The Dystopian States of America: A Bleak Future or a Warning Unheeded?

King Trump Surveying His Kingdom

In recent years, whispers of a dystopian future have permeated discussions about the United States. As the nation grapples with political polarization, technological advancements, and social upheavals, the prospect of the “Dystopian States of America” has become a topic of concern and speculation. This article aims to explore the factors contributing to this apprehension, examining the potential paths the nation may take and the warning signs that demand our attention.

Political Polarization

One of the key factors fueling the fear of a dystopian America is the deepening political polarization that has taken root in the country. Over the past few decades, the ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats has grown increasingly wide, hindering effective governance and fostering an atmosphere of mistrust.

In a dystopian scenario, this polarization could intensify, leading to a fractured society where citizens are pitted against each other based on their political affiliations. The erosion of democratic values and compromise may result in a political landscape dominated by authoritarian tendencies, where the rights of individuals are sacrificed for the sake of ideological purity.

Erosion of Civil Liberties

A dystopian America might witness a gradual erosion of civil liberties under the guise of maintaining order and security. In such a scenario, surveillance technologies could be employed to monitor citizens, stifling dissent and curbing freedom of expression. The right to privacy, a cornerstone of democratic societies, might be sacrificed in the name of national security, leading to a society where citizens feel constantly under scrutiny.

The use of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence and facial recognition, could further amplify the government’s control over its citizens. In this dystopian vision, individual autonomy is sacrificed for the illusion of collective safety, creating a society where personal freedoms are a distant memory.

Economic Inequality

Another critical aspect contributing to the dystopian narrative is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Economic inequality has been a persistent issue in the United States, and if left unaddressed, it could evolve into a dystopian reality where a small elite controls the majority of resources, leaving the rest of the population in poverty and desperation.

In a society where economic opportunities are concentrated in the hands of a privileged few, social unrest becomes inevitable. The disenchanted masses may revolt against a system that perpetuates inequality, potentially leading to a breakdown of social order and the rise of authoritarian measures to maintain control.

Climate Crisis

The looming climate crisis adds another layer to the dystopian narrative. As extreme weather events become more frequent and resource scarcity intensifies, the struggle for survival could exacerbate existing social, economic, and political tensions.

In a dystopian future, the effects of climate change may disproportionately impact marginalized communities, leading to mass migrations, resource wars, and increased geopolitical instability. The government’s response to these challenges could determine whether the nation steers towards resilience or descends into chaos.

Cultural Fragmentation

Cultural fragmentation, fueled by social media and echo chambers, is a significant concern in the context of a dystopian America. If citizens retreat into isolated bubbles of information, guided by algorithms that reinforce their existing beliefs, the fabric of societal cohesion may unravel.

A society divided along cultural lines may struggle to find common ground and build a collective identity. This fragmentation could open the door to manipulation by external forces or opportunistic leaders who exploit divisions for their gain, further eroding the foundations of a united and resilient nation.


While the concept of the Dystopian States of America may seem like a far-fetched and exaggerated notion, it is essential to recognize the warning signs embedded in the current socio-political landscape. The path the nation takes in the coming years will be shaped by the choices made today.

Addressing political polarization, safeguarding civil liberties, tackling economic inequality, mitigating the impact of climate change, and promoting cultural unity are crucial steps in steering the United States away from a dystopian future. By acknowledging these challenges and working collectively to overcome them, Americans can build a more resilient, just, and sustainable society for future generations. The choice between utopia and dystopia rests in the hands of the people, and only through informed and concerted efforts can the nation hope to avoid the ominous fate of the Dystopian States of America.






Cemeteries: Respites Between Heaven and Earth

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of responsibilities and activities. However, there are moments when we seek solace and contemplation, and one place that provides a unique blend of history, art, and reflection is a cemetery. Far from being just a final resting place for the departed, cemeteries offer a rich tapestry of stories, emotions, and a connection to the past.

As one steps through the wrought-iron gates of a cemetery, a palpable sense of tranquility envelops the surroundings. The hushed whispers of the wind through ancient trees, the soft crunch of gravel underfoot, and the distant cawing of crows create an atmosphere that encourages introspection. Rows of tombstones stand as silent sentinels, each one telling a tale of a life lived, complete with joys, sorrows, and the passage of time.

