The Shadow

IMG_7939 2I have been following the winter scenes on Campus for the last few days.

I have often thought that I wished that I had taken some winter photographs with snow and ice and now I have some.  I am afraid that the bitter cold of this winter, thus far, is more difficult to portray…but until just a couple of days ago, it was a presence that you could wear like an overcoat.

I noticed many more students walking between buildings this afternoon.  It is finally a few degrees above freezing.

SIU is a full of people…and at times can be a lonely place.

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So often, we are consumed with out own lives and personal agendas and either afraid or do not know how to begin…or are not interested in reaching out to our fellow human beings…that, in all likelihood feel the need for human interaction as much as we do.

I regularly pass students who are looking at their smart phones, in the midst of hundreds of their fellow University Travelers.

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I read, the other day, that some professors and staff and students have comprised a committee to examine chancellor Montemagno’s restructuring plan.  They have broken into four working groups and are looking for individuals who will be committed to academic research as to the benefit, or lack thereof, of the chancellor’s plan.

Now, this is a very worthy enterprise and would seem beneficial in an academic institution and will probably be time consuming…and then what?

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Will the academics and the staff and the students then exclaim a plan that will work to turn the University’s enrollment around?

Will they subsequently stand behind their administrative endeavor and take responsibility for the problems that may be associated with it?

I have been a member of several University Wide Enrollment Committees.

Two of them were; The Committee for the Undergraduate Experience and Southern @ 150.

Another, was a Blue Ribbon Committee commissioned by Provost/Interim Chancellor Dunn that had over fifty members.

Comprehensive reports were written.  I have the copies.  Agreements were made.

Little to no action…was taken.

Action is stimulating!

Actively working to ameliorate our enrollment problems can be a catalyst to sparking additional energy and moxie and the ‘will’ to do what needs to be done.

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I have known several chancellors and a president.

They are lonely jobs.

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Management and administration are lonely jobs…when they are done sincerely and done right.

I was a manager for over twenty-five years.

I felt lonely… many times.

I passed the chancellor today on my walk.  He does not know me…but I recognized him.

He looked lonely…to me.

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‘We Are the Ghosts of the Future’

A sobering statement from the movie, Planetarium, ‘We are the ghosts of the future.’

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The movies was about two sisters who began their careers as mediums and who appeared on stage in Paris.  Although the movie had relatively poor reviews, I enjoyed it.

It looked at the concept of contacting those who have passed on or died…and if there was any validity to the idea.

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A more popular movie, that was made around the same time as Planetarium, was Personal Shopper with Kristen Stewart in the title role.  Ms. Stewart’s character is attempting to contact her deceased twin brother who died suddenly of a heart attack.

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Both movies, intelligently, examine the question that is on everyone of our minds…is there life after death?

I spoke with a friend, recently who is not a year older than me, and he asked me if I ever thought of my mortality.  This is a friend that I have had since I was a teenager.

I replied that I did not…but shortly thereafter…that changed.  He said that he thought of his mortality…daily.

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After my wife’s uncle passed away his wife said that she often saw him in their home and that she spoke to him.

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Lauretta went on to say that Merle regularly smiled at her…but that he did not speak.

I often reflect on the generation that preceded me.  My stepfather Earl and his love of the zoo.  His goal was to visit the zoo in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He often announced the he was going and that if my mother did not want to go…she could stay home.

Earl never got to visit the Knoxville Zoo.

Earl loved to visit the St. Louis Zoo.  He would suggest that we visit, usually in the spring, and we would do so…usually in the summer.

The traffic in St. Louis scared Earl…in an explicit manner.  He would announce to the car load of us…that if he ever got out of St. Louis alive that he would never come back to this terrible traffic city again!

The next year we returned…usually in the summer.

My mother loved her home.  She and Earl purchased it for $1,500.00 and almost totally remodeled it and built…the new room from the derelict outline of the front porch.

She adored the New Room.  It was all done in red and black…her favorite colors.

To hear Mom speak…you would have thought that she lived in a mansion.

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My aunt Guelda lived in St. Louis for many years.  She was twenty years older than my mother.

Guelda was from the first set of children that my Grandmother had with Mr. Quinn.  There were five Quinn’s, of which Guelda was a member, and five Askew’s, of which my Mom was a part.

Guelda seemd Jewish to me.  Her first marriage was to, Lou, who was a Jew, and she seemed to me to look and have the, wonderful attributes of a Jew.

