Saturday, September 30, 2017

Barf Bags and Fossilized Pizza

I was going to post this yesterday, but Collin, who never gets sick (I've asked him more than once when the mothership is returning for him), actually got sick. He missed work yesterday and was sent home today, right after he got there. The health department, it seems, frowns upon restaurant employees puking on the job.

He's been having gastrointestinal issues for the past week. Hard to believe, since this is my baby boy, who would put leftovers from restaurant meals in his backpack and eat them a week later, when he remembered he had them. I always thought it would be my cooking or fossilized pizza that brought him down.

He's in bed now, where he's been since he got home. His doctor prescribed a bland diet and lots of fluids for now. A bland diet is good. Easier to clean up when it won't stay down.

Anyway, my post for yesterday--today--was planned to be about my latest visit to my neurologist. Ever since I learned, back in June, that I'd had a tiny stroke, I've been apprehensive. I watched my mom suffer through multiple major strokes until she could no longer do anything for herself and didn't recognize Collin or me. I expected the worst. Going to sleep at night became a cliffhanger. I wondered if I'd even wake up in the morning.

That all changed on Wednesday.

After a thorough examination, my doctor told me that the spells I've been having--periodic speech problems, tremors, zero concentration, short-term memory issues--are not TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) but seizures. Mind you, seizures are no picnic--even mine, which are not the convulsions most people associate with epilepsy--but I'll take seizures over strokes any day. It's like the 2016 election, with Hillary Clinton being the seizures and Donald Trump being the strokes. You don't really want either one, but better to go with the one that will do the least amount of damage. You can't fix strokes.

I told her that I haven't been able to write for some time time now, beyond blog posts and obnoxious comments on Facebook. What once came so easily is now a struggle. I've considered giving up. Actually, I gave up more than once. I considered taking on ghostwriters. I have the ideas, I just haven't been able to turn the ideas into complete novels. And then I told myself it was time to retire, stop and smell the roses and all that.

I told myself the market isn't what it used to be. I'm not the writer I used to be. I'm not interested in doing the kind of books that end up on the bestseller lists anymore. There are more writers and fewer readers now. I've used every excuse in the book. But the truth is, I want to write. I just can't.

My doctor thinks that may not be a permanent issue. Seizures not strokes, right? It can be fixed. I can be fixed. Maybe. A change in meds, and time will tell....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Words Aren't Mine This Time, but I Agree with the Author 100%!

Fellow author Karen Moline shared this on her Facebook page. I shared it as well, and I'm sharing it here for those of you who don't do Facebook. 

This long rant was posted by attorney Seth Abramson on Twitter, and it is one of the best dissections of Trump I've read. Please share: 

"We need to never again discuss this man with respect to policy — it's become more than clear in 9 months that he holds no policy positions. So if you support Donald Trump because of any view you claim he holds, I don't ever want to hear from you again. The man holds no views. There is no position Donald Trump has ever taken that he has not, at some point in the past or present, taken the opposite position to.

We mustn't ever discuss this man as someone "challenging the system" or any similar bromide. His White House is the most corrupt ever. Not one story of honorable conduct has emerged from this White House. Instead, it's been lies, deception, corruption, graft, propaganda. But the most important thing is this: this is the first U.S. president to systematically and willfully terrorize his own populace daily. His changeability is intended to keep us anxious and on guard. In fact, he's admitted publicly, many times, that this is a tactic of his.

His corruption is equally studied: his business model has always been "get away with what you can," and that's exactly how he's governed. He saw that he had a GOP Congress — and knew that his worst-case scenario was not getting re-elected to a job that he never really wanted. That's why he hasn't eliminated his conflicts of interest, delivered on his promises, "drained the swamp," acted as any kind of leader. His presidency is a criminal enterprise designed to enrich his family and give him the attention his father clearly denied him as a kid.

He has no beliefs, no ambitions, no morals, no principles, no guidelines, no plans, no expectations. He simply needs to sow chaos daily. What Trump knows better than most is that America is a chaos machine—you feed it and it spits out attention, headlines, sometimes money. I want to be very clear here: Donald Trump is a toxic human with a toxic public presence and—worst of all—he wants to poison his people. His reign will go down not just in U.S. history but human history as a reign of uncommon cruelty in the democracies of this millennium. 

It's more than that he'll go down in our history as the worst president we'll ever have—he'll go down as one of our greatest villains. Benedict Arnold tried to betray America for a prior sovereign—Trump is trying to *torture* a nation that was good to him his whole life.

Have you noticed a change in your mood since January? I mean a change you can't seem to escape? Anxiety, anger, fear, confusion, doubt? The most ubiquitous man in your nation is trying to poison you daily—because it gives him power—and no one's stopping him from doing it. If you've seen a dramatic change lately in your personality, home life, belief in the nation you love—please know that you're not alone. I'm not using hyperbole: you're under attack. A deliberate, unprovoked, systematic, and—yes—evil attack. And it's working. We're losing.

When humans are endangered, confused and hopeless, there are certain things we turn to—all of which Trump is deliberately stealing away. Our fight or flight instinct—which Trump activates—can be quelled if we're given respite, which is why Trump ensures we have no respite. That's why his tweets—which are intended to terrorize, and *do*—come in a daily barrage of needless conflict, warmongering, and cruelty. He must never stop tweeting, because his tweets now activate our culture in a way so *inescapable* that we're almost like his prisoners. You think he's attacking North Korea in his tweets? No—he's trying to terrorize *you*. The NFL? You. Segments of America? No—all of us.

When humans are confused, we seek the stability of truth, trusted institutions, neighbors. He's destroying those anchors systematically. "Fake news" isn't about getting re-elected—it's about controlling your fight-or-flight instinct by giving you no safe harbor in "truth." Every institution we like or trust, he's undermined. The media. Government. Unions. Hell—even the NFL. Veterans (when he feels like it).

He's enabled by the GOP—but he's no Republican. He wants to destroy any politics or politician whose world he's not at the center of. He's a malignant narcissist, and his *only* ambition is to spread his toxicity nationwide in whichever ways feed his perverse pathology. If you're a Trump voter, by all means laugh it up. You'll be caught in wars, recessions, and international collapse like the rest of us. He has 35% support because Americans love to be right/see fools suffer—and Trump voters think they're on the right side of the equation.

Time will show that we were all the fools—and whatever temporary satisfaction the Right got from annoying the Left wasn't worth America. Because the last thing—of the three I mentioned—humans look for in a crisis is hope, and he's systematically taking *that* away as well. We don't have hope future elections will be fair. We don't have hope our government is working in our interests. We don't have hope we can trust and love our neighbors and they'll trust and love us back. And we don't have hope things will start to make sense again. Trump has declared war on America—crafting his own brand of "American carnage"—and some groups have felt the pain quicker than others. But only a fool fails to see that the pain and suffering that comes from having a madman as a leader is soon coming for every one of us.

Things are going to get very bad. And many fools will say, "Well—that's America." And America *is* deeply flawed. But we weren't *this*. One in every few generations in the West, a leader arises *so vile* that he can draw out the evil from his population and weaponize it. Trump is *not* Hitler. There was only *one* Hitler. But Trump is the *sort* of Hitler that America in 2017—at its very worst—can breed. Everything evil a man can do to a country like this, at a time like this, in a span of four or eight years, Donald Trump will try to do. He'll try to make the vulnerable live in fear. He'll position himself as unreviewable by the media and government. He'll sow confusion.

And when his crimes are uncovered—and he's been a villain and criminal his whole adult life—he'll try to stoke violence to save himself. Trump is the most dangerous American of all our lifetimes—he's so dangerous we can't fully apprehend the danger or how to respond to it. He's everything people say—a pathological liar; a corrupt politician; a serial sexual assailant; and, yes, a traitor—but he's also more. He's an actually evil presence that hangs over your life—and the life of a nation you love—every single day. And he may be unstoppable. Is there any reason to trust future election results—now that we know Russia is hacking/interfering and Trump's doing *zero* to stop it?

And is there any reason to think the damage Trump has done to our political system can be solved in just a single American generation? And as he plunges us deeper into our Longest War and tries to start World War III in Asia, can we be certain lasting doom isn't ahead? My point: there is only one fight in America today that matters, because all other fights are ultimately a direct corollary to this one. If we want to save ourselves—and our country—Trump must be legally, peacefully and transparently removed from a position of power. ASAP.

P.S It's OK to finally indulge the idea that everything is as bad as you think it is if hitting rock-bottom gives you the courage to FIGHT."

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Return of Caligula?

"And no wonder, for Satan himself 
masquerades as an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14

I'm posting this for those of you (and I'm sure there are a few) who still support Donald Trump. This isn't going to be pretty, so you might want to move on now.

I've been going back and forth on this one, on whether or not to post it, for a while now. I'm fairly active in political groups on Facebook and I tweet and retweet on Twitter daily--but what I have to say now requires a much longer format, so here I am.

I've made no secret of my opposition to our current (and likely illegitimate) leader. I've been disappointed by the outcomes of elections before, but never concerned that the winner would destroy our country and perhaps even the world. I might not like some of their policies, but then, I've never agreed 100% with any candidate. As I've said before, I've never belonged to either party. I've just voted for whoever I felt would be best for the job. I'm pro-life--I don't think abortion should be legal except in cases where the mother's or baby's life is at risk. I had a child as a single mother. It wasn't easy--I was less prepared than most women for motherhood. But I look at Collin now and I can't imagine a world in which he would not exist. I can't take credit for how well he turned out (I think God just gave him the qualities he needed to survive such a pathetic excuse for a mother), but I'm glad I took the gift of life so seriously that abortion was never an option. Having him, being his mother, made me a better person--not perfect, just better.

I'm in favor of the Second Amendment. There might be a situation in which it would be a matter of life and death. I have no qualms about defending myself, my loved ones, or anyone else being threatened. Gay marriage? Not a lifestyle I'd choose for myself, but it's none of my business. It doesn't affect me, so I'll stay out of that fight. Transgender bathrooms? Opposed. Public restrooms have enough problems already. Deal with the broken latches on the doors and the toilet paper that should be on the rolls instead of in the floor before we figure out any other issues. It should be simple: if you have indoor plumbing, use the women's room; outdoor plumbing, men's room--no matter what you're wearing. 

I grew up in the rural Midwest. We weren't confused about our identities; we knew who and what we were. Most of us, at one time or another, wanted to be something we weren't, but we faced reality. I wonder if this identity confusion might be a factor in the rising number of suicides annually. 

But I've gotten off track here. Donald Trump. How did it come to this? How did we end up with a man so unqualified, so temperamentally unfit for the job, so self-absorbed and greedy as our 45th President? Was it voter manipulation by the Russian government? Partly. I'm convinced they were involved. But there's got to be more to it than that. I suspect it goes back to the 2008 election, when Barack Obama became our first African-American President. That had to infuriate the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, and their like. From the day President Obama was elected to his first term, I imagine they were, fueled by fury, working on getting him out of office as soon as possible. Yet he was still thankfully elected to a second term.

"Then Peter said, 'Now I understand that God 
doesn't play favorites.'"
Acts 10:34

Then there were the Evangelical Christians. Gay marriage was now legal in many states. It wasn't a matter of live and let live, though. Gay couples wanted to force Christian bakeries and wedding planners to handle their weddings, rather than find other bakers and planners who'd be happy to have the job. No--instead, they sued those who refused, sometimes driving them out of business. Another angry group fed up with political correctness. 

Add to that anger of the coal miners and others who were out of jobs because of EPA regulations. They felt no one in Washington was listening to them. No one in Washington cared. The 2016 election was coming up, and they were taking a stand. They wanted a new President who was an outsider, a problem solver, not someone who was part of the political establishment. The Democrats failed them. Instead of the popular independent running as a Democrat, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democrats were determined to have the nomination go to their choice, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who didn't inspire the Millennial voters who were so strongly behind Sanders.

We were ripe for the picking, when you think about it.

In spite of a large number of Republican candidates, Donald Trump took the lead early on. I'm still trying to figure out how anybody could see him as an outsider. It's no secret that most politicians are bought and paid for by wealthy donors--the so-called elite 1%. Think, people. Trump is one of them--one of the 1%! He's the guy who lines the pockets of politicians to get them to vote his way. Why did he bother to run for President instead of just buying himself a candidate? Simple. He wanted the attention. And for some reason, he thought everyone loved him. Surprise! He's divided our country as no leader before him ever has.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than
it is for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
Mark 10:25

Evangelical leaders took to social media, declaring him to be sent by God. Some even compared him to Jesus. I find that offensive. Jesus healed the sick--Trump and his GOP stooges want to take away healthcare for all but those who can afford high insurance premiums. Jesus told the rich man to sell all he owned and give the money to the poor (Matthew 19:21). Trump and Co. are followers of the so-called Prosperity Gospels, believing that God wants everyone to be rich (this is why I have issues with organized religion). Jesus despised sin; Trump embraces it. Jesus was humble; Trump is an arrogant braggart who's all about profit, all about himself and his needs. Jesus lived as a poor man; Trump lived in the Tacky Palace high about Manhattan. Trump has, by all accounts, unapologetically committed every one of the seven deadly sins.

Yes, God chooses those who are broken, sinners he can transform to show the world it's his hand at work. The keyword here is transform. Trump hasn't changed, at least not visibly. He's not an example to follow. Yet follow they do.

This is what I find most troubling. In the past, presidents who fell from grace lost the favor of even their most devoted supporters. Not so in the case of Donald Trump. He once said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his followers would still support him. That may be the most truthful statement he's ever made. They would. And that's unnatural.

He's signed the Religious Liberty executive order--supposedly to benefit churches, but actually a means to allow tax-exempt churches to oppose or endorse political candidates. Good for politicians, bad for churches. In fact, having seen countless posts online by Christians who are devastated at having to leave their churches because the political arguments have become too much to bear. It's tearing the churches apart--not something God would want, but I can think of someone who would....

I've been disheartened by posts declaring God to be dead or nonexistent because "if there were a God, how could this man be in the White House?"

"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you 
who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, 
because the devil has gone down to you! 
He is filled with fury, because he
knows that his time is short."  
                                                Revelation 12:12

Some believe Trump was sent by God as a test; some believe he's been sent as a punishment for our godlessness. Others wonder if he's something much more sinister. I don't know. I know something is not normal. I believe that we as a nation are weaker under his questionable leadership than we have ever been. I believe the world is at risk. We have two unstable leaders, Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea, making threats, playing chicken with the nukes.

Not a good place to be.

Years ago, I asked our pastor if the Book of Revelation is literal or symbolic, expecting a long discussion of it. Nope. He said, quite simply, "It comes down to one question: are you ready?"

Are we?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Once Again, I've Missed the Boat!

Unless you've been living under a rock, or maybe on the moon, you've heard that a civilian expedition led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has found the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, seventy-two years after it was torpedoed and sunk in the south Pacific. Unless you've been living on another planet, you know that the Indianapolis was instrumental in the US victory in World War II, having delivered parts of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima to Tinian Island. The Indianapolis was en route to the Phillippines when it was sunk.

Back in 1994, Berkley published my novel, Luck of the Draw, part of which took place during World War II. A pivotal scene in the novel was set aboard the Indianapolis, where my protagonist met a young man from an affluent background, Spencer Randall. Spencer didn't survive the attack, but Frankie, a rough young man from Chicago, did. Frankie was found with Spencer's dog tags. Long story short, he assumed Spencer Randall's identity and returned to the US to build a financial empire.

Why am I bringing this up now? I recently decided not to reissue all of my backlist. I'd changed as a writer. The glitz and glamour of my previous writing identity was no longer me. Would reissuing those old books help or hurt my new books' sales? I'll never know. For one thing, I haven't published anything new since 2009. Anyway, Luck of the Draw was one of the books that didn't make the cut. Would the discovery of the Indianapolis now help that book's sales? Who knows.

I'm still kicking myself....

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Aboard the Medical Merry-Go-Round!

First, we were told too much sitting is bad for us. It increases the risk for some cancers, type 2 diabetes and other medical issues. Stand more, the medical community told us. You'll live longer. Now, it seems too much standing can lead to heart disease, according to a recent Canadian study.

What's left? Lying down all day? I could get on board with that.

I saw a comment online from someone in their late seventies who says he ignores all the studies. He eats whatever he wants in moderation--including junk food--and gets moderate exercise. Late seventies? He seems to have done something right.

Think about it. How many studies have contradicted each other over the years? First, a fatty diet was bad. Then it was carbs. Don't eat chocolate, they said. Then we were told chocolate is good for us--dark chocolate, anyway. Don't use whole milk--skim is better (for the record, skim tastes like water). Now, whole milk is not only okay, but better, according to some researchers. Eggs were taboo for years. Now it's okay to eat eggs. Soda is bad. Drink diet soda--now, diet soda is the villain.

And then there are the medications that are supposed to help us deal with some of the health problems that can result for eating or drinking some of those things we've been consuming. Have you seen the TV ads? 

Looks good, until you get the long list of side effects and warnings that come with just about every drug on the market. Makes you want to run to your doctor and ask for a prescription, doesn't it?

It makes me want to STOP taking some of the stuff I'm currently using.