Mind over matter

So last month Bruce Jenner declared that he has a female’s soul in a man’s body. He used cosmetic surgery to feminize his facial features and give himself artificial breasts, and now refers to himself as a woman by the name of Caitlyn. The press then lauded for her being brave.

Another story broke today. Rachel Dolezal is the head of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington and also an Africana Studies professor at Eastern Washington University. She had claimed she is of white, black, and Native American descent. Her parents revealed to the AP that her ethnic heritage is Czech, Swedish, and German, with possibly a “trace” of Native American.

The NAACP issued a statement supporting her. In it, they claimed “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.” I do not know of any other NAACP chapters headed by a non-black member. I doubt she would have been appointed to head that chapter had it not been for her claimed black ancestry. Still, good for the NAACP. Let’s see how long it lasts.

The controversy over Dolezal has lead to the creation of some Twitter hashtags including #wrongskin (as in, Dolezal was born in the wrong skin being that she is a black woman trapped in a white woman’s body), and also #transraciallivesmater.

So if one Bruce can arbitrarily declare that his physiology of a man is irrelevant, and that he is actually a woman, why should Dolezal’s racial identity be any different? After all, recent pictures show that her claim of being a black woman is more convincing of her racial claim than Jenner’s claim of being a woman (even with cosmetic surgery and Photoshop).

If “gender” is a matter of will, why not race? I don’t see how you can make an argument for the first, but not the second. So welcome to the struggle Rachel Dolezal. I hope you succeed in the fight of your people.

Why the terrorists are winning

This morning three terrorists killed 12 people at the Paris offices of a French satirical magazine.

Witnesses reported that the terrorists shouted (what else?) Allahu akbar” while firing. Video was recorded of the terrorists executing a policeman who had responded to the scene.

In spite of this, Whitehouse Press Secretary Josh Ernest first referred to the event as “an act of violence.” Roughly a half hour later, President Obama released a statement labeling the act as terrorism.

Since then, I have seen pundits try to insulate this attack from Islam claiming that killing defenseless civilians and police does not act in the name of true Islam.

The reluctance of the Obama administration to correctly identify Islamic terrorism for what it is and to claim that there is not a strain of Islam that absolutely does support these acts is foolish. There are “radical” muslims all over the Middle East and Africa. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood all believe Islam supports terrorism. All of these groups are significant movements in their geographic regions that all claim they are they real Islam.

Denying terrorism for what it is, or the terrorists for who they are and what they believe is not going to protect us from more attacks.

2015 Predictions

My predictions for this past year were spot on. You might have missed out on the burqa twerking trend, i.e. “burqing”, but I assure, it swept the nation. Just not this nation. And not a single “Holiday Tree” could be found in July for Independence Day. Another win for me.

So here is what we have to look forward to in 2015.

1. In a break from its traditional menu, Taco Bell will introduce taco flavored tacos.
2. Hollywood will continue to congratulate itself for being brave by insulting the faith of people who do not threaten it, while caving into Islamists, East Asian dictators, and an asthmatic chihuaha that will.
3. Which is why “Muhammad the Musical” will not premier on Broadway this year.
4. Computer hacking will be the new black.
5. The 2016 presidential election will begin this year with 10 different prostitutes announcing their candidacies. Pundits will be surprised that the number is less than for previous elections. Only 8 of them will have law degrees.
6. President Obama will become the first sitting president to hit a hole-in-one…at the Fairfax County Mini Golf Course windmill hole.
7. NSA will begin monitoring underclass high school sports team since the biggest terror threat of 2014 turned out to be “the jayvee team.” Soccer will turn out to be the most suspicious.
8. Having blown its journalistic reputation on a fake gang rape story, Rolling Stone Magazine will turn its focus to feature LOL cat pictures in 2015.
9. The New York law banning selfies that include wild big cats will result in the arrests of 4 lions and 3 tigers, but no leopards. Leopards have a cultural aversion to taking selfies.
10. Jaime and I will not be spending next New Year’s Eve in the hospital with  kid who has pneumonia. They’ll all be old enough for the nurses to watch them while we go to a party.

May your new year be filled with blessings.

We’re having a baby!

Great news! Jaime is about 15 weeks pregnant.

She started out with some pretty bad morning sickness. That was the worst part, but it has gotten better.

We’ve had a few appointments and a couple of ultrasounds so far. Everything looks great. We still have about a month until they can tell us the sex.

The due date is October 15. We can’t wait!

Newspapers and iPads

Will the iPad save the New York Times? It seems digital subscriptions did not work well until tablet computers became popular. Now the NY Times is excited that they have nearly 800,000 subscribers to their digital version. Seems like the rise in digital subscription has increased with the popularity of iPad and other tablet computers.

The bonus is, you don’t have to walk out onto your driveway in your pajamas to pick up the morning paper delivery.

NYT Up To Nearly 800K Paid Digital Subscribers, Plans New Food And Opinion Apps | TechCrunch.


Jaime in dressMy Facebook friends know that I have been with Jaime for about a year and a half now. I first met her in November 2002. It was my first day at a new job as a supervisor in a call center. I sat down at my new desk, looked over to my left, and saw this pretty woman sitting a few feet away from me taking phone calls.

I immediately noticed was how magnetic she was. Her laughter was infectious. She held the attention of everyone around her, and they all wanted to be her friend. The guys hit on her, so did the women. She talked to everyone like they were friends. She had the ability to make people feel good about themselves.

It turned out, I was her supervisor.  I discovered that her charisma worked over the phone too. I don’t remember ever having to take an escalated call from her. She would have angry callers laughing by the time they got off the phone.

