Friday, December 29, 2017

Storm Clouds


As I write my last blog of 2017, before saying goodbye to you all on Monday, January 1st, I thought about what I might say.  I was then inspired by watching a gathering of liberal intellectuals being aired on C-Span this morning.

The topics of that liberal gaggle included immigration, education, the failure of capitalism and the national healthcare system.  So as I listened I heard one speaker lament that America wasn't like Denmark....where the absence of spending on their own defense enabled them to fund healthcare.  (They failed to mention that Denmark is able to do that because America pays for their defense.)  And, as Danish healthcare was praised, as was that of much of Europe, no one bothered to explain why each year hundreds of thousands from countries with socialized medicine flock to America for their critical care.

Next up was immigration.  Your liberal friends at that meeting were espousing the elimination of national borders, allowing anyone to come to America, arguing that America is a nation of immigrants and we should never restrict the free flow of humans who wish to come here without our approval or blessing.

When the next liberal speaker rose to talk, he walked to the podium and proclaimed that capitalism was the worst system to ever be inflicted on humanity....that it encouraged selfishness and greed and income inequality.  To that, the liberal crowd roared their approval.  

Finally, when those liberal geniuses got to the subject of education, they recited statistics about how America is now 28th in education among the large industrial nations.  The education genius said it is because we starve the education budget and if we would just throw more money into the education pot, things would get better.

After listening to all those liberal speakers, I admit to experiencing a bout of nausea.  And I also admit that, as each liberal rose to provide his or her solutions to America's problems, I spoke out loud, asking them from afar about certain and specific holes in their arguments.

As to immigration, I would have recited a few statistics myself.  For example, since 1988 the population of the U.S. has grown by nearly a third....or 100 million people.  Of that number, only 20 million have come from native citizen birth.  The other 80 million have come from immigration, both legal and illegal, the vast majority arriving through our southern border.  

So of course I would ask when is enough... enough?  And I would ask of what value are immigrants who have mastered the art of exploiting our social services?  And I would ask if the combination of explosive Black urban crime, mixed with the explosion of MS-13 gangs, and Latino home invasions, the rise in hit and run automobile accidents, the strains on our healthcare system through bankrupting our ER rooms....( the "health clinic" most used by illegals) is worth it.  And I would ask if it is a good thing that these 80 million illegal residents refuse to jump into the melting pot and embrace societal traditions that promote the common good?

With respect to supporting a national healthcare system, I would only ask you how you are treated when you walk into any government run establishment.  Are you treated as courteously as you would be in private business?  How's the wait time in your local DMV, or Social Security Office, or government medical clinic?  How's the level of customer service?  Do you really want 1/5th of the economy being run by government bureaucrats?  Do you want the VA running your healthcare system?

With respect to the evils of capitalism, I would have asked those liberal elites to name one system elsewhere that has brought more prosperity, more elimination of poverty, more opportunities to achieve your dreams.

Finally, with regard to education, I would have asked those liberals to explain how the costs to educate our youth have risen faster than any other segment of local, state or national budgets, and yet our youth are getting ever more ignorant.  And why we lead the world in the costs of education per student, yet trail them so badly.  And I would ask them if they did not believe the death of the nuclear family had something to do with the decline in education.  Or the plethora of bad teachers, backed by the strongest union in our nation's history.  I would ask them if the "crack moms" in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York or Detroit give one shit about the education of their spermal offal?  And after Dr. Spock and Hillary's "It Takes A Village", and the death of corporal punishment in our schools and homes, how is a parent to direct a child toward positive development?

Every one of that seminar's problems can never be resolved with simple solutions.  All are complex, all are interwoven with each other, all require a revolution of magnificent proportion to solve.  (Alas, that's why I have talked unendingly about that 2nd Civil War).    The only thing I can say for certain is that the liberal answer will never be the right one.  The liberal solution is always concocted from a belief that big government can mandate Nirvana if just given the chance.  Well, Stalin tried that, as did Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, and a whole host of tyrants throughout human history.  And the only thing that has even come close was the republic our founders established more than two hundred years ago.  It is not "the perfect union" but far better than anything before or since.

As we approach 2018, I'll be looking to see how our society evolves.  And I'll be looking to see if we shall have a White Knight (gender and ethnicity no matter) arise and come up with a better idea.  And, most fascinating to me, will be what happens to the mainstream media.  They have poisoned the well through their biases for too long now, this past year the most toxic.  But they are like an expanding balloon, their toxic gases expanding to the breaking point.  I'm fascinated about what will happen when the last 20 percent of America stop believing them, give up trying to pluck the truth from their biases, when the great totality of America just begins to regard these "journalists" as the next evolution of "comic strip".

When that happens, who's going to be around to cover that "2nd Civil War?"

