2020 Posts


Society Cycle
Serenity Now
Virtual Virality
Afraid? Not My Teacher!
The Silent Eclipse
Transgender Hair
Mid-Summer Yard
Come Back Republicans
Destruction Rolls On
A Year in Hermitage

Society Cycle                                      January 5, 2020

Time and time again over the past 3,000 years, societies have blossomed into physical and mental prosperity, sometimes achieving the title of Golden Age. Including the word “age” provides a clue to the fact that they all came to an end. What goes wrong?

Sometimes envy of neighbors leads to invasion and destruction if they become vulnerable, as in the case of the Roman Empire. More insidious is destruction from within that usually starts with leaders finding themselves better off than the public at large. Wealth breeds greed, conscious or subconscious, that in time transitions to a relatively small select group bleeding off the public wealth. Why doesn’t the majority realize what’s happening and rein it in? They know their personal economy is deteriorating, their standard of living declining.

The exploiters’ method of choice is to create a myth that both hides what’s happening and promises a future salvation. One way is to warp what otherwise might be a useful religion by convincing subjects that the suffering they experience in this life will be rewarded in a fictious next life. We die, our bodies rot or are burned, so there’s no way of proving them wrong. Of course, as years accumulate, many want to believe there’s a thing called a soul that carries their entity on beyond the grave. Fine. But it doesn’t excuse the exploitation of people of all ages. To be fair, not all church leaders are making themselves or their church obscenely rich at the public expense.

The same charity cannot be shown the second approach. It involves creation of a propaganda machine with two main goals: shift the blame for economic woes onto a scapegoat (Jews, Muslims, illegal immigrants, etc.) and convince the general population that better days are coming. Building this two-pronged myth takes a heavily funded media campaign which is usually a drop in the wealthy buckets. (One hundred million dollars is one percent to someone with ten billion.) The campaign also takes a ranting egomaniac set up on a pedestal to churn emotions and bring out our basest animal characteristics (Hitler, Mussolini, Milošević, Trump, etc.).

So what brings these dark eras in turn to an end. War from external forces (Germany, Italy, Japan), revolution (France, Russia, Hungary, America), national break-up (USSR, …America?) or somewhat peaceful political upheaval (India, UK, …America?). This last most desirable alternative can only happen if the public can realistically vote for change. That realism dwindles in the face of overwhelming finances. Fortunately, in the United States there is still reasonable resources on the other side and a media generally covering both sides.

However, it takes more than money to break the myth that clouds so many eyes like cataracts. The lenses must be cleared to let in reality. Continually debunking the pedagogue’s lies, conspiracies and false attacks helps. People who enjoy public respect can help by speaking out. I happen to think a message cloaked in entertaining fiction, whether it be a movie or a novel, can also help. That conviction drove me to speak out through “Eclipse of Our Soul” …. bet you didn’t think this was a commercial😊

Serenity Now                                       March 9, 2020

These immortal words of George’s father in Seinfeld were never more appropriate than now. We are victims not only of a pandemic but also a media induced panic aggravated by inept, confused leadership. (How’s that for political correctness?) Please review this information first disseminated by Japan and more recently picked up by the Stanford Hospital team. It shows how concise, rational information can turn panic into a responsible solution.


  1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold 2. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
  2. This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degrees C. It hates the Sun.
  3. If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne.
  4. If it drops on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours – so if you come into contact with any metal surface – wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap.
  5. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent will kill it.
  6. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice.
  7. Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes, but – a lot can happen during that time – you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on.
  8. You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice.
  9. Can’t emphasis enough – drink plenty of water!


  1. It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat lasting 3/4 days
  2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5/6 days further.
  3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.
  4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like you’re drowning. It’s imperative you then seek immediate attention.

Virtual Virality                                       March 23, 2020

I’m 81 and a little overweight. (MY wife sometimes forgets to include the word “little”.) Nevertheless, these are the attributes coveted by COVID-19 which naturally leads to some concern on my part. Recently, I found myself very short of breath and, not wanting to recognize I’ve been a computer potato for weeks, began to suspect the virus. Two mornings I woke up with a tightness in my chest and took a while to amend that to further down than my poor old lungs could possibly have sagged. Frequently my forehead feels warm but turns out to be normal. All these false signals have brought on the realization that it’s time to be more positive. In fact, it reminds me of the story of the big brave Dutchman. If you’ve heard it, skip ahead.

