Irony, Musing

Made in China

photo of man wearing maskThe whole world has heard of the Coronavirus and how half of China is under quarantine.  Over the last couple of weeks, it’s been announced Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong are both closed indefinitely.  Apple has said they will lose money this quarter because factories are shut down in quarantined cities. Last week there was a report on my local news station about how many wedding and quinceanera dresses are made from fabric from China.  The factories haven’t been sending shipments since the quarantine and that means no dresses.  What most people fail to realize is these things are only the tip of the iceberg. It sounds like I’m fearmongering but I’m not.

Many years ago, I read a book called A Year Without Made in China by Sara Bongiorni.  The book follows a family who decided to forgo buying anything made in China for a whole year.  It started out as sort of a social experiment but it became more than that. The family found it virtually impossible to buy certain things not made in China.  In some cases, the things they needed (parts to repair something) were only made in China.  There was no other alternative. After reading this book I began taking stock of where the things I bought were made. I noticed a fair bit of China as well as other Asian countries and India with a few other places scattered here and there. At the time that I read the book, I just thought it was a sign of the times that American factories were dead. It never occurred to me how a disruption in the manufacturing of goods in another country could affect day to day life in our country, yet here we are. I’ll be honest I don’t remember if that was even touched on in the book.

This virus induced disruption of goods is definitely a wake up call. It throws into sharp relief how dependent we all are on other countries and how interconnected we have become.  I wonder if this disruption will be the catalyst for bringing manufacturing back to America. For decades, America has all but outsourced the manufacture of most everything to other countries. A few years back there was a new push to “Buy American” but if there’s anything American’s love it’s cheap crapola and American made products aren’t cheap. After all, American made products have to be made by Americans who need to have a living wage which means the factories can’t run sweatshops and sell cheap goods. However, if we can’t get the goods from cheap labor places what is the alternative?  You know what they say, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.”  Maybe it’s time we did it ourselves or maybe we’ll just find a cure for the virus.  The sad truth of it is this probably won’t be a catalyst to ‘do it ourselves’ again because the start up time for a new factory would be years. We no longer have the capability, facilities and manpower to do it ourselves. We’ve essentially outsourced the things we don’t want to do which is another topic for another day.

NOTE: If you are looking for a new read, I highly suggest reading A Year Without Made in China.  It really is quite fascinating. Click on the title about to go directly to Amazon or you can be cheap and get it for free at the library.  

 

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Recommendations

Country Music

img_1056Well, I’ve got another recommendation for y’all this week. This time it’s a little bit different. It’s not a podcast but a mini-series, a documentary mini-series to be exact. Master documentary maker Ken Burns has knocked it out of the park again with his latest creation, Country Music.

I’m sure there are many readers that want to click away right now.  They’re rolling their eyes and thinking, “I don’t like country.”  You’d be well within your right to click away but I really feel this documentary is really something.  It’s an 8 part series that spans the birth of what we call country today all the way up to the present day – a truly American art form.  Burns weaves a brilliant story of the melding of the storytelling of mountain people and slaves, to gospel standards and string bands. How people who came to American bringing with them their instruments and culture and formed this new thing. He demonstrates how this new thing continues to grown and morph and split apart and come back together in new ways and how it eventually gave birth to rock and folk and bluegrass.

As native Nashvillian, it’s interesting to see how Nashville factored into the whole situation. It doesn’t happen as much anymore but 20 or so years ago, I’d tell people I was born in Nashville and it was assumed I only liked country music. That used to really annoy me. It’s kind of like the old schtick about how you can talk away you want to about family but don’t let anyone else talk bad about them.  I would rabidly respond, Nashville is Music City USA, not Country Music USA. I usually failed to mention it was also called Country Music capital of the World.  I had a chip on my shoulder that few outsiders could see what amazing music of all types was coming out of our city.

This documentary made me proud to say I was born in Nashville, the Country Music Capital of the World.  And, that I’m a country music fan (as well as many other genres). There have been several times watching the documentary that I was so overcome that it brought me to tears. When they show clips of Opryland with Roy Acuff singing Wallbash Cannonball or when they show Dolly Parton singing I Will Always Love You I am transported to my childhood. I have caught myself singing along more times than I can count. Although, just because I was born in Music City that doesn’t mean I can sing.

