Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format
Close

Archive

Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

My Word on “Why I Am Writing and Sharing So Much About Politics And Why Now?”

October 3rd, 2019 Comments off

Why I Am Writing/Sharing So Much About Politics? Why now?

For those of you who have known me for even a short time, you know I usually don’t take a great interest in politics. It can be fair to say that I worry least about the government that governs best. I have my political opinions and I might occasionally show my support for some program or another, but usually, I am content to let other fret and strut their hour upon the political stage and take care of more immediate concerns.

My Word on

That said, lately, my Twitter and Facebook streams have been awash with political news, comments, rants and more. Over the last 2 years I have been growing more and more angry, upset, disenchanted, vocal (insert your favorite emotion here) with my government. This has caused me to re-think my usual laissez-faire (a policy or attitude of letting things take their course, without interfering) attitudes towards politics, government and governing.

I often say that if I start talking politics then you know things have gotten really bad and that is certainly the case now. I take issue with many policies and actions of the current administration and could no longer hold off voicing some of my opinions. Lest people were mistaking my silence for support, I had to share that I did not agree and exactly why.

Taking these actions has been far more about me and my emotions than any effort to affect the outside world. I had to make it clear that I did NOT agree, I did NOT support, I did NOT assent, to the actions being taken, ostensibly, in my name and certainly with my tax dollars. IF my son ever asked me what I did during these times, I need to be able to show him where I stood on the issues and why. I guess this is my generations version of “What did you do in the war, Dad?”

I won’t reiterate my opinions on issues here. If you wish to see them, visit any of my social media feeds and it will be clear. Rather I wanted to explain a little bit about why my political side has popped up, unbidden, like a large groundhog surveying his plot. When the noise grows too loud, we must all stick our head out and take stock of what is going on.

Here are a few quotes that have led me to speak out…

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” – Desmond Tutu

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” – Elie Wiesel

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral” – Paulo Freire

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict…[an individual] who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it” – Martin Luther King Jr.

After reading these I found that I was no longer able to remain neutral, ignorant, dismissive or amoral about what is happening in our country and our world today. The time has come to take sides and I, in my own small, small, small, way, have done just that.

No one knows what the future will bring, but at least I know that I said what I believed and I stood up for those opinions whatever happens.

Categories: My Word, Opinion, Writing Tags:

My Word on “Being Cassandra”

September 28th, 2019 Comments off

In the Greek myth, Cassandra is granted the gift of foresight by Apollo, but when she resists his advances, Apollo adds a curse — although she sees the truth, no one will believe her.

Throughout this entire presidency, I can imagine there have been many — perhaps hundreds or thousands — who have felt like Cassandra from one day to the next. Thye tried to warn us about this man in the 80s and 90s. They tried to warn us before the election. They tried to warn us after the election and nearly daily since that time. Still, so many people did not believe it. 

“Cassandra and Ajax”, Greek Krater, 350-340 BC

Despite Cassandra’s warnings, they ignored each question, each failure, each exposure of wrong-doing, each hateful outburst, each attack on portions of the citizenry they were supposed to serve, until, finally, the curtain was dropped and we saw the machinations that hid behind it all.

Now, despite our disbelief, we must look back with clear hindsight and reevaluate how we failed to listen and how we victimized all those Cassandras who tried to warn us. We called them liars. We called them mad. We called them political hacks. We questioned their loyalty, their citizenship, and their very existence. We threatened them with jail, destruction of their reputations and, in some cases, barely veiled threats of death.

While it is impossible to make amends for how these people were treated, we can offer them some recompense by finally opening our minds and believing them. Even though they may have stated truths we did not want to hear, we must believe. We must see the truth that lies in front of us. We can deny it no longer.

