HATE, ANGER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

The bombast of social media continues. It seems a good time to revisit these thoughts from just a year ago. Are they not still true? Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the article.

Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

A Firestorm of Misinformation, Rich Paschall

There are always items in the news that bring out the social media commentators. There’s the economy, some collusion, and Supreme Court appointments. There are Trade tariffs and Trade Agreements. There is religious freedom and freedom of speech. It is that Freedom of Speech thing that lets the haters and misinformed run rampant on the internet.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission. © 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

In the social media world, it looks like a lot of people have time to create graphics with so-called information and historical quotes (internet memes). Some are very artistically created with nice pictures of a president or other important historical person in the background. If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter enough, you may think some of these historical figures are…

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A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING

A short story about a short message. Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the story.

Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

The Message by Rich Paschall

Roy walked into the restaurant just after noon, about the same time as almost every other Saturday for the past ten years.  He picked up a newspaper from a rack near the door and came inside.  The sign in front of the register said “Please wait to be seated.”

“Oh, you can sit anywhere, hon,” the blonde haired waitress advised.  She was on duty most Saturdays but Roy did not know her name and she did not know his.  Their faces were familiar to one another but they never introduced themselves.

The restaurant was equally the same size to each side of the register.  Roy took the first booth to the right, as was his usual custom. He set his cell phone down on the table and grabbed for a menu.  A bus boy appeared with a glass of water, set it down and hurried…

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THE REST OF THE STORY

Unintended Consequences

As all Information Technology (IT) professionals will tell you, a change in one program may have unintended consequences somewhere else in the system. If you have or had a job that involved working with computers most of the day, you probably saw this happen at your job. All of a sudden something that worked well for you works differently, or perhaps not at all. You can complain to your supervisor, file a work ticket, whine to anyone who will listen, but the darn thing never gets fixed. Or perhaps the fix does not fix it and changes something else.

It is the complex reality of working with computers. After a while, all the programs that were patched together over the years will suffer if there is an attempt to fix or upgrade something. When companies throw up their collective hands and move on to something else, basically a whole new system, it just may mean that they have given up trying to fix things and the results all that patchwork has given them.

If you stumble across an older story or article here that originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com), you may just find the beginning of it with no link to the rest of the story. Removing one thing there had unintended consequences here. We have no IT proessionals on the RJPTALK staff, but we do have a plan.

Work Around

One of the craziest terms I have encountered in my work life is the concept of “work around.” This “plan” may come from a colleague of even your IT guy who will advise you how to defeat the system and “work around” the problem. Often it means you will use the computer program or in-house system in a way that was not intended. You may be told to ignore some of the instructions in your manual in favor of  something else they will tell you to do. No, it is not how your system worked last week, and not what your boss told you to do, but it is what works.

Technology possessing World by Pj93

In a previous job I was asked to do ocean freight rather than just air. I was also advised that the ocean system worked a lot like the air freight system. It didn’t. It turns out there were many “work arounds” in place. Some were not even known to managers. You just did whatever it took to get the job done. After a new air freight system was in place, the large well known logistics company tried to launch an ocean system that worked the same way. It didn’t. When they tried to add on a warehouse inventory system…well, let’s just say life became one big “work around.” Perhaps all life is that way.

So, if you find the beginning of an older story that does not have its link back to SERENDIPITY, just head over to teepee12.com and search for the title. You’ll find it. While you are over there you may just discover that Marilyn Armstrong and her crew of accomplices are adept at working around the roadblocks of life.

AUTUMN LEAVES

While everything here remains mostly green, we have spied a few leaves drifting off the large trees in front and in back of the house. I hate to say it, but soon they will bury the lawn in various colors of Autumn that we will rake up and throw away. Since tomorrow is the first day of Autumn,  we find ourselves on the road to see things FALL.

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football.  I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple of other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also: “What Time Is It?” SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com) September 22, 2019.

THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE

Episode 1: The Campaign, by Arod Serling*

Opening scene:  Rural state rally, small town folks and area farmers in attendance.  A candidate for office is at the podium.  To the left of the stage are two of his aides.

Candidate: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

Cut to Narrator standing at undetermined location, presumably at the rally.

Narrator

Narrator: The man at the podium has recently announced that he is running for the highest office in the land.  The tall gentleman to the left of the stage is Michael who is attempting to control his candidate, a reality TV star.  Next to Michael is a young intern named Billy.  He wants to get some experience in political campaigns.  They all think they will be heading to the nation’s capital when in fact, they are about to enter “The Twilight Zone.”

