Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lucky to Be Alive: Dad's Accident (Part 1)

There's really no nice way to transition into this, so let's just get down to it.

On October 18th I got a phone call from my mom. This in itself is a bit of a rarity, and I have frequently told her she needs to call more often, because she seems to only call with bad news. I need to be reconditioned not to expect negative things when she calls. (You know, like how you take your dog for car rides so he doesn't automatically assume car = vet.) But I got blindsided on this one. First, she called from my dad's phone, and my dad is a billion times more likely to call me for something random (like to tell me he's 20 minutes from my house, and would I mind if he stopped by). Second, she started the conversation so normally that I suspected nothing. (Sneaky woman, she is...)

And then she hit me with it.

My dad was in a motorcycle accident on the night of October 17th. He was on his way home from a softball game (he plays in a Fall Ball league when he's able) and was worried about hitting wet leaves on the street he normally uses to get home. Instead, he went one street down, nicked the median (we think), and went down. 
The table was still set for Monday's
dinner when I arrived on Wednesday night.
My mom had been waiting at home for him. Over an hour after he should have been home for dinner, the hospital called my mom to let her know Dad was there. After explaining that his injuries were serious, but non-life-threatening, she got off the phone and headed straight to the hospital.

It wasn't until late Tuesday morning that my mom called to tell me. I immediately requested the next two days off from work, planning to go to Madison as soon as possible. I ended up spending Wednesday doing chores to get caught up at my house and then headed to Madison that night so I could spend Thursday at the hospital with my parents.

Wednesday night, Mom filled me in on the details of his accident, including the laundry list of injuries he sustained. Both bones in his left leg were broken, which included a compound fracture (bone came through the skin). His left thumb was partially dislocated (subluxation) and two of his fingers were broken. He broke his sternum and 20 ribs (he likes to boast that he was going for the record). The bridge of his nose was broken, leading to some nice bruising that made it look like he was rocking purple eyeliner. He had some relatively minor road rash, as well as some other bumps and bruises. And he hit his forehead enough to need some stitches and have a mild concussion. Seeing as he wasn't wearing a helmet, he is insanely lucky that was the extent of the damage to his head (and that he's here to tell the tale). 

As for the accident itself, the details were - and still are - pretty sketchy. We know he was making a left turn when he went down, and was less than two miles from home when it happened. Other than that... We're just not sure. There were a few witnesses who gave statements (one said she saw a car run him over, but the others didn't mention anything about that), and Dad has some flashes of memory from the accident (he thinks he remembers seeing the bike sliding away from him). Mostly he remembers a woman who sat with him while they waited for the ambulance. He says she was wonderful. She made sure someone called 911 and she stayed calm through the whole ordeal. He has no idea who she was (he couldn't really turn his head or body to look at her as she sat with him), but he'd love to thank her. So would I. 

There's a LONG road to recovery ahead of us. I'll share some details of that journey later. For now, just know that he's going to be OK. That's the only part that matters.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Well, here we are. 

It's November 9th. The election is over. Donald Trump has won and will become our next president. 

Am I happy about this? Not particularly. Am I worried by the outcome? A bit, yes. Do I feel regret over how I voted? Not at all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm well aware that I - along with all other third party voters - am going to be blamed by some for the outcome of this election. In fact, it has already begun. Here's a sampling of what I'm seeing from people on my own Facebook friends list:

"How are you feeling, third party voters?"

"I blame... 3rd party voters."

"If you voted 3rd party... shame on you."

"If you voted for Johnson, just smack yourself - why bother voting?"

There's more, mostly in the form of memes and shared posts, but the general consensus re: third party voting is that I should feel terrible, shamed, and shouldn't have even voted.

And now, my response.

How am I feeling? I'm OK, thanks. Not great, mind you, but I'm hanging in there. I really thought Gary could get to 5%, so I'm definitely upset that he didn't, that there's no guarantee that 2020 will be any different. And I can't say I'm really looking forward to Trump's presidency, but it will be interesting to see where this takes us as a country. I want to see how people step up to fight against, or support, a Republican-run America. There is so much anger and sadness today, and that hurts my heart, but I also hope it pushes people to take action (appropriate, positive, non-dangerous action). Our votes are our voices, and last I saw, Hillary edged past Trump in the popular vote. That means that more people voted for Hillary, more people's voices screamed her name and wanted her leadership, yet Trump becomes our president-elect. This is how the system works, and clearly a LOT of people are not happy with that. So speak up about it. Keep using your voices until you are heard.

I will accept your blame if it helps keep the peace. I shouldn't accept it; I'm not truly to blame. You think that if I hadn't voted for Gary Johnson that surely my vote would have been for HRC, and that's why you're blaming me. You believe my vote would have helped your candidate, and that Johnson stole my vote away. Here's the thing about that: It's simply not true. Hillary never had my vote. Nor did Trump. Had they been the only two choices, I would have abstained from voting completely. Are there people out there who might have voted for Clinton if a third party option hadn't been available? Sure. But I'm not one of them. Nor is my Hubby. Many of us would have preferred to NOT vote rather than vote for "your" candidate. So you can blame me all you want, and I'll take it. I'll shoulder that for now because you're hurting and upset, because - particularly if you're my friend or family - I love you and I'm willing to do that if it will help ease the pain. 

Accepting your blame is one thing, but I refuse to feel ashamed of my vote. By telling me I should be ashamed of myself or by trying to shame me for my choice feels no different than bullying. Shaming me for voting for someone I believe in and admire? Shaming me for using MY vote for MY voice? Shaming me for not voting YOUR way? I've been raised to believe that voting is a duty and an honor. If I had voted any other way, I would have been doing myself and my country a disservice by letting my voice be silenced by those who are now trying to shame me. I voted for the person I truly felt was best suited for the role of president. In doing so, I have done nothing shameful or of which to be ashamed. I've taken your blame, but keep your shame. You may need it.

I "bothered" to vote because it's my right as a citizen of this country. Just as it is your right to vote for HRC, it is my right to vote for Gary Johnson. When I say, "Get out and vote!" what I mean is "Get out and vote!" Apparently, when some of you said "Get out and vote!" what you meant was "Get out and vote for my candidate!" You made it sound like you were encouraging me to exercise my right, but my right is to vote for whomever I choose. And yes, it is also your right to (try to) blame me and shame me for my decision. You are using your voice to convey your disgust and desperation, and you are entitled to do so. But here's a question for you to consider: Why? Why chastise me for voting third party and not almost half of the country who actually voted for Trump? Why use your voice to beat me down instead of using it against the party you're actually against? Why ruin friendships and burn bridges when you could be embracing an opportunity to engage in dialogue and hear different views? I "bothered" to vote because I wanted things to change. Now that the results are in, might you agree with that?

Donald Trump will be our next president, but don't blame me... I voted for Johnson. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day Thoughts

Well, here we are. Election Day at last. Seems like it took FOREVER, right? 
No stickers for absentee voters.
I'm pretending this is mine.

Today, "I Voted" stickers will cover the country (or, at minimum, Susan B. Anthony's grave site), social media will take one last look at Ken Bone and his charming red sweater, and we the people will elect the next U.S. president. It's kind of a big deal.

As I've definitely made known, I voted for Gary Johnson. I've explained why I'm voting for him, but one thing I haven't really mentioned is this: I know he won't win. 

I'm not delusional. I've known from the very start that Gary had less than a snowball's chance in Haiti of becoming our next president*. And yet, I voted for him. Proudly so, I might add. 

Do you like your mom's posts
with that finger?
I voted for Gary knowing he wouldn't win. I voted for him knowing that I'm going to continue to hear that my vote was wasted. I voted for him knowing that I'll be blamed by some for the outcome of the election because somehow my vote for a third party candidate gave votes to, or took them away from, Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton. I voted for him knowing that it was an unpopular position to take among my friends, and that some have chosen to hide my posts or unfriend me as a result. I voted for him knowing some people would get downright hostile about my decision and would probably think less of me because of it. 

 So knowing all of that, why did I do it?

Aleppo-shmaleppo, Gary's my guy!
I voted for Gary because I felt his voice best represented my own. I voted for him because I trusted in him over the other candidates. I voted for him because I believe he has this country's best interests in mind. I voted for him because the system isn't working the way I believe it should. I voted for him because I want him to reach the 5% mark so we are guaranteed more than two options in 2020. I voted for him because I wanted to vote FOR a candidate, not AGAINST one. I voted for him because when all is said and done, I will still feel good about myself and my vote. I voted for him because it was my vote to cast however I wanted, despite what others may think. I voted for him because it felt right for me.

I voted for Mr. Johnson because Ms. Clinton is well-spoken, polished, and prepared for the job, but she is a candidate I cannot trust. I voted for Mr. Johnson because Mr. Trump is bold, business-minded, and not afraid to shake things up, but he is a candidate I cannot respect. 

In the end, it doesn't really matter why I voted for Gary Johnson. Others who voted for him already understand and those who didn't aren't likely to care one way or another. But I have my reasons and I stand behind my decision.

I hope you stand behind yours as well.

*Yes, I meant Haiti, not Hades. The temps in Haiti are almost always in the 70s or 80s. This is not a place Frosty is going on vacation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Lot to Cover

The countdown is on. We are one week away from Election Day, so I must be here to talk about politics, right? Right? Bueller?

Nope, I'm taking a break to write about something a little lighter. The past month has been rough. In addition to all the election BS everyone is dealing with, my dad was in a motorcycle accident and has been in the hospital for over two weeks. Add some extra personal stress and anxiety and... Well, it's just not been a great time for me.

There are a few things in life I can always count on to make me feel better. My hubby. My friends. My family. My pups. And music.

I love music.

Lately I've been focusing on covers, largely thanks to a trial of SiriusXM during which I could listen to their online stations, including the new Covers channel. I fell in love with that channel. Hard. My trial ended just over two weeks ago and I'm still not over it. I'm mourning the loss of my channel. I've tried creating sort of a covers station on Pandora, but I don't think it understands what I want (though it, too, has shown me some awesome songs).

I've written in defense of covers before, thanks to Glee. I've even written about Christmas covers. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm obsessing over cover songs yet again.

Today I want to share my five most recent cover obsessions. (FYI, just because they're recent obsessions doesn't mean the covers themselves are necessarily recent. I say this so no one goes, "Pfft, that's not new!" Yeah, I know it's not. Shut up.)

So, in no particular order...

1. KHS, Sam Tsui, Madilyn Bailey, Alex G - Send My Love: This collaboration of awesome Youtube artists Kurt Hugo Schneider, Sam Tsui, Madilyn Bailey, and Alex G is one of MANY Adele covers out there, yet it stands out to me as one of the very best. Not only are the vocals amazing (a cappella is my weakness!), this is probably the craziest game of patty cake you'll ever see.

Favorite Moment: The vocals drop out around 2:22 for some intricate hand clapping. When they come back around 2:38... Perfection.

2. Disturbed - The Sound of Silence: I'm a big fan of oldies, and I have a hard time with a lot of modern covers of songs I fell in love with as a kid. However, this Simon & Garfunkel cover is a definite exception. David Draiman's voice and delivery really bring out the intensity of the lyrics, stirring up visceral emotions and rekindling my love of this 60s hit.

Favorite Moment: Hard to choose, but I'll say right around 1:48 when Draiman starts belting out the words. His voice is so beautiful it hurts.

3. Twenty One Two - Love Yourself: Twenty One Two consists of a drummer and a singer/guitarist, both from Sweden. I'm a huge fan and all of their covers rock (in fact, their cover of Lukas Graham's "7 Years" just won MTV's best cover of the month), but this one holds a special place in my heart. I hate to admit it, but I love this song in general. If you're like me, you probably got into it on the radio and then found out it was Justin Bieber and sort of hated yourself a little. Well, fear not! This cover means you can love the song without having to love the Biebs. Also, it was the first of their songs to come up on XM's Covers station (and you always remember your first love).

Favorite Moment: Probably the first time they start the chorus (1:13-ish), just before you find out about a slight modification in the lyrics. The impact is greatest when it's unexpected.

4. Pentatonix ft Jason Derulo - If I Ever Fall in Love: I've been a fan of Pentatonix since they were on The Sing-Off, and I've been following Jason Derulo since the days of MySpace (you know, when people still used it and thought Facebook was a "ripoff" of it). When I showed Hubby the carpool karaoke clip with Jason showing off his training, he was amazed to learn that he can really sing (not just "pop crap"), so I had to share this song with him as well. Shai's original is... well, it's something. Don't get me wrong, the vocals are pretty sweet (holy falsetto, Batman!), but the style of the early 90s didn't do the original any favors. This is a rare case where I think the cover is way better than the original.

Favorite Moment: 2:36. Falsetto FTW.

5. Postmodern Jukebox ft Haley Reinhart - Creep: Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox is a thing of wonder. "We take pop music back in time," says their Facebook page. Sounds simple, but the arrangements are anything but. PMJ takes a song and gives it a makeover, a whole new life. (I can't explain it any better than that, so just check out their Youtube channel, OK?) This Radiohead cover is a fan favorite, thanks in part to the incredible voice of Haley Reinhart, who I have a HUGE music crush on. (If she sounds familiar, you might have heard her version of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" from the Extra Gum commercial. Oh, and I guess she was on American Idol. So. Yeah.)

Favorite Moment: I truly love this entire song, and if I could wrap myself inside Haley's voice like a burrito, I probably would. But my favorite part begins at 4:03. Not only is Haley singing her freaking heart out, but listen to the instruments in the section that follows. Scott Bradlee is going nuts on the piano (his arrangements are insane!), and the whole thing just comes together in the most spectacular way. I adore it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

CNN: Censoring Nonconformist News

As I've pointed out, major news networks tend to ignore third party candidates. This happens all the time. But to flat-out censor the opinions of your own focus group to remove any concept of a third party option? That's just low.

Lower than low, really. (I'd say it's deplorable, but that word has already been taken this election season.) The following is from an article from LibertyBuzz, so yes, it's admittedly biased, but what news source isn't?

Clearly, the debates weren't on HBO.
After the debate, they asked all of us in the focus group if we were decided on a candidate. Out of 28 panel members, 5 said they were decided on Clinton, 2 said they were decided on Trump, and 12 said they were going to vote 3rd party. But once they saw the response, they reshot the segment and replaced "3rd party" with "still undecided".

This comes from a Facebook post made by one of the members of the focus group, Justin Smith. Later amended by Smith to clarify a few things, the post explains how CNN originally asked the group to raise their hands for either Clinton, Trump, or a third party candidate. CNN then told the panel they were going to re-shoot and removed the option for third party, leaving many to indicate they were "undecided" as this was the only non-Trump, non-Clinton option they were given. 

For the rest of this post, I'm going to make an assumption that Justin Smith's account of things is accurate. Do I know this for certain? No, of course not. I wasn't there and I only have access to what CNN.com has provided. It's entirely possible that it didn't happen this way. In fact, I hope it didn't. I'd like to think that we're not being censored from the truth. But if there's a chance that this all happened, the following is how I feel about it.

Moving on. 

The transcript for this, of course, only gives what was aired. Pamela Brown is asked whether the VP debate has influenced anyone's vote, and her response follows:

"It sure did. In fact, let's take a tally here. I want to ask everyone in the group, after watching this debate, who in this group will now vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket come November? Raise your hand. All right. So as you see, we have five people who say they will vote for Clinton-Kaine.
If you're getting screwed in this poll, raise your hand.

Let's look at Trump-Pence. Raise your hand if you will vote for them come November. Two people. And those still undecided, still have no idea who they're going to vote for, raise your hands. All right, Wolf, as you see, a majority here in this room at the University of Richmond still undecided."

Except, according to Smith, about 40% of the people in that room had already indicated that they were planning to vote for a third party candidate. If you add those 12 to the seven who indicated they will be voting for either Trump or Clinton, 2/3 of the panel have already chosen a candidate. By definition, the majority of the room (with majority literally meaning more than half) is decided, not UNdecided. And to suggest they have "no idea" who they're voting for is simply not true.  

It's no surprise that CNN is backing Clinton. Not only is CNN notorious for leaning to the left (hence the reason my dad, among others, calls it the "Communist News Network"), but this Observer opinion piece points out that host Chris Cuomo let it slip in 2015 that they were one of Clinton's biggest backers. (If you watch the clip, he doesn't specifically say that CNN is a Clinton supporter. But since CNN is generally considered part of the media, and due to his use of "we" in his statements, I think we can safely make some inferences about where they stand.)

Still, CNN (and all other media outlets) has a responsibility to accurately report the news. I had to search around for their mission/vision statement and finally found it on the Cable News Network blog (via Wordpress). Under accuracy, it is stated that "CNN is committed to achieving accuracy. We strive to present the truth to our audience." They even specify ways by which they ensure accuracy, such as "guarding against carelessness and omission of important news" and "continuously seeking and reporting the truth." 

And then, under the section titled Objectivity, is this gem.

Totally checks out! *WINK*

CNN strives to provide the most neutral and unbiased stories to our audience so that they can obtain the most accurate information. We consider a range of varying perspectives and treat controversial subjects, as well as all other subjects, with impartiality.

So I wonder, then, which part of censorship they believe supports their mission and vision for the company. It's not accurate, as in doing so they both omitted important news and failed to report the truth. And it's not impartial, as the way they presented the information is clearly biased against third party candidates (and in favor of Clinton). Hmmm... 

Lastly, I want to share this statement from their career page We are CNN:

We are the now and the next. The power behind the people building the future.
We are born from the spirit of innovation.
We are created from the idea that people around the world want more, need more, deserve more.
We are the home of the global digital revolution.
We are CNN.

Well, they're right. We do want more, need more, and deserve more. Let's start with the truth (the WHOLE truth) and go from there.