Welp . . . after a Summer vacation punctuated by a month of Summer School, the new school year began yesterday. As it now stands, I have another three years of taking my youngest to High School and picking her up. That means I will have just celebrated my 75th birthday when she graduates, unless I can afford to buy her a car before then.
Problem is, She has so many issues I’m worried she will be a real danger behind the wheel, not so much to the world, but to herself. I should be able to afford driving lessons for her pretty soon, then we’ll find out how well she’s going to do.
I have to admit I’m reaching the point where I really miss being a grown-up, solely a grown-up. If I live to be 90 I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy my children as adults, and plenty of time to once again enjoy being an adult. Since I’m already close to 13 years older than my father was when he died, I’m not sure I’ll make it that far. Which, basically, leads me to believe I need to just appreciate what I have now and stop worrying about the future. I’m normally pretty good at that, but it seems the beginning of school has jarred my psyche somewhat.
The last few years I was employed at Rocketdyne, my job – which I essentially created – was to research social media for the purpose of bringing it inside the firewall for internal communication and collaboration.
As a result, I became both well educated in the use of numerous apps and platforms, and excited about the possibilities they represented. When the Space Shuttle program was nearing it’s end, everyone over sixty was offered an early severance package.
After some research I decided to accept the offer, which I characterized as a “gold-leafed handshake.” I was pretty excited about going out on my own and offering social media marketing services to local small businesses. Unfortunately, very few people knew what I was talking about and most businesses remained content to spend $200/month on a Yellow Pages ad that likely got thrown in a recycle bin the moment it arrived.
I’m not entirely certain, but it does seem like things have changed and many more businesses understand the value in promoting via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. As a result in finding it easier to get clients to help and supplement my retirement income.
How could I know what country I’m in if there weren’t so many flags flying all over the place? The Urban Dictionary defines “Jingo” as “Someone who is extremely and overly patriotic. Differs from regular patriotism in that jingoism is usually more aggressive.”
My . . . aren’t we exceptional, if we don’t say so ourselves.
Call me crazy, but I find it puzzling and borderline offensive to see flags flying all over the place. Flags are appropriate for military installations, vehicles, and uniforms. Same goes for police and firefighters. Even at schools they make some sense, and I have no problem with individuals flying them from their home for Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, and similar occasions.
But Arby’s? Taco Bell isn’t flying one, though I suppose you could make an argument for a Mexican flag being appropriate. The Hat has no flag pole and neither do most businesses in most any city or town. Flying a flag at a business is, I suppose, up to the owners of the business, and they certainly have every right to do so. I just can’t help wonder why it’s deemed so important to continuously announce one’s patriotism or theoretical love of country. If your flag is bigger than mine, does that mean you’re a better citizen than I; that you’re more enthusiastic about our freedoms and liberties, such as they are?
Also, we Americans seem to have forgotten our flag etiquette. In fact, I’d wager the most of the most enthusiastic flag wavers know the least about how one respects the flag. For instance, you are not supposed to wear it as a piece of clothing. Three people come to mind immediately: Sarah Palin; Ted Nugent, and Tomi Lahren. If you fly one at night, it’s supposed to be illuminated, yet I’ve seen many a home with a flag displayed 24/7, and unlit at night.
I’m not claiming to be more — or even as — patriotic as the next person. What I am interested in pointing out is the hypocrisy of people who wear their patriotism on their sleeve (sometimes quite literally) and lay claim to being super patriotic, despite having neither the knowledge, nor the understanding, of proper respect and etiquette with respect to our nation’s flag. When I think of patriotism, I harken back to what Thomas Paine wrote 241 years ago this Saturday in “The Crisis“:
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.“
A phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet also comes to mind. I paraphrase:
“The Jingoist doth flag wave too much . . . methinks.”
This overblown patriotism they exhibit is hardly convincing. If they were so damned patriotic, so pure in their love of country which — one might be disposed to think — requires a love of its people as well, it should show in their actions and their relationships with their fellow citizens. On the contrary, most of the loudest chest-beaters harbor a great deal of declared animosity to those they deem as “others”. It’s difficult to see that as something American values ought to exalt.
I learned a long time ago the truly strong are humble, reserved, and quick to help, not hurt others. By the same token, the truly patriotic aren’t likely to brag about or hold their love of country as a weapon to be wielded in a culture war against fellow citizens. As an American, I love my country . . . and I love it more than I love any political party, any religion, or any philosophy of governance or economics. As a human being, I love humanity more than my country, but I was born here and I’ve lived here all my life, so it means a lot to me; nearly everything I’ve ever loved is within its borders. Nevertheless, I don’t need to feverishly wave a flag to prove I’m an American. It’s my heritage, and I’m thankful for it, not proud of something I had nothing to do with.
The Republican Party has essentially dropped all pretenses of being representatives of the people. They are, with this execrable tax bill, thumbing their long and growing noses at us, all while opening up the nation’s coffers to serve as a feeding trough for themselves and their sponsors/lobbyists/donors.
Let’s be perfectly clear. They are always in favor of privatization, which nowadays serves nobody’s interests save the few (the 1%) who own everything. Every move they make is designed to increase our dependence, while simultaneously removing the few social safety nets that exist. Their God is Mammon and they envision themselves as divinely situated and eminently deserving of their wealth and power. We are here merely to run their businesses, purchase their products, and keep our mouths shut and our bodies where they can use them as they see fit.
Our liberty (what little we actually had) is being slowly eroded, our safety is not paramount, and our economic security is of little or no consequence. Although they all took an oath prior to being installed in their office, I doubt many of them actually believed in what they were swearing to. Here’s the text of the oath Senators and members of the House take upon being sworn in:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
And here’s the most salient part of the Constitution of the United States I believe they are neither supporting nor defending:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
How does raising taxes on the middle class, taking away healthcare for millions of people, ignoring science, exalting one religion over all others, failing to help victims of disasters, and raising the national debt over $1.5 trillion promote the general welfare?
I’ve grown a little tired of beating around the bush and I’m becoming increasingly interested in recognizing the entire Republican establishment as a fifth column; a nest of vipers intent on establishing a theocratic oligarchy and doing away with the Constitution, free elections, and any form of social safety net. Trump represents nothing more than their stooge with a pen. Not that I don’t want him to receive his comeuppance, just that the danger is far more widespread and pernicious than we’ve been recognizing.
I don’t know if we as a nation can survive until our next elections, nor do I know if we make it to our next election it will in any way be fair. The Republican Party has convinced a significant part of the country that the “Others” (Democrats, POC, strong, independent women, etc.) are evil and intent on converting them to our ways and, therefore, any manner of wrong doing they engage in is justified as self-defense, despite it being the result of their projecting.
During the height of the war in Vietnam I was convinced we needed a revolution, as our government seemed out-of-control and entirely unresponsive to the needs and desires of its citizens. I came to realize how naive I was and it has tempered my willingness to call for an uprising. Add to that my position as a privileged, straight, white male, and my feeling it’s not my place to endorse violence that may never affect me directly, while it is quite likely to affect many who are not in my position.
I’ve long believed when the next American revolution occurred, it would (and should) be led by those who are treated the worst in our country; people of color, and the working class of whatever race. Certainly not by privileged white boys like me.
Nevertheless, I do believe the time has arrived for insurrection and, although I don’t see myself (at 70 years old, with two teenage girls at home) being of much use, I will be quite happy to support any movement to right the wrongs being perpetrated on us. By any means necessary which, BTW, includes marches, demonstrations, vigils, letter writing campaigns, general strikes, etc. What do you think? Is it time to kick it up a notch?
Maybe it’s just me, but I find as I get closer to the finish line, many things don’t seem quite as important as they used to. After all, I’m going to be dead for eternity. I won’t even be me. I just. won’t. be. I’ve been contemplating this as long as I can remember, and I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.
So, all these things that seem to matter so much, soon enough won’t matter at all (at least not to me). Yet I continue caring.
Pro tip — You don’t have to know you’re making a racial slur for it to be offensive. If you didn’t intend it to be offensive, it just means you’re a fool, but not necessarily a bigot. Also, negligent is often worse than intentional.
Almost everyday I have to drive a little over four miles — each way — to take my daughter to school, and then to pick her up. In order to get a decent parking space, I have to make sure I get there early in the afternoon, when I’m picking her up.
Me . . . Waiting Patiently.
Generally, that means I’ve got at least 15 minutes to sit here in the parking lot and wait. So I’m thinking this might be a good time to post a few blog entries. I mean, what have I got to lose?
The parking situation here sucks, as the school was designed when most students walked or took the bus. That’s no longer the case and the parking lot is ill-equipped to handle the traffic. Simple staggering of final class ends would go a long way, IMO, towards alleviating the traffic, which would have the salutary effects of lowering overall parental anxiety, as well as saving gas.
When it’s really hot (which is often) everyone leaves their vehicle running so the air conditioning can keep them cool.
I’m sure something could be done. Unfortunately, as in any large, somewhat conservative organization, change is difficult. I’ll have to keep pushing. It’s like digital transformation.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.