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Animal Behaviors Cleanse My Mind

Staying home does not often suit me but today my car lies idle for repairs in the “shop”. Perhaps, I should undertake some positive mind diversion today. On this cloudy and unseasonably cool day in South Florida, I take time then to breathe deeply and ponder the wonders of life outside my lakefront condominium. Gaze thoughtfully at this menagerie of animal wildness surrounding me. As I am deeply troubled by the incessant prophecies of Presidential doom, some light-hearted relief and much needed therapy from animal behavior can surely be obtained.

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I rise in early morning as the blue intensity of sunrise appears. From my kitchen window, I watch the pitty-pat movement of little paws as squirrels file down obediently from their palm tree haven. They then scurry up the stairs to our second floor condo overhang to pick up their prized peanuts for the day. Aggression for food sets in at times as an occasional critter climbs up the screen door to attract my attention. Others have learned to extend their skinny hands to frantically grab the precious peanut from me. Even the nearby presence of our resident white cat, it seems, does not discourage their “love of the nut.” I truly admire the trust that they convey in my presence every day to provide the feeding service that they so desperately savor. I only wish our current political climate would inspire similar faith that our politicians would deliver the “fruits of democracy” that our citizenry so fervently desires.

As the sun warms the morning over the lake behind my family apartment, the “Turtle Convention” normally convenes with regularity on the edge of the mucky shoreline. Due to the overcast conditions and lower temperatures today, however, very few turtles surface for my prized, photo opportunity. On a more pleasant weather day, they would tightly mass together ashore, each with their little heads pointing thoughtfully toward the sun rays above. Big or small, each turtle commands equal right to soak up the warmth that their cold -blooded metabolisms so critically need. An occasional iguana arrives to greet the turtles at times and are welcome to lie motionless with them for a spell. If only our Congress could convene in such a cooperative manner, where the voice of both Republicans and Democrats were equally welcomed. ( i.e. Elizabeth Warren comes to mind).

An explosion of bird life settles in along the artificial lake in early afternoon, as I settle in to read on my back patio. Sheer survival in this natural aviary invites vigorous competition for food among a variety of species: Snowy egrets, Muscovy ducks, Egyptian geese, and American coots. A juvenile, male goose, in particular, has caught my attention recently, displaying awkwardly damaged wings and a seemingly unwillingness to swim. Observing Turkey vultures swooping low in anticipation of an easy kill, I have decided to assist the vulnerable goose get stronger in his fight for survival. Fending off his stronger rivals, each day I lay a plentiful portion of birdseed for the needy goose to munch on and sit patiently while he consumes it. In the past week, I have noticed he flaps his wings more. He also braves further from his accustomed spot along the lakeshore and has begun to swim at will. I predict that his healed wings will ultimately allow him to fly again. The resiliency of this lone goose to heal his injury and thrive in this fierce environment of survival thus inspires my human spirit. I can therefore find strength that pursuit of my own healthy body will help me withstand the anticipated stress of our crisis-seeking Presidency.

As arguably the most famous South Florida tourist, Donald Trump also enjoys the warm confines of the outdoors in the our winter season. Today, I imagine him teeing off at one of his wonderful golf courses, escaping from the endless burdens of his Presidency as hard-working taxpayers in his country seethe in anger at how much these weekend escapades cost them. I also visualize his decision to build a formidable wall around his Mar-a Lago estate in Palm Beach. His “self-proclaimed majesty” can now mindlessly “twitter” in privacy, ignoring the daily protest outside his opulent expanse of property. Suddenly, a “Breaking News” animal “twist” occupies my mind. A suspicious flock of seagull will swoop down and lay a fusillade of slimy poop on the top of the President’s head. As “Secret Service” agents amass into defensive position, “fake news” will again save his day. I can hear his opportunistic shouts now. “Where is Steve Bannon? Better yet, call Breitbart.” The inevitable invasion has begun and I begin to laugh.

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Reflections On The Pain Of Rejection

With the sudden terminations of Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates and National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn, our new President maintains his ruthless legacy of “firing” people at will. Observing his sense of entitlement as a billionaire celebrity star, he has continued to polish his media image well. * However, as the daily rants and narcissistic side effects of his Presidential “Reality Show” performances increasingly fail to entertain me, the timing is right to refocus my mind on more positive thoughts by switching to a more relaxing channel. Perhaps I will try the one below: “The Relaxing and Chill Out Channel.”

