Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Reasons Why I R E S P E C T Sen. Sanders


Here are 10 reasons why I R E S P E C T Sen. B. Sanders:

1. Sen Sanders voted against the Iraq war

2. Sen Sanders supports a new Glass Steagall bill.

3. Sen Sanders has led the fight against the XL pipeline, and for wind, sun, geothermal, and all renewable sources of energy.

4. Sen Sanders opposed NAFTA, and has been a leader in the opposition to the TPP.

5. Sen Sanders has spent his career fighting private prisons and overcriminalization.

6. Sen Sanders understands the vital role that unions and institutions play in a more equal America, and fought for workers' rights.

8. Sen Sanders is a lifelong advocate for veterans, and a leader in health clinics and access to dental care and basic services.

9. Sen Sanders supports public financing of elections.

10. Sen Sanders travels in the center seat on commercial airplanes, just like the rest of us "Joe Lunchbuckets".

Just saying.... R E S P E C T


Monday, December 28, 2015

Momma, Don't Let Them Draft YOUR Child

The New Draft Card
Rumors are circulating that "They" are running out of bodies to sacrifice to the war gods and the politicians are starting to look for more cannon fodder.

It's time to change the game.

This time, please do something different from all past moms. Momma, tell them, "No! No, you will not draft my child!"

Join the cause to force adoption of a Constitutional amendment which requires that if a draft is instituted, all citizens must complete a two-year tour of public service and those first to be drafted – during a declared war, acts of terrorism, executive order of any kind, or “state of emergency” – will be the elected members of the U.S. Congress plus elected officials currently serving on the state, county and local levels. All must serve first unless they have previously served in the military and have been Honorably Discharged.

For all others, an alternative to the military service will be made available – service as a member of the Peace Corps, or to temporarily fill the vacant offices of the drafted elected members of the U.S. Congress and state, county and local officials.

Youthful representatives, without a doubt, will be idealistic in performance of their duties but perhaps less corrupted by big money and special interests as our current representatives are today.

My bet is they will do a much better job serving the interests of the people of the United States.

This time, Momma, don't let them draft your child and send him or her to war for the .1%ers.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace Be With You


"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined."

"... For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:2, 5-7)


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cellophane

I made the mistake of listening to some news the other night. You know, the stuff that goes for reporting.

It seems to be a conspiracy... talk'n sh_t to bring out the worst in people... and generate more ad revenue. All the while we, the 99.9%, are made of cellophane in the eyes of the media and the people running to be the next President of the USA.

The reporters aren't digging for answers about the issues. They are letting the candidates slide right by. Nobody knows we are here... because in their eyes we're all made of cellophane.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Make it So

Years ago, when I was younger, I would pray for Peace.
Every New Year I silently resolved that killing and war would be no more.

I was a child then.
I believed that my resolving would bring Peace into being.

An old man now, I have observed that my resolving didn’t exactly pan out.
Peace has not arrived despite my annual effort to make it so.

This New Year I plan to add a few more words to my resolution:
In 2016 I resolve that killing and war will be no more and that all of us on planet Earth resolve it, too. Together we can make it so.


"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4


* The bronze sculpture "Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares," was created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich, and presented to the United Nations on 4 December 1959 by the Government of the USSR. The sculpture, depicting the figure of a man holding a hammer aloft in one hand and a sword in the other, which he is making into a ploughshare, is meant to symbolize man's desire to put an end to war, and to convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of mankind. It is located in the North Garden of the United Nations Headquarters.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Preconceived Ideas & Ignorance


"Something on the order of more than 80% of our decision-making is irrational. When we encounter anything, a question, a new person, an old friend... we think, act, and make a decision, based upon subprograms which our subconscious automatically runs, entirely beyond the control of our rational thought process." Dr. Robert F. Slattery, MD, Ann Arbor, MI.

Dr. Hans Rosling give you an outstanding visual representation of how our preconceived ideas, our ignorance, "drives" our lives and what you can do to try to bring process under rational control. He is professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Please go here for the video.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.8 Making A Difference


Charles Hart, Albernelle Hart, Myron Hills and other neighbors have made a big difference in David Lynn's life. Recently, Lynn found himself pinned under a car. Seeing that he was seriously injured, and not hesitating for EMTs to arrive, his neighbors moved the overturned car off of him and pulled him to safety.

Myron Hills, Ypsilanti Township, MI, put it this way,"If you see somebody in trouble, you know, you try to help them out. That's pretty much how I look at it. On a daily basis, whatever I do. It don't make no difference what it is. If I see somebody in trouble. If I can help 'em, I help 'em."




"Neighbors lift car off man after crash in West Willow", Darcie Moran, mlive.com,
22 Nov 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Something We've Never Had... Peace

Today, could We Please do something we've never done?
Give Peace a chance.

A Brief History of Peace
There has never been a time in the history of mankind in which we have had no wars, that is … violence, rape, pillaging, killing, slavery, economic subjugation, rebellions, crusades, and multiple holocausts.









Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Right-Side Up

So, your little grandson asks a simple question. Overcoming your concerns about jobs, college debt, the economy, foreclosures… you answer, ”Yes”. 

You remember. You probably asked your Dad the same question. But times were very different then. When you were a kid, you did have a chance at a decent job and an education, too. In fact, you were probably covered by your parent’s health insurance plan.

Things are upside down now. 


Monday, November 23, 2015

The Patriot's Pen

The Patriot's Pen
by David L. Dyer

What is it?  It is a nationwide youth essay competition sponsored by the VFW. It gives middle grade students the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This is open to all registered students in grades six through eight.


There are four levels of competition in this contest with the ultimate national award being $5,000 and an all expense paid trip to Washington, for the winner and a parent or guardian. It begins at the local post level and that is where I come in.  I was honored to be chosen post chairman for this event.

Our local winner advances to the district level and that winner goes on to the state and ultimately the national finals. There are monetary awards at each level.  Those who enter must write in their own words a 300 – 400 word essay on an annual patriotic theme which this year is “What Freedom Means to me.” I am happy to announce we will be sending six winners to compete at the district level. How is this possible? Enter Mrs Susan Dusute.

Susan, an English teacher has been with the Grosse Ile Schools for eighteen years with the past nine at the Middle School. When she first heard of this VFW project she thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for her students to learn about patriotism. She volunteered to head this program.

For the past three years I have noticed the increase in the number of essays submitted by the Middle School.  It couldn’t possibly get any better than this year. I asked Susan for a listing of the first and last names of all the participants to prepare the certificates. Each student who submitted an essay will receive a certificate that is well worth framing.

She handed me a list of each of her three classes. I took a moment to count them. The three of them added together totaled ninety two which is exactly the number of essays received. Yes, 100% of her students entered the contest. She must have a very special way of getting the message across.

When I discovered we could send one winner for each fifteen entrants and with the support of our VFW Post we decided to send six winners forward. During the first week of 2016 there will be a very special banquet for all the post winners. That is when the district winner will be announced.

I now take great pride in presenting our six winners. Each of them will receive a $100 first place award along with a participation certificate.

1. Jessica Schutt – Jessica is a repeat winner.  She won 1st place a year ago as a 7th grader.
2. Abigail Long
3. Grace Tylutki
4. Jane Ottenbreit
5. Carly Zimmerman
6. Mitchell Lewis

I will close with these words:  “Thank you Susan Dusute for your dedication and on behalf of our VFW Post 7310, I salute you.” davidldyer@gmail.com

*Ed Note: We chose to post David's article following the Patriot's Pen winners announcement in order to honor these outstanding young people and their outstanding educational professions, true mentors in education, English Teacher Susan Dusute and Principal David Tucker. - RB

Son, Please Don't Put Me in a Nursing Home



Friday, November 20, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.7 Gov. Mallory & the American Way

The other day Gov. Mallory reminded me why I'm proud of my country. It's when heroes like him display the courage to walk the path which our ancestors walked. That is ... the American Way... because it is the right way... the humanitarian way.

Toward the end of Gov. Dannel Malloy's press conference, when he announced that Connecticut would take a Syrian refugee family that was rejected from Indiana, he said:

"The attackers in Paris were from two countries. This is my own observation. They were from France and from Belgium. No governor, no member of Congress, no member of the Senate, no leader of Congress has said we should stop allowing people France or Belgium from coming into our country. Nobody."

To see video, go here.

Below is the editorial which appeared in the Hartford Courant.

Malloy Right To Welcome Syrian Refugees To CT
Hartford Courant, Editorial, Peter Casolino / Special To The Courant, 19 Nov 2015.

"France — despite everything — still plans to take in 30,000 Syrian refugees in the next two years. The least the Home of the Brave can do is take the 10,000 that President Barack Obama proposes, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is absolutely right to welcome them to Connecticut."

"Thus Connecticut became home Wednesday to a family of three from Syria who were turned away from Indiana after waiting for years in a refugee camp to settle in the U.S."

"The Paris attacks have evoked a mean-spirited and politically motivated reaction among some governors and presidential candidates against allowing any Syrian refugees into the country. Three dozen governors have said they don't want the refugees in their states, though the governors appear to have no legal authority to stop them from coming."

"The U.S. has a humanitarian obligation to help the millions fleeing death and destruction in a conflict this country was complicit in causing. We cannot wash our hands of the failed policies that gave rise to the Islamic State. And the vetting process is extremely rigorous; much more so than for, say, tourist visas. Of 23,000 refugees who applied to come to this country in 2014, only about 2,000 are here, Mr. Malloy said this week. Some of them fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State. How do you turn them away?"

"When this country succumbs to xenophobia, it does things it later regrets. Some Jewish refugees were turned away in the early 1940s, and Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were sent to internment camps, decisions that did not reflect our better nature."

"It is a dangerous world, beyond question, and we all must be vigilant. But rejecting refugees based on their country of origin is not American. If the get-tough governors are serious about reducing violence in this country, there's always sensible gun laws."




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sleeping Through YOUR Revolution

"I am sure that most of you have read that arresting little story from the pen of Washington Irving entitled "Rip Van Winkle." The one thing that we usually remember about the story is that Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years. But there is another point in that little story that is almost completely overlooked. It was the sign in the end, from which Rip went up in the mountain for his long sleep."

"When Rip Van Winkle went up into the mountain, the sign had a picture of King George the Third of England. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When Rip Van Winkle looked up at the picture of George Washington—and looking at the picture he was amazed—he was completely lost. He knew not who he was."

"And this reveals to us that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place that at points would change the course of history—and Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep. Yes, he slept through a revolution. And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution."


"For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Take part in YOUR Revolution.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We Are Winning… To The Victor Go the Refugees

Listening to a couple of mainstream news shows yesterday and today I was struck by how quickly Republican governors displayed their xenophobia with regard to settling already "vetted" Syrian refugees. The politicians wore their fear on their chests like a badge of honor all the while touting their newly discovered concern for their citizens' welfare.

It seems again predictable that on this issue, one which they have no constitutional authority and risk nothing politically, they have discovered their voice of concern.

Putting those observations aside for a moment, it is obvious that keeping war refugees out of the U.S. is simply stupid.

Why?

Well, in addition to the humanitarian reason, the first and most important reason, to settle refugees in the USA, it also is Realpolitik to bring as many as possible “vetted” refugees into the U.S. because they want a better life than they have had and they believe they will find it in America.

They have risked their lives for a chance to live as Americans.

Assuming we are “fighting” for the American Way of Life, then we have won these people over to it. Have we not?

That fact alone is the weapon the ISIS people can not overcome.

We should be welcoming these refugees with open arms.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Forgotten? Never.

As I raised our flag this morning in honor of Veteran's Day, I was once again reminded of my dad’s anguish that fall day in 1971.

Just home for a few days after becoming an officially minted “medic” at Fort Sam in San Antonio, I remember my dad talking with me. I was taken back... shocked... by his question because he had never mentioned his combat experience to me.

He had tears in his eyes when he asked me, a kid of 21 with no combat experience and no real medical training, if it could have been possible for him to have saved his best friend who had been shot in the chest while they manned a machine gun against a German Army attack. He propped his friend up in the back of their foxhole and kept firing the gun as they were nearly overrun. When he looked back a few minutes later his friend had died.

Overcome with empathy and love for my hero father, I knew he was suffering a traumatic loss he would never forget. He believed he could have done something more to have saved his friend.

To this day I cry for my father.

(I believe this incident occurred during the Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Dad's unit, the 80th Infantry Div., was one of the units fighting to relieve the 101st Airborne Div., which was surrounded and besieged in the City of Bastogne.)

(This article was originally published, 4 Sept 2012, following the Republican National Convention, when Gov. Romney claimed his "success" was totally his own doing.  - RB)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.6

It’s Friday!

Today’s random act of kindness is a little different from those I’ve posted in the past. This one is about bravery under fire and extraordinary courage.

Forty-eight years ago a helicopter pilot and his crew put their lives on the line at Song Tra Cau, Vietnam to bring 44 U.S. Army comrades out of harm's way.

“Under heavy enemy fire, Major Kettles selflessly put his life on the line to save his fellow service members,” said Peters, a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “(His) actions exemplified the valor, grit, and honor that makes our military the best in the world.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that while Kettles’ actions entitled him to the Medal of Honor, by law, the medal can only be awarded within five years of the valorous act for which it is being awarded, unless Congress waives the time limit.

Michigan Representative Debbie Dingle and Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow introduced legislation to waive the time limit today.

Go here for the whole story by Todd Spangler in the Detroit Free Press.

Being There


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Celebrate a Life-Affirming Choice

Today we offer a special treat...
A chance for you to celebrate your life...
with those who made their life-affirming choice to serve for you and your loved ones so you could have your turn with life, liberty and happiness. RB

16th Annual Meridian Veteran's Ceremony
Meridian School, Grosse Ile, MI
9am, 11 Nov 2015
By David L. Dyer

As a member of our local VFW Post 7310 I take great pleasure in announcing something that has become a tradition at Meridian Elementary School. That of course is what is now known as the 16th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration.

A couple of years ago I traced this back to it’s roots. Here is what I learned:  With Veteran’s Day approaching in the year of 2000, a woman named Judy Ventro wanted to do something to honor all veterans which would include her father Robert Wilson who is a veteran of World War II. Many years had passed and Veteran’s Day would come and go and be checked off the calendar as just any other day. Not realizing she was planting a seed that would grow to what it is today, Judy, who worked as a secretary at Meridian teamed with a colleague, Jo-Anne Gronlund and together they came up with a plan that honored not only Robert Wilson but all Veterans as well.

The next year came 9/11 and with the support of the entire community, a very moving event came about. This has continued every year since. I visited the school in September shortly after school began and the first person I saw was Denise Sertage sitting at her desk. When she saw me, her first words were “It is time for Veteran’s Day.”

Yes, a lot of time and extra effort are put into the preparation. I must cite the musical talent of Barbara Conroy. A very special thank you to the principal, Linda Solano and all the new personnel that have replaced the old throughout the years and have kept this tradition going forward. I would venture to say: “If they reach out to just one more person than the previous year, all of their efforts would be well worth it.”
I get goosebumps just walking with all the veterans through the center of that room surrounded by hundreds of children applauding our every movement.  It is heartwarming to know that these children at such a tender age are learning what Veteran’s Day is all about and how they must remember all those whose lives were taken to the horrors of war so we can live ours in ways of our own choosing.

I will close with these words:  So come out Grosse Ile, MI you are all invited to this production that brings not only the veterans but the entire community together.  It will be held at Meridian School on Wednesday, November 11, at 9am.

Following this will be our annual VFW Ceremony at 1PM at VFW Post 7310 on Macomb Street, Grosse Ile, MI. You are invited. Refreshments will be provided. Contact Dave: davidldyer@gmail.com

Monday, November 2, 2015

One-Winged Hawk

Early one morning before sun appeared to light the darkness, I walked a path into a beautiful glen.

I heard the mocking cries of crows as I approached closer. Then, out of the darkness, I saw a group of cages, each protecting wounded birds.

The occupant of one cage, the last one, was the subject of the crows’ vengeance. Several were standing atop the cage while others were flying near by — all screaming mocking calls.

As I grew closer the crows flew off.

In the sudden quite I approached the cage, at first seeing nothing inside. Then something moved and I caught a glimpse of white and brown as hawk slowly moved toward me.

I spoke to hawk and asked her why the crows were harassing her — crows outside — hawk defenseless and imprisoned.

She gave me no answer as we stood together in the early morning quiet… me, a defender and her, a prisoner.

I asked her again for the crows’ ire. Again she gave no response; but then she slowly turned on her perch, revealing that she had but one wing.

Some time later I emerged from a Native American Sweat Lodge. In near exhaustion I made my way home, collapsing into a deep sleep next to my bed.

I dreamed I was walking a path high in the mountains in the southwest desert. I was fearful that I would make a misstep and plunge into the deep abyss below.

Hawk came to me, there in my moment of doubt. She had grown her wing back and landed next to me. Looking deep into my soul she told me not to fear, take my next step and stay my path.

All will be right.

To this day hawk is with me. At times she comes to me in my dreams, filling me with her wisdom and strength. At times of decision making I look for her, knowing she will be there, somewhere close by – her, a defender and me, no longer a prisoner of my fears.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.5


It’s Friday!

Reaching out and helping another person is often a difficult thing to do. In today’s story a young man overcame some social ridicule to help a younger girl.

Here’s the thing…

 “A mom, moved by the unexpected kindness of a young man at an Ontario skatepark, penned an open letter earlier this month thanking him for the concern he showed her six-year-old daughter -- and for giving the little girl a much-needed boost of confidence.”

"I want to thank you for being kind to my daughter, even though your friends made fun of you for it," said Jeanean Thomas of Cambridge, Ontario.

Go here for the whole story.





Tuesday, October 20, 2015

$10 Misunderstanding


For me the lights came on when I took a required class at the University of Akron. Dr. David Riede taught Western Cultural Traditions for a bazillion years to thousands of students. He was the master at overcoming years of mind numbing high school history classes. In fact, right with the first hour of his class he had me hooked. That was no small accomplishment because Western Cult was one of those pre-recorded video class which were delivered to hundreds of students sitting in lecture halls around campus watching TV screens.

One of the ways Dr. Riede made history exciting was his ability to weave the personalities of historical figures into his lectures. Because of Dr. Riede, winter semester 1967 was the “ignition and liftoff” of my never-ending learning quest.

Dr. Riede passed a few years ago, so you’ll have to settle for looking at a few of his old videos, if the U of A still has them.

In the meantime, you can check out a version of Dr. Riede’s approach to making history come alive and throwaway your $10 misunderstanding of our Founding Fathers, too. (Hamilton's likeness appears on the $10 bill.)

Take a couple of days off and visit NYC. While you are there, see Hamilton, the smash hit Broadway musical.

Perhaps you'll free your "young, scrappy and hungry" self and make "your best shot". You still have time.
Go here for more.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.4

It's Friday!

Today's Act of Kindness comes to us from Metro Pittsburgh...


Nonagenarian-led group received a lunch treat

On a lovely fall day I went on an outing with my 94- and 95-year-old parents and their senior friends from Redstone Highlands in Murrysville.

Our destination was the Cracker Barrel restaurant in New Stanton. We all enjoyed a great lunch and happy conviviality.

The day was made even more enjoyable when we were told by our waitress that another customer had picked up the tab for our whole group. There were 10 of us, so this was not a small bill!

We wanted to know who to thank, but were told that this generous individual had already left.

So to the person who gave us this unexpected gift, please know that you put a smile on all our faces. We promise to pay this generosity forward when we see an opportunity.

My parents recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary, and this wonderful gesture reminded them how good it has been to spend those years together in the Pittsburgh area!

SHARON TRIMBLE BEATTIE
Wilkins

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Random Acts of Kindness
15 Oct 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ghost Projections


Rebel Music | Joan Baez: Rebel Icon
It is not often that I’ve admired how a speaker, celebrity or politician has handled hecklers or the noisy people who hate them. Usually the tactic of choice is to ignore the disruption and go on with the “show”.

While that may be a good move for the moment, it leaves the incident unanswered and the witnesses guessing if the disruptive element has a acorn of truth about them.

There is one case which deeply impressed me and clearly left the hecklers pausing to rethink their outrageously unfounded comments. (“Outrageous comments” from my perspective because I lived through the Vietnam War era and served in the U.S. Army.)

Could it be that the two hecklers in this case were projecting their own sins upon another person?

Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Here’s the story:

 “What would you do if you found yourself standing face to face with people bearing signs accusing you by name of killing babies and encouraging the shooting of American soldiers? Might you lose your cool? Might you get involved in an exchange that would ultimately lead to anger or descend into the shouting matches we've been seeing at so many Town Halls lately?”

“Not if you're Joan Baez, who, in the 50th year of her career, continues to live according to unshakeable ideals of non-violence and compassion in ways that should inspire us all.”


The Music of Joan Baez and Her Quaker Background, John Reeder, HubPages, 10 Oct 2015.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Am Because You Are

Nelson Mandela Was Only Removed From the US Terrorist List in 2008

“..although South Africa is liberated in terms of ending apartheid and majority rule, the old oligarchy and the economic organizations of the northern developed nations still primarily run the economy. Nelson Mandela (Madiba) was known for his humility as well as his unrelenting defiance of South African apartheid. It may have been inculcated in him in the tribal community in which he was raised, where leadership was by consensus, and the African philosophy of 'ubuntu' prevailed - "I am because you are.” Danny Schechter, Madiba A to Z, The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. Interview: “Nelson Mandela Was Only Removed From the US Terrorist List in 2008”, Mark Karlin, 6 Jan 2014, Truthout.

- More about Peace at encoreboomer/Peace.2 


Monday, October 12, 2015

Itty-Bitty Bit Out of Balance


In the good ole USA 158 families own our government.

You thought you were free, didn’t you?

Oh, my!

That’s 158 vs. 120 million families.

I’d say something is just an itty-bitty bit out of balance. Don’t you agree?

