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A Place to Put My Stuff

  • Posted on August 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm

There is a point to be made about the “stuff” George Carlin rants about.  I know I have a lot of stuff.  Some of it I don’t pay much attention to but it still sits there, with me unable to throw it out or give it away.  After all, I might need that stuff some day.

When I was in high school my French teacher would get so mad at us when we said we had to get our “stuff”.  She always said, “You stuff a turkey!”  She insisted that stuff was action, doing something and that it definitely wasn’t a noun as in the things we always talk about when we mention “our stuff.”  The class always laughed and I guess most of us never really learned that lesson because I’m sure we all can relate to the “stuff” that George talks about.

Recently, I came across a postcard that I had sent to my brother, Bob, when I was very young and on a trip out west.  I found this postcard after my father passed away.  I’m sure Mom kept it with her “stuff”.  Now it’s once again “my stuff”.  After all it is a part of my history and it even has a Kennedy stamp on it!  How cool is that?

I wonder why so many of us keep and collect so much stuff.  I am as guilty as the next person and maybe more so.  My biggest collection is probably artwork.  I don’t have enough walls to put all the art up that I have bought, traded for and made.  Yet, I keep finding things and making things that adds to my stuff.  George says the answer for most of us is buying a bigger house.  I live alone so I doubt I’ll go for a house much bigger than the one I already own.  Some people suggest rotating the artwork by the seasons.  However, art isn’t the only stuff I have.  Like most people I have a lot of stuff hanging around from clothing, dishes and even furniture pieces.  I cannot think of parting with my stuff, so I am kept in a constant mode of keeping the stuff somewhere by dusting around it and moving it from one place to the other.  I box it up only to discover it years later and wonder once again about it.

I’ve watched the show “Clean House” and I have discovered that a lot of people have a bigger problem with their stuff than I have, so it always make me feel like my stuff is okay!  Since I live alone no one else has to deal with my stuff on a regular basis.  However, like George, if you are looking for space for your stuff on the dresser in my guest room, you will discover my stuff is already there.  I have plenty of little tchotchkes that most people would say, “What are you hanging on to that for?”

As school starts I try to organize my stuff.  It means going through lots of stuff and keeping most of it but giving some to the Goodwill store and putting some in the garbage.  I have found that I have more stuff at school.  As an art teacher it is easy to collect a lot of things because all that stuff might be useful in an art project.  So as I weed through my stuff and organize my life for the new school year I wish you well with all your stuff.

I’d like to just add that this poor woman couldn’t even be found in all of her stuff when she died.  So find some way to live with your stuff without getting lost in it.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hk3EHn9n_UVFd2eEMcvmTEJVgNuAD9HRUOQO2

The Holy War of Oil

  • Posted on August 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm

My brother told me we are in a “Holy War”.  He was quite serious and took great offense to my position about the Muslim Mosque/cultural center controversy in New York City.  Personally I never thought any war could really be considered “holy”.  You know, “My God is better than your God!” stuff.  For me it’s always come down to the God of “OIL”, who has it and who wants it.  It really could be any mineral or something of value that everyone wants for that matter but in the Middle East is a vast amount of oil.

During the first gulf war Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait and it was also about oil.  Saddam claimed Kuwait was drilling at an angle into Iraq for oil.  Saddam decided to put a stop to that and we decided to stop Saddam.

I was surprised to discover this piece online:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/us-military-weapons-inscribed-secret-jesus-bible-codes/story?id=9575794

A supplier for military rifle sights puts biblical coding on the guns sights.  Here is one of the citations:

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

This is also from the article:

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious “Crusade” in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

To me it is such an oxymoron to consider war to be part of any religious beliefs as most religions teach us to “love one another”.  However, we know that through out history religion has started many wars!  So I ask myself, “Is my brother right?”  Are we secretly involved in a “Holy War” for the religious right?  As a people we believe in the freedom of religion.  You can even be an “Atheist” if you choose.  You don’t have to be Christian; and you don’t have to be Christian to fight for the military as well.  So why must so many people think we are fighting a “Holy War” and how did this get started?

This weekend there is a Glenn Beck rally in Washington D.C. on the Mall.  It’s called the “Restoring Honor Rally” and I am watching it on C-Span as I finish this piece on “Holy War”.  The rally is huge, filled with a number of people that appear to be pretty white and by the make up of the speakers, “Christians”. Sarah Palin was asked to speak as a mother of a soldier, not a politician.  She introduced three war heroes, two from the recent wars and one from Vietnam.

Glenn Beck spoke and kept referring back to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I found this rather appalling.  Glenn’s rally seemed to me to be more about a “Holy War” and pushing “Christianity” on the world than anything Dr. King ever spoke about.  However, he appeared to have the backing of all the usage of the “King” words and philosophy as Kings’ Niece, Alveda King, was a part of the rally.  She is an anti- abortion activist that had two abortions in her youth that she now regrets.  She acts as a voice for the “Silent No More Awareness Campaign.” Glenn Beck stealing the words of Martin Luther King Jr. is frightening to me.  Just this last week Glenn made a very anti-Catholic statement about social justice.  I talk on here about being raised Catholic with the ideals of social justice often.  Glenn Beck wants people to leave any church that speaks about social or economic justice, saying they were code words for Communism and Nazism.

