Less than 100 days

Facebook has gone noticeably numb over the political shitstorm that has endured over the last 56 days.  People are sick and tired on both ends of the debate, tired of the daily news that everything this administration has touched has had some kind of colossal fuck up attached to it.  Unless of course, you just solely watch FOX NEWS for all of your government spin-then everything has been going swimmingly.

But, most of us aren’t that dumb.

The southwestern border has seen 40% less illegal border crossings since President Trump began his tirade against the illegals.  Great work if you think illegal immigrants are the source of all the problems in this country.

This isn’t the top news of the day, no today’s top news came from the Republicans have finally released details of their replacement of ObamaCare and its not even expected to pass a Republican controlled Senate.  Its a paper that was turned in just before the deadline by a bunch of drunk frat bros just trying to get the paper in before they fail the course.

What the Republicans are quickly figuring out is that American Style healthcare is very complex system that can’t just be overhauled like a Trump hotel in a matter of a couple weeks.  This is not a project based, Apprentice style system where the only thing you need to do is make as much as possible to win the big prize– no, in most cases it’s just the opposite.  The way that people pay for insurance, the way that claims are administrated and paid out — all of it is highly complex and so little of it makes sense– its a system that had just been clicking along for years before the Affordable Care Act tried to stop the bleeding from a very deep wound.

I wrote that about two weeks ago and never published it because I wasn’t finished with the thought but ran out of time.  Now, two weeks have passed and I back to rethinking about TrumpCare and how its unlikely America is going to get anything near what it wants/needs.  Instead what we are going to get is something that worse than what everyone bitches about now.  They tried to pass something that was so terrible that even the Republicans (who voted a reality star as the leader of their party) can’t find it in the soulless voting block to pass it.  That’s saying something.

Word tonight is that late night deliberations by the Republicans has still not gotten the votes, even though Trump threatened them to being removed the next election cycle.  When cronyism doesn’t work, political threats in his own party?  What’s next?

Here’s the thing:  Don’t stop talking about it.  This is our healthcare.  This is our country. Let your voice be heard.

 

Rich White Oil Men

I wish I would have had more of the kind of conversations I had last night before the election.  The fact of the matter is that for the last 18 months, we were all just making fun of the republicans because it appeared that the dark days of this country were behind us.  Obama wasn’t anything close to a good president, but he didn’t blow anything up.  Sure, the Affordible Care Act is a mess, sure he deported 2.5 million people, sure he conducted more drone strikes than other president (which really isnt saying much, given that drones just happened on the scene), but he was trying to do right by the American people.

The American people have been robbed by their own people.  While some people make millions (billions even) out of nothing, ten times the amount of wealthy are living out of their cars right now.  We have more homeless people living in America than any other country and yet we fight over what kind of health care we shouldn’t give each other.  We fight over who should run this country– so passionately that we have created Donald Trump.  We are supposed to give him the benefit of doubt, the benefit of optimism before he takes office. Well, tonight, I lost that optimism.

I just want to run through his cabinet selections for you.

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Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, a Texas Oil man with a son by named Bobby Joe!  Tillerson has very close ties with Russia — he wanted to drill into the Artic space owned by the Russians.  Lovely.  He’s expected to generate 300 billion in revenue from that deal.  In 2013, he rec’d the Order of Friendship, from Putin.  No conflict of interest there, just a great partnership.

Some great quotes from Mr. Tillerson: “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”  That being said, Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson will be at odds on TPP– Trump has said he would abolish the TPP and NAFTA immediately upon entering office, but Tillerson says, “One of the most promising developments on this front is the ongoing effort for the Trans-Pacific Partnership… The 11 nations that have been working to lower trade barriers and end protectionist policies under this partnership are a diverse mix of developed and developing economies. But all of them understand the value of open markets to growth and progress for every nation.”

Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin Goldman Sachs executive for 17 years.  He produced Suicide Squad, American Sniper and The Lego Movie!  He has publicly noted that he wants to repeal parts of the Dodd-Frank act because its too complicated and it prevents banks from lending.  He owns two homes, one in New York and one in L.A.; each valued at $20 million.

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Attorney General: Jeff Sessions, The Senator from Alabama.  He was nominated to be a Federal judge, but he couldn’t get confirmed because of his views and his alleged racist comments.  He is a staunch opponent of immigration reform.  Sessions was George W. Bush’s go to guy– voting for all the tax packages, the wars, everything in lock step with his commander in chief.  Sessions is a leader when it comes to illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration.  He voted and actively campaigned against the Affordable Care Act.  He doesn’t believe in Climate Change.  He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas.

