Friday, August 21, 2015

Today I choose optimism

I’ve got a lot of things percolating in my brain right now when it comes to politics (plus a few other things). There are things that are really bothering me in the political world and I briefly considered writing about them, but as we head into the weekend, I just feel the need to be more positive and less stabby. Besides, we’ve got all kinds of time between now and the election to write about that stuff, don’t we? Bwahaha!

I’m seeing a lot of negativity and anger from both sides right now and it is really harshing my mellow. So I shall set that aside. We have a baseball game tomorrow evening and it promises to be a beautiful day and evening. There will be fireworks! Potentially some rain on Sunday, but we might be able to grill some brats in there somewhere. Sunday is Dead Day at Casa Nutwood. There is a Walking Dead Season 5 Dead-A-Thon on AMC, followed by a new Talking Dead, followed by the premiere of the new companion series, “Fear the Walking Dead.” I’m psyched! I’m not doing any special foodstuffs like my Slimeball Brain, but I’ll have fun despite that. You know I will!

As always, music brings me much joy, and I listened to the CD that this song is on (2004’s “Astronaut”) while I worked out today. It makes me feel hopeful, optimistic, and generally happy.

Reach up for the sunrise
Put your hands into the big sky
You can touch the sunrise
Feel the new day enter your life

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I’m not a big fan of appointments. I seem to have this deep-seated resentment at being told what to do and when to do it. I’m a rebel, Dottie.

I slacked off a little bit last year in my preventive healthcare, but I’m back on board this year. I kind of like to get it all done in one fell swoop, so I’ve had three appointments this week, I have to drop off a specimen tomorrow, and I have a follow-up appointment on Monday. Ugh! I’m not having much fun with all of this, but I feel good about being proactive when it comes to my health. (The title of this entry means “Health!” in German. It’s what I always say when someone sneezes.)

It’s easy to forget that not everyone has access to preventive care. I was heartened to read recently that the number of uninsured in the U.S. continues to drop. Thanks, Obama! Really, I mean it. Thank you for caring enough about all Americans to get the Affordable Care Act passed. It is making a difference in people’s lives, and it was a wonderful step forward for our country. We should all keep working to make it better and get even more people insured!

I get my teeth cleaned twice a year. I get screened for various cancers and conditions. I get booster shots and additional immunizations as I need them. I get my eyes checked every couple of years, and I get new glasses a little less frequently. Every American deserves to have such screenings, and deserves medical care, without facing bankruptcy.

I am grateful to have had good health insurance throughout my life, and I want that for my fellow citizens. Who wouldn’t?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Boredom Shmoredom

One of my pet peeves is hearing anyone, child or adult, utter the words, “I’m bored.” Heck, it’s right up there as my blog motto: “Boredom is not an option!” It’s really one of my life mottos, too.

I remember having a conversation with a coworker about retiring. I was still a few years away from that, but it was what Ken and I were working towards, and I said I was really looking forward to it. She said, “Won’t you get bored? I’d get bored!” I laughed and said, “No way! There is so much fun stuff to do!”

Over seven years later, and I don’t believe I have ever said or even thought to myself, “I’m bored.” It’s a bit of an alien concept to me because there is always something to occupy me. Music, a movie or TV show if I feel like watching something, articles to read, emails to write, and many books to be read! I can color if I need something meditative, I can get ambitious and try to draw a picture (I’m not very good at that, but it’s still fun), or I can write some thoughts down here. There’s always housework, but that’s just a chore, nothing fun. But it still occupies your time.
I tend to think that anyone who says they’re bored is just lazy. It’s not MY job to entertain you or come up with some activities to delight and intrigue you. If you can’t figure that out on your own, with the vast array of interesting things that exist in this universe, then you need to try a little harder. Make an effort! Go for a walk. Look at the flowers and plants and interesting bugs. If you have mobility issues, get lost in your own head and dream up something wild and exotic. Write it down, or draw it.

I suppose it helps to have a natural curiosity about things. There is so much that I don’t know and so much more to learn. I am fascinated by things both large and trivial, such as recent articles about Donald Trump, and a research instrument called the Vomit Machine, designed to test the aerosol spread of Norovirus. Although mentioning Trump and a Vomit Machine in the same sentence is probably redundant. Ha!

Don’t limit yourself with easy proclamations of boredom, or expect those around you to entertain you. YOU have the power to change that, so do it. And say, “I’m bored” in my presence at your own peril!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Kounty Klerk in Kentucky

Do you remember that county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses? Kim Davis is her name. Kim the Kounty Klerk in Kentucky. She was told to do so since it’s, you know...the law of the land now...but still refused. In fact, she decided that she just wasn’t going to issue ANY stupid ol’ marriage licenses. Harrumph! Take that, gay people!

There was a lawsuit, as expected, and a federal judge ordered her to do her damn job. (I’m paraphrasing.) Ms. Davis continued to refuse to issue licenses, despite the probable contempt of court charge. The same judge issued a stay early this week on his order as the woman seeks an appeal of his ruling. A shame, really. I was totally on board with seeing her ass thrown in jail.

I read a great commentary on it from Garrett Epps at The Atlantic, and you should read it, too. It’s probably the best analysis I’ve read concerning this case and issue. This is a great quote from the article:

Government serves everyone, and the preferences of its employees aren’t relevant in that regard. Whether it’s flying a fighter jet or issuing a license, an honorable government worker will do the job or quit. Full stop.

I can’t begin to write as succinctly and eloquently as Mr. Epps, but I have a few thoughts on the matter.

It reminded me quite a bit of a while back when a few pharmacists were refusing to fill birth control pill prescriptions because it went against their faith. I had the same reaction to them that I do to Kim the Klerk: “Then get a different job!”

As far as I know, all health care professionals take an oath. As a Medical Technologist, I took one, and I took it seriously. (Here is the MT/MLT Code of Ethics.) Nowhere in there is an exception for not treating someone or for not working on their cultures based on my religious beliefs. A patient is a patient, and it was not in my job description to make moral judgments on others, including when it came to sexually transmitted infections. My job was to evaluate all specimens for disease-causing organisms. As Mr. Epps wrote, “Full stop.”

Granted, an oath for health care professionals is different from the oath that elected officials such as Kim the Klerk take when they are sworn in. However, it is still an oath. Her job is to issue marriage licenses, period, and the Supreme Court of our country has ruled that marriage equality is the law of the land.

Kim the Klerk is free to practice her religion however she wants. She can handle snakes, she can speak in tongues, she can pray before her meals at restaurants, she can go to all the church potluck suppers she wants to and stuff her face until she's ready to explode, and she can enjoy the fellowship of her church pals in whatever way they choose.

What Kim the Klerk can’t do is discriminate. That is exactly what she is doing by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. To stop issuing them to all couples means that she isn’t doing her job. If her and her pals want to talk shit about The Gays at those church potlucks, they can knock themselves out. By all means, gather together and lament the direction your country has taken, have serious discussions about how this is the End Times™ and how God is going to send his fiery judgment down upon America! Cry in your Ambrosia Salad, Kim! Cry those bitter tears!

But when you go back to work on Monday, spent from your little circle jerk of outraged persecution, you’d better start doing your damn job and issuing those marriage licenses. If you can’t do that, I think it’s time to move on to something that you can do.

Perhaps your church has an opening for a secretary.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hangin’ at the Blackstone

Our quick trip to Chicago was a blast! The Cirque show (Kurios) was definitely one of the best we’ve seen, with a great steampunk vibe. Lots of yummy hors d’oeuvres and plenty of champagne, and our VIP experience was very enjoyable.

Something we tried for the first time was Uber, and we are both sold. We were able to find rides almost immediately, rather than waiting forever to try to flag down a cab.

Our one-night home was the Blackstone Hotel, now formally called the Renaissance Blackstone (a Marriott property™), right on Michigan Avenue (AKA the Magnificent Mile). We loved the location, breezing right in off of Lake Shore Drive and finding it immediately. (Our exit on Sunday was equally as painless. No traffic jams, even with the Chicago Air and Water Show going on!) Upon our check-in, I was commenting to the desk clerk what a beautiful hotel it was. He gave me a little information on its history and I was absolutely fascinated! I had to look it up to learn more.

It was constructed in 1908-1910 and is an amalgam of Beaux-Art and Second Empire architecture styles. It has played host to numerous presidents, including the acronyms FDR and JFK. It experienced its ups and downs over the years, especially during the Depression, and one of the owners was the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—yes, the guy who the Beatles became enamored of! He hoped to convert the building to luxury condos, but was unable to secure financing and eventually sold the property. Hey, I guess even the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment takes a back seat when you’re trying to make a buck!

The Blackstone lays claim to the origin of the phrase “smoke-filled room” when a journalist covering the nomination process of the Republican party to choose Warren G. Harding as its nominee used it to describe the room where the decision was made. The phrase survives to indicate clandestine political machinations.

The hotel closed in 2000 after it failed to pass an OSHA inspection, and it remained closed for several years before Marriott bought the property. The years of neglect took their toll, with the interior and exterior in extreme disrepair. Vandals broke in and removed many of the original fixtures and furnishings. An extensive renovation, including the terra cotta exterior, to the tune of $128 million was undertaken. Many of the original fixtures were found and purchased on eBay (!!) and there are very few modern fixtures in the lobby.

Two guest rooms were preserved during the renovation: the 9th-floor “smoke-filled room” and the 10th-floor presidential suite. Next time we go, I hope I can ask to see those rooms!

The Renaissance Blackstone is both a Chicago Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

On a personal note, I can tell you that we had a wonderful stay. I tweeted about our check-in at this historical hotel, and the hotel liked it and retweeted. The next day, the hotel tweeted that they hoped we had a wonderful time at the Cirque show the previous night. Well, I’m going to assume it was the clerk who checked us in that was doing the tweeting...I would hope that the Blackstone hasn’t become a sentient being! (Shades of The Overlook!) Our room on the 20th floor gave us a great view of Lake Michigan and Buckingham Fountain. It was a lovely sight on a beautiful weekend, and we had plenty of looks as the Blue Angels buzzed over the lake and around the shore area. Our late lunch in the hotel restaurant was also very nice (mmm, that sangria flight was so good!), and the staff couldn’t have been more friendly.

It’s not an inexpensive place to stay, but it really was a great experience and considering my love of historic buildings, it was very special to me to learn of its historic status. We’ve decided that we now have two go-to hotels: the Majestic for anything near Wrigleyville and the Blackstone for pretty much anything else.

Thank you, Blackstone, for such a wonderful stay! It was a pleasure to stay in such a historic place and to learn more about this beautiful building. We’ll be back!

(Interior photo: me. Exterior photos via Wikipedia. Click to embiggenate.)