Archive for January, 2017

Under Water

Well, I am home from my trip and decided it was time to acquire a new laptop. Something had happened to my 4 or 5 year old one and I feared that if it could be fixed, it would cost a bundle. So, I ‘bundled’ up and arrived at the Apple Store as it opened Monday and was impressed with one laptop. I was assisted to make my purchase by one man and taken over to have it set up by another. Before he had gotten really into his task, he was muscled out by a woman who made me feel right at ease. I listened and watched for about 45 minutes, was given my equipment and sent on my way with smiles and a warm feeling.

Arriving home, I immediately got to work trying to implement my instructions. Unfortunately, I quickly realized in my fuzzy implementation that I wasn’t able to pull my instructions together (and maybe they were wrong/confused). Figuring the problem was mine, I asked one of my electronically inclined daughters to come over and straighten me out. I will skip the attempt to do so and just say that we gathered all of the related materials, including other laptops together, and made an appointment for the following afternoon.

We met our appointed technician who found several errors in the set up. In the process, he found that my smaller computer had a problem that was probably preventing its working properly, fixed it and sent us on our way. I am writing this newsletter on the fixed laptop (that I allowed to cause all this) and am waiting at home for one more person to see if he can transfer the mail connection and one other operation to the new laptop. If not, I guess it’s back to the Apple repair shop. At least I know it’s not just my stupidity (whatever good that does).

In any event, I am now going through my list of contacts and their passwords. All those times that I simply wrote changes somewhere on the sheets with the lists and then rewrote them because they did not work have finally caught up with me. Heaven only knows if I will ever get my mess straightened out-even partially!



Well, they’ve come and gone and I’m still here. The ‘they” are first, the inauguration of President Trump, followed by the women’s gatherings all around the world. Trump’s swearing in was pretty standard with a usual speech following. That his taking over the Presidency was not widely acclaimed was shown by the empty seats on the mall. This was, of course, “created by the newspapers” which tinkered with the photographs.

Then, there was the women’s march around the world. Particularly, in the U.S., women came in large, unorganized groups to express their feelings about the outcome of the election. One of my friends walked to a metro station and saw women standing in line for blocks waiting to get downtown.

My wife and I decided we needed to escape the Washington “festivities”. We did this by taking the train to Williamsburg to wander around a colonial town that I have been visiting from time to time since the late 1940’s. The train ride down and back restored my faith in the railroad passenger system. When Claudia and I were married, I couldn’t remember which of the two lodgings in the restored area was the least expensive. So, I made reservations at the Inn, which I found, to my dismay, was the top of the line. This decision provided a wonderful honeymoon experience, but severely dented my Navy Ensign finances. This time, we stayed at the lodge which has grown since our last visit, but provided a most comfortable stay.

Unfortunately, we discovered that Colonial Williamsburg closes up each January to allow for refurbishing. Nevertheless, we had a good time and felt we were better served than had we stayed in Washington.


Yesterday and Today

Some time ago I quoted a section from an old newspaper article from the late 1930’s by reporter Ernie Pyle. Pyle was traveling through the South as part of his examination of the forty eight states. What he wrote in each of his articles, while not representative of the the entire state, certainly filled out a picture. Take this selection:

You general farmers around Indianapolis who may read this, you beet farmers in Colorado, you citrus farmers in California, I don’t believe you can believe what life is like for half the farmers in the South. A young man and a woman marry. They are of sixth grade intelligence, and sunk in the hopelessness and listlessness of one mule, sharecropping, debt-owning farming. Their parents can’t help them, so they go to a supply merchant for “furnishing” and start life in debt. Thereafter, the girl gets pregnant as soon and as frequently as possible. They live on fat meat and corn meal, three meals a day. She has never heard of women’s clubs. The house is filthy and stays that way. She carries her little baby down to the fence row, lays him down, and works in the field. She doesn’t read anything and they have no radio. They use coal oil lamps and the floors are bare. Likely as not, they don’t even have a privy. The children are half naked and covered with sores. Soon she is old, and her sickly brood goes out to repeat the process. She chews snuff, spits at the fireplace, hits the wall, and there it stays for posterity – her mark in life. These people are not negroes; they are whites.

Home Country, Ernie Pyle, William Sloan Assoc., Inc, New York, pps. 369-370

All southern farmers were not in this shape, but a substantial minority was. Most farmers, (though not the big landowners) wherever they were, suffered some deprivation. And, many Southerners lived close to the edge. My parents were school teachers in N C. They got paid for eight months of the year. One summer my father and a teenager painted the tin roof of the single level elementary school he and my mother taught in. The temperature was above 90 degrees every day. Other summers, we went to Southwest Va where my father sometimes worked for my grandmother’s brother who owned a car dealership, Desoto and Rio (remember them?), and other summers worked in a coal mine store cutting and selling meat. Around 1940, my mother became ill with some disease that could not be diagnosed, Duke Medical School had no idea what it was and, since my father ran out of money, she was sent home to die. Fortunately, penicillin was developed before that happened and she recovered enough to go back to reasonably normal life.

I was able to go to a local D. C. university, followed by service in the Navy during the Korean War. The generous benefits for WWII military veterans were applied to Korean War veterans and I was able to finish my education with a doctorate.

All of this leads me to my point. Congress has provided the means by which millions of Americans have moved beyond all kinds of limiting circumstances to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in moving this country to be the greatest producer of materials and services ever seen in the world. In the process, as a people, we have become able to live more healthy, satisfying lives.

We cannot allow the president we have elected and the henchmen he has selected to reduce the quality of our lives by slashing about in benefits for citizens. Social security for all and medical benefits for some make American’s lives better. If they start cutting in that direction, the people who will feel it the most are those who bring limited ability and skills to the table. In short, the kind of people Ernie Pyle identified who are totally dependent on what other people do, or don’t do.

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A New day – A New Life

Well, the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season is over, decorations mostly down, presents worn, exchanged, put away, etc. Resolutions made and mostly forgotten in going back to work or school. The departure of one Federal Administration and the coming of another has begun with the assembling of a new Congress under Republican control. A 100,000 women have promised to march in Washington on the day after Inauguration Day. The newly elected President pops in and out of his apartment to issue an announcement of new appointment and pops back in again. He apparently stays up to all hours at night and issues opinions via internet. Does this mean no press conferences?

There has not been this uncertainty about a new federal administration that I can ever recall. Republicans on the Hill, particularly in the House, have their agenda which they have worked out over some time. In health care, there is a bloc in Congress that is determined to get rid of the “Obama” law (Affordable Care Act), but Mr Trump thinks parts of it provide a useful service.

People who are currently covered are afraid of being able to afford premiums and the not covered additions often recommended by physicians treating them. Many of these people who have been interviewed want the amount of additional care often recommended to be expanded. Most who were uninsured before the present health care act don’t want to lose what they have now.

What most newly covered citizens want is drug prices controlled, and more commonly used health care services added. Unfortunately, Congress seems likely to tear up present coverage and follow it with something they are not agreed upon.

Generally speaking, reduction in services provided at public expense is the goal of the Republican majority. Opposition to this reduction is already rising in groups that will be affected. Democrats, of course, are fanning the flames. The president elect is keeping his distance where he can and where he can’t, tweets his opinion after midnight. Since there are other programs coming under fire, this will be an interesting session.

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