My Long and Weird Relationship with Greek Salad

Members of my family used to give me ride alongs in their big trucks down to the Houston Ship Channel to dump massive loads of grain for export. A skinny and long-legged preteen, my biggest joy was to wake up with the seagulls and step out into the gravel-like oyster covered parking lot and go into the cool air conditioned ambience of this one particular Greek restaurant on Clinton Drive. I never knew what entree to order, but I'd always start with the salad, fresh and cheesy, cold, vinegar based, with tons of olives and cucumber.

I remember eating my salad with some kind of fish, and I'd drink glasses of iced tea, and then force whatever family member it happened to be to splurge on coffee and Greek pastries. The place is long gone; the building stands empty; but the decor will live forever in my memory. Painted statues of Greek goddesses, topless, with scenes of the Mediterranean behind them guided you through a maze of columns covered in ivy to the main dining hall where rows of tables dressed in white linen and Greek inspired flower arrangements provided luxury in a neighborhood of trucks, ships, longshoremen, and an assortment of other working people, both good and bad. I continued to visit this restaurant into my adulthood, when in the late 80s it suddenly closed.

After I moved to Saskatchewan in the 90s, I found another wonderful Greek restaurant. It was inside of a mall, and what it lacked in decor it made up for with cheesy and hot delicious food, fabulous intricate desserts, and, of course, the staple of my life--Greek salad. The people that owned this place catered a dinner for me, and if I wanted to meet someone in that end of town, I would always ask to meet in my special place knowing I could always count on a table and be treated to a first class experience.

Now, everywhere on every corner, a Greek restaurant awaits. I could choose from at least half a dozen within a few miles of my Houston home, but I often attend the same one, a chain store offering both Greek and Turkish cuisine that in some ways perfectly overlap in flavor and texture. I am okay with their kabobs and pistachio covered desserts, the array of hot vegetables and the pita bread. But, for various reasons, the Greek salad comes out limp, without a fresh and crunchy texture, so I have to eat that in another place down the road. Now that I am an old lady and completely deserving of something special, I can't have my salad with my fish. But I'm not complaining. I am happy with my memories of my Greek places. I love them.

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Bad Writing in Modern English

I teach my students George Orwell's classic essay Politics and the English Language because he attacks lousy, pretentious prose with comedic indirect satire that is largely dead in modern writing. The writing of today typically dips into sarcasm, an easy below the belt tactic that contributes to the death of civil discourse in professional life. No manager or supervisor should confuse poorly toned writing for professionalism or leadership. Typing out a poorly constructed directive in all caps and sending it out to team members at an inopportune time illuminates nothing in the workplace except the sender's lack of expertise. Poorly timed, poorly toned messages disappoint dedicated people and destroy emerging relationships.

One year during the pandemic on Thanksgiving day, I sat across an old friend in a dilapidated easy chair, and while watching television, the email on my phone dinged. A smart person might have ignored the dinging, but it was Thanksgiving day. I assumed an emergency happened at my work, maybe to a fellow colleague. Instead, this message asked me to verify someone's classroom attendance. This kind of thing can't be fixed during a holiday break. It is the sort of message that scheduled for a Monday morning delivery, might have been more digestible. All writers and professionals should know that the timing of your message is almost as important as the tone and content.

I love the way Orwell addresses the issue with tacked on phraseology. Right now I have a 'hen house' phrase that I am sick and tired of hearing: "That being said."

Anywhere you go, in any setting, you will hear or read some pretentious attempt at professionalism, but the aforementioned phrase above reduces whatever the writer or speaker is trying to say into a pile of meaningless rubble. Orwell, if he were here beside me today, would likely wish he was back in India working as a cop again rather than listen to the lousy prose present in 21st century mass media. He lists out "operator, or verbal false limbs" in his characteristic indirect satirical style without mercy or embellishment. Phrases such as, with respect to, the fact that, in the interests of, with respect to, and so on, exemplify what he means by "tacked on phrases" that convey nothing to an audience.

