Archive for the ‘careers’ Category

Chronicles In Ordinary Time 107: Character

October 11, 2016


Before I start writing these essays, I usually ask myself why I think anyone really cares what I think about the world…

Back when our first child had been conceived, I started writing her letters. Most of what I wrote about, I figured would have little interest for her until she was a teenager. I continued the process by writing to my sons, as well, when they first appeared. Many of the later letters ‘cheated’ in that I wrote the same letter to all three kids.

To a large degree, these blogs are a continuation of that process. I’m still writing for my kids; but the audience appears to be larger now, based on comments I receive…


If I had the opportunity, I would vote for ‘Jed’ Bartlett or Andrew Shepherd; since both are characters written from the mind of Aaron Sorkin, I’m out of luck. In The American President, Andrew Shepherd makes the following statement:

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.

I don’t want to vote for any of the four names I believe will be on my Oregon ballot for the Office of President of the United States.

I would not vote for Portland’s Mayor, or anyone on the City Council for President; even if they had run for Governor. I don’t feel that a couple of terms on the City Council would qualify someone for the Office of President. I worked for the City Council for 14 years; that doesn’t qualify me for national office.

I don’t support the Libertarian Policy goals.

Given another option, I would never vote for HRC as the Democratic candidate. We had another option; the DNC never supported that option. This is sad. I think he would have made an excellent President.

If my teen-aged granddaughter came up to me and said she had the opportunity to work as an intern for Donald Trump, I WOULD NEVER give my approval.

If it was ‘locker room banter,’ it was the locker room in high school where I might have heard it. I avoided the high school locker room.

I heard this ‘banter’ in Freshman or Sophomore college dorm rooms where the participants were mostly stoned or drunk, and were trying to impress other stoners with their imagined exploits. It was the ‘banter’ used by a medical student who wanted to become a gynecologist. I hope he never achieved his career goal. His goal was to assault women; but he never thought of it as ‘assault’; women were merely sexual toys.

Did I object to this sexually-charged language? No; I didn’t know any better. I thought the people making the comments were asses, but I thought most of the people that I was around were asses. I generally had a low opinion of people; but I had no ‘moral center’ from which I could stand. I was a snob, more than principled. ‘The Donald’ might have approved of the dorm T-shirt I designed; although I refused to follow the design literally. It was based on ‘the Donald’s’ comments, long before he most recently made them.

Trump’s comments weren’t made in a locker room or dorm room. It was the passenger seat on a media bus, probably filled with recording equipment.

He wasn’t running for President in 2005.
No; his first Presidential Campaign was in 2000.

Being President of this country is entirely about character…
I wouldn’t want that character in my house, much less the White House.

Too bad Condoleezza Rice isn’t running. She’d probably win.







Chronicles In Ordinary Time 105_McFarland

September 27, 2016


I watched McFarland USA [2015] tonight; one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.



McFarland, California, in 1987, was a place where the townspeople were there because they had nowhere else to go. Pickers, mainly; not unlike the people of the San Quintin valley of Baja, Mexico. Kids waking up at 4:30a to go pick in the fields until it’s time for school; after school they run to the fields and pick until dark, so that their families can survive. They don’t get paid by the hour, they get paid by the field. They pick because their parents pick, and that’s the only life they’ve ever known; and the only life they ever expect to have. Pickers, all of their lives.

Here, in America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

We forget this, those of us who have lived with the electronic luxury of America all of our lives. I am of the opinion that we will have to address this forgetfulness when we stand before our Creator.

A high-school coach named Jim White [Coach Blanco] came to McFarland because he had a temper management problem; and it was the only job he could find. After a couple months he watched these kids running through the fields and decided to create a Cross-Country running team. Seven high school kids who had been working their hearts out for years, and happened to be very fast. White convinced these kids that they had more heart than any of the privileged Cross-Country teams competing in California; and that they actually had a chance to become winners.

The kids, through a LOT of hard work, realized they could be something no one else in their town’s history had become—a champion. The kids changed the town. And the town changed the Coach and his family; they learned the true meaning of Home and Family. The father’s role to eat with his family, and to listen to the stories of their lives, rather than making other things more important.

I didn’t watch the debates tonight; there is nothing that either candidate could say that would change my opinion of them. They don’t represent McFarland, or any of the hundreds [thousands?] of McFarlands scattered across this country. The people who have been ostracized by privilege; the people who harvest the food this country eats. Many/most of them have brown skin. Many won’t ever own land; many won’t ever have the luxury of a television—it isn’t needed; many won’t read books. A book won’t help you pick crops. I spent an incredibly long/short time on a wheat ranch in Eastern Oregon when I was 16; my Dad wanted me to learn how to work. His old friend, a wheat rancher who probably followed in his family’s steps, could never understand why I carried a paperback book to read when I’d finished a chore; I don’t know that he ever read. I couldn’t get the idea that I was supposed to go from one chore to the next one. I learned how to stall a caterpillar tractor in a steeply-plowed field. Also learned to crawl into a Combine, and replace bad ‘teeth’.

The experiment wasn’t successful.

My brain is full; I really don’t know how to end this one.

condon-1930sJones History; Near Condon, Oregon  ca.1930s




Chronicles In Ordinary Time 105: We create the light we see

September 24, 2016

When I started telling my wife about the idea I’m  writing about, she ‘virtually’ [as opposed to reality] threw up her hands and started singing ‘lalalalalalalala’…

I realize this may not make sense to many of you.

something to think about…

eyeball_2Light enters the eyeball, gets reversed, top-to-bottom; and then is converted into electro-chemical signals which are sent through the optic nerve to the nerve cells in our brains.

We then perceive the world as if we were watching a flat-screen TV or a theater screen…

There is no light inside the brain; in spite of what our snarky schoolyard buddies told us when they looked into our ears.

We create the light we see.

We create this light in an instant; so fast that it seems sort of like a ‘reflection’ but it isn’t.

Della's BrainNeurons firing in a Functional MRI

Among the evidence for this concept are those whose vision is ‘quirky’—people with color blindness; people with Irlen’s Syndrome, whose brains cannot process black letters on white paper—but can process black letters on colored paper; people like a friend of mine who has a ‘hole’ in his brain—there is a portion of his brain where no ‘gray matter’ exists; as a result, he sees without depth perception.

We seem to be living, here in America, in a place where darkness is gaining the upper hand; yet, we create the light we see. We can be light for the world, if we choose to live this way. It’s a choice.

A routine traffic stop should not be a life-threatening situation; but it has become that way.

It’s a choice.

Portland has become highly-ranked city on a number of surveys. I’ve heard numbers above 100 for people moving to Portland every day. However, we don’t have housing for over 100 new people per day. In fact, we have a LARGE homeless population, in the thousands, some of whom have been priced out of a place to live; because the landlord raised the rent. Because they can. Housing is at such a premium that a landlord can ask nearly any number they want, and someone will accept it. Cheaper than where they came from. Buying houses has become problematic because housing prices are also skyrocketing.

Because they can.

Whether they should, apparently doesn’t enter into the debate.

Being a landlord is a ‘crap shoot’. My son is a ‘third-generation landlord’ of my parents’ first house. This summer, while working on the house, I realized I have painted that house for 50 years… Excellent tenants, good tenants, and tenants that I wish I had never known about. During my years of working at the City, and due to the generosity of my parents, we were able to live frugally on a single income. We didn’t need the rent to make ends meet; so we usually rented it out at below-market-rates. When it became time to have the last couple move out, we needed to evict them, because they couldn’t find anywhere else to live as cheaply; and he apparently felt no need to work for a living. We rented to her; she let him freeload off of her ‘back-breaking’ work as a retail manager.


extraordinary_2Background for a movie poster

Every now and then, as an illustrator, I’m given the opportunity to play as I work. Work is no longer ‘work’; it becomes play—until my body tells me it’s time to stop, when I’m not ready to be done for the day. Then, play becomes work.

It’s perception.

Even the pain that I feel throughout my body these days is perception. Some days, I’m so engrossed in my project that pain is moved far back in my perception—until I need to use the bathroom; and the pain comes rushing back.


Jesus said that His followers should be like a city on a hill, whose light could be seen from all around. The light is pretty dim, these days.

And yet, we create the light we see.



Chronicles in Ordinary Time 104: “You’re the least worst candidate I’ve got”

September 18, 2016

I heard the above line on a British Cop Show from a number of years ago… It did not come out of a Press Room covering today’s politics. Another cop in the show told an associate, “you’re ambitious, ruthless and amoral—every team needs a player like that”

How did we get here?

A guy I know is angry at a god he does not believe in [how does one become angry at a chair he doesn’t believe in? think about it], because that god doesn’t protect people from harm, does not answer prayer and allowed the Holocaust to happen. Not to mention, thousands of years of continual brutality toward fellow humans. How can one possibly think we humans deserve to be kept from harm?

mites_eyeElectron microscopy: mites on the head of a fly

I told this friend of mine that in the vast span of the Universe, we humans are like mites crawling on the head of a fly; totally insignificant; and yet Scripture says that we are beloved of God; even though we are of dust.

Arthur C. Clarke was on an interview show, discussing the notion that if god created the fixed laws of physics, then he can’t possibly be in charge of the Universe—god can’t travel faster than the speed of light; so it would take light-decades, light-centuries, to travel between galaxies. God can’t really be all-powerful, because he can’t break one of the fixed laws of physics…

Sadly, Mr. Clarke apparently hadn’t heard that the Creator of the Universe is Eternal, Infinite, Omniscient, and outside of time. An entity without a physical form, who can be in all parts of the Universe at once. The Creator has no need to travel between galaxies, because the Creator is simultaneously in all parts of the Universe. The concept of Infinity; one that is beyond our grasp, for we are but mites…

I haven’t seen anything in Scripture that says the Creator is obligated to keep us from killing ourselves. “How can [He] allow children to be trafficked into sex slaver?” I think the answer to the latter question is, how can we allow this to happen? We in America sit on our rotund backsides and do little or nothing to stop problems that we can do something about. Even if we can’t actively join the battle, we can support those who can.

We can get involved.

The Creator does not choose to halt our rapaciousness. Scripture says that the Creator has tried killing us off a few times before; and that it was an unsatisfactory solution. Free Will means the choice to do wrong; as well as the choice to do Right. The choice to be selfish; the choice to be cruel; or the choice to act out in Love.

The Creator’s answer to our inhumanity was to enter time and space in the form of a single cell implanted into the womb of a teen-aged girl living in the rural Middle East. A girl who would face scorn for being a whore.

Jesus’ earthly life ended in torture; betrayed by friends. And He returned from the dead; he returned from Hell. The story of Jesus’ life continues for two Millennia. Jesus came to heal broken souls; to heal people like me. Makes no sense. Love often makes no sense.

By the time that Emperors started using Christians-impaled-on-a-pole as light for their backyard barbecues, followers of Jesus knew that faith in a Messiah pretty well guaranteed a painful death; and yet they persisted, because they knew the world needs healing. They were willing to die in order to save humanity… A.LincolnThe world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I think it is clear that government by the people and for the people no longer exists in this country. There are bunch of people in Washington DC who were sent to do a job, as our representatives in the Legislative branch of our government. A bunch of people, getting paid a lot of money* for their lifetimes, to do a job that they simply refuse to do. This can’t happen in the world of the American worker, because the employee will get thrown out on their ass; and it will take about 10 minutes to find a replacement. A different rule operates in Congress. I can only hope that a bunch of worthless politicians get thrown out on their asses come November; and more in another two years.

That this nation…shall have a new birth of freedom…and shall not perish from the earth

I left out “God” because I’m not convinced that our country really is ‘under God’ nor that the Creator really has concerns about the survival of our nation. I’m not sure that a country that continues to manufacture cluster bombs, even though a majority of countries have banned them, can be called a ‘nation under God’:

Despite official U.S. government denials and downplaying during the Vietnam War from 1964 to ’73, the United States dropped more bombs per person on Laos than have been dropped on any country in the world in any war.

The U.S. Defense Department estimates as much as two million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos, much of it focused on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that paralleled the Vietnamese border. The North Vietnamese used the trail network to transport troops and supplies into South Vietnam, where American troops were fighting…

The report does not ask or answer the question that comes to my mind: Why in the Hell were we bombing Laos? I don’t ever recall hearing anything at the time about the “Laotian War.” Do they just make up rules as they go along?

So let’s keep God out of the discussion. We aren’t that qualified.

A new birth of freedom

I think Trump is an abomination, and that the Republican above is in lament. Trump wants to build a wall to prevent people who want freedom from coming here. He wants to reduce the immigration of people with brown skin.

I don’t really think Clinton is all that much better, partially because she considers a Large percentage of the citizens in this country to be “deplorable”. I also think that she thinks that she is above the laws that keep members of the military in prison; and that she can’t be trusted.

One of the leading Independent Presidential candidates has almost no governmental experience, experience which appears to be necessary in these times, if one is to make any headway.

The other leading Presidential candidate has ideas I simply cannot endorse.

But the election isn’t about me, nor about my preferences. The election is not about my making a statement about the quality of the people running for the highest office in the land. The election is about the country.

The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes (currently 270) for the office of president or of vice president is elected to that office. The Twelfth Amendment provides for what happens if the Electoral College fails to elect a president or vice president. If no candidate receives a majority for president, then the House of Representatives will select the president, with each state delegation (instead of each representative) having only one vote. If no candidate receives a majority for vice president, then the Senate will select the vice president, with each senator having one vote. On four occasions, most recently in 2000, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election.

Even if Jill Stein or Gary Johnson somehow comes up with the majority of the popular vote, the election is decided either by the Electoral College or the [Republican] House of Representatives. The Republicans are unlikely to vote for Stein or Johnson.

My ‘magical thinking’ hopes that for some reason in the next two months Hillary will choose not to run, and Bernie Sanders will take her place. I’m not holding my breath.

Of the two most-likely-to-receive-270-electoral-votes candidates, one clearly has no desire to continue Lincoln’s dream of “a new birth of freedom;” at least not for people with brown skin.

This leaves me with two choices—throw my vote away or vote for Hillary; hoping that she receives 270 electoral votes; and hope that enough politicians-who-refuse-to-cooperate-with-a-Black-President get fired. Maybe then we’ll have a functional Supreme Court, and the possibility that some legislation for the people will actually come about.

I want a third choice, but the election isn’t about my wants. Even if an Independent candidate receives 55% of the popular vote, the Election will still be decided by the Electoral College or the Republican House.

270 Electoral votes for Hillary; or Trump.


* compared to the earnings of their constituents


Chronicles in Ordinary Time 103: Bravery of a Different Sort

September 6, 2016


Tonight I watched William H. Macy’s brilliant directorial debut, Rudderless.

An excellent story, a surprising perspective on violence in America. Can’t say too much more without giving the story away; but on the exterior, it’s about the forming of a garage band, and the human need to express ourselves through music. The movie is especially poignant in that it stars Anton Yelchin, who would die a year or so later, this year, in an automobile accident. He plays a 21-year old young man who feels that he’s messed up most of his life.

Music plays through most of my life; primarily interrupted by stories on the tube. Music plays in the office while I sleep; don’t know how much I hear. Music soothes my soul and music inspires me; music reminds me of the person I want to be.

When I see a movie like Rudderless, I immediately want to find an image in my files to use as an illustration for one of these memoirs. I then am reminded of the thousands of images I haven’t yet created. So I pull one together from older images.

One of the quotations [or near quotations] from the movie is, “no one writes music like that unless they want it to be heard…” I think of all of the stories I’ve heard about songwriters, stories about being musicians, and I think about the musicians I hear each Sunday, dedicated to their craft and bringing inspiration to an audience. I don’t thank you often enough, should you happen to be reading these words.

Bravery of a different sort; having the courage to stand before an audience, and perform from your heart. I believe that a certain amount of bravery is required for an artist to display their talents before the world.

There’s a rebuilt, antique, Civil War era piano sitting in our living room, one of my impulsive investments during the brief period where I was studying piano. I rarely made time to practice—practice time took away from illustration-time. I finally realized that if I wanted to perform on the piano at the level I wanted, I’d have to give up my illustration dreams—there wasn’t room for both in my life. And I haven’t had the heart to sell the piano. There are times when my soul wants to make music; playing music becomes a substitute. Gordon Lightfoot has been a featured performer in my life for the last 40 years; one of the ‘last troubadours’ as he has often been billed.

Billy Crudup is the lead performer in Rudderless, performs his own music. He apparently learned to play guitar while performing in Almost Famous, and has never stopped.

One of the co-stars of Rudderless; for the guitar geeks…

Les Paul Custom Guitar



Chronicles in Ordinary Time 102: Bravery

August 26, 2016

whosoever saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind

Krissy's spice 4 life_smlI would like you to meet Krissy.

She’s one of the bravest persons I’ve ever met. I am not at liberty to tell you her story; it has a lot of bad parts, and the ‘bad’ isn’t over yet. She has countless reasons for giving up; and no desire to do so. She has a spices-and-food-related products business that she has begun to crowdfund. More about that when I know more.

You can find her products at:

and email her at:

she can also be twittered at: @krissyspice
We are living in strange times; difficult times filled with pain and betrayal and heartbreak. And yet… and yet… There are stories of heroes.
PBS tells of the Syrian volunteers who rush to bombed buildings to save victims:
Once tailors, bakers, pharmacists, some 3,000 ordinary Syrians are now the unwitting heroes of the Syrian war. Nicknamed “the White Helmets,” members of the Syrian Civil Defense work under the harshest conditions to claw through the remains of buildings flattened by barrel bombs, the Syrian regime’s weapon of choice…
We meet some of them now, thanks to special correspondent Marcia Biggs, who reports from Turkey.

MARCIA BIGGS: We all saw this heartbreaking video, 5-year-old Omran pulled from under the rubble of his flattened home, his photo going viral. Stunned, bloodied, and caked with dust, his face a symbol of so many others.

But the faces you didn’t see in this video are of those who have been pulling people out of the rubble for five long years. This is the call to work for the brave members of the Syrian Civil Defense, an ad hoc grassroots first-response unit within rebel-held Syria.

Over the last five years, they say they have learned, saving almost 60,000 lives, working throughout all parts of one of the most fractured areas on Earth. Even some of the most radical groups allow them into their territory…

MARCIA BIGGS: Abdul Rahman, a 30-year-old volunteer from Aleppo, says the food shortage is a main concern and half of the men in the unit are trying to learn to farm.

Are they worried that they might starve? Are they worried that they’re going to run out of food?

ABDUL RAHMAN, Rescue Worker: Of course, but they’re still working, because we believe in our job. They lost the hope. This is the bigger problem. Now, in Aleppo city, all the world see the besieged. And all the world just watching what happened, and no one do anything.

MARCIA BIGGS: Despite all the deaths and the failures of the international community, the White Helmets soldier on.

RAED AL SALEH (through translator): It’s difficult to talk with our team every day, and most of the time, we have no answers to all the questions they ask. We are doing an important humanitarian job, and we will be rewarded by God.

The Koran says, in the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, whosoever saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. If you save a human who was under the rubble, it’s like you saved all mankind.

Do you feel proud when you wear that?

For Radi, his uniform a symbol of pride, and for the young man who dreamed of one day getting out of Syria, a renewed pride in his country, which he and the others hope to someday rebuild.

RADI SAAD (through translator): Before the revolution, we didn’t have a sense of belonging to this country at all. But now we feel that, if we don’t build this country, no one will.

MARCIA BIGGS: A small glimmer of hope for the future. For now, every airstrike brings more devastation, and the men, like this one, Fares Mohammed Ali, who dig with their hands and their hearts to raise people out of the ruins and into the light.

One can only wonder how long this light of hope can burn. Fares died last month after an airstrike.


I was going to write more words, but at the moments words are failing me.





Chronicles in Ordinary Time 101: Reinventing Oneself

August 26, 2016


Society 6, the company that hosts my retail store has ads floating all over the Internet—you’ve probably seen them—for a terrific artist that has created a bunch of comic-book-nouveau images. Unfortunately, that artist isn’t me. The company tells me that a few of my images are in their catalog [something like 1000 images of the 10,000 images in their ‘warehouse’; I haven’t seen them published in their advertising. So, acting upon the “I can do that,” message that floated through my brain, I fabricated the above from some images in my stockpile.

I watched Chappie a couple of weeks ago, a sci-fi story that takes place in a future Johannesburg, where no person in their right mind would want to live—unless going somewhere else wasn’t an option. To solve their crime problem, they bring in an army of robot droids. The lead designer of the police droids, in his off-hours, is attempting to create a computer program that will become conscious—a sentient robot that can think for itself. The experiment gets hijacked by some gang bangers, and the experiment goes seriously awry. However, Chappie is born—a computer with the mind of a child; a mind that can learn exponentially.

What caught my attention was the fluid grace of Chappie’s movements—a robot that moves exactly like a human. Motion Capture has grown exponentially, as well.

There was a moment—certainly not much more than a moment—when I felt like I could see the front of the digital art pack—we commercial artists who are running a marathon with no fixed end. I was at an SCBWI Conference in Seattle, wandering around some hotel, drinking a $7 glass of Guinness [I kept the glass]. I passed by a guy who was working in 3-D [early 3-D], who was explaining how one needs to draw all sides of a character, not just from one viewpoint. I had realized then one of the shortcomings of my illustration career—that moment when I realize the character needs to be in a different spot in the frame, and because of that, the character can’t be facing the viewer. Do I do the ‘correct’ image, even though it means I have to do a lot more drawing? Or do I live with the original idea, even though it’s ‘wrong’? It would be so much better to have the character in 3-D, so I could ‘simply’ rotate the character…I have 3-D software I’ve never used.

I wandered by another conversation that night, where the [presumed] art buyer was saying, ‘I like that character, but can you make it digital?’ At that time, when the last dinosaurs were dying off, ‘digital’ characters were easy to spot—they all had a ‘look’. By that time, I had learned that I could digitize my hand-drawn illustrations and manipulate them digitally. The conversation was about a cartoon image, and I really don’t do cartoons. My brain doesn’t think in ‘cartoon;’ my brain doesn’t think in ‘whimsy’—the reason I’ve largely quit marketing my work in Children’s Book venues with the expectation that I’ll get hired. The Art Buyers I was running into at SCBWI events wanted ‘whimsy’. And my work ‘wasn’t photographic enough’, ‘it wasn’t accurate enough’—yet they loved Nightmare Before Christmas—go figure.

Then the rest of the pack came running past me; and I’m now among the slower-moving of the digital art world [as I am in the real world]. I’m a member of a CGI website, but feel like I’m too ancient/too unskilled to participate much…I did just enter some stuff of mine into a Competition—attempting to boost my ego.


I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want my blog to be about stuff I didn’t know about. One can find any kind of advice all over the Internet on ‘reinventing oneself’. I can provide input as well, but I have to make the disclaimer that I don’t necessarily feel successful in my reinvention. The experiment is still running…

My father reinvented himself throughout his adult life; business ventures failing through unexpected disaster or unexpected lack of ability on his part. He ended his working life in a settle-for career; he might not have used that language. His last career was fairly successful—just unexpected, and nothing like the one he wanted when he was making dreams for his life.

