Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ten Thoughts on Parkland, Florida

  1. Grieving parents and students can say whatever they want to say. There are no rules.
  2. This country has a Constitution that allows gun ownership.
  3. We citizens can change the Constitution, but it's a long and complicated process.
  4. Gun control laws do exist. They need to be strengthened, expanded, and strictly enforced. 
  5. In the meantime, every school should have an armed guard on duty, all day long.
  6. The guard could be a retired military member or police officer, or a newly created and trained security position. The extra taxes are worth it.
  7. Also, arming qualified and trained teachers with guns makes sense.
  8. If there's a concern about mental health or violent tendencies, it should be reported--no matter what race, creed, or nationality is involved. Political correctness has no place here.
  9. To ensure better success of "see something, say something," there should be no penalty attached to a report that proves unfounded.
  10. Any FBI employee who had any knowledge of and authority to act upon the specific complaints called in prior to the Parkland massacre, but who did not act, should be fired. Immediately.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Winter's Dawn
Upon reaching my stage of life, one grows philosophical about the fact that time is very limited. There is a sense of gratitude for continuing good health, gainful employment, and the blessings of friends and family. A certain serenity settles in, keeping one centered in the now and welcoming of whatever days remain. At least, that has been my own comfortable path into maturity.

Then suddenly, I've learned that a long-ago friend has died and I've been plunged into a roiling sea of emotional memories. Events and occasions that haven’t crossed my mind in years, perhaps decades, have come crashing in powerful waves as I remember happy times long past.

Steve Kasold was a college classmate. During our senior year, Steve and Pete carpooled for a semester of student teaching, and our school friendship took firm root. Pete and I were already married; Steve was dating his future wife, Lorraine. Our social get-togethers began in my tiny, off-campus apartment in rural Pennsylvania. The year after graduation, Pete and I danced at Steve and Lorraine’s wedding. We visited each other’s homes often in New York, where we had all returned after college to begin our fledgling adult lives.

A few years later, Pete and I moved to California, and Steve and Lorraine moved to various states throughout the years. We kept in touch through letters, cards, (Steve wrote me a beautiful note after Pete died), and a couple of rare reunions on the East or West coast. Over the decades, the recollections of our good times together shifted quietly to the background of my mind; but they were not forgotten. My current tsunami of memories are as clear and vivid as though they had happened yesterday instead of more than forty years ago.

I'm remembering afternoons and evenings of cold beer and warm conversation, limitless laughter and shared jokes, thoughtful discussions and teasing banter. I recall support and encouragement, kindness and generosity, helpfulness and concern—all the stuff of true friendship, those precious qualities that endure beyond and outside of time.

Like the early winds of winter, the season of goodbyes has enfolded me with cold reality. None of us knows the future; I may be the next in our circle to follow Steve. But if I’m blessed with a long life, I know I will need to withstand more chilling gusts of sorrow as cherished friends pass on. I trust that, as Steve did, they will leave behind the bright glow of joyful memories, those warm remembrances that will help to melt even the most bitter snows of sadness.

Monday, February 05, 2018

A Story in Stone

My lands are where my dead lie buried. 

~ Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota chief

Let's take a break, shall we, from the frantic, partisan hyperventilation of Washington DC politicians and their media minions. There's so much else to see, do, enjoy, and experience in our country. Take, for example, Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

I was there once, as a young woman, and it made an impression upon me as deep and permanent as the rock carvings that have now revealed the great chief's face in the mountainside. The sculpture is a monumental undertaking, begun in 1948 and continuing today until who knows when.

In 1977, there wasn't too much to see.
Nearly eighty years ago, Chief Henry Standing Bear, of Crazy Horse's Oglala Lakota tribe, commissioned Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too," Standing Bear informed Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore. Although the federal government offered grant money, Standing Bear chose not to accept any funds from the U.S.A. To this day, the memorial is non-profit and receives no state or federal funding.

Of course, this wouldn't be modern day America without controversy. Although the project was started at the specific request of an Oglala Lakota chief, ironically enough many Native American organizations today vigorously oppose the memorial, claiming it is a "pollution" upon the land. To me, these protests fall into the category of "no good deed goes unpunished."

I can remember the chills I felt from head to toe as I looked at the gleaming white model, then  beyond to the rough-hewn edges of the massive rocky peak towering above. The crews were working on that long-ago day, and the muffled thunder of explosions echoed down the mountainside. I thought of Michelangelo, who could look at a chunk of marble and visualize the figure within, awaiting the artist's hand to set it free. I also remember hoping that I would live to see the memorial finished, in all its majestic power.

If and when it is completed, Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest sculpture in the world. It will take decades more to finish; I won't live to see it completed. Even so, I would like to see it one more time. I want to stand again, encircled by the pure splendor of the Black Hills, in the shadow of the mountain that honors a great Native American leader as his image bursts proudly through the rock.

