Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Bullying”

Handshakes And Hugs… Who Needs Them?

Disclaimer, I have never been much of a hugger, especially in the moments of a greeting or departure.  Although to be fair, when I saw the jpeg, I am thinking, okay, maybe I would make an exception for the pound-sized Hershey bar.

But seriously, growing up, there was never any of the kind of displays of salutations such as handshakes, hugs and kisses.  So, with the exception of my daughters and any particular special interest in my life, I actually feel quite awkward in displaying such greetings.

Howie Mandel has often been made fun of for the reasons he does not make physical contact with people, concern over germs, or the term “germaphobe.”  I have seen him react when his levels of comfort have been actually threatened, often for the sake of comedy.  For Mandel, it is quite serious.

For me, it is just awkward.  I have no interest in giving anyone a kiss that I am either not married to or dating.  As for hugs, meh, I could care less.  Again, for an immediate relation point of reference, I have no problem.  But if I am visiting someone’s home, or just happen to see someone I have not seen in a while, yeah, not so much into it.

The only salutation that I did not have any kind of issue with, was handshaking.  Yes, that is written in past tense.

Covid19 has taken care of that for sure with me.  Honestly, I am not heartbroken about it.  I actually think a smiling “Hi there!” from me, produces more of a friendly approach than a firm handshake might mistakingly infer.  I really do not care if I shake another hand at this point.

And this new thing… the elbow bump.  STOP IT!  It is just stupid.  Not to mention the fact, that if you are supposed to be socially distancing, you actually end up two feet closer (minimum) to be able to knock each other’s elbows.

We are now in our tenth month of this crisis, the seventh month full blown, and no end in sight.  I have mentioned in past posts, I get how many are having such a difficult time dealing with the recommendations and restrictions, and worse, the isolation.  Unless you have been blessed to not have lived through a health crisis, you know the urgentness of what we are facing with this crisis.

I try to keep the temperature low when it comes to discussions about Covid19.  Of course, I care about everyone, not just my family and friends, not just my fellow cancer survivors, but everyone.  I am a firm believer in science, and am quite frustrated that politics has caused the damage and confusion that it has.

Years ago, I worked with biohazards.  I was within small groups of co-workers.  The good thing was, all of those co-workers were on the same page, follow the rules and precautions.  An issue one day, led to management deciding that this small group was no longer a workable situation, and instead opened the assignment to the entire department, and I spoke up against it.  My arguments were denied, and given my health vulnerabilities, I did the only thing I could do.  It was one thing for the small and close group who respected the dangers of what we handled, but by requiring all employees, many of whom only cared about short-cuts to get done working early, my health was in danger.

I went to our health services department to obtain an exemption.  I was told that I “just had a problem with management.  There was no health concern.”  Again, if you follow my blog, you know I have a difficult health history.  I would eventually win my argument, but I should not have had to fight so hard.

THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT EFFICIENCY OF MASKS!  I have already written a post on that.  No matter what however, even the lowest level of protection of a mask does one simple thing, and I have said it long before Covid19.  It acts as a cough or sneeze guard for those who are either lazy or slob and do not cover their faces when they cough or sneeze.

Sure, when my kids were just entering daycare, that is when we learned a new method to prevent errant sneeze and cough germs, doing it into the crook of your elbow.  That way you just did not transfer your germs from you mouth or nose to your hands, and then not wash you hands.

Of course, Covid19 has made it more difficult, and more necessary.  And the sad thing is, it really does make a difference, in lowering the risk.  No, not the same as eliminating the risk.  I have said before, even with the N95 mask, unless you are trained how to wear one, it will do as well at protecting you as the surgical mask.  That is why I say it helps lower the risk.  And lowering is better than nothing.

I live in an area that is high into mask-refusal.  I have been mask shamed.  I have heard all the excuses why not to wear masks, and have yet to hear one that was valid.  Freedom not to wear them, sorry.  The only ones who lose their freedoms are the ones that die from Covid19.  Can’t breath or dying from breathing CO2?  Right, that is why the death rate of surgeons and operating room nurses is so high.

My favorite, no one tells me what to do.  You wear a seatbelt in your car, right?  And believe me, I am 100% against being forced to wear one.  And given the option or the ability to make up my own mind, I would not do it.  But the argument is there, seatbelts save lives.  And here is the part that I hear, and I say, “but it should be my choice.  If I don’t wear my seatbelt, it has no impact on my driving.”  Sound familiar?

When someone claims that wearing a mask does not save lives with Covid19, that just does not make any sense.  You may have the right, not freedom, to not wear a mask, but you do not have a right to make anyone else face a deadly virus.  Seriously, do you think you could get away with infecting someone with AIDS?  Don’t tell me that is different.  At least AIDS can be treated.

My decisions that I have made in regard to Covid19 have no impact on anyone.  I am protecting myself, and those around me.  I am not making a statement, political or otherwise.  Besides not wanting to contract Covid19, I do not want the responsibility of giving it to anyone.  If you think because you are young and healthy, you have nothing to fear, ask anyone who has met those descriptions and developed Covid19, and have struggled since, because they found out, they may not have been as healthy as thought.

I have been through these crisis before, and I have gotten through them because I have made smart choices, not tried to prove a point.  Covid19 will not be any different.

And for now, I don’t care if I shake another hand…ever.

Voter Fraud This Is Not – Part 2

Here it is.  My official “mail-in” ballot.  IT IS THE ONLY ONE THAT I HAVE RECIEVED!  If you recall, in the first part of my “not voter fraud” post, I shared with you several items that I did receive that some people perceive as “ballot” material, which those items were not.  Though I have redacted bar codes and certain information, you can still tell that this belongs to me.

Now I know, there is the chance that someone might say, they have received multiple ballots, or even dead people have received them.  No, they do not.  If you received another ballot, it is because there was a mistake that has been corrected, and those very bar codes like you see on my packet, will no longer work on the incorrect ballot.  And the only way that a dead person will receive this is after they have died before the system has been able to catch up before ballots get mailed out.  Now, that that is out of the way.

So, the most important thing inside the packet, is the ballot itself.  My ballot happens to be 3 pages, but I have only pictured the first.  And of course, I had not filled it out just yet.  But this is the exact same ballot that I would receive, voting in person.

The next part, is really interesting.  The Secrecy Sleeve.

It is just a piece of paper, with instructions on how to secure your ballot, privately.  And to do this…

you fold the “secrecy sleeve” in half, and place the ballot inside.  And ta-da, you ballot is cast in secret.

Next, you place the ballot in the envelope that is supplied.  On the back side, is your affidavit that the ballot is yours and that you have filled it out.  It has the bar code to register that you cast your ballot, and… AND… it has a place for you to provide your signature.  That’s right, you have to sign your mail-in ballot.

Here is where the “criers” chirp the loudest.  “Nobody will check the signatures!”  Of course they will get checked.  The bar code will bring up the signature to compare the signatures, and just as if you were in person, if the signatures were not close enough, the ballot would be rejected.  Having voted in person, I have had my signature rejected in person, even providing my driver’s license.

And with that, I filled out my ballot, folded it in half, and placed inside the “secrecy sleeve”, and sealed the envelope.

Only one thing left to do, put postage on it, and mail it.  The one thing people may not be aware of, is the extra postage needed because of the larger envelope.  POSTAGE TO MAIL YOUR BALLOT IS $.70!  Again, there is a bar code on the envelope.  Why?  It allows you to confirm that your ballot was received, and cannot be submitted again.


These are difficult days for us as a country because of Covid19.  But even without Covid19, there are difficulties with voting and voter suppression.  Polling places being shut down, limiting access.  Drop boxes being eliminated.  And even difficulties with registering to vote in the first place.

Our right to vote is one of the most important rights we have as an American.  I have several options that make it fairly easy to vote, whether in person, early voting, or by mail.  And it is my right to choose how I vote.  I do not buy into conspiracy theories while at the same time, I do acknowledge that there can be problems, just not widespread enough to affect an outcome.

It does just so happen, I am one of the “vulnerable” to Covid19.  And though there are some who feel the need to “shame” people whether with words or memes, that if you can “stand in line at Home Depot” or Walmart, you can stand in line to vote, as the president himself now faces the reality, that even in an outdoor setting, someone can still contract the virus.  So, no.  Standing in line for a prescription or perhaps some groceries is a necessity for me.  Standing in line to vote, when other options are available, are not.

My ballot has been mailed, and I plan to verify that it was received.

