Category Archives: Trail Mixers Say

The End of An Affair

Joe Bruns
Joe Bruns

It is hard to put a precise time on when I fell out of love. There was no big argument or momentous event that caused a sudden rift in our relationship. Instead it happened gradually, imperceptibly. But I have now come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a central part of my life. We stay together, mostly out of habit. But I no longer cherish waking up with her every morning and finding her fresh, entertaining, and endlessly interesting.

I do remember falling in love with her, though. It was the mid-seventies. It was love at first sight. This was the Watergate era in Washington. She had an uncanny inside access to all the sordid details as the scandal unfolded. Every day I looked forward to hearing what new facts she had uncovered in her deep, throaty voice. My, she did know how to tell a story. She also had wide-ranging interests. In addition to politics and world events she could spellbind with the depth of her knowledge in culture, the arts and sports. She loved her sports. She was a booster and a fan and seemed to enjoy them all, going beyond just knowing the scores and statistics, providing smart and colorful commentary about anything from the Redskins to high school rivalries.

She seemed to know everything that was going on in Washington. She may not have cared very much for the suburbs, but she knew the city, its movers, its neighborhoods, its flaws and its characters. Everyone who knew her had a favorite topic and was eager to learn what she knew. She was quoted at power lunches and solons throughout the day.

While she was older than I, she had youthfulness and an enthusiasm that was infections. At times her opinion seemed to color her judgment, but for most of us that was part of her charm. We matured together over the years. She had her rivals at times, but was never threatened by them, especially on her home turf. She knew she knew she was the real star, and could therefore just ignore them as they came and went from the scene.

She was also generous and compassionate, she noted births and attended funerals. When tragedy struck she could be counted on to offer assistance, and always knew the right thing to say to bring understanding and comfort. But she could also deliver criticism when needed, a wake-up call where she saw injustice.

The eighties were her ‘Hollywood’ phase. She made new friends, many from California and the West, who exuded glamor and style more than intellect. But the men were handsome and the women beautiful. In the nineties, she had a fling with a younger man, a ‘bad boy’ who was able to charm her in ways that allowed her to overlook his flaws. When his past caught up with him and his star faded, she stuck with him and defended him against his detractors, though I could see she was hurt.

But then things began to change. Without noticing it at first, but seeing it now in retrospect, her freshness wilted. Her stories, which once rivaled those of Scheherazade, began to seem repetitious and stale. Her eloquence began to fade; she made grammatical errors that broke the spell. Worse, I began to realize that I had often already heard the stories she was now telling. Sometimes, I even heard them from her the day before. She was less engaged in the world and began to simply repeat what others were saying. She said there was a web conspiring to bring her down. She began to go to bed early, and seemed to be indifferent as to whether she had anything new to say or not. Her opinions, once fresh and insightful, now were entirely predictable, cranky, even boring. Those she invited in to share opinions consisted of the same people who had been around for years, seldom anything or anybody new was present. And when someone new was added to her circle, it seemed more for the label than for the wine. It was clear that her world was changing far more quickly than she either desired to or could. Some say she suffers from poor circulation, and others have suggested an extended trip, perhaps an adventure to the Amazon will revitalize her. I don’t know, but for me the old magic is gone.

Old love dies hard. She is still part of my life, just not as important to me. I no longer consider her my window to the world, and sometimes find myself ignoring her entirely. But we had some great times together over the years. There is always that.

I miss my old love and companion …
The_Washington_Post

A Very Very Vile Virus

Jamie
Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I don’t like people. Not people as individuals but people as an overwhelming crowd, and quite frankly, we need some crowd control. Unfortunately, I was born in paradise. California in the 1940s had about 8 million people. The last time I was there, it had 40 million. As Gertrude Stein said when she tried to go back to Oakland after a long absence: “There’s no there there.” Or to echo Joni Mitchell they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot. That realization and a sensitivity about the environment made me look at the population of the globe.

We have just been through the Ebola scare here in the US and the outbreak continues in a few countries in Africa. It is estimated that the current outbreak in Africa until contained will hit 10,000 deaths per day.   Will 10,000 deaths per day put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance. Combine it with flu pandemic, a few tornadoes, earthquakes, Monsoons, and multiple wars, will it put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance.

If not a single child were born for the next 30 years and the death rate continued on the same current level, we would only be down about 1.5 billion people. There would still be about six billion left.   All of those people, the majority of which are perfectly good human beings who love their family and friends just want to go about their business of working, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and making love to make more babies. There really isn’t anything wrong with them except that they exist.

Because they exist, they strip forests for farmland. Because they exist, they pour the products of their civilization into the oceans. Because they exist, they are destroying the habitat of all the other species on the planet. Because they exist they want to stay warm or cool. They want to cook. They want to run their machines. They want their sewage to go elsewhere. To do all those things, they strip the land of coal and oil. They drain the aquifers that took millions of year to fill. They pour carbons into the atmosphere.  They heat and acidify the oceans. Quite frankly, they are really, really dirty and due to modern technology, the majority of them are useless and replaced by the machines they created.

For several million years, the human race trundled along with less than a billion people. Then they discovered germs and viruses. Magnificent! We can cure. We can save. We can keep people alive. We can fix the broken and weak among us who used to die. We can do something that no other species that has ever existed can do. We can save ourselves. Aren’t we wonderful? OOPS! We forgot to lower the birthrate to one child per couple. The chart below shows the result of that mistake.

So here is the question. How do we save the environment? Save the human race without some sort of “Soylent Green” solution?

poplulation

– Jamie is a Trail Mix contributor.

Bear Baiting in Maine

Nash 2.5

What’s the #1 Election Issue in Maine? Bear Baiting.

Here’s how it works.   Out-of-shape middle-aged guys from Boston and New York City are willing to spend a couple of grand a piece to come up to Maine to “hunt” a bear.  That’s big bucks to the locals.

The city guys don’t actually do any real hunting, of course. Black Bears in the wild are very alert and very clever, so they are difficult to hunt, unlike deer and moose which are really dumb.

bearbaitingSo … an entire industry has been developed by “Certified Maine Guides” to accommodate the bear-killing needs of these affluent customers. “Bait” (day-old donuts are popular) is placed in locations near guest lodges, and the guests, dressed in color-coordinated LL Bean hunting clothes, are driven, in rugged-looking extended cab pick-up trucks, to a spot where they can  conveniently shoot at the bears, without too much exertion.   (Many of the guides carry cardiac defibrillators in their trucks, just in case.)

All of this was fine for decades until a bunch of “whining out-of-state environmentalist nuts and animal lovers” got a voter referendum placed on the November ballot, to ban the practice of Bear Baiting. (Actually it was native Mainers who did it, with a little bit of financial help from national organizations, but that’s not what the talk radio audience wants to hear.)

In addition to regular political ads (i.e., for governor), Mainers have been bombarded by “pro” and “anti” Bear Baiting ads for months.

Here is a short video on the politics of Bear Baiting, explaining why having this issue on the ballot may help the Republican candidate for governor (LePage) and hurt the Democrat (Michaud). Michaud is ahead in the polls, at the moment.

What’s On Your Ballot?

— Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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Use It or Lose It

Patd
As a nation, our voting muscles are withering away from lack of use and the muscle-bound money bullies are kicking sand in our face.

It’s not just disenchanted baby boomers, according to a Harvard University Institute of Politics study “less than one in four (23%) of Americans under the age of 30 say that they will ‘definitely be voting.'”

We arsande voting booth wimps when compared to other democracies. For instance: “The United States’ 2012 elections was marked by a low voter turnout with 57.5% of voters going to the polls. Compare that to India and Malaysia where more than 80% of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2013.”

How do we build back that voter muscle? Is there a dynamic tension solution like the one Charles Atlas promised comic book readers?

The Politics of Ebola

Nash 2.5
Fear: it’s really all the GOP has these days.

Fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of socialism, and now fear of the Ebola virus.

Millions of Americans have become cowards, shivering under their beds, clutching their assault rifles, which are not much use against disease, by the way. (They would be better off if they just washed their hands after using the bathroom.)

Forget about rational discussions about why the (profit-driven) U.S. healthcare system is simultaneously becoming more expensive and declining in quality. (Profits?)

fearLet us instead devote 24/7 mainstream media coverage to shallow analysis about “how we can protect ourselves from the threat of Ebola.”

Over at Fox News the message is clear: somehow this is all Obama’s fault.

If the GOP gains control of the Senate in November, it may be because of a tiny virus you need an electron microscope to see.

Here is the trailer for “Outbreak” (1995), about an Ebola-like disease epidemic.   They should run this film 24/7 on cable TV for a few days, and then we can all talk about Ebola more intelligently.

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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New World – Not Ordered

Blue Bronc
Screwed.

Does everybody remember my little post regarding me having email accounts hacked? Well, let me say that was not all.  The other day the great state of Maryland let me know that they say I did not have insurance on my car; that such lack of insurance was $150 plus $7 per day while I was lapsed.  Oh, that is due to a bounced check says my insurance company.  Moi,  oh I did not know that was the problem, I did not know this was happening.

Today’s post brought a letter from the loan provider of my truck, rather rude and abrupt but as pleasant as a threat letter can be, that I had no insurance on my truck and that I need to provide proof or “they would provide the insurance,”  A call to my insurance provider, “. . .not in the office, your call is forwarded to. . .”  After that rather informative discussion, it turns out that I in fact did not have insurance.  Something about my credit card not active when charged.

It turns out all this occurred at the time my accounts were under attack and my accounts with accompanying credit cards and check cards were being changed. Those changed due to being under attack.  And, for hilarity, I will have new accounts in the coming week due to being under attack by bad people who have information from companies I do business with having the accounts breached.

I will be talking to several companies and government agencies this coming week.

This most difficult part of this is when I relied on companies to let me know in person something was wrong. I did not expect the companies to only send out “automatic letters” and let the onus of problems fall on me.  My previous experiences with these companies had been on personal reach out, but then those were in different states.

Lessons learned, change companies when those you hire to do your business do not give you a personal touch and support you when things go wrong. Especially in this new era where companies are hacked and your personal information is sold to high buyer.

Okay. So let us review:  change passwords; use 12 or more characters; use upper and lower case, numerals and special characters (password generators help); change companies if you are not supported; talk to all agencies you can to explain your plight; hire an attorney if necessary.

Now you will be asking yourself “What the bloody hell does this have to do with me?”  Your accounts can come under attack because you shopped at a retail store, such as Target or Home Depot.  We are in a new world.  Will our politicians do anything?  A rather more on topic question is “can they do anything?”

Simplistically, some say use cash.  Sorry, it is not always usable online.  Write checks, they cry.  Sorry, checks not accepted.  Use your credit card online.  Sure ‘nuf.  screwed on that one.

Politicians will not save you.  They pass laws for reasonable people.  Those who attack your checking accounts or credit cards do not care about laws.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor

Obama Runs Away to War

Nash 2.5
With all the crisis-level problems at home (immigration, infrastructure, education, offshoring of manufacturing, global warming, AND the steady and systematic decline of the middle class) Obama has chosen to run away to the one place he can act “Presidential” without having to argue with the GOP.   He’s going to bomb ISIS.

The previous estimate of the cost of the Iraq war was four TRILLION dollars, when you add the cost of long-term care to wounded veterans (which the Republicans don’t, of course). We probably need to increase that to FIVE trillion, to account for the cost of Obama’s “limited” air war against ISIS.    As any Vietnam Veteran knows, “limited wars” actually last about ten years.  (And then we lose.)

It’s much easier (and more fun) for Obama to go to war, any war, than to deal with sticky “domestic” issues. But problems in the domestic arena are actually much more important to the daily life of most Americans than a bunch of ultra-radical clowns running around the boonies in Iraq and Syria, armed with weapons that we gave to the Iraqi Army.

