On Kidnapped Children

An open letter to Congress, including our Congressional Representative, Col. Paul Cook:

Congressman Cook:

Separating parents and children is abhorrent and a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  We are ashamed of our country and of everyone who supports this policy of cruelty.

We have experienced something similar twice, something a parent never forgets, like a rape of one’s soul.

Fifty-plus years ago we had to leave one of our children in a hospital far from home for major surgery.  Staying with her was not an option.  As we left her room, we heard one wail, nothing more.  It was the cry of an abandoned child, not old enough to understand what had to happen, but knowing her parents had walked out and not knowing what would happen next.  The nurses were wonderful, the medical care the best, and she had not been snatched from equally terrified parents.

During the first Gulf War, when our daughter was stationed in Turkey, her husband and two children were evacuated back to the States.  The little girls had their father’s affection and excellent care all the time.  They lived with loving relatives or in military-paid housing for the duration, but the hastily-weaned-from-breast baby developed an infection and stopped gaining weight.  The doctor’s diagnosis: “She’s grieving for her mother.”  It was a full year after they were reunited that this child’s physical development reached normal.  This was separation from only one parent, and other than the stress of travel, in a physically optimal environment.

Furthermore, neither of those situations followed a traumatic journey with probably already-traumatized parents.

The only solution is to immediately cease (with repentance and amendment of life) this kidnapping-and-concentration-camp treatment of children.  They must be reunited with their parents.  If their parents have been deported, the only moral thing to do is to offer parents the alternative of having the child(ren) taken back to them, or asylum here while the damage is mitigated.

Legislatively, child abuse by immigration officials needs to be as illegal as child abuse by any other person(s).

Did you learn nothing from the internment of the Japanese, the forced boarding-school treatment of Native American children, or the several Trails of Tears? Do you not know about Nazi abductions or Russian exile to Siberia?  Or even the slave trade?  The fact that these things are going on in other countries does not excuse our evils.

We can only conclude that everyone responsible for this atrocity has lost the ability to distinguish between good and evil.  We grieve for the children, their parents, and for our country which has lost its moral bearings.

For the love of God, stop!

Trapp Family Singers–and a Fly!

When the Trapp Family Singers (Sound of Music) began their U.S. singing tour, they expected audiences who would be impressed by their technical skill and the difficulty of their selections.  Their audiences agreed that they were exceptionally good singers, but that didn’t mean they wanted to listen to a 45-minute-long piece that they knew nothing about!

Their manager said, “There is something you are lacking…something between you and your audience.”

Then came the fly.

The Trapps were finishing a concert of madrigals and motets, Bach and Mozart.  Maria chose a “Jodler”  for the encore.

“In yodeling, one has to take a deep breath and then hold out for long phrases at a time.  We were just in the middle of it when, oh horror!  A fly started circling around my face.  I watched it, cross-eyed, and got panicky,  I knew very soon I would have to take a deep breath, and what if…

“We took our deep breath and it happened.  In went the fly…a good cough would have helped, but to cough the right way on stage is much, much harder than to sing the right way.  I outdid myself in not coughing, but I couldn’t help turning purple.  I happened to have the leading part in this jodler, the melody; but that mountain call had to be finished without it…My brave children tried not to pay any attention to their choking mother, and when they were finished, I was too—with the fly.“

Maria felt she had to apologize.  She announced, “What never happened before has happened now.  I swallowed a fly.”

The audience laughed..and laughed…and laughed.  When they quieted down, she wanted to make up for the spoiled encore with an Austrian folk song.  She explained:  “It describes how a young hunter climbs up in the rocks for hours looking for, and finally shooting, a—”   The animal she meant was a chamois, but instead she said “chemise.*”  Not only the audience, but the rest of the family, shook with laughter.

The missing link had been found–interact with your listeners as if you are at home enjoying a musical party.

  • A chamois is a kind of deer; its hide is the chamois that polishes a car.  A chemise, for those who aren’t familiar with fashion terminology from half a century ago, is a loose-fitting garment that can be a nightgown, underwear, or a simple dress.


Albert Einstein Didn’t Wear Socks!

Harry Cauley’s claim to fame (one of them) is that he mowed Albert Einstein’s lawn.

Actually, Harry Cauley can claim a great deal more.   He has not only written plays, but directed and produced them.  He has written and produced for popular TV shows.  He writes novels.

The book he wrote that I like best is Speaking of Cats, but that’s another post.

Harry Cauley was a special guest at my writers’ club.  We could have listened to him talk for hours!  He told us about growing up on the street where Albert Einstein lived, a close enough neighbor so he was the boy who mowed the Einstein’s lawn.  As far as Harry was concerned, Mr. Einstein was not a famous man—he was a neighbor.

Harry’s mother said Mr. Einstein didn’t dress properly.  (But it was still okay for Harry to earn pocket money mowing his lawn.)  She was shocked because “Mr. Einstein doesn’t wear socks!”

You can see for yourself in a photo by the National Geographic. I don’t have the right to use photo, but you can see it at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/866/86633.jpg

Do YOU ever wear sandals without socks?  Don’t we usually wear sandals when we don’t want to wear socks?  Do mothers ever fuss about little stuff?

Oldest Computer—The Antikythera Mechanism

  • Antikythera is the Greek island near where it was found.
  • It predicted lunar and solar eclipses, held a calendar, and signaled the next Olympic Games.
  • When scientists studied the device with x-rays, they discovered you could use it to track the sun, moon, and planets.
  • CT scans—the same procedure that might tell your doctor whether your appendix needs to come out–revealed tiny writing engraved on its parts, not exactly a built-in instruction manual, more like parts labels, but important clues to where it might have been made and what it was supposed to do—enough for scholars now to understand at least some of the workings.
"The first computer" found in shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera
The Antikythera mechanism on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Image credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0.

The Antikythera Mechanism was found with a 2000-year-old wrecked ship in 1902.  It’s the only one found, but perhaps something similar will turn up elsewhere to answer questions about when it was made, who made it, and did anyone, a thousand years ago, build anything like it?

This model of the Mechanism, built by science modeler Massimo Mogi Vicentini, is an attempt to show what its insides might have looked like 2000 years ago:

Mogi Vicentini via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5


Who is Roy Wen?

My Other Half is a dedicated Word-Find fan.  Those are the puzzles that look like scrambled alphabet in columns, and you are supposed to search out words up and down, back and forth, and diagonally.  I fail completely when it comes to finding an actual word by reading diagonally from upper right to lower left, so I don’t even try.  I think something about his dyslexia (don’t ask him to spell anything!) somehow helps with word search.

A few minutes ago he was working on a history-themed word search and detected the name “Roy Wen” in this string:  “EYTICKROYWENILR.”     Curious, he did an internet search and found plenty named”Roy Wenzel” which didn’t help a bit because of the ILR instead of ZEL.  Then there’s the word TICK.

He figured it out.  You can, too:  Take the E off the beginning and the IRL off the end, and read backwards, or, if you are like me, re-write the remaining letters in reverse order.  You got it!

I respect Colin Kaepernick

I find it ridiculous that kneeling for the National Anthem is considered disrespectful to our flag.

  • We kneel in awe at a Power greater than ourselves.  We kneel in petition to a king or queen (or we did generations ago–I’m not up on today’s court etiquette).  Some people kneel to pray in church, or at home.  Protest becomes an active prayer when there are wrongs that need to be righted.  Seeing a wrong, really seeing and understanding it, is enough to send persons of conscience to their knees.
  • When I was growing up, there were towns and States where black people could not sit in restaurants or on buses and black children could not go to swimming pools.  People were upset when they sat in protest, and I don’t think there’s any difference when people protest if a  black player kneels, but not when a white one (like Tim Tebow) kneels or bows in prayer.
  • Disrespect, as I see it, is wandering around eating a hot dog or sipping a cola while the anthem is played.  Or making obscene gestures.  Or yelling in protest.  Or continuing a conversation.   It bugs me if I’m in someone’s home when a game comes on and everyone remains seated and continues chatting during the national anthem.
  • For that matter, not respecting what our flag stands for:  freedom of speech, justice for all, respect for those whose beliefs,  color, abilities, tattoos, politics, or language differs from ours–is more important than a person’s posture when the flag is displayed.
  • Kneeling has never been associated with disrespect.  You wouldn’t kneel before a man you couldn’t respect unless you were forced to!  If you disrespect someone, you turn your back, or walk off to do something else, or keep talking to another person, or tell him exactly what you think!

I cannot respect a man who tweets, with language I don’t want our grandchildren to hear, about firing people who stand up–or kneel down–for what’s right, honorable, and respectful of others.

Of course I respect Colin Kaepernick, and I hope some NFL person, or whoever makes those decisions, will hire him so he can put his talents to work.

YES, I KNOW THE HEADER PHOTO IS NEITHER NFL NOR FOOTBALL.  I have to confess that the last sports event we attended was Lacrosse, and we love these active little boys!