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Jan. 17th, 2017

"...but soon. And for the rest of your life...." -- Rick Blaine in 'Casablanca.'

I'm not much on epiphanies. I've had a few and they've usually turned out well. A-ha moments are the magic we each hope and live for, sometimes found at work, other times making love and sometimes just hanging around. Sometimes they're loud and stand-up and sometimes they sneak up whisper and fade away, leaving the inspiration and nothing else. Those are the best.

I'll be 63 this coming June. It ain't old but it's damn sure old enough to push on some shit you feel you're overdue to do, y'know? When we moved up here last summer, we had some general plans to do stuff. Those plans are still generally in place, but priorities have adjusted due to Real Life circumstances -- none of which are negative. You just do what you gottta do.

I'll be getting a passport and an expanded driver license, the goal of both to again expand my horizons as quickly as possible. Not that we can do it financially, but I will at least be able to go the few miles up to Canada at will and to take advantage of any other international opportunity that might present. Not only this, but my reading will expand and I'll become a much more social person. I've voluntarily withdrawn for far too long. "Social" media makes us much too unsocial. I can't speak or act for others, but I can damn sure do what I can to make myself available.

I started college in Rome, then progressively worked myself up through Florence and Geneva through Paris and Brussels to London's Westfield College. But I haven't left this country since the mid-70s and, given what's going on these days, getting reacquainted with those elsewhere seems like a damn good idea. Not that I want to move, but Mark Twain was right when he said (not his words, but summarizing) travel is the best antidote to being an asshole. Even an overnight 50 miles away can refresh. It's time I made that kinda thing a priority again.

All this kinda revealed itself to me this afternoon, after a nap with a dream about having a beer or two with friends in a long-forgotten bar in Dallas. I can't remember the name of the place on or near Knox, but the dream brought back a too-long-gone feeling of wonder and opportunity. It all starts with being in the Here And Now, and we were able to enjoy a little of that this afternoon. As sweet as things are here, I wanna do that in more places.

I'm one who believes vacation is where you make it. We're not able to afford much distance these days. But I can damn sure make sure the roads and opportunities are open and enjoy the tremendous stuff offered around here. It's all in the attitude.

"...but soon. And for the rest of your life..." - Rick Blaine in 'Casablanca.'

I'm not much on epiphanies. I've had a few and they've usually turned out well. A-ha moments are the magic we each hope and live for, sometimes found at work, other times making love and sometimes just hanging around. Sometimes they're loud and stand-up and sometimes they sneak up whisper and fade away, leaving the inspiration and nothing else. Those are the best.

I'll be 63 this coming June. It ain't old but it's damn sure old enough to push on some shit you feel you're overdue to do, y'know? When we moved up here last summer, we had some general plans to do stuff. Those plans are still generally in place, but priorities have adjusted due to Real Life circumstances -- none of which are negative. You just do what you gottta do.

I'll be getting a passport and an expanded driver license, the goal of both to again expand my horizons as quickly as possible. Not that we can do it financially, but I will at least be able to go the few miles up to Canada at will and to take advantage of any other international opportunity that might present. Not only this, but my reading will expand and I'll become a much more social person. I've voluntarily withdrawn for far too long. "Social" media makes us much too unsocial. I can't speak or act for others, but I can damn sure do what I can to make myself available.

I started college in Rome, then progressively worked myself up through Florence and Geneva through Paris and Brussels to London's Westfield College. But I haven't left this country since the mid-70s and, given what's going on these days, getting reacquainted with those elsewhere seems like a damn good idea. Not that I want to move, but Mark Twain was right when he said (not his words, but summarizing) travel is the best antidote to being an asshole. Even an overnight 50 miles away can refresh. It's time I made that kinda thing a priority again.

All this kinda revealed itself to me this afternoon, after a nap with a dream about having a beer or two with friends in a long-forgotten bar in Dallas. I can't remember the name of the place on or near Knox, but the dream brought back a too-long-gone feeling of wonder and opportunity. It all starts with being in the Here And Now, and we were able to enjoy a little of that this afternoon. As sweet as things are here, I wanna do that in more places.

I'm one who believes vacation is where you make it. We're not able to afford much distance these days. But I can damn sure make sure the roads and opportunities are open and enjoy the tremendous stuff offered around here. It's all in the attitude.

Jan. 8th, 2017

"...let the good times roll..." --Louis Jordan

Today has really been the first chance I've had in the past couple of weeks to stop and rediberate and consolidate all that's been going on around here lately. I've now reached the point where I don't have a full day off anymore, so it has made for something of an odd partial retirement.

One thing I've arranged, though, is to take the day off on Friday, January 20th. Not sure what we're gonna do, but I can guarantee I'm going to spend Inauguration Day with nice folks in a pretty place. While I plan to continue speaking out against the new administration, I figure I'll focus on something else that particular day. Call it my own personal protest.

We're in a good place, personally and physically. We can walk to anything we need, the jobs are good and we're involved with great people and enterprises. I've been a little surprised we haven't spent more time with Stu and Lily and Tallulah, but it's heavy season on the mountain and we've had plenty to do ourselves. TBK has been taking on more at The Woolley Market and they've been giving us a fair amount of freedom. It appears I'll also be taking over the beer and wine. In addition, we're also talking about a new evening menu at Liberty Bistro. I have a part-time job, a part part-time job and I'm putting in some volunteer hours helping Kim. While it's only about 25 hours of paid time each week, it works out to at least a little work every day. It's okay -- it's just not what I thought I'd be doing.

This is a part of the world very conducive to reflection, and I've been taking advantage of it. We spent the first few months up here getting our financial feet under us, then getting into our own place. Now we begin the new year looking forward to actually accomplishing some of the things we've talked about.  I'm still looking forward to doing some brewing and winemaking. I'd hoped to do some fishing during the fall, but that can wait until later in the year. I still want to nail down a banger pickup. In the coming week or so, I want to start some cheesemaking experiments at the shop. While we don't have a full kitchen at the apartment, we have two great commercial ones to play in. The rest of it will get filled in as we go along.

The older I get, the more small things become big and vice-versa. My most prized Christmas gift is a jar of hand cream (very manly, I might add). The biggest thrill of the past month has been seeing my tiny granddaughter smile on Christmas Eve (and so glad I got a photo to put on my phone). Our move the entire length of I-5 from Mexico to Canada has been a pretty small step to get so much in return. This is a beautiful part of the world -- not only because of the mountains and trees and farms and rivers, but also because of the opportunities that just seem to appear.

We came in to possession of used Weber charcoal grill this week, so tonight I'm going to grill a steak for the first time in a year or so. It's another one of those small things that is a big deal, and I don't care if it's cold and rainy outside. One of the great things about Being A Giesecke is we know how to make An Event out of pretty much anything, and tonight's another example.

I refuse to buy into the fear so many are facing as we head into the new year. There's indeed plenty to be afraid of and concerned about and I certainly will not just go quietly. But I think the unpleasant is best faced from a foundation of hope and contentment rather than fear and uncertainty. One thing this move has reinforced on me is that while I can't always control what happens, I'm damn sure in charge of how I react to it. Happiness is definitely a choice.

We start 2017 with pretty much all of us in good situations, and TBK and I are finally getting into a position to fully be a part of things again. It has been a long road, but worth ever bump in every mile. It's gonna be a pretty sweet year.

Jan. 3rd, 2017

"...Courage is grace under pressure..." Ernest Hemingway

...so our "draining the swamp" has actually been a case of throwing whole chickens to the alligators, encouraging the snakes to multiply and bringing in more non-native vegetation. If you've lived in Florida or Louisiana (as I have for roughly half my life), you know how all this works and it ain't pretty. Unless you have a rich, old and white penis, you're pretty much fucked.

The operative word here is "rich," since just having a white penis ain't gonna be enough anymore when your Medicare is privatized and Medicaid expansion is gone. The comical thing is all these folks can't wait to dump Obamacare but they'll be keeping half of it and have no idea what to do with the rest of it. They're giving themselves at least two years to come up with another idea but, gee -- by then it'll be midterm elections and we don't wanna piss off TOO many voters, do we? Demographics are catching up in a big hurry.

