Welcome to Silver and Shadow

"Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

This is a blog I will be using for topics other than food. Politics, religion, spirituality, humor, green living, anything that I want to talk about that doesn't fall under the food/cooking category.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

2017 Election Night



“And so tonight-to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans-I ask for your support.”
 -Richard Nixon, November 3, 1969

Maybe Nixon was right about something. I know you must be thinking I’ve lost my mind to say such a thing about that man, but hear me out. Nixon coined the phrase “silent majority,” a phrase used ever since to describe American politics. The idea being that most Americans go about their business, keeping their politics to themselves, except in the voting booth. (This was of course, well before the advent of social media…) They are a fickle people who don't lean one way more than the other. They are the people who make most of the decisions in this country.

Today’s election, and the results that are coming in tonight, show a shift in the tide. How deep a shift and how long it’ll last is anybody’s guess. But could it be that the Silent Majority has had a year to live with the results of last year’s presidential election and has decided to be silent no longer? Have they quietly watched their fellow Americans being threatened for their religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and race, and realized that this cannot go on any longer? Have they seen their cities taken over by Nazis and nationalists with tiki torches and swastikas and decided it had to stop? Have they seen the president act petty every time he opens his mouth? The disrespect he’s shown for soldiers and natural disaster victims don’t seem to be warming their hearts.

Does this mean that the majority of Americans in this country really are good people who are horrified by what is going on in this country right now and that we’re all being held hostage by a small minority of terrorists? I like to think so. Or at least I like to hope so.

I don’t care if you stay silent in your words, Silent Majority, as long as you act and vote as loudly as possible. I would hope that the Silent Majority will show up again next year for midterms. We could definitely use their help…even if they do so quietly.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Work and Life

So, I am officially unemployed. A saga that began about halfway in April of this year, has come to an premature end. I was originally planning on staying till the end of October, but life had some other plans for me instead.

Back in April, our department was given news about a change to how we would be functioning. Instead of a collection of specialists who each worked on our own specific tasks, we would be cross-training in everybody else's jobs and rotating around in a sort of job-sharing system. I wasn't terribly excited about this idea or interested in learning some of the tasks in my department, but was willing to give it a try. I have always been able to put up with whatever came my way there, because I was at least able to choose which hours I work. I worked a 7:30am-4pm shift, and it got me home by 4:30pm on a really great traffic day. But halfway through April, we were told that another change was being made to the department: new hours. We had our choice of 9am-6pm with an hour lunch or 9:30am-6pm. There was no other option if I wanted to remain in my position at the company. I opted for the 9:30am start time and also very quickly came to the decision that my last sense of control with this job had now been taken from me, and I wasn't going to stay. The question was then, when to leave?

Due to how things were announced, the dynamic of the department, and because the last bomb dropped on the department was that we only had six months to cross train in all of these job tasks, it just sort of happened that I told them from the start that I wasn't going to stay. I would try to stay for the six month training period in order to be an extra body to take over smaller tasks, as well as to help train my team in my job as best as I could before I left. TPTB were ok with this, and even appreciated that I was saying to help train. In theory, it would also have allowed me the chance to job hunt while remaining employed. I managed this a little bit, but found employment a hindrance, in the long run. Because I had a guaranteed thing going, the pressure to move on wasn't there. Also, the time of my shift made it difficult to work on sending out resumes to places.

I did my best to change my life around to fit the new schedule. I stayed up later in hopes of sleeping in later, but it never really worked. I have always had problems with sleep, so I ended up basically being a zombie the whole time. I was now getting home closer to 7pm, making cooking dinner pretty much impossible. I had no energy to clean, so dishes piled up, my apartment is a mess. I had no time to exercise. The only positive during this time was that my creativity exploded. A new book idea came to me that I had to run with and I'm still working on it.

