Friday, February 5, 2016

Don't Look Back

The song playing at the restaurant I was at for lunch had the following lyrics:
Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me?
Got me down in Mississippi where I don't want to be.
Switch Mississippi for Alabama and that was me 6 months ago. It was ironic because I went yesterday and got my new Vermont license plates and driver's license. I am now an official citizen of Vermont. I was even able to register to vote as part of my driver's license application.  The bad thing is Becoming a Vermont citizen is quite expensive and I still have to pay for my car to be inspected and to get holes drilled on my front bumper to be able to mount the front license plate.

I'd planned to get them back on my birthday but had forgotten some of my documents and had to go home. By the time I got home, it had been almost 24 hours since I'd heard from my best friend and I tried desperately to get in touch with him only to find out that night that he'd died in a car accident. It has taken me this long to be able to go and try again. Plus, I had the afternoon off today.

Back to the song above, I had no idea who the artist was or the name of the song. I did some searching and found out that it is by The SteelDrivers and is called "Ghosts of Mississippi." Here are the full lyrics:

Late one night behind corn whiskey

I fell asleep with a guitar in my hand

I dreamed about the ghosts of Mississippi

And the blues came walkin' in like a man

Without a word I passed that guitar over

He tuned it up like I'd never seen

A crooked smile was his expression

Then he closed his eyes and began to sing


Oh Lord why have you forsaken me

Got me down in Mississippi where I don't want to be

Oh Lord why have you forsaken me

Got me down in Mississippi where I don't want to be

(repeat chorus)

When I woke up I looked into the mirror

I saw no reflection for a while

But as my eyes came into focus

I recognized that crooked smile

(repeat chorus)

Late one night behind corn whiskey

I fell asleep with a guitar in my hand

I dreamed about the ghosts of Mississippi

And the blues came walkin' like a man

(repeat chorus)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

For Your Boy

This is a World War I poster that I came across that I absolutely love. This poster for the United War Work Campaign shows a man in military uniform pouring a cup of tea for a young soldier seated with a rifle across his lap and helmet at his feet. The "boy" is quite handsome, and he is looking admiringly at the other man. I'm sure that cup of coffee/tea from the YMCA tasted very good after being in combat.

On September 9, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson wrote to Raymond Fosdick, coordinator of the War Department’s Commission on Training Camp Activities. The end of the war was in sight, and it was estimated that the demobilization of nearly four million U.S. troops would require at least two years and a staggering sum for programs to maintain morale. Interestingly, the poster above is dated November 11-18, 1918. The war ended on November 11th, though I cannot find any reference to this poster being made to mark the end of the war.  It seems to be a coincidence. The end was more than in sight when these dates occurred.

Wilson requested that aid organizations pool their resources on a massive single campaign to raise funds for soldier-morale programs “in order that the spirit of the country in this matter may be expressed without distinction of race or religious opinion in support of what is in reality a common service.” Seven organizations—the YMCA, YWCA, American Library Association, War Camp Community Service, National Catholic War Council (Knights of Columbus), Jewish Welfare Board, and Salvation Army—set out to raise $170 million during a one-week fundraising drive in November 1918. With a nearly $1 million operating budget, a National Publicity Committee was formed and chaired by Bruce Barton, a magazine editor who was an official with the YMCA. All media would be employed: print, outdoor advertising, leaflets, stickers, lapel pins, radio spots, motion-picture shorts.

The resulting United War Work Campaign was a resounding success, raising more than $203 million for soldier-aid programs. It was hailed in the press at the time as the largest fundraising event in history.

Here is another poster from the same campaign but this one features General Pershing:

The caption reads: Cabled from France August 21st, 1918, "A sense of obligation for the varied and useful service rendered to the army in France by the Y.M.C.A. prompts me to join in the appeal for its further financial support. I have opportunity to observe its operations, measure the quality of its personnel and mark its beneficial influence upon our troops, and I wish unreservedly to commend its work for the Army." Pershing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

See Monday's Post

Thank you all for the advice you have given me about my headaches. I plan to try the essential oils.  Many of the conventional cures for cluster headaches, I went with my doctor.  I have a type called chronic cluster headaches because while they hurt in the same place as traditional cluster headaches and go in cycles, there is no relief during one of the cycles like in regular episodic cluster headaches.  Also, I do take Verapamil every day, which has for the most part, lessened the intensity and frequency of the cluster headaches.  I have been under a lot of emotional stress since my friend died and it caused the frequency to be more often.  

