My Life Ate My Homework

My intentions were to be a sterling student in my #blogging101 class.  I did the preparatory steps on Sunday per the instructions and was all set to go for my first assignment on Monday.

Cold weather descended on central Virginia complete with dead car batteries, low tires, an unexpected near medical crisis with my granddaughter (all turned out well), a choir concert, and a travelling husband testing positive for flu and on bed rest in his business hotel room.

So, here I am attempting to catch up.  I know I will, I know I will, I know I will, I know …

I now begin my Monday (last) assignment.Carol's madmen avatar

Who am I? #Blogging101 Redux

My introduction of myself was so whiny.  Allow me to try again.

I am a very involved sixty-five year old (sixty-five is the new fifty active in politics and Rotary.  Soon I will be winding up my law practice which by now is really only very part-time.

Blogging is an outlet for me, as well as an additional tool I hope to use to promote some of my causes and to communicate with fellow volunteers.

Though I admit to be not being very ‘techie’, I enjoy the learning process and find satisfaction with I work through my frustration to figure out how to do something.

Politics and Rotary don’t leave much time for other pursuits, but I enjoy reading English murder mysteries, drinking Italian Roast coffee and Virginia wines, and watching documentaries on YouTube and Netflix.  I am fond of animals, particularly my Australian Shepherd, Jack.  He is the star of my header.

I am not a sports enthusiast but could watch major and international league soccer for hours.

So, this laconic pundit has shared … a lot, for her.

Rosalyn Dance — Why I support her for the 16th Virginia Senatorial District

Richmond does not own the 16th Virginia Senatorial District!

Seventy percent or so of the district lies south of the James River, yet Richmonders assume that the seat is inherently theirs.

Those of us who reside outside of Richmond and its annexed neighbors want a Virginia Senator who well understands the entire district and that person should be Delegate Rosalyn Dance who ably represents the 63rd Virginia House District.  The 63rd includes all or parts of five of the localities contained in the 16th.

Her legislative experience and know-how is deep, having served as a Petersburg City Councilwoman and mayor and having served as a leader in the minority Democratic Party in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Her accessibility and responsiveness is legendary and her ability to assess issues dispassionately to serve her constituents is unrivaled by those competing with her for the Democratic nomination for the special election in the 16th.

Political enemies in her last primary attempted to label her as disloyal to Democratic stands on issues, but that effort was total fabrication as testimonials from fellow House Democrats, actual video tapes of her floor speeches, and the House Record demonstrate.

Why do I support Rosalyn Dance to be the Democratic nominee for the 16th Virginia Senate District?  I have personally observed her critical thinking skills, her compassion, her attention to detail, her responsiveness to citizens, her accessibility, and her just plain honest demeanor. From working legislatively and in the community to curb domestic violence, to improve schools for all, to prevent a return of the tolls on I-95, to support effective care for the mentally challenged, to support military veterans and their families, to support voting rights and many other efforts, she has worked tirelessly for the citizens of the 63rd Virginia House District.   I want her representing the 16th Virginia Senatorial District.

She represents the citizens, not personal gain or special interests.


Firehouse Fiefdoms

The Prince George  Fire Chiefs lost their battle last week to keep total control over their own firehouse volunteer personnel.  Now the Chiefs will serve as an advisory board to the Director of Fire and EMS.  The Director will make all decisions about staffing the six houses.  This move on the part of the Board of Supervisors has been in the works for well over two years though it has been talked about far longer.

The change was prompted by objective statistics on emergency response times, the untimely death of a Prince George woman waiting for a crew to arrive, and recent underwriting standards which resulted in exponential increases in fire insurance for residents in certain sections of the county.  No need to mention the difficulty recruiting and training volunteer firefighters and EMTs  who otherwise work full time jobs and must meet the same state certification standards as paid professionals.

The Director, who will also have budget decisions about acquisition, equipment management, and other management functions in this critical county function,  is seemingly well liked, even respected, by the Chiefs, but it is still a blow to the traditions of given fire house communities and a bitter bill to swallow for some.  While we may have sympathy for those grieving over the loss of tradition, we must consider that the move to professional management of a critical county function is necessary for a county of about 270 square miles and 37,000 residents.

That’s how I see it.

How do you see it?

Storm Pax

Storm Pax and I have so much in common.  It came in with a mixture of the symptoms of winter storms … cold, snow, ice, sleet, wind.  I awoke yesterday,  the morning of Pax, with a mixture of the symptoms of the common cold … chills, sneezing, dripping, sore throat, maybe a temp.

In Prince George most of the impact of Pax was the anticipation of Pax.  We watched it approaching (is Pax a he or a she?) on the weather maps.  When would it arrive?  Would it bring snow or ice and what timing for either? Would we lose electricity?  How long would we lose it?  What if we ran out of  _____?

My own cold had no such anticipation.  It was upon me.  I was in the grip of the juicy, nasty brunt of it.  I would take a nap and awake to a new, different set of symptoms.  No longer sneezing or dripping, but stopped up,  unable to hear well and with a headache.  Another nap taken and an awakening to a return of the sneezing and sore throat and thus the day progressed.

