Greetings, Tracy! I notice you haven't been active at Atheist Nexus lately. <sigh> Sometimes it can seem a bit fragmented, with different groups for every interest. Please consider a group for socializing, where we talk about whatever's on our minds, Hang With Friends. :D You might feel more at home.
I still have the 6 dollar check they gave me. I figured I'd frame it as a keepsake of that event and hang it up somewhere where everyone could see it and go off about the whole story when asked. But time went by and I forgot about it. I can't even remember where I put the damned thing.
Yeah that jury duty was a freakin nightmare. The sad thing about it was I was excited about it too. I was like this is the first time I voted in my life and I don't see how I can complain about jury duty when I've taken advantage of that freedom. Besides if it were me I'd want to judged by a jury of my peers. I'm a very anxious person and usually highly excitable so when things like this come up I can't sleep the night before. From the very moment I set foot in the building(weird thing was the municipal building was located in Ft Worth not Euless or Grapevine or anywhere near me which meant I had to drag my ass across town to get there.) I was juiced on stimulants. First it was a cigarette then mountain dew than more cigarettes at the first break then more mountain dew. All on an empty stomach, at one point I was sure I was going to have a heart attack. I brought a book but when I'm that tired words tend to run together and the next thing I know I've read several chapters with no memory of what I read. When they finally told us we were off the hook I was relieved but also pissed. In the beginning I was like YAY I'm preforming my civic duty this is so exciting. At the end I was like Well shit no wonder everyone hates getting jury duty, our justice system is so inefficient and unproductive.
Euless might not be the most eventful place and I've described it as downright boring at times but I am surrounded by parks with what you might describe as densely wooded areas so possums are a frequent occurrence. I think they're kind of cute. Also a potential rabies threat so I don't get close to them and watch my dog carefully when walking my dog at night. I have been smoking outside in apartments late at night and the little creatures nearly scared the crap out of me. Fortunately even though they've been known to venture into the urban areas around late spring and summer I can't remember ever seen them run over. I have however seen my fair share of roadkill cats walking around. There was this one time when we found 4 dead baby possums in our backyard. If I'd have been a superstitious person I'd have said it was a sign of a bad omen. A sad thing to see but at least I didn't have to clean it up.
Well, I can assure you that you will like Amsterdam when you visit. I lived there mostly for the better part of 14 years. It is small at under a million people and low-rise with most buildings not over four stories high. Everything is very easily accessible by clean, efficient, and cheap public transportation - especially the tram (electric streetcars). Everyone also rides a bike. The people are friendly, tolerant, well educated, and speak English - all of them. The culture is extremely transparent and diversity is celebrated. People expect and enjoy differences of opinion and lifestyle. Money is far less important than intellectual capital. Capitalism abound, so there are plenty of millionaires and plenty of opportunities to start and run businesses, however, there is a social safety net that includes education, health care, a place to live, and food to eat - as a matter of right! Children are revered, as are old people. There is no military to speak of, very few police, and no nuclear weapons or space program to pay for. The infrastructure - roads, bridges, public transport - is well maintained, intelligently provided for, and efficiently managed. All in all, it is a terrific place to live. The U.S. perception of Holland as a place where drugs and free sex are rampant is as foolish as our ideas about the rest of the world. As it turns out there is more heroin and prostitution in New York City on a weekend than there is in Holland in a year, but we don't seem to take note of that. Yes, pot and hash are openly served to adults in coffee houses and sex can be sold by consenting adults to consenting adults. Well, enough on the Dutch and their country. It is a beautiful place. Visit, you will like it.
I'm also looking forward to Obama's speech and wishing him well. He'll need all our good wishes and support. I know it is unrealistic, but I can't help wishing he'd use the opportunity to give the whole country a lecture on citizenship. We need to grow up, and we need a president who isn't afraid to tell us to do so, right now. Have a quick look at Bob Herbert's column in today's NYTimes. He hits the nail right on the head. We are allowing a bunch of nut-case wackjobs to guide the national political discussion. It is time to stop this. We have very difficult problems in education, health care, environment, economy, etc., etc., etc., and an ever-growing, unsupportable national debt - we need to wake up and start addressing these issues intelligently. Obama's presidency should be about that, and he needs to get focused on how badly we need strong, intelligent leadership. By that, I mean that he needs to forget what people want to hear and start telling the truth. So for example, we will need to pay more taxes, not less; we will need to do without not consume more; we will need to get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan or watch them become Viet Nam all over again; we will need to start spending more to educate our children, fix our infrastructure, clean up our environment, and ensure good healthcare - and, we will have to pay higher taxes to do all that. If we aren't willing to do all that intelligently and pay for it, we are going to watch our country sink into the biggest mess you've ever seen. It really is as simple as that, and I'd like to see Obama force all of us to face it!
Well, it is a rainy day and I am wondering what I should do with myself instead of playing golf, which I had planned to do? :)
I will be playing some matches in Virginia Beach at the end of next week and the beginning of the following week. Maybe that would be a good time to drop by and meet you for drinks on the way back to Williamsburg.
I had my own brush with nature recently. I went to the Brookfield zoo in Chicago and for some reason I really like goats and couldn't wait to see the petting zoo. Got to the goats and fed them some of those pellets and when they were all gone I decided to let one of the goats lick my hand because what could go wrong? They let kids do this. Well the goat bit my hand. It hurt a little but at least it didn't break the skin. Another time at a different petting zoo in Fort Worth they had armadillos which they have lying in pieces all over our highways. Without thinking I blurted out to the zoo keeper that I'd never seen one alive before and I'll be damned if a couple didn't come by and say the same exact thing. Those are the only real entertaining zoo stories I have but I do have a buttload of pictures from the Brookfield zoo if you want to see them.
