Archive for December, 2017

Happy Holidays

We hope you are having a great holiday season and look forward with us to a happy New Year.

We will be back in two weeks.

The Editors

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Ulysses Grant

I have never read a biography of Ulysses Grant, though he appears in every book about the War Between the States. Recently, a new biography appeared that my wife wanted to read, so we purchased a copy. It is long, but her judgment of it was so positive that I have begun to read it.

It was from his attendance at the Military Academy at West Point that he knew many of the generals he served with and against in the Civil
War. Graduating in1843 he served in the Mexican war. He married in 1848, had 4 children, left the army in 1854 to support his family and rejoined the army in 1861 rising to commander and chief. Elected President in 1868, he worked to see that the former slaves were integrated into southern society.

In addition to his determination, he knew many of the Southern generals, which aided his winning strategy. As president, he put a lot of effort into helping former slaves become integral, equal members of southern society. While I have not reached this part of his life yet, my own experience tells me he failed in this task. Having seen a black man hanging from a tree when I was a child, I had no illusions about the relations between blacks and whites in the South. However, the result of the election for senator in Alabama may show that what Grant worked so hard for too little effect may be coming to fruition.

A century and a half after Reconstruction, the recent demonstration of black voters getting out to vote in Alabama gives hope that equality can work out.

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What’s Going On?

It’s hard to escape the political news when writing this blog, and escape is what I would really like to do. How can you avoid wondering about the way this president treats governments that most of us think are our allies. Or, has basically withdrawn us from the Unity of European states. North Korea, China and Japan seem to have been given short shrift. And, the embassy to Israel has been moved to Jerusalem-all by itself.

A major question is whether other countries really need us any more. The Europeans have been operating as a union, and now seem to have slipped more into that role. The Japanese and South Koreans seem to be slipping into less dependence on us. Yet, our Pacific fleet can’t keep all of its ships at sea for lack of funding.

For this country, the Republican Congress is on the verge of passing a funding bill that will cut billions from the budget. Our national road system-particularly bridges-is getting shabbier. Congress has passed a bill encouraging coal mining. Yet, in the West Virginia region, coal can no longer be mined for prices that compete with western coal. So, that revision to supporting mining in the east really provides no benefit. What will this country look like in three more years of this “administration”?

As I submit this, there is a light snow falling, a reminder that all life is not going to hell in a handbasket.

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Long Time Gone

The seasons of the year bring such different things to my attention. In Spring, the weather in the East warms up, sometimes slowly and sometimes all at once. The world turns green and gardeners (my wife) are very busy working in the dirt planting the new flowers. Grass needs to be cut and increasingly garden “managers” are hired. By June, students walking past our house have lost their winter trudge and there is a spring in their step. (From my high school teaching days I had a spring in my step too.)

Summer time brings lots of outdoor activities. Swimming pools go great guns. Our son and 5 five of his friends parceled out breakfast among their parents after after early morning swimming practice. We had six famished boys on our deck once a week for most of the summer.

Fall brought school back for the whole family. For the children, growing older brought less enthusiasm with increasing years. Leaves fell off the trees, had to be raked up and disposed of. Days at the swimming pool gradually faded from memory. Halloween with its full bags of candy and other sweets brought queasy stomachs with just one more piece. Thanksgiving brought family and friends to an overloaded table.

Winter began with a month devoted to Christmas. We then trudged along going from house to work or school with little interruption. Many clothes to keep warm and maybe a snow to bring some variation-not all appreciated by working people.

Spring began with different weather from year to year. Sometimes a long spell with mostly cool, pleasant weather. Yet, one year winter temperatures hung on into June.

Time has moved on; we continue to plunder the physical environment. I wonder what this is doing to the earth we live on.

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