He is going to be president - so you must be an asshole

The non-elected electors have spoken. This man who lost the popular vote by 2+ million votes, but won the electoral college, is going to be president. When you go to the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, there will be an animatronic Donald Trump up there with Lincoln and Washington.

That's that.

But this is not the end.

You need to speak up. ABOUT EVERYTHING. This election was lost because "Hillary takes money to speak at Goldman Sachs" but the man saying that has hired a former Goldman Sachs leader to be a policy maker in his administration. He's nominated Rick Perry, a former Dancing with the Stars contest and GOP presidential candidate who had a talking point about eliminating executive cabinet positions but forgot the name of the cabinet positions to run the exact cabinet (Department of Energy) he forgot.

You know that uncle or grandparent who told you how Obama was going to nominate Farrakhan (Trump supporter, by the way) to help run his government? Or how Obama was a secret Muslim? Or how the Clinton Foundation was evil (it's a charity - Trump's foundation paid money to Pam Bondi, the state attorney general of Florida, running for re-election, who was overseeing a case by the state against Trump). You need to be an asshole to that person. Let me repeat that. An Asshole. Because these people are the assholes who elected this completely unqualified person to be president, as if some sort of "I'm old, I earned this" moxie for this "rebel against PC" (aka I'm not succeeding in this economy because I refuse to adapt from a time where white Christian males had every advantage).

An asshole who:

  • Reminds people that Trump told the Russians to "hack" in July, the last time he had a press conference.
  • Reminds people he's too busy to have a press conference but he will meet with Kanye West.
  • Follows people like @funder (Scott Dworkin) and  (Kurt Eichenwald) on twitter and reports on things Trump is doing/has done.
  • Question to others if Trump cares more about his business than his country.
  • Tells people how Trump mocked a disabled reporter. How he lies. How he brags about sexually assaulting women. How his twitter use is not presidential.
  • MOCK PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP. Embarrass them. Be a proud ASSHOLE. You are probably smarter than them and you have facts on your side. Insult people who voted for him.
  • Points out how Trump has contradicted himself at times pro-choice and pro-life, pro-Russia, anti-Russia, pro-China, anti-China.
  • Tell people how Trump won "a game" of election but how 2+ million more people voted.
  • Never be quiet. 
Trump will not "Drain the Swamp", "Lock her Up" or "Build the Wall". None of those things are happening, nor will a national registry of Muslims or mass-deport illegal aliens. Those were election promises to cater to people who vote emotional and don't think critically. Nor will Trump change gay rights or abortion. Heck, the RNC isn't even "repealing" Obamacare anymore; they are "replacing it". The infrastructure and Obamacare fixes are probably things Obama would have done himself if Congress had let him - so this is not bad (other than GOP obstruction).

We will not be hurt in the short-term by Trump's economic policies, other than an increased national debt (point that out to people who bring up Obama and debt). His disgusting environmental policies will even take 5-10 years to hurt. Where we will be hurt is by Trump's foreign policy. This is a man who has no ability to walk the diplomatic tight rope to keep the world in balance as it is now and a man who believes in phony American Exceptionalism (the thought that America, as if by some divine grace, is better than all other countries - without acknowledging the work to get there). The big issue is Trump's foreign business dealings interfering with his foreign policy choices as president. We don't really know the extent of Trump's international business (mostly branding, selling his name), but we do know who he's hiring (Exxon/Mobil CEO friendly to Russia, people who contributed to him to cabinet posts). We cannot sit by and watch when he makes potentially deadly international moves. Our safety and our economy will suffer.

Most Americans didn't vote for Trump, heck, most Americans didn't vote - but we are stuck with him. On January 20th, he'll be sworn in as president. It starts your term as an educated, uncomfortable, truth-sided asshole. 


I'm going to have a better day tomorrow as a dad

What I was asked to accomplish this week - it's just too much. In a house full of stress, I'm the one who has to look, act and be unaffected. No affect. No effects.

But that wasn't me today. I have a son who studies me, copies me, plays me like an actor's role. I did not give him the script he needed today. I gave him impulsive, angry, swearing and nasty dad. I have a daughter who just wants to please me. There was none of that today. And a wife who just wants my support on a difficult day at work and as a parent - I listened - but the reactions were not right.

We all woke up at 3am. That happens sometimes. My son missed his medications at school today somehow. He's failing there at times. I can tell him how to succeed, he can know it - but he won't do it unless he sees me do it. My daughter was just too tired to function.

The left hooks, right jab work combinations all day and technology drops the ball. And I drop the ball. And at the same time it's like I'm painting an incomplete idea, erasing more than making. It never looks good.

But this will all be tomorrow soon. Tomorrow, goal one is to be a better dad. The role of the lifetime for me.


I'm just here, not much else

Maybe it's the lack of sun or not feeling well but all I can say about the last few days is that I'm here. I primarily work from home and have not left the house since Sunday to do anything but bring the kids to and from the school or bus stop. Other than work phone calls, I've talked to no one but my wife and kids.

Usually there is something motivating me but there's just no motivation. Now it's clean the house, work, make dinner, entertain the kids and help them with their homework, put them to sleep, then go to sleep myself. And that's it.

Certainly there are a lot of external factors - the election - being away from many of the people I used to see regularly - not finding joy in things like music or sports. I've outlined my next writing project. It's just sitting there. I have my video channel - still has no videos on it despite having really good ideas on what to shoot. No scripts. No footage.

I go through periods of time traveling all over the place. I always look forward to being at home - as a landing. After awhile, it all looks the same. So quiet. The house is never clean either. No matter what I do, I start the day in chaos and never get to the end of it before more chaos happens.

I don't like Christmas. Never have. Maybe the first two years of being a father I liked it. Now I don't again. Can't stand that it is just a march of commercialism now - seems to have nothing to do with the best aspects of Christianity.

Gratitude. I want to have gratitude. I don't want to say I am thankful - I want to mean it. But I can't make myself feel it when I say it. I think that's probably how I am most like my father. I don't think he is big on gratitude too, unless it's genuine. Or I could be looking for praise. I don't praise myself. Maybe this is how I am like my mother.

