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The day after Christmas, 2010 . . .

Yesterday was December 25, the Year of Our Lord, 2010. That day was Christmas, the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, hailed, revered and worshiped by Christians as the Son of God and the savior of mankind, One of the Christian Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. It was the seventy-eighth Christmas of my life, and the fifty-eighth Christmas since I met and married my wife near the mid-point of the past century—1952.

I spent all but five of those 58 holidays with my wife. On Christmas Day in 1961 and 1962 I was in West Germany helping my country during our cold war with the Soviet Union, a war that ended in a cold stalemate. That stalemate continues to this day under different names and titles. I was in South Viet Nam on Christmas Day in 1970 and 1971, helping our country lose the war against North Viet Nam.

Just as an aside, I spend Christmas Day in 1950 and 1951 helping our country lose another war, the one ineptly labeled the Korean conflict, a conflict that cost more than 40,000 American lives over four years of fighting, a conflict that ended in a stalemate that exists to this day. Apparently stalemates run in our national history.

Yesterday was the fifty-eighth Christmas since I met and married my wife, the love of my life. It was only the fifth Christmas that I did not spend with my wife and my family. My wife died last month on the eighteenth day of November, and I spent most of yesterday alone in the house we have lived in for the past twenty-two years, alone with the furniture, decorations, artwork, various collections and photographs, my wife’s clothing and other personal articles, and our memories we accumulated over the past fifty-eight years of our marriage.

I spend most of Christmas day at home, but I accepted an invitation to enjoy a Christmas dinner with one of my three daughters and her family that live nearby. Earlier in the day I visited my wife at Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery. I had planned to place a beautiful plant that our neighbors to the west, the finest next-door neighbors in existence, brought over as a Christmas gift, a beautiful poinsettia. I wanted it to grace my wife’s grave, and I intended to tell her how kind and thoughtful the neighbors were to give us the plant.

I wanted to believe—no, I did believe—that she would know the flowers were there. I realized that the plant would last longer in the home than in the open, subject to heat and cold and lack of moisture, but I felt that its brief life in the open would be better than watching it age and wither in our home—frankly speaking, I do not have a green thumb, and it’s a given that any potted plant will not last long under my tutelage.

I visited my wife without the poinsettia. My previous perfectly plotted perverted poinsettia plan (I really do love alliteration) was abandoned when I stepped outside to check the weather . The air was bitterly cold and a strong blustery wind was blowing, and I realized that the tall poinsettia plant would be lying flat and frozen even before I left the cemetery. I decided to let the plant remain in the home and take its chances with me, with the firm resolve to take flowers to my wife the following day, December 26, the day of her birth in 1932.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, but I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in death, Family, flowers, funeral, Military

 

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Revisited: An historic event? Oh, puhleeze!

Listen up, Fox News—there is no such thing as an historic event, an historical moment, an history book or an history teacher—they do not exist. There are such things as a historic event, a historical moment, a history book and a history teacher. As regards the proper—versus improper—use of a and an relative to preceding words beginning with an h, I made my opinion known to my adoring readers back in February of this year, and I am now generously bringing that opinion up from the Stygian darkness of past postings and into the bright light of today, and once again sending it up the flagpole in an effort to get someone—anyone, but especially the brilliant news readers and personal opinion sharers on Fox News—to salute it. Yes, I know that I used an preceding the h in  the previous sentence, but there are always exceptions to a rule—that phrase, an h, is one of two exceptions that immediately come to mind. The other exception is an hour—those are exceptions, nothing more, and they do not  justify the continuing use of an to precede all words beginning with an h. See? There it is again!

Fox News is the only news channel available on my television, the result of the restrictions placed by my cable provider at my request. I have absolutely no interest in any news outlet other than Fox News. If I can convince the talking heads on Fox News to use the correct article in conjunction with the words history, historic,  historical, etc., my efforts will not have been in vain.

My original post follows:

An historic event?

Oh, puhleeze!

