Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Be Offended

     It has recently come to my attention the issue of people, individuals or groups, being “Offended” and this being made an issue of, especially by conservatives. Okay, if they want to play this way, I can too. I propose there be no limit on age of the fetus for an abortion – it is purely up to the mother. And I propose that federal funding be available not only for education and medicare treatments, but for any kind of abortion. It is entirely up to the woman carrying the fetus and her partner. Offended yet? I thought so.
Gay marriage is a thing to be celebrated, and should be sanctioned by every religion in the land, and allowed in any church whatsoever. Offended yet? I thought so.
Our society should be made 100 percent secular with regard to any kind of government institution or property. No prayers whatsoever, no religious symbols allowed on any government property, federal state or city. Religion is to be practiced and acknowledged in the home or church and that is it – period. No crosses of any kind allowed in public, unless they are to be Burned! Offended yet? I thought so.

So you see, taking offense can go either way. Believe in whatever kind of magical fairy-tale god you want, but keep your garbage out of my face, my government and my way of life.

But while I'm on the topic, here are a few things that really offend me:

401-K's held by millions of Baby Boomers nearing retirement only giving a fraction of a percent interest growth. Millions face poverty and declining purchasing power, and rising medical costs.

Wages flat or declining in purchasing power, while a few very rich billionaires buy up everything in sight.

Costs of drugs and medical care increasing at least 10 percent a year, in an era of nearly no inflation otherwise. The only reason these things are going up is pure greed. Makes our country more like a failed state everyday.

Religious ideologues hijacking our congress and creating gridlock, and inability to get anything done, all because of their unwavering belief in a fairy-tale book that was mistranslated in the first place. We are becoming more like the theocracy of Iran every day. They should all be sent to ISIS, since that is who they most resemble. Fanaticism is crazy wherever it takes root.

Lots of things to be pissed off about. Ain't it great.

Now we are all offended. What has changed? Not a damn thing.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Experimental Tales revised

Just got a recent collection of short stories revised.  Two more stories have been added.   Enjoy.


Happy reading all.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Time Arrows Forward

We speed through our lives and do so many things,
Rushing fast to the ultimate ending, to wonder
where it all went. But if we could rewind and change,
change, change choices, change motions and responses.

If a sneeze or boiled water can create an outcome
that affects the universe, how can we be sure anything
we do is right?

A snowflake may fall and start an avalanche,
A rock may get thrown and alter a destiny,
A car accident may snuff out a bright light.
A word misspoken could start a nasty fight,
result in a lost job, career and many fine nights.

Every choice has many possible outcomes.
How is it possible that there is a universe for each?
In our minds most anything is possible,

With our look-ahead and remember-back brains,
we truly are the masters of the universe.
Or at least our small corner of it.

Tiny bipedal gods with dexterous manipulators.
We can look forward by mapping possibilities,
we can look back by sifting through our memory.
We can co-operate and achieve mighty works.

Be careful what you wish for,
so that you know what to do if you get it.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sunny Days

Autumn approaches

Humid air gives way, finally, to cooler breezes.
Then, the skies open up.
Deluge after deluge;
streets flood,
stalled cars litter the roadways.

Somehow I make it to a restaurant and back..
The divine is with me – or lady luck.
I make it back home,
fed with conversation and fish fillets.
It is Friday night, I am lucky, all is well.

Today I am grateful for all the good in life.
No need for drama or hyperbole or alarm.
Life is good and I am grateful.

May life's blessings flow out to everyone!

Sunny days are coming again.

- end

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Money Ethos

Just got done watching a documentary with Woody Harrelson called Ethos. Another sad reminder that our country is not really a Democracy, but a capital-ocracy. Money is in charge. The richest politicians win. Their biggest donors get special favors or choice appointments. And war is an ever-more-profitable business. No real surprise there - I've heard it before.  I just wonder what will happen when the US is completely and totally in hock to the rest of the world. Can we “war” our way out of that? And how will we pay for it? Food for thought, enough to give me a stomachache. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


When I set out on a grand adventure, a ten-year goal to achieve wondrous accomplishments in the literary world, I had little notion of what to expect. I visualized book deals, regular royalty checks, being able to work from anywhere, living the good life. Of course I found out it is not so simple or easy as all that.

Along the way, I've met some fine writer friends and enjoyed good socializing times. I've heard many interesting life stories, from people in diverse fields. Seeing actual books out with my name on them was a thrill, as well as stories published by other entities. I've gone to some fun book events and signings, and met great people there. Even writing classes I attended were enjoyable in various ways. The journey has been interesting.

But recently a young football player for the Iowa Hawkeyes (Tyler Sash)  passed away. One of his friends mentioned in passing that when the football season – and career – ended, the individual seemed lost, bereft almost. “It was as if he put all of his hopes into Football, and when that ended, he was adrift.”

This imparted to me an important lesson. “Success” is not so much excelling at one thing, although that may help in the short term. But throughout life, greater satisfaction comes from pursuing many different things. Hobbies, books, movies, travel, gardening. You may not be the best at any pursuit, but you owe it to yourself to become well-rounded, to try out different pursuits. That way if one thing does fall through, you have a net of other activities you can “land on” and keep up with. A one-trick pony soon becomes bored, in my opinion.

If this young man's unfortunate, tragic death can be said to accomplish anything, it was to make it clear to people that pursuit of a sports career to the exclusion of everything else carries great danger. Injuries can sideline you. Your career can be over at age 30 or 35, and then what do you do? Yet we spend huge sums on new stadiums and facilities, much more so than in any knowledge-based pursuits. Just so our youth can batter each other into submission for a higher point total. Insane. Skewed priorities.

Anyway, there are many ways to measure success. An enjoyable afternoon gardening, and the joy it can give, is as great a success as crossing a finish line or scoring a goal. Spread your interests around.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Happy Labor Day 2015

Happy labor day today
as we enjoy our free Monday;
97 % of companies give it off,
prepare the barbecues, play some golf.

Politicians will not take the day off,
rather march in parades and speak.
The rest of us will endure their message,
while munching our burgers, brats and chips.

The parades march and show strident signage,
Declaring defiance and solidarity always.
In this day and age there are undertones of absurdity,
After decades of outsourcing it seems a losing battle.

But we still try and oppose the unstoppable force
of greed in society, some of it our own.
There are times it does good,
higher minimum wages won,
greater benefits, shorter workdays.
A five-day week for many now.

Human natures push back and forth,
Gaining and losing ground. Somehow,
we get fed and clothed and rested,
only to enter the fray all over the next day.

Happy Labor Day 2015 everyone.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Monks closing on Two Centuries

      All the young man wanted when they finally arrived at the confluence of two rivers was to dismount and rest, grab a bite of rations – and get out of his itchy Dragoon uniform and perhaps bathe in the cooling waters that beckoned the group. Any thoughts of making treaty with the natives and building a fort were far from his, and probably his fellow soldiers',mind. When the small group  arrived at the confluence of two rivers, eager to establish a new fort and trading post, the sight that greeted them would have been far different than today. Woodlands, muddy banks by the two rivers, perhaps some Teepees belonging to the local Indian tribe, and not much else. But they soon got to work, and quickly built themselves a fort.  They had arrived at the leading edge of civilization in the Iowa Territory.

      Within a few years, they had a trading post going, a name for their new settlement. And homesteads were beginning to be built on both sides of the river. By 1846, Fort Des Moines was established as the seat of Polk County. Schools soon opened in cabins along Raccoon Row. And by 1849, a newspaper had been established. The tiny settlement was flourishing. New settlers arrived, homes went up, a brewery was established. The library and various churches opened right around the same time. By 1857, the town was growing so much they decided to put the state capitol there. Quite a change in 14 years.
      By 1861, the Western Union telegraph company had arrived. In 1866, the railroad finally made it here. After the civil war, growth really exploded. Brickyards were formed along the river. Also, sawmills, and lumbering operations. Ferryboats went back and forth, until permanent bridges were built across the river. Commerce and population boomed.

      However, the Des Moines of the late 1800's would not have been a pleasant sight (or smell) to modern tastes. There were many dumps operating, both legally and illegally. Many slaughterhouses were in full swing. There were a lot of coal mines, and everyone had to burn coal or wood to keep warm in the winter. The air must have been a foul mix to breathe. There were typhoid and flu epidemics. It would not have been a pretty sight.

      But the rail transportation network in the late 1800's was extensive. Trolleys moved people all around the city, and even to outlying towns. Railroads took over for longer distances. It was said that at one time, no one in Iowa was more than 10 miles from some kind of rail line. Electrified trolley systems covered the city up until the mid-twentieth century, when they set about tearing them all out.

      The city expanded westward, finally running into and swallowing Valley Junction. North Des Moines became a part of Des Moines. The east side swallowed places like Chesterfield. Finally, growth exploded southward, pushing the city limits well past their former boundary of Watrous avenue. To a visitor in the 1930s up to the 1960's, the city would really seem to be on a growth curve up. It slowed in the 1970s and 80's, with economic downturns and changing demographics. In the 2000's things began to pick up again. At this writing, the city is once again growing.

      Today, people are moving back downtown, where they can work, live, shop and play. More and more prefer to get around by bicycle or mass transit, reversing the suburbia-chasing trend of the late 1900's. It would not be much of a surprise to see some form of electrified rail go in at some point. Larger cities like Minneapolis have done this, seemingly going full circle, from rail transportation, to automotive-centric travel, to rail assisted travel once again. Many other cities are building condos downtown, and Des Moines is not being left behind in this by any means. The city is changing with the times, as it should. It will be fascinating to see what changes the future brings. Thanks for reading.