A Short Story

This is the story of a bonsai plant, so by definition, it is a short story.

Monday, May 7, 2018

My Mom and I have had our differences over the years, but last week was Mother’s Day, and she’s still my mother, so I decided my wife and I should send her a small gift. I dislike flowers, partly because of the markup, partly because it’s so predictable, but mostly because of their short shelf life. So, I decided a plant would be a more lasting gift.

Since everything in the universe is online these days, I just pointed my browser at 1-800-Flowers and looked for their Mother’s Day plant suggestions.

Mom’s in a condo, so there’s not a lot of extra space for gardening, and one of the suggestions was a bonsai azalea. That sounded a bit exotic, nice and small, still very pretty, and within my price range. So, I ordered that for Mom, a doggie bouquet for my wife (from our Chihuahua) and called it done.

I was proud of myself – even with the Mother’s Day rush in full tilt, I had gotten the order placed in time enough where my wife’s gift would arrive Thursday, Mom’s on Friday, both before Mother’s Day with room for error and minimal excess delivery charges. Yea, me!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A flower bouquet arrived at our door. The enclosed card said it was for my wife from our Chihuahua, Rocky, and specifically said it was only from him and not our other dogs. Quite funny, even though that’s the third time I’ve put that on a card. Everybody in my house is happy.

Friday, May 11, 2018

I got a note on a different subject from Mom, replied to her, and in her reply to my reply, she thanked us for the beautiful plant. So, both gifts are delivered, Mother’s Day is coming up, everything is done. Yea, me!

For a normal person, this would be the end of the blog post. Sigh.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day. My brother was taking Mom out to brunch with some of his friends and their Moms, so we had lunch with my in-laws. Everybody’s covered. Life is good.

After I got home, I received an apology email with a $20 credit from 1-800-Flowers for letting me down. Hmm. As far as I knew, everything was delivered. I actually saw one gift arrive and got a thank you note for the other. So, I figured it was a systems error from the insanity of Mother’s Day at a nationwide florist, and forgot about it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

I got an email notice that my Mom’s gift would be delivered on Tuesday. So, that explains the apology note, since they had completely missed Mother’s Day. Wait. Why did I get a thank you note on Friday? There are a number of medical conditions running in my family, but clairvoyance is not one of them.

Maybe they just sent a placeholder bouquet until the real gift arrived, but they never mentioned that in the note.

I was confused. This is not the first time I have been confused about gifts.

Maybe I should ask my Mom. I sent her a quick, “Hey, I got a really strange email” note.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

(Happy Birthday, Ellie!)

Mom replied to my note. In fact, we had a stream of notes that day. I will attempt to summarize.

She had received a box on Friday with a tray, some pebbles for drainage, care instructions and a six-inch azalea in full bloom. However, there was no bonsai plant.

I started having flashbacks to my first long train ride with my son, when he was six or so. By the time we were an hour out of San Antonio, he had gone through everything I had brought along (snacks, books, coloring books) for the twelve-hour trip. So, I said, “Why not just look out the window at the scenery for a while?” He said, “There isn’t any scenery, just rocks and cows.”

There is no bonsai, just a small flower bush.

So, Mom had called 1-800-Flowers. (Mom and my wife call people. I use chat and email. My wife and I have a long-running debate about which is more effective.)

After a discussion with the (probably off-shore) customer support line, the 1-800-Flowers representative had agreed to send another plant for delivery on Saturday.

Hmm. That would explain the $20 credit.

The plant did not arrive Saturday, so Mom called back – and amazingly got the same customer sales representative (thank you, Evelyn, for helping Mom). They were becoming close. The delivery was assured for Sunday.

Nothing arrived Sunday, so Mom called back. Same customer service representative, who now recognized my Mom’s voice. (You would think they would have CallerID so they could swap repeat customers.) Monday, for sure.

That explained the delivery notice for Monday that I received for a gift that had been delivered Friday.

I was beginning to have visions of a bonsai forest on my Mom’s balcony.

So, I emailed Mom the picture of the bonsai azalea from the website, to show what I had chosen. Surely, that will clear everything up.

