It goes without saying (despite my doing so here) that the choices we make affect our lives, for better or worse.

Over the last several months, I’ve thought a lot about the choices I’ve made in my life and the road down which those choices have led me.

Hawaii

This October will mark 19 years I’ve lived in Hawaiʻi.

When I came here, it was meant to be temporary. I had finished college a year earlier and was… drifting. With no plan, no career path, and no real motivation to speak of, I had remained in the college town to stay close to friends. I disliked the thought of returning to Kansas. After a year of life as a college grad, living in a college town, and working at the local equivalent of “Best Buy” and things looked bleak for me.

Add to that a devastating end to a painful and complicated relationship and I decided, quite suddenly, that it was time to get the fuck out. But to where?

My best friend from college was, at the time, completing his Masters Degree at the University of Hawaiʻi and my dad, seeing that I needed a dramatic change, suggested I go there. It seemed like the best option at the time. So after several months in the midwest to save up some money, I packed two bags, took the one-way ticket my father got for me, and moved to the most remote spot in the entire world.

Though it was a rocky start and I never really intended to stay more than a year, it slowly became home. My home. I got regular therapy (which I desperately needed), found my “calling”, and came to truly appreciate how special this place is.

Without that random suggestion from my father all those years ago, there’s no telling the direction my life might have taken.

Career

While money is certainly nice to have and I like buying things with it (books, movies, computers, hats, cameras, etc.), my job-related choices have never primarily driven by salary.

Long ago, not long after I started my first job, I realized that I never wanted to work in a job that I hated. Or didn’t care about. There are 120 hours in the five-day work week. A third is spend, theoretically, sleeping. A third is spend at your job and the last third is ideally free for whatever. Put another way, one typically spends half their waking hours at work. It has always seemed to me that its at least as important to enjoy your job as how much you get paid doing it.

Since I made the career move from Systems Administration (computers) to politics, I’ve jumped around from job to job every few years. In none of those instances did the salary impact my decision to leave or take a job.

In 2018, I left a comfortable and well-paying job in the Governor’s Office to try my hand at campaign management. Doing so was a big risk, but I felt it was time to move on to more interesting, challenging work.

Shortly after that campaign ended, I finished my Masters’ Degree and decided to venture out on my own as a “consultant”. Another big risk.

The last few years have been extremely challenging financially. I recently declared bankruptcy as a result. Despite the bankruptcy, there remains a part of me that is happy with the choices I’ve made and the experiences those choices led to.

Still… the last few years have been challenging and I can’t help but think about what might have been if I had stayed in the Governor’s Office.

Freedom

If you’re at all paying attention, you’re hearing an almost constant shouting of these efforts as “unconstitutional,” “un-American,” or an infringement on “personal freedom.”

Well, if you know me you won’t be surprised by my opinion; all that is complete nonsense. No one’s rights are being taken away. Your refusal to wear a mask (or refusal to have your children wear a mask) is not unconstitutional. It’s just not.

In most jurisdictions (I’m assuming) there are laws that prevent people from walking around naked. “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is pretty standard across the country. Yet you don’t hear about folks bitching about their inability to go to the grocery store topless.

And in most school districts (again, I’m going on my experience) kids cannot attend school without first receiving a handful of required vaccinations. Yet until very recently, we never heard anyone bitch about that.

As the country is going to hell in a handcart, there are a disturbing number of people who seem to want to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. And if some law or policy prevents them, they pitch a fit. They scream about “personal freedom.”

What I find equally amusing and disturbing is the chant of “my body, my choice” from anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. I suspect most, though not all, of them are also vehemently anti-choice when it comes to abortion. That they see no irony or hypocrisy in themselves is further evidence that our public educational systems are failing across the country. Critical thinking is out the window, lying crumpled on the sidewalk.

Consequences

That our civil and political discourse is devolving into, essentially, “I can do and say and think whatever I want and no one can tell me I’m wrong or force me to stop” on the one side. And on other, folks trying to be reasonable. Yes, I acknowledge that may be a cruel and unfair assessment, but that is, in my experience, what it seems to boil down to.

None of these folks, best as I can tell, understand that choices have consequences. And that’s what annoys them. If you don’t want to wear a mask or get vaccinated, fine. But that choice comes with consequences. You want to walk around naked? Ok, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be arrested. You don’t want to pay for car insurance? Fine, but getting caught could end up in a suspension of your drivers license.

Freedom is about choice. But choice comes with consequences. The first amendment doesn’t protect assholes from being punched in the face. Though punching someone in the face also has consequences. And it doesn’t necessarily protect you from being denied service from a private business. It means the government, within reason, cannot lock you up for speaking your mind.

Too many today seem to forget (or never learned) that bit. Even with “freedom,” one cannot act without consequences.

In life too, as I am constantly reminded, the choices we make have an impact. Both on ourselves and, potentially, on others. Life family.

Let this serve, maybe unnecessarily, as a reminder that what we do, what we say, comes with consequences.

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On the Appointment of Dan Gluck to the ICA

On July 8, 2021, Governor Ige chose his nominee, Dan Gluck, for the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) from a list of nominees provided to him by the Judicial Selection Commission over a month earlier.

At the time Governor Ige made his announcement, there was little fanfare or dissent that came with it. The opposition to the Governor’s appointee wouldn’t begin to show itself until more than a week later.

Then, following a rising tide of opposition and some political grandstanding, the Senate Committee on Judiciary voted 4-3 to reject the nomination.

I didn’t engage in the debate waging on social media. Nor did I submit testimony either in support or opposition. Rather I chose to be a spectator, trying to build clarity in my own thoughts on the subject.

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The meaning of life and more.

Thoughts on 43

Today I turn 43.

I’m marking the occasion in usual fashion, with one exception. I chose to spend the few days leading up to and following my birthday staying with friends in the remote volcanic forest landscape of Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaii. Perhaps its unsurprising that this is the first travel of any kind I’ve done the end of 2019 before COVID-19 forced a shuttering of the world.

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"operating within the confines of a capitol closed to the public amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic"

It has been almost two weeks since the legislature concluded “sine die.” In that time there have been a handful of news stories that attempt to sum up this year’s session. For my part, as the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session recedes in the rear view, I’ve contemplated my own assessment of the session.

While there are certainly bright spots worth highlighting, from my perspective the legislature was as it always is. A colossal disappointment.

Legislators, operating within the confines of a capitol closed to the public amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, were largely sheltered from a public that usually would be bustling around the building. Though there were arguably exceptions, legislators did “the people’s work” while ignoring them.

I’ll get to that. First, the highlights.

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The effort to move on these two pieces of legislation has nothing to do with ousting Speaker Saiki.

Anyone who pays attention to local politics of the legislative variety is aware of efforts to force House Leadership to come to the aid of working families.

Civil Beat reported earlier this week that a number of labor leaders sent a letter to Speaker Saiki urging him to take swift action on two bills currently stuck in committee. SB614 would exempt unemployment benefits from the Hawaii income tax, while SB676 would raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour at the start of 2022.

Many unions and advocates for working families have been pushing for these bills since January, with little effect. But with the end of session fast approaching, time grows short for these bills to advance.

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