Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl

Some limerick thoughts on the Superbowl.

With pride the fans come to the bowl,
thinking their team will control
the ball on the ground
in the air all around
to the other, the bell will toll.

The bowl is the ultimate game,
Teams getting their fortune and fame.
Bowl forty and three
We’ll wait and will see
Will next year the teams be the same?

The Cardinals from Phoenix do fight
the Steelers from Pittsburgh of might.
The temperatures fine
We’re told at this time
In Florida the clash will excite

Come Monday with hindsight and woes
and healing of scrimmaging blows.
No media hype
An occasional snipe
The losers, their bragging, will stow.

In this life of struggle and fears,
In this time of laughter and tears.
We need this big game,
To help us stay sane
And Florida sends us the cheers.

The season is over and done,
The heart never caring who won,
The game is the thing
By hoping to bring,
A code of competitive fun.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Justice Again

Some thoughts on the call for justice.

Justice is defined in the dictionary as the quality of being just, impartial or fair.

Lately we've seen one side or another in demonstrations or news conferences demanding justice, but the way it's said, and the meaning implied, has nothing to do with being impartial or fair.

It seems individuals or groups in seeking the quality of justice, get caught up in the phrase and use it as a rallying cry to address perceived wrongs.

When some cry "we want justice" their passionate cry seems to be for the opposite. They seek a validation of their viewpoint, their opinions, their expectations and they forget that justice is represented as blind for a reason.

If the noble call for justice only means an intolerant demand for punitive action or reversing a decision no matter what, then it is not justice that one seeks.

It is extreme justice and as Cicero once said, that's extreme injustice.

The positive action of justice is truth and that is discerned by careful analysis, patient communication and a willingness to unconditionally listen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Pets have been around for such a long time the dictionary lists the origin of the word as unknown.

History tells us a working relationship was formed with early man and the wolves that lived around man's camps. Gradually the animals evolved until certain ones became tame and were then regarded as settlement dependents and helped in hunting and guarding duties.

Selective breeding followed domestication and we find in ancient carvings and painting that giant mastiffs were used in lion hunting in Mesopotamia. Egyptian tomb paintings depict greyhound-like dogs and short-legged terriers like those of today.

Even the Bible has two references of keeping pets. In Samuel, Nathan speaks of a ewe lamb brought up in a poor farmers family. In Mark, chapter 7, verse 28, he speaks of a foreign women telling of her little pet dogs that sat under the table.

For years now many people have been trying to convince the medical community that writing a prescription for a companion animal has value.

Many studies have been conducted concluding that pets are beneficial. One researcher determined that pets can help lower a person's blood pressure and improve the chances of survival of heart disease patients. Another report indicated that pets helped significantly with disoriented or withdrawn people in nursing homes or retirement communities.

The goal of those who believe in the pet therapy for some human aliments is to convince doctors to prescribe pets where they can and to get the government to allow pets into nursing homes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Auto Train

This post is a little late today. I'm traveling to attend a seminar at the Coudert Institute in Florida. It is a nice southern journey in the middle of north's winter. I've traveled Amtrak's auto train before and it is an experience of cross generation observation. You start in Lorton, Virginia in the afternoon and end up in Sanford, Florida the next morning.

The little poetic ditty below gives you some idea of what it is like to ride the auto train.

"Quilted coats, shuffled steps and canes
Are what you find on South bound trains.
The halt, the lame, the elderly,
The ill, the weak, and crotchety
Are Florida bound in cubby holes
With all their flaws and hairy moles.
Snowbirds they’re called without respect.
They flock to Florida’s warmth prospect.
If you are younger and can watch
Count the wrinkles, connect the blotch,
And you will see where you may be
Before they read your eulogy."

Monday, January 26, 2009


International trade, loans, monopolies. All the markings of a story in the Wall Street Journal. Except that the story begins in ancient Babylon.

As early as two thousand BC, the priests who oversaw the temples decided to branch out. They became the world's first bankers, accepting deposits, granting credit and allowing no competition. It was a monopoly the priests held for generations.

Banking was carried to the rest of the world, sometimes by the traveling priests, but often by invading armies, but when civilization tumbled into the dark ages, banking fell with it.

History took some time in repeating itself and when it did, again the priests were the first to re-establish a banking system. Ecclesiastical orders found it placed them at the center of political power.

Some 14-hundred years passed before private bankers became the dominant force in finance.

