Posts Tagged ‘Polyneuropathy’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 132: Katrina again.

September 28, 2017

P45_mj

Football.
Millionaires who play games for a living, funding an industry that derives hundreds of millions of dollars selling everything that can be sold under the guise of professional sports.

3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most devastating hurricane in history, and American news is full of stories about professional football players, many of whom are incredibly wealthy, living in Privileged comfort.

Of course, the real story isn’t about football and flags; the story is about America’s shameful history of Race.

Let me repeat: 3.4 million Americans are stranded on Puerto Rico, victims of the most damaging hurricane in history. They are without food, they are without water, they are without power. FEMA has sent aid; and the aid is sitting on the docks.

President Donald Trump has made it clear his administration isn’t planning to allow any additional outside aid to get into Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon [9/27], the president cited business interests as the reason for refusing calls from lawmakers and activists to allow international organizations and governments to ship aid to the island.         Newsweek

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says food, water, and other supplies have reached Puerto Rico a week after Hurricane Maria plowed through the island, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and shipping firms concur. Most of the 3.4 million Americans on Puerto Rico haven’t gotten that aid, so CBS News correspondent David Begnaud went to find out what’s happening. He found some 3,000 shipping containers sitting at the docks in San Juan, the capital, he said on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News; most of them are filled with relief supplies, and some of them have been there since before Hurricane Irma hit, three weeks ago.
The problems, according to Rossellé and the shipping companies, are many and frustrating. Roads are still blocked or flooded around the island, truck drivers are tending to their damaged homes, their trucks were destroyed, they don’t have fuel, or they’re incommunicado because electricity and cellphone service are out across the U.S. territory, and the bus drivers Rosselló is trying to recruit to drive trucks in their stead have the same problems. In the meantime, nearly half the island doesn’t have potable water, food and water are scare, “gasoline has become like liquid gold,” Begnaud says, and there are lines for everything. You can watch his report below. Peter Weber

Katrina again.

The victims tend to have brown skin, rather than pink skin. Only the dead have white skin. And many are dead.

Instead of demanding that our Government solve the problems of distribution [we can], people are arguing all over the Internet about whether or not someone is disrespecting the flag by not standing; when the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that Americans are protected by the Constitution when they decide not to stand during the National Anthem; and when they refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag:

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Court’s 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed “beyond the reach of majorities and officials.”

I quit pledging my allegiance to the flag when I realized that America was built on the graves of the indigenous people who were killed so that the white population could practice their Manifest Destiny. As a follower of Jesus, I cannot in good conscious support a government that refuses to acknowledge the crimes that were committed to getting to this place in history.
This place in history where our President refuses to do everything in his power to rescue citizens of his country. Instead, he shames African Americans who protest the murders of African Americans by white police officers who receive no punishment.

Lynching, again.

The President uses language on global television that would have landed me in great trouble by my father, growing up. He uses language that should be an affront to every Believer in Scripture, regardless of the Scripture being read.
The depravity continues to make me ashamed of our government; and mocks every person who has died defending this country.

Liberty_mj

 

 

 

 

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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 131: An Open Letter to the US Senate

September 21, 2017

Lincoln_mj_

I get it.
You believe that adequate Health Care in America is not a right, it is a privilege. A privilege belonging to US Senators, members of the US Congress; a privilege granted to millionaires and above. Your bosses, the 565 billionaires in this country1 and your other bosses, the pharmaceutical companies and those that run health insurance companies, are threatening your jobs, if you don’t cut their taxes. I realize that the only way to cut taxes, given the current Senatorial budget rules, is to cut expenses. The easiest expenses to cut are those that affect the ‘least important’ people in this country: seniors, the disabled, the underemployed, Veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country, and the poor. Women. Because in America, women only earn 80% of that earned by men; except in the US Senate and the US Congress. Those ‘least important people’ whose only crime, the most important crime of all, is that they haven’t been born rich.

I get it.
You work hard for your money.

The average member will pocket $174,000 while showing up to the office just 145 out of 261 work days in 2017, according to the updated calendar released by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
For reference, the median American income in 2015 was $56,516, according to Census data, while the average employee reported working 47 hours a week ― nearly six days ― and taking just 14 days off per year. 2

I understand that you believe you deserve the best healthcare that money can buy.
One of the problems is that you aren’t actually paid by your bosses—specified above—you are paid by the poor shmucks who actually cast votes for you; and THE POOR SCHMUCKS WHO PAY YOUR EARNINGS THROUGH THEIR TAXES. Those taxes that your bosses want cut, so they won’t have to pay so much of your wages. They will still fund the campaigns that get you elected; they will continue to pay you under the table for the good service you provide, like any other server in this country. Except that most of the servers in this country serve lousy tippers.
UNLESS YOU PASS LEGISLATION THAT CRIPPLES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

Some of your billionaire bosses are talking about not funding your jobs, next election cycle, if you don’t manage to get this one thing done. All that’s necessary is to remove from the health care roles, all those people who ‘didn’t deserve’ health care in the first place—those who’s crime was not being born rich. Those people who actually used the health care system in this country. Those people who will die, because they can’t get the health care they need, and they won’t be a problem anymore. That’s all you need to do; correct the mistake by killing off millions of people. Simple.
It doesn’t matter that insurance companies, who started receiving monies from millions of the newly-insured and those who don’t currently need health care, started jacking up the prices of private health insurance and the cost of pharmaceuticals—simply because they could. And the bottom line made your bosses even wealthier. Kill off the weak, before the strong need to use the system. Preserve profits.

You’ve been hard at work during this year. You have financially crippled the Environment Protection Agency; you have financially crippled nearly all the human service organizations; you have financially crippled nearly every Agency that endeavors to make life in America work better for those who weren’t born rich. Because that President you don’t want to talk about endeavored to improve the quality of life in America; and enabled millions of people to be able to Afford Health Care.

And you have fed America’s Eternal War Machine so that our military budget dwarfs that of every other country on the planet, and still they want more.

US military budgets

When our current President gets the nuclear war with North Korea that he so ardently wants to have happen, to prove how Big he is, our spending on the Military-Industrial Complex will skyrocket, and all of your bosses will have a field day. Meanwhile 25.37 million North Koreans will die, because the leader of their country is just as juvenile as our own.

You were elected to serve the needs of the American people.
When are you going to grow up, and act like responsible adults?

 

1https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2017/03/20/forbes-2017-billionaires-list-meet-the-richest-people-on-the-planet/#3e05fd4562ff
2https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwimhZ-Z4rXWAhVBHmMKHTkWAXgQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fentry%2Fhouse-representatives-calendar-2017_us_583ef06ae4b0c33c8e133590&usg=AFQjCNGIQZeK3EKty32BVZbEREJU6bkzFw

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 130: Part One- We aren’t what we think we are

September 18, 2017

 “The key idea of Einstein’s theory of general relativity is that gravity is not an ordinary force, but rather a property of space-time geometry.”
http://www.einstein-online.info/elementary/generalRT/GeomGravity

“…general relativity is about more than just understanding gravity. It’s about explaining the totality of existence. General relativity inspired a new vision of the entire fabric of the cosmos. From general relativity flowed the realization that the universe is expanding, that it contains spacetime bottomless pits called black holes, that it is traversed by ripples in space triggered by cataclysmic collisions.
“The implications for the further reaches of the universe were more surprising than even Einstein ever realized,” physicist Stephen Hawking has written.
General relativity explains how the universe can obey physical laws that apply to any form of motion. It’s at the heart of identifying and investigating crucial questions about space and time, existence and reality. And its implications are not limited to esoteric concerns on cosmic scales — it has its down-to-Earth impacts as well. Without general relativity, for instance, GPS devices would be worthless. Satellite signals designed to keep your car on the right road would be off by miles if not corrected for the effects predicted by Einstein’s math.  -Tom Siegfried
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/einsteins-genius-changed-sciences-perception-gravity

I’m not a physicist, but I am fascinated with physics. Our understanding of gravity is theoretical. It’s a pretty good theory, and aspects of the theory are demonstrated all the time. However, no one really understands gravity; nor does anyone really know why gravity exists We haven’t ventured far enough into the Universe to know that the theory is True throughout the Universe. It’s simply the best explanation that has come along.

Saturn's Rings_Blue Marble

The image on the right was taken by the Cassini spacecraft, a few days before it crashed into the atmosphere of Saturn last week. The upper part of the image shows a portion the rings of Saturn; the lighter area at the bottom of the image are believed to be ice crystals ejected by one of Saturn’s moons. A portion of Saturn itself, is in the black area at top left of the image. It’s black because it’s facing away from the Sun, the light source for all the light in our Solar System. The image on the left was created from the data transmitted from Cassini.

Years ago, while working with NASA, Carl Sagan requested that the Voyager spacecraft take a parting photograph of the view behind, as Voyager left the Solar System. In that photo, Earth was seen as a tiny blue spot in a shaft of light.

The Universe is far larger than we can possibly imagine. A human tendency toward hubris—excessive pride or self-confidence—leads us to imagining that we know for a fact, those things we know very little about.

Those whose faith resides in Science often use the same kind of language to discount those whose faith resides in a Creator. Granted, many of those whose faith resides in a Creator use language that isn’t sophisticated, and cannot provide mathematical proofs to give credence to their ideas. I cannot provide proofs to my ideas about the Creator, my ideas about the Universe. All I can tell you is that when I was an atheistic young adult, I encountered the Spirit of the Creator of all life; and this encounter changed the direction of my entire life.

From The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan:

“…There is no reason I should expect an omnipotent being to leave evidence of His existence, except that the Gifford Lectures are supposed to be about that evidence. And I hope it is clear that the fact that I do not see evidence of such a God’s existence does not mean that I then derive from that fact that I know that God does not exist.
“That’s quite a different remark. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Neither is it evidence of presence. And this is again a situation where our tolerance for ambiguity is required. The only thrust of these remarks is for those—and it’s by far the greatest majority of contemporary theologians—who believe that there are natural pieces of evidence for the existence of God or gods. And so, I have no problems with any of that. And, as you say, if a god existed who gave us free will or merely noted that we had free will, and wished to let our free will operate, then he or she or it might very well give us no evidence of his, her, or its existence for just that reason.
“…That we have to use our sense organs and our intellectual abilities to comprehend these issues, I think, is apparent. Perhaps they are limited, but it’s all we have. So, do the best with what we have. Don’t foist, I say, our predispositions on the universe. Look openly at the universe and see how it is. And, how is it? It is that there’s order in there. It’s an amazing amount of order, not that we have introduced but that is there already. Now, you may choose to conclude from that fact that there is an ordering principle and that God exists, and then we come back to all the other arguments: Where did the ordering principle come from? Where did God come from? If you say that I must not ask the question of where God came from, then why must I ask the question of where the universe came from? And so on.” [emphasis added]

From an old entry: Chronicles in Ordinary Time 68: We aren’t what we think we are
https://mjarts.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/chronicles-in-ordinary-time-68-we-arent-what-we-think-we-are/

Imagine a baseball stadium…stadium

I’m not really a science guy, but I’m fascinated with science; I find that my generic understanding of science helps me to understand the Universe, which means that science helps me understand the nature of the Creator.

