If insurrection leaders aren’t held accountable, what’s next?

Trump supporters storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Image: Brett Davis)

I seem to become angrier about Jan. 6, 2021, as each day goes by. Maybe because I believe it could happen all over again with a worse outcome.

It seems appropriate that on the day before the third anniversary of that horrific day that I finished listening to The January 6 Report by the House January 6th Committee, which was published in December 2022.

Several of the committee’s hearings in 2022 were televised. They were scary, revealing and worth watching.

The report is thorough. It’s long. There is a ton to digest. Names I hadn’t heard before (or didn’t remember) were mentioned. Details I didn’t know came to light. Then more details.

I felt emotionally exhausted while listening and now after the fact.

“The January 6 Report” is sobering and important.

The planning of that shocking day when backers of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the electoral college votes was extensive in the weeks prior. It was essentially being planned in the open. Plenty of people knew about it. That’s obvious by the numbers who were there.

Plenty of folks in the government were conspirators.

All of this is detailed in the report.

It was those of us not listening to right wing chatter who were caught off guard. Or maybe because we are used to peaceful presidential transitions it was unfathomable for political violence to occur in the United States. Boy, was I naïve.

Jan. 6 was an insurrection led by Trump. The dictionary definition of insurrection is: a violent uprising against an authority or government.

Even the committee calls it an insurrection. They referred Trump and others for possible prosecution under U.S. Code for “assisting and providing aid and comfort to an insurrection.” And remember, the House impeached him for inciting an insurrection.

People who stormed the Capitol are quoted as saying they were there because Trump called them there. He did so the prior December via a tweet. That is the only reason they were there. They were prepared for violence with arsenals of weapons.

If you don’t believe Jan. 6, 2021, was an insurrection, this is a must read. If you believe you know enough, you don’t. Read this. For our democracy to continue, we must know the truth and ensure others understand it.

This book/report is a great step to better comprehending what led up to that day, the lengths to which people in the federal government and others were willing to go to deny the rightful transfer of leadership to the fairly elected Joe Biden.

I understand justice often moves slowly. But knowing Trump and so many others who were part of this insurrection are walking around free is scary. What are they plotting now? Listen to Trump. He’s been telling us his plans. Don’t dismiss him. We did that before and look where we are. He must be stopped.

Sharing the same pool as Diana Nyad — sort of

The Palm Springs Swim Center is open to out-of-towners for a higher fee than locals. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I have plied the same waters as long distance, open water swimmer Diana Nyad.

Don’t be silly, not the shark infested, jelly-fish stinging waters of the Caribbean. Well, I have swam in the Caribbean, but that’s not what this is about.

Oh, and if you don’t know who Nyad is, I highly recommend the movie by the same name that came out on Netflix late last year about the swimmer.

In 2013, at age 64-year-old Nyad became the first person to complete the 110-mile open-water swim between Cuba and Florida. This was her fifth attempt, with the first one being in 1978.

The waters we have shared are those at the Palm Springs Swim Center.

In February 2022, she was at the city pool training for a charity event for Hurricane Sandy victims. She swam 24 continuous hours in the desert waters. An interesting thing is that local swimmers took turns swimming laps in the lane next to her.

OK, so I wasn’t actually in the pool with her then.

I was in the Palm Springs pool for the first time last month. It’s great. That’s partly why I’m writing this.

It is all about lap swimming, with a few hours reserved for water aerobics. Ten of the 22 lanes have starting blocks—which is what you dive off of in competition. The length is 25 yards. It’s possible to change the lane configuration to go length-wise; then the pool becomes 50 meters. This is the standard length for Olympic competition.

I competed in swimming when I was a kid—in AAU, which might mean something to someone. Every weekend it seemed like I was at a swim meet. I wasn’t all that great, but it was fun. And to this day I enjoy swimming laps; I just don’t often have the opportunity.

My home pool in the Bay Area was the Concord Community Pool. It was configured differently, but also had the 25-yard and 50-meter lanes. It’s a lot harder to swim 50 meters—not just because it’s more than twice the distance. Not having the wall to turn around on is huge.

I could never be an open swimmer like Nyad—for a lot of reasons. For one, on my Palm Springs swim I was finished after 60 laps. Still, it’s fun to know we have shared the same water.

Thinking about what 2024 will bring

When I think about 2024 I do so with trepidation. All because of November. The presidential election.

I can’t remember a time in my life when my thoughts about a new year were consumed by an election.

