Thursday, April 24, 2014

Conclusion: 'It Isn't All About Gender'

Gayla D'Gaia
Gayla D'Gaia is a Facebook friend who is rapidly becoming a real friend. This morning I reposted a graphic of a woman punching herself in the face with the comment that she must be Republican. The post was about a bill that would require an accounting of all miscarriages. A perceptive and insightful Gayla followed that up with a couple of thoughtful short essays. 

Gayla says, "I am the founder of The Sacred Beauty Project - which began in 2008. It's been my passion to observe and notice what people feel connects them to the sacred in their everyday lives as well as to what people do to honor and preserve or create in order to live in accordance with what they value as sacred."

She also said this: "As you might notice from my BF posts, I value what is sacred and the reason that it comes across to me to use that word so often is because I generally feel that we've forgotten many aspects of what life really is - a sacred experience. 

" It shocked me to read the article to learn that a woman was the one behind the idea of twisting things by twisting the move to help parents heal from a miscarriage - which was a sacred gesture on the part of the Republican man who introduced it - so I reflected on why a woman being that cruel shocked me more than had it been a man.

"Here's what I learned: men are not to be trusted less or counted upon more to be heartless jerks when it comes to cruelty and political control over women because it isn't at all about gender. That whole concept that it is wacko mean spirited men who are out to dominate women is an illusion. The truth is that there is a virus that is like a terrorist within our own government and within our world. 

"This 'virus' affects the thinking of both genders and causes insane thinking that is inhumane, cruel, and void of sacred compassion, kindness, humanity, dignity, and respect. 

"That is how it appears to me - and what I am not sure of is whether there is, if I were to enter deeply enough into the reasoning behind how some of these decisions get made, if there is ultimately something I would be able to understand enough to feel true compassion for. 

"So, all I can do when I read a story about people who constitute a large enough group to gain a voice and power in politics [and] who seem so obviously cruel and vile to me, is to realize I truly do not understand ... I hold compassion for them for the simple fact that there must be some form of suffering going on inside of them that allows them to defile something as vulnerable for most people as loosing a pregnancy can be. 

"My hope is that people around them will soon come to into their greatest clarity about a way to effectively turn down the noise from people like this person and her clans."

A Lunch of Comparing Journalism Notes

That's student Andrea Siso of Houston and moi and the W&L group at lunch.
Grizzled editr pontificates.
Lunch today was a marvelous opportunity for me to chat with a group of about 15 communications students from Washington & Lee University about starting a magazine, which is one of their class assignments. The professor is my old friend Doug Cumming, who was with his attractive-on-every-level wife Libby today.

I took a look at what goes into starting a magazine business, being as realistic as possible with it, and strongly suggesting that they forego the printed version (though I don't know if the class assignment allows that). If you're interested, the text of the talk is posted on the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference blog (here). There's some good information in that talk, accumulated from a lot of years in the business.

Delightful and delicious (Nora's Cafe at the Taubman Museum of Art is one of my favorites) afternoon spent with some good friends and some very bright students. I love being around their enthusiasm and curiosity. It renews an old man.

Washington & Lee students get ready for a talking-to.

Throwback Thursday, Too: It's a Security Issue

That's your basic 26-year-old sportswriter, recently hired and ID'd by Roanoke's daily paper, long hair and all. The earring came later--if only briefly.

This is the same year I was awarded the Marshall Johnson AP Award for career achievement, which gave everybody I knew a fall-down, howling moment of levity.  Marshall gave me the first one because we were buds, not because I was exemplary at anything, save for goldbricking.

The card was interesting because it was issued in the first place. Apparently, the powers that were within our building were concerned that somebody might want to enter the building and knock a few of us off, so it instituted some policies having to do with security. I'm not sure I ever carried my ID and, frankly, this may be the first time I've seen it since it was issued.

Throwback Thursday: For a Shining Moment

That's me and my favorite ex-wife Christina relaxing on the porch of the Main Building at Hollins University, housing the Green Drawing Room where our wedding reception had just been held, August 19, 2000. We were tired and taking a moment to reflect before flying off to Oregon and our honeymoon. From the look on Christina's face, I'd say marital indigestion was on the way.