I’ve mirrored his efforts to some degree; the ‘success’ of this present life is more by the Grace of God than by my efforts. I nearly killed myself by working as a Public Servant rather than as a City Employee, and I now get paid for breathing. I got older, and again get paid for breathing. For all this breathing I ‘bring home’ less than half of what I would be earning if I had continued to work for the City. Because I’ve borrowed so much, in order to adapt our life to that ‘half-income’, I still need to bring in money; it just isn’t the main goal of my life anymore.

So what can I share of value?

  1. You are what you think you are.
    You will never improve your circumstances while keeping the same old thoughts in your head. You have to learn to think in better ways, ways that will enlarge your self-image, before you begin to experience more favorable circumstances. Through a sales organization [I only had modest success in sales—I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’], I took a five-year ‘course’ in possibility thinking. I read books about imagining a new life, and listened to taped [dinosaur] seminars all the time; tapes by people who had changed their lives.
  1. You can never ‘fake it ‘til you make it’.
    You can ‘fake it’ in order to get through the door; but you’ll have to actually become someone different in order to survive in that situation. I faked my way into my job with the City. I ‘exaggerated my skill set’ [lied about my abilities] in order to get my job; and at the same time knew that I was replacing someone who hadn’t made it through their probation.   So I began studying the Building Code in the same manner that I made it through my Structural Engineering courses—I took notes, and I took-on the job no one else wanted—answering Building Code questions over the phone. In that way I could look up the answers [‘let me call you back in five minutes’] in the book; and I started highlighting the sections that people often asked about. In time I had a color-coded Code book; one that kept getting revised every three years. I found myself having to copy all of color-coding because I have a visual memory [‘the answer to that question is on the page with three yellow stripes and a green one’].
    I had to become good at my job just to keep my job.
  1. The job has to become a job about the people you serve.
    Everyone has a job that involves customers in some fashion. Every business has to have repeat customers in some fashion. No one will come back if they receive crappy service—unless your job is with the Government—people ‘come back’ because they have to. The Government has a monopoly on some business functions; people have to deal with the Government, and only the Government, in order to get something done. We had awful clerical people working for the Bureau where I worked [not always, just often], and they were able to keep their jobs simply because they met the minimum standards. In Real Life, one doesn’t continue with a job by meeting minimum standards. In today’s economy, there are PhDs working at fast-food joints because it’s the only job in town. There’s always someone who can do your job better, waiting to take your job. You have to become better than average; and you can become better than average—but it requires work on your part.
  1. The Law of Sowing and Reaping.
    It’s found all through the Bible, because it’s found all over the world. You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow. Put a kernel of [uncooked] corn in a good patch of ground, water it, tend the shoot that grows into a stalk of corn, and when the corn is ripe you’ll reap hundreds of kernels of corn. Great example of how banking and interest worked, generations back.
    Not all ground is equal, not all corn is equal. Droughts and flooding and freezing occur; sometimes tornadoes. There are a bunch of fables that used to be taught in school, about humanized insects and animals who save for winter, and exemplify ‘sowing and reaping’. The teaching used to be hard to avoid. Boring… and I bet it doesn’t happen in today’s world.
  1. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”
    My favorite Steve Martin quotation. Not-being-ignored doesn’t automatically mean success. If you are so good that you can’t be ignored, someone will mention you to someone else. Possibilities.

the universe in his hands_1






Chronicles in Ordinary Time 100: More Politics

July 29, 2016

More PoliticsAn Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Nixon was President when I was in college; the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Nixon Presidency were where I lost my ‘political virginity’. There I learned that nearly everything I’d learned in school about our political system, nearly everything I’d learned in Cub Scouts, nearly everything I’d learned during the years of attending American Legion functions with my parents, was fictional. When I watched “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” I realized it wasn’t fictional; it was a true story. Power Corrupts; Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

When I first started paying attention to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, I was skeptical. In time, I realized that Diogenes could put out his lamp; an honest man had finally been found, and we were going to elect him President.

Tonight I read the Rolling Stone interview with Jane; where she makes the statement that you knew you wouldn’t become President on June 7th. Today is July 29th. Maybe we were dense; it’s taken us nearly two months to figure out what you already knew. We believed that you believed; and we are told that belief can move mountains.

The scenario you embedded into the hearts of a million young people, people who had been politically disenfranchised, but thought they’d discovered something different in Bernie Sanders—that you would take the Delegate Fight to the Convention Floor, and Hillary would be defeated on the second vote. That scenario vanished when you resoundingly endorsed Hillary for President. This wasn’t a ‘well, this is the best we can do; and Trump mustn’t win’ endorsement; this was a ‘Hillary MUST Become President’ endorsement.

For months you have carefully, thoughtfully and sincerely putting forth the message that Hillary Clinton must NOT be elected President. Her ties to corporate America are too deep; there are too many policy issues she favors that will not help the working poor of America succeed. You did your job very well. We researched the non-Mainstream media, and discovered that Hillary is a lousy candidate for President. In recent weeks we learned from the FBI that she perjured herself before Congressional Committees when she said there was no classified information on her private, basement, email server. The FBI clearly stated that there was classified information on her server, and her email shows she knew about it. It appears that no one in Congress is seriously concerned about Perjury, which is a crime, for those not named Clinton.

The FBI stated that if the person being investigated was anyone else, they would be subject to Administrative Disciplinary Actions. Clearly, Ms. Clinton is answerable to a different set of standards than those answerable by Naval Lieutenants:

[ ]

Do you seriously believe that Hillary has made a 180° turn and become a Progressive, because you endorsed her? That by adding Progressive planks to the Democratic platform, that the platform won’t be scrapped when it becomes inconvenient?

My favorite personal scenario died tonight when Hillary was coronated. I had hoped that Assange would do his fabled ‘next leak’ which would pull the plug on the coronation, and Bernie would be pulled in from the bench.

You’ve stated that the Progressive Movement you inspired, the Movement that brought tens of thousands of young Progressives to rallies all across the country, wasn’t about you. The Progressive Movement must continue into State elections, and the morons who are currently serving in the House and Senate [“Congress of baboons”] need to be removed, in order for change to occur. If Bernie was elected President in November, and Congress remained the same group of baboons, Bernie could accomplish nothing.

President Obama, the first President in my 64-year history to be scandal-free [Carter was vilified over not going to war with Iran over the Hostage Crisis], hasn’t accomplished the stuff he said he would. Given the Congress of Baboons, I doubt that any Democratic President could accomplish what he promised, even if he wasn’t African-American. He promised Change We Could Believe In. Not so much. I have a serious moral problem with his Drone War. I’ve been reminded that I don’t know what happens in the White House War Room.

We have a Black President, and a noble First Family; and White Supremacy is stronger in the US than it has been since I was a child. That idea didn’t work, either.

Movements need a leader.

When you endorsed Hillary, after all of the hours of speeches about how she should NOT become President, you gave up the role as leader of the new Progressive Movement. And now you want the people who valiantly supported you to vote for Hillary; and to not seek a candidate among the Independent parties that have Presidential Candidates. Why would you have that expectation? The Progressive Movement has gone back to being leaderless.

A million young Progressives lost their ‘political virginity’ this week.

Welcome to political life in the 21st Century. Maybe Diogenes needs to relight his lamp.





Chronicles in Ordinary Time 99: Politics

July 17, 2016

PoliticsI had somewhat decided that I was going to avoid politics in my blog for a while; the air is too thick with the smell of a feed lot. However, I’m helping my son and daughter-in-law with painting at their house; and house painting provides a lot of time to think about things…

I fill part of my mind with what I call ‘Brain Food’ while I paint—a collection of songs whose lyrics speak in the way I want to think. Lyrics from ‘popular music,’ for the most part, don’t contain the words I want to hear coming from my brain—they aren’t useful. Clapton is a great guitarist; “Cocaine” isn’t a song I like listening to. I enjoy the blues; but find few blues musicians I can stand to listen to for very long. Eric Bibb is a notable exception. I have a great fondness for baritones—nearly the only place one can find baritones is in country music, and I really don’t want “my girl done left me, my dog don’t like me, so I’ll go have a few beers while I drive around in my pickup” running through my brain. Most of the music I listen to is ‘faith-based,’ with the exception of some Opera arias, and ‘New Age” instrumentals and traditional jazz; but even in faith-based music I find a lot of lyrics ‘about God’ that I can’t tolerate. I’m a music snob…

Since he kept slaves, clearly, Thomas Jefferson didn’t really think that “all men are created equal” or, he didn’t think that people of color are ‘men’. But the Founding Fathers put the language into Law. I love the concept that America is built on the Rule of Law; one of the few things I enjoyed about working for the City of Portland. I had Law to rely on, with its restrictions and its limitations. In the movie, A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More is arrested for treason by King Henry the Eighth because More, a devout Catholic, would not acknowledge the legitimacy of Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn—and the subsequent start of the Church of England. A scene in the movie shows More asking his daughter for the exact language of a certain proclamation, to see if the words of the proclamation provided an ‘out’. More could accept the provisions of the Proclamation, if the proclamation was written in such a way that the words did not conflict with More’s personal beliefs. Politicians often do not proofread their legislation carefully; one can get around legislation, including City Codes, if the language allows for deviation.

“All men are created equal”. Our Supreme Court, on a number of occasions, has affirmed that “all men” means “all homo sapiens born in the United States, and those naturalized as citizens.” I don’t think Jefferson would agree with that interpretation. There are still far too many in this country who believe that “all men” ONLY refers to White males. The Constitution and its subsequent statutes created through a governmental process are also intended to apply to “all men” as stated in italics above.

What a country we find ourselves in; the two Presumptive Candidates for the President of the United States, from the two major parties, are a racist lunatic who appears to never think about what he is saying before he says it; and a champion of women’s rights, and hailed as ‘Mama Clinton’ in Third World countries; who apparently believes that the Law that applies to a Naval Lieutenant does not apply to the Secretary of State. The Presumptive Candidate is said to be under possible indictment for fraud and perjury; and a request has been made by the GOP for the removal of all of her Security Clearances.

Neither of these candidates deserves to hold the Office of the President of the United States.

Then we have my formerly-personal favorite, the Democratic Socialist who seems to have abandoned his principals by endorsing the woman above. Note: Bernie Sanders is still an active candidate for President; he did not concede to Ms. Clinton. In his endorsement speech he caused her to ‘smile and nod’ while he listed all of her concessions to the Progressive Movement he inspired. She would have to deal with all of these concessions. During his first 20-minute speech for Ms. Clinton, he didn’t mention her name once. His endorsement could be a political ploy that makes it possible for him to still become President, should Ms. Clinton be indicted before the General Election; it could be a ploy that will enable him to be the Democratic Candidate after the upcoming Democratic Convention. However, his many statements about bringing his campaign “to the floor of the Democratic Convention” were negated by his endorsement of Ms. Clinton. To endorse something means to accept that it has value. It appears that Bernie, too, after decades in Washington, has determined that Truth and Promises are flexible commodities when it comes to politics. Maybe Bernie should have paid more attention to the words he used.

There are other viable Presidential candidates to whom I have paid little attention. The first President I voted for was Richard Nixon [for which I am eternally regretful]; the last Republican Presidential candidate I voted for was the incumbent George W. [another eternal regret]. During those decades, Independent candidates were never elected. While it may very well be Time for a viable Third Political Party, I don’t have faith in the American electorate as a Third Party people. Which Independent Party would be chosen?

How did we get here? The religious blame the current political situation and the waves of violence that wash over the world as evidence of our collective “turning away from God”. I won’t argue with that idea, but I think the idea is inadequate. Buddhism and non-Abrahamic faiths predate most of Western Culture. There was a lot of World before Abraham.

I think the major problem of today’s world is that we collectively have decided that Honesty and Honor are flexible commodities. ‘Honesty is only worthwhile when it benefits you.’ For much of the history of this country, at least in more rural times, “I give you my word” meant that it was a ‘done-deal’, forever sealed. If I went back on my word, I was forever shamed. My knowledge of Asian history comes mostly from Asian “hero movies” [the definition of which will escape many]. To Dishonor someone or to Dishonor one’s family is a crime of epic proportions. Perhaps it’s mythical. I like the myth.

Those people who decry our ‘turning from God’ do not acknowledge that the Muslim world prays to the One God who is the Creator of the entire Universe. That when you ‘dial’ Allah, you are “dialing” Yahweh, the God of the Jewish Nation. The Primary tenant of the Abrahamic faiths is that there is One God Alone. Those same people seem to forget that Jesus was not Christian; Jesus was a Jew. I believe that our entrance into Eternity is based ENTIRELY on the fact that Jesus died on the Cross and was Resurrected. As a somewhat-Lutheran, I believe in Salvation by Faith Alone and not Salvation by Works. Jesus NEVER told anyone that they were going to Hell because they did not believe He was the Messiah. In fact, when people called Him Messiah, He asked them to keep that information to themselves. He apparently knew that “Messiah” had overtones, perhaps political, that did not apply to His purpose on earth.

If one spends enough time reading Facebook, one finds that a lot of people seem to believe that if God receives enough ‘Likes’ it will mean that God is real. The Earth is a flyspeck on the backside of the low-rent portion of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s barely visible across our Solar System. The portion of the Universe that we can see with the Hubble is filled with millions of Galaxies. All created from the Mind of the Creator. I have a great advantage over most people—I spent much of my life designing things and then making the effort to build them. Creation is not accidental, is not random, nor the product of Fibonacci Spirals and the like. Look at a helicopter, and the thousand parts that make up the machine; then look at this guy:

dragonfly“Dragonflies are predators, both in their aquatic larval stage, when they are known as nymphs or naiads, and as adults. Several years of their lives are spent as nymphs living in fresh water; the adults may be on the wing for just a few days or weeks. They are fast, agile fliers, sometimes migrating across oceans… they have a chitinous exoskeleton of hard plates held together with flexible membranes. The head is large with very short antennae. It is dominated by the two compound eyes, which cover most of its surface. The compound eyes are made up of ommatidia, the numbers being greater in the larger species. Aeshna interrupta has 22650 ommatidia of two varying sizes, 4500 being large. The outer part of the ommatidium is overlaid with a transparent cornea. Each ommatidium is innervated by one axon bundle (usually consisting of 6-9 axons, depending on the number of rhabdomeres)[2] and provides the brain with one picture element. The brain forms an image from these 22650 independent picture elements.” Wikipedia

Hatched as an egg, starting life as something like a worm, and growing into this wondrous creature. No flying lessons, and yet can fly across an ocean. An eye made up of 23000 separate ‘lenses’ providing a constant stream of video information; with a brain the size of a grape seed. I’m sorry; I do not have enough faith in science and evolution to accept the possibility that there is no ‘design’ involved in its creation; that this is simply a product of centuries/millennia of selective adaptation.

mites_eyeThe Creator has absolutely no need for our approval of [His]* existence. We are like mites crawling across the head of the wondrous creature above. And yet, as the Bible tells the story, the Creator was willing to become one of these mites in the form of Jesus, so that He could teach us how we are supposed to live. Through some mysterious ‘changing of the rules,’ Jesus’ death on the Cross can be applied to each one of our lives, if we so choose. Jesus died and was resurrected so that we can do the same. No matter how badly we screw up our lives, Jesus died so that we don’t have to; He has taken any punishment we are due, in His own body. I don’t understand how this works, any more than I understand the wonder of a flying bug. The bug is real; so was Jesus. Hundreds, thousands of people died because they believed it as well; murdered for their faith.

Thomas More believed it. Henry the Eighth couldn’t have cared less. Anne Boleyn’s opinion didn’t count, she was little more than a slave. Simple fishermen became orators. An Enforcer for the Jewish government became one of Christianity’s greatest evangelists, changing the course of history and Western Civilization.

All who seek the Creator with their hearts and minds and their spirit will find the Creator; regardless of the religion they follow. Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. His life and His death was foretold long before Judaism came into being. Christianity could only spread as far as the Roman roads would take it.

…And politics in America has become a crap shoot, embodying everything Mark Twain ever wrote about politicians. Politics in America is an extremely bad joke; and the worst part of the joke is that there are people who believe that the inherent importance of the Survivors and those with the Most Talent; that living their lives for video games and Games of Thrones, is more important than attending to the activity of those who are running our country.

And I am as guilty as anyone else.


* I use [His] because I don’t believe that gender applies to the Creator. The Bible refers to the Creator as ‘she’ when speaking of Wisdom, or the Holy Spirit. Jesus was definitely a “He”. I believe He had XY chromosomes, and was the result of the Creator implanting a single cell into the womb of a teenaged girl. Christian theology speaks of the Creator as being Three Persons, but One individual. Sort of like [visually] broccoli or a 3-leafed clover. Jewish theology can be read in the same fashion, but they generally don’t.


Chronicles in Ordinary Time 98: My 12-hour nosebleed; and what I learned…

July 11, 2016

watson's brain_sinusesInside Dr. Watson’s Head

I’ve never had a 12-hour nosebleed before.