Looking more deeply at these terminations, questions arise about the emotional ramifications arising from his career-crashing decisions. Did our executive leader feel empathy for any of his chosen victims in such trying times? What emotional trauma occurred for those who were selected for these unfortunate acts of dismissal?

Recalling my classroom image as a college professor, what if I had similarly provoked antagonism by “booting out” those academically challenged students in public who fell behind in my remedial reading class? I vividly remember one, homeless student, explain to me that his house was his car, while refusing to live homelessly on the streets. I also recall a divorced mother, working two jobs, who left her children outside my classroom unsupervised as she attended my class. I can also bring back memories of a veiled, Islamic woman who could not stay for the entirety of my class lectures on certain days due to her need to worship Allah dutifully. In each of these three cases , I chose to dignify their continued presence by finding ways to teach them effectively in spite of their obvious classroom challenges.

I also picture my identity crisis in 1993, of becoming unemployed as a middle school teacher after twelve years of dedicated service. Dreading the prospect of involuntarily leaving my chosen career, then, I distinctly recall a crisis of my own self-worth. However, I took self-responsibility to finish my Educational Specialist Degree, ultimately resulting in a successful, thirteen year, teaching stint as a tenured, college professor..

Thus, it is logical then for me to ponder how our Commander-In- Chief would put out his own “fire of rejection”? In particular, how would he react to an impartial investigation of his Russian ties and possible impeachment? Would he display the same intolerance of criticism that he displayed during the primaries and early days of his Presidency? Does his latest tirades at Thursday’s press comference indicate his desire to dismiss reporters in the traditional media, which would impair the public’s capacity to stay adequately informed?

Another kind of emotional rejection is occurring today. There is evidence that the current, political climate may be causing serious, emotional backlash among our entire populace. Multiple sources from a survey recently conducted by Harris Poll, found that 66 percent of Americans reported stress about the future of the country, 57 percent about the current political climate and 49 percent about our election outcome. Other surveys taken record similar results as well. If these ominous trends continue, our system of “checks and balances” must inevitably “save the day” to restore a more humane democracy.

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*Note: A high-level, African-American aide to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Shermichael Singleton, has just been fired by President Trump for once writing an Op-Ed. in the New York Times that opposed Mr. Trump’s election policies.

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Transcending Fear-Mongering Times

“If you think people were mad, when they thought the government was coming after their guns, wait until you see when they try to take away our happiness.”
(Meryl Streep Speech last weekend in reaction to Donald Trump criticism)

Why do I bother to do issues these days? I successfully retired from teaching and have stayed healthy enough to enjoy a decent pension.There are endless travel opportunities to pursue in my added free time now. I wake up each morning greeted by the playful presence of our neighbor’s white cat and his squirrel chase-buddies, who would be content if I spent the entire day feeding them.

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I would like to read the newspaper one day without being misled by a “War of the Worlds” apocalypse that alien invaders will soon be coming to threaten our country’s survival. (Watch the video below). I would treasure attending a concert and not fear the loss of funding for the arts in my city. I would savor a glass of water free from the thought that global warming will soon cause the oceans to dangerously rise to flood the fragile orb I live in. I would exalt in a conscious-free conversation with my Colombian immigrant neighbors without wondering whether it is my duty to report them to the police for impending deportation.

Feeling mentally exhausted by these daily life uncertainties, it is time to chill. Whatever “plays out” in the next four years will certainly test my tolerance yet it seems critical for me to enjoy a healthfully inspired life while it lasts. Keep your mind busy. Seek kindness and goodwill with strangers whenever you get the chance. Do not allow social media to cloud your vision for thoughtless action. Spend more time in nature and make more time for the company of family/friends. Watch a baseball game with knowledge that the outcome of the game is less important than just being there. Read a lot while listening to soothing music.

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Some of you might also find the need to face dire, political forecasts with a somewhat less serious life. Thus, I refer my readers to a more extensive list of activities in the following website: Click on the following title: – 99 COPING SKILLS –. I sarcastically note that our “America First” President spent a good portion of his time playing leisurely golf on weekends at his Palm Beach Estate in the first three weeks of his presidency. img_2469

I recognize that the antagonistic aura of our current President probably represents the great, political test of American democracy in my lifetime. Yet, I need to move on from this current “Kingdom of Doom ” that generates continuous fear of the future and questions the goodness of man (woman) kind. Thus, I will now react to such pessimism by allotting more time to daily happiness in accordance with my Constitutional rights/responsibilities as an American citizen.

