Monday, December 31, 2012

Snatching Health From the Jaws of Illness



For so many, 2012 was a year to leave behind.  The brightest spot for us was my daughter’s wedding!  Yeah!  But, the rest of 2012 was not all that easy in our world.  This seems to be a common experience.

So, what do we do?  So often, it seems that we look at difficulty as a survival of the fittest situation, that motivation for better comes from seeking to defeat someone else.  Competition is good, right?  Unfortunately, it all too often devolves into destruction of the other for the betterment of yourself.

Perhaps a better focus, a better motivation is not on victory and defeat, but rather on health!  Health is a cooperative venture and, as opposed to most competition, the betterment of your neighbor, not his destruction, contributes to the betterment of yourself.  Good health begets more good health.  Suddenly, killing the patient to discredit the doctor seems less palatable than competitive leadership at the top and undercutting at the bottom.

So, let me give you all this New Year’s wish:


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Difference Between Protest and Governing

There are two main groups of protestors that I'd like to focus on in America, for both serve similar purposes and balance my illustration.  The first group is the Tea Party and the second group is the Occupy Movement.

On the surface, some may see them as quite different.  They aren't.  Both have accomplished precisely what a protest is designed to do, put an idea in the public square, create a seed around which a crystal can form, a crystal that recasts the social spectrum.  In the process, each is trying to move something called the Overton Window, a concept I'll address in just a second.

The Tea Party properly got the nation to address our spend thrift and don't worry about tomorrow ways.  They also forced us to consider taxation and what those taxes go for.

The Occupy Movement on the other hand put the concept of the 98% vs. the 2% into common usage.  They helped us address the idea that the wealthy were destroying the country through their greed and by rigging the system.  They caused us to address the idea of whether the playing field was level at all.

So, what is this Overton Window I mentioned earlier?  It is the window on what we consider to be the balanced center.  In other words, the Tea Party moved it to the right, causing the country to view more conservative views as the center.  The Occupy Movement pushed back to the left toward a more liberal center.  Many historians know that Obama's domestic positions are actually slightly to the right of Richard Nixon's and the illusion that he is extreme left is an effect of the Overton Window position.

Past that point, many people misjudge protest purposes and their value, both from within these movements and from the outside.  The problem is that they expect these movements to translate directly into governance.  And therein lies the rub, the reason that we can no longer govern in any effective manner.

The art of governance is part public theater to emphasize positions.  At that point, it seems very similar to the protests mentioned above.  That better be the last similarity, or effective governance will not happen, for effective governance is actually done in the back room.  

Properly understood, we elect our legislators to start from our positions and our preferences and then go to the back room and negotiate solutions with members from across the aisle.  True, we prefer they don't compromise more of our positions than is necessary, but we want them to work it out in a timely manner, keep the economy and the railroads running, to further the cause of all Americans.

Instead, one of the protest groups elected members to continue with their protest.  The Tea Party began electing members that were not going to compromise anything in the back room.  They were going to state their protest position in the theater and then stick absolutely by it come hell or high water.

This drew similar response from the left and push back came.  But, not a lot of back room negotiations and compromise.  No, for people on the left were angry and just couldn't see the sense in it any longer.  What neither side can even consider, lest they not be reelected, is that sometimes an excellent legislative body can enter private chambers with two opposing positions and come up with a solution better than either alone entered with!

It has led us to the Fiscal Cliff.  Some are viewing through one Overton Window and some through the other.  Never the twain shall meet!  It's a shame to throw ourselves under our own bus out of this spite on both sides.

Quit protesting and start governing, dammit!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Death of a Dear Friend, Lila Paslay

In Memory of Lila Paslay

I am deeply saddened to tell you about yet another death near us, the death of Lila Paslay, the mother of two of my dearest friends in the world.  She was a terrific secondary teacher, then counselor at the high school and later Executive Director of the Topeka Association for Retarded Citizens.  As with all good people, as impressive as the list may become, the litany of accomplishment is never the full story of their humanity.

When I would go to her house in Topeka while sharing a house with her son, Randy, she would light up and throw together a magnificent meal as though there was nothing to it.  We would eat and talk and share.  She was highly intelligent, full of social grace while being totally genuine.

Last week, she was the picture of health.  Last weekend, she fell and broke her hip.  Then, yesterday, she had an aneurism and died.

Lila, you will be truly missed.

The End of the World


The World has meant the world to me.  Today is its last day.  Goodbye, World.

But, before I go with the big W, I have to ask these questions:

  • Will “when you go” depend upon which side of the dateline you live on?  I mean will New Zealand exit before India which will exit before Ireland which will exit before New York which will exit before California which will exit before Hawaii? 
  • If that is the case, can I just go to the North Pole and start hopping over the dateline continuously going into the past the same way I retrieved the Ring of Power for Ramana and Ursula’s nuptials? 
  • Is there a danger in doing this of falling off the other side of the Mayan Calendar and developing a pre-existing condition, the condition of not being yet?


This Friday topic was brought to us by LBC member Will Knott.  It could not be more timely ...

This past week, I am hardly alone in being touched deeply by the tragic events in New England.  How can you not be?  The senseless, violent death of so much innocence.

However, it brings to mind a very different picture.  Let me take a step back to the 1968, to the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam.  Until that time, the Viet Nam war was not a full presence in American living rooms, but it was from that point forward.  Night after night after night, the carnage would be shown on American television screens.  It mobilized many people, but it also did something else.  The war violence, the body count, became so commonplace, that seeing it on TV in the evening eventually didn't raise an eyebrow.  It just was a part of life, like breakfast and basketball.

This has happened to us again and the response to this tragedy makes it stand out in sharp relief.  Every night, those of us who live near urban environs see the body count.  This time, it is isn't in Viet Nam or Iraq or Afghanistan, it is on our own streets.  It is the death of mothers' children, the termination of futures never given a real chance to take hold.  And, as with Viet Nam, we simply look to see what else is on the news.  It is just more gang violence, after all.

The mothers hurt no less.  The families and friends are no less bereft.  It is no less tragic.

We need to find a way to be outraged at the loss as we should be.  We need to allow ourselves to be touched.  Maybe it will motivate us to help things change.  We eventually rejected the Viet Nam war.  We need to reject the street war.  We need to feel again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Death and Fear in America


The above is a Bushmaster .223 Assault Rifle.

One of my most respected sources of wisdom is from right here in our LBC, Padmini Natarajan.  To take one snippet from an article she referenced on Facebook that is very relevant to the American tragedy in our New England school this week:

“We need to address how we as a society are implicated in producing such appalling levels of violence …”

As much as I would love to see guns like the above off the street, many guns with the capacity to kill – albeit perhaps kill in smaller numbers – are available in many other nations, like Canada, that do not share our problem.  What is it in the American psyche that is leading to over 10,000 lives lost per year to gun violence?  In that sense and that sense only do I agree with the gun lobbies that it is not the guns we should focus on, but the people.

Here is the problem with the argument that “it is not guns that kill people, it is people that kill people”: those who push that argument do not want to pursue what the problem with a society and its people who commit so much violence really is.  They are really wanting to just not have guns restricted.

I have many questions in this regard, but very few answers.  What I am in favor of right now is constructive, intelligent dialogue backed by reason and facts about why we have this problem and what we can do about it.  It is my feeling that we have never actually had that discussion nationally and I am concerned that it will devolve into an emotionally charged mess of charge and counter charge leading nowhere.

Why?  I think it is because both sides of the issue are compensating for fear.  This will take honesty and courage and understanding across the great divide this issue presents.  One side finds only safety and comfort in the idea of no guns, especially guns of this type.  The other side finds only safety and comfort in the idea of superior fire power in the belief that human nature is human nature and that you must be more powerful than the next guy to be safe.  There are people in the middle who are quite responsible, but they tend to not carry the argument, because their position carries much less emotional charge than the extremes.  Hopefully, the power of the Presidency can provide the charge to reason that is going to be required.

Unless we can realize where the other side’s fear comes from, we can never develop understanding.  If we don’t develop understanding, then there will never be a solution.

Friday, December 14, 2012


This was brought to us this Friday by Grannymar.

It starts at birth.  If you are alive, you are at risk.  Now, death per se is not a risk - it is a certainty.  But, when it happens is where the risk comes in.  Since survival is our deepest instinct, we live with a dynamic tension.  I think that is no accident.  And death can be physical, emotional or social.

There are all kinds of risks, for any time there is something to lose, there is risk.  Now, the Eastern solution to this is to simply have nothing to lose.  The  Western ideal is to give it all to The Lord so that again, as individuals, we have nothing to lose.  The purpose of life in both cases is to realize that ultimately there is nothing to lose.

Part of me prefers the approach of Han Solo heading into a field of asteroids virtually impossible to navigate.  When C3PO tells him just how unlikely it is to make it to the other side, Solo says, "Never tell me the odds."  I like the idea of embracing creaturehood even though it seems hopeless, diving in even with everything to lose, checking the odds after the accomplishment.  In fact, to me that seems to be the point, for I think that to be creatures is the point of life, not an evil to be escaped.

As my father once told me, "Live!  Experience for as long as you can, for there is plenty of time to be dead."  And, before you get carried away thinking him a heathen, he believed in life after death and absolutely loved Christ.  He just refused to have the church package heaven for him and he sought understanding always on his own terms.  He wasn't interested in the odds, he was interested in the challenge, in the experience, in the truth as he discerned it wherever it led him.

That's pretty risky.  And very rewarding.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012




Today is the 12/12/12.  We have over the past few years had a series of these and I list them for you:

1/1/01; 2/2/02; 3/3/03; 4/4/04; 5/5/05; 6/6/06; 7/7/07; 8/8/08; 9/9/09; 10/10/10; 11/11/11 and today at 12/12/12.

And this is where it gets scary … there is no 13/13/13 possible!  Yes, you got that right, this is the end of the series.

This is the best proof I have seen that the world will indeed end as the Mayans say on December 21st.  Think about it.  12/21/12.

You see that pattern, right?  Right?

Friday, December 7, 2012


shackman brought us this Friday topic for the LBC.  I am glad for many reasons that shackman and I have reconnected recently, for this is a side of him that I did not know well at all.  We played basketball and did computer work.

However, bring up a topic and shackman will bring up a song to express something about it and what better expression can there be than music for feeling?  I think shackman has a 3-part brain rather than left hemisphere and right hemisphere alone.  He really seems to have a music hemisphere.

One of the biographical things about shackman is that he grew up in a very musical place, the San Francisco Bay Area.  We have produced some great music over the years and I can remember going with friends to Jazz nightclubs in Northbeach in the city.  While I have nowhere near the musical acumen of shackman, I enjoyed it immensely.

Well, the Bay Area spawned one of the Jazz greats that we lost yesterday, Dave Brubeck:

File:Dave Brubeck Notes.jpg

Brubeck studied music at Mills College about 10 miles from here and was living in the Oakland Hills right up to his death the day before his 92nd birthday.  He was composing detailed musical compositions and shows up through the age of 88 and the picture above really captures the man’s joy at life.  He was a true pioneer and perhaps his best known work is …

Take Five!

I’m glad you walked the earth, Dave!  You enriched us all.

I think I’ll take five …

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Warning All Long Distance Flyers Should Heed


We have learned what killed Tim and it should underline a warning for all of us who would take a long distance flight.  He developed a clot in his calf flying back from Uganda and a few days later it made its way to his lungs.  It is called Deep Vein Thrombosis.  That is what killed him.

I copy this information from the American Society of Hematology:

Clots & Travel

Blood clots can sometimes form in your legs during air travel because you are immobile for long periods of time, often sitting in cramped spaces with little leg room. While commonly referred to as “economy class syndrome,” the clinical term for this type of blood clot is deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). The longer the flight, the more at risk you are for developing a clot. Flights lasting 8-10 hours or longer pose the greatest risk.

In many cases, the blood clot will dissolve and go away on its own. However, in more serious cases, a blood clot formed in the deep veins of your leg may detach and travel to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE).

DVT and PE, collectively known as venous thromboembolism, are highly preventable (see prevention tips below). The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a Call to Action on DVT and PE to raise public awareness of these blood conditions and increase research on the causes, prevention, and treatment.

There are several symptoms that can be warning signs of blood clots, including the following:

  • Swelling of the leg, ankle, or calf
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Increased warmth over the skin

Am I At Risk?

Your risk of developing a blood clot during air travel is increased by the following:

  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Recent surgery
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • History of previous blood clots
  • Genetic predisposition to blood clots

How Can I Prevent Blood Clots When I Travel?

There are some simple steps you can take to avoid developing a blood clot while flying. Make sure to stretch your legs and get some exercise. You can do this by walking around the plane every few hours and changing positions in your seat. Also, drink lots of fluids and wear loose-fitting clothes that do not restrict blood flow and make it easier to move around.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages the night before traveling and during travel
  • Store your carry-on baggage in a place that will allow enough leg room
  • Try not to cross your legs
  • Wear compression stockings

If you plan on traveling soon and have concerns about getting a blood clot, talk with your doctor about your risks and prevention. Depending on your physical condition, genetics, and medical history, you may want to see a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in blood conditions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Inner Artist is Working His Way Out


I am getting ready to do some painting this next year.  My mother, my daughter and I like to paint.  But, I haven’t painted for years and I want to get back into it.

My mother got me a beautiful – and very large – easel for my most recent birthday.  It is not in the picture above, but that is a picture of me with a table-top easel doing some preliminary sketching just to get some of the feel back.

Now, to paint, first you have to move back to visualizing the world as an artist does.  That is what I loved with Grannymar’s recent sunset pictures, because she is seeing the world like an artist as when she goes to the countryside and city and does her photojournalism of the sculptures and architecture.  So, last week, I took a series of photos with a camera I carry with me at all times in a cargo pocket of my pants.  And, yes, I tend more to the utilitarian than the fashionable, LOL!

Here are my results.  First, a golden sunset:


Our sunsets gain their beauty from the marine layer over the Pacific and the sun setting below it.  At one stage, they will look golden as in the photo above from my front porch looking West.  At other times, they will look more red:


I’m also drawn to the autumn colors, whether Maple leaves strewn across a grassy area on one of our walks:


Or our tree out front showing its autumn beauty through our front window:


At other times, I will be drawn to a more surreal setting like this picture off of our patio of the moon in the clouds seen next to our solar powered Japanese style lantern:


At others, it will be a spontaneous response to something that catches the eye in the moment, like this seagull flying overhead:


It is gradually coming to focus for me and I will have plenty of subjects to consider.  This is a form of meditation for me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tim James, R.I.P.

Tim James


When your kids marry, families are joined and embraced.  When our son married, his new wife brought with her a fantastic family, loving and very caring of one another and of the world.  Key among them was her stepfather, Tim James.

Last night, Tim collapsed and died in his driveway.  It is a stunning shock to all of us.  He was only 48.

To tell you how good a man Tim was, he was a Christian in the best sense.  In other words, he quietly tried to live a life of service to humanity as he understood the meaning.  He was ordained in his church just a few months ago, along with his wife.  He served on missions to Uganda, but in extensive talks with him, he understood the necessity of accepting their culture and of not turning them into dependent welfare recipients.  They were teaching the people sustainable agriculture methods and I think working with them on sanitation practices.  He would travel there every few weeks.

We as a family are stunned and gather in close embrace, our only way to deal with this sad event.  The man will be truly missed.  But, I have to think that his God is welcoming him and telling him, “Well, done!”

Friday, November 30, 2012

Guest Post on Doom and Gloom

Maria, the Silver Fox, is – as used to be said in the old days of television – experiencing technical difficulties!  Therefore, her post on this week’s LBC topic:

Doom and Gloom – Be Gone

The subject for this week’s loose bloggers consortium is Doom and Gloom.   Since I have complained to everyone who would listen, that I was simply could not get into a holiday mood, Thanksgiving was preceded by my mood of doom and gloom.  Then Thanksgiving arrived and I found the day peaceful and exciting, and frankly, fun-filled.  Somewhere, sometime long ago in some anthropology or sociology course, I was told that every country has a winter celebration that makes the long nights easier and less depressing.  Well, this is hardly true for my friends down under, but I hope they are enjoying their sunshine and warmth while we back here in the Northern Hemisphere are gearing up for holidays that repress the doom and the gloom  

Perhaps in growing really older, I have found my pattern for  winter doom and gloom.   I am beginning to think of it as sledding.  I drag my heavy sled of doom and gloom up the hill the weeks before Thanksgiving.  I grumble and complain and whine.  Thanksgiving then is like a plateau.  It is that moment at the top of the hill when one looks around at all the beauty and says, “Wow”.  From there it is an exciting down-hill ride, with that sled accelerating ever faster.  The wind in my face, the runners on the sled imprinting both straight and parallel designs on the snow-white mountain make the very idea of doom and gloom vanish. 

Okay, between Turkey Day and Christmas, there are always those little bumps, my sled is likely to tip slightly to the right, slightly to the left, and occasionally needs a push to start again.  For me, Christmas is the safe arrival at the base of the mountain.  It is  finding a chalet with colorful lights, caroling music, and the best hot chocolate ever.   It is the welcoming home time for family and the time to share good times with friends.  For some folks the festivities go on to welcome in the New Year, but I’m one for hanging the sled back up in the darkness of the garage storage area long before New Years Eve secure in my knowledge that the days will grow longer, the snow on the  mountain will melt, and the love of family and friends would see me through the the rest of the cold and dark months.

Thinking back to my teaching days, I remember my winter holiday whining started with the first faculty meeting where we set a school calendar date for the Holiday Program each year.  I sounded like a cross between Scrooge and the Grinch.  The idea of another year, another program, oh doom and gloom!   Then returning from Thanksgiving break, I would find myself at that mountain top ready to  take the plunge down the slope only this time with thirty some little elves,  marching toy soldiers, or snowmen tagging along for the ride.  From then until the day of the program, I was making costumes and scenery, running rehearsals, and playing director.  In my mind, I rivaled Alfred Hitchcock. The slide down the hill to performance time was exhilarating.  The pride and joy of watching my students perform, heart warming.  On reaching home, I basked in the glory of their success and spent hours typing a sentimental letter of thanks to my students for their outstanding work and their thespian ability.  I also made a promise to my self  to hold onto the magic and remember not to whine next September.

If you are feeling the pangs of winter’s doom and gloom, I pray they will not last long and that your own slide down the hill to the winter holidays will be smooth and easy.  Packages to wrap, house to decorate, meals to plan.  I am off to Wal-Mart to maneuver my sled  through the crowd, to the cashier, and out the door.  A! little bump maybe on my ride, but  OUT OF THE WAY Mr. Doom and Mr. Gloom.  my sled is leaving the hill-top and gaining speed.  Happy Holidays Everyone.   

Curious about what others have written about doom and gloom.  I know I am.  Loose Bloggers Consortium posts can be found on the right hand side of my blog under Writers Consortium.  This should make for some very interesting reading.

Doom and gloom

This topic was brought to us by Padmini.  From another it would concern me.  From Padmini, no concern.

My mother’s brother died last night.  It is sad to say goodbye, but this world is the world of the living.  We will meet the dead in oh so many forms as we move on, but while we are alive, our mission is not complete.

So, tonight, rather than spend time working on a very worthy topic from a very worthy individual, I conversed with the living.  I spent hours on the phone talking with my mother about everything under the sun.

I really think that is what a person should do faced with the inevitable.  Face the truth, but don’t cultivate the dreary, don’t stoke the grief.  It will play out in its own time, in each person’s own way.

I salute my uncle and wish him well on his journey.  I embrace my mother, still on this mortal coil.  And, I move on with a deeper appreciation of what it means to be mortal and still alive.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

shackman’s company in the spam folder …

For some reason, my great friend shackman always goes to the spam folder.  Always.  It must be the shifty eyes.

Now, how is a guy to determine when comments go to the spam folder what is a legitimate comment and what is not.  I give for your examination a recent comment – fairly typical actually – in that folder and I leave it to you to determine whether you think it is spam or not:


I mean, it’s just so hard to tell …

Friday, November 23, 2012


This Friday topic is brought to the Consortium by Ramana.  I'm sad to say that I don't know what time the monsoons hit India, but I suspect I will find out today!

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have a Mediterranean climate which I believe exists in only five places in the world.  Water is very important to us, since that finite potable resource is competed for by the fishing industry, home owners, Central Valley farmers, the Delta, etc.  Our Mediterranean climate in part means that we get that water during our winter months, not the warm months.  The main storehouse is snow in the Sierra Mountain Range and we are just entering what we hope to be a wet winter with lots of snow to melt in the spring and summer, filling our reservoirs.

What controls the difference between wet and dry years?  To a large degree, the Pacific Ocean.  Even more specifically, conditions of the Pacific water warmth called La Niña and El Niño.

Our economy relies on it, our politics rely on it, we all rely on it.  We need rain.  Last year was dry!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving - and what I am personally thankful for

Stopping to consider the bounty of your life at the time of harvest is what Thanksgiving in America is all about.  For our family, it has become kind of a Fossil diaspora, with various Fossils in the Bay Area, Kansas, Napa and San Diego.

Usually, the Lady and I have Thanksgiving at our home and bring in her parents and brother and sister and any family they might have with them.  However, this past few months, all of our kids have been married and our daughter, whom I call Lafawnda on this blog, and her husband, Flash, are hosting our Thanksgiving in San Diego!  This gives them a chance to show us their new apartment:

Now we are getting down to the reality for me of what Thanksgiving always brings to my heart as a blessing: family itself!

It isn't always happy.  When I called my mother today, she had to give me the news that her brother had a massive stroke yesterday and that it doesn't look good.  When you embrace family, you embrace tragedy and loss right along with joy.

The Lady F called her mother in Napa, where she and the Lady F's siblings will have Thanksgiving dinner:

Meanwhile, Lafawnda and Flash used Skype to give holiday wishes to Flash's mom back in the Bay Area:

Then it was time for a nice walk before the sun went down and it was dinner time:

Yes, this is what I'm thankful for this day, people in my family to share life's journey.  What is blessing your day, regardless of where on this blue-green ball you live, whatever your traditions?

Friday, November 16, 2012


This is a topic I suggested for the Loose Blogger Consortium months ago.  We are never quite the same person we were months ago and this may as well be viewed as coming from someone else!  Smile


Family is, for all its mess and money and efforts and trials and tribulations and … well, for all of it, it is a pleasure!  This past 14 months, both of the Lady F and my kids have been married.  They expanded our family and multiplied our love in the process.  When they have kids, that will multiply it all the more!

And, our kids have friends, friends who at times have found themselves in need and have even lived with us for stretches.  Pleasure multiplied.

In this age of rapid reinvention, we have interconnected across the planet by means of the internet and social media.  I have reconnected with shackman after many a year, a reconnection that would never have happened without social media.  I glow with pride watching Elly, the daughter of Grannymar, speak for ideals whose time has come, as I remember our efforts in the 60’s.  The examples are many and continuous.

Through the interconnections with the brother and sisterhood we have developed over time through the LBC and beyond, pleasure and true family multiply exponentially.  Our family has grown to include so many of us who have interconnected and shared, people who will never meet face-to-face in all likelihood, but have met heart-to-heart.

That is why you will find pictures of trips our family has taken and invitations to see pictures from those weddings I spoke of.  As Sally Forth told her best friend above, this intimate sharing is only for family.  And you are all invited!

It truly is my pleasure.  That is why you will all be sharing Thanksgiving with us as we visit Lafawnda and Flash in San Diego this next week.  We will be taking you along!

Friday, November 9, 2012

This Will Be My Epitaph

This topic was brought to us by Maria the Silver Fox. I’ve never met Maria, but I’ve got to tell you, she is one of my favorite people from online interactions.  Period.

He was an Old Fossil in his life.

Now what?00

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to keep your kid from becoming a namby-pamby

We have been discussing corporal punishment and some see it as the cure for allowing a generation to grow up as namby-pambys!

First, what is a namby-pamby?  Here is some explanation derived from

Word History: We are being very literary when we call someone a namby-pamby, a word derived from the name of Ambrose Philips, a little-known 18th-century poet whose verse incurred the sharp ridicule of his contemporaries Alexander Pope and Henry Carey. Their ridicule, inspired by political differences and literary rivalry, had little to do with the quality of Philips's poetry. In poking fun at some children's verse written by Philips, Carey used the nickname Namby Pamby: "So the Nurses get by Heart Namby Pamby's Little Rhimes." Pope then used the name in the 1733 edition of his satirical epic The Dunciad. The first part of Carey's coinage came from Amby, or Ambrose. Pamby repeated the sound and form but added the initial of Philips's name. Such a process of repetition is called reduplication. After being popularized by Pope, namby-pamby went on to be used generally for people or things that are insipid, sentimental, or weak.

It is a real danger that we face, to be honest.  And, ironically, the danger is in overprotecting our children from danger!  Because of the way that danger sells news, it represents the world as dangerous everywhere!  It permeates our culture to the extent that children are never allowed to walk to school with other kids for fear that they will be abducted.  This, even though statistics show that this problem has not really increased over the years, but the reporting of it has!  Understanding this is important to realizing the source of the ailment.

When Lafawnda was a young pup of about 4, she went to a preschool class held by Miss Marty.  Miss Marty believed it was her job to teach children to not be afraid of the world and she was very good at what she taught!

For example, she took them out one day into a hilly area and took them hiking to the top of the hill!  It was a high, steep hill for a 4-year old, but she told them they had to make their way to the bottom.  If need be, they could slide on their butts, but if they really wanted to have fun, they would roll every chance they got!

The first time down, the kids were scared.  They didn’t want to hurt themselves, so they slid on their butts fairly carefully.  Until Miss Marty showed them that she could roll like crazy down that hill and live to tell about it!  Soon, everyone took the plunge and rolled all over the universe.

She had them climb trees, jump off of things.  When they got hurt, they were not coddled – nor were they belittled – but instead were encouraged to get up, dust off, and go at it again.  Part of Lafawnda blossomed!

A couple of weekends ago, our granddaughter was playing soccer when she was whacked pretty good with a kicked ball.  When her mother started to run out onto the field, I told her in no uncertain terms to stop!  This was a very valuable experience for a youngster, to learn to shrug off a little pain and jump back into the game – which she did.  In fact, she played harder than she ever had after that!

And that is the point.  Kids avoid becoming namby-pambys more from confronting the world in an adventurous way than from tolerance of corporal punishment.  Not that a swat on the butt is never called for, because some occasions call for it.  But, that is not the path to boldness for a child in my eyes.  No, the path to boldness is found in adventure and exploration and being taught to tolerate the price of scrapes and bruises that sometimes comes with it.  They quickly learn that the reward far outweighs the risk.  When I was a kid, all of us kept BandAid in business!

Now, I invite you to watch a video from a TED lecture on this topic.  The guy is a lousy lecturer, which is actually one of the things I like about him.  But, he goes for it in ways that will probably  have you laughing.  In part, you will be laughing at how outrageous he is, but you will get the idea!

If you can’t see this, try:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reflections on Corporal Punishment

We have uncovered a very important topic that I feel needs further examination, the topic of corporal punishment.  Here is the classic Old Testament prescription authored by Solomon:

He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes.

Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.

Well, the Old Testament and indeed human history, has seen its stages of development.  Dare I say evolution.  As we well know, this has brought a beautiful peace and discipline to the entire Middle East, the very birthplace of these views.

My father, an excellent and respected educator and principal, one who maintained discipline beautifully his entire career, used corporal punishment in the earlier days of his career.  He had a variety of paddles and as I reached the Middle School years, by mutual agreement, he would try out the stroke, the weight of the paddle and the design of the instrument on me, his football playing son.

Yes, you heard me right.  He would give me swats in the basement and I would report on the results.  The thicker paddles basically warmed from the bottom on up.  The thinner paddles snapped in such a way that it really stung!  The holes in a paddle really didn’t seem to deliver that much extra bang for the buck except in anticipation of what was going to hit you.

Short of midway through his career, he hung the paddles up.  Relegated them to the museum of past educational philosophies.  He told me that he came to the realization that the only time a paddle was used was not really as path correction so much as compensation for educational failure.  In other words, he developed his own New Testament understanding, one that never lost discipline or its focus, but developed greater understanding and appreciation of good development and the development of good.

To give you another example, when I worked with children on a locked ward, we had a guy who was an acknowledged expert and legend on working with the most difficult and troubled children directly.  He called all of us together, the workers at the front of the room and the children sitting before us on chairs so that he could address them.

One of the children, a boy of about 16, decided he would stand.  When this guy asked him to sit like the other kids, the boy said he would prefer to stand.  The man asked him if he had a problem with authority.  The boy smiled and said that yes, he did.  The man then summarily said, “Well, I don’t.  Sit down.” and the boy sat.

Therein lies the key.  Are you thoroughly comfortable as an adult with your moral authority when with a child and willing to express it?  If you are not, the child will know.  If you are, the child will know.

I agree with my father, who spanked me only once as a child, that the rod or the paddle is not the answer.  The answer is knowing right and wrong within yourself with certainty and communicating this to the child with certainty.  If you spank the child, I don’t believe it to be the end of the world.  However, if you do so, I think it well to understand that it is a lesser substitute for personal authority that should be used rarely indeed.  In a measured manner it is better than letting the child transgress without consequence, but still a less than optimal response in most cases.

Next post, I will address the problem of the pendulum in the opposite extreme where nambie-pambies – as one of our respected group scholars puts it – come from.  I will show why I think that corporal punishment is NOT the solution to that need, either.

Friday, November 2, 2012


As with virtually all the topics brought to our Loose Blogger Consortium for Friday writing, this one can be approached from so many angles.  Who knows what Delirious of Life on a Limb had in mind when she brought it up – although, a clue might be in what she writes on it today! – but the beauty of it all is that each topic has no “right” answer or theme.  That is why I encourage you to look at the clickable list on the right of Consortium members and see what they wrote.  After reading my delightful piece, of course.

Dad as Principal

My father was a truly excellent school principal.  One of the hallmarks of his ability was his easy mastery of discipline with his students, something that those who have it make look SOOO easy.  So, what was his secret?

I asked him precisely that one day, “Dad, how do you make it look so easy?”  His answer was straightforward and simple, “Never attach a consequence to an action that you are unwilling or unable to produce.  When kids test you, never fail at this and always deliver the consequence and they accept it as inevitability.  Thereafter, you don’t even need to tell them emphatically.”

Alloyed with this was a marvelous instinct and the capacity to come up with the perfect creative response at the right time.  For example, when coaching a boy in Jr. High who was a star athlete, the boy was not participating in practice.  When Dad asked him why he wasn’t working at it and told him that if he didn’t practice he wouldn’t play, the boy responded, “I‘m not going to practice because I don’t give a $%!+ about practicing.”

Now, this is the point when a lot of educators would go ballistic and try to dominate the boy.  Not Dad.  He just told the boy that he didn’t either, so the boy may as well just go home.  Then he turned and walked away to work with other boys.

Outcome?  The boy decided practice wasn’t so bad after all.  Easy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Best answer to the question: Does my bum look big in this?

Paul of Blackwatertown fame came up with this for the Friday Loose Blogger Consortium topic.  Danger, Will Robinson!

First, we have to look at the consequences of managing this topic improperly:

Big Butt last words

I think that to properly pull it off and survive, it is good to set the bar high, then set the questioner’s derriere above that bar!  Now, what in current society sets the bar high?  Why, Pippa Middleton’s bum, of course:

To men, her bum is proof that God is indeed good!  I mean, it has absolutely no bad angles.

So, that being considered, here is a test answer:

Your bum is the only one in the universe better than Pippa Middleton’s.  This shows it to advantage!

This answer is fraught with danger, too.  I can anticipate some of them:

  1. Why have you been looking at Pippa Middleton’s bum?
  2. That didn’t sound particularly sincere.

And, on and on.  No, on reflection, the best response is to show appreciation with an immediate roll in the hay!  With gusto!  And say nary a word.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No tax break for lap dances????

Yes.  In a sad ruling, New York’s highest court has voted 4 to 3 that lap dancing is not tax exempt because it does not promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavors do.

Me, I think New York is just using it as a way of getting more money in their coffers when foreign leaders visit:

NOTE: I had a picture of a foreign “dignitary” in a picture with a pole dancer.  Besides being in bad taste – which he, the lying SOB, deserves – I pulled it knowing that some people react violently to such things.  Besides, it was obviously a picture someone else had photoshopped.

I had no desire to suddenly disappear.  But, you must admit that this ruling and the call for it fits right in there with the absurdity of the day.

Friday, October 19, 2012


This topic was brought to the Loose Blogger Consortium this week by our member, Will Knott.  Be sure to check out what he and the other members have to say about Secrets on their own blogs which you can conveniently visit by clicking on their links listed on the right side of the page.

While a boy growing up in Kansas in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I joined the Boy Scouts of America along with many of the other kids from town.  We even parade marched in front of former President Dwight David Eisenhower and future President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1962 as part of the dedication of the Eisenhower Library.

We were proud to be Scouts and faithfully learned our knots and how to march somewhat in sync.  Every meeting, we repeated our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, our Scout Oath and Scout Law and worked on our Merit Badges.  We camped in the summer on a week-long retreat.  We had official uniforms, a secret left-handed handshake and saluted with three fingers.

Boy Scout Oath or Promise

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

No one ever did anything improper toward me while I was a Scout, nor do I know of anyone else involved in improper activity.  To me, some of the most reprehensible actions are those committed by a person who takes a position of trust and uses the power and authority of that position to violate those entrusted to his care and guidance.  I think this may be the reason I am so outraged when I hear of the sexual violation of youth by teachers or priests or – and this one is hot off the wires – Boy Scout leaders.


The damage done in these instances is incalculable for the individuals involved.  Kids afraid to speak up, for the very source they have been told is a moral authority is actually a predatory creature bent on sick gratification.  These are crimes so heinous that the other hardened prisoners in the penal system often exact their own version of frontier justice when no one else is around.

The damage done to the victims often is a disruptive force in their adulthood, causing a burden of bewilderment and confusion, guilt and shame, in a secret package sealed within that festers and then blocks healthy interactions, sometimes with mates left to wonder where the problem is that always seems to lurk below the surface.

There will always be these types of individuals in our world and I don’t expect them to be magically eliminated.  However, what disgusts me the most is an organization, whether it be the church or the Boy Scouts, that puts loyalty to its priests and leaders above service to recipients of its moral instruction.

An excerpt from the article:

In one case, the files show that after a volunteer in Texas was expelled when he confessed to molesting Scouts in 1965, a local Scouting official wrote to the national office and said a minister that knew the man "is doing his best to protect Boy Scouting and trying to keep this incident as quiet as possible.

"However, if some parents file charges, of course it will come out into the public."

The people in your care are ALWAYS your first priority.  Stopping abuse if it is discovered must be immediate and those abusers must not be protected from society’s sanctions and justice.  Immediate care for the abused must be initiated at the expense of the organization, regardless of the embarrassment or expense.  Any organization unwilling to unflinchingly stand up for these responsibilities immediately in the light of day should be disbanded.

To their credit, this also was indicated about Scouts as it currently stands:

The organization currently requires even suspected cases of child molestation to be reported immediately to law enforcement officials, conducts criminal background checks, and prohibits one-on-one contact between an adult and a Scout. The group now rigorously trains volunteers and leaders to spot signs of abuse.

On the news, they said that almost all of these cases were beyond the statute of limitations and that these revelations were more embarrassing than anything else.  Embarrassing?  No, it’s much worse than that.  It is a misplaced mockery of morality and care.  It is, in fact, a crime.

Quotations from an online article by Chris Francescani and Teresa Carson


3:06 p.m. CDT, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Time, the universal currency

The Lady F and I are very busy right now, but in no sense are we victims of circumstance.  We have accepted life’s tasks, but we take the time to notice the scenery of life along the way.  And that scenery is gorgeous!

We have been spending many weekends caring for the Lady’s mother since the death of my father-in-law.  We found that she was progressively losing her sight at the age of 87.  The eye specialists diagnosed wet age related macular degeneration caused by a profusion of blood vessels and bleeding in the retina.  She started a series of treatments and is responding well, but that led to the realization that she had something called a macular pucker in one eye that required surgery in San Francisco.

We brought her to our house and took care of her here for two weeks.  The surgery was a success and things are going very nicely!  That investment of time drew fast dividends.

Along the way, we had some time to spend as spare change and spent it taking in some of the sights:


This is a group of 25 quail that crossed our path.  They are all over the mobile home park in which my mother-in-law, Gigi Fossil, lives .

They also have hummingbirds and here is one little fellow at her feeder:


Back home, the birds are no fewer.  Here are “the girls” as we call them that line up on our street lamp post out front:


We also love our plants, like our Christmas Cactus and our Angel’s Trumpet:


We spend time with our kids whenever possible and our granddaughter, who is growing into a fine young lady.  She is becoming a better soccer player, too!


Every so often, a special event pops up.  This one was once in a lifetime, the Space Shuttle flying low within three blocks of our house:


Then, there are the birthdays and anniversaries.  We celebrated our 30th Anniversary with our best friends, who live in the Sierras about an hour from Yosemite.  Here is one of those views that just caught my eye while sitting and sharing on their patio:


Then we went to Yosemite, where the wildlife are so protected and so tame that they simply hang around with the people:


We had brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel at the park, world famous for beauty, setting and quality.  The food alone is some of the best I’ve eaten.  This is the lounge area in the hotel:


Then, going outside for a walk after eating so much delicious food that you think you will pop, the views are incomparable.  On our walk, I took this picture of Half Dome:


So, you’d think coming home would be a letdown after all this.  But … there is always a sunset while on an evening walk:


It isn’t a Pollyanna world for us and we work and contend a great deal.  But we are rich, oh so rich, in those things that count, those things we have the privilege to spend our time on.  We are surrounded by beauty begging to be seen, creatures sharing the wonders, family that cares about the substance of life.

Thank you, world.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Still too busy

I regret to say that I can’t participate with my beloved friends in the LBC again this week.  I cannot say when this extreme work and life load will let up, but until then … wish me luck!!!

Don’t worry, it is to the good right now.  Just VERY busy.  Mostly work, but also care giving.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'll be back after this weekend

Sorry about not writing on the topic, but a lot has been happening and we have been trying to finish everything necessary so that we are free and clear to celebrate our 30th Anniversary at Yosemite this weekend.

Two of my favorite things: Yosemite and this beautiful woman I have been lucky enough to call my mate for 30 years! It doesn't get much better.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Father-daughter Dance

In our culture, the father-daughter dance is a tradition upheld in most weddings, one in which the father dances with the bride, kind of a poignant summation, a handing off of his little girl with one last nostalgic dance to their favorite song, something very meaningful to both of them.  This was the background that Lafawnda and I were presented with when we began working on our dance months ago.

Various relatives and friends had suggestions of various kinds.  This was the result of that - and then I'll let you in on the conclusion!

We picked a slow song, something quite sentimental and sweet.  As the Disc Jockey played it, we began our dance:

We were serious as is appropriate for this sad occasion.  After all, as bhb said, I am giving my daughter away and that is heart wrenching.  We continued this way for awhile:

Unfortunately, the photographer missed some of the steps taking place.  What you see in this picture is Lafawnda right after she has shown her boredom and I am talking to the DJ, asking him what the heck he is playing???

This was all planned.  When Lafawnda and I truly examined our relationship, what really stood out was our relationship with Popeye!  No, really.  When she was little, around four or five, we would faithfully set aside time every day and watch Popeye!  She could imitate Olive Oyl perfectly.  This represented our relationship to a tee.

I sent an email - and this was the early days of email, mind you, but I worked in that industry - to the syndicate that owned the Popeye cartoons at that stage.  I said that I was Lafawnda's father and that we watched Popeye every day, like clockwork.  Delightfully, they had the great sense to have Popeye himself respond!  He sent an email to Lafawnda and she was in 7th Heaven!  She saved that email somewhere and we are hoping to find it again some day.

So, she and I went online and found a Popeye Sailor's hat and a corncob pipe being sold for Halloween.  We ordered it well ahead of time and on the day of the wedding, it was safely folded and tucked into my tuxedo!  So, we had it set up that when signaled, after we had shown our disdain for some packaged, schmaltzy dancy, he faded it out and faded in The Popeye Theme!  As he did so, I pulled out the sailor hat and the pipe and we finished our father-daughter dance representing who we really were:

It was our dance of true celebration all the way!  The people in attendance absolutely loved it!