I Can Rationalize Anything

[UPDATED three days later in the POST SCRIPT below, after my 50th Rockford High School reunion, the reason I had to get to Michigan that very day!]


I had a boyfriend (first love of my life, actually) who said he had realized, “I can rationalize anything.”  I never ever knew how I felt about that, until this past year, when I realized that one of the big problems, if not the biggest problem, of the human species is that “we can rationalize anything.” Meaning we can take whatever the reality is, and make it sound like something else, that fits inside our world views, our small brains. Big brains, supposedly, for animals.

(It’s always funny to me how people say, “The animal part of us” or “Humans are like this and animals are like that.” What part of us is NOT animal? The part that’s a rock, a plant? We are totally animals, and yet we take all of our animal experiences and turn them into rational thoughts. We make stuff up all the time.)

Today I have a huge thing to rationalize. I am flying from Oakland to Detroit (I am finally able to laugh about it, just now, as I write) and it’s costing me $1000 more than I thought it would cost yesterday! My flimsy excuse is that …   (see OUTTAKES for the stream of consciousness that I excised from here!)

… Back to my flimsy excuse. Excuses are a frequent mode of rationalization, eh? (I like the Canadian “eh?” just like the Southern “y’all” for you plural.) I made reservations using Southwest Airlines flying out of San Francisco, and then Southwest changed it to bad flights and I called them up. We went back and forth between SFO and OAK and somehow I didn’t get that BOTH departure and arrival flights were Oakland (I live in Oakland), so this morning I went to SFO. Yikes. (see OUTTAKES for extraneous details.)

I used to rationalize extra costs by saying, “Will I even remember this when I’m 65?” Now that I’m 67 (the summer of love), what should I say, “Will I even remember this (or anything) when I’m 100?” Now my fall back rationalizations are that I live in a community house — which is wonderful in so many ways — and I don’t own a car and so I save $1000 every month or two over what it would cost if I lived in more “normal” ways. Also, I rationalize by remembering people, especially rather poor-but-proud people who say, “Yes, that was an extra expense. But thank goodness we did have the money!” Hearing that always reminded me of how lucky I have been in my life, when I really look at it. Maybe some other day I’ll blog about the real wealth, which is … health. Knock on wood.

I’ll post this blog now, with outtakes at the bottom.  I’m at Phoenix airport and we’re boarding right now for Detroit!

I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED THIS REUNION FOR A THOUSAND BUCKS!!!  I got to Detroit about 2 hours later than intended and my such-a-good-soul college friend Lenore was there to pick me up. I made it to all reunion events and had a great time. I love the fact that people DO grow up, and growing up is a good thing.

OUTTAKES – TMI (Too Much Information) on my airport mess-ups!
At SFO airport on Friday, I looked at the board for departures and didn’t find my flight to Las Vegas. Was I confused and should I be looking at arriving flights? No. Hmmm. I even asked the seemingly also confused man standing nearby if he was going to Las Vegas, thinking maybe there was an error on the departure board. Then I looked at the boarding pass I had printed out and saw for the first time that it said … OAK. I still didn’t immediately understand! But when I did I ran for the nearest taxi; 110 dollars later I was at Oakland airport; and then at 10:32 I was at the gate watching my 10:35 flight pull out.

Carolyn at Southwest was really helpful but we realized there was NO WAY Southwest could get me to Michigan, at all, in time for my 50th high school reunion activities the next day. So I check Orbitz and they teased me with a $504 flight departing in an hour from OAK that would arrive in Detroit only 2 hours later than my original plans. But the listing said I had to call the airlines to reserve. A very helpful woman tried very hard to reserve that flight that had 3 seats left, but she couldn’t actually reserve it, because it was such a short time away, but I should go to the US Airways folks in the airport, and there it turned into $870 and by this time I just put my credit card on the counter and said OK.

THIS SHOULDN’T even make the “OUTTAKES” pile!

(BTW, will I get a meal on this trip, or not, since I’m flying first class? I’ve already gotten two glasses of red wine on the Oakland/Phoenix flight, wondering why they serve Merlot only, and not Cabernet Sauvignon. Nope, no meal this flight, but I should get dinner on the Phoenix to Detroit trip, right?)

P.S.  I’m not even going to preview this.  Times are changing. Perfectionism is out.


Curious about Cuba? (Reference Sheet)

I’m so happy whenever I get a chance to talk about Cuba, especially when I’ve given presentations or led discussions. I hope to post — if it gets edited! — a video based on a recent presentation with pictures at a “Green Sunday” (hosted by the Green Party of Alameda County, and video-taped by Jonathan Nack).

If you are Curious about Cuba, you’re in good company. It’s fascinating in so many ways. This blog has references to help you satisfy some of your curiosity!

Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana, by Marc Frank

Cuba: A Revolution in Motion, by Isaac Saney

RESOURCES WEBPAGE of Eco-Cuba Network, sponsor of the April 20-29, 2015 tour.
Contents (partial list):
—6 videos available online
—Salud! a film on Cuba’s health care system, directed by Connie Field
——(available at Oakland and Berkeley Public Libraries)
—Maestra, a 30-minute film on Cuba’s 1961 literacy campaign, directed by Catherine Murphy
——(available at Berkeley Public Library)
—Slideshows, relatively short: Cuba Naturally, and The Birds of Cuba

Task Force on the Americas/MITF, co-sponsor of April tour, and many others in Latin America, (415) 924-3227, mitf@igc.org, http://taskforceamericas.org/

venezuelanalysis.com, news about Latin American regional integration and specifically Venezuela

https://laurawells.org/, blog about Cuba, CA, politics, life. Contact: laurawells510 (at) gmail.com


CUBA: Questions about Normalization, Religion, Birds, Dance…

My blog on April 20, 2015 was written on the first day of my Eco-Cuba Network tour and listed questions others and I had about Cuba. This blog post will provide some answers and refer to prior blogs as well. Answers to other questions will appear in future blogs.

NOTE: You know that I am not an expert on Cuba (nobody is, really!) and that Cuba is not perfect, right? I’ll state my bias straight away: when discussing countries or other entities that I see as trying to improve conditions for people and the planet, I tend to be less of a critic and more of a “cheerleader” (and no, I was not a cheerleader in high school). I am interested in seeing and spreading the word about strengths, hope, and power at “la base” — which is how they say “grassroots” in Spanish — and in the leadership too.

Q.    What are hopes and fears of the Cuban people related to normalization of relations between the US and Cuba? And how do they differ according to age group?
A.    Improved trade and development are the main hopes. The main fear — and it seems to be more a fear of mine and others in the U.S. — is that Cuba could be overrun by the U.S. and by capitalism in general.

Cuba has strengths and strategies for avoiding being overrun. See the list of Cuba’s strengths in my 5/11/2015 blog, especially #2 about the Foreign Investment Law. HERE

A big hope is that opportunities for trade will improve, and that their trade deficit will be reduced or eliminated. Currently other countries across the globe trade with Cuba, but the U.S. has imposed undesirable consequences on those countries, banks and other businesses. So, sometimes they’ve decided to raise prices for Cuba to compensate for the risk, or to not do business with Cuba at all.

Cubans hope for an improved ability to obtain embargoed products that have some U.S. components, such as medicines and medical equipment, building materials, and technology. They hope for an improved ability to sell Cuban products to the U.S. market. The blockade hurts people in both directions. For example, Cuba has developed a medicine for diabetes that U.S. doctors are asking, “Why can’t we obtain that for our patients?”

As to development, they want to build day care centers (for children and their growing population of seniors), housing, infrastructure for agriculture, etc. Many of those projects were stalled at the beginning of the “special period” in the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed.

The Foreign Investment Law excludes foreign investment in education and healthcare and I say “Hip Hip Hurray!” to that.

Q.    Religion and spirituality. Is it valued? respected? embraced?
A.    I was surprised that people are free to practice their religions. (There’s a lot I didn’t know about Cuba.) The country has become more and more open to religions: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Santería, and others. Recently the Communist Party’s prohibition against accepting believers as members ended. Although the most common religion is Roman Catholic, there hasn’t been as much catholic-based “liberation theology” as in many other Latin American countries. People are pretty secular, however, they may have their children baptized, but they don’t often attend or get married in the church. Popes have been welcomed for visits, and BTW, they have been objecting to the U.S. embargo.

Q.    Is the dual currency system getting better or worse for the Cuban people?
A.    I don’t know! All I can say is that the Cuban people and government are making economic changes, as individuals and as the government. Related to these changes, I was startled to learn that Raul Castro, who became interim head of state in 2006 and official head in 2008, said, “We have to wipe out forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where you can live without working.”

Q.    Will I be able to see some of the wonderful birds that are in Cuba and nowhere else in the world? Like the Bee Hummingbird (zunzuncita).
A.    Yes. I saw the Tocororo (Cuban Trogon), and the Cuban Green Woodpecker among many others. The Tocororo is the Cuban national bird and is a striking blue, red, and white, the colors of the Cuban flag. (Do the colors sound familiar?)

However, the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird, will have to wait for the hope-for next time I go to Cuba. Then I’ll go to the Zapata National Park, near the Bay of Pigs. I found more information about it HERE.

Q.    Will I get to dance, salsa, bachata, cumbia, cha cha, rumba, bolero, whatever?
A.    Yes, 3 times, with primary grade children, down syndrome young people, and at a meeting of a local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. (I’m guessing the dancing started in the night clubs after I went to bed!) We politicos in the group thought the CDR would be a chance to see neighborhood politics in action. Nope — they had a party for us! One Cuban said that if all Cubans would strive as hard for excellence in the economy as they do in music, Cuba would solve all its economic problems. Hmmm.

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