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Rumilluminations XII
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Tue, March 18 2008 - 1:25 pm

April 17, 2008                                       Valparaiso, IN

So what gives with the Pope's White House Dinner?  Either it was a snafu of monumental proportions that he was double-booked for dinner with the President and a meeting with his bishops, or it was a monumental snub to fail to attend a dinner in his honor hosted by the President of the United States of America.

Now, I was not at all happy that the President went to meet the Pope at the airport.  This President has been mixing church and state way too much for way too long, and for him to show respect for the head of the Catholic Church that he has shown no worldly head of state is a slap in the face of us ordinary citizens who kind of like the Constitution.  Actually, you could say it was a very unconstitutional act!  While that doesn't seem to stop Bush very often, this is one time he is getting instant payback.

Any study of history shows that spiritual leaders will try to show moral ascendancy over heads of state to increase their power.  Bush gave the Pope way too much power in a secular state by granting him an unprecedented honor.  What did it earn Bush?  Humiliation!  Deserved humiliation, too!

Was it a smart move on the part of the Pope?  I'm sure he is no dummy, so he and his advisors must think so.  But I find the snubbing of the President of my country by a person of power offensive, even if I am not one of his supporters!  How do Catholics feel about it?  I'd love to hear from you!

Of course, I'm no Catholic.  I really have no use for a religious institution that says its human head is infallible, and when His Infallibilty says that birth control is wrong, I see his title more as His Irresponsibility.

I think that the present resurgence of "religion" in this country is post 9/11 hysteria and deplore the toadying of our rulers and potential rulers to Religion.  Let them all go pray in the closet!

And you, Pope Benedict, shame on you!  So rude!  (Well, we know you don't get to be Pope by being Mr. Nice Guy!)  You had your petty display of superiority, but how much power do you really have?

Let's see you get people (yes, even "good" Catholics!) to stop practicing birth control!

April 16, 2008                                Valparaiso, IN

Second thoughts on the word "thought."  I didn't go far enough!  Not only "thou" and "ought" and "ugh" are in "thought!"  So is "though," which kind of implies the idea of second thoughts within the word "thought!"

Not only that!  The word "ho" is in there also, kind of a self-deprecating laugh before the anticipated "ugh" response.

Ha!  April foolishness is catching up with me big time!  And from the extent of my folly, it must be a cheetah!  Oh, well, what can you do but sing "la" to a potential "ugh" and laugh it off!

So silly!  Hmm, would that be me or the cat?  Are those who merely stand on their thresholds or sit on their window-sills and watch the world go by saintly or silly - or catty?

April 15, 2008                               Valparaiso, IN

Just thinking about the proverbial brick wall.

Some people shrug, go, "Oh well.  I don't want to get over it."

Of the ones who think they really want to get over it, I am sure many of them are thinking in terms of scaling it.  It seems a superhuman task and they spend much time imagining scaling it.  Somehow the solution doesn't come!

Others think of ways of obliterating it.  Bomb the obstacle!  There's a good way to get a pile of bricks raining down on you!

I think most often the brick wall is overcome by literally overcoming it.  Tablespoon by tablespoon, you carry dirt and pebbles over to the wall.

It takes years, but finally you can climb the ramp you have created and step over the wall.  But be sure to check what's on the other side before you take that step!  Getting down the other side might be quite a trick, too!

Do you still want to climb the wall, now that you know that it might involve years of drudgery?

Good for you!  Go for it!

I like to think, though, that the best brick wall overcomers are the ones who just happen to LOVE playing around with dirt and pebbles and tablespoons.

Or they just LOVE to garden, and their trees and vines looked over, took over, and climbed the walls.

Thoughts, perhaps, of an old scale-the-wall-by-imagination practitioner, who has fallen ass-backward over any brick wall she has ever managed to "scale!" (always by accident) and experienced quite a lucky landfall called survival-so-far!

Five hours later - Hmmm... "just a thought."  Since I wrote this I looked up the etymology of the word "thought" and didn't find it very enlightening.  Old Saxon pons (which sounds like French to me!) and a Middle English (I think) word that is a lot like thought.

I have a much more colorful idea.  Just look at the word!  It sure looks like "thou ought" to me!  And inside the word is a silent, intrinsic "ugh."  Perhaps it is a word that contains its own response!

Wow!  Maybe I won't use that word so much anymore!

April 14, 2008                               Valinferno, IN

Heh, heh, just checking to see if you were paying attention!

What I was trying to say in yesterday's comments, is that what the automobile adpersons haha were actually saying (with their big bold statement, "Perception is reality") was "Appearances are the only thing that count!"

Since "reality" as we understand it in society is essentially a consensus about what "reality" is, if they can get enough people to believe it, then it is really "true."

Do you think as many people would move to a town named Valinferno as are moving to Valparaiso?  I'm not sure!  Bellefountain, OR changed its name from Dusty, and if people don't find any fountain there (as I didn't (if that was reality, it was definitely a hidden, inner one!)) they may move there, but they might decide not to stay.  (Dust, I did see - and I met a very nice woman!)

The makers of the auto might not really care if you "stay."  All they have to do is get lots of people to buy it once and they make a killing.  (You have an argument against that? Good!  Make it!  I have an answer ready!)

Your individual perception is your "reality".  If it is too off base, people let you know about it!

And if our society's consensual "reality" is delusional, the world or perhaps God or perhaps the elegant universe will let us know about it!

"Perception is reality?"  Such a profoundly cynical statement!

I don't buy it, and I wouldn't buy their what-ever-it-is car, either!

(Unless, of course, I won the lottery and bought it by accident since I don't remember the name of the car company.  Or what the car looked like (mm...maybe it was black... and shiny?))

Greetings from Esther, the Queen of Introspection

Spokesperson for the completely monetarily free (and priceless!) Realm of the Imagination!

P.S.  (Of course!  Maybe that is why we don't appreciate the life of the mind!  It's free!  Well, if you insist upon paying for something in order to value it, please send your money to me!  We'll call it a tax for citizenship in your own private country!  And thanks!) 

