Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

When Fox bests PBS

I woke from an Alzheimer’s fighting nine hours of sleep this morning. Its about time. Four and five hours for a week straight doesn’t do it. Holed up upstairs away from the ongoing work in our kitchen Claudia and I had a long conversation about a couple television shows and a great summation about Harry Truman and the logs in some people’s eyes. This post will cover the unlikely butt whooping we saw in television programming last night.

On Sunday nights Claudia and I get together at our daughter’s house and watch TV. The nights usually begin with kid watching then moves on to Adult PBS watching. Kid watching has meant Stranger Things and the Tic in recent times followed by Masterpiece Theater. Last night it was reversed and we began watching Grantchester on PBS a series that has been OKish. I’ve been irritated by it because its flawed hero, an Anglican minister, is given a pass because of his experiences in World War I. His parish is Grantchester, hence the name, and like Agatha Chisties hamlet no end of murders take place there.

Last night we could not endure it when the 1960’s Grantchester was visited by a black minister and his family. I won’t bother explaining how daft the premise was but we drew the line and the latest sexual encounter this self righteous minister had, this time with the black daughter of the minister the night after her brother is murdered by some supposed English Racist. It crammed five decades and two continents of black/white relations into a sorry justification for an improbably unchristian act of sex……off screen but obvious enough when the minister’s friend the cop said with disgust “you screwed her.”

It was time for some kid watching to take our youngest grandson’s eyes off of awful. And I had a brainstorm. Malcolm in the Middle.

A quick check confirmed that it could be livestramed from Hulu for which my daughter and son[-in-law have a subscription. It came out the year after my daughter graduated from highschool but I recall watching it with our son a few years younger. It was one of the few things we did together. Malcolm is the fourth wall breaking middle child of a not quite dystopian wacked-out family. There was some off screen sex in this program too but it was more achingly ridiculous than Grantchester’s gratuitous steam.

As I said we had a long lively talk about this and enjoyed laughing through three episodes in a mini binge with our grandsons. They were the perfect age to watch four television brothers fight and scheme against the world and each other. As with the Simpsons, Fox provided a little anti-venom to its scurrilous political broadcasting designed for Alzheimish baby boomers.


Bye Jupiter!

Bob King is a nice addition to WDSE’s portfolio. Today I saw the Trib’s retired photog explaining where we would see Jupiter this evening. I found it in UMD’s tall sculpture. I was too late to catch it in the picture because a cloud’s nose rushed over to hide it before I could get my cell phone out.

I took the walk to loosen up after spending nine hours today painting. First I spent four hours at church priming and painting windows then I came home and painted walls of our kitchen just before the appliances and granite are brought in. The walk did me good. It cleared my mind.

A couple of annoyances have bedeviled me in recent days. Somehow I got locked out of my blog stats. I had to get a new password and just now used it to see how many visits I’ve had since I got frozen out. I’ll never know. I found that five days worth of stats were completely erased as though no one visited from June 4th through 8th. Then the blog got 12,000 pageviews on June 9th. Sweet.

That’s all for now. I’ve got some reading to do.

Harry’s Diary 7-19-2019

I probably lost close to a dozen posts with my early morning mishap. I don’t recall which ones I lost. But as with the preceeding post about my clean sidewalk I need to do some catching up.

I have found a wonderful source of information which will speed along my book writing by thousands of pages a day. That’s good because I’ve been busy with my life as well. Our kitchen is being remodeled. It resulted in a three day wiring mixup that cost us three night without electricity on our second floor. That issue was solved and we will get a three week hiatus while we wait for our new appliances to be delivered. We are living out of a small fridge upstairs for the moment and doing dishes in the bathtub.

I have done gardening and storm window replacement at our church. 96 windows in all and we are down to about 70 left to do. Its fussy work with re-caulking and priming and repainting. I spent two mornings on it this week. I’ve been so busy that I forgot I had to turn in a questionnaire to the Central Labor body for their candidate endorsement screening last night. They let me turn it in late and screen which I appreciated. I won’t get the endorsement. Never have. I just like to make it clear I am a friend.

