Well, That Was A Surprise

You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.

~150 words

~400 followers

It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.

Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.

True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.

Frustration.

Location.

I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.

But then I also got texts.

Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.

FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.

But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.

It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.

Yup. Still dumb.

Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.

C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.

Take it from Antoine.

I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.

What do we expect, though?

I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:

People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”

It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.

I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.

Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.

I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.

Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.

Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.

I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.

I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.

She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.

I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.

At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.

School is government funded daycare.

Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.

United in denial, by the way.

Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.

We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.

That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.

How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.

Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?

I think there is an absolute difference.

Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.

Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.

Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.

Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…

Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.

Money.

I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.

First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.

I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.

In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.

But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.

So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.

Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.

Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.

When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.

After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.

That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.

That a few people actually read what I have created.

Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!

And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.

Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like

I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.

…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.

As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.

*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.

Well, That Was A Surprise

Iā€™m In Literacy Hell

I’m aware on a daily basis that education has taken a nosedive in America.

And not “education” strictly in the school system manner. I know there are issues there, certainly. What I’m referring to is the responsibility of the individual to refresh their knowledge to ensure their intelligence continues to grow as they make their way in the world, lest we end up becoming Stupider Americans…

My daily reminders are things like the there/their/they’re and your/you’re headaches.

But today…today has been extra.

It started with a friend’s Facebook status:

I don’t run away when theirs a challenge.

Fine.

Pretty run of the mill.

Well, I mean, it’s kind of a double-whammy. He missed the contraction in his misuse of there’s.

But then this guy I’ve been chatting with sends me a text about a conflict he’s having with his boss:

I don’t think there’s a way I could ethnically do that.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Obviously, I can’t see him any longer…

Iā€™m In Literacy Hell

Your Mental Health Posts…

To quote the prophet, Shania Twain?

Don’t impress me much.

And that’s coming from a recreational hypochondriac. Any given day of the week, I can probably self-(mis)diagnose the minorest of maladies.

But I do it on a lark and for my own entertainment…not sympathy.

Last Sunday, the Silver Fox and I went exploring up in Forest Park, Portland’s lush and gorgeous urban forest in the West Hills. There’s something like 40 miles of hiking trails there that will make you forget you’re in a city. We had wanted to see a new pedestrian bridge the city installed to keep Stupid Americans from running across one of Portland’s busiest streets – that is nothing but cars careening around blind curves at that point – to get from the Forest Park trails to the Washington Park trails.

Oh, we’ve got trails here, I tell ya.

Well, short story long, I twisted my knee. I self-diagnosed with a sprain. The next day, as I hobbled up the stairs into work, my colleague pointed out that I may have torn my ACL and then goes into my bleak prospects for a normal life.

Damn it! He’s probably right…

So I prepared myself for the inevitable amputation.

I’m walking fine, now…for the record. But don’t let that stop you from sending get well cash – er…cards.

Like I said, though, my self-diagnosing is purely recreational.

Turning to social media, though?

There’s dipshits that should be running an asylum running amok in social media instead, self-diagnosing with anxiety and depression.

This pisses me off.

First, there are people really suffering from these mental health issues.

Second, being too lazy or hungover to get ready to go somewhere and meet friends or go to work isn’t anxiety, it’s…well…laziness.

Not that some of these people may not have a legitimate claim – regardless of who diagnosed it. But what are they doing about it?

Seeking treatment? šŸ‘šŸ½

Seeking sympathy on Facebook? šŸ‘ŽšŸ½

Show.

Me.

The.

Rx.

Seriously, if you need help…get it. I’m all for it! I’ve been to therapy many times in my life and it’s extremely beneficial. I also know that because of the stigma of weakness around mental health, the people who get help are the bravest of folk.

We need to talk about mental health to remove that stigma from getting mental help so that it becomes a healthy norm…like going to the gym. Now that I mention it, if the people incessantly going to the gym got treated for their narcissism and body issues (I can “self”-diagnose others, too), the world would probably be a much better place because people around them wouldn’t be so anxious or depressed.

Hmmm.

But I digress, it’s one thing to be anxious. That does not mean you have anxiety.

Just like if I go to the gym once, I don’t have abs.

Likewise, just because you find yourself depressed does not equate to having depression.

Kind of how when someone takes a good selfie and posts it to Instagram, they aren’t a model.

Anyone need a moment after that gut punch?

Good.

When you cavalierly mis-use those terms, you do a disservice to those legitimately suffering their way to mental health. You’re not raising awareness, you’re trivializing someone else’s pain.

Knock it off.

Your Mental Health Posts…

Take A Seat, Karen

We all know a Karen.

Or Susan…or whomever.

She’s the gal who says about herself,

I’m 100% that bitch

And everyone who knows her suffers silently while thinking, “We know, we know!”

She can be anyone from this nightmare type

To this angry racist

All the way to this vacuous type

Really, Buzzfeed, should I be following someone whose life goal seems to be getting shirtless selfies in as many different countries – undoubtedly on someone else’s dime – as possible? That will somehow enhance my life in ways I simply cannot comprehend?

As you can see, there’s a rather wide range, like the head that holds her hairstyle or the pew that supports her rear or the wallet that supports his heels.

The common denominator?

They know everything that’s hot in pop culture, fashionable, the best exercise classes, the best restaurants or other micro-minutae. Nothing real substantive coming out of their iced or pumpkin spiced coffee holes, unfortunately.

Essentially, they’re nothing more than poseurs, following in the too prevalent basic lemming-slash-bitch mentality of today: elevating teenaged performers to icon status based on a lyric from a pop song.

What the hell is wrong with our country?!?

I mean, Taylor Swift was praised last year – or possibly the year before – for finally speaking out against gun violence. She was heralded as a savior for “using her social media for good”.

She’s 29.

Now, long time readers will know my thoughts on Social Media Influencers. But I’ll give Swifty a pass for speaking out. She does have the following to reach a large audience, so good for her.

But when it comes to the vapid followers who got behind the message?

It was the same thing left leaning politicians have been saying since the history of mass shootings began in this country. Thanks for finally getting the memo.

A friend of mine, @Britebarb on the Twitter, once said,

You aren’t entitled to your opinion, but you are entitled to your informed opinion.

I probably butchered the exact quote, but you get the point. When our opinions are informed by pop culture instead of actual news, facts and self-education…well, you’re not a Karen or a Susan.

You’re a Molly.

Lets don’t be Molly, shall we?

This actually brings me to my larger point.

Those Susan and Karen types? What do you think they do to our culture?

It used to be cute that Karen would have a hostess fired for seating her by the kitchen. Today, Karen is having hostesses fired for not seating her party of 14 fast enough while parties of two and four that came in after her were seated first.

It was tolerable for one person to have a racist anachronistic opinion. They were your aged grandparent who was written off as “being from another time”. Then some charismatic someone pooled that grandparent’s money together with a bunch of other racist grandparents and build a megachurch.