I'm no Democrat and I'm a former Republican. I've maintained no-party or independent status since 1984, since the list of Alley-Oops in both parties is legendary. These days I'd probably identify most as a Democratic Socialist, though I'm not sure how sustainable or practical it would be in actual governance in this country. It works in much of Europe, but comparisons to, say, Sweden or even Great Britain don't really work. Our national debt is An Issue, our defense spending needs serious adjustment, our infrastructure is a mess and, most importantly, too many of us still can't seem to understand there are serious, glaring, out-loud, obnoxious and grossly screwed-up problems with race relations and income disparity.

I've lived most of the past 15 years in places where white, non-Hispanic males like me were (and are now even moreso) in the minority. Now I find myself in a place where the white population is at 86 percent (2010), down from nearly 92 percent in 2000. I am in no way saying I know what it's like to be an oppressed minority. That would be an obtuse and hilarious lie -- the kind our Dumbass-elect tweets almost daily. My point is I've been lucky enough to live in places with very diverse populations and participate in their strengths. While we're enjoying where we are, I miss the multiple influences and languages and, even more, a general curiosity about them. In some, sadly, there's an animosity. This exists pretty much everywhere to a degree, but it still saddens me. Our issue is each constituency thinks another is getting a better deal. Each is wrong, except for the folks so rich they don't care. Hello new Cabinet.

Speaking of a lack of curiosity, there is a apparently no reason to be curious anymore when truth no longer exists. When The Washington Post and The New York Times are "corporate media" not to be trusted and NPR is National Propaganda Radio and Brietbart's former chief is literally in the White House and even Snopes is held suspect and video verification is disputed, there is no common floor to build from. When no one can agree a sky is blue or seeds germinate in dirt or fossils are more than 6,000 years old, we've lost so many basics that a lack of agreement in our legislative bodies is a relatively minor issue. It's one thing to disagree on gun control or reproductive rights, but quite another to question basic biology and paleontology. Or, worse, to keep fighting over whose fairy tale should be supreme. I'm not saying there's no Supreme Being, but I'm saying it's a damn poor one if it can't arbitrate this kinda shit. As a species, we've been pretty sorry at selecting deities.

What disappoints, scares and yet inspires me most is the threat all those poses to women, the LGBTQ folks and, really, any minority you can name. This is the last gasp of the good ol' boys and it'll be a loud and long one. The effects will be real but only temporary as demographics take over. Stay resolute, noisy and compassionate. You have more allies than you know.    .
I hold out some hope as we enter a new year. Republican majorities in both houses of Congress are actually smaller than they were before the election, despite gross gerrymandering in the House. Our Dumbass-elect lost the popular vote by about 2.8 million, enforcing the reality there is no mandate. These are actually things to build on. The one thing I can't get past is those who voted for our Dumbass-elect despite his spoken misogyny and racism. You premeditated a vote with the Klan. Other issues were apparently bigger than equal humanity for someone else. Explain that. You can't.

I'm not anti-Republican, since (as mentioned) I used to be one. Many of my friends are. But I most certainly am anti-stupid and the GOP seems to holding a serious lead in that race these days -- as evidenced by most recent Cabinet selections. It'll be a delight in the coming year or so to watch so much of this disintegrate like the bad Italian government it is.

Dec. 16th, 2016

"..give them a light and they'll follow it anywhere.." -- The Firesign Theater

There's actually of shard of light today in what has been mostly a rather bleak political landscape over the past five weeks or so. It's that a true religious freedom bill (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1150) is actually going to the president's desk AND its sponsor is a Republican. God only knows (see what I did there?) if it's going to be rescinded at some point, but at least it's an indication not everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton has lost their damn minds. Lately it's been hard to tell.

