Thursday, November 10, 2016

4 Years...

Trump & the GOP will control all 3 branches of the US government for the next 4 years (Dems aren’t picking up the Senate or House in 2018).  GOP lawmakers will do whatever he says, he’s too popular right now that his threat to go after them will have them towing the line.  Things will change

Here are my Trumped Up Predictions: 

Extremely Likely: 
* Tax Reform – Taxes on the rich and businesses drop, taxes on lower middle class w/families stay flat (they don’t rise as his tax plan actually layed out)
* Deficit – Greater than $1bn in at least 1 year during this first term. But that’s ok, Obama’s been trying to deficit spend for years.  Economy needs the stimulus.
* Climate – COMPLETELY FUCKED – Paris accord is gone – Head of EPA is a climate change denier.
* Drill baby drill – He will make it very easy for private companies to extract resources from public/federal land.  Pipelines, etc.
* TPP – Not going to happen (But who really cares about IP rights for US corporations overseas) It was never really that big of a deal at all and probably a net neutral event. And it wasn't even with CHINA, Lol
* Supreme Court – Flips back to Conservative from 4-4, could get worse w/some old liberals on the bench. My guess is Roberts gets a little more liberal.
* Immigration:  No doubt legal and illegal immigration will slow / Refugees from “terror prone” areas are not coming
* 1st Amendment: Very likely Trump goes after reporters or blacklist reporters who critique him. He has the power of the FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, FTC, FCC… he can do damage.  Think Bezos who owns Amazon and the Washington Post.  Would the FBI or lawmakers stop him?  Doubtful.
* Treasuries - Already reflecting the above deficit expectations, with the biggest drop in 30+ years yesterday.

Somewhat Likely: 
* Obamacare – Gone, or stripped.  I’m not 100% convinced that the GOP is willing to throw 20mm people off their insurance (most users actually like their plans).  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was replaced w/something that looks very very similar to Obamacare.  My guess, no mandate but must cover preexisting conditions.  Perhaps there will be subsidies for the insurance companies to take the preexisting vs subsidies to the poor to fulfill the mandate. This is literally a shot on the dark guess for me.
* Infrastructure Spending – Unclear of GOP will support this w/o it the costs being offset somewhere else.  Not sure Dems will support it if the costs are somewhere else.
* Ukraine / Baltics – They will become part of Russia again.
* Mexico Wall – We will pay for it (though perhaps from taxes on Western Union to Mexico) – It won’t be 50 ft tall or across the entire border, but something will start being built so Trump can say he did
* Immigration – Increased or targeted deportations.  Targeted is exactly what Obama wanted to do that was rejected by the courts, but guess who will control the courts.
* Abortion - No doubt there will be new restrictions, perhaps on a national level. Outlawing isn’t likely.
* Equality - While he will likely nominate SC justices who are against equality, that ship has sailed. However, “Religious freedom” laws seem somewhat likely, allowing vendors to discriminate due to their religion.  We will see what the SC says about them.
* Welfare/Food Stamps/Unemployment Insurance: Due to the deficit explosion, something will have to be cut, these will be the first to go.
* Appoints a special prosecutor to cross the T's and dot the I's on Clinton, she doesn't go to jail. (Obama could pardon her beforehand to just end the charade).

Somewhat Unlikely: 
* NATO – Not going anywhere, though it may be seen as weaker
* NAFTA – Not going anywhere, would just kill our economy (never actually lost jobs b/c of it, just politics, not economics)
* CHINA – Not renegotiating old trade deals – (Though he may label them a currency manipulator, which they are, just like Switzerland)
* Comprehensive Immigration Reform – There’s a shot, anything’s possible.  Could have path to citizenship w/many many caveats.
* Mass Deportations – We’re already deporting 400,000 people a year and net illegal immigration is flat to negative, no need to create a immigration police force. New immigrants are going to stop coming.
* End Offshoring – He wants tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas. Not gonna happen. GOP isn’t raising taxes, and doing something “anti-business” in the process.
* Social Security / Medicare - Not likely to do anything to fix / improve the health of these programs. Maybe there will be some means testing, but they aren't raising taxes or cutting benefits.

* Term limits for congress – We already have them, they’re called elections. And Congress isn’t going to vote themselves out.

* Convicted of fraud (Trump University) but not impeached b/c GOP controls congress.
* Not convicted of child rape (Trial next month)
* Nothing changes

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fuck Facebook Father's Day?

I've previously posted on my thoughts on my own Father's Day experience (and how it's a joke compared to Mother's day) but recently my reflections about this day, and Mother's day, have drifted from my own parents (and myself as a parent) to those who've lost a father or mother.

I think about everyone from my family members to coworkers, from old friends to new... all of whom have  lost a parent, or spouse, or child too young.... too tragically. Maybe I'm being morbid, but I think about my own parents, who are orphans now, and how they feel, and how I would feel if I lost them (furiously knocking on wood).  I wonder if the joy of having children on a Parent's Day can outweigh the heavy heart one would feel (It can't).  And I think about how hard it must be to go on social media on Father's/Mother's day.*(See Disclaimer I)   Do they look through the endless stream of happy  photographs of whitewashed perfection? Do they avoid the social network?  Is that more or less isolating? 

I'm reminded of this meme....

Of course, the meme hits at the larger picture of why do people post on social media.  What purpose does it serve, if not drawing attention to yourself, your good or bad fortunes or crowd sourcing advice that you could Google.  Facebook and Instagram are basically "Hey, I was doing this earlier!" while Snapchat (I'm told) is basically "Hey, I'm doing this right now!"  The point of many posts, whether pictures, or political, or "OMG Look", on purpose or not, is attention. **  The issue, bringing it back to the original post, is that posting about your amazing parent on a Parent Day could impact someone who no longer has a parent in vastly different ways than posting about your vacation would impact someone who isn't on that vacation. ***

Does Facebook Father's Day suck?

I asked a few friends who've lost a parent their thoughts and, somewhat surprisingly, their responses varied.  Some have said they aren't bothered by FB Father's Day at all.  Some have said that it is a really hard day regardless of people posting on social media.  Some have said that it is no harder than every other holiday. Some have said that every day is still hard.  And, of course, (which is kinda the point of this post), some have said that social media makes father's day harder, and /or they avoid it. ****

If Facebook and other social media are a tool used to draw attention to one's self, a known quantity, does that mean Facebook Parent's Day is a privilege those who lost a parent just have to deal w/in the in their own way?  Or should we all be a little more morbid, solemn, respectful, empathetic, courteous and acknowledge that while this day is a great time to show your parents how much you love them, maybe you should also realize that your celebration is actually a privilege which many others find painful.

My non scientific observations suggest that Father's Day far outpaces Mother's day on social media.  This year, I'm seeing many more posts about husbands, than fathers.  Perhaps that reflects the reality that as we age, we have ever more husbands (who are fathers) and ever fewer fathers.  Obviously, 5 - 10 - 20 years from now, when we're 40, 50 or 60 years old, Parents day will become entirely about us, and our kids, and maybe even our kids being Parents.  I wonder if it'll get easier for those who have lost a parent, if everyone else also has.  I wonder what it will feel like when there's that one guy left, who is posting about how his centenarian dad is the best in the world, when none of his friends have a living dad.  

I have seen a few of my friends, perhaps responsively, post about those they've lost. Not surprisingly, those posts always have the most social interaction.  Friends are NOT going to stop posting about their parents on parents day, and I'm not even sure I'm recommending it. Perhaps it would be insulting to their parent, spouse, etc if they didn't post (My wife is free to do as she pleases).  BUT maybe on this day we should also try to think of how hard this day is for so many...  For some people, Father's Day is a celebration, for others, it's a memorial day.

Personally, though I have not lost a parent (Furiously knocking on wood), I think going forward I'll always think Fuck Facebook Father's Day. 

Perhaps b/c I'm still a "lucky one," I also don't have the proper perspective.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

*Disclaimer I - I have not checked my history, but it is possible I posted Happy Moms or Dads day on my wall in previous years.

**Disclaimer II -  I post on Facebook, I'm doing it right now, and there isn't anything necessarily wrong with talking about yourself or sharing with your "friends" your good fortunes.  We all know the people who go too far w/the self congratulations, and we all usually keep it contained.

***Disclaimer III - I don't think this is the same as posting on your mom or dads wall, about what an amazing parent they are, when it's their birthday. 

****Disclaimer IIII - I did post a picture of my parents on their anniversary 3 weeks ago, and while similar, I don't think it's the same at all unless there was a "Somehow My Parents Made it Work Day" Hallmark created.

Friday, March 04, 2016

1,000,000 Minutes of AX

Having a child is one of the most ego driven, vain, and selfish decisions one can make. Maybe you're doing it because you want a challenge, or because you think your genes are amazing and want to pass them on, or because your friends are doing it and you don't want to feel insecure around them, or because you want to make sure that your 70's and 80's don't suck and that someone is there to take care of you.

Regardless, you're doing it for you. . . .  until the day your kid is actually born. After your child is born, the entire paragraph above flips, and you realize that taking care of your child will be, by far, the most selfless thing you will do in your life for the rest of your life (for the next 60 years).

We all (meaning people w/sisters who like musicals) know that there are 525,600 minutes in a year.  That means at just under 2 years, you're 1,000,000 minutes old.

Therefore AX, Happy Birth Minute!

Let's discuss your first 1,000,000 minutes (and a few ways our lives have changed):

One of the first words you learned was "Out!" At 10 months old, you'd wake up at 6am or 11am after your first nap, or 3pm after your second nap, you'd cry for a few minutes and point to the door and say "Out!" You just had no interest in hanging out in our one bedroom apartment (not surprising). - At 13 months we were in contract on a house and at 16 months, we moved to the burbs. 

