Tuesday, December 29, 2009

idly thunk

1. Is there nothing going on in the world today besides exploding underwear?

2. We're leaving town tomorrow. You know where we'll be!

3. More and more people we know are using C-PAP machines. When you get by the annoyance of them, they're pretty good things.

4. Our friend Jim Thill says:
A lot of people who tolerate and even enjoy winter have not learned to accept it. Many northern-climate people look at winter as an inconvenience, and spend that part of the year engaged in futile combat against the forces of nature.
I suppose this is true, and it certainly would apply to me.

Monday, December 28, 2009

about pickles

I see that some politicians are criticizing the President because he didn't come out and make some flamboyant statement about the terror attack on a jetliner on Christmas. (I assume this would be what W would have done.) To those people, including especially Congressman King, I say this: Go suck a pickle!

is he?

I saw Dave Somebodyorother on TV this morning commenting on the AP's selection of Tiger Woods as "Athlete of the Decade" and he was saying this perpetuates two myths: That Tiger is an athlete and that golf is a sport.

BIRCHES welcomes comment on these charges.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

some things on my desktop

Swinging birches.

This is the town of St. Just in Cornwall, England, with a dusting of snow on the rooftops. Love it!

It's Caturday!

A scene from the life of our
friend FELIX where
EVERY CAT is safe and

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Congratulations are in order for all Americans now that the health care reform bill has taken a big leap forward.

It will no doubt be many years before the system is made to work well. For one thing, it will be fought against and confounded by some big interests in the country: Republicans, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and so on.

But we're on the road! Be strong until we all have medicare.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Aussie court fines, bans e-mail spammer

BRISBANE, Australia, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A New Zealand man accused of being an e-mail spam mastermind has been fined and banned from e-mailing for seven years, Australian officials say.

Lance Thomas Atkinson, 26, was sentenced Tuesday by the Federal Court in Brisbane to pay a $185,000 fine and $13,000 in court costs for filling the inboxes of Australian Internet users with e-mails prompting them to click through to Web sites using allegedly false claims to sell prescription drugs, "male enhancement" products and weight-loss pills, The Brisbane Times reported.

The newspaper said Atkinson has already been fined $14 million by U.S. authorities for sending millions of spam e-mails in what they called the world's biggest such operation. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission found Atkinson and his U.S. accomplice allegedly controlled a "botnet" of 35,000 computers, capable of sending 10 billion e-mail messages a day.

Prosecutors told the Brisbane court that Atkinson and 45 commissioned workers sent spam to Australian internet users on 61 days during a 14-month period between October 2006 and December 2007, the Times reported.

A person would have a hard time convincing me that not a single one of the Republicans who has been elected to the U.S. Senate is capable of finding in their souls a "yes" vote on the health plan. Then why didn't one or two vote for it?

Because they are Republicans and that party does not represent any intelligent interest in the United States apart from the greedy. This is a political party that is without any sense of propriety and that is lacking in any sense of the purpose of democracy. The Democrats are better, but not by much. These days, a moral person would not be either.

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
H.L. Mencken

Monday, December 21, 2009

Add to your day -- A Song of Joy

It was a world-wide popular hit in 1970.


Or Julio Iglesias: CLICK

Come sing a song of joy for peace shall come, my brother
Sing, sing a song of joy for Man shall love each other.

That day will dawn just as sure as hearts that are pure,
Are hearts set free. No man must stand alone
With outstretched hand before him.

Reach out and take them in yours with love
That endures forevermore. Then sing a song of joy
For love and understanding.

Come sing a song of joy of freedom tell the story.
Sing, sing a song of joy for Mankind in his glory.
One mighty voice that will bring a sound
That will ring forevermore.
Then sing a song of joy for love and understanding.

Come sing a song of joy of freedom tell the story.
Sing, sing a song of joy for Mankind in his glory.
One mighty voice that will bring a sound
That will ring forevermore.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


ONE of the most interesting thoughts I've heard lately is the idea that scientists from the future have been shutting down the Large Collider in Switzerland to prevent it from doing something irreversibly dangerous. AND that this idea has been floated by perfectly reputable scientists now alive. Isn't that a head clanger of an idea?

Anyone know anything about this?

A train idea for the greater good

Pardon me for repeating myself. I know I have some themes I keep returning to, and here is one of them.