April 13, 2008                                    Valparaiso, IN

How is philosophy like a dream?  It may be beautiful, it may be scary, it may inform your internal world, but you just try to take it into the external, "real" world!

Take "PERCEPTION IS REALITY". Those words are the last thing on the screen of an automobile ad running these days.  I don't remember the name of the car company that runs the ad, because I have an anti-shopping screen that automatically haha weeds out the brand names of most products, especially high-end ones.

That "perception is reality" comment is very Kantian.  I bet the person who thought it up really felt he/she was brilliant!

Except isn't the comment "perception is reality" also very assinine?

All of us have run up against "reality" as opposed to what we had previously "perceived" as reality, and they can be very different things! 

The ad might as well have said, "delusion is reality!"  (But of course a delusion isn't possible, because all perceptions are real!)

I laugh.  I snort.  Are they for real?  Well of course not!  They're for "perceive!"

Damn, "Wow, man, that's for perceive!" will never catch on - it's too hard to spell!

I failed to perceive the name of the company that ran the ad.  Therefore, it isn't real.  It doesn't exist!

So what am I laughing about?

April 12, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

It occurred to me the other day that there is perhaps a reason that educated people often fail to see what is right in front of their face (as a laborer told me once.)

I have felt for years that we need to have mutual respect in order to solve our problems in the best way, and there is no doubt that an education puts you in a better position to solve certain kinds of problems.

But what is the advantage of not having that seemingly all-important education?

Maybe a better tapline into one's intuition, that "unconscious intelligence" that will help you make good decisions without having to go through a conscious process of sorting and reasoning to arrive at the best possible solution.

I've been thinking of this with relation to diet, especially.  I am one of the most health-conscious people I know, yet I am not at all sure of myself when it comes to diet.  There is such a thing as knowing (or thinking you know) too much, so that you forget to tap in to how your body feels about the issue!  In other words, "knowledge" can be a real source of confusion!

Or, if you are in a self-destructive "I'm going to do what I want, and damn the consequences" mood, your knowledge of what is good for you only helps you to focus on what is delightfully bad for you in a way that ignorance never can!

Jung said that sensation and intuition tend to be opposing functions - the better you are at one, the worse you are at the other.  That seems to me to illustrate pretty well the difference between knowing and knowing.

Which is better?  Both!  Of course!

April 11, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Just read an "Annie's Mailbox" column which I just have to comment on, at risk of repeating myself with regards to my unusual (evidently) position re adultery.

In it a wife whose husband had an affair, abetted by her sister-in-law (presumably the husband's sister) is upset because she finds herself continually having to confront the "other woman" at family get-togethers.  She wants the other woman to not be there.

I don't get it.  I've thought long and deep about this issue, and I just don't get it.  Why is it always the "other woman" who is said to have had no respect for the marriage?  The "other woman," often a complete stranger to the wife, is, for some benighted reason, supposed to have more respect for marriage vows (which she did not make) than the husband who made those vows!

This particular wife was "betrayed" by two people - her husband and her husband's sister.  Evidently she has chosen to forgive the people who really "betrayed" her as an individual while taking a hard line with an acquaintance.

Well, we punish where we can, I guess.

Me, I can't understand why she even wants to go to the family gatherings, not because the "other woman" is there, but because they obviously supported the affair!  Who needs family like that?

I'm not saying adultery is sterling behavior, but if two people are that attracted to each other (or that playful, or in love, or whatever the motives happen to be) don't put the major responsibility for the adultery on the other woman!  (Or man, as the case may be.)

It's understandable, but so irrational it confounds me that people actually persist in doing it.

Forgive everybody and go to the parties; forgive nobody and get a divorce;  forgive your spouse only.  Do what you want - or maybe I should say, what you can.  (As a character in The Women's Room  says, "We have pride where we can.")

But put the heaviest blame on the one person involved who didn't owe you any loyalty?  Give me a break.

April 10, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

The subject about believing most what you hear first reminds me that lately I heard (or read!) something about the I Ching's originator (Lao-Tse?) having had a different philosophy than Confucius, who was more family- and society-oriented.

That would mean that much of what I thought the "best" version of the I Ching, (the Fitzgerald translation, the first version I read) might be, from the point of view of its originator, distorted by all the layers of added on commentary.

Maybe some of those little more-recently-published versions of the work are more authentic than my first exposure!

I heard a story that when the wise man who wrote the I Ching was at the gates of "heaven" or the afterlife, or death, or the city he was trying to leave - whatever - he wasn't allowed to pass until he wrote something of his wisdom to be handed down to others.

He sat down and dashed off the I Ching.

Well, if the original just consisted of the hexagrams and their natural symbolic meanings, I'm glad succeeding scholars have taken the time to explain them more fully!  Otherwise, the imagery, while beautiful, would have been too cryptic for me!

April 9, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday I was talking about sound being creepy.  I've had more thoughts about that.  For instance, the first words in the King James version of the Bible, I believe, are "In the beginning was the Word."

Now, that is pretty creepy in itself.  What the hell does that mean?  I have come to believe (maybe partly because I read those words long ago!) that the first information we are given is what we tend to believe.

We often believe it even though our eyes, and later even our ears, tell us the contrary!

Maybe we are biologically programmed that way.  We have to learn a lot when we are very young in order to survive in the world, and humans, more than any other animal, use language to convey the enormous amount of information that we think our children will need in order to survive.

Clinging to early teachings, beliefs, and habits seems to offer more comfort to us than giving them up, no matter how uncomfortable they make us in the larger world of our whole environment!  I read in some religious or health tract (given the juxtaposition of subjects, probably a health book written by a Christian Scientist!) that stroke is something suffered by a person so rigid that he would rather die than change.

Dietarily this is certainly a possibility (along with heart attack, diabetes, and cancer, probably!)  Yet we continue to eat the things that are so bad for us, because... you got it - that's the kind of stuff that kept us alive when we were young!

The same with religious beliefs.  Believing so strongly in something (however regional, idiosycratic, or isolated the believers) that you are willing to fight, kill other people, and die for it can become pretty uncomfortable!

Believing in what your parents and elders believe is a really good survival mechanism when you are young (unless, of course, they believe in sacrificing their young!  (Consider that statement for a moment.  It is not as uncommon as it seems at first glance!))

But those same beliefs can hamper your survival in the outer world, so your internal comfort and your external comfort have to find a compromise.

That is, if you want to survive.

(I think I find myself playing the April Fool again, taking one idea and cruelly tormenting it from all sides!  You may be asking, how did we get from sound being creepy to here?  Well, don't you think it is pretty creepy that words imparted to the very young can make them sacrifice their own lives and the lives of others thirty years later?  Don't you think that the fact that the words, "Eat up!" by a loving mother can endanger your life forty years later is pretty creepy!?)


April 8, 2008                                     Valparaiso, IN

The first time I heard Vaughn William's choral piece about music - I forget what it's called - I especially noticed the imagery about letting music "creep in our ears."  (I think that is Shakespeare - I forget that too!)

Anyway, I thought those words really eccentric - bizarre really, but memorable!

Now I'm inclined to think they are literal!

Sound is creepy stuff!

When I am lying upstairs in the master bedroom, someone walking across the dinin room floor sounds as if he's coming up the stairs!  It's creepy!

When I am at a friend's used-to-be-mobile home, someone walking in the trailor in front sounds like she is on the roof of the structure I'm in!  Yet not one word of spoken dialog can be heard emerging from the other trailor.  (I sure hope that the vica versa is also true, because I act as if it is!)

I have been to a children's museum in Pueblo, Colorado, where two people whispering in one desigated area can be heard with crystal clarity in another (visible) designated area twenty or so feet away!

Sound sounds louder over and in water, and in water-logged air!  And when we let sound creep in our ears, it is creeping around in fluid! 

Creepy, creepy, creepy!  

April 7, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Some fraudulating person might have gotten my social security number the other day.  Me, innocent, tried to call my credit card bank and got (who? it was, as always, not really a "who" at all, but an "it"!) which didn't quite ask the usual questions in quite the usual way, but did ask for my SSN, then cut me off with a message just garbled enough to let me know it didn't understand me.  A tape recorder hung up on me!  (Well, you know, not literally a "tape" recorder but some digital or fiber-optical thingie hell I don't know what the current technology is!)  HAL hung up on me!

Of course, being "paranoid" (which is the way you have to be, as always, to survive) I immediately called my credit card company again. This time I got the normal recorded behavior, then talked to a real customer service person (whom I accessed via verbal interruption of the recorded message by asking for an option that wasn't offered on the menu, something I'm told can also work at places that have REAL menus) and changed my credit card number.

Come to think of it, I was supposed to get my new card last week.  I suppose it was intercepted by whoever got my social security number.

Why I bothered to worry about it, I can't imagine.  The credit card company won't hold me responsible for fraudulent charges.  But, honestly, I seemed to care more than they did!

When did people start getting other people's social security numbers and using them for nefarious purposes?  I KNOW it started happening before I started wondering why our social security numbers appeared right by our names and addresses at polling places during elections.  (I made a comment about it vis-a-vis our security (this was at least fifteen years ago!) and was told the posting was required by law (I wonder if that law has been changed?))

When you consider all the places I have been required (before the law said you didn't have to do it anymore, an assurance virtually everyone ignores) hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS of people could have my social security number.

So why are these SSNs considered to be such a woo-woo big deal?  Such a top secret key to my personal business?

That's just plain old ridiculous!  And I state right now that if anyone out there has a life insurance policy on me because they know my social security number, well, I have given no one permission to use my death as a source of income!

(Er, I mean, I would make that statement if it weren't so paranoid!)

Believe me, if I wasn't considered a good alimony recipient, I am, except for body disposal costs, even less a financial loss to anyone if I die!  As anyone who really knows me will attest! 

(Oh, right, of course there is my future fame and fortune to consider, not to mention that of course I am bound to win the lottery someday...)

Gee, maybe I'm worth something after all!  Worth more alive than dead!

Even beyond my abstract, well-SSN-ed "identity!"

(I keep telling myself....)

Ha, ha!  Even my social security number is insecure!   Ha ha ha ha ha!

Not only am I insecure about my identity, my identity has every reason to be insecure about me!  Ha, ha!  Talk about existential angst!

(Oh, and by the way, I have come to believe that anyone who isn't paranoid is kee-rayy-zee!)


April 6, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

Before I came to help care for my parents I met at least three women who were caregiving (or overseeing the caregiving of) a parent.  Every one of them spoke of a lack of support (either financial, emotional, or of time - or all three!) by their siblings during the difficult time of their parent's last years.

When my dad was in the hospital a few years back, a nurse spoke quite bitterly about her father's attempt to hold down a job and care for her bedridden mother.  He died trying.

A few nights ago, I saw a PBS show about people taking care of their elderly parents, and a doctor said that often the care-givers push themselves too hard, and they end up with two people in the hospital instead of one!

Compared with the people featured on the show, I am scarcely a caregiver.  The whole burden of chores has not devolved upon me.  One of my out-of-state sisters does all the financial stuff via computer.  The other is willing to have our mother come stay a week or two when I travel.

My mother is still up and around, doing her own dishes and laundry.  We are supposed to have hired help doing my mom's cleaning, but she hasn't called the woman who cleans house for help since before Thanksgiving.  If a particular area bothers me too much, I clean it myself.  Keep track of her medications for her?  You've got to be kidding!  She takes a pill when she damn well wants to!

In many ways I have a soft life.  I don't have to work at a regular job (the flip side of not having been able to get a regular job!) so I am not subject to that particular monumental stressor.  I am free to follow my own pursuits for hours every day.  But being around an older, more sedentary person is in itself a little debillitating.  It's easy to forget to shift gears from slow and steady to quick and aerobic.

I know that I eat too much dark chocolate to sweeten my life, not because my life is so difficult but because I have so much time to yield to temptation!  (If the coffee doesn't kill me the chocolate will!  (Ha ha!  Hopefully!)

Now that Spring is here, I am trying to both walk and bike every possible day to give me more confidence in my own health and condition.

But honestly, just living with a somewhat teetery parent is bound to focus your attention more on health, death and preservation, just as having your first child is a bracing twist for your awareness of the mortal coil.

It's kind of scary!


April 5, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

I guess I must plead guilty to Party irresponsibility and not keeping up with election news in the past.

I don't remember hearing about superdelegates before, or at least, not much.  Now I'm confused.

Don't superdelegates sound like a Party equivalent to the electoral college?

A few years back I heard that Hillary Clinton wanted to abolish the electoral college.  I said, "right on!"  Now it really comes home to me that the Democratic Party has a similar institution in delegates and superdelegates.  Why is that?  And why does Clinton seem not to have a problem with it?

How many layers must come between the popular vote and power?  As many, perhaps, as between my one little key stroke I type and this "O" that appears on the screen!  (Plus all the little internal struggles that prompted me to type "O" instead of "E!")

April 4, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

The New Poor:

Professional, highly educated, well-intentioned, hard-working if they are lucky enough to have work, which they often do not.

Saddled with debt, no, yoked to a wagon-load of debts, even if they get professional work to match their education, they are poor.  They can't afford to buy a house, not even the cheap houses up for grabs now.

The women, far from having a dowry to help allure available young men, have a reverse dowry, a mountain of debt.  The young men cannot offer a young woman financial security along with a ring.

The young men and women both, if they cannot get jobs in their fields, are often disqualified for lower-level employment;  as if it were a sign of incompetence (which in my experience as a low-level clerical employee with a bachelor's degree, it is definitely not) they are considered overqualified and eliminated from consideration for jobs educationally beneath them.

The logic is, presumably, that people who had the persistence to go through years of school would not stay in a low-level job.  This may be true, but in fact they often outlast their less-educated contemporaries who could not even tolerate school, let alone the drudgery of the average job!

The New Poor:  They played by all of society's rules and demands.  They got the training, got the jobs, and then got laid off.  Now they have trouble entering new fields of endeavor because of their age, or because they lack the money to go back to school (and why should they bother? - see above.)

They have trouble getting work in realms where they already have experience, because their potential employers would rather have inexperienced young people to train than older people who are more likely to have their own ideas of how the job they did for five years (or twenty-five!) should be done.  (This attitude on the part of employers is understandable, but I know that it has contributed to the bust of at least one thriving business!)

One economist commenting on television had the gall to talk about consumers "talking themselves into being fearful" of spending.  No, conversely, they actually have spent the last eight years talking themselves into spending, rationalizing that the economy needs them to spend, and they can always pay off that credit card debt!

Another had the gall to attribute the recession to the collapse in housing, as if the average American homeowner just chose not to pay his/her mortgage.  No!  These people lost the jobs (or one of the jobs!) that they had counted on to pay their mortgages!  Don't make the American citizen the cause of the collapse!  Maybe some were unrealistic about what they could afford, but what they were really unrealistic about was how safe their jobs were.

Too bad the corporations and businesses of the United States haven't been there for their employees.  Now their employees can't be there for them!

I guess they'll just have to market their stuff overseas!  Too bad those people don't have to pay taxes to the U.S. Government, so they can help bail out the corporations and financial institutions!


April 3, 2008                                Valparaiso, IN

A friend of mine brought up a difficult issue in a conversation I had with him this morning.  He was complaining about our society's perception of and labeling people as "crazy."

Years ago I read a book by a mental health professional in which he said he would never call anyone "crazy."  It is insulting and demeaning, he said, so I have tried to cut the word out of my vocabulary, except when talking about a situation, or about a person who I am intending to insult!  (That is, as long as he/she is not mentally ill!  If she were mentally ill, I would most certainly not call her "crazy!")  Crazy, huh?

Well this friend was talking about the fact that all you would have to do to keep someone from getting hired was call him "crazy." He thinks this is very wrong.  He is wondering why it is politically okay to call someone "crazy" and he hates the way all people who have some mental disorder or disease are lumped together and called "crazy."  It drives him, well, crazy!

I'm inclined to agree with him.  Let's just drop the word "crazy" except for light-hearted slang usage.  I'll try not to use the word even to intentionally insult anyone!  Might be liable for slander, even though the word really doesn't seem to have a meaning any more!

I may (or may not!) be bipolar and/or be suffering from Asperger's syndrome and/or Borderline disorder.  I may be a little claustrophobic and at least one of my bosses called me "neurotic."

But I certainly wouldn't call myself "crazy!"

And people who I would (if I used the word, which from now on I won't in such a context!) call "crazy" by definition, like people who kill out of greed, the courts won't call "crazy" or even "insane."


But I don't think we will eliminate the word from the English language completely.

It's too much fun to say!


April 2, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

Years ago I read in the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching a wonderful idea about the soul.  I think.  Since then I have looked for it (without going to the extreme measure of reading the whole book cover to cover!) and not found it again.

The gist of what I read is that the soul sees a star in the heavens, and reaches for it (spiritually, one presumes) and the very yearning of the soul towards the star institutes change in one's life.

(If anyone knows where that image comes from, let me know!)

That image has been a real guide to me, like the star of the Magi.

Wishing evil on someone else seems like a scrabbling around in gravel and dirt by comparison.  Why must our imaginations limit themselves to our present circumstances?

The answer is, they don't have to.  We do it to ourselves, or get into bad habits!

A helpless child may sometimes wish for an oppressive parent to be gone from his/her presence.  But wouldn't the wish for herself to be away from the parent be much more liberating?  There is a much bigger world "out there" than whatever your smaller world (be it a bad marriage or a bad school situation) contains.  And of course, in the case of a child, the way out is normally just a matter of time!

Why do we so often want to be the movers and manipulators, instead of allowing ourselves to be moved?  I believe if we constructively involve ourselves in the broader world, a way out of a present unpleasant situation is more likely to open up for us!

Are we ready for liberation from the struggle set up and staged for us by others?  Or are we just too engaged in conflict and fighting to look up?


April 1, 2008                                 Valparaiso, IN

A note on race:

The other day a friend of mine commented, "I don't even see why they call Obama "black."  He's half white."

It made me realize that we North Americans have really suffered a poverty of imagination when it comes to our racial designations.

