Category Archives: Politics

2016: My year in review

When I was a teenager I would write a last journal entry the last hour before the end of the year. I was usually babysitting, so was awake at that time — and never was out partying because I was not popular enough to party on New Year’s eve.

Here’s my personal review in pictures…

In January we trekked through a blizzard to attend a Burns' Supper
In January we trekked through a blizzard to attend a Burns’ Supper
In February we threw Mom a surprise 80th birthday party
In February we threw Mom a surprise 80th birthday party
and helped Andrew move into his own apartment in DC.
and helped Andrew move into his own apartment in DC.
In March we visited Austin, Texas and obtained a new chum
In March we visited Austin, Texas and obtained a new chum
and we also visited Chris and Sheri in Winston-Salem in March.
and we also visited Chris and Sheri in Winston-Salem in March.

There have been heated discussions on Facebook and elsewhere about why it is not right to call 2016 the “worst year ever”. Dean and Clare both agree that it is wrong to call it that. I don’t agree with them. There have been many worse years in the world than 2016 — with that I will agree. If the Bible is to be believed, the year Noah had to build the ark because God was pissed off at his people enough to drown all but a handful. Then there were the years of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the years of plagues and the two world wars, and the Holocaust. Yes indeed, there were many horrible years in the world — much worse than 2016 when a handful of celebrities died and Donald Trump won the U. S. presidential election. So, no, 2016 was not the worst year. But it was my worst year, especially if I tack on the last week few days of 2015.

It was not all bad.

Sure, 2016 had some mighty fine parts. I traveled to some fun places — Austin, Texas; Southern California; Olympia, Washington (twice); Illinois (countless times). I got to hang out with my brother and his family more than usual. I saw my brother marry a wonderful woman.

Despite all the exciting travel and good times with family, I lost two very important people in my life between December 27th, 2015 and August 26th, 2016.


One of my favorite people ever, my Aunt Ginny, died December 27, 2015. Her husband, my Uncle Jack called to tell me the news when we were on our way back from our semi-annual post-winter trip to Chincoteague. Then my mom got worse and worse and died in August, three days after I turned 60.

Yes, 2016 was definitely my worst year.

The West Wing — a learning experience

A few days ago I watched the final episode of The West Wing. I began watching it several months ago, not expecting to like it, but after a couple of episodes (and definitely after the first season) I was hooked.

I knew about the program when it was on television but, not being particularly interested in politics, I was not interested in The West Wing either. Also I was still boycotting anything featuring Rob Lowe. Also I was probably too busy dealing with the kids and working on a master’s degree — at least when the program started.

I knew a few people who watched The West Wing but still wasn’t interested — ugh, politics. More recently I knew people who loved it and the actors in it. Here is an example:

A certain bird I know online mentioned she loved the TV series, Psych because of Dulé Hill. I’d never heard of Dulé Hill and, while his character in Psych is cute and quirky, didn’t quite get the attraction. Now I do.

Another online friend wrote about being distracted by “…CJ, Toby and Sam, Josh and Donna, Charlie, Leo and the President…” Had I not been watching the series I would have had to ask what in the world she was talking about.

I learned to love most of the characters on The West Wing. I did not love the dark-haired woman who left after the first season though. She almost made me quit watching The West Wing after a few episodes, but the other characters/actors (even Sam/Rob Lowe) made me stick with it.

Now when something happens in the real world — in the current administration, I can usually relate it to something that happened on The West Wing and remember what President Bartlett did or what his staff advised him to do or not to do.

I’ll miss my daily visits with the folks on the series, but it ended at a perfect spot and in a perfect way. Another 8 years with a different administration would have been wrong. Anyway, I can always go back and watch it with my husband — he is still on season 1. Lucky duck.

Why I support the bag tax. Sort of.

This morning I read an article about a dog owner who opposed the Montgomery County bag tax. While the article was interesting, I mostly paid attention to the comments and wondered where I stood in this issue.

The post — which I see now was posted under the “events” section of our local “Patch” website — is now gone, but there were some interesting comments.

Backing up — if you don’t live in Montgomery County Maryland, you may be wondering what I am talking about. See, as of January 1, 2012 stores are required to charge 5¢ for each bag used to hold purchases. From what I read this morning (which may or may not be true) 4¢ of this is tax and 1¢ is retained by the business. Apparently the tax was created to curtail the problem with plastic bag litter and something to do with stormwater.

The initial article was by a woman who felt the law was a problem for dog owners because dog owners recycled plastic bags by using them to hold their dog’s waste. She also mentioned how she reused other plastic bags for lunches. Other comments agreed with the initial post while a few disagreed. Some agreed but for different reasons.

When I first heard about the tax I was concerned. Not because I worried I might have to pay 5¢ a bag at the grocery store but because I worried about the dog people who would need to buy their bags for their dog’s waste and because I was using plastic grocery bags to dispose of lumps from my kitty litter at the time. I also worried about the workers who traveled to Montgomery County on public transportation. What if they wanted to buy something at the store before going home? They would have to carry cumbersome reusable bags to avoid paying 5¢ a bag.

For me the tax is no big deal. I’ve sporadically used reusable bags for years. In fact I have a very old, waxy and sturdy bag from Giant Food that I probably bought in the early 1990’s — back when you were looked at strangely (and hostilely by some cashiers) when you presented your own bag, especially when you requested they not first put your groceries in plastic bags before putting them in the bags you brought.

I also spent some time in Ireland a couple of years ago where one is charged quite a bit more than 5¢ a bag. I think it was more like 45¢, but those Euros confuse me. Thinking about that trip, a  tax seems like nothing.

I like the tax for myself because it makes me remember ((Some of the people complaining about the law said that those of us who brought our own bags were doing to to “avoid the tax”. I like to think of it more as “to help save the environment”, but that’s just me…)) to bring those bags I’ve collected over several years to the stores. There is no need to add more plastic bags to landfills. We can figure out a different way to dispose of our cat’s waste and my husband will need to figure out a more creative way to transport his lunch to work.

I’m sorry about dog owners and their plastic bag issues, but the lack of free plastic bags has made me a tiny bit more respectful of the resource.

We’ve come a long way from me having to remove my gallons of milk from plastic bags in front of surly cashiers in the checkout line to cashier’s being surprised that the woman in line behind me didn’t have her own grocery bag. It is a small step, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

That said, if the law were repealed I’d be okay with that too. But I’d still bring my own bags.

(Please note that the tax includes all retail shops [with a few exceptions] which means if you go to any store in Montgomery County you’ll need to either have brought your own bag or pay the tax)