This is Japan's bullet train readying for it's next run. At 180-190 miles-per-hour, it will make the run in short order. Here are some other countries who have invested heavily in bullet trains, and who are finding them very efficacious: France, Germany, Japan, China, Spain.

What if America decided to build such a system, even just coast-to-coast. What if we required that the trains be American-made? What if we required that the electronics to operate the system safely, be American made. What if we required that the materials to rebuild the crossings of rivers and roadways be American manufactured? What if we made the Federal government and the state governments partners with private corporations in the ownership/running of the system?

What a recession buster the whole thing would be. And what a tremendous answer to the collapsing airline industry.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

...and one more friend!

This is Mickey, who has adopted our friend Jerry.

Friends Report on December 18

Obama in wonderland.

I do not believe that the global warming problem will be dealt with constructively. I think it will go forward, the oceans will expand, more deserts will appear, millions will starve. We should admire people like Al Gore who have tried to make it otherwise, but this is not slowing the downward trend. Obama has gone to Denmark, the home of famous fairy tale writers, to explain the problem to the world. But why? They already know but will not resort to any serious action.

If you doubt this, remember some facts. There are several million people living in the area of Mt. Vesuvius. When it one day blows up again, they will want the world's help, even though they know it's going to happen. There are millions living along the San Andreas fault. When the earth splits, they will roll their eyes in wonder and ask for help.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Add to Your Day - go play with the animals

From 1964, some really great rock 'n' roll.


the freedom of speech

Ah-h, Democracy. The freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to petition.

I'm sick of these Republicans who get elected as Democrats. It's long been true that if you want to win election in some places, you have to act like a conservative and pretend to be a Democrat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Books -- update

I have been impressed by what people have recommended this year, and there are now at least three of your recommendations which I'm adding to my book list for the coming weeks. One of them is Russo's That Old Cape Magic. Another is Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which sounds really good. And now, one recommended by Marsha.

MARSHA - My civil war and post-war anthology. I welcome suggestions for additions. What these have in common besides (and far more important than...) the setting, is the human, tender, lyrical telling of extremely compelling stories that happen to involve this particular conflict.

My favorite, of course, is Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.
Besides the fabulous story—made into a wonderful movie--I have a personal connection to this one. Frazier got his PhD here at the University of South Carolina and his thesis professor is a wonderful teacher whom I’ve come to know well and admire.

Second, and not by much, is White Doves at Morning by James Lee Burke. I’ve been a long time fan of Burke’s crime novels featuring his detective Dave Robicheaux. These are often rather mystical, but this novel of survival, love and hate amidst the war and reconstruction is very different and absolutely wonderful. The villains are delightfully colorful, and the battle scenes are unforgettable.

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks is a terrible and satisfying novel based on a real woman and the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, in which 9200 men were killed in a matter of hours. Carrie McGavock’s home was taken over as a Union hospital, and the effect upon her led to a wonderful gift she gave to those who died there. It is a remarkable love story, but also tells about how this nation’s largest private cemetery came to be. I must visit this place.

And now I am reading Howard Bahr’s The Year of Jubilo. I cannot put down this story of post-war Mississippi whose characters are so vivid and idiosyncratic. Like in Cold Mountain this is the story of a man returning from the war hoping to reunite with a former love, but it is really quite different in tone and pacing. Reads like a thriller with interruptions for character and setting development.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today's favorite headline

At first I thought: all of them? Wow!

Women to Row The Atlantic Naked

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It seems to me ...
The comments being made about the 5 Americans now arrested in Pakistan for whatever terrorism charge it is, seem to me to conjure a whole new dimension to the world of hate and violence.

Everyone says that they were not the type of boys to do this. They were wonderful people. They loved America. They were religiously devout. They had no deep-seated dislike for the United States. They had not been under eye of law enforcement as desperadoes. This is not the story we've heard about other "terrorist" prospects. Those other guys had developed a lot of hatred, and they had been talking evil.

One of the very worst aspects of this development with the innocent American image is that it will lend credence to the position of those who maintain that all Muslims are to be suspected and feared, and that the religion itself is the problem.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

new book recommendations

IRENE - I intended to comment - here's my pick:

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Just a lovely story - a great way to spend a day.