For years I had a sticker stuck to our bathroom countertop: DO NOT NAIL HEAD

This came about after a project involving the installation of vinyl windows in my sister’s house. When one installs a vinyl window, it is very important to not nail the topmost horizontal portion of the window: the ‘head’. The window is not designed to carry any vertical loads; if the top of the window is nailed to the house, and the house settles, the window panes will break. Consequently, window manufacturers attach a sticker: DO NOT NAIL HEAD

Prior to getting to the ‘install’ part there was some demolition needed. I pulled down a sheet of paneling attached to a ceiling, and one of the nails in the plywood caught me in the middle of my forehead, around my hairline. There was a fairly impressive puddle of blood on the ground before one of my sons could get my forehead bandaged. Head wounds bleed A LOT, because of all the blood vessels in our heads.

I had gotten out of bed around noon last Thursday [I’d gone to bed after 3a], got ready for my daily walk, and blew my nose… I’d been having 2 nosebleeds every 2-3 weeks for a few months. Figured my CPAP machine was drying out my sinuses. The nosebleeds stopped in a couple of minutes. I opted not to take my walk [something about an old guy with Kleenex up his nose, dripping blood…too early for Halloween]. When the nosebleed wasn’t stopping, I figured that a larger blood vessel than usual, or maybe a number of blood vessels were involved; and the nosebleed had evolved into ‘head wound’. I wasn’t overly concerned.

I tend to get focused on tasks, so I wasn’t surprised when 3 o’clock had rolled around [several trips to the bathroom for new Kleenex]; I had to leave around 4:15p, so I decided it was time to get serious about the nosebleed—I laid down with a block of ice on my nose. Around 4:30p I called the guy I was meeting with, to tell him I’d be late. Around 5:01p I called my Family Medicine clinic, and was informed that I should have called a few hours before… I was advised to go to an Urgent Care clinic. After an hour’s wait, I saw a doc who introduced me to a ‘Rhino Rocket;’ also known as a ‘nasal tampon’ [ladies, my respect for you has grown immeasurably].

Because of my Idiopathic Polyneuropathy, and the sensory nerves I continue to lose, having a bunch of fabric shoved up my nose wasn’t that uncomfortable, nor was the second one, when the overflow started coming out of the other nostril. The Doc told me I needed to go to an ER. I declined the ambulance; drove to 2 miles to my house, and my wife drove me to the ER. It’s now around 7p. The particular hospital I went to has a Triage section set up in the waiting room. I was checked in, and asked to wait until I could see a Medical Assistant. That was about an hour. She added notes to my chart, and sent me back to the waiting area.
About that time, the nasal packing became saturated, and my wife started bringing me Kleenex. Not wanting to be a spectacle of leaking blood in public, I covered my nose with my hand…and used more Kleenex every few minutes. It was Midnight by the time I saw the ER doc, who is not an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist [they didn’t have an ENT on call]. The doc sprayed my nose with Afrin, a decongestant [which shrinks the blood vessels, causing the sinuses to open up, allowing for breathing]; and had me clamp my nose for 20 minutes. The bleeding had stopped; although I think it might have stopped somewhere after 11p; the Kleenex saturated more slowly… By the time we got home at 2a, I was ready for bed.

So why didn’t my platelets do the job they were supposed to? I clipped a hangnail a little while ago, and the platelets are working fine. The bleeding finger stopped bleeding. Maybe when I see the ENT this week, I’ll learn something.

So what did I learn from this exercise?

  1. If your bloody nose lasts more than an hour call for medical assistance/advice. You’ll probably be told to lean forward and clamp your nose, below the bone, for 10 minutes on the clock. If that doesn’t work, do it again; and do it one more time if that hasn’t stopped the bleeding.
  2. This, of course, only works if you have a doctor you can call. If you have health insurance, you can probably call a doc.
  3. If you do not have health insurance, your physical condition will steal A LOT OF TIME. Time you won’t get back. Emergency Rooms are required to treat patients that need medical assistance, regardless of insurance coverage. No one asked to see my insurance card until after Midnight, around 5 hours after I arrived at the ER.

The ER has become the Primary Care facility for a vast number of people who need medical attention. It isn’t just for accident victims and ‘poor slobs who don’t want to work’ –homeless people that don’t have medical insurance. A large portion of Americans cannot afford medical insurance; even with the assistance of the Affordable Care Act. The Emergency Room has become ‘the doctor’s office.’

America is the ONLY ‘developed’ country in the world that does not provide medical care to its citizens, as a right. In America, medical care is a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Yes; I am retired, working part time, and on a global scale I am wealthy. I don’t foresee yachts or even canoes; I don’t foresee Cruises or a second home in a warmer climate; yet I am wealthy because I have a home. I have food in the refrigerator and the freezer. I have health insurance. We donate to charity. I am able to assist my adult children financially, when they need it; and I do it gladly. My wife and I made it through our child-raising years with a lot of financial help from our parents. We are passing on the gift.

Our country can afford to spend $1,699,458,350,999 fighting wars since 2001 [the number will have changed drastically by the time you read this] but “we can’t afford” public health care.

There is no shortage of money to solve our social problems; the problem is in the way our spending priorities are arranged. Every hour, taxpayers in United States are paying $3.42 million for cost of the Pentagon Slush Fund. The total as of this writing: $124,225,890,000. It will have changed drastically by the time you read this. This isn’t $124 BILLION budgeted for defense spending; this is the slush fund—the ‘tips’ can sitting on the sidewalk. The ‘oops’ fund. The ‘let’s save money for a vacation’ fund.

$2 BillionPallets of $10,000 bills. A semi can carry $2 Billion

We have spent more than a Trillion dollars on War in the last 15 years and have only created corpses; we have not created peace anywhere in the world. Yet we still make War.

This isn’t a problem of ‘too little’ money; this is a problem of Will. This isn’t a problem of ‘can’t afford’; this is a problem of ‘don’t want to.’

And we wonder why God does not bless us; surely we trust in Him. It says so on every one of those $10,000 bills. No, it doesn’t. Apparently we don’t trust God for more than $1000…



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