Favorite Apps in 2017


I thought this might be fun.  Welcome to my review of my top ten favorite apps!  Yes, ten.  I know you can only see nine in that image but...keep reading!

These are in order that they appear in the folder, not necessarily in order according to use.  Also, this folder does not really exist on my iPhone.  I created it so I could get a quick picture (screen capture).

Project Life
I will probably end up doing an entire blog post dedicated to my affection for this scrapbooking app.  It's a real time saver and, while it won't replace my enjoyment of traditional scrapbooking, I will be printing more and more 12x12 pages in the months and years to come.

I have a handful of apps I use in concert with the Project Life App and I'll go over those in another post, I promise.  While I'm here, though, I want to mention that in addition to using my iPhone photos, I also download photos from my Flickr and Google Photos accounts directly to my camera roll for easy access.

Scrapbooking in the palm of your hand.  It's what every memory-hoarding mommy needs because it makes journaling oh-so-easy!

SnapChat
I resisted this app for a long time.  I hated - HATED- that my kids had it on their phones and would make them delete it whenever I did a spot check of their apps.  The entire premise made me nervous.  I saw no good use for an app that allowed users to send photos or brief videos to each other that disappeared after a few seconds.  I saw only the potential for misuse.  I figured it was good for sexting and little else.  Paranoid mama here.

Well, I use it quite often now and, while I realize that it can easily be abused, it doesn't mean everyone is going to send or receive pics of naughty bits.  Instead, the abuse mostly comes in the form of too many silly filters being applied whenever boredom or drunkenness strike.

I love those silly pictures and ridiculous videos, though, and intend to keep harassing my friends and family right up until they block me.  Please don't block me.

Facebook
Ah, Facebook.  I have a love/hate relationship with this site.  I love that I can share in my friends' and family members' lives.  I get to see pictures and videos.  I get to read the funny stories, the slice of life details that I'd otherwise miss.  It's also helped me reconnect to people I would otherwise see or speak to only rarely.

Then there's the politics.  Election seasons are the worst!  I can't say that I'm above it all, either, because I will be the first to admit that I share things that are of interest and concern, especially as they relate to education, the climate, and social equality. I also have a tendency to take on blatant lies that I know result in ridiculous conspiracy theories.  Oh, the Google searches I've undertaken when a headline, article, or video clip spouts nonsense.

Luckily, election seasons don't last forever and eventually the photos and everyday stories reappear. Thank goodness.

PS Express
Photoshop Express is relatively new to my iPhone, and I already love it!  It's already saved more than one poorly shot iPhone photo.  It's by far my favorite photo editor even though I also have a bunch of Creative Cloud apps on my phone, too.  (Lightroom is also great, for the record.)

Goodreads
I love books.  Next to shopping the Kindle store, there's really nothing I enjoy more than scrolling through the book reviews my fellow Goodreads users' posts.  I like seeing what my sister-in-law, Jaime, is currently reading.  Or my cousin, Vanna.  Or my friend, Danielle.  Heck, I even got my mom using it! 

The real draw for me, though, is not just being able to satisfy my curiosity about what others are reading.  I love being able to track my books.  I like knowing what's already on my shelves and what books I need to buy.  I like challenging myself to read some arbitrary number of books each year and then recording my progress as I strive to meet that goal. 

Instagram
I love looking at other people's pictures.  I love sharing my pictures.  Given these two things, this app and I were meant for each other.  Granted, I don't think I'm nearly as artistic as the majority of the users on this site. 

Pinterest
I'm not on this site all the time, but I definitely use it whenever I need to be inspired. I have a number of boards, some quite common, I'd think.  I have a board for desserts and a board for main/side dishes.  I have a board for cocktails and one for low-calorie snacks.  Then there are the numerous boards dedicated to various crafts, including pallet art, scrapbooking, and photography.  I also have a board dedicated to my dream home library.  Then there's the one with links to various vacation destinations I'd love to cross off my bucket list.  Less useful boards include those with quotes or science fiction and fantasy trivia. 

Of all these boards, the most commonly used are those with recipes.  Need a side dish for the office Christmas party?  Pinterest.  Need a main dish for a birthday dinner?  Pinterest.  Want to impress your guests with a new mixed drink?  Yep, you guessed it, Pinterest.

Timehop 
This app walks you down memory lane.  Once you grant it access to Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other social networking platform it is able to connect with, the app searches for all the pictures and posts you've written on this day in history.  I've had days when it has collected over seven years worth of photos, posts, and tweets. 

Seven years ago my boys were thirteen- and ten-years-old.  I love seeing how much they've grown over the years.  Those are, by far, my favorite Timehop treats.

Google Photos 
I debated on swapping this out with Flickr because I love Flickr, too.  However, there is one feature that I think makes Google Photos a tad bit more user friendly.  It's so easy to share albums with people!  I simply have to have their email address and whatever I've uploaded from my iPhone or my DSLR can be shared right to the recipient's phone or computer.  It makes photo sharing super easy.

Summoners War


I can't have a list of my favorite apps and not include this one.  It gets the most use of any app on my phone or tablet. I'm addicted to this game and I feel no shame about it. It's taken me two years to build my team and they're still not as good as they could or should be.  On the bright side, our guild is continually improving.

Most importantly, though, I love that my entire little family of four plays this game together.  Heck, even some of my hubby's coworkers are in our guild.  :-)


How We Met

Once upon a time there was a family that would plan annual rafting trips down the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin, Michigan.  They picked this particular river because it was near the family's favorite summer vacation spot.  Purchased by the sprawling family's patriarch and matriarch (my grandparents), the wooded lot sat on a narrow, sandy two-track road a fair distance outside of town. 

Every summer during the warmest months someone would pick a date and notify the family of this family reunion style event.  Someone would call dibs on the trailers - there were two of them on the lot at this time, one trailer suited to a trailer park and one suited more for camping.  The rest of the family would pitch tents wherever they could manage.

My family lived two and half hours away from the trailer.  In fact, most of the extended family lived near us and traveled just as far.  Three of my grandparent's children had opted to live in or near Fostoria, Michigan, where they had grown up.  Only two had opted to leave and build lives elsewhere.  I had one aunt who had moved to Harrison, Michigan, and another aunt that might have lived in either town or anywhere in between; she's a bit of a gypsy and keeping track of her is almost impossible.

I don't remember the drive.  I imagine I had a book to help me pass the time.  If I had to guess, it would have been a historical romance borrowed from my step-mom's shelves.  I'm not sure what my brothers, BJ and Jake, and my sisters, Megan and Chrissy, were doing.  Surely in those two and half hours there was bickering and potty breaks and a stop for lunch.

