No more room in the inn (and hospital)

We have a relative with multiple chronic issues who is now in great pain and cannot stand up on her own. She was sent to an urgent care clinic because the hospitals are full up. She is now waiting in line at the nearest hospital to get a MRI as they cannot figure out what was wrong after the Xrays at the urgent care clinic showed no breaks.

Yet, if she is admitted, they may not have any hospital beds. You see, the hospitals are overrun by COVID patients who the significant majority of which have been unvaccinated. Yesterday, I read two things of import to this issue. In my metropolitan city of about one million people, there were only 66 hospital beds available in all hospitals within 30 miles. That was in the morning.

I also read of the death of one of my favorite singers, Marvin Aday, better known as “Meat Loaf.” Meat Loaf died of COVID after being an antivaxxer. He famously said if it kills me, it kills me. It did. In the last five months, six avid antivaxxer radio hosts have lost their lives due to COVID. Contrarily, in the last month, three of my immediate family got COVID, including me, and we recovered in a few days as all three of us had received at least two vaccines, with me having the booster as well.

Like any vaccine and any dose of medicine, there are those who react negatively to it. Some react with mild symptoms, while others realize more severe symptoms including death for an unfortunate number. But, when you divide those more severe experiences (I was just sluggish and had arm pain and a headache after mine) by the billions of vaccines in the denominator, the percentage of severe reactions is quite small.

I understand that people are concerned, but there is a lot more data to alleviate those concerns now. Yet, what I don’t understand is those who have been sold a conspiracy theory is behind all of this or that your rights are being infringed on to be made to have a vaccine as a political tactic by an opportunistic politician (think names like DeSantis, Abbott, Paul, Trump) or opinion entertainer.

If these folks had a child that would be going to a public school or any university, they would have to provide a vaccination record to get in. If they did not have certain vaccines, they would have to remedy those gaps. The rules of admission are forcing you to get a vaccine for the greater good. Why? Because the average distance between students is much closer in proximity (three feet) than the folks in general society. Schools are ripe for the passing of a contagious disease.

But, back to the hospitals. I understand elective surgeries getting placed on hold to free up space, but when acute or severe medical needs beg for immediate treatment, to have to wait is life threatening. I talked to the daughter of this relative last night. She had some choice words for antivaxxers who were making her mother wait in the lobby of the MRI wing.

Folks, there is a greater good issue that we often forget to pair with freedom. Getting vaccinated has been shown to save lives. Hospital staff are being overrun and they are begging folks to get a vaccine for the COVID patients, other patients and staff’s sake. And, yet these anti-vaxxers would like to beat on their chest to win a political argument acting tough. One thing is for certain in my mind – as the end nears for the less unfortunate unvaccinated patients, my guess is they are ruing that stubborn decision.

Save money and energy

Our friend Amanda from Australia posted a recent piece called “Changing the Material World” (see link below) written by Megan Tennant on taking strides we can do to save the environment and help do a small part in fighting climate change. I recognize fully we must do far more, so these steps are not panaceas, nor should be they be considered as such. We need to advocate for so much more and tell folks to stop listening to folks who have a vested interest in getting you to use more fossil fuel powered energy or buy more wasteful product.

The purpose of this post is to simply say, if you take steps to save on energy consumption and lessen product waste, you can also save money. And, to be frank, saving money has been at the heart of some of the major initiatives to combat climate change as the cost of some renewables is on par or better than some fossil fuel energy sources. For example, Walmart, IKEA, Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. have all led the way with renewable energy sources as it was both good for the environment, but made their cost models look better.

Here are a few ideas, but I welcome more suggestions. These won’t solve the problem, but the additive impact will help some and get people more motivated.

