Archive for July, 2016

The USA By Rail

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized
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It’s been a while since I posted on this subject, but this entry is all about a journey! Specifically, Stacey and I are moving back to Seattle. I’m going there first, to find an apartment., etc., and she’s going to follow later.

After analysis, I’ve determined that rail travel is the way to go. I can carry more luggage than I can on an airplane, and the Trusty Old SUV™ won’t last on a 10-mile trip, much less one across the USA. So I’ve booked my seat on the Lake Shore Limited from here to Chicago. From there, I’ll be on the Empire Builder to Seattle.

Well, actually to Everett. It’s actually cheaper to bypass Seattle and get off in Everett than it is to get off in Seattle. Weird.

It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I spent most of the day printing out train schedules and route guides before learning that the route guides are available—free—on the train. I also Googled® “rail travel USA” so I’d be aware of any “gotchas” and prepare for the ahead of time.

One of the first “gotchas” I found was that freight companies own the rails, so they have priority. An experienced rail traveler’s blog said that she usually gives an Amtrak train a 60-minute window before she considers it late.

Except for short subway rides in New York City, the last time I did any serious rail travel was in 1960. We had just returned from my dad’s 3-year assignment in Japan with the US Air Force, and he had made arrangements to pick up a new car at the Rambler factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We got off the ship (air travel was too expensive in those days) in San Francisco, took a taxi to Oakland, and got on the train to Kenosha.

All I remember about that trip (hey! it was 56 years ago!) is (1) it was long, and (2) I had a ham and cheese sandwich in Ogden, Utah.

But this trip will be well-documented. Between my laptop, my iPad (WordPress app, built-in camera), my cell phone (ditto), my Nikon Coolpix® and my Canon digital SLR, I plan on keeping a detailed account of the journey. After all, this may be my last cross-country trip, and possibly my last train ride.

Of course there’s always the possibility of a jaunt from Seattle up to Vancouver, BC…. But that will have to wait until my name change, which will lead to my getting a passport.

So according to my ticket, I’ll leave Rochester at 11 p.m., August 15, and will arrive in Chicago at 9:45 the next morning. I’ll have a layover in Chicago until 2:15 the same day, and I’ll arrive in Seattle at 8:40 a.m on the 18th. (Oh, dear…what have I gotten myself into?)

And now that that’s all settled, it’s time for all the fun things about moving. Packing. Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Cleaning the apartment.

So little time, so much to do!

Robyn Jane

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My friend Kim McKinstry posted the following email she received Monday:

Dear Kimberly:

Thank you for writing, and for your service to our country. Throughout our history, generations of Americans have brought us closer to fulfilling the ideals at the heart of our Nation’s founding—that all of us are equal, and that all of us should be free to make of our lives what we will.

Our country has come far in its acceptance of transgender Americans, but transgender individuals still face terrible violence, abuse, and poverty here at home and around the world. I know that some people have a hard time understanding what it means to be transgender, especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to know someone who openly identifies that way. As brave individuals come out at all levels of business, government, sports, and entertainment, the power of their example is slowly but surely changing hearts and minds.

We need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to build for the many young people struggling with their identities who deserve a childhood free from harassment or ridicule. Too many transgender people, especially youth, take their own lives because of discrimination and violence, and no one should ever feel so alone or desperate that they feel they have nowhere to turn. That’s why my Administration took a stance against the use of conversion therapy on minors, and why we have been working to address bullying. And when schools sought advice about how to ensure learning environments are respectful and inclusive for all students, the Department of Education provided guidance to educators—because all of our children deserve to know that their safety is protected and that their dignity is affirmed.

We have also taken actions to help ensure that transgender Americans have the same rights as any other Americans. I issued an Executive Order that prohibits discrimination in employment by Federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and I signed legislation that includes protections against hate crimes. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are now important protections in place against discrimination in healthcare, including discrimination based on gender identity. And this year, my Administration lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in our Armed Forces—because no American who wishes to serve our country should face unnecessary barriers, and our military is strongest when it draws on the skills and talents of all our people.

Again, thank you for writing. Please know I will keep pushing to advance the safety and dignity of every American as long as I hold this Office and beyond.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

 

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, King James Version).

I was raised in a Christian household. Indeed, my father was a Lutheran minister, an Air Force Chaplain. I grew up accepting whatever I was taught, never questioning anything. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school—1967, to be exact—that I started to have doubts.

‘67 was a strange year.

1967 the continued presence of American troops increased further and a total of 475,000 were serving in Vietnam and the peace rallies were multiplying as the number of protesters against the war increased. The Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army. In the middle east Israel also went to war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the six day war and when it was over Israel controlled and occupied a lot more territory than before the war. (See more here.)

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band provided the soundtrack for most of my life in 1967 and 1968. John Lennon’s infamous quote—so often taken out of context—was true: the Beatles really were more popular than Christ. I say “taken out of context” advisedly: Lennon himself later explained that he wasn’t bragging; rather he was making a sad comment on society at that time.

Christianity no longer held the answers to my questions. “Thou shalt not kill” began to be replaced by bumper stickers exhorting us to “Kill A Commie For Christ.” Any questioning of our government’s foreign policy was countered with “America: Love It or Leave It.”

And I couldn’t reconcile the teachings of Christ wit my father’s chosen vocation of ministering to men and women who were dropping bombs on brown-skinned people thousands of miles away to protect us from invasion. (History has now shown that we were the invaders.)

The following fall when I left for college, I left my religion behind.

And yet….

There was still a part of me that wanted to believe. Over the next several decades I experimented with various religions and philosophies until I found The One True Faith®.

I stayed with the Baha’i Faith for almost 40 years. It wasn’t until I started my transition that its ban on same-sex relationships affected me personally, and I began to doubt the validity of yet another Abrahamic religion that wanted to control who I could and could not love.

So I told myself, “Screw it. There’s no religion capable of dealing justly with the way I was created, so to hell with them all. I’m a fucking atheist.”

Ironically, that was the same year my wife gave me a copy of Merlin Stone’s seminal work, When God Was A Woman. 

Here, archaeologically documented, is the story of the religion of the Goddess. Under her, women’s roles were far more prominent than in patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures. Stone describes this ancient system and, with its disintegration, the decline in women’s status. Index, maps and illustrations. (Goodreads)

I still wasn’t ready to give up my disbelief and embrace goddess-worship. It all still seemed too us. v. them and divisive. I had long ago left behind any concept of an anthropomorphic deity, and I wasn’t about to go back to that ancient system.

And yet….

Quarks. Quasars. The Strong Nuclear Force. Gravity. Electromagnetism. Dark Matter. There seems to be something, some common thread, running through all creation and holding it all together.  And for lack of a common definition, various peoples at various times have put names to it, in order to be able to talk about it.

Some of those names are God, Allah (which translated from the Arabic means “God), Cosmic consciousness, The Force, or any one of thousands of other names of gods and  goddesses that have been used down through history. Even in the Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner comedy sketch, The 1,000 Year-Old Man, there was a strong, irresistible force. “We called him Phil.”

And while I reject any anthropomorphic object of veneration, I do believe that whatever we call whatever it is that binds us all together and keeps our atoms from flying apart, that force—creative in nature—is most likely feminine rather than masculine.

And so I worship no one. I adhere to my own private creed, and do not embrace any formal belief system. When I let go of religion, I let go of guilt, of trying (and failing) to measure up to any standards.

I sleep better at night.

Robyn Jane

Literature and Latte have just released the iOS version of Scrivener. I’ve touted the wonders of Scrivener elsewhere (here and here), and while I still use it extensively, I no longer use 750 Words. I still think it’s a valuable service, but I’ve moved all of my writing to Scrivener. I use Jarte for quick notes, which I later import into Scrivener, but all of my blogs are done in Open Live Writer and then copied to Scrivener. And now that I have Scrivener on my iPad, I’ll be reversing the process and doing everything in Scrivener, then copying it to Live Writer to post to my blog.

Let’s face it: as handy as they are, most of us don’t carry our laptops around with us everywhere we go, right? We have tablets for portable computing. My iPad Mini is my faithful companion (I’m going to ask Santa for a full-sized iPad Pro), and until now, getting articles from the WordPress app into Scrivener has been an arduous, complicated task. But no longer!

I’ve got Scrivener on both my PC and my iPad configured to save their files to DropBox, and to send backups to my iCloud account. I also have a 3 terabyte external drive that automagically saves all of my files, so I am in full compliance with Robyn’s First Rule of Computing. Remember that one? It says Be Paranoid and Compulsive!

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Or, in my case, about 2,600 miles. Next month will find me on the road (well, to be honest, the rail) to Seattle, WA. Stacey and I have finally decided the time is right to head home to the Upper Left Coast. I’ll be traveling by Amtrak, and I’m bringing my iPad, laptop, and camera to document my journey. Stacey and Fyona will follow later by car.

Once again, I’ll be handling the entire project in Scrivener. It will go a long way toward weaning me completely off MS Word, which with each “upgrade” becomes harder and harder to use.

But more on that in a future post.

I guess it started in the second grade. That’s when I realized that I had an unusual talent: I could read out loud better than most of the others in my class. So much better, in fact, that when it was time for reading class, Miss Sullivan would hand me a book and send me down the hall to read the book to the kindergarten class.

That was when I realized that I had a problem: I was addicted to books.

As I grew older, the problem worsened. A typical day in high school would find me in the library after school, devouring book after book, desperately trying to slake my thirst.

Novels were my drug of choice, although a good story line, like that in "Cyborg," would send me to the encyclopedia, where I would search to see if the plot was reasonably accurate. (Incidentally, that book, written by Martin Caidin, was the basis for the hit television series, "The Six Million Dollar Man.")

I think I read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon in two afternoons.

The Fault, Dear Brutus

The fault lay not in my stars but rather in my genes. My mother was a genius who could read an entire novel on the subway ride from Hunter College to her home on Kingsland Avenue in The Bronx, and I inherited her love of reading.

Couple that with the grandparents who had bestowed on me the entire My Little Golden Books library, along with a doting aunt whose favorite gifts at birthdays and other gift-giving occasions were books, and I didn’t stand a chance.

No, I’m not blaming them for my addiction. At worst, they were merely enablers. I and I alone am responsible for my inability to cope without the crutch a good book furnishes.

And now it seems I’ve passed my addiction on to my daughters, one of whom seems determined to pass it on in turn to her children.

How To Tell If YOU Are An Addict

It isn’t hard, but if you’re not sure, let me direct your attention to this page.

Here’s another clue:

dream home

This is all you think about when you picture your “dream home.”

Well, I’ve got to close for now: it’s almost time for my bookaholics support group meeting…at the city library.

Robyn