Erin's Journal

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Just a thought... Merely complaining without proposing an alternative merits nothing. [Jacque Fresco]

And so the US government shutdown stretches into its fourth week with absolutely no end in sight. A ridiculous wall that malevalent Roger Stone and his brain trust came up with to help tRump stay on message in his campaign rallies has become the barrier between hundreds of thousands of government workers and their much-needed paychecks.
 
Keeping in mind a stat that said most Americans (and probably a good number of Canadians) were only about $400 between meeting their bill deadlines and financial disaster, you have to believe that the holidays and just living have eaten up a lot of families' and individuals' reserves. It's so sad.
 
On the positive side, Canadian air traffic controllers were buying pizza for their American counterparts. That was a nice story; of course, it's terrible that they need it. There have been food banks set up in the Tampa, Florida airport for employees' families. ("If you're travelling through Tampa International, bring some donations....")
 
It's all just pathetic. A guy who built his image on being able to make deals (although we all know he didn't write The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz did, to his massive regret), simply won't - or can't - negotiate. Prior to the shutdown, he had 100 percent votes from both sides for money for the repairs to the wall and when far right wing loudmouths Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter told tRump not to back down, he backpedalled. Dealmaker, indeed.
 
Because of the shutdown, we've been worried about buying produce down here and, as such, have been digging into the freezer for whatever offerings Costco tempted us with when first we arrived. Chicken pot pie? My oh my! Lasagna? Bring it on, yeah! But I've been craving salads and was worried about buying produce, given that inspectors have been laid off and lettuce seems especially susceptible to E. coli and other nastiness. What to do? First off, look for accurate information.
 
Fortunately, I came across an NPR article that allayed our fears somewhat. Apparently stores like Costco have their own stringent set of inspections, so as to avoid a debacle like having to recall a large amount of food. Here's the story, which you may want to share if you have friends or family south of the border this winter. 
 
But wait, there's more! Before I read this NPR story, still craving salad, Rob and I went for a late lunch on Friday to the Olive Garden in nearby Palm Desert. With just six such restaurants in Canada (all in the west) it's been a long time since we'd indulged in their bottomless salads and soft breadsticks. So off we went.
 
I anticipated a pleasant experience and, for the most part, it was. But upon entering the restaurant, behind the greeters' podium were three TVs. One of them was set on Fox "News." Now, it wasn't as though the other two were CNN or MSNBC. No, it was the only channel of its type on the TVs. I gritted my teeth and hoped we wouldn't be seated anywhere that I could see the nauseating channel that has helped dupe so many already ill-informed Americans. (Thankfully we were not.)
 
I always keep in mind that I'm a guest in this country. The person at the table next to us could have voted for tRump; I remember that, too. It seemed especially likely when we took a look at him: the guy who wore a long white pony tail under his Harley ballcap. He just looked like someone at a MAGA rally.
 
Before we had ordered and as he was leaving, he joined us in a conversation about the My Fitness Pal app that we were discussing with our shared server. He seemed nice enough, I suppose. Probably is. Lost 20 pounds in three weeks using that app (which I'm back on, too). But we did not talk politics. Why would we, unless I was looking to get into trouble? And as much as I despise hats on in restaurants - something I'm just going to have to get over, obviously - it was a Harley lid and not a MAGA hat. I had no quarrel with this man.
 
We ate our meal and went home, but not before I took one last look over my shoulder at the TVs. Yep, Fox "News" was still on. And soon Tucker "Immigrants are dirty" Carlson and tRump's personal mouthpiece (and Michael Cohen client #3) Sean Hannity would be coming on and spewing their lies. 
 
I couldn't stay quiet.
 
Once at home, I went to the Olive Garden's website and left a comment. An auto response said that they'd get back to me within five days. Reasonable enough. Then I went on Twitter and wrote: "Just wrote @olivegarden about how unappetizing it was to see state-run Faux "News" on their bar TV as we entered. They promise a response within 5 days. I'll let you know."
 
About five minutes after I posted that to my 24.7 k followers, I noticed @olivegarden following me. Then I got a message from them asking me to DM them with my comments. In other words, "We want to hear your complaint, but let's take it offline." Okay, I thought, I'll respect your request - and I did. 
 
I wrote: 

Hi folks - my husband and I visited your location in Palm Desert CA yesterday and were delighted with the service and menu. What almost had us leave before sitting down was seeing Fox "News" on one of three TVs behind the bar. Regardless of whom you advertise with (and I hope it's not State Run propaganda TV) I'd rather be greeted by an aquarium or the weather channel than a station that has done nothing but spew lies and dispense misinformation. Please ask the OG GM to rethink her/his choice of TV channels. Because as newcomers to Palm Springs we don't want to rethink our choice of reasonable family restaurants. Thank you, Erin Davis.

I'm pretty sure that the response I received within moments was cookie cutter (or pasta maker) in its contents.
 

Olive Garden response

 
Nonetheless, it felt good at least to let them know that, no, it wasn't okay (in our opinion) to have that hate-filled channel on in a restaurant. I realize that it could have been a case of thoughtlessness rather than by design: the bartender just changed to what the solo patron having a drink asked him to, someone put it on while cleaning overnight and that's what it was on. Or just maybe the boss WANTED that channel on. I would find out the next day, and I'll share that letter from the restaurant with you here tomorrow.
 
For now, I'll climb down from this soapbox now and get back to making my Fitness Pal proud of me today. I've got to walk off some breadsticks and pasta - even though the Palm Spring rain was of Biblical proportions yesterday.
 
By the way, if you need a smile, here's a link to the latest video from Randy Rainbow, a guy I think is just so funny and talented. I think you'll enjoy his musical take on the border wall situation. Turn it up!
 
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