Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Okay, this will be brief.

Yesterday I read a post on Facebook about a woman who did something quite remarkable.

She took to heart a popular quote:

Supposedly Gandhi said that.

Gandhi was from a nation that worships cows.

Anyway, she saw somewhere that the local humane society was going to euthanize a pit bull and her pup the next day, so she sprang into action.

By the time she got to the shelter, the pup had already been adopted. The woman’s description of the momma dog would, however, break your heart. It was malnourished and had obviously been abused, perhaps used in dog fights. It was covered with wounds and sores, and it cowered in fear.

But the woman stood by her convictions.

She also discovered the pit bull had a companion in the shelter, so she decided to adopt them both.

Just heart-warming…

Thing is, both dogs tested positive for heart worms. She was made aware of this before she adopted them.

Easy to prevent. Very expensive and difficult to cure.

So now she has launched a “GoFundMe” account to raise $3,500 to care for these two dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized the next day.

Captain's Note: If you have been following "Banana Winds" very long, you know how the Captain feels about "GoFundMe". 

This story has left the Captain scratching his head.

First, one shouldn’t adopt an animal you can’t afford.

Second, sometimes the more compassionate course of action is to allow for a humane death.

Don’t get me wrong. The Captain loves animals. We have had dogs. We have cats. And fish.

I would get a parrot, but to cage such a magnificent animal is just plain cruel.

And I don't want bird shit all over my house!

Nonetheless, I suspect Gandhi (or whoever said it) is right. You CAN judge a society by how they treat animals.

In America, we don’t let our people die gracefully anymore either. 

We are so averse to afraid of Death that we spend all of our resources in the waning days of our lives just to stay alive… one more year... one more month... one more day... even when the quality of that life sucks!

Resuscitation is an immediate response to death at any age. Life support is required unless you have signed papers in hand forbidding the doctors to take that action. Then there are surgeries… chemotherapies… radiation treatments… pills...

“Here. Take this pill. It may make you feel better, but it also might cause birth defects or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn. It may be habit-forming. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death.

“Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication. It can increase the effects of alcohol. It may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.
You should not take this medicine if you have:
  • narrow-angle glaucoma;
  • if you are also taking other medications; or
  • if you are allergic to it or similar medications.
“To make sure this medication is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • kidney or liver disease (especially alcoholic liver disease);
  • asthma or other breathing disorder;
  • open-angle glaucoma;
  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior;
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction; or
  • if you also use a narcotic (opioid) medication.
“Do not use this medication if you are pregnant. It can cause birth defects. Your baby could also become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking this medication.

“It can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using this medication.

“The effects of this medication may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take it. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking this medication.”

Captain’s Note: I’m not sure but I may have just violated a copyright law there. Sorry.

So rather than accepting that we are going to die one day – and we all are, one day – we do all this expensive stuff and take all these expensive medications that "could" cure us… if it doesn’t kill us first!

“Momma lived to be 99!” But she didn’t know who she was for the last 20 years.

“Daddy lived to be 80!” Because of the ventilator that breathed for him the last three years.

And now we're financially ruined as well...

No thank you!

Can’t we learn to accept that death is a part of life? That we are all eventually going to die? That one should be allowed as much dignity in dying as granted while living?

Your Captain doesn’t plan to spend his “Golden Years” tethered to life support or dependent on drugs.

And one shouldn’t force that upon another either – human or animal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Parsonage Life

Nearly two years ago, the Captain and First Mate were informed that we would be moving.

It was unexpected, to say the least. While the job was stressful – what church job isn’t? – we didn’t see this coming.

To compound that matter, since we weren’t expecting to move, we had already scheduled a family vacation during what is traditionally known as “Moving Week”.

Captain’s Note: “Moving Day” is a church thing. Every pastor who is moving to a new assignment moves on the same day. That way there is, theoretically, no loss of pastoral care when one pastor leaves and the new one arrives. But that also means the out-going family must be out by noon so the in-coming family can move in.

We’ve done this several times before, and it never gets any easier. The longer you live, the more “Stuff” you acquire, which means there’s an ever-increasing amount of “Stuff” to pack and move.

This time we were in a pickle. We needed to move out of our parsonage (church-provided housing for clergy) before we left for vacation, which meant we needed access to the parsonage we were moving to as well. We thought that would be easy to arrange since the house was being rented and the renters were leaving about the same time.

But a kink in the plan arose because the church leaders wanted to welcome us properly by totally re-painting and re-carpeting the house. Under normal circumstances that would have been greatly appreciated, but these were unusual times. Despite my pleas, the church’s representative told us he didn’t think there was any way they could get all that done before we needed to move in.

I suggested they just clean the carpets and do a deep-clean of the rest of the house (i.e kitchen and bathrooms), and we would paint and work on the floors after we moved in. He didn’t like that idea. In fact, he liked better the idea that we wouldn’t be moving in until after our vacation, which would give them an additional week to do the work they wanted to do.

In desperation, I sent him “before & after” photos of our handiwork at another house we had lived in.

That was enough to convince him we would do a good job.

The deal, as it has always been with us, is that we would carefully maintain the church-owned parsonage. We have heard nightmares from others – of parsonages literally falling down, of child- or pet-inflicted damage, and just general lack of care. And in most of those situations, it was a matter of neither the church nor the pastor wanting to take responsibility for the house.

Church: “You’re living there; you fix it.”
Pastor: “It’s your house; you fix it.”

At one house, this battle apparently went so far as the changing of lightbulbs. When we moved in, there were just enough working lightbulbs to find your way through the house.

Our deal has been that if there is something that needs to be done, we will do the work and they will pay for the materials. If there is something we want done (our preference), we will pay for the materials. It has worked well in the past. We have painted, replaced flooring, rewired, plumbed, landscaped… whatever was needed.

So once the renters left, I spent several late nights painting – when I should have been packing – trying to get ahead of the move. But the time came and we had to move our “Stuff”…

And then we left for our much-needed vacation.

By the way, we spent days personally cleaning the house we left. The kitchen and bathrooms were spotless. I filled nail holes from where we had hung pictures. (I knew they were going to re-paint.) We even “polished the lightbulbs”, as a colleague once suggested! The next family could move right in.

As usual, our current home has been a constant work-in-progress. The First Mate and I have re-painted every room except two. And last month we began on the floors – replacing carpet in the Master Bedroom with engineered wood flooring – bamboo, a renewable resource.

And it’s gorgeous!

This weekend we started on the Family Room. More carpet removed, more engineered wood flooring installed. Of course, this involves re-packing the smaller items and moving around a room full of heavy furniture.

The flooring (400 square feet of it!) is going down easily. And for the first two days, we were moving along surprisingly well. But yesterday we hit a snag. At some point in time, water had leaked in through the sliding glass door and the particle board sub-floor was swollen and rotted; mold had developed in places under the sub-floor. So before we could continue, about 30 square feet of sub-floor had to come up.

This set me back a day, but it created an opportunity as well. In replacing the sub-floor in front of the sliding glass door, I have installed a water-proof hardi-board which will eventually support ceramic tile to create a space for wet or muddy shoes coming in from outside.

So yesterday I wrangled a sheet of hardi-board and two sheets of chip-board home from the hardware store and spent the rest of the day installing them.

Do you have any idea how much a 4 X 8 sheet of chip-board weighs?

Nearly 60 lbs., that’s how much!

Unfortunately, the Captain and First Mate both have “real jobs”, so the completion of the floor project will have to wait until the weekend.

Then comes the fun part!

The layout of the house does not really match our lifestyles. As you might guess, we are not a “Formal Living Room” and “Formal Dining Room” couple. 

Although the house is set up for that, it has been wasted space. So after we finish the floor in the family room, we’re going to move our Family Room activities into the Formal Dining Room, freeing up the center of the house for bonus space.

Think arts & crafts, family gatherings, etc.

There are several more “projects” awaiting us in this house – two bathrooms with odd layers of flooring stacked one atop the other; a kitchen that reflects its mid-70s origin; two more bedrooms; and the Living Room/Dining Room area.

And then there is my eternal dream for an expanded patio.

If all goes well, we hope to live here long enough to get it all done.

And enjoy it!

From my keyboard to God’s ears!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

End Games

The Captain is troubled, mates. Deeply troubled.

For three seasons the writers of “Black Sails” have built a strong audience of pirate-minded folks, melding real-life characters of the Golden Age of Piracy with the fictional characters of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, “Treasure Island”. In fact, the show is billed as a “prequel” to “Treasure Island”.

The timeline and events of the historic pirates is skewed for the sake of story-telling – which most viewers have come to accept. We revel in the contrived world of an 18th century pirate-driven Nassau and the high seas exploits of the captains and crews.

But this fourth season will be the show’s last. And the writers are working hard to tie up loose ends. At the end of season 3, one of the most popular pirate captains on the show – Captain Vane – was captured and hanged by the British, who have arrived in force to bring order back to the island.

But in last Sunday’s episode, tensions came to a head between Captain Flint and Billy Bones, who are feuding with one another. This in spite of an overriding rule throughout the show that pirates don’t turn against their brothers.

In fact, Captain Hornigold’s death was met with great joy only because he grew angry with Captain Flint and sided with the British.

But although Captain Flint has been the main character of this show from the beginning, it appears now that Long John Silver will be the last pirate standing!

But what really pissed off fans of the show on Sunday was when Governor Woods Rogers lured Blackbeard into a trap. 

With Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny standing nearby on the Queen Anne’s Revenge – a battleship that could seriously out-gun Rogers’ sloop – Blackbeard is captured without much of a fight, and in response Rackham surrenders the ship. Blackbeard is then “keel-hauled” as the other pirates stand around in chains and watch.

The keel-hauling was graphic. But what outraged so many viewers – your Captain included – is that the writers would have Blackbeard surrender in such a fight, and that Rackham would surrender his ship and crew when it was so obvious they could have prevailed!

Captain’s Note: The real Blackbeard was, in fact, lured into a trap, but he died in combat – reportedly being hit by five musket balls and receiving 20+ sword slashes before being killed when struck with a sword, nearly decapitated. Jack Rackham, on the other hand, was something of a coward. In the notable words of Anne Bonny, “I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, then you need not have been hanged like a dog!”

Without a doubt, most of the pirate captains will be dead by the end of the season. That much is a given. Perhaps Long John Silver will rule over Nassau. 

But what if the Red-Coats prevail?

The Captain wonders if we have been intentionally led astray by the writers. What is their end game?

Is it possible that, rather than this being simply an exciting swash-buckling adventure story, it is actually a morality play? Is it possible that, all along, the writers have been leading us to the conclusion that good will ultimately triumph over evil?

In this case, Woods Rogers representing a twisted version of “good” and Captain Flint representing “evil”?

Is it possible that all the high seas adventures, the schemes and dreams in Nassau, all the violence and gore, all the full-frontal nudity and gratuitous sex acts, were but to lead us to one conclusion: that piracy is bad and law and order must prevail?

Right now, the Captain is feeling betrayed! If that is how this all ends, I don’t want to watch any more.

But that is only a small part of our troubles.

The Captain has a hard time believing that it is only disgruntled Democrats who are standing around with mouths agog at all that our new President is doing.

     *Mind-boggling political appointments apparently designed to dismantle the government…
     *A flurry of Executive Orders that are ill-considered and often spiteful…
     *The continuing stream of outrageous statements via Twitter…
     *Lies, lies, and more lies…

And when seven tornadoes ravaged Louisiana last week, the President was only concerned that Nordstrom was dropping his daughter’s under-performing clothing line from their stores!

To make matters worse, regardless of how horrendous his Cabinet appointments are, and how much they lied to the Senate committees interviewing them, Congress has passed them all, mostly along party lines.

As Secretary of Defense, General Mattis will be 6th in the line of Succession.
Sadly, Democrats are powerless to stop this Republican-controlled Congress. When Dems on one committee staged a walk-out to stop a vote – because by law at least one Democrat had to be present to conduct such a vote – the chairman laid aside the rules and called for the vote anyway!

And this week, the President’s pick for National Security Advisor – supposedly vetted by Congress – resigned when the Intelligence Community finally convinced the right people that General Michael Flynn had, in fact, broken the law by communicating with Russia before the election and then lied about it.

“Lock him up!”

But Republicans in Congress wanted to immediately put that behind them and move on. And they are absolutely refusing to hold hearings on the President’s connection to Russia and the supposed dossier Putin has on him.

Which brings up the question, “What is the end game here?” Where is all this headed?

Frankly, the Captain believes the President is simply a puppet. While it may appear he only wants to help his billionaire friends (and himself) by enacting friendly laws that will enhance their wealth – the rest of the world be damned! – I suspect there are darker forces at work that will, if left unchecked, destroy America as we know it.

But what could the end game be for Republicans in Congress? Why aren’t our elected leaders as troubled about this President as many of the rest of us are? Surely they see the erratic behavior, the crumbling of relations with friendly nations, the threat of war from hostile nations.

And the outright lies!

And yet they do nothing.

What will it take for Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan to stand up to this President and say, “Enough is enough!”?

It’s obvious the Republicans in Congress have an agenda that they plan to fully exploit in the next two years while they are still in power. And they obviously need an ally in the White House – one who is easily swayed – to sign off on it at the end of the day.

And looking out for their own careers, to cross the new leader of your party so early in his tenure would be the death knell for most of them.

But is there more to it than that?

Here is what the Captain is thinking.

And it’s pretty frightening…

In the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, President Truman gave us a proper order of succession should the President become incapacitated, die, or be impeached.

Naturally, the job would first fall to Vice President Michael Pence. However, it is very likely that should the President be impeached, indicted, or otherwise removed from office, the Vice President wouldn’t be far behind. If Pence managed to stay, one could expect more order (he actually has political experience) but would he be able to remove the current President’s hapless appointees? And would his agenda be any more favorable toward women and minorities?

Next in line would be – wait for it! – the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. 

Don't ask...
This is where the Captain gets suspicious. This former (failed) V-P candidate and current Randian weasel refused to comment on candidate Trump’s most egregious remarks throughout the campaign, and still today refuses to take a public stance against the President. Yet he holds the power to set impeachment proceedings in motion – in his own good time.

Although he modestly demurred when asked to become Speaker, the Captain can’t help but wonder if he isn’t just biding time until the Succession Act sweeps him into the Oval Office?

He wouldn’t have to campaign. He wouldn’t have to win an election. He would just walk in and take over!

Is this his end game?

Fortunately, "Black Sails" is fiction. Like it or not, how this show ends carries with it no ramifications to my life or anyone else's.

This other shit is important though. I don't ever want to have to say the words “President Paul Ryan” out loud…

I feel dirty. I need to take a shower now...