Actually, perusual of various conservative sites lately has brought indication not everyone's a Klan-loving troglodyte. I say this somewhat facetiously, since I know it's not true -- but far too often the Trumpists and similar boneheads shout them down or denigrate them as RINOs when actually they're just trying to be a voice of reason. What really troubles me is a lot of the Republicans who originally worked against Trump and loudly worried about his outbursts of racism, sexism and other disturbing traits now seem to be okay with them because they now have a chance to repeal Obamacare, wreck public schools, deregulate an industry or take any number of other steps. In short, having power is more important than, oh, ten decades of social progress, ensuring basic human rights or simply being a decent human being.  They are basically saying, "we'll side with the Klan as long as we can privatize Medicare." It's wrong.

It's difficult to get a handle on how things are going to be because so damn much is in play right now and it all changes literally by the day. The cast is so new and so bizarre and largely so inexperienced, untested and, in some cases, completely unsuited and outright incompetent as to make observer's jaws clank to the floor like in in a Tex Avery cartoon. Or, worse, the spectre of some of these goons with real power is simply terrifying to anyone without a white penis.

Overseas, pretty much everything is up in the air and/or on hold because the new team is still being assembled (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2016/12/15/trumps-team-of-rivals-riven-by-distrust/?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=39357986) and because no one has been actually installed. And even that installation is shaping up as a real battle (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-tillison-pick-20161214-story.html). I agree with a friend that the only thing we know for sure these days is Inauguration Day is Jan. 20. Until then, everything is potentially in play.

As mentioned, there are right-side voices of reason out there on education (https://edexcellence.net/articles/the-innovation-infatuation), replacing Obamacare (http://townhallreview.com/2016/12/chen-repeal-deliver/) and other topics, but you have to look for them these days. I'll continue to point them out as part of an effort to understand and stay engaged with friends who actually are the "compassionate conservatives."

I've been unpleasantly surprised too often over the past several months.

Dec. 12th, 2016

"...There ain't nothing more powerful than the odor of mendacity..." -- Big Daddy

Today's pearl-clutching in DC is all about our national intelligence -- or rather lack of same -- and how/why/when the Rooskis hacked our national election. Coupled with yesterday's statements by our Dumbass-elect about how he's "like, smart" and doesn't need a daily intelligence briefing, now everyone's gone all couyon about charging Mitch McConnell with treason and demanding hearings in the Senate and this ties into recounting the votes and, well, I had to turn off the damn TV for a little while. After going the better part of three years without access to daily, live TV news, I'm already tired of it after ten days. Just. Shut. Up.

Do I think there's any treason going on here? Not unless there's a hell of lot more going on than I've seen so far. The Chicago Tribune has a pretty good analysis (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-russian-election-tampering-cia-fbi-20161210-story.html) of where we are. It's nearly comical to hear our very own CIA and FBI and national intelligence officials sounding like Captain Renault being, "shocked! Shocked!" the US is on the receiving end of the same kinda international influence peddling our own country has done since it became an actual country. But while the US has usually had some nefarious reasons for engaging in international intrigue, I think a large reason Vladimir & Co. hacked our election was just beause they could. They know as well as anyone that our new elected leader has less experience in international relations than (seriously) The Spice Girls and is easier to troll than than a horny 13-year-old boy (http://www.hoover.org/research/putinism-or-nationalism-neither-opportunism).

What's unfunny about the goings-on of the last few days is Mr. Dumbass continues to simply lie about his "landslide" win (it was not, by any stretch of an imagination except his own) and remain virtually unchallenged by most media. His ardent supporters don't care what he says, of course, and aren't yet (and might never be) fully aware of just how dangerous to our nation and the world this new Cabinet (if actually approved) will actually be.

I'm not just talking about serious changes from how things have been done by the past, oh, 44 administrations in terms of protocol or policy. I'm talking about unintended consequences we're already seeing (http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/the_changing_landscape_of_american_life_expectancy) unless we can get a handle on some pretty basic things like income inequality. Appointing the richest Cabinet in US history isn't going to solve this. Repealing Obamacare and changing Medicare without far-reaching  and broad replacements will be not only  irresponsible but also life-threatening for those already undergoing treatment under existing rules. And while our Dumbass-elect is unpredictable enough, this Pence character is even worse because he has an actual track record in Indiana of what he wants to do.

I was born in 1954, and that's where most of this crowd wants to take us. No thank you.
 

Dec. 10th, 2016

"...your job is politics. Mine is running a saloon..." -- Rick Blaine

Not much time for biffling today, other than to point out our Dumbass-Elect rallying the troops in that Cesspool of Stupid (Baton Rouge) http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_c53abc30-bd77-11e6-952d-831d884ef87c.html I think it interesting The Advocate just used an AP piece in its own back yard. When the local paper won't send a reporter to cover the president-elect, it tells you something.

Oh, and while this won't largely affect MY Social Security, the GOP wants to make my kids' SS pretty much go away. Gonna be interesting to see how President Dumbass and his legions react to this hokum: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-social-security-gop-20161209-story.html

Back later with a closer look at a few items. Enjoy your Saturday. 

Dec. 9th, 2016

..."things are always darkest just before they go completely black." -- John McCain

It has been a month since our election and, far from just "getting past it," those of us who voted against a Trump administration get more and more aghast by the day. The appointments being made to the Cabinet and to other senior positions are largely going to those ill-suited to the job, unfamiliar with rationality or, in the case of Stephen Bannon, representative of the worst and darkest elements of American society, politics and thought.

As I mentioned a month ago, it's not simply that my candidate lost. Political trends rise, fall and morph like the globs in a lava lamp. Even empty and demonstrably failed policies like trickle-down economics are ideas and approaches we have discussed and will continue to discuss. But ideas, programs and proposals from the left and right are simply those -- ideas, plans, programs and proposals. They are independent of gender, race and the other things that make us individuals. What I cannot ignore is millions of Americans chose to vote for a candidate supported by the Klan and other white nationalists and hate groups. They voted for not just a politician but a professional liar and snake-oil salesman.

I refuse to buy into the idea this is somehow okay. For a half-century, American society has made consistent if sometimes halting progress toward inclusion of more than just white males in positions of power. In one election season, at least nationally, we are readying a reality that denies women their reproductive rights, returns the LBGTQ to the closet and makes racial minorities again second-class citizens. Truths are now arguable, crackpots are equated with scientists and racial or religious confrontation is again An Issue.

Consider me now a part of The Resistance. Reviving this blog, renaming it A Clear Voice and writing regularly will be my effort to loudly point out the unfair, the poorly considered and the clearly wrongheaded. My voice is not the only voice but it is mine and will be direct.

To this end, I will be considering a variety of ideas from diverse sources and think-tanks such as The Brookings Institution (https://www.brookings.edu/) and The Hoover Institution (http://www.hoover.org/) to represent a variety of rational views from around the political spectrum. But whether they are from the left or the right, they will be inclusive and supportive of the idea that everyone has a right and equal place in American society. Those espousing otherwise will be roundly and loudly pointed out, criticized and at times ridiculed. Consider this a promise.

Nov. 9th, 2016

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell.

I'm drinking Spanish wine tonight, honoring those leftists who fought so well and still lost to a vast right-wing crusade that lasted more than three decades. Their undoing was their own, brought about by mismanagement, internal squabbling, inefficiency and ineptitude. But never by purity of heart nor commitment. I agree the comparison to the Spanish Civil War might sound a bit hyperbolic, but I don't know anymore.

My longest-time friend Carolyn (we were born a day apart and literally put into the same crib within days) expressed today her frustration with yesterday's election results and her mind is in the same place as my own. It's not that our candidate lost the election. I was on the losing side in 1976, 1984, 2000 and 2004. Political philosophy ebbs and flows and we're a republic so it happens. Note the years I was with the winner: 1972 (Nixon's the one!), 1980 (Saint Ronnie!), 1988 (Bush/Dole!) and the Clinton years. I also proudly voted twice for Barack Obama, Given that my mother was a Goldwater Girl in 1964, I can tell you all about both sides of the two-party system. I was also a reporter for 32 years, covering legislatures and politics in three states (AL, SC and FL).