I've tried Imitrex as an abortive measure, and found that it intensifies the headaches.  I think it is because it is a traditional triptan and it raises my blood pressure, thus nullifying the effects of the Verapamil. For the really bad cluster headaches I take a combination of Flexeril and Bupap or Flexeril and Norco (the Norco is much less effective than its predecessor Lortab). Either combination seems to work. The problem is that Flexeril, I need asleep for at least 10 hours or I am groggy and can barely stay awake, so I need time to go to bed and sleep off the cluster headache, which I did last night.
I completely understand why cluster headaches are called suicide headaches.  The pain can be so intense that you really think death could be an alternative.  While I have felt that way, I know the medications work and when I take my medication, the feeling of about 30 minutes later of the easing of pain is (almost) better than an orgasm.
I know for at least one person this post might seem familiar, but since I had a headache last night, I largely cut and pasted from our email the day before.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Election Day, November, 1884

Election Day, November, 1884
By Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing
   and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the still small voice vibrating—America’s
   choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont,
   Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

The United States presidential election of 1884 was the 25th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1884. It saw the first election of a Democrat as President of the United States since the election of 1856. The campaign was marred by exceptional political acrimony and personal invective.

New York Governor Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican former United States Senator James G. Blaine of Maine to break the longest losing streak for any major party in American political history: six consecutive presidential elections.

The issue of personal character marked was paramount in the 1884 campaign. Blaine had been prevented from getting the Republican presidential nomination during the previous two elections because of the stigma of the "Mulligan letters": in 1876, a Boston bookkeeper named James Mulligan had located some letters showing that Blaine had sold his influence in Congress to various businesses. One such letter ended with the phrase "burn this letter", from which a popular chant of the Democrats arose - "Burn, burn, burn this letter!" In just one deal, he had received $110,150 (over $1.5 million in 2010 dollars) from the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad for securing a federal land grant, among other things. Democrats and anti-Blaine Republicans made unrestrained attacks on his integrity as a result. Their slogan was "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the State of Maine." Cleveland, on the other hand, was known as "Grover the Good" for his personal integrity; in the space of the three previous years he had become successively the mayor of Buffalo, New York, and then the governor of the state of New York, cleaning up large amounts of Tammany Hall's graft.

Commentator Jeff Jacoby notes that, "Not since George Washington had a candidate for president been so renowned for his rectitude." In July the Republicans found a refutation buried in Cleveland's past. Aided by sermons from an opportunistic preacher named George H. Ball, they charged that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while he was a lawyer in Buffalo. When confronted with the scandal, Cleveland's immediately instructed his supporters to "Above all, tell the truth." Cleveland admitted to paying child support in 1874 to Maria Crofts Halpin, the woman who claimed he fathered her child, named Oscar Folsom Cleveland. Halpin was involved with several men at the time, including Cleveland's friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom, for whom the child was named. Cleveland did not know which man was the father; he assumed responsibility because he was the only bachelor among them. Shortly before election day, The Republican media published an affidavit from Halpin in which she stated that until she met Cleveland her "life was pure and spotless", and "there is not, and never was, a doubt as to the paternity of our child, and the attempt of Grover Cleveland, or his friends, to couple the name of Oscar Folsom, or any one else, with that boy, for that purpose is simply infamous and false." Republican cartoonists across the land had a field day.

Cleveland's campaign decided that candor was the best approach to this scandal: it admitted that Cleveland had formed an "illicit connection" with the mother and that a child had been born and given the Cleveland surname. They also noted that there was no proof that Cleveland was the father, and claimed that, by assuming responsibility and finding a home for the child, he was merely doing his duty. Finally, they showed that the mother had not been forced into an asylum; her whereabouts were unknown. Blaine's supporters condemned Cleveland in the strongest of terms, singing "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?" (After Cleveland's victory, Cleveland supporters would respond to the taunt with: "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.") However, the Cleveland campaign's damage control worked well enough and the race remained a tossup through Election Day. The greatest threat to the Republicans came from reformers called "Mugwumps" who were angrier at Blaine's public corruption than at Cleveland's private affairs.

In the final week of the campaign, the Blaine campaign suffered a catastrophe. At a Republican meeting attended by Blaine, a group of New York preachers castigated the Mugwumps. Their spokesman, Reverend Dr. Samuel Burchard, made this fatal statement: "We are Republicans, and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion." Blaine did not notice Burchard's anti-Catholic slur, nor did the assembled newspaper reporters, but a Democratic operative did, and Cleveland's campaign managers made sure that it was widely publicized. The statement energized the Irish and Catholic vote in New York City heavily against Blaine, costing him New York state and the election by the narrowest of margins. New York decided the election, awarding Governor Cleveland the state's 36 electors by a margin of just 1,047 votes out of 1,171,312 cast.

The Election of 1884 is one of the most fascinating to me. The other is the election of 1912 when a Democrat won again for the first time since Cleveland's second term, which by the way was nonconsecutive the only such candidate to do so in history. The 1912 election was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called his own convention and created the Progressive Party (nicknamed the "Bull Moose Party"). It nominated Roosevelt and ran candidates for other offices in major states. Democrat Woodrow Wilson was finally nominated on the 46th ballot of a contentious convention, thanks to the support of William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate who still had a large and loyal following in 1912. Eugene V. Debs, running for a fourth time, was the nominee of the Socialist Party of America.

Wilson won the election, gaining a large majority in the Electoral College and winning 42% of the popular vote, while Roosevelt won 27%, Taft 23% and Debs 6%. Wilson became the only elected president from the Democratic Party between 1892 and 1932, and the second of only two Democrats to be elected president between 1860 and 1932. This was the last election in which a candidate who was not a Republican or Democrat came second in either the popular vote or the Electoral College, and the first election in which all 48 states of the contiguous United States participated.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Head Exploding

Last night, just before I started to write my blog for Monday, I had an intense headache. Without a doubt it is a cluster headache because it has the usual symptoms. The guy in the picture kind of describes it. He's sitting up because it's too painful to lay down. He's covering his eyes with his arm and pressing the back of his head where the other pain is located. I fucking hate these headaches.

Sunday, January 31, 2016



And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. - James 4:3

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. - John 15:7

Pray without ceasing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. - Hebrews 11:6

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that since the death of my friend, I have suffered from a crisis of faith. It got bad enough that I turned over my Sunday posts to the wisdom of Michael Dodd, because I could not find the faith to write an uplifting and inspirational post. Four things have helped me recover my faith. One, God never abandoned me. We may not have been on speaking terms, but he was still with me and in my heart. Two, John (The Closet Preacher) helped me to see that sometimes tragedies happen, but they aren't God's fault. I'd always believed that all things happened for a reason, but John helped me realize that sometimes there is no reason. Three, one friend told me that maybe God had brought my friend into my life to help prepare me for my move to Vermont and that he had served his purpose for God. While I don't think that I was his only purpose, I do believe that God put him in my life for a certain period of time to help me. I don't think I was ready to let go of that help, but God had other ideas and my friend is now there with the Heavenly Hosts and is still looking down on me and continues to help, which brings me to my fourth reason. The other day, I was going through some old emails, particularly those sent by my friend. The email below was from him (though I took a few personal paragraphs out). As I read it, I realized that my faith is continuing to grow and that my friend would be saddest by the crisis of faith that I experienced after his death.

So I thought I'd send you a couple of things I heard today at church. Just because they meant something to me and I wanted to share.

First thing he did was ask anyone with an iPhone to raise their hands. Then he asked how many of us use Siri. Then he posed this question. Why is it so easy to turn to Siri or Google for trivial answers, but so hard sometimes to turn to God in prayer to get answer to life's most important questions or to get his guidance in our lives. Wow.

Then he talked about our approach to prayer. Is it more like picking up the phone, placing a take out order, then hanging up thinking that's all we need to do or do we take time to meditate and think about the things we want to talk with God about? And he purposely used the word WITH not TO. He said we need to approach prayer as if we are engaging in a conversation, but respectfully because God is our Heavenly Father. He is our father so we can think about him that way and have a conversation WITH him. He also said not to worry if our prayers are clumsy or not perfect. God knows our hearts and will listen.

He then talked about receiving answers to our prayers. He said most prayers aren't necessarily answered on our knees. Sometimes they are so we need to take time to listen during and after our prayers. But they often come thru other people or other means. And we will know that we received an answer because we will know it in our hearts and God communicates spirit to spirit.

Then he gave us three important things we need in order to receive answers to prayers

  1. Faith that we will receive answers.
  2. We need to seek for answers not just ask and sit back waiting. He said we need to do our part. Asking is the first part, acting is the second. We should study scripture or other uplifting words, or meditate and study it out in our minds, and share our questions with others.
  3. Recognize how answers come. Listen to who might be inspired to give us direction. In all cases, we will receive a confirmation in our minds and hearts that we receive the answer if we are truly open to receiving answers regardless of what the answers may be. Sometimes the answer is no or to do things a different way.

Then we ended the meeting by singing "Sweet Hour of Prayer". I'm guessing you know this hymn and may even sing it in your church. Anyway the song and words are beautiful and really meaningful.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your Sunday posts. They always get me thinking. And this time it got me to act. Thanks for your friendship and always being there to help, inspire and humor me. I feel very fortunate to call you my friend and hope that I am able to return that friendship back as much as possible.

And so I will end this post just like that preacher did about eighteen months ago. May God Bless you all.

Sweet Hour of Prayer
By William W. Walford

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moment of Zen: Snow

Living up here in yankeeland, I'm probably not supposed to get so excited about the snow, but I do.  I just love it. I'm not fond of driving in it, but as long as I don't have to drive in it, I find it beautiful and relaxing.