This one is going to be consequential. They all are. I know. But this one, well, it’s big. Remember to vote. Choose the lesser of two evils (if that’s how you will view the candidates) and don’t do what so many did in 2016 by staying on the sidelines or picking a third party candidate.

I know who I’m voting for. I know who scares me. If you aren’t scared, then you aren’t paying attention, you don’t know history, and you are likely part of the cult. That’s all I can call it when you devote yourself to one person.

Enough of that. The election is months from now. So much will happen between now and then that we can’t even imagine.

I have fun things on the calendar—Tahoe, Mexico, a niece’s wedding. Plenty more will fill in the blank dates.

I no longer take the “routine” days for granted—at least not often. After all, those are most of my days. As I’ve gotten older it’s those days that I enjoy more. I do so by being more present in my life.

It’s sharing experiences with people I care about—could be a Hallmark movie, could be tennis, could be a phone call-email-text, could be a hike, could be an adult beverage, could be just about anything.

It really is the “little” things in life that matter. They are the foundation, the substance, and the reality of life. The other stuff—travel, an expensive bottle of wine, a new car—that’s all the frosting of life.

For 2024, I’m going to keep working on being present and enjoying every “ordinary” day because I know these are really the most special days.

Now shouldn’t be the only season to connect with people

Last year I received the fewest holiday cards ever.

Since it’s that time of year to think about sending year-end correspondence, I wonder who I will hear from this year and who I won’t. It also makes me wonder why people have stopped this tradition; or maybe I was just cut from their list.

According to Hallmark, in the early 2000s about 2 billion Christmas cards were sent by people in the United States, with that number dropping to 1.18 billion in 2015. Today, it’s about 1.3 billion.

Hallmark’s website says, “Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States.”

My parents sent holiday letters for eons. It was a recap of the highlights of the year, with photos of all six of us and usually the dog. Then it became cards with the photo of the two of them. Now mom does some of her greetings via email.

I sent Christmas cards for years; with a few handwritten sentences on them. Somewhere along the line I started writing my own letter to send to family and friends.

Eventually I bypassed the U.S. Postal Service, instead opting to send my annual news via email. (For the peeps who don’t do electronic mail, I put a stamp on an envelope.)

When I stopped celebrating Christmas I started emailing my greetings on New Year’s Day.

I have been contemplating skipping sending a letter this year. It isn’t written, so who knows what I will ultimately decide. Part of me wants to keep the letter tradition alive because I know how much I enjoy hearing from people.

Some on my list are people who I only hear from at the holidays. We still care about each other, have some shared past, but just aren’t really involved in each other’s lives.

Others on my list I’m doing a better job of staying connected with throughout the year, but still don’t necessarily know all that is going on. I love reading about whatever has happened in the past year to someone I care about, whether it’s sad or happy, good or bad.

I suppose the important thing isn’t so much about connecting at the holidays, but reaching out to those who mean something to you throughout the year. A simple text or email, a postcard, a letter, even a phone call.

I think we could probably all do a little better at being present in the lives of those we care about.

People are more than the job that brings them a paycheck

What do you do? – That is often the first thing people ask someone they’ve just met. It’s usually meant to be about their job, not anything else.

How are things at work? – That is often what we ask people we know who have a job.

What do we ask people who don’t work? – Something more personal, more meaningful.

In other words, we are too wrapped up in defining ourselves and others by our work or theirs. Society for the most part defines work as something we do in exchange for a paycheck. That’s not to say the work one does for a paycheck isn’t worth asking about or talking about; it just shouldn’t be the only thing we are interested in.

Somewhere along the line we began defining “work” as something for which we are paid. And along that same line, we began defining people by their work. As though everything else about them was less meaningful.

It’s time we expand the definition of work.

Plentiful types of work don’t come with money as the reward. Parenting being one of the biggies. Volunteerism is definitely work. I watch my mom in the garden—I know that is work. Writing for this website is work—unpaid work at that.

We still seem to program people do well in K-12 so they can get into a good college so they can get a good job so they can buy that house, that car, and save for retirement.

What if we “programmed” people to actually live life and be less focused on the job. What if we encouraged people to be on a journey where they enjoy life, make a difference, contribute to their communities and the world? What if the ultimate goal is to be a decent human being?

Maybe we put less emphasis on jobs that pay money when it comes to defining people and more emphasis on the whole person. It has to start early, though. Life should be about living. I’m not saying people don’t need to do something to pay the bills. But does work have to be everything? Does it have to define us?

What if we started asking: What have you done recently for fun? Or, What have you been up to? Maybe we start out with a compliment and not a question. That should get the conversation going. Maybe we ask how their day or week was? That’s less specific than talking about work, and it would show we care about them as a person.

I love what I do that garners money, buy those jobs are just a fraction of the whole me.

Retailers buying loyalty through rewards programs

Safeway grocery store shoppers can earn gas discounts. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Customer loyalty can be a financial boon for businesses and a money saver for shoppers and clientele.

Information technology services and consulting company Accenture says about 90% of companies have a loyalty program.

Businesses large and small, chains and independents buy into the need to provide incentives to customers to keep them coming back. It might be in the form of spending money on groceries and then getting discounts on gas, it could be getting a free smoothie after a certain number of purchases, or it could be a free spa treatment once you have spent a requisite number of nights at a hotel.

More people in the United States are joining loyalty programs, according to Forrester Research, which is based in Massachusetts and has an office in San Francisco. In 2022, 86% of adults in the U.S. belonged to at least one program. That number has increased to 89% this year.

“I think part of it is driven by inflation and I think people want to save money,” principal analyst Mary Pilecki said. “They are also demanding more and want more from loyalty programs.”

Some people will remember plastic cards that hooked onto key chains that were used at retailers and grocery stores to obtain a discount. Punch cards are another relic now hard to find.

Today, phone numbers and email address are ways businesses keep tabs on customers.

Some programs track what people are buying so deals are tailored to past purchases.

Loyalty programs continue to evolve — part driven by technology, part by consumer demand, part by a company’s bottom line. Some places, such as Dunkin, have gotten rid of their birthday programs for rewards members.

“Over the last five years or so we’ve seen customer loyalty programs change. They are not necessarily disappearing, but changing in big ways,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, a company that curates deals online. “More are using a tiered model. Consumers may have to pay to be in a higher tier or they may have to spend more to be in a higher tier.”

Since the pandemic, Ramhold said there has been an increase in paid loyalty programs, “Retailers find that by rewarding customers it will keep people coming back for years and years.”

Pilecki at Forrester Research shared these stats:

  • 60% of consumers in the U.S. who belong to loyalty program say they do so for the special offers that aren’t available to others.
  • 54% say special treatment is important to them.
  • 49% state getting relevant personalized offers or promotions are the key reason to join.
  • 47% of people in the U.S. belong to a supermarket rewards program, 46% to a credit card one, 40% to a pharmacy/drugstore
  • 35% belong to hospitality plans like airlines and hotels.
  • 28% belong to gas station programs (up 3 percentage points from 2022).

Retail is probably the biggest user of loyalty programs and that’s because there are a lot of retailers,” Pilecki said.

Forrester Research published a report last year about the return on investment for companies with loyalty programs.

“What we found is you can get anywhere from 56% to 77% of your investment back in one year,” Pilecki said. “That is great because the investment in the technology is huge.”

She said multiple vendors offer various platforms for companies of all sizes to choose from, some more sophisticated than others, with most integrating into established point of sale software.

What it comes down to is loyalty programs are a way for companies to save and make money.

“It is less expensive to retain customers than get new ones,” Pilecki said. Rewarding them helps retain them.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the North Bay Business Journal.

Appliance hiccup necessitates visit to the laundromat

It’s not cheap to use a laundromat. (Image: Kathryn Reeed)

A washing machine full of water when the spin cycle has finished is never a good thing.

I kept trying things, but my feeble attempts only put more water into the contraption. The spin cycle clearly was not working.

I reached out to people in Chico to see if anyone had a washing machine expert they liked. No, was the response. But a couple of my tennis guys said I might be able to fix it myself and one sent YouTube videos.

I had already looked at a couple videos. One had the machine outside, with the person saying this was the best option so water didn’t get all over the house. Our machine is oversized, so a bit unwieldy. Unlikely that I could move it on my own.

It takes a few quarters to dry a load of laundry. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Before I even tried to fix it I had to empty the washer. Mom and I did a bucket brigade of sorts to drain the machine, with the plants outside getting a dose of gray water.

I knew I needed to get under it to try to solve the problem. But I was super apprehensive about doing anything inside and knew getting outside was going to be problematic. Mom didn’t want me trying to move the thing.

Since it was the weekend and this wasn’t an emergency I was not going to pay inflated prices for a repair person to come out.

So, off I went to the laundromat with my wet clothes. Sheets and towels mostly, so heavy wet stuff.

