Movie Theaters Will Have To Adapt To The Changing Times

   Movies.
   That word alone conjures up all sorts of thoughts, memories, and emotions. Drama, comedy, action, science fiction, fantasy, romance… They allow us to escape from our everyday lives so that we can be in other places, times, and worlds. We can even be other people for a little while if we want.
   Kind of magical when you think about it.
   As to how we watch movies, there have been significant changes over the years, especially lately. Before the existence of television, going to movie theaters is what people did to watch a film, whether it was to see a big blockbuster or a low key drama. To watch a movie, you went to a theater. Grand movie palaces were built to enhance the experience. And before the main feature began, there were often news pieces and sometimes cartoons because remember, no one had TV’s at home.
   Then television was invented, and before long, virtually every household had a TV. People could watch the news at home so that the movie theaters ended up dropping news segments before the main feature. Same thing happened to the pre-feature cartoon shorts. Kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV instead.
   But movie theaters still persevered and were quite popular. People enjoyed seeing films on the big screen. It could be a nice escape. Get out of the house for a little while. Perhaps go on a date at the movies. VCR’s and cable TV arrived on the scene after which some people began to worry about the future of movie theaters in general. But watching a movie on the big screen was still quite popular.
   These days, options for home entertainment have advanced greatly. Televisions have much higher resolutions now than those of the past, and most people have TV’s with significantly larger screens as compared to 15 years ago. In addition, streaming services (I’m talking about things like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, On Demand, etc) have exponentially expanded the number of shows and movies people have access to at home. The result has been that (even before the pandemic), people on average have been going to movie theaters less frequently as compared to the past, and a growing number stopped going altogether. When the COVID Pandemic hit. With the risk catching COVID being such a concern and increased restrictions, movie theater attendance plummeted. For a while, the number of new movies being created also went down dramatically. Many people got even more used to watching movies at home.
   Now let’s be honest, with streaming services and high quality televisions, it’s really convenient to just relax and watch a movie in the comfort of your own home. Stretch out on the sofa or recliner and watch the movie whenever you want, whether that’s at 9 in the morning or 12:30 at night. And if you want to grab something to sip on or need to go to the bathroom, you simply press pause. Yep, it’s really nice. That’s why even before COVID, a growing number of people pretty much stopped going to movie theaters. And for those still going, on average, people were attending movie theaters less frequently.
   In 2022, with vaccines being widely available, movie theaters hoped to see a big resurgence in movie theater attendance. While it has certainly increased as compared to the height of the Pandemic, the numbers are still below 2019 levels. Another trend being seen is that people are more likely to go to the theater to watch a big blockbuster movie as compared to a smaller drama, comedy, or independent film. With the latter types of movies, people are more likely to wait and watch them at home.
   So what is the future of movie theaters. A number of smaller movie theater companies and independently owned theaters closed. Many were already struggling so that the Pandemic finished them off. The major movie theater chains have reported financial losses in 2022 and have shuttered some of their locations. While I don’t think movie theaters are going to disappear in the foreseeable future, there will be changes in this new reality.
   Home entertainment options will continue to improve with advancing television technology and widespread streaming services. Movie theaters will have to accept that and the fact that a significant number of people don’t go to movie theaters anymore and that those who do, often go less frequently than in the past. Tactics theater companies may attempt to try to deal with the situation could include things like increased marketing, theater improvements (perhaps focus on theaters with fewer but larger screens), expanded concessions (like maybe alcohol sales and greater food options), more comfortable seating, showing live events (such as concerts, sports, etc), and membership programs for discounts. Even with these efforts, I think the total number of movie theater screens needed will be less as a percentage of the population as compared to 20 or 30 years ago. In order to stay profitable, companies will need to figure out how many movie theater screens are actually needed in an area; otherwise, if they have too many, they will lose money. There may also be more focus on attracting people to the blockbusters while just accepting that a growing number of films such as dramas, comedies, romances, and independent films are going to go straight to steaming services and have no theatrical release at all.
   In order to survive, movie theater companies will have to adapt to the changing environment and accept that home entertainment with large, high resolution televisions and expansive streaming services are the future. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Undemocratic, Closeminded Efforts By Republicans Threaten US Democracy

