Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

Ideas when they are like mosquitoes

I’ve been spilling my thoughts out the past couple days with the same sort of orderliness one slaps oneself while standing in a swarm of mosquitoes. Reading four non-fiction books in short order has only added to the swarm of ideas that I’ve been swatting at. The 1920 Book has taken me through the GOP’s Chicago convention and dropped me off in San Francisco about to follow the Democrat’s quagmire. The book on China today left me with a rebuttal of sorts to my recent suggestion that a China that can’t take a joke (or criticism) can’t hope to surpass America. In fact, the last chapter described a millennial who has been dissing Chinese culture and politics for eight years and has a huge following on the Internet. Of course, the Chinese Communists are now insisting on choosing Hong Kong’s new leader twenty years after Britain handed its old colony back to the Mainland. (Claudia reminded me that we were in England with our kids when that took place.)

Today, I hope to get two things done. I’d like to read some more about 1920 America. In much the same way that visiting Israel last year put a match under my toes to finally read the Old Testament I’m getting more serious about reading good historical books about every decade from my Grandfather’s birth in 1887 until my youth when he advised me never to vote for a Democrat.

To that end I have a number of books I’d like to dig into. Next I may read the rest of Mr. Speaker. I only got through the first 79 pages of the 378 page tome five or six years ago…wait…Ah my search engine found it….three years ago. Thomas B. Reed brought order to chaos during the Gilded Age taking an unruly House of Representatives, not unlike today’s, and putting it to good use before its members spit him out like a prune pit. This was a time when America had relatively weak Presidents and the Robber Barons were in charge. Reed has always interested me since Junior High when I read John Kennedy’s spare history Profiles in Courage and saw Reed awarded one of JFK’s nominations for greatness.

The other thing I’d like to do is find the bass parts for tomorrow’s sing-a-long at St. Scholastica. They are on the Internet and I’d like to get in a little practice. I have the sheet music but I learn better by ear.

I also have to add one more post about another difficulty the old Red Plan school board has placed on the current board’s shoulders. That’s next.

Paranoia Pt 1


ph Philippines ph…… 13,847.. 14,925…. 296.13 MB

us United States us… 6,761…. 12,671….. 436.29 MB

cn China cn…………….. 2,858….. 2,872….. 13.08 MB

Looking at my blog stats this morning put this frosting on the cake of my thoughts about paranoia. a subject occasionally touched in this blog. Its been sort of a lifelong nuisance nipping at my heels. My son is inclined to think there was a conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination. I think the only conspiracy was the rush to hide the intelligence services ineptitude in hiding their role in keeping track of assassin Oswald. But that’s OK. He gave up on social sciences long ago so he’s welcome to whatever theories about politics he wants.

So, about these stats.

These are the top locations that viewers of my blog are hailing from. They don’t necessarily represent human eyes. For instance I can think of no good reason many people in the Philippines would visit my blog other than by accident. Most of the numbers “pages” and “hits” represent Internet robots searching for whatever they have been programmed to take note of. Perhaps the Philippines has lots of servers for clients all over the world. I think the stats from the US represent a much closer tie to my actual readers most of whom presumably come from Duluth. As for China…….

Well, I haven’t forgotten recent posts about the books I’ve been reading about China. They have emphasized what I’ve heard in the news. China does a very thorough job of scrubbing things out of the Internet that they don’t want chinese citizens to read and chief among these would be any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. Well, if the Chinese paranoia police are anything like the Trumpista’s hope to be, able to spot any anti-americanism on Muslim’s Internet connections they may have already noted my visa application to visit China and paired it to my blog. I doubt that they have……..yet……..but who knows.

If I was a Syrian wishing to get a green card to the US I’d be out of luck. As a tourist wishing to spend some of my Greenbacks sailing down the Yangtze, well maybe the Chinese would let me in.

I’ve got a meeting in half an hour to deal with paranoia in Duluth……lets see if I can get a start on paranoia #2 before I have to leave.

Flint – lost and found

A few weeks ago I gave my youngest grandson a small box of arrowheads for show and tell. Five were black flint found near Assaria, Kansas, on or near my Great Grandfather’s farm by my grandfather and his older brothers. One was a dubious arrowhead I found as a kid on a beach at a Topeka, Kansas, reservoir. The last was a white flint arrowhead I found in a state park in Arkansas. Apparently they came home but where they are now is anyone’s guess. They were lost track of and I am trying to reconcile myself to their loss. They were just stuff as they were to the Native Americans who left them behind. But I belong to the age of collectors and they were one of hundreds of ties to my family’s past and I rue losing them.

A week ago I pulled out a jacket that I bought hastily last year the night before we jetted off for our peace study in Israel. I also bought some slacks because I learned we would attend at least one Sabbath worship service where jeans would be looked on disapprovingly. The jacket was just like the one I saw being worn by one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s security detail when his party walked into a restarurant Claudia and I were at. Except that I’d bought a jacket at least a size too small. Today, less than a year afterward, the zipper is broken.

When I pulled it out of the closet I felt a bulge in an upper pocket and pulled out a piece of flint. I had found it at the huge Jewish cemetary facing Jerusalem. The graves were covered with stones left by mourners. They were some kind of token of remembrance. I carefully picked one off the ground rather than remove one from a grave. It appeared that the lot of the stones was to be repeatedly placed on new graves and washed off by rains only to be recycled over and over. Like the arrowheads they were only necessary for a short duration and not kept, as I had been doing, for posterity.

The arrowheads may turn up again but I suspect that’s not going to happen. I suspect the flint from Jerusalem will some day end up in one of my boxes of rocks and agates with no identification about its origen. There ought to be a good metaphor about life in this anecdote but I can’t put my finger on it at the moment. Maybe that itself is some sort of a metaphor.

“Best of Enemies” – Still a good movie 55 years on

I have mentioned the old David Niven flick Best of Enemies half a dozen times now in the blog. It is not to be confused with the more recent movie chronicaling the several decade-long feud between conservative icon William F. Buckley and his liberal alter-ego Gore Vidal.

Well, as with the Coach Klar posts my recollections proved faulty. The Italian and British soldiers did switch sides being captors and prisoners but there were no German Armies that brought them together. Their battles took place in an even more remote theater of the African War than the Sahara. This story was placed in Ethiopia. After years of looking for the movie I discovered over the weekend that someone uploaded it to youtube in the last year. Its free to watch although it was broken up into two halves. I presume this was done to more easily upload it.

The movie came out in 1961 when I was ten and I’m sure that when I watched it on television it was in black and white and cut down from the letterbox format to a squarish size to fit on our old tv.

There was an third force that upended the Brits and the Italians but it wasn’t the Wehrmacht. It was the Ethiopians themselves. In case anyone is inclined to search it out I won’t offer any further spoilers.

I enjoyed the movie this time too but I enjoyed it as much for its historical perspective. In the real war there would have been no love lost between the two European powers but by 1960 Great Britain and Italy were allies not enemies. You see much the same generosity of spirit in American movies set in post war Japan that were filmed in that Era. The old hostilities were being smoothed over even though plenty of American And British soldiers had deep scars from their encounters with the Japanese and other members of the Axis.

Getting to Maybe, a lunch-time anecdote

One of my favorite people was Jean Gornik. She ran the Damiano Center and I blame/give credit to her for starting me singing in public.

I was reminded of Jean after our meeting with Holly Sampson at Glen Avon this morning. As Claudia and I hashed over the subject of the oportunity gap, Claudia mentioned that she had been reading about Gornik in a book for her Religious Classes. I’d heard of it before, Getting to Maybe.

The passage about Duluth starts on page 176 and gave me some dates I’d wondered about. I recall cooking and serving lunches one Friday each month starting in the Reagan Era hard times. Sure enough, the book mentioned that the soup kitchen began ladeling out food in 1982. I continued serving lunch with other Glen Avon Presbyterian volunteers until 1998 when Damiano handed over the cooking to people it was training in as chefs. That program was defunded a couple years later and I resumed my place on the serving line.

I’m not sure if I began singing to Jean in the old or new millenia but she told me she was an Italian, despite her married name, and that she loved Frank Sinatra. I began belting out lines of “Strangers in the Dark” and other songs by that generation’s many Italian/American singers to amuse Jean and the folks lining up for lunch.

I have branched out beyond “Amore” but I can still ruin a good lunch.

“I am on a data privacy kick”

My Buddy twitted (as opposed to tweeted) me with this response to my third paragraph in the last post:

“9AM [meeting] was strictly personal with a financial advisor. Sorry, Data private.”

“That an elected official, who purports to be “liberal” and “progressive”, would say that, puzzles me. Did he mean to implicitly flaunt his wealth, by suggesting that the magnitude of it is such that he needs a financial advisor; or did he inadvertently and implicitly admit that he is not capable of managing his financial affairs by himself?

Your Buddy”

I replied in all good humor:

“I am on a data privacy kick, [Buddy]”

Now, in all seriousness,let me offer up a more candid answer to my “eight loyal readers” (including my “Buddy”)

I am on a data privacy kick. a real one. In a few minutes I am going to continue reviewing the billing from the Rupp firm. In fact, I wrote up a post and was just about to push the upload button when I realized I wanted to recheck one particular detail to make sure I wasn’t about to spout some Donald Trump level rubbish.

As to what my readers might conclude by my tease about visiting a financial advisor I’ll be blunt. I consider myself rich. I’ve considered myself rich since I was in elementary school even though it could have been said of me I was born with a stainless steel spoon in my mouth. I know people with a lot more money than me who would not consider themselves rich.

By the way, I tell people I married well. I haven’t dared squander the wealth my better half earned for us both. Had it been up to me I’d likely have blown it all on futile campaigns for public office. Instead, I had to be creative to be the successful “perennial candidate” that the editorial board of the Trib like’s to poke in the ribs every so often.

As to fiscal management let me say this. My Dad was an attorney. He always told me that anyone in court who acts as his own attorney had a fool for a client. Perhaps the same could be said of someone with a little money acting as his/her own tax and finance expert.

My comfort is on my mind especially as it contrasts with the poverty of children I have some responsibility for educating as one in seven votes on the Duluth School Board. Last night I attended the meeting at Denfeld which was written up in today’s Trib.

This morning our church men’s group had Holly Sampson as a guest speaker to talk about the “opportunity gap” between poor and rich children. She explained what the Duluth Superior Foundation is doing to help our community bridge that gap.

It is inspired by this book by Robert Putnam who did some of his research in Duluth:


I’ve been in noblesse oblige mode since I was a little kid and heard about the holocaust. I’ve tried to carry out this mission without too much saccharine, “nanny state,” bloviating. I started out trying to do this as a moderate Republican. I know I don’t always succeed in the platitude department and I sure as Hell failed doing it as a Republican.

And by the way, I wish I knew a lot more about Donald Trump’s financial tenticals with Putin and a lot of other rascals around the world. I ran for Congress twice and had to spill my financial beans out to the whole world each time. Trump……Not so much. Do some googling. I’m sure you could find my old records someplace if you’re curious.

Foresight, what might have been, and temper tantrums

I slaved off-and-on from 5 AM until midnight yesterday to whittle nonsense riddled old posts from 700 offenders to about 80 left today. It’s mind numbing work made bareable by interesting discoveries. Its been entertaining to review my early writings in Lincolndemocrat. I just read this one showing the letter I would be sending out announcing my candidacy for the School Board in 2007

The post reassured me that I have a powerful, if imperfect, Bullpoop detector.

The School Board told Duluth that the Red Plan would practically pay for itself. Now a decade after I began blogging about the Red Plan most readers will appreciate the fiscal twaddle handed us. Why it wasn’t the building plan that would be expensive! It was the exorbitant and unnecessary costs of holding a referendum on the plan that the School Board wanted to spare taxpayers.

Here’s a couple paragraphs I put in the letter:

Raising $437 million in taxes through deception is a lousy way to run a school district. Read the beginning of my testimony to the State Board of Education last week.

“According to the information coming out of JCI and the Duluth School District the average Duluth household will only pay between $9 and $11 per month in property taxes if the Red Plan is adopted for a maximum of $132 annually. Let’s test this.

If you multiply $11 dollars, by 12 months and then multiply that by 20 years you get $2,240 per household. If you assume that there are 2.5 people per household this would result in $896 in taxes for the average resident of the Duluth school district over the course the Red Plan.

But if you multiply this average individual tax burden by the 94,000 residents of the Duluth School District the resultant taxes over twenty years would yield only $84,224,000 a far cry from the $437 million it will take to finance the Red Plan.

If you simply divide the $437,000,000 figure by the District’s 94,000 residents, you come up with a considerably higher per person tax over twenty years – $4,649. As some wag once said, “figures never lie, liar’s figure.”

My letter explains how I will have to get elected to the Board to put the breaks on the Red Plan. What happened in that campaign was that I was ambushed three days before election day and defamed by a vicious misrepresentation about my early career as a school board member. Had I been elected I could have tipped the balance on the Board and helped put the Red Plan up for a vote and, if it failed, I could have helped craft a more modest building program and insured that it was sold with credible financial analysis rather than snake oil.

That is my prologue for a little discourse on my tantrum about reviewing the Rupp law firm’ legal billing. It worked. The invoices will be made available for me to peruse this afternoon. School Board member Art Johnston chimed in by sending our new CFO his official data request for the same info which was never honored. Back when Art’s request was ignored we had five board members who tried to remove Art so apparently state law could be brushed off. We have a new school board and I’ll be damned if this public data will be withheld any longer. At my election I was given the fiduciary responsibility for overseeing our school district’s finances and administration.

I was ambushed again at this week’s school board meeting. The majority orchestrated an unexpected motion to retain Kevin Rupp’s firm for the Duluth School District. To say I was enraged puts it mildly.

I’ll share a hideous and despicable example of the legal advice of our counselor, Kevin Rupp, recommended to the Board members wishing to remove Art Johnston. (I was serving on the Board at the time and this advice was not provided to me for my input) This was passed on to me by an unimpeachable source.

Rupp’s plan was to take an ambiguous and, as it turned out, inaccurate story about Art making racist statements and add it to a list of other dubious accusations. Hearing that Art would be accused of being a full-throttle racist horrified Mike. He protested that it was a terrible thing to do but Rupp prevailed and Mern went along with the plan.

For the next year every headline in the Duluth News Tribune shouted that Art was an accused racist. It’s no wonder that after a year of such treatment, news or not, Art is no fan of the Trib or of the system that perpetuated such a hideous lie. Hell, Art has served on the board of the NAACP for several years.

Discovering that our Board was willing to ignore my principled objections and distrust of the man made my flesh crawl. I would be willing to burn down Old Central in order to read the bills for the hundred grand-plus we paid Rupp’s firm to turn our school board and district into a laughing stock for a long two years.

Today those bills are waiting “downtown” for me to peruse this afternoon.

The Good Donald Trump

I had every intention of watching President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress last evening. Instead, I got Trumped by the School Board. We altered our February schedule so we could meet on the last Tuesday of February rather than the third Tuesday. And, as I’ve explained, our new more amicable Board pulled a Trump on me without warning. They rehired our oily, Machiavellian attorney, Kevin Rupp, whose practice has pioneered the removal of school board members who ask too many questions and bother their Superintendents.

So, I’m only catching up on Trump’s speech that today’s commentators are explaining was a traditional stick-to-the-teleprompter affair. (I gave a couple of those myself last night sans teleprompter.) But I haven’t changed my mind about our new President or the staff he has surrounded himself with – a staff that I think Attorney Rupp would find very agreeable.

An an old highschool acquaintance of mine and I recently “friended” each other on Facebook. Sue sent me a post this morning from the Guardian Newspaper that helps cement my contempt for our new “Common letcher and Chief.” Coincidentally, it involves an author whose book I plan to read at Lakewood Elementary next week. Its author is Australian, Mem Fox.

Last year when I read at Lakewood they asked me to read a book on forestry and suggested Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax. This year they are talking about recipes and asked if I had anything that might fit that topic for which I could bring a recipe for the students. I thought of Pavlova.

I love visiting book stores in other nations to see what local authors are writing for children. In England decades ago I discovered the charming book Five Minutes Peace. Four years ago in Australia I discovered Mem Fox among others.

My old classmate, Sue, sent me this disspiriting story about Mem’s latest trip to America and the moment she “loathed” America.

Thank you Mr. President. You have more than made up for the awful Nobel Peace Prize that those ditzy Norwegians gave President Barack Obama when he was beginning his administration.

Harry’s an unhappy camper.

It’s not quite midnight and I want to vent. Our School Board meeting went on till 10:30 PM by far the latest since I rejoined the Board. Only a couple issues consumed the night. We began early with a Committee of the Whole to discuss our next year’s budget at 5 PM. It was an excellent meeting which ended with 15 minutes to spare before the 6:30 School Board meeting. The school board meeting began with a long parade of parents, many advocating for a seven period day. Even they had to wait for some presentations of worthy students and teachers.

There were two long discussions. The first began when Alanna Oswald offered an amendment that on hearing I thought ordered a mandated 7 period day to begin in September of 2017. I was not alone judging by the panicked looks of several administrators. I immediately wrote down a substitute motion that backed off a full seven-hour day next fall but instead directed that we spend more money in our western elementary schools as a downpayment on our attempt to bring them equity. Art seconded my motion so I could discuss my alternative. The video is up on youtube, all 4 glorious hours of it. Tomorrow I’ll figure out when the discussion began give you the time signature.

Ditto the hottest discussion of the night that has left me wanting to vent. The Board on a 4-3 vote decided to keep employing Kevin Rupp’s Law firm. His name shows up in no less than 37 previous posts going back to March of 2009. I made clear my antipathy to him at our January meeting and was heartened when it appeared there would be support to find an alternative law firm. Once it became apparent tonight that Rosie and Annie, who’s unsupported allegations helped make our first two years a nightmare and the Board a laughing stock, were going to keep their attorney all good will left our meeting. Rupp’s law firm was retained despite my vehement objections. I warned the Board that if I was elected to the Board next fall and part of a majority I would sever our ties with Rupp’s firm. I further warned that if Rupp was used, as he has been in the past, to represent us in our all-imporant teacher contract talks I would have him removed no matter how far along those negotiations were. We still have the Ratwik firm, a big fancy Twin Cities law firm, to provide us a negotiator.

My grievances are legion. I was barred from the negotiations shortly after I got elected and Rupp did nothing. He is the Superintendent’s attorney, not the School Boards and I have been publicly insulted by him during a school board meeting; prevented from meeting with him; been denied access to his billing to see where $160,000 of the taxpayers money was spent on his firm’s services. Art was denied a formal data request for other mateials. I recently began writing up a sorry history of the many African Americans who were removed from our administration with Kevin Rupp’s assistance. And this “professional” had the nerve to say that Art Johnston said racist things. He belongs in the White House with Steven Bannon. Am I making myself clear?

I’ll give it a rest for now and fix old blog posts. I’m too worked up to go to sleep and I need to sleep on the subject of Kevin Rupp. Loren Martell will likely cover this in the next Duluth Reader but not till the second Friday in March – ten days from now.

’ Blog Housekeeping

For several years I’ve been greatly annoyed that bugs sneaked into my blog posts. They are punctuation bugs. Maybe you’ve noticed them especially if you’ve followed my search function to older posts. They are especially common from the time I began serving for my third term in 2014. I still don’t know what caused them to replace simple apostrophes and quotation marks.

Its harder to fathom what President’s means than President’s or School Board’s compared to School Board’s.

Over the past couple years I’ve gone back and corrected some of the old posts when I myself linked back to them. But there are about 900 such posts and I used a lot of apostrophes.

I have found a slow and fairly tedious way to correct the mistakes one by one. I’ve spent the last half hour correcting about seven of the exasperating posts. I’ll keep working on it as this blog is my primary means of communicating and Harry’s blog reads so much better than Harry’s blog.

OMG A new check suggests I have 6000 posts with the strange hieroglyphics.

I have always suspected that one botched attempt to fix of this blog turned all those apostrophe’s and quote marks into weird things. Ditto hyphens. 6,000 corrupted pages is almost 1/4th of ten years work. Sheesh!

A year ago today the most famous man in World History…

…showed up on my front lawn

I know because Facebook reminded me by putting this image on a “year-ago-today” memory function.

And why do I say that he is the most famous person in World History? Well first a prologue.

I woke up today not thinking about Trump, a rarity, but perhaps he was in my thoughts way behind the scenes in my subconscious. You see, I woke this morning imagining going back to a day when I was in college 45 years ago with the memories of me today, at age 66, stuck in my head.

What I thought about was compelling enough, for me, to imagine writing it down as the beginning of a novel. So taken was I by this writing exercise that I decided not to listen to NPR this morning so I could continue thinking about this novelized time travel story. (Actually, last night before going to bed I thought I should stop listening to the morning news because I had been so wrapped up in it that I have been neglecting various projects I wanted to work on. This has become so standard that I find myself going to bed wishing I had done something useful instead of obsess about Donald Trump.)

I got out of bed before the crack of dawn and kept the radio off while I fed my cats and gathered my gym bag to swim some laps at the fitness center. I drove sans radio and swam. On the way home I bought some coffee, orange Juice and a banana nut muffin but made the mistake of looking at my cell. I noticed a New York Times Story (I subscribed to the Times a couple weeks ago to have unlimited Trump News coverage and avoid being limited to ten-a-month) about someone who had attempted to do what I was failing to do with my morning. Block Trump out of my thoughts so I could do something else for a change.

Mr. Manjoo is the columnist who tried unsuccessfully to blot out Donald Trump not just for a morning but for a week. He couldn’t do it either. Then he did a little research and concluded that Trump is the most famous person in world history that has ever been. As I extrapolate Manjoo’s conclusions it appears that Donald Trump has gotten something like a trillion dollars worth of free publicity over the course of the last twelve months. He has me convinced. Its astonishing to think that the most famous person ever is the world’s biggest twit. Or is that twitterer?


I love my blog’s search function. It always surprises me what it can reveal in and about my ten years of blogging. Apparently, not counting this post I have mentioned “paranoia” in 47 previous posts. Its easy to count as the search function shows me 20 posts per page and there were three pages with 20 + 20 + 7 such posts. A couple even had the word “Paranoia” in the Title. Now that’s a small fraction of my total 19442 posts (not counting this one). I think that shows some restraint on my part as it means I’ve only mentioned it in .0049724926 percent of my total posts. (You gotta love calculators)

It’s on my mind now despite living a pretty mundane life. Last night my very interesting evening with the School Board (beginning with our hush hush closed meeting to discuss……….) Shhhhhh!

As I was saying – after my night of school board meetings I had eight minutes to drive up to my heart-dappled Glen Avon Presbyterian Church to practice with our choir. This will be difficult for me to continue thru June because Claudia is now working Wednesday evenings helping register homeless folks in at CHUM. Until June I’ll be skipping choir practice to take care of our grandsons. I’m looking forward to these evenings but since I can’t really read music I’ll be missing my only chance to practice our music by ear. I don’t mind looking foolish at a School Board meeting (that’s a lie) but I hate the thought of coughing out an unplanned solo or hitting a false note in church.

Ah, but a sick grandchild and my rare Wednesday board meeting left me free for the night and I hurriedly parked on the south side of Lewis street as I have for twenty years. Thank goodness I got the music. It is tricky and syncopated. When I left the practice feeling relieved I opened my car door and saw a parking ticket fall to the street. Twenty-four bucks! I guess I should thank my lucky stars I got away with that for the past two decades. It was bound to catch up with me sometime.

So this morning I awoke in our guest room bed alone. I moved there after waking up and fretting for a couple hours that would have been better spent sleeping. I have all day to fret. Last night however, I decided the deep well that I have put in my mattress may explain the sore shoulder muscles I’ve endured for the past week after shoveling snow. If so, maybe its not simply the Americapocolypse that has me up at nights. I’m going to lobby for a new mattress.

Claudia, it turns out, had to leave early for her Twin Cities Seminary classes this morning. She left me a pot of coffee and two sleeping cats which she had fed. Nice. Then, I read the 25th day straight of unsettling news about our new Command-her and Chief. Then, I thought about the likely imminent departure of our Superintendent. Then, I thought about how unless we can find alternative funding the School District may have to pull money out of the classroom to pay for replacement of tire mulch. Then, I thought about how to lobby the Minnesota Dept of Education to take money out of our Capital funds instead. Then, I saw my parking ticket on the dining room table. Phooey!

The ticket explained that I could pay easily over the phone and easy sounded, well, easy. But when a cheery voice announced I could do it easily for an extra $3 charge for phone processing I hung up and wrote a check instead. I’ll pay 54 cents for Post Office processing instead, thank you very much.

And behind all this personal minutiae lies a fearful political collapse of the Republic. The press won’t cut Trump any slack as he blunders his way proving that he can make the national political transition of government as chaotic as last year’s election. He has read his political mandate about as well as he can read. The saving grace is that in a pinch the Republican’s in Congress will likely not give him authoritarian powers lest he do to the Republicans what Kim Jong-un did to his half brother a couple days ago. They still need a powerful enough justification to impeach Trump so as to shield themselves from their fire-breathing Limbaugh and Rapture-ridden Christian base.

I take little comfort when I read an old testament Christian’s explanation that God chose lots of evil men to work his will in Old Testament times and that’s why they voted for Trump. Trump is our Nebuchadnezzar. An illiterate, pussy grabber is God’s judgement on America. Maybe that explains Trumps stunning retreat from his last thank you to the RNC convention for cutting Gays some slack. Then he backed off and threw a bone to the fundamentalists scrapping the Johnson Amendment.

I’ve often joked that “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.” Looking at my Facebook feed which keeps growing exponentially as I add new friends I see how the folks on my side of the political divide are rallying. I only get short glimpses of the pro-Trump side as they typically eschew the Fake News I rely on. They probably feel paranoid about my jokes about the impeachment of Trump. That may be cause for alarm. At choir practice last night a friend told me of a retired school superintendent he knows (and that I know too) who is out buying all the ammunition he can.

I really need a good mattress.

The Game of Life

Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon with my first grade grandson. He was sick. His Mom brought some games over to our house for us to play with him including “The Game of Life.”

Other than having Homer Simpson characters all over the gameboard and playing cards it was the same game I was always asked to play by my old next door neighbor, Becky. I was never a big fan of the game. It was sort of like playing house only with mortgages and car repairs. Besides that, when I played it with Becky we were in fifth grade. Jacob is in first grade and while he’s a remarkable little reader he can’t yet fathom mortgages, promissory notes or tax shelters. so, we sort of played by the rules he had learned although I did my best to read the instructions as we began the game. At least it ends by reaching the end of its path of rectangles unlike Monopoly which requires going round and round in a square circle.

Jacob got help from Grandma after she returned from her religious internship. She kept his money in order and he ended up with a half million bucks compared to my hundred grand. Now I don’t want you to think I was a sore loser or anything but we were playing by Jacob’s rules.

Well, there is playing “The Game of Life” and there’s living life. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so much so, that I haven’t kept up with my blogging and have yet to commence this darned book I want to write. So, to catch my eight loyal readers up here are a few of the lifelike things I’ve been doing.

Which of my relatives brought an illegitimate child into the world?

I got an email from a second cousin who had been contacted by a non relative who was trying to figure out the connection between our family and a mother-in-law. We share a surname, my Grandfather’s, but the legal birth documents are full of frauds. My second cousin and I have been putting our heads together and recently narrowed the connection down to some other cousins once or twice removed. The connecting of dots has been greatly aided by DNA tests. The floor of my office still has records strewn across it as a result of this little family research detour. Unfortunately, there is more stuff on the floor from other recent searches. Its been easier to put off a refiling than it has been to put it all away.

Honoring World War Vets and the V-12 Program

Park College has made several appearances on previous posts. My Grandfather the war hero was a very devoted alumnus and I’ve visited there several times this century to help them celebrate his life. This spring they are setting up an exhibit of the college’s (now a University) long history of collegiate military training. It began with the V-12 naval officer’s training program in World War II. It was set up to help the military train officers for the war and to help salvage colleges which had lost enrollment as young men poured into the military. My Father, then living in Kansas City, Missouri, enrolled directly into Park’s program from his high school’s ROTC program.

I just sent Park University both my Grandfather’s dog tag from the First World War and my Dad’s tag from the Second. I thought the father-in-law/son-in-law connection made them an interesting pair. I also sent a few photos of my Dad’s V-12 graduating class down as well.

This photo came from my Dad’s high school yearbook which I found in the KC Public Library. Its my Dad in about 1942 in his ROTC uniform. He’s in the center of the front row.

Some serious history candy

In addition to the fascinating history unfolding before me in the news everyday I’ve also been watching some interesting programs on PBS.

Last week I saw the Independent Lens program about the movie that created Hollywood, which is now so roundly criticized by Republicans for propagandizing America, – Birth of a Nation. Oh, and two-and-a-half years later my Grandfather would find himself assigned to be an officer with black soldiers who enlisted in Harlem to fight the Hun.

I’ve never watched it but am well aware that it helped reestablish the Ku Klux Klan in the United States after its appearance in 1915. What makes it particularly interesting to me is the fact that it was shown in New York City despite loud objections from Harlem’s black population. That was the same time that my Grandfather, neighbor of an escaped slave, was studying for his Master’s degree in history at Columbia University right next to Harlem.

As the program makes clear the Democrat my Grandfather told me had been the worst vote of his life, President Woodrow Wilson, eulogized the film at the same time as he instituted segregation in the Federal bureaucracy. I don’t know how my Grandfather felt about this but he would tell me with bitterness years later that he blamed Wilson for getting America into the First World War. That was an ironic thing for an MOH winner to say. In one more irony Columbia University’s history department was also the leading exponent for the revisionist history of Civil War Reconstruction that argued that the KKK cleaned up the South by instituting Jim Crow. And on that note I’ll mention once again that I gave a little talk about my Grandfather’s service to a VFW in Topeka to which my Grandfather belonged.

And this week there was an equally interesting Independent Lens on PBS called “Accidental Courtesy.” Its about Daryl Davis, a black musician who found himself getting to know members of the Ku Klux Klan and disarming them to the point that many of them renounced the Klan. The contrast between his success with the Klan and the distaste his work caused some members of the Black Lives Matter movement is arresting.

It is a study in how to win over people through sheer human decency and I imagined myself in Mr. Davis’s shoes albeit with other adversaries.


Before Claudia left for Seminary in the Twin Cities this afternoon I had time to read a little further in a book we’ve been going through in anticipation of our travels to China this Summer. My Aunt recommended it when I visited my Uncle Frank a week ago. Its very engaging.

Country Driving A Chinese Road Trip by Peter Hessler is the third in a trilogy of his experiences since volunteering as a Peace Corp worker in the Bill Clinton Era.

Also regarding books. After three months with no software to fix my old website I reloaded it and brought my reading list page up to day with the inclusion of “The Old Testament” which I finally finished reading a month ago.


As I told the class of eager snow sculptors I like to sculpt in warm weather. Tomorrow promises to be such a day.

Folks at my church have been after me to sculpt something seasonal. I missed an Advent project, (no warm days) But Valentines is just around the corner. I have something very simple in mind but I had scheduled a stop at Memorial Blood bank tomorrow morning and we are always told not to do any heavy lifting after making our donations. Well I called and rescheduled for next week. I can get a start on Valentines tomorrow. (It will be the simplest of sculptures. I’m pretty busy)

Happy # 4 (In no particular order other than #1)

I was surprised to see that Loren Martell had published another column about the School District despite there having been no recent meetings. This column was all about the movers and shakers who bamboozled ISD 709 on the Red Plan catching hell for doing to other School Districts what they did to us – over promise and under perform. This was spelled out in the City Pages story I’ve mentioned before.

So it wasn’t new territory. However, I quite enjoyed reading the long quote of inane and inaccurate puffery that Loren preserved from the fast talking Johnson Control swindlers when they persuaded an earlier school board to put themselves at the mercy of JCI’s mercenary project management team. Read it for a good laugh…….or cry whichever you deem appropriate. And while you read think about the inequity that now exists between east and west Duluth:


Loren’s latest is not up yet on their website. Oh well, when its up I’ll capture JCI’s puffery and share it with my readers.

Happy # 3 (In no particular order other than #1)

After a Homecroft teacher asked me to return to read to her classrooms for “I Love to Read” month I sent out the following request to all our elementary and middle school principals today:

“Dearest children loving school principals of ISD 709,

I have missed reading regularly to classrooms for the past couple of years. When I served on the School Board from 1996 to 2004 I logged a lot of hours doing this. I even created a web page showing my favorite read aloud books.

I am quite capable of reading to any ages and have reading material in my own black bag library which I cart around with me.

If you know of any teachers in your schools who would like a guest to read please direct this offer to their attention. I would hate to miss out on another I love to read month.

Thanks much.”

When I checked my email tonight I had four requests from teachers to read to their classes.

Happy # 2 (In no particular order other than #1)

After organizing a dozen caches of information about my long history of snow sculpting I answered the call of a teacher at Northstar Academy who has a group of about 25 girls working on Winter Activities. She asked if I could come this afternoon to explain how they should get ready to make their own snow sculptures. I did. As my guide I was able to show them my newly up to date page on snow-sculpting and my patented (well its not really) ten thumbs guide on how to snow sculpt which I also recently updated.

Happy # 1 (In no particular order – except this one)

I will be raising our family’s American flag on our front porch tomorrow. How come? I’m thrilled that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the lower court decision which shut down President Trump’s executive order for a travel ban aimed largely at Muslims.

Trump’s hysteria over Muslims annoys me. The only person I ever new to be murdered for his religion was my high school roommate. He was a Muslim that I suspect was imprisoned and killed by a Christian regime.