The Wisdom of My Nana

As a child, I often sat with my grandmother beneath her grape arbor in Mankato, MN, there to talk and listen to her stories of nature. She was not a learned person in the sense of a formal education, but she was a sagacious woman in the ways of the world. Tragically for me, and the world I lost her when I was fifteen.

Before she died, she had to have one of her legs removed because diabetes had shut down the circulation and she was developing gangrene. I lived in Minneapolis, MN, at the time so I went to Mankato, (90 miles) and stayed at the hospital with her from the night before surgery, during surgery and most of the day after, when I had to leave. That was the last time I saw her or heard her voice. Her last words were, “we will share our love of nature under the arbor again one day.” I miss her wisdom.

Starting yesterday, and continuing throughout the night and into today, St. Louis, MO is experiencing severe storms. The thunder rages like the sounds millions of buffalo stomping over the plains in the days that were. Lightning, the arrows of Father Sky, piercing the darkness,   illuminating their way while torrents of rain assail their path. These were the visions my grandmother gave to me. She made me understand that nature is not science, nature is alive.

When I would ask her why storms came, she would tell me about how she had to do the spring cleaning of her house and that Mother Nature was no different.

“Mother Nature’s house is much bigger than ours.”, she would say. “She has more work to do, so she tells Father Sky he has to help her.”

“Make the Sky Buffalo run over the cloud prairies to warn all the creatures that we are going to clean. Wake them with the light of your arrows that they may prepare and seek shelter.”

But Nana, the wind blows so hard it shakes my brain to pieces!

“Child, pay attention, it is rare that the wind begins by blowing that hard but if it should then you best hide down in the root cellar cause a tornado may be coming. You don’t recall cause you were only two, but a big twister came through the town in 1946  killing eleven people and injuring a hundred or so more. They are very dangerous.”

Does Father Sky send tornadoes to hurt people?

“I don’t think so. I’m not sure what causes twisters but, like everything else in nature, they serve a purpose. Perhaps it’s a way for nature to make sure humans know who is really in charge. An old Lakota lady once told me that twisters were nature’s way of cleaning out the weak and cutting new paths for the strong. Heard tell on the radio that cold and warm air crashing together cause them. I just do not know.”

What happens to the animals when a tornado comes?

“Sadly, many animals are killed by twisters because they have nowhere to hide from them. Humans, at least the smart ones know enough to find shelter when they can.”

Nana, does the Sky Father always send twisters when he sends the winds?

“No darling, sometimes he just sends the big winds to clean out the old nests and dead branches from trees so there can be new ones.”

But Nana, if he does that, he might hit me on the head with a big branch or nest!

“That is possible, yes but most of the time the Sky Father will send warnings such as gusts of wind, thunder and many times the temperature will suddenly drop just before the storm to warn us. Course, nowadays, we have the weather guessers who might be able to predict a coming storm.”

So the Sky Father makes the wind blow and the rain fall to help the Earth Mother clean her trees and stuff?

“That’s right hon, he washes out old branches, nests, leaves and even dead animals then rinses the trees to wash away the dust.”

And the Earth Mother likes for him to do this?

“I believe she does for aren’t we all a part of her? Don’t the minerals contained in decaying branches, leaves, and animals return to the soil to help fertilize it?

But Nana, if it rains really, really, really hard all that water will fill up the creeks and rivers to flood stuff!

“Yes, that is true but what happens when there is flooding?”

I dunno know.

“Just like the trees, when Father Sky sends his rain down upon Mother Earth, the water washes away natural debris and vegetations into our streams and rivers. There, the debris-filled water will carry its burden to larger rivers such as the Mankato River which in turn, flows into the Mississippi River. As the rivers fill with water and debris, they will overflow their banks and fill the land. When the water recedes, it leaves the sediment which is a natural fertilizer. I heard that this happens every year in the Nile river in Egypt and it may happen in your lifetime. “ (Nana, if you’re listening, it occurred in 1993 – worst flood in history.)

Nana, does the Earth Mother have a big dumpster or trash can to put stuff in?

“She certainly does, she has seven of them – the Seven Seas.”

But Nana, what happens to all that sediment stuff that goes into the seas?

“That which can be recycled by Mother Nature will be. That which cannot becomes deltas such as we saw down in New Orleans.”

I remember, but we saw stuff like soda bottles, and glass and stuff down in the delta place.

“Sadly, you are right. There are things that even Mother Nature cannot rapidly fix. It is a tragic mistake of human greed and indifference that produces the filth and poisons we see on our Mother Earth every day. Perhaps one day people will wake up before it’s too late and realize what they have done.”

Nana, I miss you and love you more now than ever before.

Diversity – A Political Illusion

 

Seems that everywhere I look today; I see diversity promoted as the panacea for all human ailments. I think I even saw a sign in a health foods store proclaiming; “Diversity: A Miraculous Cure for Acne!”

Yes, I bought an eight oz bottle. No, it did not work, but then I don’t have acne so that could explain it, right? Maybe I didn’t use enough? However, the label does not say how much diversity I need to use to cure anything, let alone acne.

I confess, I’m sarcastic, but I’m desperate.

What is Diversity?      It’s an impossible dream, a fantasy an illusion!

Being the good student I claim, I researched the concept of Diversity beginning with synonyms and antonyms. I found 367 synonyms and 91 antonyms. Whoa, talk about a percentage variance – I was amazed. Even more so, I was stunned by many of the antonyms such as equality, agreement, community, equivalency, harmony, understanding, and union. Almost seems to me that Diversity is the antithesis of the historical spirit of America.

America was built on a perceived idea of diversity with a premise of Freedom of Religion. The tragic part of that was, initially, there was no Freedom of Religion.

Freedom of Religion was not the law in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans came to America so they could practice their religion as they pleased. However, they did not allow other settlers the same religious freedom. Settlers who did not follow the Puritan ways were not allowed to own land in the colony, and were often sent away.”  (Magliocca & Mele, n.d.)

Has the concept of Freedom of Religion improved since the Puritans? For the most part, yes it has, but I fear for its survival. Even now, a President who claims to espouse the Diversity of America’s Freedom of Religion is actively attacking that freedom by attempting to silence certain religious groups and promot\ing others.

There is Diversity in silencing Diversity.

Is there Diversity in Freedom of Speech?

“Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.”  (“Freedom of speech,” 2016)

Since it’s inception, the U.S. Supreme Court has been challenged to define what “Freedom of Speech” entails.

Freedom of speech includes the right:

  • Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
    West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
    Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
    Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
    Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
  • To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
    Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

 

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
    Schenck v. the United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
  • To make or distribute obscene materials.
    Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
    United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration.
    Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
    Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
    Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ (2007).
  • (Federal Judiciary, n.d.)

Given the American penchant for lawsuits, I’m pretty sure this is a shortened version of a very long list of cases presented before the Supreme Court regarding Freedom of Speech. The problem for my old mind is the second portion of this list with its restrictions.

When one opinion of an argument mandates restrictions on another opinion, is that not censorship? Is that not suppression of Diversity?

I’m going to jump forward to the present time – fall, 2016, a time of major disruption in our world caused by Diversity? Yep, I said it, Diversity is a primary cause of all our ills – care for an explanation? Glad you asked.

Diversity, true Diversity does not exist – it’s an illusion.

Examples:

  1. Certain cultures (A) in our world feel pedophilia is an acceptable practice, however, many others (B) do not. Immigrants from culture A moving to culture B may wish to continue their practice while members of B culture refuse to allow it. Which culture is being more Diverse?
  2. Political party (A) believes in Freedom of Speech for everyone regardless of what may be said while party (B) believes in politically appropriate censorship. Which party is more Diverse?
  3. The mayor of City (A) believes in allowing illegal/undocumented immigrants to settle without fear of deportation while the Mayor of City (B) believes the exact opposite. Which city is more Diverse?
  4. A black, female Principal of an elementary school in Oregon determines that the Pledge of Allegiance will no longer be said in the school to aid in “Diversity.”

If only one child wants to say the Pledge, is he/she allowed to based on her “Diverse” request? Is the Principal teaching true “Diversity?”

Since the Principal is the only black, female principal at the school, is she truly “Diverse?”

Were I to continue this list of questionable “Diversities.”, I would most assuredly run out of printer ink and paper long before I ran out of examples. I believe the reason for this is “Diversity,” as claimed and declared by manipulative people is strictly an illusion meant to mislead the innocent and control a population.

Does the wind care about “Diversity” when it erodes the soil?

Does the weed in the garden fight against the flower for nutrients and water neither ceding to the others “Diversity.”

Do the predators show “Diversity” when hunting prey?

Do people habitually recognize and fully honor the “Diversity” of others?

Is the genuine recognition and acceptance of true “Diversity a common human endeavor, something we only address when the need arises or an illusionary political tool?

ON BEING POLITICALLY CORRECT

Politically correct is:

The art of not insulting anyone by thought, word or deed.

The ability to tell someone to go to hell and make them happy to be on their way.

The skill to recognize you’re already in hell.

The conviction to realize those who sent you to hell are politically incorrect.

Therefore, the politically correct are incorrect to assume that being politically correct can only be mandated by those who are actually not politically correct but feel they are politically correct because they, and only they deem it appropriate.

In summation – “Political Correctness is just another lie.”

CHOICES

Dr. Howard Moskowitz and the Tomato Sauce

“…His next client is even more important – The Campbell Soup Company. This is where Howard made his reputation. Campbell Soup made Prego, the trade mark brand name pasta sauce, which was struggling against Ragu Sauce, in the 70s and 80s. Now it is quite well known in the industry that Prego is a much better sauce, with its perfect mixture of spices and the fact that it blends beautifully with pasta, as was proven by the famous bowl test. But despite this, they were in trouble, and that is when Howard came to the rescue. What he did to this ‘dead tomato sauce’ was that he went to the Campbell Soup kitchen and made over 45 different varieties of tomato sauce, and he varied them in every way that you could possibly think of – sourness, level of garlic, tartness, what have you. He took these sauces to New York, Chicago etc., sat truckloads of people down into a hall with a bowl of pasta for each with his varieties of sauce and asked them to rate on a scale of 0 to 100 about how good they thought the sauce was.

Now, after months of this activity, he had a mountain load of data about how the American people feel about spaghetti sauce. Now would he look for the perfect pasta sauce? No, Howard doesn’t believe that there can be only one. Instead, he grouped this data into clusters to see if a pattern emerges, and it sure did. He found that there are three types of Americans when it comes to spaghetti sauce – there are people who like it plain, those who like it spicy and those who like it “extra chunky”. The third type – “extra chunky” sauce was nowhere to be found in the American supermarkets of the 1980s.

So the revelation was that there are one-third of Americans who crave for “extra chunky” sauce, yet no one is servicing their needs! And then, the “extra chunky” line of sauces that Prego came up with earned them $600 million over the next ten years.

         Once everyone else in the industry realized this, we started having 7 different kinds of vinegar, 14 different kinds of mustard and 71 different kinds of olive oil. Guess what, Ragu eventually hired Howard to do the same for them, and what we ended up getting was 36 different red sauces in Germany, in six varieties, one of which was "extra chunky". That is Dr. Moskowitz's gift to the world. It has changed the way the food industry things about making us 'happy'." Tanuj Nabar, Executive Officer - Marketing at Huhtamaki, Linked In.
 

Personally, I prefer to chunk my own smooth Marinara sauce.

Did Dr. Moskowitz start a revolution? Yes would be a good guess.

Did Dr. Moskowitz’s revolution change things for me?

`     I don’t go shopping anymore, I go guessing! It’s serious guesswork too!

Is shopping stressful for me? Yes and no. The major portion of my shopping is for food. How do I get the best quality for the least money? Does the generic taste as good as the name brand? Can I make lasagna with turkey instead of beef?

While those choices sound simple enough add in one more consideration into the mix.

Can I afford to experiment on my fixed income?

Shopping for clothing is, for me at least fairly easy. Because of my biceps and waistline, I am forced to shop in the big and tall men’s section. If I can’t find what I want, I do not buy what I won’t or can’t wear. Finding something that fits and that I like is the stressor.

It can be depressing at times because who wouldn’t love to always look their best? I mean, come on to strut the beach in Speedos but the reality is Speedos are for young men, not old dudes. Alas, poor body I once knew you so well.

My choice is, I’ll stay home because the sun is not good for my complexion. (Lame)

When I was a kid back in the 1950-60s it was easier to buy clothes, at least for boys. Levi’s were in along with flannel shirts, white socks and black leather belt. I think the boy’s department had only one aisle while the girl’s department had sixty-three, or more. It is no wonder I remember a lot of “I won’t wear that” screams from their direction.

Are there too many choices now? From my standpoint, yes. Too many choices means too many options which equates to the manufacturer having to price products based on material cost, labor cost, shipping and waste allowances for styles and sizes that don’t sell.

I am paying extra for my Levi jeans because no one wants to buy the Armani jeans with rhinestones on the zipper. Too many choices equates to too much waste in almost everything we purchase and suppresses creativity. We tie-dyed, cut holes in our jeans by ourselves (through work primarily) and took old shirts, cut off their sleeves and made muscle shirts.

Thanks for nothing Dr. Moskowitz!

How Do I Know?

Editorial

Refugee v Immigrant v Invader

In this age of turmoil the Americas, Europe and Scandinavia are confronted with a dilemma of unprecedented and urgent need thrust upon them from several directions by fanatical religious organizations and corrupt governments that are brutally competing for control in the Middle East. All to what end?

On the battlefields and city streets opposing forces strive for dominance by killing, maiming and butchering other combatants and innocents – so called collateral damage. In some instances, the murder of innocents is choreographed for sheer terror effect. For what reason?

These are not battles for water or food nor are they for land and resources! These are battles for power, control, dominance and supremacy over minds and bodies, the greatest treasures I can think of.

There are those who would try to equate events of today with those during the Nazi era and WWII. They may be correct up to a certain point, after all in the beginning Hitler was adulated as the savior of Germany but it ended when the German forces suffered defeat after defeat against allied powers. But before that happened, he was able to systematically murder millions of people he felt unworthy of life. His motivation? He saw them as inferior and there, at least for me the similarity starts to come apart.

The radicals on both sides of the coin in the current Middle East conflicts are using precisely orchestrated and publicized murder and mass murder as a psychological weapon to defeat the minds of both their enemies and the innocents. Terror, pain and horrible death awaits those who would defy the new order.

Thanks to the ineffectiveness of governments who have declared against this evil tide but done very little a tsunami of humanity is on the move. Daily, thousands of innocent people rush towards safe borders to escape the pain and suffering of starvation, thirst and brutality. Risking everything for a better tomorrow they walk carrying their young, infirm and aged, perhaps to reach the green horizon before death overtakes them.

These people are refugees: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” Refugee Council, PO Box 68614, London, E15 9DQ. They’ve fought the hard battle to get to the hope of safety and a future but there is still one more step – asylum.

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines asylum as: “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.”

Another term often heard if “Asylum Seeker”. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees position is:

    “The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.”

    I strongly believe in this position so long as it’s a women, children, elderly
and the infirm first formula but from what I’m seeing and reading it is tragically not.

“Senator Cruz speaks to the makeup of the so-called refugees, noting that one estimate pins the percentage of military/terrorist age males among the population at 77% and notes the likelihood and reports that there are a significant number of ISIS terrorists included in their ranks.”

    Do we stop this influx by adopting an immigration only policy?

Immigration is the movement of people into a destination country to which they are not native or do not possess its citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take-up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.” Wikipedia

Immigrant is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.” Although there is a difference if duration of residence between the definition of Immigration and Immigrant both would seem to apply.

I believe that immigration is an earned privilege and the only people with a legitimate position against it are the First Peoples – indigenous people. Unfortunately for them, they had a non-existent immigration policy, a misfortune that has cost them dearly over the centuries. That is my fear now!

Certain members of our government have determined that we should accept illegal immigrants, forgive them their crime and offer them the same benefits our needier citizens get. Furthermore, they want to import “refugees, asylum seekers” and immigrants from the Middle Eastern conflicts and do the same sans any legitimate form of vetting process. As part of that process they are bowing to the questionable demands for religious exceptions such as not wanting to be fingerprinted, no photographs and no background checks. This making a complete mockery of our national security and lawmakers.

What is my point?

Is this an infiltration of invaders? If so, covert identities are important.

“Invader”, the last word in my title is defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary as: “a person or group that invades a country, region, or other place…”


“As a member of the true religion [Islam], I have a greater right to invade [others] in order to impose a certain way of life [according to Sharia], which history has proven to be the best and most just of all civilizations. This is the true meaning of offensive jihad. When we wage jihad, it is not in order to convert people to Islam, but in order to liberate them from the dark slavery in which they live.” Saudi legal expert Basem Alem, March 2009.

How many of these “refugees” are answering this call?

One of the national news TV stations just showed another video of what they referred to as “refugees” landing on the shore of a Greek Island in a large, inflatable rubber boat similar to ones I’ve seen in military training articles. What was most interesting to note was that with the exception of two healthy looking young females the boat was filled with several well-built and healthy appearing young, healthy men in their late teens to early thirties. I got a little jealous of the nice clothing and expensive looking cell-phones they were using to take selfies but that stuff is for younger people not us old guys.

I have to admit, I did start to wonder what I would do if I met one of these people on the street. I like to be polite so I’m wondering do I call him Sir, Mr. Refugee or say welcome immigrant or do I report an invader? It all seems so confusing to me.

My fear is not making the correct choice before it’s too late.

Argument to Persuade

Argument to Persuade

    The sales pitch!

Personally, I feel some of the best persuaders (salespersons) in the world are Emergency Medical and Rescue personnel. Let me see if I can persuade you to agree.

Working ambulance in Minneapolis, we were called out late one evening to a person trapped under a car. An elderly blind woman was walking home from work late when a car backed out of a driveway hitting her, knocking her down then stopping on top with the hot muffler burning her back. Needless to say she was terrified but why? She only had a general idea of what a car looked like, had never seen the undercarriage of one and had nothing to compare the concept of a muffler to what was happening to her.

The rescue was risky, it was a black night and as the car was on an incline. If we tried to lift the rear end it might disengage and roll over her. She heard the rescue workers talking about it and her anxiety level shot to the top of the meter. She started to struggle and whimper in a vain attempt to escape. As Attending it was my job to care for her regardless of where she was, so I did.

I crawled under the car from the opposite side, took her hand in mine and starting talking with her. I introduced myself as if we were standing face to face, told her what I was doing and asked her a few diagnostic questions to ascertain her stability.

She was trembling and crying as she clung to my hand. Thankfully she was not bleeding profusely and had a good airway. It was impossible for me to check for fractures but she stated she didn’t think she had any. (Note: She was in a state of traumatic shock and may not have felt any even if there were)

Now, I’m not sure how many of you have ever lain on your stomach under a 1960s Cadillac sedan so I’ll tell you this, it’s creepy and noisy even when the motor isn’t running. Made us both nervous but I couldn’t show her any signs of it in my voice or movements. What did I do, I talked about son who had been born a few weeks prior. Seems strange hey? Well, my son had some issues when he was born and I was pretty worried about him so sharing my fears with her was a form of displacement. She gave me advice and her trust.

When it was time to get the car off of her, she became more anxious I reassured her that I would stay by her side through it all. She tried to argue with me because she felt that if the car came crashing down on me too, my son would lose a father. This told me she was transferring her fears to me effectively transferring her needs for safety to my son’s needs for a father.

The time came for them to remove the car. The Fire/Rescue captain lay down on the ground on the opposite side of her from me and told us what they intended to do. They were going put my side of the car up on blocks then have a hoist lift her side enough to get her out. Sounds scary hey? It was because there’s always a chance of a strap breaking, a failed calculation or even human error. She became a little agitated and more concerned about me but I assured her that if anything happened my kid would grow up and come kick some serious butt.

The process of setting the blocks was scary for her but I stayed and explained each and everything going on. Once my side had been raised about four inches they went to hers. This was more complicated explaining as she couldn’t touch anything and had no visual memories to draw from. She could, however feel the hands of the rescue team as they set the braces and hooks required to lift the car.

“Oh my, so many strong men!” she said. “Are any single?”

Told her I wasn’t a match maker but that’s see what I could find out.

When then informed us they were ready to lift, we were given protective eye wear and fire blankets to cover out heads. This made her more nervous and she clung tighter to me. I was talking to her about what she was going to do when we got out as the Rescue Captain gave me the silent signal they were going to lift. I warned her, pulled her head close to me and did my own silent prayer.

The noise of the winch and cable coupled with the snap, crackle and pop of the car was unnerving to say the least but I know a dozen members of the rescue squad were prepared to brace the car every inch of the way and they did. Once I could see light between the bottom of the car and her body I called stop and the blocks were shimmed in place. We were safe. The remainder of the process was sliding her onto a backboard and bringing her out.

She had minor injuries, dirty clothes and a demand for an invitation to meet my son.

My sales pitch worked – I persuaded her to trust us. We saved a life without further injury and my son got a third grandmother.