8 Ball In The Wind

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Changes Coming

As I look at my life and try to understand where I go from here, it seems clear that I have to change my priorities somewhat.  What I want isn't going to be handed to me on some silver platter, if at all.  There are sacrifices that I am going to have to make, and I can only pray that those sacrifices may aid me in finding what I truly want.  If even what I want has any importance in the cosmic scheme of my life.  It's become more and more evident to me that I seem to have some sort of 'white knight' aspect of my personality.  Not to be a hero, but something much more Quixotic in nature.  It's an instinct to be of service to my friends when needed.  Especially women who are reasonably close to me.  When asked, if I am at all able to help, I will do whatever I can to do so.  Even if there is no real benefit to me by doing so.

In no way is this any sort of misogynistic attitude, where I feel a woman needs a man's help.  Women are absolute equals to men in many ways in general, and both superior and inferior in other more specific factors generally speaking.  It is just an ingrained part of me to offer help whenever I am asked by someone I care about.  

I think I am actually digging myself deeper into a hole by doing this in many cases.  My current financial situation is basically one step above being homeless.  Health issues make it difficult to find work that allows me to be more stable and independent in my life.  While it is true, that I have a relatively large number of women friends with whom I am close, I have none that want to be a part of my life in a manner that is deeper than a good friend.  At least none that I am truly aware of.  It wouldn't surprise me if someone were to tell me that I am wrong about this, but as I see it, I'm not.  

This is why I think that I probably need to change my priorities in life.  I can't rationally believe that a woman would want to be in a relationship with a man who has so little to offer her beyond emotional support.  So, I think it may be time for me to just place the thought of finding a woman to share my life with on the shelf in the closet.  It may mean that for the foreseeable future I continue on alone in life.  Something I have experienced during a great portion of my life, and while I do not desire that to go on, I seem to be heading towards that path in life anyway if I do not make changes.  The option of going back to work is something that I have seriously considered, even with my physical limitations, but have so far been unsuccessful in achieving.  It is something that I am finding myself needing to focus on more and more if I hope to find what I desire in life.  Humble though that desire may be.

Perhaps once I have become more stable in life, and am better able to provide for myself and a possible life partner that I can take that thought back off the shelf and take another look at it.  Hopefully with better options, and possibilities.  What I have experienced in the last couple of years has shown me that the time is not right, yet.  If it ever will be, I have to be in a better place in life.  To be able to find that better place, I will have to make sacrifices in my life.  Ones that I may be totally unaware of at this point.  But something has to change, probably several things.  Or there is no reason to keep moving on except to exist, and simply existing isn't a good life.  

The first change in my life, I think, is to accept that I will be alone for the foreseeable future.  To understand that I am going to continue in this life alone, even with all my friends and family around me.  At least until I reach a position where I am able to provide more effectively for myself.  Perhaps then I will be able to enjoy the opportunity to share my life with a woman again in a mutually satisfying and uplifting manner.  But first, I need ot stop looking for that, and find myself some way with my abilities and skill sets, to begin moving in that direction.  To do otherwise, would simply be setting myself, and any woman who I become involved with, up for failure.  With God's help, I will begin to walk down that straight and narrow path, and rebuild my life into something more desirable a way of living that is worthy of sharing with someone I care for.

So I have to change myself, and how I live my life.  To be worthy again some day of having someone to share this life with.  It is going to take a lot of thought and effort, and I hope it is something I can accomplish in time.

Friday, September 18, 2020

What "Broke" Me?


Tonight, a dear friend of mine asked me; “What broke you?”, and I really couldn’t give her a simple direct answer. It’s not like I experienced one single heartbreaking event, but more a series of events spread across my life that has caused me to be much more reserved most of the time. I didn’t take her question as anything but the caring concern that wanted to know what had changed me from what little she knew of my past.

I have been thinking about her question since before I came home, and I still cannot come up with one, single experience that was so crushing as to change my personality. Making me seem harder, and colder, and much more reserved. As I look back over my life, I can see a pattern of trying to do the “right thing”, and to be an honorable man. Yet, as I look back, I can see that doing so resulted in my downfall. Even if it may not have had that effect for several years. The deaths of; many close friends, two wives, a daughter, the loss of a son (who I can only hope is still alive), and other bizarre occurrences in my life that I refuse to put on the record have made me who I am now.
Part of the problem is my knowledge of how history has shown me what can happen when I do let go and allow myself to not hold back. Giving myself over and not holding myself back has repeatedly ended in devastating heartbreak. At the same time, holding back and not allowing others into my heart has also created situations where what could have been something special merely turned into a few fleeting moments of promise that seemed to whither away.
There are things that I have done that are between God and I alone. He is my judge, and no one else need ever know the depths of darkness I have known in my past. The fear of letting someone in deeply enough to allow them to learn those secrets no doubt holds some conditional relationship to how my personality has changed over the years. People have told me how strong and stoic I seem to be emotionally. Trying to live up to my personal code, has meant that is how I often must be.
That is why I cherish those times when I can relax and be seemingly carefree and content. It seems that during those times I can push the darkness I have experienced deeper down inside, and hold it more securely, much more tightly compartmentalized within me under heavy security. The people I trusted enough to share the dark experiences and their effects have all moved on to whatever lay beyond this life. So, in many ways I find myself always alone, even when I am with a cohort of my closest friends. Loneliness, doubt and guilt are things I have long since learned to deal with on a daily basis.
Thinking about it now, I still can’t answer “what broke you?” Not even fully to myself, because to do so is rubbing salt into old wounds that have never fully healed. I can’t even fully agree that I am broken. Bent and battered, yes. Broken; maybe, maybe not. I really don’t know. And if I don’t even know that, how I can I say what really “broke” me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Couple of Surveys

This short blog post is actually just to post a couple of political surveys for my State Representative political campaign in Washington state.  The first is a more general survey and should take about 3 minutes to fill out, and the second is more focused on budgetary and expenditure issues.  The second should take about the same amount of time, maybe a little less.  These surveys are helping me to better understand the desires, beliefs, and goals of at least the participants in the 20th LD.  

1.  The General Survey

2.  The Budgetary Survey

Thank you,

Catch you on the road sometime...

Friday, May 15, 2020

Covid has Postponed Mt St Helens Ride

As with everything else this year, COVID-10 has caused long-standing plans to be changed.  We haven't canceled the ride, but we have postponed it until July.  It won't have the same meaning as riding up virtually on the anniversary date, but the weather should be much better.  I have a suspicion that there will be some people who may still ride up by themselves.  But the forecast is for rain and possible thundershowers.  I have a feeling that I am not even going to bother pulling the tarp off of Gypsy on Sunday morning.  I have made that run in rain many times, and with everything going on this year, I don't think I am going to push my luck and risk getting sick by making a 200-mile ride up to the mountain in the rain.  I just don't want to risk getting sick and losing time during my campaign for the legislature just to ride up most of the way to the mountain to a closed gate and turn back.  I'll say a prayer of remembrance like I do every year on Sunday morning.  But I am pretty sure I won't be riding up there and making that choice has really bummed me out.  Even though I know it is the right thing to do.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Thursday, May 7, 2020

We are at risk of losing medical personnel and facilities due to COVID proclamations.

