Saturday, December 20, 2014

No Dystopian Present Thirty Years Past 1984

Our first-born, Christmas 1984
Scanning family photos to put them on the OneDrive (I liked "SkyDrive" better), I just finished 1984. While I know that dystopian novels and movies are more a commentary on the current day rather than predictions of the future, our 1984 was really nice.

We ended up living in three different places that year as I had seen a guy waving a handgun in the parking lot of our apartment complex. We were in a suburb of Baltimore transitioning from a Jewish to an African-American neighborhood. We shopped at Shapiro's and were in a distinct minority in our apartment complex that was mostly African-American. We got along great with our neighbors, but I didn't like the handgun.

We spent that summer renting the upstairs of a beautiful ancient house on Old Court Road, out in the woods, with an address of Granite, Maryland - named for an abandoned quarry. The owner was one of my wife's school-teacher friends who spent most of the summer away except for the few weekends he spent at home. When he wasn't home, we had the use of the whole house and when he was home, we pretty much stayed upstairs and even left when he had his parties as we had inadvertently come across his cannabis supply. We didn't turn him in. We didn't with the guy and the handgun either.
M's place in Granite, Maryland on Old Court Road

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

¡Viva Cuba!

Last night, my little play on The Old Man and the Sea turned out to be so prescient! I had no idea the President would announce the first steps to normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba today. It's long overdue. Our little Western Hemisphere containment theory hasn't worked all that well, so let's open it up and let in the bright sun.

Cuba still has to reform and become democratic. That works best with international trade. My Brazilians friends, many of them conservatives, may challenge me on this but Presidente Dilma was pretty smart to get Brazil well situated with a new international port established in Cuba. It would be good for the US to get in on some of that economic action and anything at all is bound to help Cuba modernize and democratize (although I'm not sure free-market, capitalist swine have done so well with that in Russia. Just sayin'.)

Cuba and Me

Young Boy of the Sea

My Mom and I, Cruising the San Juan Islands, Washington, about 1964
Another strong memory resurfaced going through old photos to scan. They let me sit out there on the bow as long as I had that orange life-preserver. I notice Mom close by but I could look out ahead seeing just water and I stayed the longest time. I can feel the rare warm sun, see the bright flashes on the water, and could be there still if life hadn't intervened.

There were some great opportunities we had with my Dad's work with the Boy Scouts. These were actual Sea Scouts and my little brother and I were treated like royalty, or at least mascots, as guests on their ship (fairly large cabin cruiser). I seem to recall that we were at Friday Harbor for the 4th of July. I'll have to check that with my Dad. And I have the vaguest memory of a campfire while watching a satellite go by overhead when it was still a big deal. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Making Utah Connections - Thomas Evans Giles (1881-1959)

So, I was up in the music building at the University of Utah for my son's senior recital (which was very good, by the way), and standing outside the room was a portrait. Noting the name I said, "I know that guy's grandpa!"

That was a bit presumptuous on my part, so I did a quick check on Family Search - Family Tree. And . . . Yep! I was right.

Thomas Evans Giles was the son of  Henry Evans and Catherine Hughes Giles. Catherine was born in Wales in 1861. Henry, born 1859 in Utah, was the son of Thomas Davis and Hannah Evans Giles. Thomas, the grandfather, was born 1820 in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, just over the Blorenge from where my ancestors lived in Llanfoist.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

And Now, the Senate Show

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, appropriately on the left. And Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who really should be farther right, right off the page
Still Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, has not got the Cromnibus passed yet. The House passed it and now it's t It's the Senate's turn. It's still a bit mired in procedural ploys so Reid is now trying to get as many cloture votes (requiring 60 to stop action) as possible to move forward with his still democratic majority for confirmation of President Obama's nominees to staff vacant political positions in this administration. The big show is at 1 a.m. tonight (technically tomorrow in DC time, and 11 p.m. here in Mountain) when he will call for a vote on Cromnibus. There are two obstacles in the way pictured above.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boehner-Obama Budgeting - Not Funding Non-Action

The President and John Boehner accomplished a sort of Holiday Miracle by not shutting down the government. The managed to get a year-long spending bill approved in the House. Called the "Cromnibus" as in "CR" for Continuing Resolution, and "Omnibus" for a bill of multiple agency appropriations, the Republicans put enough "crappy" stuff in to make that the "CR" part. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Trust John McCain on Torture

He knows.

This is posted in the best effort to learn from the past. I'm not sure we have, so we need these reminders. Fortunately, John McCain, victim of North Vietnamese torture, is still in the Senate and can rebut most of those in his Republican Party who try to excuse or justify the use of torture by the United States. (OK, if you're still unsure whether "water-boarding = torture" I hope you can at least admit that anal forced-feeding is.)