Posts Tagged ‘freelance’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 211: Life in a Pandemic

June 8, 2020

Life has a way of making the foreseeable what never happens; and the unforeseeable what your life is about.   “Appaloosa”

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

Yes, same LOTR quotation as previously.
I’ve ‘always’ had a tendency toward OCD. In me, the ‘disorder’ takes the form of desiring control. Our house is a mess, but I am very particular about some things. Mentally, I always calculate the most efficient way to accomplish tasks. I have the store in which we buy groceries memorized, to pass through the store quickly. Since Social Distancing is my normal lifestyle, I’m not tempted to engage in conversations with random people. I eat the same food during the day that I’ve eaten for years; and have specific ways of preparing it. The dietary ‘rules’ relate to my degenerative polyneuropathy [doctor-speak for, ‘we have no idea what’s wrong with your nervous system’]. By eating the same selections of food, if my body doesn’t work properly on a given day, it isn’t because of my diet.

Among the ‘rules’ for my life is the rule that I primarily use my own illustrations in my blog. I wanted to use the above lines from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in my last post, so I needed to create a LOTR illustration in order to continue writing… While it looks like an image from the original promotional illustrations, it’s actually original art. That will be more apparent on the next LOTR illustration I’m working on.

I write as a way of analyzing and understanding the Disorder of the world. A Disorder that has not existed in this country for a century, compounded by America’s Original Sin of Racism.

My great-grandfather, and one of his daughters died in 1919, here in Portland, during the Spanish Flu Pandemic. My Dad was something like a year old, having been born in Eastern Oregon in 1918.

The Spanish Flu Pandemic infected 500 million people—about a third of the world’s population at the time.[5] The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu

By the time you read this, over 400,000 people in the world will have died from COVID-19; over 110,000 of those people will have lived in the U.S. The number of infected people in the world will be approaching 7 million. Lockdowns in the U.S. started about 3 months ago.

I wrote to a friend tonight and told him a story from one of my favorite books. The story takes place in a VA Burn Ward. There was a patient called ‘Sarge’ who had suffered third-degree burns over most of his body. He helped the nurses in the Burn Ward by bringing cups of water, and other Graces. A woman had been brought into the Ward, also suffering from third-degree burns over most of her body. Some months later, Sarge was telling this woman about his daughter going off to college. The woman said something like, ‘why would you send her to a Black University?’ Sarge replied, ‘because we are Black.’

There is no Melanin in the Burn Ward.

All of the patients in the Burn Ward have a thin transparent layer covering the muscles and tissues under the surface of our skin. The muscles and ligaments and tissues under our skin are the same throughout the world. The concept of Racism is based on a grim fairy tale that having pink skin is better than having brown skin. The idea has no basis in fact.

Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington D.C. June 2020

The other day, a friend asked me if I believe in evil.
Evil has been on display across the country; sadly, many of those who are sworn to protect and serve are responsible for creating the evil. I saw Evil’s face in Minneapolis, staring into a camera for 9 minutes while he and his partners crushed the life of a man who supposedly paid for something with a counterfeit $20 bill. When did buying something with a counterfeit dollar bill become worth a person’s life? Do you check the paper money you receive from a cash purchase to see if the bills are counterfeit?

Karma may come into the picture in the weeks and months ahead. In his autopsy, George Floyd was found to be Positive for COVID-19…

He said he wanted a wall. Only, it isn’t at the Southern Border [that one has been breached in many places]; and the American Taxpayer is paying for it.

‘The need to fortify your house shows weakness’: Heavily secured White House at odds with its long history as ‘the people’s house’ The Independent, UK

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/white-house-protection-security-protests-trump-a9550476.html

The White House is known as “The People’s House” — and since 2009, the Obama administration has made that nickname truer than ever before for millions of guests by opening the White House to as many Americans as possible.

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2014/09/15/opening-peoples-house

Tourists may find it harder to get that perfect photograph of the White House after construction begins on a new 13-foot fence, almost double its current height, to help keep intruders out.

The White House has become a fortress.

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 210: Who do you want to accidentally kill today?

June 1, 2020
Lord of the Rings Illustration [fan art]

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

As I write this, early Sunday morning on the West Coast, there are 6,075,786 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world. The total number of deaths worldwide is 369,433. Nearly 30% of those deaths occurred in the US.

The United States has 1,770,384 confirmed cases of COVID-19; the total number of deaths, from COVID-19, is 103,781, beginning on an unknown date between February 6 and February 17. Of the 16,495,443 people in the US that have been reported as having been tested, 11% of them have been tested as Positive. Of those 1,770,384 people, 5.8% have died.

I understand that people desperately want to end Social Distancing and go back to their jobs; and those who employ the people actually working want their employees to get back to work. And then there are those who simply want to be able to get out of their apartment and engage with people they know, over a ‘cuppa’…

If you have interacted with people outside of your home in the last week, you may carry the COVID-19 virus. If you are already carrying the virus, you’ve probably passed it onto someone else. COVID-19 sometimes takes two weeks to present itself. During that two weeks, you may not be aware you are infected, because some people carry the infection, but do not display symptoms. Consequently, you can be passing the virus on to everyone with whom you come in contact. Some of those people will die, a week or two from now.

Who do you want to accidentally kill today?

Wearing a mask helps protect other people from you. Masks do not protect you. COVID-19 is a virus; it is not alive. It is a microbe whose sole purpose for existing is replication. So far, it appears that COVID-19 only replicates itself in lung tissue. When humans talk, sing, cough or sneeze, droplets are projected from the lungs into the atmosphere. A mask helps to prevent droplets coming from you into going into the atmosphere. COVID-19 cannot travel except by human beings traveling. If you cough inside a store without a mask, studies show that you might be infecting someone in the next aisle. COVID-19 can exist in the air for about three hours and can live on plastic for about three days.

Social Distancing does nothing to eliminate the virus. Social Distancing enables hospitals to not be overrun by patients needing to be treated in the ICU. The virus exists in a larger portion of the population than it did in March, when states began ‘lockdowns’. People that have given up on Social Distancing over the last two weekends will cause a rise in ICU admissions in hospitals in the weeks ahead.

Hospitals are reporting that people in their 30s and 40s are dying of strokes; caused by COVID-19. Children are being diagnosed with swollen and cracked toes from blood clots; healthy people in their 20s and 30s die of strokes because COVID-19 causes blood clots to form in the brain of some percentage of the population.

Some hospitals are already overrun by COVID-19 patients; to the point where they cannot treat those who come in with heart attacks and strokes.
Protesters are demanding that State Governors ‘open the country’.

Who do you want to accidentally kill today?

In his 1978 novel The Stand, author Stephen King wrote about a viral pandemic that decimated the world’s population. And he gets it when fans say experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak feels like stepping into one of his horror stories.
“I keep having people say, ‘Gee, it’s like we’re living in a Stephen King story,’ ” he says. “And my only response to that is, ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
A pandemic like COVID-19 was “bound to happen,” King says. “There was never any question that in our society, where travel is a staple of daily life, that sooner or later, there was going to be a virus that was going to communicate to the public at large.”
What I’m living with and what I suspect a lot of people are living with right now is cabin fever. … But to be in the house day after day, all I can say is I’ve made wonderful progress on a novel, because there’s really not too much to do and it’s a good way to get away from the fear. It’s not panic. It’s not terror that I feel, that I think most people feel, it’s a kind of gnawing anxiety where you say to yourself, I shouldn’t go out. If I do go out, I might catch this thing or I might give it to somebody else.