Walking along the well-trodden paths, one is immediately struck by the diversity of grave markers. Intricately carved headstones, weather-worn crosses, and simple plaques all bear witness to the varied ways in which individuals are remembered. Some graves are adorned with fresh flowers, while others are marked by the passage of time, with moss-covered stones and faded inscriptions. The juxtaposition of life and death becomes evident, a poignant reminder of the impermanence of existence.

Among the myriad graves, historical figures often find their eternal resting places. A stroll through the cemetery can become a lesson in local history, as the names etched in stone correspond to pioneers, leaders, and contributors to the community. Each grave becomes a chapter in the narrative of a town or city, offering a tangible link to the past. It is a humbling experience to stand before the resting place of those who have shaped the world we inhabit today.

Cemeteries also serve as outdoor art galleries, with sculptures and mausoleums reflecting the artistic styles of their respective eras. Elaborate statues and intricately designed tombs bear witness to the creativity and craftsmanship of the artists who sought to immortalize the departed. The play of light and shadow on these structures adds an ethereal quality to the surroundings, elevating the cemetery from a mere burial ground to a place of aesthetic contemplation.

Beyond the physical markers, the cemetery is a space for personal reflection. Visitors often find themselves pondering the brevity of life, contemplating their own mortality, and considering the impact they will leave on the world. The silence of the cemetery offers a respite from the noise of everyday life, allowing for a deeper connection with one’s thoughts and emotions.

In conclusion, a visit to a cemetery is a multi-faceted experience that goes beyond the mere acknowledgment of mortality. It is a journey through history, a contemplation of art, and an opportunity for personal reflection. Far from being a morbid or somber place, a cemetery is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of memory. So, the next time you find yourself seeking a moment of stillness and introspection, consider taking a stroll through the hallowed grounds of a cemetery—you may find a profound connection to the past and a renewed appreciation for the present.

View Cemetery Image Gallery



The Unprecedented Precedent of the Unprecedented: A Dive into Our Lexical Odyssey

Word aficionados and linguistic enthusiasts gather ’round for a tale that will undoubtedly leave you scratching your heads while nodding in weary recognition. It’s time to address the elephant in the room—or should I say, the “unprecedented” in the room? Yes, dear readers, brace yourselves for a rib-tickling journey through the labyrinth of overused vocabulary, with our spotlight on the reigning champion of the linguistic treadmill: “unprecedented.”

In a world where even the most mundane of occurrences is bestowed with the grand title of “unprecedented,” it’s time we step back and marvel at the sheer audacity of this word’s conquest. Have you noticed how the moment you open a newspaper, turn on the TV, or scroll through your social media feed, you’re confronted with a barrage of events described as, you guessed it, unprecedented? It’s as if the lexicon has been infected by a virus that only recognizes this solitary adjective.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane—oh, wait, there’s a detour ahead. Don’t worry, it’s just an unprecedented diversion. But back to the journey. Remember when you were a kid, and your dog chasing its tail was a monumental event? Now, even dogs are chasing their tails in unprecedented ways. It’s like they’re auditioning for some canine version of Cirque du Soleil, breaking records with spins that would make your head spin.

But what truly makes this the age of the “unprecedented” is how the word has seamlessly infiltrated every crevice of our lives. Your morning coffee has an unprecedented level of caffeine. Your daily commute is an unprecedented test of your patience. Your lunchtime sandwich is an unprecedented culinary masterpiece. In fact, if you’re not experiencing something unprecedented on an hourly basis, you might as well be living in a parallel universe.

The overuse of “unprecedented” has become so ubiquitous that it’s a wonder we haven’t had a global shortage of the word. It’s time to bring back balance to our linguistic ecosystem. Picture this: a world where things are simply “ordinary,” “run-of-the-mill,” or even “just another Tuesday.” It’s a world where words like “typical,” “expected,” and “predictable” regain their lost glory.

Furthermore, the misuse of this word has led to some truly questionable situations. Imagine a group of time travelers visiting us from a future where actual unprecedented events occur regularly—alien invasions, unicorn parades, politicians who keep their promises. They’d be baffled by our misuse of “unprecedented,” chuckling at our astonishment over things that are simply routine for them. “Oh, you guys think a solar eclipse is unprecedented? Bless your hearts!”

Of course, it’s not just the “unprecedented” label that’s been thrown around like confetti at a wordy party. We’ve seen its cousins—its linguistic kinfolk, if you will—join the fray. “Historic,” “game-changing,” “earth-shattering”—these words have been lining up at the proverbial thesaurus soup kitchen, waiting their turn to bask in the spotlight. But let’s not forget that “unprecedented” is the head honcho here, the alpha and omega of our lexicon’s current obsessions.

