Sunday, April 8, 2012

Open Letter to the US Postal Service

More to the point, this would be an open letter to the Woodway (Texas) Station of the US Postal Service, although I suspect this applies to the USPS nationwide.

Dear US Postal Service:

There are many reasons that your service is in trouble, over and above the threat of technology and e-mail. The biggest threat to your continued survival (much less success) is your own abysmal implementation of customer service. If you are in the business of providing a service, you must pay attention to your customers, and tailor your business model to satisfying your customers. That seems like a no-brainer to me, but increasingly I have seen that very few businesses are paying attention to their customers these days. When you eventually go out of business, it may be some consolation to you to know that you are not alone.

Specifically, I have in my possession, a badly copied, extremely poor quality notice from the Supervisor, Customer Services of the Woodway Station. It was folded up and tucked under my windshield wiper. It looks very unprofessional and low-class, which is an appearance that does not speak well for the USPS. But the cheap quality of the notice is only the beginning.

The notice is the result of my having parked too close to the mailbox of a postal customer. It begins with a transparent lie: To provide you with faster and more efficient delivery, we are requesting your help.

That sounds on the surface like good customer service. Kind of a With your help, we can do the best delivery job possible! sort of statement. But it is actually a transparent lie betrayed quickly by the threat of punishment for noncompliance, which is that if the mailbox is blocked again, the Post Office will withhold all mail for 10 days to punish the customer, whether the mailbox is blocked or not. Either you keep the street in front of your house clear or else we just won't even try to deliver your mail.

I was, fact in, in front of that house for 38 minutes, which unfortunately coincided with the arrival of the postman. And in fact I was not in front of the mailbox. Apparently I was parked too close to the mailbox for the mailman to swoop up in his vehicle and then continue forward in a smooth arc, since I was parked at the curb to the left of the mailbox.

Now, if I had been parked smack-dab in front of the mailbox in a manner prohibiting a delivery person from  accessing it because my car was in the way, I could understand the problem that would present. But the mailbox itself was completely unobstructed.

I could also understand the issue if the mailbox was permanently or semi-permanently blocked in some manner. The examples they use on their low-rent notice are ridiculous. The first one shows that postal customers need to remove snow for 30 feet on each side of the mailbox so the postal vehicle can cruise up unobstructed and proceed on, also unobstructed. Like we will ever see snow like that in Woodway, Texas.

The second example shows curb-side trash cans sitting in front of the mailbox. Well, city ordinances require that trash cans be removed from curb-side except on trash collection days. So this might be a problem one day a week. In fact, it might be a continuing problem one day a week. God, what an imposition that would be for the poor, put-upon postal carrier.

I suppose I am miffed that the postal delivery person is so lazy or complacent that getting out of the vehicle to deliver the mail is an imposition on him or her. It so happens I live in a neighborhood where the mailboxes are next to the front door, so my mail carrier walks his or her (depending on the day of the week) route daily. Are vehicle-delivery-only routes a reward for senior carriers? Or for out-of-shape carriers? Are carriers on primarily vehicle-delivery routes exempted from having to leave their vehicle? What?

It is a common misconception that the creed of the US Postal Service is: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. In fact, although the USPS did refer to that line that in a self-serving advertisement in 2001 following 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the organization has never publicly aspired to that level of service. 

But I think there is a middle ground between that admirable goal and the reality of current mail delivery service.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Religious Freedom in the Workplace: Healthcare

I am reminded once again that how an issue is framed sometimes limits discussion and short-circuits logic. The latest issue that reminded me of this unfortunate circumstance is the health insurance debate resulting from the Obama Administration's attempts to insure healthcare for all Americans.

In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services specified preventive health services that insurance plans would be required to cover under the Affordable Care Act. Contraceptives and sterilizations were listed as required services, including drugs like Plan B (but not RU-486).

Religious organizations immediately declared that the rule infringed on their religious beliefs because they did not condone contraception, and they were being forced to violate their religious principles.

What seems to have been overlooked is that those organizations who employed people who did not share their religious convictions were infringing on the religious rights of their employees by forcing them to comply with the religious beliefs that the employees did not hold. Let me restate that. Any employee whose religious beliefs did not preclude contraception was being forced to comply with the religious beliefs of his or her employer.

The employer could hire only like-minded workers, but it is illegal to discriminate against any worker on the basis of his or her religion. There needs to be a separation between religion and civil society, and the rules of civil society must take precedent in the civil realm.

Consider that any employer whose religious beliefs compelled him to eschew medical treatment could, for religious reasons, refuse to provide any healthcare plan at all. Christian Science and to some extent Jehovah's Witnesses fall under this category.

I think it is ludicrous for anyone to refuse medical care and as a result suffer needlessly and possibly even die in the delusion that God will cure him or her, but people have all sorts of strange beliefs and traditions. I will reluctantly allow that anyone should be free to suffer needlessly and die because they think it is what their personal God wants. It is probably only what they deserve for believing in such a God to begin with. I draw the line when it comes to their children, though. But that is another blog.

My solution to the healthcare conundrum for religious organizations is simple. Employment is a civil contract and civil rules and regulations must apply. There are currently expemptions for religious organizations that need to be repealed, so that religious affiliated businesses must comply with the same workplace standards and safety considerations as other businesses. Repealing those exemptions will be difficult, if not impossible, but allowing for new ones should be prevented at all costs.

If my religious belief does not preclude contraception, my employer should not be permitted to violate my religious beliefs by forcing me to follow his religion's pecadillos. Religious freedom should apply to individuals, not organizations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Ten Commandments are Not A Universal Guide for Living

I know it is difficult for Christians to comprehend that not everyone is a Christian, and not every belief system can be described through Christian symbology and dogma. But that is the case. The conviction that The Ten Commandments represents concepts that are or should be cherished by everyone no matter their belief system is not only presumptuous, it is insulting.

I will begin by pointing out that there is some question just what the Ten Commandments actually are. The commandments appear in two places in the Bible, Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-21. The two versions vary, of course, and so naturally the Protestants tend to use the Exodus version and Catholics tend to use the Deuteronomy version. So even Christians don’t really agree completely.

I will follow by defining the word commandment, which is “(1) a command; an edict; (2) one of the Ten Commandments.”  [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]

The word commandment carries with it some weight. It is more than a suggestion or a guideline. It is an order. In Christianity, it carries the force of religious law, and to violate that law is to invite punishment.  It is an uncomfortable truth that abiding by the Ten Commandments is the same as abiding by ancient Mosaic law, which is the Christian version of setting aside civil laws and abiding by Sharia law in Islamic nations. Religious laws have no place in the free and secular society of the United States in which religious freedom is codified in the Constitution.

And the Ten Commandments is unquestionably religious law. It is not a monolithic universal ethical guideline that is applicable to everyone, and should not be touted as such.

Let me examine each commandment, one by one.

The first commandment (I’m going to use the King James translation and the Protestant version for simplicity) is:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

That has absolutely no applicability to anyone whose faith does not involve a creator god, or who is polytheistic, or who is atheistic or agnostic. Moreover, Christians will be more than glad to tell you that it does not apply to just any monotheistic deity, it applies to the Judeo-Christian deity. The first commandment is a purely Christian religious edict, addresses no greater ethical or moral truth, and does not apply universally.

The second commandment is: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.

Once again, this commandment applies to Christianity, or more specifically, the Judeo-Christian god. It is also an extremely self-serving commandment, even in Christianity. As I mentioned, the commandments have the force of law, and apparently the Judeo-Christian god decided that taking his name in vain not only carries equal weight to not killing or stealing, but takes precedence by its position as the second commandment, of less importance only to believing in god (and only god) in the first place. This commandment also is a purely Christian religious edict, addresses no greater ethical or moral truth, and does not apply universally.

The third commandment is: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Are you seeing a pattern here? This is based on the Christian creation story of the world being created in six days, with a seventh day for rest. Observing the sabbath (Sunday for Christians but Saturday for Jews, so there’s confusion even within the Judeo-Christian belief system) is a way of saying “Way to go, God! Out of respect for your hard work we will do nothing of consequence for one-seventh of our lives.” Not every faith subscribes to the same creation story, and in fact I suspect a significant number of Christians are not believers in Creationism. So once again, this commandment also is a purely Christian religious edict, addresses no greater ethical or moral truth, and does not apply universally.

The fourth commandment is: Honour thy father and thy mother.

This is certainly a nice sentiment, and there is some logic in respecting your elders. However, personally I believe that respect should be earned, and that good parents will in most instances earn their children’s respect without being commanded to do so. There are certainly exceptions, but the children who are exceptions probably will not change their disrespectful ways based on the fourth commandment. Most importantly, though, I am not convinced that this commandment rises to the level of a universal edict that carries equal weight with, say, not killing someone. And I cannot help thinking that parents who would most enforce this as a religious edict probably do not deserve respect to begin with.

The fifth commandment is:  Thou shalt not kill.

Finally, here is a commandment that addresses a greater ethical or moral truth and applies universally. If you are keeping track, this is actually the first such commandment, and to my way of thinking it should also be The First Commandment. It is discouraging that the rest of the Bible is filled with holy reasons to break this commandment with alarming frequency. So although it should carry the weight of religious as well as civil law, there are innumerable exceptions and loopholes within the Bible itself. In fact, it seems to me that Christians are much more forceful and obnoxious in enforcing the first four commandments than this one. Consider that it is acceptable to kill in war, and to execute criminals, and to punish apostasy, witches, female adulteresses, and blasphemers, but it is never acceptable to take God’s name in vain. (I’m not saying people don’t do it, I am saying that it is never acceptable.) The bottom line is this: Not killing is #5 on the list.

The sixth commandment is: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

This commandment is suspect for a number of reasons. First, the definition of adultery varies in the Bible. For example, in the New Testament, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, anyone who divorces and remarries is committing adultery. Second, the penalty for adultery is death. But without the death penalty and the no-divorce clauses, I will go along with this as an admirable guideline by which to live, although giving it the force of religious law does not seem appropriate. A part of me feels like my social programming is making me give this more applicability than it might deserve, and if I had grown up in a less sexually repressed society without a strong bias for monogamy, I might feel differently. More liberal sexual mores would then be perfectly acceptable, in which case having extended relationships would not be interpreted as cheating but actually building a larger web of intimate relationships. There’s probably some Free Love 60’s attitudes mixed into my social programming. So I only very reluctantly see this as having near-universal applicability.

The seventh commandment is: Thou shalt not steal.

Once again, if the Bible itself did not list so many exceptions to this commandment, I would wholeheartedly concur. But Christian hypocrisy aside, this certainly addresses a greater ethical or moral truth and does apply universally. It should be The Second Commandment instead of ending up in seventh place.

The eighth commandment is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Stated more plainly, this commandment should read: Thou shalt not lie. This should be The Third Commandment. Sadly, our current society could not exist if this commandment was actually followed. Businesses routinely lie in the form of advertisements. Salespeople routinely lie to makes sales. Politicians and FOX Newscasters routinely lie to forward ideological agendas. Financiers routinely lie to make profits and protect investments. Players routinely lie to get laid. It would be an unrecognizable world if no one lied.

The ninth commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house.

If this means you should not want your neighbor’s property, then while I think it is probably a good sentiment, I feel it is seriously limited in scope and once again does not rise to the level of a universal edict. If this means you should not want to have the same things as your neighbor, or in other words, you should not want to “keep up with the Joneses” as it was once referred to, then it comes dangerously close to saying you should just be satisfied with what you have and get on with your life. People should always want to improve themselves, and if they measure that improvement by comparing themselves to others, that’s not a sin. Once again, I feel like this one is not only not universal, it almost endorses stagnation.

The tenth commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

No, you should not want to take what your neighbor has. That is a good sentiment. I’m not sure it belongs on a Top Ten List of Ways to Live Your Life, but there is no doubt that if it was universally observed, the world would be a nicer place. It would need an asterisk exception, though, to indicate that it has no applicability in the business world or the world of employment where headhunting and employee and customer poaching are everyday occurrences. Personally, I think that if something has universal applicability, it should have no exceptions.

So, in conclusion, I can say without any reservations that only three commandments are not specifically Judeo-Christian, do speak to a greater ethical or moral truth, and do apply universally. However, The Ten Commandments is specifically Judeo-Christian. It has no place in a secular
society that is inclusive of all faiths and belief systems.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Susan G. Komen Imbroglio

I was fascinated by the willful self-destruction of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation's reputation at the beginning of February. It is difficult to comprehend the political naivete of the foundation's founder, senior officers and board members. What they managed to do was shine a very unwelcome and unflattering spotlight on the foundation that heretofore was all about breast cancer.

I found about about Komen's decision to defund breast health services provided by Planned Parenthood via a post on Facebook. I followed the link and signed the petition protesting the decision because (1) I support the important women's health services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide, and (2) I believe breast cancer research fund raising should be apolitical.

It has been disheartening to read the Komen responses to the controversy, which run the gamut from simple-minded to mendacious. It was actually embarrassing to watch Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell in which she changed the reason for the defunding move on the fly. First it was because Planned Parenthood was "under investigation," then it was because Planned Parenthood's funding was only a "pass through" service.

The "investigation" is, in fact, just the latest harrassment tactic by virulent conservative politicians, fronted on this occasion by Rep Cliff Stearns (FL). Komen sources say the new funding rule that allowed Komen to discontinue supporting organizations that were "under investigation" was specifically designed to cut funding for Planned Parenthood's breast exam services, and no other recipients of Komen funds who were "under investigation," (and there are several) were affected.

Nancy Brinker blithely changed the reason in the Andrea Mitchell interview, to say that Komen wanted to focus on organizations that were directly involved in breast cancer research for funding and not simply "pass through" services. Planned Parenthood performs breast exams, and in the cases where there is concern, sends the women to a medical facility equipped to perform mammograms, with voucers for free or discounted exams, in some instances paid for by Komen funding. Paying for those exams, or partially paying for those exams, for women who cannot afford them, is the "pass through" service Komen does not wish to fund.

The bottom line is this: Komen should be able to disburse its charitable contributions as the foundation sees fit. And contributors should be able to see what Komen does with its contributions before deciding whether or not to support the foundation. I don't think anyone can argue with either of those statements. And suddenly people are seeing what Komen is doing with their donations.

Komen cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and the reaction was swift and vocal. Despite the claims by right-wing conservative talking heads, I have not seen any evidence that Planned Parenthood went on the offensive, taking to the media to stigmatize Komen. What I saw was a grassroots, bottom-up response via social media, which was reported by the media. The protests waged for only a few days before Komen reversed its decision. Or said it reversed its decision, because the proof will actually be in the next rounds of disbursements they make.

Throughout the controversy, Komen maintained that they received a lot of support for their initial, de-funding decision. It is curious that, if they received so much support, they went ahead and reversed the decision anyway. Maybe that is one more falsehood, in an alarming series of apparent falsehoods issuing from Komen's ineffective damage control effort.

Komen also denied that staunch anti-Planned Parenthood advocate Karen Handel, hired on as VP for Public Policy late last year, had anything to do with the decision. Handel stepped down a week or so later, claiming that she had nothing to do with the decision but for the good of Komen she was taking herself out of the picture. Another curious move if indeed she had nothing to do with any of it, but understandable from a PR point of view. Of course, a few days later she was accusing Planned Parenthood of reneging on a back-room deal not to publicize the de-funding move, which was evidence that she was involved in it, but that's just another layer of Komen untruth laid bare.

Throughout the controversy, Komen has defended itself by saying that the protests are trying to politicize breast cancer awareness and research. Anti-abortion foes are raving that pro-choice protesters have politicized the issue and are lashing out at Komen for reversing their decision. In fact, the right-wing pundits and Komen are united in their belief that this politicization is all because of pro-choice advocates.

It is embarrassingly hypocritical for Komen officials and conservatives to claim that the protests of pro-Planned Parenthood advocates "bullied" Komen into reversing their decision.  According to Komen statements, the protests of anti-Planned Parenthood advocates at past Komen events prompted their decision. Why were those earlier protests not "bullying?"

Even more to the point, for critics of the popular basklash against Komen's decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood to claim that the current protests have politicized the foundation, since those protests were in response to anti-Planned Parenthood protests in the first place, the blame for politicizing Komen rests on the original anti-Planned Partenthood contingent. They forced Komen into taking a political stand instead of simply raising funds for breast cancer awareness.

