THE GREAT SURGERY…maybe

Decision Making Concept

Decision, decisions, decisions.  We all make one or more of them practically every day of our lives.  We decide what to have for breakfast, what to buy with our money or what to watch on TV.  Decisions can be petty at one end and critical at the other.  Wars have been based on decisions.  Marriages come and go based on decisions.  Decisions are an unavoidable part our existence.  We cannot escape them.

Opinion is decision’s compass.  Usually, what we decide is based on opinion–our own or those of others. Opinions come from two parts of the human body: the gut or the brain.  “I have a gut feeling” or “I have to go with my gut” are lines we’ve all said and heard.  A simple “I think…” works for all other opinions.  The more complicated the decision, the more opinions we usually seek.  Often, there can be more opinions in the room than there are people offering them.  Everybody loves to give their opinion, welcomed or not.

When it comes to serious medical issues and how to respond to them, many of us seek a “second opinion.”  It is a lot more comforting when the first and second opinion agree.  The patient can proceed with the twice-recommended procedure feeling reasonably confident that he or she has made the right decision. It’s a no-brainer as well as a no-gutter. But what if…

What if the first and second opinions don’t agree?  Whoa! Now this is a whole different animal, especially if major surgery is involved.  Which opinion is right?  Which opinion do you trust?  Which one may seriously affect the outcome of the surgery?  The compass is spinning now…and the decision has become tenuous.

I won’t go into detail, but this is the scenario I am faced with right now.  I have surgery coming up in two weeks and the second opinion I received yesterday called for a more conservative, less aggressive operation than plan #1.  There are several “side issues” going on inside my body which present some challenges to surgery.  These won’t stop the surgery, but they do add to the discussion.  Well, now what to do?  This is a moment when I would probably like more opinions, but that is not practical.

My only sensible alternative is to confront doctor #1 with the concerns I developed after seeing doctor #2.  Doctor #1 responded appropriately today by insisting I return to his office and review all the evidence, and go over my concerns.  He said he would explain all the alternatives and levels of surgery from which I can choose the one that makes me most comfortable…although some of them, he offered, will not ease my pain as much as others.  He made a special appointment for me tomorrow morning. Importantly, I was pleased that he was not defensive in any way.

Decision, Decision, Decision…I wonder what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow.

*****

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THE GREAT MOVE, Continued…

Truckupdat3Move?  What move?  Uh-0h, things have gotten complicated.  The Great Move is being moved.  We have had to postpone it.  Note, I said postpone, not cancel.  Not to bore you with my medical problems, I thought I could handle the move despite all the pain issues I’ve been having with my back.  The plan was to move, then have the inevitable spinal surgery that’s been in the works for several months.  Well, the back didn’t agree with the timing of our decision and it let me know it. I tried to overrule its objection several times, but to no avail.  Just for spite, it increased its intensity.  I was reduced to a cantankerous cane weilding, floor crawling , wounded wad of whimpering kibble…or something like that. I could just about lift an empty box, let along pack one full.surgeon2

So, our original decision has been reversed:  surgery now, recover, then pack up and move.  The one thing that is really messed up is that we will not be able to take advantage of the timeliness of listing the house when parents are pursuing a summer move into an “A-rated” elementary school neighborhood, which ours  is.  The positive is that now I am no longer in a rush so I can slow the pace.  One thing is for sure…I am NOT unpacking what I’ve already packed.

During the early stages of packing I was able to set aside a lot of stuff for The Great Garage Sale.  I have decided the show must go on.  As soon as I am able, I will get the sale organized and Macy’s will just have to suffer the loss of business for one day.  I’ll let you know how that goes, probably from the deck of the new yatch I will have purchased from the Great Garage Sale profits.

Okay, now then, you are all caught up on The Not So Great Move, Yet.  We will resume all that next fall if everything goes well in the O.R.  Hmmm…I wonder if my blog should cover The Great Surgery!

*****

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Spending Spree, a poem

For those who have hung around this blog for a few years you know that I’ve been prone to rhyme from time to time.  It’s been a while…lucky you!  But your luck has run out.  The urge came and here’s where it went….

The wooden rocking chair at the beautiful view terrace is waiting for someone to relax on. GA USA

       I know, I should be grateful for what I’ve got.

