by baldilocks

Red Pill–sort of

Since making a public New Year’s Resolution to minimize my time on Facebook and Twitter in order to finish my second novel, Arlen’s Harem, by February 1st, I’ve had minimize my time online in general.

The result is that I don’t really know what’s going on in the news right now, and it feels kind of good–I’m old enough to recall when the news cycle was a couple of weeks, rather than a couple of minutes.

Generally, I take two days off per week from the Internet Race-to-Comment, anyway, and when I come back, I have to spend an hour or two getting back in the loop. Three days of separation from the news-cycle fix nearly puts a news junkie in Low Information Voter (LIV) territory. But now, I don’t wonder why LIVs often seem calmer and happier: they don’t know that the sky is falling and, sometimes, it better not to know. Ignorance, bliss, you know.

The commentary race often gets bloggers in trouble anyway—if one is the slightest bit concerned about accuracy and about being original. That last concern is why I don’t comment on some topics and events—I have nothing new to say about them.

Staying away from shorter communications also has a positive effect on my ability to build a narrative. When I composed the bulk of Tale of the Tigers, I spent much of my non-typing work on it spinning yarns in my mind and connecting them to other parts of the novel. A handy, pre-smartphone tool was an mp3 player in which I could speak my story ideas without writing them down or having to remember them. (I made the grievous mistake of thinking through a story without out writing it down or recording it once…and only once.)

I’ve been semi-newsfree since about the 31st. Obviously, I’m going to have to watch the news a bit in order to post here and at my own blog. But, it feels good to know that I can still spit out 300 or 30K words without being fed by the Matrix.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on February 1, 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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baldilocks

by baldilocks

 

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And it should. Many famous people have died this year, some from old age, some from long-term conditions , some from freak accidents, and of course drug overdoses. Most heart-wrenching and thought-provoking were the deaths of mother-and-daughter superstars, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, within 24 hours of each other. But there were some non-famous deaths as well this year, including the mother of my Kenyan siblings, Jeniffer Dawa Ochieng (spelling correct).

The Truth is that most famous persons are famous for a reason. They accomplished something, if only to make a bunch of people laugh, cry, or tap their feet, making them a lot more useful than many. And many of the non-famous, like Jeniffer Ochieng, accomplished even greater things— being a loving wife, mother and grandmother, for example.

Another truth is that we all have to leave this existence; we all have to die. But what do we do in the interim? Live the best lives we can and count our blessing. For example, a friend who works for an airline gave me a ticket so that I was able to be with my American parents for Christmas. It was a great blessing indeed. (My American parents are in good health, but they aren’t getting any younger and neither am I.)

And after I returned to Los Angeles, I got thinking about my three parents, how happy I am to have hugged each of them this year, and what I can do to make them more proud of me. I found an answer.

In my tagline here at Da Tech Guy, I have been promising to finish my second novel, Arlen’s Harem—first in 2014, then in 2015, then this year. Well, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to finish it not just next year, but on February 1st of next year. It’s what I’m going to do, hook or crook.

And if I die before I start my third novel, at least I can say to God that I stepped out in faith and invested the talents that He gave me.

What are you going to do in 2017?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done on February 1, 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

baldilocks

Anyone on social media has seen thousands of posts blaming 2016 for all and sundry events: Weather, election results, break-ups with girlfriends/boyfriends, and of course, celebrity deaths.

It’s come to the point that stating that 2016 Is Not Killing People is an unpopular opinion, no matter than the writer correctly notes that addictions cut lifespans.

I must admit that blaming 2016 for weather events is a refreshing change from the global warming cacophony. As to election results, books are being written. Romantic relationships sometimes end bitterly, but, if two months after the fact you are still carping about it on Facebook, may I suggest that you seek counseling?

As for grieving celebrity deaths, it’s sad that talented people whose art delighted us and shed insight on the human experience have passed away. It’s also worthwhile to keep in mind that many times we project onto celebrities our emotions, our foibles, regardless of whether that person shares them or not.

Of course everybody enjoyed Alan Rickman’s acting,

George Michael’s singing,

and of course every little girl (and a lot of big girls) wanted to be Princess Leia. But there are people closer to us who inspire is to become our better selves.

My mom, who died in October, at age 96, is one of them. Another one is a gentleman who was on the board of the Princeton studio of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (now Learning Ally). He was a pioneer in his field at work, a fun and witty guy who answered my five-year-old son’s questions about it, a leader in his religious community, a good friend, father and husband. We lost touch over the years, and I found out about his passing just two days ago. When I looked up his obituary I also found out he was a war hero, decorated with two Purple Hearts.

So let’s lift a prayer of thanks for those who inspire us to be our better selves.

And stop blaming 2016 for everything.

Related:
Christopher Harper on learning from failure.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on Latin America and thr U.S. at Fausta’s blog.

apartmentla
This is not my place.

by baldilocks

I’ve lived in my apartment for fourteen months now. After having spent nine months in homeless housing, I don’t like to complain about my present habitation. And it is not that bad. Nice, relatively quiet neighborhood. Very racially mixed, as I said in my last post. The noisiest thing: car alarms and fast drivers.

I’ve talked before about my homeless sojourn; my first roommate had four AM hallucinations featuring me knocking on the walls and, as a result did things in “retaliation” like threaten my life. And, after I proactively rid myself of her company, my two new roommates were very nice older ladies who liked to sleep with all windows closed. I usually slept with a fan directly on my face and no covers.

Now, therefore, I try to revel in the solitude, the cool, fresh air and the freedom from the need to sleep with one eye open.

The only real problem I have living here is a very slight one: my landlords’ attitudes. Every time I tell them that there’s a problem, they act as if I’ve sabotaged their property.

Example: my front windows were stuck in the closed position for months, beginning just two month after I moved in—in September of last year. I let it go for the winter but when it began to get warm again, I told the owners—a married couple. The man came over and fixed them easily—something I was unable to do because I don’t have the upper body strength necessary. Then he mentioned that the windows had never gotten stuck before. When I said that they simply just stopped moving, he said: “sure they did.” I was silent. You don’t want to curse out your landlord.

There have been three other incidents like this.

I used to be a landlady—owner of a duplex and I lived in one of the units—so I understand about how tenants are sometimes. Heck, the teenaged son of my tenant burgled the battery out of my temporarily out-of-service car while the car was in the garage! I found out when I went to take it to mechanic. (I told him that a functioning battery had better magically appear under my hood in 24 hours or the police would be informed. I assume that he lifted one from someone else.) But to automatically be assumed to be an unreasonable breaker-of-things doesn’t happen to me often.

It kind of interesting to be looked down upon and have others expect the worst of you. Did I mention that these people were black? Losing almost everything I own has taught me that I am not my material possessions. If my landlords are lucky, they won’t have to discover this in the same manner that I did.

No more complaining.

And I have a new video up.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

28 Years ago I spent my Honeymoon with my wife in the Portland Ore / Vancouver WA area. My how things have changed.

You know there was a time when I wouldn’t have even thought it necessary to ask such a question, but given the events of this week that’s no longer the case.

Incidentally, I actually do want an answer to this question.

Imagine being a ten year old child during the London blitz. On the first night your house is being bombed by the Luftwaffe, you and your parents rush to the Underground, where you sit in the dark for hours. Tense as the situation is, it gets worse when the exit is blocked by debris from the bombing and you and hundreds of others must wait, not only for the bombing raid to end, but to be dug out.

After you get dug out, you go back to your life.

Compare that with the college students so distressed out by President elect Trump’s Tuesday night victory that they need counseling, vigils, safe spaces, therapy dogs, coloring books and play doh.

I did not invent the London blitz scenario. A friend (now deceased) lived through it. Aside from a reluctance to being in dark enclosed spaces (such as movie theaters or red eye flights), she lived a long, happy and successful life. She firmly believed that resilience can be learned, just as she had.

Many years ago I came across an excellent book by sports psychologist Jim Loehr, Toughness Training for Life: A Revolutionary Program for Maximizing Health, Happiness and Productivity, which changed my life.

Loehr’s thesis is that you can develop everyday habits that will help you cope with life’s stresses. His approach includes physical activity, mental focusing, and developing healthy personal habits (such as healthy eating and avoiding smoking, drugs, etc.). Once these habits are ingrained, they become valuable tools through which you will overcome life’s travails.

Physical activity, mental focusing, and developing healthy personal habits are exactly the tools my friend and her family in wartime London relied on; in their case they also relied on their Faith as part of their focus.

Why is this approach important?

From his more than 30 years of experience and applied research, Dr. Loehr believes the single most important factor in successful achievement, personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is the strength of one’s character. He strongly contends that character strength can be built in the same way that muscle strength is built through energy investment.

Rather than counseling, vigils, safe spaces and coloring books, I recommend that colleges across the nation hand out copies of this book and make it required reading. Add that to Pete’s approach and you might get your students to become realized persons.

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

robin-hood

Robin of Locksley: Touch him with that [blinding iron] and you’ll get an arrow through your throat
2nd Royal forester: You’re a bold fellow aren’t you?
3rd Royal forester: Think you can kill all three of us?
Robin of Locksley: If I have to. [throws a load of bread in the air & hits it with an arrow] Now untie him, and then leave.
1st Royal forester: Well our Duty doesn’t include getting ourselves killed, you can have him, for now.

The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Coming of Robin Hood 1955

Yesterday I asked some difficult questions concerning a Hillary presidency and then updated it linking to post by Scott Adams that said in part

As far as I can tell, the worst thing a presidential candidate can do is turn Americans against each other. Clinton is doing that, intentionally.

Intentionally.

As I often say, I don’t know who has the best policies. I don’t know the best way to fight ISIS and I don’t know how to fix healthcare or trade deals. I don’t know which tax policies are best to lift the economy. I don’t know the best way to handle any of that stuff. (And neither do you.) But I do have a bad reaction to bullies. And I’ve reached my limit.

I hope you have too.

I learned about bullies very young thanks to my brother Dominic.

It was the 60’s at St. Anthony’s school and there was a bully who had been picking on the other kids horribly but when he decided to pick on my brother Dominic he, showing the attitude and fearlessness that he would hold for his entire life, fought rather than knuckle under.

Dominic wasn’t particularly big or strong, he was nothing special and the Bully beat him up pretty bad…

…but Dominic gave as good as he got and while he lost the fight the bully was in such bad shape that not only did he stay away from Dominic who seemed completely indifferent to pain, but didn’t pick on the other kids in school from that point on. It was the ultimate Rocky 2 moment

What did that teach me? It taught me that you have to stand up for what’s right, that the best way to stop a bully or a thief or someone looking to intimidate you is to make sure that the cost for sai bully is more than they’re willing to pay.

Yesterday I wondered aloud if conservatives are oppressed by a Hillary Clinton administration how would submitting be better than resisting? I’m very curious as to my brother Dominic’s opinion on the matter.

Incidentally Dominic never changed. From that day to his retirement last year nobody ever messed with him again, not during school, not at his job, not anywhere. He’s enjoying a quiet life with his family but even in the tough neighborhood where he lives, a neighborhood that most of the other Sicilians left long ago, nobody messes with him, the price for doing so is too high.


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This is exactly what happened:

Yesterday afternoon in sunny and hot Miami my friend answered the doorbell. I kept an eye from the window.

An average-sized man in his thirties, wearing a pink polo shirt and khakis, holding a clipboard, immediately said hello in Spanish, and asked her if she was [her name], registered at that address. She said yes.

At that point I moved closer to the entrance but he could not see me. I could hear the conversation very clearly. The entire conversation was in Spanish. He spoke very clear, native-speaker quality Spanish.

The man did not identify himself nor did he declare any affiliation with any political party or committee, polling organization, or business of any kind.

He handed her a cell phone with questions that he claimed were “on the issues affecting our community”, but the list of five questions in English were all negative statements about Donald Trump, “I do not like how he treats women,” “I do not like his stance of immigration,” among them. The statements were in large enough bold print she could read them without her reading glasses. He asked her to check the ones she agreed with.

Her reply was that she does not answer political questions, and gave him back the phone. She had to repeat this a couple of times, until the guy finally realized he was getting nowhere.

He then asked her if she would prefer that no further polls be conducted at her house. She said yes.

The man, still speaking Spanish, pulled a sheet of paper from his clipboard and asked her to fill in a form, telling her that, if she signed that form, she would not be approached again with any polls.

My friend was not wearing her reading glasses so she took the form indoors. I went to the door (this is the first time he saw me), excused myself and locked the door.

I did not stop long enough to see whether the man carried or wore any ID tags or anything showing any affiliation. None were apparent at first glance. I just wasn’t going to leave an unlocked door unattended.

I looked at the paper my friend was holding. It had three copies on one page of a form saying, in English,

I PLEDGE TO VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON,

followed by some more text in English, and three lines for the respondent to fill in their name and address.

Again, I repeat, the entire conversation was in Spanish.

But the form was in English. Only in English, with no Spanish translation anywhere.

I read it to her aloud, returned it to her and she opened the door, gave back the form to the man, and told him she did not appreciate being mislead. He asked her what she meant, and she told him that the form was a pledge to Hillary, not a do-not-call request.

He had the nerve to ask her why wouldn’t she pledge to Hillary, to which she curtly replied that she would not pledge for any political candidate since her vote is private. “Even for the best candidate?” he asked. She again said, “my vote is private.”

At this point, the guy thanked her, said good-bye and left.

I don’t know – and certainly I’m not about to ask – who she’s voting for, but Hillary did not make any friends there yesterday.

Parting questions: If there’s no intention to deceive, why no translation on the form? Why no disclosure of who he works for? Who is behind that survey?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

UPDATE DTG: I just read this piece and I don’t think Fausta gets what’s going on here. The reason for the form is obvious and that reason is fraud.

  1. Step 1: Go door to door in the spanish community for the purpose of getting signatures on a form pledging the non english reading voters for Hillary Clinton with the name and address and an authentic signature
  2. Step 2: Submit absentee ballots in the name of the above person for Hillary Clinton.

If the voter doesn’t show at the polls, perfect, they’re absentee ballot is counted for Hillary no questions asked.

If they show up the vote and attempt to vote causing said ballot to be questioned for any reason the signature sheet is produced.

This is actual fraud straight up and every person in that neighborhood is being targeted, and you can bet if it’s done at your friends house it’s being done everywhere else.

Fausta your friend needs to call the Florida AG and the local media STAT.


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Loco motive.
Loco motive.

by baldilocks

While the intrepid Peter is covering the Trump campaign in New Hampshire, I’m not inclined to cover either Himself or Herself should either come to Los Angeles in the Last Days (ahem) of the 2016 Presidential election cycle—unless asked. Of course, it depends on who is doing the asking.

Actually, this is not new for me. I’m more of a “this is what happened and this is what I think it means” or “an odd notion occurred to me today, which lead to this train of thought” sort, than a documenter of campaigns. Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate what campaign documentarians do; it just isn’t my cup of tea.

So, instead of climbing aboard the Trump or Clinton trains, I bid you, once again, to climb aboard the baldilocks Train of Thought—a vehicle which almost always has an unexpected destination, even unexpected by the driver.  Sometimes, the Engineer keeps the destination to Himself.

Has anyone else noticed that it is becoming more and more difficult to communicate with others? Recently, I’ve lost friends over the most innocuous of statements.  It’s almost as if there’s a voice whispering into the ears of some, and that voice is saying something like “she hates you/he’s lying to you/they blame you.”

Those who seem to be heeding the voice are men, women, young, old, black, white, brown, yellow. All of them are ready to be angry over real offenses. And, if they can’t find a true offense, they will make up one.

This phenomenon reminds me of a dream I had last year—one I may have mentioned before. I was in audience as God and the Devil were having a conversation. I couldn’t really see them, but I could hear them.

At first, they were speaking in a language I couldn’t identify, much less understand. (I’m guessing Aramaic.) Then, God stopped talking and just looked at the Devil, while the latter was saying the same word over and over again. Somehow, I knew what the word meant.

“Felon, felon, felon…!”

The next day, I looked up the etymology of the word felony and found the Early English Law definition.

any crime punishable by death or mutilation and forfeiture of lands and goods.

According to the Bible, the Devil stands before God, day and night, accusing humanity of being sinners worthy of death—of being felons.

Every time I get into or witness an argument where unwarranted accusations are being slung, I consider these things and wonder what is being whispered into the spiritual ears of the accusers.

Chugging on!

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

Many people are writing about the fifteenth anniversary of the Islamist terrorist attack on America. Garrett M. Graff has a compelling article at Politico, ‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’ that tells the story of that horrible day by those in the Bush White House.

September 11, 2001, profoundly changed my view of the world.
On a personal level, it brought home how ephemeral life really is – especially since my birthday is on September 13th.

Ephemeral as it is, a responsible adult’s life has inescapable obligations and commitments, and we all enjoy pastimes in our valuable spare time.

Which brings me to the subject of pro football.

As a University of Georgia alumna, I loved UGA football while I was a student. I loved it while in college because of the social scene and the general enthusiasm of a football weekend, but to this day my knowledge of football is patchy at best. (Indeed, years ago my coworkers were annoyed that one week I won the football pool, but I digress.)

I do understand, however, how one develops a passionate interest in a sport, an activity, or a subject. I hope most people do; indeed, it is a poor life that does not experience a passion for something. In that sense, I fully understand why people are football fans even when I don’t know much about the game itself.

Likewise, many people  are passionate about politics.

Once you combine a passion for a sport with political statements, such as the (maybe?) intentional grounding plans for September 11, no less, tempers will flare, big time.

The excellent Argentinian movie The Secret In Their Eyes (not the American remake) explains a soccer fan’s passion in this scene. At the end of the scene, however, the actor says, “There’s one thing a guy can’t change, Benjamín. He can’t change his passion.”

The thing is, you can change you passion, not only once, but many times, in your lifetime. Ace explains:

It’s Not Give Up Something. It’s Choosing Something Better.

Ace both quit smoking and gave up watching football, because they became zombie habits (emphasis added):

For me, i didn’t stop watching football to make some political statement. I just realized it was a habit I wasn’t particularly enjoying — it was a Zombie Show I was watching. One of those shows you keep watching long after you have stopped taking pleasure from them, just because you’re in the habit of watching them, and they’re still on.

Zombie habits are just bad habits. If you’re not really enjoying something that takes up hours of your life: stop. You will quickly find some better things. The mind wants to be engaged and to have fun. You will find fun.

Ace is not alone in this realization, of course. Political-activist football players and teams are risking, as Juliette mentioned, that

A large portion of the NFL’s audience won’t put their monies out for this sort of thing.

Life is short; you don’t need 9/11 to remind you, even when it brings immediacy to the point. So, if the pastime has become a zombie habit, listen to Ace: You’ll find fun.

And good luck to the NFL guys.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.