Fuuuk U Facebook… Again

Perhaps “Log Out” is a polite way of saying “Fuck You.

Fuck Facebook. And, fuck Facebook for trying—and failing miserably—to be something it’s not—a public forum for free speech.

I recently was sent to Facebook jail for the fourth time over the course of four months—this time for a full week. Sure, I’m bitter about it, but what I’m bitter about is how I have such little say in the matter. How I can’t give anyone feedback on how my comments have been taken out of context and aren’t nearly as horrible as walking into a theatre and yelling, “Fire!”

All for the sake of FB’s “community standards.” Fuck FB’s community standards too.

On the surface, Facebook’s policies regarding hate speech, violence and all those things that are truly horrible make sense, but it’s staff full of overly-sensitized millennials, too-smart-for-its-own-good software/robots makes for one big pollyanna court of law. They should be making judgement calls about bad speech at tennis matches and croquet games rather than general public discussion.

Take for example my comment to Chaznee Zeller—a local-yocal mouth-breather in my hometown who chimed in on my feed. When defending some disagreement about President Trump’s stupidity and arrogance, I shot back with the following: “Well, if you put it that way, I suggest you stop acting like a mouth-breathing MAGA lemming.”

That landed me in Facebook jail for 24-hours.

Then today, I commented on Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s (a.k.a., “Barrasshole”) feed calling him a “corporate-owned whore” for criticizing and lying about President Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill. Fuck “Barrasshole” too.

In this case, I think the Facebook artificial-intelligence (a.i.) robots and their not-ready-for-the-real-world supervisors just got it plain wrong. 

Despite all of Facebook’s intelligence and efforts to be ultra civil and righteous, apparently one can still send a private message to someone else that is life-threatening and none of Facebook’s speech police will detect it while there appears to be no way for the receiver to report it either (none that I’ve discovered thus far).

After a local called me a name in an Facebook discussion group, I returned the favor calling her an equally vulgar name. Not long after, her husband (Charles Miller, a retired Army dude at that) sent me a private message with the following: “Tyree, you got the fucking nerve to call my wife a cunt, I will be asking around and will find you, then you’ll be spending some time in the hospital and not for covid.”

So, go ahead compare the two forms of speech and ask yourself, who should really be in Facebook jail (or a real jail)? And, by the way, I was not flagged or jailed for the back-and-forth of that particular discussion.

My other two comments that got me in trouble were the following:

Context: U.S. Senator John Barrasshole’s Facebook page. In a post where he was boasting about the second-round, lackluster relief package that just came out regarding Coronavirus relief, I simply chimed in with the following: I hope Kamala Harris tracks you down in the Senate and beats your arse—as you deserve.”

My other offense was just like the one above involving Charles Miller’s wife except it wasn’t nearly as vulgar, but must have been reported (is my guess). Again, after being called a name, I simply returned the favor saying: Sandra Kay Burden you are a stupid and ugly American, period.”

Simply put, Facebook is a sandbox where you’re not permitted to get any sand on anyone.

So, go fuck your own face, Facebook.

A Recipe for a Greater America

The Mars rover Perseverance is slowly lowered to
the Martian surface by the onboard sky crane.

You want to talk about making America great (again)? I’ve news for you—it’s already here.

It was on full display this past Thursday in NASA’s Pasadena, California Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) when the Perseverance rover was lowered onto the surface of Mars after a seven-month journey covering over 300 million miles.

No matter how you look at it, the landing of the car-sized Perseverance on the Martian surface was a great event that went without a hitch. And, great events don’t happen without great people running the show.

As I witnessed this event unfold, I started noting how many people of color and how many women were part of this show—starting with Swati Mohan, the mission’s guidance, navigation, and control operations lead. I have no idea what the demographic breakdown of the mission’s team is, but it certainly didn’t resemble anything like those Apollo missions with a room full of Anglos assembled in Houston’s mission control back in the 60s and 70s.