The Dutchman lived in the early 1800’s, A giant of a man, strong as an ox but a gentle soul. He loved the sea and as he often did, signed on with the crew of a sailing vessel. Their voyage started uneventful, modest winds and decent weather. That ended off the coast of Morocco when a crewman fell from the rigging into the water. Unable to swim and with shark fins not far away, he appeared doomed. The Dutchman leaped into the ocean and reached the man barely ahead of the first shark. He punched it in the nose, grabbed the drowning man and with powerful strokes swam back to the ship.

Crews cheered and the Captain thanked him for saving the man. He simply shrugged and said, “It’s nothing. I’m the big brave Dutchman. That’s what I do.”

The journey continued until one day they found themselves becalmed in a hot, equatorial expanse of glassy sea. For days they sweltered, water supply dwindled, men were fading fast. The First Mate lamented that they would all perish if they didn’t get wind soon. The Dutchman said, “I’ll get us out of this stinking hole.” He climbed into a dinghy and with a rope attached to the ship started to row. Gradually they began to move. He rowed hour after hour until finally they felt a first breeze. When the wind picked up, he climbed back aboard a hero again. Once more, he shrugged it off. “I’m the big brave Dutchman, it’s all in a day’s work.”

After months at sea, they were returning up the coast of France when a violent storm struck suddenly. Sails were torn, rigging snapped, the ship pitched wildly. The Captain shouted, “We need to get the topsails furled or we’ll broach.” Only one man ventured forth. The Dutchman yelled over the howling wind that he would do it. He climbed through shredded rigging to the very top of the mast, furled one sail, then a second, third and fourth. The ship was now safe but still rolled in the heavy sea.

Sizing up his situation, the Dutchman thought the easiest way down would be to dropo into the water and swim back aboard. He would carefully time it for when the mast carried him out over the side. But when he let go, he mistimed it and hit square in the middle of the deck, crashed right on through it. Aghast, crewmembers screamed, “The dutchman’s dead!” as they ran to the hole and peered down. A hole in the lower deck as well revealed the Dutchman spread-eagled in the bilge. He finally opened his eyes and when he saw them all wailing up above, he called out, “Calm down. I’m the big brave Dutchman. I’ve been through hardships before.”

I hear you groaning. Point is, I need to be more like the big brave Dutchman, stop manufacturing imaginary symptoms and descending into the realm of virtual virality.

Afraid? Not My Teacher! April 18, 2020

There’s too much media coverage of COVID-19’s physical toll, too little on its mental toll, particularly on young minds suddenly deprived of classmates and playmates, left wondering why adults wear masks and shun each other. Recognizing this, a friend, Doctor Michael Martin wrote the following words and passed his valuable perspective to his children and grandchildren:

Afraid? Not My Teacher!

In October 1957, when I was in the 8th grade in a small town in CT, the Soviet Union launched a satellite, Sputnik, into earth orbit. In the US it was as if that small spherical object, not much bigger than a couple of basketballs, had cast a dark shadow over the land. People were afraid. My homeroom teacher, Mrs Newbury, was having none of it. She told us with no fear in her voice, “Don’t you worry! Our boys will put up a satellite that will fly higher and last longer.” And in February of the next year, they did!

After 9/11, I remember seeing people on the news, crying and afraid, not knowing what to tell their children. I know what Mrs Newbury would have said-“Don’t you worry, our boys will track down and find those responsible.”  And they did!

There have always been dangers in the world. In Cave Man times there were Saber Tooth Tigers roaming around. Children and their families had to be careful. In the middle ages there were terrible plagues long before there were doctors or hospitals or treatments. In 1918 a particularly virulent form of influenza spread over the entire planet. Again there were no effective treatments. In 1929 a severe economic depression gripped our country and the world. In December 1941 our country was attacked. My father, a college student at the time, along with millions of other young men and women enlisted in the armed forces. Their lives were disrupted in a way they could never have imagined. Many never came home. It took courage and determination. They rose to the occasion. It had to be done.

Now we have been attacked by a tiny invader of a different sort, the corona virus. It has spread across the land casting another dark shadow. This virus is a new one. Doctors have very little experience in how it should be treated. But I know what Mrs Newbury would say-“Don’t you worry, our men and women in science, medicine and research will learn about this new disease and develop a vaccine and treatments.” And they will.

If you are a young person today wondering what to do with your life-here’s your answer. Study hard. Enter fields of science, medicine and research. Plan to serve your country in any one of several different ways. Rise to the occasion. It will take courage and determination. You can be at the forefront of the fight. It will not be easy. Launching the satellite and tracking down the terrorists responsible for 9/11 was not easy. But they got it done.

Our lives have been disrupted in a way we did not expect. Use this time to catch up (remotely) with friends and family. Read, exercise, develop new interests, start home projects, make plans about what you will do when this is over. And remember, life on our planet has always been perilous. Although the virus has spread, most of us will not get sick and most of us who do will not be terribly ill. Sadly though some of us who are sickened will die. It’s scary to think about but there is a difference between being scared, so scared you don’t know what to do or say, and being concerned, cautious and using common sense. Mrs Newbury knew that. Stay home for now, practice social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly. Make plans. Big plans.

And be thankful there aren’t any Saber Tooth Tigers roaming around. That would really be scary.

The Silent Eclipse May 23, 2020

Silence – the author’s worst enemy. Months go by writing, editing, revising, editing, editing, editing until finally there’s no alternative but to release a book. With print-on-demand these days, the word publish no longer is accurate.

People who write for a living invest in marketing help: publicists, blog tours, purchased reviews, book signings, interviews, videos, anything which will grab attention. Even then, with the sea of books available, profitability is as elusive as a polar bear in a snowstorm  You know there might be something big out there but it’s lurking out of sight.

Those of us able to treat creative writing as a hobby tend to shy away from the labor of marketing. Don’t think for a moment that we lack interest in sales. We simply hope the book will sell itself with a gradually widening audience. The reward is more about the pleasure of learning others appreciate your effort than money it brings in. Of course, the money would be welcomed too if it ever showed up.

In November, I released “Eclipse of Our Soul” with hope for an enthusiastic response. It was a growing up novel that transitioned into a heart-wrenching political story. A couple of friends gave positive feedback. Beyond that, there was mostly silence. A hundred free eBook copies given away to Goodread’s readers generated two ratings (both 5 star) and no reviews. Pretty much an author’s nightmare.

What went wrong? The story evolved from an earlier book, “Ickee Mushta” which, while prophetic when released, became obsoleted by events. I was enamored with the challenges facing opposite personalities coming together so rather than make “Eclipse” a sequel, I kept the growing up part in the new novel, somewhat condensed into roughly the first sixteen chapters. Bad idea!

In the cold light of objective reflection, I’ve concluded it simply tires readers before they reach the real story. So, last week a second edition was released with sixteen fewer chapters. The first chapter sets the stage for the plot and away it goes. For those of you who trudged through Part 1 of the first edition, I beg your forgiveness. What remains is a gripping yet heart-warming piece of political fiction to be enjoyed by sane people and cursed by the Trump cult.

Transgender Hair June 18, 2020

Coming out of hibernation prompted this change. Actually, the Before picture represents my best effort at grooming the mop after three months at home. It was tempting to keep it on the pretense it makes me look more like an author. However, children running away screaming at the sight was convincing evidence that its time was up.

Warned the woman who has cut it for over thirty years to bring in a hedge trimmer. She failed to heed the advice and ended up with pain in the wrist of her cutting hand.

Until recently, hair on the left side insisted on displaying an outward flip which may have been a women’s fashion craze thirty years ago but was an irritation now. As the photo shows, it finally reached a length where it could be forced back in. After wading through the hair on top, she said, “You know I never realized it before. Your hair naturally wants to go the other way and would prefer a part on the right side.” Tthere’s a little evidence of that in the After photo, which shows it has the beginning of a rebellion at the tips.

Told her I didn’t want to buck the tradition of men’s hair parting on the left and flowing to the right. We agreed I must have transgender hair and I am in denial.

PS: Someone said this use of “Transgender” mocked the Trans Lives Matter movement. I don’t think it had anything to do with that, however, to be clear, I believe all human lives matter. That’s one reason I detest a leadership failure that causes over a hundred thousand unnecessary deaths.

Mid-Summer Yard August 7, 2020

Time to pan the Pandemic and talk of other things. Mid-summer heat does in many flowers but not all. Our lace-cap hydrangea is in full glory.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1287.jpg

Bee heaven in the hibiscus.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1290.jpg

This little fellow was asleep when the rest of the lilac bloomed.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1288.jpg

A lot of these showed up this year. What are they?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1295.jpg

Our second orchard is off and running.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1293.jpg

With a walnut in the rear.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_1294.jpg

Nothing beats the plant world for calming the soul.

Come Back republicans August 21, 2020

Many of my friends are Republican. I was too in my earlier years (pulled for Goldwater in 1964) and even today respect many of what might be called traditional republican values. In fact, “traditional” is a key word since the GOP platform no longer includes them. It’s become focused on maintaining and even aggravating our economic inequality.

Apart from the adverse effect it has on almost all Americans, this focus has precipitated a dangerous move toward dictatorship (often made less frightening with the name authoritarianism). Rise of the Trump cult has so many parallels to the Nazi rise one cannot deny paths and goals are the same:

  • Create an economy which is hard on the average citizen
  • Build distrust in the existing government
  • Set up a mouthpiece to rant at rallies and generate a cult following
  • Condone the shift of government powers to the ensconced leader
  • Foment hate against minorities and blame the problems on them
  • Set up an effective propaganda machine
  • Undermine judicial and intelligence service opposition
  • Create disturbances to justify domestic troops and militaristic actions
  • Replace elections with conveyance of power

The goal is to seize power over the nation and cement control of the economy for the benefit of a small segment of the population. Sound far-fetched? Couldn’t happen in America.

It is happening in America! The GOP leaders have become today’s Nazi’s.

And as many are beginning to say, the presidential election this November has become a decision of democracy or dictatorship. And it is a time for traditional Republicans to decide if the party they are loyal to is still the party loyal to them. Or is it time to tell the GOP leaders, we don’t want dictatorship but rather a return to traditional republican values and a democracy based on consensus and compromise.

I know this sounds rather radical, but when one is old enough to have witnessed the fallout from World War II and grown up taught about the Nazi rise and fall, it is too obvious to ignore. That motivated me to write a novel, “Eclipse of Our Soul” since I prefer to think the pen is not only mightier than the sword but assault weapons as well.

Unfortunately, I’ve decided to pull it off the market because the few, if any, votes it might influence in this election do not warrant the risk to my family of the kind of violence it describes.

Destruction Rolls On September 27, 2020

There was a time when elected senators were accorded only slightly less respect and honor than governors. Men of strong moral fiber, integrity, and ability to represent the needs of their region and all its citizens thousands of miles from the national capital. They travelled for days, sometimes weeks, to sit in session with colleagues from across the nation to review legislation with an eye to ensuring all were treated fairly.

Judges were elected based on their experience, knowledge of the law and ability to follow it impartially. Only the best rose to the highest court. Judges and senators provided the backbone that put civility into their civilization and the Roman Empire flourished as a result.

It’s logical to ask what could stop such a system. Some historians give credit to nomadic hordes eating away at far-flung empire boundaries, but a more insightful explanation is destruction from within. And nowhere was it more evident than in the senate. Lobbying led to special interest pandering that led to greed. Citizens’ needs were pushed aside to facilitate personal gain. Promises to constituents became empty in the search for the wealth slipped their way from the rich to whom they now swore allegiance. The welfare of the Empire no longer mattered, its defense weakened by neglect and loss of support from a disenfranchised public.

Plato was right in his belief that democracies are destroyed from within, degenerating into authoritarian or dictatorial regimes until revolution reverses the cycle again.

Two thousand years later a new nation was formed, patterned after the glory days of Rome. It was also called a republic, gave the vote to male citizens considered capable to vote responsibly. The capital even copied Roman architecture.  Noble ideals were embedded in its constitution, a constitution which was to be the final authority on how the nation was to be governed. Like Rome, these noble ideals only applied to accepted citizens, not their slaves nor the displaced original inhabitants of their territory.

Despite this imperfection, the nation grew strong and a world war made it a global leader. It became a beacon of freedom for downtrodden people in other countries. It even made some steps toward freedom and equality for the downtrodden within its border. Until the rot that ruined Rome set in and nowhere is it more evident than in the senate. Integrity has fallen victim to greed. Partisan actions are taken with impunity. And it carries over to the judicial branch. No longer can citizens rely on the justice system to enforce the Constitution. No longer can they expect an administration to look out for their welfare. And like Rome, the destruction rolls on.

In a little over a month, the fate of the American Democracy will be decided. Either it will fall entirely or be given a slim opportunity for survival. Slim because the issue is not simply one party versus the other. A complete overhaul of American culture is needed: conciliation rather than partisan politics, human respect for each other in place of racism, universal welfare instead of economic inequality, civil responsibility eradicating lawlessness. A formidable mountain to climb yet clearly preferable to the dark age that lies in the other direction.

A Year in Hermitage December 24, 2020

Hermitage: A place of religious seclusion

Guess that’s not quite the word I looked for, unless the “religious” is removed. Perhaps “A Year of Hermitry” would be better. Spellcheck, my arch enemy says no, nor “hermitary existence”, but it will allow “herniary existence”. Sorry, Spellcheck, I speak not of hernias here. Let’s settle for a year of secular hermitage. Well, ten months at least.

Permit me one small rant before I leave the damn pandemic subject. For those who still say 300,000 Americans did not die from a virus that doesn’t exist, let me claim once more that the world is not flat, and they did not tumble over the edge. What they did do is die unnecessarily. To see why, compare our leadership with that of New Zealand. They have reduced new infections to zero and have suffered a grand total of 26 Covid related deaths. Before the cry of it’s easy on a small island (or two) is raised, their death rate is 5 per million people, America’s is over 770 per million and still climbing! Here endeth the rant.

I feel for people who need social interaction and even more for families with young children. Conversely, I feel lucky to be a closet hermit, content to dwell in my own little world, often with no more than a computer for company. Makes me a poor companion for my wife much of the time but she compensates with careful excursions into the virus infected world. If only everyone exhibited her social responsibility, the world would be normal again by now. Oops, a little more rant slipped out.

In ways it’s been a productive year. A new second orchard now exists. We look forward to a second year of apple production and hopefully the emergence of pears and plums. Our experiment with almonds appears iffy but walnut and hazel nuts are growing well.

On the computer front, it’s been a fruitful year as well. At least in my programming endeavors. Novels are a different story and I almost regret entering the world of political novels. Back in 2015 I published “Ickee Mushta” which essentially foretold what happened in 2016. Unfortunately, events overwhelmed the story rendering it obsolete. In an effort to remain flexible, I tried the Dickens approach of writing a serial novel a few chapters at a time. Some of you followed them, but its popularity paled into insignificance next to Charles’ efforts.

Then, in 2019 I decided to pull Ickee off the market, rob much of its plot and carry the story forward under the title “Eclipse of Our Soul”. Publication resulted in an ominous thud, which appeared to be caused by the number of pages to be read before the real action began. That led to a second edition with sixteen early chapters removed. Not long after publication, I pulled it too off the market, partly because it was too late to influence votes in November and because of the increased risk it placed on my family due to the escalation of “crazies”. Lastly, I recast the book as narrated by the ghost of Anne Frank to emphasize the parallels between today’s GOP and the Weimar Republic. Now I’m more aware of the pitfalls of this approach and am discarding it also. See what I mean about a political novel? Still, there’s one more attempt left in me.

In what little time was left this year, I helped a friend convert the rough draft of a secret book into a more finished product, almost a ghost-writing exercise. In summary, it’s turned out to be a busy year in hermitage. However, I fervently hope this next year is infinitely better for you and indeed for all of us.

%d bloggers like this: