Tag Archives: Daily Post

No pedigree, just a heart of gold.

Sammie didn’t have a pedigree.

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She was really too young to be taken away from her mother when she came home with Dad. Her mom had a pedigree: Brittany Spaniel. What is known of her father is that he was a good fence jumper and the source of her lab-like coloring and shape. The mother’s owners were appalled since they wanted pedigree. I won’t give details…or share my opinion about such people,  but Sam came home with Dad at seven weeks old because staying with mamma wasn’t an option. A tiny, by turns timid and energetic ball of mostly black fur with a white tummy and a heart of gold.

She used to worry when Dad went out in the boat, running back and forth along the bulkhead barking. She wouldn’t get into the boat or swim. She also worried when he climbed ladders.

She went everywhere with Dad.

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When she was young she was so fast that she actually grabbed a bird out of the air, a wren I think. Chasing birds is a young dog’s sport and as she got older she discovered fishing. It took us a while to catch on to what she was doing: she would wade along watching the bottom and every so often jump. Watching carefully we realized that, as she waded along she would startle the bullheads and occasional flounder into moving then try to pounce on them. She spent hours at it.

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She even caught one once, it had been injured by a seagull, but she was very proud.

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I’ll probably say more about Sam soon. We had to say good-bye to her last week and I have a big hole in my heart right now.

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Hard to swallow

I took a break from the media news last week.

Busy week

It wasn’t a real break for me, I just had a bunch of closer to home events going on. I don’t rise to these occasions like I used to.

Grandma was sick, noro-virus, her nursing home was quarantined. It is good that they are so careful, but a pain in the hindquarters for me: Friday was her 95th birthday and I had plans that involved a party in one of their rooms.

Dad came home from Arizona and when he called his cell phone was dead and his cable TV was being weird. This matter for me only in that he won’t make phone calls so I have to go over and do the calls. It turned out that these problems resolved themselves over night (his phone charged and the cable company finished whatever work they were doing nearby, but we were there before we realized that. The island isn’t far, I live less than 10 miles away as the crow flies, but with ferries a quick trip is both difficult and a bit spendy, besides we hadn’t seen him since the beginning of January, so we hung out for a while.

It gave me a chance to make phone calls. I received the call from the social worker that same morning (Thursday, remember Friday was the birthday). I was on the phone trying to rent a wheel chair van and find a restaurant that I thought I could get her into (“accessible” means dramatically different things to different people). It took a quite a while and a slew of phone calls but I did get it arranged.

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We did it! Everything went off well. I can’t say there were no hitches, but in the end that doesn’t really matter.

Back to the real world

Under the big top in the “other Washington”

My first taste of the news was reading A Lot from Lydia’s post: This Week of Trump’s. It made me glad I wasn’t paying attention to national news during the week. My stress level would have been even higher, and watching the crap unfold is a lot like watching a train wreck with a bunch of cars stuck on the track at uneven distances. Bang, bang bang. Pause. Bang. Pause. Bang, bang, bang, bang. Or hearing the firecrackers go off in China on auspicious days for weddings. You never know when you are going to get hit with the “hot noise”, or how far away it’s going to be. It draws attention from other issues.

One such issue: Deregulating airlines

This morning’s paper has a bunch of stuff (much already covered by Lydia). Since my husband reads the front section first, slowly, I grabbed the business section. The big headline on this section “Airlines strive to reverse rules protecting passengers”. My blood boiled. I find this hard to swallow.

The paper also had an article, “Why is it so hard to get the airline seat you want?” You should read it. But, spoiler alert, it doesn’t point to an industry that deserves to be trusted to police itself, or have the extremely minimal consumer protections in existence revoked.

The thing that bugs me most is that, while the article mentions that the US Department of Transportation has to hold hearings about changes, there is no mention of how one can  make a comment for one’s self. Since many people fly that seems like a pretty big gap in information. It is also interesting that the story isn’t listed on the front page briefs of their web site under business. Although Florida’s foray into Atlantic Salmon farming made the cut.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation temporarily froze all pending airline-industry regulations as part of an administration push to cut the burden of red tape on American businesses. And it asked the public and airlines for comments on existing regulations that could be halted, revised or repealed.

There is a DC Industry trade group (lobby) called “Airlines for America”, as well as individual airlines, who, apparently, know how to get their requests in.

Airlines for America, a Washington, D.C.-based industry trade group, called the Transportation Department’s initiative “a much-welcomed shift from a decade’s-long Washington practice of regulatory interference in the market.”

On the “A4A” website:

A4A advocates on behalf of our members to shape crucial policies and measures that promote safety, security and a healthy airline industry.We work collaboratively with airlines, labor, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.

Notice that they don’t engage passengers (aka, sardines) in their collaboration? The logic is that passengers should be represented by the government. Does anyone else feel uneasy?

Meandering through the ‘hood

Every morning (usually late morning) the pups and I meander through the neighborhood. They sniff and do other doggy stuff and I take my camera and do some visual sniffing. Every day different things catch their noses and my eye. Today was a mountains and blossoms day.

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Ornamental plum blossoms are everywhere .
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Just a few clouds over the Olympics.
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Love this cheerful fellow!
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Forsythia is more reliable than a groundhog.

It felt like someone flipped the switch and now it’s really spring.
Meander

“My thoughts are gray and white…and cloudy”

Yesterday was sunshine and relatively warm. I got my roses pruned. We went over and had dinner with Grandma, then watched a couple of episodes of an old British sit-com she likes together. She was coughing in a way that didn’t sound good, but she’s had a cough for a while, it is a side effect of some of her medications (she swears she doesn’t have side effects and speaks of how they haven’t fixed it for her, it has gotten better and worse, but she’s had the cough for years now). They’ve been doing tests and trying various remedies for a month or so.

This morning it was cloudy and the nurse called and said Grandma has a fever and they are doing tests to see if she has the flu or a bacterial infection of some sort. Of course, if it’s the flu we’ve been exposed…as has an elderly friend of mine who we saw last night at dinner time. It feels like the clouds looming on the horizon, and overhead. Nothing one can do, just wait to see if it’s going to dump on you.

I live with ambivalence. Things aren’t black or white. Sometimes they are dark, and sometimes bright, and sometimes both at once. My personality doesn’t handle this well: I am an engineer by training. We figure out what needs to be done then find a solution. Chronic health problems that come from an aging body aren’t things that can, for the most part, be solved. Occasionally there is something that can be fixed. and often those can be hard to determine among the chronic things.

You can’t stop over a little rain; “you won’t melt” as I was told time, and time, and time again by the adults who wanted us to go outside and give them a break, including my grandmother.

Just like life in Seattle, where you will do precious little if you let a little rain get in your way, I can’t let Grandma’s myriad health problems stop me from doing things. They have become more frequent of late, it seems like I am always needing to check in with the medical professionals about this or that these days. Last summer we came back from a long planned vacation to Grandma in the hospital and a VA documentation nightmare. At one point she said ” you can’t go away again”, but I need to. Emotionally I need, desperately, to not be waiting for her to die for me to live.

Life is messy, and I know that with all the good advice in the world I would drift away from the regular discipline of study and exercise without the incentive of a practical reason to do them. I’d somehow find something else precedence. Knowing that they are needed for my general health and peace of mind is not enough.

So we have three trips planned over the next six months: to visit our son in China this spring, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in North Cumbria in June and our annual visit to Mount Rainier in late July.

These plans help keep me grounded and healthy. I study a little Chinese every morning (push-ups for my brain) and, in addition to walking the dogs (often “sniff” is a more accurate description than “walk”), I am doing Walk at Home workouts several times a week to stay fit enough to enjoy the walking and hiking planned.

Confucius Say…

Every trip has its memorable features. Today’s prompt: Costume, brought to mind my trip to China last April. On that trip I ran into reenactments in Confucius Temples. The first, in the north-central part of Beijing, was most likely part of a middle school graduation ceremony:

The second was at Qufu, in Shandong Province, which is Confucius’s home town. I was traveling solo, but there was a large group tour for whom they performed several enactments. I had the best of both worlds. The people in the group kept being lined up to wait for the acts, but I wandered at will, then poked back into the crowd when things were happening…plus I caught a glimpse or two behind the scenes.

Asking for answers

I read a post from A Lot from Lydia this morning. It got me thinking, yet again, about how media decides what we should know about in depth and, as a consequence, what we should ignore. I spent a rare few hours with a television yesterday and you’d never have known many of the things, all verifiable, that Lydia mentions. Why is that?

The newscasters seemed more interested in shouting one sided one liners.

I have been pondering how more moderate people have been pushed aside, on both the left and right. The word “conservative” these days seems to be what anarchists call themselves. How can we get our questions answered?

This morning, after the front page of the Seattle Times above the fold was about

  • Our former mayor’s pension,
  • How to identify gifted kids
  • Amazon’s profits

While all of these are news,  they are not, in my view, front page material. Mayor and kids are local news and Amazon is for the business section. I realize that I am unusual in that I rarely see TV news (we don’t own a television), so they probably expect people to know more than I do.

However, I decided to try something, and I’m encouraging you all to do it also: I sent a note to the editor requesting a couple of in depth articles:

Dear Sir,
I rely on the newspaper for my news and like the way it takes a less sensationalized approach to reporting that allows me to understand issues.
There are two topics I’d really like to see discussed in depth:
1) The Russian Sanctions that were not imposed. Here are some questions I’d like to see answered:
  • -Why they were called for by congress?
  • -What exactly they were supposed to be?
  • -What is the impact on both our economy and Russia’s?
  • -What was the rationale for not imposing them (in depth with both pros and cons)?
  • -What is the legal situation of a president not acting on a law passed by congress?

2) The Tax law passed right before Christmas. I’d like to have a table showing all of the parts and how they will impact individuals, businesses and the finances of the nation. Even though the law was passed some time ago I’ve never felt like I fully understood all that was in it. The background for this is that I read recently that they will have to raise the debt limit earlier than anticipated due to unexpected impact from the new law.

Respectfully yours,

Do you think if enough people request the media to provide less sensationalist content it might make a difference?

What else can one do?

I’m Puzzled.

Random Reflection-What is real?

There was a lengthy piece in yesterday’s paper that gave me that “wow”, flabbergasted feeling. I’m trying not to be silenced by that feeling. Lately it occurred to me that these flabbergasting things are really stifling communication by reasonable people. The people who are hard over one way or another have a standard set of lines to go to, relevant or not.

The article: Paying to be Popular: social media’s black market. Since anyone reading this is at least a little involved in social media it’s worth a read. Fake followers for fake news (I am talking about real fake news, not the kind of “fake news” that means someone in power doesn’t like it even though it’s true). People who are “influencers” are buying followers so they appear to be more influential than they are. This causes their postings to bubble to the top in the algorithms that decided who should see what.

There was a scary article, in a scary special report called the Future of War, in this week’s Economist as well: My truth against yours: The power of fake news and undue influence.

It is a war…on us.

Here is the last paragraph from the Economist article:

In the future, “fake news” put together with the aid of artificial intelligence will be so realistic that even the best resources and most professional news organization will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the real and the made-up sort. Official web-sites and social-media accounts will become increasingly vulnerable to hackers, who may be able not only to provoke stock market crashes and riots but even contrive crises between countries that may induce them to go to war with each other.

The two articles are talking about some similar points. In the Times article some people have had their social media identities borrowed by these outfits that provide fake followers. The article was primarily about marketers manipulating the system. In the Economist they show how this was used during the last presidential campaign to manipulate outcomes.

This brought to mind something from a couple of years ago: I was chaperoning my niece and some friends at an over-night at my dad’s house. They made popcorn, watched a movie then started to do those Facebook surveys. The ones like “What kind of princess are you?”  I was struck at how much data about the personalities of these young people Facebook was obtaining through these surveys. Enough to figure out exactly how to manipulate the people who fill them out, not just by interests based on what they post, but by creating and choosing ads that will trigger them to react.  It felt evil. The kids were just doing the surveys for fun.

I think we need to ask some serious questions of ourselves about what the purpose and scope of social media should be…or if it should exist at all.

It feels like the system has evolved to stifle and manipulate us. Is there any way to hit the reset button and turn it back into a fun way to connect with family and friends? Or maybe I was naive to think that was ever the point.