       I shouldn’t resent what I have not.

       But what a fantasy it would be to me

       To embark upon a spending spree.

       I cannot think what I would buy first

       To relieve my wallet before it burst.

       Probably it’d be something outrageous

       Perhaps a red Jaguar looking just gorgeous.

       Or would it be something for my Rosemarie?

       Something unique and exquisite it’d have to be,

       She loves jewelry, so that’s a no-brainer,

       But I’d probably get her something saner.

       Like a Mediterranean cruise on a private yacht.

       I know her well, she’d like that a lot.

       We’d be packed and gone most of the year.

       Surely the lure of new places wouldn’t keep her here.

       Me, I’d just as well rock on my old rockin’ chair,

       Not really caring if I were here or there.

       Just  knowing there’d be no more struggle, no more grind,

       It’d be worth all the wealth, just having peace of mind.

*****

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THE GREAT MOVE, Continued…

Truckupdat2For those just tuning in, here’s a quick summary:

–Rosemarie and I have decided to move after 22 years in our current home.  We want to/need to downsize.

–Because we don’t have a gazillion bucks stashed away, we need to sell before we buy.  So we plan to pack up, store what we will take with us, and then live somewhere temporarily while we look for a new home.

–We are considering moving to the west coast of Florida (we are on the east coast right now) or we could move around the corner.  We really don’t know yet.

So we have put in a few days of packing and have found it a million times more daunting and exhaustive than the last time we did it…when we were 22 years younger and free of backaches and failing stamina.  We needed a break, yes already!  So we decided to take two days for a road trip to the west coast of Florida and look around a little to see if there are some locations we might consider.

We spent the first day touring Ft. Myers which is the largest “city” in the area we were investigating.  While we spent the most time there, we left without anything yelling “buy me.”  That actually happened, 45 minutes south of  Ft. Myers, near Naples.  We took a side trip to Naples, a place we have visited in the past and would roam around there for most of day two.  It is a major South Florida attraction because it is high-end, a great place to vacation and extremely attractive…it has all the elements.  South of Naples is Marco Island, another place to worship if you have the money.  Houses in these two areas typically look like the one below.   They are large, beautiful and cost a lot to keep that way.

Naples4

Downtown Naples is “botique headquarters” for clothing, jewelry, gift shops, and just about any retailer you would like to frequent.  The architecture lives up to expectation as you drive through the main shopping are of downtown Naples.  In the winter the traffic is ten times heavier than during the summer as “snowbirds” from the cold north descend upon the their second homes from about November through April.

downtnnap

North of Naples if Bonita Springs, another area we like.  The beaches on the west coast of Florida are much different from those on the east. First of all, the water is on the left instead of the right, a much repeated joke in these parts.  The water is much calmer than the “wavy” east coast surf.  Next, the sand is whiter and much finer (like Jersey beach sand). Below are two beachy scenes of Bonita Beach.

So what said “buy me” was a new development we visited midway between Marco Island and Naples. It was a huge development with all kinds of housing environments, single homes to condos.  We went through two condo units and would have been happy in either one.  The location was good, the local shopping was good, the scenery was good, the price was not good.  It is horrible when you come upon something you want but it’s not practical and in keeping with your goals.  But it was nice to dream for an hour or so until we floated back down to the sidewalk, got in our car and left for the trip back home.  We could still eventually wind up living in this area, it would just have to be a little farther away from the beach were the prices are more in range.

Okay, road trip #1 is done, as is Update #2.  It’s back to packing more boxes…and more boxes…and more…..

*****

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MY ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY “CORRECTION”

American cemetery in Normandy,France.

Many Americans routinely spend their three-day holiday weekends with family, sometimes traveling or just gathering for a special meal or picnic. Many others go shopping because retailers looovvvvveee  to run sales during a holiday weekend.  Such are the activities of many Americans this weekend as we honor Memorial day.  Notice I said “honor” Memorial Day, not “celebrate.”    “Celebrate” is not the correct term for this particular holiday.   Fewer and fewer Americans understand that.

Each year at this time, I hop up on my soapbox to remind many in the younger generations, and I’m sorry to say some of my peers too, why “Happy Memorial Day” is simply not the proper greeting to use for this holiday. With that in mind, here again for 2019 is my annual posting for Memorial Day…

arlintoncem

I am a traditionalist.  You remember the song, Tradition, from Fiddler on the Roof, don’t you?  “And how do we keep our balance?” asks Zero Mostel.  “I can tell you in one word,” he says–-“Tradition!”   Now, when it comes to certain holidays, especially the patriotic ones, I went to the School of Normal Rockwell where I learned how to observe them.  That said, here is my take on Memorial Day.

Cem3

First of all, many of you have it all wrong.  This is NOT a joyous occasion that we are honoring this holiday weekend.  What was originally called Decoration Day was established by a group of Union Army veterans in 1886 following the Civil War.  The former soldiers thought it would be appropriate to set aside a day to honor those Americans who had died in service to their country.  Veterans of the Confederate Army did likewise on a totally different day.  Eventually, the two holidays merged into one, now called Memorial Day.  It is held on the last Monday of May.

Crosses in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

It is tradition that American military graves are decorated this day.  Those in Federal cemeteries in the United States and abroad are usually adorned with a small American flag.  When I was a kid in the 1950’s, I remember seeing lots of American flags on Memorial day.  They were hung on poles or were draped from window sills, porch railings and anything else that one could be tied to.  Almost every household displayed a flag—and I lived in a row-home neighborhood so you can just imagine the sea of red white and blue that ran endlessly down the blocks, one after the other.  Of course, World War II was still very fresh in the minds of Americans, especially anyone who had lost someone in the war.  Most storefront windows also displayed flags back then, not sale signs.

No shining academic record do I hold, but I cringe when I hear a young person today who does not know the difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, let alone any of the great conflicts that followed them.  I am not making that up.  I realize that I sound like an old curmudgeon when I criticize “these kids today” who have no concept of the sacrifice their forefathers made for them.  There are many adults too who have gotten caught up in the redundancy of how Americans celebrate their historic events.  As such, we treat all holidays pretty much the same: big retail sales, family gatherings and sporting events.

Jewish star

But wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day” is…well, it’s just not correct. Think about it. If your neighbor recently lost a son or daughter in Afghanistan, would you feel comfortable wishing them a “happy” Memorial Day?   This is a sad day, a solemn day when Americans should take a formal, structured time-out to think about and pay tribute to the thousands who died so that we and many others who aren’t even Americans can continue living in a protected and free environment.  Unfortunately, a lot of that thought process is gone from this holiday.  Memorial Day does not impact as many of us in the same manner as it once did.  It is no longer relatable to all of us.  It is no longer as relevant.  It is fast becoming a tradition lost…and it leaves us, as Zero Mostel said, out of balance.

*****

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SURVEY SAYS!

surveytilt

If one more company asks me on a scale of 1 to 5 how I feel about their product, service, personnel or the conversation I had with them, I  think I will  S C R E A M !

Okay, I get it.  In fact, I use to send out customer surveys way back when I was a working person and involved in the marketing of my company’s products.  Back then, such surveys were uncommon so when someone received one, they were prone to fill it out and send it back to the company.  We didn’t have the luxury of doing the survey on a computer.  We had to have the survey formally printed on a post card, then snail mail it to the recipient and wait for the person to snail mail it back.  The return rate while okay, wasn’t anything astronomical.  I thought maybe we should send out a follow-up survey asking folks what they thought about our survey.  No one else thought that was a good idea.

If there is one thing you can count on in the marketing process USA-style it’s duplication.  Once someone comes up with a new and innovative idea it won’t retain that status very long.  If it is a good idea then you will begin seeing it used by everyone everywhere.   This is what has happened with the survey.  It is almost impossible to have any kind of relationship with a company and NOT receive a survey asking you all kinds of questions about your experience.

I have adopted a universal survey boycott.  I answer none of them.  If they come in my e-mail….delete!  If they arrive in my snail mailbox…trashcan!  If someone calls with a survey….goodbye!  Maybe, just maybe, if someone used a new format, maybe maybe maybe I’d fill it out.  I though toilet paper might be a good survey medium.  Each square would have its own question.  I mean, you’re sitting there with not much to do and what a great time to opinionate.  No one else thinks this is good idea either.

I admit there have been times when I have been tempted to fill out a survey, but usually I cut to the chase. I skip all the Q&A stuff and I go directly to the little block of white space at the end where you can actually enter comments.  That’s where I tell AT&T that waiting on hold for over a half-hour until a representative was done helping someone else and was ready to talk to me, is not only very frustrating, but having to listen to their music-on-hold for that amount of time was enough to make you want to blow your brains out.   Which brings me to another area to vent about.  Here is a business opportunity for you.  There needs to be a company that manufactures a decent music-on-hold product.  First, the music has to be “neutral” but pleasing (that’s a very subjective requirement) and second (but I should have put it first) the quality has to excellent.  Not only is AT&T’s music-on-hold a loud and lousy selection of blaring saxophone, the quality is enough to make your inner ear implode.  After hearing it over and over and over and over and over and over, etc., you are tempted to say the hell with the problem you called about and hang up.  It’s simply not worth it.  And even then, after you’ve suffered through on-hold forrrevvvvvver, finally someone is there to assist you…but you cannot understand a word they say because their accent is so thick.  But that’s okay because you can eventually tell his or her boss how difficult it was to resolve your problem because  you could not comprehend a damn thing the support person said to you.  And how do you do that?  On the survey, of course!  Trust me…you will get one.

*****

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THE GREAT MOVE, Continued…

 

As discussed in my previous posting, Rosemarie and I have begun the initial phase of getting ready to pack up the house and stick the “For Sale” sign in the front lawn.  Actually I lie.  Our Home Owner’s Association prohibits any kind of signage on the front lawn.  The rules say nothing about my standing out there naked and yelling that the house is for sale.  Of course, this may scare off buyers instead of attracting them.  A simple, tasteful sale sign would be more practical, but HOA’s do not factor in “practical” when they make up their rules.  But I digress.list

Anyway, this is not a drill. It’s a big move—we’ve been in this house for over 22 years.  What all this means is that my life is suddenly, compulsively preoccupied with an assortment of lists.  I’ll explain. First.  What is known

  1. We need to pack and pack now.
  2. We need to have the house listed by June to fit the timing needs of young parents who want to live in our community so their children are ready for fall registration at the “A” classified elementary  school around the corner.
  3. We definitely don’t get things done as fast as we did when we were younger.

Second:  What is NOT known:

  1. Exactly where we are moving!
  2. The logistics of storing things between houses
  3. The logistics of storing us between house
  4. How much is all this going to cost us?

In the meantime I have discovered that our lives have become divided into three piles:

     Pile 1:  Things we will keep and need to be packed and stored.

    Pile 2:  Things to sell via the Internet or at one mother load garage sale.

    Pile 3:  Things we need to give away or throw away.                                                                                 

I haven’t yet developed a list of lists but I sense one will exist soon enough.  One danger in the packing process that I have found disturbing is the stop and reminisce phenomenon.  This happens a lot when you unearth something you haven’t seen for a while or maybe even forgot you had.  So there you sit, spending time getting reunited and bonding with whatever item it is you have rediscovered.  It usually reeks of fond memories and lots of nostalgia—the two enemies of efficient packing.

Okay, enough time spent on blogging.  I’ve got packing to do.  Watch this space for further updates on the Great Move as they develop.  Breaking news will be posted whenever I get around to it.

*****

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BUCKEL UP SPARKY…IT’S A GO!

For the past year Rosemarie and I have been talking about moving. We’d go back and forth on the good, the bad and the ugly of contemplating such an idea.  The entire process of just thinking about it, trying to decide and anticipating what it all means, has been…well, it’s been daunting. This past weekend we finally came to the conclusion we should do it despite the work involved and the emotions it’ll stir up.  We have, after all, lived in this house over 22 years.  Do you know how much “stuff” comes into a house during that amount of time…and stays!      

So why are we embarking on this voyage instead of just coasting along as we have been?  Mainly, we don’t need this large of a house anymore, especially considering the amount of time, effort and money it takes to maintain it.  It is time to downsize.  It will make life more affordable and easier on us physically. We live in a two-story and the stairs have become an issue.  It’d be great to live on one level.

We moved a lot when we first got married.  I kept getting new jobs and as we earned more money we could afford to live closer to work and an upgrade in our digs was always welcomed.  Sometimes I’d have to move to the new location almost immediately and begin work, leaving Rosemarie behind to do all the packing and moving. But we were young then and got a lot more done in a day than we do now—a LOT more.