Many times my students try to write with pretentious diction. Sometimes the results are funny and charming, but overall this kind of writing will not assist the student in any academic or business venture. And people posing as professionals ought to write clearly and with empathy, timing messages with care, rather than trying to dictate to others as if they exist on a royal pedestal when, clearly, in today's society, anyone is replaceable.

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Writing on the Super Note A5X

I made a major mistake last year when I bought the Super Note A6X because the screen is not quite big enough for serious writing and thinking. Last month I chanced upon an opportunity to buy the A5X open box, which meant that I could somewhat afford to invest again. Now I am unsure of what to do with my A6X, but I might give it to my son to write his music on and make drawings of his projects. 

Now that I have the A5X, I am totally in love with the way it works. It is the size of a piece of paper without margins...it's wonderful. I downloaded my teacher planning portfolio onto it, and I also geared it up with a bullet journal, which I am using to record personal plans and activities. I created another folder to write in for random thoughts and content ideas. The teacher planning kit and the bullet journal are both Etsy purchases from a guy named Brendan, and I couldn't be happier. I had a download issue, and Brendan responded within the hour with the solution even though the problem was not related to his product. Now I don't know what to do with the tons of notebooks and planners that I have at home that now seem so juvenile and wasteful, but I don't want to throw them away because they are full of writing ideas, especially from all of those boring meetings and useless trainings that I've had to endure over the years. While other people are trying to get me to work in an uncomfortable and awkward situation, my thoughts wander off in compelling ways, often forking over into banality and sometimes forking over into comedy. You just can't put a value on observations like that--they are priceless. 

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If you feel serious about writing and you want the freedom to create content on a luxury device that is more intriguing than a paper notebook, splurge on the A5X. If you feel as if you want to write occasionally, and you aren't super serious about your output, just do the A6X Super Note. It will fit in a bag or in the palm of your hand like a greeting card. You will love both of them for different reasons. You will especially love the feel of the device, the way it writes. And it does come loaded down with an array of templates that you can use to create wonderful pages and documents. 

SuperNote Link


The Sin of Low Expectations: Is it a trap?

Okay, I know it's true, I am thorny. I am thorny by design and not by choice. I am thorny because of my experience and what I know. I am justifiably thorny. Open your eyes to the potential in front of you, and then ask yourself if you are committing the greatest sin of all, the sin of low expectations. What if someone wants you to accept low expectations, low expectations for job satisfaction and unity, student achievement, parental involvement, equity, and social justice? I heard someone remark one day that, "Our kids are not there. These are not the kids we have. These kids cannot do this." I thought it was the most idiotic statement because an individual can only have limited knowledge of student learning styles and potential in a broad way, and students present with an unlimited variety of possibilities. We can never know how far they can go. 

I sometimes become frustrated with the superficiality of what I see and what I hear. The mundane and hollow, pretentious and predictable, sad blasphemy committed against my subject by people that barely understand its complexity or purpose; I believe this is proof of some type of sabotage. This blasphemy spills from the minds and mouths of people that are in powerful positions. How can we be so deluded? We can never know all of this. What are we thinking? Why are we here? Why do I tolerate this lie, this blasphemy?

My subject is a key that opens the door to power and democracy, equality and justice. Without the key, people suffer. Even if you possess an extraordinary key, one that is gifted and complex in design and purpose, it still might fail to render the best outcome. The key I offer my students is never guaranteed, but it certainly remains their best option for solving difficult personal and social problems. This key opens a gate to the pathway of knowledge, so how can its value be measured by people that claim it as a part of them, but then prove by their actions and words that it is something foreign and unfamiliar instead? This key, when used for good, opens the door to true power.

I'm tired of the charade. I am becoming convinced that the opposition's failure to attack with an effective offensive assault resulted in subterfuge and duplicity instead. Certain powerful individuals look only at abstractions and spreadsheets, when instead they should look inside the organization, into the head of the fish. But what would I know? Maybe I know because I recognize the sheer absurdity of what is happening. I see through the haze of mendacity straight into the eyes of the aggressor. I'm swatting flies.

Many nights and days are devoted to my key. I hold it in my palm like a precious jewel. I share my key with the people that need to unlock the gate to knowledge. I tell them to write to learn. They do it. 

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Working on National Board Certification: Lost and Adrift

This year I am going to try and complete two National Board components. Last year I successfully sat for the Component One exam and that provided evidence of accomplished teaching. Component Two is designed to prove that I fairly provide differentiation for all of my students. My worry is that somehow my featured activity/lesson/artifacts will fall short of the requirements. I'm not sure if National Board envisions a large project activity or some small specific skill, whether it can be an outcropping of some paper through a writing conference, or if it must entail a specific standard and strategy. I'm skipping over Component Three and moving ahead to Component Four, which my coach encouraged me to do. But now that I've watched some YouTube videos on this subject, I am wondering if she actually misguided me. The problem is that I have only 2 more years to get these done, and they are only approved yearly in December. 

In my program, I am lacking an English coach. They did assign me one, but she failed to stay with the program. My official coach is a middle school math teacher, someone that truly doesn't seem to understand the kind of advanced English classes that I teach. My work products are possibly a bit foreign to her. She already downgraded one of my practice submissions which is a final exam paper followed up with feedback and then a student written reflection with specific prompts. Most of my classes are dual credit anyway, and this kind of lesson might have seemed extreme to someone that doesn't teach much writing.

Even worse, I am receiving no support at all from my campus or my district. Other teachers around my area receive extra planning time, financial compensation, and assigned cohorts in order to achieve this difficult certification. My district refuses to even accept the micro credentials that I complete for Board certification practice, even though the rigor is extremely high, possibly higher than anything else a teacher can do other than the actual Board Components. 

I'm not confident that I will achieve a National Board Certificate because of the time frame and my lack of support, but I'm going to try anyway even though it has been thousands of dollars out of my own pocket. I am learning to become a better teacher by engaging with this process even if my participation is only superficial because of my challenges. 

As a young twenty-something living in Oklahoma, I abandoned any dreams of ever becoming a teacher. The low pay and the location interfered with my idyllic imagining of a bright and wealthy future. I wanted to make "as much money as the men." I often felt insecure and homeless, a possible feeling of negativity left over from a difficult childhood. Later, after I partially completed my first degree, I started to imagine myself as a teacher again. But I ended up returning to my previous work because money was tight, and I had my little boy to worry about. 

Finally, I managed to navigate myself back into education. Now I am happy with my choices. Even so, I am always critical of myself, so I am possibly feeling unworthy of National Board Certification, and maybe that is why I feel so lost in the process and need additional support and encouragement.

I know I can do this; I know I can learn from this experience; I know my students will benefit; I know I have to try.

01Rose


Happy New Year Everyone! God Help Us :)

Today I went out to the Ulta store on my pre 2023 makeup run, and I am sad to report that I got pushed aside like an irrelevant old lady. It's true, I am getting kind of old, and I have been sick with some kind of stuff that might as well have been Covid for all the misery it's causing me; my hair looks kind of dry and I am palish and not so well and perky. But that is no reason to treat me like a weak shopper. 

I bought what I wanted, what I could find, and I headed out to Target. The Target looked like a platoon of looters had stormed through. Literally nothing  remained intact. An older man (yes, there are people living that are older than me) helped me manage my purchase at the automatic self-checkout. Normally I wait in line, and I don't care how long, because I want to support workers and their jobs. But this time I didn't care after the brush off at Ulta. 

I came home to the dogs after listening to the sadness in the voice of my son's ex-girlfriend during a phone call. Bummed out, I vacuumed the floor and made some guacamole. I then proceeded to write a student evaluation that is due, for some bizarre reason, on Monday. In other words, it isn't much of a party around here, not this year. 

But these are all White America problems. If I lived in Ukraine, I'd probably really have something to complain about. I'd be ducking Putin's stupidity and callous disregard for life. I'd be hungry and cold, and I would probably be struggling to keep my pets alive. I might be homeless, or hiding in a shelter. But here in the United States, I am currently under no threat of a missile hitting my neighborhood. The only missiles around here cost an arm and a leg down at the area firework stand.  The drunk drivers will be out, and Harris County is prosecuting as many of them as they can tonight. That means you can get hauled in for driving drunk and then you can get convicted all in the same night. It's like the Whataburger of courtrooms.

