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.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes from the inside flap of a book

The last time I was at the library, there was a book waiting on me to check out. It is titled How God Changes Your Brain, and it was written by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman. I first saw this book on my last trip to Springfield, Missouri at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, not far from where my parents live. I browsed the book and decided to checked it out from the library once I returned to Sand Springs.

The following words are from the notes on the jacket's inside flap:

Based on new evidence culled from their brain-scan studies on memory patients and meditators, their Web-based survey of people's religious and spiritual experiences, and their analyses of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, therapist Mark Robert Waldman, and their research team have concluded that active and positive spiritual belief changes the human brain for the better. What's more, actual faith isn't always necessary: atheists who meditate on positive imagery can obtain similar neurological benefits. Written in an accessible style -- with illustrations highlighting how spiritual experiences affect the mind -- How God Changes Your Brain offers the following breakthrough discoveries:

  • Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress and anxiety, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.
  • Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love.
  • Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is benign and can be personally beneficial, but the anger and prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain.
  • Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain -- altering your values and the way you perceive reality.

How God Changes Your Brain is both a revelatory work of modern science and a practical guide for readers to enhance their physical and emotional health and to avoid mental decline. Newberg and Waldman explain the eight best ways to "exercise" your brain and guide readers through specific routines derived from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual practices that improves personal awareness and empathy. They explain why yawning heightens consciousness and relaxation, and they teach "Compassionate Communication," a new meditation technique that builds intimacy with family and friends in less than fifteen minutes of practice.

Healthcare Reform Quote II

There is going to be another rally in favor of healthcare reform in Tulsa this Wednesday at noon. I am hoping all of my friends who live in the Tulsa area wil be at 41st and Yale at noon this Wednesday.

Below is a second quote on healthcare reform I found while reading the website

“There’s no nice way to say it. The financial cost of health care is killing our citizens, hobbling our economy, crushing small business, and threatening the solvency of our government. In the meantime, the Health Care Industry is spending almost two million dollars a day lobbying Congress and manipulating public opinion to accept “reform” legislation that leaves a vicious, for-profit system intact. The “public option” is a trap. We need real reform that finds immediate savings, controls costs, and accomplishes the moral imperative of true Universal Access. A Single Payer plan is the only real path to a Health Care System that is socially, ethically and fiscally responsible. And yet, our elected officials refuse to even discuss the possibility of a Single Payer plan!

If that doesn’t make you mad, we recommend checking your pulse.”

Call your congress person, blog, talk to people, write the editor and stay healthy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Sunday

Today I substituted for the regular pianist at Church of the Restoration. I got many compliments from the congregation. There were only seven or eight people in the congregation today. I also sang a duet with Joy. We sang "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie.

I skipped going to the Humanist Study Group, and completely forgot about drumming. Luke and Ayla were over this afternoon. Luke seemed like he may be getting sick. I have never seen him so lethargic.

This evening I watched a DVD (a documentary) I had checked out from the library. The title is "Considering Democracy." The filmmaker traveled the world asking people about the United States and democracy. She wanted to see the United States from a foreign perspective. It is a very good film, and I would recommend it to others.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Secular Singers

Today we had our monthly meeting of Secular Singers for October. Gail was obliged to assist a friend of hers who was getting out of the hospital today. We moved the venue to my house. Only two others could come today: Bea and Joy. So the three of us sang songs as I played the piano and Joy played guitar.

Tomorrow Edna, the church pianist, will be away, and I will substitute for her. The hymns I will be playing are "I'm On My Way," and "Our World Is One World." The special music will be "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. Joy and I will sing this selection as I play the piano.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Duet practice and poetry

Today was a cooler day than we have experienced in quite a while. I guess it it time to put away the shorts and bring out the jeans. I have been wearing a jacket today every time I went out.

Gail came over today and we played duets at the piano for two hours. I had been away from the piano for almost three weeks but didn't do too badly. Gail brought with her some new music she had acquired, and I had a few new pieces I had come by myself. So we played a lot of new music today.

I did not make it to the Fitness Center today, but I need to get back into the groove of walking.

This evening I went to the poetry group meeting held at Border's Bookstore. There were seven of us there. Tonight we read poems by Robert Frost. I read to the group "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "After Apple-Picking," and "The Tuft of Flowers." Next month we will read poems by Eavan Boland. I am unfamiliar with this poet.

