What are you doing?

This past weekend we saw thousands of protestors and volunteers, commit their time and energy in fighting the injustice that is Trump’s executive order on immigration. Maybe you participated. Maybe not. In any case. Now is a time of action.

As you may remember, the first goal from my recent plan to live in a post-truth world is:

1. Understand and articulate the things about which I care most so that I know where to focus my energy.

Before this self-awareness, I would churn from issue to issue, outrage to outrage until I either tired or spun out into an online tirade against some internet troll, who was immune to truth and logic anyway. I needed better tactics.

You may also remember that the issues I identified—those things I care about most—turned out to be pretty basic:

  • Ensuring Equal Human Rights for All
  • Protecting the Environment
  • Reforming Campaign Finance and Improving Elections

Even so, there is still a long way from those broad statements, to concrete actions I could take daily/weekly. That’s where I turned to the internet for help. They have action plans covered. Here are the ways I am going to turn my (over)informed outrage passion into progress and deeds. I encourage you to do the same.


For those who really just want directed actions, there are a few options to get email “to-do” lists each week. Be forewarned, you’re going to have to call people to be most effective. I was surprised to learn that conservative activists out-call progressives 4:1. This needs to change. Choose one, or sign up for them all. Action is what is called for today.

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Let the record show.

John Pavlovitz has been on fire recently—or I should say I just became aware of him and his writing during the campaigns—and it’s great.  He’s a pastor, in North Carolina, so he adds diversity to the group I tend to tune into, but he often writes from a place I recognize in myself.

On this, the day when we will swear in a wholly unqualified person to the most powerful position in the world, John has declared his strong opposition to Trump. You’ll sympathize with many of the emotions he has and statements he makes.  The idea that we want—maybe even need—to tell the world that we are NOT OK with Trump or those who supported him has. a strong pull for me. That is the thinking behind the marches and protests so many of us will participate in this weekend.

And while I know I just introduced my plan to deal with life under Trump. I like this idea well enough that I am reiterating Pavlovitz’s proclamations here for my current and future self:

  • I do not believe this man is normal.
  • I do not believe he is emotionally stable.
  • I do not believe he cares about the full, beautiful diversity of America.
  • I do not believe he respects women.
  • I do not believe he is pro-life other than his own.
  • I do not believe the sick and the poor and the hurting matter to him in the slightest.
  • I do not believe he is a man of faith or integrity or nobility.
  • I do not believe his concern is for anything outside his reflection in the mirror.
  • I believe he is a danger to our children.
  • I believe he is a threat to our safety.
  • I believe he is careless with our people.
  • I believe he is reckless with his power.
  • I believe America will be less secure, less diverse, less compassionate, and less decent under his leadership.

And if I prove to be wrong, it will be one of the most joyful errors of my life. I will own these words and if necessary, willingly and gladly admit my misjudgment because it will mean that America is a better and stronger nation, and the world a more peaceful place.

And like John, I’d love to be wrong. Even with all that we have seen thus far, I still hope that Trump decides to serve all the people of his nation rather than just the one he has served his entire life.

At least now I have a plan

First, I have to address my conservative friends who may not understand why I have not called them, blocked them on Facebook, or otherwise ignored their sympathetic and (sometimes) sincere advances to tell me it’s going to be ok. I have not been willing to listen. I cannot stand their smugness. They think this election was about politics—that I am angry about policy differences. Ha! I would pay thousands of dollars to have had Romney or even G.W. Bush elected instead. I could write a short novel on how they are wrong. The people who voted for Donald Trump may not be racist, misogynistic, or hateful, but they were ok voting for someone who is. They are enablers, and the true, tragic cost of this election is not in having a different party in the White House but in the different way I see my fellow Americans. I had such faith in us before this election, and that faith has now been thoroughly dashed.

And so, I am conflicted. I vacillate between listing all the people and groups that should eat a dick and then turn to the understanding that we need to do better for a broader swath of people in this country. There is blame enough to share. It isn’t as simple as pitting rural vs city, but that notion can serve in effigy for my purposes.

But for all the moments of anguish and hours of depression—for every Facebook argument sure to be won with the right fact—there were just as many times when I just wanted to feel better and to not to feel what approached hate. It ate at me.

However powerless I felt about Trump, the incoming Congress, the Supreme Court nominees to be, or the countless other calamities that have or soon will befall the United States, I know I need to make things better for myself.

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A return to long form posts

While I won’t go so far as to say I will be blogging again like the old days, I can say I will be writing again. And I plan on using this old site to do it. There will only be a few posts per month, I would wager, but they will be good posts. That is my promise to you, good (non-existent) reader.

I am also going through the 1400 or so past posts to this site and revisiting the ones that are more timeless, say something about me, or I find amusing. Some of these have already been made public again (see below), while others will be re-published over time, as I can find it. I may call these posts out here when I do so, and I may not. In any event, Thanks for visiting, again. It has been too long.

A storyteller’s story

I want to tell you a story – a story about my dad. It was from him that I first learned about stories, while sitting on my his lap (well I was still too young to even sit up, actually). It isn’t hard to smile when I think of the tales he has told me over the years. I have heard many of them again and again. Recently I had come to ask him if I should just “play the tape”. Usually he just kept going despite me giving him a hard time. My dad has shaped who I am more than I even know yet. I often find myself thinking, I am sure, many of the same thoughts he had as a younger man. We share a lot of traits, my dad and me. We are both ambitious and amicable, contemplative and caring, idealistic and at times impractical, sensitive and stubborn.

My dad’s stories taught me about him but also about life. It was through his stories that I learned about music, art, history, and literature. His stories introduced me to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and to how classical music has stories of its own. He brought me to museums and inspired my early artistic endeavors such as drawing and photography. My political education started with my dad’s stories of Roosevelt, Kennedy and others and of the war stories he would tell.

Later in life, we comforted each other with stories of woe as we looked to the politics of the day and the state of Minnesotan pro sports teams. Ever the storyteller, my dad began sharing his stories with the world through his blog. All of those stories were true, give or take a lie or two.

My dad, never the picture of health, overcame a bout with nearly debilitating rheumatic fever as a child to go on to join the Air Force and travel the world. He made a home away from home in Turkey while in the service and I couldn’t get enough of the tales of adventure there. When he returned home he moved to a business fast track and may have still been there today had heart troubles not derailed him into a more slow-paced way of life. However much my father inspired me to professional success with his career accomplishments, it was with his embrace of a simpler life that he taught me the most valuable lessons. He understood what is important in life and has shown me ways to be more appreciative of my family and friends. It is a lesson, I am sure, that he will continue to provide me even now.

I know we are all currently grieving, but we have to remember that this grief is ours. It is for what we have lost, and what we remember, and what we will not experience again. I will miss his stories – just sitting and talking with him about any of hundreds of topics he could go on about. I will grieve the loss of those stories. But it is my grief. It is not my dad’s. My dad lived a great life, with few regrets. He shared his love with many and touched countless lives. His advice to us, with how to deal with our grief, was simple – in a letter written just 7 or so hours before his death, my dad made it clear:

Just, just, just get over it!

Now that’s what I’ll have to try to do.

My life story

I have been reading posts that my father has been making on his his newly minted blog. They are great, they give me insights into what my dad’s life has been like and I can see him how he sees himself via the oft-recounted stories now told in the new medium of the web. Several of his posts thus far have been about his exploits with the ladies. From the Turkish belly dancer, Zeckiya, to the time when he “met three birds and we enjoyed each other immensely” reminding his readers on several occasions that it was the 60’s and a different time.

My dad has varied and colorful experiences, most of which I will not share. I met Jena in high school and have more or less been with her for the past 18 years as of yesterday, 11 of which as husband and wife. An earlier version of myself would have felt a bit sad about the contrast of my dad’s crazy life and my own relatively normal one. And I guess this current version of myself does feel a bit sad, but not for me.

I will be able to write my reflective weblog posts with Jena as my editor, correcting my spelling errors (believe me she will be busy). I will get to write those posts knowing that I have found and shared all that I have experienced with the person who has known me best, who has grown up with me, and who continues to make me so very happy – through a span of time exceeding that of all of my father’s marriages. So I guess I do still feel a bit sad. My dad won’t ever be able to spend time with the person who has known all versions of himself. Then again, maybe that is why he is telling her of himself via the web.

Photos of young Ben and Jena

Mario Cake Makers on the Food Network

mario turtle shellSome may remember the photos I took at my friends Brent & Annette’s wedding cake. They are among my most popular photos with this one having 82 views yesterday, 528 views this week, and 156,585 views in total. 564 people call it a favorite! The cake has appeared in several magazines and online stories and now the makers of the cake, Gateaux, Inc. will be appearing on the Food Network Challenge this Sunday at 7pm. They are competing with 4 other cake makers to make the best Dr. Seuss themed cake. Nerds, set your TiVos!