Secretary of Energy and former Candidate for President RICK PERRY

Am I really writing this?  RICK PERRY for Energy Secretary?  One of the first people to say that Trump is a joke and here he is, in all his glory, nominated for Energy Secretary.  So… What makes Rick Perry a good energy secretary?  First of all, his presidential chances ended in 2011 when this little gem happens… He wanted to eliminate it, now he is going to be running it.  He’s most notably known recently for sitting on the board of directors for Energy Transfer Partners– you know the people that OWN THE DAKOTA PIPELINE.  Another Oil Man in the cabinet.  How do you think he is going to do for conservation?

There are even more of a cast of characters, 90% of them are all white men… No Latino’s, One Black man, Two Women, one of them Asian. I had originally thought that Kathy McMorris-Rodgers was going to get the nomination of Secretary of the Interior, but Ryan Zinke from Montana got it instead, so McMoron gets to terrorize Eastern Washington at the house level for yet another term.

Look, I don’t have to live by any journalist integrity here and this is my own opinion, so whatever, but I mean look at these people. These are the absolute worst that America has to offer– none of these people care about anyone except for the elite 1% of this country, they don’t give a shit about the environment, they care about money and making more of it.  They want to drill our natural resources, they want to ignore science and build a government that is going to further separate the top from the bottom.  All of these people I have put before you today have no place in government – their whole purpose is to destroy government and what little regulation there is and make more money for the corporations that they own and control.  Trump is turning the Federal Branch into the best country club in the world.  All these people that want jobs back here, all those people that blame the immigrants for taking what little jobs there are here– all the meanwhile killing off the government, cutting spending, not paying for airplanes, twittering at 2am, all of that is going to come together so nicely for the American people.  Before todays nomination, I was still trying to be at the very least, optimistic.  Now tho– now that I see what he is at least trying to put forward– I see that all along he was just watching to see who was by his side and of course his closest alley was big oil– and here we go again– make friends with Russia so they can buy our oil, make everyone rich while cause economic calamity… It’s neverending, pathetic and sad.  If this is making America great again, I love it when it totally sucks.

 

This Isn't Us

First of all, I hate, hate, hate writing about this kind of thing, but the thing is, I have such a limited amount of time to write, I am just going to write about this because it’s easy enough to critique something so annoying.  Maybe this will lead to better things.
I have been trying.  Trying to be patient that the NBC show This Is Us is going to come around, it’s going to make that magical turn into a great show like everyone else seems to think it is.  To me, it seems rehearsed, fake, unnatural.  The characters are so stereotypical. Lets review.
1. The fat chick.

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When I first saw this show, I was like, oh cool, another plus sized model– I hope she’s as funny as Megan McCartney.  Then I see that she is also dating a plus sized man– which, again, I was like sure.  Then I realized almost everything about this character is ALWAYS.ABOUT.HER.WEIGHT.  She breaks up with her boyfriend because he refuses to diet with her because he wants to just be happy and she doesn’t have the will power.  It’s pathetic.  It’s like all fat people are just fat because they can’t stop eating.

Instead, they could make this woman not care about her size, make her active to where she is getting her steps in with her fancy fitbit, going to coffee and leading the life like the struggling actor below.  They could make the struggling actor be razor thin and hate himself for it, binge eating and not able to do anything about it– really shake the shit up, but instead they just go easy.

II. The Adopted Black Man

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The Black Man whose was adopted and his homeless, biological father comes in to the picture when the father  is dying of cancer and of course they immediately let him in to live with them.  The son, raised by white parents, is an incredibly successful Investment banker with the beautiful wife and 2 perfect children.  But, he has adoption issues, never quite fitting in, never quite bonding with his siblings, which one of these things dont fit like the other.. His father, of course, who wasn’t raised by whites, is a broke musician who never amounted to anything who comes back into the picture and the son forces him to move in, puts him under his medical insurance and takes him to the best doctor his money can buy.

III. The Struggling Actor

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The first two have problems related to their size and race, but poor Kevin, he is REALLY the tortured soul!  This poor guy spent several successful seasons as the lead actor of “The Manny”, only to find that no one wants him after such a role.  He decides to move to theatre, where he immediately struggles, but an actress sees something in him and they make out, she gets invited to Thanksgiving with the whole family so she can see how inspired a “real American” family can be.  The struggle is real, brah.  He even gets to sleep with the AT&T girl!!  So tortured.  Of course he also has issues with his adopted black brother.  He has a confrontation with him several times and it comes out that he could have been perfect if his brother didn’t get all of the attention, all of the opportunity.  It’s actually pathetic to watch.