I can't even tell you if my dad had successfully claimed one of the trailers.  I don't know if we slept in the big trailer or the little silver one.  Maybe we were in a tent. I don't think so, though.  My guess is that my family of seven was spread out between the two trailers, my dad and step-mom in one of the big bedrooms in the big trailer, my youngest siblings in the living room, and me and my brother, BJ, sharing the silver camper with a handful of similarly-aged cousins. That was fairly standard.

That particular summer there were a lot of family members on that little acre or so of land.  In fact, there even people there that weren't related to us. One family had been invited by my step-grandma; she and the mom of that family had become good friends at work, so step-grandma had invited them along.  Funny enough, my step-grandma invited them to the event and then never showed.

They were strangers to me but, lucky for them, not to everyone there.  The Heisers lived across the street from my aunt and her family.  My cousin, Tonya, was a year younger than their son, Ken. They had grown up together and often shared rides to school.  When he got a new camera, he used her as a model to practice his photography skills.  They played softball together in the summer youth program in their little hometown, the same program my dad had coached for a few years.

He had likely ridden the bus with my cousins Jessica and Adam before they had moved from the Mayville school district to the Millington school district.  Having grown up in a town with a population of about 700-800 people, it was unlikely they had not had some kind of interaction.  I mean, there was one ball park and one candy shop.  They also happened to live on the same road as his best friend, Kenny.

Surely we must have seen each other before, perhaps even talked, but I have only one memory of Ken from before this rafting trip and I swear we never spoke.  I'm not even sure we made eye contact.  He was interested in being on my dad's softball team the next year and was talking to him about the possibility. I was anxious to go the game room down the street and was intent on getting my dad's attention so I could get permission.

Fast forward a year or two and he's joining in on our family fun.  I don't think either one of us thought much would come of our weekend's mild flirtation. I was fifteen and he was seventeen.  I went to Millington High School, he went to Mayville.  We never exchanged numbers or made plans to keep in touch.

Two things stand out in my memory about that weekend.  First, getting thrown into the river by Ken, who swears my black and electric-blue bathing suit was threadbare and nearly see-through.  It wasn't.  I'm sure my parents would have said something if I hadn't noticed myself!

The more treasured memory is from when we walked to the store chatting about various things.  I don't remember anyone else being with us, but I can't imagine my dad letting me wander off with an older boy; dad had a hard enough time with me talking to a boy on the phone. Surely, my siblings or my cousins were with us.  Yet, I only remember walking to the store with Ken.  I remember him buying me a magazine simply because my favorite rock band was featured on the cover.

I thought he was sweet.  And cute.  I didn't think much beyond that, though.

He thought I was too young for him.

The weekend ended and we went back to our respective lives.  Had it not been for my cousin Tonya playing matchmaker in the months following our rafting trip, our lives would have turned out very different.  I'm so grateful she saw something there that we did not because, next to our boys, Ken's the greatest gift I've ever been given.  He is the love of my life and I can't imagine building a life with anyone else.

A Christmas Wishlist

Some years I know exactly what I want Santa to bring me on Christmas day.  A laptop.  An iPhone.  A Silhouette Cameo.  A Nikon D5100.  A new lens for the Nikon.  An iPad.  Another new lens for the Nikon. The list goes on.

This year is different.  My wishlist has been strangely small and I've not been dropping any overt hints in the hubby's direction - he has a direct line to Santa, don't you know?

Yet, as I've been perusing Pinterest for blog post ideas and Pinterest knows it's December, it was suggested that I post an entry about this year's wishlist.  So, here goes.

#1 Most Desired Item:
My oldest boy lands a decent paying job and can start building a future for himself. 

Oh, Santa!  If you can pull some strings from the North Pole and help him out, I'd be quite delighted.  Worrying about your child's future is exhausting.  If there's some means of reducing this anxiety I feel whenever I think about his life without his dad and me to fall back on, I'd be eternally grateful.

This might be something more appropriate to task Our Dear Lord and Savior with, but I'll start with Santa. God has a lot on his plate right now trying to keep the rest of the world from imploding.

#2 Most Desired Item:
Everyone is healthy and safe.

My dad has a couple of upcoming procedures, the most serious of which is the one where the doctor is going to go in and remove some plaque from his arteries.  He's got some blockage going on right now and has opted to wait until after the holidays to get it removed.  At least, I hope this is the most serious problem.  The other procedure is a follow-up to determine why there was blood in his stool.

My mom had a health scare earlier this year, too.  No more of that, please.

My sister-in-law's mother is battling colon cancer right now.  She's on her fifth round of chemo as I write this.  It would be a nice Christmas miracle to have her given a clean bill of health.

Ken's mom and dad always have a variety of ailments.  Fixing any of them would be great!

Then there's the keeping everyone safe thing.  I am paranoid now that we have several teenagers on the road.  Both of my boys are driving.  So many of my nephews drive.  So many of their girlfriends drive.  My friends' children are driving.  Yep, this is definitely high on my list:  keep everyone safe as they travel Michigan's winter roads this year.  Help them navigate the snow and ice.  Help them avoid the idiots that are out there speeding, drinking and driving, distracted driving, and the list goes on.

#3 Most Desired Item:
Let there be no family drama.

Family is awesome, until it's not.  So my third most wanted thing this Christmas is that there is no family drama that will need to be avoided or navigated.  Everyone getting along would be delightful.

#4 Most Desired Item:
Silhouette Cameo vinyl roller thingy.

I tend to do a lot of vinyl projects throughout the year.  This rather inexpensive contraption would help keep the vinyl from slipping sideways and prevent waste.

What?  I'm a selfish creature and like presents that come in boxes, too!

#5 Most Desired Item:
Game of Thrones Seasons 1-6 DVD or BluRay Boxed Set

I've read the books.  I am beginning to suspect George R. R. Martin is punking his book-reading fan base and I'll only get the conclusion to this story by watching the HBO adaptation.

#6 Most Desired Item:
Indoor photography light kit with backdrop setup.

I don't really have a place to put this, but I'd like to have it anyway.  I would love to be able to provide some indoor senior picture options to friends and family.  Mostly, though, I'd like to be able to use it with Gage during his senior year.

Maybe I could set it up in the barn or the garage....I'd figure it out.

#7 Most Desired Item:
Books and movies.

I have a couple of Amazon wishlists dedicated to these two things.  I'd take any of the books or DVDs/BluRays I've highlighted.

#8 Most Desired Item:
Video games.

I have a few games I've been keeping my eye on.  NieR Automata looks intriguing.  So does the Last Guardian.  However, I'm always up for some more Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts titles, too.

#9 Most Desired Item:
Scrapbooking supplies.

I've discovered a new scrapbooking technique that I really like.  I use the Project Life app on my phone to create the foundation of the page.  Then, when I get the 12x12 prints, I like to use stickers, ribbons, and other embellishments to give the page some dimension.  Add in an awesome title made with my Silhouette Cameo machine and it's just about perfect!

#10 Most Desired Item:
Soft peppermint sticks.

They're just yummy.

Today's Quote - The Observer

I was scrolling through Instagram and saw this quote on a friend's feed.  It struck me because it resonates, which may surprise some people.  You see, I'm not a quiet person. I tend to do well in social situations, even when I'd rather be anywhere else doing anything else.  I appear to be fairly extroverted and am capable of small talk with strangers.

The truth is, though, that I'm much more introverted than most people would at first guess.  When small talk reaches is unavoidable end, I get very uncomfortable and seek a graceful (and sometimes not so graceful) escape.  When excusing myself is impossible, it is then that I become the observer.  I listen and I watch, all while yearning to be home in my safe little den.

Being married to a true extrovert who loves people and is energized by group interactions can be a challenge at times.  When it's time to go hang out with our close friends and family, I'm eager to do so.  These people already understand and accept me, flaws and all.  They know my little idiosyncrasies.  They're familiar with my personal brand of crazy.  And I know theirs.  There's comfort in that level of familiarity.

When my husband wants me to meet new people, to expand our circle of friends, I am hesitant.  I dread the unknown personalities I will have to navigate and, if I'm completely honest, I fear being bored.  Being surrounded by people you share little in common with is dreadful.  There's nowhere to go after the small talk!  Despite these anxieties, I go because I love my husband and want him to be happy.  Most of the time, these little excursions turn out just fine and I have a good time.  Possibly even a great time.

As these acquaintances become casual friends, I find more and more that we can talk about.  I listen.  I observe.  I react to what I see and hear, using what I've discovered to help generate discussions.  Each exposure to that person helps broaden the safety zone.  Small talk becomes less necessary.  A fairly normal process, I think.

Yet, this is where I think the quote really resonates. You see, I'm a bit of an odd duck and I know it.  I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I am also very aware that my interests will likely bore most people.  The things I can talk passionately about for hours cause even my husband's eyes to glaze over within moments.

It's more than that, though.

True understanding requires letting people through your defenses.  It requires vulnerability and a willingness to risk rejection of your core self.  These are difficult things for me to do.  Truly opening up and being fully vulnerable to someone other than my family?  It takes a great deal of trust, which can take years for someone to earn.

So, yes, I much prefer to understand others before I let them truly understand and know me. 

Wherein I Brainstorm Blog Post Ideas

I really want to do a better job with this blog.  I'd like to at least post once a week.  More often, if possible.  Sometimes, I get so far as opening up the post editor but the blank page stops me before I can even get started.  Not a single interesting topic comes to mind.

So I figured I'd post an entry with some blog post ideas.

Prepare to be underwhelmed!





  • Favorite Christmas gift from Mom and Dad
  • Favorite gift I've given to my boys.
  • The Girlfriends.
  • Writing Conferences.
  • Book club picks and meetups.
  • How we met.
  • Favorite Books in 2017.
  • Favorite Movies in 2017.
  • Video games.
  • Life lessons.
  • Guilty pleasures.
  • Things that make me happy. 
  • Promising new television shows.
  • Learning how to drive.
  • Ghost story.
  • Things I've learned from reading non-fiction 
  • What do you pack when traveling?
  • Self-evident truths.
  • Childhood friends.
  • An unlikely hero.
  • The Rock Shop
  • I can't live without....
  • Important life lessons
  • What this quote means to me...
  • Accomplishments big and small
  • Scrapbooking show-n-tell
I think a few of those are reusable!  This might just work. 

Do you have any suggestions?  I'm open to ideas!

Thanksgiving 2017

It was another successful Thanksgiving weekend.  To start, Ken and I hosted his family and my dad for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, yams, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.  And pie.  Lots of pie!

Despite the pictures below showcasing the grandparents' sourpuss faces, I'm fairly confident everyone had a good time.  

Ken's mom and dad.

My dad.
After dinner we played games.  First, a game or two of spoons.  If you've never played, you should go find a deck of cards and one less giant spoon than there are players.  The dealer gives out three cards to each player (or four, depending on the number of players) and then begins to move the deck around the table one card at a time as everyone tries to get three (or four) of a kind in their hand.  The first person who gets three (or four) of a kind in their hand grabs a spoon.  This prompts everyone else into a mad scrabble to not be spoonless at the end of the turn.  We've broken picnic tables playing this game.

A game of Spoons.
Next was this game I downloaded to my phone that's called Charades Up but we play more like Taboo.  You can say anything but the word or a form of the word.  We played the family safe version, leaving the more risque categories unexplored.


After Charades we played a game my sister-in-law, Ronnie, brought.  I don't remember the name or I'd share.  The objective was to have two people act out a compound word for the guesser.  There were four compound words on each card.  Rarely did anyone get all four.


Friday we did some sedate Black Friday shopping.  We didn't get up super early and we didn't fight any crowds.

Saturday we had our second Thanksgiving.  This time we traveled two and a half hours north in order to enjoy some family time with my mom and step-dad.  Instead of turkey we ate pork roast.  It was quite delicious. I think my hubby and boys really fell in love with my mom's homemade cheesecakes.  Gage is already asking me if I've gotten the recipe from her. 

My mom and step-dad with my boys.


Gage's girlfriend gets into the photo.  


Top 10 Favorite Books (To Date)

Over on Facebook, I'm part of the Fantasy Faction Book Group.  Today someone asked what our top ten favorite books of all time were.  The author of the post encouraged us to post our favorites even if they weren't necessarily in the science fiction and fantasy genres.  I was going to simply post mine but then I realized this is a bigger task than just providing a list.  I want to explain why these are my favorites, why they stick with me in ways other books have not. That makes this blog the perfect place to blather on about this subject.

Oh, I've decided that trilogies and series are going to count as one.

Also, I'm not sure I can truly order them so this list isn't necessarily moving from least favorite to most favorite even if it appears that way.  These books appear in the order they occur to me, nothing more. 


10.  The Handmaid's Tale.  

The Handmaid's Tale

I've read other Margaret Atwood books that I enjoy but this one holds a special place in my heart and psyche. The first time read about Offred and her plight, I was equally horrified and fascinated.  I wanted to believe such a future could never occur but I feared the possibility wasn't too outlandish because controlling women's body was (and still is) very much a thing in America.

For those who haven't read it and aren't familiar with this dystopian novel, Offred is a woman who has lost all her rights and privileges during a government coup.  Led by the a zealous religious faction that is concerned with reclaiming and reasserting the power of white men over all others, the United States is remade into a country where women are categorized by their oppressors into three categories:  wife, womb, or servant.  Offred is a walking womb; should her body fail her she is replaced by another and sent off to a colony where other useless women toil.

9.  The Stand.

The Stand

I'm not 100% sure, but I think this was the first post-apocalyptic novel I ever read.  It was epic.  It was more than just a tale of humanity's survival, though.  This story addresses a more fundamental conflict.  It pits Good against Evil and, although some may say this trope is overdone, I enjoyed it as a teenager.  This cosmic and often religious theme is one I still find fascinating when done well.

I also appreciate the fact that the apocalypse is man-made.  The US government's desire to weaponize the flu results in a super-flu that kills most of the nation's citizens, leaving a small percentage of those with natural immunity in its wake.  While survivors pair up, creating an ever bigger group, a supernatural evil is revealed in the form of Randall Flagg.  Situated opposite him in the narrative is Mother Abigail, who beckons to the survivors in their dreams.  Oh, the biblical symbolism is strong in this one!

8.  Harry Potter (the entire series).

Harry Potter Collection (Harry Potter, #1-6)


I didn't expect to love these books as much as I do.  I wasn't an adolescent or teenager when these books were released.  In the summer of 1997 I was in my twenties and pregnant (just barely) with my first child.  I was an adult and hadn't read a children's book in ages.  Yet, when concerned parents everywhere started to accuse these books of promoting witchcraft, I figured I should read them.  I picked them up expecting to be able to defend the books and call out the ridiculousness of the controversy.  I didn't expect to adore them. But I do!

J.K. Rowling expertly wove a tale from adolescence into adulthood.  The books matured right alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  I can see why an entire generation of young readers became lifelong readers thanks to her talent.

7.  Coldfire Trilogy

The Coldfire Trilogy: Black Sun Rising/ When True Night Falls/ Crown of Shadows

I love the premise of this trilogy.  Gerald Tarrant is one of the most compelling anti-heroes I have ever encountered in science fiction and fantasy.  Known as The Hunter, Gerald Tarrant, lives off the blood of the innocent.  He is the thing of nightmares on a planet that literally gives form to man's most fearsome imaginings Yet, within Tarrant there is an unyielding honor that requires him to be a man of his word, even if his promises threaten his very soul.  It is one such promise that forces him from his hunting grounds and into an alliance with a holy man that does not trust him.

This trilogy is more than a grand adventure.  It's a philosophical, or perhaps more accurately, a theological debate in the guise of fiction.

6.  Watership Down

Watership Down

I have a thing for animal protagonists.  As a little kid, I would fantasize about being able to talk to animals.  Okay, I may still fantasize a bit about how interesting it would be to be able to communicate telepathically with critters of every shape and size.  I think it's this strange secret wish that tends to warm my little heart whenever animals take center stage in a book.  In Watership Down, Hazel and the other rabbits are searching for a new warren.  Their journey is long and perilous.  They learn about themselves, each other, and strange others along the way.  They seek the answer to the question of what they want in the community they hope to create.

For a bunch of rabbits, they sure do have some very human concerns.



5.  The (Incomplete) Exiles Trilogy

The Ruins of Ambrai (Exiles, #1)









I hesitated to add these to the list but, the fact of the matter is, if Melanie Rawn ever publishes The Captal's Tower, I will be first in line to buy it!  The likelihood of her completing the trilogy, though, is slim to none.  The Mageborn Traitor was released in 1997.  That's twenty years of nothing.  That's twenty years for people like me to come to terms with the fact that the conclusion to Cailet and Sarra's story will never be told.

Still, I hope....because there was something compelling and magical about these two sisters.  About the husband to one and brother-in-law to the other.

Damn it, I really want my ending, Melanie Rawn!!


4. Ready Player One


Ready Player One









This book is just plain fun, especially for those of us intimately familiar with the 1980s.  The cultural references might annoy some but I found them delightful.

I also thought the premise resulted in an enjoyable plot line that made the pages turn fairly quickly.  Let's just say I was never bored!

In the tradition of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wade's golden ticket is in solving a puzzle that's embedded in the virtual utopia of OASIS.  In order to win it all, he must solve several clues, which are buried in 1980s music, television shows, movies, and video games.


3.  Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)








I was in Middle School when I read this book.  What I remember most is finding a character that was just like me.  Harriet's notebook with its maps, observations, suppositions, and opinions was a touchstone for the budding writer in me.  I wanted Harriet to be my friend.  Or I wanted to be Harriet.  I'm not sure which is more true.

I really should give this one a re-read because I don't remember much beyond Harriet's notebook.  I don't remember any of the other characters or even the plot that hinges on Harriet's notebook falling into the wrong hands.

2.  The Malory-Anderson Family Series

Love Only Once (Malory-Anderson Family, #1)









This is the first book in the Malory-Anderson family series, which I believe is currently comprised of twelve books.  This is the book that introduces two of the most memorable secondary characters I've ever run across.  Luckily, Uncle Tony and Uncle James not only get their own love stories, they are pretty much guaranteed to make at least a cameo appearance in their nieces', nephews', and children's love stories, too.

I had to add this series to the list of all-time favorites because whenever life overwhelms me and I need a chuckle, I will go reacquaint myself with the Malory and Andersons.  Not only are the characters familiar friends, the books are bubble gum reads that require no mental taxation.  And sometimes that's just what I need.

1.  The Black Jewels Trilogy

The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels, #1-3)









I loved this trilogy. As I said in my review, it made me laugh and cry as I read it.  In this story I followed a young, lonely girl as she discovered that family is not determined by blood but by love.  Of course, there was an interesting magic system, which is also something I adore.

It's Hard Being a Parent

The early days.
It's easy to look on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat Stories and think that life is nothing but rainbows and sunshine.  But, you know what?  Rainbows are only possible because there's been a bit of rain.  We all have rain in our lives, those moments when we are sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, or hurt.

Today is one of those days. 

I am sad.  My heart is heavy with disappointment. 

My oldest boy finally had a job that might have turned out to be more than just a part-time gig with crappy hours and low wages.  This job had potential on a small, modest scale.  It would have taken him time to advance and earn a living wage, but the possibility existed.  

Now it does not. 

He found out today that they were letting him go.  Only, no one there had the decency or professionalism to tell him.  He had to call and inquire because they weren't scheduling him any hours. Two weeks passed before someone had the decency to let him know he should be looking for a new job.

Maybe this job didn't have the potential I thought it did.  Maybe their lack of professionalism is something worth considering....bullet dodged, perhaps?

Now, I'm not going to tell you he didn't do something that earned him this non-confrontational dismissal.  He didn't handle a situation with another co-worker very well.  He handled it all sorts of wrong even if his heart was in the right place.  On the bright side, I think he's learned a valuable lesson in what-not-to-do at the workplace.  He also learned that sometimes doing the right thing is more complicated than it may first seem.  His instincts to protect that girl are commendable.  Next time, though, he knows he should simply remove her from the abuser's presence and take her directly to management to make a report.  Confrontation was not the answer.

I know today's little hiccup is really just that...a hiccup.  A small unpleasantness that will soon pass.  Yet, it's hard not to take these little set-backs personally, to wonder if your child's failures and hardships are somehow directly tied to you and your parenting choices. 

Then I remember that children are not an extension of ourselves but their own autonomous beings.  They get to make their own mistakes.  Decisions and actions have consequences that have nothing to do with whether or not I let them play too many video games, didn't give them enough chores, or spoiled them when perhaps I shouldn't have.

Sometimes parenting can feel like you're standing in a downpour without an umbrella or a pair of rubber boots to ward against the unpleasant deluge.  Today is one of those days.  I'm sad.  Disappointed.

Luckily, the sun will shine again and my boy will be just fine.  Lessons have been learned.  

Recommendations for the Reluctant Pre-teen Reader

My cousin asked for some reading recommendations for her pre-teen daughter today.  It seems this girl child will pick up a comic book or a graphic novel but wants nothing to do with chapter books.  Oh, how I remember these days!  My boys did the same thing to me.  They hated reading and it about killed me.

I mean, seriously, I read ALL THE TIME.  I put one book down and have to go find my next read.  It's compulsive. 

So...being a reader that has given birth to non-readers is it's own special kind of sorrow.

I don't know that any of my recommendations will ignite a reading frenzy in my cousin's daughter, but I hope something in this list of books will appeal to her.

The Recommendations

First and foremost, when I think of pre-teen girls and reading, I think of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

I read this book and others in the series to my younger sisters when they were just about my little cousin's age.  We adored these books.  Anne is funny and smart and quite unintentionally mischievous.

Added bonus:  When she finishes reading the book, rent the movie!

~~~~~~

I think someone else has already recommended this, but she's pretty much the perfect age for the early Harry Potter books.  Things are still quite safe in the Wizarding World in the first three books.  After that, things do get a bit more grim, but not inappropriate.  Just darker.  The books mature right alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

~~~~~

Another fun fantasy read would be the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. In his first book, The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson discovers he a demigod, the child of a god and human.  Spirited away to a secret camp where demigods train in a variety of useful skills, he discovers that his father is Poseidon.  The book is fun and fast-paced. It introduces a bunch of Greek mythology. 

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

I've yet to read the other mythology-based children's books Rick Riordan has written, but I imagine they are just as compelling.


~~~~~

I must admit, I've not read this book myself, but it is on my TBR.  I've seen the movie at least a good half-dozen times and expect I'll watch it a dozen more in my lifetime.

Added bonus:  There's a movie you can use as a reward for finishing the book!  And if she's already seen the movie, familiarity may make the reading experience faster and easier. 

The Princess Bride


~~~~~

This one might be pushing it in terms of grade level accessiblity.  However, I have a soft spot in my heart for the creatures of Redwall.  In this first book in a very long series, we are introduced to a variety of woodland creatures that call Redwall Abby home.  Led by a brave little mouse, these peace-loving creatures face off against a bilge rat and his horde of invaders.

Redwall (Redwall, #1)

~~~~~

Another childhood favorite of mine is Harriet the Spy.  Armed with her pencil and notebook, this girl writes down everything she observes and wonders about the people around her, including friends, family, and teachers alike.  When the notebook goes missing, it only stands to reason the very people she doesn't want reading the book will read it.  What a mess.  A mess Harriety is going to have to work very hard at cleaning up.

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)


~~~~~

This one I would want mom to read first if she's never read it herself.  It's a growing up story that deals with one of life's great inconveniences for all of womanhood -- if you get my drift.  But, had I been blessed with a daughter, this would have been required reading.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret



Booktube - Why I Don't Post Like I Want To

As a reader, there's really almost nothing I like more than encountering other people who enjoy one of my favorite pastimes just as much as a I do. So imagine my delight when I discovered the Booktube community on Youtube. I lurked for a long time. Mostly, I found a younger crowd that seemed intent on discussing mostly YA books. Few were the horror, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, or romance readers. Eventually, I did discover one or two people who seemed to read more widely.

 A few of my favorites (I've embedded their most recent videos because I don't know how to better showcase their channel):

 

  

     

There are several others that I follow, too, but to list them all would make this incredibly long.

It wasn't long before I felt the desire to join.  I wanted a channel of my own.  So, I set up my Youtube Account with a second profile and recorded my first couple of videos.  They are hideous.  I am nervous and blathering.  I was also using my iphone to record and lighting was a struggle.

Then I stopped recording.  Stopped uploading.

There are reasons, of course.  It's awkward talking to a camera.  And I was painfully aware that my videos were not nearly as visually appealing as they could have or should have been.  I don't have beautiful shelves filled with books.  My collection sits in the basement on top of what used to be my scrapbooking desk, a suspended wooden headboard with shelves in it, and on a small metal bookshelf. Did I mention these are in the basement next to the furnace, water heater, water softener, and well pump?  Oh, and let's not forget the spider webs and their lovely little denizens.  Cement walls, cement floor.

Now, take a look at the rooms those lovely ladies up above are sitting in.  What do you see in each of those videos?  Bright, cheerful decor that highlights their bookshelves or whimsical book-related decor?  Yeah, me, too.

Frankly, I started feel very self-conscious about my library that's not really a library.  My books are in a pile.  Sitting in front of my pile seemed...sad.

So, I stopped.

But I want to start again.  I just need to figure out how to set up a more attractive backdrop in a place where I won't be self-conscious talking to myself  when the hubby and kids are in the house.

Parker's Story: A Writing Update

I'm still plodding along on the rough draft of this story.  If I wrote more consistently - and without months long breaks - I imagine I'd be much further along than the 121 pages I've currently got saved to my hard drive.

Don't worry, it's backed up safely to the cloud. Thank you, Dropbox. 


The pacing seems to be about right.  The call to action came in the first chapter and Parker is motivated and proactive, which means she's not just reacting.  So that's good as I'm not overly fond of reluctant heroes or heroines.  I'm trying really hard to create a character I could continue to write about even after this story ends.  For this reason, I've tried making her a little more complex than previous characters.  Not quite an anti-hero but definitely not the most straight and narrow of characters, either.  I mean, she spent her childhood with a gang of kids, learning how to pick-pocket, burglarize homes and businesses, and hack into computers.  Even though her big brother got her out of that life and encouraged her to be a bit more respectable and socially acceptable, those early years are a permanent part of her psychological makeup. 

Of course, Parker doesn't exist in a vacuum and I don't want the characters surrounding her to be too simplistic, either.  For this reason, I've started writing first person narratives for the characters that will have an ongoing role in the story.  Giving them their own voice, letting them tell their stories and giving them an opportunity to spell out their goals has been helpful.  These journals - that's how I think of them - will never make it into Parker's story.  They're just a tool in the toolbox, a way to help them be more than one-dimensional place holders. 

For example, here's Sakiya's journal entry (she's the owner and pilot of the Chimera, the mercenary space ship Parker is joining).
I didn’t belong in the Nakano family dynasty, so I left it.

I fidgeted too much, I didn’t study enough, and I didn’t behave with the proper decorum expected of someone with my lineage.  I embarrassed my mother, the matriarch in our home and in our interstellar business, even when it was not my intention to do so. My passionate nature made it difficult for her to ignore me as she so easily did my older sister, Yulene, who was frustratingly perfect.

Yulene is only two years older than I am but her poise and sense of responsibility makes her seem more like a spinster aunt than a childhood playmate.

She won’t be a spinster for much longer though. I’ve been invited to the private family ceremony in the shrine my great-great-grandfather had had erected on Esmara upon his arrival to the moon where he would secure the future of the Nakano-Raithile Corporation. It will be a small, intimate gathering and I do not want to attend.

But how does one ignore an invitation to her only sibling’s wedding?

I blame my mother for putting me in such a deplorable conundrum. If not for her, I would be helping my sister plan her special day and getting to know my future brother-in-law as is proper. But I have been disowned.

I haven’t spoken to my mother since that day six years ago when she discovered I had liquidated my trust fund and bought the Chimera. Her shock had turned to outrage when I explained my intentions.  Our family was intellectual, scientists or academics of one kind or another. Discovering I had lied about my studies for the previous three years and had instead been learning how to pilot an intergalactic space craft had actually left the woman speechless for all of ten standard minutes. She made up for her silence over the next two hours as we waged our battles of will across the entirety of the residence. Her wicked tongue had chased me to my room and the suitcase I had not planned to pack for another seven months.

I moved onto the Chimera that night and lived there alone until my pilot’s license had been legally obtained. I ate alone.  I slept alone.  I studied alone.  

I will admit I had moments of uncertainty.  How did one go about hiring a crew?  How would we obtain work?  I knew how to fly the ship but I could not fix it if it broke.  I also needed people who knew how to protect whatever we were hired to transport.  In fact, when I first decided to go into business for myself and leave the dynasty to my sister and her future offspring, I had little more than a concept to work with and no true mentor to guide me.

I began researching various positions that I thought I would need to hire for my own vessel.  I looked at wanted ads and came to the conclusion that I could pay six people’s salaries for one year without the Chimera making any profit whatsoever that first twelve months.  If we were unsuccessful, I would reduce the crew by two people at the beginning of my next fiscal year.  After that, a profit had to be made.

I would not go back to my family with my pride in hand.

I placed an ad for private security with a vague outline of the job duties associated with the position. Alongside it ran an ad for an engineer, a computer scientist, and a co-pilot. I turned away several unqualified individuals, grateful I had arranged for the meetings to take place in a public place far from the only treasure I possessed at that time.

Sawyer was the first candidate that seemed both knowledgeable and harmless. I hired him on the spot and he came aboard that night. He has been with me ever since and plays a more vital role to my crew than even Anya, my co-pilot and lover, knows.  His instincts have yet to fail me. I sometimes wonder if he’s psychic, which is ridiculous.


Sawyer and I have worked with a number of others over the last few years, but I think we’re both in agreement now that we finally have the crew we want to keep together.  There is synergy among the seven of us. We work well together and trust each other as much as a group of mercenaries can. Not that we don’t have our differences from time to time. We do. As captain and owner of the vessel, it is my job to make sure these conflicts are resolved quickly and fairly. 

My Summer So Far

Summers are one of the busiest times of year for our family.  Last year, we had a graduation party to plan, which meant we were redoing flower beds and cleaning up the yard for most of May and June. Sure, we still managed to get some weekends away in our camper, but not nearly as often as we have been able to do this year.  And the summer isn't even over yet!  We've got at least another month, possibly a month and a half, of good camping weather ahead of us.

Our Home Away From Home

Look how clean the campsite appears in that picture!  That's not normal.  Ken and I rarely camp by ourselves, which means there's usually chairs, shoes, and empty cans everywhere.  Normally, there is a group of trailers or even tents filled with our friends and family nearby. In fact, now that I stop and think about it, I think this upcoming weekend may be the first time this summer we're camping solo...unless you count the fact that we're camping at the same place the youngest boy is having football camp.  I'm not counting it because we'll be in one area of the campground in our camper and the kids and coaches will be at the other end in the cabins.  Far from where I'll be reading and sleeping.

Because, other than walking the dog, that's really all I do while we camp.


Okay, so fine, maybe I play corn hole, a frisbee game or two, and enjoy tubing down a lazy river on a sweltering summer day.

And, yes, I'm the photographer 99.9% of the time.

Of course, camping isn't all we've done so far this summer.  We also managed to sneak in a family vacation to the Boston, Massachusetts area, too.  We went with our best friends and their two boys. Driving from Michigan to Massachusetts meant we could stop at Niagara Falls if we took the Canadian route, which is exactly what we did.

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

19841984 by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review added on 03/09/2017 after second reading.

Date first read unknown. I was either a teenager or in my early 20s at the time.


What I remembered about this book before picking it up again was that Big Brother was always malevolently watching. That's about it. The particulars were absent from my long term memory. I could not recall much about either character or plot.

I think I will remember more after reading it a second time, not only because the story is fresh in my mind but because there was so much in this story that seemed to resonate with current events. We know that American intelligence agencies are fully capable of - and likely are - eavesdropping on citizens. The technology exists and the threat of terrorism provides fearful incentive to loosen privacy rights. In fact, on the radio this morning the FBI director pretty much said no one should expect privacy. So, yes, Big Brother is definitely watching and listening and monitoring.

This book also introduces the concept of doublethink. One has only to do a quick Youtube search to find video footage of Kellyanne Conway using the phrase "alternative facts" to explain away the current administrations lies. Further, by persistently labeling the mainstream media as liars, the administration is laying a foundation for those already predisposed to have faith in the goodness of the President they've elected to dismiss anything that might challenge their worldview.
This willful denial of reality on one hand and the eagerness to believe in these "alternative facts" is strikingly similar to doublethink.

Luckily, the similarities between Oceania and America end there. In reality, the press fights on and the three branches of government offer checks and balances sorely missing from The Party's style of governance. We do not rewrite history books, textbooks, or newspaper articles to suit a carefully structured present narrative. We object to torture where false confessions may be uttered simply to stop the pain.

Orwell's Oceania is definitely not the future anyone would wish to mold into being. Instead, it is a warning of power unchecked. It is a call to awareness, encouraging the reader to think critically and to fight against governmental oppression.

View all my reviews


Educating Myself on Economics

Oh, boy.  I just finished reading this here book and, boy, was it painful!  So much so that there were several times I almost marked the book DNF; Did Not Finish, for those of you unfamiliar with the terminology.  Pure will power kept me going.  That and a refusal to let a book I was really struggling to understand defeat me.

Pride.  It cometh before the fall, yes?

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler was recommended to me by an economics professor here at the university where I work.  It was one of many titles, actually, that he provided when I sent him a note in the middle of 2016 presidential election asking for books a newbie like myself would be able to grasp.  I explained to him that despite two degrees I had somehow managed to avoid taking a single economics course and had decided it was well past time for me to get a basic understanding of some general principles.  He sent back this list:


  •  how economics as a discipline analyzes how people make choices and how markets work/fail: How Markets Fail by John Cassidy (he writes for the New Yorker); 
  • Misbehaving by Richard Thaler (about behavioral economics, which argues that people are not as good at making choices as economists have traditionally assumed)
  • capitalism as an economic system: Capitalism by David Coates
  • summaries of what famous economists have said and why we still care: The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner

After a moment's consideration, I made a hasty purchase.  I picked Misbehaving because I find psychology so much more compelling than economics and that book seemed to promise a bit of psychology with its economics messaging.  That assumption wasn't far off.  The author began his pioneering career in behavioral economics by working with members of psychology departments across the academic landscape.

I will admit there were bits and pieces in the book that made me smile.  Perhaps knowing this subject is not an easy one to digest, the author does inject some self-deprecating humor along the way.  It helps.  Some.  Unfortunately, there were only a few sections of the book that really managed to break through to me.

In the section on American football, I actually found some of his observations to be of interest only because my husband is an avid fan of the sport and I thought he might find some of these studies of interest.  What I remember:

  • The teams don't make smart draft decisions because they're more interested in immediate payoff than long-term team composition.  This can be seen when they'll make poor trades to get a big name player that may or may not pan out when the smarter move would have been to let the big name player go and get more for their money in future drafts.  There was some math involved; I couldn't explain it if I tried. 
  • Statistically, not enough teams go for the fourth down.  Too many punts. 
The section on game shows gave him an opportunity to study risk assessment when big money was on the line.  He used a game similar to Deal or No Deal as his case study.  What I learned there was that people are not good at assessing loss and gains as pure math.  They use their gut instincts, which usually results in loss. Again, more math I can't explain. 

It wasn't until the end of the book that he hit on a couple of topics that I found of great interest: government and education.  I cannot summarize as well as he can state, so allow me a few quotes. 

Government andTaxes:

"One important macroeconomic policy begging for a behavioral analysis is how to fashion a tax cut aimed at stimulating the economy. Behavioral analysis would help, regardless of whether the motive for the tax cut is Keynesian—to increase demand for goods—or supply side—aimed at getting “job creators” to create even more jobs. There are critical behavioral details in the way a tax cut is administered, details that would be considered SIFs in any rational framework. If Keynesian thinking motivates the tax cut, then policy-makers will want the tax cut to stimulate as much spending behavior as possible." 

"The same questions apply to a supply-side tax cut. Suppose we are contemplating offering a tax holiday to firms that bring money home to the U.S. instead of keeping it stashed in foreign subsidiaries to avoid taxation. To design and evaluate this policy we need an evidence-based model that will tell us what firms will do with the repatriated money. Will they invest it, return it to shareholders, or hoard it, as many U.S. firms have been doing since the financial crisis? This makes it hard to predict what firms would do if they found themselves with a greater share of that cash held domestically. More generally, until we better understand how real firms behave, meaning those run by Humans, we cannot do a good job of evaluating the impact of key public policy measures."

Education

"This intervention involved sending texts to half the parents in some school in advance of a major math test to let them know that their child had a test coming up in five days, then in three days, then in one day. The researchers call this approach “pre-informing.” The other half of parents did not receive the texts. The pre-informing texts increased student performance on the math test by the equivalent of one additional month of schooling, and students in the bottom quartile benefited most. These children gained the equivalent of two additional months of schooling, relative to the control group." 

"Considering that schools are one of the oldest of society’s institutions, it is telling that we have not figured out how to teach our children well. We need to run experiments to figure out how to improve, and have only just started doing so. What should that tell us about creations much newer than schools, such as modern corporations? Is there any reason to think we know the best way to run them? It is time for everyone—from economists to bureaucrats to teachers to corporate leaders—to recognize that they live in a world of Humans and to adopt the same data-driven approach to their jobs and lives that good scientists use.."

Perhaps the most interesting and salient quote of the book, though, is rather short and simple: " we agree about the facts, we just disagree about the interpretation."  This truism appeared continually through the book as the author and his various co-authors went up against more traditionally-minded economists in both print and in person. 

Rating this book on Goodreads is difficult for me because I don't think I can give the content a fair assessment.  I can only rate it based on my emotional reaction to the text.  This seems unfair because I think had I understood more of it better, my rating would improve.  Therefore, with this in mind, I've given this a slight bump to a three star rating.  

The Post I've Hesitated to Write

My intentions for this blog are fluid.  One day, it's a place to talk about books and writing.  The next, I've decided I don't have enough to say on those two topics alone and this space would better serve as a kind of family or personal journal.  A mommy blog, if you will.  I try not to post anything too intimate or controversial.

Yet, here I am, going where I'm not even sure I want to go.  

Politics and religion.  Feminism.  Liberal ideology and conservatism.  These are topics I normally avoid writing about without a fictional filter.  These are topics I know bring out the trolls in groves, and who has the time or energy for angry, argumentative people?  Not me.  In fact, before writing this post I debated for several days on whether or not I would close down comments.  Because while I feel compelled to write down the thoughts that are overwhelming me these days, I really do not feel the need to justify how I feel or think or believe to anyone.  Also, my beliefs are well ingrained and not so malleable.  

