How to be a good American (and a good human being):

Here’s a nice blog post I found in my files (copyright Jack Purcell):
Saturday, September 23, 2006
A few subtle ways to become a good American (and a good human being):

Being a good American and a good human being isn’t about waving a flag, hating Democrats or republicans, Muslims, or people who say ugly words about political leaders. It ain’t about fear, hysterical dialect, consumerism and waste.

Being a good American and a good human being is about personal responsibility. About having enough confidence and courage not to feel threatened by every little thing. About assuming the responsibility of not being part of the problem any more than is absolutely necessary. About self-reliance.

Sometimes it’s not obvious how a person might accomplish those things.

* On a personal level your life will find itself a lot better place if you can recognize the fact you are going to die as a means of exiting it. Maybe disease, a car wreck, any of a thousand common ways that don’t have a damned thing to do with any foreign country, foreign leader, foreign war. You are going to die. No point in going into frenzies of terror and hate because the death you get stands a billion-to-one shot at being the act of a terrorist. Trust me on that. You are going to die, and I’ll only be the tiniest, most microscopic bit of a liar when I tell you it won’t be from anything any foreigner does to cause it.
* On a personal level you’ll find it’s a hell of a lot better place if you can learn what is your own business, and what isn’t. If you can change it, it’s your business. If you can’t, it ain’t worth concerning yourself with, getting all worked up about.
* On a personal level you’ll find your life’s a lot better place if you spend considerable energies looking at it, instead of other places, looking at what you like about it, and what you don’t like about it, and changing what you can. Looking in a metaphorical mirror at the sort of person you are and asking yourself if that is the sort of person you want to be. You can’t change the kind of person the prez of bongobongoland is, but you can change the kind of person you are into someone you have more respect for. No one respects a dishonest, hysterical coward, including you when you see it in others.

If all of us could pull that off our own lives would be a lot better, and America would be a better place for it. But insofar as personal responsibility and being a good American, we can expand on that a bit. Here are a few things a good American might do without having to shout from the rooftops about what an admirable person he/she is:

Dependence on hydrocarbons is the ultimate problem of this nation you say you love.

* Be conscious of your own energy use.
* Every plastic grocery or garbage bag, every foam-plastic hamburger box, no matter where it was produced, drives up the price of oil.
* Every time you fire up that hair-dryer you drive up the world-wide price of hydrocarbons.
* Every made-in-China yellow ribbon you buy to stick on your car drives up the price of hydrocarbons world-wide, increases the demand.
* Every made-in-China flag made of nylon you wave drives up the price of oil and increases worldwide demand.
* Every new plastic radio, CD player, computer monitor. Every plastic wrapper from that frozen pizza pie. Every celophane cover and foam plastic bottom covering the piece of animal you’re having for supper and sending to the landfill afterward is driving up the world-wide competition for oil.
* Sure, there’s the other obvious things. The things Jimmy Carter used to beg you to do when he was prez, to help you quit relying on foreign petroleum products. Turn down the heater. Turn up the thermostat on the AC. Don’t drive anymore than you have to. Which, of course, you didn’t care for then and immediately forgot when he left office (which is part of the reason you’re in the fix you are in now.)

But there’s a lot more to being a good American, as opposed to a good human being. Here are a few more ways you could try to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem:

Quit buying ANY foreign product if you can avoid it. Even if it saves you a few cents. Just say no. Refuse and make it clear why you’re refusing.

If this country is going to survive another century the population is going to have to begin manufacturing what it consumes, energy-wise and every other wise. Building hamburgers to sell back and forth to one another isn’t enough to keep a country sound.

Americans are going to have to produce products, and the other Americans are going to have to buy them. We can’t continue indefinitely sending our chunks of our trade deficit off to bongo-bongoland for petroleum, to China for plastic bags, television sets, seat covers and rubber monster toys. We can’t starve out our farmers by buying agricultural products from Mexico and Argentina.

Being a good American involves a hell of a lot more than getting angry when some foreigner says something ugly about it. Loyalty to America and Americans is about keeping America alive, productive, self-reliant, healthy economically.

If we can do those things we’ll find we’re spending a lot less time hurling empty rhetoric back and forth, hating the owners of bongo-bongoland oil, a lot less time bombing the hell out of foreign lands, a lot less angry and full of fear and hatred.

And we wouldn’t need to wave flags to prove we were good Americans.

I have a wealth of written material from Jack, and I’d be interested in knowing whether any of his readers would like to see more on this page. I’m in the process of transferring ownership through WP so I can pay the fee to keep the same address for the blog. If that doesn’t work, I think the blog still will exist but with wordpress in the address. Let me know what you think– Jeanne K.

Au Revoir, Old Jules (Jack Purcell)

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1998 Lost Adams Diggings expedition

I’m sorry to tell everyone that Old Jules (Doyce M. Purcell, “Jack”) passed away last Tuesday, April 14, 2020. He was 76 years old.

He had a variety of health problems which increased and then stabilized over the last several years, but his heart was very weak and after another heart attack, he knew he had to try the next procedure recommended by his cardiologist.

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near Jemez, NM

Over the week of his hospital stay, he ended up testing negative for coronavirus, survived a risky heart catheterization, and had surgery to repair the blocked artery which he hadn’t known about. However, he was not strong enough to then survive the heart ablation that was recommended.

jack window cropped

Abo, Salinas Missions, NM

I last saw him March 23rd, just before the “shut down” of both our counties began. We were well aware we might not see each other again, but the worries at that time were to keep him protected from the virus.

Harper, TX 2010 087

He found the whole coronavirus situation extremely fascinating, as he had a background in both public health and emergency management and also a passion for history. He was really hoping he’d survive long enough to see how it all developed.

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cabin near Harper, TX

He recently bought himself a hand-held voice recorder, and spent several hours over the last two weeks recording all kinds of day-to-day commentary, poetry, and updates on what was happening during the hospital visit. I have not yet listened to all of this… probably there are items of interest that should have gone into this post.

Jack at 24 Camino los Altos

Placitas, NM

I recorded one of his last phone conversations, which was all about Robert Frost, Kipling, and Archibald MacLeish. He was very much enjoying hearing recordings of Frost and MacLeish reading their poetry on YouTube while he was in the hospital.


looking over Gran Caldera, NM

One of his favorite poems was “IF” by Rudyard Kipling. He kept a copy of it in his wallet for many many years until it disintegrated, but always considered that poem to be a way of checking on his own spiritual progress, a compass of sorts. We recently discussed the problems with the ending of the poem, which makes it a bit off-putting in these modern times and less popular with most women. But he was pleased as could be that my granddaughter and I are memorizing it together.

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Zuni Mountains, NM

He introduced me to a whole range of new music, for which I’ll always be grateful. John Prine, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen,  Kris Kristofferson, and others. But he also had a passion for opera, and had season tickets to the Santa Fe Opera when  he lived there.

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Catron Co. NM

He read all the time, in fact, he told me how he used to read a book while driving his commute from Socorro to Santa Fe. He always had a book with him when he ate at a restaurant, even if I was with him (in case I had to leave the table briefly he would have a book to read). He stocked two unofficial Little Free Libraries on the grounds of the VA campus where he lived. When he went to the hospital he took along a collection of Robert Frost’s poetry and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera. He introduced me to several of his favorite authors, including Kurt Vonnegut and Terry Pratchett.

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Mt. Taylor, NM

He spent many years searching for the Lost Adams Diggings gold mine, and while he never found the gold, he wouldn’t have traded the years of experiences related to the search for anything.


©Oscar Lazoya for New Mexico magazine, February 2004.