October 30, 2022
   I’m going to begin this by telling you that I’m an Independent politically. I don’t belong to any political party.  That said, I’m also going to tell you that this country cannot afford Republican control over governments at any level. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
   In many ways, the Republican Party is now the party of Trump, a party that is willingly following a narcissistic, lying authoritarian figure. Despite the fact that overwhelming evidence shows the 2020 election was fair and that Joe Biden legitimately won, the majority of Republicans believe Trump’s lies instead. And a significant percentage are actively promoting those lies. Many Republicans have gone so far as to push for laws and policies that are clearly undemocratic. Want some examples? Here you go: In several states, Republicans have proposed bills that would allow state legislatures to overturn election results and allot electoral votes themselves, literally ignoring the will of the voters. There are also proposals by Republicans that would make it very difficult for election officials to deal with partisan poll watchers who are intimidating and interfering with voters and election workers. Republicans in numerous states are also trying to get Trump following election deniers into positions (like secretary of state) where they would oversee future elections, thus increasing their ability to interfere with (and possibly overturn) legitimate election results they don’t like. These are not exaggerations. Republicans around the nation are also trying to make voting more difficult because they are afraid high voter turnout may increase the chances of Democrats winning. Tactics include things like making voter registration much more difficult, enacting stricter voter ID laws, and trying to limit or eliminate early voting as well as mail in voting. What’s especially disturbing is how these efforts are particularly targeting people (such as African Americans) who are more likely to vote for Democrats. Again, I’m not exaggerating here. I wish I was, but I’m not. This is really happening.
   Also consider this. The Jan 6th, 2021 assault on the US Capitol Building was a terrible event that was caused by outrageous, dangerous, false rhetoric being spread by numerous people. Whatever one’s political beliefs, understanding what happened and why it happened is vitally important. Yet most Republicans oppose Congress investigating the events and are continuing to blindly follow the dangerous rhetoric that led to the assault in the first place.
   Want some more examples of why we can’t afford Republican control over governments these days? Here you go. Republicans are actively attacking female reproductive rights despite the fact that most Americans are pro choice. Some Republicans even want to ban abortion nationwide. Around the country, Republicans are also pushing for very anti-LGBTQ policies and laws that blatantly discriminate against Queer people. The “don’t say gay” laws being promoted in states around the country are examples of this. Such laws are targeting LGBTQ youth, individuals who already have to deal with far too much intolerance and prejudice from others. Many LGBTQ minors live in homes where they face discrimination from their own parents. This is why it’s common for many Queer students to turn to teachers and school counselors for support and help. But this important resource is being taken away from many due to “don’t say gay” laws. With these laws, many teachers and counselors will be unable or too afraid to help. This in turn will increase the suicide rates of LGBTQ youth.
   The behavior of much of the Republican Party is the sort of thing that leads to authoritarianism and even full blown dictatorships. History is full of examples. Look at what happened in Germany during the 1920s and 30s when people chose to ignore facts, evidence, and even decency in order to blindly follow a brutal, narcissistic dictator instead.
   Whatever your political beliefs or party affiliation, people need to speak out against the lies spread by Trump and others. It’s time to stand up for democracy, honesty, decency, tolerance, kindness, open-mindedness, and the United States Constitution. We must vote in elected officials who do the same because if people don’t, future historians may look back on this time as the beginning of the end of American democracy.

