When Do You Have Enough?

According to Forbes most recent list of billionaires, which came out in March of 2019, the richest person in the entire world is my Pacific Northwest neighbor, Jeff Bezos. Yeah, that guy. The CEO of Amazon.

At the time, his net worth was $131 billion dollars. Granted, he’s in the midst of a divorce, and I’m sure that won’t be pretty, but even so, with that kind of money he could retire today and live quite comfortably for at least 100 lifetimes.

And yet, that guy just threw 1.5 million dollars at the elections for Seattle City Council, in the hopes of flipping the progressive majority. Why? Because the city and its council thinks that maybe Amazon should pony up its fair share of taxes for once.

Well, Bezos’ scheme backfired. Only 2 of the 7 candidates he supported actually won, and one of those was an incumbent. The people have spoken.

But a million dollars for Bezos is like a penny to you or me. He isn’t going to give up or go away. Because, apparently, one can never have too much money.

I find this supremely pathetic. That man could most likely solve the homeless crisis in Seattle with the interest he earns on his personal savings account in one month. But has he done that? No. He’s too busy trying to avoid taxes that he can well afford. He drives past people in tents every single solitary day, and he’d much rather focus on the amount of taxes he can avoid. Let them eat cake.

How much money does it take before you can feel free of petty BS and actually turn your attention to paying it forward? What does it take for someone to feel compassion for the very people who have generated all that money for you? Apparently, it’s more than $131 billion dollars.

There’s something wrong with a system that supports such greed and corruption. Henny Penny, the sky is falling. And rest assured it’s not going to land on Bezos.

Jeff Bezos

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Your Own Little Inner Fascist

Here lately I’ve been binge watching a series called The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It’s 4 seasons long, and it’s about what America would be like if the Axis powers had won World War II. In essence, Japan has the Western states, the Nazis have the Eastern ones, and the Rocky Mountains are the neutral zone.

This show makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. I’ve written about fascism before. I fear we are flirting with it now, as we don’t seem to learn from history. In fact, we seem to be irrationally idealizing a past that never existed.

As uncomfortable as The Man in the High Castle makes me, the writing is phenomenal. It causes me to look at things with fresh eyes. One character said, “You’ve got your own little inner fascist telling you what you can and cannot do.”

That really resonates with me. According to Wikipedia, “Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.”

If that doesn’t describe my inner voice, nothing does. My inner voice is all about explaining to me how I can’t or shouldn’t do things. It’s all about walls and roadblocks and keeping me from doing anything outside the box. My inner voice wants me to be a good little soldier and follow orders.

“You’ll fail.” “You’ll be laughed at.” “People will think you’re crazy.”

Fortunately, I often chafe at this type of control, and can therefore resist it. But every once in a while, when I’m feeling tired or insecure, that little voice has caused me to avoid taking chances, or has prevented me from speaking up. And now that I consider it a fascist voice, I abhor it even more.

I think it’s high time that we all overthrow the little dictators in our heads. Cast off the oppression. End the torture. Free our minds so that we can be our best selves. We can do it.

And incidentally, if you are someone who uses the terms fascism and communism interchangeably, here’s a little primer by way of clarification.

fascism

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Great Minds Don’t Think Alike

I was Skyping with a friend the other day, and by way of saying goodbye, I said, “Well, I’m off to go take a nap.”

“So am I!” he replied.

“Great minds think alike,” I said, almost instinctively.

But I’ve always hated that phrase. I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. If great minds thought alike, this would be a very generic, lackluster world. I wouldn’t want to live in it.

If great minds thought alike, there would be no innovation. There would be no experimentation. There would be no reason to broaden one’s horizons.

If anything, great minds think differently. They challenge the norms. They improve upon our world. By thinking outside the box, they break us free of our cages.

As if to prove my point, my friend offered up this retort: “Fools seldom differ.”

And then we went our separate ways, both to take naps in different parts of the world.

two_minds

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McWhat?

The airline industry is pretty big here in the Pacific Northwest. I pass by one of Boeing’s fields quite frequently. (It looks like a graveyard for 737 MAX’s at the moment, since they’re grounded.)

So it didn’t surprise me to discover that a portion of the local Highline Heritage Museum is dedicated to the aircraft industry. It’s part of the reason that this region has been able to thrive. Folks around here are quite proud of that.

But there was a little something nestled within this display that I suspect its curators didn’t look at very closely. Hiding amongst some pins that were supposedly given out as gifts by airlines was something quite unexpected. It was a McDonald’s pin, with its distinctive golden arches.

Innocuous enough, one would think. But rather than saying McDonald’s it said… wait. That can’t be right. Was I really seeing what I thought I was seeing? Doesn’t it say “McShit”?

McShit

What do you think? I had to ask my husband to confirm, as my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Yup. It says McShit.

Needless to say, this raised a lot of questions. Why would anyone mass produce such a pin? Would an airline give this out to people? Surely not.

So I Googled it. So you won’t have to. You’re welcome.

The Urban Dictionary claims that about 30 minutes after eating at this fine establishment, you get McCramps, which then evolve into McFarts, and then… well, you get the picture. It also talks about the phrase “McShit with Lies” which is, apparently, when you ask a cashier for the bathroom code, assuring him that you’ll be back to purchase something afterward, but, in fact, you leave without doing so. (I’m guilty of that. Sometimes you do what you have to do to stay healthy.)

In my search I also came across several McShit t-shirts, so apparently it is a thing. But one suspects the pins were not given out by the airlines. Corporations tend to stick together.

Am I going to point out this little historical error in their exhibit to the museum? Nah. It makes me happy to think about that pin being on display, and only being noticed by an observant few.

For once, I’m in with the in crowd.

___________________

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Photoshopping Yourself

I’m proud to say that I have never worn a girdle in my life. If I had grown up in a certain era, I wouldn’t have worn a corset or a bullet bra either. To me, these things are just about as bad as foot binding.

Oh, but they don’t call them girdles anymore, do they? That would be so unacceptable. Now it’s shapewear. Or booty lifters. Or body suits. Or sculpting waist cinchers, tummy controllers, thigh slimmers, waist trainers, control tops, body briefers, high-waisted shaper shorts.

Do you really need high-waisted shaper shorts? Why is this important in life? Isn’t it already easy enough to feel freakish in this world without shoving yourself into a glorified sausage casing?

The Macy’s website crows, “This genre of miracle garments has become the Photoshop for your real life, three-dimensional body.”

JC Penney’s says, “Shapewear for Women Will Keep Everyone Guessing. Every occasion calls for a totally unique outfit, so it’s important to stock up on all the essentials you’ll need for anything life might throw your way.”

SPANX says, “SPANX shapewear is your secret weapon to help you conquer whatever is on your agenda – day or night.”

I can’t begin to tell you how appalling this is to hear when you are someone who refuses to even wear an underwire bra.

Ladies, the message these things are sending to you is that you aren’t good enough as is. You have to force yourself into an unnatural shape to be acceptable. They’re trying to tell you that you need help.

These companies are definitely not trying to make you feel better about yourself. If they were, you’d only buy one of their garments, and no more. That would be bad for business. They benefit and profit from you feeling inadequate. But they can’t have your money unless you give it to them.

These messages that they perpetuate are toxic and unfair and untrue. It’s a rare man who feels the need to lift his booty. If you can’t get through life without Photoshopping your body, there’s something seriously warped about the circles in which you travel.

Ask yourself this: Why do women have to shrink themselves to fit into a man’s world? Are we really that intimidating? Do we really need to be so tightly controlled?

Throw out your SPANX and let your body freakin’ breathe. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the next generation of girls. I promise that the world won’t come to an end.

Perma-lift

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Megalonyx

One of the very first things you see when you enter the Highline Heritage Museum is a replica of a Megalonyx skeleton that was found when they were constructing a runway at the Sea-Tac Airport south of Seattle, Washington.

At nearly 10 feet, it towers above you. One of its claws is as big as your hand. It looks quite fearsome, but in fact it’s a giant ground sloth, and it ate only plants.

When Thomas Jefferson was presented with a few of the claws from one of these creatures, he assumed it was a large lion and named it Megalonyx, which is Greek for “Large Claw”. He also assumed that these animals were still living somewhere in the wilds of unexplored America, and asked Lewis and Clark to keep their eyes out for them during their travels (as if they didn’t have enough to stress out about).

Thank goodness Megalonyx actually lived 13,000 years ago, because if I saw something like this wandering about in my back yard, I’d freak out. My little dachshund would probably attack its ankles, and the thing would look at him quizzically and slowly, very slowly, flick him aside like a gnat.

Check out this little video about how sloths evolved from being these giants to the cute little guys we see today. It makes me wonder what the world will be like 13,000 years from now.

Megalonyx
Megalonyx replica at the Highline Heritage Museum

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The Dark of December

We are approaching Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It falls on December 21st, and when it finally arrives, I always feel like I’m coming up for air for the first time in months. It’s as if I’ve been walking through J.R.R. Tolkein’s Mirkwood in The Hobbit, and just as I am about to give up hope, I see light in the distance. I’m halfway there. I can do this.

If I can survive the fact that, here in the Pacific Northwest, the sun that day won’t come up until 7:54 am and will be back down at 4:20 pm, I can survive anything. I view that as a triumph.

And after that day, I have slightly longer days to look forward to. More room to breathe. Less time in front of my SAD light. Less time to feel sad. More hope.

I definitely feel an emotional difference with the seasons. It’s hard to take, being plunged into ever-increasing gloom, and having no real control over it. We are all enslaved by the sun, and its indifference and neglect in winter is a bit of a challenge. It’s hard not to take it personally.

But Spring is coming. Glorious, glorious spring! Enduring the dark winter makes me appreciate the rest of the year all the more.

I’ll leave you with this poem. It’s a life raft in the dark. All we have to do is hold on. Light will soon return.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
– Oliver Hereford

On a Dark Trail

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