Friday, December 29, 2017

My son and I on same wavelength, sort of

Today is Family Secrets Friday at my blog.

My son read Coinky Dinks and Theme for the Day and remarked that we can recognize the hand of God not only when good things are happening to us, but also on the days when we encounter obstacles and pain.

The funny thing is, I had included a sentence to that effect at the end of the post, but  I deleted it before publishing, before he could've read it, because...

...many people are unable to receive that wisdom when they're going through a storm.  At times like those, a helping hand is the best sermon on God's providence.

I don't know what people who read this are going through. "Where's the hand that's helping me?" someone might be wondering. They are everywhere, asking that question, and also everywhere, waiting to be the answer.  Some things take time.

Monday, December 18, 2017

COINKY DINKS and the Theme for the Day

It is Mystical/Mathematical Monday at my blog.

First, the mystical. Or maybe it's not so mystical, maybe these are all just delightful coincidences that all happened today.

(1) Morning:  I picked up where I left off in the Audio Recording of Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. The bookmark was left in the "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir" chapter,
an account of a period of feminism when women turned away from the role of wife and mother where they'd be chained to a kitchen-stove ...only to become foodies who spent inordinate amounts of time preparing impossibly complex meals for themselves, alone in their apartments. HILARIOUS.

(2)Skipped lunch and dinner. There was no time to grab anything except a Snickers bar in between my daytime commitment and my evening commitment, which was tutoring English to refugees and immigrants at the library...BUT...FOOD SURPRISE is coming...

(3)...Early evening...when I got to the library, there were tables set up for a CHRISTMAS potluck! I thought the party was Wednesday, not tonight, and so I hadn't brought any food to the tutoring session. Another volunteer had also gotten mixed up about the date. So she and I walked across the street to Walmart to pick up some sliced apples and Marshmallow Fluff, and we get to talking about what she what she did for a living:  she's a food scientist in research and development at Big Potato Company. It's getting peculiar, isn't it????

(4)Mid evening. All sorts of exotic food at this Christmas party. Lady from Afghanistan brought something like funnel cakes, except they were brightly colored (saffron?) and stickier. Lady from Somalia brought a rice and meat dish. Both quite good. Lady from Mexico gave me a box of chocolates for a gift. I am always amazed at the generosity of these people, who aren't exactly rolling in money.

(5)Late evening. Husband asks, "Do you want to watch Frasier on Netflicks?" I didn't pick the episode, he did, and I hadn't told him about my day. He picked the episode in which Frasier (Kelsey Grammar) and Niles buy a four star restaurant and run it into the ground. Eels, cherries jubilee.  Also, very, very funny.

What does it mean? What does it ALL MEAN?????

What are the mathematical odds of all these food surprises happening on one day? Delightful food encounters, half of which involved no calories whatsoever?

Here's how I look at it. Today was a gift.  The whole day was like a party with a theme carried out through the music, the entertainment, and of course, the food. God is in the details.

As for the mathematical, I'm posting a cool link I just saw on Facebook: 17 Mathematical GIFS That are Deeply Soothing. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fake News, Fake Schmooz

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

During The Prohibition Era, in a US city -- take Boston, for example-- if a man were a gangster, then it was likely that coursing through his veins was the same blood-- hot and high in alcohol content-- that coursed through the veins of "the great Gaels of Ireland...the men that God made mad, for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad." (*1) 

Suppose that, as was their wont, a member of the Irish mob  had shot you or your friend or relative in the kneecap. If you described to me the degenerate doing the kneecapping  as "a dirty Irish mick," that wouldn't get my fightin' Irish up. I'd agree with you. Even as the daughter of an Irish woman who immigrated to the US and was naturalized during the 1960's, I would agree with you, I'd call that kneecapper a dirty Irish mick and worse.  I wouldn't call you a bigot. I'd try to do what I could as a peace emissary, from my tribe to yours, to help you heal.

If, on the other hand, you called William Butler Yeats a dirty Irish mick, that would be another story.  I might say something like, "Well, as the great Irish mick himself said, 'Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.' I'm not inclined to make rhetoric with you right now, but I've got a poem burning in the oven. Gotta run." And then I'd take my leave, without waiting for a reply.

So. What I'm wanting to make today is neither rhetoric nor poetry, but I am pointing you in a direction so that you might make rhetoric or poetry of your own. Ready?

What do these ideologically diverse websites or journalists have in common?    (paloeoliberal, socialist-leaning) ANTI CORPORATOCRACY
Unz Review  Contributors range from paleoliberal to Alt-Right. ANTI CORPORATOCRACY
Chris Hedges  Pulitzer Prize-winning, Presbyterian minister, Princeton professer picked a                           peck of pickled peppers ANTI CORPORATOCRACY

Besides being ANTI-CORPORATOCRACY, they've all been "unpersoned" by Google. Removed from the Google News Aggregate. Left to sing the Fake News Blues in Search Engine Optimization hell.

To put it in the words of the witty C. J. Hopkins (a liberal, but not a "headless chicken liberal"):
... if you're the type of soul who only believes what corporations tell you, and who automatically dismisses anything published by a Trotskyite website, here's one from last December in The Guardian, and an op-ed in The New York Times,  which at least report what Google, Twitter, and Facebook are up to. (*2)
Watch for yourself what happens when you ask Google "What is the Unz Review?" See the  very first item (as of 12/16/2017) that comes up. It's a defamation of a Jew by the Jewish Anti-Discussion Defamation League.

What we have here is a situation where Ron Unz, the honorable, humanitarian Jewish scholar who hosts the Unz Review, is being called the Jewish equivalent of a dirty Irish mick by the Jewish equivalent of dirty Irish micks. Kneecapping, kneeschkapping. If the Internet mob wants to cripple a guy, they put the word out on the street that although he doesn't appear to be an anti-Semite...

(*1) G.K. Chesterton. "The Ballad of the White Horse."
(*2) C.J. Hopkins. "Who's Afraid of Corporate COINTELPRO?" 
Retrieved 12/16/2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Innocence of Bygone Years

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

My husband turned to the Me-TV (Memory TV) channel tonight, and we watched an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show. It was lovely, the innocence (the twin beds), the atmosphere of love created by the wife (Mary Tyler Moore) the care she took in preparing meals and keeping house and looking after her husband and their little boy Richie. And getting made up and dressed to face the day, even if she wasn't going to be leaving home. And when she was ready for bed: kitten-heels on her house slippers. Loveliness and innocence: the Van Dyke Petrie home glowed with it.

What's making me saturnine is the contrast between the Dick Van Dyke Show idyll and  the sleazy vulgarity that we've all gotten used to, even on network TV. The rumors and accusations of sexual harassment and even sexual coercion are pulling the curtain back on the entertainment industry, and we see the behind-the-scenes filthiness that drove the visible scum on the screen. Somewhere along the way -- in the sixties maybe, with the "sexual revolution" -- the sacredness of the sexual union and the institution of marriage was trodden underfoot. The protective feeling men felt for women and their honor was replaced by a predatory  drive to score, with more and more of them, and at the same time, women came to view a life devoted to hearth and home as beneath them as well. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Srinivasa Ramanujan & Hammarskjöld & Atheists

Today is Mystical and/or Mathematical Monday at my blog.

Mystical: In the foreword to Markings, excerpts of diary entries compiled for the public by
Dag Hammarskjöld shortly before his untimely death, one learns that there are absolutely no references to public life. Good: I didn't pick the book up so I could read about Socialism. I wanted to know how he handled the pressure. He was, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, as close as a mere mortal has become-- in terms of burdensome responsibility-- to "King of the World."  A quote:

"How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him."

Mathematical: Ramanujan discovered this  infinite series for pi. (*1) You needn't know much about mathematics to be able to appreciate the poetry of this formula. God wrote and sang the song, but Ramanujan was able to hear it and translate it into mathematical symbols so the rest of us could hear it, too.

                                \frac{1}{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum^\infty_{k=0} \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}.

Mathematical and Mystical: Why bring God into mathematics? We will ask Svrinisana Ramanujan, himself, a Hindu who claimed many of his mathematical insights were given to him by his family's goddess who appeared to him in dreams. His answer:

"Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of GOD."(*2)

Mystical: One wintry night some years ago,  I was turning into the parking lot of an Evangelical Christian church, late for the pot-luck dinner for which I'd in-advisedly committed to bringing a covered dish. Said dish, sliding malodorously and perilously close to the edge of the  passenger seat, hadn't exactly turned out as planned. I was alone.(*3)

"Oh forget it! I'm too ashamed to be associated with this swill, and my name's on the pan, and I really don't feel like hanging out with these people anyway. I'm going home." To be honest with you, I'd been feeling fed up with life in general for a while.

As I headed home, I flipped on the radio. Christian radio. Dang!!! And what's the first thing I heard?

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is [WE'RE TALKIN' TO YOU IRENEATHENA]; but exhorting one another..." Heb. 10:24-25 KJV.

Dangity-dang-dee-Dang-it! I did a u-ey, parked, slunk into the church with my pitiful hot-dish...and left a few hours later, feeling restored and happy, the way human beings were designed (and/or evolved) to feel after they've spent time hanging out with members of their own species.

Trust me (*4) on these 3 things, A, B, and C, that I know for sure.

(A) Everyone should spend part of every day with the mouth shut, listening, just in case God happens to be singing in the vicinity: Even --or perhaps, especially-- if you don't believe in God.

(B) If you're a follower of Jesus, you have to find flesh-and-bones Christians, not disembodied internet entities, to hang out with. 

(C) If you can't find a bunch of Christians who make you feel energized rather than drained, better you should hang out with a few atheists (as long as they're life-affirming atheists) than sit at home and brood. Or life-affirming Anything-at-All-ists.

If you've found a group of people you can be yourself with, then you're home.

(*1) "Srinivasa Ramamujan", article retrieved from on 11/07/2017

(*2) Quoted in Ramanujan, the Man and the Mathematician (1967) by Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, p. 88

(*3) My husband was at a gig, or a rehearsal, or a lesson.

(*4) as someone who gets messages from God, THROUGH THE RADIO!

Safe Place to Land: Hallway to Out-Of-State Child's Room - IreneAthena

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Negotiating with himself and God

Today is Thank God It's Sunday at my blog.

Here's a little something to listen to while you read. It's the Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Soweto Gospel Choir. I spent some time this weekend reading comments in an Alt Right blog, and while I can say that most of the participants aren't white Supremacists, the contact with those who are drained me spiritually. This music uplifts me. Some white supremacists may be walking toward a fork in the road that will eventually lead them to a place where they are enjoying this music, too. Singing along....

Dag  Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and he was also awarded a Nobel Peace prize. He died in an airplane crash while he was on his way to peace negotiations in Africa. Some suspect foul play.

Last week at the thrift store, I noticed a book by Dag Hammarskjöld. The United Nations connection of the author might propel some conservatives to a stealthy visit to the  thrift store's garbage bin.  They're suspicious about an organization that appears to have as its aim the dissolution of national sovereignty. Well, well..

...People end up in odd places to do the work they are convinced God has for them to do. (I knew someone whose father was in the Nazi party, but he used his position to redirect to safety trains headed for concentration camps.)

Markings  is a collection of excerpts from Hammarskjöld's diary. He says he offered it to the public as "a sort of 'white book' concerning my negotiations with myself -- and with God."

I'm in. I'm curious.
Halloween's tomorrow. Then the fun is over and the scary costumes are laid aside for another year.  I wish it were that easy to put aside the inner disguises that keep us from knowing who we  really are, on the inside. 
Durer. St. Michael Fights the Dragon.   Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I wonder if this adventure will be as exciting as my experience with the copy of Man's Search for Meaning  I rescued from the middle of a busy intersection a while back...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Compassionate and Wise Refugee Policy

It is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

This summer, I wrote a review of a review of a book that examined the immigration issue compassionately and wisely, taking into account the struggles of a mass exodus of people fleeing from war-torn regions, and also those of the host nations struggling to accommodate them.

I'll tell you something that makes me saturnine, and that's the teeny tiny font-size-- a teeny tiny font-size that persists despite multiple efforts at re-editing the thing...(*1)

So let's try again this way. Press the control key and the "+" key simultaneously a few times once you get there, and it should be legible.

(*1)During this Halloween-tide, I find myself wondering what manner of entity is responsible for the obstacle?

 Just kidding. Well, maybe only half kidding....

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Varieties of Crowing

Today is still "Tuesday what's in the News Day" at my blog.

"You aren't supposed to blow your own horn."

"Don't let your left hand see what your right hand is doing."

"If you do good works to be seen by men and receive praise from them, don't expect God to reward you, for you have already received your reward."(*4)

Yeah, okay. But you know, I can tell the difference between people who, looking for hero-worship, are constantly talking about the good that they do, versus those who describe the charitable projects they're involved with so that others will be inspired to volunteer or support these works financially.

What I am about to do feels very uncomfortable for me. It seems immodest. Here goes.

Here are the things I do to help.  REDACTED.

There. I said it.(*1)

Why did I publish this? (*2) I can tell you that giving part of yourself to the world makes you feel more connected to it, improves your mental and physical health. Yes, by all means, find a few of the many volunteering opportunities that exist, and start reaping those benefits for yourself.

(*1) Aw. No I didn't.
(*2) Ditto.
(*3) What does this have to do with Tuesday What's in the News Day?  Do you know that every time you  share the Kroger page on Facebook, this grocery chain will give $5 to relief efforts in Houston, Texas which is experiencing catastrophic flooding post Hurricane Harvey.(*4) 

(*4) How many stars in my heavenly crown will this footnote get me, I wonder....DOH!

Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World

Today is Tuesday What's In the News Day at my blog.(*1)
I recently read a book review (*2)  of Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World. The book has really good ideas, and I'm grateful for Noah Berlatsky for bringing it to my attention, even though his book review errs in a couple of places. (*3)

The review claims that at the  root of today's global crisis are Western beliefs about refugees.   The root cause is actually the Empire-building foreign policies that create refugees in the first place by destabilizing entire regions. The book review also sweeps aside as “unfounded” the concerns of Europeans and Americans about taking in large numbers of difficult-to-assimilate groups. Yet, whether or not the book itself directly alludes to things like the Rotherham child abuse scandal or terrorist acts committed by a radicalized first generation,  the recommendations of Paul Collier and Alexander Betts adequately  address  those fears as well as the refugees’ desperate conditions.

Here are some quotes from the authors,  Paul Collier and Alexander Betts.  My remarks are in brackets. 

.....“People need the chance to provide for themselves and their children, and to live meaningful lives…[Jordan and Uganda have been ] experimenting with new approaches to economic opportunity for refugees…. Initial prospects for the program look good…European governments and the US need to set up trade concessions and business incentives to encourage investment and help make the venture profitable…Countries next to poor, conflict-ridden countries are often poor and conflict-ridden themselves, which means that the burden of dealing with humanitarian catastrophe falls on those least able to shoulder it. Richer countries have an ethical duty to help. [I'll say!!! especially since the West was largely responsible for the destabilization of refugees' original homes!].…If refugees have more opportunities, more autonomy, and better lives in neighboring countries, they are unlikely to feel the need to travel further abroad. When refugees stay closer to home, they are also more likely to return when conflict is over, which can help war-torn nations recover more quickly, reducing instability and terrorism worldwide.“
I hope the projects described in  Refuge get the outside support they need to continue being successful.  

(*1) There has also been disastrous flooding in Houston, Texas after  Hurricane Harvey made landfall over the weekend.  The scope of the damage has not yet been fully assessed, and as of this writing, flooding continues.

(*2) Retrieved from Quartz magazine, August 29, 2017.

(*3) I'm also grateful to my cousin who linked to Berlatsky's review from Facebook.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day Off, Face Off, FACE ON

Today is Day Off Thursday at my blog.  I've had a months-worth of consecutive days off at my blog, it would appear. Yep. Last entry July 11.

I have some burdens, probably not any heavier than most of your burdens. It wouldn't do me or the world any good for me to talk a about them here and now. Sometimes it's helpful for someone to read about a burden he has in common with a blogger.  When I get some perspective on the current situations, it may be time to write. (*1)

But I'm OK. I'm trying to eat right (mostly), and to get exercise and sleep, and to spend time with God and also the people I'm closest to, and with those who count on me.  There just isn't enough overflow of energy to spend online. 

(*1)That was fast!!! Changed my mind about not writing.  I'm burdened because ....nevermind why... I'm writing, though these calamities be not yet overpast...


(1)There is a God in Heaven who sits serenely over it all.  DEEP BREATH!

(2)He's juggling the fractals and the Deep Physics and weaving his omniscience and omnipotence in and out of everyone else's free will. HE'S SO WISE! TRANSCENDENT!

(3) MY HEART IS FIXED: The status of the world changes second to second, so it's important to stay in touch with the Almighty God frequently to get one's marching orders, which are sometimes, due to rapidly changing circumstances, no more specific than:

(4) "Put Your Game Face On."  Not a game face  that scares away the enemies, but a calm game face that shows  you aren't afraid of them and that you may actually be fixin' to help calm them the heck down, too.  Not calm as in "assuming room temperature" calm, but the calm that allows people to work on problems together, instead of working at cross purposes. MY HEART IS FIXED. I WILL SING AND GIVE PRAISE. MY HEART IS FIXED! And my face will surely show it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Life Imitates Art

Today is Tuesday What's In the News Day at my blog.

Good news: Wonderful long weekend with my cousins, first-cousins-once-and-twice-removed and sole surviving uncle and his wife in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bad news: The flight home was cancelled.

Good news: The Delta employee at the ticket desk worked out an alternative route home.

Bad news: We had to fly from Louisville to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Boise.

Good news: That's a heck of a lot of Delta sky miles.


Good news: New kind of puzzle for me (Kenken) in the Delta Sky magazine provided pleasant distraction from turbulence nausea.

Bad news: Got very frustrated with the more difficult of the two Kenken puzzles and erased it twice, while nauseated from turbulence.

Good news: Choice of free in-flight movie offered.  I chose "Hidden Figures," the true story of three women who overcame racial and gender hurdles in the early sixties to make their marks in the NASA program that put John Glenn in orbit.


Good news: The example of female math whizzes Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson persevering against all odds INSPIRES me to finish difficult Kenken puzzle before the movie is over.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

No More Saturnine Saturdays EVAH!

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

It's actually not saturnine (gloomy, morose, unsmiling) at all.

But if it were a saturnine Saturday, and I was hanging around not doing much else besides eating Cheetos and doing Kenken puzzles without putting makeup on or even non-lounge-wear clothes....

....I would want someone to come up alongside, put some Paul Eugene on the computer...

...and get me dancing.

O my gosh. This guy is all about fun and joy. He doesn't "guilt" you into exercising, but once you start poking around his website, you start running out of excuses for not getting up and moving. The man has everything from Z fitness routines, to Gospel aerobic exercise, chair aerobic exercise, WHEELCHAIR aerobic exercise... For free, you can dance along to a lot of the routines on his site and on Youtube. I paid a small fee to download one and hope to do so again because I LOVE DANCIN' WITH PAUL EUGENE!

Exercise changes my brain. It really does.  Right down in there at the reptilian, just-stop-thinking-and-do-what-feels-natural level.  I can get inside my head too much, feeling uber-responsible, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders (or foolishly thinking I can.) Meanwhile, there's a snake sunning herself on a rock somewhere, saying, "Yeah, just had a great workout, and then I ate my young. Life is good."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How much sleep should you get each night.

It is still Wisdom Wednesday at my blog, even though it is actually 2 am Thursday, and I must be at work at 9 am tomorrow morning.

Q: How much sleep do you need each night.
A: Preferably 7. Any less than 6 and you might as well show up at work drunk.

Ergo, end of Wisdom Wednesday blog posts for this week.

It's 100 and frickin 5 degrees out.

It's still Wisdom Wednesday at my blog, even though it's actually Thursday morning.

What do you do when your car has been left in the sun. If it's 105 F outside, your car is what, 110, 120F I don't know.... 

Props for not leaving dogs or babies alone in there!

Shame about those chocolate bars you left on the seat, though.

OK, so that you don't melt like those chocolate bars, here's what you can do to cool the car down quickly (*1) if you need to leave in a hurry and don't have time  to open all four doors and wait for the hot air to escape before you get in the car.

1) Turn on the air conditioning.
2) Roll down all the windows.
3) Turn the air conditioning vent to the Floor setting.
This process will push the hot air from the floor right out the window. 

The car might actually get so cool  that you can turn off the A/C after a few minutes and leave the windows rolled down while you drive, like maybe your grandparents did when they took your parents on road trips during  summers of the twentieth century.  (*2)

You'll save on fuel that way, you know, and you may not have to repair your A/C as frequently as you would if you drove with the A/C on all summer long.

 (*1) I learned this trick from this month's issue of First for Women magazine.

(*2)  Before they had fancy things like A/C in cars.  But of course they didn't have global warming either.

Old Macdonald Bought the Farm

It is Wisdom Wednesday at my blog.

It's actually Thursday 1:30 am and I have to be at work at 9am Thursday,  tomorrow morning. If I were wise I wouldn't be online this time of night.

But this is important.  To maybe ONE person out there. This is all in code. You'll know if I'm talking to you. No, I don't know who you are.  Don't be paranoid. You've been asking,  "why, why WHY did this happen?  How did it happen?!!!"

And now you may be getting your answer, or part of it.

I'm thinking of the movie Wizard of Oz right now, for no particular reason, except for the reason  this post is written in code. O E O. Ohhh YA. O E O. Ohhh YA. O E O. Ohhh YA.

You've been asking that question, and you've been startled by some of the "coincidences" that have come your way, landing on your lap. Weird, isn't it?  You  know what? This secret you are carrying is a very common secret. Few people know how common, because it's so secret.

And maybe that fact that I just stated is all you need to find the peace you want.

But if it's not?

You might do worse than reading:

 Father Melancholy's Daughter  by Gail Godwin.  Read the sequel, Evensong, as well.

Weep. Remember. Grieve the way you never had a chance to.

Pass it on, when you've healed enough and are ready to pass it on. Might be decades from now.

It's OK.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And here's a petition to sign

Regarding my last post:


Honorable Member of the House Intelligence/Foreign Affairs Committee:
I, as a concerned citizen of the United States, endorse and support the bipartisan legislation, “STOP ARMING TERRORISTS ACT” (H.R. 608), submitted by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

This legislation, based on Congressional action from the 1980s, is an important contribution to peace.

I urge the Committee to promptly affirm and submit this Bill to the full Congress.

Click here to access petition-signature page.

Liberals and Conservatives Oppose war in Syria together!!!

The following bracketed comment is one I made on Facebook Share where liberals were bashing conservatives because Trump is about to bomb Syria again. I've been editing it.

[LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES NEED TO JOIN TOGETHER AND PROTEST THE ESCALATION in SYRIA that started during OBAMA's term and is escalating further under TRUMP, despite Trump's campaign promises to reduce military engagements. Conservative and liberal citizens will never be able to stop these wars unless they stop sniping at each other and fight the real enemy: the Deep State that put pressure on Obama to switch the goal in Syria from fighting terrorism to ousting Assad, pressure Obama was not able to withstand, starting in 2012...

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?? URGE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN WASHINGTON TO COSPONSOR HR 608 (sponsored by Tulsi Gabbard D-HI,  the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act) that will  put a stop to  hamper the US's misguided war against Assad in Syria.)]

 I wrote to my Representative, who is a Republican, about the possibility of his co-sponsoring HR-608, the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act.  As of this writing, the bill has only 14 co-sponsors.

Here  is an article with more details if you'd like to write to your  House representative in Washington encouraging him or her to co-sponsor the "Stop Arming Terrorists" bill.  The article is written by a conservative praising Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat Congresswomen, for her efforts. The author asks the question: If Congress is really serious about "The War on Terror" why have we switched directions from fighting terrorism to funding it?

....and here is the article Congresswoman Gabbard wrote about the act, which she wrote and sponsored. 

The war in Syria will continue unless there is a joint effort by liberals and conservatives, starting work at the grass roots level, to oppose it.    The "Stop Arming Terrorists" Act (HR 608). Praised by conservatives (the good kind, not the neocons), written by a Democrat,  its cosponsors are bipartisan (but their numbers need to grow!),  endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America and Veterans for Peace.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT TO OPPOSE THE WAR IN SYRIA?? URGE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN WASHINGTON TO COSPONSOR HR 608 (sponsored by Tulsi Gabardi D-HI,  the "Stop Arming Terrorists" act) that will put a stop to the US's misguided war against Assad in Syria.)

How do I go about contacting my representative?  Start here. 

The Writing-your-Congressmen Option

Today is Tuesday What's in the News Day at my blog.

I try to stay positive in my blog.  I write here when I've been thinking about something that might be useful to a reader. If it's  not useful (or even read) by someone in the immediate future, then perhaps it will be later on when a reader might stumble upon it, via a label, perhaps.

Late last night, instead of writing a blog post about the problems with both the Affordable Care Act of 2009 and the new "Republican Senator" version, I wrote to Senate Majority Leader  Mitch McConnell.

Instead of writing a blog post about why the "if you wage war on one of us, you wage war on all of us" principle of NATO is outdated, I wrote to both of the senators from my state. (A resolution to re-affirm this outdated principle was on the Senate agenda for this week.)

Instead of writing a blog post about the scant evidence used in April to bomb Syria for "Assad's use of chemical weapons" and similar baseless accusations and threats made again by Trump yesterday,  I linked to an article in Consortium news and shared it with FaceBook friends. Maybe they will be able to do something constructive with that information.

Instead of  getting depressed about the inability of so many US citizens  to discuss issues rationally, without ad hominem and demonizing stereotypes, I'm taking the discussion to people who at least have that ability as part of their job descriptions. That'd be our representatives and senators.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thank God It's Sunday: Sirius Shepherd

Today is Thank God it's Sunday at my blog.

I'm going to describe as concisely as I can (*1) an experience I had this month with poetry and meditation, a blog and a coincidence.

Looking for something to use as a focal point for meditation one morning, I reviewed some old notes on Methodist preacher Adam Hamilton's discussion of three of Jesus' "I am" statements.

I am the Good Shepherd.
I am the True Vine.
I am the Bread of life.

Now for the blogs and coincidences part. Saint Marty-Marty very faithfully posts poems worth reading. So many poems in this world, so little time! How to even decide what to read? Thank you, Saint Marty-Marty.

Imagine my delight, when, after a couple of days of meditating about Jesus as the  Shepherd, the Vine, the Bread, I landed upon this blog post, featuring the poem "Dear J" by Kazim Ali.

I don't know who the "J" in  "Dear J"  is.  The poet was raised in India by Muslim parents. Maybe "J" stands for Jehovah. Or maybe there is a Jan or a Jimmy whom he admires greatly, seeks to emulate. Maybe "J" is a lover's initial.(*2)

Whoever "J" is,  Kazim Ali's poem to him or her, and Saint Marty-Marty's bringing that poem out into the open  have added more brush strokes to the emerging mental image I have of God.  Far, far above and away, but willing to connect with us, to guide, to nourish.

Jesus : Shepherd  :: J : Sirius

Jesus : Vine :: J : "black strip in a flower's throat,"  "silver thread of sound," " sky to navel"

Jesus : Bread :: J : Sirius

Sirius : Cereus  :: Jesus : Seeker Thirsty and Hungry for God

I say, "Thank God it's Sunday!" when people with differing or even opposing political or religious views help each other see their way clear for a step or two along the journey.  As right as we may think we are, compared to the Almighty and His wise, inscrutable ways,  we're all just stumbling around in the dark.


(*1) I will use the pattern
A : B :: C : D
meaning,   A corresponds to B in the same way that C corresponds to  D.

Man : Boy :: Woman : Girl
Green : Lime :: Yellow : Lemon

(*2) Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.  Cereus is a blooming cactus.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New-to-You Wheels

"Paint" Job
Today is Family (Secrets) Friday at my blog.

I am so proud of my restraint.

A few days ago, my husband told me he was considering buying a used car from one of his coworkers.  He described the car: make, year, how many miles it has been driven, a there's a scratch on the bumper, four wheel drive, 24 mpg city...and I kept biting my tongue...

...biting my tongue, not asking my husband the question that was burning a hole in the roof of my mouth.

"Sounds good, honey!"

We picked it up around 10pm in the parking lot where his job is. Even though it's nearly summer solstice, and there was still a sliver of daylight along the horizon, the visibility was poor when I first laid eyes on this new addition to Fleet Athena.

I didn't find out what color the car was until we arrived  home, and I could see it under  the lights from our garage.

The End.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Got guilt like a jellyfish...

                          (...oh, I got guilt like a jellyfish...I got guilt like a jellyfish in my soul...)
Today is Mystical Monday at my blog.

Is this cool picture of jellyfish à propos of anything at all? Yes. I hate feeling guilty, and I hate jellyfish, or I used to hate jellyfish.

I stopped hating jellyfish when I visited the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia recently. En masse, in all different sizes, behind a glass so they couldn't sting me, their translucence set aglow with special lighting, they were displayed in such a way that I appreciated jellyfish--enjoyed them!--for the first time in my life.

And today, I had a Mystical Monday revelation. (*1) Today, some things I already knew, on one level, about how the brain works became personally relevant:  How one can confront, judo style, recurring guilty memories, harnessing and redirecting their energy, instead of having them sap one's own.

Guilt is a good thing: It's a signal that something is wrong, that one needs to do something, or needs to stop doing something, to make the uncomfortable sensation go away. It's an instinct that keeps people in line so the tribe can thrive.

But what about guilt over ancient wrong-doing? Unless you need to confess to a homicide that  will bring closure in a decades old cold case, guilt isn't going to do any good at all at this point, is it?  And it keeps you from doing any good at all, because it deludes you into thinking you're no good at all.

I'm talking to religious people as well as people who don't believe in God here. What do you do with guilt like that? When you've already done everything you know you should do to make amends, but still, the torment?

We live in a beautiful world shot through with ugliness and cruelty. We've all contributed to the pain: Guilt is a reminder of that.  Well. Instead of being immobilized by guilt you can't do anything about, one could say,  "Aha!" when that kind of  guilt comes a-prickin. "Here is a reminder of all the pain not caused by me that I can do something about." Make that response to ancient guilt a habit, and you'll rewire your brain.

Again, I'm thinking about people who believe in God,  or who used to believe in God, or never believed in God. What harm could there be in asking: "What specific pain might that pain be, and what can I do to help, O God who is or isn't there?"

Someone asked C.S. Lewis  (theologian and author of The Chronicles of Narnia) about the problem of unanswered prayer. He replied that after years of discussing the matter with many devout people, he concluded that  that, while many prayers do seem to go unheeded, the most consistently and dramatically answered prayers are the ones that go along this line:
how can I be of assistance?

If I were an atheist, I'd be inclined to give that a try. Couldn't hurt, and might do a world of good, for two people anyway: the person you helped, and you.

(I've got peace like a river, peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul.)

(*1)  I plagued myself with "mothering mistakes I've made" memories this weekend. Sometimes, my mind with a pathological hunger for all things negative, goes routing around the ancient past looking for tasty morsels. Other times, when I'm enjoying a good movie, for instance, and something in the plot reminds me of something I did wrong fifteen years ago -- and, wow! it's all aboard the bad mommy express.

I'm all for promoting twinges of guilt assailing a mom whose kids are still in her care: Put FaceBook and the dang cell phone down for awhile, mama! and play with those babies, teach them, love them!

But my kids are grown now, and when my train of thought goes choo-choo-choo-chew-chew-chewing  though the cortical nooks and crannies where my least favorite memories are stored ..especially the memory of that one time?...I berate myself into inertia. "It's too late to undo the damage, the warping effects of which you will observe in their lives until the day you die, or until they die, whichever comes first!"

So this morning, after a weekend of this nonsense, I reluctantly and unworthily dragged myself to a volunteer commitment I had made.  A little while into my day, I  had occasion to overhear a man giving a lecture about Chopin.  "As we listen to this dramatic piece composed by  twenty-year-old Frédéric, we have a sense of the emotional turmoil he was undergoing at the time."

And it hit me: I know my son has gone through some disappointments recently, but I haven't talked to him about how he's doing.  "Stop this fruitless wallowing!"I told myself. "He's too old for his mom to be able to make much of anything at all better in his life, but he could probably use a listening ear. Text him, and don't you dare try to wrest from some him some Proverbs 31 "rising up to call you blessed" declaration to make you feel better. It's about him, not you."

"Do you have a few minutes today?"
"What? Did the cat die?" (**2)
"Nothing's wrong. Will 4 work?"

Later that afternoon, my son talked to me. He talked a lot. I listened...well...mostly listened. I didn't ask for a hug afterward, but I got one.

RESOLVED: Redirect the energy of every "I'm a bad mother" accusation into praying a line from Psalm 24 for my daughter, or a line from Psalm 20 for my son.  (Psalm number is incremented with each birthday.)  Ancient guilt doesn't doesn't do them...or anyone...a bit of good. On the days when I'm feeling as spiritual as a Styrofoam take-out box, let the ancient wise word speak,  for me, blessings on my children.

For my son, and for your sons: "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion."

For my daughter, and for your daughters: "This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob...Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

(**1)  I haven't always been that terrific of a wife either, but my husband is still alive, and he's so preternaturally appreciative and patient with me, that when I do the tiniest out-of-the-ordinary kindness for him, his loving reaction banishes my guilt over the not-so-kind things I've done in the past.

How much more powerful to banish guilt should be the awareness of God's mercy, and the Power!  (Power!) Wonder-working Power of the Precious Blood of the Lamb!  So often, though, crippling guilt coincides with doubts that there is anything good in the Universe at all.

(**2) The feline abides, and she's wanting her bedtime kibble.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wet Soil Weeding. Protest Warning

It is Wisdom Wednesday at my Blog.

There's been a lot of rain this week. My rose bush needs me to prune it, but  instead of doing that, I'm taking the opportunity while the soil is so soggy, to pull weeds everywhere and grass where it shouldn't be growing.

A little Latter Day Saints kid in the neighborhood came up to me while I was weeding late Saturday afternoon and told me he needed to do a good deed of service to report to his Sunday school class the next morning, and might he help me weed?  There are benefits to being one of the few Gentiles in my Mormon neighborhood.

While we working together, he told me that wet soil holds on to stubborn roots less tightly .  I have a good rain hat, so today, I thought of him, and  weeded while it was raining.  It was a thoroughly pleasant experience.

I went inside when it started thundering. though. Best not to be outside when lightning might hit.

So that's my wisdom for this Wednesday.

....And oh, this, too.  If you consider yourself part of "the Antifa"  an equal-rights-and-justice-for all-anti-Fascist" and  have engaged in, or plan to engage in, or are encouraging others to engage in,  disruptive and even violent protests against  speakers who don't share your point of view, you are are a hypocrite, or at best a  fool influenced by herd mentality. (*1)

Here is some wisdom for how to deal with that kind of confrontation: back away from the whole scene. If you really believe in standing up for people's rights, you don't belong in a movement that is trying to interfere with other folks' right to assemble peacefully and exercise their right to speak freely.

(*1) Update June 12. That was kind of harsh, my calling people "fools." But I try not to correct anything but grammatical errors when I do edits long past the publishing date. It seems more honest that way, so I'll let the "fools" stand. I can get just as angry with social justice warriors as I can with White Supremacists. Woe is me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rattlesnakes and Patriots

Today is "Day Off Thursday" at my blog.

This morning, I shared a post from one of my animal-loving Facebook friends.  It featured a picture of a Timber Rattlesnake, the news that there had been many sightings of the same in the forests of Indiana, and the admonition that in case of an encounter---given that these snakes  are on the endangered species list--- it is best to "back away slowly."

It was interesting to read the reactions in the comments on the original post.  The snake-o-philes tended to emphasize the endangered status of the snakes and wanted to see to it that their place in the wild was respected. On the other hand, one snake-o-phobe went so far as to say, "A dead snake is a better snake."

I'll tell you what, you won't ever, ever find me doing harm to a rattle snake. It's not that I'm a big fan; in fact, so profound is my loathing for rattlesnakes, that I am convinced that, should I strike one on the head, the foul thing would, Hydra-like, grow two more great, fanged heads to bite  me with. My big take-away from the Facebook article  was the advice to "back away slowly" if I encounter a rattlesnake. Good to know: my inclination would have been, up til now, to run away in a  zig-zag pattern as fast as I could.

I've known some snake-lovers, though, and I can bear witness to the sincerity and depth of their passion for these creatures.  One glorious spring day,  I was on a hike in Idaho's high desert with some friends, one of whom called out:

"COOL! A rattlesnake!"

"BOY HOWDY! Where?" asked another member of the party.

"Over here. And if you get close enough, you can see...three...four...five more!"

I can't be 100 percent sure of the rest of the conversation. From the distant spot to  where I had removed myself (rapidly, and in a zig-zag pattern, as I recall), I think I may have overheard this:

"Ah, that chubby one over there is *so* cuuuuuuuuuuuute!"

"Isn't he *just*! If he were in a pet-store instead of out in the wild, I'd bring him home as a pet!"

"Oooh, better leave now before you get tempted!"

When they finally caught up with me, we were all able to finish the walk together in peace, and I attribute this largely to the fact that I kept my feelings about rattlesnakes to myself.

There doesn't appear to be much middle ground as far as supporting/not supporting Trump goes.   He is a God-Emperor to some, and to others he is a snake to be driven out of office,  as the snakes were said to have been driven out of Ireland by St. Patrick (pbuh.) And the response of Trump-o-philes is to defend him against those attacks as if he were an endangered species.

The subject of immigration seems to be the most divisive.  Trump-o-philes will point to horror stories about the infrastructure of one locale or another being  insufficient to handle the influx of new-comers requiring services there. And the Trump-o-phobes will point to the many, many stories of families  being torn apart by recent draconian deportation measures.  I'd like to see more conversations where the full range of situations arising from  immigration are  discussed with an aim to finding realistic, humane solutions.   Don't give up on finding common ground with your friends until after the first, oh...six or seven  times.....that you find yourself ending up in an angry landslide of vituperation. 

Right up until the April Syrian airstrike, you could find, in some quarters, cautious optimism about Trump's campaign promises of a foreign policy less about regime change and more about diplomacy.  Since that attack, that segment of the electorate is now divided into factions,  those who recommend that we "just wait and see because brilliant Trump is playing 5-dimensional foreign policy chess"  versus those who counter with "new boss, same as the old boss."

It's good that people are having those conversations, even heated conversations.  There are  tragedies all over the place, and no one has the capacity to care about everything, but at least there are some people who are paying attention to and demanding answers about    the devastation being wrought in Yemen for example -- or in other corners of Over-There-Istan.

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssSSSSSSSssssssss chigga chigga chigga chigga sssssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSsSSSSSSSSSSSssssssssssssssssSSSSSS Crotalus viridus. Prairie Rattlesnake- Idaho.
Now that there's been an exodus from the  Alt-Right by those who are disillusioned with Trump's foreign policy reversals, a significant part of the remnant are folks who never cared about a more peaceful  foreign policy to begin with. As long as they don't end up on our shores, they'd be happy to see immigrants drown in the boats in which they are escaping the hell-holes Western foreign policy has made of their original homes.
crotalus horridus   Timber Rattlesnake. Indiana
What to do about  the fight between this violent Alt-Right remnant and their equally violent Antifa counterparts?    If the battle spills over out of Berkley, it may be getting closer to where you live.   Reason has gone out the window, and high emotions (and in some cases, good old-fashioned blood-lust) are taking over.

Whether you support Trump, or whether you don't, I advise backing away slowly.