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My Favorite Cathouse

There is a cathouse in Long Island, a suburb of New York City, that I love to visit. I always bring something for everyone there to drink and I always enjoy myself.

Curious? OK, it’s not that type of cathouse. ๐Ÿ˜† It’s actually a small house someone built for cats that hang out in an abandoned lot overgrown with trees, bushes and weeds near a Long Island Railroad train station.

There is a woman who brings food and water every morning for the cats. Every time I’m in the area I stop by to see if they need food or water. I usually just have to add a little water or sometimes clean a bowl and add water.

Being aware of how irresponsible it is to allow uncontrolled breeding to create a population problem, this woman has had all of the stray cats in this particular area neutered. (Overpopulation of abandoned pets is merely a reflection of our own mindless breeding habits as a species and how we choose not to address the planetary destruction we cause, which is also a case of societal suicide).

Neutering feral cats and dogs is very important. Sadly, there is an incredibly large number of selfish, ignorant people who want a pet (or who’s children want a pet) who aren’t willing and/or able to take care of the poor animals. Neglect is rampant and occasionally people take in a pet, then decide the work and cost isn’t worth the love and affection they can receive in return. Usually, these inconsiderate knuckle-draggers drive to a different neighborhood and dump the cat or dog into the street to fend for his or herself. This is despicable and should land people in jail, in my opinion. (Personally, I believe the love and affection of pets is priceless, but some people are devoid of compassion).

I find it agonizingly ignorant of people to assume that it’s acceptable to force animals to survive outside in areas in which humans have completely destroyed the natural habitat. We’ve redesigned so much of our land to fit our own greedy needs without a care for how other species will survive.

Naturally, this refers more to animals born in the wild than to our household pets, but people think it’s OK to drop off a cat that has been conditioned to eat and drink from bowls indoors near a small patch of woods and think they’ll easily be able to hunt small prey. In a city like New York, there isn’t enough live prey for the huge number of abandoned cats to hunt so they survive by competing with rats, squirrels, pigeons, and even raccoons and possum to scrounge through garbage for scraps. Then, people get angry when their garbage bags have been ripped open. Some of these people, mentally ill cowards without compassion, put poison out for animals to eat. This also, in my opinion, should land people in jail.

Pretty dysfuctional, to say the least.

So, thousands of stray pets wind up in the streets and they multiply rapidly. This is a large problem. I’ve rescued kittens that were two to three weeks old in the middle of winter. I can only imagine how many freeze and starve to death every year. The ASPCA has mobile trucks in NYC (and I’m sure in all cities) that will perform neutering very inexpensively for people living on a tight budget. There is no excuse to cause so much suffering. It’s just another way we show how uncivilized we are as a society.

People need to understand that all living beings deserve to enjoy life. It doesn’t have to be glamorous and pampered, but we shouldn’t view animals as less worthy of a peaceful existence than humans. I won’t even go into the horribly “inhumane” livestock industry (at least not in this post) in which animals are imprisoned, abused, tortured and painfully killed simply for our pleasure. We need to reassess some of our cruel, insensitive behavior before we can continue believing we’re civilized. Of course, it’s no surprise we treat other species so abhorrently when we observe how we treat fellow humans.

Why don’t all people agonize over the millions of homeless in the world and do something about it? How can people walk around them on sidewalks while going to their (very often) meaningless jobs making money in a cruel system that exploits virtually all living beings on the planet? Some of the least worthy human beings make the largest amounts of money doing the most callous things – simply to buy as many objects as possible, most of which are ridiculously overvalued.

This is especially disturbing considering how little we value life.

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A Photographic Walk Around San Francisco

I post complaints too often on this blog so I decided to post something light from my recent travels…

On the left, friends I made during breakfast by the San Francisco Ferry Building. On the right, a view of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

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A view of Alcatraz Island from an elevated section of Hyde St., looking past the Hyde St. Pier.

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Another view of Alcatraz Island, this one from a beach along Jefferson St. near the Maritime Museum and Ghirardelli Square.

(Yes, I am fascinated by Alcatraz) ๐Ÿ˜†

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In the foreground of this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken from Black Point is the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion where I happened upon the San Francisco Public Library’s 53rd Annual Big Book Sale. I was like a kid in a candy store. This was a warehouse filled with thousands of books for sale – each for the price of $1. I saw every genre, from early printings of classics and textbooks to science fiction and drugstore novels. I wished for a moment I had a car trunk to fill, but I had to contain my enthusiasm and purchase just 12 paperback books. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

My lunch companions at a thin strip of park along Marina Blvd. between the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor and Marina Green Triangle.

On the left, a group of trees near Crissy Field Marsh I found interesting, and on the right, a view of Torpedo Wharf from the hills on the SF side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge from various points along a trail that winds its way up a steep climb from Marine Dr. to the bridge. In the background in the photo on the left is the Marin Headlands. In the background of the two photos on the right are Lime Point and Horseshoe Bay. Next to Horseshoe Bay is Fort Baker, named after a Senator who lost his life during the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Virginia during the Civil War.

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A Brain Without Heart Is Just An Out Of Tune Organ

I doubt many people will like this. Oh well…

Despite the supreme effort of people who declare that we are the most ingenious form of life on Mother Earth, I see plant and animal life, even soil, water and rock, as more integral to life on the planet. And I see humans as parasitic.

parasite (par-uh-sahyt): noun

an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.

Plants and animals evolve in tune with the planet, the beautiful music of nature. Human beings are discordant, out of tune, arrhythmic and artless for the most part. I am referring to the entire species, of course. There are some people who attempt to live in tune with the planet, beautiful human beings that are made to feel strange, out of place, while the opposite is closer to the truth. The atonal way of life we’ve chosen as a society is predatory and destructive, not in alignment with the universe. Earth will find a way to eliminate such a menace to life. And we are helping her…

Monsanto – $14 billion in revenue 2016; Dow Chemical – $48 billion in revenue 2016; Johnson & Johnson – $74 billion in revenue 2016; generous tax breaks to sociopathic fossil fuel executives who collect billions of dollars while spreading poison; toxic chemicals blasted into the earth to extract material that spread more poison and increase seismic activity; toxic, radioactive waste pours into our oceans and instead we talk about celebrities; over 62 million “people” voted for trump in the 2016 selection…

Yes, it’s almost sickeningly amusing from a distant, detached perspective – though it’s truly heartbreaking. Even a society that prides itself on brilliant scientific discoveries and technological advancement doesn’t understand the simple “science” of life – the coexistence of balance, cooperation and understanding.

We exist, but are we truly living in the sense of what is natural and healthy?

Have we so bastardized our existence, soaked our minds and bodies so full of toxic chemicals and toxic thoughts that we are no longer authentic human beings?

What is it to be human?

To think was at one point in time considered the epitome of being human, but hasn’t this era of “thinking” brought life as we know it to the brink of destruction? Haven’t those who profess the scientific mind of cold, calculating thought to be the ultimate, the crown jewel of humanity, left empathy and compassion as unimportant considerations in their obsessive quest for knowledge? And hasn’t that quest been co-opted by wealthy “takers” whose obscene level of desire has compromised the validity of their lives? We’re dancing to something artificially choreographed, clumsy and with no natural rhythm or melody – crudely crafted to dehumanize us.

And most of us continue dancing…

Is it dishonest to ponder the possibility that our humanity has been assimilated into a sterile, machine-like existence, a soulless vacuum in which we feel personal pain and suffering yet refuse to find solutions when the pain and suffering we see doesn’t touch us?

Yes that may sound crazy, but I no longer fear sounding crazy while living in a truly insane society almost devoid of compassion and in which a significant portion of the population lacks the wisdom to distinguish between decency and dysfunction.

Are you insane if you are considered insane in an insane society?

I’m not going to pretend that I’m the smartest person around – there’s far too much of that these days – but I know that we need to do something very soon. How long can we comfortably sit and expect a superhero to save us? Will Wonder Woman help us? Will Spiderman? Are the outrageously overfunded forms of escapism we feed on daily merely a small tool in the arsenal of the rulers who numb us with false hope and suicidal resignation? Is heroic action nothing more than fantasy? Are we hoping that the cosmic babysitter in the sky will save us by reigning down terrible retribution on the evil people?

Or is the evil actually when we give up responsibility for our decisions and pretend we’re taking inspired action when we support insignificant changes in behavior while mindlessly feeding our addictions, ignoring reality and artfully justifying each other’s apathy and complacency?

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Bernie Sanders Visits NYC

Bernie Sanders visited the old neighborhood Monday night, October 30th, to lend a helping hand to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The free event was held at a music venue in Hell’s Kitchen called Terminal 5. Speakers included a union organizer, two immigrant activists – a young woman from Pakistan and a young man from Peru, an assemblyman, Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio, but there was no doubt as to who the star attraction was. Bernie Sanders received long, loud applause every time his named was mentioned by another speaker and throughout his speech. Chants of “Bernie, Bernie” puncuated the speeches by McCray and de Blasio along with an occasional call for “four more years.”

The crowd was an interesting mix of young and old and of all ethnicities. Issues touched on were a tax increase on the wealthy, working toward single payer health care, education for everyone regardless of income, raising the minimum wage, increased benefits for workers such as paid maternity leave and one that received howling applause – ย fighting the war on immigrants, people of color, Islam and people living in poverty being waged by conservatives around the country and particularly by the trump administration.

Though de Blasio made a huge mistake in supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, he is still the only choice a sane, moral person in New York City could make (in my opinion).

His two opponents are both dysfunctional conservatives. One is GOP candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who seems to do nothing but attack de Blasio for cronyism and being soft on crime.

The other is calling himself an independent, but is a regular guest on Fox News and the radio show of blatant racist Don Imus. Bo Dietl is a vulgar ex-cop whose campaign is a “tough guy” stance on fighting crime and who wants to hire more police, continue stop & frisk policies and build more jails. He’s basically an attention whore who craves publicity of any type. He constantly slams de Blasio for “turning his back on dead cops” and attempts to spread fear of a city with uncontrollable crime if de Blasio wins reelection.

Neither spends much time talking about actual issues or shows any concern for homelessness or poverty. They’re both more interested in increasing income for business executives and police officers.

I took a few pictures, but I have to apologize for the low quality as my “camera” is an old, feeble iPad. ๐Ÿ˜€

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You Get What You Pay For

I spent hours today putting together a collection of photos I took during a recent walk around San Francisco. I added a sentence or two underneath each photo (or pair of photos) and was going to post it as something of a photo journal.

Except, there was a problem.

Some of the photos didn’t appear and some of the text was printed in bold, while some was not.

I decided to try and fix it and hit “edit.” I started by deleting what was printed in the areas where the missing photos were (in the draft), in case I’d made a mistake or some inadvertent technical problem occurred, and put them back in. I did this a few times, but the same photos were missing each time.

Bold text is something I started having problems with a year or two ago, but I learned how to solve it. By looking at a number of old posts which still had bold text, I figured out how to go into the HTML setting in the draft and type something at the beginning and end of each paragraph that would allow the text to be seen in bold lettering. Now, I do this every time I post something. It’s tedious, but worth seeing my posts in bold print. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be so bold type prevents an unnecessary strain on my eyes. I also figured there might be a few people who read my posts that have the same problem.

I carefully checked every paragraph to make sure everything was done properly. There was still text in the post that wasn’t in bold print. I did all of this while checking a “preview”, then thought that perhaps it wasn’t showing up in preview, but would be correct after posting. So I posted it, but it was still incorrect. So, I’m currently unable to post the draft.

About two years ago I started having serious problems writing my essays in WordPress. I struggled with it for a while, then started writing everything in the note section of my iPad. I would then put them into WordPress drafts with copy & paste. I’ve periodically lost a tool in WordPress over the years and know it’s because I don’t pay for the site so I’ve adapted to each change. However, this seems like a bit too much to adapt to. It’s too limiting.

I’m curious to see if this “complaint” will appear online the way it’s put into the draft section.

If it does, the problem might just be in posting assays with photos. Either way I’ll probably stop posting soon on WordPress (I have a few “works in progress”) and look elsewhere for a new blog. They might all be the same, of course, – the “you get what you pay for” syndrome. I’ll see.

I’m curious whether there is anyone who reads my blog that has had the same, or a similar problem, with their blog. I don’t pay for a better quality blog (obviously) and my iPad is old. Both play a part in this, but I’m curious how much is due to the low quality blog and how much is the iPad. I might be able to figure this out if people help by adding comments about similar experiences. I know I don’t have many followers so this might be fruitless, but I’m giving it a try anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€

Thank you to everyone who reads this and who comments.

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Random Observations and Thoughts

1) I was walking along University Ave. in Berkeley and had my way blocked by a group of people. There was something odd about the scene that took a moment to comprehend. There were eight people standing in a circle, but no one was speaking. They all appeared to be in their twenties and they all had an electronic device in their hands that they were intently staring into. Seriously. I noticed a couple smiles, but was still a little weirded out by it. This habit of being transfixed by an electronic device has become an obsession. It looked like a scene in a comedy skit making fun of modern youth.

2) I was sitting on a concrete wall, engrossed in a book (by Carlos Castaneda) and witnessed a group of about 20 boys led by a few young men walk into a store that sells communication devices and “data plans” according to the huge lettering screaming from the windows. They were all wearing identical purple t-shirts. I assumed the shirts were from a school, sports team or youth organization. A while later they noisily exited the store and a few taunted a dog tethered to a post in front of the store. I was about to intervene when one of the men finally did something. This happened two more times. One man walked away from the group and held his phone in his hand while another had the boys line up in front of the store. Then the one with the phone prompted a group cheer by yelling “metro!” and snapped a photo as the boys responded with an enthusiastic “pcs!” I was confused until I noticed the name above the store window and on the t-shirts was Metro PCS. Corporate cheerleading is very creepy.

It’s disturbing that these men found it difficult to reprimand abusive behavior, but happily enforced corporate conditioning.

3) I met a weather-beaten homeless man one morning on the Embarcadero in San Francisco who held a sign that read “help out an old goat” on his lap while sitting on a bench. I gave him money and spoke with him for a while. We had a very interesting conversation and I found him to be considerably more balanced than most people I meet – people who have a home, a job, a bed and plenty of food to eat. He didn’t tell me what transpired to land him in the streets, but he did tell me that he sleeps in Golden Gate Park at night and hangs out in tourist areas to collect money and food from generous people. He smiled as we spoke, though I detected a slight feeling of defeat beneath the smile. I wondered if it was because of the fact that people look at him with revulsion despite the fact that he hurts no one, has minimized his “footprint’ on the planet and has accomplished the enviable task of surrendering to life’s circumstances. This particular day was a rough one for cash for him, but good for food. As I was leaving he asked if I was hungry and offered me food. I declined, but thanked him and was impressed by his fortitude to survive the streets as well as his gratitude for what he receives from people.

Is he humble because he lives on the streets or is he living on the streets because he’s humble?

4) I was on a bus in Las Vegas and suddenly five plainclothes cops got on. They told everyone to stay seated and explained they were going to ask the passengers questions. The interrogations were done in English and Spanish. They asked everyone the same questions:

Where did we start our journey?
To where were we heading?
How many pieces of luggage did we have?
Did we have any guns, bombs or drugs on the bus?
Would we allow our luggage to be inspected?

The final question made my skin crawl.

I heard no one object to physical inspection of our belongings and felt extremely uncomfortable about either potential answer.

Do I stand up for my rights or do I cause suspicion to be cast upon me for being the only person to object? Do I demand some semblance of democracy or do I succumb to the threat of a police state? As it turned out, I was the only passenger who requested an explanation and was given a predictably vague response (and an annoyed look in the eyes of the officer I spoke with – despite the constant smile).

Funny thing. They had a dog sniffing the luggage while they were asking for permission.

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Ordinary People

To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, the masses of modern society have been leading “lives of quiet desperation” for many years.

This “quiet desperation” is an inevitable result of being locked out of participation in the fake democracy we’ve built in the U.S. as well as the feeling that “things will never change.”

However, the quiet is giving way to loud, manic anger and the desperation, breeding with mounting fear and anxiety, is looking more like deep, intense misery. This deadening of hope has caused a wave of sporadic violence which causes a further distancing between people who desperately need to get together to eliminate the cancer of corporate control destroying life on the planet.

When does “resigning yourself to your fate” become giving up on life? At the very least, it limits your possibilities. At its worst, it can crush hope and defeat you, leaving a shrunken husk of a person. This could be likened to the carcass of a former democracy killed through apathy and complacency that we live in. Obviously, one leads to the other.

Yes, we can blame the ownership class for their relentless class warfare, but we can’t blame them for our giving up and allowing the continuation of this monstrous disaster. Some of us fall for the deep indoctrination the fear slingers weave through virtually every piece of information in corporate media.

If you work hard, don’t make waves, fly a flag to show patriotism and follow the commandments of the state-sponsored religion, you will succeed.

Yes, and an angel will drop from heaven and bless you with super powers.

Why do so many of us obey the rulers’ lap dogs who are just obeying their masters? Why don’t we see this second hand obedience for what it is?

Cowardice.

One of the reasons for the loss of hope these days is the feeling most of us have that we cannot do anything about.

“I’m just one person. What can I do?”

Well, if everyone (or a significant percentage of the population of ordinary people) does what one person can do, things will change. We need to feel inspired by courageous people around us and find our courage. We all have it. With some of us it’s merely a bit deeper under the many invisible layers of obedience that have been plastered onto us since birth.

We need to throw off the shackles of today’s slavery (obedience) and regain our humanity. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things…

Jackie Robinson (as an ex-Army soldier returning from WWII before he became a legendary baseball player)

Rosa Parks

Fred Hampton & Mark Clark

Mumia Abu-Jamal

George L. Jackson

James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner & Andrew Goodman

Rev. George Lee

Lamar Smith

Herbert Lee & Louis Allen

William Lewis Moore

Medgar Evers

Rev. Bruce Klunder

Jimmie Lee Jackson

Viola Gregg Liuzzo

Rev. James Reeb

Wharlet Jackson

Chelsea Manning

Jeremy Hammond

Deric Lostutter

Waleed Abdulkhair

Gao Zhosheng

Colin Kaepernick

Who’s next?