IV. The Mandy Effect

mmnewoldOh man, Mandy Moore.  Twice.  We get the young, struggling Mom in the late 70’s Mandy Moore and we get the 60+ Mandy Moore all in the same show!  Wooo-hooo?  Nope.  Her character is the most tolerable, unless you consider that the young Mandy wouldn’t allow the adopted son to know his father.  The old Mandy still doesn’t tell her son that she knew his father even as he is a grown man with a couple of kids.  No, he has to find out coincidentally as his father gets stoned with his wife on pot brownies and revels accidentally that he gave her something when he was born…

V. Time, Space Continuum

I have said it before, several times– a story is in trouble whenever the writers have to use what I call the “Time, Space Continuum.”  This refers to whenever a show has to go back or forward in time to give the current story context– and this story has a constant thread of the old, complete with 70’s flare!  Although its quaint and its got the feel of a terribly flat version of that 70’s show– without it, the show would be TERRIBLE and would make these people seem as selfish and meaningless as they really are.  We watch this show waiting for it to come together, to get past the cheesy stereotypical characters and actually make some headway, but it doesn’t — it just falls into the same stereotypes.

I know, you are thinking, then why the hell do you still watch?  Five episodes in… and here we are.  It’s no parenthood and never will be.

The thing about it– This Isn’t Us– like you and me and us.  The truth is, this show is what advertisers want to think were like.  We have problems, but they are all surface level, at the end of the day we all sit at the same dinner table and break bread and forgive and forget.  I hope that most of us are more normal than all of this, meaning it’s more chaotic.

Your thoughts?

Switzerland Day 2: Schynige Platte

Note:  There are going to be some pretty epic pictures in this post.  Click on the link to see them in full detail.

Our second day to our Switzerland journey involved a trip up to a place called Schynige Platte. which is a beautiful spot in the Bernese Oberland, It offers spectacular views of the surrounding ranges, including the three that are the most famous, The Eiger, The Jungfrau and the Monch– the story goes that the 2 Male peaks are Eiger and Monch and they are always fighting over The Jungfrau (young woman).  The views from the top were spectacular, but the train to get us up to the top of the Platte is equally remarkable.  The rail line opened as a steam line in 1893 and was electrified in 1914.  The train leaves from Winderswil (where we were staying), Elevation 1916 feet and ends up at about 6,500 feet.  There is a full service hotel and restaurant at the top, which couldn’t have been any easy feat to conquer.  What really stands out for me on this trip is how the Swiss look at these areas, these vast Alpine areas and they think, lets build a railway up there so people can visit it easily.  That is quite a concept– I look back at where we live, Seattle, Washington, and I think about Mount Rainier and how you could potentially take a train up to Camp Muir!  How cool would that be?  As cool as it is to take this train… Maybe not quite as this one is from 1893.

The trip was about 40 swiss francs per person, children free.  Because we had the kiddos, we actually got our own box, which was really nice. The view is best described through the following photos:

The train station at the top of the “Platte” offers breathtaking views with a an Alpine Gartern (Garden) off to the side. This is trail that leads you through the many varieties of Alpine wildflowers, including the much revered Ed

elweiss flower. From there, it’s just a short hike up the hill to the hotel.  A hotel.  That you can only get to by taking a railcar.  Crazy to think of such a thing, but there it is.  It’s not an uncommon thing here in the Alps– there are lots of accomodation and all of them are only really accessible by rail car or cable car– which means your audience is going to be much smaller depending.

The link to the hotel website is http://hotelschynigeplatte.ch/en/ — its a little expensive, but when will you have a chance to stay in another hotel which is only accessible by railcar?

We didn’t make it up until one of the late afternoon cars, so our time was slightly limited since the last train left the mountain promptly at 6:45, so we had just under 2 hours to really get a good look around.  As I mentioned before, there was an Alpengarden near the train station, which led to several trails, some of which climbed into the even higher alpine meadows, but the trails were STEEP so we didn’t venture up on them with the kids and the limited time.  We sauntered over to the trail with the hotel and noticed a bunch of cows up on the high alpine area, making the famous Cowbell sound as they made their way through the fields.  Farmers use these cowbells because the clouds are usually so thick that you can’t see in front of you.  Their symphony of bells is quite something– and these aren’t your normal dairy cows, just hanging out in
a small farm space– these cows were pretty massive in size, but they were also very muscular– hard to imagine a cow making its way up as high as 9-10,0000 feet during the summer months, but they do as they graze all of the hay/grass in the lower land.  We actually saw a huge group of them. (Last Picture)

We got to the hotel just as they were closing up, but we were able to get a quick coffee and a bismark donut (ICH BIN EINE BERLINER!!)  That is where we found the dog and the boots filled with the old wildflowers– which is a really cool concept to use for your old hiking boots..

All in all, very nice afternoon up in the Alps with the family.

Tomorrow we will go over the big trip:  Jungfrau, Top Of Europe trains.IMG_0604

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Headed Up to Schynige Platte
Headed Up to Schynige Platte

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Switzerland — Day One in Wonderland

This trip we went to Germany and Switzerland for 2 weeks and essentially 2 additional days, but we really only got one additional day out of it.  I wish we would have spent an additional day exploring the towns around Interlaken, but we will go back at some point to explore the places we didn’t get a chance to.

Trains, Trains, Trains.

Part of the reason I wanted to go to Switzerland were the trains and all the connections we would make in a short period of time.  Elliott has always been so fascinated by trains that I wanted to go on a trip with him while he was still so enamored with trains and I noticed a few years ago that the Alp trains and trams were quite unique.  Our journey from Koln would have us taking the ICE express to Switzerland– the ICE got up to  290km per hour headed back and forth from Frankfurt– pretty impressive.  At the Swiss Border we switched to the Swiss Bahn trains, finally arriving in Interlaken.  Interlaken is a the big train town, since a number of the Alpine trains depart from Interlaken.

I booked us a hotel in nearby Winderswil, which turned out to be a perfect choice.  Winderswil is the next train stop from Interlaken West, which is where they Jungfrau Railway, or Top Of Europe train departs from.  We took the intercity bus from Interlaken to Winderswil and it took about 10 minutes to get from the train station to our hotel.  We stayed at the Hotel Baren.  Winderswil is a small town outside of Interlaken, with a few hotels and some restaurants– we found it to the perfect town to stay in while we explored the region.

Hotel Baren

The weather was perfect on our first day of touring.  There were some clouds in the high alpine area, but it was set to clear up for the remainder of our trip.

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As you can see, the views from town are impressive.  The north face of the Eiger peeking out over the valley.

We arrived late in the day and you could quickly tell that Winderswil doesnt have a lot of restaurants, so we decided to go back into town and get a bite to eat.

Side note:  I also wanted to get back into Interlaken because I had lost my pair of Chaco sandals at the Koln train station.  They were in the stroller we brought in the bottom webbing and they slipped out while boarding the train, falling onto the train tracks– never to be seen again.  RIP Chaco.  So, I was anxious to get to town and buy a pair of sandals since the only shoes I brought with me were the hiking boots on my feet– although it was better to have Hiking boots than the other way around.

Once we arrived back in Interlaken, we were just blown away at how beautiful the city is.  It is SUPER touristy, don’t get me wrong, but the city is designed around a massive park in the city center, the city folds like a horseshoe around the park, with the East train station on one side of the town and the West one on the other side of the park– pretty cool.  The park is used by the multiple groups that have para sailing from various points in the Alps as a landing spot, so at any moment there are multiple people landing in the park– we had a great time just hanging out and relaxing at this point during several points on our trip.

Here are some of the best pictures of Interlaken:

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Paragliders landing in Interlaken Park

Paragliders landing in Interlaken Park

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Liam Interlaken Park
Liam Interlaken Park

After walking around Interlaken looking for something to eat, we finally gave up trying to find the perfect place for dinner and settled on an street corner with an Italian pizza joint that had outside seating and cold beer.  It gave us enough time to catch our breath and plan the next days that we would be in this wonderful country.  Pizza is pizza, so nothing special to note– and the beer in Switzerland is always the same brand on tap– and its a decent one.

Our biggest reason for deciding to come to Switzerland was to take the train to the Top Of Europe–  The Jungfrau tour takes you on a train to the “Top of Europe”, 12,000 feet onto the Glacier that ties the Jungfrau range together.  To give it a little perspective, Wilderswil is at 2200 feet and this train goes to nearly 12k in elevation in just under 2 hours!  Lili’s parents were travelling with us and they decided that they didn’t have any interest in going to the top, so we decided to have the next day to hang out as a group and Saturday we would split up, Lili and I taking Elliott on the train while Liam stayed below with Oma and Opa.

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Next:  Day 2 Schynige Platte