Understanding Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth, and I would like to start with a few words from President Barack Obama …

Obama“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible––and there is still so much work to do.”

I planned to write a piece about Juneteenth, but I found that it had already been done, much better and much more authentically than I could possibly have done it, by Jamelle Bouie, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, and former chief political correspondent for Slate magazine.


Why Juneteenth Matters

It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.”

jamelle-bouieBy Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves.

“Slave resistance,” as the historian Manisha Sinha points out in “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” “lay at the heart of the abolition movement.”

“Prominent slave revolts marked the turn toward immediate abolition,” Sinha writes, and “fugitive slaves united all factions of the movement and led the abolitionists to justify revolutionary resistance to slavery.”

When secession turned to war, it was enslaved people who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom. “From the first guns at Sumter, the strongest advocates of emancipation were the slaves themselves,” the historian Ira Berlin wrote in 1992. “Lacking political standing or public voice, forbidden access to the weapons of war, slaves tossed aside the grand pronouncements of Lincoln and other Union leaders that the sectional conflict was only a war for national unity and moved directly to put their own freedom — and that of their posterity — atop the national agenda.”

All of this is apropos of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, to lead the Union occupation force and delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in the region. This holiday, which only became a nationwide celebration (among black Americans) in the 20th century, has grown in stature over the last decade as a result of key anniversaries (2011 to 2015 was the sesquicentennial of the Civil War), trends in public opinion (the growing racial liberalism of left-leaning whites), and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the last week, as Americans continued to protest police brutality, institutional racism and structural disadvantage in cities and towns across the country, elected officials in New York and Virginia have announced plans to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, as have a number of prominent businesses like Nike, Twitter and the NFL.

There’s obviously a certain opportunism here, an attempt to respond to the moment and win favorable coverage, with as little sacrifice as possible. (Paid holidays, while nice, are a grossly inadequate response to calls for justice and equality.) But if Americans are going to mark and celebrate Juneteenth, then they should do so with the knowledge and awareness of the agency of enslaved people.

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Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom, which began as soon as chattel slavery was established in the 17th century, and gained even greater steam with the Revolution and the birth of a country committed, at least rhetorically, to freedom and equality. In fighting that struggle, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.

To return to Ira Berlin — who tackled this subject in “The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States” — it is useful to look at the end of slavery as “a near-century-long process” rather than “the work of a moment, even if that moment was a great civil war.” Those in bondage were part of this process at every step of the way, from resistance and rebellion to escape, which gave them the chance, as free blacks, to weigh directly on the politics of slavery. “They gave the slaves’ oppositional activities a political form,” Berlin writes, “denying the masters’ claim that malingering and tool breaking were reflections of African idiocy and indolence, that sabotage represented the mindless thrashings of a primitive people, and that outsiders were the ones who always inspired conspiracies and insurrections.”

By pushing the question of emancipation into public view, black Americans raised the issue of their “status in freedom” and therefore “the question of citizenship and its attributes.” And as the historian Martha Jones details in “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America,” it is black advocacy that ultimately shapes the nation’s understanding of what it means to be an American citizen. “Never just objects of judicial, legislative, or antislavery thought,” black Americans “drove lawmakers to refine their thinking about citizenship. On the necessity of debating birthright citizenship, black Americans forced the issue.”

After the Civil War, black Americans — free and freed — would work to realize the promise of emancipation, and to make the South a true democracy. They abolished property qualifications for voting and officeholding, instituted universal manhood suffrage, opened the region’s first public schools and made them available to all children. They stood against racial distinctions and discrimination in public life and sought assistance for the poor and disadvantaged. Just a few years removed from degradation and social death, these millions, wrote W.E.B. Du Bois in “Black Reconstruction in America, “took decisive and encouraging steps toward the widening and strengthening of human democracy.”

Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution, that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.

Nothing To Celebrate

The Pentagon is reported to be “weighing a request from the White House to support a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall that may include military aircraft flyovers, band performances and other displays.” 

