Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On the Move

I am nearly all moved into my new apartment and have begun to restock my bookshelves. I made the mistake early in life of loving to have books all around me. I think it was my Dad who instilled that impulse in me with his extensive religious libraries at home and at his various offices over the years. I love it except when I have to move them. Then not so much. In my next life, I'm collecting butterfly wings.* * * * * * * * * *Among the items I unpacked were my tiger cowrie shell with the Lord's Prayer in raised letters on the surface. A FB friend said the artist likely wrote the prayer with a liquid that blocked an acid wash under the letters and which mildly eroded the remainder of the shell surface. I found some for sale on Ebay and while they're not all that expensive, they are very cool. The cowrie shells are common in the South Pacific. My dad gave that to me many years ago. Another find was a tiny book of some of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poetry which was given by my great grandmother to my grandmother in the early 1900s. Mabel was my grandmother's name and the book was a gift it appears for a birthday. An internet source showed the Valentine and Sons Limited company had an office in Dundee, Scotland. The coat of arms on the cover of the book is from Shropshire, England, though, and my grandmother lived in Wales as a child.
I'm still gradually moving the remainder of my earthly possessions from my sister's house each time I teach out at the Elkhorn campus, but will get classes at Sarpy MCC and the South Omaha campus as they become available. * * * * * * * * * While huddled with my mother in the lower level of the eye doctor complex due to a tornado warning last Thursday, a woman whom I met many years ago who displayed my art in a book store she owned, saw me. She works at the optometry center now. She walked over and said hi to me and remarked that she still has one of my paintings hanging in her house! Always nice to hear that from a patron! * * * * * * * * * Garrison Keillor on Hilary Clinton - "What some people see as a relentless quest for power strikes me as the good habits of a serious Methodist. Be steady. Don’t give up. It’s not about you. Work for the night is coming."

Monday, September 05, 2016


I wrote this piece to read in church last Sunday as part of our First Central Congregational UCC writer's group producing parts of each week's liturgy.........the theme of the day was Words. : * * * * * * * * * * * Contemporary reading. “Godspeak” Bud Cassiday * * * * * * * * * * God speaks in many languages. The Word of God can be heard when children laugh. The Word of God can be heard in whispering leaves, rushing water, and distant thunder. A baby’s cry might be God speaking. A coyote’s howl in the night might be God speaking. A cold winter wind might be God speaking. The music of a busker on the corner playing a saxophone for coins might be God speaking. The raucous noise of an urban Saturday night might be God speaking. A hot summer breeze might be God speaking. Rattling dishes in the cupboard from an earthquake in Oklahoma oil country might be God speaking. The drip, drip, drip of melting glaciers might be God speaking. We should listen to gentle rain, and squawking geese, and honking horns of traffic jams. We should listen to wind and rain and distant thunder and music and poetry and the creative spirits we hear all around us. We should listen to sunny days and dark nights, spring mornings and winter evenings. For if we do not, we may miss those words of God.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Importance of Peanutbutter-covered Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

Donald Trump appeared to waffle on immigration deportation this week claiming he was both softening and hardening his position. One of his spokespersons said he was saying the same thing, he was just using "different words." As a result, some of his supporters threatened to kill him. * * * * * * * * More weird Donald Trump stuff. Hillary Clinton gave a speech calling Trump a racist. No Republicans came to his defense. * * * * * * * * * Turns out I might have more net worth than Trump. * * * * * * * * * I read a report that said Michelle Bachmann is giving Donald Trump foreign policy advice. That's something like a potato giving advice to a tree stump. * * * * * * * * Donald Trump yesterday accused Hillary Clinton of being mortal. "She's going to die, you know," Trump said. "Sooner or later. 100% chance. You should vote for me instead." * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump says he "wants to debate very badly." My guess is he will. * * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump convened an emergency meeting this morning with his top advisors to best determine how not to take advantage of all the issues with Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation being reported. "We know it's like manna from heaven, but we are quite sure we can figure out a way to blow this. Maybe we'll have Donald praise President Obama's deportation record. Maybe we'll raise the rent on the Trump Towers office space Donald rents to the campaign. Maybe we'll have Donald ask for black voters in front of all white audiences. Maybe we'll have Donald spend $55,000 of the campaign's money to buy his own book from Barnes and Noble. Stay tuned. We'll come up with something." * * * * * * * Turns out that while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton met three times with Muhammad Yunus, “a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest ‘microcredit’ for poor business owners.” Outraged Republicans vow to fight. * * * * * * * * * Ben Carson called Donald Trump "elderly" yesterday and said he should he should release his medical records.* * * * * * * * French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkosy says if he is elected, Muslim women will be required to go topless on all French beaches. * * * * * * * * * * On a personal note, this happened to me the other night and I have recorded my feelings in this matter: Oh man. I just walked downstairs with my peanut-buttered piece of cinnamon swirl raisin bread toast and realized I left my glass of milk upstairs. Dilemma - if I go back up to get the milk, then the temperature of the raisin bread toast will have fallen in the 20 seconds it takes to go back up and down the stairs. But if I eat the raisin bread now, I'll have to delay the drink of cold milk that is so perfect after a bite of peanut buttered raisin bread toast, thus delaying my gratification. I know what you are thinking: first world problem. Nevertheless, I've learned my lesson, am going upstairs now, having eaten my cinnamon swirl raisin bread toast, for a cold glass of milk. Then on to band practice. When I get back home, I'll try it again. Some days are just harder than others.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Trump considering Ryan Lochte for Secretary of State

When asked if he had inappropriate connections with Russian oligarchs and President Putin of Russia, Donald Trump denied it: "нет, мы просто друзья и ты идиот думать, что .Путин потрясающий парень. " He later explained that his daughter vacationing with Putin's girlfriend meant nothing. * * * * * * * * * * Paul Manafort, Trump's second campaign manager, resigned last week and is now under investigation for his Russian money laundering operations. Prior to Manafort's resignation, Donald Trump announced he demoted Manafort, and replaced him with flame-throwing, Republican-establishment-hating, conspiracy theorist, Steve Bannon from Breitbart "news" as Chief Executive and Kellyanne Conway as Manager. Their goal apparently is to go back to the slash and burn strategy of the primaries. Ummmmm, probably won't work either in trying to portray a less volatile, less nutty, candidate.* * * * * * * * * * * * Trump supporter Rudy Guliani claimed that there were no successful radical Islamic terrorist strikes against the US until Barack Obama was President. I guess if you don't count that one on 9-11-2001, the worst terrorist attack in US history, that's sort of true, or the one in 1993, or etc, etc. Rudy said later he was using "abbreviated speech." Uh huh. * * * * * * * * * * More evidence that Donald Trump is deliberately sabotaging his own campaign was added today when Trump appointed Roger Ailes, currently being sued by dozens of female Fox News staff for sexual harassment, as his debate prep guy........* * * * * * * * * Shocking statistic: 79% of Americans would rather see their grocery check-out kid as President than Donald Trump. * * * * * * * Trump is campaigning simultaneously against the media, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican party. Doesn't seem like a formula for success to me. I guess we'll see. * * * * * * * * * Latest polls in New York state show Hillary up by bazillion % * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump received his first candidate briefing the other day from US Intelligence agencies. "I can't believe how incompetent those people are," he said. "What they told me is nothing at all like I heard on Fox News or read on Breitbart. What is wrong with those people?" * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump apparently spent 49 seconds distributing toys at a site in Louisiana today before flying out in his private jet. Governor of Louisiana not that happy with Trump's photo op visit. * * * * * * * * Donald Trump announced today he is considering swimmer Ryan Lochte for Secretary of State. "He's the kind of guy I need to implement my new foreign policy," Trump said. "He reminds me of my own two sons. In fact, he reminds me of me."* * * * * * * * * Donald Trump expressed confidence that he can double, even triple, his support among black voters "in the next 4 weeks" at a press conference today. When a reporter pointed out that he was currently at 1% support, Trump abruptly threw a laptop computer at the reporter,cancelled the press event, and walked out. * * * * * * * * * A student of mine came up with this most excellent phrase to describe a cash-strapped student: "He was so poor, he was eating store brand ramen noodles." I like that. * * * * * * * * * John McLaughlin died the other day at 89. I had mixed feelings about him. He had an engaging news panel show, but he was also the guy who invented the "news-pundits-yelling-at-each-other" format. That format has continued.............* * * * * * * * * *Um, apparently, the US refused to give Iran back a negotiated settlement of $400 million of its money until after certain hostages were released. To that, I say, "Good show!" * * * * * * *

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Donald Trump announced he has formed a new campaign consulting group charged with developing new and imaginative ways to insult key Republican constituent groups. "We've pretty much alienated and offended every other conceivable demographic, so we are targeting our most ardent supporters now," said one member of the new committee. "Obviously, targeting the parents of fallen soldiers was our first giant step in that direction. Dithering on endorsing stalwart Republicans was not nearly as effective, but we still managed to drive out billionaire mega-donor Meg Whitman and a few others. Insulting wounded veterans with that Purple Heart thing was another good start. One high point of our new strategy was kicking out a mother with a crying baby at a rally. If only she had been breast-feeding at the time, it would have been a home run!" * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump on nuclear weapons policy. This is a real transcript of his remarks, not parody. - "Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you're a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what's going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what's going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it's all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don't, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us." * * * * * * * * * * Trump said if Hillary was elected maybe some second amendment people who could remedy the situation. Serious people everywhere gasped. The Secret Service took notice and apparently contacted the Trump campaign. * * * * * * * * * * * The Secret Service announced that it is finding it difficult to recruit agents willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump. "We'll do the best we can, but the guy isn't making it easy," said a spokesperson for the agency. "Normally, this is considered a 'cream of the crop' assignment, protecting candidates for the highest office in the nation, but our best agents are having second thoughts." One agent was heard to say, "Hillary Clinton, sure. Ted Cruz, maybe, Jeb Bush maybe, even that weird Dr. Carson, but Donald Trump? No way." * * * * * * * * Donald Trump claimed today that Adolf Hitler was the illegitimate offspring of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "Many people are saying that," he replied when asked what evidence he had to back up that claim. * * * * * * * * * * Trump also claimed this week that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama created ISIS.......The next day he said he was just being sarcastic. The next day said he was only partly being sarcastic. * * * * * * * btw, this is my 300th blog entry!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Trump Promises to Deport His Wife If He's Elected

It was another strange week of Donald Trump's weirdness. A large conservative newspaper in Texas, The Houston Chronicle, endorsed Hillary Clinton. Trump claimed the NFL sent him a letter complaining about the debate dates - NFL denied it. Trump criticized a grieving mother who lost a son in battle. Claimed he had sacrificed too. Could not say what those sacrifices were. Said something making a lot of money. Trump got stuck in an elevator and was rescued by firefighters then later complained when Fire Marshall enforced room capacity maximums. Trump asked for a meeting with the Koch Brothers organization in Colorado and got turned down. Later claimed he turned it down. * * * * * * * Part of the grand Republican electoral strategy is unraveling. Voter restrictions aimed at minority voters in three states have now been overturned: Wisconsin, North Carolina, and North Dakota.* * * * * * * * * Nude photos of Melania Trump are floating around out there on the internet -- and she's very attractive. It's unclear whether it is her supporters or detractors who are behind it. What's gets me, though, is the memory of how upset certain Repubs were when Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress and the current lack of Repub outrage and tut-tutting about Melania's full exposure. And the issue of whether she lied about her educational achievement has gone silent...... It's all very weird. There were also reports Melania may have lied on her original visa applications and that she she may, therefore, be an illegal immigrant. We'll see how that plays out. Maybe Donald will deport her. * * * * * * * * It's probably not a good sign when major national and international newspapers are questioning not just your judgement, but your basic mental stability.............I'm just saying...............* ** * * * * * * *Trump kicked a crying baby and her mother out of a rally. * * * * * * * * * Joe Scarborough, Republican new personality, reported that Donald Trump really, really wanted to know why we can't just can't use our nuclear weapons since we've got so many of them. * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump claimed this week that if his proposed Muslim ban had been in place in 2001, the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9-11 would not have happened. He went on to say that if he had been President in 1960, we'd have gotten to moon in three years; that if he had been Abraham Lincoln, he would not have been assassinated; that if he had been President in 1929, the stock market crash, the dust bowl, and the Great Depression would not have occurred; that if he had been President in 1972, the Watergate burglars would not have been caught; and that if he'd been allowed to join the Army in 1969, we'd have won the Vietnam War.

Friday, July 29, 2016

"Putin? Never heard of him." - Donald Trump

I am a Bernie supporter, and I admire the man greatly, up to and including his support for Hillary Clinton. To young Bernie idealists/zealots - I know you are disappointed. The accomodations of politics brings many disappointments, but it's a long road with many twists and turns, includes dazzling moments such as one of the best Presidents in our history, Barack Obama. An old saw is that the perfect is the enemy of the good. The 2000 election of GWB and all the disasters that ensued is an example of that in my mind. But for a few thousand Nader/Green Party zealots in Florida and perhaps another state or two, Al Gore might have been elected and an alternate history of our country might have been written. Donald Trump is a dangerous fascist lying narcissist con-man who must not be elected........That's my story and I'm sticking to it. * * * * * * * * * * God weighed in on the US Presidential race last week and released a statement of support for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. "Although I personally liked the Jewish guy better, Hillary is still pretty good," God said. " Tim too. And Lord knows, being married to Bill was no picnic. But I can't stand that orange haired pompous know-nothing blowhard. Didn't like him when he was stealing that woman's home in New York City to build a parking garage. Didn't like him then; don't like him now." * * * * * * * * * * * Donald Trump's Russia connections were in the news this week. Early in his campaign Trump claimed to have a "relationship" with Putin. Uh huh. Trump is apparently deep in debt to Russian banks to the tune of several hundred million; his campaign manager has ties to Russia oligarchs in Ukraine. Trump said he'd "take a look" at legitimizing the Russian takeover of Crimean. And Vladimir Putin made Donald Trump an "honorary Russian" today. "He's my kind of guy," Putin said at the ceremony, seated on a horse, flexing his bare-chested muscles from his Crimean vacation compound. "With enemies like him, who needs friends?" Putin joked. Smarting from criticism of his Russia connections and for his call for Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's email, Donald Trump now claims he never met Putin.* * * * * * * * * * * Melania Trump is still reeling from plagiarism charges about her inclusion of portions of Michele Obama's speech in 2008. Her old website in which she claimed to have a University Degree was taken down and a new one put in place which documents her 3 PHDs, her 19 books on topics as diverse as 14th century Prussian ceramic art, 18th century Maldovian history, philosophical discourses Vol. 1 - 9, and thousands of her scholarly journal articles on topics such as nuclear power in the modern age, nucleotide formation in salt water marshes, hermaneutics, maritime imagery in New England Renaissance poetry, and many more. . Other notable additions included The Congressional Medal of Honor, information about her 5 Nobel Peace Prizes, 9 Pultizer Prizes, 12 Peabody Awards, and numerous other prizes and awards all of which prize money is donated to the Mother Theresa Foundation. * * * * * * * * ** * There were so many good lines at the Democratic convention but one that stands out for me is this one: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons." ~ Hillary Clinton