As I understand it, if an atom was the size of a baseball stadium, the nucleus would be the size of a baseball, and the electrons of a water molecule would orbit somewhere within the confines of the stadium structure. Quantum mechanics, and that concept which is sometimes, but not necessarily accurately, called ‘Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle’, proposes that the act of looking for a particle actually changes the location of the particle—so I’ve indicated the Hydrogen molecules as amorphous ‘star’-like images. When you look to find these atomic particles, they will most likely be somewhere else…

The rest of the volume of the stadium is empty. Electromagnetic forces and nothing solid. We are made up of zillions of atoms; consequently, we are made up of zillions of packets of empty space and a ‘few’ atomic particles. And yet, we believe ourselves to be made up of solid material. The apparent solidity is caused by the electromagnetic forces within the atoms.

We aren’t what we think we are.

So, what are we?

A question that has been asked for Millennia. One of the aspects of living in this cyber-era is that we have a tendency to believe we know so much more than our human counterparts of the last centuries. There are a lot of ‘factoids’ that we now know that people in the past did not know; but that doesn’t always mean we are all that much wiser…

I believe that everyone’s idea of the Creator is too small. This is ‘an occupational hazard’ of being human. Our minds can only perceive so much. People can’t really imagine an Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator; we are stuck here in time, never knowing what’s ahead, and relatively powerless to accomplish anything that will last. But we dream of More. We realize that we were made for More; until the World squishes such thoughts out of our minds; by its incredible and ever-growing weight.

That ‘blue dot’ is not anywhere near the center of the Universe; it isn’t anywhere near the center of the Milky Way; I believe this is the idea that first confounded the ‘religious experts’ of earlier centuries. ‘Surely [‘stop calling me Shirley’] we, who are created in the image of God, must be in the center of the Universe.’ In reality, we are probably located in a low-rent district near the edge of the galaxy.

I believe it is our ability to think that is how we are made in the image of the Creator. I know from my own experience that we can change the way we think; we can change the way we perceive our world. I believe that we can come in contact with the Creator of the Universe through the labyrinthian pathways of our brains. Functional MRIs can plot the path of a thought. Functional MRIs can show that in the mind of one with Bipolar Disorder, thoughts get blocked; as if by a roadblock on the freeway. Studies have shown that with rather drastic methods, those ‘roadblocks’ can be bypassed. Sometimes those blockages can be bypassed with the use of ancient herbal formulae.

I believe we can re-program our brains through the way we think. I believe that the Spirit of the Creator can help us to reprogram our brains; and can ‘plant’ new ideas in our brain. We do not have to be the victims of our brain chemistry. But changing the way our brains operate doesn’t just happen; one has to cooperate with the process, and it requires a lot of work.

I believe these ideas because I have seen them at work in my own life. I have become a person, that in the past, I did not want to be. I have discovered that other people are more important to my life than I am. By nature, I am a curmudgeon who really doesn’t care about people I do not know. In spite of myself, I’ve changed.

A friend asked:

My sensory nerves are ‘dissolving’—I lose sensation on a continual basis; and a bunch of neurologists have no explanations as to why, or how long. Ironically, as I lose these sensations, they are often replaced with pain. Sometimes, intense pain. For the most part, the pain does not get worse when I move. So, I keep moving.

I have spinal damage in my neck and lumbar regions—damage that probably occurred in high school. My parents didn’t have the money, and didn’t see the need, to take me to a neurologist. I have no proof it happened in high school. I’ve been in three ‘totaled’ car wrecks, and did stupid stuff as a contractor. The old damage that shows up in contemporary MRIs could have occurred sometime in the first decades of my adult life.

All I know for sure is that the continual pain I’d felt for years, went away one day; the day after I went to a ‘Crusade’. I felt compelled to ‘go forward’ with the dozens of people who were leaving their seats in the Civic Auditorium. I did not want the ‘Spiritual Gifts’ the preacher was handing out. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to go forward. Nothing happened that night, beyond embarrassment. The next day I realized that the pain in my low back, pain I’d had for years, was gone. It stayed away for a long time. Apparently, something happened in my brain that was ‘stronger’ than my brain chemistry and the damage to my spine. My mind overcame pain.

But I can’t prove it; and I can’t download software into your brain. Part of the continuing story of my faith walk. Stuff I cannot prove. My experience in encountering the Spirit of the Creator has become my “Formal Principle”.

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is taking place soon. Martin Luther nailed his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517. The ‘official’ beginning of the Reformation. His intense study of Scripture became his “Formal Principle”.

I wasn’t raised in the Church; I never entered a church sanctuary until I was in my twenties. My reading of the Bible happened in the same time period as my reading of Marcus Aurelius. Both are profound. While I believe that the Bible is entirely inspired by the Spirit of the Creator; and is entirely True in its original languages, for the purposes that they were written; I don’t believe the Bible is entirely factual. In one of the oldest books of Torah [Older Testament], the Creator speaks to Job, and tells him that about 2/3 of what was written—the speeches by Job’s ‘Comforters’—is actually nonsense. However, it hadn’t been written at that time, so we aren’t entirely sure which 2/3 is being referenced.

Jesus and His Apostles practiced Judaism, not Christianity; an altered Judaism, which is what caused the Religious Right to be ticked off. That which became the Newer Testament was written to believers who practiced Judaism as taught by Jesus. They later became known as Christians, but there’s no indication that they stopped practicing Judaism. Judaism without circumcision, and without Kosher food. This is probably about as far away from Luther’s Holy Roman Catholic Church as one can get, while still using the name of Jesus. I have trouble believing that Paul and the Apostles realized that they were writing the “Formal Principles” of the modern Church. Would their writings have been different, if they knew what was to come? I have no idea.

We won’t know, until Time does not matter.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 129: Telling our stories

August 26, 2017

7 Doctors

I just started reading Time And Relative Dimensions In Faith [TARDIF], by Andrew Crome and James McGrath; an academic work that is written to be accessible to those outside academia. For those who aren’t aware, Doctor Who began broadcasting on British television in the early 1960s and has continued until the present. The series has given birth to dozens of novels, audiobooks and graphic novels, as well as the hundreds of television episodes and a few movies; Doctor Who fans span the globe. While I am not a “Whovian,” I am a fan; and have spent a lot of time this year and last, creating my own Doctor Who illustrations. The Doctor has been able to stay on British television for over 50 years by the plot device of enabling The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, to ‘rejuvenate’ every few years; remaining the same person, but displaying a different face, and a different personality after each ‘rejuvenation’. The newest version of The Doctor is female; the first female Doctor in history [although not the first Time Lord to switch genders during rejuvenation] and is over 2,000 years old. The Doctor, and his various Companions [usually human] travel through time and space in the TARDIS, a somewhat broken device that is very much larger on in the inside than it is on the outside. The TARDIS has a camouflage device that broke in the 1960s while camouflaging itself as a British Police Call Box; The Doctor has never bothered to fix it. People walk by the TARDIS all the time and rarely see it.

Some quotations:

Doctor Who: “It’s not just work, it’s your life. And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible. Or, what’s impossible? What’s a fantasy?”
Last Christmas [2015]

Astrid: This Christmas thing? What’s it about?
The Doctor: Long story. I should know. I was there. I got the last room.
Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned [2007]

The Doctor: Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life… an unimportant life… a life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s… what defines a species.
Thin Ice [2017]

The Doctor: You forgot the last time. You remembered the fear and you put it into fairy stories. It’s a human superpower, forgetting. If you remembered how things felt, you’d have stopped having wars. And stopped having babies.
Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night [2014]

While I no longer pore over the news, as I did earlier in the year, I do read news articles for a couple hours every couple of days. Current events are extremely troubling. I’m reminded of another story:

             I will impersonate a man. His name… Alonso Quijana.
A country gentleman, no longer young.
Being retired, he has much time for books.
He studies them from morn till night…
and often through the night till morn again.
And all he reads oppresses him…
fills him with indignation…
at man’s murderous ways towards man.
He ponders the problem… how to make better a world…
Where fraud, deceit, and malice are mingled with
truth and sincerity.

              He broods and broods and broods and broods…
and broods and finally his brains dry up.
He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity…
and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…
to become a knight-errant, and sally forth…
to roam the world in search of adventures…
to right all wrongs, to mount a crusade…
to raise up the weak and those in need.
The Man of La Mancha

My ‘discovery’ of Don Quixote was the first step toward faith. The idea of living for an ideal beyond my own needs and wants. ‘The Doctor’ is another step in that faith journey. The Doctor is a Knight Errant, sallying forth to right wrongs–even though he might protest to the contrary.

Story enables us to see into different worlds, different ideas. Story allows us to experiment with new ways of living our lives. I think this is part of the reason that Jesus so often taught with stories. As we ‘listen’ to a story we automatically ‘see’ the story from a perspective not of our making; we ‘see’ the story from the perspective of the storyteller.

It is when we can see life from another perspective, our opinions about our own lives can change, or we can see where change might be desirable. I’ve been reminded in the last few days that one of the greatest gifts we can give to a person is to consistently listen to them, without being judgmental. We don’t have to agree with someone in order to listen to them; it’s alright to allow someone to think differently than you. Their life experience is different than yours; it’s entirely possible that you would agree with someone you disagree with; if your life had been the same as yours. I believe that one of the keys to effective listening is to try and place myself within the other person’s context; so that I continually ask myself, ‘would I have behaved that way, in their shoes?’ It can be frustrating when we honestly can’t imagine living someone else’s life experiences; the listening does not require that I change myself to think like someone else; I am simply viewing life through the stories they tell me.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.
where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy…
It is in giving that we are given.

St. Francis of Assisi

 

 

 

 

 

MJ Arts Introduces the 13th Doctor!

August 19, 2017

MJ Arts Introduces the 13th Doctor!

Two 13th Doctor images on a variety of Society6 products, delivered to your mailbox.

Mobile Device Cases & Skins / Stationery Cards / T-Shirts / V-Necks / Tank Tops / Long Sleeve / Biker Tanks / Hoodies / All Over Print Shirts / Throw Pillows / Tote Bags / Shower Curtains / Duvet Covers / Rugs / Wall Clocks / Mugs, Travel Mugs / Laptop & iPad Skins / iPad mini Cases / Laptop Sleeves / Rectangular Pillows / Wall Tapestries / Throw Blankets and more

https://society6.com/mjartscom

Introducing the Doctor Who backpack, an original creation from MJ Arts!

The design features all the Doctors from the 21st Century, and introduces the 13th Doctor;

as well as having a cameo appearance by the 4th Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and K-9.

This pack is an exclusive design sold by Society6:

https://society6.com/product/13th-doctor633268_backpack#s6-7427149p63a209v733

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 128: Forefathers

July 10, 2017

Forefathers
Dan Fogelberg

They came from Scandinavia, the land of midnight sun
And crossed the North Atlantic when this century was young
They’d heard that in America every man was free
To live the way he chose to live and be who he could be
Some of them were farmers there and tilled the frozen soil
But all they got was poverty for all their earnest toil
They say one was a sailor who sailed the wide world round
Made home port, got drunk one night, walked off the pier and drowned
My mother was of Scottish blood; it’s there that she was born
They brought her to America in 1924
They left behind the highlands and the heather-covered hills
And came to find America with broad expectant dreams and iron wills
My granddad worked the steel mills of central Illinois
His daughter was his jewel; his son was just his boy
For thirty years he worked the mills and stoked the coke-fed fires
And looked toward the day when he’d at last turn 65 and could retire
And the sons become the fathers and their daughters will be wives
As the torch is passed from hand to hand
And we struggle through our lives
Though the generations wander, the lineage survives
And all of us, from dust to dust, we all become forefathers by and by
The woman and the man were wed just after the war
And they settled in this river town and three fine sons she bore
One became a lawyer and one fine pictures drew
And one became this lonely soul who sits here now
And sings this song to you
———————————-

Dan Fogelberg was a ‘lonely soul’ we lost too early, to the C-word. I miss him; though we never met. Dan and I had a lot in common; he provided the soundtrack to several of my carpentry projects over the years; back in the days when it was safe for me to take on such projects.

‘My mother was of Norwegian blood,’ she came here with her mother and two sisters in 1927. She left behind the fjords of Norway, and fish caught directly from the ocean, minutes before. I think my grandmother missed her home, although she and I never talked about such things. She made me cinnamon toast on my way home from elementary school; I think she let my Mom know, by telephone, when I passed her house on my way to school in the mornings…

My Dad had worked in ‘the steel mills’ of Portland. By the time I came along, 9 years after their marriage, he was a Public Accountant. I think he worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly all of the time I knew him. I also think that may be the exaggeration of a son who never got to know his father. Having taken an unexpected ‘right turn’ after leaving the Army with a Medical Discharge, Dad went to work in the shipyards of Portland, working as a welder and a machinist. In the years that followed there were more machine shops, until all of his tools were destroyed in a fire. Then came carpentry and a very brief career as a realtor. I don’t know what he expected when he turned 65; as I tell people, he died at 62 and we buried him at 67. The stroke that forced him to retire came at 62; he hated his life from that point forward—except for the births and visits of two of his grandchildren. He went Home during the pregnancy of our third child. I had my only ‘heart-felt,’ ‘conversation’ with him at 67 in a hospital, as he lay in a coma. He had contracted a flesh-eating disease in a place where no man wants such things to occur; ‘Fournier’s gangrene’. The docs were trying to figure out what to do with what was left, and Dad fortunately had a lower-brain-stem stroke and went Home.

‘The woman and the man were wed just after the war; And they settled in this river town and three one fine son she bore…’

My folks lived in Portland for much of their lives; Portland, sometimes called ‘the City of Bridges’. Our middle kid and his wife now own my parents’ first home, purchased in 1946, when there was a forest across the street. I’ve lived here all my life. My Dad was installing the bright red kitchen floor tiles while I was being born. The tiles remain—they may be made from Red Kryptonite…

I don’t much like birthdays. For some reason, they seem irrelevant to my life. I am the age I am; and I am here by the Grace of the One who created me. The intervening years have been a mixed bag of frustration and wonder…

I spent the last two weeks arguing with my computer and upgrading my website. www.mjarts.com  There are still some kinks to work out, aesthetically; but I don’t have the time to continue at this point. So many images. I find that I have trouble remembering all the names… For a few years, I trolled Craigslist every day, finding work to pursue; every day I went through a folder in my computer that contains all of the images I use for marketing myself [1300 files]; I stopped trolling a couple of years ago, and now have to hunt visually to find the images I want from, past work—I don’t remember the names.

I had a strange experience a couple of weeks ago, being invited to talk to a group of ‘children’s illustration junkies’ from Ohio about my work; I explained that if there is a list out there of ‘least successful, published, children’s illustrators’ I must be on that list. While I’m still a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, I don’t participate all that much. I got tired of hearing ‘civilians’ [children’s book buyers] praising my work, and the ‘professionals’ [editors and such]—telling me that it wasn’t ‘accurate enough’…although they buy up cartoons all the time. Accuracy?

I have a biography of Amelia Earhart on my desk, Amelia with a very large head, to remind me to pursue such work… Sort of like this:

Who is Doctor Who?

What’s ahead for this next year?

A trip to Colorado.

Converting a couple of books to Kindle.

Continued work on my new version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, A Scandal in Bohemia.

Beyond that? I have no idea.