  • Turn all chargers off at night for phones, laptops, – you will save on energy cost and defer product degradation with it being on at all times.
  • Turn the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer when asleep – it is easier in the winter to throw on an extra blanket, but harder in the summer, as many folks like a cool room to sleep in, but still pays dividends. It also helps to do this during the day.
  • Walk more, use more mass transit – these save on petrol and energy to charge electric cars and avoid the concern that most car accidents happen within one mile of your home, while helping with your health. Plus, grabbing one or two tote bags as you walk to the store limits your grocery purchases, which saves by itself.
  • Be zealous with eating leftovers – this will save a large chunk in your food budget and will reduce land fill methane. I will usually eat leftovers longer than my wife, but she will do her part, usually for one (or maybe two) extra meal.
  • Buy fewer plastic items and use filtered water pitchers – we have an ocean of plastic that rivals Texas and may eventually rival the size of Australia. Getting people to buy water may be one of the greatest marketing successes ever.
  • Buy ugly produce, as it will go to waste – there are some websites that promote less pristine looking food that got passed over. Ugly food is cheaper and if we can keep good food out of landfills it will reduce methane.
  • Be careful but many expiration dates are “best by” dates not “throw away” dates – this is easier said on non-perishables, but it is not uncommon for all of these dates to be set early for you to buy more product.
  • Eat less meat, as livestock eat carbon absorbing grass and produce methane – other foods are much cheaper, plus less meat will help you live healthier and longer if replaced with other proteins.
  • Use rain barrels, compost heaps, and gray water sources to repurpose waste. An increasing number of buildings are reusing rain fall to provide water inside.
  • Print fewer items and do two-sided printing – this will save money and carbon eating trees.

Please offer some of your ideas. None of the above is rocket science, but understand that some of these suggestions are an effort to run counter to companies wanting you to spend more. No matter the product, they have marketing and sales people whose jobs are to get you to buy more. Altruism is not universal, so we must guard our energy use and money. As my wife and I have told and still tell our now adult children, people want your money.

And, again, this does not replace advocating for a conversion to better energy sources to reduce carbon and methane emissions and greater planting of trees, nurturing of coastal mangroves, and production of kelp farms, et al, which are natural carbon eaters. We are past time to take greater action. If we don’t, we are creating a different future for our children, their children and ourselves.

When religious and other leaders are intolerant – a reprise post

I wrote this post almost ten years, so some of the references are dated, but the gist is still relevant in today’s headlines.

I have written several posts in the last few months around the subject of intolerance and exclusion in religion. The issues have tended to be around my support for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Like many Americans, I am religious, but not evangelical. I am less strident in my views and favor inclusion and treating all of your neighbors well. These are the greatest teachings of Jesus and the themes find their way into other religions, as well.

When religions are inclusive they do wondrous things for people. They lift the spirits of those who worship and send them off to do good deeds as stewards of this inclusive mission. When they are exclusive and intolerant, they can become about as bad a group of people as you can find. They are bad in that their piety and general kindness overshadow the intolerance that lies beneath the surface. Last night, my daughter and one of my sons joined my wife and me as we watched “The Help,” a movie that looks at how African-American maids were treated before the Civil Rights Act in the early 1960’s. There are many lessons therein, but the one that strikes me most is how presumably pious people can treat others the way they do and how people who have distaste for this treatment remain silent. These silent witnesses are how intolerance foments and grows into something more.

Living in North Carolina, I was not surprised, but discouraged by the recent vote to reiterate that the LGBTQ+ community cannot marry in this state. The equally troubling part of this Amendment One gives the license to deny civil unions in place for both gays and non-gays. The lone positive to be taken away is the Amendment was defeated in the larger Metropolitan areas (Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro) where centers of education are located. At the same time, I am very encouraged by the stance of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Education and NAACP on gay marriage in the future. I just wish the President had made his statement before the NC vote.

During the lead-up time before the NC vote and since that time in early May, let me reiterate some of the less tolerant things that have been reported, some in NC and some elsewhere. These trouble me as they are forewarning of how intolerance can manifest into something ugly. As citizens, we need to call out this intolerance. We can say you can choose to believe the way you do, but you cannot denigrate and step on the freedoms of others. For the Constitutionalists out there this is for what our Bill of Rights stands.

Here are a few lowlights of late from my perspective:

  • Reverend Franklin Graham besmirched the name of Billy Graham, his father, by demonizing the gays and lesbians and promoting intolerance. I realize Billy Graham is still alive, but I personally feel he has always been about inclusion and tolerance and if he were alert, he would not let Franklin do this. Franklin’s earlier stances against Muslims showed how intolerant he can be. When Graham says things like this, it detracts from the all the good his ministry does.
  • The day after Amendment One, a county commissioner in NC’s largest county requested the elimination of domestic partner benefits for the county employees. This was less than 24 hours after the vote. This commissioner has a public record of intolerance, so his personal stance is not unusual, but this is the kind of action that was feared by those who were against the Amendment as they saw similar examples in other states.
  • A minster in a less metropolitan, but not rural NC county advocated this past Sunday about putting homosexuals behind an electrified fence. This is fueling a fire and could be construed as abetting a future crime in my view and he should be called out on this.
  • In Mississippi, a commissioner and reverend posted on his website his belief that the only ruling on gays is Leviticus 20:13 which advocates the killing of both men who are gay sexual partners. When pressed, he said he does not advocate the killing of gays, but this occurred after the backlash he received. Some say if you ever want to create an Atheist, have them read the bible. In my view, the bible was written and re-written by a lot of imperfect men who sometimes placed their imperfections in the bible to interpret God’s word. I personally do not want to worship a God that people believe feels this way.
  • Finally, after the Amendment One vote, I was doing some prep work for a meeting in a hotel lobby. A nearby conversation between two lesbian women started as they lamented the passing of this discriminatory amendment. One asked the other if her mother was supportive of her efforts against this bill. She responded that her parents no longer speak with her due to her sexual preferences. This made me terribly sad as no parent should disown a child for who she loves. This is your child.

We must call out intolerance. We cannot remain silent when we see it. Otherwise, the intolerant ones will feel more emboldened. Whether it is the people above, the Koran burning minister in Florida or the family of bigots whose church pickets military funerals because it allows gays to serve, let these people know intolerance does not have a place. As Americans, we must support the right for people we disagree with to voice their beliefs. That is one of the tenets of our Bill of Rights. Yet, when their rights damage or infringe on the rights of others, that is when we must step up.

When leaders, religious and non-religious, are intolerant and exclusive, they will drive people away. Even the silent witnesses will eventually vote with their feet and leave. The Catholic Church is seeing that as their church is on the demise north of the equator. More and more Catholics are staying home due to its intolerant positions not to mention its hypocrisy in masking criminal pedophilia in its priests. Please remember, religious leaders are human just like the rest of us. They can be full of crap just like you and me. So, when they are, tell them just like you would tell one another. I think if you said, “Minister, I hear what you are saying, but I don’t think that way,” you will get your message across. If he does not get your message then you can make an informed choice to leave. There are many inclusive, tolerant ministers who would welcome you.

Silence abetted the denial of the civil rights of African-Americans for the longest time. Let’s not be silent on the denial of the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. Our children read history about the civil rights movement and ask how could people have tolerated that behavior? They see injustice and they know treating LGBTQ+ people differently is not right either. Let’s make our children proud and do the right thing. Don’t be silent.

Remember those teachers who impacted you so much

Teachers are feeling the brunt of the recent COVID surge. They want to teach but keep themselves, their familes and the kids safe. Yet, we owe so much to our teachers, especially those that changed our lives.

I am biased as my mother was a teacher. I saw how hard she worked grading papers into the night, offering constructive feedback and encouragement to each student. I have seen criticism of teachers when they are looking for pay increases around them not working a full year. But, when you add up their hours and compare them to those of the average year-around working person, they have nothing to be ashamed of in that category.

Please indulge me as I remember a few of my teachers – I will focus on Grades 1 – 12, as I can do an entire post of college professors..

  • I remember Ms. Shrout, the tiniest of high school teachers, exude passion as she taught us Algebra and Trigonometry. She had to stand on her toes to write long solutions from the top of the board. And, she was funny and made us laugh as she taught us so much.
  • I remember Ms. Bowden, who no one would ever accuse of being warm and fuzzy, show her big heart and big mind as she taught us Chemistry and Physics. She treated everyone so fairly and gave up so much of her time as a softball and basketball coach. Ironically, I first met her when I was nine as she was my swimming instructor at the community pool.
  • I remember Mr. Franks who taught us Civics in junior high school. He made learning fun about how society should work, that I would love to see him teach folks today who need it so much. He was as engaging and inviting of dialogue as any teacher I ever had before I got to college.
  • I remember Ms. Regan who taught us Literature in high school. She made reading the classics enjoyable, helping us get beneath the stories that sometimes got hidden in the fanciful prose and poetry. Our classes were enjoyable and engaging. She also gave of herself as a tennis coach.

I could mention more, but wanted to highlight a few. I noted a couple of these teachers also coached the kids after school. They would spend a lot of extra time to help others in so doing, but if I remember correctly got US$500 per annum in extra compensation for all those hours of work at practice and games.

Let me know about some of your favorite teachers and why. Each of the above had a different style, but each conducted classes that were interactive and engaging, which is what it is all about.

Movies and more movies

Since I have emerged from quarantine and am more than fine post-COVID infection, I wanted to share that I have been watching a number of movies. A large number. While the vaccines and booster kept the COVID wolves at bay, I still wanted to keep in “my hole” as I called it, until time passed and my wife and other son got their boosters.

So, between reading, puzzles and exercise, I watched a lot of movies. Here are a few that I found of interest. I will tell you some of these got low scores on Rotten Tomatoes, but were still a nice investment of time. I only turned away from a couple that I will not mention. If I watched again with my wife, I will note her reaction as well.

Since the number is large, I will just mention the movies with a brief blurb. In no particular order:

  • Queen of the Morning Calm (2019) – I had to watch this one because of the cool title. Tina Jung stars as a sex worker with a nine-year old daughter trying to make a better life for her family, in spite of an unreliable boyfriend. I did not recognize any of the cast, but my wife and I both enjoyed it.
  • The Last Right (2019) – Starring Michiel Huisman, Niamh Algar and Samuel Bottomley, the movie is about three people on a quest to take a man’s deceased body across Ireland to be buried with his brother who had died the week before. The interaction between the three and the underlying context makes this an enjoyable film we both liked. “Right” is spelled that way for a reason – doing something right.
  • Feast of Love (2007) – Starring a large cast with Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Jane Alexander, Rahda Mitchell, Billy Burke, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway et al, this movie takes us through a range of emotions of love gained and lost. If watching with minors, beware of some surprising erotic scenes for such a known cast. Yet, the movie is good and we both enjoyed it.
  • Reindeer Games (2000) – Starring Ben Afleck, Charlize Theron, and Gary Sinise, the movie is about a group of truckers taking advantage of a released prisoner who had become a romantic pen pal with Theron’s character. The goal was to use his knowledge to rob a casino on Christmas Eve. It had a little more violence than my wife liked, but the story was interesting.
  • Downeast (2021) – Starring Greg Finley and Dylan Silver with a largely unknown cast, the story takes place in a harbor town on the coast of Maine. Finley and Silver are former lovers and she has returned to town to find out what happened to her deceased brother, Finley’s friend. The story is good, but the violence is prevalent, so my wife would only watch this one as we have relatives up there.
  • Defining Moments (2021) – this is a less acclaimed movie, but is still charming as Burt Reynolds leads an ensemble cast in his final movie. It also stars Sienna Guillory, Tammy Blanchard, Eric Peterson (who steals the film), Shawn Roberts, Kelly Van der Burg, Polly Shannon, Lara Jean Chorastecki, Christian McKenna, Graham Greene, et al. Reynolds’ character is dying which is why the added poignancy, but the movie involves the others’ stories as much as Reynolds’ character. Have some tissue handy.
  • The Station Agent (2003) – if you are in for quirky and poignant, this movie is for you. Peter Dinklage stars in this well before “Game of Thrones,” as a man who inherited a vacant train station manager’s house from his friend. It also stars Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, and Michelle Williams. The movie is about an unexpected friendship between Dinklage, Clarkson and Cannavale after Dinklage moves in. Dinklage does an excellent job at revealing why a person of small stature is untrusting of people and the difficulty for sincere friends trying to break through that protective shell. Cannavale’s character offers this genuine innocence as he will not stop trying to be Dinklage’s friend. We both liked it, but thought it was a little bizarre.

I was planning on including “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show,” but mentioned them last week after Peter Bogdanovich’s death. Both of these movies received acclaim and are worth the watch. Another couple of more violent movies that are good are “Safe House” with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds and “Crisis” with Armie Hammer, Gary Odman, Evangeline Lilly and Greg Kinnear.

Tell me if you have seen these or about any other movies that caught your fancy.

A second Saturday in 2022 – a plethora of potpourri to ponder

Since I woke up to a plethora of thoughts and news nuggets, let me offer a potpourri of topics to ponder. In no particular order:

  • This headline says it all – “Ahmaud Arbery’s killers get life sentences; no possibility of parole for Travis and Gregory McMichael.” A black man should not fear for his life when he is out jogging. Given we are almost sixty years removed from the passing of the Civil Rights Act, it would be my hope that stuff like what happened to Ahmaud Arbery and countless others should not be happening anymore. We have made progress, but we seem to have backslid some.
  • The world lost one of its finest actors in Sidney Poitier yesterday. Several outstanding movies include: “To Sir with Love,” “The Defiant Ones,” “Guess who’s coming to Dinner,” and “In the Heat of the Night” to name only a few. “To Sir with Love” ranks on a short list of the best teacher movies. Seeing Poitier in the final scene tear up his offer letter to go teach elsewhere is poignant. Also, to see him and Rod Steiger in the last film is powerful as they showed what institutionalized bigotry looks like. He won an Oscar for the movie “The Lilies in the Field,” but I think each of his roles in the above films were more impactful.
  • In the midst of all the year-end deaths, the world lost a peacemaker and humanitarian in Desmond Tutu. Along with Nelson Mandela, Tutu helped bring attention to the rights of the disenfranchised during Apartheid. God bless the peacemakers. Seeing Tutu interviewed always brought a smile to my face as he seemed to ooze joy and kindness. Here is one of many wonderful quotes of Tutu’s along those lines: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
  • Reading Tutu’s quotes and knowing what he has overcome, I encourage folks to find ways to look past differences and find some commonality. There is far more good in our world than people realize as the bad news makes the headlines – “if it bleeds, it leads.” This may be one reason Tutu’s passing went by too unnoticed. Look beneath the headlines and find the good in people. We should celebrate those peacemakers, the truth tellers, the kind spirits that exist in our world. They usually don’t beat on their chests with false bravado, so sometimes you have to look harder.

Have a wonderful 2022. Be safe. Be wise. Be kind. Be civil.

Peter Bogdanovich in three movies (may he RIP)

The acclaimed movie director Peter Bogdanovich passed away yesterday at the age of 82. He directed several excellent films, but let me highlight three to give people a look into his work. Ironically, I watched two of his older films, “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show” in the last few days, so I wonder if someone new the end was near and aired them..

Yet, the one I like the most he made in 1985 with Cher as a caring but tough mother in “Mask.” “Mask” starred Eric Stolz as a young teen whose facial bones grew in a distorted manner causing acute, tremendous pain and leaving him with a mask-like look. His mother would help him meditate through the pain to avoid giving him debilitating pain medicine. In my view, this movie was Cher’s best work, even better than in “Moonstruck,” where she won an Oscar.

The first scene in which you realize she is comforting her in-pain son is extremely poignant. Sam Elliot stars as Cher’s biker boyfriend. In spite of the pain and scary countenance, the teen was very smart and congenial, making fun of himself before others would. And, unless you saw the credits, you would never know the lead is played by Stolz, who is excellent, as well.

“The Last Picture Show” usually gets the most fanfare. Based on Larry McMurtry’s book and his co-written screen play with Bogdanovich, it is a black and white movie about small town life in Anarene, Texas in 1953. Cybil Shephard (in her first role), Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Sam Bottoms and Randy Quaid are the high schoolers featured, but a great cast of adults play key roles with Cloris Leachman (who won an Oscar for Supporting Actress), Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Ben Johnson and Clu Gulager.

Teen and adult angst are the key themes portrayed showing people will look for love even when they appear to have someone who fills the role. Interestingly, the only overtly protagonist is the silent role played by Sam Bottoms and maybe the sage like role of Ben Johnson, with all of the other characters being various shades of gray revealing our imperfections. Yet, you do feel for many of them at times, even though they do things you may not care for. Leachman’s Oscar is very deserving as she plays a dramatic role very different from her comedic future ones.

“Paper Moon” is another black and white film about a depression era con man played by Ryan O’Neal who travels Kansas and Missouri with his daughter. His actual daughter, Tatum O’Neal steals the show in the role and wins a deserved Oscar for her first performance. Madeline Kahn also plays a key role as the father’s new girlfriend and threat to the welfare of the younger O’Neal.

The lessons of making money through cons are passed down to the daughter, who he is traveling with to take her to stay with her aunt after her mother passes. She turns out to be an even savvier business-person than her father, knowing when to push on the accelerator or hit the brakes. She could also give an up-to-date accounting of the money her father owed her.

I wonder if the adult actor realized he was the straight man for this rising star. He does a great job in the role, but your eyes are on her facial expressions most of the time, as she is frustrated and bewildered by her father. Bogdanovich would later team with Ryan O’Neal in “What’s up Doc? with Barbra Streisand.

All three are excellent movies. “The Last Picture Show” though had an extra hurdle to overcome when it was given an X rating. It included a skinny dipping scene where some full frontal nudity is visible for a few females. To me, the scene was unneeded the way it was shot and much could have been accomplished with more subtlety. I forewarn you in case there are younger eyes in the room. Nonetheless, the story is good and worth the effort, as are the other two.

That COVID thing bit us, but we are all OK

The end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 has been made interesting by our little COVID friend. I mentioned how my oldest son was exposed to a person with COVID two days before Christmas, who frustratingly told him they (I am not certain of the gender) had it after handing him a cup of coffee. While he initially tested negative, he later tested positive. As he was feeling fine between the two results, against my better judgment, he joined us for Christmas Eve dinner and present opening while my daughter was here.

On Christmas day, he let us know he was starting to feel poorly, so he stayed home. While he had his first two vaccines as have other members of my family, he had not had the booster yet. My sister, who lives close by, and I had the booster as well. She joined us for Christmas day and was here when we found out he was getting sick.

My wife, other son and sister tested negative and are feeling fine. My daughter and I tested positive. The good news is all three of us are feeling better and COVID is hopefully in our rearview mirror, although I am still quarantining to avoid infecting others in and out of the house. The vaccines and booster helped us stave off the worst effects, plus we did read the Omicron variant is less severe, even though it is more easily spread.

The symptoms varied a little for the three of us. My throat was sore and I did have a little chest congestion, but mostly because of head congestion draining. I took Acetaminophen and Mucinex (I did speak with a nurse) and drank lots of water and rested. Even though I was little more tired, I was able to continue light exercise which helped with being stir crazy. I started feeling better about two days after being tested positive and a week after exposure. Now, I am taking the occasional Acetaminophen, but stopped the Mucinex after two days as I hate the way it makes me feel. (note some Mucinex has Acetaminophen in it, so don’t overdose).

My son was feverish, had some chest congestion and a sore throat. He did take some Mucinex, but focused on the Acetaminophen. My daughter was feverish, had head congestion, and sore throat as well. She did the same treatment. And, they both are on the upside of the equation now and are feeling fine.

My other son who tested negative postponed his booster for about a week so as not to infect others, just in case. He and my wife avoided any of the symptoms and felt fine throughout. He got the booster last night. My wife is getting her booster on Friday.

I again encourage folks to get vaccinated and/ or get the booster when and if due. I saw an ER doctor in an interview who said we are only seeing patients come in with COVID who were not vaccinated. That is telling. And, I shared earlier my frustration with an acquaintance of my oldest son’s who went into work sick and only told him after an interaction. We must take care of ourselves and each other to keep this thing from taking more than 800,000 Americans and 5.4 million people around the world it has.

Best wishes to all for the New Year and be safe.

A little bit of this and that for 2022

Happy New Year everyone. May your resolutions last longer than your hangover. I have celebrated New Year’s in a number of ways, but this old soul is less inclined to stay up until midnight these days. Living on the east coast of the US, we have resorted to celebrating the New Year’s on Greewich time, so we are done early.

I learned yesterday the legendary actress Betty White left us just shy of her 100th birthday. She has always been a character and has played many different types of roles over the years. She played nice girl roles for the longest time, so when she played the back-stabbing Sue Ann Niven in the 1970s on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” it was a shock. Yet, she went onto many other roles in the 1980s and 1990s on the “Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland.”. And, she was a terrific humanitarian and friend to animals. May she RIP.

Going in to 2022 and its insane campaign season which started about eleven months ago, we must try to regain some level of civil discourse in our society. Since changing politicians and opinion entertainers seems nigh impossible. we will have to make this a ground up change and force them to notice.

Here a few rules of the road that might help:

-if someone speaks or writes with name calling, labelling and cursing as their modus operandi, do what I often do and stop reading and do not respond. If this is the how the person wishes to argue, then his or her argument is poor.

-cease watching opinion entertainers who are dressed-up spin-doctors at best and disinformation peddlers at worst. Some do their homework more than others, but you are being told an opinion, often times not a well-supported one.

-if you are getting your news from someone on social media who you like because you agree with them, please do not consider that news and refer to the first two items above.

-if you are getting your news from a politician, check other sources; some have more veritas than others, but too many are just spouting BS without doing much homework. I used to think elected officials knew more than we do (and some did), but I stopped thinking that long ago. They also expect us to have short memories.

-you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Ask more questions of people and listen to their answers. Listen to understand, not to respond. Only then can you follow-up with comments, but make sure you give like you want to get. Calling a person an idiot is not a good sales pitch.

-be civil to each other. Sometimes the best thing to say, is not to say it. Look for common ground, by doing that listening thing noted above. You may disagree on five points, but agree on two. That is a start.

One final thought to drum in your head. An old friend used to say “you can never have enough cups of coffee with people.” Engage. Converse. Catch-up. And, thank the other person for their time and interest. Time and interest are the best gifts someone can give you.

Be safe in 2022. Be well and be wise.

A Monday morning after Christmas

Since I rise early, after feeding the dog and letting him outside, I can settle down with a cup of coffee and shadowy morning serenity to catch up on posts and post the words for a new day. While Christmas was enjoyable to a small degree, we have continuing concern after my oldest son came in contact with an “unannounced” COVID infected person. He is feeling poorly (although he said the Mucinex is helping with congestion),but did test negative on a less than accurate test. He is awaiting the more detailed test results, which have been held up by the holidays and will likely test again later in the week.

Fortunately, he has had the first two vaccines, yet is scheduled to have the booster. He was bummed he did not get to be here live for all of the festivities, but we delivered his presents and some homemade chicken soup. He was also disappointed someone he knew did not tell him he or she was infected, until after handing him a cup of coffee and being close by. Since he has been so diligent with his precautions, this less than altruistic attitude of an acquaintance was particularly “disappointing” to him. It is like someone breeched his trust.

Disappointing is the word that comes to mind for my wife and me. While I applaud those who have gotten vaccines and take the COVID seriously with the steps they take, I am disappointed that others are not so community minded. While I understand legitimate concerns about the pace of the vaccines roll out, I tend to find arguments about vaccines being an infringement of freedoms lacking in veracity. And, for those who are avoiding the vaccines because some talk show host or elected official made this political, I strongly disagree with that rationale.

I was watching “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” last night where their year-end show recaps the year’s stories. One reporter made the comment about the falderol over certain athletes who have lied about taking the vaccines, but noted the professional leagues tend to have very high vaccination rates – the WNBA has a 96% rate, while the NBA has a 92% rate. The reporter noted too much fuss is placed over the named players who have not, but we lose sight of the low vaccine rates in the New York City police force (she cited 32%) as an example, which should give us greater pause.

I share our vaccine stories with others and try to be encouraging. Yet, when people are cavalier about the responsibility that comes with freedom, it gives me pause. And, if my son does have COVID because of such, it adds fuel to my disappointment in those who do not take this seriously. If I offended you, then I am sorry, but that is the way my wife and I feel. Please get the vaccines and/ or booster shots. It helps you, your family, your friends and others you come in contact with.