Monthly Archives: May 2022

The inconvenience of being human

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

Last night I was re-reading some of A. Grove Day’s, Coronado’s Quest.  It’s a middling good history of the Spanish conquest of the American Southwest and the earliest encounters between Spaniards and Amerindians in the unexplored reaches north of Mexico.

In 1537, Pope Paul III issued a Papal Bull declaring that the Indians were human and that they couldn’t be enslaved or driven off their lands without the folks doing it having to fear excommunication from the Church.  This represented a considerable inconvenience for the Spaniards, who had a lot of work that needed doing and didn’t want to have to do it themselves.

Mexico already had a population of black slaves almost as large as the population of Spaniards, but getting more was an expensive problem involving capture and transportation, whereas the local Indians were easier to get at, so they had to find ways to circumvent the newly discovered human status.

Reading all that got me thinking.  Nowadays we’ve mostly all been declared human.  It’s lost the moxie it once had.  Almost no protection to be found anymore in just being human.

Seems to me what’s needed now is something akin to an endangered species status to get things going more along the lines his Holiness intended for the American Indians (but didn’t quite achieve).

Okay.  A person kills a bald eagle or a whooping crane, he’s going to do some serious time.  But if that same person kills a mere human being, it’s two-to-five.  That’s provided the person he kills isn’t a police officerPolice already enjoy something akin to an endangered species status when it comes to getting himself killed.  That’s in spite of the fact that the cop shops in this country are growing almost as fast as the prisons.  (Not to mention their exclusive retirement systems and special health care systems comparable to those gravy trains the US Congress gives itself).

No.  What I’m talking about is something the man on the street can benefit from, along with his family.  Something to keep the wife and kids from getting shot on a street corner.  That sort of thing.

Something along the lines of a Papal Bull declaring particular sorts of people both non-human and of a species that’s dying out fast.

People born before 1950 might be a good place to start.

An attractive tag worn in the ear, maybe a tattoo in some obvious place to notify the casual killers on both sides of the law that need to take a miss on this one.

Wonder how a person would go about getting something like that organized.


Lotteries, education and practical math

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

I was sitting here messing with the numbers trying to get back into things after several days of not doing it, but one side of my mind was kicking around the issue of lottery funding of education.  It’s an ongoing set of discussions on the threads, all facets of the matter.

A couple of decades ago I had the experience for several years of hiring newly graduated BS and BA rosy cheeks into a professional staff.  During that time I made a lot of false assumptions.  One of those false assumptions was that the people I had working for me could read and write in English sufficiently to author business letters.

One day I was subpoenaed to testify in a matter involving issues my staff had been peripherally involved in for several years and had written a lot of letters concerning the matter in dispute.

I spent a couple of days on the witness stand with attorneys holding up poster sized copies of letters written by my staff for me and the jury to try and decipher some meaning from.

The result was that when I returned to my duties a number of my staff members were given a choice of not writing letters or taking a night-course in remedial English.

Okay.  That experience is the launch-pad.

Those education dollars aren’t resulting in students learning the basic skills in much of anything we’d qualify as an education.  But nowadays gambling money is being used to sponsor more of the same.

So how about this:

Let the schools offer courses in ‘practical education’ to help provide more dollars for education funding.

Offer courses in Lottery OddsV-tracWheels.

Give them the means to hold their own against a casino.  Teach them whether to split a pair of 8s when they’re looking at a dealer 10 on a blackjack table.  Whether to hit a 12 looking at a dealer 12.  Whether to hit a 14 looking at a dealer 12.  Whether to hit a soft 17.

Teach them stud poker.  Teach them the odds when they find themselves in the worst hand possible on a poker table….. a low full house in the first five cards looking across the table at trip Aces.  Teach them they got to bet them high and risk sleeping in the gutter.

Teach them to deal cards so they can get jobs in gambling joints when they get out of high school.

Those kids need to be taught something while they’re in school.  Might as well make it something that will help them make more money for education.


False impressions

Jack wrote this in December, 2005. I wrote a response to it afterwards which is at the end of the post.

Evening blogsters:

I’m in a mood to muse a bit.  The urge comes at a convenient time.

The fact I’m a middling good writer and I use my writing on this blog as an instrument for reflection shouldn’t be taken by any of you as evidence I’m someone you’d want to know in real life.

It just ain’t true.

