Monthly Archives: August, 2019

A Labor Day Fairytale!

A Labor Day from the past!

The Jazz Man

Billy B. loved Sauk Village.  The street that he lived on was full of friends.  There was Danny and Pauly on one end of the avenue and Susie and Steve, with his marionettes, on the other end of the placid tree lined road.  The front porch of his house was as long as his house and covered with a roof and the floor was concrete.  He and his friends could play on the porch when it was raining and feel secure and safe and dry.  The house in Sauk Village had a concrete drive way and part of it was covered to protect the car.  In the back yard there was a patio with a Weber charcoal grill and Billy’s dad grilled steaks and hamburgers and bratwurst on it…as well as corn on the cob and baked potatoes.

Ivy, his mom’s friend, came over daily to visit.  She was very…

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Is The Matrix….Real?

‘Are we living in a computer simulation?’

‘The question seems absurd.  Yet there are plenty of smart people who are  convinced that this is not only possible but perhaps likely.’

‘In an influential paper that laid out the theory, the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom showed that at least one of their possibilities is true: 1) All human like civilizations in the universe go extinct before they develop the technological capacity  to create simulated realities; 2) if all civilizations do reach this phase of technological maturity, none of them will bother to run simulations; 3) advanced civilizations wold have the ability to create many, many simulations, and that means there are many ore simulated worlds than non-simulated ones.’   Vox

woman wearing white robe and black virtual reality headset

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I was the Ari Melber news show last Friday and he asked two of his panelist what they thought the probability of this hypothesis was…and they answered on a scale of 1 – 10…5!  Ari responded that 5 seems high to him!

I think that anyone who has lived much of life…would find this hypothesis incredible!  If no other reason than the mountain top joys and the deepest valley sorrows that they have experienced during their walk back to Jerusalem.

When Reverend Archer pronounced Mary Jane…man and wife and  I held my new wife’s hand on March 28, 1978…that was no computer program!

When I fed my first son Aaron his first bottle and marveled at his perfection and admired his little blue knit hat…that was no computer program!

When our second born son, Jonathon, jumped out of his crib. laughing an uproarious laugh, and scampered across the floor…that was no elaborate computer program!

When Christ said…follow me…that was no simulation!

man holding sheep statuette

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Now as far as understanding God’s mysterious creation and the infinite majesty of it…we have not even started!

Here is a question…how do we ignore the poor and the needy and the hungry among us and somehow blame the immigrant who’s is walking untold miles, with their little children and their babies in tow, to flee persecution and danger and death?

girl s white and gray crew neck top holding gray wire fence

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I watched two movies on Netflix last night that covered the former Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton.  Mr. Reich is a brilliant man and a teacher and a scholar and an advocate for the poor.  He illustrated in his documentaries that the majority of the riches in the United States is held by 400 people.  No, you did not misread….400 people!  The middle class is being increasingly squeezed out of existence and the poor…wonder where their next meal is coming from.  Wages for the middle class have been flat since the 1970’s and in fact have decreased in purchasing power.  Reich pointed out that when he first came to Washington D.C. in the late 1960’s that the city of our Government, ‘was a bit seedy.’

Robert Reich soon discovered that lobbyist were beginning to work, behind the scenes, to limit and form legislation to the companies likening that they worked for.  This has gravitated to the fact that companies often wright the legislation that they want passed by the congress…and they dutifully pass it!

Reich contends that there is no reason that anyone who is working full time in the United States should not be able to achieve a middle class life style.

Why do we continue to blame the poorest among us for our social and economic maladies?

Since the 1970’s money has flowed upwards and wages for the working middle class has become flat and lost purchasing power.

‘CEOs made 287 times more money last year than their workers did.’

‘Unsurprisingly, the gap is obscene.  The average chief executive of S&P earned 287 times more than their median employee last year, …’

‘American CEOs earned a staggering $14.5 million in 2018, on average, compared to $39,888 that rank and file worker made.  And CEOs got  $500,000 bump compared to the previous year, while the average US worker barely got more than $1,000.’    Vox

Reich pointed out that governments control how free markets operate.  It is a myth that free market economies operate irrespective of their governments!

When we arrive in the next life that the creator has planned for us…we will be shocked and amazed at the truth of the real after life as opposed to our earthly preconceived notions!  I believe that it will seem so logical and yet so hidden from our earthly and human understanding.

‘Roger look beautiful.  He looked really beautiful.  I don’t know how to describe it, but he looked peaceful, and he looked young.’

‘The one thing people might be surprised about- Roger said that he didn’t know if he could believe in God.  He had his doubts.  But toward the end, something really interesting happened.  That week before Roger passed away.  I would see him talk about having visited this other place.  I thought he was hallucinating.  I thought they were giving him too much medication.  But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: ‘This is all an elaborate hoax.’  I asked him, ‘Whats a hoax?’  And he was talking about this world, this place.  He said it was all an illusion.  I thought he was confused.  He wasn’t visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven.  He described it a a vastness that you can’t even imagine.  It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.’    Chaz Ebert




Smile…It Is Almost September!

My favorite four months of the year are knocking at my door!  I love autumn!  The cooler temperatures and the falling leaves pumpkin spice coffee and the holiday season are my medicine for the year.

I will let you in on a little secret that you will not hear many people admit to….I like shorter days!  Oh yes…you heard correctly….I enjoy long nights and shorter days.  It could be something to do with the fact that I worked nearly 20 of my 32 + years at the University on evenings and night shifts.

The calm and measured grandeur of the earth at rest and preparing for its winters nap is an elixir to me and a balm for a weary soul.  There is an order and a system and a methodical purpose to life with the kids in school and Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale in full fall swing.  Life’s balance is on display when the sun filled fun of summer gives way to the quiet and studied academia of fall…with both eyes looking ahead towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.


No matter our age, a happy life is a mixture of work and play.

Oh, but, there are the ever present changes the come to our serene lives.  Some by design while others must be reacted to…and they seem to be the predominate culprits!


Often we perform the same maneuvers to facilitate hurdling a roadblock that is in our path and, sadly, receive the same negative results.

Perhaps we desire to loose weight and refuse to make any changes toward that goal?

It could be that we work for a thoughtless bully.  We continue to explain to the bully why they are the bully…and they continue to go right on down the bullying path.

Maybe we are facing a mountain and would rather burrow though it than climb it?

It has been said that the only thing that is certain about life…is change.

We can be members of a church and seeking Gods will for our future and refuse to change our way of doing things.  We may say that I have been a member of this church for 50 years and we have always done it this way!  We may point to our mother and father before us and exclaim that we are worshipping just like mom and dad did and that it worked just fine for them.  As our numbers diminish and the society around us cries out for someone to care about them…perhaps we should change our way of doing certain things?

The earth changes each season.  A tree loses all of its leaves in the fall.  The green grass in my yard withers and dies and I no longer need my mowing service.  The short sleeves that I enjoy wearing all summer yield to a sweater and then a jacket and then a coat…as the temperatures diminish from 100 degrees to 1 degree!  Change is not only real… it is dynamic!  It is the catalyst that propels we humans forward!

‘Two Coats’

‘Two coats were before me, an old and a new

I could have either, so what must I do

One coat was ugly and terribly torn

The other a new one, and never been worn’


‘I’ll tell you the best thing I ever did do

I laid off the old coat and put on the new’


‘The old coat was earthly and not fit to wear

I thought of it often and shed many a tear

Then there was a clean one presented to view

I laid off the old coat and put on the new’


‘The first man was early and made on the ground

We all bore his image, the whole world around

The next was my Savior from Heaven so fair

He gave me this new coat you now see me wear’


‘Now this coat it fits me and keeps me so warm

Its good in the winter, its good in the storm

My Savior has dressed me in garments so rare

He fills me with glory, his image I’ll bear’


Patty Loveless


Can We Get Out Of Gods Way?

I remember watching religious themed television on Sunday mornings while other families were getting ready for church.  Now this was not cable television but rather three networks and two of them were fuzzy.  One of the programs was entitled, A Lamp Unto My Feet, that was produced by CBS Television.  The programs had morality lessons based on christianity and I thought that they were great!  During my young years, before 11 years of age, we did not attend church…but I was captivated by Bible stories!  I would see these wonderfully bound books in the waiting room at Ferrel Hospital in Eldorado, Illinois that had beautiful illustrations and a narrative that was made to order for my Biblical curiosity!

grayscale photography of people raising hands

Photo by Luis Quintero on

Many years later, grown with kids of my own, I sent a card in from one of the, same, Bible story books…still found in doctor’s offices…and said that I was interested in learning how I could purchase a set of them for Aaron and Johnathon.  Little did I understand that a Bible Story book salesman was going to come to my home to high pressure sell me my beloved books!

nativity painting of people inside a dome

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We had just returned from a Gatlinburg, Tennessee vacation when what did I hear but a knock on my door.  When the old German man entered he told me that he believed that it was God’s will for me to purchase a set of books!  I, after listening to his sales pitch for 30 minutes, told him that I would think about it and would call him and let him know.  He responded that he feared that Satan would enter my heart if I did not buy the books now and that he thought that he should speak with my wife.  I assured him that my wife would throw him out if he spoke to her in such a manner as he had to me…and he gathered his books and left.

I later purchased the books and have them to this day!  I also noted to the salesman that apparently Satan had not entered my heart!


Photo by Mitja Juraja on

One of the most exciting experiences that I witnessed during my early years as a christian was the influx of about 40, primarily Jewish Hippies, to our little non-denominational church located on the Royalton blacktop road in Elkville, Illinois.  The group was comprised of some from wealthy homes and others from the middle class… and one who was an orphan and who had been homeless and slept on the streets of Chicago.

The hippie commune, which I visited and stayed over night and showered in the corn field, was at the other end of the blacktop.

We were a small church of under 100 parishioners.  When the hippies came…they not only found a welcoming and loving congregation and pastor but they discovered a family that they had been hungering for!

This church event was so unusual and unprecedented that people came from miles around to see what was going on in the little…poor church in the village of Elkville!  The young people that came became christians and  subsequently…’Jews for Jesus.’

white and brown structure

Photo by Ivan on

Religious leaders in the Southern Illinois area marveled and  rejoiced in the manifest witness of Gods outreach and dynamic magnetic drawing of his children to him…while others scoffed and criticized and turned their head and walked sadly away!

The Chicago orphan is my lifelong friend Jeff.  He and his wife live in London.  Jeff is the CEO of Genistar and works tirelessly to help others.  He has enriched the lives of countless people that come from difficult situations and life events!  I see their photos and read their testimonies regarding the difference that Jeff has made in their lives and I remember the little hippie boy…my friend….almost 50 years ago….

I spent my career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  During my over 32 years of service I interacted with thousands of students.  Many of these students come from broken homes or are latch-key children…or are battling mental and emotional challenges.  There is one overriding theme that is an umbrella over so many of these young people…they are lonely!

Pastor Archer was able to think outside the box when the 40 hippies came to his church.  I witnessed tears stream down his face as he demonstrated to them the love of a father figure.  The congregants of our little church were salt of the earth Southern Illinoisans.  They loved the lonely hippies…they did not think of the hair or the clothes…they saw their hearts!

My first hand witness of God bringing his sheep to someone who would care for them and love them…was a seminal event in my christian experience!  I understood that to follow Jesus…was to first get out of the way of what he was wanting to do with his children…and to be his representative to every hurting and lonely human being!

white sheep on plant field

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Mystery At The Fair

The Fair continues to provide surprises!

The Jazz Man

Carl and Billy B. walked out of Merlin’s tent wondering what type of tiny projector had been hooked up to the crystal ball where they had just watched the strangest, seemingly unrelated, events projected on?  The proper decision seemed to be to find Sam Malone’s Taffy stand and proceed to enjoy the best taffy east of the Mississippi river!

When they presented themselves in front of Sam he was singing his famous taffy making song: ‘Mama likes taffy and daddy likes taffy…and so does Dick and Jane…even Spot the dog like taffy!  So good….get it now….get it now!’

Sam would take massive rolls of fresh and soft taffy off of the roller with his his massive arms and hands and begin to throw the sweet confection high into the air and let it land on a large wooden table…whereupon he would turn it over and cast it into the air…

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The Fair

A evening at the Fair!

The Jazz Man

School had been in session for one week and had it ever been hot in the classrooms!  Billy Bump and his buddy Carl had been looking forward, with anxious anticipation,  for the Friday night opening of the fair.  There was customarily a parade just before the gates were unlocked to the fair grounds.  In the parade throng there were local celebrities, such as Minnesota Fats who lived just down the road, and as many politicians that could squeeze in.  The Governor was marching along with the first lady and he was smiling from ear to ear and passing out candy to the children and kissing every baby that was offered to him.  He waved with the back of his hand…much as Billy B. had seen Queen Elizabeth of England do in the news.

Leading the parade was a jockey riding a horse drawn chariot signifying the world renown harness race…

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Life can get you down.  The stress of working a job that has become more of a burden than a blessing and the overwhelming feeling that your efforts are not appreciated is a prescription for the blues.


It seems in our roaring economy…the Bull has not visited many of us?  Attrition is a pair of concrete overshoes for those who remain working, as they stand at the precipice of the ‘slough of despond,’  with the implied promise that you may be next it you can not keep up!


We visited the Orthopedic Institute this morning and I could not help but observe how busy the nurses were.  Their serious countenances and ceaseless efforts to care for the many patients that were at the facility reminded me that most people in todays American economy are overworked and underpaid.

As our country has exported virtually all of its manufacturing jobs and replaced them with a service industry…we have become the losers!

In Southern Illinois the two primary employers are the university and the health care industry.  I have been retired for nearly 9 years and SIUC has not had a raise since I left at the end of 2010.  When no raise is received a worker is loosing money due to the cost of living.

The glossy unemployment numbers in the United States do not reveal; the underemployed, individuals who hold multiple jobs, or those who have simply given up looking for employment.  I looked with great interest during the last presidential election cycle when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders touted that minimum wage needed to be at least $15 per hour.  Shortly thereafter, McDonalds in New York State, began paying $15 per hour to their employees.  Upon closer investigation I noticed that many of McDonalds staff were working in fast food as their primary employment.

I heard the President say the other day that the American people were loaded up with cash and very rich since the tax cut that he implemented.  Obviously he is not talking to the same people that I am!

When you have money and means and houses and lands…it is easy to talk about poor individuals and the working class in this country, ‘pulling themselves up by their boot straps!’  That is easier said than done when you have no boots!

I was speaking with a friend the other day and she was planning on furthering her education.  She currently works in the food service industry.  Now, this goal is laudable and attainable…but it is similar to doing a juggling act on a 50 foot high wire while riding a unicycle!  Oh, did I mention that there is no safety net?


Our nation desperately needs federally funded education programs that are similar to the World War II G.I. Bill.  When I began at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and up  to and including today there are professors who obtained their education through the G.I. Bill.

Sadly we obsess over minuate and quibble over the ephemeral and support inane political arguments that look pleasing to the far left and to the far right…when we should be providing boots to the needy!


Note: Photos and images are courtesy of Google.

The Contrarian

I love to go along and get along and be hidden in a crowd.  However it is somewhat difficult to remain hidden when you are 6 feet and 3 and 1/2 inches tall…and not thin!  There is little that is more peaceful than being a member of a group that you agree with and support and feel little need to question.  But…what to do when you disagree with the majority of the people that you are associated with…including the powerful

I vividly recall when I disagreed with the untimely termination of chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger and and felt compelled to not hide our friendship or to refrain from speaking out on her behalf.  Those were some scary times for Mary Jane and I when I had my job threatened…and I was a full ten years away from retirement.  I felt that she was good for SIUC and that her firing was a spiteful and politically motivated event.  It was strongly intimated to me that a promotion was in my immediate future if I would just not demonstrate visible support for the fallen leader of the campus.  I not only refused to back down, but rather sent a message to the president of the university and the board of trustees that Jo Ann and Peter were my friends and that I did not intend on changing anything regarding my freedom to disagree with bureaucratic authority as long as I did not disrupt the operations of the housekeeping department that I oversaw.

I am of a different mind than many of my lifelong friends and family regarding current political leaders.  I respect their right to their opinion completely!  I have made a practice of not speaking out to hear the sound of my own voice.  I am a believer that silence is golden.  However when I feel strongly regarding an issue I do not feel badly about being the lone voice among the throng.

So often we are afraid to speak out.  We are afraid of rebuttal and snide remarks or of incurring the wrath of our colleagues that disagree with us.  This is an unfulfilling and diminished way to live life!

Whether it is the church or the workplace or the school or our place in society…we should, without fear or favor, speak out when we believe that we have witnessed wrong.

Something that I love about First Presbyterian Church is that it invites a diversity of opinions.  It is governed by an elected board of elders that are referred to as the Session.  These positions are three year terms.

The American War of Independence was fought by 13 colonies against Great Britain’s King George III… by a lot of contrarians!

In Pennsylvania, ‘Shell workers were told that they could either attend the Trump speech on Aug. 13 and get paid as normal, or stay home and lose a day’s pay, the latter of which would have had the effect of causing them to lose overtime pay later in the week.’    Snopes

Although the Shell Plant contends that the policy of no pay for lack of attendance is likened to the option of not attending training events…nevertheless workers that did not clock in at 7 am and stand throughout lunch, but without lunch, were not paid…and the speech that was billed to be about energy…morphed into a political speech that was paid for with taxpayers money…although that is against the law.

Are you a member of a workplace that tells you what your opinion is?

Are you a member of a church that demands that all members expound the truth of the charismatic leader of the movement?

Speaking candidly and being proud of who you are and what you believe and your truth…is huge!  It will enhance your self confidence and enable you to better understand your identity.

The aberration of having sad and little men like presidential advisor Steven Miller and Ken Cuccinelli… advocate the erasure of the renown poem,The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus that is on the Statue of Liberty and, according to, ‘The Trump administration’s top immigration official reworked the famous words on the Statue of Liberty in an interview Tuesday, saying America will only embrace immigrants who can ‘stand on their own two feet’ and ‘not become a public charge.’  In a subsequent interview, Ken Cuccinelli want a step further, saying the poem referred to ‘people coming from Europe.’    CBS News

‘The New Colossus’

By Emma Lazarus


‘Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name

Mother of Exiles, From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she

With silent lips.  ‘Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’



I Don’t Think That I Can Do It?

Billy Bump accepts a challenge!

The Jazz Man

So, Billy Bump had wanted desperately to be a foreman in his housekeeping career.  He had began a a janitor and had, through hard work, ascended to a crew leader or what was called a Building Custodian.  Billy reveled in the stable and secure job, with benefits, that he had attained with the university and he was gobsmacked and grateful…and he worried that it would end suddenly…just like it had began!

The assistant director of the physical plant had been coming to his building to speak with him as to whether he would like to become a foreman, which would oversee several positions and crews like the one that Billy currently worked with…or would he like to be the training officer for the entire department?  Dale was a pleasant man and he spoke of his christian faith and a place of mutual interest for Billy and he…Disney World in Orlando…

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I am sitting on my screened in porch and enjoying watching the rain fall and listening to the thunder peal!  I have always found rain and mild thunderstorms peaceful and serene and they have a magnetic pull on my psyche.  There is something about the implied danger of a thunderstorm and feeling safe while you are in the midst of it.


I have not always been brave and a casually observer of storms.  When the derecho rampaged through Southern Illinois in May of 2008…I began observing as a curious interested storm watcher.  I was on campus at the Physical Plant speaking with director Gatton.  He told me that I should go to the basement as the weather reports promised an unusually strong thunder storm. I informed the director that I had seen many strong storms and that I had not feared one yet but rather enjoyed watching them and that I had watched one from the front door of my little house in Elkville and witnessed a storm uproot two large trees from the ground as if they were saplings and lay them over into the street in front of my house!  At that moment I saw the windows in the building move in and out as if they were bellows and the large air conditioner that was outside Building Services move about as if it were a tinker toy!  I decided that I would join the others in the basement.


My step-father, Earl, was extremely afraid of storms.  When the wind would begin to roar and the lightning illuminate our darkened house…he would call for my mom and I and his chihuahua Cheetah to run to one of his vintage automobiles to attempt to escape the imminent devastation of what was assuredly a tornado!


Now, Cheetah was a mean little shit…and she offered to bite me almost daily…but when the call for escape from tornado alley came…she was docile as a lamb.


You know what…I felt safe in the car with Earl driving and looking out of his open drivers side window and, at times, opening his car door to study the foreboding skies.  Earl had fought in Korea.  He had been injured and almost died…but he did not!  He had the same job that Glenn Campbell sang about, he was a lineman for the county.  I went with him to work the day before Christmas and watched him shinny up a electrical pole faster than most folks walk on level ground!


Storms surround our daily lives.  Wether it be domestic storms or employment storms or health storms…or storms of faith…we all have an ‘Earl’ with us!  We have someone that we know will protect us and help us and who will not let us come to harm.  For me it has been Christ and his guardian angels who have extricated me from so many storms that would have overtaken me…had I not had a bodyguard and a friend and a mentor.


‘For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’    Psalm 30:5   KJV



Note: Images are courtesy of Google search.