Put our glamorous and hunky gay Instagram traveler at a drive-thru window – not the one he sits on, an actual drive-thru – and see how he does. We used to take basic service industry jobs and make the fabulous most of our minimum wages. Now, we complain about a free trip to Coachella instead of questioning the politics of the promoters…ignoring politics we could never support because the line up is lit.

Molly, you should be calling out the performers for working for that promoter, not instagramming your free trip.

It’s not all bad. This past week, Stephen Ross hosted a lunch for Trump.

There was glitter fallout.

Ross is the CEO for the parent company of Equinox Gym and Soul Cycle. These are $100/month plus gyms heavily trafficked by the gays and the Karens of the country. Sorry, Susan…you’re praying away the body issues.

But we’ve been here before.

Chick-fil-a.

Barilla pasta.

I’ll come up with some others later.

Maybe.

But those two kind of make my point: we don’t remember.

It kind of relegates our ire to the level of the so-called Million Moms. I think they struggled to sustain a roster of thousands of moms.

Why?

Thumping bibles is hard, for one, ok?

But also, do you think a million moms want to piss off the gay that cuts their hair and end up with a Karen haircut? Or worse, piss off their personal trainer and end up with a Susan ass?

We people…not so consistent. Setting aside the extremes on either end of the blue or red political spectrum, I think the grey area in between needs to take over. Regardless of which way you lean – left or right – the middle has the numbers to do what’s right.

Stephen Ross and Trump and the Chick-fil-a folks – ironically, the family surname is Cathy – don’t care about our boycotts.

Hear that?

It’s them laughing all the way to the bank, either way.

Making money? Great! Put it in the bank!

Losing money? Great! Write it off on our taxes or short our own stock!

Our protests hurt the people in the front lines. The mother of three working two part time jobs and asking if we want Waffle Fries with our chicken sandwich.

Of course we do! But we want the Secret Waffle Fries that our Equinox trainer won’t find out about!

And those trainers who lose income because their spin classes are empty? Another of the real victims of our righteous ire.

Why?

Because we don’t hold our politicians accountable to holding our best interests and not their own.

Why don’t we have gun control or reform in this country? Because Tay-Tay isn’t in Congress.

Conversely, why do we have Trump as president? Because he had the best soundbites.

Tax cuts!

Crooked Hillary!

But her emails!

And because we’re largely entitled when it comes to our opinions, we ran right off the cliff at the ballot box without ever informing ourselves about our opinion.

A couple years back, I wrote about what one of my employees told me after proudly stating that he and his wife voted on behalf of their family of five for Trump.

After my eyes rolled 360 degrees in their respective sockets, that is.

The shorthand is the tax cuts and that they didn’t trust Hillary.

We think we’ll be better off with Trump in office.

“Financially?”

Well, yeah…

That last part was delivered like he worried that I didn’t understand that nothing more mattered than their bottom line.

For my part, I think I showed a lot of restraint.

You know you work in Portland, right?

“Yeah…”

And your job pays more than minimum wage – which in Oregon is 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, right?

“Well, I mean, I know I make more than minimum wage, but it’s not enough.”

Setting aside my recollection of the conversation we had where he volunteered that he had preemptively had his four upper front teeth removed because it was somehow easier, I went on,

You do know that republicans opposed the minimum wage bill in Oregon, right?

“Not really, I don’t pay much attention to politics.”

Well, then you frankly shouldn’t vote.

“But every vote counts and it’s my right!”

Stupid Americans.

Being ignorant

I didn’t say “retarded” because people get mad at me.

isn’t a right, it’s a handicap. Liberals provided the higher than average minimum wage that you’re making $1 more than per hour. If you’re going to vote, maybe support the people that support you. Have a little friggin’ loyalty! If you want to support the people who stand on your backs to get what they have, is like my $5 an hour back.

That last part went whizzing right over his head. Basically, he’s in a place where he’s making $200 more per week than people doing the same work outside of Oregon. And this basic Karen votes against the people who gave it to him.

As his employer, forced to pay for it – but happily doing so – if he doesn’t appreciate it, I want it back.

Idiots.

Plus, he wasn’t that great of an employee. More a “Needs Improvement” versus a “Meets Expectations” because his opportunities weren’t a matter of not knowing the job expectations or not having the tools to succeed.

He delivered the minimum effort he could get away with. Absent was the mentality to do a good job. His goal was a factor of doing only as much as he had to do to be considered “good enough”.

And he got away with it…because the management – my boss – was kind of the same. But much better paid.

This…this is the fallout from our Karen and Susan attitude. People who act in their own interest versus in the interest of the greater good. Doing what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right!

We seem to take more of a WIIFM approach to doing what’s right. Failing a personal net positive in the What’s In It For Me test, we do what’s easier versus what’s right.

As far as what’s in it for me goes? I try to come out on right versus easier as often as possible. Of course, when that means leaving a job that paid alright versus tacitly condoning the poor management ethics, it’s downright hard to do.

On the flip side, I hold others to the same standard. On that front, let me explain the title of this post:

Take A Seat, Karen

You wanna talk to the manager and get a waiter fired for a perceived slight?

Hold. My. Beer.

I had an entire company fired.

I don’t mess around. For me, right and wrong isn’t about getting what I want – in life, at the ballot box or what-have-you.

Saying that my issues with my property management company started last year while I was on vacation is only partially true.

Sure, my building unexpectedly pulled the key core from the building’s front door.

Yeah, this meant my pet sitter – aka: the Silver Fox – couldn’t get in to feed Myrtle since I only had one fob and he used a door key to get into the building.

My relationship with the management company warped into a wormhole when I reached out for help in the situation.

Expectation: something along the lines of “Oh no! Have your pet sitter swing by the office and he can use our fob until you get back!” Y’know…something to help proactively resolve the immediate issue with maybe a little appropriate empathy.

Reality: they (mis)quoted my lease to me. “As per your lease, you were given one key to your unit and one door fob. If you want additional fobs, you’ll need to buy them.”

Meanwhile, my cat isn’t being fed.

In reality, while I was trying to tone down the shriek-level in my response, it occurred to me that this wasn’t where my problem began with them, this was where their poor performance became intolerable.

My problem with their performance began a month before I moved in. I had failed to negotiate a lower rent in my old unit by speaking logic to my unit’s owner. The unit next door was the same size and renting for $300 less a month, she offered a $50 rent reduction.

I moved.

But for the three weeks while that conversation was happening, the smoke detector was giving off a replace battery beep in the empty unit. I actually arranged a tour of the unit initially only to tell them to replace the battery.

The agent apologetically agreed to get it taken care of.

Then…nothing happened.

This was when my problem with their performance began. But weighing the issues – a bad battery or $250/month – I moved anyway.

That’s the grey area I mentioned earlier. Both unit’s owner/management failed, casting the larger issue in grey. I chose the least wrong, which also happened to financially benefit me. A grey lose-win-win.

I can solve the battery issue by putting in a new battery and disconnecting the unit when that doesn’t fix it.

The starving cat issue was harder to solve and just a much larger issue overall. But I – and The Fox and the HOA prez, Joe – solves it outside of the property management company’s ineffective performance.

And the lease they quoted? It actually said a key to the unit and a mailbox key. Nothing about fobs. Thank god I had a front door key for the building, a copy I made of the key my old landlady gave me. Additionally, I’d never gotten the mailbox key because the owner had accidentally taken it home to Seattle with him. Just like the battery, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I use a PO Box.

But three months later, when they tried to raise my rent $100/month, I asked the question,

What have you done to support the rent increase?

Sure, it was the owner’s idea but they were his agent. It was their service that I was weighing against the rent increase ask that the market would simply not support.

Their performance came up short and I refused the increase, offering to move instead and pointing out that my old unit next door had been vacant for the entire time I lived here. They acquiesced, with a “We recommended no increase to the owner, but he insisted” reply.

Oh, okay…

Not sure how I’m a saner voice to the owner than the management company he employs…but, suuuuure.

All this came to a head in July when I paid rent through their portal.

Just like normal.

I paid on the 29th of June with a checking account draft. I learned the hard way that using my debit card versus a draft resulted in a $45 “convenience fee“…because it’s 1990 in their IT department.

BTW, their response to that complaint was

Perfectly acceptable and professional response, right?

A few days later I paid the rest of my bills via bill pay and debit card, noticing that the rent draft still hadn’t cleared.

The next business day, my usual monthly bills all cleared, but still not my rent.

Unpleasantly, the next business day a charge from Kelly’s for a couple of beers also cleared, leaving me $6 short on my rent. Damn their credit card processing company!

In a fit of “this could only happen to me” ness, my bank rejected to rent draft when it finally poked its head out of its technology shell.

This began a two week cascade of “I’ve had it with you people” ness for me as I tried to resolve the unfathomable “why would you not cover me for 6-fucking-dollars” issue with my bank and the head-scratchingly larger issue with my management company.

For whatever reason, this prompted them to audit my ledger and add in a $75 late fee for April’s rent – when I paid on the 5th of the month because I was waiting in checks to clear.

This was on top of the $75 late fee and $50 NSF fee my returned check was costing me for the current month.

I didn’t have an extra $225.

Just. Didn’t.

That’s not my lifestyle these days – and may never be again. I’m kind of ok with that compared to working for a company with a double standard. I don’t love it, but by god…it’s ethically right.

One of the other handicaps this so-called-management company’s online portal suffered from was an ability to make partial payments. Given my newer more meager financial situation, I wanted to make biweekly payments of half my rent.

Can’t.

Fine, I lived a year being super-financially-disciplined (for me) and was only late once.

I rallied.

But in July, I hit a wall. After talking to my bank, getting their overdraft fee refunded, cleaning out my – and The Fox’s – recycling closet and cashing in my coffee can of change, I had the extra $150 fees my July rent required.

I didn’t have the April “Oops, we suck at our jobs” $75. And…no partial payments, so I couldn’t pay rent.

Could I have asked The Fox or my family or just about anyone I’ve ever me to front me $75?

Fuck yeah.

But I didn’t because it was wrong – in my opinion – for them to randomly choose this moment to audit my ledger. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily piling on in a bad situation.

It.

Made.

Me.

Angry.

Y’know, one of those pesky righteous angers that causes you to quit good jobs versus the kind that makes you fight traffic tickets when you were, in fact, speeding.

I emailed the owner.

He’d asked me in an email – after a five week process to get my AC repaired during the first heatwave of the Summer – how everything was going.

Well, my best friend let in the AC repair guy – since having to schedule ten days out resulted in them being able to do the work on a day I had to work – in for me, went home and decided to get his own AC checked out. Called a different company and was offered an appointment the next damn day, got his unit checked out and the part ordered for some preventative repairs and delivered and installed before my five week ordeal was resolved through your management company…

Seemed like an out of line response, so I let it lie and said nothing.

Like I was raised to do!

But after two weeks trying to give this company money, it was time.

And I fucking went to the mattresses.

Maybe it was a little personal. Dealing with my shelter and my money, after all. Seems kind of personal.

To the management company, it was “just business”, but because they all appear to employ the same ethics as my Trump supporting former employee…they were happy to do as little as possible to earn their money.

So I asked to speak to the manager. You want to know how I started my email to the owner?

You need to fire this management company.

Flat out. No preamble, right to the mattresses.

Then I made my case.

He got involved, told them to waive everything, I paid my rent and seethed on…dreading my next encounter with these people.

On August 2nd – two weeks later – the owner sent me an email telling me he’d put them on notice that he was taking over on September 1st. True to form, three days later, the management company sent me a letter saying as much.

I thought about replying to them. Especially given that they’d provided zero context for the change in their message.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving and less competent group of bastards!

That seemed like gloating. Plus, as vocal as I was about their shortcomings in each of my encounters with them, I would imagine they expected that from me.

So I withheld. My internal grumpy old man just sat back, breathes a stress-free sigh of relief and thought

How bout dat, indeed, Karen?

Take A Seat, Karen

Can Evolution Go Backward?

That’s a thought that’s been on my mind lately.

The impetus for that little question? The appearance on the streets of Portland of the “next” generation of e-scooters…and evolution, so to speak.

Yup. It’s like an e-scooter and a bike had a baby.

A hybrid for people who are too lazy to pedal a bike and/or too lazy to stand up.

For fuck sake, humanity.

At some point, someone on a design team had to say, “This is a pretty lame idea”. But they forged onward with production. Probably the argument for was something along the lines of, “But we can make a buck”…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the few that isn’t outraged by e-scooters whizzing through the streets of my hometown. Whizzing down sidewalks and through our parks is a little aggravating, sure. But I’ve adopted a respectfully proactive approach to that frustration. When I can, I say in as neutral tone as possible, “That’s – sub out that pronoun with park or sidewalk as appropriate – not allowed”.

People are surprisingly ok with that tactic. I’ve only had one person yell at me and try to give chase. He broke off after turning his scooter around. It’s not that I outpaced him with my lanky gait, I think he just saw plenty of witnesses and thought better. Good for him.

But that takes me to my second inspiration for this devolution post. This text exchange from yesterday between my mom and me:

There was not one, not two, but three separate protest marches in the streets of downtown yesterday. And I was working right in the middle of them.

Police in heavy duty troop transport vehicles driving by the front of my store.

Cops in tactical riot gear stopping in for a soda or snack while they waited for the potential melee.

Awkward moments of me staring at a customer’s tattoos or tee shirt trying to figure out if they were aligned with any particular group while the police PA blasted out an eerily Big Brother-esque warning to disband the un-permited and therefore illegal march.

Proud Boys.

AntiFa.

And a new group – at least to me – called #HimToo.

If pressed, I’d bet that last group wasn’t a legitimately harassed or assaulted group of men. I’d go one step further and posit there was a barely discernible Venn Diagram of that group’s members and those folks who’ve spent the last four weeks wonder why they couldn’t have a Straight Pride parade all over social media.

Backward Evolution, I say!

It reminds me of a magnet I bought about a quarter century ago.

Hold on. I’m debating going through a couple of boxes I have packed away in a closet to find it and take a picture for you all…the Silver Fox pointed out last night – because I have plenty of dumb moments, too – that the reason my fridge magnets are packed away unlike his which are plastering the front of his fridge is because his is faced with quality stainless steel and mine is a lesser caliber metal.

Shit faced, if you will.

Ok, I’m not going to go find it. Not because I’m too lazy. Rather, because of this situation:

How dare I disturb Myrtle’s blissful slumber? The poor dear barely gets 20 hours of sleep a day!

Back to the magnet.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

It’s a quote attributed to George Carlin. Boy, was he ahead of the curve with that observation!

Congress.

Gimme all that money!

White People.

Everybody gets a trophy.

Scooter Designers.

We want all the money, too!

Portlanders.

Did someone say trophies?

Stupid Americans…

Here’s hoping that whole Crispr thing works out if only so whoever ends up controlling the technology can finish Hitler’s work…if only to prove the point that evolving forward is about inclusion not so-called refinement.

Sure, I guess that means a certain grumpy old man is going to have to learn to accept those who choose to neither stand nor pedal on an e-scooter.

As another wise, old friend used to say,

Life is lumpy.

Can Evolution Go Backward?

The Simple Solution

Homelessness.

Global Warming.

Opioid Crisis.

Politicians & Lobbyists.

Medicare For All.

Potholes.

The simple solution?

Taxes.

AOC proposed – and I think I have this right – an 80% tax on the super rich. The tax would kick in on income earned annually over, let me say that again in bold print, over $10 million.

Pilloried.

That’s what her plan was. Actually, I’m sure the outcry was worse because it was a woman who suggested such outrageousness.

People were incensed that there would be a special income tax for people earning over $10 million a year. Personally, I was surprised at how not surprised I was. In my mind, I bet that there were more people making less – far less – than that threshold that panned the plan because, y’know…the American Dream.

One day, that might be me!

Stupid Americans.

For some context for what “we’re” against.

Robert Downey Jr made $75 million last year, 2018.

He made one movie. Maybe you heard of it? I dunno. Seemed like a big deal at the time.

But, since his payout included backend pay – calm down, Diezel – what he got paid up front for the $2 billion-worldwide-grossing movie was only the beginning. And the small part.

I mention this for two reasons:

First, it seems safe to assume that RDJ didn’t suit up for the sequel to Infinity Wars for a smaller up front or potential total payday. This is important because Endgame made $1.2 billion worldwide in its opening weekend. That’s 60% of what it’s predecessor made altogether in five days!

Second, RDJ also only made one film in 2017. Spider-Man: Homecoming. He was paid $15 million for three days of work!

And people are upset that he’d be taxed unfairly on his earnings over $10 mil.

Hey, everyone…it’s time for a breakdown!

Let’s see how AOC’s progressive tax may have put poor RDJ on the streets.

2017: Let’s assume RDJ would have been taxed at the basic 28% tax rate on his first $10 mil. He’s keeping $7.2 of that. Now, for the $5 mil over the threshold, he’s gonna have to cough up $4 mil at that 80% tax rate, keeping a paltry one mil for himself.

Oh, a paltry one mil on top of the $7.2 that was taxed at a normal rate.

Ok, A) I don’t even have the friggin’ one mil!

<cough, cough> buy my book <cough>

But, then…B) His total after tax annual income was still $8.2 friggin’ mil.

I know, I know…agents and staff.

Whatever.

Those are write offs that could reduce his taxable income so that his 2017 income never even breached the $10 mil threshold.

Again…for three days of work. Out of 365.

Now, 2018: What havoc would a socialist tax plan wreak for poor old RDJ?

On his first $10 mil, we know he’s keeping $7.2, right? That doesn’t change. But on that $65 mil over the threshold? He’s taking home $13 million and coughing up $52 mil to the Pothole Fixing People.

That’s a lot of potholes. Hell, it’s maybe even a small bridge. Anyone need a bridge?

So, overall, he’s gonna be pretty ok with a little over $20 million to get through the year – just the year! He can make more money this year!

I would imagine that’s do-able.

And that’s just one example. There’s a lot of CEOs and people we’ve never even heard of that make $10 million plus a year. I say “a lot” thinking hundreds of our 325 million Americans. Maybe thousands. I’m for sure not even thinking this affects tens of thousands of Americans.

Assuming that’s true, and this affects 9000 Americans – this would only be a factor in the lives of .000028% of Americans.

Benefitting the other 99.999972% of Americans by, y’know…curing cancer.

And if I’m wrong?

I could be wrong by a factor of 36+ and still not be out of the infamous 1%.

And yet, 290-million-ish aren’t demanding this be the status quo. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Did I say Stupid Americans?

Ok, fine. Maybe it’s hard to stick it to one of our beloveds like RDJ, or Ellen or Oprah.

I get that. American bravery is more of an anonymous thing these days. Looking at you, Internet Trolls.

How about the CEO of Google. Anyone know him?

I mean, if you do…I could use $20 mil (before the tax plan kicks in, plz) or some search engine optimization, so hook a homo up!

His name is Sundar Pichai. And let’s be honest, is there anything that would get Trump supporters to back AOC’s progressive tax faster than that name?

No. Because there’s an overwhelming number of racists amongst his supporters. That number – I imagine – is dwarfed only by the number of closet racists amongst his supporters.

Personally, I’d like to watch them wrestle with their love of Trump versus their realization that a progressive tax would make coughing up $5.2 billion in federal money for a border wall laughably easy.

Hell, tell Trump he’d have enough to build it in gold with a progressive tax and he might forget about how it would affect him personally long enough to sign the tax plan!

Ready for this breakdown?

We know there’s a $7.2 million guarantee on his first $10 mil, so this is really about the remaining $460 million.

$368,000,000

That’s how much tax money one person could contribute annually to our country and its various crisis. Let’s face it, even at the $10 million threshold, these Richie Riches potentially pay more in taxes in one year than I will in my lifetime.

And still this nice Sundar guy would have $99,200,000 to live on personally.

For a year.

For my $.02 – which is becoming starkly literal in contrast – I’m thinking that more wealthy Americans would start to invest more of their super-wealth to organizations committed to solving these problems on a national or international level.

I’m ok with that. I think this country needs a few hundred million citizens with a Robin Hood mentality instead of the current Sheriff of Nottingham dream.

For whatever reason, Americans hate paying taxes.

Case in point:

If people think the government can’t be trusted with that kind of money – they could be right – then Benioff might be their role model. And, hey…it’s another guy we’ve never heard of!

Score!

The Simple Solution

That Attitude Of Gratitude

I mean…superiority?

No, no. That doesn’t sound right.

Gratitude. Final Answer.

This has been kicking around my head for a few days since I weighed in on a comment thread about a letter to Portland’s mayor from a tourist who lives in Lewiston, Idaho.

He’d complained rather emotionally about how all the trash cans in the city wire overflowing, there were needles all over the parks and homeless people sleeping in every doorway.

I was trying to let it go…

Then, this morning on my way to work – more on that later, maybe – I followed a tourist couple for about a block and a half. Then we passed a very unfortunate looking homeless man sitting on the sidewalk…not sleeping and not in a doorway, just to be clear.

I don’t understand why he doesn’t go to a shelter. Y’know, if he’d just go to a shelter, he wouldn’t have to sit there like that…

And there it was.

All it took to catapult me back to my frustrated Facebook space was one tourist who “knew” better. She had the “I’d like to speak to the manager haircut” and everything.

Back in the day, she was the reason for this type of Society of Native Oregonian Born humor…

Please feel free to drop off you comment cards, passive-aggressive letters to our mayor and just any advice you might want to leave for Oregonians with this guy on your way out:

Ok, do let me fill in the blanks. Let’s start with the Haircut Lady.

There’s a few different types of shelters, not counting your basic flop house. The first is a free, take all comers until we’re full type of deal. The second is a pay-your-way-in and then taking all comers til we’re full type of situation.

I don’t think I need to explain that first one. The second one – I think – runs like $5-10 a night for a bed. If you’ve ever seen a panhandler looking for handouts so they can get a hostel room? Yeah, that’s this. Hostels aren’t throwing their doors open for homeless folks, they got guests to preserve an experience for.

Obviously, you can’t earn your $5-10 for a hostel sitting in the hostel, so off to work you go. Right?

Regardless, these places are pretty much first come, first serve on a daily basis. You may get preferential consideration if you were there the prior night, but only maybe…don’t quote me. But, what the nice Haircut Lady forgot to consider as one homeless person was ruining her vacation was that shelters are more like hotels than private homes.

That means they clean the rooms during the day.

Everyone out of the hostel.

They are welcome to hang in the common areas, but if you’re running a shelter and you’ve got space for 100 or so homeless homies to hang out in your common areas? Odds are you’re thinking, “We should add beds”…after all, the concern of shelters is to provide a place for people to sleep.

Stupid Haircut Lady.

So, she made me realize that I had to save humanity from its stupid self. Ergo, I must blog.

Save us, Dopey Wan, you’re our only hope.

Haircut Lady was a pretty minor perturbance.

Applying her to the coliseum that is the Facebook, where Anonymous Posters are throwing facts and reality to the lions…

well, we’re gonna need a bigger coliseum.

A bartender acquaintance of mine – who I rather respect – posted the Oregonian article about the Lewiston Tourist on his thread next to a gas can and a dumpster and just walked to a safe distance.

I read the article.

Then I read the comments.

There was a lot of, “Wish it were better, but we live in Portland!” type comments.

Then I thought, some of these people didn’t read the article. But at least they aren’t pouring any more gas on the situation.

And, then

I found a few comments that were negative.

And then more.

Then some that were harshly so.

And, then…some that defied any semblance of humanity.

BRB, haven’t been on the Facebook in a couple days – mandatory self imposed detox – but going to see if I can screen grab the comments…the things I do for my readers.

Ok, I gotta tap out on this one. No great screen grabs for you! Sorry…

Here’s the gist of my comment,

There are two factors to consider here, outside of homelessness:

The first is that Oregon in general and Portland in particular have made social services a priority. This means that for unemployed or underemployed or people living below – what I’ll liberally call – the poverty level can get access to free healthcare (from dental to mental and everything in between) under the Oregon Health Plan. That paired with our liberal food stamps program ensures a baseline of care for people in need.

Second, since these programs were just ideas and pilot programs aimed at – amongst other things – getting Portland’s homeless youth off the streets in the 80s & 90s and turning them into productive members of society, certain other cities have been offering their homeless who run afoul of the law the option of jail or a bus ticket to Portland. This approach solves two problems: one, said municipality’s own homeless problem; two, it very likely improves the homeless person’s quality of life.

Rain be damned.

Then I shared a story from that very same week of a young man – with facial tattoos, ergo: issues or terrible judgment – that had asked me for directions downtown. I’d told him where to go and how to get there, at his request. Then he’d TMIed me by apologizing for having to ask, he just hadn’t picked up his phone yet.

Me: phone?

Him: yeah, the county gave me a phone and this is where I have to pick it up.

Me: …

Him: yeah, I’ve only been in town a week, but the first day I was here, I got my OHP insurance and my prescriptions filled…and an Oregon Trail card with some grocery money on it.

Me: wait…you’ve only been in town a week from where?!?

Him: New Jersey.

Me: and you just got all this for showing up?

Him: yeah, man.

Me: huh.

Now, mind you…I’m standing on the street talking to this face-tattooed dude and thinking, “Right on, Oregon”, you really are the best state!

Just guess what the Facebook hive mind thought.

Never mind, I’ll tell you:

They.

Lost.

Their.

Shit.

Here’s one of my more vocal critics:

My response was that my critics’ arguments all seemed to stem from what they didn’t have. Free medical, free phone, free food.

Not what they did have. A damn home. A tether to reality…even if it came without a sense of empathy.

Yeah, I pointed that out.

Don’t worry, there hasn’t been a public pillorying like I got in about 2000 years, if you get my drift..,

“Me, me, ME!” – Facebook Users

Seriously, if any of these people traded what they have for what these horrible homeless people get for “free”…well, I find it hard to believe that they could last a week before realizing that maybe what they coveted was not worth the emotional value they assigned it.

Here’s your free health care. Enjoy going to a clinic filled with “those people” to see a doctor!

Here’s your free food. Oh, and the list of items you cannot use it for: goodbye booze, nicotine, energy drinks, your dignity when an acquaintance chats you up in line at the grocer as you are paying with your Oregon Trail card…

And, here’s your free phone. Enjoy your no data plan and trying to find a welcoming public place to charge your phone up.

Absolute idiots.

But, one must admire persistence. They were undeterred and stood firm in their “woe is me having to work” mantra.

Later, “they” – this aforementioned vocal critic – went on to add their thoughts (such as they are) to another thread. Take a gander:

Seriously? You don’t feel bad that a cop killed a homeless person? Obviously, this dumpster fire of a conversation degraded significantly after I weighed in.

Naturally, I had to fight my own impulses as to whether to educate, ignore or yell louder than this person.

I knew I was not engaging in that last activity. Not my style. Reason over volume any day, for me.

I was also pretty sure that whether the state of mind they were in was situational because they were all wound up over homeless people or their actual sad state of being – the current state was not ideal for absorbing or processing new information.

Fine, but just because I am choosing to ignore someone doesn’t mean I can’t take a lurk at their public (idiots…I swear) Facebook page. Right?

My takeaway there was that drag is a hobby, not a second job. Plus, it’s an expensive hobby, so if you’re doing it, your “other job” – aka: actual job – pays you well enough that you make more than the $36k (or thereabouts) threshold to qualify for free Oregon Health Plan coverage. So, shut your drawn on lips.

Also to consider: if it takes a lot of money to make Dolly Parton look so glamorously cheap, imagine how much more it takes to make an overweight, hirsute man look good in a dress.

And then – in the drag world – instead of getting a paid gig, you usually end up getting to do a number or two in someone else’s meagerly paid gig for several years until you’ve established yourself as enough of a draw to have your own show.

But trust me, our PT Drag Queen is yelling loudly at anyone and everyone about how she wants a paid gig and where is it?!? Want to guess what my bartender friendquaintance and I talked about last time we chatted?

Yup. DQs who think putting on a dress and being a bitch entitled you to a pay check.

Key Word: entitled

And that’s what brings me full circle in my frustration. This PT Drag Queen and Haircut Lady are both lamenting – although, props to Haircut Lady for at least making empathy sounds – the focus on themselves.

What if Haircut Lady considers her good fortune to be able to leave her home and travel to Portland for a weekend getaway? By the way, remember, “getaway” is travel industry lingo for “get away from it all”…so Haircut Lady has left all her troubles behind for the weekend. Sadly, viewing another person’s crisis level problems ruined her escape from her own.

Sad.

But then there’s PT Drag Queen. They’re upset that they aren’t getting free healthcare, food and a phone in exchange for giving up their income and housing. As if that’s not twisted up enough, they are willing to join a class of society that they think the police should be able to essentially execute – by their own words – when they are perceived to have done something wrong.

That ain’t America.

It isn’t any modern religion I know of.

I feel like this question placement from OKStupid applies here…

It’s one thing to say it, people, and another to do it.

Anyway, it sure isn’t Portland.

For me?

I’ll gladly struggle to make it in a city and state that takes the well-being of its “worst” or least fortunate citizens and makes them a priority. After all, if we only acknowledge “those people” to complain about them, what have we done? But if we allocate tax money to help elevate our least fortunate to at least a minimal level of humanity – and I’m not kidding…it’s still a tragically low existence – than we’ve done something to help. It didn’t even cost us anything that we hadn’t already paid, either: taxes. All we had to do was go to work, something many of these homeless people are unable to do themselves.

Catch our Haircut Lady’s eyesore of a human being in a lucid enough state to ask; I’m sure he’d rather sleep inside and know where his next meal is coming from than sit on the sidewalk in filthy and rather unflattering clothing, drooling onto himself while people walk by, clucking their tongues in disgust.

My gregarious street youth?

He actually asked me if I knew where he could get a job. I told him Amazon seems to always be hiring…

Long and short of it, he’d probably happily take PT Drag Queen’s day job so that she could get all her well-deserved freebies the state and county have to offer.

Stupid Americans…where did we learn to think this way?

One of the things that makes me “grumpiest” is that I went to Catholic school.

No, wait…that came out wrong.

I am grateful that I went to Catholic school. The values I learned there – from the Bible I tell ya! – gave me a foundation to be at least a passing human being in life. I sure as hell (not a real place, BTW) am not perfect in anyone’s eyes: “god’s”, Christian’s, sexual or racial minority’s…so, thankfully I never claimed to be.

No, what makes me grumpy is that collectively we do such a poor job of practicing the simple lessons I learned from Catholic school and the Bible. These days, instead of doing unto others as we’d have done unto us – right? There’s no actual effort required for that one! At a baseline level, actually doing nothing earns us nothing in return.

But then we break the arrangement: we judge someone else.

How about that tenth commandment? Need a refresher?

People would – if you believe their words – kill for “a body like that” or “a decent parking space”…we’re America, we can bust two commandments in one go.

And then there’s some easy to ignore lessons from outside the Bible, since I know my education was a privilege.

Walk a mile in their shoes

I like to think of this as a Church of Elvis lesson, but it’s more likely a Native American idiom, where shoes are actually moccasins.

Or, hell…

Humor aside, the saying cautions us against envy and toward empathy.

But that’s proving to be a struggle. Isn’t there just an Instagram filter that applies empathy?

That Attitude Of Gratitude

#HeSaidSheSaidToo

Sometimes I think that I know exactly what to think.

Other times, I find myself reminding said self that there are two sides to every story and somewhere in between there is probably a truth or two lying around.

Still, I rely heavily on my confidence that as a critical thinker and proud owner of a well-honed bullshit detector, I will be guided to the truth.

Recently, though…

Jussie Smollet

Covington Catholic

Boy, howdy. What to think about those topics? Even if my assertion that somewhere under or beside each side’s screams is the truth of the matter…I feel like the old He said/She said idiom is getting more than a fair share of abuse.

Hence, the hashtag.

Yesterday, I was reading a blog entry by a Christian Blogger where he was confronted by a homeless person on his morning bus ride into work. He didn’t engage, and was so caught off guard by the outburst that he couldn’t find any words. He just sat quietly across from the man and held his gaze.

Ultimately, the person moved seats and oriented himself facing away from the blogger. His take on that – even though he acknowledge the obvious mental illness – was that the man was possessed by a demon and that in silently confronting him, the devil had seen his inner god-spirit and run away from him, just like the Bible teaches.

What? You’re still back on “He follows a Christian blogger?” aren’t you?

Full disclosure, I follow a couple of Christian bloggers.

Also several POC bloggers, even though I am just an old whitey.

I should probably say that I also follow a couple a Mothers that blog, too, even though the last time I checked – which probably wasn’t recently enough – I do not personally have a vagina. Or kids.

There’s a blogger I follow who is a teenage girl.

Another that is an old man.

And several that are some combination of all of those things and several other that I didn’t even mention.

Oh, and a couple of blogs about cats.

I don’t want to become trapped in an echo chamber in the blogosphere and more than I do in reality. To that end, I read a lot of blogs that are created from different life experiences than my own.

I follow bloggers who say interesting things. The frame of reference that this provides me helps me remain open.

Even though I don’t personally believe this homeless man was possessed by a demon spirit or frightened of my blog buddy’s god spirit, the story was intriguing. The point was still somewhere in there between his beliefs in god and my belief in science.

The homeless guy was – in my layperson observation – nuts.

And I live in Portland, so I was also just relieved that my writer friend didn’t end up stabbed.

What people believe is their own business, I’m not here to tell anyone that there is or isn’t a god. As long as spiritual-minded people also believe in things that are provable, they have all the balance they need in my book.

But back to Jussie and CovCath.

Those two issues that have captured our nation’s attention recently have me worried that too much emphasis is put on what people want to believe before the full weight of facts is considered. My observation is usually that somewhere in there is a bible of another sort.

The Bible-bible is generally accepted to have around 40 contributing authors. Sorry, it was not literally written by this god person everyone is talking about, nor his son. And that fact is freely admitted by believers and non-believers alike.

That that’s sometimes the last thing those groups agree on is another thing altogether, but I digress

This good book, it’s a recounting of events that may or may not have been directly witnessed by the writer or told to the writer in a second hand-ish account. Or it’s all crap, which is where one has to bring faith to the equation.

Having been raised Catholic, I take the book as a collections of lessons versus instructions. Nothing in my life is predicated on the argument, “Because the Bible says”.

To paraphrase the prophet Jerry Maguire, “Show Me The Science” if you want me to think of what you’re saying as fact versus your opinion. I’m usually pretty ok acknowledging someone’s opinion. I may remind them of the old adage, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they usually stink” with a not too subtle meaningful stare if their opinion is too far out in the field. But otherwise, everyone can think what they want. If they present opinion as fact, I have a problem with that.

This is where I think recent events have us boondoggled, though. The facts of the Jussie and CovCath dramas are still unfolding and/or may never be fully known. In the interim, people are filling that factual void with opinions that are settling in quickly as facts. That’s our bible of a different sort, right there. By the time facts are known, opinion will have already been written down by far more than just 40 random people and 2000 years from now…well, I’m not going to finish that extrapolation. Unfortunately for many of us, Jussie Smollet, CovCath, anyone writing their opinions down on either side of either case…in 2000 years, no one is likely going to give a damn.

Hell, the way things are going, in 2000 years, the Kardashians will all be worshipped as gods, if you want my perfectly snarky opinion on today’s state of literal and figurative affairs.

But, as it stands in the here and now, we’ve got people on both sides filling us all in on what to think. Yes, folks, we’ve reverted to a “Whoever yells loudest is right” mentality, courtesy of our Cheeto in Chief – Benedict Donald himself – telling people that news that doesn’t jive with his agenda is Fake News and tweet-shouting at the masses what he needs them to believe in lieu of allowing them to hear the truth and face its consequences. And it seems to be working for him, this abuse of truth.

And in that case, why isn’t it working for Jussie Smollet and that little jerk from Covington Catholic?

In a vacuum of facts, I’m going with what I saw with my own eyes and I’m not taking the gaslighting that anyone cares to add. Remember, everyone, if you saw it, it happened. We aren’t talking about UFOs and ghosts, we are talking about protesters and B-list celebrities – to be clear, I’m calling Jussie B-list, not Trump (he wishes) – in situations where we have camera phone and video tape footage that should help to inform our opinion.

Believe What You Saw With Your Own Eyes.

Starting anywhere else or with any other premise is a betrayal of not only the knowable facts, but also of our own intelligence and integrity. Whatever else happens in this world, those two things are uniquely ours to defend. Do not give them away freely just because someone yells loudest.

#HeSaidSheSaidToo

Our National Moral Compass

I was gonna write about Kevin Costner being the proto-dad in movies these days, but decided to take a break from movie material.

Seems like most people anymore have a Moral Spinner, making right and wrong less of a literal constant and more like some sort of MadLibs or design your own disaster – er – adventure scenario.

Welcome to the United States of America. Our new national color is every shade of grey.

Case in point: The MAGA Teens

You tired of hearing about this yet?

I am, yet it won’t leave my mind. Or my homepage on Apple News.

The kids that survived the Valentines Day shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida took their trauma and created a national movement.

The Covington Christian kids said, “Hold my holier than thou water!” and took their white privilege and created national drama.

That.

Won’t.

Go.

Away.

My overwhelming question, every story I read about this, is

Where the hell were the adults?!?

High School class trips used to have parent or teacher chaperones.

I know, back when I was a kid

Hell, parents used to teach kids to walk away from a fight. Nowadays, I can’t tell if it’s “stand your ground” or “don’t take off your blindfold” on any given day.

Something tells me the kids have heard “stand your ground” loud and clear and the adults are perfectly happy to put a blindfold on and abdicate their parental responsibilities.

For instance, we all saw the video of the teen in “the hat” – those friggin’ hats – facing down a Native American easily four times his age. Collectively, most of us lost our shit.

Sure…there were a few

<looking at you, Savannah Guthrie>

But I think seeing the video, the majority of us recognized shitty teenage testosterone fueled cockiness when we saw it. Personally, I saw a tight pic of a teen with a shit eating smirk, a Native American elder playing a drum and a few extras surrounding him.

I saw what I saw.

I wanted to end that punk.

Gosh, lemme see if I can recall what happened next…

Oh, yeah…his parents hired a connected DC PR firm.

I’ll tell ya, I was a pretty good kid. My parents sent me to a private catholic high school, too. But still, kids are kids. Puberty is a horrible time for parents.

If they happen to be present enough to notice their kids and, y’know…parent them.

For the record, jerk kid or not, the number of times my parents had to hire me a PR firm to undo my jerkiness is 0.

Zero.

I think if your kid does something that makes that number anything higher than zero, he doesn’t get the luxury of deflecting the blame.

Shockingly, the PR firm managed to paint the kid as a victim. We haven’t seen the whole thing, they say. A three minute video isn’t the whole story, they say.

There were black people!

Quick!

Phew.

It worked.

Mainstream media – print and network – were walking back their criticism of the situation. Celebrities that jumped into the conversation were suddenly tweeting their mea culpas.

A lot of them admit to not having watched the entire video, just the three minute one.

New information has come to light…

So I watched one of these new videos.

I was horrified.

Oh, those black guys.

Sure, they were adults yelling at passers by in the area. They were members of an extremist black religious group. Probably about the same to the rest of the black community as what the KKK is to white people.

There was maybe a half dozen of them.

In contrast, these Native Americans had maybe a half dozen peaceful protesters in roughly the same area.

Black extremists.

Native American peaceful protesters.

And then, the MAGA Teens.

In watching one of the “entire videos” I came away absolutely baffled.

There must have been 150 of them.

At least.

And they were little dicks.

Take away the blacks and Native Americans – that they far outnumbered, did I mention that? – and these white kids were still little shits.

Why?

Because when you look at the entire video, you get a bigger picture of their other offense: harassing women.

It’s not rape if you enjoy it!

Really?

Who decides that the rape was enjoyed?

