Monthly Archives: September 2020

Lightning win Stanley Cup; outside Dallas, let’s all be happy for a nice moment in 2020

If I weren’t home every damn day, I wouldn’t remember where I was last Tuesday. But I remember October 27, 1986.

I was in Plattsburgh, New York, visiting people I’d gone to college with for a couple of years. We had dinner–bitched about the dining hall food probably, then played volleyball.

Then everyone else retreated back to their dorm rooms–it was a Monday and they had classes. I went to the on-campus bar and watched the World Series. It was the sixth inning when I got there and the Mets were behind 3-0.

“I’m not worried. They’re gonna win.” I knew it. I had no doubt my team would be champions–an odd thought process for a Mets fan (who’s also a Jets fan).

It was 34 years ago, so the details fade, but I wound up talking with a Red Sox fan–a cute blonde, and making peace. We had a mutual hatred of the Yankees in common, after all.

And then Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett, Vin Scully said, “Got ‘im!”, Orosco fell to his knees and threw his glove to the heavens, and pandemonium ensued.

I’d had a few by then, and it was a long time ago. But I remember people pouring beer on me in the same way you get sprayed with champagne. The Red Sox fan faded into the night, to suffer another 18 years before her moment of glory.

More than half a life ago, I still remember, down to the shirt I wore that night.

Last night, as I write this, my son was at the Ice Palace (for that’s its rightful name) in Tampa at a socially distant watch party. The Tampa Bay Lighting–his team–were up three games to one over Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup finals.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock as the Lightning wrapped up their second championship, most of his friends were home–they had work the next day. He was there alone, but not really.

It’s been 34 years since I tasted that beer dumped on my head. It tasted wonderful. The next day, I got up and came home to work–I worked at a small supermarket then.

The Mets had a relatively young team and a good farm system. No one had an incredible year. I was certain they’d be back, so I was relatively low-key about it.

It’s been 34 years and while the Mets have been back to the World Series twice, they haven’t won it all again. The players have aged, as champions do. Some have had legal problems. Catcher Gary Carter died of brain cancer.

The world went on, that sparkling night in autumn becoming a fading memory to a dwindling number of people.

A championship is a rare and wonderful thing. My primary teams have won three of them–two before I was old enough to notice. But decades later, I can still go back to that night. I can still remember the bar, the Red Sox fan, the taste of the beer. And the joy that erupted when the end came on that little TV up in the corner.

Maybe my son’s experience will be different than mine. Maybe his team will be back and win some more. Maybe it’ll be a new dynasty. But those are even more rare than a single championship.

In 2020, we all need our moments of triumph

For now, his team won. He came home hoarse and was up late. Work will be hard today, given the short night.

And in a year of dumpster fires, wildfires, murder hornets, and strife, this will emerge as a treasured memory he cherishes long after the last player retires.


President Trump’s debt is a massive security threat

President Trump’s level of debt represents a massive security risk for this country, regardless of his politics. He shouldn’t have a security clearance. He shouldn’t be our President.

For a few years, I had a US government security clearance. It cost my employer at the time about $20,000 to obtain, and while the clearance process was ongoing, I couldn’t do much in the way of real work. My employer paid me to look busy for a few months.

It’s a big deal.

If you don’t pass the security clearance process–if the government determines you’re a security threat–you lose your job. If you’re found to have committed a security violation, you could lose your job.

When Bill Clinton was going through his entire parade of sexual dalliances, my primary complaint was that his actions were blackmailable. If I had done the same things, I’d lose my clearance and my job.

And I wasn’t $300 million in debt.

Depending on who you believe, the President holds between $300 million and $1.1 billion in debt. That’s a massive national security problem.

The New York Times was able to obtain nearly 20 years of Donald Trump’s tax returns. While the biggest headline is that he twice paid $750 in federal taxes, the most damning is his actual debt load.

The $300 million are the loans he’s personally responsible for over the next four years. He might also be on the hook for more than $100 million if the government decides he improperly received a $72.9 million refund during the Great Recession. (And that’s before his aggressive approach to write-offs is examined.)

One writer estimates that he’s $1.1 billion in debt.

An article in The Week says that much of Trump’s debt could be considered toxic–that no bank (outside maybe Deutsche Bank) would touch his debt, leaving him reliant on hedge funds or other more predatory lenders.

Or on favors by foreign leaders in exchange for certain…considerations.

When you’re working with security clearances, appearance is as important as reality. Even if you scream that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine, the potential is there for a lot of it with other leaders.

Pick any of the numbers above–$300 million, the $421 million most typically quoted, or the $1.1 billion referenced by Yahoo. Anyone with that level of debt would be tempted to make a deal on that debt, even if it wasn’t in the best interest of the country.

Even if an American citizen were to pull his fat out of the fire and front him the money, the conflict of interest would be immeasurable.

That’s the logic that applies to security clearances.

I stand by my assessment of Bill Clinton–the affair with Monica Lewinsky, the alleged rape of Kathleen Willey, all of it–was blackmailable. If that’s the case, then how much more are hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

To be fair, if Donald Trump is worth $10 billion, as he assets, a billion dollars in debt isn’t that big a deal. There’s a simple way to prove that worth–open your books, starting with the tax returns. By keeping those books closed, Donald Trump is providing leverage for those who might want to exercise it. If your financial well-being is in question, you’d tend to attract people who offer you the world, in exchange for something even more valuable.

The President’s debt, or even the perception of that much debt, is putting this country at risk. Period. You or I would not get or keep a security clearance under similar circumstances. His security clearance is not in this country’s best interests.

This is not a political statement. It has nothing to do with President Trump’s stance on a single political issue.

Even complete agreement with everything he’s done since taking office can’t erase this threat to national security.


Online love (not that kind), that’s where it’s at…

We live in a fast-paced culture. Now takes too long. We have information at our fingertips. The correct interpretation of the facts I found on my favorite website–the one that agrees with me–is obvious. You must agree or something’s wrong with you. You suck. You hate America and black people and puppies. You monster.

I’ve done this. Maybe you have, too.

The message at church this week was about our collective presence on social media. About my social media presence.

As Christians, our job is to go and make disciples. Here’s what the employee handbook says:

  • Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
  • If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.
  • Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

Sometimes I’m not great at that. Sometimes I lose my mind online. When that happens, I get really sarcastic and kind of nasty. It’s not a pretty picture. There’s nothing specific about online schmuckiness in the Bible, but there doesn’t have to be. I know it’s wrong.

Jesus showed me this button. And he is Jewish, so…

So if you read what I write and feel belittled, reduced, or invisible, I apologize. That’s not what I want to be about. And it sure as hell isn’t in the employee manual.

I wish I could tell you it won’t happen again, but that would be a lie. It’s a tough world right now. I’m not the only one who loses it from time to time. But I’ll try not to.

There’s so much noise right now. It’s hard to be empathetic when you’re swimming in a sea of rage. I do my best not to add to the rage, but I’ll fall short sometimes.

Disagreement with condemnation is virtue masturbation. It makes you feel really, really good for a bit, but it’s ultimately empty. It just builds a bigger wall. So I’ll try to remember the second bullet above–the part of about gentle and respectful.

It’s my job after all. The pay isn’t fabulous sometimes, but I’m told the retirement package isn’t bad.

I don’t want to get there and be alone. Even if you disagree with me on politics, race, and (yes) the Yankees, it’ll be better if you’re there, too.

And if you’re willing to talk to me.


Feeling powerless? Help someone.

Author Amy Cuddy and the Wonder Woman pose.

I’m currently reading a book called Presence by Amy Cuddy. It’s about our personal power and how we can use that personal power to be more resilient, be our authentic selves, and leave a better mark on the world.

About a third of the way through the book, it talks about anxiety and being self-absorbed. When we’re feeling powerless, we tend to be self-absorbed. We focus on our limitations and our inabilities. We make the threats facing us seem bigger and the odds of our success, or even survival, smaller.

Which brings me back to Michael Westen.

Yeah, it’s another Michael Westen post.

If anyone has reason to feel powerless, it’s him. While on a mission for his country in Nigeria, he’s disavowed as a spy. He’s left in the cold in the middle of a mission. Only through his own cunning does he survive, but he’s severely beaten, passing out on an airplane and waking up in a dive hotel in Miami.

The series documents his desire to find out who burned him, get his job back, and achieve justice. It includes two story arcs: the adventure of the week–typically someone who needs Michael’s special kind of help (he used to be a spy, after all) and the larger arc of his quest to be restored.

As I watched, I thought the adventure of the week was a distraction sometimes. It got in the way of the bigger, more compelling story. But the adventure of the week was key to his ability to work against the huge, faceless conspiracy working against him.

In other words, it was helping people against gangs, ruthless CEOs, and Miami’s second-biggest heroin dealer that gave him the personal power to do the bigger work. Without the victories in the smaller jobs, the weight of the bigger job would’ve crushed him.

Same with us, especially in the surreal Covid-divided world we live in. If there was ever a time when we felt powerless against a huge, unfeeling threat, it’s now. The Covid doesn’t feel empathy. That’s because it’s a virus. It can’t. (It also doesn’t seek out people who disrespect it to teach them a lesson.)

The Covid: unfeeling asshole

Much of the reaction against it–the lashing out about masks and quarantines–is a function of people who feel powerless and terrified. They rail against living in fear because that’s what they fear the most. Not the fear, but the powerlessness they feel every day. Pitching a fit in Trader Joe’s about their masks is a way to get back some level of power, if even for a fleeting second.

Maybe it’s not about masks, but a lot of people have had a Trader Joe’s Karen moment

I have moments like that–but they’re not mask-related. They aren’t in Trader Joe’s, aimed at some poor guy whose job is bagging groceries (that’s to say, he’s not in charge of corporate mask policy). They happen when I’m afraid and overwhelmed–something choking us this year.

To take the Michael Westen example, maybe I need to help someone out when that happens. I can’t blow up cars to bring down a neighborhood ganglord. But I’m sure there’s something I can do to help people.


What about the warrant process that resulted in Breonna Taylor’s death?

Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker

It’s the middle of the night. You’re asleep. There’s commotion outside–voices.

You blink away the sleep. They’re just outside. Yelling. The words–muffled–don’t register.

You’re awake now, mostly. Someone’s out there. You have a gun. Holy hell–what’s happening? The gun’s in your hand.

There’s a loud bang. More voices. You’re heart’s pounding. Your girlfriend, clutching your arm. You’re up. Gun in hand. Moving. She’s next to you.

Go to bed. Hide.

But she’s still there. Your thoughts, never spoken.

In the hallway now. It’s dark. Men there. They shouldn’t be. Gun in your hand.

What do you do? Shoot? Save yourself? Save her?

Or wait and find out if they’re cops?

If I put myself in Kenneth Walker’s position (he’s Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend), I don’t see a different outcome. It’s the middle of the night. You just woke up. You’re disoriented.

I’ve been told some warrants are served late at night for just that reason, for the disorientation. Maybe that’s not the best thing. This warrant was to search property, not arrest someone.

A Louisville grand jury this week declined to charge three police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Based on what I’ve read, the decision seemed appropriate. You can’t apply law based on emotion. The law says what it says.

That doesn’t mean the Louisville Metro Police Department is off the hook.

It’s a tense time right now for everyone, cops included. But the police department initiates these situations. They’re the organization trained to deal with them. They’re the ones who’ve been through simulations. They’re the ones trained in de-escalation (or they should be). They’re the ones who regularly face danger as part of their job.

The Kenneth Walkers of the world have no training. The burden should not be on him to instantly understand the bigger context and de-escalate. Under any scenario, he’s terrified. And he has no training or experience to fall back on.

While it’s possible Walker wanted to kill some cops, it seems unlikely. You’re standing next to your girlfriend in a hallway–trapped, more or less. If you fire on cops, you’re both very likely to die.

If you fire on the people who broke into your apartment? That’s a different story.

At this point, you might say Walker and Taylor’s decisions led to this point. But Walker has no criminal record. Taylor once dated Jarmarcus Glover, a subject of the investigation that generated the warrant, and was his friend. Being shot to death seems a high price to pay for that friendship.

If you question Taylor and Walker’s decisions before that night, you have to question law enforcement’s, too. The postal service never determined that drugs were going to Taylor’s apartment–they found otherwise. Taylor’s car was seen parked at Glover’s house on several occasions. Being friends with a drug dealer isn’t a crime, though. And no drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.

A higher burden should fall on the law-enforcement apparatus. Their decisions are made from a position of professional expertise.

According to the grand jury, with the exception of Detective Brett Hankison, who was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, the police on scene didn’t violate the law.

What could’ve been done upstream to create a different outcome?

Why was the warrant served even after the postal service denied there was evidence of drugs being sent to Taylor’s apartment? Why were the officers directed there in the middle of the night to search an apartment?

If you’re a police officer serving a warrant, your life is at risk. Every step should be taken to reduce that risk to you and to the people around you. Taylor wasn’t armed. Neither were the people in the apartments around her.

Public reaction is antagonistic to the grand jury’s findings. What if the Taylor, Walker, the people in adjoining apartments, and the detectives should never have been put in that position to begin with?

Shouldn’t the safety of all–civilians and police–be a deciding factor in when and how to issue and execute warrants?

If accountability is applied to and built into the upstream process, maybe some level of justice will have been served.


If Trump loses and doesn’t leave office, stick a fork in this country. It’s done.

The Trump campaign is reportedly ‘discussing contingency plans to bypass election results’

That’s a headline for a story in The Week.

Focus on the last three words. The President of the United States wants to ignore election results if he loses. He refuses to say he’ll leave office if Biden wins.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a shock. President Trump has already said there are two possible election outcomes: he wins, or the election is rigged. This, in spite of a razor-thin margin in 2016, every significant poll indicating Joe Biden leads, and approval numbers that rarely rise much about 40 percent.

The green line is is approval rating.

We don’t run the election based on polling. The results are the results. Except in this case, when the results only seem to count if the President wins. By his own definition, he cannot lose. Sort of like Saddam Hussein.

Guy who took a similar approach to elections

And now members of the administration are looking into ways to ignore the election results. Basically, if the results aren’t certified by December 14, the state legislatures have the right to appoint their own electors–meaning if the Republicans hold the legislature, they can send a slate off pro-Trump electors, regardless of the results in that state. It’s called Safe Harbor, a relic of the 1887 Electoral Count Act.

While it makes the actions listed above technically legal, President Trump seems to be doing everything in his power to delay any certification for as long as possible.

Through a technicality, he seems to believe that as President, the rules don’t apply to him. He has said, infamously, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” That statement was made regarding testing for the Covid With regard to Kim Jong Un, he said if he’s wrong, he’d probably find some kind of excuse.

If he loses, he’ll probably find some kind of excuse. Also, holy hell.

In other words, if he loses the election, he’s not responsible for that; he takes no responsibility. He’s Donald Trump, so he wins, by whatever means are necessary to achieve that win.

But, you reply, the mail-in ballots are going to be a mess. You heard about this guy who received three ballots.

The President caused the crisis he’s using to question the election results. His direction hamstrung the postal service. He’s the one who called for mail sorters to be taken off line. If the intent wasn’t to reduce the integrity of the election, the result certainly is.

I’m tired of the President denigrating the unifahm my postal brothers and sister wear so proudly, Sammy. Pass the beer nuts.

If the results of the election are in question, why is the assumption that he’s the victim? Why would a questioned result necessary hurt his vote total and not Joe Biden’s? It goes back to rule 1: Donald Trump always wins, a loss is invalid (we just need to figure out how to do it).

Winner of the 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, and 2036 elections. We just haven’t figured out how yet.

If President Trump remains in office in spite of losing the election, what will stop him from overriding the Constitution again for that third term he’s stated he’s entitled to. And any additional terms beyond that.

If he loses and stays in office, it will mark the end of this country as a republic. The other branches of goverment will whither away and die. And Trump will rule with an iron fist.

Somehow the definition of patriotism requires you to be okay with all that.


Michael Westen school of management lab: One crisis at a time

He’s Michael Westen, and he used to be a spy.

Michael Westen, the guy who used to be a spy: When you’re a spy, when an operations goes south, it’s rarely just one crisis. A series of smaller crises can overwhelm you if you try to solve them all. You’re better served breaking them down and hitting them one at a time until they’re resolved or you’re dead. So far, I’m not dead.

The lab in real life

In the space of half a day, the following things happened:

  • My phone stopped being able to charge.
  • When I ordered the replacement, the credit card company rejected the charge.
  • A bug in AT&T’s fulfillment system prevented them from cancelling the order.
  • Even if they could, they told me I’m not authorized to cancel the order or ask them to re-run the credit card.
  • They also told me they can’t tell me who is authorized so I can work with them.
  • Then, overnight, an update got pushed to my phone that stopped me from receiving work email.

It was a big friggin shit storm with enough failures that it felt like all I could do was let it crush me. I started the day angry and frustrated. That’s a bit of a luxury right now.

So I wrote down each of the problems and tackled them that way. (It would be better if I were a spy, because I could use C4 explosives to help fix the problem.)

  • I Googled phone not charging and the website said I should use a wireless charger (duh). Problem solved. It was slow and a pain in the ass, but it works and that’s a win right now. And a win is not a loss.
  • I fiddled a little more with the mail until it worked. The main impediment (a code I was supposed to enter that I didn’t have) went away.
  • I called the credit card company and asked them to work with me on not cancelling every (damn) charge. I didn’t say damn, though. Or any other word like that. Done.
  • It took several calls, but I finally found someone at AT&T who can cancel the order. As soon as that flows back into the corporate system I’ll be able to re-order.
  • Then I can see if the cancellation flows back into our corporate system. And make the appropriate calls if it doesn’t.

I’m not there at the moment, but I’m closer than I was. It might get resolved tomorrow morning.

So what did I do?

  1. Took one crisis at a time, which meant I had to break them down.
  2. Took the win as a win. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass to charge wirelessly. My wireless sweet spot seems to be shrinking, but that’s okay. For now, I’m functional and that’s enough.
  3. Understood that when I got into discussions with AT&T, it would be a pain in the ass.
  4. Stopped after each setback and took stock of next possibilities.
  5. Walked away when necessary.

None of this is rocket science. It’s all basic. Maybe you already do this, but it’s a step for me. And it started with the concept of One crisis at a time.

It’s a better outcome than it could be. And that’s enough for the moment.


Skidmore College prof keeps job after (gasp!) watching a Back the Blue Rally

David Peterson almost lost his job as a professor at Skidmore College, a small, private institution of higher, uhh, learning near Saratoga, New York. His status was up in the air after an investigation into student complaints that he was seen at a Blue Lives Matter rally. He and his wife didn’t participate, but watched.

David Peterson was investigated by Skidmore College because students saw him (gasp!) watching a Blue Lives Matter rally in Saratoga.

That’s enough for students to call for Peterson’s removal. They include his wife’s attendance as part of the reason for that demand. When questioned about the event by a student named Samantha Sasenarine, Peterson said he was in Congress Park in downtown Saratoga while the rally happened because he was curious about it and wanted to see for himself what was happening.

Skidmore students demanding Peterson’s job, among other things.

For this, his job was demanded. At an institution of higher learning. Learning is a practice that involves exposing yourself to things you don’t know so you expand what you know. It involves challenging your perceptions. It means potentially straying from an inflexible orthodoxy of thought.

Skidmore should be credited for this decision.

According to the students, the only stance that merits employment is blind allegiance to their orthodoxy. Investigating something they consider counter to that orthodoxy means you need to go away. When students at a small upstate New York college do this, they’re ridiculed.

When they graduate and enough of them take power positions, careers are ruined. If enough of them get the right positions, people disappear.

Sure, that’s hyperbole, but no one is asserting that Peterson and his wife actually participated in the rally or supported its message. Just being exposed to it without actively denouncing it is enough to be forced out.

While much of what passes for cancel culture is cover for people acting like schmucks, it does exist. And as cute as it is to think so, it’s not just Trump demanding that journalists who question him be fired. David Peterson is proof.

Wanting to solve problems includes understanding that you don’t know everything about the circumstances around the problem. While some cops (Derek Chauvin comes to mind) are racist, murderous bastards, many are not. The two sheriff’s deputies gunned down in Los Angeles come to mind.

Should you lose your job for stopping short of publicly condemning them? Even if you work for an institution of higher learning? Would the guy displayed below?

When these students get jobs, what happens to the guy who has a Trump bumper sticker? Or who attends a rally because their spouse is a cop? Should people be unemployable for these perceived sins?

The First Amendment doesn’t protect your job over those things. So the adults have to.

Unfortunately, these enlightened, righteously certain souls are tomorrow’s adults.

(If you’re a Skidmore student, you can report my horrible, racist post here. It’s also posted on Facebook and Twitter. I like to help people.)


When you get fired for this, you aren’t being canceled

Chicago sports radio station WSCR (The Score) fired host Dan McNeil after he tweeted that ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor’s wardrobe made her look like she was hosting the AVN (Adult Video News) awards.

ESPN’s Maria Taylor

It’s the end of the third stint for McNeil at the Score, with jobs at other stationed sandwiched between. He was the afternoon drive host (along with Terry Booers) when I lived in Chicago and listened every afternoon. Their Who Ya Crappin? segment was among my favorite radio segments ever.

Former Score host Dan McNeil

It’s been a while, but I liked Dan McNeil’s work. But he wasn’t cancelled for his remarks. His employer decided after multiple outbursts over the years that they’d had enough.

If he’s a victim, it’s to his own impulses and lack of discipline in public statements. He specifically referenced sexuality in dismissing her. That’s been the lever men have used to keep women out of sports for years.

Women are making strides in mens sports. Gone are the days when reporters like Lisa Olson have NFL players like Zeke Mowatt (New England Patriots) fondle himself in front of her in an effort to push her out of the locker room.

Maria Taylor is a professional doing her job. She covers the NBA and NFL for ESPN after working for its SEC Network. For McNeil to disparage her with a reference to the adult entertainment industry dismisses her gains by implying she’s there because she fills out the corporate blazer nicely.

To be clear, McNeil isn’t alone. NBC’s Mike Milbury stepped away after repeated sexist remarks. They suspended Jeremy Roenick after he made an on-air comment about a threesome with co-host Kathryn Tappen. Even at the Score, host Dan Bernstein has been suspended for comments about Chicago female TV hosts’ sex lives.

I don’t know Maria Taylor’s work, but I’m familiar with Los Angeles Chargers sideline reporter Shannon Farren’s work. I listen to her on the KFI (Los Angeles) Gary and Shannon show. She knows more about football than most men I know–more than her co-host Gary Hoffman (no slouch himself).

Chargers sideline reporter Shannon Farren

She lights up when she talks about football and went so far as buying a St. Louis Battlehawks jersey because while it’s not NFL-level, the XFL is football. My attention to the game isn’t what it once was, but I enjoy listening to her excitement and joy at being part of it all. She works hard at it and is good at her job.

Since (former Tampa news anchor) Gayle Sierens was the first woman to call an NFL game (for NBC in 1987), women have come a long way in covering sports on air.

Beyond that, both the San Fransisco Giants and 49ers have women on their coaching staff. If they can do the job to the satisfaction of their employers, they deserve to be there. All of them.

They deserve more.

For his part, McNeil seems to recognize that. It took him a few days, but he’s apologized to Taylor for his remark.

Overall, guys like McNeil and Roenick are in the same business as Maria Taylor and Shannon Farren. They deserve respect from their co-workers.

It’s not 1980 any more. And it wasn’t okay then.


Yes, others have it worse. No, you aren’t a bad person for your anger

As I write this, I’m sitting at the kitchen table, watching church on my phone for the 4,815,162,342nd week in a row. For the second week in a row, there are people in church. In the new sanctuary that was completed back in March. It was supposed to be a big deal to see the stupid thing.

I just want to frigging go to church. Or take my frigging laptop to frigging Panera and write for a while some afternoon. Or go to a bar and have a beer or two while I watch the games and talk to people I don’t know.

Remember going to a bar?

Is that too much to ask?

In 2020, the answer is obviously yes. And how dare I bitch about it.

There are people holed up in a motel room they can’t afford while they watch the local news for some drone footage that might tell them if their house burned down with everything they own. Or who had the let the flood insurance lapse before the 36 inches of rain fell on their house last week.

People are dealing with this and poor widdle Chris can’t go to church.

There are people dying alone in ICUs because they have the Covid and their family members can’t be with them. Or shut up alone in an assisted-living center because of the no-visitation rules. And don’t forget that guy who just lost his business because of the economic downturn. Bankruptcy is likely and the kids might just have to do without college because of it.

And I’m pissed off and grieving about church? Wouldn’t Jesus demand a little empathy for people who have real problems? Wouldn’t he tell me (and maybe you) to get our heads out of our asses and look at the world around us?

Maybe.

Or maybe you can’t be present to help people through their hard time until you’re present to yourself.

Before any of that crap, 2020 has been a hard year. We’ve lost half a year. Sitting inside away from people–only having human contact on the stupid Zoom calls isn’t how we’re built.

The anger and grief over stupid stuff like not going to damn church isn’t stupid. It’s real and it’s big. And it’s exhausting.

As a friend of mine said years ago, “A car can’t run without gas.”

If you’re feeling bad about feeling bad, cut yourself a break a little. It’s not wrong to be angry or sad about this year. And ignoring it won’t make it go away.

Honestly starts with yourself. So does kindness.

Be honest. And kind. Start with yourself and understand you won’t be Mister Rogers every day.

The only way to get past my anger and grief is to acknowledge it–to deal with the stupid frigging log in my eye so I’m available to help you, if you want, with the spec in yours.