I learned that if you are a member of AARP and show them your membership card, you can get a discount of 10% on books.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flu shot

Yesterday we took our Saturn to the dealership for a oil change. We had an appointment for 11:00. Once the car was ready to go, we went looking for the Visiting Nurses Association. It turns out they were in a different building than the last time we were there. They had moved to the Fontana Center, 51st and Memorial. It think this time was the fastest ever, as far as getting in, filling out the form, sitting down for the shot, and getting out.

After we got the shot and were heading for the door, I saw a sign which said "Ask about a vaccination for shingles." So I asked the nurse nearby about the shingles vaccination. She said to me, "You are not eligible. You have to be 60 years old in order to get the shot." Well, that remark made my day. I told her I was 61 years old.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Travelogue continued

I had better write down my memories of our recent vacation before they fade away. The last time I added to my record of our vacation with the laptop computer was in Springfield, Illinois. Ever now and then on this trip we would do some geocaching. We searched for caches around Welsh and around Hannibal. We also looked for a few in Springfield, Illinois. and later we searched for some in Cape Girardeau.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Following our tour of the Vachel Lindsay home, we went to Oak Ridge Cemetery, burial site of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's tomb is impressive. A large obelisk towers over the tomb. You walk into the crypt. You follow the hallway until you come to the tomb. There sits a man whose job is to watch over Lincoln. (Someone once tried to steal Lincoln's body.) Also buried in the tomb is Mary Todd Lincoln, and two (?) of Lincoln's sons. There was also a geocache in the cemetery.

Vachel Lindsay is also buried in the cemetery. We searched for his gravestone but did not find it. It was raining and we did not want to linger. We headed south down I-55.

Along the way we saw a sign which read "Mother Jones Monument." We decided to check it out. It is located in the town of Mt. Olive, Illinois. We followed the signs to a cemetery just outside the town. We drove into the cemetery and noticed a grave with a large stone. It was the grave of Mother Jones. We took a few pictures and moved on down the road. (I took almost 300 pictures on this trip. I will post some later.)

We stopped for the night at the Drury Inn in Festus, Mo. As we checked in, the clerk asked if we would like a drink card. I had not heard of this before and asked what that was. I was told that I was entitled to three free drinks at the beverage bar. We each got a drink card and later got a glass of White Zinfandel wine. The wine was okay, but we passed on the other two drinks. The next moring we enjoyed our continental breakfast of suasage and pancakes before heading down I-55 to Cape Girardeau.

Cape is the home of Kenny and Donna Wallace. Kenny is J's brother. J has five brothers, two, of which, are now deceased. That evening we all went out to a Mexican restaurant near his house. We spent two nights in Cape Girardeau. The second day there, we drove up to a place where Kenny had bought some property. It was bordered on one side by a creek. It seemed to me more like a river than a creek. You can judge for yourself, when you see the picture.

We went looking for a cache in the area, but we were unable to locate it. However, the search for the cache led us to an interesting bit of geography. Next to a Catholic Church is a grotto. The grounds are well-kept. The stations of the cross are there along with other statuary. There is an underground stream which empties into a pool of water. The water then flows back under a boulder. It is a very pretty place. Next we moved to a spot where Kenny comes to fish.

On the way back, we stopped at a small grocery store where Kenny knows the proprietor. Kenny bought some polish sausage and took it back home. Donna, who had stayed at home, had been working on our evening meal of chicken and dumplings. We ate and then returned to our motel room following a few hours of conversation.

We left the next morning, heading for the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. The Folk Center is out in the middle of nowhere, it seems. When you are driving there, the last twenty miles are slow going. You see a sign which reads something like "Warning: The next twenty miles are steep and trecherous." That is no exaggeration. At times you can go no faster than 20 MPH. Talk about being isolated, it is.

The Ozark Folk Center is a little gem hidden away in the Ozark Mountains. The Center is an Arkansas State Park. We checked into Dry Creek Lodge on the park grounds. In the evenings, performers put on a show for two hours in the large auditorium. We saw four or five musical acts that evening. Each act was an ensemble made up of players of guitar, mandolin, bass fiddle, piano, etc. The concert that Sunday evening was gospel music. The groups sang and played everything from Amazing Grace to The Great Speckled Bird. I enjoyed the close harmonization displayed by the singers. The concert ended around 9 pm.

Afterwards, we went out to a Pizza Inn and had sandwiches. We returned to our cabin and slept well in the cool mountain air.

The next mornimg we headed back to Sand Springs, stopping at Colton's in Harrison for a meal. We arrived home exhausted. I think I drove the entire trip. Once home we had some catching up to do. The next day we picked up our mail. I went out to Keystone Lake and picked up the receipts for the walking club. I went by the HAT box which I had not checked in almost a month. I also got a haircut which was long overdue.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Vacation travelogue

We departed Sand Springs around 11:30 yesterday (Monday). Instead of getting on the turnpike, we followed Route 66 up to Vinita. Realizing I had no map with me, I went into a nearby Wal-Mart and looked at a map to find which road I should take to get to Welsh. We were in search of the gravesite of Ma Barker, notorious outlaw from the early years of the twentieth century.

As arrived in Welsh, we noticed the sky growing dark. The first cache we looked for had the keyword “Alcatraz” in it. I store my coordinates by using a keyword from the cache name. “Alcatraz” was located in a park near a school. The cords led me to an open area with two nearby trees. I searched to big tree, while J searched the smaller tree. J found the cache in the smaller tree. The cache was a log only cache, meaning there was no room for trade items. The cache container was nothing more than a log rolled up and placed inside a small tube about an inch in length and about the diameter of a pencil. It was attached to the tree by a short piece of cable tie.

The wind was picking up as we returned to the car. We noticed drops of rain in the windshield. The rain increased in both strength and quantity. Soon we were in a deluge of rain. We headed for the cemetery where Ma Barker was buried. It was difficult to see much further than 25 feet in front of the car. We arrived at the cemetery gate, but did not get out of the car due to the heavy rain. Instead we hit the road going west, driving all the while at about 30 MPH. We arrived in Miami and decided to stay the night at the EconoLodge Motel.

This morning as I sit in our motel room, we are planning on returning to the cemetery outside Welsh.

When we got up the next morning the weather was better but not great. The temperature was cooler, but there was a light mist in the air. We went to the office where a free continental breakfast could be had. I fixed myself two Belgium waffles; J ate a bowl of cereal.

We loaded up the car and hit the road back to Welsh. Back at the cemetery, we lifted the chain holding the gate closed and went in. My GPS indicated the gravesite was about four hundred feet straight ahead. We walked in the direction the arrow pointed. It led us to some graves in the back of the cemetery. There they were: the Barker gang. All below ground now. Their graves were separate from the others in the small cemetery. Ma Barker died in 1935 along with one of her sons. I think they died in a shootout. There was only one stone. It marked the grave of Herman Barker, who died in 1927. The other members of the Barker gang (4 or 5 others) were marked only with a 5X7 card.

The cache information indicated the cache could be found near the stone for Herman. We looked for it but did not find it.

Next we drove into the town of Welsh. The town is so small it does not even have a McDonald’s. In fact, we saw no restaurant at all. We sought out two other caches but found nothing.
We headed east on Highway 10. We passed through Miami, Commerce (hometown of Mickey Mantle), and Quapaw. All three towns are within a radius of six miles I would guess. We continued on toward Baxter Springs, Kansas, just a few miles north of Miami. There we found three geocaches along the roadside. We passed through Baxter Springs and on toward Interstate 44. I believe this is the first time we have traveled to Missouri from Oklahoma and never got on an interstate highway.

We stopped at Red, White and Blues – a barbeque joint we often eat at when we are in Joplin. It is about a mile off the interstate on Rangeline Road. Even though we were seated in the non-smoking section, the air quality was poor. I asked to be seated elsewhere. The waitress accommodated my request. The air was a little better there. You don’t appreciate Oklahoma’s prohibition on smoking in restaurants until you travel to another state which does not have the same rules.

From Joplin, we drove on in to Springfield. We stayed the night in my parents’ apartment. While here I went to Springfield Music and bought three pieces of piano duet sheet music.
Today was the third day of this vacation. We stayed in Springfield, Mo. for the day. J worked on Dad’s computer, while I read a magazine. In the afternoon we went to Golden Corral, except for Mother who stayed at the apartment. I filled up on catfish at GC.

In the afternoon we went to the AAA office and got some tour books for Missouri and Illinois. We also stopped at a store called Book Castle (a used bookstore) or something similar and looked at the books. J bought three books for our grandchildren. I didn’t see anything I was dying to have.

Tonight I walked with Dad as he made his round through The Abbey. When we reached the west side we took the elevator down to the first floor. There is a small lending library there. By small I mean maybe 150 volumes. I borrowed three volumes and brought them back to the apartment.

Michael Moore was on the Larry King show tonight. We watched the show. I want to see Moore’s new movie called “Capitalism: A Love Story” in October. I have seen a few other films by Michael Moore and have liked them all. Tomorrow we plan to head toward St. Louis.

We drove to Troy, Missouri today. When we got to Rolla the heavens opened up and we got drenched. We have seen plenty of rain on this trip. When we got to Troy, we went directly to Kay and Jim’s farm. The farm is about ten miles north of Troy. We bypassed St. Louis by taking highway 47 north from St. Clair. Hwy 47 goes directly to Troy.

When we arrived at the farm, Jim showed us a plot of flowers he was growing. He has some Zinnias that are very high – around seven feet high. Jim had built a trellis for his tomatoes. The trellis was large enough that you could walk through it.

Today we drove down to St. Charles, the point of debarkation for Lewis and Clark on their voyage of discovery in 1804. I learned that St. Charles was the first capital of Missouri. It served as the capital for just a few years in the early 1800s. While in St. Charles, we found four geocaches. Two were virtual caches; the other two were small and micro size. One cache was inside a shrine built to honor a saint. I believe her name was Duchesne. We looked over the grounds of the shrine, which also housed a school. While in Troy we stayed at the Lexington Hotel.

This is our second day in Hannibal, hometown of Mark Twain. Twain is one of my favorite writers. His novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called the greatest American novel. I would agree with that assessment. While here we have toured the structures associated with Twain. We also went up the river on a dinner cruise for two hours. Today we attended a presentation by Richard Geray as Mark Twain. Afterwards we strolled the streets and went in some shops which were open on this Sunday evening. Tomorrow we move on the Springfield, Illinois, Abe Lincoln country.

It has been a while since I updated this record of our vacation. I’ve been too busy with various activities. I have enjoyed geocaching some of the time. I found a few caches in Illinois and a few more here in Missouri. Before we got to Illinois, I found a few in Oklahoma and Missouri. One thing we have not done is to go volkswalking. When we get back home I will have to resume my habit of walking. I have gone almost two weeks with no exercise, except for what I pick up incidentally – which I don’t count.

When we arrived in Springfield, Ill. The first thing we did was go to the botanical gardens. We saw and hear the carillon in the gardens. There is a labyrinth (of sorts) in the gardens. It is not a conventional labyrinth. It looks like a labyrinth that someone started but gave up on. We went through a building on the gardens with various displays.

That afternoon, we checked in to The State House Hotel just across from the state capitol building. We found parking to be scare in downtown Springfield. The hotel has parking, though, so we would often go on foot to see the sights. We trekked down to the Lincoln Museum and spent a few hours there seeing the exhibits. I have visited three other presidential libraries/museums (Clinton, Eisenhower, Truman), but I think this one tops them all. Perhaps it is the period in which Lincoln lived – the Civil War period – that lends itself to such high drama. The museum utilized the latest high tech gadgetry to tell the Lincoln story. For example, in one of the theaters a short film or maybe presentation about 15 minutes long is “shown.” I’m having trouble saying what I saw because at times it seemed like I was watching a film and at other times it appeared to be a person alive on stage. Anyway, whenever the presentation comes to a close, the speaker fades away. Whatever is behind the speaker becomes visible through the speaker. The speaker slowly fades out leaving the scenery with no speaker. I don’t know how this trick was pulled off.

On another day we toured the old capital building where Lincoln served in the Illinois state legislature. Across the street were the law offices of Lincoln & Herndon. We took the tour through that building also.One day we toured the home of poet Vachel Lindsay. We saw the bed on which Lindsay came into this world, and upstairs we saw the bed on which Lindsay exited this world. He lived for 52 years, and his early exit may have been due to a mental illness he suffered from. He committed suicide by drinking something poisonous. Our tour guide, Marlene, did an excellent job of bringing Lindsay to life.

(To be continued)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Back home again

I have been away for two weeks on vacation. While away I took notes on my activities using the laptop computer. Tomorrow I will post some of my notes on this blog. Stay tuned.

We got back home around 7:00 pm. I stopped by the library which had a couple of items for me. We also stopped at Braum's and got some milk.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Vachel Lindsay

Here is one of my favorite poems. It was written by Vachel Lindsay of Springfield, Illinois. Did you know that Lindsay was born in the same house in which he died? He was most likely a manic depressive. His mother gave birth to him in the bed on the first floor. At age 52 he took his own life by drinking poison in the bed on the second floor directly above where he was born.

Two Old Crows

Two old crows sat on a fence rail.
Two old crows sat on a fence rail,
Thinking of effect and cause,
Of weeds and flowers,
And nature's laws.

One of them muttered, one of them stuttered,
One of them stuttered, one of them muttered.
Each of them thought far more than he uttered.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle.
One crow asked the other crow a riddle:

The muttering crow Asked the stuttering crow,
"Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?
Why does a bee have a sword to his fiddle?"
"Bee-cause," said the other crow,
"Bee-cause,B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B-cause."