Wednesday, September 16, 2020

My intentions were…

 

 

I finished reading Mary L. Trump’s book “Too Much — Never Enough” a while ago. My intention had been to write a book review to post on my Potpourri blog, but I cannot in good conscience write something UN-biased after reading this. I decided instead to write a bit of commentary and allow myself the leeway of my opinions.

 

Mary L. Trump is a highly trained clinical psychologist and the niece of America’s 45th “president” (and I use that title lightly). No, I am not a Donald Trump supporter, but then there have been other political figures that I haven’t been in favor of and yet never felt so …strongly about.

 

Yes, I am aware that Mary Trump has written this book from HER perspective, but perspective by itself doesn’t mean it’s false. So many of the things she wrote, specifically about her family history, really gives credence to so many of Donald Trump’s shortcomings. She goes into detail what his childhood was like and in so many ways I guess you CAN blame some of what he became on his parents, especially his father.

 

Donald Trump was one of five children, three sons and two daughters, and they were all starved for affection from a mother who was “distracted” and a father whose only real interest was money. Although Donald was the second son and therefore not originally destined to take over the family business, he learned early on that he could gain his father’s approval by “always coming out on top” no matter how much he hurt others. At one point he was sent to a military academy, not to be a soldier, but because he was completely out of control at home.

 

His oldest brother, Freddy (also Mary’s dad), had interests in things other than his family real estate business and for a while actually seemed to be making an outstanding life for himself and his family. But he was terribly discouraged and badgered for his choices (Donald did his more-than-fair-share of the badgering) and eventually gave up his dreams and his wife and children, and became obsessed with alcohol. And yes he drank himself into bad health and eventually an early grave. His family’s lack of emotion and concern over the oldest son’s death is unimaginable, that’s a whole other story.

 

Donald became the heir apparent and although he tried to emulate many of his father’s successes, his father had to repeatedly bail him out and covered his errors on more than one occasion. (By the way, Donald’s father was able to start his business from money left to him from HIS mother, neither was exactly self-made.) Donald Trump grew up with wealth and financial security in a basic mausoleum of family love and warmth.

 

It was indeed a very sad upbringing and explains a lot of why he is so nasty and tears down others, and especially why he doesn’t seem to respect most females. But Donald Trump is not the only one to have such a stunted family life, he is not the only person in the world to have been neglected; most adults who have gone through this trauma have chosen to get help in dealing with life. Instead he has embraced the “only one winner” philosophy and seems void of compassion and obsessed with his own self-manufactured “greatness”.

 

While I certainly was not part of his growing years or the circles he hung out with, I personally know of people who were cheated out of payment for services he demanded. I grew up in NYC when lawsuits were filed against Donald and his father for discrimination (lawsuits which were “settled” with money and NOT vindication!). And I know of people who worked in offices he dealt with where he looked down on females and made them feel “uncomfortable”. Mary Trump’s book only confirms so many things I heard about him long before he entertained the idea of running for President.

 

The book is certainly an eye-opener and I would imagine that one of his supporters would be highly offended. I still hope that everyone would read it and perhaps explain some of what, who, we choose to vote for or against.

 

And this, my friends, is why I couldn’t write a fair book review…


 

 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

9/11 Nineteen Years Later

 


Nineteen years ago, September 11, 2001, 2996 people,
2996 HUMAN BEINGS, lost their lives.
There have been innumerable losses since due to
injuries 
and exposure to the toxic dust.


Ceremonies and memorials conducted at the WTC in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania are all being modified because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Shanksville PA the ceremony will be without music and victims' name will be spoken by just one reader. At the Pentagon no families will be in attendance, all victims' names will be played on a recording and only Military leaders will be present. And in NYC, there will be DUAL ceremonies — no names will be read at the World Trade Center site; however a few blocks away the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Tower Foundation will allow families to recite their loved ones' names. Earlier this week FDNY held a "limited attendance" ceremony to honor those who have died since 2001 due to toxic dust.

Although originally cancelled, the twin blue Tribute in Light beams WILL be displayed. The Stephen Siller Foundation is displaying memorial lights at the Flight #93 site and the Pentagon. 

This year MORE THAN EVER we need to remember and #NeverForget the sacrifices and horrendous losses suffered that bleak Tuesday in 2001.


