Election 2016

As a republican and conservative, I have some strong political opinions. The vast majority of these opinions can be lumped under the broad categories of “LESS GOVERNMENT AND MORE (national and local) SECURITY”.  My political views have absolutely nothing to do with the issues that the press and apparently many of my liberal friends believe I stand for (or against).  I am NOT a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, uneducated “deplorable”.  I find it ironic that some liberals who preach tolerance and sensitivity with regard to most issues are not tolerant of Trump supporters (or even Christians at times).  We talk about how college students are subjected to ‘micro-aggressions’ and we are told that Halloween costumes and school mascots are offensive.  At the same time, conservatives are subjected to ‘micro-aggressions’ in their workplaces that aren’t nearly as subtle.  Think about what it means to be prejudiced.  You are lumping a person into a broad (negative) category based on a single or few characteristics.  It’s not ok to be prejudiced against someone based on ethnicity, race, sexual identity/orientation etc.  Why then, is it ok to lump Trump supporters into a basket of deplorables?  I am extremely sad to think that many of my liberal colleagues believe that I supported our president elect because he is a racist, sexist bully and/or because I am ignorant or just mean spirited with regard to social issues.  Although Donald Trump has made comments that certainly make him sound bad—I do not believe that this is who he -and even if it is there are unfortunately much more important issues facing our country right now-(LESS GOVERNMENT-MORE SECURITY).  I think many of us have on occasion made inappropriate comments (hopefully either in the privacy of our own homes or at the very least in a non-recorded setting) that we regret.  There is no simple cure for the ‘isms’ but taking a knee during the national anthem or calling a large portion our nation deplorables (or enemies) clearly does not inspire unity.  The press attributing all sorts of mean spirited (and ignorant) motives to the Donald Trump “movement” also does not help.  I believe that the only way to combat the ‘isms’ is to make sure that ALL of our interactions with people who are different from us (including those with different opinions) are completely respectful.  Believe it or not, I am proposing that this respectfulness include not just liberals but republicans, conservatives, Christians, police officers and even those oppressive white males!  Furthermore, if at all possible, we should be respectful when interacting with the racist, sexist etc. deplorables.  If we can find a way to make a single person see his own intolerance, we are making a small difference.  There is no simple answer for intolerance, however it is not possible to legislate good behavior (LESS GOVERNMENT please).  I hope the press and all Americans will give our new president a chance to tackle the important problems facing our nation.  We need to end the divisiveness and work together.


alcohol pairings

This is a helpful post for those of you who see things on menus, in particular drink menus, that sound intriguing and therefore order it just to find out.

Short list of alcohol related drinks that sound weird enough to be good… but definitely are not.

salmon infused vodka

-tried it at that watermelon fuzi bar in Alaska–stick with the watermelon fuzis

skinny girl margarita

-should have been obvious to me that this would be awful – same bar in Alaska …I think, I guess the watermelon fuzis impaired my judgement

bacon grease infused whiskey

-not even good enough to put in a Bloody Mary, not sure what we were thinking with this one

bay seasoning infused beer

-sounded like something worth trying while in Baltimore…not.

coffee and cigarette martini

-this was on a menu in Durango.  even without the tobacco infused vodka it tasted like someone put his cigarette out in my drink  couldn’t detect the coffee though.  The bartender at a nearby brewery said she had to drink three more drinks to get the taste out of her mouth after trying one of these.  I was just happy to hear that I was not the only idiot who tried it.

The bartender mentioned above had another useful tip.  I asked to taste the mead that they had on draft and after I said …yeah, I guess I knew I wouldn’t like it, I don’t think I’ve ever had a mead  that I really like.  she said ‘I’m not sure why we’re trying to bring mead back after it took a few hundred years to get past it’.  ditto for moonshine.

