Identifying Marks

I would like to take a moment to share with you a few thoughts on today, the events of this week, and life in general. Today was a glorious New England day, replete with blue skies, bright sunshine, cool temperatures, and low humidity. You could ask for a better day but I doubt that you would get it.

What made this day a superlative, in my opinion, was my midmorning walk to my New Favorite Place (NFP); I was not disappointed. I met several delightful people of all ages, a precocious young man of about five or six veraciously consuming a chocolate muffin while sitting with his mother, several polite and efficient waitstaff, and multiple clientele from all lifestyles; none of them had an identifying mark on their forehead indicating their political persuasion. Yet all were pleasant and accommodating, especially when faced with older gentleman with a crooked smile.

When I left my NFP I walked to the corner Bank for a role of quarters, my laundry still will not wash itself and certainly not free of charge, I was cheerfully greeted by a pleasant woman behind the counter wearing a hijab. I greeted her with “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” and she responded with “Wa alaykumu as-salam.” The look on her face was worth the effort it had taken me to learn that traditional Muslim greeting, respect and validation for a person and their culture will have that effect, I have found. This woman also had no political identification on her face to indicate whether she was a conservative, a liberal, or with which political Party she was aligned.

Reaching the talking Pedestrian Light I met another sort of person, this one identified herself as an inconsiderate, self-centered woman whose strong suit, if she was possessed of one at all, was lack of thought for others. Despite observing me standing next to pedestrian light, she none-the-less stopped her vehicle directly in front of my path across the road. When the talking light pole told me to walk I dutifully complied and walking directly up to her driver’s side door I said, “Do you feel like an asshole yet?” I proceeded to walk the length of her vehicle, around the front, and never once did an identifying mark appear on her person that identified her as anything other than an inconsiderate motor vehicle driver. I have crossed paths with many. I continued on my merry way.

My point, which I hope is all too obvious, is that you can only identify a person by their behavior, not their age, or what clothing they wear. Consideration and a smile will go a long way in reconciling our differences, lack of the same, support for hurtful legislation, or the spewing of vitriol will only make things worse.

The Alexandria shooter had to ask if the ballplayers were Republicans or Democrats because he could not tell by looking at them. This indicates to me that he was shooting at an ideology and those he believed support it. Just food for thought.

Chapter XXIX Dreamers, Ice Pirates, and Wishful Thinkers


When Alice and George first visited Miami in 1932, it is brilliant and coruscant. Hailing from the cold New England environs of Boston, MA, the verdant mango groves and lush green landscapes of this Southern Florida town wins their hearts and they decide to one day relocate permanently in the eclectic area known as Coconut Grove. It smells of lush, subtropical riparian woodland, which escapes my ability to describe but is unforgettable once experienced. It took them forty years, one son, and a lifetime of winters spent up North shoveling snow but when George approaches retirement, they knew where they would live out the remainder of their lives.

Leaving their only son with all their household goods, furniture, kitchen utensils, and the like they prepare to take their leave of their home of nineteen years and depart for South Florida’s promise of warm, mild winters.

“Goodbye Basil, take good care of yourself and do come visit us whenever you like.” Alice says holding her precious baby boy, now a young man on the cusp of twenty, close to her bosom.

“Sure Mom, I promise, I will visit just as soon as I can.” Basil mendaciously replies.

“Son, you are welcome to come with us.” George falsely states, eager to leave behind all the trappings and baggage of his former life and embark on his just reward for thirty years of dedicated service to a City he could not wait to escape.

“Thanks Dad but I have to finish school and all my friends are here, you know how it is.” Basil truthfully answered his father, shaking his hand for the final time. They are not an affectionate father and son.

Alice and George are by no means affluent; they are humble folk. Alice is the daughter of Irish immigrants; George is the youngest son of a single mother, widowed with six other young mouths to feed and no English language skills. This was well before there were any social safety nets established for the less fortunate. Therefore, they planned to drive to Florida and purchase a modest home in the Coconut Grove area, that they loved so much. Of course, they could never afford to live close to the coast so instead they chose a property suited to their means on high ground miles from the coast, yet possessing all of the delights that southern living offered.

After too short a period of time, a mere six years, George develops an aggressive lung cancer, the reward for twenty odd years of smoking cigarettes along with his partner inside the confined space of their patrol car, primary and secondary smoke is difficult to survive, for long. George passes at home with his loving wife by his side and Basil is summoned to attend. Alice takes Georges death stoically and faces life as a widow with aplomb and dignity. Unfortunately, George’s City pension dies with him and Alice is left with only her savings to survive. She owns the little house outright and with years of practice living frugally, she believes that she can manage; however, Basil has his doubts but as a single man cohabiting with three other young men, he is in no position to provide assistance.

There is a new paradigm in the South Florida Real Estate Market that promises to affect Alice’s fortunes dramatically. By whimsy or fate, the ground where her humble abode is situated is now desirable. People are departing the very beachfront communities that were off-limits to black people by law and custom until the mid-1960s. Moreover, in the era of climate change, those who are fleeing sea-level rise will be on the lookout for a place to live on higher ground, which is likely to push people of color and the poor out of neighborhoods that have historically been mostly black or Caribbean. 80 None of this is lost on the cogent Basil; unfortunately, he does not possess the acuity to exploit these circumstances.