For me Glenn Beck follows a narrow form of Christianity that probably does indeed believe we are in a “Holy War”.

Glenn talked about the origination of the “Purple Heart” and decided to take a cue from it and give out three special medals based on faith, hope and charity.  “Faith” went to a black minister who talked about sitting next to Martin Luther King Jr.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember his name.  “Hope” went to Albert Pujos who came from the Dominican Republic, scored a 100% on his citizenship test and has a foundation organized for “Down’s syndrome” and finally “Charity” went to John Huntman, Sr. from Salt Lake City, Utah.  He is a rich philanthropist that wrote “Winners Never Cheat: Everyday Values We Learned as Children (But May Have Forgotten)” in 2005.  He is worth about 2 billion and is dedicated to giving away the majority of it.  He was not there to receive the award as he was at the marriage of his granddaughter.

They began this  rally talking about the Mayflower and Native Americans, Indians and it was all about basically saying that America was founded on religion, Christianity.  I feel the underlying implication of this entire rally is that President Obama and maybe the Democrats have some how taken away our “Honor”.  They don’t mention his name but you know it’s there.  .  The rally is about heroes and God, fighting wars and religion.  I dare say it might be about a “Holy War” after all.

After watching this rally I know my brother isn’t alone with his thinking.  For me it’s such a waste of human life and resources in these never ending wars that we seem to be involved in.  Who would have thought that students that I taught in middle school classes many years ago are now preparing to go off to fight these same stupid wars?  We seem to be embattled in endless war.

While our cities, economy, and way of life are being destroyed at home, we continue to battle on in these two wars overseas.  Bush said, “We fight them overseas so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Yes, I know we have had a draw down of sorts recently in Iraq but many more soldiers have just been shifted over to Afghanistan.  At this time it appears that many oil companies are hopeful for their profits in the years to come in Iraq.  Imagine that!

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704125604575449001388136336.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Isn’t it comforting to know that this is the end result of our efforts in Iraq?

I cannot think of a good reason for constant war let alone a “Holy War”.  My favorite song in my youth was the Universal Soldier by Buffy Ste. Marie.  It may have been written in my youth but it is as important of a statement today as it was then.  I used to sing this song all the time.  Here Buffy tells how she wrote the song and then sings it.  Listen to it and you will know that we are the product of war and we continue to be the pawn of war.  It doesn’t matter what religion you are as you know you aren’t supposed to kill, but you will kill.  You will kill for whatever your government tells you is worth killing for!  And if you think this will put an end to war, think again!

Finally here is “Holy War” by Thin Lizzy.

Below are the words to Holy War:

If you will adore me
Bow before me and praise my name
If you place no God before me
Then all I have is yours to claim

And if God is in the heavens
Why did God let children die
If you don’t ask these questions
There is no reasons why

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

All the visions shown before you
All the kingdoms and the thrones
All are yours if you bow before me and adore me
All this you can own

There are those that will go to heaven
There are those that will never win
No one knows what will happen
There are those that turn to sin

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

(solo)

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

We are chosen

The devil is in hell with the demons
This is the holy war

They lead us to our temptation
Lead us, take our souls
There is no evil in salvation
There is evil in us all

Just as Satan tempted Jesus
And Jesus slips and falls
He is a station on the cross now
He is dying to save us all

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

We are chosen
We are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way
This is the law

If God is in heaven, won’t you save me now
Oh lord forgive them for what they’ve done
Lost children of Babylon
Oh Allah oh no oh no (? )

This is the holy war

Tide Puts the Stain in Dysfunctional Parenting

  • Posted on August 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Okay, I’m ready to go off on a common commercial seen today for Tide.  First of all I think Tide markets their product in a way that they think is acceptable to the viewer.  This ad for me proclaims much of what is wrong with our society.

Mom is a “party” girl.  I’m left to believe that she is into the night life and is some how keeping this from her family.  We don’t see a dad, so maybe she is single.  Her daughter is wondering where her green shirt is as she can’t seem to find it in her closet.  Mom knows where it is but chooses to lie to her daughter.  It is so bothersome to me that this “mother” is the “model” for her young daughter that I can’t believe that this may be where our society is at right now.  Many people seem to lament about what may have gone wrong in our society from everything like our manners, education, children growing up to soon and inappropriate behavior by both the young and the old.  It seems like it can be summed up in this commercial.  Mom is too busy living her own “party” life to be a good example for her daughter.  Dad seems to be out of the picture and mom has chosen to be a liar.