During the recent and still continuing snowfalls across the country, talking heads on television, weather forecasters in particular, have repeatedly characterized and continue to characterize snowstorms and snowfalls as an historic storm and an historical snowfall.

In the storied (and some say fabled) history of our nation there has never been an historic event, nor has there ever been an historical event. Never. Not one. I can clearly remember reading about historic events in a history book—World War II, for example, and the wrecks of the Titanic and the Hindenburg, the solo flight across the Atlantic by Charles Lindbergh, and Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent to the top of Mount Everest. I found all those historic events in a history book, but I have never found one in an history book.

If we insist on dropping the H  and saying an historic event, we should apply that rule to all words beginning with H—that would give us an Hoover for a vacuum cleaner, an Hoover for president, an harp for music, an heaven to which we should all aspire, and on and on, ad infinitum.

I realize that such terms as an herb and an herb garden are firmly entrenched in our English language, in spite of the fact that many distinguished speakers and writers refuse to deviate from the terms a herb and a herb garden. Two of those distinguished people immediately come to mind—both Martha Stewart and I refuse to say an herb—we are sticking to a herb. That’s not one of my neighbors—that is the Martha Stewart, a widely known decorator and gardener, and an accepted authority on everything, including herbs, herb gardens and stock market trades.

If both Martha Stewart and I refuse to drop the h in herb in order to use the an rather than the a, that should provide sufficient reason for everyone else to step out of the an line and into the a line—one only needs to take a teenie weenie baby step to move from an egregious wrong to a resounding right—a step from left to right, so to speak. On serious reflection, such a move would be beneficial in other venues, particularly in the political arena.

Folks in Great Britain speak English, albeit English that in a large measure has not kept pace with the times, has not evolved over time as has our use of English to communicate. English-speaking people in Great Britain tend to drop their aitches, particularly those speakers of cockney descent.

The following joke clearly illustrates that tendency (please forgive me for the joke, but I must use the tools that are available to me):

During World War II an American soldier was strolling on the beach with a lovely British girl he had just met. A strong breeze was blowing off the water and the girl’s skirt billowed up over her waist. This was wartime and many products, ladies undergarments for example, were in short supply, hence this lady wore nothing under her skirt. The soldier took a quick look, but not wanting to embarrass her, quickly looked away and exclaimed, “Wow, it’s really airy!”

The girl snapped back, “Well, wot the ‘ell did you expect? Chicken feathers?”

I realize that returning our population to the proper use of a and an is a task that far outstrips Hercules’ assignment to clean the Augean stables. In comparison with Hercules’ assignment to clean the stables in one day, this one will require a tremendous amount of shoveling. Had we two rivers adjacent to the stables as Hercules did, we could divert the  streams to and through the stables as he did, and thus clear up this problem of deciding whether a or an will precede words beginning with an H.

Alas, we do not have the two rivers available for our use, but we do have shovels. I will continue to wield my shovel as long as the misuse of a and an exists, but I sure could use some help!

Oh, just one more thought—the first objection to saying a herb rather than an herb usually involves and invokes the word hour. I readily agree that nobody ever says a hour—they always say an hour. I accept that, but I do not accept it as justification to say an herb. An hour is simply an exception to the rule, exceptions that all of us must recognize and accept.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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Repost: President’s job outsourced to India . . .

This is a reposting of the original posting dated in September, 2009. I’m repeating it now because it has been covered by the passage of time and I’m bringing it out into the light for others to enjoy—or not enjoy, as the case may be. Comments in bold are mine. This is great satire—all satire requires a reader to maintain an open mind—forget politics and enjoy!

This is the original posting—click here to read the original as posted last year.

I just retrieved this from my saved e-mail and decided to share it with other bloggers and blog readers. The e-mail was not attributed or signed. It is presented exactly as I received it, and I welcome all reader comments, whether positive or negative.

Washington, DC

July 4, 2009

Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of September 1, 2009.

The move is being made in order to save the president’s $400,000 yearly salary, and also a record $750 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead that his office has incurred during the last 3 months.

