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Archive for July, 2016

I realize that I’ve been quiet for a while. There have been many things that I’ve wanted to write about, but I haven’t been able to figure out how I want to approach them without offending people. Hopefully, I’ve chosen the right course. One of my favorite movie lines, I’m a total movie line geek, comes from 1776. While debating what provisions should be taken out of the Declaration, a frustrated John Adams exclaims, “It’s a revolution, damn it, we’re going to have to offend somebody!”

I wish I could be as self-confident as John Adams. I wish I could speak my mind and not feel so completely vulnerable and attacked when having to defend my position, but I don’t. I wish I had ultimate wisdom, like Solomon, and could tell people what was truly best for this country, but I don’t. I wish I could understand why people hold the positions that they do, but I don’t. I’ve tried to understand, I really have, but I just can’t. So, I’m letting go. I won’t be posting anything on politics for the remainder of this election season and I’m not going to engage in any political discussions. My life is composed of so much more than one day out of the year and I don’t like the anger I was feeling every time I heard or saw ridiculous behavior in the news. This is absolutely the last thing I have to say about politics in this election season.

Notice that I’m not advocating or vilifying any particular political party. That’s on purpose. I’m not going there. I don’t affiliate with any political party anymore. I was born and raised to think that Republicans were the Christian party so I voted that way for a while, mainly because I am pro-life, but then I began to realize that the other principles that many in the party stood for did not, in my opinion, work toward the common good. I’m still pro-life, and pro-child, too. I believe there’s a soul from the beginning. There’s a LOT of work to be done to educate, though, to make free birth control available, to support struggling women who want to keep their children but are in bad situations, and to support children who need it, but that’s a blog for another time. The short answer is that I won’t vote for someone because they say they’re pro-life. The big picture has to be looked at, character and policies must be evaluated, and I have voted for Republican, Democrat, Green Party, and Libertarian candidates if I thought they would do a good job. I’ve not always been happy with my choice. I must confess, though, that I lean toward the liberal side of things. I have friends and friends from many different backgrounds and walks of life: white, black, Asian, Arab,  gay, straight. I want their rights to be respected and protected.

I’ve been through several election seasons, but this is the worst I can remember. There’s a lack of class, dignity, and respect. It’s ugly and I can’t let it eat at me anymore. All I can do is hope that people see, really see, what they’re voting for. I’m doing my homework for my vote. Quietly.

 

 

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Remember in the old movies when people always took the train or the bus to places? So romantic, right? Well, that’s coming back. Public transportation is the way of the future for the big cities and even not-so-big cities. I make no secret that I am in love with the Tube in London. You can be across the city in just minutes: no parking, no traffic, no problem. Sure, it can be crowded and even hot, but the trade-off of not having to hassle with a car is fabulous.

After spending the last few days using public transportation again, which is a wonderful thing when done right (Way to go, Chicago!), I have a few tips for when you ride that bus or train to or around one of our great cities. These are also useful hints for airplanes.

DON’T

  • Have a long cell phone conversation. Trust me when I say that no one wants to hear it. If you have to answer your phone, keep it short and sweet. Your fellow passengers will appreciate it. Better yet, just text.
  • Watch videos on your phone without earbuds. Maximum irritation. Just don’t.
  • Lace your conversation with profanities. I’m no angel myself, but when you’re out in public and around other people, especially in an enclosed environment, have a little class and watch your mouth.
  • Put your feet on the seats. You know that they don’t clean those very often, if at all. Don’t make it worse.
  • Eat a feast. Snacks are fine, usually, but leave the meal at home.

DO

  • Be nice. So many bad situations can be avoided by not being a jerk.
  • Keep your conversations at low volume. Our entire train car had to listen to two early-twenty-something young ladies broadcast their Chicago weekend plans for an hour or so on the way in, punctuated with annoying vocal fry (look it up) and “like” about 500 times. There was nothing wrong with their plan, I just didn’t care to hear them. I know that I was probably just as silly at that age and I will now apologize to every person that I annoyed then with my nonsense talk. Please forgive me for being an airhead.
  • Bring something to do that won’t disturb others. Phones with earbuds are good, a BOOK is a nice thing, an e-reader. Heck, bring a coloring book. Pacing up and down the aisle will not make the trip go faster, I promise.
  • Share the seats.
  • Know how to get off the vehicle. We almost didn’t get off the train at the right stop yesterday because the outside doors on our car weren’t open. I don’t know if we messed up or if the doors were supposed to open, but we almost ended up in South Bend instead of Michigan City. Next time, I’ll check on that before it’s time to get off. Lesson learned.

Obviously, having great public transport is a wonderful thing. If you are fortunate enough to have a good system where you live, use it. Enjoy it. It cuts down on pollution and traffic congestion, making it a greener option when traveling. I really wish that Detroit had reliable buses and trains; we’re moving in that direction, but it will be a long time before we’re up there with Chicago, London, New York, Boston, and others. I would give up my car in a heartbeat if there was a safe train or bus that would take me where I needed to go.

As the use of public transportation is coming back, our need to remember the manners of the past becomes more important. We live in a very “me” oriented world, which can get sticky in a public situation. Be nice, be respectful, and enjoy the ride.

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