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Often we fail, or put off until tomorrow, those little things that don't change the mountain of daily challenges, but do change our life in a subtle way. Life, however, is fleeting and it's quite possible those little things may not get their tomorrow. Life is better if I do them today. Before I start my column, I want to publicly thank Yana Berlin for her lovely blog post reviewing my new book "Amber Returns to Maine". To write such a glowing review on her own blog was really special of her. I was honored. Thanks, Yana.

My original plan for this column edition was to write about the two dilemmas that seem to be the hot bed of controversy in today's political wars – immigration and jobs. Then something happened that totally, to me, illustrates the state of frustration running rampant in the middle class ranks of our society – Steven Slater, flight attendant, deployed the emergency exit slide, grabbed two beers from the service cart and slid out of a Jet Blue 737 aircraft at JFK. After a confrontation with a passenger who refused to remain seated until the airplane reached the gate, it appears that Mr. Slater went off the edge, so to speak. Criminal? Maybe safety laws were broken at the deployment of the slide, but Steven Slater, a twenty-eight year veteran of flight, is now America's newest folk hero. Why?

Typically, details of the preceding events leading up to this action are already changing. Initially, the media announced that the female passenger whopped Mr. Slater upside the head with her carry-on while spewing a gaggle of profanity. Now, other witnesses are saying that he'd been obviously upset and cranky since departing Pittsburgh and that his head injury was suffered prior to the confrontation at landing. Regardless the sequence, it really doesn't alter the fact that Mr. Slater was not having a good day. Nor, that his Facebook friend list is growing hourly.

Disgruntled employees, people without jobs for months, the political scene, surviving daily life, hopelessness and now, anger that leads to rage seems to be taking over the population. Almost nightly, we hear accounts of people "loosing it" in all areas of "Main Street" society. We hear, too, of more corruption in the halls of government, and huge bonuses for bankers who have their own laws, are above ethics and rewarded for it.  

Cable news broadcasts negativity into the minds of anyone willing to listen over and over and over, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Or, we can watch mindless series on violence, sex and blood-sucking vampires. We can go to a sports event, even Little League at the neighborhood park, and witness a brawl on the field or between parents in cheap wooden bleacher seats, or a myriad of other pastimes to simply get through the day. Maybe we could sneak in to Charlie Rangle's birthday party?

For a few, there's the joy of nature and a bit of serenity for a while, but sometimes that makes the living noise even louder. I'm lucky; I write a lot, create my own little worlds. For survival, I edit and help others create their own. Still, I get the urge to deploy a slide now and then.

Some of these incidents are almost comical and others tragic, ending in death and destruction. It seems everyone is consistently losing fuse length. Stress is the rule of daily life. Scams and cost-cutting by employers results in fewer people doing more work for less or no work at all and facing financial ruin while our Congress sits deadlocked and being highly paid for it.  

Service jobs require dealing with a populace in this underlying mood day after day after day. I worked with the public a good share of my life, even in law enforcement. It isn't easy to always maintain a smiling face and a subservient behavior. Nor, as a consumer of the services, is it easy to contend with more and more rules and regulations, poor customer service due to cost cutting and grumpy clerks.

I heard an interview yesterday, as yet I haven't researched its accuracy, but given the tide of events, I don't doubt it. Talk show host, Dylan Ratigan, interviewed a former "stewardess" from the sixties. Back then, it was a premier job for women only. Diana, her name, said that they made excellent money, had good benefits and twice the crew on an aircraft. Now, flight attendants have had their pay cut, benefits cut and work doubled. Then, she dropped a bombshell . . . she claimed that the airlines in a cost-saving measure, have decreased the levels of oxygen in the passenger cabins to 1/10th of its prior levels, comfort not being part of the equation, only bare minimum for breathing. People spending several hours in the air can actually suffer the effects of oxygen deprivation! I'll be interested to see if this proves to be accurate and will report it to you when I find a source.

Recently on my trip to Alaska, we took a summit flight to the McKinley peaks. Above 18,000 feet oxygen was turned on and distributed through individual masks. The small plane was not pressurized. At 20,000 feet, the beauty was so immense that some passengers, including me, forgot to use their masks. Instant headache was the result. I can imagine the same scenario above 30,000 feet if oxygen is at minimum levels and one spends forty hours or more a week in the air. Even hiking in the high elevations can make some people ill if they tend toward altitude sickness as a result of thinner air.  

I think Steven Slater made a statement, rightly or wrongly, as to the frame of mind of many millions of people. Even conducting, or attempting to conduct business by telephone is a nightmare these days. It's especially difficult for elderly folks, who are unfamiliar with technology, to function. Add failing vision and hearing and you have an exacerbated problem. I walked in the door the other day and witnessed my dear 89 year old mother, who will carry an invading insect out of the house on a tissue rather than harm it, throw the telephone across the room in utter frustration at attempting to communicate with an electronic menu. As I was making the call for her, she burst into tears and said, "I can't do it anymore, to hell with it all."

What's the solution? It's obvious that the secular solutions don't lie in the halls of government, with our friendly neighborhood banks, corporations or churches. It doesn't lie with human ingenuity or working hard as there are no jobs and no money to facilitate entrepreneurship. Perhaps, the only solution is for the people to deploy our own slides, a silent revolution refusing to play the games any longer. How long would the power structures last without we the people picking up the tab for it all?  

I honestly don't know the solutions as the obvious ones don't work in our system of government. I do believe that there are a lot of people that have a Steven Slater mindset even if they don't carry through. How often do you hear someone say "I love my job?" I run into many haggard-looking service people who appear they are ready to blow up OR seem to be off in another world mentally crawling to the time clock. On payday, they go home and draw one or two bills out of the fishbowl. These are the working poor who invade emergency rooms as a last result for healthcare. There are a lot more of these people than lazy couch potatoes who enjoy living off the dole.

I expect the slide-type episodes will continue to escalate. I just hope not too many are the tragic kind. What do you think?

    

 **Susan Haley is the published author of three books, several articles on networking, an award-winning poet, contract copy editor, and book reviewer for AME Marketing. She is a columnist for The Florida Writer the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, and serves as Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. She is a frequent contributor to the Fox and Quill and the Infinite Writer e-zines and the political columnist for Fabulously 40 and Beyond out of San Diego.  

The audio version of her novel Rainy Day People was awarded in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various newsletters and local papers, and is Founder and Designer of a Spiritual website dedicated to Nature. www.sucarha.com Her third book, Amber Returns to Maine and Other Songs of the Soul was released in March 2010. All are available on

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 12, 2010
    • Good to see you, Annie! I missed you on my last column upon my return from Alaska. Have you been away?

      I don’t know the answers, for sure. I’m disgruntled with government, period. I had hopes for change back in 2008 like many other folks. I observe the daily activities of Congress, both sides, and I think they are ALL in their own little world of power and getting reelected. They’ll say and do anything to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. It’s been that way for a long time. I think we’ve just come past the point of return regardless WHO we elect. They don’t want to solve problems. Our problems are their job security if they can make us believe what “they” say. I’d say they are all in for a rude awakening if the wave of ‘break down’ among the people continues to rise. It’s going to be a stormy sea.

      After spending near five weeks in the wilderness surrounded by nature’s beauty and the serenity of quiet, the horrid state of our society has become even more apparent to me. It’s incredibly sad.

      I hope you are well.

      Best,
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Aug 12, 2010
    • Great blog Susan!  The whole situation going on in our country is very saddening and very scary to me!  Just yesterday an individual was threatening to jump off one of our bridges!  People are losing it....short tempered....and maybe silently planning that revolution.....non-violent...I’m not sure of that...I hope so!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 12, 2010
    • Thanks, Mary - I find it sad, and scary too. Here in Florida, especially in summer and with the effects of the oil spill still lingering, jobs are hard to come by here too. A tourism based economy provides mostly service jobs and they are all cutting back. Domestic violence and even killings are on the rise because home life is so stressful.

      All county services are being cut, or about to be. Even the libraries are shortening hours, putting kids on the street to wander aimlessly. That always leads to trouble.
      What used to be a peaceful place, is wrought with tension and anger. We have a primary coming up August 24th. I don’t know what I’m going to do, still. Vote for all the poor Independents that can’t afford to run well-financed campaigns is what I’m leaning toward on the local level.

      All who presently hold office office are the ‘fat cats’ who aren’t affected by the disasters they create for us lowly middle class working folks. I don’t know what winter season will bring this year. Food prices have gone out of sight. I’ve been eating a lot of soup. :)
      Hope all is well with you.

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 13, 2010
    • Annie, in my opinion and in my faith, Nature is the reality! It’s the “scripture” of the Creator.  

      What we as a species have done and are doing is the nightmare, the ‘unreality‘. Going to the wilderness with true appreciation and an open mind somehow makes it easier to understand. However, in today’s material world, not a huge amount feel that way, or are not motivated to explore the idea or the place where it comes to mind and heart. Those are my feelings.
      The hard part is to learn to function in both. Some even have the courage to choose only the reality. I met several of them up in the deepwoods. The true natives.
      Even the descendants of the gold chasers now live in tune and in respect with the earth and life.

      Sadly, the city dwellers and opportunits, even in Alaska are caught up in the nightmare. Anchorage is no different than any other large city but for the winter cold. Anchorage is not Alaska - Anchorage is the invasion. :)

      For me, anyway.
      My last blog was “The Edge of Chugach” It’s still viewable.
      You might enjoy it even if it isn’t totally political.

      Best,
      S.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Aug 18, 2010
    • heart First I’d like to say to both Susan and Annie I enjoy reading your posts. They are intelligent and witty. Bravo ladies.
      I work in the retail industry and it’s for a global corporation. While I am upper middle management I guess you would say I see and deal with the “I’m going to lose it ” on a daily basis. My own managers are there and sometimes myself along with them.
      While our corporate powers that be are cutting back every tiny little expence you can think of they are demanding more and more and put it out there in a positive spin. Always the underlying threat of job loss if those demands aren’t met.
      With our government turning a blind eye to the nation they are to be fixing and corporate America threatening to replace whosever job doesn’t help the cycle. It’s vicious and no end in site so I think the middle america lives in stress that’s their normal daily feeling it’s what is the norm until you just crack.
      I have no answers either because an answer to one issues leads more to open. Where do we start to save our country from itself. The top, middle or with us for we are “we the people ” but do we remember that?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote Aug 18, 2010
    • Yes, great blog and comments!

      I was looking at a picture of my new baby grandson last night and, thinking of these topics, just broke down sobbing.  

      My heart breaks for today’s children and babies. I pray we can do better for them.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 18, 2010
    • Suzanne?? Is this my old friend Suzanne from Austin, Texas?

      If so, I’m glad to see you are still around here at Fab 40. You just disappeared on me a year or so back. :) Hope you are well.  

      Yes, I can see why you sobbed. Doesn’t look promising for a baby, does it? I’m glad I’m too old to have to make that decision. My two sons have been my saving grace since my husband died, but I’d sure think twice before having a child today.

      Thank you for the compliment. Yes, I always enjoy Annie’s posts myself. She and I have had some good discussions and done so civily and respectfully even when we disagreed. I can’t understand why our legislature can’t do that! Well, actually, I can. They are all out for themselves and re-election. What’s ‘right’ is irrelevant to them. I must answer Chrisistbury, too.

      Best,
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 18, 2010
    • Hello Crisastbury (Think I spelled that wrong above - sorry)

      You sure have hit the nail on the head. We do live in this chaos for so long we tend to think of it as normal and it simply isn’t, although ‘normal’ is subjective. What we live in is ludicracy. :)

      I feel for you in upper middle management! You get it from three directions. Top, bottom AND consumer. Talk about being stuck in the middle! But, yes, always the subtle threat of your job if you fail to comply.  

      In addition to cutting staff to the bone, these large corporations are also totally replacing many jobs with machines and robots, turn around and write their investment off on their taxes and morph into pure profit in a task that used to require human hands to complete. They are working toward replacing humanity anyway. What they forget is they’ll go down too. I always think of Soylent Green. Maybe it wasn’t Sci-Fi at all, but a glimpse into the future.

      Your last statement - “But do we remember that?” is profound. Ever increasingly, no we don’t. There is already so much division, we are devolving back into tribal mindsets. Us against them North vs. South, the haves and have nots, the seekers and the takers, race vs. race and theology vs theology. Collectively, we’ve lost empathy. We focus on ‘me’ or ‘us’ rarely on ‘we the people‘. There, is where we shoulder some of the blame. For allowing ourselves to be led, told, or threatened with what to believe rather than thinking for ourselves and applying logic and timing.  

      Logic changes as times change. We tend to apply 20th Century logic to 21st Century times. It isn’t working. They say the Constitution is ‘timeless‘. Is it? How are they able to continually change its interpretation even if the words stay the same. What is the difference between ‘right’ and ‘a right‘?

      No, the solution doesn’t lie with an individual, but a group of individuals that continues to grow in numbers. If all working and producing people got on their slides at a designated time, this country would shut down in 12 hours. There is power in numbers. But would it work? Organized, it would. But we’ll never organize, we’ll continue to divide until, and if, we learn to think critically again.

      Meanwhile, I’d like to go back to the deepwood forests or a mountain peak. :) Yes, that is the true reality, or at the least, the lost reality. Cooperation and respect.

      Nice to talk to you. Come visit again.

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • Hi Susan, yes, it’s your old Austin, Texas pal! Only so much has changed - way TMI - but I have ended up in New Hampshire.

      Glad we‘re back in touch.  

      pic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • thank you for the letter that says it so much better than I.
      the only trouble with going back(I’m from Montana) is it’s just a band-aid. If we want the mountains, the wilderness to remain the same then we have to be able to fight for it because it won’t last forever it will to get gobbled up in this mass of confussion and corpurption. Where so you think they run and hide? but along with them goes the invasion of a political agenda. It’s sad for there is no where that
      won’t be effected by this.
      However, I do feel you are incorrect on one thing. One person can make a difference. It starts with the one that is brave enough to let their voice be heard and soon the people join that voice to make a larger voice until that voice is a group and screaming to be heard.
      your that one...Annie123 is that one...MC is that one...I am that one but together as we voice our thoughts they become stronger. We all might feel slightly different on certain topics and that is to be respected but the bottom line is we are yelling for change. our voice can unite many by us simply speaking our minds giving power to the others that they to can speak thier minds.
      I do think the constitution even though the basic principles still hold true but it should either stand for as it is or be modified to fit the todays world. But, who could do that without selfserving first?
      I think the message everyone needs to hear and be reminding of is “WE” are the people “WE” are America and the powers that be really in truth work for us...Their people...Americas people.
      It’s almost so flustrating at times you say why bother what can my vote do? Well what it does is give me the right to voice my opinion. Right or wrong, democrate or republican, independant, if we stand up to be counted by voteing then it gives me the right to write this, speak about what I believe.
      If I know that you didn’t vote then you have “NO RIGHTS” to voice your thoughts. voting is our first step. thank you



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • I didn’t say that it didn’t take an individual to speak out first, I said it has to be more than one. That takes, yes, the first, but then we must build into a large group. One can’t do it alone.  

      Problem now is, there are too many groups that are all squabbling against the other. So yes, we have to shout louder and louder until we are the loudest! We have spirit and science on our side. :) This little group of followers here at Fab 40 is great. It’s not limited to one neighborhood. That is exactly why I continue to pour my soul onto a page, both here and in my books and articles. I like talking to you and other like minds. I feel the momentum building. Then, I turn around and donate from my book sales to the animals and NRDC. Personal income, I feel a need to support my local animal shelters.
      I’d go on for hours, but for now, I’d like some more voices to join us. If we garner listening ears and more voices, I’ll write a column every week! Help me!  