As we move deeper into this sudden economic chasm that has appeared in our state due to the COVID pandemic, it brings questions to mind regarding the efficacy of the course we remain locked onto.  When the Governor first issued his state of emergency proclamation, it was to “flatten the curve” of infections so as to not overwhelm and inundate our hospitals and medical services.  By flattening the curve; according to the many virologists, immunologists, and other Drs. I have been listening to over the past few weeks we aren’t stopping the virus’ effects, only slowing them down.  The threat of this virus is still there, out in the environment.  However, according to these Drs., remaining in lockdown indefinitely is not realistic or even necessarily a good idea.  Remaining in self-isolation, in a heavily sanitized home environment is more likely to weaken our immune system due to reduced contact with even many common viruses and bacteria that we need to maintain a strong and healthy immune system.  So if we remain in lockdown for a further period and begin to attempt to restore our earlier activities in a mass movement it is highly likely that many people will become ill from a number of illnesses out in the environment due to a weakened immune system.  This could indeed cause a spike in ER visits and possible hospitalizations.
This brings us to the current condition of many hospitals in our state.  In order to reduce the risk of overwhelming our hospitals, clinics, and other medical services, the Governor’s emergency proclamation ordered all “elective” surgeries and procedures to be halted.  The concept was to ensure that facilities were available if needed for COVID patients.  However, we are now facing a situation where hospitals are very nearly empty and have little in the way of revenue coming in.  Many of the hospitals in Washington have begun to seriously consider furloughing staff, cutting the hours of others. This includes Drs. And nurses, not just support staff in the hospital.  Some hospitals have even noted that they are within sight of a situation where they may have to close their doors, especially in some of the more rural parts of the state.  My question is this, how can hospitals be expected to be ready for a spike in COVID cases, if they are understaffed, or even forced to close?
By definition, most procedures and surgeries that are not of an emergent nature are “elective”.  It is my strong belief that only a doctor can decide if a procedure or surgery is necessary.  The ban on elective surgeries at this point in time should be relaxed for at least two reasons.  This would allow doctors to better serve the health of their patients and assist in prolonging and saving lives.  It would also provide hospitals with the inflow of revenue that can keep them operating, and prevent their financial collapse.  It will do no one any good in the middle of the prolonged pandemic that this lockdown has created, to risk reducing the ability to provide healthcare by causing hospitals to furlough medical staff or close their doors.
A majority of doctors that I have been listening to over the past few weeks that are discussing this situation seem to have a common basis of understanding that they are speaking to.  While the upper echelon of government health officials and the main stream media are primarily appearing to be focused on the number of confirmed cases and deaths, these doctors are pointing out the results of studies and testing that seems to show the actual number of cases of COVID to be up to fifty times higher.  This results in a fatality rate not too dissimilar to that of a bad flu season (the 2017-2018 flu for example resulted in approximately 60,000 deaths in the US).  Currently, upwards of 90% of the current fatalities of COVID are senior citizens, especially in long term care facilities, and those with pre-existing health issues that are exacerbated by a respiratory infection.  It seems that an extremely low percentage of fatalities without some underlying health issue are below 50 years of age.  Therefore, it would seem advisable, after listening to these doctors, to allow those with the least risk of adverse reaction to the disease to go back to work in a managed, health positive ad responsible manner.  While allowing medical facilities to resume “elective” procedures with the benefit of saving and prolonging lives, as well as remaining staffed and available if there is a sudden spike in COVID infections. 
This should have the two-pronged effect of beginning to restore our citizens’ health and our economy to a much stronger and more vibrant condition that either currently possesses.
Thank you.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Governor, Set Our People Free

As Washington begins its climb out of the dual disasters of coronavirus and the economic crisis that came with the shutting down of the economy, there needs to be a plan to restore the economy while protecting our most vulnerable citizens.  The Governor's emergency proclamations have seriously restricted private entities to engage in operations that could easily be done in a safe and prudent method.  Just as the governmentally contracted private entities are allowed to do in the name of the state government.  Since the source of both private and governmental construction projects both have the same root financing source, the people, it is inconceivable as to how the Governor could logically assume because funds were coming from a governmental budget that construction activities were of less risk of spreading the coronavirus than other construction crews performing commercial and residential construction.  Fortunately, the Governor seems to have been forced to recognize that fact by his parties own union supporters.  While this has the appearance of relaxing the restrictions put in place by the Governor, it is only a very limited relaxation.

With what is expected to be at least a $6 billion shortfall in the budget of the state for the 2021-2022 biennium, there will have to be some serious adjustments in order to increase the state's revenue flow and prevent the shortfall from growing significantly larger.  As we continue to deal with this ongoing virus pandemic and the quarantine of our most vulnerable citizens, we will need to incentivize businesses that are able to get back to work and restore the state's economy and revenue stream in a safe and prudent manner.  Whether those incentives be in the form of reduced regulations, lower taxes, or other removing bureaucratic barriers to increase job creation, the Legislature will have to tackle this situation sooner rather than later. 

Only the legislature can reduce the state's budget in an effort to proactively reduce the dire effects of this economic shut-down by the Governor.  Changes will have to be made to the budget.  That is the Legislatures purpose and duty.  Whether the Governor calls them back into session or the four pillars of the legislative leadership can gather the required number of votes for the Legislature to call itself into session it must be done.  The Legislature should focus itself on reducing and reprioritizing the budget and its programs to fit the current existing revenue stream.  Not the pre-shutdown projections, and billions of dollars in new taxes.  The Legislature should do its utmost to focus on the retention of jobs in Washington state.  Directing agencies to reduce regulations that increase the cost of manufacturing within the state that businesses find it more economically viable to close down and leave the state.  When regulations lead to business pulling out of a state due to extreme cost and restrictions, the businesses take with them thousands of jobs.  With those jobs go all the capillary tax revenues spread out through the community. 

