Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Can We Talk?

July 25, 2012

image from KDVR

If this were only a joke. A man walks into a movie theater – armed with an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun and handguns and his home was booby-trapped with a trip wire, explosives and unknown liquids that took a day to disarm and I’m called partisan and disingenuous when I say it is pure evil and we should look into how he was able to come by this cache with the thought of preventing the unthinkable in the future.

The horror of the shootings in Aurora is obvious yet so many talking heads and op-ed writers want us to stay focused only on the individual stories of heroism, cowardice and how the families and friends will be changed. Mention that the event puts into focus difficult issues for America and you get shot down for “politicizing” the calamity. Why is it wrong to discuss the consequences of a tragedy?

I am told now is not time for that conversation. We need to respect the victims’ families and let them mourn in peace. An online friend mentioned a story he read about the potential bankruptcy faced by one of the victims who is uninsured and can’t pay the medical bills. He commented that one injustice was being compounded by another. He was pounced upon for “pushing his liberal agenda.” I can’t help thinking that part of this insanity is not only the shooting, but the price many of these victims will be paying in an emotional and financial aftermath. Shouldn’t we mitigate their pain by making it clear that we, all Americans, will help them with the costs of the medical care? Luckily some have started a fund for this, but not everyone is a Blanche DuBois who can depend on the kindness of strangers.

Why shouldn’t we look at the rules that allowed the legal purchase of these weapons? Rules are important. The Ten Commandments wouldn’t be necessary if folks didn’t kill, covet or take the Lord’s name in vain. No one needs rules or laws until someone is hurt. Every business I’ve been involved with only wrote new policies in the wake of some unforeseen stupidity or situation and it is our outrage that gives us the energy to focus. So when a shooting occurs in a movie theater, school or strip mall and the conversation turns to preventing or minimizing the losses the energy is high and the answer is obvious. We need new rules (or enforcement of existing ones) to prevent certain weapons from getting into the hands of certain people. No one disputes this, not even the NRA. The devil is in the details; the debate is what weapons and which people. This, however, is the fearful slippery slope for the NRA, so we are told to respect the families and let them mourn. Meanwhile our resolve dissipates.

Too bad. If we were to have that conversation and acted with resolve we might reduce or prevent the next Aurora, Columbine or Virginia Tech massacre. The downside might be the headache for the NRA, but no worries – that preexisting condition must be covered under the Affordable Care Act in 2014. There I go again – “politicizing.”

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“The Times They Aren’t A Changing…”

May 19, 2012

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“Get out your homework and pass it across.” This is how class often starts here in middle school.

Remember middle school? What did you think of?  Something embarrassing?

No matter what you hear I can assure you nothing has really changed – Kids are still awkwardly finding their place, experimenting with fashion and make-up, whispering (or worse) about those who don’t meet some slippery slope standard. But today something different did happen.

It wasn’t that a certain student actually did his homework (a cherished moment for me), but it was how he did his homework.

The assignment: Define “Enlightenment” then write 3-5 sentences on what you think this may mean in history. It was a Friday assignment meant to prompt everyone into thinking about a new unit (The Age of Enlightenment). It was intended to be a no stress/low stress assignment (look up a word, give an opinion) introducing a key idea and to give the kids a chance to formulate a concept.

I got the usual dictionary definitions – some properly cited, most not – and some very short paragraphs (2-3 sentences at most), but I was eager to see the work done by the certain student, to relish in this rare sight.

It was neat, about a half a page with a proper heading – name, grade and period. Good start; now time to read. Some kids treated the assignment as two separate items to complete, first define then opine; others choose a more flowing narrative, incorporating the definition within a minuscule paragraph. This student took the later form. Wow, he is really working at this. I read his answer – not bad, not bad at all. Look – he even included a citation!

Siri – He cited Siri, the digital assistant on his iPhone. I laughed. This is awesome. I witnessed perhaps one of the first uses of a new use of a technology in middle school. I could just picture it – “Siri, tell me about the Enlightenment…” Then busily writing down the answer.

Giggling at his ingenuity I shared this moment with his other teachers at lunch. “You know that certain student who never does his homework? – I got some from him today!”

“Wow, really?”

“Yeah – And it was neat, properly formatted and he included a citation. Wanna know the best part? He cited Siri! How cool is that?”

Silence

Silent enough that I think I could actually hear the eyes roll. “That’s another thing we have to add to the list. No Siri.”

