We Should Have Known

We Should Have Known, by Will Saunders

I have often noticed a very disturbing pattern among politicians. Seldom do they do the right thing merely because it’s the right thing to do. It often ends up being a choice based on partisan loyalties. More about this in a minute. The catalyst that has gotten my ire up relates to the confirmation process of Betsy DeVos. Honestly, I hope nobody is really surprised she was confirmed as Secretary of Education. It seemed clear from the beginning that she was going to get that job. Teachers, administrators, and even students have spoken out against her, but their voices fell on deaf ears.

Despite her obviously lack of experience education policy and no knowledge in basic issues impacting teachers and students, she was still confirmed. Did you see her confirmation hearing? She was clueless about practically everything they asked her. I understand that no person is 100% an expert on a given topic, even someone who may have credentials and competencies in a given area. But they ought to have at a bare minimum a good working knowledge on the topic and articulable ideas to justify her selection. But noooo. That wasn’t the case. She didn’t have any discernible knowledge, but the senate confirmed her anyway.

We’ll see the same with the pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions; Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court; or Ben Carson as head of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). That latter one is another highly contentious, oddball choice. As a skillful neurosurgeon with an extensive medical background and many years working in the health industry, it would be a little more palatable if he were the pick for Health and Human Services secretary. Not that I think he’d be a good choice for that post either; but that would have made more logical sense than HUD.

So, back to the point of this post. What it seems to boil down to is partisan politics. Again! It usually does. From my vantage point, something is either right or it’s wrong. But in the real world, it’s either right or wrong depending on how liberal or conservative you might be. That’s why I wouldn’t make a good politician. Of course those 50 senators who voted to confirm DeVos (if not all, certainly most) know she was a poor choice. But they gave her the job anyway. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! If you want to know why, just do some research about how much money DeVos and her family gave to the republicans and to the republican PACs. It’s always going to be all about the Benjamins no matter how much we think it’s a purely democratic process.

On November 8, 2018, 34 of the 50 Senate seats will be up for grabs, as will all 435 House seats. It’s time for some new people to take over. After a while, I believe the system corrupts them. That’s why I am a strong advocate for term limits. Just like with the office of the president, two terms should be the limit for all political offices, because as a society we get comfortable with our political leaders and a lot of voters don’t feel inclined to vote them out. Approximately 69% of the Members of Congress have been in office for more than a decade, and many have been there for 20-30 years. My numbers are a rough estimate, so don’t come back and tell me my number is off. The point is, that’s too long. They need to go before they get too deep in the pockets of the lobbyists.

Let me say this: I pity the next administration. They will have a catastrophe to clean up. The United States of America is going to be run in the ground, I am sorry to say.

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Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part V

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part V

“You reap what you sow.” Galatians 6:7

I never dismiss the small things, because I believe those little things really aren’t so little – but are a part of something bigger. Today I stopped in Pret-A-Manger, also just known as Pret, to get a cup of coffee. I seldom eat there. I mainly stop in for a beverage from time to time. I actually can count on one hand the number of times I have been there.  Today was one of those times. The coffee is self-serve. I filled my cup, went up front to pay, and the lady behind the counter told me it was on the house.

I love freebies, even though it only saved me about $2.30. Free is always good. As I was leaving, another customer who witnessed what just happened looked at me, smiled, and said, “Favor! That’s what that was.” I initially didn’t think of it that way, but I smiled, nodded, and embraced that idea. It made me think of the very nice homeless woman I often see who sleeps on the sidewalk adjacent to the National Portrait Gallery, near the MLK Library. Monday, I took her a cup of hot cocoa and a muffin and called it a day, thinking no more about it.

Though I didn’t think more about it, God always remembers and sees all that we do. Doing a good deed, no matter how small, always comes back to you. Maybe that deed is what helped me gain favor. Perhaps it was something else. Who knows? We always reap what we sow. Sometimes, the things we reap come back right away, and other times it may take a while. Some of those blessings are huge, enormous additions to our lives; there are also times when the blessings are small things, and we may not immediately see the blessings for what they are. Either way, they are there and will come back to us in immeasurable ways.

Like I always say, “Never miss an opportunity to be somebody’s blessing.”  I never know when I’ll need my own blessing, so I seek ways to store them up. They tend to come back when I least expect them to.

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part IV

B a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part III

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part II

Be a Blessing to Be Blessed: Part I

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Donald Trump and His 10 Executive Orders


Donald Trump and His 10 Executive Orders, by Will Saunders

Donald Trump didn’t waste any time making changes, many of which are very popular. I don’t know whether people are unhappy because of their outcome or because he did it without making an assessment of the status quo and whether a change was warranted.

Either way, as of the writing of this article, he has issued 10 executive orders, and he’s only officially been in office five days. You may have missed some of them, so here is a summary of each:

  1. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act. That’s the most controversial – at least among my circle. It has even gotten the ire up among many of his supporters. Go figure.
  2. Regulation freeze of all pending regulations. in process (but not approved) until they are approved by him. There are several — including some that deal with energy efficiency standards — and they all are on hold until Mr. Trump or a designee has reviewed and approved them.
  3. Abortions as well as organizations that provide abortion services can no longer be funded using federal dollars.
  4. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) dissolution, which is a pact among the United States and eleven other countries that border the Pacific Ocean. The purpose aimed to strengthen diplomatic relations among these countries and deepen their economic ties. The executive order withdraws the United States from all future TPP negotiations.
  5. Federal hiring freeze is another which, prevents federal agencies from filling any vacant positions or open any new ones, with two exceptions: military personnel; and critical public safety positions such as those part of the intelligence community and federal law enforcement jobs.
  6. Speeding approval of Dakota Access Pipeline was included in an executive order, which calls for an expedited approval of permits for the the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
  7. Keystone Oil Pipelines was included in another executive order, which seeks a partnering with TransCanada and an invitation to resubmit its application for a pipeline permit.
  8. Faster approvals of environmental projects, which means faster deadlines and environmental approval for “high priority” infrastructure projects.
  9. American steel in pipelines. Trump directed in this executive order that all pipelines built or repaired in the United States, to every extent possible, be constructed with American-made materials. and,
  10. Establishes a 60-day Timeline for the review of manufacturing regulations This executive order requires a review of all manufacturing projects and development of an expedited processing of pending manufacturing applications.

Fascinating is all I can say. I’m sure there are many more headed this way. One of the most controversial is his promise to remove the United States from participation in the United Nations. Only time will tell about that. You can get more details about these orders and keep abreast of any future executive orders by visiting the Whitehouse website.  I shudder to think what he has next up his sleeve.



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Do You Know Rube Foster?

Picture courtesy of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Do You Know Rube Foster?

Born in Texas in 1879 as Andrew Foster, Rube as he was affectionately known, was one of the biggest baseball champions leading to the creation of the Negro National League, the first baseball league for African Americans.  But, name doesn’t often come up in discussions about baseball greats. He was an eighth grade dropout, but everyone around him thought he was brilliant.

My paternal grandfather was often speaking of Rube Foster and his many achievements. The one that sticks most profoundly in my mind is him being one of the greatest African American pitchers. Another thing I remember about him is him starting his own team, Chicago American Giants. I was never a big baseball fan. I quickly tire of the game, though I do have a couple of teams I follow: the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals, naturally.

Rube Foster died on this day in 1930.

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Mama Hamil’s is the Spot, by Will Saunders

The other day, some coworkers told me about a good old, southern, soul food restaurant in Madison, Mississippi.  Mama Hamil’s, they told me, is not much to look at and the ambience is not the greatest. But, the food is amazing. When I peeped the menu, I saw things that I have not eaten since I was a child. Cream corn, BBQ beans, fried okra, and butter beans are the main items that caught my attention.

It’s known for its meats, and those of you who know me well know I’m not a meat person. But from the menu, the fried okra and butter beans really stuck with me, as I have fond memories of eating them. If I ever make the trek to Madison, Mississippi, I must visit Mama Hamil’s.  In the mean time, I cooked up some butter beans, seasoned with cloves of garlic and rosemary and I fried up some okra too. Unfortunately, I had to use frozen okra. I can’t seem to find it fresh anyplace. Nonetheless, it was delicious – the butter beans too. It took me back to my childhood. What a great way to reminisce: eating foods that I hadn’t had since probably elementary school. I need to do this more often.  I made some red beans and rice too, inspired by my friend RJ who made some last week. YUMMY!

Butter Beans

Fried Okra


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Job Changes


Image courtesy of Adobe Stock Images

People struggle with this issue all the time. Some people work in a chosen job/field all their lives while others may change jobs once or twice or more during their lifetime.

I manage the process of reviewing and disseminating reports produced by my agency and shared with external stakeholders, and I generate metrics of those reports including impact and usefulness as determined by a review of feedback data provided by recipients of those reports.  That’s the 12 second elevator pitch of what I do. Phew! I finally perfected it. Basically, that’s my job. I have thought about doing something different at times. But what would that be? I’ve taken assessments through the years – some via a formal job coach or counselor and other via those silly little Facebook quizzes that pop into my timeline. One job that often shows up for me, and something I thoroughly enjoy doing, is writer. I take great pleasure with writing. I enjoy writing fiction, a favorite pastime. By the way, I even wrote a novel, A Shattered Heart, which you can get from any book vendor or download to your e-reader such as Nook or Kindle. If you want an autographed copy, let me know and I will send you a complimentary copy. I had to get in a plug. Some people still like the feel of an actual book over an e-book. I also enjoy non-fiction as well, such as the writing I do in this blog.

But the point of this post is, I sometimes think my calling is to be some kind of counselor or therapist, maybe. In the last several weeks, four people have pour their hearts out to me about problems they were facing. I starting writing this up while at work while having my lunch and oddly enough, someone came up to my desk to vent about some feelings of distress he was experiencing over a work project. A week ago, a woman stopped by my desk upset about a general home contractor and a problem she had with the remodeling of her kitchen. She was quite distressed, going on and on about the ordeal that stressed her out quite a bit. People are often stopping by for one thing or another. I even have had random strangers talk to me. The last person was a woman on the Metro in DC talk to me about the passing of her dad. I talked with and prayed for her.  Then there was a woman in the supermarket who was missing her husband and was feeling sad and down about that. It could be I have a kind face. Maybe the spirits are trying to tell me something.

I also get many people who take to me about health, fitness, and nutrition matters as well as tips on how to cook things in a more healthy manner. I love writing and talking about that. I even blog about it. Search the archives if you’re interested in that topic. There are plenty of things I have written about it.

The most frequent counseling requests I get are regarding the job application process, how to interview, and how to make themselves a more viable candidate for a new job. Many of them are not even from people I supervise; I wonder why they don’t go and ask their own supervisors for that.  I asked one woman that question (not to be rude but I didn’t want her boss to get mad at me for doing something that she should have been doing. The woman said her boss wasn’t helpful about things like that and that I was much more empathic. I don’t know if she was trying to just make me feel better or if she was being genuine. But she wasn’t the first person to tell me that. I tend to do that well: be empathic.

To be a writer or a counselor? If I had to choose, I’d prefer to be a writer. I do not think I have the intestinal fortitude to help vet people’s problems all day, particularly those in distress. I think it is a mentally arduous, draining profession. As an aside, I read a report funded and published by the National Institutes of Health indicating the high incidence of suicidality among mental health practitioners. (1)  Persons working in this field need to pay extra attentive to their mental health. That is particularly true for me. I tend to get so encapsulated into the problems of others that I am just the type of person to neglect my own emotional needs.

I just had a thought: I could write about any and all of the above. Self-help books are a big hit. I could do that, or I could do more fiction. Of course, I’m just babbling. I probably won’t make any changes unless I quit my job and invest in a franchise.

There are two franchises that interest me. One is Hunting Learning Centers. That is tops on my list. It’s an academic enrichment program to assist grade school students with mathematics, English language and grammar development, phonemic awareness, and language arts. A companion program of interest to me is Blocks 4 Kidz, which focuses on academic development for kids with STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). I like these because I know many kids need help in these areas to supplement what they learn in their classes. I have a good foundational understanding of some of the principles of education and learning to managing such centers, and if I hire some good teachers and administrators, I can certainly expect success.

One of the things that prompted me to consider these things is the idea of long distance dating. If I should happen to meet someone who lives in another city and we hit it off, I would be very open to quit my job, sell my condo, withdraw from my retirement, invest in one/both of these program move to the city where me new suitor lives. So, even if things end up not working out, all won’t be lost. I’ll be making a new niche for myself professionally in the new spot.

But for now, it’s just thinking and talking. It’s good to have options so when if I do need to quickly make a change, I’ll have my ammunition.

(1) Psychologist suicide: Incidence, impact, and suggestions for prevention, intervention, and postvention   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3124780/




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Costa Rica Here I Come!

View of Sugar Beach, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Here I Come

Well, not just yet. I still have a couple more months before I go, but I’m getting antsy and giddy. Strange combination, huh? This is my first international trip in almost 15 years. I should count Toronto, though. I was there in August, 2014, and it was a very nice trip, very memorable; I didn’t have to navigate US Customs and I didn’t need passport book; the card was sufficient. I even remained in the car.

Anyway, about Costa Rica, I did a little research. I highlighted a few hot spots I definitely would like to catch when I go.

San Jose Rain Forest

From the many travel sites I’ve read and the people I know personally who have gone, seeing the rain forest is a must. I’ve seen many a rain forests in the past. But evidently the one in San Jose is purportedly one of the best, most awe-inspiring in the world.

Beach Fun

I’m not a huge beach bum, but I do like laying on my towel and reading a good book, something I don’t get to do nearly as often as I would like to do when I am home. I’ll also be listening to my iPod, but I will be mostly looking at the beautiful sights (the scenic beauty as well as the human sights). Two things on my list are jet skiing and parasailing. My hotel overlooks the beach and has vendors that offer both parasailing and jetskiing.


I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t squeeze in some museum time. There are dozens of them all over, from big to small and the middle-sized too. A colleague suggested I check out Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. This one has lots of information on the history, structure, and overall development of Costa Rica, things I know nothing about. When it comes to geography, that’s an area of mine that is the weakest. So, this museum will be a good foundation for me. I also want to see The Museum of Forms, Spaces and Sounds, their equivalent of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.

These are just a few of the many things I’ll do, plus a few of my ‘secret’ little rendezvous venues. If you have suggestions, let me know. Post them here or hit me up privately. I didn’t mention it but I plan to get plenty of rest, in between trying the many regional foods and beverages. I hope I can make some friends while there, happenstance of course. That’s the best way, IMHO.

Additionally, I have my Global Entry Card, a must-have for international travel, which affords you benefits comparable to TSA Precheck (the Global Entry also includes TSA Precheck). From most people’s perspective, these programs help you get through the lines more quickly. For me, I’m looking forward to an easier time clearing customs. I have been a little nervous about that, since I haven’t done any real international travel since they’ve added the heightened security measures.

But I’m sure I will be fine. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ll try to get pictures of key activities along the way. If I do, I’ll be sure to post them on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Stay tuned.


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Hello Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

Hello Hazel Scott

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Hazel Scott in 1980. Ms. Scott was a Trinidadian-born entertainer popularized for her acumen in jazz and classical music. She also was a popular actress. Born in 1920 on June 11, she was the first African American to host a television show,  The Hazel Scott Show, which aired July 3, 1950. It wasn’t Oprah or Della Reese like many believe. There is a lot of great info about her. Do a search and learn some of it. Rest in paradise, Ms. Scott.


Image of Ms. Scott, taken from the opening scene of her TV show.

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Don’t Ask Me

Colin Kapernick (Image courtesy of NFL.Com)

Don’t Ask Me

I have had a few people lately ask my opinion about “Kapernick’s refusal to respect the National Anthem?” Well, you can always tell a person’s motive by the way they phrase their question.  When they ask it that way, it is obvious to me they are looking to start a fight. Sorry people, but this issue ranks way down the list of what I find important.

The last person who asked me didn’t like my answer and the person didn’t have anything to say in response. I rattled off some of the many things wrong in America: 1) literacy levels in America are poor, and teachers are expected to work miracles – and many of them do work miracles reaching some of the most difficult-to-reach students – but they are poorly compensated and often are held back by tons of administrative hurdles that impact the performance of their jobs; 2) the social service system in nearly every jurisdiction around the country is broken and is understaffed, underfunded, and overflowing with children and adult clients; 3) the problem with public corruption is disheartening….with many elected officials failing to exercise good and honest jurisprudent job dutie, seeking personal gain at taxpayer expense; 4) many big and small cities have a bustling homeless men and women, some of whom are veterans – a double whammy…it’s bad enough that someone suffers the impact of being homeless, but we shouldn’t expect to see it happen to veterans; 5) I won’t even say much about the widespread instances of overzealous police officers and their excessive, oftentimes deadly, use  of force; and 6) the problem with unsafe water, which isn’t just plaguing Flint, Michigan. Over the last four years, toxic water was found in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; St. Joseph, Louisiana; Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego and Fresno, California; and 13 other cities around the nation.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. With all that’s wrong with our communities, it’s unwise and impractical expending your energy worrying about someone who doesn’t kneel during a song. It isn’t as if Kapernick is being disruptive and causing a ruckus while everyone else is singing it. He quietly kneels. It reminds me of these kids who were members of a particular religion when I was in middle school who didn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance or the daily prayer. They would sit quietly. It wasn’t a big deal. While their unwillingness to do so was on religious grounds, the principles remain the same.

It’s not a big deal. Even if all of those other things wrong in the world were perfect, you still have no argument to criticize Kapernick’s or the others supporting him who also have refrained from participating in the National Anthem. Because this is the United States of America, and if you believe in the virtues the song represents, let people be who they choose to be. Live and let live, and don’t ask my opinion about it. If you do, you probably won’t like my reply.

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Just Go!

let go

When scrolling up and down my Facebook feed, I often come across a post attacking someone who has hurt them. In some instances, it’s directed toward someone they’re not connected to online. In other instances, it’s directed specifically to one of their connected online friends. It’s usually just a random Facebook ‘friend’ who they don’t even know personally.

These folks use social media as an outlet to let off steam. I can understand the importance of finding ways to vent and cope with pain and heartache. We all are emotional beings and it’s so very easy to allow ourselves to become affected by the actions of others, and lord knows I have some people I need to permanently release and let go and yet I just deal with the agony they dish out; but I know them personally. I try not to let strangers affect me that way. It’s painful enough when a close friend or relative hurts you.

Has it happened to you? If so, work on trying to release them from your heart. Like mom used to say, don’t let them have free rent in your head. Holding on to that pain and anger isn’t healthy. If someone has hurt you that much, the more you keep it stirred up, the more hurt you’re going to feel. If you don’t know them well enough to pick up the phone and give them a call to talk about it, then they certainly are not worth holding on to all that angst. Move on. If they are just some random connection on your list, they don’t care that you’re in pain, and letting them go would benefit you greatly.

Let them go and move on. You will be much happier when you do. Whenever I tell people this, someone always says it’s easier said than done. But why? If someone pains you that much, why isn’t it easy to let them go? That’s obviously rhetorical, evidenced by the number of people in unhappy marriages or who remain in a job that makes them miserable. But learn to rid yourself of those folks.

Let them go and move on.

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