October is usually one of my two favorite months of the year, November being the other. Unfortunately, it did not live up to its usual joy for me. It has left me with way too much time to think. It began with far too many sleepless nights caring for an ailing dog and as he has mended, it has resulted in many more sleepless nights with the searing pain of a sciatic nerve. Toss in the coming election, World Series, football, and plenty of down time in doctors and veterinary waiting rooms, my mind needs a break from an endless array of scattered thoughts. Here are just a few.
Dogs: People think I am nuts, but I really feel fortunate to have the five dogs that are in my life. I am particularly happy to see how my youngest, Peanut, has progressed from a suddenly debilitating swollen brain leaving him flopping like a fish out of water to now nearly being back to 100 percent normal. It’s also extremely refreshing when I see how his four housemates responded.
One, who has lupus, gave up his bed without complaint while Peanut mended. Others would take turns and lay next to him, helping him to not flop himself out of his bed. Peanut’s best buddy, Mini, was left without a playmate so a third, Betty, stepped up and became far more playful than ever. I learned just how much dogs sense the needs of others, whether human or canine, and how they will go the extra mile to help one in need.
Veterinarians: They are amazingly compassionate people who have a tremendous amount of knowledge that goes unappreciated. The world of veterinary medicine has advanced tremendously. I have been inside two different veterinary hospitals recently that were every bit as efficient and impressive as any human hospital. They’re also just as expensive.
Here Today, Gone TomorVeterinariansow: I have had two very tough reminders how precious life is and how fast it can change this month. The first was with my dog Peanut. The second was with myself. In just a matter of a couple of days, I saw myself go from completing an incredibly challenging four hour bike ride to barely being able to walk or feel my lower leg and toes. I got to feel a level of pain that puts you in as dark a place as you ever want to go and leaves you wondering how much more you can take.I have had to bumble and stumble trying to walk on a foot with virtually no feeling, sleeping with a hip that stabs you awake whenever you make the slightest move. And I have had to give in to my own “toughness” and leave myself in the hands of an ER staff. Through it all, I have been reminded how important it is to enjoy what and who we have in our lives because life has a way of literally biting us in the ass like a wicked case of sciatica.
Football Is Still King, for Now: Ratings are down and people are scrambling to wonder why. Actually, it is just the NFL ratings that are down. College football is set up in a way that it is bound to have a far more interesting and compelling regular season. However, with only a four-team playoff, their bowl season is a joke.
Meanwhile, the NFL has been on a long losing streak of screw ups, both player and league office wise, that helps turn off fans from watching games that matter less and less as the league seeks more ways to expand their playoffs.
Yes, the election might have a little to do with it, but have you ever heard someone say they chose to watch Face The Nation instead of a football game? It has more to do with the horrible match ups we have been given for prime time Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night games.
The league is also in a transitional state with many aging stars in the process of being replaced by a new crop. As the league tightens its disciplinary rules, the newer guys will find it harder to keep out of trouble and face suspensions. Toss in some God-awful teams that might struggle to beat a good college team, and ratings drop.
Finally, younger people are not impressed with real football. More young adults are the end result of a video crazed upbringing and never played any organized sports. Madden Football is more attractive and takes much less time to play than watching three and a half hours of “action” interrupted by endless penalties and video reviews.
Despite all of this, MLB and the NBA won’t challenge the NFL any time soon. Their regular seasons are too long and meaningless and with a best of seven playoff format, upsets are rare. Everyone knew the Cavaliers and Warriors would meet in the finals last year and barring any major injuries, they will meet again next June. So unless you are a die-hard homer or gambler, there is not much point in following the NBA.
As for MLB, the drama of a tight World Series game is fantastic. However, that pace of play just doesn’t make the game fun to watch on TV over the course of 162 games.
The Election: Or as I would like to refer to it now as the 2016 Erection because we are all getting screwed. If you are surprised by the latest Clinton scandal, you have not followed politics over the last 25 years. This is what you get with the Clintons. They either live for scandals or are incapable of conducting themselves without them as being part of their lives.
Why would we want a president who allowed Anthony Weiner to be as close to her campaign as he was? Why would we want one who allows Debbie Wasserman Schultz a job after she is dropped by the DNC over accusations of rigging the primaries? These two questions alone are enough in my opinion to question whether or not Hillary can run the nation. However, when you toss in all the other nonsense she has been connected with from Bill’s days as a governor to her time as Secretary of State, it’s enough. She is living proof of the Peter Principle and needs to just go away.
Unfortunately, this leaves us with Trump. Anyone who does not believe in such a concept of white privilege needs to ask whether or not they think Trump would still be in the race if his name was Bill Cosby. Trump did not get to where he has in life by playing by the rules or thinking the rules apply to him. He mastered the art of bending the rules every bit as much as Bill and Hillary have. He has learned how to press buttons and manipulate people every bit as much as the Clintons and he is every bit as much as self serving as the Clintons are.
So it all comes down to not who you believe nearly as much as who you can tolerate. I made my choice, I cannot tolerate either one and so neither one received my vote. You can say I tossed my vote away on a losing cause, and maybe you are right. However, I can also say I did not support a system that left us with having to choose between death by firing squad or by lethal injection. This country needs a strong and viable third party.
Final Thoughts: How often is your day-to-day happiness or misery the end result of our President or congress? For most of us, hardly ever. How often is it the end result of choices you made about your lifestyle, career, education, or relationships? We have a couple of horrific choices for our next president, but we also have an endless amount of options as to our own day-to-day lives. Maybe the next four years should be a time for all of us to get our own houses in order rather than ranting and railing over how screwed up Washington, D.C. is.
Jewell said it best when she sang, “In the end, only kindness matters.” Don’t think in terms of red or blue, black or white, young or old, or rich or poor. Just treat everyone the same and see where that leads us without the influence of a biased media or government.
Have a great November, I know I plan to.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.