Thoughts and assorted philosophical musing about: Family, Friends, Fun, Hobbies, & other everyday things.
My continuing efforts to serve as a First Sergeant (Top) in the Army of God.
My latest interest is in Letterboxing.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Muddy Putty

This week:
The Good - I am still here to talk about it, Thank you God !!
The bad - most of it was spent in the hospital.

I have chronic heart failure, my heart played tricks on me again, culminating in my being admitted Monday evening. I survived but am all the worse for wear - further weakened heart muscles and a recalcitrant valve. It looks like I will need to cart oxygen around with me the rest of my life, but I could get lucky. That is funny 50 years ago "getting lucky" sure would have suggested something other than not needing to wheel a tank of gas around.

Speaking of years ago, I have been having a great deal if difficulty trying to collect my thoughts, feelings, and emotions over this. My mind for some wild reason keeps going back to song lyrics from my youth. As the only person that I know of who carries around an Ipod touch only to use as a PDA, I have never been accused of being music oriented. I don't understand this new side of me. Everything in my head is a mixed up mishmash now. One song that keeps coming to mind when musing about these events is "Cement Mixer Putty Putty".

The lyrics (as sung by Liberace) are pretty much nonsensical and not singable unless you have heard them (Original Jazz Version), but the concept of everything in my life being mixed together hodgepodge like a bucket of cement resonates with me right now.

A second song from long ago which I can't seem to clear out of my mind is "Detour (it's a muddy road ahead)". I had plenty of warning that an episode of Heart Failure was impending, but did not recognize or acknowledge the symptoms in time. So now I have to crawl out of the new muddy hole that I got myself into and reorganize how I deal with everyday life. How much simpler things would have been if I had heeded those detour signs, or perhaps had made a U-turn.

Monday, April 19, 2010

123 - Counting you and me

Ah - it is time for the decennial census again. I fully understand that the constitution requires the congress to establish a procedure for the population of our country to be enumerated every ten years. I do not have a problem with that, nor do I complain that many of the questions which have been included on the forms in recent years have been intrusive. However, several things regarding their procedures and questions do trouble me.

The stated primary purpose of having the census conducted is to insure that seats in the House of Representatives are allotted to each state in proportion to the number of voters in that state. By law only citizens are eligible to vote. Why then does the government require that the entire population be enumerated without regard to citizenship status? I see no problem with counting the entire population providing that citizenship status is indicated on the form. However, there is no question pertaining to citizenship status. Clearly this skews the results in favor of states with large populations that are not citizens. This is especially annoying as many of these non citizens are "Undocumented Workers" i.e., illegal immigrants. A secondary use of this data is to allocate funds for federal welfare and benefit programs - again to illegal immigrants and non citizens.

The majority of US States do not recognize same sex couples as being married, yet the Census Bureau has elected to allow these partners to reflect married status on their forms. Pardon me but it seems that this clearly corrupts the resulting data and compromises the application of it.

The effective date of the census data has changed several times over the 20 plus times that the population has been enumerated. Currently the data is to reflect status as of 1 April 2010. Our Government spent over a million tax dollars in an advertising campaign to get each household to complete the form and send it in. Way back in March, well before this 1 April effective date, reminders were received by mail and TV ads were being aired haranguing those who had not yet returned their forms. While we may speculate what the answers are likely to be in a week or two, we can not know for sure. In my view any form mailed prior to 1 April must be considered invalid. It makes me wonder who got what in return for this lucrative and clearly excessive advertising contract.

Please share your thoughts on this with me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ctrl+Alt+Delete

I usually spend a large portion of my day sitting at a computer attempting to accomplish a variety of tasks and/or pandering to my many interests. With the exception of an I-pod touch I have been a PC user as long as PCs have been around. I was a DOS user even with the predecessors of the PC such as my early Tandy TRS products. Windows was too slow for my liking and it used too much memory. Finally in the mid 90s I was forced to embrace Windows systems in order to have more productive applications.

Windows based computing has always been a crap shoot. Things tend to run along just fine until the most critical moment, then all active processes slow down, generate errors, or totally hang up the computer. When that happens often the only way to resume is to hold down the three key combination of "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" which then brings up a management screen allowing you to halt an application, a process, or to shut down the machine. If you shut down one of your choices "Restart" will stop everything and start over from scratch.

For many years I have been an active supporter of Conservative political principles. I worked as a precinct committee member, testified at legislative hearings, attended rallies and gatherings, contributed money for PACS and campaigns, and worked as a volunteer with election committees. All of this was done with the sincere belief that if the right people were placed into positions of power they would address all of my concerns. We have now had several complete changes of the power structure at the Federal level. With each change we are assured that the newcomers have a vastly different view of good government, that they will make it work better, and that they will fix all of the wrongs that are troubling us. Despite all of that campaign rhetoric and hyperbola, things just seem to go from bad to worse.

I went to a "Tea Party" event last Sunday afternoon. I do not think that (given our entrenched two party system) either a third party or a large number of Independents would succeed in cleaning up the mess. I have been converted to the extent of advocating that our only hope is to dump them all and to restart the system.

Do you suppose that "CTRL+ALT+DELETE" will work to shut down the political machine and restart the Federal Government?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Flower Watching

This last (Easter) weekend Donna & I were blessed to have each of our four children along with their complete families and/or significant others spend portions of the Holiday with us. We arranged to get all of our progeny together for a photo shoot. The group assembled at a local portion of the Cleveland Metro-park know as "The Music Mound". We took photos with three different cameras resulting in several very nice shots. Loren and his spouse Jennifer had their wedding at this same spot nearly 15 years ago so it was of special significance to them. The group also gathered together at a local restaurant on Saturday evening for a belated celebration of Damon's March Birthday.

I really enjoyed seeing all of the trees budding out and many of the fruit trees coming into bloom. Being out seeing this spring wonder reminded me of our years in Japan and in the Washington, DC area. In both of these venues we were fortunate to enjoy the annual blooming of the cherry trees.

In Japan enjoying the cherry trees, is of such significance that it is considered a time of national celebration and is know as Hanami i.e., "Flower Watching", or frequently O'Hanami. In the Nipponese (Japanese) language the addition a "honorific O'" prefix at the beginning of a term is a way of showing an especially high level of respect or honor to that object or individual.

The timing of the Cherry trees bloom is carefully monitored throughout the nation. The prime time to celebrate at every conceivable location is predicted. On the optimum days entire families gather together at the best nearby location to enjoy the absolutely stunning beauty of the Cherry Blossoms. These gatherings are normally at parks or temples. This is not viewing a tree here and a tree there...it is rows and rows of trees in FULL blooming glory. You look up, and in some areas you can't even see the sky because of the sheer number of light pink petals budding from every part of every branch. Looking beyond where you are standing, the horizon will be covered in PINK! It is breathtaking, I've never seen anything comparable. Those fortunate enough to experience this soon understand why the Japanese make such a big fuss over 'flower watching'---this is worth it!

Sakura (cherry blossoms)
You may recognize this from the opening stanza of Bon Jovi's Tokyo Road.
The freely translated Lyrics would be sometime like this


Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
On Meadow-hills and mountains
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the Spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come,
Let’s look, at last!

Typically it seems as though about 10,000 other people have decided to go to the park on the same day. So you look up to see the flowers covering the view of the sky---you look down and see thousands of people covering the grass. In some parts the green of the grass can't be see at all. Every patch is taken by people on "leisure mats" (picnic blankets), "O'bentos" (boxed lunches), lots of alcohol (This is one BIG party), snacks, kids, and pets. Amongst all of this there are people on bikes, maneuvering their way around the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.

Last year when thinking upon the cherry blossom season I prepared a letterbox which is now one of my seasonal garden boxes. After getting home from church Sunday I placed this box (Hanami) out for letterboxers to find and withdrew the Groundhog and St. Patrick day boxes until next year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Scream


I Scream, You Scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM !!

Yep, it is now official. I now know for certain that winter is over and summer is coming soon.

Hearing a strange noise, I looked out the window to find that one of the primary vanguards of spring arrived in our neighborhood today.