Preparing to vote in the 2018 Local Elections

I want to put it out there I am no expert in local politics. This is my first time paying attention to local events. I know I should have taken an interest in the past, the giant pile of postcards I have received from local candidates in the past few weeks seems to have done the trick.

The info I am providing is based on a very minimal bit of research but it’s my hopes that it will point you in the right direction to collect similar information for your location.

Search Term: (Enter your city) Election Candidates.

I checked out various sites until I found one from the local newspaper that provided a list of the candidates and a brief description of most of them (the ones who would participate). It included a statement from each of them describing what they feel is a pressing issue and how much funds the raised and who donated. It also includes info as to if they have a shady past and who is endorsing them.

The two issues that came up repeatedly for my city was improving the city water issues and cleaning up the corruption in our city’s governing board.

Search Term: 2018 Florida Election Amendments

https://communitynewspapers.com/sunny-isles/the-12-constitutional-amendments-on-florida-2018-ballot/

This is just one article that I found that provides a list of the amendments being proposed and a brief description with links providing more description. I want to make an effort to learn a little bit more about each ballot since there is much more going on that what we read from the way the amendment is worded. And what about when there are two unrelated things put together like this?

Amendment 7 – First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities

Providing tuition and other benefits for the surviving family members of first responders and military personnel killed in action is the goal of amendment 7. This one also requires university trustees to agree by a two-thirds super-majority vote before raising college fees.

I’m skeptical of putting two things together. In this case, the first part about providing tuition and benefits sound good, and I’m all for that, but where are those funds coming from and who will be managing this program? Suppose there’s not a good plan for that yet? Or maybe I do want to vote for that but there is a good reason not to vote yes on the second part about trustees agreeing by two-thirds to raise college fees?

I plan to look into each amendment further in coming days. I share this info with you to think about what is happening at a local level since that affects our daily lives. I hope it will inspire you to be prepared to cast your votes.

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Hitler Wanted to be an Artist

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/HitlerMaryWithJesus.jpg
Mother Mary with the Holy Child Jesus Christ 1913

Here is something crazy I learned recently. Hitler wanted to be a painter and was rejected from art school. He painted a lot of paintings too. You can find out more at https://allthatsinteresting.com/hitlers-paintingsn and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paintings_by_Adolf_Hitler.

I actually like the details and the subjects of his paintings. It’s unfortunate that his creativity was muted and his life took the direction it took. The article ponders the obvious, how different the world would have been if he had gotten into art school. One can only imagine the heartbreak in Hitler’s backstory that occurred starting with this event to his rise as a dictator.

 

It makes me think about what is the need to critique people’s art – and even their actions. Yes surely, without some direction we can’t improve, but someone took the time to create a piece of work, why is it necessary for someone to judge what is good or not good about it? Some works might speak to one person more than another, but it holds meaning for the creator.

I remember writing a short poem in college and receiving feedback from the professor (who was a great teacher by the way) something along the lines of the poem being vague and not making sense. However, I remember reading that same poem years later and it made sense to me and I remembered what I was talking about. Perhaps I’m wrong and if that were a poem for the public it would have to be more understandable, but to me, that poem expressed what I wanted it to and I was always content with that. It’s the same with a short story, there aren’t very many I completed, but once I was satisfied with a story, I didn’t really care what feedback I received. (Since I’m usually very critical of my dedication to my writing, I’m taking a moment here to be pleased with myself.)

Our present time is full of criticism. Even the news can’t just report the facts without offering an opinion, and opinion is just that one person’s thought or a particular group’s thought. It would be nice if instead of being so ready to criticize, people could relax and focus on something better.

Hitler is an extreme case, but perhaps violence we currently experience starts out as a seed of criticism and grows like a weed, and eventually takes over. Our own criticism of ourselves, that no one may ever even hear, can keep us from doing things that make our souls happy. Our criticism of others could cause them to misdirect their own frustration at innocent people who couldn’t even begin to know what is bubbling below the surface.

I don’t exactly know how to do this, I could very easily have a critical thought or make a remark moments after completing this post, but the fact that Hitler wanted to be an artist and devastated by criticism is hard to forget.

The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich
The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich

The Ups and Downs of Change

A lot of the time things change when we’re not ready. We’re just getting settled in something new and some outside force completely discombobulates the situation. Or we are quite comfortable and happy and something unexpected turns everything upside down. For example, I’ll have a few weeks where I go to the gym consistently and then I get sick or I have to work overtime and it throws me off and it takes me a few more weeks to get back into the habit. Perhaps a friend moves away or a new person comes into the mix which can throw things off. Our expectations are shattered like a broken mirror or puzzle that has been disassembled. It’s easy to get frustrated and wish things hadn’t changed.

Change can come when you really want it and that is beautiful. We have a new pastor at my church. The previous pastor had been there eighteen years, was in his early seventies and had health problems so he needed a break from being the main person responsible for the parish. He said the new pastor was younger and more energetic and would come with new ideas to handle the challenges of the parish. Our old pastor was quite wise and seemed to know everything about everything from science to history to fixing things and it seems a little strange seeing a new pastor at the altar, but I do find this change refreshing. It’s nice to hear a new perspective in the homily and see that he’s already made a number of small improvements in the two weeks he’s been here.

We may think we want a change but it doesn’t quite go as we expected. Last month I switched from an iPhone 7 to a Samsung Galaxy Eclipse because I haven’t been a fan of some of the changes Apple has made to the iPhone recently. My reason for switching and that experience could be its own blog post so to stay focused on my original topic I will say that I returned to Apple and now have an iPhone 8. I switched back because although I liked many of the things about the Samsung phone and thought I didn’t like many of the things about iPhones now, it because obvious there are other things I do like about the iPhone and those matter more that what I don’t like.

We can’t predict if the changes we experience will go the way we expect (both good predictions and bad predictions) but there’s something about the way life works that things fall into place again sooner or later. We can take a moment and see that somehow the fragmented pieces have come together again.

World Cup For Dummies

Image by Clipart Panda

The whole word is obsessed with the World Cup. The whole world is actually obsessed with the World Cup but I mean my world is obsessed with the World Cup which consists of many of my co-workers and my family.

I don’t really like watching sports on television. I could go to a game or match and have a decent time. I think it would be even more interesting to actually be playing. But I understand people like watching it for various reasons. The one that I can most understand is they play or used to play and for them it brings back the excitement of playing. I used to play volleyball and though I don’t follow professional volleyball, if I happen to see it on tv I will watch it for a bit. I have also heard that people remember watching a particular sport or event with their family growing up. It seems like it can also be a pleasant distraction from every day life and provide relaxation.  The sport is enjoyed on both an individual level and a national level.

I can see how tournaments played by teams from different countries can be beneficial for a number of reasons. The world unites in friendly competition, a nice distraction from the usual conflict we hear about constantly on the news. It also creates a sense of pride among people from that country and unites people who are not in their home country. It seems as teams are eliminated, people will start rooting for different teams and it creates a sense of cross camaraderie.

So after a whole hour’s worth of research, I will share my vast knowledge of the World Cup.

  • The field is ridiculously huge! I couldn’t believe it. That’s a lot of running around.
  • The very early beginnings of the World Cup  arose from football (not American football obviously) separating from the Olympics (according to Wikipedia) because the Olympics were for amateurs and there was a debate about the status of football teams. Then in the 1930’s, the Olympics was held in the US which does not have the same enthusiasm for the sport as the rest of the world.
  • World events (like WWII) and conflicts (between countries) have had an impact on what teams participate.
  • The FIFA website has tons of info about the current games.

I have crawled out of my rock and learned something about the World Cup! 🙂

What do you love about the World Cup?

Enjoying the Process

Enjoying the process can be fun when you’re doing something you enjoy. I enjoy lots of things: reading, dancing, painting to name a few. These are things that once I get caught up in them I’m very happy. For example I”ll stay up way too late reading a book even though I need to be up early.

There are some things that I may or may not enjoy and that can change in an instant. For example, I may be working on project at work that seems tedious because it’s new and I’m not quite sure what I’m doing yet, but once I have a grasp of it I do start to enjoy it. A few of my co-workers pointed out that I like to do the tedious things other people don’t like to do. I hadn’t realized that about myself before but could see it after they said it.

Writing is bittersweet for me as well because I can sit down with a pen and paper or a keyboard and words pour out of me. This is a gift I take for granted. I know not everyone is a writer, but it surprises me when I hear it’s not like that for other writers. It’s bittersweet though because I am blessed to be able to write but I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do with this talent and I often complain about “the process”. People ask me what my blog is about and I’m not even sure because it’s really just a fondue where things I hear about, read about, or just think about melt together in my brain and pour out of my fingertips.

I know we can all name things we wish were different. I could name a handful of things at this moment that I’m trying to remain positive about and enjoy the process but sometimes the process is not enjoyable.

My friend’s father has been in the hospital for months. It’s frustrating to not be well enough to go about your normal activities and even worse to be stuck in bed for months! I get grumpy when it’s raining and I can’t even go outside for my lunch break.

I am a fan of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises and one of his beliefs is “We should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. . . . Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.”

I came across these two ideas today and realized they go together. They translate into enjoying the process. I think about those ideas: illness and health, riches and poverty, etc. and it makes me think learning to enjoy the process is also a process and it might take a lifetime to learn. I suppose that’s ok.

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I would like to thank Mikey Lijoi, and Caleb Brereton for inspiring me to keep on going with my blog. Their timing was uncanny!

Please check out their blogs!

https://michaellijoi.weebly.com

My Brain Lives Here

 

 

 

 

 

When We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

I’ve noticed something occur multiple times in the past few weeks where something was communicated, and there it was laid out straightforward and the information didn’t just quite click.

There were a few occasions where I had written instructions to people at work thinking I was making it easier for them by having the information in writing for them to refer back to. But they didn’t follow the instructions.

In another situation, I was given instructions about particular policy on pricing. I even read the email multiple times for doing what I had to do. But it wasn’t until someone said it to me that I was able to understand. I felt kind of dumb because I was really trying to follow the directions and just didn’t understand. It did, however, make me more understanding of those who didn’t absorb the information in my emails.

There was a third situation where my boss asked me to look over a PowerPoint presentation someone had prepared. She did a lovely job including screenshots in the slides and was well versed in the subject to be able to explain it. As I read the slides, I felt they needed some explanation of the topics she only listed.

I mentioned to her that it’s helpful for people learning information for the first time to hear and see it, but she was adamant that the the presentation was perfect the way it was and the procedures could be provided in a document later on.

Fortunately, I mustered up enough self control to be tactful and not angrily point out that our boss had asked for my feedback for a reason. I just stated my points and offered my help if she wanted it. Her supervisor was copied in my email reply so I left it at that. He gently suggested we meet and I scheduled it for the next day to give myself time to cool down.

When we for together she still felt the slides didn’t need to be changed. Finally, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore and I said it. Our boss, “asked for my opinion and this is it”. I wished I didn’t say it like that but I couldn’t help it anymore. My opinion was sought for a reason. I did try to be softer with her as I gathered the info to add to the slides, after all, I didn’t know anything about the subject, she was the expert. I hope she was pleased with the outcome and would see that it would help people understand the information she would be presenting.

All of these situations remind me of Easter. People had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds, maybe a few thousand years even, and still didn’t understand. Even those who had the privilege of being a part of his ministry didn’t understand what he was really saying about being the Savior. Like at the Last Supper when Jesus was talking about having to die Matthew 16:21, or when the apostles told Thomas they had seen Jesus after the resurrection John 20:24-29, or when the people at the temple didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about when he said he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days John 2:19. It wasn’t until after the resurrection that the started to understand what he had been saying John 20:9.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, other than being open to revising our opinion as our understanding increases and being patient with those who don’t quite get it yet.

Boston

I visited Boston for the first time this weekend. It’s part of my plan to see more of the United States. It was a short trip, just for the day. I like short trips because it’s exciting packing the experience into a short amount of time and get a sense of the place. My friend Tracey came with me because she was also seeking an adventure. I had done some internet research and decided to visit the Freedom Trail and dine at Faneul Hall Marketplace. The Freedom Trail has sixteen historic sites like Paul Revere’s House, The USS Constitution, and various historic burial grounds.

Fortunately, Boston has a train, which makes it easy for a visitor to explore a new place. I was enchanted with the destination of the train headed in the other destination.

The train to Wonderland!

As we emerged from the subway onto State Street, there was a tour taking place and the guide was pointing out the unicorn statue on the top of this building.

Since we were hungry and anxious to be on our way we didn’t stick around listen to the guide. We let Google direct us to  Faneul Hall Marketplace which was said to have restaurants and shops. We stumbled upon a small crowd gathered in front of the hall listening to a street performer preparing to hang upside down from a contraption. Neither of us were concerned about this, nor could I get a picture of the contraption from out vantage point, so we continued on. I did find a picture this online.

