Tuesday, January 17, 2017

World Set Aright

Seeing the upside down world
in the drops hanging on the trees
I wonder - 

If I looked close enough
and tried hard enough
could I find a reflection of a water drop
reflected through a water drop
and find a world made right?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Data-Based Adulting

We need to come together as adults. We don't have any other reasonable option.

Look, I hope the GOP is able to come up with a better, cheaper version of healthcare that covers everyone, as much as possible. I hope they can fix the problems that do exist in the ACA as it exists. That would be nice.

But on what basis should anyone believe that they can do so?

Saying, "I really, really, REALLY hate Obamacare! It's a doodyhead plan!" is not the same as actually having a rational, well-thought-out, workable solution.

Basing a "plan" (in this case, repealing the ACA) on a hope and hatred of the old way is not a plan, it's silly, childish, wishful thinking.

Same for Trump and "Russia didn't do it! I don't believe the intelligence community and their data!"
That's fine for him to say it, but based on what? What research has he done? What operatives in the field studying data can he produce? He says he "knows things" but what? He isn't saying what he "knows..."

Saying, "I really, really, REALLY don't want to believe our intelligence community" is not the same
as having rational, well-researched, data-based opinions.

This is the problem with many in the modern GOP and, frankly, many in modern conservatism, unfortunately. They do not operate upon data and research, but on hatred of something based upon fake news and no news and wishful thinking.

It's childish and ridiculous and has no place in a rational government, flawed though it may be.
I say this not to insult all conservatives but to appeal to the best in all of us: We can't operate on wishful thinking and empty claims and fake news. Let us join together and insist upon not repealing one existing and working (if flawed) plan on the hope that maybe, somewhere out there, something might exist that is better. IF a better plan can be envisioned and spelled out and considered rationally, put it out there. But until such time as that happens, do not even speak of repealing what you have no plan to replace.

This is something that surely we all can agree with and rally around, yes?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Nearly Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
and all thru' the woods
all the creatures were dancing
like good creatures should

He Fox on drums and
She Fox on paws
were prancing and dancing
to Rabbit's applause

The Mice really boogied
while Squirrel only stood
and Thomas Tortoise cavorted
and was amazingly good!

This wild joyous romp
in the forest, Christmas eve
was chaperoned from above
by a crow named Ol' Steve

As for me? I saw it all
while out for a hike
which I recommend highly
if hiking, you like

For good Christmas hikes
are filled with wild choruses
when out for a ramble
through holiday forests-es

Monday, November 28, 2016

Stupid Lies

The difference between the two candidates for office is still visible, as is the problem with "President Trump" that remains and is deeply troubling.
What Trump says about the election results:
"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
He made a specific and enumerated fact claim, that "millions" of people voted illegally.
1. There is zero evidence for this.
2. Trump has zero evidence for this.
3. Knowing that there is zero evidence for it, he made the claim anyway.
This is the exact sort of casual lying that should disqualify Trump from office. He has constantly and demonstrably made ridiculously false claim after absurd fact claim. Claims that are not supported by data. There are not just lies, they are stupid lies. They insult our intelligence, or should.
This is a problem and now it is our nation's problem. It's a problem because now, each and every time that "President Trump" makes a claim, we are obliged to treat it as a possible lie. If he claims that we "need" to bomb a city, how do we know we actually "need" to do so? Because so much of what he has said has been a stupidly false claim, we are obliged to treat everything he says as a false claim. We can't trust our own president (moreso than even normally!). The world can't trust the US.
This is why he should never have been elected in the first place.
THAT is what Trump says.
What the Green Party and Democrats/Clinton have said about the election, on the other hand:
From CNN:
"Wisconsin Green Party co-chairman George Martin said the party is seeking a "reconciliation of paper records" -- a request that could go further than a simple recount, possibly spurring an investigation into the integrity of Wisconsin's voting system. "This is a process, a first step to examine whether our electoral democracy is working," Martin said.
Both the Clinton campaign and the White House have said they see no evidence that any voting systems were hacked, although the Clinton campaign said Saturday it will take part in the recounts, joining with Stein, to ensure the recount is "fair to all sides.""
So, you can see, there are no irrational and sweeping false claims. There is a concern raised and, even though there appears to be no obvious hacking, because of concerns raised, they'd like to have a check to verify that the system is working.
That is how rational adults talk. That is how serious presidential contenders review data and make conclusions and act.
"Millions cheated!"
"Nu-uh! I'm not! YOU'RE a puppet!!"
"Crooked Hillary!" "Lyin' Ted!"
"I grab them by the p$%#y... I can't help myself."
This is how an ill-mannered, bullying, possibly mentally disturbed grade-school student talks.
He remains unfit for office.
One take-away from this, at least for now, is that all good citizens are obliged to treat each and every Trump claim as potentially false and in need of verification by responsible and moral adults.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Can't Take This Music From Me

A song written by the great guys in the Steel Wheels (check them out) and sung here at my church by some friends.
" Hymns from the loudest voice til quiet ones rejoice Your bitter silence tasted
And to all the beaten down in those forgotten towns Let no more time be wasted

There are no words to sing this little song I bring I come here empty handed
There is no day too bright no darken night  There are no wishes granted

Can't take this music from me
music from me
you can't take it from me..."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This Remains...

In our friends and family
we will find our strength.

And we may well need it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

escaping thoughts

   his thoughts had escaped
to dreams of woods and wild
                and an old Eden

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Change is Life

There is,
in the Autumn of the year, a sense that I have
that is both true and false.
It is the sense that
time is winding down
that things are ending
and time
and flowers
and leaves
are fading and going away...

...and it somehow
extends beyond the natural world
to friendships
and family
(as if they weren't part of the natural world!)
this sense that time is slipping away
and I'm
powerless to stop it.
It is, of course, true.
But that truth is conditional and temporal.
Things are winding down
some things are ending
and that day is coming soon.
But other things are just starting.
Seeds are being blown on the wind
and buried
and going into hibernation
to spring up again
one day and that day, too,
is coming soon.
New ideas are germinating
new friendships are resting
waiting to blossom
Old friendships will be reinvented
and reimagined
Our own Selves are being
and reminagined
and that change is all Good
or can be.
Change is life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Makes Us Smart

"That makes me smart."

This was Trump's throw-away line about the fact, raised by Clinton, that he has paid no taxes in at least some years. He was proud of being a multi-millionaire who contributed Zero tax dollars. He thought it made him "smart."

Any society has expenses we have to pay. We need our roads, infrastructure, police, fire departments, trash pick up, schools, etc. We have to pay for these things. And I fully understand not forcing those who are struggling to help pay much (the poor already pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes...)

But for the rest of us, we have a social compact, an agreement to pay for these common needs. To try to abuse rules to avoid paying our common expenses, therefore, is not "smart," and certainly not good. And certainly not if you are extravagantly wealthy!

It is greedy. It is self-centered. It is manipulative. It is petty. It is wrong.

And for such a person to boast about being a leech to run for public office pretending to care about our country... Well, his actions belie the point. You care about our nation, Mr Trump? Then show it! And one way to start showing it is to pay your fair share! Release your taxes. Pay back a reasonable amount of tax dollars that the rest of us had to shoulder so you could buy yourself gold toilets.

Until you do that, you're not smart. You don't care about the common good. You're just a petty little cheating freeloader and this admission should disqualify you, showing you to be fundamentally unfit for office.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trip to Spain and France...

Here's a video featuring photos and sounds from our family's recent trip to France and Spain.

We landed in Barcelona, Spain and spent several days there. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. There was just so much to see!

From there, we took a train across the south of France, stopping for a few days in Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea. Very nice. I found an amazing music store there (although too late in our trip to visit there very long, unfortunately) with a wide variety of vintage instruments... guitars, mandolins, hurdy gurdies (look it up...), violins, cellos, banjos... they had it all!

From there, we took the Eurail Train up to Paris for a few days there. Obviously, there is more there than one can see in a few days, but it was a nice sampling. We could see the Eiffel Tower from our room and spent a day visiting the area around it. We spent a few brief hours at the Louvre, took a trip to the catacombs and took a boat ride down the River Seine. Amazing.

From there, we Eurailed back down to Toulouse, France and visited nearby Montauban, where the Trabues are from! That was exciting for me. We are fortunate in having a detailed family record of our escape from France. It was after the Edict of Nantes had been revoked by King Louis XIV, which had allowed for some religious freedom. After it was revoked, Protestants were forced to recant of their heresy and adopt the Catholic faith. Failing that, they would be tortured, jailed and killed.

They came for Antoine Trabuc (how it was spelled then) and he wasn't home, so they threatened his wife with torture unless she recanted. She played the Woman Card and said, "I can't recant without my husband!" so they said they'd come for her and him the next day. They were going to tie her hair to a horse's tail and drag her through the city until she recanted or died!

Antoine got home and they skipped town - leaving all they had behind - leaving Montauban on the River Tarn. I sat at the edge of the Tarn and skipped stones across the surface. I also visited several Catholic churches, but no grudges seemed to be held.

From there, it was back to Barcelona for a couple of days before catching our flight home.

And we could do all of this because of our kids!

We've had a rough few years, taking care of my parents in their ailing years. The kids knew we hadn't had a real, extended and work-free vacation for a long time so they saved up their own money, made arrangements for everything and surprised us with the news back on Donna's birthday in February! They are only 20 and 25 years old, both working part time, with Sarah still being in college. They are some wonderful, hard-working kids (as are most kids I know these days, it seems) and we couldn't be more proud of them.

I pass that on not to brag (okay, maybe a little to brag), but mainly to just celebrate the kindness and goodness capable of people in the world today. As troubled as the world seems these days, acts of love and kindness still do happen and it's great to celebrate it when it does.

Thanks, Kids!

(The video is ten minutes long and may be more than anyone is interested in, but there it is, if you're interested...)