It had been a while since I was in a laundromat. How do people afford them? It cost $6.50 to wash my load in an oversized machine. What I had would not fit in a regular machine. This seemed like an exorbitant amount of money. It didn’t include detergent or drying.

During the cycle I was able to get some work done, and help a very needy older gentleman who didn’t seem to know the first thing about washing. And later I learned didn’t understand how to operate a dryer.

I wonder what those who study human behavior would have to say about the people who use a laundromat. That could be interesting.

I’m just glad mine was a one time (knock on wood) visit.

The repair dude came out later in the week. He tilted the machine against the wall. Why hadn’t I thought of that? He didn’t get the gasket on correctly at first, causing some water to get on the floor. No biggie. I asked if what he did was something I could fix on my own if/when there is a next time. He said it can be tricky. Fingers crossed I won’t ever need to know if I’m capable or not.

The verdict? Gunk was in the drain spout. I was hoping repair dude was going to find my missing sock.

Thanksgiving Day walk helps those in need

I’ll be running for food on Thanksgiving.

OK, I’ll be walking a 5K. I’m not sure how many of these walks I’ve done, but I have several shirts to commemorate the event.

And the food isn’t for me. The food is for those who have a hard time paying the grocery bill.

According to the event’s website, “The Run for Food started out in 2006 with just over 1,000 participants and now the event brings together 5,000 participants each year along with 75 businesses and 200 volunteers for a true community-wide event.”

The website also says this is Chico’s largest annual event. It’s also the largest fundraiser for the Jesus Center.

All proceeds from the walk (some actually run it) go to the Jesus Center, which was founded in 1981 to provide a hot meal to the homeless.

Today, the center does much more than help feed those in need. Primarily the center helps the unhoused.

There are a lot of people in Chico without what I would call traditional housing. It’s obvious when someone is living in their vehicle. Tents, while more prolific before the city rousted them, are still plentiful. Short-term housing has been built as a transition. Services are in place to help stabilize these people’s lives.

But it’s never enough. Too many people are living on the edge. Sure, mental health and addiction contribute to homelessness, but there are so many other factors.

The irony is not lost on me that I will have walked to raise money for those who don’t even have a place to call home, and then I’ll go to a family member’s home and presumably eat so much my stomach hurts.

Maybe next Thanksgiving I’ll do more than walk.

A new normal for Paradise 5 years after devastating fire

Paradise recognizes the animals lost in the 2018 Camp Fire. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s been five years since the Camp Fire ripped through Paradise, forever changing the lives of thousands of people and reshaping the landscape for generations to come.

PG&E was held criminally liable for the inferno started by its equipment, which led to the death of 85 people.

Nov. 8, 2018, will be a date forever etched in the memories of those who were there that day. Today, the resiliency of the people who call this town home is evident with the continued rebuilding of homes and businesses.

Mom and I last month went to Billie Park—her first time since the fire. It was a place she and dad would regularly take visitors; out to the point where a fabulous view of the canyon unfolded.

It’s changed. Everything in Paradise has changed.

Cleo Reed, who lost her home in the 2018 Camp Fire, at the point in Billie Park in October 2023. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Now the views are evident at the start of the short trail. Gone are the trees that once obscured the view. One of the benefits of fire is views that were once blocked are now visible. But it also means walking to the point isn’t that special anymore. There isn’t that dramatic “wow” at the end of the trail because the canyon is now a constant on the walk.

In the park is a granite marker dedicated to the animals—domestic and wild—who were killed or injured in the fire.

In part it says, “For the missing creatures and all those who perished; whose light and love will always be cherished. The smallest sparrow, the majestic black bear, and the dog by our chair. Rest now until we see each other again. In my heart I will hold you my dear pet, my best friend.”

At the base of the structure are rocks people have painted as a memorial to their animal who is no longer here.

It’s just one of the many reminders in town of the loss.

This anniversary is a time to remember what was, acknowledge how far the people and town have come, and realize healing could be a lifetime journey.

U.S. government offering another round of free Covid-19 tests

Free is almost always a good thing.

I recently received four more free Covid-19 tests in the mail thanks to the U.S. government.

In late September people could begin ordering more of these tests through this link.

I’ve taken several tests—before visiting friends, before returning home, after I’ve been in a crowded area, before medical appointments, when someone I know has been around people who’ve tested positive for the virus.

They are so easy to use, with results in a matter of minutes.

While there is an expiration date on the tests, the government has extended the time beyond what’s actually on the packaging. To find out if your tests are still valid, go online.

I know plenty of people don’t believe in vaccines, but what’s the harm in testing?


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