AM I WHITE?

In the 2008 and 2012 race was a key issue because we had an African American man running for President. Despite facing opposition because of his race , he won both times and was an excellent President. In 2016 race has become a key issue again because of the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. He wants to send undocumented immigrants back to their homeland and build a wall ( Notice that he never mentions people whose VISA’S have expired and are still here – because they are from White European countries? ). He has also insulted African Americans and Jews. Along with race he has been homophobic, misogynistic and even mocked a reporter with MS.

This type of hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a similar type of individual named Adolf Hitler, who in the 1930’s campaigned for an Aryan nationalistic Germany. The outcome was the destruction of millions of lives and many countries. Trump’s cry of “Take our country back” – to what? When white  straight men controlled everything?  That isn’t what made America great. What made America great is the diversity in cultures, race and religion all coming together for a united purpose. Besides if anyone should want to “Take the country back” it should be Native Americans. Although after what has been done to it maybe they wouldn’t want it back.

My sister and I grew up in Aurora , Colorado. Today Aurora is the second most diverse city in the United States. When we were growing up in the 60’s it was literally Lilly white. Because of our brown skin my sister and I were mistaken to be Mexican. I learned at an early age that the word Spic was not used as a term of endearment. The only other kids of color where kids whose parents were stationed on Fitzsimons Army Hospital Base. Growing up my two best friends were a Jewish kid and a Filipino kid. We remained friends way past high school, even after I came out. ( Ironically they both ended up having gay brothers. We are everywhere ). Throughout my life I have made friends with people from many cultures , races and religions. We have teased each other from time to time but mostly we embraced each other and each other’s families. I still get teased because I am limited to the kind of food I like. Yes, I have been willing to try everything but at the end of the day the question remains when we go out ” Is this a restaurant where Joe will find something he likes?”

I feel that because of the diversity of my friends and becoming a part of so many of their families that I have grown as an individual and wouldn’t change a thing. For the Trump supporters that feel that I am not white enough for them – they can kiss my Lilly white ***. We have a unique opportunity in this year’s election. We can defeat Trump and tell the world that his vision of America is not now or ever has been what we want. Hillary Clinton is more than qualified to lead this already great country and I am hoping that with an effort we can elect her President in a landslide election. Yes every vote matters.

Bernie Is No Obama

At first I supported Bernie Sanders and his campaign ideas. However, after watching him as a candidate and doing extensive research on him and his career, I have concluded that he is not fit to be President. Let’s start with his dysfunctional campaign: It started off with his campaign stealing data from Hillary’s campaign. Of course then at the debate he apologized and said the people had been fired ( of course he never mentioned returning the data). Then this individual states that Hillary is not qualified for the job. Really? Hillary has a resume of accomplishments at least 1,000 times greater than his.Then in New York at a rally, a Bernie surrogate calls Hillary a corporate whore – nice. Even worse, Bernie waits to apologize until there is a backlash to this speech. Of course everyone will always remember Bernie’s Pope visit. First he states that he has been invited to meet with the Pope, then when that is proven to be false, we learn that he is flying to Rome to give a 10 minute speech. Then he doubles down on the stupidity by standing outside the Pope’s door at 4AM so he can say that he met the Pope.

Bernie has accomplished very little in his 30 year career in congress. He has had 3 bills passed and two of those were to rename post offices. Sure he has attended many rallies and protests and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I remember watching with pride when Archbishop Iakovos marched arm in arm with Martin Luther King in Selma. But at some point you have to come in off the streets and actually work to change the system. Bernie lived off the state until he was 40 and got his first job and his first time voting. Yes, i attended many protests but I also worked my butt off trying to get things to change. As a freshman at the University of Colorado, I went to my first state convention as a McGovern delegate. I went with friends and we passed out petitions to get the Democratic party to put a gay rights plank   in the party platform. It failed but looked at the changes that have happened over the years by working within the party system. Gay rights is now a major plank in the Party’s platform. Or also, in my freshman year 2 of my gay friends and 3 women friends and I went to downtown Denver to meet Gloria Steinem and we proudly created Denver’s chapter of NOW, which is still in existence today. What has Bernie done besides yell and protest.

Finally, what nerve Bernie and his supporters have in saying that Hillary supporters are not progressive enough. First Hillary and Bernie have voted 93% the same on issues. Plus just how progressive is Bernie? Let’s see, he voted against gun control ( voted against the Brady bill 5 times ), voted against stem cell research ( proposed that the doctors involved should go to jail ), voted against the Amber alert bill and voted to put a nuclear waste dump in a lower income Latino community – Those votes are progressive?

The final straw for me was when he criticized Obama for not doing enough,.seriously? Bernie is a worn out old hippie, who has accomplished nothing in his life but protesting and yelling. This individual is not fit to be President.

Why I Don’t Feel The “BERN”

When he first announced that he would run for President, I admired Bernie Sanders and supported many of his ideas. However as time has gone on and the more I have heard him speak and the more I have researched his career the more I have come to dislike him. I find him ethically challenged and hypocritical. The one positive that I will credit him with is pulling the Democratic Party more to the left in this election cycle. That’s where it ends.

To begin with Bernie isn’t even a registered Democrat. And yes that is a big deal. He has spent years criticizing the Democratic Party and even advocated for someone to Primary President Obama in 2012 because Bernie felt that Obama just wasn’t liberal enough for his satisfaction. Now however, he wants the party to support him no questions asked. Trump is more ethical than Bernie, at least he is a registered republican. Bernie has raised the issue of super delegates and how they are unfair.Well guess what Bern, you knew they existed and perhaps most of them support Hillary because she is an actual Democrat. The super delegates have been around since 1972 and in 2008 most of them supported Hillary at the beginning of the campaign. That changed when Obama went ahead in elected delegates. Many of them switched to him. Guess what Bernie has never led Hillary in elected delegates or popular vote this year so why should the super delegates switch to support someone who’s chance of getting the nomination is slim and none?

Then there is the issue of voting. Bernie attacks Hillary for voting for the Iraq war. Hillary has admitted that she did and regretted her vote. Now when Bernie is asked why he voted against the Brady Bill 5 times ( background checks, waiting periods) his excuse is that Vermont is a state that likes its guns and hunting ( voting no on these issues is progressive – really?) News flash Bernie, Colorado is also a state where people enjoy their guns and hunting. The Democrats in Colorado however had enough ethics and moral fiber to pass gun laws that called for background checks, waiting periods and limited the size of the magazine rounds. In spite of republican hysteria and recall elections, the Democratic Party is still in charge in Colorado and the laws still remain. These elected Democratic officials stood up for what they believe in. This is a lesson Bernie should learn.

Bernie has been either in the house or Senate for a combined 25 years and has been able to pass only 3 bills. Yeah he shouts a lot but he can’t get his fellow congressmen to support him on any of his bills. In fact I find it interesting that Ted Cruz is said to be hated by the Republican Party and that is why none of his fellow Republican Senators will endorse him. So what does that say about Bernie? He does not have one Senate endorsement, not even from Patrick Leahy his co -Senator from Vermont.

I could go on about what we have encountered with some of his supporters here in Colorado at our caucus. I got the chance to speak with many of them. Half were in their 30’s and 40’s and had never voted before. The others were either ex Independents or Ex Republicans who had switched last fall just to vote for Bernie ( ” But if Bernie loses I will never support the Democratic Party – how nice!). Finally there is the caucus training video on you tube where the trainer is telling potential caucus goers ” After the caucus you can change your registration back. Just for this one day pretend you are a loyal Democrat and get that vote in for Bernie” I don’t feel the “bern” but there seems to be an awful smell coming from a certain campaign.

Refugees

What happened in Paris on Friday was tragic and unforgivable and the perpetrators need to be severally punished. However, the reaction by right wing ignorant bigots toward the Syrian refugees fleeing their war torn country trying to save their families is also unforgivable.

First, so many of these hate filled humans have the nerve to call themselves Christian. Ironically the majority of the refugees are Christians fleeing persecution. These so called American “Christians” must not have read the Bible. In the book Jesus became famous for teaching to “love thy neighbor or do unto others “. Or from Matthew Jesus says “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me”

Plus, so far all the attackers have been European Nationals – not Syrians! Will we make the same ignorant mistakes that we did as a country in World War II?  All Japanese Americans on the west coast were relocated and Jewish refugees were turned away when fleeing Hitler – all because of fear.

True Christians don’t fear this way because they know they have God on their side. Could it be that many of these ” Christians ” are in name only? I am very proud that Governor Hickenlooper has said the refugees would be welcome in Colorado. I am also very proud that President Obama isn’t willing to just jump into another war with American troops. The right wing chickenhawks advocating for “boots on the ground ” do so because they know they have nothing to lose – their family members will never serve and be in harms way.

Weight Watchers

Over the years I have done fairly well keeping my weight reasonable and fighting the battle of the bulge. Under 1,000 pounds is preferred as you want to make sure that you always fit through the kitchen door and have access to the refrigerator. Recent events however. have made my weight watching more difficult.

The most recent event that has impacted my weight watching has been my new job.  The Iranian doctor I work for is a very pleasant and kind man. However , I have discovered that the Iranians are very much like the Greeks when it comes to food ( scary right? ). Food is the answer to everything. And just like Greek food everything that they eat is fat free. ( Well that’s what I was told. Why would they lie?).

At least twice a week the good doctor buys lunch for everyone. Now, I haven’t eaten lunch for years but I was told that in Iran when someone declines an offer of food it is considered an insult ( This of course brings back memories of yiayia “Eat, you don’t want to hurt yiayia’s feelings do you?”). Plus it really isn’t wise to insult your boss.

The food is usually ordered from one of many Mediterranean restaurants in the area ( And yes it is delicious! ). Just this past Wednesday, we celebrated the doctor buying his oldest daughter a new car, with another very delicious catered meal. Yes, there were also several desserts to choose from since not everyone likes the same thing. I think my only recourse will be to ask the doctor to buy me a membership with Weight Watchers or perhaps we could do like the Japanese and exercise at our desks with exercise music piped into the office.  ( Remember the Chicken Fat song in high school gym class?).

Dumb Animals

Anyone who has had a dog or cat as a pet knows that these furry creatures are not dumb. They have a way of taking control of your heat and then you are hooked to a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship.

For example my two cats. Last week at Target there was a sale on a new type of cat litter and the price was terrific. I bought it and brought it home and changed the litter box. The next day the cats were meowing very loudly. I went to see why and they had pooped on the floor. ( The litter box was untouched ). The next day the same thing happened. I immediately went back to Target and bought my old brand of litter. I changed the litter in the box and as I carried it back into the room, I looked down to see both cats smiling from ear to ear. ( Dumb animals, right? ).

My dog Apollo was the most spoiled of all. He was so tiny when I brought him home that I could never bring myself to yell at him or spat him on the butt when I was disciplining him. This made potty training especially exciting. I would pick him up and be saying no,no,no until we got outside. He eventually learned to use the dog door but not until we had many exciting adventures getting him outside together. Every time I looked at that cute little furry face , he had me and it broke my heart when he died so suddenly last December

The Perks Of Getting Older

As a society we seem to have a general view that getting older is something bad. However, we need to focus more on the good points of getting older. For example :  Going to the theater. At most theaters in metro Denver they have a reduced rate for admission for senior citizens, generally three dollars off the price. If you are willing to wait a few months you can go to the Elvis Theater for only one dollar ( Yes Elvis is alive and well in Denver ).

The Church provides another perk: The Wednesday Paraklesis service begins at five. The service usually ends around six. This way you don’t have senior citizens driving late at night. I am particularly pleased with this arrangement because on Wednesday night my favorite show ” The Big Bang theory ” comes on at seven. The service ending at six allows me plenty of time to get home grab a diet coke and some chocolate chip cookies before sitting down in front of the TV. ( I believe in snacking nutritiously ). I also have a couple of peanut butter cookies for Darcy since dogs should not eat chocolate. I prefer to believe that he enjoys snuggling with me on the bed and watching TV because he loves me and not because of the snacks he gets.

The best perk of all in getting older is not caring how you look or dress. When I was younger, I was very fashion conscious and it would take me hours to make sure that I left the house dressed in style. Now I figure , as long as the necessary parts are covered, who cares? I guess I won’t be appearing on the cover of GQ anytime soon.

Memories

On Sunday October 25TH we will have my dad’s one year memorial service. The start of college football this fall had already brought back many memories. In the fall of 1972, I was a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Boulder. I had just purchased football tickets for Saturday’s game against Air Force Academy for my dad, my mom and sister.  After watching Ralphie lead the team onto the field, being in a jam packed stadium full of noisy fans and watching the Buffs throttle Air Force, my dad was hooked. Later that day, we found out that this had been the very first football game that my dad had ever attended.

The biggest thrill for my dad came when in 1991 we were able to attend the Orange Bowl in Miami and watch the Buffs win the national title. On the flight home, my dad sat next to the Governor ( also a huge CU fan ) and while the rest of us on the flight tried to get some rest we could hear the Governor and my dad using their “inside voices” talking about the game.

My dad used to say that he had so many Buffs shirts that he could wear a different one every day for the rest of his life. This probably was close to being true since for every Christmas, birthday and Father’s day he did get a new Buffs shirt.

My dad was also extremely proud to have voted for president Obama twice (” I never thought I would live long enough to see a black men elected President” ). He also ,with a little urging, voted to legalize marijuana. he was always grateful that Colorado never broke out into reefer madness as many people warned would happen. He also supported gay marriage or as he would say ” Joe’s people have a right to get married just like anyone else”. It made me feel like Moses ( my people ).

Code This

On October first of this year the medical community of the United States will join the rest of the world’s medical community. This will be the day that this country finally enacts the new medical codes to be used for billing. We are just slightly behind the rest of the world ( 10 years and yes we are literally the last country to adopt these new codes ). So, if you go to your doctor’s office or a hospital and see people behaving weirdly, they have a good reason because literally thousands of medical codes now have brand new numbers.

Of course there is a coding converter available on line. I just hope that when I am converting old codes ( ICD9 ) to new codes ( ICD10 ), that I don’t accidently pick a pregnancy code for some of our patients ( we deal mostly with the elderly in the home healthcare business ). Imagine the surprise of some of these elderly patients ( especially the men ), when they find that   they are being charged for pregnancy services. Of course there is that saying ” It is never too late”.

After talking with some of my friends that are still doing medical coding, it appears that some may retire early due to the stress of the conversion. After a while you memorize certain codes that you use over and over. Now all that has changed. This made me think though, I wonder if they have a new code for suicide from coding stress. Seems that this could become a popular code in the coming months.

The Saint Nicholas National Shrine Weekend

This coming Sunday the parishioners At Saint Catherine and Assumption Cathedral will be having a joint service at the Cathedral to show unity and support and raise money for the new Saint Nicholas Parish which was destroyed on 9/11.  This means the Church will be packed. We decided as a family that cousin Mary Johns will spend Friday night at the Cathedral and make sure that our pews are there for us on Sunday. We don’t want any of those “foreigners” from the other Church taking our seats.

Plus communion should be interesting. I have been to several services at Saint Catherine Church and the people there are just way too polite. They actually wait for the usher to dismiss them to go to the altar when Communion is announced. At the Cathedral when Communion is announced it is everyone for themselves. People jump out of their pews and race to be first in line for Communion ( Now these are my type of Greeks). The folks from Saint Catherine better be careful or they will be trampled on their way to Communion.

I was also thinking that we could do something to make the event more lively and memorable. Perhaps divide the Cathedral in half  and then like at a football game have each side wear their chosen Church colors. Plus you would have religious cheers to liven things up. Perhaps :   ” We have Jesus, Yes we do” We have Jesus, How about you?”  Yes a a bit unconventional but it would be very memorable.