Wednesday, October 21, 2020

To Vote, to Vote, Perchance to Vote

 

 In just under two weeks, Americans will go to the polls (or will have mailed in or walked in their ballots) to vote for several candidates, most importantly for who will be the next President of the United States. It’s a heavy burden on each of us. Anyone who follows me on social media knows who I support, but this post is not about WHO – rather it is about YOU.

 

I recently posted the following on my Facebook page:
     I remember, in 1960, one of our neighbors sitting on the front stoop of the Bronx building she lived in and crying her eyes out. My parents stopped to speak to her to find out what was wrong... she wanted to vote for JFK but her husband told her that if she didn't vote for Nixon she had to leave their home.
     My dad told her "when you get into that polling booth, who you vote for is YOUR business, no one else's..."
     In 2016 I heard a father screaming at his daughter over a cell phone (standing in the center of CVS), apparently she made it known she wanted to vote for Clinton, he screamed at her that if she didn't vote for trump she could pack her bags that day.
     It truly doesn't matter who you vote for (well it does, but I am not trying to make THAT point), YOU have to vote for the candidate YOU choose.
     Whether you are in a booth or filling out a ballot, you have privacy and NO ONE has the right to tell you how to vote - certainly NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO THREATEN YOU IN ANY WAY.
     Even if your polling place has "observers", YOU NEED TO VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT.

 

Your vote DOES count. A lot of folks cry that it doesn’t, that the Electoral College actually elects our president. There is SOME truth to that as we saw in 2016 when the Electoral College did NOT declare the popular vote winner as president. However each state is assigned a specific amount of electors (supposedly something to do with population) and the popular vote of each state decides WHICH electors will cast a vote. Even if the vote is close then the electors vote for the majority candidate. There are many arguments calling this system archaic, but for now it is what we are stuck with.

 

Understand though that the ONLY and very few times the Electoral College disagreed with the popular vote, the popular vote was CLOSE, VERY CLOSE (considering the percentage of votes against the people who voted). So your vote, along with others, DOES decide who the Electoral Collage from your state chooses. Unfortunately, especially in national elections, third party candidates have not historically shown enough strength. Those votes in effect do not help decide the Electoral College count. If 100 people vote and 46 vote for candidate A, 44 vote for candidate B, and 10 vote for candidate C (third party), then candidate A will receive the Electoral College. So even if 8 of those C votes were people who absolutely did not want A but thought B wasn’t perfect, A would win because those 8 votes weren’t enough to give any strength to C.

 

This year between the pandemic and fear of violence at the polls, as well as some areas closing polling places and creating longer lines, getting your vote in may seem more challenging. Remember though that whatever time you need to take to vote, or distance to drop your mail-in ballot at an authorized receptacle – well this vote will have a major impact on the next four years of your life. It is extremely important to make your voice heard.

 

YOUR VOTE IS IMPORTANT!

A state-by-state guide to voting in 2020





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Religion and Interpretation

 

No one practices their faith exactly the same way as the next guy, and I’m talking about the SAME religions. Everything is subject to interpretation. There’s an old joke in Judaism (my own faith) that goes, “If you ask two Rabbis you’ll get three opinions.”

 

Almost every religious reference, NO MATTER WHICH ONE, is accompanied by “…and by this, it means…” (no wonder TV commentators think they can tell the viewers “this is what you heard”). In their defense most religious volumes have been translated from their original language to the current language of the people. It’s a well known fact that you can lose a lot in the translation.

 

If you read scripture or religious tenets OF ANY FAITH, you can really find yourself horrified at some of the writings.

·       “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” [Deuteronomy 21:18-21]

·       I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes.[Bukhari 11:626]

·      Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.[Matthew 10:34-35]

Are you cringing yet? These are just three of MANY examples from the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Quaran.

 

The other day, on Facebook of course, someone posted a meme that showed a picture of Judge Amy Coney Barrett (a Catholic) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (a Muslim) which was headed, “When her religion is a problem, but hers isn’t”… My response was an innocent “Religion shouldn't matter in either case.” Another FB member (whom I don’t know) responded abruptly about how violent the Quaran is and “Muslims have been fighting Christians since Mohammed!!”

 

Indeed there have been many religious wars through the centuries and ALL of our spiritual texts do contain items that seem callous or violent. But, it is my opinion, that every human being, while respecting the main preaching of their chosen faith, must decide on what kind of a life they want to live. No matter what you call your higher power, HE (or SHE) has also given commandments to love your fellow man, to always strive to be better, and to make this world a better place.

 

Surely we’ve all sinned, sometimes by error and sometimes in anger. But really, are we that different from our fellow beings. We feel pain, we love, we cry, we bleed, and in the end we ALL die.



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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Friendships and Other Interests

 

No two people are living the same life — actually if they are there is something truly “suspicious” going on. We each have our own priorities, likes, dislikes and responsibilities. Some may have family members that another person doesn’t (spouse, children, siblings, etc.) and therefore interests and obligations may not be the same. But… what is the same is the desire to live one’s life, enjoy even the little things, to know love, to want happiness, and to truly feel alive.

 

When someone has a problem, whether or not that predicament is as important to you, doesn’t mean that you know how much someone else is allowed to feel or not. And your experiences, no matter how similar you believe them to be, are NOT the same and that other person does not need to react, feel and believe the same way you do. What is even worse is not really caring how the other person feels and not even trying to.

 

YOU are entitled to be thrilled with the joys in your life and even to share your enthusiasm with others. You need to remember though that you are not the only person in the world, not everyone has to be enthralled with your joys or the things that excite you. At the same time, you do not have a right to minimize another’s joy and enthusiasm. Friendship, love, caring — it’s all give AND take. It’s being considerate of someone else’s feelings.

 

By all means, share your joys, but don’t let it reach the point where you are literally shoving your happiness and blessings upon someone who may be made to feel less for not having what you have. Accept that everyone comes from a different “place” and yours is not the only one that matters. If you and a friend are talking (is it really you AND?) about everything that makes YOU happy and then that friend wants to share some of his own joy, take the time to listen just as they did for you.

 

Think about it honestly. How would you feel if the person you call friend lets you know they just aren’t interested in the things that you hold most dear? Take the time to think of others… and yes, if necessary, eliminate (or at least reduce) those from your life who take you for granted.




 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Sensationalism

 

Who cares if you hurt grieving friends and families so long as you can sell your newspapers, right?... That attitude gets me so angry.

 

I’ve been a journalist for a number of years, for the most part I stay away from hard news coverage. Why? Because I got tired of editors who just wanted headlines, no matter how graphic the image was.

 

A freelance photographer that I know was shooting pictures for a local newspaper, he captured some great shots of a house fire with multiple trucks and firefighters in action. The editor asked if anyone died or at least got injured. The photographer said, no, they got everyone out safely. Editor’s answer, oh, nice pics but we can’t use them, nobody wants to read about that.

 

The truth is though, sensational headlines DO sell newspapers. Emotional and revealing soundbites DO attract viewers to the local TV news program. Many people thrill to the most intimate and gruesome details about the latest car accident, or violent attack, or natural disaster. Maybe… maybe they don’t think it’s real, maybe it’s just another Hollywood movie…

 

Mouths water over every detail, until it happens to your friends, your family, or you. Near the community where I used to live there was a terrible car accident this week, two young people lost their lives. The first newspaper article I read gave the facts, it identified the individuals and told a little about each, then it gave an account of the accident. It was enough detail. A little later a Facebook friend sent me another newspaper’s article; this one was graphic. This article detailed the victims’ final moments with graphic descriptions, it was almost written like an excerpt from a horror novel.

 

Today I saw Facebook posts of friends who had endured this second article. Although they all had been saddened by the deaths of their friends, reading this second, very graphic, article left them in anguish and tears. It pushed them beyond mourning for the losses, the account had horrified them, left them with mental images that will forever haunt. What was the need of that detail — oh yes, to sell newspapers?

 

If you want a horror story there are plenty of books and movies to binge on. Let those editors know that there is no need, no desire, for horror stories in the newspaper.

 

May the victims of this accident Rest in Peace — and may their families and friends find comfort and strength.



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.