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 …





Reflections on the Old and the New

I am taking a 4-day hiatus from my blog, going camping with a special friend, and will be away from computer and from news of the outside world from Saturday, July 2nd through Tuesday, July 5th.  I have scheduled a few of my “oldies but goodies” and will see you all when i return to the real world (maybe?) on Wednesday, July 6th.  Please don’t go away … I shall return, rested and happy and ready to start ranting once again!  This one was originally posted on 12/29/2014.  

Well, once again we are preparing to bid adieu to the year and to welcome in a new year. We are all another year older, maybe a bit wiser, maybe not. But certainly older. Some of us are of an age where our musings of the old year/new year lead us to wonder how many more years we will be around to usher in. Others never ask, they just live their lives to the fullest all the time. I am a thinker more than a doer, so I ponder these things. One thing I note with sadness is that each year seems to be shorter, to go faster, just when we want the years to slow down, just when we’ve finally realized the importance of stopping to smell the flowers, the merry-go-round spins ever faster and the flowers become a blur! And the memories are not as sharp as they once were, not as vivid as we would like. In some cases, that is probably a good thing, though. So, if I were writing 2014 as a chapter in my history book, what are the moments that would stand out?

In terms of the global culture, 2014 has not been a very good year all around. I cannot even begin to recount everything, so I won’t bore you by trying, but a few memory joggers are the horrors that continue in the Middle East, most notably Syria & Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the atrocities committed by this terrorist group. There was the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370, and now we are ending the year with the disappearance of yet another jet, AirAsia flight 8501. And let us not forget the aggressive stance taken by V. Putin against the Ukraine in what appears an attempt to rebuild a Soviet Union-type bloc in Eastern Europe. Nationally we have seen a rise in racism, a rise in police brutality, a rise in gun-related violence & crime, unrest in our cities and some of the most vicious political back-stabbing in the last 50 years. Overall I would not rank 2014 one of the shining moments in history, either domestically or internationally. I wish I could say that I hold great hope for the coming year to be an improvement, but there are no indicators that this will be the case, so I shall just put that aspect of 2014 to bed with a sigh.

On a personal level, 2014 has been a mixed bag, a series of ups and downs, as most years are. My family parted ways with some long-time friends who were more like family, and that was a very hard, but necessary thing. On the other hand, we have acquired new friends who came to this country almost exactly a year ago from Syria, and we are learning to communicate and to share in each others cultures, so that has brought much joy to our lives. The most heart-breaking moment for me was when my dear friend Deb’s daughter died, leaving behind two young children and many broken hearts. My family and I have enjoyed reasonably good health and continued financial security, so I cannot complain and have much to be thankful for. We lost two of our kitties this year, both elder cats with multiple health issues, so it wasn’t totally unexpected, but nonetheless sad. Seems that I can remember the not-so-good highlights better than the good, doesn’t it? My niece came up with the idea of writing down every good thing that happens to her this year on a scrap of paper, then accumulating the scraps in a mason jar, to be looked at only at the end of the year. This is maybe not such a bad idea!

Now on to my hopes for 2015. As mentioned above, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for cultural, political, socio-economic improvement across the globe or here in the US, so I’m not even going to ponder that here and now. I learned long ago not to make New Year resolutions, as I’ve never kept one yet. So, in looking ahead to the coming year, I can only speculate. I would like to say that as I age, I become a kinder, wiser person, more tolerant of my fellow humans, but the reality is that with each passing year I find I have a lower tolerance level for certain characteristics of some humans. I do, however, seem to become more outspoken when I perceive injustice in the world, and while that may be contrary to being a kinder, more gentle person, I don’t think it’s anything I would want to change, even if I could. I think it is time for all of us to start standing firmer and speaking more forcefully against the injustices that run rampant throughout the world. I take on many causes from time to time: climate change, racism, intolerance, poverty, human rights, gun control and yes, even religion. Rarely are my views popular, but they are always honest, always my own. Those of you who know me well probably already know to expect more of the same this year. The rest of you … feel free to ignore me or to present your own views, just don’t expect me to shut up! Though I don’t make New Year resolutions, there are a few areas in which I’ve been disappointed in myself this past year and plan to make some changes. I haven’t done near the writing nor reading I would have liked. For one thing, I bit off more than I could chew with my courses and was overwhelmed for much of the year, and for another I waste entirely too much time on useless pursuits that are mindless entertainment with little or no actual value. A few small changes here, I think, may yield some major changes in my level of self-satisfaction.