In between naps I made efforts to continue Pax prep … cooked up some chili, meat loaf, and veggies (such things are easier to heat up on my Coleman camp stove when we lose power); filled all of my ice tea pitchers, large bowls, doggie water bowls, and water bottles with, well, water. (Oh, nearly forgot the London Broil I roasted.)  I was totally determined that we would not starve or suffer dehydration  if we lost power.

Finally, my daughter reserved a hotel room for us should we really lose power for the duration … so much cheaper than a whole house generator.

Awoke this morning with slushy snow on the ground, a heck of a lot of cooked  food in the refrigerator, a sore throat,  a juicy cold, and power.

Sexting, Digital Erotica or Digital Indecent Exposure?

I tweeted  this morning … “Does anyone under 30 think that Anthony Weiner’s sexting disqualifies him from running for public office?”  Perhaps I should have asked “…holding pubic office?”

When thinking about writing this blog I had trouble remembering Weiner’s first name.  Perhaps it is the unfortunate colloquial use of his last name, but I also had the same problem remembering Eliot Spitzer’s first name.  It is also that in the media lust for reducing all issues to the lowest common denominator in that the two men have become linked in having similar moral failings and having had, in the past, the trust of the public as they performed their elective duties?

I distinguish the two in that Spitzer broke the law, used public funds to procure sex across state lines (you prosecutors out there can correct me on this.)  As far as I know Weiner did not.  But what has he done (or is he doing?)

He was “sexting” or sending explicit images of his genitalia and other body parts, as well as, I assume explicit language to willing, of-age, recipients. Understand, I have not received any of his messages, but I have gotten them from others.  I have been lead to believe that teenies and others consider sending such images as an acceptable expression of … well I’m not sure, but it is not considered lewd or immoral, though most would not want their mothers to see the posts.

Though folks over 40, an arbitrary age decidedly, might find sexting disgusting, lascivious, ridiculous, icky, or laughable, those under 30 might find it a matter of freedom of speech, freedom of personal brand management, or simply just a routine option to satisfy the mood of the moment.

We can argue whether sexting conveys poor judgment, moral lapse, a mental disorder or just stupidity.  It may be normal for constituents  deciding for whom to  vote  might ask about that candidate’s maturity level.  Whatever his age one would have thought he was past the “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” kind of encounters.

The digital world is changing our language, our reading habits, our standards of acceptable discourse. Is “sexting” one of those inevitable changes?

I’m thinking this through.

Oh, and no apologies for the pun in the title.

My Twitterverse

My Twitterverse, the Creation:  I began tweeting in 2009 I believe.  My first tentative tweet was something like “Hello world.”  Then my twitter account was dormant for a couple of months.  I think I wanted to be sure I presented myself as I wanted to be perceived.  Finally, I realized I just wanted to present the person I am and find some like minded twppl and to follow twppl who were writing and doing interesting things.  Now I am totally out there … Rotarian, atheist (or antitheist as Hitch would say), Democrat, grandmother, lawyer, wife … not in any particular order.

My Twamily:  Each twitter community is self selecting.  Ican choose to follow or not follow based on any criteria I establish and I can change my mind.  Early on I started using certain tweeters to help me learn my  twitiquette.  @sandinbrick was one of my unwitting twutors and now, I believe, we consider each other as friends.  I have lost twppl who passed away, lived through illness and adversity with others and just had a lot of laughs with still others.  Here are some of my “rules” for selection —

I will follow commercial tweeters if they don’t sell, sell, sell in all of their tweets.  Love it when they throw in a joke, good quote, or something historical.  Also I don’t respond to DMs (tweeters know what this is) trying to sell me something.  To me DMs are personal.  I follow some commercial tweeters because in this post 2008 world many ppl are trying to make a living or supplement an income through social media.

I also will follow twppl who post often in a foreign language as long as they have posted some tweets in English so I get a sense of who they are.  I’ve bought a Spanish dictionary and am about to buy a French dictionary so I can do my own rough translations when time permits.

I will follow some twppl on the opposite end of the political/philosophical spectrum just to learn their views, logic, basis for belief and so on.  Occasionally, I’ll make the mistake of trying to carry on civil discourse with a Tea Partier, a libertarian or a religious zealot only to get ganged up on and insulted.  So much for the art of civil discourse and the exchange of ideas.  Don’t make the mistake of believing they can converse intelligently or politely.  In the end you can block them so they don’t send any dark tweets your way.

Sex Bots and extreme profanity have not place in my twitterverse.  From time to time I cull who I follow because they eventually work their way in by changing identity and showing their true colors.  Other tweeters may want a community of these twolk but there is enough profanity in this jostling world for me.