Lots of storm clouds ahead, dear reader.  Don't be caught out there without your umbrella, or without your 2nd Amendment items.  Keep a store of water and rations nearby, until the dust settles.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Mellow Yellow"


You might be surprised to learn that Arizona is in the forefront of water recycling.  We have several projects in the state that are absolutely state of the art for filtering and treating wastewater.  All of the water is currently used for industrial and agricultural purposes.  However, this past week the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality staged a rather bold test to see how their recycled water would fare in other venues.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"The Christmas Tree...See What You Have Done...Oh My!'


Well, for what it's worth, here is my annual Christmas story....a gift to family and friends. I hope it is worthy. 
"A Christmas Tree……..My What You Have Done!" 
Dan was dying. His body told him this was his last Christmas. It had been telling him that for months; the occasional pains, the lack of energy to perform tasks once accomplished so easily. That very afternoon he had received a painful reminder of his mortality, the sharp stab of pain along the left side of his chest as he strung the Christmas lights along the porch eaves. And after accomplishing such a modest task he found himself out of breath, forced to retreat to his easy chair, to rest a bit.
So many things to get done. Just two days before Christmas and so much left to do. Had his body not told him this Christmas would be his last, he would not have felt an urge to make this last one special. After the kids had grown up, married and left home, he and Liz had allowed the celebration of Christmas to dwindle down, each Christmas more modest than the last. On Christmas Eve they had attended church, and on Christmas morning, the mutual exchanging of simple gifts, then ham and sweet potatoes for two……..a glass of wine to celebrate a winter sunset.
It had not always been so. When the children were at home he was a joyful bear; hauling crates of Christmas decorations down from the attic, leading an expedition of adults and children to the Christmas tree lot, then hauling in an eight foot Frasier Fir, it’s needles crisp and green, its scent heavenly, infusing the air with remembrances of all those Christmases of childhood. And when the tree was trimmed, with shiny red and green ornaments, and kindergarten offerings, and treasured cards from old, and when the strings of lights had all been strategically positioned for maximum effect, the lights in the home were dimmed, the tree lights plugged in to excited gasps, as eyes from six to sixty admired their handiwork.
And after mugs of hot chocolate, sprinkled with marshmallows, were raised in toast to the holiday, that caravan of varied folk trod outside, and risked life and limb to hang the galaxy of crystal lights, announcing to the world that this family celebrated Christmas…and would have it no other way! And in those weeks before Christmas the scent of sugar and cinnamon filled the house with gaiety and the warm affection that comes when the carols ring throughout the home.
But in these last few years, as Dan and Liz celebrated alone, those marvelous ribbons of crystal lights were the first to go, far too much trouble, and too risky for fragile bones to climb ladders. And then the tree got smaller each year……..until it dwindled to no tree at all, a single poinsettia replacing the gaiety of decoration in earlier years.
And, when Liz passed, not even the poinsettia….and the ham dinner came from Stouffers, eaten on a TV tray in the dimly lit room, Jimmy Stewart, seen but not heard, the TV muted as Jimmy ran down the streets of Bedford Falls, his soul newly awakened.
And now this was Dan’s last Christmas. His newly discovered frailty told him, and his heart told him too.
So, he decided to go out big. The lights outside strewn, he sipped the last of the coffee, now grown cold, and reached into the box that held the treasures from all the Christmases past. Resting atop the box of treasures were two tiny bundles of Christmas cards, each tied neatly in scarlet ribbon, each bearing witness to Liz’s fastidious preservation of memories past.
So Dan reached for his reading glasses, thinking he might visit yesterday for just a bit. Yet, somehow he knew that opening even one of those cards would send him deep into the shadows of afternoon, precious time lost for what he had to do.
Despite his best efforts, to go out and fetch his Christmas tree, Dan sank deeply into his chair and fell asleep.
He found himself standing in the aisle of a passenger train, shedding his snow gear, the snow covers from his boots. All about him other passengers were similarly busy, shedding winter coats, hanging them in coat cabinets, stowing packages and shopping bags in overhead bins, bags full of fruit and cheeses, golden baguettes emerging triumphantly from the tops of bags. 
The coach was festive with merriment that can only come when travelers, happy but weary, are finally going home. Dan felt it too. Caught up in the rosy-cheeked anticipation of a winter trip homeward, he felt companionable and engaging. 
After taking his seat he looked about him. In the row in front of him, the guy in the window seat turned and offered a “good morning”, then began to speak familiarly with him, as if they were old friends. Indeed the fellow did seem familiar. When he had turned his head, to issue his morning greeting, he looked like Fred, his old high school class mate. “Fred” wore a gray ski sweater, decorated with tiny pines nestled in the feathery white of snow bank, the scarf about his neck a snowy white, completing the look of one who has just come from a ski lodge, his cheeks rouged and rough, his blue Irish cap jauntily perched over close-cropped silvery hair.
Fred turned again Dan’s way and spoke to him as if we were old friends. “Well, I imagine you’re glad that it’s almost all over now”, he said. “It could not have been easy, and though I was not there, I can at least understand what it must be to have it done with….at last now heading home …to people you love”. 
Dan nodded and just looked away. He then turned his head to the front and began gazing out the train window. He did not feel comfortable speaking in intimacies to this stranger, even as familiar as he seemed. He spoke as if Dan was returning from some war, his tone sympathetic, as if some horror had left some visible manifestation of what the war had done to Dan. 
Dan lowered his head, chin to chest, and took note of what he was wearing; a ragged olive green sweatshirt, over jeans as pale as cornflowers, his boots a bit wet, but clean and serviceable.How did “Fred” know of a war from which Dan had no recollection at all?
Those thoughts were abandoned as an elderly lady appeared in the aisle before him, her gray hair carefully coiffed, a bright red scarf about her neck. She was cradling an infant, swaddled in pink, and she seemed happy at the task. With a nod of her head she motioned toward the window seat beside Dan, smiled as he moved his feet into the aisle, giving her room to slide past. She then carefully lowered herself and babe into her seat and tossed a smile Dan’s way in gratitude. Dan returned her smile, then thought, and almost said ‘Betty White…from Golden Girls’.
Just then the first half rotation of wheels, the metallic sound of steel on steel, signaled that the train was ready to roll. Dan inclined forward slightly, then peered out at the snowy morning at this unknown junction. Outside he saw a gathering of well-wishers, all dressed in heavy coats, waving their goodbyes, intermittently stomping their feet to get a bit of circulation in them, but continuing to happily windmill arms in displays of fond goodbye.
Soon the train picked up speed and before long the train chugging along nicely, the panorama of snowy cornfields, dotted with an occasional farmhouse was all that was visible outside the train window. Inside the compartment the earlier bustle of settling in for a journey had ebbed to the occasional shuffling of rump, the quiet whispers of married folks, the steady hum of train wheels somehow a comforting thing.
“Betty White”, to Dan’s right had tucked her infant into the folds of her jacket, then found a pocket of comfort between headrest and window and nodded off to sleep. “Fred” had drifted off as well, his chin turned sideways against the back of his seat, his face buried in neck scarf, one lone drop of saliva resting at the corner of his mouth.
Dan turned his attention again to the window. Ahead, and to his right, he could see the first outlines of snowy mountain range ahead, and then he heard the almost imperceptible surge of the train engine as it picked up steam, in preparation for the climb. Soon the train engine settled into steady hum and the warmth of the train coach began send the others into a winter napping.
Dan too felt the urge. Settling back in his seat, he extended his legs, settled one ankle over the other, then began to nod off. However, just before he closed his eyes, he noticed, far up at the head of the train compartment, a gentle looking white haired gentleman standing in the aisle. The old gent, perhaps 5 foot tall, if that, wrapped elegantly in gray topcoat, his head cocked to the side as if waiting to hear something, or for something to happen. But Dan was too sleepy now. He could barely keep his eyes open. But just before the lids of Dan’s eyes closed for a final time, he again looked toward the front of the compartment…….and could have sworn that the strange old man was looking directly at him.
Dan awakened with a chill. When he opened his eyes he was again in his own home, the dream but a wisp of fancy visiting him in his slumber. Darkness had fallen and an evening chill had settled about the house. Dan flicked on the lamp by his side, then found himself again staring into that box of Christmas treasures. His mind still a bit cloudy from that death-like nap, Dan was startled to see that, atop that pile of neatly bound Christmas cards, was a picture of a train, climbing the snowy slopes of a low mountain range, its engine smoke stack trailing wispy puffs of smoke behind. When Dan turned his head just slightly, the train seemed to come to life, seemed actually in motion, and he could almost hear the clackity clack of steel wheels, grinding through the fresh fallen snow across the tracks.
“I’m going quite mad”, he uttered, and rose to turn the thermostat up a notch, the night chill now creeping into his bones.
He then walked over the kitchen sink, gave the cold water tap a half turn, then cupped his hands and splashed water in his face in an effort to drive the sleep from his eyes. He then looked at his watch, surprised at the lateness of the hour. He had wasted his day, and tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and if there were Christmas trees left anywhere in town, the best ones would likely be gone by tomorrow.
Resigned to his having wasted away an afternoon and evening, Dan plodded off to bed, eager to return to that Christmas train, bound from some unknown junction, a destination yet to be determined.
Dan awakened on Christmas Eve morning, feeling sluggish and unrested, despite the long slumber of afternoon and evening. The train had not visited him in his dreams and his regrets seemed magnified far more than they should have been. As he sat on the side of the bed, his shoulders shivered with early morning chill and disappointments over a dream deferred.
Forcing himself to his feet, he showered and shaved, dressed, then ambled out to his car, sat for a few minutes, allowing the defroster to clear the early morning frost from the windshield, then drove over to Home Depot to fetch the tree.
Unfortunately, the tree lot at Home Depot was closed. A sign posted at the gate just said “Sold Out…Check Down The Street”. 
After U-turning out of the lot, Dan made a turn up Chestnut Street. After driving a mile or so, Dan spotted a Christmas tree lot, a half dozen trees remaining under a festive red canopy that might have once sheltered a hundred trees.
Dan pulled into the lot, got out of the car, then walked over to inspect yule tree leavings. He found that all of the remaining trees were no more than five feet tall, not one of them as grand as those which had stood so majestically over his Christmas brood of long ago. Having almost deciding to forego a tree this year….after all wasn’t he silly to even consider getting a tree with just he to admire it, he heard the swish of nylon and turned to see an old gent, with beard as white as snow, the top of his head not reaching the pinnacle of not one of his trees, proclaim “oh, you simply must have a tree, old friend!”
The old man looked so eerily familiar. Dan was sure he had seen him before…the jolly red cheeks, his face marked by rivulets of age, the wealth of waist, the stubbiness of feet in black boots.
“I’ve got to let these trees go”, said the old man. “My lease on this lot is up at noon and it would be a favor to me if you’d take one off my hands.
Dan, ready to be quoted a ridiculous price, for a man desperate for a tree, queried “how much?”
“Five dollars to you, my friend!”. So the five dollars changed hands, and the stumpy old man helped Dan lash the tree to the roof of Dan’s car, and he was once again bound for home.
While waiting out a red light, Dan’s phone rang. “Hi pop!”, the familiar greeting from oldest daughter, Caitlin. “I wanted to call and wish you Merry Christmas, pop, cause tomorrow we’ll be on our way to Bridgeport, and I don’t know what the cell signals will be along the way”.
“Merry Christmas to you, dear….you off to Sam’s clan for Christmas, huh?”
“Yes, Dad….but don’t forget, next year we’ll be coming out your way for Christmas!”
“Looking forward to it, honey”, Dan said, even as he knew that visit would never come. Sam and Caitlin had been far too busy these past years….far too busy running their family business, the trek his way far too cumbersome to lasso the children and heard them thousands of miles…to a home no longer graced by a mother.
“Did you put up a Christmas tree, Dad?”
“Setting on the roof of my car, as we speak”, answered Dan.
“So late, Dad?…why the dilly-dallying this year?”
“Just too busy with other things”, Dan lied.
“Well, Dad, I have to go….can you hear the yelps of my demon children? They’re hustling me out the door because I promised them I’d taxi them over to the ice skating rink!”
“Can’t keep them waiting…thanks for the call, sweetie!”
“Love you, Dad. Wish you were here or we were there! Bye, Dad! And Merry Christmas!”
A half minute later his phone chimed again.
His screen showed the number of his other daughter, Tess.
“You two choreograph your phone calls?” asked Dan. “Just got off the phone with Cait.”
“Merry Christmas, Dad!”, a giggle accompanying the greeting.
“How’s your Christmas going, Tessie?”
“A lot less hassle than last Christmas, Dad. We put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving, and I did half of my shopping on Amazon, only half of them while fighting crowds in the mall.”
“Wise woman, said Dan. Ham or turkey this year?”
“Going with ham, dad! Wish you were here to have some. And I’m making your favorite…..deep dish apple pie!”
“That alone ought to get me on a plane winging your way, sweetie”.
“So wish you would, Dad. I know you miss Mom, but we have to go on, Dad”.
Swallowing hard, Dan just said “maybe next year, dear.”
“Dad, I have to run, gotta make one last dash to the grocery store. I’ll call you again sometime tomorrow, okay?”
“Merry Christmas, Tessie”
Arriving home, Dan pulled into the driveway, mindful to stop and pull the tree off the roof of his car before continuing into the garage.
Before standing the tree in the corner of the garage, he bent to sniff the fragrant aroma of Christmases past. This tree made up in fragrance what it lacked in height and he decided it was a perfectly fine tree, all in all.
After poking around a bit, Dan found the old Christmas tree stand, carried it into the house, spotted it in the empty corner of living room, then filled the pan with water. That done, he retrieved the tree, inserted it into the center of the stand, then tightened it down with the screw clips.
He then stood back and admired his tree. The scent of pine and rich sap infused the room, boosting his spirits a bit. But, from the back of his mind, again came the puzzling over where he had seen that old Christmas tree vendor before. He thought surely he had met him somewhere before, in an earlier time. 
Dan shook off those thoughts, saying to himself “got to get this tree decorated for tonight…it damn sure won’t decorate itself”.
Again retreating to his Christmas box, Dan lifted the ribbon bound Christmas cards from the box, and set them aside. He then retrieved two sets of Christmas tree lights, each bulb cluster representing a tiny crystal snowflake. Unwinding them, he carefully carried them over and walked around the tree, placing the lights strategically so that all of the branches of the tree would reveal the green branches in illuminated brilliance. 
That task finished, Dan realized that he was tired. He had not even bothered with his first cup of coffee in the morning. He wandered into the kitchen, flicked on the coffee pot, and waited for it to brew. While waiting for his coffee, Dan peered out the kitchen window. The winter frost still covered the ground and there was just enough of a winter breeze to send the branches of elm and fir into gentle dance. Then, just as he turned to fill his cup with coffee, he caught from the corner of his eye, a brief glimpse of cardinal red, moving about the branches of fir tree just outside his window. And when he turned back to look, there in splendid glory there was indeed a cardinal dancing from branch to branch, as if in celebration of the season itself. Then the bird took flight, into the gray blanket of winter sky above.
Dan filled his cup, then retreated to his easy chair for a bit of rest. As he sipped his coffee he looked over at the tree again. Despite the draping of Christmas lights, it still seemed less festive than a Christmas tree deserves. So he finished his coffee, then gently lifted two boxes of Christmas ornaments from the Christmas box. He then carried them over, then lifted each ornament one by one from it’s little paper nest, and lovingly hung them with care…his memories flooding back…of tiny little hands who had performed this task each year, back when time and hearts were young. He missed those Christmases now, more than at any time in his life. And he missed his Liz, more than he thought his heart would bear.
He was again tired. He walked to the kitchen and re-filled his cup, then again retreated to his easy chair. He looked over at those tidy bundles of Christmas cards. He lifted one of the bundles, carefully freed them from their scarlet ribbon bindings, and smiled when he saw that they were all the hand-drawn cards that his daughters had made in school. The stick figures adorning the card fronts, the words of love all drawn in rough crayon, seemed more dear to him now, the drawings and words as soft and comforting as a psalm.
When he had finished with the first bundle, he turned to the second bundle, the top card being the beautiful lithograph of that Christmas train, smoke billowing behind, chugging up the snowy slopes, destination unknown.
When Dan opened the card, he saw that the endearments written within, in Liz’ lovely hand, simply read: “we must not be passengers in life…we must leave that for heaven”. Below her quote, Liz had simply written “Christmas, 2012”.
Dan thought about what Liz had written. Had she too anticipated the reality of her own last Christmas? And what did those words really mean? Could it have been her regrets that, after the children left, we had starved Christmas into extinction?
“Well, dear”, Dan spoke to a love that now dwelled in heaven, with a love in his heart that should surely reach to those heights, “I’ve tried to make this Christmas a good one…just look at that tree, dear….it speaks for what is…and what was…and what shall ever be. See how that beautiful tree is so full at the bottom? That was us, dear, laying the foundation for Christmas for our children so many years ago. And, look higher, Liz. Look at the younger and smaller and tender branches toward the top. Those are our children and their children, celebrating the season from the traditions passed to them by us. And regard that one magnificent point at the top, Liz. That is where we always place the angel, symbolizing all those loved ones now in heaven, but shining down with joy at all who live below them.”
And, from some far off place, Dan could swear he heard Liz whisper “yes, my love, we nearly starved Christmas, but you have brought it back to life, and I love you even more for that, if it’s even possible to love you more than I already do.”
And, with that, Dan was very tired. And he sank back into his chair. And in the stillness of that Christmas Eve, Dan could swear he heard the faint echo of a train whistle, preparing to chug up the snowy slopes, to destinations unknown. 
And when he awakened, he was on that train. And as he opened his eyes, he saw that someone was clasping his hand with a tenderness he had not felt for years. And when he turned to look, he found he was staring into loving eyes that had once said “I do” one spring with that same brilliant reflection of love.
And, after the flurry of hugs and kisses, and the mutual exchange of “Merry Christmases”, Dan sighed and looked down the aisle of that train coach….and standing there, in the middle of the coach aisle, was the stocky, white-bearded old man of recent acquaintance. And the old man stared straight at Dan, then offered a wink of an eye, a thumbs up, and the quiet mouthing of “Merry Christmas”. 
So, Merry Christmas to family and friends. May you never starve Christmas, and may you never forget the magic of the Christmas tree…….oh my!

Friday, December 22, 2017

"A Journey To Bethlehem"


Over on Peoria Avenue, just a mile or so from my home, stands a hospice facility.  I am one of 10,000 who pass that hospice every day.  Most pay no attention as they drive past...they are off to their busy day of work or to the grocery, or to run an errand.

Folks my age notice the place, mainly because we are of an age that strikes a trace of dread.... that we'll end up there soon.  I admit to an effort to avoid noticing the sparsity of cars in the parking lot...the prospect of death being such a "downer" to one's day.

There must be a hundred parking spaces in that hospice parking lot.  On most occasions there are no more than half a dozen cars there...until this past week.  Business has picked up this week.....dozens of cars filing in and out, their passengers ferrying bright red poinsettias or gaily wrapped loved ones preparing for their final journey.

I imagine the loved ones, who've hurried and scurried, balancing work and family concerns, and shopping treks through a crowded Macy's, a raucous Target, a hurried run to the grocery, now taking the time to visit their loved ones lying in a bed in that hospice, their spiritual suitcase already packed for the afterlife.

And maybe the very nature of the tumultuous Christmas season brings brings the young ones here, to this place where the material world is no longer considered relevant, to a place where the dying are toting up the sums of their lives, to see if the good and the bad things they've done will somehow balance out and send them in the afterlife to a better place.

As I drive by, I slow down just a tad, wondering what's in those brightly adorned packages being carried to their dying loved ones.  What does one offer someone who has a month or two to live?  Certainly not a 2016 Puppy Calendar!  Nor a gift card to Nordstroms, nor airplane tickets, nor a Disney World pass for the 4th of July.  I'd like to think the gift is an elegantly simple family album of photos...of treasured family expression of thanks for what the "soon departing" contributed to their lives.


And I also wonder what brings on this foment of more frequent visits to this hospice.  I suspect these visits bring as much comfort to the visitor as it does to the visited.  Perhaps these young and healthy ones need a break from "Door Busters" and "50% Off" and the hustle and bustle of Christmas commercialism.  Perhaps it helps them to realize that the "spiritual" trumps "materialism" in the grand scheme of things.

Or maybe they come, and sit beside the sick bed, and close their eyes, and reflect on the Christmas of their childhood; of Radio Flyers and doll houses and Sears Roebuck catalogues, and hard Christmas candy....of aluminum Christmas trees and Woolworth lunch counters and Lionel train sets.

And in those moments of quiet reflection, maybe the modern world fades away and they journey back to the more simple and peaceful Christmases of long ago, before the hustle and bustle of the modern world swept them into the maelstrom of smart phones and computer chips, to a world where they didn't need a GPS unit to tell them where they were going.

Perhaps they are seeking, in these bedside solitudes, the peace and tranquility of ancient shepherds who regarded an evening star that would lead them to a place of tranquility and a place where cattle lowed and a babe lay in a manger.....a journey to Bethlehem.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017



If you've watched political conventions, or major national ceremonies, you've surely seen those folks who stand to the side and sign for the deaf.   I'm glad that they do that.  Every citizen should have access to what our nation is up to.  Just this morning, with nothing better to do, I quickly flipped through several of the cable news channels.  And of course we all know all news channels are biased.  We even know where their biases lay.  

That quick view of those news broadcasts got me to thinking.  Let's assume that, at some point, America just tunes out all the news sources, totally convinced that whatever they are being told is at least partially bogus and, at worst, filtered and censored according to the source's biases.  Those broadcasts become even more problematic when the so called "analysts" are brought in.  When that happens you immediately go on alert, whether the analysis is skewed toward Republicans or Democrats.  And things have gotten so far out of hand it has now become impossible for civilized debate to take place.

So, again assuming the news channels ever wanted to achieve a level of credibility with the viewing public, what if those newsrooms positioned the political opposition over to the sidelines as analysts posit about the other party, much like those hearing impaired "signers" that you see over on the sidelines.

For example, when Rachel Maddow and one of her liberal guests begin branding Republicans as "oligarchs", unfeeling ogres who persecute the "47 percent", what if if we put Newt Gingrich in a little circle over to the side, and allowed him to emote as his conservative philosophies are assailed.  Let the viewer show ole Newt grimacing and grinning, or poking a middle finger in the air in opposition.
And, conversely, put Pochahantas (you know who I mean) in that little side circle as Sean Hannity is spewing his conservative gruel.  

While this proposal might be a bit weird at first, those sideline signers might at least give the viewer pause to question the lies and savaging of their political opposition.....and let's face it, many of them are lying out their ass.  I at least give Fox News credit for trotting out liberals frequently to offer their two cents.... you rarely see that same sense of fair play with the left-leaning networks.

We might even give those signers an iPad, then allow them to type side-line captions, calling out their opponents in real time.

Failing this sideline signing, I don't see how these so called "journalists" ever hope to be believed ever again.  Just something to think about folks.  I came up with this idea at 3:30 in the morning so, if it sounds a bit bizarre, well, maybe it is.

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Ugly Christmas Gift To You


Proposition: If you believe that I have written sincerely about love and hope and that I have love in my heart...and that I speak to you without bitterness.

And If you believe that I am someone who has studied the business of living and loving for a meaningful amount of time.

And if you believe that I care enough about you and yours to write this.

And if you believe our country is not getting better, but is rapidly descending into a state of chaos,

And if you believe that, despite your own best efforts to affect positive change, things are getting worse, then do the following:

1) Become a "universalist", become a world traveller, toss aside the notion that America will always be the best place to live and hedge your bets. Explore the world, whether from airplane or from your desk, and seek out a "second home", a second nation that you might immigrate to when all hell breaks loose.

2) Teach your children that same sense of universality...many have done so in recent years, and been better off for doing so. Find that second option of home and soften the confines of your thinking...that your children might find a place to live far better than the crumbling civilization of this once great nation.

Were I raising kids today I'd be sending them off to overseas study programs, traveling with them as much as my budget would allow, and I'd be looking for a quarter acre in some promising place, then shedding material goods so that a future move would as easy as possible.
I would be studying the customs and language and laws for my prospective new home country. I would know as much about it before I moved there as I possibly could. I would learn to be flexible, willing to give up a few things "totally American" and embrace some shiny new customs.

So why am I giving this advice?

Folks, I am as emotional as the next person. I am just as prone to react emotionally to these day to day issues that leave your mouth agape as anyone else.

But I am also a historian by nature and study. I am more capable than most to see the larger societal and governmental trends. And I say without reservation that we Americans are in deep horse shit.

I will not bore you with an unending discussion of the problems that will make you and your children's life unbearable very soon in these United States. But allow me to laundry list a few.

1) The $20 trillion dollar national debt. While that number is almost too large to comprehend, we CAN bring the numbers down to numbers we can. We are currently paying hundreds of billions of dollars in interest on that dollars that could have once gone (before this massive debt) to building roads and bridges and state of the art airports and safer air traffic control systems. And we could fund research to cure cancer and fund smart traffic lights and alternative energy solutions. Instead we are servicing our debt. If any of you have ever run up credit card debt, then looked at the interest you are paying for that debt, you might have a small idea of the problem. Except our problem is worse. Our best economists say that, within ten years, we will be spending 24% of all taxes collected, just to service the debt....just paying the interest..not the principle! Heretofore, our government has kept their own interest rates artificially low by pumping "funny money" into the financial system. Sadly, that is a temporary measure that has to stop. It alway has over the hundreds of years of history. Even today, with the Federal Reserve's slight hikes in interest rates, we are paying only 1.5 percent on our government bonds....and still paying hundreds of billions in interest on that massive debt. When (not if) we go back to the historical norm of 6%, you will find that the government cannot pay for all the generous benefits they are now offering via a "national credit card without a spending limit".

Now, given that we cannot continue to pay those many government benefits, what will happen to the 47 percent of America who are currently living off those benefits? While you have few worries about the "Social Security Set" emerging from their wheel chairs and rioting, what do you imagine tens of millions of "free loaders" will do when those benefits (read bribes for votes) can no longer be paid? When low cost student loans can no longer be given out (by the way, our students have now accrued more than $1 trillion dollars in student loans, ready to be defaulted on and create the next loan crisis ala 2008) what will those campus snowflakes do? And if Black urban thugs are rioting now, what will they do when their crack mom's welfare check gets trimmed, or eliminated altogether? What will happen to our national security when we are no longer able to fund the national defense budget? And, with government commanding most of the loan money in this country, how will folks be able to buy a home when annual inflation is rising at 20 percent a year, and home mortgages are 20 percent as well. Think that could never happen? It already has....from 1977 to 1980 when we had a peanut farmer Democrat as President!

Governmentally, what will our government look like when everyone votes for a free spending President and a free spending Congress? Who is going to come along and fund that borrowing? (China, who now owns $2 trillion of our current debt, and Japan and South Korea who own another trillion will not bet on our bonds again!) And, let's face it; politically we are governed by small men. Where giants like Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln once walked the earth, we are governed now by mental midgets, more corrupt as they have ever been....and absolutely cowardly in not passing balanced budgets...just to keep that massive debt at $20 trillion!

What will American society be like when the government can no longer buy "semi-peace" with a government check? In that near future dog eat dog society, expect explosive crime, imploding paychecks and American streets you won't be willing to walk through when the sun goes down.

I'm sorry folks. This is like telling a child there is no Santa Clause. But there really isn't.

So, if you're smart, you'll begin educating your children and grandchildren about relative advantages of living elsewhere. Because, as God is my witness, you sure won't be wanting them to grow up in tomorrow's America.

If there was any hope at all, if the younger generations were showing a tenth of the spunk our grandfathers had, I'd say there's hope. But in an age when they cry for "safe spaces", at a time when one can claim ethnic, financial, or sexual victimhood, and get away with it merely by accusation, I'd say there is little hope for the America that was once a great one.

This is my gift to you. I'm sorry that it is so damned ugly. But someone had to tell you. Start scouring the want ads for places elsewhere....from Australia to New Zealand to Zanzibar....cause America's gonna be a holy mess...and soon.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The "Me Too" Movement; Courage? Or Lynch Mob?


Well, we all know by now that Time Magazine, that tabloid that now serves as the last liberal bastion of the weekly magazine (a fact that sends old Henry Luce spinning in his grave) has named the Me Too Ladies as "Person of the Year".

Having perused some two hundred stories about the specifics of all that sexual harassment, I'm still left wondering if these ladies are real social warriors....or just the 21st Century edition of "lynch mob".  While I certainly abhor the boorish behavior of many of the men accused, I can't help wondering "why now?"....why, after 75 years or more of this sexual behavior, so many women are coming forward with their complaints that range from outright rape to as subtle as being made to feel "uncomfortable".  And wasn't it Ashley Judd herself, who admitted telling Harvey Weinstein that she'd go to bed with him when he got her a role that won her an Oscar nomination?  What does that say about Ashely Judd?

Or how about the gal who is now claiming that, 35 years ago, Dustin Hoffman grabbed her ass?  Was it not offensive then?  Or was it okay then because it furthered her career ambitions?   And if a bout of "grab ass" proved so offensive to her, why is there a photograph of she and Dustin as she's grabbing his crotch?  She says now it was revenge, yet back then she was yucking it up and thought it was funny!

Look, based on the stories we've read, clearly there were men out there who are patterned and habitual sex offenders.  There's no denying that.  Yet, were I to choose the front line warriors for the war against women, it would not be the women appearing on the front of Time Magazine.  

Can anyone remember, just last spring, when liberals in both Hollywood and Washington were snickering at prudish Vice President Mike Pence?  The Vice President has made it a life practice not to ever be alone with a woman, not his wife, without his wife being present, nor will he attend a cocktail party without his wife.  Pence calls having his wife as ally provides a "comfort zone".    Well, like I said, liberals were snickering like crazy about this.  Alas, now, eight months later, ole Mike was not so dumb after all!  

I've written unendingly about the harmful imbalance currently present in our society.  Even as women flocked to 50 Shades of Gray, a hot little book about sadism, even as they swoop up those romance books about bare chested, bodice-ripping pirates, they seek mousy, metrosexual men when it comes to relationships.  They want the men to mow the yard, change the oil in their car, but also change diapers, do the laundry, cook gourmet meals...then shave their pubes and their chests and be submissive in the bedroom.

It's all crazy....from social practices...all the way to the courtroom.  Women want to manipulate relationships that win them favor in the work place, and in the bedroom, and, in the court room, want mere accusation to be sufficient to destroy a man's reputation.

This year's holiday office parties ought to be a riot.  The men will stay on one side of the room, the women on the other.  The men will talk about........what?  Best ways to fold a diaper?  How to fold a fitted sheet?  Recipes for roast chicken?  And the women will be discussing all their "me too" experiences.  If you think this is facetious, just look at the holiday party rules companies are putting out the last few weeks; a two cocktail minimum and more mannerly holiday decorum.  And you can't blame them, really.  Sexual lawsuits are in high fashion.  Simply not worth having to deal with the "Me Toos".

The best advice I could offer men today is "do like Mike"...bring your wife along whenever you're to meet alone with another female, and if you're single, take your mother along on your dates, guys.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Who Knew?


Wow! When you poll ALL climate scientists (not just those on government payrolls around the world) you find that, according to a Gallup survey, 83 percent of them don't believe human activity has a thing to do with it! Who knew?

And again, Wow! When the smartest scientists in the world (those who work along side NASA) take out the volcanic eruptions out of the mix (the natural disasters we can do nothing about), again it looks like we are exactly the same earth temperature we were 23 years ago.

Who knew? (Could it be those government paid global warming folks are trying to keep their jobs?)

Excerpt: The University of Alabama-Huntsville study, conducted by climate scientists John Christy and Richard McNider, shows that not only is the temperature rising far more slowly than predicted, but that the Earth's atmosphere appears to be less sensitive to changing CO2 levels than previously assumed. How do the study's authors know this? They corrected a mistake that many other studies and model forecasts leave uncorrected: First, they used only satellite data, the most comprehensive and accurate temperature numbers available. Then, they took out the temporary, yet significant, impact of both volcanoes and the El Niño and La Niña climate episodes that periodically wreak havoc on weather around the world. Once removing the influence of those naturally occurring events, the study's authors were able to come up with a stable base temperature for the world. Doing this, they found that the rate of global warming currently was 0.096 degrees Celsius per decade — exactly what it was 23 years ago. This casts serious doubts on the dozens of models used in coming up with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's dire forecast of massive global warming based on rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, mainly from human activity. Given that CO2 levels have risen sharply in recent decades but the pace of warming has remained essentially the same suggests that CO2 doesn't have the warming effect that many models assume.