You can’t date the Taj Mahal—and Other Romantic Horror Stories

Why Gypsy Rock?

Why gypsy rock? Well… because it’s there…

Meria/Haunted Gypsy is a traveling band. I wander until I find a gmask1s-croppedplace I can either call home or at least find kindred spirits for my time spent there. The reality is, my hometown has rendered me homeless. Like every gypsy spirit, I am searching for a place that will stop me from wandering.

Recently, the prayers of the gypsy were answered in the form of an Infringement Festival in Montreal. So… a few of us traveled to Montreal, a city named after a hill–Mont Royal.

 photo by Cappixx
photo by Cappixx


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Considering the Entrepreneurial Spirit (Pt. 2)–Finding the Right Business Idea

Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It involves finding a product or service you can provide that potential customers want or need. (Some people think they can convince potential customers to want their product or service. I disagree. That strategy may appear to work at first, but most customers will feel conned and coerced. My experience is that people don’t like that. They want their needs—not yours—to come first.)

It may not be necessary, but it’s a good idea to find your passion before starting a business. Why? On the surface, it appears that shouldn’t matter, that one could work hard and succeed in any business. That may be true for some people. But most people aren’t going to put in the time, effort and work into something we dislike or are neutral about. When we’re passionate, we’ll naturally work at it, even when we don’t have time, are too tired, hungry, depressed, or sick with the flu (okay not a good idea, but some of us will continuing working ‘cause we like what we’re doing so much.)

No question about it, when we love what we do, we’ll do it because it cheers us up when we’re sad, strengthens us when we’re ill, energizes us when we’re tired.

In a way, it’s like dieting. (Yes, life can be a lot like dieting. In fact, dieting is a big part of my life!) When we tell ourselves we can’t eat the foods we love and we have to make ourselves work hard at the gym, we might succeed temporarily. Our diet-workout plan might last a few days, weeks or even months before we slip back into old, comfortable and more satisfying habits.

But if we find healthy, low-calorie foods that we actually enjoy and an exercise routine that’s fun, we’re more likely to stick with it, right? Slimming down takes time, so we need a diet and exercise routine that will stand the test of that time. We may need to stick with that routine for a lifetime.

Similarly, starting a business takes time and discipline. Think about something you love to do that you could do all day long—even if no one paid you to do it. Something you’re passionate about. Something you can’t stop thinking and talking about. Does this something also interest other people? Who are those people who share your interests? Those are people who will benefit when you do what you love and share it with them because they love the same thing. When people benefit from what you are doing, they will want to help you succeed because your success will benefit them too.

Also when you’re passionate about something, you’ll naturally want to sell it to others. People are drawn to passionate, enthusiastic people too, so other people will come to you and you won’t have to work so hard at attracting them to you. (This is usually a good thing…) Often they envy your passion and will want to be a part of it.

When you love what you do, you’re likely to get good at it. Without even realizing it, you’ll spend a lot of time reading about it, learning as much as you can, practicing, rehearsing, seeking out experts who’ll often assist you with information because they share your passion too. Before you know it, you’ll become an expert and probably won’t even realize that’s what you’ve become. People will be impressed by your knowledge and enthusiasm and will start coming to you with questions, and you’ll help them without expecting anything in return. Your expertise becomes a gift to other people, and people love gifts. We have a tendency to want to reciprocate when others give to us. So you won’t need to work so hard at being a good salesperson or finding customers.

The tricky part is finding a way to transform your passion into something people will pay money for, a business. This can take some soul searching as well as trial and error. What is it that involves that thing you love to do that other people will pay money for?

If you’re a musician, for example, you can teach lessons. A musician could entertain guests at a wedding or other event. A musical messaging service might be an option. One could buy, sell or repair musical instruments. But there are other possibilities too. And that is the hard part: we need to put ourselves in the walking shoes of other people and ask ourselves when, why and where would other people pay us money to do what we love?