The Me, Too movement has shown us how so many people have been assaulted, attacked and killed while those around them did nothing — because they did not, or could not, believe that these assaults happened. In each case, Me Too activists have shouted, “Believe Them!” It should be clear that this mantra needs to be applied to all such events. Start with belief, investigate and punish as necessary regardless of income, political power, race, creed or sexual orientation. Too often we tout the age-old exclamation “The Rule of Law”, but much too often the law is different for rich and poor, brown and beige, Christian and Muslim, male and female.

No one (should be) above the law, but often that is exactly the case. We see it in everyday dealings and the actions in the halls of national and international power. The Cassandras of our time speak out to warn us and just like their mythical namesake we refuse to believe. We must learn from the past — both mythical and historical — or we are doomed to repeat our mistakes or perhaps, simply doomed.

My Word on Impeachment

September 25th, 2019 Comments off

The impeachment of a President is a horrible thing. Impeachment is disruptive, contentious and one fo the most violent political acts that can be taken by one branch of government against another. Impeachment is a necessary evil, though, to prevent the co-option of our government by those who put self before country, profit before the gain of all citizens and lies in the place of truth.

Read How IMpeachment Works, Washington Post

Impeachment is to government as chemotherapy is to the human body. It is horrible in itself, but it just might suppress a cancer. It withers the body but restores a lifetime if it works. One person suffers most, but all around them suffer too with grief, the unknown future, and the day-to-day punishment of it all. It will be the same with the coming weeks as we march through seemingly endless interrogations, testimonies, and news reports.

Still, Impeachment is necessary. Impeachment is important. Impeachment is political chemotherapy for the ills that have infected our government. I absolutely hate that we must take these steps. It would have been better for everyone had we not had to take these steps, but when faced with no other choice we must steel ourselves and impeach.

Today, like many other trying times in my life, I think back to one of my favorite book series, The Lord of The Rings. In the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Gandalf have this short exchange.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien

We are often faced with terrible situations not of our own creation. Just earlier this year, I had to watch my son barely escape death from a car crash and face the long, painful, road through stabilization, multiple operations, crashingly painful recovery and finally return home with us. Would I have rather avoided this? Of course, but often we are faced with situations that can only be faced day by day. There is no way to avoid them. The only thing you can do is do your best with the time you are given. This is how I envision the slow march of the impeachment process over the next several months. One day at a time.

Despite what might be said by some in government, there is a process to be followed here. The President has not been impeached. There is no immediate impeachment trial in progress. There is no rush to judgment. There is no “judgment” to be had. Rather, Yesterday’s announcement was only for the beginning of an impeachment investigation. 

This investigation is of the greatest importance. While there may be significant anecdotal evidence of wrongdoing, we are a country that believes in the rule of law. Law is carried out in specific, through specific actions and policies and no one is above the law. This investigation turns away from anecdotal and circumstantial evidence and burrows deep into the actions that may have taken place and the evidence that directly and clearly proves any malfeasance.

We need this desperately. The last few years have been filled with actions that have caused such accusations and rancor that we all need to be reassured that our government can work to the benefit of all its citizens. It is only by the application of this “terrible medicine” of law that we can all begin to clearly assess what has occurred and move forward with a mended heart and clear conscience.

Let us all move forward into this battle to determine the truth — no matter how that truth may stand — and preserve our democracy for ourselves, our future and future generations.

My Word on “America may lose its “measles elimination” status” from The New York Times

September 23rd, 2019 Comments off

This is what happens when we deny science and the power it has to change our world forever.

Denying science is a sure way to move civilization backward by leaps and bounds and in this case, killing thousands if not millions through our ignorance.

I never would’ve thought to see our modern-day Galileoes stood up in front of ignorant firing squads of anti-science know-nothings while these people infect (and in some cases kill) those around them.

I am old enough to have suffered from these diseases before there were vaccines to prevent them and I would have gladly rather been vaccinated then suffered from weeks of pain and suffering from measles, chickenpox, mumps and more.

Once again we see how, in today’s world, the actions of a small minority can deeply and profoundly affect the lives of those around them. Even worse, they don’t even care about the pain they visit on their children and certainly don’t care about the pain of others.

