Fashionably Challenged

With the passing of each season, new fashion concerns arise to challenge me. As many of my friends, and all of my family, will attest, I am not a slave to fashion, I am immune to it. Yet assaulting people’s eyes with bizarre color combinations is apparently a crime against humanity, of that I am guilty.

This doesn’t mean I don’t take seriously my choice of wardrobe, I just make questionable choices. Over the years, any fashion sense I had fled the jurisdiction and abandoned me.

When I was at Cumberland High School, in keeping with the spirit of the era, I had a pair of purple, crushed velvet bell-bottom pants. They were the “haute couture” of my fashion collection. I wore them all the time. It was a prelude to my descent into fashion ignominy.

To me, color matching is like reading Egyptian Hieroglyphics. No brown with black, no purple with blue, except sometimes if…it is all a mystery to me. I’ve come to silently accept the hard view my wife gives me when I emerge ensconced in my latest selection, sheepishly returning to try again.

It’s no use arguing, I’ve come to accept my limitations. I desperately need color coded clothing tags to eliminate the mystery of this black magic. Where are Garanimals when I need them? (Look it up, they were genius.)

MEN'S RETRO VINTAGE 60'S70'S STYLE BELLBOTTOM FLARED PURPLE PAISLEY CORDS

But the most distinct change is not so much the appearance of what I wear, it’s the changing nature of the clothes come the first hint of cooler weather in September.

Summer is my best fashion season. For some reason, shorts and t-shirts (absent any bizarre designs or patterns on both at the same time) can be worn in almost any combination, particularly around the house.

Absent any arriving guests or plans to go into the public view (and in the time of COVID there are indeed a rare commodity) I am free to wear what I want. My wife and daughter have either resigned themselves to this, come to accept it, or built up immunity to my choices.

But come September and the first temperature changes requiring the donning of long pants, my choices now become problematic. The first day I am forced to wear long pants feels like putting on a hazmat suit or growing thick layer of fur.

Cumbersome, confining, constricting, and, more critically, requiring me to delve into the deep recesses of my brain to recall if I can wear this sweatshirt or sweater with this color shirt.

I look forward with mixed emotions to the isolation of blizzards when I can cover my fashion selection with the Jalaba I bought in Morocco, what I am wearing matters little as long as I am warm.

Perhaps there is a book in this, What Not to Wear: A Master’s Guide to Fashion Faux Pas by Joe Broadmeadow.

*****

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Why I Would Vote for Donald Trump

Now before anyone thinks I have completely lost my mind; this piece is an exercise in understanding. During a discussion about the upcoming election, I made a statement to the effect that I couldn’t understand why otherwise rational, educated people would vote for Mr. Trump.

Not all of his followers are white supremacists, evangelical fundamentalists, or jingoistic nationalists. Some are quite articulate in their support for the President.

One thing I have always tried to do, although not without some failure, is to understand all sides of an issue. Be it the abortion debate, the place of religion in secular activities, equal rights, Antifa, or whatever issue I have a differing opinion on.

This got me thinking. What if the candidate facing Mr. Trump was someone I could not, in good conscience, vote for? I have often said choosing who to vote for by picking the lesser of two evils is not the wisest course of action, reason should prevail. I should therefore be able to articulate valid reasons to vote for Mr. Trump.

Thus this piece.

Here’s why I would vote for Mr. Trump.

  1. If you ignore all his caustic speeches and often inarticulate manner of expressing his ideas, there is no dis-ingenuity about the man. Many of our more articulate politicians sound better, are more inspiring speakers, but are wolves in sheep’s clothing out just to keep power.
  2. The absolute lack of any effort at reaching across the aisle in the spirit of cooperation is endemic in Congress. Their unwillingness to even discuss fresh ideas with the President needs curbing. Reelecting Mr. Trump may force them into one of two choices, cooperate or do nothing but obstruct for 4 more years. It’s a tossup which is more harmful.
  3. His disjointed, unbalanced, inconsistent, and contrary to the once staid course of American diplomacy foreign policy aside, he has not led us into another endless war. While his withdrawal from Syria is a grave error, there are fewer American service members dying in useless incursions throughout the world.
  4. His insistence on naming a Supreme Court Justice as soon as possible, and the Senate agreeing to take up the vote, is the right thing to do. Inferring nefarious motivations is an exercise in futility.
    History shows us few zealots end up on the court. And a well-qualified candidate likely to be considered for the court, regardless of their particular history of legal theory, can be relied on to render well-considered decisions with the guidance of the constitution, legal precedent, and the law.
    That there are hypocrites in the Senate who only see this as a way to stack the court when it suits their purposes does not alter the validity of a sitting President’s authority and responsibility to fill a vacancy with a qualified, well-considered, and vetted candidate. If it was wrong not to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, it is wrong not to hold a hearing today.

Is this enough for me to vote for Mr. Trump? Probably not. But I thought it important to be fair in my assessment of all sides of an issue. And to understand how someone might choose to vote for Mr. Trump.

Saving America

We need to put the choice of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg in perspective. It is not about constitutional concerns, presidential obligations or prerogatives, or precedent.

The truth behind the push is infinitely simpler, and more sinister.

Three things cannot long be hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth…

Buddha

The rush to force a vote is driven by evangelical pressure to reverse Roe V. Wade, to drag America back into the dark ages of male-dominated, Christian-centric, theologically tainted government, and to reassert the once absolute dominance of white men.

Therein lies the real danger.

Ginsburg’s entire career focused on broadening equal rights, equal access, and sharing of power for women. She was the irresistible force that overcame what was once considered unchangeable, working on some of the most important cases for women’s rights.

This is one example. Her work led to women being able to open a bank account, get a mortgage, or get a credit card without a man’s signature. (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/420/636/)  

Now think about that for a moment. Until 1974, with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the case cited above argued by Ginsburg before the United States Supreme Court in 1975, a woman, regardless of her financial position, education, or professional credentials, could not open a bank account without the signature of a man, nor enjoy most of the other financial rights of men.

This was in the United States of America in 1975, not 1575.

And let’s be perfectly clear about something, the evangelicals’ claiming the moral high ground on issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and religious freedom is a smokescreen. Reclaiming dominance of white heterosexual males is their true goal. Their vision of making America Great Again is not one of inclusivity.

You can spin this anyway you like, but all one has to do is look, not even an in-depth look, at their savior for reclaiming a moral America, Mr. Trump, to see the incongruities.

The Christian Right, pummeled by Roe V. Wade (which was about equal access, never about abortion. The wealthy always had access, leaving the poor to dark alleys), distraught over Gay rights and equal opportunity, and horrified that science and rationality were gaining dominance over philosophies formulated in the dark ages, is fighting for its life.

Their intransigence, and duplicity, is an effrontery to those religious adherents who embrace tolerance and understanding. Their actions are in direct contradiction to the words in the Bibles they clutch to their chests or wave in the air as evidence of the righteousness of their cause.

There actions are a mockery of Christian philosophy. They do not seek religious freedom, the seek religious dominance by their self-serving interpretation of evangelical doctrine and the suppression of those who follow other paths.

They see in Mr. Trump their opportunity to reclaim their once firm grasp on power and control over those who are different or follow a different path. That anyone could see Mr. Trump as a moral savior is an example of willful ignorance at best or total psychotic illusion at worst.

As long as he promotes their party line, his lack of character is unimportant. This is not a Republican party line; it is the party line of intolerance and domination.

In a debate stimulated by an earlier piece I wrote (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/09/18/a-simple-straightforward-question/) someone who supports Mr. Trump posted this article as illustrative of all the “good” Mr. Trump has done for black Americans.

Read the case yourself and draw your own conclusions.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/511551-donald-trump-has-done-more-for-african-americans-than-we-think

My reading of the case would suggest the writer argues that Mr. Trump’s implicit racism, pandering to white supremacists, and misconstruing the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issue of racism to the forefront.

A rather strange way to sing Mr. Trump’s praises.

There is a common misconception in America that widespread racism and discrimination is a thing of the past. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg spent much of her career shining a light into those dark corners of America where it still flourished, and flourishes to this day.

I recall a story told to me by a friend from the FBI. As a young agent he was sent to a rural county in Alabama to investigate a civil rights violation by a Sheriff and two deputies in the arrest of a black man.

During an interview with one of the deputies, the agent asked if race played a part in the violent arrest of the man. The deputy’s answer stuck with the agent for the rest of his career.

The deputy said, “I didn’t beat that man because he was black, sir. I beat him because he forgot he was black.”

This was in 1985. 120 years after the end of slavery. Thirty years after Brown V Board of Education. Twenty years after the Civil Rights Act. Racism may not be as overt as it was in 1865, or even 1965, but make no mistake about it, it still permeates much of our society.

And we have a President who either intentionally or out of ignorance encourages such attitudes. Or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Then, as if what amounts to promoting white supremacy isn’t enough, Mr. Trump takes it down another notch by saying the shooting of an MSNBC reporter covering a protest was “beautiful.” And the saddest part is many in the audience laughed and cheered.

The President of the United States jokes about a member of the media being wounded. This is about as dystopian as the world can get.

The Free Press, the cornerstone of American freedom, the institution that in my lifetime help end the war in Vietnam and brought down a corrupt and criminal Presidency by focusing attention on government lies, is not something we should laugh at when they suffer injuries doing their job.

But not this President.

Leaving aside for the moment the argument about whether a Supreme Court nomination should take place in an election year, this is a critical turning point in America.

To paraphrase a line from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, If Christ could see America today, he’d puke.

Those who would force us into the past are pointing a loaded gun at the heart of America and threatening to pull the trigger. If we lose focus in the fog of all the noise and distractions, they just might be emboldened enough to do it.

There is much in America’s past of which we can be proud, and equally as much for which we need be constantly vigilant against its re-emergence. But the path to American greatness does not reside in our past, it beckons from our future. A future that hangs in the balance this November.

*****

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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Eat Well, Die Anyway: Life Expectancy and the Pleasures of Living

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

Mark Twain

Over the years, my diet has transformed. Raised in Cumberland, Rhode Island during the Howdy Doody/Captain Kangaroo/1950-1960s era in a primarily Irish Catholic household, we fully embraced the modern miracle of post-War technology, canned goods and frozen food.

While we were always well fed, one just has to look around for the dearth of restaurants featuring Irish cuisine (other than Guinness, Fish & Chips, or Shepherd’s pie) to appreciate the somewhat uninspired nature of such food.

Once I became independent, I embraced the wonders of drive-thru fast food, pizza delivery, and, as many of my friends will attest, beans and Kool-Aid when I had to cook or lacked funds for even a hamburger.

Once I was married, my wife began the slow, arduous process of introducing me to fresh vegetables, salads, and other items I had heard of but never consumed.

NOT CRANBERRY SAUCE
CRANBERRY SAUCE

To put this in perspective, on one of our first Thanksgiving dinners together, my wife made cranberry sauce. I didn’t recognize it. Cranberry sauce, in its natural state, has symmetry. It is shaped like a tube and has grooves circling it. This looked like a pile of half digested berries, something one would see along a trail in the woods of New Hampshire.

It was black magic.

“Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.”

— Seneca

But after several years, I began to tolerate (the alternative was starving) then almost enjoy fresh vegetables. I started to cook something other than with a microwave, a benefit of attending some cooking classes at Johnson & Wales. The culinary world opened up.

The primary purpose of a healthy diet is, of course, the prolongation of life. Thinking of this got me wondering when does one reach a point where this goal is mitigated by the inevitable conclusion of all life.

In a nutshell, when is eating well an exercise in futility?

So I looked at life expectancy and actuarial tables. (That there are people in the world who write and work with such statistics terrifies me. That they can survive without being bored to death—thus skewing the numbers—is amazing.)

 Without getting into all the mitigating details and differences by country (see risk above) based on the Social Security Administration table, a male child born in 2017 has a life expectancy of 75.97 years, a female child, 80.96.  But the number that intrigued me most was death probability.

At birth, a male child has a 0.006304% chance of dying before their first birthday, females 0.005229%. From then on, your chances of survival increase until you reach the age of 10. Then it begins a long slow decrease toward the final curtain. I’m sure there are mounds of research studies explaining this, but I suspect that it involves two things, the first hints of adolescence and making one’s own food decisions.

At ten, there was never the slightest chance I would select an apple or banana over a Peanut Butter and Marshmallow fluff sandwich. Or a salad over an Anchovy Pizza. (For those of you who just grimaced over the word Anchovy, you are heathens and infidels and have zero appreciation of fine food.)

If one looks at the chart (https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html#fn1) you would see the decreasing number of years remaining at various ages. All of which leads me back to my original point.

At twenty-one years of age, eating Anchovy Pizza and a gallon of ice cream every day, no matter how tempting, would likely knock one’s life expectancy down a notch. The old adage about not buying any long novels to read might apply much sooner.

But what about at, to pick a random age, sixty-four? What effect might a dish of ice cream a day cost in life expectancy? At sixty-four, which by coincidence is my current age, I have eighteen years left according to the chart (although I plan on taking advantage of some Irish lineage in my family from my great grandmother who lived to ninety-three and drank  a bit of Irish Whiskey and a beer almost every day.)

So a dish of ice cream a day at twenty-one has a serious potential cost. At sixty-four, it is a much-reduced cost and I think it worth the risk. In the interest of full disclosure, I have always enjoyed Spam and Deviled Ham, not to mention anchovies, which I believe can be a fountain of eternal life so I have some built in reserves more than adequate to support my ice cream diet.

Now if I can only find a way to convince my family this is a sound and necessary course of actions to make my progression on the actuarial table more enjoyable.

*****

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

A Simple, Straightforward Question

If a five-year-old child was sent home from school with a note saying he had made fun of a handicapped classmate, most adults would seize the moment as an opportunity to teach their child the difference between right and wrong.

If the scenario involved a fourteen-year-old, the response by the parents would be more severe. I know in my house, such behavior would have met with significant parental intervention and dire consequences.

When you are five years old, you learn about such unacceptable behavior. By the time one is fourteen, a reasonable assumption is you know it is wrong but don’t, or won’t, fully appreciate how abhorrent such behavior is. Thus the need to face consequences to reinforce the message that this never happen again.

So when the President of the United States—who one might reasonably assume would at least have the moral character of a fourteen-year-old—engages in such behavior, on a national stage, in front of the media why is it acceptable?

I’d love to have someone, anyone explain the rationale for defending or ignoring such behavior by the President, let alone continuing to support him.

And if you could explain it without some obfuscative argument about behavior by other individuals and focus on the specifics of why you support this man despite his obvious lack of character, it would be refreshing and, I suspect, illuminating.

Inquiring minds want to know.

We DID Start The Fire…

Two fires are burning in America, both fueled by ignorance, indifference, and plain old stupidity.

Curious Kids: when I swipe a matchstick how does it make fire?

In the western US, wildfires burn out of control, consuming millions of acres of forests, entire towns, killing unknown numbers of wildlife, and destroying humans. Many of our fellow Americans push aside the overwhelming evidence of climate change—the intensity of these fires and resulting firestorms are a symptom of the problem—for politics or because of a vested interest in ignoring the science.

Despite the enormous evidence of anthropogenic climate change, we have a President who ignores it all and tells people to “rake their leaves.” That such an unsophisticated, uninformed, scientifically bereft attitude exists in 21st century America is astounding.

We are returning to the Dark Ages where mystics and charlatans guided decisions absent any rational basis. They hide their actions from us by the smoke of fires of our own creation.

We ignore these signs at our own peril, for the earth is resilient. Like any sophisticated, self-sustaining system, our planet has an immune system. If we continue down this path, the earth may come to see us not as the most fantastic product of evolution, but a dangerous one. The signs are already there with glaciers disappearing, sea levels rising, temperatures climbing, and storm intensities increasing.

The planet will protect itself either with us… or from us.

We repeat the pattern of ignoring problems in hopes they will just go away in other matters, the other fire burning across this country—the fire of racism, intolerance, and violent resistance to acknowleding the inequalities in our society.

Despite the mounds of evidence of climate change and racism, we continue to ignore the signs. The only difference between these two issues is we have been ignoring racism for a much longer period, despite having documented it with our own words. Words written by well-intentioned (mostly) individuals or commissions, published with a grand ceremony, then forgotten when the attention fades,

In 1922, the Chicago Commission of Race Relations published a seven-hundred-page report entitled “The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and Race Riot.” The report documented evidence of housing and employment discrimination and brutal mistreatment at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system.

(From the report) “… investigations indicate that Negroes are more commonly arrested, subjected to police identification, and convicted than white offenders, that on similar evidence they are generally held and convicted on more serious charges, and that they are given longer sentence… These practices and tendencies are not only unfair to Negroes, but weaken the machinery of Justice and, when taken with the greater inability of Negroes to pay fines in addition to or in lieu of terms of jail, produce misleading statistics of Negro crime.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1935, following riots in Harlem, another report said.

“… The sudden breach of the public order was the result of a highly emotional situation among the colored people of Harlem, due in large part to the nervous strain of years of unemployment and insecurity…it is probable that their justifiable pent-up feelings, that they were victims of gross injustice and prejudice, would sooner or later have brought about an explosion…

The blame belongs to a society that tolerates inadequate and often wretched housing, inadequate and inefficient schools and other public facilities, unemployment, unduly high rents, lack of recreational grounds, discrimination in industry and public utilities against colored people, brutality and lack of courtesy of the police.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1977, Michael Lipsky and David J. Olson published a study entitled “Commission Politics: The Processing of Racial Crisis in America.” They said between 1917 and 1943, at least twenty-one commissions were appointed to investigate race riots.

Take a look at you and me,

are we too blind to see,

do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way

Well the world turns

Despite the sincerity and good intentions of theses twenty-one commissions, nothing changed. The reports were printed, distributed, read, and forgotten.

The Kerner Commission, the grandaddy of race riot reports written after the Watts Riot in LA in the 1960s, is another example. Well written and meticulously researched, it documented the conditions leading to the riot and was largely ignored.

President Lyndon Johnson, who could not understand why his Great Society initiative—Voter Rights Act, Welfare Reform, and other programs—did not solve the problem, refused to accept it.

Nothing changed.

In 1969, Elvis Presley had a hit record called In the Ghetto, written by Mac Davis. A prophetic tune then, and now.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
’cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
it’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
People, don’t you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way
Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto
And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto
Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto
As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

 We face a turning point in America. The challenges we face– the raging inferno of wildfires amplified by climate change, and the hellish nightmare of our failure to address racism and discrimination against our fellow Americans–can be our descent into Armageddon or our rise to Enlightenment.

There have been times in our history when a leader emerged—often one we might least suspect of having the courage or ability—to guide and unite us in a time of need.

George Washington, a surveyor and soldier, who rose to become the epitome of a selfless statesman dedicated to the good of the country, led us through the birth of a nation.

Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky woodsman who rose to lead us toward reunifying the country and abolishing slavery. Who knows how different we might have been if he had lived out his second term?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once seen as weak and ineffectual, rose to lead us out of not one, but two dangerous dark times in our history, the Great Depression and World War II.

We face such a choice this November. Can Joe Biden rise to this moment in history and lead this country out of the conflagration we face? I am uncertain. But I am sure of this; Mr. Trump will not. He is not the leader we desperately need at this moment in history.

We need someone to quell the flames, not fan them.

We need someone who embraces science and reason, not disparages it,

We need someone with compassion for the challenges facing people of color, not one who openly encourages white supremacy and fear-mongering.

There is one other thing I am confident we do not need. We do not need another commission to study these problems. We need a leader who will gather the best and the brightest among us and craft solutions.

Or the song will just repeat itself all over again and the country will continue to burn until there is nothing left of America…

As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Trail Tribulations: Deciphering Trail Descriptions

funny hiking quotes

I am a big fan of hiking. Some might call it an addiction and, with what I’m going to share, you might agree. But I hope you find it useful enough to join us in our shared misery/ecstasy.

Where else can you experience the thrill of a bear encounter and the possibility (no matter how slight) of being a bear’s meal?

But that is a minor consideration. Almost every time you see a bear, it is a fleeting glimpse of the hind end running away. (The almost part was deemed necessary by the bear’s lawyers, sometimes food is scarce.)

The real challenge is not if you should hike, but where you should hike.

The most confusing part of hiking is reading the trail descriptions. They come in three varies; easy, moderate, and hard.  Despite these simple-sounding appellations, they require some translation and dissection.

Trail descriptions involve several elements, elevation, terrain, and distance. I’ll explain each in context of the trail description.

Elevation gains happen where the trail is mostly straight up, with the occasional descent to give back the hard-won elevation. At the moment, it seems like a pleasant respite. It is not. Because on the way back, when you are exhausted, sweaty, muddy (more on this later,) and considering throwing yourself off a cliff, this will be a section you have to climb up on the way down. It is all part of the diabolical joy of hiking.

The elevation gain, which may seem gentle at times, is not. Despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, as you climb higher in the mountains measurements stretch out.  And there is one consistent  aspect of every trail in the world, the last half-mile is always steep and muddy.  Even when you’re coming down, I think they change out the trailhead once you’ve started up the trail. It’s the only logical explanation.

Terrain descriptions are notoriously inaccurate. Some rocky sections mean all rocks. May be muddy when wet means always muddy. There are sections of some trails that have not dried out since the Jurassic Period.  Some sections require scrambles means hanging off the edge of a cliff.

In a nutshell, the terrain will give you the experience of an enhanced interrogation session.

Distance is deceptive.  One foot at the trailhead becomes a yard at 3000 feet. This is borne out by the signs placed by the US Forest Service. If the sign says 1.5 miles to a waypoint, it works out to be 2 miles or more. NEVER BELIEVE THE SIGNS. They are like spectators shouting at marathoners in the 20th mile. “You can do it! Push, Push!” Easy to say when you’re sitting in a folding chair drinking a beer, not so for the guy actually running, or in this case hiking a mountain.

Combining these elements together you have a trail description which tells you nothing.

There are no easy trails. There are easier trails which are dependent on your own ability to tolerate pain.

Each of the descriptions—easy, moderate, or hard—are relative to the person who wrote them. I’ve often read of a trail described as easy, and it was not. It was clearly written by a sado-masochistic person trying to make up for his (and it almost always a him) inadequacies by pretending to be superior.

The opposite is also true. Trails described as hard are often written by people who think getting out of their car to walk into Dunkin’ Donuts constitutes strenuous exercise.

So how do you know what to hike? Just do it. There are easier trails and harder trails and you will know them when you see them.

I can sum them up as follows.

Easy trails are like when a doctor says, “you may feel slight discomfort.”

Moderate trails are when the doctor says, “this is gonna sting a bit.”

Hard trails are when the doctor says, “Hold him down.”

Here’s a word about roots, rocks, and other inhabitants of the trail.  They move. Roots and rocks adjust themselves to be in the perfect position to snag your foot just as you attempt to jump over a stream, a rock, or muddy section. While they appear dormant and in a fixed position, they are not.

They hear you coming and maneuver for their chance to strike.

On a positive note, when you do get tripped by a root—and it is only a matter of when, not if—one of two things will happen, you will fall forward or backwards, each has pleasant possibilities.

Falling forward, a sharp rock will rise out of the ground allowing your shin to absorb the force of the fall. Or, if for some reason, you miss this safety feature, a sharp-pointed yet deceptively flat rock will position itself so your knee can absorb the force of the fall.

Falling backward is even better. Since the shin is no longer available, your butt will absorb the fall and it will feel like you have as many cracks in it as the San Andreas Fault. Or a certain anatomical aspect of your butt will land on a sharp pointed rock with the precision of a cruise missile. For those of you of a certain age, your next colonoscopy will not require anesthetic, for the others it will be an eye-opening experience.

And just like the nuclear trigger in our military arsenal, roots have a failsafe mechanism in the event you’re able to avoid being snagged by one. The roots manage—perhaps aided by the Elvish folk who inhabit the woods—to subtlety snag your bootlaces until one has come loose. Then, just as you try to step forward, you’ve tripped yourself into the cascading process of falling.

Now a word about bugs. They are one of the constancies of hiking. Even if no one wants to hike, bugs will come with you. There is a progression to your tolerance to bugs. First, they are annoying, then the are infuriating, but, like attaining Nirvana, if you hike enough and swallow enough bugs (again, when not if) you come to consider them bonus protein.

Now before you get disgusted by such thoughts, I am sure many of you eat oatmeal. How you manage this I do not understand, but you do. You realize people once used oatmeal to hang wallpaper, right? You’re eating wallpaper paste so you have no room for haughty superiority.

I think those little gelatinous sacks frog eggs come in that appear in murky ponds every spring likely taste like oatmeal. Bugs taste better, require less preparation, and offer themselves up willingly.

Bugs are just an underappreciated food group

Mount Pierce looking toward Mounts Washington and Eisenhower

Despite all of this. once you reach the summit something magical happens. The spirit of the mountain infiltrates your soul, erasing and easing all the pain of the effort. You see things most people never see. You look out on a vista of nature undisturbed.

It makes it all worthwhile.

Reaching the summit is better pain relief than Ibuprofen. Something those of us who’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail called Vitamin I. (But just in case, have some Ibuprofen to wash down with your celebratory drink at the trail’s end.)

This intoxication—or temporary insanity—lasts just long enough to carry you back down the trail and then goes dormant. After the muscle aches fade, and the mud is washed from your clothes, and the bruises have faded, it re-emerges and whispers in your ear…

“Let’s find another trail to hike and another mountain to climb.”

Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

The War on Cops: Wrong Enemy, Wrong War, Wrong Headed

Cops have become the focal point of the failure of society to address the cause of violence in America. This results from the unfiltered flood of social media stories lacking any corroboration or factual basis, even though overall violence has decreased in America and within police agencies.

While a troubling number of cops engage in unnecessary and unlawful violence, most are responding to situations and circumstances of violence beyond their capacity to prevent or control. By focusing on just the violence-prone officers, we run the risk of overlooking the essential function police officers provide to society.

A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it.     

Lewis H. Lapham

Some criminal behavior is pathological, little can be done absent intense psychiatric intervention. But the overwhelming majority of people who commit crimes are motivated by several common factors; poverty, poor education, lack of family support, drug use, discrimination, or other identifiable and rectifiable circumstances.

Because society does not want to face its responsibilities for fostering and ignoring the causes behind such criminality and violence, they need a convenient scapegoat. Instead of recognizing that drug abuse, one of the most significant causes of criminal acts, is primarily a health issue, they prefer to criminalize it and dump the responsibility of solving the problem on cops.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Enormous sums of money made in the drug trade cause those in control to arm themselves to protect their assets. Cops then face the reality of dealing with armed resistance to their efforts, setting the stage for violent confrontations and increasingly dangerous situations for the public. The violence breeds more violence and the police endure the criticism for their inability to control it..

We are treating the symptom, not the cause. Like injecting morphine into a broken arm. It no longer hurts, but it is still broken.

The violence surrounding the drug trade, and the criminal behavior it engenders among users and dealers, creates violence-prone territories within cities that are more combat zones than neighborhoods.

We have turned police departments into armies of occupation, failed to provide them with adequate resources, tasked them responsibilities outside their area of expertise, then blamed them for their failure to solve the problem.

A society that thrusts cops into violent neighborhoods and expects them to endure violence against them only with restraint is abdicating its responsibility.

We would not send a carpenter to teach History in a high school class, or a Doctor of Philosophy to repair a plumbing problem. Why do we send cops into our neighborhoods and expect them to be social workers, counselors, medics, priests, surrogate parents, and disciplinarians without the least bit of training or support to perform these functions?

So now, still refusing to address their own abdication of responsibility and failures, the solution they offer is to defund the police? To take the one societal resource that answers the phone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and reduce their already limited ability to deal with society’s problems?

This is the height of idiocy.

Let me abundantly clarify a couple of things. Implicit racism is endemic to Police Departments because it is endemic to society. The difference is simple. When a carpenter or a bartender or a priest acts in a manner prejudicial to another because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation, or ethnic origin, it is not replayed in the news and blasted across social media ad nauseum.

While I would concede police officers, because of their position, should expect close scrutiny, they do not deserve condemnation absent a full understanding of the conditions under which they operate. Nor should their actions be automatically assumed to be motivated by prejudice.

Here is another hard and fast rule. If officers are guilty of pre-judging a person simply because of the color of their skin, they deserve to be punished or charged for acting unlawfully in such a matter. But, until all the facts are clear, the actions of officers should not be pre-judged simply because they have become a convenient target for the ills of society.

If you want to defund things and provide resources to actually change things, here are some suggestions.

Defund the politicians who turn elected public service into a lifetime welfare system

Defund the mindless feel-good programs in schools and government that only create patronage jobs for the well connected with little results.

Defund an educational system that rewards mediocrity, avoids placing challenges on students, and ostracizes those who excel at learning.

Defund the nonsense of forced racial balancing at the expense of education and eliminating the ignorance of prejudice. These stop-gap efforts, while well-intentioned, fail to address the fundamental causes of racism; ignorance, lack of education, and inability to embrace differences.

Defund any state-sponsored support of religion, be it tax exemptions, feel-good legislation, or the best-intentioned but misguided efforts of tacit acceptance of its efficacy in secular matters, at the expense of science and secular progress. These matters further exasperate the separation of individuals into segregated groups who suffer from the lack of experiencing different ideas, cultures, and histories.

Defunding the police as a wholesale solution to the problem is like turning the radio up loud to drown out engine noise. It might mask the problem, but eventually the engine will seize up and nothing will move.

Excerpt from Divine Providence

Coming this fall from JEBWizard Publishing, a new book by Joe Broadmeadow with Pat Cortellessa

Divine Providence: The Mayor, The Mob, and The Man in the Middle

Here’s the excerpt. To be notified of updates, author appearances, and pre-release discounts sign up for our email list here.

This is the story of a Mayor who would be King, The Mob, who would demand its share of the kingdom, and a man caught in the middle. A story so unique, so endemic to the city, so uniquely Rhode Island, that it casts a spell even to this day.

Divine providence: The mayor, the mob, and the man in the middle
by joe broadmeadow

Introduction

The echo of the court clerk’s announcement of guilty on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) count still reverberated in the halls of  Judge Ernest Torres’ court as the implication ricocheted at the speed of light throughout Providence.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci, the inimitable, affable, yet darkly complex Mayor of Providence, tarnished forever as a convicted felon. The Providence Renaissance, forever linked to Buddy in fable if not reality, now facing having the curtain pulled back on the myth enveloping the man..

As Shakespeare said, “the evil men do….” The good Buddy would now be buried in the Federal Prison system, removed from the City he loved almost as much as he loved himself.

All that remained now was for someone to pick up the pieces in City Hall and steer the City forward.

Pat Cortellessa—the long-time nemesis of Buddy, fresh from the courtroom where he watched the trial and verdict unfold— now stood in city hall with the man who would bear the burden of acting Mayor, John Lombardi. The scene was surreal, unimaginable just a few short months before. Few expected Buddy to be convicted. Most thought Buddy would emerge dirtied but otherwise unscathed, back in the Mayor’s office once again running his domain. Now the celebration of what many viewed as the end of corruption in City Hall was on.

Pat made his way to the Mayor’s office and walked into what was once the exclusive domain of Buddy. The office, trashed by the celebration, held echoes of so much promise and so many disappointments. Pat wandered over to the window overlooking Kennedy Plaza. The Cafe Plaza building, a prominent place in the plaza, the site of so many battles with Buddy, stood as a reminder of the now former Mayor’s penchant for exerting his control wherever he saw an opportunity.

Pat wondered if it had all been worth it. All those battles fighting for what he believed was right for the city, now mere memories. Buddy was no longer a force to be reckoned with, the conviction took that away. Where it would lead was anyone’s guess.

What lay ahead for Pat, he could only guess. But the memories of the war with the City and Buddy had taken its toll. How had it all come to this?

This is the story of a Mayor who would be King, The Mob, who would demand its share of the kingdom, and a man caught in the middle. A story so unique, so endemic to the city, so uniquely Rhode Island, that it casts a spell even to this day.

And Buddy was now out of sight…but he was far from finished.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

A Summer Vacation’s Worth of Stories

This time of year—scorching humid days, once verdant green Spring grass turned brown and coarse, evening fireflies sparking the imagination—always makes me think of summer vacations long ago. Not those taken for a week or two, but the real summer vacation that punctuated our progress in life.

The opening days of Summer—those first glorious days of not having to get up for school, the freedom of having an entire day to do whatever we wanted, the seemingly endless days ahead—made such a powerful impression in our memories.

See you in September

See you when the summer’s through

Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)

Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)

Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)

Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

The Happenings, See you in september

Then, as June slipped into July and July to August, the first thoughts of returning to school bubbled to the surface. A new grade, new challenges, new teachers, new things to learn, and experience. I may not have looked forward to the end of the summer, but I looked forward to returning to school.

For me it was Ashton School, then Highland Middle, and finally Cumberland High School, CHS ’74.

We had something with us when we ventured back that’s denied today’s generations. Something that made our return both comforting and exciting.

We had stories.

Summer stories to tell our friends in the long tradition of human storytelling. In the telling of the stories, we reinforced (and often enhanced) the memories, ensuring they would last a lifetime.

Today, every moment of every day—tweeted, texted, Instagrammed, Facebooked, or Instant messaged—becomes the same as all the others.

In telling our stories, we had to recall from memory those moments that mattered to us. The things that made enough of an impression on an eight-year-old or a fourteen-year-old to warrant a story.

They would lose their magic in a mere text message.

The stories we told came from the heart—enhanced by our imagination—and created a bond between the storyteller and the listener. It was a way of saying, “you’re important to me, I want you to hear my stories, and I want to hear yours.”

We cannot share such a bond in an email or text. The immediacy of such technology robs the story of all emotion and value.  It is just another bit of noise in a noisy world, lost among the cacophony, becoming only more background static.

August is when these thoughts and memories rise to the surface. Back then, it seemed the dog days of summer grew shorter, even if we knew that the days had grown shorter almost from the moment summer vacation began.

The sun, making its way back south, posed new challenges to baseball games. Early summer sunlit ball fields now became danger zones as fly balls disappeared into the blinding August afternoon sun and caromed off a player’s head. (Something which we might turn into a great story.)

Now, we were not without our means of instant communication. We had telephones, and the sound of a ringing phone brought anticipation, hope, and surprises. We often planned calls—I’ll call you at 6—and battles would ensue if the phone was in use.

We faced the frustrations of a busy signal or an unanswered call. Answering machines—those first links in the chain bonding us to communication technology—came later. But when a call went through, we had those glorious moments of speaking with someone we likely hadn’t seen since the last day of school. In these calls, we laid the groundwork for future stories—I’ll tell you more later, I have to hang up now.

Until we hit that magic age of driver’s licenses and the freedom it brought, all we had on returning to school was our summer stories.

If I could give anything of value to today’s world, it would be moments like those I shared with my friends telling those stories.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.