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“Steady Eddie” Keeps Off The Devil

With malice toward none, with charity for all… (Abraham Lincoln, 1865)

Eddie always prided himself on staying cool in the face of crisis. His challenging career as an urban educator had always called for steady calmness in the face of confrontation. So it surprised Eddie in retirement when insomnia fueled his anger and anxiety every night now. Since the election, he noticed that a raging monster often ranted thoughtlessly in his conscious mind to disrupt his sleep. On many of these occasions, the demon would seemingly brainwash him to avoid being soft and give in to matters of the heart. Who could this diabolical figure be?

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On Sunday night, Eddie hoped a remedy to his inner dilemma might be found in this Sunday’s Super Bowl. Surely, the clutch passing mastery of Tom Brady, the ballhawking New England secondary, or the scheming genius of Bill Belichick would provide for him a meaningful mind diversion. As the game proceeded, it became apparent to him that the Patriots seemingly willed their way to overcome a certain loss and win their fifth Super Bowl championship. Restful sleep seemed possible tonight as he relished how such a success story could be positively reflected in his mind tonight

Eddie awoke earlier than expected on Monday morning feeling completely rested. He immediately realized that his long dreams that night about the “big game” proved that he had slept soundly for a change. What had he also learned from this game to calm his troubled mind in the future? Marquee athletes on both sides had individually made “clutch” demonstrations of speed, strength, and agility in violent battle without losing sight of their commitment to the team” itself. In this sense then, both teams had won this tightly contested game although the final score did not reflect this equally satisfying outcome.

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Digging deeper into these Super Bowl moments, Eddie now realized the opposite analogy that many of his country’s citizenry had lost hope in “Team Democracy” in fear of the authoritative  disfunctioning of its new, executive leader. As a result, the symbolic meaning of having an angry demagogue as President had been tormenting his mind at night. Now was the time to release his mental anguish of this man’s presence and continue to trust his belief in restoring democracy’s greatness.

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There would be plenty of beautiful dreams now to savor in keeping Eddie’s mind at peace. He would visualize the happy time when he brought smiles to the faces of starving children in Kenya by giving away his pencils to them on an African safari. He might recall comforting images when simply writing his American name on an index card near Beijing Square drew a crowd of curious Chinese students nearby. Yes, sleep would no longer be a problem for Steady Eddie He had done his part to impart peaceful coexistence in the world and he would continue this personal crusade to defeat the angry devil.

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Plan For Retaining Travel Normalcy

My past experiences as a “cruiser” have provided a fantasy for living life the “easy way” in materialistic overindulgence. Although I appreciate the well-organized script to provide endless food, luxury shopping, and pleasing entertainment through such escape, I must face the truth that such pampering basically does not really suit me. Do I really need to grab a fancy tube of “Go Smile” fresh mints conveniently posted outside each restaurant to conclude my latest dining experience? Is it desirable for me to watch five, eager servers reconfigure my lounge chair with a fitted mat and pillow while I am attempting to leisurely watch the nighttime movie on deck? Do I really need to hear musicians that I don’t really care for (Perry Como and Dean Martin) over the loudspeaker at breakfast when I would prefer reading the newspaper in silence?

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Ironically, I seem to enjoy the challenge of facing my imperfect world of urban edginess in South Florida. While the tourist season will undoubtedly bring the annual invasion of “snowbirds” to my community each day, I try to cope with seasonal price gouging and impending traffic gridlock by slowing down to meditate faithfully in yoga class or relax quietly in my neighborhood park overlooking a serene lake. In the meantime, being at home provides ample spare time to plan suitable itineraries for our upcoming vacations.

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My mind today focuses on the next travel plan for 2017. From March through mid June, my wife and will embark from our Fort Lauderdale home on our third road trip across America. This journey will also include a one-month, apartment rental in Morro Bay, California as well as a ten day tour of India. As is our norm, close friends/family will make our vacation more pleasurable this year and save us money. My best friend’s younger brother, Tommy and his wife, Jennyin Thousand Oaks, California have kindly given us permission to leave our personal car in their driveway while we tour India. Sharing treasured memories about loved ones will no doubt be on the docket in a brief visit to my wife’s close cousin, Andi in McKinney, Texas. Ample opportunities for global conversations seem certain in visiting our ex-neighbor Tina in Boise , Idaho. Offering the wisdom of a godfatherly presence to our “wish we had” daughter, Nicole, in Lincoln Nebraska will further brighten our spirit in this marathon adventure.

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On a personal level, I will enjoy the challenge of studying living history in crossing our country this spring.Passing through small towns in America’s heartland, I seek museums of Route 66 memorabilia. Crossing mountain passes, I will keep my eyes out for historical markers of the Pony Express and Oregon Trails. Attending a Dodger, Giant, or A’s baseball game bodes well for experiencing the relaxed nostalgia of the “grand old game.”

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In these troubled times of terrorism, I realize that there are those who believe that our country is under attack both at home and abroad. I sincerely hope that Donald Trump’s determination to escalate tensions over this issue will not jeopardize my freedom of travel in the future. I should not be forced to make a choice between patriotic isolation and global awareness and I should never find reason to wall myself” off from others in cynical fear of cultural difference or political dispute. Thus, in continuing to act with a spirit of unity and goodwill to all peoples this year, I have revealed my final theme for retaining travel normalcy.

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Civil War Thoughts For Today

I just finished a book titled “The President’s War”, by Chris DeRose, 2014. Here is his overall premise. In the mid-19th century, America’s democracy became endangered in a Civil War sparked by a constitutional crisis over slavery and the alleged right of states to nullify our federal laws. Shortly before this conflict began, Abraham Lincoln was lawfully elected as our first Republican Party President amidst fierce opposition to his policies from slave-owning states, former Presidents and both major, political parties. Many feared that he would overreach his constitutionally-granted power in war to silence the opposition on his own terms. Yet Lincoln saw little need to further tear apart the country by abandoning our country’s ideals for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

In the posted video above, Mr. Lincoln’s thoughtful discourse surrounding his delivery of the Gettysburg Address on November 19,1863 seems to be a relevant model for viewing the recent actions of the Trump Presidency . Several ideas from his speech come to mind

1. A President’s powers should embrace the dignity of all people now just those who follow him/her.

2.If we are to remain the “United States of America”, the enduring precedents of the U.S. Constitution must be maintained.

3. A President should inspire a positive role model  for the goodness of people and the continuance of our free voting system.

4. Moral standards of behavior should be respected and modeled when taking action of national interest of our country.

5. Our process of democratic government must foster intelligent discussion “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in making decisions of nationwide interest.

Foregoing the prospect of political gain, Lincoln’s calming words that day sought ways to unify our country amidst the bloodshed that was escalating throughout the country then. I challenge my informed readers to think deeply about how the five (5) ideals from this speech that day might foster constructive action today. I believe that whether our leaders are either “left”or “right” of political spectrum, they should never never give into deceit, inhumanity or ignorance as justification for short-sighted political action.

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My Friend Loves Animals But…

One of my closest friends, Jason, adores animals yet often finds they do not care for him. This week, he cited several examples to prove his point to me. Recalling two of his favorite television programs, Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin, there was no doubt in his mind that he had always idolized these canines as true heroes on each weekly show. Remembering the death of a rabid dog in the famous Disney classic, “Old Yeller” he explained that this tragic plot had caused him to cry. Recollecting his travels on an African safari, I personally witnessed his vehement promise that he would never again book a tour where one would be forced to watch a “tiger kill” in the wild. Perhaps, it would do him some good to soul- search how his intentions contradicted his actual actions in actual encounters with animals in his past.

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A distinct pattern of animals reacting negatively toward his presence became clear to me in our continued conversation. He was spit on once by a camel on an Australian camping trip as he playfully touched its front leg. On another leisure outing, an African Secretary Bird chased him angrily as he attempted to cut off its path in the gardens at Busch Gardens. Near home, a stray dog once attacked Jason after he had made barking sounds exiting his grandfather’s house, requiring an administration of painful, rabies shots. Raising his hands to me carefully now, he additionally pointed out the battle scars of revengeful dog bites in his childhood from poking his high-strung pet, Teddy Bear, the family’s Pomeranian. Even now, he confesses that his mother’s cat, Molly, avoids him “like a plague” as he stomps into the living room yet this same feline always snuggles up to the quieter presence of his wife on their weekly visits.

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It seemed my friend’s visit this week to the Miami Metro Zoo, with his wife and mother, would not be a series of cuddly encounters with wild animals basking for his friendly attention. I saw it instead as an opportune occasion for him to spend time with the family and learn a lesson to rethink his approach to how he should treat animals. Realizing that he had this knack of arousing their antagonistic instincts, I felt he would be on his best behavior to not provoke the wildlife in the company of his loved ones.

I then listened intently to the rest of his story.The family had arrived promptly in the park at 10:00 am.on a cool and clear weekday morning. Foregoing the usual option of walking the guided paths, Jason made accommodations for his mother by purchasing a cozy-looking, pedal bicycle for three. He also noted that steering his way throughout the park had kept his mind busy from sinister thoughts of “getting a rise” out of any beasts as their vehicle passed nearby.

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One of their more active stops today, I knew from past experience, would be the Howler Monkey section. He first told me now how much he had enjoyed watching these playful primates with spindly legs swing wildly through the tree limbs of their open-air environment. Then he surprisingly added that he felt sheer joy in “passively” watching them acting playfully in their natural surroundings. Under such circumstances, I realized that had for the first time, Jason began to question his own mischievous behavioral antics.

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Feeding time also seemed to be a potential opportunity for Jason to resume inciting the animals. Yet I was shocked how he had shown unselfish empathy for the hunger of these animals today, as he raised the following questions to me about their desperate search for food. Why did a multitude of hungry carp converge on a single pellet of food thrown to them? Was it necessary for a friendly giraffe to contort his tongue through a wire fence to reach for his expected snack? What effect did a small-cage exposure have on a nervous emu who had to wait everyday in such confinement for his daily nourishment?

Ultimately, Jason acquired some insight today that he had been underestimating the potential threat of wild animals that could be caused by his animal-provoking ways.He seemed to reason that he would be no match for a charging rhino or a threatened elephant in their natural environment. Being present at the zoo today thus offered him two, contrasting perspectives. Should he continue to act as an aggressive predator who feels the need to dominate animals and risk retaliation from them or was it time for him to admit that he had deceived myself from the reality that the protective fences and walls he experienced today were put there for good reason to protect animal-inciters like him from becoming a potential prey? While Jason would never exude a friendly vibe around animals, nonetheless, he had finally realized that teasing animals did not appear all that fun anymore.

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Unwise Eating In The “Trough”

The omnipresence of food quantity on our latest cruise has again proven to be a main center of attention for many. It makes no difference what time it is, all paths ultimately lead them to the plentiful food buffet on Deck 16. Being fully prepared to compete for a luscious cupcake or perhaps a juicy crab leg amidst a rabid mob scene of already obese cruise passengers, I propose some useful actions for the gluttonous masses. These recommendations would be particularly useful for those who wish to maximize their food intake at what I unfondly refer to now as the “trough.”

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1. Head directly to the dessert area first and load up on sugary parfaits, fatty pastries, and syrupy lattes. Fuel up on this quick energy that will entice you to eat more as your blood sugar levels dramatically spike.

2. When you enter the main trough area, wear a helmet and shoulder pads to withstand the physical competition heading for that last meatball or shrimp available.

3. Plates are optional as you can pile more food per square inch on your tray alone for sure.

4. Do not order water when possible. Fruity and sugary drinks taste much better.

5.Never read when you sit down to eat your main meal. Others may interpret your actions as offensive to the gossipy social atmosphere that surrounds you.

6. Never sit next to a window as you do not need to be reminded that you are gorging now as many local islanders below your view are starving in utter poverty.

7. Use sarcasm with discretion with your International waiter from Moldova, Bulgaria… Your words may be taken literally. Ex. Waiter – ” Your day was good? “- Passenger – Are you kidding? It was raining cats and dogs.”

8. Never rationalize that you will go on a diet tomorrow to overcome your overeating ways. Would you even be on this cruise without the food?

9. When you are finished eating , feel unity with your other bloated cruise comrades as you make a second or third trip to the buffet line.

10. Do not bother doing any exercise after you eat. It would require you to walk too far from the next food line.

11. Consider adopting a daily routine of pairing your eating heaven with daily participation in “Gout Sufferers Anonymous” or “Future Diabetics of America” Support Group sessions.

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Seriously, the true value of a cruise experience, can never be provided by obsessing on food. There are wonderful cuisines of many cultures to sample leisurely on and off the ship if one removes from their mind the temptation to shovel more and more food as they compulsively visit the “trough.” One can also make wise choices for their body on a cruise if they challenge themselves with health-conscious activity in their ample free time. In pursuit of moderation in your daily existence, then, I urge you to book your next “floating hotel” reciting the mantra that we must “eat to live, not live to eat”.

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Resounding Show Of Unity at Rally

Miami comes alive in peaceful assembly today for the Women’s March at Bayfront Park. A fun-loving teenager embraces her sunshine-blissed freedom.A gay couple arrives in full wedding gown expecting to join there in holy matrimony. A life-hardened environmentalist withstanding creaky knees circulates the aisles to display visionary banners to save our planet. Amidst this circus of curious diversity, all eyes ultimately are united on the need to be heard today in order to support the will to act in opposition to the Donald Trump Presidency.

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Arriving three hours before the rally, my wife and I are witnessing a steady buildup of participants peacefully lining up for this afternoon event. Crossing Biscayne Boulevard to the park, on can not escape notice of Trump supporters protesting their own causes in opposition to ours (ie. Jews For Trump…). Yet there is a buzz of optimism in Miami on this bright, sunny day, that will provide a measure of hope amidst the impending fears of his Presidency.

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Being raised in the “Woodstock” generation, I imagine that this event will strictly resonate in a blatant protest against the establishment view of the new Republican regime. Yet speaker after speaker will convince me to rise above the anger of my discontent and imagine my own life in a more positive manner. Group therapy expert you might call the orator who urges the audience to meditate on their dreams of a better world. Picture as well a women’s club leader  who issues a call and response plea to the audience to repeat the Preamble words of the U.S. Constitution.

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Ken Russell, a city commissioner in Miami, points out how the opportunities for change will best arise through direct involvement at the local level. With vision of Obama’s “Yes We Can” theme, his constructive ideas for community involvement “brings the house down” as a sea of signs/banners rise prominently from the crowd. I feel then a unity of purpose that the Progressive movement I embrace will be shared by all in attendance today.

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South Florida seems to be the ideal place to challenge the extreme right-wing Presidential policies of Trump. As a gateway to Latin America, multicultural co-existence is a fact of life here. As a fragile land, global warming threatens to submerge our urban communities. With a critical need for health care amongst the rising poor and elderly population, the end of Obamacare will jeopardize their chances of obtaining affordable health care. With Dade County being one of the largest public school systems in the country, the Trump plan to appoint a woman lacking knowledge of or experience in teaching as Education Secretary portends a poor match for meeting the complex needs of the urban teacher in our community.

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Today’s woman’s rallies across America marks the beginning of a democracy that many of us strive for. Statements of freedom, equality and acceptance must however be matched by united action. The more we find ways to respect and show courtesy to each other, the more likely we will create a better world for ourselves. We do not need need to wait four years of Donald Trump for this to happen however. If our minds are open to purposeful commitment every day, then our hearts will never again be politically broken.

 

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Dominica Rainforest Revealed Fully

A curious glance at the lush greenery of Dominica from our ship enticed my wife and I to experience the rainforest firsthand on our recent cruise. Finding numerous private operators as we exited the ship, we opted for a three-hour van tour through the surrounding mountains. Never realizing that we would need to “slip and slide” along our walking routes through pelting rain to reach inland waterfalls, hot springs, and bird sightings, I can honestly reflect that I enjoyed getting drenched that day.

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Our “floating hotel”, as our driver, Saraya, called it, brought big business to this island as he sadly noted Dominica experienced then an unemployment rate of over 38%. Yet, there was no obvious appearance of “hustle” for tourist dollars from him or the local populace we met. I felt then that corporations were destroying these precious rainforests for the sake of economic greed. During our rainforest visit, we also took time to smell various tropical herbs and realized the many untapped, natural cures for urban ailments present in these steamy surroundings.

The last leg of our tour winded steeply downhill to the capital city Roseau, situated in a bowl- shaped valley. I laughed at the “double entendre” meaning when Saraya stated that we would soon be arriving at the “dead center” of the city as we become aware of dangerous waterways and eerie cemeteries nearby.

Clearly, we evidenced a stark contrast between the shantytown atmosphere of the countryside and the impressive, urban amenities downtown. A”state-of the art” soccer stadium, a stately Government Palace, and a thriving port here provided proof that Dominicans had made substantial progress as an independent people to overcome centuries of slavery/political repression in this nation’s British colonialist past.

Dominica, you are no “third world” country in my mind. I am glad that you have taken the time to educate me in both mind and spirit about the hidden treasures that your country possesses. Your natural beauty has helped me feel more “alive” today as I sail away to savor these priceless moments of “sleepy” solitude.