***Boston, MA***

Basil Ring has a brilliant idea but no money or connections to realize it. Many have thought of methods to bring the fresh water stored in frozen form and locked away in the Cryosphere to the thirstier areas of Planet Earth. Many schemes have been floated to capture massive Icebergs after they calve from their parent glaciers, wrap them in plastic, and tow them to North Africa. 81

Feasibility studies have determined that one day it will be scientifically, and more importantly, economically viable but that day has not yet arrived. However, no one, with the exception of Basil, has thought of Strip-mining the ice in the same manner that coal is gathered from the earth and hauled away to be burned. Why not develop a similar process with ice and transport it using converted Oil tankers instead of allowing it to melt and flow into the Ocean? According to Basil’s logic, “If the Ice Sheets at the poles are going to melt anyway, why has no one suggested harvesting that ice before it melts and allowing it to add to global sea level rise?” It is a brilliant idea, even if Basil is the only one who thinks so! His current problem is to find someone who will take him and his idea seriously without dismissing him out-of-hand,  like so many have done before; at least in Basil’s mind, that is.

The need,

Fresh water is a finite resource that remains in a relatively constant supply; continually recycled through the atmosphere and back for the inhabitants of Earth to use. It makes up only 2.5 percent of the aggregate of water on the entire planet. The total amount of water that covers most of the surface of our little blue ball in space has a volume of approximately 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) or (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)). This includes all of the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, rivers, groundwater, atmospheric water, including the 55 to 65 percent of water that makes up the human body, your pet, and the vegetables in your garden. 82, 83, 84 More than enough, one would think to address the inhabitants of Spaceship Earth’s thirst; however, the human population has exploded along with our uses for this precious resource. Just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed the needs of its 6.8 billion inhabitants. 82

Agriculture is responsible for 87 % of the total water used globally. Industrial usage is much more difficult to determine. An accurate percentage of Industrial Water Consumption varies from country to country and from industry by industry; however, Energy Production is considered a potent consumer or withdrawer of Fresh Water for use in Steam production and cooling.

In the United States alone, much (92 percent) of the surface-water withdrawals and nearly all (99 percent) of the ground-water withdrawals for industrial use were freshwater. 85

“Water scarcity is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. It is the result of myriad environmental, political, economic, and social forces.” 82



The source, the means.

One estimate of water distribution:

Oceans, Seas, and Bays hold 321,000,000 cubic miles or 96.54 percent of the total amount of water on the planet. Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow holds 5,773,000 cubic miles or 1.74 percent of the total. However, what is accessible and available is a fraction of that amount.

How much of the total water is fresh water? The world’s liquid fresh water (groundwater, lakes, swamp water, and rivers), the volume comes to about 2,551,100 mi3 (10,633,450 km3), of which 99 percent is groundwater, much of which is not accessible to humans. The water that people and the rest of life on Earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources. The volume of this water is about 22,339 mi3 (93,113 km3). 82, 83

Basil has researched this information, because he can, and thought to himself one day, “If so many people around the world are thirsty for clean, fresh water and there is so much of it sitting around frozen at the Poles waiting for a warming climate to melt and lose it to the ocean then why not mine it and distribute it to those in need?” Basil never inherited the gene for making money so he does not think in terms of a market driven economy; the concept of selling water for profit never crosses his mind.

Could surface strip coal mining techniques be used to mine ice for fresh water in the Arctic and Antarctic?

Forget towing huge Icebergs. 81   Basil envisions a stable platform on the ice of Antarctica or the Arctic to begin ice-mining operations. Break up the ice into transportable chunks using explosive charges then move the ice to waiting tanker ships. Processing the ice could be accomplished en route or when it reaches its final destination. If transporting crude oil by bulk-tanker is acceptable, profitable, and the norm, then why not water?

Even Lloyd’s of London produced a very comprehensive Study of risk assessments associated with business opportunities in the Arctic. However, no mention of mining ice for freshwater appears anywhere in their sixty page document, available on their web site. “Arctic opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North”, Lloyds and Chatham House, 2012. 91

Which makes one wonder if it was very comprehensive to begin with and how much Lloyds paid for the study in the first place?

Perhaps it is because entities like Lloyds think only in terms of commodities and risk. The underwriters at Lloyds are not concerned about enriching or saving human lives; therefore, they overlooked the humanitarian benefits of bringing fresh drinking water to the millions who are currently without it. Basil, of course, does not think in terms of Return on Investment, Risk Management, or the Political ramifications of mining the Poles for fresh water. He only thinks of the lives that might be saved, enhanced, and afforded the opportunity to make the World a better place. Gain, personal or otherwise, never enters into his thought processes.

One bright sunny Sunday morning Basil is sitting in his apartment’s kitchen breakfast nook. He shares a flat in a Boston suburb with three other single men. All four men are reading one shared copy of the Boston Sunday Globe. The conversation finally turns away from the latest local sporting team’s win in the playoffs to topics that are more cerebral, allowing Basil to feel comfortable participating.

“Climate Change, how can these libtard tree huggers believe that the climate is warmin’ when it’s been so fackin’ cold out?” Paul states derisively in his strong Boston accent.

“Actually, you are expressing your dismay at our local weather’s temperatures; Global Warming is referring to Climatic conditions that are planetary in nature, so two different things.” Basil offers.

“Oh here we go again, the professor is going to give us a lecture on climate change and why we need to stop driving our cars, turn off the lights, give up meat, and go back to living in teepees.” Richard mocks to the laughter of the group.

“Laugh if you like but anthropogenic climate disruption is real and we had all better start thinking of changing our lifestyles to mitigate its affects if we want to continue living here.” Basil responds. This statement only elicits further pejorative comments accompanied with peals of laughter from his flat-mates all of whom, at six foot heights, are much larger than the diminutive Basil.

“So Basil, how is your big plan to save the planet and provide fresh water to all the towel heads in the desert workin’ out? You would be better off if you found yourself a better payin’ job and maybe a girl friend to occupy you time.” Roger comments, he is the largest and most critical of the three, relentless in his badgering of the knowledgeable but sensitive Basil.

“Explain to me why then it is perfectly acceptable to spend $29.3 billion in taxpayer dollars subsidizing the Oil and Natural Gas Industry but not OK to develop a way of mining ice?” 88 Basil asks, not knowing when he should just shut his mouth and just walk away.

“Because water don’t keep the lights on, cook our food, or fuel our cars, you dimwit!” Roger implacably and callously responds.

Three against one in a scientific disquisition is a winnable scenario_ if everyone agrees that scientific facts are the measure of reality; remove that leg of the milking stool; however, and all bets are off. Basil might just as well debate with a barn full of dairy cows than try to convince his burly but doltish roommates of the veracity of climate change or the benefits of providing clean, fresh water to those who need it.

“Well then, would you agree that temperatures have risen dramatically since the mid eighteen hundreds?” Basil asks.

“Yeah, so what.” Roger responds.

“Have you heard about the Pine Island glacier? Temperature rise and a warming Ocean melt the Ice at the Poles. That fresh water flows into the Sea and is wasted, resulting in Sea level rise and a desalinization of the Ocean. None of which are good things, yes?” 89, 9o  Basil begins.

“Again, so what. What’s your point?” Roger retorts.

“Rather than wasting that resource, allowing the melt to add to ocean rise, and ocean desalinization, would it not be better to harvest the ice before it melts and redistribute it where it is most needed?” Basil concludes.

“Dreamers gotta dream!” Paul states.

“Lets us know when you’ve got it all worked out, there Basil.” Richard mocks.

“Basil, you really are a fool. Why do you waste your time on such nonsense? Get a practical grip on yourself and find a decent paying job. You spend all your time thinking about things that don’t matter and can’t be changed. Find a girl and settle down, she’ll straighten you out.

Basil feeling dejected once again returns to his laptop; a suitable escape for dreamers, ice pirates, and wishful thinkers.



  1. “The resurgence of Coconut Grove”, “Miami Herald”, By A. Viglucci, 29 NOVEMBER 2014. < >
  2. “Mining’ Icebergs For Fresh Water Believed Possible”, Toledo Blade , 02 September 1973 <,4925994&hl=en>
  3. “Freshwater Crisis” National Geographic, < >
  4. “Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply”, University of Michigan, 04 January 2006. <>
  5. “The Water in You”, U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey, 09 December 2015. <
  6. “Water & Energy Efficiency by Sectors”, EPA, 23 February 2016,
  7. “How much water is on Earth?”, The USGS Water Science School, 26-Feb-2016. <>
  8. “Just Thaw And Serve”, Time, 29 May 2011, <,9171,2071147,00.html>
  9. “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2013”, The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Release date: 12 March 2015, Revised: 23 March 2015 <>
  10. “Pine Island Glacier”, 16 September 2014. <>
  11. “Future sea level rise from ice sheets”, 03 March 2013. < >
  12. “arctic opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North”, Lloyd’s and Chatham House, 2012 <>


The Fifty-eighth Inaugural Address

I did not watch Trump’s Inaugural Speech but I did read it.

I had hoped to participate in the Mother’s March in Boston today; however, I could not secure transportation to or from the event. Apparently, every seat in every vehicle was filled with Ladies intent on marching. I wish them all a pleasant walk, filled with camaraderie, and sunny skies. I will fill my day with other productive activities.

Given the shallow nature of President Trump’s comments in his Inaugural Address, I thought it only fitting that I take a deeper dive into his meaning and see what there is here that Americans can expect over the ensuing next four years, assuming his presidency lasts that long.


“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.”

But hardly the only aspirations of the Nation, you leave out so much that it really makes me wonder what your life is all about, Mr. President.


“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.”

This is rhetoric aimed directly at the Rustbelt. Moreover, where do you get off with making comments such as: “while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;” The US spends more on our military than the next eight countries combined.


“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

Was Trump elected President of Planet America or The Unites States, the last time I checked we were a member of a global community.


“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work — rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

This was an Obama initiative that the Republican obstructionists refused to act upon! The hypocrisy is boundless. Perhaps Mr. Trump can succeed in this now that he has the backing of a Republican controlled Congress; a luxury President Obama never had.

Obama calls for $50 billion infrastructure initiative”, Washington Post, by L. Montgomery, 11 October 2010.


“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

Err, excuse me Mr. President does this mean you intend to close Macy’s, Wall Mart, Target, Homegoods, Uniqlo – Country: Japan, H&M: Country – Sweden, Zara – Country: Spain, Sephora – Country: France, Mango – Country: Spain, French Connection – Country: Great Britain? All of these retail stores sell goods that are manufactured in other countries where the wages are so low that they could be considered slave labor.

Top ten import goods from China”, Universal Cargo, by R. Rau Posted, 22 May 2012.

Trump is long on rhetoric but short on thought! Trump’s speech is little more than a collection of sound bites that resonate with the disaffected middle class without any care for the How, Where, or the When he can deliver on what he speaks.


“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.”

Yikes! “Total allegiance to the United States of America” I do not know about you but these words scare the fuck out of me. Sieg Heil, Mr. President, it is with statements such as this and Trump wrapping himself in the Bible and the American flag that fascism comes to the United States.

With lines such as these, the Orange toddler sought to inspire those who were there to witness, “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

As I said above, I did not deign to watch the inauguration. Instead, I attended the Resist Trump Rally in Lowell, MA for an Inauguration Day protest event with my friend Danny Factor. Danny was asked by the organizers of the event to speak to the crowd. He acquitted himself admirably, despite the cold January night air.

Regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump as our forty-fifth President, he will have monumental challenges to overcome; not the least of which will be his own personality disorders. I hope that they will not be as destructive as I fear that they will be; however, judging from his cabinet choices I can see nothing positive occurring over the next four years. As the Brits say, “we will just have to suffer on then.”

It will be our task to look after each other, protect the most vulnerable among us, keep a wary eye on the actions of our government, and vigorously question the actions of those in power. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” ~ George Washington

MRI’s, Metal, and Skipping Breakfast

My van driver picked me up at precisely 08:15 A.M. exactly when the Acton Minute Van dispatcher said that he would, I like punctuality. Jonah, my driver, cheerfully chatted about this and that during the short 20 minute ride one town over to where my scheduled MRI was to take place. The air was brisk but nothing for a hearty New Englander like myself. Jonah offered to drop me at Market Basket after my test, which was a happy accident because otherwise, I would miss the final grocery-shopping trip of 2016 and you can imagine what a party that is.
The test is one I have undergone on previous occasions in 2010 and 2011; however, I did not recognize the technician; although, Bill remembered me. If you have never had the pleasure of a spin in an MRI machine allow me to elucidate for you just what the experience is like.
First and foremost, metal is forbidden and here is the reason why:
“As a patient, it is vital to take seriously the admonitions against wearing or carrying metal into the MRI suite. If you have shrapnel, penetrating metal injuries (particularly in the eye), or any surgeries, implants or prosthetics, it’s critical to have the full information on each to share with your MRI provider. Metal inside the body may not fly across the MRI room like a loose oxygen cylinder (don’t believe what you see on House), but the twisting an pulling that the magnet will exert on an internal ferromagnetic object can be just as dangerous. Active implanted devices, such as pacemakers or nerve stimulators, present particular problems because of both the magnetic attraction and potential interference with the normal function of the device.”
For additional information on metals and MRI’s I offer this article:
Therefore, during prescreening when the scheduling person asks you if you have any ferromagnetic metals in your body or on your person take her or him seriously. You should know your medical history; however, if you answer, “I do not know” or “I am not sure,” the technician will scan you as if you were boarding a flight from New York dressed in a thawb, bisht, and keffiyeh replete with tagiyah and agal and you baring the surname bin Laden.
The MRI machine itself resembles nothing less than a circular plastic hotdog bun with a bed-like tray attached. It is a terrible place to take a nap, unlike the EEG table I thoroughly enjoyed last week but I digress. After removing my clothes, shoes, and donning those bold hospital fashion statements, a double Johnny, I was ready to slip into the tube. Now I do not suffer from claustrophobia but for those who do, there has been a nifty addition added to enhance the MRI machines in the years since I last had the pleasure. A small mirror that allows the victim, err- patient to have a view of the room beyond their encased body.
I was to undergo a Brain scan with Contrast, so a Nurse was present along with Bill the technician. Bill gave me two earplugs, “for the noise” he said. They then helped me onto the tray, instructing me to place my head in a cushioned bucket, which they then secured around my cranium. After admonishing me not to move my head under any circumstance, Bill placed a round rubber bulb in my hand and told me to squeeze it if something untoward should occur or if I became uncomfortable in any way. They told me to expect some loud knocks or bangs, and promptly left the room. I do not know if that command to remain still was for my benefit or theirs but I assure you I did not move a muscle.
The machine then proceeded to devour me whole and I thought briefly about Jonah (not my van driver) and the whale. The machine began to hum, buzz, and whir. Bill spoke through the intercom asking me again to remain still again, I briefly thought of dozing off when it started. It sounded like nothing other than the Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test and I heard through my mind’s ear “This has been a test of the National Emergency Alert System, this was just a test. If this had been an actual emergency you would have been instructed….”
Any thoughts of spending a peaceful twenty to thirty minutes or napping flew out the tube opening when the MRI really started to get going. I do not recall it being so gawd awfully loud the last time, it was deafening and I was thankful for the earplugs. Picture Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,
“The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly
the hinges started to unhitch.
Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying
on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.
And oh, what happened then was rich.
The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch.
It landed on the Wicked Witch
in the middle of a ditch,
Which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch.”
It seemed to take forever to image the two squirrels and their contested bag of nuts inside my head. When it finally began to whine down and I could collect my thoughts; Bill came over the intercom and advised me that the procedure was half complete, “Just one more cycle with the contrast and you will be on your way.” Queue the Nurse with IV in hand and re-consumed by the infernal machine was I.
When finally done, I got dressed and made my way to the outer office, weak and nauseous but determined to soldier on. I had not eaten before leaving my apartment this morning, which is never a good idea, especially on a Market Basket day but I have a suspicion the Contrast injection had some affect on my system that was not anticipated. Therefore, note to self; eat before you leave the house to get an MRI, and go grocery shopping.
Ya like I’ll remember, right.

How can the Congressional reelection rate be so high when its approval rate is so low?

Yes, America did just elected Donald J Trump as their President. Questions about how and why fill the minds of critical thinkers all across the Nation. Additional questions flow from this new unsettling reality. “How do I respect the Office of the President when I do not respect the man?” However, the more important question that Liberals and Progressives, who are reeling from the 2016 election results, should be contemplating is: “How to effect a reversal of fortune of both Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress during the Midterm elections of 2018.”

“the real power lies with Congress. Congress is considered the first branch of our government because it writes the laws, levies taxes, authorizes the borrowing of money, declares war, and regulates commerce. The House of Representatives has the power to impeach the president. It is Congress that has the biggest impact on the lives of Americans, and as such it is the Congressional elections that we should be most concerned about.”

I found many articles confirming the anomaly but few concrete suggestions or answers for why things are the way they are.

“It seems reasonable to assume that since most citizens know so little about their representatives in office, they are likely to know even less — or nothing at all — about the candidates competing in the primary. If this is the case, they are likely to ask themselves, “Why bother?”

The few people who do vote in the primaries tend to be members of special interest groups that the incumbents have worked hard to turn into supporters. These voters reward incumbents for policy favors they’ve received by voting for them in the primary election. For others who vote, the incumbent has credibility from having previously won office, and has on-the-job experience, while challengers are likely to be totally unknown. People are highly unlikely to vote for candidates who they know nothing about. This allows most incumbents to breeze through primary elections.”

