Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On "Black Lives Matter"

A voice that shall remain anonymous wrote on a forum I frequent:

"All lives matter. Not some. Not just the ones we agree with or like... or are. All lives. Young.... old.... Rich.... poor... slave.... free... weak... strong... white.... black... Chinese... Islamic... Republican... Democratic... middle of the road... 

All lives. 

Just because they don't necessarily matter to you... or another "specific group" or "cause" doesn't mean they don't matter to someone else. No one is an island unto themselves... No matter how much they would like to believe that because that's what their ego says. Creating more "causes" will never fix this. The problem is in the heart, not the mind."

To which I replied:

"This thread is meant to address the fact that American society all too often considers people of color, blacks in particular, as worth considerably less than white lives. It does not assert that white lives don't matter."

The poster was likely well motivated, just not seeing the entire picture. I don't see the need to elaborate further. Either the reader gets it, or not. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Audie Murphy

"In 1948, I returned to France at the invitation of French Government. It was still a war-ravaged country ... but this time there was something different. It wasn't the absence of fighting, nor the silence of the big guns, nor the disappearance of uniforms and chow lines ... I didn't know what it was until one morning when I was taken to the grounds of a small French school. The children had been assembled in the play yard. They were grouped close together and arranged in wobbly little rows, their dark heads bobbing around like flower buds on long stems. One of the teachers rapped for silence. The kids quieted immediately and turned their eyes towards her. Their Faces were scrubbed and bright in the sunshine. The teacher raised her arms, and for a moment, there was no sound ... Then the teacher brought her arms down and the kids began to sing ... I Knew why I felt at home. The spirit of freedom was hovering over that play yard as it did all over France at that time. A country was free again. A people had recovered their independence and their children were grateful. They were singing in French, but the melody was freedom and any American could understand that. America, at that moment, never meant more to me ... The true meaning of America, you ask? It's in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman's badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper... In all these things, and many more, you'll find America. In all these things, you'll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me."
------ Audie Murphy

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Kiddie Matinee

When I was just a kid, I did crossing guard duty at my elementary school. The school rewarded me with a movie pass. My Mom spoke with older brother Rusty and it was decided we three oldest children would hike the two or three miles to the theater, to attend the Saturday kiddie matinee, on a continuing basis.  Most of the road we walked was farmland. The side we chose to stay on skirted lush alfalfa  fields. A huge irrigation pipe ran the length of the fields, on the road side. Once, we made the mistake of climbing atop it for a few minutes. Our intent was not destructive, but the farmer could not believe that. He drove up in his pick up and hopped out. He was a small Japanese man, but he was big in esteem and anger. After telling us to stay away from his pipe, he swung a foot at my butt. I dodged and my brothers and I resumed our journey down the road. The farmer drove away. We never saw him after that, but that is only because we never went on his land again.

We always entered the theater about a half hour early. It would be jamb-packed with kids, who were so noisy, management had made a policy of playing Stars and Stripes Forever and other such band pieces, full volume, all the way up until showtime. The cashier gave us buttons, the kind you pin on your clothing, that were printed with likenesses of the popular cowboy actors of the day. I still have John Wayne. One of the buttons was unique and it carried a prize to the one that received it. Popcorn boxes were flattened by some of the ones sitting at the upper floor and sailed across the lower seats. We usually got to buy Sugar Babies, Good and Plenty and Look candy. A minute before the first film began, the lights blinked. Then, the place became dark.

It was there that I first learned of the Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Bowery Boys and such. My favorites were the cowboys. Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry, in particular. We saw Mickey Rooney play Huck Finn and Young Tom Edison. Unexpectedly, King Kong appeared on the screen. The boy in the next seat asked me to save his place; he would be right back. But I think he went straight out the door, as he never returned. I had to watch with my peripheral vision, because I lacked the nerve to look Kong directly in the face. When, later, they played Mighty Joe Young, I was much more sophisticated about it.

They were special times. One Saturday, Rusty lost some of our money. "We can't get in," he said. We went back in a roundabout way that took us into town. Rusty knew about a theater that we could pay for and so we watched a single Edward G. Robinson film, instead of the kiddie matinee. I am writing this piece now, because I just saw the same Robinson film on TV. When first we entered the theater, Robinson, the lawyer, picked up a bottle of poison in court and drank it to prove it was not dangerous. I did not recognize that movie, until he drank the poison. It made me nostalgic for a time when my brothers, who are now deceased, and I shared a few hours of camaraderie in an otherwise uneventful period in our childhood.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Inflatable Wheels, on Wheelbarrows, Wagons, Dollies

My first thought, when I discovered inflatable wheels on dollies, wheelbarrows and such, was, "They have come up with another way to take away my hard earned money." For, solid wheels rarely need any maintenance, except the occasional set of bearings or whatever. In the beginning, air filled wheels are marvelous. Eventually they begin losing air and soon you buy new inner tubes or even a whole wheel. If you know where to look for the right size. They are expensive. My neighbor had a pretty old wheelbarrow that needed repairs. She said it had to have a new wheel. At first, she wanted me to fix it up. Instead, she bought a new wheelbarrow. And gave the old one to me.

She had lost the axle. No problem. A length of 5/8" rebar made a perfect substitute. 

I made two holes in the old tire, near the hub. One was for letting in air. Turned out, that one was unnecessary. But the other hole was for a plastic tube. I inserted the tube about a half inch and then screwed the other end of it to a can of expanding foam. A couple of bursts of foam had the tire as firm as a new one and it will never need to be re inflated. The wheelbarrow will serve me as long as I continue to need one.

 I used the rest of the foam in that can to inflate my dolly's wheels, which had kept going flat in a week's time. Total cost of the repairs: about three dollars.

Tips from John Steinbeck

Saturday, May 21, 2016

At 73

Already, I have lived forty three years longer than my older brother. Seventeen years longer than my mother. Forty years longer than my father. It tells me how precarious is life and I take it as a caution to do it right, what time I have left. I felt relatively young, until age fifty, at which time, my health began heading south. I made drastic changes and began to feel healthy enough after that, but I knew at last I was getting old. I look back at my fifties with envy, now, at 73. I have to keep busy every day, which ends being like running very hard to remain in the same place. 

I attacked my job with the enthusiasm of the young, all the way until retirement, just about one year ago. Coping with learning how to be old did not intervene until after that. Ask any ancient human being how to live a long life and the answers will be as varied as the faces of those who answer. In my case, physical exercise, mental gymnastics, and experimenting with different food and substances (not drugs) have been keeping me going. Lately, my stomach has gotten larger, which tells me I am doing some things wrong. When I mowed the grass today, I felt discomfort caused by my stomach. I was breathing too hard at the end. So I know to adjust my diet and exercise until it gets smaller.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Working on It

Well, the novel is inching along now. I have to reset my energy level to high. By the time I reach the end, it may be time to ramp up for NaNoWriMo again. In the improved version, the characters become more real and I have to adjust my own attitude to them, accordingly, have to become less callous without going for maudlin. My responsibility to them is as to living, breathing, human beings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kristofferson, song writer

I was mesmerized when I listened to Bob Dylan singing Kris's song, THEY KILLED HIM. I listened to it four or five times. Blogspot will not upload a Youtube of it, but you all likely know how to do it on your own. Here is the link.  They Killed Him

There was a man named mahatma ghandi
He would not bow down, he would not fight
He knew the deal was down and dirty
And nothing wrong could make it right away
But he knew his duty, and the price he had to pay
Just another holy man who tried to make a stand
My god, they killed him !

Another man from atlanta, georgia
By the name of martin luther king
He shook the land like rolling thunder
And made the bells of freedom ring today
With a dream of beauty that they could not burn away
Just another holy man who dared to be a friend
My god, they killed him !

The only son of God almighty
The holy one called jesus christ
Healed the lame and fed the hungry
And for his love they took his life away
On the road to glory where the story never ends
Just the holy son of man we'll never understand
My god, they killed him !

Sing about mahatma ghandi
Sing of martin luther king
Sing of jesus christ almighty
And the brothers kennedy

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Iron Man Bicycles and Snarled Traffic

Understand, I have no criticism of the Iron Man organization, itself. But why do they have to snarl the traffic of some of the heavily used thoroughfares, for hours? It makes no difference to me that it was a one day event, or what it was for. Find another route. If nobody complains, this sort of thing could become a frequent happening. I am looking about for a petition to sign against that.

On Saturday morning, we were aware that the bikes would be coming down Kuykendahl and we drove out of the neighborhood to immediately get trapped in the congestion, where you sit for long minutes, until one car is allowed through and then the dozens of cars sit waiting long minutes more. We did this at every intersection, until finally, in the Woodlands, we were able to cut over to Goslin road and get back home. Our simple grocery shopping trip had turned into an awful experience and we ended up home, with no groceries. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Unpopular Notions

I have always been an out of step person, from infancy to now - to infinity and beyond - in virtually all matters. After I left service in the Navy, I became an anti war freak and a civil rights advocate. I was true to the principles, but not really in step with the other protesters. As in other matters. I became attached to a succession of women, most of whom were good marriage prospects, but I always broke it off, knowing I would never be in step with their goals, would not fulfill my part of the bargain. I worked every job less than a year, before leaving, because none of it fit. I recall a time, when I roved the country, by thumb and rail. Work was easy to come by. The Manpower operation was a source of quick money. In one instance, I came into Kansas City, broke. Another transient personality asked me where I was staying. I ended spending a few nights at his place. He told me, one day, that, "I could have a home and job, back where I came from. But I never fit in. I prefer to be alone." My preference was just the opposite to his, but a cure for my missteps seemed nonexistent.

After the Peace Movement collapsed, and most civil rights protests were no more, the world seemed to tighten and be less indulgent to ordinary Americans. Money was not as easy to come by. Nixon's war still raged, and the only movement left seemed to be Veterans Against the War. Kent State, instead of becoming a rallying cry, deflated for all time the counter revolution. Suddenly people were environmentalists, or totally non involved. A family tragedy sent me back to Texas. I was thrown into the rat race I had so long avoided. And finally, at thirty, took the plunge, to become married.

Though I have raised up four children, and I still love my wife and family, the fact of not fitting in stays a reality. I settled into a job that lasted twenty three years. They loved me for my devotion and hard labor and I am in touch, long after retiring. But I was never the best at my job. I overcame deficiencies by working harder than anybody else and by caring enough to see the recipients of my effort were well cared for.

One of my favorite works of literature is Faust, by Goethe, and I suppose I find my life justification in the ending of Part Two. Where Faust dies and God stops Mephistopheles from claiming that tortured soul. Though Faust was wayward in his ways, he never gave up, never ceased to struggle: for this he was saved. As long as I have the mental clarity to struggle, I will do the same. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

If You Think Cuba Was Paradise Before Castro --

Fulgencio Batista

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Batista and the second or maternal family name is Zaldívar.
Fulgencio Batista
Batista25355a crop4.jpg
9th and 12th President of Cuba
In office
10 March 1952 – 1 January 1959
Prime MinisterAndrés Domingo
Jorge García Montes
Andrés Rivero Agüero
Emilio Núñez Portuondo
Gonzalo Güell
Preceded byCarlos Prío Socarrás
Succeeded byAnselmo Alliegro
In office
10 October 1940 – 10 October 1944
Prime MinisterCarlos Saladrigas Zayas
Ramón Zaydín
Anselmo Alliegro
Preceded byFederico Laredo Brú
Succeeded byRamón Grau
Cuban Senator
In office
2 June 1948 – 10 March 1952
ConstituencyLas Villas
Personal details
BornFulgencio Batista y Zaldívar
January 16, 1901
DiedAugust 6, 1973 (aged 72)
Political partyIndependent
Liberal Party of Cuba
United Action Party
Progressive Action Party
Spouse(s)Elisa Godínez Gómez(m. 1926–46); divorced
Marta Fernandez Miranda(m. 1946–73); his death
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Military service
AllegianceCuba Cuba
Years of service1921–1940
Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar (Spanish: [fulˈxensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβar]; January 16, 1901 – August 6, 1973) more commonly known as Fulgencio Batista, was the elected President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and dictator from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the Cuban Revolution.[1]
Batista initially rose to power as part of the 1933 Revolt of the Sergeants that overthrew the authoritarian rule of Gerardo Machado. Batista then appointed himself chief of the armed forces, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the five-member Presidency. He maintained this control through a string of puppet presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a populist platform.[2][3] He then instated the 1940 Constitution of Cuba, considered progressive for its time,[4] and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in the United States, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup that preempted the election.
Back in power, Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans.[5] Batista's increasingly corrupt and repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba's commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with the American mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and with large US-based multinationals who were awarded lucrative contracts.[5][6] To quell the growing discontent amongst the populace—which was subsequently displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations—Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities to carry out wide-scale violence, torture andpublic executions; ultimately killing anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 people.[7][8][9] For several years until 1959, the Batista government received financial, military, and logistical support from the United States.[10]
Catalyzing the resistance to such tactics, for two years (December 1956 – December 1958) Fidel Castro's July 26 Movement and othernationalist rebelling elements led an urban and rural-based guerrilla uprising against Batista's government, which culminated in his eventual defeat by rebels under the command of Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara on New Year's Day 1959. Batista immediately fled the island with an amassed personal fortune to the Dominican Republic, where strongman and previous military ally Rafael Trujillo held power. Batista eventually found political asylum in Oliveira Salazar's Portugal, where he lived until dying of a heart attack on August 6, 1973, near Marbella,Spain.[11]

For the rest of the rundown:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Beautiful Smiles

In lower grade school, I knew a girl with the most beautiful and infectious smile I ever saw. She was not a friend of mine, but I shared classes with her, two years in a row. I was happy just to bask in the glow. Her parents likely were southern imports to the area, as were we nearly all, in our part of Fresno. Her beauty was simplicity and personality. I never saw her she did not seem happy. In later life, I named one of my daughters in her honor.

The only smile I could point to, to rival hers, in my highly subjective view, was a woman who visited relatives at the apartment complex, where I worked. For perhaps five years, she would come and go, sometimes with her husband, often alone. She never failed to say hello, in passing. The times she smiled I saw pure beauty. 

There was no wanting to touch these smiles. I asked nothing but the occasional opportunity to be a witness to them. 

Shortly after I wrote the last post

Shortly after I wrote the last post, I went out back to care for the moringa tree, that hard luck plant I have been babying for a number of years. This past winter, it did really well. Never lost all of the leaves. When it started to flower, I took measures to block the birds from consuming those blossoms. Rough winds caused the bird netting to ruin some blooms. Then, the morning of the tornado, a heavy limb fell on top of the moringa. The netting caught and held it and I think that caused more damage than if the limb had fallen straight through. There are some leaves still on the tree. It will recover. I tried to cut away a portion of netting that hampers the branches somewhat, but the mosquitoes swarmed me so badly that I was wiping them from my face with a windshield wiper-like regularity. Had get back to the house after about two minutes.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Update, following the days of never ending rain

We have been too waterlogged around here to do much more than pick up debris about the yard, until about four days ago. Finally, I got the chance to mow. The mosquitoes were thick as the humidity, when I set out. But they stayed away, once I had the mower belching out whatever one belches. And the front part was relatively easy. In the back, it was substantially overgrown and the lack of attention had allowed some poison ivy to leaf out and become fairly tall in a few spots. The going was tough. I had to break up the work to periods numbering three days. Yesterday was the final go. I had to force the mower through a few spots, killing the engine three times. All finished, I cleaned up and set about less trying tasks, such as going on line. After an hour or two, my sinuses began to drain copiously and the sneezes were rapid fire. I learned, after about an hour, that, by sitting still, the nose blowing and sneezing subsided. To tilt the head, however, was to spill out the sinuses. I reasoned that the mowing brought me in contact with something that I breathed in. Something that triggered an allergy. Each time I left my chair, the sneezing and nose blowing resumed. 

I looked at my nose in a mirror and discovered a big knot, on the side of the fleshy part, that looked like poison ivy. I put some H3O on it and the sinuses took a breather. Next morning, I put on some more H3O. Then I remembered something I read about poison ivy: wash the affected area with soap. I did so, with Dawn. Scrub area after soap is washed away, using a clean wash cloth. I did so. Since then, the knot remains, but the discomfort is gone.

I think I did not think about poison ivy right off, because there was no itching. In fact, without the itching, it is possible I was allergic to something else, or possibly an insect caused it. It is slowly getting well, so, I am through worrying, for now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Donald

  You know, it really seems possible Trump could get elected. Given the manipulations at the polling booths, plus the fact GW Bush got the job, not so far back, I no longer smugly predict his defeat. The people in this nation are fed up, and they will form a movement to topple those they perceive as oppressors. I believe the situation was ripe for a Bernie Sanders to stand up for America, but the Democratic party has seen fit to strong arm in a candidate more on the side of the perceived oppressors. In my view, this puts a Trump victory within reach. 

I don't know how much of Trump's utterances is contrived to catch votes, compared with what he privately believes. He has got to already know, his wall is not going to be built, no matter who wins the election. They can't round up every single illegal and ship them out. It would be far more logistically improbable than many imagine and it would wreak havoc with the economy. But it sounds like a plan, to lots of voters.

And so on with much of what he says. I personally don't know how bad it would get if we had a president Trump. And I really don't want to find out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

DNA Test Kits For Genealogy Study

I never knew I had cousins, on my father's side of the family, until after I bought a first computer. I don't recall the year model of the computer. It used Windows 98. Through it, I learned I had lots of cousins. One filled me in on history I had been separated from, since 1945. This cousin is deep into genealogy, a topic that interests me somewhat, but, not to the extent I would spend money and countless hours at it. So, we exchanged pictures and information, over the years. Now, Family Tree has run a sale of DNA kits.

These DNA kits are all the rage, among serious researchers. Naturally, my cousin has had a kit for himself, and, then, another cousin. But, he needed a third. I was selected to give up my spit. He volunteered to buy the kit, if I use it. That is, of course, the only way I would gain access, his purchasing same.

It arrived today. The instructions, in part, include a release form, and tell how to firmly scrape the inside of each cheek, using separate scrapers and inserting each in its own vial. The sample is to be held by the company for twenty five years.

The release gives persons my email information, if they are a relevant match (all but the dead ones, I assume). I am not 100% happy that strangers will get my information, but how could it hurt me; I who have nothing. I will post an update or two, in time.