Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

CONFUSION

July 12, 2018

Well, it’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog, and with good reason! Usually, I took to my keyboard in reaction to something that happened, or a thought that occurred to me during one of my lengthy drives to somewhere in the country. One would have thought driving from Wyoming to North Carolina, in May, would certainly have stirred those writer’s heart cockles; several trips to Denver and back would only have been bonus coverage.

But alas, nothing has been forthcoming; I exist in a state of confusion over which topic to explore. As I’ve mentioned in previous commentaries, the current administration seems bent on destroying our country, but there have been so many and continuing instances that I have trouble gathering my thoughts into a coherent article.

Do I once more mention that they want to eliminate any thing which has the Obama tag on it, regardless of how tenuous? Do I gloat over various members of the Trump team who have departed, only to express despair about whoever replaced them? Do I again express my inability to understand, much less accept, that so many of our fellow citizens fail to look beyond the inflammatory rhetoric and blindly follow the paths lined with bigotry and violence? What happened to those ideals of equality, understanding, brotherhood, justice, that I hoped I was demonstrating in those early days of the Peace Corps, or maybe more crucially, were they ever really there?

Each day brings new issues, generated by the impetuous and uninformed blasts emanating from the White House; warnings from solidly knowledgeable economists, diplomats, scientists, educators, and others were totally ignored as we are plunging into an abyss created by whim and ignorance. I, along with many of my friends have become beset with a feeling of total helplessness with the arrival of each new step backward.

I guess the bottom line is that I have a difficult time dealing with irrational thinking, and in particular when it affects me directly (We’ll ignore the fact that I bought another Jaguar). I was okay when I was Principal of a residential school for severely emotionally disturbed young folks; after all, I knew what kinds of things to expect from them even when they were violent; I did have problems when I realized that a lot of the causes of their conditions had roots in irrationality.

We know that we are having supposedly the lowest unemployment since 1971, and that the economy is in great shape. Leading economists say this was not a good time for the Tax Break, it wasn’t needed. “Don’t do it”!

We don’t have enough people to fill all the jobs, especially the ones that Americans don’t want. So instead of developing a program to help fill those jobs, like in agriculture and construction, we try and rid the country of these “vermin”. Some of our industries and businesses will not survive. We won’t let owners of businesses, corporations, farms and ranches, sponsor illegals and allow them to stay as long as they are employed in those organizations. In the meantime, there are lots of tomatoes rotting on the ground.

We’re told that the Stock Market is booming because of Mr. Trump. That’s true, in a sense; it had been improving throughout the previous administration, but we knew it would jump when the very controls which had been put in to protect investors and to address environmental issues were lifted. That made more money available but put us once more in danger of another recession. That money has not demonstrably gone to the workers as had been promised; most of it goes to the stockholders.

Doing away with the Consumer Protection program, which has saved consumers a documented billions of dollars, should be classified as a mortal sin. Kicking LGBT out of the military. Breaking promises for DACA. Separating children from parents. Restricting targeted religious groups from entering the country. And on and on. Irrational.

Perhaps I’ll greatly shrink my realm of interests, and concentrate on less major topics. Should I cancel Facebook? Instagram? Amazon Prime? Netflix? Cable TV? (whoops, not that one; NFL football begins next month and the Broncos will rise again—unless injuries).

Did you know that no one has ever been able to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without getting some of it on their fingers? Now that’s major!

Always Be Happy        To Our Youth

SPRINGING or WANING?

March 26, 2018

 

As is usually the case annually in Wyoming, there’s some confusion about whether Spring is springing or Winter is waning. So far, we’ve had a mild winter; daily looks at my Weather Channel app show that we have so far had temperatures above those where many friends and relatives live in Charlotte, NC, and Kansas City, MO for most of the past month. Of course, so that over confidence doesn’t enter into the picture, we had 3 inches of wet snow overnight to remind us of where we live although most of it has already melted off. We’ll get more if tradition holds true; I recall several massive wet snows in April and May over the years, even to the extent that one year school was called off, a rare occasion in areas like ours that are prepared to deal with blizzards and the like. That turned out to be a questionable decision; it all melted by noon, all 8 inches of it!

As I’ve tried to establish as a habit pattern, I’ve been leaving Thermopolis about once a month, certainly not a bad idea during our usual winter weather. In February, I headed to Frisco, Texas, to help celebrate the February birthdays of my grandson, now age 4, and his sister, now 2. That trip was only about a week, cut a bit short due to the kids being hit with the flu. Both recovered nicely!

My next excursion was sandwiched between various –ologist visits which I chronicled in my January blog. I headed to Arizona in early March to serve for the third time as a volunteer at the LPGA Founders Cup golf tournament in Phoenix, stopping first in Pueblo, Colorado and then on to visit friends and a cousin here and there on my way. Prescott, Sedona, Green Valley, and Tucson were stops before reaching Phoenix, where I stayed for a week before heading back home. I even managed to play nine holes of golf on three occasions, albeit I feel that my golfing days are numbered. Apparently there’s more decay settling into this once-proud frame, and it takes several days to lessen the aching afterward. I have an appointment in two weeks with a Pain Management Specialist to see if there are some simple things I can do in order to keep playing; however, I’m not going to buy a membership at the local golf course. I’ll try to be content to play nine holes once a week or so, and walk instead of renting a cart. I play okay for about 7 holes; then my back doesn’t seem in synch with the rest of my body and shots start straying into unknown regions. I birdied a couple of short holes, but took 6 shots to get out of one very deep bunker. I suspect I’ll be able to shoot a score of 45 from the white tees, most of the time.

At present, I’m halfway through cataract surgery and so far, not happy. My right eye was done last Tuesday, and there are still lots of things floating around in the eye fluid. One, a large circle, has been particularly irritating, but a couple of days ago lots of discrete tiny black dots began to appear. In the past I’ve had those things called “floaters”, but never to this degree. If they’re not resolved by my next scheduled visit, April 9, I may cancel the left eye surgery for April 10. I’m also questioning my decision to go ahead with the ologists recommendation; my eyesight wasn’t that bad, it was just on the way to being so. And the cost of $3200 beyond Medicare seems a lot although it’s less than the cost of one dental implant! But when they gave me a pair of cheap sunglasses to wear while my eyes were dilated, I commented that for the price, I should have at least gotten Oakleys.

My next trip will be late April into early May; I have a luncheon at my high school alumni group in the Kansas City area on April 23. I’ll spend three or four days there, then head on to Charlotte, NC, to work in another golf tournament, the Wells Fargo Championship May 1-8. Again, there are folks I’ll visit on the way there and back, in St. Louis and Atlanta. I’ll be gone about three weeks, much to the dismay of my blind cat Timothy. About 5000 miles driving; my Arizona trip was 3000. My poor 2015 Honda CR-V will be three years old on June 30; right now it has 67,000 miles on it! All highway, from my frequent trips.

I decided to keep my SiriusXM radio subscription throughout the trip so I can fume over the daily happenings in the Trump administration. I’ve become perhaps overly simplistic in my viewpoints about politics; it seems increasingly that all that’s important to the Republicans is anything to do with money, and screw the ideas of providing for the General Welfare as set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution. And in spite of massive turnouts, or a flood of polling, showing what we as citizens want done, we are totally ignored. The recent movement initiated by the high schoolers will likely fade, unfortunately as other things occur and assume more importance to Congress in the hierarchy of political crap. I continue to hold out hope for next November, but not where I live. After all, we have the most guns per capita of any state. Go figure.

 

Always Be Happy     To Our Youth

PERSPECTIVES

November 5, 2017

Perspectives

 

Last week, I had been invited to be the guest speaker at a luncheon for alumni for all graduation classes from my high school. The luncheon, one of four held tri-monthly each year, I had attended for the first time last July. Naturally I was curious about why I had been invited to speak, but as I mentioned in the beginning of my speech, I found out they couldn’t get Sean Spicer, so I was all that was left.

When I asked what they wanted me to talk about, the organizer said “anything you want.” Well, people who know me could have told him that’s a dangerous move, particularly since I’m not known as an outstanding public speaker, and I know that. One of his colleagues suggested, “Oh, talk about your memories of things in high school, and beyond”. I guess she was unaware how much “and beyond” encompasses, but at least it gave me a start. One caveat caused a problem, this was to be contained within a maximum 30 minutes, given that everyone in the audience had probably attained Medicare eligibility and individually has difficulty remaining in place for even that long. Some of them appeared to have Parkinson’s symptoms, and I’m sure that the majority probably wore hearing aids.

Over several weeks ahead of the luncheon, I started and discarded numerous attempts—They were either too long, not only for the allotted time period but also I doubted that they could hold anyone’s attention beyond the scheduled time unless I could come up with some interesting elements. I even tried to soften the atmosphere by telling them that years ago, while I myself was in the audience at a “keynote” speech, the speaker had commented on some research that indicated that at any one time during such a speech, about 20% of the audience were thinking erotic thoughts. They loved that statistic, and later I asked if anyone was in that percentage.

But back to my preparation. As I grew increasingly frustrated, I finally turned to an old friend who is a retired journalist, for help, and help she did! She said that everyone in that room has had a career, and probably wouldn’t find mine any more interesting than their own; we all had shared quite similar experiences in high school, and to some extent, “and beyond”. She said “what has been the most unique major event in your life that no one else in that room has experienced, and talk about that!”

And so, it became simple. I had been among the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go overseas, and certainly had lots to tell! Weaving in anecdotes from my two years as a volunteer, from meeting President Kennedy in the Oval Office at the White House through the travails of my travels to Timbuktu, to living during my second year in the most isolated location in the country of Ghana, and to a final ringing down of the curtain in a private session with former President Harry Truman, I was able to use my Peace Corps experience as a vehicle to emphasize a concern which is of great importance to me.