Human Caused Climate Change Is Here And Must Be Battled Now

10-4-22
   Human Caused Climate Change is here!
   It’s too late to prevent it.
   It’s here whether we like it or not! And worse yet is that human activity brought this on.
   That’s right, it’s our fault.
   Human activity, particularly the extensive use of fossil fuels for energy on top of widespread destruction of forests, has resulted in rising CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1850, the CO2 level was 280 ppm (parts per million) while in November, 2020, it was 415 ppm. That is a major increase in atmospheric CO2, which along with other gases, has created a greenhouse effect that is warming the planet.
   What makes the situation even more tragic is that scientists have been warning everyone about this for decades. But most people ignored it.
   Well, it can’t be ignored any longer!
   The effects of Climate Change are affecting us now.
   For example, glaciers and the polar ice caps are melting at an alarmingly rapid rate, thus raising ocean levels, which in turn leads to more coastal flooding (especially when big storms come through). Many mountain snowpacks are getting smaller in winter (and often melting sooner), in large part due to the fact that more precipitation is falling as rain (especially at lower elevations) instead of snow for more of the year. This means that water problems will likely worsen for areas that rely heavily on the spring melt for their drinking water and agriculture, places like California and India.
   Climate Change is also affecting weather patterns, the result of which is that some areas are experiencing greater numbers of more intense storms while others are getting significantly drier (so that drought conditions are occurring more frequently and often with increased severity in these regions). This is why we are seeing worsening wildfire problems in various parts of the world such as California and Australia. Both of these places were already prone to wildfires, but as these regions become hotter and drier, they are experiencing wildfires that are greater in terms of number and intensity.
   Climate Change is also affecting tropical coral reefs around the world. Increasing air temperatures are warming the oceans’ water. When the water gets too warm, coral expels algae that was living in its tissues. This turns the coral white in color (also known as coral bleaching). In this state, the coral is under stress and at greater risk of dying.
   Now consider the following: as the conditions of the planet continue to be adversely altered (by human actions), there is a greater chance of more animal species going extinct.
   Because of us humans.
   These are just some of the effects we are seeing from Human Caused Climate Change.
   Now, it’s up to all of us to work together in battling it to try to minimize the damage.
Each one of us must make changes in our daily lives to be more pro-environment. Examples include using public transportation, carpooling, driving vehicles with better fuel efficiency, recycling, decreasing use of plastic (take permanent reusable bags to the grocery store, and if you use plastic bags, take them back to the store for recycling (plastic bags can’t be put in curbside recycling in most places)), and educate yourself. Spread the word. Put pressure on businesses, governments, and organizations to become more pro-environment.
   In addition to these, vote!
   Vote for elected officials who acknowledge Human Caused Climate Change and are taking action to fight it.
   Vote out Climate Change deniers.
   If we all take action, we can slow Climate Change down and minimize the damage.
   But we must act now! 

https://climate.nasa.gov/

http://ocean.si.edu/through-time/ancient-seas/sea-level-rise

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html#:~:text=When%20water%20is%20too%20warm,and%20are%20subject%20to%20mortality.

