Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘opinion


with 3 comments


what is going on
around here
this year
that makes any sense
discernible sense
to informed people
or last year
for that matter
last six years
last hundred years
ask the planet
how it’s going
don’t bother
it’s been telling us all along
but we don’t listen
or we do
but don’t respond
we muddle
word salads as art
successfully sprinkling love
on happy occasions
helping hands
in times of disastrous need
forgetting to follow the money
that is driving calamity
wrongheaded fears
and basic human shortcomings
weaving a fabric
deleterious to the very society
societies wish to preserve
to be anti anti-something or other
becoming a fashion statement
lacking logic
seeking a forest without the trees
assuming the sun is spinning around us
because it looks like it does
day after day
hateful behavior becoming acceptable
why not
it’s what’s been going on
around here



Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2022 at 9:17 am

Disinformation Averse

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I assume that no one intends to become misinformed but it sure seems like there are a lot of people with a propensity to gobble up disinformation like it was candy. Speaking of candy, has it become universally recognized yet that early health campaigns by the sugar industry weren’t on the up and up when it came to weight gain?

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat…

Those of us (me) at Relative Something do our (my) best to avoid spreading false information and always avoid using algorithms to direct my most outrageous posts to the forefront. There are no angry emoji’s added to trigger more engagement and keep eyes on these pages for the sole purpose of gorging on profits.

While I will admit to occasionally enhancing reality when it comes to tales involving our amazing wonderdog, Delilah, I strive to describe our Wintervale adventures with utmost accuracy.

Like that giant tree that slammed to the ground across one of our trails yesterday.

It must have made an enormous crashing sound that probably worried our neighbors, if any of them were out. I love that Cyndie described the location as “cow corner” when she texted me the photo. This is near the one corner of our property where four different owners’ fence lines meet and the pasture diagonal to our land is home to a good-sized herd of cows.

I try not to get tangled in the ongoing, always see-sawing debates over whether coffee is good or bad for health, or eating eggs every day, or one glass of red wine, or reading in low light or on a lighted mobile device. Should gerrymandering be allowed or not? Is pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps really a viable fix for what ails us? Does hypocrisy in a politician reveal a flaw in their trustworthiness? Is the uncontrolled urge to scroll social media apps detrimental to our healthy productivity?

It all depends on who is financing the research, no?

If U.S. lawmakers somehow actually succeed in getting our wealthy citizens to pay a reasonable share of taxes, will it be rich people who have the greatest say in where the funds will be used?

Luckily, there is no confusion about the logic of vaccinating or the risks of uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels for decades on end.

Those topics are totally disinformation averse. Yeah, no.  -_-

You can trust me to be genuine because I know how to make things up that don’t bring me political power or financial gain.

Unbelievable, I know. Like how I needed to risk my fingers prying Delilah’s jaw open to force her to give up the shard of bone she found from what was left of that deer leg as we were about to depart from the lake. Suddenly my hands –all fingers intact– were covered with a stink that triggers a gag reflex and the water had just been shut off in the cabin.

Some things I write actually happened.



Thinking Differently

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I overheard a snippet of the impeachment trial yesterday and an analyst’s opinion afterward. Were any minds being swayed? The general opinion was, no. It didn’t sound like the second day added much to the impression clearly accomplished on the first. Then the radio host referenced the Democrats would finish presenting their case by the end of the day.

The Democrats’ case. Why is it their case?

There was an insurrection against our government fomented by the outgoing President. Why isn’t the prosecution supported by all legislators, regardless of political party? He threatened his Republican Vice President’s life! Why wasn’t the entirety of the GOP incensed by this?

The trial should have no party component. Imagine that. Just Senators holding the President accountable for his actions to instigate the riot and his inaction to mitigate the situation as it was raging at its worst. Where was the law and order President when his supporters were beating police with flag poles? He ultimately told the rioters he loved them.

The events of January 6 at the US Capital should obliterate any distinction between the two political parties.

I regret that the prosecution felt the need to bludgeon us so repeatedly with the evidence. One time through with the chronology of the facts would have been plenty. Saying the same things over and over again does not make a point more convincing. If entrenched politicians won’t waver from a partisan position, save us all some time and just vote on the articles of impeachment.

Get it over with and let’s move on to the next priority that deserves congressional attention.

Imagine a dream of politicians debating issues without constraints of political party affiliation. ‘Us versus us’, instead of ‘us versus them.’ What if we were all in this together instead of one half automatically opposing whatever the other half suggests?

Imagine a world of unicorns and rainbows. It would be just as productive.

An exercise of thinking different can be interesting, but the amount of change it will produce is hard to measure. My gut tells me real change is unlikely.