Whatever business idea we choose, we need to consider the customer. What does he/she want or need? This is not the same message you’ll receive from some sales people who’ll insist that other people need to be convinced to want or need something. I’m suggesting we discover what potential customers truly want or need, regardless of what we think they should want or need. Most people don’t like being told what to do, convinced or coerced into anything. Frankly, we could order someone to do something she doesn’t want to do and she might purposely do something she doesn’t want to do just to spite us! Some people dislike being told what to do that much!

So considering the customers is important. Who are they? What do they want? What do they really need that I can provide them? What can I do really, really well that customers need?

If you notice that your piano students want to learn their favorite pop songs then no matter how much you prefer Beethoven or Bach, you’ll need to teach them what they want to learn if you want to keep them paying you money. (If you don’t need money, then, I suppose, that may be a different story.) Catering to the customer can be the hardest part of entrepreneurship and the reason why some people decide not to become entrepreneurs.

But if you keep your eyes open, keep looking around for ideas, you’re bound to discover a healthy way to channel your talents into a small business of some kind—one that offers customers what they are looking for without forcing you to sacrifice your integrity.

Why I’m Voting for Jill Stein…

(I’ll edit this later. Because it’s so close to election day, I’m posting this even though it needs some editing… Let’s hope I have time to clean it up before the big day… )

Voting for Jill Stein… Am I voting for Jill Stein?

Wait… What?! Whoa! A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump! You’re voting for Donald Trump! How could you—a known radical—vote for Trump?!

Uh no. I’m not voting for Trump. Actually, a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for…

Okay, everyone hold your breath because the punch line is coming soon—in about 3 seconds. Drum roll, please…:

Jill Stein! Yes, a vote for Jill Stein is actually a vote for Jill Stein! That may seem like common sense, but in this Orwellian double-speak universe we currently live in, apparently, it is rocket science. These days, up is down, bad is good, black is beautiful, white is privilege, millennials are struggling while the rest of us have it good, and rich people know better than we do what is best for the rest of us.

So… we’re supposed to vote for Hillary (bad) except that that bad will also be good because Trump (also bad) won’t get elected if we all obey orders (good)… Uh, what I mean is, if we all do what the Democrats (and many Republicans) want us to do and vote for Hillary. Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense to me. Does it make sense to you?

Here are some more reasons why I’m voting for Jill, and, if you’re seeking real change in our country, I hope you will too.



— I’m against terrorism. I don’t appreciate being bullied, intimidated and threatened into voting against my own best interests. In fact, I thought it was against the law to bully someone into voting a certain way. Terrorists use fear (terror) to get people to give them what they want. And that’s exactly what the Democrats are doing right now. Give us Hillary or we’ll sick Donald Trump on you!

No. No. No. I will not be bullied, intimidated or threatened into voting for someone I don’t agree with. We’ve lost a lot of civil liberties since George W. Bush and now Obama have taken office. Have we also lost our right to vote for whomever we want?

–Voting for the “lesser evil” doesn’t work. I’ve been there. Done that. Obama was the lesser of two evils when he ran for office, so I voted for him. I wanted to vote for a Green Party candidate then too. As a writer, I was well aware that “hope” and “change” were just a part of Obama’s rhetoric, but I voted for him anyway, and I hoped for some sort of change.  Did he create change? No, of course not. He needs to please his wealthy constituents. Obamacare was a nice bailout for the insurance companies. Those of us who went to college continue to languish in student loan debt. Some sources tell us that half of Americans live in poverty and the media continues to tell us that the economy is getting better.

To my horror (but not to my surprise) Obama extended the Patriot Act (which soon will become a permanent law), and allowed other undemocratic legislation on top of it, including the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). He’s now advocating for the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership Act), and he hasn’t, to my knowledge, shut down the torture prisons nor am I aware of his having denounced torture. Torture is worse than slavery. It is the effort to control a person’s mind and spirit as well as their body. Torture is pure evil. And anyone who advocates torture, no matter how pretty their smile or how eloquent their rhetoric, is also pure evil, as far as I’m concerned.