The Milgram Experiment Has Ramifications Today

12-8-21
   Ever hear of the Milgram Experiment?
   It was a study conducted in the 1960s at Yale University by psychologist Stanley Milgram. The purpose was to see how far people would go in obeying an authority figure, and it’s results were frightening.
   Participants were selected via an ad that was put out in a newspaper looking for volunteers to be part of a study that they were told involved learning. They were all men between the ages of 20 and 50 whose jobs ranged from unskilled labor to professional. They did not realize the real purpose of the experiment was to see how obedient they would be to an authority figure.
   The set up was as follows. There was an experimenter who would wear a white lab coat and two other individuals. One of these was the volunteer and the other actually working for Stanley Milgram but was pretending to be a volunteer. These two individuals drew straws to decide who would be the teacher and who would be the learner (this was rigged so that the volunteer would always be the teacher). The volunteer was told that the learner had been given word pairs to remember. As the teacher, he would then be expected to say a word to which the learner was supposed to choose the correct match out of four choices. Furthermore, every time the learner made a mistake, the volunteer was to administer an electric shock and that every time the learner made a mistake, the shock would increase by 15 volts. There were two rooms that were connected via microphone. In one was the experimenter and the volunteer (the teacher) while in the other room was the learner. The experimenter was sitting at a desk while wearing his white lab coat, and the volunteer was at another desk that held the device which he believed would deliver the shocks to the learner. The first switch said 15 volts, and each of the following switches increased by 15 so that the last switch said 450 volts. The volunteer had been told that each switch would send a shock of electricity to the learner whom the volunteer believed was sitting in a chair with electrodes attached. In reality, the learner had no such electrodes.
   Once a session started, the learner purposely made lots of mistakes and had a prearranged script that he would use as the voltage increased. If the volunteer questioned the experimenter about what he was doing, the experimenter would prod him to continue up to 4 times.
   Prod 1: Please continue.
   Prod 2: The experiment requires you to continue.
   Prod 3: It is absolutely essential that you continue.
   Prod 4: You have no other choice but to continue.
   At 75 volts, the learner would start the scream in pain. From 150 to 330 volts, the learner would protest with increasing intensity and complain of his heart bothering him. At 330 volts, the learner would refuse to go on, and after 330, he would go silent.
   The results were truly frightening. All the volunteers continued up to 300 volts, and 65% of them went all the way to 450 volts. Think about that. After the learner went silent, the volunteers would have no idea whether the learner was unconscious or possibly even dead, yet 65% of the participants continued asking questions and inflicting shocks up until the maximum 450 because the authority figure in the form of the experimenter told them to.
   Combining the strong tendency many people have to follow authority figures with devotion that has gone too far frequently leads people to go along with and contribute to distortions, misinformation, and wrongs to a dangerous degree. Authoritarian leaders have relied on this throughout history, often adding fear into the mix as well.
   In the United States today, Donald Trump is an example of someone using these types of tactics in his quest to hold as much power as he can get away with. Many people have shown a willingness to a severe degree to follow his authority, even when he is outrageously in the wrong. The evidence that Trump lost the 2020 election is beyond overwhelming. He lost fair and square. Yet millions of Americans and numerous Republican politicians continue to go along with and even spread Trump’s lies about the outcome. A number of individuals who were in the mob that stormed the United States Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021 have openly said they did so because they believed Donald Trump wanted them to. While Trump doesn’t use fear to the severe degree that people like Joseph Stalin did, he does use it in ways such as trying to make his followers afraid of immigrants and of those who disagree with him politically. A number of Republican politicians continue going along with him because they fear Trump will turn on them and get his followers to vote them out of office.
   It’s scary to see these tendencies going on in the 21st century, but unfortunately they are. People need to open their minds and think for themselves. They should get information from a variety of different, independent, reputable sources and not just from those that tell them what they want to hear. People should strive to learn about what a leader is really trying to do so that they can make informed decisions about whether they agree with that political leader or not.

Much Of The Republican Party Is Going Down A Dark, Undemocratic Path

   Liz Cheney’s defeat in the Wyoming Republican primary is yet another example of the dark, undemocratic path much of the Republican Party is going down. And what’s worse is that this trend is threatening American democracy itself.
   In terms of policy and how she voted in Congress, Liz Cheney and I would disagree on a great many things, but I admire the fact she put defending American democracy and the United States Constitution above her political career or loyalty to a political party. She is one of the few Republicans willing to stand up to Trump and fight back against his lies and threats to our democratic values. She realizes the importance of democracy and the Constitution. So the fact that Republicans in Wyoming would vote so strongly against her reveals yet again how dark and twisted much of the Republican Party has become.
   In many ways, the Republican Party is now the party of Trump, a party that is willingly following a narcissistic, lying authoritarian figure. Despite the fact that overwhelming evidence shows the 2020 election was fair and that Joe Biden legitimately won, the majority of Republicans believe Trump’s lies instead. And a significant percentage are actively promoting those lies. Many Republicans have gone so far as to push for laws and policies that are clearly undemocratic. Want some examples? Here you go: In several states, Republicans have proposed bills that would allow state legislatures to overturn election results and allot electoral votes themselves, literally ignoring the will of the voters. There are also proposals by Republicans that would make it very difficult for election officials to deal with partisan poll watchers who are intimidating and interfering with voters and election workers. Republicans in numerous states are also trying to get Trump following election deniers into positions (like secretary of state) where they would oversee future elections, thus increasing their ability to interfere with (and possibly overturn) legitimate election results they don’t like. These are not exaggerations. Mail in voting is another target Republicans are aiming at despite the fact that it has been shown to be very secure and effective. The blunt reality is that Republicans are going after it because Democrats were the main ones who used mail in voting in the 2020 election. Again, I’m not exaggerating here. I wish I was, but I’m not. This is really happening.
   Much of the Republican Party is actively threatening American democracy, and this is a big reason why we can’t afford Republican control over governments (at any level) these days.
   Whatever your political beliefs or party affiliation, people need to speak out against the lies spread by Trump and others. It’s time to stand up for democracy and the United States Constitution and vote in elected officials who do the same because if people don’t, future historians may look back on this time as the beginning of the end of American democracy.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/05/19/voter-subversion-trump-republicans-push-laws-change-elections/9824186002/