This has been going on for awhile. So much in life to be grateful - and it just doesn't flow through me. It's a knowledge, not a feeling. It so rarely rains here. It never rains indoors. I've been waiting for the fire to ignite me for awhile - just naturally. It's not happening. I'm not drowning. I do just enough to avoid that. These are good years for awhile here. Must remember that. I think I have my health. I think. That's a foundation.

I'm really just here. Until I thaw out. Or I wake up. Or I am awoken.


On Veterans Day with Fear and Sorrow (by my mother)

On Veterans Day I received this letter from my mother along with the editorial from Vanity Fair called "The Ugly American". It almost became a perfect counter point to my previous post about moving on from the divisiveness of the election. My mother was generally disinterested in politics from the late 1960s and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy until the first election of Barack Obama (about 40 years apart).  I've chosen to post my mother's letter just as she wrote it:

Note: My mother's father was a Marine, a commanding officer who served in the South Pacific during World War II and recipient of the purple heart.


It couldn't be easier even if it was hard.

I don't know if it is a special needs-parent thing or a gifted-child parent thing; the combination of the two makes for a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. It feels like there is so much room for failure as a parent with these two.

It's been less than two months since we pulled out of the parking lot of Disney's Magic Kingdom with the entire family but me in tears and crying uncontrollably. After four-straight days out at resorts and beaches, stuff you'd expect to be fun, my son was unable to keep it together, cries of "I want to die" coming from the back of the rental car as I tried to find my way back to where we were staying. From the exit of the park, to the monorail then walk back to the car, he screamed uncontrollably. "I hate Disney World" and "This is the worst day of my life" - things he was saying in a calmer voice moments after we had walked in the park earlier in the day. My daughter cried from the backseat that it was all her fault and cried "I love you so much mommy and daddy". Family is extremely important to these children and much of their play reflects family and school time. My wife cried out of embarrassment; not that she didn't know this was possible, that my son and daughter would "lose it" as we left Disney World, but more so of the embarrassment of their actions. Happiest place on earth and everyone in the car is crying.

My wife gives everything she has to our children. My eight year old son, diagnosed with high functioning autism, and my daughter, who at six is still going through evaluations for anxiety and ADHD- they aren't easy kids - or should I say they aren't normal kids - better yet, they are unique kids. Both kids have extreme sensory issues. Both kids score off the chart in nearly every standardized test they take. My friends (who tend to be very caring people) see the best in my children, telling me how smart and funny they are and how much personality. My best friend's fiancee likes to ask the kids trivia questions about science and geography to see what he knows that my friend does not. And at the same time, there are other adults who have trouble with my children. We let the kids express themselves and be comfortable, which makes some very uncomfortable.

There's been too many times where we've left a cub scout meeting or returned from an adventure on vacation... or just gotten a phone call from school, where we've felt like absolute failures as parents. Perhaps these two just can't deal with everything we expose them to. I didn't have the means as a child to live the life these kids have lived. There were no clubs after school, no annual vacations or travel; most of my childhood was spent playing by myself in the woods or looking for pickup basketball games regardless of the temperature outside. Maybe they needed a childhood more like that, simpler.

But would I be doing them just as much of a disservice by not exposing them to everything I have?

Because, there are times when these children thrive. It's not just when we get back standardized tests and get told how "brilliant" they are; it's practical situations. Watching my daughter interact, even with older kids, where she automatically becomes the leader, times when I hear the other kids at school tell me that my son is "the smartest kid ever at school" - this happens too. My son carved 1/4 of the periodic table of elements into the wood work in his closet when he was four and to the best of my knowledge he wasn't using a book as a guide. How is a parent supposed to react to this? My daughter excels at pretty much any activity she's ever done, as long as she can keep her head in it. Soccer was great, until the loud pumped in music; then I couldn't keep her on the field. Once the music was off and she felt like she was in control, she was the best player on the field again. Back at home in a quiet place, they write musicals together, can spend 5 or 6 hours at a time on a weekend reenacting school or a vacation or any other scenario that suits them.

Both of the children like performing and storytelling, my son the story teller and my daughter the actress. Coupled with their love of technology and science, we began making science, history and humor videos on youtube. The kids watch more youtube than television. My son would be hard pressed to name one show on television or one pro-athlete, but he can tell you his favorite YouTubers and can imitate their styles. My daughter almost runs to get in front of a camera as my son crafts his stories.

The two became fans of the PBS Digital Studios channel "Gross Science" and sent comments back and forth with channel creator Anna Rothschild, even sending her a thank you video. I got the chance to meet Anna and other YouTube creators at an event in New York City.

Anna's genuine enthusiasm for her interaction with my kids and her appreciation of their videos was moving. For all the challenges as a parent for these two, this was a reminder of just how wonderfully unique my children are. There's so much potential there. Another YouTube creator, Joe Hanson of "It's OK to Be Smart" shared another one of their videos that got over 1000 views in 2 days. Despite being only 6 and 8, I think they actually "get" the science of the videos and they really understand the importance of story telling - and not just in words, but in actions.

I wouldn't want to go through life raising normal kids who would just have life live them rather than them live life. I want to make them the best they can be - but this includes happiness and confidence and a feeling that they can do what they want, that they will succeed when they try. We are learning what situations work and what don't. We sacrifice. It's hard and there are some damn awful days. But we move on. We are trending up.

I'm not happy you voted for Trump but I don't hate you because of it.

I have much to say after the election. If you know me well, you know the hardest decision for me on election day was to vote for Clinton or go third party since I live in an uncontested state. If I lived in a state with any chance of going "red", I would have not even considered anyone but Hillary. I even saw people who usually oppose Hillary offer their endorsement and reminding us how dangerous a Trump presidency could be. It was a pretty easy choice to make to vote her. After all, we all thought she'd win.

My wife posted on facebook "Feeling proud to vote for the first woman president!!"

But then she didn't win. I'll save what that night felt like for another day. My wife went to bed before it was finished and waking her up to the results was awful.

Her next post was: "Not looking forward to explaining the election results to my six year old daughter."

Every time I read that post I want to write the most mean, nasty response possible to all those people who dared support a reality TV show host built on lies and his father's money who had never held a public service job. I mean, really people, how? I could go on and on. I won't now.

How could someone vote for Donald Trump for president?


And I got nasty. Very nasty. I actually posted this:

All in all I'm upset and angry. I'm disappointed. What do we tell our daughters? How do I explain that my country voted for a reality TV star as president? I mean, this isn't that you elected a bad politician, or someone I just "don't agree with" - this is unprecedented. 

I really think less of you if you voted for that clown. I will look at you differently for quite some time.Not all republicans, mind you, because I know some of you are disgusted or at least flabbergasted. Sorry, just how I feel. I'm not mad at Bernie Bros, I'm not mad at Johnson/Stein/McMullin people - I really admire you to be honest. But those Trump supporters- I'm going to view you as unintelligent, racist, having no respect for people of other cultures, the media... having no idea how government works - and I'm not the only one who will look at you that way.. You're wearing that scarlet letter for awhile. I'm mad.

Granted, I'm not a public figure. I posted this on my personal facebook page so people who could read it are "friends" or at least connected in somewhat to me. And this comment got a lot of "likes". I work out of my house and mostly with Canadians and of the handful of American co-workers I'm pretty sure there was no Trump supporters. I know people attracted to the glitz of Trump since day one of the election cycle and I know people who seem to think Hillary is the second-coming of Lucifer and have been telling me this since her husband was in the White House - wasn't counting on those votes but that's really such a small portion of the people I know I figured it negligible. These are people "you don't waste your breathe on".

Then I thought of my dad's cousin. She and her husband have been supported by the coal industry most of their lives. While I certainly think Obama helped most Americans, the environmental legislation (which I agree with 100%!) has crushed her and her husband and people they live with. Sure, the air is cleaner or eventually will be cleaner and the water is safer - but if you are unemployed in your 40s/50s/60s with job skills in a dying industry, these legislations make it tough to eat. Living in a red state that just decided to dump the exchange program, a lot of people around them went from having cheap (but very poor insurance) to being fined for not having insurance at all. These are things that affect their lives daily. The ACA could have been improved if Congress had helped, but they didn't. Obviously not just Obama failed these people. A lot of "these people" hate Congress as much as they hate the president. These people were voting for someone they truly saw as an outsider.

Makes me think - I've been middle/upper class most of my adult life, which I was not as a child. I'm not in a military family. My wife is a teacher so we never have to worry about health insurance. My job is very stable now and before that I worked for another company gainfully for a decade. Decisions made by presidents really don't affect my day to day life. Sure, I was thrilled to see marriage equality and lessened military conflicts - because these things are right things - but I'm not gay or in the military. To some people, Obama and "the establishment" altered their lives and not for the better.

Am I right in criticizing people for making this decision if these people really think a Trump presidency is better in the short term? Am I right for criticizing anyone for their decision?

I know people who voted for him for one-reason (Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade). I'm 100% pro-choice and I understand how strongly I feel about that. But I'm sure, right or wrong, they feel as strongly the other way. I even know people who voted for him on an issue which turned out to be something that the person actually was totally wrong on Trump's views (to be honest, neither Clinton or Obama was on her side as well either, however this person is pro-choice and was pretty displeased to find out the potential legal outcome there).

Then there was this other group, and for whatever reason, it was mostly white women, who really gave no reason why they voted for him. One posted on her facebook "I felt like we needed a change" to which one of her female friends replied "guess you want to change your access to an abortion". And I kept watching what these people posted. They were very upset - saying stuff like "I don't feel safe on here" (to which one person replied "do you think Muslim people feel safe now"). For the record, this was two suburban white moms who probably couldn't name 2 Muslim people they knew. And for the record, the Muslim I am probably the closest to voted for Trump because of a fear of terrorism. One of my wife's closest friends vote for Trump. When my wife found out that she was a Trump supporter, it really threw her for a loop. She mentioned how upset she was a couple times later. Now that friend is getting nasty texts.

So these people have made a decision and one I truly disagree with. I am a logic guy. I read facts, check sources. I make thoughtful decisions based on precedence. I'm still angry, hurt, confused. I've legitimately talked to my boss and my wife about moving to Canada (my office is in Toronto - no we aren't moving). But what is anger toward these people going to do? Is it OK that a coal miner votes for Trump more so than someone not really affected by him? Why is one right and the other not right?

I can tell you with my thought process, there's no reason why anyone should have selected Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton. But people did.

A few days later, I posted this:

It's been a couple days now. We have all fully realized that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. Being someone who tries to make decisions based on as much fact as possible (and you can never have all the facts as Colin McEnroe pointed out wonderfully yesterday), it is hard for me to understand how this happened. But it did. We've seen Hillary Clinton concede graciously and we've seen our American president Barack Obama point out the need to accept and allow the president elect's lead. While this is disappointing (there's so much to say here), there are people who used their own process to determine that they wanted this outcome and we must respect that. Everyone gets a voice. So we must move forward.

No one made the choices they did in the voting booth because they hate this country; they were made because they believed their choice would make a better country. I've seen protests, I've seen some very hateful acts carried out toward people (not sharing that here, use twitter or reddit - there's plenty) but I'd like to think that for every 1 awful person out there committing those atrocities, there's 100 with similar political views appalled by the acts.
This gives the electorate another task; this means cooperation but it also means due diligence in review of those elected. I saw those who opposed Bush just step aside as he created the Iraq War and I saw those who opposed Obama making ridiculous character attacks on him but not looking at the things that were wrong. We need to remain loud voices over the next four years and sometimes that will be praise and sometimes that will be dissent. If you voted for candidate X because they promised policy Y, if they didn't give you policy Y - say something. And read. Read things you don't think you'll agree with. I've absolutely loved reading conservative "anti-Trump" writers like Rick Wilson and Noah Rothman, amazed they could come to the same conclusions I do from a completely different path. I prepare to be loud and angry if need be, but also willing to say "good job" and I think there will be opportunities for both. And if this 4 year experiment turns out to be an utter failure, remind people - talk about it. Use facts, images, your story. It's your story.


exciting news (for me at least)

I got the new book idea!

Totally different than anything I've ever written.

A bit futuristic, almost science fiction!

My off season baseball activity! Finishing this.


Blogger bits....

I haven't written enough recently.

I still want to write about:

  • Seeing Hamilton
  • My lack of interest in baseball
  • Summer
  • The importance of one-on-one time with children (especially when you have more than one child).
  • Special needs parenting
But those deserve more time.

The summer is moving along. The summer is beautiful in the Northeast because it's not eternal. Just as relationships aren't eternal, to borrow from Buddhism. Summer is for family and family time, visiting with friends and being outside. If someone asked my my perfect summer, it would be time with friends and family spent outdoors. I think I've done enough of the "you gotta do XXX before you die" and I've certainly seen some great entertainment. Spent most of the day today with my daughter. As I watched her sleep I saw how big she's getting physically. She's always been mature and always been a leader - she's growing into it now. My son is so smart and calm but has some of my sad streak in me. Fortunately he doesn't have the anger, at least in an uncontrollable way.

So I guess I'll leave it at that... it's a good summer.  


Violence, Shootings and Villains.

Simple statements on violence and the recent police and sniper killings.

1. Violence creates more violence. It's why we had 2 World Wars. It's why we kill off one terrorist group and another just emerges. It's why innocent police officers are killed by snipers in Dallas.

2. People are afraid. It's easier to be afraid of "groups". People who are afraid of lawful gun owners and shoot them. People who are afraid of police and shoot them. Blanket-statements. Liberals. Conservatives. Rednecks. Blacks. Police officers. Generalizing is an easy way to be stupid.

3. Police officers are not doing their jobs to get rich. Just like any segment of the population, they are mostly good people. Bad men who are police officers (or just bad officers who do not follow procedure) are bad for everyone. But this should not be a reflection on all the good done by the police. When you are in danger, you will call the police.

4. Guns are big dumb thundersticks. Using a gun makes you look dumb, weak and cowardly.

5. Why hasn't the NRA condemned the shootings of the two black males, especially the licensed concealed-carry shooting in Minnesota? Isn't this everything the NRA stands for - the ability to carry a gun for your own protection... following the laws and respecting gun ownership? But they don't. Because the victim was black and the killers were police. The NRA is a bunch of dumb-thinkers who think of things very "black and white". Right or wrong. Police are authority, just like the appeal of Trump - authority. You don't have to think - you just do what they say. The NRA is worthless, especially when the Supreme Court will defend the Second Amendment just fine on their own.

6. Racism still exists. You don't need to see videos of gun carrying-whites and blacks and how they are treated differently to know this. Racism is means of controlling the masses so that they do not unify against their oppressors. The villain is the black person, the villain is the welfare queen, the villain is immigrants. All a means of controlling critical thought which would tear this all apart - but it's easier not to think. Statistics show that racism still exists. It's easier to be a white male in this country than any other group. All the "affirmative action" and "title 9" in the world hasn't changed that.

7. Violence accomplishes nothing but more violence. One killing will just create more killings. If the police snipers are prosecuted as fairly as the police officers who killed the two black males, it will profoundly effect everyone much more than senseless killing, especially of law enforcement. The biggest thing to change law enforcement killings? Cameras, not guns. The camera is the weapon that stops prejudicial treatment.

8. There is a segment of this country that has to blame other people for their faults - take down "groups" (welfare, blacks, immigrants, gays, whatever) because they are insecure of themselves that having more people on equal footing would make it harder for them to get ahead. There's always a villain to blame.

9. Stop killing each other. Put the guns down. If you have prejudice, try to figure out why... actually apply thought to things. The killing just fuels the fire of the polarized. The people in control are all laughing at you... just gives them more power. Income inequality is the biggest problem in this country, no matter what anyone says - and so many things have been done to make this not appear a problem (minimum wage arguments, "welfare", taxes...) The 1% is laughing at you.. all the way to the bank - until our democracy becomes corporate capitalistic feudalism. It's coming... if not you or your kids, but your grandkids.


Trump voter logic - applied to home maintenance shopping

Imagine, if you would, using the same logic as selecting Donald Trump as a nominee or president, and applying it to home maintenance:

"The toilet is backed up again. Even though I made some individual choices to flush things down the toilet that don't belong, I think the cause of the problem is that they just don't make toilets great anymore. Even though I gladly purchased the toilet at cheaply at Walmart, I wish it was made by Americans."

"The last two plumbers I called, I didn't really like them very much. They showed up a little late, charged me a bit more than I wanted. Sure, the toilet didn't leak anymore and there actually wasn't any water damage that required repairs, but I'm sick of plumbers. Instead of a plumber, I'm going to hire a real estate agent to fix my toilet."

"I hired a real estate agent to fix my toilet. He doesn't have any experience in plumbing, but I see signs up all over town with his picture on houses for sale. He's gotta be the man for the job"

"When I asked him how he'd fix my toilet, he didn't give any details on how to fix a toilet; he answered with reasons why the toilet breaking wasn't our fault and how plumbers are to blame and how people who rent apartments have driven up the price for toilets because they don't pay to fix them themselves."

"He told me that he had the strongest plunger in the world and told me he wasn't afraid to use it. He had no trouble disconnecting the water from the toilet and that it would never leak again after that. Makes sense to me."

"He made a lot of personal insults toward my previous plumber and other plumbers who were trying to get the job. He made comments about where their wrenches came from, how small their augers were and how they looked tired when they showed up to the job. These were great reasons to select the real estate agent with no plumbing experience to fix my toilet."

"He talked a lot about how America used to have great toilets, but how sinks and showers came into our bathrooms and made them worse... about how people shouldn't be afraid to say stuff like "my shower has poor water pressure", because people use to say things like that all the time."

"He talked about us and them. I know that "us" refers to me, the people who like the way bathrooms used to be."

"Despite the fact that the real estate agent made a lot of his money buying and selling houses without regard for how the rental tenants would be affected by those sales, I really don't trust where plumbers get their money."

"The real estate agent fixing our toilet, he talked a lot about American values. I really felt like I could have a beer with him which is more important to me than if he can actually fix my toilet."

"He sold a bunch of houses with broken toilets before, but they still sold, I think, since I saw his face on the sign."

"How different could it be to sell houses than to fix them? I mean, common, both involve houses."

"You know, I'm going to hire the real estate agent, because I just don't like what the plumber's spouse did when he was fixing someone's roof 18 years ago."

"I feel like my pipes are safer with a real estate agent watching them who makes a lot of brash statements than I do a plumber."

"I asked the real estate agent for more details on his plan for fixing the toilet and he told me he had lots of great plans and that I'd have the greatest toilet again."


Democrats over extension of bravado exposes GOP weaknesses.

The  "sit-in" at the House of Representatives on Wednesday was nothing short of a chess match. Wait, giving the democrats too much credit. It was a football game. The Democrats were a football team sitting on a late that decided to try to run up the score rather than just run out the clock on the legislative session.

Politics has become game-playing. The debt crisis and government shutdowns were the first games and while Democrats may claim they won these "games", the losers were the people like Federal employees who weren't paid but essential to work. Think of the US Capitol police who were working when a woman tried to drive into the Capital and the White House - none of those police being paid because of the shutdown.

But considering this a game, the Democrats, by overextending their reach, exposes how frail the Republican stance on gun control is. Flashback to the first two years of the Obama administration - arguably the two worst years - instead of focusing on gun reform (or immigration reform), effort was put into Obamacare. The Affordable Healthcare act breezed through Congress but instead of being the full reform that was originally promised, the bill became a big payday for insurance companies (which have been merging into larger mega-insurance companies ever since at the expense of jobs and market size). The single payer was gone because Obama listened to the Tea Party's cries of "death panels" (isn't that what for-profit HMOs already have though?) and we were stuck with a system that really helped some (Yay for pre-existing) and hurt others a lot (surprise, insurance companies figured out how to make more profit off people at the people's expense when they are forced to buy their product.)

Out of this, Obama lost Congress in the midterms but the Republicans who came in stopped the momentum. Quickly they became the party of "not-Obama", borrowing the strategy of the "not-Bush" from the Democrats of the previous administration. The problem was Obama didn't become Bush. The American people may view Obama as a pretty average president but not even Republicans were pleased with Bush by the end of his presidency. Instead of evolving positions, it was just "obstruct Obama". This worked a bit but over time and especially around the debt crisis, the center and left of the country had seen what the GOP was doing. Just this week, the GOP finally unveiled their alternative to Obamacare (keep in mind it took them 5 years - and Mitt Romney ran on saying "I'll keep the good parts" while his platform said "full repeal"). We are still waiting on their immigration policy. And when it comes to gun control, the spinning is failing the Republicans. Even their talking points are contradictory.

"It's a list a racist list full of Muslim sounding names" you hear from the libertarian leaning Republicans of the Democrat plan to not allow people on the no-fly list to buy guns or terror watch list. (For the record, the list is not public so it could also contain the Clive Bundys of the world or white supremacists - who knows). But on top of this, the more fear-mongering part of the Republican party has tried to paint the mass shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando as "terrorist" and "radical Islam" (as if what happened in Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Aurora was some completely different action - removing the two common denominators - young, mentally ill males and high-capacity fire arms). Borders should be closed (no terrorists have come from Mexico) and ISIS is Obama's fault (not the fault of invading the wrong country from Bush or trying to pull out which everyone wanted or the fact that the Middle East is a quagmire invented by the West to compromise from a Western leader who was a genocidal maniac). But putting any of these "narratives" together causes a problem. Should we make special rules toward Muslims? You can't be both for allowing potential terrorists to have guns but also trying to take away other civil liberties. Would you sell a gun to someone on a terror watch list if you knew they were on that list? Taking away guns? Has that ever happened in the United States? Even in prohibition, no one took away alcohol - they just made it illegal to transport or sell. If you had it, you kept it and drank.And don't get me started on "It's the Second Amendment" because our president was only 3/5ths a person according to that document written by wealthy white landowning males centuries ago who never saw anything but a musket ball as an "arm".

And then there is Trump - proof that the GOP is so self-hating that they'd support a guy who has made overt racist statements that were condemned by party leaders like Paul Ryan who also support his candidacy. There will never be a well-loved president again. News is 24 hours and news is delivered in a form that "you agree with". Nothing is non-biased. It's shock and awe and confirmation. If you want to believe Obama is the anti-Christ, you can find a news outlet that will "deliver" news with the bias you want - and the bad things Obama actually does (which were done by his predecessors in many cases as well) you'll never hear about unless it can fit into a talking point. News is about fearing people into watching more news - it is not about journalism. 

It's pretty clear that minor gun reform (no sales to terror list or no fly list) are supported by the majority of people. The automatic weapons (but what's the definition of that? I'll tell you, because I'm the government and I can make up my own definitions) aren't necessary ("but they'd use a knife" yes but if a knife was used in Orlando there probably would have been at least 45 fewer deaths). I need to defend myself with a big boom stick (there was an armed off-duty cop as a security guard at Pulse but even with his gun training he still wasn't able to stop the killer - let's see John Q Public do better than that). The talking points get old.

What the Democrats did was wrong - gun control is hardly civil rights of the 1960s - but it's obviously that something (even small) should be done (and better mental health legislation and better terror checking and better enforcement of existing laws!) By doing nothing, the Republicans were stripped down as thin as their talking points and are left with their party's nomination, Donald Trump - an absolute embarrassment.

This all ends when we turn off the 24-hour news cycle, when we are forced to think about things, not confirm what we actually believe and when we have more than two political parties trying to maneuver their platforms against each other. We can crumble into a divided nation through this. And we may.


Enough with the self-defense fantasies

I believe law-abiding, background checked individuals should be allowed to carry guns.
But I'm seeing a lot of people post this concealed-carry thing which sounds like a John Wayne movie tagline. If you carry a weapon, according to the FBI, you are more likely to be shot or injured by a gun. The FBI also reported on 160 mass shootings and found that 3 were stopped by civilian gun force (2 by former military/law enforcement civilians) and 20 were stopped by civilians with no gun - and just under half of these situations occurred in "gun free zones".
But if statistics are "biased" to you, think of this. Have you ever fired a gun while you were moving, at a moving target, in a confined space - while other people were near by? Have you ever fired a gun in a hostile situation where you had to discreetly access your gun in a location with poor lighting? Next time you are in a movie theater, try to take out your keys during the movie, run across the room, jump behind a chair and throw your keys at someone 20 feet away - because firing a gun in a shooting situation would be a lot tougher than that.
I've seen state police training for active shooter situations. It's intense; it looked like something out of a movie - and they do a lot of this training. I'm sure military training is just as intense. But if you haven't had this training, I hate to tell you, but if a maniacal madman with no regard for life (including his own) is actively shooting, you having a gun is probably giving you a better chance of getting shot than of shooting the killer.


18 team AAC?

Since the Big 12 won't likely expand maybe it's time for the American Athletic Conference to be the team that expands and goes into the Big 12 - sure, financially it would be a struggle but if Texas won't budge on the Longhorn Network, there's more TV money to be made in the AAC.

Take the existing league:
Navy (football only)

Add 4 Big 12 teams:
Kansas State
Iowa State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech

Boise State (if not, Colorado State)
BYU (football only)

To make these divisions:

Navy (football only)
Iowa State

Kansas State
Iowa State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech
Boise St

7 games in division, 2 cross overs, 3 OOC (1 min vs. P5).

Nearly every non-West Coast major market is in this league. Football wise it's comparable to the ACC. Basketball is very strong at top.



We need to have a talk about spirituality. No, I don't mean religion. I don't mean where we go when we cease to be living (Rodney Dangerfield on mortality). Those conversations are awkward too but usually forced because of inevitability; we will all die someday.

But what makes us while we are living - rarely discussed.

Some spiritualists talk first with the body, it being a temple or a house to the soul or something deeper than that while others speak of the connectivity of the body, mind and soul. Matthew Sanford, a yoga instructor who was paralyzed at age 13, speaks of the boy as having memories that the consciousness does not.

I'm not attempting to give a philosophy or tell what is right, partially right or sometimes right nor am I trying to say that something in physics like light being both a particle and wave depending on the observer fits our human spiritual condition. I just want to open the dialogue. I age, I am imperfect. I have flaws that slow me down, that keep me from what I want to accomplish but also define who I am to others.

We can start with connectivity again - not just our own bodies and minds but the collective existences of all things, of all beings. There is no metric on how we can "relate" or "empathize" with others yet it is something we can all innately do. And thanks to things like art, we can exist beyond our simple language and memories and can experience through observation. A shared symbol, image or sound can create a collective connection.

I've always hated the description of karma as a revenge factor because it's not true. The world is an open system and an infinite amount of good or bad can be put out into the collective. Those who choose evil or negative, rather, gravitate toward the bad things and a choice can be made to move toward the good and accept it in. Seeing the good in others that you want to see in yourself.

But this isn't a monologue. What are your thoughts on spirituality? What have you read, heard... experienced.. that's given you further spiritual awareness. What's brought you connectivity with all the entities within and outside of your own being?  


Two ancestors who have a political past relevant today.

As a genealogist, it's always interesting to come across names in the past that are famous. Through the Trowbridge line, my 40th great-grandfather is Charlemagne. Of course, nearly everyone in the US of European descent is. I was always jealous of my grandmother's sister when I found that she had married directly into Thomas Jefferson's family.

Two of my (probably) great-great-great-great grandparents, one each on my mother and father's sides of the family have very relevant histories associated with them: Thomas Wilson Dorr and John Savage Reed.

Dorr, a Rhode Island governor, was, perhaps, the illegitimate father of my grandfather's great-grandmother, Susan Dorr. The history is complex in this branch as Susan Dorr was raised with brothers all having the "Dorr" last name but their father in many texts as a George Clarke Dorr (who's grave states his name as George Dorr Clarke). Fortunately this is a grave near where I live so further research could be possible. I'd always concluded that trees that listed Thomas Dorr as Susan's father were flawed until reading an old obituary last month from the Norwich Bulletin which listed Governor Dorr as her father. I'm not exactly sure what happened and I would expect the answer is still out there in time, but this should not diminish from the life of Thomas Dorr.

Dorr believed in universal male suffrage while a lawyer in Providence. Before he was governor, only white males who owned land of a certain value could vote. Dorr wanted to make all white landowners able to vote (most of Dorr's works show he had a more universal view toward voting but only felt that this was the first step in allowing all white males to vote). Dorr was elected governor but over thrown which led to the Dorr Rebellion and Dorr's imprisonment. Dorr died a few years after his release.

On my mother's side, John Savage Reed was the lawyer who defended the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. Reed, a self-taught upstate New York, defended Smith for free stating the religious freedom, regardless of the religion, was a staple of US law. Reed, himself not a member of the Church of Later Day Saints, got Smith acquitted and had a son who would move out to Utah and become one of the first governors of the state.

Two very different stories of men who believed in liberty which was denied at the time to all.

More on Dorr and the Dorr Rebellion.

More on John Savage Reed


2016- the year the Yankees should lose

No opening day for Yankees - rain out ... which means if you live in a Comcast area, you don't get to see the Yankees opening day game tomorrow.

When baseball needs to attract fans more than ever, Yankees do the worst job in pro sports at it. The inability to use Print your Own Tickets... the ridiculous infield bowl ticket prices... the fact that it's easier to watch the Mets and Red Sox and Phillies in areas where the markets overlaps.

The best thing that can happen to this franchise this year is a 70-win season, unloading a bunch of the older players and 2 of the bullpen studs before the trade deadline. It's best Tanaka can't pitch most of the year and rests his elbow. Ellsbury and Gardner can hopefully rest as well and let Beltran and his horrible contract take more innings in the outfield.

I've worked in the ticketing industry for almost 15 years now. I saw first-hand what other teams did to make it easier to attract fans. Mets have a promotion with Dunkin Donuts with coupons all over the place - and they won the World Series. Young baseball fans (if there is such a thing) will watch the Mets on TV and in person this year and in my area, not watch the Yankees on TV. They will buy Mets tickets, shirts, etc. for the rest of their lives. The Yankees ditching Stubhub was a selfish, awful decision (Tickets Now is a lower quality product and far less "usable".) I'm still fuming over the fact they didn't reset their inventory after a rainout of a rare Dodger game until it was too late for me to buy the tickets. Never had that problem with Stubhub.

Perhaps ownership will realize it's not the 1990s anymore (financially and entertainment-availability). They are ruining the franchise despite the fact they have two of the best organizational men in baseball (Girardi and Cashman) - imagine the disaster if those guys weren't running the baseball side of things.

*********Update************ After one month:

Didn't watch the Yankees lose today - mostly because I can't due to the Comcast thing. Was thinking about this today from a markets/economy scale. Over time this month, I've found other things to watch besides the Yankees, including watch Mets games. My kids aren't into baseball, but if they were to get into it, who would they watch? Not the Yankees. I had tickets to the game on Thursday but after fiddling around trying to download the ticket QR codes and then having to download another app since they don't use Passbook like everyone else, I ended up getting frustrated and just giving the tickets to a friend.

I've shared before that I've worked in sports management/ticket sales for over a decade. I've never seen an athletic organization make things harder for their fan base than the Yankees have. You should have seen what I saw the Red Sox (let alone teams like the A's with smaller fan bases) do for their fans.

The best thing that could happen to this team is to be god-awful this year, trade 2 of the 3 great bullpen guys and unload one of the old expiring contracts or a starting pitcher. If they limp into another mediocre season and quick playoff exit, maybe Cashman or Girardi (who are both better than anyone who replace them) will get canned and the upper management will think they can get away with screwing their fans because they "are the Yankees". A lousy year would be the kick in the backside they need.

It's not 1999 when they were a dynasty anymore. It's not pre-recession 2007 (where they modeled their ticketing prices) anymore. It's not 2014 with Derek Jeter playing there anymore. This franchise needs to make some major adjustments.


Trump - and personal retrospective.

In one of his viewer question videos, youtuber C.P.G Gray recommends taking time "quarterly" to take an introspective of ones own actions and see what was for the best and what was for the worse. While a formal quarterly self-review is probably not likely or practical for most, now isn't a bad time to use your own social media footprint to see how you have changed and what you were doing and saying years/months/days ago and see the value it added to your life. I recommend it. I did this instantly and was pleasantly surprised.

I call this the "Donald Trump" retrospective.

We all have that crazy facebook friend or relative who goes on and on about their love of Donald Trump. Awhile back there was a thread on social media about "how to find your friends who support Donald Trump" (which for me ended up mostly being friends who were following Trump on Facebook purely to troll the Trump supporters). I found something interesting - nearly every Donald Trump supporter I knew posted incessantly about the Ebola virus. It turns out, much like the George W. Bush or Barack Obama's presidencies, Ebola did not destroy the world or the US or spread Islam, or war or socialism. People who always think the past was better and teenagers today are awful (cannot stress enough: Watch the vsauce video on "Juvenoia") 

"Really reactionary folks... not too bright," I thought. 

But what good does judging others do? You certainly aren't going to "wise someone up" (educate yourself sheeple!) How about improving yourself? 

  • I'm much less angry toward people I disagree with.
  • My views on gun control have gotten more moderate (still no fan of guns, referring to the laws).
  • I tend to feel like I have more understanding and forgiveness or empathy toward people who have totally different views on life... "in their shoes".
  • I've cut ties with people who are homophobic, anti-certain religions (you can see who you've removed from your newsfeed on facebook for this sort of thing).
  • I like people who are weird, different.
  • I'm a less active facebook user than I used to be. I rarely post anything political. It's mostly pictures of the kids and traveling.
  • I'm definitely a "logic person", not a fear-driven person. I do have trouble dealing with people who go "with the gut" rather than the "head".
  • Satire is my favorite form of discourse.
  • I value people who are important to me. 
Social media is a big thing for me. I've worked from home the past six years. Some family has moved away, started their own families and the same is true of close friends I rarely see anymore. I've connected more with people I've talked with more on social media than I did first in person, high school friends, co-workers, etc. This is a great foot print for me to go back and not only appreciate the fun things I've done as a parent and working in the entertainment industry the past dozen years, but also to see how I've changed - and where I need to keep making myself better. I'll keep that list to myself however.

So you see the Trump supporters on social media... rather than responding back with vitriol, it's more worth your time to "close that window" or "hide that story" and look at your own self. What did you do that you "cringe" about five years later? What changes have you made? Where can you keep improving?


The second half....

Coming up on a big birthday "milestone". Following the example of previous men in my family, heading toward the halfway mark on my journey through life. I've done a ton and have so many reasons to be grateful... looking at pictures... so many great memories. I'd say unlike most people, my childhood was not the time I look back on the most fondly; it was more my 20s and 30s that brought me joy. But the fact that I had those two productive, great decades doesn't make me nostalgic for the past.

But what now? Life is busy, challenging but also comfortable. It's been 6 years since I worked a job in an office. My kitchen, dining room and basement desks have been my "office" since 2009. I've come to enjoy the quiet, listening to the sounds the outdoors make or the sounds my house makes. It's never fully silent.

There's so much more I want to do. I think of my grandfather building a house... what it would be like to drive by a house you built. I think of the places I've not been yet. I've been nearly everywhere in the USA at this point other than the Pacific Northwest and New Orleans - those are the last two. Maybe write another book? It's less likely at this point. I've accomplished much in writing, more than I ever expected in music. I've become a father - an unending challenge but one I'm comfortable with. I've even started to paint (not good at this yet.. but I have time).

I might want to build something that's going to outlive me.

These upcoming years are mostly ones (until the end) where I will control the outcome. But also I will experience limitations I've never felt before, be it need for sleep, lack of physical strength or mental strain. Anger.. the great motivator for me for so long... it can't be that way. I remember everything but it's a curse when I remember the mistreatment by others.

God give me the strength to enjoy life, be proud of myself. Have pride in who I am.


One Party Country

Amid the fun everyone had with Donald Trump "losing" (aka getting one less delegate than Ted Cruz) last night, a sharp reminder was issued. With the democrats failing to embrace Hillary Clinton and the Republicans choosing Ted Cruz, we are just this much closer to having one party control our entire government.

The irony of this shouldn't be lost on the fact that the far-right tea party movement of the republican party is running on an "anti-government sentiment" despite controlling the house, senate, supreme court and majority of governorships (I refuse to refer to the tea party as a separate entity than republicans because they only support republican candidates).The consequences would be dire; decades of "progress" lost. Obamacare. The very mild tax reform done by Obama. Gone. Those "loop holes in tax laws" (which, by the way are things like day care and mortgage exemptions). Gone. Environmental laws (Cruz has attacked already). Gone. The deal with Iran. Gone. Roe v. Wade? Equal rights' for gays. Anti-Muslim laws. Help for refugees... the list goes on and on.

If you think I'm trying to scare you - I am. We are this close to this happening. Republicans will never lose the house (check out the way the house districts are drawn in red states with blue areas). Senate will be tough to lose as well because there are a lot of small states population-wise that are republican states. This is a long-term (more than 10 years) thing.

Republicans are voting on fear and "gut". Us non-republicans can continue to point out that our most recent example of a Republican president was George W. Bush (an utter failure), and we are right; but they will only link it to "Obama blaming things on..." arguments. Republicans aren't voting as libertarians (check out Rand Paul's numbers) or as moderates (sorry John Kasich). The voting is emotion. I heard one interview with a democrat caucus attendee who was torn voting for Hillary Clinton and said "his heart said Bernie and his head said Hillary and he went with his head." These republicans who all vote, trust me, ALL VOTE, will all be out there voting against moderates and liberals, they vote with the gut, the fear and the heart. They vote for a Christian ideal (not the type of Christianity shown by Pope Benedict, the kind driven by love, but the kind of Christianity of Phil Robertson).

A lot of Republicans are older. They are not in the primes of their life anymore. They can't physically or mentally do what they used to do. The brain naturally blames someone else (muslims, atheists, liberals... whatever.. it's always someone else's fault). The ideal 1960s America never existed no matter how many times you vote for candidates that are going to cut your pensions, raise your relative tax rates vs. the rich and start numerous military conflicts rather than try to negotiate a peace. Sorry.

And you non-republicans... that's what you are up against. Obama isn't the anti-Christ, he's sort of a mediocre-to-decent president... no single payer, Git-Mo is still open and the government is no more transparent than it was under Bush. But for most people the economy is better, there are jobs (albeit not high paying ones - but I'm sure a corporatist republican government would just kill the middle class more than Obama anyway). No party, democrat or republican is going to produce a better president than Obama is now, especially not in the first two years of the presidency when Obama was not a strong leader. This is the time to start looking very hard at Sanders and Clinton - who can win the general election. Clinton did not cut Obama badly in the primary. She's been soft on Sanders thus far, even softer than she was on Obama. Hillary isn't my ideal president because she is a corporatist (just as much as Obama is). Sure, we'd love Sanders but is that just unrealistic at this point?

I'll paint the bleak picture of a full-republican government control in 3 years from now. No Obamacare... health care companies have no competition so premiums are higher than ever. The rich are richer than they were under Obama. The poor are poorer (but they'll have no trouble getting guns). We are likely at war and still running up a debt. Gas prices are higher because of the war. We are one nation on the evangelicals image of God.

We are screwed.

We are that close to being completely screwed.


Gun Control stat arguments are dumb other than the simplest ones: If you don't have a gun, you won't shoot someone.

Gun Control stat arguments are dumb. "Stats" should be in parenthesis since the Center for Disease Control can't track gun deaths nor does the federal government enforce the existing gun control laws to begin with, let alone pass the most simple reform (no fly list people buying guns).

Had fun with this exchange:

Gun guy: There are stricter gun laws in Chicago than Houston and look how many shootings there are in Chicago compared to Houston.

Other guy: Gun laws are as strict in New York City as Chicago, yet New York City has 10 times fewer shootings per population than Chicago.

Gun guy: Well, that's cause all the bankers live there, besides New York City is a lot larger so it's not a fair comparison.

Other guy: OK, Arkansas has roughly the same population as Connecticut, which has some of the nations stricter laws, yet Arkansas has 3 times more gun deaths than Connecticut.

Gun guy: Connecticut doesn't have any large cities.

Other guy: Other than the fact you just assume shootings are inner cities, Connecticut's 4 largest cities all have higher population density than Arkansas's 4 largest.

Gun guy: Well, Connecticut is a wealthier state with a better standard of living.

Other guy: And liberal democrats and moderate republicans running the state. Also a more secular population. So are you saying that liberal atheists are the key factor in gun safety? I keep reading how bad Connecticut is and the economy, but gun deaths are decreasing there.

I just want to shout out: It's the culture, not the laws.


Look up here, I'm in heaven

David Bowie 1947-2016

There's been a ton of well-written, thoughtful and personal tributes to David Bowie posted online by fans, musicians and people who knew David Bowie. I wouldn't both trying to top them; what was said of his influence, his range and his plasticity is too apparent to be denied.

Just days before his death, Bowie released his final recording Blackstar including videos "Blackstar" (released in November) and "Lazarus" (released two days before his death). While the music video media form has been going the way of the compact disc ever since MTV started reality television programming, the "Lazarus" video may be the most important message Bowie has left his fans.

In perhaps the a way only someone as intimate but flamboyant as Bowie could do, the artist released a video documenting his own realization of his mortality just hours before his own death. Bowie was "out there" in public but so private that he hid his illness from close friends (according to producer Brian Eno) - yet from the opening moments of the video showing Bowie's wrinkled hands and slender cheeks and chin, he's told the world he knows this will be his final act. 

Walking back from work today a restaurant was playing "Under Pressure" and all I could think was that both of those voices are eternally silent now. It was like that moment when you find out an older family member has died, as if they were immortal until you were shocked and found out they weren't. No one is.