I don't blame third-party voters for Hillary Clinton's loss yesterday. She came into the race with far too much baggage and was a poor political choice to potentially succeed Obama. But the DNC insisted it was her "time" and she was certainly the most qualified of any candidate of either party as the race opened a year ago. I'm not going to get involved in the, "Well, Bernie woulda won" argument because things simply never materialized that way. I also understand the deep distrust many voters have of her, given the (lemme roll my eyes here) email issues and other long-standing, shoulda-been-settled items over the past 30 years or so. Some folks just couldn't pull the Hillary lever and they just don't like Hill or Bill. Okay.

(A pause here. This "Crooked Hillary" and "lock her up" crap is bullshit. Plenty of very smart and experienced lawyer/lawmakers have spent years and millions of dollars trying to bring charges against her and nothing has worked. No charges, no indictment, no trial, no conviction. Some conspiracy nuts even try to say the Clintons have had witnesses killed. Seriously? The FBI has faced and beaten real gangsters with actual, real-live hitmen over and over. Guys like Capone and Moran and Gotti. They're not afraid of some pantsuited politician. Get over it. Jesus).

This nation has elected (through a sadly and tragically gerrymandered Electoral College) the single most undignified, unqualified, uncouth, unregulated, uncommitted, insensitive troglodyte ever possibly imagined for the role. Even apologists such as Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal and Rudy Goddamned Giuliani are comparative political gold compared to our new Orange Julius Caesar.

Note that I have not said anything about any of these men being dumb. They certainly are not. And neither is the electorate that decided Donald Trump should be the president-elect. The economic and political landscape that brought us to where we are (our economy is strong, job growth is good, the stock market is kicking ass, housing has made a comeback) is for better analysts than this one. But here's the deal....

I understand why folks couldn't vote Hillary. I know why they felt they had to go Stein or Johnson. But for the life of us (and we won the popular vote), more than half the electorate cannot understand why anyone could vote FOR Donald Trump.

The man can't tell a consistent truth. He doesn't pay his bills. He's a serial bankruptcy filer (disclosure: I've filed twice --once to save my house after Hurricane Katrina and then after Kim's medical bills became An Issue -- but I don't try to pass myself off as a successful businessman). He's on record multiple times spreading unfounded falsehoods about any minority you can name. He wants to boot Mexicans and Muslims without regard to circumstances. He encourages violence, admits sexual assaults and is, this day after the election, facing more than 70 court cases naming his companies and/or himself personally. He has been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and the list goes on. In short, he's a Major League, solid-gold, professional-grade dick.

My question, Carolyn's question and the question so many others of us have is just this: how can we in good conscience and in good faith continue to remain in contact with friends and family who have actively supported this kind of charlatan with an actual vote? I have a daughter and a granddaughter. We have friends and family members in who are LGBTQ. We are committed to, believe in and fully support inclusion. We cannot, do not and will not sanction, ignore or otherwise minimize a candidate or a voter who somehow thinks complete and open inclusion is not okay. In our world. we cannot and do not support any candidate who is also supported by the Klan. This is a deal-breaker. We were not raised this way. It is, in a word, UnAmerican.

This is why we're sad today. The fact our candidate lost isn't the issue. We get past that in a day or so. Even the 2000 election was a short sting. The fact the House and Senate are now Republican will change before long, given simply demographics. It's politics.

We are sad that too many of our friends and family members demonstrated they can actually cast a vote against equality and fair treatment and in support of racism, sexual assault, misogyny and xenophobia. We are shocked, disappointed, a bit befuddled, somewhat speechless and a little scared about what happens next.

But we're also very, very angry. If there's a silver lining in the Trump campaign, it's that it's apparently now okay to loudly and bluntly speak your mind without regard to consequences.

It goes both ways. We have the numbers, so buckle up.

Sep. 25th, 2016

"...you've got to have an ace in the hole...." -- George Strait

Life continues to roll along up here in the PNW. I gripe from time to time, but it's mostly for effect and not because there's a lot to gripe about. Sure, things could always be better -- we could find our own place again, Kim could find employment, the car wouldn't need some repair, etc. But we have a roof, food, wheels and I have a steady job and income. That's more than so many these days.

Some dickhead shot up one of our local malls Friday night, killing five. The motive remains hazy, but it wasn't some international terrorist. Just apparently some crackpot with a rifle who went around the bend at the Macy's makeup counter. We went by the mall today and it remained closed. Welcome to the US in 2016.

On the other end of the spectrum, we cruised up the highway about 20 miles and saw Canada yesterday. It's a simple border crossing we hope to take advantage of in the coming months, since Vancouver is less than 50 miles away. We are actually closer to Vancouver than downtown Seattle, which is an hour.if traffic is right. My sincere hope is we don't have to see this same border crossing as a bridge to political sanity next year. I hope I'm right in my feeling the Trumpsters aren't really as close as some polls make it seem. I'm hoping most voters silently see what a serious nutjob he is and will vote accordingly. It appears our Founding Fathers made the right choice with this Electoral College thing. I certainly have no great trust in nor admiration for Hillary Clinton -- but she's the only candidate with a resume appropriate for the job. . She is certainly the nation's most investigated political figure of the past 30 years and she has remained clean despite the nearly constant clamor. I'm hoping it's enough.

Speaking of resumes, I've got an interview Tuesday with the Haggen grocery folks. It's an upscale regional grocery outfit with a lot in common with my former employment at Rouse's. Kim and I have enjoyed working together at Columbia Place, but some recent changes have taken the shine away. I've been enjoying the three-day work week and we've had plenty of creative freedom while working within the budget. But the hiring of a second cook to handle the other four days has brought with it a huge increase in spending that threw the budget out of whack. In turn, this has us under pressure to produce a lower quality product AND could change my schedule to a four-day week with two of them being half-days. This is going to increase our gasoline costs without raising income, as well as meaning I no longer get four days in a row away from work every week. It's the kind of thing I hate to gripe about, since I'm employed and I'm fortunate to be in such a part-time position with other income. But it also isn't the deal I signed on for, and it's due mainly to the fact the other cook is unable to handle any kind of pressure. She's "exhausted" after three days, yadda yadda. Know what? Sounds to me like she doesn't need to be in a commercial kitchen anymore. What we do isn't exactly St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras Day (BTDT) or The French Quarter during JazzFest (that too) or running your own restaurant on Magazine St. (yep).

Housing remains something of an issue. We're still in Stu and Lily's basement and chances are shrinking we'll be out in early October. It's not that we can't afford rent. Matter of fact, rent is more affordable now than at any point since we left New Orleans -- and that's just with my income. The main issue is tight supply -- there are like ten applicants for every reasonably priced apartment. We're still in Chapter 7 bankruptcy for a few more weeks, and most property managers won't even talk to us until that's discharged. We can front a deposit and a month's rent, but deposit plus first AND last is An Issue. Oddly, I am also making just slightly too much money for some of the new 55+ places, which don't allow incomes above like $32K. We'll find a place, but I get impatient. At least we're lucky enough to be able to afford someplace decent. It's just a question of timing.

Kim hasn't even gotten a callback on any of her job applications. I have no idea why, since the resume looks good to me and any gaps are explained. I don't get it. It's one thing to get an interview and not the job. It's quite another when no one calls back at all. Weird.

The main issues I'm dealing with these days are internal, and have mainly to do with my own impatience to get settled in our own place again. I can't cook, read, meditate or rediberate properly if I feel like I'm horning in on someone else's space. On the one hand, life has been pretty sublime in a lot of ways since we got up here. I don't think I've ever had an easier time finding a paycheck, and that's pretty cool for a 62-year-old longhaired reprobate like me. Basically, sometimes I need to just get over myself.

For the first time in too long awhile, we can go to the store and buy pretty much what we want (within reason) and still be able to afford some unexpected things like car repair if need be. For now, at least, we've got back that ace in the hole we used to have.

It'll all work out. It always does.

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