To her credit, she only called in the first place because she wanted to receive what I had selected. It never occurred to her that I would actually select a bonsai azalea. I’m not really sure what that says about what she thinks about my taste.

To her further credit, she does not consider a miniature azalea to be a bonsai plant. I checked Wikipedia a while ago, and it says that bonsai is a cultivation method, which means (I believe) that technically any full-size plant could be raised as a bonsai plant, given the time and patience. Speaking of patience, I’m not sure I have the energy to explain to Mom how to update the Wikipedia page to her definition. Maybe she can call Evelyn to have it corrected.

So, Mom now has two bonsai azaleas, whether they are bonsai or not. I have a good name for my next band (“Ladies and gentlemen …. Bonsai Azaleas!”)

I received another apology with another $20 credit from 1-800-Flowers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Popcorn Factory sent me an email that said they were having a sale on popcorn tins. My grandkids love popcorn. It’s a sale. I like cheap popcorn. So, I was about to hit the order button, when I realized that 1-800-Flowers owns The Popcorn Factory. So, I used one of the apology credits to send my grandkids some really cheap popcorn.

Win-win.

Aftermath

As in, the math after it’s all over. So, I spent $39.99 on a bonsai azalea to attempt to make my Mom happy. Instead, Mom got two bonsai azaleas, a personal quest that kept her busy over the lulls in Mother’s Day weekend, and a new friend in the Philippines. I got $40 in credits. The kids got popcorn. My wife got a flower arrangement from a Chihuahua. I got a really strange blog post, even for me.

I never saw Mother’s Day as an investment opportunity, but so it goes.

I may have to use the other $20 to get my Mom some miniature tools so she can keep her azaleas small. There is nothing more embarrassing than a large bonsai azalea.

Next year, I will just toss a small plant at her and say it is a kamikaze azalea.

Stayin’ Alive

The job search continues. It’s been a bit busier lately, but nothing of substance yet. There were a couple that were close, but not close enough. I’m still looking at random alternatives, and there are a lot of sites that seem to think I would be a really good Uber driver. There are also a plethora of recruiters who seem to be keyword-matching my resume to jobs and then asking to present me – if I send them a copy of my resume. Uh, how did you think I was a fit for the job? Maybe I should start a recruiting company.

We’re not going to sell the house and get an RV since the Spousal Unit has decided she’s probably afraid to drive an RV. Luckily, she determined this before we dropped a hundred fifty grand on a rig (and sold the house), so I have that to be thankful for.

I’m also thankful that this year can’t possibly be as bad as last year. (Yes, I realize that is a challenge to the universe.) However, I realize that every other time I thought I had hit rock bottom, I bounced, and then fell further, but I’m pretty sure that losing a job after 19 years (“retiring”) is about as low as it can go. If nothing else, I outlasted the co-op who also wanted to retire as an IBMer. Also, technically, I retired. On the bright side, it was a job I really hated. I didn’t hate the job, I just couldn’t handle the politics. So, if you need a program manager and you’re at a company that’s too small to have politics and turf wars take up most of the productive time, call me.

So, I’m still alive. The dogs still like me as long as I cough up the snacks. I can still work, if somebody needs a presales technical engineer who can learn a product in a week or two and be presenting to customers the week after that. I’m constantly amazed that even though I’m apparently very old, companies seem to be choosing millennials over me, especially since I’ve seen millennials almost pass out while doing a presentation, and use instant messaging to ask a question of someone in the same conference room. For the record, I’ve never passed out doing a presentation, and I just ask questions if I don’t know something.

So, my New Year’s resolution is to survive until 2019. It’s one of my poorer resolutions, but hopefully, I can accomplish it.

The Times They Are a Changin’

So, my daughter-in-law called the house this afternoon, and said that Carson (grandson #2) wanted to talk to “GrandmaGrandpa”. In his mind, we are a single unit, and either word can be used for either of us. I’m “Grandma” from time to time, if he’s excited or not paying attention, or he’s asking me so I don’t feel left out, but he really wants Grandma’s opinion. So, if you get the collective noun “GrandmaGrandpa”, he’s serious.

Grandma was out saving the universe, but I said if I was good enough alone, I was happy to talk to him. So, my daughter-in-law said, “Call us back!” and I said “Facebook Messenger?” and she said “Yes.”