As a former Rockland County NY resident, I have always listed those
local residents that we lost on 9/11/2001

Ø Janet M. Alonso 41 Stony Point NY
Ø Calixto Anaya Jr. 35 Suffern NY
Ø Japhet J. Aryee 49 Spring Valley NY
Ø Richard E. Bosco 34 Suffern NY
Ø Sgt. John Gerard Coughlin 43 Pomona NY
Ø Welles Remy Crowther 24 Upper Nyack NY
Ø John D' Allara 47 Pearl River NY
Ø Bernard D. Favuzza 52 Suffern NY
Ø Thomas Foley 32 West Nyack NY
Ø Andrew Fredericks 40 Suffern NY
Ø Robert Joseph Gschaar 55 Spring Valley NY
Ø Dana Hannon 29 Suffern NY
Ø Capt. Frederick Ill Jr. 49 Pearl River NY
Ø Farah Jeudy 32 Spring Valley NY
Ø Joseph Marchbanks Jr. 47 Nanuet NY
Ø John Marshall 35 Congers NY
Ø Patricia A. McAneney 50 Pomona NY
Ø Robert Garvin McCarthy 33 Stony Point NY
Ø Robert William McPadden 30 Pearl River NY
Ø Luke G. Nee 44 Stony Point NY
Ø Gerald O'Leary 34 Stony Point NY
Ø David Ortiz 37 Nanuet NY
Ø Lt. Vernon Allan Richard 53 Nanuet NY
Ø Thomas G. Schoales 27 Stony Point NY
Ø Mohammed Shajahan 41 Spring Valley NY
Ø Gregory Sikorsky 34 Spring Valley NY
Ø Catherine T. Smith 44 West Haverstraw NY
Ø Robert W. Spear Jr. 30 Valley Cottage NY
Ø Loretta A, Vero 51 Nanuet NY
Ø Benjamin Walker 41 Suffern NY
Ø Weibin Wang 41 Orangeburg NY
Ø Steven Weinberg 41 New City NY
Ø Capt. David T. Wooley 53 Nanuet NY



To view a full memorial list of 9/11 victims go here: 
https://www.911memorial.org/names-memorial-0

To view a list of law enforcement officers from 10 agencies, go here
https://www.odmp.org/search/incident/september-11-terrorist-attack
(includes those who have died from 9/11 illnesses)

To view of list of FDNY officers who died on 9/11, go here:
http://www.fdnylodd.com/Memorials/343-Firefighters

To view a list of all Emergency workers killed in the September 11 attacks, go here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_workers_killed_in_the_September_11_attacks




Wednesday, September 9, 2020

I Binged! (at RWA2020)

 

I went to my very first Romance Writers of America Conference! To be honest, ‘thanks to COVID and everything being locked down’, I didn’t have to go far — it was a VIRTUAL conference and I only had to make the journey to my den where my desk and computer reside.

 

The conference was spectacular! The virtual aspect was just as new to RWA as the conference was to me. I was truly greedy and attended sessions non-stop (okay, except for 15 minute bathroom breaks, lol). Seriously though if one ever needed the encouragement and inspiration to be a writer, this was the ultimate opportunity. The knowledge that was imparted, the encouragement, and yes, even some networking, was so much more than I had expected.

 

Starting Friday morning, August 28, after a welcome from the RWA President, Alyssa Day, was a “First-Timers Meet-Up” which was done by ZOOM so we were truly in a nice group and it was a great ice-breaker. Following that was a whirlwind of sessions, which we were able to choose ourselves. Since I told the hubs that he was basically on his own for the weekend, I stayed GLUED to my computer screen. Several classes were held along with terrific Key-Note speakers (renowned author Xio Axelrod and past RWA President Shirley Hailstock). Ms. Hailstock’s speech was 150% inspiration and no matter where you are in your writing process, it was like manna to a starving soul.


There was a wonderful emphasis on diversity and being able to see, and tell, your story through other eyes; it was like the world was opening right in front of us. There were talks that sparked the imagination and prompts to help us use our everyday journeys in our writing. And of course there were innumerable sessions simply about CRAFT such as plotting and motivation, copyrights, and dealing with bloggers and reviews. I am so grateful for an excellent discussion from Win Day about Computer Management which was appropriately titled Saving Your Sanity; oh, if I had only known some of these “tricks” a month ago!


While I have been writing for most of my adult life I only began pouring my soul into romance writing since the late 90s. I connected with a small-press (now defunct) publisher in 2008 and literally felt my way through a lot of things I NEVER even dreamed of. I joined RWA and a local in-person chapter where I used to live in New York, but, and this is mostly my own fault, I never made enough use of the resources available to me. Through the years life changed. Ultimately we moved and there are no VERY local chapters where I now live and circumstances aren’t convenient for long journeys — so I found an online chapter (RWAOL) and recently have gotten in DEEP!


Thanks to the opportunities from RWA, both National and this online chapter, I am finding the inspiration and the confidence once again to write and to pursue a field I love so very much. In some ways I am a newbie and in others I’ve got the battle scars of experience. With the resources available to me, and the support and experience of those around me, I feel literally like I am coming alive again. 


I am, once again, a writer.




Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Good Cop, Bad Cop


First off, let me say I LOVE cops. Before I was married I had even applied to the NYPD and did very well on the tests, it was a strong possibility that I would even have been in the first class after my test date — except New York City had a major financial crisis that year (1974) and not only disbanded that list of potential recruits, but I understand they let go of the then-current academy class. It was about one or two years later that I received a letter inviting me back, although I would have to pass another physical. By that time I was married and had moved away from the city, and I decided not to pursue it.

 

While I never regretted my decision, I have often thought of how things in life might have been different had I actually gone into the academy and got on the force… still, no regrets. I have always had an affinity for first responders. I met my husband while we were both volunteering for the Auxiliary Police at a local precinct. Nowadays I have family in all arms of first response and I admire and am so proud of each one. Each man and woman in uniform is out there with every intention of doing good for every member of the community that they are sworn to "serve and protect".

 

That being said, I am so disappointed when I hear of an abuse of power. Those FEW officers ruin it for everyone else. When I good and honest police officer is out on the street and has to deal with the distrust and criticisms directed at him/her because of actions of a few over-zealous members, it makes their already difficult job harder. One of my relatives, an officer in his department, actually told me that no one is angrier at an abusive cop than all of the other GOOD cops He hates it when, especially a child, someone is scared of him just because he has a uniform on.

 

It is so sad when the actions of many are judged because of the actions of a few because of their uniform, color, gender or age. Mistrust grows with each “nasty” encounter and people on both sides tend to over-react. Communities are scared of police and cop-families are scared that their loved ones might not return because they hesitated. And indeed, there are those with malicious intent on all sides, and more who react out of fear because of previous incidents — and it is always the FEW who make it worse for everyone else. And when you actually take a moment it’s clear that most people, cops and civilians, aren’t looking for violent encounters.

 

I heard an expression recently that just because you hate “police brutality” doesn’t mean you hate all police because that would be the same as saying just because you hate child abuse then you hate all parents. You can believe in the BLM movement and still support your police at the same time. These days it is tough to be a cop AND it is tough to be a young black man on the street. Somehow we have to find a way to work together, stealing an old song title, we have to find a way to “give peace a chance”.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Empathy... better with it or without it

 Definition of empathy (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

the action of understanding, being aware of,
being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing
the feelings, thoughts, and experience
of another of either the past or present 
When you have empathy you can relate to the pain and sorrow that another person may be experiencing — if you hear of someone losing a close family member something triggers your own feeling of loss, either real or imagined. You feel FOR the person because you understand what he is going through.When you understand what that individual is going through you might be able to offer solace, comfort and support. BUT... if your level of empathy encompasses you it may drown you in those emotions causing you mental anguish and making you unable to offer comfort to the bereaved.Being compassionate is a healthy form of empathy as you understand what someone is going through and can still maintain a mental distance by staying aware that this is SOMEONE ELSE'S loss. You can offer support and comfort without losing yourself in the sorrow.Being sympathetic, while certainly nice (on the surface) may or may not be disingenuous. You hear bad news and you offer platitudes — but do you really feel for the individual or just know that it's the polite response?Certain relationships do better when people can empathize with one another. Parents who can truly understand what their children are feeling, their angst and insecurities, can offer much needed support and guidance. Health-care workers can help to emotionally support their patients along with the medical help they provide. However if the empathy is too all-encompassing it is easy to lose oneself, be depressed and insecure. Too much empathy can even result in manifested health problems, sleepless nights, and damage to other relationships.

When it comes to feeling loss, grief is a very personal thing and not everyone feels the same things. Religious customs sometimes play a big role in the way a person grieves and accepts their loss; although it is uncommon that a loss is ever truly “accepted”, the pain often lingers and sometimes causes tears even years later. The relationship a person has had with the now deceased may have been complex, even painful, and the survivor now has to juggle their mixed emotions.


