Sunday, December 05, 2010

And now, the rest of the story......

I don't mean this to be taken as a mean-spirited, sour grapes, type post. It's just that history is written by the victorious, which means it often gets distorted far from the factual accounts of what happened. This has been, and continues to be, one of the great failings of schools the world over. The result is even greater misunderstandings between different groups about the true history as told by those of ALL sides who lived it.
The Final Insult?(no, just one of many)        

 The Real Thanksgiving Story(and related information about the Settlers)

(As quoted from: The Hidden History of Massachusetts)
Much of America's understanding of the early relationship between the Indian and the European is conveyed through the story of Thanksgiving. Proclaimed a holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, this fairy tale of a feast was allowed to exist in the American imagination pretty much untouched until 1970, the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. That is when Frank B. James, president of the Federated Eastern Indian League, prepared a speech for a Plymouth banquet that exposed the Pilgrims for having committed, among other crimes, the robbery of the graves of the Wampanoags. He wrote:

"We welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people."

But white Massachusetts officials told him he could not deliver such a speech and offered to write him another. Instead, James declined to speak, and on Thanksgiving Day hundreds of Indians from around the country came to protest. It was the first National Day of Mourning, a day to mark the losses Native Americans suffered as the early settlers prospered. This true story of "Thanksgiving" is what whites did not want Mr. James to tell.

What Really Happened in Plymouth in 1621? According to a single-paragraph account in the writings of one Pilgrim, a harvest feast did take place in Plymouth in 1621, probably in mid-October, but the Indians who attended were not even invited. Though it later became known as "Thanksgiving," the Pilgrims never called it that. And amidst the imagery of a picnic of interracial harmony is some of the most terrifying bloodshed in New World history.

The Pilgrim crop had failed miserably that year, but the agricultural expertise of the Indians had produced twenty acres of corn, without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. The Indians often brought food to the Pilgrims, who came from England ridiculously unprepared to survive and hence relied almost exclusively on handouts from the overly generous Indians-thus making the Pilgrims the western hemisphere's first class of welfare recipients. The Pilgrims invited the Indian sachem Massasoit to their feast, and it was Massasoit, engaging in the tribal tradition of equal sharing, who then invited ninety or more of his Indian brothers and sisters-to the annoyance of the 50 or so ungrateful Europeans. No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served; they likely ate duck or geese and the venison from the 5 deer brought by Massasoit. In fact, most, if notall, of the food was most likely brought and prepared by the Indians, whose 10,000-year familiarity with the cuisine of the region had kept the whites alive up to that point.

The Pilgrims wore no black hats or buckled shoes-these were the silly inventions of artists hundreds of years since that time. These lower-class Englishmen wore brightly colored clothing, with one of their church leaders recording among his possessions "1 paire of greene drawers." Contrary to the fabricated lore of storytellers generations since, no Pilgrims prayed at the meal, and the supposed good cheer and fellowship must have dissipated quickly once the Pilgrims brandished their weaponry in a primitive display of intimidation. What's more, the Pilgrims consumed a good deal of home brew. In fact, each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people's "notorious sin," which included their "drunkenness and uncleanliness" and rampant "sodomy"...

The Pilgrims of Plymouth, The Original Scalpers.
Contrary to popular mythology the Pilgrims were no friends to the local Indians. They were engaged in a ruthless war of extermination against their hosts, even as they falsely posed as friends. Just days before the alleged Thanksgiving love-fest, a company of Pilgrims led by Myles Standish actively sought to chop off the head of a local chief. They deliberately caused a rivalry between two friendly Indians, pitting one against the other in an attempt to obtain "better intelligence and make them both more diligent." An 11-foot-high wall was erected around the entire settlement for the purpose of keeping the Indians out.

Any Indian who came within the vicinity of the Pilgrim settlement was subject to robbery, enslavement, or even murder. The Pilgrims further advertised their evil intentions and white racial hostility, when they mounted five cannons on a hill around their settlement, constructed a platform for artillery, and then organized their soldiers into four companies-all in preparation for the military destruction of their friends the Indians.

Pilgrim Myles Standish eventually got his bloody prize. He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, "as a symbol of white power." Standish had the Indian man's young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name "Wotowquenange," which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.

Who Were the "Savages"?
The myth of the fierce, ruthless Indian savage lusting after the blood of innocent Europeans must be vigorously dispelled at this point. In actuality, the historical record shows that the very opposite was true.

Once the European settlements stabilized, the whites turned on their hosts in a brutal way. The once amicable relationship was breeched again and again by the whites, who lusted over the riches of Indian land. A combination of the Pilgrims' demonization of the Indians, the concocted mythology of Eurocentric historians, and standard Hollywood propaganda has served to paint the gentle Indian as a tomahawk-swinging savage endlessly on the warpath, lusting for the blood of the God-fearing whites.

But the Pilgrims' own testimony obliterates that fallacy. The Indians engaged each other in military contests from time to time, but the causes of "war," the methods, and the resulting damage differed profoundly from the European variety:
> Indian "wars" were largely symbolic and were about honor, not about territory or extermination.
>"Wars" were fought as domestic correction for a specific act and were ended when correction was achieved. Such action might better be described as internal policing. The conquest or destruction of whole territories was a European concept.
> Indian "wars" were often engaged in by family groups, not by whole tribal groups, and would involve only the family members.
> A lengthy negotiation was engaged in between the aggrieved parties before escalation to physical confrontation would be sanctioned. Surprise attacks were unknown to the Indians.
> It was regarded as evidence of bravery for a man to go into "battle" carrying no weapon that would do any harm at a distance-not even bows and arrows. The bravest act in war in some Indian cultures was to touch their adversary and escape before he could do physical harm.
> The targeting of non-combatants like women, children, and the elderly was never contemplated. Indians expressed shock and repugnance when the Europeans told, and then showed, them that they considered women and children fair game in their style of warfare.
> A major Indian "war" might end with less than a dozen casualties on both sides. Often, when the arrows had been expended the "war" would be halted. The European practice of wiping out whole nations in bloody massacres was incomprehensible to the Indian.