For many of these years, not just anyone could be a bank customer. There were no elaborate credit checks. No Dun and Bradstreet ratings of your worth. Anyone worthy of being a customer was known personally to the people who ran the bank. It was a tight knit, elite, circle. There was no standing in line for the teller. Transactions were by appointment, often conducted in secret with most medieval banks cutting their deals with royalty or with the most powerful land owners.

Controls were tight, circulation restricted and caution was the watchword, for only a select few could be trusted to handle what was becoming one of the great innovations of the time. Paper money.

Today we need prayer and priests.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Through the ages, from the atavistic beginnings of conflicts between tribes, beliefs, cultures, city states, philosophies, and religions there has been the tenure of torture to elicit information or just to aggrandize the base desires of mindless sadists.

Modern societies, cultured administrations, democratic ideologies and spiritual philosophies do not do that for it is a barbaric and criminative action that is no longer tolerated in sophisticated society. Plain and simple: it is wrong.

I applaud the Obama edict that the United States of America will no long tolerate, endorse, encourage or condone torture as a means to glean information.

I repudiate the Bush administration and especially Vice President Cheney for even suggesting that torture is a viable means of maintaining national security. Shame on you Mr. Chaney, you have misused and debased your temporal and temporary power and abrogated your spiritual knowing in your fabrication of the righteousness of torture.

I have hopes that with your departure into oblivion, despite the fact that my tax dollars continue to support your livelihood, that never again will this great country succumb to the dictatorial whims of usurped power.

Live long Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Think hard. Meditate often. Be surprised.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caroline Kennedy

Sometimes pure and rampant speculation is plain fun. So just for fun here is my take on why Caroline Kennedy withdrew from the list of those who’d like to be the junior senator from New York State.

I don’t believe the reasons given by her publicity people that she is concerned about her uncle Ted Kennedy and his battle with brain cancer. I’m sure she’s concerned, but that’s not the reason she is withdrawing from the senatorial list. It is, however, a convenient excuse.

Senator Ted Kennedy’s cancer battle has been ongoing for several months and his collapse at the Senate inaugural luncheon on Tuesday or anywhere for that matter, though not expected, is always probable with brain cancer. I can’t image that niece Caroline does not know that. I think she and the publicists are using Uncle Ted as a cover for the real reason.

In my made up scenario here’s what I think happened. Governor Patterson, as a courtesy, calls Ms. Kennedy to say that he is going to appoint someone else. She decides to save face and tells him she is withdrawing her name from consideration. Patterson agrees to go along with the story and everyone goes on their political way.

Since this is all fantasy, I think Governor Patterson ought to appoint himself to replace Senator Clinton and take his chances in 2010 with getting reelected. I think he’d have a good chance.

He has to run on his own anyway for the governorship in 2010.

I live in New York and he is well respected, but not solidly rooted throughout the state. He was Lt. Governor and was thrust into the job with the resignation of Governor Spitzer over prurient assignations with a high priced hooker.

I think Patterson would have a better shot as Senator in 2010 than to be reelected governor. Appointing himself would certainly get him out of the economic mess New York State is in at the moment.

Remember this is all fantasy and speculation. In truth he’ll probably appoint Kirsten Gillibrand or Andrew Cuomo or someone else. How’s that for specifics? We’ll see how it all works out in a few days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration

Some brief observations about watching the inauguration ceremonies yesterday in Washington, D.C.

First of all I loved the pomp and ceremony, the traditions, the symbolism, the history and the individual performances that enhanced the event. Poetry, prayer, songs and music.

For the most part I thought the networks and the cable channels did a good job of covering the event given the geographic expanse and security limitations.

I do wish Wolf Blitzer of CNN would interrupt less than he does. As a long time anchor of various television events I understand the need for continuity, fill and prattle, but I have long been a proponent of listening to completion the thoughts of another and for the efficacy of natural sound for it often carries a meaning that belies spoken words.

I was disappointed in the people who only wanted to party and yell while the rest of us were trying to hear an answer to a question asked. What is it about cameras that make seemingly sane people jump up and down, wave, and act silly?

I was disappointed in a group of New York City High School students who were asked on CNN what they thought of the event. The answers were ignorant at best and stupid at the worst and I really am trying to be kind. Our nation does need to work on our education system.

I applaud the technology that allowed cameras at pivotal points all over the inaugural confines. Wow, how it has change since my first “watched” inaugural of Dwight Eisenhower. Years later I was a young reporter covering the White House and Capitol Hill during Nixon’s first administration and technology has certainly changed since then.

Above all, I loved the parade, patriotism, pageantry, great orchestration and especially the change of administrations. It was time. And having been at a number of similar big events, you’ve gotta love portapotties.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

Today is one of those times in each of our lives that we will remember with specific detail and visceral emotion. The inauguration of a President is significant enough, but when he or she is a first then it becomes special.

The world is watching, that much we know for technology is sophisticated enough for the inaugural ceremony to be carried into the smallest villages of the world where the democracy practiced in the United States can still be seen as a beacon of hope. It remains a ray of wonder that the liberty and freedom guaranteed by words and belief over two centuries ago is still valid and alive today.

If I were to bring my hopes and wishes for the new President into single words here are several couplets that come to mind.

Courage and compassion. Justice and understanding. Confidence and communication. Laughter and humility. Faith and tolerance. Listening and contemplation and finally joy and integrity.

To govern under a democracy is never easy. Freedom and liberty encourages vocal and peaceful descent. Governing requires fitness, compromise and trust. It requires intellect, grace and the personal sustainment of awe.

It also requires one other very important quality of life and living. Love. It is my prayer that President Obama embraces that divine balance every moment of every day in his service to humankind.

It is also my prayer that each of us find it too as we participate in this profound experiment called life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I put this poem on the blog back in April, but it seems appropriate to post it again, but with some additions and a new ending.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

©1995, 2009 Rolland G. Smith

I had a dream the other night
And Martin Luther King was there.
He spoke in tones befit the wise
And asked me if I’d share,
The news of how his dream came out,
Since he had been away.

I told him times had changed somewhat
But the dream was still a dream
And somewhere in these many years
Was progress, or so it seemed.
Tell me, he said, what has happened,
Since he had been away.

We’ve legislated out the hate,
I said, but laws can’t touch the mind,
If bias reeks within the heart
There cannot be a human - kind.
It’s still not true, he said,
For he had been away.

And then he said, where he is now,
There is no ONE color bright,
Not black or white, yellow or brown.
There is only a loving light.
It’s the truth I lived, and live,
He said, as he went away.

Another dream the other night
Doctor King returned to say
“I felt a joy that overwhelms
And returned without delay.”

“What is it?” says he, within my dream
“I felt a change of mind”
I said, your seeds are flowers now
We’re finally colorblind.

A black man is our President
How’s that for your birthday?
His knowing smile filled my dream
As he went away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

President Millard Fillmore

I’m still writing about past Presidents since this is the time to think about our leaders present and past. The inauguration of Barack Obama takes place this week.

Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States and he has had an image problem for years.

Some scholars say history has given Millard a bum rap. He was dubbed by cartoonists “his accidency” after becoming President upon Zachary Taylor’s 1850 death. Fillmore served two and a half years and when he wanted to run for election on his own, no one would nominate him.

Some historians have called him a do-nothing President, but lets look at the record. In foreign policy he successfully intervened to prevent France from taking over Hawaii in 1851. He supported commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 visit to Japan, which opened Japan to international trade after 100 years of self-imposed isolation.

For several years a couple of professors at New Mexico’s state University have tried to get the governor to declare January 7th, “Millard Fillmore Day. It seems New Mexico owes President Fillmore a debt for having stopped Texas from carrying out a threat to annex part of that state in 1850.

He did a lot of other things too. He was the University of Buffalo’s first chancellor. He was a five-term congressman from that city and helped found a science museum, a WMCA and a hospital.

Historians credit Fillmore with starting the first library in the White House and he did not, as the myth persists, install the first bathtub in the White House. Where did they bathe in those days?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Miracle On The Hudson

Miracles are wonderful things. What happened in New York City yesterday, when a US Airways plane crash-landed in the Hudson River and everyone survived, is a miracle.

According to Philosopher David Hume a miracle is "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent."

In this case it was the interposition of a “visible” agent, the pilot, and I'm sure, the Deity.

I am a private pilot. I have studied aerodynamics and practiced flight emergency procedures. Most of my flight training and experience of several hundred hours of logged flight time took place to and from and in the New York air space system. I have flown the Hudson River air corridor dozens of times. Teterboro, a couple of miles west of the Hudson was my home airport.

The intricacies of a crash landing in water are immense. Everything about the control and configuration of the aircraft has to be perfect. Angle of descent. Flair. Airspeed. Flaps. This time, this day, in New York everything was precise.

Pilot C. B. "Sully" Sullenberger and his flight crew are heroes and what they accomplished is a miracle.

We need miracles these days. We need to talk about them with our children to remind them and even ourselves that miracles can happen and do. We need our heroes too. Heroes are everyday people doing extraordinary things and often times that means giving up their life to save another.

In the act of heroism, as Joseph Campbell might say, the hero sees the other and oneself as the same and interconnected. What happens to the one happens to both in the moment of the experience.

Bravo New York. Bravo NYPD, NYFD, New York Waterways, and all the other agencies that responded with skill and success to save all souls on board.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Feeling Safe in the Cold

It’s morning. Temperature is six degrees with a light snow falling. I have a fire going and feeling safe after a cold winter’s night.

The warmth of a long ago sun spreads into my room as a log fire dissolves its way to ash giving back the heat and light of many seasons' growth. Fluid flames dance in a flickering grace of form and orange light. Heat is the result. Light a soft byproduct.

A few feet away is the cold. It is a stinging cold with only a window glass to hold it back. It’s double glass, a bulwark of silica that another temperature and time turned into a transparent glazing of clarity and protection.

I grew up in old houses with single panes of flawed glass. Frost would decorate the panes into a translucent crystal of art, but not now. Modern houses are too tight for nature’s cryogenic beauty to seep in and paint the panes with a cameo of cold. Too bad! How many kids today will miss the vision of feathered frost on the inside of a windowpane where they can scratch their own design into the thin sheet of ice crystals.

Just beyond my outer pane is an astringent cold that if you stepped outside without protection it would burn with negative degrees, blister the skin, blink the eyes to tears and tighten the inner nose when breath is necessary. It’s an arctic tight. Not a tight of clothes and layers, but a tightness of breath. It’s like an invisible contorting serpent; a tightening Arctic snake that constricts with every breath. Its tightness smothers and suffocates in a vapor of ever constricting cold.

But I’m inside and warm and I feel safe. Proximity to potential danger seems to do that. Other dangers will evoke a similar feeling. High winds, flooding, blizzards, and even summer heat can harm, but if we feel safe, protected while near the danger, then the rest of the feeling and fear basks in the comfort of illusion for safety is only as good as the protection that holds back the danger.

The glass in the window keeps me feeling safe and sustains my sense of comfort. The cold on the other side sets a tension for possible attack, but cannot penetrate the timid barrier of wood and glass. It is the knowing fierceness of potential danger that keeps me in the fort of comfort.

Damn it’s cold outside!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Washington Crossing The Delaware

You know that famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware? It’s inaccurate. He crossed the Delaware, but the painting is of the Rhine River. The painting by 19th century American Painter, German-born Emanuel Leutze was actually painted in Dusseldorf, Germany and the Rhine River was used as a model.

Even allowing for artistic license the painting has its share of errors. The American flag in the painting shows thirteen stars and stripes. George crossed the Delaware the day after Christmas in 1776. The flag design was not adopted until 1777.

Leutze's painting also shows Washington in a rather small boat. Actually Durham boats were used. They were 40 to 60 foot long flat bottom boats used to transport freight on America’s Northeast rivers.

The painting could not show what George did after he cross the river. The enemy was encamped at Trenton. The Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall was snug in his headquarters. Christmas was celebrated with cheer and some card playing.

Colonel Rall told his aides – no interruptions. When a loyalist spy rushed into camp with word that Washington had crossed the Delaware, the aides made him write it down on a piece of paper. A porter brought it to the Colonel. He stuffed it in his pocket and went back to his cards.

Hours later Washington’s forces open fire on the surprised enemy camp. The battle was short. The entire Hessian army encampment surrendered. Colonel Rall was mortally wounded. The note still stuffed in his pocket.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I had pasta and a roll for dinner last night and it was filling and fine. It was a simple meal, but ample and nourishing.

With every bite I thought of those throughout the world who have little or nothing to eat and where starvation is a constant worry. They count the grains of rice for the pot to feed a family and deal with the ache of hunger as the body eats itself in a wrenching dichotomy to stay alive.

My simple meal was to millions of souls around the world, a feast.

I went to the doctor the other day because I had a cold. There too I thought of the ease with which I got an appointment and the pharmacy choices I could go to fill the prescription. There are so many millions in the world who have no access to even simple medical treatments let alone to modern medicines to cure or ease the pain.

To get the same medical expertise, most of the world would have to walk for days or suffer in place.

I have a nice home. Good neighbors. I have heat, electricity and freedom from fear. Yet, I know there are millions who love their families as I do mine, but who have no permanent home without the hostile and real intrusion of fear and war.

With all these realizations, there comes a moment when I must ask the question, “Why me?” “Why do I have so much and so many have so little?”

I don’t know the full answer and I suspect I never will until I get to the other side. I do know that even though there is no complete answer to my question, there are self-realizations that appear when the question is asked and they lead the way, not only to an appreciation of what I do have, but to the responsibilities that go with the abundance.

Giving from substance.

Compassion and aid to those who suffer.

Tolerance of other’s beliefs.

Awareness of need.

There is a poem in my new book, “Stone Wisdom” that makes a point. It’s called:

“Blessings Lost”
© 2008 Rolland G. Smith

What if we named all blessings thought
But lost the ones that we forgot.
Would then we see the list we lost
As precious gifts again besought?

And what if too, we loved each soul
And saw ourselves in them unfold.
Would then indifference change to love?
Would thoughts be guided from above?

Lofty thoughts can oft inspire
To be the peace of soul’s desire.
Thoughts have their strength when seasoned pure
Attached to Source that does allure.

If thanks were said for all we know,
Forgetting naught, would then it show
Abundance is not things, but grace
Of substance shared that all embrace?

We know of those who need much more
And cannot pay for pills and cure.
And must have help with basic need
But some of us embrace a greed.

Not me, you say, and I say too
But of the many, we are few.
And then I looked at what I gave
A shame I’ll hide unto the grave.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter Falls

A lock of nature’s raven hair
Illusion from a flowing falls
Creates a snowy cameo
Long ‘fore a warming spring enthralls.
A moment frozen – wintertime -
And held within a fleeting thought.
When framed by icy rocks and wood
The soul of winter’s stream is caught.

© 2009 Rolland G. Smith

Friday, January 9, 2009

Little Ben

Good Morning and again I am writing about Presidents because this is the season. America gets a new one on the 20th of January. I also chose Benjamin Harrison to research because I used to live and work in Indianapolis.

President Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. He was born in 1833. The folks in Indianapolis, Indiana are proud of little Ben. He was called that because of his short stature. He was 5 foot, six inches tall.

He was a one-term president. He served from 1889 to 1893 and he gets skipped over in the history books.

Actually a lot was accomplished during his administration. The pledge of Allegiance was adopted during his term. Six states, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and North and South Dakota, were admitted to the union when Harrison was president.

Harrison was known as a Civil War hero and has been called the father of the modern navy. The Sherman antitrust act was passed during his tenure and he was a staunch environmentalist. 17 National Parks were created during his four years. Not bad for a little known President.

He was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison and that provided campaign fodder for the Democrats. It must have bothered little Ben for he once said in a speech, “I want it understood that I am the grandson of nobody. I believe that every man should stand on his own merits.”

It is interesting to note that he received 100-thousand fewer popular votes than his opponent Grover Cleveland, but carried the Electoral College 233 to 168. Florida didn’t have chads then. Skulduggery again!

Incidentally, one time, in honor of his birthday sesquicentennial the city of Indianapolis ordered a statue of him sand blasted clean. It was the first cleaning in 75 years.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Swimming In The Buff

I was watching a PBS special recently with President Harry Truman taking the three networks on a tour of the renovated White House in 1952. He stopped at a portrait of John Quincy Adams (on the left) and smiled as he told the story of a woman reporter who wanted an interview with Adams.

Here's the story.

President Adams had a passion of going for a swim before sunrise. The White House didn’t have a swimming pool in the early 1800’s and Adams would rise a couple of hours before dawn and walk to the Potomac river for a quick dip.

Those were the days when Presidents had a lot more freedom. They were not as protected as they are today which is probably the reason Adams would occasionally run into a little trouble.

He liked to swim in the nude.

Enter Anne Royall, a newspaper reporter who had been trying to get an appointment to see the President for some time. When the President’s secretary continued to put her off, M’s Royall decided to try to see him informally. She apparently watched the White House and observed that Mr. Adams went for an early morning swim.

She waited for an opportune morning and hiding near the spot where the President swam, she waited for him to disrobe and dive into the water and then she went a sat on his clothes.

Anne Royall then shouted to President Adams, “I am sitting on your clothes and you don’t get them until I get an interview on the State Bank Question.”

The President reportedly asked her to go behind the bushes while he dressed and then he would give her an interview. She refused and threatened if he tried to get out of the water and get his clothes she would scream and said that she saw three fisherman just around the bend.

She got her interview.

History does not tell us if President Adams continued his daily dips in the buff after that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Press Girls

The inauguration of a new president is coming up so I will intermix a few stories about Presidents, the press and politics for the next couple of weeks.

You wouldn't call them "Press Girls" today, but back in 1933, that's what a group of women reporters were called who covered Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House.

It started out as a project by Mrs. Roosevelt to ensure that women reporters kept their jobs during the depression. In March of 1933 she announced she would hold regular news conferences in the Red Room of the Executive mansion, but only female journalists could attend.

Even though they were called "girls", most of the ladies were beyond their "girlish" years. Maud McDougall had covered William Jennings Bryan and President Kckinley. The New York Times reporter, Winifred Mallon, had covered the Teddy Roosevelt administration some 40-years earlier.

Some male journalists of the time belittled " the girls" as being little more than incense burners, but the ladies got their share of exclusive stories on the administration.

No story was quite as striking as the scandal of the Civil Defense Dancer. It was a stark reminder that no matter how comfortable the relationship between reporter and news maker, a story is a story.

After Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Roosevelt had taken a volunteer job with civil defense and she hired a friend at a salary of 46-hundred dollars a year to teach physical fitness. The Washington Post broke the story, charging that Mrs. Roosevelt's friend was hired to teach dancing in air raid shelters. By the time Congress raised it's collective eyebrows, both the dancer and Mrs. Roosevelt had left their civil defense posts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snow Thoughts

I watched it snow the other day. It was a heavy snowfall with intermixed large and small flakes that drifted, floated and swirled onto the already snow covered ground.

If you look very carefully at the floating snow you can choose one flake, among all the others, and watch it as it settles to the ground. Its individuality seemingly disappearing into sheet of white, but if you were able to take some tweezers and find that same snowflake and pick it up, extract it from the collective white blanket, it would still have its uniqueness, its individuality hopefully unaltered by the impact with the snow.

Snowflakes share only one specific need to sustain their individuality. Cold! Without it, their individuation transforms into a unifying drop of water whose only mission then is to join with others and ascend to the source by ultimately descending to the sea and starting all over again.

We humans also drift into being, but we maintain our individuality despite the climate of life. We do have another thing the snowflake does not have. We have conscious awareness and the sentient gift to make individual choices. We can love. We can hate. We can teach. We can create and we can destroy. Wow! What power and most of us don’t even know we have it.

We humans and the snowflake do have something in common.

In the end we too ascend to the Source and start all over again.

We can find profound introspection in all of nature if we go beyond the obvious. I once wrote poem about the roses unseen within the barren bush.

I saw a rose before its bloom
Within a bush of thorn,
Invisible, yet crimson bright
Hopeful to adorn,
A table vase or lovers heart
With grace upon a morn.

Until red bud unfurls forth
In aromatic rose,
Few will see the flower there
Ready to compose,
A blossomed stem of prickling points
And barbs sharp juxtapose.

But as the warmth of spring resumes
And the cosmic colors flow,
The scarlet of the silent stalk
Begins its sanguine grow,
And dabs the bush of nature with
Red roses in tableau.

Let it snow and then bring on the rebirth of spring.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Some thoughts on Potholes. I hit four or five the other day and they were big.

Did you know there is a National Pothole Day. It's the 20th of March according to an organization called "The Road Information Program" or "TRIP" out of Washington D.C..

TRIP says they view the millions of potholes across the country with seriousness and a symptom of the overall repair and rehabilitation needs of roads and bridges in the USA, but they also suggest motorists have fun with this thawing and freezing malady.

TRIP suggests potholes are the one truly democratic institution left in this country. They say potholes attack with no prejudice to race, creed or social position. They reach out and touch large cars as well as small cars, buses and bikes and swallow the wallets of all motorists.