It begins with the Native American poem, “Judge not thy brother until you’ve walked in his moccasins”. I strongly believe that the rampant polarization in our current society has its roots in the inability of various groups to appreciate or understand perspectives of other groups. The key word here is “perspectives”, or in less formal terms, opinions.

Those who have followed my blogging over the years will recall my concerns about people, and politicians in particular, stating their opinions as if they are facts. And as I took a closer look, I emphasized that most decisions are not based directly on facts but rather on opinions derived from filtering the facts through an individual’s or group’s background of education, culture, and experience. Given this screening, it’s to be expected that there will be differences in opinion, and greater differences the more divergent are the filters that form the opinions.

My Peace Corps experience opened my eyes to a multitude of things, not the least of which was a changing perspective of our own country. I had entered into my service with the belief that “America does no wrong”, and up to that point had never experienced anything from my white middle class background to cause me to reconsider that viewpoint. Now, suddenly I was immersed in an all-black culture, albeit one having a smattering of leftover British merchants, and a black milieu probably quite different from ones “at home”. But at various times during my two years, the early 60’s, events were occurring in the United States that were being featured in the local Ghanaian newspapers, complete with pictures of white policemen using clubs and vicious dogs against peaceful black protestors, of soldiers called in to provide black students access to schools, of persons seeking equal rights for all Americans regardless of race, and being murdered —- and I was being asked to explain “Why?”.

This was my first personal recognition of bigotry; I had had only minimal contact with other races while growing up, and our family avoided the use of any “bad language” including what I came to know as racial epithets. Now I was being asked, as a representative of the United States, to defend something that Intuitively I knew was wrong and not in accord with the declared values contained in my country’s virtually “sacred documents”, The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. I had a new Perspective.

Why this is important to me could be seen later, when another PCV and I were meeting with President Truman. He asked, “Well, what did you learn over there in Africa?”. I replied, “Mr. President, I got a different perspective of our country. I saw some things that are wrong with it.” He bristled and said, “You’re in helluva shape if you think there’s anything wrong with this country!”. I responded, “I don’t mean to argue with you, Mr. President, it’s not the country, it’s some of the people in it!”. A different perspective.

That was 60 years ago. My perspective has continued to undergo revision as each new experience in each new location appeared to toggle my beliefs and attitudes. I worked in the first integrated public boarding school in the U.S., in Winston-Salem, N.C.; later with the Black Panthers as I was picked to establish an education program in the inner city of Gary, Indiana under a Model Cities grant. I taught math in a Kansas City, Missouri all-black high school, such having changed from an all white school as people moved away and others moved in. I had three years as a principal in a Native American elementary school; I taught Anthropology in a Southern Baptist University where students were demonstrating for the right to wear shorts on campus, while other schools were crusading for civil rights. I supervised student teachers in NYC schools while helping in a Peace Corps program training teachers for Nigeria; I evaluated schools in rural Wyoming, where I’ve lived for 45 years, and on military bases and in private international schools around the globe. Most of the last 50 years I’ve been involved toward improvement in education, treating it as a subculture and applying the principles of Applied Anthropology to change and development. I have perspective! (and it’s still changing).

I’ve either lived in or used as my home base for 45 years a small town of 3000, overwhelmingly white, and many of its residents have never even been out of the state. Given my background, my attitudes and opinions are quite different from many of those I see around me. Controversial topics such as those arising from the furor over athletes kneeling during the National Anthem raise many hackles among the locals, even though in most cases they haven’t stopped to really understand what it’s all about. They get their news from conservative talk radio and television; almost any waiting area in a service provider has a television continually tuned to Fox News, for the entertainment of the clients. Local perspectives are, in general, highly limited in the scope available to use in making decisions, particularly those dealing with long range and widely-encompassing policies. And given the insularity of most Wyoming communities, there’s little pressure to change.

These, my meeting with former President Truman and my long-time residence in Wyoming, are just two examples of many from my personal life that illustrate how peoples can become “poles apart”. I could add a lengthy and enlightening email correspondence with an Islamic colleague, made more illuminating by her outstanding writing ability, that has helped me to not only have a better understanding of her religion but also aided me in clarifying my own. But I’m not aware of many other persons seeking to enhance their personal perspectives regarding this topic. Mosy merely “reject”, as they’ve been told to do.

Finally, I want to say a few things about Patriotism.

I hear people often saying, “You must be proud of America”, or “You must be proud to be an American”. In truth, I’m not quite there yet. I’m proud of the ideals written by Jefferson and his colleagues in establishing this country, but I’m not proud of the way those very ideals are being trampled and set aside in favor of personal greed and grudges for and against persons supposedly being fellow citizens entitled to the same rights and privileges as all of us. I think in that, I share to a degree the aims of those athletes kneeling peacefully, without disrupting, events in which they are a part. My perspective on that is that they are merely saying, as I do, “We’re not there yet”. More accurately, at least in my personal beliefs, I’m lucky to be an American, and proud that we have in our established governmental system the means to create that pride.

I’ve thought a lot about pride, and come to the belief that most simply it comes down to “a warm feeling” in seeing something good happen, whether it’s your children achieving a goal, a successful program in which you had a part, an action taken by our government to ease the suffering of people here at home and around the world, or just about anything showing positive outcomes toward the improvement of The Human Condition.

I would like to see The Pledge of Allegiance broadened to specifically state the ideals drafted by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, and that in reciting the Pledge each of us is committing to incorporate those ideals into our personal lives, and to act in accordance with them. That, to me, would be true Patriotism.

So, in conclusion I return to that Native American poem for help. I believe that if we all “would walk in our brother’s moccasins” we would have a better understanding of each other and perhaps cause polarity to become only a bad memory.

Always Be Happy            To Our Youth

 

 

 

 

 

Where Will It End?

August 4, 2017

Where Will It End?

The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session in response to major emerging conflict between member states, arising in response to U.S. President Trump’s newly-announced policy on immigrations.

The roots of dissent lie in the restrictions being suggested that have the intent of more closely monitoring potential new arrivals on our shores, primarily requiring fairly high levels of special skills along with a command of the English language.

This is indeed puzzling, as numerous articles citing extensive research show two major points: First, many of our recent college graduates have indicated major difficulties in securing employment due to many of the open positions being taken by foreigners meeting exactly the requirements outlined in the proposed policy. These are the people who really are taking American jobs, not the undocumented immigrants.

Furthermore, the Administration appears to have major hangups about undocumented aliens whom they claim are taking jobs away from Americans. This is in direct contrast to the first point; this concern directly addresses employment of persons generally having low levels of education and skills, many of whom don’t speak English upon arrival, not unlike those persons employed in telephone customer support positions by many of the technology giants. Consistently , research studies indicate that these folks are taking jobs Americans don’t want, particularly in agriculture, construction, and the service industry. I won’t belabor the point that if these folks aren’t allowed in, we shall see major crises in the three areas I’ve already mentioned, and others.

That being said, allow me to return to the first point. Does the President realize the effect this will have on the fundamental fabric of the tapestry which is America? Are we to continue to allow Kenyan runners to win all of our marathons, realizing that English is the official language of their country? There’s some solace however, Ethiopians need not apply, they speak something else.

And what about college and NBA basketball? All those Eastern European players will have to look somewhere else for those scholarships and big bucks awaiting their signings. How will Coaches Self, K, and Cal manage to maintain their ascendancy? In the pros the days of the Olajuwans and Dikembe may bloom, Nigerians speak English. But woe for the Somalis!

South Korea will suffer a severe setback in their mission to dominate the LPGA golf tour, except for those ladies who took time to learn English and go to school in this country. That should free up lots of places in the top 10 for good ‘ol American gals.

I wonder that if this had been in effect years ago, would the Nigerian Nightmare have been welcomed in KC? And will Major League Baseball have to fold up due to losing all those players of Latin extraction from all over the Caribbean? What about the “pure” U.S. men’s soccer football roster? And the NHL, do Russian players qualify?

Already we are seeing clashes between countries representing each side of the policy, Nigerians and Ghanaians against Somalis and Congolese; Ukrainians versus Brits, Jamaican bobsledders against Norwegians and Germans. If this continues, we can’t even guess where it all will end.

Oh, well, as long as the AFC West remains okay, I’ll just have to accept the status quo and go on with my life.

Always Be Happy  To Our Youth

WORDS

April 22, 2017

 

I’ve always liked words, but more than a passing interest was stimulated by the excellent English teachers I had in high school. Along with the usual chores of reading a huge variety of books and short stories, there was an overwhelming emphasis on vocabulary development, dredging examples of the use of items in the weekly word lists from any source, not only just from the assigned work. With some rarely-used words from that era, such as “serendipity”, we could gain special favor from the teachers with a solid example; that particular word has become ubiquitous (another word from our lists) and is in danger of falling into the well of overuse.

I have slowly become concerned regarding trends in changes to the meaning of words, given that it results in potential confusion and difficulties in achieving satisfactory communication. My first inkling of problems began probably back in the 80’s, when words such as “awesome”, and “incredible” began to be applied to situations which definitely had not achieved a state in order to be described in that fashion. Perhaps in many instances, “interesting”, “unusual”, or other less powerful nuggets would more accurately convey the reality of the event. From my perspective, such words were “reserved” for things that deserved elevation to the level of superlative, for if they were to be applied to less spectacular circumstances, then what were we to use when something actually deserving of the words occurred?

My concern has recently been put on high alert, as a cascade of misused hyperbole has issued forth from our new President as he attempts unsuccessfully to curry favor among groups from whom he has so far received little support. Not only has he intentionally launched attacks on a variety of major portions of the fabric which is America, health care, environment, immigration, education, and other elements, he is perhaps unintentionally lessening the effective use of our English language as he showers his speeches with “fantastic”, “outstanding”, “incredible”, and all of their partners in meaning. What is even more discouraging is that so far, nothing he has done comes close to earning any of those labels, unless they are applied to the negative actions he has initiated which appear to further erode most of the progress made over the past several decades toward improving the Human Condition.

As a Corollary to my concern, the word “Recourse” lifts its head as I look at the array of appointees he has placed into positions supposedly of Leadership, but fail in the actual productive performance toward “Greatness” due to lack of skills, knowledge, experience, or perhaps even more because of major dysfunctional attitudes toward each of the areas I referred to previously. I, along with most of my friends and colleagues, have become extremely anxious and discouraged about the future, not only regarding our personal comfort but more significantly toward the future of our beloved country. We see no RECOURSE, there is no path we can follow to address concerns that arise to further emaciate our treasured hopes and dreams.

There have been so many troubling things which have emerged during the past two years; one, the emergence of major bigotry in support of a candidate totally unsuited to be in the office to which he was elected by a flaw in the system; two, the existence of an attitude which is pervasive and destructive among persons now in positions to wreak havoc in their areas of responsibility; third, the performance of the Republican Party in allowing all of this to occur, most sitting silently and merely hoping it will go away instead of doing something about it; and fourth, the leaders of the two houses in Congress who have intentionally promoted actions to hamstring any reasonable legislative interactions to address emerging problems affecting the nation. In fact, I blame Senator McConnell for much of the current state of affairs, and refer to examples such as his stated opposition to doing anything which our previous President proposed, effectively shutting down any meaningful  performance in the legislative arena. Mr. Ryan is no better, but different in that he continues to be obsessed with cutting expenditures even if such cuts further undermine the government to function, lessen the ability of millions of our fellow citizens to fully-participate in the benefits of living in America, and further  feather the nests of the rich and powerful.

Both of these individuals continue to ignore the basic tenets set forth by the Founding Fathers in the Preamble to our Constitution:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Always Be Happy   To Our Youth

On The Road Again

April 4, 2017

 

Depending upon one’s perspective, driving long distances alone may be either beneficial or potentially destructive, given the long hours available for deep thought. I try to lessen its effects by listening to the unending hours of speculation on XM radio; however, that has only managed to have me probe more deeply into the depression I’ve suffered since the presidential election and its collateral damage.

My thoughts continually refer back to a previous blog I wrote, one in which I pointed out the differences between “ignorant”, “dumb”, and “stupid”. Most of what I’ve seen since that election falls into the realm of the latter and apparently seems to be taking on aspects of a snowball accumulating more volume while rolling downhill. Stupid is when reality is ignored in favor of what someone or some group would like to see, rather than what is.

During the past two months I’ve completed several trips, the first flying to Charlotte, NC, to visit my wife and watch our two older grandsons pursue their various athletic activities. Attending three basketball games and a swim meet were the high points; the low point was the gradual onset of tendinitis in my left Achilles tendon, causing some pain and limited mobility. Not wanting to spend a lot on a cane, as I have several back home, my wife and I went to a GoodWill Store to see if we could find an inexpensive example. Unfortunately, there were none, but my wife had the brilliant idea of using a golf club from among the large array reposing in a large tub on the sales floor. We selected a 4 iron, which seemed to be the appropriate length for my height, and I used its support throughout the remainder of my stay. I was not,  however, able to take it through security when boarding my flight home. If it were a real cane, then it would have passed through, but not as a golf club being used as a cane. Rules are rules. So I limped and suppressed any whimpering.

In the few days at home before leaving on my next trip, to Texas for a weekend of celebrating the birthdays of our two youngest grandkids, ages one and three, I spent time resting the leg and calculating whether I really could get a massage chair into the back of my Honda CR-V with the rear seats folded down. The big day finally arrived, the one in which I had arranged for two Mormon missionaries to help me get the 185 lb. chair into the car. They are required to do community help work along with their standard assignments, and are a great resource. We ultimately were successful in loading the chair, but not until we turned it upside down and attached it briefly to an extension cord in order to flatten it out a bit to get through the rear entrance. The chair, which I’ve had and used happily for several years but no longer provided the needed help, I was giving to my son and his wife, both of whom suffer from back injuries and accompanying pain. She was a member of the US Gymnastics Team at one time, and is now reaping the physical rewards of all those years of competition and injuries. he played football, basketball, and was a member of the 82nd Airborne, all sources of pain and suffering.

The trip down was highlighted by a stopover in Pueblo, Colorado, to visit my friends Molly and Joe  whom I had met during my year or so in Kemmerer, Wyoming, filling in as Special Education Director and Alternative High School Principal until a suitable replacement could be found. I had met Joe while playing golf at Fossil Island Golf Course, a name which caused me to have to explain to persons elsewhere that it was not a retirement community. His wife occasionally substituted in the schools, and both are highly intellectual apart from Joe’s commitment to golf. After his retirement from working at the local power plant, they had moved to Pueblo to escape the sometimes brutal Wyoming winters and had happily immersed themselves in several volunteer activities, Molly to a community soup kitchen and Joe to a sort of halfway house for persons undergoing significant psychiatric treatment.

Joe has sufficient expertise for his work, having himself been diagnosed (incorrectly as it turns out) schizophrenic early in life and having struggled through a variety of episodes including violence, incarceration, and institutionalization at varying periods in his life. He responded effectively through a combination of treatments and personal ability to overcome obstacles, to secure a degree from the University of Arizona and to write and publish a book, “Life Under A Cloud”, that details his lifelong search for security and peace of mind in spite of the issues which society heaps onto persons suffering mental hardships. I highly recommend the book ; it offers major insights into a world of pain and suffering but one which often is misunderstood and relegated to the backburners of treatment.

From Pueblo, I went on to Frisco, Texas, my destination, and arranged to collect my wife from the Dallas Airport. The weekend was spent helping host a birthday party for the two youngsters, the emphasis being on the one-year-old since her brother had already been recognized earlier in the month. Many friends of my son and his wife attended, along with their own collections of infants, toddlers, and older single digit youngsters. We were thus able to enjoy several  hours of entertainment similar to that which would come with cooking popcorn without using a lid, a complete absence of peace and quiet. At our ages, those are two cherished states only discovered after one reaches Medicare eligibility. The high point came with the presentation of the birthday cake and watching the guest of honor plunge her face into the generous layer of frosting once the candles were extinguished with the help of her brother. The family dog and cat were noticeably absent from the festivities, evidently feeling that there was more turmoil than necessary for the own peaceful existence.

We were able to return to our hotel for the balance of the evening, to rest for the next day’s additional birthday celebration; this time for one of the other youngsters who had attended “our” party. But this one was quite different; the parents had wisely booked a session at an emporium called “Jump it Up”, a collection of large scale inflated play areas including slides, Ninja courses, and other offerings requiring loud screams and squeals in order to participate. As I wandered about observing, I kept thinking I was looking at a high level Chucky Cheese operation which shares many of the same characteristics: lots of irritating noise and random chaos, activities focused on removing as much money as possible from patrons, and extruding an aura which I hope never to have to suffer again. The hour and a half ended with servings of ice cream and cake for the approximately 18-20 participants and everyone departed. And those wise parents enjoyed not having to clean up any large scale mess afterwards. Money well spent!

Later that evening back at my son’s home, we spent time chatting and said our goodbyes before heading back to the hotel; the next morning we departed for the airport for my wife’s early flight. After dropping her off, I headed up the interstate looking forward to a few restful days uninterrupted by intrusions into my normal reverie; however, before I had even traveled an hour I encountered a major traffic backup short of crossing the Red River into Oklahoma. No detour instructions were given, so I wandered east and west for an hour or so before I stopped at a farm implement store to ask directions. There, I found out that there had been a hazardous material spill on the bridge, and it would be quite a while before that route would be opened. I was offered two choices, one east about 30 miles before resuming my northern route, or west toward a familiar drive across the somewhat featureless plains of the Texas Panhandle through Amarillo and Raton, New Mexico, to Colorado. I chose that direction and headed out.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful, which is what wants when traveling, especially when flying. I managed to get to Casper, Wyoming early enough to get servicing done on my Honda CR-V which I had purchased new June 30, 2015. As I write, it now has 43,000 babied miles on it. I like to travel.

Well, a few days at home for laundry and reacquaintance with my blind cat Timothy, and off again, this time to work as a volunteer in the LPGA Founders Cup golf Tournament in Phoenix. This would be my second time doing so; I find that the women’s tournaments are a bit less intense than the men’s, and that they really seem to enjoy and support one another as the competition unfolds.

One of the benefits of this kind of volunteerism is that one’s travel expenses are tax deductible as long as it’s a charitable event, a great perk for the event’s sponsors as a way to lure the great number of volunteers necessary. This tournament only has about 800-900; the Wells Fargo men’s tournament I work in, in Charlotte, has over 2300! One can volunteer for most tournaments, needing only to get on the tourney’s website and enter the dropdown “volunteer” menu. It’s a good way to travel to neat places and that tax write off really helps. Be aware that you have to purchase an outfit, usually a shirt and hat, and the cost varies from $50-$150l depending upon the tournament. But your meals are taken care of, along with free tickets for the tournament and free parking. At this tournament, I had six tickets to give away. Usually, you are committed to work only three or four shifts during the seven day duration of activities beginning with practice rounds on Monday and ending with Sunday’s conclusion. A shift is generally about 6 hours and you can apply for morning or afternoon; at the same time there are lots of committees whose duties are described on the website and you are asked to identify your preferences.

At this tournament, I worked Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons, and could use my pass on the other days if I so chose. However, I wasn’t able to do much walking due to my uncooperative Achilles, and the unexpected heat wave of 90’s for this time of the year was highly enervating, so I did other activities along with Brad, my longtime friend and golf partner who lives in Phoenix and recently bought a new house. We played nine holes at rather shabby pitch-and-putt course, but again, my leg prevented doing any serious golfing which would normally be our major focus. Instead, I was introduced to my first pro hockey game although given their current level of success, some persons describe the Coyotes as less than professional level. Brad has two tickets to a select 20 games a season, and I really enjoyed the experience; it was much more exciting than those days I watched the Chicago Black Hawks on my 9-inch black and white tv back in the 60’s, when I worked in Gary, Indiana.

One of the other benefits of this trip was finally being able to try an In-and-Out Burger, one ballyhooed far and wide as the best of all burgers. And yes, I have to admit that it was very good, and enhanced by the relatively low price of $2.50 for a double burger. I understand that they are only available in California, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona; I consider this an un-American situation and hope that our new President does something about it. After all, it might be one thing that he’s capable of; so far I’m  not only unappreciative of his performance but genuinely depressed about the prospects for the future.

Upon leaving Phoenix, I headed 80 miles to Prescott to once again consider it as a location if I should ever decide to move from the comforts, and chilly winters, in Wyoming. Prescott is at an elevation of about 5000 feet and as so, enjoys four mild seasons significantly away from the brutal temperatures in southern Arizona during the summer. In fact, I understand that many Phoenix folks have “summer homes” in Prescott. On the other hand, it’s not as high as 7000’ Flagstaff, just 35 miles to the north and having a nickname, “The Snow Bowl” during the winter to attract skiers.

Prescott itself is an older community and characterized by a town square, trees and hills, actual neighborhoods, and all the marks of a settled community. At the same time, its nearby brethren of Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, and other small surrounding towns are quite different, each with its own unique character. To me, Prescott Valley is a sprawling, new area of malls, housing developments, traffic signals and tie-ups, and glitz. It seems very artificial, to me, and not a place in which I would be comfortable. About four years ago when I was thinking of moving there, I passed up a three bedroom, double garage five year old house for $79000, during the depression. Today it would probably be about $200,000, so there goes another one of those bad decisions. But I don’t think I would have found life to be as easy as it is here in little Thermopolis. More on that later.

I spent some time looking at available choices for rentals; there are in fact several beautiful complexes for low income retirees (max $25,000), and some others that retirees can buy into for $230,000 and then pay $3500/month for their meals and other expenses. Definitely not in my plans. I visited one 3-floor apartment building in the form of a square with an inner courtyard; it was mostly one bedroom apartments for $1500/ month, with great views if your apartment is on the outer side. Otherwise, you’re looking down into an inner courtyard containing a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. But the building itself was featureless; all the hallways were alike and blandly beige; you couldn’t distinguish one from another. And two rooms is too confining for my tastes.

After lunching on Sunday at a local golf course with my friend Ramona, a colleague from my Special Education days in Wyoming and who retired to Prescott several years ago, and looking at retirement lodging on Monday, I headed over to the gorgeous town of Sedona to spend the evening and overnight with my friend Rick, a retired urologist from Laramie-Steamboat Springs and his wife Jane, his former nurse. I cannot think of anywhere I’ve seen that’s more scenic than Sedona, and that includes having lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at the base of the Grand Teton. And according to real estate listings, the average house cost is about $450,000, indicating the level of home owner to be found there. My friends have a home high above the valley, with breathtaking views in many directions from their windows and the encircling balcony attached to their home. I took them to dine at a very nice local Mexican restaurant and limited the number of Margaritas they could consume, showing my concern for their health (and the amount of the check).

I headed out toward home early the next morning, and spent an enjoyable day passing through some of my favorite scenery including Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border. I always expect to see John Wayne come galloping through, or Chevy Chase on his Vacation jaunt in that station wagon with Imogene Coca tied to the roof, but not this time. Later in the day I passed through Moab, which during my first visits in the 60’s was a relatively small residential town informally attached to the successes of the major uranium strike nearby. I had friends who owned a “ranch” high up in Castle Valley on the flanks of the LaSal mountains, 27 miles from town; my wife and I had spent three days there when on our honeymoon. Nowadays, it’s booming mecca for 4-wheeling and mountain bike enthusiasts, and congested with motels, fast food, and jeep/bike rental depots. Surrounding scenery is spectacular, including Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park, but one of my favorite things is driving the River Road which is Utah Highway 128 and follows the Colorado River Canyon for about 30 miles toward Interstate 70 and Grand Junction, Colorado. Along the way, it passes below Castle Rock, the sandstone pillar that GM used to put Chevy’s on top of for their TV ads, and other rock formations of Priests and Nuns,  and Fisher Towers. Quite beautiful, but there are lots of curves.

Years ago, a group of my buddies and I took a raft down the Colorado River in this area; it was our first experience with rapids and I fell out the first time through. Since we didn’t hit anything because the water took us around the rocks, we spent some pleasant hours going through backwards, sideways, and any other way due to our inability to steer the bulky rubber raft.

After  spending the night in one of my favorite hotels, the America’s Best Family Value Inn in Grand Junction, I headed home. The hotel is one of a national chain of “budget” (cheap) such facilities; they are ones that have been retrieved from former quality establishments but which have outlived their glamour. The chain evidently allows local franchises; the buildings may or may not be refurbished, so that there is a wide variance among them as to their condition and amenities. I’ve stayed in this one on several occasions; it meets all of my requirements regarding cleanliness, comfort, condition, and price, putting it roughly at the level of a Comfort Inn or LaQuinta but for less money. I made It home in early afternoon, time enough to collect my mail at the post office, replenish groceries, and start the laundry. Altogether, a most enjoyable trip!

Earlier in this account of my saga, I mentioned I would comment some more about life in Thermopolis as compared with considering moving to a warmer clime. Well, that decision is far more complicated than one would initially assume. In the first place, living in Wyoming and in Thermopolis in particular for 45 years, establishes roots and routines that are difficult to shed, and which would present difficulty for someone of my advanced years (78) to recreate in a new environment. I know where to get my car repaired, who will do my indoor plumbing (yes, we have that in Wyoming!), who handles renewing my driver’s license, where to get lawn fertilizer, who can shovel my snow and mow my lawn when I’m not able, how does the Home Health Care service work, how often to use the fitness equipment at the rehab center and how my physical therapy fits in, what to do about transportation if I’m no longer mobile, and on and on. One sort of all-encompassing benefit is that many of the folks in charge of things were once students in my middle school, when I was the principal. I sometimes threaten to go back to the files and change their transcripts if I don’t get decent service, but so far haven’t needed to do so. Our tax preparer, a gal who was the star of our first 8th grade girls basketball team (I started girls’ athletics back in the 70’s) just came through with a healthy tax refund. Another former student, one who felt the sting of the paddle rather than staying after school, is doing pre-summer maintenance on my lawn mower. I needed some skin cancer follow up and called the doctor’s office; they got me in the same day just as all the other health services usually are able to do. That can’t be done in a larger community.

So you see, the elements of daily living are quite easy to access. Of course, there are some negatives; cardiologists, neurologists, dermatologists, and all the other ologists have their offices in Casper (120 miles), and Cody (80 miles), but come to our town or the one next door (35 miles) on a weekly basis although the option exists to travel to their towns if one so chooses. The latter is sometimes preferred in order to help the local economies in those locations. The closest Walmart is 55 miles from here, which many consider a benefit.

The closest semi-major airport is 120 miles away although there are smaller facilities closer in Cody, Riverton, and Worland. However, some of the smaller feeder airlines require passengers to wear a long silk scarf and leather helmet with goggles upon boarding. I use either United or Delta, from Casper and connect to hubs in Denver or Salt Lake City.

Locally, if I need transportation, bus service is available through the local Senior Citizens’ Center or the rehabilitation center, for a small fee or donation. The Foster Grandparents Program also has bus service for its volunteers. Very few larger communities can boast of such an array of options; in fact, several I contacted said that they used to have some but their grants ran out.

Then there are my activities. I’ve been on the Board at the Big Horn Basin Foundation, the educational arm of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, and which has been rated the #1 such museum in the U.S. and #6 in the world. And we’re having a ground breaking this month to begin construction of an even larger center, more than twice the size and with many more specimens. Some of them are excavated locally in the hills adjoining the town to the south; our largest (106’ long) is from a site near Douglas, Wyoming where we have digging rights. I really enjoy going to the Center and sometimes just sitting and contemplating how such creatures could actually have roamed about this area, intimidating any other living objects that came across their path.

If I have aches and pains, we have what is allegedly the World’s Largest Mineral Hot Springs located in the State Park next to the town. A State-owned free bath house is maintained in accordance with the treaty signed with the Shoshone Indians in which the springs were turned over to the government with the understanding that their use would be free forever. The facility is maintained spotlessly, and is an attractive benefit to living here. It is joined by two commercial facilities also making use of the water, but having swimming pools, soaking pools, saunas, and long slides for its paying customers. One can buy an annual membership for about $120, to each of them.

I’m also a golfer, but less avid than in my younger years. Our nine-hole course is well-maintained and challenging, and costs $528 a year for a membership. No other costs are necessary unless one wants to put a privately-owned car in the storage building, which requires additional costs.

The cost of living in Wyoming is usually targeted as one of the top 3 least expensive states in which to live. That begins with no state income tax and is compounded with low property and sales taxes, gasoline taxes generally at or far below national averages, affordable utilities, and reasonable real estate costs. I’ve compared food costs with other places as I travel, they all seem to be about the same regardless of where one goes.

From all of this, you can see my difficulty in considering elsewhere to spend my later years. Of course, I would like to be much nearer to my family, particularly if residence in an institutional kind of facility lies in my future. Among the thoughts I entertain while driving on those long trips, the necessity to leave all of this behind overshadows many of my other concerns including the depression I think I’m suffering along with many of my far-flung friends about what appears to be the erosion of our beloved country.

Wyoming is somewhat unusual politically, it has been described as “the most Republican state” in the U.S. but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, I’m surrounded by mostly Republicans, but at the local and state level they tend to vote for the person and not for the party. In fact, during most of the 45 years I’ve lived here, we’ve had Democratic governors. Another fact is that Wyoming has the highest percentage of gun owners, per capita, but generally their use focuses on hunting and other sporting activities rather than shooting people. We must of course modify that a bit as Dick Cheney is also from Wyoming.

It appears that I’m leaning toward possibly becoming a “snowbird”, or at least some version of one. I’d like to spend time during the winter somewhere near Charlotte, NC, to watch my grandsons perform in their respective athletic events (basketball and competitive swimming) and spend more time with my wife and son. I’d like to do more visiting in Arizona during the winter; but during the summer to some traveling to the Northeastern area including New England and some Canadian Provinces including the Maritimes. The rest of the time I can enjoy the local benefits (next August the total eclipse of the sun will pass over our area, and I’m on the committee planning how to accommodate all the expected scientists and visitors) and entertain visiting friends. And there would be periodic trips to Texas, to watch my younger grandkids grow and mature and spend more time with my son and his wife.

And I can now turn my attention to considering a number of issues: Our President wants to shower the military with large amounts of money taken from most of the other areas of our government, in spite of the fact that I’ve not heard of the Chiefs of Staff requesting those additional funds. What is he planning to spend it on?

How much farther can his administration go in orders that go a long way toward handcuffing our agricultural and service industries, eliminating the progress we’ve made in attacking pollution and other environmental advances, abandoning all the essential elements of the humanities and the arts as a part of our cultural heritage, attacking and reducing the educational opportunities for our children; alienating our allies and escalating the potential for major military action against our foes, and other completely irrational actions. And it appears that he is joined in many of these efforts by the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate, the latter the primary criminal in denying the last nominee for the Supreme Court his day in the sun. And along with that, his declared opposition to allow anything our previous President proposed which was the major contributor to the current Congressional gridlock.

When I look at the minimizing of the Voter Rights Act, at Citizens United, at Republican state legislatures and their gerrymandering, at Congressional Republicans going against the great majority of people on issues such as gun control, abortion, LGBT rights, health concerns including insurance and Planned Parenthood, anti-Islamic overtures in immigration, I’M GENUINELY DISGUSTED AND WILL NEVER CONSIDER VOTING FOR ANOTHER REPUBLICAN FOR NATIONAL LEVEL OFFICE. We still haven’t gotten over the embarrassment of the Bush-Cheney years, and the economic and military mess they handed to Obama and which has grown due to the lack of cooperation of Republican Congressional perspectives.

Yes, I can accept the recent nomination of a Conservative to the Supreme Court; I don’t  know what my liberal friends expected. But it would seem that regardless of which conservative is nominated, all of them would share the same shortcomings so anathema  to liberals, progressives, and rational beings. We can only hope that the centrist Republican objections to the Trumps and their Mafia-like family business can only grow, and eliminate this cancer that is bent on destroying our country.

Always Be Happy          To Our Youth

SOME OBSERVATIONS FROM A COASTER…

July 11, 2013

Some Observations From a Coaster….

I chose this title upon realizing that my mind seems to drift from one thing to another, with accompanying emotional ups and downs as I pass each experience through my mind’s filter. Just like on one of those giant roller coasters, although I’ve omitted any loud screaming.

There have been a few “white knuckle” moments however, especially when I try to digest the House GOP’s perspective on politics, social programs, and life in general. Take the proposed immigration legislation as an example; they apparently are afraid to provide a “path to citizenship” for the 11 million illegal immigrants, speculating that all of them will vote for the Democrats. This has some truth to it, but what they don’t consider is that if they would come up with sensible proposals and programs, perhaps they would attract many of those folks into the GOP fold. Instead, they continue to obstruct every piece of reasonable legislation, even those proposed by members of their own party, and stand as symbols of intolerance and bigotry. It’s difficult for me to remain a left-leaning Independent, but I’m thankful that the “other side” provides enough nonsense to keep me from going all the way over to that direction.

Obama

I was early on a strong supporter of Obama (and still am), and for quite a while was becoming more and more disenchanted with his apparent inability to follow through on those “ringing phrases” we heard throughout his campaigns. But I finally awoke to the fact that he has proposed well-thought-out legislation and solutions to many of the identified problems, only to have them blocked from proceeding further toward adoption by opponents hostile toward him personally, rather than the concepts themselves. In fact, some of his proposals had been eagerly put forth by those very same individuals, only to have them vote in opposition when he initiated them in the spirit of compromise.

Congress has become a joke, although one that’s not very funny. When 90% of the population is in favor of something, like universal background checks for gun ownership, and Congress votes against it, something is terribly wrong. We might as well throw in several members of the Supreme Court along with them, those stalwarts who set back Civil Rights Progress several decades, and are no doubt involved in finding more ways to restrict women’s rights to make personal decisions about their own bodies. Along with a number of GOP-controlled legislatures.

I can only hope that Obama can weather the storm for the rest of his term, and that people will return to the kind of Republicans that accomplished many significant achievements for this country. Those were people who were ruled by common sense while at the same time adhering to their underlying principles, and having the good of the country as their goal in common with their colleagues across the aisle. Our very own Alan Simpson was a prime example, and we need more like him. So many current members, including those from my state, are little more than ventriloquist dummies in parroting the so-called “platform” of their party. Which apparently has its main goal the maintenance and enhancement of Big Business at the expense of everyone else.

Islamic Radicals

I don’t understand how large numbers of members of certain religions use that religion as an excuse to kill non-believers. I already referred to Mark Twain’s perspective on this, in his short story, “Letters From the Earth”, in a previous blog. But the current clashing between two groups having similar roots, Shiite and Sunni, is completely puzzling to me. Their initial split goes back almost 1800 years, after the death of Mohammed, and continues to grow with each new assault of one group on the other. Both seem to ignore the two main functions of religion, the first the personal aspect in which the individual’s depth of faith to the Deity arises from within the person and provides solace and satisfaction only to the degree of personal commitment, and the second, the guidelines for interpersonal, societal activities that provide a format for maintaining a productive and functioning culture. Religious codes like The Ten Commandments, and secular codes like our Constitution are examples.

So far, no country in the Middle East has had an Islamic-based Constitution, in spite of being overwhelmingly Muslim. However, it appears that there are now groups wanting to go in that direction, and causing significant issues between themselves and others who want to avoid mixing religion with politics. Egypt, for example, has a long tradition of secular government in which numerous religious groups were allowed to flourish. I was struck by the consistent observation of Christian churches adjoining Islamic mosques throughout Cairo although the former only represents perhaps 10% of the population. This mutual respect was further seen in a song by Rula Zaki, popular recording artist and performer in the Middle East, which calls for continuing that respect. I hope that whatever solution is achieved through the current pain and suffering provides for all persons to not only adequately participate in government but also to receive its benefits equally. And I certainly don’t want to see the Lutherans going after the Methodists.

News

Why do the major cable “news” channels feel obligated to devote hours to a couple of courtroom broadcasts of murder trials in a faraway state? Are there really that many people who care? I was frustrated in trying to get updates of the situation in Egypt, having received emails from three of my friends in Cairo during the recent governmental changes. My friends were excited and hopeful, but there seem to have been numerous setbacks and increasing violence as events unfolded. I have great memories of my two visits there last year, and I wanted to know.

At the same time, I wanted more information about the tragic deaths of the firefighters near Prescott, Arizona, where I have friends also. But all that I could get on CNN, MSNBC and yes, even on FOX, were live broadcasts of a murder trial. For hours and hours.

I wonder if other folks share my frustration.

Sports and some rule change proposals

Golf-–I’ve never understood why it’s required to rake a bunker so that the sand is “pristine” for the next victim, that ball marks in the line of one’s putt may be repaired prior to putting, but that if your ball lands in a fairway divot made by a previous player, the ball must be played from that divot. The person who made the divot was hitting from an undamaged spot; the person following should have the same advantage. So change the rule, allow a free drop from a divot, but only a drop, not a placement. And while you’re at it, let us repair spike marks on the greens. Same logic.

Comment: I don’t think golf should be part of the Olympic Games. We already have team competitions and weekly tournaments with essentially the same cast of characters; the best golfers from countries around the world already compete against one another as much as they desire, through the various pro tours and amateur events. I would much rather see wrestling re-instated, after all, it was one of the original events.

Further Comment: As each Olympics is scheduled, cities around the world compete for the opportunity to become greatly indebted in order to build venues which, after the games, will subsequently have only limited use. Quite often, the construction phase uproots many people as whole, usually poor neighborhoods are destroyed in order provide building sites for arenas and other venues. At the same time, some entrepreneurs take advantage of the situation in order to enhance their own personal fortunes, as even occurred in the U.S. in connection with the Salt Lake City Winter Games several years ago. Any financial benefits to the locale are fleeting, if any, and primarily for the few weeks of the games.

Why not build a permanent Olympic facility in Athens, Greece, one that would be used continually as each Olympiad rolls around? Greece certainly could use the jobs required to build the complex, and the income generated continually throughout the future. With the prospect of permanency, adequate hotel and lodging facilities could be added, and used between Olympiads for tourism activity. Et cetera.

