Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Accidental Literacy

There is so much accidental literacy in life these days. Computer literacy, writing literacy, social literacy.

      I post on Facebook or send an e-mail, and must naturally try for a modicum of skills at writing English. Most email and social network editors will underline my misspells, and let me right-click to correct them. Perhaps I will even pay attention to the correct spellings and remember them – stranger things have happened.

     Sometimes I'll follow a link and read an article in the New York Times or the UK Guardian. My tired brain is presented with a well-laid out logical progression of facts and positions. I assume these have been thoroughly proof-read. Some of my sharp-eyed friends catch errors in these articles, but I rarely, if ever, see any. So I get immersed in literacy once again.

     Even if I never wrote another poem, nor short story nor essay or even a Facebook rant, the act of using the Internet for everyday life functioning soaks me in a sea of syntax and grammar, quips and quotes, theses and theories. Where once I had to actively seek out books and look for learning, now I cannot escape it. Since I do not plan on giving up the Internet (arguably the most important of modern conveniences), this will go on until the day I am planted underground.

     Mostly, it is a gift. Human minds have effectively been inter-networked to the degree that our knowledge has become meta-knowledge, a living, growing entity that will last as long as the electricity is on. Difficult to imagine my teenage years in the previous century, those dark times when all we had were record albums, paperbacks or comics, black-light posters, and the regularly-practiced stupefaction of doing drugs. Determined to be dumb, we succeeded in a stellar fashion. Today's teens could chew us up and spit us out in their stride: they seem far brighter than we were. There are exceptions to every rule, of course.

     If there is a point to this rant it is this: Literacy (whether or not it is of high quality) is a mouse click or finger twitch away these days. And that is very good, or at least darned convenient.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, September 13, 2013


     The news came out that the U.S. And Russia have reached some kind of agreement regarding Syria. Sounds good to me, since I really did not want world war III. Vladimir Putin's attitude still rankles, though. The USA is special – if for no other reason than we are made up of immigrants and refugees from every other nation on earth (native Americans aside). Refugees escaping harsh living conditions and even harsher regimes from many of the same countries that “we” came from. So, yes, Mr. Putin, we are special. We are made up of those fleeing your society and many others, hoping for and working towards a better life. Although far from perfect, I think we have done pretty well.

But hey, I'm all for keeping the peace, when I rationally consider the alternatives. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Putin writes an article

Putin pouts at us

It is really amazing how the Russian leader criticizes us. Their human rights record is abysmal, and their client state, Syria, is massacring its own citizens. We have to bull in there and threaten to strike just to get their attention.

Assad had said that if a patient cuts off an arm that has gangrene, this is not terrorism or massacre – comparing his gassing the rebels with amputation, I suppose.

If the West took this same philosophy, we should “amputate” Syria – or even Russia. Maybe it is finally time to settle the big unspoken question once and for all. What to do about Russia. Maybe throw everything we have at them and scorch the continent down to bedrock. Make it glow for ten thousand years. It will remind the rest of the world to stay in line and act civilized.

One can only fantasize. But it would be nice if everyone could get along. Yeah, another fantasy there. Oh well, Glad tomorrow is Friday. Maybe there will be another war to watch on CNN by the weekend.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve years later

War memories cascade past,
repeating images of huge planes striking
immense buildings, ejecting fireballs –
Screams of fear and misery, that
muted drumbeat of thousands
running for their lives.

Bodies tumbled out of windows,
Absurd leaps of faith a last hope;
Concrete and steel flattened like some
giant defective cake, crushing
everything in its path.

Cloud of deadly dust hung over NYC for days.

Gas spiked, panicked lines formed.
Many left work early,
only thing flying were
national guard helicopters.

The world turned upside down that day,
and we are still reeling.

Twelve years later, the
wounds have scabbed over,
but may never heal completely.

Memories of the dead are honored,
heroes who gave their lives in our defense
even more so – they will not be forgotten.

We got the perpetrators,
delivered our rightly harsh response.
Yet it seems we have been forever changed.

Nine-eleven burned into my brain,


now -



Monday, September 09, 2013

Goodbye Max

Rest in Peace, Max

Bright-eyed fluffy surprise,
eager tail and happy bark –
puppy Max made our spirits rise,
scampering around on some lark.

Our happy four-legged presence
lightened our mood and our days,
Made complete our residence,
unless he had to go out (without delay).

We'll miss you, little buddy –
not only Lew and Kath
but everyone else in the family,
who petted you and got a tongue bath...

Kibbles and kisses and lovins and more,
you left us with cheerful memories galore.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

so much for resolutions

Already missed a day - but I blame a writers meeting that occurs once a month - was a great source of inspiration, and fun besides.   If anyone is reading this that is a fledgling writer, a regular groups is a precious resource - join one if possible, either online or in person.  

I see we are moving closer to a strike in Syria.   After the two very costly wars we recently extricated ourselves from  (the US I mean), I just cannot fathom it.  There have been numerous casualties inflicted by other means, some say over 100,000 dead.    But now because of some evidence of a chemical agent, the US feels it has to go in and smite the Assad regime with missiles.   Right in the middle of a bloody civil war, we have to go in and clobber one side.   Now, what is a European power did something like that in the midst of our civil war?   Would we just stop, lay down our rifles and say  "okay, we are sorry".    Perhaps some power might have been aghast at the wholesale burning of cities like Atlanta by the GAR, and decided to step in and punish A. Lincoln by an offshore bombardment of New York or somesuch.   It is absurd, of course.

      Why every president we have gets such a hard-on for military action these days is beyond me, unless it is sheer egomania.   But some evidence of chemical attack on a relatively small group of people, in the midst of much larger slaughter, is no reason for the USA to sacrifice more blood and treasure  (or IOU's) for some damned foreign power on the other side of the globe.   Again.

But we will - you watch.  

Monday, September 02, 2013

30-day challenge

Another author came up with the idea of writing a blog post every day for 30 days, so, why not - sounds like a great idea.  But poems just don't grow on trees, so many of these will be rambling prose by necessity. 

     Day 1 - Sept 1st.    The river was shallow, but the sun canted a little bit sideways, the air lost a bit of humidity, and the temps felt perfect on our exposed skin.  We splashed about in the water, walked along sandy banks, took pictures and more pictures, chatted about anything and everything.  As the sun fell towards 7:30 P.M., we gathered up our things and made our way back to the car.   My body felt so alive, invigorated and relaxed at the same time.  It was another delightful river outing.  A unique one as only these two friends and I can pursue.    And it only cost us the gas to get there, and any drinks we took along.  Perfect.

Day 2 - today.  Thinking ahead to a possible trip to Palm Springs.  The hotel costs a fortune, airfare is not cheap either, and then there is car rental.  I should be saving my meager scraps for retirement, not going on a trip like this.   But my aging body informs me in its own way that time is passing, I won't be here forever.  Perhaps I need to do a few trips like this, to see some things I've only read about previously before my "meter runs out".   The debate rages back and forth.  I think 'how dare he, he knows I earn very little, etc etc.'   Then,   'Maybe I ought to be glad, having someone goad me to go do things I would be too reluctant or even timid to try on my own.'    February is a long way off, and the jury is still out.   We shall see.   Meanwhile, it is a gorgeous morning here in Des Moines, with cool temps and sunshine.   Glad for that in any case.