Archive for March, 2020

Bob Gaydos

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

THE REPORT …

Vlad, Rudy, Meryl, Rand and Joe

   I started writing this report, which I intend to deliver on a fairly regular basis, a couple of weeks ago. It was my latest attempt to keep up with the news in the Era of Trump without being caught up in the daily chaos and without ignoring items of interest in the rest of the world, including my backyard and even my own mind. Mostly my own mind.

  072F2413-04EB-42B5-8BE1-B11114B646CD   It turns out, turning off Trump is harder than it sounds. As I was compiling my first non-Trump report, the Dotard went and made it all about him again by declaring that a lethal virus roaring through China was no threat to the U.S. and, indeed, was another Democratic “hoax” intended to make him look bad. So coronavirus took over the news and I scrapped my first report. 

    But now, while staying in place as much as possible and simultaneously trying to maintain sanity, I find it more necessary than ever to look for other items of interest — local, national, international, even personal — that might be worth sharing with whomever decides to read it. I guess it’s the newsman’s DNA circulating in my veins.

      So I’m giving it another shot. I’m also using an approach I’ve stolen before. An old-time sports writer favorite of mine, Jimmy Cannon, used to occasionally sum up his take on world events with his “Nobody asked me, but …” columns. It’s a handy writing device. Covers a lot of ground and keeps the writer from getting too wordy. While I’m stealing Cannon’s idea, I won’t steal his signature phrase. I do have some scruples.

     So, “By the way ….” 

     — Did anybody notice that, while the rest of the planet was hunkering down to control the coronavirus, Vladimir Putin was busy rewriting the Russian Constitution to allow himself to continue as the country’s leader until 2036? He got the whole parliament to resign, rewrite Russia’s constitution, got the top court to agree with the changes, and set a nationwide vote on the new constitution for April 22. With or without the coronavirus. He says it’s under control and there’s no reason to delay the vote. This vote bears watching for lots of reasons you can probably deduce for yourselves.

     — By the way, is Rudy Guliani in self-isolation? Ukraine? Asking for producers at Fox News.

     — By the way, the creative genius who came up with the title for Meryl Streep’s latest movie — “The Laundromat,” on Netflix — didn’t do Streep, the film or its subject any favor in my humble, non-movie-critic opinion. There’s no laundromat for starters. The movie is about a whistleblower who uncovers an epic legal off-shore money-laundering, tax evasion operation in Panama. Millions of files.  Lots of political names. True story. Streep plays a swindled widow who, in the movie, blows the whistle on the operation. The director’s come-along-and-we’ll-tell-you-a-story approach is clever, but it trivializes the magnitude of the worldwide con job known as the Panama Papers. A news story that didn’t last as long as Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Movie’s still entertaining though.

       — By the way, Rand Paul, ain’t karma a bitch? After being the lone member of the U.S. Senate to vote against an aid bill that included free coronavirus tests for all Americans, he became the first senator to test positive for the virus. Of course, his test was free. And he admitted he had no symptoms. And he continued to go about his usual routine before his test results came back, including visiting the Senate gym. Now, typically, he’s criticizing the government system for testing, rather than acknowledging his own poor, individual choices. Apparently, his personal libertarian philosophy of individual freedom does not include individual responsibility. Putz. It’s Yiddish.

       — And finally, by the way, has anybody seen or heard from Joe Biden lately? Just asking for millions of Americans.

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Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com

rjgaydos@gmail.com

A Tool Kit for Problem Gambling

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

E8A71752-5BCA-4631-A888-1DFBF62002A6     March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in New York State. One out of 12 isn’t great odds, but it beats zip, so it’s worth noting.

      In truth, problem gambling, especially if it rises to the level of a mental disorder, is not a joking matter. It is a serious affliction that can ruin the lives of many more people than the gambler. As with all potentially addictive behavior, knowledge is the key to recognizing the problem and taking steps to address it, both for the gambler and those affected by it, usually family.

      To help family members learn about problem gambling, the New York Council on Problem Gambling has produced a Family Toolkit with a variety of useful information. The section titles include: 1) Understanding Problem Gambling, 2) Information for Struggling Families, 3) Self Care Information for Family Members, 4) Resources to Give Loved Ones When You’re Concerned About Their Gambling Behavior, and 5) Is gambling affecting your life?

        The Toolkit is the result of a partnership between the Council and NAMI-NYS. NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. Addictive gambling, now classified as a disorder, is a recognized mental illness. According to the Council web site, the “partnership aims to bring awareness, hope and help to families struggling with problem gambling.”

         For the record, and lest anyone think it’s just a bunch of killjoys out to close casinos and kill sports betting, the Council on Problem Gambling is a not-for-profit, independent corporation which says it is “dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and disordered gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by problem gambling.” It has a neutral stance on gambling and is governed by a board of directors.

          Even more interesting is its origin. According to the Council’s web site, “In 1972, the Board of Trustees of Gamblers Anonymous in the New York City area requested their Spiritual Advisor, Monsignor Dunne, establish a Council on Problem Gambling to do what they could not do because of anonymity — call national attention and raise awareness of problem gambling in the United States. The National Council on Problem Gambling was founded at that time and in 1975 was chartered as a nonprofit organization.”

         So you can thank the people who knew best about the ravages of addictive gambling — the gamblers themselves — for the creation of this lifeline. Appropriately, a 20-question quiz from Gamblers Anonymous is at the bottom of this column to help those who think they might have a problem decide. Hint: If you think you do, odds are you’re right.

      The Family ToolKit and other information on problem gambling are available on line at nyproblemgambling.org. For more information about NAMI-NYS, visit their website: https://www.naminys.org/. 

    Locally, as always, if you or someone you know is experiencing any addiction that is affecting your mental health, call the Orange County Crisis Call Center at 1-800-832-1200. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

 

Gamblers Anonymous 20 questions

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling? Yes No
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy? Yes No
3. Did gambling affect your reputation? Yes No
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling? Yes No
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties? Yes No
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency? Yes No
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses? Yes No
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more? Yes No
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone? Yes No
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling? Yes No
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling? Yes No
12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures? Yes No
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family? Yes No
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned? Yes No
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss? Yes No
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling? Yes No
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping? Yes No
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble? Yes No
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling? Yes No
20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling? Yes No

 

According to GA, most compulsive gamblers will answer ‘yes’ to at least 7 of these questions.

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer. He has been writing this column on addiction for more than a dozen years. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

How to Live Life and Fight Coronavirus

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

  1C731039-1A6C-416C-8764-4A0518417310 If it’s not yours, don’t take it. If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it. 

   Rules by which to live a life.

  The one, two, three of how to be were shared with me recently by a friend of a friend over a cup of coffee. That’s how life is sometimes. I was struck by the simplicity and basic decency of the message. Sometimes, things aren’t that complicated.

   Donald Trump has a simple playbook as well: If you want it, take it. If it’s illegal or immoral, hire lawyers to bury it. If you don’t know what’s what, make something up. This philosophy has served him well until now, but it’s kind of hard to bullshit your way through a worldwide pandemic.

    Not that he and his shameless tribe of enablers aren’t trying. I gave up any hope for Trump many years ago. The moment he announced he was running for president, I thought, what a joke. Joke’s on me.

   Trump is what he always has been — a phony with lots of money (not as much as he says) who will do or say anything he thinks will impress his audience of the moment. It’s always about how he looks right now. Shallow doesn’t do it justice. There is nothing deeper at work than self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. Well, greed and revenge are also motivating factors.

      Of course, this isn’t news today to anyone but the delusional true believers at his campaign rallies. The rest are all in it for whatever they can gain out of it. They do this by sucking up to and covering up for their boss (all those unqualified people currently occupying well-paying government positions). Or they do it to hold onto their cushy elected positions (all those silent Republicans in Congress). Or it’s out of convenience (the evangelical preachers who can use the Trump-created chaos to stir up donations while they wait, comfortably, for the Rapture).

     I suspect the folks at Fox News, save for one or two, have been administered some mind-altering drug, had electric shock treatment or were hypnotized in the manner of “The Manchurian Candidate.” I honestly can think of no explanation for their posing as journalists while functioning as propagandists save one — they are just like Trump, phony and interested only in self-preservation. Rotten to the core.

      That may sound harsh to some, but consider the response to the Coronavirus. At a time when health officials and government leaders worldwide are issuing statements of concern, caution or even warning, this Trump/Fox/suckups coalition has gone out of its way to downplay the threat and defend Trump’s laughable effort to insist Americans need not worry, warm weather is coming, he has a “hunch” the scientists are wrong, the drug companies will come up with a vaccine any day now, Mike Pence will pray away the virus and, besides, even though Trump fired all those disease control people, it’s Obama’s fault.

      You want just one example of pure heartlessness at work? Health Secretary Alex Azar, a former lobbyist for drug companies, refused to say that, should a vaccine for Corona be developed, it would not be free or at least affordable for all Americans. Asked about this in a congressional hearing, Azar said, “We would want to ensure that we’d work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.” In other words, the drug companies will set the price. That is unacceptable when facing a possible pandemic.

        It’s really simple. At a time when calm leadership and clear information is needed, Trump silences the health officials and tweets insults at Democratic presidential contenders. By the way, don’t notice the stock market is plunging because of worries about how the virus will affect world trade. It’s all about image and it borders on criminal.

        The irony is, if the reaction worldwide actually was overblown, the best way to deal with it would have been to demonstrate a clear understanding of such threats, have a plan and team in place to deal with them and a commitment to make all information available quickly and to insure that all necessary treatment, etc. would be provided to those infected. Or at the very least, admit we’re playing catch-up with this threat and doing everything we can to protect all Americans. Meanwhile, wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face and stay home if you’re feeling ill. Something.

        Which brings me back to my friend’s friend’s one-two-three rule for living life. Trump and his cohorts either never heard of it or, worse, don’t care about it. As I said, I’ve felt this way about Trump for some time. It’s how many others are willing to go along with him that is disheartening. Their version of do unto others apparently comes with the caveat, before they do unto you. And lie to protect yourself.

       I am far from perfect, but I am at least willing to try to live up to that one/two/three. So are many others. We have put up with a lot of self-serving and orchestrated praying from the Trump crowd, but when people’s lives may be at stake, it would be nice if at least one of them offered something close to basic decency instead of the usual B.S.

rjgaydos@gmail.com