A little less than nine minutes later, we were done. Everybody was happy. Thirty seconds after we disconnected, my iPad chimed. My granddaughter had just realized she missed GrandmaGrandpa, and she wanted a turn.

A couple minutes after that, all the grandkids were heading off to bed, and I was waiting to go to dinner.

That’s when it hit me – just how much technology has changed just in my lifetime, and how my grandchildren’s assumptions are wildly different than mine were as a child.

When I was growing up, it never would have occurred to me to call either of my grandparents – one set in Providence, Rhode Island, and the other in D’Hanis, Texas. I’m glad it never occurred to me, because I can only imagine what it would have cost, paying AT&T by the minute to talk long distance. (Then, I can only imagine what my Dad would have said.)

I started thinking about how Carson called me today, and how he takes a lot of things for granted that still seem a bit magical to me – and I’m in IT.

First, his Mom called our house phone, which isn’t even analog any more – it’s Voice over IP digital. She called on her cell phone, because my kids don’t have a home phone at all. I’m not sure they ever have. If you want my son, call his cell. If you want my daughter-in-law, call her cell. Better yet, text them.

We keep our house phone because we tend to use our cell phones for data more than talk, and because it’s handy to have one number that can get either or both of us (sometimes.) We really don’t need it any longer, but it’s a representation of GrandmaGrandpa.

So, phone service has completely changed, not only in my lifetime, but in the last thirty years or so. (I would have to look up when the cell phone became widespread.)

So, in one generation, we went from analog dial service to Voice over IP and cell service. Some people dropped their home phones completely.

Carson doesn’t want to “talk” to us. He wants to see us. When he says, “Call GrandmaGrandpa”, he means “video conference”, he just doesn’t know that is a thing.

I remember when we got video conferencing equipment at work – it was very expensive, very fragile, and worked somewhat, as long as you were talking to a matching system in one of your other offices. (I had a job interview a couple of weeks ago that was a video conference with some managers in Chicago. I had to go to the Dallas office, and be ushered into a special room where I could see myself on one screen and the interviewers on another. I remember thinking, “Well, it did make me dress up and get out of the house, and they won’t hear my dogs, but what’s wrong with Skype?”)

Carson’s assumption is that you can look at Mom’s iPad in Ohio and see GrandmaGrandpa in Texas and there’s no magic at all – that’s just how it works. Everyone knows that. “Call GrandmaGrandpa”.

So, in less than a generation we went from voice being the norm to video being available to anyone with a cell phone or a tablet with WiFi and a Facebook account.

Wait. When did WiFi show up?

I remember my first Internet account – which I got so I would have an email account. I pestered the admins until they told me where to put web pages and how to get to it, so they hosted my first web site. It was a dial-up account on a system in Massachusetts. I used to pay long distance to edit my webpages and collect my email every day – not that I got much. I learned a lot of basic Unix, because it was the only way to get it to work.

Then, we had Prodigy and AOL, and we could dial a local number to get to the Internet. Man, that was high tech. When you heard the right scrambling noises, you knew you were connecting. You were about to be online. Modems were cool.

(My Dad was still paying for AOL account access even though he had DSL at the house and unlimited Internet. I converted it  to a free account after he passed away. I had to keep the account because my Mom still uses her AOL email. I turned my old address back on, just for old times sake.)

So, we’ve had a lot of technology appear in the past few years that the current generation assumes was always there. We’ve suffered through a lot of early versions and failed attempts that they will never see.

I had a flashback to a discussion with my son when he was young, and I was trying to explain to him that I didn’t have video games when I was growing up. I’m not sure he ever believed me. (I still need to find him an electric football game.)

So, Carson, remind me to send you an email about the good old days, and phones you had to dial with a dial. You could ask GiGi Mary about having to pick up the phone first, to see if any of the neighbors were already using it. In the meantime, if you need me for anything, just say, “Alexa, call GrandmaGrandpa.”

The Essence of Ripley

Two more memories of Ripley, both involving sleep.

When our first dog, Bubba, came home, he seemed to have some behavior issues. These culminated in his marking my side of the bed (ick!) His trainer said he was trying to assert dominance, and the procedure to stop it was easy: you tied him on a short lead to the bedpost, so he could sleep near us, but not on the bed with us. After a couple of days, Virginia caved and removed the lead – but Bubba slept on the bed, and no more dominance issues. He learned his lesson.

With Ripley, we decided prevention was better than cure. We tied him to the bed with a short lead, and went to sleep. In the morning, he was sleeping on the bed. On a very short lead. The rest of the lead was still attached to the bedpost. It was in his way, so he had just chewed through it, so he could sleep where he wanted. He learned a slightly different lesson than Bubba had. Advantage, Ripley.

Virginia and Ripley had an ongoing battle on sleeping by the side of the bed. They each wanted to sleep on the outside, nearest the side of the bed. (Ripley’s sister Katie sleeps next to me on the side of the bed now, but if she wants to sleep next to the side of the bed, I don’t care. It keeps me further away from the monsters.)

Virginia asserted her dominance and put Ripley between us, so she could have the outside lane. Once she was asleep, Ripley jumped out of bed, went over to her side, and started scratching on the bed. Virginia moved over. Ripley jumped up and slept where he wanted. Advantage, Ripley.

Un Poquito Espanol

I have been dealing with our corporate team in Latin America lately. They are lovely people, very easy to work with, but their customers all speak Spanish. This has been a challenge. I took Spanish in prep school, never did that well, and never practiced after that.

The first internal call with the team, I apologized and explained I knew “Bar Spanish.” It is a very simple dialect:

  • “Una cerveza, poor favor.” (A beer, please.)
  • “Uno mas.” (One more – can be repeated.)
  • “Gracias.” (Thank you – after each delivery.)
  • “Manana.” (See you tomorrow.)

They found this quite funny (whew.) I did not cuss in Spanish, which I learned in college, although not officially. The problem with Bar Spanish is that it only works in Cozumel, and they all speak English there, anyway.

Most of the rest of the basic Spanish I remember is “Una cerveza y dos helados” which is “one beer and two ice creams.”

It was from a story we had to read in sixth grade, a picture book using basic phrases as captions for each picture. I never understood why a Dad would order beer while getting his kids ice cream. Then, I had my child.With grandkids, I would have to learn “one defibrillator and three ice creams.” 

For the record, my former manager (current translator) told the Latin America team about beer and ice cream, and they found it hilarious. At least laughter is the same in English and Spanish. I hope.

There’s Trouble a’Brewin’

I started drinking coffee because years ago, one of my bosses had a secretary that would bring him coffee, and after we went out a couple of times, she would bring me coffee, too. It pays to sit next to your boss’ office. It pays to date the coffee maker. (The person who makes coffee, not the machine.) (Yes, this was a long, long time ago. At my current job, nobody has secretaries but upper management, and they have assistants, and they don’t make coffee. Well, they might, but if you’re in Dallas and your assistant is in Raleigh, it doesn’t help much.)

That started a long addiction to the bean-flavored hot water.

I’ve had fresh-brewed coffee, stale-brewed coffee, coffee from random machines, Starbucks (it gives me a headache), instant coffee, you name it.

Eventually, I became a bit of a coffee snob. I went from instant to brewed coffee to grinding beans just before brewing. I even roasted my own beans. Once.

I spent years on the Gevalia plan, getting overpriced coffee shipped to my door, so I could grind beans every morning, and make a fresh pot. (Being home-officed means you are in charge of your own coffee.) I finally gave it up to prove to the Spousal Unit that I could give up my frivolous spending, but it just encouraged her to increase hers, since we were saving money elsewhere.

If I had to go into the office, there was a QuikTrip on the way, and I like their coffee. Plus, the drive there was about as long as it took my diuretic to kick in, so win-win.

Over time, slowly, I stopped grinding. I suppose it was because I found that I could order Wawa coffee (after having it every day while visiting the in-laws) but they didn’t have beans, just ground. It may also be because I am getting lazy. One less thing to clean, one less thing to do.

So, Wawa is pre-ground. But it’s good.

So, I went from “Frankly, I feel that if you don’t grind your own beans, you are not receiving the essence of coffee” to “Wawa good. Brew now.”

That was the first step into darkness.

The next issue was that the Spousal Unit gave up coffee. So, now, when I made a pot of ten to twelve cups (aka three to four mugs) in the morning, I was drinking it. All of it.

Wow. That will raise your heart rate, especially when coupled with constant conference calls.

That is just too much coffee, even for me.

So, I needed a way to make less, and I really don’t like how coffee tastes when you try to brew only a couple of cups in a big machine. I got down to making about three mugs, which was less waste, but it still took a while to brew, and I was usually behind schedule in the mornings.

That lead to the … evil … K-Cup.

There were only a few things in the coffee world I had said I would never do.

  • I had made instant (shudder!)
  • I skipped coffee, had soda or tea and survived the mornings, but would have a headache in the afternoon.
  • I had used an Italian stovetop espresso machine (and not blown up the kitchen), after I had to go buy espresso cups.
  • I had used a French Press (Spousal Unit broke it.) Actually, I had a large one and a small one.
  • I had used a vacuum pot (Spousal Unit broke it.)
  • I had made cold brew coffee, the last time it was in vogue – it’s coming back again.
  • I had used an aluminum percolator like my Grandmother had, just without putting eggshells in it to mellow the brew.
  • I had used a single-cup drip coffee maker that was really just a filter holder that sat on top of a cup.
  • I had a four-cup machine, a ten-cup machine and a twelve-cup machine (Spousal Unit broke the carafe.)
  • I ended up with a twelve-cup machine with a reservoir for the coffee and nothing made of glass that the Spousal Unit could break.

However, I had never used a single-cup K-Cup machine.

I don’t know what my original objection was, since I’m old and rather forgetful, but it was a pretty strong objection, let me tell you.

So, now I have a single-cup brewer. In my defense, it will also brew grounds and pods (if you can find pods), so I’m not stuck with just K-Cups. It’s a multi-tasker. Sort of.

Now, I can make one cup of coffee at a time. It takes two minutes, which is a lot less time than brewing a pot of coffee. In fact, I can get one cup brewed while I’m removing the previous cup from my system. Efficient.

Single-cup tasted better when somebody was bringing it to me. However, I’m not wasting a half a pot any more, and that bothered me a lot.

The only issue is that the K-Cup universe thinks 10oz is a large cup. Have these people never been to Wawa? QuikTrip? 7-11? (I leave Starbucks out, since I do not make enough to enjoy a large cup of Starbucks coffee.)

Luckily, the cups that came with our dish set are the perfect size for single-cup use. Now, I know why they were so tiny. Otherwise, you just brew twice into the same cup. This is non-optimal, obviously, because who has four minutes to wait for coffee?

I still make a pot of coffee on days I will need it – say, more than two meetings. The rest of the time, it’s one at a time.

Wawa sells K-cup pods.

Life is good.

Recycling The Hits

Television commercials need background music, so the easiest path is to find an old song and license it – it also helps target the commercial to a particular audience. (If I hear 70s music, it’s probably pointed at me. 60s music? Burned-out baby burners. I’m still burning, so not me. Really loud music? Old folks. Porn music? ED sufferers.)

The problem for me is that I always react to the song and not to the ad. Remember the brouhaha when Michael Jackson let Nike (I think) use “Revolution”? It’s the same thing. I think it was Nike. I’m pretty sure it was Nike. I know what the song was.

I had the same issue with “Bad Moon Rising” which was in somebody’s ad recently. All I could think was “CCR? Really?” I have no idea who the sponsor was. They have good taste in music, but “Bad Moon Rising” is not exactly cheerful – the music may be, but the lyrics aren’t. John Fogerty said it was about the coming apocalypse. That should sell sneakers.

I wonder about how successful this methodology really is. I suppose if you’re a person who hears the music and flashes momentarily to your (hopefully happy) teenage years, and you don’t think about the lyrics too much, or the fact that some of the players are no longer with us, then it may work, and get you to actually watch the commercial.

However, in my house, at least, the music in commercials just annoys my wife, because I will immediately start by identifying the music, then discussing the origins of the song, rehashing any trivia I know about the song, explaining why the lyrics make no sense for the given commercial, given the product in question, and not paying attention to any of the brand messaging. Worse, sometimes my song lectures (which apparently are not as interesting to all as to me) will make me fast-forward past the resumption of the show. So, music in commercials can be hazardous to my health.

At long last, the point I was going to make – as in, the song that finally made me write this down.

The other night, we were watching something on the DVR, so I was about to spin past the commercials, when the opening guitars from ELO’s “Do Ya” started playing. I love that song. The lyrics are a bit sketchy in places, but the guitars are great.

I mean:

I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides

Methinks Jeff Lynne may have listened to “I Am the Walrus” a few too many times over the years.

So, the commercial in question was probably pointed at me and my generation. However, the end result was that I paused the DVR, went and played the song on my iPad while the Spousal Unit went to get a refill in the kitchen, and I then I skipped over the commercial. Plus, I missed the next section of the show we were watching, trying to figure out why pigs were watching picture slides. I’m almost forty years older now than the first time I heard this song, and I still don’t know what the hell Jeff Lynne is talking about – but the guitars are still great.

I’ve had “Do Ya” stuck in my head for three days. Three days. Three freakin’ days. I have no idea what the commercial was selling.

Thank you, Jeff Lynne. I can’t get it out of my head. Yes, I see the irony. (See? Music trivia. I can’t help myself.)

Rights

A long time ago, I was taught a brief sentence in a political science class. It should be a summary of resolving all disputes between people. Its origins are cloudy, but it applies more today than ever before:

Your rights end where my nose begins.

You can swing around all you want, but if you hit me, that’s an issue. The Left does not understand or respect this, which is the genesis of all of the Culture Wars and crises of the past few years.

Think about marriage.

A secular marriage was a state-issued contract between a man and a woman. Now, it’s between any two people. Fine. Whatever. That’s the law. it was a poorly-conceived opinion in many eyes, but it created a right, so that’s the law. It also got tons of “Likes” on Facebook, which if you read the opinion, is what the Justice was apparently trying to achieve.

I think it’s bad law. I think it was a horrible decision. However, the results don’t bother me – the process that created the results do.

My belief is that there shouldn’t be a law either way. The State should not be in the marriage business. Anything the State regulates eventually causes conflict because somebody is on the wrong side of the regulation. Also, it’s not like marriages are regulated very well, since some people have collected so many of them.

A sacramental marriage is a secular marriage blessed by a minister of a Church. Each Church may have different ideas about what constitutes a valid couple for marriage than the State does. For now. A Church may also have different ideas about what it takes to invalidate a marriage, since the civil contract is relatively easy to cancel.

The point many are missing is that changing the law does not change people’s beliefs. It also does not make those beliefs invalid. The State is not in charge of beliefs. This is where the swinging is hitting peoples’ noses.

So, any two gay people can get married. However, many of the early couples seemed hellbent on finding service providers who are not comfortable (for any number of reasons) with the concept of gay marriage and then suing them out of existence when they won’t comply.

There is a word for this. Bullying. Isn’t that what the gay community has been fighting against all these years? Maybe the Human Rights Campaign should help protect those whose religious beliefs go against what some potential customers demand.

I’m happy to officiate any marriage ceremony, but I’m happier if I know the couple ahead of time. I’m an ordained minister. I have a laminated card and everything. I think it’s up to you who you choose as a life partner. I also do hope it lasts forever, because I’m divorced, and the divorce was one of the most painful periods of my life, and forever altered my relationships with my family, my friends and my Church. If your partnership is legal, since the State pushed its way into it, I’ll officiate it and try not to judge. However, if I was not comfortable performing the ceremony, why couldn’t you just find a minister who is? It’s not like I’m the only lapsed Catholic, divorced and re-married, online-ordained minister out there. Do you really want unhappy people forced to work at your most important day?

There are levels in the Universe.

I can fight for your rights. I can support your rights. I can accept your rights. I can tolerate your rights. I shouldn’t have to participate, if it is against my beliefs. My not participating does not prevent your right to get married.

Why is the Left not happy until everyone believes what they believe? You won. Stop being sore winners.

You have the right to get married. People have the right to follow their religious beliefs. Neither right is stronger than the other. However, the State should not compel people to go against their religious beliefs for commerce, and that is what is happening. This is not “I hate those people because of their color or condition”. This is “I fervently believe this ceremony is invalid in the eyes of my God, and I do not want to take part in this ceremony.” It’s about the ceremony, it’s not about the people. All of the recent decisions basically say the right to be gay is better than the right to be religious.

I am not very religious. I’m more spiritual, as in, “There is a God, but He’s not paying much attention to what’s going on down here, except apparently for global warming – and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t actually give a shit about global warming”. I do not feel particularly welcome in my Church because of my divorce. However, we all have the right to believe what we believe, as long as it doesn’t harm others, and we shouldn’t have others tell us that we’re wrong and we have to do it their way. If I don’t have Baptists or Methodists dragging me to services every Sunday, why do gay people want to drag me to their weddings?

It certainly would be easier for the religious people to just do the gay weddings, smug in the knowledge that the happy couple will someday burn in Hell for all eternity. However, that’s not how many of those people believe. They don’t want to be involved at all. They don’t want to become collateral damage. Why can’t those people just be left out of it?

If you wouldn’t take your vegetarian, PETA-supporting, lesbian friend to a dog fight, maybe you shouldn’t force religious strangers to celebrate your gay wedding.

Voter Suppression

I think that the major problem with our country is not people actively trying to keep other people from voting, it’s that we keep putting idiots in charge of the basic mechanics.

Texas has a Voter ID law now. Finally. Yes, I think it is a reasonable requirement. If you have to show ID before you meet the President, why shouldn’t you have to show ID before you vote for one?

There are seven – seven – types of ID that are acceptable for proving your identity to vote in Texas.

  • Texas Drivers License
  • Texas Voter ID card (Free. From any DPS office. Some mobile stations. Offices open Saturday to enable people to get cards.)
  • Texas Personal ID card (a drivers license that doesn’t let you drive)
  • Texas Concealed Handgun License
  • Military ID
  • US Citizenship or Naturalization Certificate
  • US Passport

I looked at these, and I’ve got two of them, which means I’m not eligible for a Voter ID card and I don’t need a Personal ID card, and to me, the most stringent was a US Passport – you needed a certified birth certificate to get it and it was from the federal government.

So, I took my passport to the polling place this morning. The poll worker said “We can’t take passports for identification.” WTF? It has a photo. It has my name. It’s a government document. My name on it matches the voter rolls. IT’S ON THE LIST.

I’m a Libertarian, so instead of starting a major scene (though I thought about it) or protesting outside the polls or busing in illegal voters from other States or countries to actually suppress my vote, I just said, “It’s first on the list” (politely leaving out “you dumbass”), and sighed, and gave him my drivers license. Always have multiple forms of ID when you need an ID. Prepare ahead. You will find stupid people whenever there is a governmental entity involved.

So, now we have a young, very confused-looking black male telling an old white guy that he can’t take his valid ID and let him vote – WHEN IT’S ON THE LIST – would seem to me the exact opposite of what was supposed to be happening at the polls, according to the doomsayers. Maybe the Democrats don’t want old white guys who can afford to travel internationally to be able to vote.

He took my drivers license. I voted. It’s over. I reported it to the Texas Secretary of State. (No reply yet.)

However, as long as our elections are run by dumbshits who don’t know their own rules, we are going to have election problems.

Never look for viciousness when ignorance is the most likely explanation.

How to build a community

A lot of companies spend lots of money trying to get people to join their online community. To some, a community is a Facebook page (“Like us!”), or a Twitter feed (“Follow us!”) or an Instagram account (“Look at us!”)

When I moved demobox.org (an old domain I’ve had forever) off my Domino server at home and onto GoDaddy’s hosting, I put WordPress up so I could play with it. (I love wordpress.com but it’s not like you are in charge.)

I have four members.

WTF?

I’m still trying to determine how a backwater site with no apparent value or content has managed to get four members. So far.

I can’t wait to see if they try to post.

Maybe I should change my title to “Marketing Consultant.”

Sad Update (9 August 2014)

Well, it’s very easy to get multiple members, apparently. They’re all spam members. So, I’ve turned membership off on all my WordPress sites until I can get better protection from idiots. This may be impossible.