Why can't we take inspiration from the fashion designers?  They have tens of names for "blue," but when it comes to race, we ordinary citizens call every color of human from ebony to a dark ivory "black."

A "white" person can look like anything from a recent snowfall to a very dark mocha.  The overlap in actual color between "black" and "white" people has got to be at least 95%!  This obsession with black and white is not only a bore, but quite frankly, it's stupid.

To me, it highlights a lame desire for a simplicity that is too uncomplicated and anachronistic for our present age.

The United States has been around for over two hundred years now, and so have many of its citizens' families.  Figure a new generation every twenty years or so, add a dollop of denial when it comes to race and color, and the chances are that we are all mongrels - and I don't just mean nationality mutts!  I mean racial mutts!  And that doesn't even count what happened before our ancestors came here!

Maybe there are purebred something-or-others in the world, but I am sure they must be in the pockets of the world their ancestors lived in for centuries, and hmmm.... before that, people were still moving around and mating!

I think we should be more aesthetically realistic when it comes to color and not be reduced to basic black and white.  When it comes to humans, the terms "black" and "white" are just plain inaccurate.

I myself would like to think of myself as "piglet pink" but am probably more on the order of "sallow sow" (except when foundation make-up turns me a "rosy beige!")  But I had a grandfather who in his younger photos (unfortunately black and white!) sure looks sexily "something else" to me!  There are also rumors in the family about Native American blood.  I proudly admit I'm a "mongrel." 

The Reverend Wright thundering about white people makes me laugh.  He's almost white!  At least a photo of him and Obama together shows him as "whiter" than Obama!  He's practically ecru!  Oh, yeah, "black" man, vent your racial anger!  And go ahead, anonymous KKK member, tout your "racial purity!"  Ha, ha!  I'm rolling around on the floor laughing, but in neither of your aisles!

No longer will I use a designation "white" or "black" to describe a human being.

I suggest everyone take themselves to a paint store - or fashion designer - color consultants could hire themselves out for $35 or more a session and give you not only your season but your hue!

Rich people could brag about who gave them their "tone" and how much it cost.

Me, henceforth I will not answer to "white."  I now designate my color, with humility, as "sallow sow."

I'm not stupid!  (Hmmm....except maybe when it comes to marketing myself...hmmm....  Where's the phone book?  I'm going to hire myself a color consultant!)

Or, on second thought, where's the nearest paint store? 

March 31, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

What's in a sigh?

We all have heard about sighs of relief and contentment.  Often sighs are associated with discontent and sadness.

I read a Chinese text (don't remember what - I haven't read many!) which, translated, said that when you sigh you are getting ready to die.  (I hope not!)

I practice deep breathing sometimes to relax.  One of those might sound a lot like a sigh.

That Chinese interpretation has me worrying a little, though.  Is sighing the sign of a bad heart or a need for more oxygen?  Is my body unconsciously doing an "out with the old, in with the new" chore that should be alerting me to the fact that I need less fat and more exercise?  (Just writing something like that gives me a pain in the left side of my chest!)

Babies, according to one site I checked, often sigh when they hit a new environment.  I think we adults might do that too!

Hmmm. Just did more website reading.  Hit one site that gave exercises to let you know how you are doing in your breathing.  Makes me think I have been resting on my laurels!

This site recommends raw foods (lots - like 75% of your diet!)  It also recommends exercise, which I know I'm not getting enough of lately.  It gives you tests you can conduct at home to check on the quality of your breathing. is the site, but you can google breathing function sigh and it is high up on the list!

Gee, it turns out there may be a lot more to a sigh than I thought!  When my breathing improves, I might be sighing a lot less!


March 30, 2008                              Valparaiso, IN

Lemme see, more about associations.  (Another silly one here, if you don't like silly, skip to the end!)

Barack sounds like "Borat."  Obama sounds like bombs and mama.

Clinton evokes clinches and the clink.  The name Clinton, however is the name of really a truly great President, and everybody knows that behind a great man is a great woman!

Really, what is all this fuss about we Democrats not all getting behind either one or the other of our candidates?

The press (and practically everybody else, as far as I can tell! (except the candidates)) puts a negative spin on this when it is something to be proud of!  Why?

1. We have not one, but two viable candidates!

2. We have two, given the state of the oligarchy, really awesome viable candidates!

3.  They are passionate, committed, competitive fighters who,

4.  in addition, believe in the power of persuasion and negotiation!

5.  They think freedom of speech is a good thing not just in theory (hey folks, remember the Constitution?) but in practice!  They think that this is what democracy is all about.  (Well, even if we don't really have one, at least we still have this right - the right to say so!)

Why are so many Americans whining about the "fighting" of our candidates?

There have been no physical blows exchanged.  No secret assassins hired.  What kind of wusses have the citizens of this nation become, that we can't handle open debate?  What, is all this fighting taking too much time out from our favored sit-com viewing?  We seem to handle an infinite amount of struggle when it comes to our sports consumption!  What have we become, a nation of McIdiots?  (The Europeans think so, from what I hear.)

The Other Candidate - the only acceptable one his party could come up with, seemingly - talked in public about never doing anything that would embarrass his family, when he not only had an affair with, but left his former wife and children for, his present wife.  Well, sure, it was a long time ago.  But if it happened, you don't have the right to claim that you "would never" do such a thing!  The most you have a right to say is that you would never do such a thing again!

And, no, I am not being judgmental!  Well, yes I am.  Not about sexual pecadilloes or changes of affection, which (I'm sorry, oh faithful upholders of the social order) are all-too-human.  I'm judgmental about hypocrisy.  I'm really judgmental about not being real.  Oh, a little bit of white non-reality (as in white lie - is that a politically incorrect phrase now? - probably!) is undoubtedly essential to the smooth working order of our society.  But having a lily-white guy standing up there acting as if his behavior has been lily-white galls me.

Ha, ha!  When it comes to behavior perhaps McCain is the blackest of the three candidates!

(Oh, have I just insulted black people?  Damn, I just caught myself in cultural linguistic racism!  I'll have to get a whole new set of linguistic imagery to express myself!  I'll work on that!)