My heart tells me to keep thinking differently, regardless.



Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2021 at 7:00 am

Especially Exhausting

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I suspect people around the world have already received news of the Trump-inspired mob storming our nation’s capital yesterday. It brought me to tears. It felt like a disaster to our democracy that can’t be undone, even though it accomplished nothing in terms of the mob’s assumed goal of disallowing a peaceful transfer of power to happen.

What can’t be undone is the obliteration of our ability to profess our style of government is above the violent disruptions common in many other parts of the world. The 45th President has successfully trashed everything about our reputation as a world-leading country.

Luckily, the brief insurrection was pushed back, out of the capital and off the grounds by the time darkness fell. Unfortunately, I doubt we will recover any respectability for decades, if ever.

By the time I was ready to turn in for the night, there seemed to be a few glimmers of hope that some of the Republicans who have been enabling the dumpster-fire of a President for years were finally making timid statements that hint of a realization of the error of their ways.

In a year of unprecedenteds, I found myself actually listening for the first time in my life to a few speeches from the floor of the house and senate chambers after they reconvened. They actually sounded sane to me! They also sounded like there was a growing momentum to drop the fomenting of election fraud claims. Ya think!?

The whole afternoon was especially exhausting. The day of certifying the electoral votes historically was only noticed by a small number of geeks who live for all things political and the press whose job it is to cover it. Yesterday, it grabbed the attention of the nation and beyond.

Why? For only one reason. The delusions of a lunatic. He is the main reason, but also fully culpable are the political fools who enabled him and the hoards of citizens who choose to believe the lies professed by him.

I guess it should be no surprise that it’s all so bleeping exhausting.



Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2021 at 7:00 am

My Reaction

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Relief. Thinking about the rest of the world seeing we had chosen someone other than Donald Trump. Imagining the possibility of not being bombarded every single day with some new outrageous thing the President had said or done. A television analyst commented about the prospect of having headspace freed from the daily barrage.

That would be a relief.

There remains a fair amount of trepidation over the fact that 70 million people voted for four more years of what we just endured. Whatever portion of those voters were actual believers of the ruse pushed forth, they don’t just disappear. How many of them will be open to being deprogrammed by actual verifiable facts?

The celebrations that spontaneously erupted after multiple sources called the election for Biden are a natural reaction to everything that the world has endured since the GOP chose the course of their candidate for 2016. For everything that has happened since, is happening now, or will transpire in the days ahead, I believe we see evidence that “you reap what you sow.”

Our beliefs and actions have consequences.

Those who became emboldened to spout unsavory opinions and blatantly espouse racist ideologies should not be surprised to find a backlash against their actions.

In the aftermath of the style of governing of the last four years, all the supporters who now want to distance themselves from responsibility for what transpired are saddled by the fact of being guilty by association. All the members of the Republican party who remained silent while outrageous and unethical words or deeds were unleashed are culpable.

My philosophy is that we need to love them all, but my love for them does not allow for unsupported false accusations to which they may choose to cling.

May truth prevail.

May reality triumph over fantasy.

May wisdom overrule idiocy.

May we survive the interim period between the November election and the January inauguration during this global pandemic.

May things get no worse before they begin to finally get better.

No more mocking. No more bullying. No more hidden tax returns.

I am hoping for some ember of possibility the two political parties will work together to help the people of this country under the new President. Will it be possible to pass meaningful legislation? It will take cooperation.

I love cooperation. I’m hoping for unprecedented amounts of it in the near future and beyond.


Written by johnwhays

November 8, 2020 at 10:53 am

RS Interview

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Relative Something just landed a scoop interview with *the* John W. Hays delving into a variety of topics he was willing to discuss with us. Out of respect for his personal privacy, we are leaving out the questions he declined to answer. Here are some selected excerpts where we talked about the pandemic…

RS: How are you holding up under the stresses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic?

JWH: Hanging on by a thread? I say that as a question because, even though I am coping rather well, it feels a bit shaky much of the time. I am acutely aware of a diminished buffer between my sensible self and my flip-my-lid self as I go about my days. A total meltdown looms large on the fringes of every day. It’s just grace that has allowed me to keep from blowing a gasket over the simplest of foibles, like a napkin slipping from my lap or inadvertently catching my toe on a perfectly flat floor surface and suffering that universal “D’oh!” feeling.

RS: Have you heard of anyone in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus began impacting the United States?

JWH: Not at the closest level, despite several reported situations and symptoms that triggered reasons to be tested. None of those have become known positives that caused me concern about a need I should self-quarantine as a precaution. There have been some reports of second-person or third-person cases, and just recently dear friends in another part of the world who have the virus, so it doesn’t feel very far away from me. I still take my temperature every morning and log how I’m feeling on the COVID Near You site. So far, so lucky, is the way I interpret my days of being spared.

John & Mike socially distanced in the great outdoors, autumn forest bathing.

RS: Do you ever think about how the last seven months might have been different if there hadn’t been this global pandemic?

JWH: Maybe in a few fleeting retrospective moments, but really, that’s a luxury that serves no purpose. The harsh realities we are coping with every day leave little space in my head to go there. Equally, it has sapped much of my energy toward looking ahead to plan anything in the future. Despite my attempts to remain as positive as possible, I all too easily fall into a “what’s the point” despondency about making any plans until the virus is under control.
Luckily, I have Cyndie’s precious energies enriching my life with her willingness to make some things happen. With masks on our faces, we have achieved several socially distanced get-togethers with some key people who have helped to keep me from becoming a complete shut-in hermit on days I’m not at the day-job.

RS: Will the pandemic affect how you vote this year?

JWH: We already voted! So, no. For the previous election, Cyndie was going to be out of town, so she requested an absentee ballot. It was so flippin’ convenient that I ordered one for myself. It was a no-brainer for us to go that route again for this election, except, with the very noticeable disruptions in our Postal Service recently –including delaying the delivery of our chicks, which cost the life of one of them– Cyndie chose to drive to the home of our township clerk to hand-deliver our ballots.
I don’t know that they’ll be properly counted, but I’m satisfied that we did our part to get them there. We’ve been reciting a mantra of “Fifty-Blue-States” to envision a landslide so obvious that a certain person finally gets the message he has to accept the results. However, just last night it occurred to me that 50 blue states would be so unbelievable it would serve as a justifiable reason to question the results.
I just hope the popular vote is what determines the outcome and not an electoral college or the Supreme Court.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Supreme Court could put an end to the pandemic? Declare the coronavirus unconstitutional!

RS: Hard to object to that.



Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

Trigger Words

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It’s so transparent, the malevolent words inserted as a preface to the targets of his greatest fear in any given moment. It’s a glaringly obvious tactic that is an essential weapon in every middle school bully’s arsenal.

“…radical Democrats!,” he emphasizes, striving to make them universally synonymous.

“…China virus,” he repeats in hope of deflecting blame as far away from his shoulders as possible.

He wants everyone to hear these trigger words, sympathizers, and nemeses alike.

He wants the descriptors to provoke. Who wouldn’t? I’d like to win the middle school war of words, too. Then you wouldn’t need to actually proceed to the playground fistfight that is the next result, if it came to that.

When I am tired, behind the wheel in the long commute at the end of a grueling day at work, and a soundbite plays on the radio before I can react to mute it, I am triggered to anger over the disingenuous conflations that sorrowfully smear the citizens of this democracy whose constitution he took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend.

“…anti-American protestors…” he rails while conspicuously and purposefully avoiding mention of the victims of the racially unbalanced excessive use of force by white police officers across the country that is sparking marches in the streets here and around the world by such wide cross-sections of populations as to be beyond grouping any more specific than “citizens.”

I know that those citizens are not being “anti-American.” I understand that he is tarnishing the masses to bolster his own weak attempts to garner favor with an outdated mindset that is in lock-step agreement with the false portraits he is ruthlessly painting.

Imagine, if we could only see what his other hand is doing to the pocketbooks of the 99% while he keeps all eyes and ears on his latest tweetstorm or disinformationbook post.

I urge all voting citizens of the United States of America to look beyond the partisan rhetoric, be smarter than any social media misdirections, and give your attention to the question of where the money is going. What is the national deficit? How will you afford health care and housing and transportation when an unmanaged pandemic is raging? How will our government address the maintenance needs of our aging infrastructure in the face of a changing climate?

Vote sensibly. Don’t fall for the trigger words our middle-schooler-in-chief is trying to sell.

There are blue skies out there if we can find a way to all reach them together.

That’s the place our chickens want to go, I can tell by the way they all look at it when they settle down on the roost at dusk.

Well, that is, except for the ones that are determined to perch upon the highest possible spot they can fit on for now…



Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

Unprecedented Battle

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We are in the midst of a great challenge unimagined by many that has unleashed anxious moments and feelings of fear about the unknown during these trying times in an unprecedented battle with an invisible scourge that has people staying home and washing their hands to do their parts in this historic period of incredible sacrifice by those on the front lines in essential jobs that require endless supplies of PPE and forced some families to isolate individual members in basements and closed restaurants and schools causing farmers to lose markets and food shelves to struggle to keep up with demand.

I don’t know why my inner cynic experiences such a cringe reaction at the tiring opening qualifier to almost every human interest story on the news and corporate commercials that are no longer trying to sell anything except some assurance that they are helping consumers and customers during this trying time.

There is another view that I find more satisfying. It’s the long view in reference, yet with the immediate moment as a focus. There is always something challenging, potentially life-threatening, or life-disrupting at play in the world. Among the ongoing calamities in the world, there are people who are killed and people who deal with it and forge onward.

People react to the situation and set about seeking ways to cope. They do creative things like host online cocktail parties or step outside en masse to sing songs. We find ways to deal with the current realities and get on with life, including mourning those who don’t survive.

From this perspective, there is no need for an unending onslaught of messages about “this unprecedented battle” we are in. Life is an everyday battle. There were others before COVID-19 and there will be others after it.

Might as well buck up and put one foot in front of the other –in some cases under the stay-at-home orders, metaphorically– and cope …during “these trying times.”



Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Weak Claim

with 2 comments

Just my opinion…

Claiming innocence when overtly behaving in a spiteful, mean-spirited manner that is so blatantly transparent to the entire world of intelligent people is sad enough for any individual, but downright criminal and deplorable for a head of state.

Who would do such a thing in today’s world? Can you think of any world leader who would boldly and unabashedly stoop to such boorish behavior?

… [the virus] comes from China.

He’s just stating the fact. Over and over again.

It’s a fact. Whaaat? What’s wrong with that?

If you don’t see what’s wrong and are able to allow yourself to ride on that greasy train and cling to that embarrassingly weak claim of innocence, then you are fooling yourself. You are not fooling the rest of the world.

Such behavior adds importance to my yearning to send love to everyone in the world. I don’t want to limit my love to only those receiving or sympathetically witnessing this kind of abuse, but also those who find justification in supporting said abuse. I love the people, if not the behaviors and beliefs.

But wait, the pandemic flu of 1918 gets referred to as the Spanish Flu. What about Zika Virus? Ebola? They are all named after the places where they originated.

There you go. You have a perfect justification for the heavy use of the term in official press briefings and written government communications.

Except you don’t. It’s called “diplomacy,” wherein you respectfully respond to international and domestic public feedback by changing your behavior. To forge ahead and even double-down on the usage is a total callous disregard for the responsibilities and aura of importance for the highest office in the country.

When the world is no longer in the midst of the financial calamity extraordinaire that is reverberating from the embarrassingly delayed, under-prepared governmental response to this scientifically-predicted pandemic situation, feel free to embrace that descriptor with all your mean-spirited resolve.

Maybe by that time, people will no longer recognize the subversive message oozing out with each repeated usage. That tilt of the head. That subtle emphasis on the word, “China.”


In a hundred years, go ahead and call it the Chinese Flu.

While untold thousands are currently suffering and loved ones are dying all over the world, maybe have a little respect and use the identifier the rest of the leaders of the world see fit to use.

Your sanctimonious innocence over the factual correctness of the geographic origin is weak, at best.

<end rant>



Other Shadows

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On Monday, I posted one of the better shadow pictures from my photo-taking walk with Delilah over the weekend. For comparison, here are a few other shadows that didn’t come through as well as I would have liked.

I’m not sure what it is about each one that has me feeling they just missed my elusive and intangible ideal, but there is something they lack.

I knew the shadow in this second image was less intense, but I hoped it might still give me something to work with toward a final reward. I’m afraid it fell short.

Almost. Maybe. Not quite.

There is too much going on in that last one for me, none of which nailed it in terms of the individual areas of focus, less so as a whole.

Still, it was plenty of fun trying. Thank goodness I wasn’t shooting film that required developing. It wouldn’t have been worth the wait.

Speaking of developing, yesterday’s big development for me was the online publishing of a commentary piece I submitted to the local Twin Cities publishing staple, Star Tribune.

The editor accepted it for their “online extra” Opinions feature, meaning it would not appear in the printed paper edition. That’s okay with me, as paper readers wouldn’t be able to provide the immediate comments that the e-edition allows. A wise author might stop reading the online comments after the most rewarding appreciation showed up, but it’s a little like not being able to turn away from the sight of a wreck.

I’ll take the good with the bad. It’s more like real life.

I started writing that piece for a Relative Something post, but by the time I finished, felt it deserved a crack at the Strib. Since they seem to agree, I hope you will read it on their site by clicking on the image above. I think they gave it a better presentation than I would have. (The picture was their doing [and I’m very happy with it].)

Feel free to comment, either there, or here. You can tell the world if you think I just missed, or I nailed it.






Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2020 at 7:00 am