Thankful Journal Entry of a Florida Evacuee

September 2017

Hurricane Watch and Warning

I’m a native Floridian. It’s never occurred to me to evacuate from Florida for a hurricane. Being a Palm Beach County resident for most of my life it seemed that any time we had storm heading our way, it would inevitably turn away from us just in time. A direct hit from a tropical monster was always someone else’s problem. That was until early last week when Hurricane Irma became a category 5 at 185 mph out in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of us.

Suddenly it seems that living with 90-year-old grandparents and having three children under the age of 10 can change one’s perspective when it comes to the idea of evacuating due to a dangerous storm heading in your direction. From early last week my head began to buzz with the possibilities of major structural damage to an unknown amount of time spent in the sub-tropical heat and humidity without electricity—south Florida is uninhabitable in the summer months without air-conditioning in most homes today. That coupled with the mass hysteria that ensued locally with water and gasoline shortages helped me make a joint decision with my husband to leave Florida destined for the Chattanooga area of Tennessee.

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Pack? Bags Thrown Together

 The full moon had just come into view on Wednesday, September 6th and most of the gas stations along our major road had bags on the nozzles or a limitation on how many gallons you could pump. I went out to Costco to gather some more water for family and realized as I was driving around that my heart was not into “hunkering down” for the storm.

Our weather had been stifling on a daily basis and the idea of going without electricity for even only a couple of days was not appealing. Hurricane Matthew just over a year ago had skirted our area and yet I can still remember the way the older windows shook in the house.

I called my husband and asked him to pack a bag for our three children and myself. Funny enough, important papers were an afterthought as I had them in a small fireproof safe. What became paramount was getting out of the area as soon as possible. Upon returning home that evening I threw together a toiletries bag and a box full of school books and my address book.

My only regret is I wish I had left immediately as I had made the choice to do so that very evening.

Longest Peninsula Drive EVER

 My recollection is obviously a repeat of the countless media reports during late last week. As I heard and later read, ours was a Florida evacuation to go down in the record books for the largest amount of people leaving the state because of Hurricane Irma’s determined approach.

After reaching Orlando in 6 hours (normally a trip that took just under 2 hours from my area) I knew that we were in for a horrendous time to get out of the state. I glanced at my phone for a moment to see a friend texting me that we were welcome to evacuate at her sister’s house in Brooksville, Florida “if the drive gets to be too much”. Understatement, “too much”. Still, thanks to #Florida Governor Rick Scott for waiving Florida Turnpike fees and #Florida Highway Patrol for helping us along the way.

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Emotions? Tons of them. Most of Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms reverberated with similar thought streams. Some were paralyzed to leave, others grabbed flights out ASAP, still others like myself risked being stranded on the roads rather than wait in the forecasted path of a storm—Floridians and adopted Floridians alike had the same fears and were all reacting in our respective ways. Family and friends we may have not heard from in years were reaching out to ask what our plan of action was. Pretend Hurricane Irma is not happening? American or European model? Which doomsday track was worse for our area? In the end, the storm’s sheer physical size demanded our attention.

The scene along the Florida turnpike was surreal at times. Folks randomly pulled off the side of the highway to relieve themselves or their pets. Some people camped out in the back of their vehicle with their cigarettes after a particularly bad congestion area. I saw vans loaded with gas cans on top. We saw lines for a couple of miles leading up to rest areas. My eyes burned with tears as I looked at the forests we passed by, imagining downed trees or worse, flattened areas should the hurricane hit at a full category 5 strength. Sometimes the slower we went on the highway, the more restless I was to get out of the state.

The children and I had left home around 7am and it was now just after 7pm and I realized that a diet of pretzels and applesauce was not going to end well so I better just stop at Lake City, Florida as much as I wanted to exit Florida first. At the very least I was now north of my Alma Mater’s town of Gainesville.

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#Chick-fil-A, Lake City, Florida

 As I pulled off of Interstate 75, probably going faster in the exit ramp than I had for the past 90 minutes in our 25+ mph crawl, I noticed Chick-fil-A on the right hand side of the road. It was slammed.

Somehow, there was an open parking spot right in front of the entrance that was NOT reserved for the handicapped. As any anxious parent traveling alone knows, this was a golden moment not to be taken for granted.

As I unloaded the kids, my two oldest went in together immediately to go to the bathroom. It suddenly occurred to me what rock stars these sons had been to not have asked to use the restroom until literally the last hour of our 12-hour trip thus far. My youngest had a diaper to assist but this would create a rash of a problem for the next couple of days—literally.

The scene inside of the Chick-fil-A was hectic at best and claustrophobic at worst. Yet I was pleasantly struck with one consistent characteristic of this particular restaurant with its iconic red emblem and fried chicken aroma. Their staff was incredibly attentive, concise and a few were moving quickly in and out of the dining area serving its customers food/drinks and attending to any requests.

My body was stiff and still shaking from the drive. Hunger was an after-effect that was swiftly depleting my body and fueling a very painful migraine. The Chick-fil-A staff here in Lake City impressed me so much in that moment of recognition that I had to call one of the young ladies by her nametag and asked to give her a hug to thank her for taking care of all of us.

I met other parents near the play area who like me let our kids in there and didn’t care that they were moving about like pinballs in all sorts of directions—we all had similar stories of leaving Florida to get out of the way of a possibility that was not worth us staying for to see its conclusion. For us that had the means to leave we knew it was a blessing to do so and our prayers were with others who were staying either by choice or by inability.

Thank you #Chick-fil-A in Lake City, Florida. You made our evacuation easier with your kindness and sustaining food!

#Go Fish Education Center, Perry, Georgia

 My stopover late Thursday night/early Friday morning was Warner Robbins, Georgia. As I cruised into town after a 30mph stint on the interstate, I made the choice that I would drive by night the next leg up to Chattanooga-Signal Mountain, Tennessee where my final destination awaited. I fueled up before I stopped at our family friend’s home and shivered in the 30-degree drop along with several other Floridians who like me were at the very least relieved to be finally north of the border.

Friday, September 8th. I was so grateful for the way the children had traveled the day before that it was important to me to take them out for a treat and to help tire them to sleep well during my night drive. Go Fish Education Center had been a memorable hit a couple years ago so we decided to try it out again.

Upon entering the parking lot at Go Fish I ran into a family from Tampa who was also evacuating and was taking a break from the highway. They reported that the place was fun for their three kids; we swapped stories and wished each other well on our respective evacuation routes.

Once we got inside to the reception area the lady at the desk asked if we were evacuees and once we confirmed were told that the entry fee was waived. I was at a loss for words but most grateful. We spent the next couple of hours meeting other small families traveling with young children and had fun catching fish both virtual and real outside in their catch and release pond.

While there we also got to witness the staff at Go Fish rehearsing a practice electricity loss in preparation for the possible effects from Hurricane Irma. A sobering reminder of one of the many reasons most of us present were leaving our homes in Florida.

#Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia, thanks for helping so many of us Florida parents and guardians of children take a break from a tiresome evacuation by road. Your gracious act of waiving the entry fee meant so much to us.

Run for the Hills, Run for the Mountains

 It was about 2am Saturday, September 9th when I left Atlanta area proper, I had already been on the road for a couple hours averaging 20-40 mph and was so happy to be hitting 65-70 mph now nonstop. Very thankful to #GDOT for waiving the fees to the PeachPass express lanes so that Floridians could get through the area quicker.

I felt my Ford Expedition’s engine rev as I began to climb what seemed to be small hills and now were turning into small mountains. As I entered the Chattanooga area, my heart finally relaxed knowing that I was close to my goal of reaching family on Signal Mountain safely. It was just after 4 am as I drove up the mountain itself, parked our vehicle and took my sleeping children into a cozy and welcoming home. The evacuated grandparents were also securely asleep in the same house. I laid down to rest and felt that we were safely “home” again.

*It goes without saying how grateful I am to our family who sheltered us and others during this storm.

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#Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee

After a couple of days recuperating from the drive and enjoying some beautiful mountain trails, I ventured down with a good friend and her son with my children to Chattanooga. The Creative Discovery Museum has always been a hit with my children in past trips and since the rain was moving from the effects of Hurricane Irma, we figured this was a great way to spend the day.

Of course everyone in the area had a similar idea as we walked into a bustling museum full of adults gathered in groups along walls and benches while children of all ages darted in and out of the various areas. To describe the interior experience as a “swarm” would be too gentle of a word.

However, the tone was immediately set when we approached the registration desk and we were asked if we were evacuating from Hurricane Irma. After confirming this the lady checking us in let us know they were giving all evacuees a 50% off the admission rate for the day. As a mother of three children, any and every discount helps–including during a stressful, unplanned and unbudgeted trip!

Thank you #Creative Discovery Museum of Chattanooga, Tennessee for not only welcoming an enormous amount of people on a rainy Monday but also giving all Hurricane Irma evacuees a discount to give our children an educational and interactive experience after exhausting travel.

#Tennessee Aquarium One Broad Street

It’s been nearly a week since I evacuated with my children and slowly evacuees were starting to leave the area, including our fellow houseguests. Social media and texts were flooding in telling me about how difficult the roads were, gas shortages and overall troubles getting back into much of south Florida.

I decided that it was time to take a field trip for a day again and made the Tennessee Aquarium our destination—it’s iconic geometrical shape can easily be seen by the highway. Although we were tired from the trip, the kids were happy to take advantage of the open spaces and long ramps to take in some beautiful sights of salt and fresh water wildlife contained and in some cases protected within their walls.

Upon registering I was asked if we were in from Hurricane Irma. Again I confirmed this and was told discreetly that they were offering us all a 50% discount. They didn’t want it widely advertised but I must apologize for going ahead and sharing that they did this for us and other families that day. Once again, I cannot stress enough how appreciative we are for such kindnesses especially when on the road with children and during inclement weather conditions. Floridians are NOT used to 50 degree and rainy weather in early September, period.

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#Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga, thanks for your hospitality, a taste of home in some of your exhibits and overall a fun experience and escape along with some extra cash so we could get some treats in your gift shop!

Epilogue: Power and Gas Dependents Are We?

 As I gather our belongings and prepare for the journey back to Florida, I’ve been reflecting on how dependent we all are on electricity and commodities such as gasoline fuel for our vehicles.

Although we joke that people apparently get really thirsty before a hurricane’s approach and start depleting local stores of water bottles, it is a true concern to lose electric power, cable, internet and phone services. That rectangular disk in your hand that you may be reading my writing with is something that you don’t like to lose use of in the end. Many would rather go without air conditioning than lose usage of their smart phones.

I will admit that this evacuation trip was a pleasant surprise in the amount of personal attention by people that renders any smartphone app irrelevant. It turns out we haven’t evolved to a place where human interaction is meaningless even if we seem to be impersonal at times with these devices constantly in our hands.

This experience for millions of Floridians may have reminded us that more than any federal funding or even a Red Cross campaign—it is the person-to-person relations that have helped us prepare and now recover in the wake of a natural disaster together.

Thank you all who have helped victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year. We pray and hope to be spared any other storms in this 2017 season.