The Country Music documentary can be found on PBS but I believe you can also watch it on Amazon.  I’m currently watching it on Youtube TV.  I’m not going to lie, it’s long.  Each of the 8 episodes is two hours long. I’ve been watching it while on the elliptical. It makes those miles pass very quickly.

Photo Credit: This is a screen capture off my phone of how it looks on Youtube TV if you choose to look for it. No copyright infringement intended. I make no money off of this and I’m broke. Don’t sue me.

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Musing

Making Speeches

black microphone

We’ve been inundated with speeches this last week. First, we had President Trump’s State of the Union speech last Tuesday, February 4.  We also had his speech at the National Prayer breakfast two days later.  We’ve had numerous grandstands with the Iowa caucus bru-ha-ha and the New Hampshire caucus last night.  Plus, we’ve had another debate in preparation for the New Hampshire caucus. And, finally, we had a whole night of speeches at the Oscars.  All of those speeches I just talked about were very scripted in that the person delivering the speeches knew exactly what they were going to say when called on.

Of course, we all expect these things to be scripted but the thing that bothers me is the debate speeches.  No, I’m not some naive babe in the woods type. I know those candidates must have some canned answers but sometimes it feels like the whole thing is a canned statement. Almost like a press conference where the PR people have told the talking head, “Hey man just keep repeating this phrase over and over no matter what they ask.  If pushed, just reword our key phrase and just keep on trucking.” Back in the B.C. (before children), when I did work in public relations that was exactly the type of thing we’d tell our figurehead when at a press conference. We didn’t want the press asking too many pointed questions and having the talking head going off-script thus making more work for us in the damage control department.

It’s funny, maybe it’s always been like this but I’ve been noticing how everything seems so curated and staged these days. Family, friends, even casual acquaintances have social media posts that seem so staged and contrived.  Look at me at this fancy work thing, see me picking up trash at the beach (just doing my part for the environment), see how hard I hustle. It’s not just the selfies but also the words.  Personal interactions aren’t much better. The bragging about CrossFit and who has the most ridiculous after school schedule is just absurd. The other night a friend texted that they were at a band concert and the lady next to them was snapping pictures and uploading it to Facebook whilst doing the humble brag about their kid being in the honors band.  The school doesn’t even have an honor band program.  It’s keeping up with the Jones’s on steroids. The one-upmanship is out of control.

Despite many years in PR, I find that even though I can write this drivel for others, I cannot craft a speech or image for myself.  I am way too what you see is what you get and it cannot be helped. This blog and my big mouth are about as close to a speech as I get. And, if you know me in real life you know I just spew it out without a whole lot of thought.  I’d love to know the logic behind the social media crafters. Is it attention seeking? Is it poor self esteem and the need for validation? Is this the new currency – instead of flashy cars and vacation homes you show how well you’re doing online? I’m genuinely curious to know how these people tick. Too bad we can’t don a pith helmet and hide behind some bushes and film these folks in their natural habitat like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I fear it wouldn’t be too exciting. It would just be some random person looking down at a phone. Boring!

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Rants

Service

img_1018Did you just hear a screech?  Yep, it’s the sound of me dragging my soapbox out of the closet.  Today’s topic is near and dear to my heart.  We are talking about service animals. It was recently announced the Department of Transportation is thinking of banning emotional support animals on airlines.  This rule has a lot of people breaking out their opinions and I’m about to take mine out for a rant.

For the record, I don’t require a service animal.  However, I have a very dear forever friend whose husband requires a medical alert dog.  In fact, he’s on his second dog. The first dog, Katie, spent 9 of her 11 years taking care of my friend’s husband.  After Katie died my friend’s husband really struggled healthwise. Now, they have Stuart and though he’s only been with the family about a year he’s come to the rescue in some very close calls. If it had not been for these highly trained dogs my friend’s husband would probably be dead.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is a family member who has the funniest dog in the world.  This dog has her own Instagram page.  She is friendly, engaging, and has met more minor celebrities than most humans will ever meet in their lifetime.  It’s not a stretch to say this dog is practically this family member’s furry child. I would say this dog is better behaved than 90% of all under 5 year olds I have ever met. However, this dog is not a service animal. This dog has had basic obedience training but has not had the costly and extensive training to be a service animal.  Yet, this dog boards a plane regularly proudly wearing her orange service dog vest purchased from Amazon (as seen in the picture for this blog). My family member laughs and says the dog is an emotional support dog. Yet, the human has flown without a dog many times before and has done just fine.  The fact of the matter is this family member doesn’t want to put the dog in the cargo with the luggage and because of the dog’s size can’t bring it on board in a carrier.

This entitled, blatant disregard for the rules just burns my ass. I understand why it happens. Air travel is so much cheaper than car travel when it’s only one ticket. And, air travel is so much more efficient if the drive is over four hours.  So, to make it more convenient for the humans involved, so many owners are completely bypassing the rules. Many people don’t understand what the big deal is about.  So what if someone breaks the rules. But, if you’ve flown in the last five years chances are you’ve seen a fake service dog in action. They bark, whine, snap and growl at any little thing, unlike real service dogs.  And, these fake service animals are making it hard on the real ones.  People have encounters with fake ones acting up and they assume every service dog will act up thus creating more prejudice and strife. Plus, all of this federal legislation will only make it harder for those that medically need their service animal. Every time the government gets involved in something they find a new way to tax and otherwise screw up the system.  Is it so hard to do the right thing, folks?  This is why we can’t have nice things – entitled folks who feel they are above the rules.

If you feel as passionately about this subject as I do, I invite you to comment here on the Department of Transportation website. This is not a vote. It is merely a way for your voice to be heard while the Department of Transportation debates this topic.  If you’d like more information, this article by the Washington Post is very informative.

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Musing

Kobe

candlelight candles

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

I’m not a sports fan – like not at all. Over the years my kids have played nearly every competitive sport known to man but I have never been a fan. I wanted my kids to run around, get exercise and work out their competitive streaks. Having said that, I know who Kobe Bryant is and this crash has me shook. The boys I grew up with in high school were heavy into basketball.  I remember when Michael Jordan and Shaq where kings and Kobe was the new kid. He is not that much younger than me.  It’s hard when someone in your age group perishes so suddenly.  But, it’s not just his age that has me shook. No, it’s all the other things.

It was just released today that not only was Kobe and his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, killed but also a couple of Gianna’s teammates and some of their parents and coaches as well as the pilot. They were going to a travel basketball event.  Many of my friends and family members do travel sports with their kids. I took care of my boss’s dogs this past weekend because her three kids were all at travel ballgames and she would be away from her house for over 12 hours. The same could have happened to my boss, or my cousin or my brother and sister in law all of whom were gone to ballgames this weekend. That hit hard.

Also, I too, have a 13 year old daughter. The thought of losing her to some freak accident makes my stomach churn.  Gianna’s mother had no idea she was saying goodbye to her baby girl for the last time that day. The thought of that alone just wrecks me. One should never have to bury a child yet it happens every day.

Then, I remembered Kobe was not only married but also had other children at home. And, the other people on board also left family behind. I can’t imagine going about your day and then all of the sudden half of your family is dead. At some point, we all bury a family member but thankful it’s usually due to a tragedy like what happened yesterday.  I can’t imagine what those left behind are feeling right now. The pain, the grief, the holding it together for your surviving family especially when the survivors are children and are having a hard time processing their grief as well. My heart goes to all of those left behind. I pray I and whoever is reading this never have to endure that type of heartache.

We say ‘hug your family a little closer’ when this kind of thing happens.  It sounds trite but it’s true. One never knows when the last goodbye will come. So, hug those closest to you a little tighter the next time you see them.

 

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Recommendations

January Podcast Rec

black headphones with mobile smartphone

About a year ago, a forever friend turned me on to podcasts.  She and I have similar tastes in literature so I knew I’d love anything she recommended.  The first thing she told me about was Believed.  It’s super heavy but very good.  You can find a review here.  I’m up to date on my current podcasts and was looking to find something new in the meantime.  Of course, I turned to my trusty pusher, err I mean friend, and she came up with another heavy but good one called The Mysterious Mr. Epstein.

Look, I know what you’re thinking because it was probably the same thing I was thinking. Do I really want to hear about some skirt chasing, Chester the molester rich guy? Eww, no probably not. But, the story is much more than that.  All of us are vaguely familiar with the situation if you read anything remotely close to the news or social media but this is a deep dive.  This podcast talks not only about Epstein’s social climb but also his involvement with heavy hitters like the Clintons, Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos to name a few.  The podcast talks about the payouts of law enforcement and lawyers.  In his last days, he kept various attorneys on retainer to keep him company in private meeting rooms so he wouldn’t have to sit in his cell. He was above the rules because he could afford to buy his way out of the rules.

Right after the whole Epstein case broke and he was arrested I mentioned to my hubby that heads were about to roll.  Either Epstein’s little black book would ruin lives and careers or he’d end up dead.  Sure enough, Epstein was found dead a few weeks after he was arrested. I laughed along with others at the ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself’ memes but after listening to this podcast I’m not laughing.  There’s no way in the world a sociopath and narcissist of that magnitude would have offed himself.  That man not only felt but knew he was above the law.  He had cheated punishment too many times.  Someone or someones in high places wanted to make damn sure their lives and careers weren’t ruined so they eliminated the problem.  I doubt we will ever know who was behind it.  We can all make our assumptions but you know the old saying about assuming things.

You can find The Mysterious Mr. Epstein in the usual places you find podcasts. It’s pretty short – only 7 episodes long. If you decide to listen, I’d love to know what you think.

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Musing

Worry

photo of woman covering her face

Worry. It’s such a small word for such a big emotion.  We worry about so many things all day long – from little things like what am I going to make for dinner to giant things like how am I going to afford to pay the rent and put food on the table this week. Many spiritual texts will tell you not to worry because other forces are in control. I have yet to meet any person who has heard that advice and truly taken it.  I mean like for real taken it. They may know God or whoever is ultimately in control but deep down the thoughts and self talk still happens. So, what all is there to worry about and how does one cope?

This past weeks’ events in the Middle East has many worried. World War III has been bandied about quite a bit. Politics in our nation has many worried. Some would say the environment/climate change is a major concern.  Others would tell you that securing our borders and providing more jobs with a living wage should be a main concern.  While still others would say affordable housing and healthcare should have us all lying awake at night. Economists are warning about a financial correction.  These scenarios alone are enough to give anyone an ulcer. But most of us are worried about the stuff a little closer to home.  We’re worried about things like paying the bills, getting to work on time and how we are going to be in three places at once any given day.  And, while we are ticking off all the things we should be worried about let’s think about shoulds be doings like self care, staying in shape, eating right, keeping in touch with friends and relatives, making time to keep our romantic relationships alive and not to mention parenting a child or taking care of an aging relative. Have you started hyperventilating into a bag yet? Has panic set in while you count up all the stuff you think you should be worried about?

I ask all this because I had an ah-ha moment the other day. We cannot worry about everything. We physically just can’t. There is not enough time, brainpower or energy in our bodies to worry about everything that we “should be worried about” all the time. One must pick and choose what is important in life at that moment and focus or worry about that.  It seems like a foregone conclusion that one can’t worry about everything yet most days, myself included, we are inundated with real worries and contrive worries and life feels like one endless worry.  I love how all the gurus and self-helpers are out there telling us we need to read their book or buy their program to help us manage all the worry.  As if they have a lock on a damn thing.  Maybe that’s what all those spiritual texts mean when they talk about letting go and letting the higher power take care of things. Maybe it’s just the realization that we cannot think about another thing at this moment no matter how critical someone else thinks it is.  I have to admit I don’t know where all this is coming from – maybe it’s middle age talking or maybe it truly is an ah-ha moment but I cannot waste any more brain power on every little thing.  And, I refuse to feel guilty for not wringing my hands over what someone else thinks I should worry about.  So what that I drank a diet coke (poison) and I threw the can in the trash instead of recycling it (environmental monster) all while eating a candy bar (carbs) and ignoring the latest boneheaded thing a politician said. I cannot be concerned. I will do better tomorrow or I won’t but I can’t be worried about it. Sure, I’m still going to worry about something things.  I have a few biggies floating around in my brain right now but all I can do is work toward a good solution to those issues I’m worried about and try my best.  In the end, isn’t that all any of us can do? Try your best.

NOTE: My usual posting day is Wednesday.  I’m early this week as this week is really chaotic.
Photo Credit:  Free from the internet – Pexels.com

 

 

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