I’m guessing it was the rapist, in their opinion. Certainly not the victim. That’s just a guess on my part since the school field trip they were on was to attend the Right to Life March…y’know, the anti-choice march?

Yeah. A catholic school bused its all-white-boy student body to DC to march against women’s rights and then allowed them to harass women and Native Americans while maybe mildly annoying some militant blacks by yelling louder than them.

And the white kids are the victims.

Yeah…those poor kids and their moral spinners.

Personally, I still think it would have been nice to see an adult or two in the crowd.

Parent.

Teacher.

The US Park Police. Oh, wait…they’re shut down.

Hey, speaking of shut downs…you know what we should probably shut down? The tax exempt status of Covington Christian High School and any church they are affiliated with. I couldn’t check to see if they were listed as a 501(c)(3) organization or not since the school shut down all of its social media and websites and advised its student body to do the same.

Hiding much?

I don’t know why I’m so annoyed by this, but I sure am. At least after Charlottesville, we got a “There’s bad people on both sides” from the White House. Now, these snot nosed brats might get – I heard they did, but haven’t verified that – an invitation to the WH. Maybe il Cheeto will send out for more hamberders.

Meanwhile, mainstream media and public figures are gaslighting themselves and apologizing to the next generation of Stupid Americans for making them feel temporarily at fault for their bad behaviors.

This is a new low for a country that already hit an embarrassing low by accepting that “literal” was an antonym and a synonym for “figurative”. I guess it’s safe to leave you with

I literally cannot even.

Wrong is wrong, folks. Take off your blindfolds.

I can’t believe I delayed writing about Kevin Costner as a proto-dad and ended up writing about kids that need a parent. Go figure.

Our National Moral Compass

Some People Call Me A Pessimist

Rightly so, I’m sure they could successfully argue. Others may offer a case for labeling me an optimist.

But just look at the name of this blog…

That’s why my real friends skip the argument altogether and just call me a grump.

Fair enough.

And what’s got this grumpopatomus feeling reflective this morning?

Our dirtbag President, of course. The offending tweet:

Amongst friends who shared a respectfully snarky relationship, this would make me chuckle. From our Idiot in Chief, this is just more woman-hating vitriol.

Just like when he called her Pocahontas or Sacajawea in the first place. She had made a statement about having Native American ancestry, and possessing all the visual genetic characteristics of someone who’d “like to talk to the manager”, this claim left her open to attack.

No. Let’s call it what it was, given the source: bullying.

What was most bizarre about this to me – having become inured to our President’s shitty behavior – was the fire that Warren took from the actual Native American population. Well, spokespeople, at any rate.

Not only was it considered poor form for her to politicize this ancestry in the first place, using a commercial DNA kit to verify it was also a bad decision. Incidentally, a decision she made after months of bullying from Trump. The culmination of this bullying was Warren calling Trump on his pledge to donate $1 million to charity if she could prove her claim.

Maybe without really considering the full implications – or maybe just without foreseeing an objection from left field – she called out our petty blowhard of a President and took the test. I think this was more to prove the President wouldn’t honor his word than to prove her word was true.

Shocker. He didn’t.

But then the tribal spokespeople weighed in. Their point was that their tribal pride wasn’t based on a swab mailed off to a lab. That recreational DNA testing not only minimized their genealogical pride, it opened up the floodgates for potential abuse of the governmental benefits appropriated to Native Americans.

That I understood.

When I was in Junior High – ninth grade, just before going off to High School as a Sophomore – I was one of two students pulled aside and counseled on the scholarship benefits available to me as a Native American.

<needle scratch>

I’m not Native American, except that I was born in this country. Both of my parents could probably beat out Elizabeth Warren for looking Caucasian.

Well, my mom is slightly dark complected.

And I was a kid that loved running around the neighborhood and hanging out at the pool during the Summer while my parents played tennis at the club.

See? Caucasian.

If you don’t like it, talk to the management.

But because my skin was a luscious sun kissed shade of brown, I was pulled aside and offered these potential benefits.

Reverse profiling.

I’d like to say it was honor that made me reject the offer and the advice to talk to my parents “just to be sure”. But it wasn’t. In my mind, I was sure.

But in my mind, I was also scared.

Ashamed.

It was Junior High, not exactly the time in life that kids are looking to stand out as different.

Well…there was that one boy that was always wearing a satiny scarf in the hallways.

In the 80s.

He was brave.

I was afraid of what would happen if I was a brave.

We had this librarian at my Junior High. His name was something like Mr. Rawlins. I know that’s not exactly right, but it’s important that it’s at least close for the point of this story. Anyway, he was a heavy smoker.

Yellowed hands, face nicotine-stained a dull brown and clothes filled with the noxious scent of an indoor smoker.

We kids were terrible to him. We likened his aroma to the smell of the dump our buses took us by on the way to school.

Rawlins smells like Rossman’s Landfill!

And chanting things like

B.O. Navajo Joe

over and over, passive-aggressively knowing he wasn’t out of earshot.

It makes me feel terrible to type those hateful things. I’m kind of misty-eyed as I remember how awful we were.

Of course, I was just a follower…because at that age, what kid wants to be different?

I think the meanest of us all was this little shit named Cory.

A) Totally rubbish name for a kid.

B) He was an adopted Korean (I think) orphan.

Both of which meant that he was compensating for all he was worth. What a mean kid. When he showed up one Fall wearing a distinct Polo shirt my mom had sold that Summer at a garage sale, I said nothing. That, I’d like to believe, was a kindness I offered him and not simply fear of what would happen if I embarrassed him.

So, yeah…it wasn’t a sense of honor or decency that prevented me from taking money that wasn’t mine, it was at best equal parts being a decent human being and scaredy cat.

Scared of being seen as different.

Scared of being perceived as poor or needy.

Ugh.

But here’s where I try and bring that ramble home…I sincerely don’t think E.W. was trying to cause an affront to anyone in her attempt to shut Trump’s bullying down – hopefully once and for all time.

I totally get the legitimate objections of Native Americans.

I can’t forgive someone who engages in bullying behaviors from the office of the President.

For my $.02, I think someone with Warren’s character should be able to claim a Native ancestry without the presumption that she’s staking a claim to the associated heritage that ancestry comes with.

I know, prepositions and dangling participles…

Nor, however, should it be assumed she’s pandering to a minority for political gain.

I’m going to choose to accept that she is an American that is proud of all parts of her genetic make up; good, bad or ugly. It’s what made her the person that Massachusetts sent to the Senate to represent them. That she knows that her very DNA is the DNA of America itself. Our strength as a country isn’t in the purity of our blood, rather it’s in the blending of our cultures that has created this Melting Pot that is America.

Even if there is currently a surge of off-key, Stupid American voices in the chorus of this little dinner theater drama that is our present day country.

That’s my moment of optimistic frustration…and probably why I should stay off the Twitter until our country gets a regime change.

Some People Call Me A Pessimist