Monday, May 31, 2010

Today...


...we honor the warrior and not the war.  We honor all who have served and especially those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.  The day was first started by a Union General who was concerned that Confederate soldiers who had died in battle in the north were laying in their graves without honor.  The Union General felt that, regardless of which side you were fighting on, the warriors needed to be honored.  He organized groups to put flowers on the graves of the Confederate soldiers.  Almost immediately the idea caught on and the day became a day to honor all soldiers who had died.  Over the years it became Decoration Day when flowers were placed on all graves including those who did not serve.  In some places it remains a day to clean the local cemetery and to place new flowers on graves.  In the 1960s the day was officially named Memorial Day.  Local ceremonies remain as a way to honor the military dead and their ultimate sacrifice.  We all need to take a moment today and remember those who served and died.  We all need to take a moment today to personally thank everyone who served.  We also need to remember that on November 11 each day we honor all Veterans.  11/11 the day the armistice was signed to end World War I.  Much the same it now honors all veterans of the military regardless of their service.  I personally would like every day to be Veteran's Day.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Technology...


...is a wonderful thing if used with restraint along with good judgement.  I own three computers and used a Blackberry for several years.  I have throughly enjoyed having all of that wisdom and knowledge at my fingertips.  I gave up on television a few years ago and now only have the basic-basic-basic cable.  That is fine with me because I very seldom sit down and watch television. I also went to a basic cell phone without Internet and without a camera and without texting. I have a digital recorder in one of my computers and can record just about any show that interests me.  I also use Hulu a lot.  Hula is a free site that offers free television, movies and music.  If I want to watch a month of South Park or  John Stewart or Stephen Colbert, it is all there for the asking.  That is a trap also because it is addicting.  You can't just watch (eat) just one.  An entire day can be lost watching shows that you have missed.  I sometimes wonder that if I decided to cancel my Internet service and my basic-basic-basic TV what my life might be like.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old...


...people have a reputation for reaching far back in their memory for stories.  Part of that might be that they only remember the things that happened many years ago and the challenge today is to try to remember where you left your glasses or your keys.  I have my own theory.  I think that when a person gets older they have such an accumulation of memories that some are forgotten and others rise to the top of the pile.  You know.  The benchmarks.  The life changing experiences.  The life changing people in your life.  The truly important things.  Some people like to use the metaphor of the brain being a computer.  If that is true even in the broadest sense then the computer and the brain can "filter" garbage from the important stuff.  Not that garbage or trash is not important.  Many times the most negative things in our lives become the single most important key to change.  A cause to change direction and possibly save our lives or the lives or out family.  Garbage can be an alarm system in life and warns us of bad things that have happened or will happen.  Today as I sit at my window to the world there is no garbage. No trash.  Only a blue sky and high white clouds floating over the snowy tops of the Rocky Mountains.  Life is good.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting...




...going is especially hard when the weather turns nice.  Urge to go into the yard and cut or kill something.  Not many days of summer so I need to make the best of it when it is warm.  It has not snowed here since yesterday.  What a nice thing that summer in the high country is for all of us.  The fellow who did my siding told me that my Swallows would not return this year as their habitat under the eaves had changed.  I guess he was wrong as they reappeared on schedule yesterday.  I am watching about twenty on the wire above the road.  Looks like they are licking their beaks (lips) in anticipation of pooping all over my new deck.  I guess it is part of the cycle of life.  When you include the amount of time that we take sleeping, peeing and pooping it does not leave a lot of time to cut or kill something in your yard this very short summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shivaree...



..is the Word Of The Day at Dictionary.Com today.  I subscribe to their service and it is marvelous.  They also have an excellent on-line dictionary and a translator.
What I remember from growing up in Iowa in the 1940s was that friends of the bride and groom would put a bed in the middle of a hay wagon pulled by a tractor.  Then they would kidnap the newlyweds and put them into the bed on the trailer and then drive around town followed by a bunch of cars all with beep their horns.  You could stand outside and tell where the procession was and what direction they were headed.
My hometown is in north central Iowa and does not have any strong French connections although a large population of Catholics do live in the area.
Here is the definition from Dictionary.com.
shivaree \SHIV-uh-ree\, noun:
1. A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple.
2. An elaborate, noisy celebration.
verb:
1. To serenade with a shivaree.

I used to attend shivarees and I can remember the preparation and planning involved.
-- "Of pigs, jokes, and marriage." Lawrence World-Journal.
When my father got married (yes that was the 50's) his male relatives pulled a "shivaree," where they set up all kinds of surprises for the newly married couple to find on their wedding night. This included the typical short sheeting of the wedding bed, changing the content of the groom's shaving cream can, and other gags.
-- Isaac Grant Thompson, Irving Browne, Kentucky Folklore Record.
Shivaree is an adaptation of the French word charivari, which describes an old custom that celebrates a marriage. Shivaree is centered along the Mississippi.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Relatives...



...are just that.  Relative.  

Spending time with my three oldest children aged 46, 43 and 41 last week brought back many thoughts of being a father many years ago.  I married early just after my 19th birthday but my oldest daughter was born in England three years later.  They say the cold bedrooms and perpetually cold and wet climate cause Americans to sleep closer together hence more children.  Apparently it did not work with me.  

My children are all interested in history and genealogy so it was fun to rehash my life and the lives of my ancestors.  As you get older the family history becomes more and more important as you realize your own mortality.  I have two first cousins who have worked hard on our gemology as well as my deceased mother when she was alive.  

I am always distressed when this nation of immigrants finds time to be prejudiced and bigoted toward the latest group of immigrants.  Even the American Indians are immigrants.  At some point in time there was no one living here.  

I would challenge all of you to look at your own family history and count the few years it has been since your family arrived in America.  It puts things into perspective.  

I am 75% Irish and 25% Swedish and both groups were outcasts 100 years ago.  Shame on them for being white and working hard.  Shame on us for believing that others are not the same.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Change...


...is always good. 

I can hear 
some of you 
girding your loins 
to reject
that comment 
but hear me out.  

Change means
ending one thing.  

Change 
also always means 
starting something new.  

Old things are good
 for memories 
but new things 
represent the future.  

New things result 
in things getting better.  

Things
 moving forward.  

No more 
of the same old, 
same old.  

New challenges.  

New goals.  

New objectives.  

New times. 

New places.  

Get my point? 

 I have never 
had a change 
in my life 
either small 
or large 
that was not 
a good thing f
or me 
personally.  

We grow 
through change.  

We get old 
and die 
without change..

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greed...


...causes oil spills.

  
The greed 
of wanting 
the biggest 
and the best 
fossil fueled vehicles.  

A new Cadillac
with a 526 HP engine 
being sold as
"the fastest production vehicle in the world." 
Now who needs that?  

Rush to production 
and rush to judgement 
to create 
the  biggest 
and the best 
oil extraction system 
to get the most oil 
out of the ground 
in the fastest way 
possible.  

Engineers 
are now saying 
that the whole thing
was faulty.  
It was going to break
at some point. 

An entire gas platform 
disappeared 
off the coast of Venezuela 
according to Hugo Chavez
 this morning.  

Greed is not a good thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fifty...


...years ago this month I graduated from High School.  Now that is so very hard to imagine.  It seems like just yesterday.  I remember the sport coat that I was wearing that night.  The new watch on my wrist.  Walking to the graduation ceremony with my family.  I probably had two thoughts that night.  One was that I was going into the Air Force in a couple of days for four years.  The other thought was probably how much I thought I could drink with my friends that night after the ceremony.  In the last fifty years I have attended a lot of high school graduations.  Of four of my five kids.  Of the children of lots of my friends. Of my nephews.  I just wish it were possible to instill in each graduate of what a life changing event graduating from High School is in one's life.  How you can never look back and only look forward.  Probably the most quoted scripture from the bible is 1 Corinthians 13 where we find the definition of love but in the same scripture is the following, " When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.When I became a man, I put aside childish things."  That is what happened on that May evening back in 1960 in Rockwell City, Iowa.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Woman's...


...professional golfer was found dead in Nevada and they are investigating it as a possible suicide. She was a college star and ranked 44th on the circuit. Joe Biden's son was hospitalized today with a possible stroke. He is in his 40s.   A study shows that working overtime might be good for your pocketbook but not good for your heart. All of these stories were on my News feed in the past couple of minutes. So what is the relationship?  To be a professional anything takes a lot of time and hard work.  A lot of overtime.  A lot of time not for yourself or your family or your loved ones but for your profession.  You can work so hard that you will miss the one thing that you are working hard for.  You can lose your health.  You can lose your family.  You can lose your relationships.  All for what?  Money?  Fame? Glory?  Try putting your arms around any of that.  Try getting any love and affection back from any of those.  Sometimes we are too smart too late.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Safe...


...is when the Colorado State Legislature is not in session.  The session ends this Wednesday and that is when you can unlock your doors and let your children play outside again.  Of course I am exaggerating but I think it is a metaphor for the truth.  I sometimes think that the legislators spend an inordinate amount of time searching for things to run bills about when the bills are not really needed in the real world.  The one hundred members of the legislature all get five bills each year.  That is five hundred bills and then leadership gets another two hundred bills just to round things off.  Seven hundred ways to let us know how our lives should happen.  Seven hundred ways to find happiness in the minds of some elected officials.  There are some states that only allow their legislatures to meet every so many years.  I there is one state, the name slips my mind right now, that only meets every five years.  I am sure that there was someone like me in that state saying that the legislature met too often.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Funny...


...how life catches up to you.  In my mind I am still twenty.  In the mirror I am about fifty and on the calendar I am sixty eight.  I am reminded of the old saying, "Act your age."  My goodness what a terrible thought.  Act my age?  What idiot came up with that idea.  I suppose that works when you are a young person who acts twenty years older.  Not me.  I have some students who never smile.  They have a sad and serious face all the time.  When I engage them in conversation I get the feeling I am talking to someone much older. They take themselves and what they are doing much too seriously.  My good friend Jim who just turned seventy told me recently that he thinks I worry too much.  I really took that to heart.  What?  Me worry? To quote Alfred E. Newman from MAD Magazine. When you are as old as I am but act so much younger it is disarming to most people.  I can be standing in line at the store and have a very delightful conversation with a beautiful young teenager because I am not threatening to her.  I see myself as a young vibrant man when she sees me as someone who is older than her grandfather.  I am sure that we both enjoy the exchange.

Friday, May 7, 2010

What...


...if they held an election and too many people came?  I normally go to bed around 9 pm every night.  I sometimes wake up as early as 1 am.  Four hours of sleep a night is all that LBJ ever had and he seemed to do well.  Well if you do not count his heart problems.  This morning was a 1 am morning and when that happens I turn on National Public Radio to listen to the British Broadcasting Company and do a reality check to make sure that the world did not end during my four hour sleep.  This morning it had not.  The Germans are poised to give Greece a ton of money to forestall their crises.  The American stock market dropped almost 1000 points but now they are saying that someone entered the wrong number into their data system and that caused the drop in the market.  Lots of confidence there. I wonder if it was the same guy who failed to check the no fly list.  And last but not least to my point.  The general election in England yesterday resulted in record numbers of voters.  So many voters that the polls ended up closing without everyone voting.  Sound familiar?  Another interesting thing happened.  Labour lost but the Conservatives did not get enough votes to form a government so it put the Liberals in a position to become important in forming a coalition government.  I teach Comparative Government and I also lived in England for many years so I understand this mess. In England you do not vote for a national candidate.  You vote for your  local candidate and the party that wins the most seats or most candidate races becomes the ruling party and they get to form a new government.  The head of the ruling party normally becomes Prime Minister.  Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are three recent examples.  They were never voted in by the people to become Prime Minister.  They won their local races for Parliament but became Prime Minister because they were the head of their party.  The reaction this morning was almost too funny.  Some members were saying it was impossible and not true.  Other members were saying that it was about time to have a minority party having some control.  Other members were calling for a new election.  It is really up to the politicians to try to sort the whole thing out.  They have a deadline later this month so there is plenty of time.  The last time this happened was in 1974 and it did not work then.  Imagine telling John McCain and Barack Obama to sit down and agree on who is going to run the country?  Or better yet.  Sarah Palin and James Carville.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Slow...