I enjoy doing this blog.  I try to be a straight shooter and never misrepresent what I am, what I believe, what I feel.  I do my best not to intrude into the lives of others, get into their business, tell them what to do.  Sometimes I don’t succeed in that regard and I overstep my self-established boundaries.

But tonight I’m a bit troubled, a bit rattled, even a bit doubtful whether all this blogging is a good idea.

I’ve said what I am many times on this blog, many of the facets of my character.  I’ve tried to offer the unvarnished truth as I see it.  There shouldn’t be any reason for anyone who’s read it to think for a moment you want to get to know me better.

I’m just me, blogsters.  I like myself a lot and I get a lot of joy out of my own company.   I’m happy if some of what I’ve shared here gave you some laughs and amusement, but you’d be entirely wrong if you allowed yourself to believe there’s anything here for you but my thoughts, my words and my best wishes.


Jeanne wrote:
I suspect the inclination for folks out there in internetland to feel a connection with you has a variety of reasons. I’ll speculate a little bit.

You are good at describing thoughts and inclinations which we all recognize to some degree, but it’s unusual for some of us to find these words written by someone with an obvious sense of self-awareness as well as a sense of humor. You putting your “unvarnished truth” on “paper” is a far cry from what we read in the newspapers, see on TV, read in most popular magazines, or even on a lot of other blogs. Even if we don’t agree, your honesty is apparent. So we admire you for your talent and identify you as an interesting and unique person the more you write. That’s an attraction. It’s an attraction to an intangible, but still an attraction. Maybe it’s a part of ourselves that we see in you, but keep hidden in ourselves because we aren’t generally working hard to be that honest.
So I’m not talking about whether you have “good” habits or beliefs that we share, I’m just talking about the honesty that is projected in your writing. Reading this is refreshing. And sometimes inspiring.
So we are attracted to honesty. But we still aren’t used to it. We think “Hm… well, maybe he *thinks* he is a flawed individual, but maybe he really isn’t so flawed, maybe he’s just unable to see the qualities that I admire. Most of us can’t.and if most of US can’t recognize our own “goodness” why should he be able to? So maybe he’s not so awfully “flawed” after all. Or maybe I can handle those flaws because they are mine, too. Also, maybe I’d like to get to know him better, because he’s got some qualities I’d like to cultivate, and one of those is honesty. I could learn some things from him, maybe. In fact, I think I’d like to actually meet this person sometime.”
So we jump to conclusions about you. We forget that we can’t see most of the details, after all, you do put a lot of detail in your blog. And because you speak to us with the intimacy of a friendship, we as your readers feel like your friends since we can overlook all sorts of things that would be impossible to avoid off the internet.
So if the occasional individual needs a bit of a reminder to bring them out of the internet world of connections and speculations about relationships and back to a more practical reality, I’d hope you could just continue to be gentle about it and not distress yourself about whether the blogging itself is a good idea. The risks are there for all kinds of interactions and it could be lots worse.
Keep blogging….and thanks for the smiles.

Moot points in the modern world

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

I see there’s a considerable stink being raised over whether the Patriot Act gets renewed by the US Congress because of infringements on the privacy of Americans.  I’ll confess I’m generally opposed to a statute that allows circumvention of the US Constitution insofar as searches without warrants and abuses by official agencies in matters not involving national security.

However, having said that, I suggest it’s a moot point.

I have in front of me a cheap cellular telephone.  But it has a proven capability of recording a conversation between US Border Patrol agents sitting in the next booth in a restaurant.  Taking their pictures, both still, and video.

This is reality.

Maybe runaway technology is a good thing.  Maybe the certainty that we no longer have any privacy will finally provide a motivation for us to behave the ways we should have been behaving all along.  If we believe we have any dark secrets now we’re probably wrong in thinking so.

But if this $30 cellular phone will do what it will do, you can bet there are hundreds, maybe thousands of instruments in the hands of businesses, government agencies, and nosy neighbors to assure there’s no longer anything worth trying to hide.

Yeah, I oppose searches without warrants, particularly those conducted without my knowledge.  But the fact is, if it happens to me I’ll know.  The thumb-sized security camera installed in front of my house to record anyone approaching when I’m gone will get it all down for the record.

I don’t have any privacy, you don’t have any privacy, the US Border Patrol doesn’t have any privacy, and the cop who stops you for a burned out tail-light doesn’t have any privacy.

We’re all just going to have to start behaving ourselves.


Lotteries, horoscopes and tattoos

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Who’d ‘a thunk it, innocent blogsters:

I just read a thread saying those were the most searched for words on AOL.  Plus it provided other words also heavy into the search engine league.

So let’s get some action here.

I don’t know what Sudoku is, but it sounds vaguely Nipponese.  Might well be something good to eat, raw fish with spikes all over it and poisonous unless carefully prepared, but delicious.

Noticed how RINGTONES have changed over the years?  Used to be they were mostly gold, silver, platinum, brass, copper, iron, usual stuff.  Now they’re all manner of other colors and shades.  Plus they have a different sound.  People are searching for rings with different sounds.  Colors.  Make sense?  No.

IRS and jokes are up there high, neighbors in the search game living next door to one another, which seems appropriate.  Those AOL searchers first go to the IRS site and provide themselves with a downer and a shot of Jack Daniels Black.  Then they ponder whether to shoot themselves and decide what they need is a good joke, instead, for an upper.

American Idol, hairstyles and NASCAR.

Whew.  Nice combo.  I’m trying to visualize the hairstyle a person would put on an American Idol…. coming up with something between an Elvis ducktail and a Jimi Hendrix Afro… but neither of those is likely to blow in the wind the way it should speeding around a track hitting stuff wheels flying balls of fire and explosions of gasoline cheering crowds.  I’m not sure how all that fits together.

I’m running out of steam running out trotlines for AOL searchers, but I’m safe.  Fact is, Lottery…. yeah, lottery is right up there among the most searched for words.  And Lottery Post is the most searched for combination of words those smart AOL types are after.  That and gas prices.

Lotteries, hairstyles and tattoos.

Boggles the mind, knowing what Americans are looking for on the internet.

And this blog’s what they’re gonna find instead.

Better.  Far better.


I’ll call your Bronze Star and raise a DSC

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

This is getting hilarious.

Got some member of Congress wearing his Bronze Star, some ex-sergeant from NY with a DSC and nominated for some higher decorations saying, “I got more medals than you, so I know more.  I ain’t been elected to anything, but I been nominated for a Medal of Honor.  You don’t know jack.  I know lotsa stuff.”


Where’s my Good Conduck Medal?  Ahhh.  I remember now.  I didn’t get one because of that incident down in the village.

Here’s a war on a slippery slope, folks.  Public opinion polls show support for the prez and the war are declining steadily.  Those opportunists in both parties are going to listen to those polls.  They’re both wanting to have some seats in Congress and maybe a prez elected next time around.

Ain’t going to help to hook a microphone into the grave of Audie Murphy to ask what he thinks, despite all his decorations.  Ain’t going to help to trot out your Hectors and Ajaxes to spout your line and parrot the opinions you fed him.  All his Charlie McCarthying ain’t going to win no votes.

Those polls are speaking and the smart money’s on the politicians who are listening.



Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

I just read Tiger Angel’s blog about the battle with the molar.  Whew.  Makes me feel lucky to be me this morning.  It ought to make you lucky to be you if you don’t happen to be Tiger Angel and can’t be me.

TA didn’t get that tooth out last night so far as I could tell by the time the Ibuprofen kicked in and souped up with the wine.  So it sounds as though there’ll be another session with the needle nosed pliars before this full moon goes down.

Speaking of which, that old moon’s looking good.  Pause and take a look at it as you go off where ever you’re going.

The full moon’s precisely the time when you’re supposed to pull teeth and cut hair, if I remember my Farmer’s Almanac admonishments correctly.  Hmmmmm.  On the other hand, maybe it’s the other way around.  Maybe the full moon is absolooooooootle the time you’re not supposed to take out a tooth or cut hair.  Too early in the morning to try to sort it out.

Anyway, you blogsters who aren’t Tiger Angel, you pause a moment to look at that full moon.  Think about Tiger Angel and be grateful it ain’t you trying to take out a pesky molar.  And think some good thoughts for TA, thoughts of that molar popping right out easy and painless this morning, leaving whatever’s the antithesis of a dry socket.

Have a great one,


I wish I’d said that

Jack wrote this in December, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

Last night’s entry told about an encounter I had yesterday at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Truth or Consequences, NM.  This is a continuation of that anecdote.  If you’re just tuning in you might enjoy the story more if you go back and read the previous two entries (and the comment I left on the first of the two) before you read this one.

Visits to the Vietnam War Memorial Wall are always a moving experience for me, to one degree or another.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s the one in Washington, D.C., the moving Wall, or the one in the Vietnam War Memorial Park in Truth or Consequences.  The weight of emotion going with the visits appears to depend on how long it’s been since the last one.  Not much else.

Yesterday, the man I’m calling Jonas was wandering back along the wall with me.  We were roughly at the middle of the wall, his van about 50 yards in one direction, my truck the same distance in the other.  We were talking about other things, just chatting, while our eyes moseyed over the names on the wall as we talked.

A large, fancy motor home pulling a trailer with a fancy little 4×4 on it pulled into the driveway and parked near my truck.  We both watched as a mid-50s lady with a large dog on a leash got out, yelling over her shoulder to the driver.  She took the dog to the nearest tree, then followed him to a squatting place, still yelling back at the truck.  She was wearing a stylish running suit and hair that looked well-protected by spray epoxy.

The driver emerged from the truck about the time the dog was finishing his business.  Mid-50ish guy, nice enough looking, affluent, subdued, wearing a matching running suit to his wife.  He wasn’t paying much attention to his wife and her harangues as he drifted to the sidewalk in front of the Wall looking over the names and Jonas and me.

Meanwhile ms wifey caught up to him, still scowling and pointing, complaining about the park, the wall, the wind, whatever.

“Man.  I’m glad I’m not married to that woman!”  Jonas muttered under his breath as we both studied them sidewise.

The hubby hung back a bit looking at the names on the wall, but wifey walked right up to us.  “Isn’t this pitiful?”

Neither of us spoke, wondering where she was going with this.

“This whole thing here remembering Vietnam and not one mention of Iraq!”  She peered into our faces.  “I’ll bet you’re both vets aren’t you?”

We sort of nodded.

“Look at what they’re doing now.  Paying no attention to what happened in Vietnam.  Trying to force us to get out of Iraq the same way we left Vietnam!”

Jonas perked up.  “Just a minute, Ma’am.  Do you recall what happened in Vietnam after we left?”

Her voice went shrill.  “They killed half the country.  That Pol Pot thing.”

Jonas:  “That was Cambodia.  We weren’t in Cambodia except to block the Ho Chi Mihn Trail.  Left after Parrot’s Beak.  We were fighting in Vietnam.  What happened there after we left?”

She:  “They went Communist.  North Vietnam took over the whole country.”

Jonas:  “Yeah.  But what happened there that was so bad it was worth one more American life to keep it from happening?”

She:  “Stutterstammer.”

Jonas:  “Nothing.  Right?”

She, turning her eyes to her hubby for support.  Him studying the wall.

Jonas:  “So if nothing happened in Vietnam after we lost and left that was worth one more American man dying for, what about these?”  He gestured to the Wall with the hundred yards of names of dead men.  “Those men died to keep what happened when we left from happening earlier.  That’s all.

“If it wasn’t worth one more American life to keep it from happening, and it wasn’t, then it wasn’t worth all these.  All these men died for something that wasn’t worth a single American dying for.  Same with Iraq.”

By the time he finished she was ten feet away and rolling.

Yeah.  I wish I’d said it.



Doctor Jonas

Jack wrote this in December, 2005. I’m adding the next post he made to the end of this one, and there is another one about this encounter tomorrow.

Hi blogsters:

The town of Truth or Consequences installed a Vietnam Memorial Wall in 1982.  A replica of the Wall in Washington, D.C., in a city part a mile off IH25.  It’s a good stopping place for stretching your legs, munching a sandwich and pondering as a break on the long drive between El Paso and Albuquerque.

Today I pulled in there figuring to do a hamburger and the stretch routine.  Down at the other end was a beat up brown Econoline van with POW MIA stickers on it and a painted sign along the top:  RAINBOW CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES.

Beside the van cooking something on a Coleman stove on legs was a guy I haven’t seen in a long while.  Doctor Jonas.  He looked up when I got out of the truck and we waved at one another from a hundred yards, then he went on cooking while I strolled leisurely along the wall, as I’m prone to do.

“Life good, brother Jack?”  As I neared him, from about 30 yards.  Jonas, I observed, was still wearing old BDUs and more hair than any man needs.  He had the look of a man with an odor, though I can’t say I noticed one about him.

“Still good, Jonas.”  He turned down the stove and took a few steps in my direction, arms extended.  “We don’t hug, Jonas.”  I held out a hand for shaking, instead (in lieu of the hug).  “How’s the preaching business?”