This time is different now that we are retired and the “job factor” isn’t part of the process.  But there are new elements that are.  First and foremost:  stamina.  It seems to have gotten up and left.  It doesn’t want any part of cleaning and packing.  Yesterday I filled three boxes.  Yeah, three boxes…that’s all.   At this rate we should be ready for the actual move sometime in 2026.  

I am a great purger. I love throwing things out. Clutter is just not in my blood so if something has been sitting around unused and untouched for 5-10 years, then it’s time for that thing to get the heave-ho.  Rosemarie, on the other hand, is a great hoarder so already there’s lots of bickering about what gets packed and what gets tossed.  It’s going to be a challenging few weeks while we sift through each room…and each other.

Our plan is to sell first, keeping only the minimum of household goods and then putting it and ourselves into temporary storage while we take our time looking for a new place.  We may move around the corner or across the state…just don’t know yet.  That’s why we decided to unload the house first so that we can take our time and then “pounce” on a new place the minute we find one that says “buy me.”   We want to avoid finding something first and then not being able to move on it because we’re still locked into the old place.   We think all this makes sense.  The only difficult part is doing it!  

So, life has suddenly gotten a bit exciting around these parts.  I haven’t yet figured out the ratio between boxes packed and rest stops taken.  I assume it will all pan out on its own.  One way or another, it’s going to be a moving experience for the two of us.       

*****            

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I GOT A NEW OLD PHONE!

I got a new phone.  It is not quite the experience of getting a new car, although for younger folks I suppose it is based on the amount of time and money they spend on their phones.  My purchase, however, was a step way backwards and I know it definitely defines who I have become…not who I once was.

Technology is passing me by. I am officially one of the elder citizens who cannot keep up all these new fangled gadgets and whatchamacallits. I used to be on the top of technology, especially having spent my career in the communications business (commercial radio).  When it came to a desktop, the keystone for my computer era, I was always state of the art.  Meanwhile, I leased automobiles so I had a new one every three years, each one more advanced than its predecessor.  But that was then, and now…well, it is what it is. 

I do not live by the clock anymore.  I don’t have a daily schedule of meetings or places to be at and I’m home on time because I am usually already home.  Retirement is a whole new lifestyle.  Now that I’m a good decade into it, I don’t have the need for a fancy phone.  

Up until last week, I had a Pixel 2—a $600 plastic box filled with so many electronics and cyber what-all’s that it probably would have washed my car if I downloaded the right app.  But that was the trouble with it—It put me in app overload.  I could not figure out how to get it to do all the basic things I wanted it to do, plus the gazillion other things it could do that I wasn’t even aware of. Add to that, it seemed every time I picked it up it appeared with a whole new display filled with the latest do-dah’s that the automatic update system decided I must have.  Maybe I must have them, but I didn’t know how to operate them. Once I managed to learned how to use one or two of them, along came another update that wiped them out and replaced them with new alien creatures for me to figure out all over again.  I hated it. I hardly used it. I could not depend on it. 

Sometimes it would ring and the answer button disappeared. While it kept ringing I would swipe, tap, punch and spit on any button or icon that showed up…but none of them would answer the phone.  I’d hand it over to whoever was with me and ask them to answer it.   They couldn’t figure it out either.  And, oh yeah, that $600 price tag is something I would have never accepted if it hadn’t been hidden and double-talked by the salesman and somehow molded seamlessly into my contract.  Shame on me.  So I was to be stuck with it for two years. Last I checked, I was told I still had 8 months to go on it.  I already felt I’d had it for 8 years. I had fallen into phone hell and I couldn’t get up.

But wait!  There was a cyber lining in my cellular sky.  Nathali the Phone PheeNom from AT&T, a competing company to the one I was with, came to my rescue.  There she was, sitting at my dining room table (yes, she made house calls) explaining how she would give me a new version of the original star-trek flip phone…and it came with the basics of a camera, texting and a collection of USEFUL apps.  I was in heaven.  It was one-quarter the size of my old moose phone.  I didn’t have to take it out of my pocket every time I sat down.  And for Rosemarie? Well, she’s more tech savvy than I want to be so she go a new i-phone to replace the old one she had.  That’s another reason why I don’t need a gimmicky phone.  My wife has one and we are never seperated.  So if we need gps to find our way home, her phone will do the job.  All this, PLUS PLUS PLUS a significant drop in our monthly bill.  See, toldjuh…Nathali the Phone PeeNom!