So, if I'm really not interested in debate, why do I feel compelled to write on these hot topics?  It's a reasonable question.  

I write because I can. 

I write because I have strong opinions on a variety of issues.

I write because I hope there's someone out there who will find a like-minded soul and feel a little less alone.  

I write because I know there are many who call those like me precious little liberal snowflakes that need to get a life, get a job, and check into reality.  They say the protesters this weekend following President Trump's inauguration are just sad that their free hand-outs are coming to an end (insultingly dismissive).  They mock the participants of the Women's March as being overly sensitive feminists who seem to be unaware that women have achieved perfect equality (they haven't). Those kind of comments tend to rile me a bit because I want to point out this precious little liberal snowflake is immersed in reality and wonders if the person complaining about those protesters and marchers has ever looked beyond their own privilege. 

You see, I check off a lot of boxes that my Facebook feed tells me conservatives alone think they fulfill.  For example, I don't get any government (state or federal) handouts.  Instead, I'm employed and make a decent living wage.  I have employer-provided healthcare.  I pay taxes.  I am Christian.  I support the Second Amendment.  I uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  I support the police.  I condemn violence. I support veterans and active military personnel. I honor our flag. 

That a liberal can be a contributing member of society and can support some of the same things conservatives do should come as no surprise, but I imagine it does to some.  Sadly.    

This last weekend I've experienced a multitude of emotions as a plethora of negative comments streamed across my social media.  I've been dispirited, outraged, saddened, disgusted, and uplifted. I've struggled to keep my opinions to myself with mixed results.  For everything I say on Facebook or on Twitter, there's so much more I keep to myself.  

But I've reached the point where I feel more needs to be said, which brings us to this post.  This is my space in a way that Facebook and Twitter are not.  Here I can take time and space to say what I wish without worrying about bombarding my friends with yet another political post they do not want to read on Facebook.  Here I have more than 140 characters to express myself.

As I have already outed myself as Lefty Liberal, it should come as no surprise that I did not vote for Trump.  I have a great many reasons, none of which are because I'm afraid of someone taking away the free ride I don't get.  I didn't vote for Trump because I found him problematic in a number of ways.  I doubt his ability to run this country in a way that will uphold the democratic values of the United States of America.  Frankly, I think he's unfit.  

That being said, as much as I dislike it, he is my president.  At least, he will be my president until he's impeached and Mike Pence takes over the position.  And that's not wishful thinking because I really don't want to see what a Mike Pence presidency would look like, either. 

Instead of focusing on all the reasons why I detested Trump on November 8, 2016, though, I'd like to focus on what has happened since his inauguration.  When people tell me to "give him a chance," I can already point to some troubling trends that tell me he's already wasting that chance to prove he's the man I want representing this country.

1.  The birth of Alt-facts.  

A combination of photos taken at the National Mall shows the crowds attending the inauguration ceremonies to swear in U.S. President Donald Trump at 12:01pm (L) on January 20, 2017 and President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, in Washington, DC, U.S. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (L), Stelios Varias

The emergence of Alt-facts followed Press Secretary Sean Spicer's accusations that the press misrepresented the crowd sizes of the 2009 and 2017 inauguration ceremonies in this side-by-side visual of the two events.  It was coined when Trump's best defender and spin-doctor attempted to defend Mr. Spicer's lies.



Yes, all this over something as ridiculous and petty as the crowd size at Trump's inauguration.  That our new president's ego is so fragile that his Press Secretary felt the need to condemn the media for simply reporting a demonstrable fact is alarming. I see this as a continued attack on not just the press but on American reality.  I say this because I know - just know - there will be Trump supporters who will buy into the alternative facts being spun by Kellyanne and now Mr. Spicer.  And I find this alarming.

It worries me because I wonder how far our new administration will go to control what the masses consume.

It brings to mind Orwell's 1984.

The only thing that gives me some reassurance is this amazing letter written by the U.S. Press Corps.


2.  His Aggressive and Mocking Tone on Twitter

I was raised to respect the office of the President of the United States even when you dislike the man in the chair or disagree with his policies.  Trump makes it difficult for me to respect him as a person, which means I can only respect the office in which he has been appointed and hope the man holding it does not tarnish it in such a way that we're years in repairing the damage he does to it.

President Trump's thin skin and delicate ego make headlines almost daily because he uses Twitter like some people use their best friend's sympathetic ear.   Only, instead of bemoaning the world's abuses in the privacy of one's home or over a glass of wine or beer at the local pub, he does it on the internet for the entire world to read.  I find this embarrassing.

Allow me to demonstrate and try to remember citizens and leaders around the WORLD are able to read these tweets.





These are from January 2017 and they are mild in comparison to what came during and before the election.  There have been so many petty and childish whines on his Twitter account that many people, myself included, do not find funny or acceptable.  I try to imagine a world were those tweets were written by Hillary Clinton or President Obama, and when I do I can almost hear the outcry of conservatives across this nation.  The only reason I think they excuse Trump's thin-skinned retaliatory nature is that they can't admit to any disappointment in someone they've championed for so long.

That or they delight in his petty childishness, which I find even more saddening.

Maybe this is the kind of behavior you find amusingly inappropriate when it's your friends or family, but our president should have a better temperament when operating in the public sphere.   He should show more class and restraint.  More graciousness.



3.  His First Moves

For the most part, his cabinet selections have been appalling.  I didn't realize his "drain the swamp" slogan meant he was going to fill every high level administrative position with individuals who appear to mostly oppose the mission of the departments they've been asked to run.

Then again, I have to remind myself that while I find this problematic, most of his supporters want so many different things dismantled.  What I mourn, others celebrate.  That's been the hardest lesson learned this election.

I want clean drinking water, clean oceans, and breathable air over jobs that have historically been responsible for destroying those very things. Yet, I know others are willing to sacrifice the environment by easing EPA regulations because they believe those regulations prevent jobs from being created in their states.

I want someone in charge of education that actually understands and has experience in the public sector as an educator.

I want someone to protect workers over corporate bottom lines. Someone who wasn't sued by his employees because he denied them lunches and asked them to arrive early and work late while "off the clock".

I want someone who is able to engage in diplomacy in the highest office in this nation and, if he's not up to the task, I want the Secretary of State to be able to moderate his knee-jerk, playground bully mentality.  I also want the Secretary of State to have the general citizen in mind while making decisions and not cater to corporate greed.

Oh...here.  This pretty much sums up my thoughts on what I'm seeing in the cabinet selection process and Trump's ascension.


Not my image.  Borrowed from http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/Donald-Trump/ss/Trump-Election-Victory.htm#step30 original copyright belongs to Occupy Democrats.