5.15.2022 – nuance in science

nuance in science
which is lost in the debate
on social media

Boy! What might this haiku be based on today?

Howdy, what might NOT this haiku be based on today?

With all the possible topics at hand, I got the words for this haiku from an article titled, “Coffee bad, red wine good? Top food myths busted.”

The article takes on those awful bane’s of life today of red meat, coffee, red wine, plant milk and other awful anxiety causing additives that keep me up at night when I don’t have anything else to worry about.

I read the article not with a grain of salt but a bag, a pile, a State of Michigan Department of Highways salt spreader dump truck of salt.

I read the article more from the point of a humorous essay that a factual report.

The idea that statistically speaking (always get ready when that is spelled out) there are more health problems connected with moderate wine drinking … because there or so many more moderate wine drinkers is a line out of a Marx Brothers movie.

When I make presentations about the online world, I like to mention that a high percentage of people who visit a given website are most likely using the world wide web but most folks write that down in their notes.

I think it was Ricky Bobby who pointed out that on average, 97.5% of all people will die.

I am old enough to know that everything and nothing is bad for you.

You just have to pick your terms and go from there.

But the article did have two lines that I really liked.

The last line could have been predicted by anyone who had every heard, watched or read a report on what foods are good for you.

The last line says, “As with all things, moderation is key.”

No kidding?

Eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

Eating 100 apples will keep everyone else away due to the bodily production of internal methane gas as well as most likely kill you.

Moderation is key.

Gee wiz AND Boy Howdy!

The line I really liked was, when Rob Percival, author of The Meat Paradox: Eating, Empathy and the Future of Meat, was quoted saying, “But there’s nuance in the science, which isn’t often communicated in the press and is lost in the debate on social media,” he says.

Mr. Percival, speaking as an expert in the politics of meat, is talking about the science of red meat being bad for you when he said, “But there’s nuance in the science …”

But that sentence is just too cool to not let stand alone as a judgment on the last 20 years or so about anything.

But there’s nuance in the science, which isn’t often communicated in the press and is lost in the debate on social media.

And please be aware, it is not just the numbers.

As I am talking about food, I am sure everyone knows that eggs are bad for you.

Why?

Eggs are bad for you as they are high in cholesterol.

And cholesterol is bad for you.

Everyone knows that.

Right?

Do you know why we know that?

Back in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson read in his morning paper that the cost of a dozen eggs was higher then it had ever been in history and LBJ went all LBJ on his staff to bring the price of eggs down!

One effort involved the USDA releasing anything and everything it had that was bad about eggs.

The next night every major evening newscast (all three of them) carried the story that according to US Government sources, eggs were high in cholesterol and while they weren’t sure what that meant, it wasn’t good.

And the price of eggs dropped.

And that message about evil eggs has stayed in the collective conscience of the American mind ever since.

Just google ‘eggs LBJ’ if you want to look it up.

If I am not getting my point across, maybe there is a nuance in the science, which isn’t often communicated in the press and is lost in the debate on social media.

5.15.2022 – the smiling, laughing,

the smiling, laughing,
making me comfortable
was it possible

I like to start my day with a newspaper.

Which means today, my day starts online.

I like to go over the Google News headlines WITH tracking turned OFF so I can tell myself that I am getting a overview of the news, not a view tailored to my interests.

Then I click on the Guardian from Manchester, UK. (or is UK now out and GB back in?)

Of late, my outlook on life has been downright dark and gloomy and what I read in the paper or as Will Rodgers said, “All I know is what I read in the papers” and what I read is also downright dark and gloomy.

The other day I was gifted with several stories that, when read in the order I read them, gave me a mental kick in the pants.

As Mr. Lincoln said of General John Pope, who detailed many of this reports “Written from Headquarters in the Saddle” that General Pope “had his headquarters where is hindquarters should have been.”

I have had my head in my butt and all has been doom and gloom.

I am in a funk and I cannot get out.

Waiting to exhale.

Waiting for the shoes to drop.

Just waiting and waiting.

We moved to what is called the Low Country of South Carolina about a year and a half ago.

We found a good church and then we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone to get involved and joined a small group that meets every other week or so.