Anyhow, an explanation of the socks is forthcoming. Christina's mom, Kitty Koomen, whom I adore then and now, is a stickler for form. When she found out I was wearing a tuxedo for an 11 a.m. wedding, she nearly had a mild heart attack. So, I thought, "Let's make this good." My son, who was my best man, and I went to a soccer store and bought the brightest orange socks we could find and as I walked down the aisle, I hiked my pants as I passed Kitty. She nearly knocked me over by laughing. Didn't expect that.

It was a great wedding. The marriage not so much. But Christina remains a valued friend and that's something to celebrate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Flea Market Finds and More: Floral Artwork


Sometimes flea market finds are irresistible. Spring cleaning trash heaps at friends' houses are equally inviting. Here are two, pulled in during the past and
awaiting an assignment. They're now planters.

The first is a copper coffeepot, from my friend Leah's tossings, vintage unknown but it looks like an oldie that has been used a good bit. The lovely flowers top it off perfectly.

At the right is a big chicken (I'm a sucker for chickens) that has had flowers in it before after landing here from god knows where (probably a flea market). Now, it's back to work for the spring.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Photo Eassy: Happy Birthday Leah Weiss

Leah shows off her cake and her age.
Get ready, get set ...
... blow!
And the family approves.
Leah/Bea whack birthday pinata.
Went over to near Lynchburg this afternoon for my friend Leah Weiss' birthday and it was a grand day for her and everybody else.

A sizeable family gathering celebrated Easter with an egg hunt and Leah's 67th birthday celebration with a lovely cake, a one-whack pinata (with daughter-in-law Bea's help) and an equally wondrous meal (take a look for yourself).

And I'll say, "Happy birthday, Leah. May you have many more and may they all be this happy for you."

Here's The Real Meaning of Easter (If I May)

Here's the bunny and me yesterday at Green Hill Park during the Kite Festival sharing the love.
So today, one where Fox News finds boogiemen under the bushes executing their "War on Easter," I would like to forward a word to you from my friend Jesus, who would like for you to--in his words--"love one another."

And, of course, there's this from Romans: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law."

This is not the Second Amendment, either. It is not open to any interpretation beyond the simple stated words. We must love each other. All else is bullshit. So sayeth the lord. And me.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Photo Eassy: A Grand Day for Flying a Kite

Kite-ettes buzz around the giant kite at the festival at Green Hill Park.
It's a bird; it's a plane; it's a KITE!
Tangles happen, especially at kite festivals.
And sometimes they get hung in trees.
Some even come as kites.
Stacked kites.
Dragon Kite and Pegasus Kite.
She'd be a kite fancier.
Flags of all sorts lined the field.
TV journalist Kimberly McBroom and her young'un.
Dad photographs daughter.
Old guys can play, too.
Blanche Williams thanks Bunny for her Easter basket.
Kites obscured nearly everything else.
The Roanoke County Kite Festival at Green Hill Park west of Salem drew a surprisingly large crowd today and those taking part were greeted with brisk kite-sailing winds throughout. The temperature was moderate, the clouds keeping it from getting too hot and it looked like a lot of people were having a grand time. Here's some of what it looked like.
There was even a little 4th of July mixed in for fun.

Birthday Greeting: Madeline Goes Flamenco

Maddie strikes the pose.
Mads knows the importance of the well-turned ankle ...
... and the well-turned flamenco move.
Seems today was my daughter-in-law, Cara's, birthday and grandgirl Madeline benefitted from the celebrating. That's her with her new flamenco dress and, as you might imagine, this young clothes horse is whinnying up a storm. Looks cool, huh? Spain seems to be agreeing.

Not Much of a Threat to City Farmers Market

Veggies are gorgeous, seasonal, expensive.
Crow was a nice size this morning.
Blanche Williams talks to one of the bakers.
Healthy Stuff is a Market regular.
Because I'd heard so much about the threat being posed by a new farmer's market at the Greenbrier Nursery in the Cave Spring section of Roanoke County (near Penn Forest Elementary School), I thought it would be worth a Saturday morning trip over to see what was up.

I found a pleasant, though small, market with quite a bit of fresh produce and some wondrous baked goods. It was expensive. It was quite busy. Looked successful. One table in the tent was vacant. And, of course, Greenbrier is one of the best large nurseries in these parts.

So, I went down to City Market to see what the damage was. Didn't seem to be any. It was busy, full of vendors and the atmosphere was upbeat. Seems there is plenty of room for two, three, four or more markets in the Valley.

Best Line of the Day: Butch Jones and His Impact

"Butch Jones was more like a walk than a home run when he was hired" as football coach at the University of Tennessee a little more than a year ago.

--Will Shelton, RockyTop Talk

Photo of the Day: Maddie Does the Pool Boogie

This is my girl Maddie, doing the pool boogie, much as her dad did at her age and a bit younger.

Evan learned to play air guitar in the pool at Mt. Pleasant (remember the Blue Whale water slide? I do). He learned from the best: Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits singing "Sultans of Swing" and later "Money for Nothing."

Maddie is taking guitar lessons and has already written a song ("Leaving for Spain") at 9. The tradition continues. "Boogie 'til you puke!" Root Boy Slim said in his ... uh ... classic song.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Photos of the Day: More from Cordoba, Spain

Oz and Maddie run through the narrow streets.
Will Oz dive into the fountain?
Can I pick a flower, Mama?
Madeline flips, Oz flops in the open plaza downtown.
Never known a kid who didn't like this, especially from Sister.
Maddie emerges.
Oz considers entry.
And considers some more.
Buddies at the pool.
Finally got some pix of the grands in Cordoba, Spain, from mama Kara today and I like what I'm seeing of their experience. Enjoy. They are.

Photo of the Day: A Nice Moment for the Grands

Think the grandboy and grandgirl don't like each other? Think again.

This is Madeline and Oz taking a smooch break at their pool in Cordoba, Spain (pools are as necessary there as AC, my son says, because the average high temp in the summer is 97 degrees).

Oz nearly drowned in the pool two weeks ago (mom Kara saved his sturdy little butt), so there's some reluctance to let the little ball of energy get back in. But he'll be there soon, splashing and laughing with the full gusto of the Energizer Bunny on steroids.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Health Care Costs a Matter of National Security

There's yet another story today (here) about how far out of line with the rest of the world our health care system is and it's dramatic, sickeningly dramatic.

The conclusion of the HuffingtonPost piece is also alarming, if not at all surprising:

"Despite the persistent claims ... that America has the best health care system in the world, there's scant evidence that we're getting higher-quality medical treatment or enjoying healthier lives than our counterparts abroad. What's more, the U.S. still leaves tens of millions ... without health coverage, and will continue to do so even a decade into the implementation of Obamacare."

This has become far more than a simple matter of economics at its most basic. It is a national security issue. We are draining our wealth when there is absolutely no reason to, in order to make a few one-percenters filthy rich and a few others wealthy beyond reason, as well. All the while, the primary reason behind personal bankruptcy of our most important producers nationally is overwhelming health care bills.

I won't get into the specific examples here (the story does that quite well with charts), but I will say that the difference in costs between us and countries that have reasonable health care coverage at the government level would be laughable if it weren't tragic. I discovered recently that my $59,000 knee replacement last year would have cost $13,000 in Germany, the cost of the appliance here. That $13,000 included air fare.

The primary reason is that nobody's negotiating on our behalf, as is done with Medicare. We get lower prices that way. Europeans and southeast Asians pay a fraction of what care costs us and their care is consistently better. Even Cuba, for chrissakes, a Third World nation, has better outcomes than we do.

So what do we do? Elect Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith to two more years each in the House so this can continue unabated, that's what. Oh. It's so damn sad.

Today's Quote: Not Entitled to What?

Quotation of the day:

“They are not entitled to not be offended.”

--Brandon Dorsey, commander of Camp 1296 of the Lexington-based Stonewall Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, on Washington & Lee students protesting Confederate flags on campus and celebration of the school's namesake, Robert E. Lee, among other things (here). My friend Luanne Rife wrote a solid piece about this in Roanoke's daily paper, but I have yet to figure out the meaning of the double-negative above.

Throwback Thursday, II: On the Set of Nightline

The back of this photo tells me it was printed Dec. 18, but it doesn't give a year. Probably about 2000. This is Blue Ridge Business Journal GM John Montgomery (left), host Paul Lancaster (right) and me getting my mic adjusted on the set of Blue Ridge Public TV's Blue Ridge Nightline in Roanoke.

John and I or Publisher Jim Lindsey and I--or sometimes just I--appeared once a year for several years on BRN to talk about the previous and coming years in bid-ness, as if we had some expertise in said topic. I was editor of the mag and we had some good talks, I think. Paul kept asking us back, in any case.