Y2K provided his next big adventure. He cashed in his retirement, bought land, and moved off the grid in anticipation of the end of the world as we know it. In doing so, he created his own y2k, but again, it was an experience he never regretted.

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in cabin in Catron Co. NM

He spent several years studying and practicing energy work, was a Reiki Master, and had some successes as a healer.  Several people called on him regularly for help with Hepatitis C (two complete cures that I remember),  fibromyalgia symptoms, asthma attacks, panic attacks, and  headaches.  He was always amused that the results of what he did were undependable, shocked when the results were exactly what was intended, and mystified that people so frequently did not want healing. He was frequently impressed by the accuracy of the I Ching.

He self-published four books, two as paperbacks: The Lost Adams Diggings: Myth, Mystery and Madness, and Hell Bent for Santa Fe: The Texan-Santa Fe Expedition of 1841, and two as e-books, Desert Emergency Survival Basics (Heartache and Heartburn) and Poems of the New Old West: Cowboys, Casinos, Truckers, and Trotskyite Dogs. After he moved back to civilization, he enjoyed blogging on several different sites, but eventually quit blogging in favor of other activities. He participated in several forums and headed up a variety of Facebook groups. He had a lot of hobbies, most recently, wood-working– he refinished furniture and made canes, some of which he gave away to other veterans around the VA complex where he lived.

He leaves behind his most recent cats, Mr. Midnight and Miss Naiad.  He always loved his cats, and frequently re-used cat names on succeeding generations of  cats. Mr. Hydrox, Mehitabel, and the previous Miss Naiad, among others, will all welcome him if he sees them again. (His two cats have gone to loving friends).


Mr. Hydrox and Jack, Placitas, NM

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Jack and Miss Shiva

It would be impossible to list his adventures, accomplishments, and skills. He frequently joked that if he were to write an autobiography, no one would believe it anyway. We have lost one of the greatest friends anyone could ever have, one of the most entertaining writers, and one of he kindest people I have ever known. He would remind us all to be grateful for every little thing. One of his affirmations was “I’m grateful for everything that’s happened, everything happening right now, and everything that’s going to happen.” Please remind yourself of that in his memory. And enjoy the music.

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                                      The Pilgrim by Kris Kristofferson

(Please excuse any layout errors or other mistakes in this entry. It’s been a long time since I used WordPress and I’m unable to preview the post).

Best wishes to everyone,
Jeanne Kasten

Lion in Winter and Anthony Hopkins

Hi readers.   Thanks for coming by.

I was watching one of the half-dozen movies I consider the best of the 20th Century [and this one, thus far] for the 20th time a few days ago.   Kate Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine  and wossname, Peter O’Toole or someone as Henry II.    Loving every minute of it, but I was finding the guy who played Richard 1 fairly distracting.

I went back half dozen times to watch him speak, his facial features and the way he mouthed words.    Something damned familiar about him.   Out of place.

So finally I ran the credits and discovered the reason.    This was Hannibal the Cannibal from Silence of the Lamb, and various other not-too-bad movies I’d watched without recognizing it was Richard 1 I was seeing.

Well now, that was fun.   Here was young Richard before he went off crusading, becoming Lionheart, getting himself held hostage in France, Being away while his idiot brother, John, made himself the darker piece of the Robin Hood legend.

Yeah, there it all was, old Richard the Cannibal and Lackland John, a Magna Carta  looming out there a few decades away.

But that would be what?   1215 or so and those would be years with a lot of history packed inside them   Lion in Winter would be nearer 1167, 68, and all those brothers and their parents squabbling with enough venom to satisfy most purposes over who would be the heir to the throne.

Great movie.    I was trying last night to remember what the several other movies are I considered the best every…   Jeanne helped me remember a few which I’ve mostly forgotten now.     But one was The Rainmaker, with Kate Hepburn and Burt Lancaster.

Another was Doctor Strangelove, with Peter Sellers and one heck of a cast.

I’ve tried to persuade Jeanne to watch most of my favorites sometime during the almost-20 years we’ve known one another, so maybe she can add the ones I’m forgetting.

But if she can’t, you’d gift yourself a couple of hours of pleasure if you call up your library page and put Lion in Winter on hold.    Likely as not they still have a copy somewhere in their system.


Old Jules



VA Overrun by critters

old dom

A few of these abandoned wards ….. the old ‘domiciliary’ are being rebuilt to rent out as apartments.   Naturally because they’ve been abandoned for decades virtually without any maintenance or upkeep they’re the home to countless varmints, predatory birds, bats, feral cats, coons, possum, skunk and the occasional groundhog.

Needless to say, this is the year someone in the lofty realms of management decided to allow the residents here a ‘community garden’, also.

Turns out, I’m the only resident with a passion for a garden.   So, while they cut a 30×30 foot piece out of the yard outside my window in a fit of delusional optimism, I’m only farming about 300 square feet of it.  Feeling every moment of my74-and-some-change years.

A guy came out with a tiller on a tractor and did his patriotic best.   Cut slices of this red clay that was actually quarried and used to make the bricks you see on those buildings in the photo.    Tiller guy got off his tractor and observed for those of us standing around watching in horror and awe, “Not really the best soil for a garden.”

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing with my time instead of blogging or going on FaceBook.    Testing the ability of my heart to continue function when I’d have to feel better to die.   But I planted okra, several varieties of peppers, garlic, onions, chives, cilantro, …… 90 linear feet of rows.

Bought lots of cow manure in bags, bought lots of earthworms down at the bait shop.   Bought an anti-bird net to try to keep the robins off the earthworms.   And so on.

It’s good, been good, and I figure although there’s a middling chance one thing or another will result in me not getting anything worth mentioning out of the garden this year, I’ll have all summer to build up the soil and maybe next year, when I’m 75 and wiser, I’ll be able to eat something I planted out there.

Meanwhile, I’ve got garlic, peppers, cilantro, and mustard greens in planters on the back porch.  And I’ve got a Best Boy and a Roma tomato plant with plenty of blossoms.  So I don’t need no stinking garden.

Have a happy Cinco de Mayo.     That means FIFTH of Mayo in English.

Old Jules

Tinker to Evers to Chance

Three of the past four months I’ve been blocked from Facebook thirty days at a time with brief intervals between so’s to allow me the freedom to get blocked again.     The what?  reason?  explanation?  Ah well, the nature of the offenses have been comments made in reference to two [2] different issues about which I hold opinions Facebook finds unacceptable.

The first was the Israeli occupation and annexation of the parts of Jerusalem that are outside the boundaries of Israel established by International Law in 1947.   Evidently Facebook and many FB users find this opinion to be antisemitic and offensive.

Similarly an opinion expressed involving the IDF molestation of a pre-adolescent Palestinian youth in the Hebron area where Israel has confiscated homes and land from the owners outside the International Boundaries of Israel was worthy of a second 30 day block from Facebook use.

And finally, strong skepticism concerning US military activities in Syria, the motives for those activities, and the complicity of Israel in those activities were the subject of a comment FB deleted and banned me another 30 days.

Facebook is a free service and I don’t argue their ‘right’ to disallow any sort of comments they wish, nor their punishment of commenters who express opinions they find unappropriated, or offensive.   Of course they have that right!  There are no ‘freedom of speech’ issues on Internet social media sites because they are all privately owned.    What would be the point of furnishing a service of that sort if you didn’t intend to use it to further your own agenda, whatever that agenda might be.

However, I think it can be said without danger of inaccuracy that even though the FB agenda isn’t stated outright, certain facets of that agenda can be deduced by the choices of what description of opinions to delete, and what opinion-holders to punish for having expressed those opinions.

Life is a learning experience and I’m gratified to discover I live in a world where supporting Semitic Palestinians to preserve their homes from theft by a secular state controlled by invading European Jews is anti-Semitic.

And that believing the US government is performing as a puppet to the only nation on earth named for a family, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, in its involvement in Syria is also offensive enough to be worthy of punishment by a social medium seems a statement worthy of the 21sc Century.

Old Jules

Resolving resolved issues

The thing about your life flashing before your eyes is the real deal, except it doesn’t flash and it doesn’t wait until the last minute so’s to have to rush around and maybe forget something.  But if you get into your 70s and have any memory left, I can promise you you’ll find yourself re-living all the tiny events of your life you thought nothing about at the time.   Then, a few nights or months or maybe years later, doing it again, and remembering you’ve done it, remembered it before this time.

For instance, I was thinking the other night about an incident on the playground when I was in the fourth grade in grammar school.   It was an incident I’ve written about here involving a kid named Winkie Hodges, and another named Keith Kelt.  [They still call him Winkie – posted July 29, 2014]

But this time I was remembering it all in a different context.   I was thinking about several of us who were around at that time, but who lived to a ripe old age.   One died a few months ago – Eddie Hiner – and I was thinking about how surprised we would have been back then if someone had told us, “Hey kid…..let me flash your life before your eyes [the way it gets flashed backward nowadays but faster] and give you a look at what you think as an old man was valuable about your life.   What was worth doing.   What was worth remembering.

I don’t think it would have changed much about our lives, but we’d probably have shuddered some and figured it was a nightmare.    Everything I thought I wanted out of life back then, everything I thought made life worth living, got replaced and eroded so many times I should have realized a lot sooner how little difference any of it actually made.

The area between this old 1890s house I live in and the next one over is all grass.   We’ve been told they’re going to let us put in a ‘community garden’.   Got my fingers itching to dig them around in some cow manure and soil.    Went out and bought a Roma and a Big Boy each tomatoes to put in the solarium porch… [one’s going to blossom tonight or tomorrow – but stumbling blocks keep showing up for starting to dig that community garden].

But my point is, breaking up a little dirt, putting some seeds down, it’s probably as important ans anything I’ve ever done this lifetime, and that’s just fine.   In fact, I’d count it as important as anything anyone I knew this lifetime ever did, too [at least anything they did that I knew about].

So I’m wondering how everything came to be so complicated back then.   How Winkie, and Eddie Hiner, and Keith, and all those other kids ever came to believe there was something we could do that didn’t involve turning over some dirt, squeezing in some cow manure, and putting some seeds in the ground, that was going to produce something of lasting value.

In those days it was a given that old people were where you’d find wisdom.  By hindsight I tend to think wisdom escaped them, too.

The old men in that photo at the top of this post were out there at that time, doing what they’re doing in the photo.    I’m thinking they probably knew that thing about putting seeds in the ground and cowshit..

But they weren’t telling.

Old Jules


Have yourselves a merry little day all you Vietnam veterans!

And be sure to make time to stop by your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters sometime today to pick up one or more of these great prizes before the US Congress privatizes the whole mess:

Vietnam vets prize headquarters

Everyone needs to replace those bifocals now and then and this is your chance to get a brand new clean pair and have a look at the world the way it is now!



Artillery ears getting you down?     Do you cup that hand behind the ear and tell that cashier, “Eh?   Say again?” Every time you go to the grocery store?

Your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters has the answer for you…. they’ll take care of those attempts at lip reading in a jiffy!

Diabetes?   Yeah, those needles and insulin are getting expensive, too!

But not for you!    Just stop by the prize HQ and claim yours.

Knees?   Hips?   Ankles?   Feet?   While you’re there, pick up a cane.

The old ticker running down on you?  Have them check out your pacemaker!

Yes, all that and more.    When you finish and you’re ready to head for the parking lot, stop by the rehab office and pick up one of these beauties!

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for that war.   We couldn’t have done it without you.

Old Jules