Fast forward to about a month ago when I received a random email from my doctor's office saying that when I'd seen her earlier that year, my blood pressure had been a bit high and they'd like to follow up on it. I contacted them about using one of those blood pressure machines at a grocery store and letting them know the results via email rather than making an appointment just for that. They said that was ok, and I went that weekend to take the test at the grocery store I live next to. Now, I'm no expert on blood pressure, so I didn't know what numbers were the best or the worst. But when I took the test and it was 180something over 110something, I knew that was bad. Like, really bad. And the test said I might want to seek immediate medical attention, which I of course ignored. I did, however, go home and make a doctor's appointment for that Thursday to speak to her about it. I went the next day after work and tried it again and it was actually higher. 190something over 110something. I was getting pretty scared by that point.

My appointment was for Thursday, and the day before I had a talk with myself on the bus going to work. I told myself I was going to pick an actual date to leave and it was going to be before the end of October date. I chose September 1st, a Friday. It was a month out and would give me a bit of time to train people before I left. It would also qualify me for my benefits to extend for the month of September, which was reassuring to me. I lived with that decision for the day and when I went home that night I stopped at the store and took my blood pressure again. It was 50 points lower!

The next day I talked to my doctor about all that was happening with work and how the numbers had dropped so much after deciding when to leave and she agreed that it was in fact the work situation that was creating the issue. I was dealing with work stress and had no outlet for it as well as anticipating the job hunting which I didn't have time to do with this new time, which added to the stress. And it turns out, not getting enough sleep also contributes to blood pressure issues. That day, the blood pressure was down to 140something over 90something. Still a bit high, but significantly less than it had been. She also adjusted my meds a bit. My blood pressure is back in the normal range, which is great, but I hope I didn't do any permanent damage. I have to assume my blood pressure had been elevated for a few months during all of this. I am now the proud owner of my own blood pressure cuff, and am monitoring myself!

I gave my notice to work that next day and we went into scramble mode to train everybody in what I do. It was a stressful month, but one I knew was going to end. It made it easier to deal with. I was worried about how long I might be out of work as I look for a new job. I met with my financial advisor, though, and we discussed my finances. By moving my 401k to a Traditional IRA, I will be able to access funds more easily in an emergency(which will hopefully not happen.) I also have money in my checking and savings to last a few months before things get desperate. Between traditional job-hunting and the Molly Brown Temp Agency, that I will contact in the next couple weeks, hopefully something will present itself to me soon.

Yesterday was my last day at work and there were some festivities which were lovely. At the end of my shift, I handed in my badge and left for the last time. And now it's a three day weekend. I think it won't hit me until Tuesday when I don't go in to work that it will hit me.

My plan is to get my life back under control. I want to clean my apartment, start walking again, and work on my diet. I want to work on my writing and see how much of my book I can get done before I'm employed again. I'll tap into the ACA for medical coverage after this month if I need to(Thanks Obama!) I'm thinking of this as a bit of a sabbatical as I decompress from all of this, and gear up for my next move.

What important life lessons have I learned from this? I learned that the Elsa method (Conceal, don't feel) for dealing with stress doesn't work. I learned that I can do something scary and take a chance when push comes to shove. I'm generally not a big risk-taker in life, but sometimes you have no choice. Both of these things are good to know!

My advice to everybody reading this: Check your blood pressure! You can't feel it, so you don't know what your numbers are unless you test it. If it's high, do something about it! This is not something to mess with!

Well, hopefully my next step will come along very quickly and before I know it, I'll be happily and gainfully employed once again!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

5/28/17 Week in Review

Well, Trump was out of the country this week, and even though he was doing some obnoxious garbage out and about in the world, it wasn't happening in our borders. I did my best to ignore him, give myself a week off from thinking about him. And it's Memorial Day weekend and I am enjoying the heck out of it, so this week is an "I care just enough to do the very least" week, and I am not sorry for that! No question of the week, just the highlights of what happened back here on the homefront. Take some time to check in with the big stories of the week and then go out there and enjoy the sun!

Russia

This week in the Russia investigation, including a strange-looking chart, and a timeline of events leading up to now.

