Return of Yet More New Year’s Resolutions Again

In 2018, I resolve to:

1. Learn enough programming skills so that I can write a program that adds Oxford commas to text that lacks them due to the poor choices of the author.

2. Become an evangelist for a new style of exercise, Cross-Eyed Fit: You jump on boxes and overturn giant tires, all while staring at the end of your nose or making goofy facial expressions.

3. Go back and re-see all 200 birds on my life list, just to be sure.

4. Move my job into SecondLife, so I can compose large-print books while being an anthropomorphic wolf.

5. Lose weights. That’s right. Does anyone want an old cheap weight bench and weights? Free, but you must pick up.

6. Try to figure out at least one fandom whose source originated after Star Wars Episode 4. (Who ARE all these characters, anyway? Am I too old?)

7. Undergo hypnosis in an effort to forget the resolutions from last year.

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Top Three Accomplishments

On Christmas Eve, Adam J. Kurtz issued this tweet:
quote this tweet with your top 3 personal accomplishments of 2017 (you decide what counts)
I’ve read responses with interest, and finally today I followed suit. So here are my top 3 personal accomplishments of 2017:

1. Added the 200th species (for sure this time) to my birding life list.1

2. Saw the total eclipse of the sun.2

3. Completed my 32nd year at my employer (and started year 33).3

If I got to have more than three items, I would add: Attended and enjoyed the Hiawatha Music Festival, with a new tent; bought my first appliance, a dryer; and survived the craziness of 2017 without losing my mind.

1. I’ve been at around 200 species for years, but three of the birds were only checked off in my Peterson’s field guide with no further information, and they had no information on date, location, etc. in any other reecords I have. So I have to drop those and say I was at 199 until Black Friday of this year, when I saw the black-crowned night-herons at Belle Isle Park.

2. In a Kmart parking lot in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, with Dave. Totality was unbelievably amazing.

3. Yeah, I know. But it’s still something, in this day and age.

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Unpacking this year’s words that we are done with (or should be)

Lake Superior State University, in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, has released this year’s List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. Nothing I write will top this summary from the press release:

“We’ve drilled down and unpacked tons of pre-owned words and phrases deemed impactful by hundreds of nominators during 2017,” said an LSSU spokesperson. “Let that sink in.”

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This Is A Rant

I may regret posting this. YOU may regret reading this. This is not going to be uplifting.

Between all the unexpected deaths in the news and the presidential election campaign, 2016 was bad, so 2017 was starting from the bottom. Then it kept digging. I don’t see 2018 getting much better, either.

Everyone in not just social media but regular media commonly makes assertions and has no proof to back it up. Claims are outrageous on their face, but there’s so many outrageous things going on that I guess we’re just supposed to believe everything. Cabinet meetings start with palm leaves being laid at Trump’s feet, so we are told. The whole White House staff quakes in fear and leaders of other countries take special care so as to not offend the Great Trumpster, so we are told. There are never any substantiations beyond “Senior White House Officials” or even vaguer characterizations. We hear this stuff from just anyone, whether we should be hearing any of their opinions or not.

You have no idea why anyone is doing anything, what actual positives might accrue; supporters just spout boilerplate that has been shown to be just words, not results. Ask Paul Ryan what is supposed to replace the food stamp program they want to end; any answer would be something at this point, but he will likely not tell you anything besides “Something wonderful,” and the journalists will not ask anyway. Meanwhile, anyone with a position against anything goes right to the most dire conclusions. The opponents will go directly to accusing supporters of hating America or wanting to see children die. We can’t have any kind of discussion in this country. Too many decades of “sell the sizzle, not the steak,” perhaps.

All I see is, the Republicans are bound and determined to see the one black president’s accomplishments erased from the books. A journalist needs a macro that outputs “reverses an Obama administration policy” because that phrase comes up so often. That and slavish adoration of the 1950s, or the 1770s, as if those days were always right and the world has not moved an iota beyond. And the Republicans are in charge largely because they shout the loudest and are more willing to lean on fear and muscle. Meanwhile, the Democrats are unable to muster anything that they didn’t try in the 1970s, and they’ve truly refused to hold any Republican accountable since Bush sent Powell to lie to the United Nations about Iraq. Democrats barely defeat a religious troglodyte in Alabama who should’ve been imprisoned thirty years ago, and they count it as if they just elected FDR.

And we can’t have more than two choices in America, oh no. It’s either Coke or Pepsi, the Cowboys or the Patriots, GM or Ford, Republicans or Democrats. Gods forbid that an actual progressive party comes to some sort of notoriety. If we thought we had as much choice in politicians as we do in television programs, our heads might explode.

* * *

The worst of it is, the last two years should’ve shown all of us what a miserable society America has. If Trump, Pence, and the entire Congressional leadership disappeared tomorrow, we’d still be stuck with their millions and millions of supporters. Civil Rights movement? Hell, people are still fighting the goddamn Civil War in their heads and, increasingly, in their actions. Fascism and Nazis? Sure, what the hell, why not. We only, y’know, destroyed EUROPE in the 1940s to install and then remove Nazism. I guess those millions upon millions died in vain.

Don’t ask me how many friends who should know better are reporting that they’re tired of hearing about sexual misconduct cases. “They should’ve said something 30 years ago!” These friends (and many other) don’t understand that the women (and a few men) tried to speak up at the time, and the authorities not only did not listen, they often saw the victims as culpable in some way. I could explain, but a guy should not have to be the one to explain to a woman about how men don’t take women seriously.

Of course, I get the same reaction when I try to explain white privilege. Or why trans people matter. Or why just because America wants something, doesn’t mean it’s good for other nations in the world. Yeah, yeah … did you see that last episode of Game of Thrones?

* * *

I’m bitter. I know it. Maybe I should not be using this pulpit to put more bitterness into the world. But I can’t help it; I don’t have sunshine and light. I can make my little corner of my world look better, but I cannot bring back the woman killed in Charlottesville this year or help heal the communities in metro St. Louis in their turmoil; I can’t make the Republican Party in Congress stop acting like thugs intent only on serving their wealthy donors. I’ve never been able to persuade. I doubt I’ll ever learn how at this age. Not only that, I doubt anyone is willing to listen.

So if you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged much in 2017, the foregoing is pretty much why. Sorry.

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Line in the sand

I may have been a faithless blogger here, but I’ve been pretty faithful to Twitter for the last few years. I feel I should apologize for that because of all the others who also left long-form blog sites for Twitter and Facebook, but you’re probably not looking for that. I’ve had a lot of fun on Twitter, and a lot of it has admittedly been frivolous so not worthy of a LiveJournal or WordPress missive.

But I’ve just about had it with all the bad actors on Twitter, the Nazis and other far-right instigators, oppressors of women and black people and other minorities, uncivil arguers, and others who’ve only seemed to grow in numbers and vehemence in the last few years. Sure, their opponents often reply in kind, just as vulgar and obscene in their word choices, but — that’s the way social media goes.

The worst of the bad actors, though, includes Twitter itself. I’ve read many accounts of individuals who, in trying to combat the bad guys on the verbal field of battle, are disciplined by Twitter’s enforcement staff and automated tools. What appears to happen is, the person who disagrees with a Nazi is mobbed by bots on the Nazi’s side, with multiple reports submitted to Twitter with the result that it’s the anti-Nazi who gets bounced from Twitter for a day or forever. At this point, the honchos at Twitter just shrug. They do nothing to the initiators, who live to spread their filth another day.

I’ve just about had it.
I posted that today. I enjoy Twitter a lot. It’s fun. I rarely use it to promote controversial viewpoints, though I’m sure people know where I stand on most things because some of my views seep in. So if Twitter was suddenly cut out of my life, I would miss it. But sacrifice is what makes a statement or action mean something. So if I’m not satisfied that Twitter is mending its ways, I’m quitting it.

They could go a long way by getting Donald Trump off the service, to be honest. But I just want to stop seeing people getting bounced for behavior less egregious than the haters and would-be destroyers of the society we think we have.

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… moment of silence …

Charles Bruce (Bruce Charles) Montney
Judy Cloutier Montney
Gertrude Strachan
Peter Cooper
Vern Davis
Rosemary Gilbert
Charles Sanderson
(David) Blair
Sean Fitzgerald
Heather Price
Anna Dougan
Owen Fite (Owain Phyfe)
Bill McGettigan
Donald Cloutier
Shirley Slaughter Cloutier Karns
Delores Hill
Tina Lewandowski
Daniel Majewski
Dennis Hull
Robert C. Thomas
Wilhelm Heine
Ernest R. “Butch” Cloutier, Jr.
Charlotte Cloutier Lewandowski

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Remember me?

Here’s a bullet-point sort of post to try to cover ground since the last time I posted, which I guess was mid-May? Of 2017, smartypants.

– Dave was here Memorial Day weekend, and we saw our last Detroit Symphony concert of the season, which included Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony, Faure’s Pavane, and a new violin concerto performed by James Ehnes. At the close of the Rachmaninov, not only was Dave bawling, but so were the two ladies seated in front of us, so we all stood for five minutes and had a good cry. It was so, so good.

– Five weeks later, Independance Day weekend, I went to visit Dave for his birthday.

– About two weeks later I went to the Hiawatha Music Festival in Marquette, and spend time with the Ott Lake Rambler, Mrs. Rambler, and what young Ramblers as are left in the house, along with other folkie/college friends. The OLR and I grabbed a few minutes after a storm went through to play three fiddle tunes for his video cam, and they’re on YouTube here, here, and here. (It was a little cold, and our hands felt it.)

– Two weeks later, Dave needed a chaperone for a medical procedure, so I was back in Clarksville for that.

– And two weeks after THAT, Dave and I went to Goodlettsville, Tennessee to see the total eclipse of the sun. It was awesomely awesome. I thought I had a photo ready to go for this, but I don’t, plus my camera wasn’t up to the task anyway. Believe me when I say it was awesome, even from the parking lot of a Kmart which is where we were.

– But, the same weekend, his mother passed away at the age of 94, after about seventeen years in nursing facilites due to dementia.

– Somewhere in there, my blood test numbers fell off a cliff (only they went up not down) and I had to start taking insulin. The last three weeks have been spent trying to get doctors and pharmacies to give me the right prescriptions as we’re “titrating” the dosage. Short-term, that’s been a frustrating and depressing experience.

– Meanwhile, the rest of the world was … oh you don’t want me to write about that.

– I have over a thousand names in my family tree on now. Woo-hoo! I know, collecting names is not really the main point of genealogy, but it is kind of fun. Most of my roadblocks are still there, unfortunately.

So that’s the summary of a summer and then some. I’m hoping to be writing more regularly now. I doubt I’m going to write every day in November, as I’ve tried in the past few years, though.

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