Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dan reading his Kindle

What do the following words bring to mind: Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, A Tale of Two Cities? If you answered novels by Charles Dickens, you are correct. Yesterday I downloaded these novels to my Kindle along with every other novel by Charles Dickens which he published during his life. Even The Mystery of Edwin Drood, his unfinished novel, is among the fifty-one works which I downloaded.

Instead of the typical minute to a minute and a half, this download took five mintues or more. The charge for this download was just one dollar.

Tonight I downloaded a book (free) by George Eliot, "Scenes from Clerical Life." What to read next?

Nick and his family came over tonight. They left last Sunday and went to Branson. They arrived in Branson (via Springfield) Sunday afternoon and left Thursday. They stopped by to see my parents before coming back to Sand Springs.

I had another productive piano duet practice session this morning with Gail. We will be playing at Movie Night on Saturday. Our selection will be "Wade in the Water."

I went out to Lake Keystone today to collect the receipts and get the registration set up for 2010. Afterwards, we did our grocery shopping.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today's activities

I went to my dentist today. The hygenist, Kelly, did a lot of probing and poking in my mouth. The dentist said that I have two fillings which are leaking. They are old fillings (silver), and over time they do not hold up well. I have to go back in about a month so that the fillings can be replaced. Also, the dentist said I have a tooth which needs to be crowned.

Today was the first time I went anywhere in five days. It was below freezing, and I did not know if the car would start up right away; but it did. After my visit to the dentist, I took some books back to the library amd picked up one waiting for me. Next I went to the Case Community Center, the TCC Fitness Center being closed until after the beginning of the new year. The Case Community Center is the community center for Sand Springs. The TCC Fitness Center is a nicer facility than the Case. The Case is open to everyone, but the TCC center requires users to pay a fee to use. There were a couple dozen adolescents on the basketball court playing a noisy game of basketball, and there were a half dozen walkers on the elevated walking track around the court. I walked three miles.

On the way back home, I stopped at Braum's for a gallon of milk. Coming back to my car, the '96 Saturn, some boys in another car said a woman in another car had backed into my car. I looked at the front of my car where they said the impact took place and noticed the plate holder was cracked and pieces of it were missing. The lady was most apologetic and offered to make it right. Then I recognized her. I said "I know you." She said, "Yes, you do." It was Linda from the walking club. I told her to forget about the damage to the plastic plate holder. I was glad I had driven the '96 Saturn instead of the '08 Saturn.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cabin fever sets in

Tomorrow morning I go to the dentist for a six-month cleaning. It will give me a break from being cooped up in the house. Today is day number five since I have left the property, not that I have wanted to go anywhere especially. Today I stood on the porch for a while and watched the birds and cars go by. I'm down to the last story in the Sherlock Holmes collection I have been reading. I will take up Mark Twain next.

If it does not snow tomorrow, Gail and I plan to practice piano duets Wednesday morning. However, the forecast calls for snow, so we may be delayed once again.

I have finished my database of piano duet music. I have 45 books of piano duets and some 380 songs in my collection. I have even more pieces because I did not count the single sheets.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Sherlock Holmes

Since we are "snowed in," we worked on developing the art of lounging today. The only thing I did that could remotely be called work was taking the trash cart out to the curb. Our trash is picked up once a week on Monday. I cleared the gate of snow just enough to squeeze the cart through and then wheeled it to the curb. For our meals, we ate leftovers out of the refrigerator.

Normally, Gail comes over on Monday morning for duet practice. I gave her a call and we decided to delay our practice this week until Wednesday. By then, I hope the ice will be off the roadways. I had planned to attend a memorial service in Tulsa for Bill F., but due to the weather, I did not go.

I spent the day reading (more Sherlock Holmes stories) and playing piano. I also listened to some CDs and read the newspaper online.

It was not a very exciting day, but it was a day without stress. I'm getting this lounging down.

No church service today

We got a call from a member of the Methodist church yesterday saying that there would be no service today. Also, I noticed on the TV that there is no service at Restoration today. So we stayed in today. I went out and got the Sand Springs newspaper from the driveway a few moments ago. There was a long listing of churches scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen which called off services for today on account of the snow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

'Twas the day after Christmas

Today is the day after Christmas. We received a heavy snow on Christmas Eve and have been inside the house ever since then. I walked to the mailbox and brought in the mail. Other than that brief sojourn, I have been inside.

I have been developing the art of lounging for the last two days. I have been playing the piano, working on my database of sheet music, reading, surfing the net, and staying inside. I have an appointment to see my dentist next Tuesday morning. That may be the next time I get out. One good thing about being retired is that your requirements to be at a certain place at a certain time is greatly reduced.

Today I fixed lunch. I pealed three potatoes and boiled a chicken breast, added some noodles, and called it lunch.

In the afternoon I read a Sherlock Holmes mystery on my Kindle: "The Man With the Twisted Lip." Yesterday, I downloaded another free book: The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain.

Tonight we watched a movie I had checked out from the library: Rain Man. Part of the movie was shot in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

I suspect it will be a few days before we get a significant amount of melting, being we are so early in the winter. The forecast indicates highs in the 30s the next few days.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Record snowfall hits OKC

Today was a big snow day in Oklahoma. OKC got, at last count, over 14 inches of snow. All interstate highways are now closed. I hope my friends from Tecumseh got to Springfield before this weather turned everything white. Several weather records were broken this day.

We had planned to go to Nick's tonight and open presents, but with the sleet and snow and cold, we decided to stay in. So the two of us had Christmas together and opened our presents here. After we opened our gifts, I went to the kitchen table and assembled a jigsaw puzzle from my cousin Vicki in Houston. Vicki, you are so good.

Three people were killed tonight in a car accident in Sand Springs. The accident happened at the intersection of Highway 97 and Highway 51, just on the south side of the bridge over the Arkansas River. A man, his wife, and a child were the victims. One moment they were fine; in the next instant, they were dead. This is the night before Christmas, and with people still out shopping, there have been many accidents this evening. I am glad I don't have to be out tonight.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

Tomorrow will be our last chance to do Christmas shopping. We went out today and shopped for both groceries and gifts.

This evening I read a short story on my Kindle written by Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. It is a story I read decades ago: "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League." It is from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This book is just one of several hundred, maybe thousands, which are free to download on the Kindle. Most of the free books are older books, such as the Sherlock Holmes books. A lot of classics of English and American literature are available to download at no charge. The books come in to your Kindle by an electronic signal. It takes about a minute or a minute and a half to download a book.

Also this evening, I worked on building my database of piano duet sheet music. At this time I am working on just the sheet music in collections in books. I have entered song titles and composers for 30 books now (some 230 titles). I have 14 more books to enter into the database. I also have several single pieces, which I may later add to the database.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tonight I want to write about a source for sheet music which I use. I like to shop at Saied's in Tulsa. They have the best selection of sheet music locally. However, they don't have everything. Whenever I can't find sheet music I am looking for at Saied's, I like to shop online at They have about everything.

They have a low shipping charge of just $2.99 on most shipments. Also, when your shipment arrives, so does a coupon for $1.50 off your next purchase.

So, if you have never shopped at, go there and have a look.

As for my health, I am doing better now. I hope to be back to 100% soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There is a web site called I have visited this site frequently. If you teach English, you might like to get familiar with this site.

It is an English vocabulary-building site. A word appears on the screen and four choices are available to choose from. The object is to select the correct synonym among the four. If you would like to hear the word pronounced, click on the speaker icon and hear the word pronounced. If you guess wrongly, the word will reappear after a few choices. The greater your success, the more difficult the words become.

Somehow, playing this vocabulary quiz is supposed to provide grains of rice to hungry people. I don't understand, but that is what the web site claims.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sickness cancels plans

Tonight I had planned to go to Randy's for our annual HumanLight Celebration, but when I got up this morning I could tell I did not feel right. I made three phone calls (Gail, Randy, and Barbara) to inform them I would not be going to the Celebration. Instead of reaching Gail, I got her voice mail. I spoke with Randy and told him I would not be there. Barbara was out, but I spoke with her daughter.

Throughout the day, I napped on and off. When I got up in the morning, I felt as if it were time to go back to bed. And after being up just a couple of hours, I would go back to bed for a while. So I was up and down all day today. I have been inside the house all day. J made a trip to Braum's for a gallon of OJ. Gail returned my phone call and said we might do a performance for HAT later on.

Yesterday, I went to TCC to walk. I made my goal of a mile a day for this year. I'm at 369 miles for the year. How many miles did you log this year? Depending upon the weather, I may yet do another volkswalk or two before the year's end. Volkswalking is a popular sport in Oklahoma. In other parts of the nation it is almost unheard of.

I sent off my index yesterday. I heard back from the editor I was working with. She said the editors of the volume were pleased with the revisions I made. I should be getting a check for this work shortly. The index was 14 pages long.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Revisions complete

Tonight I finished making revisions to my index. Tomorrow I will send it off, and then I should have time to do other things, such as get ready for the party at Randy's house on Saturday. I will be playing piano. We have a little group we call Secular Singers, who put on a small show for the group. Last year we had about 25 people at Randy's house. Secular Singers is made up of four, sometimes five, people.

I also would like to go walking. If the weather is good, I would like to do a volkswalk. If the weather is not great, then I will go to TCC and walk there.