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 127: Brokenness Can Be the Beginning

July 2, 2017

Independence Day Holiday, 2017

It is when we are broken that we realize we cannot be what we want to be; we cannot accomplish the things we want to accomplish in our own strength. We see our faults for what they are, and we stop hiding from them. These broken places can become places of strength. The broken places are where the Light shines through.

America once had a standing in the world as the ‘home of democracy’; the place of freedom for anyone to be who we can become. Where every citizen can become President. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:
My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

“Once again”—presumably a reference to the Civil War. Hopefully applicable to the less-than-civil ‘war’ that is happening in America today.

My maternal Grandparents and their family, at different times, came from Norway to America in the early 1920’s. I don’t know why, exactly. I realize now that I really didn’t care, all that much. One of my less-positive attributes, a problem of being ‘asocial’; perhaps a consequence of being an ‘Only’ raised by working parents. I’ve recently learned that there was a famine in Norway in the early 1920’s; my assumption is that this was a contributing factor to their emigration.
My conclusions, based on growing up in my family, is that when my Grandparents left Norway [which was referred to as ‘the Old country’], they decided to become Americans; rather than Norwegian-Americans. I’ve never bothered to find out much about their lives… I know that my Grandmother traveled by train with her three young daughters, across the US from New York. My Grandmother’s first experience of seeing people of Color. She was surprised by the dark brown skin, but found the porters on the train to be very nice. My Grandmother spoke no English at the time; my guess is that she learned a lot from her three daughters, as they learned to speak English. We had Norwegian cookies at Christmas; a small Norwegian flag sat on the mantle. Occasionally Norwegian relatives visited Portland. My Grandparent made at least one trip back to their Norwegian home.

I don’t know how they would feel about today…

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”
It doesn’t take long, if one reads stories from the International Press, that we aren’t there anymore. America is failing the world, in terms of our example. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is rightly being called the “Leader of the Free World.”

The Bible uses a word called, “repent” to symbolize this understanding of our own brokenness, our weakness, and our determination to move beyond our failures through the strength of a Higher Power. The Greek word, usually translated as “repent” actually means, ‘to see the world through new eyes’. Over the centuries, the word “repent” has taken on a moralistic tone regarding one’s behavior. This understanding is incorrect.

Four Presidents, I believe, found the strength to be dynamic leaders of our country, through having discovered their brokenness. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. The moment some people finish reading that sentence their minds race in rebellion. Do I believe that these are America’s Greatest Presidents? Probably not; I’m not a Presidential historian. There were a lot of Presidents before Lincoln; there have been a lot of Presidents after JFK, who, I believe, never had the opportunity to fully prove his Greatness.

All of these Presidents were flawed; which is part of my point.
Abraham Lincoln, clinically depressed, married to a bipolar wife, lost three children to death by illness; two before the Civil War.
Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day, early in his political life. He chose to suffer hardship in the Dakotas, leaving his newborn daughter with his sister; possibly in some strange act of penance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken with polio eleven years before he became President. He taught himself to ‘walk’ using iron leg braces and the assistance of a son.
John F. Kennedy severely injured his back in the Pacific, during World War II, and was in continual pain for the rest of his life, and addicted to pain killers while in office.

Four men, labeled by history as a “Leader of the Free World,” who inwardly realized they could not accomplish anything in their own strength and power, regardless of how the world might view them. Men who became broken by circumstances, and found the strength to overcome their brokenness. I am of the opinion that all these men came to rely on a Higher Power to enable them to do what they could not do on their own. Men who decided that they dare not fail.

Today our President is failing all over the world, and he seems to be oblivious to it. Some critics say that rather than ‘Making America Great Again’, he is making China great. Rather than encouraging the country to become more than it currently is, leading by example, he gets in ‘twitter wars’ with journalists and celebrities…To me, it seems he still thinks he’s on a ‘reality TV show’; rather than attempting to be the ‘Leader of the Free World’. A President who seems to mainly be interested in his own popularity rather than caring for the least of us. A President who supports a Tax Cut for the wealthy at the cost of health care for the poor.

From my reading of Facebook, some will think that I’m whining about the result of the 2016 Presidential Election; this isn’t true. I’m a ‘progressive centrist’. I voted for the Jewish Socialist who spoke the words of Jesus, the words of Torah, whether or not he realized it. I’m writing about character. ‘Leading by Example’; something any Senior Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts will affirm; but something our President seems never to have learned…

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 126: America, welcome to Broken

June 25, 2017

“What kind of a country are we if anyone can come before you and talk about cutting health care for children with disabilities in order to give tax breaks to the richest people on earth?
Bernie Sanders, June 2017

“This is the first time that we are aware, that a black professional, in law enforcement, himself being shot and treated as an ordinary black guy on the street,” Tate told Fox News. “This is a real problem.”


“Welcome to Broken, America”

The other day I wrote the first three words to a woman I know; a woman who had the courage to write that because of the pain she is in, from a damaged body, that she isn’t able to live up to the expectations that she probably learned from her mother and her mother’s friends and families. Expectations about how a home should operate, how it should look, and what a hostess should be expected to be… All guesswork on my part; I don’t know her well enough to explore her background and expectations.

I never put much stock in those expectations, although I learned them from my parents. Like so many other areas of my life, I chose not to comply.

I choose not to comply.

Probably a mantra of my generation. Most clearly portrayed in this photograph, from the 1968 Democratic Convention:


It is so important to remember that this photo was published during the Democratic Convention; not during the Republican convention where Nixon became the Republican candidate for President. I wonder how many of those pictured above ended up on Wall Street?

1968 was a Hell of a year…
http://cds.library.brown.edu/projects/1968/reference/timeline.html

There was a time in America, [for most of my lifetime and before, when the President of the United States would stand [or sit] before the citizens of the country, and attempt to bring some order out of the chaos. History shows there were a lot of lies, behind the scenes. These men were far from perfect. However, they understood the importance of Leadership.

Two days ago, the New York Times published:

Trump’s Lies

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So, we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.
By DAVID LEONHARDT and STUART A. THOMPSON
JUNE 23, 2017
“https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html

Recent polling implies that 38%, the same 38% that is unaware that Trumpcare will give $600 BILLION in tax breaks to the wealthiest in America by stripping $600 BILLION in benefits from the poorest in the country [Because, of course, Congressional Rules state that new acts have to be budget-neutral. Every cut in taxes has to be offset by a cut in services].

That 38% very likely believes that the last two paragraphs are ‘fake news’ because that is what the President has brainwashed them to believe.

TR was correct. “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of individuals and nations alike.”

I met a man with character on Friday, a guy who owns a service station. One of the few persons who ever ask to see my ID, even though it’s written boldly on my debit card. “Anyone I catch not checking for their customer’s ID, gets fired from my station. I owe that service to my customers.” I haven’t heard those kinds of words for a long time. From his accent, I expect that he is an immigrant.

It seems so long ago since I watched a President stand up before the American public, tears in his eyes, speaking about the most recent hate-crime murder victims…

“I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that. And that’s terrible to say. And it can change.”

Two months after that speech; and again, two months later; and three months after that and four months after that:

“It was at least the 14th time that President Obama spoke to the nation in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting — and the sixth time within just the past year.
“Obama himself has acknowledged that his remarks have become all too predictable. “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting has become routine. My response here, from this podium, has become routine,” Obama said last October, following the shooting at an Oregon community college.”
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/06/12/14-mass-shootings-14-speeches-how-obama-has-responded/85798652/

And then the shootings by the police…

“These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues.
“According to various studies, not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years, African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over.
“After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.
“Last year African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites.
“African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites; African Americans defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost ten percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.”
http://fortune.com/2016/07/07/obama-sterling-castile-speech/

And our current President says almost nothing. He tweets a lot.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable,” President Trump said on Twitter. “The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

In the following quotation:

“This is the first time that we are aware, that a black professional, in law enforcement, himself being shot and treated as an ordinary black guy on the street,” Tate told Fox News. “This is a real problem.”

I’m not positive that the speaker understands that shooting is not supposed to be the treatment of ‘the ordinary black guy on the street’.

America, welcome to broken.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 125: Thank You, Mazza Museum Tour 2017!

June 16, 2017

“…for I am in the way if being an amateur chemist; that is to say, I earn my living with it on the side, my real profession being the writing of poetry, at which I have had considerable success. Only last week I sold a poem to a magazine for $12, and the month before I received checks for $7.50 and $5.00 respectively, for verse…”
Edward Ansley, in Paul Gallico’s “The Glass Door”

The business of the making of Children’s Books is not often like the stories contained in Children’s Books. I have found the business of the making of Children’s Books to be unlike any other business I’ve engaged in…earning a living from making of Children’s Books is a difficult thing to do, and is frequently unrewarding.

Then, as in a Children’s Book, the Unlikely sometimes happens:

A parting shot—one of those photos one wishes they would have taken a better version of, if they had thought about it—of some of the members of this year’s [Year 23] Mazza Museum Tour; a busload of retired teachers and librarians, all of them docents at the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio. “The Mazza Museum is the most diverse collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators in the world.”
https://www.mazzamuseum.org/

Every Summer [it really is Summer, somewhere in this country], these folks travel across the country to visit the studios of Children’s Book illustrators; purely for the love of Children’s Books.

I’m still not sure why, but I was honored by being invited to join this group for lunch this afternoon, along with Carolyn Conahan, a fellow illustrator located here in Portland. Last year I received a phone call  from Benjamin Sapp, the Director of the Mazza Museum, asking ‘how would I like to have a busload of people come to my studio to watch me work?’ I explained that my ‘studio’ is full when my wife is in here with me, and that I’m not sure a busload of people would fit inside our house…

So, this afternoon I told a busload of Children’s Book lovers about my haphazard journey as a Children’s Book illustrator—the illustrator of Children’s Books that ‘no one has ever read’…Exaggeration for effect. One of the visitors had a copy of “Oregon At Last” with her, so I’m not entirely unread— http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016T82HDY —it merely seems that way.

For the benefit of those who did not have the opportunity to visit my tiny, cluttered ‘studio’, some links—

A very old PowerPoint presentation of my office and my work:

http://mjarts.com/samples/MJ%20Arts%20Illustration%203%20parts.ppt

The computers have changed, the mess remains…

My youtube channel, containing a number of videos, and an interview on Back Page:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GspLTb3Qbq8&index=1&list=PLNGfGb77KAQh4TVIktKvkxCYGNGPXVylU

Some of my more recent images:

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship featuring the 10th Doctor [precursor to the 11th Doctor’s visit]

A BeeGees CD album for a private collector

Thank You, Mazza Museum Tour 2017!

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 124: Donald on the Road to Damascus

June 15, 2017

I’m currently working on a new illustration, one that woke me up one night, a few weeks ago. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often; when they do, I make an effort to pay attention to them. I have no idea why I’m working on the illustration—in terms of what will be happening with the illustration when it is finished. I’m working on it in my ‘spare’ time; with the expectation that at some point in my story, I will learn why.

The image deals with Saul of Tarsus and the Road to Damascus, taken from the New Testament Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Road to Damascus is where Saul, Pharisee of the Pharisees, Ultra-Conservative Jewish Defender of the faith; he who became a Jewish hunter of the followers of Jesus—sent to imprison them—the road where Saul was knocked off his horse, and blinded:

‘As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

From there he is taken to Damascus, and brought to the house of Ananias, a devout follower of Jesus, who has been warned in a dream that the feared Saul would come to his house; and Ananias would heal Saul of his blindness. This happens, and Saul becomes Paul. The rest is history, or not; depending upon your beliefs regarding the New Testament.

Having no idea what the Road to Damascus looks like now, much less what it looked like 2,000 years ago, I did what I always do—an image search for ‘Damascus Road’ on Google. Amongst the images of Syria, I found this one:

Donald on the Road to Damascus By Claire Palmer

Speaking for myself, a Believer who was trained in high school and college in Critical Thinking, I have a tendency to treat Biblical events as mythology, more than literal fact… yes, even in God’s Word. I believe that Scripture is entirely True in its original languages; for the purpose it was intended. The Creator of the Universe told Job that 2/3 of the Book of Job [believed to be the oldest of the Biblical texts] is entirely wrong. According to the Creator, not all of Scripture is literally accurate. There are many who seem to forget this piece of information.

I was pondering the notion of what it would have ‘looked like’ to be there in Damascus at the time Saul was knocked off of his horse; or even the more currently applicable incident found in Daniel 4, where:

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar [who was king of Babylon c. 605 BE – c. 562 BCE, the longest reign of any king of the Neo-Babylonian empire]. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird…

…and eventually King Nebuchadnezzar repents and returns.

What would the Washington Post have to say about an event like this?

If the story is true, there would have been bystanders, witnesses to the circumstances, whose personal descriptions have not survived the test of time. Not enough journalists at the time…

Suppose The Donald is about to receive some ‘horrible’ fall from his throne, becoming the least effective, the least popular, and probably most hated President of current American history [he says the same, about his predecessor]. Where will he go? Will he forsake his ‘palace’ in NYC and go to Saudi, where he has lots of friends, or to one of his many other favored places…or will all of his allies suddenly disappear as the Trump Empire begins its downfall…

One of the ironies is that at the final Correspondents Dinner that President Obama attended, he roasted The Donald; and as the cameras focused on the future President’s face, one could see that he was seething. It is said that one of his main goals in life would be to take the Presidency from the man who had so thoroughly insulted him during that dinner. He is a proud man.


I have seen the facial expression of the middle photo so many times; and I keep getting reminded of the face of Benito Mussolini, dictator over Italy during World War II. Another proud man who fell from his ‘throne’.

Do I wish ill upon P45? No; I think the man is an egotistical fool who had no business running for President—he clearly has no idea what the job entails. P45 was raised to be a real estate magnate who somehow believes that wealth gives him the necessary wisdom to run a University, and somehow, to run a country. He and his thumbs have shown him to be his own worst enemy.

What saddens me most is to see our country as it has become in the last nine or so months; the way that a President who ran a campaign based on racial bias has encouraged the country to become more racially biased; how angry people have taken the statements of an angry man, and found them to be a justification for violence. A few weeks ago, Portland, Oregon was leading the news stories, after the murder of two men who were defending two girls of color from my local high school, girls who were being verbally abused by a known White Supremacist.

Portland, Oregon, my home town, has never had a history of racial tolerance. The State of Oregon was created to be entirely white. Portland was largely white until World War II, when the city became home to the building of Liberty Ships. In order to find workers for the shipyards, people of color were imported to Portland; the community of Vanport was created as an integrated place for them to live. Vanport was flooded in 1948, and hundreds of people of color needed to be relocated; they were sent to the part of Portland with the lowest property values. My Dad worked in the shipyards; I assume that this is where he learned racial tolerance. I grew up in Portland, oblivious to the City’s efforts to keep people of color ‘in their place’. I am mindful of the words of Charlie Black, one of the thirty or so lawyers who had worked on the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared school segregation unlawful and thus began the end of the old Southern racist regime. He tells of his first encounter with Louis Armstrong, at a dance hall in Austin, Texas:

He was the first genius I had ever seen. That may be a structurable part of the process that led me to the Brown case. The moment of first being, and knowing oneself to be, in the presence of genius, is a solemn moment; it is perhaps the moment of final and indelible perception of man’s utter transcendence of all else created. It is impossible to overstate the significance of a sixteen-year-old Southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black. We literally never saw a black man, then, in any but a servant’s capacity. There were of course black professionals in Austin, as one later learned, but they kept to themselves, out back of town, no doubt shunning humiliation…
Every person of decency in the South of those days must have had some doubts about racism, and I had mine even then—perhaps more than most others. But Louis opened my eyes wide, and put to me a choice. Blacks, the saying went, were “all right in their place.” What was the “place” of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung?

We are better people than we, as a country, are presenting ourselves to be. We can improve.

 


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