Sunday, July 31, 2016

Family Capsule

We celebrated Arsen's Birthday as a family for the 56th time on July 31st.  By my calculation, Arsen and I have spent more than twice as many years together than the number of years we've spent apart -- not knowing of -- or even having met--each other. This last happened to be Arsen's 80th!

We both happened to briefly live in Germany as children after WWII, but unaware of each other's existence. Arsen and his family had arrived in Germany from Hungary, my family and I, from Poland a few months earlier.

Decades had passed since a curious fate -- had caused us to pass each other just a few miles distant during WW II;  but that same fare had then put the distance of the Atlantic Ocean between us. Some years later, destiny again worked to bring us together in the little German town of Baumholder, where we happened to pass a few words on the phone now and then, while both of us were working as part of the US Army Military Post in Baumholder:  Arsen as a member of the US military, was secretary to the US Army's Chief Military Officer, me as the German civilian secretary for the Post Commander.

Our first face-to-face meeting, by another curious coincidence, occurred  at the threshold to my office. One afternoon Arsen appeared there, with papers and coffee, for a meeting between his General with my boss, the Post Commander.  He and I literally ran into each other... and thus began our life together. It has led us, by many circuitous miles over land and ocean, to the village of Wolverine Lake, here in Michigan, where we are happy, love our neighbors and intend to stay for the next decade of our life.

That in a nutshell is the story of a family....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mass Migrations

These waves of immigration we are witnessing now make me think of nothing so much as the breathing in and out of the movement of our human species on this globe.  My Mother Elvira, Hedwig Bezille was born in Poland of German immigrants.  Her parents followed a wave of immigrants from the Alsass-Lorraine Region into Poland. This was the wave of the Industrial Revolution that moved eastward in Europe.  My Grandfather was one of the founders of the "textile industrialists" in Lodz.  The family's manufacturing plant still existed next door to the large family home were I was born and grew up. These human waves of emigrants and immigrants are continuous, probably as long as humans populate this globe.  Eventually perhaps even reaching other planets in our sun system.  Our imagination has long envisioned such cosmic travels... stepping on the moon was perhaps just the first step of this endeavor.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

11 Million De-Migration?

Listening to Mr. Trump's pronouncements, yesterday, my logical mind at once began contemplating the obvious, in response to his mass-deportation program.

How and where would the government find "holding camps"  (not to call them concentration camps)  to gather those illegal aliens ready for deportation?  They would have to be housed and fed, after all, until their turn for a flight came.

Why should the government (the taxpayers) pay for, and make available airplanes, flying 11 million illegal aliens to Mexico?  Mr. Trump's single private airplane, or even Air Force One, would of course take decades to accomplish this; the Air Force's military planes must remain on alert for security reasons... So, should the aviation industry, perhaps, now go into overtime producing larger and better transport planes? Good for job creation?

My mind pondered late into the night, but questions kept popping up in the attempt to find THE  most efficient means to accomplish such impulsive and very BIG decisions by our, currently leading, and potential "Leader of the First World".  I shall pay close attention to more detailed proposals by Mr. Trump, or any other candidate among the large pack. Several contestants are showing interest in this novel idea, seem to have been inspired by Mr. Trump's support among Republican voters, and have been echoing his vision, too. ..
I wonder....

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Nightmare?

I woke with a panic from a nightmarish dream last night.  The man who had dominated the first Rep. Presidential Debate the night before appeared at my door shaking his finger at me while scolding me in rather harsh words for failing to have voted for him as our next president. I wondered if the presidential vote had already been?... Shuddering awake from this vision, I found it hard to return to sleep.

Since the debate, I have seen little else occupying our media spokespersons, the newspaper headlines, and even our conversations at home here.  While the views seem starkly divided, the very amount of attention and time spent on this man, his wealth, background and behavior, cause me to wonder what the future of this great country might look like under such an occupant of the Presidential Office in the White House.

Considering the current reality on the global scale, I cannot feel optimistic for my children's and grandchildren's futures, nor actually for the rest of humanity's.

Perhaps, I tell myself, it was only a very dark dream after all... or was it?  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

A Wall Street headline caught my eye: "Required Reading For Human Beings."  For me, an almost irresistible order or command, especially so when the article is accompanied by a picture, in this case James Thurber, the author of  "The 13 Clocks," that Mr. Neil Gaiman selected for the WSJ Book Club's discussion.
Mr. Thurber is seated in a relaxed pose but attentively writing on some pad.

I am myself wondering why I am, right now, drawn by that headline. Being told that reading to be human is a requirement is not a surprise, of course, but the choice of the book seems puzzling.  It's curious to ponder such coincidences, surrounded by hundreds of volumes collected over 6 decades.  Arsen and I are in the process of  pruning our personal library to fit it into the smaller house we are moving in to.  Endless questions "to keep or to toss" need to be answered before boxing books for shipment.  The Vietnam Veterans have already taken away 24 book boxes filled with the tossers and we are left with about half still to be judged.

The WSJ article has now added another question to be answered before deciding to toss:  was this book or that one perhaps also "required reading for human beings"?  If so, is it really fair to toss it  now?  Perhaps, we should be rereading it just to be absolutely sure?  Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting for the Cardinals

Yesterday morning the news showed us black smoke billowing from the Sistine Chapel's roof signaling that the Conclave had not yet chosen a new Pope.  This prompted  me to ask:  What if we--here in the US--could institute similar smoke-signaling of success or failure of votes or decisions by our elected officials?  Our Government in Washington DC debates and decides daily issues equally as important, for our nation, as the papal selection is for Catholicism.

As the black smoke in Rome indicates, so in Washington such smoke would mean no compromise, no budget, no other critically important decision or agreement has been reached. Our Conclave would then also continue its deliberations, with a firm deadline, perhaps, until a particular decision was reached. Then white smoke would mean success. The decision, including the vote count and any actions or steps to be taken, would then be made public.

The result of such "forced and improved" decision-making would create cheer, optimism, perhaps even some dancing in the streets by some in the  public. This would surely be better for the country than the current deep cynicism pervasive among people. Resignation and apathy seem to be growing. A knowledge that our governing bodies are truly broken and beyond fixing has become the depressing, new reality.

Of course, on the other hand, with such prompt signaling practice, citizens in DC might have to put up with darker and environmentally unhealthy conditions;  perhaps even worse than those experienced by face-mask-wearing Chinese we are being shown on TV in the streets of Beijing.

Still, our elected representatives may then be more inclined to engage in some serious, thoughtful, and honest negotiating. Currently endless grandstanding and blather seems to be the norm.  It depresses me to tune in to C-SPAN and observe the members of both  houses at work on the floor and listen to speechifying that often addresses an empty chamber.

Thinking about this, I find that I'd much prefer smoke signals, even the occasional black kind, to continuously blowing hot air.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Counterterrorism vs Counterinsurgency

These two terms and other labels applied to the seemingly universal unrest have begun to confuse me. Enough so that I started to look up definitions and meanings of Terrorism and Insurgency and other terms like: Rebellion, Revolt, Insurrection, Uprising, Revolution, Mutiny, etc. All are associated or cited as synonyms. This did not help my mixed-up thinking much. It does seem to include most sorts of anti-authority activities. The prefix counter adds to the meaning. We apply such terms to military strategies.  In Afghanistan General Petraeus has used Counterinsurgency.  Now I have been reading about Counterterrorism as the new strategy.

But at times such activities are seen as positive, as the Arab Spring implied at the start; at other times they are viewed negatively. It depends, as we say in the case of “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder...” Or the meaning depends on whether or not one is the agent or the recipients of these activities.

Then again, it may also depend on the outcome such activities produce. I can imagine that had Robert E. Lee won the Battle at Gettysburg, the South may have made peace with the North and the Civil War would perhaps soon have ended. After that the Confederacy would have referred to the conflict as The War of Independence. The French Revolution is seen as a positive outcome by most; but it did have its own “Reign of Terror.” Other examples could be cited of how history bestows a positive or negative designation on these activities depending on their outcomes.

It’s a puzzlement to me! I’ll now go and ask my very own, homegrown etymologist… and then I will share his ruling with you. If you want to add your own insights, you’re certainly welcome!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ah, To Be Twitterpated

Some of us old enough may remember with me a sweet little children’s story based somewhat on the Bambi character in the Hollywood film.  As I recall this story also concerned a cute little rabbit; it was the only one in its family that could not raise its long soft ears like all the other rabbits.  An elder helpful and wise guide explained that the little rabbit should employ twitterpating to overcomne the unfortunate affliction.  I do not remember how the story continued, but once the little one did twitterpate, to its delight, its ears promptly stood up just like the others’.

For some completely irreverent reason this story came to mind when I read in today’s NYT a short news filler about Pope Benedict XVI’s communicating via Twitter for the very first time.  The little photo that accompanied this news flash showed that the Pope too had a skilled and very helpful guide in this technological climb into the twenty-first century. The photo I show comes from the Vatican itself and shows several cardinals standing by to help.

The Pope tweeted:  “Dear Friends, I just launched Praised be the Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”

I wonder if St. Peter, with his heavenly IPad, will also be there guardian of this new portal and through it permit us into heaven…

Monday, June 27, 2011

Missouri River Flooding


Two NYT headlines struck me with their curiously opposing messages:
  • “Across Europe…Cities Discourage Cars…”, 6-27-11
  • “Obama to Tap US Oil Reserve”, 6-24-11
In Europe they discourage car traffic and raise parking fees, while here in the US we feel it is more important to lower gasoline costs to ensure driving.

Is there something wrong with this picture? Or am I the only one seeing the disconnect? We are told endlessly that “we must wean ourselves of foreign oil” or “drill, drill, drill on land and in the waters along our beaches.”

Then, also in today’s paper, there were two reports inspiring the title here:
  • A picture of Minot, ND surrounded by the waters of the flooding Missouri River
  • and another photo of the Cooper Nuclear Power Plant, one of two in Nebraska that are located at the Missouri River. The other reactor, Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant.
Federal government regulators have determined that “both plants appear well prepared to weather the flooding…”

Having recently viewed the movie Jesus Christ Superstar I have been humming the lovely song Magdalene sings to J.C. “Try not to worry, try not to turn on to problems that upset you… Don’t you know everything’s alright, yes…close your eyes and relax.” I will take this good advice to heart, while listening to the evening news during dinner preparations in the kitchen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Modest Proposal

Inspired by President Obama's speech last night and his rethought Afghanistan policy, I began to rethink  my own dietary policies and the unnecessary intake of superfluous and unhealthful calories.  While my plan is not quite as difficult as redeploying troops by the thousands, it does involves the same kind of commitment to the reduction of many hundreds of very tasty treats.  I therefore plan to remove  the three daily scoops of chocolate ice cream starting next month, the two Latte icicles from the midnight snack by December 2011, and become ice-cream-treat-free by the end of 2012.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome to the Spiral!

A sunny day ahead of the arrival of a favorite granddaughter and the start of summer tomorrow too.  This seems to be a good time to begin...