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Friday, May 20, 2016

Sympathy from a Bulldog


Today was the first day I manged to walk the 3 mile loop around the neighborhood that Daisy and I used to walk for exercise. I tried to do it a couple of times before, but always turned back. It just didn't feel right without Daisy snuffling along by my side. It was just too sad and I couldn't stand it.

Today I made the loop successfully and as I came down the last stretch, someone came out to meet me. I'm not sure what her name is, Princess or something, but she'd come out of her yard before when Daisy and I walked by. She is overweight, old and infirm; an American bulldog as sweet as you could ask for. Just getting down the hill from her yard left her panting and exhausted. But she was a game little thing and always wanted to follow Daisy and I on our walk. I used to keep a spare leash in my pocket in case we met her and had to walk her back home when she inevitably followed us. I'd return her to her family so they could take her in so she couldn't wander off after us again. I was kind of afraid she'd have a heart attack if she tried to keep up. She certainly wanted to go with us, though.

Today she spotted me and came waddling down the hill to meet me. I stopped and the two of us sat down in the little drainage ditch and I scratched the back of her head and talked to her. I explained about Daisy not being with me anymore. She rubbed her big slobbery head against me and seemed to be offering me her sympathy. I walked back to her front door and got her safely home, then I turned homeward again. I felt lonelier, but in an odd way better.

My hands smelled pretty doggy and when I got home I washed them, almost regretfully. I have this feeling God nudged the old girl out to drainage ditch because this lonely old guy was missing his friend today and needed a sweet old doggy head to scratch. It would be just like God to do that.

© 2016 by Tom King

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Here's What a Real Superhero Looks Like

 
Irena Sendler and one of the children she saved.

Half the TV shows these days are about people running around in capes and tights and constantly ruminating on what it means to be a "hero". I have to laugh. What's so heroic if you are invulnerable and can shoot fire out of your eyes?  I mean really. Here's, in my opinoin is a real hero!

 

Irena Sendler didn't wear tights. She had no cape. She possessed no superpowers - just a hero's heart. She was up for the Nobel Peace Prize, but they gave it instead to Al Gore for his fraudulent global warming slide show. Here story is incredible. She died shortly after Gore won his Nobel, tended at the end by a nurse she had once smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto when she was just six months old. She did it under the nose of the Gestapo, carrying the little girl in a tool box. She had trained her dog to bark to cover up the sound of the baby crying. She and her dog deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. I do believe God can hardly wait till the moment when he can take these loving, kindly and courageous people home to be with Him.  

Someone needs to come up with a way to honor people like this - true heroes, not pretend ones in colorful costumes, but real ones with toolboxes full of babies.

© 2016 by Tom King

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Puff Was NEVER a Pot-Head!

 © Gorbash - Flight of Dragons by Zoonar at Deiviant Art
 
Did you know that Puff the Magic Dragon was NOT about drugs? Someone asked me about that and I happen to have firsthand information on the origins of that much-maligned children's song. It turns out that There never was any other meaning than the obvious one. I can say that with certainty, because I met the Dragon's father (author of the song, Peter Yarrow) in person. Peter assured us that it was just a children's song. Jackie Paper represented the pages of a children's story, nothing more and the song was about the loss of childhood innocence.

We went to a Peter Paul & Mary concert in Fort Worth in the middle of the controversy. Peter added the following verse for that performance.

Together we can sing it
It's just a children's song

"And there never was any meaning other than the obvious one
and you can say you heard it from the dragon's father!"

Then they went  back to the chorus.

Everyone in the place just roared.

We took all three of our kids, to that concert where PP&M, Tom Paxton and Josh White all performed.  Sheila and I wanted to see PP&M just as much if not more than the kids did. The kids were raised on the Peter, Paul & Mary's children's songs and my goofy interpretations thereof, including Puff and The Boa Constrictor Song. We came early to the concert and were surprised to find Peter Yarrow out front greeting people as they came in.  He introduced himself very politely to my daughter who hugged him. He planted a kiss on her cheek. She was greatly impressed. 

Puff was written in 1958 when Yarrow was in school and before he even knew anything about marijuana. The story is really cool and can be found at this link (below). You should look it up. In any case, when the author, himself, tells me what the song means, I, for one, tend to believe him..