There is also a Pothole fact sheet available from the Washington organization. For instance, the average size pothole is 16 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep. There are 50.6 million in the road across America usually popping out like pimples in the spring. The average amount of "patch filler" needed to fill a pothole is 110 pounds. It takes 8 to 12 minutes to fill one pothole. And for you trivia fans: How many potholes per miles in the United States. 38.3 according to the pothole fact sheet.

Finally the strangest catches in a pothole. TRIP says in Maine a pothole captured a snowplow. In Kentucky, a garbage truck. In Boston, a mounted policeman and his horse and in Philadelphia, $1.2 million in cash. Have a great Monday.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Traditions

We did it! We said goodbye to the old year and welcomed in the new. We've been celebrating endings and beginnings since ancient times.

The tradition of New Years Eve celebrations also stem from old beliefs and superstitions. Noise making goes back to the ancient custom of using loud noises to drive evil spirits from a house during the times of festive celebration.

Many nationalities and cultures still use noise to celebrate. America has her ratchet rattles and noise makers and fireworks.

Denmark smashes in the New year. People go to friends' houses and throw bits of broken pottery that they have collected throughout the year at the houses. They also bang on the doors to make noise.

The Dutch love to celebrate New Years. It was one of their favorite holidays when they settled New Amsterdam in the mid-17th century. When the English took over the city in 1674 and called it New York, the authorities were going to keep to the British custom at the time which called for celebrating the New Year on the Vernal Equinox, March 25th. The Dutch populace so loved the holiday on January 1st, they convinced the British to move their New Year celebration.

Traditions have to start somewhere. The ball dropping tradition at New York's Times Square began in 1904 when the Times tower was constructed. At the time it was New York City's 2nd tallest building, rising to a height of 375 feet.

Adolph Ochs, the then young publisher of the New York times, moved his paper into the new building on New Year's weekend and decided to celebrate the event with a New Year's eve rooftop fireworks display.

It was spectacular, but it was dangerous. The following year the fireworks were replaced by the descending brightly-lit ball.

A tradition begun.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


And so it is a New Year day one. January 1, 2009.

The celebrations are done. Some folks are not feeling too well, but so be it. A new number now influences our lives and it is a nine.

Oh, how I love "nines!"

Nine has a wonderful magic to it and has always been a prominent number. 9 planets, 9 orders of angles and 9 daughters of Zeus, the Muses. There are the nine earth’s of Milton, nine crosses and nine days of wonder, nine crowns in heraldry and 9 judges on the Supreme Court.

Multiply any number by 9, and the sum of the digits will also come to 9 (7 x 9 = 63; 6 + 3 = 9). Reverse the digits, and the number you get (36) will also be a multiple of 9. Take any number you choose (4,321) and divide it by 9. The remainder you get (1) will be the same as the remainder you get when you add the digits (4 + 3 + 2 + 1) and divide by 9. That is why mathematicians check their calculations by "casting out nines."

9 members on a baseball team that have nine at bats in 9 innings.

Golf has two nines to make an eighteen-hole game. And one and eight is nine.

9 is an endless aid to merchants, who will always charge $9.99 for something.

9 also has its down side. Christ died at the 9th hour. It is the number just before the boxer is counted out; the cat runs out of lives, the lover slams the door.

Macbeth's witches chant, ''Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine/ And thrice again, to make up nine." and then declare "the charm wound up."

The Egyptians were devoted to the Enneads, groups of nine gods. The legends of northern Europe have 9 bards, 9 dragons, and 9 stones in a circle. We all know of Dante's 9 circles of Hell, which were merely the inversion of the 9 circles he associated with Heaven.

In the Middle Ages, 9 was the angelic number. Milton divided his Nativity ode into 3 sections of 9 stanzas each.

In ancient China, there were nine buttons of rank and not too long ago the Emperor would ascend the Altar of Heaven—a perfect circle inside a perfect square and his 9 grades of Mandarins performed a 9-fold bowing before him.

The followers of Jai’Na, a sect of Hindus, believe all objects are classed under nine categories.

On a personal note: My television career began and ended on television stations with the number NINE.

In short, 9 is no 9-day wonder, dressed to the nines, it is, for many, the number of heaven itself, for according to the Pythagorean numbers, man is a full chord, or eight notes, and deity comes next.

And, of course we have Emerson's inscription to nature, "The rounded world is fair to see, Nine times folded in mystery."

In short, I think this will be a very special year.

My thanks to any number of books that provided the "nine" information. Hopefully there were nine of them.

Happy New Year.

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