Dreams & Regrets

I have a colleague who I bump into occasionally.  Nice guy. Super nice. He has a gaggle of kids. Four I think. Or maybe it’s three. I don’t think five. But enough for sure. 

Recently I was telling him about my little West Virginia getaway and he told me that a few years back he and his wife almost bought a nice little cabin on a lake. But he was too frugal and pulled the plug but now regretted it because he loved the place and land values of course have continued to increase. 

As he was telling me about the lake house, he got a far away look in his eyes and his gaze sorta drifted off over my shoulder. 

More recently, we were talking about motorcycle riding. It came up because of my cast. He told me he almost bought a motorcycle years ago, but again talked himself out of it. And really wished he had it now to do a little riding on sunny Saturday afternoons. And again, as he was telling me, he got that faraway look.  

I felt a little bad for him because he obviously regretted not taking those choices when they came along.

Regrets. I guess we’ve all had a few. But for me at least, too few to mention. 

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams

John Barrymore

Seems some truth in that. Dream on. Dream on. It really is our fuel. Or should be. I know a good amount of people whose day-to-day existence consumes all their energy. And I’m talking about people here in the US who make ridiculous money but never spend a dime on their dreams or even having real fun. It’s an easy trap I suppose.

I see it in a lot of people. And I feel passionately that most will look back one day and wish they had lived with a bit more bravado and gusto. That’s not meant to be a criticism–merely an observation. We all choose our paths.

In developing countries, or in times past here, when simply surviving required 100% of our focus and attention, it made sense. Hunting; gathering; farming. Fighting predators. Staying warm. Disease and sickness. In our lives here and now, we often choose a diminished life. We box ourselves in to lives that are unsatisfactory and feel there is no way out. Suicide and depression are at historic highs in the US even though our lives are far more comfortable than they were even 100 years ago. 

Anyway. I am lucky to have long ago learned to at least attempt to live a full life. I also constrain myself in favor of a little long-term security but by and large have learned to live in the moment. And I have plenty of dreams left, and few regrets at this point.

I had to fill out some paperwork today and I needed my former address in Cleveland and even though I’ve only lived in Somerset for a few months, I could not remember my old address. This is what happens when you move so much. As soon as the old house disappears from the rear view mirror, the details begin to fade. I remember mom and dad’s old address because they lived there for 60 years. 

But fortunately Amazon has every address I’ve ever had something delivered to. This is my go-to when I need to find an address where I used to live for one reason or another. 

Although for some reason they do not have my Australia addresses—and it is unlikely that I went 2 years without ordering something from Amazon. So that’s a little odd.

Here’s my recipe to save America. You’re welcome.

Campaign election reform. No private money. Zero. Candidates can only spend a small amount of federal money for campaigning. No in-kind donations. No PAC’s or Super PAC’s. This is the only way. Corruption is rampant. In my plan, everyone campaigns on an even field. Obama thought the Supreme Court was wrong on the Citizens United decision. I don’t have enough experience to weigh in on that. But since they ruled the way they did, we need to reform the constitution to make it clear. Corporations and high worth individuals contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to influence campaigns is not an equitable democracy. 

Representation – Senators from each state are partially elected and partially chosen at random. Sounds draconian, but our current system is fatally flawed. Of course the US is full of idiots, but can we honestly say that the Boebert’s and Green’s and Gaetz’s and even McConnell’s are better than the average? I don’t think so. Also, we trust random citizens to make critical judgements in our judicial branch, so why not our legislative. This ensures we get some farmers, teachers, scientists, bartenders, mechanics and management consultants etc. instead of our current system which gives us only (mostly) millionaires who are for the most part hand chosen by the parties in their state. Same with the House of Representatives. 50% are elected and 50% are chosen randomly. 

Personnel who are randomly selected are allowed to take a pass if they do not want to serve or have some hardship. Provisions are made to allow people to return to their jobs after they serve their time when randomly selected.

One term for senators (6 years) and one term for House of Representatives (2 years). I don’t buy this bullshit that it’s a hard job and experience counts so we need to give them time to grow into the role. It’s not a hard job if you are doing it right and looking out for your constituents. Besides, life experience as a private citizen should be the most meaningful qualification, not sitting in Congress for decades where you lose sight of what it’s like to live without the protections afforded Senators and members of The House.

Finally, no more two Senators per state rule. When a state with a population of less than 2M has the same influence as states with tens of millions, the system is unfair. This needs corrected. Senate representation should be proportional to state population. 50% elected and 50% random.

Gerrymandering comes to an end. Use computers or some way to re-district after census that is impartial, fair, and not manipulated by state legislatures motivated to cling to power.

Election laws are based purely on federal legislation rather than state laws. And, they embody the spirit of getting as many people to vote as possible. No more bullshit state legislatures unfairly taking people off voting rolls or otherwise making it illegal or uncomfortable to vote. And this provision includes 10 days or more of voting and mail-in votes as well as embracing other new ways of using technology to vote that is fair and safe. And felons who have served their time are allowed to vote. 

No professional lobbyist.  Fuck those assholes. Congresspersons and government employees can meet with industry professionals as necessary for research to understand issues and context around their duties–but no paid lobbyists representing industries or companies. No dinners. No lunches. No gifts. No free rides on private planes. No hookers. No drugs or booze. Just meetings to learn and understand. 

Supreme Court nominations are for 10 years. And we expand to a larger court to better accommodate political cycles and make the court less vulnerable to manipulation. Lifetime appointments might have been fine when life expectancy was 50, but makes no sense now.

Abolish the Electoral College. It’s bullshit and is killing us. The misrepresentation in this country due to the EC is a serious flaw in our political system. In what democracy other than ours does the candidate with the fewest votes win?

Kill the filibuster. 51 votes in the senate is a majority. That’s the way voting works. That’s the heart and soul of democracy.

We could also disband Congress in current form and evolve to a parliamentary. It’s a much more representative and flexible governmental system as it encourages multiple parties rather than our terribly destructive 2-party system. 

We should create a Cabinet level position called Minister of diversity and culture. We need to eradicate the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in American psyche and reinforced through our schools, laws, police, military and other institutions.

All of this requires massive constitutional reform which is impossible because another flaw of our constitution is the burden for amendment is impossibly high. So best to throw out our current constitution and start fresh. But that requires a revolution. And guess what, in a revolution, the crazies win because they have all the guns.

So my recipe to save America is just a fantasy. 

Actually, I don’t care anyway. America is not special and definitely has shown that we are not worth saving as a governmental or political system. People matter. And our government does not serve the majority of our people so it needs to go. Proactively, or under duress. 

In other news……I’ve moved into my new abode. And happy for it. It’s very nice to have my own things around me again. I do not recommend moving with a broken arm. That part sorta sucked but here I am. Still plenty to do so it will be a few more days before everything is right where it needs to be. Terri is coming for dinner this week to help me hang artwork and prints. The garage still needs to be cleared out of empty boxes and organized so I can get both motorcycles and the canoe in. But good progress.

I’ve had my first meals in this new kitchen. My first martini. My first cigar and fire on the back patio which overlooks the farm directly behind my house.

And Larry has moved into his house. Finally. A long construction, but it is beautiful. A nice little place in the woods. Very cozy and unique.

Work remains good. Busy but good. It’s shaping up to be a good project I think. Sjoerd and Onah are moving into their house and from the pictures, it is amazing. Brittany and I leave the 26th for 3 weeks to visit and attend the house-warming.

Black Dog Ridge is coming along. We were supposed to dig the trench for the power line, but at the last minute we pulled back. The cost was just too high and we are going to look for a better way to run the lines. But Kenny has the foundation for the main addition poured and within the next few weeks will start putting up walls.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind. I need to get to West Virginia to check progress and we need to get to Roanoke to see Brittany’s family. Then Christmas and then off to Europe for 3 weeks. I will be working remote for a good bit of the time, but will be doing it from the middle of a canal in the old canal keeper’s building. So no worries.

Silver Lining, the little side project Sue and I put together (mostly Sue) is one year old now. In that time, with around 100 donations she has helped hundreds of people with food, shelter and other necessities at a time when Namibians are really suffering. Many of my friends and co-workers have donated. So that is very cool. Sue is a super hard worker and always focused on how she can help others. An amazing lady.

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

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