Upkeep

This week has been a busy and exhausting one on the home front. It was decided to paint the aluminum siding of our added on bedroom. This involved going to the paint store on Saturday and selecting a color, which was done after backing and forthing for some time and then purchasing painting equipment that we did not think we had at home. Of course, since we did not check our “tools” before we went shopping, we had several of the things we bought. Then, home to begin what was expected to be at most a 2 day job. It is now Thursday evening and we are now both sagging in our chairs after finishing after noontime. I suspect we are not the only people who do not do a thorough job analyzing the “getting ready” tasks; sanding, stirring, cutting some plants that were close to the house, etc.

Oh well, at least we weren’t concerned about the Prez threatening the rest of the world at the United Nations.

                                                                                ♥

 

 

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The Future

 Recent events, some over and some ongoing are changing the future of humankind. Two massive hurricanes were encouraged by melting Ice caps. The hurricanes received massive coverage. The first in southern Texas in an area from the coast through oil processing plants up through Houston brought in massive amounts of rain water which still has not completely run off or soaked in. (And allowed oil/gasoline prices to be raised.) There is no telling how many homes will have to be destroyed because of mold, but it appears to be rising daily.

The most recent is through the traditional route up the edge of Caribbean islands to Florida. In the process, it has pretty much destroyed living conditions on smaller islands and particularly in the Virgin Islands that we manage. As the storm turned and moved up Florida, it poured water and moved the ocean over land. It went up the coast to Charleston, SC flooding and destroying.

TV and news publications focus their attention on what will happen next. When I “steamed” up to Thule, Greenland in the early 1950’s I saw so much ice in the water and on the coast (we had to look up to see the top) that I gave no thought to it melting away. Fifty years later, on a cruise ship up the coast of Alaska, I saw what appeared to me to be similar amounts of ice. Now, our ice cover is obviously melting away and what next questions deal with that reality.

Those who don’t believe in change except as it returns us to good ole yesterday are the base of our present national administration. They don’t want any control over the use of energy and support the removal of any controls over energy production. They do not see oil and coal burning as having anything to do with causing the air pollution that is speeding up the addition of water to that currently in the oceans.

Up to this point our government has been a leader in addressing environmental issues. But now, by allowing vast corporations which exploit the environment to make their fortunes to function with little control over their actions we are complicit in environmental degradation.

I won’t be here to find out, but I look at the children across the street and wonder what they will be left to struggle with.

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Memories

Sitting here in the sunroom and watching the rain fall takes me back through some of the different weather I have lived through. When I was small in North Carolina I can remember only one snowfall and that was of short duration. There was not even enough for one snowball.

When we moved to the end of the streetcar tracks at Glen Echo, Maryland, just a couple of a miles or so from the D C line, my father and I had a winter of snow. He purchased a sled and we spent many an evening sliding down a long hill above MacArthur Boulevard. Shortly thereafter, when I moved into high school, we waited for the school bus in the small post office on the river side of both the streetcar tracks and MacArthur Boulevard. We had several big snows in those winters. There were several days when school was closed. When school reopened, It occurred to us boys that if we stayed in the post office the bus would go on without us and we could spend the day sledding.

Well, it worked once, though several girls took the streetcar, a long trip, to school. The next day, the driver, Mrs Best, sent a kid already on the bus down to tell us that if we weren’t on the bus immediately, she would bring her paddle (a large flat, wooden instrument kept by her seat) down and beat the daylights out of our fannies. There was no question in our minds that she would. That was our last free day. (It also put the onus on one of the senior girls, who could gin up different scripts, to write notes for all the boys before the bus got to school.)

One of our neighbors in Glen Echo, Roger Tory Peterson, was an ornithologist who had a long toboggan which he let us use. There was a golf course on the other side of MacArthur Blvd that had hills marching up from the river. We would drag that toboggan up the the last hill on the course, pile on and go down and up and down, finally across MacArthur Blvd and the street car tracks where we died somewhere on the circle. We did this until dark for as many days as we could manage.

The school bus took a road that cut through a different golf course. When we saw men with clubs, sometimes setting up to hit a ball, we (boys) lowered the windows and shouted out the window at them about how their posture was wrong, they were using the wrong club, etc. After months of this, the assistant principal got on the school bus one morning to tell us that he had been called about our behavior. No one said anything. He smiled and said the caller did say we did not use profanity which he was glad to hear. He then got off the bus. Winter came and for most of the rest of the year there was no one to shout at. But, we got the message and appreciated the way our principal handled the problem.

Snow and sledding and school bus rides could be a lot of fun

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What A Week

I am among millions who could not imagine that what appeared to be a relatively weak storm/hurricane could turn into a monster that would maul south Texas. The most obvious destruction was in the city of Houston, though the south coast for a 100 miles and into Louisiana was flooded. The scene even afforded the President an opportunity to fly in and talk about himself. It was the rain, 50 inches, and not the wind that caused most of the damage.

The problems here now involve money. No one has yet any idea of the cost of “rehousing” (restoring, rebuilding, moving) problems. That whole south coast area is low, and very accessible to the water thrown up by storms. Add to that the wind and the amount of physical damage done by strong storms is obviously enormous.

What will happen to the people who have little or no insurance on their houses. How will the home insurance companies manage the money outlay they have contracted for? What about the outlay on repairing public property: roads, buildings, equipment, water facilities? How will small businessmen cope with rebuilding and repair, particularly if their business areas do not rebound? When will all of the schools be able to reopen and where will the students be able to attend? How will home owners who had to work through repairing or rebuilding from the previous bad storm face going through the same process all over again?

As the ice caps continue to melt, the ocean will continue to rise. As oil pumping in the Gulf of Mexico continues, the coast line gives every evidence of continuing to sink along Texas and Louisiana. For whatever reason, the Atlantic Coast from Norfolk to Savannah is also sinking. The surface of the earth, through millions of years, has changed its shape and we are helping it. Not just helping, but speeding it along. There are scientists who are explaining what is happening, but doing something about it will cut into business profits.

And anyway, we can fix this mess! Let’s concentrate on that.

 

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President Trump

 

Well, time is coming to the end of summer, which means school has just started or is about to start. The usual curricula are in place, teachers are scurrying around to get their classrooms ready and administrators are worrying about whether anything will show up that they have not planned for.

Well, yes there is. It is doubtful if Donald Trump has been planned for. For the first time in my life, we have a national president who inserts himself in in almost every communications media to the extent that it is difficult for children to miss.

The most recent is the mess in Charlottesville, Virginia. Of all things, statues of Confederate generals and statesmen have become headline news. In Charlottesville, first the group opposed to such memorials showed up and were met by latter day confederates (or was it the other way around?). In any case, events became rough with one pro-Confed driving his car into a crowd killing a woman anti.

When the President finally commented on this assault, he said that both sides needed to watch their behavior. Then, the next day he changed that to the pro confeds needed to be careful about abusing people. Then, he apparently rethought this position and on the third day was back to both sides watching their behavior.

We have two problems with this: as President he needs to take a position on the nation’s behalf, and then, he needs to stick to it. Unfortunately, he seems to understand so little about being President that these aspects of the position don’t occur to him.

This President makes his way into the news every day. Today, he announced he has pardoned his buddy Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa county, Arizona who had come to pay no attention to the courts.  He was voted out of office and convicted in court.   Assuming high school students (some at least) see these events in the news, how do they, particularly in government classes, deal with this part of real life that affects us all?

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Life, Living and Lived

 

This is a collection of experiences for me so far this week. On Sunday, I was told by one of our priests as I entered that one of my best friends at church had died the previous day. I had known him for at least thirty years as a friend and (for the early years) a co-usher at church. With a group of friends, we had lunch together during our working years. His loss has hit me pretty hard.

Then, this morning, with my wife and a daughter, we went to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens off of 295 on the east side of the Anacostia river. These lily gardens were started by a Civil War veteran in the 1870’s and were acquired by the Park Service in the 1920’s. We were told the lilies were not at there peak, but the variety and colors were beyond anything I have ever seen.

On the way over, my driving daughter taught her mother how to use the direction finder on my cell phone. On the way home, she set it up (simple so even I could use it) for me. All I could think of was the years I had spent in unfamiliar territory trying to read a map to get to my destination. This addition to living life would have made mine so much easier when I was younger with a car full of children, or trying to find a school with a student teacher.

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Life, Living and Lived

This is a collection of experiences for me so far this week. On Sunday, I was told by one of our priests as I entered that one of my best friends at church had died the previous day. I had known him for at least thirty years as a friend and (for the early years) a co-usher at church. With a group of friends, we had lunch together during our working years. His loss has hit me pretty hard.

Then, this morning, with my wife and a daughter, we went to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens off of 295 on the east side of the Anacostia river. These lily gardens were started by a Civil War veteran in the 1870’s and were acquired by the Park Service in the 1920’s. We were told the lilies were not at there peak, but the variety and colors were beyond anything I have ever seen.

On the way over, my driving daughter taught her mother how to use the direction finder on my cell phone. On the way home, she set it up (simple so even I could use it) for me. All I could think of was the years I had spent in unfamiliar territory trying to read a map to get to my destination. This addition to living life would have made mine so much easier when I was younger with a car full of children, or trying to find a school with a student teacher.

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Evil Persists

One of the books that recently caught my attention was the diary of a governess for three children on the edge of World War I; An English Governess In The Great War, by Mary Thorp. I bought it and began listening to my wife read short sections to me.

World War I began shortly after Thorp settled in as governess with three little boys in Brussels. The German army made its attack on France through Belgium south curving east through northern France, but failed to drive the British and French out of the war. Belgium became an occupied country which is the story of this diary.

While I have selected German activities that have practically driven my wife out the book, the one that grabbed me most was the gathering up of
men and shipping them off to Germany to perform work there for which there were no longer enough Germans. This, of course, left not enough Belgians to keep that country going. Once in Germany, these men were worked until sick to death when they were shipped home to die. Coal from Belgian mines was confiscated. All metal, including metal household goods (pots and pans, wash tubs) were gathered up in multiple sweeps. And, these are just the beginning.

What I had not realized, was that exactly the same seizures and controls were put in place 20 years later with the Nazi invasion. The more I learn about Nazi behavior which I lived through in WWII, the more I feel the almost complete destruction of German social and physical structure was well deserved.

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New World

New World

The big corporations built up over WWII got their workers from veterans who went to college and were a disciplined and educated group who could fill the jobs in new corporations like camera company Kodak. Pullman porter jobs were gone as airlines hired stewardesses. Auto companies exist only in bits and pieces in this country today. Information work has young people coming and going, but few 20-30 year jobs remain. A recent article describes how convenience stores can (and are) now selling their goods without human clerks.

Marriages are down, but suburban jurisdictions, like Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, can’t build schools fast enough while rural counties throughout the country have to consolidate schools. Collection of a majority of people in urban areas leads to increased living separation between those with well paying work and those with poorer paying work. Farming, manufacturing, service work are increasingly done by fewer people using various forms of technical assistance.

Medical diagnostic work is also going out of the hands of physicians into those of technicians. Computers have moved into schools, though that has not (yet) reduced the need for teachers. The list could go on. We are obviously in the midst of major change in the way we live our lives. It appears we have even less control over this one than the one I lived through.

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Maybe Not Where We Thought We Were Going

This Fourth of July holiday seemed a good time to remind ourselves of the wars we have been in since this Declaration was approved.

July 4, 1776 Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain.

July 4 1814, United States at once again at war with Britain which was on the doorsteps of the White House

July 4, 1863 found the Union Army victorious at the close of battles in Gettysburg, PA and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

July 4, 1846-48, war with Mexico

July 4, 1898 war with Spain

July 4 1917, War with Germany

July 4 1942-45, War with Japan and Germany

July 4 1956-1975, Vietnam War

When I thought that I would make a few comments about the War for Independence, the Civil War and World War II, it took me a little time to realize that we had much more time at war. For a people who see ourselves as peace loving this expanded time at war has led me to think about our being in conflict that required Congressional support for at least 30 years of our existence (and this does not count the seven years of the French and Indian War while a British colony). Nor, does it count our military involvement in Iraq begun in 2003, and Afghanistan from 2001 to the present. I now see our resemblance to the Romans as they shifted from being a republic to a dictatorship. I have often wondered what led them to move from being a republic to the dictatorship of an emperor. This little exercise puts their political history into better understanding (though it doesn’t make me feel better about what I see as our direction).

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