JK Rowling’s Transphobic Comments And Positions Hurt Many People

9-26-22
   I think it’s way past time to move on from Harry Potter because JK Rowling’s numerous transphobic comments have been, and continue to be, extremely hurtful to the transgender community. And the thing that makes it worse is that she continues to double down on her transphobic positions instead of opening her mind and trying to become more supportive to the transgender community.
   Transgender people are hurting these days because of intolerant, ignorant, and prejudiced attitudes coming from so much of society. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 29% of transgender adults live in poverty in the United States, and 22% are lacking health care insurance. 54% have been the victims of domestic violence, yet only 30% of women’s shelters are willing to house transgender women. 47% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted, and during the years 2014 and 2015, 1 in 10 were physically assaulted.
   So it’s clear that the transgender community needs support and understanding from society. This is why JK Rowling’s ongoing transphobic comments and positions are so deeply hurtful and damaging. There are examples of celebrities who have made troubling, intolerant comments who later made genuine efforts to educate themselves, open their minds, recognize what they had said was hurtful, and try to become supportive allies. But Rowling has not done this. Instead, she has doubled down on her transphobic comments and positions despite the fact that doing so hurts innocent people.
   So it’s time that we put Harry Potter in the past because I don’t think JK Rowling deserves any more of our money. Like it or not, supporting Harry Potter (such as buying the books, movies, or other merchandise) is also supporting JK Rowling because she created the series and is still intricately connected with the franchise. She has become extremely wealthy from Harry Potter, so much so that her current net worth is estimated at around 1 billion dollars. She doesn’t need any more money, and frankly, because of her ongoing transphobic behavior, I don’t think she deserves any more. A clear way to send a message to someone like JK Rowling is to stop supporting the thing that has made them wealthy and famous, and in this case, that is Harry Potter. I’m not going to buy her books or watch her movies. I don’t want her to get a penny of my money. We can also make our voices heard with companies that profit from Harry Potter such as HBO. There have been rumors that HBO is considering a Harry Potter series. We should contact HBO and tell them we are categorically against such a move due to JK Rowling’s transphobic behavior. As a matter of fact, I’ve already sent HBO several messages about this. Remember, when you speak up, be thoughtful and considerate in what you say and be sure you can back up your positions with facts. Don’t spew out hurtful, personal attacks because doing so is wrong and also backfires since people will tune you out and ignore you.
   Together, we can make a difference in creating positive change. So let’s make that happen.

https://www.hrc.org/resources/understanding-the-transgender-community

Alan Cumming, A Great Actor Who’s Bisexual+

   Alan Cumming a great actor who has had a successful, prolific career with roles on stage, television, and the big screen. You might recognize him from the series The Good Wife or from his role as Nightcrawler in the movie X2. For theatre fans, he’s played the role of Emcee in Broadway versions of the musical Cabaret. As a matter of fact, I saw him in that role in New York myself, and he was amazing! It was like he was born for the part.
   He’s also bisexual+.
   Why is that a big deal? It’s because there is still far too much intolerance, prejudice, and lack of understanding with regards to the bi+ community. And by the way, bi+/bisexual+ are umbrella terms for anyone who can be attracted to more than one gender whatever label(s) they prefer (bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc).
   Too many bi+ suffer in the closet afraid of what would happen if their sexuality was discovered. For those who are out, many find dating brutally difficult to near impossible because of the way so much of the population believe unfair stereotypes that are not true for most bi+ individuals. Bluntly put, bi+ are not a bunch confused, lying sex maniacs, and many are hoping to find happy, monogamous relationships.
   So when a celebrity like Alan Cumming is open about being bisexual+, it’s a big deal because it gives a positive human face to the bi+ community that many people can relate to and like. It helps open people’s minds and hopefully encourages them to take a closer look at their own attitudes towards the bi+ community.
   In other words, positive representation matters. And hopefully with time, as more people come out as bi+, society’s attitude towards the bi+ community will improve, which in turn will make the lives of many so much better.
  

Loneliness Is Much More Common Than Many People Realize Or Want To Admit

  Loneliness is tough and much more common the most people realize. It can be painful, exhausting, heartbreaking, and potentially devastating, especially when we let it consume us. At times, it can feel hopeless, overwhelming, and has the potential to increase the risk of mental and physical health problems.
   Anyone is susceptible, from individuals with lots of people around them to others who are physically isolated.  All ages, genders, sexualities, races… No one is immune.
   Kinda scary isn’t it.
   I know all about loneliness because I’ve been living with it for many years. I understand the pain and challenges. Seeing other people have significant others and numerous close friends while I’m on my own.
   As to why loneliness occurs, that is complicated and varies from person to person with numerous factors potentially coming into play. Physical isolation, lack of common interests, being different from people in one’s environment, depression, social anxiety, shyness, and low interpersonal communication skills are a few examples.
   Age can play a role as well. Studies have shown that for most individuals over 30, the number of friends they have decreases. This is probably connected to people getting into long-term relationships, starting families, dealing with careers, and so on. As a result, some of the friendships they had from before drift away. As to the established friendships that continue, there may be changes such as not seeing each other quite as often because for many individuals, their significant others and families have become their main source of social interaction. The result is that most people over 30 aren’t particularly looking for new friends. From their perspective, they’re too busy or don’t need them. So for individuals who are lonely and searching for new friends, finding them becomes even more difficult.
   Loneliness can be terribly challenging to deal with, but we should work hard at not letting it consume us. We must learn to control it, not let it control us.
   Believe in yourself, even at the most difficult moments. Remember that you can rely on yourself no matter what. I know, it can be brutal at times, but never give up on you.
   Stay open to the possibility of connecting with someone because after being hurt so much and so often, it can be easy to automatically shut people out to try to protect ourselves from further disappointments, letdowns, rejections, and crushed hopes. The problem with shutting people out is that it can also isolate us even more and prevent us from establishing contact and potential relationships with others. 
   So be open to meeting people. Don’t automatically rule out letting them in. If they hurt you, don’t let it bring you down. I know it can be frustrating and terribly painful, especially when you don’t have any close friends and attempts to find one seem to keep failing. Still, metaphorically speaking: Get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward.
   Another thing is to try to find happiness in yourself. There is truth to the idea of love and have faith in yourself.
   Believe in you! Doing so will help make life more enjoyable and also increase the possibility of perhaps connecting with others. And if you don’t find someone to connect with anytime soon, you’ll still have you!
   Do things you enjoy, even if you are doing them on your own. Use your imagination because there, you can experience, explore, and do whatever you want.
   And don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. There is absolutely no shame in doing so, and it may help you cope with your circumstances a whole lot better.
   And please, never give up!
   Remember that you can always rely on yourself and be your own best friend!