But in six weeks we have an election, and Obama knows Americans love a good war.

We even love bad wars.

Bruce Springsteen, “War.  What is it Good for?”

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor

Ah – Politics in The Air

Blue Bronc

Finally! Okay, so the last nine months have been boring and worthless stuffy  crappy silly.  All those “polls” showing everything important, including which space plane will win the competition, have been good for publicity, but little else.

Now we are seeing numbers.  Labor Day has come and gone.  Denver has been snowed on.  The kiddies are back in jail school and we can focus on real stuff, like the newest Bento Box delight for lunch.  I joke there.  We can focus on politics.

votedEach year  we hear that this poll has this finding for this candidate and how horrible it is for the party; and that poll has this bad finding for the other candidate and how terrible it is for the party.  That is up until after Labor Day, the day after which people start to pay attention to politics.  This year is no different than last year or the year Julius Caesar was born.  The “normal” people, those unlike us, do not poll well until after the day celebrating getting weekends off is over.

Do you watch and enjoy the Prime Minister’s Remarks on C-Span at 3am?  You are NOT normal.  The rest of America does not!  Those are the people who do not follow candidates until now.  Yes, they do have some idea of what is happening in Congress (or rather not happening) and also locally (sort of).

Right now they are getting ready to find out what the candidates are up to.  Got time to help a candidate?  The people are now ready.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor.

The “Inevitable” Hillary vs Joe Biden?

Nash 2/5
Most Democrats have assumed that no one with any chance of actually defeating her would challenge Hillary Clinton for the nomination.  And yet many kept asking, “Is there no one else?”

The Clinton machine became concerned about the repeated political commentary that Hillary was “inevitable.” They wanted everyone in the news media to BELIEVE that she was inevitable, they just didn’t want them to SAY it, at least not too often.

Speculation grew that the campaign was quietly seeking a few “straw dogs” — Democrats who would pretend to run against Hillary — and then gracefully withdraw at the right dramatic moment, in exchange for a cabinet post.

Biden HillaryEnter Joe Biden, who recently made Obama look like a professorial wimp regarding how to deal with the terrorist organization ISIS.  Obama said we have to “manage” the ISIS problem, while Biden said we have to “follow them to the gates of Hell.”  Biden is a passionate “in your face” kind of politician blue collar males can relate to, a key population group Democrats need to win.

Biden has run before and he has spent six years “a heartbeat away” from the Presidency.

For Discussion in Comments (How to Sign Up)…

  • Will Biden run for President in 2016?
  • Is he one of the Clinton “straw dogs” or a real threat to Hillary’s inevitability?
  • Can he win the nomination?

Biden’s “Gates of Hell” Speech

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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Can We Talk?

Patd
Are we losing our collective sense of humor? We are certainly losing our iconic humorists and clowns. Just last year: Jonathan Winters, and the year before that: Phyllis Diller. This year comedy fans lost Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams — and last week, Joan Rivers.

Add to those deaths the global silencing of folks who speak truths that make us laugh, such as Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s Jon Stewart, and those who humorously caricature deities and despots at the risk of death.

In desperate times we desperately need to laugh, to expose the naked emperors, to see the silliness in our selves, and to hear from comics like George Carlin’s unvarnished absurdities.

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
— Mark Twain

– Patd is a Trail Mix Contributor.

Craig.Crawford
Craig Crawford
Amen to that, Patd. On a related front, and I don’t mean to discount Joan Rivers’ pioneering role for women in comedy, but the coverage I saw often called her the first — and yet Rivers would give that nod to Phyllis Diller.

Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller
Rivers described Diller, her mentor, as the first female comedian who “just stood up,” adding that “she didn’t sing, she didn’t dance, she just went out and competed with the men on their turf. And did it brilliantly.”

Moms Mabley
Moms Mabley
Going back further, Moms Mabley ought to be remembered as the very first female stand-up. She started performing in the 1920’s, about 30 years before Diller.