Trump asked top members of the intelligence community to deny that there is any evidence between Russia and his campaign.

Some more information about the Russia investigations this week. Yes, that is plural. This is the America we live in now.

Jeff Sessions seriously just needs to go.

Miscellaneous

I know, I know, yes, it's Fox News. This person tells a first-person account of what happened with Gianforte body slamming the reporter earlier this week. I thought it was important that it was a story being told on Fox News, and therefore, I am sharing it.

This is why we can't have nice things. I'm sure Tillerson was very happy to have to make this apology.

More gerrymandering has been struck down by the Supreme Court. This time for the state of North Carolina.

This week in science, fossil evidence has challenged the long-held thought that all hominins(not to be confused with hominids)evolved in Africa. This new evidence would put them north of Africa, in the Mediterranean region of Europe. This evidence does not alter the still-held belief that Homo Sapiens started and evolved in Africa. It would just mean that at some point in time, another species traveled south, to Africa, and eventually evolved and/or bred into the species known as Homo Sapiens.

The FCC has finished their investigation into the Stephen Colbert Trump joke complaints, and have chosen not to do anything about it.

An investigation into an airstrike by the US in March shows that we killed about 140 civilians when we bombed a building in Mosul, Iraq.

Checking back in with the state of the Senate's work on the Affordable Care Act repeal. Spoiler alert: It's not going well...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

05/21/17 Week in Review

There is so much going on this week I can't really even keep it all straight. But all of it is making me wonder how much longer Trump will remain in power before the GOP members of Congress no longer want to deal with his drama. I don't understand why they stick with him when dumping him would allow them to get a lot more done. I think while their voting base remains standing behind Trump, they will too. As soon as the voters start turning on Trump, Congress will too. I've always said a Pence presidency makes a lot more sense for them, but that also means our fight gets harder. More skilled people, more stable people in power trying to pass their conservative agenda and liberals resting on their laurels, still high on their success of beating Trump, will need even more fight than they've been putting in so far. The real fight begins when Trump leaves office.

But, it is all so interesting and exciting right now that it's nice to just sit back and enjoy it all. Mueller's appointment to the investigation will bring stability, and the latest revelation that Trump called Comey a "nut job" and told the Russians that he hoped it would end the attention on the Russia investigation, is a game changer. I just don't see how he can come back from this one. It will take time, maybe a long time, but sit back, make some popcorn, and enjoy it like



Russia Russia Russia

Flynn is going to go down as the bane of Trump's existence, when all is said and done.

The dominoes of the new administration have always been teetering, but they began to fall in earnest this past Tuesday with news of leaking information to Russian officials during their visit to the White House.

Trump's reaction to the revelation of his leaking of classified information to the Russians.

Here's a good list of what happened when this week. It's getting harder and harder to keep track of it all.

Trump calling anybody else "nuts" is rich, but then again, he's allegedly a very rich man...

Really, it was either Robert Mueller or Captain America who could properly take over the investigation into all of this garbage going on. This is a nice opinion piece talking about Mueller's appointment this week.

Miscellaneous

Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah is going to be stepping down from his job at the end of June.

Trump made a speech on Sunday about Islam. Apparently he managed to not insult the entire Islamic world.

A refugee camp in Jordan is the first refugee camp in the world to be run solely on solar power.

Scientists have successfully used a 3D printer to create an artificial ovary for a mouse that allowed it to reproduce successfully. They would like to use this for women have have had cancer and want to have children. What will they think of next?!

No question of the week this week, just make sure to keep paying attention to the news, and find opportunities to contact your representatives when the need arises. To quote from Harry Potter, "Constant Vigilance!"

Sunday, May 14, 2017

05/14/17 Week in Review

Well, this was one of the biggest news weeks since the election. I think we're all still reeling and trying to take it all in. Comey's firing, though not completely shocking, and not entirely undeserved, definitely threw all of us off our game this week. This is the time to really start paying attention to everything being reported, and questioning all of it. Also, ask yourself, Trump is good at doing something to distract us from other things. What things did we miss this week when we were all focusing on Comey? Was this a botched attempt to get our minds off of "the Russia thing" or was it worth it to him to deal with that so he could distract us from something else? Just something to keep in mind as we go into next week.

Comey's Firing*

These subpoenas were issued just hours before Trump fired Comey.

This is a good, straight-forward article about the Comey firing and how it all happened.

At least Senator McCain is fighting the good fight with the Democrats over Comey's firing.

If only Speaker Ryan would join the fight as well. Alas, he seems disinclined to.

The current administration has conflicting stories about how the Comey firing happened and why.

Trump met with the Russian Foreign Minister the day after firing Comey.

*-Though these articles have not necessarily been written in chronological order, I placed them in chronological order as the events unfolded, to give you a better sense of how the story went down last week.




The Koreas

South Korea has a new president.

With a new president in South Korea, North Korea is apparently testing the waters with a ballistic missile that landed close to Russian waters on Sunday morning, their time.

Dan Coats

The US Intel Chief spoke to a Senate panel this week and updated them on a laundry list of issues. Check them all out here.

More information the US Intel Chief shared with the Senate panel.

Miscellaneous

Due to the current accusations against him, Seattle's mayor, Ed Murray has decided not to run for re-election.

It wasn't all bad news. This week, the Senate passed on the chance to turn back the clock on greenhouse gas emissions.

Question of the Week

This confirms what I've been thinking for a while. Liberals have issues with tolerance and prejudice as well. And before you object and say, "But that's because 'they're' trying to oppress us!" remember that "they" think the same thing about "us".

"[T]hey see exactly what Donald Trump has taught them: that the entire media landscape loathes them, their values, their family, and their religion."

Are liberals contributing to the great divide in this country more than we think we are? Both of the articles here would suggest that we are in fact doing so. The more I think about late-night comedies and how they handle conservatives, two words keep popping into my head: Bullying, and Prejudice. Bullying doesn't always mean beating somebody up or harassing them on the internet. It comes in many forms. And prejudice doesn't always mean denying somebody a job. And it can happen between people with the same skin color.

I think our intentions are good. We need a bit of comic relief, and we need to showcase how silly some of this stuff out there is. But is humiliating somebody for their belief the right way to do that? Regardless of what we think about the rightness or wrongness of the other person's belief, has bullying a person ever, in the history of the world, successfully led to that person changing their belief to yours? By using mockery and shaming to showcase the rightness of our beliefs, don't we just push people in the opposite direction? Even if they were inclined to think about it a different way or have a glimmer of an open mind, they're not going to, just to spite us.

I know I have experienced this myself with various political beliefs I don't necessarily share with some of my fellow liberals. The bullying I have encountered didn't make me see or share their belief, it made me loathe it, as well as the people they were promoting. It made me want to have nothing to do with them whatsoever, and even though it was last year, I still resent it. Have you ever been made to feel like that by somebody else in your own political party? I would encourage you to recall those emotions, and ask yourself if doing this to other people makes us the better party. Like the Atlantic article mentions, Michelle Obama's quote last year about when others go low, we go high, are we really taking the high road? Or are we just lowering ourselves for the laugh? Are we hurting our party and our country in the long run? Would we like to be the subject of those comedy programs? If one existed on the conservative side that tore our beliefs apart and made us to look like buffoons, would it make us open our hearts and minds to them? Or would it make us want to destroy them at all costs? I think we know the answer to that...

I was going to share one of the SNL skits from last night on today's post. I thought it was pretty funny and I did share it last night on my FB page. But in light of this question of the week, I am going to skip it. I am going to think long and hard about my own role in all of this and how I can help our country get out of this hole it's dug itself into. I can't necessarily change the world or the country, but I can change my own actions. In the end, it's the only thing any of us can really do.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

05/06/17 Week in Review

Well, it was a whirlwind week of overwhelming bills and executive orders being passed. It's almost too much to think about, but we have to think about it. I would urge everybody to read all you can about the facts and figures of these issues, and contact your state representatives to let them know how you feel about them. They need to hear from us.

The Healthcare Bill
A well-written, non-hysterical article about the House voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act this week.

Another article explaining the health care bill passed this week.

This article describes the pre-existing conditions controversy from this week.

The healthcare bill now lies in the hands of the Senate. It will take time, but the final product is likely to look vastly different from what it looks like now. And that seems to be just fine with the House. For me, this is proof that this was just about getting a cheap victory to make them look less completely pathetic. This wasn't for the American people's benefit, it was for Congress's.

I normally don't share Washington Post articles because I know it's a limited site if you don't have a paid subscription to it, but if you haven't maxed out your free articles for the month yet, or have a subscription, please read this article very carefully. The healthcare bill that Congress passed this week is very upsetting, but the media, both social and news, are not helping very much to quell the hysteria and tell the truth. We need to fight this, but we need to know the facts and base our arguments on those and not our emotions built up from a meme we saw on Facebook or a news article designed to get you to read it and grow terrified so you'll make sure to keep checking back to the site.

Good News

82 of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 have been released.

It looks like PBS is safe for another year, in spite of all our worries!

Scientists have used technology to remove the HIV DNA code from mice, freeing mice from the disease. Could this work one day for humans? Only time and a lot of testing will tell.

LGBT Issues

Though this article veers from the original topic part way through, this is the first real "mainstream" news site talking about the alleged rounding up and torture of LGBT people in Chechnya, that I have seen.

And a follow-up article from the same news site explaining more about Chechnya.

This might not get passed, but at least some members of Congress are trying to do the right thing for our fellow LGBTQ American citizens.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an argument to try and dismantle the ban on gay conversion therapy in the state of California. The ban is being upheld.

Miscellaneous

After a rather raunchy commentary on an episode of Stephen Colbert's night show this week, the FCC will be looking into the complaints it has received to see if any laws were broken.

One of Trump's latest executive orders is aimed at loosening the rules around churches and political speech. The next time you're at church, if you hear your pastor talking politics, you'll know where your religious institution stands on this issue...

The state of Texas is just a governor's signature away from banning sanctuary cities in their state.

Trump can't seem to get anybody to become Secretary of the Army. It's like they don't want to work for him, or something.

Question of the Week

The facts behind the woman arrested after laughing at Jeff Sessions, including a video of the actual incident.

"The US Department of Justice is literally prosecuting a woman for laughing at Jeff Sessions"-This is an actual headline for an article. This is my opinion, but this is not balanced news.

An actually well-balanced, non-hysterical article about the woman arrested after laughing at Jeff Sessions.

Are the Democrats guilty of crying wolf? One of the big headlines I saw a lot this week, besides the healthcare bill, was this one: A woman was arrested and jailed for laughing at Jeff Sessions and has now been found guilty. What isn't told in those headlines, is the context behind all of it. And while I understand that it sounds like a dangerous precedent that Sessions himself is setting, the reality is, none of this appears to have anything to do with him at all. The headlines make it sound like a woman laughed at him, and he had her carted off. If you watch the video of what happened, it paints a very different picture.

My question is, is this good for us as a party to do? With people hurling accusations at us and the media for spreading fake news, are we really doing ourselves any favors by playing into their hands? If we overreact to things like this, when something actually vital happens, does that help spread the word or does it just dilute it because we've overreacted so many times before? The problem with these issues, and with the way the media portrays them, is that they play on our emotions. They're designed to make us terrified and/or outraged over the situation that none of us bothered to investigate beyond the meme we saw on Twitter or that headline we saw on HuffPo. This is irresponsible activism, if you can even call it activism. We must do better than this.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

04/30/17 Week in Review

It was definitely a busier week than last week. Congress is back in session and had to work on their economic plan in order to avoid a standoff and subsequent governmental shutdown. That was avoided, luckily. Because it all ended up being squared away, I didn't actually pay any attention to it and you won't find many articles about it here. We also saw the first 100 days come to pass yesterday. I don't know about you, but it's felt like a lot longer than that...!

Science

While the best solution is still to reduce our plastic consumption, this is very exciting and promising information to hopefully take care of the plastic problem we currently have. *Warning-If looking at maggot-like caterpillars would creep you out, don't open this article.

There is finally a malaria vaccine, and it's going to be rolled out in three African nations very soon.

The malaria vaccine is good, but there is a certain logic behind the idea of letting African scientists be the ones to develop the vaccines they need, and distribute them in the way that works best for their countries.

Scientists have developed an artificial womb to help premature lamb fetuses reach maturity. They would like to develop this technology for human use one day. However, that comes with a whole host of ethical issues that must be addressed first. *Warning-If looking at a lamb fetus would creep you out, don't open this article.

The First 100 Days

Being president of the United States is super hard work. Apparently.

100 days into the new administration, here is the world's take on Trump.

Here is an article written by Pramila Jayapal, my Congressional representative, about her first 100 days in office. I might be biased because she's my rep, but she's pretty awesome!

The state of the Democrats 100 days into the new presidency.

Russia Investigation

The first 100 days of the Russian investigation.

The White House has refused to give documents about Michael Flynn to help with the Russian investigation.

Carl Bernstein seems to think there's an active cover-up going on with the Russia investigation. Somebody who helped uncover Watergate would probably know best.

Apparently there is a plan for the investigation's schedule, going forward.

Healthcare

The GOP healthcare plan just passed a huge hurdle towards being approved.

Here is a closer look at the amendments being proposed to the GOP healthcare bill that have won the approval of so many who had opposed the first bill.

Obama Wall Street Fee Controversy

In this week's example of irony, or possibly hypocrisy: Elizabeth Warren complaining about Obama giving a paid speech whilst promoting her own book, for which I am sure she is charging money to readers to purchase…Be careful Dems, we don't want to become the snake the swallows its own tail and destroys itself.

While I'm not sure I agree with this opinion piece, it does explain very well why some people are freaking out about Obama accepting a fee to give a speech for Wall Street. It's good to consider all sides of an argument.

Miscellaneous

New Orleans have begun taking down some offensive monuments from the Civil War era, with plans to take down more soon. They don't know where to put them, however. Might I make a suggestion? The Robert E. Lee or the Jefferson Davis statue, depending on size, might look wonderful in Fremont, across the street from the Lenin statue...

Gift Ngoepe has become the first African to play major league baseball in the United States.

All these judges are being so mean to Trump, shooting down his illegal, unethical, and unconstitutional executive orders...Here's the latest.

Here is an opinion piece about Trump's bullying of Canada that started this week.

This is a clear, well-written, non-hysterical article about net neutrality and the changes proposed this week.

Question(s) of the Week:


I'm not going to pretend to know the answers to these questions, so I am just going to pose them here for us to ponder over time. This whole "Obama fee" controversy feels like much ado about nothing, to me, but apparently it's a big deal? Why is it such a big deal? If the idea of receiving money from Wall Street for giving a speech is problematic, isn't giving the speech at all in the first place even more problematic? Why aren't people upset that Obama is giving the speech at all, instead of the fact that he'll be receiving money for it? And why are people upset at the idea of receiving money for giving a speech? Should all things done by a former president or politician be altruistic in nature? Why shouldn't they profit from doing work? Would you give a speech for free every time? It's not quite the same as being invited to talk at a high school graduation, after all. Why is ok for Elizabeth Warren to write and promote her books while in office but it's not ok for Obama to take money for giving a speech while out of office?

Like I said, I don't know the answers to these questions. They're more philosophical in nature than something with a firm yes or no answer. Each person has to answer them for themselves, really. I wish you luck with that!