“How Was 91 Percent of Congress Re-Elected Despite a 10 Percent Approval Rating?”, The Huffington Post, T. Phillips, 13 November 2012, 13 January 2013. <>

The problem is a thorny one. I decided to do a bit of research on why incumbents retain their seats when their constituents say they disapprove of the jobs that they and their Congressional comrades are doing. Why this should be the case vexes me so.

I decided to read as many articles on the topic as I could find. What I learned is not flattering for the average US Citizen.

“On average, today’s citizens are about as able to name their leaders, and are about as aware of major news events, as was the public nearly 20 years ago. The new survey includes nine questions that are either identical or roughly comparable to questions asked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2007, somewhat fewer were able to name their governor, the vice president, and the president of Russia, but more respondents than in the earlier era gave correct answers to questions pertaining to national politics.”

For example how many of you can name your Congressional Representatives from MA in the House of Representatives?

The answer

Do not feel too badly, I had to look them up too. According to the Pew data, Americans have not gotten smarter when it comes to current events or the names of those who are involved in the making of those events.

“But a deeper analysis of the five identical questions asked in both 1989 and 2007 reveals a surprising pattern: Americans didn’t do as well in 2007 compared with how similarly-educated Americans performed in 1989. Across the board, scores declined significantly among college graduates, those with some college as well as for those with a high school education or less.”

News and Knowledge

“Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who say they don’t get news regularly from any news source fell into the low knowledge group – correctly answering an average of only six out of the 23 questions in the quiz. By contrast, about half of those who regularly use at least seven sources score in the high knowledge group – getting an average of 18 questions correct.”

“Internet news sources, National Public Radio, news magazines, and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show have the best educated audiences, with each of these having at least 36% of their regular readers and listeners having graduated from college.”

“Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions”, “What Americans Know: 1989-2007”, Pew Research Center, 15 April 2007. <>

The bottom line, according to the Pew data, is that Men are more aware of Political Current Events and the Key Players than Women, Elders are most aware than other groups, the more affluent tend to achieve the higher scores; however, it is the choice of where the participants obtained their News that had the greatest affect on overall scores.

“Half or more of the audiences for six media sources scored this high: the comedy news shows and major newspaper websites (54% in the high knowledge group), the NewsHour (53%), National Public Radio (51%) and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (50%). Regular readers of news magazines were not far behind (48%).”

And yet Politifact corroborated the claim the 14 percent of Congress has a positive approval rate while 95 – 96 percent of Incumbents were re-elected in 2014.

“Congress has 11% approval ratings but 96% incumbent reelection rate, meme says”, Politifact, By Lo. Jacobson 11 November 2014. <>

“Reelection Rates Over the Years”

“Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection. With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats—as this chart shows.”

Yet it is the mandate of the Forth Estate to educate the electorate on the political landscape, the issues, and the candidates! So who has failed whom? I found no articles written by Journalist admitting their failings. Which I find remarkable since they were all caught flatfooted and wrong by the 2016 election results. You would think that the pundits and journalists would own their mistake but no I have found not a one with that much integrity, unfortunately.

“Surveys have found that two-thirds of voters openly identify with either the Democratic or Republican parties and vote for candidates of that party the vast majority of the time. Of the remaining voters — “independents” — about two-thirds of them also favor one party over the other, and vote for candidates of that party the vast majority of the time.

In cases where incumbents are members of voters’ preferred party, voters may not be fans of the incumbent, but they see voting for the incumbent as a lesser evil than voting for someone representing the opposing party — which they likely see as the source of the problems to begin with. The effect of this is that in districts where a clear majority of voters are supporters of one party over the other — which is the case in most districts — incumbents of that party have extremely good job security. Districts that are closely divided are where most turnover occurs.

It seems, then, that Congressional job security is due to partisanship and voter ignorance.”

“Partisanship is therefore merely a symptom of the public’s inability to understand an enormously complex, vastly distant government — voter ignorance.

It is important to put this into the proper perspective. Citizens are expected to elect candidates at the national, state, and local level who are running for a wide variety of offices in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Once elected, each office holder will work on a wide variety of issues. In order to make informed voting decisions, voters need to understand the job responsibilities of each of these offices, as well as who the candidates are, what they represent, and what they have done in the past. This is an immense task — an impossible task — particularly for people who have busy lives full of more interesting and pressing things than following politics.”

Before Mr. Phillips came to his final paragraph and conclusion, which I will post below, he advocated and made the case for greater levels of Representative Government instead of our current Direct Democracy, where the electorate cast their ballots for whom they want as legislators. Personally, I feel it is incumbent upon each citizen to become politically aware of the issues and the candidates. Of course, that is easy for me to say being retired with little else to occupy my time.

“The results of the recent congressional elections should be a red light telling us that our government is not in the control of the people. This is a very dangerous situation. If people are unwilling to do something now, we will surely pay dearly for it in the not-too-distant future. We need to have a conversation about how to solve this problem. Please take responsibility yourself and send this article to others so that conversation can begin.”

“If Voters Hate Congress So Much, Then Why Hasn’t Any Incumbent Lost a Primary?”, The Atlantic, By B. RESNICK AND P. BELL, 21  MAY 2014. <>

“Presidential job approval ratings from Ike to Obama”, Pew Research, 12 JANUARY 2016, BY G. GAO AND S. SMITH <>

“House seats rarely flip from one party to the other”, Pew Research, By D. DESILVER, 7 SEPTEMBER 2016. <>


Regarding my second question, “How do we respect the Office of the Presidency when so many of us clearly do not respect the man in that office?” I can find few articles that discuss the issue of a Trump Presidency, save one; although, I am certain more will be written as his presidency unfolds:

“And remember, we won’t just be setting a bad example for our kids, but for our entire world.  Because for so long, America has been a model for countries across the globe, pushing them to educate their girls, insisting that they give more rights to their women. But if we have a President who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world? How can we continue to be a beacon of freedom and justice and human dignity?” ~ Michelle Obama

“Remarks by the First Lady at Hillary for America Campaign Event in Manchester, NH”, The White House Office of the First Lady, 13 October 2016. <>

Clearly I did not vote for Trump in November and try as I might I cannot respect or support the man, the Republican Platform he ran on, or the men and women he is placing in positions of power within his Administration. This leaves me with only one alternative and that is to work very hard and diligently to highlight the failures of the Trump Administration, work to undermine the more dangerous policies that his administration attempts to put forward, and to work toward flipping the House and Senate to a more Liberal and Progressive Body in the 2018 Mid-term Elections.

On the other hand, there is a plethora of articles concerned with the disrespect shown toward Barrack Obama as President during the last eight years.

“It’s not about how much they disagree with his policies (although they definitely DO disagree with ALL of his policies), or how left-wing-liberal-Democrat-Communist he is (although they DO think he’s a left-wing-liberal-Democrat-Communist), but it is really about refusing to accept his legitimacy.  As if acknowledging his presidency would put a stain on the history of such noble Republican presidents as Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and George Bush (either one).  Republican politicians and pundits have had an incredibly difficult time acknowledging that Barack Obama is actually the President of the United States.”

Along with the documented instances of their flagrant disrespect.

“Obama’s Legacy: Most Disrespected President Ever.”, Your Law Scholar, By J. T. BEASLEY, 21  FEBRUARY 2016. <>



The Randomness of Pi 

“Pi is an infinite, nonrepeating decimal — meaning that every possible number combination exists somewhere in pi. Converted into ASCII text, somewhere in that infinite string of digits is the name of every person you will ever love, the date, time, and manner of your death, and the answers to all the great questions of the universe.”

This blog post is dedicated to the random nature of my life, everyone’s life really, when you think about it. The following short stories are the summation of the less boring events of the last five days in my ordinary random life_ but we have no proof.

Are the Digits of Pi Random?”, The Huffington Post, D. H. Bailey and J. M. Borwein, Updated 16 June 2013. <>


A Grocer’s Premium Meats and other stories

“Capitalism, when did I sign up for that? “

I am vegan, most of the time; however, I do believe in listening to my body’s cravings. Should I wake from a dream filled with the tastes and aromas of a perfectly broiled Delmonico steak, my favorite cut of beef, you may rest assured that I will purchase that cut, prepare it with slices of button mushrooms, a baked potato, and a vegetable of choice. This is a rare and wondrous meal that I seldom prepare for myself.

It occasioned during the early hours of Monday morning that I should be visited by such nocturnal imaginings, and I resolved myself to obtain the item of my corporal desires. Unfortunately, the next trip to Market Basket is not scheduled until the “Day That Will Live in Infamy.” I thought to myself, “I do not want to wait another three to four weeks before satisfying my craving; therefore, I decided to walk to a local grocer close to where I call home. The item I sought was amply stocked and my salivary glands began to function as designed, until my eye focused on the price sticker and the amassing salivary amylase halted abruptly. $14.99 per lb. is what I read; this is close to triple what the same cut of beef retails for at Market Basket.

The butcher’s helper, who just happened to be stocking the bins during my astoundment, received my full attention.

“Why is your beef priced so high?” I inquired.

“Higher than whom?” He responded.

“Market Basket beef is one third the price per pound of yours! I informed him accusingly.

“Oh, all of our meats are “Prime” cuts of beef, pork, and chicken.” He replied with haughty derision. “Market Basket carries a lower level of USDA inspected meat.”!page=post&id=57A327E1-904A-C9DD-45FD-B431E7BA7A8E

“Oh yeah, well I got your prime cut right here!” I said while grasping my crotch. “You have no variety.

“We carry most cuts of beef, is there something special you want, we can provide any cut you would like.” He replied helpfully, hoping to rid himself of this crazy old man.

“Yes, I would like something that I can afford.” I demanded and of course, you know his reply.

Now, I prefer to shop at Market Basket in the first place; however, without transport my options are limited. I will have to forgo satiating my desire for yet another four weeks.

Elitism- The grocery store where this interaction took place practices a form of elitism that is only surpassed by its management’s pomposity! Refusing to offer your customers a range of USDA levels is just hubris. Believing that their store and clientele are so wealthy as not to care about the cost is inexcusable, elitist, and nothing but what I expected from so pompous a family owned business. It flows directly from a belief that I have mine, so you can go pound. This is what comes from living in a capitalistic society. An economic system where the distinction between wealth and poverty steadily grows to a point where a merchant believes that he need only cater to the tastes and pocketbooks of his wealthy clients.


*************Same day, different mood. *************


Brown Skinned Girl

A brown-skinned young woman stood in line waiting her opportunity to place her beverage order. From my vantage, seated directly in front of the barista’s counter, I admired her comely features. She wore no discernible makeup. Her eyes were large and deep brown, protected by luxuriously long lashes; the longest eyelashes I have ever observed.


*************You Are So Vain*************

“You walked into the Coffee Shop

Like you were walking on to a yacht

Your red cap strategically dipped below one eye…”


Someone, I do not recall exactly who, suggested that we, of the liberal persuasion, should engage in polite discourse with those who have identified themselves as being supporters of the newly elected Administration. Until this day I had only engaged with members of the far Right in online disquisitions, it never turned out well.

How could someone raise my ire so emphatically, simply by walking into the room, strolling past my table, and wearing a bright red cap, emblazoned with a shibboleth that read “Make America Great Again?”

I so wanted to engage this man in a discussion regarding his provocative headpiece but I feared my rage, a similar anger to the one that he and his ilk had so recently soothed by virtue of the outcome of the 2016 election. I wanted nothing so much as to rip his lid off his gray-haired head, say something profoundly progressive, and walk off triumphantly. However, I was afraid, afraid that this endorser of racism, misogyny, and hate would do something untoward, requiring me to respond in kind.

While I sat, thinking of all the clever comments that I could hurl at this man it occurred to me that I was behaving like a coward. How could I ever again claim the moral high ground if I did not at least attempt to engage the man in conversation. Plucking up my courage, it was close to the time I need to leave to catch my bus anyway, I walked toward where the man was seated.

“Excuse me, I do not mean to disturb you but I could not help but notice you cap, and I would like to ask you a question.” I began. “Why? _You do realize what a Republican Administration headed by Trump will do to people like me? So why do you support such a man?”

The man began his even-tempered, thoughtful response by stating that he believed that Trump had the skills the country needed. Then he told of his own story.

“I am a business owner. I have started two companies, the second of which is doing quite well.” Yadda, yadda, yadda, I, I, I, and so on and so forth; basically intoning that he was a captain of industry, a self made man, like Trump, who says what he means. My take away from his soft spoken but smug answer was, here is someone who feels “I have mine, so you can go pound, _and I want more!” I felt the rage building inside but kept it under tight restraint and continued.

“There are many people, like me, who are frightened by some of Trump’s statements and actions.” I said.

“Oh I do not believe that anyone should worry about that, he will be good for the country and straighten out Washington.” He claimed.

It was at this point that I decided that it was futile to talk further with this true believer. How can you shine a light in a room that is already so bright with its own glow? Here was an obviously wealthy, well educated, and erudite individual who in one perfunctory conversation had totally dispelled my image of the average Trump supporter. This knowledge frightens me even more now that I know that there are upper middle class individuals who are more than willing to support an incompetent, dangerous, and severely flawed man for the most powerful position in the world.


************* A most disgusting morning! *************

I like to walk along the Rail Trail that is currently under construction near my residence in Acton, MA. During my walks, I have seen copious numbers of Deer tracks that indicate that there are many in the area. I do not have to remind you that where there are Deer there are also Deer ticks. This morning I found one attached to my person. I will not say where it had located itself, it suffices to say that it did not bother to buy me diner first.

I quickly took to the internet to determine the quickest and safest method of removal and proceeded with the described operation. After bagging and freezing the specimen for later identification per the online recommendations, I thoroughly washed the area with disinfectant soap. I can only hope that I successfully removed the entire disgusting little arachnid.

I will refrain from my walks through the woods until I can purchase a product that contains DEET for my clothing. I assume the pest hitched a ride on my pants during my last excursion this past weekend and crawled up my pant leg afterward, until it found its desired destination. Gag me with a spoon that was so gross I may never recover or venture out of doors again.

It was a bright, sunny Friday morning when I discovered my guest; therefore, I decided to email my Primary Care Physician and seek his advice. I immediately received instructions to thoroughly wash the area and to take a double dose of an antibiotic my Doctor prescribed and phoned into my regular pharmacy. I readily complied and went about my usual day.

I have an allergy to a specific class of antibiotics. I am asked at almost every doctor visit if I have any allergies to which I always answer; “yes, I am allergic to Tetracycline.” By Sunday morning, I was not feeling well. Noticing the usual lesion that indicated that I had ingested the drug to which I am allergic, I took to the internet to search for the name of the meds I had been prescribed. Sure enough, they are from the same family or class of antibiotics. Incensed I sent this email Sunday evening:

“Dr. X et al,

Allergic reaction to Tetracycline and Doxycycline

“Tetracycline and doxycycline are part of a class of broad spectrum antibiotics known as tetracycline antibiotics. All antibiotics in this class of medications are derived from the same basic four-hydrocarbon ring structure. Each medication, however, is slightly different in terms of exact ring structure, recommended uses, pharmacokinetics, and documented bacterial resistance.”

Why on god’s green earth would you prescribe for me a medication from the same class of drugs to which I am allergic? You people have asked me enough times if I have any drug allergies and my response has always been “YES, TETRACYCLINE!”

I have not see a lesion on my person like the one I developed Sunday in over forty years. Same lesion at the same location.

Your very unhappy patient

be well

Signed in the usual manner”

By Tuesday, I had received no reply so a resent the email, only this time a Nurse responded informing me that my Doctor has been out of the office since last Friday; so now I wait for an answer to my query; however, I already have prepared my response.

“If you were aware of the antibiotic conflict then you should have informed me of the possibility of a reaction and allowed me to make the choice. If, on the equipoise, you were unaware of the harm your prescription would cause then shame upon you for not knowing. Not only have you caused harm, minor though it is, you have also managed to damage my trust and faith in the physician-patient relationship. I honestly do not know how we proceed from here.”

Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fe, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and condemnation from me.


*************Friendship, love, and other concerns*************

She is a survivor, just like me. We met online. I read her comment, shared on a mutual friend’s post about her diagnosis and I decided to reach out and offer what support I could. We began our remote friendship tentatively and I did not expect much to come of it past a few appurtenant exchanges confirming our shared malady. My new friend’s name is, well let us just refer to her as “Sophie.” Sophie had just received a diagnosis of breast cancer requiring a double mastectomy, understandably, she was fearful and not a little concerned about her future.

We shared cancer stories and survivor stories over the next eighteen months, well into her recovery. We exchanged photos of each other and I was quite taken aback by the comeliness of this young woman . Sophie has a vibrant personality and exuberant love of life; I was certain that she would be fine, once her restorative surgeries were complete, and she felt confident enough to go out socially again. Little did I comprehend the importance of size to the female mind.

Sophie had her heart set on new and improved breasts, something she claimed to have desired since seventh grade. She was crestfallen when her Surgeon informed her that implants were incompatible with the life saving chemotherapy medication she needed to take.

We began writing via Facebook Messenger almost daily and a bond developed that for me, filled a void I did not know existed in my life. Sophie and I would go on cyber movie dates together since we are not geographically compatible to actually to meet in person. Cyber movie dates work like this, we both would rent the same title and watch it together on our separate screens 1,695.86 miles apart. We would make text comments via cell phone, critiquing the film, the actors, but never the company.

We conducted lengthy disquisitions about myriad philosophical topics; however, it became obvious to me that a now healthy young woman, like Sophie, needed more in her life than an aging old wordsmith for her to be fulfilled; Sophie must begin dating again, and with real flesh and blood males.

By this time, I had assumed a parental role in our relationship, the age difference, geographical incompatibility, and my distaste for socializing precluded our becoming more than cyber buddies. It was not that I would have discouraged or rejected an intimate relationship; unfortunately, I would make a poor partner in any romantic associations either here or in cyberspace. Regardless, Sophie still needed guidance and I resolved to provide what aid I could.

We continued to correspond even after Sophie summoned the courage to “put herself out there.” Moreover, my admiration for this survivor only increased.

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there are many self-absorbed wankers out in the dating world. All are of the swinging dick variety. The people Sophie was meeting were not fully formed men yet, just boys whose only interested was in satisfying their own prurient needs with little regard for the feelings of others.

After a while we began to correspond with less and less frequency and I would have to hunt Sophie down from time to time, as she would disappear from social media without warning. When we did reconnect, she would express elation at finding a new love interest or despair when that relationship disappointed. I tried to respond with quotes and anecdotal euphemisms intended to support Sophie’s frame of mind. Here is a sample of one such parable.

“A man once asked his father, “Father, how will I ever find the right woman?” His father replied, “Forget finding the right woman, focus on being the right man.”

Finally, Sophie wrote me that she had met someone nice, respectful, and kind. Somewhat younger that her; however, that was a much needed ego boost, or so she reported. In subsequent correspondences, Sophie confided that her new boyfriend/young friend/snuggle pal suffered from bipolar disorder. Alarm bells and sirens went off in my head, I was deeply concerned and stated as much in as gentle a manner as I was capable of, while conveying an imperative to be cautious. I recommended that Sophie read the novel entitled, oddly enough with her namesake, Sophie’s Choice a disturbing novel that details the pain and suffering experienced by a post WWII Nazi Concentration camp survivor and her bipolar boyfriend. Bipolar disorder is eminently manageable today with medication, as long as the patient remains on their meds. I was concerned that my cyber buddy was getting involved with more than she could handle.

As of this writing Sophie is working out physically on a regular basis, working on herself, and maintaining an on again off again relationship with her bipolar friend who I refer to as Mad Max, make of that what you will.

“Most people in your life were only meant for dreams, and summer laughter. They stay till the wind changes, the tides turn, or disappear with the first snow. And then there are some that were forged to weather blizzards and pain with you. They were cast in iron, set in gold and never ever leave you to face anything alone. Know who those people are. And love them the way they deserve. Not everyone in your life is temporary. A few are as permanent as love is old.” ~ Nikita Gill, Temporary and Permanent

An exceptionally beautiful autumn Morning

An exceptionally beautiful autumn Morning

The access to the rail trail was much easier this morning than it has been on previous walks, despite the fact that Starbase Acton remains under construction. Part way through my conversation with the Almighty I easily walked up the dirt ramp, past the silent earthmovers, and around the piles of coarse sand, known as ‘crushrun’ to those who work in the road building profession. As always She, who is the Creator of all things, listened intently while I babbled on about who needed Her assistance, who should be wrapped within her healing power, and who needed Her attention – BTW, I said it is everyone!

Once past the meager obstructions the path opened on to a leaf-strewn whirlwind of treetop detritus blowing about, back and forth with each gust of wind. I was thankful for the presence of mind that allowed me to bring my hooded sweatshirt, a gift from my auburn haired daughter, Liz. It was chilly in the shade and the stiff breeze made the hoodie a welcome accoutrement. I observed only one solitary Blue Heron, fishing for his brunch as I strolled leisurely along the path. I assumed it was a male because of its large size, he was a rather big fellow but that did not make him the least bit brave or bold and he flew off with a squawk before I could capture an image of him.

Continuing my trek, I indulged in that ancient childhood imperative of shuffling through the fallen leaves accumulating on a section of the roadway. It held the same delight I recalled from my youth; however, when I turned around to see the mighty swath I was certain that I had cut in my wake, there was nothing. I might just as well have been some ethereal being without form or substance walking along this trail. The wind gusts blew additional leaves covering my tracks. Would that all humankind tread with so light a touch upon the earth, it would be a far better world.

I briefly toyed with the idea of calling my friend Mike Gowing to see if he and his lovely bride were amenable to an impromptu visit. Then I remembered the 30% coupon I had waiting at CVS, good only for one additional day, and the pile of laundry I had waiting so I turned around and started back; socializing and visiting would have to wait for another time.

The Gas Station at the intersection of Route 27 and Great Road boasts a lovely display of Hearty Mums and I stopped to take their photo before making my way to the pedestrian light and crossing. Once safely across I walked through the mostly deserted parking lot wondering if a new Coffee Shop would ever open their doors. It has been almost a year since the previous shop closed their door and deserted Woods Plaza.

CVS was the only anchor store open at this early hour; most other vendors would not open until noon or Monday morning. The comely and friendly CVS Assistant manager greeted me as I entered and assisted me in finding the items I wanted. I bought some personal hygiene items and assorted chocolate treats because, well you know, it is Halloween and I like chocolate.

Arriving home, I found Miss Nala waiting by the door, hoping to sneak out into the hallway for an adventure of her own. Dashing her hopes, I let her out onto the porch instead where she engaged in some leaf chasing and other cat-centric activities that she enjoys.