When I say "forced," of course, I am giving Komen officials the benefit of the doubt. Nancy Brinker is an ultra conservative, and no stranger to Republican politics. Karen Handel is a staunch Republican and a declared foe of Planned Parenthood and all the necessary women's health services it provides. My personal feeling is that this is a move Brinker and her cronies have had on the agenda for quite a while, and bringing Handel on board was a way to make it happen.

The Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation has also spotlighted itself at an inopportune time. A documentary revealing the "pinking" of questionable or unhealthy products, in which Komen partnered with corporations to give them a veneer of breast cancer awareness respectability in exchange for donations, was just released in Canada, and is headed south in the near future.

More alarming to me, though, is the personal realization that a charity behemoth like Komen is sucking up the majority of donations intended for beast cancer research but only doling them out to research organizations that fit their political agenda. Komen refuses to donate to breast cancer research facilities that conduct stem cell research, even though such research promises great potential. If everyone donates to Komen thinking they are doing their part for breast cancer, but Komen is deciding which research projects are "worthy" of their funding--and that worthiness is based not on medical or scientific considerations but political or religious considerations--then critical research might effectively go unfunded.

I don't think the Komen foundation is qualified to be making those choices. It would not be an issue except that Komen is the only breast cancer charity that many people are aware of. It is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Research projects that do not get the Komen Foundation Seal of Approval probably do not get breast cancer related donations. Komen has gotten too big to be allowed to play partisan politics with women's health. And so, they must go. Someone else neeeds to step up and fill the vacancy, and we can only hope breast cancer research will not suffer for it. Komen has damaged the breast cancer research fund raising machine, and betrayed the trust of women everywhere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Driving and Cell Phones

And on the subject of driving while carrying on cell phone conversations, let me just say this. If you cannot do two things at once, then don't. Be a responsible adult and recognize your limitations. Also, recognize the destructive capacity of a high-speed motor vehicle being operated by someone not payng attention to the road ahead.

I am not in favor of blanket laws that treat everyone like the most selfish and irresponsible among us. It simply does not make sense. But the loopholes in those laws make even less sense. Take, for instance, the hands-free exception. It is unacceptable to drive while talking on a cell phone but not if you have a Bluetooth hands-free device. Well, NEWSFLASH FOR THE SIMPLE-MINDED: The danger is not driving with only one hand, it is driving while not paying attention to the road.

The Bluetooth device does work its mojo, though. Seeing someone driving with a cell phone held up to his or her ear drives a lot of people into an unaccountable rage. Where all this free-flowing hatred comes from, I don't know. But it is there.

It is not necessary that the driver is poking along, not paying any attention to the trafic flow, or taking forever to pull off the right of way into a parking lot because carrying on a conversation and visually searching for a parking place overwhelms the cognitive abilities of many folks, or sitting at a traffic light that has long since turned green and will all-too-soon turn red again because a cell phone conversation has taken the focus away from the status of the traffic light.

No, just the sight of a driver holding up a cell phone is enough to infuriate other drivers. However, if the driver is doing any of those things while on a Bluetooth device, so that others cannot see that a cell phone conversation is going on, well in that case there is just the standard low-level annoyance at an inattentive driver. Or, depending on the observer, the standard low-level annoyance might be replaced with anger at a woman driver, or an old driver, or a young driver, or an ethnic driver, or any of the other handy prejudicial cubbyholes in which we just love to poke people and then hate on them.

So that handy hands-free device serves to reduce a small measure of the overt fury many drivers direct at others, which in itself might be some justification for using it, which also unfortunately says nothing good about drivers in general, but it does nothing to reduce the actual problem of people driving while not paying attention.

I'm not sure why it is acceptable to drive inattentively with a hands-free Bluetooth headset but not with just a handset. Maybe it is a marketing ploy to sell expensive Bluetooth devices. Maybe it is a class warfare maneuver to allow people with money enough to purchase expensive Bluetooth devices to drive inattentively while giving the police a reason to ticket those with less money who cannot afford a hands-free device. Plus, there is the added benefit of allowing class, sex, or ethnicity motivated anger to be exercised with impunity.

Now you may be saying to yourself that it is not, in fact, acceptable to drive inattentively with a Bluetooth headset, just because I said so. However, it is next to impossible to tell the difference between someone carrying on a cell phone conversation using a Bluetooth headset and someone simply wearing one and, saying, talking to himself. And for those with enough money to afford cars with Bluetooth capability built into the radio/sound system, an observer might be excused for not being able to tell whether the driver is talking to someone or singing along with the radio.

So I recommend abolishing the unfair laws against carrying on cell phone conversations in motor vehicles because it is impossible to fairly and effective enforce them. This is one of my themes: Any law that cannot be (or is not, in instances of selective enforcement) fairly and effectively enforced for everyone should not be enforced against anyone. (I will return to this theme in future blogs.)

I should mention that I get really pissed off when I am driving along behind someone who is paying more attention to a cell phone conversation than driving. But that just does not rise to the level of needing a law. That is a matter of common courtesy (or the lack thereof), and if it were socially unacceptable to do it, and we applied the same sort of peer pressure that we do when someone does something rude or thoughtless in public, then maybe people would do it less. They would never stop, of course, but we will always have rude people. Or people rich enough that rules don't, oddly enough, apply to them. Which, unsurprisingly enough, is another blog.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Driving in Texas

There are a few observations I have made in my years of driving in Texas that have led me to formulate personal rules that make driving easier and less stressful. Today is your lucky day because I am going to share one of them.

You are stuck behind a slow car or truck. And I don’t mean one that is driving the speed limit instead of the standard at-least-5mph-over (although this also applies in that circumstance). If you think that riding up close to the rear of the slow-moving vehicle will prompt a speed increase, you are mistaken. That more frequently results in an even worse slow-down.

The surest way to make that slow car speed up is to wait until the road widens and there are two lanes of traffic in each direction. As if by magic, as soon as there is a way for the slow automobile to be passed, it will speed up. And not just to the speed limit, but often to the standard at-least-5mph-over!

In rare cases, that will not, in and of itself, result in an increase in speed. If you change lanes and attempt to pass, though, that will often do it. Be aware, though, that if you commit to this course of action, you must act quickly to actually pass, as you will discover that your acceleration will be transferred somehow to the heretofore slow vehicle, and it will not only speed up to the speed limit, but will often exceed the speed limit enough to prevent your passing.

If you don’t really want to pass, but would just like to be going at least the speed limit, move up close behind the slow-moving car and make sure the car is aware of your proximity. Then just change to the next lane. No need to actually try to pass—just change lanes. (Sometimes you can just ease over toward the next lane as if you were going to change lanes and achieve the same result.) In most cases, the car will automatically increase speed, as if to keep you from passing. Do not pull back into your original lane too quickly, though, to insure that the (formerly slow-moving) car maintains its higher speed.

You will also need to be aware of the road ahead. If you know that it will drop back to a single lane of traffic in each direction, you have a decision to make. For as soon as there is only a single lane of traffic, the slow-moving vehicle will once again slow back down. It is as if there is a constricting energy field on two-lane roads that depletes the forward momentum of motor vehicles. If you are aware of this phenomenon, you can drive with a greater understanding of the road and the road conditions and compensate to counteract the energy field in order to maintain your rate of speed. Staying aware will make you a better driver.

Sadly, the majority of drivers divide their attention between piloting a ton-and-a-half of metal and plastic as it hurtles down the roadway at high speed and, say, whatever radio station they are listening to. Or a cell phone conversation.

But that’s another blog for another day.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Something New

Well, I started with a website attached to my Earthlink account (this was back in the dial-up access days) and kept it updated for the LONGEST time, but eventually I stopped updating it. What I did most of all was, in fact, a blog-type collection of commentaries on everyday life and the frustrations associated with same. I also posted some photos I took, but mainly I wrote commentaries. So now I will do the same, but in a blog format. With all new commentaries. Some of them might even be interesting, so feel free to check back occasionally.

I should warn everyone right now, though, that although I enjoy intelligent conversation and a free exchange of ideas, I abhor stupid people who thrive on uncivil discourse, so I won't even pretend to allow hateful, rude, or purposely divisive comments. I will delete them, or turn off comments, or ban users (if that is even a feature) without a second thought. If that is your thing, exercise your freedom of speech in your own blog.