In our quest to outdo each other in shock and awe, we’ve forgotten the rich tapestry of language at our disposal. We’ve neglected the subtle nuances of communication that words like “unique,” “singular,” and “exceptional” can provide. It’s time we give these unsung heroes a chance to shine. Instead of a string of adjectives that end with “ed,” let’s embrace the beauty of a varied vocabulary that paints a more vivid picture of our experiences.

In conclusion, dear readers, let’s embark on a journey to reclaim the richness of our language. Let’s reserve the term “unprecedented” for those moments that genuinely defy expectations, that are so shockingly amazing that even the time travelers from the future would raise an eyebrow. It’s time to retire the “unprecedented” cliché and welcome back its neglected linguistic companions. Until then, let’s make a pact to raise our eyebrows with genuine surprise, not just because someone’s dog managed to turn around three times instead of two.

What’s prompting the mass migration to Portugal?

When Donald Trump became president, I swore I would never live through another term in the United States if he was re-elected. I began to search the world for a better place to live than the good ole US of A — which, IMHO, wasn’t such a good place to live anymore.

The ugliness of our politics that has split families and friends in two, the red and blue robes of the Supreme Court, the rise of anarchy, bigotry, and blatant civil disobedience after Covid — all of this and more has led to tense living conditions in nearly all parts of the country. My physical and mental health was suffering. I knew there must be something better. I knew I had to leave the United States.

My first inclination was to apply for a Polish passport since all of my grandparents were from Poland and I could prove ancestry —- until I couldn’t. Because my grandparents emigrated to the United States prior to 1920, the year Poland officially became a country, there was no proof of Polish citizenship. In fact, I discovered that one of my grandparents was born in Austria and another in Russia, parts of Poland that were in control of those respective countries. So much for a Polish passport.

Due to an aversion to heat, I knew I couldn’t tolerate Mexico, Costa Rica or any place remotely tropical. I would have especially loved Canada but it was even more expensive than Portland. As I set my sights on countries that I loved to travel — Italy and France to name two — I discovered that EU countries don’t particularly want emigrants and make it very difficult to live there unless you are employed or can much improve their economy by starting a business. Of course, you can always buy your way into some of these countries at a cost exceeding $500,000 — a little out of my price range.

As my search for a retiree-friendly country — not too hot, not too cold — continued, Portugal kept popping up on my radar. Of course, the Brits have been enjoying the Mediterranean climate of the Algarve in southern Portugal for over 100 years now, but the rest of Portugal had lain dormant to the outside world until this sleeping bear awoke one day to discover its population in steep decline. The Portuguese government set out to change that and began welcoming emigrants, including retirees, to its shores.

When Portugal threw its doors open with visas of every stripe and a cost of living that was affordable to all but a very few, it was like a tsunami. East coast and west coast Americans, Canadians, Australians — even the Germans and the French — saw this as a golden opportunity to make their dollars/Euros stretch further than they ever thought possible. Airbnb’s started popping up in cities and rural communities alike all over Portugal. The country was/is on the verge of being gentrified.

The ease of emigration, compared to other EU countries, combined with a relatively low cost of living for many, compared to their home country, are what is attracting the masses to Portugal. It is what attracted me. The climate in the north of the country is similar to that of the Pacific Northwest from which I hail, so I’m not bothered by tropical temperatures. The cities are crowded with tourists, but the countryside is peaceful and gorgeous. The people are friendly and inviting — at least for now. Ex-pats are everywhere so making friends isn’t all that difficult. I’m sure things will look much different in ten years at the rate the country is trying to absorb immigrants, but for now, Portugal is a great alternative to living in the not-so-great-anymore USA.

You don’t need to have Covid in order to have brain fog…..

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted to this blog. The reason: brain fog. No, I haven’t had Covid. I quarantined for many months like everyone else. I got my vaccinations when available in March 2021. I wore a mask when I went grocery shopping. I did everything we were asked to do. So why do I have brain fog?

The simple answer (I think) is not doing much of anything. Months of solitude, no matter how many Zoom meetings I attended, Facebook posts I made, jigsaw puzzles I worked, new food dishes I tried, books I read, Internet rabbit holes I went down, the only time I could bring something enigmatic to mind was when I was supposed to be sleeping.

Laying awake at night when I couldn’t fall asleep, I could think of a thousand things to say, hundreds of mysteries to be solved, a bucket list to be proud of, but when I finally lifted my weary head off the pillow, my mind was a blank.

Mental machinations at night are just not the same as having an active mind during the day. The mind needs to be challenged. Even though everything I did during the day could be considered a learning experience, there is a difference between absorbing knowledge and having to think on your feet in something as simple as a conversation with friends.

Interpersonal relationships, I discovered, are what keep the mind sharp. A large part of a child’s development is having those interpersonal relationships which is why parents are so adamant about having their children back in school. I only needed to isolate myself for this past year to understand that. Interactions with other people, with what they say and what they do, are what challenge the mind and keep it sharp. They force one to think on their feet, to react at a moment’s notice, to make life and death decisions. Reading books or surfing the Internet fills a mind with information, but without a way to use it, the mind dies a slow death.

As I again find myself visiting with friends, volunteering, meeting and conversing with other people, I find my brain springing back to life. It’s not nearly where it was pre-Covid, but it’s a lot better than it’s been for the past year and a half. As proof, I was finally able to sit down and type out a blog post. I finally had something to say that will hopefully help others if they start to experience brain fog without having Covid.


The unspeakable problem on the tip of everyone’s tongue –
what everyone is thinking but no one is saying.

There is an elephant in the room. It is ever-present in any discussion about the homeless crisis in cities across the country, but nobody want to talk about it except in politically correct terms.

So just what is the elephant in the room. It is the face of homelessnessthe tents and tent cities that are seemingly everywhere – everywhere except the wealthiest neighborhoods in any city, well-off communities and the enterprise zones that can afford to keep them out of sight.

The recent pandemic has served to bring the full force of homelessness into view. Many of the churches and other do-gooders that served food to the homeless around the city, have shut down. The campers have moved en masse to the only locations that still provide food service. In San Francisco, CA it is The Tenderloin. In Portland, OR it is Old Town.  Chaos and lawlessness rule. Garbage is everywhere.  Drug dealing is endemic. Local residents are fearful of walking their neighborhood day or night afraid of being attacked.

Let’s address the elephant in the room.

When the public asks its government to do something about the homeless situation in their community, what they are really saying is, “Please get rid of all those tents.” It’s not that they don’t have empathy for a lot of the homeless, they just don’t want it shoved in their faces.

They are afraid of the homeless. Poverty is associated with crime. That is a fact, and most people feel the homeless are the source of much of the petty crime in their neighborhoods. They may be right, and we may never know because petty criminals are rarely abducted and almost never prosecuted. In addition, drug dealing is pandemic among the homeless which only exacerbates the homeless condition. Tents are the face of poverty and crime.

The tents are a blight on any neighborhood. Walk through almost any tent camp and you’ll see needles, garbage, defecation and deplorable living conditions. The inhabitants of these tents are a diverse group, from people employed that can’t afford the rent in their city, to drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill who are both unemployable and unhouseable in their present state, and everybody in between. Homelessness is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Tents are the face of ugliness and revulsion.

Tent camps on city sidewalks is a reminder that the law works for some but not for others. It is an affront to tax payers that feel their rights have been violated by allowing the lawless behavior and depriving them of free and unobstructed access to an amenity that they pay for. Tents are the face of a broken and unaccountable government.

Who are the tent campers?

Just who are the campers? They are a diverse group whose only commonalities are that they are homeless and they all have a will to survive. I reject the use of the term “vulnerable population.” In fact, some are but many are not. Their reasons for being homeless are as varied as the group itself.

Campers easily discover food and shelter. Social services that provide these amenities are in abundance. The knowledgeable camper knows where to get breakfast, lunch and supper. Starvation is not an issue. Tents are passed out just as freely. They have grown into status symbols among the campers. Some are easily ported in a backpack. Others are mega structures designed for long-term stays.

Tent cities have become commonplace. The demographics of these communities are not unlike the housed population. Self-segregation is typical. The tribal instinct is not lost among campers. Blacks want to be with blacks, Hispanics with Hispanics, LGBTQ’s with other LGBTQ’s, families with families, women with other women, animal lovers with animal lovers, etc.

Although homelessness isn’t a crime (unless, of course, if you’re pitching a tent on the sidewalk), why is it that the larger the camps the higher the crime rate. Burglaries, assaults, vandalism all increase as the number of campers increase.

Is it fair to paint all campers with the same brush? Of course, it isn’t. As the old saying goes, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” For this reason alone, it is necessary to find an immediate solution to the campers on our sidewalks.

What can be done about the campers in Portland?

First of all, there is a law against tent camping:

14A.50.050 Erecting Permanent or Temporary Structures on Public Property or Public Rights of Way.

A.  It shall be unlawful to erect, install, place, leave, or set up any type of permanent or temporary fixture or structure of any material(s) in or upon non-park public property or public right-of -way without a permit or other authorization from the City.

B. In addition to other remedies provided by law, such an obstruction is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. The City Engineer, City Traffic Engineer, or Chief of Police may summarily abate any such obstruction, or the obstruction may be abated as prescribed in Chapter 29.60 of this Code.

C.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to merchandise in the course of lawful receipt or delivery, unless that merchandise remains upon the public right of way for a period longer than 2 hours, whereupon the provisions of this Section apply.

D.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to depositing material in public right-of-way for less than 2 hours, unless the material is deposited with the intent to interfere with free passage or to block or attempt to block or interfere with any persons(s) using the right-of-way.

This does not mean that someone cannot cuddle up in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk and take a long nap. Sitting or lying on the sidewalk is still permitted. Placing a tent or cardboard structure over the sleeping bag is not.

What doesn’t work.

Portland’s solution to campers have been the sweeps – posting 24 to 48-hour notice to campers that their tents and possessions will be removed if they do not vacate the premises. This has resulted in nothing more than a revolving door. Within days after a sweep, sites are usually replete with campers again. It is not a solution. It is an appeasement to the housed community.

The housed community, however, wants a more permanent solution that addresses the many problems with camping and campers. While building affordable and supportive housing to solve the problem is admirable, the exorbitant cost of housing ($300,000-400,000 per unit) will only provide a roof over someone’s head for a small fraction of the estimated 15,000 homeless in the Portland area. In the meantime, more and more people are becoming homeless. Housing is a very long-term solution, but it does nothing to address the problem today.

Realizing that a tent is a shelter and much preferred by most homeless over mass, impersonal indoor shelters (unless it’s a hotel room), providing space for campers to put up their tents and keep their possessions without fear of being swept, is a short-term yet humane solution to this growing problem. It is also an infinitely less expensive solution in so many ways that it cannot be ignored any longer.

Many neighborhoods are finally realizing that homelessness and campers are growing and not going away anytime soon. They are now willing to be part of the solution rather than just complaining about it.  They look to three successful self-governed camps – Dignity Village, Right 2 Dream 2 and Kenton Women’s Village.

Portland’s Old Town is the epicenter of homelessness and it spreads throughout the city like a plague. Clean up Old Town by spreading campers and services throughout the city, and the crisis becomes much more manageable.

What will work.

The City of Portland should set up and manage sanctioned campgrounds throughout the city. It is also time that other cities, the Counties and the State do the same thing. Between cities, counties and the State, along with the private sector and non-property tax paying entities, there is enough vacant land available to provide campsites for every camper.

By containing campers, it would then be possible to provide sanitation facilities instead of allowing them to defecate and urinate on the sidewalks. Portable showers and laundry facilities could be rotated between campgrounds. Food could be brought to the campers. After all, Meals on Wheels delivers 4500 meals a day to seniors, so there is no excuse. Social services could mobilize. Even though they don’t like the idea and fight against it, mobilization should be made a criteria for continued funding. Campgrounds could be segregated or not.

Any lame excuse to say this can’t be done, no longer has an audience. Recently three COVID-19 camps were made ready in a matter of weeks with all the facilities aforementioned. It was a priority. The same priority should be applied to campers in general. Taxpayers are losing patience with the response to the homeless crisis because they see the situation getting worse, not better.

For less than the cost of a single affordable housing unit, the City can say that they have control of the homeless crisis and can work its way towards the long-term solution of a home for everyone.

Whose right is it anyway?

Since the death of George Floyd, our country’s cities have been besieged by protesters both peaceful and violent. Thousands of peaceful protesters have walked arm in arm on city streets, highways and bridges to bring attention to their cause – Black Lives Matter. They are not quiet and should not be. Social injustice is pervasive in America no matter how many laws have been passed to eradicate it. It is the single most blatant failure of the great American experiment.

Hundreds of violent protesters who burn, loot, vandalize and otherwise create chaos are the bad apple that spoils the bunch and police are loath to stop it. After all, police brutality is what started this chain of events. Violent protesters are using the shield of legitimate protesters to wield their brand of destruction and there isn’t a black face among them. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are criminals getting away with breaking the law. They cower behind what every American thinks is the bulwark of our democracy – the United States Constitution.

First Amendment rights under the Constitution have been given such broad definitions that many rights we hold dear are in jeopardy. Our right to public safety is at risk because the police are afraid to use force against these mobs. Violent protesters are using their free speech right which now seems to include throwing Molotov cocktails at police, breaking down fences designed to protect property, vandalizing property, tossing bricks, stones and other lethal projectiles just to antagonize as a means to who knows what end. We used to call this kind of activity riots. Today it is violent protests protected under the banner of free speech.  I doubt that our founding fathers ever intended free speech to go this far.

The right to life is in jeopardy when free speech consisting of untruths, insults, fake news and worse can result in someone’s ruined reputation or worse. The right to liberty is in jeopardy when federal storm troopers invade our streets on the premise of protecting public property and arbitrarily detain anyone that dares question their actions. Our right to the pursuit of happiness is in jeopardy when Republicans allow our democracy to devolve executive order by executive order into a white supremacist autocracy. Even our right to free speech is in jeopardy when it is given absurdly to an entity, a corporation that can only speak with money. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Money talks.”

As the current administration continues to chip away little by little at the Constitution, either legally or illegally, we run the risk of losing our democracy and the rights which we, as American citizens, enjoy today. Abetted by a Justice Department that seeks to give more and more power to an illegitimate president – a president that was elected not of the people, by the people and for the people, but by an outmoded process that ignores the premise of majority rule — our rights may no longer be our rights much longer.

Democracy is not a thing to be taken for granted. How quickly we forget lessons from the past. Despots so easily undermine democracies when the people become complacent and turn a blind eye to obvious wrongs, to administrations/regimes that fail to be accountable to their constituencies and to the gross societal inequities such power produces over time. Rights given can just as easily be taken away.  Our single most important inalienable right is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Russia Is Responsible For Trump’s Win

putin helped trump win electionNo matter how many people say that Russia’s email hacks did not influence the outcome of our election, it simply isn’t true. Those hacks and subsequent weaponization of them is the only reason we are confronted with the scariest president-elect in our history. I would even go so far as to say that Donald Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin to throw the election his way. Trump’s ego is too big not to have wanted to win, and now he is indebted to Putin.

It’s doubtful the polls had it wrong on election day. I believe that Hillary Clinton was leading in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota which ultimately gave Trump the electoral votes to win the election. Instead, Russia calculated the fragile mood of voters in those states and allowed the Trump political machine to target them with last minute fake news  and vitriolic rhetoric attacks on Hillary Clinton thereby triggering a change of vote by only a few thousand disgruntled, ignorant and uninformed voters to cast their vote for what promises to be the most detrimental administration ever to occupy the office of president.

And who is sitting in the wings licking his chops over this injustice to the American people? None other than Vladimir Putin. Not only will he have a pro-Russian president at his disposal but a cabinet full of pro-Russian hacks who clearly have more to gain by an alliance with Russia than not.

Rex Tillerson, recent ex-CEO of ExxonMobil and Secretary of State appointee, is a case in point. With a $500 billion Exxon oil deal sitting on the back burner due to U.S. sanctions, a pro-Russian government and Tillerson himself would no doubt have those sanctions lifted allowing the deal to move forward benefiting who exactly –certainly not the United States but definitely ExxonMobil and by association Rex Tillerson.

Yet another scary prospect concerns NATO. A pompous Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of our long-term European alliance while Putin sits with tanks and troops on the borders of previous Soviet satellite countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania waiting for the moment he can attack with impunity and bring back under Russian control.

Putin needs the United States, but we don’t need him or Russia. The Russian economy is virtually non-existent. Military production is the only thing keeping it afloat. All Putin needs is an excuse to use his military might, and America’s withdrawal or even its reduced support of NATO would offer Putin just that. Let us not forget the Crimea incident. Do you think a pro-Russian government with a disdain of NATO would retaliate?

Russia simply has too much to lose not to have a pro-Russian American government. Putin is much smarter than Donald Trump. He is a devious, calculating, sociopath who will go to any length no matter how dangerous to get what he wants.  He is a far greater threat than Trump can even think of being unless you consider Trump’s threat to his own country. Trump’s danger is his complete ignorance of world affairs other than for his own personal “brand.” He, too, is a sociopath in a less evil way.

So it made sense for Putin to influence the election. Hillary Clinton would not have furthered his agenda. There was much planning and calculation that went into his covert operation to get Donal Trump elected president. If the CIA, FBI and NSA dig deep enough, I’m confident they will find it and discover too late that Russia is responsible for Trump’s win.

Growing Old Is Not For The Faint of Heart

growing-old-is-not-for-the-faint-of-heartAs I sat waiting for the eye doctor to see me up at Casey Eye Clinic today, I couldn’t help but ponder the aging process. I was there because of a severe case of chronic dry eye disease which many people suffer from as they age, women more than men.  I determined that growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Thinking of myself, my friends and my family who are all about the same age, those still with me and those that have passed, I began to think of the multitude of afflictions that they have had to contend with — afflictions that would certainly make lesser people whine and complain, but which everyone has suffered with grace and dignity.  Cataracts, arthritis, hip and knee replacements, painful falls, and so many other age-related problems are just another day on the ranch for the aging.

Nobody wants to admit to getting older. We go along merrily feeling pretty good after we begin collecting social security. Then one day there’s a pain we never felt before. Pretty soon there are more aches and pains and a few trips to the doctor. Then you start turning up the volume on the TV set and during a conversation you constantly ask someone to repeat what they just said. Little by little the signs of old age creep into our lives like it or not. We begin to start worrying if our heart will stop beating during the night, and if it doesn’t, we wonder what ailment will befall us when we do get out of bed.

For someone that never went to a doctor, never had even a toothache, the ever more frequent trips for medical attention are a clear indication that I’m not as young as I used to be. But somehow, I still can’t admit to getting old. After all, my mind is still only 40 — not younger, not older. Forty was a very good age.  Yet, with every ache and pain I feel somewhere on a daily basis, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I’m not growing old. All I have to do is look in the mirror, and that’s enough to scare me back into reality.

You may find that old people talk a lot about their afflictions. They aren’t complaining. It’s just that there are so many of them that it dominates a conversation when you ask, “How are you?” They are discussed very matter-of-factly like going to the grocery store. After all, aging — warts and all — is a simple fact of life. It doesn’t really help to complain. We have to take it in stride no matter how much it hurts.

Birthdays are such fun.

With a birthday that falls on or around Thanksgiving every years, I have never lacked for bag-n-baggage theatersomething to do. Typically, I am with family and/or friends as I was again this year. It happened that the Bag-n-Baggage  Christmas production of “Parfumerie” opened at the Venetian Theater on my birthday. My sister and I have been enjoying this acting company’s performances for over four years now, and they rarely disappoint. At first we had doubts about this particular play. The first hour was a bit of a drag, but it redeemed itself during the last hour. We were glad we didn’t leave in mid-performance.

The Venetian is an old movie theater that has been lovingly restored to include a fine restaurant open for lunch, happy hour and dinner.  Conveniently, the plays end just about the time happy hour begins.  Their happy hour is particularly good with more than just the usual $5 burger and fries. Two items – fried green beans and pickles and a killer hot artichoke-bleu cheese dip – are mainstays at each of our outings there. Drinks are cheap and poured without skimping.

This is where I spent my 73rd birthday and a wonderful day it was made more so by all of the birthday wishes I received from friends and family on Facebook. Having come late to the FB venue, I had no idea how important it would become to me. Did you know that the average age of a FB user in the U.S. is 40.5. There aren’t too many people my age using it, but I adopted technology long before many other people did. Of course, it has left me in the dust, but I can still manage FB. There is something warm and fuzzy about it. Friends old and new are never very far away. Children and grandchildren are particularly easy to keep track of.  It’s also hard to get lonely with all my “friends” on FB almost at my beck and call.

Still have some celebrating left to do – happy hour friends that I have not yet connected with. I can drag a birthday party out for weeks. I used to drag it out for months some 40 years ago. Now I settle for weeks. I also have a full line-up of movies scheduled that will entertain me at the drop of a hat or on $5 Tuesday, whichever comes first.

Yes, birthdays are such fun. I’m looking forward to many, many more.