By 2017, Crazy Horse's face had emerged from the mountain.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"12 Strong" ~ The Story of The Horse Soldiers

From "12 Strong" ~ now playing in theatres
There's a movie out as of yesterday, "12 Strong," that depicts the story of the horse soldiers in Afghanistan following September 11, 2001. I wrote a post about these heroes in December 2011, and I'm definitely planning to see the film.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does,
I love being ahead of the wave. Thank you to all our military service men and women, past and present.

Statue honoring the Horse Soldiers - NYC

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

FULL: White House Press Briefing on President Trump Health Exam by Dr. R...

The White House media characters are unintentionally hilarious.

For almost one solid hour, they posed one repetitive, boring, tasteless question after another to the president's physician, the gist of each one being "Is he going to die soon?" The White House press corps is obviously unable and totally unwilling to accept the doctor's repeated pronouncement that President Donald Trump is "in excellent health." This unwelcome conclusion is the very essence of "bad news" for the left wing media. They seemed to really come unglued at the doctor's suggestion that the president is healthy enough to serve two terms.

Dr. Jackson was instructed by the president to answer any and all inquiries regarding his health. There were constant questions on whether or not President Trump suffers health issues from dementia, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, mental problems, and/or (my personal favorite) drug addiction. There was one particularly ridiculous question about his life expectancy (back to "is he going to die soon?"). I don't know how Dr. Jackson had the patience and good nature to entertain so many continuously stupid questions, but he did so very competently and with good grace. The press just wouldn't take "YES" for an answer to the question of President Trump's excellent health.

I watched all of the tedious, inadvertently funny press conference. It could have been ten minutes in length if all the repetition had been removed. It is highly amusing in a pathetic way that the reporters were desperate to find a "health loophole" that could take Trump out of the presidency. At the risk of being repetitive, I'll say it again--the press just wouldn't take "YES" for an answer to the question of President Trump's excellent health.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ten Random New Year Observations

1.  Influenza:
It's a very bad bug this year. Hospital beds and emergency rooms are overflowing, Tamiflu is scarce, and this year's highly promoted flu shot is about ten percent effective. Evidently we don't have everything figured out quite yet.

2.  Weather:
The "bomb cyclone" seems to have replaced the "polar vortex" as the meteorological catastrophe of the millennium. When I was a kid, we called it "a blizzard."

3.  Sports:
Now that no one in San Diego cares about the Chargers anymore, they are having a decent season. Unfortunately, no one in Los Angeles seems to care, either.

4.  Movies:
For the first time since I was thirteen years old, I'm going to skip the Academy Awards telecast. At the moment, I just can't take these people seriously.

5.  Television:
I'm hooked on Netflix's "The Crown;" "The Walking Dead" is getting far too silly; and after all this time I still love "Blue Bloods" and "NCIS."

6.  Books:
I"m reading about half a dozen of them right now. That's what happens when you own a Kindle, receive Book Bub email notices, and still long to hold hard copy books.

7.  Stock Market:
It's way up. That fact makes me happy and nervous simultaneously.

8.  Travel:
I remember when flying was considered a glamorous, enviable activity, a leisurely stretch of time to be pampered and waited upon. Today flying feels as special as being loaded into a standing cattle box car and feels about as comfortable.

9.  Politics:
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I don't know when about half of America stopped understanding that fact of life, but the past year has established that the losers don't get it.

10.  Life:
In the words of the great poet Robert Frost, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Thought for Christmas

~ Merry Christmas to All ~

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Politically Weary

I think it's safe to surmise that most average Americans are tired of our ceaseless national political drama. I, for one, am weary unto death of it.

Has routine, day-to-day American life changed all that drastically since Election Day 2016? No, of course not. But according to innumerable commentators, broadcasters, journalists, and media figures, we as a nation are teetering on the brink of Armageddon. And it's all because of President Trump, who is alternately unfit for office, mentally unstable, or evil incarnate.

Good grief. I'm no huge fan of the man, but let's not get crazy. He hasn't killed anyone. If one views his record objectively, it's obvious that President Trump has achieved some real progress against our many problems, as noted in this Deroy Murdock article outlining the president's numerous accomplishments to date. Among them are the fact that the stock market is up and unemployment is down--but you'll never hear that from the evening newscasters.

The president is unconventional, unmanageable, blunt, sometimes childish and petty, often offensive and abrasive, and occasionally quite amusing. It's not business as usual in the White House this term, and it won't be for quite some time. "You may say I'm a dreamer," but I wish more people could see the glass half full. Since they can't--or, more accurately, they absolutely refuse to--I'll continue to skip the political drama romping across our flat screens in a continuous do-loop. The Trump naysayers have got me worn down to the marrow.