Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tucson Schools Take Rodeo Seriously

If you're from somewhere else in the country, or the world, for that matter, you have no idea how big and important La Fiesta de los Vaqueros is in Tucson.

Here are a couple pictures that should give you some idea of what a big deal the Rodeo is:

Tucson's Botanical Gardens

I just wanted to add a couple of images. They have nothing to do with the butterflies but I DID find them at the Botanical Gardens while we were there and wandering around.

The Doorway


Candy picked up a brochure at the Gardens. They have an art sales gallery and they generally book it about a year in advance.

May 4, 2007: Slide/photo entries must be received by 5:00 pm.

June 18, 2007: Notification to artists.

For the exhibit season: September 2007 to July 2008. They take a 30% commission on sales and discourage NFS (Not For Sale) items. How can you blame them for that?

I figure it would cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to frame enough material to fill the gallery properly ... if I do the framing on the pool table. At least I wouldn't have to start framing seriously before I knew if there was going to be a show.

Butterflies are Free

Well, actually, they're not. There's the admission price for the Botanical Gardens plus an additional $4 a head fee to enter the hot house and look at the butterflies.

This batch is from the January-February showing of butterflies from the Tropical Americas. During October and November the Botanical Gardens feature butterflies from Asia and Australis. December is Africa Month with tropical butterflies from that part of the equator.

Quoting from the show brochure - "How to become a Gardens Exhibit Butterfly":
  • Grow up on a sanctioned butterfly farm in Costa Rica, Southeast Asia or other tropical location. (Where tropical forests are threatened, butterfly farms are a way for local people to make a living by using the forest instead of cutting it down.)

  • During your dormant chrysalis (or pupa) stage you're packed in cotton wool to protect you from transit damage and temperature fluctuations.

  • You are couriered to the Gardens. no matter where in the world you originate, you'll arrive in a few days time.

  • You're greeted by gardens staff who carefully unpack your chrysalis and mount it in the pupae chamber.

  • You emerge from your chrysalis as a magnificent adult butterfly.

Life is short, though. You can count almost the days between youth and middle age with your shoes and socks on. The absence of self awareness is probably an advantage here.

Candy and I went this afternoon. We'd both forgotten about it and we're coming right up against the end of the month and the show.

Catalina Highway

I've been toying with an idea for a while now ... ever since I discovered the on-line book publisher (vanity press), Blurb. I'd like to do an extended photo essay slash "coffee table book" about the Catalina Highway, the road that runs from Tuscon on the Sonoran Desert floor to Summerhaven at the top of the Catalina Mountains.

The Catalina Highway

Actually, I think I've had the idea longer than that. If you check the history tab on Catalina Highway article on Wikipedia linked above you'll see that I'm the original author*.

The working title for the book is "Mexico to Canada In Less Than an Hour".

Going Up Country

The hard part is getting motivated before the sun comes up to hit the road to catch the sunrise among the mountain crags. But the changes in ecology along the 40 mile stretch of the highway are amazing.

The Sentinels

I talk about the project a lot. I think I'm hoping to back myself into a corner with no way out except to actually do the work involved.

* For what it's worth, I've written/originated several articles on Wikipedia. You can find them listed on my Wikipedia profile page.

It Boggles the Mind

Some things are almost impossible to comprehend. They are so illogical that it seems they pass through to the other side and almost seem reasonable.
"And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table."

G.W. Bush, The Current Occupant
Appearing on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Jan. 16, 2007

We're in a so-called "War on Terror". Would it make sense that, IF we were really in a "War on Terror" it would be a good thing to be aware that we are? If we are simply moving on with our lives, making a living, sending our kids to college and putting money on the table, isn't that behaving like the "War on Terror" isn't there?

And IF we're truly in a "War on Terror", why isn't our priority to go after terrorists like Osama bed Linen? What are we doing in Iraq, a place where there weren't any terrorists ... until we got there? Why don't we have more troops in Afghanistan where there are terrorists and fewer in Iraq where there weren't any?

The logic of all this obviously escapes me.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Quilters Paradise

While I make pictures ... or try to ... or try to write something witty for the day ... or find something someone else wrote that catches my imagination, Candy makes quilts. It think it's probably a more direct and visceral experience than the kinds of things in which I indulge.

The Quilter

Can you find the pool table in the picture above?

Mark Twain on Religion

  • Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.

  • I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.

  • If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian.

  • The church is always trying to get other people to reform, it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example

  • I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.

  • Irrevence is another person's disrespect to your god; there isn't any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is.

  • Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition.

  • I purpose publishing these Letters here in the world before I return to you. Two editions. One, unedited, for Bible readers and their children; the other, expurgated, for persons of refinement

  • Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if he is as little as that, He is beneath it.

  • It was not that Adam ate the apple for the apple's sake, but because it was forbidden. It would have been better for us -- oh infinitely better for us -- if the serpent had been forbidden

  • Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned

  • We have to keep our God placated with prayer, and even then we are never sure of him -- how much higher and finer is the Indian's God...Our illogical God is all-powerful in name, but impotent in fact; the Great Spirit is not all-powerful, but does the very best he can for his injun and does it free of charge

  • Conformity -- the natural instinct to passively yield to that vague something recognized as authority

  • I have never seen what to me seemed an atom of proof that there is a future life. And yet -- I am inclined to expect one.

  • I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.

  • Faith is believing something you know ain't true.

  • Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.

  • Man is a marvelous curiosity...he thinks he is the Creator's pet...he even believes the Creator loves him; has passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks he listens. Isn't it a quaint idea.

  • It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bothers me, it is the parts that I do understand.

  • In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

  • Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in

  • Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion

  • To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, Our country, right or wrong, and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation.

  • If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time.

  • Our Congresses consist of Christians. In their private life they are true to every obligation of honor; yet in every session they violate them all, and do it without shame. Because honor to party is above honor to themselves.

  • Men are more compassionate/(nobler)/magnanimous/generous than God; for men forgive their dead, but God does not.

  • Dying man couldn't make up his mind which place to go to -- both have their advantages, heaven for the climate, hell for the company!

  • Well, no doubt it's a blessed thing to have an imagination that can always make you satisfied, no matter how you are fixed.

  • One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it. They have also believed the world was flat.


Stadium Seating

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fool Me Once

IF ... we are confronted by an Islamofascist Iran as Bush would have the world believe ... and perhaps he's right ... it would seem appropriate - IF HE REALLY CARED - for him to recognize that he has painted himself into a little bit of a credibility corner.

  • He's looked into Putin's eyes and determined Putin is a stand-up guy. Putin ain't.

  • He told us there was irrefutable proof that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction. They didn't.

  • He told us that Saddam had ties to al Qaeda and sponsored the attacks on 9/11. He didn't.

  • He told us the Mission was Accomplished. It wasn't.

  • He told us we'd be welcomed by Iraqis as liberators. We weren't.

  • He told us no child would be left behind. Many have been.

  • He's told us Global Warming was controversial among reputable scientists. It wasn't.

This list of untruths, fabrications, distortions and outright lies seems endless.

If he's a cowboy, playing power games ... he'll keep doing what he's doing.

On the other hand, if Bush is truly concerned, he must recognize his credibility problem, put the country's welfare above his own ego and step aside so that someone who has some credibility can lead and tell us that we must fear Iran and the only way to combat it is to take direct and aggressive action.

For me, it would have to come from someone else because I simply cannot believe Bush. He might be right but his track record suggests otherwise.

What's that old saying?

"There's an old saying in Tennessee� I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee � that says, fool me once, shame on � shame on you. Fool me � you can't get fooled again."

- President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

Actually, I think that old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

We "Won't Get Fooled Again".

Why I Hate the Telephone

For those who are not totally up to speed on what I do for a living, I produce a daily newsletter that keeps track of the happenings in the office imaging and document management spaces. That's Corp-speak for keeping track of whats happening with copy machines, fax machines, scanners (the kind of thing you hook up to your computer so you can "scan" or make digital representations of paper documents as opposed to radar scanners, police scanners or MRI equipment), and the hardware and software that people use to capture, store and retrieve electronic documents ... many of which started life as pieces of paper.

I do this newsletter on a daily basis for a readership of over 3,000 people who are spread out all over the planet. I have readers throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. I have subscribers in Europe and in Japan. Their job titles span the office imaging industry from field sales personnel to Chairman of the Board with a couple support level "worker bees" thrown in for good measure. The weight is at the top, though. They are employed by at least eight separate corporate entities ... all subsidiaries of a major multi-billion dollar multi-national company.

The one thing they all have in common is that each and every one of them either personally requested to be included on the distribution list for the newsletter or some one above them in their management food chain requested they be included. In short, I have never solicited a subscriber ... never once have I asked someone to please take my newsletter.

Individual subscribers do not pay for their subscriptions. I work on a corporate retainer and get paid a flat fee regardless of how many subscribers sign up ... so ... more subscribers within the company has the effect of making the newsletter cheaper and cheaper in the long run. Different company? Different flat fee. that way I don't have to worry about one subscriber within a company becoming a mass distribution channel with his.her individual cheapo subscription. If the company is paying the bill, the can include anyone they like and either I'll manage the mailing list (for an additional fee) or they may if they think that saves them money.

So, how does this relate to the telephone?

Toward the end of January I was approached by someone from an outside company - outside the multi-national subsidiary group tha makes up my major customer. He represented a retail organization based in the United States with sales locations all over the country and several thousand employees. As a client of the multi-national I do business with, he'd been sent occasional copies of my newsletter and liked it enough to drop me an e-mail. He wanted to know if i could include him on the distribution list. I got the impression they somehow he thought he would be able to get my little daily packets of information for free -- he pleaded he would only be circulate the newsletter among the corporation's 10-12 senior management types and never mentioned, suggested, or inquired about COST.

The communication was by e-mail; my preferred mode of communication.

In any case, rather than starting the conversation by dickering over price, I didn't directly mention COST either. I played along and suggested that I provide them with a 30-issue trial subscription ... that's a better deal as freebies go than a 30-day trial subscription, but I'm a generous guy.

The trial subscription has recently come to an end. I included a note with the final edition:
"This edition marks the conclusion of the 30 issue trial subscription to the Office Products Intelligence Report/Review that I compile on a daily basis.

"If the report is useful to you and Intergalactic Imaging*, I would certainly like to continue the service provided we can come to an equitable arrangement that would underwrite the continued service.

"Of course, any feedback you might have regarding the report now that you've had an opportunity to "live with it" for a while would certainly be appreciated."
My contact, a VP of Business Development with Intergalactic replied:
"I just landed in NY. I have mtgs tomorrow most of the day and then head west. We should talk 'live' to discuss how your material worked and didn't inside intergalactic.

"My cell is : 581 555 8362."
So I dropped him a note in response:
"Will try to track you down tomorrow (Tuesday). Given you have a day full of meetings, how about I take a shot around 4:30pm your time? If you're aware of a better window, let me know. "
I called his cell phone number at 4:28pm (his time - there's a two hour time difference between Arizona and New York at this time of year). After four rings, my call was bounced over to his voice-mail box. So, I left a message.
This is Joe Kozlowski. You must be up to your earlobes in meetings. Sorry I missed you. If you like you can reach me at (my phone number).
That was Tuesday.

On Wednesday I called twice; once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.

We cannot do business if doing business together is not a priority for both of us. My read is he's playing the game ... if you keep a salesman waiting, you throw him off his pitch. I spent years waiting in people's outer offices as they played the power game. I spent an equal number of years trying to call people on behalf of the companies I worked for, to set up a meeting or to pitch a product. I've seen it all before and it's a game.

We're playing telephone tag and he's trying to demonstrate that he's busier and, therefore more important than I am.

I'll not be calling him back. I make a nice living at what I do. I'm not in a position that requires me to be a groveling, "hail-fellow-well-met", "tugging-on-me-top-knot-here,-sir" salesman. I can afford to have a bad attitude so I do. I don't do telephone tag anymore.

The telephone is an immediate mode of communication but it has several disadvantages - one of which is that can be abused by people who play telephone tag.

I much prefer e-mail. First and foremost, because I can actually write. but beyond that, once you write it, it stops wiggling around. It doesn't change. it is less subject to interpretation - and, if your going to play games with the written word, they have to be significantly more sophisticated.

Don't call us ... we'll call YOU!

* Name changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and my profit base.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Then there are no war crimes ...

Robert Koehler: Sorry About That
from The Huffington Post

For a documentary on the 100-year history -- and horror -- of aerial bombardment, Barry Stevens' "The Bomber's Dream" has a remarkably deft touch. The emotion driving the film isn't outrage so much as jumpiness, of the sort that bedeviled Stevens' mother, a survivor of the Nazis' rocket blitz on London during World War II, who was thereafter spooked by loud noises.

She was permanently unsettled, Stevens says, by "a memory just below the skin, of things going very wrong very quickly." Multiply that by all of us and you have modern society, which lives on this edge and calls it peace . . . or the closest we can get to it.

"The Bomber's Dream" tears back the assumptions and paradoxes and, yes, the good intentions of high-tech war and leaves us mourning not so much its millions of victims -- or even the 40,000 dead of the Hamburg firestorm of 1943, survivors of which Stevens interviews ("outside, the wind sucked babies out of their mothers' arms") -- as a single 15-year-old girl. Her sad and pointless death is a stand-in for all the others.

The girl is Sanja Milenkovic, who died nearly eight years ago, in the waning days of a forgotten war, the last of the 20th century: NATO's aerial campaign against Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia that was meant to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.

As part of NATO's campaign to demoralize the Serbian population (this is always a prime justification for bombing "enemy" civilians and it never works -- never), an unknown pilot from an unknown country, though almost certainly the United States, fired not one but two AGM130 missiles at the bridge in the center of the Serbian village of Varvarin. It was a Sunday morning in May. It was market day. The bridge was crowded with people.

The first missile struck the bridge just after Sanja had crossed it. Like many others, she ran back to help -- and here's where the tragedy and absurdity intensify. As the injured were being cared for, the pilot struck the bridge again, upping the kill count. In all, 10 people, including Sanja, died in the attack; another 30 were injured.

The dramatic, real-time center of Stevens' film is this tiny sliver of history, which became the subject of a quixotic lawsuit brought by the survivors of the victims of Varvarin -- including Sanja's mother, Vesna -- against Germany, as a member of NATO, seeking about half a million euros in reparations. The contention of this unprecedented lawsuit was that the bombing had no strategic purpose and the deaths, therefore, were wrongful: in a phrase, war crimes.

The film keeps returning to the progress of the lawsuit, and to the heartbreaking perseverance of Vesna Milenkovic, who shares her memories of her daughter and speaks in halting, anguished sentences for most of the human race. "If they want to make a war in the name of human rights, they must think of both sides. . . . What we do now -- this will be for all victims in the whole world. . . . They will think about it (next time) before they make decisions to kill somebody."

Well, no they won't, and God help us all because of this. We see the plaintiffs lose not one but two appeals, the second one before the German Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe, which ruled against the concept of a nation's paying out war damages to civilians.

And here, you might say, is the center of the center of "The Bomber's Dream," or the hole -- the bomb crater -- at its center: the shockingly elusive question of responsibility, for anything at all that happens in wartime, or for war itself. Over and over again, Stevens pushes us smack up against this void.

For instance, we hear an aging Arthur Harris, the British father of aerial bombardment, mastermind of the allied campaign to firebomb Hamburg, Dresden and many other German cities during World War II, defend his life's work thus: "Tell me one operation of war which is moral. Sticking a bayonet into a man's belly, is that moral?"

At a press conference after the Varvarin incident, we hear a NATO spokesman say, with a shrug, yeah, it's a shame, but, "There is always a cost to defeat an evil."

Even Bill Arkin of Human Rights Watch, an expert on the Kosovo war, tells Stevens, regarding Varvarin, "I'm afraid no one is responsible." That is, the bombing occurred in a command vacuum; there were too few deaths to matter at a level beyond the pilot's own decision-making. Yet the pilot isn't responsible either, because he was just doing his job, and had been placed in that position by circumstances beyond his control.

Lack of responsibility echoes throughout this compelling, award-winning documentary (for inquiries, contact Stevens at Yet no one's humanity is given short shrift. He interviews pilots, officers (including Gen. Wesley Clark) and even a former Luftwaffe dive bomber (Stevens' own cousin), a likable old man whose "sorry about that" is as much responsibility as anyone takes for anything.

The film leaves us with questions and a lost look in Vesna Milenkovic's eyes, after the second appeal is lost, that says as much as anything I've ever read about the cost of war.

- - -

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at or visit his Web site at


Born Here. Brewed Here.

Interestingly enough, I found this at a Mariachi Festival in Tucson. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who sees the irony here.

Old Things Revisited

Finding the Strom photograph got me looking through the archives of the Pueblo World tour again. I'd pretty much moved on after I did a slide show that the museum used to drum up support for the 2007 version of the jaunt - much different this year than last; less emphasis on ancient history, more on the contemporary life.

Most of the images from the tour don't fit into the on-line portfolios I use ... and the portfolios into which they do fit have limited slots for them, forcing me to rotate some images in and others out.

Tree in the Canyon; Canyon de Chelly, AZ

One of the things that struck me as I traveled through the four corners area was the intensity of the colors. In the case of "Tree in the Canyon", the lush green of the foliage against intense red of the sandstone cliff was striking.

The color was everywhere, even at the hotel.

Thunderbird Lodge; Canyon de Chelly, AZ

The red wall outside my room right after sunrise was on fire. The lone chair overlooked the parking lot and made a perfect balance point for the mass of the wall and the delicate branch above. Personally, I think this is one of the more striking images to come from the trip.

I tend to forget the images of the past as I look for the images of the ever changing present. So many of these images exist only in the form of electronic files. I need to have prints made ... the files are so perishable somehow.

Patterns were another element that struck me along the way. The harsh high desert sun created shadow patterns that wee impossible to ignore.

Hubble Trading Post

Pueblo Bonita; Chaco Canyon, NM

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Invisible Man

It was more than a year ago. We pulled into a gas station that was hosting a high school class car wash.

While the kids were detailing the car, I got out with my camera. There were some men sitting in the shade under some trees near where the driveway met the street. They saw the camera and started hooting and hollering. "Common over and take our pitcher!!"

I waved and walked over.

"OK." And I started rattling off a few frames. It's digital, so it's not like I was burning film or anything. When I'd finished shooting I showed the men the pictures I'd taken using the little LCD monitor on the back of the camera. We talked a bit; about selling newspapers in the Arizona heat and about taking "pitchers". They were homeless and they were impressed ... not so much by the pictures as by the fact that someone would actually respond to them.

Billy, The Invisible Man

I particularly liked this shot of Billy. He's a Vietnam War vet who never quite made it back.

I posted this picture in a photography forum that I participate in from time to time ... along with a little of the story of how the shot came about. I was surprised several weeks later to get a note from a girl in the Boston area. She thanked me for posting the shot and telling a little of Billy's story. She told me her father was in a similar situation. He was a vet who'd had a good job until one day he just couldn't handle it any more and walked away from everything.

She she told me her father still lives in Boston. He sleeps on park benches and takes odd jobs whenever he can find one. She sees him every now and then. When she has the chance, she takes him out for lunch or dinner. She tries to slip him a little money, too. She said he's invisible to most people. She said she was grateful that I was able to see Billy and that Billy reminded her of her father.

I've been haunted by this picture ever since I took it.

Road Trip

We (Candy, Jackie, Ray and me - because it rhymes better than "and I") are planning a road trip at the end of April. The object is to spend a little time at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque.

I have the burden of being the trip planner. I'm not entirely sure that I like the prospect. I've done it for us in the past ... the trip to Jerome, the trip to Silver City. The down side is that I get the "blame" for anything that isn't perfect.

Silver City

It generally works out well though I have the distinct impression some of us don't like "bed and breakfast" accommodations.

In Jerome, we stayed at the Ghost City Inn. Ray complained that they don't have cable TV in the rooms.

In Silver City, we stayed at the Palace Hotel. The overall 19th century charm of the place as somewhat lost on the collective us.

So, once more into the breech. It's looking like five days:

Day 1: Tucson to Pinetop, AZ
Day 2: Pinetop to Albuquerque by way of the Very Large Array (VLA) - as seen in the movie "Contact")
Day 3: Albuquerque and the Gathering of Nations at the University of New Mexico
Day 4: Albuquerque to Las Cruces, NM by way of White Sands National Monument
Day 5: Las Cruces to Tucson.


It's always interesting when I take a photograph and then run across it done by someone else. It doesn't happen often, but it's startling when it happens.

I took this image on the Pueblo World Tour in 2006 with the Amerind Foundation:

Last Saturday I attended the Native Voices gathering at the Amerind and bought Laura Tohe's book, "Tseyi". On page 16 there is one of Steven Strom's photographs, taken during winter ... certainly framed a little differently, but unmistakably the same subject matter. We must have stood within five feet of each other, the perspectives are that close.

Stephen Strom's image
(linked to his site).

Of course, one must pay $250.00 for a limited edition print of Strom's image. I'd happily sell prints of mine for something less.

More to it than meets the eye ...

As we gin up for a war with Iran who purportedly supplied weapons to Iraqis who, in turn, killed about 160 American troops, why is no one asking the question? What of the other 2,900 some-odd American lives? How many of those were lost fighting the Sunni Insurgency?

The Sunnis, of the Sunni Triangle fame, are kith and kin to the Saudis. Aren’t the Saudis sending weapons into Iraq in support of their Sunni brethren in quantities and qualities as great and as deadly as those alleged weapons being sent into Iraq by the Shiite Iranians?

Why aren't we hearing anything about the Saudi support of the carnage? They support fundamentalist Islamist Madrassas all over the world. Saudi Arabia was home to the majority of the 9/11 hi-jackers. Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia, for crying out loud!

Anbar Provence, west of Baghdad, that nest of troubles we hear about on the nightly news is a Sunni area. It's home to al Qaeda in Iraq.

Is is possible that the Saudis, who have been free with their money in many pan-Islamic causes is somehow silent when it comes to a civil way between their Sunni brothers and the Shiite sect?

Now, I don’t want it to sound like I’m taking sides here but, I do think we should be very circumspect about how we further entangle ourselves in this donnybrook.

I e-mailed the above to some friends. Among the responses was one from a friend who "was there":
"It seems to me that, during the Viet Nam war, the North Vietnamese were supplied with weapons from both China and Russia, and yet we somehow managed not to go to war with those countries."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Window Light

Window Light

In the late afternoon as the sun approaches the horizon and another day comes to an end.

In absentia.

It's a small world.


A friend of mine sent me a little something yesterday:
A Somali arrives in Minneapolis as a new immigrant to the United States. He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says, "Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country, and giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care and free education!"

But the passer-by says, "You are mistaken, I am Mexican."

The man goes on and encounters another passer-by. "Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America!"

The person says, "I no American, I Vietnamese."

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says, "Thank you for the wonderful America!"

That person puts up his hand and says, "I am from the Middle East, I am not an American!"

He finally sees a nice lady and asks suspiciously, "Are you an American?"

She says, "No, I am from Russia!"

So he is puzzled, and asks her, "Where are all the Americans?"

The Russian lady looks at her watch, shrugs, and says "Probably at work".
So, I sent him a short little note:
You might consider looking up xenophobia in the dictionary ...
This morning's e-mail produced the following:
It's a joke Joe. I don't hate strangers or foreigners. It says a lot about some of the shortcomings in our system. I am all for helping people in need, but those that can help themselves need to pull their own oar. It seems......forget it.
To which I replied:
What am I to think when so much of what you write to me involves a negative view of "ferriners"?
I honestly don't think he gets it. I guess some of his best friends are "ferriners"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Yet another run up to yet another war?

I think among the more frightening sequences of events recently has been the saber rattling at Iran. The accusations sound awfully familiar and they're being made by the same folks who brought you a war in Afghanistan that's not going well and a war in Iraq that is a total disaster.

All the so-called incriminating evidence against Iran sounds a lot like all the incriminating evidence against Iraq in 2002 and 2003 during the buildup to the invasion that has since gone very wrong.

Eason Jordan is calling for "unidentified sources" to identify themselves. I agree. I think the battle cry should be "ACCOUNTABILITY".

Edit: Here's a late addition to the story about weapons supplied to insurgents by someone down the street and around the corner ...

On Never Finding Home

I moved around a lot during the course of my life; from Syracuse to Mt Carroll, IL., from Chicago to San Francisco and on and on. I’ve touched base for a couple of years with Grand Rapids, MI and Parsippany, NJ. I’ve lived in Syracuse a number of times. The point is that I have moved so much and so often that I’ve lost my sense of “home”. For years I’ve had a longing to “go home” but now I see that it’s not possible. I have no home and I never will. Home is a place with a history and my history is spread out all over the place.

I’ve noticed an interesting thing about the process. People who move a lot envy those who’ve had stable lives. For example, I have a certain envy of a cousin of mine. He went away to school and came back to the Central New York area with a wife. They settled into Skaneatles, bought a nice house not far from the lake, remodeled the hell out of it and have lived there for the last 20 or 30 years. For a long time I thought that meant something. Then I realized that people who choose that direction in life also have a certain level of envy of those people who are always on the move.

I guess the moral of the story is that things are as they are. You live the life you live and you will always take pride in some things and regret other things. Mostly you regret the things you didn't do, when you come right down to it.

You cannot travel two paths at the same time. You do the best you can, and that’s OK. Though it’s not fate particularly – that is, your life is not written anywhere – yet somehow, the fact of the matter is, you have very little choice when confronted by events. Fate without a destiny – I think that’s possible - with "fate" meaning that you are controlled and directed by events while "destiny" implies a fixed end point. I wonder if that’s not the way things really are. We are directed by our past but there is no specific destiny involved. The events in which we must decide our direction are pretty random but our past limits our responses. We are who we are.

I used to think I was a rational human being, making decisions in a deliberative manner. The older I've become the more I came to realize the important decisions in my life have been made on the basis of emotion with reason entering the equation only after the fact ... as a means of rationalizing decisions already made by other means.

In any case, I live in a house that was built some 10 years ago. The interior is painted with someone else’s color scheme, but it’s a good one. I can’t see how to change it in a way that would improve it. I only know that I’m conscious of the fact that someone else created it. I’d hoped to cure that somewhere along the way by building a house from the ground up – designing it – laying out the spaces. To some degree I thought I was going to accomplish that with the remodel of the house on Shiloh Street but that was a plan that went awry. I’m not even sure that would have over come the feeling of not having a place. I think being somewhere for a lifetime is the only cure for knowing home.

Ultimately I will never “come home”. I will never “be home”. I will never “know” home. There is no place for me. I identify with Mark Twain’s phrase “wandering alien”.

So, here I sit in a suburban house that I never imagined would be part of my life. I’ve always riled against homes that are ten feet apart, preferring instead the idea of open spaces and not being able to see my neighbors. It’s a California Style, tract house, similar to all the other houses in this neighborhood – another thing that I’ve found a negative throughout my life – preferring instead the idea of designing a place for myself. The color scheme is someone else’s but it’s a good one; very livable. At least the furnishings are ours.

We will probably never move again – except perhaps one more time – after one or the other of us pass away and this house becomes too much for one left behind. This is it. This is home. This is as "home" as its going to get.

O'Reilly Watch

I'm not a big Bill O'Reilly fan. As a matter of fact, I think he represents one of the major problems with media today. That's why I found this little piece taking Keith Olbermann to task for comparing O'Reilly to the former Senator Joe McCarthy very amusing.