But for now, the best I can come up with for Democrats is, "Nyah, nyah, our candidates are greener than your candidate!" 

March 29, 2008                              Valparaiso, IN

I had a vision to drive me right out of bed and (one hour later) to my computer this morning!  I know this starts out pretty silly, but bear with me!  I promise it will get very silly!

I was thinking about the O factor, and how Barack Obama has one less "o" than I thought in his name, putting him on more of an equal par with Hillary Clinton, who has one small "o" and another one hidden in her middle name, which is Rodham.

Ha, ha!  I thought, groggily!  McCain has no "o" in it at all! Then the horrible vision appeared.  It was McCain's name just as it appears, big and bold, in his TV ads!

Oh, no!  McCain has no "o," but does he have something that (oh, no) Trumps it?!  McCain has a "Mc!"  (Now there's an interesting editorial dilemma for you, do you use an "a" before "Mc" or do you use an "an," in case people read it aloud in their minds like "emcee?") Oh no, yet another (this time psychological) advantage!  The emcee's are in charge - they play the tunes!)

"Mc!"  As in McDonalds!  This realization has struck me a tremendous blow.  I even imagine that the print type used in McCain's ad is the same or very similar to McDonald's, but someone else will have to check that.  Or me, later.

Is it possible... could it be?  Does "Mc" trump "O"?

Could be... I'm wondering.  Did McDonald's succeed so well partly because of the popularity of Disney's McDuck family?  We have here the aura of wealth of McDuck plus the niceness of Donald in one fast form!  (And remember that Donald is a duck, and ducks are food!)  McDonalds!  Everyone knows that they are trying to take over the world!

(Oh, don't trouble me with the historical fact that McDonald was the name of the folks who started the business!  I'm talking about why the corporation has taken fire so!  (Yes, yes, I know they had innovative business practices, but why did they work?)) 

And now, "McDonalds" is known all over the world!  Would most people, going solely by name recognition, choose McCain for our next president, just because of the "Mc?"  No matter that the second syllable is "Cain," who killed his own brother!

I tell you, this is a nightmare!  Even getting up, drinking coffee, and eating breakfast hasn't made it go away!

I'm afraid that after November 3, I will wake up and our first elected "McPresident" will give a speech.  During his first year of office, our country will officially become the McStates of McMerica.

That poor little "o" in the middle of it all won't stand a chance!  Forget "United!"  These states may be mashed!  Or "freedom fried!"  (That's not really torture, though!)

Oh, no!  I just remembered McCain has an "o," too!  In his first name, John!  I'm sorry.... now I'm breaking down.... I've got to go!  I'm afraid my tears (boo hoo) are going to short out my computer!

(More tomorrow on associations, also hypocrisy and perception!  I can hardly wait!)

March 28, 2008                                  Valparaiso, IN

It struck me last week, finally, why some people don't talk much.  It is because they rarely listen, or at any rate rarely act on what they hear!

If you don't listen to anyone else, why would you bother to speak?  Judging by yourself, your assumption would be that no one pays attention or cares anyway!

So why do I even bother?

Because some of the things that have helped me most have been told to me by strangers or mere acquaintances.

Plus - I enjoy the exchange!

So..... talk to me!

March 27, 2008                                    Valparaiso, IN

I was watching The Colbert Report on the Comedy channel right after the writer's strike ended.  A bunch of people he said were returning writers filed by and he handed them each a pencil.  It was funny, and I'm sure many of them were writers, but so many?  A dozen or so?  One of them was Kevin Bacon.  Maybe he writes too (that's how he gets into so many movies ha ha.)

But it just struck me (several weeks later - there's the lightning bolt of my thought processes for you!) there were no women!  Zero!  (Unless of course there was one there who was so much dressed for comfort (or to be like the boys!) that I didn't notice her!)  Just kidding.  I'm pretty sure there were no women!

Not to single out that particular show, but maybe that is why so much comedy today is so puerile!  Borat might have thought it was funny to stuff Pamela Anderson into a bag (just had an interesting thought about that - he was doing unto her what he wanted her to do to him!  (Why do I feel compelled to say ha, ha, why do I not trust you folks to know when I'm joking?  Maybe because I am not always sure when other people are joking!)) - but really I meant to say the opposite, that if some random stranger were to try to stuff Borat into a a bag there would have been some serious damage done.  Or damages paid, I bet.

But women are fair game, evidently, and much more prone to flee (even with big boobs and little heels) than fight. 

There is a lot of free-floating hostility and anger towards women around.  Lots.  And I'm getting a little tired of laughing at it.

Jay Leno may be trying to raise the consciousness of Americans (oh, you're not?  my apologies!) but I can't help but wonder about how many of the writers for his show are women?  And how many writers does his show have?  Four dozen?

(Oh, a little footnote regarding Jay Leno and the sexes.  He likes to quote from journals and I usually trust him for accuracy when he's not trying to be funny (and like I said, I can't always tell!)  But I think he got his facts wrong when he said "You get your intelligence from your mother."  I mean to say, if the "you" he was talking to were all men, this would be correct.  But his audience does contain women, does it not?  I know the TV viewing audience does (me, at least!)  And it is my understanding that women inherit their intelligence from both parents.  So whether Leno read something different or whether he forgot about the fact that women and men were different with regards to inheriting intelligence, I don't know.)

I think a lot of the nature of our intelligence has to do with what questions we ask, and that could be learned from either parent! 

(Hmmm.... Jay Leno collects cars and he and his wife have no children... I wonder what she collects?)

                             (...........and blah blah blah......................


March 26, 2008                            Valparaiso, IN

Read yesterday's first before you read this if you want continuity.  Same essay!

Emerson's saying, "If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door" might have been true in his day, although I doubt it.

If it were true, we wouldn't have to use sex to sell cars!

If you want a path beaten to your door, make sure your product is good, market your product (preferably with nubile young men and/or women), and do you still have a winner?

Well, maybe.  But popularity, that nebulous sheeplike thing, raises its wolfish head here.  Sorry, people would rather have something "in" than something that works well!

And political correctness becomes an issue, and whether your product is "green!"  Aesthetics are important to many of us.  Oh, and cheapness carries the day!