One question I was asked was whether I would meet with labor if they wanted to talk. I was unhesitating. Of course. Ironically, I tried to meet with the President of the Duluth Federation of Teachers a half dozen times on my most recent Board term. I was politely refused a chance to meet every time.

Oh and here’s a robin just finished with bathing in our birdbath this morning:

13 cents to Furious Hours

I’ve been attending to the necessary errands of life all day so, other than my thirty minutes of French Study this is the first time I’ve been able to open the computer. The fiscal part of this post’s title refers the the vast haul of money I found on the parking lot when I went to buy a chocolate covered roll at Mt. Royal. As soon as I pocketed it I realized it added up to that unlucky sum. Two nickles, three pennies. Then I crossed over to check my PO Box which had not yet gotten any thing other than come ons from sellers of political detritus.

Got my first book order with Five dollars to spare. I’m not superstitious.

The end of the title refers to the book I heard someone rave about on NPR and which I immediately ordered Claudia to download. She just started it and is mesmerized. Its about the last real life story that Harper Lee failed to publish a book about. Its about a serial killer.

I wish I had time to read it to her.

Between these events I helped a little with the moving in of new cabinets to our kitchen.

I entertained my grandson. I did some yard work. I mopped up water from the recent storm in my basement. My gutters were plugged. I got rid of my darned 2017 campaign Facebook Page. I hooked up air conditioners. Picked up sheet music for a duet to sing at church with my daughter, bought new LED lights for the basement and a new dehumidifier. And oh yeah. At 4 AM I wrote something else but I’ll be darned if I can recall what it was just now. Ah. I see its just after ten PM. Time for me to feed Moloch. (my cat)

Aw Shucks. I just remembered I promised to paint Church windows tomorrow. I’ll be thinking about my book.

33 Emails

I am both writing my book (for the campaign and the world of education) and organizing my vast collections of source material.

In Jupiter Florida I organized almost 400 notes to myself on my cell phone. Just a couple hours ago at 4AM I woke with a bug to write about myself with a heavy dose of confident self deprecation. I was momentarily distracted by thunder boomers which dropped an inch and a half of rain on me. Then I wrote about my non fans in the family then my cat bugged me for food at 5:45 so went down and splashed across my basement to do so. Then I mopped up the basement. Darned rain . My gutters seem to be blocked up.

Now an hour later I am back in bed and have figured out how to email the 33 notes to myself that were meant to be fodder for the book. I am making progress. The day we flew back to Duluth I managed to read about a quarter of my earliest Not Eudora Columns . I enjoyed them all. A few will make it into the book.

I am enjoying this.


Campaigning in Florida

Its an otter. He was sunning himself by the lake at my father-in-laws. I’ve been visiting his place for years. I always wondered if an alligator would show up but today we got an otter. It slid back into the water when a mosquito control vehicle sped past.

The Palm Coast is having the hottest June weather since 1944. Thank goodness for AC. I hid from mother nature and stuffed 170 fund raising envelopes. They will probably make it to Duluth from Florida about as fast as if I’d mailed them from Duluth. I finished editing the letter in Jupiter, printed it and ordered envelopes and address labels. My letter invites potential contributors a book in 100 days by me about my attitude toward and experience with public education. All of the addressees have contributed at some time to previous campaigns. About 70 of the addressees ordered a book about the Red Plan that I never completed. I found the records which listed to whom I returned $700 in refunds since I gave up on writing the book.

I don’t plan on refunds this time.

New blog category – School Board 2019

As I was cleaning my office today I found this stuck behind my books:

This was sent to me by the Minnesota State School Board’s Association a few weeks after I left office in 2018. It was supposed to be presented to me at their January convention. I got it in the mail instead. 300 points is a lot of time spent learning about Minnesota’s School Boards. It was presented to me for twelve years of very active participation in the state school board organization. I know my stuff.

What an ironic waste to have kicked me off the Board because 2017 voters wanted someone reliably Anti-Trump. Heck, I’ve been fending off our district’s own brand of Trumpishness for the past decade. I was the quintessential Anti-Trump. I still am.

Today, I finally completed my long overdue 2018 finance form. (Easy Peasy. I didn’t do any fund raising for the School Board last year) I bought a PO Box for Welty for School Board. I wrote a press release for tomorrow. I sketched out a first fundraising letter. I’m just about ready. I just need to scratch up the 2 bucks for a filing fee. Wish me luck.

The last day to file is tomorrow.

Always tell the Truth. Another recycled Welty column from . . .

. . . my first farewell to readers of Not Eudora in 2006. I’ll be writing another such column for next week’s Duluth Reader.

“. . . Always tell the truth like Mark Twain did.

“Twain, who was not always right, is nonetheless the most celebrated truth teller in American literature. Not just any author can, a hundred years after committing his words to paper, make a high school junior burst out laughing during study hall and earn the dirty look of his school’s most feared teacher. After this happened to me it’s no wonder that I’ve been a Twain fan for life.

“Culled from his voluminous writings are more witty and wise aphorisms than you can shake a dead cat at. I’ve contemplated two of them in particular for years. The first is undeniably true: “Always tell the truth. This will gratify most people and astonish the rest.” I have tried to follow this advice for years as it echoes another great moralist, Jesus of Nazareth, who said the same thing somewhat less flippantly: “the truth will set you free.”

“And like Jesus who used the shorthand fiction of parables to tell his truths so too did Twain use fiction to tell the truth. Those who doubted that black slaves were the equal of their white masters would certainly have been chagrined at the depiction of Miss Watson’s slave, Jim, risking his life to gather up the family that his kind masters had sold away from him. The readers who were annoyed with Twain’s depiction of Jim’s nobility were just like the Pharisees who could not see holiness in the much despised and heretical “good Samaritan.”

“But then there is this contradiction from Twain: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

“I’ll let the people who live in black and white and who war with the dangers of “relativism” wrestle with this advice but I adore it. Our best truth tellers often lie with their fiction to tell truths that ten truckloads of Fox News couldn’t convey

“I wrote a while back that I was taking another giant of the nineteenth century, Abe Lincoln, with me to an unexpected place. Let me add that I’m also planning to take Twain with me to the same destination. And here’s a little sample: I’m going to win this race for Congress.”

Wish me luck . . .

CLeaning up my “one step back.” Or, if you’re not my fan wish me ill. No matter which it is for you today I hope to get a good grip on my near daily “one step back” which always seem to seriously deduct from my “two steps forward.” Ms Kondo has a point. Clutter is mentally distracting, inefficient and sometimes a hazard. Since I made use of the inheritance from my Mother to transform our dingy attic into an office where I could put 68 years and more of the documents I’ve been unwilling to dispose of I’ve been trying to organize them. I know now that I’ll be doing it until I die…..roughly thirty years from now. I’ve always planned to live to be 100. My biggest long term challenge will be to fend off Alzheimers which took my Mother fifteen years after creeping into her creativity.

Like many people I have so many projects its hard to put them away before I start the next. I’ve been fighting various piles of paper for years in my office and tucked them away only to pull out more papers from what has been filed to create more clutter. A year ago Continue reading

On my mark, Get set…….

I have a week to organize myself for my school board campaign. I’ll have two shots at a Reader column before its publisher cuts me off as a candidate. I sent one in today. It contains a cartoon I drew borrowing heavily from a children’s illustration. I figure that I’ve had a year to undo the damage Donald Trump inflicted on my school board campaign in 2017 by leaving Duluth’s outraged voters under the mistaken impression that by voting against me they were voting against Trump. Actually, I have enjoyed my vacation from the School Board and the Superintendent. Thank you Donald.

Here’s the cartoon. You will have to wait until the Reader comes out to see how its used.

Since the blog will be my daily contact with voters I’ve gotten interested in seeing how much attention it attracts by analyzing this year’s blog stats. Although less than half complete June is by far the most visited month for a long time, maybe ever. I’ve averaged 4,674 page views a day. And each “pageview” includes twenty posts.

In looking at my blog I checked out the very first post from March of 2006 where I declared my separation from the Republican Party. I also just discovered a post meant to be a quick reference to finding stuff on my first website:

I had 43,421 pageviews in 5 months in 2006. . .

. . . when my blog was new. That was from August through December. In the first ten days of June 2019 I’ve had 48,005 pageviews.

Actually, for my blog’s first five months, March 7th through July, no statistic engine was keeping track of my hits. That didn’t start until August of 2006.

If you’re curious here is my very first post on March 7th where I declare my departure from the Grand Old Party. Donald Trump has brought me back with a vengeance.

What does 10,538 pageviews yesterday mean?

For those new readers joining my “eight loyal readers”……

I’m no Mark Twain. I’m no David Brooks. I’m not Sam Cook. (Duluth News Trib readers will know who he is…..although we’ve been confused for each other on occasion and we were both born in Kansas)

I’m a fellow who is addicted to knowledge (In high school I learned about Faust and his bargain with the devil to become omnipotent) At about the same time I clasped Socrates’s maxim to heart – “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m a politician, a teacher, and a writer and I won’t shut up in any of these endeavors. And furthermore, in all of these endeavors I’m guided by my addiction to knowledge and my daily fight against ignorance……especially willful ignorance….such as…..“I know you may be right but I find you so annoying that I’ll be damned if I’ll admit it” ignorance.

Its this last kind of ignorance that particularly troubles me. Its the sort of ignorance that leads to war and its bounty of death and destruction. Ironically, like a good fight sometimes war cleans the deck. But in today’s age on the verge of a Sixth Extinction or worse backing away from this kind of ignorance is particularly important.

In this I am right behind the next generation of young people abandoning the Republican Party. I have far more faith in them to protect my grandson’s future than the Alzheimers Network’s (Fox News) voters. The GOP’s favorite media lives by the same dim witted mantra as Donald Trump. “If Black Lung is good enough for West Virginia its good enough for America.”

Before I return to my message to new readers just let me mention one more Trump Era excrescence (that’s a fifty cent word for shit) Australia which is being hit harder by Global Warming than any other part of the Earth than the poles and killing off the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef just elected a Trumpian who wants to ignore the enviorment and sell more coal to China. How is China going to use this bounty. Its about to build 145 coal burning electrical generators in African and Asian nations even while China is shuttering its own coal-fired plants that made its capital the smog capitol of the world for the last twenty years. There are no words for such folly.

I write to be noticed. I write to win elections. I write to win hearts. I write to make people think and just maybe to show off 68 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. I try to write with some with and good cheer. The topics, being all to tangled with human ego, are not necessarily funny…….certainly not planetary extinction.

So, yesterday I had over 10,000 pageviews. I presume that’s largely because I put lots of links to previously well read posts. I’m adding more. The Trump ignoring editors of the Duluth News Tribune are a little sensitive about my criticism. I don’t know if they will be willing to endorse me. I don’t think its much of a problem if they don’t. BUT…..I have my work cut out for me this year. Two years ago I was not reelected to the Duluth School Board by a ton of anguished voters who thought by voting me off they were rescuing Duluth from Donald Trump. Ignorance is such a bummer. Curing it takes daily, hourly work.

And my beef isn’t with the Reporters of the Trib. Heck a couple days ago one of the reporters who covered me on the Duluth School Board gave me the friendliest call out as she drove by my front lawn. Nope. Its the poor editors under the thumb of a Koch-like media operation. They find me prickly.

10,538 pageviews means I’m not dependent upon the editors of the Duluth News Tribune to explain how crazy I am. I can do that myself just fine…..thank you very much!

No more Arbor Vitae

A large part of the hours I’ve spent on my yard involved removing two arbor vitaes which stood sentinal above our back patio for two decades. This shows their replacements two spindly pea bushes from a rank of pea bushes. The spindly ones had grown feeble as other trees overcrowded them. Now they will have a chance to fill out a bit. Cleaning the stones at their base turned out to be the most time consuming part of the work. Once laid on a still existant plastic sheet to discourage weeds I found about an inch of rich soil under and between them which I was eager to wash off so that no new weeds would take root immediately.

My intention with this heavy duty gardening now early in the season is to clear the decks so that I can campaign vigorously for the School Board election. We’re down to annuals now although Claudia is hoping to attract orioles to a new bird feeder she bought. They are in town but I haven’t seen one in about forty years when we set out oranges for them in Western Duluth.

Gardening – minus 101

My lackadaisical view of gardening was cemented in my head forty years ago when I read an article in one of my American Heritage magazines. I recall it showing a fellow pushing an old rotary lawn mower much like the one I acquired when we bought our first home. Yeah, I know. Sounds as ancient as a crystal set.

I’m not sure which era it highlighted. It might have been the 1920’s or the 1950’s but which ever time period it was it described a mania for keeping up one’s lawn that continues even today. Eager for excuses to shirk yard work I think long and hard every time I look at Lake Superior from my sun roof. When I apply fertilizer to my yard I think about phosphates draining into the waters below and something that was once never seen in Superior – algae blooms. As a high school kid in over-fertilized, farm-centric Southern Minnesota I remember swimming in lakes so thick with algae that it looked like you could play Jesus and walk across them. And of course some blooms kill dogs who drink their water like the Red tides that wash up on Gulf Waters.

When my wife was corporate and I was busy running for office every year and everyone knew where we lived because of my snow sculptures she caught grief at work every spring because it looked like dandelions held our front lawn together. Her self consciousness made me self conscious. I began, and continue, to remove them by hand. And the whole lawn is rutted because of my early and spring snow sculpting which leads to my clomping around on thin snow that cuts into the earth below. This year I’ve been trying to clean up the front yard I couldn’t mow because the county was fixing up fourth Street. And global warning may be responsible for a massive infestation of creeping charlie in my front yard. I associate this weed with my childhood in Kansas. I’ve been pulling it out by hand. I’m going crazy cleaning up my strawberry/raspberry patch. I’ve cut my grass to a near balding golf course height and sewn new grass seed. And there’s my back yard too.

In back I removed one arbor vitae damaged by a Globally warmed October and replaced it with a spindly pea shrub from elsewhere in our garden. That took two long days. I have one more such exchange to make (the remaining tree in the picture above). I am doing all of this to free up my summer to campaign for the school board. Only I will be campaigning in my own unique way……by blog and by mail. After 17 campaigns over 40 years I figure that there are only a few thousand houses in Duluth whose doors I have not yet knocked on. I will not be getting plantar fasciitis like I did in 2017. Walking 30,000 steps daily so crippled me that I lost two weeks of door to door week by the end of the campaign.

As for my front yard. Without corporate types teasing her about my dandelions this year Claudia has expressed concern about my picking the dandelions out for my front yard. Now, with all the stories about the environment, she is worried I’m shortchanging bees by taking out one of their best early season sources of food. I’m heartless. I captured a stingless bee a couple days ago and fed it to my grandson’s Venus fly trap. All nature needs nurturing.

Memorial Day Remembrance

At noon I put up our US flag for Memorial Day. I’m not a fanatic about following the rules or it would have gone up at daybreak. I hope my Grandfather would forgive me. I don’t know if he put up a flag every patriotic occasion or not but there is no doubt he was a patriot. I lived in his shadow as a child. I haven’t read through these five posts to confirm it but it appears I might have told this story on the blog five previous times. When I was little and scraped a knee and came looking for my Mother’s solace she would tell me “Don’t cry Harry. Your Grandfather was shot in war and he didn’t cry.”

BTW – That’s such a tough love piece of advice that as an adult I took great delight in quoting it back to my Mother to embarrass her. And she was embarrassed. I’m chuckling at the remembrance now.

But I’ve only come to more deeply respect my grandfather, George Seanor Robb, as the years have passed. This blog has ample evidence of that and this post is just the latest. I’ve been thinking all through the Trump years that writing a book about him would be a good antidote to the Trump contagion. Damn me for my tardiness. I hope to start writing it after the Fall School Board election. Before that I’m hoping to publish another book.

George Robb used his prestige as a Medal of Honor Winner for good. As a big shot Kansas State Auditor he was asked by his Alma Mater for their advice on whether to admit a Japanese student during the Second World War when all Japanese-Americans in the continental United States were being put in internment camps. Here’s the post about the letter he wrote Park College.

In recent years little Park College has honored my Grandfather by setting up the George S. Robb Center for the Study of the Great War. If you follow that link you will see pictured African American men who served with my Grandfather in the trenches of World War I. Following that war my Grandfather was generous in his praise of his fellow comrades at arms. After the war racist Americans bent over backward to besmirch their reputations as fighting men.

Today the GSR Center is spearheading a long overdue evaluation of warriors who were denied the nation’s thanks for their valor and service.

Writer’s Shock

The only writer’s block I ever suffered from was when I was afraid to write. My guide for this was the old maxim: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” In checking for the source of this quote google attributed it to my hero Abraham Lincoln although I also saw that Mark Twain might be a possibility for another attribution. So before I launch into the meat of this post a couple stray thoughts.

1st. In my case I had lousy handwriting which I used to disguise my poor spelling. When I was young I felt that spelling must be the proof of intelligence and as a poor speller I didn’t want to show my shortcomings by writing. What I had yet to learn was that the key, at least for me, to confident writing would be editing, editing, editing. Ironically, I was the “pronouncer” at our regional spelling bees for about fifteen years running.

2nd. Abe Lincoln, now famous for his literary skills, gave the public plenty of literary ammunition to confirm his foolishness. Perhaps, like in my case, this was a result of his extreme self consciousness about what he felt to be his impoverished education.

If anything when I stop writing here in the blog it leads to a build up and bloat of ideas. Its more of a shock than a block. To remove some of the Lincoln-like clutter, (He kept notes in his hat) of paper scraps, I now dash off ideas in my cell phone’s messaging ap. I lost hundreds of these notes when I replaced my phone nine months ago but in my new phone I’ve got several hundred new ones. Some of them may find their way into my future writing.

Over the past two weeks I’ve had about seven ideas for a new Not Eudora column that have made it to my messaging ap. I’ve chosen to write about space today for this week’s Reader. At the end of this post I’ll share the notes I may use in cobbling together today’s column. The deadline was moved up a day for the beginning of the summer run.

If I get it written I still hope to write something about my empty “baby killing” post from a couple days ago. Its no longer just me. Dim but self righteous Republicans are rousing a great sleeping beast with all their recent posturing about saving rape fetuses. Heaven forbid that future Supreme Court justices lose the children that they tried to impregnate their victims with.

Nuff of that:

Here’s the raw ore for today’s column. I hope I can refine it into something thought provoking: NOTE: I’ve made no changes. This is what my hastily written notes look like at 3 in the morning when I roll off my pillow to tap them into my cellphone

Continue reading

Polymet posting delay

I tempt fate whenever I post a title with no content. The question is whether I will care enough about the subject after titling it to fill it out with my thoughts some days afterward. On the preceding Baby killer title I sure do intend to get to it. Getting called a “baby killer” at Republican conventions stiffens one’s spine.

But, I’m biding my time as the Alabama legislature does its best to make sure that the rape fetuses of future Supreme Court nominees are guaranteed the chance to be born. Precious semen. I read one proposed law would outlaw onanism. Let me check that. Yup. Seems to be true.

Today I visit Polymet. As a quicky candidate for Congress last summer I took no stand on copper-nickle mining. The schools took up too much of my time to properly research this issue in the past. But now will be a good time to put more time into the subject. My men’s church group wrangled an invite to tour the Polymet site. I’ll have a few questions.

Lately, I’ve done little with the diary part of this blog. Last friday I healed a major break in my family that I’ve obliquely mentioned in the past. Life is good. Rain didn’t delay our grandson’s Leif Erickson park music gathering yesterday and it looks sunny for my trip to the range today. Life is good…….even for baby killers.