Weekly Photo Challenge: Admiration

May 2, 2016 — This week’s photo challenge is Admiration.

Creativity and nature are two things I admire, so I aimed for a photo that combines them both. My photography class instructor, a street photographer by trade, oozes creativity. Since he only shoots black and white and I typically shoot nature shots, I promised him I’d combine them both.

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A dark day for Baltimore, baseball and humanity

downloadApril 29, 2016 – A year ago today, on April 29, 2015, the baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox set an all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball. Zero fans attended the game, an astonishing occurrence that has never happened before in baseball’s history.

Camden Yards, home to the Orioles was closed to the public that night – although the game played – due violent protests that followed Freddie Gray’s ‘rough ride” in a police vehicle, his hospitalization, and death.

Next week, the trial for one of the six police officers (three white and three black) involved begins. Officer Edward Nero, white, is accused of the lesser of the charges (second-degree assault and reckless endangerment). Former prosecutor and criminal attorney Warren S. Alperstein states that “many people” will riot in Baltimore if Nero is tried and acquitted. The trial for William Porter, a black officer charged with manslaughter and second-degree assault, and the first of the six to stand trial, ended with a hung jury. He will be retried.

Let’s pray justice is served, and no matter what the outcome, healing, and peace follow.

Both sides now

cloudsApril 22, 2016 – I never tried out for the debate team in high school or became a lawyer.

If I had done either, chances are I would have said to my opponent, “You make a good point,” and then begin to doubt my view because I can be swayed by a good argument. It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions or consider myself wishy-washy, but rather that I’m opened minded and willing to admit there may be more than one answer to a problem. That sounds better, right?

You can imagine how difficult that style of thinking can be when serving on a jury, and when I lived in Philadelphia, that happened often. I considered myself a professional juror back then, serving on a murder trial that had me sequestered for two weeks, a drug trafficking trial, a rape trial and a civil trial, all within the span of about six years. The last one ended in a hung jury and since then I’ve moved outside of the city limits. Both of these issues keep me on the ‘do not select’ list these days.

I wonder what it is that makes me the perfect juror. The court bailiff on the murder trial said to me one night, “I was in the room when they picked you.” He said it with such intrigue like he wanted me to ask why, but when I did he wouldn’t say.

So, why am I rambling on about this? Because it’s Earth Day—the movement that began in 1970 and focused a spotlight on environmental issues—and I’m still confused about this issue. While I’m not a tree-hugging, Green Peace member, I was affected by the commercial of the Native American male with a tear running down his cheek in the 1970s when he took in the pollution in the U.S. Also, one of my pet peeves is littering, especially when one throws something out of his or her car window.

When it comes to global warming, fracking, nuclear power and any other environmental issue argued  about today, I’m less sure. I do believe we should do our best to protect the earth because some environmental issues have to be fabricated by humans, but I’m uncertain it is as grim as the Al Gores and Michal Moore’s of the world claim.

Do I wish I held a stronger position? Perhaps, but when I research global warming, there is so much contradictory information that I don’t know what to hold onto. Therefore, logic must come into play—and it places me right in the middle, just as it does with politics and other debatable issues.

Perhaps Joni Mitchell described my dilemma best:

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all.”

Let’s all try to respect mother earth with our actions today and in the future. A little effort on everyone’s part makes a huge difference. At the very least we’ll leave a more beautiful planet for future generations to enjoy.

Happy Earth Day.

Revisiting the war on women

imagesApril 15, 2016 — It’s back. That clever marketing ploy—the war on women—has returned to the headlines thanks to this week’s Equal Pay Day holiday and Hillary Clinton.

Not only is the perceived war demeaning, but also instead of empowering women, it makes them appear dependent. If Clinton wins her party’s nomination, we’re likely to hear more about it over the next several months while she campaigns as if she’s the original suffragist.

Here are a few of the battles we’re supposedly fighting:

Sexual assault on women
While a noble and legitimate cause, if you’re expecting support from Clinton, you might be looking in the wrong direction. She singlehandedly orchestrated investigations on the women who accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton of sexual crimes, and then later said, “Sexual assault accusers must be heard, believed and supported.” Clinton was in a sticky position for sure, and her husband’s behavior is not her fault. However, she knew about his past indiscretions, yet she tried to discredit the women who claimed they were sexually assaulted.

The right to choose
It is doubtful that Roe v. Wade will be overturned anytime soon, if ever, and both parties understand that. It was clear when democrats and republicans defended women and blasted Donald Trump after he stated that women who have abortions should be punished if he overturned Roe v. Wade.

No matter how you feel about abortion, it is legal. We have every right to protest against it for religious or ethical reasons should we desire, but as long as it is the law, it is a woman’s right to choose. As someone who is pro-life, my personal decision, I cannot demand that others live with the same beliefs. My decision comes from a spiritual place. I believe all life has a purpose that needs to be fulfilled. I know it sounds simplistic, and not everything is black and white with this issue. But it’s how I feel and I won’t judge anyone who believes differently.

Birth control
In the staged the “War on Women”, somehow this issue became a battle, too. Democrats accused republicans of trying to end insurance coverage for birth control in the last presidential election, when in reality, they wanted to stop the government from requiring employers to cover birth control at no cost to employees. That is a huge difference. Demanding that birth control gets distributed free, or forcing religious employers to offer it at a discounted price when is against their doctrine, is not something the government should do. Fighting for this slanted cause is not honorable; it is just another way to control women and make them dependent.

Equal pay
Equal pay for men and women was a major topic in the last election when President Obama sought re-election and campaigned that women are paid only 77 percent of what men are paid. We can all agree this is unfair, yet it is difficult to sort through what is fact and what is fiction. If someone can show me what statistics these claims are based on, I’d be grateful. What I do know is that we have fair pay laws in place, which may not have completely leveled the playing field, but they improved it.

There’s also a lot to be taken into consideration when determining pay. Experience, tenure, job performance and type of job or industry, are just a few. There are women do the same job as other women at the same workplace who are not paid the same. The same goes for men. Research also indicates that men are better at negotiating salaries than women are, and that’s an enormous factor. Unless the government can mandate salaries that take into consideration the exact experience, tenure, job performance and more, complete equality across pay scales is a daydream.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Future

April 11, 2016 – This week’s photo challenge is the future.

I do my best to focus on the here and now, but I’m not always successful, spending too much precious time dwelling on the past. As I look out my window at the spring snow, I dream about the near future and summer sunsets at the Jersey Shore.

Sunset Beach, Cape May, N.J.

Sunset Beach, Cape May, N.J.