A tale of two sisters: Spain, Topless, Dallas, & Virginia . . .
The following e-mail was sent by my youngest daughter on her return to Dallas from Spain and other European countries to one of her sisters, the one that works, creates, lives and loves in Virginia. The names LuLu and WapWap are nicknames—their real names are not used in order to protect the guilty.
The author of this e-mail claims that she doesn’t blog because she doesn’t feel that she writes well. She and I are in complete disagreement concerning her feelings about her writing—I believe she has a tremendous potential to inform and entertain virtually any audience with her amusing musings. I made no changes to her e-mail, so I’ll let my readers review and vote on her writing.
To: LuLu Sent: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 11:01 am Subject: Re: Welcome back from Spain!
Hey, LuLu – I figured that you could use the shawl for decorating or something. I really didn’t picture you wearing it all that much, but who knows? I’m glad mom seems to be feeling better. Last time I was there which was the weekend before I went to Spain she just seemed so frail and tired and I knew she was. And that was before they put the device in her arm. So, I’m glad she seems to be better – she sounds better when I talk to her on the phone.
I’ll call you later to talk about Spain. We had a really nice trip and got to see a lot. Went to Barcelona and visited a winery about 2 hrs outside of the city so we got to see the countryside and its miles and miles of olive trees, Sevilla (loved that place), Madrid and Toledo where we saw a 600 year Catholic church that was incredible.
Loved the architecture in Barcelona (Gaudi’s cathedral, Segrada Familia?). Visited the beach, saw topless from newborn to 90. Quite a different world out there. Definitely no body issues in that country.We could probably take a lesson on that (with top on, of course). Walked a lot, a whole lot -Barcelona is a busy place. About 5 million in the city and 2 million outside of the city. Not a small town by any means.
Sevilla (much quieter, felt really comfortable walking around the town by myself, which I did). Could have stayed there the rest of the trip. The area we were in was very clean, quaint with all those tiny cobblestone streets leading to little restaurants and shopping.
Madrid – another busy city. Very cosmopolitan in many areas, lots of graffiti everywhere which is common throughout Spain. I guess they think it is art, I don’t know. Went to the Prado and some other modern museum where we saw tons of Picassos and Dali (is he a strange one or what?). Went to an authentic Flamenco show which was pretty intense. Just 2 people (man and woman) with a few guys playing instruments and singing behind them. Whatever they were dancing to they really meant it. I really enjoyed that.
Mom said that you and Michael worked really hard on the front yard and that it looked beautiful. I’m sure she really appreciates that. Every time I went down there she would say that they needed to do something about it and now you have. So, that is a good thing.
Brandon is in baseball camp this week. He also had an all-stars game last night. He plays 1st base and did a terrific job all last year in that position (thus making All-Stars). However, for some reason, guess because he is tired, he could have been on the moon looking down at us because he truly was the only player out there that was paying no attention to the game.
You don’t want to come down too hard on him but the other kids are kind of depending on him to catch the ball. 1st base is a pretty critical position even in minor, minor, minor, minor league baseball. He would just watch it whiz by him and throw out his hand as an afterthought.
As a parent you don’t want to be embarrassed but I actually started to feel that way. Probably the same as mom would feel when I would drop the baton a lot or get my batons tangled up with one another at a competition while doing a simple salute. Not a proud parent moment.
I’ll talk to you later. I was actually weeding the front yard this morning. The weeds are so huge they look like a free form garden at this point. Gracie tried to help me pull them but didn’t have the strength. I try to like gardening and I can see how it is stress relieving but I just feel like there are lots of tiny eyes looking up at me as I disturb their carefully planned homes. Plus I’m afraid a spider is going to bite me, or a snake.We do have those around here sometimes. Anyway, what I’m trying to tell you is that I haven’t developed a love of gardening at this point. I’m working on it though, but very slowly. Have a good day.
This is the Virginian’s reply to her sister’s e-mail:
Hey, WapWap! Hope you got some great photos to share with us! FYI: Mom is looking (and feeling) really good. She’s got some pep back in her and her appetite is definitely up. Dad was irritating her the other day (you know how he likes to repeat things over and over until you want to deck him?), and to answer some crazy question he asked her, she finally said, “Shit, no!” It was so funny to hear her say that. Cracked him up, too. I guess he had picked at her long enough (you know how she always says he likes to just talk to hear himself!).
We had a great visit and got the flower beds up front looking good again (filled in the areas where they had pulled out all the hedges/shrubs). I’ll send photos once I pull them off the card.
First poem (author and source unknown—title is mine):
Ode to a kitty and its dish
Oh, little cat up on the table In a dish that’s much too small Have you always felt the need To curl up in the place you feed? Don’t you know that germs abound In vessels much too small and round? They never even make a sound.
A kitten’s plaint—its wish and its vision
(Title and lines in italics are mine)
There once was a kitty That was fed in a dish, And when it was fed It would then make a wish, That at least for one time,
For food that would be
Other than fish.
Fish always has a horrible smell
As any other kitty will tell,
And I wish that sometimes
During my many lives,
That a slice of roast beef
In my dish would arrive.
Its flavor for me would be as I ate,
A harbinger of pleasures inside the Gate,
My kittenish vision of life in Heaven
After I’ve used up my lives of seven.
I am well aware that cats have nine lives, but while nine would not have rhymed with Heaven, seven fit nicely. One need only to suppose that the kitty had already used up two of its nine lives.
I found the first five lines of the second poem in my moldy horde of unfinished projects. I researched the five lines on the Internet but had no success, nothing even close. The lines obviously migrated—legally of course—to my collection of things started, unfinished and forgotten. If I did not create those lines, then I offer my abject apologies to the author, and sincerely hope that my finishing lines will be considered at least halfway worthy. And if I did create the first five lines of the second poem, then kudos to me.
Okay, okay—I know, I know! My efforts at poetry are amateur, puerile even but at least I’m making an effort so don’t knock it if you ain’t tried it!
That’s my poem and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: The second poem—my poem—is dedicated to a friend, a lovely cat lover named Emily. I don’t mean that she only loves lovely cats—Emily is lovely, and her love for cats shines through. She has never seen a cat she didn’t love nor a cat that didn’t need loving, nor will she ever see a cat that doesn’t need loving.
I recently spent some time online seeking information for the proper way to dispose of an American flag, for whatever reason—tattered, torn, soiled, etc. At the risk of being called un-American, I will say without reservation that the information given ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime. The most acceptable method of destroying an American flag that is not longer serviceable is by burning, but first its composition must be determined.
Is it cloth? If cloth, it may be burned but under tightly controlled supervision, with close attention paid to local burning restrictions and most important, the flag must be completely consumed by fire, with none of the fragments allowed to float away on prevailing winds.
Is it plastic? If it is made of plastic, burning may well release chemicals that will pollute the air and pose a danger to humans and animals, so clearance must be obtained from our nation’s Environmental Protection Agency—good luck with that!
In lieu of burning, a flag may be buried but it must be buried in a non-degradable container to ensure that it will never again see the light of day nor be exposed to the elements of nature, and the drivel goes on and on—click here to read the do’s and don’ts as promulgated by the United States Flag Code.
A flag is a flag is a flag, etc., or as William Shakespeare might say, “That which we call a flag, regardless of its composition, whether constructed of plastic, silk, nylon, 1200-thread-count Egyptian cotton or a combination of all the above, would have streamed just as gallantly o’er the ramparts we watched as did the original that was flown over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1914 in the War of 1912 and is now displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.”
Yep, I believe that’s what the bard might say. Any item, regardless of its composition, that features the proper colors and the requisite numbers of “broad stripes and bright stars,” all arranged in the manner of those of the real flag—the one periodically displayed at the Smithsonian—is a representation of that flag and therefore warrants the same attention to usage and storage and final disposition.
Each year without fail, a local realtor places a small American flag on a stick in the front yard of every home in my neighborhood—the flags number in the hundreds at least, and perhaps in the thousands, and I’m reasonably sure that the process is repeated in other neighborhoods all across our nation. The flags are not marked with the country of origin, but I’ll bet a half-barrel of pickled a-holes that they’re made in China. The staff is some sort of white wood, and the material is some kind of fabric, either a natural fabric or synthetic material—who knows which?
Our flag code requires flags to be of certain proportions, regardless of their intended use, whether flying over the White House or sticking in my front lawn. Overall size is a matter of choice, but the star field, the stripe widths, the size of the stars relative to the overall size, etc., are specified by the Code and any lop-sided construction of the flag, regardless of size, is a violation of the US Flag Code, and any disposition other than specified in the Code is a violation.
I haven’t measured the specifics of the flags that proliferate in our neighborhood each year on Flag Day, beautifying or polluting, take your pick. Given the ability and the proclivity of the Chinese to excel in mathematics, I suspect that they are right on the money—so to speak—in the dimensions of the untold tons of flags they ship to the United States each year.
Are you, dear reader, beginning to see what I mean when I say that flag instructions and its procotol range from the ridiculous to the sublime? In our devotion to our flag and our need to protect it, we have given it properties that more properly pertain to living, breathing life forms, whether human or animal. When we die we are subjected to specific methods of disposition—what, when, where and how, and to a lesser extent for the so-called lower order of animals.
The Star Spangled Banner
On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the national anthem of the United States of America. Key’s words gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which generations of Americans have invested the flag with their own meanings and memories. Click here for the flag’s history.
If the real flag should ever be subjected to destruction—let’s say, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands should the District of Columbia be overrun, whether by the extreme left or by the extreme right, we should consider a Viking funeral for the flag on the Potomac river–what a riveting spectacle that would be! Click here to read up on Viking funerals—it’s worth the read—hey, those Norse ceremonies involved a lot of people other than the diseased in order to comply with all the requirements that had be met.
Timing of the ceremony would be critical, of course, to ensure that the burning Viking ship would sink before ramming one of the Potomac’s bridges. The current is fairly swift in that area—the ship should probably be anchored before being torched, and the usual sacrifice of a slave girl should be omitted. I’m not aware of any available slave girls, at least none that would be willing to volunteer to accompany the flag on its final voyage. Although that would guarantee throngs of spectators and television saturation—all the bridges on the Potomac would be packed with spectators—such an event could possibly produce political complications. I worked and lived in the DC area for three years, and I’ll admit that one of the girls that entertain nightly on Fourteenth Street in downtown DC might be persuaded, especially one filled with the intoxicating drink mentioned by Ahmad Ibn Fadlan in the tenth century—then again, perhaps not—who knows? The following video will introduce you to 14th St—if you need and want an introduction. If not, just skip over it, but if you do shun it you’ll miss out on a nightly spectacle, the pulchritudinous parade of practicing purveyors of es e ex.
I conducted all the research above with the serious intention to present it, with all seriousness aside, in an effort to educate and entertain those that follow my blog and those that simply stumble onto it. I mean no disrespect to our flag, although I detest the placement of that tacky little flag on a stick that mysteriously appears on my lawn each year on Flag Day. I love Old Glory and I dedicated more than 22 years of military service to it, years in which I proudly assisted our nation in losing two wars, with combat tours in Korea, 1950-1952 and Viet Nam, 1969-1970.
Interments in America’s national cemeteries are accomplished under rather rigid rules and regulations. Those directives specify who, why, how, where and when such burials are made. I am not aware of any exceptions to those rules—one cannot, for example, choose a shady spot with a hilltop view and request burial there. Such requests may be made, of course, but will politely be refused.
As earth is removed to accommodate new arrivals to the cemetery the length, width and depth of the excavation is done in accordance with regulations and is intended to accept four burials, with the potential of accepting a total of eight burials. The mandatory concrete vaults are constructed with four niches for future occupants, and the excavation is filled when the four occupants are in place.
Before the caskets are lowered in their separate compartments plastic strips of material, fitted with several lengths of plastic pipe placed cross-ways, are placed on the bottom of each compartment. The resulting space created between the vault bottom and the bottom of the casket when lowered allows the lowering bands to be removed, then each compartment of the four-unit vault is covered and sealed.
Should one or more of the compartments need to accommodate another casket in the future, only the earth above that compartment need be excavated. The vault cover will then be removed, another strip with rollers will be placed atop the lower casket and the second casket will be lowered, the vault cover will be replaced and the excavation will be returned to its original configuration.
Let me say at this juncture without any attempt at being flippant or funny, that those consigned to burial in a national military cemetery do not have, nor do they need, lots of elbow room. Each of the four-compartment concrete vaults discussed above has the combined potential of holding a total of eight caskets, two in each compartment. Land for burials is limited, and every effort must be made to accommodate as many burials as possible in the space available.
I imagine that some people feel, as I have felt in the past, that they would like to have their final resting place on a hilltop in a place shaded by a towering oak that marks the spot—a beacon, so to speak—with a magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding area—minus the diameter of the tree, of course.
The view would be a monumental panoramic scene of hills and valleys, wildflowers and streams and waterfalls and myriad wildlife moving about with balmy breezes caressing the flora and fauna of the area. I suggest that those who long for such a final resting place should consider the attractions of perpetual care and companionship with those that have exchanged this realm for another, and for themselves at the end of their journey through life on earth, a journey that ultimately returns each of us, in one manner or another, to the earth—in Biblical terms, to the earth from whence we came.
I feel tremendously privileged that both I and my wife qualify for interment there, a right that was accorded her based on our marriage and her support of a husband far too often away from home for extended periods, and for her maintenance of our home and possessions, and for fathering as well as mothering our three children in my absences. At some time in the future, interred in one of this nation’s national cemeteries, I fully expect to be happy and comfortable when I am reunited with my wife of some fifty-eight years in our cozy one-fourth of a community crypt in Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery.
My wife is now, and I will become, part of a community that enjoys maximum security—its grounds are immaculately kept and visitations are virtually unlimited. And at this juncture I must explain, in the interests of full disclosure and again with no attempt at being flippant or funny, that although I look forward to that reunion I will do nothing to hasten it—I will, in fact, do everything I can to delay it.
Our condominium lacks the towering oak tree, but a young oak has been planted nearby and is thriving, and with the assistance of weather and ground keepers and a bit of luck it will tower over us some day. Nor does our site—our suite, if you will—include a vista of hills or valleys or streams or waterfalls, but balmy breezes waft o’er the community and wildlife abounds.
I sometimes imagine that I have the soul of a poet, and I would like to believe that my soul is that of a poet, but I do not have a shred of a poet’s talent. My love for poetry began when I first read the lines placed by Mark Twain on the headstone of the grave of his daughter, Olivia Susan Clemens, dead in 1896 at the age of twenty-four. I first read the epitaph as a Junior High School student—now known as Middle School. I was moved to tears, just as I am now while researching and writing this post.
Those words have for many years been attributed to Mark Twain, but they were borrowed from a poem written by Robert Richardson, Annette, published in 1893, three years before Twain’s daughter died. This is the verse Mark Twain placed on his daughter’s tombstone:
Warm summer sun, shine kindly here, Warm southern wind, blow softly here, Green sod above, lie light, lie light, Good night, dear heart, good night, good night.
While writing his autobiography, Mark Twain said that he could not remember the author’s name, and apparently he was uncertain of the exact wording of the poem.
When Twain learned of the author and his work, he added the author’s name to the tombstone without changing the verse. Richardson’s original words are as follows:
Warm summer sun, shine friendly here Warm western wind, blow kindly here; Green sod above, rest light, rest light, Good-night, Annette! Sweetheart, good-night!
The poem, Annette, also included this beautiful verse:
If that ancient ethic view
Of Pythagoras be true,
Your light soul is surely now
In that bird upon the bough,
Singing, with soft-swelling throat,
To the wind that heeds it not;
Or in that blue butterfly, Flashing golden to the sun.
The ancient ethic view of Pythagoras, mentioned in the above excerpt from Annette, is explained as follows:
The ancient Pythagoreans believed that souls transmigrated into the bodies of other animals, and because of that belief they practiced vegetarianism, hence the poet’s references to the bird upon the bough and that blue butterfly. However, in Richardson’s ode to his daughter he passionately expresses his love for her, his belief in heaven and his hopes for her in the afterlife, saying that:
Somewhere there beyond the blue, In the mansions that so many are, They say, is there not Any one of all, Annette, for you?
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God—Isaiah 40: 1-3 , King James version.
I’m offering a second and third video of Harris exposed for my readers to review and evaluate. My intent is not to appeal to nor to appease the baser instincts of my viewers, even given the improbability that any such base instincts exist among the throngs that will gravitate to this posting. I only mean to show that the exposures are frequent and nicely composed.
What follows is a voice that crieth in the wilderness, my voice, an adaptation and an interpretation of a passage in the King James version of the Holy Bible, Isaiah 40: 1-3, presented at the beginning of this writing, an effort that I consider is somewhere between an essay and a treatise. This post was prompted by the nature of the clothing worn by a certain statuesque Fox News employee, namely Harris Faulkner, a lovely and tremendously talented lady.
As the voice of the crier that crieth, I crieth on Word Press in an attempt—admittedly a vain attempt—to slow a process that if unchecked could result in our news being nudged towards requiring news readers to perform in the nude, first female newscasters but eventually, inevitably, male newscasters. And come on, do we really want to see a nude Ed Shultz of MSNBC fame haranguing us on his nightly gig, regardless of his state of undress?
Not I! And from that position I offer my adaptation of a passage in the King James version of the Holy Bible:
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
Comfort her, comfort her, saith I. Speak ye comfortably to Harris Faulkner, and cry unto her that her mission is accomplished. She hath lighted her candle and placed it, not under a bushel, but brightly shining from atop the candlestick of Fox News and lo, that light hath been perceived by the network’s many followers.
Harris needeth not longer to reveal that which should be kept hidden under a bushel, at least hidden well enough to leave something for the imagination. She hath received considerably more than the average woman in a certain locale of her topography and lo, the beauty and bounty of that area hath been adequately demonstrated, and hath been perceived by the multitudes, and appreciation hath been expressed adequately—nay, mightily—by the wielders of the studio cameras and by the beasts of the television field.
This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that Harris hath additional visual stimulants to offer the multitudes of those that appreciate such stimulation—nay, lust for such stimulation—but current restrictions forbid further the casting aside of the remnants of her raiment, whether top or bottom or both. A pity, perhaps, in the minds of many, but many would be pleased because television, sadly, is sliding slip-shod and slovenly down a slippery slobbery salivating slope, and at this point I confess that alliteration is and always has been my first love in language—well, at least it is one of my dearest loves.
What’s does this portend for our future television fare? The weather girl, perhaps, stripping and performing a pole dance, slithering around and up and down the pole to demonstrate how a tornado is formed? Put that one on television and see how many Internet hits the video records.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Postscript: I’m adding a related video of another newsreader, just to show that Harris Faulkner is not alone. Lauren Sanchez is an anchor on MY13 news at KTTV FOX-11 in Los Angeles, CA. I selected this dance-themed video because it closely mirrors Lauren Sanchez’ attire when she deliveries her news commentaries—enjoy! Oops, I meant to suggest that the video should be viewed in light of the ever-increasing deterioration of our hallowed values—yeah, right!
On Friday, January 21, 2011 there was a happening, something that occurred which in my estimation and opinion equals the end of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon and the discovery of penicillin. I feel that I can speak with at least a touch of authority because I was present for all three of the wars and actively engaged in the latter two wars, and I sold lots of newspapers on my route during World War II.
I predict that when the day comes that a cure for cancer is discovered, that event will take its rightful place in history, along with the events mentioned and along with the departure of Keith Olberman from MSNBC.
As of this writing it is unknown, at least in the sphere in which I toil, whether Olberman’s departure was acknowledged by management with a ceremonial POTS or a ceremonial KITA. The former involves a pat on the shoulder and the latter involves a hearty kick in the—well, you get my drift.
Away back in the past century in the 1990s, during the times when I became utterly bored with virtually every television channel in the hundreds of channels available to me—and only then—I watched ESPN’s SportsCenter where Keith Olberman presided and postured as co-host. I deep-sixed that channel and the show the night that a caller to the show said that his efforts—the caller’s—to accomplish some goal were futile, with the word futile pronounced the same as feudal. After the caller hung up, Olberman told his listeners—and the caller—that the word should be pronounced few-tile.
Yep, that one unthinking, unlettered piece of blather did it—I have not watched NBC’s SportsCenter since then—in fact, I don’t know where the channel is or if it still exists.
Thank you, MSNBC. Regardless of your reasons for splitting the blanket with Keith Olberman, I thank you. There are several other lesser lights on MSNBC, lights that should be extinguished as was Keith Olberman, or trained to respect the feelings of their non-radical, non-leftwing, non-Democrat viewers that tune in to their programs in search of opposing views, voiced in logical terms and in non-violent tones, and instead such viewers get splattered with offal—the opinions and analyses of politics and politicians on the opposite side of the spectrum from theirs are delivered by those lesser lights in a disrespectful, calculated, insolent and destructive manner.
The term cross-hairs has been prominent in recent political circles. I have a sneaking hunch that the cross-hairs were centered on Keith Olberman by the upper echelons of MSNBC, that he was aware that he was the target, and that he elected to step out of range before the trigger was pulled. I believe that the spotlight has probably been shifted to focus on one or more of the lesser lights on MSNBC. Normally I dislike naming names, but in this instance I will step away from normal.
I believe that the spotlight should now be centered—nay, make that the cross-hairs that should be centered—on Ed S. and Rachael M. and Chris M. and yes, also on Lawrence O., MSNBC’s selection to ascend the throne recently vacated by Olberman. When the hair on the backs of their necks begins to stand up, they will voluntarily enter into a kinder and gentler discourse—otherwise, it’s POTS or KITA for one or more or all.
Listen up, MSNBC!
Your people should try to emulate British readers of the news, people that make every effort possible to discuss events calmly and without taking sides in those events. And in the interests of full disclosure, I will readily admit that the other side has its detractors on television. Not all are fair and balanced, and some voice personal opinions and analyses of politics and politicians, but nowhere near the viral and destructive level consistently practiced by the nightly hosts that are highlighted and pictured in this posting.
The original post with this subject would seem to have worked miracles, judging by the landslide of Republican victories in the congressional elections of November, 2010. I’m enough of a realist to accept the possibility—nay, the probability—that my admonition had little or no effect in the elections, but I’m also enough of a dreamer to feel that perhaps one or more of those landslide votes could have resulted from exposure to my rhetorical efforts—it doesn’t hurt one to dream, does it? Follow the trail of bread crumbs by clicking on the words Read More below. One click will do the job—whether you missed the original or read the original, its reading or rereading is well worth your time.
Listen up, Dumbo, if you want to win in November! A special note to all Republicans seeking to retain or attain a seat in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming November elections: When you start your campaigns, whether for election or reelection in November of 2010, begin by submitting a deposition duly sworn before a properly licensed notary, a deposition in which you swear that you will govern by the will of the people . . . Read More
Some believe and some say, and some even teach, that each of us is the captain of our ship, steering it and our lives through the gentle swells of calm seas and crashing waves of gale-lashed waters across oceans, some dotted with tropical islands and others filled with icebergs. The analogy of our journey through life as the master and captain of our ship is exemplified by this poem: Invictus Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from … Read More
The word welyano, shown and defined above, will be further defined and discussed below. Its definition, the discourse on that definition and its application in our society—is from the latest version of Dean Dyer’s Dictionary Discourses of Different Dialectical Diversions, a publication known by the acronym DDDDDDD. The acronym may be voiced by enunciating the letters separately in sequence, all seven of them, or by drawing out the first D thusly—Deeeeee. I prefer the drawn-out version.
Welyano is a manufactured word that consists of three common words—well, you and know, usually voiced as one word with three syllables. It is used to give the person questioned time to formulate an answer to the question. It serves as a defense mechanism and is used by people that have been asked to voice their opinion on something—on anything—on any subject ranging from AAA, Alcoholics Anonymous to zyzzyva, a tropical weevil of the genus zyzzyva. By immediately responding without hesitation to a question with a single word, Welyano, the user of the word erects a temporary barrier between themselves and the questioner and also between the questioner and any other person present. When a question is asked, the one being questioned immediately says, Welyano then pauses, indicating that the answer is about to be given, and only the rudest of the rude would breach that barrier and repeat the question, and with that repetition interrupt the train of thought being followed by the one being questioned, nor would a third person be impolite enough to intrude into the thoughts of the person being questioned.
The only person I know that would be that rude, in fact the only one I know that is that rude—and I know a lot of people, not intimately but casually, primarily from exposure to their drivel on cable television—is Chris Matthews. One may confirm that by exposing one’s self to his rudeness by gaining a guest spot on his nightly show, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Our current Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, is the most prominent practitioner of the welyano system—she is the definitive user of welyano, whether speaking in the US or abroad, whether in an English-speaking venue or high in the Himalayas—high up, that is. She consistently, almost invariably, begins her response with Welyano, then pauses, appears to be collecting her thoughts, then gives an answer to the question—the accuracy of her answers is not the subject of this treatise.
Welyano is a crutch, used by people whose linguistic ability is crippled by their inability to effectively respond quickly in conversations, particularly in interview situations. They even use the term when the conversation is scripted, when the questions are known to the subject being questioned and the answer that will be given is known to the questioner, a well established and routine procedure for interviews conducted by our nation’s mainstream media with guests whose agendas correspond with those of the venue in which the interview is conducted.
I predict that the term welyano will become part of our English lexicon. In fact, it’s already part of it—it just hasn’t been given the recognition it richly deserves. I cannot truthfully claim that I invented the pronunciation of the term, but I can truthfully claim that I created its spelling, the collection of letters that precedes answers to questions by even the most talented, the most garrulous and the most articulate speaker. The use of welyano is virtually universal, and probably appears in all other languages—spelled differently and pronounced differently, but used for the same purpose—it’s a ruse to gain time to formulate an answer to a question.
I modestly offer the term to mankind, an offer made with no inclination to ask for monetary compensation or a Pulitzer Prize for this essay, nor will I demand consideration for the Nobel prize for linguistic enrichment of our language.
I’ll settle for the presidential presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal, and continue to bask in the reflected light and warmth of that presentation by our president—yeah, right!
I frequently tune in to MSNBC on weekday evenings instead of the Fox News channel. I enjoy watching and listening to Chris Matthews, Ed Shultz, Lawrence O’Donnel, Rachael Maddow and Keith Olberman. It often saves me having to watch Fox News, commentators such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megan Kelly and Greta Susteren. Conversely, I often watch Fox News instead of MSNBC—sometimes I crank up two television sets and watch both, just for kicks.
Frankly, I don’t need to watch both channels—-regardless of which channel I am watching, I can always be assured that the other channel will be diametrically opposed, therefore it doesn’t really matter which channel I watch. No matter the subject, if Fox News is for it then MSNBC will be against it, and if Fox News is against it MSNBC will be for it. That sentence can be juxtaposed also—if MSNBC is for it, Fox news will be against it, and if MSNBC etc., etc., etc.
Either way I get both sides of every story—any story that involves political activities, for example, is analyzed and presented by the channel I’m watching and I can deduce how the other channel will report the story—I know it through the simple process of juxtaposition. As an example of juxtapositioning, imagine that a significant event has occurred and each channel sends out a photographer. One of the photographers shoots with color film and the other shoots with black-and-white film. It really should not be necessary to look at both sets of photos—they will differ only in color.
Get the picture?
I believe I may have accidentally hit on a way to reduce our crowded airways—with my process we can can one or the other—can can sounds right but it sure doesn’t look right—of the two cited channels, thereby making room for reruns in prime time for some of our favorite situation comedies—The Beverly Hillbillies, for example, or Francis the Talking Mule, or even Hee Haw with Buck Owens and Junior Samples, or better still, All in the Family.
Ah, those really were the days!
As for which of the two channels to drop, it really doesn’t matter. Both channels present the same news. We know that Fox News is virtually always positive, and we know that MSNBC’s presentation of news is virtually always negative. If we drop MSNBC and retain Fox News, we simply juxtapose from Fox News positive spin to MSNBC’s negative spin, and if we drop Fox News with its positive spin and retain MSNBC, we simply juxtapose from the negative to the positive, thus one channel can be eliminated, or programed with non-news material.
I have read the letter that follows many times and each time my heart—my soul, my spirit—soars to incredible heights, and then descends to incredible depths. I know that I am not worthy of those heights, but I would like to believe that I do not deserve to remain at those depths.
I have vowed that in the time I have remaining above ground on this sphere—this earth—I will dedicate my efforts, my will, to live my life in a way that honors my wife, my family, my friends and my God. I hasten to add that I will accord that honor in my own way and not necessarily in ways favored by our society, nor by actions sanctioned by various religious denominations. I know that I cannot undo the things I’ve done in my lifetime that I should not have done, but I can try with all my might to do the things I should do in the time I have left in this realm.
I will begin this writing by saying proudly that I have the finest neighbors anyone could possible have, a beautiful couple that lives just a few feet away on the west side of our house. The husband is a self-employed architect and the wife is an educator-at-large in local school districts. They have two grown sons and a brand-new granddaughter.
My wife was in hospice care, and shortly before she died our neighbor gave her a gold chain with a pendant fashioned into the I Love You symbol in American Sign Language. She expressed her sorrow to my wife for her illness and her sorrow that she could not be with her until the end—her elder son’s wife, living in a distant city, was near child delivery and the doctors anticipated problems with the baby. My wife died before the neighbor left, and the neighbor’s sorrow—her sadness—is eloquently expressed in the letter she gave me before she left.
With her permission I have reproduced the letter and am posting it exactly as written, including the pen-and-ink sentence at the top of the page. She professes little talent for writing, but in my opinion, unlettered and unfettered though my opinion may be, she has a tremendous talent for writing and should pursue that talent, whether as a vocation or as an avocation.
Her letter follows, exactly as written. The first sentence just above the poem—This was in my heart today—was written in ink in the upper margin:
This was in my heart today:
Courage is not the towering oak
That sees storms come and go,
It is the fragile blossom
That opens in the snow.
—Alice MacKenzie Swalm
You hurt so deeply…..so, so deeply. You are sad, on top of sad, on top of sad. And all I know to say is, “I’m sorry.” So trite…..it screams out that I can’t even begin to feel your pain. I want to just sit and cry, cry, cry with you. Janie left you for another. That will always break your heart. She left you, she left you…how could she? You were always there for her. Year after year, day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, second after second…..you were always there for her. But she left anyway. Gone, gone, gone. You always knew that she would leave you. It never mattered. You would do it all over again if you could. If only you could.
She said that you were a “Good Man.” A good man. A loving man. A caring man. A clever man. A funny man. A loyal man. A knowledgeable man. An interesting man. But a man all the same. Not perfect, but not a requirement for Janie.
And there lies the real beauty. Janie left room for others to live their own lives. To make their own mistakes. To make their own amends. To write their own stories. To make their own verses and rhymes. To be their own selves. To find their own beauty. To find their own strengths. To find their own weaknesses. No matter where you were in life, whether in the good or the bad, she welcomed you home when you were ready to be home. She didn’t push or prod. She just waited. She knew you would eventually come home. She led by example. Every needle, every probe, every surgery, every bruise, every doctor visit…she said, “Be strong. Be strong, be strong, be strong. It was her battle cry. No words needed. She screamed it out with the softest of cries. So strong…..yet so, so gentle.
I’m your neighbor. I’m just simply a neighbor. How could I be touched this way? For me, death and birth are coming at the same time. I didn’t want to choose one over the other. But here it is, saying choose, choose. Janie’s example said to pick life. Choose life, she said. It is with sadness that I go. Even when I should be filled with bubbling joy. Be strong, she says. Go and be strong.
You are a good neighbor. The best. Be strong. Be strong. Be strong. “Live” she says. Be strong. She will wait for you to come Home.
With Sad, Sad, Sadness,
Your Neighbor, Your Friend,
Postscript: At the memorial for my wife, our daughters placed the “I Love You” pendant in their mother’s hands, along with a small card with Biblical quotations given to her many years ago by her sister, Christine. The only other jewelry was a gold chain with a small pendant that I brought home many years ago from a foreign assignment while in the military. The pendant has a French quotation that translates as “I love you more today than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.”
My neighbor is back home now and back in work harness. Her granddaughter, Caitlan, was delivered successfully by Caesarian surgery. The baby weighed eight pounds and two ounces at birth, and she is healthy, happy and growing by leaps and bounds.
Palin, guns, massacre, Ed, Chris, guests, et al . . .
Okay, let’s see if I have this right:
Immediately following the recent Saturday massacre at a Safeway outlet in Tucson, liberals skewered Sarah Palin for using symbols related to guns and gun use, symbols such as cross-hairs pointing to Democrat incumbents that should be targeted for the recent congressional elections, and for using such terms as don’t retreat, reload and similar gun-related expressions. Radio and television communication airways and publications continued discussing violent rhetoric around the clock for several days, speculating that it had contributed to the massacre and. They called our attention to the fact that the one-time Alaska governor was “strangely quiet,” and intimated that her silence was an obvious sign that she realized her actions had contributed to the massacre, and that she had no ammunition available to fire back at the attack being made on her by far left commentators and their guests. Note the italized gun-related terms such as cross-hairs, ammunition and fire back—our language is replete with such terms, and any attempt to relate that to the massacre is not only preposterous—it’s also utterly stupid.
After several days of silence Palin returned fire—see, there I go again with the gun-related terms. She posted an eight-minute video on Facebook, and that effort to explain her position brought a broadside of criticism from the left, a veritable fusilade of bullets fired by left-wing proponents on television, both main stream and cable. Again, note the gun-related terms—they are inherent in our use of the English language—without them we would be stifled in our efforts to communicate, and yet Sarah Palin is pilloried for her use of such terms.
As an aside, I want to point out to MSNBC that its worst commentator—and I mean that term worst in all its definitions—has a section of his nightly presentation called Rapid-Fire. Would you like to explain that reference to gun use, Ed? Would you consider changing that title, Ed? No, I didn’t think so, Ed.
As told by those on the left in political circles, the governor’s biggest mistake in her video was her reference to the term blood libel. Here is what she said on Facebook:
“Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that only incites the violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
I humbly submit that this was the brightest light in her presentation—I consider that a teachable moment, one capable of enlightening our nation’s entire population with a term that has hounded and preyed on the Jewish people for centuries. The term was completely unknown to me, and I am convinced that it was completely unknown to the other 308 million people in the United States—except, of course, by many religious scholars and by the Jewish population in the United States, a group estimated to be somewhere between five million and seven million souls. I’m willing to bet as much as half-a-barrel of pickled anuses that most of the people in that group are quite familiar with the phrase blood libel.Click here for an explanation and history of the term blood libel.
I consider myself to be at least partially educated. In addition to the life experiences I have accumulated during a relatively long life, a life that includes 22 years of military service covering two wars, both of which we lost, and 26 years of service as a federal law enforcement officer. I have been awarded two college diplomas, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree, each from accredited four-year universities, one in Texas and the other in Nebraska, and each conferred the degree to recognize four full years of study. Much of that study was concentrated on religious thought and history, including Judaism, but the term blood libel was never discussed. I never read it in textbooks and never heard it spoken in classroom discussions, probably because the text books had been purged of the term or the term had never been included.
A certain African-American member of the United States House of Representatives appeared on The Ed Show recently. When the host, Big Ed, asked for his take on Palin’s reference to blood libel, the congressman said this: I have heard it before but I have since studied up on it, undoubtedly in order to better understand it for his appearance on MSNBC. Click here for Ed’s show dated Thursday, January 13, 2011 and the video discussing blood libel. That part begins around the 10-minute marker of the video, so you won’t have to suffer through the first 10 minutes—unless you are an Ed fan and want to suffer through it.
I have serious doubts that the congressman had ever heard of the term until Sarah Palin provided him with a teachable moment, just as she provided one to me. He probably claimed to have known about it in order to save face, just as I would have done had I been asked about it, whether in public or in private—see, I’m honest about it—I’m never reluctant to say, Hey, that’s a new one on me! I thrive on teachable moments, both receiving and giving.
Some years ago I had a friend, a relative by marriage, one that I loved and felt as close to as I did my only brother—closer, in fact, given the fact that I knew him longer and better than I did my brother. My friend left this realm for another some fifteen years ago, and a few years before his death, in his view having strayed from the fold, he became a born-again Christian.
He became active in his church and tithed faithfully, both in coin of the realm and in services to the church and to his fellow parishioners. He professed his firm belief that he would spend eternity in heaven, among family members, relatives and friends, and felt that he had no reason to doubt that belief, that he had turned his life around and earned the right to enter there. I, in turn, also believe that at this moment he is there, moving freely among those long-departed family members, relatives and friends, laughing and joking and probablybarbecuing for them and for the angels.
I don’t recall whether he had an epiphany that prompted the change in his life, but he told me something that he did shortly after he was born again, something that he felt he was obligated to do. He said that as a teenager many years before his return to the Christian religion—his makeover, so to speak—he stole a watermelon from a neighboring farmer’s field. After his return to the Christian faith he went to that farmer, apologized for his action and offered monetary compensation based on the prevailing price for a similar melon. He said that his spirit soared—well, what he actually said was that he felt a lot better after the farmer accepted the compensation and forgave him for his transgression.
I’m reasonably certain that he acknowledged—and made appropriate amends for—any other transgressions as best he could, given the possibility that other transgressions existed.
I have reminisced on his story of the watermelon theft many times over the years, and I still find it remarkable that he remembered his action and felt obliged to make amends for the theft. I find myself speculating that there may have been other, more significant transgressions to account for in one way or another, whether material compensation or a simple admission of guilt and a plea for forgiveness. In any event, the theft of the watermelon is the only transgression he confided in me.
In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I also have stolen watermelons—and cantaloupes and honeydew melons—from a farmer’s field, not once but numerous times. I was a young GI based in south Georgia on a US Air Force base surrounded by bounteous fields, their crops easily seen along side country roads.
The fields were replete in season with such delicacies as watermelons and cantaloupes, ripened in the hot Georgia sun and ready for harvesting and quite vulnerable to theft, particularly by thieves operating under cover of darkness. I am sorrowed by the fact that I cannot render compensation for those thefts because of the passage of time. That was almost sixty years ago, and the affronted farmer has been tending crops in heaven for many years. Besides, those fields probably sport subdivisions now rather than crops.
The best I can do is to vow that I will never steal another watermelon or cantaloupe in the future. I have already expressed my remorse to the proper authorities in my prayers, and I will take my chances when I stand for reconciliation and entry into el cielo—heaven.
That’s my watermelon story and I’m sticking to it!