There are times that SOME of us cannot understand another person’s reaction to grief, but do we really have a right to expect someone to break down and cry when that loss happens? Maybe the person is in shock and that overwhelming grief has yet to hit. Or maybe the person’s upbringing taught them unwavering steps to follow? Or, sadly, maybe a person’s childhood left him with an inability to show their emotions?


It’s not for any of us to judge how someone else mourns and grieves. All we can do is be compassionate and certainly never take joy in another’s person’s pain. Remember though that you can always be there and care.


Any man's death diminishes me,
because 
I am involved in mankind,
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bells tolls;
it tolls for thee.”
~ John Donne



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I HATE Computers!!!!

Now I know as a writer that might sound phony, but as much as I rely on computers and virtual technology in my field, this artificial intelligence wanna-be that I call my laptop really does seem to have a mind of its own. And I am convinced that it wants to kill me! (…or at least frustrate the heck out of me)

 

Like many of us, I get assaulted by “necessary upgrades” and even if I try to ignore these in my busiest moments, I do try to do the “responsible” thing and take care of THE MACHINE. Invariably each time there is another upgrade, SOMETHING changes on my machine, most times it’s just my desktop appearance.

 

But NOOOO, not this last time. I got the usual box popping up on my screen from MicroSoft with the normal gobbledygook about upgrades — the first time that happened (with this laptop) I was advised to let it upgrade and I have each time since. Usually my desktop appearance changes, my fonts change to smaller sizes, or other rather minor annoyances.

 

Oy! But this time, this time it not only changed the appearance, it WIPED MY FILES off of the hard drive! Yes, wiped, as in scrubbed. I am lucky, I guess, in that I disconnected my external drive before allowing the upgrade, I didn’t see the need for that to remain connected as the computer played around going on and off. And while it will be time-consuming, I can gather most of the files I lost from Documents and Downloads. It also removed some programs, but the only one I can remember for sure is ZOOM.

 

I bothered my son with desperate text messages yesterday when I discovered the emptiness. Of course the first thing he said was, “Mom, upgrades don’t erase files.” And trying to hold back tears I uttered back, “But something did!” He is my computer guru, but he is miles away and so it will take time before he can actually take a look at my machine. Something is definitely wrong in PC land.

 

In the meanwhile I can’t avoid using the dratted thing, my editors depend on me and just about everything these days is via the internet. So I am writing and sending my work – 


BUT I AM NOT TALKING TO MY COMPUTER!


 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Taking Advantage



Why is it when people are vulnerable there always seems to be someone willing to take advantage of them?

The last few months many people have been out of work using home computers to keep up with school, family and, if they are the lucky few who could work from home, their office. Hackers are finding ways to download invasive software, sending fraudulent emails, answer phished phone numbers and make scammed phone calls. It’s dismaying at a time when people should be helping one another, some just take advantage.

Scammers will make you think they are authentic and really just being helpful — maybe they’re offering to help you lower your interest rates, what better time to wave that juicy tidbit in front of folks than when they are short on cash and many really do have the bills piling up. Seniors are especially vulnerable to scammers because they are used to getting contacted from insurance plans, Medicare and Social Security; but NONE of those entities will ask for personal information like social security numbers or passwords.

Then we have the hackers who know enough to download software and steal sensitive information from your computer or even use your own computer to make purchases. Sometimes they call from a “computer company” claiming that your machine is corrupted and they need to fix it; don’t accept a story like that, if there really is a problem you make the contact (in person if possible). If you believe a program is being downloaded, immediately disconnect your computer from the internet completely and DELETE any program that has been downloaded – use the remove/uninstall program feature.

Many financial institutions and some stores who offer credit cards have made provisions to help protect you in the case that someone is fraudulently using your credit to purchase things like e-gift cards or transfer bank funds. Ask about double verification when you sign in to your bank — after entering your log-in and password (never store sensitive passwords on your computer) they will send your mobile phone a text message with a code which you will need to enter before continuing (one method). Be sure to set “alerts” on every bank account or store credit account, this will cause a message to be sent to your phone and/or e-mail as soon as a transaction takes place; you can usually set the limit to be notified (make it LOW).

Don’t be embarrassed IF you do get scammed, almost everyone falls for something shady — report it to the authorities (police, FTC, banks, stores, etc.) immediately. Contact banking institutions to ask if you could STOP transactions from going through (may need to pay a fee). Be sure to keep any correspondence (emails, text messages and the like) and copy phone numbers (although they might not be authentic) related to the scam. Unfortunately if you do lose money, it is NO longer deductible on your tax forms.

Some helpful advice to avoid fraud and scams: