Archive - 2013

October 27th

Off to AZ

After a harried few days of social activity and packing, I am on the road. 

It is always tough to say goodbye to Aunt Olla, as she is 102 years old. I stopped at the Hilton this morning, and it took a while for my departure to sink in. 

Aunt Olla doesn't skirt the issue. 

"So, do you think I'll die before you come home?"

I said I didn't think so. 

"Time goes fast," she said, recovering her optimism. 

I don't want to exaggerate my importance, but it is both reassuring and sad to be missed by somebody that old. 

However, we've been having the same conversation every winter since she was 90. 

Aunt Olla is in good hands as my sister is home and takes great care of her, to say nothing of the great staff at the Hilton. 

Olla started listing them. 

"Well, I still have Truman!" she said of one of her favorite nurses. 

But, she confided, Truman, who is male, has apparently been overthrown by female staff. 

"The women are in charge here now," she said, ruefully. Not even the owner of the Hilton, Barry, has escaped unscathed by the revolution. 

"He's a nice guy, but once the women take over..." Olla's voice trailed off. 

This is a change of tune from earlier in the week when Olla was reminiscing about how lucky she was to be raised in a household without a father. 

"The neighbor kids always came to our house and stayed until four in the morning playing cards because Mama didn't care."

"If we had some old Norwegian dad in the house like everybody else, it would have been no fun at all."

She also added that her Dad, who died at age 40, leaving seven kids and a 35 year-old wife, wasn't much of a businessman and they wouldn't have hung onto the farm if Mama hadn't been forced to manage it by his death. 

Yes, all things work out for the best!





October 22nd

Indict Cheney, other news

•The introduction of torture of human beings as American policy has been one of the most shameful abandoments of our ideals in our history and it was primarily caused by one man: Dick Cheney. Cheney is one of the darkest figures in our recent political history. 

•The owners of the Minnesota Vikings are running an amazingly brazen con game to get the people of Minnesota to make them amazingly rich. And it is working. 

•Okay, it isn't the greatest campaign video, but this Texas judge has had enough.

•In news that affects only me, I completed my first colonoscopy yesterday. It took all of the rest of the day to sleep off the anesthetic. The procedure itself was, of course, not traumatic. The preparation was somewhat unpleasant. The thoughts provoked are more sobering: A colonoscopy is truly the last step into adulthood. You do it, not to get healthier, but to prevent illness. Most procedures––dental fillings, tonsillectomy, hernia repair––up to now have been to improve one's body. A colonoscopy does little more than stave off death. It is a psychological adjustment to act happy when the doctor tells you everything is normal. 

The procedure had an interesting random twist: A neighbor kid and former employee of mine, now in training to be a Physician's Assistant, showed up to watch! I could have said no, but I wasn't going to let him off the hook that easily. He now knows me inside and out, whether he wanted to or not.

October 21st

Hilton Report

Aunt Olla called yesterday morning.

"I just read in the Fargo paper that gays can get married!"

Yes, I said, in Minnesota, at least.

"Well, isn't that nice!" 

She informed me that her schedule was clear enough so she could see company again. I wasn't aware that it had been full, but I usually go in once per week. So, I went in yesterday afternoon. 

I was digging in her desk drawers looking for her wallet, which she very successfully hides from herself and everybody else, when I came across an envelope of pictures from the 1920s through the 1940s. I had never seen the pictures before, and many of them had no writing on the back describing who was in the picture.

I started handing the photos to Aunt Olla. The stories came back, ones I have never heard. One picture was of Olla and a friend rowing a boat on Lake Koronis in 1943.

"Oh!" Olla said, "Helen told me the dirtiest joke that day!"

Seems a man was in the shower and a knock came at the door, so he grabbed a picture off the wall to cover himself with while answering the door. The person at the door kept staring down at him and so the naked man said, "What you looking at?"

Turns out the frame was empty. 

That's a pretty racy joke, at least by Aunt Olla's standards. 

I found two pictures of a boyfriend I never knew she had. "He was a nice guy, but not very bright. I didn't..." and she faded off shaking her head.

She's complaining about her hair, which is pretty long. I set up appointments, but then I think she cancels them because she's certain that all the hair dressers have taken to drink. Not sure what to do about that. Breathalyzer? 

Bring back home ec

I don't think some young people today know how to boil an egg. A good article here

When I went through high school, junior high home economics was still cooking and sewing. Nothing wrong with that at all. But it was also completely segregated. Although some girls had rebelled in the 1970s and registered for industrial arts, only one did in our class and she was resisted by the administration of the time. One year later, thanks to her example, everything changed and several boys enrolled in home economics without resistance. (I should note that the upper grades featured a lot of girls taking construction trades, etc.) 

What should not have changed is the downplaying of nutrition, food preparation and the running of a household. Credit card use should be an entire chapter. Savings. Insurance. Stocks. 

We did taxes as seniors, and that was useful. 

Most of us just need training getting through daily life, much less learning algebra. 

October 18th

Beneath Central Park

The amazing phenomena that is New York City just got more amazing as the tunnel that has been in progress for 43 years has been completed and Lower Manhattan's water supply is secured for generations. Look what lies beneath the leafy 778 acres of Central Park. 

Or, maybe...Sarah!

Watch this video of our near-Vice-President and try to distinguish it from this legendary video

We need a beauty queen for president!

And the winner is...Jennifer!

A fascinating map

Rumors and lies

There are lots of rumors about the Obamacare "disaster," (the website has been a disaster) and, from Sean Hannity, pure lies. Provable, verifiable, blatant lies. Anybody who takes that clown seriously should check out the article. 

October 17th

Background on End Times

A weblog reader and retired Presbyterian minister submits some interesting background on the End Times movement, as well as the truly troubling Christian Reconstructionist Movement: 

"I've just been reading the article cited in your blog, regarding the End Times scenario being run by the Tea Party Republican faithful.  I was reminded of two things:

First, an article a couple of days ago in The Huffington Post deals with the influence of Christian Reconstructionism in current House Republican struggles.  Short lines of descent connect Ted Cruz & Co. with purveyors of this "gospel," which encourages the replacement of our present system of government with a Taliban-like system based on the Bible.

Second, I am reminded of my own study in the Palestinian politics of Second Temple Judaism (post-exilic to 70 CE) and the frequent eruptions of apocalyptic movements during that period.  This was the seedbed of movements led by John the Baptist, Jesus, and James (Jesus' brother, who led the early Christian community in Jerusalem that eventually faded out as the Ebionite heresy in the 4th Century CE), all of which began with charismatic leadership--though differing in significant ways from the Zealots who eventually brought down the wrath of Rome upon their land.

Such movements arise, particularly among groups that feel oppressed by governing authority, in many periods of history.  Muslim extremists in many lands today, Jewish "greater Israel" parties, and Christian reconstructionists in this country all share the aim of replacing existing arrangements with radically new ones.  All find grounding in their respective Scriptures.  Assad's regime in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, etc., all fear these people.  So what we're seeing is not new.  

As a growing boy in poverty-stricken rural MN back in the 1930s, I was exposed repeatedly in church services to end-time scenarios based on the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation--two documents originally produced in times of mortal crisis for Jewish (Daniel) and Christian (Revelation) communities undergoing persecution for their stubborn resistance to assimilation into the dominant imperial cultures of their days.

My study group has been reading a book, The Evolution of God, written by Robert Wright, that discusses this issue, among many others.  

The Washington governance community, no matter which party is in the majority, is always sensitive to the possibility of revolutionaries, but in the current atmosphere, the revolutionaries have inseminated the Congress, in the persons of the Tea Party elected officials.  It's the biggest constitutional crisis I've seen since the Nixon administration's firing of several top officials back in the 70s.  That was a Presidential problem; this one's a Congressional one, which is going to take elections to fix.  Unfortunately, the next general election is a year away.  Looks like a long year ahead!"

After I wrote him asking to post the above, he added much more background, including the following insight into the book of Revelation:

"Revelation is the book that closes the NT, though it was far from being the last of those documents to be written.  Marcus Borg's Evolution of the Word presents evidence that it was written around 90 CE to a group of churches in what is now western Turkey.  But the pictures it paints are cosmic in scope, and the theology is that of looming disaster.  Much of the city of Rome had been destroyed by fire in 64 CE, and the author foresees Rome's ultimate destruction using imagery dating from that earlier time.  But he interweaves themes from Daniel (written at the time of the Maccabean revolt around 165 BCE to inspire the Jewish rebels of that time) and other OT apocalyptic accounts, including even the plague stories from Exodus.  

So the apocalyptic genre (of which I've mentioned here only the canonical documents; there were many others) was a familiar one to those who believed themselves to be oppressed.  Historically, apocalyptic imagery has been very influential in Christianity (see the Wikipedia articles on "Book of Daniel" and "Christian eschatology"), particularly in times of real or perceived oppression.  (Senator Ted Cruz' rant this morning, which I viewed on C-SPAN, identified Obamacare repeatedly with Federal oppression.)"



One of the most unique and beautiful areas of our country, but one which, because it is difficult to capture in photographs, and because no interstate highway runs through it, is neglected: The Palouse