It has been my feeling, for most of my life, that I am part Jewish on my mother’s side of the family.

Guelda visited my Mom, in Eldorado, Illinois, from St. Louis and she was wearing fur coats and pearls and was glamorous.

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Guelda and Lou, knew the popular entertainers, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and they travelled in society circles and were financially well off.

When I asked my aunt Guelda how it felt to meet and know Bob Hope…she replied that he was just a man and that he put his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.

I sat in the audience at the Civil Service Council Meeting, earlier this month, and watched with pride the good work of the members and the president and my old friend, Elizabeth, and thought that I am, now, just part of the crowd…and I would not have it any other way.

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And, so, we have our short time upon the stage of life..and as I told my friend who was the chancellor…it matters not if you are helping one person or thousands…it simply matters that you are making someone’s life better.

Let us not be to satisfied that we understand what comes after death…the Jewish Faith is not.

Have you been there and come back to inform us?

I do feel, strongly, that no religion has cornered the market on the after life and that when we experience it…no one will be more surprised.

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Spring Semester

IMG_7862I remember, over twenty years ago, as I traversed the ice covered and bitterly cold Campus of Southern Illinois University on the day after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

I almost fell on the ice, three or four times, and it was in the single digits, temperature wise, and I decide that I would try again on the second day of class which was Thursday.

IMG_7817 3I am amazed at the quality of snow and ice clearing that has occurred on the SIU Campus over the past few days.

I first experienced the various parking lots of businesses around town and was so disappointed to see that there had been little to no snow removal or ice melt applied.

Our Mall, which would be the premier retail establishment in our small city…looks like, virtually nothing has been done.  I can recall the time, not to long ago, that the Mall management would have been all over the remediation of snow and ice on their parking facilities.

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My friend and former colleague, Brad Dillard, and his wonderful Grounds Maintenance Staff, have done yeoman’ work over the past ice storm and snow storm and Arctic Temperatures…such as have not been seen in our area of the country for twenty years.

IMG_7827I was thinking of my Buddy, Ira Tripp, and the laughs and good fellowship that we had the other day at a Civil Service Council Meeting…and then…almost immediately thereafter his working, along with the entire Grounds Department, untold hours, in order to make the Campus safe for our students and staff and faculty.

IMG_7860Having worked on the Campus for over thirty-two years, I have witnessed, on many occasions, the herculean work that the members of the Grounds Staff put forth in the most difficult of conditions.

IMG_7863I like chancellor Montemagno.

I like him and I will tell you why.

The chancellor regularly recognizes the work of the dedicated professionals of Plant and Service Operations.

IMG_7883I was on Campus today…it was ten degrees…with a chill factor of four below zero.

Have your ever spent much quality time in temperatures as low as today?

The dedicated technicians of the Grounds Department spend countless hours in these dangerous temperatures to ensure that the mission of the Southern Illinois University goes forward unimpeded.

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A Free Country Requires a Free Press

Yesterday, Mary Jane, Aaron, and I saw the movie, The Post.

The Post is about the Washington Post publishing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

‘The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study prepared by the Department of Defense, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945-1967.  The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study; they were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of the New York Times in 1971.  A 1996 article in the New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration ‘systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress”.   Wikipedia

After the initial New York Times publication of some of the Pentagon Papers they were prohibited from publishing further by a Federal Judge.  Daniel Ellsberg, then, took the Papers to the Washington Post where, after, considerable debate and fear of, perhaps prison, Katharine Graham, the Post’ owner, decided to publicize the Pentagon Papers.

The Supreme Court heard the case involving both the New York Times and the Washington Post and decided in a ruling, 6 to 3, that the Papers could be publicized.

Justice Black, wrote in his opinion, that ‘freedom of the press was intended for the Governed not the Governors.’

The Pentagon Papers, clearly illustrated, that the Presidents who were involved in sending our young men to war…and many to their death…knew for several years the the war was unwindable.

 

I saw Daniel Ellsberg at the Wham building on the Campus of Southern Illinois University in the mid 1980’s.  He was giving a lecture in Davies Auditorium.

Those in power prefer to have their decisions not questioned.

There is a feeling, among many, in our Country that we have to blindly trust those who we elect to leadership positions.  That they know best and that we, the people, cold not possibly understand the intricacies of the decision making process that our presidents have to undergo.

The lies surrounding the Vietnam War were perpetuated by both Democrat and Republican presidents.

History has shown that the preponderance of the reasoning for continuing with the War in Vietnam was the desire for each president to not be the one who lost the War on their Watch.

Yesterday, a false Ballistic Missile Alert was broadcast in Hawaii.  The people on the islands, that are the nearest state to North Korea, were devastatingly frightened.  It was over twenty minutes before the error was corrected.  Many who endured the mind numbing mistake said that it illustrated how unprepared that the government was for a nuclear attack.

 

Just as quickly as the mistaken bomb warning occurred in Hawaii…is just how fast a real nuclear bomb warning will occur.

There will not be a long period of time to hide from the devastation…that is how our governments have designed these weapons of mass destruction.

Measuring who has the Biggest Nuclear Button…is not the answer.

 

We all have our own philosophy of life.  We have different views of faith and politics and what constitutes a proper attitude toward life.

But as former President Kennedy said, ‘Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s future.  And we are all mortal.’

 

‘First Amendment – Religion and Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, our prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

 

‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’  is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them.  When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new ‘clothes’, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid.  Finally, a child cries out, ‘But he isn’t wearing anything at all.’    Wikipedia

 

 

Silence is a Frightening…Acceptance

‘Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as ‘shithole’ countries.’   NBC News

‘Trumps comments were first reported by the Washington Post, which said the nations referred to by Trump also included El Salvador.’   NBC News

‘Two sources briefed on the conversation say that during the portion of the conversation about Haiti – which came at the top of the exchange that led to the ‘shithole’ comment – the president questioned why Haitians should be given consideration.  ‘Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,’ he said, according to sources. Someone else in the room responded,  ‘Because if you do, it will be obvious why.’   NBC News

Have you ever felt that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?

Often, when I am confronted with blatant racism…it seems not only unbelievable that I am hearing such virulent and hurtful and ignorant comments…but also it does not seem possible that the person who is uttering the vile statements could possibly believe what they are saying…and witness their pride regarding their racist views.

‘Today is the eighth anniversary of the Haitian earthquake that killed over two hundred thousand people.’   NBC News

Haitians fought alongside Americans during our Revolutionary War.  There is a monument to their bravery in Savanah, Georgia.

The president, during his racist comments, stated that we needed more immigrants from Norway.  Norway is a predominately white nation.

There was a leader in Germany, during World War II, that had similar views regarding race.

Six million Jews went to the gas chamber…in his vision of ethnic cleansing.

Africans have been a part of the United States…since before it was the United States…we brought them over by force… as slaves.

Every positive move forward, that has occurred in our country has been facilitated by immigrants…of which we all are.

African Nations have both extreme wealth and extreme poverty…much like the United States.

They do not live in huts!

The Haitian people are some of the strongest and most resilient people on the face of the globe.

People of Color have been vital and are participants in every aspect of progress and innovation and courage in the American Experiment.

Forty percent of our armed forces is minority.

Countless thousands of African Americans and Latinos and Haitians have given their lives for the dream of liberty and justice and freedom that the Statue of Liberty promises.

Over 800 ‘Dreamers’ are in the United States military…right now.

The silence of many of our elected leaders is deafening.

Where are the statesmen and stateswomen of the Republican Party?

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Where are the leaders of principle that will not countenance racism…whoever is guilty of it?

The president made crystal clear his racist views when he was running for office.  There should be no surprise.

The surprise is…how many Senators and members of the House of Representatives set silent…or attempt to explain the president’s despicable racist remarks as illustrative of his passion to allow only the right people in to the United States.

I watched a Twilight Zone episode where a racist and bigoted individual joyfully spewed his xenophobic remarks until he entered an alternate universe where he was minority and thus persecuted and marginalized and hurt and abused…because he was not a member of the majority.

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Have you ever felt what it is like to be marginalized?

Have you ever been made fun of or belittled.

Have you ever been a member of the minority, in life, and the members of the clique or the ‘in group’ looked down on you and was satisfied that they were better or smarter… or that God loved them in a special way?

Have you ever been bullied?

Have you ever experienced someone describing your entire race in negative terms.

It is terrible when anyone is guilty of racism.

It is chilling when the president of the United States is…and there is silence by our elected leaders!

The Sleeping Giant

‘When Delyte Morris came to Southern Illinois Normal University in 1948, he had a vision that the institution could be much more than a teacher’s college.  He succeeded.’   The Southern Illinoisan

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‘He basically worked night and day for 23 years to promote SIU’s development,’ Katsinas said.  ‘It was his life – and manifestation of good social works embedded in his Methodist faith.  He had much help, including his right hand Charles Tenney, a good board leadership, too, that included John Page Wham.  He specifically looked for good curricular department heads and deans who could build strong academic programs, and who were intrigued by the opportunity to build something from scratch.’   The Southern Illinoisan

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‘Katsinas said while Morris’ resolve was strong he did not have unanimous support.  He said Governor Adlai Stevenson II did to support the ambitious undertaking and appointed board members to deter Morris.  He said other universities were not the biggest fans of Morris either and eventually changes in the student population, particularly surrounding the Vietnam War protests, took its toll on him.’   Southern Illinoisan

‘But his resolve paid off for the region and students who were looking to get a fair shake in higher education.  Under Morris’s leadership the university became one of the first institutions to be accessible to students with disabilities.’   The Southern Illinoisan

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I was talking with my friend, Elizabeth, yesterday, and reflecting on the untapped potential of the ‘Sleeping Giant’ that is Southern Illinois University.

The potential for greatness is unlimited for SIU and it is only the limitations of our own bias and narrow thoughts that will stop us.

Chancellor Montemagno propose to have a School, among the University divisions,  that is focused on Homeland Security.  This is thinking for our present time and is an outstanding idea!

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The Chancellor wants to maximize our strengths and minimize our weakness.

He wants to demonstrate that we are still, ‘A city that is set upon a hill for all the world to see.’

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Carlo wants to unleash the ‘Sleeping Giant’ of academic potential that is straining at the bits to be revealed and reveled as the renaissance of the Miracle of Little Egypt…Southern Illinois University.

If we want to attract students in 2018…we must tailor our course offerings to the needs of 2018.

The Chancellor wants to demonstrate to the world that Southern Illinois University is  as much on the cutting edge of Academic Thought as when President Delyte Morris transformed our Teacher’s College into a world renowned Carnegie II University.

You know, we can make the new chancellor an offender for a word.  We can nitpick his revolutionary ideas to death…and wait of a savior and a miracle worker and someone who is anointed to save our School…or we can accept what the SIU Normal staff and faculty accepted when a Professor of Speech named Delyte Morris came to their small and regional Teacher’s College and with the support of the School’s Community and the Southern Illinois Community…transformed a ‘Sleeping Giant’ into a national and international phenomenon!

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The decision is ours to make.  Do we want to second guess another chancellor and wait for the right one?

Do we believe that somewhere, out there, there is a miracle worker that will have a halo above their head and wings on their back?

Or, shall we accept and subsequently support a person who has risked all the he has to join with us and be a part of us and revitalize and engage and awaken… ‘The Sleeping Giant?’

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Waiting for Greatness

Over the 32 years that I was employed by Southern Illinois University I realized that there was one certainty that propelled the Institution…and one certainty that they sought for again and that was…Greatness.

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The Teacher’s College that grew our of the cornfields and coal mines of Southern Illinois…and out of the dreams and aspirations of the members of the University Community and the entire region…was and is the Miracle of Little Egypt!

I have been retired for seven years and have witnessed the continuing decline in enrollment at SIU.

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This precipitous slide has to stop or there will be no University left for us to place our hopes and dreams in.

There have been a multitude of reasons for the student decline.

The constant changing of chancellors has caused a constant changing in the Vision for the Campus to follow in order to ameliorate the enrollment problem.

The State of Illinois abdicated it’s financial responsibilities for SIU for over two years…and still is less than forthcoming with the support that is required for a State University to flourish.

Internal University Politics has damaged our great school.  Terminating qualified leaders, at times for little more reason than, ‘Spite’, has left our Campus, rudderless, in the past.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Civil Service Community wants, desperately, to see the enrollment turned around and, our SIU, enabled to return to its’ former Greatness.

I have witnessed, for many years, the endless debate as to what the problem of enrollment is and what is the best solution to turn it around.

Chancellors and Presidents have assured us that they had the answer…and then they left us in a period of a few years.

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Who are the carer employees at Southern?  Talk to them.  No one has a greater stake in the success of the economic engine for Southern Illinois.

University life is inherently about debate and discussion and disagreement and freedom of speech and thought.

But, our paramount enrollment problem will yield to the basic components that will compel people to want to be a part of any organization.

Identify with each student and take a human interest in them and their success.

Southern Illinois University will be humanized by the people that care about you.  The University is first…not bricks and mortar…but the members of the Community that reaches out to you and care about you.

Excellence in academic programs that are taught by Professors that care about their students.

I witnessed a phenomenal occurrence in the 1990’s when I witnessed Professor Jo Ann Argersinger address the students in her History Class all by name.  There were over two hundred in the Lawson Lecture Hall.

Focus on unity of purpose in the education of students.

All to often the petty divisions of university life are the focus of Campus, while the gift of our students is dis-regarded.

Many of our students come to us lonely.

Many come battling mental or emotional challenges.

Many come from dysfunctional home environments.

The University must represent a family that works together and that cares about the student and is supremely glad that they are there.

No matter what the academic structure is…the human element of working together and across academic disciplines is of absolute importance in the enrollment success of SIU.

A visionary campus leader will bring us together to utilize the knowledge and expertise of all members of the University Community for the purpose of the success of the entire School.

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’   Winston Churchill

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In Search of Churchill

Aaron and I saw the movie, Darkest Hour, Sunday.

I am a rabid Winston Churchill Fan!

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I have been intrigued in the power of his leadership of Great Britain during World War II.

The excellent movie, with Gary Oldham portraying Churchill, illustrated the dire condition that England was in when he was named Prime Minister in May of 1940 following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.

Chamberlain, who was the Prime Minister of England for the first nine months of WWII, declared after his signing of the Munich Agreement that it meant, ‘peace for our time.’

‘The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation, the ‘Sudetenland,’ was coined.’   Wikipedia

The, Darkest Hour, so expertly illustrated the almost certainty of defeat for England…if they did not negotiate surrender.

Churchill was pulled back from the brink of surrender, as portrayed in the movie, by a ride in the London subway, The Tube, and talking with London residents on the train.  When he was exposed to the extreme courage of the people of England…he knew that they must fight to the end of either victory or a noble defeat.

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The majestic power of Winston Churchill’s oratory and his unshakeable conviction of the strength of the English people…was inspiring.

Our friends, in London, have told us of the vivid memories that many Londoners have of the nightly bombing and the fear and the devastation of the Luftwaffe.

We are sorely in need of a Churchill in our time.

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We need someone who has the ability to rally the American People to rise to become their best selves.

As depicted in the film and as is born out in history…Churchill believed in the people of Great Britain and they believed in him.

Their bond was forged in the fire of War.

Indeed, our great nation…with its’ myriad of problems and divisions…desperately requires a leader that will unite us rather than divide us…and who has the motivation of a stateswoman or statesman.

Nothing else will take the simple humanity of an elected human being…and endow them with the extraordinary vision that is required for…the,  Darkest Hour.

IMG_7781Aaron and I so enjoyed seeing, Churchill’s Bunkers depicted in the film, as we had toured it during our first visit to London.

Much of England’s prosecution of the War occurred from the Bunkers.  The Bunkers had sleeping and eating facilities along with clerical facilities and a small office for Churchill.

To walk through the small and somewhat claustrophobic area that the Prime Minister of England planned War maneuvers…was sobering and inspiring.

In Search of Truth

Today, a book about President Trump’s White House, has been released.

I went to our local Barnes and Noble Booksellers, this afternoon, and it is already sold out.

Mary Jane ordered the book, Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, who has written for both USA Today and Vanity Fair.  It appears that they have sold out as well.

The President’s, former, key policy advisor, Steve Bannon, is quoted extensively in the, already, bestseller.

President Trump tweeted on January the 3rd saying that Bannon, ‘had lost his mind’ after leaving the White House.

‘Trump expected to lose the presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton and had already planned to return to private life after the campaign was over.  Wolff explains what Trump was thinking toward the end of the campaign:’   CNBC

‘Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary.  His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities.  Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement.  Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melanie Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching.  Losing would work out for everybody.  Losing was winning.’   Fire and Fury

‘Early in the Campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the Candidate.  ‘I got as far as the fourth amendment,’ Nunberg recalled, ‘before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in he’s head.’   Fire and Fury

‘Trump retreated to his own bedroom-the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms.  In the first days he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room.  He reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor.  ‘If my shirt is on the floor it is because I want it on the floor.’  …’Also he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.’   Fire and Fury

‘Bannon says meeting involving Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Russians was ‘treasonous’ and ‘unpatriotic’.   Business Insider

‘On Friday, Wolff said White House officials say the president repeats himself with alarming frequency.’

‘They’ve all tracked this,’  Wolff told Guthrie.  ‘In the beginning is was like every 25 minutes or 30 minutes you would get the same three stories repeated.  Now it’s the same three stories in every 10 minutes.’

‘When Guthrie pressed Wolff to say what that suggests, Wolff replied: ‘I will quote Steve Bannon: He’s lost it.’   People

A few days ago our President tweeted, in response to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un’s assertion that he had the nuclear button on his desk, that his, ‘Nuclear Button’ Is ‘Much Bigger’ Than North Korea’s’   New York Times

Many of the assertions in Mr. Wolff’s book have already been corroborated and many more are troubling exclamations that have been spoken throughout 2017.

So, concerns are real.

It is not about Republicans or Democrats…it is about the safety of our planet.

The New Year is in it’s infancy…do we want to end it in nuclear war?

Let us remove all political differences.  Let us remove all partisan politics…I am an Independent…but I do feel strongly regarding the viability of the human race!

I fully understand that if President Trump was removed from office for health reasons or criminal activity, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, that Vice President Mike Pence, would become the President.

It is past time for our elected legislatures, both Democrat and Republican, to step up to their sober position and seriously examine the competency of our President.

Does it really take the hurt and injury and damage of our elected legislature, both in the House and Senate, family and friends, and personal viability for re-election,…before they have the political and, Statesman and Stateswoman courage to do the job that they were elected to do and that we, the taxpayers, are paying them to to do?

Will the end of this nightmare be…nuclear fury and fire and holocaust…and the sad realization that we should have seen the signs and heard the alarms sounded and and thought more about the health of the world and the protection of the people…than or own political expediency and pocket book?

 

The Coffee Shop

I am trying something for the first time in the New Year.  Writing from the Coffee Shop.

I have thought about bringing my lap top to the Shop and enjoying the freedom of mobile writing and the inspiration of the people that pass by…for seven years.

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I am not prone to snap decisions.

We have a few coffee shops in Carbondale but Panera seems to be a busy happening place.

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Thus far the New Year is good and productive.  I have written eight pages, or the Forward, of my book.

Now I have written significant parts of books before but this one promises to be a more fluid experience as it is the story of my career at Southern Illinois University.

Mary Jane has been, gently reminding me, for many years that I could write a book regarding my experiences at SIU…and I finally decided to take her advice.  She is often right.

As I said, earlier, I often take a long time to make a snap decision.

It is cold here in Southern Illinois.  Bitterly cold.  Colder than it has been since 1998.

And, before the winter of 98’…the prolonged frigid weather for our region was 1989.

Our Boston Terriers have winter coats…but they do not like them.  Brody runs from his and then comes back into the house and shivers for several minutes.

 

As people pass the window of the Coffee Shop…they appear very cold.

Mary Jane and I, when considering a Caribbean  cruise for this year, had the option of January or the spring…the spring appeared better in September…now I have doubts about our decision.

Well, this year can be what we make of it.  I have found that there are many elements of life that I can not control.  However there is one that I can…and that is my decision on how to react to what life brings me.

Attitude is the key to happiness.

There will always be negative people who see the dark cloud hovering over their every move.  Changing a persons’ bleak outlook is an interesting challenge….but it must not take all of your time..

There is a transition to life after the Holidays.  For six to seven weeks, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, regular patterns of life are disrupted.  Now, this disruption is often a enjoyable experience, but it is not ‘Ordinary Time’ as the Presbyterian Church would say.

However, the ability to see the excitement and joy and possibilities of life throughout the year…is the road that leads to happiness and purpose in the seemingly, Ordinary Days.

 

Peace in our troubled world begins with us.

I like to reflect on the many seemingly ordinary or mundane or repetitive elements of my life that I would sorely miss…if this was the last day that I could engage in them.

Now, there is a constant stream of hungry people entering the Coffee Shop.

I hear bits of conversations about; closing on a house, purchasing a cell phone, the terrible cold, and University matters.

I just saw the former President of SIU pass by my window.  A friend of mine.

Our life is comprised of millions of Ordinary Moments and repetitive actions mixed with love and concern and challenges and rewards.

A birthday celebration has just erupted!  The singing of Happy Birthday To You…sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

Is it not great to be…in the game!