So, life is good again. I have a state-of-the-art old-fart flip phone.  Beam me up, Nathali…I gotta show this thing to Captain Kirk.

*****

Self-Publishing Alert:  for those of you who have been following my lessons in self-publishing, the final instructions dealing with page numbering with Microsoft Word are now posted on my website:  marckuhn.com …Have a Great Week!

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DAD WAS RIGHT…TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET!

This isn’t the first time that it seems everything around us is going bonkers.  In fact, it happens all the time, generation after generation. The older one thinks the younger one is inferior and will destroy everything their elders have worked so hard to achieve.

My father used to say “the world is going to hell in a handbasket.”  The phrase actually dates back to the Civil War. It still remains a commonly used phrase by many people, me included.  And each one of us who has said it, thinks our times are worse than any others before us. 

Currently, I see the handbasket being filled piece by piece with daily deposits from our dysfunctional world. Few from the recent generations before me seem to notice. Well okay, some do, but if you ask me, it appears one’s eyesight, or maybe I should say foresight, actually sharpens with age.  Those younger than me have their eyeballs focused on the immediate “now” stage.  Speed and instant gratification are the monikers they live by. They do not know the meaning of the word, “anticipate.” Looking ahead to avoid road blocks isn’t in their makeup.

God, I sound like my father. He would be proud.  “See,” he’d say, “I tried to get this through your thick skull when you were younger, but you wouldn’t listen.  You were too busy playing pong and listening to that raucus rock ‘n roll music.”

I was raised in a house of literature.  My moter had more books than dishes, silverware, and stacks of laundry combined. Fact is, she loved to read and dispised housework.  We actually went to the library every two weeks during which we would return books we borrowed—and had READ—and then sign out a new stack to take home.  Remember The Book of the Month Club?  My mother was a charter member.  I  have written 11 books.  True, not too many people have read them, but you would think out of the 8 members of my immediate family every one of them would have read at least one or two of my books, if out of curiosity if for no other reason.  Well, curiosity is another thing lacking in today’s kids.  My grandson actually threw a full-throttled temper tantrum when I gave him book to read. “I don’t read books,” he screamed at me…and he’s 13!

He’s right, kids do not read today, except for the text messages they get on their phones.  My arms ached with the load of books I had to carry back and forth from school.  Today the kids have backpacks, but don’t expect to see books inside.  Schools don’t give homework anymore.  Most teachers poo-poo homework, saying it is meaningless and old thinking. Well, old thinking at least knows the difference between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, something many kids today have problems explaining.  I had 2-3  hours of homework every night.  Homework actually helped reinforce what the teacher attempted to teach you in class. When I ask my grandchildren if they have any homework the anwser is always the same:  “I did it in school.”  “Then it’s school work, not homework,” I respond.  Homework also taught discipline.  Just because you physically left the classroom doesn’t mean you left school for the day.  Funny, I used to be doing “homework” all the time even though I had left the office hours ago.

So here we sit with our world in chaos. Our life-long enemies are being hugged and kissed; climate change is placed in denial by those more full of wind than feeling it; people attempting to escape a hostile environment by risking their lives to come to our country now arrive to discover a new hostile environment; lies by our leaders have become acceptable and our Constitution—the support beam of this American house we live in—is being chipped away at or disregarded.  But, that’s okay because we have Congress to keep things in check and a Department of Justice to enforce our laws and lock up the bad guys…oh wait, those things aren’t working the way they used to either. They seem to be disappearing. America has not been made great again.

OMG, there it is. I did it. I got political in my blog, something I swore I would not do because it only stirs up ugliness.  Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  It’s just that I felt that more of us need to speak up now and begin doing something about this mess we’re in.  It’s like 9-11 all over again, except now it’s the foundation of our democracy that may collapse, not just buildings.  In fact, if you want to know what I think, I’d have to be honest…if things don’t change, I think we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.

*****

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