I may be a minority of one here, but I think such a display would be in very poor taste.  We have had two black men murdered in the past month, simply for being black.  One of those men was murdered by the police, the very people we are supposed to trust with our lives.  We have more than a thousand people dying of a global pandemic every day, in large part because our nation was slow to respond and has put corporate profit over people’s lives.  We are more divided than we have ever been in our history, with political parties threatening to kill one another, religions attempting to force their views on others, a Congress that has become dysfunctional, Supreme Court Justices who have traded their integrity for a pat on the back from Donald Trump, and the list goes on.

This summer is almost certain to be a violent one, with a race war in the making and Donald Trump pouring fuel on the fire with his ignominious tweets.  The United States has failed miserably in its global role, leaving our allies hanging, trying to patch together agreements to make the world a safer place.  The United States is led by a cruel, evil dictator who would sooner see every one of us dead than to ever act on the behalf of the people who pay his salary.  The United States has denigrated many of those who live within its borders, given them reasons to fear for their very lives.  Immigrant children have been separated from their parents, some likely forever, simply because of their ethnicity.

Now, you tell me what there is to celebrate?  As today the ‘man’ in the Oval Office is threatening to fan the flames of the race war brewing in this country by threatening to send the National Guard to shoot protesters; as today the ‘man’ in the Oval Office and many of our elected legislators refuse to implement policies to protect the environment, to protect We the People. No, I don’t see a damn thing worth celebrating in this nation.

The sort of festivities Trump is asking of the Pentagon would be a slap in the face to most of us living here.  It would ignore the grief and horrors we are enduring, in favour of honouring a person who has no honour, of honouring a country that is being destroyed from within.  It would also have a hefty price tag.  The United States government is bankrupt, with more than $25 trillion in debt and very little revenue at this time.  HOW THE SAM HELL can we afford to spend millions on a damn circus show that benefits no one???  What about those who have been out of work for three months?  What about those who are about to lose their homes, or those who cannot afford food or medicine?  Would not that money, those millions of dollars, be better spent helping We the People survive the crisis that is happening in this country?

I do hope cooler heads in the Pentagon will prevail.  I hope that there are those who have the cojones to stand up to Donald Trump and say “No”.  Somehow, I have my doubts.  Friends, Donald Trump is proposing to use our hard-earned tax dollars for an ego trip, for a overblown display to attempt to send a message that all is well in the United States. All is not well in the U.S. today, and in fact nothing … NOTHING is right in this country today.  I, for one, will not be celebrating July 4th, aka Independence Day, this year.  I hope to celebrate our Independence Day on November 4th when Donald Trump has been told to pack his bags and get the heck out … that will be the day we regain our voices and begin to attempt to heal this nation.

Hug A Friend Day!

I had not planned to do a post this morning, for my heart simply isn’t into it.  I’m rather tired of this whole three-ring circus we find ourselves in, tired of hearing the words “coronavirus” and “social distancing” (which wasn’t even a word until coronavirus, then somebody felt a need to make isolation sound more appealing), sick to death of seeing people in creepy masks, sick and damn tired of the creep in the Oval Office, and just decided to take some “me time”, perhaps try to remember how to use the muscles around my mouth for something other than scowling and grimacing.  But then, fate intervened … in the nicest sort of ways.

Our friend Ellen sent me an email yesterday evening to remind me that today is ‘Hug a Friend Day’, and of course I couldn’t let that one slip by … especially this year when it seems that to hug anybody is verboten.

According to one source I found …

“Today is for hugging friends! Hugging has been around for millennia and is practiced by almost all cultures as a way to connect with others without using language. Hugs have traditionally been given in may scenarios: as a greeting or goodbye, for sympathy or congratulations, and for gratitude, support, and affection. The word “hug” seems to have come from “hugga,” an Old Norse word meaning “to comfort.” “Hug” was first used around 1610, to describe a wrestling hold. It began being used for its current meaning in the 1650s.

Hugs may release a hormone called oxytocin into the bloodstream. This hormone, produced in the pituitary gland, helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol. It also reduces anxiety, improves mood and memory, and increase bonding and closeness. Those who hug often tend to have increased empathy for others. In order for hugs to be beneficial, those participating must trust each other and both want to hug. Otherwise, the opposite effect happens and cortisol levels rise, causing stress.

How to Observe

Celebrate the day by hugging friends! In order for hugs to have their many benefits, make sure the friend you are hugging wants to be hugged. Let them know about the day and ask them if they would like to hug before embracing them.”

Well, now obviously none of your friends will come close enough for a hug, and you’ll just end up with crushed feelings if you try (been there, done that), so don’t waste your effort on a real hug, but … there are virtual hugs!  Not quite as good, but … better than nothing, verdad?

So, when you send that email to a friend today or leave a comment on someone’s post, send them a virtual hug, with a raincheck for the real thing if it ever becomes allowable again!

And … Filosofa sends a ginormous hug to all her friends here in bloggerdom!

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Saturday Surprise — Nyepi

Today, I thought we’d visit the island province of Bali … a beautiful place at any time, but I wanted to take you to the celebrations surrounding the holiday of Nyepi.

Every year, towards the end of March, the entire island of Bali in Indonesia, goes into standstill. Flights are grounded, shops remain closed, streets are deserted of traffic and pedestrians. All residents lock themselves up in their houses and switch off their lights. There is no talking, no music, no entertainment. Some even stop eating. This day is called Nyepi, the “Day of Silence”, where devout Hindus meditate and reflect.nyepi-1It isn’t the day itself that attracted my attention, but rather the days leading up to the sacred holiday that are, in sharp contrast to the ritual, full of activities. Villages and communities build large monster-like sculpture called ‘ogoh-ogoh’ that represent the bad spirits. The sculptures are made of bamboo frame wrapped with canvas and sometimes of Styrofoam. Some of them are 25 feet tall. These are paraded through the streets on the evening before Nyepi day, after which they are burned in the cemeteries. Many people also bang pots and pans raising a racket and burn dried coconut leaf torches to drive out the demons.nyepi-2On Nyepi day, everything goes into silence. The rules state no fires, no electrified lights, no working, no travelling and no engaging in revelry. This period lasts 24 hours from six in the morning. The next day, festivities start again, for it is the Balinese new year. Families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and perform religious rituals.nyepi-8Nyepi has a tendency to catch tourists off guard, for it unlike any other holiday the westerners might have experienced. The entire city shuts off for 24 hours, which means there are no restaurants and eateries open, no taxis or public transport, and no loitering on the streets. Hotels are usually exempted out of necessity, but guests are advised to keep noises low and lights dim. Sometimes hotels will draw their window curtains to cut off the lights.

Omed-omedan is celebrated the day after Nyepi. The festival takes place on one of the roads in the village of Banjar Kaja, Sesetan in southern Denpasar. The village community cheers on participating youths who get in line for the ritual – an affair of ‘push and pull’ between a team of girls and boys.nyepi-6Pre-arranged couples, usually in their late teens, line up to eventually be pushed towards their partner on the other side and to eventually ‘kiss’ and embrace for a very brief moment… before cheerfully being pulled apart again. The scene gets crazier as elders enjoy spraying and dousing the crowd with water.nyepi-3nyepi-4nyepi-5nyepi-7

I just love all the bright, festive colours, don’t you?  I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about Bali and Nyepi!  Have a wonderfulfunhappy … decent weekend!

Happy Groundhog Day!!! – Redux (again)

This is a repeat of my 2017 Groundhog Day post.  I considered writing a new one, but after I read this one, and it even made me laugh, I figured I couldn’t come up with anything better, so why re-invent the wheel, eh?  If you remember this from last year, or the year before, or the year before … pretend you don’t and read it again, laugh again, okay?  We need to find humour these days …


“Ground Hog Day is tomorrow. We’re the only country that accepts weather predictions from a rodent, and denies climate change facts by scientists.” – Alt-NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

ghd-3Good morning!  Today is a very special day, so I am setting aside my usual fare for this morning’s post to pay due respect and homage to none other than Pennsylvania’s own … {drumroll} … {applause} … Punxsutawney Phil!!!!  A brief summary of the legend and the history for my friends across the pond who may not know about Phil:

On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

ghd-5Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

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According to the Weather Channel, the forecast in Punxsutawney is a high chance of cloudy skies, and even a chance of a flurry or two. According to the legend, this means an early spring is ahead. For the record, Punxsutawney Phil has only been accurate 39% of the time since 1887.

