Bullet Journal

December Bullet Journal Cover

Here is my December 2020 bullet journal cover. Full size is 420 x 595 pixels and fits an A5 journal page. Feel free to download it for your own journal, if you wish.

I’m currently working on my December spreads.

As usual, I will be including the following:

  1. Weather
  2. Sleeping
  3. Productivity Tracker
  4. Steps / Moods
  5. Reading

I will be adding these spreads this month:

  1. Writing / Blogging Tracker
  2. Podcast page
  3. YouTube video ARC review schedule (more on that soon)
  4. Yearly favorites page – YouTube videos and songs
  5. Best 5-star books I read this year (will post it on my blog, too)
  6. Top news stories of the year – blog version, too
  7. Dear Future Me – may post a blog version
  8. Vacation Ideas
  9. Places we’ve been (Kevin and I lose track!)
  10. Goals wrap up
  11. Photo of the month?

You know, I was happy getting back to a minimalist approach to my journal but the more I watch bullet journal videos, the more excited I get to add more spreads.

And of course, there are the pages I use for journaling because it’s a journal after all. I had 12 journaling pages this month. (Private thoughts, not for public consumption).

Here are some pictures from November:

My sleep and reading tracker. I haven’t quite decided if I like this type of sleep tracker, but I haven’t found any other tracker that I like better, so … and my reading tracker, I only read two books this month. FAIL. But, I was so focused on NaNoWriMo I just didn’t have the time, nor the energy, to read. I plan on catching up in December though – my goal is to read 90 books and I’m currently at 83.

Here is my NaNoWriMo spread. I don’t know why I made the right-side spread to 95K – AS IF! haha! But I do like seeing my word count at a glance. I plan on continuing this in December. As you can see, I didn’t write every day in November – my brain wouldn’t allow that. I did “reward” myself though, which was fun. I didn’t write it in, but I plan on buying myself some wireless earbuds as I plan on getting back to walking in December.

I am having so much fun with my productivity tracker. It changes each month, for example, I will be adding a walking icon for next month, and a painting icon (I plan on working on a paint-by-number for my office – because let’s face it, I’m not an artist and I need all the help I can get), and the Christmas shopping icon will go away as I already have all of my Christmas shopping done. And some days, like the 10th, all I had energy for was getting through clinic that day. I tell ya, dealing with people is EXHAUSTING.

And lastly, my weather, steps and moods tracker. I love keeping track of the weather. Kevin and I are always “arguing” about it not being this cold last year, or whatever, and now I can pull my journals out and show him I’m right. HA! I would like to spice up my steps/moods tracker though – how boring. I went this route on the moods tracker because I wanted to broaden my moods horizon. I’m never just happy, sad, angry or meh. I’m ALL the feels. *smirk*

By the way, I found this super cute pencil case for the journaler/writer in your life, if you need a gift idea. The kitty head slides down when opened so you can get to your pens/pencils, then slides back up to close. (not sponsored)

RIGHT?!? You’re welcome. 🙂

See? This is why you should follow me – you never know what sort of information you’re going to get from me. 

Happy journaling!

NaNoWriMo2020

Jax’s Pre-Story

(warning – language)

“Hey,” Jax said as he walked into the house.

“Hey,” Bethany answered without looking up from her phone.

Jax walked past his wife and shrugged out of his jacket tossing it across the back of his recliner. He peeled off his gun holster and walked into their bedroom to lock the gun in the safe. Even though guns were a big part of his life, he didn’t want his daughter to accidentally get a hold of them. Especially while she was young. He would teach her gun responsibility once she was old enough to understand and respect firearms and the importance of handling them correctly.

He washed his hands studying his reflection in the mirror. He looked tired. Light purple bags underscored his eyes and the fine lines around his mouth were more grooved. But that was to be expected, he supposed, having a three month old in the house that still wasn’t sleeping the whole night.

He peeked around the corner of the baby’s room. Gabriella was staring up at the mobile softly swinging above her. He smiled.

“Hey Gabi,” he said softly so as not to startle her. “I see you’re awake. Are you ready to join the land of the living?” He paused at the edge of her crib and gazed down at his beautiful daughter. She was his perfect angel. She had his dark hazel eyes and her mother’s heart-shaped mouth. She grinned up at him, a spit bubble popping near the corner of her mouth. He chuckled and reached down to scoop her up. Her small head fit his larger hand perfectly as he placed her against his chest. She snuggled against his shoulder and began rooting around.

“I see you’re hungry. Let’s go hunt mom down.” He carried her securely against him and walked back into the kitchen.

Bethany was busy tapping away on her phone. She was so engrossed in her conversation that she didn’t realize Jax was standing next to her until he cleared his throat.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Oh,” she squeaked out a nervous chuckle. “No one. Just responding to a Facebook post.”

“Bullshit.” He ground his teeth in irritation and narrowed his eyes. “You’re talking to HIM, aren’t you?”

She sighed and put her phone down while reaching for Gabi. “Don’t start, Jax. Jealously is not an attractive trait.”

He released his hold on Gabi and watched her carry their daughter to the sofa and settle down to breastfeed her.

“You could at least have the decency to not communicate with ‘your friend’ while I’m here,” he ground out and moved back to the kitchen. “And I could give a shit if you talk to him, just don’t do it in front of me.” He looked around the kitchen then opened the oven to peer inside. “What’s for dinner?”

“Whatever you’re making,” she responded while smiling down at her daughter who was now happily suckling away.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Look Bethany. I don’t expect you to be Betty Crocker but you’re home all day, the least you could do is fix dinner.”

“I didn’t have time.”

“Time from what?”

She kissed her daughter’s forehead before looking toward him. “Why do we have to have this conversation every night? I have responsibilities, Jax. Social media may not be a traditional 9-to-5 ‘job’ to you, but trust me, it’s very time consuming and I’m starting to make money from my videos and Instagram posts so … get over it.”

“But it’s taking time away from our daughter. How long was she awake in her crib? And there are dried tears on her cheeks. How long was she crying? Did you even know she was crying?”

Bethany continued to gaze down at Gabi with a soft smile and in a sweet, baby voice, she said, “Fuck you, Jax.”

He sighed and opened the fridge to gauge the food inventory. They had half a gallon of milk, a container of cottage cheese and an onion. He walked over to the pantry and yanked open the door. Three cans of pinto beans, half a package of spaghetti noodles and soy sauce. He slammed the door which startled Gabi who disconnected from Bethany to let out a startled cry.

“Shh,” Bethany soothed and rubbed her cheek. “Daddy is in a pissy mood, as usual. Just ignore him.”

“Seriously. There is nothing to eat!” He pulled out his phone to look at eating apps.

“Don’t order pizza. My waistline can’t take much more bread.”

“Yeah. You wouldn’t want to get fat for your boyfriend.”

Bethany lifted Gabi and placed her on her shoulder and began patting her back. “Jax, we talked about this. Are you seriously jealous? I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m a social media influencer. I’m going to have to interact with my fans, I can’t just ignore them!”

He ran a hand down the scruff of his 5 o’clock shadow. “Maybe you need to find another job. It’s killing our marriage.”

“It’s only killing our marriage because you’re allowing it to. Stop being so insecure. Also, what marriage?” A deep-seated burp emitted from Gabi and Bethany stood up. “Good one, baby girl.” She walked over and handed Gabi to Jax. “Can you take her for a while? I need to answer some emails.”

“Sure.” He grinned softly at his daughter who was drunk on milk and she cooed at him. His heart melted and he kissed her cheek while tickling her ribs. She erupted in giggles and his grin morphed into a full-fledged smile. “Come on, princess, let’s go grab some grub, shall well?” He grabbed the diaper bag that was always packed and ready by the door and without a backward glance, he left the house.

They arrived at the store and Jax slipped on the baby carrier. He had never used it before but had put it on just to figure out how it worked. He unsnapped Gabi from her car seat and tried to slip her inside the carrier but she was kicking her chubby little legs so much he couldn’t get her in.

