Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is it something in the water?

Tom Head is a county judge in Lubbock, Texas.  One might assume that in order to be a judge he must be intelligent, unbiased and fair.  Apparently these characteristics are not required in Lubbock.

Judge Head has announced that, if President Obama is  re-elected that the U.S. will be plunged into another civil war.  The man is convinced that the President is about to sign away American sovereignty to the United Nations.  [Huh?]

He's envisioning a second American revolution although he refers to it as another civil war.  He's preparing for when the U.N. blue helmets invade.  He also claims that he has recruited the local sheriff to back him up when he takes up arms to fight against such a catastrophe.

I find it fascinating that a man in his position could come up with such a hypothesis.  Any American fifth-grader knows that there are three distinct branches in our government, one of which is the legislative branch.  None can unilaterally decide on anything big or small without input from the other two.

Considering that so many of the current members of the United States Congress seem hell-bent on preventing President Obama from accomplishing anything at all [regardless of the consequences for the American people] Tom Head should be able to see that his fears are completely unfounded.  In fact, he needs to step down from the bench and go quietly with the men in white coats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bug Juice

I know -- it sounds disgusting -- like what can happen when one rides a motorcycle without a helmet, while grinning. Not lovely.

Nevertheless, bug juice was what my grandmother called a concoction she kept in her frig at all times. Having been born in 1893, she was raised to waste nothing. She wasn’t a terribly enthusiastic or creative cook, but she did her best.

Getting back to the aforementioned beverage -- essentially, Grammy made a pot of tea, chilled it in a covered pitcher then added whatever fruit juice was on hand. Sometimes it would be the syrup from a can of peaches and/or fruit cocktail. Other times she might add leftover lemonade or orange juice not enough to make a proper serving.

As did and still do many in the Midwest, Grammy favored a Jell-o side dish for lunch or supper. These often included tiny marshmallows and always, some sort of canned fruit and maybe a banana. Mandarin orange juice was a frequent addition to the bug juice pitcher as the fruit went well in lime Jell-o.

During rough economic times, it wouldn‘t hurt to take a few lessons from our foremothers. For them, being frugal was not at all the same as being cheap or chintzy. It was being smart.

Come to think of it, embracing that idea of "waste not want not"would be good for Mother Earth as well as our wallets. Besides, making use of things we’d otherwise just throw away can be satisfying and rewarding. That is, if you can avoid becoming a hoarder. Oy! Now there’s another story . . ..!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Nap Time and Polio

These lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer bring back many personal memories. One involves the overwhelming fear of polio during my early childhood. It would be several more years before the first successful vaccine was developed and distributed.

During the winter of 1952-53, my older brother and I developed mumps. We looked like chipmunks preparing for winter. As goofy as that was, fever and pain made it no fun. Parents viewed it as one more childhood disease to get out of the way while we were still young. If a kid had measles or chickenpox, kids who hadn’t come down with it yet were sent to play with the sick kid in hopes that they, too would catch it and get it over with.

Yeah, I know, intentionally exposing children to diseases sounds like cruel and unusual punishment. In those days, the theory was that children could weather them far better than adults could. Adults sometimes become sterile or died from so-called childhood diseases.

For whatever reason, I developed a case of meningitis along with the mumps. The symptoms were scarily similar to those of infantile paralysis, a.k.a. polio. Being only four at the time, I don’t remember all that much except how worried my parents were and not feeling at all well.

Polio terrorized everybody in those days. President Roosevelt had struggled for years and eventually died from polio. There was no cure or vaccine. Pictures of hospital wards populated by children of all ages confined in bulky iron lungs that forced their paralyzed bodies to breathe were used as threats if children were reluctant to take an afternoon nap. Rest and good nutrition were considered preventive measures. Plenty of sunshine and fresh air were what Dad believed in so I spent many summer afternoons napping on a blanket in the back yard.

We lived outside Chicago with all it’s big city attractions. One particularly enticing destination for every kid was Riverview. It was an enormous amusement park, built in the early 1900s with games and rides that appealed to everyone. Some parents, including mine, saw it as a place seething with unsavory characters and germs, particularly the polio virus. Children everywhere whined and connived in utter frustration only to have their parents stand their ground against visiting this spectacular, maybe naughty place. I will always regret that. It closed the month I went away to college.

I cannot remember how old I was when I was no longer forced to take an afternoon nap. It seemed like forever.  When I complained, Mom would always say I didn’t have to sleep, but I did have to rest so that I wouldn’t catch polio.

While I languished in angry frustration in my room, I could hear the other neighborhood kids continuing to play outside. I always lost the argument that THEY didn’t have to take naps and THEY never got polio! I felt utterly and completely deprived!

I’m pretty sure that, at the time, it never crossed my mind that my parents loved me and were constantly concerned for my welfare. Being reasonable was not part of my character back then. All I saw was the injustice of being forced to abandon my playmates in order to take a stupid nap that I didn’t even need.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shame on you, CNN

As hard as I try, there is no avoiding televised news reports on the slaughter in Wisconsin. Spouse was glued to the television on Sunday waiting to see how it would end.

The local police chief asked the media not to broadcast what they were seeing from their helicopters. Any fool could have figured out that they feared it might reveal police tactics to the murderer. So what do you think CNN did immediately following the live comments from a visibly troubled police chief? Yup, they went right back to broadcasting live from their helicopter flying overhead!

Gee, CNN -- whose side are you on?

If that wasn't bad enough, CNN reporters cornered family members of victims and survivors to ask them "how did you feel . . . ?" Did they expect to hear: "well, gosh and golly, it was pretty cool hearing gunshots and watching people scramble for safety, just like my favorite video game."

I know this is a huge story and of interest and concern to millions of people. Tragedy sells papers and airtime. CNN's tactics in following and reporting on this horrific crime are probably not much different from other news outlets, but theirs are more likely what the rest of the world sees. This sort of fascinated sensationalism makes Americans look stupid and completely tactless.

When tragedy strikes again, I do hope CNN will be more sensitive to human sensibilities and just plain smarter in their methods. Perpetrators often are looking for notariety for themselves and/or their "causes." News media need to consider whether they are aiding and abetting the bad guys before they devote so much time and effort reporting on senseless, brutal crimes.