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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Flash Fiction

So I was invited to participate in a flash fiction anthology.  I had never written one before and found it a challenge to stay under the 500 words.  It really is a great exercise to make you choose words carefully, strongly vet characters and keep your situation in one scene.  The prompt was "at a con."  I am posting it here, hopefully not at the expense of having it accepted.



Image result for trade center chattanooga

I no longer dine with my depression.  I walk.  Downtown.  I like the cobble streets and the street lamps.  Sometimes I can be Mary Poppins or Ginger Rogers.  On Chestnut Street I walk by a maple tree.  I love its sense of rebellion and confidence.  I wish to be that. 

One favorite is the convention.  It is full of visitors.  They view me through the eyes of their own elations.  Chattanooga is new to them.  My pink coat and pink hair draw their gaze and my blue umbrella evokes their smiles.  Their excitement to be here settles on me like sunshine.    
Today my eyes are tired.  At my age, even the cold, wet paper towel in the center’s bathroom does not help.  Nevertheless, the lotus flower tattoo blooming into doves on my arm tell me hope exists.

Image result for hullco

Exiting the bathroom of the convention center, a man offers me a free t-shirt.  It says, “Hullco Windows.”  If I wear it, then I can enter the Home Show for free.  I like the blue hue.  So many blues are sad, but this one reminds me of a Wedgewood necklace my grand wore.   I touch my neck where it would have hung and almost feel her aged hands over mine.
Missing my Grand, I almost return to my dreary bedroom.  The man again invites me in to the show.  His invite is not necessary but appreciated.  Being invited feels wonderful.
I am amazed how many ways there are to cook potatoes.  A lady selling a copper pan makes potato chips.  The sample is salty.  My stomach has been angry with me lately, but accepts the chip skeptically.  I promise it if we find someone sautéing chicken I will let it decide.

Image result for stone patio homeshow display

At the end of the first row is a stone worker’s booth.   I am Alice and step up the stone steps to a patio.  An Aerodyne chair beckons me to find respite.  I sit before an iron fire pit in a make-believe backyard.  Someone has cut butterflies into the metal ring.  The propane fire sends heat toward my feet in the shape of a monarch butterfly.  Its wings warm my toes and the semicolon tattoo on my ankle.
A toddler sits beside me.  He asks if this is my real hair.  I tell him no and it is not my porch either.  I am just pretending.

He likes to pretend.  He has a stuffed giraffe.  He says the giraffe likes my hair also and says, “hello.”  I believe him and tell the giraffe, “thank you.” 
I look again at my shirt.  Under the window it says, “Make life a little better, come to Hullco.”

At my home depression lingers, waiting with laundry, dirty dishes, and whispers of my inadequacy.  It can wait.  Up the next aisle I smell flowers and candles.  As I rise and say goodbye to the toddler and Mr. Giraffe.  My stomach settles.  It agrees that if there is chicken in the next row, we will stop there too. 

Image result for homeshow cookware

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Behavior-Based Everything

See the source imageSo Forbes Magazine presented an article this week explaining how the future of car insurance will be behavior based.

Forbe's Article Here

New on-board devices allow insurance companies to know more about the drivers they insure and, of course, to pass along any connected costs.  There are limits, but soon even these will be worked out.  Forbes also notes, seemingly unconnected, that rates have increased 23% since 2011.

This all brings us to what is really important: People going through fast food drive-thrus who do not know what they want to order.

Been there?  All you want is a cheeseburger and a small fry... but the lady in front of you is asking if they have a gluten free veggie patty with sesame seeds and if the chocolate latte comes in banana and what country does McDonalds get their salt from they use on french fries and could the attendant list off every possible drink combination in the Coca Cola 50+ drink machine....

 There is a place for such questions.  It is called "inside."  Now, what I am asking, perhaps pleading, with insurance companies is to share their onboard technology with the food service industry.  Let's increase premiums where it matters.  You want to spend twenty minutes at the drive-thru explaining why you can't rub pickles on your face and need your burger prepared in a special room?  Then your rates will go up.  Or even better, perhaps your car will simply not allow you access to drive-thrus.

See the source imageThe more I think about it, my typical hesitation to allow Big Brother to control my life may be mediated if we can truly eliminate drive-thru filibusters.  And I can only wonder.... is there a way to put on board tech on people? 

It could really help me speed up the lady at the store who wants to scratch off her lottery tickets and cash in winnings before she gets out of line?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Do I have to buy all 200 types of cars?

Came across this little gem today:

Video on Capitalism

It opens identifying that capitalists have 200 kinds of cars and 4 million types of apps.  Although it is not extremely clear, apparently there is a large hand than descends from heaven and takes away my money.  I'm not sure how these two things are connected, but the video makes clear that it is a true problem.

Image result for car vending machineAnd further, if we do not do something, then we will be walking in the snow alone and sad.  Yes, that is in the video as well.  But do not fear, for there is a salvation known as DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM!  The video shows how the same three workers in the factory under capitalism now wear ties and are happy.

Now, I know what you are thinking... "Where do I sign up!"  Settle down, first we should look at the lead article under the video.  It reads:

They Are Sending Their Best People: Immigrants Helping to Make America Great

Mexico has sent the United States what can only be described as some of its best people; we are very fortunate indeed to have these families living here. The United States must bring these people out of the shadows and away from exploitation, offering them citizenship. They have certainly earned it; they have done so much to make America great!

Now last I checked, we have both legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico?  And while I don't have the data in front of me, I believe some are involved in that pesky little thing called the drug crisis?

World to Win Button Pack But I begin to digress into actual politics.  No room for that.  Instead, I'd like to talk about something much more controversial.  Not buying stuff.  

You see, there may be 200 different cars but I am pretty sure I don't have to buy any of them.  And as for those apps, I'm pretty sure I don't even have to own a phone with an app.  Of course, if I did, I might try a few of these:

Image result for dave ramsey not buying stuffI can not help but think that as Americans we have this mentality that we have to buy, buy, buy and we have to go into debt to do it.  Don't get me wrong, I empathize with the man who only has $45 and must feed his family for the week.  And I know such people exist.  I want to help and I do help through my local community.  I know that some people do not have the resources to overcome poverty.  

I would only ask the age old proverb:
Image result for new bass boat If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day.  If you teach him to fish, he will not work but hang out in his new bass boat he bought with $0 down.

We will not solve all the issues with poverty (I would hold no program will), but couldn't we make a tremendous impact if we taught others how to say "NO!!" to cars, apps, and other debts rather than ask the government to take all our money and redistribute it to us equally?  

I'm only asking because I don't want to wear a tie like the guy in the video.  I hate ties.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Practical Soocialism: Everyone Gets a Trophy in Iowa

First, allow me to apologize for my absence.  I attended a week long training last week.  I am a volunteer first responder with my local fire department.  I spent the week working with CISM (critical Incident Stress Management) as well as some other training to better serve my community and department. 


But this morning I woke to some of the greatest news I've heard in years.  I love it when politicians truly believe and practice what they promote. 

So too begin with, we must ask google to define socialism:

The term socialism refers to any system in which the production and distribution of goods and services is a shared responsibility of a group of people. Socialism is based upon economic and political theories that advocate for collectivism. In a state of socialism, there is no privately owned property.

Now this may be unfair to lump all democrats in the socialist category, but in general the party does seem to be in favor of more government run agencies whether it be in education, medical care, or business regulation.  

Bernie Sanders is even concerned that deodorant companies might be creating poverty and suffering.  This from a CNBC interview:

You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on. People scared to death about what happens tomorrow. Half the people in America have less than $10,000 in savings. How do you like that? That means you have an automobile accident, you have an illness, you’re broke. How do you retire if you have less than $10,000, and you don’t have much in the way of Social Security?

Image result for deodorant typesRead the whole interview here

I've never considered my multiple choices of deodarant as a cause for people's fear  and stress.  And are people near the brink of bankruptcy because deodorant companies subliminally manipulate them?  So much here to consider...

But we must press on to our main point, which is that yesterday was the Iowa Caucus.

What is a Caucus - Buzzfeed

So a caucus is not an actual primary vote.  It is a bit more old school.  People actually have to show up and position their physical bodies where they choose to align.  It is like kindergarten playground rules of voting. 

Which is why it makes total sense to try and make a longstanding tradition more hip by adding an app.  An app that didn't work, of course.  I've known all along apps are of the devil.  And I hate to tell Bernie, but there are WAY MORE than 23 apps!!  They are part of why every american lives in fear and has less than $10,000 in savings.  Or so I would tell CNBC if they asked.

Image result for iowa caucus cnn
What I loved about the Iowa Caucus is that after a full day of activity where people have to literally go stand where they want to place their vote.... we have no results.

Or do we?

It occured to me... maybe this is socialism at its best?  Maybe every candidate is equally a winner and everyone gets a trophy?  Maybe true socialism would suggest they are all special and important and no one candidate should be more special than another.  If so, kudos to the democratic party for truly living out their agenda and beliefs on the national stage.

Unfortunately... my fear is that we will come to find out all candidates just like all deodorants are equal.  Some are just more equal than others.

Fox News' take
CNN's take