Donald Trump and His 10 Executive Orders

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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

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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.

Museums

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.

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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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Election Pains

vote-two

Election Pains

Tomorrow night at 9:00 pm (ET) is the first presidential debate, moderated by Lester Holt. I seldom discuss such things because many people hold so firmly onto their beliefs that they can’t have a healthy dialogue with you. Many try harder to change your opinion than they do listening to or hearing what your opinion is.

These ads I have been watching are over the top and are sickening, as they always are. If your best presentation is to attack the opponent rather than tell me your own worth, then it’s a very sad state. That’s exactly what these ads are mostly doing: launching attacks at one another. If I happen to have missed any past or if I should miss a future debate, I can’t tell much about candidates’ position on things from seeing these TV ads or hearing the ones on the radio. All they do is tell me why I shouldn’t vote for the other person. Just to confirm the candidates themselves sponsored the ads and were not published by a public interest group or lobbyist, there is always the final statement (or sometimes it is presented at the beginning of the ad), “I’m ABC Candidate, and I approved this message.”  I always say to myself, I wouldn’t brag about that. One ad had me screaming at the television. One candidate said in the ad, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”  I thought, “If you do, then why don’t you tell the generals where the ISIS leadership is located so they can eradicate them.”

Anyhow, I view the ads as a pissing contest; that is exactly what the debates end up becoming too, for they seldom have a good, firm moderator to control the stage  and be a solid parliamentarian like they’re supposed to be. My blog post titled, It’s Just Another Pissing Match, highlighted this point of mine. As I said earlier, tonight’s debate is moderated by Lester Holt. I believe him to be a good choice.  Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, and Chris Wallace are the picks to moderate later ones.

vote-oneI think it is for this reason – and many more reasons too – that people have become fed up with politics. If “Candidate A” attacks “Candidate B,” does it make “Candidate B” look stronger if he doesn’t attack back, but rather, talks positively about his own campaign and what he would bring to the office if elected? Or does “Candidate B” seem weak if he doesn’t act as vile as his opponent? I think that both candidates always think they have to as vile as the other. That’s the way it’s been for years. Though I’m speaking specifically about the current, pending presidential election, I’ve seen the same thing happen for other elections too at all levels of federal, state, and local elections.

I guess I’m too much of an idealist. I’d like to see someone be the bigger person and not stoop to all the name calling and attacking. All may be fair in love and war. But when it comes to politics, let’s have some decorum.The office of the President of the United States of America is one of the world’s most powerful positions, and any person competing for that job ought to be a little better than the adversary.

Yeah, I’m just dreaming, because when I wake up, I know I’ll never see what I’m envisioning. Frankly, I think elections should be a lot like jury duty. Every citizen should have an equal chance to be president. When your number comes up, it’s your time to serve. You’d do it once for two years and you’d never have to serve again. I wonder how different this country would be if presidential elections were managed that way? Our government and electoral process is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. But they should change that to of the rich people, by the rich people, and for the rich people, because the common man (or woman) doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of coming close to getting elected. Not ever!

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Vegan Freak

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Vegan Freak

I recently finished reading a fascinating book titled, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a non-Vegan World, by Bob Torres. It’s a book, obviously, about the vegan way of life. It’s a great resource for long and short time vegans, for those contemplating making the shift, and those who look at vegans and become repulsed by them, wondering why anybody would ever seriously consider it. I starting making the transition in 2004, and while I’m not a 100% vegan and don’t really want to be, I try to eat more that way than not eating that way. I thought I knew everything about it, but I learned a few new things.

The thing I liked most about this book is the way the authors help vegans be more at ease amidst the criticisms they (we) face, and the books break down what the “freakdom” or rather, the odd way carnivores try to make vegans and vegetarians feel. I kept thinking it must be a lot like the way a Rhodes Scholar would feel if she attended the Redneck convention in Beckley, West Virginia. It also did a nice job of addressing how a heavy carnivorous eater can begin to make the transition.

One of my criticisms is that the book didn’t focus on the various reasons why people become vegan. Most carnivores presume it’s to protect and preserve the lives of the poor little animals. But there are three primary reasons people pursue a plant-based diet. But before I address that, people don’t realize that a vegan is also a vegetarian. Vegetarians fall into different categories:

-You have your Lacto-Ovos – who don’t eat meat but consume dairy products and eggs;

-Then you have Lactos – who eat dairy but do not eat eggs

-Then there’s the Ovos – who eat eggs but do not eat any dairy

-Lastly, are the Vegans – who do not consume any animal products at all. Some staunch vegans try to avoid all products that are derived from animals and won’t wear leather, wool, satin, or other fabrics that are animal-based.

There are three reasons people pursue some form of vegetarianism. Some people do so for one of these reasons while others do so for all three. The reasons are:

A. Environmental: large gallons of water are needed to raise livestock. This is especially important given laborious process our governments go through to ensure we have fresh water to drink. The more animals we don’t eat, the more water we’ll have for human consumption;

B. Ethical:  some people have empathy for the pain and suffering animals go through just so people can have food to eat. So, they avoid eating animals to show support. Some people even make their pets following a vegetarian diet; and

C. Health (this is the one that applies to me): vegetarians and vegans tend to maintain a healthier diet than non vegans/vegetarians. Yeah, I know. You can be 100% vegan and still be obese and have a lot of food-related health problems. But that isn’t the norm. The biggest contributor to cholesterol and clogged arteries is the consumption of animal products — eating and drinking them. I have a coworker who craves, longs for pepperoni pizza and chicken wings. If that’s all he ever ate, he’d get no fiber, because animal products do not contain any. Additionally, those who follow a plant-based diet tend to have a healthier weight and a blood pressure and glucose level that is in the normal range.

That’s pretty much it. The book, Vegan Freak was an easy read, and you may be able to find it at your library or perhaps a second hand book store. Another one of the things I really liked about ths book is, it doesn’t attack people for not being a vegan. It just presents the facts in an easy-going way with tips to help make things easier. Lastly, I want to share this little clip from a documentary, Cowspiracy and how the agriculture industry has such a strong hold on the American economy. Despite what you hear about broke farmers, it’s a billion dollar industry and the farming lobbyists spend lots of money to ensure their voice gets heard. So, check out this short clip from Cowspiracy about drinking milk. It’s amusing but sure does make you think.

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