Voter Suppression Revisited

I received my absentee ballot in the mail on Monday for the Maryland primary election, set for June 2, 2020. I completed the ballot this afternoon. I imagine it will be chaotic at the polls that day. So, I planned ahead and ordered my ballot a few weeks ago.

No, I won’t be mailing it back. I will be hand-delivering it to the Board of Elections. Mailed ballots are a big, yet benign, voter suppression method. People mail their ballots and yet won’t know whether the ballot was received or counted. The Montgomery County Board of Elections has an automated phone line to which I can call to confirm receipt of my ballot. I wonder if other jurisdictions have such a service. Voting has always been a big deal to me, and I have voted in every election for which I was eligible since my 18th birthday.

In 2016, experts have said approximately 512,000 mailed ballots weren’t counted. Over the past several elections, millions of mailed ballots were either lost or invalidated and not counted. This year, more than ever, we need every single vote. A lot is at stake. In addition to the Office of President, all of the House seats are up for grabs, and 35 Senate seats are open. The primary elections are key, but more importantly, the general election in November will be a hot target for voter suppression. Ergo, I will be hand delivering my ballot. The county election office is just about 3 miles from my home.

I have written about voter suppression tactics previously. I didn’t include mailed ballots as one of those tactics. I didn’t think of it then. I have low confidence that mailed ballots will be delivered. Everyone who plans to vote by mail should return the ballots in-person. We really need all votes to count, particularly since we know all eligible voters won’t be voting, for various reasons. But, that’s a topic for discussion on another day.







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Once Upon A Time When I Was Really Sick

I never forgot that time several years ago when I had a very bad stomach virus of unknown origins. Nothing at all helped me feel better, except time. I stayed on my knees in front of the toilet for days. That helped me appreciate the plight of people with the eating disorder, bulimia. The most obvious symptoms were a fever, nausea, and vomiting — all of which lasted from about 8:30 pm one night through the next several days. My whole body ached so much that I thought I was dying, literally. I’m not kidding. I couldn’t keep anything on my stomach. Each time I found myself on my knees in the bathroom, I hoped that it was the last. But, it wasn’t. I couldn’t eat, so I kept drinking orange juice to keep up my strength and to keep from becoming dehydrated. I also kept sucking on ice cubes and using a cold compress to try and combat the fever.

It was such a terribly, ghastly feeling I wouldn’t launch upon my worst enemy, and it made me think of the many people who routinely purge themselves on purpose after a meal to control their weight. I realized that someone who is completely stable and comfortable would not do it. I don’t really understand what a person might be going through that would make them do that; however, my experience helped me to have a little more compassion for those who do it. If you know of someone with an eating disorder, don’t be too hard on them. It’s an addiction, much like someone who abuses drugs or alcohol.

I always say that we should look for lessons in all of our pain, and I always try to do just that. I am glad that I could learn something from my own suffering. Even years later I still think about it.

I did some research. See these resources.

  1. Bulimia Nervosa
  2. The Learning Loop Lesson on Bulimia, from Youtube (below)

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Bull Mating on a Farm

Bull In the Sun (@ November 2, 2016 by CreativeMarket.Com)


I was reading about mating practices of cows. Obviously cows mate with bulls. But the process comes with risk and danger.

It’s not surprising that it can be dangerous. Both cows and bulls can weigh as much as a ton. That’s  2,000 pounds. Interacting with them can result in accidents. Animals are a lot like people: they can have a mind of their own and be very unpredictable. One of the items I read cited a National Library of Medicine study on injuries incurred while farming and ranching, 30% were caused by livestock, and bulls caused 25% of those injuries. So, nearly all injuries incurred while farming and ranching were caused by bulls. Sadly, about half of those injuries were fatalities.

It is a job hazard. It’s a lot like those people who keep wild animals as pets (animals like bears, big cats, and venomous reptiles). There are bound to be deaths resulting in contact with those animals.

Here is a pretty cool clip on the process.




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Jaywalking in San Francisco


I have been reflecting on my trip to San Francisco back in early March. I had a ball. I did all the things I had planned.

One thing that struck me as odd is seeing the large number of pedestrians all across the city who adhere to the walk, don’t walk lights at intersections. Several times during my visit I noticed people stop and wait for the light to change, even when no traffic was present. I haven’t seen that in DC or New York or Memphis or lots of other cities. Many places do not consistently enforce jaywalking laws. I don’t know whether most places even have a jaywalking ordinance on the books. It seemed odd to me. I found out later that fines can be up to $250, especially for repeat offenders.

That’s a huge incentive to keep from jaywalking. I wonder what percentage of San Francisco’s jaywalking citations are issued to visitors. If I hadn’t seen people stop and wait for the light to change, I would have crossed the street in a rote manner like I often do at home. In talking to a few people who are from San Francisco, there are jaywalkers, but people generally do adhere to the rules.

I’m sure it makes it safer for pedestrians.

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Code-Switching Actors

Ken Berry with cast members of Mama’s Family

Many actors get type cast. They tend to play the same character or the same types of characters throughout their careers. It can be hard for them to find work if they try to seek other roles. But it’s a great testament to an actor’s abilities when he or she can change up and play different types of characters.

Ken Berry and cast members of Mayberry R.F.D.

One such person I’ve thought of recently is Ken Berry. Most people know him as Vinton Harper from the TV show, Mama’s Family. Vinton is a “dopey, buffoonish, and … childish” son of the lead character, Thelma Harper. He played a similar type of dim-witted character in the show, F Troop as Captain Wilton Parmenter.  That’s the kind of role he played in most of the TV shows or movies he was in. One that was different than the others is his role as Sam Jones in Mayberry RFD. He was a straight man. In case you don’t know, the term “straight man” is a serious character in a comedy show who keeps his composure and usually offers some semblance of order, an even-tempered personae. It’s much like Andy was to Barney. Andy was the straight man. That was Sam too on the Andy Griffith Show then later on Mayberry R.F.D..

Ken Berry with cast members of F. Troop

I liked seeing him in such a serious role even though it was a sitcom. Too bad he didn’t get more serious, straight man roles. But that’s how it is for many actors. They get stuck in the same kinds of roles and that’s how they are forever remembered and those are the only types of roles many of them get. That’s why actors should be selective when they are considering a role. Like any job, you sometimes take whatever comes along so you can get paid. But doing that can have negative consequences.













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My Fruit Woes


I love fruit. When I’m in an emotionally healthy place, fruit becomes my go-to snack instead of junk foods like Kettle Chips, Do-si-Dos, or Doritos and guacamole when I’m in a mental funk. Fruit is the perfect snack.

The other day, I bought a bag of tangerines. It was a bag much like the one up above there. That’s one of my favorite snacks. When I grabbed the first one, it was quite sweet and flavorful and nearly melted in my mouth. Even as I was peeling it, I could tell from the aroma that it was going to be lovely. With the first bite, it didn’t disappoint. I dare say it was the best tasting tangerine I had ever eaten. When I ate others in the bag, it was a big letdown. That first one was the only one in the bag that was delicious. All the others were bitter and dry and stringy and chewy.  Yuck. I figured that second one was the anomaly. But then the next several I ate were just like that second one. No flavor at all. Most have been blah, and a few have been alright. Only that one was heavenly. It’s odd to me that one tangerine can be so unlike all the others in the same bag. They are not at all close. There have been occasions in which the opposite is true. Most are great and there’s that one that’s disgusting. That’s life.

I guess it’s like a family with several kids. Sometimes you have one that is a shining star far above the others, while other times you have one who is the black sheep while the rest lead respectable, honorable lives. To borrow words from an old Run DMC song, “Don’t ask me, because I don’t know why. But it’s like that, and that’s the way it is.”

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The Big Day Approaches

I have a birthday coming up in about 3 ½ weeks (April 24th). I’ll have a private, solo house party with my favorite foods and beverages and some dope music via Spotify and Apple Music. I had plans of spending the weekend in New York City; however, the Amtrak train I was going to take cancelled the route, and the hotel closed two weeks ago until further notice. I would have cancelled the trip anyway, even if the train and hotel were still functional.

I’m beginning to receive free and discounted birthday meal coupons from several spots around town such as Capital City Brewery, Silver Diner, PF Changs, to name a few. I’ll likely get more. I am really waiting for the coupon from DSW Warehouse and Macy’s. But most places aren’t even open. I also got an email from Make My Cake Bakery in New York City too, ensuring I am aware they are open for business. It’s kind of moot, though, since I won’t be visiting there any time soon.

So, for my birthday, I will be hanging out with me, myself, and I. That’s not necessarily a criticism. I’m planning a nice menu. It’ll probably be a pizza weekend w/ champagne or Moscato, or both. I think I’ll order from Ledo’s, my favorite DMV area pizza joint. I love their sauce and the crust. I’ll order some birthday cupcakes for dessert. Since I can’t go out to celebrate, I know how to make fun wherever I happen to be. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more quarantines in the coming months and years. It’s just the sign of the times. C’est la vie!

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Made A Grocery Store Run Today

I went to get some food early this morning. Though I prefer to get groceries delivered, there are some things I prefer buying myself. I figured I’d go to Sam’s Club. Didn’t think it would be too many people out. Boy was I surprised.

First of all, there were plenty of people out driving around, walking around. Many of there were not keeping that proper social distance from one another. When I reached the Sam’s Club parking lot, about 8:50 am, there was a line to get in, about half the length of a football field. It was disconcerting. People were lined up and I was thinking, “They sure are standing mighty close up on each other.” That led me to continue driving on to a regular grocery story.

When I got to the parking lot of the market, I felt better. There were few cars in front, and inside the store, there weren’t very many customers, making it rather easy to maintain proper distance from others. It surely was a better experience than I’m sure I would have experienced at Sam’s Club, judging from the mass of people out front waiting to get in.

I’m home now, and I had hardly no contact with anybody else. People still are sitting around in groups socializing, in spite of the governor’s order. I know the police doesn’t have enough time to be going up and shutting down these violators. They’d be spending all of their time break up the groups. People won’t learn until they get sick or make somebody else sick.

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It’s Not Just About Me



I’m not typically a “Me, Me, Me” type of person. But sometimes I get caught up in my own world and feel a little selfish. It is always good when I can realize that and let go of what I have been holding onto.

During this COVID-19 quarantine period, I’m in and out of the office. Our senior management wants us to have no more than 20% of our staff working in the office at any given time. So, we are rotating in and out of the office in two or three-person sub-teams. When I am at home, I am working on managing the team’s Intranet site posting updates and information for the team as well as engaging in some light professional development, like webinars, reading work-related books, and reading online professional journals and newsletters. My grad school allows alumni to log into the online library and access all of the same content I could view as an active student.

Considering the perspectives of others is the greatest thing a man can do.” ~~Will Saunders~~

Given the stressful nature of these times, being home alone has been good for me. No, let me correct myself. It has been crucial for my mental health and emotional well-being. As a bona fide introvert, the solitude energizes me. When we first were sequestered, my stress level went way up, as my boss initiated daily check-ins with the team. His thinking is, it would help maintain the cohesiveness of the team. I suppose I can understand that. But, checking in every day seems a lot to me. Every third day or even every other day would be acceptable, but not every day. Periodically, he even has had video chats for the check-in. We had one a little while ago today. I talked him out of those video chats initially, but I couldn’t push it back for very long.  A couple of people on my team feel as I do. Those who know me well know that I do not complain much about trivial matters. Then during the last video chat, I had an epiphany while listening to a couple of people during their sharing, and my point of view changed.

I realized that although some people (people like me) are okay with the isolation and alone time, many other people are suffering. Some of my coworkers have high levels of anxiety, so they welcome the check-ins and video chats. It is obvious from the way in which they engaged in pleonasm, or the use of more words than is necessary to convey a point of view. A couple of them went on and on and on about a variety of topics, from the music they’ve been into lately to the Netflix shows and movies they have been watching, to how lazy they’ve been and how much they have been eating while laying around at home.

For a lot of people, coworkers are the only friends or “family” they have, and they look forward to the interaction with their colleagues. Consequently, this pandemic ordeal has opened my mind and changed my perspective on checking in every day. While I personally oppose it, others on the team crave that interaction. It’s not just about what I want. There’s no ‘I’ in team.

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Funny Travel Woes

Some things are kind of funny – funny strange and not funny haha. With the state of the country right now, plane fares and hotel rates are crazy sweet. I did a few random searches, and prices look so good they’re hard to turn away.

Now, here’s the funny part. All of the places where I might want to visit have restrictions on public gatherings. Some of them have banned visits from outsiders. Los Angeles, Seattle, Pasadena, Knoxville, and San Diego are but a few of them. Internationally, Costa Rica, Paris, and Cabo San Lucas are on my list too. All these places have implemented bans or complete restrictions. It’s not that I really will go given what’s going on world-wide right now. But I’m merely making an observation.

It seems rather moot to have all these lower rates and fares with all of these restrictions. On my plane back home from San Francisco, there were many empty seats. That alone loses the airline money. Then with the reduced fares, that adds to the loss of money. They think the lower fares might show an increase in ticket purchases. But that’s not happening.

I still have plans to visit New York twice, Philadelphia, and an overnight Baltimore visit over the next several months. Hopefully the situation will improve by then. Things will eventually revert to normalcy, but I don’t expect it will be any time soon.

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