Fade to opening credits, theme music. The scene will resume at the same rally.

Candidate (speaking on his own popularity): “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Billy (to Michael): Did he just say he could get away with murder?

Michael: All politicians are getting away with murder in one way or another.

Candidate (speaking about opponents): “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

Billy: I am unclear. What is he saying?  The people of Iowa are stupid or the other candidates are speaking crap? (Pause) Both?

Michael:  If you are unclear, so is everyone else.  Don’t worry about it.  We can spin it whatever way we want.

Candidate (speaking on ISIS):  “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”

Billy: What could he know about ISIS that the generals don’t know?

Michael:  Look, you ask too many questions.  Just watch and learn.  It’s all a television show and he’s the star. (pointing to the candidate on stage).

The candidate

The candidate is giving the cheering crowd two thumbs up.  Fade out for a commercial break. “The new Twilight Zone is brought to you by Preparation A, for those nasty flare-ups”

Episode resumes with quick shots of various rallies around the country.

Billy (to Michael in South Carolina):  Did he just give out the real phone number of the opponent?

Michael (laughing):  Yeah, that should generate some press.

Candidate (to crowd trying to eject protester in Missouri): “Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”

Billy: More violence?

Michael: Whatever works!

Candidate (at another rally): “Do I look a president? How handsome am I, right? How handsome?” (Looking smugly at the crowd) “I feel like a supermodel except, like, times 10, OK? It’s true. I’m a supermodel.”

Cut to Billy shaking his head and Michael laughing.

Candidate (in New Hampshire): “That could be a Mexican plane up there. They’re getting ready to attack.”

Billy: That can’t possibly be a Mexican plane and they certainly are not going to attack.

Michael:  The crowd doesn’t know that.  You can say anything, no matter how outrageous, as long as you are willing to stick with your story.

Quick cuts to various rallies.  The candidate is always looking smug and/or giving a thumbs up to the crowd.  The crowds always seem to love whatever he has to say.

Scene: Hotel room at debate site.  Michael and Billy our waiting anxiously for the event to begin.

Michael and Billy

Billy: I don’t have a good feeling about this.  I mean he would not even practice for the debate.  How can we get the message across if he is not prepared on the topics?

Michael:  Don’t worry, if he doesn’t have an answer, he will just change the subject and throw some dirt on an opponent.

Billy:  But some of those things he says are not true.  That will not work in a debate.

Michael:  Of course it will work.  These are not real debates, they are reality TV shows and we have the star.  Just watch.

Cut to the television studio where the debate is underway.

Candidate (replying to a Senator in the debate): “I never attacked him on his looks and believe me, there’s a lot of subject matter there.”

Cut Back at hotel room.

Michael:  See Billy, he did not have to actually answer the Senator.  And take a look at the Senator’s face.  This is hilarious.

Cut to television studio.

Candidate (referring to female primary opponent): “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

Hotel room:


Billy:  Do you think insulting a woman like that is good?  I mean, even if it is an opponent, people might get upset.

Michael:  His fan base will eat this up and who cares what the others think. We are well on our way to success.  A few more debates like this, a few more rallies and he will have the nomination.  From there it is just a few easy steps to victory.  I don’t think there is anyway we can screw this up now.  The fans love us, we are getting a lot of press and the ratings are good.  Best show in town!

Billy looks lost in thought for a moment.  Then finally speaks.

Billy:  I think I should leave the campaign now.  It is not really what I expected.

“You can not leave the campaign now. You know too much…”

Michael (angry): You can not leave the campaign now.  You know too much, and nobody likes it when someone can give away the magician’s tricks.  Our candidate has a way of getting even with people who cross him.  You are in this until the end. I wouldn’t bring this up again if I were you.

Camera settles on Billy’s astonished face as the Narrator speaks over this shot.

Narrator: Billy wanted to learn politics and make his way to the nation’s capital.  Instead, he found a permanent address in The Twilight Zone.

Fade Out.

*Arod Serling is also the Narrator and Executive Producer of this program.

Candidates quotes courtesy of: “The 155 Craziest Things Trump Said This Election,” Politico Magazine, November 05, 2016.

This short story originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).