I don't know why I am writing. But I am glad you are reading. Happy and Prosperous 2023!

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Working on My Subject Area Masters and the Devastating Consequences (with update)

My health went down when I worked on my subject area masters. Different than an M.Ed, a subject area masters requires you to become an expert, contribute to the academic discipline, and develop a thesis and area of study. As an undergrad, my interest in composition theory, education, and recidivism, led me into a series of interesting papers that felt easy to write, and my department chair and professors supported me with anything I wanted to do, whether it was in the education department or in the English department. For example, I enjoyed the experience of working as a visiting teacher at our local alternative school, and I split my observation schedule between 12th grade English and Kindergarten; splitting that observation time enabled me to imagine vertical alignment and see the big picture as it pertains to childhood development and literacy. I worked on a series of lesson plans for English with another teacher, and I created a lesson plan portfolio on our twelve domains that I donated to the education department when I graduated. Overall, the experiences, the practicum in English, the composition theory classwork, the writing, and the childhood psychology and development classes helped me become a better teacher. When I moved to Texas, I had to basically revisit all of that in order to feel qualified and effective. I worked on weekends, nights, and at all kinds of odd times in order to prepare for my masters. I read incredibly difficult writers and thinkers, such as Kenneth Burke, in order to prepare myself for teaching rhetoric and composition at the college level. I dug into the Theory of the Novel by Lukรกcs, and I reread all of my old college textbooks in order to prepare myself. I worked on my writing using the theories that I learned. I published with my audience in mind, fellow teachers and instructors, and I watched as my writing became more professional and academic. I finally felt prepared.

My health slipped away. On weekends, while other people were out walking and enjoying the beautiful Texas weather, I hunched over my desk. I neglected my child, and I became surly and over-stressed. Taking him to his guitar practices felt like an intrusion on my study time, and working at my school on Saturdays interfered with my writing time. I gained weight. I became unhappy, but I loved my classes with a passion I hadn't felt since I taught English at the alternative school. I inserted the concepts, the beautiful ideas that I learned, into my ninth and tenth grade English classes. I started to teach Advanced Placement English. I navigated the hoard of people that judged me without knowing my struggle. I felt misunderstood. An over zealous and abusive administrator mismanaged me, one in a series of new underprepared principals that I endured early in my teaching career. I started to think that nothing that I did would matter to the world of education because it catered to a long line of people that, in my opinion, were unworthy of their position and relied on connections, instead of expertise, for employment.

The years went by and I became a better teacher. I paid for my own professional development at expensive places like Bard College and Rice University. I earned some scholarships from Bard and Rice, and this extra work helped me become even more professional. I even earned a scholarship as recent as this year from the College Board in order to study in a cohort with a mentor. 

But, apparently, somehow, this year, I am not worth as much to my institution. My institution wants to squabble with me about my adjunct pay. The community college that hired me as an adjunct issued a raise, but none of this money trickled down to me; this raise never trickled down to my fellow coworkers that earned the difficult subject degrees that allowed them to teach dual credit classes. Not only that, my institution wanted to pay me for one less section than last year, even though my enrollment increased substantially, and my students are struggling harder with the material. I wonder where the money is going. I wonder why I am not paid more for my education, the sacrifice that I made for my students, the ongoing cost to my physical health which is now named by my doctor, Type 2 diabetes. To define how this has made me feel, this attack on my professional life, could only be described as depressing. This feeling of unfairness, this disregard and disrespect for my contribution, causes me to feel like leaving my institution, the institution that has become so familiar and family like. Meanwhile, this steady parade of people barely making a contribution seems to increase in size.

(Update) Apparently someone on my campus made a little mistake that affected my pay and this issue will be resolved. Still, adjuncts did receive a raise that the district did not issue. Teachers at all levels are trying to achieve a healthy pay schedule so that they can afford to work and live in their districts among the students, typically inner-city, that need professionals the most. Civil workers deserve a decent and dignified retirement. Anything less is an attack on democracy. Imagine if only novices without college degrees are the main source of our education workforce. What would that look like for our children?

