Monthly Archives: August 2016

ELEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY . . .

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Eleven years ago today, Monday August 29, 2005, Roy Wilfred “Chic” Johnston checked out, bit the dust, bought the farm, crossed over, passed away, departed, flatlined, kicked the bucket, left the building, went the way of all flesh, etc.  In other words, he died. (Why are there so many euphemisms for death?)

So, what is Ol’ Roy doing today?  Celebrating his death day the way we celebrate birthdays?

He did not go gentle into that good night.  His last months consisted of violence, drooling, diapers, and more violence.  Why couldn’t he have died like Mom?  Her death, several years before Dad’s, was sudden and shocked us.  But Dad?  No shock.  My brother, sisters and I breathed relief when he died.  

It sounds terrible that we wanted Dad to die.  We felt that death was better than seeing Dad tied to a bed to prevent him from assaulting people.  Death was better that seeing Dad drooling and screaming.  Death was better than having to help hold Dad down so the nurses could change his diaper.

How fitting that Dad died the same day as Hurricane Katrina which, like him, did not go gentle into that good night.

IN THE PLACE THAT KEEPS IDEAS

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I am not sure what I want to pick up as I wander in the place that keeps ideas.  This place always has tons and tons of ideas and often it is hard to choose.  Of course I want to make a choice where the writing flows from the chosen idea.

Which idea will make the writing easy?  A childhood memory?  An adult memory?  A political opinion?  A spiritual opinion.  Nothing is flowing so far as I look at these ideas.  Well, it’s not that nothing is flowing.  It’s just that I haven’t the online time today to explore these ideas and make the writing flow.

Oh well, at least I wrote something.

DANCE, FINGERS, DANCE!

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Dance, fingers, dance!

Dance on this keyboard creating words that inspire.

Dance on this keyboard giving words that fire

the creative desire

of those who admire

fantasy, ideas and fun.

Dance, fingers, dance!

THE STORY OF A STORY

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Once upon a time there was a story that wanted someone to tell it.  Being told was the story’s reason for existing.  If no one would tell it, then what was the point of being a story?

“How can I get myself told?” thought the story.  “I know, I’ll check for a course on how a story gets itself told.”

The story checked all the university and college’s catalogs for a course on what a story needs to do to get told.  It saw lots of courses for people on how to write stories, but no courses for stories on how to get themselves told.

Soon the story became depressed.  It wanted to see a therapist, but therapists only treat depressed people and not depressed stories.

And so the story moped and moped, but still it hoped.

“I hope that one day someone will discover me,” thought the story.  “I hope that one day someone tell me to the world!  But I won’t let not being told stop me from being happy.”

With those thoughts, the story saved itself and stopped moping.  It existed happily ever after.

I WANT TO KNOW WHY

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In my quest to know everything, and to know it now, I want to know why two fraction-calculating methods work.  I understand how adding and subtracting work with fractions, but multiplying and dividing fractions puzzles me.

When multiplying a fraction, I want to understand why cancellation works.  I understand about reducing a fraction to its simplest form.   For example 6/8 = 3/4.  You reduce the numerator and the denominator of the same fraction.  But when you multiply fractions, you reduce the numerator of one fraction and the denominator of a different fraction using a common factor.  Why does this work?  I could not find any understandable answers online.

When dividing a fraction, you turn the divisor upside down and then multiply it times the dividend.  (You can cancel out the numerator of one fraction and the denominator of the other.)  Uh?  To divide fractions you invert one fraction and multiply them?  Who thought that up?   Why does it work?  Imagine if you could solve all your problems that way.  “Yeah, just turn one part upside down and multiply by the other.  That should solve it.”

The reasons for why these methods work is likely simple and obvious.  That is why I don’t see them.  Once I find out the reasons, I am going to scream, “Eureka!  Eureka!”  Then I will turn one eureka upside down and multiply it by the other.  Don’t ask me why.

IRVING SPEAKS

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Would my life be any better if I could change the past?  Irving, my cross-eyed amoeba spirit guide, said, “No.”

“It is not the past, present or any outside circumstances that are your problems,” said Irving.  “It’s simple.  You’re not happy because you don’t love yourself enough.  If you loved yourself more, then any outside circumstances, the things you perceive as problems, would not matter.”

“That sounds great in theory, Irving,” I said, “but in practice a billion dollars in the bank would cheer me up.”

“Would it?”

“Yes it would.”

“A billion dollars in the bank would make you happy?”

“Well, deep down I know it would not, but I don’t live deep down.  I live on the surface.  And this world is concerned only with the surface.”

“How long will you be happy denying what is below the surface?”

“I don’t know.  Enough, Irving.  This conversation is getting too deep, and it’s not helping my denial.”

A STANDARD FOR LOVE

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My brother and I are just over a year apart in age.  We shared a bedroom when growing up.  (We also shared the same parents.)

Sometimes we would stay awake, when we were supposedly going to sleep, and talk about the girls and women we loved.  The girls were classmates around our ages (7 and 8) and the women were adult neighbors and teachers.

We had a standard, in the form of a question, that determined just how much we were in love with the person we were talking about.  I don’t know which one of us came up with this standard/question, but we used it on each other.  After one of us finished talking about the love of our life, the other would ask this question.  “Yes” meant that it was a serious, everlasting love.  “No” meant it was only a passing fancy.

One time I went on about Miss Lotsberg, my Grade 3 teacher.  Oh how I loved Miss Lotsberg!  She was pretty and pretty and oh so pretty!  I knew that there was a chance for me because it was Miss Lotsberg.  She was still single.

My brother waited until I finished and then he asked, “Would you eat Miss Lotsberg’s poop?”

“Yes!” I said without hesitation.  “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”

There would have been doubt about the depth of my love if I had hesitated.  And it would not have been a serious love at all if I had answered, “No.”

I don’t know when my brother and I outgrew the poop question as a standard for love.  One day something, or someone, flushed it from our lives never to be asked again.

 

 

THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

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As with Rip Van Winkle, I had seen movies and cartoons of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  Recently I read it.  Once again, the dictionary and Internet helped me understand some words and references.

The Headless Horseman was a Hessian who had his head shot off by a cannonball.  A Hessian was a German soldier hired by the British to help to suppress the American revolutionaries.  Apparently the British could not recruit enough of their own soldiers to send to the uprising in America.  This I learned after looking up the word Hessian mentioned in the story.

I knew, from paying attention in history class, that because of their hatred for the British, the French supplied weapons to the American revolutionaries.

Germans assisting the British to fight the Americans, and the French assisting the Americans to fight the British.  Proxy wars have always been around.

What has not always been around is the current attitude towards corporal punishment.

Washington Irving writes that Ichabod Crane was not a cruel person who enjoyed beating his students.  Crane was fair and would discipline students when necessary.

It you were reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to children today, then you would have to explain, “At one time it was okay for a teacher to beat a student with a stick.”

Reading the passage about Ichabod Crane disciplining his students made me think about how my parents used to spank me.  I don’t think their spankings affected me, but occasionally I wish my parents were still alive so I could kill them.

I enjoyed reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

A CHILDREN’S STORY?

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As a kid, I had seen movies and cartoons of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, but only recently read the story.   The dictionary and Internet helped me to understand some of the words and references.   The story is almost 200 years old.

Poor Ol’ Rip, he had a nagging wife.  Washington Irving referred to her as a termagant. (That’s one of the words I had to look up.)  Her constant nagging is what caused Rip to go to the mountains to get away from her.  When he returned, after twenty years, he was sad to learn about some of the changes and that his friends had died.  He was not sad when he learned that his wife was dead.  (She died after she burst a blood vessel while yelling at a peddler.)

Washington Irving ends the story with  “. . . and it is a common wish of all henpecked husbands in the neighborhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands, that they might have a quieting draft out of Rip Van Winkle’s flagon.”   In other words, drink the same drink that Rip drank that put him to sleep for 20 years causing him to escape from his nagging wife.

Did Washington Irving have children in mind when he wrote this story?

SOME GOD QUESTIONS FROM MY YOUTH

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I have had these questions about God since my youth.  I use “he” for God for the sake of simplicity.  If there is a God, then God is beyond gender, human understanding and any descriptions in any holy book.

If God is everywhere, then where can he go where he is not?  How can he go anywhere when he is everywhere?  They say that Jesus is coming back.  From where?  Where did he go?

Why would a God who loves unconditionally create Hell?   How can God not be in Hell since he is everywhere?

If God is supreme, all-powerful and invincible, then how can he lose battles to Satan?

If God is supreme, all-powerful and invincible, then how can humans do anything that affects him?

If God is, then how can there be anything else?