I read recently that NASA as a whole still has a long way to go in terms of diversity, with 72% White and 34% women employees. I’d be surprised if those were the same numbers on the Perseverance mission team.

If we truly witnessed greatness the other day—and I believe we did—then the recipe for greatness was right in front of us in the diversified gathering of individuals who define the Perseverance mission to Mars.

Defining a Friendly Community

Some people around here say Powell is one of the friendliest small towns you’ll ever come across. “Everyone is so friendly,” they’ll say.

Today, as COVID-19 cases creeped up to a new all-time high in our state (Wyoming), I made a trip to our local supermarket for a weekly supply of provisions. Out of a store that probably had close to 100 shoppers in its aisles, myself and maybe five others were wearing masks as recommended by every health department in the country—that makes for five percent who were conscientious enough and felt the need to do our part in helping to prevent any further spread of the pandemic.

My question turned to the others—you know the 95% who weren’t wearing masks and how they reckoned with that moniker of  “one of the friendliest towns” one might ever encounter.

This wasn’t early March when the pandemic was just reaching our shores. This was a time when the virus had not only arrived, but was taking up residence and sipping lemonade in our country’s sparsist communities—with no real deterrent/silver bullet on the horizon.

With that in mind, I found myself wondering how am I still to view this community where a random 95% of them are without mask during the height of a pandemic? Should any outsider continue to consider them “friendly” as they have always been labeled? How can they been seen as friendly when they appear to be people that don’t seem to care about spreading a virus to their fellow citizens? Or, how can they be seen as friendly when all they seem to care about are their Constitutional rights being taken from them in the form of being forced to wear a mask? Or this: how can they appear to be friendly instead of just outright stupid when they don’t take the pandemic seriously, despite what the medical community has been telling them since March?

Surely this random 95% didn’t just happen to forget their masks as they headed for the supermarket on this ordinary day.

No More Ohio State

GLENDALE, AZ – Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes cheer after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As a naive young child growing up in Ohio (Akron), I wasn’t a big Ohio State fan in those early days. When the Buckeyes took down O.J. Simpson and the mighty USC Trojans in the ’69 Rose Bowl, I didn’t really care. However, a few years later my best friend would evolve into a major fan of the Columbus-based university, attributed to his older brother receiving a scholarship for the OSU Track and Field team. So, eventually, I got sucked in—how could I really resist?

In the years that followed, I found myself in good company discovering many of family and extended family were also OSU fans. So, along for the ride I went.

As a high school student, I never had any inclination or dreams of attending Ohio State. I considered Ohio U (in Athens), but ended up attending Arizona State University. While there, a strange thing happened—a tried out for and won a spot on the ASU football cheerleading squad. In payment for hoisting pretty women over my head and tumbling across the gridiron, I had one of the best “seats” at any game I attended, including the 1980 contest against Ohio State in Columbus.

In payment for hoisting pretty women over my head and tumbling across the gridiron, I had one of the best “seats” at any game I attended, including the 1980 contest against Ohio State in Columbus.

It was odd being down on the field at the “Horseshoe,” cheering for the other team. But, I wasn’t phased by it at all. I secured seats for my family and friends at the game, and never once experienced any kind of traitorous feelings for the scarlet and grey. In fact, being on the “other team,” I saw the Ohio State fans in a new light—and it was hardly flattering. Compared to many other road games I attended, the Ohio State fans were by far the most obnoxious, and some of them downright ugly.

Not long after graduating from ASU, I still kept track of the Buckeyes and as long as they weren’t playing ASU (see 1996 Rose Bowl), I still considered myself a fan—even attending their ill-fated game against USC in the 1985 Rose Bowl.

After tonight’s heart-breaking loss to Clemson (making them 0-4 against the Tigers), I decided I had enough of Ohio State. But, I wanted some facts to back-up my emotions in disowning them. So, here’s what I found regarding their not-so-illustrious post-season record. In 49 post-season bowl games starting with the 1969 Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes have a record of 19-30 (.388); mind you, not all of them being major bowl games. But of those 49 games, 18 were played either in the Rose Bowl (as Big 10 Champs taking on the Pac 10 Champs) or as a National title game. In those 18 games, Ohio State was 8-10 (.444). Hardly an impressive record when it comes to the post-season stage.

