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October 1, 2014 9:39 AM

Erin and I are off to Minnesota this afternoon, where we’ll- among other things- be reconnecting with my family. We’ll also be visiting Walker, the small town I grew up in and haven’t been back to since 1978. It’s a chance to relax, have some fun, catch up with family and some college friends. It’s a chance for me to gain some closure on several fronts…and when I start thinking in those terms, it just reminds that I’m getting old. Damn you, Father Time!!

I’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and psychic energy getting myself to the point where I can put my past in its place and fully live in the present. When I look at all it’s taken to get to this point, I can say without reservation that it’s been worth it…but it damned sure wasn’t easy. Then again, as a very wise man once told me, nothing worth having ever is.

True that.

On the meteorological side, it’ll be just cold enough to remind me why I have no desire to return to Minnesota on a permanent basis. Beyond that, it’ll be nice to step back in time for awhile. It’s something I’ve needed to do for quite some time, and I’m finally in a place where I can do it for the right reasons. I don’t know quite what to expect, but I’m ready and eager for some time in the Motherland.

During our sojourn, I have no idea how much, if any, effort I’ll be willing or able to devote to posting. No worries; I’ll be gone for all of a week, after which time I can guarantee the usual silliness will resume unabated. Until then, stay tuned, y’all….

October 1, 2014 8:36 AM

October 1, 2014 8:17 AM

For many crypto-Marxist Americans, ragging on Republicans is a cherished pastime, but what do we really know about our conservative brothers and sisters? For instance, what even are Republicans? According to a new ad campaign by consulting firm Glass House Strategies, Republicans are people, primarily the kind that pose for stock photos. They’re also, it turns out, Prius drivers, beard and tattoo-havers and, most crucially, humans who care and have feelings. “On social media, I’ve been called every name in the book,” Glass House founder Vinny Minchillo told the New Republic. “It’s become socially acceptable to talk about Republicans in the most evil terms possible and that doesn’t seem right.”

It’s tempting- for perhaps a nanosecond- to feel sorry for Republicans, who evidently see themselves as victims of the last acceptable form of demonization left in America today. Why are people always hating on Republicans? Do they not have feelings? Do they not bruise when you hit them? Do they not bleed when you cut them? I suppose they do, but with all the whining, you could be forgiven for thinking that Republicans really are the victims of some sort of self-ascribed twisted definition of persecution…except that nothing could be further from the truth.

People hate on Republicans because they’ve demonstrated themselves to be the party of stupid, the party of “NO!!,” and the party best known for believing that all the unemployed want for Christmas is to continue sucking at the public teat. Republicans are themselves the PARTY of discrimination…not the victims of it. They’ve spent the past few years trying to pass legislation defining women and their lady parts as the property of men. They’ve held about a gazillion votes to overturn Obamacare, because evidently Americans having health insurance is something Republicans think is anti-American.

Fact is, Republicans suffer from a piss-poor public image that’s 100% self-inflicted. They don’t need a PR campaign to polish their image; they need to demonstrate that they have a collective conscience…and proving they have a soul wouldn’t hurt, either. They need to show Americans that they aren’t the party that claims to be all about the middle class…until the election’s over, at which point they revert to form and continue divining new and different ways to screw the middle class.

So Republicans have beards and drive Priuses…and probably even help old ladies cross the street. All that is apropos of nothing, because Americans- at least the ones paying attention- know what Republicans are about. They know that symbolism means nothing, and that working to screw women, minorities, senior citizens, the poor, and the middle class is not a great way to win hearts and minds. Until Republicans stop condoning ignorance, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and…well, you can smell what I’m cooking, right? Until Republicans put forth a platform that tells America what they’re FOR, what they’d do to move America forward, no PR campaign in the world will plug the holes in their leaky rowboat.

October 1, 2014 8:02 AM

October 1, 2014 7:53 AM

There are a lot of things I don’t understand: quantum physics, Nietzsche, nuclear fusion, and why people love the Green Bay Packers are high on the list. Some things are simply beyond my limited mental facilities, and I’m OK with that. No one is smart enough to understand everything, and I know enough to recognize I’m not stupid. Then there are the things that defy logic, that make me shake my head as I’m thinking, “WTF????”

The current #1 on the list is why Texas women would believe it to be in their best interests to vote Republican. In particularly, WHY would any self-respecting Texas woman vote for Greg Abbott for Governor…especially when the other option is Wendy Davis. Abbott, besides being a surprisingly inept campaigner, has a track record of statements indicating that he just doesn’t take women’s issues seriously. Rape? Reproductive rights? Health care? On these issues and more, Abbott has clearly indicated that his attentions lie elsewhere- God, guns, and gays seem to be at the top of the list.

Rather than address issues of import to the distaff half of Texas’ population, Abbott has focused on hot-button issues- God, abortion, same-sex marriage, terrorism, and gun rights. None of these are issues designed to engender reasoned, rational discussion. They’re not about making the Lone Brain Cell Star State a better place for ALL Texans, they’re about creating an emotional reaction, keeping Texans scared and stupid so they won’t ask uncomfortable questions that Abbott has no answer for.

Sorry, but if you’re a Vagina-American and you live in Texas, you need to understand that Republicans don’t give a damn about you or your issues. Greg Abbott is just another clueless, self-interested Penis-American who care about one thing and one thing only: political power. If you’re planning on voting for Abbott, I have no sympathy for you, because you’re a willing participant in your own subjugation, and you deserve whatever you get.

Enjoy your second-class citizenship and being considered the property of men. I suppose it beats being willing to take control of your own life, eh?

October 1, 2014 7:28 AM

October 1, 2014 7:14 AM
September 30, 2014 9:35 AM

September 30, 2014 9:26 AM

MY NEW HERO

Makenzie & Steven Schultz

So here’s the deal. Our service tonight sucked. Took 20 minutes to get water, 40 minutes for an appetizer and over an hour for our entree. People all around us were making fun of the restaurant & how bad the service was. Yeah, it was pretty terrible. But, it was very obvious that the issue was being short staffed, not the server. He was running around like crazy and never acted annoyed with any table. At one point we counted he had 12 tables plus the bar. More than any one person could handle! As I sat there and watched him run back & forth and apologize for the wait, I said to Steven… Wow, this used to be us. Waiting tables. I don’t miss it at all and I never loved that job. I did it for the tips. Steven and I agreed it would feel good to make this guys night when he would probably be getting minimal to no tips due to slow service. We walked out before he saw this and I’m not posting this for a pat on the back. I’m just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation, before you judge. And always always always remember where you came from.

It can be easy- TOO easy- to forget where we’ve been, where we started, the meager and difficult circumstances we may have known at one point in our lives. Even those who’ve achieved a measure of success can (and should) often point to a time when things we’re nearly so abundant and easy. There’s something to be said for remembering your roots, for recognizing that you weren’t to the manor born and at some point you had to scramble and hustle for what probably seemed at the time like very meager recompense. That’s why this story put a smile on my face. Kindness never gets old.

Erin and I recognize that we’re incredibly fortunate. One of the things I love about her is that she’s a genuinely kind and caring person who doesn’t begrudge reward those who treat her well. As for me…well, I’ve known my share of rough and sparse times, and where I am now is far removed from where I’ve been at so many points. I put myself through my last year of calling waiting tables at a restaurant in downtown St. Paul, MN. It was a hard, humbling, and occasionally miserable experience, one I promised myself I would never, ever repeat (and I haven’t). Beyond my meager hourly wage, I was completely dependent upon the whim of others for my income. I could bust my ass and still not make much in tips…and there wasn’t a thing I could do but take it. What that experience did for me was to teach me the importance of treating people well and recognizing when someone’s working hard to make your experience better. The results may not always be what you want, because sometimes the handicaps someone is forced to work with or under are beyond their control. What you can control is how hard you work and how effort you put into overcoming your circumstances.

What I can control is how I recognize the lengths someone goes to ensure that my experience is a positive one…and that’s what I do.

Restaurant work is at best difficult, at worst demeaning and degrading. My experience covered the full spectrum, and that’s stayed with me. Whenever Erin and I go to a restaurant, which is frequently, I normally leave a generous tip- usually more than 20%- not because I think I’m a good person, but because I was once on the other end. I may do something slightly different if our server is totally indifferent and/or completely incompetent, but I’ve found that to be a rare experience. More often than not, especially at better restaurants, our server is conscientious, intelligent, and hard working. To my way of thinking, that kind of things deserves to be recognized and rewarded.

It’s easy for me to put myself in the shoes of a server, because I was once there myself. I remember having to scramble to make enough money to pay rent and tuition, hoping I’d have enough left over to go to the grocery store. I got by, but it wasn’t by much. Now I’m on the other side, but when someone’s is telling us about the nightly special and taking my drink order, I can’t help but go back to that time. I think about the times customers were kind to me and how that made me feel. I can be that customer now, and it feels good to be able to give something back, even if that server never knows where it comes from.

Beyond that, one of the things I’ve learned from Erin is kindness. Not that I wasn’t a kind person before, but I see how she deals with people and it inspires me to do the same. So what if my tips are something others might find excessive? I have my reasons, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my life it’s that a little kindness can go a very long way…and kindness is never bad or inappropriate. Not to be cavalier, but it’s only money, and if erring on the generous side makes someone feel better…well, that’s not such a bad investment, is it?

September 30, 2014 8:46 AM

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