Full time teachers that work hard to improve deserve respect. This practice of underpaying teachers and demonizing them must stop. The endless menagerie of toxic people installed into roles they are literally not educated for, these people that make it a habit to undermine the faculty, need flushed from the school system. People that underpay teachers to the point that teachers can't even afford a home, should be removed from the school system. Politicians that attack teachers and insult them by calling them childish names like "groomers" and "Marxists" must be voted out of public office. People that would restrict a students' right to read the books of their choice, should be forced to read the books themselves, write a lengthy report, and then file their dubious and silly claims. The attack on intellectual life, the attack on writers and thinkers, is a sign of authoritarianism and fascism. This is unacceptable. Installing people into roles that they are not qualified for is another sign of fascism. 

Lift up your real teachers. The teachers that are real, that want to remain in the classroom and not jump out into administration, are worth your protection. Show your respect by calling them teachers, call them faculty, stop calling them staff, provide them with moments of happiness that make them feel special. Pay them what they deserve without trying to find an excuse to take it away. Treat teachers with humanity, dignity, and respect. Remove people that micromanage and ridicule your teaching staff. Provide meaningful professional development opportunities, not busy work.

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Trucking to Teaching: #WhyIWrite

Thirty-nine years ago I took a cold shower in the middle of winter in a men's restroom in North Dakota. I dried myself with a dirty shirt while standing in grayish water that had backed up from the drain. My long mousy hair covered my skinny frame, and my bare freckled face made me look rather slight and timid. I drove a Peterbilt truck cross- country, hauling steel from the port in Houston and illegal, overweight, loads of grain back. And I treasured my life on the road. Like most young women, I owned a long list of feminine accoutrements, things I adored: a lacy ribbon of asphalt; an emerald shimmering along the northern sky, a collection of twinkling diamonds, and flowers and birds of every color and every song. The lace unfurled its amazing patterns along the fringes of my hood, and sometimes the emeralds would want to be worn with the sapphires, especially on dark, frigid nights, their colors shimmering in the northern sky. The diamonds bedazzled me by making celestial shapes: virgo, scorpio, and Orion. And a small yellow flower would always wave to me from the crack in the road on that two lane highway near Bozeman, Montana, the highway that runs along the Yellowstone River in a race to Wyoming.  

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My ten-year old self stood toe to toe with my middle-aged stepfather and argued.

"But I want to go on the truck this holiday. I don't have anything to do here!"

In typical stormy fashion, my impatient and unprepared stepdad shot back, " You don't have a single A this semester!"

I remembered our deal, and I felt some small measure of guilt blush across my freckles. It's true; to go on the road, I had to make straight A's.

"But I meet smart people on the road, and I learn a lot just by riding along with you!"

"Well, what exactly do you learn out there, Ms. Astor?"

"I learn about math for one thing because our load is always overweight. I also learn about people and geography, and while we are waiting on the scale    to close and the cops to get lost, I get to read!"

Wiping his brow with a shop rag, my step-dad stammered, "I'll talk to your mom." 

These little battles about going on the truck became bigger battles in my adult life. But eventually I no longer needed the support of my male relatives.

I became independent. I could make as much money as the men did!

Grinding away at the gears, backing over the curbs, tearing up mudflaps and chrome bumpers, I eventually soloed my way into a long series of good paying trucking jobs. You could find me in a cafe for my one daily stop, not alone, but with a local paper or best selling book. Problem solving and calculating routes, calculating weight and floor space, and practicing safe driving in all kinds of weather and traffic conditions in any kind of geography, all of this became a way of life for me. 

Now I teach high school with a Masters of English, but I only recently started making more money teaching than driving, even though my new career spans eleven years of my life. This is a sad statement on the affairs of teaching, the low pay, the lack of appreciation, and the hard work all teachers must do to become successful. 

I am a product of two vastly different worlds, but I am not alone. I met many drivers that had spent years in colleges working on degrees but preferred life on the road.

I love my worlds, both of them.

 

 

 


Living in the Village During the Summer Record Heat and Drought: Characters in Crisis

Months into a record breaking heatwave and drought, the drunken sots behind me run a lawn sprinkler morning and evening; I suspect because neither one of them are employed or employable, so I think they sit there in the misty rainbow hoping they don't have to cool the house. The water runs down the street 100 feet around the corner to a parking area and ponds on the hard pavement. The water puddles around day and night, the only water that is wasted in the entire community, but nothing is done about it even though we are asked by the county officials to save water, even though we have elderly people living in our community on a fixed income, even though none of us have a water meter because the community water bill is shared by all and comes out of our monthly HOA fees. The drunken sots are renters, so they don't care.

Someone threw a bunch of bricks and other trash into the storm drain 40 feet from my front door, maybe the same guy that runs a chop-shop-style-fix-it-up place out of his residential garage 60 feet from my front door, forcing all of us to endure the noise, the unsightly scene, and the assortment of junk cars that rumble in and out. I wonder if when he goes to dump the chemicals, oils, paint thinners, and compounds if the clown in the storm drain issues him a receipt. 

When I walk around the bayou, I see the beauty. I wonder how a man, a stooge really, could be so indifferent to our natural world, after all we have been through: Harvey, heatwaves, Memorial Day flood, tax day flood, Ike, and so on. We already endure smog and chemical fires, noise, and traffic beyond belief. How can a grown man trash our little get-away village?

We live around an assortment of mentally ill gossip types, but one stand out case is the broad that walks around here with a hat on her head straight out of the Handmaid's Tale. She definitely puts the P in superficial because she lives in this pretend type world were popularity means something, as if she is still in high school, and lies and innuendo are a weapon of power and prestige. She will run up to another resident and go off about how much someone else is disliked and hated, as if that is what makes her feel in touch with her humanity, the deprivation of someone else's reputation or likability. 

But on these hot summer nights, as the water seeps down the road into people's driveways and under the tires of their cars, a few positives remain. A menagerie of honestly good people still live here: the board president unafraid of taking on a difficult hands-on task; the retired teacher that fussed enough to get us a streetlight; my neat-as-a-pin neighbor with the beautiful life on the seas, constantly sailing and sailing; the man across the way battling a vicious illness but working long hard hours; the fellow dog walkers; the elders on fixed incomes watching the water evaporate into nothingness; and the handsome young men with their wonderful wives and girlfriends. 

Maybe, when the next bill comes, the water will finally be turned off.

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A Bee Story (Not My Own) ๐Ÿ Random Musings (Not Mine Either, But I Do Agree) ๐ŸŒค Crazy Cat Lady ๐Ÿ“š

Sunday, time to reflect on the things that make your life worth living. I don't know what floats your boat, but I am happy to see bees in my garden. There is clover growing in sunny spots in the yard and the bees are visiting there. But what makes me especially happy is to see the sweet, little visitors sipping from a bowl of water that I provided for them to hydrate.
I learned from FB friends that along with planting bee-friendly flowers and clover you should provide drinking water. The bee friends recommended using a small bowl. I filled ours up with pretty things, for us humans to enjoy, but which provided a safe place for bees to land upon. For there, the bees can safely drink the water and not drown.
I took a bowl, thrown by one of Lee's former students, that we had previously used for smudging, and I filled it with colorful marbles, rose rocks, tiger eye, and a hag's stone. What is wonderful about the hag's stone is that they are deemed to hold powers of protection, which can be invoked against all forms of negativity. This particular stone--I can't remember where it came from-- has two holes, one on each end of the rock.
To my delight, when I was watering the flowers yesterday, I saw where thirsty bees actually stood upon the hag stone and sipped the water seeping into the holes. It is almost like the stones were designed for the bee's hydrating pleasure. Seeing the little creatures about is mine.

Random musing on a HOT May afternoon.
Damn it's hot!
It is really hot!
It is really very hot!
It is way too damn hot for this time of year.

The planet and peoples' tempers are boiling.
All the time, I see verbal dueling with pro-right-wing-freestyle--gun-toting fb NRA lovers. When anyone says, let's have us some commonsense gun control, then there is a great wailing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth followed by the thunderous rhetorical cry of , "but who else will stop a bad guy with a gun but a good guy with a gun. "
Now, in Buffalo, we see yet another needless tragedy involving innocents and a gun toting lunatic. A brave police officer did his best to put the assailant down, but, instead, he lies dead--a hero. He gave his life for others, but, to our horror, couldn't stop the carnage from being inflicted upon innocent shoppers.
Looks like, a good-guy-guard with a gun didn't have a chance against a racist, hate-filled guy with a bigger, more expensive gun and Kevlar and rantings that inflamed his brain.

Too bad, Americans can't pass laws that will keep her civilians safe, because there is profit in death to be made.
Pray for me, I'm an American and I'm going to go grocery shopping on an unseasonably hot afternoon in a trigger-happy state, with everyone carrying on cranky.
What could go wrong?

BeeKind


Cancel Russia and its Petulant, Whining Leader: Reject Fascism ๐ŸŒป #StandWithUkraine

Russia, a petulant, whining child, complains about the consequences of something that is entirely its own fault, the bloody invasion of Ukraine, an invasion based on obvious lies and foolishness. The rest of the world, according to the Kremlin, must capitulate and give them Ukraine. Why? Well, because it once belonged to them, back in the good old days of Soviet oppression. Don't forget, if you are leaning towards fascism, or if you are someone thinking that kowtowing to the Kremlin will protect you from harm, that Soviet citizens couldn't make choices or engage with the outside world. They lived by a rigid standard of rules that were designed to trap people into a life of subjugation and slavery. Even now the Russian government stealthily enslaves people that it considers unworthy of partaking in the common "civil" society, so what you are worth?

How would you stack up on Putin's rubric?

Frankly I'm sick of their tired and meaningless diatribes, especially that rat Minister of Foreign Affairs, their murderous and ugly intentions, and their selfish imposition on the world order. Just like any other adolescent cry baby, this regime will never be satisfied until they completely dominate the entire free world power structure. Every day they threaten a new border, a new ethnic group, or offer to pony up a nuke or chemical weapon. The world does not have to sit around and look at this.

We can take action too.

As if Putin and his cabal of greedy, rich and ugly, disgusting followers and oligarch zombies didn't already have enough wealth and land, exclusive power over vast populations, and at least prior to this cruel and murderous invasion, substantial prestige and unlimited luxury. How much do they need? Why couldn't they turn their ugly impulses into something beautiful and become kind neighbors to the countries around them? Think of how duplicitous and influential a different kind of Putin could have been. Even if he is just a hardcore Soviet, imperialistic nut-show, he could have seemed so different and thus benefit exponentially for his country, his cabal, and his personal greed. 

Putin and his oligarchs blindly threw away the greatest opportunity in the history of humanity. They took an opportunity of positivity and turned it into the ugliest mess since WW II. No doubt the hand he played in Syria defined him and allowed for future atrocity, but still a shroud of decency, even farfetched, might have been cast over his crimes considering the massive disinformation campaign that precludes such barbarism. His holding of a lighted candle during an Orthodox Easter service seems to parallel with Trump holding a Bible while protesters are gassed and beaten because in every move that Putin makes, rather it be abstract or concrete, a threatening message is sent. Every move Trump makes, even though they are completely amateur in comparison, share the same hateful and indulgent set of goals. Putin is telling us that he will use gas on Ukraine.

The fascists are here even if they are unable to define themselves due to cowardice or a lack of education. They are here and we must acknowledge their presence, just as if they too are whining petulant children. In our country, people are free to think as a fascist, but they are not free to act as a fascist. But I want to make it clear to the people that bother to read my thoughts, the toxic pond we wade in is deep because of Putin and his outdated Soviet philosophy--the modern fascist world will make the old fascist world look like a peaceful playground full of happy children. We must rise up and defend freedom or the suffering and horror will never end. Fascism, in alignment with Putin's world view, will be nothing but atrocity after atrocity. 

Ask a Ukrainian if you don't believe me.

BombedPlayground