Welcome, again!

Welcome to the new Bluebonnet Equinox! After neglecting this blog shamefully for three years … ouch! … I’m relaunching it with a new design and a new commitment to keep it going.

I hope you’ll register so you can get notified when I post. And, I hope you’ll comment on anything that strikes you!

By the way, in case you’re wondering about the site name—it’s kind of a long story, but the phrase, which I came up with years ago, was influenced by my 14 years living in central Texas. The wildflowers blooming in spring there, especially the bluebonnets, were an amazing and joy-bringing sight. People would often bring their families out in Easter finery to take pictures among the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush and little pink and yellow flowers whose names I don’t know.

Equinox joined the title just because I liked the way it sounded with the word bluebonnet. I sometimes write that way, especially when writing poetry. I have emotional reactions to certain words and groups of words. Equinox is also a cool word because it has science-y aspects and ancient religion-y aspects. See what a wordsmith I am!

Right now I’m serving as editor of the 2016 Dwarf Stars anthology, a product of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. The anthology is  both a showcase of short-form speculative poetry and a voting tool for the SFPA members to choose the best speculative poetry under 10 lines from 2016. The selection process is very hard work, but wonderful, wonderful!

Check out the SFPA website sometime and learn a little about speculative poetry. You might be surprised.

Why is everyone surprised about the NFL?

I’ve been paying pretty close attention to the NFL controversy over the past few weeks—I guess since the “first” video of Ray Rice abusing his then-fiancée was released. In that video, what we see is the aftermath Rice-Screen-Shot of him cold-cocking her in an elevator. He is dragging her completely boneless and inert body along the floor to get it out of the elevator, pulling her limbs into awkward positions that would likely be painful if she weren’t unconscious. I was horrified by the video and will never understood why so many people apparently had to see the “second” version—in which we actually see his fist connect with her face, dropping her like a stone to the floor—in order to be properly upset by the whole thing.

I guess I should be glad that people are getting upset, even if it’s belatedly. I’ve actually been bothered by several previous NFL “controversies,” most notably the Michael Vick dog abuse case, for a good while now. It really nagged at me that Vick was allowed to rejoin the NFL and keep playing, albeit after he did spend some time in jail. I believe he paid some fines and had to speak to kids about why it was a bad thing to electrocute dogs with rods inserted in their anuses, because the dogs wouldn’t properly tear one another apart in a fighting ring, or because they were worn-out from such fighting.

Well thank the good gods for small favors.

I believe it is wrong and contemptible to abuse and/or murder dogs, cats, women, men, children, convicted felons and all living beings. Before anyone asks, no, I am not a vegan. I do eat meat on occasion, and I wear leather. And that troubles me. I wish the world were perfect, and we could survive eating only what animals died of natural causes, or that at least all farm animals could live in free-range situations and be killed for their meat in as humane and painless a way as possible.

But we do not live in that world. I just do what I can to make things better in small ways. I have rescued and fostered both cats and dogs, mostly cats, for many years. I contribute to several animal charities, including the Humane Society of the United States, which works toward the reduction and eventual elimination of cruel factory farming and other inhumane practices. I also speak out against the death penalty and contribute to Amnesty International.

In the past I have not actually contributed much in the way of money or time to organizations dedicated to preventing domestic violence and helping its victims. I do give to our local United Way, which does support some local agencies that do these things. And I’ve spoken out at times about the wrongness of spousal abuse, of hitting the ones you profess to love. But not really very often.

I think, now, that it’s time for me and people like me to give this some serious thought. I’ve often thought, in the past, that I was more involved with animal rights because animals can’t speak for themselves. In fact, one of the marketing slogans for the ASPCA is “We are their voice.” But it seems that the voices of abused women (and please don’t start with me about how some men are abused by their wives; I’m sure it’s true, but let’s all be adults here and realize that the vast majority of people being punched in the face and knocked unconscious by their spouses are women being hit by men) need some help being heard. I know that Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, hasn’t heard them loudly enough yet.

[As an aside, did you, Gentle Reader, by chance actually watch that insane press conference on Sept. 19? Or read some of what Goodell spewed and sputtered out? In case you missed it, here’s a choice gem:

NI am wearing a black suit, and black suits are serious. I had a committee pick the suit, and I will have a committee look into domestic violence, because domestic violence is a problem we need to address, and it’s a problem in the NFL and throughout society and also in other countries, but I take full responsibility for my mistake, and, really, there may even be domestic violence on other planets, because I mean, ya never know…

Ya never know.]

So I think it’s time for all good men, and women, to raise our voices quite a big louder and make sure men-of-quality-women-rightsGoodell—and the offenders of the NFL and other sports and those abusers in homes all over our country and the world—hear the outcry. Domestic violence has got to stop. We must work together to stop it.

Now.

Whatever it takes.

 

Sunday Morning News

One of the topics I planned to tackle with this blog is the news media. I became interested in news and journalism in high school and knew before I graduated that I was going to major in journalism in college. Unlike many of my freshman-year friends, I never changed my major, with one exception: I did change my “concentration” from news reporting to public relations. And I concede that was a HUGE change.

Fox_news_sundayBut at that time at the University of Texas at Austin, where I got my Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1991, the journalism degree with PR concentration still contained a large news focus. I’m glad for that. I think I can work with reporters because I trained for several years in their field. And I’ve remained interested in the media ever since, following journalism review publications and shows like Reliable Sources on CNN.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend, each week, is to get up early Sunday and watch a series of morning news roundup and talk shows. I usually start with Good Morning America on ABC, then switch to Fox News Sunday, then back to ABC for This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I may also watch Meet the Press, Face the Nation or the CBS Sunday Morning show, depending on topics.

Dick Cheney, 2004
Dick Cheney, 2004

This morning’s guest on Fox News Sunday was Dick Cheney, who served both Presidents Bush in various capacities. He was secretary of defense for the first President Bush and vice president under Bush 43. I actually heard Cheney speak live at a convention held in Houston by my then-employer when he was secretary of defense. I think it’s fair to say the man makes my skin crawl. To be totally honest, I’m a pretty liberal Democrat, and he’s obviously a pretty conservative Republican, and we aren’t going to see eye to eye on a lot of things.

But with that said, I thought it was very irresponsible of him to spend his time on Fox News Sunday talking about how the current president is “dead wrong” on numerous policy issues–dragged along, unfortunately, by Chris Wallace’s extremely leading questions. I can’t stand interviewers who go on like, “Let’s talk now about the terrible scandal about the IRS. Isn’t it true that the Administration has handled this just terribly? I’d like your opinion on how terrible this is.” I mean, what’s the interviewee going to say?

I usually watch this diverse mix of morning shows on Sundays because I think it’s good for any and all Americans to listen to a variety of opinions. That’s what the very First Amendment to our Constitution is all about. But I think Wallace does a disservice to his viewers when he leads his guests along to say what he wants people to hear. And for Cheney to happily go along with it, when he has not been in “power” for more than four years and really has no insider information any longer, just compounds the problem.

 

My heart goes out to West

I know that everyone says, after a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing or the horrible explosion in West, Texas, that his or her “heart goes out” to the victims and survivors. But I honestly find my heart pounding with sorrow for the folks in West. I feel a stronger connection to them than I do to the people of Boston, just because I’ve been to or through West many times, whereas I have never been to Boston and I don’t know much about it.

The town of West has a large Czech population, and as I posted earlier in the week on my Facebook page, I was very happy to see that the Czech Stop had survived the explosion. I’ve stopped there many times on my way from Austin to Dallas. the Czech Stop is right on IH-35 about halfway between those two cities, and it’s a perfect place to stop and stretch one’s legs, get gas, use the AMAZINGLY CLEAN restrooms, and … buy some kolaches.

Oh, those kolaches! I don’t think I eat kolaches on any other occasion. I don’t think about kolaches on a regular basis, but when I used to drive north toward Dallas, as I got closer to West, I would start to see those billboards–“We gotcha kolache!”–and my mouth would start to water. What flavor of kolache to choose? I couldn’t pick just one, but of course, I couldn’t have every flavor … could I?

I mean, I had to restore my strength for driving, which would take at least two. Maybe a blueberry filled and a plain cream cheese. Then I might want to have a little late-night snack at the hotel tonight, or at whatever house I was staying. There was breakfast tomorrow morning, which might call for a savory kolache. Oh, the possibilities. And don’t forget to eat them all before they start to lose their pillowy softness.

Those kolaches and the AMAZINGLY CLEAN restrooms will always symbolize West, Texas, to me. The people have a great sweetness and an open-handed hospitality. I’m so very glad that the Czech Stop survived this disaster, and I really and truly feel sad for those in West who did not.

 

Just getting started

Well, I’ve decided to redo hieran.com as a WordPress site, centered around a blog. The idea is that someone or someones out there will actually be interested in things I have to say. Ha!

Why “Bluebonnet Equinox”? I’m not completely sure. I just came up with the phrase at some point a few years ago. The main reason for it is that I absolutely love the wildflowers that bloom along the highways in central and eastern Texas at this time of the year. Most of them are bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, which make such a beautiful color combination. I miss seeing them, and I often try to make my occasional visits to Texas happen during the spring so I can get a glimpse.

This year, it looks like my vay-cay will be going to MediaWest Con in Lansing, Michigan, over Memorial Day Weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing my buddies Amy, Carol, Lynda and Anne, and we’re hoping Kris will make it, too.

That’s it for now. I’m planning to bring in some old blog posts here to fill up the space, and I’m still playing with the layout and widgets and all that stuff WordPress offers. If you have a comment, please do leave it below. I want to know whether anyone is reading!