My Twitter Benefits:  If friendship isn’t enough there are other benefits.  Education, breaking news, blog access, links to more articles, youtubes and other sources than there is time to enjoy fully.  And yes, there are times the twitterverse is a brief respite from all the work on my desk.  I take a short break and dip into the twitterverse to refresh me so I can go back to work.  I also sometimes have the opportunity to inform others.  This is especially true in the political junkie world.  You can find tons of information by following @vademocrats if you want to be informed on Virginia political events or @VAhistorical if you are interested in Virginia history and then there is @VAStateParks for outdoor activities.

Some caution must be addressed here.  When a tweet is limited to 140 characters it is inevitable that misunderstandings can occur.  Recently when I followed back a great tweeter, I told her that I had FB.  She took that to mean that I was inviting her to join me on Facebook (I’ll deal with Facebook another time.)

It is also a very good idea to view a conversation before you join-in.  Without doing that you may have tweeted a totally irrelevant, ridiculous or just inane comment on something you didn’t understand.  It’s like that in real time face-to-face communications also, isin’t it?

Finally, despite the lack of complete or comprehensive exchanges, tweets are like poetry at times in their precise communication.  When that happens the tweeter is rewarded with a fav or RT.  Don’t know RT?  Join Twitter and find out.

Follow me on #twitter @CarolDWoodward.  I #followback.





How Do I Know Summer is Passing?

I know summer is passing because …

Granddaughter Emma has returned from summer with her father in the mountains of North Carolina.  She is 10 now, but somehow, older than ten — an inch taller, 2 shoe sizes larger and with pierced ears.

Elections are 60 days away.  Virginia has an election every year.  Does that happen elsewhere?  Being a Democrat in Virginia is tough going.  I know there are a lot of closet Democrats, but why?  The Republicans I’ve seen aren’t that scary, not necessarily very bright, but not scary.  Prince George County has 10 precincts in its 267 square mile footprint.  Xena gets a lot of miles on her every election day.

Acorns are dropping.  People with a lot of oaks know what I am talking about.  Sadly, we lost many of our oaks in Irene last year and subsequently had a few more taken down.  Broke my hear tto have them felled but watching oaks bending over double through my skylights is somewhat anxiety provoking.

Speaking of storms — I know it is Fall because it is hurricane season.  I am afraid of all storms that begin with “I” such as ice storm, Isabel, Irene.  I heard a couple of weeks ago about Hurricane  Isaac and thought oh, s****.  Thankfully, Isaac only threatened Republicans.  Of course, by now I know and have experienced a derecho so must add “d” storms to my scared-of storms list. Let’s not talk about the Louisa earthquake.

Finally, I know Summer is passing because I am longing for sweater days even though it is in the 90s most days.  But, Jack’s Aussie undercoat is starting to grow in so sweater days are not far away.

Where is that LL Bean catalog?  Image

The Passing of a Brother

Last week one of my younger brothers died.

His death came via a year of hospitalizations for acute crises, tearful family phone calls and the growing, gnawing realization that his passing was inevitable with only the date being uncertain.

I received the call early last Friday from a brother-in-law that Paul’s end had come the night before in a state distant from my own.  Another phone conversation followed with a sister bereft with grief and sobbing so hard she could hardly catch her breath.  She was not at her home yet but was in her son’s apartment on her way back from a mission trip in Joplin, Missouri.  Her son was at work.  I urged her to contact him.  She need someone with her to deal with this “inevitable” family sadness.

Initially, I felt numb.  This passing was  expected, after all.  In a few hours however, I knew I was not so immune to this loss of a brother.  My energy level was low and I felt oddly disconnected to the usual routines of my life.  By the following day I realized I was remembering my brother as a child, an adolescent.  I was remembering our childhood, our adolescence.  We grew up together.  He was only three years younger than I.  As my mind processed various events and escapades from our past, I more often had a smile around my lips and not tears.

Yes, his death was inevitable … with only the date being uncertain.  The same is true for the rest of us.  My husband reminds me from time to time that “none of us are going to get out of this alive.”    I often laugh at this somewhat macabre reminder, but now it is almost a freeing reminder that it is the time before we die that is what we control, enjoy, experience, etc.   You select the verb.

Writing such personal thoughts do not come easily to me.  To describe me as stoic would probably be understatement.  However, I have sobbed to the point of nausea upon the death of a beloved pet and embarrassingly teared up  watching “Bottle Shock” and the “Loving Story.”

Yesterday, one week after being informed of my brother’s death, I awoke to the frenetic reporting of the Aurora, Colorado shootings.  This mass murder brought on many more reflections.  None of us get out alive, but does it make a difference if death is slow and the result of disease or condition than if it is the result of a sudden criminal act?  This is a rhetorical question for now, but it will be percolating in my subconscious for a while.

The reality is that most of us have little control over the timing and circumstances of our deaths.  Suicide, euthanasia, and advance medical directives are qualifiers of that statement.  But basically life is what we have around us at this moment.  The next moment is not promised.  Christians will disagree with this “in the now” orientation because for them life is everlasting, but that belief does not persuade skeptics.

Goodbye, Paul Cunningham.  May you rest in peace.