Go here for the New York Times story.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

On Being

Here is a thought-creating follow up on the Will Rogers quotation in DownriverUSA, 10 Oct 2015, from www.onbeing.org

Posted by Gary R. Baker

In Praise of Small Kindnesses
*Siri Liv Myhrom, 8 Oct 2015

Today’s is a soft meditation
in praise of the enormousness
of small kindnesses.

Like the café worker who waved enthusiastically
to my father as he walked in the door of the coffee shop
like she was expecting him,
like he was a regular in this hipster enclave
instead of a septuagenarian
in khaki shorts and white tennis shoes.

He met me here on my workday
so I could help him format a document —
something he couldn’t figure out how to do at home
no matter how many buttons he tried,
something my mother always did for him
in the decades after he gave up his trusty typewriter.
So he arrived at the coffee shop
             vulnerable and exasperated in that way
             that only technology can make us feel:
             like slow, dependent children — and
sorely missing my mother.

Like the barista who didn’t blink
when he ordered his coffee the wrong way,
when he said la-TAY instead of LAH-tey,
who took his order from our table
as if we were in a sit-down restaurant
and she was our waiter,
who smiled the whole time like a halo of warm light,
softening the space everywhere,
who made him feel like he belonged.

You cannot know how those small gestures matter,
unless you are him,
unless you are me, watching,
unless you see his shoulders relax,
             in that way that we can do only
             when we feel safe and seen enough to let go,
and his eyes dampen, the tiny liquid pools held in at the rims,
barely noticeable, as he smiles and says,
She always knew how to do this for me. For years she did this.
She would have been 69 today. How I miss her.

Please go here for much more and to comment

*Siri Liv Myhrom is a Guest Contributor to On Being and lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two young daughters. When she’s not working as a freelance writer and editor, she’s reading, writing, researching, and generally obsessing about human connection — how it works, why it doesn’t work sometimes, and how we can get more of it in real, transformational ways.



Friday, October 9, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness.3

It's Friday!
Time for another Random Act of Kindness... this one comes by way of Will Rogers... the humorist...not the Mr. Rogers... of Neighborhood fame. Here it goes:

"Don't let yesterday use up too much of today."

That's it...Go here for more

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Outreach

The other day a friend asked me, “Of all your skills which is your strongest?”

I thought a couple of seconds and answered, “Outreach. I have the ability to help others reach out.”

Outreach

How do you know when you have gotten your message through?
Perhaps you notice a glimmer of understanding in the eyes of the person or people you are talking with; or, your message is repeated; your product is purchased; a vote is cast in your favor; or, a donation is made to your cause.

Most people judge their success by measuring the obvious parameters which characterize one-way information transmission such as these. All of them require a nearly immediate conclusion in the sense that someone must do, initiate or say something before you believe you have communicated with that person and he or she actually understands what your are saying.

On one level that’s all that you may want to accomplish — one action or datum point racked up on your scorecard.

That’s fine.

However, if you plan to operate your business or nonprofit in the future there is much more that you need to accomplish.

More than a one-time sale, you need to ignite a sense of passion for your concept, cause or product. You need to bring 'em back for more.

There is only one way to do that…Outreach.

Outreach is a multi-lane superhighway of social interaction. Outreach requires that you speak with intelligence and hear with comprehension. All your senses must be tuned in to understanding, acting upon, meeting and exceeding your friend’s feedback message.

Communicating through Outreach, that is, truly getting your message into another's thoughts, requires more than making a casual effort. It requires that you travel 99.9% of the communication path to your friend, relative, customer, member or potential customer.

Then, if you succeed and your friend is open to hearing you, Outreach requires that your product, your service, your idea must be the very best product, service or idea available and obviously the best choice at a reasonable price.

Then and only then will you have earned the right to meet and exceed your friend’s needs and most importantly his expectations and trust in you.

Still, your work is not done. You must repeat the Outreach process again and again.

Only then will you and or your business or organization flourish.

Monday, October 5, 2015

For Humanity... it's Time


Spending trillions on war technology is an every year thing here in the USA. Likewise, every year, one can count on a large percentage of that money disappearing into bottomless holes located in some God forsaken places such as Afghanistan, Iraq or the bank accounts of connected contractors like Halliburton.

Still, once in a while, the wealth does end up funding mind-blowing hardware and unbelievable, science fiction-like killing tools through which we maintain our “influence” as the one and only global superpower.

Has the thought occurred to you what else we could do with a fraction of those trillions of dollars and a little, itty-bitty bit of that mind-blowing technology?

Well, perhaps we could apply a few of those killing dollars and some of that murderous technology to stopping the senseless murder of our children.

Doing so could slow our headlong free fall into the chasm of barbarism.

Jam Up the Works

You may not be aware of it, but our military and secret agencies can destroy missiles, rockets, boats, airplanes, mortar and artillery rounds with laser and other “beam” weapons. It’s also true that we can shoot microwaves at protesters, painfully heat their skin (accidently, of course, fusing their contact lens to their eyeballs) and force them to disperse.

Such is our power today that we can even cause targeted “subjects” to hear voices inside their heads (Sorry, tin hats are no protection.), manipulate weather, and even cause earthquakes. Even more frighteningly, we can cause atoms to “dissociate” on a molecular level, reducing steel, for instance, into nano-sized particles of “dust”; turning massive buildings into piles of talcum powder-sized particles carried away with the wind.

This “technology” exists.* It is under our nation’s control. Why then don’t we politely request that the “powers that be” use a bit of it for a preventative purpose?

Let’s start with something relatively easy: create a protective system which causes a rifle, shotgun, or handgun to misfire when someone attempts to use it in a school, retail store or public place.

Go here for the rest of the story:


Friday, October 2, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

It's Friday!!

I admit to being disenchanted with TV programming and "star" personalities... but, here's a random act of kindness shown by some celebrity types toward a brave, talented young person who overcame a life challenge one day not so long ago... Anna Clendening:



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top Ten Addictions

So, it's Wednesday... time for the newest addition to the Downriver USA blog... the I Knew That column.

While doing a little background work for a client, I stumbled upon an interesting website which listed the top ten addictions talked about on the Internet in 2014... thought you'd like to know:

Coffee: Caffeine, most commonly found in coffee, is an insidious addiction that affects many people in the U.S. According to research, up to 30 percent of people in the country drink six to seven cups per day. Make no mistake, caffeine is an addictive drug.

Gambling: According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 80 percent of adults have gambled once or more in the last year, with 2 percent having some type of problem and 1 percent being pathological gamblers.

Anger: This is otherwise known as aggression addiction, and is characterized by an individual dealing with his or her problems using anger. It’s a damaging coping strategy, and its potentially addictive nature earns it a place on the list.

Food: Food affects the brain chemistry in the same way that drugs do, and around 2 percent of Americans have a food addiction. About one-fifth of food addicts are obese, and the problem is more common in women.
T
he Internet: Internet addiction is an emerging issue, and it’s tied to many different types of Internet use. Social media sites present a problem because they allow individuals to socialize and receive “likes” and other forms of encouragement 24/7, but it’s also tied to pornography addiction through the widespread nature of online adult sites and services.

Sexual addiction: 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women are estimated to be affected by sex addiction. For them, sex becomes a compulsive behavior rather than a physical expression of love. Generally, these individuals have low self-esteem and cope with this issue by becoming dependent on the hollow boost of sexual encounters, whether it’s one night stands or a related issue like pornography addiction.

Alcoholism: Alcohol is the key legal drug of most societies around the world, and it’s important to remember that it is as addictive and deadly as most illicit drugs. Alcohol dependence costs the U.S. $170 billion per year.

Drugs: Both illicit and prescription drugs fall into this category (although technically, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine should too), with legal drugs being a particularly relevant problem in America at the moment. Opioid painkillers like OxyContin are notably contributing to a prescription drug abuse epidemic.

Nicotine: Given its own category because of the harm it can cause through smoking-related diseases and its widespread nature, nicotine is a highly addictive substance responsible for the suffering or death of over 400,000 Americans per year.

Work: Despite over-working being seen as a virtue by some, it can be a mental health condition, and a serious one at that. Some feel unable to stop working, and continue to do so despite consequences to their personal relationships and health. Like drugs, work addiction messes with brain chemistry and can lead to dependence.

Please go here for more information.
Top 10 Addictions in 2014: Sex Makes The List, Addiction.com 21 Nov 2014.
http://www.addiction.com/4249/sex-among-top-10-addictions/

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tipping Point



Last week Pope Francis visited the 9/11 Museum in New York City.

The New York Times published many photos, but the photo of a Bible fused into steel caused me to pause and contemplate. Just how does a Bible of paper fuse into steel without being consumed in the process?






Friday, September 25, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

It's Friday!

In honor of that famous getting’ ready day (that's the day before wonderful things to come) I’ve decided to post Random Acts of Kindness each Friday. Here’s the very first:



Now the story:

A string quartet found themselves caught in a traffic jam, then decided to do something about it...

There are few experiences on this planet more mind-numbingly frustrating, more head-poundingly excruciating than being stuck in traffic.

The boredom, the lack of a bathroom, the GIANT SNAILS. It's a thoroughly discouraging scenario that just makes you want to…

It's also a situation that hundreds of drivers on England's M5 — a 162-mile motorway in the southwest part of the country — were forced to deal with on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, when a vehicle carrying a half-dozen horses broke down just outside of the small town of Taunton. In the melee, one of the vehicle's equine occupants even managed to escape, leading to a complete standstill on one of the country's biggest highways.

Fortunately for a few dozen weary travelers, one of the cars stuck beside them just so happened to be carrying a professionally trained string quartet.

The quartet members, on their way back from a wedding and with little else to do besides twiddle their fingers, decided to liven up the tedious affair by playing a classic tune from their repertoire: Johann Pachelbel's "Canon and Gigue for three violins and basso continuo" (or Pachelbel's "Canon" for short).

The motorists nearby surrounded the quartet, whipping out their phones to record the impromptu performance as their anger gave way to euphoria. Helen Delingpole, a motorist from Wales, managed to capture the entire thing on her camera, which she later posted to Facebook.

"This is the best part of the holiday!" cheered one excited spectator.

When the quartet finished, they were met with a raucous applause that had violinist Lu Jeffery at a loss for words. "We have played some of the most incredible concert venues globally, and then one afternoon you play the M5, it all goes crazy," he said in a follow-up interview with The Telegraph.

It just goes to show the profound, mood-altering power that music can have in even the most turbulent of times, especially when combined with a random act of kindness.

A string quartet found themselves caught in a traffic jam, then decided to do something about it... Jared Jones, Upworthy, 24 Sept 2015.

Now, about that traffic jam at Grosse Ile Parkway and West Jefferson Ave....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Footprints in the Sand

“Lord, you said that once I decide to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there’s only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12

God be with you, Pope Francis, and with all of us throughout the world.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Much is Expected

Natural Rights.

You know we all have them not because some king said so; nor because we have a Declaration which declared them “inalienable” rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; nor because the Constitution guarantees them under the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, religion and press.

We have natural rights because we are humans living in this world.

Following the horrors of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt became the driving force behind the United Nations Human Rights Declaration (1.), which clearly identified natural rights as the birthright of people throughout the world, regardless of nationality, religion, race or ethnicity. 

Today, it is painfully clear that our political and corporate contender "leaders" have been drinking from the river Lethe. You remember Lethe from your Greek mythology class. That's the river of forgetfulness and oblivion. The point is that our contenders for leadership have forgotten that we all have natural rights, and perhaps we are more interested in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than never ending jingoism, puffery and nauseating billionaire butt-kissing.

Failing all this natural rights talk, perhaps, an old statement from a well known publication will get the message across from the 99.9% to the .1%:

“… For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48

So, as one of the “many” it's up to us to make a new declaration. Let's declare that anyone, who serves as a representative of the public, deals with public funding or an individual’s investments, or sells any product or service to the public - most especially global corporate CEOs and “C” level managers - must be bound to respect and honor the natural rights of people, including customers and employees not only in their home nation, but worldwide… globally, if you like. 

Finally, the ethics statements and mission statements of all of these "leaders" as well as every Global Corporation must declare and honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2.) and the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact (3.). 

The point is if you are charged with the honor of serving the people of the world as a public leader or global corporation leader, then you are personally bound to respect the natural rights of people throughout the world. Much is expected of you. And, as a contender for that job it's up to you to prove that you are worthy.

What do you think?

1. Brief background about The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

3. The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact:

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Zero Memory Factor

I’m willing to bet that you can’t remember something which you never experienced or learned.

Whatyasay? Will you take my bet?

This is just a guess, but I expect that’s what learning might be about. That is, making other people's memories real so that you can learn from them.

If you’re lucky you might stumble upon an outstanding teacher. It is possible that, he or she, could ignite the learning torch in you, making you knowledge-hungry.

You might get so charged up that you’ll even remember some things you learned and perhaps you’ll be able to apply your "learned" memories to your own life. If that happens, well then, you will benefit; your children will benefit and all the rest of us might benefit, too.

All this came flooding into my mind following one of those Republican "debate" escapades the other night.

All those people standing on a stage - trying to outperform each other.

One standout in particular seemed obviously delighted with his highly refined, grade school-age ridicule and insult skills.

And, why not? Ridicule and insults have served him well throughout his entertainment career, so why not use them to pave his way to the White House?

I’m suggesting that it is a fact that if one has never developed the presidential-level skills to accomplish substantive objectives or actually brought divergent groups together for common good, then one has no memories to draw upon. That is, nothing to remember... nor accomplished skills with which to build a nation's future..

However, what this person does have in spades is an incredible aptitude for ridiculing, insulting and skewering. Plus, galactic-level skills for running his businesses into bankruptcy all the while storing a few tons of gold in his basement vault.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vampire Debt Slayer

A friend’s casually tossed maligning comment led me to a research effort the other day.

His comment referred to the "Occupy Democrats" as illiterate.

Needless to say, while I immediately discounted his slur, the comment did cause me to wonder: What is going on with the Occupy movement?

I had not checked on them in a while. So, I decided to take a look.

To my surprise I discovered that the Occupy people, light years away from illiteracy, have launched multiple programs (1.) to help average, Joes and Janes – that is the 99.9% or Americans shed crippling vampire debt.

Since, at present, our predatory capitalistic society does not defend its citizens from the multiple blood-sucking, heinous, soulless elements which prey on the weakest, oldest and defenseless among us, it was a joyous moment to learn that the Occupy people have created Strike Debt (2).
62 percent of all bankruptcies are caused by a medical illness. (3.)1 in every 7 Americans is being pursued by a debt collector. (3.)An estimated 25 million adults will not take medicine as prescribed because they cannot afford it; others will avoid the doctor altogether. (4.)Student loan debt exceeds $1.2 trillion. (7.)
Further, I discovered, to what should be the everlasting delight of a few of my Republican friends, Strike Debt does the defending in an outstandingly capitalistic manner. Strike Debt uses our predatory capitalistic system for good rather than for sucking the very last drop of life blood out of its victims.

Now, that is absolutely fantastic!

Strike Debt, through the Rolling Jubilee Project, buys debt for pennies on the dollar – just like the debt collectors do. But instead of collecting it, Strike Debt abolishes it.

What an outstanding example of predatory capitalistic karma!

And, the story does not end there, by the way.

Strike Debt is credited as the source of at least one epiphany of sorts.

According to a recent Yes Magazine article, “… (Two) former debt collectors decided to ditch the Industry, buy up medical debt, and forgive it. Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico spent decades hounding debtors to pay their bills—until an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street inspired them to find a way to pay struggling people's debts.” (3.)

Ashton and Antico’s company RIP Medical Debt has abolished $17.6 million in debt.

How much debt has Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee Project abolished? $31,982,455.76

1. The Triumph of Occupy Wall Street, Michael Levitin, The Atlantic, 10 June 2015.
2. Strike Debt
3. Rolling Jubilee
4. These Former Debt Collectors Decided to Ditch the Industry, Buy Up Medical Debt, and Forgive It, Araz Hachadourian, Yes Magazine, 17 Aug 2015.
More about Occupy today:
5. Suit Says Police Violated Occupy Wall Street Protesters’ Constitutional Rights, Colin Moynihan, The New York Times, 13 Sept 2015
6. Occupy Wall Street
http://interoccupy.net/
http://occupywallst.org/
7. More about student debt:
How The $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents And The Economy, Chris Denhart, Forbes, 7 Aug 2013.

Friday, September 11, 2015

3,198 Cold Case Files

On this day, 11 September 2001, 2,974 human beings were murdered in New York City.
At the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. and on flights 77 and 93, 224 innocent human beings were murdered.

To this day, these crimes remain unsolved and the perpetrators continue to elude justice.

To this day we do not know who murdered them.
Nor do we know Why they were the murdered.

From New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, 3,198 cold case files remain open.
It's time we closed them. Don't you agree?

Go here for more of the story: www.ibfinvestigations.org

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why I Failed Typing Class

Having grown up in Akron, Ohio in the 50s & 60s gives me some “cred” about air pollution. 

Back then, with a bazillion rubber factories pumping noxious fumes into the air and toxic chemicals into the local streams, every Akronite was intimately aware of that burning coal and curing rubber fragrance. We were all experts then and we became even smarter later on as we began to understand that pollution was dangerous to our health.

Of course, today, there are no rubber or coal smells in Akron. The factories are long gone and thousands of jobs along with them.

Still we have pollution everywhere. 

Even on the beautiful island of Grosse Ile, MI, in the center of the International Detroit River Wildlife Refuge* we are showered with pollution every day. A vast assortment of toxic chemicals are still with us, including mercury from local power plants, dioxins, PCBs, human waste and much more. 
As Dr. Hartig explains, there is no doubt that considerable progress has been made, eliminating and / or mitigating pollution..

Yet the ill effects of pollution are still being uncovered.

For instance, did you know that breathing pollution can make your children dumber? Consider this from a recent Mother Jones article - Kids Who Breathe More Pollution Have Lower Grades, motherjones.com, Gabrielle Canon, 5 Sep.2015:

“A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.”

Now I know why I failed my typing class… not because I kept falling asleep... it was the pollution.

*Please read Dr. John H. Hartig’s outstanding article about the ecological recovery success story of the Detroit River and the rise of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge: The Return of Detroit River’s CharismaticMegafauna, Center for Humans and Nature.org. 7 Nov 2014 




Friday, September 4, 2015

Bizarro Life

A long time ago I was working nights for free at the University of Akron radio station. 

We played music that our faculty advisors thought was terrible. Believe it or not, one song, “Blowin' In The Wind”, was branded as a protest song. We played it, along with many others, anyway.

I especially remember Joan Baez's beautiful rendition playing and praying at the same time that we’d stop killing in Vietnam. My cousin was a POW, shot down over Hanoi.

Some of my friends had enlisted because they were going to be drafted anyway. Or, out of misplaced patriotism. Or, out of a desire to prove themselves… to ... who? Themselves, I guess. Any way, some never came home.

It was a time of active discontent. Students, and many others, protested the war in Vietnam, the draft and racial injustice. I remember during one final exam the building next door, Buchtel Hall, the university’s main administration building, erupted into flames and the Ohio National Guard was called in to take back the campus from the Black United Students (BUS) protesters.

I failed the exam. I couldn’t concentrate.
I can’t blame all of my failure on the fire or the fact that the professor wouldn’t let us leave the building when the fire alarms went off.

No, the fact was that over the previous weeks I didn’t study as much as I should have. I was too busy becoming a broadcaster, like my hero, Walter Cronkite.

Besides not studying, we student broadcasters did manage to get into trouble once in a while. For instance, someone protested our playing Jose Feliciano’s version of the National Anthem before a U of A football game. We were threatened with suspension if we didn’t stop playing it.




Looking back on the “life lesson”, I know that we just liked the way he sang from his soul. We weren't participating in the times nor were we trying to make the world a better place. Little did we know that the song would become the center of controversy. (See below.)

Many things are bizarro … war for instance. As my dad once said to me, when I was walking out the door to enlist with my friends, ”Just wait, Ron. Like after all the wars, in a few years we will be selling things to the North Vietnamese.”

Another one, back in the 1970s, the Supreme Court ruled against same sex marriage, issuing a one sentence ruling: “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.”

This week, the Supreme Court declined to confirm a Kentucky County Clerk’s religious exemption defense for not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The justices denied her request without explanation in a one-line order.

It’s good to remember that life does change. Sometimes even for the better, too.

From Feliciano's website:


"Puerto Rican blind singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano stunned the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, and the rest of America, when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before Game 5 of the World Series between Detroit and St. Louis. The 23-year-old's performance was the first nontraditional version seen by mainstream America, and it is generally considered the Lexington and Concord of Star-Spangled Banner controversies. The fiery response from Vietnam-weary America was not surprising, considering the tumultuous year for American patriotism. Good or bad, however, Feliciano's performance opened the door for the countless interpretations of the Star-Spangled Banner we hear today."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grosse Ile Community Communications Center

At the request of a couple of citizens, I've caved in and created a representation of how the Grosse Ile Community Communications Center, at the intersection of Grosse Ile Parkway and West Jefferson, might look in operation...


Please click here to view a large, still image in PDF format.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ugly Billboards

I hate those ugly roadside billboards. Don’t you?

Take for instance those at the intersection of Grosse Ile Parkway and West Jefferson. They look particularly ugly to me.


Not only are they an ancient advertising tool out of the 1950s, they are often poorly designed and seldom changed. That represents a problem because I often spend a great deal of time waiting for the turn signal to change in my favor or for the “free” bridge to allow traffic to pass.


There is an alternative. Tear them down and landscape the area! That’s my first choice.

But, knowing that the signs represent easy revenue for the owner, I propose an alternative… replace the dinosaurs with new technology… digital displays. The owner’s revenue stream will be greatly increased by rotating the ads and a new medium…community outreach messaging … will be greatly appreciated by the travelin’ public.

What are your thoughts?