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/08/829298135/stephen-king-is-sorry-you-feel-like-youre-stuck-in-a-stephen-king-novel

By Bryan Walsh, 25th March 2020

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200325-covid-19-the-history-of-pandemics

“In October 2019, I attended a simulation involving a fictional pandemic, caused by a novel coronavirus, that killed 65 million people, and in the spring of 2017 I wrote a feature story for TIME magazine on the subject. The magazine cover read: “Warning: the world is not ready for another pandemic”.

“There was little special about my insight. Over the past 15 years, there has been no shortage of articles and white papers issuing dire warnings that a global pandemic involving a new respiratory disease was only a matter of time. On BBC Future in 2018, we reported that experts believed a flu pandemic was only a matter of time and that there could be millions of undiscovered viruses in the world, with one expert telling us, “I think the chances that the next pandemic will be caused by a novel virus are quite good.” In 2019, US President Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services carried out a pandemic exercise named “Crimson Contagion”, which imagined a flu pandemic starting in China and spreading around the world. The simulation predicted that 586,000 people would die in the US alone. If the most pessimistic estimates about COVID-19 come true, the far better named “Crimson Contagion” will seem like a day in the park.”

If you wonder why the President talks about COVID-19 being a ‘Chinese virus,’ it’s because he already knew that. It was the subject of a Pandemic Exercise. He just neglected to mention that to the rest of us.

Tonight, as with last several nights, violent protests have erupted around the country over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, last week. Mr. Floyd, known by the police to be unarmed, was killed by police officers. Four officers were captured on multiple cameras; all four have been fired; one of the officers was charged with Third Degree Murder, and Manslaughter. However, that officer has not been shown on camera as having been arrested…

Another 21st Century lynching of unarmed African Americans by police officers.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m a dinosaur. I was born during the Korean Conflict [it never was a declared war against Korea; the Conflict was never resolved. A Cease-Fire was reached]. I was raised with the idea that Presidents of the United States had to the obligation of leadership; that in time of crises, the President would offer words of comfort, and would present a plan for moving forward.

Today’s President, who is more of a dinosaur than I am, is incapable of empathy. He is incapable of providing words of comfort, and has only one plan for moving forward:

‘How the Trump White House Sees You’: Top Economic Adviser Under Fire for Calling Workers ‘Human Capital Stock’

In a remark critics characterized as further evidence that the Trump administration views workers as nothing more than disposable tools of economic growth and corporate profit, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday nonchalantly referred to laid-off employees as “human capital stock” as he pushed people to return to their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voicing optimism about the potential for a speedy economic recovery even as U.S. unemployment surges to levels not seen since the Great Depression, Hassett told CNN Sunday that “our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so that there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.”

https://pbs.twimg.com/ext_tw_video_thumb/1265058311839367169/pu/img/HydoGTkJWXef7WSn?format=jpg&name=small

When we do not have a President who is able to lead us toward a new future, who will come forward to lead? Today [5/31], news media report that, “Trump fled to bunker as protests over George Floyd raged outside White House

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/31/trump-flees-to-bunker-as-protests-over-george-floyd-rage-outside-white-house

Meanwhile, Joe Biden left his home Sunday afternoon amid the coronavirus pandemic to visit the site of last night’s protests in Wilmington, Delaware”

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/31/politics/joe-biden-delaware-protests/index.html

Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.
The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use — of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.

Robert F. Kennedy

As long as men fear or distrust one another because of race, religion or ethnic origins, as long as any of the gates of opportunity are closed to the deserving, as long as there is unreasoning bigotry instead of understanding and tolerance, our Nation will fall short of its full power and greatness.

John F. Kennedy

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 207: Darkness never sustains, part 2

February 10, 2020
Time Magazine, June 18, 2018   |   Lincoln Leaves the Memorial

Time Magazine was prescient in 2018, in regard to the current President, and his Impeachment Trial, one without witnesses or evidence. He posted a video on Twitter showing “Trump 4EVA” implying the beginning of a monarchy that will go on for every election to come, well into the 22nd Century.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1225174713992990721

Always remember “Individual 1”
Donald Trump coordinated with Michael Cohen to commit federal campaign fraud, prosecutors state in a sentencing memo filed December 7, 2018 advising a substantial prison term for crimes to which Cohen has pleaded guilty.

Attorneys from the Southern District of New York state explicitly in the court filing that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” in handling payments to two women who claimed to have an affair with Trump long before the election. Trump is identified in this and other filings by U.S. attorneys as “Individual-1,” who “was elected President.” (The women are Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels.)

“I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with ‘Individual 1,’” Cohen said, reading from his prepared statement. “And for the record: ‘Individual 1’ is Donald J. Trump.”

Laurence O’Donnell’s broadcast regarding “Individual-1”:

https://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/prosecutors-cohen-committed-crimes-at-the-direction-of-individual-1-aka-trump-1392139843963?fbclid=IwAR0-WHUn8A8nU4EUGye1bEzJ41SFUkGouPCwQiljugRqnUtPsJg0D1nU9A8

Donald J Trump remains unindicted because of a Memo at the Department of Justice left over from the Nixon Administration: the idea that a sitting President cannot be indicted. This isn’t stated in the Constitution, or in any Law currently on the books. It’s a Memo.
As soon as DJT leaves office, he will be arrested for multiple crimes; and he will likely die in jail. He has ‘immunity’ because of a Memo. I would not be surprised to learn, if he does not get elected in November, that he has made an unexpected trip to a non-extradition country in Air Force One, prior to the new President being sworn in. I would not be surprised if he kept the plane, as a gift to his host.

The Doctor, Riverbank, Autumn (Maxfield Parrish)

More from The Doctor [I take inspiration wherever I can find it]. The Doctor and her companions are at a resort on a world in the future. During the course of the story, they learn that fearsome creatures inhabit this planet. As so often happens, the builders of the resort carved a small portion of the uninhabitable world into a venue from which they could make a lot of money.
The resort having been invaded by the fearsome creatures, The Doctor and her companions are traveling through underground tunnels below the resort, when The Doctor spots a sign:

(The torchlight reveals a sign in Cyrillic alphabet.)
GRAHAM: That looks like Russian.
DOCTOR: Novosibirsk. It’s a Siberian underground station.
YASMIN: This is Earth.
GRAHAM: No, no, no, it can’t be Earth. This is nothing like Earth!
YASMIN: When did you know that it was Earth?
DOCTOR: Just before you did.
Look, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s one possible future. It’s one timeline. You want me to tell you that Earth’s going to be okay? Cos I can’t. In your time, humanity is busy arguing over the washing-up while the house burns down. Unless people face facts and change, catastrophe is coming. But it’s not decided. You know that. The future is not fixed. It depends on billions of decisions, and actions, and people stepping up. Humans. I think you forget how powerful you are. Lives change worlds. People can save planets or wreck them. That’s the choice. Be the best of humanity. Or…be the dregs of humanity…

Doctor Who Orphan 55 [2020]

Religious people often talk about life as if all of the events that happen are ordained by God, consequently [but silently] blaming God for planes that fall from the sky, the deaths of our fellow human beings, diseases that kill hundreds and thousands, etc. When one suggests that God doesn’t really ordain the death of Innocents, a frequent response is that ‘we cannot know the mind of God’. These concepts come from interpretations regarding the nature of Biblical statements; treating all of Scripture as being virtually written by the hand of God. An idea that hasn’t been held by Rabbinical scholars.

People of Faith, people that are Religious, want a world where their connection to Creator protects them from pain and suffering. An understandable desire; however, it’s a desire that overlooks the lives of Jesus and the Twelve. John had the best fortune in his life—he spent most of his life in prison. Every one of Jesus’ Apostles were tortured to death; Peter refused to be crucified in the manner of Jesus; he requested that he be crucified head down. Jesus promises Presence; He does not promise protection.

Creator knows everything about everyone for all of Time; but Creator does not ordain the events of our lives. Nothing that happens in our lives ever surprises Creator; we are frequently surprised by life’s events. We each have Free Will. We each have the opportunity, each day, to decide how we will respond to the world around us, the people around us, and how we will respond to the coming Climate crisis. Temperatures in portions of Antarctica—the frozen continent, larger than the United States—reached 65° last week; the highest temperature ever recorded. Here in Portland, the temperature was in the mild 50° range.

The portion of Antarctica that was in the hot [for Antarctica] range was about half the size of the United States. Shelves of ice, some the size of US states, surround Antarctica; when shelves break off, the water level in the ocean[s] rises [there is one Ocean—we label the ocean into smaller portions, for our convenience]. The Ocean has differing characteristics that are dependent upon temperature and undersea activity. One of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves appears to be melting from below by warmer-than-normal ocean currents. It’s cracking from above. When it breaks off from the continent, it will begin a melting process that will raise the sea level by feet.

Friends in Australia sent a video of rain; rain that hasn’t been seen in NSW for months. Smoke from Australia’s fires is of such volume that it has created its own weather system.

17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second consecutive year. I’m sure she would prefer to be able to be a normal teenager, rather than a cultural icon. Waiting for the ‘adults in the room’ to get their act together.

We can be the best of humanity; we have the potential. But we have to stop screwing around, pretending this isn’t our responsibility to fix.

There are the Religious who believe that the actions of the President are events that will usher in the End Times, prophesized as preceding the remaking of the earth by God. His thoughts at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast indicate that he’s simply courting voters that will keep him out of jail. His actions for decades have indicated that he only thinks of his own well-being.
What if his actions have nothing to do with Faith or Prophecy?

Christians argue whether the prophecies in the Book of Revelation are figurative or literal. Among the literals are the pre-millennialists and the post-millennialists; for the figurative, we have the a-millennialists. The time period that is covered under the term ‘millennialist’ is one thousand years. There are at least a thousand years of difference between the two extremes.

There are a scary number of people who have no idea that the President has been throwing out regulations that protect the environment—the Clean Water Act; the National Environmental Policy Act, ignoring the coming climate disaster—they only get their news reports from specific ‘news’ sources that accept everything the President says as True. That the House Impeachment was an attempt to smear the President’s ‘good name’. People who frankly welcome the President staying in office as long as his party can enable him to do.

Approximately 48% of the Electorate chose not to vote in the 2016 Election. Their choice to not vote is the reason the President is in office.

We are arguing about the washing-up, while the house—our world—is burning. “The future is not fixed. It depends on billions of decisions, and actions, and people stepping up. Humans. I think you forget how powerful you are. Lives change worlds. People can save planets or wreck them. That’s the choice. Be the best of humanity.”

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 205: Christmas

December 23, 2019

Adoration of the Magi and a Time Lord

The Doctor: Right then, follow me.
Rickston Slade: Hang on a minute. Who put you in charge, and who the hell are you anyway?
The Doctor: I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who is gonna save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
————————————————–
Astrid: This Christmas thing? What’s it about?
The Doctor: Long story. I should know. I was there. I got the last room.
Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned (2007)

First of all, I don’t believe that I am the arbiter of when Christmas occurs. By the Roman Catholic tradition, I’m jumping the gun—Christmas is Wednesday, not today, Monday. By television commercial tradition, I’m about a month behind. I saw the first Christmas commercial on the day after Thanksgiving. Early yesterday morning, in what was my ‘night before last night’ I changed my playlist to “Christmas in Our Time”.

I’m a fan of the Doctor, if you haven’t already figured that out. I’m not a Whovian.
In this time of political warfare, I view the Doctor as the Hero/Heroine who never fights with weapons; although The Doctor does use the evil of others to betray themselves. Much like politics today.

In the image above, from the doorway to the right, is a copy of an obscure Norman Rockwell painting. Until recently, my version stopped behind Joseph. While church tradition has the Magi visiting the infant in the manger, the Massacre of the Innocents took place by Roman soldiers killing infants under two years of age, so that Herod would not be usurped from his throne by a new King. Consequently, the Magi probably came to the house of Joseph and Mary when Jesus was around two years of age.

I’m not fond of religious movies, but The Young Messiah asks interesting questions. The story takes place when Jesus is 7 years of age; and already aware that he isn’t like other children. He has “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” [the opening to the television version of Superman, starring the tragic George Reeves]. Powers and abilities that young Jesus has to keep hidden. In one scene, Joseph says to Mary, “How do we explain God to his own son? I can’t. Can you?”

We tend to get caught up in the infinitesimal; rather than the infinite.

 

 

Creator is creating the entire Universe.
There is no evidence that the Universe is complete.
There are only theories.

NGC 4380 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Virgo

a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

If you can only see Jesus through a First Century lens, you may not understand your faith. If Jesus only has meaning for you in the story of the Nativity during the Christmas season, then you probably don’t understand your faith.

There are planets in the galaxy we know as NGC 4380; we do not know if these planets are inhabited. We may never know, here on Earth. However, if Newton’s Laws of Motion are accurate, these Laws will apply on NGC 4380. If not there, then Newton’s observations are not Laws, they are merely explanations.
If there are sentient beings on inhabited planets in the NGC 4380 galaxy, they too will have a ‘Jesus’ story. A story of the Creator who became ‘human’ in whatever sense ‘human’ applies there. At Christmas we don’t hear of a fairy tale that takes place in a barn, witnessed by Angels and shepherds and cattle. We hear a story of the Creator of the entire Universe entering our time and space in the form of one cell implanted in the womb of a teenager named Mary. Nine months later, Mary gave birth to a boy named Jesus. Jesus grew up as a child grows, observing and learning what all human children observe and learn.

At Christmas, God acted, God moved, God initiated.
The first prayer any believer ought to pray is “Thank you.” God didn’t have to come.
Who would have thought that God—the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is—would have come as a little baby?
God surprises us in our lives. The principle is this: Whatever you think God is doing in your life right now, he probably isn’t. That principle helps me live with the paradox of trying to put God in a box. You see, he wants us to learn to trust him no matter what happens. Meaning isn’t to be found in having all questions answered, all problems solved, all ambiguity resolved. Meaning is found only in the fact that Jesus has come. If that is true, then the rest will be okay.

Steve Brown

Hugo, Advent 2019

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 202: busy making other plans

December 1, 2019

It’s been a month since I wrote one of these chapters of my Chronicles; I don’t really expect that anyone has noticed. Phrases like ‘heart-sick’ come to mind, as reasons for not writing.

