Dark Days Ahead

Posted: November 19, 2017 in Depression, Family, Sadness
Tags: ,

This week begins my annual decent into darkness. It generally starts around Thanksgiving and stays until after Valentine’s Day. So if I don’t post as often as I would like, that’s why.

Thanksgiving, because I’m reminded that I’m alone. My children and grandchildren are on the opposite side of the country, and while my wife and I are still married, that’s just a technicality. Her family has severed all contact with me.

December brings with it my mother’s birthday, followed a few days later by the anniversary of her death. Then comes thee gloom of Christmas spent alone, followed by New Year’s Eve spent the same way. January is usually pretty much of a blank, followed by February and the second anniversary of my father’s death.

All of which would be bearable were it not for my

  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Seasonally Affective Disorder
  • Chronic Depression
  • Gender Dysphoria

Yeah, I’m a mess. But as the song says,

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

I still have my tea and my books. Oh, yes: and my blogs. They’re really my on-line journals, which I write in to keep my sanity.

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

Love and hope,

Robyn Jane

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Reading the November 2017 issue of The Empty Closet caused—as it usually does—me to experience mixed emotions. Joy, because of the stories about adoption and other loving family issues, and fear because my own government refuses to recognize my right to even exist .

Having grown up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I bought into the lies everyone else did. As Pete Seeger so memorably sang,

“What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It’s always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.”
”What did you learn in school today,” by Tom Paxton

That dream was shattered when the nation ran headlong into Viet Nam, assassinations, and Watergate. The past 40 years have taught me that our government can’t be trusted to tell us the truth, that politicians—at least at the national level—exempt themselves from the laws they impose on the rest of us, and that we haven’t learned a damned thing from history. How are we supposed to react when the enemy is not at the gates but rather occupying the seat of government.

40 years ago I didn’t even know what “transgender” meant, much less the fact that it applied to me. But now we’re in the 21st century, when the spelling of the word “bigotry” has changed into “sincerely-held religious beliefs,” and we have both an occupant of the White House (I refuse to call that orange monster “president”) and an Attorney-General who both tell me I have no right to even exist, much less be treated with the same rights as everyone else in our country are.

What will be the fate of our nation if the very people who are sworn to protect and defend it “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” are themselves domestic enemies? Or are we as a nation no longer worthy of those freedoms and liberties we fought for in 1776, 1812, 1860, 1914, and 1941? Is this, as Jack Nicholson’s character asked, “as good as it gets?”

“And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong.”
–Paul Simon, “An American Tune” Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Am I the only one who thinks these thoughts? Am I crazy? Or am I thinking clearly?

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical….An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine [sic] necessary for the sound health of government." – Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787 (Emphasis added)

jefferson

Yes, it’s fancy. And yes, it’s beautiful. And yes, I love my iPhone 6S Plus.

But I’m going to give the X (which Apple says to pronounce “10”) a miss. There are a couple of reasons.

First, there’s the iPhone 8 Plus. In every way that’s relevant to me, it’s the same technology as the X…for a few hundred dollars less.

Second—and crucially—the iPhone X uses facial recognition to unlock the device. There is no alternative. The iPhone 8, on the other hand, still gives you the option of logging in with your fingerprint, a password, or a PIN.

Why is this important?

Courts have held that passwords and PINs are intellectual property. That means that you own them. Law enforcement officers (LEOs) cannot make you divulge them without a warrant, nor can they make you use them to log in without a warrant.

Fingerprints and faces, however, are not your property, plus they fall under the “plain sight” exception to any warrant requirement. In other words, if a LEO asks you to log on to your phone by looking at it or just touching it, you have no legal right to refuse.

And that, my friends, is something that may not have occurred to Apple.

Also, Samsung’s facial recognition on their new flagship smartphone has been shown to be fooled by a photograph of the owner’s face!

So yes, as soon as I pay off some bills and save some money, I definitely will upgrade to the iPhone 8 Plus. My only remaining decision will be 64 Gb or 256 Gb. My iPhone 6S Plus has 16 Gb. I wanted to save money, but it was a mistake. I should have gone with 32 Gb.

My Newest Favorite Sandwich

Posted: September 5, 2017 in Diet, Vegetarians
Tags: , ,

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve been having serious health problems—I’m sick of the fascist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic orange clown we call the president.

trump

enemies

I’ve often said that bacon is the only thing keeping me from being a vegetarian. Last week, I discovered a product that has eliminated that excuse.

I started reading about meat alternatives a few months ago when, for health reasons, I decided to cut down on my consumption of animal protein. The only alternative seemed to be tofu—and I didn’t like the texture (yes, I know: I’m a picky eater). And the recipes I found to alter the texture seemed like an awful lot of work. I mean, who wants to spend the better part of an hour just to fix breakfast?

Then I discovered tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay). Like tofu, it’s made from soybeans, but it has a much firmer texture. I looked around and found what I was looking for: a soy-based bacon substitute.