-sigh- I want to celebrate my student’s ingenuity and my fellow teachers want to ban it. I’m thrilled that a student with a number of issues and on an IEP has found a way to engage with my class, they want to only accept work that was done on the terms they dictate.  My moment of triumph was somehow their Waterloo.

What is the difference in print, electronic and on-line dictionaries? Whether you read it or it is spoken to you? Is this that important, that they use the “proper” accepted dictionary? (Like none of you use Wikipedia either 😉 ). Isn’t the goal to engage the student so that they can begin to map new knowledge? Shouldn’t we use and embrace the tools that they inevitably will use?

Today nothing new happened in middle school. I take it back. The mean girls never left and I’m embarrassed.

The Clock is Operating and I Feel Fine

March 7, 2012

My iPad just delivered a Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time, moment. The latest Time magazine release for the iPad is really the March 2nd, 1962 issue all over again – “The Space Race is a GO” – re-titled “A Half-Century in Space.” It’s the entire original issue, ads and all. It’s awesome.

The Mercury Seven were my boyhood heroes and even they aren’t the most interesting part of this reissue. It’s the excitement evident in every section, from Letters to Milestones; like a young man with his second love, he is certain of his knowledge yet his world is still magical. Every detail brings a new thrill; the publisher expends two full paragraphs explaining the new mailing label printed with “electronic impulse.”

The Time Listings section provides a glimpse into the future of some high school required reading: On the fiction side Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Robbins’ The Carperbaggers. In nonfiction – The Guns of August, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Don’t won’t to read? Turn on the TV to The Bob Newhart Show with musical guests, The Limelighters or NBC’s Saturday night movie was The Day the Earth Stood Still at 9PM eastern. TV too low brow? Then New York’s theater district was offering up Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana or A Man for All Seasons, Brecht on Brect, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Camelot, or My Fair Lady. Wow – and these aren’t revivals!

It is not all new and shiny, some themes keep recurring. This headline sounds familiar: “Can the U.S. Compete?” Also this article: Romney running for the highest office in the land and the issue of his Mormonism. This time, however, it’s George and the land is Michigan. And not to worry – the White House assures us some part of Asia is now stable because of American troops there. Can someone go back and tell Kennedy and McNamara that over 50,000 American lives will be shed and just like our Civil War, the north will win. As usual, education is failing, letter writers are agitated and there is an invitation to choose several titles for only a dollar with only a small obligation to purchase a select number more at the regular club prices.

Speaking of ads, the latest thing is digital data that can be…wait for it…sent over telephone lines! This is stored securely on either magnetic or paper punch tape. Most ads for cars have a jet in the background (“ ’62 Chevrolet goes Jet-smooth and it’s built to keep going that way”). Mercedes even goes so far as to keep Deutschland über alles by posing the 220se in front of a Lufthansa jet on the runway in Stuttgart. Cross promotion at its best. Though no Italian cars are found, Alitalia is promoting their new low cost flight to London from New York for $350. Sounds pretty good until you consider the median U.S. income in 1962 for a family of four was $6000. Still too expensive for the average American, but things were headed in the right direction.

Looking back another fifty years prior and groups were lobbying to keep the airplane out of war. Unsuccessfully. Two world wars and 20 years later the technology advances enough for jet flight to connect the world’s elite. Jump another fifty years forward and nobody bats an eye about flying to Cairo or Beijing, though the seating is guaranteed to damage your knees. A small price to pay considering that such a voyage may have cost your life in a not too distant past. We still don’t have moon bases (Newt?) and I never did become the astronaut I dreamed of from these pages, but I did get a pilot’s license and have vacationed in Europe. Oh – and I finally did read To Kill a Mockingbird. Everything in it’s own time.

Eat Me, N’awlin’

February 26, 2012

“Mardi Gras? Really? Yeah, I’d go to New Orleans, but no way during Mardi Gras. You must be nuts…” This pretty much sums up the comments we got when I announced our vacation plans. Nola wasn’t on my radar either for February. I was thinking sun, sand and surf – the holy trinity of relaxing vacations – but Pam got a Groupon for a limo ride from a hotel to the airport in New Orleans and she hates to pass up a bargain.

I stopped surfing for an island oasis and started looking for rooms. If we were going to vacation with nearly one million of my closest friends I wanted to be in the thick of it, in the French Quarter. We booked a “king” room at the family owned Hotel Monteleone, home to many authors from Truman Capote to Tennessee Williams. “King” here meant only the size of the bed, though room didn’t even have a window it had a great shower with enough water pressure to wash the guilt off each morning.

No, not that kind of guilt. Though Mardi Gras and the French Quarter are synonymous with “flash-your-boobs-for-beads” hedonism and an anything goes attitude fuelled by 24 oz. GO cups (portable drinks, not a new bra size) it was the food that got us.

N’awlins is sin city and the sin is gluttony. Po’boys, beignets, muffalettas, oysters any style, beignets, crayfish étouffée-omelette-boil, beignets… Our first morning we felt a hardy breakfast was in order in preparation for the Lundi Gras parade. After wandering around working up an appetite shopping on Canal Street we headed back into the quarter and found Huck Finn’s, promising to be a good choice because a few people were lined up waiting. We were quickly accommodated to a table with a street view and a menu with local delicacies. I had the Atchafalaya Omelet – “crawfish and pepperjack cheese topped with an etouffee sauce.” It came with grits and toast. Pam had a “build your own” bacon and cheddar omelet with potatoes and toast. With large OJs instead of mimosas we were good to go for a day of parade watching without falling asleep.

Walking around this city wearing a faux fur purple cape and matching bejeweled crown does not garner a second look or any special dispensation along the parade fence, so we walked quite a while to find our spot. All afternoon we watched one crazy float followed by an even crazier float, caught all the beads we could and dinnertime began to loom. We wanted to eat before the fireworks began that evening. Heading back toward our hotel we were feeling a bit like little Red Riding Hood, passing over restaurant after restaurant because none was just right. Too expensive, too everyday, too crowded, too weird, but eventually “too hungry” won us over while in front of the Original French Market restaurant.We were led upstairs to a noisy sportsbar-like room when Pam noticed the outside balcony.

Can we sit outside? Sure!

We got a spot right on the corner and as soon as I ordered an Abita Turbodog we realized we had front row seats to the fireworks over the Mississippi. With a quick check of the menu and specials, we ordered. Pam had the chicken and I went with the waitress’s suggestion of the crayfish étouffée. Mine was OK, but Pam’s chicken was spectacular – spicy, moist and served with some excellent Cajun potatoes (seasoned red potatoes, Andouille sausage, peppers and onions). After the meal, we thought maybe a drink or dessert from across the street to get closer to the classic jazz that had been our backing tracks during dinner and the fireworks.

The jazz turned out to be a quartet playing for tips under a tent. We sat for a bit, put a few bucks in the jar, but with no wait staff and only beer flavored water on tap (Bud, Bud Lite, Miller Lite) we felt it was best to get back to the hotel. Mardi Gras was tomorrow and the parades start at 8AM so we grabbed a six of Turbodog to take back to the room. Our first full day of Nola and we were sound asleep by 9:30. We were just getting acclimated and had yet to be drawn into gastronomic excesses this town offers. The showers could still be short. Mardi Gras morning came, we donned our royal regalia, draped our newly acquired beads and headed out.

Breakfast? Are you really hungry? Not really. OK, let’s find a spot to watch the parade.

Did I mention one million people come to New Orleans for the carnival season? None of them must sleep Monday night because we could not get any closer than a spot with four people in front of us. Now the “sweet spot” criteria was how short the people in front of us would be. As much as we hoped for a family of little people, we could only find a group of heavy-set women in chairs with their kids.

Mardi Gras is all day, we would have to find sustenance on location. Parades mean parade food – hot dogs and funnel cakes. A 24oz beer for me and a Sprite for Pam to quench our thirst. First, the Krewe of Zulu, then the Krewe of Rex and then a slew of pain from the interesting sunburn on my head left by my crown. We had to take a break a dinner break. We had hoped for NOLA, K-Paul’s, Galatoire’s, or Arnaud’s,  but others had planned far better and in advance. We were winging it.

I spied a couple leaving a packed hot spot and restaurants abhor a vacuum. We stepped into the Original Pierre Maspero’s Restaurant. After perusing the menu Pam chose the Roast Beef Po’Boy and I had the Blackened Red Fish. The veggies that came with mine were so good Pam ordered a side for herself. My red fish was swimming in blackened Cajun awesomeness, but Pam found out a Po’Boy is just an over stuffed sub. I was gloating over my meal so much I knew the only way to keep Pam happy was dessert. Our first step into decadence; the meal just a gateway drug, triple layer chocolate cake was our ticket to the culinary Sodom and Gomorrah of New Orleans.

Fully fortified to walk Bourbon Street undaunted by flashed titties, stumbling drunks and all manner of dropped beads underfoot we began to plan our next meal. All we could see were restaurant signs and we were consumed with recalling restaurant reviews. We walked half way down Bourbon on one side, turned around and walked back on the other. We had seen enough. We were hooked. We needed to plan.

Back at the hotel by 7:30, we booked an early morning walking tour. We would learn from an expert.  Our guide would meet us at the Café Beignet in the Music Legends Courtyard on Bourbon. We arrived early. From the menu Pam had the Ham and Cheese omelet with a large OJ and an order of beignets. I had the Cajun Hash-browns, OJ and an order of beignets. I make better hash browns, but the beignets were great. We were covered in powdered sugar while Lee “Plink” Floyd serenaded us with his four-string banjo and witty repartee. Sugar high at 9AM! I bought his CD.

We walked past Brennan’s, Stella, the New Orleans School of Cooking, Nola, Antoine’s, Johnny’s Po’Boys, the Court of Two Sisters, Acme Oysters and our heads were dizzy with possibilities. Oh, and we learned some fascinating history of the area along the way, that Irene’s has a great Osso Buco special on Thursdays and any of the local restaurateur Dickie Brennan’s places are safe bets. We settled on some dinner choices for our last two nights, Brennan’s Bourbon Street for Wednesday and Irene’s for Thursday. I called ahead to reserve an Osso Buco for 6:45.

We know New Orleans isn’t just a food junkie’s paradise, It has depth. It has roots. It has outskirts. We felt a need to visit the outskirts to a sugar plantation. Sweet! On our way over to book the bus trip to the Laura Plantation we stopped and split a muffaletta. I had a Hurricane and Pam threw back a Piña Colada with ice cream from the Gazebo Café menu then we sampled some pralines at Southern Candy Makers. At the Greyline Tours’ booth we considered the dinner cruise on the riverboat, Natchez, but thought better of it. Back to the Hotel to get changed up and on to Bourbon Street, the restaurant.

Our timing was stupendous! We were eating during late blue-hair or 6PM and were quickly whisked into the large dining room. Our very attentive servers got my Abita Amber pronto and then presented the menu and the specials. Pam started with the corn and crab soup and I had the crystal gator with bleu cheese for starters. For the main course Pam went with the Beef Tournedos Oscar and I with the signature Redfish on the Half Shell adding the “jumbo lump crab meat” on top. Excellent on all counts, but wait there’s more… Dessert. We were about to cross a line we didn’t know existed.

I pick a special, the chocolate praline crunch, a three-layer concoction of chocolate cake, praline and chocolate mousse served with a wide smear of caramel leading to sliced strawberries and shredded fresh mint. OMG (Oh My Gut)

Pam’s turn. Let me be clear, my wife is very hard to satisfy. She knows what she wants and how she wants it. She wants it dark. She wants it smooth with a slight bite. Her desire is chocolate – unadorned or unadulterated by fruit. The dessert menu option – flourless chocolate cake – is serve drizzled with raspberry sauce and a scoop of ice cream is recommended. Pam orders it naked, stripped of all pretense, allowing just a tiny dollop of whipped cream to grace the top. To be gentlemanly, I will only say that we both needed towels when we were through. I don’t want to cheapen the moment any more than that. Satiated, we waddle back to our room to promptly dose off with a smile on our face and stretch marks on our bellies.

Thursday, our full last day in New Orleans, and we head straight to the famous Café du Monde to get some beignets for breakfast. Our walking tour guide intimated that they check you at the airport before you leave for powdered sugar residue and if you don’t have it they will send you back. Our stop at the Café assured that we were well coated. It was time to hop on the bus to find out all we could about where life sustaining sugar got its start in Louisiana. We are enroute to a creole sugar plantation when I get a text – our flight out is cancelled. A powdery coating of another sort, snow, stopped all air traffic through Chicago. That was how our flight was routed.

Well, Mr Smith, I can get you on a plane right now to Dallas. Spend the night there and I can get you on a flight back to Boston the next morning.

There are two problems with this. First, Pam and I are on a bus now 30 minutes out of New Orleans so getting to the airport “right now” would be difficult. Second, I’ve got a 6:45 reservation with a plate of osso buco at Irene’s. I book passage home with Southwest and ask for a refund from United. All of this consumes the entire trip out to the plantation. I missed all the interesting tidbits, the local color, the fact that there is nothing to eat… Really – a sugar plantation and they’ve got nothing! After the tour we are deposited in the gift shop. Candied popcorn and a water for Pam and me. We have to get back, we begin hovering around the bus. We have needs.

At our hotel, we change up and head out to find Irene’s. While walking works up an appetite it only adds to ours. The pace quickens as we realize it is farther than we remembered and the cravings urge us ever faster. We make it.

Step right on through folks. All the way through to the room on the left.

We are ushered into tight quarters in the back with a piano player and twenty others waiting to be seated. Where is our table? We have a reservation for 6:45 and it’s only 6:50. I want to sit. I want my osso. I want a drink. The waiter brings me a Hendricks and tonic, it calms my nerves. But I can smell the food. It taunts me. Finally, our table is ready.

As we sit a plate of bruschetta arrives only to be emptied seconds later. Nancy, our waitress, presents menus while taking our drink order. We share a plate of Oysters Irene for an appetizer. Pam orders the Chicken Rosemarino and I stick with the Osso Buco. Everything is perfect. Pam’s half a chicken was falling off the bone into a sea of garlic and rosemary. My massive veal shank similarly required no knife and is accompanied by an exquisite risotto.  Full, yet we have just begun. Our waitress concurs with Pam about the purity of chocolate and brings her the Chocolate Truffle with Crème anglaise and whipped cream.*· I go with an old friend, Crème Brulée, complete with a small pile of blueberries. Pam lets me taste hers. It’s the inside of a truffle in all its creamy smoothness out in the open. I savor it. My dish is empty and now Pam’s is too, over all too soon. We have to pack. We fly out tomorrow.

In the morning before we head to the airport we went back to Café Beignet. This time the one right around the corner from the hotel. I had the crayfish omelet, Pam again had the ham and cheese. We split an order of beignets. The last step before we go cold turkey.


*· The picture is this dessert in its natural state – raspberry sauce, strawberries and mint leaves.

An Atheist Christmas – Joy to the Whirled

December 29, 2011

I love Christmas and I’m not a Christian. I wish people a “Merry Christmas!” because I approve of the message – be merry.  I love my family and this is the season I get to show that love without getting funny looks. This is when silly gifts and schmaltzy sentiments are completely acceptable along with It’s a Wonderful Life and Vince Guaraldi piano soundtracks.  I’m not part of the “war” on Christmas. When I’m in a store and the clerk wishes me “Happy Holidays!” I’m happy. When politicians light the “Holiday Tree” I’m not offended.

To those who rail against these efforts please rethink your position then thank your politician for a creative end-around the separation of government from religion. By doing so they can use state money to maintain tradition without tying it to any religion. Remember the Yule tree got its start with old Norse paganism (and the Saxons sang and toasted their trees – wassailing). Trees, singing and toasting make people happy and merry so Christians renamed it to keep the tradition around, why not politicians?

Just in case you want some of the history leading to our modern tradition in musical form here it is fittingly set to the tune of “Oh, Tannenbaum”:

Please note that based on our founding documents and proud Puritan heritage, we should not even be celebrating Christmas – It’s un-American! The George III that introduced this tree via his German wife is the same one we sent that long list of grievances to back in 1776. Prior to that the Puritans banned the entire celebration because of its roots in pagan woodland worship. Understand that no matter how many “He’s the reason for the season” bumper stickers I see, this holiday will still predate Jesus – big time! As sure as the sun comes up and the earth’s axis wobbles, Christmas and all the other holidays from times and cultures in memoriam that occur around the winter solstice do so because that’s when things shift from the day getting constantly shorter to longer. Hallelujah! People like sunlight and more of it makes us happy … and merry.

So I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Inti Raymi, Shabe-Yalda, Saturnalia, Yule, the Long Night, start of Winter… How ‘bout “Season’s Greetings?” Will that make you happy?

Thanksgiving and Facebook Rolled Together 2011

December 5, 2011

It was the warmest in November on record in Worcester, I just grilled burgers on my deck in December and that’s enough to make me thankful. But it’s just the beginning and as the infomercial says, “WAIT! There’s MORE!”