She quickly became my favorite employee, and I loved working with her for the next couple of years. It was a good day when she was working and a bit dreary when she wasn’t.  I could tell she had that effect on others too.  She is the kind of person whose phone will not stop ringing. There was not a day she didn’t get invited to go out. People want to be around her.

There were a couple of people who didn’t seem to like her. I figured out the dislike stemmed from jealousy. They wanted to be around her more, but felt rejected when she simply could not give that much attention to everyone who wanted it.

There was a noticeable difference in the office on her days off. The atmosphere was more serious – and boring.  She brought a cheerful feeling to the office that was missed when she wasn’t there. It was never the same after she left that job.  

We kept in touch a little after she left. Every once in a while there would be a Christmas card or an email, sometimes a “like” on a Facebook post. She saw me posting pictures of my daughter. I knew she had a partner, then a son, but there would be years we didn’t talk at all. 

Then my life fell apart. I was miserable, thought that being treated poorly was normal, and realized I didn’t have any confidence and didn’t feel any sense of self-worth.

At that low point I was lucky enough to reconnect with Jaime. She was as magnetic as ever. Just talking to her made the day better. I knew this is the woman I wanted to be with.

She says she is at her lowest weight since high school and that she is the prettiest she has ever been. When we are in public. I see heads turn as she passes, but her appearance now, as pretty as she is, isn’t what make her beautiful. She was pretty when I met her. Heads always turned when she was around. What makes her beautiful is that rare intangible quality that draws people in – her charisma, that magnetism. I saw it the first day I met her. She is innately attractive.

Now, I get to watch her create things. She sings, she draws, she sculpts little characters, and makes things.  We laugh together. We encourage each other. She showed me that I have reason to be confident. I feel good about myself again, and everyday I try to make her feel the same about herself.

Thank you Jaime. I am happy again.

2014 Predictions

My 2013 predictions were more off than usual. And I missed this biggest event of all, the death of Sylvia Browne. But as usual, a bad year won’t stop any charlatan from making more predictions. So here is what we have to look forward to in 2014.

1. Syliva Browne will not make a single incorrect prediction in 2014.
2. Miley Cyrus will become a Muslim and don a burqa in her twerking act.
3. As a result, “Burqing” will be the new buzzword of 2014.
4. Time Magazine will strip Pope Francis of its 2013 Person of the Year title when an investigation reveals that he is Catholic.
5. Bollywood will be the new black.
6. The next NSA collection bombshell: belly button lint. Yes, they have it and they know what you wore last Thursday.
7. Angry birds will be arrested for assault and sentenced to anger management classes.
8. Archaeologists will discover large buildings filled with lost caches of books right in the middle of cities. They will name these buildings “Libraries”. No one will know what that means.
9. Scientists will continue to argue over whether the climate is warming or cooling. Meanwhile, a group of confused middle-school children in Massachusetts will start a change.org petition to knit a new polar cap.
10. The bizarre trend of retailers renaming Christmas Trees to “Holiday Trees” will continue. Buyers seeking these trees for their Independence Day celebrations will be disappointed when the trees are unavailable during the summer.

A past life

A couple years ago, Jaime came across a stack of old letters, photos, and documents. The papers seemed to have belonged to Isabell (Tuttle) Winchell who lived in Brighton, Colorado. Among the papers is her marriage certificate to Isaac Winchell. The two married on August 30, 1885 in Hamilton County, Nebraska. He was 27, she was 24.


Another of the papers was a geneology of Isabell’s side of the family dated in September 1904. Isabell also kept cancelled checks datign back to 1923. Only her name appears on the checks, which makes me think her husband had likely died by that date.

Other letters in the stack include the name Earl Winchell who seems to have been their son. Isabell’s father and brother were also named Earl according to the marriage license and the geneology.

Also among the papers was a short poem written on half a page – unsigned, undated, and written in faded pencil:

“Baby, father, mother, brothers
and sisters four,
Waiting for me, waiting for me,
waiting for me on that ever green shore.”

The last document with Isabell’s name is dated in 1950. I’m guessing her death was around that time. That would make her about 90 years old, having been widowed for roughly 30 years.

Interesting to see a person’s life laid out in front of us like that. I’d wish I could find Isabell and Earl’s descendants to give them this link to their family history.

USPS: model of efficiency

Last Saturday I had to send a package that needed to get there by Monday. Unluckily for me, Monday was Columbus day and the U.S. Post Offices were closed. No deliveries. But the clerk told me I could get a Monday “holiday” delivery by 3:00 pm. I took it. Well, the package didn’t get there.

So yesterday I took the receipt to the post office to get a refund. She went into the back to confirm the package was late. She came back and said she would be glad to give me a refund but I needed the copy of the shipping label. This was strange because she had a receipt with the tracking number, shipping date, and delivery guarantee, but that didn’t matter. She need the shipping label that contained all the same information. Sigh.

Thankfully, I had the shipping label in the car. I went out to the car and came back with the label. Of course there were a couple people in front of me in line by the time I got back. I eventually ended up back with the same clerk. At least I didn’t have to explain the whole story to someone else. The shipping label satisfied her and she started the process for the refund.

This is where it gets funny. She had me fill out a refund form. While I was doing that, the clerk told me that because of the amount of the refund, she had to pay me with a money order. Annoying, but I realized she didn’t make the rules. No use yelling at her for it.

She then used the form I filled out to complete the money order. She had to write my name, address, reason for the money order, and then run it through a printer to fill in the amount.

As she is doing this she tells me, “I can cash this for now you if you would like.”

“Um, OK.”

She apologized, “I know it is crazy, but this is the way we have to do it.”

Then she asked to see my ID to make sure I was the person she just filled out the money order for. Really.

And that is an example of how the USPS has reached its current level of efficiency.