Nice to hear back from you. You are a much more rational person than I am - okay, I'm just a man, so that's to be expected! :) Seriously, I do agree with all the points you made on Obama's presidency - our hopes for it, and his significant progress in a very short time since the election. My own frustration comes more from the nut-case right wing's ranting at him (and his reasonable responses) than from anything he's said or done. I have a guy's natural reaction - I want him to wack them, hard!
I can tell you that I am very proud of him in so many ways. Especially abroad. Like you, I found it difficult to be abroad and American during the Bush years. All my friend in Europe were amazed to see Obama elected and also thrilled, and still are. Like you, I very much want him to succeed. There is so much to address, so much to change. Watching the lobbying on the healtcare proposals makes me realize how difficult his course is going to be. I'm very anxious to hear what he has to say to the country and to Congress next Wednesday night, aren't you?
While I agree about Obama's attempts at bi-partisanship, I do think enough is enough. There was a great piece on the NYTimes editorial page today about Roosevelt's presidency and how the Republicans opposed him every step of the way. He cultivated their hatred, he used it, he went to the people and ridiculed it. Lots of lessons for Obama there! I think Obama does need to go directly to the people more, and I hope his speech Wednesday will see him doing that.
You asked where I was in Europe. I lived in Amsterdam and worked all over Europe. I was often in Italy and, as I'm sure you did, I loved it. We had offices in Milan and I was there a lot. I loved Amsterdam. It's a great city - just the right size and so easy to live in. The people were wonderfully open and tolerant. I still have a house there and wish I could go there more.
I understand about doing something important with your daughter. I have three grown kids. They are all teachers, which, among other things, makes me very, very proud of them. Doing things with them is really important to me, so I know the feeling you had about that. See your kids grow is one of life's great delights, isn't it?
Thanks again for your note. It made me feel a lot better about the political situation and our president. Poor guy, people like me expect so much of him and expect it right away. What a difficult task he has ahead of him! Well, don't worry, I may be anxious for change and constantly wanting him to move more quickly and aggressively, but I'm still very much in his corner and will continue to be - even when I get mad at him.
All the best, and I'm looking forward to meeting you someday soon too.
Thanks for your note. It is nice to hear from you and to have a new, freethinking friend in Virginia. And, thanks also for the invitation to lunch if I find myself in Chesapeake. I do get over your way for golf sometimes, so I'll be sure to let you know when that happens next.
I guess the thesis revelations from McDonnell's past didn't come as much of a surprise to me. First, consider the school where he did his master's work. Then, think about the way an awful lot of people thought 20 years ago! It isn't too hard to believe in that context. Yes, it's disturbing. And, yes, it is hard to know what to do about it, how to involve oneself in a way that would matter. I go round and round about that too. I got very involved in the Obama campaign. Now I am fighting to be realistic about what to expect. I've been disappointed lately that he spends so much time kissing Republican asses, when it is obvious they have no intention of behaving like a loyal opposition or even a responsible opposition. I think he needs to go back and read his campaign speeches! I voted for "change" and would like to see some! I guess the thing to do in Virginia is to get involved locally. That's what I'm going to try to do.
I spent 14 years out of the country just before retiring last year. I'm having a lot of trouble readjusting to the States after being in Europe for so long. I can't believe how conservative, how religious, and how generally unaware of the rest of the world Americans seem to me to have become. Perhaps it is just this area, which I guess isn't exactly the best place for a liberal atheist to settle down and find a lot of like-minded folks :).
Thanks for the nice words about my family. Actually, I have three daughters who are grown and on their own. All teachers. Then, I have two little guys - Stevie and Anna - who are 7 and 4 respectively. I had these last two late in life, but am having a great time with them. Their mother is Dutch. We are no longer together, but we are raising the kids together. She lives close-by and we are friendly and both crazy about the children and anxious for them to have both a mother and a father in their daily lives. They spend a week with me and then a week with their mother. Our houses are close enough so that they can walk from one to the other.
Well, enough about me. Thanks again for writing. I hope to get to meet you sometime soon.
Every Wednesday at Ballston's Cosi, an opportunity is available for other atheists to meet at 7:30pm. Sometimes people attend and sometimes they don't. If you ever have a need to vent or express atheistic thoughts with complete freedom in person, let me know and I, and maybe others, will be there.
Ha! Imagine my delight to find a comment from someone who loves everything I had to say! What a way to wake up in the morning. :) I'm not actually from VA, but PA, but I wouldn't cal that light years apart.:) Dive boat! We're there! Okay, as soon as I get certified. I did get to go diving in Key West a couple of years ago and loved it. Loved it!
Hi Tracy, thanks for dropping a line, very nice to meet you. I would say congrats on ditching the smokes, but we need all the smokers we can get. Well ok, congratulations if it was something you had to do. All I know is if I had to drive around Chesapeake every day I'd have cigarettes poking out of both sides of my mouth and one in the ear for good measure. Take care, Rob
Hi Tracy - just noticed your group GLESEN and joined - it's great to see the tolerance and diversity on here - although one shouldn't really be surprised lol - most people here seem to have a great deal more than half a brain :) Do you have a personal interest in the cause or are you a fellow traveller?