I was doubtful at first, but after reading several reviews, I decided to take the plunge. I headed to my nearest Wegman’s and bought a package of Lightlife® Fakin’ Bacon. As George Takei would say, “Oh, my!”

tempeh

Trust me on this: as a dyed-in-the-wool pork bacon eater, I can honestly say that this is the one food that has overcome my last objection to a vegetarian diet. Don’t believe me? Try my newest favorite sandwich—and the ultimate test for any bacon substitute—a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich:

Robyn’s TLT

  • 2 slices of your favorite bread
  • 2 slices of Lightlife® Fakin’ Bacon (I use 2 strips cut in half. I find that gives me the perfect size forr my bread)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • A nice ripe tomato
  • Mayonnaise
  1. Toast the bread and lightly coat with the mayo.
  2. Tear a piece of lettuce to fit.
  3. Slice the tomato.
  4. Put all of the ingredients on one piece of toast.
  5. Heat the tempeh in a fry pan with a little bit of oil or butter until the edges are crisp.
  6. Remove the tempeh from the pan and put it on top of the other ingredients. Cover with the other piece of toast.
  7. Enjoy!

I’ve also enjoyed this sandwich with the addition of a fried egg and a couple of slices of cheddar cheese on it as well. Hey! It’s cooking! Use your imagination: if you can imagine it, you can make it!

(With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

After a long winter’s idleness, I decided that the time of exercise has finally come. To be honest, that time came several months ago. But what has come was a refund check sizeable enough to buy a bicycle.

As much as I prefer to do business with locally-owned shops, there is no way I could afford the prices at the local bike shops. This isn’t so much a reflection on their prices as my own penury. So after researching local prices, I decided to look at Walmart’s offerings.

I found The Perfect Bike on Walmart’s web site. It was a price I could afford, and so I chose the option of having it delivered to my local store, thus saving shipping costs.

The Nightmare Begins

I was notified the next morning that my order had arrived. Stacey kindly drove me to the store so I could pick it up.

I signed in to the system and was quickly approached by a clerk (what Walmart so magnanimously call a “Sales Associate”), who located my order and brought it out to me…still in the shipping carton…and then left. Didn’t offer to carry it out to my car, so Stacey and I managed to wrestle it into a grocery cart, haul it out to her SUV, and load it inside.

When we arrived back at my place and opened the carton, We discovered that the bike was only partially assembled. Examining the assembly manual, we discovered that we could have taken it to a Walmart cashier and had it assembled for free.

Because of Stacey’s schedule, it was a few days before we were able to take the bike back to the store to have it assembled.

Yeah, right.

We Don’t Service What We Sell

When I took the bike to customer service, we were told that they didn’t have anyone who could assemble it. Instead, they contract with an outside company to do that—and nobody knew whether it was once a week or once a month. They did, however, make an attempt to find out which it was.

Finally, after 20 minutes of waiting and discovering that no one in the store knew the schedule, I decided to return the bike and look at the ones they had in the store.

Partial Success!

I didn’t find anything I liked, but I did get a helmet, a lighting system, and a bike lock. Oh, yeah: Stacey fell in love with a bike. Unasked, I offered to buy it for her. After checking the tire pressure, Stacey inflated the tires to the recommended PSI (206 kilo pascals for you metric fans), I paid for the bike, and we were done for the day.

Or so I thought.

Stacey reminded me that there was another Walmart that we sometimes shopped at, so off we went to see what they had in stock.

There, in the bike section, was my Perfect Bike™!

my bike

So we located a sales associate who kindly offered to adjust the seat and handlebar heights, and to inflate the tires to the proper PSI. We paid for the bike, loaded it into Stacey’s SUV, and headed home.

Stacey dropped me off, and I was ready for My First Big Adventure! I even knew what that would be: I had a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days, and my bike could get me there in just a few minutes (it was only a half-mile ride).

Disaster!

Okay, it was my fault. I should have double-checked everything before my first ride. Turns out the handlebars hadn’t been tightened securely, so they kept rotating down to the point the bike was unrideable. In addition, the seat hadn’t been tightened properly, either.

So after trying for 3 blocks to ride the damn thing, I finally gave up and walked it the rest of the way to the doctor’s office.

After my appointment, I texted Stacey what had happened. She kindly came and picked me and the bike up and drove us home.

Mikey To The Rescue!

As the bike and I were sitting in the back yard, my friend Mikey came by for a visit. When I told him The Tale of the Purple Bike of Sumatra, he showed me exactly how to fix all my woes, and adjust the bike properly. Thank you, Mikey!

Epilogue

So now the bike is sitting—locked, of course—in the shed, awaiting my test ride (it’s too rainy today). I’m going to stick to riding up and down our street until I get readjusted to bike riding. After all, it’s been nearly 20 years!



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