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Diatribe: Melissa Klein Was Not “Forced” To Close Her Bakery.

Klein

Melissa Klein

In my hometown, there was a family-run clothing store on one of the old downtown streets that had been there for many years.  It had survived many changes to the local economy and I never understood how it could compete with larger department stores.  I imagine the family that owned it had deeply held religious convictions and did their best to run their business in accordance with their beliefs.  I’m also quite certain that they obeyed the laws of the village, the county and the state.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin and applied to schools, workplaces and facilities that served the general public known as “public accommodations”.  The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 extended these protections to include gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender citizens in the state.

In January 2013, Sweet Cakes By Melissa refused service to a lesbian couple looking for a wedding cake.  The subsequent fallout included national media attention and a state investigation for anti-gay discrimination which were perpetuated by Klein’s continued actions including baking cakes for an “ex-gay” group.

Klein and her husband, Aaron, are now fighting a $150,000 lawsuit from the state that made her break into tears while discussing her passion for wedding cakes during a September 26th appearance at the recent Values Voter Summit.  She told the audience that the couple was driven out of their small town business after they said it would “violate their religious beliefs” to do business with lesbian couple Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.

Despite the fact that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said there is strong evidence that the couple broke the law, they claim they were “forced” to shut down their bakery.

“I mean quite frankly, they didn’t just harass us, they harassed the other wedding vendors that we did business with.  It cut off our referral system.  We had to shut the shop down.  It’s horrible to see your own government doing this to you.” – Aaron Klein

The fact is Melissa and Aaron Klein were not forced to close Sweet Cakes By Melissa.  They broke the law and, consequently, chose to stop providing services in her community rather than follow the laws obeyed by competitors.  In the time since their refusal of service, the Kleins have become martyrs and marketing tools for the anti-gay agenda and those opposed to marriage equality.  They, and their radical supporters, ridiculously believe that their Constitutional right to freely exercise their religion is being violated.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A few things to consider.

  1. The Kleins are free to believe whatever they want.
  2. There’s no law that says they have to run a bakery.
  3. It’s against state law to discriminate if they choose to do so.

Here’s a video of Melissa’s September 26th performance.  Enjoy the well-timed applause.  I think she put on quite a show.

Poor, poor, Melissa.  Poor crying, sobbing, blithering Melissa.  She can’t be part of any more “amazing special days” because she discriminates against same-sex couples and it’s against the law.  Maybe she should’ve baked Rachel and Laurel’s cake.  Maybe she should’ve been nicer instead of making a federal case.  Maybe she should rethink her religion … the one she’s got now cost her $150k.

Of course, she’ll probably make plenty of bank on her book tour.

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

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Ovation: Bringing New Light To The Sistine Chapel.

Vatican Pope Conclave RulesWe have some unique artwork displayed on the walls of our home.  We try to decorate with art from local artists or family photos in unusual frames.  We’ve bought a couple pieces at auction and we’ve hung other pieces that were given to us as gifts.  But one of our favorite ways to collect art is to scour antique stores.  Finding just the right piece of vintage art can be a rewarding adventure when redecorating.  Sometimes the old frames themselves are architectural masterpieces and can pose as art on their own.

Last weekend we took one of our finds to a local hobby shop to have it worked on.  It is a beautiful watercolor, an original painting on a parchment paper that had been glued and taped to a board and mounted matted inside a simple frame and underneath a very old piece of glass.  The matt around the beautiful scene had at some time in the painting’s history suffered a bit of water damage.  The painting was not harmed and the beautiful old wavy glass that covered it was not harmed in any way.

As the man at the custom framing counter carefully took our find apart and removed the old matt, we discovered that the original watercolor painting had faded quite a bit over the years.  He patiently helped us select a new matt to replace the old one, trying not to update the look and feel of the original work but to restore it to what it must have looked like when the artist or former owner originally hung it on their wall to enjoy in their home.  We selected a frame that is a bit larger and more substantial than the simple frame we had purchased from the antique store but chose the same basic color and style.  All the while we talked about the quality of the painting and how the fact that the colors had faded didn’t detract from its beauty.  In fact, had we not removed the old matt, we would never have known the colors had even faded.

Birth Of The Universe BeliefsMichelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel of Rome have been protected from fading for more than five hundred years, shielded from the elements and protected from millions of visitors each year.  His masterpiece has proven highly resilient and only one small piece is missing … part of the sky in the ceiling panel depicting Noah’s escape from the great biblical flood.  This section of painted plaster fell to the floor following an explosion at a nearby gunpowder factory in 1797.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel will be illuminated by 7,000 LED lights because visitors have been complaining that current lighting is so bad they can’t make out details of the artwork.  Technicians have spent a year testing the new lights, which will be about five times brighter, to make sure they won’t damage Michelangelo’s work.  The new lighting system will cost about $2.4 million, but the Vatican estimates it will be up to eighty times more efficient.

An average increase of 500,000 visitors per year since 2011 is being attributed to the “Francis effect” of the popular new pope.  And, since the Sistine Chapel is the most popular tourist attraction in Vatican City, keeping all those folks happy is good for business.  The one thing the new lights won’t help, however, is all the extra bacteria the additional people bring with them which can damage the artwork.  So a more powerful air-conditioning system is also in the works.

A comparison of our old watercolor and High Renaissance masterpiece by Michelangelo is ludicrous.  Still, although we have no way of knowing for certain, without engaging the services of an art historian or appraiser, the age or value of our old water color, with its new matt and frame we’ll hang it proudly on our wall.  And we’ll have a marvelous story to tell about how we discovered it, restored it and made it our own.  It’s not the Sistine Chapel, but it’s our own little art restoration project and we intend to enjoy it for a long time to come.

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Diatribe: Keysduplicated.com.

Keysduplicated.com logoBoomers like me remember a time when people left their cars in the driveway without locking the doors.  It was a time when communities were composed of neighborhoods in which everyone knew each other.  Men shared tools, women shared recipes and children shared toys.  We had block parties and cook-outs and we looked out for each other.  Many people didn’t even lock the doors to their houses.  Those who did choose to lock their doors would often leave a key hidden nearby for emergencies.

Of course, the keys were never hidden very well.  Most would guess to look for a key underneath a welcome mat, a potted plant or on a nearby ledge above the door jamb so as time wore on specialty hiding places were developed specifically to hide keys outdoors.  Artificial stones with hidden compartments and metal boxes with magnets became popular so that spare keys could be left, hidden for those who inadvertently locked themselves out.

key under welcome matNowadays, few of us leave home without locking our doors.  In fact, newer homes often have elaborate security systems that are constantly monitored with motion sensors, cameras and other electronics that alert the authorities if unauthorized access to the home occurs.  But, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the safety and security of one’s house key.

And now it doesn’t appear that they’re as secure as we might think they are.

Keysduplicated.com is making headlines for demonstrating how simple it is to make a copy of a key to any house, condo or other property using only a smart phone.  By visiting the website on a mobile device, users can take a photo of the front and back of a key, enter a credit card number and have a duplicate key mailed to them in a matter of days.  While the service might be a convenient way for homeowners to order extra keys, it seems to me like a security breach waiting to happen.

Think about all the opportunities during the day for someone to take a photograph of your house keys.  Do you leave them on your desk at the office?  Do they dangle on the side of your purse as you stand in line at the supermarket?  Is it in the console of your car?  Did you give it to the valet at the restaurant last night?  Who else has a copy?  Where do they keep it?  Is it safe?

Keysduplicated.com is careful to explain that they take extreme precautions to ensure the security of their customers’ keys and personal information.

From Keysduplicated

from Keysduplicated.com

They also offer some good advice and commonsense rules than can help prevent unauthorized duplication of your keys.  For example:

  • Keep your keys in a pocket, purse or anywhere else out of sight that you would keep a credit card.
  • Don’t leave your keys unattended.  You don’t leave your credit cards layering around, right?
  • Consider high security locks on your doors with keys that are harder to duplicate.  (If you don’t have a security system, it might be time to get one.)
  • Don’t share pictures of your keys on social media.  Ever.

Our homes are our castles.  They are our refuges and we need to feel safe there.  Our children count on us to make them feel safe there.  Our homes are where the heart is and we have to maintain control of who gets in.

“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” – George Carlin

Keep up with your house keys.  Treat all of your keys like you would an online password.  Many vehicle keys can be copied, too.

Would you use a smart phone app to order duplicate keys?

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Ovation: If You Didn’t Already Love Emma Watson, You Should Now.

Six months ago, Emma Watson was quietly appointed as a United Nations Women Global Goodwill Ambassador.  Last Saturday, the young actress, best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films, spoke as part of the launch of a new He For She campaign, which is aimed at getting men involved in stopping violence against women.  Her eloquent speech, during which she declared herself to be a feminist, is truly moving.

Her emotional and passionate delivery of this well-written speech is certainly effective.  She most certainly connected with her audience, drawing applause at more than one point during her oration.

“If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive,” she said. “If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. … It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals.” – Emma Watson

Unfortunately, in the days following her appearance at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Watson has faced some backlash to her speech, including a threat to leak alleged nude photos that may or may not even exist.

“How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?  Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.” – Emma Watson

I imagine that, having been in the spotlight since a child, she knew that this appearance could make more headlines more than any appearance in any Hollywood blockbuster and she was aware of all the potential consequences of her appearance.  This makes me believe her all the more when she says that she cares and she “feels that it’s her responsibility” to speak out about gender inequality.  I’m pretty sure she can handle it.

“If not me, who? If not now, when?”

If you didn’t already love Emma Watson, you should now.

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Diatribe: Animal Abusers In Black Forest, Colorado, Can Kill Their Animals, Leave Them To Rot In Barns, And Suffer No Consequences.

Black Forest COLast spring we made the difficult decision to “re-home” our horses.  After caring for them ‘round-the-clock for almost eight years it was a very difficult time.  Until they were gone, we had no idea how much the care of our equine friends had become the center of our universe.  Every time we set an alarm clock and each time we scheduled a day off with did so with their care in mind.  They were more than our children … children, eventually, learn where they’re supposed to go to the bathroom and develop an ability to feed themselves … they were our responsibility.  When we chose to bring them into our life, we did so with a complete understanding that their care would, more often than not, come before our comfort and convenience.

Last Friday, a woman renting property in the southern Colorado town of Black Forest learned that not everyone who owns horses understands that vet bills and hay deliveries become priorities.

When one of the German Shepherds that she raises escaped and she followed it to a barn on the property, the woman discovered eight to twelve dead horses … some no more than skeletons … covered in lye and tarps.  Ten more obviously neglected horses were still alive inside the barn, surrounded by manure more than a foot deep and with no food or water in sight.  The woman, who had moved onto the property last August had never seen the horses before.  She immediately called authorities.

Apparently, they belong to another woman who boards them there.

Investigators from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office determined they could not legally seize the living horses because they were not in immediate danger so they gave them water and food.  The woman who owns the horses has been cooperative in making a plan to improve their health and condition and has agreed to clean the property.  She is, unbelievably, not facing charges.

Local residents and animal rights activists are outraged.  And so am I.

To say that the surviving horses are not in immediate danger is utterly ridiculous.  To say that these starving animals, living in a barn surrounded by the dead, are not in danger is appalling.  I understand that domestic animals are treated as property in most U.S. municipalities but public health laws surely prevent the collection and storage of multiple rotting carcasses in one’s barn.

These beautiful animals should have been removed from that property and received proper care not just for their own health but for the well being of the community.  By allowing this neglectful woman to clean the property authorities are, essentially, encouraging her to dispose of all evidence of the horrid crime she has committed.  Additionally, a very clear message is being sent to the community …

Animal abusers in Black Forest, Colorado, can kill their animals, leave them to rot in barns, and suffer no consequences.

Despicable.

Horses are like Potato ChipsI have no tolerance for anyone who mistreats an animal.  Horses in particular are an enormous commitment and a tremendous amount of thought must be involved before a decision to own one can be reached.  People joke that “horses are like potato chips … you can’t have just one”, but the truth is each additional animal exponentially increases the time and other resources required for proper care.  So, unless you own a ranch with a natural water source and enough acreage to support the grazing of many animals, collecting horses is rarely a good idea.

There must be more to the story in Black Forest, Colorado, than the media is reporting.  Surely, the authorities can’t turn a blind eye to that much cruelty, neglect and death under one roof.

As for our horses, we were very fortunate to find a good home where the two of them could stay together, live on a large farm with plenty of land for grazing and running, under the watchful care of an experienced family with a tradition of training, racing and riding horses that allowed us to confidently wish them well.

UPDATE 09/23/14: Owner of Horses Found Dead & Malnourished In Black Forest Faces Charges.

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Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

Ovation: Taking A Break With Rolando Maaba.

Rolando MaabaMy parents have spent quite a bit of time in hospital waiting rooms this week.  Spending long hours waiting and worrying as their close friend was in surgery, they occupied the time with magazines, cable news and solitaire games on Mom’s iPad Mini.  I’m certain that a happy distraction would have been welcome, from time to time, as they waited patiently for news from behind closed doors.

Rolando Maaba is a happy distraction at the North Rockton Avenue campus of Rockford Health Systems in Rockford, Illinois.  While Maaba, 55, works for the hospital as a custodian, spends his break times playing the piano in the hospital’s lobby, hoping to bring some cheer to the relatives and loved ones of patients.

Although he does not read music, for about fifteen minutes each day, Maaba entertains guests with upbeat yet soothing songs that he plays from memory.  Many staff members allegedly believe his music boosts patients’ morale which can sometimes help them heal more effectively!

News of his piano playing at the hospital has spread throughout the community and lead to other opportunities including a weekly appearance at Francesca’s, a local restaurant, where he performs on Wednesday nights.

“The bottom line is I want to be helping guests who are waiting for their relatives after an emergency or a surgery and they’re worried.  When I play, they forget all their worries. – I can help these people be happy. – I hope to continue as long as I’m alive.” – Rolando Maaba.

A native of the Philippines, Maaba moved to Rockford in 1999 and has worked in the environmental services area of Rockford Health System since 2013.  Apparently, he is happy to give up his breaks during the workday to play the piano because having an audience has been emotionally uplifting for him as well.

I’m quite certain my parents would have welcomed a pleasant distraction like a musical janitor during the long hours waiting for news as they sipped hospital coffee while sitting in increasingly-uncomfortable waiting room chairs.

There can never be too many smiles in a hospital or too much music in our lives.

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Like this post? Follow the blog and get involved in discussions! Find “Follow via Email” on the right side of the page.  There’s also an opportunity to follow on Twitter and/or LIKE our page on Facebook so you won’t miss a daily post.  Click on buttons at the end of each post to share on other social media sites, too!  Thanks for reading!

Copyright © 2014 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com

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