What more can there be?  Besides pulling off the wedding of the century for my daughter (Prince, welcome to the family); having my son just a short drive away in Cambridge (skull fracture cost him a sense of smell, but knocked enough sense into him to have him move out of DC); a wife recovering well from knee surgery and my having a job; there are all of you on Facebook – my family, friends and interweb neighbors. I’m thrilled when the day isn’t going well and someone posts that funny kitty/doggy/baby video, – LOL, OMG, LMAO and all that ;-). I know my high school friends don’t look like the way I remember them thanks to all the photos posted (except for Doug – I don’t know who he promised his soul to, but give me a call).  I share your travels, kids’ graduations, holiday gatherings and birthdays. I contemplate your surgeries and passing relatives. Some of you make comments that make me laugh, some of you piss me off, many do both and for all of you, I’m thankful. My friends don’t have to agree with my viewpoint or politics to still be my friends.

And that is the thing I have learned: friends challenge an idea and it makes me think, to hone my argument or do more research on the particulars to better understand it. And, hopefully, be better able to demonstrate the error in your thinking or mine so we both have a better understanding.  These days I’m into consensus. I want to take the advice of Addicus Finch and walk around in the other guy’s shoes. I’m into finding middle ground.  I’m into starting a trend that shifts our current clamor of “every man for himself “ back to “all for one and one for all.” But maybe that’s a little too “socialist” right now. E Pluibus Unum.

A Word of Advice

October 3, 2011

A father of the bride speech:

For Addy and Prince-

Again – welcome!

This is where I’m supposed to set a comfortable, light-hearted mood by telling a joke or an amusing story – For those of you who have heard me try to deliver a joke I will spare you that anxiety…

This is a great day!

We are here to celebrate a great love:

that of Addy and Prince.

Who would have imagined this?

At almost any other time and place these two would never have met and the world would be poorer for it.

Speaking to Pam and me this past summer, Senior Chief said something that has stuck with us. He said the greatest and most unexpected experiences come through our children. I commend Senior Chief on his wisdom – I never in my wildest imagination pictured this for my daughter’s wedding day. How could I know that she would fulfill every little girl’s dream by actually marrying a prince? Thank you Julie and Philip for producing such a fine young man!

Working in the yard I have been trying to think of what I should say to my daughter and her husband, what piece of wisdom, what sage advice I could share today.  After all, if you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a typical marriage. So I’m out back feeding the fish and thinking hard…

If you have been to our house you know we have a small pond and stream in the back. When we were looking to move from our old house I said I wanted to move to where I saw a sunset or had a water view. The house we bought had neither, so Zach and I dug out a pond and stream bed to correct that oversight.

I read many books about ponds, about filtration, plant types, fish species – a full bookshelf’s worth of plans. Every detail was worked out to create a magnificent self-sustaining system of exotic lilies and colorful koi. a slice of paradise in my own backyard.

And most of it crapped out in the first few weeks.

But one of the amazing things about life is its ability to come forth on its own terms – this is “pond speak” for algae. The fancy bullfrog tadpoles we bought disappeared, but were quickly replaced by local frogs and the exotic lilies that never bloomed were uprooted for plants from a nearby swamp each Father’s Day. The pond has grown and changed over the years. We have had to replace the fish a few times after feeding a wandering heron or raccoon. A couple of times a year I have to pull out all the dead leaves, replace some tumbled down rocks and the water is still never clear…

This pond is nothing like I had planned, it has taken on a life of its own it exists on its own terms. I love it. It’s my water-view.

And that’s my marriage advice – let it exist on its own terms, don’t overplan, but know you will need to put in some serious work. Let life take over and share it. And know this: Every once in a while, no matter what anyone says,  you might need to replace the pump.

Congratulations – Addy and Prince

Holden on to Sanity

August 9, 2011

Ass clowns for Larouche

“Yes, I have heard of the First Amendment” I answered to the two men at the Lyndon Larouche/ Obama as Hitler booth set up in front of our town post office. I was there to mail a letter and upon seeing their sign I had to ask what it was all about. I was asked to sign a petition, but I asked them if they thought their portrait of Obama as Hitler was over the top. I told them that I found it offensive to compare someone responsible for killing millions of my fellow humans to a political leader (and please, I’m using that term loosely) with whose policies they disagree. They told me it was their first amendment right to offend me and I didn’t disagree. What I did say is that it wasn’t their right to do it where they were standing, on a side walk in the town of Holden. And that is where my lesson started for today.