This is not voter fraud.  And that is the end of that.

Voter Fraud This Is Not… And Here Is Why

I do not normally do these kinds of posts, but as I often use writing to express frustrations, this is one of those moments.  But it is also a teachable moment as well.

First, I want to be clear.  I HATE POLITICS!  Second, I am an independent voter, have been my whole voting age.  I have voted for both Republican and Democratic presidents and lower level politics.  I am an independent for two reasons.  The first, I do not agree completely with the policies and beliefs of either party.  And second, I will not be told I need to believe a certain way to belong to that party.  Now with the serious stuff out of the way.  I would like to share something with you, quite interesting.  Because what I am going to show and tell you, is not voter fraud, though it is confused as such.  But it is a major pain in the ass.

As I stated above, I HATE POLITICS.  But in 2009, because of a teacher labor issue, and the way the bullies of the current school board had chosen to negotiate in public in a variety of negative campaign methods, I had enough and decided to run for school board.  I was fed up with this bullying behavior and felt I could make a difference.  The experience of a campaign was not only fun, but eye-opening.  The goal of my post is not to talk about my school board campaigns, but rather to pull back the curtain so that you can see why I have titled this post the way that I have.

Lesson #1 – seeing is not believing

Campaign signs.  We see them all the time.  And for the most part, we associate blue with Democrats, and red with Republicans.  So, why are there two different signs?  While campaigning as a Democrat (one of the two and temporary times I was not an independent, and there was a reason I chose Democrat as opposed to Republican, strategy only), it was thought that if we could show that we were supported by Republicans, that would gather more votes, which is why the sign says “Republicans for”.  But we thought, why not fully commit to making the sign red.  Republican voters will think that we are the Republican candidates, because their signs are normally red.  Devious, I know.  But it gets better.

Lesson #2 – the same but different

Something that most voters are not aware of, in local politics, there are options for candidates to “cross file” for an election, in other words, run as a candidate for both parties, not just the party you represent.  In elections with a primary election, this is often a good strategy to eliminate an opponent and not having to face in a general election.  Two such positions are school board member and local judges.  There is only one catch.  Just as you have to for the higher elections, you must collect signatures on a petition to support your candidacy.  But if you represent one party, and especially in today’s political climate, how do you muster up enough signatures from the opposite party?  It is not as hard as you think.  So when you show up at the election polls for the primary, voting in your primary, all you see is your party’s candidates which also include the “sheep in wolves clothing” from the opposing party.  Devious.  But there is more.

Lesson #3 – tools of the trade

Political mailers.  So many trees have to die so that politicians can get their information out to you.  Some may be informative.  Some, like this one that was sent out against my campaign running mates, can be quite offensive.  And my opponents were severely criticized for this ad.  It should be noted, that not all of these come from the candidates themselves, but rather PACS (political action committees), which ironically, many candidates often belong to.  It is a way for them to participate in the shadows, and deflect anything negative that comes from a tactic (“Neither I or my campaign had anything to do with this.”) which is a technicality, but not illegal.

But the question is, how do you get these things?  Voter registrations for one.  There are several tools available to campaigns, that are public knowledge just because you registered to vote.  It is not necessarily a bad thing.  It makes it easy for your political party to keep tabs on you.  That’s right, each political party can tell when you voted, or how often.  Campaigns use this knowledge, to figure out who they need to concentrate on.  If you are a regular voter, you will not likely see as many because it is the lesser frequent, perhaps even non-voters that they want to concentrate on.  That information is at every candidate’s fingertips.  A totally pain in the ass if you do not like getting robo-calls and these mailers, but totally legal.

Lesson #4 – politics on 2020

So, tricks like this do not just happen on local levels, but state and national.  Parties and candidates will pull out all the stops to convince, and if necessary trick voters in to casting their vote for them.  And I want to be clear, I am not speaking for or against our current president.  But what I am going to do, is straighten out one thing that I have noticed, because the confusion it has caused, and it has caused quite a bit of confusion, is not voter fraud.  Though I have seen many of my friends make this claim.  And I am going to prove to you that this particular situation, if you have seen it, is nothing more than a campaigning method, and totally legal.  You have to be smart and see the difference, pay attention, and cast your vote intelligently.


Example #1

I received this packet about a month ago.  Like many, at just a glance, I automatically assume it is a ballot for the upcoming general election, which I have already requested for by mail.  Everything looks official.  Until you look at it closer.  The envelope, redacting my personal information and barcoding, was accurate.  And the return address looked official.  But I thought it was odd, as it did not come from my election commissioner, but some other entity, the Center For Voter Information, a lobbying group located in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.  But to be clear, what they sent me, was NOT a ballot.  It was however, an application for REGISTERED VOTERS to register to vote by mail.  And their effort was quite convenient.  Again, this was for registered voters.

There was a nice letter explaining quite clearly how convenient it would be.  There was a step-by-step instruction, also quite easy to read.  And then, get this… the actual application to request a mail ballot.  Did I say convenient?  It was already filled out with my name and information.  All that I had to do, was sign it and mail it in the envelope that was also provided, to our local board of elections, my return address already on the envelope.  And the postage was PAID!

Make no mistake.  THIS IS NOT VOTER FRAUD.  THIS IS NOT A BALLOT.  And while it came from a lobbying group that had my voting information, they were not privy to the fact that I had already registered to vote by mail.  So, no ballot fraud.  No vote submitted.  No voter fraud.

Example #2

A-HA!!!  Voter fraud and the post office is in on it now too.


I got this a couple weeks later.  With all the problems going on with the postal service, the USPS put out a simple information card, assuring customers that if they planned to use vote-by-mail, you could count on the USPS for your vote to count.

You need to read everything on this card to see, it has nothing to do with registering to vote or supplying ballots.  It is simply how to make sure your vote counts.

Example #3

If this look familiar to Example #1, it does, with a couple of differences, one of those major.  Although I have it redacted, this packet came to “resident” instead of addressed to me personally, though it did have my address on it.  The major difference?  This is an actual voter registration form.  There are two easily readable pages with instructions followed by the application itself, which as in Example #1, is pre-filled out, without my name of course.  But the address has been filled in, and the return envelope is addressed already to the board of elections, and the return address is my address, just without my name.  And this too was pre-paid postage.

Again, THIS IS NOT A BALLOT!  This is not voter fraud.  As annoying as it is to get now the second mailing from the same Center For Voter Information, it is just an effort to get out and vote.  Helping people to register to vote this way is no different than when we apply for a driver’s license, or sign up at some recruitment drive, and it makes no matter where it is done, whether at a mall or a high school.  It is just a registration.

Example #4

Annnnnnddddd…. here comes another mailer from the Center For Voter Registration.  Some slight differences, but still just a registration attempt.  NOT A BALLOT!  This is not voter fraud.  They made this mailing a more compact as the way the literature folds, the whole thing is only one page.  But still completed the same as Example #3.

These mailers are not ballots.  And I believe in most states, early voting (or absentee voting) has not even begun yet.  So unless you are Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, or Wyoming, you definitely have not received a ballot, and if you are one of the mentioned states, it is only possible that Pennsylvania has made the mail in ballots available prior to this post.  In other words, if you are receiving something that looks formal, READ IT!  It is likely not a ballot but rather an attempt to either register you to vote, or to vote by mail.  And that is not fraud.

One final note, about “dead people” receiving stuff like this.  Again, entities like the Center For Voter Registration, do not get death notices, which is why “dead people” still get stuff like this, and other unwanted junk mail including credit card applications.  But you county election board will have the death on record, and that “dead person” will not be able to vote.  And anyone attempting to vote using that identity (if the death has not been processed in time for the election) is committing a federal crime.

Having the right to vote, is a serious right, guaranteed by our Constitution.  So many have died fighting to protect this right.  The least we can do, besides being informed about candidates (I am not a straight ticket voter being an independent, I actually take the time to push each button), and be knowledgable about the options available to complete the process, and recognize when someone is peeing on our shoes and telling us that it is raining.

So with that, get registered to vote.  You still have time depending on your state.  And then do your duty on November 3rd.  If you can vote in person, do it.  If transportation or poll inconvenience is an issue, mail it in.  If you are trying to protect yourself from the health crisis that has killed so many Americans, mail it in.  And for crying out loud, enough with the “if you can stand in line…” memes.  That is both ignorant and arrogant and has no place in the people’s right to vote.

Wow, I was actually able to keep this down the middle.

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