The Pentagon’s Coup is Complete

Dear readers: $1.48 Trillion in spending for the Pentagon has been approved by the House.

If you can look at that list of 219 Democrats without the urge to vomit or violently punch someone in the throat (that was my reaction), then guess what? Your programming is complete, congratulations. You have been fully lobotomized.

The party of the downtrodden has overwhelmingly decided to support a lying dictator (no matter what they might say on TV) AND this psychotic, murderous Pentagon with their ever-growing need for more weapons, more destruction, and more support for the folks that ARE MISSING $22 TRILLION ALREADY. Think about that.

The only thing the Pentagon doesn’t want more of is agency-wide accountability. The last audit was two years ago now, one of only 3 in the last 25 years. The missing $22 Trillion that the Pentagon just can’t account for seems blackly comical, except it’s not.

We keep throwing our hard-earned cash at them without batting a single eyelash. THIS is the very definition of a dystopian reality we’re living in now, bitches. Buck up, and pay yer’ taxes, fight our boogeymen, and don’t protest. The CEO of Lockheed Martin needs a new yacht.

Oh, how I long for September 10th… Remember that day? When Rumsfeld announced a “war” on the Pentagon’s budget because they were missing $2 Trillion? How cute. That number has now usurped the GDP of India.

Of course the very next day the Pentagon was hit by a plane, so we forgot all about that silliness and immediately pumped more dollars than ever into military budgeting. Interestingly tactical, that a Boeing 757 (that no one has footage of anywhere) should hit the Pentagon’s accounting department. Those bean counters never knew what hit them. Sorry guys, but we’re not doing that anymore…

0 1 0 9 1 4 – F – 8 0 0 6 R – 0 0 5 FBI agents, fire fighters, rescue workers and engineers work at the Pentagon crash site on Sept. 14, 2001, where a high-jacked American Airlines flight slammed into the building on Sept. 11. The terrorist attack caused extensive damage to the west face of the building and followed similar attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Cedric H. Rudisill. (Released)

Personally, I find it a little weird that the Pentagon hit doesn’t look like the WTC tower. I know we have two different angles of impact and there are likely other factors involved but this doesn’t look like a plane hit the building at all. A Boeing 757 has a wingspan of over 120 feet wide. More pics of the aerial damage are available at

A 757 cut through the North and South Towers like butter. America watched as an airplane was swallowed whole into the 78th floor.

Footage of the South Tower upon impact. I have been doing 9/11 research for two years and I’m noticing a lot of footage being scrubbed from YouTube. Download while you can:

Our Pentagon and government has been shown time and again to be completely and obscenely wasteful without remorse and without a shred of accountability to the American people who fund their warmongering ways. When we will we have enough of political parties which are designed to divide us and keep us distracted from the serious problems we have? We could have had a completely green energy system implemented by now, and these covert wars of conquest in the Middle East and South America must be stopped. THOSE are our biggest problems.

Without resolving those issues nothing else can happen. We must look at root causes if we are to challenge and fix our democracy. The hour is late but we can still do something about it, I believe. Maybe that’s a foolish belief but I will fight for peace overseas and transparency in our government’s spending until my dying day without regret. It doesn’t matter if I make any real difference in the world, it only matters that I continue to speak for what’s right.

Each and every person can do this – I know the urge to give up is strong, but don’t. Use common sense, and don’t hate your Republican neighbor. Clearly the Democrats are on board with never-ending war, at the expense of all the other things we could do with that money. Trump is a symptom of the disease, not the cause.

Check out the article from Common Dreams that references the recent budget vote in the House.

Justin Amash: Independent Man

Amash, (I) Mich. Interview with Jake Tapper on CNN

Justin Amash: Independent Man

Justin Amash has left the GOP and all his committee assignments. Scandalously (note to new readers, that’s sarcasm), he’s chosen to be an Independent in D.C., which of course I’m not going to disguise my pleasure about (not sarcasm). I honestly think this two-party dog and pony show has got to go, and wish Amash well. Perhaps more will follow.

Then again, I’ll hold my tongue. If too many Senators start going rogue and declaring Independent status it wouldn’t be long before being Independent would be as corrupted and meaningless as being a Republican or Democrat is. My condolences to those of you who still believe in party alignment. You’ll probably hate my POV in general – it’s best you just stop reading now and save yourself the aggravation.

My registered Independent status is dear precisely because it is not an organized party, not in the establishment sense. Actually, as far as the DNC is concerned it might as well be Anarchism, for heaven’s sake. I guess we’re considered liberal (or the dreaded “Liberal” with a capital L) but I notice most Independents have unique views that crossover into many ideologies and are not easily categorized, though many try. I am liberal, but most Liberals do not share my political views which is fine by me. It takes all kinds to make the world go around, right?

The GOP is not wasting the Amash departure opportunity to get in line with the President, and although their public position is something akin to “you’re dead to me”, I have a feeling they’re secretly jealous. No grown-up can maintain dignity when they’re terrified of the repercussions of defying their Commander in Tweet. That’s all right Senators, you can pass notes in the Congressional bathroom.

I admit: I have never heard of Amash before. I follow politics pretty closely but I’m a long way from having the entire Senate memorized. In any case, better late than never. So far I am impressed with the way he carries himself in this brief interview and believed him when he spoke of his commitment to his constituents being his primary concern. Tapper was flummoxed of course, the poor dear. What’s better than holding partisan power on deadlocked Congressional committees?? NOTHING screams Tapper’s soul but he maintained control, God bless him.

Amash has some interesting things to say about the way power works (or doesn’t) in D.C. and I found his candor brave and refreshing. I would love to hear what readers think about his move, so please comment away (whether you like him or not). (FYI – Because of spam and for your protection from hackers I monitor comments before they go live, at least for now.)

During the interview, Amash framed his choice to leave the party as the only way he can get some legislative work done or at least openly try. He is confident in the support from his district and I’m not surprised there.

Amash goes on to discuss how proposing Amendments to legislation has become a closed process under both previous Speaker Ryan and the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has some strong feelings regarding Pelosi’s stance on impeachment and he rightly called out her hypocrisy to that end. I will let you discover that tea for yourself – do enjoy. Key Republicans have already taken to Twitter to speak out against Amash but again, I think it is a show for Trump.

A lot of American people are fed up with the BS partisanship, or at least a large portion of us are. Being a woman of a certain age I do remember a time when the parties would appear to somewhat cooperate and speak respectfully to one another. Maybe a little shade got thrown here and there but absolutely nothing like what we’ve seen since the last Bush term.

The lack of decorum has continued to spiral downward, and with each passing year discourse amongst the political vanguard reaches a new low. Maybe we do need Maryanne Williamson to come in and teach some basic spiritual principles of cause and effect. You don’t pour oil all over fires and expect them to extinguish, but our executive branch has not gotten the “Rule With Love” memo.

Justin Amash is from Michigan, the state which brought us the Flint water crisis and the DeVos family. I don’t know if Amash represents Flint but they could certainly use someone like him in their corner. I hope readers are aware that the water continues to poison people there, and though there have been some indictments of city employees I find it irritating that the news outlets haven’t been at least speculating about the role of Nestle in this matter. I found one article from 2017 in The Guardian that mentions it and have added that link to this post’s footnotes.

Nestle has been siphoning off water from several locations in Michigan for only $200/year, pumping between 150,000 and 450,000 gallons of water per minute. Residents of Flint are outraged that the company is profiting off selling water back to them and depleting their natural resources at a time when Michigan hasn’t directed financial resources to fix the residential water supply . Nestle gets to make their bottled water and drinks by using an obscure interpretation of a Michigan law regarding usage and water access, thereby virtually privatizing what ought to be a public asset.

This is a practice Nestle used when they tried to take over the water supply in San Bernadino, CA and other cities in the last decade, a practice halted after a 2015 investigation by the California water board and subsequent lawsuit concluded it didn’t have the rights. Fun fact: residents of San Bernadino were helped by Bernie Sanders back then with a grassroots campaign that saved their water supply, a fact I’ve never heard Sanders brag about. Then again, I don’t think he does very strong self-promotion at all, which is part of what makes him appealing I suppose. Watch C-Span and you will see a lot of his activism within the Congress that he also doesn’t boast about and should, but I digress.

To add a little salt in the wound, the Guardian piece I read stated that many residents of Flint had their water shut off for delinquent bill payment. Ah, the hypocrisy of capitalism at work when it comes to the poor is brutally efficient.

Amash’s declaration of Independence couldn’t have come at a better time, and he seemed unruffled and had a poised response to Trump’s grade-school Twitter ire.

Mainstream news coverage lost its mask of respectability when Gary Webb got killed, assassin-style, two bullets to the head. (He was the journalist who broke the Iran-Contra scandal and was marginalized and ridiculed by his peers for years before being conveniently “suicided”, because shooting yourself twice is like, so possible…I know, I’m digressing again…) Long story short, I’m surprised CNN chose to do this interview at all.

Let me know your thoughts either here in the comment section of this blog, on my Twitter or Facebook page, Jennifer Psallidas/Writer, where I’ll be cross-posting.

A little housekeeping here before I leave you and return to my whiskey. You may have noticed it already but if not I want to call to your attention to the domain name change for this website, in case you get email when I post. I’ve chosen the more succinct but the old site address should still be working too.

And a final note, because I wrote this post off the top of my head. Though I’m signing off for the evening, in the spirit of open-source journalism I promise to finish adding links throughout the body of this post and below (look to **extras for additional context). I seriously encourage readers to always question anything I’ve stated, and to dig into informing yourselves on these and ALL matters.

I don’t know who said it but the quote “Freedom is not free” seems apropos these days, and I truly hope folks are motivated to learn as much as possible about what is happening behind the scenes of the government and the mainstream press as well. We as citizens must do the work of educating ourselves at a time of public fatigue with the plethora of information available, most of very little substance.

The fear of outrage and retribution from our peers and neighbors is the same thing those in Congress are facing, though it plays out on a different stage. One thing we citizens can do to empower ourselves is to accept responsibility for our role in creating the situations we find ourselves in. We can do this by not tuning out, and also recognize our own cognitive biases that confirm false narratives. A greater tolerance for frustration is a definite plus.

Let’s avoid the herd mentality of shaming and marginalizing people who ask questions as “fringe”, conspiracy theorists, racists, Russian trolls, or stupid. If you only make one alteration to your current mindset, may I suggest calling the TV “news” “infotainment” instead? It’s a term that more adequately describes media’s current function.

I have been Left-leaning all my life but I have been listening to the so-called Right a lot over the past year and they do have a good point about many issues. So do Independents and Libertarians. Shaming and censorship of ideas only makes the worst of those ideas proliferate and gain credibility.

It’s late; my whiskey awaits. Good night and Goddess bless.

Links in order of appearance plus some extras marked with an **:

The Atlantic: How American Politics Went Insane

The Guardian: Flint water crisis: Michigan’s top health official to face trial over deaths

**Michigan Live: Find out how much your county uses water with this database.

Michigan Residents Deplore Plan to Allow Nestle to Pump Water for Next to Nothing

** The Story of Stuff Project: Nestle Takes on the Tap

** Hilarious clip: Bill Burr riffs on Nestle (at 2:18) on Conan.

**Nestle’s website responds to questions about legality of taking water from San Bernadino forest.

EcoWatch: Settlement Ends Nestlé’s Expired ‘Zombie’ Permit to Siphon Water From San Bernardino National Forest

Nestlé Spring Water Extractions in San Bernardino National Forest

Federal Prisons Continue Contracting with Private Industry // Clinton-Era Setencing Rules That Just Won’t Die

The Trump administration has quickly abandoned the Obama administration’s resolve to no longer contract with for-profit private prisons. Companies like The GEO Group and CoreCivic Inc. lead the industry and have contracts with the federal government, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Obama announced the move away from the private prison system last September. It came shortly after a Mother Jones undercover investigative report (June 2016) took Americans inside one of the country’s most dangerous, run by Corrections Corporation of America in Alabama.

With Trump green-lighting private prisons in the federal system once again, there seems to be little hope that for-profit prison’s history of cutting corners (CO pay, overcrowding, safety violations, keeping inmates after their sentences are up) will see desperately-needed reform.

Already a source of major profits for shareholders who make more money from higher occupancy rates, many major companies (Whole Foods, AT&T, Walmart) now utilize prison labor, somewhat under the radar from the public. Under scrutiny for paying wages as low as 16 cents/hr in some cases, the rules surrounding fair pay for inmate labor favor businesses rather than protect laborers – and I’m guessing (no data on this) it impacts American jobs and salaries.

There are laws that govern prison wages, such as the Percy Amendment, but these are outdated. Private companies contracting prison labor must meet minimum wage requirements or something close to it,  but there are tax breaks that companies get for using this labor. Laborers which are not declared as official “employees” and thus do not have to pay unemployment taxes, for example.

Additionally, up to 80% of prison pay is deducted from their checks for various fees that go back to the prison, like room & board. This seems like double dipping to me, at least in the case of private prisons since they are already given a guaranteed stipend from the state they’re in based on minimum contracted occupancy levels. Also if there is a room and board charge only for those who work, it is unfair and inconsistently applied.

I have firsthand observed how stressful it is for inmates to successfully assimilate back into society and meet financial obligations upon release. Finding a place to live, meeting the terms of parole and fines imposed by the courts are heavy responsibilities for someone with no income. Recidivism could be greatly reduced if the corporations leveraging prison labor were forced to acknowledge them as actual employees, making prisoners eligible for unemployment benefits upon release.

And that brings us to this past Friday, when a two-page memo was released by Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructing US attorneys to, among other things, “immediately” adhere to mandatory sentencing guidelines which have been proven ineffective.

He asserted in a statement to the public that he was looking to punish drug traffickers, but the Clinton-era crackdown on crime has long been proven a total disaster. Minimum mandatory sentencing laws disproportionately jailed people of color and non-violent drug users who pose no threat to public safety.

Former AG Eric Holder said the easing of mandatory minimums for non violent offenders has enabled the Justice Department to jail more high-level drug dealers.

Muddying the prison pot are Session’s investments, which might prove a serious conflict of interest. I’m trying to track down if he followed up on orders to divest once he took the AG office, but the jury is still out…here’s what I did find:

Sessions has considerable holdings in Vanguard, the largest purveyor of funds with investment in the private prison industry.

  • iVanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – consists of both GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. stocks worth over $164,000,000. Sessions investment value is from $15,001 – $50,000.
  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – same fund as above, but Sessions lists investment value between $1,001 – $15,000.
  • Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares – consisits of stocks from The GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc. valued at over $173,500,000. Sessions shows investments valued from $15,000 – $50,000.
  • Vanguard Total International Stock Index Admiral Shares – contains GEO Holdings Corporation stock valued at over $4,400,000. Sessions owns $1,001 – $15,000 of this fund.

Vice Motherboard reported in January (2017), Sessions failed to disclose the 600-acres of subsurface oil and mineral reserves located beneath a wildlife refuge in Alabama. I’m not super-wealthy, so I have no idea what it’s like to completely forget I have land worth more than I could dare to guess. But Sessions does not adhere to the same strict rule of law for himself as he is ready to impose on others.

I am not aware of any reports that he divested from his Vanguard funds listed above, and if he hasn’t it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a story I’m watching with a weary eye.

The two-page Sessions memo is linked via NPR:

Spotlight on Sex Slaves Around the World

I understand you might have errands to run today so if you want to catch the key part of this almost two-hour Senate hearing, Ashton Kutcher’s opening remarks begin around the 27 minute mark and last for just over 15 minutes. It’s unpleasant to think about but 24 million people are trapped in the sex trade against their will and forced into slavery, and 27 million people are enslaved overall worldwide. That, to me, is unacceptable.

Kutcher’s THORN foundation has developed a technology called Spotlight that has already tracked down thousands of victims in the last few months. He’s only got 25% of the data in thus far so it stands to reason those numbers might be quite a bit higher. I watched this at 5am this morning and it really hit a nerve. I’ve been doing too much research into the depravity of humankind lately, but I’ve gotta say, abducting people and molesting them has got to be the lowest expression of the evil we can get up to.

I got to thinking about the Podesta emails, which I had downloaded from WikiLeaks and read just for kicks last month. I went so far down that rabbit hole I came back up and said, no way…this can’t be true. It’s utterly ridiculous. But then again, with the arrest of former Speaker of the House and friend-to-Podesta, the Dennis Hastert case serves as a reminder that there are dots to connect here. And the recent LA Child Trafficking sting in which 474 people were arrested basically screamed “this is not a fringe issue!!” into my heart, though mainstream cable media will not cover it.

Then I remembered when I used to do illegal things I had a motto: Hide In Plain Sight. Yup! Seriously, the next time you’re in Ibiza trying to pass your friend a pill or have an adult refreshment, don’t try to be sneaky about it. Just do your business and get on with your evening, OK? Acting all furtive and paranoid only calls the wrong kind of attention to you, and nobody wants to get pulled into a back room by security goons or a police officer. Just be cool. Nothing to see here.

And that’s how Americans are able to brush off a lot of intense news, because it gets reported so casually that even the people involved don’t lose their cool. With some of the more technically intense stories, like the logistics behind 9/11 for example – it is probably way beyond the scope of most American’s understanding of how structurally things work in our government, or to know chain-of-command and procedural protocols should we be under threat. Also, the U.S. being way behind other countries when it comes to science education crippled our ability to even know what questions to ask. Generally speaking, people accepted whatever story the press laid out, and if certain details didn’t get discussed we certainly didn’t miss them. Like the fact that three buildings collapsed, not two. I’m guilty – I didn’t even remember WTC building 7 until I dug into the story again 15 years later.

So you see, that “nothing to see here” approach works quite well in our churn and burn news cycle. But the reporting on the tragedy that occurred on 9/11 was probably the worst journalism ever…with a close second being the 2008 financial crisis that absolutely nobody saw coming. Aye. Well, I want to talk PizzaGate all day long until I figure out that there is either something to it or there isn’t. But I’m like a dog with a chewy toy: I’m not letting go.

Maybe writing this and talking about things without censorship is my way of calling out to the collective for a level-headed approach to emerge. Can we give life in the news to so-called conspiracies like PizzaGate in a way that doesn’t feel bombastic or hyperbolic? A single reporter – Ben Swann – discussed the landscape of the evidence available on a local affiliate news station in Atlanta and was immediately ridiculed and threatened. He’s actually missing now, and all his social media has gone dark. Scary!

I spent a long LONG time researching 9/11 and I will say this:  getting data dumps of declassified documents and learning physics only to get a collective eye roll from the people around me as though I’m out of my mind – it does sting a little. But evidence is compelling nonetheless. So if I look a little silly to you, that’s OK with me. I’m going to ignore your look of condescension because I’m not crazy.

Back to the video. Kutcher’s passion really shines and he’s very educated on this topic, especially in drawing a direct line from foster care to sex crimes and trafficking. He rightly points out that our current corporate culture of manufacturing abroad in poor conditions is contributing, which I thought was a really smart connection to make.

Years ago I used to think by not shopping at Walmart I was making a political statement. My daughter went in Walmart for the first time when she was 10,  only because I was desperate for a router. I realize my well-meaning protest is just a small whisper into the gaping abyss of human suffering that is inherent in EVERY thing we buy. I can not absolve myself; I am absolutely contributing to slavery no matter where I shop.

I think by holding America’s largest corporation’s feet to the fire, we could get the Walmarts and Apples of the world to lead the way for the rest. For American companies and American citizens to condone working conditions that are anything less than the conditions we demanded for ourselves at the turn of the 19th century is uncivilized. Why would we want to buy goods from manufacturers that are not following good business practices worldwide?