So you can mark Puff the Magic Dragon* "Safe" for summer camp and youth groups with confidence. You heard it from a man who heard it from Puff's daddy.

© 2016 by Tom King


*Peter does a more expanded version debunking the drug meaning mythology in this link from their 25th anniversary concert

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Trojan Horse Lesson



Does anyone else see the irony in a condom maker calling its product "Trojans" given what happened when the actual Trojans allowed that big wooden Greek horse to come in through the gate?

I just think of things like that when I'm unsupervised. It's not good.

I do think the story of the Trojans should serve as a warning to young people though. Kind of a cautionary tale. I have way too many millennial friends for someone who reads history and actually retains some of it.
 

 One of my millennial buds described Trojans as "protection" in a conversation recently. My brain immediately thought, "Trojans weren't a lot of 'protection' when they let that big wooden Greek thing in through the gates, now were they?"

My problem is I read too much history.
Dang it. Now that story reminded me of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy and I was trying so hard to get off that hobby horse. 

© 2016 by Tom King

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Appreciation



I had an unusual experience today.
It's been a terrible week. Our beloved dog, Daisy, passed away on my birthday. Sheila and I have been grieving pretty hard over it for more than a week now. Our beloved son, Matthew, received terrible news about his situation a few days later. We are both of us emotionally exhausted.

So, today, we had to take Sheila to see the doctor in Tacoma. We were sitting in the pharmacy afterwards and a lovely older woman came up and started a conversation with us. The lady, it turned out, was a grant-writer and nonprofit veteran like me.  She and I got to exchanging war stories about life in the nonprofit sector and our struggles to do a little good in the world. Apparently she'd gone up against the bureaucrat machine like I had and we evidently shared much the same history being forced to fight for the folks we served.

A short while later an elderly black man who had apparently been listening to us talk came up to me. He held out his hand and thanked me for what I'd done. I shook his hand, kind of puzzled and thanked him for his kindness. He said not many "people" would do what I had done. I think he meant not many white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Men. I'm not sure. He seemed shocked to find somebody "like me" who actually cared about seniors, people with disabilities, abused kids and low income families enough to give 40 years of his life to trying to help.

I didn't have the heart to tell him or the lady we were talking to that I was a conservative. As with most of the motley collection of assorted liberals I've had the privilege of working with over the years, the idea that I'm a conservative never quite seems to sink in with these guys. It's just too far outside their paradigm to register.

I did tell him I was a Christian. I told the gentleman that when you give your heart to God and promise Him that you will go where He leads you, there's not much else you can do other than go where He sends you. It doesn't make us better people because we sacrifice a little effort to do what's right and needful. We're better people; just people who have been made better. It comes from hanging out with Jesus all this time.  He rubs off on you. You can't really help following his example. And Sheila, my sweet wife, has been with me every step of the way. She's never let me down in all the long years we've been together and she leaves behind her a lifetime's work of her own, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and lifting up the down-trodden and weary. I am blessed that she is my partner in life.


People who try to make a difference don't hear a lot of thank-you's from the folk they work for and with. You'd think they'd be showered with accolades, but beyond a few quick thank you's on the way out the door the accolades generally go to the people that donate hard cash to the cause. Two things nonprofits and hard-working volunteers don't get a lot of is (a) profits and (b) thank-you's. Fortunately, people like me and Larry, my grateful black friend, Sheila and the grant-writing lady we met at the pharmacy don't do what we do for recognition or for profit.

It was nice to hear a spontaneous "Thanks," though. There are a lot of people out there working quietly and tirelessly to help solve problems in their communities. It's tough work, but as somebody once said, "Somebody's gotta do it." I became a conservative because in my experience working with the system, I found that big bureaucracies that run the system can be cold, cruel and self-centered. I saw very quickly that church-based ministries and community-based nonprofits are far more efficient at solvingproblems where you live instead of depending on people thousands of miles away in Washington to somehow guess how to fix your problems for you.

It never works out well that way.

