Happy Days

May 31, 2011

Remember when you were a teenager. I sort of do. There were those happy days when you were out with your friends at the beach, or crusin’ main street for endless hours. Even working was fun because you were making money  to pay for gas and going out. It was an awakening time of budding emancipation.

As I recall, the times of unhappiness and depression were few. Oh, sure every kid had fear of a pimple outbreak  just before the prom, or worse, not going to the prom at all. But those small regressions  disappeared quickly.

Nowadays, kids don’t seem to be able to have the fun that we had. The world has changed. According to recent reports, They also suffer from more than pimples and self-consciousness.

They have a new affliction; one that no other generation before them has ever confronted.

“Faceboof  Depression.”

It seems that the “social media”, (God I hate that phrase) is causing sadness and depression among some of the country’s teens.  More and more kids are reading on the Faceboof  about the happy and fun-filled lives their friends are living. They see the glamorous color photos of their friends going here and doing that. Then, they compare all that excitement to their own perceived boring, pitiful existence and feel depressed and alone.

I imagine that it must weigh on a young person’s mind when their life, as an open book for all the world to see, is not filled with the chats and tweets hyperbole that is twenty-first century America.

I myself nearly fell into Faceboof depression several weeks ago when I noticed  that someone had indeed “unfriended” me. 

What did I say? How could I possible have offended her? I racked my brain thinking about it and fell into a mild depression.

I was resigned that I had somehow become a social media miscreant. I had become a computer age leper. I was just about to go monastic, when out of the blue, a few days ago, Kristy casually mentioned that she had quit the Faceboof as she had too much work to do and it was beginning to annoy her.

Wait, what?  What did she say?

So it wasn’t me. She unfriended the entire Faceboof. I was not alone in my unbefriending.  Joyful now, as I realize I am not the deviant I imagined. 

Oh, happy days.


Memorial Day

May 29, 2011

This past week, members of the 3rd Army regiment called The Old Guard, have placed hundreds of thousands of American flags at the gravesites of our nation’s fallen in Arlington National Cemetery and other military cemeteries around the D. C. area. 

The tradition, known as “flags in,” has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the Regiment participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.

 As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.

Of course, there are veteran’s cemeteries all over the United States, and many have flags placed at their gravesites, recognizing the soldiers and marines who are buried there. The day before Memorial Day, the Boy Scouts place thousands of flags on military gravesites at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis. There are also memorials such as the U.S.S. Arizona for the fallen to rest right where they died.

In addition, there  are memorial cemeteries overseas. They are in Europe, in France, Belgium, England, and Italy. They are in Tunisia, Africa and Manilla, Philippines and many other places around the globe. There are also countless thousands lost and buried at sea, when their ships went down or their planes crashed. These fallen have no flags on their graves but must be remembered by us as well.

War is so terrible, but these, our fallen young who died fighting in war are so precious.

We remember you all and may you rest in peace.

The class trip.

May 27, 2011

It is the end of the school year. The teachers are tired and sick of this batch of kids. The kids are sick of school and they look forward to the delights of summer. The moms are just sick and tired of being the school, soccer practice, dance class chauffeur.

To celebrate this  immense joy and happiness at having completed another year, lots of class trips are taken in the spring.

During the last week of school in the Midwest, kids in the primary schools are usually treated to field trips to institutions and events where teachers and parent helpers try to link  classroom studies to life in the real world. 

Kate’s class has had several outings this year, including a trip to Jefferson City to see government ” in action.” They also went to the science center and the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. The trip to the Gardens was to be linked  to the kids’ science projects and observations on how things grow, the weather etc.

The trip was planned as an all day affair, beginning with exhibits is the morning, a lunch in the park and more exhibits in the afternoon.

Well, the morning session went well and about 12 o’clock, the kids and parent escorts walked a few blocks to Tower Grove  park to have their picnic lunch.

After lunch, while beginning to walk back to the Botanical Gardens, Kate’s mom, Wendy and a couple of the other attending moms noticed a gathering storm was bearing down on the happy picnic goers. Urging the kids to walk faster, the moms and teachers attempted to get their charges under the Garden’s shelter before the skies opened up. The day was getting darker and the winds were building. In the back of even the youngest child’s mind had to be the image  of  the tornadoes which had swept the Midwest recently.

Arriving back at the Gardens, the group of about 100 kids and adults, initially gathered in the glass atrium, but as the wind picked up further,  everyone moved down into the relatively safe area of the auditorium. The kids settled in the nice cushy seats.

Given the weather, it was decided to cancel the planned afternoon program and show a movie  to the kids until the buses arrived to take them back to school.

The film selected was, ….The Wizard of Oz!!!   Of course! 

The Wizard of Oz, Are you kidding me? Who’s idea was that?

With the wind howling and hail raining down outside, Wendy and a few other adults thought, hey maybe this is not such a good idea.

It was agreed to fast forward the film to after the “landing”  in Oz,  so the 100 or so eight to ten-year old kids would not see how Dorothy and Toto travelled.

Ten minutes later the power went out and the screen went dark.



May 25, 2011


When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all …Paul Simon, Kodachrome, 1973


I graduated from high school forty-five years ago this week. I remember the graduation, and I remember being in high school. I just don’t remember learning anything while I was there.  During that time I was mainly interested in girls, cars, beer and working (to get money to spend on girls, cars and  beer).

It was not until I got older did I realized how important, necessary and fun learning can be. I actually started studying in college and began to enjoy discovering new things. Nowadays, I try to learn something new each day and often send for courses on CD’s. Heck, I even have a couple of math courses around here.

This week, there are a lot of graduations around town. In a few years, my grandkids will join in these commencement exercises. They are all fresh faced and eager to learn. I hope so.

Wish all the graduates you know the very best as they commence their new learned lives. They are the future of our species.  

Let’s hope they can,  as Paul Simon sings, ” read the writing on the wall“…. because,

“Everything looks worse in black and white.”

new speak

May 24, 2011


Pursuant to regulations promulgated thereunder and commencing in accordance with a statute signed herein by the President,  the government shall be precluded from writing the pompous gibberish heretofore evidenced, to the extent practicable.

You won’t have this type of gibberish from the Federal government to clog up you brain anymore. Congress has  passed and the President has signed a law mandating that Federal bureaucrats speak and write in plain English. The mandate is obviously designed to make Federal publications and information more readable and citizen friendly.

The law takes effect in October 2011, when Federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public.

The kicker is, that the law still permits the government to write nonsensical notes to itself. Oh, brother.

Next up, I wonder when they will pass a law mandating that politicians speak truthfully…

Random rules

May 23, 2011

Everyone needs a code to live by.

I have several, plus, I have certain rules which I follow daily to keep my life as orderly as practicable. One of my rules is when I am out in my car, I never go to more that three places a day. I have followed this rule consistently for years and it has held me in good stead. The only exception I allow is if I have to go to the bank. Since I go to the drive thru and do not get out of the car, technically it is not considered a bona fide stop.

Anyway, the other day, I was coming out of the market, which was my third stop of the day. When I arrived at my car, I discovered that a huge black SUV from Nissan was parked next to me. It was so close I could not squeeze between the cars much less open my door. Why is it some people never consider the other person when they park?

I debated a minute trying to decide whether or not to wait for the driver of the behemoth to return so I could give him/her parking lessons. I finally decided that I would not,  figuring  I might get shot for my trouble given how some people react nowadays.

So, I decided to enter my car from another door.  Getting in the passenger side was easy, however, climbing over the console was a bit more of a challenge given that I am not as flexible as I once was. Nevertheless I made it,  and left the big black monster to its own gas sucking self.

Happy at being free, I headed home with the radio on, the sunroof open and my container of jambalaya soup by my side, when all of a sudden, I noticed a grey streak out of the corner of my right eye.

 Quickly focusing, I realize it is one of those grey minivans and it is cutting in front of me. No signal, no warning,  no room.

I slammed on my brakes ( good thing “The Flex” has excellent brakes!) and swerved to the left, narrowing missing the evil minivan. With that, I let go with the horn to announce to the driver that a mistake was made.

About a 100 yards further down the road, there was a red light and I pulled up next to the minivan. Looking through my open window, I was about to inform the driver of his lack of road manners, when I noticed that the van was driven by a woman in one of those arab-style hijabs. She was in her early twenties and she had an identically dressed woman as her passenger. I could not see what else was in the van.

The women did not acknowledge my presence as I lectured them on their lack of safe driving and overall bad manners. Finally, realizing, they were hopeless, I told them the next time they pull a trick like that, they might get to see Allah sooner than expected.

Later, while at home enjoying my slightly spilled jambalaya soup, I saw the following news article.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the kingdom and posted a video of herself behind the wheel.

I thought to myself, Saudi Arabia, you should let your women drive, but first teach them how.

The other day started out pretty normal. I got up about six, let Kuno out and made some coffee. Things moved along fairly well and I took a shower and was getting dressed when it happen. I was sitting on the wooden box at the foot of the bed putting on my socks for the day when all of a sudden I get this searing pain in my back. It felt like someone had wacked me with a bat. I managed to finish with the socks and stand up. But this was certainly not going to be a good day.

I hobbled across the room and gingerly sat down trying to figure out what fresh hell this was.  I am used to the migrating aches and pains that I routinely describe to Dr. Zorro, but this one was all together different. It reminded me of the incident many years ago which occurred while walking on the streets of San Francisco. It took about five days to feel better then, but I was younger and more flexible.

I spent most of the morning  trying to compensate for my back pain, when I realized that my leg was starting to hurt because of my stupid and clumsy attempts to correct my back by walking weird.

Finally, I decided to go to the drug store for some pain meds and some Icy Cold or Icy Hot I could not recall which, as I was delerious with pain. As I tried to ease myself  into my car,  both my back AND my leg were on my mind and little else.

Just as I got settled into the seat with keys in hand, I discovered (too late) that I had sat on my glasses.

Looking at the mangled frames and dislocated lenses, I realized, I should have stayed in bed and spent the day sockless.