The Ed Show on MSNBC is hosted nightly by Ed Schultz, a gimlet-eyed version of Pillsbury’s Doughboy. Before I begin my letter, I’ll share my characterization of his show:
T—-terrorizing H—-harrowing E—-effluvium
An open letter to Ed Shultz
On January 12, 1911 you gave your viewers the results of an opinion poll you conducted, a poll consisting of just one question: Do you think Sarah Palin should apologize for her violent rhetoric? The answer that 82 percent of his viewers gave was a resounding yes.
Ed, do us a favor and ask your viewers to respond to this question:
Should Sarah Palin be arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to prison for taking a shot at a duly elected member of Congress?
I believe that the same 82 percent that said yes to the violent rhetoric question would say yes to that question—at least 82 percent, perhaps even more. None will ask for more details—their answer to the question will be based purely on the phrase taking a shot at a member of Congress, just as their answer to your question was based on the phrase violent rhetoric.
Opinion polls are easily manipulated. Simply—and simple is the operative word—the pollster needs only to decide what answer is wanted, then structure the question to get that answer. Had you asked if she should apologize for voicing her political opinions, only your hard-core viewers would have voted in the affirmative. I know that, you know that, your handlers know that and any rational thinker knows that.
I consider your show and your presentations on that show comparable to Michael Vick tossing out red meat to his stable of pit bull fighting dogs. If one can believe the current news—and that’s a really big stretch—Michael Vick, having paid his debt to society by being incarcerated for a relatively brief period considering his debt, has reformed. I wonder what it would take to reform television personalties of your ilk—and yes, I acknowledge that there are others on both sides of the political spectrum but I consider most—not all but most—well below the level of rancor and character assassination you consistently maintain.
I would like to believe that your show, nightly flooded with the vilest effluvium extant, is structured in accordance with the wishes of your handlers, the bosses at MSNBC. I would like to believe that it is something other than egoism, a doctrine that states that the pursuit of self-interest is the highest good, or perhaps egotheism, the identification of oneself with God—or both the latter and perhaps all three—a veritable Trinity of self-adulation.
That is what I would like to believe, and I do believe it. That which I do not believe is that you believe yourself—your nightly ranting and raving is done for the money—nothing more, nothing less. In the inimitable words of Bill O’Reilly, Where am I going wrong?
I found this post among those relegated to the dustbin of previous posts. I enjoyed it so much that I rescued it, dusted it off, added some images and now I am presenting it to those that may have missed it back in March 0f 2010. I confess that I did not create the original, but I can say, without a tinge of blushing, that I improved it before offering it up on my blog. I explained all that in the original post, and included a disclaimer concerning my additions to the original—read on, and enjoy.
Today’s youth vs yesterday’s
A special note:All the italicized passages in this posting are my thoughts—they are separate from the original e-mail, but some of the un-italicized passages in the posting are mine—see my disclaimer below.
I received this item in an e-mail from a friend, and I felt it was well worth posting on Word Press. As always, the e-mail contained faults caused by its wandering around the internet and also as always, at least almost always—well, let’s say sometimes—the writing was seriously in need of attention.
With the most honorable intentions of making good writing better—the best, actually—I took the liberty of tidying up the e-mail. For starters, I removed an estimated total of 250 exclamation points. I did not actually count them, so my estimate may have been a tad high, but there was a huge bunch of exclamation points. It appeared that the keyboard had a mind of its own, and for whatever reason it sprinkled a plethora of exclamation points that appeared randomly throughout the e-mail.
The original teller of this tale vacillated among first, second and third person perspectives so I corrected it. The story is now told by a person aged 30 years or more and directed to persons that have accumulated fewer than thirty years of age. It is specifically directed to the youth of today.
A disclaimer: I must now, in the interests of full disclosure, admit that my efforts to improve this posting were not restricted to exclamation point removal. No, I added my own thoughts here and there—mostly there—adding or taking away as I saw fit, and I can state, unblushingly, that my contributions, whether they involved addition or subtraction, improved the missive in a literary sense and added significantly to the plentiful humor evinced in the original e-mail.
Hey, it’s an internet e-mail—it’s not copyrighted. It came to me unbidden and now it’s mine—I can massage it and manipulate it anyway I desire. I consider it comparable to a whole banana tossed from a speeding auto. It may be a bit the worse from its contact with asphalt, earth and the prickly pear bush in which it landed, but if it isn’t peeled—if its skin is unbroken—one may retrieve it, peel it and consume it with no fear of lessened gustatory effects or legal retribution. In that vein, I cheerfully yield to viewers that may wish to interpose their own thoughts.
Here I will apply a phrase often used, in some respects too often, by Sean Hannity on Fox News, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
And now on to the posting—the original e-mail was untitled, so I seized the opportunity to title it:
Today’s youth vs yesterday’s . . .
If you are 30 or older, you should find this hilarious:
When I was a kid, adults bored me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning—uphill—barefoot—both ways, yadda, yadda, yadda.
And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in you know where that I would lay a bunch of stuff like that on my kids about how hard I had it then and how easy they have it now. However, now that I’m past the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t resist looking around at the youth of today. They have it so easy. Compared to my childhood years, theirs are Utopian in every respect.
I hate to say it, but you kids today? You have no idea how good you have it.
When we were kids we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves—in the card catalog.
There was no email. We had to write a letter by applying a pen or pencil to a piece of paper. We then folded the paper and secured it in a paper enclosure known as an envelope, and we sealed the envelope by licking the sticky side of its flap, and then we licked a postage stamp of the proper denomination and placed it on the envelope, and then we had to walk all the way to the sidewalk to put it in the mailbox and raise the flag, and it would take a week or more to get there and another week or more to get an answer.
Nowadays envelopes are pre-licked. In the unlikely event that you need to write a letter, you simply remove the safety strip and press the flap to seal the envelope—after first placing the letter in the envelope, of course.
Today’s postage stamps are also pre-licked. You only need to peel the stamp from its backing and affix it to the upper right corner of the envelope. We consider those advances—from licking envelopes and stamps to the present pre-licked systems—high tech.
Child Protective Services was unborn, and nobody cared if our parents beat us. In fact, the parents of our friends had permission to also kick our butts.
No place was safe.
There were no MP3s or Napsters or iTunes—if we wanted to steal music, we had to hitchhike to the nearest record store and shoplift it.
Either that or we had to wait around all day to tape it from the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw up the recording. There were no CD players—we had 8-track tape decks in our cars. We would play our favorite tape and eject it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. But hey, that’s how we rolled, baby—can you dig it?
We didn’t have fancy stuff like Call Waiting. If we were on the phone and someone else called, they heard a busy signal—that was it.
And we had no cell phones. If we left the house we could neither make a call nor receive one. We actually had to be out of touch with our friends. Oh, my, God—think of the horror of not being in touch with someone 24/7.
And today there’s texting—you kids have no idea how much you annoy us with your damn texting.
And we had no fancy Caller ID either. When the phone rang we had no idea who was calling—it could be our school, our parents, our boss, our bookie, our drug dealer or a collection agent—we had no way of knowing. We had to pick up the phone—the one tethered to the wall—and take our chances.
We had no fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high resolution 3-D graphics—we had the Atari 2600 with games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids. Our screen guy was a little square, and we actually had to use our imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens—we had only one screen—forever! And we could never win. The games just kept getting harder and faster until we died—very similar to the game of life.
We had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on television, and we were screwed when it came to channel surfing. Remote controls had not yet been invented—in the good old days we had to get off our collective butts and walk over to the TV to change the channel.
I can hear it now: No remotes? No REMOTES? Oh, no, that’s impossible.
And we had no Cartoon Network—we could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait all week for cartoons, you spoiled little rat finks.
And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove—imagine that.
And our parents told us to stay outside and play—all day long and far into the evening. No, we had no electronics to soothe and comfort us, and if we came back inside we were forced to do chores.
As for car seats—oh, please—our moms threw us into the back seat and we hung on. If we were lucky we got the old safety arm across the chest at the last second if a sudden stop was required, and if we were in the front seat and our head hit the dashboard—well, that was our fault for riding shotgun in the first place.
Do you see it?
Can you dig it?
That’s what I’m talking about—you kids today have it far too easy. You’re spoiled rotten. You guys would not last five minutes in our day or at any time before our day.
The Over 30 Crowd
Time is a gift given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life—Norton Juster.
This morning and most of yesterday I have been watching and listening to only a couple of cable channels, namely Fox News and MSNBC, two channels that are at opposite ends of the political spectrum—well, no, not at opposite ends—one of the channels is at or near the center of the political spectrum, but regardless of their positions on the spectrum they are diametrically opposed and as the result of my fixation I cannot eat, although I am ravenously hungry.
I cannot eat because I know that if I do, I will instantly regurgitate the contents of my stomach, just as the talking heads on MSNBC and most of their guests are regurgitating every comment ever made by every conservative political figure in this country that in any way can be twisted to factor into, and in some way—any way—be blamed for the massacre that took place in Tuscon, Arizona Saturday.
I’ve been watching people of many different races and backgrounds and nationalities and listening to their spoken words and reading their written thoughts for almost eight decades, and in all that time combined I have never been subjected to such an avalanche of unadulterated drivel.
A case in point: Sarah Palin’s use of phrases and images such as in our sights and targets, although acknowledged by MSNBC staff and guests as only symbols, and symbols are perceived differently by different people, the idiotic comment inevitably follows that, Well, yes, that’s true, but perceptions become reality.
No, perceptions do not become reality. No matter what any person perceives and no matter how they perceive that something, any act that person commits, whether legal or illegal comes from that person, not from that perception. The idea that perception becomes reality is nothing more than a crutch used by the intellectually crippled—read MSNBC—to navigate from a thorough lack of knowledge to false knowledge, thoroughly satisfied that they have reached the truth.
Balderdash, I say—balderdash! There is another term that says it better, a term consisting of two words. The first word begins with a B and the second with an S, usually followed with an exclamation point. Although I have descended into using the term in prior verbal and written exercises, I will abstain from using it here because it might detract from the purity of this discussion.
If it were true that perception becomes reality, every political cartoonist in every nation on earth would be hanged and flayed by the opposing forces, just as MSNBC is doing now for political conservatives, particularly Tea Party persons.
As the world now exists, cartoonists that satirize Islamic prophets and other Muslim figures are subject to be flayed alive and then hanged, an issue that is promoted by publishers withdrawing cartoonists’ works and apologizing for such actions, and politicians cautioning their constituents to refrain from such satirizing, whether spoken or written.
Here’s a sample of MSNBC’s rhetoric—not equal to that of Keith or Ed, two of the most virulent hosts on that channel, but a fair example. This paragraph was extracted today from NBC’s First Read web site entitled First thoughts: A new chance for civility?
The spotlight on Palin: Of course, this all brings us to Sarah Palin. What took place on Saturday in Arizona could end up haunting her, if she decides to run for higher office. More than any other public actor, Palin—the 2008 GOP VP nominee—has embodied today’s combative political rhetoric (“Don’t retreat, instead reload), and her “target” list to defeat Democratic members who voted for the health-care bill (including Giffords) has received a considerable amount of attention since Saturday. As Politico’s Martin writes, “Whether she defends, explains or even responds at all to the intense criticism of her brand of confrontational politics could well determine her trajectory on the national scene—and it’s likely to reveal the scope of her ambitions as well.”
I marked the words that support my reason for making this posting. Palin’s words are retreat, reload and target. Note the words used by Politico’s Martin: trajectory and scope, both related to firearms and bless Martin’s liberal soul, he is probably blissfully unaware of that. The word combative also appears in the paragraph and since it was not attributed to Palin I also marked that in bold letters.
Palin is a firearms advocate and a hunter, and as such these terms are perfectly normal, logical and descriptive words for her to use.
Come on, MSNBC—lighten up! You don’t really believe the vitriol, the poison, the garbage that spews from the mouths of people with such names as Keith and Ed and Chris and Rachael and Lawrence, and they don’t even believe it themselves. At heart, deep down deep in their inner being—their souls, so to speak—they are decent law-abiding, family loving, American flag waving, Constitution abiding people, and are simply following the directions of the bosses in their ivory towers, those edifices supported on stacks of American greenbacks. I’m willing to wager that all the people mentioned are susceptible to being proselytized by Fox News.
How about that, Mr. Murdoch? We learned from Bill Clinton that tying a fifty-dollar bill to the rear bumper of a pickup truck and dragging it through a trailer park will guarantee a date for the evening—or at least for a short time, so to speak. Why not tie a bundle of C-notes to the rear bumper of your Rolls-Royce and drag it through the halls at MSNBC to see who follows the trail to Fox News?
How about it, Rupert? Your have some good people, but you can always use a few more—Juan Williams is a good example of that.
The following literary effort is presented exactly as I found it in my ramblings online—not a single letter, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, sentence construction, paragraphing or subject-to-object relationship has been changed.
I’m sharing this work with my readers because I consider it to be a teachable moment, not for my erudite followers but for those less erudite that may find their way to my blog. I cannot tell whether the author of this effort is male, female, both or neither. However, I can tell that the work as literature violates virtually every rule in every How to Write Effectively manual ever published and every one that will ever be published.
The writing is presented below, just as I found it online:
Yesterday I read that in every January, the last seven days week’s Monday is the worst day of the year. This year it was 25th of January, yesterday. The most of my classmates said that it was really a bad day, but mine was pretty good. I felt good, I got good marks. But today? I was totally luckless. I burnt myself twice time, I felt kinda miserable, because of how I look like and how I dress; I don’t know why, but on chemic lesson my classmates wanted to spell homosexual on my “to-do diary”, it can be that I misunderstood something, but It has less chance. And to top this day, after having a great time with my friend (we baked, and it is delicious), I log on to Yahoo, and I got an offline message from the girl who have feelings for me: would you be my wife? and a “please” smiley. Wtf? Should I think that somehow she recognized my sexual identity by observing me? Because when I gave it a thought, I realized that the happiness I’ve been feeling all the days for a long time now, could be related to not wearing the mask all day long.
Edit: Problems solved. She only wrote it because my status was “baking and washing the dishes” so she felt like proposing, because I would make a perfect wife 😛 Well I hope I will! XDD
My conclusions regarding the work, just in the improbable event that anyone is interested in my conclusions:
In closing, I feel that this work—no, no, not my work, the work I found online—defies the usual alphabet scale of A, B, C, D and F, and neither do the scales of Pass/Fail, Good/Bad or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory adequately apply.
I will happily give the author of the work a resounding E for Effort—a heartfelt Hear, Hear, a You go, girl—without regard to her or his or their sexual preferences or physical characteristics. At least he or she or they is/are trying, striving to communicate feelings and emotions to those both inside and outside his/ hers or their personal boundaries. Far too many of us for a multitude of reasons, not one of which is legitimate, refuse to make an effort to write—we are the ones that deserve the Fs and the Fail, Bad and Unsatisfactory grades.
Letter to the editor Express-News, P.O. Box 2171 San Antonio TX 78297
Who was that pit bull?
The question in the title above should offend your language sensibilities—if it does not offend, please stop reading and go in search of other postings by people who are poorly versed in the intricacies of our English language. I formed that title question in my mind when I read the pit bull story in today’s Express-News on Page 9B of the Metro Section, an article written by Maria Anglin. The article included a file photo of a pit bull, and the caption below the photo stated that The shooting of a pit bull who was attacking a passerby brings up the issue of responsible pet owners—bolding of the word who is mine.
Who was that pit bull, you ask? That pit bull was not a who—that pit bull was the pit bull that attacked a passerby on Wednesday, January 9, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. It was the pit bull that was shot in the leg by a witness to the attack, a witness that happened to have a gun and the license to carry a concealed weapon. It was the pit bull that limped away and was ultimately captured and destroyed by the city’s Animal Care Services.
This post was not prompted by the pit bull’s attack on the elderly woman, nor by the fact that the dog had no tags on its collar, nor is it my intent to discuss the pros and cons of dogs illegally roaming the streets, or whether our Texas gun laws are good or bad for our society.
Nope, none of the above—this post was prompted by the fact that a dog is not a who. The word dog may be followed by that or which, but never who. A dog can be a that, an it, an is or a which, but never who. A dog may also be referred to as a he or as a she, but no dog—no, not even Lassie of movie fame– should ever be referred to as a who, and those persons employed in the newspaper business—journalists, copy writers and copy editors should know that. A human being is correctly referred to as the person who, or as the person that, depending on the writer’s preference—dogs do not have that privilege—they are not human—they are dogs.
Kudos to Maria Anglin, the author of the pit bull story. Maria danced around the term and used the words which, that and it. I would suppose that the photo and the caption were added after her copy was submitted—otherwise she would have corrected the flaw.
Back in the days when I was gainfully employed, I worked with a lady for whom English was a second language, and she often pronounced the letter eye as an e—she repeatedly labeled people as nit pickers, but the sound came out as neet peekers. Readers of this post may consider me to be a neet peeker, but they should remember and adhere to the proverbial rhyme below. It demonstrates that small actions can result in large consequences.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost, For want of a horse the rider was lost, For want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a nail.
A final note: In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I did not submit this letter to the editor, nor will I submit it. Over the years I have accumulated numerous rejections from that worthy, some of which—but not all—may have included a thought, or thoughts, that could possibly be considered criticisms of the paper. I don’t handle rejections well so I decided to appeal to a wiser audience—the highly erudite and always perceptive readers of my postings on WordPress.com. As of this posting I have never been rejected—not once—by WordPress.
Nineteen months have passed since I vowed that I would never submit another letter to the editor of the Express-News for consideration, and I have kept my vow. I have posted several letters to the editor on Word Press during that period—yes, there have been others I did not send to the Express-News editor. I was burned—read insulted—once by that worthy, and I refuse to be insulted again. I will continue to nurse my pride and do my whining in other venues—so there!
Postscript: There is an animal rescue organization in our city that publishes and send out to it members a periodic newsletter detailing its work over a specific period of time. Without exception, the species of the animals and birds are capitalized in the literature—Dog, Cat, Rat, Bird, Snake, Roach, etc., etc., and every species is referred to as a who—DooDoo, the Dog who, and Rastus, the rat who, and Polly, the Parrot who, etc., etc. I admire their work immensely, but I abhor their writing intensely. Perhaps it is done out of respect for the various species of animals but perhaps they don’t know any better, similar to the staffer at the Express-News who captioned the subject of this posting.
Yesterday was the eighth day of January 2010, a supremely significant Saturday (ah, that alliteration—I cannot resist it). The entire world knows at least one reason why yesterday was significant. Elvis Presley was born on that day in 1944. Had the rock-and-roll star stuck to singing (more alliteration) and kept his distance from fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches he could have celebrated his seventy-sixth birthday yesterday—some say that drugs contributed to his early demise.
Yesterday Debra, our elder daughter—I use the phrase elder daughter because it carries far less emotion than older daughter—celebrated her fifty-seventh birthday. She and our granddaughter and their friend Sandy whiled the day away shopping in Austin at Sam Moon’s mercantile for Chinese-made items, primarily jewelry, and enjoyed a birthday lunch—probably at a McDonald’s outlet—no, not really—I’m certain that they went to a five-star restaurant, assuming that Austin has such.
I called Debbie on her cell phone and submitted her to the birthday song—I’m unsure whether she has recovered from that cacophony of sound. She has breezed past the half-century mark in age and added seven years, and she could easily pass for thirty—alright, she could definitely pass for thirty-five. I believe that her satisfaction with her work in one of San Antonio’s school districts is helping her stay young—that and her plethora—call it a gaggle—of close friends.
I believe that most of the credit for her youthful look can be attributed to the genes bequeathed by her mother, a lady that has always appeared far younger than her years. I would like to believe that I contributed to that youthful look, but I’m honest enough to give full credit to her mother for that.
Janie, if you’ll take a quick look at a certain spot in a certain section of Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery you’ll see a brilliantly white marble marker, newly erected, with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers placed in front of it. The marker is etched with all the pertinent information required by military regulations, and the words Cry not for me, I wait for thee.
I have been unable to comply with the CRY NOT FOR ME admonition, but your statement that I WAIT FOR THEE has stood me in good stead and kept me from unraveling completely. That phrase is in the forefront of the multitude of reasons why I love you, and in the words of Emily Dickinson in her timeless poem, I shall but love you better after death.
The beauty of the flowers will last for several days in the cool weather of this December, but with the summer sun I’ll need to replenish them far more frequently, but I don’t mind—they are from our local HEB market—this is perhaps one of the best bargains that can be found in one of the finest markets in our city—nay, one of the finest in our nation.
Sweetheart, I’ll close for now. I have a photo of your marker taken by my new Sprint 4G phone, but I haven’t figured out how to get it from the phone to my computer. When I do I’ll add it to this letter.
Sleep well in heaven, my darling.
I love you more today than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.
Postscript: The marker photo was added today, January 10, 2011.
Because I plan for this post to be e pluribus unum—out of many, one—I will keep it as brief as possible. There are many more brief posts of various subjects to follow, and that is not meant as a threat—it is more of a promise.
Publishers are replacing Mark Twain’s spelling and pronunciation of the dialect version of the word Negro, a word that appears some 217 times as originally spelled by Twain and pronounced in the local dialect by the protagonist and lesser characters in Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn, with the more politically correct term of slave. Twain spelled the word with a lower case n, replaced the e with an i, added a g and an e and dropped the o ending.Click here for a Britisher’s take on the changes to the novel Huckleberry Finn.
So be it—the word does not offend me, and I do not agree with the change, but if it is to be done I propose in that same vein that all publications that feature Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famed I Have a Dream speech replace the term Negro with the more politically correct term African-American. I feel certain that Reverend King, looking down on us and listening to us, will appreciate the change, just as Mark Twain probably—nay, undoubtedly—will appreciate the changes to his work entitled Huckleberry Finn, whether looking down on us or looking up at us.
The politically incorrect word Negro appears in Reverend King’s speech at least thirteen times. That word should be redacted and replaced by the term African-American. It does not offend me, but I am white—I mean, I am an Anglo-American. However, I can understand how painful it might be for an African-American reader, one steeped in the notion that he is one of an oppressed group and therefore denied any chance of realizing the American dream, to be forced to read and pronounce that word so many times in Twain’s novel, and to read and hear Reverend King’s speech under the same conditions.
If you would like to verify the number of times the term Negro appears in the reverend’s speech, you can click here and count them for yourself. I’m sure you’ll agree that the changes should be made, just as necessary and as justifiable as were the changes made in Mark Twain’s work.
Some will probably say that when the reverend made his historic speech, the word Negro was favored at that time, even though mispronounced by many people, particularly by those residing in areas below the Mason-Dixon line. The only rebuttal to that is that the word as presented in Twain’s novel was also favored in that area and in that era—in fine, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.
I recently received an e-mail from my nephew in Mississippi that included a copy of a letter written by a Union soldier on the eve of a battle early in the War Between the States. Click here to read that soldier’s final written words, beautifully written in a fashion that is largely lost to us in this day and age. My posting of the letter garnered a comment from a reader, a comment to which I responded at some length.
This is the reader’s comment:
I was educated in the British system and for a long time, the Civil war meant either the War of the Roses or Cromwell’s war. It was as an adult that I started to understand our own Civil War. It is a sad thing the young man did not survive, consigning his small children to the very horrors of an orphaned existence. That said, I have always been struck by how beautifully young men wrote 150 years ago.
My response to that comment follows:
Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. Your observation that the written word was beautifully constructed 150 years ago necessarily invites comparison with today’s pitifully penned letters. Cursive writing is a lost art, soon to be consigned to the graves of history, along with Egyptian hieroglyphics and prehistoric cave drawings.
Our children are not learning penmanship. At best, they learn the art of printing letters, then graduate from there to thumbing letters and numbers on digital devices and clicking on an infinitesimally huge host of pictorial characters that represent thoughts, locations, ideas and emotions, expressing themselves silently without leaving any sort of footprints for the future, other than those captured and held in digital form.
Should the unthinkable occur—nuclear war with the resulting loss worldwide of the atomic movement of electrons, neutrons and protons through electrical circuits, whether land based or hand held—without access to that method of communication mankind will eventually regress to its original system of grunts, groans, hand signals and facial contortions to communicate, and millenniums later will probably advance from there to crudely drawn pictorial representations on rocks and on cliff sides and in various caves around the globe—that is, of course, if anyone remains after the holocaust of nuclear war. Civilization is by far the worst for the deficiency in communication wrought by binary bits.
And finally, just to wrap up this response to your comment, I will quote an unknown contributor to our language:
What goes around, comes around.
That astute observation, obscured in the ancient mists of time, may be reversed without any loss of its meaning, namely, What comes around, goes around, a truism equal to another obscure saying:
There is nothing new under the sun.
It’s useless to Google that affirmation—there are endless variations that effectively say the same thing, whether or not shown on the Internet. Somewhere on our planet, probably penned on a cave wall or on a stone buried in the rubble of some ancient civilization, there is undoubtedly a series of identical crude pictures or symbols. That series ends and continues with unrelated pictures or symbols, and then centuries later, perhaps millenniums later, the original series is repeated.
And even that is not the origin of that contribution to our language. It was undoubtedly expressed in the grunts, groans, hand signals and facial contortions that were used to communicate with others of the human species, and even before humans appeared was expressed by the physical appearance and the sounds and poses adopted by non-humans, the so-called lower orders of animals.
While wandering around in the bowels of my archived postings on WordPress, I found this brilliantly worded essay. On re-reading it I was so enthralled by the superior quality of the writing that I felt obliged to bring it out of the Stygian darkness of the archives and offer it up to newcomers to my blog, and to any long-time followers that may have overlooked it, whether by accident or through deliberation. It’s a good read, featuring bits of our nation’s history of lost wars and a self-analysis of one who was a participant—at the scene, so to speak, and qualified to discuss such activities. Click here to read about my arrival in the Far East.
Analysis of a 17-year-old warrior
As does virtually every family, mine has a shoe box filled with snapshots of family and friends spanning decades of living and loving and working, showing many of the places where we lived and worked and places where we went for recreational purposes. I recently found an old black-and-white photo of a certain 17-year-old warrior, a young lad that somehow made his way to Japan somewhere between the ages of 17 and 18 years, an age at which he should have been at home in Columbus, Mississippi enrolled in the eleventh grade at Stephen D. Lee High School, working at various part-time jobs, chasing girls and striving mightily to maintain a C-average.
I was intrigued by the differences between that lad then and the same person now, some 60 years later. I was captivated by the photo, taken sixty years ago in 1950 in front of temporary quarters in the city of Fukuoka on the Japanese island of Kyushu—so captivated that I decided to share it with my viewers.
I refer to this lad as a warrior based on the knowledge that during the summer of 1950, shortly after North Korea invaded South Korea, he was en route to Korea from Japan to help in our war to keep South Korea free from communism, and would continue in that effort for the next 15 months. Some nineteen years later he would be in Vietnam for thirteen months with a similar purpose—to help South Vietnam in its struggle against a takeover of the country by the Viet Cong, aided by North Vietnam regulars with help from Russia and China.
In both instances—the war in Korea and the one in Vietnam—he was unsuccessful, and his contributions were for naught. The Korean War ended in a truce that exists to this day, and the Vietnam War ended, for better or worse, in a united Vietnam—the communists won and we lost.
Examine the photo closely—have you ever seen a cockier, more in-your-face, more arrogant and defiant stance? This is a youth of seventeen, some six or seven inches over five feet tall, weighing 115 pounds with a 28-inch waist, dressed in regulation one-piece fatigue coveralls with a fatigue cap on top and un-shined GI brogans on the bottom. Either the cuffs of the coveralls are turned up or the coveralls are too short. The cap is pushed back rather than squared off, hands are in pockets, sleeves are partially rolled up, collar is turned up—a harbinger of the Elvis style to come, still some six years in the future. The first several buttons of the fatigues are unbuttoned revealing no undershirt and a really skinny unhairy chest. And most important, even at that tender age the lad is exhibiting a strong leaning to the right, a stance that incidentally exists to this day, and if it gets much more pronounced I—oops, I mean he—will be unable to stand up without falling.
I am fairly certain that any reader of this posting has already guessed that the lad in the photo is the same person that is writing this posting for his blog on Word Press—yes, I refer to my mother’s youngest son, The King of Texas—that lad is yours truly at the wizened age of seventeen.
My mother’s youngest son bears little resemblance to that 1950s figure, although he still leans to the right in any political stance, and rather than one-piece fatigues he putters around in sweats and house slippers at home and wears jeans, a pullover shirt and sneakers for occasions such as weddings, funerals, jury duty and similar formal events.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
In the four months the original posting was available it garnered only one comment, and that one from a highly biased viewer:
That cocky in-your-face defiance is exactly the kind of guy I want going to war for this country! Thank you for serving with such gusto and guts.
By: sue on August 13, 2010
And this is the response to Sue’s comment by the author, also highly biased:
Hi, Sue, Bless yore little ol’ pea-picking heart. Do you remember Tennessee Ernie Ford and his radio show? Do you remember radio? You have made my day! (Note the exclamation points!) You have a way of reaching the core of any thought and any situation and encapsulating and expressing it in a thoroughly remarkable and memorable manner.
I wanted to use the gerund of capsule by adding “ing” but nothing looked right, not capsuleing or capsulling or capsulleing, and all three were rejected by my spell checker, so I took a path less traveled and used encapsulate, a word that happily accepted the “ing.” I haven’t given up yet. Capsule can be used as a verb and therefore has to have a gerund form—I just ain’t yet found it.
Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment—y’all come back, ya’ hear!
Prior to the interment of my wife’s mortal remains in Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery here in San Antonio, I was asked to provide any information that I wanted in addition to the mandatory data required by military regulations. An official of the funeral home said that I would have three lines for our use, each line consisting of a maximum of 15 letters including spaces. After securing agreement from our three daughters, I submitted the following three lines, to be placed below the lines required by regulation. These lines were my original submission:
Cry not for me I am at home I wait for thee
Shortly after that submission I was contacted by a cemetery representative, and was told that only two lines were available for my use after the mandatory items were inscribed. After a few minutes of looking at possibilities, I realized that any one of the three lines I had submitted could be deleted. I could remove the first line and the inscription would read:
I am at home I wait for thee
I could delete the third line and the inscription would read:
Cry not for me I am at home
And finally, with the second line removed the inscription would read:
Cry not for me I wait for thee
Again with the agreement of our three daughters, I chose to remove the second line, so the inscription will read:
Cry not for me I wait for thee
Of course, when my earthly remains are placed with the mortal remains of my wife in our temporal holding place—and I will join her, either sooner or later—her inscription will again need to be formulated, primarily because she will no longer be waiting for me—at that time I shall have arrived.
As for my inscription on the front of the final headstone to be inscribed and erected, I will entrust the inscription to the sensibilities of our three daughters, and I trust that they will be gentle in complying with that responsibility, and unanimous in their decision, whatever it may be—but none of that two out of three stuff!
In the wee small hours of the morning today, at exactly 1:01 AM Central Standard Time, I received a cryptic e-mail, a message that consisted of a single URL, one that proved to be a commercial Canadian site offering a variety of health and physical fitness products, a variety with a pronounced emphasis on pharmaceuticals such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and various painkillers and growth hormones.
The e-mail was from my granddaughter, a beautiful and intelligent young woman of some 26 tender years. She is a graduate of one of San Antonio’s community colleges and was recently graduated by the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is quite aware that I, her maternal grandfather, love a good joke and have been to spin off a few jokes of my own under acceptable conditions.
I considered the e-mail to have been delivered in jest, particularly given the fact that this particular grandfather has passed his seventy-eighth birthday, and however reluctantly, is hurtling toward number seventy-nine—that will put me just a scant twenty-one years away from the century mark. Armed with that knowledge and knowing my granddaughter’s penchant for good clean verbal fun, I replied to her e-mail in like vein.
This is my response to her e-mail:
Thanks for calling my attention to this web site. I have placed my order for multiple items in substantial amounts, including orders for almost everything on the home page.
I did not order the Female Pink product for obvious reasons, but also I figured that the dosage could possibly promote personal ambivalence in certain preferences, and I would really hate myself if I should learn that all those years in the past have been wasted—nope, no Female Pink for me.
I did not order the Soma, the muscle relaxant and pain blocker—my muscles are already too relaxed and I don’t hurt anywhere—much.
I did not order the Human Growth Hormone because I’m already unable to wear certain shirts and jeans—even my socks are too tight—and I do not want to grow bigger and return to wearing those wide-butted Dockers.
I also did not order any Ultram, another painkiller. However, I was sorely tempted because it was one of the least expensive items pictured.
I almost included Zyban to help me curb my smoking habit, then I remembered that I quit smoking in 1967.
I am so excited! I plan to camp out near the mailbox—I just hope that all those enhancements arrive soon, and I hope they are delivered in a plain brown wrapper. In fact, I plan to camp out immediately adjacent to the mailbox just in case a neighbor gets sticky fingers when the packages start arriving.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that I forwarded this response to the other addressees listed on your e-mail. I took the liberty of sending it to the other recipients in the belief that they would also want to order copious amounts of these products, especially after having been emboldened by my order.
Judging by their e-mail addresses, they appear to be reasonably female in gender and will probably make a run on the Female Pink product—but then again, perhaps not—one can never be sure.
Thanks for the e-mail—cheers, and happy new year!
Postscript: I learned later this morning that my granddaughter’s e-mail had been compromised by unknown persons, perhaps by someone with a financial interest in the Canadian on-line pharmacy. She did not send the e-mail. Bummer!
And one more postscript: One by one the addressees to whom the compromised e-mail was forwarded are being removed as non-deliverable. Evidently there is something in the system that provides for such compromises.
And as Martha Stewart would probably say, That’s a good thing!
I received the following e-mail from my nephew in Mississippi, the nephew that toils lovingly and highly successfully in his chosen profession of designing and renovating churches of various denominations. The e-mail included a copy of a letter written by a Union soldier on the eve of a battle early in the War Between the States—I refuse to refer to it as a civil war—there was not a trace of civility in that bitter conflict. The letter was untitled and is reproduced in its entirety following my nephew’s e-mail, exactly as I received it.
Your most recent posts, your letters to Janie, have reminded me of a letter I learned about from a public television series done by Ken Burns. The series documented some of the history of the American Civil War. Specifically, the program included parts of a letter written by a Union soldier who later became a casualty of that war. Although the letter was written before his death, the spirit of the letter, for me, transcends life and death. I believe your letters do the same. A copy of the text of the letter is attached.
This is the Union soldier’s letter to his wife, written on the eve of battle:
July the 14th, 1861 Washington DC
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?
I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death—and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.
I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar —-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night – amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.
A special note: The soldier, Sullivan, did not survive the battle—he died, but his letter and his spirit live on.
That’s the story of my nephew’s e-mail and the letter written by a Union soldier, and I’m sticking to it.
Janie, I saw you today. You were seated in a room and you stood and walked across the room and I followed. You were wearing black slacks, low-heeled black shoes and a red shirt, and you were carrying the black purse that Kelley brought from New York, and as always you looked exquisite.
I stood and followed you, but I awoke after you had taken only a few steps toward the door of the room. I don’t know where we were, and I can’t describe the surroundings because my attention was focused on you. Although I was asleep, I knew that I was asleep, and I was horribly disappointed when I awakened so soon after you appeared.
I saw you at 1:40 PM today on Sunday, the second day of January, 2010. This is the forty-fifth day since you left me, and I have prayed on every one of those days for you to come to me in my dreams, and today you answered my prayers. You came to me, only for a few seconds but you came to me. I had dozed off in the recliner in our den for a brief few seconds and you came to me.
I picture you in my mind throughout every day and into the evening, continuing on until sleep overtakes me—not continuously, of course, but sporadic through the entire day whether I am sitting, standing, walking or driving. My thoughts of you do not in any way distract from my daily activities—they seem to blend in perfectly, and my thoughts will always be of you. You were and still are such an important part of me that my thoughts will always keep you in my daily life, even though you are not with me.
Those incredibly brief seconds that I was with you today sparkle in my memory with the glitter of fine diamonds and glisten with the sheen of dew drops on tulips. I will keep them close in memory and bring them out from time to time to admire them and keep your memory strong, but I yearn for more—I’ve seen the previews of coming attractions—now let me see the feature-length film.
I love you more today than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.
The following comment was made by Alyce, a long-time family friend, on my posting entitled A second letter to Janie in el cielo. Click here to read the letter. In that post I acknowledged that writing letters to those that have left this vale of tears and now exist in another realm strains credulity. Alyce’ comment is intended to express her feelings for loved ones she has lost, and to support my method of corresponding with family members I have lost. In my not-so-humble opinion, the comment is beautifully structured and presented—her thoughts come straight from the heart and her words ring true in every respect.
This is her comment:
When I was a child and someone that I loved died, it was easier for me to accept. I don’t know why exactly. I remember that I was very young when my grandpa died,. My mom and I walked up to the casket and she showed me grandpa, but it didn’t look like him. He had his teeth in and no coveralls on—it was a suit. I pulled on mom’s dress and asked Who is that? She said It’s grandpa, and I said No.
Since I was so small I didn’t quite understand it, but later that day I had questions and mom always had the sweet answers. After explaining the teeth and the suit she said Grandpa is in heaven now with Jesus and happy, no pain, just enjoying the Lord, andI understood and accepted the answers mom gave me. Yes, I was sad because I would not see grandpa make tops and other things with his knife, but he was happy and I knew that someday I would see him again.
As I got older it became harder for me when someone I loved passed away to be with the Lord, probably because I knew as I got older I would someday pass away and leave the loved ones I have on earth, but knowing God’s promise of seeing them again has always comforted me.
I know after my mom died I went to the cemetery a few times, but then I remembered what my mom told me to remember, that she and daddy were not there, and it took me awhile to get it. When I lived in the Valley I would go and place flowers and clean their stone and the stones of others I knew out there. I knew the second they passed on that their soul was with the Lord. Now when I think of them and want to talk to them I do it while driving down the road, or at home sitting in the recliner or wherever I might be. I will always miss them as long as I am breathing, here in my temporary place, but someday I will see them again.
Everyone mourns in so many different ways, and each way should be respected, whether we think it’s the right way or not. That’s why God made each of us different. Oh, to be a child again and think like a child, not complicated!
I wish we could all be like that.
Always remember that God gives us seven days a week and twenty-four hours in each day, and we must choose how to spend the time that God has given us.
Happy New Year to all and may God bless all.
An afterthought:Alyce is employed in one of the most stressful occupations that exist in any society. She works as a Correction Officer in a state facility in South Texas, in close contact with people that are in prison because they look on life from a different aspect than most people, and Alyce would be the first to admit that without God at her back, she could not continue to endure the daily stress under which she labors.