You’re very welcome for the helpful tips,



Neck tattoos

New Mexico needs to draft legislation to eliminate neck tattoos.  In photos of criminals shown on morning news programs in ABQ, NM, approximately 90% of violent criminals have neck tattoos.  According to my estimates this means that up to 60% of violent criminals in the state of NM have neck tattoos.  Therefore, in an effort to reduce violent crime; we must pass legislation to outlaw neck tattoos or to at least make it very difficult to get neck tattoos.  Also, we must prosecute owners of tattoo parlors and their employees who are involved in creating these neck tattoos that clearly incite criminal behavior.

Raylan Givens quote

You run into an @hole in the morning, you ran into an @hole. You run into @holes all day long, you’re the @hole.

The writers for justified are wonderful! Lots of great quotes on that show.

The Tree of Life: a brief movie review

OK.  I was forwarned that this movie was ‘bad’. 

I found this review online:

The Tree of Life is maddening, exhilarating, gorgeous, ponderous, insightful, pretentious, epic, shallow, beautiful, and strange — essentially the apotheosis of Terrence Malick’s entire career. It will divide audiences like few films have in recent years.

The movie, which exists as a metaphysical meditation and a lyrical poem, focuses – at a microcosmic level – on the story of Jack, a jaded, middle aged man (played by Sean Penn) scarred by the memories of an oppressive upbringing by his father (Brad Pitt), as well as the untimely death of his younger brother.

Like all Malick movies, however, the plot is simply window dressing for the grand philosophical questions the director has been chasing for nearly four decades: the struggle between nature and grace, the duality of man, the meaning of life, and a sense of understanding and reconciliation amidst the chaos and suffering of it all. (editors note:  blah blah blah)

While the film makes several missteps and is saddled with an inelegant conclusion, the sheer audacity and vision of a director willing to tackle these weighty metaphysical questions in such an unconventional, non-mainstream manner must be applauded (editors note:  OR NOT).

My review is much shorter:

That’s 2 and a half hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

P.S.  Aldo picked it. 

Oh… and parts of it were quite beautiful. 

P.P.S.  not sure why I was inspired to post this review.  watched Silent Running and Midnight Cowboy again–silent running was a bit of a spaghettio moment (not as good as remembered), but Midnight Cowboy withstood the test of time (more or less)….again Aldo picked them.

Why I haven’t posted recently

Just because you’re a hypochondriac doesn’t mean you won’t get a disease.  I admit to being a bit of a hypochondriac and I was diagnosed with breast cancer this April.  First I’d like to mention a website that I found useful:  http://community.breastcancer.org/   I don’t know the specifics of how it is sponsored/moderated etc, but it’s basically a bunch of women with breast cancer (or worried about breast cancer) who interact in a supportive manner. 

If you’re a hypochondriac, you probably already get your regular mammograms, but a word of caution.  I had a mammogram in Dec 2011 and was called in the next week for additional views which were subsequently read as ‘negative’.  When I felt a lump 3 months later, April 1st (yep April Fools day), a third mammogram of the same breast was again read as ‘negative’.  No one at the breast center had the necessary ‘expertise’ to palpate the mass, which seemed a bit odd.  I felt like I had to insist on an ultrasound, which was read as highly suspicious and therefore followed by a biopsy.  I had my excisional biopsy shortly thereafter.  My main point is that a negative mammogram could have given me a false sense of security.  I have read that monthly breast self exams are not absolutely recommended; but the reasons given don’t make much sense to me.  Reasons such as…  it may produce unnecessary anxiety, some women are intimidated by the process etc.  My suggestion is to not ‘worry’ about the breast exam; just DO it, and don’t even try to follow some specific protocol, although I would include an exam standing and an exam lying down (my lump was only palpable while lying down, and I’ve heard the opposite story as well).  I agree that trying to follow a specific protocol is somewhat ‘intimidating’.  So don’t bother.  Just feel your (entire) breasts periodically and if you aren’t sure if you feel anything weird or unusual, then don’t worry about it for another month.  Lots of women say ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for’.  I can assure you that my lump was not something subtle.  It felt very hard and very different from my usual lumpy stuff.  If nothing strikes you as worrisome, you’re probably ok to not worry.