DIVIDED WE FALL

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, 
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; 
In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, 
For heaven approves of each generous deed.

-John Dickinson, The Liberty Song, 1768

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Throughout the history of this country, the concept that we stand together has been expressed in song, in writing, and at the podium in speech.  It was the rallying cry of the Revolution and the days following 9/11.  It was spoken during the Civil War and the armed conflicts since.  It was the thought of trade unions fighting for better working conditions.  We may never have all stood together, but we were never divided at critical times in history.  Until now, that is.

From the opening of his campaign until the present day, the leader of our country has worked hard to divide Americans with an “Us versus them” attitude.  He speaks it, he tweets it, he lies about it.

In the opening salvo, he started by trying to assert that many of our neighbors who came from other countries were the enemy.  Of Mexico he stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”  You likely know the most egregious things he said about Mexico.  Let’s consider another statement.

Dividing us from other friends, 45 went on to say: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening.”  This was stated despite a strict immigration policy under President Obama.  Ask anyone who entered (or was deported) at that time.

Also at the time of his announcement, China and Japan were particularly criticised, along with the leaders of our own country.  It is not unusual to criticize the other party during a campaign, but consider carefully the deals the country made during the Obama presidency and the comments made by Trump, the candidate.  There is campaign rhetoric, and then there are falsehoods and divisions.  The announcement of candidacy is filled with quotes that are not attributed to specific people and many statistics that raise questions of accuracy.  Did he portray us correctly?

After a campaign of insults and hateful comments, 45 has spent a great deal of time on his twitter account blasting out hateful and divisive comments among people here and abroad.  How do we feel about this?  Early in the year the Quinnipiac University National Poll found that the Tweeter in Chief is dividing the nation.  While polls results show that the majority of Republicans do not feel this way, Americans by 64 to 31 per cent feel that 45 is actually doing more to divide the country.

Worse yet, many are unsure if the man is actually stable. “President Donald Trump can’t seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.  But apparently, some of those voters are willing to stand by him anyway.

He tried to change the narrative on the NFL anthem controversy, perhaps because he could not get an NFL franchise years ago.  The NFL commissioner and the NFL Players Association fired back. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” commissioner, Roger Goodell, said.  NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, indicated that they would not back down.

NFL QB Tom Brady, believed to be a Republican, responded “I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. I just want to support my teammates.”

Last year in September, the New York Times’ Peter Baker provided this news analysis, “Never in modern times has an occupant of the Oval Office seemed to reject so thoroughly the nostrum that a president’s duty is to bring the country together.”  Isn’t it troubling that our leader has so many negative things to say?

Baker also noted, “In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of “Hamilton,” the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” the pope and now professional sports. ”  Is this presidential?

While the tweeter is in a rage, outside forces are also trying to undermine American life.  Fake social media accounts have reportedly planted fake stories and memes meant to drive a wedge between parts of our society.  Apparently it has been working.  If you have been a regular user of facebook or twitter you know exactly what the problem is.  As these fake stories pop up, unwitting supporters retweet, reblog and share these items on their news feed.  Do you think foreign influences are behind this?

isys6621.com

Social media believes we are under cyber attack. Google, the parent of YouTube and other media platforms, deleted Iranian accounts.  Facebook and others have removed Russian accounts.  These accounts were there to influence opinion and perhaps even divide Americans through fake stories.  Was there collusion by 45 and/or his minions to help spread lies posted by Russians?  Time will reveal the answer.

With full-blown propaganda wars in play, some started by and perpetuated by our leader, our enemies must be rejoicing.  They see the unraveling of the American fabric, aided by our own leader, allowing them to advance to a stronger position in the world.  If they can divide us and turn American against American, with Trump’s help, then our foes will watch as we stumble and fall in the eyes of the world.

Sources: “The Liberty Song,”  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Liberty_Song
“History of the Motto,” Smithsonian Museum of American History 
Here’s Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Speech,” Time, June 16, 2015
Quinnipiac University National Poll, January 17, 2018
“Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump’s ‘divisive comments’,” NBCSPORTS.COM, September, 23, 2017
“Tom Brady: I Disagree With Trump’s ‘Divisive’ Comments,” thedailybeast.com
“A Divider, Not a Uniter, Trump Widens the Breach,” The New York Times, September 24, 2017
“Not just Russians: Google follows Facebook to remove
Iranian accounts,” Financial Times, http://www.ft.com
“President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2018

Click on the source links above for further information on the above statements.

The article above originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com) last year at this time. It does not seem that things have changed.

WHO DECIDED THAT?

The House Rules, by Rich Paschall

A place for everything and everything in its place.  Perhaps you have heard this old proverb or words of advice.  It was often handed out as instructions for life, usually by parents, methinks.  In the 18th century, it may have been a popular topic of preachers and local leaders.  That was an era when you were also told that cleanliness was “next to godliness.”  

The idea of cleanliness may have come out of a 1778 sermon by John Wesley.  If cleanliness will get me next to God, I am all for it.  If I have to be orderly too, this will take a good deal of work.  I wish to be neat, clean and orderly, but I am still looking for a large chunk of time to work on that.  I have been looking for that for years, in fact.

I thought of “house rules” recently while eating at the kitchen table with my young South American roommate.  Yes, he is back for more Culture Shock, but that is another story for another time.  We were feasting on one of his favorite items, chicken wings, and he was putting the bones on a small saucer.

In my head, I could hear my mother scold him, “That’s not for chicken wings, that’s for coffee cups.”  At that, she would have grabbed the saucer and replaced it with a small plate of about the same size.  “What’s the difference?” I wonder now.  Either way, we are going to wash the small plate when we are done.  If you come for coffee at my house, you will never know if that saucer once held spilled coffee (or covfefe) or chicken wing bones, as long as it is clean.

Neat dishes

That particular saucer was from a set of china my mother had for special occasions.  By the way, it was from England, not China.  Anyway, as God is my witness, I do not recall EVER eating off that set until she was gone and I was left with it and a lot of knickknacks I don’t need.  When we were younger, she had another nice set for dinner.  We also had plastic plates or TV dinners in aluminum trays.

As for the knickknacks, two might belong on top of the large stereo, another two in the dining room and one on the dresser.  Random shelves were usually populated with random knickknacks.  If one was out-of-place, there could be hell to pay, as the saying goes.  My mother and my grandmother knew exactly where these items must stand. 

There could be no variations.  It was as if the locations were handed down by God and no other place would do.  Worse yet, if something broke, we would hear about it for at least a year, maybe longer, depending on its worth and sentimental value.

Utensils

I hated to touch these things, particularly in my grandmother’s apartment.  She was a stern old woman who rarely smiled, and she could let you know her displeasure at something being out-of-place with a mean look and a few terse words.  My mother could hand out the same look, but we were lucky if we only got a few words as well.  Silence was not her style.

“Why are those bells in that order?  That is not the correct order! Fix it.”

My humble reply might be, “But I thought that was the order.  I put them right back in place.”  No pleading innocent would change the fact that something was amiss.

Roomie has asked me a number of times if he could put things in a closet.  Apparently, my clutter of coffee table books and table games looks out-of-place to him (not to me) and I should not have this stuff lying around.  I usually give in to these requests because I made the rule where it belongs and it is not important enough to me that it stays there.  My books on baseball, theater, and The Doors (look them up, millennials) have been banished to darker places.

I do not do the dishes often as roomie thinks he is better at it. When they are dry, I might ask why he did not put everything away.  His usual answer is that he does not know where everything belongs.  I tell him to put it somewhere, I will find it or ask if I need it.  Would that work at your house?

You probably have several drawers in the kitchen. Is each designated for certain items? We have one for silverware, one for other kitchen gadgets and larger items (rolling-pin to chase roomie around the house like a cartoon), and one “junk drawer.” Everyone has one of these.  It is for the items not designated for somewhere else. This could be batteries, a tape measure, random tools, a flashlight, scissors, tape, matches, etc. Junk drawer items should be in the junk drawer!

It would be possible to go on about the house rules, particularly the strict ones from my mother or grandmother, but you get the point by now, or you are a hopeless case like I am.  I could not understand why my grandmother would have a certain doily to go under a lamp, and another to go under a Hummel.  (OK, go look up doily and Hummel. We’ll wait).  These doilies were not interchangeable.

Unlike the previous generations, I can not stress out about silly house rules that I made up in the first place.  With the return of roomie, even if for a brief period, there is no reason not to alter my life so we both feel comfortable.  Everything may have a place in our home, but that place can be changed tomorrow and that is OK with me.

This article originally apppeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com)

See also: “CULTURE SHOCK, Travelling to America”

THE LONG ROAD

Recovery, by Rich Paschall

Bill was to report to County Hospital at 10 AM so he had to hustle through his morning routine, if you could call it that.  He slept until the sun woke him up, so he barely had an hour to wash his face, shave, get dressed, make coffee and leave the house.  In his usual haphazard fashion, Bill accomplished his tasks on time.

From the kitchen window he spied clouds that might roll in from the west, but nothing could erase the shine from this day. A goal had been met and Bill would have the honor of walking the winner across the finish line.  But despite his bright attitude, Bill grabbed for the large golf umbrella on the way out the door.  No, Bill did not play golf.  He just never knew when there might be a need for such a large umbrella.

Clouds rolling in

Everyone seemed to know Bill when he arrived at the hospital.  He had been making regular visits there for months, and chatting up the nurses and interns along the way.  Now he only had time to smile and wave as he made his way to the fifth floor.

In room 502 a nurse was assisting the patient in getting ready to leave the rehabilitation floor to head home.  Slowly he dressed, needing some help from others as he went.  When he was all set, the nurse helped him to stand, and after a minute on his feet, to sit in the wheelchair.  His personal items were stuffed into two plastic bags marked “Patient Belongings” and a small plastic tub, which was used a few times for washing up, was filled with a small half used tube of toothpaste, a cheap toothbrush, a small unopened shampoo bottle, a half bottle of mouthwash and some hand lotion.

The patient, a retired Industrial Planner from the Midwest, had arrived rather unceremoniously  three months earlier.  Paramedics brought him in after collecting him from the floor of his screened in patio.  A neighbor had spotted him and another neighbor arrived with his first name.  A medical investigator actually discovered his last name by visiting the home where he was found and looking on the mailbox.

Now the entire staff on the fifth floor of County Hospital knew Harold.  Although he said very little due to his condition, nurses and therapists liked to stop in to have a little chat.  For the first month, Harold could say nothing in return.  As time progressed, he began to react more to the comments with a nod, a smile, or even a word or two.

He had spent the first week at County down stairs in ICU.  For the second week he did little but lay in bed in 502.  Sometimes someone would turn on the television, but it was doubtful Harold was aware of it most of the time.  After that, the plan was put in motion.  It was not the plan of the supreme Planner, but one on which the rest of his life depended.

It took many helpers to carry out the plan for Harold.  A physical therapist was brought in to get Harold back into motion.  He worked his arms and legs and soon began to prompt the patient on which action to make.  When he was quite ready, the therapist would take him to the activity room where Harold would sit and roll a large ball across the room to the therapist who would roll it back.  After that there was standing and walking.  By the third month, Harold moved to the stairs.  It was a narrow set of three with railings on both sides to grab.  He went up to the top, then down the other side.

As movement improved, Harold was taken to a room set up like a kitchen.  There he would practice opening jars and bottles and sometimes even cans.  It was a struggle.  In the third month he would prepare his own lunch.  It was soft foods which he sometimes could not eat.

From week three a therapist came to teach swallowing.  Weeks of exercises lead to attempt at swallowing thick liquids.  Water and coffee were no good unless thickener was added.  Harold looked at the therapist with a bit of disdain every time she poured thickener into a good cup of coffee.  In truth, he could barely swallow the liquids when his time at County was up.

Another therapist worked on speech.  Harold found it strange that someone must teach him how to shape his mouth and exercise his throat for sounds in order to say words again.  It was not perfect after three months, but at least he could speak and be understood.

Bill arrived in 502 with all of the enthusiasm of a relative welcoming someone back from the dead.  His smile was even larger than the patient’s, who still was working on his facial muscles and reactions.

The long road home

“Ready to break out of here?” Bill said with a laugh.

Harold nodded slowly.  He actually was not sure he was ready, but he was certainly glad to be going home.

“OK then, I guess we will just roll you out of here, since they will not allow you to race through the halls,” Bill blurted out, amused with himself.

A member of the hospital staff rolled the patient to the front door and Bill pulled his car right up to the front.  They both had to help Harold get into the car, as his range of motion was limited.

The hospital worker handed into Harold a cane, the kind with four feet on the bottom.  “I guess you will be needing this for a while.”  With that, the two retirees drove away.

Leaving the hospital was not the end of the journey for Harold.  It only took him part way down the long road.

This short story originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).

 

SINGING IN THE RAIN

My Top 10 “Rain Songs,” by Rich Paschall

Summer rain may be tapping at your window and that means it is time for some rain music.  Before you can step out of a rainbow or sail into a sunset, we have your songs for a Summer Rain.

Every time I consider a Top 10 list of songs, I think I will never actually come up with ten.  The fact is, I always pass 10 and must consider which ones to toss.  Remember, my rain-soaked friends, this is my top 10.  Some make the list only because I heard them thousands of times as I grew up.  They seem to have been woven into my life, and have been there now for decades.  I do have one of recent vintage to toss on the list. I think you will like it.

I did notice there are a lot songs that are highly regarded for this topic (yes, other people make lists), but I could not bring myself to add them.  One is the horribly overblown version of November Rain by Guns and Roses.  The over-long video with the orchestra and strings is a self-indulgent piece of … (I digress), but it nevertheless makes the top of some rainy lists.  Guitarist Slash said in an interview a few years ago that he has no idea what the 1992 video for the song is about.  Yeah, it makes no sense to him either.

Without further a do, or is it ado, or a dew?  Anyway it is not just dew, it is rain and here they are:

10. I Wish it Would Rain, The Temptations.  This was released as a single in December 1967 and featured on the 1968 album, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain.
9. Fire and Rain, James Taylor. Released in 1970, Taylor has since given various explanations of the lyrics.
8. Here Comes the Rain Again, Eurythmics.  Released in 1984 it climbed to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
7. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Yes, it is pop fluff. I like it anyway.
6. Rainy Night in Georgia, Brook Benton. There are a lot of versions, Benton’s is the best.

There are a number of fan videos of Hunter Hayes performing Rainy Season, but nothing official.  Since I have not found a good one, I will give you this audio version from the Encore album.

5.  Rainy Season, Hunter Hayes

Neil Sedaka had a string of hits that go well back into the 1960’s.  His early rock songs made him a star.  In 1974 he composed Laughter in the Rain with lyrics by Phil Cody.  It was a come back for Sedaka and the song made number 1 by February of 1975.  Forty years later, at the age of 76, he gave the following performance.  Yes, I can find earlier versions where his singing is a little better, but I just love it when the old guys can still deliver the goods.

4. Laughter in the Rain, Neil Sedaka

There are a LOT of versions of “Come Rain or Come Shine.”  The Ray Charles version is particularly good, and I highly recommend it (click HERE).  My addition to the list may surprise you.  Jerry Lewis was not known as a singer and yet, he had a successful album after the breakup of the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Jerry was eager to prove he had more talent than just as a slapstick comedian.  My mother owned the 45, or was it a 78 rpm, recording and we played it ad nauseam.  The A side was Rock a Bye Your Baby and certainly got a lot of radio and juke box play, but the B side was well-regarded also. There is a You Tube video of Lewis performing the song at one of the 1990s telethons.  I decided to just go with the actual recording he made famous.

3. Come Rain or Come Shine, Jerry Lewis (Jerry Lewis Just Sings)

Whenever I hear this hit song, I think of Paul Newman riding a bicycle in the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song was written and produced by the song writing team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It was offered to others, but the B.J. Thomas version is the only one that matters.  It was the first number 1 hit song of the 1970s.  On the version recorded for the film, Thomas was recovering from laryngitis.  It is why that version does not sound the same as the hit record.

2. Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head, B.J. Thomas

Seriously, what do you think of when you think about rain songs? Purple Rain? Have You Ever Seen Rain? Who’ll Stop the Rain? What one song immediately comes to mind? All fans of movie musicals will think of my number one. Is there any other?

The 1952 film, Singing in the Rain, got its title tune from a 1929 (or earlier) song that appeared in 1929’s The Hollywood Music Box Revue.  It was recorded a number of times before it was recycled to great success as the centerpiece of the classic movie.  Gene Kelly directed and starred in the film, recording one of the most famous dance sequences ever shot.  The remarkable part is that Kelly was ill and running a high fever at the time of the performance.

1. Singing in the Rain, Gene Kelly

Click on any title to play the You Tube video. or play the entire list by clicking HERE.

This post originally appeared on SERENDIPITY here.

EXTRA TOPICAL

What About Obama?  Huh? ** by Rich Paschall

You may have heard of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, aka the Great Debates of 1858.  Yes, this is history and there may be a quiz at the end so pay attention.

Abraham Lincoln and the incumbent Senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, held a series of debates around the state trying to sway voters on the important issues of the day.  Each hoped their party would control the state legislature, as US Senators were chosen by the legislature, not by popular vote.  Lincoln was well-received at the debates, but Douglas was elected Senator.

We know how it turned out for Lincoln two years later.

Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A . Douglas

Now Lincoln-Douglas debates are mostly a high school competition.  They are “values” debates where students often argue the greater good.

“Solvency” is not an issue.  A debater does not have to know how to implement a solution, it just should be better for society.  Of course, he/she will attempt to bring into evidence material from authoritative sources to bolster his/her position.

One of the suggested topics for this past year was Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.  There is no need to say how this should be applied, but that there are situations when it should or could be.  Historical examples would provide support.  Law and order arguments may be common on the negative.

These debates, like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, are one-on-one.  The first speaker has a set time. The second speaker a slightly longer period, then the first speaker gets a rebuttal.  Total speaking times end up the same.  The first speaker may have a plan. The second speaker may have a counter-plan or could argue that no plan is reasonable under the resolution.

Shouting, name calling, unsupported positions all result in a ballot for the opposition by the judge. Contestants must research, write, think, and propose.  Obviously, acting like modern-day politicians would not produce a winner.

So-called debate

Two man team debate, also known as Policy Debate, will propose a resolution where the tactic not only includes interpreting the resolution but also implementing a solution.  Some debaters may have so many points to make that they speak quickly.  The judge will usually take notes to be sure that the speakers arguments flow logically from point-to-point.  Both speakers on each side of the debate topic make a presentation, both are cross-examined.  Then each speaks in rebuttal.  In many leagues, constructives are 8 -minutes, cross-examinations are 3-minutes, and rebuttals are 5-minutes long.

You’d better come prepared!

A topic for last season’s two-man debate was Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States

The topics for the debate season are often timely and include something prominently in the news.

Debaters must research both sides of the issue as they will be called upon to be on the affirmative or negative, depending on the debate or round within a debate.  In mid-summer, debaters are already starting to study the issues and gather evidence pro and con.  There will be no flippant remarks, insults of opponents, or made up evidence.  General and stereotypical comments mean nothing without support.  Judges will dismiss these comments. and opponents are wise to challenge them.

Because there are obvious “stock issues” implied with any current events topic, it is incumbent upon the debaters to deal with these intelligently.  Bombast and supposition will not do.  Instead, they must deal with the significance of the issue, solvency of the plan they present, the harms of the status quo or the affirmative plan, and the advantages of one side along with disadvantages of the other.

A key part of any debate is “Topicality.” With time to fill in rebuttals and possibly cross examinations too, it becomes important to stay on topic.  With an audience of debaters and judges taking notes, you can not stray into areas that are “Extra Topical.”  There are no random viewers waiting for a debater to pull out stock arguments on other topics or to launch into inane attacks on the opponent.  It’s just critical thinkers judging the merits of the debate.

Why do we bring you this small lesson in the fine art of debate? Perhaps you have noticed that debate is a lost art in the political arena, television news shows, and especially social media.  In the last election, you saw one party presenting something other than primary debates.  Even as an entertainment show, it was generally lacking in substance.  The other side had two candidates who actually seemed to study the topics, but they also found time to present “extra-topical” discussion points.

The presidential “debates” that followed frequently strayed off topic.  One candidate spent time talking about other administrations rather than what he would do as president.  The attempt to belittle your opponent through insults to family and associates may influence some viewers, but it would not work well with debate judges.

On my Facebook news feed, I see “discussions” of a social or political nature often degenerate into a series of personal attacks and Extra-Topical points.  One friend often posts news articles on current social issues.  A person I am acquainted with will usually make a comment on sanctuary cities.

If I point out the topic has nothing to do with these cities, he tells me to wake up!  For him, that is the only topic which really matters.

Another friend likes to engage me in a debate.  I try not to fall for it anymore.  If he says something about 45, I might respond (on topic), “As a former military man, how do you feel about Trump sharing military secrets with the North Koreans or Russians?”

The response is likely to be “What about Obama?  Huh?  You never said anything against him when he was president.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“You weren’t listening.”

“Well, what about Obama? Huh?”

There is no staying on topic sometimes.  It is particularly frustrating if you are a debate coach or judge.

** Originally posted on SERENDIPITY