I was vaguely aware of Watergate [1974] while in my fourth of my five years of working on a degree in Architecture. I’d voted for Nixon, twice—I was a Republican by ‘birth’—I’d grown up in my parents’ “church,” the American Legion. I was vaguely aware of the Clinton impeachment [1998]—I was 36 and dealing with my health, my dependence on barbiturates and a demand from my doc that I leave a very well-paying job with City government—to go I knew not where… “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”[John Lennon].

Now, I’m self-employed, theoretically retired [but grossly in debt] in a becalmed ‘sailboat’ of business where the wind has stopped blowing. I have no excuse for not paying attention to the current chaos in Washington DC.

One of the Chronicles I postponed announced the publication of my Sherlock Holmes story, A Scandal in Bohemia [more below] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the grand scheme of things, it did not seem that important—even though I’ve spent the last 2-3 years working on Scandal at night, while listening to the Scandal in Washington DC, on MSNBC.

At Thanksgiving with my in-laws [fortunately we are pretty much the same in political opinions] I heard the comment, ‘until money gets out of politics, I don’t care.’ We really weren’t having a discussion on politics, so I didn’t ask for more information. The reality is that until we do care, money won’t get out of politics. Until we do care about the environment, and the damage the First World is doing to the Created Order, we in the First World will be creating an uninhabitable Earth; and my infant grandson won’t have a world that is desirable to live in. We, here in Western Oregon, aren’t really feeling the effects of Climate Change; the temperatures are different; it still rains; we may get snow this year. There are rivers that flood, but we aren’t flooded; there weren’t any massive fires this last year; one can still drink water from the tap.

Of course, we also live in the Cascadia Subduction Zone:
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 600-mile fault that runs from northern California up to British Columbia and is about 70-100 miles off the Pacific coast shoreline. There have been 41 earthquakes in the last 10,000 years within this fault that have occurred as few as 190 years or as much as 1200 years apart. The last earthquake that occurred in this fault was on January 26, 1700, with an estimated 9.0 magnitude. This earthquake caused the coastline to drop several feet and a tsunami to form and crash into the land. What is most surprising is that evidence for this great earthquake also came from Japan. Japanese historic records indicate that a destructive distantly-produced tsunami struck their coast on January 26, 1700. By studying the geological records and the flow of the Pacific Ocean, scientists have been able to link the tsunami in Japan with the great earthquake from the Pacific Northwest. Native American legends also support to the timing of this last event.

Oregon has the potential for a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone and a resulting tsunami of up to 100 feet in height that will impact the coastal area. There is an estimated 2-4 minutes of shaking or rolling that will be felt along the coastline with the strength and intensity decreasing the further inland you are.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone has not produced an earthquake since 1700 and is building up pressure where the Juan de Fuca Plate is subsiding underneath the North American plate. Currently, scientists are predicting that there is about a 37 percent chance that a megathrust earthquake of 7.1+ magnitude in this fault zone will occur in the next 50 years. This event will be felt throughout the Pacific Northwest.

https://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/Cascadia-Subduction-Zone.aspx

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

These men were drawn in conjunction with several others, for a gallery piece I call “John_10:16” [“But I have other sheep which were not from this fold; I must also bring them. They also will hear my voice, and the entire fold shall be one, and One Shepherd.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English]

Thanksgiving has been bastardized by White American history. The ‘Pilgrims’ actually called themselves Separatists and came to establish a Theocracy in the New World. There isn’t one correct interpretation of that story of Thanksgiving that I heard all through my childhood; there isn’t one Thanksgiving and the date of Thanksgiving at first has moved throughout the fall season.  An interesting article on the Thanksgiving Controversies can be found here [no reporters taking notes; no cameras, no audio tracks]—sort of like today, and calls to Ukraine:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/us/thanksgiving-myths-fact-check.html

“Medicine Bottle,” above, was photographed by Edward S. Curtis while awaiting his hanging for the crime of being a Sioux Indian. While primarily known for their peaceful accomplishments, the other three were hated by many for simply existing; and for existing here before the Separatists arrived.

When I first started, in my third year of college, to follow the Jesus Way, as it is sometimes known among the Indigenous Populations of America, I knew that I was involved in a life-changing undertaking; I did not realize the manner in which the Jesus Way would become the center of my life. When I was the ages of my adult children, I was mostly about work, and attempting to comprehend how small children were supposed to be part of my life. Spending time with my infant grandson [my granddaughter is 17], I find myself in that same mystery. It takes so long, before one can actually discuss things with a child… My grandchild is being very well programmed by loving parents and grandparents. Brand new computer brain without ports; our programming comes through the senses.

The heart-sickness I feel comes from the fact that a significant portion of the Evangelical Church believes that the man who sits behind the Resolute Desk, in the Oval Office, was “chosen by God to be President of the United States”. A man who is a criminal, a man whose behavior contradicts everything White Evangelicals teach their children. The unindicted Co-Conspirator of his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who is in jail for money laundering, bank fraud and tax fraud; plus, other indictments. The only reason the man behind the Resolute Desk is not in jail is a memo from the Justice Department that says a sitting President cannot be indicted. Once he leaves office he WILL be going to jail.

Nixon was not impeached; because Republican Senators brought the evidence of Nixon’s crimes to him, and he chose to resign from office. He was pardoned by Gerald Ford, his successor, for the ‘good of the nation’. Nixon had not confessed to anything; and yet, was pardoned. Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, resigned from office because he was indicted for heading up an extortion scheme. This resignation was prompted by the Department of Justice, because they didn’t want an extortionist [his bagman delivered bags of cash to the Vice President’s office each week] to become President. Gerald Ford was selected to replace Agnew, because Ford was so easily confirmed.

President William Clinton was impeached for Obstruction of Justice and lying to Congress. That’s it. He wasn’t impeached for his affair with a staffer, because adultery isn’t a Federal crime.

Trump’s list of crimes is too long to be summarized.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/trump-has-committed-a-laundry-list-of-impeachable-offenses/

For the Evangelical Church to ignore these crimes, or to attribute Trump’s character to that of Old Testament pagan Kings who allowed Jews to practice their religious rites is hard for me to swallow. They trade conservative judges and anti-abortion legislation for humanitarian crises; the kidnapping of thousands of children, while their parents were deported. I was trained in direct sales [work I did not enjoy]—I don’t see how the Evangelical Church can ‘save face’ when Trump goes to prison. Creating an environment where a customer has the ability to ‘save face’ when their ‘facts’ are displayed as false, is an important factor in sales.

The Evangelical Church is creating a plank that will become very difficult to walk upon, once DJT goes to prison.

 

Enough of that.

 

A Scandal in Bohemia was first published on 25 June 1891 in the July issue of The Strand Magazine. This is the first short story, and the third story featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Doctor Watson. “A Scandal in Bohemia,” is the first of the 56 Holmes short stories written by Doyle for the Strand Magazine; and the first of the 38 Sherlock Holmes works illustrated by Sidney Paget.

After the short story was published, the circulation of the Strand Magazine increased immediately. Sir Arthur had already published two full-length Holmes books, “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Sign of Four,” however these books were not as successful as the Strand’s stories. Within the span of two years, the combination of Sherlock Holmes and the Strand had made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle one of the most popular authors of the age.

  • Illustration Tip #25: Chronicles in Ordinary Time 202: Still More Marketing

So you’ve finished writing and illustrating your book; you have battled the Amazon KDP computer’s programming to create the book they want; now you need to get the fact that your book has been published, to people who want to buy a book.

Editorial Note: I probably spent 10 hours attempting to get Scandal formatted the way I wanted; and I did not succeed with the print-on-demand version. I bought two copies of the book, and discovered the pagination was wrong. The KDP computer has its own ideas as to how books should be presented. I want the book to start on the right-hand page; as well as the Title Page, and the Forward. This requires the insertion of ‘blank’ pages. When Amazon used CreateSpace for print-on-demand, their computer had different rules. In order for a page to not be ‘blank’, it had to have ink on the page. So, I simply put “mjarts.com” at the bottom of the ‘blank’ pages. The KDP computer apparently is programmed differently, so a larger area of the page needs ink.

In theory, one can submit new manuscripts to correct the ‘errors’ the computer discerns. At least, in theory. I submitted new manuscripts with the errors corrected; and I received the exact same report regarding errors. The computer apparently remembered who I was, and what computer I used; and assumed that I was unable to correct the manuscript. I then started submitting the corrected manuscript with progressively shorter names. I eventually submitted manuscripts called John, Paul, George and Ringo; as well as the Beatles. All of them resulted in the same no-longer-existing ‘errors’—even when I used a different computer. I finally gave up. I may try again. The story might be different if I really desired/expected the book to become a best seller…

The reality is that I created the book for me.

My first colored children’s book was published by a major educational publisher, and this book about the Oregon Trail had a clearly ‘Oregon’ title. I later learned that the only way the book would be purchased was through the purchase of a Fifth-Grade curriculum. If the curriculum wasn’t purchased, the book would not be distributed. To me, it seemed irrational to print a book about the Oregon Trail, and to not market the book to the States the Oregon Trail passed through. My guess is that the copies I ordered for myself may have been the only copies to see the light of day.

My understanding is that it’s now harder yet to get a book published for placement in bookstores. Unless it’s a book by Paul or Ringo…

 

 

 

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 179: Unexplainable Happenings

January 20, 2019

Okay… I changed my relationship with WordPress, and things have not come out, yet, as I had hoped. I hope to return to https://mjarts.blog

CPO John Seidman was my wife’s nephew; he died in a failed Coast Guard rescue in October of 2009…a tragic accident.
http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2009/11/photo-essay-memorial-service-for-rescue-1705/
Members of the US Coast Guard have a special place in my heart.
Today, the spouses of members of the US Coast Guard are figuring out where they will get their family’s next meal because members of the Coast Guard are working without pay, due to heartless politicians who have forced the country into a Shutdown. Legislation in Congress to stop the Shutdown has already been passed, Legislation that will allow the Shutdown to end; but these approvals are not being passed on to the President for his signature, or his veto of the Legislation; a veto which can be overridden by the two Houses of the Legislative Branch. The Shutdown can end today, if certain people will swallow their pride and do their duty to Serve. As do those Federal workers you and I employ to serve us.
You can support Furloughed Federal Government workers by donating to your local Food Bank:  
https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank

First Heroes For Freedom, Silver Moon Press, Spring 2000

Physical Pain.
It started in a PE class in high school. I was on a trampoline, with the goal of jumping upwards and landing on the lower part of my chest; what actually happened is that I landed on the upper part of my chest, causing my legs to fly over and behind my head: Э I heard my spine pop like my desk chair rolling over the bubble wrap on my office floor [I am by nature untidy]; for the next few weeks, when I turned to face someone, I rotated my body like a door on hinges. My parents probably did not have health insurance, and it seemed like, if you could get to a doctor, you didn’t really need one. From that point onward, I lived with continual pain in my low back, and recurring sciatica—burning pain in the outer part of my thighs from damage to the Sciatic nerve.

There was a significant amount of time when the pain stopped. My fiancée and I went to a crusade here in Portland; some evangelist whose name I forgot. The first evening contained some profound teaching on the subject of Faith; the second or third evening, he was ‘giving out the Gift of Tongues’—glossolalia. Glossolalia is found in a variety of religious experiences—speaking in unknown languages. The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, refers to ‘speaking in the tongues of angels’—and most importantly, if there is no one around to interpret this language, when spoken in public, it has no value. Glossolalia runs counter to my personality; but I felt compelled to go down to that stage…where I found myself lying on the floor, with babbling people rubbing their hands over me. After a few minutes, I asked the Creator if I could go back to my seat; the experience was getting embarrassing. On my way back to my seat, some gal with a clipboard asked me if I had ‘received the Gift of Tongues’ and looked confused when I said that I hadn’t. A day or two later, I realized that my back didn’t hurt—first time in years—when one deals with chronic pain, it tends to have a habitual aspect—I expected to be in pain, ‘so I was’. My awareness of ‘no-pain’ wasn’t immediate.

One more experience of Unexplainable Happenings in my life. Things for which I cannot find a logical explanation; things that seem to be a result of an act of faith. I cannot articulate ‘why’ the Creator would intervene in my life; nor can I predict when such things might occur. I know a guy who has heard voices that directed him out of events that would have cost his life. I’ve never heard voices; but I have ‘sensed’ that I was supposed to do things. These events add some weight to the results of my inner mental wanderings.

Three totaled cars, years working as a carpenter—the back pain came back. The reality is that I now have two stenoses in my spinal column. Damaged vertebrae and a narrowing of the hole through which the spinal nerve pass. I don’t know if the damage occurred in high school or is caused by some other deterioration. There are no past records I can check.
Some ‘good’ news is that I don’t feel Sciatic pain any more—those nerves are damaged by my ‘idiopathic polyneuropathy’—doctorspeak for ‘your nerves are messed up, and we don’t know why’. The reality is that Neurology is still in its ‘childhood’—Neurologists don’t know nearly as much as they pretend to. My understanding is that most neurological conditions have no label because the nervous system isn’t very well understood.
What appears to be occurring is that my nerves’ outer sheathing/protection is deteriorating. I liken it to wiring with its insulation damaged. If you connect the exposed wiring to something that conducts electricity, you get a short circuit. At the same time I have this growing superpower of being impervious to external pain/sensation, I also have my own Kryptonite; my damaged nerves provide a burning pain of their own, which never stops. Diminished by medication.
We each have the option of choosing our own self-identification; while I deal with constant pain, I work at not letting it become my self-definition. I believe in possibilities; my Faith tells me that Pain won’t be my self-definition when I end my journey here on this world.

Enough of that.

Promotional image for the Man of Steel

I decided, when I started this blog, that I wasn’t going to write anything, in terms of working as an illustrator, that wasn’t accurate. Consequently, I haven’t written a lot about being a freelance commercial artist. I know a lot of things that don’t seem to work very well. As a freelance commercial artist, I’ve wasted a lot of money on print advertising, I’ve wasted a lot of money on digital advertising and a lot of time trolling Craigslist. Most of my income, for the last twenty years, has come from my other business—Building Code consulting. The enjoyable part of that business is that I always need illustrations to explain Building Code concepts; and I have this in-house illustrator who makes my technical writing more understandable. I bill him out at an hourly rate

I cannot tell you how to become successful as a freelance commercial artist

I create images that people admire, but don’t particularly want to buy. When I started this gig—having been told by my doctor that I needed to change careers in order to keep my health—I collected a folder full of images that I admired. I mostly focused on ‘the Golden Age of Illustration’ plus other examples of realism that border on fine art. I invested something like ten years into being able to create the kind of image I want to produce, consistently. In those ten years the world of illustration changed. Illustrations for children’s books became cartoony and photographers became illustrators.
A reality that I do not like to admit is that as in the rest of my life, I am a dinosaur; and I have no desire to change what I do. Refer to my last post, with Illustration Tip #1.

  • Illustration Tip #2:

Portfolios, digital and otherwise: back in the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth, all advertising was done on paper. Color made of ink-on-paper can be very different from color-made-from-light. Not only is it important to set the ‘gamma’ of a monitor [yes, even today], it is important to know what sort of color setting [Printer Profile] the printer is using. Print images use CMYK [Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, black] inks and monitor images and photocopiers use RGB [Red, Green, Blue] toners and diodes.

First Postcard | Second Postcard | Third Postcard

Hire an Illustrator is a company in the UK who hosts one of my portfolios and sends out postcards to art buyers. The first time I sent them a card design, I neglected to find out what Printer Profile they use. The second card was better [too much green] and the third was tolerable [the other side is too dark, but tolerable].
Does this sort of advertising work? My usual measurement for ‘working’ is whether or not I’ve gotten an inquiry or work as a result of the advertising. I’ve gotten work through this vendor, so I keep using them [beside which, I like the people]

  • Illustration Tip #3:

If you are going to use online advertising via digital portfolios, you will need to provide the vendor with a title, a description of the work, and Keywords to locate your work on their website:

Third Postcard, above:
Doctor Who at Rainbow Canyon
fan art; promotional image, Digitally-colored graphite drawing, digital
Keywords: Fantasy, Children, People, Realistic, Children’s Book, Comic Book Art, the Doctor, TARDIS, Dr-Who, whovian, doctorwho manipulation

I keep a Keywords.txt file in my Windows-based office network, for every image I post online. In time, you will find that you do this A LOT.
Setting up illustrations for a new-to-me vendor is very tedious. I assume that Apple has some sort of equivalent to a text file.

  • Illustration Tip #4:

As an editorial note regarding Windows:

That grey rectangle after the colon: is not simply a blank space. In that space are all sorts of instructions for Windows in terms of font, spacing, and a bunch of other stuff. When you transfer the words in that box to some other format, such as WordPress in their new iteration, the phrase is messed up. The same thing happens from transferring Word to html and other machine languages. It’s best to do your copy and paste from a text file, which has no hidden attributes.
This can become a problem when creating a digital book through Amazon or some other vendor. If you attempt to create a digital book using a Word manuscript, you will encounter strange things within the text—that information in the grey rectangle. When I create digital books, I use Adobe InDesign- there are no grey rectangles. More tedious; better results.

Coast Guard Rescue












Chronicles in Ordinary Time 178: Abstraction

January 12, 2019
Nebula NGC 3627

ANY TIME that a human being writes something that is intended to somehow describe the nature of God, that human being is using an abstraction. The problem with many religious people is that they really have no idea what an abstraction is.
Abstraction, the cognitive process of isolating, or “abstracting,” a common feature or relationship observed in a number of things, or the product of such a process.

The term abstract is sometimes used to refer to things that are not located in space or time; in this sense, numbers, properties, sets, propositions, and even facts can be said to be abstract, whereas individual physical objects and events are concrete. The capacity for making and employing abstractions is considered to be essential to higher cognitive functions, such as forming judgments, learning from experience, and making inferences.
https://www.britannica.com/science/abstraction

This lack of understanding is the reason I refer to the Creator, rather than ‘God’—when people use the ‘God’ word, I really have no idea what they actually mean. The Creator is not located in Space or Time. I don’t even think the Creator is corporeal in any sense that a human can understand. Humans are trapped in Space and Time; nearly everything we know is concrete—things we can understand or experience directly; experiences that involve the five senses. There are some common experiences that go beyond the concrete—Love being a primary example. No one knows what Love looks like until they experience it. A baby begins to experience Love while in the womb; the bond between a mother and their unborn offspring [Love seems to exist beyond the human].
This Love becomes tangible at birth; or not. Not every child experiences Love. One of the saddest creatures on earth is the child who has never known Love. People who are Pro-Birth tend to forget this; not every child is born into a loving environment; not every child is adopted into a loving environment; not every child experiences Love in her or his life. While possibilities always exist, being born is no guarantee that a positive outcome will occur. People talk about being Pro-Life; I am of the opinion that if people were really concerned about the life of a child, they would show a greater concern about solving the societal ills that end up forcing a girl to deny her baby’s life. I walk through a cemetery almost every weekday; there are portions of the cemetery that are set aside for those who die early in life. Clearly one can see that even in death, the remembrance of the child is filled with Love. The Book of Ecclesiastes touches upon this notion.

In my last post, I raised the idea that I was going to write about my life. To fully understand me, one needs to understand the idea that I believe in the Creator; that everything in my life stems from my relationship with my Creator. This relationship extends from the most inane aspects of my life to the most far-reaching ideas of my life. This hasn’t always been true; I was raised as an atheist. Even that phrase is inaccurate; the Creator, in whatever form that concept is used, was absent from my early life. While I heard the word, ‘god,’ this word had no real meaning for me. Even less meaning than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I was in my twenties when I first began to understand the Creator.
I really don’t care what you believe; my intention in life is not about convincing others as to what they should believe. My goal is to share possibilities.

One, I don’t believe that we are supposed to be uniform in our understanding of the world we live in; two, as the BBC’s Sherlock describes himself, I am a ‘high-functioning sociopath’. More academic descriptions, such as INTJ [if you are aware of Myers-Briggs] appeal to my wife. My ‘natural’ self really doesn’t like people very much; that self that I have been working on for forty-plus of my sixty-six years is more open to people. My digital self is more personable than my physical self.

I am a follower of Jesus. The Creator of the entire Universe created a single cell and implanted that cell into the womb of a teenage girl named Mary. Mary [Miriam in Hebrew] was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran. The Creator entered Time and Space as Jesus so that humans could have a more concrete idea of the nature of the Creator
I don’t ascribe to a particular denomination of Christendom; at the same time, I’ve missed very few Sundays in church, during these forty-plus years. “Church,” I find, is one place where I can converse with other humans about the Creator. Generally speaking, if I comment about the Creator on social media, I find a lot of hostility. I have little room in my physical life for hostility—one of the reasons I vent about our government so much—it was never intended to be functioning so ineptly—the venting helps me to be the person I want to be; rather than that other guy.
My digital self is far more open to interaction with other humans.

I am in pain all the time. This situation began in high school. Pain is an indisputable fact of my life that, like my belief system, can’t be separated from the rest of my life; however, I do not like to define my life by my limitations. I prefer possibilities…

Enough of that.

An early sketch, pre-1970

I began drawing in the seventh grade, or something like that. I was bored, spending another weekend at my grandmother’s, in Condon, Oregon. Condon was small then; I think it may be smaller now. My grandmother had an old refrigerator box sitting on her porch, filled with magazines. In my boredom, I began copying photos from magazines. I had some talent.
In high school, pursuing the drafting proficiency I began in my elementary school shop classes, I was introduced to Technical Illustration and found the occupation that I thought I would pursue all of my life. It didn’t exactly work that way. In college I found out that it’s really important to plan one’s life. The college I chose did not offer Technical Illustration; that college was the only one I considered, because my cousin was going there. See all of the words above Spock. There, my choices were architecture and art. “Starving Artist” seemed to be a poor choice for an academic career. I didn’t want to draw houses [limited imagination], but I selected architecture anyway. Of course, the college I was attending didn’t really have an Architecture program. It took me two years to understand that; and I transferred to the State University that offered an Architecture program. After five years of college, I had a degree in Architecture. I had no desire to be an architect. I still didn’t want to draw houses [intentionally-limited imagination]. If one likes to draw, an Architecture major is a good choice.
Years later, in my third career, I began working as an Illustrator and Building Code consultant [the occupation that has allowed my wife and I to eat, for the last twenty-one years].

  • Illustration Tip #1: find a career that will provide you with an income while you begin your illustration career. The reality is that if you can’t juggle two occupations at the same time, you won’t likely survive as a commercial artist. The ‘day job’ won’t feed your soul, but if you don’t feed your body, you won’t be able to pursue a career that feeds your soul…

Further Tips in the future.
Watch this space.









Chronicles in Ordinary Time 177: I’m tired of this [expletive deleted].

January 6, 2019
Canticle of the Sea [Wooden Boat]

Moving Forward.
This is what ‘New Years’ should be about.

New Years come with promise; sadly, there is so much HPtFtU [Human Propensity to F*ck things Up] in our world that by this time, 365 days from now, we will probably be thinking about the year just past, and all its disappointments. We are better at remembering disappointments than we are at remembering hope. Remembering hope is hard.
Perhaps we will be able to look back and see that this was the year that we started growing up. “We” means nearly everyone on the planet; “growing up” means taking responsibility for our actions. Humans dislike taking responsibility for our actions.
The idyllic scene above is becoming more impossible each day. We are destroying the oceans, and the creatures who call the ocean their home.

Growing up when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I lived with what seemed like a mythic image of the “Greatest Generation”. A friend of mine, in his eighties, gets annoyed with the junk mail he receives about the “Greatest Generation” and how the message is about the soldiers who fought. In reality, the “Greatest Generation” was the civilian population of the Allied powers who endured years of rationing and simple ‘going without’ so that soldiers had the resources to fight. In America, the majority of major factories became dedicated to producing the machinery of the war effort. Very few new cars were built in America during World War II. When paid-up orders for new cars reached a certain level, the factories would stop making airplanes, and went back to making cars for a short time. When those orders were filled, the factories would return to the War Effort. People had ration books that enabled them to buy the hardest things to purchase in wartime—gasoline, meat, eggs, milk, dairy products. If one used up all their gasoline allotment before the new ration books were produced, one simply walked, or rode bicycles. The car stayed idle, in the garage.
The governments of the world have not yet internalized the extent of our Climate Change problem; they have not yet realized that a worldwide ‘war effort’ will be needed in order for the human population to be sustained on the earth. World War III may be fought against ourselves. People will have to start doing without, in order for us to stop the worsening effects of Climate Change. Modern people don’t like doing without. We in urban America live in a world dedicated to convenience and immediacy.


One of my favorite images of this last week:

I’m not a particularly a big fan of Nancy Pelosi. I wasn’t paying much attention to her activity during the ‘W’ years, and the first years of the Obama Administration. However, she is the only woman, ever, to be elected Speaker of the House. She is also the only woman to have achieved this distinction, twice. This counts for something.

I enjoy the above image because I have a granddaughter, a teenager who will be able to vote in her first election in 2020. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, surrounded by all the children present in the House Chamber that day, her own grandchildren, and the children of the new Members of the House being sworn-in this week. She dedicated her swearing-in to the children of America. The children of today, across the world, are likely the last hope of keeping our planet safe for human existence. As long as we adults get off of our complacency and stop making the situation worse.

A collection of photos of the ‘Democrat’s Class of 2019’ looks like a cross-section of America. A cross-section of the Republican House looks like a bunch of old white men. I am an old white man, and I am tired and outraged at the Legislative Branch’s decision to not-govern during the first two years of the current Administration.

There is a disease spreading across our country. It isn’t a new disease, it’s a disease as old as mankind: HPtFtU. However, there used to be a semblance of resistance to this disease—only ‘bad’ people treated other people like dirt. It wasn’t true, but it acted as a barrier. Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, if you were white, and growing up in Portland at the same time as I, there was a cultural stigma of ‘being bad’ that was to be avoided. Stealing, swearing, sex before marriage, underage drinking and others, were things to be avoided because the penalty just wasn’t worth the short-term benefits that could be imagined. At least, that’s how it was in the world of my family and in my schools.

The world I grew up in no longer seems to exist in urban America. Maybe it still exists in rural America—I’m not there.

The only reason the President of the United States of America is not in prison is the nature of his job. He is an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on multiple felony charges. His Indicted Co-Conspirator, his former attorney, is looking at three years of Federal Prison time. He got off easy, because he ‘cooperated’ with the Special Prosecutor in the Mueller Investigation.

The President of the United States of America is an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on multiple felony charges. Just let this sink in for a moment of historical time.
Nixon was never charged with a crime. He was pardoned without having anything proven. He was shown the information collected against him, and he resigned, with nothing proven. He had tapes of everything that happened in the Oval Office.

The current President of the United States is under at least a dozen State and Federal criminal investigations. His Charitable Foundation was dissolved by the State of New York for having made only one $7.00 charitable contribution to the Boy Scouts—for Barron’s joining; the rest of the time, he used the millions of dollars in his Foundation as a checkbook. The State of New York is pursuing a lawsuit against the Trump Corporation. In the meantime, the President is banned from serving on any New York Foundation for ten years; as are his children. The President who ‘is proud to shut down the government for border security’ has been found out to have regularly hired undocumented immigrant workers at his resorts—the names of the employees lacking documentation were removed from the computer systems, to avoid Secret Service scrutiny.

This is the man leading our country; the man who represents our country to the world. The man who has single-handedly, with his ‘America-First’ Doctrine, cost our country its respect across the world. The world now knows that the United States cannot be counted on to preserve justice in the world

I’m tired of this.
I also realize that my being tired of this doesn’t change the world.
I also realize that there are millions of people in this country who also are tired of this.

A friend of mine suggested that I am contributing to the divisiveness in the country, by the nature of what I share on Social Media. Therefore, I’m changing the nature of this blog

I applied for a Grant once, to provide external funding to enable me to spend more time illustrating, and less time being a “Code Guy”—it pays much better, but I’m tired of dealing with the government. I have been tired of working with and for the government, since the 80s. The Grant application wasn’t approved; one of the comments made by someone on the committee was that, as my application was being read, people ‘lit up’ when I was talking about my story, rather than the Sherlock Holmes story I’m creating.
I don’t often share my story; to me, it doesn’t seem helpful, because it really isn’t duplicatable. I may be mistaken. I’ve battled chronic pain for 40 years; I’ve battled addiction. I haven’t won, and I’m still ‘losing’—physically. I’m stronger, emotionally. Maybe it’s time to share…

Watch this space.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 176: Xmas in America, Part II

December 23, 2018
A Christmas gift from NASA, RS Puppis:
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed the variable star RS Puppis over a period of five weeks, showing the star growing brighter and dimmer as it pulsates. These pulsations have created a stunning example of a phenomenon known as a light echo, where light appears to reverberate through the murky environment around the star. RS Puppis is over ten times more massive than our Sun, and around 15,000 times more luminous. It lies around 6500 light-years away from us.

I spend a lot of time following the news; current events via MSNBC and the dozens of commentators and experts available to them. Frequently former Cabinet members, Ambassadors, and Military officers that have served previous Administrations.

People are stunned; and do not know how to react.

A Global temper tantrum.
Shutting down the Government on the weekend before Christmas…

It shouldn’t surprise me; it’s about par for this course. A President currently under 17 Criminal investigations with a Cabinet of corrupt officials.

A President who is probably acting a lot like King Herod, using a metaphor from this time of year. Instead of killing the children they are still being stolen from their parents; and they still haven’t been returned. Stolen children are being held in a DHS facility near my house; I pray for these children every time I drive by. What a lot of people do not understand is that the parents of these children have no idea where their children are. In recent weeks it has been discovered that if children are finally allowed to return to their families, they may not even recognize their parents, and may no longer be able to speak Spanish, or whatever dialect their family speaks.

A President who loudly spoke from the Oval Office, to the cameras, that he would proudly shut down the Government for the sake of Border Security, who now blames the shutdown on the Democrats…

A Gofundme site is raising money to help build the Wall. The Wall that supposedly was going to be funded by the Mexican Government.

A counter Gofundme site is now raising money to buy ladders.

And still, the Light of the World shines in the darkness. It takes work to remember this, sometimes.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 175: Xmas in America

December 16, 2018

It appears that we are in that time when the season of Christmas in America lasts for a solid month, beginning with Thanksgiving. One thing I find interesting is that in the Catholic Church [I’m not], the Season of Advent begins December 2nd, and the Season of Christmas begins on Christmas Day. No Christmas carols before Christmas. Advent music, yes; Christmas carols, no.
When I worked for the City of Portland, I took my lunch to an atrium on the 5thfloor of a nearby office building, and often listened to KBVM, the local Catholic radio station. On KVBM I could listen to peace-restoring music that WASN’T Christmas songs. Advent, the time of waiting for the Savior to appear, precedes Christmas. For me, Advent is largely all year.

Those who know me well [a relatively small number], know that I really dislike this time of year. The celebration of Christmas is ostensibly about the Creator entering Time and Space in the form of a single cell embedded into the womb of a teen-aged girl, the first InVitro Fertilization in history; in America, the celebration instead glorifies the Having of Stuff, More Stuff, and Stuff you don’t want, but it was on sale…

Consequently, I find this image incredibly appropriate to this Season in America:

Mary, Joseph and the young child Jesus, left Bethlehem and traveled to Egypt [without papers] in order to protect Jesus from Death by Roman Soldier, in what artists have called The Slaughter of the Innocents. King Herod, fearing his being supplanted by the foretold ‘King of the Jews’, prophesied by the Magi who visited him, ordered the murder of every child in the land that was under the age of two years.

Our own Autocrat wants the children stolen from their parents at the border and placed in Foster Care for the rest of their childhood. Our Autocrat readily admits that the idea is to make emigrating to America completely undesirable.“America is closed” for immigration business…

My take on a not-original idea that floated around Fb recently:

Are We There Yet–Mary and Joseph At the Southern Border

My forebears arrived by boat, from Scandinavia. My Mom became an American citizen when she married my Dad.
Too few Americans are aware that the notions held by our current President regarding immigration do not match the provisions of our Constitution. It is not illegal to enter our country at someplace other than an Immigration station. It is not illegal to enter our country without a Visa or even a Passport. Our Constitution guarantees the right of refugees to enter our country from anywhere on our borders, in order to seek asylum. It is merely inconvenient for thousands of immigrants to seek asylum en masse at one location.

Soul Nebula in Infrared from Herschel
The little-known nebula IRAS 05437+2502 an Enigmatic Cloud
Madonna with Protective Cloak
The image of the Madonna of Mercy first emerged in a collection of saints’ lives written in the 1230s by the Cistercian hagiographer Caesarius of Heisterback. Marian devotion was starting to include the idea that Jesus’ mother shared some of her son’s powers to protect and even redeem sinners. Caesarius wrote dozens of tales about Mary protecting priests, nuns and monks from thunderstorms and devilish temptation, and then closed the collection with a Cistercian monk’s vision of the Virgin Mary surrounded by many high clerics. the monk was disturbed when he could see no Cistercians, but when she was asked why, she threw open her cloak to reveal a host of Cistercians in a privileged place under her mantle. This proved an extraordinary compelling image, and clergy in particular competed for that favoured place under the Virgin’s protective cloak. Many late frescoes and paintings show Franciscan and Dominican nuns or friars under the mantle…
The Misericordia [Mercy] image spread rapidly through the fourteenth century, when plagues like the Black Death in 1348 drove Christians to seek shelter under Mary’s cloak. By the end of the century, recurring plagues, a widening split in the church, and growing fears of the devil’s work on earth made many fear that final Judgement Day was coming.
Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation
Nicholas Terpstra

On this Third Sunday in Advent, I read the following headlines and summaries:

Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under criminal investigation.
The Atlantic reported last week that the Trump administration is renewing its early efforts to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades — many of them having fled the country while at risk of becoming political prisoners during the Vietnam War.
7-year-old immigrant girl dies after Border Patrol arrest. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox had criticized Trump for the death of a seven-year-old migrant girl and for his handling of the migrant caravan.
More than three years into Yemen’s civil war, more than 16,000 civilians have been killed and injured, the vast majority by airstrikes, the U.N. human rights office estimates, adding that the figures are likely to be far higher…the United States is playing an essential role in the war, supporting the coalition with intelligence, refueling, technical assistance and billions of dollars in bombs and other weaponry…Despite the concern, President Trump announced $110 billion in new arms sales last year to the kingdom, weapons that most analysts expect will be used in Yemen.U.S.-made munitions, including banned cluster bombs and Paveway bombs, have been used in attacks that have killed and injured civilians.
Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is considered the worst in the world. With more than 3 million people displaced by war, and with the economy besieged and in ruins, the United Nations says the risk of famine could imperil 22 million people – about three-quarters of the population.
At least 1 million Yemenis have contracted cholera in the largest outbreak of the disease in history and pose a threat of an international epidemic.

I especially find the legend of Santa Claus, center-stage of everything Xmas in America, to be especially inappropriate this year. Before you complain about how children need the Christmas story, think about 22 Million Yemeni children,women and men dying from famine or cholera.

The US Senate has voted to stop funding the Arab war against Yemen. The Speaker of the House refused to allow the legislation to be presented to the House of Representatives; and it is likely that the President would veto the legislation—he’s a big fan of the $110 Billion arms sale. He does a lot of business with the Saudi government.

While I do not consider Mary to be the Third Person of the Trinity, I do, in my illustrator-brain, think of Mary as a vehicle for the work of the Spirit of the Creator. The Greek word used to speak of the Spirit of the Creator is a feminine noun.

Our broken world needs the Protective Cloak of the Madonna.



%d bloggers like this: