Robots Make Better Decisions than Congress

The last book I read titled “Walk in My Combat Boots” by James Patterson was a series of stories told by veterans. Each one begins with a short bio of the warrior and followed by his story. The thing that impressed me most were the bios. Many of these soldiers came from families where fathers, grand fathers, and great grandfathers were also soldiers. Many of them fought in WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq.

The stories are chilling. The sacrifices made by these men and women are hard to understand. They do it and they love it. Many of them stay in much longer than a drafted recruit. They return home unable to assimilate into society. Even sadder is that we as a society expect them to fit right in. Even if they return with their physical body intact, they have difficulty fitting in.

When I hear a member of our administration bad mouth the military, I am incensed to the point of wanting to execute the speaker on the spot. Thank God they are too many miles away, and I am watching them speak on a TV. Most recently I watched a speech given by our first lady vice president in which she denounced veterans as being coddled by the VA and that they should learn to get back into society by getting a job.

I am totally aware that these controversial statements are fact checked and many times I am make a fool of myself by not checking them before I speak. What I was surprised to learn is that all the fact checking sources claim that she never made any such statement. Except, I watched the video clip where she did. Maybe I was dreaming or watching a Saturday Night Live skit, but it sure seemed real to me. The internet has been scrubbed clean of any such video, at least I couldn’t find it. That wouldn’t surprise me because there is a lot of stuff I can’t find these days.

Most things that I can’t find are names, dates, and places of people who I know, or at least I think I knew them. Forgetfulness seems to come more easy these days. Some days I am as sharp as a tack, on others I ask myself why did I come here and what am I looking for. One thing I am certain that I don’t watch Saturday Night Live anymore, and sometimes I fall asleep while standing.

Generally, I find that most people I know treat veterans with respect. We are all appreciative of the sacrifices they made for our benefit. What really dogs me is when a Congressman, Senator, Bureaucrat, President, Vice President, or any of their underlings make snide remarks about veterans getting too much of the pie. Too often the pie is offered on a platter to those wandering into the country unwanted. Today, I read a short piece about how kids coming across the border are being treated to face to face schooling while our kids are being forced into virtual schooling. I say to our administration that I would prefer that they be virtual, and not leading face to face in their pristine offices while collecting full pay at our expense. Robots with some Google, or Amazon artificial intelligence would make better decisions than the current band of thieving administrators.

Easier Said Than Done

The end of the month is putting pressure on me to post so I can keep my readership numbers up. There is nothing like some friendly competition with myself. Actually, the competition is with you the reader. Without your visit to my blog I wouldn’t have numbers to measure against. I almost made writing a daily routine during the COVID lockdown. I recall posting seventy-something days in a row for a personal best. It almost killed me to use my brain that much. My usual routine is to begin the month with lots of posts and then about mid-month I get lazy and forget about writing. As the calendar numbers roll over, and the viewer numbers drop like a rock my ego gets a pumping and I kick writing back into gear.

I related in my last post that in high school and college I found writing stories to be fun. I still write them for fun, but only when they relate personal experiences. When I have to write a post or essay on a specific topic, I freeze. So the moral of my story is this, live an interesting life filled with exciting, joyous, and sad moments so you will have many experiences to write about.

Currently, I’m acting as a counselor for a small immigrant family of two, a grandson and his grandmother. They were a family of three, but the boy’s father was killed in an accident. All of their funeral experience is from a foreign country. The funeral traditions in our country are vastly different. Hence, they haven’t got a clue about how to arrange a funeral. Add to that the fact that they are in shock, and are emotionally distraught, they seek answers for the how-to’s of burying a loved one. One problem is that they pine for the homeland tradition, but it is not here. I try my best to explain our customs, but the homeland customs rule their thoughts. We struggle as a group to reach compromise that fills their homeland needs with our traditions.

Death was not on their minds when they immigrated here. Only the prospect of opportunity and freedom scrolled through their heads. The mother and her son were inseparable for the twenty years they have lived here. The grandson came ten years later, and he too became inseparable. The father maintained a base they all called home. All three of them took jobs caring for people who needed live-in help. They took jobs that required their presence on a 24/7 basis. Many of these jobs were short term because the client died. At any one time there would be one, two, three, or no-one living in their rented house. They did make a point to celebrate birthdays, and holidays together, and when they did it was precious for all of them. No doubt that someday in the future they will also consider this event a precious one.

The grandmother is very traditional European and somewhat superstitious. She likes horoscopes, shaman’s and the religious rites of her childhood. She had decided with the grandson that the body would be cremated. The idea of taking the dead person from the morgue to the crematorium was traumatic. Grandmother held her ground and we were able to talk the mortician into holding the body for one day so we could have a final viewing. Except, he didn’t recommend a viewing of any kind. The accident involved a fire and the body was totally unrecognizable. He provided the body in a large cardboard box on a gurney and covered it with a sheet. Grandma brought some candles which she lit and placed near the gurney. She picked fresh flowers from the garden and placed them on the body. She walked around and around praying and talking to her son for some twenty minutes. She even touched him by touching the sheet, but jerked back if she felt something solid. She had to have those moments with her son for the last time before he went into the flames.

Grandma gets very teary eyed at times but fights off crying. She has to be strong she says, for my grandson. He, on the other hand breaks out into tears at every remembrance of times together with his father. Often he will speak out and say, my mind is overloaded with thoughts of everything. His sudden ascension to the top of the family and the responsibility of maintaining the home front for his grandmother and filling all of his fathers dreams are causing him to overload. I keep telling him to focus only on that which is important to do today. Forgot the future, forget the motorhome, forget the pickup truck, forget your dad’s collections they are not important today. What is important is getting him situated in a place where he can rest peacefully forever. To his grandmother I say that her son’s very sudden death is a gift from God. He could have lived on as a vegetable much like the people you take care of. He would have hated that. Instead, he died instantly. It is your grief that is large, his suffering was very slight if any at all.

Easier said than done.

Into the Spotlight

COVID BEAR- Judy Gale Roberts Pattern

If I could jump into a time machine and transport back to nineteen fifty-two I would. There has been a question the answer to which has bothered me ever since I took a test to determine what profession I was suited for. I was registering for high school. The particular school had several college directed curriculums. I chose to go into pre-engineering. The guidance counselor told me that my scores did not indicate that I would become successful in that kind of career. Being strong-minded and strong willed I rejected their advice and began an education that eventually yielded a career in engineering. What I would like to know is what my test scores actually pointed me toward. No one would ever tell me. So for the past sixty-nine years I have lived in the dark abut whether I made a mistake by pursuing engineering.

The direction could have been any number of directions which might have been easier to come by. I was always tinkering with mechanical things, so I could have chosen to become a mechanic, or maintenance man. In between building model airplanes and sniffing a lot of glue I was always doodling artistically, and loved doing artsy things. I learned that I was a natural at mechanical drawing and had a strong ability to view three dimensional things and being able draw them in two dimensions from many different views, and vice versa. Printing and lettering by hand came almost as easily as cursive writing in the Palmer method. I hated all things like social science so that would have been out. Yet, today I seem to have a penchant for political science, and history. What did the test scores say? Should I have skipped going to college in favor of barber school like my dad recommended? What?

In high school, I learned that I loved to write stories, but hated grammar, sentence diagraming, and punctuation. Skip all the Shakespeare stuff along with all things to do with English literature. In college I definitely loved calculus, solid geometry, and art history. What a combination that is, art and math. I struggled through the many physics and high level math courses, but eventually succeeded in getting my Bachelors in Science, Mechanical Engineering (B.S.M.E.)

Horn Man-Original

In my aged wisdom I have concluded that what my real direction could have been doesn’t matter anymore, because my chosen career was my passion, and I succeeded in making a living, raising a family, and putting three kids through college and into careers in science.

For the last twenty-five years i have been dabbling in an art form called Intarsia. I like it because it incorporates art, with the use of my hands, and skill with wood cutting tools. I began with simple projects and slowly, ever so slowly my skill level has been improving. The early projects were all based on another artist’s vision of things like fish, teddy bears, and flowers. I bought patterns and used them to make pictures from wood. In the last ten years I have decided to develop the art form into something more. I go beyond two dimensional forms pieced together from different colors of woods with some minimal shaping to original designs based on photographs. I convert a photograph into a pattern then shape it into wood sculpture. The very first work I did I called “Horn Man.” It is based on a photo of my grandson Dan practicing with his trumpet. I felt so proud of this work that I have gone in this direction since. Today, I only use pre-made patterns when I like the subject. In fact I will take a pre-made pattern depicting something natural, and then add something special to make it mine. My second attempt at doing this combined a Judy Gale Roberts pattern of two blue jays drinking at a bird bath with my vision of the bird bath in an endless green lawn which has a single dandelion growing at the base of the bird bath. I call it “An Almost Perfect Lawn.”

A year ago, pre-covid era, I entered an arts and crafts show. I priced the pieces so high they would never sell. I needed to learn if anyone else besides me liked any of these works. Although no one bought anything I learned that my works have some appeal. One visitor told me that I was at the wrong show, and that my work should be exhibited at the Frankfort Fine Arts Show. Then COVID hit. All shows were cancelled.

Last month I decided to enter a couple of pieces into a show titled “Emerging Perspectives” at the Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery in Park Forest, IL. Still unsure of myself, I labeled the pieces NFS meaning not for sale. Since then, I have decided to enter as many shows as I can just to give my work some exposure. This morning I completed the entry for my piece titled “Three Roses,” into the Frankfort Arts Association Member Exhibition “Into the Light.” I love the show names, they really pump me up. Anyway, all this excitement about showing my art has raised the question I posed above, did my career interest test indicate that I should have pursued art as a profession? I’ll never know and I really don’t care any more, I like what I am doing: blogging to practice my writing, and using my wood working skills to produce some interesting art.

Three Roses-Original
An Almost Perfect Lawn-Judy Gale Roberts Pattern, Embellished

Cecil-Original

The Moment That Changes A World

This past week I am missing in action. No one knows where I am or why I have gone missing. Emotions run wild as grief takes over to dominate life. My thoughts concentrate on how quickly life can change.

Last Sunday, the first day of Spring 2021 the days was phenomenally warm, sunny, and cheerful. My playmate and I drove to a trail in the woods to enjoy nature. Many others did the same. Some on foot, others on bicycles, youngsters on skate boards, and old timers walking dogs. All were smiling and cheerfully escaping the COVID scourge.

Meanwhile a Lexus SUV sped northward with five people aboard. Simultaneously my playmate’s son moved westward on his BMW Enduro. The two vehicles met to occupy the exact same space completely oblivious to each other. The Enduro planted into the passenger side front seat of the LEXUS.

As with most collisions between a cyclist and a car, the car wins. This crash happened like a bolt of lightning from the sky. My friends son died instantly. The passenger in the front was severely injured. Both vehicles were totally beyond repair.

Eight hours after this instant my friend finally learned of her only child’s demise. Since that instantaneous fraction of a moment life has changed for her, her son’s son, and me. The tiny family of three immigrants in this country with no other social support has been reduced to two. The mother-grandmother is emotionally destroyed while the grandson is overwhelmed by the instant responsibility befallen him.

In the meantime, the coroner cannot release the body until he has verified identity. He called the grandson to have his father’s dental records sent so he could positively know whose death certificate he was certifying. Needless to say this piece of information was devastating. Losing a loved one is always horrible, not being able to find closure by viewing the body is equally calamitous.

It’s been three and a half days since that moment in time and a positive move toward interment has not been made.

My only advice to the grandmother and grandson are to think only of what you can do today, and if that is not working think only of what is absolutely necessary to do in the next hour, or minute.

Pray for them.

My Favorite TV Personality

In all the years I watched the TV program 60 Minutes I enjoyed the final five minutes the most. It was during those minutes that Andy Rooney did his part. In my opinion 60 Minutes can be trashed except for Andy Rooney’s segment.

Take two minutes to read these sayings and be sure to read all the way to
the bottom:

########################################################

*Written by Andy Rooney, a man who had the gift of saying so much with so
few words.*
*Rooney has passed away but used to be on CBS’s 60 Minutes TV show.*

I’ve learned …
That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned …
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I’ve learned …
That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful
feelings in the world.

I’ve learned …
That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned …
That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned …
That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned ….
That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

  I’ve learned….
That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned …
      That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to
help him in any other way.

      I’ve learned….
That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a
friend to act goofy with.

      I’ve learned …
That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to
understand.

      I’ve learned …
That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I
was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I’ve learned …
That life is like a roll of toilet paper.   The closer it gets to the end,
the faster it goes.

I’ve learned …
That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I’ve learned …
That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and
loved.

I’ve learned …
That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

      I’ve learned …
      That when you plan to get even with someone,   you are only letting
that person continue to hurt you.

I’ve learned …
That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned …
That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with
people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned …
That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

      I’ve learned …
That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I’ve learned …
That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

      I’ve learned …
      That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you
miss.

I’ve learned …
That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before
she passed away.

      I’ve learned …
That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he
may have to eat them.

I’ve learned….
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

      I’ve learned …
That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little
fist, you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned …
That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness
and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned …
That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

To all of you …
Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence.

It’s National Friendship Week … Show your friends how much you care.
Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND, even
if it means sending it back to the person who sent it to you.  If it comes
back to you, then you’ll know you have a circle of friends.

HAPPY FRIENDSHIP WEEK TO YOU!
YOU ARE MY FRIEND AND I AM HONORED!

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