...news days have ceased to exist.  Trucks parked on bridges in New York City.  FBI, TSA and NYPD all blaming each other for the terrorist getting on the plane after his name was on the no-fly list. The oil leak in the gulf.  The efforts to mitigate the oil leak.  The potential of the oil impacting the entire coast of Florida both west and east and then going up the shore of the Atlantic to New England.  The economic crises in Greece that is becoming an European economic crises leading to a worsening world crises.  People die while politicians talk.  Basketball teams opposed to Arizona profiling law.  Phil Jackson now saying that sports and politics do not mix.  Well Phil do human rights and civil rights mix with sports?  What an idiot.  The local elections being an indicator of what will happen in November.  The pendulum swings but how far will it swing?  Guns will now be allowed at Colorado State University.  Really dumb.  The people of the state of Colorado voted to approve medical marijuana by a large majority and now the Colorado State Senate is usurping the will of the people and putting medical marijuana out of business for the most part.  A good friend used to say that "Even a blind pig could find an acorn once in a while."  If a reporter can't find a story in all of this mess then they should leave journalism.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Scary...


...to think what might have happened.  This guy goes to bomb school in Pakistan.  Comes back and tries to blow up a truck loaded with explosives in Times Square and fails.  He is on the no fly list but travels unimpeded from the United States to Pakistan.  He decides to fly back to Pakistan and makes the reservation on his cell phone on the way to the airport.  Pays for the ticket in cash.  Gets on the plane.  The plane starts to leave the gate when a Customs Agent just happens to notice that his name is on the manifest and the no fly list.  Lets the pilot know and they go on board and remove the bomber. The bomber confesses.  Talk about a cluster ****.  Now me.  A WASP, retired police officer and not on any lists flies to Phoenix last weekend to go to a wedding.  I get searched at the airport coming and going.  My bag is searched twice after I checked it. I got the little note from TSA telling me that it was searched and that is why it is no longer packed in some reasonable form.  What's up with that?  Why me and not the terrorist?  Something is wrong with all of this.  Our system is broken and it needs to get fixed now.  Immediately.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dogs...


...live to please their owners.  Their role in life is to make us happy and feel safe.  All dogs are descendent's from wolves the same way all human beings are descendent's of black Africans.  Think about your relatives the next time you get angry at a dark skinned person.  The most dramatic memory I have of dogs is when I was living in Guatemala in 2007.  In my village in the jungle next to a lake made from an old volcano was that the place was crawling with dogs.  Dogs that did not seem to have any owners.  They just roamed and scavenged from the trash.  The really nice thing was, that even without any human controls, the dogs never fought.  They were not territorial.  They could eat at their leisure and could sleep at their leisure oftentimes in the middle of the road or the middle of the path.  The really bad thing was that there was dog poop all over the place.  My roommate Tony from Australia never wore shoes and his feet were covered in dog excrement all the time with some of it oozing between his toes.  In the real world he was an elementary school gym teacher.  I wonder what the principal would have thought of Tony's feet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Phoenix...


...was Phoenix.  Lots of talk about how they don't like the new immigration law.  Or, lots of talk about how the new immigration law did not go far enough.  Arizona is a very strange place.  One person spontaneously erupted in my face about my being a liberal and a former Democratic Colorado State Legislator and that the Republicans were going to take over the world again this year.  I think it is wonderful that people care about their opinions and have the courage to comment to people about how they feel.  I think that it is terrible that they have to get so angry when they offer their opinions.  I am a flaming liberal but at the same time I have never found it necessary to raise my voice and loudly proclaim the demise of people who think differently.  There is no accounting for some folks.