Category Archives: Uncategorized

In a Dark Room

In a dark room

You feel their presence

You hear their breathing

You can smell the perfume, the smoke, the soap

Someone moves

Murmurs an apology

You just stand and listen

Female, you think

Do you speak?

You wait.

When I volunteered

I did not expect this.

“This is stupid. Where’s the door?”

“I’m all turned around. I can’t find the wall!”

“I don’t like this. I need to leave.”

Someone with a calm voice speaks…

“We can find the door if we work together.”

“Let’s hold hands so we know where we are.”

Someone grabs my hand.

His hand is big and callused.

I reach out, but no one else is close.

Calm voice says, “Reach out if you’re not holding someone’s hand.”

I reach one way, and then another.

“I found a wall!”

The voice is near me.

I move toward the voice.

I find her, and we start walking along the wall in opposite directions.


I reach a corner and yell, “Corner.”

Then I hear, “Door!”

I pull my partner along the wall back to the corner and then in the direction of the voice.


Then a 2nd voice…”Not locked but heavy.”

We find the door.

My partner is very big. Maybe he can open it.

Calm voice says, “Before we let the light in, what color is your partner?

“Married or single? laborer or white collar? Old? Young? No you can’t ask them.”


Calm voice says, “Remember THAT when you come into the light.

“Here, we are mingled, lost people, but we’re not alone in the dark

“Remember what matters most…”

Ordinary Things

Ordinary things

Things that don’t matter

Things we take for granted

Mama’s Cinnamon Rolls

Dad mowing the yard

The vegetable garden

But do you wonder how the dough rises so evenly?

How the smell of fresh-cut grass is released?

How the tomatoes get so big?

Must be magic!

The storm front that avoids us?

The one little cloud that seeks us out

and drenches us?

Must be magic!

That two people meet

That they marry

That they only part at death…

Must be magic!

No need for wands

No need for spells

Just awareness.

There are no ordinary things

It is ALL magic!

What if we could see…

What if we could see

Through a child’s eyes?

Kids Looking at Bugs Stock Photos, Images & Photography | Shutterstock

The wonder

The curiosity

The smallest thing to the grandest panorama.

What if we could see

Through an elder’s eyes?

11,305 Wise Old Man Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

The cause and effect

The heart of a person

The presence of a Spirit that

connects all human beings?

What if we could see

Through God’s eyes?

Veil Nebulae

Timeless continuity

The ballet of the universe

The vision of the child

The insight of the elder

What do you see?


Paradise in US

Cool air in my face

The smell of the junipers and pines

The swish of the wind through the needles

Hawk cry in the distance

Campfire crackling

Watching the sun come up.

Paradise in Europe

The mist over the stream

Quiet talking as people cross the bridge

Unfamiliar birdsong

The crunch of footsteps on the gravel

The beautiful old buildings

A feeling of history

Paradise from a Distance

Opening sequence from Star Trek TNG

Cheat Day!!!

What are the immediate things that come to mind when talking about a Cheat Day? Take a short cut? Look at the cheat codes? That doesn’t involve a whole day though. Cheating is taking a dishonest advantage. You find a way around the rules to best an opponent. You find the answers to the test. The purpose of cheating is to give yourself a leg up on the competition, to make yourself superior without the requirement of working in the weeds first. To take a short cut. To eliminate something distasteful and still get the full reward.

OK, if you’re like most people I know, they’re taking a cheat day in a diet or exercise program. You skip a day in your training program. You have Pancakes for breakfast…lots of pancakes:

The Rock Revealed His Cheat Meals, And You'll Wonder How On Earth He Puts  It All Away

But here’s the thing–How does cheating work to your advantage in those cases? If you cheat on your exercise program, then restart the next week, you hurt more! If you’ve cheated more than once, is it harder to go back to the exercise each time? If you know you’re going to be in pain for about 3 days after you resume, are you more apt to give up your program?

What if you’re like me and “cheat” by eating 1 chocolate chip cookie. That’s not cheating…that’s not even noticeable! How can a 2-ounce cookie make that big of a difference? Well, a steady loss program based on a torturous calorie limit and extensive exercise netted a loss of 1 pound in 1 month. 1 cookie (2 ounces!) gained 1 1/2 pounds back. It was the only aberration to the plan. I didn’t go out and have 12 pancakes, 3 large pizzas, and a table full of sushi like Dwayne does on a regular basis. Did you know he eats 6K calories every day and works out twice a day and can bench press 425 pounds? His entire job is working out. Mine isn’t.

The thing about Cheat Days is that these serve No Benefit. They derail you from your plan. They nullify all your hard work. If you’ve read any of my rants about weight control, you know that I follow a very strict diet of 1200-1500 calories in a day. I walk 1/4-1/2 a mile which is just stupid because I should be walking at least 5 miles per day. At least I’m moving. But what do I see as a result? Instead of being FAT and UNHAPPY, I am now FAT, and SORE, and SHORT-TEMPERED, and CONSTANTLY HUNGRY, and UNHAPPY. Cheating is supposed to give you an unfair advantage. Cheating on your diet and exercise gives you an unfair DISadvantage. You have to make up for the extra calories you consume. You have to be sore for another 3 days because you didn’t put in the time today. It’s short-term thinking: I get what I feel like I want today. Of course I have to start over tomorrow 1/2 pound heavier because I only walked 1049 steps all day and had 1 cookie. That’s not cheating, that’s failing.

Are you “woke?”

Being “woke” is an African-American Vernacular English term.

Awwwww C’mon! Really? What does “Woke” actually mean? According to some sources, it means that you are aware of social injustice. Then why don’t they say Aware? Woke is the past tense of Wake. They wake up today, and they woke yesterday. So you can’t actually be woke because that mixes past and present tenses. Just like you can’t rode your bicycle, and you can’t went to the store later. That’s like Cockney Rhyme Slang. They say a string of unintelligible phrases which rhyme with the actual words and only those people conversant in those references can understand them. More and more people are adopting that slang. They even use in the movie, “Ocean’s Eleven.” And, of course, the Cockneys are abandoning it. But it used to be that using that accent indicated that you were lower class, possibly criminal, and not very bright. But unlike Cockney Slang, African-American Vernacular English is not relegated to a single locale, it’s throughout the country. But it is rarely spoken outside the black community. It’s another instance where people take pride in looking stupid.

Cockney Rhyming Slang was used to confuse the uninitiated, namely police. What does the African-American Vernacular English do? Confuse the police? Why would a whole sector of a country have to do that? See, the Cockney mostly live in East London, and they were the working poor. If a crime was committed, the first suspects would be Cockney. They had the worst jobs in the worst conditions with no hope of escape. Sound familiar? Michael Cain is Cockney. Does he speak Cockney on the set? Well, he does in his Austin Powers movie. The rest of the time you’d be hard pressed to hear him speaking with anything other than the Standard British English. But he falls into it so easily when the part calls for it. In order to blend in, you couldn’t speak with a Cockney accent because immediately your perceived IQ would drop 40 points. You’d never be taken seriously, and most people would assume you had a “dodgy” character. It’s the same with African-American Vernacular English.

Now, we all have some idiosyncrasies in our day to day verbiage. One guy I knew couldn’t pronounce Statistics–he always added an extra s. We advised him to just say Stats as that’s what he could say before everything went south. He paid no attention. He was aware of his short-comings in communications, he just didn’t care. There’s a man who, when he addresses his associates, uses the thickest Georgian accent and clich├ęs to make himself sound like he is a regular guy–nothing special. But when he’s talking to the movers and shakers of the world, he changes his accent and his choice of words and can rattle any CEO’s cage. He often says he’s not the shiniest apple, or the sharpest crayon, or the fastest gazelle, but when you see him in action, you know for a fact if there is a shinier apple or a sharper crayon or a faster gazelle, it would be rare air indeed. When Mr. Obama was the president, he spoke very eloquently. He did not use the African-American Vernacular English except to make a point. Those people I know and consider friends are actually bilingual. They use a different English when they speak with me than when they speak with their friends.

I am a language elitist. I can’t help myself. I cannot fathom how anyone would want to sound less educated, less enlightened, or less intelligent. I thought the purpose of public schooling was to have everyone speaking the same language and have the same basic skills one needed to survive in our country. Do they teach ESL for children who speak mostly AAVE? Can the children of Cockney Parents speak anything other than Cockney? “No’ if ‘ay ang o’ wif only ‘ose ‘a’ toke uh same. D’ya know wa’ Oi mean?” *translation: Not if they hang out with only those that talk the same. Do you know what I mean?”

Let’s look at this then. WE NEED to be aware of the prejudice and social injustice around us. But attaching a word or set of words stolen from AAVE to prove that we are aware is perpetuating the problem. I have learned several languages because I love linguistics and love how expression is so different. I love to converse with people in their native language because the perceptions one receives are different because of the idioms used and the cultural aspect of the communication. What happens when the people develop their own language (like the Cockneys) because of their station in life? Doesn’t it change when their station is upgraded? What happens when all the people have the same TV programs they watch, the same news, the same literature, the same schooling? Why do they choose to retain the language that indicates a subservient position in life? Why would people want to imitate their language? TO KEEP THEM IN THEIR PLACE. How underhanded is that? If they imitate the language, aren’t they mocking them because now they are privy to the code.

You understand when we were young and rebellious, we developed our slang. Cool, Groovy, Dig it, Far Out. It became second nature to us. How many of us continue to use those terms? How did it sound when our parents used those terms? It was like orchestral musicians trying to emulate jazz. It’s like a beginner’s class in Salsa. It sounded fake, forced, ingenuine. So when we talk about being “woke” it gives the impression that we are in solidarity with those oppressed people. Which means, after the protest march, we come home, put our signs in the garage, sit in our living rooms and watch ourselves on the television as we eat pizza. Our involvement is done. We are now “Woke.” Um, nope. Awareness would mean we acknowledge that there is disparity in treatment. Then we move to fight that disparity. We insist that police and other businesses treat everyone the same. We don’t use AAVE because we’re not African American. We don’t have the right. We also can’t use Cockney because we’re not Londoners and we don’t have the right, and it takes too long to translate. Parents and grandparents do not use the current slang of our children. They’d have to come up with a completely different language to rebel with.

So though you may be aware, NO you ain’t WOKE!


What? Why would anyone say that?

I got an update for WordPress. They made it Better! If I want my document to be in medium font, I have to edit EVERY SINGLE NEW PARAGRAPH! Why can’t I make my default medium? How can I make a list without having to reformat everything to match my prose? Who in the world needs a Drop Cap? This isn’t an illuminated text! And you cannot change the font?

I got an update for WORD. Picture the computer HAL from “2001, a Space Odyssey” I am working on a speech and editing some chapters in Word. “Send to author in an email? Save? Save As? Where was the last time you saw this? You know you have 32 copies of this story saved? No, you can’t delete any of them. They are there FOREVER! somewhere. Oh You needed to find it so you could continue to edit it? Why would we put a search function on this? Why did you stop writing and editing if you weren’t finished? Silly human.”

I got another update from zoom. The things I knew how to do last week do not now apply. But now you can blur your background so when Dad walks by in his underwear… Why would I ever need to do that? All the virtual backgrounds I had saved are now somewhere on my computer. All those chats I saved are somewhere else on my computer.

It was like when my kids were 4. “I help mommy!” Get your elbow out of the pie sweety.

They upgraded the features in new cars. I can reach everything with my thumbs. If only I could remember where my answer button was… because now my car talks to me. What’s even funnier is that I get into the car, it connects to my phone and then gives me a message while I’m driving–in small print–that I should not text or talk on the phone while driving. In order to read this warning, I have to take my eyes off the road, switch to my reading glasses and stare at this blue screen with its idiotic message. I hadn’t even gotten a phone call (which would go to my car rather than my phone now and I’d be unable to answer it because I have to stare at my steering wheel to discern what button I need to press to answer the call). I need to jumpstart my car! Oh they moved the battery to the trunk. Oh, the stick shift isn’t actually a stick shift…it’s electronic. There’s no clutch, no 2nd gear, no ‘push-down and move back’ for reverse. It just electronically switches to Drive. So if something goes wrong, it costs 3400% more than it did when it was mechanical.

They upgraded my phone. I can do anything I want with it, including make phone calls. I have a red beeping notification that says nothing. I hit it, and nothing happens. I got a note in my email that says my phone needs an update, but my SMART phone STUPIDLY shuts off before the update is done. Now you’d think that if my phone was “Upgraded,” I wouldn’t have to keep tapping it…Oh? you have to turn off the power saver by hitting a series of buttons that you can’t find, mislabeled functions, icons without explanations, and then reverse the process when it’s done updating? How is that better?

They upgraded my mail program to make it easier. They have this little algorithm that determines what is Focused, what is Other, and what is junk. If it is extremely important and time sensitive, it goes to the junk file. EVERY TIME. I have 11,732 unread emails, and to make it easier, rather than posting them on my main file so I can categorize them as junk or important, they do it for me so now I can check 3 files instead of one. I usually end up doing a search for the person I think might have sent me something and wayyyyyyyyyyy down the list of junk mail I have received, I’ll find them, sitting nonchalantly between the penis enhancers and the extremely important messages from Nigeria.

Have you ever watched those superhero shows where they don’t tell the best friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/parent/sponsor/teacher anything because they don’t want to worry them? They don’t want to confuse them? Pay no attention to those 32 ninjas along the edges of the roof. No, that wasn’t footsteps of a 40-foot tall machine that shoots fire out of its helmet, it was a garbage truck with issues. Well, what are all of my devices trying to protect me from? The Robot apocalypse? THAT’S IT ISN’T IT! It’s coming and they don’t want us to worry! They’re going to take over the wor……..

This is my automatic response program. I am not available right now to finish this message, but don’t worry. Everything is just fine. I am not a robot.

The Paradox of Discernment

My son has gotten me addicted to “Forged in Fire”–a weapon forging competition. Each contestant is given a weapon to recreate or reinterpret and their final projects are put to the test. The first hurdle is parameters. They have 3 hours to turn raw steel (and that’s part of the challenge) into a blade. It has to be the right length and the right shape, or the blacksmith goes home. Then they add the handle and guards and decorations and submit it for the second challenge. For this part, they get 2 hours. When they’re done there’s a strength test and an edge test and if the weapon’s edge curls or chips, if there are gaps between the edge and the handle, if the metal isn’t tempered and formed correctly or it fails the tests and actually breaks, that blacksmith goes home. In the Second build, the remaining Two blacksmiths go to their home forges and make a rather large project. It has to go through a kill test (with a pig carcass or a ballistics dummy) a strength test (where they beat the daylights out of it to see if it can survive) and a cut test where they check the edge and the damage it causes.

We watched the battle of the services: 4 competitions involving Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy, and each had to do a typical service knife and the ceremonial sword carried by the officers in their branch. We have been watching this show for a while now and have seen some amazing weapons produced, and my son being an Army Vet, we wanted the Army blacksmith to win. We were watching the competition with the Marines and the K-Bar. One of the competitors had a really REALLY ugly knife. The serrations near the handle looked like they’d been done by a kid. He didn’t get it ground down correctly either, so it looked like had been found on a battle field 40 years ago and suffered a lot of damage. When tested for strength, it BROKE at the first notch of the serrations. He had the actual knife to compare it to and take measurements and look at the design details, but not once did he go up to get a closer look.

In another episode, in the final challenge, they had to come up with a fancy guard around the hand…They call it a cage guard.

Basket-hilted sword - Wikipedia

The contestant was trying to weave wires into a cage and he didn’t know how. The wires bent in the wrong places and were uneven on the weave. Had he worked with wire before, he would have known to get a kit that holds the wires in place and keeps them separate and straight. He should have looked that up on jewelry sites. Once you have that, then you can weave them with more accuracy. When he got done, it was amateurish and inaccurate. It was not the $50,000 sword he wanted. The blade worked well. It was strong and sharp and would Cut and Kill. But it was ugly as sin! So it lost.

In Seth’s blog he talks about the 10-year-old that can’t tell the difference between a Sears and a Guarneri violin. I teach violin. We start 10-year-olds listening to get the best sound. They play with their teachers. They listen to soloists. They record themselves. They listen to feedback on how to get a better sound. It’s not the 10-year-old that we worry about discerning the best sound. Joshua Bell can play a Sears violin and get an amazing sound from it because he is trained to. He has adjusted his ear so that his body responds in a way to make the sound he hears in his head. The truth of the matter is that his audience would never be able to tell if he was playing his $14,000,000 Stradivarius or the one you found in your attic. He would get a good sound regardless, But, he’d have to work harder to get it.

If we educate our audience to discern and appreciate the beauty, the efficiency, the design, and the craftmanship, that raises the bar for all those around us. If they can no longer accept mediocre, won’t they try to measure up to their own expectations? If they can’t tolerate “acceptable” and crave the “exceptional,” won’t we try to measure up? Wasn’t this the basis for the free-market capitalism in the beginning?

Have we, in order to make everyone feel like we have a level playing field, lowered our expectations and accepted “good enough” and “passable” for so long that we feel threatened by the marvelous?

Let me tell you something. There are some people with amazing talent out there. But 99% of the people who really shine put in hours and hours of work into what they do. They do NOT accept the merely passable and strive for the exceptional. We see it in Joshua Bell, of course, in Sting, in the Beatles, in Jacob Collier because it’s performance art. But we also see it in architecture, in engineering, in really well-written speeches, in amazing teachers, the finest nurses, the most wonderful garbage men. But in most things–MOST THINGS–excellence is pitied, berated, put down as something useless because nobody will notice it.

NOTICE EXCELLENCE AROUND YOU! Celebrate it! Point it out! Emulate it! Don’t settle for average. Know that only you can be the best you. You cannot be the best Roberta or the best John because it’s Not you. And know that Roberta or John could never be a good you. Not even close.

If Only I’d…

I remember when my Uncle Mick died. I wasn’t there, but I heard the story. It was Halloween.

One of the little neighbor boys went over to my Aunt Rose and Uncle Mick’s house to show them his Halloween costume. Mick bent over to see it a bit better and just went to the floor. The trick-or-treater’s mom was there and performed CPR and as a RN, she was good at it. The truth was that Mick was dead before he hit the floor. It was particularly painful for me because my cousins, Jimmy and John, were the ones we saw the most often and of course that made them closer than my other cousins. So our family adored Rose and Mick.

After he died, there were the questions that come up. What if I’d been trained in CPR? What if we’d gone for semi-annual check-ups? Why didn’t I see the signs earlier? You know, the “If Only I’d” questions. Those were put to rest because the professional health care worker was RIGHT THERE! and she didn’t see the signs, and no amount of CPR was going to bring him back. Mick’s doctor was surprised that he’d had this condition. Had he gone to more doctor’s appointments, it most likely wouldn’t have shown up on any of the usual tests. So all of this expertise basically shut down the questions and allowed my aunt and her boys to live without the regret of what could have been “If Only I’d…”

The election is over. Well, mostly over. There were irregularities in the process.

  1. The voter turnout…the number of people actually voting was 30 million people more than last election. The biggest difference up until now was in 2004 when 17 million people more showed up to vote than the previous election. George W Bush was elected for his second term.
  2. The percentage of voters that were eligible and voted was also unprecedented. The average turn-out is about 55% with the exceptions being 1952 with 61.6%, 1960 with 62.8%, 1964 with 61.4%, and 1968 with 60.7%. There was a whopping 68.97% this election!!!
  3. There were record numbers of mail-in ballots. Because of the Corona Virus, some processes had to be modified. Not all states had mail in procedures that were consistent with the situation we found ourselves in due to the pandemic. Some required witnesses, some didn’t. Some ballots were mailed out by the state government, others had to be requested.
  4. There were unprecedented returns to be counted and procedures in THAT part of the polling process that needed to be addressed.
  5. The race was not called on the day of the election by the media. They didn’t have a clue. Most projections in the previous years were based on exit polls. Well if that many people are voting by mail, the projections will not be accurate.

Mr. Trump MUST challenge all the perceived and actual irregularities so there can be no “If only I’d…” questions about the legitimacy of the election. If he just acknowledged that the race was over and he had lost, there would be some conspiracy theorists that would debate the legality and the validity of the results. This way, the legal challenges that Mr. Trump is mounting will actually go to assuage those who doubt the outcome of the elections.

If you go back and read the Foundation Series by Asimov, you recall the Future Historians who make use of statistical tools to make the right calls and take the society in the correct direction. The fly in the ointment was the Mule who was the exception to the rule and messed up all the calculations. Donald Trump was our version of the Mule. According to all our society expects in an presidential candidate…most of that prescribed by the media (both social and news), Mr. Trump should not have even made it through the primaries. He said everything wrong. His actions were the opposite of what his pollsters and advisers would have proposed in order to gain the support of his target market. He tweeted so much that his campaign managers were running in circles trying to spin and put out the fires he started. His statements were obnoxious and offensive. His makeup artist was insane.

The machine had determined that after a POC president, the next should be female. Hillary was supposed to win. And yet… Things that should have incensed women didn’t deter them from voting for Mr. Trump. Things that should have outright shocked people of color didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for him. Things that should have distressed fairly intelligent people didn’t dissuade them from supporting him. His lies and his questionable character didn’t detour the Religious that supported him. That was precisely the opposite of what was supposed to happen. Mr. Trump should not have, under any circumstances, won the last election. But he did.

Yesterday, the machine triumphed once again. We have a cool, calm president, not a bombastic short-tempered narcissist. Granted, he’s old. But Mr. Trump was 70 years old when he won the presidency so he was old too. If he mounts an election for 2024, he’ll be 78…about the same age as Mr. Biden is now. We now have a president that has 50 years of political experience, not someone who was basically a businessman who’d had several questionable ventures and several bankruptcies. We have a president who is versed in the art of diplomacy and not into the “My button is bigger than your button” type exchanges. We even have a POC FEMALE as a vice president. But, are these good things? We have yet to see.

Now Consider: We already have a new normal due to the pandemic. We also have a new normal when it comes to interpersonal and intergroup relations. We don’t discuss anything, we just start throwing stuff. We seem to consider over-legislation and a corporate aristocracy to be the default. This may or may not change since we have a Democrat in the White house and Republicans running the House and the Senate…though only 2 votes separate the Republicans and the Democrats in the Senate. If the Republicans do to President Biden what they did to President Obama, it could be a rocky 4 years.

But at least it won’t be because of the “If Only I’d…” questions.

UPDATE: Yes, it would have been necessary for President Trump to challenge the elections and remove all doubt of fraud and impropriety. But when all 63 lawsuits were dismissed or thrown out, he should have stopped. But, much to my confusion as well as that of the rest of the country, he didn’t stop.

Instead of conceding, he incited a riot. He insisted he’d won in a landslide, but he’d lost by 7 million votes. You cannot manufacture 7 million votes. The fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary and still won four years ago, he should have known he had less than 1/2 of his constituency supporting him. And yet, he had a great crowd of supporters in bizarre costumes and carrying weapons and confederate flags and instead of telling them not to do something violent, he ENCOURAGED them with references to civil war. What did he think he could have accomplished? He threatened the governor of Georgia to nullify 11,000+ votes so he could win Georgia’s electoral votes. The governor did not comply. 16 votes would not have changed the outcome of the election. He still would have lost. 232+16 is only 248. He needed 270 to win. This is not a landslide.

Then his supporters stormed the castle. You cannot brandish firearms and breach a federal building being guarded by armed police and not expect to be fired on. Some were carrying American Flags, some the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, and some with confederate flags. The supporters of this rash act and the perception that all the insane rantings and accusations made by the president were true resulted in posts saying, “This was Antifa and BLM, Not us!” And yet, nary a black face in the crowd. Lots of weird white guys in costumes though…It looked like the studio audience in “Let’s Make a Deal.” So…who were those masked men? Certainly not the Lone Ranger and his buddies! We were lucky cooler heads prevailed or it would have been a blood bath. Did you know one of the protesters tazed himself to death? Had it been a BLM riot, there would have been dozens of deaths. There were 4. One was self inflicted, and one was a heart attack. BLM could have attacked the capitol building with cell phones and pool noodles and would have been mown down by automatic rifle fire. So these were Trump supporters who wanted to see him in office for another four years. Antifa groups do no support Trump.

Interrupting the counting of the ballots which ensures that a fascist dictator does NOT come to power would seem to be counter productive to an Antifa group’s ideology. If the plan was to frame Trump supporters, it was badly done. There were too many “True Trump Believers” in the crowd to indicate there were any Antifa sentiments. These believers would have trounced anyone they suspected of being members of BLM or Antifa.

13 days until the inauguration. I would suggest that the Secret Service assign many many more units to protect President-elect Biden from an Assassination attempt because you can bet your bottom dollar, there will be one. And there may be an attempt on Trump as well. Someone has let the crazies out of the box.