WNNCO - If you have interest in science fiction, I would recommend reading the Arthur C. Clark/Stephen Baxter trilogy "A Time Odessy" consisting of "Times Eye, Sunstorm, and Firstborn". Masterful work! Also, if you have any interest in interwoven astophysics with a riviting series, read Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence culminating with "Ring". Just keep your physics texts close.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"the junk science of global warming"

Yep, those are words attributed to Her Royal Fishery.

You have to admire Sarah Palin's advisers. They have no fear whatsoever about sending her into battle without any armour. (She couldn't have even dreamed of some of those words spoken - or written - in her name.) And I bet you also admire the way she takes up the cause no matter how hopeless she looks without that armour.

Taking on Al Gore, without any science or logic at all?

This is the nature of runofthemill fascism. It's not what you know to be true that matters, it's what you will to be true.

Thursday Smile-Maker

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

another lover

This is GILDA GARDENHUMP who is another of the young beauties who are crawling out from behind the woodpile claiming to have been a Tiger mistress. Hey! Where there's money to be made, there's maids eager to be made! And to tell about it. And to cash in on it.

comments overheard

Comment heard from an elderly woman standing with an even more elderly man at the prescription counter at the drugstore (not any of the big chains): "I don't know how we will ever afford it. I can pay for mine, but not his."

Comment from one of the eight local gents sitting at the long table at the local eatery (not one of the chains): "Obama ain't done shit about getting this country going again. Where are the jobs? Just a couple-a firemen and teachers."

Comment seen on Facebook: "[I'm] gutted that the Tigers are going to trade Granderson. Looks like a done deal."


Two of the cartoons sent to me recently that made me smile.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

update on Sparty's question

I see that according to polls discussed on the news today, about 60% of the American people are now supporting Obama's "surge" in Afghanistan, and that Republicans and Democrats are supporting it by about the same percentage.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Recommendations from Birchies

Here are book recommendations I have received so far. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you meant to but didn't get around to it, there's still time. I will post an update if there are more recommendations. If I missed someone's email, forgive me, for it was not intentional.

HOMEFORPAX - Recommends Amy Goodman's new book: Breaking the Sound Barrier. "In place of the usual suspects, the “experts” who, in Goodman’s words, “know so little about so much, explain the world to us, and get it so wrong," this accessible, lively collection allows the voices the corporate media exclude and ignore to be heard loud and clear."


ALICE - These are some of the books I've read lately and appreciated for a variety of reasons. Most of the books I read fall in these categories. Historical, political, social awareness, historical novels.
1. The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, by Jonathan Kozol He has written a numbber of books about eduation over the past 30 years.

2. The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by David K. Shipler He won a Pulitzer Prize for this one.

3. Cane River, by Latita Tademy, The author has produced a novel about four generations of African-American women based on her own genealogy. It's a wonderful and inspiring read about perserverance, pride, family and love. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this rich story.

4. The Hemingses of Monicello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed. A Pulitzer Prize winning, heavily researched and thoughtfully written history involving Thomas Jefferson and his slaves. Powerful.

5. The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family and the Birth of Christianity, by James D. Tabor. Very interesting and highly notated from a wide variety of reputable sources.

6. Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds and Restore America's Original Vision, by Thom Hartmann

7. Theives in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back, by
Jim Hightower

PAM - I have been reading "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists" ... not really the stuff of gifts unless you are giving presents to therapists.

Recently, I read Pat Conroy's last book and while it was fun in ways, I would not recommend it.

PAT C. - I read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and found it very captivating. Some think it is based on George & Laura. Nonetheless, it presents unexpected happenings that influence their lives and those around them. I had a hard time putting it down. Not really political, but it shows how events & wealth influence how nominees are chosen. It could appeal to those interested in politics, but the wife's story is interesting in that she experiences tragedy early in her life, begins a career for herself, and ends up disagreeing with her the husband on some important issues, but making a go of it.

Also, The Last Lion about Teddy Kennedy. I loved the book (believe a person can actually reget, suffer and try to make up for causing a tragedy of his own making), but I would not recommend it for Kennedy haters.

BUD - I am ashamed to admit that I had never read this book before. But I highly recommend UNCLE TOM'S CABIN to all people interested in American history. It is definitely a barn-burner and a book of great historical importance.

I have also read several books lately by Philip Roth, who is just an excellent writer.

BOB T. - read Highest Duty by Capt. Sullenberger. He found it inspiring to read Sullenberg's beliefs in our country and in doing the best job you know how to do. He is well educated guy with much humility, something you don't see tons of today.

SPARTY - Last week I finished What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe, a detailed (800+ pages) history of the social, economic, religious, cultural, technological, and political developments in the U.S. between the end of the War of 1812 and the war with Mexico. Quite critical of the Jacksonian Democrat's defense and sponsorship of the slave-based economic system during the 1820s-1840s. Even if you don't want to commit to reading the entire book the chapters on the annexation of Texas and particularly the war with Mexico will be eye openers to those who think Bush 2nd is the first U.S. president to scheme and lie this country into an unjust war.

Prior to the Howe history I read Karen Armstrong's The Bible - details the creation of the Jewish and Christian canons through their various edits - I highly recommend any of Karen Armstrong's books on religion (A History of God, The Great Transformation, The Case for God) - might be challenging to those who believe there's only one true religion and/or church but they are mind-expanding, maybe even faith expanding

Best novel I've read in the past few months was Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic. In order to thoroughly enjoy Russo's books you probably don't have to be a middle-aged male who's gone through some sort of crisis/awakening, but it helps. My favorite line in the book, "In late middle age everything is inevitable, but you never see it coming."

Of the books I've read these past few months the one I would recommend most enthusiastically is William Greider's Come Home, America, a thought-provoking analysis of the impact of globilization on the U.S. and a prescription for how this country can right itself. Should be required reading for every U.S. voter - maybe completing the book entitles you to a permit-to-vote issued by the public library.

PAT W - I will always recommend, expecially to women, the books by Barbara Kingsolver, the very best of which is Prodigal Summer, but I also recommend her books, Bean Trees, and Pigs in Heaven and you should read those two in that order.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Very nice
concert at SVSU
last night!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Look for comments people have made by clicking on "comments" -- a word found below a posting right after the time of the posting and by the little envelope with an arrow on it.

It's Caturday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sparty's question --- moved forward

SPARTY sent a question by email which I have answered with my opinion, but now I refer it to any of you who wish to answer.
what do you think? Is our involvement in Afghanistan a war of necessity or a war of choice?


I am thinking of starting a new pressure group to try to influence the media. It will be called SOWP, which means SCANDAL ONLY WITH PICTURES. The idea is that the media will be forced to reveal sexual scandals about celebrities only if they have at least still pictures and preferably video. Otherwise, shut up about it!


Two cartoons sent to me lately that made me smile.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If you do not know how to post a comment, or if you are having trouble doing so (which often happens) just send it to me by email, and I will post it.

Thursday Morning Smile Maker

Asleep at the wheel

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

interdickted email

Dear Fox News -

I am a dirty slutty whore and would like to tell you my story. I was involved with a very famous person, and by involved, I want to tell you, I mean INvolved. He was like you know, a big sports MAN, and I really mean BIG. It's not many times that a slutty barmaid gets to screw around with a BIG sports star like this one, and I mean like he could really hit a golf ball, if you catch the meaning.

I will be willing to tell you all the details of this love story - if you will pay me fifty thousand bucks. I really love him with all my parts, I mean heart, and wouldn't do anything to hurt him, ya know, but a bitch gotta make ends meet in more ways than just one, if ya get me. Besides he's just like all the rest of them big time famous guys, he don't know how to treat a lady. Always just looking out for himself.

I bet you know all about trying to make ends meet any way you can, huh?

signed Dolly Parton look alike,
if you catch my meaning

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

first answers to the question: Where's George?

MARSHA - This is like ‘Where is bin Ladn?’, right? I think I heard a rumor that we had him cornered somewhere. --

DASHMANN - Maybe he is off somewhere working up his comedy act !!
P.S. My comment on Bush working on his comedy act is punchless unless you see this video

TRASE - Five years ago, I was teaching a lesson on the three branches of government to my 4th and 5th graders. I asked them the open question of "What does the President do...?" A fourth grader from the back of class crouched down in his chair and in a surprisingly dead-on imitation of George W., cackled and said, "Why... I go out at the ranch, and I ah... heh heh... shoot armadilla...."

I think George is still doing just that... For his own sake, I hope Cheney isn't with him...

Monday, November 30, 2009

A thought in passing

Nothing has made me happier than to see disappear, evidently without any trace - (although I'm sure he's hovering around haunting some milieu where decent people rarely go) - the last man who occupied the White House.

Where do you think he is? There should be some prize for the person who gives the best answer (at least a gold star!)


This is Steve practicing on someone else's kid for what will become a regular pre-occupation for him soon.

Next: changing diapers.
Do you get this hint?

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The cat is very relieved to be home. This 18 hour travel time is a true challenge to her patience. We, on the other hand, just love sitting in a car from Florida to Michigan.

The traffic was heavy. We expected Saturday to be a lighter travel day, but the highways were very busy. Once again, we have traveled to Florida and back and not seen a serious accident. The weather was clear all the way. People were in a hurry, as we were, but we confronted no serious construction zones, and no jams that brought us to a halt.

It's dark and cold here, but what can you expect of a Michigan winter? The main thing is we're home for Christmas.

More later!

(Cincinnati at dusk)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

forwarded by Alice

The Little Boy and the Old Man
(shel silverstein)

Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "it seems
Grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the little old man.

New York trial

The Obama government has decided to try the 9/11 suspects in a civilian court in New York. What this means is that our government has finally started to make a distinction among the people who we've been holding (I believe, illegally) for many years at Guantanamo, and maybe elsewhere. The Bush government played games with the descriptions and definitions of these detentions, admitted to no rights or privileges for any of the people being held, and failed even to bring them to justice in the military tribunals they claimed to have established for the purpose.

Some of those people may be war prisoners, in which case they are entitled to the privileges and protections which war prisoners have under international law; when war no longer wages, they should be freed.

Some of these people may be international war criminals who should be tried in international courts, and who should be charged accordingly and handed over to international authorities.

Some of these may be people our government thinks cannot be proven guilty but who are not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war. These people should be set free where they were seized.

Some of these people such as the 9/11 bunch are accused of committing crimes that occurred on US soil, and who thus should be tried here. They should have the rights and privileges of defendants in American courts.


There are those who feel that these people will turn the trial into a chance to spout their ideological rantings. Who cares? A good judge will see that the process moves according to law and not according to the rules of show business. Some worry that the people will be found innocent. This is a risk that has to be taken in a process of justice. Sometimes, the wrong people are tried. But if the people who bombed New York can slip themselves past a New York jury, I will be amazed.

Some say that trying these people in a New York court will invite more violence against that city. This is a somewhat interesting argument, but this city is a target anyway, any time. It has been the object of many plots, and will continue to be no matter what becomes of these particular defendants.

Try them!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

holy hell!

Thousands of old white people went ga-ga. They crowded into Market Square here in The Villages. They cheered and cheered. Their very white baby boy, Glenn Beck was here. Half of their excitement was in anxious anticipation of his well-advertised promise to reveal "My Plan to Save the Republic!"

And he did! What a plan. In case you missed it, here it is. There will be seven meetings held in the United States in the coming six months where all you people can develop a plan to give to Congress. Is that pure genius or what? To save the Republic, he plans to hold meetings. What a brilliant stroke.

And here are two things he wants these meetings to demand: That Congress put an end to corruption, and that it return to honoring the Constitution.

The old white folks screamed and cheered, according to press reports here. Turns out they really agree with him that corruption is a bad thing, and democratic constitutionalism is a good one. This will distinguish the patriotic Beckwads from all those millions of Americans who, conversely, love corruption in government, and hate our freedoms and our Constitution.

Readers, beware. We are not talking about 1787 here. We are not talking about the Constitutional Convention here. We are not talking about Jefferson and Washington. We're talking more like community militia, and persons of far, far less significant goodwill than, let's say, John Adams. We're talking about the Palinesque dimension of brilliance here, not that of the intellectual calibre of Gouverneur Morris or James Madison.

Watch this operation with amusement, all ye well-meaning and intelligent Americans, for you are going to see a circus!

Friday, November 20, 2009

to Nadia

I have recently heard from a school mate from our high school years. You have written some comments on my blog. I am so glad you thought to do this.

I remember you as being a happy and friendly high school kid, and I hope you are even more happy now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So, answer me this question.

The great debate revolving around the government's decision to try the World Trade Center bombers in New York is completely understandable to me.

First there is that group of mindless fools who will oppose anything the Obama government does. This bunch has several motives for its enduring negativity, as nearly as I can see, and none of those motives is laudable. Some of them are racists, some of them are stupid captives of far right propaganda, some of them real evil people who won't be happy until the government is overthrown and we're living in some sort of semi-fascist hell that pretends to be "American" and "Christian." Some of them seem to be cowards and we cannot follow them. These are people who say the trial will invite violence or will cost us money, etc. I simply cannot comprehend that sort of ostrich-like head hiding.

But, some people are asking perfectly legitimate questions. To me the greatest one is this: Should terrorists who were captured in Pakistan receive the rights and privileges --- and the protections --- of American citizens in an American court of law?

I 'd be very very happy if some of you would take a stab at that question before I DO.


Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kids and old people have this in common: They talk too loud and often shout.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Forwarded by Powerteach.
Many thanks!

random notes

I have been gone a couple of days, so I'm running a little behind on my duties and my emails.

Marsha has gone, and with her the wisp of sadness that accompanied the loss of her team to Florida. S. Carolina put up a valiant fight and might actually have pulled off an upset, but "what-ifs" always accompany the song of the victims.

We golfed today and decided to walk the nine-holes. It was the noon hour when we teed off, and the sun was hot, and I admit by the end of the walk, I was thoroughly bushed. But, on the last green, I made a great putt, which just goes to show you that God favors a fool. We had Dashmann as our third, and we were assigned a fourth who turned out to be a very nice guy from Canton-Plymouth MI area.

As I write just now, Mike Huckaby is in The Villages making his mark on a bunch of books bearing his name as author. I don't like him, just as I don't like any of the far right wing delusion-ados. (Whatever happened to the reasonable and intelligent Republicans?) What a pack of weenies. I have gone past any sense of ordinary rebuttal and am reduced to ad hominem renderings , like "weenie." This I can do knowing full well that most of them can't do any better. On the other hand, I could give a reasonably thoughtful set of commentaries about whats-'er-name from Wasilla. I'll work on that.

I saw my old European History professor on the History Channel last night discussing the attempts on Hitler's life. It was a like a refresher course to me. And I know what HARD! exams he writes. I almost felt like I should be taking notes. I see he is now at North Carolina. Hmmm

Saturday, November 14, 2009

whilin' away some time

Dashmann and Skuzza are staying in The Villages just now, and Marsha has come to visit. Last night we went out to eat at a very good Italian Restaurant and then went to the movies to see The Fourth Kind. It was a fun movie, scary, and very involving. Afterwards, we went to a local joint and heard some good and bad Karaoke, and had a few sips. All-in-all, it was a great evening.

Today is a football Saturday, but really there aren't many games that interest me. The Wolverines won't be on here. No one could ask for a more beautiful day. The day is bright and warm, and the "girls" - as they refer to themselves - have gone "shopping," so I decided to update my blog. Later we will watch South Carolina try to defeat Florida. (As you know, everyone who ain't a Gator hates 'em.) Then we'll probably go swimming --- at least I will.

We are trying very,very hard to enjoy our stay. Does it seem to be working?

Here in Central Florida, there is a report this morning of a gentleman who at the age of 76 keeps a gun. Two fellas burst into his home, beat him into a mess, and then stole his gun. There you go: see, at least no one got shot, huh?

letter from Alice: Afghanistan scandal

"Jeremy Scahill, investigative journalist and author of Blackwater, was on Dylan Ratigan this morning(Friday). The topic was financing of the operations in Afganistan. According to his discoveries, not only is the brother of Karzi the head of the drug cartel in that country and on the CIA payroll, their 2 cousins are intricately involved with our country. The cousins own the trucking coumpany which the U.S. hires to help transport troops from Kabul along the road to the fighting front. The Taliban was blowing up our troops shortly after leaving the base at Kabul, so we pay the trucking company millions of dollars to protect the troops. They in turn pay(bribe) the Taliban millions of dollars not to attack our troops on the road. The Taliban then uses the money to buy war supplies to attack us after we get to the end of the road. In effect, we are finanacing both sides of the war in that country. Google Ratigan's site and Scahill's to check the details. No wonder Obama has rejected the proposed alternatives so far. I think he is doing the right thing to be so deliberative and I strongly hope that he decides to get us out of there as soon as he possibly can. Ratigan said it sounds like mob protection in NY."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday

... our favorite barista.

a devil in Paradise

We are so excited here.

There has been a shooting


This is the center of the earth for peaceful elderly folks who just wouldn't dream of violence, for goodness sake! And now poor Dennis has been shot by his wife. Shot down like a dog in the street -- oops, I mean like a dog in his bathroom. He escaped out through the bathroom window and was helicoptered out to an emergency room. Now he's in surgery.

Well, Sarah Palin would be proud. And Glenn Beck. And that preacher guy, umm-m, oh ya! Mike Huckleby. You see they're all strong advocates of guns lying around in the homes where people (in this case, a pissed off frau) can grab them and shoot their loved ones. And they will all three be here in the next couple of weeks to sign autographs for people who buy their latest books.

A virtual circle-jerk of right wing gun huggers. They should all go visit Dennis in the hospital and Denise in jail. (Yes, her name is Denise and isn't that cute? Dennis and Denise.)

Did I mention that Dennis is (or was?) a retired cop? He knows all about how to protect himself against gunshots. And of course, he has own shootin' irons.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Get Ready --- Get Set - for that workout.

Irene recommends

Thanks to Irene in Australia.
This is what a writer in another country has to say about guns and violence in America.Read the whole article here: ("America's Gun Outrage, 276 people killed or wounded each day")

"Another week of guns and blood across America and before a public and polity so astonishingly impervious to the carnage that it is treated almost as if it were measles."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sent by Jerry

Headline of the Day

Catholics can believe in alien life
My imagination runs wild!

Good riddance!

Many of my friends and I will disagree about this news: Muhammad is dead! Some of you will say that capital punishment is murder, and I won't really argue that it's not, although I can't help feeling that when a democratic society decides to rid itself of a hellhound that is a different case.

So, let me just say I'm glad this bastard is gone from us! And good riddance! It's reported that he had no last words. I don't now about you, but I didn't want to hear any anyway.

some notes on life right now

1. Steve and Brenda have so much great news today that they're just simply blessed. This includes news abut jobs and advancements, but there's more. There is news that's very, very personal to them, and if you want to know, better ask Brenda.

2. We are very happy just now!

3. We and Dashmann have been golfing nine-hole courses and having a very good time doing it. Not nearly as stressful as 18.

4, At "half time" in a polo match, people from the crowd go out on the pitch and stomp down the spots that the hoofs have torn up. This is so that there is less chance of the ball being affected by rough turf. There is a rule on this, however: "If it's steaming, don't stomp it."

5. There is such excitement around here! Uh-h, I point out that this does not excite me, but a lot of people are all ga-ga. Both Sara Palin and Glenn Beck are coming to the Villages for book signings. Yep, this place is just loaded with self-absorbed right wingers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

There are so many ugly stories on the news today, some of them left over from last week. It seems that murder, mayhem, and violence are in good form in America these days. Makes you proud to be a good red-necked, gun-owning patriot doesn't it?


Yesterday we did something new --- well, for us it's new. We drove our golf cart over to the polo grounds and saw a match. We rode our cart up to the side line along with a hundred other people and were immediately told we had to move, that this section of the grass was reserved. I have gotten so old now that I'm not interested in preserving my life against unreasonable people, so I defied the instructions. Besides, they were from a little old lady who had to be ten years older than I am and I felt confident that I could knock her down in a hard fight. Sitting there smugly, feeling bold and valiant, I figured we would eventually be evicted by the minions of the law. But, we weren't. So we watched chukker after chukker from the comfort of our golf cart seats. In the process we made the acquaintanceship of some very nice people from Minnesota.

Sometime, we will go back. One guy fell off his horse and that made the event wholly worthwhile. It was almost as thrilling as watching a figure skater hit the wall.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

random notes

I have noticed quite a lot of elderly joggers around here. Nice that they're keeping it up, but I have yet to see one who seems to be enjoying the enterprise.

There is a large group of senior citizen bicyclists. They travel in a pack -- a fairly large pack. Now this I might do if I lived here regularly, but I don't think I would want to wear all that tight shiny and gaudy clothing.

I have been doing well golfing. For me, "well" is probably "not well" to you. But it's unusual for me to be happy with my golfing.

We miss people --- particularly we miss our children and grandkid, and the activities like Guinness club and coffee club. And the Hanleys .....

It's Caturday

Copy Cat

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker

Pumpkin Eater

The Maine Vote- a couple of thoughts

1. I don't care who marries whom. Truth is, a lot of the marriages seen as life-long contracts are doomed, because people are really not willing to make such a contract, especially after they've done it. I think the same will continue to be true forever.

A marriage has little to do with sex -- especially in an age where sex is not seen as an exclusive domain for those who are pledged. More and more people are not even getting married. I expect this trend to continue and deepen. I believe more and more children will be born to unmarried couples.

2. I don't think most people know what the purpose of marriage is, particularly people who think it ought to be reserved for some folks and not others. What is the purpose?

3. I believe the issue should be "rights" not ceremonies. Some people would like to claim equal rights under the marriage laws. So why are we so reluctant to grant them?

4. I believe that churches should continue to oppose marriages between same sex couples, or anyone else for that matter. Churches have a point of view to represent and I think they should stick with them without reference to logic, or rationality, or magnanimity. They are not friendly to large groups of people, and they should be allowed to separate themselves from whatever portions of society they want. So, if they wish, I think any church should be allowed to deny a religious ceremony to folks of different races.

5. Society should represent the interest of all people, not just the particular viewpoints of those who are sanctimonious. It's the duty of society to make opportunities happen, not make them impossible. That job is performed better by churches some of which even arrogate unto themselves the power to determine who can go home to God.

6. No body else's marriage threatens mine. I can do that all by myself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

fall at Brenda 'n' Steve's house.

Isn't it gorgeous?

why I haven't sent email

I jumped on the golf cart and drove over to the Miona Rec Center to read my email and answer some too, but unfortunately, while this connection lets me read the email, it doesn't let me send any. This is a problem that any of my kids would solve in a twinkle of an eye, I have no doubt, but none of them is here right now. So I'll have to call the computer center and find out what's happening.

When I'm done here, Pat will come over and we're going swimming. It's about 82 and sun, so that's a breeze.

Went golfing with Dashmann yesterday and had a very good time.

The TV in out rental unit leaves something to be desired. It gets only basic set of channels which includes 2 Spanish language networks, four religious channels, two Villages information channels, home shopping, and then the three commercial channels and one PBS. Not CNN or CNBC or anything like a news channel, not even False Net.

But right now, we feel we are in paradise because it's warm and we're in shorts, etc. So who cares abut the TV?

Monday, November 2, 2009

it's warm here!

We are in Florida for awhile, and maybe there will not be as many updates to BIRCHES, but there will be some unless my computer blows up. We don't expect that to happen. Or maybe I will be grabbed and held captive a a sex slave by some frustrated old lady armed with golf cubs and a swimming noodle.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fallen off the wagon again?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A few things

I have seen the bumper-sticker several times now:

"You cannot be both Christian and pro-abortion."

Is this true?

Do you remember when Boy Scouts helped ladies cross the street?

Well, we've come a long way baby. CLICK


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the challenge

As Levi Johnston and his almost mother-in-law Sarah Whatshername continue their spitting contest, Levi now says he will reveal all in Playgirl magazine. I'm hoping Sarah will decide to trump his play by appearing naked in Playboy -- or Newsweek, or any other national mag for that matter. If she really wants to make a splash, there you are!

So, yeah!, I'm cheering them on.

On the town in Webberville

Our Grandson Lemon Joe is spending a couple of days with us. Last night he refused to sleep, so we watched the third period of the Red Wings together as he fussed and resisted, but finally, when the Red Wings won, the kid fell asleep. The timing was perfect, but the hour was late.

We went to Webberville to pick the kid up and while there, we went to the local brewpub for supper. I'm not making judgments about the quality of the quaff, I can leave that to others in the family who know more about beer, but I can say this: If you're looking for a nice meal, keep looking elsewhere. This was some of the worst food I ever have known to be served in a brewpub.

And there was a certain barmaid who flunked waitress school, evidently, but received a job anyway, perhaps in the nature of a mercy hiring. We tipped her generously, but now wonder why.

All of this ordeal could be blamed on Alice. She is the one with all the bad luck, and she claims if we had not taken her along, the food would have been better and the waitress more competent.