Sunday, May 23, 2021
10:14 am pdt
Memorial Day, not to be confused with Veterans' Day, honours those people who have died while serving
in the military, whereas Veterans' Day, which is observed on November 11, has come to honour everybody who has ever
been a member of the Armed Forces, whether they died or not. Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May
since it became an official holiday in 1971. Before that it was celebrated on May 30... well... if you happened to live in
the North. (Memorial Day 2020)
The idea of routinely
maintaining the gravesites of your ancestors – a Decoration Day – is quite old. Before the
Civil War, families would generally clean up gravesites toward the end of the summer, using the occasion as an excuse for
family reunions. After the Civil War, there were suddenly a lot more fallen soldiers to honour.
As a result, many secular, patriotic ceremonies sprang up all over the country. (Memorial Day 2020)
Where they sprang up first, though, is a bit contentious.
Waterloo, New York, is credited with holding "the first formal, village wide, annual observance
of a day dedicated to honoring the war dead," which they called Decoration Day, on May 5, 1866. Congress
made the declaration official in 1966 when they recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day. If
you're ever in Waterloo, there's a museum. (The History and Origin) The observance was moved to May 30
in 1868, in particular because it didn't mark any battle. By 1890, all the Northern states had made Decoration Day a state
holiday. (Memorial Day)
Saying that Waterloo,
New York, is the birthplace of Memorial Day, however, might be a bit of Northern revisionist history. The
first Confederate Memorial Day, which was simply called Memorial Day, was observed on April 26, 1866, in Columbus,
Georgia, one month before it was celebrated in Waterloo, and a full two years before it became a truly official holiday in
the North. April 26 marks the anniversary of when most Southerners considered the Civil War to have ended,
when General Johnson surrendered to General Sherman at Bennett Place, North Carolina. (Confederate Memorial Day)
Indeed, there are those who claim that the observance of Memorial Day in the North was a direct response to its taking
place in the South. The day was not referred to as "Confederate Memorial Day" until after observances
became established in the North. (Confederate Memorial Day)
However, even claiming that the Southern states started Memorial Day might be a bit of Southern revisionist
history. The first recorded observation of Memorial Day was in May of 1865 – a year before the Southern
observance – by freed slaves in South Carolina. (Memorial Day)
Confederate Memorial Day is still celebrated throughout the South on various days in the spring,
depending on what state, and even which part of that state, you might happen to be in. It is still an official
holiday in South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee. (Confederate Memorial Day)
After the First World War Memorial Day became less of a "North
/ South" thing, when it was expanded to include all soldiers who had fallen in any American war. (Memorial Day
Since the end of World War I, it has
become a tradition to wear a single red poppy to honour the dead on Memorial Day. Poppy seeds are scattered
by the wind, and they tend to lie dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground is disturbed, as it was in a big
way during World War One. Poppies, therefore, are usually one of the first things to appear on a battlefield,
even before the fighting has stopped. (Memorial Day 2020)
John McCrae is generally credited with starting the poppy tradition. McCrae, who
witnessed the First World War, wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields" in 1915, which features the line "In Flanders
fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row...." (McCrae)
Inspired by McCrae, Moina Michael wrote her own poem, "We Shall Keep the Faith," in 1918
about Flanders fields and the poppies that grew there. The poem features the line, "And now the Torch and the Poppy red
/ We wear in honor of our dead." (Michael)
Wearing of poppies to honour the war dead quickly spread throughout the known world, especially in
Europe. It also spread to Veterans' Day, where it has come to symbolized not only the dead, but the hope
of recovery and new life. (Memorial Day 2020)
Memorial Day, people traditionally place flags on the graves of veterans. As well, there is a National
Observance at 3:00 p.m. local time. And then there are the barbecues and picknicks. Memorial
Day, aside from honouring the dead, has become the unofficial official start of summer. (Memorial Day 2020)
"Confederate Memorial Day." 26 April 2020. Wikipedia.
20 May 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_Memorial_Day
"The History and Origin of Memorial Day in Waterloo, New York." 2020. National
Memorial Day Museum. 20 May 2020. https://wlhs-ny.com/national-memorial-day-museum/
McCrae, John. "In Flanders Fields." 3 May 1915. Poetry
Foundation. 20 May 2020. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47380/in-flanders-fields
"Memorial Day." 18 May 2020. History. 20
May 2020. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history
"Memorial Day 2020." 19 May 2020. The Old Farmer's Almanac.
20 May 2020. https://www.almanac.com/content/when-memorial-day
Michael, Moina. "We Shall Keep the Faith." November 1918.
The Great War: 1914-1918. 20 May 2020. http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/moina-michael-we-shall-keep-faith.htm
Friday, May 21, 2021
9:07 am pdt
Cap'in, Cap'in, goin' down fast,
throw me a line so
I can last.
Was there once, goin' there again
(if a line don't rhyme it ain't no sin).
Came in first so I wouldn't
got out back so I wouldn't be past.
Your remember ol' Earl
I say to a friend.
(But how could you forget him then again?)
(this line's here just for space)
fall in love, it'll stick to your face."
That's what Earl'd always say.
(Who the heck is Earl anyway?)
Knew a man who made gold bricks.
(That's fine, but can he do balloon tricks?)
a quarter pie to make seven pence.
(That last line just don't make sense.)
You might think my grammar is bad,
shows ya the quality of schoolin' I've had.
Electric toaster ate the
looped single and a busted bat.
Airplane crashed into left field,
turned right and forgot to yield.
Poetry's fun when it rhymes
(throw up if you're havin' a helluva time).
I ain't too fat ‘cause I'm thin
(stop complainin' or I'll start over again).
Knew a man who got hit
by a subway train,
serves him right for standin' in the rain!
This poem's just a little bit weird
and we'll stop at the pier).
Cap'in, Cap'in, goin' down fast,
me a line so I can last.
You may think this is a bunch of bloody rot;
read it again so you can get the hidden thought.
Your might read it twice again for fun;
if you're looking for the meaning, well, there is none.
Hang on to your hats for the weekly show.
(Do you think it ain't a poem if it don't
I'd better be careful of what I say,
this ain't much of anything, anyway.
While you read this I hope
you had a ball;
getting' tired of writin', so this'll be all.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
8:18 am pdt
A Vicious Circle
Thursday, May 13, 2021
9:34 am pdt
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
7:54 am pdt
Buddy Badger lived beneath a log on the south side of the pasture. He had a pleasant home with lots
of soft grass to lie on and a collection of wonderful books that he liked to read. The only thing bad in
Buddy’s life was Lester. Lester was a rabbit. Lester was obnoxious.
Every day Lester came over to Buddy’s house and let himself in, whether Buddy were home or not. While
he was there, he would eat all of Buddy’s best food, including the apricot jam that Buddy got from his mother every
Christmas. And worst of all, Lester often got jam all over Buddy’s favorite books. No
matter what Buddy said to Lester, it would make no difference. Once Buddy even changed the lock on his
front door, but Lester broke out the little window and let himself in all the same. And one time Lester
even had a party at Buddy’s, and he and all his friends totally trashed out Buddy’s house.
know what to do. It’s not like you can really call the animal cops. So Buddy asked
Steve; Steve was a squirrel. Contrary to popular belief, owls are really dumb as dirt. They
just seem smart because the squirrels tell them everything. Buddy cut out the middleman.
“What can I do?” asked Buddy. “Rabbit is trashing out my whole house.
He’s ruined my life.”
Squirrel thought about it for a while and he finally answered, “If I were you, I’d kill him.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that,” Buddy replied.
“You don’t have to,”
said Squirrel. “You can hire Billy. He’ll kill him.”
Billy was a bluebird. If people only knew how mean bluebirds really were, they’d stop putting
out houses for them.
Buddy still couldn’t bare to have Rabbit killed. “I’m just not that kind of Badger,”
he tried to explain to Squirrel.
So Squirrel thought about Buddy’s problem some more, and he came up with another idea. It
was an idea that Buddy liked a whole lot more. Squirrel suggested that Buddy simply beat the living snot
out of Rabbit. “After all,” Squirrel explained, “you are a lot bigger than Rabbit.
You’ve got the reach. And he won’t be expecting a thing.”
just what Buddy did. The next time Rabbit came over to his house Buddy pounded him into the dirt.
In fact, Buddy was so successful that Rabbit never brought himself or his broken ears back to Buddy’s house ever
The only problem was, Buddy had never done anything violent before in his entire life. Like most
badgers, Buddy was a very peaceful sort of guy. Pounding Rabbit, though, opened up a whole new world for
Buddy. He soon discovered that he didn’t have to collect any berries. All he had
to do was wait for Bear to return from the Sparkling Stream and then take away all of his berries. Bears
are pushovers that way. He didn’t have to wait in line to cross the log over the brook.
He just shoved everyone out of his way. He didn’t even have to clean his house or cook.
He scared the mice so bad that they were afraid not to.
In short, Buddy became obnoxious.
It got so bad that all the animals in the forest got together and went to Squirrel. Of course, Squirrel
had a simple solution. Unfortunately for Buddy, they had no problems with bluebirds.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
9:18 am pdt
Contrary to what many might believe, Mother’s Day – celebrated
on the second Sunday of May – was not invented by Hallmark as an excuse to sell cards. Mothers have
undoubtedly been honored for as long as there have been mothers. The earliest organized celebrations go
to back to the ancient Greeks who honored Rhea, the mother of several of their deities, in an annual spring festival.
Likewise, the Romans honored Cybele, “their Great Mother of Gods,” and the Christians in due time honored
Mary, the mother of Christ, on the fourth Sunday in Lent. (Mother’s Day)
It took several tries to organize Mother’s Day as we now know it in the United States.
One source credits a mother from Albion, Michigan, Juliet Calhoun Blakely. In the late 1800s, her
sons reportedly began paying “...tribute to her each year and urged others to honor their mothers.” (Mother’s
Day in the United States)
credit Julia Ward Howe. Howe, along with being a pacifist and a suffragist, also wrote the lyrics to the
"Battle Hymn of the Republic." (Mother’s Day) Around 1870 in Boston, she “...called
for Mother's Day to be celebrated each year to encourage pacifism and disarmament amongst women.” (Mother’s Day
in the United States) She believed that mothers “...bore the loss of human life more harshly than
anyone else.” (Mother’s Day) After about ten years, though, her efforts died out. (Mother’s
Day in the United States)
The two women commonly
credited with getting Mother’s Day recognized as a national holiday in the Untied States are Ann and Anna Jarvis, a
mother and daughter respectively from Grafton, West Virginia. Starting in the Civil War, the elder Jarvis
organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to equally care for wounded soldiers from both sides. (Strauss)
In 1905 when Mother Jarvis died, her daughter began a campaign to memorialize her life work. Legend has it that young
Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime,
will found a memorial mother's day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers." (Mother’s Day)
In 1907, Jarvis was content to hold a private memorial for her mother,
but the following year, Jarvis organized a service honoring mothers in general at the Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church
in Grafton, West Virginia, which was attended by over 400 mothers and their children. Since then, the church
has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, having “become the International Mother's Day Shrine.” (Mother’s
Day in the United States)
With the eventual
financial support of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, John Wanamaker, who saw the marketing potential from the start, (Father’s
Day) Jarvis was able to bring her cause to the attention of national lawmakers, (Mother’s Day in the United States)
including both Presidents Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. (Mother’s Day) In 1913,
“the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations
on Mother's Day,” a practice Jarvis had started five years earlier. And the following year, in 1914,
all of Anna’s lobbying paid off with Woodrow Wilson’s declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday
(Mother’s Day) “in honor of ‘that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.’” (Father’s
Day) Since then, Mother’s Day has become the most popular day of the year to eat out, and that day
also marks the heaviest traffic on telephone networks as children across America call their mothers. (Mother’s Day)
Ironically, to say the least, Jarvis spent the later years of her life
lobbying in vain for the abolition of Mother’s Day because she felt “...that the day's sentiment was being sacrificed
at the expense of greed and profit.” She filed a lawsuit in 1923 to stop a Mother’s Day celebration,
and went so far as to be arrested for trying to stop the sell of carnations to a group of war mothers. (Mother’s
Day) Jarvis had meant for Mother’s Day to be “’a day of sentiment, not profit...’”
for the greeting card industry, “...which she saw as ‘a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.’”
To her dying day in 1948, Jarvis regretted ever creating the holiday. (Strauss)
But, really, what did she suspect? After all, this
is America, and if there is a way to make a buck off something, you have to be pretty naïve to think somebody won’t.
If marijuana is ever legalized, how long do you think it will take for there to be 4-20 cards? Oh...
wait. There already are. (“4 20 Cards” and “420 Greeting Cards,” to name but a
Incidentally, Anna Jarvis never had
“4 20 Cards.” 2012. Zazzle. 16
Aug. 2012. http://www.zazzle.com/4+20+cards
Cards.” 2012. Café Press. 16 Aug. 2012.
“Father’s Day.” 2012. History.com. 15
Aug. 2012. http://www.history.com/topics/fathers-day
Day.” 123.Holiday.Net. 15 Aug. 2012. http://mothers-day.123holiday.net/
Day in the United States.” 2012. TimeAndDate.com. 15
Aug. 2012. http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/mothers-day
“Why Mother’s Day founder came to hate her creation (and more on moms, gifts, baby names etc.).”
13 May 2012. The Washington Post. 15 Aug. 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-mothers-day-founder-came-to-hate-her-creation-and-more-on-moms-gifts-baby-names-etc/2012/05/13/gIQAy
Monday, May 3, 2021
9:11 am pdt
Fox and the Seven Bunnies Buford
– a fable –
Once there was a very unimaginative rabbit who had seven bunnies. Since
she had no imagination whatsoever, she named them all Buford. All the Bunnies Buford grew up, and as bunnies
often do, they set off together to find the world.
it so happened that Divergent Fox and his kit, who was named Carson, were out for the day when they saw the seven Bunnies
Buford’s hopping along all in a row.
do you suppose it is that bunnies hop?” Divergent Fox asked Carson, for he was teaching his kit the ways of the world.
“Evolution,” answered Carson, after carefully considering
the question for several moments. “Their hind legs have evolved over time so they can do stuff like
that. But I haven’t the slightest idea why,” he added.
Divergent Fox smiled his approval. “Very good,” he said,
“but it’s not exactly the answer I was searching for. Can you try again?"
“Oh,” said Carson. He thought
and he thought and he thought. “The hopping motion,” he concluded, “allows the rabbit
to flee quickly from danger while allowing him to periodically see over the tall grasses in which he frequents, thus allowing
him to avoid further danger.”
once again smiled his approval. “Very well thought out,” he said. "However,
I had a different answer in mind. Can you try again?”
“Oh,” said Carson. And once more he thought and thought and thought.
And when he was through thinking he answered, “No."
“A rabbit hops,” explained Divergent Fox, “so that it can get to where it’s going.”
“Oh,” said Carson.
“And where do you suppose those seven bunnies are going?” asked Divergent Fox.
“I don’t know,” said Carson, having not thought
“They’re going to be our dinner,”
Divergent Fox said with a smile that only a fox can smile.
And with that he leapt from behind the thicket where he had been hidden and grabbed the very last Buford in the row.
The Buford who had been walking in front of the last Buford
turned and saw that Buford was gone, so Buford asked the other Bufords, “Where’s Buford?” And
since they were all named Buford, they all answered, “Here.” And nobody noticed that the last
Buford was gone.
Pretty soon Divergent Fox once again
leapt from behind the thicket, and he once again grabbed the very last Buford in the row.
When the other Bufords suspected that another Buford was gone, they all asked, “Where’s
Buford?” And, of course, they all answered, “Here,” and continued on their way.
This went on until there was only one Buford left.
And, of course, when he was gone, there was no one left to ask, “Where’s Buford?”
No one, that is, except for Carson, who dreamily asked, “Where
do you suppose it is that bunnies go when they are no more?”
Divergent Fox, who was too full to answer, burped twice, and then closed his tired eyes and quietly began to snore.