Pro football—Change to the college rule that the clock stops when a first down is made, to be restarted when the ball is readied for play. That would speed up the game, particularly in the latter part, when teams use those long times-out just to stop the clock.

Use the college rule on pass interference, a 15 yd. penalty. Currently, the pros place the ball at the spot of the foul, even though it might be 50 yds. downfield. That assumes that the receiver would have caught the ball if the foul had not occurred, which may or may not have been true. The college rule takes into account that although there was a foul and should be punished, we really don’t know if the ball would have been caught.

Basketball (all levels)—Basketball used to be a game of finesse; it has devolved into an activity of strength and speed particularly at the NBA level. I personally don’t even consider that to be basketball, having grown up in a different era. I’m concerned that this change is creeping inexorably downward to the younger players; on ESPN, Jay Bilas made a comment that college basketball is becoming more and more like pro basketball, which he referred to as “Organized Fouling”. His solution—call the fouls as the rulebook states, and we can get back to more of the finesse games of Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt, Cousy, Kareem, and many of the other greats of the game who relied on agility and athletic ability rather than brute strength. That’s not to say those players weren’t strong; I distinctly recall being momentarily stunned when Mr. Chamberlain stuffed one on my head before 12,000 appreciative fans. Mr. Bilas  went on to say, and I agree, that offensive foul calls are the most egregious in either not being called or are favoring the offensive player in spite of good defensive work by the opponent. Quite simply, who initiated the contact and who had the position?

Personal Well-Being

Well, I only seem to be hindered by age factors of deterioration of the spine through the wonders of osteoarthritis. As a nerve becomes inflamed, it sends a message to one or two of the muscles in the back to go into a “knot up” mode, causing significant pain and discomfort. Investigation reveals that the cause cannot be healed, only dealing with the symptoms remains as a solution. If I play a few holes of golf, I suffer for several days thereafter. And just when I discovered that one of my sons joined a club with TWO golf courses. Life is unfair. My doctor and I are investigating other pain management options and hopefully I can become a bit more active in the athletic arena. Still not enough to get in to the Rio Olympics.

The neuropathy in my feet and legs causes some fatigue along with the loss of feeling; ascending stairs and hillsides presents a problem but I can usually achieve the summit given enough time and patience. Like three or four hours. I’ll be riding my bike when the current Global Warming Event decides to withdraw its fangs, at least for a few days or so. It’s 100 today; our summer temperatures are usually in the upper 80’s to 90.

At least I’m healthy enough to resume my traveling, and toying with either New England or Scotland in September. I have a few Wyoming school evaluations to do in October. Until then, I think I”ll stick close to home and work on the golf and fishing.

Always Be Happy      To Our Youth

The Peace Corps and Me—No Longer Callow

April 23, 2013

Recently, I received an email from the Peace Corps Press Office in Washington inquiring if I would be interested in submitting a short commentary on my Peace Corps experience, to a relatively small circulation magazine whose request had been forwarded from the U.S. Department of State. I had been one of the 51 members of the first Peace Corps project in the field, to Ghana, West Africa, 1961-63, where I taught junior and senior high Math and Science, one year in a large town in the rainforest area and the second year at a teacher training school in the grassland region bordering the southern fringes of the Sahara.

I had been selected based on a previous contact with that office, having been asked last fall to be interviewed by a journalist from the one statewide newspaper in Wyoming regarding the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and whose story appeared in both the Casper Star-Tribune and the Billings Gazette. I was a bit puzzled after accessing the magazine’s website, Equal Justice USA,  and reading about the organization’s Mission. The emphasis is on nationwide crusading to end the death penalty, and to provide support and help for those who are cloaked in poverty. I didn’t see how my Peace Corps experience fit into that Mission, unless it is an example of volunteerism to help in recruitment of volunteers to help their own cause.

The “project” remains moot, however, due to the fact that I have not as yet received the proposed contact from the magazine’s staff. At the same time, the initial information included questions that the organization wanted the writer to answer, and I actually had been exploring some of them myself prior to this contact. So, I decided to write this blog, and to answer the questions from my personal perceptions with an emphasis upon how I have changed beginning with the Peace Corps service. For my interests, this is a much better route to pursue; they had been suggesting “a 750 word” document, something I had not had to worry about since high school. A writing needs to be of a length to provide clarity to its purpose, not to sacrifice such content in order to meet some artificially-established standard. Be aware that my words will less answer the questions directly in favor of providing commentary regarding human factors and relationships. I will highlight my perspectives as I go through the drafting of these notes.

Naturally, these remarks are in the form of my own opinions, remembering that personal opinions are derived from an individual’s background of experience and should not be treated as facts. Unfortunately, in today’s world more and more decisions are based on opinions rather than facts; this is all right as long as those opinions have a sound basis in facts or at least in reasonable interpretations of facts and events. But I immediately am seized by caution whenever a “talking head” begins a comment with, “Well, I think……”, especially when “the head’s colleagues” express an equal and opposite viewpoint. And this is true throughout, from politics to sports predictions and analyses. I guess they just need something to fill up all the cable time.

Recent examples of this concern are seen in the arguing over gun safety, school safety, NCAA March Madness predictions, sequestering of national expenditures, and many others. I personally am for the major  components of proposed gun laws—universal background checks, restrictions on sales and magazine size, and automatic weapons. Why do I have this viewpoint? Well, in 1970 while working in the inner city of Gary, Indiana, I had a 7th grade student shot accidently in the leg, having brought a .22 pistol with him on a field trip and the gun fired when it was being passed around in the back of the van. Later in the school year, two young men accosted three of us when we were leaving the school; one of them struck a young teacher in the head with a pistol, the other pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his jeans and stuck it in my stomach. Fortunately, some other distractions caused them to leave, but the experience was “quite memorable”.

Two years later, in my first week as a middle school principal, one of our sixth grade girls was killed accidently when a pistol her brother was cleaning went off and shot her through the heart. You can see how “my experience” developed my perspective. As a further note, I realized that I was now living in the  state with the highest percentage of gun owners, Wyoming, and that such ownership and the hunting culture are foremost in many people’s values. In order to achieve in my own mind some level of reason, I initiated a nine-week required class for all fifth graders (the age at which kids can obtain a limited hunting license) which included Hunter and Gun Safety Certification along with other topics such as hypothermia, Winter survival, and safety around wild animals. Even if a child was not going to be a gun owner, he/she would be around guns frequently, and needed to know how to be safe. Ironically, as this was in the early 70’s, the materials that were used for instruction were provided free by the National Rifle Association which, in that era, emphasized gun safety as their primary mission.  How that has changed! I have recently suggested that the NRA offer, through its local chapters, inspection teams to advise persons on how to keep their weapons safely stored in their homes; in many of the recent unfortunate incidents the perpetrator has used weapons obtained in their own homes from unsecured storage areas. Such an activity might help recover some of the NRA’s diminished reputation.

So, now for those questions that the magazine proposed for me to answer.

  1. How did you hear about the Peace Corps, and what led you to sign up? Shortly after President Kennedy had been elected, I read a short article in the Kansas City Star indicating that JFK wanted to form “a corps of young  people to help out in Third World countries”, and there was an agency identified that would be involved with potentially implementing such a program. At the time I was in my first year of teaching, eighth grade Science, freshman basketball, and high school track, in a Kansas City high school. I wrote a letter to the agency, and received a reply that directed me to sign up for a certain Saturday date in May to take a test, at the main Post Office in Kansas City. I reported to the site, but upon finding out that the test would take six hours, had to postpone it to a later date as I had a track meet to do that same day. So I was quite surprised to receive a telegram in early June, saying I had been selected to attend training in Berkeley at the University of California, for a Peace Corps teaching project to “Chana”. My first thought was that the US Government was overly-ambitious, and that someone had spelled “China” incorrectly; however, there was a phone number to call and I found out that the mission was to the country of Ghana, formerly a British colony called “The  Gold Coast”, and located in an area of West Africa sometimes referred to as “The White Man’s Grave” due to the malaria-bearing  mosquitoes rampant throughout the region. Earlier, the only country that had been mentioned as a potential project had been the Philippines, so the selection of Ghana was a surprise.

As for my motivation, it was not for some altruistic concept that I was going to change the world, bring people out of poverty, etc. Those thoughts came later. From early childhood, I had dreamed of going to Africa, experiencing the jungle, seeing the animals, and sampling the many different landscapes seen in movies and described in books. I have a personal opinion that persons often are depicted or described by others as “self-sacrificing” when in fact (my fact!) they actually are the embodiment of a degree of selfishness or self-serving actions. They are deriving satisfaction from what they are doing, often in the face of many hardships, dangers, and other disturbing elements. This may be an over-generalization, especially in cases like Nelson Mandela in prison, Mother Teresa in the ghettoes of India, and other well-known examples. But in my own case, it was a taste for travel and adventure, just as it is today when I travel to foreign venues to evaluate schools on military bases or foreign capitals. Recently, I was praised for “my service to the Department of Defense and furthering the cause of America” when I was actually using my long years of successful professional experience to provide a vehicle for my own extensive travel while helping improve educational services within the international setting, and satisfying personal “needs”.

A note about satisfaction: often people receive praise for actions for which the individual doesn’t really think it’s deserved, while at the same time true satisfaction lies within the individual and may or may not be appreciated by outsiders. As a personal example, I perceived my role as a school administrator as “making things possible” so that creativity and ideas originating within the system, from individuals and collaborative groups, could be implemented. My career goal has been to be an agent of change; my Master’s level work was in Applied Anthropology so that I could treat Education as a sub-culture and thus could effectively be improved using the techniques and processes of applied anthropology. I was further fortunate to complete my doctoral level work in The School of Educational Change and Development at the University of Northern Colorado, and after submission of a proposal, was allowed to demonstrate my ability to effect change by obtaining a large grant and putting together an effective dropout prevention project in place of a dry dissertation. The “bottom line” is that I achieved personal satisfaction from knowing that many of the successes, within the various school settings in which I worked, would not have happened had I not been there.

  1. Did you, or have you, gotten to meet anyone our readers may have heard of as a result of your experience? Well, three of the four Presidents I’ve “met” were the result of my Peace Corps activities. After completing our training (actually, it was reduced from its scheduled eight weeks to seven weeks, so we could go to Washington, D.C.) we were allowed a week at home to pack, and then report to Washington where one of the special events was to meet JFK. We assembled in the Rose Garden along with volunteers from two other groups and then, realizing that more organization was needed, we were lined up and filed through the Oval Office where we shook hands with The President and probably said something stupid in our disconcerted mien. I know that I did. As a sidelight, in the film “Forrest Gump”, Tom Hanks was superimposed over the image of co-volunteer Alice O’Grady, in the scene where Gump meets Kennedy. Others of our group are seen in the background.

On a future date, the members of many groups were invited to the White House during the Clinton administration, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Originally, the occasion was to be a reception, but at that time there occurred a number of church bombings that need Federal attention, so our visit was “down-sized” to a few speeches from President Clinton, Sargeant Shriver, and the Director of the Peace Corps. I shook hands with the President, and had a few comments with Sarge and Eunice.

My third President was perhaps one of the most momentus events in my life, not necessarily because of whom I met, but the effect it has had on my perceptions of the whole tapestry of America. In 1965, a volunteer from Ghana II and I planned a trip “out West” and as he came through Kansas City, I had called the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, to see if the President would be interested in meeting us; I having been Kansas City’s first Peace Corps Volunteer (Note: When I was updating my Selective Service status, I was initially taken aback when Beverly Gilmore, director of the local office, said “Oh, you’re our Mr. Krisko”. She explained she meant our first Peace Corps volunteer, not a candidate for an immediate draft).

The interview did not go well. Mr. Truman was in his early 80’s, and recovering from a fall in the bath, so he was using a cane in order to move about. We met alongside a replica of his desk from the Oval Office, complete with the famous “The Buck Stops Here” sign on the desktop. After the greetings and introductions, his first question was “Well, what did you learn over there in Africa?” I replied, “I got a different perspective of America, and could see some things that our wrong with our country.” Knowing what you do about Mr. Truman, you probably can accurately guess at his reply to my answer: “You’re in a helluva shape if you think there’s anything wrong with this country!” Unfortunately, I have a well-deserved reputation for sometimes not following “protocols” (Later in life, my future mother-in-law correctly warned my wife-to-be that I’m “a maverick”), so I followed his comment with one of my own, “I don’t want to argue with you Mr. President, but it’s not the country, it’s some of the people in it.” After a few more bits of chatting about our service, he said “Well, Africa’s the Black Continent and always will be.” (I think he meant “The Dark Continent” but I refrained from correcting him).

So, what was the significance of this event? In the first place, during our Peace Corps training, the Director of the training (the late Dr. David Apter, author of many books and articles about Africa , and including The Gold Coast in Transition documenting the emergence of Ghana as the first independent country from the colonial era, and the rise of Kwame Nkrumah as its first President) and our designated Project Director, Dr. George Carter, referred to us as “callow youth”. Most of us were in our early 20’s, some fresh out of college, but there were a few older volunteers at the ripe age of 30-32, hardly “callow”. The youngest was 19, but already a college graduate; I was 22.  A significant number were from private schools such as Yale, Harvard, Brown, Rice, and others; many of the rest were from Midwestern institutions spread throughout the plains. But for the  most part, “callow” was accurate; I had to look it up and it means “inexperienced”. That was certainly true in my case and I think probably for most of us. I had never considered political issues, interracial concerns, economics, etc. My world was fairly well limited to interests in sports and sports cars (I bought a new Jaguar in Coventry, England, on my way home from Ghana), astronomy, and anthropology. Very few of our group had much of an interest in athletics, although one of them had been a player on Marquette’s final football team. Most members of the group were highly intelligent, task oriented individuals, and many were “shining stars” in the world of academics; others of us were more “typical Midwestern” in our approach to Life. There was one individual who had had major experience in the area of human relationships, and about that fact I only learned in the past few years. Her father (Rev. J.A.Delaine) was an early leader in the desegregation protest movement and a colleague of Dr. King; the daughter was an active participant in her father’s activities and his efforts are widely- recognized, including a special display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

During our training it was constantly emphasized that in addition to this being the first project scheduled to “go into the field”, it was also considered highly critical to our government’s influence on the  African continent due to the fact that Nkrumah and Ghana were strongly “left-leaning” and well within the sphere of influence of the USSR. As such, great care was being taken in selecting the 51 volunteers from the initial group of 60 that came to the Berkeley training. One interesting research study that started during our training was a search for a method to use in selecting volunteers who would have a good chance of being successful, and to be applied in future Peace Corps projects. The study was under the direction of Dr. Brewster Smith, Director of the Institute for Human Behavior in Santa Cruz, California, and President of the American Psychological Association. He and his assistant, Rafael Ezekiel, taped interviews with each of us periodically during the training, the two years of service, and even in a time period following our return to the U.S. And the result? There apparently was no single profile, and that was demonstrated in an unpublished manuscript prepared by Dr. Smith; in it, he had chosen six different personality types exemplified by demonstrably successful volunteers. Smith and Ezekiel have kept in touch with the Ghana I group over the 50 years since the project, and have attended many of the reunions held periodically.

So, how does this fit with my Truman interview? As much as possible, the major presenters in our training had covered most aspects of Ghanaian History, culture, politics, language, health, and government. All of them were leaders in their fields—Robert Lystad- Anthropology, David Apter-Economics and Political Science, St. Clair Drake-Afro-American History and Race Relations, Gray Cowan-Columbia U. Teachers for West Africa—But little to help me provide a satisfactory answer to Ghanaian student questions like  “Why do you allow police dogs to attack Negros in some parts of your country?” The local newspapers quite regularly featured stories and photos depicting bigotry and violence against Afro-Americans, and my “callowness” forced me to rely on my abilities to relate to other people and to emphasize that “not everyone is like that” and that “there are big changes taking place in our country”, and other vanilla responses. This is where I departed from Mr. Truman, I suddenly realized that “you’re in a helluva shape if you DON’T think there are some things wrong with this country!” At the same time, I was struck by a thought, “Are our leaders blind? Here’s a President and, while he gets credit for having integrated the military, doesn’t he see the underlying nastiness and unjustified hatred?” I guess I was lucky to have been raised in a “racially neutral” household where swear words and racial slurs were taboo, and became reflected in my attitude toward acceptance of others. And that same acceptance I saw throughout all the members of our Ghana I group, be it race, religion, or ethnicity.

The second disagreement I had with the President was his comment about “Africa being the Black (Dark) Continent, implying that “there’s no hope that it will ever emerge into the modern world”.  For someone with such an attitude, it may have been correct, but fortunately more-reasoned individuals had become the decision-makers, and we can see multiple examples of various nations having overcome many of the obstacles to their development. One unfortunate “leftover” is the conflict between tribalism and nationalism, a bit of collateral damage created from the Age of Colonialism during which ethnic populations were divided by artificially-established borders which still remain in place. Many of the wars and tragedies raising their ugly heads periodically throughout the Continent are the outflow from those misguided actions.

  1. Do I have any memories of humorous comments or anecdotes from my service year? Well, I always enjoyed reading the mottoes painted on the various “mammy wagons” (small vans used for transport) and lorries, and pondering their significance. “Nyame Bekyere” is “God Will Provide” in Twi, the dominant local language. “Sweet Are the Uses of Adversity” from Shakespeare I often use in trying to “make lemonade out of lemons”.

During our training, we often came up with semi-witty comments. “He was only an Ashanti, in old Ashanti Town” was based on an American song; “Here today, Ghana tomorrow” was used just prior to our departure from Washington. “Kwame, Kwame, How I Love You” was a variant of Al Jolson’s “Swanee”. “It’s a hard road to Ho” describing the route to an Eastern Ghanaian town.

But perhaps my favorite was coined by my best friend from those years, the late John Buchanan, who passed away just before Christmas, 2012. As he and I awaited our plane to take us on our way home, John said, “Well, it’s about time to ask my country what it can  do for me again.” After completion of his two years as a volunteer, John became a regional director for the Peace Corps in Nigeria, and had to get a large number of volunteers safely out of the Midwest Region when the Biafran War broke out. With a combination of dugout canoes, barges, clandestine short wave radio, and ocean-going tugboats, he successfully got all of his volunteers to Lagos, and to safety. He later was transferred to Kenya, where he completed his administrative service before returning to the U.S.

Some Personal Notes

Politically, I’m registered as an Independent, probably in keeping with that earlier mention of “maverickity”. But I think that even Mr. Truman might agree that “we’re in helluva shape” as we look at our Congress and the way it’s not working. I wish all of its members would revisit the preamble of the Constitution, which lays out simply and in brief the purpose and mission of our government, and from which they are massively departing. In the majority of my politics, I generally lean leftward, which is not surprising if you refer back to my earlier comments about how opinions are formed based on one’s experience. Mine have been collected through working directly with people,  not with things or finances. At heart, I would probably be a socialist, at least as it relates to providing services to improve our lot. In my travels throughout the Middle East, Africa, and to some extent to the Far East, it appears to me that most people are like us,  wanting adequate shelter, health, food, security, and good relationships. We in America are more fortunate, having the resources to go beyond those things, but we still have almost half our population either below or at least flirting with the poverty level.

I periodically hear, particularly during political campaigns, “You should be proud to be an American!” when in fact I think there is a misunderstanding of what constitutes Real Pride. To me, I can only have pride if I had a hand in creating or contributing to whatever is being discussed. Otherwise, I can only have an appreciation or profess admiration for whatever has been accomplished. I have thought, at least from my perspective, it would be more accurate to say “I’m Lucky to be an American”. I can admire many things that have come from our country, things like the Marshall Plan after WWII, the Bush initiative to eradicate malaria, the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, the Apollo Space successes, etc. But in all of these, I have been just a bystander. At the same time, sadly, my own efforts to confront bigotry, equal rights, and other social issues have been minimal and to a large extent, merely words, and these were the things to which I was referring during my Truman session.

Until recently, it seemed that regardless of whatever has been identified as a concern or a problem, we had the mechanism through our Constitution to make the necessary changes, certainly unique in governmental structures throughout the world. But now I’m beginning to question even that—I see our supposedly neutral Supreme Court making political decisions to favor corporate greed; one of our political parties has deteriorated from its once-effective prominence to be merely an obstructive, non-productive entity and one which is undercutting our social needs in favor of a small minority’s benefit; the other party is so split that it is often difficult to see what its mission really is. My own state’s Congressional representatives only parrot their party’s line, they do no independent thinking. Even our President, whom I continue to support but with increasing reservations, has not stood up sufficiently to oppositional platforms in order to accomplish his goals, most of which are reasoned, well-thought out programs to benefit the great majority of our population.

The Peace Corps experience was the starting block in “making me aware”, and starting me on a career path in which I could successfully use the “people skills” I first began to develop and understand as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was not alone in this Coming of Age; many of our group have gone on to a variety of high profile positions including medical research, Presidential campaign leadership, state political party leadership, philanthropic foundation grants, college and university research and instruction, public school teaching and administration, educational film and materials production, National Public Radio production, international journalism and major news organization Far East representation, concert series production, and other endeavors. Certainly a major component in our growth was the excellence of the staff responsible for our training, and the administrative leadership that nursed us effectively through our two year commitment. It was interesting to me to note that a number of our colleagues entered into administrative positions in the Peace Corps, some of them continuing into long-term careers in governmental agencies involved with having major positive impacts in The Third World countries. At the root of these successes was the self-confidence each of us developed as our assigned volunteer tasks unfolded.

We have left our callowness behind.

And so, I think I’ve answered all those unasked questions. I can go back to enjoying the fact that I live in a beautiful place where Nature is not only close by, but even occasionally intrudes such as when a 7-point buck deer, or a doe with two fawns, decided that our back porch was a good place to shelter from the winter’s wind. I recently read a beautifully-written blog essay written by a Chicago suburb resident, decrying the sometimes difficult task of “getting out into nature”, particularly during the long winter months. In it, “It’s a Halal Life”, she looked forward to the Spring and the resumption of outdoor activities once more signifying a sense of freedom. She didn’t mention having to mow the lawn, clean the gutters, or pick up after the dog.

Always Be Happy!         To Our Youth!

Randomly Yours

October 14, 2012

Occasionally one needs to be able to have a few moments just to savor, and with me, that offers a wide range of topics. Over my many years, I finally recognized fairly late in my career path that one of my fundamental personality traits was the avoidance of ever doing anything in any “real depth”.

At the same time, I have always wanted to know a bit about everything, a characteristic which stood me in good stead as a school administrator because it gave me some insights and empathy throughout the curriculum, and thus an understanding of what my teaching staff had to deal with. I could appreciate the concerns of the physical education teacher as well as those of the band instructor, the math and English teachers, and the shop and social studies instructors. Malcolm Gladwell would have categorized me as both “A Connector” and “A Maven” in his book, The Tipping Point. Others would have called me a Dilletante, with a capital “D”. And still others would have just called me Lazy. My prowess at Trivial Pursuit was legendary in the circles in which I ran; unfortunately it didn’t provide any financial rewards.

In Anton Gregoric’s rating system, I came out as Abstract Sequential, in other words, I have ideas and I can establish a sequence of events and activities in order to implement them, but after that, I’m finished and ready to move on to something else. And turn it over to a Concrete Sequential for implementation.

Which brings me back to my beginning point—-when I savor, it may be about anything, and you, the reader, become the victim.

Let’s start with some comments about the upcoming election and politics. I have recently become more disgusted than I was before, having felt that I had been able to tune out much of the rhetoric (read, BS). But I really need to say that there are three persons who are far above their colleagues in the area of being rude and obnoxious; this is unfortunate because all of them are extremely bright but their manner and mannerisms destroy what otherwise would be a significant contribution to their points of view. Those persons are Chris Matthews, maybe the most obnoxious person on TV; Joe Scarborough who, on his excellent “Morning Joe” cable show on MSNBC, consistently puts down his co-host with rudeness and verbal abuse; and finally the terrible performance of our Vice-President during last week’s debate when he was condescending, rude, and loud. Had he pursued a serious or at least calm demeanor, his message representing his party’s platform might have been heard, but it was overwhelmed by the nastiness of his performance. I believe he lost a lot more voters than he might have won. I certainly don’t want someone like that as my President. But then I don’t want any of the other guys, either. They’re far worse from the perspective of what they would do with our economy, as well as the major social issues they ignorantly raise. Here’s an example of poor thinking:

They decry the suggestion for raising the taxes about 4 % on the rich, saying that you shouldn’t discourage the “Job Creators” by taking away more of their money that would be used to create jobs. But I read an article submitted by a Republican billionaire that said, “that argument is so much BS (my translation). What allows them to create jobs is if the middle class has more buying power, creating demand, which in turn allows businesses to add more employees to make more goods. They’re  not going to add any jobs if there’s no demand. Actually, it’s the Middle Class that causes jobs to be created.”   Unfortunately, the Jobs Bill that President Obama had submitted to Congress was defeated by the Republican-dominated House; it was to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure with millions of jobs, and thus more tax revenue to replace whatever needed to be borrowed to fund the program. They just couldn’t see him be successful.

One further comment on that: Who is Grover Norquist? I don’t recall anyone ever voting for him. Why is he directing this “Assault on Reason”?

As for Abortion and Gay Marriage, they are taking away too much time from dealing with our real problems. If you don’t believe in either one, then don’t do it. It doesn’t affect you directly unless you’re a participant. A recent stupid ruling says that at conception, the fertilized egg is entitled to all the privileges of a fully- born person. Biologically, that egg “has the capacity” to become a human, but is not yet there. Probably the same thinking that considers a corporation as an individual.

Whenever I hear a politician refer to “The American People”, or I see him wrinkle his brow and widen his eyes to appear sincere, I know that there is more BS coming. How they have the arrogance and effrontery to act as though they’re representing all of us, by stating a partisan position, calls out for FactCheck.com to do its work. When they start a statement with “I think” I realize that (a) they’re expressing an opinion, not a fact, (b) they’re probably not thinking, and (c) there’s probably at least one or more other opinions about the same issue and we will be lucky if one of them is correct.

I continue to hear comments about “how far we’ve come” in the Arena of Tolerance. Yes, we’ve made some steps, but there’s a long way to go before racism goes the way of polio and smallpox. The current wave of Islamophobia sweeping through much of the lesser educated regions of our country is a major example of large groups of people being ignorant about that which they attack, and some of their leaders derive their status from fostering vicious attacks of hatred to their flocks. Rather, they should be reading the Qur’an, and seeing how the two religions supplement one another, not divide. Those who perpetrate terror are Muslims in name only, they are not following the basic tenets of the faith.  But the blatantness of their actions serves to increase the lack of trust and acceptance among peoples.

Well, enough ranting for the time being. As far as my own activities are concerned, I am looking into the use of Alpha lipoic Acid, a dietary supplement, to control my neuropathy. Googling reveals that it has been used widely for years, in Europe and especially in Germany, with good results. The clinical trial in Oregon which I’m investigating is focused on this regimen, but I may begin its use fairly soon instead of going through a 16 week research trial where I may be given the placebo instead of the material under study.

And to supplement whatever benefits may accrue, I purchased an Elite Integra Massage Chair (Google it) and a Sealy 12” Memory Foam Mattress. The former is now ensconced in front of my 55” TV and seems to be personally delighted to establish new muscle aches and pains through deep probing massage. The latter will be delivered next Friday, the same day as I close on the purchase of the house.

The weather has been cooperative in providing opportunities for daily golf, with temps around 70.

I hope to soon start using the 8” Meade Cassegraine-Schmidt telescope I bought from an astronomer friend, maybe I can finally begin using that major in Astronomy I received in 1960, then forgot. The scope is fairly heavy, the tripod alone weighs 26 lbs. It has a clock drive to maintain its position focused on a celestial object, but I foresee some careful study necessary for me to really use it. Fortunately, the skies out here in Wyoming are usually very clear, and all the forest fires have finally been extinguished so that the smoke is gone.

And I’ve joined a tennis group that plays two mornings a week indoors. One of the players has Alzheimer’s and seems to have a bit of trouble following what’s happening; this will be a good opportunity for me to learn more about the disease.

Finally, what is the the usage of the word, “well” at the beginning of an answer to a question? Is it still an adverb, or a noun, or is it something else? What is it really contributing to the answer?

Always Be Happy!                                                        To Our Youth!

On Leadership

April 11, 2012

On Leadership

                A colleague and I exchanged a series of emails focusing on topics for which we each were seeking some kind of “revelation” in order to enjoy personal satisfaction and potential closure. Examples included such concepts as Faith, Love, Destiny, and now Leadership; we found as we ambled through our verbal interactions that in each case, in order to internalize the concept, our understanding needed to be reduced to identifying “The Essence” upon which the idea is based. (more…)