RVSB+

 

 

 

 

Why Wonder Woman Works

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Why Wonder Woman Works: An Orthodox Christian Perspective Short

***Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched this film out in the theatres yet, I would caution you to bookmark this page and come back after you’ve had the opportunity to watch it.***

Self-Professed Skeptic 

I will readily admit that when I first heard about this film coming out that I initially balked at the idea of watching it.   Personally I’m not into DC or Marvel Comics in general when they’ve been put on the big screen. The idea of taking a fantasy story from 2-D paper and throwing it into a non-stop series of amped-up translations in the movie theatres for the masses to consume in order to escape the perceived monotony of their daily existence is not appealing.

Although I love the idea of strong women being portrayed in a physical manner, I prefer something that is more tangible than merely through digital special effects.

Introduction of the Audience

What finally intrigued me enough to watch this film was a result of reading a commentary article shortly after the film’s premiere by Meredith Woerner of the Los Angeles Times entitled “Why I Cried Through the Fight Scenes in ‘Wonder Woman’.” Woerner brought up the fact that there have been countless super hero films starring men and that “Wonder Woman” has captured that female power that has been missing to complement all the Batmans, Ironmans and Supermans of the past several decades. Her comments also caught my attention because personally the idea of a power chick kicking butt in a battle scene didn’t conjure visions of me weeping. Perhaps this film was worth a try after all.

I recommend reading Ms. Woerner’s piece if you haven’t already: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-wonder-woman-crying-20170605-htmlstory.html

Quick Background on Your Blogging Author

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I am a first-generation Greek-American woman that has experienced first-hand many times over what it is to be a strong woman that has run into certain “complications”. My mother herself became a mother as a young teenager with me as her first-born. I witnessed many years of abuse inflicted on her and my mother’s eventual escape from a destructive marriage to the transforming and victorious journey of raising her three children alone as a single mother.

For myself as a busy student-athlete and teenager, it was a routine interaction for me with guys when I let them know that I couldn’t give them what they wanted—whether it was holding hands or having a date solo with me (aka no chaperones present or nearby). In fact, by the time I married my husband in the year 2000, I was still a virgin—at least until we completed our vows at the wedding ceremony, all bets were off afterwards of course!

Wonder Woman: The Setting

 This movie opens right away showing the amazing strength and flexibility of women on the mythical and hidden island of the Amazonians. If I had a favorite scene in this film it would definitely be the one that shows all the different women in their training with the young Wonder Woman (Diana) watching and mimicking in the background with fervor. I emphasize here that it was also liberating to see all sorts of body types and every woman in her own right truly beautiful in appearance and countenance.

The queen of the Amazonians is the mother of Diana and has taken care to protect her daughter from the reality of her destiny (again, spoiler alert): She was in fact a daughter of the Greek god Zeus and was created to have the ability to destroy the “fallen” god Ares (God of War). She was actually the “god-killer”, not the sword, nor the shield and such that were hidden in a tower on the paradise-like island. The details of this prophecy will all fall into place as the film’s story unfolds.

Female Power: A Possible Women’s Manifesto Reflected in “Wonder Woman” Opening Romantic Scenes

 It turns out that little Diana was instilled with a strong belief system by her mother that involved her being part of being against Ares: god of war.  The fighting spirit was inherent in her and although her mother wanted to protect her from this she eventually admitted that it was appropriate for Diana to learn how to defend herself.

Also, she was raised with a fully classical education that included books that detailed the various positions for sexual pleasure that finally concluded that although men were required for procreation, they were not needed for ultimate satisfaction.

In the film, the above information that Diana shares with the Chris Pine character known as Steve Trevor flabbergasts him. He is visually disturbed at this notion and refuses to believe it, in turn Diana literally turns away from him in their sleeping nook on the boat and does not follow the stereotypical habit of a woman deferring to the man’s opinion because he can’t change his mind on a matter. (Note: What I would refer to as the poor peacemaker complex that many women can possess.)

Further, what would have typically been a romantic scene ending with the cliché sexual intercourse finale with the hero and heroine lying beside each other on the boat ride out of the vicinity of Diana’s mythical world turned out to be a muted and sobering anticlimax. Not lost, however, was the comedic innocence of Diana asking Steve why they couldn’t sleep side by side for the moment without being married—again, turning upside-down the notion that when a man and a woman sleep in the same space they must end up having sex together.

***NOTE: I must be quick to add that although I’ve noted the sexual life of women in regards to Wonder Woman and my own personal experience, it was NOT meant to say that being one way or another in relationships takes away from women’s strength. If anything, my focus would be to say that a woman’s strength remains in her ability to control how and with whom she shares her intimacies with (as goes with men). Again, reflecting at history with rape/war and even today with the atrocities of female genital mutilation, there remains work to be done.***

 Balance Appears: Why Women and Men Do Need Each Other

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 I firmly believe that this film had the potential to turn off many people had it been too pro-woman. Inherently we all crave balance and as liberating as it is to focus on women’s respective abilities to kick butt in life, there is a peaceful rhythm when we find the feminine and masculine in harmony with the challenges we can face in our society.

This subtle but poignant undercurrent in “Wonder Woman” also made it palatable for my taste. It is pro-woman but not exclusively pro-feminine excluding the role of the masculine. In fact, I would argue that Chris Pine’s character Steve actually assists in Diana’s progressive strengthening as the Wonder Woman who takes on No Man’s Land unapologetically and with full disregard as to whether or not the men intend to support her.

Diana is driven by passion for what is good and this includes the ancient desire and urge in all of us to see any good conquer evil in the end. But by the end of this film we become very aware that Diana has matured in her overall intentions and truly what fuels her strength to fight evil is her ability to exhibit unconditional love.