This is selfishness masquerading as parental care. They don’t refuse vaccines for their children but rather for their own, anti-scientific hostilities. I believe it is far worse to suffer the almost assured risk of a preventable disease than the small risks carried by vaccination.

Comments on

I walk the talk, too. My son has had all his vaccinations and been Spared much the suffering of our generation. And for myself, both my wife and I recently took a measles booster due to all the anti-vaccination talk and measles infection in the Los Angeles area.

She works at public colleges and I am on campus and around large groups quite a bit myself. After the UCLA quarantine of several months ago, it became clear that we both needed to protect ourselves again since we received our measles vaccines so long ago.

I beg you to protect yourself and those around you and vaccinate your children and yourself to prevent pandemics of diseases like measles, polio, chickenpox, smallpox from ever occurring again. We deserve it ourselves and we owe it to the future.

Categories: Health, Opinion, Writing Tags:

Warnings without action equals death

August 7th, 2019 Comments off

I came across this article tonight as I was scrolling through Facebook —

Mother of El Paso suspect called police before shooting about son

It is always with great sadness and hopelessness that I read about situations like this. Many times there are clear signs of what is to come but we have no sense of how to intervene and forestall the attacks. Surely there is some method, some process, both psychological and legal To redirect dangerous behaviors before they explode.

Too often in policing today, we rely on responses to violence — security cam videos, and calls to protect ourselves — rather than proactive actions like catching criminals when they commit smaller crimes and redirect them Before they commit larger ones.

Of course, there are large differences between common criminals ( if there are such people) and those who would commit mass murder. They are a world apart and require much different methods to defuse.

Still, as we have seen, there are signs in all of these most recent attacks that something was horribly wrong. These people often give clear indication — in both words and action — of what they plan to do. Too often, we ignore it at our own great peril and the peril of others and suddenly we are mourning again.

DW

Categories: Opinion, Writing Tags:

Be A White Supremacist’s Worst Nightmare

August 4th, 2019 Comments off

Be A White Supremacist's Worst Nightmare

Be A White Supremacist’s Worst Nightmare
Douglas E. Welch

I am a white supremacist’s worst nightmare. You can be too!

I look like them. Heck, given lack of sleep or enough alcohol and I can even slip back into my childhood accent and sound like them. I was raised in rural Ohio but sound like I am from Kentucky or West Virginia. I have had acquaintances be surprised that, given my background and upbringing, I am not a racist “good ole boy”. 

Given these outward signs, many white supremacists believe that I think and act the way that they do.

Uh….NO!

In fact, I am their worst nightmare — a “race traitor!” 1 

I will fight against their white supremacist policies and beliefs wherever I see them. I will stand up for others who are classified by their color and abused — if not killed outright — merely because they are not “white” or at least, “white enough” for the white supremacists around them. I will act as an ally for others no matter their race, creed, color, sexual identification, hair type, hair color, eye color, nose shape, place of birth, name, and all the other traits stupid racists use to try and divide — and conquer — the world.

So, white supremacists, be VERY CAREFUL who you talk to? They may look like you. They might sound like you. They might have even grown up next door to you, but they may not THINK like you. Like me, they might sell you out on social media, to law enforcement, to the government, before a second, racist sentence comes out of your mouth.

We exist.
We’re out there.
You’ll never know who we are — until it is too late. 

Now, what were you saying (Twittering, Redditing, 4Chan-ing, 8Chan-ing) again?

Let me copy and paste that for later.


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_traitor

Categories: Opinion, Writing Tags:

#NothingBeforeImpeachment No bills. No debate. No politics. Nothing until US House starts #impeachment. It is beyond time.

August 17th, 2017 Comments off

Do It 2017 #11: Eat the frog and other productive advice

July 27th, 2017 Comments off

Frog Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

Jack Hamilton

Eat the frog!

It has been said — in variety of forms throughout history, that…

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”

A thoroughly disgusting thought, but a good one for my productivity of late. I am as fond — if not fonder— of procrastination of specific tasks that most people. Tasks like balancing the checkbook to doing my daily blog posting to sweeping the patio. Many of these tasks are extremely important, but most also come with an unpleasant side. Sure, it isn’t like mucking out the horse stalls of my youth, but we all face them with a certain amount of distaste.

So, in an effort to keep things moving forward in all aspects of my life, I have taken to “eating the frog” whenever possible. I’ll get up, make my coffee and then face the most procrastination-causing task on my to do list. Once that’s done, I can move on to other, more enjoyable tasks without feeling guilty about avoiding them and knowing that that is probably the worse thing I will have to do today. It doesn’t always work, but I have used it to recently move a couple of projects forward that have been languishing for a while now. Can it help you? It might. Then again, you might be someone who is blessed to never procrastinate on anything. I envy you, but we all have to find out own way through the swamp that is any given day.

Bird by Bird

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’” — Anne Lamott

This phrase crops up in our household on a daily basis. There are times we all need a reminder that every big project is made out of many smaller steps — and sometimes even smaller ones. The only way to complete a big project is to take it “bird by bird.” In my case, this means making a daily to do list — separate from my overall to do list. This list contains all my typical daily tasks as well as those weekly items that occur on the same day each week. Partially this list is to help me remember all the little things, but they are also a “bird by bird” breakdown of tasks that move each project forward. Typical entries include my daily posts to Instagram, a blog post on Garden Decor, video clips from my talks, reading time-related documents and articles, feeding the birds (the real one’s outside my window), phone calls, emails and more. Breaking my larger tasks in these small, even tiny, steps, helps to keep me progressing even when I might not be able to complete the entire project today.

To some, such a detailed to do list can make projects seem overwhelming, but for me, I find great joy in progress, even the smallest progress. If I keep on doing the small steps each day the overall project will eventually get done. If I never start on the big project because it is too big then it will, guaranteed, never get done.

Work on a variety of tasks throughout your day

I don’t have any pithy quote to accompany this advice, but for me, it is probably the most important. If I focus on any one task for too long, the quality and speed of my work quickly diminish. I start making silly mistakes, misspelled words, fuzzy thoughts and more. I have to switch up my work throughout the day to prevent this from happening while still getting work done. This means I might do something like writing this post and then switch over to some video editing for a while. Sometimes it means culling a bunch of photos and then working on an Arduino program I have been trying to get running. Finally, sometimes it means I set an alarm for 20 minutes, lie down on the couch, allow the cat to sit on my lap and dose. Never underestimate the power of a short nap to reenergize your day!

Douglas E. Welch To Do List

I have learned over time that I am a variety junky in all aspects of my life. My way of working may seem scattered to some, but it works for my and my overall productivity seems to prove it. In many cases, some of my best ideas about a project come from when I am thinking or working on an entirely different project. You can never tell how moments in your life are going to interact, so it’s important to experience as much as possible and see what happens.

What are your favorite pieces of advice that keep you productive in life and work? Share them in the comments!

Do It 2017 #10: A gentle nudge can work wonders

July 20th, 2017 Comments off

It is a simple fact that, when it comes to productivity, we can all use a gentle nudge every so often. Our latest nudge came in the form of our new, young, neighbors. After renting the house next door for a long time, the owners were finally able to sell it outright to this couple. This has meant a lot of change…for the good…on both their property and ours.

We have been wanting to replace out south fence almost since the moment we moved in 21 years ago. At that time, our neighbor had some issues that made him reluctant to replace the fence. Then the new owners were not living in the property and so the fence was not a priority item for them. Over the years it descended further and further into disrepair — completely falling over in some cases.

Enter the new neighbors. They needed to dismantle the worse parts of the fence in order to complete their mortgage funding and we were fine with that. Even better, they wanted to replace the fence immediately. One of the reasons we hadn’t simply replace the fence ourselves was the cost. Paying for it all by ourselves was going to be expensive. Luckily, they were willing to split the cost. Just like that, workmen were on-site and 3 days later we had a nice, vinyl fence between our properties.

Moving, Moving, Moving

For me, it was a bit difficult to suddenly jump into action on such a long wanted project, but I also knew that this was the best time to get it done. It was amazing to have the young energy about giving us a push in the right direction. I have always sought out opportunities to work and hang out with younger people, especially as I crossed the threshold of 40, and this is one of the biggest reasons why. As we age, we can get a little too settled and a little too comfortable in our lives and having someone to push and challenge you a but can be a welcome change.

I know that our neighbor’s energy and excitement has certainly rubbed off on us. We have been working in the garden more lately — especially with Rosanne finally on break from her teaching for a few weeks — gotten our large tree trimmed and tidied, and we are getting our living and dining room paint refreshed after 10 years. As I often say, movement begets more movement. Action begets more action and that has certainly been the case here.

In return for all this added energy from next door, I am enjoying sharing any wisdom I have gained after 21 years of home ownership. We talk about their trees, what they want to add to the property and just general life stuff. They are free to ignore any advice I give, but it feels good to be able to offer some insight. 21 years ago we were the, relatively, young, folks moving in. Now we are in the position of being the “older” neighbors. I hope to be as good a neighbor to them as ours were to us.

Seek out energy and movement

So where can you turn and who can you turn to reinvigorate your thinking, your energy, your activity and your life? Is there a group that could benefit from your experience? Are there activities you can find that being you in content to younger folks who still have that amazing level of energy and excitement? There is nothing wrong with using a bit of that energy to add some fuel to your own fire. In fact, I think it is critical to seek out new thoughts, new places, and new adventures, especially as you grow older and more settled. Even better, you’ll find this new energy affecting parts of your life that are entirely unrelated. The simple act of being around more, good, energy means that you’ll be more inclined to do everything in your life. I know, for myself, the simple act of having these new neighbors has me re-energized to do a number of things — including returning to writing these regular blog posts.

From Today’s Perfect Moment

What would you do with a little energy boost? Take the first step and seek out those people and experiences that rev you up instead of those that grind you down. It can be a tough step to take, but it will become easier with time as each step leads to the next and the next. Like a snowball rolling downhill, it will gather its own energy and influence with just a little push from you.

 

Worrying about the right things [Essay]

July 16th, 2016 Comments off

Worrying about the right things

There are so many things to worry about these days. It used to be we worried about running out of gas or milk or making a mistake at work or missing our train. These days, though, we wake up each morning to more and more horrific disasters, both natural and — ever more frequently — man made. How are you supposed to cope?

As we head off to Europe this week, I found myself trying to get my head around all the big worries that confront us from, dealing with airport security to being caught up in political turmoil to making sure we make it home one piece. You know what? I will worry, but I have decided to worry about the right things on this trip.

Family festa at Casa Rinaldi House

I’ll worry about having a mind-expanding trip that takes me back to visit far flung family, new people, new cultural adventures and understanding.

I’ll worry about having a great time with great people — many who I don’t even know yet.

I’ll worry about helping my son better understand the world that surrounds him and how, through directly experiencing it, he can make it a better place.

I’ll worry about whether I am living the happiest, most accomplished, most impactful, most meaningful life I can live.

I’ll worry about meeting new acquaintances, making good friends, having amazing experiences, eating great food and simply enjoying life day-by-day.

I’ll worry about learning something new about the world, its people and myself every single day of our trip — and beyond.

I’ll worry about treating everyone as an individual and not some stereotype sold to us by mass media and politicians.

I’ll worry about how I can carry the lessons of our trip with each day we are gone and every day after we return.

We can’t always control the world around us, but we can do our best to control what we experience, how we experience it and what we make of it.

The next time you find yourself worrying, make sure you are worrying about the right things.

At Sperlinga with Orazio and Maria Conchetta and Filippo Montalto and family

Categories: Friends and Family, Opinion, Writing Tags: