1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America

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Without 1620, there would be no 1776. There would be no United States. There would be no us.

As we sit down at our Thanksgiving Day tables – which this year includes grandma and grandpa joining us via Zoom – we should consider not just what we are thankful for, but what it took to get us here.

We can turn to the Pilgrims for inspiration.

Long persecuted for their beliefs, they put their trust in their faith and ventured into the Continue Reading “1620 – A Quadrennial That Defines America”

Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community

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If you’re of a certain age, you grew up watching certain TV shows. Sure, the same thing happens today, but back when there were just three primetime networks, everyone watched the same shows.

Those weekly episodes defined your youth, your community, and our nation. For better or worse, we were all one.

It was a great feeling. To be part of one united community, no matter where our ancestors came from, no matter our differences, no matter our race, color, or creed.

It was an era when E Pluribus Unum wasn’t just an archaic phrase on our money. It was more than a mere motto; it was our unabashed philosophy.

We were all one.

And that meant something.

Something important.Continue Reading “Thoughts on Andy Griffith, Mayberry, and Our Wonderful Community”

Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)

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We’re building a detached garage. Since the time I bought my home, I had dreamed of building a detached garage. It was a dream Betsy quickly adopted, if only to create a massive storage vehicle for a lifetime of research, source material, and memories that have consumed much of the living space in our house. Soon, we will have a living room again. And a dining room. And maybe a couple of other rooms (and closets), too.

While the garage isn’t yet complete, we do have a roof and the building is adequately enclosed. A few weeks ago, we had Catarina’s birthday party in it. This weekend, we held Cesidia’s birthday party there.

Both parties were excellent. And instructive.

We had bare studs-and-plywood walls for Catarina’s party. By Cesidia’s party, the insulation had been installed (but not the drywall).

For Cesidia’s party, the garage was a nearly perfect sound room. The paper backing of the insulation absorbed all ambient noise. That didn’t mean it muffled our voices. No. When everyone was talking, it sounded like everyone was talking. You could hear each voice very clearly, but when the voices stopped, there was a dead silence.

It really perked up your attention. It also made you quite aware of everything around you. It was a full-bodied experience. Ironically, at the same time you were more attentive, you Continue Reading “Are You Trapped In An Echo Chamber? (And Why You Must Immediately Find The Nearest Exit)”

Two Wrongs Still Don’t Make A Right

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I weep for my city. I weep for my country. I weep for our ancestors who worked so hard to overcome the obvious frailty that is all humanity.

I cry for those swept aside by events. My heart bleeds for the bystanders who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. I grow sullen, knowing the damage done cannot be quickly repaired.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our citizenry that a noble cause has devolved into a self-inflicted chaos. Surely, no one believes it’s fair to punish innocents. Yet, clearly, we enable those who feel justified in doing precisely that.

None of this should have ever been allowed to happen.Continue Reading “Two Wrongs Still Don’t Make A Right”

Which Way To The After-Party?

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Following the last show of a performance, everyone involved in the production gets together and celebrates. The “cast party” has long been an entertainment tradition – from high school musicals to Saturday Night Live. It’s an opportunity for all to release the tension and anxiety that comes with acting in front of a live audience.

Other events have a similar tradition. It’s called an “after-party.” As the name implies, it’s Continue Reading “Which Way To The After-Party?”

When Did You Start Your Rosebud Quest?

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In the opening scene of Citizen Kane, the titular protagonist breathes his last breath. “Rosebud,” he whispers as he releases his last grasp of a snow globe that falls to the floor and shatters.

We then spend the next two hours reliving the life of Charles Foster Kane as reporters vainly search for the meaning of his last word. Why would the world’s richest man, a collector of antiquities galore, a prominent citizen, say “Rosebud”?

What did “Rosebud” mean to Charles Foster Kane?

More importantly, what does “Rosebud” mean to us?

In the interest of avoiding revealing a movie’s ending, I won’t tell you what “Rosebud” represents in Citizen Kane. If you’re one of the rare people who have not seen what many Continue Reading “When Did You Start Your Rosebud Quest?”

The Dog Days Of Coronavirus

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On April 21, 2020, the New York Post ran a story titled “Dogs could get extreme separation anxiety when quarantine ends, experts say.” That was four months ago. Back then, we expected the whole matter of Covid-19 to have been a memory by the summer.

We were wrong.

And the dogs of the world rejoice. (For those asking, cats don’t care. If anything, our physical proximity tends to grate on them.)

It’s almost as if this master/pet thing has been turned on its head. The dog is now king of Continue Reading “The Dog Days Of Coronavirus”

In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the (Summer) Evening

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It was about thirty years ago that I threw in the towel. After a little more than three decades of roughing it without central air conditioning, I broke down.

I have to admit. There’s something sweet about swimming in the hot muggy midsummer air. Like the reassuring aroma from your mother’s kitchen, you can smell it. Like the snuggling comfort of your favorite blanket, you can feel it. Like the glittering neon signs of the exciting night, you can see it in the twinkling above.

Yes. All the radiating vapor creates waves of transparent turbulence, only visible through Continue Reading “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the (Summer) Evening”

‘The Coming Thing…’ Thoughts on Turning 60

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OK, OK, so I admit it. This is a vanity post. I’ll be writing to you this week (and, it turns out, next week, too) in an unusually personal fashion.

Next week’s column (which was bumped a week for this week’s column) will make more sense. It’s written in a true “drama in real life” fashion. Oh, you needn’t worry. There’s very little real drama in it. But it will hold together in a way the following potpourri of random thoughts won’t.

Don’t mistake me, though. There will be portions of this mishmash very alluring. Some of it may even elicit the thought, “I’m glad someone finally said that.”

And with that, here we go…Continue Reading “‘The Coming Thing…’ Thoughts on Turning 60”

No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail

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Do you know the same tactic used by Democrat candidates to oust several long-time Republican Congressmen in 2018 was also used successfully by a North Carolina Republican to win his congressional election that same year?

It’s called “ballot harvesting” or “ballot collecting.” In a nutshell, it allows campaigns to organize staff who then gather mail-in ballots from legitimate voters and submit them on behalf of those voters.

Sounds efficient, right?

It is. Both for the voter and for the campaign.

The voter avoids the long lines on election day. The campaign gets to target constituencies more likely to vote for their candidate. In effect, it cuts out the “O” in GOTV (“Get Out The Vote”) strategies by transforming it simply to a GTV (“Get The Vote”) effort.

Here’s the odd thing, though. Ballot harvesting (or collecting) is legal in some states (like California) and illegal in other states (like North Carolina).

The winning California Democrats went on to serve in Congress. The winning Republican’s election was invalidated and he opted against running in the subsequent election re-do. All used some form of ballot harvesting/collecting to gain their electoral victories.

The inequity of this treatment has caused quite a debate. While it may seem like a partisan Continue Reading “No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail”