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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Curmudgeon roundup

Fellow curmudgeon Russ took a trip to D.C. and is now back. He's had some interesting posts since his return.

Woody has an interesting post about the sale of electronic voting machines.

Cornfield has a chart showing the human cost of Afghanistan over eight years and counting.

Michael Manning has a series of posts for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I greatly applaud all the energy and effort he has put into getting this message out and putting on a concert benefit to help out children.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Catching up

Mom's home. She's going to have a time recovering, but she is glad to be out of medical care and dependent on nurses to dispense her pain medication (usually thirty minutes or more late).

I had a pleasant round of golf today, my buddies I usually play with on Sunday mornings are taking a few weeks off for medical reasons so I did an afternoon round. It's definitely different at that time of day over early in the morning.
Now for my continuing saga of church.
We moved to Farmington, NM and lived there for six months. I was in fifth grade. While in Farmington we attended Calvary Baptist Church. I don't have much to say about the church. Instead we jump ahead to when I'm in college at Wayland. I was a member of FBC Plainview my freshman year when another student joined the church and they announced she was from Calvary Baptist Church in Farmington. I introduced myself to her and she let me know her father was paster (not the same pastor as when we were members). Her name was Pat as mine and her last name started with a P as well. We became good friends, even dated a time or two and she was always willing to type up my term papers as I was a horrible typist on old manual typewriters where you had to stop and correct mistakes with liquid white out. I do love computers with automatic spell checkers.
Getting back to the story: She married our junior year and I married the first time that year after the school year was over. We had classes together as seniors and she was great with child. I used to kid her that she had an unfair advantage as the class was in stadium seats without a solid platform to write on and she had a built in shelf. Because our names were so similar other students kept getting us confused in the chess tournaments. We started calling each other twin and it kind of stuck. We still call each other twin. Spiritual twins so to speak.
After graduation our first marriages didn't last. I missed our ten year class reunion as auntypesty was born a couple of weeks before that years' homecoming. At our twenty year reunion I ran into a mutual friend who let me know what was happening in her life at that time and it wasn't good. When we (grinnygranny goes with me to these things) went to the thirtieth anniversary (my how does time fly) a few years back the mutual friend gave me Pat's e-mail address. I e-mailed her and sent her a copy of Optimus. She started e-mailing me back. She'd changed her name to Anne Littlewolf, and is becoming a well known artist in her part of Colorado. She let me know she'd written and illustrated a children's book. I told her to come down and go with me to Southwest writers, which she did. It was nice getting together again and catching upon old times. Her book is really good, but that market is really hard to break into. She brought me one of her paintings as a gift, it's the one with the golden aspens. The header picture and the others are some of her fantastic art.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just a thought

My mother is still in rehab from her knee replacement surgery. Almost all of her income she generates from her pension as a school secretary goes to pay for health insurance. If my father hadn't left her his pension she would be in serious trouble. This is with Medicare.
Within all the smoke screen over health care reform, the one point I haven't heard made by either side this one: Even if there is a public plan, or they make Medicare available to all, the insurance companies will then offer a plan that covers what the government doesn't.
The insurance companies are saying that if there is a public plan or Medicare is extended to everyone then they'd go out of business. That's sheer nonsense. They stand to lose a lot of money with any health reform bill, which is a good thing for the taxpayers of this country since they are like ticks drinking up the life blood of this country and contributing little back for what they take in.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Sung to the tune "Unforgettable"

Inconceivable that our country would stray so far...
Inconceivable that people could be so blind...

I was thinking today about all the things over the past years I thought would never happen and did:

  • That Bush would be elected twice.
  • That we'd be fighting two unwinnable and needless wars at the same time for over eight years.
  • That Wall Street could melt down due to lack of government oversight and a year later nothing has changed.
  • That people still listen to Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck.
  • That the American Patriot act would be passed at all, and then renewed and is up for renewal again.
  • That the gulf coast area of this country is still in shambles this many years after Katrina (when Florida the year before Katrina was hit by five hurricanes and there wasn't any problem helping them rebuild).
  • That America would resort to torture, and that Baptists would be the ones who support it.
  • That we still have people incarcerated in Guantanimo.
  • That an intellectual African-American could be elected president.
  • That there are still people who doubt Obama was born in Hawaii.
  • That there are people who think No Child Left Behind improved education.
  • That we are still dependent on foreign oil.
  • That people still believer climate change is a hoax.
  • That the one post I wrote that still gets the most hits is I've Been Fooled. That was about The Princess Bride. Which gave me the picture and thrust of this post.

Friday, September 18, 2009


With Mom in rehab and all the news filled with the health care debate I thought I'd put my two cents worth in again.

70% of doctors want a public health plan.They are tired of fighting for their money with bureaucrats. Over 70% of the public want a public plan. 20% of the people have been whipped up into a frenzy because they think illegal immigrants would be getting these benefits. Which they already are on Medicaide. The AARP wants a public plan. If everyone goes broke paying for private health care, if businesses go under because they can't make a profit due to high premiums then no one is paying into the Medicare system for them. Right now the poor have a government health plan, the elderly have a government health plan. Both of those plans spend 3% on administrative costs. The working and middle class are the only ones without a government health plan (unless you work for the government and have their plan) They are the ones paying through the nose for health insurance. Private insurance companies spend 20% on admin costs, mostly to deny coverage or delay payments as long as possible. A public option would require everyone to pay into the system which is a burden only on 20-30 year old men. Women have medical expenses the minute they go on birth control. At age 40 and up men start having dental, vision and health issues that need being covered.
Last year the U.S. had 700,000 medical related bankruptcies. Canada, England, Germany, France, Italy, Japan all of them had zero (0) bankruptcies due to health costs since they have universal health care.
Obviously the private insurance companies want to stay defective slot machines that never pay off. The New York Times three days ago had an article about Wall Street wanting to cash in on those with terminal illnesses. If you have a life insurance policy and are diagnosed as terminal you can cash in your policy at 40 cents on the dollar. If you have a million dollar policy they'll pay you 400 grand, pay the premiums until you die (hopefully very soon) and they reap 600 thousand dollars. The only thing that would ruin this new gravy train would be 1) people get cured and don't die 2) we get decent health care and those who have terminal illness don't have to cash in their policies to pay medical bills.
This hit home for my family as my sister was one of those forced to cash in her life insurance early, thus depriving her husband and daughter the 60% they sacrificed that would help them go on with their lives now she's gone.
The only thing that will get good paying jobs back in this country is affordable health care.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mom's Recovery

Mom's out of the hospital and into a rehab center. She's fighting with the nurses over pain medication, when she gets better the posts on her blog will be very interesting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Waiting, waiting and waiting

Mom had knee replacement surgery this morning. We have been here since six this morning. Around noon the nurse here in the waiting room told me they'd move her out of recovery in about twenty minutes. It's now 3:30 and they haven't moved her to a room. She having trouble keeping her oxygen level up if she falls asleep, what I've been told, they won't let me in with her. I've used up my computer battery twice. The waiting room doesn't have any electrical outlets by the chairs. I am getting some quality editing time on my novel-in-progress.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Memories of Faith

A few posts ago I was hypercritical of a local mega church. Bruce has been doing a series of posts on his departure from fundamentalism. If you haven't read his posts, they are well worth your time. Michael Prescott (no relation) has a lengthy passage from Anna Karenina detailing Tolstoy's epiphany concerning faith.
This got me thinking about my own personal walk and that a series of posts on this would be better than ranting and raving on other things.

Earliest remembrances
I grew up in church. I have fleeting memories of churches in Pueblo, Co where we lived until age nine. The first real impact a church had on me was at Sandia Baptist Church here in Albuquerque when I was ten. This is the churches fiftieth anniversary year and for many of those years it had a decided impact on our family. Hey Bruce and I met our wives at this church, if that's not a decided impact nothing is.
What I remember about this church was Wednesday night services. The church had old army barracks (long since replaced) one of them held the kitchen and dining area, and as most SBC churches at that time before the midweek prayer meeting they served a meal, everyone came, paid a small amount and sat down at long tables for a pleasant breaking of bread. It was warm, friendly, there were lots of kids my age to eat with as the grownups left us alone for their own conversations. Not many churches have Wednesday prayer meeting anymore, and even fewer have a kitchen and serve meals. So much of the soul of the church departed when this practice ended. Those dinner tables is where the friendships that last a lifetime were born.
The first Sunday School teacher I remember was Bob May. I was in a class of about ten boys my age and instead of lecturing us, this very soft spoken and patient man would let each of us read a few verses of the lesson out of our Bibles. He would then make a few pertinent points about the lesson and the class would be over. Mr. May's daughter-in-law works with Grinnygranny, and when I made application to APS they called me in rejecting my application saying that my references weren't "professional." I was beginning to become quite agitated when I saw Bob May walk through the office. He was the chief financial officer for APS, and his presence struck utter terror in any administrator who spent a penny the wrong way. I waved at him, said hi. He waved back and walked into the other office. I then told the lady he would be a reference for me. I was hired.
You have no idea how small the Baptist community is here.
Bruce and I made our professions of faith here and were baptized together. I remember that I didn't hold my breath long enough as the pastor dunked me and I came up coughing.
At this time we started making trips to Glorieta. Mom went up for a meeting. Bruce and I had a few hours on the grass outside the chappel. We took up our baseball gloves and played catch, and a number of other things to occupy our time. When Mom came out and we drove home it wasn't until we got out of the car that I discovered I'd left my glove in Glorieta. A devastating experience for a ten year old. The other visit to Glorieta at this time was a once in a lifetime spectacular. Unfortunately I was too young to appreciate it. All the choirs in the state practiced for months to perform the entire Handel's Messiah. The soloists performed the same concert at Ridgecrest NC (the other SBC encampment). The place was packed. We were way in the back and could barely see the stage. The booklet we were given had the words of the songs so you could follow along, but I was bored stiff. The only high light was that in the middle of the performance the booklet had the Hallelujah Chorus with the notes so the entire audience could sing along. I enjoyed that. The second half (which to this day I've never heard or seen performed again) took forever. There was real heartbreak as we spread Penni's ashes in the prayer gardens this past summer in Glorieta, but my heart also breaks for a place so special for most of my life that has become a shadow of its former self. The SBC has all but abandoned this encampment. Oklahoma and Texas have build competing camps and they made up most of the campers.
The next year we moved away from that part of town and joined another church. We would becomes members of this church numerous times over the years and the people we met and became friends with are still a part of our lives.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Work weekend

Grinnygranny had Friday off and with today off as well we decided to do something we've put off for fifteen years. When we bought our house it came with the most gawdawful brown patterned wall paper in the foyer and hallway. Friday Grinnygranny, Auntypesty and C pulled it all off, not an easy job. Saturday we painted the walls with primer. Yesterday Grinnygranny rested, E & C went to the wine tasting in Bernalillo, Autypesty went to church and I golfed with my buddies. Today we're applying light blue paint to the walls and painting all the doorways white. It's quite a job, but it looks so much lighter and brighter than before.
I hope others are having a pleasant labor day. Our staycation is turning into quite a bit of work.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Hat tip to Yikes. They're so good I had to post them here too.
Rchard Reeves has a column with some interesting statistics concerning health care. This is the one tht caught my eye.
In a joint study by Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School of the number of bankruptcies attributed to medical bills each year, the United States' total was approximately 700,000. The French total was zero. The Italian total was zero. The German total was zero. The Japanese total was zero. The Canadian total was zero
For those not good at word problems, thats:
U.S. 700,000 bankruptcies due to heath costs
France 0
Italy 0
Germany 0
Japan 0
Canada 0
How much healthier would our economy be, how much more spending power would the average American have, how many more jobs would be created with this extra spending power, if Congress only had a brain?

Saturday, September 05, 2009


More Right Wing Bullshit.

I'm a graduate of Wayland Baptist College and attended for one year Southwester Baptist Theological Seminary. What I remember from my religion and theology classes was it seemed every class had one or more students that always tried to pin the professor down as to what their personal belief was on the given topic. See there's been two thousand years of theologians trying to make a name for themselves by advancing a different interpretation for every verse of scripture in the Bible. On certain topics there can be a dozen or more points of view. The text and professors would explain the interpretation and then give its strengths and weaknesses. What the professors would not do is tell you which one of the interpretations they thought was the right one or their personal belief. There are two very good educational reasons for this. 1) The professor being the authority figure would exert undue influence on the students, which leads to point #2 It's the students' responsibility to judge from the pros and cons and figure it out on their own. I remember Dr. Bishop spending sometimes half the class arguing with students that were so frustrated because he wouldn't be pinned down. You could see those students get all huffy, "How dare he not tell us how to think."
Theology is not like Math where 2 + 2 = 4.
Sadly since 1978 education has been replaced at Southern Baptist Seminaries by brain washing. There is only one official way to interpret the Bible. The fundamentalist view which they beat over everyone's head with the buzz word inerrant. "The Bible is inerrant." Which means they and their interpretation is inerrant. All the other interpretations are never mentioned.

Now I'm sure many of my hippie political blogger friends are scratching their heads and wondering what the hell I'm rambling on about. I've said this in preamble to what I read a few days ago by Cal Thomas.
Cal Thomas is on our local Op/Ed page. If I ever want my blood pressure to go through the roof I just have to read his column. Most of the time he is so stupid it's not worth the time and effort to refute his errors, myths, and down right lies. This one struck a chord.
He was defending right wing colleges and professors who fail any students that don't regurgitate exactly what they've been told is true.
He said that if liberal colleges and liberal professors fail students for not answering the way they want them to, then conservative colleges and professors should be able to do the same.
Beyond the obvious that two wrongs don't make a right. Liberal colleges and professors don't fail conservative students for answering a different way. Cal Thomas was PROJECTING the conservative thought process onto what they consider to be liberal practices. As I've pointed out education doesn't give a party line. Education (what they consider to be liberal) embraces and accepts multiple interpretations and thought. Education wants you to think and figure things out for yourself. If students still thing the world if flat or the sun revolves around the earth, then they might find that their beliefs will get them a wrong answer on a science test. In the humanities if an opinion is asked there are no wrong answers, you're graded on your ability to defend your answer. Somehow an answer, "Jerry Falwell said so," isn't very convincing.

Which leads to another column I read in Alternet by Max Blumenthal. He mentions a little remembered letter by President Eisenhower where he warns that the greatest threat to democracy was an electorate who was too eager to follow an authority figure who tells them how to think instead of thinking for themselves.

He (Eisenhower) explained to Biggs that Hoffer “points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems — freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” The authoritarian follower, Eisenhower suggested, desired nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society.

Erica Jong had an article in the Huffpo with an interesting take on the health care smack down. She explained that her husband was a divorce lawyer and that it's always the crazy partner, the one who's unreasonable and does all the screaming and fussing that gets what they want. The reasonable partner gets screwed. She equates all the crazy things happening at the town hall meetings that represent only a fraction of the general population, but that they are the ones being heard will most likely keep us from getting the type of health reform we need.

Maybe it's time to take the debate away from the demagogues and start thinking and acting for ourselves.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009