As an example, take a look at the flight of American manufacturing jobs during the 1970s and into the early 1980s.  The vast majority of these industries left America due to high labor costs and ever-increasing regulations and restrictions that made it untenable to remain in the US.  Then, during the Trump administration, many of those regulations were cut, and economic strategies brought back thousands of manufacturing plants to the US.  Another example of unnecessary regulations costing jobs is the Olympia Brewery in Tumwater.  After millions of dollars were spent to meet drinking water standards for the water outflow from the brewery, the brewery was told that while the outflow was clean enough for human consumption, it did not meet the standards for the fish at the small facility just downstream of the brewery.  When told it would require more millions of dollars in expenditures, the brewery laid-off some 400 employees and close-down. 

In the current situation Washington finds itself, we can no longer accept the same high taxation, high regulation, and agency restrictions we have had previously.  Washington state needs to focus on retaining jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, and creating an inviting environment for businesses to want to invest and become engaged in Washington state again.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Two Washingtons, and a Growing Divide.

As most of you who follow this blog may know, I am running for the office of State Representative in the 20th District in Washington State.  The District includes a part of Thurston County, all of Lewis County, the eastern portion of Cowlitz County, and a portion of northern Clark County.  These areas are all fairly rural, with a few small cities, or large towns mixed in.  Because I have been trying to get the legislative campaign underway, I must admit that I have paid less attention to this blog.   While I am still the rider I have been, I haven't done much in the way of riding to write about.  Nor have I been working on motorcycle-specific legislation plans since the motorcycle parking bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee.  The fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has put everyone into lock-down has also thrown something of a monkey wrench into the works of my campaign.  It is with that in mind that I am trying to work out how to use this blog, social media, and my YouTube channel to help take the place of fundraising rallies and speech making.

It is with that in mind that I am making this post.  With the state in lock-down, and the Governor making some heavy-handed and inconsistent emergency proclamations, I feel it is my place to state what I believe could be the costs of continuing on blindly in this manner.  There have been several unconstitutional proclamations made during this emergency that should begin to be relaxed as the purpose given for instituting them seems to have had the desired effect.  The original purpose was to "lower the curve" of Coronavirus infections in Washington State.  From the data I have been able to see, it appears that we are on the downward slope of the curve and that it was indeed "flattened" from original projections.

Social distancing and the Governor's stay at home order, along with the closure of many businesses in the community have apparently had the desired effect on the rate of infection.  However, it has also had a seriously detrimental effect on the economy of our state.  The increase in unemployed citizens filing for unemployment insurance rose so rapidly that within hours, the website for filing claims was overwhelmed and crashed.  The phone lines were jammed and people found it extremely difficult to apply for their unemployment due to the pandemic.  Some small businesses were able to receive the Small Business Administration PPP loans.  However, some 60% of those loans nationally went to businesses who either their own stock or the stock of their parent company, were traded on the stock exchange.  Those should not qualify as "small" businesses.

The incongruous and confusing criteria the Governor used to decide what was to be allowed and what was not in the way of social distancing has begun to seriously rankle a growing segment of the state's citizens.  The recent demonstration held at the Capitol in Olympia is just one example.  According to Dept. of Enterprise Services, some 4,500-5,000 people attended the rally demanding the Governor relax restrictions and allow the economy of the state to begin to expand in a safe and responsible manner.

While many in the state seem to oppose opening up the economy, their opposition seems to fall into two distinct patterns when looking at their response to the rally.  The two responses seem to flow from a similar concern of increasing the infection rate.  But, the way they diverge and the sarcasm and cynical elitism of the portion of the opposition who seem to only see this as reopening restaurants and social gathering businesses, and those who appear merely seriously concerned that the idea is to suddenly and completely reopen the economy with businesses operating as before shows a lack of understanding among the opposition.  A large percentage of the people denouncing the protesters as "stupid" or "irresponsible" are not facing the same fate as those they are denigrating.  It seems many are either still working, or do not need to work...yet.

Many of those protesting are those out of work, and unable to afford beyond the most basic of needs for their families.  Some are truly struggling just to put food on their table.  People whose work does not entail a high rate of danger of infection due to their profession.  Those whose career fields are only allowed to function if employed by the state.  Such as construction, or other similar fields.  The fact that activities such as sport fishing are banned during a time when people are struggling to put food on the table, and the reason is that the Governor feels they do not comply with social distancing guidelines.  While the Governor is a bicyclist, it is evident he isn't a fisherman.  Or he would know that activity is much better when fishermen are spread apart to reduce the risk of snared lines.

It is reasonable to understand that the Governor's office arrived quickly at the items he felt to be "essential" or not.  Or listing activities that complied with social distancing guidelines.  But it is unreasonable to believe that the same work that state employees are free to participate in, somehow constitutes less of a health risk than citizens whose jobs are identical, except for being in the private sector.  Or that participating in an activity alone, such as walking, running or bicycling, is somehow less of a risk of contracting the virus than sitting alone in a boat, or upon a riverbank fishing.  It is for reasons such as these, and more, that the Governor's policies need to be explained to the citizens.  Why certain decisions were made, and why common sense situations of being alone and separate from others could put one at greater risk of contracting the virus and getting ill.

It seems that the Governor's office is taking a very condescending attitude towards the people.  Calling them "insubordinate" and partaking in "criminal activity" by protesting his proclamations.  Washingtonians, as with most people, do not take kindly to being condescended to and commanded by authorities who demand sacrifice without making any sacrifice or appearing to have empathy for the hardships the demanded sacrifices bring.  The Governor should quickly reassess his restrictions, and relax those that are not directly related to restricting the spread of the coronavirus.  As well as relaxing the ban on industries that perform the same basic duties that state employees are performing while their private sector counterparts are banned from doing.  What was that old saying; "What's good for the goose..."?

I found a very good quote in an article published in USA Today this morning and written by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

"There are really two Americas here: Those still getting a paycheck from government, corporations, or universities, and those who are unemployed or seeing their small business suffer due to shutdowns.  And the America still getting paid is so far, not showing a whole lot of sympathy for the America that isn't.

That's a formula for disaster, and it has been made worse by the heavy-handed approach taken by some government officials enforcing quarantines.  We've seen news story after news story of officials going after people whose actions pose no danger of contagion -- lone joggers on a beach, lone paddleboarders off the California coast, a father throwing a ball to his daughter in a public park -- and every time that happens the shutdown loses moral authority."

This is turning into a class struggle.  Between those that still have jobs, and those that do not, because they were ordered to shut down by an unsympathetic government who seems to be taking advantage of this health crisis to solidify their control of citizens by unconstitutional means.  Yet, not making the same demands as they are requiring of the citizens for whom they work for, and were elected by.

Governor Jay Inslee will eventually need to receive legislative approval to continue extending his emergency proclamations, yet he seems reluctant to call a special session.  He has not even felt obliged to read letters from legislative members of his own task force on re-opening the economy.  It is for that, and other reasons, several legislators from across the state held an online press conference today in an attempt to urge the Governor to call the Legislature into special session or to gain enough support for the Legislature to call itself into special session to deal with the issues facing the state.  Issues both immediate, and forthcoming.  Such as the hole in the state budget for this upcoming biennium due to tax revenue's "falling off a cliff" as one legislator commented.

I will end this post with two other quotes from Professor Reynolds USA Today article;

"When rulers ask for sacrifices without making any, they're displaying a distinct lack of, well, class."  While I would our elected officials were elected to lead the state's administrative work, they still work for the people and should never think it is the other way around.  And lastly, I cannot agree more with these words of Professor Reynolds in the closing of his article; "If your messaging -- and your behavior -- inspires resentment that causes people to resist and ignore public health messages, then you have failed at your job, whatever the amount of scientific knowledge you bring to bear.

Sadly, to succeed in their job, our leader will need to possess humility, empathy and self-discipline.  Those traits are in sadly short supply in our leadership class.  We will all pay a price for that, though if recent history is any guide, our leaders will pay less than the rest of us."  I agree completely.

Catch you on the road sometime...