So, that’s a wrap for my reflections and hopes … kind of disappointing, isn’t it? Perhaps I will try my niece’s idea so I’ll have more positive things to reflect upon next year! Until then … I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

Hello 2016!

I do not quite understand why it is, but most of us welcome in the new year with great hope for the next 365 days, almost as if we believe that the slate we were using for the past 365 days was wiped clean at the exact moment the ball hit bottom in Times Square, and we are now starting afresh with new hopes, new dreams, a clean slate on which to write a new story, a better one.  Okay, okay … I am not going to be a the one to dash those dreams, those ethereal images that you are seeing with such joy.  Life will see to that soon enough, probably when you awaken in the morning and turn on the news, pick up the morning newspaper, or boot up the computer.

Do you make resolutions at New Year’s?  I do not, so I am always curious about people who do.  Oh sure, I hope that I can do better at certain things than I have in the past, but that is pretty much a daily hope of mine.  Do people who do make resolutions start thinking about their resolutions a week in advance?  A month?  I once had a friend who made his resolution on the morning of January 1st … same resolution every year … when he awakened with a massive hangover and resolved then and there to quit drinking, effective immediately.  His resolution usually lasted for about 12 hours.  Have you ever made a resolution and actually kept it throughout the year?  I don’t think I personally know anybody whose resolution was anything other than a dim memory by January 31st, so I am curious if some people who do make resolutions actually do manage to keep to them.

I do not make resolutions, but I think about, based on the past year, what the year 2016 might bring.  It would be lovely, and I am sure some say this is their hope for the new year, to think that within the next twelve months we will see peace and prosperity around the world, an end to wars in the Middle East, an end to racism and bigotry in our own nation, more love and tolerance, less hatred toward our fellow man, and an end to the highly annoying facebook memes that attempt to compress complex socio-political issues into a single sentence.  Who wouldn’t love to see an end to ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations?  These are dreams we could all share, even if we are divided on who should be the next president of the U.S.  But sadly, just like the person who buys a lottery ticket and goes to bed dreaming of a new home, a new car, and telling his boss “I quit”, when we look back a year from now, I am pretty sure those problems will still exist, others will have joined them, and people will still be … well, human.

Filosofa is not a cynic, contrary to what you may think.  I am actually known in my circle of friends as quite the optimist … annoyingly to some.  But I am a pragmatist, a realist, and as such I do not live in a world of dreams.  One of the readers of this blog commented yesterday that we need to say to ourselves, “okay, the world is a mess … now how do we fix it?”  I like that attitude. So, while I do not make resolutions, I do have hopes.  Unlike hopes for world peace, an end to all war, etc., my hopes are that people will start asking themselves “what can I do to make the world a little bit better?”  And then start looking for answers.  The answers are all around you, if you just realize what the question is.  Many years ago, my answer to this question was, and still is, to treat everybody as human beings.  These days, I try to make a difference by writing, in hopes that I might be able to make just one person think about things that matter.  Most of us, realistically, are not in a position to bring about world peace.  We cannot all be Mother Teresa or Gandhi.  We cannot all be leaders of nations.  But we can make small differences within our own small spheres of influence, in our community, in our neighborhood.  We can volunteer one day a month at a homeless shelter or food pantry, we can help a neighbor who is struggling, we can donate unwanted clothing or food items to the poor.  We can find ways to fight violence without resorting to more violence.  We can talk a little bit nicer to people, say “good morning” and “thank you so much” to the young person who bags our groceries.  Think that doesn’t make a difference?  Think again.

So my hope for the new year is that we all try very hard to find the small things that we can do to help people we come into contact with every day.  No, it will not end the conflict in Syria, it will not eradicate Iran’s enriched uranium supply, and it will not remove Donald Trump from the presidential race, but a lot of little deeds add up to making the world just a little bit better.  You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution … your choice.

In closing, I wish each and every one of you a year of peace within your own family and circle of friends, good health and that you be able to meet all of your needs.  Happy New Year!