If Tide is correct and this is a snapshot into our society then it isn’t hard to understand what’s wrong with this picture.  Mom acts like the teenage daughter that is trying to get away with something from her parents.  The daughter is left acting clueless to mom but it appears that she is on her own and learns quickly that she better take care of herself because mom isn’t there for her.  We never see mom go up and help her look for it.  We only witness mom calmly lying just like a sneaky teenager that is telling you they didn’t do what you know they did!  If this commercial truly imitates real life, than there are some massive problems with parenting today.

I am a single parent.  My son is an adult now.  I cannot imagine acting anything like this woman when my son was growing up.  She has sent her daughter some very real messages.  If her daughter figures it out, she will probably end up being a liar just like dear old mom!

Worker’s Hell

  • Posted on August 26, 2010 at 11:46 am

A handout picture provided by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera showing a handwritten note with the message "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter", written by the miners trapped deep underground for 17 days, in Copiapo, Chile, 22 August 2010. EPA/JOSÉ MANUEL DE LA MAZA/CHILEAN PRESIDENCY/HO

A Mining Family

Okay, if you have been here before you now understand the title of my blog, “What’s on Katie’s Mind?”  My brain is always going.  I’m always thinking about things that relate to politics, art and education and of course I have my own unique perspective.  If I’m out shopping I might see some obscure thing that may give me an idea for an art project for my students.  My brain tends to hop around a lot in thought from one thing to the other.  Maybe this is the way everyone processes information.  I don’t really know.  I just know that since my son, Josh, gave me this blog, I have found it really rewarding to write about some of the many ideas and thoughts that come to me on a daily basis.  Much thanks to my wonderful son, Josh.  Today I’m thinking about several things again, as always.  It’s hard to pick just one topic to write about.  These are the thoughts I’m having:

Worker’s Hell:

The risk is always at the bottom and the payoff is always at the top.

Education:

Is there a correlation with the drop in worker pay with the falling education scores?

19th Amendment:

Even though we celebrate ninety years, there are still inequities in pay and that ever illusive ERA has never been ratified.

Just heard on TV:

British spy murdered…Mystery…found in sports bag…..may have taken important work home.   Computer stolen…sex games…porn…quiet person….cyclist….  This might be interesting to find out more about the spying, that is!

I’d like to focus a little bit on that “Worker’s Hell”.

We have all heard about the Chilean miners.  I know everyone is praying for their safe return to their families.  We are being told that this reunion could take months so obviously these poor guys are in serious “Worker’s Hell”.  It is disturbing how many major catastrophes there have been for workers in mines and oil rigs this past year or so.  Maybe there are more or maybe we are hearing more about it.  One thing stands out for me and that is all of the mortal risk for these corporations that run these businesses is at the bottom of the pay grade.  It is the worker bees that suffer the personal losses of life, limbs and economic hardship.  The CEO at the top collects the pay off.  It would be extremely rare to hear about a CEO dying on the job unless he/she had a heart attack or die in a plane or automobile crash.  They just don’t die doing hard labor.

What seems to be over looked in this whole mine disaster is the safety of the mine to begin with.  We are so busy just worrying about the miners that not much noteworthy effort from news sources has been placed on this issue.  There was an accident in 2007 at this mine that killed two peoples.  There should have been much effort at that time to make this mine safer.   http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0824/Chile-mine-collapse-sounds-alarm-on-safety-standards

This is the most important excerpt from this article:

Chile has a free-market economy where the first principle is to maximize profit without any other consideration. We need to take other things into consideration, including worker security,” Augustin Latorre, spokesman for the Mining Federation, an association of 22 unions at private mines, said in a telephone interview. “The state should offer, in particular in mines, the necessary security measures and inspections. We aren’t demanding that mines be closed, but that they be secure.”

This sounds so familiar.  We could talk about the BP oil spill or the recent coal mine disasters but the truth is corners have always been cut to maximize profits.

I don’t want to speculate about these miners and the real hardships they are facing over the next several months with their confinement.  Mika, on Morning Joe, actually laughed this morning in reference to the fact that these guys are being told to “stay slim”.  If you don’t know Mika Brezinski, she is the spoiled, entitled brat of Zbigniew Brezinski who has been on a “fat kick” for years.  She likes to tell people to go on diets.  I couldn’t believe anyone could be so cold to find humor in any of this.  However, she will never be a “worker bee” that faces eminent peril.  She is too far up the food chain!  It is a nightmare beyond imagination to wonder how the scientists are going to pull these guys up through some endless tunnel to safety.  I cannot even imagine the terror of going up a short length of a dark hole let alone one that is 2300 feet underground.  I cannot and do not want to think about being entombed in a dark hole underground anxiously wondering about my rescue.  My heart goes out to all these people and their families.

My heart always goes out to the “worker bees”.  These are the people that move a country.  They put food on the table.  They mine the minerals that we use in everything from energy production to computers and jewelry.  These are the workers that use manufacturing equipment that can literally crush them.  These are the workers that can have limbs removed because someone cut a corner and either bought old, unsafe equipment or didn’t teach them safety standards.

