Error in Judgment or Criminal Act?

“But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Alice in Wonderland

When one makes an error in judgment or commits a crime, intent is often an element used to measure the severity of the actions and the appropriate consequences . A mistake absent intent is just a mistake. A crime one intends to commit is a different animal.

Another measure is how one responds to the discovery of such action. When the mistake or crime becomes known, how one takes responsibility after the fact speaks volumes.

The contrasts could not be more apparent with classified documents in the possession of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. (And apparently former Vice President Pence according to the latest news.)

In Mr. Biden’s case, his aides discovered the documents, notified the Justice Department and the National Archives, then immediately turned the documents over to the appropriate authorities. They went further and invited the Justice Department to conduct their own search of the locations, cooperating fully with access requests.

With Mr. Pence, early indications are he reacted in a similar manner to President Biden, notifying authorities and relinquishing the documents.

Mr. Trump denied he had any documents. Then claimed they were not, in fact, top secret documents but personal papers. Refused to allow the National Archives to search through these “personal” papers and, despite Herculean efforts to get him to cooperate, forced the Justice Department to obtain a Search Warrant.

I had many dealings with the US Department of Justice when I was a police officer. And while they have many talented and dedicated individuals doing the day-to-day work, as an entity they are risk-averse. We used to joke the Justice Department policy was, Big cases, Big problems. Little cases, Little problems. No cases, No problems. So for the Attorney General of the United States to authorize an application for a Search Warrant on the residence of a former President of the United States, they had come to a point where they had no other choice.

(On a side note, I would have loved to see the look on the face of the judge when they presented the warrant application. You want to search who?)

And even after the discovery and seizure of documents from Mar-e-Largo, Mr. Trump denied they were classified documents because he “thought” it so.

One shows character, and the other shows a lack thereof.

Joe Broadmeadow

Here’s the difference in a nutshell with a simple comparison.

If you back into a car in a parking lot, one type of person either waits for the owner, leaves a note with contact information taking responsibility, or calls the police. Another kind of person leaves the scene, tries to coverup the damage to their car, and, when the cops show up, denies it, denies it, denies it.

It wasn’t me! You got the wrong guy. Not my car. I wasn’t there.

One shows character, and the other shows a lack thereof.

Now, with all that said, it is time for a complete revaluation of the process by which those with such access to classified material take it away from the office. Frankly, I suspect a search of many former officeholders might find such material. That is a significant problem.

But it doesn’t mitigate the apparent differences in actions between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. One demonstrated the elements of conscience and truth, and the other tried to weasel out of it. Therein lies a big difference.

And in the big scheme of things, this may be the least of Mr. Trump’s “mistakes.” Something, perhaps, a judge could take into consideration during a sentencing hearing.

“Sexy” M&Ms: Good Reason NOT to be a Conservative

In this ever growing stranger by the day world, Mars Corporation (not the planet, the candy company) announced they were retiring for the moment the M&M character spokes(people?) because of criticism by conservatives. (See story here)

In truth they said it was for “marketing” purposes, but that’s like someone resigning from a high profile job to “spend more time with their family.” Everybody knows the real reason. Companies are so gun-shy of criticisms they crumble at the mere mention.

But that’s not the most troubling aspect of this. The truly astounding aspect is the news that Tucker Carlson, the poster boy for wacko conservatism, mistruths, and lack of integrity, finds the original M&M candy commercial characters “sexy.” and the newer version less so.

Really?

 ®Trademark Mars Corporation

This conjures up all sorts of images one cannot get out of one’s head. Carlson, in a smoking jacket and holding a snifter of brandy, surrounded by bags and bags of M&Ms anticipating a night of wild “plain or peanut” ecstasy. (Maybe the shape of the “peanut” variety is intentional and for a reason none of us ever expected?)

Ewwww.

Here’s some of the highlights from the story.

“The changes sparked controversy from conservatives like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who said the female M&Ms were now “less sexy” with their new footwear.

Here’s some quotes by the M&M hedonist.

 ‘M&Ms will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them.’

In particular, he objected to the changes to the orange M&M.

“Maybe he doesn’t like all the ugly new shoes he sees around him. Maybe he liked the sexy boots. Maybe the orange M&M is a secret sexist himself.”

I find it amusing that Carlson, as the face of irrational conservatism based on lies and inuendo, unintentionally unveiled what one would assume is a sexual proclivity most conservatives would find “offensive to God.”  A Sodom and Gomorrah level bemoaning the loss of a sexually exciting candy.

Who needs Viagra when you can buy M&Ms over the counter?

I am sure those who admire Carlson will claim it was sarcasm and humor aimed at making a point. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the 21st century version of “I only bought Playboy Magazine for the articles.” Right!.

Add this to the list of why I would not want to be a conservative.

How sweet it is.

Gender Fluidity and Other Mysteries

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,”
“But fundamentally, it would still be a rose.”

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (Addendum, Joe Broadmeadow)

At the considerable risk of taking on a subject I may not fully understand—it has never stopped me before, so why worry about it at this stage of the game—this whole gender identification, transgender, fluid gender, gender of the day phenomenon has me a bit befuddled.

Before I am inundated with all sorts of vitriol from they/them, he/she, us/we advocates, I remind you I prefaced this piece by admitting I may not fully understand it, implying I am willing to learn. However, I still have a perspective on these matters and will try to be open-minded.

What provoked this piece was an article in the New York Times (When Students Change Gender Identity, and Parents Don’t Know.)

I read the article and was a bit troubled by the premise that some school districts and the federal government have rules prohibiting parents from being informed if their child identifies as transgender at school and requests the school to keep the matter confidential.

I suppose the argument is valid if this were about an eighteen-year-old adult; adults make their own choices. But a minor child is both the responsibility and obligation of the parent to be involved in such decisions.

That some parents resist the notion of transgender as a scientifically established phenomenon has no bearing on the matter. They are the parents’ responsibility until a child is of age or lawfully emancipated.

Parents need to be involved in these decisions.

Adolescents have a well-established history and pattern of poor decision-making (goodness knows I made my share of questionable choices.) Furthermore, psychologists and other medical professionals agree that decision-making is an underdeveloped ability in adolescents.

It seems oddly incongruous that a parent would be informed of poor academic performance, poor attendance, or disruptive behavior, but the child can opt out of having their parents told they identify as something other than the sexual identity assigned at birth.

When one is born—and even before with ultrasound—the evidence of indoor or outdoor plumbing is pretty apparent (hermaphrodites are a different topic.) Gender assignment is not an arbitrary matter, but one of biology. Now, recognizing the development of nipples in a fetus begins before genetics determines the gender of the embryo (thus the strange phenomenon of men’s nipples which can be displayed in public as opposed to the female, which cannot) there is a clear delineation at birth in the gender department yet some individuals may be born with conflicting physical and psychological gender issues.

I recognize that such physical attributes may mask some differences internally and psychologically. But until one is an adult, exploring such a dramatic lifestyle change indeed mandates parental involvement.

There was a recent case addressing the issue and an amicus brief which does a masterful job of explaining why parental involvement is critical.

JOHN and JANE PARENTS 1 and JOHN PARENT 2,
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al.,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES
On appeal from the United States District Court
for the District of Maryland
Case No. 8-20-cv-3552-PWG
The Honorable Paul W. Grimm, Judge

AMICUS BRIEF OF DR. ERICA E. ANDERSON, Ph.D., SUPPORTING APPELLANT AND REVERSAL

Dr. Erica Anderson, Ph.D., a transgender person herself, wrote the brief to support a reversal of policies where parents are not informed by the school district of transgender issues involving their child. Dr. Anderson, who was reluctant to file the brief due to the generally anti-transgender agenda of the law firms involved, thought it a significant enough issue to overcome her initial reluctance and address the matter.

“Transitioning socially, Dr. Anderson wrote, ‘is a major and potentially life-altering decision that requires parental involvement, for many reasons.'”

When Students Change Gender Identity, and Parents Don’t Know

What these policies are trying to address are ignorance and bigotry, and in some cases outright hostility. The intent may be for good, but the implementation is catastrophic. Parents, even those who may be closed-minded to discussing the reality of their child’s situation, absent a court finding of parental failure, are entitled to know.

While most of us may never have to deal with such issues, we must keep a perspective while trying to support those in crisis. The fact that transgender people face discrimination and hostility shouldn’t mitigate common sense. You don’t fix a problem by hiding it from the very people most likely to have the greatest influence on the desired outcome; the well-being and psychological health of the child.

Parents need to act lawfully and responsibly in their care and the choices they make for their children. Still, the government has no business deciding what is right or wrong—religion, educational pursuits, and medical care all involve disparate options that are constitutionally guaranteed—absent a clear and present danger.

I may not understand the internal struggle a person dealing with gender issues endures, but I will support them in finding a way through. Yet, until they are adults, the parents must monitor and manage the child’s choice. There are many decisions people make in their lives others may find troubling. Religion, cultural norms, and living arrangements are all subject to the varieties of human choice and they are different for every one of us.

Preventing parents from knowing what their children are going through out of some sense of protecting the child will undoubtedly lead to more significant misunderstanding and turmoil in the lives of those we seek to support.

Here’s What I Hope…

Those of you who know me, or have read some of the things I’ve written, understand I have little faith (pun intended) in the validity of religion. I’m not troubled that people have faith, or that they profess it openly, but the inconsistencies of so many different religions all believing they are the right one make it all seem a jumbled mess.

But with that said, a wonderful woman who did hold an abiding faith passed away the other day. Theresa (Broadmeadow) Moreau was the last of her family to die. All her brothers and sisters, her husband, and her two children preceded her in death. While enduring such loss is unimaginable, she bore it as best she could.

I’ve written about her and her husband Ray Moreau before https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2022/07/07/to-honor-love-and-cherish/. They were two of the most special people one could ever hope to meet.

So I am going to indulge a bit in the unknown and revert to a simpler time in the past when, as a young boy, I was surrounded by those of faith and taught certain things as true.

I hope if there is a heaven Theresa and Ray Moreau are dancing there with Katherine(Broadmeadow) Szpila, Rose (Broadmeadow) Alves, Ed Broadmeadow, and my father Joe Broadmeadow all laughing along. I hope they’ve continued to embrace my mother, Margaret (Campbell) Broadmeadow as one of their own.

I hope Dave and Bob Moreau are making them laugh.

I hope the drinks and the jokes are flowing. (If there is a heaven, there has to be beer!)

I hope the Hi-Lo Jack games are never ending. (And Aunt Katherine, in case you are seeing this, I still bet four as long as I have an Ace and a partner.)

I hope they can relive those Christmas parties on Red Gate Road,

I hope they have each other for an eternity.

For if there were ever two people who deserved such a destiny, it was Theresa and Ray Moreau.

Signs

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign?

We are a nation of conflicts and inconsistencies. While Americans as a whole are kind, charitable, and welcoming of differences, they often demonstrate callous contradictory actions to their nature. There are many such examples but none so glaring as our fervent devolution into nationalism and claims of a foundational Christian religiosity.

This need to identify as an American and belief in our inherent superiority to all other nations causes us to lose sight of the connected nature of humanity. Coupled with religious fervor isolated to Judeo-Christian philosophy brings us into conflict with the stated freedoms of our constitution and the rights of all humans to determine their own destiny and choices.

Enshrined in the Constitution is the right to worship in any religion free from governmental interference. The constitution makes no mention of a specific religious doctrine, Christian or otherwise. This clearly implies two things.

First, freedom from government interference also means one cannot demand government support of religion unless that support is equally offered to all religions. That some of the founding fathers held Christian beliefs has no bearing on this freedom. Many of the founding fathers also held slaves, this hardly imbues slavery as a foundational basis for government, although it seemed so until the mid-nineteenth century.

Second, the freedom to choose which religion to follow also includes the freedom to choose no religion and to be protected from any demand, insistence, or subsidiary requirement by the government demanding you practice a religion or allow the use of tax dollars to support any religion.

Why does this matter, and how does this imply any inconsistency in the country? First, the rise of Christian Nationalism and the less sinister but equally troubling surge in demands for a return to the “Judeo-Christian” basis for this country (another misconception) conflicts with the lawful and constitutional practices and policy programs many demand of the government.

One cannot demand government support Christianity at the expense of those who hold no such beliefs or those who believe in a different deity.

This trend has risen several times in the nation’s history, but most recently began with the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance by President Eisenhower in 1954 to address the issue of the “godless” communists and the effort to assert the “moral superiority” of the American Capitalist system.

The more recent rise of Christian nationalism coincided with a remarkable decline in religious affiliation and a rise in agnosticism and atheism some may see as threat to their concept of America. The times they are a’changin’ and one cannot turn to government to stem the tide of human progress and intellectual expansion.

Most people probably don’t understand that the original writer of the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy, was a Baptist Minister and Christian Socialist. In 2022, historians raised the issue that Bellamy wasn’t the actual author but had stolen the words from a submission to the magazine where he worked. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/02/us/pledge-of-allegiance-francis-bellamy.html.

 The submission was part of the Columbian Exposition and Bellamy—author or not—turned the Pledge into a bit of a marketing tool to encourage “Americanization.”

“Bellamy was one of many Protestant Americans of northern European heritage who believed that new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, many of them Catholic, were harmful to the ,”American” way of life and that they needed to assimilate.” (https://www.history.com/news/pledge-allegiance-under-god-schools)

Thus the striking contradiction. The Pledge of Allegiance, originally written (or stolen) by a Baptist minister and socialist who did not include the words “under god,” was used to target other Christians to make them adapt to a different Christian philosophy as their Catholicism was a threat to the “American” way.

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign?

On a side note, in 2002, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin—recently deceased—wrote a majority opinion for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the words “one nation under God” violated the separation of church and state. He further wrote, “in the context of the pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is a profession of a religious belief, namely a belief in monotheism.”

The ruling was later reversed by the Supreme Court, but not on Constitutional grounds. The court never addressed the constitutional issue of the ruling but found that the individual who filed the suit lacked standing.

Doug Laycock, who filed a amicus brief on behalf of several Christian and Jewish clergy urging the court to uphold Judge Goodwin’s decision, wrote after the decision,

“For most Justices in the majority, this result avoided a very difficult problem: it was politically impossible to strike down the Pledge, and legally impossible to uphold it.”

The headlines read, “Supreme Court Upholds Under God In Pledge.” The truth was a different matter. They weaseled out of deciding the constitutional issue, and thus another glaring inconsistency reared its ugly head.

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign?

Yet the most significant inconsistency and contradiction in our claim to be a “Christian” nation lies in our response to immigration and claims for amnesty within the United States. While among those trying to get into this country there will always be some criminals and those who mean us harm, the overwhelming majority are so desperate as to leave everything—and risk everything—for the chance at the American dream and save the lives of themselves and their families.

Wouldn’t doing everything we could to welcome them—while using our intelligence and wisdom to separate out those who are problems—be the Christian thing to do?

If we are to claim we are a Christian nation, and the fundamental tenet of this faith lies in the Bible (all several hundred versions), then shouldn’t we act as instructed?


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

Matthew 25:35
Even the signs we post acknowledge the majority are desperate people seeking help, not murderers or rapists.

Yet, we do anything but. The state of Arizona tried to build a wall of shipping containers to keep out immigrants. Under President Trump, an even more massive wall project was undertaken. Politicians scream we are under invasion by criminals, rapists, and murderers waltzing across the borders.

I bet most Americans have never been to the border to see the truth.

Now I am hardly endorsing merely opening the border and letting in everyone. But those who would demand we are a Christian nation should adopt more than just a veneer of this claim. Instead, they should practice what they preach.

But the inconsistencies and contradictions are lost on most. It reminds me of those amateur sports enthusiasts who buy all the equipment, festoon themselves in the latest version of sports regalia, and pretend to be athletes, yet are never willing to put in the hard work and toil to be an athlete.

Until this country comes to terms with its own inconsistencies, being a “Christian” nation will have no more significance or value than calling ourselves a nation based on justice. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Courts are courts of law and not courts of justice.”

For now, we are also a country of laws. Justice may elude us for the moment, but it won’t be found in any claims of Christianity, nor should we make any effort to force it to be so.

And just for the record, I left out our inconsistency over criminal justice and gun control. Why bother when all we’ll do after the next mass shooting is shrug, sell some more Second Amendment T-shirts, and go back to our daily lives?

Do this don’t do that can’t you read the sign?

Signs (Five Man Electric Band)

And the sign says, “Long-haired freaky people need not apply.”
So I tucked all my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.
He said, “You look like a fine, upstanding young man – I think you’ll do.”
So I took off my hat and said, “Imagine that! Huh… me, working for you!” Woah-oh-oh.

Chorus:
Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs.
Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.
Do this! Don’t do that! Can’t you read the signs?

And the sign says, “Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight,”
So I jumped on fence and I yelled at the house,
“Hey! What gives you the right… To put up a fence to keep me out,
“Or to keep Mother Nature in?
“If God was here, He’d tell it to your face. ‘Man, you’re some kind of sinner.'”

Chorus:
Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs.
Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.
Do this! Don’t do that! Can’t you read the signs?

“Oh, say now mister, can’t you read?
“You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat.
“You can’t even watch, no, you can’t eat. You ain’t supposed to be here!”
And the sign says, “You gotta have a membership card to get inside.” Hooh!

And the sign says, “Everybody’s welcome to come in and kneel down and pray.”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn’t have a penny to pay.
So I got me a pen and paper and I made up my own little sign.
I said, “Thank you Lord for thinking about me. I’m alive and doing fine.”

Chorus x2:
Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs.
Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.
Do this! Don’t do that! Can’t you read the signs?

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs.

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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.

Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

Random collection of things that perhaps needed to be reworded, rewritten, or simply proofed for errors. And a lesson in humility.

Sign along highway in Tucson, Arizona.

Complete Cremations $1000

Is there an option for a partial cremation? Hey, I got $500, does that get me medium rare?

Sign a Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

Terminal Employee Parking

If they have that many soon-to-check-out employees, they might want to run tests on the environmental conditions since they need an entire parking lot for Terminal Employees.

Side note. The lot wasn’t even near the airport. They made the “terminal” employees use up what little time they had left walking a half-mile to their cars.

Sirius XM Holiday Radio Display Amazon Music

 The First Nowell…I have no words for this one except I learned something.

This one is a particularly abhorrent example. As a writer, there is nothing more telling of the effort made to create something than a spelling error. If you can’t make the effort to at least edit your writing and fix mistakes why should I spend any of my limited time on this planet reading it. It grieves me when I come across one in something I’ve released into the wild and I launch into a frenzy to fix it.

I can accept they may occur in a long piece and, if addressed properly, merely illustrate our human fallibility. But in a three word title of one of the most well known Christmas songs? Unforgivable.

But alas, it turns out I was wrong. The First Nowell, according to the Oracle of Wikipedia, “The First Nowell is a choral work for soprano and baritone soloists, SATB chorus and full orchestra by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams written in 1958 and completed by Roy Douglas following the composer’s death in August of that year.

The First Nowell (Noel) is a traditional English Carol of Cornish origin of the late middle ages included in the work.

In my haughtiness when collecting items for this piece I had laughed at the “spelling error” when I first saw it and couldn’t wait to point it out. Then, to my own horror, I find myself humbled by my own inferiority. A bit of research taught me a bit of humility, as well it should.

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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.

Classic Songs that are Lost on New Generations

Operator, Jim Croce

Operator
Oh, could you help me place this call?
You see the number on the matchbook
Is old and faded…

“Operator
Oh, let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time
Oh, you’ve been so much more than kind
You can keep the dime.

What’s an operator and why—or how for that matter—would I give her a dime?

The Letter, The Box Tops

“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter”

Letter? What’s a letter?  For that matter, why would a band go by the name “The Box Tops?”  What’s that all about?

Kodachrome, Paul Simon

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder I can think at all
And though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
Give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away”

What is Kodachrome and why do I need it to get nice bright colors and take a photograph? Isn’t that what a phone is for? Can you imagine having to wait to see the results of taking pictures? The anxious and hopeful anticipation as one went to the Fotomat (look it up) or local store, paid for the pictures, then opened the envelope to see if you’d captured the moment well.

While music is universal, often the lyrics once so impactful lose their effect over time. I’m willing to bet the vast majority of people born after the advent of email and text messaging have never received a hand written letter. Nor would they understand the concept of speaking to an operator to get a number or other information.

The idea of a “long distance” or “collect” call—except perhaps for those in prison—is something lost to history. Way back when one paid extra to call long distance—in this example Cumberland, RI to Boston, MA—I had a cousin going to school at Boston University, When he got back to school he would call his parents “collect” to tell them he had arrived. They would refuse the call, thus saving the cost and being assured of his safe arrival.

The distances that separate us become meaningless when one can video chat instantaneously across the globe.

During World War II, relatives at home would be reeling from the official government telegram—“we regret to inform you that your son has been killed…“— reporting the death of their loved ones while letters written by that same loved one would continue to arrive sometimes weeks later.

While technology has in many ways improved lives, it has also stripped away the personal touch of many forms of communication. Tweets and Snapchats have supplanted the thoughtfulness of a hand written note; addressed, stamped, and mailed to a friend, acquaintance, or loved one.

Or the skill required to speed dial a rotary phone trying to win a contest on the radio. (You did what?)

And I lament those long gone forms of communication. Even those frustrating busy signals (a what?) had a special place in the communication hierarchy. And every time I hear Croce sing, “you can keep the dime,” I recall those wonderful moments when I found forgotten change in a payphone (a what?).

Ah well, the times they are a’changin’.

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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.

The Magic and Universality of Communication

Our grandson, Levi, has entered the stage of learning words. While his understanding of various words began long ago, he is now in the exhilarating, entertaining, and somewhat dangerous stage of repeating everything he hears.

This necessitates a bit of caution on our part to avoid using various exclamatory or declaratory statements that often emerge during difficult or frustrating times. Otherwise, one risks the term being repeated, albeit with not perfect annunciation, ad infinitum.

It is a stage we will endure for the next few years.

Let me explain…

But the part I find the most fascinating is while we have been teaching him our language, he has been talking to us—and quite effectively conveying his meaning and desires—since he first learned to make sounds.

What started out as perhaps a smile and a bit of cooing has progressed to his coming into the house each morning when he is dropped off to spend the day and launching into a full-blown dialog detailing everything that has happened since we saw him last, mere hours ago.

While most of the words are unintelligible to us, he finds a way to get his point across. When asked about various activities, he will often just chuckle, smile, or say ‘yeah.’

Yet sometimes, I get the impression that he merely tolerates our inability to comprehend what must seem simple and straightforward.

It is a universal truth that the first thing a child learns is how to say no.

Talking to a nineteen-month-old underscores how most communication is non-verbal. Even when two humans try to communicate using totally different languages, they often get the point across. Whenever we travel to a country where English is not universally understood, we have mastered the universal language of hand gestures, pointing, and charades.

Levi is a master of getting his point across even if we have no idea what words he is saying to do it. So while I look forward to the time when we can share a common language and talk about the million things I want to share with him—and I am sure he feels the same way—I do enjoy the challenge of figuring out what he is trying to convey.

While language is one of the most important evolutionary developments of the human race, it is one small aspect of communication. Most communication is non-verbal, and Levi has already mastered that. With just the twinkle of an eye, a smile, a frown, or merely taking my hand and directing me to some new endeavor, Levi manages to “talk” to all of us every day.

I will cherish these moments all my days.

Another Year Over…a New One Just Begun

Another year over and it’s hard to fathom as we enter 2023. Seems almost like a dream when you consider that this nation of fifty states consisted of only forty-eight when I arrived on the planet back in pre-historic 1956. Things change over time; some we notice, some we don’t.

Now the years are rolling by me
They are rockin’ evenly
I am older than I once was
And younger than I’ll be, that’s not unusual
No it isn’t strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same

Paul Simon, The Boxer

I look in the mirror and sometimes I see my grandfather looking back at me. Other times I see those same eyes that first looked out a bedroom window on Harriet Lane in Cumberland RI in wonder at the stars.

The eyes remain the same, the things they’ve seen accumulate.

Each year we will lose some things and gain others. There will be memories we strive to hold onto and those we struggle to forget.

Life, death, joy, sorrow, anger, happiness, satisfaction, disappointment will each, in their turn, visit us. Some will be brief moments, others seemingly endless.

But they will pass as all things do.

In this my 66th New Year’s day, experience has taught me to expect the changes a new year brings. Some I look forward to, others I dread. But this I know, the inevitability of the passage of time is an irresistible force.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time…

James Taylor, Secret of Life

For this new year I wish you the wisdom to understand the changes you face, the opportunity to enjoy those wonderful moments, and the courage to endure those moments that try our souls.

A year from now, when we go about wishing others a Happy New Year for 2024, I hope the memories of the good things far outweighs the bad and that anything, or anyone, you’ve lost will be preserved in those precious memories.

I, for one, look forward to accumulating the memories.

Happy New Year and here’s to many more.

Life Finds a Way

While suffering through our Arizona cold spell—we barely hit 70° the day after Christmas—we walked along one of the many paths and trails near our house.

Along the way, the still unfamiliar (to me) flora and fauna offer an interesting view of life here in the desert. One cannot help but wonder at the diversity and tenacity of life under seemingly harsh and impossible conditions.

But life finds a way.

One such plant is the Desert Arrow-weed (also known as the Marsh Fleabane, even though marshes are scarce around here.)

Desert Arrow-weed

What caught my eye was the volume of seed spores—those tiny airborne wisps that float on the air currents—drifting by and the sheer number of seeds still clinging to the branches and stems. Just the number alone, one would think the area would be covered with these weeds.

Still, the reality is the chance of even one of these seeds, blown without any specific navigational intent, settling onto a fertile spot and surviving to someday produce its own voluminous output of seeds is infinitesimally small.

But life finds a way.

It is in the very nature of nature to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds against it. If even just one seed takes root, it may produce seeds that thrive at a higher rate, and the species survive.

Throughout the history of the world, most species that have existed since life first evolved have faded into oblivion. The natural changes in the earth’s environment—global warming is both a natural occurrence and one sped up by anthropomorphic actions—benefit some species and doom others to extinction.

Changes will continue in the coming new year. Some will thrive, while others will fade away. Yet we humans have a unique opportunity to make a difference. This evolutionary experiment of consciousness and self-awareness, the ability to seek an understanding of our place, and our responsibility to preserve life on earth, provides us with the ability to enhance our survival while minimizing our impact on other species.

There are signs of our progress everywhere. But, sadly, there are tragic reminders of the lingering violent primitive nature of our evolution still rampaging throughout the world.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from the Desert Arrowweed. Despite all the examples of the evil humans are capable of, the possibility of one seed taking root to sustain rather than suppress life exists.

I wish you the happiest of New Year’s and encourage you all to look to the future with hope and determination to make a difference. Remember, it only takes one tiny seed…