Understandably the Steve Trevor character has his own drive as an undercover spy for the Allies that are fighting the Enemies in the WWI setting. In his case he is driven to fight for the greater good even if that means sacrificing himself in the process. When he watches the Amazonian women fighting and essentially defeating the invading forces on their island he immediately gains respect for them if not a bit frightened by the fact that he is far inferior to their abilities and tools.

Steve Trevor doesn’t put Diana down for her beliefs and although he challenges her by telling her about the “social norms” of the time including the fact that women are not seen in a war room discussion or cannot carry weapons, he ends up allowing her to be herself and has respect for her.

Diversity and Breaking Down of Historic Ignorance

 If I took a moment to reflect on our current society today I would have to say that the first problem I’m aware of immediately is the lack of understanding by everyone about how really diverse we really are as people here on Earth.

Namely, to attach mere colors of “black” or “white” is awful and downright backwards.   At the same time, our collective ability to avoid the gritty reality that the idea and the occurrence of slavery has been a terrible disease running through humans throughout history since the beginning of our time here and through to right now in 2017 (think underage sex trade, extremist cultures, cheap produce farm-picking or any combination) is akin to the apathy of many Americans when it comes to participating in politics and the way our government is run.

For myself the endearing and softening quality in this Wonder Woman film was the motley crew of characters that end up joining Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to find Ares include a native American descendant (who evidently does random business transactions like shuttling people across dangerous battle lines) and a Turkish man with many amorous talents and wanderlust.

The End…and yet what’s always been and will be…in the end Love will conquer all

 This blog has given away enough of this film so I will leave my conclusion simple by declaring my approval of the standard story-closing that the “underdog” good wins out over the evil standard-bearer.

Wonder Woman is moved by at least three distinctive moments that reflect awesome sacrifice, unconditional love and a compelling sense of mercy.

One is watching the aforementioned motley crew coming together in an almost prayerful moment, as it seems imminent destruction is upon them.

The other of course is watching Steve Trevor take up the plane with the deadly gas up into the atmosphere so that the hydrogen component blows it up but away from any innocent collateral damage—sacrificing himself in the process. Intertwined in this is the personal realization that Diana has that Steve had told her when her ears were ringing that he would be happy to have her “save the world” but it was his time to “save the day” with this action. Funny enough, the pain of the realization doesn’t “break” her as would be the stereotypical thought process. Instead it fuels her, ignites her godliness to become stronger than before.

The third moment, albeit muted and a bit lame, was when Diana looked upon the Dr. Poison character as she thought Wonder Woman was about to destroy her. She had mercy on her, plain and simple. This didn’t disturb me in the least because again it reflected the power of unconditional Love and how although many could argue that Dr. Poison didn’t deserve this mercy or grace–it has often been the type of moment that truly transforms someone. Love really can change the Universe.

Applause

This film is worth it. Understandably if schedule and price are not compatible at this time, I’m happy to endorse watching this even on your tablet streaming or a red box DVD rental later.

Kudos to all involved in the script writing, directing, acting, supporting and et cetera with this Wonder Woman film, may it be an example for a future movies in this genre.

In the end, these are the type of films that our society may need more of these days with all the political, religious and racial unrest within countless people around the world –especially those connected via the internet world.

A hopeful and resolute story line that we do have the ability to break out of these contrived barriers against triumph of good over evil that we’ve enslaved ourselves with for centuries.

R.V.S.B.

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P.S. Afterthought for anyone who utilizes the Christian Bible scriptures in their life philosophies:
Taking a walk down Christian scriptures for a moment, I believe the most misquoted verse is in the New Testament of the Bible, Ephesians 5:22, where it reads “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…” As it goes on for a couple verses, we’ve also endured two millennia where that has given Christian men (and otherwise) license to step on and put down women of faith. What is often overlooked or forgotten is that it goes further in Ephesians to say “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
In essence, there is no way that a man can harm a woman if he truly loves her as he loves his own body. How changed would our world today be if this was an attitude put into place immediately? +

The State of Media Affairs in the USA

The State of Media Affairs in the USA

Here’s what happens when a busy teacher and parent sits down finally after a long day following Memorial Day weekend: She (in this case, myself) turns on the television and hits up the cable news networks to see if she can get a mosaic-view of what’s going on in the world—or at least our country here in the United States of America.

History Repeated? We Wish

Let me be clear. My philosophy on life in general is that we humans have the tendency to run the same algorithm over and over again in our life cycles, perhaps in a futile effort to see if we can garner the unique ending that we’d prefer on a Hollywood screen or Netflix episode finale. In 2017, however, I believe we may be hitting a whole new low as a culture.

What I saw in the span of a few hours last night floored me. It’s not that I haven’t seen it before in recent months: CNN says President Trump is awful. MSNBC says President Trump is awful. Headline News says President Trump is awful. FOX News says CNN, MSNBC and Headline News are all awful. We all feel awful.

As a teacher and a mother, good grief as an American whose parents immigrated here, I feel like we’ve all been run through a mill and thrown out on the other side without regard for where we’ve all been and how we may actually see the world in other colors other than just black or white—in other symbols other than a donkey and an elephant.

June 2017

And just like that that, we have hit the 6th month of this year and where are we at when we look at our pop-culture news culture?

I’m afraid it’s an awful smokescreen where we’re at as Americans. Do we really believe that the greatest threat to our respective “pursuits of happiness” is who is our President of the United States at the moment and if or who around him/her had intimate talks with the Russian authorities? нет, спасибо.

Jobless June, July and Beyond… 

Seriously, is it too much to hope that those who have the time and resources to sit in front of cameras would try to focus on some of the issues that truly are impacting Americans right now and in the future?