No one should laugh at any worker bee as they take all the risk and receive the least amount of benefit.  The CEO, the president, the person at the top gets the pay off.  They expend the least amount of risk and receive the greatest benefits.

It’s time that we reward those worker bees.  The people that are at the bottom of this proverbial food chain that have jobs that are not safe should be protected and rewarded with greater pay for the obvious risks they take to put food on the table for their families.  Often times these people know no other way.  Dad worked in the mine.  Grandpa worked in the mine and there is no other choice for them.  So, they work in a mine.  Many probably would prefer other work.  I know you’re thinking someone has to do this work.  That may be true but the jobs can be made safer and more lucrative for the workers.  It shouldn’t be just about maximizing profits.  There has to be some financial reward for workers that work in very unsafe jobs.

We may have to pay a bit more for the products or the CEO and the administrators and owners of the company may have to receive a little less “bonus” money but it needs to be done.  This isn’t a radical thought even though I know someone will say and think I’m a socialist.  I may be.  I don’t know.  That’s just a label.  I believe in social justice as I was taught with my Catholic upbringing.  It’s time that the worker bees banded together and demanded social justice for all.

The Real John Boehner

  • Posted on August 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

So my brother was offended by a piece I wrote a few days ago and he said I should look up the word “diatribe”.  To humor him I did and decided I would write a real “diatribe”.  (As a noun:  A forceful bitter verbal attack against someone or something.)  Well, hello Representative John Boehner!  Welcome to my version of a diatribe about you!  If you don’t know who John Boehner is he is a representative from the 8th district in Ohio and he is the current House Minority Leader.  If the Republicans have their way in November he is expected to become Speaker of the House.

Now to the juicy stuff!  This is something “snarky” (Oh there’s that word again.) that Lynn Samuels said about him on Sirius left radio the other day.  I thought it was hilarious.  She was talking about Area 51 and Roswell.  Someone phoned into her show and they were saying how some people think there are aliens living among us.  She referred to Rep. John Boehner and his eerily non human form and skin color.  For all of you that haven’t noticed he has the strangest tan around, sometimes he appears quite orange on the talk show circuit.  He’s the current threat to the Democrats.  You know he’s a threat when the next talk show I’m listening to is “Big Eddy” and he’s talking about John as well.  “Big Eddy” is my loving term for Ed Schultz.  Big Eddy played a commercial on his program against Boehner that was pretty funny.  Big Eddy said he was thinking of playing it every day.  This was on the radio so I thought I’d find that commercial on You Tube to see what it was like.

The commercial is put up on You Tube by the Blue America Pac.  It is “priceless”!  When I was listening to Big Eddy he went on to talk about golfing and Boehner’s huge amount of time devoted to it.  Big Eddy loves golf himself so I know much of what he was saying is probably true.  He said for a guy to play golf a hundred or so times a year means he must be thinking about it all the time.  He’s talking about it with his friends and frankly he isn’t doing the work of the American people.  I frankly can’t see how Boehner’s constituents continue to vote for him.  Here is another commercial by the National Sierra Club.

If you look at his votes for 2010 you can see why many people have labeled the Republican Party the party of “No” as most his votes are “NO”.  However, I did notice that he voted “Yes” for a “Congressional Cost of Living Pay Increase” in April of this year.  I wish I could vote myself a cost of living pay increase.  Don’t you?  By the way, the Ohio unemployed might like to know that he voted against extending unemployment benefits in the same year he voted to increase his own pay.  In the same month he voted for his pay raise he had a “NV” which means not voting for extending unemployment benefits.  He made sure he was there to vote for his own pay but either skipped voting or wasn’t even present to vote for his unemployed constituents!  Some of us would call that a “Dick Move”!  Wow, if you look closer, you will notice he used to vote “Yes” a lot until the Democrats came into power.  So, it is obvious that he is an obstructionist although he does vote for defense spending under the Democrats and Republicans.  There doesn’t seem to be a defense bill he doesn’t like.  Even though we all know there is a lot of waste in defense spending.   Here is Rumsfeld once again looking for that defense money!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rRqeJcuK-A&feature=player_embedded

John also has gone all out in his attempts to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70.  He’s wealthy what does he care?  He can golf a hundred times a year as though he is already “retired”!  While he’s off golfing the work of the American people isn’t getting done!  Raising the retirement age to 70 basically means that you will get less for Social Security because most people aren’t going to be teaching school, policing our towns, or doing any of their jobs until they’re 70.  They will be forced out of their jobs before that and eventually apply for Social Security early and take a big cut.  It’s not hard to see what this is really all about.  John Boehner, like many politicians, doesn’t have to worry about money.  He is a millionaire.  Strangely enough if you look at this chart he is pretty much “average” among house members in income.  That should be telling us something about all of these politicians not just this man.  http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/CIDsummary.php?CID=N00003675&year=2008

I share John’s Catholicism but we are worlds apart in our politics.  John, as a Catholic, could never speak for me but it does explain his abortion issue voting.  It doesn’t necessarily explain his defense record as Catholics are taught social justice and solving things in a manner like Jesus which involves making peace.

Most of his voting record is tied to business, corporations and special interests.  He is continually pushing to extend the tax cuts while calling for cutting the deficit.  His thinking isn’t truly logical as it is a proven fact that the tax cuts for the wealthy haven’t helped our country.  If they had helped, we probably wouldn’t be in the shape we are in right now.  Those tax cuts came in with Bush and are earmarked to go out at the end of this year.  Many might want to ask themselves that age old question.  Are you better off today than you were in 2000?  Some people may be better off.  Many are obviously not as they fight foreclosures on their homes and battle to keep their jobs.  The extension of these tax cuts will probably only lead to a higher deficit unless we cut something else.

Boehner never saw a defense bill he didn’t like, so I expect he would cut any entitlement program he can get his hands on.  This can include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and even things like unemployment benefits.  It can also include things like school lunches, aid to public schools, financial aid to college students but trust me it won’t include tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.  If John gets to be Speaker of the House while most of us will be balancing our budgets deciding what to do in the coming year, John will be busy dismantling health care reform, extending the Bush tax cuts and cutting programs for the least among us.

Ohio voters from Boehner’s district need to think long and hard about voting for this man that takes care of himself by voting for increased pay to himself as well as golfing more than any man I know.  In Sturgis there are plenty of golfers.  I don’t know anyone that has the time to get out and golf like John unless they are super wealthy or are retired and live on a golf course!

If you consider yourself to be middle class and you want someone to vote for your best interests check out this website.   http://www.themiddleclass.org/legislator/john-boehner-31?gclid=COub1_ud1aMCFUcz5wodQQHXuQ

He has an 8% rating based on his votes from 2009.  Now all of us know that 8% is failing.  If he is failing the middle class, he’s probably failing you and me or at least his constituents in Ohio!  It’s time for people to stop listening to the rhetoric this man puts out on the TV news talk show circuit and really look at the man.  He hasn’t lived up to the hype.  It’s time to give a Democrat a chance to do something for Ohio.

Boehner recently called for the resignation of Obama’s economic team.  I have my own problems with Obama’s team as well.  However, it is disingenuous of Boehner to conclude that the current problem is generated by Obama’s team alone.  It was the Republicans that brought us to the brink of disaster but this disease has infected both parties.  No one has said it better than George Carlin (May he rest in peace.) in this clip from one of his stand up routines.  George has colorful language so if that is offensive to you take more offense to the politicians that are “sticking” it to you!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GseyaEibb_4

So, when you are thinking about voting, try voting out the money and start with Representative John Boehner.  If you aren’t convinced how to vote, just check out this post on politico.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29881.html

The politician/golfer is busy spending his PAC money on none other than GOLFING!

Just Say, “No!” to PetCo

  • Posted on August 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I went to PetCo today and I must say that store is way over rated.  Even though I love my kitty and my doggy I don’t think I’ll be spending much time at Petco.  I went in looking for a dog house.  They had one expensive ugly thing that looked like a plastic igloo.  I decided I’d go ahead and buy the one online that I had seen earlier.  I bought a toy for my dog which cost ten bucks and is already destroyed a half an hour after giving it to Brodie.  I found PetCo prices way out of touch with reality.  It’s the same Chinese junk anyone can buy at Wal-Mart or K-Mart but it’s more expensive at PetCo.

I must say they do have quite a selection of goods.  That is probably their saving grace.  I saw a variety of different rawhide treats in big buckets.  The price was $2.49 a pound or so I thought!  When I got to the check out I had a pound and it was ringing up at around ten bucks.  I was puzzled.  The clerk told me that it is $2.49 for a quarter of a pound.  Imagine my surprise!  I pointed to the sign and under the large lettering for $2.49 was very small lettering that said ¼ pound!  That’s a nice little trick PetCo but I left that treat for your clerk to put back.  I knew I was going to Sam’s Club and I can get a lot more treats for my money there.  I had looked at buying my puppy food at PetCo but the brand I wanted is cheaper at TSC which is right in Sturgis.  I decided I’d buy my pet food at TSC when I really need it.  I have plenty for the time being.

The only reason I am posting this is to announce that PetCo is one big box chain I’ll be passing on.  I love my animals but I can find better deals elsewhere.  I did end up buying some cat food basically for the same price I have paid at my local Kroger store.  Yes, you are probably thinking that it saves time to go to just one store.  However, I don’t usually go out just for pet supplies.  I am usually doing other shopping anyway.  I am not going to let PetCo become my pet peeve.  I’ll just avoid it in the future!

Living Off the Grid

  • Posted on August 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I cannot imagine being the last of your kind.  I came across this article today about a Brazilian man that is the last of his native tribe. His tribe has remained “un-contacted” by civilization.  People were first made aware of him about fifteen years ago.  Indians are “protected” so the government has set up a 31 square mile protective zone around this man.  There have been attempts to make peaceful contact with him that have lead to an arrow in the chest, so he is left alone.  His village was probably destroyed by land hungry settlers in 1996.

Today it’s hard to imagine this man’s life.  While the rest of us are tied to our jobs, homes and lifestyles this man is only tied to survival.  He doesn’t have anyone or any real possessions.  His contact with other humans has been negative for a variety of potential reasons.  We don’t really know what happened to his people.  Were they destroyed by the loggers that came in to clear the forest?  There is an issue of trust.

Today we all know kids that have no idea how to entertain themselves if they don’t have an Ipod, video game or TV.  Can you imagine just having nature in your life?  The only man made device you have might be your bow and arrows or other weapons or tools.  It’s hard for most of us to even imagine this is possible but some places in this world must still be fairly remote to access.

In the United States of America we have what has always been called a “melting pot” of cultures.  We have people that have chosen to move here from all over the world.  With them they bring their cultures but alas many of these cultures are lost when people try to become “Americanized”.  I know in my own family much of our Czechoslovakian culture has been lost except for some food recipes.  When my mother was young it was frowned upon to teach the old native language as people wanted and were expected to learn English.  When people spoke in a ‘foreign” language it was to their detriment.  We all know that certain groups of people were highly abused when they came to this country.  It wasn’t just Africans put into slavery that have been abused but also Catholics, Polish, Irish, so many ethnic groups, too many to really mention.  The point of what I am trying to get to is that as we assimilate into this “American” culture much of our past is lost.  Obviously, the most abused in our culture were the natives.  These people and much of their culture was destroyed by the continual movement to the west and the land grab that came with it.

With this man in Brazil who defies all attempts to be contacted and as far as we know “studied”, it is amazing that he endures just as people endured probably for centuries.  As cell towers and electric grids are built around him he defies all logic and remains in his ancestral past clinging to only what he has always known, nature and his own way of life.

I have commented here on my living alone and not feeling lonely but I have the ability to seek out people when I want to be around people.  I wonder how someone goes through days and nights without another living person around them.  Does this man have a pet?  My life revolves around my pets.  I wonder how he entertains himself.  Has he made up games?  Years ago I used to watch “Survivor” and always thought it was interesting but it was so much like playing house in terms of real survival.  As the years went on with that show the promoters realized they had to provide more food.  The early survivors came back pretty skinny.  This guy is a real survivor but not just physically but in spirit.  They say there are signs that he may believe in some kind of spiritual life.  Maybe that keeps him going.  Maybe he expects to meet his family again.

We all remember the saying “No man is an island.”  We have always been taught that we need each other and that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes – Meditation XVII, 1624:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I feel that this man in Brazil is living like an island but in many ways he is a part of each of our own lost ancestor’s lives.  This man who lives only for his own survival is not unlike the rest of us.  He is “us” in our most primal form.  His goal is survival.  Ours in many ways are the same.  He is a part of our past as much as we have lost our own lost cultures.  If he were ever captured he would just be an anthropological case study.  His life probably scares all of us that can’t imagine what we are going to do if we lose our jobs, our homes or some other thing that we need let alone our lifestyle.  How would we survive those losses?  It is obvious that the strong will survive.  They always have.  That bell will toll for him some day but it will be for all of us as no man is really an island.

Have You Taken Your Hate Pill Today?

  • Posted on August 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm

You have a choice to make: Hate and fear or more of the same. This is not an easy choice.

I’ll be the first one to tell you I have no love for the Democrats because they stole my primary vote on May 31st, 2008.  However, as much as I dislike the Democrats the Republicans are infinitely worse!  If you are thinking of voting those Republicans back in power really give some thought to what it would mean to the health of this country.  They are political obstructionist that won’t pass any legislation that might get this country moving again.  They deserve to be booted out of office, period!  If you are thinking about voting for a Republican just watch this video from the 2008 election.  It’s pretty snarky but pretty true.  Think about poor BP when you watch this as some Republicans felt so sorry for them.

When Ronald Reagan was President my mother used to say, “Have you taken your hate pill today?”  The Republicans were always good at breeding hatred.  They like stirring that proverbial pot of hatred and fear.  With the up coming November election I find it very interesting that we are discussing everything except what needs to be discussed, the economy.  This past week is a fine example of the smoke and mirror politics that continues to prevail in our country.  While most people are more concerned about the health of the economy, we are busy hearing talk about September 11th and whether a Muslim cultural center should be built a couple blocks from the World Trade Center site, whether President Obama is a Muslim and whether we should repeal the 14th amendment.  I, for one, am tired of the same old scare tactics that Republicans have always used to get people in line to vote for them in the next election.

The truth is both parties have problems but Republicans brought us to the brink of disaster and it is not time to reward them for that behavior.  It was Republican policies that lead us to this disastrous economy.  We have been told for years by Republicans that old tired theory of the “trickle down” economy.  We, as a country, have been rewarding the wealthy with tax breaks and special deals in the hope that one day all of it would trickle down to the little guy.  That hasn’t happened and it never will.  Republicans are good at changing the subject during an election cycle.  Currently, we should be talking about ways to move the economy and what are we doing?  Once again we are spreading hate and fear with the help of Republicans.  It’s popular now to hate Muslims.  After all they have that crazy religion and the women all look like nuns so it’s easy to pick on them.  We also hate those cute little brown babies the illegal Mexicans give birth to just so they can stay in this country.  You know the “anchor babies”.  I wonder how long those Repubs set around thinking that one up. President Obama must be a Muslim after all his skin is dark, his father was a Muslim and his name is so different.  What if the President really were a Muslim?  What happened to freedom of religion?  Many people could care less about religion but when it comes to politics it becomes an issue.

The Republicans breed hatred and fear.  They have hated gays for years and have done everything they could to obstruct gay rights issues during the political campaign seasons.  There are many gays that are practicing Republicans such as the “Log Cabin Republicans” but in my book they are all hypocrites that help to breed hatred and fear.  The abortion issue has been settled law since 1973.  It’s about a woman’s “choice” and yet this issue has been continually used by the Republicans to get votes.  They aren’t interested in really repealing the issue as it is settled law but they are interested in getting people riled up so they go out and vote Republican.

FDR famously said, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.”  Republicans want you to fear everything so you will vote for them to take care of you.  We are to fear our neighbors because they might be Muslims, illegal aliens, or heaven forbid “terrorists”!  We are supposed to watch each other like psychos on the “Big Brother” show but this big brother is the government of Republicans.  We are also to fear the government as it is bad.  The government doesn’t know how to do anything.  They fail at everything they do including education so naturally you don’t want the government to do anything.  This is the plan of the Republicans.  Fear the government but make sure you keep those tax cuts for the wealthy because if you don’t you will lose your job when they fire you.  Fear that dumb voters!  Hate brown colored people and crazy pro-choice women but most of all hate Democrats because they want to tax you and take your money away.  Republicans breed hatred and fear.  I’m a positive person.  I don’t hate and I refuse to fill my life up with fear.  I know the Democrats aren’t much better than the Republicans but at least they don’t breed hatred and fear.  I can live with that.

I just had to add this today to this post!  I guess I’m not the only one that thinks the Republicans are the party of hate!

Cheeseburger Festival in Caseville, Michigan

  • Posted on August 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

Every small town has some kind of festival designed to get people into town to promote the businesses.  Caseville, Michigan is no exception with their Cheeseburger Festival.  The festival runs ten days long and it’s all about cheeseburgers, music, street venders, and fun water sports.  I was visiting my sister and her family.  They decided to head up to the festival so we went.  However, we did not participate in any of the events.  We walked up and down the streets and saw many vendors with bright colored supplies.  It reminded me of a very small Shipshewana flea market.  There were plenty of food places frying cheeseburgers on grills and you could smell that greasy smell throughout the town.  We did go to the local Cheeseburger Museum which was not about cheeseburgers at all but similar to most small town museums with old things donated from the local people from tools, to war paraphernalia, an assortment of ceramic plates and even someone’s wedding dress.

Going to little festivals like this brings in all kinds of characters.  It’s more fun to see some of the people and the things they bring to the festival that I find more interesting.  I loved the tie dyed appearing Volkswagen bug.  If I was in college I’d love have a vehicle that looked like that!  It looks like something you would take to the beach with a couple of surf boards plopped on top.  While Caseville has a beautiful beach we didn’t go to the beach.   I could see Lake Huron as I peaked by the homes as we were leaving to go back to Marlette.  There were plenty of motorcycle riders and they seem to have their own rules for the road.  I photographed one bike with a helmet on it that said, “My other toy is a dick.”  I think it takes a “special” kind of person to wear something like that!  It certainly wouldn’t be anyone I happen to know.  Of course you could buy some “cheesy” looking t-shirts to celebrate the festival even though the festival over all is set up for fun with family.

We ended the afternoon by stopping by “Shaggy J’s” Eatery & Pub in Pigeon, Michigan.  My brother Pete treated us all to lunch.  The only one that liked their meal was me as I had the Parmesan salad.  It was pretty good.  However, the rest of the lunches were pretty questionable.  We all had problems with the onion curls that were more like onion salt mixed with thin, curly strips of batter and deep fat fried than anything remotely related to a real onion!  None of us liked it.  It looked like a large plate of calamari when they brought it out but its taste was fairly indescribable.  We tried the fried dill pickle which is essentially a dill pickle put in batter and fried.  It was an easy way to take five calories and turn them into one hundred and fifty.  It reminded me of when I lived in Oklahoma in the eighties when everything was deep fat fried from okra to zucchini.  The service was also confusing as the young woman tended to make her own substitutes for items such as sweet tea rather than discussing it with the client.

At the end of the day we all had fun and it was great seeing my sister Nancy, her family and my brother, Pete, who was down visiting all the way from Juneau, Alaska.  Every small town has festivals to get people to visit.  We all should participate and go to these events.  With the economy so deeply in the tank this is one “stimulus” spending that can be fun for all involved!

Miller Family Reunion

  • Posted on August 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Many pictures from the Miller family past can be seen here.

http://sites.google.com/site/millerfamilyunite/home

I am truly a “home body”.  I would prefer to be in my home better than any where else.  Even though I live alone it still is the one place in the world that I can just be me twenty four hours a day.  I like the feel of my bed, the antics of my crazy dog and cat, and the warm comfort of my “things” around me.  It’s a relief to be home after a long weekend away!

This past weekend I went to our “Miller” family reunion.  This is the family on my father’s side.  There were well over one hundred people at the reunion which was held in Dexter, Michigan at the Hudson Metro Park.  The weather was pretty good and we all had a pleasant time out under the trees.  Many of us waited until the last of the day to leave.  People came from all over the country to visit with family they hadn’t seen in years.  I was really surprised and impressed at my brothers as they made this reunion a priority.  I have ten brothers and nine of them made it to this reunion.  Many of my brothers live in Alaska but they worked vacation time around this event.  All of the Miller families were represented.  The only one missing from our family was my brother Jim who lives in Mexico.  I’m sure he would have come if he was able to find a way.  Much thanks goes to the Nye family which orchestrated this reunion.  Aunt Katie Nye is my father’s baby sister.  There are only three Miller girls left, Katie, Ester and Glady.  All of the other brothers and sisters from the Miller family have passed away including my dear father.  My father would have been proud of his boys and girls for making this reunion a priority.   Three of us were so tied to our dogs that we brought them with us but I must say all of the dogs were on their best behavior!

It was a potluck and there was plenty to eat all day long!  We played Euchre and had an auction to raise money for the next reunion which will be in two years.  We also celebrated my Aunt Esters ninetieth birthday. 

She was thrilled that so many came to this reunion.  I think she was truly tickled to see everyone.  Aunt Glady didn’t make it and I’m not sure why.  Aunt Katie made a baby blanket that was auctioned off and that was quite a memento as she is in her early eighties.

It’s always difficult to have long meaningful conversations when you’re trying to get around and see family that you haven’t seen in years when there are so many of them.  I didn’t get to really talk with everyone like I would have liked but I totally enjoyed the day.  I would have enjoyed even more time visiting.  I bought a rather large framed artwork that I will be taking to school.  It’s one wild and rather primitive looking cat.  I will be using it as a sample for a special project my students will work on.  It was so much fun bidding against my brother Toby.  He ended up with one and I ended up with the other.  I think his plan was to bid me up and I was supposed to get both of them.  I foiled that one when he had to pay for one of them.  He was flying so our cousin Jim agreed to take it back to New Mexico with him.  I had a pleasant time talking with Jim as he had visited the Frederick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and saw the Dale Chihuly exhibit.  I saw it Memorial Weekend so it was fun talking about the art.

There weren’t a lot of young people.  I think it’s hard to get them to this type of an event.  I know my son wasn’t too keen on giving up his weekend so he stayed home in Chicago.  I did have a nice talk with Linda Steigenga’s daughter, Kayla and her husband.  She’s a dog lover like me and brought her beautiful Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixed dog to the reunion.  She and her husband are both attending Ferris State University.  She reminded me so much of her mother just as Linda reminds me of her mother.  The cycle just continues.  We are all from our parents.  A part of them lives in each of us.  My cousin Carol is always the life of the party.  She came over and gave me a hug.  I told her she smelled good and she told me that was “sex”.  It ended up being “White Diamonds” but Carol made it possible for me to put her husband Joe on the spot.  I love Carol as she is hilarious and always ready for a good time.  I partnered with my brother Pete in the Euchre tournament.  It was probably a bad decision as both our cards were horrible.  We crashed and burned fast.  It didn’t really matter though as there were many other people to visit.

In our hearts I know that all of us were thankful for the opportunity to see each other and break bread together in the spirit of our parents.  Our heritage invites stories of the past but this group was working on stories for the future.  Many met and reminisced about the past and caught up on the day.  Many grew up close but scattered like the wind when their jobs took them far away.  We are all descendants of the Miller family with a rich heritage of large families, Catholicism and sharing.  We were a community in the homes we grew up in and we were a community on this day.  We came together and shared like one heart beat the experiences of our lives, good and bad, that made us who we are today.  I will treasure this day and my heritage.  I will embrace the memory of my kin and pray that all remain healthy until we meet again.

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