It is anticipated that $7 trillion can be saved to the end of the president’s term. “We believe this is a wise financial move. The cost savings are huge,” stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). “We cannot remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay,” Reynolds noted.

Obama was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time.

Gurvinder Singh, a tele-technician for Indus Teleservices, Mumbai India, will assume the office of the president as of September 1, 2009. Mr. Singh says he was born in the United States to an Indian father and an underage American girl but has been unable to produce a birth certificate. “No matter,” declared a spokesperson for Congress. “We’re sure he’s eligible for the position.”

He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month, but no health coverage or other benefits. It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night. “Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the Dell Computer call center,” Mr. Singh stated in an exclusive interview. “I am excited about this position. I have always hoped that I would be president.”

A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of the president, this should not be a problem as Obama has never been familiar with the issues either.

Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to effectively respond to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issue at all. “We know these scripting tools work,” stated the spokesperson.

“Obama has used them successfully for years, with the result that some people actually thought he knew what he was talking about.”

Obama will receive health coverage, expenses and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two-week waiting period, he will be eligible for $140 a week unemployment for 26 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Obama has been provided with the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Obama may have difficulties in securing a new position due to a lack of any successful work experience during his lifetime.

A greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Obama’s extensive experience at shaking hands, as well as his special smile.

The outsourcing was effective the first of September, just as the president was coming off his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a very funny story, and had it really happened I certainly could empathize with him—I have, at various times over 48 years in the workforce, returned from vacation to find a name other than mine on my office door and another person sitting at my desk.

Bummer.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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A letter to Sue . . .

A long-time friend and neighbor of our daughter—the princess that lives, loves and works in Virginia—relocated with her husband from Virginia to Alabama, and that relocation prompted this letter. I’m posting it now in order to record our respect and love for her, and for her friendship and love for our daughter. For many years she and our daughter provided a safe port for each other, a haven to protect one another through all weather, either fair or foul, whether in or out of their neighborhood. They still maintain that friendship, over a considerable distance than before. Our daughter created a keepsake album for Sue, and this letter was our contribution to the album.

This is the letter, exactly as originally written:

Dear Sue,

We’re glad to hear that you’ve found a new home so quickly, and we wish you every success and happiness in your new location. However, we are sorely disappointed that we won’t have the opportunity to spend more time with you—the time we had with you on our visit with Cindy several years ago was all too short.

With your permission (actually, you have no choice in the matter), we will use our space in your album to tell others what sort of a person you are and perhaps in the telling others will learn what sort of people we are. We used the alphabet (English, of course) to describe the characteristics we observed in the brief time we had with you. We also formed some opinions and cemented others in many conversations with Cindy (yes, we talked about you). You’ll note that the adjectives are all positive—no matter how we searched, we couldn’t come up with any negatives.

Twenty-four of the twenty-six words came easy, based on our visit, conversations with Cindy, and our observations of you in numerous photos sent by Cindy—Weedette meetings, costume parties, chocolate parties, painting parties and more—oh, and in the glamor photos Cindy sent, of course.

The two letters in the alphabet which gave us some heartburn were X and Y, so we referred to the American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, an item which I “accidentally” packed with my personal files when I retired. It’s appropriately marked PROPERTY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. We gave the government 48 years, so we figured that was enough to compensate for the loss of the dictionary.

In the remote possibility that you are not familiar with “zingy” and “xanaduic,” we’ll save you a trip to the dictionary: American Heritage defines zingy as “pleasantly stimulating, especially attractive or appealing.” Xanadu was a bit more difficult—the word is defined as “an idyllic, beautiful place.” We felt that the term could be applied to a person as well as a place, so we coined a new word— xanaduic (we briefly considered “xanaduish,” but somehow it lacks the dash and verve—panache, if you will—conveyed by “xanaduic”).

Here are the 26 words we feel will afford others some insight into your character and personality— if you disagree with any, we’ll be glad to discuss—as in argue—them with you.

Affable                Judicious              Sagacious

Beautiful            Knowledgeable    Tactful

Charming           Lighthearted        Unassuming

Delightful           Merry                     Vivacious

Effervescent       Neat                        Wise

Friendly              Open-minded       Xanaduic

Genuine              Perspicacious        Youthful

Heartwarming   Queenly                  Zingy

Iridescent            Righteous

We’ll wrap this up by wishing you and Steve the very best that life has to offer, including health, wealth, long-life and happiness. If you’re ever in our area, drop in—we’ll leave the light on for you.

Mike and Janie, the Queen and King of Texas

(Appointed and anointed by Debbi Coney — thanks, Debbi!).

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Barbara Frietchie and Robert E. Lee . . .

In January of this year I sent an e-mail containing John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, Barbara Frietchie, to a friend that lives in Alabama. She acknowledged receipt of the e-mail and replied as follows:

Wow! What a beautiful story of pride, loyalty and courage! Thank you for sharing this poem. I’m sending it on to several of my friends up in Northern Virginia.

She also asked who commanded the troops that entered Frederick, Maryland during the War between the States—I use that title because as yet I have learned nothing about the war that could be considered civil.

I responded to my friend with this e-mail:

Subject: Barbara Frietchie . . . . .

The troops in Whittier’s poem were General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates, led by General Stonewall Jackson. I was introduced to Barbara Frietchie in elementary school—not the real Barbara, just the poem—somewhere around the fourth grade. I’ve forgotten most of the poem, but for some reason these two verses took root: Shoot if you must this old gray head . . .  and, Who touches a hair of yon gray head . . .

And now for the benefit of anyone not familiar with the poem, here it is:

Barbara Frietchie

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,
Fair as the garden of the Lord,
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde.

On that pleasant morn of the early fall,
When Lee marched over the mountain wall,
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead,
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.
“Halt!”—the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
“Fire!”—out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807—1892)

Some final notes:

Given the present demographics of Maryland, Barbara Frietchie could well have been an African-American. Could be—so much of our history is being rewritten that anything is possible (click here for George Orwell’s 1984). Future research online may find that the lady that made the first flag was an African-American—whether true or untrue, that would become part of our revisions of American history.

If the revisions continue, eventually George Santayana’s time-worn statement that Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it will take on new meaning—learning and repeating revisionist history will do little to advance civilization and our standing in the world order.

If I fail to learn history and I am doomed to repeat it, I prefer to repeat the history of the founding of our nation. I do not wish to fail to learn and repeat history that has been revised, and in the revision process has cast aside many of our basic values, and distorted and diluted others.

That’s my opinion—what’s yours?

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Botswana’s urinals—Project LOU . . .

Botswana’s urinals—Project LOU . . .

My 10-day stay in Botswana in 1985 was at once professionally productive, entertaining and educational, fruitful and frustrating. I was frustrated by the ever present fleas and swarms of flies and other flying insects, the stench of the open market, the unpaved thoroughfares in the city, and particularly by the heights at which urinals were affixed to the walls of men’s restrooms at the Holiday Inn complex where I was housed.

Allow me to explain:

I could find no statistics for the average height of adult male Botswana natives, but from personal—and close up—observation during my stay in that country, I estimate their average height to be at least six feet—72 inches or more. I concluded from my observations that even boys and girls in their mid-teens tend to equal or surpass the height of the average adult American male—that worthy tops out at five feet, nine inches.

As one might reasonably expect, the installation of urinals in Botswana, or any other country, would and should be accomplished by professional plumbers. Get the picture? Urinals in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana in which I spent 10 days in 1985, were therefore installed at a height acceptable to males native to that area. Given the fact that I am a mite short—so to speak—of the average height of the adult American male, just consider how short I would be—again, so to speak—of the height of adult males in Botswana. I’m sure you get the picture now.

In spite of the disadvantage posed by misplaced urinals, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Gaborone, and I found imaginative ways to overcome any disadvantages that I faced—once more, so to speak. Should the opportunity ever arise I would happily visit that city again, only this time with the hope and the expectation that enough vertically challenged immigrants had entered the country, legally or otherwise, to justify Project LOU: Lowering of the Urinals.

Previous postings dealing with my outing to Botswana may be viewed at these sites: Sojourn to Botswana and  I married my barber,

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

More highlights of my trip are in the works—stay tuned!

 
 

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An historic event? Oh, puhleeze!

An historic event?

Oh, puhleeze!

During the recent and still continuing snowfalls across the country, talking heads on television, weather forecasters in particular, have repeatedly characterized and continue to characterize snowstorms and snowfalls as an historic storm and an historical snowfall.

During the recent and still continuing snowfalls across the country, talking heads on television, weather forecasters in particular, have repeatedly characterized and continue to characteriz snowstorms and snowfalls as an historic snowfall and an historical storm.

In the storied (and some say fabled) history of our nation there has never been an historic event, nor has there ever been an historical event. Never. Not one. I can clearly remember reading about historic events in a history book—World War II, for example, and the wrecks of the Titanic and the Hindenburg, the solo flight across the Atlantic by Charles Lindbergh, and Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent to the top of Mount Everest. I found all those historic events in a history book, but I have never found one in an history book.

If we insist on dropping the H  and saying an historic event, we should apply that rule to all words beginning with H—that would give us an Hoover for a vacuum cleaner, an Hoover for president, an harp for music, an heaven to which we should all aspire, and on and on, ad infinitum.

I realize that such terms as an herb and an herb garden are firmly entrenched in our English language, in spite of the fact that many distinguished speakers and writers refuse to deviate from the terms a herb and a herb garden. Two of those distinguished people immediately come to mind—both Martha Stewart and I refuse to say an herb—we are sticking to a herb. That’s not one of my neighbors—that is the Martha Stewart, a widely known decorator and gardener, and an accepted authority on everything, including herbs, herb gardens and stock market trades.

If both Martha Stewart and I refuse to drop the h in herb in order to use the an rather than the a, that should provide sufficient reason for everyone else to step out of the an line and into the a line—one only needs to take a teenie weenie baby step to move from an egregious wrong to a resounding right—a step from left to right, so to speak. On serious reflection, such a move would be beneficial in other venues, particularly in the political arena.

Folks in Great Britain speak English, albeit English that in a large measure has not kept pace with the times, has not evolved over time as has our use of English to communicate. English-speaking people in Great Britain tend to drop their aitches, particularly those speakers of cockney descent.

The following joke clearly illustrates that tendency (please forgive me for the joke, but I must use the tools that are available to me):

During World War II an American soldier was strolling on the beach with a lovely British girl he had just met. A strong breeze was blowing off the water and the girl’s skirt billowed up over her waist. This was wartime and many products, ladies undergarments for example, were in short supply, hence this lady wore nothing under her skirt. The soldier took a quick look, but not wanting to embarrass her, quickly looked away and exclaimed, “Wow, it’s really airy!”

The girl snapped back, “Well, wot the ‘ell did you expect? Chicken feathers?”

I realize that returning our population to the proper use of a and an is a task that far outstrips Hercules’ assignment to clean the Augean stables. In comparison with Hercules’ assignment to clean the stables in one day, this one will require a tremendous amount of shoveling. Had we two rivers adjacent to the stables as Hercules did, we could divert the  streams to and through the stables as he did, and thus clear up this problem of deciding whether a or an will precede words beginning with an H.

Alas, we do not have the two rivers available for our use, but we do have shovels. I will continue to wield my shovel as long as the misuse of a and an exists, but I sure could use some help!

Oh, just one more thought—the first objection to saying a herb rather than an herb usually involves and invokes the word hour. I readily agree that nobody ever says a hour—they always say an hour. I accept that, but I do not accept it as justification to say an herb. An hour is simply an exception to the rule, exceptions that all of us must recognize and accept.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Gardening, grammar, Humor, proper english, wartime, Writing

 

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