What Do You Say?

I was having a discussion with a coworker the other day and we got to talking politics. We were specifically discussing some of the underlying dynamics that often lead people to believe into crazy conspiracy theories. Mostly, we talked about how people often reason based on emotion not logic.

I used an example of my little brother. Not because my brother is a crazy extremist, just the opposite. The story perfectly illustrates how even well-meaning people end up on the wrong side of things at times. So the real question is how, in an age of sensationalized media, truly fake news, and bias, do we encourage every day folks to move beyond their base feelings and examine a solution with logic? How do we get people to realize what they “know” is often based on very limited exposure to the world at large?1

Let me get to my example. My little brother grew up not really “seeing” racism. To him, it is something he knows exists but in more pronounced examples. For lack of a better description, he sees it as a very black and white issue. I tried to explain white privilege to him and found it a frustrating struggle. As a white man he has never had to experience the frustrations a person of color endures daily. Because he grew up poor and busted his tail working hard to get to a point where he feels stable, he doesn’t understand how a black person doing the same thing faces many more obstacles. I explained many of the very real world examples to him and while he sort of ‘got it’, because he lives in a rural environment where these ideas are usually avoided, it doesn’t become ‘truth’ to him.

It is hard for people who spend everyday just worried about trying to put food on their table to rise above the squabble and focus on bigger issues like politics. And when they live in an environment where biases are constantly reinforced, it’s easy to see why so many fall prey to the machinations of political hacks who want them to stay poor and ignorant. People who are poorly educated as a whole are easily manipulated by their emotions. Quite simply, their emotions are used against them.

And this is one variable of many leading society towards a calamity. So how do we overcome that? What do you say to someone to get them to truly open their mind and listen? If we could figure that out I think the world would be a better place.




  1. How many “experts” do you encounter on Facebook or twitter these days  LOL []

Supremes

I wish I was referring to the TV show. Sadly, I am not. I try not to delve into politics too much in my blog as that was never the purpose. However, things evolve and change and the issues today cut to my very survival.

With Justice Kennedy stepping down from the SCOTUS at the end of July, I truly worry for our freedoms. It’s been a sh*t show since he got in there but we had some insulation with the SCOTUS being pretty evenly divided. I knew there would be drama but I kept telling myself, ‘we’ll get thru it intact‘.  I am not so sure anymore. All Trump has to do is successfully appoint a rabidly anti-gay judge and all our hard-earned victories in the last few years are in jeopardy. The right to equality, the right to marry, and the right to exist are all up for grabs folks.

It is time to speak up. Complacency is a vote for those who want us dead. Everyone needs to reach out to their State representatives and demand they support a pro-LGBTI candidate. Elections are coming soon. Make sure they know we are watching and will be voting those who stand idly by out of office! We must exercise our voices. You can bet the fundamentalists are already rallying to get the most conservative, anti-gay choices they can on the list of possibles.

This will affect us for decades to come. We cannot let the SCOTUS turn into a bigoted hate-mongering extension of the extremists. We must demand the Senate fight and kill any anti-LGBT nominees. If you don’t know who your State senators or representatives are, feel free to click the links below.

Find your state’s Senator here

Find your state’s Representative’s here.

If we do not speak up, we not have the right to speak up soon. That is not an exaggeration. Every day we the extremists trying to cut off the voice of the people. They want them demoralized and distracted by hot-button social issues so they can continue robbing the poor and feeding the rich. If we don’t break out of our personal bubbles and get involved, we have no one to blame when they come for us again.

Hot

So I deal with a lot of dog in car calls in my line of work.  I also have a beloved animal that I would never ever let intentionally suffer. And of course, I do a lot of volunteer work the local SPCA. Considering the temps outside here today, I thought I’d pass along some helpful info. 

First, it is OK to leave your dog in your car in some circumstances. Second, it is NOT OK to leave your dog in your car inmost circumstances. 

Just follow a few basic rules and you and your beloved pet will be good.

1) Always make plans that do not include having to leave an animal alone in a vehicle for more than a few minutes. If you plan accordingly, the likelihood of you putting your pet in danger will be very low. (Going into Safeway to shop for an hour or two is NOT a good example.)

2) When deciding if it is ok to leave your animal in your car for a short period of time, add 20 degrees to the temperature outside. If you would leave a child in the same temp and be ok, even for 15 mins, then it is ok for your pet.1

3) If you are ever in doubt, don’t do it. If it is that close in your mind, error on the side of your beloved pet and don’t do it.

On the flip side, what should you do if you are concerned about an animal left in a vehicle?

1) Vehicles are not air-tight. Even if the window is rolled up, the animal is in ZERO danger of suffocating. I hear this one a lot. While it may contribute to a given situation, it is not enough to cause disress on it’s own. 

2) Unless you know of a specific ordinance in your area that indemnifies you from harm, you are not exempt from liability if you break into a strange vehicle. Committing a crime to right a crime doesn’t protect you. You should call your local non-emergency police number or animal care agency for guidance. They will in return make the necessary response or referrals. 

3) While you personally may not like it, legal conditions for ‘in distress‘ have to be met before drastic action can be taken. Again, make an effort to know local ordinances or use option 2 above. An excited/barking/whimpering animal is not enough on it’s own to be considered in distress. In very general terms, ‘distress‘ means the animal is in danger of injury or death if no one acts to intervene. 

If you have ever hopped into a baking hot car, you know from experience, it is not a comfortable feeling. Do not inflict such punishment on your companions. They are defenseless against such things and depend soley on you for their care. 




  1. The caveat is if you’re stupid enough to leave a child in an obviously too hot car for 15 mins or longer, don’t breed or own a pet. []

Edu-ma-ka-tion

After almost 2 decades, I finally won a battle against my technical school, that may sound like eye-tee-tee, and the DOE (Dept of Education).

In a nut shell, I attended said school for a whopping two semesters before dropping out. I dropped out because I was misled by the school and the recruiter on the necessary prerequisites required. The ploy was the class didn’t require 2 years experience yet all of the instructors expected you to have it and taught based on that assumption. I’m smart but I could not overcome a 2 year difference between what was expected of me and what I had. After going thru the process, I was supposed to only be billed for the two semesters.

Fast forward to the end of my loan, I was notified I still owed more. Apparently, the school had billed me for the entire first year, or more to the point,they billed the DOE. I disputed the amount and sent in the documentation showing my attendance and termination. I heard nothing and assumed it was done.

Fast forward again to the mid 90’s, while I’m living in Colorado, I get a collection bill for the outstanding amount plus interest. It’s been almost 10 years atthis point and having survived a bout of being homeless, I could not find my copies of the original records. I call, go thru the process, and request my records from the school. The school first refuses then sends me everything but my attendance dates. I submit everything and once again hear nothing.

Fast forward one more time to earlier this year. I get a new collection notice along with a new bill for interest which is twice the actual amount being billed. I am like, “oh hell naw!” I call and dispute yet again. I get the same run around as before even after they admit they can see all the original documentation notes. Yet, w/o any of the actual copies they are unwilling to proceed. I languish in limbo while attempting to have them contact the school and get my attendance records, since the school will not send them to me.1  A few months go by and I hear nothing. This time I am unwilling to just ignore the problem. I call back and get more excuses. I’m feeling very annoyed and not at all content with this nonsense.

One day, I happened to be digging thru some old papers in an unrelated attempt to clear some clutter and what do I discover? My old documentation. It had somehow survived in the two boxes I managed to keep all these years. Color me surprised. I notify the DOE, get to the proper forms in the mail, fill them out, attach all the documents, school records, etc. The school of course tries to dispute it, but being on their original forms they were unsuccessful.

I was notified today that not only am I no longer expected to pay the outstanding 2 semesters, I am also due a check for just over $500 from an overpayment! Reading between the lines here means that school will have to cough up that money. I’m absolutely tickled.




  1. Having made a dispute, legally the debt – holder has to show proof the debt is valid. []

Punch

I had a few bizarre episodes lately where people thought it was ok to inappropriately touch me or expose themselves in public. *Coworkers – uh um….TMI for you, read at your peril.*

One was back over before Pride. I’d gone to a friend/coworkers pool party. Being in Martinez and there was most definitely drinking involved, I opted to take BART vs riding my motorcycle. And naturally plenty of ‘drunks’ occured. On the way home I apparently forgot about the “last car” rule on BART.1  Being in my somewhat inebrieated state, I’m relaxing in my exuberence when I notice the guy in the seat directly across from me touching himself. And not just a little, he was going at it.

At this point, two things are working in his favor. One, I’m obviously drunk and two, I’m obviously drunk. And I know what you’re thinking, but no, nothing untoward happened on my part. lol I did however watch in a rather unfocused fascination as he finished his manual labors, which did not take long. I promptly giggled and then rolled back over and rejoined my previous half-sleep delirum. Later I almost thought I dreamed it till I ran into him and he made some overt attempts to engage me. This episode didn’t end poorly as it was more of just an experience. Sadly, the next two did.

About a month ago. I was walking thru the hood mid day doing errands. This youngish kid comes stumbling out of Sadlands with an older girl in tow. He was sort of on my awareness but didn’t give it much thought. That is until he promptly reaches up and grabs my nipple. Then he had my complete attention as I whirled around and confronted him. The ONLY reason he didn’t get punched was because I immediately noticed his age and drunkiness. Had he been neither I think I would have actually decked him right in the nose. I was furious. That restraint; however, did not stop me from cussing his ass out and telling his rather snotty friend to shut her pie hole before I did. The part that infuriated me the most was when I realized what he was doing, I shrugged him off and he tried again! Keep in mind, this is mid day and I’m not leaving the bar with him. I’m not standing around outside cruising. I’m some random guy walking down the street with my dog doing my thing. I’ll be the first to admit I can be incredibly incorrigible and not the least bit shy. But I also know that unwanted touching is considered an assualt in all 50 states. Had I given this guy any eye contact or the remotest idea I was into him this story would have gone much differently. Having only registered him on my radar in passing and then have him brazenly try to grab me twice was not acceptable. Was I worried he’d harm me? No, of course not. I was twice his size. It was the blatant disrespect and lack of contriteness that set me off. So anyway, I think he will think twice next time before attempting to fondle a random stranger. On a funny side note, I have never seen Cooper be aggressive. And while not aggressive this day he clearly knew something was up. All the jovial antics to get attention went out of him. He made no moves or growls but his body went into a locked rigid position and he was ‘eagerly’ focused on the guy. For a dog this is a clear sign of agitation. It is very unwise to try and touch a unknown dog when it is giving off such body language. Anyway, I’m curious if he would have done anything had the situation escalated. Since he did not growl or move he didn’t get scolded but it did make me aware my lovable pup can be defensive. Something to this point, I thought impossible. Even when other dogs are aggressive, Cooper usually just shrugs it off.

The last episode was a couple weeks ago. Apparently, a local guy who’d seen my ‘social’ profiles decided it was ok to walk up and start touching me. Literally, he walks up to the side and just behind me and starts playing with my butt. And not in a ‘hey how are you‘ sort of touch either. lol And again, in the right situation and the right cues, I’d could just as easily do the same thing. But this was none of that. I’ve never seen this guy in my life. We’ve never interacted directly. Once again I confronted said person with a few choice words peppereed with a few colorful words. And his response was the real surprise. He said he thought it was ok because he’d seen me on a couple of ‘sites.’ And of course my response was, “and how the hell does that in anyway translate into you sexually assualting me in public?’ Now that I had his undivided attention he begun to realize his behavior was over the line. Short of my profile having some sort of declaration that said behavior was expected or encouraged, it is not ok and I said as much. Just because you saw me online doesn’t equate to you assaulting me in public. He was miffed and more than a little embarrassed because I was not quite in my admonishments but I think he got the picture. He also ruined the chance to make a friend because of his behavior, which from the gist of his statements indicated that was his intent.

It wasn’t that I personally felt violated or in danger from either of these guys2, it was the absolute lack of respect and assuption of familiarity that upset me. I’m not a stand-offish person either. I like physical contact. But that contact needs to be appropriate and/or warranted. Any behavior that encourages it like flirting, eye contact, conversation; anything that would have shown a two way interaction and acceptance of physical contact is perfectly fine. But to assume you can touch or grab someone in a non-sexual situation is liable to get you one punched or two arrested.

The moral of the story boys and girls? Look, don’t touch until the offer to touch has been expressed. Otherwise, the outcome might not be pleasant.




  1. Shortly afer moving to SF, I discovered the last car on BART is often open to ‘shinanigans.’ []
  2. even though others might have []

Medic!

I’ve had to put my EMT skills to use quite a bit lately. Over the last couple months I’ve run into situations where my help was needed. A few times a the gym and a couple times just random occurrences.

It’s a good thing since I currently can’t afford to miss a day of work to ride on the ambulance. I used to try and ride at least once a month. Right now money is tight so I gotsta work. It’s funny how you just slip into that mode, so to speak. One guy sees me all the time at the gym and we’ve exchanged ‘hellos’ a couple times. He had a near-syncope (fainting) and needed to be evaluated.

My little brother thinks I’m Marcus Welby MD now. Every time he has an issue or needs to see a doctor he calls me to confirm everything. I’ve told him several times my training is limited but it still seems to make him feel better. Sadly, he was diagnosed with kidney stones recently. He was in so much pain he was blowing up my phone every day complaining. I’m like, ‘what do you want me to do? You drink soda like crazy, you eat horribly. It is no wonder you got kidney stones.‘ He is supposed to go back this week to get treated. Hopefully, they’ll get everything. I can only imagine the pain. OY!

Learn-ed

I took an instructor development class a couple weeks ago as part of my CE1 requirements for work. I bring it up because there was a hottie in the class that I totally kept staring out. Totally straight but oh mah gawd was he hawt!

He turned out to have a bit of an ego (naturally). Ever notice how you can pick up someone’s body language and they don’t realize they are doing it? That’s called body leakage.2 He kept giving little signals that he was annoyed during his critic sessions. I know the instructors picked up on it because they always seemed to go overboard with trying to reassure him. hehehe

Anyway, I actually learned some things. I’ve always considered myself a good instructor but I did learn a few things that I think will definitely help. Some of the techniques seem obvious now even though I’d never really thought of’em before. The hands-on was excellent and I thought the critics of me were dead-on. One being I have a habit of speaking really fast. I often reinforce my teaching but speaking fast can often leave someone behind when they are struggling. 

On the other side of the coin, I will say some of the instruction was a bit too PC. It seemed to put instruction ahead of behavior issues. Not sure I agree with that. I can understand the fine balance  between the two and keeping an unruly student involved but at some point no amount of instruction will overcome a student’s negative behavior.

Anyway, it was a nice break from work even though I had to be up at butt-thirty early in the morning for class. By Thursday, my brain had pretty much shut down. Thankfully, it was all mostly hands-on at that.




  1. continuing education []
  2. Get your minds out of my gutter []

SFO

I often bitch a lot about my job and the complexities it entails.  That said, there are times when I get unique opportunities.

Star

*A real pic taken today. No zoom function, I was this close*

Today was one such opportunity.  I got to go out to SFO airport as part of my continuing Fire Specialization training.  As an instructor for dispatchers learning Fire duties, it is my responsibility to teach all aspects of the response patterns.  Part of that includes airport emergencies. 

A group of managers and myself got to tour the SFO comm. center and Fire stations.  We also got a field tour of the entire airport.  I enjoyed the trip immensely.  Beside being very educational, seeing such massive carcasses of metal taking off so close is a very surreal experience.  To this day, it still boggles my mind how we can force such amazingly large heavy objects into the air.

Floor it Clyde!

*me sitting in the driver’s seat for the airboat.  Click on any of the pics to hop over to my flickr account.*

I also got a chance to see all the unique Fire apparatus specifically used for fires on airplanes.  Being on the water, the above pic is me sitting in the driver’s seat of a very large airboat.  This badboy was about 3 times the size of airboats I grew up crashing in the swamplands of Louisiana.  The bad-ass engine here is an 8.1 liter fuel-injected 525 horsepower monster.  It could propel the boat down a dry runway at 60 miles an hour easy. 

Poker

*look carefully at the long cylindrical pipe with the sharp point on the end*

The sharp stake here is used to pierce the skin of an aircraft and inject foam directly onto a burning fire.  I kept picturing the brain bug from Starship Troopers looking at this thing.  Only instead of sucking stuff out, it pumps foam.  You can’t see it but the prong attaches to an articulating boom that can rise over 75ft into the air. 

Needless to say, I an awesome time today.  I didn’t want to leave.  I could have spent the rest of my shift playing w/gadgets, poking buttons, pulling levers, etc.  The trip gave me some great insights into how Fire depts. handle airport Fires. 

Confused Again

So I came up with the poll this week after my friend Matthew said he was a bit upset over being turned down by poz guys. He said two different guys he was interested in dating wouldn’t go out w/him because he was negative. I had to ask again as I was sure I misheard what he said. Nope, I heard him correctly. A poz guy wouldn’t go out with him because he was negative. Ironic wouldn’t you say? Being completely flummoxed, I asked one of my long time (20+ years) poz friends and his response, “well, it is just easier to play with someone who is also poz.” Wait, wait….wait just a damn minute. So now the poz community is using the same flawed logic as the negative community? WTF? After all, isn’t that the same excuse an ignorant negative person would use. After he thought about it, “yeah I guess it is.” I just don’t get people sometimes. Someone would have unprotected sex w/a complete stranger because he says he is negative but they won’t have safe sex w/an honest poz guy. Oh yeah, that makes perfect logic to me. NOT!

Frankly, I’d have safe sex with a serodiscordant person before I’d have any kind of sex w/a meth or drug addict. At least w/a serodiscordant person I know where I stand and what I’m protecting myself against. The latter not so much. I could go on and on about the damage meth does to your brain. Simply put, the most apparent symptom is often extreme paranoia. Paranoia that can and often leads to violence. No thank you.

Sadly, even today there is still a lot of ignorance surrounding HIV and how it is spread. Unless you are into some freaky shit, it really just takes a condom and condom-safe lube. Yep, that is all it takes. And, in an age where a plethora of medical knowledge is only a click away, you have no excuse not to know at least the basics.