Maybe you’re the type of person who thinks that people in other countries should be treated and paid an inferior wage, because they had nothing before and so now at least they have jobs. If you are this type of person, contact me for a hug, seriously. By pressing for ethical business practices we not only show our humanity, but we might just get some of those jobs back here in the states and get those corporations to pay their taxes.

Leveraging poor people for profit and acting like it’s a favor is a ridiculous notion that feeds into American exceptionalism,  a description I loathe because it sounds so self-indulgent. We can have patriotic pride without making the leap to exceptionalism that basically says to the world “it’s all about me.”

People are jumping out of the windows to commit suicide and getting burned alive in fires so they can make less than a living wage simply because that is better than nothing. It’s standard operating procedure for a parent company to contract a third party vendor with little to zero oversight, absolving themselves of responsibility for the conditions in factories  and ultimately, these people’s deaths. And for half their pay, employees get to live in these shitholes, dormitory-style. Sometimes they don’t get paid at all. Migrant workers will often leave one country to go to a neighboring country to work and get totally used. President Trump’s  Dubai project is a nightmare, for example. Workers on that project can’t even get their passports back to go home because they’re being held from them by their employer.

These are the conditions that both women and men find themselves in across the planet and American “fast fashion” is a big part of this equation. It’s easy to kidnap young boys and girls working in these environments. Just like it’s easy to leverage foster kids in the system here in the states for unsavory ends, or look at the Catholic church’s record of abusing lots of troubled kids over their years.

Censoring these stories or not covering them because of political or corporate pressure is a failure to protect these lives and their inherent freedom to self-determine. The Podesta emails are pretty odd, and it could be a coincidence in some cases. But there was a few emails that appeared to be discussing something in code. The infamous Comet Ping Pong Pizza has a strange website and a sister store two doors down – also selling pizza, by the way – called Buck’s Camping and Fishing. They’ve scrubbed their website since a crazed lunatic (or Podesta political plant, haha) ran into the place with a gun one afternoon last month. I found an archived version of the old Comet Pizza website and their “Friends” section was still intact somewhat – check it out, it’s weird. I don’t get why any of those links are affiliated with a pizza place, but it’s possible I’m not hip enough.

I’m not saying there’s a Hillary Clinton photo in a compromising position: I AM saying there is something fishy here. It’s global. And Podesta’s associate has already been implicated. I’m not a fan of jumping to conclusions and I will ALWAYS question a received reality. There is so much more beneath the glib surface.

How can we do better? Stop buying so much crap at Walmart and use the money you save to travel. One thing I’ve learned working for low pay at a nonprofit these last 6 years was how to live on less. I mean, roughly $30,000 less than I made when I was 25 years old. I really wanted to change my career and nothing I did before lent itself to what I did at my last job so I chose to start over rather than do something I didn’t want to do. That’s a First-World problem for ya. It’s nice to have choices, but it’s also a burden to have so much abundance. Our task is to be responsible with that abundance.

Here are some ways I humbled myself to my new pay grade: I drove an embarrassingly shitty car for a few years while I saved money to buy my sassy, gently-used Acura last year.  I didn’t lease, I bought it outright. I don’t have cable. I buy new clothes seasonally, not weekly. If there’s an event or a festival I want to go to I apply to volunteer so I can donate some time and grab a free pass. Readers who know me will note that do enjoy travel a lot. But in my 4th decade I learned how to love the adventure of meeting new people in youth hostels or I will sleep on a friend’s floor or couch.  Five-star hotels are for pussies, and you know what happens to those under the current administration.

Below is a link about an initiative working it’s way through appropriations in Congress right now. If I can find some grassroots corporate activism happening “out there” I will add them later. To create new business practices will require some serious organization. We can’t just slap on our collective pussy hats and march, though that often helps too. In conjunction with demonstrations, I predict activists have got to take a page from the Koch Brother’s manual to be effective. Well, minus the short-sightedness. And the dishonesty. And pretty much everything they stand for. OK then… Stay tuned for updates on this topic.

Fight Slavery Now! website with information about the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Striking a Balance in Uncertain Times


I took an unintentional hiatus from writing, dear readers. I had so many ideas. Too many ideas. As many of you know, I am a news and politics junkie. Having no designated horse in last year’s presidential race, I thought the ideal thing to do here would be to discuss politics in a way that could divest us from the sheer emotionality of it. I wrote several essays I never published about facts, digging into history, blah blah blah… I came off preachy; at least I realized it before I hit the “publish” button.

Part of being a writer is being an observer, but at the beginning of this year my observational compass was askew. The sheer volume and volatility of the daily news necessitated that I respond before the topic got stale, something very difficult to do given that I have few resources that other journalists have.

So I turned inward. I needed to work on myself or nothing I put out as a creative writer or a news-commentator will be without bias. True, it’s impossible to eliminate it entirely. But a self-aware person who is mindful of their intentions can create something of value to both themselves and their community.

That’s where things began to come into focus. I have always said, “You can’t change what’s happening in Afghanistan, but you CAN be a good neighbor.” I had forgotten my own commitment to community in the midst of election hoopla. Resolving to re-commit to mine, I reconsidered current commitments (Malden Cultural Council) and pondered the stories that were happening all around me that were not being told. Stories that deserved life, I felt. I am a proud Maldonian, and so I set out to discover my local scene again, never-minding the national drama.

For $30 I signed up for a class at MATV called “Writing Local History.” Currently working on a historic-fiction-genre novel, this class has turned out to be right up my proverbial alley and – bonus –  is being taught by Globe reporter and author Stephanie Schorow.

I feel blessed that a course of this caliber is being offered for such short change; I’m getting a lot more out of this class than the one I spent $2K for at Harvard last year (insert eye roll). My plan is to roll my historical novel research and interviews right into my class project, which is to write a local history piece for Neighborhood View. I’ve received so many contacts of WWII vets right here in Malden – it lends itself perfectly to a story about them for my class-related feature. What the details or theme will be will emerge as I write and interview my subjects. Part of the process is not holding on too tightly to preconceived notions so I can allow the best of these interviews to emerge. (Sidebar: contact me if you know or ARE a WWII veteran interested in being interviewed for my project.)

I recently attended Mayor Christenson’s “State of the City” breakfast and emerged with many notes about stories I wanted to investigate and potentially write about. Look for these in local outlets like the Patch or the Advocate soon.

Yet another project in development is a podcast called “In My Head” which will empty out the contents of my brain for an hour-long weekly format I hope to take to radio airwaves one day. The concept is still a secret but it will not be dull; I promise you will laugh, and you will learn something – my two favorite things to do.

So you see, I found the best way to continue is to simply add value to the world I live in. Bitching and moaning on Facebook does not change anything. I encourage readers to stop un-following and un-friending folks who hold a different worldview from you. Human beings are not here on this planet for safety or consistency, (though we crave it with every fiber of our survivalist-programmed selves). We are here to stretch, to grow, to evolve, to change, to become a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday. Anything less than that and we live in sin, which in ancient Greek means to “miss the point of existence”.

Seek to understand your neighbor, and when you don’t? Love them anyway. That is what the Creator calls us to do, if you’re into the whole God thing. And if you’re not then just be a decent fucking person – you’ve only got one go-around, eh? I have been good and I have been bad – being in the Light is much more fun, believe me.

In the meantime, since someone else developed an online database much more quickly than I ever could (ahem, Michael Moore), I will leave a couple of links below to get your political mojo active, if that’s your cup of tea.

Myself, I’m taking a step back. As a critic and commentator I think it’s important to my readers that I remain independent – for now. I may change my mind, as I often do. But that is what balance is about: minute adjustments made on a moment-to-moment basis allow me to stay in the center. Have a blessed day.

The Resistance Calendar

The Action Group Network – activist network created by House of Cards writer Beau Willimon, who’s taking a break from writing to get involved in grassroots work nationwide.

5 Calls App – **the best activist hack, like, ever…