I used to say that Groundhog Day was my favourite holiday, mostly because it did not require a lot of effort on my part … no huge meal to cook, no presents to buy and wrap, no tree to decorate or lights to string.

ghd-4

I happened across a humorous piece I thought you might enjoy.  Scott Feschuk, a Canadian speechwriter, humourist and former newspaper journalist, wrote this satire piece after hearing Trump’s rather ridiculous speech on black history.  It is his take on what a speech by Trump to commemorate Groundhog Day might be like:

“Well, this is Groundhog Day, so these are just a few little notes I want to share with you. On this day, we honour the tremendous history of groundhogs throughout our country. Throughout the world, if you really think about it, right? Because that’s where groundhogs are and where they live. Here but also there. Everywhere, really, except not exactly everywhere but almost.

Mostly in the ground though, on or it, or in the vicinity – which is why we call them that. Groundhogs. Right there in the name.

They’re incredible animals and their incredible example is unique in many ways. So many unique ways that honestly there’s no point in me examining any of them in any detail. We all know. We all know bigly.

You’ve all heard about groundhogs. They are well known and people know about them. We have some good ones. We have the one from that place in Pennsylvania and we have other ones and we have the one from that golf movie with one of the Ghostbusters. There are others. Many others that we all know, and I also know them.

The groundhog from the movie Groundhog Day is an example of a groundhog who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Big impact. But all groundhogs – big impact on the seasons and the changing of the seasons. There are several seasons and we all know what they are.

I do very well with groundhogs, by the way, not that you’d know from CNN which is fake news and disgraceful. But I do substantially better than others have done. They hear me talk about underground life—it’s horrible, life is short, you can get killed by a wolf on the way to pick up an acorn. They hear me and they love me.

The groundhog is cherished. I am very proud of the fact that people in America can learn about groundhogs, and many other things. And they can learn about their many, many accomplishments, which we celebrate on this day, which is why it is called Groundhogs Day and is so special.

I’m proud to honour our groundhog heritage and will be honouring it more and more. Like I said before, a groundhog is an animal—much like a fox is also an animal. And Fox News has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.

Omarosa saw a groundhog once.” 

So there you have it.  Everything you always wanted to know about Groundhog Day and more!  For the record, though I am not a cute, furry little animal that lives in holes in the ground, my prediction is that the sun has taken a permanent vacation.  Here, we have had exactly one sunny day since January 20th.  One.  Just ONE!  I think the sun came out, saw something evil, and went back behind the clouds for protection.

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♫ I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore ♫

I was planning to play a song for a special friend tonight, but … first off, I realized I had played it just a few months ago, and secondly, this one came up on my playlist as I was doing house chores and listening to music this afternoon, and as often happens, it got stuck in my head … and I was whistling it, humming it, and occasionally bursting out in song with the few parts of the lyrics I actually know … or think I know!

Released by REO Speedwagon in 1984, this song was given the John Lewis Christmas advert tribute for 2019 in the UK.  But what of the song’s origins?

The ballad was written by REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin, who also penned other hits by the band including Keep on Loving You.

When the band struggled to come up with songs for their Wheels Are Turnin’ album, they each took time off they could write alone.

Cronin travelled to Molokai, Hawaii, and he played around with a song that he first wrote 10 years earlier but never finished. It evolved into this.  According to Cronin …

“Really, what the song is about was about my inability to have the courage to express myself. I was brought up in an Irish-Catholic family, and you were taught to always keep a bright face, always act like everything was OK, even if maybe everything on the inside wasn’t so OK. So that’s something I’ve struggled with, and over the years have gotten better at.

At that time, the only way I knew to express those feelings was to write songs about them. I’ve learned over the years that it works better to talk to people!  You can actually become closer to other human beings when you are vulnerable and express yourself and are free to tell the truth and to be honest and to be up front with your feelings. It does work. Back in those days, the best that I could do was write a song about it.”

While only a #16 hit in the UK, the song gave REO Speedwagon its second #1 hit in the U.S. in 1985.

Now, I mentioned above that it was the John Lewis Christmas advert in the UK this past year.  The John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert is a television advertising campaign released by British department store chain John Lewis & Partners, and since 2007 has become something of an annual tradition in British popular culture.  I mention this only because I checked it out, and while the quality of the music is not up to the standards of the original by REO Speedwagon, it is a fun, cute video, so I am playing it, too, along with the original!

Can’t Fight This Feeling
REO Speedwagon

I can’t fight this feeling any longer
And yet I’m still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show

I tell myself that I can’t hold out forever
I said there is no reason for my fear
‘Cause I feel so secure when we’re together
You give my life direction, you make everthing so clear

And even as I wander, I’m keeping you in sight
You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night
And I’m getting closer than I ever thought I might

And I can’t fight this feeling anymore
I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
It’s time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars, forever

‘Cause I can’t fight this feeling anymore
I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor, come crashing through your door
Baby, I can’t fight this feeling anymore

My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you
I’ve been running round in circles in my mind
And it always seems that I’m following you, girl
‘Cause you take me to the places that alone I’d never find

And even as I wander, I’m keeping you sight
You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night
And I’m getting closer than I ever thought I might

And I can’t fight this feeling anymore
I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
It’s time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars, forever

‘Cause I can’t fight this feeling anymore
I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor, come crashing through your door
Baby, I can’t fight this feeling anymore

Songwriters: Cronin Kevin
Can’t Fight This Feeling lyrics © Fate Music

First Jolly Monday Of The Decade!!!

Welcome to yet another Monday, my friends … actually, though, it’s the first Monday in the new year and in the new decade, so I guess that makes it a special Monday.  Take heart in that there are only 51 more Mondays in the year!  There, don’t you feel better now?  Anyway, Jolly’s girlfriend, Joyful, is here to help bring joy to this special Monday, so … a special treat!  We were all sitting around last night, trying to decide what special treat to offer you guys today.  We all agreed that we had just about burned out on cookies, fruitcake, and other holiday treats, so it was Joyful who came up with the idea of … PIZZA!!!  It’s a switch from the ordinary, but we made enough variety to please everyone – even our bacon lovers!  So, grab a slice or two and let’s just see what we can find to bring a smile to start the week off! 

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Bacon-lover’s Pizza

Now … in addition to everything else, this is indeed a special Monday … I would like to take this opportunity to wish a …

happy-birthday… to our young friend Benjamin, who will turn a big 6 years old tomorrow!!!  Happy Birthday … Feliz Cumpleaños … Benjamin … We Love You!!!

happy birthday cake

Benjamin’s Birthday Cake, WITH SPRINKLES!


Now, speaking of Monday …

Several months ago, thanks to our friend Ellen, I signed up to get daily notifications about the “national days”.  Some days have numerous events or memorable dates, others only a few, but it’s usually interesting, and often I find myself scratching my head, wondering who the heck came up with that one.  Well, today’s is no exception, for today is “National Thank God It’s Monday” Day.  No, I am not joking … serious as a dead horse!NATIONAL-THANK-GOD-IT’S-MONDAY-DAY-–-First-Monday-in-JanuaryNational Thank God It’s Monday Day encourages us to celebrate the first Monday of the new year with vigor and energy.

Not only does the observance focus on the first Monday in January, but on every Monday throughout the year. Mondays are often full of new beginnings. New jobs often start on Mondays. Couples usually marry on weekends and a Monday represents the first work week of their new lives together. Many federal holidays take place on Mondays and therefore special occasions frequently take place on Mondays throughout the year.

Besides the scheduled events, many random events occur on a Monday. When Monday repeats between 52 and 53 times out of the year, important things will happen. It’s 1/7th of our life. Blaming Monday for our woes (traffic) doesn’t improve our personal track record in life (being late). Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer.

    • Freshly brewed coffee to keep us perky
    • Opportunity for a bright future
    • 52 chances to see a beautiful sunrise
    • A new week share your talents with the world
    • 52 opportunities to teach someone a new skill that will better their lives
    • Each Monday offers the potential of meeting new people

Bah humbug, Pollyanna!  Give me Friday over Monday any day of the week!


Let it snow???

Over here we call them sweaters, the Brits call ‘em jumpers.  Either way, this is a case of a sweater/jumper that cause giant retailer Wal-Mart a bit of a red face.

The product’s description on the Walmart Canada website said:

“We all know how snow works.

It’s white, powdery and the best snow comes straight from South America. That’s bad news for jolly old St Nick, who lives far away in the North Pole.

That’s why Santa really likes to savour the moment when he gets his hands on some quality, grade A, Colombian snow.”

cocaine-sweaterWal-Mart quickly took the product off of their website when someone pointed out the error …

“These sweaters, sold by a third-party seller on Walmart.ca, do not represent Walmart’s values and have no place on our website.”


A ‘Kissmobile’? Who knew???

wienermobileNow, we’ve all heard of the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, but last night I discovered that there is also a Hershey’s Kiss mobile … well, there was a Hershey’s Kiss mobile.  Turns out the company had three of them, and they are retiring them all.  They will be on display at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania for an unspecified period of time.kissmobile-2But, that made me wonder … have other companies utilized similar mobiles to promote their product.  Silly me … of course they have!

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And every now and then, they all meet up for a cookout!

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Okay, folks … how about some fun memes and ‘toons to make you chuckle?

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And, of course, if it’s Jolly Monday, we must have a cute animal video, yes?


jollyJollys girlfriend JoyfulAnd on that note, I’m sad to say, it’s time for you guys to head to work or whatever you have on your dockets today, and I have promised Jolly and Joyful a special surprise … I’m going to let them clean out the refrigerator!!!  So, please keep those smiles on your faces and share them whenever you can.  I think this is likely to be a tough week in more ways than one, so … give a smile, or even a hug to someone each day this week, ‘k?  Love and hugs from Filosofa, Jolly and Joyful!

A No-Snark (Mostly) Sunday

After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.


Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …Santa-1

That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.  The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.santa-2.pngThis year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside.  Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.

santa-3.pngHe also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit.  Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.

“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”

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santa-5One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.


Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead.  The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.coal-vs-windCoal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.

More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.


And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.

Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.

But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.

There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag.   The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything.  Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags.  A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.plastic-bagsA personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags.  Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags.  Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response.  The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.


Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling.  Have a happy Sunday!

A Few New Year ‘Toons …

Typically, I only do a post of ‘toons once every ten days or so, and since I just did one last Saturday, you may be surprised to see another so soon.  Two reasons … these are timely and will lose their ‘flavour’ in another few days as the world moves on, and second, I am still doing research for the post I was planning for this afternoon … I slept too late this morning and am behind … er, behind-er than usual!

But first, I have a short Seth Meyers clip that I hope you’ll watch … it’s funny as heck, but also rather uplifting!  Thank you, Colette, for sending me this!


The cartoonists had fun with the New Year … lets take a look …

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Good People Doing Good Things … 1st Two Of 2020!

A clean slate … a fresh start … what better way to start the new year, the new decade, than by looking for some good people?  Oh wait … I think I see one now!


Meet Michael Esmond, of Gulf Breeze, Florida …Michael-Esmond-2.jpgMichael is a 73-year-old veteran, owner of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas, a pool installation company.  But, Michael wasn’t always so lucky.  When Michael opened his utility bill in early December, saw the due date of December 26th, with the standard notice that “supplies may be cut if not paid by then”, suddenly memories flooded back.  Michael was remembering a winter in the 1980s when he couldn’t pay his bill, the gas was cut off, and the family had no heat.  Says Michael …

“Back in the ’80s I actually lived that. I experienced a time where I had trouble paying bills. And we actually had the gas disconnected. It happened to be one of the coldest winters in history. We had ice and icicles hanging out the window inside the house. I didn’t want anyone else to go through that same thing. … I wanted to do something that I knew would really make a difference for people around Christmas time.”

So, what did Michael do?  Well, he contacted Joanne Oliver, the billing supervisor for the Gulf Breeze utility company, and asked her to help him figure out who was likely to have their utilities turned off for non-payment.  And then, you can probably guess what Michael Esmond did next …

He paid the past due utility bills for 36 families in Gulf Breeze, spending a total of $4,558!  Okay, so it’s not billions, but Michael doesn’t have billions … he doesn’t even have millions.  But what he does have is a huge heart and enough money to help others stay warm this winter.

Instead of receiving a disconnect notice, those 36 families received a Christmas card with a note that read:

“It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season.”

Michael-Esmond.jpgJoanne Oliver was overwhelmed by Michael’s generosity …

“It made me cry. It made me cry. For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me.  I’ve been in the customer service industry for a little over 20 years. Never have I seen this type of generosity come from anyone.”

And, as we have seen numerous times before, one good deed led to others who have been calling the utility company to see how they could help.  My hat is off to Mr. Michael Esmond for being one of Filosofa’s first good people of 2020!  doffing-hat


The next good person is … well, I really cannot tell you his name, for he wishes to remain anonymous, but I can tell you that he is a good person.  We can only refer to him as ‘Secret Santa’, and he apparently lives somewhere in eastern Idaho.  Let me show you just a few of the things he has done for the people in the region this Christmas season …

  • Abby Toone lost her husband, 37-year-old Jon, in September after he was stung by three wasps. Jon, who was in the U.S. Army Reserve, collapsed and died in his wife’s arms. Now, their family is coping with the loss. The mom of four has been struggling to make ends meet as she awaits the settlement from her husband’s life insurance policy. The East Idaho Secret Santa heard of Abby’s struggles and sent her a check for $10,000 to help her until the insurance settlement comes through.

  • Nikkie Schwemmer supports three children on her own in a house that needs multiple repairs and is without a car to get to work since hers died and couldn’t be resurrected. She had been borrowing her parents’ vehicle because she couldn’t afford to buy another. Secret Santa had a brand-new blueberry-colored Subaru delivered to her.

  • It’s not been an easy year for the Weber family. The number of children in their Idaho home roughly doubled after tragedy hit them not once, but twice. Dan and Lana Weber have five children of their own. Late last year Lana’s brother, Darin Hammond, took his own life. In April, his widow, Emilia, ended her life, orphaning their four children — Symphony, Gavin, Halle and Eva. The Webers, without a second thought, took in their nieces and nephew. Now they are looking after nine children in their Madison County home. Secret Santa sent them a check for $10,000.

  • When he was 14, Brad Crow was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Since then, to fight the disease, Brad has undergone radiation, chemotherapy and had the bone in one leg removed and replaced with cadaver bone. Now married and the father of 2, he and his wife Erica decided to build their own home.  But disaster struck, and Brad fractured his leg while building. The injury eventually progressed and he needed to have surgery to replace the bone. Even though he was recovering well, he developed a staph infection and began fighting for his life soon after. Brad had that leg amputated this spring and a hip replaced shortly after, and is now facing another hip replacement.  Long story short, Brad has not been able to work for more than a year now, and Erica’s pay from her school bus driving job just isn’t enough to cover everything.  Secret Santa surprised them with health insurance coverage for a year, and a check for $50,000 to go toward building their home.

And the stories go on and on and on.  For the past five years, starting in 2015, this anonymous Secret Santa has enlisted EastIdahoNews.com to help find people and families living in eastern Idaho who are in need. Secret Santa is a real person who wants to remain anonymous and wants to help as many people as he can.  In October of each year, the media outlet puts out the call for people to send nominations for people they know of who are in need of financial help.  The Secret Santa then chooses those he deems most in need and does what needs to be done to help them.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as paying for a veteran’s meal, other times it might be a car or a sizeable check.  In total, Secret Santa spends $500,000 … yes, a half-million dollars … each year helping people in eastern Idaho.

Wow … just wow.  Check out some more of the stories of the people Secret Santa has helped this year


Well, folks, that’s only two good people to start out the year, but I think both Michael Esmond and the Secret Santa are most deserving of being the stars of Filosofa’s first Good People Doing Good Things of 2020, don’t you?  Until next week, then, remember … let’s all try to find a way to be one of those good people.  We cannot all give away thousands of dollars, but maybe we can help carry someone’s groceries into their house, or take somebody somewhere, buy someone a meal … there are at least a million ways to be a good people.