A Saturday night in “C-bus” at “The Shoe.”

Tonight I spent $37 on food and drink to watch a typical post-season Ohio State team lose in a fashion that only Ohio State seems to be capable of pulling off. I’ve seen this story play out way too many times in my short life, and with most of it behind me now, I’m walking away from Ohio State. I’ll never go out of my way to watch them play again as I did tonight—especially if it is a major post-season bowl game against a Southern university.

There is some victory/salvation in all of this. Given my “fan” status over the years, I really have no Ohio State swag that I need to unload (or burn as in the case of the jilted fan).

It’s true that during the regular season, it takes any visiting team a monumental effort to defeat the Buckeyes in C-bus, but in the big games come the post-season, at best they are predictably mediocre.

Postscript: When will one of the strong Southern Universities like Alabama, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Auburn ever venture north of the Mason-Dixon for a November or December contest with the likes of a respectable Minnesota or Iowa team? That never happens. As my brother put it, “They never will as there is nothing to gain and everything to lose.”

Sixty & Way Beyond

My father at boot camp.

I don’t remember many of my birthdays. There was a neighborhood party when I was five. When I was 21, my big brother and I hit a couple bars that were open on a dull Sunday evening in Akron, Ohio. When I turned the odometer over at 40, I had just arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, but there were few people I knew, and those I did, not very well, so I didn’t tell anyone.

On the eve of my 60th birthday recently, I ran a little over two miles at the local track—running one lap in all eight lanes continuously. I’m unsure if I ever ran farther in the span of my 59th year. If I did, it wasn’t often and it couldn’t have been much farther.

I thought about my father during that run. Could he have run two miles when he was at the same point in his life in 1985? Probably not, but unlike me, I never knew of him to do any kind of long distance running—even when he was much younger and I was only a child. Regardless, he would have destroyed me in the bench press.

Thinking back a year from this time as I was turning 59, I remember being concerned that my partner Marsha and other friends might throw a big party for this 60th milestone. As it turns out, that worry was all for nothing thanks to the new norm of social distancing compliments of COVID-19.

I have wondered if I’ll be one of those looking back on the pandemic and thinking about those who were lost to it, or will I be one of the casualties. It’s odd how clinical I can think about this even as it could be residing just outside my window.

Getting back to my father in 1985, I think about what he was doing as a 60-year old. He was still working at Goodyear as a pipe fitter. And, much like me, he was starting to see his retirement on the horizon. And when he was 60, I was going back to school for my graduate work at Northern Arizona University—I was 25 then.

Further down the family line, my paternal grandfather, Emory Hansford Tyree was 60 years old in 1960, the year I was born—also working for Goodyear as a tire-building supervisor.

Another grim thought came to me recently regarding this milestone. If I live to be 100, I’ve exhausted 60% of my life and the remaining 40% should be anything but a joy ride. I reckon if I’m lucky, I have another 20 years of decent quality living. Past 80, surely I’ll be on borrowed time. Should I check out tomorrow, I can’t complain as I look back on the big picture of my life, it feels pretty complete.

Sixty-years-old is one of life’s fencelines. I see it as the official threshold between the middle-age years and the senior years. Although a bit grim as I consider my status, there is a small amount of consolation in that I’m a young and spry old man rather than a washed-up, middle-aged man.

* * *

Along with the pandemic of COVID-19 that is currently upon us, another unexpected, but delightful event has emerged during this milestone in my life… only a few months ago (late March) a comet was discovered making its approach toward the Sun and here in July of 2020, it is close enough and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye as it makes its way around the sun and back out to the periphery of the solar system. The comet has been named NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) after the orbit-based telescope (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Space Explorer) that detected it.

As I understand, the comet’s last pass by Earth was about 4,500 years ago. That would have been about 2,480 B.C. Recorded history is scarce that far back and what is known has mostly to do with Egypt and its “Golden Age.” This would have been around the time when the famed “Seated Scribe” was created. The Temple of Khafra had just been completed too—along with the second largest pyramid at Giza. What a great time for something as mysterious as a comet to show up in the heavens above.

In North America, little history is known while exact dates are only imagined. But it’s worth noting that in NEOWISE’s previous appearance, the Independence I people from North America had just arrived in Greenland, while the Aleutian tradition was emerging in Alaska along with Arctic Small Tool tradition around Bristol Bay.

From here, I went down another historical rabbit hole. If the great dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period were roaming the Earth some 145 million years ago, NEOWISE has probably made some 20,000 round trips in the solar system since that time—assuming its existence back then.

As a result of the comet’s close approach to the sun in this latest visit, its orbital period has increased another 2,300 years meaning that the next time NEOWISE shows itself near Earth, it will be around the year 8820. As it approaches the Sun, NEOWISE rises above the orbit plane of the planets, but not long after as it makes its way back into the outer solar system, it dips below the orbit plane at an angle of about 30-degrees.

As NEOWISE makes its way back to the darkest reaches of our solar system and beyond, moving at a speed of 144K miles per hour (or 40 miles per second), it will have passed a distance that matches Jupiter’s orbit by this time next year, and about a year later it will have passed a distance that equals the orbit of Saturn. In June of 2025 NEOWISE will be as far away as Uranus, and in a few months before my 70th birthday, it will have reached a distance that equals Neptune’s orbit. By the time my 80th birthday has arrived, NEOWISE will be some 40.4 astronomical units* (au) from Earth—as far away as the Kuiper Belt where Pluto resides. And should I live to see a century, NEOWISE will still be traveling away from Earth at a distance of 63.998 au—toward its origins in the Oort Cloud before it starts making its way back for that 8820 rendezvous with Earth.

By 8820—who knows—maybe short trips to see the comet up close will be possible or our descendants will have bridled the celestial traveler and placed it in a permanent orbit around Earth to be viewed indefinitely like the moon.

* * *

Two days following my birthday, I planned a solo overnight trip to the light-depleted expanse of Polecat Bench—only eight miles from my home town. I arrived well before sunset waiting for the comet to appear. I laughed so loud when I finally saw it as if someone had let me in on their joke. I even danced a little as it was pure joy.

Turning 60, may have been my best birthday ever.

*One astronomical unit represents the distance from the center of Earth to the center of the Sun—approximately 93 million miles. NEOWISE’s location on any given day, HERE.

The Law Enforcement Problem

A welcomed or regrettable visitor?

I’m not one to generalize about different groups of people—whether by race, religion, profession, or residence. But if I were required to make a broad statement about law enforcement, it would not be positive.

It’s said that there are many good police officers out there. But even in the community of “good-guy” law enforcement personnel, officers must now be  asking themselves what can be done to correct the downward trajectory of their profession in the eyes of the citizens they serve. It was bad enough that one of their own was recorded killing George Floyd, a Black man, in broad daylight with cameras rolling—bringing a new and focused attention to other recent and past police killings in dozens of other cities throughout the U.S. But now video after video is also surfacing showing law enforcement’s heavy-handed tactics against protesters, non-protesters and the press in almost every major city of the country. If there is such a thing as a “good cop,” where are they now in these carte blanche melees that play out in their presence?

The argument that a few bad apples out there are ruining it for many fine officers surely has some validity. Yet, in an age when everyone carries a recording device wherever they go, and anyone can share anything they record with the entire world (on social media via the internet), those “bad apples” have a way of rising to the top far too often. And, just imagine if such recording devices were in the hands of the public in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s (or much earlier). What would we have witnessed back then?

In my critique of the law enforcement community, one thing stands out. The tightly knit fraternity of the profession resembles a brotherhood of those who fought side-by-side in military battles throughout history. The solidarity is understandable, but as we watch the countless videos of police brutality, one thing is noticeably missing. Nowhere are the “other officers” attempting to intervene, stopping their fellow officer from taking things too far. Wouldn’t that kind of action make for a “good cop?” However, the law enforcement officers in the vicinity of these violations only seem to make sure that the bystanders watching in shock don’t interrupt the beatdown. Given such procedures, there appears to be some unwritten vow, some informal bond to fellow officers that supersedes whatever oath was taken to “serve and protect” the public. My question is, can a “good cop” truly exist in such a fraternity that behaves like a judge, jury and executioner on our streets?

I’d like to believe that our Black brothers and sisters walk a little more confidently, and with less fear today then they did back in… oh let’s just say the 1950s. However, as these racially charged crimes at the hands of our law enforcement officers unfold, I’m far from convinced that they feel any safer.

I don’t know the specifics for solving the “law-enforcement problem” in our country, but whatever we do, it can’t be subtle and/or superficial. I’ve heard some ideas that certainly qualify as worthy candidates for law enforcement reformation—starting with the outlawing of any kind of choke holds, especially on a suspect who is already restrained with handcuffs. That certainly is not outlandish. Community review boards that preside over law enforcement cases should reflect a community’s demographics. Stopping and questioning a person because they match some generic description of someone they are looking for is lame, overly used, and a deceitful tactic at best.

In short, a major overhaul is required when it comes to American law enforcement—a reformation of recruiting, training, leadership, and perhaps an entire philosophy. In light of George Floyd’s “death-by-cop” and so many others who suffered the same fate before him, the idea of “serving and protecting” our Black communities is just another vapid and broken treaty in American history.

Pandemic Pondering

COVID-19 poster child.

It’s here. It’s in the country’s least populated state. That also means it’s everywhere else, and there’s nowhere to hide! The official word went out to the campus community via email during Spring Break that all face-to-face classes will be replaced with remote/on-line instruction “wherever possible for as long as needed.” So, like it or not, Northwest College is officially an on-line institution of higher education. I suspect every school across the country will be the same by week’s end.

With schools closing or moving to “on-line” delivery systems, we educators have another opportunity presented to us—becoming “YouTube talent” and adding to the glut of “self-titled experts.”

I know it all feels a bit over-reactionary, but the mortality rates attributed to COVID-19 are piling up and that’s difficult to dismiss. I’m certainly going to heed the words of the medical profession over anything that spills out of Trump’s lying face or the lineup of stooges on Fox News.

Lately I’ve been wondering which flu/virus would win in a smack-down—say between today’s COVID-19 and 1968’s Hong Kong Flu. The Hong Kong Flu of 1968 left its mark of mortality on the globe (one million perished) yet, I don’t recall the country coming to the stand-still that it is today. Is the Corona Virus that much worse, or is all of this just the result of better and more specific science supported by better and more immediate communications—thus resulting in our heightened sensitivity to all things pandemic?  

As long as I’m here, is there such a thing as a generic flu anymore? They all seem to have names, especially the new ones that take the stage every year. They rise up like featured Pantone Colors of the Year.

At this point in time, one has to wonder what will it be like next year or the year after when another version of the flu or another virus strain rolls around. Might our cycles of life become permanently altered given the annual flu season that arrives every late winter? Might schools in the near future only have one semester of face-to-face classes while the spring semester moves to a flu-free, on-line format?

“You are at your very best when things are at their worst.”

—Jeff Bridges in “Starman”

A person from Billings (reportedly) walked into Powell’s local market, Blairs, and purchased all the toilet paper in the store. The owner/manager in the store was apparently happy to sell it to her despite leaving the local and regular customers wanting while perched on their porcelain thrones. Thanks Blairs, you capitalist fucks. Where is your commitment to community in that deal? I’ll be second-guessing myself in the future when planning a trip to Blair’s. 

What would the America of World War II—uncertain of a war’s outcome and forced to live with rationed goods and supplies—think of the self-serving-hoarders of 2020 threatened by a seasonal virus? I thought America was a little better when it came to looking after our fellow citizens.

For now, I look forward to that breaking story—because you know it will be reported—of a toilet-paper-hoarder found dead in their home from Corona Virus surrounded by 400-plus rolls of toilet paper.

Here’s a sharp and well-written related piece.

Taking a pass on a school packing heat

You know he carried a gun to school too.

I knew the day would come. I’d been dreading it ever since I read about it in the newspaper.

Back in 2018, the Cody, Wyoming School District passed a resolution allowing teachers and staff to possess firearms on school property—as a method of deterring potential mass shootings within the school district. I remember saying to myself back then, I’ll never set foot in their buildings if that’s the case.

I’ve never worked or wanted to work in an environment where employees are permitted to carry weapons. If my employer, Northwest College, were to adopt a similar policy as the Cody School District, my resignation would follow close behind the passing of such law, and without doubt many would rejoice. 

Some might say that I’ve already been in situations where someone was carrying a weapon and I didn’t know it. That’s an ugly truth I try not to think about, but if I see someone with a weapon or know they have a weapon—whether concealed or open carry—I clear out. If I’m in a supermarket with a trolly full of groceries and see someone carrying a weapon in the same location, I’m gone—leaving the cart and vacating the premises.

And, yes, I’m aware that I could be shot dead on the gun-free campus of Northwest College by a bad guy (or good guy) carrying a gun. Despite that, sooner or later we all find ourselves in a situations where we’ve reached a boundary that we’re not willing to cross over.

One could say that carrying a gun is a freedom, but isn’t it also a freedom in a person choosing to avoid—what they consider to be—a potentially dangerous situation?

Recently, an email went out to various faculty on campus asking for participation in the Cody Job Fair at the high school. I ignored it, hoping a  sufficient number of faculty would volunteer. However, my supervisor received a call asking if there were any from our area that would be interested in going. As a result, I was approached and ask if I could attend.

Perhaps I could have fabricated some innocuous excuse for not going, but I felt it was important to be honest in declining the offer to go. I’m unsure if my supervisor shared my explanation with anyone higher in the chain of command. It doesn’t really matter. I’m just thankful to have a job that allows me to decline off-campus events where fellow educators are packing heat. 

Thinking back on it now, I suppose I would have attended if one of my superiors ordered me to do so, but if that were the case, drafting a resignation letter probably would have followed—assuming I didn’t get hit by a stray bullet accidentally discharged from the gun of a poorly-trained staffer at the job fair.

There’s not much significance in my stand here. It’s certainly nowhere in the league of a Rosa Parks or Tiananmen Square moment, but it certainly was an opportunity to abide by my principles. And, in knowing that I spoke my conscience gives me a bit more confidence that I will do the same in the future—regardless of the stakes.

More reading on this…

Medical Minutiae, Ch.1

duplicate medical forms sent on the same day
Four duplicates of the same correspondence from eviCore Healthcare.

At a healthy 59-years-old, I’m not an expert on all things medical yet, but I think my education on this subject is going to be coming faster than I ever dreamed. And, a good part of that education will likely have to do with the exceptional waste and overpricing that we hear about on this subject, on any given news day.

Recently, I received four identical envelopes in the mail on the same day, and in opening them, wondered if the content was the same as well. “Nah, couldn’t be,” I thought to myself. “Surely there’s a different correspondence in each of the alike envelopes,” yet I couldn’t imagine what they were.

Anyway, whoever these people are at eviCore Healthcare, located in Franklin, Tennessee, they did manage to send me four identical letters with the same message about an upcoming MRI. The only contrast I could find in these four correspondences was that two of the letters had a time stamp of 9:54 a.m while the other two were stamped at 9:54, but all four were dated February 11. Go figure.

I’d like to think that this little anecdotal account isn’t representative of a glaring incompetency in the medical/insurance profession, but one has to wonder. I can almost understand getting two identical letters in this case, but four is something that makes you pause—and write a blog entry about.