“Get’s tougher all the time.”

We wandered back toward the van and he turned the stove back up.

Jonas is usually known as Doctor Jonas.  He carries the Christian gospel to the street people, speed freaks, street prostitutes in Albuquerque.  His foot in the door with them is that he uses skills acquired during two tours as a combat medic in Vietnam to provide them with unofficial medical care.

Jonas is something of an institution.  He funds his ministry by bringing prescription anti-biotics, anti-inflamatories and whatnot up from Mexico and selling them to illegal aliens in Albuquerque.  That, and selling a bit of jade on the side keeps him preaching and ministering to people who need it as badly as anyone in the US can need it.

As we talked I heard a moan from inside the van.  I shot a questioning glance at Jonas and he just shrugged.  “Junkie having a try at withdrawal.  I brought him down to Caballo where I thought I could keep a better eye on him, but the Park Pigs were getting too nosy.”

Another of Jonas’s services.  He serves as a nursemaid and guardian angel for people going through withdrawal from hard drugs.  I never saw the guy in the truck, but he moaned on and off all the time we were near enough to the van to hear him.

We talked a bit longer and I had an, “I wish I’d said that” experience before I left, which I’ll relate to you maybe in the next entry.


A bit more Jonas

I’m going to save the “I wish I’d said that” portion of today’s Jonas encounter for tomorrow, but I’ve re-read the anecdote below and I feel I need to broaden the brush stroke on him a bit.

Jonas isn’t an easy man to be around.  It’s impossible not to have an almost breathless respect for him, but difficult to like him as a personality.  He must be near my age, and the years are telling on him, but he has an almost obnoxious youthful enthusiasm, a robustness and exuberance that’s not easy to take.

As I mentioned, the appendage above his torso is hair in every direction with a grinning set of somewhat snaggled, yellowing teeth and a pair of eyes peering out.

His clothing, BDU fatigues with cargo pockets, are worn and give the impression of not being clean, though I suspect they actually are.  His appearance causes the viewer to expect him to stink, which he doesn’t.

Jonas is definitely a gentle soul, maybe a wise one, but his demeanor speaks of a puppy foolishness.

However, having said all that, I’ll say again, you can’t know him, or know of him, without feeling a humility and respect entirely out of proportion to the human being in front of you.

I’d say the non-Christian religions are lucky there aren’t more Christians of the Jonas variety.  He’s one of the handful of Christians I’ve met in my entire lifetime who behaves as though he actually believes in Jesus Christ.


An added comment:

Someone PMed me expressing the concern that some cop-type of the ‘other’ Christian variety would pick up on the description I’ve given of Jonas and his activities that fall outside the US definitions of legality.

I probably should have prefaced one of these two entries with the caveat: Jonas ain’t his real name, Rainbow isn’t the name of the ministry that’s on his van, and brown isn’t the color.

Having said that, I should also say that the law enforcement community is well aware of Jonas and his activities. They’ve done everything they could think of to make his life difficult for the last quarter-century, or more. He’s been busted more times than I’ve eaten at McDonalds. Which is to say, it doesn’t happen any more often than either of us can help it, but it occasionally does.

But you can’t stop a man who knows he’s right and keeps coming. Even in America.


Ask Old Jules: Bad genes, Tolerance of the religious, Looking in the mirror, Nature of happiness

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, what are your favorite words?

Spontaneity has a nice ring to it

Old Jules, are all the mistakes, vices, injustices and sufferings of the world due to bad genes?

Human beings are just human beings. Same as they’ve always been. They don’t know how to be anything different. Don’t expect anything more from them and you won’t be in for a letdown.

Old Jules, how can I be more tolerant of religious people?

What they believe [or anyone else believes] isn’t your affair. Unless they ask what you think or get in your face leave them the hell alone. It isn’t your business. Learning what isn’t your business is how you learn to be tolerant.

Old Jules, how often do you look into the mirror?

Once every week or two. When I’m going to town I try to remember to look in the mirror to see how badly my whiskers have built up so’s to decide whether to shave before meeting my admiring public.

Old Jules, is happiness a blessing or a conquest?

Both. If a person can say to himself/herself in all candor and honesty, “If I were someone else I’d envy me my life and what I am,” the person is probably both happy and has conquered a piece of what needs conquering in life. And frankly, if I had to be someone else I’d be gawdawful jealous of me.