It was nice to hear a little thanks though. The Apostle Paul once said, "All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose." He was also beheaded by the emperor of Rome. Like Paul, you may be trying to do the right thing by your friends, your family and your community, but most times it feels like you're not doing any good or getting anywhere even if you are trying to do the right thing. The good old boy networks are entrenched. The politicians are too powerful. The system is resistant to change. And most of the time it seems like the bad guys win.

That's the sinful world we live in. All that's decent seems to be opposed by greed, corruption and lust for power. Because of Christ's influence on us all, however, the world is also filled with lots and lots of people working as hard as they can to make the world a better place.  You may not see them very often, but they're there working along quietly unnoticed for the most part. The Scribes and the Pharisees, the criminals, the crooked politicians, and the crony capitalists hate people like that. Jesus said they would and He was right.

Do me a favor though. Even though every where you turn there are rotters, cads, bounders and more than a few monsters, once in a while, if you catch someone doing something good, stop and say thank-you. Those who resist the dark side and who toil away valiantly, mostly out of sight, trying to make things a little better in their towns, communities and neighborhoods probably feel a little alone. It would be nice if you would take the time to stop and say, "Thanks." I can tell you from personal experience, that it makes you feel like you're actually doing some good out there.

It's particularly nice to hear, once in a while, that someone notices and appreciates the effort.

© 2016 by Tom King

  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Appropriation – What’s Sauce for the Goose


I think I could rock this look!
I always wanted to do corn rows in my hair sometime or other – just for the heck of it. Now I’m afraid to lest an irate African American college student attack me with scissors. Apparently, by braiding your hair in certain ways you are “appropriating” black culture for your own nefarious white honky purposes.

I know most black people find this appropriation business stupid – at least black people I know do. I think sharing each other's culture is a kind of compliment. How do people get theft out of somebody imitating their favorite things. Imitation, they say is the sincerest form of flattery. 


In fact, this kind of phony outrage is mostly encouraged by university professors and so-called diversity advocates – most of whom are guilt-ridden white liberals.

Okay, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that my corn rows would be an “appropriation” of black culture. So tell you what. I’ll deny myself a head full of corn rows. This is a sacrifice for me. It’s taken a while to grow my hair out long enough to do proper corn rows, so it’s a real wrench for me to give up on my corn row dreams. But hey, I wouldn’t want to take what’s mine.

That said, (and you knew this was coming),  I’d like you guys with the corn rows to give back us honkies something that belongs to us. 

RAP MUSIC

You see rap music is identical to a loosely structured dipodic rhyme form known as Skeltonic or Tumbling Verse.  This form of verse has the following form according to the website Poet’s Collective.

  • Any number of lines without a Stanza break
  • Each line consist of two heavy stresses and any number of unstressed syllable
  • Lines are mono-rhymed until the poet decides to begin a new rhyme.
  • The poem should have energy and be fun.

Skeltonic Verse was invented by English honky poet John Skelton (1460-1529). Skelton was a colorful character. He was a teacher of Prince Henry, later King Henry the Eighth (the original party king). Leading the way for modern rappers, Skelton spent some time in the hoosegow.  He was also banned by the Church as a corrupter of youth.

Like rap music, Skeltonic verse has two stresses per line and any number of unstressed syllables. Every line is rhymed with the line before it – unless the poet decides to change the rhymed last word. So sometimes you’ll get 2 lines that rhyme with each other and then two more with a different rhyme. The rhymes could be repeated three or four or ten times – however many the poet decides he wants to repeat the rhyme. The rhyme pretty much goes on till the rhyme runs out of “energy”.

Given that Skeltonic verse was invented in the 15th century in England, I think it’s fair to say that the rap rhyme scheme was appropriated from ancient Caucasian culture – at any rate, we had it first. In exchange for my foregoing corn rows, I demand that you forego appropriating our white rhyme schemes.

As John Skelton would say,

If you play it loose
The sauce for the goose
Is sauce for the deuce
The goose and gander
Don’t mean to pander
Don’t get up your dander.
I want you to know
The same is so
Wherever you go
I don’t know
You can puff and blow.
But your cultural practice
The simple fact is
That history backed this
That the things we like
In front or back of the mike
Every recreation
Came from some other nation
And was an appropriation.

Peace out!

© 2016 by Tom King


 





Saturday, April 02, 2016

Ten Ways to Stop Being a Facebook Bully



You know, I thought once I was out of high school I wouldn't have to put up with bullies anymore - not the physical kind, not the emotional kind, and not the social kind. You know, you expect folk to grow up once they've gone on to become self-described adults.

Not so, apparently.

I run into bullies all the time. Fortunately, I am large enough and don't give a rip about my reputation, credit rating or social standing that I don't let them bother me anymore. Or so I thought. Turns out, however, that I'm still sensitive to bullying. I used to get knocked around in school a lot, when I was a skinny kid with good grades and glasses, so I'm kind of defensive of others I see being pushed around by the thugs of human society. Sadly, some of those bullies don't realize they are being bullies. Many of them in the complex world of today's social media are merely responding to bullying by passing it along in submission to the orders of those who are bullying them.

In school, this transference of bullying expresses itself in mob bullying. The bully would select a target, start the attack and then step back and watch those who were afraid of him participate in the bullying in an effort to appease him, or as Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan both described it, to "feed the crocodile hoping it will eat you last!"

On social media it takes a more subtle, but no less virulent form. I'm not talking about open cyber-bullying here. Everybody knows that's wrong, even those who do it. What I'm talking about is online thugs trying to force people to do things for their own amusement by making people do things to appease their own guilt over something or to do some duty they think has been forced up on them to avoid consequences they wish to avoid. 

Let me 'splain!

Here are some forms of social media bullying that you may not have realized were bullying behaviors. I'm not saying people who do this stuff are necessarily bullies. In fact, most are not. Most are victims of bullies submitting to bullies for psychological reasons. Ask yourself, "Have I participated in doing this to my friends?"

  1. Share this or else...:  This one is one of the most common types of social media bullying. In essence, it says, "Share this post" or "Like this post" or even the more complex "cut and paste this post" or something bad will happen. It may be bad luck, illness, missed opportunity to get lots of money or even death. The recipient is told to propagate this post to all their friends to prevent the negative consequence. 
  2. Share this to get rich:  You've seen those posts on your wall. Share this or like this or leave a comment and money, romance or good luck will come your way. Don't share it?  See #1.
  3. Share if you love Jesus:  This one is particularly evil. It offers a story of some miracle or some poignant situation or a Bible verse and then threatens you that if you don't pass it along to everyone on your friends list, then it proves you don't love Jesus. I don't think Jesus approves of that kind of thing, myself.
  4. "Can I get 2 million likes?":  This one involves putting up some pitiful person - a wounded vet, an sick child or a sweet old grandma and then tries to guilt you into doing some action, usually comment, share or like or a combination of these. In checking some of these, I've found pictures lifted from elsewhere on the net and then repurposed with a phony story designed to draw sympathy and guilt you into taking some action that wastes your time and energy and gets you to help promote a lie.
  5. My __________ (teacher, mother, professor, friend) bet I couldn't get...:  This one often comes with a picture of someone with something written on a white card held up in front of them. You see the same pictures over and over with different messages Photoshopped into the white space of the card. They say someone has bet them they couldn't get a thousand "likes" or shares or something or other. They probably didn't bet them squat. There are weird little people who like doing this for some reason. They probably get a thrill out of making people do things they want them to. There's no bet, you can bet.
  6. I'll know which of my friends doesn't share this:  This one is really disgusting. It makes you feel like you are letting your friend down if you don't pass this along. Only problem is your friend only posted it because she thought she'd be letting down another friend by not passing this along and so on and so on. None of them are really going to check to see if you are sharing or not. They didn't write this in the first place. They're just submitting to a bully way back up the line who is laughing at them and getting a thrill from successfully manipulating so many people.
  7. This will be a short experiment:  This ploy exploits self-pity. It purports to be an experiment to see how many people read the poster's wall. It demands that you prove you are really, truly their friend by doing something like sharing, liking, commenting in some special way or cutting and pasting the post (so it looks like it originates with you). It makes you feel guilty by insinuating that if you don't do what they demand, you aren't really their friend and who wants to disappoint a friend like that.  The deal is that whatever you do, it's going to make it look like you are the one who is pressuring friends into some time-wasting effort to perpetuate a mean spirited manipulative load of baloney.
  8. "Can we get a million likes?":   Here we go again. The perp in this case picks a sad story, a pitiful picture, a sweet child (preferably one with cancer), a wounded veteran or a sweet old lady and asks you to like the post to help reach some goal. What's the point other than racking up online time for Facebook so they can make more money from the ads they post.
  9. Share this if...:  If you have a daughter who is special, a son you are proud of, if you support the troops, want to save the whales, support some politician or want to show solidarity with some cause. People feel compelled to share this stuff because they don't want people to believe they don't love their daughters, want to save the whales or aren't angry about the same issues their friends are.  Good news. Nobody's keeping track, so you don't have to waste your time and clutter up your personal Facebook page with this junk. Nobody's gonna know. Nobody's gonna care whether or not you reposted this, except maybe your friends who have to wade through hundreds of these kinds of things in order to get to the things actually posted by their friends like news about the family, pictures or stories.
  10. Sign this petition if you care about...: There are a lot of petitions going around on the Internet these days. There are whole websites devoted to creating petitions with lots of names. Two things you should know. Sometimes they work and sometimes they have no effect at all. The latter mostly. If you feel strongly about an issue, go ahead and sign the petition. That doesn't mean you have to share it with all your friends. I almost never signs a petition that demands I pass it along to everyone I know. Because of the low chance of the petition actually working, I don't feel a lot of guilt in passing up these "opportunities".
A lot of the people who start these things are people who simply enjoy manipulating people through guilt, deception or social pressure. They sit down there in their mothers' basement at their computer screens and come up with thousands of things designed to waste the time and energy of people who actually have work to do and lives to lead. Many people feel compelled by these social cyber-bullies to participate for fear of offending someone. To those of you tender souls out there, please understand that I am not criticizing you for passing this stuff along. I entirely blame the people who start these things in the first place. I would like you to realize why you should stop giving in to them.

To the perpetrators, I say, "There are a lot of kind-hearted, caring people out there online and to manipulate and con them into doing your will is despicable and you should stop doing this nonsense."  

And to the victims, I say, to quote former first lady, Nancy Reagan, "Just say no!"

To assuage your guilt over refusing to respond to this sort of thing let me assure you that:
  1. Whoever sent you this type of post is not going to check up on you and throw you off their friends list if you don't share whatever it is or do whatever they tell you to.
  2. If they do throw you off their friends list - good riddance. Anyone who would do that simply because you didn't repost their butterfly/Kahlil Gibran quotation isn't your friend in the first place
  3. Passing this stuff along doesn't really help anybody.
Ultimately, however, it's up to you. Let me tell you this one last thing thought.  A picture post or story or quotation that YOU found or YOU made up or a picture that YOU took is far more powerful than the second-hand stuff someone else had to demand that you share for fear you wouldn't.  And if you find something lovely and original that you find particularly appealing, the do post it.

The rest of us would like to see what YOU think, what YOU believe, and how YOU are doing out there in the wide world. It is, after all, why we friended you in the first place.

© 2016 by Tom King



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Forty Two Years and Counting



Every day I get a friend request on Facebook from one or two narcissistic females who post nothing but selfies on their home page. Are these girls really so desperate for compliments that they are willing to post photos that objectify themselves? It's kind of sad. Most are pleasant enough looking girls, but is that all they've got? Is there no brain back there with ideas and dreams and passions (and I don't mean long walks on the beach and cuddling by the fire)?

Have some self-respect girls. Any man worth his salt isn't interested in a girl he can use. He is looking for a woman who is his match in every way; one who challenges him, inspires him and who cares enough about him that she takes the trouble to "get" him in a way that no one else does.

That's how you get to your 42nd anniversary like my Sweet Baboo and I did today. You find someone real who uses her brain for something besides filler for a big hollow thing to which she attaches hair extensions, applies colorful paints and hangs big dangly earrings.

And to the woman for whom I would give my life, "Happy Anniversary, my darling." I look forward to millions more.

Love always and forever,

Tom

© 2016