Category Archives: blog housekeeping

Blog Puzzles

What the hell happened to Lincolndemocrat? Search me. I’m only the author of the site for the past ten years. Last I knew I punched a wrong button or something at a time just before Christmas of 2016 when I was overwhelmed with projects. Christmas is always busy in itself but I was tiptoeing in my blog careful not to alienate a new set of School Board members. The previous ones had censured me the year before. Furthermore, I was trying to clean up the most cluttered office space in months having let it get out of hand in the summer when I was busily engaged in making sure the elections for the new school board didn’t leave me in more political quicksand. Besides, I had utterly ignored preparing for a huge trip the previous six months to Israel. I would be leaving in two weeks time and futzing around figuring out how to fix a damn website (blog in this case) was not high on my priority list. I am a world class technophobe.

So, deciding that my being frozen out of my website must be sort of the equivalent of a lightning strike by a hard ass but benevolent God (like that scene at the beginning of the movie Sergeant York) warning me that the temptation to write about the school board would just cause problems with my new colleagues I decided I’d fix the blog when I got back from Israel a month later. Big mistake.

When I got around to calling tech support they told me a big “oops!” had taken place with files that were jettisoned weeks after the boo boo first showed up. It was too late to do anything about bringing them back to life. They weren’t very good about telling an old technophobe what they were doing but apparently they were “working on it.”

Well, they “fixed it” but I could no longer figure out how to get in to the site to add posts. Furthermore, all the visible navigation that took you to different categories of posts was gone as was the month by month list of entries going back to 2006 when the blog started. Worse yet, the search button that I used nearly every day to find old posts to link to to explain my thoughts of the past was nowhere to be seen. I don’t know if they will ever come back. When I was in Israel I came to an understanding with myself that this might be a “this too will pass” event. The blog might just die and all its ten year’s worth of content, my diary really, would be lost in the Internet ether forever.

Then I discovered that nothing had been lost on the blog. While I waited for tech to fix the bug (if they were doing anything at all) I would start a new blog no one knew about – just in case. I have been posting to it for about a week. I called it lincolndemocrat2. Yeah, that’s a link to it. But when you go there you will see the URL is more cumbersome. It ends in wordpress.com and not just dot com.

I love one thing about it in particular. I was able to put the profile of Lincoln back in it. It once graced the original lincolndemocrat but I removed it eight years ago and could never figure out how to put it back. I told you I was a technophobe or a techno-dope in this case.

This morning with three or four posts in my head bursting to escape (It was 3AM when I crawled out of bed) I discovered a mouse hole that got me to this post creating page on my poor old bandaged lincoldemocrat original. I will be holding my breath when I push “publish” to see if it shows up. Depending on what happens I might continue or abandon this original blog page. Or I might write at both……although that seems foolish. I am hoping I can restore the old blog’s (this one’s) navigation links. If I could do that and put Lincoln’s profile back on this site it would be heavenly. Please, please, please, God. I know I’m an agnostic but I could use a bolt of lightning right now.

Oh, and I got all but one of those puzzles put together except for the one with the sea turtles. I’ll do it next Christmas. I got a 1000 piece Wizard of Oz puzzle from my family for Christmas. I put that one together instead. You know I love the Wiz.

Oh, Oh, Cool! It looks like there is a way to search the original. I googled lincolndemocrat with some of the post title’s words in it. http://lincolndemocrat.com/?s=a+star+for+mom and it pops up first along with other posts that mention stars and moms.

Uh, God. No guarantees about my looming believer status but this is a very good start.

Wild Swans and Mao and AWWWWWWW my old website is down

Claudia and I finished a weighty biography tonight, Wild Swans. We apparently acquired it in February but only began reading it May 29th. Today’s July 9th so we managed to get it done in six weeks. I’ve just attempted to add the book to my lifetime reading list on my old blog snowbizz.com. It appears that the blog is no longer working. This page and the snow sculpting page are about the only parts of the once vast site that I kept updating. For ten years the website was my life although it was eventually eclipsed by Lincolndemocrat. I suppose I can go back to the wayback machine if I really want to review it. Maybe it can be fixed but I’ve let dozens up software upgrades go by without keeping the old site up to date. I’d hoped to have it survive me but I don’t think I have it in me to rebuild it. At the moment the homepage is still up but I haven’t found any internal links that work.

Well, that deflates me and my will to say something about the wonderful book that Wild Swans is. It had twelve million copies sold by 2003 so I’m a late reader. It was finished in the early 1990’s. It can only be read in China underground or that was the case as of 2003 when its author penned its brief afterward.

It was a wonderful character study and, although our situation in Duluth doesn’t come close to the extreme, of Maoist China, I kept running into a lot of parallels with our little ongoing sagas.

and some welcome literary criticism

Regarding this 1400 word post one of my new corespondents offered me some literary criticism. I was delighted. It was the first literary analysis of my blog ever and probably the first I’ve gotten on any of my writing since high school.

I was taken by a sentence in one of your posts recently. When I went to find it, I believe it was changed to: “I just think they are blinded by their self righteousness.” I believe the former was, “They are blinded by the knowledge of their own goodness.” I liked the latter. It is lyrical and comes across as profound but not pretentious.

I explained that I have gotten into the habit of editing my posts immediately after posting them. I do this knowing that I’ll find typos a little more easily looking directly on the blog. I don’t worry about bad mistakes or poor word choice when I do this late into the evening because only the Ukrainians or Australians are reading at that time of the night. Even during the day I don’t worry about it too much. To me its like letting folks watch me sculpt my snow sculptures. I don’t mind if they see them in the process of construction. There is always the possibility that they will copy an unpolished text and spread it around but I haven’t worried about that as much as perhaps I should.

I just checked to see if I could find an earlier version of this post. My blog software does periodic saves during my writing but there was no evidence of my putative earlier sentence. Its quite likely that is how I first put it. I agree that the preferred language is more straightforward and less hackneyed. As for poetic……that may have been an accident on my part.

If I did switch to harping about “Self righteousness” that’s probably because its a phrase that everyone is familiar with whereas “goodness” seems a little more childlike. I guess I opted for old fart wording to sound more sophisticated. That doesn’t say much for sophistication does it?

“Where this blog is headed” revisited – plus a little piss and vinegar

Lincoln democrat is 108 months old minus a week or two. This is its 12,830th post. Its the diary I share with whoever is prurient or curious enough to see what I’m pontificating about at any given point in my life. It is not quite a diary but I throw enough personal stuff in to make sure my readers can see the sinew and bones that make me frail and foible prone like any other human.

I’ve commented on the retirement of the Sullivan blog recently. I’m not sure when I first ran across it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t about the time of 9/11. I cautiously supported George Bush in his invasion of Iraq and I suspect that support was built in large part on the thinking of Andrew Sullivan the gay wunderkind of the conservative movement. Like Sullivan I ended up realizing what a mistake George Bush made. Sullivan’s hanging all his thoughts out in the public as he changed his mind was a stellar example to me of a kind of public humility I could identify with.

If you look down the column on the right you will see that my blog began in March of 2006 and wasted little time in linking to Andrew Sullivan’s blog. I did so first in my nineteenth post. Like many old hyperlinks it is no longer active so I’d have to search through Sullivan’s archives to find it now.

I also linked to Sullivan’s blog in 2008 in a post that caught me just as I was ending my run of 100 biweekly columns in Duluth’s tabloid the Reader Weekly. That was my 1,289th post titled “Where this blog is headed.” I was ending my regular column for the Reader (without pay) and beginning a second campaign for Congress as an Independent candidate. I would end up getting far fewer votes the second time around than in 1992 when I garnered 7% of the Eighth Congressional District vote as the “Perot Choice” candidate.

That I did so poorly was in part my sudden preoccupation with an ancient story going back to the Congressional election of 1974. I was visiting my Mother in a St. Paul memory care unit every two weeks and spent part of my visiting day at the Minnesota Historical Museum researching that old bit of Duluth history. That’s not the best way to conduct a campaign for Congress.

Since then I’ve been caught up in what the Reader Weekly’s readers have voted Duluth’s worst boondoggle in eight successive Worst of the Northland votes. Continue reading

Retiring Bloggers

My Buddy sent me an email recently that I took to be dancing on the grave of my only serious blog addiction. Andrew Sullivan is planning on retiring. I hope he hands the reigns over to his crew and keeps some sort of remote executive function because I’ll miss his blog if it retires with him.

My last post included a link to one of his posts on the loss of citizen participation that seems to follow the loss of local papers. (I had the wrong link for a while but just corrected it)

My Buddy asked me:

But will Harry’s blog ever end? Will he ever get tired?

To which I replied:

Harry gets distracted periodically but mine is a lot less high maintenance. [than Sullivan’s blog]

I find a lot of great things on the Daily Dish offered up by a host of smart people with all the lurkers and dim wits sidelined so that they don’t muck up a good conversation. Here’s a post one of them offered up on a subject I am quite keen on – the inanity of the GOP (not that lots of Democrats aren’t inane too Buddy. In fact I’ll have something to report on local leftish politics shortly regarding my meeting on Saturday)

A Memory confirmed for me …

…not for our recent Chairman.

Art Johnston and I have a similar problem. We never seem to throw anything away. The clear evidence of Art’s overflowing documentation is his office. Its got boxes of stuff all over the floor. That is a problem for me too but I have been in the habit of taking stuff up to my attic when I start feeling like one of the characters out of that television series about hoarders.

Actually, resistant as I am to tossing things out, I’ve been slowly and steadily cleaning out my attic for ten years or more. I probably got started about the time I fell off the School Board in 2004. It didn’t take me long, however, to begin accumulating at about the same rate I was tossing old stuff out. I’ve kept documents from my many races thinking they might made an interesting book about what drives a “perennial candidate” as the Trib’s editors are wont to call me. In my case its a story about how a “liberal” Republican coped with the two or three decades of purges that culled moderates from the party. That I landed in such infertile GOP soil as Duluth at the same time is another part of my ridiculous life.

Then In 2006 I caught wind of one of Minnesota’s biggest political scandals that had as its epicenter Duluth. I have a closet’s worth of documentation on that. A couple weeks ago I ran across someone who remembered two years worth of blog posts threatening to get that book written. She wondered if I ever managed it. No, I told her, but its too good a story for me to abandon. Its still qeued up waiting to land.

I set it on the shelf however, for another local scandal of sorts – the Red Plan. Once again I found myself threatening to write a tell all…..or at least one side of a tell all since the other side seemed to burn all its documents. Kevin Rupp was probably helpful with the lighter fluid.

Now I’ve got another book about the District’s educational politics in mind. Its one of a succession of books I’ve had in mind to write about the Duluth Public School experience. I think I have to write this same post once a year so I hope my long time readers will forgive me.

I plan on having my attic remodeled into an office some time in the next couple months. I need a space of sufficient size to put my stuff in some sort of orderly confusion if I’m ever going to finish any of my books.

One helpful item I have is my blog. Over the last several days of blog silence I’ve been going to that Wayback site that preserved most of the diary entries I lost a few years back. I’ve been printing them out and putting them in a three-ring binder. Unlike my blog entries diary entries were one-time compilations usually written at the end of a day. I didn’t write them every day and I only kept the School Board diary going for nine months. (It later morphed into a Politician’s Diary which had a short half-hearted life) I quit writing about the School Board because they stirred up a few of my fellow members who didn’t like me putting any spin back on their top serves.

Oh, there was one diary entry that wasn’t captured by the Wayback Machine. I only found a tantalizing reference to it in the page I set up for the year 2000″s May entries. It included the first paragraph of each day’s entry over the month. I titled the May 23rd entry “Missing Cues” for reasons that without the entire text are unclear. But this was the first paragraph:

Dear School Board Diary, The local section of the paper detailed a libel suit which our previous Superintendent Mark Myles is bringing against Al Netland, the President of AFSCME. Al had written a column over a year ago accusing Mark of benefiting financially from his association with the Edison Schools. It wasn’t true. Having had my own run ins with Al over the truth I didn’t have much sympathy for the union boss…

I’ve been looking for this information since last year’s MSBA convention.

At the end of that conference in an all too brief friendly period I got a ride back to Duluth with Chair Miernicki and Bill Westholm. Several future posts may include snippets of the conversations we had in the car. One of them involved this story. Mike was waxing eloquent on District history and speaking with great authority.

It may have been prompted by riffing on what Dr. Dixon might have gotten out of the Red Plan. Mike told us that Mark Myles left the Superintendency to collect an Edison paycheck. I’m not sure if I bothered to correct the Chairman or not. I might not have. But it was proof that Al’s damage had taken hold of at least one credulous teacher. I’m sure it was first spread around by Frank Wanner.

I devoted a fruitless day searching out the real story after my ride with Mike but I couldn’t recall the year. Now, with the help of the Wayback Machine, I had the month and year at hand and was able to go through my twenty year news clipping file. I quickly found both the story referenced in my diary and how it was settled in September of the same year.

In May Netland pooh poohed the suit, “This is nothing new,” he said at the story’s conclusion. However, Myles was paid to drop his suit and also got a fulsome apology from David Holwerk the then publisher of the Tribune.

BTW – I used to copy stories from the Trib’s early webpage back during this period and placed them on my webpage so that I could link to them from my web Diary. (The Trib only kept their stories on the web for about seven days) Holwerk, sent me a letter prompted by the Trib’s attorney’s telling me they owned the copyright and telling me to remove them from my website. I ignored the request for a year or so because the web was still in its infancy and I wasn’t convinced that I was doing the Trib any damage even though they clearly owned the copyright. When I finally did remove a couple year’s worth of stories, a sizable task, I managed to lose the diary posts too. Until the Wayback Machine I thought they were all lost forever.

This is proof that there is some truth to the claim by the fellow who alerted me to the Wayback Machine last year when I lamented the loss of all my early diary entries: “The Internet never forgets.” It turns out the Web has a memory almost as good as mine.

Teasers

From an email this morning:

Mr Welty,

Good morning sir… I was perusing your blog this morning and catching up on the disaster that is our school board. I’m pretty sure there was text under the entry titled “Rosie’s criminal background check… . If I’m correct, what am I missing? Keep up the good work and fight.

My explanation:

Thanks ***,
I will be writing the post shortly. I suppose you could say that the headline sans text is my idea of a teaser to keep people coming back.
I will keep up the good fight.
Harry

11-14-14 ALL CAPS, PART 5 – SOME CLOSURE BEFORE 11-15-14 ARRIVES

I haven’t counted the words in today’s series of All CAPS posts. Its not nearly the 10,000 words I’d imagined a day ago but its been enough to give me the sense that I’m showing the public the sausage making that has gone into the Duluth School Board’s politics. I wouldn’t buy it but that’s sort of the point with sausage. You never eat it raw. The optimist in me believes that something good will come from our School Board if only it cooks enough. I’ve said before that I’ve never met a school board member who didn’t want things to be better for children and schools. I believe that’s true of the members of the Duluth School Board as well.

I had at least one more post planned as this day went on. That had to do with the meeting I had with the Superintendent on Wednesday morning. I thought it would be A one on one meeting, our first in eight months, but that was not to be. The Chairman’s best friend Bill Westholm was present when I arrived. I was not disappointed. It was a good addition to our meeting. I’d originally thought that Mike himself ought to be present but his proxy was a good addition. I think Westholm is looking out for his friend Miernicki’s situation much as Mike has taken a hand in looking out for Westholm who has soldiered on bravely and good-naturedly with the MS that keeps encroaching on him. I was candid. I took in some of what I was told with considerable skepticism meaning I’m not sure my level of candor was reciprocated. Still, I’ve decided that for now I’ve laid out all the sausage making that the public needs to see. There may be a point of diminishing returns at which point my plan to to restore this Board to good function will succumb to resentment.

There was one thing I will mention for now that was said in that meeting. It was suggested that Chair Miernicki and Member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp were given a list of organizations that could guide the board in a session to get past our ill will. It was further suggested that because the Board needs to look to its own devices that the Administration did not more to push a session on getting along better. However the ball dropped I don’t think its too late to attempt some sort of get together where we don’t talk policy we talk trust which would allow us to meet without violating the Open Meeting law.

I campaigned on the promise of “honesty” so I will be candid with my fellow board members if some sort of conclave is organized. In the absence of such meetings thus far I have taken it upon myself over the past seven or eight months to share my thoughts more widely with the public in this blog. Its extraordinarily time consuming to meeting with six other Board members at their convenience one at a time when you have hours worth of conversation that needs to take place. Its even slower when folks you try to meet with play hard to get.

I know that my candor must make a lot of folks uneasy. I’m sixty three and have a lot less time than I had when I was 45 and got elected to the School Board for the first time. Our challenges are also greater than they were eighteen years ago. I’m patiently impatient for our board to begin acting like grown ups. If I have to wait until a new majority takes over so be it but it will mean wheel spinning for another year and a half. I don’t like that prospect.

I took a look at my blog post in the Reader Weekly today. I’d sent it in with some mistakes in it but they seem to have been edited out by the Publisher’s staff. I hadn’t heard back from the Reader about whether they would put it in or not so I was pleasantly surprised to see it today. Even better it made sense to me. I read it three times over in print and every time I had the satisfaction of seeing that I had done a good job relaying my thoughts about Attorney Mary Rice’s report and doing so with some panache and economy.

Art Johnston thinks this school board is about to remove him from office. I keep telling Art that this Board is not that stupid. I’ve also told Art that he’s not a very good reader of people. I hope I’m right. If I am right that will be part one on this Board’s recovery of its good name.

Part two will be some attempt to find a facilitator who can get us all together and talking to each other rather than slinking around with knives hiding behind our backs. The Civility Project has been desperately trying to get someone to OK such a get together. Let’s hope part two comes to pass.

As promised, or threatened, today’s ALL CAPS posts require too much time for proof reading and editing for my taste. They will only have about three thousand readers online over the next thirty days. In contrast my blog post reprinted as the Stinking Fish in the Reader Weekly could be read by as many as 30,000 readers. I’m glad that the fish got a good proof reading.

History restored

I headed home after singing to my Mom for a few minutes before rushing off to serve lunch at the Damiano Soup Kitchen. While home I read an email that made my day. A reader of my last post who noted my discouragement at not having saved my old School Board diary found it for me. It was on the Wayback website: It looks like I’ll find all or most of my old diary entries. I’m not sure if this was the first one I ever wrote but its here. I’ll make sure to copy them and save them this time.

Thanks Jason.

By the way, the “Wayback Machine” was Peabody the Dog’s device for time travel. Sherman the Boy was his pet.

Friday, 1:24 AM

Always, my preoccupation with sleeplessness. Woke up around midnight. Listening to Rhapsody in Blue on Pandora as I type this. If I thought I was going to go back to sleep anytime soon I’d keep my earplugs in but no, I want to listen to some contemplative music as I try to enter some of the twenty or so post worthy ideas swirling around in my brain.

to the next post:

Crazy Numbers, Priorities, the Silent Treatment

It was 6:21am when I began opening up this blog to begin this post. It will be a simple post but I want to impress upon my readers just how long a simple post can take to write. I can work for hours on particularly long ones especially when I embed links to other stories and webpages within the post. I’ll report the time at the point I upload or “publish” it.

CRAZY NUMBERS:

I have a head for numbers. That is not to say I have an easy time with math especially accounting to the penny. I was always very undependable back forty years ago trying to balance a check book. But I have never had any trouble with forests of numbers. If I have roughly ten grand in the bank I can go for a year rounding off numbers of deposits and withdrawals and keep a good approximation of the balance in my head, usually withing ten or twenty percent. I have always avoided credit like the plague. Its the hemophilia of bookkeeping. Its a slow leak of money that over time will dry a bank account to the bone.

So, I’ve added a couple new statistics to my thinking. The first is not terribly different than the one that has been in my head for years. It probably came from and NPR story so I have little doubt about its general accuracy. It is this: Roughly 1 in 3 “black” kids will spend time in jail. For Latino kids its 1 in 6. For whites its 1 in 17. I could and no doubt will, and probably already have, written about this in this blog. After worrying about the question of human potential among the various collections of humans artificially divided into a anti-scientific myth called “race,” I’m severely annoyed that something as benign as melanin should be the determining factor in assigning people to costly, damaging and degrading atrocities like prison. It tests my faith in apple pie, motherhood, the statute of liberty, the constitution and the stars and stripes. Not nearly “nuff said,” but I’m in a hurry.

The next number is one I heard today on another NPR story I half listened to about, I’m not sure, Daycare I guess. I was only half listening. It is this. The average daycare providers in the US earn $22,000 a year (a pittance). The requirements for providing daycare are roughly equal to the qualifications demanded of prison guards. Prison Guards in the US earn an average of $72,000 a year. I could pontificate about this at length and as noted in the previous paragraph probably already have or will at some point in the future. Again, not nearly “nuff said.” If the juxtaposition of these two figures doesn’t set your mind into the spin mode what the Hell are you reading my blog for anyway?

PRIORITIES:

I’ve posted about this often in the last year. For me right now its Family first, Saving the Duluth Schools second, Getting a writing career started, or something like that……It will probably change the next time I write about it.

As this construction season has bled away from me I find myself with one putzy project left I paid someone else to do the last time it was attended to – painting the woodwork on my brick house. It needs to be scraped, spot primed, and painted. I don’t have enough time to do it now. I started but I’ll end up finishing up the little I started and then resume the majority of the work next spring. I may do that grudgingly or hire someone to finish it because next spring I hope to attend to two other non family tasks. 1st Electing a sensible new school board in November of 2015 and fixing up my attic into a place where I can commence my writing career with all the documents I’ve collected over forty years and the couple thousand books I’ve put together to make sense of the world. I’d hoped to do that this year but first I sacrificed a 40th year anniversary river cruise through Europe and then the building project itself when we were hit with a huge tax as we altered our retirement financing.

Life……its so two steps forward, one step back.

Meanwhile I’m still attending to the first priority. I had the grandkids over last night as per Wednesday’s usual and I got myself signed up to be a chaperon for half a day on a field trip with the little dickens who crawled into bed with me at 3am this morning to steal my heat. Last weekend we took both of them to Iowa for a family reunion with Claudia’s farming relatives. The boys got to drive a tractor twice as big as anything I ever saw in a farm field when I was little and roll around in several tons of corn. When they got back home their mother dislodged a corn kernel from the old boys hair at bath time. I facebooked the pictures but I won’t be putting them here because of my priorities. It will take too much time to do it with all the other things I’d like to blog about whenever I find the time to get to them.

THE SILENT TREATMENT:

This, of course, refers to the last post. My buddy sent me this nudge yesterday:

On Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM, [Harry’s Buddy] wrote:

From http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=11636: (Sometimes when I go silent…)
I have the most to say.

Oh, come on, Harry. Jump in. The water is deep.

[Your Buddy]

To which I replied:

It sure is. Oh my roof’s got a hole in it but I might drown…..

[Buddy],

Some of these entries are little literary tricks meant to keep people looking. But it is true I’ve got a lot of distractions. I don’t want to metamorepose badly too often or readers will get the idea I’m trying to miseducate their children. Besides, you always beat me up when I get sloppy.

Harry

This started out as a post to let me mention a couple stray statistics before they evaporated from my head. Its now 7:06am. 45 minutes. Sheesh!

Gotta go make breakfast for the grandkids and see if there is any useful news in the Tribune which may be waiting me on my front porch.

PS. I haven’t proof read this post but I did decide to add that I added a colon (:) after PRIORITIES. That and this addendum added another five minutes to the posting.

The missing…

syllable.

My Buddy takes a break from critiquing my analysis and evidentiary standards to attend to something a little more prosaic:

Harry:

“metamorphis”? What are students in Independent School District 709 going to think of their academic leaders when they can’t find that word in a dictionary?

Your Buddy

http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=11603

My limp reply:

That I’m being inventive?

Thanks for the note.

Harry

In my defense I did conclude the post with this disclaimer:

(POSTED AS FIRST TYPED – meaning there has been no attempt to proof read this post yet)

And in my further defense I’d note that while my blog software does automatically spell check the contents of a post it does not allow me to spell check post titles. When unsure of the spelling in titles I often embed them in the post itself for a quick check before putting them back in the title box.

8 loyal readers plus

I’ve talked about my eight loyal readers for years. On the occasions when I’ve mentioned my actual visitors the number is a little higher. It always rises when I raise hell and blog consistently and declines when the tryptophan kicks in. Looking at the nearly complete month of January stats during which I all but ceased blogging the loyal readers seem to be averaging 158 a day. These good folks check in regularly to see if I’ve posted any more nonsense. On several days over the past two silent months I’ve been strongly inclined to post but generally backed off. However, I enjoyed blogging so much last night that I risked not falling asleep which is generally what happens after an hour of writing facing this bright computer screen. But since I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night anyway recently with my brain kicking into a wakeful overdrive I’m not so sure its all that much worse to look into the computer before bedtime. It beats lying restlessly in bed.

I’ll be leaving for Rosie’s workshops in a few minutes so I won’t get the half dozen posts that are on my mind started. Most are prompted by today’s stories in the DNT and Budgeteer. I’d also like to comment on two smashing history books I’m reading at the moment. I might have started that earlier but Claudia drafted me to make a poster for Duluth’s Olympian Anna Ringsred who is heading to Sochi for speed skating. She’s a little sweetheart and has been speed skating for ten years or more. Her supporters from our church, Glen Avon Presbyterian, will be posing after church tomorrow for a poster filled picture to put on facebook wishing her well and offering our prayers. We are all aware of the terrorist threats which have been made to embarrass the prestige of Russia.

I’ve got a good day’s worth of thoughts to spit out. I think I’ll abbreviate it under the post titles DNT Bits or something like that. Maybe then I can keep the typing down to a couple hours.

To my reading public

Thanks for keep coming around. Even with a paucity of posts I’ve had over 5,000 visitors this November. Sorry I’ve got slow fingers lately. Its not for want of ideas for posts. Its more like the quiescence (fifty cents for silence) of a volcano just before an eruption.

I’ve had plenty to do, winterizing my yard has been completed, campaign reports turned in, some embassies to new colleagues on the Board pursued. I have a massive filing to undertake of many year’s worth of clippings about Duluth School news and I still have thank yous to send out. I am optimistic for the news school year as well as wary of overconfidence. I think you can expect to read much on these themes in coming months as well as hair lice.

I confined myself to school related posts for the most of the summer and fall. I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to the many other topics Lincolndemocrat has enjoyed pontificating about. Now that I’m poised to become an insider again I’ll likely be a little more discreet about my speculation where my soon-to-be colleagues are concerned as well as a little less clueless. Rest assured, however, that any public comments made by my fellow Board members I will consider fair game for my analysis.

It may be December before I swing back into blogging mode. I have a week’s worth of old science magazines to catch up on first. They always get set aside for more pressing obligations but I can’t bear to toss them without reading them cover to cover.

Watch out for the Jersey Turnpike

Those select cinefiles who have watched the peculiar movie “Being John Malkovich” will understand this reference. That’s because the much esteemed actor, Malkovich, who seems sadly to have receded in the public conscience once was the title and major plot point of a movie by that name.

A character in the movie discovered a secret door which led to John Malkovich’s head. Enter it and you could see what John Malkovich was seeing in real time. In the movie Malkovich seemed unaware of visitors to his life. Some button, I don’t recall what,s when pushed ejected the uninvited guests to Malkovich’s life out of his head. They would land roughly next to the New Jersey Turnpike.

I think coming to www.lincolndemocrat.com is a bit like the move. Disappointingly when you visit you see my threadbare life not that of a well known Hollywood actor. Even so, when you leave there is still that dreadful moment of landing next to the Jersey Turnpike. I think that’s why so many visitors prolong their visit. They’ve come to expect a rough landing when they leave.

The writer’s studio

I’m going to work very hard to keep this a short post. It won’t be easy. After a pretty good night’s sleep I woke up in a stream of conscience state which could easily lead to 10,000 words on the blog. I didn’t have it in me to edit the 2000 plus words of the post with “more prologue” in the title.

Who would visit a site so untidy that it spews out thousands of unedited or poorly edited words? Well So far in October I’ve had 554 visitors in four and a fifth days. Here are my stats for the first four full days:

01 Oct 2013 312 725 927 17.48 MB
02 Oct 2013 274 848 962 23.42 MB
03 Oct 2013 339 704 902 17.92 MB
04 Oct 2013 372 1,007 1,216 25.99 MB

The column after the date is the days visitor count. Totaled up it is 1,277 visitors. But I’ve only had 554 actual visitors. How can that be?
Well obviously some folks are stopping by to check the blog out more than once. I’m in that mix but I probably don’t account for more than 25 visits. Perhaps my incredibly long and undisciplined posts aren’t driving people away although I sure as hell know I won’t bother to read a finished 700 word in a regular publication if the first paragraph doesn’t grab me.

This desire of mine to put it all on paper must go back a long way. I was a day dreamy kid. After High School I thought I might write a little bio on every one of the 454 kids in my graduating class. I even began writing the first bio of the first kid in the alphabet. It only took one kid to bring the project to a halt.

I think its my Mother who had the most influence on me in this regard. Since I was little she would talk to me about her family and this kicked into overdrive when her Father was put in a nursing home. She lived 600 miles to the away to the North and she and her sister lived a little farther south. It was a Minnesota/New Orleans axis with Topeka, Kansas pivot point in the center. My Mother felt guilty as hell because she couldn’t be right next to him but could only see him every two months after a day long drive. She would stay in Topeka for a couple of days and drink in family history by talking to him.

Its only recently that I’ve put two and two together to figure out what must have been happening. My Mother was belatedly finding out about her family’s history from an historically and story minded father. That’s not uncommon as an older child sees her parents life nearing its end. She in turn, perhaps in part to reinforce these conversations in her own head and to instill the memories in mine would spill them out to me after her return.

My Mother liked to chat and explore people she’d met or read about or who were family. As a consequence I have a lot of family history in my head that I’ve been spilling back out from my fingers to the page, or computer for twenty years and more. I do that because I haven’t had the same kind of chats with my kids and never expect to. But like my Mother I don’t want the data to evaporate completely when I die.

I know, I know. I said I wanted to make this a shorter post. Its going to be tough.

One of those talks with my Mother was about Earl. He was a rough character in my Dad’s fraternity. He slept around and was about 180 degrees different from my Mom and Dad but he was part of their crowd. He may not have sworn off women but I suspect he had sworn off booze. That’s because my Dad had started a little group withing the Fraternity called the “Elkhorn Club.” It was a group of kids who did not drink. It even had a cheer which consisted in part of repeating the club name elkhorn several times in a row.

Mom had obviously mentioned Earl and his easy ways to her Father in one of her extended weekend visits and he had stongly disapproved of this fellow who my Mother had found engaging. Why he could have ruined the life of a young woman by getting her pregnant. That comment must have revved up my Mother because she evidently took him to task with some vehemence over something he had told her about his experiences in World War 1.

My Grandfather got along well with another lieutenant that was his coequal in rank. This fellow, a New Yorker, had been a worldly man and told my Grandfather his ethics where women were concerned. Now my Grandfather was an attractive man with the ladies himself I suspect. I also suspect he was a pretty virtuous fellow, a good boy if you will. Well Lt. New York told my Grandfather that he liked to sleep with married women because if they got pregnant the difficulties could be hidden without shame or fuss because everyone would assume it was quite natural for her to become pregnant because she was married.

Oh, my Mother disagreed with her Dad. Why, a married woman getting pregnant by another man could break up a marriage. How could her father not realize that. Easy Earl wasn’t a threat to a family. Hoe dare her Father judge him so harshly

I’m laughing as I think and type about this now. Its partly the odd defense of different kinds of cads, Its partly the strange lesson I was being taught in my high school years by my Mother. Its very funny to me. It is also something I’ve thought about for forty years so I do understand that it was memorable. It was an ethics lesson in which there is no conclusion. Its like that Zen Buddhist word puzzle to make you get reflective, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Which is worse breaking up a family or knocking up a single girl?

I don’t know if I’ll proof read this after posting it. I’ve probably caught the worst mistakes as I’ve been typing. I can’t say that about posts that run several thousand words long and are the result of sleeplessness late at night. I don’t care. I do fuss over finished products but not as much as I should. On the flyer I’m passing out I discovered that one “his” is missing the h and so comes out “is.” I spent $329 on it and I’m not going to spend it again to fix that darned “is.”

I approach my blog like I do a piece of artwork. When I sculpt snow I begin by piling it up in one place. Over time it takes form as I move snow around or chop it away. I don’t obsess about what people think about it. They treat it like a guessing game. Maybe the unformed snow looks like a hippo or an elephant to them. They ask me and I make them guess. I don’t worry at any point because I can’t form my sculpture instantly into something. People understand that. Well writing is like that too except it is only a few privileged few who get to see the rough drafts. I guess the hundreds of people who come to read posts here manage to wade through my drafts.

Some posts like this are reasonably tidy. Others a short sparkling gems. Others are labored, turgid unending nightmares of word streams. Visitors can take from this over grown garden what they wish. Maybe like me this one will get them to weigh the relative crime of messing around with single women vs. married women. If so, enjoy the mental wrestling. I have for the last forty years. Take down. Two Points.

1 – 2 – 3

You will note that the three previous posts are not in order. That’s because I failed to post the first one when I’d completed it so that the next too jumped ahead in the procession. It would take an hour to put them in the correct order. My back is too sore from sitting in front of the computer typing for me to put up with that. I’ll trust my eight loyal readers with reading them in any order they wish.

The same goes for the proof reading and editing. I don’t have the stamina to do it at the moment. Please forgive me. Two hours is all I’ve got in me right now.