Sunday, January 1, 2017

Requiese In Pace

My mother would have celebrated her 102nd birthday on New Year's Day. She was 72 when the above picture was taken in 1986. She died 11 years later from the effects of a stroke and went down fighting. She even had an intense dislike for the soft euphemisms of death, such as “passed away,” and would challenge anyone who used it in her presence. “You mean he died?” she'd ask, eyebrows arched.

Yes,” the other party would sigh. “He passed away.”

No. He died” mom would insist. None of this fuzzy-brained business about “passing away” or “going gentle into that good night” for her.  Being an arch realist she preferred a much less smarmy ”kicked the bucket” if a euphemism was unavoidable.

She was feisty that way. She attributed her combativeness to having four brothers. Her brothers claimed her quick temper was due to her being born in 1914 during what was then called The Great War, and they were quite skilled at provoking her into proving their point.

She was born Clara Halverson in Craig, Alaska, on Prince Of Wales Island close to the Canadian border. Her father, Lars – or Louis – was an émigré from Norway who'd apprenticed as a cobbler but who went to sea when in his teens. Her mother, Annie Johnston, was descended from the Tlingit tribe of coastal natives and a sailor from Cornwall. The sailor sailed back to England and left her to be reared by her maternal grandmother. She was 15 when she married my grandfather, then 30, who owned a general store and a floating cannery that served the fishing fleet plying the waters of the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska.

In the 1920s the family moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, and later to Tacoma, Washington, where Grandfather H. established a gas station on US 99, and later a retail fish market, smokehouse and cannery, and bought property to build rental housing.

Mom graduated high school in 1932, the year a pilot named Nat Browne competed for a $25,000 prize for a non-stop solo flight from Seattle to Tokyo. She glimpsed the 37-year-old Browne amid a cluster of reporters and city officials as he departed Seattle's Olympic Hotel. She thought he looked like a forest ranger, but was rather old. His attempt failed during a refueling accident over Seattle's Ellliot Bay. He recovered from his injuries, moved to Alaska, and mom forgot about him.

Everyone in the family who could work did work. Her two older brothers took jobs in southeastern Alaska. One was killed during cave-in at the Alaska Juneau Mine in 1937. The other worked on fishing boats and earned a captain's rating.  Mom became a teen entrepreneur, setting up a roadside stand on Highway 99 selling produce and honey. A pretty girl, she also modeled clothes for department store ads in the Tacoma paper, later landing a job as a clerk for Weisfield and Goldberg, a local jewelry store which now has 16 locations in 4 western states under the name Weisfield's. 

This was when the adage “The customer is always right” universally applied. Companies would hire shopping agents to test the patience of retail clerks and weed out those whose manner was less than courteous – no matter what.  A job was a very precious thing to have in those Depression era days. Knowing that dozens of unemployed young women were ready to replace her curbed my mom's fighting instinct as a verbal counterpuncher. 

Sometimes the punch was not just verbal.  A jealous woman, upset by her husband's persistence in asking mom to dance during a performance of a touring swing band at Tacoma's American Lake, grabbed mom by the shoulder. "That's alllllll I needed," mom recalled.  She flattened the other woman with a clip to the jaw.  Her two older brothers, both fighters, were at the same dance.  They were proud of her. Just a family of brawlers.

She married the first of three husbands in 1935 and gave birth to my brother, Kenny, the following year. Prior to the wedding ceremony her brothers stood around commenting on her temper, shaking their heads and saying, “Boy, that'll never last.” It didn't. The marriage ended until 1941.

That year mom returned to Alaska to start anew, taking a job in Anchorage as a scheduler, clerk, ticket agent and general factotum to four air services. She met, was charmed by, and married the man who became my biological father. That marriage didn't last either. According to her, he had a habit of taking things that didn't belong to him. He also liked a variety of female companions. That tore it. So there she was, a single woman with an infant at home and another kid living with her ex-husband's family in a distant city. She'd also had it with men.

Then Nat Browne flew back into her life. Somehow he overcame her nettlesome mistrust of all things male, married her and adopted me. The marriage lasted 32 years through thick and thin economic times until he died from natural causes in 1978 at age 83. She scattered his ashes in a clearing of flowering jack oak trees in the Sangre de Cristo mountains above Sante Fė, New Mexico, where they'd been living in mobile home park.

The mobile home park's management did a foolish, foolish thing. It pissed her off by arbitrarily increasing fees with little or no notice. Mom took up a banner and went to the barricades.  She joined forces with the American Mobile Home Association and assailed the state government to improve tenants' rights.

She was tenacious. Once she thought she'd been excluded from a legislative hearing. She angrily banged on doors in the marbled halls of the capital in search of the sniveling cowards she knew were deliberately avoiding her.  An official opened a door and said, “Uhhh, Mrs. Browne? The hearing is in here.”

About that time a man approached her. “I've picked the last three lieutenant governors of this state,” he said. “Would you be interested?” She declined, saying she had a husband at home who was not well. The man, heir to the Phillips 66 petroleum empire, said he understood.

Mom returned to the Pacific Northwest after dad died. She took a job in a Native American bookstore and enrolled in a program that paired seniors with college students at Western Washington State University, living on campus among the college kids. It kept her rejuvenated, active and involved.

She was especially interested in writing, having written a book length manuscript about her life in Alaska. An agent shopped it around in the 90s. A mainstream publisher was interested, but only if mom could make a publicity tour to market the book. By that time she had died.

I was present for her last days in a Seattle hospice. She was unable to speak or move very much. I'd sit by her bed reading a book while she slept. Now and then I'd look up to see her gazing at me, her once clear blue-green eyes clouded by age and morphine. I had the feeling she was critically examining me for signs of improvement.

I miss her.

Requiese in pace, mom. Rest in peace.


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Your mother looks like everything you said about her. Beautiful, combative, formidable. What a wonderful piece! I'm sure it would have made her proud, despite the fact that she may have looked at you to see if you'd made improvement. Indeed you have. And keep on doing so. – Linda 

Beautiful piece.   I bet your Mom's book would have been delightful.   She had lots of adventures.  Sounds like she was feisty and full of humor.  Acorn, you did not fall far from the tree.  – Tammy

One more time:  You gotta get yer writing to an agent.  It's wunnerful.  Happy NY.  – Tim

Absolutely wonderful, thank you for writing/sharing – Miriam

What a tremendously loving history and tribute to your Mom. I read it wishing that she could read it also, but then, believing as I do that my father watches over me every day, I decided she knows every word of it. 

My father died in my arms in 1994.  He had a wonderfully colorful life and a character that I wish could have been cloned and put into every man.  I miss him too.  I miss him like crazy.

I don't think, by the way, that your mother was looking at you wishing for improvement.  Seems a woman as savvy as she was knew that people stumble along the way in life and it's not how badly you do it - it is, indeed, how you get up from it.  And Mike, you got up just fine.  She knows. – Zoey

Wow! What a wonderful piece! – Pamela

I remember you telling me about your mother, and I remember when she died.  I think I would have been scared shitless of her, but I would have admired her, too.
-- Shan

Reading the celebration of your mother’s life, I noticed that your grandparents were plying northern waters around the same time as M. Wylie Blanchett who wrote, The Curve of Time, have you read it? I also wondered if your dad ever knew Art Woodley, the father of friends of ours.  Happy New Year.  -- Marilyn

Yes, my dad knew Art Woodley. We flew in his Pacific Northern Airlines Constellations annually between Seattle and Anchorage in the 1950s. It was a six hour flight. I would sometimes be allowed to ride in the co-pilot's position and actually fly the airplane. At age 12. After one such incident, my dad grumbled. “Were you flying this thing? The last 50 miles were rougher than hell.”
Can't do that now. Make a move toward the cockpit and you'll be stomped into Contadina by unnerved passengers and jumpy flight attendants. MB


Quite a character. Like mother like son, I would say. – Gerard.

We were a lot alike, and that did not always make for family harmony. She claimed she got bad temper by osmosis from me.  MB


This was beautiful. Great writing. – Brett

Quite a compliment, Lady Brett. Thank you. MB


I trust she'd have approved of that piece of writing. I would have liked your mom. I, too, hate euphemisms for death (and other things). When someone really pisses me off by trying to make death pretty, I go to the other extreme and use the crude expression "shit the bed." – Linda F.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Spiders Need Love Too!

Lost amid the howls of outrage or joy over the election was a sad little story circulated by the Associated Press: “Tarantulas Looking For Love In California.”

Seems the mating season for the poor maligned tarantulas is now in full bloom. But, as usual, the male does all the blooming and wooing. While female tarantulas typically stay inside eating bonbons and watching “The View,” lovesick male tarantulas hike up to four miles through hostile terrain in search of a willing mate. Once he locates a lady tarantula's burrow, he does a little tap dance on the web strands outside her spider condo. That's a lot easier than dragging a bottle of Pinot Griego and a box of Whitman's Samplers to her in a harness.  Besides, I bet even lady spiders appreciate a good dancer.

So there's our eight-legged Baryshnikov dancing his heart out at the entrance of her underground grotto. If she's in the mood she might emerge to see if he has game. Then again she might not. Love is a crapshoot, even for spiders.

But at least lady tarantulas don't make a meal out of their lovers and have a cigarette after sex like Black Widows do. Okay, I made up the part about the cigarette. Spiders are too sensible to smoke. Besides, girl tarantulas already live longer than boy tarantulas, just like girl humans live longer than boy humans. Yup, it's true. Female tarantulas live up to 25 years while male tarantulas tend to croak after seven or eight years – probably from frustration or getting clobbered with a shovel by someone who never read Charlotte's Web. 

Now I know there are a lot of people who wish California would take its tarantulas and snap off at the San Andreas Fault and float away on the Japanese Current. There is even an organized movement to make California's secession from America a ballot issue. A group calling itself the Yes California Independence Campaign, or CalExit for short, told the Associated Press it plans to circulate petitions to get its secession plan on the 2018 ballot.

Such thinking is downright silly. Look, even if California became an island nation it would still have the sixth largest economy in the world. California has heaps of agriculture, industry, petroleum, and an abundance of low wage labor. Just ask anyone between Oregon and the Mexican border who eats burritos, loves lettuce, drives a car, has a computer, or been awakened by a leaf blower on a Saturday morning.

The upshot is America needs California more than California needs America. What's more, an independent California could wad the panties of conservative economists by slapping yuuge tariffs on its exports, like burritos, computers, petroleum and leaf blowers.

Anyway California is waaay too fragmented by social and political diversity to be a unified force for anything. Special interest pleaders would try to split an independent California into even smaller nation states.  That way isolationist groups with names like First Amendment First! would decriminalize rioting and looting and establish Criminacalia. The sex industry would push for a Calipornia, the vintners lobby will want to Make America Grape Again starting with Napafornia, and of course People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals would want their own empire, Calizooia, where even a heartbroken tarantula could hold public office.  

And why not? A skunk has already been elected president.


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The anti-California sentiment died with Emmett Watson.  [Seattle is] an all inclusive city now.  So please take us with you. If California breaks off into the ocean I hope it plans on taking Oregon and Washington state with it.  We could build a wall to keep the Trump voters out while making those who voted for Trump pay for it .

P.S. When it is my turn to be reincarnated, I am so coming back as a girl tarantula! – Tammy

The late Emmett Watson was a Seattle newspaper columnist who resented the influx of immigrants from California.  His obituary in the the Seattle Post Intelligencer stated:  "He delighted and debunked with a broad and bodacious pen, but is perhaps remembered by his creation and periodic crusades aimed at emigre Californians, New Yorkers, and the rest of us who he felt were overloading lifeboat Seattle.  His campaign motto was Keep The Bastards Out."  -- MB  

Reminds me of something I just read about killing the spider who'd thought he was your roomie, and that you're never more than 6 feet away from a spider at any moment of your life – Lynda

And it's watching you with all 12 eyes. -- MB

I waited until this morning to read your spider/California piece. I should have read it earlier.  It was great. I will reread it after my coffee, but, as far as I can tell, it'll be just as enjoyable later as it was now. – Beaty

Thank you muchly.  -- MB

I will never forget the time I caught a tarantula when I lived on the hill.  Robert Hall, class of 1959, was a great friend at the time.  He came to visit.  I had the tarantula in a jar.  HE darn near went backwards over the couch and out the window when I presented it to him.  I still laugh at the vision.  Mother was not impressed and sent my newest pal to spider heaven. – Carol

Carol was a neighbor of mine on that same hill.  Her mother didn't like me any more than she liked the doomed tarantula. -- MB

I remember that damned leaf blower.  If my head hadn't been blowing apart, I think I might have gone and wrapped it around his neck. -- Shannon

Poor Shannon. She'd moved to the allergy capital of the known universe before escaping to a less pollen and pesticide polluted area. -- MB

Thanks Mike  I always enjoy your writing and wonderful sense of humor,  My dad would have loved your latest offering too. – Peggy

Peggy's late father was a handsome man with an elegant presence who kept a sharp mental edge in his 90s. A former vaudevillian, he shared the stage with the top acts of his day, including the Marx Brothers. Unfailingly courteous, he personified the word gentleman. I was lucky to have met him. MB.

Marvelous,  as always – Julisari

Merry Christmas Mike.  – FACS

Thanks Mike! – Bob G.

I chuckled out loud at this one.  Your delivery is very funny.  I happen to like most all creatures, including most spiders, and speaking of skunks, I had a (of course descented) pet one named Sweet Pea for a while.  Excellent pet - ate cat food, used a cat box, loved riding on my shoulder and curling up in my lap, and made no noise whatsoever.  Picture that with a long-haired blonde hippie girl and you've got a conversation starter.

As for California being separate...sigh...I am not a bit surprised.  If there is a thought in the world of doing something that hasn't already been done, someone will suggest it and even push it without regard to how incredibly stupid an idea it might be.  However, I would get another chuckle at any names you picked out were it to happen.  Lots of fun could be had by locals and news people especially.Keep 'em coming, Mike.  I always enjoy what you write. -- Zoey

I briefly had a skunk for a pet myself. A baby one. It had been abandoned when I found it crying under a parked car in a hillside neighborhood. I brought it home, and in typical teenage fashion, dumped it on my parents to care for so I could go surfing.  It got sick after a few days. My mom it took it to a vet.The vet said it was too little and too weak to survive, which is probably why its mama abandoned it, and euthanized the little critter.  My mom laid into me when she got home. "Don't you ever bring home a pet we'll lose our hearts to only to have it put to sleep!"  MB

Friday, December 2, 2016

Under Joyce Maynard's Influence

Last Wednesday The Lady Karen and I motored to La Jolla where author Joyce Maynard was giving a reading at a Warwick's book emporium.  She is on tour to promote her novel entitled Under The Influence.  

I bought two copies of the book because (a) I wanted The Lady Karen and I both to have one, and (b) that was the only way Warwick's would guarantee reserved seating. Good thing I did. The storefront bookstore was filled to capacity with maybe 150 souls in folding chairs, although a contingent of teenage boys sulked in the back row and left early on.  Perhaps they'd been lashed into attending by their English teacher, or mistakenly thought the book was about bong hits and might contain some useful tips.

I haven't read the book yet.  According to a review by John Wilkens in the November 27th edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune:  "...the title means different things. The main character in the book. Helen, is a recovering alcoholic whose drinking ended her marriage and cost her custody of her 7-year-old son. She meets a wealthy couple who take her under their wing, exerting influence of a different kind that raises questions about the meaning of friendship."

Now then, I have a powerful aversion to chick lit and I'm against everything authors like Shirley MacLaine are for, but Joyce Maynard's work is neither chick lit nor festooned with New Age bliss ninny crystals in print.  Her prose is economical, clear, and free of diabetes inducing sentiment.

See, I first read her stuff in the early 1970s when she was an 18-year-old Yale dropout whose initial literary effort was an opinion piece in the New York Times, entited Looking Back, -- An 18-year-old Looks Back At Life.

Her style was far beyond her years.  It resonated with the authority of the inner voice my mind's ear hears when I read something, whether it's an essay by Montaigne or the Yellow Pages. I also heard Joyce Maynard's actual voice when she contributed to CBS Radio's "Spectrum" series when I was working for a CBS affiliate in Northern California.

Her Times essay evolved into a series of them in book form.  She also began a correspondence with J.D. Salinger, which also evolved into a May-December relationship between a teenaged acolyte and a 53-year-old recluse of a master.  I sometimes wonder if her Salinger connection was a boon or an albatross.

I didn't have the nerve to ask her that when she was autographing books following her talk at Warwick's.  I imagine she's tired of being asked Salinger questions. Anyway her work is just dandy on its own. "Salinger?  Salinger?  She don' need no stinkin' Salinger."


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Thank you, Tomato Mike.  And thank you, Karen.  I loved my trip to your beautiful city.  -- Joyce

Might have to get a copy of this book.  If she does have a similar style to Salinger, she's got to be good I think.  I haven't sat down to read a novel in quite a while, and the last one I read was a reread of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Seems I don't make time, but perhaps when I am unable to even amble around I'll do that, though I imagine myself writing short stories and poetry a lot more often then, or writing that book about my life I keep saying I will.  I've thought of the way I'd lay it out, and of clever chapter headings, and how many people will rush to deny something they read in it...heh...maybe I ought to write it and just leave it for possible publication after I'm out of the reach of upset individuals, sitting on a cloud with Jesus surveying the fallout.  Truth is sometimes kind of messy.  Hm.  Maybe I ought to just write the good stuff, though there may be some of that which would also bring denials amid the string of events I've hammered out in my life, and which stepped in my wiggly path. 

At any rate, thanks for the piece, good as always, and keep sending.  I look forward to every one. Be well – Zozo

I, too, will purchase the book. Thanks for the review and min-bio. Nice to see you back on the Times – Beaty

America First

"From now on, it's going to be America first. OK? America first. We're going to put ourselves first."   --   Donald J. Trump, 12/1/2016.

Apparently Mr. Trump does not realize that there were two America First political movements, one in 1944, the other an actual political party in 2002. Both failed.

The party's first incarnation was dominated by rural southern conservatives with Bible Belt backgrounds who later formed something called the Christian National Crusade which later morphed into America First. America Firsters believed in public prayer, no forieign commitments, limiting the size of the federal government and making the flag a religious icon. The latter actually happened in 1954 when President Eisenhower approved adding the words "under God' to the Pledge Of Allegiance.

The America First poster boy in the 1930s was Charles A. Lindbergh until he came under a cloud for publicly expressing admiration for Hermann Goering, the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe and second in command.  World War Two brought a temporary halt to that movement, as well as civil rights for over 100,000 American and American residents with Japanese surnames who were  imprisoned, or "relocated"  away from the west coast  for the duration of the war.  Well, the Pearl Harbor attack was very much on America's collective mind at the time.  Anti-Japanese propaganda saturated the newspapers, newsreels and radio.  Television had been invented in 1922, but was still a novelty in 1941 with few sets and fewer stations.  During the war television manufacturers were redirected by the government to develop radar and other electronic goodies.

I know, I know; I digress a lot.  It's a character flaw.  So, back to the relocation of Japanese-Americans:  One of its champions was a former Oakland prosecutor, state attorney general, governor, and eventually the Chief Justice of the United States Surpreme Court.  A fella named Earl Warren.  Surprised?  Well, he was a Republican.  But it was also the Warren court that desegregated schools with its ruling on  Brown vs.The Topeka Board of Education in 1954. That move, and pure cussedness, caused another America First offshoot and Tea Party predecessor, the John Birch Society, to try really really hard to get Chief Justice Warren impeached.  Didn't work.

The second significant advent of an America First spinoff occurred in 2002. There were several insignificant ones prior to that, you can Google them, when conservatives preached re-instituting  school prayer, reducing the size of the federal government, no foreign commitments that did not benefit corporations, making the flag a religious icon, with an added proviso of banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood as a pro-life measure. Yet only three percent of Planned Parenthood's efforts are devoted to performing abortions. Most of its efforts are in providing information about sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid unplanned – and unwanted – pregnancies, especially among young women whose parents got huffy about sex education in schools, and the wives of migrant farm workers whose spiritual leader is an elderly male celibate in a white skirt.

Anyway, the 2002 version drafted former Nixon operative Pat Buchanan as its presidential candidate. They advocated school prayer, reducing the size of the federal government, getting out of the UN, eliminating NAFTA, making the flag a religious icon, banning federal funding for abortion clinics and having the National Guard patrol the Mexican border.

The most prominent difference between the former and the present America First people is that the former ones don't wear red caps inscribed Make America Great Again. My view is that those caps should be replaced by tinfoil hats favored by people who think space aliens are trying to probe their alleged minds.

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Saw your piece on Making America Great Again. For what it's worth,  my late mother-in-law, and her family, were interned during WWII. Her brother was a member of the 442nd.  -- Brat.
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team  is an infantry regiment of the United States Army, part of the Army Reserve. The regiment was a fighting unit composed almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought in World War II. Most of the families of mainland Japanese Americans were confined tointernment camps in the United States interior. Beginning in 1944, the regiment fought primarily in Europe during World War II,[2] in particular Italysouthern France, and Germany.
The 442nd Regiment was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare.[3] The 4,000 men who initially made up the unit in April 1943 had to be replaced nearly 2.5 times. In total, about 14,000 men served, earning 9,486Purple Hearts. The unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations (five earned in one month).[4]:201 Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor.[2] Its motto was "Go for Broke"  -- Wikipedia.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seaman Mike Browne - 12/62 -- recording the  Bob Hope show  -- USS Kitty Hawk, Subic Bay, Philippines

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the guns of the World War One fell silent.  The following year Woodrow Wilson designated the day as Armistice Day. In 1954 President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day, a day of celebration when a lot of aging vets squeeze themselves into their old uniforms, or maybe just put on an American Legion or VFW hat, and march in a parade.

Last year this old vet sat in a wheelchair on a San Diego curb and watched the parade rather than wheel in it, accompanied by two beautiful women, the Lady Karen Simons and Lady Sandy Burgess, the latter being a cousin from Alaska. Lady Sandy and her husband, Keith, were in town to visit their Marine son. Lady Karen had bought me a really fancy cap with Navy insignia. Later Lady Sandy sent me a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of a ship I'd served aboard.

During the parade I removed my cap when a color guard bearing the flag passed by.  I'm not all that patriotic about the flag, but I did get caught up in the martial music, the presence of all those impossibly young sailors and Marines probably bound for harm's way, and an ingrained sense of flag protocol acquired at an early age in a military academy and reinforced in the Navy. If you're a civilian wearing a hat, you take off your lid when the flag passes by -- or should.   For me, the gesture was not a tribute to a decorated cloth, but a showing of respect for American kids being shot at in foreign wars.

No parade for this old bat this year, but I did snag a free lunch. See, San Diego is a military town and some restaurants lose a bundle of money offering free lunches to active duty, retired, and former military people like me who never pass up a free meal. Sooo, I put on the Navy cap Lady Karen gave me last year and invited her to accompany me on my free lunch mission.

While we were seated in the waiting area of a restaurant crowded with service people and former service people along with their families and guests, a well buffed 20-something fella with buzzed hair, accompanied by two parent looking people, came up to me, extended his hand and said, “Thank you for your service.” He was gone before I could thank him for his. I guessed he was a Marine from nearby Camp Pendleton despite not being in uniform. The haircut was a giveaway.

Like many of us, I've been watching the behavior the president-elect with mixed feelings, none of them good. He talks so cavalierly about invading Iraq on the false premise that Iraqi oil is America's oil. Now this man never spent one day in the armed forces, and he's perfectly willing to send that 20-something Marine who courteously greeted me in the restaurant, along with thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people in uniform into combat so he can Make America Great Again.

Excuse me, Mr. President-elect, but America is already great – and you sure as hell won't make it any greater unless you learn to play well with others on the international playground.

Me, I do not want to see photos of an airplane hangar filled with flag draped coffins flown in from the Middle East or anywhere else. I hope the young fella I presumed to be a Marine will one day be an old man who marches in Veterans Day parades wearing a silly hat.


Comments, anyone?

This response is full of Thank Yous:
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for thanking others for theirs.
Thank you for sharing your sentiments about the president-elect.
Thank you for your heart.
Hubba Hubba, sailor!


Thank you for your service, Mike  You are as handsome now as you were then.  Peace and love to you, my friend. – Peggy Hill

Oh stop. – MB

Re Trump never serving; Didn't you know? Donald Trump attended military school where he learned everything he needs to know about the U.S. military and how it should operate. (Don't you feel secure knowing this failed businessman is in charge of the country?) Three days later and I still have a knot in my stomach, waiting for the other shoe to fall. I don't want to have to listen to him for another four years. I miss George W. Bush already!

 – Brat


I love your snide remarks about Trump.  My serious side has emerged after my initial denial and shock and disgust. I wrote this little paragraph today:

Trump's appointment is a crisis that may serve to mobilize us to address the very real problems and big questions this society faces.  We have been missing serious Democratic party discourse about the effects of globalization on manufacturing sector in the US. Most people can only blame single causes, when in fact we need to think systematically. Are protective tariffs going to be enough?  Should there be a relocation program for those in dwindling cities? Or a [Civilian Conservation Corps] for the environment?   How does a nation gracefully decline? Does the UK's end of empire offer any insights?  Decades ago social theorists speculated about a leisure society and asked what meaningful activities might take the place of work.  Do we need a citizenship wage? Can we call upon the human potential movement to help people enjoy and share their inner resources?

-- Galen

Galen is right. We liberals have gotten politically and socially complacent and maybe just a little too smug. That made us a big fat target for the disaffected. – MB

A friend who worked for Homeland Security said, “I have a high security clearance and if I had done what [Clinton did with the classified e-mails] I would be spending the rest of my life in federal prison “

I am glad to see the GOP blown apart and the DNC likewise. Perhaps we can get someone in four years we can proudly support.  As for Donald, I hope he will fulfill his promises. I am willing to give him a chance. 

-- Charlotte

Thanks. This was most welcome today. – Sum

I too hope that young man will march in a parade one day.  We are opening a housing project for vets.  I think any president should visit there and hear the residents stories before considering war.  The president would also learn a thing or two about what vets need when they return home.  – Tammy

Thank you and your community for what I gather is a project for homeless or low income vets. -- MB

Enjoyable read, as always! Glad you got your free lunch. Re the election.... still in shock. – Lynda

First, I am foursquare against war - and just as surely know American humans will engage in it with noble and patriotic reason, and I honor them every Veteran's Day and any day I see an old vet with a hat on proudly depicting his military service, or a young man from my local Army base sporting his camo and name tag filling up his rig down the street.  I cannot, and will not, take anything from the courageous act of walking into danger in defense of a way of life I freely can live. Yeah, you can cue the anthem.  I love my country and I am safer because of the soldiers who are much more brave than I.

As for Trump, I am pretty sure one of the main reasons he was elected is that so many are so sick of politicians and their chronic inaction that they would elect a pompous ass instead.  I go with this:  In four years, maybe we WILL elect someone we can be proud of.  Time will tell,

Thanks for the piece, and thanks to you Mike, and to my brother, and every person who ever served, or still serves. – Zoey

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The following is by Garrison Keillor, author and host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR, which appeared in the Washington Post, SF Gate, and which I filched from the whirled wide web.   MB

Let us be clear that if this election is stolen from Hillary by last-minute machinations, you Republicans are in deep trouble. We lefties are not patsies who you can play footsie with. Vengeance shall be wreaked.

We are taking names and we know where you live. If Hillary loses, your hairdresser Heather (a Democrat) is going to cut your hair with pinking shears and color it mauve and trim your eyebrows to look like Bette Davis. She will massage your shoulders and press hard on a certain nerve that makes your voice squeaky and trembly.

You drop by your favorite cafe and Hazel, a Democrat, will bring you coffee with cream though you never take cream but absent-mindedly you drink it and you wind up staying home for 48 hours, driving the porcelain bus.

Hillary has got this election in the can and if you and your KGB pals attempt dirty tricks like give Democrats pens with invisible ink to mark their Xes or jam the voting lever with wads of bubble gum or put our ballots in the fake box full of composting worms or use X-ray binoculars to see through our clothing and spot the ACLU cards in our pockets and hand us the trick ballot that goes blank when exposed to kryptonite, you will pay for this big time. Do not think otherwise.

Schoolteachers, health care workers: all Democrats. No more special help for your kids having trouble with algebra so give up any thought of college -- they are headed for jobs in the hospitality industry, washing dishes, scrubbing toilets. Your urine test at the doctor's will reveal a previously unknown strain of flesh-eating bacteria and you will wind up in long-term care, tended by -- you guessed it -- a woman named Carmelita who will not take you to the toilet unless you ask her in Spanish. ("Necesito el toilet, por favor.")

Did you know that 95 percent of all psychiatrists are progressive Democrats? If Hillary loses, you will be declared mentally incapable and put under the guardianship of your lesbian daughter who hasn't spoken to you in three years. She will bring her German shepherd Namaste who stares at you relentlessly and snarls if you pick up a telephone. Good luck with that.

As you know, we in the media are totally Democratic and when your wedding story appears in the paper, don't be surprised if the bride has a mustache and the groom's eyes are off-kilter. Your name will be misspelled and instead of "is employed as a data imaging specialist at NorCom," it will be "is currently doing time for wire fraud in a federal facility in Oklahoma." Send us your birth announcement and we will rename it Hillary and put "Stronger Together" on the onesie.

Your wife is a Democrat so I'd advise you not to eat home-cooked meals for maybe five or 10 years. And as for your little blue pills, your wife knows about identical little blue pills that will make a man suddenly interested in fabrics and interior decor.

I hope it does not come to this. Ours is a great country and we say let the candidate with the most votes win, but if you carpet-chewers want to play a different game, bring it on. Microsoft and Apple have come up with a powerful whammer-jammer that, should it come to this, God forbid, will shut down the ignition of every RV and pickup truck in America and make the radio play NPR at high volume and instead of the latest CD by your beloved Anthrax Fruit Bats or Demented Loners you will be listening to Ira Glass talk about hipster millennials and the cultural phenomenon of plaid shirts and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.