I'm not criticizing these realities.  They are just reality.  I'm criticizing Emerson's saying as just too simplistic for this world!

So, making a better mousetrap isn't going to make the world beat a path to your door.  I'm willing to hope that telling a better mousetrap story will, though!  Ha, ha!

(Oh, and beware the possibility that if the world does beat a path to your door, it might just become a superhighway!  (Ask Johnny Depp!))  

March 25, 2008                             Valparaiso, IN

Everybody has heard the saying "If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door."  (Just Googled it - Emerson said it.)  When I started my writing this morning, I had already thought about one qualification to that statement, which was that people had to know about this fantastic mousetrap.  The person whose website I accessed mentioned that too (surprise, surprise.  He was talking about marketing.)

But he, like everyone else, said of the original statement, "how true."  Well I, ever the questioning rebel, beg to differ.  I no longer think it is a true statement.  Why?  I'll tell you.

The best mousetrap I ever used was a live mousetrap.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico, in our pre-cat days, we had mice.  At first I used what my parents had used - the classic mousetrap of cartoons that features a spring.  (It is so ubiquitous it must be "the best!")

We used that trap a few times, I guess.  My husband probably got the dirty job of emptying the traps (that's okay, I took out the garbage every week!) so the numbers escape me.  But one day my husband was not home, and a mouse was thrashing around in the trap caught by the tip of his nose!

I had to take it out to the back yard and kill it with a rock.  It was a very traumatic experience for both of us.

"Never again," I said, and immediately dropped out of the "best" mouse trap's customer base.  (I feel that the classic trap is best suited to vengeful or sadistic people!)

I borrowed a live mouse trap from a friend.  It worked immediately and perfectly!  All you had to do was put a little whole wheat flour in there (no messy cheese! and no messy bodies or blood!) and as I recall that very first night we caught three little mice!  I released them in the large arroyo near St. John's College.  They scampered away immediately and had at least a chance at survival.  If they became supper for an owl or hawk, well, at least someone got some good out of them!

I returned the trap and that was that.  After that, before mice became an issue again, we got a cat.  Having a cat around the house seems to be a pretty good deterrent.  (Sometimes you have to leave cupboard doors open so the cat can get inside and prowl around!  Luckily our cats were not generous with us when it came to their kills!)

But here in Valparaiso we have no cat.  So when mice became a problem, I went to a store that specializes in devermination (made that one up, I think!)  I had a choice between two live traps, one metal one twice the size of the one I had borrowed years before, and one plastic one.  I chose the metal one and set it out.


When I saw what I hoped was a vole in the bathroom (why in the bathroom?) I set the trap in there.  Soon I had caught a mouse!  (One.)  I released it in the railyard, with high hopes that it would soon by joined by other members of its family.

But, no.  It was not to be.  Despite other relocations and tactics, we have caught no more mice.  It cost $16 something plus tax to save the one (small) mouse I caught. (Save it from me, that is.)

Why wasn't that "best" in my life mousetrap the mousetrap de rigeur in that store?

Well, this has already run on too long for one day!  I'll give you my thoughts on that tomorrow! 


March 24, 2008                         Valparaiso, IN

A Yahoo headline today puts the U.S. death toll in Iraq at 4,000.  I didn't really want to read the article.  It would be like all the other articles, I felt.  But the statement of the title begs the question, how many Iraqis have died?  Would the article say?  I had to read it.

Well, yes, it did.  Between 80,000 and 90,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the "war" began. (These numbers differ widely depending on what organization is trying to tally them.  Are random murders and explosions counted?  Did the people trying to tally the count really cover the territory?  Etc. etc.)

There are estimates that maybe 2,000,000 people were killed by Hussein's government during the years he was in power - over two decades.  The average per year may be more or less the same pre-Hussein and post-Hussein.  Who knows?  The figures are shrouded in mystery.  Hopefully what is going on now in Iraq is the necessary disorder that will ultimately result in greater order.  Democratic order, that is.  I'm certainly not here to say what is/would have been/will have been best.  God I'm not.

But it seems to me anyone dealing with the United States Government had better be aware that they are not dealing with a "king" (in the old sense as "sole ruler") or a dictator.  Our policy now cannot be relied on to be our policy in four years.  Our President's word cannot be relied upon in the same way as can be the word of a powerful individual dictator.

But in this day and age, dictatorships are passe, and dictators are automatically suspect.  Everyone knows that people who rule that way are bullies and tyrants, and who trusts the words of bullies and tyrants anyway?

Well, the U.S. behaves like a bully and tyrant sometimes, whose words cannot be trusted either.  We, as citizens of the U.S., are subject to our own changes in political power and climate.  Of course people who ally themselves with us will suffer the consequences of these fluctuations also!

So what is the appeal of democracy?  Why is it better than dictatorships or a benevolent tyranny?

It's that we have all these seductive freedoms.  And they have the right to be seductive.  They are wonderful, and they are not all about sex as many seem to think.  (Says more about the occupations of their minds than the nature of our freedoms!)

Of course, that statement begs the questions, Do we still really have our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms?  Are we still really a democracy?

Good question!

We as individuals, all of us, want to be able to have the right to change our minds.  Of course our governmental policy is going to reflect it if we do! 



March 23, 2008                          Valparaiso, IN

This morning I celebrated Easter by drinking my morning coffee out of one of my mother's cups, a big pink one evocative of an Easter egg!

I contemplated what a sheer luxury it is - hot coffee on a cold morning!  (Well, even more of a sheer luxury on a cool summer morning, but I probably won't give that up either!)

A friend of mine tells me coffee will kill me in the end.

He may be right, although the most recent newscasts say no.

If you really look at it, all our luxuries, although wonderful, are only so many nails in our coffins.

Our wonderful abundant yummy food supply - not as good for you as traditional diets.  The incredible smoothness and ease of your car ride surpasses the luxury of the horse-drawn carriages of the princes of yore!  But at least those riders got the small-muscle-bundle exercise that all the jouncing around in one of those provided.  I have detected some exercise of different muscles after an unusually long car ride.  Not enough, I fear, to count as aerobic exercise!

Lots of rich "kids" die (relatively) young.  Fast cars, fast boats, and airplanes are dangerous toys.  Swimming pools are more of a threat to children than guns.

So congratulations, you of the (lower?) middle classes!  Live long and die in only relative luxury!  And thank your lucky stars that you are who you are, because although you (and I!) are an endangered "species," as individuals we are in a damn good survival niche!   

March 22, 2008                          Valparaiso, IN

Whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius?  What happened to "Peace Love Dove?"  Where have all the Flower Children gone?

It seems to me that now, more and more it is the Age of the Fanatic:  fanatic money-earners, fanatic addicts of all kinds, and oh, yeah, last but not least religious fanatics.

Death threats against a person who draws cartoons!  Honestly!

Real voluntary crucifixions in the Phillipines!  Twenty of them!  With real nails!  (At least in the picture I saw they looked like real nails to me!  The caption didn't say it was crucifiction!)

I know that weird things are always going on in the world.  But damn, I wish religious people wouldn't go fanatical.  They think they have God on their side and really lose perspective.  They are dangerous!

How come we still have so many fanatical people in the world?  If they were so spiritual, how come religious fanatics seem to have reproduced themselves so effectively?  Shouldn't they have weeded themselves out of the gene pool by now?

I miss the Age of Aquarius!  I miss the peace sign and psychedelic art and patchouli and "peace love dove!"

I miss the good old days!

March 21, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

Some psychologist (I think it was Jung but don't quote me!) wrote years ago that the person who identifies with his/her persona comes off as being shallow.  (Another adjective was given also, but I forget - superficial, maybe?)

At the time I read it I was struck with horror at the thought that all my life (into my thirties, it would seem!) I had indeed identified with my persona, and possibly been seen as shallow.  I didn't consider myself shallow!

Now, I'm looking more critically at that statement.  Not identifying with your persona would indicate to me a definite split in the ol' psyche.  From my present vantage-point it seems that the person who doesn't try to have a persona that reflects his real self is pretending or hypocritical.   I am willing to admit that to a certain extent we all do that, and if we do, then none of us identifies with our persona!  So who the hell was he talking about?

Now I feel that we are all quite a complicated layering (as in computers) of feelings, perceptions, urges, and dreams that we can completely know no more than we can know the whole external world!

So, honestly, I think what he is saying is moot.  In fact, I understand it less than ever.  If he is stating a fact that helps us step back from ourselves - maybe even laugh at ourselves - that is helpful!  Especially since our personae change with the company we keep!  Is what he is calling for an ability to acknowledge that "I could not be myself" around some people?

Might as well be conscious of it, I guess!

March 20, 2008                      Valparaiso, IN

My current reading of John Barth's Sabbatical reminds me of an idea I had a few weeks ago as a project for me, but then dismissed it (for myself) with a kind of helpless "but how could I do the necessary outreach?" kind of attitude.

My idea is The Dream Project which would be an online dream reporting service.  Interested parties could get online and tell their dreams - where they were (if known) - who was there (if known) what happened.  Date and hour (insofar as it is known.)  Then all the dreams could be sorted at will (and information sifted) and we could find out if dreams really happen!  I mean, communally, at the dream level!

Oh, yeah, I just remembered another objection I had to a dream project!  Talk about an invasion of privacy!  And if it were finally determined that our dreams really are a reality in themselves and exist beyond the single dreamer, then what?  Revenge for something the dreamer did in a dream that he doesn't even remember?  Witnesses who are killed because of what they saw - in a dream?  That they have no memory of?  Spies operating by way of dreamscape?

No, it is just silly.  I hope.

I just love that the internal world is so inaccessible to others!

(Psst!  Except via dreams!  Watch out!)


March 19, 2008                            Valparaiso, IN

What was going on in the minds of the people who originally set up the basic email screen?

Why on earth would they use a button with the word "compose" on it, instead of the universally used word, which is "write?"

When I first learned to email, I quickly scanned the screen for the word "write" and was stymied.  My kind instructor pointed out the word "compose."  (I have a friend who still uses the word as an excuse not to email.  He doesn't respond to my emails because he would have to "compose" something.)

Everybody I know "writes" a letter.  (Well, not often, anymore, I admit.)  So why on earth use the word "compose?" 

Was it snobbery?  ("Let's make the rabble learn a TWO-syllable word, ha ha!")


Was it unconscious envy?  ("God, I wish I was writing rock music or an atonal symphony instead of sitting here doing this shit-work that is only going to REVOLUTIONIZE THE WORLD!")

Maybe not.

Was it self-importance? ("Most people simply 'write' letters, I am a" (pompous) "individual who 'composes a missive'!")

Was it fatigue? ("I gotta grab a No-Doze before I finish this up" combined with assonance? (That's a pun, ha ha!))

Maybe it was (woowoo music) the POWER of O!

Maybe the Power of O is the Power of  Poetry!  WOOOO!

(Anyway, I think this person has a lot to answer for.  Maybe seeing that "compose" button is making a lot of us really do some composition.

Just think!  Websites like this might not have existed if he had put on the screen that humble ubiquitous word, "write!"

Well, maybe!)

March 18, 2008                           Valparaiso, IN

New York City has rent control.  How come homeowners everywhere from Santa Fe, New Mexico to communities on Lake Michigan here in the Midwest can be forced out of their homes by rising taxes?

Shouldn't governments be making some kind of accommodations that allow people who want to live in their family homes to be able to do so?  Aren't rising insurance rates
and rising energy bills enough of a challenge?

Somehow it doesn't seem right for a government for, of, by etc. to charge taxes
so burdensome that people must move out of their homes.

I've heard complaints about this for twenty years and more, in more than one community.  Why do we tolerate it?

Failing a change in the laws, why not have insurance to cover this eventuality?  We have insurance to cover the loss of a home due to flood, fire, etc.  How about covering homes against loss due to a rise in taxes?

Oh, yeah, the people in those homes probably can't afford all that expensive insurance!  Oh, also, rising taxes are more common than floods or fires!  Right!  Well, it is an idea I still offer as a possible solution to the problem.   

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