The True Story Of A Brave Dog In The Civil War, Sallie Ann Jarrett

   I’m going to tell you a story…
   A true story about a dog named Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   But we have to go back in time. The year is 1861. A Union regiment, the 11th Pennsylvania, had recently been organized and was training for the American Civil War.
   Being early in the conflict, local civilians would come out to watch the new soldiers march, drill, and train. Once such individual was an attractive, young woman named Sallie Ann. As you can imagine, the soldiers liked it when Sallie Ann stopped by.
   Well, one day, someone arrived with a basket. Inside the basket was a little, female pit bull puppy who was presented to the regiment as a gift.
   The soldiers named her Sallie Ann Jarrett after the popular young woman they liked and their original commanding officer, Colonel Phaon Jarrett.
   Little Sallie Ann was quite popular with the troops with her playful exuberance. Early on she would wind her way through the soldiers as they marched, but then she learned to join the commanding officer at the head of the column.
   In 1862, the regiment, under the command of Colonel Richard Coulter, headed south to join the war for real.
   And Sallie Ann went with them.
   The 11th Pennsylvania saw its first action at Cedar Mountain. As the muskets fired and bullets flew, Sallie Ann stayed at the front with her soldiers, for the 11th was her family. She apparently tried to bite Confederate bullets when they struck the ground.
   She saw more fighting. At the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war, the soldiers tried to get her to stay behind, but Sallie Ann refused and remained with her regiment.
   She gave birth to puppies, who were sent north to families, but Sallie Ann continued on with the 11th.
   When the Army of the Potomac marched before President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Sallie Ann was in her place at the head of her unit.
   In July of that year, large Union and Confederate armies ran into each other at Gettysburg, resulting in a brutal three day battle. The 11th Pennsylvania saw action on the first day, during which they suffered a number of killed and wounded. When Union forces retreated back through town to regroup on Cemetery Ridge, Sallie Ann got separated from the regiment. As the bloody battle raged for 2 more days, no one knew what had happened to her. Considering there were 51,000 casualties, many probably feared the worst.
   After the fighting ended, Union soldiers explored the devastated battlefield. When they arrived at the site where the 11th had fought on the first day, they found Sallie Ann.
   After getting separated, she had returned and stayed vigil over the dead and wounded members of her family, soldiers of the 11th Pennsylvania.
   In 1864, Sallie Ann was shot at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse; though, she fortunately recovered.
   Then in February of 1865, Sallie Ann was sadly killed in action. Reportedly, several mourning soldiers buried her while the battle still raged. Finally, later that year, the terrible Civil War came to an end.
   Years passed by.
   In 1890, a monument was erected at Gettysburg honoring the 11th Pennsylvania. Veterans had demanded that Sallie Ann Jarrett be honored too.
   They got their wish.
   The monument consists of a Union soldier standing on top of a pedestal. On the front of the pedestal near the base, is the statue of a curled up dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.
   In 1910, there was a reunion of surviving members of the regiment. They had their photograph taken with the monument behind them. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice 3 veterans are standing off to the right creating a gap. They did this so that Sallie Ann would be in the photo too, for if you zoom in, you can see the profile of her statue on the monument in the gap.
   So if you visit the Gettysburg Battlefield, stop by the monument and honor the brave little dog, Sallie Ann Jarrett.

1910 Reunion courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Memorial to the 11th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg
Photo of Sallie Ann Jarrett courtesy of emergingcivilwar.com
Someone left dog biscuits for Sallie Ann.

Still Too Many People Facing Intolerance And Lack Of Understanding

   I’m bisexual+ and genderfluid, and as such, I’ve learned from first hand experience how much intolerance, prejudice, and lack of understanding there is against individuals who are bisexual+, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, transgender, asexual, intersex, and so on (BTNIA for short) from both inside and outside the LGBTQ Community. Unfortunately, experiencing intolerance from cisgender, straight people is not a surprise despite the fact it’s the 21st century. But having to deal with it from fellow members of the LGBTQ Community can be even more painful since we wanted to believe that we’d at least find acceptance from other LGBTQs. But acceptance even here is not always the case. And let me tell you, it really hurts and can adversely affect innocent people’s lives.
   Why is there still so much intolerance against BTNIA individuals? Lack of understanding is a big factor I would say. People often fear, are intolerant towards, and shun what they see as too different and don’t understand. They are more likely to listen to unfair stereotypes and jump to premature conclusions that they then base future behavior on. This is compounded by the problem of how so many individuals only seek out people, groups, information sites, etc that agree with them and shun or ignore those that don’t. This sort of behavior reinforces close-mindedness and ends up seriously hurting innocent people (in this case, BTNIA individuals) who are seen as too different.
   The result is many of us who are BTNIA feel isolated and alone without a sense of community, and trust me when I say that this can be brutally hard. Human beings are social creatures as a species, so feeling like we don’t belong anywhere usually goes against our nature. A great number of BTNIA people suffer in the closet as a consequence, afraid of what might happen if their secret was discovered. Others who are out often find dating extremely difficult (sometimes near impossible) so that it’s common to find BTNIA individuals grappling with the very strong likelihood that we’ll never find someone special and that we’ll always be alone. Establishing close, genuine friendships can be terribly difficult too since we are often seen as at least a bit too different.
   It’s way past time for people to open their minds and educate themselves. To push outside their comfort zones and learn about other people who are different from themselves. They should seek out information from a variety of different sources, not just from those that agree with them. And they need to stop automatically believing stereotypes that are frequently unfair and not true for many BTNIA individuals.
   If more people would open their minds, it would help BTNIA individuals live happier, more fulfilling lives, and it would also help those individuals who are opening their minds to live better lives themselves.