–Electing Hillary then putting pressure on her (“holding her feet to the fire”) to get the policies Bernie proposed implemented won’t work.  Like Obama and George W. before her, Hillary will need to keep her wealthy donors happy. If it were possible to get Hillary to implement Bernie’s policies then it would have been possible to get Bernie nominated. Fact is, the Democrats plotted against Bernie’s campaign because they have no intention of implementing any of his policies. Heck, I’m not sure that Bernie even intended to implement those policies. He was quick to drop out of the race then back down on pretty much everything he said to support Hillary. Come on, Bernie, you can fool most of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of us all of the time…

–I won’t be responsible for Donald Trump being appointed US President, and I won’t be responsible for Hillary getting “elected.” But people who vote for Hillary will be responsible for the evil she enacts as president. The TPP, renewal of the Patriot Act, the NDAA, more imprisonment of poor people, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, endless war, suicide becoming a top cause of death by injury in the US. I won’t take responsibility for the many problems resulting from neoliberalism in the US. But those who follow orders from the Democrats and who vote for Hillary will need to take that responsibility.

–Accountability over power no longer exists. At least, not from the point of view of the people. “Vote for Hillary and hold her feet to the fire! Put pressure on her to implement Bernie Sanders’ ideas!” Look, dumbass, if Bernie’s ideas had a chance then he’d have a chance. The fact that he withdrew from the race says it all. No one in power—democrat or republican—is going to implement Bernie’s policies. Those policies don’t benefit the wealthy few, so they will not be implemented. The closest we will get to accomplishing any change will be something like Obamacare (a.k.a., the un-Affordable Care Act.) I think most Americans, even the lesser of two evil advocates, now realize that Obamacare has changed nothing.


We Americans have had the right to purchase health insurance. We don’t need the government to force us to do it. What does forcing people who are already struggling to purchase insurance they can’t afford accomplish? Oh, that’s right. It helps the insurance companies to stay in business. Yes, the insurance companies got the bailout they were seeking. I for one had to go on Medicaid. It took over a month to get accepted—even when I had a serious health issue. Then I discovered that no doctors in my area would take me as a patient because I was on Medicaid!

But I digress.

–Voting (on the federal level) doesn’t matter, in terms of creating change. No matter who is president he or she will need to follow orders issued by the managers of large corporations. Politicians who refuse to do what Big Money/Big Business tells them to do end up with ruined careers or lives. If they can’t be bribed or blackmailed, they can be gerrymandered out of office or imprisoned. Read about Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Don Siegelman for example. We also know that the elections were fixed in many different ways to make sure that George W. Bush would be appointed president. Some people try to claim that a large percentage of Americans voted for Bush anyway and that the fixed election didn’t make much of a difference. That’s wishful thinking, my friend. Many voters, particularly black voters, were disenfranchised. Polling places were relocated, some voters were made to wait in unusually long lines at their polling places, voter registration forms were altered or discarded, electronic voting machines were fixed, etc. Republicans paid actors to pretend to protest the recount to prevent the recount from taking place. Then the electoral college stepped in and placed the final nail in the coffin. George W. Bush would be president and the American people could not stop that from happening. Yet Americans remain as naïve as ever. Perhaps optimism and hope are the greatest enemies of freedom in the USA. We need to face the fact that our votes don’t count. The powers that be decide whom they want “elected” and Americans will be placated into submission as usual. Business as usual.


I’m tired of Limousine Liberal hypocrisy. Yep, I’m talking about wealthy, privileged people, most of whom are white and living in affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods who like to rant about racism. It never ceases to amaze me. From the bay windows of their huge, sprawling mansions they can’t even see black people from a distance, so far removed are they from urban life. “Black lives matter!” they’ll shout from Yuppieville, sipping their lattes and making sure to pay their black janitor the smallest wage they can get away with. Sometimes they’re millionaires who talk about poverty or economic inequality while they complain under their breath that good “help” is hard to find, and they “can’t afford” to pay their housekeepers $15 per hour. Nope, raising the minimum wage isn’t doable for most of them. (Might need to forgo that second trip to Europe this year.)

Some of them claim to be feminists and they’re obsessed with abortion options but they’ve never had the experience of not getting hired because of their gender, or of standing at a bus stop late at night in a dangerous neighborhood because they can’t afford a car, or living with an abusive husband because they can’t afford to move out. Racism, sexism, classism—it’s all politically correct talk that makes them look good to the outside world. “Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m rich,” they seem to be pleading with their bleeding heart liberal pretense. They like pretending to care. Makes them look good. But what really irks me about these hypocrites is their sweeping “white privilege” statements. In one simple phrase, they disenfranchise all of us who are poor or struggling and who happen to be white. In fact, not all poor people are black. Not all victims of police brutality are black. Not everyone who is disenfranchised is black. Yes, I understand that a larger percentage of blacks than whites live in poverty. Disproportionately, blacks are poor and often imprisoned by law enforcement. However, there are, in fact, a lot of people who are poor and who happen to be white too. Why is this important? Well, in terms of social change—if that really is what some of us want—we need to come together. Black, white, male, female, immigrant, native born, millennial or non-millennial—all of us who are struggling under this corrupt system need to come together to speak truth to power. And we can’t do that when we’re divided. Racist statements like “white privilege” put white people who are struggling on the defensive. Because you’re white, your rich may ring true for millionaires like Stephen Colbert or Michael Moore but it doesn’t ring true for the janitor or the construction worker struggling to make ends meet who may very well be driven into the unloving arms of Donald Trump as a result of such propaganda.

—I was a Jill Stein supporter before Bernie ran. For me, the lesser of two evils has dropped out of the race. I’m speaking, of course, of Bernie Sanders. Yep, Bernie was the lesser of two evils for me. Not that Jill Stein is evil, mind you. But electing someone to have power over us is sort of a necessary evil in a sense.

What? What the… How did you know who Jill Stein was?

Well, you see, I am a very progressive person. I actually voted for Jill Stein in the last presidential election. But when I saw Bernie getting the hUge support he was getting, I decided he had a better chance of actually getting elected, so I reluctantly supported him.


Yes, well, you see, Bernie was running as a Democrat and he indicated from the beginning that he would back down and support Hillary if she became the chosen Democratic candidate. This seems rather dishonest to me and I was initially reluctant to support Bernie for that reason and a few other reasons. (Bernie’s stand on the Israel-Palestine issue, for example.)

I’m not wealthy. It appears to me that millionaires overwhelmingly are supporting Hillary. So-called “progressives” such as Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Michael Moore, Robert Reich, to name a few. I very much appreciate Cornel West, Chris Hedges, Susan Sarandon, Russell Brand, etc., who have stuck to their beliefs. Funny how people reveal their true character during times of trouble.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten all the nastiness out of the way, let me tell you the real reason I’m voting for Jill Stein:

She stands for the things I believe in: a real, living minimum wage, free college tuition, forgiveness of student loan debt to stimulate the economy, addressing the needs of low-income and middle class people, climate change, etc. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because everybody else is. I’m not voting for Jill Stein because she has a good chance of getting elected. I’m voting for Jill Stein because I agree with most of what she has to say, because her ideals most closely match mine. Voting is my one chance to express my opinion. My one and only opportunity to let those in power know what I think, what I want. They don’t care of course. They don’t give an iota for what I think or feel. But they will be forced to realize that there are a lot of people like me here in the USSA—oops, I meant USA. (I certainly don’t want to compare the USA with the former USSR. We’re very different. We’re much more advanced. Our spy systems are much more complex and advanced. Our government is much more ruthless and diabolical. We have drones. Our president who claims to be a democrat and was the lesser of two evils has a “kill list.” Also the American population is much more dumbed down than the Soviets ever could be. The former Soviet Union had nothing on the USA. We’re much better at keeping our people in a state of inertia.)