Another related comment about mammograms.  Ask your doctor if you have dense breasts.  Apparently there is good evidence that women with (very) dense breasts on mammogram are at increased risk for developing cancer.  It seems strange to me that of all the risk factors we seem to hear frequently about (estrogen, lack of child bearing, alcohol); dense breasts is rarely mentioned.  I might have been more conscientious about my breast self exams had I been aware of the increased risk and notorious unreliability of mammograms in women with dense breasts.  Also, it seems to me the radiologist should have suggested the ultrasound instead of repeating the mammogram back in December.  The good news is that most breast cancer is highly treatable these days.  Lumpectomies are a frequent option for smaller tumors, for some women sentinel lymph node sampling protocols have minimized symptoms and genetic testing of the tumor (oncotype score) helps women decide whether or not they need chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy was fairly easy for me and so far tamoxifen has not caused any definite symptoms.  In summary, get your mammograms, do your breast self exams (monthly) and find out if you have very dense breasts.

Oh… and the other reason I haven’t posted recently… I moved back to the Southwest and got a new job.

Why Squirrels Dart out in Front of Cars

My first short story.

OK, I admit it, it’s just a political rant.

Big Red was well respected even though he wasn’t exactly the friendly type.  Luckily, Mrs. Red and most of the younger Reds were more neighborly than dad.  What Big Red did have was an impressive talent for finding the best hiding places for his acorns and for protecting them from predators.  He also had a reputation for constantly nagging the younger generation to store as many acorns as possible during the warmer months.  Most of the young squirrels had grown tired of listening to Red’s diatribes about the importance of planning and personal responsibility.

During hoarding season, Mrs. Red’s talent was selecting and hiring the best workers for a specific job.  When folks asked the Reds if they could join their acorn storing enterprise, the Reds were always happy to include the newcomers.  Mrs. Red could tell which squirrels were clever and should focus on learning how to find the best hiding places and she knew which squirrels were better off hauling the acorns or digging and covering up.  She also knew which ones didn’t really want to work at all and she was quick to eliminate them from the process.  Pretty soon the red squirrels had put together an intricate network of acorn hoarding squirrels which efficiently collected and stored plenty of food for the workers and their families.

Bark was a different kind of squirrel.  He was an intellectual and didn’t believe in spending time on mundane efforts such as collecting and hiding acorns.  He was not greedy and he believed that no one squirrel should hoard more acorns than he needed for himself and his family.  He therefore had no respect for the vast hoarding empire built by Red and his family.  Bark’s greatest interest was in improving living conditions for the squirrels in the neighborhood.  All the squirrels loved to hear him speak because he always talked about how in the future, squirrels would live in larger more beautiful nests and winters would be much shorter and there would be plenty of good food for everyone year round.  Bark was a huge fan of dumpster food, it was better than acorns because it was free and readily available.  He loved the hamburgers, french fries, popcorn and cheese curds that the other squirrels sometimes brought for him when they came to hear him speak.

One day Bark was approached by a young female squirrel named Demi.  Demi had suffered a major tragedy early in life when her fiancé was killed by a car, leaving Demi to raise 8 baby squirrels on her own.  She was frustrated because her young children seemed to always be in trouble and she was angry at the ongoing traffic problem that they and the other neighborhood children faced every time they needed to cross the street.  Bark was a big believer in solving social issues and he was sure he could help the community find a solution for the problem of road safety.  Bark asked a good friend of his, who he knew to be the smartest squirrel in the neighborhood, what he thought of the car vs. squirrel problem.

Joe was extremely well educated and also devoted to social justice.  He had a quick answer since watching cars was a passion of his and had spent all of his time studying them.  Car studying was Joes occupation.  Joe would cross the street at various times of the day and at various speeds in various parts of town.  He was extremely proud of his ability to out run the cars and loved showing off his skills.  He became an extremely well respected street crossing expert.  I know what we have to do, Joe said.  We need to train the cars to swerve when they see us.  He had noticed that after crossing the street in front of cars over and over again, eventually, one of the cars would swerve to miss hitting him.  He offered to teach all the squirrels in the neighborhood using his innovative method of darting out in front of a car and pausing for a moment before continuing briskly across the street.  He had proven that the longer he was able to pause and make eye contact with the headlights, the more likely the car was to swerve.

Meanwhile, the red clan had started a robust economy of trading goods and services throughout the community and between neighborhoods.  There seemed to be plenty of acorns stored for winter so the excess was exchanged for nest upgrades, the highly sought after dumpster food and entertainment.  The squirrels that liked dumpster diving always found it easy to trade dumpster food for acorns that would get them through a long harsh winter if necessary.

Some of the gray squirrels were annoyed by the greed of the red hoarder squirrels and complained to Bark that while they focused their energies on the greater good of the community by sending their children to be educated by Joe and his colleagues in the intricacies of car chasing, the red squirrels spent all their time hoarding acorns, upgrading their nests and having fun.  They believed that the acorn hoarders should make their resources available to all squirrels equally, not just other hoarder squirrels.  Pretty soon a whole network of policy makers was hired to address problems of inequality and a whole system of law enforcement rose up to insure that every squirrel participated in activities that Bark believed to be in the best interest of the neighborhood.  Experts were hired to oversee every aspect of collecting acorn taxes and spending them for the greater good of the neighborhood.

Committees of gray squirrels decided that the red squirrels must be pay 1/3 of their acorns to the gray squirrels because obviously the more time the gray squirrels devoted to the greater good, the less time they had to gather acorns for themselves, and their families.  Many of the socially responsible squirrels were angry because the red squirrels continued to have plenty of time for trading and buying nice things for their nest.  It just wasn’t fair because the gray squirrels worked long hours to create policies, hire experts and enforce rules.  They focused a lot of energy on improving the car chasing educational system so that more and more squirrels could learn the car training exercises that would some day make all squirrels safe from cars.

Most of the red squirrels minimized their involvement in car training planning meetings, car training tax enforcement and car training research endeavors.  Some thought that car training was not a good idea and that the car training exercises weren’t working because it was beginning to appear as though cars were not even trainable for some strange reason.  Red squirrels rarely voiced these opinions in front of gray squirrels because it made the gray squirrels very angry.  Sometimes the red squirrels even felt guilty for not participating in car chasing activities.  They wanted to be sympathetic to the sacrifices made by the socially conscious car chasers.  Some red squirrels actually believed that car chasing was important, but that it was too expensive and too dangerous and that avoiding the streets at ground level was a much better solution to the problem.  For the most part, the red squirrels stuck to an above ground system of crossing streets.  They would jump from rooftop, to tree to cable to tree etc. instead of crossing at street level.

Many of the gray squirrels became quite bitter when they saw that even with the major car training efforts and endless studies, grants to experts and oversight committees; the car problem was not improving.  Clearly they needed to devote more resources to the problem.  Other than the chronic lack of resources for their efforts, the main reason for the slow progress was that many of the red squirrels refused to send their children to car training school or to even cross the street at ground level.  Bark decided to pass some more laws requiring all schools to teach car training.  He also insisted that the red squirrels contribute more to car training efforts in their neighborhoods.  He said that the car training schools needed to be more diverse and that every squirrel, no matter what his beliefs or abilities, needed to learn that the only true solution to the car problem was implementing the tried and true car darting method developed by Joe and other government experts.

Winter was harsh that year.  Red and Mrs. Red and all of the other squirrels who contributed to the greedy, hoarding effort all summer long found themselves reaching out to the gray squirrels.  The gray squirrels took the hand-outs but it hurt their pride to be dependent on those awful, greedy, red squirrels.  The following spring, they went to Bark and told him that they didn’t think they should have to ask the greedy people for help when they had worked just as hard for just as many hours as the red squirrels.  It wasn’t their fault that they weren’t making progress with the car training efforts.  Bark agreed and passed a law mandating that any squirrel family that had more than a 1 month supply of acorns be required to give all but what he needed in the immediate future to the government so that car chasing efforts could be increased.  Of course this meant that a whole new enforcement agency would have to be created to oversee the collections.  Bark knew this was a good idea because it would create more census taking, and tax collecting jobs and therefore stimulate the economy.

Pretty soon, the red squirrels quit hoarding acorns.  There was no point in collecting more than they could use in a few days as the rest went directly to the government.  They would gather just enough acorns for their families; then they would spend their time looking for other non-perishable food items that they could quietly hide away.  In their free time, some of the red squirrels got together to talk about how they could bring back the system of wealth and trading that had existed in the old days.  Big Red even suggested that maybe car chasing wasn’t a worthwhile endeavor and that maybe only the squirrels who believed strongly in car chasing should be required to spend their time learning the techniques or devoting resources to the infrastructure associated with supporting the whole car chasing philosophy.  Many of the red squirrels found it difficult to understand why the car chasing experiment was not seen as a failure but rather as a highly successful socially responsible experiment.  Eventually, some of the gray squirrels also came to Big Red asking for advice.  They were afraid they wouldn’t have enough acorns for the winter and they wanted to know if Red had any good ideas.

Bark was still telling his followers that they needed to spend more time building and improving the governmental car chasing infrastructure.  He found the smartest squirrels he could to find and asked them to find even better ways to make sure that all cars were well trained within the next few years.  He knew that the red squirrels would have to step up and gather more acorns to devote to all of the many governmental processes dedicated to the greater good of squirrelkind.  Bark truely could not understand why the red squirrels were gathering and storing fewer and fewer acorns in a time of such great need.

Finally, Red gathered together all the squirrels that had helped him hoard acorns over the years.  He explained that although many squirrels thought it important to spend vast resources on the car chasing projects and its massive associated governmental infrastructure, none of this had benefitted society as Bark had predicted.  Something did not seem to be working.  Red knew that many squirrels would die of starvation this winter because acorn hoarding had essentially come to a halt.  Although Red and his family had found a few substitutes that they believed would get friends and family through the winter, he was sure that many of the car chasing squirrels would not survive.  He and several of the other red squirrels and a few of the gray squirrels who saw the benefits of hoarding acorns started a campaign to convince the gray, car chasing squirrels that only 20% of the hoarded acorns could be used in the car chasing efforts.  Many squirrels in all aspects of governmental car chasing industries from the top down were horrified that the red squirrels could be so stupid and insensitive toward the plight of the squirrels who continued to risk their lives every day, bravely darting in front of cars, while the red squirrels simply created separate above ground street crossings.  They set up protests and picketed the greedy red squirrels.  They created organizations to find ways to increase the amount of acorns devoted to car chasing projects, but to no avail.  Acorns were in short supply throughout the neighborhood because hoarding activities had essentially ceased.

That winter was tough.  Many gray squirrels died of exposure and starvation.  The following spring the remaining squirrels could see that hoarding and greedy behavior was a necessary evil of society that they would learn to tolerate as long as 1/3 of all acorn collections were devoted to car chasing related activities.  The red squirrels went back to hoarding acorns, but they also diversified and hoarded other less perishable goods.  Eventually trading resumed and a strong economy was restored.  Car chasing activities resumed at a slightly slower pace than the previous year.  Of course the gray squirrels vowed to increase taxes on stored acorns once again because progress solving the car problem was still slow and they clearly needed to ramp up their car training efforts since they had not yet devoted enough resources to completely eradicate the problem.  But one day they were sure the red squirrels would cease their greedy hoarding and join their efforts to create a utopian society in which cars had learned to swerve and miss squirrels reliably every time.