Upside Down Perfomer

We pressed on hoping to find sustenance but there were more shops than restaurants an Faneul Hall. We continued on to State Street and admired the architecture as we searched for a place to dine.

After comparing a few restaurants we settled on the Granary Tavern (which Tracey quickly decided Granary would be pronounced like canary). The rustic restaurant had a nice view of State Street a warm inviting atmosphere with red brick walls and cozy brown wooden beams.

It was noon and the restaurant was still serving brunch. I thought it would be nice to have something breakfasty and then later dinner would be a contrast. I ordered French Toast, which I don’t normally eat, so I’d be trying something new. The meal tasted good, but I realized that ordering breakfast doesn’t excite me like it used to and I would have been happier ordering a lunch meal. It’s interesting how when you get out of your regular environment you can learn things about yourself. Tracey ordered clam chowder and experienced some of the local culinary cuisine.

As we waited for our food to arrive we decided on our next activity. We would go to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum since we like to learn about the area we are visiting on our travels.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum was a delightful ten minute walk. It began with very Gilmore Girls like town meeting where the town was gathering to decide what to do with the shipload of tea sitting in Boston Harbor waiting to be unloaded. We were all given characters names and cards with information about our professions and how the differences of opinions were dividing the Patriots (the early Americans seeking Independence) and the Tory’s (the early Americans loyal to England).

I was Samuel Gore a house painter, whose father was a Tory.

The Patriots did not want to accept the tea because they felt they were being taxed without representation and wanted to handle their own business dealings instead of being under British control.

After a rousing meeting where we were encouraged to shout “Huzzah” when we agreed or “Fie” when we were angry,  it was decided we would meet at the ships during the night disguised as Indians and dump the tea overboard. We had to be careful because if caught we would be guilty of treason and the consequence was death.

Note: They never actually used the word “Indian” they gave us feathers and said this is how we would recognize other Patriots.

Here is one of our guides explaining the dumping of 342 chests of tea that night. There were other goods on the ship but the Patriots promised they wouldn’t touch anything other than the tea.

We dumped the (styrofoam coolers of) tea and headed below deck to see the storage area and living quarters of the crew members. Eight people had to bunk in this tiny area of the ship with no shelter from the cold winds or water.

Next, we were taken through the museum which displayed the only remaining tea crate from that time. It also showed portraits of the King of England and Samuel Adams having a conversation in a Harry Potter like fashion, the perspective of a Patriot Woman and a Tory Woman having a conversation, and a short movie depicting Paul Revere’s famous ride and a battle between the Patriots and the British. (Now that think of this, it was also a very Stars Hollow Experience. I guess that was based on reality :). )

I am told by Tracey the battle was significant because it showed the British the early Americans were going to stand their ground and would not be subdued. Tracey had to explain the movie to me because…ummm… I fell asleep. (In my defense I hadn’t slept much the night before, it was dark, and I guess the sounds of cannons firing is quite soothing.) Despite my nap, the tour was entertaining and I recommend it if you’re in the area.

After the tour we walked around exploring the city which is what I really enjoy doing. We found Downtown Crossing which is similar to Lincoln Road on Miami Beach. The very lively  Winter and Summer Streets were filled with people hanging out, stores, and  restaurants. We decided to go to the Corner Bookstore which was one of the sites on the Freedom Trail. We couldn’t find that bookstore, but  very close to same spot Google said it would be was the Commonwealth Bookstore filled with certified pre-owned books and rare prints which we explored that for a few minutes. I asked the owner about the Corner Bookstore and he said they moved a few years ago and then closed and the site that referred to is now a Chipotle.

So there’s history for you and this is one of the things I have a hard time digesting about Boston. It’s one of the oldest historic sites in the United States, yet it’s a modern city with new businesses springing up replacing the old ones.

 

We realized we were close to Boston Common which we had wanted to visit and were pleasantly surprised to realize we were close by.

Boston Common is oldest park in the United States. It was quite lively on this Saturday afternoon which I imagine was glorious for Bostonians as Winter turns into Spring. Some people were even lightly clad in tank ropes and shorts but most wore winter coats still.

View of the State House from the Boston Common

Tracey and I sat on a park bench chatting, observing the people and dogs pass by us, and occasionally getting lost in our thoughts. We were shocked when we realized we had been there a few hours. That’s one of the things about vacations people usually try to cram a lot of things in, but it was nice just to take it easy and absorb a new place.

 

Park visitors