According to one scholar, "The most notable feature of Indian warfare was its relative innocuity." European observers of Indian wars often expressed surprise at how little harm they actually inflicted. "Their wars are far less bloody and devouring than the cruel wars of Europe," commented settler Roger Williams in 1643. Even Puritan warmonger and professional soldier Capt. John Mason scoffed at Indian warfare: "[Their] feeble manner...did hardly deserve the name of fighting." Fellow warmonger John Underhill spoke of the Narragansetts, after having spent a day "burning and spoiling" their country: "no Indians would come near us, but run from us, as the deer from the dogs." He concluded that the Indians might fight seven years and not kill seven men. Their fighting style, he wrote, "is more for pastime, than to conquer and subdue enemies."

All this describes a people for whom war is a deeply regrettable last resort. An agrarian people, the American Indians had devised a civilization that provided dozens of options all designed to avoid conflict--the very opposite of Europeans, for whom all-out war, a ferocious bloodlust, and systematic genocide are their apparent life force. Thomas Jefferson--who himself advocated the physical extermination of the American Indian--said of Europe, "They [Europeans] are nations of eternal war. All their energies are expended in the destruction of labor, property and lives of their people."

By the mid 1630s, a new group of 700 even holier Europeans calling themselves Puritans had arrived on 11 ships and settled in Boston-which only served to accelerate the brutality against the Indians.

In one incident around 1637, a force of whites trapped some seven hundred Pequot Indians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, near the mouth of the Mystic River. Englishman John Mason attacked the Indian camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken-to the apparent delight of the Europeans:

To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God.

This event marked the first actual Thanksgiving. In just 10 years 12,000 whites had invaded New England, and as their numbers grew they pressed for all-out extermination of the Indian. Euro-diseases had reduced the population of the Massachusett nation from over 24,000 to less than 750; meanwhile, the number of European settlers in Massachusetts rose to more than 20,000 by 1646.

By 1675, the Massachusetts Englishmen were in a full-scale war with the great Indian chief of the Wampanoags, Metacomet. Renamed "King Philip" by the white man, Metacomet watched the steady erosion of the lifestyle and culture of his people as European-imposed laws and values engulfed them.

In 1671, the white man had ordered Metacomet to come to Plymouth to enforce upon him a new treaty, which included the humiliating rule that he could no longer sell his own land without prior approval from whites. They also demanded that he turn in his community's firearms. Marked for extermination by the merciless power of a distant king and his ruthless subjects, Metacomet retaliated in 1675 with raids on several isolated frontier towns. Eventually, the Indians attacked 52 of the 90 New England towns, destroying 13 of them. The Englishmen ultimately regrouped, and after much bloodletting defeated the great Indian nation, just half a century after their arrival on Massachusetts soil. Historian Douglas Edward Leach describes the bitter end:

The ruthless executions, the cruel sentences...were all aimed at the same goal-unchallengeable white supremacy in southern New England. That the program succeeded is convincingly demonstrated by the almost complete docility of the local native ever since.

When Captain Benjamin Church tracked down and murdered Metacomet in 1676, his body was quartered and parts were "left for the wolves." The great Indian chief's hands were cut off and sent to Boston and his head went to Plymouth, where it was set upon a pole on the real first "day of public Thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy." Metacomet's nine-year-old son was destined for execution because, the whites reasoned, the offspring of the devil must pay for the sins of their father. The child was instead shipped to the Caribbean to spend his life in slavery.

As the Holocaust continued, several official Thanksgiving Days were proclaimed. Governor Joseph Dudley declared in 1704 a "General Thanksgiving"-not in celebration of the brotherhood of man-but for [God's] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors...In defeating and disappointing... the Expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands...

Just two years later one could reap a ££50 reward in Massachusetts for the scalp of an Indian-demonstrating that the practice of scalping was a European tradition. According to one scholar, "Hunting redskins became...a popular sport in New England, especially since prisoners were worth good money..."

Until next we meet, take care, stay well, and seek peace.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reflecting on the Year Gone By

                                                    T. Remington photo
  Well Folks, it seems I've survived another year aboard the Big Blue Marble we call Earth. The photo above was taken near our home and the chair overlooks the area in general facing west toward New Hampshire. The views in the area all seem to call out demanding to be photographed, although the views will outlast most images of them.
  The year has been interesting. Lost a good friend in the opening days with the passing of 'Brother Tim' O'Donnell, and surprisingly few after that, a condition I hope lasts until at least year's end. Illness seemed to be a constant companion this year, although we've survived them all so far in fairly good shape. At least we're more or less intact.
   Last winter was mild, so this will likely be wild, at least that's what my Uncle 'R' used to tell me growing up on the farm. If the old place wasn't gone back to forest and a few new homes & cottages, we'd be laying in winter food in the pantries & ice cellar. Hunting season meant cows & horses sporting white paint if they were brown or tan, nice hand painted signs on their sides identifying them as cow, horse, mule, etc for the enlightenment of the city hunters from 'away' who shot whatever moved at times. Time to roll out the snow fences and pack the hay in the barns neatly for easy access. Other repairs as needed. Much easier these days, having far less winterizing to do. Still, always plenty needed to allow us to co-exist with Nature here.
  I'm really hoping the next year sees much less rancor and far more progress in many areas. Politics, GLBT issues, racial tolerance & acceptance of ALL beings we share the Marble with. If they dropped all cable 'News & Commentary' and brought back more newspapers and news magazines I'd be happier. Even if the 'Net' stays as it is. A bit too outrageous to expect, up there with the 'Great Pumpkin'.
   Made a few new friends & lost very few old ones, got a new-old vehicle, a 'power chair' so I can function more effectively about the house. Lost one more of our furry family members to old age. She was one of the two we first took in in 1993 and we lost her sister in spring the previous year. Down to three, the eldest being almost fifteen years old.
    Well, as seems to me, it was a pretty good, pretty peaceful year all things considered. If the folks at Yahoo ever get my main address for e-mail to reappear it'll be a slight improvement to a good year. I also found a new friend via the 'Blogosphere' at  who wrote this little poem that struck me as very nice.
Something Old

My mind on what is to come
Visions of the seasons i'm leaving
All the hard work that i've done
All that's ahead is dreaming

As I recall people and memories
The want and need to get away
Now free to float on any breeze
Somehow I choose to stay 
    Until next we meet, stay safe, stay well, hug all you can, and love as much as possible, and live as large as you can.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Sparkly Bundle of Happiness

My good friends George & Linda Allen of Spokane, WA belong to a Walleye Club that holds an event called C.A.S.T. where they take disadvantaged kids fishing for a day.
This year it seems they were blessed to have with them this little bundle of perky sunshine in pink. Her name is Kenadie Hansberry, age 2, of Spokane.
It seems that at that early age she's already developed her own sense of style. She also carries it off with an air of confidence that belies her young years. Apparently even the sunglasses appeared magically as they got underway, to complete the look.
Where's the red carpet?
A girl's gotta look good in the photos.
Well, let's go.
Maybe a coy smile for the paparazzi before we cast off.
Discussing group photo arrangement.
The supporting cast.
Three hours of perseverance pays off!
Can we take her home?
One last shot for my fan club.
To see and be around her you'd never know she has a serious allergy problem that affects her esophagus and requires her to be fed from a small bag attached to her chest and connected to a 'g-tube' which permits the nourishment to bypass her esophagus. She can eat only sugar by mouth & carries a bag of marshmallows to nibble on.
Needless to say, her indomitable spirit and extreme cuteness won the day and it seems there were many who wanted to take her home.
The pretty lady with her is her mom.
Until next we meet, if you're a bit down, think of Kenadie and follow her lead.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


   At one time, I was actually a pretty rugged young man. Somewhat lacking in 'altitude', but endowed with an overabundance of 'attitude'. In those days, when I was freshly moved off the farms, I was up for just about anything, especially so if monetary gain was involved. At that time, in the little city near my hometown, every Friday & Saturday night had entertainment in the form of boxing matches in the National Guard Armory.
   The participants in these bouts were a pairing of local talent versus guys from the 'Job Training Center' in the big city 100 miles away. Most of these guys were street smart, brawling, very fit city fellows, some of who were actually semi-pro boxers at one time. There was a 'promoter' who would rent the armory and pay a group of these 'job trainees' to engage in fisticuffs with the local challengers.
   For the challengers, the motivation was simple. Last 3 two-minute rounds and take home $50, a princely sum in those days. If you went out earlier than 3 rounds you still got $10 for trying. To a young pup like me, more endowed with solid muscle than brain, this was too good to pass up.
   The first few times I tried I lasted easily and even tried a couple times in one night on occasion. Finally came a day when I was paired with the 'trainee' light-heavyweight champion. I was way short on reach and height, but weighed solidly into this class. As fate would have it, the guy was very susceptible to an opponent who could get 'inside' his reach and pummel him with short, hard body blows.
   As this fit my style perfectly, I easily lasted the three rounds. At that time the 'promoter' came to my corner and told me I'd get $25 for each additional round. Whoa! Christmas in the summer! I gladly accepted and lasted 15 full rounds and lost on points. Still, I was ecstatic, and $350 richer for the effort.
   Well, this went on with different opponents for a few weeks, with me lasting the entire 15 rounds at times. To make it even better, the 'bonus' money was raised to $40 per round. Of course, unbeknown to my dumb young self, that was a mere pittance compared to the dough the 'promoter' was making by running illegal betting action on the side.
   After a lucrative summer, it all came crashing down one night when my opponent turned out to be a tall, extremely well muscled, young black man with incredibly long arms. Oh well, I'd faced worse, or so I thought. The bell rang and we were off, until he sent his first punch my way. Damn that hurt. It was soon followed by a seemingly leisurely string of similar punches, each as painful as the first. I'd yet to land a single punch as he continually danced away, coming in only to land another painful assault on my battered face.
   Finally, after one and a half rounds of him pounding on me at will, my brain kicked in and when the next solid hit arrived I went down like a lead balloon. I lay there listening to the world around me and doing my best NOT to revive, even when smelling salts were tried. I merely snorted, turned away, and continued to be 'out'. 
  This went on to the roaring of the crowd until a friend and another man came with a stretcher and orders to 'take him to the hospital'. As they were loading my 'unconscious' body, I foolishly opened one eye a bit to look around, an action caught by my pal who immediately and loudly declared, "He's not out!"; to which I responded, "Shut up and get me out of here!" in as loud a voice as I dared.
   Sadly for me, it wasn't quiet enough and the 'promoter' heard me. This made him VERY irate for some reason. He not only refused to pay me the consolation money, he banned me from future participation. Seems he was rather confident my hard head and stubborn streak would last at least the three rounds and had bet heavily on me at long odds. Apparently this was detrimental to his bankroll, and him thinking I took a 'dive' didn't help. I didn't really take a 'dive', he actually knocked me down. I merely declined to get up and face his 'fists of death' any longer. Thus ended my short, but lucrative, boxing career. 
   Until next we meet, take care & be safe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

'Herbie' the Yarmouth Elm (Maine)

Some old trees don't disappear, they get transformed.

Yarmouth was home to New England’s largest American Elm tree – affectionately known since the 1950s as “Herbie” – that used to reign over the corner of Yankee Drive and East Main Street. Like so many American Elms, Herbie finally succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease, an introduced fungus that is spread by bark beetles. After decades of diligent effort by Yarmouth’s volunteer Tree Wardens Frank Knight and Debbie Hopkins and 217 years of life, Herbie was removed in January of 2010. Yarmouth has lost nearly 800 American Elms to this disease in the past fifty years, although none as grand as Herbie. In honor of Herbie’s legacy, the Town of Yarmouth seeks to replace this majestic tree and others lost in previous years with new, disease-resistant elms and other types of trees. In order to do this, Yarmouth is creating a Tree Trust.
What is a Tree Trust?

A Tree Trust is an investment in Yarmouth’s quality of place. The large, broad-leaved trees lining the streets of Yarmouth need care and eventual replacement. The cost associated with these activities is considerable, but the benefits of street trees more than justify the expense.

The Town of Yarmouth is asking for donations from citizens, businesses and friends of Herbie to help fund Herbie’s removal and replacement but especially to create a Yarmouth Tree Trust. Your contribution will ensure our town will remain green and beautiful for our children and grandchildren’s future.

If you're interested in 'Herbie' products, please click here to visit project site home page.

Below is a video clip from the 'Herbie' site. To see more click here

Until next we meet, stay safe and be well.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Thoughts on the 5th of July

"...she's a Grand Old Rag Flag..."

  And with that simple line and a little more, a wonderfully insightful and very special friend broke through my writer's blogger's block and inspired these post July 4th musings; and here's some of the stuff I discovered, some new, some known, all neat to know. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked posting it.
   To start, a well known and respected polling group of 4 polling agencies recently conducted a collaborative poll of native born U.S. citizens, both genders, voters who DO vote, high school grads or better, ALL races in proportion to the population, fully employed, aged 30-45; and found that an amazing 26% total didn't know we won our independence from Great Britain!
   Thankfully, those dolts are not likely to read this, so if I insult their lack of interest in the country of their birth, that offered them an education (if they bothered taking it seems doubtful), provided work opportunities to feed & care for their families, and protects them from the various boogymen we're warned of incessantly, WHO CARES! For those who will read this, again, I hope you enjoy it.
  The United States is about more than just the founding fathers. Here are some of the lesser known women who made their mark in making the United States an independent nation.

1)For many, the Boston Tea Party is synonymous with the uprising leading to the war. But Boston wasn't the first tea party, Penelope Barker's Edenton Tea Party was:

Months before any active independence movement, Penelope Barker led the Edenton Tea Party. Unlike the better known Boston Tea Party, Penelope and more than 50 women did not dress up in costumes to show the British how they felt. Penelope wrote up a declaration against the use of tea, and clothes made from British cloth. All the women at the meeting signed. The British, naturally, laughed at women protesting. Women's opinions at the time were not considered important. The British took notice as more women joined the boycott of British goods. But, without firing a shot, these women let Britain know where the power lies -in the hands of those who rock the cradle. Women joined their men in showing the British that they, too, would not stand for taxation without representation.

2) Everyone learns in school of the midnight ride of minuteman Paul Revere, but no one ever studies the even longer ride of Sybil Ludington:

Sybil's ride became necessary because the British had ransacked Danbury, Connecticut. DanburyFredricksburg, New York. A young soldier arrived at Sybil's father's house. Colonel Ludington was in charge of the local volunteers. Needing someone to go at once to gather the troops, Sybil jumped at the chance. She rode to the many villages, informing everyone what was happening. Thanks to her bravery, the Patriots were able to force the British back to Long Island Sound. From there, they sailed away.

3) And Sybil wasn't the only woman to assist on the line. There was also Minutewoman Prudence Wright:

With their men out looking for British soldiers, Prudence Wright gathered the women of Groton, Massachusetts. They would defend the bridge leading into town. Putting on their husbands clothes, they looked a sight. The armed themselves with whatever they could get their hands on, some using pitchforks. They hid in the reeds until a British officer came by, given away by his horse's hooves on the bridge. The women removed the secret messages he was carrying, passing them on to the local Patriot Committee of Safety. Back home, the women laughed at the surprise of the British officer when he found out that he had been had by women.

4)Many people know of General George Washington and his role in leading the troops during the Revolution. But few know of the woman who may have single-handedly assisted in turning the war around. Meet Catherine Moore Berry:

It was l781. The British, under command of General Cornwallis was out to crush a group of Patriots commanded by a General Morgan. General Morgan, realizing how out-manned he was, appealed to Catherine Moore Barry for help. She knew every inch of the land she lived in. She knew all the short cuts, the trail, where Patriots lived, and how to contact them. Single-handedly, Catherine rounded up the necessary local Patriots to join General Morgan's troops. With Catherine's help, General Morgan laid a trap for General Corwallis and his men. The plan worked. General Cornwallis was defeated, retreating into the hands of General Washington... at Yorktown, Virginia. With his surrender there, the colonies won their independence from Britain.

    And now, back to the story behind the 'sub-title' of this post, as sent by my friend:

The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favorite came, as Cohan later explained, from an encounter he had with a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The two men found themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, "She's a grand old rag." Cohan thought it was a great line and originally named his tune "You're a Grand Old Rag." So many groups and individuals objected to calling the flag a "rag," however, that he "gave 'em what they wanted" and switched words, renaming the song "You're a Grand Old Flag."
(Courtesy Library of Congress)

"Add now", as long-lived radio commentator Paul Harvey would say, "you know....the rest.....of the story!"
Until next time, stay well and stay safe.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Now Where Was I?

Sometimes little things become such a part of our lives, we don't even think of them after awhile. Things that become habitual when we're young often follow us through our entire lives. Some of these things are good, some not so good, a few bad, and often of no consequence other than how they shape the person we've become. One little habit that almost everyone has is that of being susceptible to daydreaming. At times this can be an escape mechanism, sometimes just a place to go while our subconscious thinks through complex ideas, and sometimes we do it simply because it's a fairly harmless little bit of fun or to pass time.

Daydreams are where I often seem to find myself during boring meetings, long drives, or even when not having anything to do other than wait for something or somebody. At these times, it always amazes me to find I've been on auto-pilot and fully aware of my surroundings on a functional level, while miles and years away in my conscious thoughts. I think a great many people must spend their entire lives on auto-pilot, whether out of boredom from doing a mindless task or perhaps when listening to something which they have no interest in or perhaps don't fully understand. I say this because so often the reply to 'what are you thinking' elicits a response of, 'nothing'.

It's my firm belief that many great inventions and even great books arise from such musings. Daydreaming is where I've found myself when a sudden inspiration, problem solution, or some other such useful thought has invaded my seemingly empty mind. At times it comes as rather a shock, what some call a 'bolt from out of the blue' in reference to clear sky lightning. At other times it just sneaks into my head in dribs and drabs until it requires just a small amount of conscious deliberation to bring it to fruition as a complete entity. Often the finished product is unattainable for any number of reasons, but there occasionally springs forth a gem worthy of my full attention and follow-up. Sadly, these are generally useful, but unprofitable in a monetary sense.

I generally find myself musing about this during periods of intense daydreaming, which is where I was before I started this silly little post, and to where I will now return, having found my present situation being extremely conducive to this activity. Perhaps my 'gem of an idea' is just a bit farther along in the daydream I interrupted to write this down. Until next we meet, take care.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who am I at my.......

....core? A post by Lua Fowles on her blog  sparked this idea, and for that I'm truly grateful. After reading her thoughtful words, I decided to share exactly what keeps this Old Indian farm kid grounded, a concept I was introduced to by my Group Leader when I was a wet-behind-the-ears 20-something who was trying to find out who I really was deep inside. He and a very good selection of instructors over the decades have shown me the way. But, even to this day, peeling away all the layers of who I am at any given time to reach the true inner being is not an easy task, although it gets easier every time it's done. As with any endeavor so complicated, it's well worth the effort, especially if you're like me and like who you find there at the center. 
    Although I've worn many hats & titles through my life, when they all get stripped away, what's left is myself at the simplest, purest, time in which I remember actually being acutely aware of my needing to find where I fit in the world. It was a time when I was not untouched by horror, fear, and pain; but also missing was that deep sense of love a stable home gives the fortunate among us. Having recently arrived to live on the adjoining farms of my Uncles 'R' and 'F', I felt out of place and awkward and the only up side I saw at first was the absence of pain and insecurity. But this new security came at the price of whatever labor I could do to earn my keep. Eventually my adoptive Dad would re-introduce me to my biological family, but even then they were unable to assume responsibility for even one more tiny mouth to feed. So there I was, wanted yet rejected, through no real fault of anyone. I think this is when I began to develop a true sense of who I was and where I fit in. Although I never gave it much thought until much later, even without being aware it was occurring, I was molding myself to belong to the world I found, and most of the molding was designed to fit with nature.
    As young as age 7 I'd already developed the knack for withdrawing from the world, mostly out of a need to survive as told in my early posts. When I went to the farms it opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world full of life rather than darkness. Soon it became clear that my biological family was unable to take me in and I resigned my young self to life on the farms where, when doing even the most repulsive and mundane tasks, a world of wonder was there if you looked for it. Some of the life forms weren't particularly nice in any way other than as a curiosity. Maggots in the manure piles come to mind. They did become more attractive after Uncle 'F' showed me how to convert the ugly into bait for tasty trout dinners.
   As that first year on the farms unfolded I discovered that being extremely quiet and motionless could result in various wild animals venturing very close. At first I thought they didn't know anyone was there, that notion was abandoned pretty early when the deer, squirrels, and other critters apparently decided that the small human in their home posed no threat. Eventually the perfect 'me' spot was discovered in a small clearing with the small brook that fed our pond running across its northwest corner. As it was close to a crude road we used year around for various activities such as logging, maple tree sap gathering, and the other things done on a working farm, it was easily accessible. 'My' clearing was a short way from the road through pretty thick, boggy, swampy woods. This pretty much assured me that nobody would bother me there. I did take the liberty of moving some old dead-falls to make an easily traversed path in, but one that was fairly 'invisible' to nosy adults.
    Soon the animals started to reveal their traits, some of which were nearly identical to their domesticated fellow critters. Every evening that I could, between supper and starting chores, I went to my lair for an hour or so. Nobody ever questioned my absences either, which made it all the more secretive in my mind. No visit there passed without discovery of something new or the progress of construction projects run by ants, bees, etc. Being the curious type, I found it simple to remain quietly rapt by such things. It soon became apparent that 'my' clearing was a favorite 'wintering over' area for a wide variety of life forms, all of which had pretty much decided to ignore my presence as if I was on the 'list' of approved visitors. To this day I seem to enjoy a closeness with animals not common among my friends. Perhaps it's simply that I saw and remember what attracts, calms, and frightens them. And so, at this later point along my life's adventure, I find myself slipping into and out of that inner consciousness and peace that I found so young. It's been a trusty refuge from life's trials and where I go to savor the memories of the many joys I've had. Could be that it's become such a familiar and welcoming journey to that inner, non-existent, yet very real realm deep within us all that I look forward to my forays. I think of it as my 'temple', within which to commune with that which I find omnipotent and 'all encompassing'. Rather like joining an unseen stream of existence and energy that's timeless.
    Each time I venture there, which is more often as time goes by, I find that I'm still amazed by all the layers of my 'life onion' that fall away to enable me to pass through to who I am at my core, a simple, observant, Indian, country boy who's in love with what he remembers as that which first loved him back, nature. So it is, and perhaps that's as it should be, as it seems mankind is continually fighting his environment rather than developing a symbiotic union that would benefit all of earth's inhabitants, from the cold rocks to the sweetest newborn of any species.
    Until next time, stay safe and be well. Remember too, that the roses and their many beautiful qualities will still grow long after we're gone, so enjoy them while you're still able.[and no, the photos aren't even from Maine. Top is Two Medicine Peak in Glacier Park, Montana from George & Linda Allen via the Park WebCam net; and the beautiful critters below are in Anan Wildlife Observatory, Alaska by an unknown photographer. Both are special to me for personal reasons, Mike]

Monday, May 03, 2010

A really good poem that....

.....should be shared. Therefore, here it is:

Nothing Twice

Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with exactly the same kisses

One day, perhaps, some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
We now return you to our regular programming. Until next time, take care, stay well, and CARPE DIEM!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Seems I've Done It.......

.....once again. I've let my ambitions, which still think I'm a 25 year old, run the show. This obviously ignores the fact that I'm a somewhat decrepit 'Older Fellah'. This should have been driven home to my dull thinking apparatus by now, especially as my latest 'reminder' arrived last week in the form of a 'Power Chair' to attempt to prevent my nearly regular tendency to fail to remain vertical when walking.
   Despite all indicators pointing to my having slowed down a tad, new projects are tackled with great vigor, in my mind. The reality is that my 'Honey-do' list, along with every other 'list', is growing in the 'back-log' area. This blog is another example. I finally decided the new style format and edit program was a great idea. Thus, the new look. Thus also what their phrase 'some information loss' when transitioning became VERY clear as evidenced by the lack of many 'Old Template' features, like almost ALL of them!!!
   So now, 'blog items' to do on my personal 'gotta do' list has grown lengthy. To complicate matters, I had a number of items collected in my e-mail inbox to post here. Yesterday, at zero-dark-thirty hours EDT, my mail program decided to 'burp' and erased my inbox contents! Numerous attempts by myself and my mail provider using every trick we knew failed to resurrect said info.
   I've got plenty of other material, on disks waiting to be reinstalled on my 'not so recently' repaired and now brainless PC. So, this is my apology to myself for failing to post items more frequently on here. MORE 'to-do' items!!! Also, I've resolved to apply myself more diligently to all 'lists' and try to get the estimated 'last current item completion date' moved from the 22nd century back to at least the latter years of the 21st century.
  Until then, I'll just relieve the stress by 'scooting around' in here on my new transporter in hopes of moving the speed control from complete 'turtle' to 'very slow turtle' before I finish 'adjusting' all the furniture, doorways, and kitty tails beyond repair. That would make the 'lists' to grow anew.
Until next time, stay safe, stay well, and definitely stay outta the path of my 'scooter'!!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Be Money-Wise With Dollar Sense

This article was recently published by CNBC and I thought it deserved as much attention as possible.
Spotting Counterfeit Bills. All photos by Fred LaSenna for

In order to stay ahead of counterfeiting, the United States government redesigns paper money on a fairly regular basis. The latest installment, a new $100 bill, is slated for unveiling on April 21. The last bill to be redesigned was the $5 bill, issued March 13, 2008.
Notable among recent design changes are the addition of colors to the bills. But there's a lot more to the redesigns than meets the eye. Literally.
Using a super-macro lens, we get up close and personal with the latest U.S. currency designs, showing in full detail some of the features you may not be aware of. And why only the very best counterfeiters in the world can pull off a bill so good that only experts can spot it as a fake.

Presidential Portrait
The portrait on a genuine U.S. note appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. Counterfeit portraits are usually lifeless and flat, and details merge into the background, which is often too dark or mottled.
Pictured: $50 bill featuring President Ulysses S. Grant
Fine-Line Printing and Microprinting
Very fine lines have been added behind the portrait on the front of new series bills and on the reverse side scene to make it harder to reproduce. Note the words "U.S.A FIFTY U.S.A 50" on the $50 bill pictured.
Microprinting also can be found around the portrait. The words "The United States of America" are printed on Grant's collar on the $50 bill. (Note the words are only somewhat legible in photo 1 and look almost like a single line to the naked eye on a non-magnified bill.)
Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals
On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. Counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.
Pictured: $100 bill.
Borders, Part 1
The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.
Borders, Part 2
The borders also contain microprinted words barely visible to the naked eye. These words are difficult to duplicate and are rarely seen in counterfeit bills.
Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout. Often, counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper.
It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency. Pictured: $5 bill.
Color-Shifting Ink
If you hold the new series bills (except the $5 note) and tilt them back and forth, you can watch the color of the numeral in the lower right-hand corner of the bills shift from green to black and back to green.
Counterfeit bills will often incorporate special inks that appear shiny and somewhat metalic, but whose colors do not shift.
Serial Numbers
Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.
On more recent issues, the serial numbers are actually embossed onto the paper making the numbers easy to feel on authentic bills.
By holding a new series bill up to a light, the watermark becomes visible in an unprinted space to the right of the portrait. The watermark can be seen from both sides of the bill since it is not printed on the bill but is embedded in the paper.
Counterfeit bills sometimes attempt to duplicate this watermark, but they rarely look like the portrait they are supposed to represent. And counterfeits that use bleached, smaller denominations as the basis of the note will show a watermark that does not match the portrait. For example, if a $5 bill was bleached and reprinted to look like a $100 bill, the note will have Benjamin Franklin's portrait, but the watermark will clearly show Abraham Lincoln's face.
Pictured: $10 bill.
Security Thread
Like the watermark, the security thread can also be seen by holding the bill up to a light. This thin embedded strip runs from top to bottom on the face of a banknote.
In the $10 and $50 bills, the security strip is located to the right of the portrait, and in the $5, $20, and $100, it is located just to the left of the portrait.
Microprinting is used to write U.S.A 50 on the $50 bill pictured. Each denomination has its value printed similarly.
Ultraviolet Glow
While some high-quality counterfeits might have a well-faked security thread, there's still a simple way to spot whether the bill is genuine. If an authentic bill is held up to an ultraviolet light, the security thread glows.
The $5 bill glows blue, the $10 bill glows orange, the $20 bill glows green, the $50 bill glows yellow, and the $100 bill glows red.
In spite of all of these security advances, Secret Service agents say the best way for the general layperson to tell if a bill is real is to feel it. Compare the feel and texture of the paper of a suspect bill with other bills that you know are authentic.
               Of course, some critters have different rules for money.

Until next time, stay well, take care, and watch for wooden nickels.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It would seem that.....

......once again my brain has unexpectedly gone on another vacation. And so: IT'S TRIVIA POST TIME ~El Salvador is the only nation named for Jesus Christ. ~Henry VIII of England decreed wearing a beard a taxable offense to the crown. ~Einstein's first published scientific paper was about drinking straws. In particular, he looked at the capillary forces acting on a drinking straw. It was in 1901 and it was an important point in his life. He had graduated the year before from the Polytechnic in Zurich, where he met his future wife, the program's only female student. That year, he also earned Swiss citizenship. But his job search went badly and he ended up working as a patent examiner. ~The line "make my day" actually appears in the 1983 movie "Sudden Impact," not in "Dirty Harry," although Clint Eastwood is playing Harry. ~The tiny town of Hibbing, Minn., has a lot to be proud of. The Greyhound bus line, for example, was founded there to shuttle people to Alice, Minn. But in addition to that, many hometown boys have gone to fame and glory. In sports, you have Roger Maris and Kevin McHale. There is Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson, and wine guru Robert Moldavia. Last but not least, Bob Dylan lived there from age 7 to age 18. ~Lots of French people were born in Paris, of course, but so were some people you might not have guessed, such as Sweden's King Oscar I, director Roman Polanski, writer George Sand, actor Herve Villechaize, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fashion designer Oleg Casino, composer Paul Dukas, Bush advisor Karen Hughes, rock star scion Jade Jagger, actor Emma Watson and talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford. ~Neptune was discovered in 1846, but it still hasn't finished a complete orbit around the sun since its discovery. That won't happen until 2011. Incidentally, because of Pluto's strange orbit, from Jan. 21, 1979, to Feb. 11, 1999, Neptune became the furthest planet from the sun. It has resumed that position, now that Pluto has been demoted to the kids' table of planets. ~Aluminum is now considered one of the "poor metals", but it was once considered more precious than gold, so much so that Napoleon III used it to make knives, forks and plates for his honored guests. ~July 1st is Canada Day, but originally it was called Dominion Day, because Britain promoted some of its colonies to a semi-independent status called "dominion." Now that Canada is fully independent, the July 1 holiday is called Canada Day, but many older, grumpier Canadians insist on calling it Dominion Day, with all its anglocentric connotations. ~It'd be enough that Sarah Josepha Hale badgered Lincoln into creating Thanksgiving. That alone would earn her a footnote place in American cultural history, but she also published "Mary Had a Little Lamb," about the real Mary Sawyer and her pet. As the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, she was also an influential voice for 19th-century feminism and abolitionism. ~ The word 'flashlight' was coined American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company in 1898. The company later changed its name to Eveready. "Flashlight" came from the nature of batteries and bulbs at the time. They had very short life spans, therefore, it was common practice to switch the light on for a few seconds at a time only, just long enough to light up what you needed to see. It was this on-off 'flashing' that led to the name. ~In 1915 Eveready cemented its place as the #1 flashlight maker after developing batteries and bulbs that allowed the light to shine for over an hour of use. ~In December 1953, Marilyn Monroe appeared, fully dressed, on the cover of the debut issue of Playboy ~Oddities of Victoria Day in Canada. Unlike Australia, India and every other bit of the old British Empire, including Britain itself, Canada still commemorates a monarch who has been dead for a century. Mostly, they open their cottages or have barbecues. In Quebec, they find it so odd that the date is known as Patriots Day, in honor of an 1837 rebellion ... against Victoria. ~Alfred E. Neuman of 'Mad' magazine was known as both Mel Haney and Malvin Koznowski before he was named for the nerd on the Henry Morgan radio show. That character, in turn, was named for the real-life composer and arranger for such movies as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Grapes of Wrath." His face is somewhat more mysterious: when 'Mad' was sued over it, it asserted that the image came from various materials dating back to 1911. So basically 'Mad's' response was, "What? Me worry?" ~The 1973 model of the AMC Gremlin, the first American subcompact, came with an option for nylon "blue jeans" seat covers. ~Since sound travels through helium nearly three times faster than it does through air, inhaling it makes you sound all squeaky. What's actually happening is that the pitch of your voice is changing due to sound speed. Normally, the amount of vibration in the vocal folds affects your voice's pitch, and the amount of air in your vocal tract influences timbre. ~Shaun (as in the famous style of cooking) Province in China roughly translates as "area of four rivers and gorges." ~In 1911, Paul Langevin, a married scientist, was sued for divorce when his wife found out about his alleged affair with Marie Curie. By that time, Pierre Curie was dead, killed not by his experiments with radioactive materials, but by a horse-drawn cart that ran him over on a rainy Parisian day. Interestingly, today, the respective grandson and granddaughter of Paul and Marie, Helene Langevin-Joliot and Michel Langevin, eventually married each other. ~The Colorado mining town of Telluride, now known for its film festival, also has a place in scientific history, as it is where George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla demonstrated alternating current, thanks to the world's first AC hydroelectric plant. This sparked the current wars between the pair of them and Thomas Edison, who had been backing direct current. The resulting high drama and skulduggery would make a great movie. ~Born in the Faeroe Islands, a Danish comedian named Jacob Haugaard promised the voters better weather and more money for beer, not to mention a right to impotency. With an evident sense of humor, the Danes elected him in 1994 to their Folketing parliament. Most joke parties don't do as well. Canada's "Rhinoceros Party" folded under the weight of onerous election eligibility requirements, but Britain's "Official Monster Raving Loony Party" carries on. ~General Electric helped found RCA in 1919, when it reorganized American Marconi as part of a patriotic effort to secure U.S. Navy radio communications. RCA in turn yielded NBC, one of the first great networks. In fact, RCA was so big that GE was forced to let it go in the 1930s, only to buy it back in 1986, only to get rid of it again. The only bit of the RCA empire that GE kept was NBC, which is why GE is often the butt of jokes on NBC's "30 Rock." ~The 'V' in 'DVD' stands for 'Versatile', NOT 'video' as is commonly believed. ~If you are in the nosebleed seats of a big-enough stadium and the concert is being broadcast, it is technically possible to hear it on a radio before you hear it live, as the sound is turned into radio waves, which travel faster. ~If your high school reunion were being held on Reunion Island, you'd be headed to the Indian Ocean. Just as Hawaii is part of the United States, Reunion is part of France, which also makes it the outermost region of the European Union and the furthest east. When the euro came online, the first one was used to buy some fruit in Reunion. ~In 1882, while mass murderer Jesse James was standing on a chair fixing a picture, he was shot in the back of the head by Robert Ford, so that Ford could collect a $10,000 reward. Ten years later, Ford was killed in a tent saloon as he turned to face Edward O'Kelley, who blew him away with both barrels of his shotgun. And 12 years after that, O'Kelley was killed while trying to shoot a policeman. ~In 1943, Ignacio Anaya was serving the wives of some U.S. airmen at his restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico,when he improvised fried tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and jalapenos. Since he was nicknamed Nacho, that became the name of the food, too. And since Piedras Negras is on the Texas border, the dish spread quickly through Texas and from there to the rest of North America. ~French novelist Pierre Boulle had been a secret agent in Southeast Asia during World War II and used the experience to write "The Bridge on the River Kwai." The movie version won him an Oscar for the screenplay, even though he somehow managed to write it without speaking any English. (It was actually written by two blacklisted writers.) Boulle also, weirdly, wrote "Planet of the Apes," which also became a hit movie. ~Cardinal Jamie Sin of Philippines actually WAS a Roman Catholic Cardinal. ~As the story goes, Buddha called the animals of the world to his side, but only 12 showed up. In their honor, he named a year for each of them. Traditionally, Chinese years were numbered, not A.D. or B.C., but based on the number of years the current emperor had been in charge. When the emperor was deposed in 1912, years were numbered for the Republic. In 1949, the 38th Year of the Republic, the communists switched to the Western system. ~Some say that Chinese explorer Zheng He might well have discovered Europe, if a nervously conservative imperial court hadn't called him home. On his return, explorer Zheng brought back a ki-lin, or unicorn. Actually, it was a giraffe. Incidentally, Zheng He appears to have been a Muslim. And today, China celebrates July 11 as Maritime Day in his honor. Until next time, be well and stay safe.