Archive for November, 2016


Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, as have the wonderful meal of turkey and dressing-well, I won’t go beyond those two because they only come once a year and everything else is served up often. On the other hand, the pies baked by our daughters are also certainly worth mention-several pieces worth of mention

While lots went on during this day, going to church provided the time and environment to reflect on the good life my wife and I have lived as part of a wonderful family from being parents and dependent children to adults and aging parents.

Now, on to next year.

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Books from the old days


Kindle has a selection of books that are old (late 1800s, early 1900s) and have been remastered for computer at no rental cost. One of the most interesting is Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer. It is the only book I have read that gives the life story of an Indian from childhood of roaming on the planes through a major battle with white men and finally to living on a reservation. At the end of his life he slipped into the role of policeman and part time farmer. He also spent his later years telling a writer about his life. The writer sifted through the stories and came up with a compelling life story.

The one of this type I am reading now is Hardtack and Coffee or the Unwritten Story of Army Life. This was written in the 1890s by a veteran of the Civil War who felt the true story of the war had not been told. He deals with the daily life of Union soldiers, and, indeed, I have never read anything like it before. For instance, he gives the complete description of several court marshals and following executions. And, the following is about a not unusual story about mealtime:

In drawing his ration of meat from the commissary, the quartermaster had to be governed by his his selection. If it was a hindquarter then he must take a forequarter the next time, so that it will at once be seen, by those who know anything about beef, that it would not always be cut up and distributed with the same acceptance. One man would get a good solid piece, the next a flabby one. When a ration of the latter description fell into the hands of a passionate man , such as I have described in another connection, he would instantly hurl it across the camp, and break out such with remarks as “something not being fit for hogs,” “always his blank luck “ etc. There was likely to be a little something gained by this dramatic exhibition, for the distributor would give the actor a good piece for several times afterword to restrain his temper.
Hardtack and Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Army Life, John D. Billings

I am finding a number of books from an earlier century from Amazon which are interesting and informative. It’s worth a look.


The Election

The election is over, the votes counted and my candidate lost. There are many different reasons why people support a political candidate. My main reason for support is what can the candidate do for the people he/she wants to represent. There is a shift in this reason which is what will this candidate do for me. For a group between these two reasons, there is a combination and this is where most people (I guess including me) fit.

In this election Mr Trump told people what he would do: build a wall along the Mexican border, send immigrants without proper documentation home, allow no new immigrants in and repeal Obamacare. As I saw his “program”, he was saying he would restore to hard working Americans from Europe control over the country.

Mrs Clinton, on the other hand had a set of proposals that did not take from some to give to others. She proposed a wide ranging program of changes in the way government supports (the only word I can think of) people in modern America. Examples: making college attendance debt free, expanding assistance to the disabled, reforming the criminal justice system and reworking the tax system to ensure that all pay a representative share.

When I came along in the 1930’s, major employment was driven by lots of newly developed machinery. Women were drawn into secretarial work by typewriters and then mimeograph machines. Mining needed decreasing numbers of workers as machines bored out the coal, conveyor belts carried and dumped it into cars powered by electricity to be carried to the surface. All manufacturing followed the path of machine development to replace human labor. Machines cleaned houses, washed dishes and clothes, individually owned automobiles replaced streetcars, and so on. This development continues so that many of the people who voted for Trump have no work or are not working up to their intellectual and physical abilities.

This invention continues to the extent that manufacturing automobiles requires far less human labor than manufacturers have agreed to continue to use. Getting rid of Latinos would make room processing hog and beef carcasses by “real” Americans, but that is dirty work. Lawn service, house cleaning, restaurant dish washing and general cleaning up are jobs that require lots of physical labor, but even here machinery does ever more work.

The point here is that human life does not stand still and even with all we know, we cannot make it stand still. Government has to meet what changes, it cannot simply let citizens be swept aside from work with no means of support. Government also must decide when change has gone so far, as in auto manufacturing, that previous support should be adjusted or abandoned. This is what political parties ought to address and what elections help to direct.

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Summer into Autumn

Well, it’s that time of year when the seasons are changing from summer to autumn; the days are getting shorter and, best of all, we get to go back to standard time. It will get light earlier in the morning and dark earlier in the afternoon.

I bought two new front tires which I had to take back to have the shaking taken out of the front end.  Now there is no shaking, only thumpa-thumpa-thumpa as we drive along. How deep do I want to get into this?

Baseball, our favorite sport, is over for the year. The World Series has finally served up a victory for the Chicago Cubs and a celebration like I have never seen before for a baseball team. The Harvard men’s soccer team has been rating the physical attributes of the women’s team. They got caught at it and the administration has declared their season to be over—rating and otherwise. High schools, colleges and professionals are well into their football schedules as shown by the number of walking wounded on the sidelines. Halloween has come and gone-we had sixty-five children and once again I overestimated the amount of candy to be handed out. Another year in which I have to struggle to eat up the surplus. Oh well, duties are duties!

Mercifully, the election is drawing to a close with the Director of the FBI seemingly lining up on the side of Trump by publicly announcing a new (worthless?) set of emails that just may show Mrs. Clinton as having committed some wrong. The Attorney General is mad because the Director refused her advice not to go public before the election. However, the Director has the Trump people on his side. I wonder where he will stand if Mrs Clinton wins the election.

I hope I can get by with one more grass cutting because leaf raking and grinding are right around the corner. Rugs have to be changed and windows washed. Somehow, when I was teaching, change of seasons didn’t loom as large in my mind as it does now. Actually, none of this would feel as ominous if we were going into Spring and Summer.