Holden has a sidewalk ordinance that clearly states that no political sign can be within two feet of a sidewalk. I called the police to see if they were aware of the booth and they said they had already been by and determined they were not blocking the sidewalk so they would allow it. OK, I guess this falls under police discretion and the police should be able to use their best judgement. I wrote one of the select board to bring it to their attention. Next I thought I would check out the legality of political actions on federal property (the post office) because a friend, accused of electioneering on federal property, was asked to stop by police. This was because she was talking to some folks about her candidacy for the select board in that town while in line .
Well, it turns out you can’t be for or against a particular candidate on federal property, but you can be for or against issues. The Larouche kool-aid drinkers (and pictured as the ass clowns they are) were collecting signatures on a petition to invoke the 25th amendment (article 4) to remove Obama because he is “incapacitated.” This is their “issue.” They don’t like Obama, they like Larouche (his name was on everything) but they talked anti-healthcare and impeachment so this skirts the federal rules on electioneering.
And that was my lesson – as much as I would like things to be simple, they are not. Issues are never black and white, which is why there has to be nuance (a much scorned term these days). I hate that the killer of millions is compared to an ineffectual president because it diminishes Hitler’s acts. And here is what else I learned – my fellow Holdenites are nobody’s fool, not one signature on their petition! Wheeee….

Mr. President – Call me…

July 24, 2011

I have a plan – no – THE plan to fix our current budget crisis. With two sides unable to agree on how to fix the impending debt ceiling debacle, a plan that meets both sides criteria must be found. One side says don’t touch medicare, medicaid and social security and the other says we can’t afford all those entitlements and asking anyone for another nickel is sinful. How can we fulfill the criteria proposed by both? Easy! We have two and half wars that are being funded without issue and this is the key to the best plan ever.

Everyone agrees that the military must protect our borders and our interests abroad. Everyone agrees this is important work. Our current, all volunteer military does a remarkable job, they have the most advanced technology on the battlefield and the some best services and training a nation has ever provided. In the service you are provided with free medical, dental and housing along with three squares. All we need to do is shift many of the jobs of this new, advanced army to the same folks who will be losing their Social  Security and Medicare. It’s a win-win! We don’t have to worry about paying for all the entitlements because they can earn their keep while in further service to their country. And service is something we don’t mind paying for, in fact, it’s downright patriotic.

We would still need the muscle of youth for the actual “boots on the ground” aspects, but much of the work of the modern military can be done remotely, everything from controlling Predator drones to fulfilling a quartermaster’s supply allocations can be done by computer from the comfort and safety of home. Some estimates show that for every actual soldier in combat there are ten support personnel. Some of that support could be perfect duty for all those government teat sucking old folks.

Now I know what your saying – How could they run the military of the 21st century? I have seen my mother try to navigate her email with great difficulty, but with constant training she does OK. And that’s the other part of this brilliant plan – The services can hire the unemployed youth of America to constantly train the new geezer garrisons. This makes it a jobs plan so the Democrats can vote for it.

So my plan not only solves the debt crisis, eliminates unemployment for our youth, and restructures our costly entitlement programs, it improves our overall military readiness by freeing up our fighting men and women to do just that. Now if this is the success I think it will be, I have a solution to our problem with illegals. Build some elder housing units along the border with a window facing the right way. Give them a phone and nothing else to do. They won’t miss a thing…

Washington, I await your call!

The Long and Short of It

July 13, 2011

Why are men’s shorts long? Who decided this was a good idea? It’s over 90º out and all the shorts I have are only a foot shorter than my regular pants and have twice as many pockets. Fifty years ago I had shorts that went below my knee without all the extra pockets, but only because my mother expected me to grow into them.

When women have pants that are just short of their ankles they don’t call them shorts they get a new name – capris. A women’s wardrobe includes pants, capris, shorts and the offshoots – culottes and skorts. Age determines the length of women’s shorts, starting with very short for the very young and adding length with age. Men’s pants also come in three styles – jeans, work or funeral – and, like the ladies, the length of men’s shorts is also based on age, but in the inverse. Male toddlers shorts are so long they interfere with their unsure walk and aging baby boomer shorts barely contain their happy bits (this last item is only true if the boomer has no lady friend to keep him fashion forward otherwise men wear whatever they have until it is in tatters).

And how did this come to be? A pox on the house of Michael Jordan. Just because a guy was so superstitious that he had to wear his winning UNC team shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts the rest of us have to suffer. His slightly longer shorts hiding his college history were the start of the long slide to shorts down below our knees.

Now if I can just figure out who thought I need more pockets in the summer than I do the rest of the year…