“Listen here you little squirmy monkey,” he laughed as he tried to navigate her into the carrier.

“Do you need some help?” an attractive 20-something woman said as she was walking past.

“Actually, yes, if you don’t mind. Could you hold the carrier open while I put her inside?”

“No problem,” she said and moved forward to grab hold of the carrier and open it wide enough for him to put Gabi inside.

Gabi settled in with a squirm and flashed him a toothless grin.

“Thank you. I’m not sure I could have made that work on my own,” Jax grinned at the woman and moved to grab the diaper bag and shut the door.

“Glad to help. I have a niece about her age and I know my sister has a hard time getting her settled sometimes.”

Jax could tell she was interested in him and he tried not appear rude as he started walking away.

“Is that your daughter?”

“Yes,” he said while grabbing a cart from an outside cart corral. “I’m just running in to grab some dinner for my wife.”

“Ah,” she said, getting the hint. “Lucky woman. Well, take care.”

“Yeah, you too,” he said and nearly laughed out loud. Lucky woman indeed. He was pretty sure she didn’t feel she was lucky in their relationship.

Or whatever it was they were doing. Co-habituating maybe?

He snorted in disgust and pushed the cart into the store. What the hell was he doing? Was this really how he wanted to live his life? They hadn’t had sex since Gabi was born though he knew that women had to wait a while after giving birth before they were cleared to have sex, he knew for a fact that Bethany’s doctor had cleared her a long time ago. But somehow, neither one of them wanted to instigate anything.

It wasn’t that he didn’t find her attractive. He wasn’t one of those guys that lost sexual interest once the woman had given birth, he just wasn’t … interested. They had both been very into one another before they got married, in fact, that’s why they had gotten married so quickly, because she had gotten pregnant with Gabi and he wanted to do the right thing. He didn’t regret Gabi, not one bit, but he certainly wished he and Bethany had gotten to know each other first and were more careful before becoming an instant family.

He absently placed items in the cart while thinking over his relationship. Gabi was content to look at the lights, the colors and listen to passing people in her carrier. She really was a good baby. He just hoped he would be a good enough dad to her.

But did he really want to raise her with Bethany? He could tell she was pulling away. In fact, if he was being honest, he got the impression she lost interest shortly before she announced she was pregnant with Gabi.

God. What a clusterfuck. He should have listened to his father and not jumped into the whole  marriage thing. Raising a child as a single parent wasn’t ideal, but was it any better to raise a child in a loveless marriage?

Jax was in line checking out when Gabi started to get restless. She began to whimper and the cashier worked hard to keep her entertained while Jax hurriedly placed his items on the belt so they could leave. By the time he got back to the car, Gabi was in full crisis mode, screaming loudly enough it caught the attention of several people. A woman gave him a sympathetic nod, while a few young girls shook their head in disgust. Jax unloaded the groceries into his car, his ears ringing from her screaming, and hurriedly lifted her out of the carrier, her legs pumping angrily and tangling in the carrier straps.

“Good God, girl, you have a powerful set of lungs on you,” he grimaced while rocking her back and forth in an attempt to quiet her. He reached into the diaper bag and plucked out her pacifier. He slid it across her lips to get her attention and she desperately latched on to it while sucking furiously. “There now, better?” Her huge dark eyes glistened with unshed tears as she looked up at him.

He waited a few moments to make sure she had calmed down before putting her into her car seat. He strapped her in, parked the cart on to a nearby grassy curb and got behind the wheel.

Gabi started to whimper but continued to suck on her pacifier. He sighed with relief. He started the car and they began the long drive back home. He switched on the radio for some background noise hoping Gabi would take a nap on the way home.

He checked the time, nearly 7:00 PM. Another wave of irritation tickled his throat and he clamped it down. Dinner should have been done by now. He should have been giving Gabi a bath and putting her to bed, something he looked forward to each night. Instead, he was buying groceries and anticipating cooking dinner because he couldn’t count on his partner to do her share of the work.

He could feel the tips of his ears heating up and knew he was close to his boiling point. It would be one thing if this happened once in a while, we all lose track of time and he knew that taking care of a baby was a full-time job – she was a time suck. A cute time suck, but one none the less. But this was happening more and more frequently with little to no remorse and now he just felt like Bethany was taking advantage of him.

Again, he wondered why he was putting up with it. Did he feel guilty? After all, Bethany didn’t get pregnant on her own, he was just as much to blame for the situation but he felt like he was the only one that was making a true effort to try and make it work.

It was fully dark by the time he pulled into the driveway. The only light on in the house was the kitchen light though he could see a flickering, blue light coming from the second floor window on the left telling him that Bethany was still on her computer. Ever since her blog was showcased on the host’s webpage her views had gone way up and she felt compelled to produce more and more content to keep the momentum going. This lead to making an Instagram account and posting countless pictures of Gabi and then she started a YouTube channel to document her life as a new mom. He was glad she was working toward something that would potentially make them money but she was so consumed with making her online life perfect that she was neglecting her real life duties.

As soon as he turned off the engine, Gabi began to cry. He knew she was probably hungry again and it was past her bedtime so she was likely exhausted as well. He pulled her out of her seat and entered the house. He had assumed Bethany would hear him drive up and meet them at the door but she was no where to be seen.

“We’re home!” he yelled which only made Gabi cry harder. He recognized the cry. It was a warning cry and if we didn’t see to her needs in three minutes flat, she would begin screaming. “Bethany!” he yelled again and put Gabi in her playcrib. When Bethany still hadn’t made an appearance by the time he had settled Gabi and tried to give her another pacifier, which she promptly spit out when she realized it didn’t come with milk, he marched upstairs and barged into Bethany’s office. She had on headphones and was furiously typing in a chat room.

Seeing her so oblivious to the world, more specifically his and Gabi’s world, he briskly walked over to the wall and unplugged her computer.

“What the actual hell, Jax?” she yelled. She paused when she heard Gabi screaming. “What’s going on?”

“Get downstairs and feed your fucking daughter so I can unload the car,” he snarled. He turned on his heel and stomped out to the garage to grab the groceries. Gabi abruptly stopped screaming on his third trip into the house.

“Jesus, Jax, what is your problem?”

“My problem, Bethany? MY problem?” He slammed the fridge door after putting the milk away. “I work eight plus hours every day, even the weekends here lately with the election happening in a few weeks, only to come home to no dinner, no groceries and no help from you. It’s like you’ve checked out and would rather live in your virtual world than live your life. I’m sick of it!”

“It’s my job, Jax.”

“Oh, don’t give me that shit, Bethany. It’s your excuse to check out and pretend you’re anywhere else but here. Have you stopped to consider that I might hate my life as well? This sucks. This whole marriage sucks and you know it.”

“You’re the one that didn’t wear a condom,” she said quietly but not quietly enough that Jax didn’t hear her.

“It takes two to tangle, sweetheart,” he snapped back. He angrily grabbed food from the bags and began putting it away.

He watched Bethany breast feed Gabi while stroking her soft hair. “You’re right. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve met someone.” She paused, cleared her throat and said in a slighter stronger voice. “I want out.”

Jax froze on the spot, his hand lifted to put a box of spaghetti in the pantry. He could feel his blood pressure rising and he was breathing like he had just ran around the block. He closed his eyes briefly in an attempt to rein in his temper. He slammed the box down on the counter, breaking the box, dried noodles spilling out onto the floor.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it,” he said in a deceptively calm voice. “You know what?” He exited the kitchen and faced her. “I’m relieved, actually. Now you’ve given me permission to leave your sorry ass. This,” he gestured between the two of them, “hasn’t been working for a while now and I’m actually glad that you finally admitted it. Let’s get on with our lives.” He turned to go back to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?”

Continue reading “Jax’s Pre-Story”

At the Moment

Pop-Up Bullet Journal

I’m off work today, (the clinic is closed – woohoo!) and you know what I’ve been doing?

Christmas shopping.

In fact, I’m done with the boys. Well, except for stocking stuffers. This may be the first year I finished Christmas shopping for them before December 1st. It feels really good to be DONE. Now, if I can wrap their gifts as they get here and be done with that part, I will really be cooking.

Kevin and I don’t buy gifts for each other. Our gifts to each other is vacations – going to Florida, cruising, if the CDC will ever deem them worthy of getting back to business.

Don’t get me started.

And that’s it. We really don’t buy anyone else Christmas gifts, unless we’re buying gag gifts for family parties and who knows if that happens this year.

Gads, can 2020 just be over with already?

Anyway, while shopping, I started watching Bullet Journal plan with me videos and I thought I would share this one. This creator does some really cute stuff and she has been posting pop-up bullet journal themes lately that have been so fun to watch. There is no way I will ever do anything like this, I’m not nearly talented enough nor have the patience to do anything like this, but I thought I would share it with any fellow bullet journal fans out there in case it inspires you to try something like this with your own journal.

Oh, and another creator I watch, Kay, with Planning with Kay, is having her annual Black Friday sale on her stickers, which are super cute, if you’re interested. I’ll likely buy some stickers for my journal as well.

I’m always on a mission to support small businesses and talented creators.

In the meantime, I’m typing my fingers to the bone trying to cross the NaNoWriMo finish line. I have about 9,000 words left to write in the next three days (Monday will be a wash because it’s back to work and a clinic day on top of that). My last reward to myself for participating in NaNoWriMo is earning the Winner shirt and I fully intend to make that happen.

For my fellow writers participating in NaNoWriMo – regardless of if you win or lose this challenge, be proud of whatever progress you made this month and I hope you learned something about your writing and your writing process.

That’s really what it’s all about, in my opinion.

I’ll post a few more short stories soon .. in the meantime, chin up! Twenty twenty-one is just around the corner and we’ll soon put 2020 in our rearview mirror. Thank God.

Politics

Censorship is Good, as Long as You’re Not Censoring Me

I wonder how different this conversation would be going if Twitter and Facebook were censoring Democrats and the far left. I’m betting they wouldn’t be calling for MORE censorship if that was the case.

Be careful what you wish for.

This is a hearing summary according to my interpretation. I’m not saying my interpretation is correct, or even accurate, but I will try my best to remain fair to both sides of the argument as I feel it’s important for people to start looking at all sides of an issue, not just their side.

I would highly recommend that you watch the entire hearing and LISTEN to both sides. What are their arguments? What are their proposals? What is the evidence to back up their claims? Are they speaking factually or emotionally? However, I get it. It’s dry and it’s four hours long. So I watched it so you didn’t have to.

All. Four. Hours. Of. It. (Not all at once – took me two days to get through it all).

You’re welcome. 🙂

But again, this is my interpretation and you can’t assume my interpretation, or opinion, is the same as yours. Again, I would encourage you to watch it and form your own opinion.

I think we as American citizens need to start training our brains to LISTEN to all sides of an issue so that we have all the information we need to form our own opinions. That way, we are making decisions, moving forward, based on facts and intentions, not emotion. Emotions are fleeting, facts are forever. It’s time to recognize and acknowledge that fact.

That is the goal of our podcast, as well.

Let’s get started:

Senator Graham – I appreciated his comments. He strove to be fair to Facebook and Twitter by explaining that their platforms have been good, overall. That they have served to bring people together and give them a platform to voice their opinions, thoughts, goals, etc. However, it appears they have gotten out of control, whether intentionally or not, and that they do not have the right to censor what groups of people can, and can not say. This applies to both sides, not just one side. They do not have the right to censor the left, they do not have the right to censor the right. And whether their intentions to do so is unclear. It might simply be they struggled to control something too massive to control. And this is where the hearing comes into play. It’s time to call a halt to the “fact checking” and “false claims” and silence groups of people that dare to disagree with the platforms goals, thoughts, agendas, or special interests groups that donate large sums of cash to the platforms. Senator Graham is hoping that this hearing will modify business practices so that decisions moving forward are transparent and fair to all points of view.

Senator Blumenthal – He opens his turn by cautioning the American people about the dangers of President Trump using social media by posting lies and incendiary rhetoric. I sort of agree with this. There have been time when President Trump has tweeted something and I actually cringe in response. Though I understand the message he’s trying to convey, the way he says it is off putting and awkward. And in a world where people do not bother to read between the lines but take everything at face value, it’s counterproductive. However, the reason he even posts on Twitter is because he can’t trust the MSM (Main stream media) to accurately report what he’s saying. They take snippets from what he’s saying and thread them together to make it sound like something completely different. They routinely cut him off and do not allow him to fully flesh out his thoughts before jumping in to “argue” with him and “fact check” him when that is not the duty of the press. They exist to provide a platform to the American people and to report on the news, not opine their biases. Sure. they can offer opinions and predictions, i.e. talking points, but to not allow the full message to get to the American people is disingenuous and dishonest. Senator Blumenthal acknowledges that, after getting his hatred for Trump out of the way, that Twitter and Facebook have become too big and something must be done with the power they find themselves wielding. He also points out that Google is absent from the hearing, “they were given a pass and rewarded for their timidity.” Ah, but then he goes on to say that what they are doing is not censorship but it’s their “moral and civic responsibility” to stop the flow of hate. No sir, I disagree. That is NOT Twitter and Facebook’s responsibility. That is the responsibility of the user to block or delete that rhetoric. It’s hateful and vile but the authors of that have just as much right to post it as I do posting this blog post. And that’s the fundamental difference between the left and the right.

Dorsey and Zuckerberg’s opening statements – Dorsey’s was decent. He expressed what I think was a genuine desire to do the right thing. He struck me as a man who is over his head and is floundering trying to figure out how to please everyone.

Zuckerberg, however, fairly admitted that they took actions to suppress “hateful” groups and praised their efforts and decisions. He even went so far as to say “this is what people expect from us.” He went on to tout their efforts to promote registering to vote and to provide information for people to learn more about various political races around the country. I would be interested in knowing how that information provided was divided – was there more democrat links than republican? I suppose it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something to consider. Then he basically tooted his own horn to say that he and his wife donated large sums of money to political candidates to “ensure they had the political platform needed for their campaign.” Again, great for you. But what does that have to do with Facebook’s platform? Nothing. It was said to imply “gee, look at me guys. I’m actually a good guy. I give back so don’t be too hard on me.” He goes on to agree that we should update Internet regulations such as privacy, content, data portability. But then he goes on to say, “who should be responsible for what people say online?” That is where he lost me. It’s not YOUR job, Zuckerberg, or your platforms job, to decide what may, or may not be said online. I get there are certain topics and situations that that might be warranted, calls to violence, child sexual exploitations and other heinous topics, but it is NOT the platforms job to decide on what normal Janes and Joes say or the opinions they express.

Blumenthal then asks both Dorsey and Zuckerberg to do MORE to “fact check” and “disallow” false information for the special election in Georgia that could decide on the majority party depending on results. In his opinion, they need to do MORE. Well of course he would say that because Facebook and Twitter were so successful at suppressing opposing views for the presidential election, he would want them to continue doing what they are doing to try and suppress information from Georgia voters. How disgusting that he’s openly calling for MORE dishonesty, but let’s face it, is anyone surprised by this? I guess I’m more disappointed than anything else.

Senator Cornyn – The Internet has outgrown section 230 and he’s relieved to hear Dorsey and Zuckerberg are willing to discuss ways to improve it. Some committee members have proposed a private right of action so that individuals have the ability to sue the companies for suppressing their opinions. Though I’m all for giving individuals rights to protect their speech and the companies need some accountability, I fear allowing individuals to sue would be counter productive. I could see people posting speech they do not necessarily agree to all in order to sue the companies and make some quick dough. I’m not saying it would be EASY to sue the companies over any little thing, but it would open an avenue for constant litigation. It’s hard to classify Twitter and Facebook’s business model as they don’t really fall into a clear-cut category. He feels they should allow more speech and not less as more speech leads to more conversations and information. I would agree with this. The more information you have, the better you can make an informed decision. It would soon become apparent who spouts nonsense and who spouts thoughtful opinions but again, it would be up to the user to weed out that information and make his/her own decision on something. It’s not the right of Twitter or Facebook to make that decision for us.

Senator Feinstein – She asks show soon after the tweet goes online does Twitter label, or “fact check” the tweet? I’m not sure why she is interested in the time frame of this. What difference does that make? The point is, they ARE being labeled and the fact that they are being labeled at all is the point of this hearing. However, to be completely fair to Dorsey and Twitter, I understand why they would feel compelled to label these tweets providing a link to more information. They want to give people an opportunity to learn more about the situation themselves as opposed to taking someone’s word for it. However, who decides where to send these people who are seeking more information? And are they being directed to impartial news or to a pre-determined news source that only serves to further a specific agenda? Feinstein is concerned that opposing viewpoints will “stir people up,” which in essence implies that she does not want people to be given information that will potentially make them think something other than what her party wants them to think. She wants to control what information is given so they are ensured to get the response of want. I find that highly objectionable because it implies that want people to only be given the information they want to provide. How insulting to thinking people of any party. Feinstein’s bottom line – she wants the tech companies to do MORE. I wonder if she would feel that way if the tech companies were favoring Republican comments and “fact checking” the Democrat comments. I’m betting no. A “Stop the Steal” movement cropped up on Facebook shortly after the media declared Joe Biden the winner. Feinstein is concerned that this movement provoked violence because some members of this movement showed up to rallies armed with guns. Senator Feinstein, gun protection is still legal in this country, no matter how much you wished it weren’t so they have a right to carry and bear arms (provided they have the correct documentation). Also, they likely showed up to these rallies not to provoke violence because have there been any examples of people rioting, looting or burning anything down since the media crowned themselves kings and queens and announced Biden the winner even though it’s not official yet, but to protect themselves against the BLM movement that has repeatedly been showcased to attack Trump providers. The fact that this movement exists to begin with, and that thousands of people agreed and joined this movement irks Senator Feinstein because again, they are not playing by the rules of THEIR game.

Senator Lee – He provides examples of “hateful” tweets that caused the account to be suspended to Dorsey to ask him exactly how it was hateful. Dorsey admitted the tweet in question was flagged in error and that the account should not have been suspended. However, to be fair to Dorsey, he’s not personally responsible for his program or algorithms. However, it does serve to showcase what is wrong with the algorithms and to correct their computations. Senator Lee points out that those these “mistakes” are eventually caught and he appreciates Dorsey and Zuckerberg acknowledging these mistakes, it’s a fact that 93% of Facebook staff donated to Democrat candidates and 99% of Twitter staff donated to Democrat candidates so it warrants a closer look at these “mistakes” since most of these “mistakes” happen primarily against Republican voters and ads that dare to implicate Democrats of any wrong doing. Seems like a pretty big “coincidence.” Senator Lee requested a list of people that have had their content removed or accounts that have been suspended sent to him for review. Of course, he’s trying to prove that the majority of accounts that have been compromised comprise mainly of right-leaning voters. I’d like to know what those lists look like, too. He also pointed out one of his own posts on Facebook getting flagged and he talks about how that may be construed as false information in Palo Alto, which is where Facebook headquarters is located, I presume, but it’s not false information to the rest of America. He is implying that Facebook operates within their own bubble of self interest and really has no interest in anything outside their bubble of self awareness. He states he’s finding it harder to believe that these “mistakes” and imperfect algorithms not not intentional.

Senator Leahy – As expected, he calls on Twitter and Facebook to do a better job of censoring “hateful” and misleading information. Again, I’m quite confident he would not have this opinion if the information that was being censored was mostly Democrat-related issues. He claims that President Trump is the leader in giving false information. I would like some examples of this, please. What exactly has he said that was patently false or misleading? Does he come across as egotistical and an ass sometimes? Yes, yes he does. But what information has he given to the American people that has been false? They, the left, has said, over and over again that he continues to do this and has done this throughout his presidency and yet, no one can give any specific examples. I think that is where we, as the people, need to start holding feet to the fire and demanding they start providing specific examples of these claims instead of blindly accepting their “truth” about this. He brings up the claims that Trump makes about the election being rigged and that there is election fraud. What do you think these hundreds of sworn affidavits that people have submitted and initial investigation into the Dominion software used in many states country-wide that have shown discrepancies is about?? The fact that we even HAVE these questions should be the bare minimum reason to investigate. I would have this same opinion if Biden made these claims. Because this goes way beyond this election, it sets a precedent for upcoming elections as well. We MUST investigate these claims if we hope to have any kind of fair election in the future. Because if these claims are true and we continue down the path we’re on now, the voter is deemed obsolete. Why vote when the flawed system will provide the candidate of the crooked party time and time again? So. Trump’s claims may be upsetting to many who don’t want him in the office four more years, but again, it’s not all about YOU. It’s about a fair election that the PEOPLE choose. He brings up calls to behead Dr. Fauci and the director for the FBI. Yes. That’s disturbing and that hateful rhetoric has no place on these platforms. And I will go on to say that allowing Madonna to post that she wants to blow up the White House and to allow Kathy Griffith to post a picture of herself holding up a bloody, severed head of President Trump should not be allowed either. Again, these rules need to be applied ACROSS THE SPECTRUM. Not just to one particular party. He brings up a good point – though these platforms are successful in taking down hateful content, the user just goes and makes new accounts. I don’t know what the platforms have any control over this and I’m sure that stuff happens all the time and becomes a full-time job for someone to monitor. But that kind of thing is the small price we pay to retain our freedoms of speech. He says that this hateful rhetoric results in “systematic genocides’.” Really. That’s a pretty hefty and serious claim. What are you examples, sir?

Senator Cruz – He calls senate Democrats out for wanting more. This is a dangerous road to travel if we want to maintain a free democracy and free speech. Twitter and Facebook “exercises massive power while also enjoys massive corporate welfare through effect of section 230 with special immunity.” He goes on to ask the owners if their corporation is a publisher. He grilled Dorsey asking him if his company is acting like a publisher if they are deleting and editing content. He goes on to use an example of an account that was locked. Dorsey said their account wasn’t suspended and once the “offending” tweet was deleted, they got their account back. “Once we have silenced you, you may allowed to resume to speak.” This is such a dangerous road to travel. He calls Dorsey to commit, in writing, a list of all of the Republican candidates and support teams how many times they have been blocked or labeled on the platform. After all, Dorsey claims to want to “embrace transparency” so now would be a good time to put his money where his mouth is. Dorsey speaks about committing to looking at the “broader” picture, in essence, he answers no. Zuckerberg says yes, he will see if he has that data. In other words, gentleman, proof is in the pudding. I appreciate Senator Cruz asking for hard proof that the platforms have been biased to Republican candidates and issues and if he actually gets this data, I think it will add credibility to the censorship claims. We’ll see how serious these companies are about “transparency.”

Senator Durbin –   He starts off his time by softly chastising the people who called the committee stating that their time would be better spent on COVID, the re-counts and other various topics – spending time on “alleged” censorship is a waste of time. Well of course he would think that, because they are not censoring HIM. He talks about Facebook taking down hate speech groups, such as white supremist. I agree. There is no place, on any platform for hate speech groups, period. However, I would also like to point out, this same rule applies to Antifa and BLM, both groups that have increasingly become more and more violent and tout hateful speech as well. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Again. Be fair to ALL groups, Senator Durbin.

Senator Sasse – He brought up a good point, he’s not sure why Republicans are so eager to re-write section 230 knowing that there is a good possibility that the incoming party will be the ones writing the new rules and that the other side seems almost giddy at the prospect of yet another government entity overseeing these public platforms. He states he’s not sure government should be involved in this process for privately owned companies. Even though these privately-owned companies are massive and have such a far-reaching audience. He also brought up the fact that since such large percentages of these companies’ employees are Democrat supporters, do the owners of these companies think their “fact checkers” can be an impartial judge and jury when deciding on whether the information in question should be allowed to remain. Zuckerberg responded with an acknowledgement of this potential bias and stated they could do better on making sure they are more diverse in their hiring practices, but Facebook employees are across the world and he feels that alone is enough diversity to offset any potential biases. Dorsey responded with, they don’t really have people that make these decisions but rather it’s the algorithms that do the job and they can do a better job of making sure the algorithms are more precise and accurate.

Continue reading “Censorship is Good, as Long as You’re Not Censoring Me”

TueSLAY

TueSLAY – November 24th

Let’s catch up, shall we?

Hi. How is your NaNoWriMo project coming along? I’m at 36,404 words and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think getting to 20,000 feels like a milestone but moving between 20,000 and 30,000 seems to take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. But now that I’m past 30,000, I’m motivated to keep going because I’m getting so close!

My project has been ALL over the place this go around. I’ve been a NaNo Rebel, writing whatever comes to my mind. And that’s not necessarily been my “official” NaNoWriMo project. I’ve called my project “Limitless”, meaning without boundaries, without limitations. But I haven’t written a word FOR my project. I’m using this NaNo to start a writing habit. I’ve gotten out of practice and I want to get back into it. And call me crazy, but the more I write, the more I think of things TO write. It really is true about your brain, perhaps even your creativity, being a muscle you need to work in order to cultivate it and make it stronger.

Though I don’t think I’ll blog every day, I definitely want to blog more often. Whether that’s fiction, my life, or about whatever has been weighing on my heart, like our current political climate, for example. I must be doing something right because the number of hits on my blog has gone up. I think most of that has to do with the fact that I think the Word Press site actually featured my blog one day, according to the hits, anyway. How cool but nerve wracking at the same time.

This is me, in all my flawed glory.

I do think I’ve discovered the secret to NaNoWriMo this go around, though. Are you ready?

Writing sprints.

I have been DIGGING the writing sprints. It’s the next best thing to a writing group, honestly. In fact, in some ways, it’s even better for me because we all know how I feel about real-life friends. Well, maybe you don’t know, let me explain. I’m a loner. I’m an introvert and I’m happiest when I’m by myself. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy Kevin’s company or when the boys come over, but for the most part, I’m perfectly fin with my own company. Time is so valuable and when I have time to myself, I really cherish it. But. Being my myself is not very motivating. Which is a big reason I watch YouTube videos, for inspiration and to enjoy human interaction (though you can’t technically call watching YouTube videos interacting) on MY terms. I can leave whenever I want and I don’t have to worry about hurting someone’s feelings.

So when I stumbled on to the writing sprints on YouTube, I’d died and gone to writing heaven. It was perfect for me. I felt like I was in a writing group without actually being in a writing group and we were all writing and working at the same time. I knew I wanted to do the Pomodoro Technique of writing and writing sprints incorporated that. I have really been digging the writing sprints. I mainly do writing sprints with the Word Nerds, though I have participated in some of Brooke’s as well. Though she’s sweet, she’s a little too cheery for my taste. (No offense, Brooke!) And today, I didn’t participate, though I will at some point, in Cam’s ten-hour writing sprint. Yes. He livestreamed writing sprints for ten straight hours. Now that’s dedication!

Anyway. If you haven’t tried writing sprints, I HIGHLY recommend them. I found them super helpful and I will absolutely continue participating in writing sprints all year long as I feel like that really helps my writing productivity.

This nurse I work closely with contracted COVID. In fact, her whole family got it. It started with her oldest daughter and then they all caught it. She’s been pretty sick, body aches, heaviness in her chest, difficulty catching her breath and now she has lost her sense of smell/taste. This has freaked out clinic out a bit. This is a little too close to home, thank you very much. So far, I have felt fin though I had a sore throat a few days last week I really think it’s been my sinuses. I feel pretty good today. But potentially being exposed made me decide NOT to participate in Kevin’s family Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, his youngest sister and her family decided not to participate some weeks back, the kids are too nervous to be around his folks, who are smack dab in the vulnerable age group for COVID. We were going to go, but not now. I don’t want to risk exposing them to COVID simply because I’ve been in close proximity to someone who has it. It has greatly upset my mother-in-law but unfortunately, these are the cards we’ve been dealt. I know it’s rough on our older generation as they would likely rather spend these twilight years with their family but God willing, we will be able to spend more holidays with them as opposed to celebrating this holiday and this maybe being the LAST holiday.

I think one of the reasons I remain healthy is because I’m naturally a recluse anyway. I’m not around a lot of people anyway, which is ideal for this nightmare we’re all living at the moment.

By the way, have you noticed toilet paper is hard to come by again? We were smart and stocked up over the summer months predicting this might happen and well, here we are again. Cases have spiked and we have 150 people in our hospital with COVID as of the date of this post. That’s the most it’s been since this whole thing started. I’m predicting one of the reasons cases spiked is because people were out celebrating Biden’s unofficial win and the MAGA march in DC. I also wonder how many of these cases are actually influenza as the number of cases this season have been suspiciously low. (They are most likely being counted as COVID cases. It’s so hard to know what’s true and what’s false nowadays).

I’ve only read two books this month so far. I know it’s largely because I’ve been spending all of my energies on writing but still, I miss having the time to read. I had to adjust my reading goals on Goodreads from 100 books to 90 books because I won’t make it to 100 now that I’m focusing on NaNoWriMo. But that’s okay because it’s been nice to flex my creativity this month – I feel like I set her free and she can breathe again.

(Yes, my creativity is a girl).

Blake turned 28 this month and Kevin is … older as well. (I’m not sure he would want me to mention his age). I can’t believe our first born is nearly 30!! This makes me feel so odd … because I know this makes me old but I don’t FEEL old. It’s such a bizarre feeling to look oneself in the mirror and SEE the sagging skin and the wrinkles and KNOW my age but don’t FEEL my age. It’s like I’m looking at an imposter, someone else has taken over my body and where did I go? I try not to think too much about my age and that time continues to march firmly on, but I can’t hide my head in the sand forever – I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get back into writing again – I’d like to leave a little bit of me behind. Death is so final.

 We put our Christmas tree up. We, okay, I, broke down and bought a new tree this year. Kevin wasn’t exactly thrilled that I bought a new tree but I got a really good deal on a 7.5 tree at Target for $100 and I went for it. I’m pretty happy with it. It comes in three pieces and when it’s fluffed, it’s quite full. It took me a quarter of the time it usually does as our old tree I had to put on each individual branch and then fluff it as I went. I haven’t gotten around to decorating it but Kevin did put multi-colored lights on it. I’m sort of satisfied with it only having lights on it, though I think I’m mainly just being lazy not wanting to drag all of the decorations out. As fast as time flies, I’m tempted to be one of THOSE people and just leave the damn thing up all year long because let’s face it, it feels like it’s only a few months from the time you take it down to putting it back up again anyway as fast as time flies.

So my hairdresser, whom I’ve been going to for … three/four (ish) years? Is closing her doors. It’s a small salon, just the two girls, they are best friends and unfortunately, COVID did them in. They are closing their doors on December 19th and will be going into the medical field. They will be phlebotomists. Which seems like a strange field to choose after being hairdressers but they wanted to do something in a field that they didn’t have to worry about having jobs everyday. I can’t imagine how stressful it must have been for them not knowing if they were going to be able to keep their business alive every day. It was sad, and I nearly cried, because you could tell they were upset by it, but, one of the girls will be working for the hospital that I’m working at and I was telling them they should look into becoming Medical Assistants. They didn’t want to go to school for that and guess what, you don’t really need to. Lots of places, including the clinic I work at, will hire you if you don’t have any experience or any schooling, you learn on the job. So I told them that if they get to the point they are thinking of becoming medical assistants to let me know because we’re ALWAYS looking for MA’s. We have a high turn over, not because of the job, though it is crazy busy and can be stressful, but because a lot of medical assistant go on to nursing school so the position ends up being a stepping stone to bigger and better things. So who knows? I may end up working with one of them in the future. You just never know.

NaNoWriMo2020

Caught on Film

It wasn’t as if she knew what she was doing.

Okay. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Whitney reached into her car and grabbed her camera bag. She unzipped it and pulled out her DLSR and lens. She hooked the strap around her neck and stuffed an extra battery into the pocket of her jacket. She was slipping her phone in her other jacket pocket when it dinged.

Where are you?

She stuck her car keys in the pocket of her jeans and locked the car before answering.

At Cricket Falls. Taking pictures for class. 

You’re still on the photography kick? 

You make it sound like a hobby.

Isn’t it?

Listen Seth, I have spent a lot of money on classes and I need to practice. I really want to make this into something. Why can’t you support me?

Because it’s stupid and a pipe dream. Stick with the bank. You have a future there.

Whitney sighed and rolled her eyes.

Why can’t you support me?? She typed furiously.

I’m trying to prevent you from making a mistake. 

Whitney was beginning to wonder if Seth was the mistake.

I can’t talk right now. I need to go before I lose the light. 

Fine.

She angrily tucked the phone into her other jeans pocket and briefly closed her eyes. She had been taking photography classes for nearly four months and she resented Seth for making her feel stupid. She wanted to enjoy the classes and he was making it impossible with his negativity and complaining.

Asshole, she thought.

She tugged a hairband in to push her curly black hair out of her eyes. She tested the door handle of her VW bug and set off toward the hiking trail. She hadn’t been to Cricket Falls in quite some time and she was looking forward to taking pictures at sunset.

She stopped just as she entered the tree line. She had forgotten her water bottle. She paused. She should probably go back and get it but it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a little over two hours and it would take her nearly an hour to reach the falls.

She shrugged and continued down the path.

She stepped around tree roots and over smooth, flat rocks. She took deep, cleansing breaths. There was nothing like fresh air to clear the week’s cobwebs. She knew Seth wanted her to stay with the bank but she was bored. She wanted a job where she could be creative and spontaneous. She had no idea if she would be able to make any money at photography but she certainly wanted to try. She loved learning about F-stops and angles, lighting and focus points in class. It was challenging to look at something and then set up the perfect shot in order to try and capture the mood she wanted to portray.

The day was quickly cooling down and she was thankful she had grabbed a jacket. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind distended gray clouds and it looked like a storm front was heading in. She paused to check the weather on her phone. She had to walk up an incline in order to get a better signal. Weather was definitely coming in but she figured she had about three hours before it reached her, plenty of time to shoot some pictures and make it back to her car before it rained.

Her phone dinged. She sighed and continued walking. It was probably Seth and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the time she had and to focus on her pictures as she was hoping to touch them up and present them at her next class for critique. She ignored the text and kept moving. She glanced up at the sky. There were now more clouds than sun and she was beginning to think maybe she should head back to her car as she didn’t want to risk getting her camera equipment wet.

She was lost in thought and seriously thinking about turning around when she rounded a bend and there, in all it’s glory, was Cricket Falls.

She paused to to fully absorb the sheer magnificence of the beautiful waterfall. The falls were not as swollen as she had seen them in the past but she knew it would only be a matter of minutes after the rain started to turn the relatively calm waters into a raging, angry flow.

She heard a crack of thunder and it made her jump into action. She lifted her camera, adjusted her settings and began taking pictures from various angles. She was actually glad the sun had disappeared behind the clouds as it provided her with better light and a somber atmosphere. After taking about twenty shots, she was placing her lens cap back on the camera when another round of thunder reverberated above. She nervously eyed the sky and turned around to head back. She paused at the fork in the path and decided to take another route back to her car. She didn’t know for sure if it was quicker, but had hiked that particular path before and felt like the way back was less rocky.

She was weaving through the trees, dodging and dunking under branches when she heard a sound.

After being in the woods for over an hour, she had gotten used to the shuffling of critters in the leaves and the wind rustling the tree branches. But this sound was different. It sounded like a soft hiss, or scrape, then as if something was being dropped onto soft earth.

She broke through some trees and her phone dinged again.

She paused and dug it out of her pocket.

Another girl has gone missing. I don’t like you being out there all alone. Come home.

Whitney sent a quick text back to Seth.

You worry too much. I got my shots and am heading back. 

He answered back immediately.

Good.

She dropped her phone back into her pocket and squelched her irritation.  He was trying. She needed to try as well.

She entered the next clump of trees, carefully picking her way through the path when she heard the strange noise again.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

What was that sound? It seemed so out-of-place in the woods and yet, she felt like she had heard that sound before.

She veered off the path and crept toward where she thought the sound was coming from. She reached out to move a low-hanging branch only for it to swing back and slap her in the face.

“Ow!” She clapped a hand over her cheek to try and quell the sting.

The sound abruptly stopped.

Whitney also stopped and stood still. She could feel her heartbeat quickening even though she forced her breathing to slow and quiet. Something felt wrong. Why did the sound stop? A flash of lightening pierced the darkening sky above her. She counted silently in her head … 1 … 2 …3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … Thunder rolled across the sky and Whitney glanced at the time on her phone. She estimated she had about thirty minutes before the rain reached her. Though she knew she needed to move, she couldn’t. It was too quiet. Though she didn’t know what the sound was, she suddenly wished it would start back up again. She instinctively knew the sound resuming was safer than not.

She continued to stay still and she silently urged the sound to continue so she could move. She didn’t know why it was so important for the sound to resume but she was spooked enough that she didn’t feel like she should move until it did.

Her phone dinged and the sound seemed to echo loudly.

“Shit,” she reached in to her pocket and quickly muted her phone. She could hear a rustling up ahead of her and she quietly moved closer to the trees, off the path and into the shadows. She felt ridiculous for playing chicken with the mysterious sound but the goosebumps on her arms was enough to give her pause.

After long minutes, the sound started back up again and she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

She cautiously moved forward, careful to avoid disturbing the leaves and rocks in her way. She crept into a small batch of trees and tried to peer through.

She saw a flash of blue.

Was that a person?

Continue reading “Caught on Film”

Podcast

Podcast: The Left’s Insanity Continues

 

Episode description:

The Left continues to demonstrate their insanity as President Trump is released from the hospital after his COVID diagnosis.

And guess what? We started a Podcast YouTube channel! Now you can SEE us while you listen! Coming soon …!

______________________________________

Take us on the go! You can hear our podcasts on the following platforms:

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We upload a new podcast every Sunday. Thanks for listening!

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Jax

Hello Blogfam and welcome. I’d like to introduce Jaxson Fuller. He goes by Jax. Is that right?

Jax: Yes.

Me: Very good. Jax is the male lead in the story and Maya’s potential love interest though I believe you don’t make an appearance in the story for quite a while, is that right, Jax?

Jax: Correct.

Me: Well, welcome to my blog. Thanks for being here.

Jax: *nods and gives a small smile*

Me: So, Jax. Tell us about yourself.

Jax: I hate when people say that. Can’t you just give me a question?

Me: Okay. Tell me about your life before Maya.

Jax: I was a First Lieutenant in the Army. I served three tours in the Middle East and about five(ish) years ago, my unit was attacked. I sustained an injury and had to rethink my career. It wasn’t fun.

Me: What sort of injury?

Jax: *points to his left leg* I was shot several times in the left leg. Banged me up pretty good. I was honorably discharged shortly after that. I spent a year in rehabilitation and I can walk on it now, but I am gimpy.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.

Jax: *shrugs* Comes with the territory. After I finished rehab, I ran into a buddy of mine who works for the Secret Service. He pulled some strings and I was able to get a job.

Me: The Secret Service, eh? Sounds exciting.

Jax: It’s not really. But you do have to be super vigilant.

Me: I can imagine. Who was assigned to you. Would I have known that person?

Jax: Possibly. I would rather not say who I watched over.

Me: Of course. They don’t call it “Secret” service for no reason. *laughs*

Jax: *smiles – though clearly not as amused*

Me: How long have you been in the Secret Service?

Jax: It’s been nearly … three years now.

Me: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Jax: Definitely the people. I’m either watching someone who is totally paranoid about being attacked or someone who doesn’t take it seriously and takes all kinds of risks. It can be exhausting.

Me: Can you tell us about one of your more challenging clients?

Jax: *sits for a bit, then nods brusquely* Sure. It was about six months ago, actually. I was assigned to watch a Senator’s daughter and she took it upon herself to sneak out of her house and go to a party that none of us knew about and certainly didn’t approve she could go to. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I had to swallow some pride and call in reinforcements. It took us nearly two hours to find her and by the time we did, she was very drunk and very loud.

Me: I take that to mean, she wasn’t happy to see you.

Jax: You could say that. Her father was also not very happy to see me.

Me: Did he punish you?

Jax: No. *he flexes his jaw in irritation* He campaigned to have me fired.

Me: But it wasn’t your fault!

Jax: Doesn’t matter. She was my responsibility and I lost track of her. If something had happened to her, I would have been prosecuted and likely charged with negligence.

Me: Wow. Why do you stay in the job if there is that much pressure?

Jax: Because I’m very good at my job. I had allowed myself to become distracted in that case. That will not happen again.

Me: What distracted you?

Jax: I’d rather not say.

Me: It was a woman, wasn’t it? Was it Maya?

Jax: *face flushes a light red*

Me: Are you married?

Jax: I was.

Me: What happened?

Jax: *sighs* We were bad for each other. We were polar opposites, which was great in some ways, it was never boring. *soft smile of remembrance* But after a while, the novelty wore off and we just got tired of trying, I suppose.

Me: Any children?

Jax: One. But she died from SARS when she was four months old. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

Me: *blinks – clears throat* I’m sorry.

Jax: …..

Me: So. Any love interest now?

Jax: *arches a brow* I think you know the answer to that one.

Me: *sly grin* Just seeing if you were still with me. How did you and Maya meet?

Jax: Her dad … talked me into being her bodyguard.

Me: You didn’t volunteer for the job?

Jax; Not exactly.

Me: Why would Maya need protection?

Jax: Unclear. Though her father is head of the Secret Service to the President and when you’re that close, you tend to make enemies.

Me: What is Maya like to guard?

Jax: She’s a pain in the ass.

Me: Really? I would have thought Dree would be the pain in the ass.

Jax: Dree is tough, but she’s street smart. Maya is clueless to what goes on in the world. Thank God her father had the foresight to make her take kickboxing.

Me: *chuckles* Forgive me. But after meeting Maya, … kickboxing? Really? It just doesn’t compute.

Jax: *shrugs* Yeah. She’s a bit of a princess and her form sucks, but she’s got determination, I’ll give her that. She will get better.

Me: What makes you so sure?

Jax: Because I’ll make sure she can defend herself. You never know what life will throw at you. You need to be prepared.

Me: Sounds like an army slogan. *chuckles*

Jax: Be all you can be.

Me: Now you’re making fun of me.

Jax: *smirks*

Me: Do your parents live here?

Jax: My dad is a Colonel in the Army. Mom is a typical Army wife, sponsors fundraisers and events to help boost the troops’ families. They are stationed in West Virginia right now.

Me: So fairly close. Do you ever get to see them?

Jax: Not as often as I would like.

Me: Any siblings?

Jax: I have a younger brother, Mark.

Me: And what does Mark do?

Jax: He’s special ops. I haven’t seen him in nearly … five years, I think.

Me: Your parents must be proud – both of you serving your country.

Jax: *frown* I guess.

Me: You don’t think so?

Jax: *rubs the scruff on his face absently* No comment.

Me: Well, that’s intriguing. So Jax ..

(*a loud pop sounds outside and causes Me to jump and squeal*)

Jax: Get down! *jumps out of his chair causing it crash to the floor and whips his Glock semi automatic pistol out of his waist band. He points is at the window.

Continue reading “Interview with Jax”

Politics

Unity Does Not Mean Submitting to Group Think

Do you think we’re beyond uniting? Have we reached a time where it’s impossible to come together and work toward common goals?

Sadly, yes, I think we are beyond that point.

Why do I think this? Because we can’t even agree on fundamental things. For example: We can not agree on what a freedom and a right is. We can not agree on the fundamental values of life, let alone the details on how to ultimately achieve that goal.

And if unity means asking people who have different values or opinions from your own to sacrifice their convictions and beliefs, then no, I’m not interested in unity.

Unity, Mr. Biden, does not mean I succumb to your agenda. Unity does not mean accepting and abiding by your group think. That is not unity, that is being a dictator. And history has shown nothing good comes from that type of leadership.

So if unity is not possible, and I don’t believe it is, does this mean we will forever endure the violence, the hateful language, the name calling and the overall hate pit that our country has fallen into?

Not necessarily. I believe it’s possible to peacefully coexist but some things must be done first before that can happen.

And it won’t happen overnight and it certainly won’t happen because the party calling for unity is allegedly in charge. We should strive to peacefully coexist regardless of which party holds the executive (olive) branch.

Justin Haskins, from his opinion piece on The Hill, has this suggestion:

“Biden has repeatedly claimed, as he did during an address on Saturday, that he will “serve as a president who seeks not to divide, but unify, who doesn’t see red states or blue states, but only the United States.”

Forgive me for being a little skeptical. Biden has done little in his career to show that he is interested in bringing the country together or addressing the concerns of “red states.” In fact, during the 2020 campaign, he spent far more time trying to alleviate the worries of the socialist wing of his party than reaching out to conservatives and Americans in “flyover country,” who mostly rejected Biden on Election Day.

Biden didn’t try very hard to bring the country together during the presidential campaign. But let’s assume he sincerely wants to bring the country together. How can he go about doing that?

The only way Biden can restore a sense of national unity and alleviate the legitimate fears of conservatives, libertarians and others that a Biden-Harris administration will try to expand the power of the national government and limit individual rights is to finally put an end to the century-long strategy of attempting to force a single party’s will over a vast and diverse nation.

There is a solution, though, one that would garner support from people of all political persuasions. Instead of trying to pass gargantuan, partisan laws in Washington, D.C., that at least half the country will hate, Biden should pursue an agenda that grants to each state the ability to chart its own course. This could be done by only supporting legislation that block grants most federal funding to states, so that each can decide how best to craft policies that will fit the desires and needs of its residents.

So, for example, instead of trying to fix the health care system by imposing a “public option” and some expanded version of ObamaCare, Biden should back legislation that would allow states to create their own policies.

By giving states the ability to make their own policy decisions, everyone can win. Under such a system, not only would public policies more closely align with the desires of the entire electorate. It would also give the country an opportunity to see which policy ideas work and which fail. States could then learn from the mistakes and achievements of their neighbors and continuously improve public policy.”

I see where Mr. Haskins is coming from here – it’s a hybrid approach – leave it up to the federal government to iron out Bill of Rights and Constitution issues but give individual, area-specific policies to the states to figure out but it will never work. Biden, and the Democrat party are not interested in giving up power, they want it all. They want to dictate every aspect of our lives. They want to be able to tell you where to work, how much money you are allowed to make, how much money you are allowed to keep, what doctor you may, or may not, see, what car you can drive, and how much money you are required to pay them simply by “owning” your home. They want to have a thumb on every part of your life and if you’re okay with that, if you are willing to forfeit your individual freedoms to allow an entity to dictate your life and essentially “take care of you”, (though they really aren’t – they are controlling you through tax breaks, incentive programs, tax refunds that aren’t really refunds but a program that legally STEALS your money from you and then they grants you permission to get some of that back every year – but only if you didn’t strive to be successful or break any of their restrictive rules), well, I guess you have the freedom to live like that.

But that doesn’t mean everyone has that same desire. In fact, there is a large part of the population, pretty much half if the election results are any indication, that vehemently disagree with that premise. I’m one of those people. I work very hard for my money and I believe I should have the right to keep what I make. I want freedoms to CHOOSE from various options what is best for me and my family. I prefer to be left alone so that I can live my life. If I make a wrong choice, then I will deal with the consequences. I don’t need, nor want, an entity to “take care of me.” I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself, thank you very much.

And just because we disagree on how we want to live our lives, does mean my way, or your way, is better overall, it just means it’s better for ME as an individual. We are not a collective. We are individuals and a one size does not fit all solutions, which is what the Democrats strive to achieve every time they are in office, is not effective, is repulsive, dangerous and quite frankly, insulting.

I have a brain, I am not afraid to use it. I do not need an entity to guide me through life. I will make my own choices and I will learn from failures and I will celebrate my successes. If I choose to share my hard-earned successes with those less fortunate, then I will do so, but it’s wrong to MAKE me re-distribute what I’ve worked very hard for to someone who has chosen not to try as hard. It’s unfair and wrong. This does not mean I’m not willing to give to charities and help people, far from it, I just believe in hand ups, not hand outs. I believe consistently giving people hand outs is demoralizing and insulting, not to mention, it promotes dependency. How can someone take pride in their life if they are never given an opportunity to succeed on his/her own?

From the article Unifying Our Country on Psychology Today:

“What is constantly being demonstrated is that it is much easier to divide than it is to unite. It is possible, however, to unite our country through the systematic implementation of positive interdependence. Interdependence exists when two or more people (or entities) depend on each other so that their outcomes and fate are correlated. Morton Deutsch, in the late 1940s, noted that there are two types of interdependence, positive and negative. Positive interdependence is the perception that a person depends on others in a way so that he or she cannot succeed unless the other persons do and vice versa. Negative interdependence is the opposite; if a person succeeds, all others fail. In order for a democracy to function, citizens must perceive positive interdependence among all citizens. Societal members have to know that they “sink or swim together.”

Today, many Americans seem to have lost the sense of positive interdependence among citizens. Many of our politicians are more concerned about dividing citizens and creating animosity among them than uniting them. In order to unify our country, widespread positive interdependence must be reestablished and reemphasized. There are a number of ways to structure positive interdependence among citizens of our country.”

The author suggests the following things:

  1. Unite the country by establishing compelling goals that all members of our society willingly commit themselves to achieve. Positive goal interdependence exists when citizens commit themselves to mutual goals that are compelling enough to ensure that all citizens will work together to achieve them.
  2. The country may be united through establishing a national identity as an “American” that binds all citizens together.  An identity is a consistent set of attitudes that defines “who you are.”  Identity interdependence may be created by establishing a mutual identity through group symbols such as a pledge of allegiance, flag, or national anthem.
  3. Resource interdependence exists when citizens realize that in order to achieve their goals they must depend on the resources of others. Building a national economy, ensuring all citizens have the ability to communicate with each other, traveling from one part of the country to another are all examples of goals that require the resources and contributions of many citizens to achieve them.
  4. Citizens may be united through perceiving that they all receive the same rewards and benefits when national goals are achieved (i.e., reward interdependence).” (example: celebrating national holidays, receiving stimulus checks during a pandemic, tax cuts. We all benefit from a common goal – my words).

You can read the article for the rest of the points.

“In summary, if leaders and citizens wish to unite the citizens of our country, they must establish competing joint goals, a mutual identity, awareness of dependence on each other’s resources, awareness that one is rewarded only when all are rewarded, divisions of labor involving all citizens, giving citizens complementary roles, and encouraging all citizens to participate in the processes of democracy. It is through ensuring such positive interdependence exists that citizens can become aware of their unity.”

Again, lofty goals. And when those circumstances occur, I think it has the potential of uniting people but I think in order for these things to occur, the leaders in charge have to want it to happen – I don’t believe most of our leaders are interested in unity. They are more concerned with dividing us because if we are divided, then they have a platform in which to swoop in and “save” us. It is not in their best interest to unite us – chaos and fear leads to control, which is the ultimate goal of many politicians.

Be honest.

So where does that leave us?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and again, and again – I believe it all starts with communication and adjusting how we use language. There is no “us” or “them” or “those people.” That automatically puts us in different corners. That implies we are starting out as divided and many times people will not be open to listen to anything outside their opinions or beliefs. We need to start saying “us, “we”, “Americans”, “humans”. What is the purpose of bringing up color? Or sexual preference? Or race? When we label people and put them in a box they are automatically ostracized. We immediately feel superior to “those people.”

We have to accept the fact that the media is all about agendas and further dividing us. They epitomize groupthink. Don’t believe me?

It’s the same message, over and over and over again. And not just in print, but on news stations. There is very little independent thought. They all regurgitate one another – groupthink. We are repeating this same message because we want to brainwash you into thinking this is the ONLY way to feel about something.

And sadly, it works on a large portion of the people. Because if you read/watch people who feel differently than you, they nearly always spout off “these talking points.” And that’s it. If you dare to ask questions or ask for examples, it’s like groupthink people’s brains short circuit and they call on emotion and anger to call you names or do anything really to distract you from the fact they don’t really know what they’re talking about – they only know what they’ve been told. Nine times out of ten, they don’t even know why they believe what they believe.

If we ever hope to unite as a country, outside a catastrophic event like 911 or this overblown pandemic (because let’s face it, when the pandemic first started and we didn’t know what it was, we all united for a brief moment), people will have to learn to communicate with one another more effectively. Which means, LISTEN. Practice EMPTAHY for one another. It’s not all about you. It’s not all about me. We all have individual needs and desires, RESPECT that difference. Be WILLING to listen to possible solutions and then COMPROMISE on a mutual solution.

Again. It’s not my way or the highway.

And our officials in charge HAVE to, HAVE TO, call for an end to the violence. It’s NOT OKAY to attack someone in the street because he/she believes differently than you. It’ NOT OKAY to paint a group of people as racists when there is very little evidence to back up that claim. Officials HAVE to start condemning these actions and show “their” people that their behavior is not acceptable. If Biden is truly interested in uniting us, then he has to recognize that BLM’s activities are wrong and not acceptable. By NOT condemning their actions, it only serves to embolden them to push their violence just that much more.

The bottom line – IT’S OKAY TO HAVE DIFFERING OPINIONS. Just because I think a certain way, you think a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way to think or tackle a problem. It’s NEVER okay to belittle, or attack, either physically or verbally, someone else for his/her opinion. Have the maturity to stop, listen and learn. I’m betting the person who has a different opinion than you presents an aspect of the topic that you may have never taken into consideration before. And there is always more than one way to tackle any problem or issue – THAT, my friends, is DIVERSITY – Different opinions and different approaches to the same problem.

If you made it to the end of this post and you know you think/feel differently than I do, congratulations. You have taken the first step to unifying this nation – you dared to listen to a differing opinion without losing your temper or becoming violet.

Who knows who will really win this election, but if the new president is truly interested in uniting people, then it’s time to start making people accountable for their behavior.

By the way, I stumbled on an interesting website, it’s called Unify America. And you can actually get paired up with someone who thinks differently than you do and talk to them as a human being and see if you can agree to disagree. I think it’s an excellent tool to not only practice interacting with someone who thinks/feels differently than you do, but also serves to show others that it CAN be done. Check it out. (Not sponsored).