We are talking our way through the topic of when bad things happen.

We are all pretty much in agreement that while we cannot see the plan, bad things DO happen, but in the end, things work out according to God’s plan and when the time comes to look back, the plan can become a little more evident.

I have no problem with this.

Though it leaves unanswered the unanswerable ‘what do you do or how do you handle yourself in that moment when the bad things are happening.’

Often, knowing that there will come a time when you can look back and see the hidden God given strength that helped you get through the bad things can be pretty thin at the moment.

To boil it down I would say that:

One: Bad things happen.

Two: Things work out as we leave things in God’s hands, or as CS Lewis would say, “It always was in God’s hands.”

Then the third point, Three: this is what you do while bad things are happening.

Notice I did sat what ‘this’ is.

As I said, of late, the news has been pretty bleak and the bad things that are happening has pretty much got me into a semi-permanent funk on the worldly issues of Country, Economy and Civil Strife.

Then I was gifted three stories in a row that responded to these three points about bad things and the current state of affairs.

First, bad things happen.

I read the article, “Americans believe nothing is getting better. Biden feeds that disillusionment” by David Sirota with much nodding and much “Boy HOWDY but that is how I feel.”

Mr. Sirota writes that many people are going through ‘Jokerfication’ – a concept based on the Joker in Batman which describes ‘becoming so thoroughly disillusioned that one loses faith in everything.’

Mr. Sirota then lists the reasons for Jokerfication and I find it hard to argue with any of them.

Thoroughly disillusioned is a marvelous phrase.

There is no light at the end of this tunnel or so it seems.

But to the 2nd point, things will get better and we will be able to see bad times in the rear view mirror.

The next article I came across was “An optimist’s guide to the future: the economist who believes that human ingenuity will save the world” by David Shariatmadari which is a review of the book, The Journey of Humanity by Econmist Oded Galor (who I have never heard of just to be transparent).

Mr. Shariatmadari writes that Mr. Galor’s: “message appears to be that whatever the circumstances you have inherited, change is possible. It’s an analysis of the human condition that leads not to a counsel of despair, but a new set of tools he believes can help build a better future.”

There is much to Mr. Galor’s to try to grasp but I was fascinated by the observation there are two cultures in the history of the world.

Wheat farmers and Rice farmers and society grew up around those two basic fundamental life styles.

I was especially intrigued as I now live what was the focus of rice growing economy in wheat growing North America but for another time.

Mr. Shariatmadari ends his review with, “For many, though, a dose of faith in human progress will be hard to resist.

And, BOY HOWDY, do identify with that!

SO there we are.

Bad things happen, but there is hope that the future can find answers to these bad things.

SO what about the third point.

What is ‘this is what you do’?

Remember we are talking about a world view here.

The next article I clicked had the headline, “How an encounter with a friendly person made me see myself differently” by Sinéad Stubbins.

Ms. Stubbins related how arriving early for an appointment she and another lady dealt with being locked out of an office.

Ms. Stubbins writes, “Then it struck me. Everything this woman had been doing – the smiling, the laughing, making me feel comfortable when I was doing silly things – I had been doing too. We were mirroring each other’s warmth exactly. Could it be? … She was friendly. Was it possible that I was friendly too?”

Simplistic I know.

But I am repulsed by the feeling of Jokerfication and I want to reject it and if the answer is to be friendly then I will embrace that and let you know how it goes.

Sometimes I need to be told to hang on, it will be okay in the end.

That I read these online stories in a row was seemingly more than chance and I appreciate it.

5.14.2022 – some mistakes are made

some mistakes are made
bit funnier than others
not have taken much

Based on an interview with one Rachel Graham.

Ms. Graham said, “We’re not really interested in fighting, we’re just pointing out the obvious that they should have looked it up themselves. It wouldn’t have taken much.”

Mistakes are made,” she added. “Some are just a bit funnier than others.

According to what I read this morning, Mark and Rachel Graham received a cease-and-desist letter from Condé Nast, the magazine publisher, asking them to change their pub’s name.

Their pub is in the town of Vogue, a hamlet in the parish of St Day, Cornwall, England.

Their pub is named, The Star Inn at Vogue.

Vogue the magazine sent them a cease and desist letter and threatened legal action if they would not change the name of the pub.

I found the Graham’s reaction to not react a bit refreshing in this day and age.

Again, Ms. Graham said, “We’re not really interested in fighting, we’re just pointing out the obvious that they should have looked it up themselves. It wouldn’t have taken much.”

Mistakes are made.

Some mistakes are funnier than others.

I think there even might have been people in Washington DC that agreed with this.

Sorry to say, though, that Abraham Lincoln hasn’t been around since 1865.

He may have been the last person to be able to not take themselves seriously inside the beltway.

Jim Harrison writes something along the line that if you look at the city of Washington and the buildings, how could some NOT BECOME POMPOUS once they got there.

He favored turning the Capitol building into a museum and putting Congress in a pole barn in Anacostia and then see how fast Congress took care of business.

I agree with this but want to make sure it is a pole barn without air conditioning.

I am also reminded of a time when the company I worked for decided to crack down on non-authorized online use of company content.

The company I worked for owned a lot of TV stations and other websites were embedding video and such without asking for permission or crediting the company.

The web team was told to go out and find these places and turn them over to corporate legal.

I was in Atlanta at the time and the very first place I found that was using WXIA TV video without permission was the Johnnie Cochran law firm.

I filled out the required paper work and sent it off to corporate legal.

That was the last I heard of the case and the project as a whole.

ANYWAY, Boy, HOWDY!

Mistakes are made.

Some mistakes are funnier than others.

It made me almost weep for a era seemingly long gone.

Do I have to move to the parish of St Day, Cornwall, England?

5.13.2022 – die freude schöner

die freude schöner
götterfunken tochter
aus elysium

Random thoughts in the afternoon, and my first haiku in german, brought on by the presenter on the radio saying that he was giving listeners a minute to get ready and then to get settled as the next piece he was going to play was over one hour long.

Before he said what it was I knew what it would be.

On Friday evening, remember I listen to radio station from London so they are 5 hours ahead (this way, I like to say, I know that someone has made it through the next 5 hours) if a radio station is going to play a single piece of classical music over an hour long, it has to be the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 by Beethoven.

According to one source, It was longer and more complex than any symphony to date and required a larger orchestra. But the most unique feature of “The Ninth” was that Beethoven included chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement. He was the first major composer to do this in a symphony.

According to Wikipedia, it was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1824. The symphony is regarded by many critics and musicologists as Beethoven’s greatest work and one of the supreme achievements in the history of music. One of the best-known works in common practice music, it stands as one of the most frequently performed symphonies in the world.

I was a little kid when I started listening to classical music.

I am sure there was a lot of ‘look at me, I am so smart I listen to classical music’ and I am sure that Schroeder in the Charlie Brown comic strip also played a part.

But like many other things in my life, I can remember being around the age of 10 or 11 and on TV, my Mom was watching that new public TV station.

Understand this was back in the day when we got three TV channels in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up and when public TV from Grand Valley State College went on air, it increased the amount of available TV 33%.

I sat down to watch with her and it was a documentary narrated by Leonard Bernstein about putting on a concert in Vienna featuring Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

It wasn’t the type of show my Mom usually watched but she kept it on and we both got drawn into the story and the music.

The documentary told three stories.

One was the performance itself.

One was the story behind the performance, the rehearsals, the technical aspects of preparing the hall, the technical aspects of getting the orchestra itself to Vienna.

One was Mr. Bernstein describing the life of times of one Ludwig van Beethoven.

The documentary wove the three stories together and ended with the performance of the 4th movement.

Something about the life of Mr. Beethoven and his struggles to express the sounds inside his head got into me.

I distinctly remember Mr. Bernstein describing how the members of’ the the chorus arrived early enough for ‘one more goulash and beer’ before the performance.

Growing up my house was filled with books.

I talk about that a lot.

But along with the books our house was also filled with music.

My Dad was into the HiFi era and bought a lot of records and a lot of record players.

Along one wall of our living room was a flat countertop cupboard and there were 5 or 6 stacks of LP’s.

My Dad also had his favorite shows and music that he listened to on the radio and he spent a lot time working with a reel to reel tape recorder that could record off the radio at a flip of the switch.

My brothers and sisters of course contributed a lot of music of the era but I can say it was easily one of the most eclectic collections of records music in West Michigan.

After seeing this show about Beethoven, I started looking through the record collection to find other classical music and once I found it, I would listen to it.

For the most part my brothers and sisters put up with it.

It became part of my schtick.

I read a lot.

I listened to classic music.

I weighed about 55 lbs and wore glasses.

I mean, what did anyone else expect.

But there were bonuses.

My brother Bob and his wife were living in Kalamazoo while he went to WMU.

They noticed that WMU had just completed the Miller Auditorium and to dedicate it, the college offered free tickets to a performance to Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

They got in touch with us up in Grand Rapids as they thought I would be interested.

My Dad made or maybe my brother Bobby made some calls and got tickets for all of us and one Sunday afternoon, we loaded up and my Dad, Mom and 7 or 8 of my brothers and sisters went to hear the show.

Now this is where history gets interesting as according to the internet Miller Auditorium opened on Jan. 12, 1968.

That would have made me 7.

Ah, well, precocious wasn’t I.

It was the first time I heard classical music live.

I could see it.

I could hear it.

And I could imagine it.

I have attended maybe 6 or 7 live performances of this symphony since then.

It is different every time.

It is the same every time.

A couple of years after that at Christmas I unwrapped a heavy flat box.

It was a present my Mom picked out for me.

It was a set of records of the all 9 Beethoven symphonies.

I kept those records for the next 50 years.

I am typing this as I listen to the radio so this could go on for a bit.

Another story that always comes to mind.

According to legend when Sony was developing the music CD, the President of Sony demanded that the size of a CD should be big enough to be able to hold a minimum of 88 minutes of music.

He felt that any music medium worth its salt should be able to contain the complete performance of the 9th Symphoney.

I know this story doesn’t hold up against most fact but as they say, when in doubt, print the legend.

That Mr. Beethoven, almost 200 years after his death, had such an impact on modern music was too perfect to not be true.

If it isn’t the way it happened, is the way it should have happened.

And with the that, the music is drawing to a close.

Nice way to end the day.

die freude schöner
götterfunken tochter
aus elysium

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity
Daughter of Elysium,

5.12.2022 – but the common thing

but the common thing
decision opening up
strive toward the wind

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

(Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.)

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself —
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

takes her in.

I took this photo of a heron on a dock on Pinckney Island in South Carolina during a day of dolphin counting.

The heron stood on the post with a look that told me I was standing on a dock that the heron owned and my presence wasn’t much more than tolerated.

There are a lot more heron’s down here than I have ever seen in my life.

Looking at the these birds standing still and I think how could anyone have made a bird like this?

Looking at these birds in flight and I think, how else could anyone have made a bird like this?

The phrase “have been fearfully and wonderfully made” from the book of Psalms comes to mind.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

5.11.2022 – algorithmic tools

algorithmic tools
efficiency, saving costs
it is not foolproof

Adapted from this paragraph:

Yet it is not foolproof. One of the most consequential findings comes from Harvard Business School professor Joe Fuller, whose team surveyed more than 2,250 business leaders in the US, UK and Germany. Their motives for using algorithmic tools were efficiency and saving costs. Yet 88% of executives said that they know their tools reject qualified candidates.

In the article, Finding it hard to get a new job? Robot recruiters might be to blame by by Hilke Schellmann in todays Guardian.

Ms. Schellmann, a journalism professor at New York University and a freelance reporter covering artificial intelligence, writes that:

Martin Burch had been working for the Wall Street Journal and its parent company Dow Jones for a few years and was looking for new opportunities. One Sunday in May 2021, he applied for a data analyst position at Bloomberg in London that looked like the perfect fit. He received an immediate response, asking him to take a digital assessment.

It was strange. The assessment showed him different shapes and asked him to figure out the pattern. He started feeling incredulous. “Shouldn’t we be testing my abilities on the job?” he asked himself.

The next day, a Monday, which happened to be a public holiday in the UK, he got a rejection email. He decided to email a recruiter at Bloomberg. Maybe the company made a mistake?

What Burch discovered offers insight into a larger phenomenon that is baffling experts: while there are record level job openings in both the UK and in the US, why do many people still have to apply to sometimes hundreds of jobs, even in sought-after fields like software development, while many companies complain they can’t find the right talent?

A recruiter at Bloomberg replied: “I can see that your application was rejected due to not meeting our benchmark in the Plum assessment that you completed. Unfortunately on that basis we are not able to take your application any further.” Burch felt stunned that he had indeed been rejected by a piece of code.

Ms. Schellmann stated that, “Some experts argue that algorithms and artificial intelligence now used extensively in hiring are playing a role. This is a huge shift, because until relatively recently, most hiring managers would handle applications and resumes themselves. Yet recent findings have shown that some of these new tools discriminate against women and use criteria unrelated to work to “predict” job success.”

Burch felt stunned.

He had indeed been rejected by a piece of code.

Much like baseball, you now get hired by the numbers, not whether or not you can hit the curve.

Yet it is not foolproof. 

Gee, what a surprise.

5.10.2022 – So heavy is the

So heavy is the
long-necked long-bodied heron
always a surprise

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

5.9.2022 – children screaming with

children screaming with
delight link generations
indestructible

Adapted from a paragraph in the EB White essay, Once More to the Lake.

Mr. White wrote: Afterward the calm, the rain steadily rustling in the calm lake, the return of light and hope and spirits, and the campers running out in joy and relief to go swimming in the rain, their bright cries perpetuating the deathless joke about how they were getting simply drenched, and the children screaming with delight at the new sensation of bathing in the rain, and the joke about getting drenched linking the generations in a strong indestructible chain.

My grand daughter was in town for a short visit and we were only able to squeeze in a quick trip to the beach.

The weather did not cooperate and instead of sunshine, sand and surf, we had gray skies and gray waves.

For May along the coast, the temperate was cool and the water was warmer than then air.

My grand daughter didn’t care and no matter how much we explained the time crunch and the uninviting weather, she was determined to see the water.

We walked out together along the walkways through the swamps.

She kept an eye out for alligators.

We got to the sand and got out of our shoes and barefooted, we walked down to the water.

With your toes in the Atlantic Ocean, I like to say, you have the entire country in back of you all the way to the Pacific.

My grand daughter didn’t mention the gray sky.

My grand daughter didn’t mention the gray waves.

My grand daughter didn’t mention that is was somewhat cool if not cold there on the beach.

She took my hand and walked into the water and wave after wave washed over our feet.

The occasion bigger wave would splash in and she would grab my arm and jump and I would lift her out of the way and set her back down.

And she would scream with delight.

Standing there, holding my hand, she looked out at the horizon.

“Poppa,” she said, “I love the ocean.”

5.8.2022 – and especially

and especially
it is wonderful that the
summers so are long

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

5.7.2022 – that I last worked

that I last worked
one day, one afternoon, hours
all that I needed

It was in the spring of 1977 I think that I last really worked.

Worked really hard.

I may have been Kentucky Derby day and it stands out in my mind that way.

My Mom had a friend who, with her husband, was building a house.

Not working with a developer to pick out door knobs and windows, but doing as much of the actual construction as they could do themselves.

These people had purchased a lot in our neighborhood down on Gilpin St. and the basement had been dug out.

What they had so far was this big pit right out Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel.

They arranged for frames to be installed and concrete to be poured, but first the bottom of the pit had to be leveled out.

My Mom’s friend told my Mom that they needed a couple of strong boys to get down in the pit and shovel some dirt around from a few high places over to a few low places.

Just level it out.

My Mom may not have thought that she had some strong boys but she knew she had some boys who were pretty much, desperately lazy.

And the story moved my Mom’s heart, which was easy to do, she had a big heart, and the next thing that happened was that my brothers Pete and Steve and I were volunteered to spend a spring Saturday doing some shoveling.

I think we were told the night before that we had volunteered.

We were instructed to show up around noon which we did and we met the feller whose house it was that was being built.

He greeted us and pointed out his friend, James, who had a surveyors transit set up.

He then led us over to the side of the pit where there was a ladder and we climbed down into the pit.

You know how the mud smells at a construction sight?

That is what it smelled like.

The pit was a construction site and it stunk.

The guy picked up this long pole with had some black type wrapped around near the top.

He would set the end of the pole on the ground and James would site it with his transit and looking at the piece of black tape, announce “down 6 inches” or “up 3 inches.”

The guy would the point at spot and say we got to lower this area or we got to fill in this area.

After giving us the general layout, he pointed out shovels and told us to get to work.

We three boys looked at each other.

We were worried.

We were more than worried.

We got past worried when we climbed down into the pit.

This looked like real work.

The first thing my brother Pete did was to nudge me with an elbow and say, “Notice that JAMES isn’t coming down here.”

We had noticed that.

James was smart.

We also noticed that what were standing on wasn’t sand and it wasn’t dirt, it was clay.

Baked clay.

It was more like solid rock.

I picked up a shovel and let the the handle slide through my fingers to drop the point of the spade against the surface.

The shovel bounced back.

Pete picked up a shovel and tried to drive it into the clay and nothing happened.

Stevie just watched.

I took the shovel in both hands and chopped with against the surface.

Pete took his shovel and pushed the point down with one foot and managed to get the point down under the surface.

He then levered the shovel over and popped off a chunk of light brown clay.

Pete straightened up and says, “I’m done.”

The guy and that James feller both laughed.

Then they left.

I think Pete was serious but there we were.

I pushed harder and was able to the get my shovel into the clay and found out something else.

The hard clay was only about 2 or 3 inches thick.

Once you got through that 2 or 3 inched layer of hard clay, underneath was a bottomless quagmire of construction site muck.

I brought up a shovel full of that stuff and tossed it one side.

I looked at my brothers.

My brothers looked at me.

I am not sure what happened next but I remember we stayed the rest of the afternoon down in that pit.

I have this vague memory of walking around the floor of the pit, banging my shovel down, searching for softer places to dig but nothing more distinct than that.

They guy building the house and James had left and we kept at it.

None of us had a watch on so all we could do was make a guess at the time by watching the sun and shadows.

And we worked.

We didn’t suffer in silence but we kept at it.

Not sure how much of an improvement we made, but we tried.

Maybe a battalion of US Army Corps of Engineers with dynamite could have done better, but with who we were and what we had and what we were doing, we tried.

In my memory, the shadows along one side of the pit were getting deep and dark when the guy came back and called down to us that we were done.

We put the shovels in a corner and climbed up and out.

The guys wife had pulled up to the building site and in the trunk of her car was a cooler.

The cooler was filled with ice and Coca-Cola.

She had in her hands these giant Styrofoam cups that she filled first with ice and then Coke.

Never again has icy cold Coke been more icy cold and more welcome and more refreshing than those Cokes.

The guy thanked us and gave us each a $10 bill.

Never again did I feel such satisfaction from earning $10.

I can say that as I never again worked so hard in my life.

There is only so much satisfaction that you can get out of satisfaction.

Jim Harrison once wrote something along the line that society has yet to understand and label work done mentally, as hard work.

I support that concept.

On the other hand . . .

There is exhaustion.

There is mental exhaustion.

And there is physical exhaustion.

There is no substitute for hard work.

And I have worked hard to avoid it ever since that afternoon in the pit.

There is a family legend about my Dad.

My Grandfather was a Dentist.

When my Dad graduated from Grand Rapids Creston High School in 1936, my Grand Father, according to the legend, told my Dad that he would buy him a farm or send him to Dental School.

This side of the family were farmers who had emigrated from the Netherlands and still lived and farmed in the Jamestown area of Ottawa County, Michigan.

My Dad was then sent out to spend a week working on some relatives’ farm.

According to the legend, after that week, my Dad came home and asked when Dental School started.

I had thought about being a Dentist then I met a class called organic chemistry.

I had planned on being a history teacher.

I fell into a career of website design and management.

But when I climbed out of that put in 1977, all I wanted to know was, when did school start?