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Rumilluminations July 2009
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Wed, July 01 2009 - 12:34 pm

July 31, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Anyone who is honest will admit they don't really "know" where they were born the way they know where they went to school.

How can they say where they were born?  They really have to take it on trust!

There sure are a lot of Chicken Littles in this country who think the earth is rising up in an earthquake just because a darker person has attained the highest office in the land!

Yuk, yuk - bunch of little white domesticated Chicken Littles!

Okay, okay, I'll be good, I'll be good!

I won't make fun.  I'll be direct.

If your image of yourself and our country is so narrow that it can't allow for diversity, you aren't a real American, birth certificate or no!

Lighten up already!

Ha, ha!  I mean, your spirit, not your skin! 

July 30, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

My mother was born in Pueblo, Colorado, we think.  She was orphaned by age nine or five (depending on whose memory you want to trust) and her birth certificate did not travel with her.

When she, a grown woman with three children, wanted to visit Germany with my father, she had to have an affidavit from her aunt that she was born in the U.S.A.

Why not go to the hospital where she was born and get a copy of her birth certificate?  The hospital (or should it have been in a courthouse - who knows?) burned and the records were lost.

My Dad was born in Port David, Panama, where his parents were missionaries.  When he was drafted to fight in World War II, he was turned away - because his nystagmus made him 4-F.

Nobody has ever, as far as I know, challenged or questioned his citizenship.

I am told I was born here in Valparaiso, IN.  I have a couple of different birth certificates to prove it.

But, to be honest, who knows?  I was there (or from my point of view, here!) when I was born, I'm fairly sure of that.  But who really knows?  Documents can be forged!

Quite frankly, knowing where you were born is kind of like knowing who your mommy or daddy is.  Now, what with DNA, it is probably even harder to prove.

"Birthers", all we humans were born.  And that's about all we can be sure of!

July 29, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Been reading The Family by Jeffrey Sharlet (more on the book in Book Butterflies when I'm done reading it) and now the current prevalence - if not ubiquity! - of conspiracy theories is explained to me.

Paranoid people are often reacting to their feelings of something threatening them - whether vague or acute.

Often a real threat or at least negative circumstance is actually present and is what the paranoid one is responding to.  Lacking information, however, the sufferer imagines something - anything! - to account for his negative feelings.

When you read The Family and get information (gleaned from that not-organization's archives) about their secret activities and over-arching mission in the world, our citizens' quite large conspiracy-mongering paranoid minority is explained.

In the absence of information, you make up stuff to explain your feelings.

But unlike personal paranoia, in which what a person imagines is often worse than reality, what the populace of our country is unconsciously responding to is far worse than the minor conspiracy theories (e.g. Obama is not a citizen) it is imagining to explain its feelings.

Maybe not for us, but certainly for some other parts of the world!

Oh, and by the way, as a friend of mine observed when I was going through a difficult period:  often when you are suffering a conflict, you externalize it and project the threat to your perceived self onto something or someone else.  Remember that when you are afraid!

Where is the threat you feel coming from?  Is it real or elaborated upon to the point of complete fantasy?

What are you doing to get the information you need to evaluate your fears? 

July 28, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

I'm worried about Americans.  The economy needs us to buy, so we are saving.  We wouldn't save when our own personal family budgets needed it, but now that the country, all of us, need to spend (within reason) we are saving money.

We have a chance at a public health care option, so now we are listening to people who tell us it is designed to kill old people!  (At least, they are trying to get us to listen to them!)

Are the conservatives insane?  Are we really as paranoid as they think we are?

Even I am not paranoid enough to believe this garbage!

The far right has great self-esteem, it seems.  And they think we have such low self-esteem that we will believe that the man we have chosen for President is not even a citizen.  They think we have such low self-esteem that we think our elected government is trying to kill us.

What I think - if you don't like the Democratic Party, start your own!  The Republican Party is committing suicide!  They are trying to poison the Democratic Party, but by accident they have sipped their own poison brew!

Green Party?  Are you going to be the second major party?

What is your highest value?  What would be the name of your party?

The elephant is no longer ecologically viable.  (I speak symbolically here).  It has become mired in the mud along with the woolly mammoth and the mastadon! 


July 27, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

I have a problem, and I don't understand it.

I have been working out at a gym for five months now, and the music has just now started to bother me.

Usually I can distract myself from it, but this morning I woke up with some of it in my head.  ..."I should have known better than to cheat a friend.... I'll never dance like that with you again."

No, I haven't been cheating any friends.  I have not been in any soap opera romantics lately.  I don't like the music (even less than the one that goes, "I don't care about anything at all but ME!"  No, on second thought I like that one less.)

I don't understand it.  I went to the Supermarket today with the express purpose (second to food shopping) of noticing the background music, but I don't remember hearing one measure of it!  Yet a phone call to Town and Country assures me they do play music.  (I remember learning decades ago that supermarket music puts you into a trance so you buy buy buy.  Well, I only got what was on my list, but a trance is what I must have been in!)

Maybe I'm not working out hard enough.  No pain-so-absorbing-that-it-blocks-out-all-sound no gain?

A couple weeks ago a guy working in the free-weight section called out, "You wanna dance?" seemingly to everybody and anybody.  He was trying to send a message that the music was too pleasant, not rhythmically driving enough to work out to.  (No, I didn't find out his motive by trying to take him up on his offer, honest!  I don't even know who it was!)

That music wasn't too bad, as I recall.

But I don't remember it!

July 26, 2009                                    Valparaiso, IN

This morning my partner and I went on a ride that pretty much covered where I went two weeks ago today - a little less here, a little more there.

While we were on 600 North west of town a man on a roadbike blew by us.  That's definitely the way to go if you want speed and long distance ease!

We were riding at a more leisurely pace.  I have to tell you folks who are contemplating riding in the Lake District (don't know if it's called that here, but what the hell) and maybe along the Vale Park Road bike path, the summer flowers have to be at their height right now.

I don't think I've ever had a better bike ride for flowers!

The weather has been ideal, too.  Don't delay!  Two weeks from now they won't be blooming like this!

I hope this exhortation to ride applies to more folks than just Valparaiso people.  Anyplace with a comparable climate might be at its flowering height!  Don't miss the peak!

July 25, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Let's see.  If Jesus is now (and has been for at least half a century, it seems) aligned with power (by the Family, that secretive political non-organization with no card-carrying members) which engages in the logic that:

A has power

therefore A is aligned with God (call him Jesus in the U.S., folks)

therefore if I align myself with A, I will have power

and also be aligned with God)

my logical conclusion is (while aligning myself with Lord Acton) that the name Jesus has now been absolutely corrupted by all the power of those who use his name.

It is with great regret that I, Esther the Queen of Introspection, declare that it is now time to retire Jesus.

Not the real-life Jesus who was probably just trying to emulate Moses and free his people from tyranny.

Nope, just the trumped-up meaningless Jesus that the powers-that-want-to-be-forever-Amen have been using to cover their own behavior, which is basically ethically amoral.

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull had it right thirty-five years ago when he and his wife wrote the lyrics for the album Aqualung.  Well, I resonated with what he was saying way back then, but I didn't know how right he was!

It's time for the Second Coming, and I don't mean of a human or a God!

How about the second coming of the Word - which, hopefully this time, can make some sense? 

July 24, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Why are the people who deny that Obama is an American citizen called "birthers"?

It seems to me all moms are birthers!  This should be a positive appellation!  I don't believe there is any experience more real than giving birth, but "birthers" are delusional - not only about reality but their motives (racial bias) for their deeply unsportsmanlike behavior. 

Yes, unsportsmanlike.  What sore losers these folks are!  They are the kinds of folks who will try to change the rules of any game they are losing.

Why do they believe the deposition of the aged, probably ga-ga African step-grandmother of Obama (that she witnessed his birth in Kenya) over the State of Hawaii's routine birth documentation?

God save them from the "memories" of their aging parents!  My mother, who most people think is still compos mentis, is forever remembering stuff that never happened.  If a portion of her recollection did happen, her reporting is in wild disproportion to the actual occurrence!

The lunatic fringe is, as always, believing what it wants to believe.

This is almost guaranteed to have no relation to reality! 

July 23, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

How do you dry your hands using the air dryer in public bathrooms?  A friend of mine saw a comic piece showing men coming out of a bathroom wiping their hands on various parts of their bodies.

When my hands are almost dry, I pat them on whatever I am wearing below my waist and above the widest part of my hips.  I figure my clothes are relatively clean there, and a few temporary moisture marks might go unnoticed!

As long as I am indulging in true confessions, I'll tell you how I wipe my fingers when I'm eating and don't have a napkin handy.  My mom taught me not to wipe my fingers on my jeans, so I wipe them on my socks!  (I change them every day, anyway!)  If you aren't wearing socks, that's too bad.  Not having an uncouth way to clean your fingers is just another price to pay for not wearing panyhose!

An unexpected bonus:  Dogs I encounter are usually very interested in sniffing my socks.  I think this is a great improvement over where they used to always want to shove their noses!

July 22, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

Why do we keep pretending that we, in this country, always help desperate people?

Let's face it - a lot of us are truly desperate at some time or another in our lives.

Or is my opinion skewed by my own experiences?

I have had desperate times, and people helped me, but they sure weren't the ones who would have been assigned to help me had I known that help was available.  At least, not before I had put several hundred dollars of my own money into going to a psychiatrist for help.

Would it help the public to know that there are, at any one time, a lot of people on the edge?

Anne Frank did not think it was helpful to know there were people worse off than she.  But if she had known the numbers of people who were in the same situation as she, could that knowledge have saved her life?

If a mental institution can only take in an un-moneyed someone if they are "a danger to themselves or others" how is he/she to prove that he is?  Do something desperate?

How can we give people the help they need before they commit suicide or start shooting up a campus?

Are we as humans so psychologically adapted towards coping with crises that absent external duress, we have to create it?

One thing is for sure.  Hiding medical records in the wake of one person's deadly crisis won't solve the problem of preventing another!

July 21, 2009                                   Valparaiso, IN

I'm sure it angers a lot of Americans that the richer among us, contributing a smaller portion of their income to the American dream, do not want to help keep their labor force and other less fortunates healthy.

But then I remember that I spend $40 a month on a dark chocolate addiction that I could contribute to help others, (especially those in third world countries) get enough to eat!  It is not so very much to ask of life to have food on the table (or, lacking a table, your bowl).

I have an idea!  Elsewhere I have suggested that people who spend on plastic surgery give an equal amount to charity.  Starting next month my income is going up.  Maybe I will donate $40 of my increase per month to one of my favorite charities!  Matching funds for my chocolate indulgence!

Yes.  I am going to do it.  It is little enough to give, not even close to tithing.

So, rich people, be willing to pay more taxes to help those less fortunate than you stay healthy!

(Actually, I could claim that the health benefits of dark chocolate make it not an addiction, but a preventive medicine - necessary to one with no health insurance.  But I won't.  Starting next month, part of the debt I will pay off will be my debt to the world for my wonderful good fortune in having enough to eat!)

July 20, 2009                                       Valparaiso, IN

Is flamboyancy a flame floating on the water?

Does reverence revere ants?

Are phoebes office accountants?

Are phlebotomists refugees from those who study glutei maximi?

Does a windfall feel like a waterfall, only dryer?

Blueberries don't look very blue.  Do they feel very sad?

When someone flatters me, do I feel more like a crepe than a pancake?

Can you feel self-righteous lying down?

I've clumb the first part of July - now I'm sliding down my aplomb.

Plum dumb!


July 19, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

P.S. to yesterday's subject.  Went to a potluck last night and somebody said her mother was having the same problem.  No produce on her plants!

But then today I went out and took a closer look at mine.  Well, I have one small still unripe lemon cucumber and one three-inch scarlet runner bean.  (I called them red snapper beans yesterday.  That was a senior moment.  What is red snapper, a fish?)

Anyway, this has been a weird wacky kinda cool summer, so maybe I am expecting too much too soon from my veggie plants.

At least we are getting a little bit of a respite from Japanese Beetles!  Or am I tempting fate?

July 18, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

How is your garden growing?

I have lemon cucumbers and red snapper beans that are blooming beautifully and forming no fruit.  Zilch.  Nada.

Now, I admit that I haven't gone outside with a magnifying glass and looked to see what is wrong.

But another thing I haven't been seeing much of this summer is honeybees.

I am tempted to put two and two together and get ALARM!

Anybody else having this problem this year?  I'd like to hear about it if you are.  Should I be artificially pollinating my vegetable plants?

And I went to take one of those spurs behind a nasturtium blossom to nip off the end and and taste the nectar.  These nasturtiums only ride tame flower beds, I guess!  They had no spurs!

I can't believe there is any place in a spurless nasturtium for a hummingbird beak!

Am I lagging behind in flora lore?  I don't remember any disclaimer notices on any of the seed packages I bought warning me that my plants wouldn't bear fruit or nourish wildlife!


July 17, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

Blueberry picking time!  If you can pick real fast, go pick yourself a truckful and pay for your vacation to New Mexico with the proceeds from selling it!

That was my fantasy, anyway, when I took my kids (all of us visiting from New Mexico) blueberry picking twenty-plus years ago.

The folks at Blue Sky Blueberry Farm (east of Wanatah) would love to sell more blueberries.  They have trouble selling to supermarkets because the supermarkets, from what I could understand, want quantities either too large or too specific in quantity and time scheduling for the farm's capabilities.

The Farmer's Market here in Valpo, according to them, is too weak to be a profitable venture.  Too few shoppers leads to too few vendors leads to... the meaning of the old phrase, vicious cycle.

This morning was perfect for picking blueberries yourselves.  The sun was shining, the temperature was neither too hot nor too cold.  Take a couple of kids along - they will see the low-growing berries that escape your notice!  And it is easier for the kids to reach them!

The plants we were picking from have plenty of berries and are about 5 or six feet tall.  There is a right berry-picking level for everyone.

It is also early enough in the season that there are still plenty of green berries on the bushes.  I am told that there will probably be good picking at least through July.

If the kids are beginning to drive you crazy, go berry-picking.

There are no thorns on blueberries!   

July 16, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

True lilies six feet tall!

Days that seem to dawn earlier, though we know they are getting shorter!

Snowballs in July!  Bounty that makes life gang up on you and overtake you and pelt you and make a big melting puddle out of you, even if it is in a good way!

Yesterday was superabundance in summery full flow.  A female cardinal with a gorgeous song.  (Am I mistaken about this, or have I just been sexist in favor of male cardinals all this time?)

Long neighborly chats on back porches.

Pizza eaten in forbidden quantities, just 'cause local pizzeria Giggles has a Wednesday special!

July just has a way of being that way.

The Best in Excess! 

July 14, 2009                                  Vaparaiso, IN

On Sunday after I wrote, I went on a solo bike ride.  The weather was perfect for it.

First I went east of town, planning to repeat a ride I took early last summer.  The road out took me past fields with little sparkling swarms of insects floating in the air that could have been inspiration for Tinkerbell.

Do not ask me why they glistened so!  Must have been the morning sun.

A suspicious-acting van freaked me out a little and I turned back toward town.  Before I knew it I was on the northwest side.  I have been in the area before, but it sure was different to ride those roads on a bicycle!

I felt that I had judged Valpo prematurely, that perhaps it really is a Vale of Paradise!  Edgewater Beach Road, I discovered, really wends its way between at least two lakes.  Maybe it is all my working out for the past four months that made the hills seem unremarkable.