Here’s a few things that we all need to keep in mind while talking heads are whining about who is running our federal government, who they’re talking to and such:

  1. Artificial Intelligence: AI in our daily lives is a fact now, no longer a musing of what the future holds. With or without our knowledge, AI will touch every American who resides in an urban area and even a good portion of those still in touch with our rural side.
  2. Deep Learning: We humans, especially Americans, could stand to learn a thing or two from this new movement/technology called Deep Learning where a machine or computer is accumulating knowledge based on experience. Unfortunately, I’m afraid to admit that many of us may be regressing in our ability to learn or create—thus creating an easy pathway for Deep Learning technology to trump us (forgive the pun).
  3. In line with points number 1 & 2 above, vehicles that automatically drive for us will start to displace many jobs. This is the story that no one seems to really be talking about but is so obvious for our truckers. This is a major job sector that is set to be shattered if this technology takes off without them being re-trained to either be involved in it or transition to something else.
  4. Our Environment: We’re all talking about it but not really doing anything proactive. I personally have found it most difficult to reduce our trash in the household and have attempted to recycle nearly everything away but my heart still sinks every time I put a plastic wrapping or bag in our waste basket because our local recycling plant won’t accept them.
  5. Biomedical Engineering – Genetic Advances: I don’t even have to be well-versed in these areas to understand that already we’ve far surpassed the idea of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We’re fast approaching a human reality where we may be able to reproduce/clone humans without the standard male + female = human baby.

Looking Forward

These are literally just a handful of the countless other issues having a direct impact on most of us Americans today.

How do we proceed? Can we all apply so as to be hired and perhaps have some of these news media pundits fired? Obviously not.

The best we can hope to do within our busy schedules is to look at the world from our own eyes and act upon it with our own hearts. Such was the case recently on the Portland commuter train where folks died while protecting a couple of muslim young ladies.

We have to deny cable news media and social media their supposed delusion that we look to them for direction as to how to react to our political parties and our government officials.

Instead we should direct ourselves to evoke what the real truth is, that many of us want to have an enduring part of our nation’s history—not this re-run of Gore vs. Bush malaise or post-Vietnam War hangover types trying to define who and what we are as a nation here in the United States of America.

United we stand, divided we fall.

God we pray to stay united and hear each other out.

R.V.S.B.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance Bill O’Reilly, Hello and About Time Tucker Carlson

Note: Haven’t posted anything new to my blog in recent months because like most generation X folks I’ve been too busy living life to take pause and reflect or react in this cyberspace format…until news yesterday hit that Bill O’Reilly lost his job at FOX News.

Breaking News

It was via text that I heard from my husband that “Bill O’Reilly out. Tucker to take his time slot.”  My first reaction was indifference and then I just sat back while waiting at a red light in traffic thinking about how long I’d been watching the O’Reilly Factor.

I got married in 2000 and had just left my Palm Beach County for a new life season in Chicagoland only to watch footage of my hometown plastered all over cable news because of the Presidential election results that were contested between George W. Bush and Al Gore, et cetera.  It would be the following year that the unthinkable would occur with the attacks of 9/11.  O’Reilly was not the end all for me but became staple of sorts in my political news diet through the years, especially as I came to work in the federal government for a number of years.

The Old and the Really New are Moot

I’ve always respected the older generations.  Perhaps it was my upbringing or how I was taught to do so by my teachers during my academic career.

Here’s what strikes me about this O’Reilly phase coming to a halt: the Baby Boomer generation is starting to hit a few walls and I’m afraid there’s not going to be a lot of pity generated by the generation X folks.  It turns out that most folks in their 30s and 40s have been working non-stop since the Enron company scandal and the 90s Dot.com tech bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and then the recession and housing bubble burst to boot.  By the way, this means working jobs that weren’t necessarily part of our plan–for example, after 9/11 there were hiring freeze policies set in place in many companies for a while.

Now we have the millennial generation and surrounding youth who are beginning to get their feet wet in the working world and can risk feeling slighted or entitled in their attitude which tests the patience of generation X people who have already had to serve the complaints and demands of many in the Baby Boom population above them that hardly noticed or valued Xers. Let me pause here to emphasize that these stereotypes that I’m describing do not reflect everyone in these age groups but there is tension that is real between many because of these overall inclinations.

It became apparent and accepted that in the cable news world, most of the respected or “powerful” opinion megaphones were older than the generation X group.

Until now.  Tucker Carlson offers a no-nonsense and practical approach to interviewing guests while also retaining the dry humor that is reflective of a generation that has become skeptical of the political and journalism culture in this country–not to mention other big issues in our nation like the job culture and our economy.

Stay True Tucker: Bow Tie Optional

Personally I have enjoyed watching other cable news channel talking head personalities over the years even if I don’t agree with their views–if at least they give different opinions a chance to be aired and have respect for those they interview.

I’m grateful that Tucker already has demonstrated on FOX’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that he can bring on all sorts of people with different viewpoints (not just conservative) and also engage with them in a lively but disciplined exchange.

My hope is that he can retain his unique style of interviewing and moderate his personal reactions on political matters.  The growth of bipartisan cooperation in this nation will be able to grow if we can generate more open conversations on all the hot topics that fuel social discourse on social media platforms and elsewhere.

R.V.S.B.

#TuckerCarlson

 

 

United We Are Exhausted

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November 11, 2016

Equality for All

Everyone in our nation can agree on at least one thing as today closes this week of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, we are united in exhaustion.

Bill of Rights

 It seems that just because most of us have access to the internet doesn’t mean it’s the greatest idea for some of us to utilize to share our grievances, our joys or our opinions of any sort in relation to the POTUS election results (which I’m doing right now—if I offend you, please do stop reading).

Free speech is wonderful in its concept and I wouldn’t want us to ever try to regulate that—we’ve done enough damage with regulations over other private parts of our citizens’ lives like their land and such. This past week is an uncomfortable reminder, though, that sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. Better yet, keep those tapping/swiping fingers off the touchscreens.

Disclaimer: I may have “replied” earlier this week and hurt some feelings, if you recognize me as doing such I would like it on the record that I’m sorry it occurred, ask forgiveness and will try to more restrained in the future. +

Civil War of the Social Media, Tweeting and Blogosphere

 We are all human. We are Americans or at least aspiring to be as immigration policy in this country is still very difficult to maneuver. The history books will have to have a whole unit devoted to the evolution of the information age especially as it relates to volatile debates between political opponents, their staff surrogates and your fellow citizens.

I’m probably not alone in the sentiment that my blood pressure spiked more than once when I heard/watched our read about Presidential candidates “tweeting” remarks in response to either each other’s actions, words or alleged thereof. Are we kidding ourselves? It was remarkably uncivil and unkind. This eroded all of our emotional consciousness somehow. Unfortunately, it also added up and contributed to the overall anxiety pre-election day.

The Crash of a Façade: O Say Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

 So the supposed impossible happened according to the word of the U.S. mass media outlets, so what? There were people who never thought it was possible after the attacks on September 11, 2001 that we could so soon conceive of electing a person with the full name Barack Hussein Obama II could be our president. This was a man who literally had no executive experience and he went on to be our rightly deserved first bi-racial President of the United States and gave hope for generations to come that anything is possible and “yes we can”.

Are we so shallow now to limit our American dreams that a businessman/heir, TV celebrity, politically bipartisan campaign contributor in the person of president-elect Donald J. Trump cannot now succeed as our 45th president? Are we that depressed and full of negative energy of a nation? Perhaps I don’t want a detailed answer to that: truly we have many of our folks suffering from opiate drug addictions, victims of abuse or human-trafficking and countless other miseries.

Or maybe I’m a silly athlete that has won and lost many a track and road race—I learned at an early age that you can work so hard and still lose really bad. And then, you know what? You first congratulate your competitor, then wallow privately for a moment, reassess and then go at it again in the next race. If there isn’t another race then there’s always another sport.

OFF: PRESS OR SWIPE OFF!

 “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” –Norman Vincent Peale

In the end, we can turn our devices off. We can turn to our loved ones and hug them. We can take a walk and wave to a neighbor. Or turn the device back on and call a friend or arrange to meet up with them in person.

Was blessed with being able to meet up with an old friend a couple of nights after the election this week. We are entirely opposite in our political views and how we felt about this POTUS result—yet how comforting to be able to share a meal together and still talk shop about how our nation can work on better discourse, less finger-pointing and name-calling, more acknowledgement that we really are a nation that is stronger when spending more energy on focusing what we can be working on together.

Personal Responsibility to Politics: A Lost Treasure

 Let’s not be collective victims of apathy again because we’re consumed in our lives and don’t even think about attending a city or town council. What if every American went to just one county school board meeting or county/city/town/village council meeting in a year? Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but my theory is that even that minimum of participation by merely witnessing that in person would help our collective consciousness about our governments.

Again, let’s work toward making “them” affected by “us” instead of always griping the other way around when it comes to our American system of governing. We want this nation to succeed. We are the people.

R.V.S.Bean

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Trump Trumps: President-Elect Donald J. Trump on November 9, 2016.

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Congratulations!

It’s real. We the People of the United States of America now realize that we really don’t know what we stand for: Democrat, Republican or otherwise.

I recall the 2016 Republican primary for POTUS earlier this year in March. The incredible number of men and one woman running for the big-ticket. I remember a populist voice. It was “the Donald.” It was the “You’re fired” guy. This was the man who none of the political elites dared to give credit or respect to listen to, let alone conceive that he could actually be the nominee of the “Grand Ole Party.”

Then there was the Democratic primary…Hillary Clinton POTUS ticket redux (sorry ma’am, your best chance was 2008) and a few token piece gentlemen, although Bernie Sanders does get points for rousing at least the low-attention span of the millennial base. They had crowned their queen before the Democratic Convention…but we’re not a monarchy.

So here we are…the Republican party is burning yet standing (given the congressional polling numbers coming in House and Senate), the Democratic party is nursing the wounds of the “pendulum swing” that can occur after any two term President of the United States.

I may be a mother-wife-homemaker without a W-2 form or newspaper column tenure, homeschooler, part-time caretaker of 90-year-old grandparents but I can see  and call what is happening. Our country is at a reckoning point and it’s a blessed thing–no doubt painful to be clear.

I love Democrats and Republicans alike (even in if I align myself as a conservative Republican woman)…we as a nation need to take a time-out and recognize that we are stronger together. Please, if you’re aligned with Secretary Hillary Clinton, don’t despair! The United States of America will go on without an overly liberal agenda or a Bush era-heavy influence. Populism is the name of the game. Go USA!

I believe President-elect Donald J. Trump will do his best along with his transition team to put America first. That includes the work of sitting President Obama and former Secretary Hillary Clinton and all the former Presidents of the U.S. still living with us.

God bless America. I pray for us already and will continue to do so. We need to stick together no matter who is POTUS. I respected President Obama even if I don’t agree with all his policies and ideas for the last eight years.   I encourage those opposed to “the Donald” to do the same.

We are America. Unless you want to go to another country, please let’s just stick together and find what our common ground is–I never thought that the 2 party system was the answer in the end. It’s 2016, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

God and Universe Bless,

R.V.S.Bean

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United We Vote and Slump: Clinton or Trump

United We Vote and Slump: Clinton or Trump

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November 1, 2016

We are a week away from the closing of this 2016 Presidential election cycle in America. If there is one thing that we can all agree on despite of our political party inclinations, age, perception of race, gender and sexual orientation—it’s that we are exhausted.

The Race

There are other contenders for the presidency but that’s not really a serious thought. Our choices are simple and ardently depressing as they can’t seem to cancel each other out effectively to help us avoid the inevitable. Either former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton or Mr. Donald J. Trump must win this election.

My Myopic View

Personally I lead a very busy life that includes perhaps 5 hours to myself per week to ingest information through the reading of newspapers, magazines or just listening to other folks who get to make a living off of speaking their mind with make-up, sharp clothing and bright cable news cameras rolling.

What I see are two major party candidates that have started to sound very much alike and both have such a speckled past that if we wrote a sitcom on them there would be more seasons of material than Cheers, Friends and Seinfeld combined.

It’s belittling at this point to read columnists or listens to news pundits that claim that we the American people are at such odds with ourselves that we’re “hating” on our neighbors and strangers like. Of course I acknowledge that there will always be a subset of people who are unfortunately close-minded and try to strike out at others who won’t think the way they do.

Despite the incessant news cycle, the drunken-like tweet feeds and the stats-on-crack polls I believe that our nation is much more united in philosophy than we’ve been allowed to recognize.

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Embedded Florida Early-Voting  

As an unapologetic native Floridian I’ve enjoyed deep belly laughs listening to reporters over the years try to figure our state out especially during election season. We started voting last Monday and when I found out from a Facebook colleague I headed over to our local library that very afternoon.

Parents or guardians of young children can feel like an embedded journalist does when present in an active military theatre. I wanted to cut and run countless times, especially when my own 1-year-old started to fling her body onto the cement sidewalk and proceeded to roll for the curb. Visions of the hooded electoral college flooded my mind with doubts as to whether my vote mattered at all in the end.

Making it into the voting room itself finally felt like the sweet victory of your high school homecoming game until one of the volunteers looked at my driver’s liscense and then back at me as if I was an underaged kid trying to buy wine coolers—it struck me later that I judged the poor lady too harshly, I actually looked pretty war-torn and not a bit like the polished, pre-mother of three chick on that ID photo she was trying to compare with the stressed out bag and baby carrier mama in front of her.

The hour spent waiting for the chance to connect an incomplete arrow pointing to my respective voting choices gave me some time to work the public relations front with my fellow dutiful citizens around me. As I made the rounds of apologies, utterances of thanks and friendly exchanges with some of the sympathetic parents/grandparents around us I was able to get an idea of why there were so many people there on the very first day of early voting.

“I just want to be done with it.” “I don’t want to deal with this on THE day.” “ I want to get it out-of-the-way.” “I’m over this election already, just putting in my two cents and finish.” “It’s just the right thing to do.” And my personal favorite, “Stay in line that way you don’t have to try to do this another day.” (directed at me by the sweet soul waiting behind me and letting me know with another lady that my child lost her pacifier in a thicket of bushes next to us)

Character? Please. Next Issue.

Another united moment for us has to be this “character” analysis of Clinton and Trump respectively. Since this is my blog short I reserve the right to pose the idea that perhaps both of them have flaws and less than savory precedents for what Americans seem to have the appetite for in a president. We unanimously seem to dislike these choices before us and yet we’re still voting like it’s the rent or mortgage payment that we must abide by.

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Future: Our Children and Grandchildren Have Gotten a Whiff

We’re united in understanding that our social structure as a whole has changed in the light of the rapid/non-stop information digital age. The younger generations among us are united in not understanding how we operated in prior decades without Snapchat, emojis, Facebook public journaling, computers in the guise of a telephone and the list goes on about technologies and softwares that I admittedly have no idea about.

We must move forward no matter what the result of this presidential cycle. Is it possible for us to learn from our prior mistakes in the past couple decades of trashing the incoming POTUS and his/her administration? Can we try to look at our own lives in our own cities and towns and see how much or little we can be involved in the political process even if it’s just volunteering on a subcommittee for your local town council? When will the “They” become “Us” in regard to our governing process in our nation whether it’s at the local, state or national level? Can the wrongs that will inevitably occur become ours to collectively own up to and then pick up together and move forward with better ideas learned?

Vote, Pray and Love.

I encourage everyone that is alive and of legal age to go ahead and vote. Pray for our country, think good thoughts for our nation if you don’t know/believe that something or Someone put our little planet in motion in an ocean of organized chaos. In the end, please have a little love for whomever or whatever political party “wins”. We are all Americans and we will survive what 2016 has brought us and this presidential election cycle will be a historic one full of many lessons for years to come.

R.V.S.B.

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A Mother’s Memo: President Donald J. Trump? Yes, It Can Happen.

My Dear Fellow Americans,

Can you believe it’s been nearly 15 years since September 11, 2001 occurred? For most of us  in our late 20s and 30s that date clearly served as a psychological marker for when reality hit regarding the United States’ image in the world–let alone how extremist Islamic groups viewed us.

Here we are now, May 2016. The presumptive nominee for the GOP is Mr. Donald J. Trump and the Democrat establishment is trying with all their might to prop up their previously coronated, long-awaiting candidate Hillary R. Clinton.  Everyone seems to be incredulous at the idea of these two being our main choices for President of the United States.

Big names like Jeb Bush say they’ll vote for neither, others are proclaiming that the jig is up for the old party barons and then there’s the millennial generation that don’t think it’s odd at all to expect that they should receive handouts/free stuff from their respective candidates (read: Feel the Bern, seriously?).

Truly, I feel sad for former Secretary Clinton, she actually did have a shining moment that was good for securing the presidency–back in 2008. Today it’s still possible but truly only out of default and after the first presidential debate I’m willing to bet that most folks will recover quickly over their self-imposed gag reflux and vote for Mr. Trump without reservation.

Here now Speaker Paul Ryan who say’s he’s “not there yet”.  Mr. Trump’s quick response to that sentiment reflects the reason why up to this point he’s garnered the amazing number of votes in the primaries.  He doesn’t pause to say the “proper” things to appease others–he just moves forward with what he feels and believes. For better or worse, our nation seems to have evolved into a population that is craving for a leader to just lead without reservation as to how the party herd trends.

I believe I’m speaking for most Americans when I say that although this election cycle seem to be distasteful and on the border of absurd when it comes to the two main candidates–somehow it really all will be okay and if Mr. Trump should win by a landslide vote in the fall, he will be able to delegate appropriately so that America can move forward and perhaps aspire to be greater than it already is at the moment.

This nation is currently blessed even if we are blind and too self-absorbed to acknowledge that right now despite our “party affilations”. Happy voting!

Your fellow citizen,

R.V.S.B.

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Fog Lifting: America May Be Ready for Trump…or Not

Mama Bean should be asleep or washing more dishes but my philosophical-political train of thought won’t stop…

The Setting

The morning following Florida’s super Tuesday had most of eastern Palm Beach County drenched in a heavy fog.  Literally 10-15 minutes from where I live was where both former Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump gave their respective victory speeches.  The irony of the intoxicating mist in the hours following yesterday’s results was not lost on me.

The Climate

People are tired. People are stressed. I’ve said it to family and friends alike that you only have to look at how people drive on the roads to see the reflection of the public’s emotions played out.  (Note: see old blog post for sociology opinion on the matter https://ceoofthehome.net/2012/03/11/driving-exposed-souls/)  At the end of every work day, most Americans have hopefully enough energy to feed themselves and loved ones and find peace to go to bed in time for the grind awaiting in the morning again.

The Unthinkable

Both major political parties may be portrayed in the news media outlets as not agreeing on much but I’m confident enough to believe that we may all agree that the last several election cycles have been tiresome with their choices for President of the United States (POTUS).  This technological age we live in today also makes personality faults ever-present at the click or tap of a “button”.

The Unreal Reality Revealing

How could we possibly be facing the choice of a former First Lady, turned U.S. Senator, turned jilted 2008 POTUS candidate, turned concessionary Secretary of State to now all-but-crowned Democratic POTUS candidate versus a businessman who could care less what anybody thinks of him including the GOP establishment that he has signed up to represent as he runs for POTUS?  With the delegate numbers where they are today, the American media outlets are now a-chattering about the possible ways this can play out for either side.

The Sun Will Set and Hopefully Rise Again

Our nation is big, dare I say “great”.  Truly, I’m not worried about who becomes the next POTUS even if the race is down to the major candidates being Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Our country has survived since it declared its independence in 1776 and I believe there is a majority of folks in every U.S. political party that are not about to lay down and allow anyone to take our nation down a lifetime path of being indentured.

Too bad we can’t just run single candidates and make the runner-up the Vice President–it might be refreshing in some ways to force us to learn how to compromise instead of always pitting ourselves against each other.  Perhaps we need to start by putting things in perspective and respect the American voting public’s voice in the end, there is little excuse for not exercising personal responsibility to educate oneself about the people running for our nation’s highest elected office.

R.V.S.Bean

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Florida, Trump and the moment of truth…

A Sleepy Homemaker’s Take:

The GOP debate at University of Miami earlier this evening on CNN was a refreshing change in tone from the latest character attack antics we’ve seen–especially between Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz with Donald J. Trump in last month’s debate in South Carolina.

Mr. Trump rightfully had a more relaxed air about him as his numbers favor a victory over his Republican counterparts in the Florida primary come Tuesday, March 15th.

Senator Rubio is very talented but it’s clear already that there’s not sufficient backing for him to clinch Florida at the very least or even come second at the very best. I keep hearing from colleagues and reading columnists that say he needs to bow out to help make this a cleaner two-man race.

Governor Kasich seemed a bit impatient, not that anyone can blame him. He does come to the stage each time with the most experience working in the “system” of local, state and federal government. Unfortunately the collective media and seemingly voting public don’t acknowledge him as a real POTUS contender. Running mate/V.P. candidate? Perhaps.

Senator Cruz is positioning himself to be the contender against Trump. I am too biased to reflect on Cruz simply because it’s difficult for me to listen to him in general. There are those who do listen to him and are supporting him–all are entitled of course to his/her own opinion which is a great freedom available in our nation.

Mr. Trump may have softened his tone in some rhetoric, namely the immigration/work visas, but he didn’t completely water down his stance when it came to the question of Islam or what he thought about muslims in the world.  While it could be said that he “changed” his behavior or strong condemnations, he was not any different from the resolute businessman that we’ve seen before in these debates.

I’m a native Floridian and I grew up hearing the name Donald J. Trump. In fact, I lived across “the island” in West Palm Beach.  There are many like me who are voting now (early voting) and leading up to our primary this Tuesday. It will be interesting to see what the final numbers turn out to be but my layman’s gut tells me Mr. Trump will win.

At the end of it all, however, whomever is elected President of the United States this upcoming November–either Democrat or Republican–I do believe America as a whole will move on and keep striving to be a nation committed to our principles and hopefully treating each other with more kindness as most folks are working hard to support themselves and their families. Anger and hysteria on either sides of the political aisle will not help heal and unite.

Says a mother of three that tries every day to teach her children how to play fair so that they can work well with others one day as adults in the world,

R.V.S.Bean