I love having a house, and the space, and seclusion, and the storage ... but having a house sucks!  Taxes suck, energy costs suck, BUT most importantly, I MISS MY SUPER.  There are soooo many small (and kinda large) things I need fixed. I can do most, but who has time?  During the week, I'm only home when you’re awake for 30 minutes in the morning and 60 minutes in the evening... I'm not installing a new staircase railing, or fixing the deck, or changing that 16 foot light bulb at 7am. On weekends, I could, but of course we have activities and I want to play w/you b/c most of the time we're in the house together, you're asleep! 

So if I'm only home with you for 1.5 hours a day, your mom is with you for the other 11.5 (and 10 that you're awake, yay naps!).  Not that having a 1,000,000 minute old kid isn't great, it's just exhausting. I'm surprised doctors don't think every 2 year old has some form of ADHD, it's non-stop action.  But it isn't ADHD or ADD, it's called being a toddler.  And the 45 books your mom and I have read about it say that you're basically a caveman.  Your moods can swing in seconds, for no particular reason, or for the stupidest reasons (like if I don't let you put the tray table down while we're landing at Laguardia on a windy night - God Forbid!). So as a caveman, I'm not surprised that you'll be eating one thing, see something else, and take that first thing out of your mouth to make room... or see all your toys for the first time in...I don't know... 3 days...and need to play with each one for 30 seconds until the entire room is a tornado zone by 8:30am.

Here’s a little meme that accurately describes your caveman tendencies: 


To continue, you sleep a lot.  Maybe not as much as you are supposed to, but I couldn't dream of sleeping as much as you do (your mom on the other hand, she'd have no problem matching you REM for REM).  You're in bed at 8, and sleep until 7, and you take a 2 hour nap!  No wonder I can't keep up with you during the other 11 hours of the day. 

However, the scariest thing that happens every day (or weekend day) is NOT when you're climbing something you shouldn't be climbing, or pulling on something you shouldn't be pulling, or opening something you shouldn't be opening, or walking somewhere you shouldn't be walking, or accidentally grabbing a knife you shouldn't be grabbing, or when you lose your motor skills later in the evenings and are walking into things... No, it's when you're about 45 minutes into your mid-day nap.  You've gone through one REM cycle and there's a chance you'll wake up way too soon. Your mom and I stare at the baby monitor, hold our breaths, look at each other in fear, and try not to make a sound...   Sometimes you sit up and look around, or make some noise, or even cry before going back to sleep for another 45 or 90 minutes.  But on those days when you don't sleep... well... I feel bad for your mother, as you turn into this (you’ll get the reference in 13 years)…

Of course, when the baby sitter is here, you always sleep 2+ hours, no problem.  Either you hate us...or you love us so much you don't want to sleep but want to hang out instead (One of your parents believes it's the former, one the latter).  

Some days, I'll get home, go to the bathroom, and see that your mom has taken a shower that day.  It makes me happy... like I'm happy because I know the day was good enough that she could get a 15 minute break to take a shower.... and you didn't turn into the above monster... It's the little things.

So with only 27 hours a week to hang out (compared to 77 for your mom), I try to maximize my time a bit.  Daddy duty starts most weekend mornings so mommy can try to beat your sleep record from the night before.  We'll go out, watch trains, get breakfast, watch trains and run errands. Sometimes we watch trains too.  The biggest impact this has had on my life is Facebook birthdays.  Basically, if your birthday falls on the weekend, you're unlikely to get a Facebook shout out from me.  And I don't do that whole "happy belated" crap.  So basically my friends are shit out of luck. (yes, this is all in jest....but also so true).  i rarely open my computer on the weekends (or ever at home anymore) ... which is why I haven't written a blog post in a YEAR.  Thankfully, you turned 1,000,000 and changed all that.
I used to count for you took your bottle, as I rocked you, as I changed you, as I timed your naps. I no longer count anymore... (Who are we kidding, I count everything).  Counting never disappears, it just changes. Instead of  naps and poops and diapers and bottles and ounces, it's and cookies and blocks and cars and trains and leaves and rocks.   On a recent flight, I was counting minutes/checking the time constantly, the flight couldn't end fast enough...I had to pee!  Do you know how hard it is to use a public restroom w/a mobile, curious toddler?

One great thing about having a silly, fun 2-year-old is that your mom and I get to be Peter Pan all the time.  I get to kick and throw balls, run, sled, and build with blocks!  Your mom gets to do arts and crafts, take music classes, and run around in gym class.  Looking back at the last 1,000,000 minutes, fulfilling a Peter Pan complex is one of the best superficial reasons to have a kid. Maybe it’s the only reason to have a kid… Maybe having a kid isn’t so selfless after all.  Regardless, it's been a 1,000,000 minutes of selfish selflessness. 

PS:  On Monday you turn 100 weeks old!  What should I write about?