When I turned to go home, I found myself riding downhill.  That surprised me.  I hadn't noticed any uphills!

Sure these hills aren't the Rocky Mountains, but still I am impressed with myself!

Not too hot, not a bit too cold, nature all around - it was a gorgeous morning.

Later in the day I heard about the prison breakout in Michigan City by two murderers and a rapist, and this morning I wondered...

Might my morning in the Vale of Paradise, with a lot less luck, been a morning in Hell? 

July 13, 2009                               Valparaiso, IN

No health care system which does not offer house calls can pretend to offer good preventive care.  My arguments are three:

1.  Old people who are stubborn and uncooperative who cannot be enticed to go to a doctor's office simply do not receive care.

What are their relatives to do?  Be accused of kidnapping when they enlist a neighbor to help carry the ornery old cuss kicking and screaming into the doctor's office?

If doctors would come into such a patient's home they might be able to see the same person that would refuse to go into a medical setting.

2.  Prevention is supposed to be the cheapest and most efficient way to handle health care.  The medical team that helps Dr.House on TV goes into people's homes to find possible sources of infection.  Does this happen in real life?  I don't believe it for a minute.

A doctor entering a home would be able to see unsavory situations or potential dangers to the residents that the resident him- or herself might not be aware of.  (Yeah, their neighbors can see it too, perhaps, but maybe not.  Plus the doctor has more authority!)

3.  The doctor's office, like a hospital though on a lesser scale, can be a source of infection in itself.  All sorts of people come in and handle stuff and breathe each other's air.  For those who aren't in the world all the time anyway, I maintain that this could be a more hazardous environment with respect to disease and infection than the patient's own home.

Let more people into medical school!  Let us have a population crawling with doctors and nurses willing to do what it takes to keep people healthy!  I maintain that the absence of home visits leads to more nursing home admissions, and no way is that cheaper than home visits.


July 12, 2009                                Valparaiso, IN

Here it is, Sunday morning again.  The sun is shining.  It promises to be a glorious day in the low eighties, which won't cause a moment's discomfort in the house because of the invention of air conditioning.

On my groggy way downstairs to pee, I hear my mother call, "Esther?"


"Good morning!"

The voice of my mother (whom I almost never write about in my blahg (yes, this spelling is intentional - see the past) because she would hate my complaints (and so would you), and who has been an absolute fighting bear all week) - her voice sounds light and clear.

I respond, "Good morning."

Back upstairs I look at the clock and see that it is 5:46.

Good morning, indeed!

Who was it that said that if there were no God, man would have to invent Him?

Well, we did and I'm wondering why.

Were leaders like parents, and the ordinary citizens like little children who had to be kept busy?  Work is okay for most of the time, but how do we entertain the rabble on their days off?

I've got it!  Create time-consuming religious rituals that keep their bodies occupied and their minds pre-occupied with fears about what will happen after they die!

Can't think of a better way to keep them from paying attention to what is going on right here under their noses!

Or was God created to make us lowly humans look at our own behavior with the aim of improving it?

I look around me and I think - it hasn't worked!  Especially since some of the worst behavior around is displayed by people in the name...  oh well, blah blah blah you've heard it all before.

I look out the window.  The town is still quiet.  The man jogging by in a teeshirt seems in a state of perfect grace.

Probably the only disturbance the town will experience this morning will be the engines of people going to church.

Out of doors, that is.

Blessed Sunday.  Freedom from labor would be enough to make it sacred.

Freedom from domestic strife would make any day downright holy to me.

Sunday or no Sunday, God or no God.


July 11, 2009                                 Valparaiso, IN

Similes and metaphors are interesting, but sometimes their truth lends itself to downright lies.

For instance, snowflakes are all different;  people are like snowflakes - they are all different.

But so what if snowflakes are all different?  It is a fascinating idea, sure.  But individual snowflakes don't mean a whole lot to us humans, or to the snowflakes either.

Anything that allows us to lump humans into an interchangeable mass leads to their dehumanization.  Everyone in a family may look similar, but they know how very different they are from each other!

The cockroach comics "There are plenty more where those came from!" highlight this truth, of course.  The generals, cockroaches themselves, are thinking in in-cockroach terms.

I'm not being original.

But, undesireable as they seem to us, all those individual cockroaches come a whole lot closer to being human than snowflakes do.

If you take a way a snowflake's individual form, you are left with an invisible speck of water.

But a person of a different culture or race might possibly be more akin to you than anyone of your own.

Not one of "them."  Your soulmate! 

July 10, 2009                                  Valparaiso, IN

How can I still be so naive?

I used to think that when a person was millions of dollars in debt, he couldn't pay his bills!  Even when I heard stories of Wagner and his spendthrift ilk moving out the back door in order to avoid his creditors at the front, I thought it was because he had a spending addiction.  More money was simply going out than was coming in.

Well, maybe for some spenders.  But Michael Jackson disabused me of that naive assumption.  Evidently you can owe millions with millions more up your very capacious sleeve.  I've heard of being land-poor, but this is a good league or three beyond that.

Jackson was able to pay, it seems.  He just didn't want to!  (It was funny to hear one of his or the family's attorneys talk about protecting the dignity of Michael Jackson's legacy.  Oh, come on!  Jackson may have been great, but "dignity" would never be a word pronounced in association with one of his crotch-grabbing performances!)

How indeed can I be so naive?

Last night Rachel Madoff interviewed Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, about the relious group of that name.

Hearing about "C Street" (a building on C Street in Washington, DC run by The Family 9a supposedly religious community which educates its members that they are "chosen" leaders for whom ordinary lawS do not apply)) makes me realize what an innocent I am!  I've seen TV shows about cults that spout that kind of arrogant nonsense, but I thought those were the products of minds diabolical enough to singe mine at my murderous worst!  It turns out that this evil way of thinking is alive and well among some of our elected officials in Congress!

Please, citizens of the states whose members frequent this bad school of thought, dump these representatives the next time they come up for election!  If you don't have another excuse to dump them sooner!  (You do, you do.)

Hey, I'm sixty years old!  I've worked in the world.  I would like to think that I'm not all that naive!

But I know I am.


July 9, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

What does your heart yearn towards?

When you get a word, or an image, or a feeling, use that to guide you towards what you want to be doing with your time.

And if you don't like it, take a look at it.  Revise it! 

Some peoples' hearts yearn towards the caged.  People who fall in love with prisoners are an example of those, I think.

Others, like mine, yearn towards the free.  Wildlife!  Birds, especially.  Whee!  Free!

Of course, no life is really free.  Free-flying birds can't have big teeth like lions.  Of course, they probably don't even imagine such a thing.

So, are we humans less free than other creatures because of our incredibly free imaginations?  Hmmm....

Kind of like a prisoner who, with the availability of time to imagine, books to foster that imagination, and educational opportunities available to create a different world for himself, chooses to spend the majority of his time bodybuilding masses of muscle.

Making of himself a smaller cage within the big one.

July 8, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

I propose more alternatives to the traditional college and university.

How about a School for Scent?  Talk about an underdeveloped talent!  I believe we should start in grade schools with lessons and more scentual (ha ha) experiences.

Those who just happen to have a facility in nasal detection and appreciation could be on a fast-track to an amazing career!

There could be classes in perfumery or being an inspector for the state health department (highlighting an ability to smell nasty things like food rot or rat droppings).  Maybe exceptionally talented nosers could end up replacing drug- or cancer-detecting dogs or become investigators with a special talent!

Or how about post high-school education in tracking?  How do you get such knowledge now?  By tracking down a tracker?

Maybe grade school classes could have tracking field trips.  Teach the children how to identify scat and footprints.  Even a basic knowledge of trees might help the average citizen of the United States today, who can't seem to tell an elm from an oak!

At a time of wide-spread unemployment there is a huge potential student body out there.  There are also people who have worlds to teach about and, for a while, time to teach others.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the PTA sponsored workshops one year for students taught by people with a wide variety of talents.  Your PTA could do the same thing.

If nothing else, it is good for the students to do something different - get a breath of fresh air from the outside world.

And maybe some knowledge beaming ahead of, not lagging behind, the curve of opportunity! 

July 7, 2009                                     Valparaiso, IN

It seems to me many of us don't realize how much what we do affects us.

The daily grind of eight hours a day is not the same for everyone.

We really want to feel that what we do has value, so we try to put a good face on it.

In these economic hard times, many more of us have an opportunity (if we can look at it that way) to escape at least temporarily from the daily grind.

Some folks opt to make it another kind of grind - a daily dose of excruciating stress and bad feelings.

Sure, it's a drag not to have much money.  But there are a couple other kinds of wealth:  time, and mental freedom.

Maybe one of the reasons women are (were?) considered more "intuitive" is because they merely have (had?) more mental space than men.  Of course, what with women working that might not be true anymore.

I can only really speak from my own personal experience, and all I have to say is, that when I was working at a stressful job for 45 hours a week, I was doing precious little - no, strike that - no writing or charitable volunteering.

Poetry may be a river that is dammed up by everyday detail.  Story writing depends on a minimum of mental playfulness.  If you are stressed out or too busy and mindful of everyday detail, there is no play for play.  Ha ha.

Have some misfortune?  Enjoy the freedom!

July 6, 2009                                      Valparaiso, IN

There was ethnic violence in China yesterday.  Uighur protesters clashed with Han Chinese.  From what I have read, a peaceful protest turned ugly when demonstrators would not disperse.  One hundred forty people died.

I wonder how much violence is provoked by peaceful protest when those in power (and with most of the guns) order the people in the street to go away, and use their failure to do so as an excuse to fire?

It sounds like what recently happened in Iran.

Is it fear of what the protesters might do?  Is it a desire for control?

Anytime you get a large group of people together, there is no telling what might happen.  But to initiate violence against a peaceful protest is to start your own worst nightmare.

It's like committing suicide because you are afraid someone is going to hurt you.

Hold your fire!

July 5, 2009                                       Valparaiso, IN

Yesterday the weather was mostly cloudy and rainy here in Valparaiso.  Since taking my elderly mother to the local fireworks is getting tricky (the streams of people rushing out are like rafting powerful whitewater for my mother, although the only person it seems to scare is me!) we settled for the fireworks at home on TV.

We saw a display (multiplied by at least four) set off over the East River in New York City unlike any I have ever seen before.  Some of the the fireworks looked like models of atoms and squiggled in unusual ways.  We saw Boston's fireworks, which seemed to be trying for a more aesthetic effect, strong in both form and color.  In Washington DC the fireworks, though a fine display, were more what I have seen elsewhere in the last decade.  They were set to the tunes of patriotic marches and the Overture of 1812.

My partner asked, "Who wrote the Overture of 1812?"


"He was Russian, why would he write an overture celebrating our war of 1812?"

"Good question. I dunno."

He looked it up.  Although the French later gave us the Statue of Liberty, Tschaikowsky was not giving us a gift.

He was celebrating Russia's defeat of Napoleon at the gates of Moscow in 1812.

We certainly have thoroughly co-opted it for our own patriotic celebrations! 

Well, why not.  I think it is the piece of music that goes best with the boom and shooting flares of fireworks!

I wonder when the Russians play the Overture of 1812?

July 4, 2009                                       Valparaiso, IN

We often think of genius having a sense of being above the law, even the laws of nature.  (Of course I am thinking about this now because of Michael Jackson's life and death.)

Maybe we have the whole thing turned the wrong way round.  Maybe people are heralded as geniuses because they did whatever they damn well wanted, and the world saw what they did as good.

I personally believe everyone has a genius for one thing or another.  Some peoples' genius will be successful but for some reason or other, never recognized by the world.  (A genius for interpersonal skills, for example, which could anonymously save thousands from death.)

Other peoples' genius just never gets expressed because it is not nurtured at the right time, or perhaps at all.

Or maybe because they don't just do what they want and to hell with the consequences.

A chilling thought.

Hmm.  I also am thinking about this because of our forefathers who revolted against England and to hell with the consequences.

July 3, 2009                                       Valparaiso, IN

Hard workout.  Maybe it was all the berry-picking I did yesterday, or maybe it was eating at the Chinese Buffet, but I am blank.  Energyless.

Not a thought in my head.


Later:  Wait!  News! News!  Sarah Palin is stepping down as Governor of Alaska in three weeks!

I have to comment on this.  Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are all off all week.

There's nobody left but me!

Er... um... well, I gave more notice at a pediatrics clinic file room than Sarah Palin has leaving the governorship.  Maybe my job was harder, more demanding, and more difficult to pass on!

Ha, ha!


July 2, 2009                                        Valparaiso, IN

Last night we saw a DVD episode of a TV series called Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America about the Puritans' massacre of Native Americans in Mystic, Connecticut in 1637.  The Pequot tribe, to be exact.  Maybe.  If I've spelled it right.

One Pequot tribe member who was interviewed said that she learned of the massacre from her grandmother, who spoke of it as if it had happened yesterday.

During the massacre, the Puritans, having invaded the wooden enclosure surrounding the sleeping tribal community and encountered more resistance to the slaughter than they expected, torched the dwellings and killed everyone who tried to run away.  Old men, women, and children included.

Some of the surviving Pequot tribe members were sold into slavery, some to the Caribbean Islands.

The technique of attack reminded me of how Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress and her children, along with several employees and coworkers, were killed by Julian, an deeply religious Christian employee native to Barbados who had come to work at Taliesen, Wright's home in Wisconsin.

People who think they have more of God in them than perhaps they do feel justified in doing just about anything to non-believers.  On the other hand, people who lead lives without the sometimes healthy distractions of modern entertainment and technology have more time on their hands to ruminate over past wrongs.

Interesting that I have not heard of the Mystic massacre before now.  We Americans, it seems, have not been much better than any other conquering peoples about recounting our history accurately.

We have managed to forget or justify the terrible wrongs we have committed in the past.  But wouldn't it be curious if Julian's grandmother told him about how his forefathers came to be in the Barbados, and it involved the story of a terrible massacre three centuries before on what is now the American mainland?

A long reach, perhaps.  Just speculation, surely.

But I can't help but wonder...

After all, isn't it a truism that what goes around comes around?

July 1, 2009                                         Valparaiso, IN

The beginning of June used to mean release to me.  The end of school!  Yay!  My birthday!  Yippee!  Father's Day, okay!  Lots of reasons to celebrate!

June was relatively cool.  It is, after all, two-thirds Spring.

The coming of July meant the coming of real heat, in those days without the modern comfort called air conditioning. 

The only cool place in the house was the basement.

Last week, during the last week of June, we got our first heat wave of the year.  The air conditioner stopped working.  "Muggy" wasn't the word for it.  "Soppy" is.  I sat at my hot computer in the hot upstairs, droplets of sweat falling dangerously close to the keyboard.

Luckily for my partner, he was spending most of his working hours of the day in the basement.

He is plastering and painting the whole place.  The humidity was so bad down there during the heat wave that the new paint was seeping down the walls and water was puddling on the Michigan-cellar style ledges he had painted two weeks before.  No wonder the surface of the walls was peeling and discolored!  They were being attacked by water from inside and out!  We had to buy a dehumidifier to continue the job and keep down the mold.  (Also to preserve what few possessions have not already been destroyed by vermin and cavern-loving flora.)

Faced by the prospect of sooner or later buying a new environmentally friendly air conditioner, it is kind of nice to know that we might have a pleasant space to hang out if we want/need to save energy.

We can enjoy naturally bearable temperatures beneath ground level, wine coolers in hand!

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