodists!" Honestly, how can I hang out with people like that?
Sport seems to be about female athletes showing as much flesh as possible. May the best cleavage win! I was watching the sports channel at the HiLife bar, which is our hangout in Seattle, and I thought it was so boring! It was formatted just like a news channel. But it's not news. And increasingly the news isn't news either, as the Daily Show clip illustrates.
Obviously, we have decided to go to hell in the new millenium. There is plenty of serious work going on, but it's unsung. All the trivia on the surface seems to be confusing people, to put it kindly.
All I see out the window is fog and gloom. So instead of posting a pic of that, I'm putting up these photos I took on our front porch just before we left Hilo.
I only have the full-service computer for a few minutes, but I want to say something about the current New Yorker. This was one of the ground-breaking issues they publish from time to time. The journalistic essay I will never forget is Jon Lee Anderson's Slumlord: What has Hugo Chavez wrought in Venezuela? Ever wondered what life in Hell would be like? Here is your answer. Turn the society over to gun-toting young men who don't mind murdering people, train them up in a dysfunctional prison system, have them find god and amass followings, and allow their values to become the prevailing ones. Let everyone else struggle and labor without remittance just to survive.
I know the mentality of these men, having worked in prisons. Drugs, girls, guns, fancy cars, plenty of money and a lot of lip service to god to lure in the gullible and cover up their crimes: that's what counts in their world.
Chavez started out trying to do something about the horrible situation, but it is too overwhelming. The people living in this hell don't even know about middle class values or how the rich live. Such things are completely off their radar. The moneyed classes simply have retreated into enclaves or left the country. The reporter takes one of these slumlords into a rich part of town. He has never been there and does not even know it exists! I would say the situation is hopeless.
A repairman is working on our leaking dishwasher, and my daughter and granddaughter are showing up in a few minutes, and Terry needs his computer back, so that's it for now.