      Montana is worth saving! All of our Earth is worth saving. It is one Planet. That’s what we were given the gift for, imo. To nurture and learn how to work together in the Big Scheme of things. All the other life forms do it. Have WE, collectively, convinced we are so superior that we are above it? The Divine Scheme?  

      Whatcha think, Annie? Suzanne? Oh, and Yana, I invite you to join us too. I know you believe it. :) Tell us what you think on this topic. It really is political. Dangerously so.
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • PS - You‘re right, Crisastbury, VOTING is imperative. I’ve also written several columns on the responsibility that goes with that ‘right‘. One is to actively pursue your LOCAL elections, primaries and ammendments.

      We have an ammendment on the upcoming primary ballot that is about land aqusition by the county. I’ll be first in line when the polls open! Usually, I work the elections as a poll worker. This time, I didn’t get chosen. You know why?
      Because it’s supposed to be a ‘low turn out’ election. It will be, too. Right there, is where the root to the chaos in Washington is planted. Sad.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheekymonkey wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • worriedas I said in my message to you susan, I was misunderstood and I am sorry. I hope you got my message.
      ladies thank you and have a good evening.heart
      P.S. I love Montana I still have alot of property there and family. estatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • Oh...I believe the voting turnout will be high..to match those high passions....in fact...I see it as being monumental...huge!!  

      Americans are going to take back this country from the nuts who are trying to RUN IT and RUIN IT!!!  And I’m going to join those Americans to take it back!!happy



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 19, 2010
    • Annie and Mary - I think you are both right about the November election. Turnout will be way above normal. I was referring to our primary next Tuesday. Primaries are the ones people tend not to bother with. Especially here in Florida. People don’t want to go out when it’s so hot. It’s mostly elderly folks.  

      We will have a high turnout for November because we have a three way race here. The standard two parties and Governor Crist who refused to sell out to either and is running as an Independent. Crist is well liked here. I think he’ll pull it out as a Independent. It’s the party loyalties and campaign financing that has taken our country. There are a lot of good people out there, IF they even can make the ballot. Here, it takes a lot of money just to get a name on the ballot and pay the fees to run. That isn’t right. Big money is the problem in this country. That can be proven. Party is becoming more and more irrelevant. All peas in a pod. You’ll possibly disagree with that, but time will tell. History will repeat itself. Always does.  

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Aug 20, 2010
    • Thanks, Annie! Good to hear you say that. I’m a registered Independent and have been for years. But yes, they’ve had a hard time grabbing their share of interest. Money again, I’d bet.

      I’ve always like Governor Crist. He was a Republican but his own party turned against him because he wasn’t radical right enough for them. He had class and the citizens of Florida came first. He wasn’t in favor of either extremes, so he went Independent and I can’t wait to vote for him as a US Senator.  

      He certainly won’t be an obstructionist. He’ll vote based on value of the legislation over the long term.
      Nowadays, if you do that, you‘re crucified. The wimps in Congress put up with it and go with the flow it takes to be re-elected. Money again. They probably will be, too. Money talks. You and I will pay the price. And our kids and grandkids moreso.
      Time will definitely tell regardless what I rant about. :)
      I’m focusing on the Planet and other life. I know I can do something about that. Politics is much too dirty for me.

      Have a great weekend, friend. You‘re pretty classy yourself!
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Aug 20, 2010
    • I’m agree Annie...to be honest...I’m sick of the two parties...



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Aug 23, 2010
    • Boy - I am sure sorry I missed this column when it went up. I wonder, does anyone know what pulled us out of the great depression? Was it the poeple, or was it the government - political power?

      Great column! I so enjoyed reading the conversation among everyone here. :)



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