I had an appointment with Dr. Shirk, my audiologist at noon today. I told her about a couple of problems with my hearing aids. She made some adjustments which helped. Specifically, when I play piano, the sound I get from the aids has a rattle to it. It sounds somewhat better now, but when the volume increases, I hear the rattle. She seemed impressed with the piano I have and with the fact that I play duets on a regular basis.

Yesterday was the day of our monthly luncheon at White River Fish Market. Besdies the two of us, there was Dave and Marilyn. So the four of us had a meal together.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A message from Bob H.

Bob sent me a message to pass along to others in our group. The link to it is below:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Bell Choir Concert

I did not post anything last night, so I have some catching up to do. The week began with my piano partner, Gail, coming over. She had to take her dog by the vet and was a few mintues late arriving. Her dog had an abscessed tooth. The vet gave her some medicine for the dog.

That evening, J and I went to a bell choir concert at St. Paul's Methodist Church in Tulsa. We heard the Tulsa Festival Ringers in the sanctuary of the old church. There were 16 bell ringers who gave a concert lasting about an hour. By observing the bell ringers, I learned that there are various ways to ring bells. The normal way is to pick up the bell by the handle and give it a short wave. I also saw ringers striking the bell on the table in front of them. Mallets were used to ring the bells sometimes. After bells were rung, sometimes they were waved behind the ringers. Sometimes they were immediately muted by pressing them into the ringer's shirt. The ringers also had bells that looked a lot like a short piece of tubing used to support traffic signs - metal that is about an inch square and about a foot and a half long, with a clanker on the end to create the sound. Clanker may not be the right word; maybe striker would be a better word.

The bells were in different sizes. The short small bells make the higher pitches, while the larger bells create the deeper tones. It was a cold night, and we hastened home after the concert.

Before the concert, I received an e-mail from a client I index for. If was feedback from my latest indexing job. The editors of the collection of essays had a few changes they would like to have made to the index. Actually, they had a lot of changes. I started revising the index once I got home last night. I got up early this morning and continued working on the revisions, breaking in the afternoon in order to go to my optomitrist for my annual checkup. She said everything looks good.

I returned home and resumed revising the index, omiting some entries, adding others. It's a good thing I have the book on disk as a PDF file. That makes searching for a word quick and easy. I am in the M's now. I will try to finish by tomorrow evening, but that may be a little optimistic. After a few hours of doing this kind of work, I have to stop. The fatigue builds up rather quickly. Your mind goes numb.

I never did tell you about the lady at All Souls who rebuked me for taking pictures of the gathering for Greg Epstein, who spoke at the church. I took a couple of flash pictures and moments later a lady approached me wanting to know if i had permission to take pictures and what I was planning to do with the pictures. She said that she might lose her job if the pictures were published. While I was sympathetic with her situation, I wondered if she had thought out the situation she was in. She comes to hear a person speak on "Good Without God," and then is surprized to see someone there taking pictures. I was just the first person to take pictures. Kenny was there with his camera, and I think two other people were taking pictures.

As it turns out, I used only one picture on my blog, and it was taken from the rear of the congregation and shows the congregants from the rear. I have no idea what became of the other photographers pictures. I though at the time (ironically) "What a profile in courage," but I did not say anything. I did hear that there were some people from ORU there. Epstein did speak at ORU while in Tulsa. She might have been from ORU. I guess I will never know. I later looked at the pictures and saw one woman holding a book over her face. I think that was her.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Daily events (WARNING: Contains spoilers)

Today I went to Church of the Restoration. This was Bill's last day to attend CoR, as he will be moving back to New England later this week. Cleon announced that he has set up a web site for CoR. The URL is I haven't yet taken a look at the site but plan to do so as soon as I get this blog posting up. Cleon was today's lay leader. There were seven or eight in attendance this morning.. Next Sunday's service will be a singing of Christmas carols, but I will have to miss that service. Jan wants me to attend her church next week.

After church, I drove to Woodland Hills Mall to do some Christmas shopping. The first thing i did upon arriving was to get something to eat. There are several choices in the food court. I decided to eat at a place called "Big Easy Cajun." I got the Bourbon chicken with brown beans and rice. There were a lot of folks out shopping this afternoon. The dining area at the food court was crowded.

After eating, I went to Dillard's and bought a cologne set called "Beautiful" for J. The price was the same as it had been at Stage earlier this week. Stage had sold out of the product when I checked on it there last Friday.

I went downstairs and bought a calendar for Nick. It is the kind of calendar where you tear off a page each day. The theme of this calendar is origami. When a day has passed, you tear off the day and fold it into something according to the instructions on the page. I had both gifts wrapped. It was free at Dillard's, but to get Nick's gift wrapped, I had to pay two dollars.

I passed by something interesting on the way out of the mall. A merchant was selling toy helicopters which actually flew (price $20 to $50). You control the toys with a remote control device. I would have bought one for Luke, but it looked like it could get him into trouble at his house. I could just see him flying the toy into people. He already has a bad habit of throwing things. A remote controlled helicopter would be too much of a temptation for him.

This evening, I went to the Methodist church for a musical program. Various choirs sang (including Ayla). The Dobbs and Matt performed as a brass quartet. The bell choir (with about a dozen ringers) performed two selections. I took my camera and snapped a few pictures.

When we got home, I took a couple of pictures of the homemade Christmas tree i mentioned last posting. I was going to post one, but J said no. She fears theives would be enticed to break into our house and steal the ornaments.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our tree is up

Today we put up a Christmas tree. We have two trees and alternate between the two. One is a plastic tree in three sections which when assembled make one tree. The other tree is made from dowels. The trunk if made of a dowel about an inch and a quarter thick. It is this tree we erected this morning.

We had to get the stand out of the attic to hold the tree in place. The tree is made of five dowels. The inch and a quarter one for the trunk. Four other dowels about a quarter of an inch thick run through the trunk at various heights. It is homemade.

Each Christmas we buy a dated Hallmark ornament to add to our collection. It takes a while to unpack each ornament from its box and hang it on the tree. After Christmas, we will have the task of putting each ornament back in its box and packing it all away. The ornament we bought for this year is of a white horse on a wheeled base. A bear is riding on the back of horse. We now have 33 or 34 ornaments. We have bought one each Christmas since we have been married. I will try to take a picture of the tree tomorrow and post it tomorrow night. We have run out of space for ornaments. We had to place a few around the tree at the base. Since we are needing more space on the tree to hang ornaments, I will make another tree before next Christmas. I will buy a longer dowel for the trunk and add an additional quarter-inch dowel for another branch.

Ayla is spending the night with us tonight. She will go with J to church in the morning. I will go to my church in the morning, and afterwards I may do some shopping for Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Signing

This morning after getting up (we slept late), we headed over to Barnes and Noble Bookstore on 71st Street for a book signing held by Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain for Harvard University. Greg has written a book titled Good Without God and is on a book tour promoting his book by speaking to sympathetic audiences. He spoke last night at All Souls Unitarian Church.

The book signing was held from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM today. Here is a picture I had taken with the author.

This evening J and I went to Border's Bookstore for the monthly meeting of the poetry group. Tonight we read and talked about poems written by Thomas Hardy and two minor English poets. Next month, we will read and discuss selected poems by Tennyson.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

U. N. Declaration of Human Rights Anniversary

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since 1948 was the year of my birth, that would make this year the 61st year the declaration has been in effect.

I was glad to hear Rick Warren come out and condemn the bill which would make homosexuality a capital crime in Uganda. My friend, Galen, from California send me a link to a YouTube message in which Warren condemns the proposed law and urges his fellow Christians in that country to oppose the bill. You can view the video here:

Today I took the '96 Saturn to the repair shop. The coolant light was flashing. I had added coolant to the reservoir, but the light kept flashing. We decided to take it in and put the system under pressure to see where the leak was originating. I also had a brake light that was out, which I did not know about until I was driving the car to the shop and J (following me in the other car) noticed the tail light being out.

A couple hours later the man from the shop called and told me the repair would be covered by a repair warranty from back in February when I had the radiator replaced. Once the car was fixed, the man at the shop called and said my car was ready. We went in and discovered there was no charge. They even replaced the tail light for free.

Tonight we went to All Souls Unitarian Church to hear Greg Epstein, the Humanist chaplain from Harvard, speak on the topic "Good Without God." There were a couple of hundred people there to hear Epstein speak. The visit was sponsored by the Tulsa Coalition of Reason, the Humanist Association of Tulsa, and the Interfaith Alliance.

I took my camera and shot a few pictures. Here is one:

This is not my best photo work, but it will give you an idea of the size of the crowd (I would estimate about 200). Some of the sanctuary is not visible in the photo.

The event was originally to be held in Emerson Hall, the fellowship hall for the church, but was moved to the main sanctuary to accommodate the large turnout.

A woman I had never met came up to me and rebuked me for taking photos. I will write about this incident tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas shopping

Today we went Christmas shopping. We shopped at three stores in Sand Springs and one store in Sapulpa. We bought items today for my cousin Vicki who lives in Houston. I won't say what we bought, since Vicki sometimes reads this blog. Tonight my spouse wrapped the things she bought and I wrapped the things I bought, and J packaged them up in a box, ready to mail.

While we were out, we ate at Lin Cuisine, a Chinese restaurant. The music was so loud in the restaurant that I had to remove my hearing aids. Our last stop was in Sapulpa where we visited the Dollar Tree. Vicki and I have a tradition of getting each other ten items from the dollar store for Christmas.

Today a winter storm passed just to the north of us. It is supposed to get very cold tonight and not warm up a lot tomorrow. Winter has arrived. We finally got around to putting the storm door glass in the front door tonight.

Tonight I printed some poems which we will be reading this Friday evening at the poetry gathering at Border's.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Geraldine Brooks at Tulsa Central Library

Recent events

I had another good practice session with Gail this morning. We had our first run through of "Give Thanks" -- a piece we are considering playing at the local Methodist church sometime in the future. We also played a couple of Christmas pieces we will be playing at Randy's later on this month.

Afterwards, we went to Dr. Shirk's office to get my hearing aids. Hearing aids have really gone high tech. In addition to getting the hearing aids, I got a device you wear around your neck (about an inch and a half square and a half inch thick) which you use for listening to an MP3. The signal is sent directly to the hearing aids. The aids even have a remote control. When I figure all this out, I may have more to say about it.

One thing I did yesterday is go to a program at the library where the Distinguished Author Award for 2009 was given to Geraldine Brooks. I took a few pictures and may post one here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Good without God video

Click the link below to view a video on being good without God.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Among friends

This picture was taken tonight at Movie Night at the Bradleys. Those in the picture are (going clockwise from my wife) Jan, myself, Gail Storey, Dawn Bradley, Randy Bradley, Bea McCartney,Barbara Frey, Shane McCurdy, Marilyn Clarke, Herb Van Fleet. We sat around and talked for a while and then Gail and I played "Yankee Doodle Variations." We moved to the Bradleys' movie viewing room and watched Labyrinth.

Prior to Movie Night the Secular Singers held a rehearsal using Randy's piano.

Barbara's son-in-law, Clinton, took this picture.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I opt out of flu shot

I have spent most of this day indexing. We went up to TCC's Fitness Center this morning and walked three miles. While there we saw the Tulsa County Health Department setting up to give flu shots.

On the way home we stopped at Subway and got a 5$ footlong, Black Forest ham. We took it home and ate it.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Nerren went back to TCC and got the flu shot. The shot was for the H1N1 flu. I did get a seasonal flu shot about two months ago.

It's time to go to bed and get some rest and continue indexing in the morning.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Flu shot?

This morning I spoke with the managing editor at DO and told her I plan to send the index file next Monday. She said that would be fine. She sent me a list put together by the editors of the volume of terms they thought might be included in the index. She said to use it as I see fit. The index is now 11 pages long.

I have not had the time to do much with my new Kindle. I have not yet downloaded any books. I thought I might wait until the index is finished before doing that.

I saw Dr. Rapacki today. I asked when it would be OK to get a shot for the H1N1 virus. He said anytime, but warned me about studies which show that people who get consecutive flu shots (such as one shot five years in a row) have a higher susceptability of developing Alzheimer's disease. I have already had one flu shot this year - the seasonal flu shot. Should I get a shot for the H1N1, or just take my chances?

This evening while Nick was at choir practice, we had Luke and Ayla. We drove them around looking at Christmas house decorations for the hour he was away.

Appointment change

Yesterday, we went to Dr. Rapacki's office at 11:00. When we got there we learned that my appointment had been changed to the next day at 10:40. No one had called us to let us know. We went back home.

Work on the index is going slower than I had planned. Galen, I have received your questions, but it may be next week before I can respond to them. I had hoped to have the index finished by Friday, but it loooks now like it will be Monday before it is ready to send.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Three down; four to go

I have reached the end of the book I am index. The next step is to edit the thing. I have printed out a copy to work from. I want to update this blog before I get to work on the index.

This morning Gail came over, and we played duets for two hours. We rehearsed the piece we will play at Movie Night: "Yankee Doodle Variations" by Robert D. Vandall. We also played "Alexander's Ragtime Band," as well as several other pieces. We rehearsed the two pieces we will play at Randy's for the HumanLight ceremony: "In the Bleak Midwinter," and "Go Tell It On the Mountain."

This afternoon, we went to Jenks and did the YRE (year-round event) there. The weather was mild -- a perfect day for a walk. Our club sponsors seven YREs. You can walk each for credit once in the first six months, and then again in the last six months of the year. We have walked three of the walks so far in the last half of the year. We have walked Keystone, the Promenade Mall walk, and the Riverwalk in Jenks. We have four more to do if we want to walk all the walks our club sponsors for this year. Occasionally we do walks sponsored by other clubs. In the first half of the year we walked only four of the seven. Two of the walks are out of the Tulsa area: there is one in Bartlesville; one is in Galena, Kansas.

When we got home from the walk, I found a package had been delivered by UPS. It was a book of piano duets I had ordered. The title of the book is "We Love a Piano." It contains 15 duets, including "Peg O' My Heart," and "Satin Doll." All of them look to be great. Gail originally had a copy of the book. I decided to buy a copy after looking through hers.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr. Rapacki. I am glad my back is better. Having back pain is a real bummer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

HumanLight approaches

As November draws to a close, it is time to think about HumanLight, which for us in Tulsa, will be observed on Saturday, December 19. If you are unfamiliar with HumanLight, please watch the video (link below).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Food & Fellowship 11.28.09

This photo was taken today at The Rice Bowl on S. Sheridan Rd. From left going around the table are: Bob Noble, Bill Dusenberry, Dave Tinney, Dawn Bradley, Randy Bradley, Jan Nerren, Barbara Frey (not visible in this photo), and Marilyn Clarke. I was seated next to Marilyn and took this photo.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

This Thanksgiving Day my sweet wife and I fixed a dinner for nine. There were Gary and Adra Dobbs (Jennifer's parents), Jon Dobbs (Jen's brother), Nick and Jen, Luke and Ayla, and, of course, the two of us.

With my wife serving as the primary chef, I did some of the less glamourous work: pealing potatoes, making tea, stirring gravy, etc. The crowd assembled around 2 pm. We had to run the dishwasher three times to get all of the pots and pans, dishes, and silverware clean.

Later on in the day, I began indexing. I marked up one chapter tonight. After I get it entered into the indexing program, I will be at page 309. My deadline is December 4. I have a week left to get it ready. The fun part comes at the end, once all the terms have been entered into the index. It is at this point that I find that I need to make revisions in order to make the index internally consistent. I will make a number of refinements to improve the index. Having the manuscript on a searchable pdf file really helps. When I began indexing (in 1996), file disks were not provided. With the document on a pdf file, you can locate every appearance of the word in the text.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adding Site Meter to your blog

I just checked to see who is reading my blog. How do you do that, you might wonder?

First, you need to add Site Meter to your blog. Google Site Meter and read about this free service. Instructions on adding Site Meter will be given. Follow the instructions and you should have a Site Meter box at the end of your blog. If you click on the site Meter box, you should see a screen with some options. Click on Location, and a list of cities with the ISP number of each user should display. I currently receive around 10 "hits" a day. I have about three regular readers: Marti in Tecumseh, John in Tupelo, and Galen in Rialto. You can tell what search words were used to find your blog. Other information about the users is displayed, also.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I did not get around to updating my blog last night. So here goes:

Yesterday began with a two-hour duet practice session with Gail. We looked at some of the new music Gail bought in Springfield, and we also practiced the two pieces we will be playing at the annual Winter Solstice gathering at Randy's this year. Gail and I have another video ready to upload to YouTube. We recorded the video a week ago but have not had time to upload it.

My Christmas present from my lovely wife was delivered by the postman on Monday. It is a Kindle e-reader. I have been getting familiar with it. It is lightweight and your stored library can be taken with you as you go places. It is no longer necessary to tote a load of books; take your entire library of 1,500 volumes with you as you travel.

It is also possible to highlight text as you read. You can add your own notes also as you are reading. For the English major, this device is the greatest thing since sliced bread. There are six font sizes. You can select the one you wish to use.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday reading the user's manual. The Kindle has a built-in wireless receiver, making it possible to download a book from the Kindle Store in about a minute. Most titles sell for about 10 bucks. Many of the older classics sell for peanuts. Many titles are free. I have yet to download anything. I am still learning how to manipulate the device.

I had the weekend off from indexing. I received an e-mail on Thursday informing me that more changes are being made to the text and asking that I stop and wait for new page proofs. The page proofs came on Monday. I downloaded it to a disk and took the disk to a copy shop and had them print the pages.

Yesterday evening my lovely wife and I attended the annual Thanksgiving service at Broadway Baptist Church. There were nowhere as many people this year as last year. Maybe that's because the service was held on a Monday instead of on a Wednesday or on Thanksgiving Day itself. On the way home, we stopped at Chinese Express and took some food home to eat.

Today the Fex-Ex truck came by the house and gave us a package with our church pictures in it.

I need to say that the new medicine prescribed by Dr. Rapacki has relieved my back pain. I am now pain free. I don't know what brought on the pain, but I am glad it is gone.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back home again

We are back home once again. We left on a short trip to Springfield, MO on Friday morning, early. We had the alarm clock set for 5:30 am. It was still dark when the alarm went off. We got up and loaded up the car and drove over to Victor Ave. in Tulsa. There we picked up fellow freethinker and piano duet partner Gail and headed for Skepticon II in Springfield.

We stopped first just across the state line in Missouri at the tourist info center. I had brought my GPS receiver with me, and the three of us went looking for a cache. We found the cache right away. It was inside an army ammo box about fifty feet into the woods at the back of the travel center. We also looked for another cache, but we did not know exactly what we were looking for. It turned out to be a benchmark, but we did not know that until later. Had we known what we were lookikng for, we might have found it. Instead we gave up looking for it.

We arrived in Springfield about 11:00 am. The events were held on the campus of Missouri State University. Several well-known skeptics were at the conference, including D.J. Grothe, Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Joe Nickell, Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, P. Z. Myers, and Rebecca Watson. We registered for the conference and ate lunch in the student dining area in the student union.

The conference began with a student debate followed by a debate between some of the speakers and some local people representing the theist point of view. The topic was "Does God Exist?" The debate was carried on at a high level of respectable discourse. At the 4:30 break, we went over to the Arbor near where my parents live. We three checked into the motel for the following two nights. We went by my parents' apartment where Gail and I played "Birch Tree Rag" and "Irish Air" for my parents.

When we got back to the campus, we heard J T. Eberhard speak on "Why do we criticize religion?" There was a 10-minute break and then we heard P.Z. Myers talk. Myers is the 2009 recipient of the Humanist of the Year award.

While most attendees went out to the Fox and Hound pub following the Myers talk, the three of us went to the Red Lobster for our evening meal. I had the broiled fish platter.

The next day, Saturday, we went back to campus and heard D. J. Grothe introduce the speakers for the day. The first was Victor Stenger, who spoke on "The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason." Next was Robert Price, a member of the Jesus Seminar, whose topic was "The Gospels and Thorough-going Skepticism."

Following lunch, we heard Joe Nickell speak on "Investigating the Paranormal." After this we heard Dan Barker talk on "A Book of (Bad) Numbers."

Next we went to Springfield Music where Gail and I looked through the piano duet music available in the store. Gail bought $32 worth of duet music. That will give us a lot to keep us occupied for the near future. We ate our dinner at Logan's Road House.

Back on campus, Richard Carrier was speaking on the topic "Where the Hell is Jesus: Weird Stuff from the Gospels to the Apostles," in which he talked about a number of contradictions and absurdities found in the Bible. P. Z. Myers spoke again, followed by Rebecca Watson. I think it was around 11:30 by the time we returned to the motel.

Some of the talks may be available for viewing on YouTube. There were probably 200 people attending the conference, which was held in two buildings: Plaster Student Union, and Carrington Hall.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Food and Fellowship

Today was the day for our November Food and Fellowship. With only five of us there, listening to conversation was made easier. With a dozen people at a meeting sometimes two or three conversations are going on simulataniously. If you are speaking in one conversation, you miss out on the other conversations. I won't say that there was only one conversation going on at all times, but I left feeling like I did not miss out on as much as I usually do.

The broiled scallops at White River Fish Market are to die for. Today I ate the broiled fish platter with Spanish rice and potato salad. The plate included three scallops, three shrimp, two hush puppies, and a piece of catfish. It was a great meal.

One guy there (in his 70s) told us how changing his dentist led to an increase in his libido. At least that was his interpretation of events.

This evening, J had a meeting at the Methodist church. While she was in the meeting, I sat in the church library indexing. I am now at page 218 in the book.

After leaving the church, we went to Nick's house and stayed with Luke and Ayla while Nick and Jen went to choir practice. We learned later that the Charge Conference was still going on and that choir practice was canceled.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What my doctor said

Today we visited my back doctor. He asked me about my symptoms and I explained how I was feeling. He asked what I was taking for the pain. I told him Aleve. He shook his head and said that Aleve, along with Motrin, Ibuprofen, and a few other medicines whould be taken off the market. He said that they cause kidney failure. Now he tells me. I took Aleve back in 2006 for about six months. I think my GP said to take four a day. So I have probably consumed about 700 Aleve. Well, I'm still Don't know what tomorrow will bring.

My doctor gave me a prescription for Methylpred, which is a steriod. I have been taking it this evening, and I can say that my pain has decreased. You start with six tablets the first day and decrease by one a day until they are all gone. I suspect the medication relaxes me for I am ready for bed and it is not yet 9:30 at this time.

The doctor said to come back in two weeks for a follow up. If in the meantime, the pain gets worse, I should call him and he will set me up for a MRI. He is hoping the pain will go away on its own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Indexing and piano playing

The day began with Gail coming over to play piano duets with me. We recorded another video, which we may post to YouTube tomorrow. We selected two duets to play at Randy's on December 19, the annual gathering of freethinkers. We will play "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Go Tell It On the Mountain."

Tomorrow I will see Dr. Rapacki about my back pain, which fluctuates from a pain level of 2 to 5. I am glad to be retired. I certainly could not work this way.

I worked on the index tonight. I'm up to page 150 on the mark-up. Tomorrow I will see if I can get it typed into the program.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A trying day

Today was the day of the November HAT meeting. J and Ayla had left for church. I was making last minute preparations for the meeting. I had my things in a tote bag and headed out the door. On the way to the car I reached for my keys. They were not there. I had left my keys in the house. I was locked out.

I went to the gate on the south side of the house. It was locked up with a padlock. The gate on the north side (with a six-foot high wall) is locked from the inside. I looked over and saw my neighbor's trash cart and thought I might be able to use that to get myself over the fence. I rang his doorbell, but no one came to the door.

I wheeled his cart up to the gate and climbed on top. Mind you, I am doing all this with back pain. I put my foot on top of the gate and jumped over into my back yard. My destination was the shed in which I have a key hidden. I went to the spot where the key is usually hidden, but there was no key there. I had phoned J several times to find out where she was, but as I later found out, she had turned off her phone. I called Nick to see if he knew where she was. Nick said she had just left his house and should be home shortly.

Within ten minutes J pulled into the driveway and into the garage. As she came into the kitchen, I rapped on the back door. She opened the door and let me in. She was surprised to find me still at the house. I explained the situation to her and then went to change into dry clothes. It had been raining all this time.

By the time I arrived at Hardesty Library for the humanist meeting, I was thirty minutes late. The guest speaker, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, was talking to the group. I had forgotten to take an Aleve tablet and so the back pain was increasing. When I returned home, I took an Aleve.

Tomorrow, Gail is coming over for our weekly practice. We plan to video record another YouTube presentation.

On Tuesday, I have an appointment to see Dr. Rapacki.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Making music and indexes

I was feeling pretty good when I got up this morning. As for my back pain, I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 2. The only thing on my calendar for today was Secular Singers at Gail's house. At 2 pm I was at Gail's house for our rehearsal. I arrived at the same time as Bea. We went in and wondered where Randy was. Soon my phone rang. It was Randy. He was lost. Gail spoke to him giving him directions. In a few minutes he arrived. Our core group was all there. Sometimes we have others attend, but the four of us -- Randy, Bea, Gail, and myself - make up the core of the group.

Today we practiced our music for our annual Christmas/Winter Solstice program. We will have another rehearsal on December 5, just before Movie Night. The program will consist of about ten selections. Gail and I will play two duets, yet to be chosen.

We also listened to two selections by Jim Corbett - "It Must Be Jesus" and "I Am a Humanist." The selections can be heard on YouTube. Jim is a talented songwriter with a lot of promise.

Once we were feeling pretty good about the program, we all went home. I continued working on my index. I have the first quarter of the book done.

In the evening, my back pain increased to around a 4 or 5. I will be glad to see Dr. Rapacki next Tuesday.

A Charter for Compassion

Religious historian Karen Armstrong is working on a Charter for Compassion. For more information, go to

A call to bring the world together…

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall is in the air

It is a nice fall day today. I woke up feeling not too bad, considering how I felt as I went to bed the night before. I still felt bad enough that I called Dr. Rapacki's office to see if I could schedule a visit. I told the person I spoke to my symptoms, and she asked if i could come right in. I said I could so we headed for Tulsa. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the doctor's office.

We had the hospital in sight when my phone rang. The speaker said that Dr. Rapacki had been called to surgery. Rats! I would have to make an appontment for a later time. The person talking to me suggested 3 pm on Tuesday. I said OK.

J, always looking on the bright side, says that sometimes back pain goes away on its own. I hope that is the case.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back pain again

Everything was ok when I got up this morning. J and I went to the Methodist church, and I took a few pictures of the Seniors in Action group. There were about 25 people present to have a group picture taken. On the way home I stopped at QuikTrip to add air to the tires.

After we got home something happpened to my back. It feels as if a disk has collapsed. This problem is not likely to get better on its own. If I still feel the same way as I do now in the morning, I will call Dr. Rapacki's office and see if I can come in and talk to the doctor. Presently, I am using a cane to get around. Lying down or sitting in a chair is no problem, but walking is another matter. Instead of walking, I hobble. Moving around is painful and slow. Needless to say, I did not go walking at TCC today. I am glad I am retired and don't have to go to work. I will have to decide tomorrow whether to go ahead with Secular Singers (set for Saturday) or call it off. This is our last chance to rehearse before we sing for HAT at Randy's in December. The way I feel right now, I don't want to leave the house except to go to the doctor.

J went to the library for me this afternoon. She returned some books and picked up others. I managed to get the first chapter of Astronomers indexed today. One of the books waiting for me at the library was YouTube 4 You. It looks like the book to read to learn the particulars on using YouTube.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Piano from the Potemkin Village

Today Gail come over to practice piano duets with me. Gail and I have been wanting to find a venue where we could perform in a relaxed setting for the public. Recently, Gail noticed a piano on the upper level (mezzanine?) of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Tulsa. We thought that might be an ideal place to play for a couple hours each week, especially if the piano just sat there unused.

While here Gail phoned the hotel and offered our services. We were surprised to learn that the piano is only for show. It has no strings, no action, no keys. It is just an empty shell for show. So it is back to the drawing board on this project. We might check next with the Doubletree.

We next went to the UPS Office. I took a disc with my next indexing project page proofs on it in the form of a PDF file. I had them print off the 433 pages of the book for me. We went a few doors away to the Subway and got an oven roasted chicken sandwich and took it home to eat.

J fixed a delicacy for our dinner: spaghetti with clams in white sauce. It is one of my favorite dishes. It was delicious.

We went over to Nick's house and stayed with the grandkids tonight. We entertained them while Nick went to church for choir practice. I made paper airplanes for Luke, and Ayla did an art project with J.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Events of the day

This morning, J and I walked the Keystone YRE. It was walk number 232 for me. Before the weather turns cold, I would like to do several more walks.

In the afternoon, I placed an order for my Christmas present from J. I will be getting a Kindle from Amazon. A Kindle is an e-reader. The great advantage of having a Kindle is that you can store 1,500 books within its memory. There are now approximately a third of a million books available for the Kindle. Most books sell for $9.99 or less and can be downloaded in about one minute, electronically. There are a number of videos on YouTube describing the Kindle. Some books are even free.

Later in the afternoon, I received an e-mail from Dumbarton Oaks. Included in the e-mail was a link to a Media Fire file containg the next book I will be indexing. This is the first time I have received page proofs in this way. Always before the physical pages were delivered by UPS or US mail. Tomorrow I will go out to a copy shop and have them print the pages for me.

Skepticon II in Springfield, MO

Skepticon II will take place on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri on November 20 and 21. Below is the schedule of events.

The Skepticon events began in Fall of 2008 when PZ Myers and Richard Carrier came to the MSU campus. This Fall, Skepticon II will build on the success of the first.

So far our lineup for the event is PZ Myers, Richard Carrier, Rebecca Watson, Joe Nickell, DJ Grothe, Victor Stenger, Robert M. Price, and Dan Barker, along with local presenters Dr. Mark Richter and JT Eberhard. The speakers will provide many of the reasons that belief in god is not only indefensible, but harmful to society as a whole. Our presenters will suggest ways to combat faith in government and in general. They will also rebut many of the common arguments in defense of belief in god.

Here's the tentative schedule: This is, of course, subject to change.

Friday, November 20
11:00-11:40 - Arrival, people getting stuffs.
11:40-Noon - Welcome, thanks yous, etc.
Noon-1:30 - Panel Debate, Does God Exist? (students) 2-4 - Panel Debate, Does God Exist? Carrier, Stenger, Price vs. Dr. Bob Cook and others from the Assemblies of God. DJ Grothe moderator.
4-5:30 - Break
5:30-6:30 - JT Eberhard, Why do we criticize religion?
6:30-7:30 - Rachel Dawn-Craig (or PZ Myers #1)
7:30 - Whenever - Hang-out with speakers at a yet-undecided location.

Saturday, November 21
10-10:15 - DJ Grothe
10:25-11:15 - Victor Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
11:25-12:30 - Robert Price, The Gospels and Thorough-going Skepticism
12:30-2 - LUNCH
2:00-3:20 - Joe Nickell, Investigating the Paranormal
3:30-4:50 - Dan Barker, A Book of (Bad) Numbers
5-7 Dinner break
7-8:15 - Richard Carrier, Where the Hell Is Jesus!? Weird Stuff from the Gospels to the Apostles
8:25 - 9:40 - PZ Myers
9:50 - 11:00 - Rebecca Watson

Monday, November 09, 2009

A new humanist song

We began the day by going to the TCC Fitness Center and walking three miles and then using a couple of the exercise machines. On the way home, we stopped at Subway and bought a $5 footlong sandwich, black forest ham with the usual veggies on it.

In the afternoon, we went grocery shopping and came home and watched the NBC Nightly News. Gail called to reschedule our weekly practice to Wednesday.

I received an e-mail from a guy in Washington state who apparently is a singer and song writer. He sent out an e-mail to various AHA chapter contacts. I am the contact for the Tulsa chapter. His e-mail contained two links for two songs which he wrote and performed. Below is a link for one of his songs, "I Am a Humanist."

I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The End of America

I made two mistakes in my blog from yesterday. They have been corrected now. So if you read my blog from yesterday, you might want to reread it.

J and I were invited to Marilyn's for brunch this morning. J declined due to a church obligation. I went by myself. At 11:00 this morning I showed up at Marilyn's. Herb was there. Herb will be taking over the organizer role for the humanism meetup. We ate brunch and then went to Randy's and viewed the film "The End of America," a documentary with Naomi Wolf. It's an important film which everyone should see.

When I got back to the house, Luke and Ayla were here playing on the computer. I bought some new music while in Springfield. One item was a duet book for teacher and student. Ayla played the student part, while I played the teacher part for the song "Good King Wenceslas." There are seven Christmas pieces in the book. I also bought a book of Christmas solos by Melody Bober and another book titled "Advanced Jazzed Up! Christmas." (Yes, that's where the exclamation mark appears.) I also got a piece by David Karp for piano four hands titled "Old Man of the Mountain." This piece will be a challenge for Gail and myself due to the many 32nd notes in it.

Gail called this morning and asked if we could move our practice to another day. We will be practicing on Tuesday instead of tomorrow.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Back from Springfield

We took a short trip to Springfield. We left Thursday and spent one night with my parents. While there we saw my sister, Paula.

J is something of a computer whiz and helped Dad with his computer.

We got a late start home on Friday. We stopped in Miami after it got dark. We stayed at the Econolodge. That evening we ate at the Stone Inn Grill, a well-known steakhouse in Miami.

We left the next morning for Sand Springs and got home before noon. We attended a school carnival for Ayla's school.

Tonight was Movie Night at the Bradleys. We watched Little Miss Sunshine after Gail and I played a duet ("Birch Tree Rag") at the piano.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Day's events

We started the day by going to TCC and walking 3.5 miles. On the way home we went by Chinese Express and picked up some lunch. I had orange chicken, while J has lemon chicken. We brought it home to eat.

We showered and then headed over to Tulsa for a 1 pm appointment with Dr. Shirk at Hearing Specialists of Tulsa. Her office is near Hillcrest Medical Center. We made an appointment there because HST has a 30% discount on hearing aids through United Health Allies. Plus this place has a couple of nice features with its hearing aids that Beltone did not have. We were told it would take about a week and a half or two weeks for the hearing aids to be ready.

We went home and got all of the equipment for Beltone and returned to them. The office worker credited our Discover card with the price of the hearing aids.

When we got home, we did some yardwork. Our neighbor to the north has a maple tree in the front yard. It is dropping its leaves, some of which fall on our property. We were out with rake in hand gathering up leaves. We got back in the house and showered. Then it was time for the NBC Nightly News.

Following the news we went over to my son's house and stayed with the grandkids while Nick and Jen went to church and song in the choir. I stopped by Braum's on the way home and got a sixth-pound hamburger.

Book on the way

Note to Galen: I mailed the book to you yesterday, fourth class. It may take a few days to get to you. I do not need it back. You can keep it.

Hope you will check out

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The plumber

We called a plumber to fix a leak in our kitchen faucet. Water was coming out not only where it is supposed to but also around the part that comes up from the surface of the sink. We called the same person we have used for years, Lyle. We later found out that Lyle had retired to Arkansas. The person who answered the phone had replaced him (and he had also bought Lyle's house).

The new plumber came out and looked at the sink situation. We had wanted to sprayer repaired also (it wasn't spraying). The new plumber, Justin, managed to stop the leak but couldn't do anything about the sprayer. He advised we replace the faucet with a Delta. His bill was $87. A couple days later we were at Lowe's and bought a new Delta faucet for $115. We called him to install the new faucet, and next day he came by and started working on it.

He discovered that two different types of metals were in contact at the shut off valve and these two metals were creating an electrolysis. They were not compatable with one another. The electrolysis had caused a build up of residue in the pipe. he changed out the shut off valves and showed us the residue. He worked for a couple of hours and said he would come back tomorrow. He came back the next day (today), and worked for a couple more hours. By this time I was wishing the Lyle had not retired. I think Lyle could have done the job in less time. Justin's bill for today was $268.

Our total cost for the new faucet came to $470. I think next time we need a plumber, I will call Mullins Plumbing. Joe and Lou said that is who they use for their plumbing needs.

YouTube video

I was glad to get the video of Birch Tree Rag up on YouTube. Look for more videos from the Storey/Nerren duo in the future. (Gail gets top billing since she plays the primo part.) Playing piano is fun, but playing with a partner is twice the fun. I would encourage anyone who plays piano (or any other instrument) to find a partner to play with.

I was so tired last night that I did not post anything to this blog. However, this morning I did post about the video. This morning I also went to Beltone and got a copy of my hearing test. Tomorrow I will go to Hearing Specialists of Tulsa and talk with them.

I'm on YouTube

Yesterday Gail came over to practice, and while she was here we made a YouTube video. We recorded two takes and later when we uploaded a video I chose the better one. J recorded the video, using a ladder for height. If you would like to view the video, go to YouTube and type in the search box "Birch Tree Rag." You will see a few videos with that title. Look at the thumbnail photos and click on our picture.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November calendar

November 2009
Activities of Interest to Freethinkers

Sat., Nov. 7, 7:00 PM
Movie Night at the Bradleys, 6705 E. 54th.

Sun., Nov. 8, 1:00 PM
Humanist Study Group, Bradley House, 6705 E. 54th St.

Sat., Nov. 14, 2:00 PM
Secular Singers, Storey House, 4630 S. Victor Ave.

Sun., Nov. 15, 1:15 PM
Humanist November Meeting, Hardesty Library, on 93rd east of Memorial.

Wed., Nov. 18, 11:20 AM
ALGAE Luncheon, White River Fish Mkt., 1708 N. Sheridan

Fri. & Sat., Nov. 20-21
Skepticon II, MSU, Springfield, MO. For more info:

Sun., Nov. 22, 1:00 PM
Tulsa Atheists Meetup, Agora Coffee House, Fontana Center

Sat., Nov. 28, 11:30 AM
Food & Fellowship, Rice Bowl, 4307-B S. Sheridan Rd.

Questions? Contact Randy at 622-6975 or Dan at 798-3629.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Day of the Dead

This morning I went to church. Again, a small group was there. The talk today was on the Mexican tradition of "Day of the Dead." At one time this tradition was widely observed. It has largely died out in urban areas, but it still survives in rural parts of the country. Family members of the deceased will go to the cemetery where a loved one is buried and spend the night in the cemetery with them. When a meal is prepared, a place is set for the departed. The plate is filled with food. If the departed does not eat everything on their plate (they seldom do), the food is taken outside and left there.

There is an interesting program that comes on OETA on Sunday nights at 6 pm. It is called "Life -- Part 2." It focuses on an issue of interest to older people, people like myself. I wonder if the programs can be accessed on the Internet? I will have to check that out. I know that NOW and Bill Moyers Journal can be seen on the Internet.

Later on this month there will be a convention on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. There will be some well-known speakers there for this event. Speakers include P.Z. Myers, Rebecca Watson, Richard Carrier, Joe Nickell, D. J. Grothe, Victor Stenger, Robert M. Price, and Dan Barker. The event is called Skepticon II. I'm assuming there was a Skepticon I last year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Note to Galen

I just finished reading your blog, Galen. I don't know how difficult it is to find the book you mentioned, the title of which is Know Your Limits -- Then Ignore Them by John Mason. I will be happy to mail you my copy. Just let me know.

The book is a collection of 101 nuggets (of wisdom?). Nugget number 47 is "You Can't Get Ahead When You Are Trying to Get Even."
"Never cut what can be untied" (Joseph Joubert). When you have been wronged, a poor memory is your best response. Never carry a grudge. While you are straining under its weight, the person you are mad at is out producing.

Forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them more. There is no revenge as sweet as forgivness. The only people you should try to get even with are those who have helped you.

"Forgivness ought to be like a cancelled note -- torn in two, and burned up, so that it can never be shown against one" (Henry Ward Beecher). One of the greatest strengths you can show is when you forego revenge and dare to forgive an injury.

"He who cannot forgive, destroys the bridge over which he may one day need to pass," said Larry Bielat. The one guarantee for limiting your potential is unforgiveness. Hate, bitterness, and revenge are luxuries you cannot afford.

People need loving most when they deserve it least. Forgiveness heals; unforgiveness wounds. When we think about our offense, trouble grows; when we forgive, trouble goes.

That's about half of that essay. Titles of some of the others are: If You Are Only Looking Out For Yourself, Look Out!, The Most Dangerous Place To Be Is In the Middle of the Road, Climb Out of the Grandstand and Onto the Playing Field, and Unless You Enter the Beehive, You Can't Take the Honey.

The book was published here in Tulsa by Insight Publishing Group, which tells me it might be hard to find in California. I picked it up for fifty cents at a book sale at my local library. If you would like to have it, just let me know.

Today was Halloween. We had fewer trick-or-treaters than in years past. I noticed that some area churches had organized alternative events. That may have kept a large number of kids from being out on the streets.

I'm still trying to decide between a Kindle and a Nook. Each has some advantages the other lacks.

Braum's for breakfast

This morning we went to Braum's for breakfast. While there we read the newspaper the old-fashioned way, on paper. Recently we have been reading it on screen.

After our breakfast of sausage and egg buscuit with coffee for J and orange juice for myself (I never drink coffee), we returned home and took care of a couple of handyman projects: I sawed a board to use as a shelf, and I sawed off a piece of a chair slat so we could get the slat back in place. How the slat got out of the chair, neither of us knows. While we were in the garage, we swept it out and gathered up our soft drink cans in a large trash bag. Periodically we sell our cans to Yaffe Metals on Charles Page Boulevard. I hope to finish reading A People's History of American Empire today.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Clear day

There was flooding in Tulsa yesterday, but today the weather was clear. We went to Lake Keystone and picked up the money for the walking club. There were 17 walkers in the fourth quarter so far. I have yet to do the Keystone Walk for the second half of the year. I need to walk Keystone before it turns too cold.

From there we drove to the Lowe's in Tulsa (on Yale). We bought a new kitchen faucet set for $112. It has a high neck and a sprayer. The brand we bought is Delta, that being the brand our plumber recommended. He will be out here next Monday afternoon to install it.

After we left Lowe's we drove over to a shopping center on 51st St. There we had lunch at a Subway. From there we walked to the Beltone office. My hearing aids were back from the factory. I have until November 24 to decide if I want to keep them or turn them back to Beltone. Next Monday I will call Hearing Specialists of Tulsa. They are supposed to have a discount on hearing aids in connection with United Healthcare Allies.

After leaving Beltone, we went to Saturn of Tulsa. Cars are no longer being sold there. The showroom was empty. However, the parts department was still open. We had ordered touch up paint which had come in. We picked it up. From there we got on the Creek Turnpike and drove to Sapulpa. We got off the turnpike there and took highway 97 on in to Sand Springs.

Tomorrow is Halloween. The weather is supposed to be mild and clear, and being it is a weekend, I expect to be visited by many little ghosts and goblins tomorrow evening. Tonight J went with Nick, Jen, Luke, and Ayla to Springs Village (about a mile from here) for a candy giveaway. The event was held in the old Med-X location; however, there was such a huge crowd that they came back before they ever got inside the store.

I read a few more pages from the book by Howard Zinn today and recorded my progress on Good Reads. Do you use Good Reads? If not, go to and sign up. Good Reads is a way to let your friends know what you are reading.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rainy day

It rained today. We had planned to go to Tulsa, but it rained so much that we decided to stay home and go tomorrow. We have a few errands we need to run tomorrow -- Loew's, Beltone, Saturn.

I think I got out only twice today. First, I went walking at TCC. Then later I went to the library to pick up books.

I got an e-mail from Vicki in Houston that she had received the puzzle which I had mailed to her. She is going to send me a puzzle also to put together.

Next week I should have the page proofs for my next indexing project.

I looked again at the short YouTube video I posted yesterday. It had received more than a dozen hits. I am looking forward to recording and posting "Birch Tree Rag" with Gail next week.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting ready for our YouTube debut

I have a short video on YouTube. The video is of me playing my doumbek. This video was uploaded just as a test to see if we could actually do it. It works. The video was shot about a year ago and is of me in my office playing a rhythm on my doumbek. We will probably take the video down shortly. We just wanted to see how difficult it was to get a video up on YouTube. As it turns out, it is pretty easy to do.

Anyone wanting to see the video should type into the search box "Dan and his doumbek 145." Again, this short video was uploaded just as an experiment. We added the number 145 just to make the video easy to find.

Next Monday, Gail and I will be videotaped by J as we play "Birch Tree Rag." We will then upload it to YouTube.

In other news, I went to TCC and walked three miles around midday. In the afternoon I read some of a book by Howard Zinn.

Then we went to the Methodist Church and had our pictures taken for the directory. We also ordered about $250 in photos from the photographer.

In the evening, J and I went to my son's house and stayed with Luke and Ayla while Nick went to the church and sang with the choir.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Newberg and Waldman on the brain

Here is a quote from How God Changes Your Brain by Newberg and Waldman:
Some people put their faith in God, while others put it into science, relationships, or work. But wherever you choose to place your faith, you must still confront a deeper question: What is your ultimate purpose and dream? What do you really desire in your life -- not only for yourself, but for the world as well? And how will you begin to make that desire a reality? Having hope and faith are essential, but something more is needed: the skill and discipline to organize your brain in ways that will successfully motivate your life. Our meditation studies have provided a few basic tools that can help you achieve those goals, and if you apply them to your life, not only will you find a little more happiness, you'll bring a little more peace into the world.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm going to Atlanta

I think I will be going to Atlanta next January. In the past in January I have met my good friend John from Tupelo, MS in Little Rock for a visit. The last time we met in Little Rock was January 2006. In January 2007, I underwent a craniotomy and have not made a reunion trip since then to Little Rock. However, I am now ready to resume the annual trip to see my good friend. I have long wanted to see Stone Mountain, which is just a few miles north of Atlanta. Perhaps I will get the chance to see the place in a few weeks.

The day began with Gail coming over to practice piano duets with me. Next week, J is going to film us playing "Birch Tree Rag" by Robert Vandall. Then I am going to try to upload the video to YouTube. Our long-term goal is to play at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Tulsa.

We had a plumber come over today and fix the faucet at our kitchen sink. It was squirting water at the place where the neck comes through the surface of the sink. We had a deteriorated O-ring which needed to be replaced.

This evening I went to the Prices' home for drumming. I told them about my vacation and about a couple of YouTube finds.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Events of the day

The first thing I did today was go to church. Another small group was there. Patrick has left and is now going to All Souls. There were just six of us there. I expect some day to get a call telling me that the church is no more.

Today was "Heretic Sunday." Some Protestant denominations celebrate something called "Reformation Sunday." We celebrate "Heretic Sunday." It is a time to remember those who were called heretics and perished by being burned at the stake. Since we have no minister, Betty Morrow read a sermon written by Suzanne Meyer who is a Unitarian minister somewhere out west (Colorado?). It was an excellent sermon. It is available online. I might look it up and print out a copy.

Following the church service, I went to the Tulsa Atheists Meetup. I opened the meeting and soon turned it over the Kenny. Today was my last meeting as Organizer. I have now resigned as Organizer of Tulsa Atheists Meetup. I resigned as well as Organizer of Tulsa Humanism Meetup and the Liberal Action Network. I could not take the constant complaining from my wife about my activities. So I am backing out of everything.

It is time to launch out in a new direction. There are other things I can do. I will need to make new friends and get involved in new activities. I think this will be a major turning point in my life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Food & Fellowship at Lanna Thai's

Now that Barbara F. is back from Michigan, we went by her apartment and gave her a ride to Lanna Thai's restaurant. It was the day for our October Humanist Food and Fellowship. There were eight of us there. Gail has been looking for a public venue in which we can play piano duets. She noticed recently that there is a grand piano in the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly Adam's Mark). She will contact someone there and see if they would like to have a duet team visit occasionally and play piano.

After the meal was over, we took Barbara by an apartment she is considering moving into. Her daughter and son-in-law will be moving from California to Tulsa before the end of the month and will be living with Barbara. She will be moving out of University Club tower and into a duplex. She will miss the view she now has of Tulsa from the twentieth floor of the tower.

While we were there, one of her next-door neighbors came over and was most helpful telling her about utilities and other matters.

New song discovery

My friend Dan Cagle (living now in Pryor) sent me this link to a bluegrass song. I like the philosophy it expresses.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tulsa Town Hall and a Movie

Today J and I went to a Tulsa Town Hall event at the Performing Arts Center. There was a large crowd there. I would guess about 1,500 people. Today's speaker was Rory Kennedy -- the youngest daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. Rory Kennedy is a filmmaker, specifically of documentaries.

When J stepped into the ladies' room she saw Gail. They chatted briefly and J returned to where I was. We sat up in the nosebleed section. The speaker was barely visible, being so far away. We attended the event thanks to being given tickets by Bill D., who is away on vacation.

We were going to park in the parking garage, but it was closed. I don't know if it filled up or was being used for some other purpose. We parked in the lot to the east of the PAC (Performing Arts Center) for $5.

Maybe it was because we were seated so far away, but the speech seemed a bit dull to me. Rory showed clips from a few of her documentaries and spoke a bit about each one.

After we left the PAC (which took about 20 minutes), we went to the AMC 20 theaters to check on the time of the next showing of Capitalism: A Love Story by filmmaker Michael Moore. We had an hour before the next showing, enough time to go up the street to Saied's Music Co. I went in and looked around, but I did not see any new piano duet music. I'm always on the lookout for new piano duet music.

We returned to the AMC and bought tickets and went inside. There were only a few people inside the theater. I thought the movie was great. It does seem that the middle class is disappearing. Will the people ever decide to revolt against the one percent who controls more of the wealth in the country than the bottom 95% combined? Stranger things have happened.

When we returned to Sand Springs, we stopped at the Crescent for supper. We both had the all-you-can-eat catfish dinner. We watched NOW and Bill Moyers Journal to close out this busy day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another hearing test

The day got off to a good start with the mailman bringing us a package from my cousin Vicki, who lives in Houston. She had made us four bibs, two apiece. Now when we go out for barbecue, we can strap on a bib and not worry about dripping barbecue sauce on our clothing. Many thanks, Vicki, for making these for us.

I went to TCC and walked three miles. I set my MP3 player to"Shuffle" and listened to a variety of music as I walked.

I took another hearing test today. The test was given by Cleartone. Cleartone clearly has a larger operation, at least in the Tulsa area. When we were at Beltone, we were the only clients in the building, and there was only one employee at that location. When we walked in to Cleartone, there were almost a dozen people in the waiting room. I saw at least a half dozen employees there. Whereas Beltone was located in a strip mall, Cleartone had their own stand alone building. Free cookies and coffee were available for clients. I scarfed down a cookie while filling out the paperwork.

Pretty soon a woman steps out and calls my name. (The setting had the feel of a doctor's office.) We walked back to exam room number 12 and sat down. The lady (the nurse?) left, closing the door behind her. Soon a man in a white lab coat (the doctor?) walks into the office and asks me why I am there. I said I want to get a second opinion. It seemed an approprite response to me. So we talked for a while and then he gave me the hearing tests. It was similar to what had taken place at Beltone, but not exactly the same. Both tests showed that in the upper frequency range, I do not hear as well as I once could.

After the tests were finished, we went to the Promenade Mall. We had lunch at the food court. After lunch, we walked across the mall to the nearby "As Seen On TV" store, which specializes in products you see advertised on TV. I wanted to try a hearing aid I saw on TV which looks like a Bluetooth mouthpiece. I bought one for less than twenty dollars. It amplifies sound without distinguishing between various pitchs of sound.

Next we went to the Penneys store where I bought a new pair of walking shoes -- New Balance.

I forgot to mention that when I got up this morning, my tooth problem was gone. I hope it doesn't come back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Batteries and more

Wednesday evening one of my hearing aids had exhausted its battery after only a few hours. Natalie at Beltone said if I found I had a problem with battery life to bring the devices in and she would send them back to Beltone for repair. So that is what I did today. We returned to devices to Beltone. That stopped the clock on the 30-day trial period. Tomorrow I have an appointment at Cleartone in the afternoon.

We noticed a leak in our kitchen faucet. Water was gushing up from around the base of the spigot. Maybe it just needs a new washer. So tomorrow we may be buying a new faucet and have a plumber install it. You have to be something of a contortionist to install a faucet in the kitchen sink. There is always something to be fixed with home ownership.

Tonight for the first time I noticed a bit of pain from a tooth. It seems to be coming from a tooth with a crown. My gum is swollen at the base of the tooth. I will need to call my dentist tomorrow morning and see if I can get in for him to see me. One a scale of 1 to 10, I would say the pain is at level 3.

I went walking this afternoon at TCC. I did the usual three miles. I listened to a CD titled "Ikon" by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen. It is one of my favorite CDs.

Glad Hearts of the Ozarks

This musical ensemble goes by the name Glad Hearts of the Ozarks. We saw them and a few other acts perform while we were at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas on the evening of October 4, 2009.

Tomb of Abraham Lincoln


This picture was taken at the botanical gardens in Springfield, Illinois.

Piano, hassle, and puzzle

Gail came over yesterday for our weekly piano duet practice session. Monday is usually our practice day, but we moved it to Tuesday this week as Gail had something planned for Monday.

We went to see Natalie (hearing aid specialist) and had the aids tweeked a bit on Monday. They are still not working right. I have had to change the battery in one of them twice since we were at Beltone on Monday. Tomorrow I have an appointment at ClearTone. What a hassle!

Note to cousin Vicki: the size of the puzzle when assembled is 12" X 9". I will wait until I hear again from you before mailing it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Running around town

I seems like I did a lot of running around Tulsa today. The first thing we did was check the Internet for information on hearing aids. I have 30 days to decide whether to keep the devices I got from Beltone or to return them for a full refund. I scheduled an appointment with Clear-Tone to see what price they might offer me. Beltone wants $5,154.56 for their hearing aids.

We went back to the Beltone office and talked with the representative. She made an adjustment in the devices because the shuffling of papers was annoying to me. It seemed to drown out other sounds. They work better now.

(Dad, if you are reading this to Mother, you can skip this paragraph.) Next, we went to the Red Lobster where I bought a gift card for my Mother for her birthday. She will be 87 years old on Wednesday. Then we went to the dollar store and bought a birthday card for her.

I also bought a couple more recorders in case we have more people who want to play with the Secular Singers in the future. I bought a pack of six whistles which I thought the Secular Singers might use for our upcoming Christmas Concert. They may or may not be useful. Since they were only one dollar for the pack of six, a bought a pack. I have yet to try them.

Also, I bought a small jigsaw puzzle. Vicki, you may remember a few years back when I mailed you a puzzle without the box and asked you to assemble it. Would you like another challenge? This one is a snowscape. It contains three geese, two cardinals, one snowman, one barn, and one shed. The lamp is in the upper left hand corner, and the frozen lake is in the lower right hand corner. The Christmas tree is near the frozen lake. The puzzle contains just 100 pieces. Think of it as a means to ward of the onset of Altzheimer's.

(Dad: Skip to next paragraph. ) Next we drove to downtown Tulsa and put the card with gift certificate in the mail at the main post office.

I thought my page proofs for my next indexing job would arrive today. If they don't come tomorrow, I will call the editor and ask about them.

This evening I returned a couple of items to the library. In the library, there is a shelf where donated books are sold to raise money for the library. I saw a couple which interested me, and I bought them. Hardback sell for one dollar; paperbacks for 50 cents. I bought one of each. The hardback book is titled Ta'i Chi in a Chair: Easy 15-Minute Roputines for Beginners. It is a series of exercises you can do sitting in a chair. Each exercise is accompanied by an illustration.

The other book is a softback. It's title is Know Your Limits -- Then Ignore Them. The book is a collection of 101 "Nuggets of Truth." Some of the nuggets are : Don't End Up Like Concrete, All Mixed Up and Permanently Set; If You Wait Too Long, the Future Is Gone When You Get There; The Purpose of Life is to Have a Life of Purpose; and If You Have a Desire, Distance Doesn't Matter. These sould like sermon titles, don't they Galen?

It is about time for Leno. I will post more later or tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today's events

Today I attended the Sunday morning service at Church of the Restoration. How much longer can this church continue? That is the question on everyone's mind these days. There were only seven in the service this morning, and that included the lay leader and the pianist. My guess is that the church will have to fold before much longer.

Following the service I went to Barbara F's apartment and gave her a ride to the Humanist meeting at Hardesty Library. Barbara said one of her daughters from California would be moving to Tulsa. Both her daughter and son-in-law are now unemployed. Her son-in-law is a photographer. He shoots weddings and similar events. His business has declined with the general economy.

Barbara speculated that since she is now 84 years old that her daughter is moving closer to her mother, in what is most likely her final days. When Barbara left for Michigan earlier this summer, she told everybody goodbye as if it were the last time she would see us.

At the HAT meeting today we heard a speaker from the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance. We talked some about a possible role for humanists in the organization.

On the way back to her apartment, Barbara and I stopped at Wendy's since we were both hungry. Barbara reminisced about her earlier days and about her father who she greatly admires. She retold the story about her brother, the Presbyterian minister, who on his deathbed asked Barbara if she would be returning to Christianity. Barbara said "No."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Riot reminders

Yesterday I went walking at the TCC Fitness Center. I did three and a half miles, which brought my weekly total up to seven. While walking I listened to music by Respighi, one of my favorite composers.

Later that evening, I watched the NBC Nightly News, and then I watched NOW with David Brancaccio followed by Bill Moyers Journal.

This morning I did a 5 K volkswalk in the Greenwood District. Greenwood is the site of the infamous "Race Riot" of 1921. I put the words in quotes because it was more like an attack on a helpless people, the black citizens of Tulsa. Even a private plane got into the act by strafing the citizens below. Death estimates range from 60 to 600. Several square blocks of the city (all in the black part of Tulsa) were destroyed.

The Greenwood District was very prosperous before the massacre. As you walk along the sidewalks you will see metal plaques imbedded in the concrete sidewalks indicating where certain businesses were located. A barber shop here, a dry goods store there; grocery stores were along Greenwood Avenue as well. Archer Street was the dividing line between white Tulsa and black Tulsa. Greenwood was called the Black Wall Street. Many of the destroyed businesses never rebuilt. Many blacks fled the city never to return.

Today's walk was number 231 for me. I hope I can reach 250 by the end of the year.

Lincoln Museum (exterior view)

This is the exterior of the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Deleted blog entry

If you checked this blog in the last few hours, you would have seen a picture of my wife inside the Lincoln Museum. Once my wife learned of my putting her picture on the blog, she made me remove it. She does not want a picture of herself on the Internet. That's why I refer to her by J instead of her name.

View of Hannibal

This is a view down one of the main streets of Hannibal. At the bottom of the photo is a statue of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A sip of tea

Here I am taking a sip of tea on the riverboat cruise up the Mississippi River from Hannibal. The cruise last two hours. We went upriver a little ways and then returned to where we had set out. We had dinner (buffet style) on the cruise.

Why I Aged Ten Years Today

Yesterday at noon, a group of Move-On supporters gathered at 41st and Yale to demonstrate on behalf of healthcare reform. I was among the group of 40 at this intersection. The weather was not the best. It had been dreary in this part of the state for the last two or three days. The skies were overcast and a fine mist was coming down.

Last night I attended the Mid-Month Social gathering sponsored by Tulsa Atheists Meetup. There were eight of us there. This will be my last social gathering as Organizer. I will be resigning shortly after the main meeting (fourth Sunday) for October. Kenny N. will take over for me.

The social was held at the Rib Crib on Sheridan. I had the all-you-can-eat two meats and two sides for $10.99 plate. It was great. I probably put on a couple of pounds in the process.

This morning I was listening to Diane Rehm on the radio. The program was on taxing soft drinks. I am going to try abstaining from soft drinks for a while to see if it makes any difference in my weight. I now weigh 238 lbs. as of Wednesday. When I got out of the hospital, soon to be three years ago, I weighted 206 lbs. I eat out a lot and when I do I always order Dr. Pepper to drink. I am going to start drinking water instead.

Today we went to the Beltone hearing aid center in Tulsa. We both had our hearing tested. I knew I had a hearing loss before we went. The worker checked our hearing with many tests. I had received hearing aids from a doctor I went to about two years ago, but I returned them. Today I got another set of hearing aids. That is why I feel like I have aged ten years. I do occasionally misunderstand words and have to ask the speaker to repeat them for me.

Hearing aids are a high tech device these days. The ones I have come with three settings. I haven't played around with them enough to discover the difference in the three settings yet. I feel like I could have gotten by without them, but J has been after me to get them for quite a while. They cost about $5,000.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In St. Charles, Missouri

This photo was taken in the Magpie Restaurant in St. Charles, Missouri. From here we drove up to Hannibal.

Lovelace plaque

Above is an image of a plaque I carved for the Lovelace family some 30 years ago. I'm glad to see it is still being displayed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

At Jim and Kay's Farm

Here is a picture I took while at the Lovelace farm north of Troy , MO. This is an old barn just southeast of the home.

Daily activities

This morning I returned a video to Popingo's on 41st Street; returned "Considering Democracy" to the Pratt Library, and then went over to Same Day Auto Repair for an oil change in the car. Went I got home, I went back out to get two pulled pork barbecue sandwiches from Papa Pat who was parked on the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart location.

This afternoon, J went to the dentist. When she came home, we went to the polling place to vote on a school bond issue.

Tonight I will go to Zarrow Library for the October meeting of the Liberal Action Network.

On Michael Moore

When I got up this morning (rather late, but hey, I'm retired now), I checked my e-mail. One of the things in my inbox was an e-mail from filmmaker Michael Moore. (I'm on a list he maintains. You, too, can sign up.) His films have done very well, and as a result, he has become a millionaire. But to focus on his personal wealth at the exclusion of his message is to chase a red herring. I would hope that viewers of his films would zero in upon his message. There is a chance I might see his new movie later on today.

Meanwhile, here is what Michael Moore had to say this week on his blog:

This week, the new 'Mike & Friends Blog' section will be added to In additional to my blog, I have asked a few people, like Rep. Marcy Kaptur (the Democrat from Toledo who has deservedly become the star of my movie!) and Leah Fried (who helped organize the sit-down strike at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago), to blog here on my site. Here's a sneak peek of my first blog post. Enjoy! -- MM

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Pilots on Food Stamps
By Michael Moore

We're on the descent from 20,000 feet in the air when the flight attendant leans over the elderly woman next to me and taps me on the shoulder.

"I'm listening to Lady Gaga," I say as I remove just one of the ear buds. I know not this Lady Gaga, but her performance last week on SNL was fascinating.

"The pilots would like to see you in the cockpit when we land," she says with a southern drawl.

"Did I do something wrong?"

"No. They have something to show you." (The last time an employee of an airline wanted to show me something it was her written reprimand for eating an in-flight meal without paying for it. "Yes," she said, "we have to pay for our own meals on board now.")

The plane landed and I stepped into the cockpit. "Read this," the first officer said. He handed me a letter from the airline to him. It was headlined "LETTER OF CONCERN." It seems this poor fellow had taken three sick days in the past year. The letter was a warning not to take another one -- or else.

"Great," I said. "Just what I want -- you coming to work sick, flying me up in the air and asking to borrow the barf bag from my seatback pocket."

He then showed me his pay stub. He took home $405 this week. My life was completely and totally in his hands for the past hour and he's paid less than the kid who delivers my pizza.

I told the guys that I have a whole section in my new movie about how pilots are treated (using pilots as only one example of how people's wages have been slashed and the middle class decimated). In the movie I interview a pilot for a major airline who made $17,000 last year. For four months he was eligible -- and received -- food stamps. Another pilot in the film has a second job as a dog walker.

"I have a second job!," the two pilots said in unison. One is a substitute teacher. The other works in a coffee shop. You know, maybe it's just me, but the two occupations whose workers shouldn't be humpin' a second job are brain surgeons and airline pilots. Call me crazy.

I told them about how Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger (the pilot who safely landed the jet in the Hudson River) had testified in Congress that no pilot he knows wants any of their children to become a pilot. Pilots, he said, are completely demoralized. He spoke of how his pay has been cut 40% and his own pension eliminated. Most of the TV news didn't cover his remarks and the congressmen quickly forgot them. They just wanted him to play the role of "HERO," but he was on a more important mission. He's in my movie.

"I hadn't heard anywhere that this stuff about the airlines is in this new movie," the pilot said.

"No, you wouldn't," I replied. "The press likes to talk about me, not the movie."

And it's true. I've been surprised (and slightly annoyed) that, with all that's been written and talked about "Capitalism: A Love Story," very little attention has been paid the mind-blowing stuff in the film: pilots on food stamps, companies secretly taking out life insurance policies on employees and hoping they die young so the company can collect, judges getting kickbacks from the private prison industry for sending innocent people (kids) to be locked up. The profit motive -- it's a killer.

Especially when your pilot started his day at 6am working at the local Starbucks.