October 31 – defining moments

defining moments
those times, make break, history
this week, it’s house vote

Headline in today’s printed USA Today stated, “A Defining Moment Could Come Today.”

The online version read, “House to make first vote of formal Trump impeachment inquiry, resolution sets rules for public hearings.”

Chicken or egg fashion, I have long tried to determine which came first, the printed word or the online word.

You would think online, but then consider that the print version has to be posted pretty early in the day to make it to ‘paste up’, printed and distributed.

During this time, the writer has a cushion to review and revise what was sent to the printer.

On the other hand, I once caught a copy/paste typo in an online story in USAToday where a quote was hopelessly garbled.

When I got my hands on a printed version, the quote had been corrected.

The goofy thing is that the online version was never corrected.

But I digress.

Defining moments?

Who defines defining moments.

Is not the definition of a defining moment dependent on the moment it defines and it is of that moment?

Take for example the phrase, “Trial of the Century”.

For the 20th Century, without benefit of Google, I can come up with:

  • The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Trial
  • The Scopes Trial
  • The OJ Simpson Trial

Wikipedia lists:

Trial of Leon Czolgosz for the assassination of United States President William McKinley (1901)
Trial of Harry Thaw for the murder of Stanford White (1906)
Trial of Bill Haywood for murder (1907)
Sacco and Vanzetti murder trial (1920–1927)
Leopold and Loeb murder trial (1924)
Scopes Monkey Trial (1925)
Gloria Vanderbilt custody trial (1934)
Lindbergh kidnapping trial (1935)
Nuremberg trials (1945–1946)
Hiss-Chambers (Hiss Case, Hiss Affair) (1948–1950)
Adolf Eichmann trial (1961)
Charles Manson and Manson “family” for the Tate/LaBianca murders (1970)
Ted Bundy Chi Omega Trial (1979)
Claus von Bülow trials (1982–1985)
Klaus Barbie trial (1987)
Trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu (1989)
Trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez (1990)
Vizconde massacre (1991)
O. J. Simpson murder case trial (1995)
Trial of Yolanda Saldívar (1995)
Impeachment of Bill Clinton (1999)

The defining moment for today is the vote in the US House of Representatives on Impeachment Procedures.

When all is said and done, I am hoping more that rather than a defining moment, this turns out to be a speed bump in history.

Not a moment that defined us but a footnote to history.

Like the Harding administration.

When I was in college and after I graduated, I worked in chain bookstore named WaldenBooks.

It was a bookstore.

But it was a mall, retail bookstore.

I loved the bookstore part but the retail store was a huge stone in my shoe.

Still I worked there for almost 12 years.

I would tell people that when the time came for someone to write my biography (at the time I knew that someday, someone would write my biography) there would be the sentence, “In 1979, Hoffman went to work for Waldenbooks. Then in 1991 …”

I want to move on so bad from this current state of affairs.

October 30 – got the blue cat blues

got the blue cat blues
woke up grumpy, where to find
magic sunglasses?

Up too late.

Did not want to get up.

Got up.

Got up too early.



It is raining.

Got the Blue Cat Blues.

Pete the Cat has magic sunglasses!

With the sunglasses, Pete sings:

The birds are singing.
The sky is bright.
The sun is shining.
We’re feeling alright!”

Where do I get these magic sunglasses?

Do I need them?

Wise Old Owl tells Pete: “‘… you don’t need magic sunglasses to see things in a new way. Just remember to look for the good in every day.

There IS good in every day, just sometimes it is harder to find.

October 29 – every day, each drive

every day, each drive
story sparkingly renewed
new chapter added

Mark Twain wrote of life on the Mississippi River, saying “There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring. I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

I was struck this morning by the comparison of Twain’s river and my driving on i85.

There is an odd, industrial age, dystopian (been wanting to use that word for ages), Fritz Langish, beauty to all the cars and trucks and concrete.

I also have learned to ‘read the river’ on my drives.

Catching the glimpse of the cobalt blue emergency strobes sets off warnings.

A sign that says Chamblee-Tucker Road 9 Miles / 20 minutes translates instantly to traffic moving at 30 miles per hour.

Break lights 10 cars ahead has me slowing down.

Twain continues, “The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book — a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day. Throughout the long twelve hundred miles there was never a page that was void of interest, never one that you could leave unread without loss, never one that you would want to skip, thinking you could find higher enjoyment in some other thing. There never was so wonderful a book written by man; never one whose interest was so absorbing, so unflagging, so sparkingly renewed with every reperusal. The passenger who could not read it was charmed with a peculiar sort of faint dimple on its surface (on the rare occasions when he did not overlook it altogether); but to the pilot that was an italicized passage; indeed, it was more than that, it was a legend of the largest capitals, with a string of shouting exclamation points at the end of it; for it meant that a wreck or a rock was buried there that could tear the life out of the strongest vessel that ever floated. It is the faintest and simplest expression the water ever makes, and the most hideous to a pilot’s eye. In truth, the passenger who could not read this book saw nothing but all manner of pretty pictures in it painted by the sun and shaded by the clouds, whereas to the trained eye these were not pictures at all, but the grimmest and most dead-earnest of reading-matter.”

October 28 – to live all my days

to live all my days
sedentary existence
uneventful goal

An off comment I picked up while watching a football game this weekend brought my time in college back to mind.

When I was in college I hoped to graduate and get a job in a research library or historical institution and live out my days in a sedentary existence.

Buried in research.

Buried in books.

Buried in old facts and thoughts that no one in their right mind would ever want to think about.

Spent the weekend with my grand daughters.

My son Jackie woke me up at 2AM to tell me his car had been broken into and the side window smashed.

Oh, and Jackie told me a friend of his from work would be crashing overnight on our sofa.

Went with my wife to the Braselton Antique and Craft fair.

Went to Church.

Dealt with work problems.

Cooked Sunday dinner.


Better then buried.

Buried would have been pretty boring.

October 27 – Michigan Football

Michigan Football
I know, silly, stupid … but
Beating Notre Dame

Very odd when the trivia question question during the Michigan – Notre Dame game last night asked about the last time Notre Dame came to Ann Arbor as the number 1 ranked team in the nation.

It was 1981.

It was also my first game as a Michigan student in the Michigan student section.

Steve Smith hit Anthony Carter down the sidelines for a touchdown in the student section corner of the end zone.

I screamed so loud and so long that something in my head went SNAP and I had a headache for 3 days.

Michigan went on the win 27-9.

It’s always great to beat Notre Dame.



October 25 – cautionary tales

cautionary tales
run and tell the king, again
sky falls, persevere

“I wore this frock coat in Washington, before the war. We wore them because we belonged to the five civilized tribes. We dressed ourselves up like Abraham Lincoln. We only got to see the Secretary of the Interior, and he said: “Boy! You boys sure look civilized.!” he congratulated us and gave us medals for looking so civilized. We told him about how our land had been stolen and our people were dying. When we finished he shook our hands and said, “endeavor to persevere!” They stood us in a line: John Jumper, Chili McIntosh, Buffalo Hump, Jim Buckmark, and me — I am Lone Watie. They took our pictures. And the newspapers said, “Indians vow to endeavor to persevere.” We thought about it for a long time, “Endeavor to persevere.” And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.”

Lone Watie from the movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales

Driving to work and reviewing the week at large, my heart files with bitterness.

My soul is filled with bile.

Fed up.

Not going to take it anymore.

Just plain angry with humans and lack of humanity.

I sit down and power up my computers and the radio from London is playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. (Violin concerto in D major, Opus 61).

Faith, maybe not reborn or rekindled but somewhat tempered.

There yet are reasons to stand.


October 24 – thinnest of margins

thinnest of margins
my life didn’t change today
whale ropes, driving

Driving home on I85 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, I made the simplest of lane changes.

Going to my left with the car in front moving at my same speed, I checked my left side view mirror and glanced at my rear view mirror and started to merge slowly into the next lane.

I looked up and the car in front had stopped, most unexpectedly.

Instead of a smooth, gradual slide to the left, I jerked the steering wheel and the car swerved hard to left.

I reversed the wheel to the right and straightened out in my new lane, moving past the stopped car that had been in front of me.

It had to have been all by instinct.

They say that the time it takes for a batter to decide to swing at a baseball is longer than it takes for a pitched ball to travel 60 feet 6 inches.

Baseball is a game of inches.

I doubt there was room for a folded over piece of paper between my right front bumper and that car’s left rear corner.

A whisker.

A hair breadth.

And I was on my way home.

The driver of the car in front of me was on their home.

No accident.

No stopping of rush hour traffic.

No exchange of paper work.

No waiting for cops to determine who was at fault.


Nothing worse than a bad scare.

The scare was bad enough.

It was several minutes before I could relax and say a quick prayer of thanks.

I have been in an accident where the margin went the other way and the car coming up from behind me barely clipped my bumper and both cars were badly damaged though no one was hurt.

At least once a week, I see worse.

Much worse.

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville writes, “but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.”

Melville is commenting in his passage that describes the rope known as a ‘whale line’ the work of the men in a small boat going after whales.

He writes, ” when the line is darting out, to be seated then in the boat, is like being seated in the midst of the manifold whizzings of a steam-engine in full play, when every flying beam, and shaft, and wheel, is grazing you.”

But whaling and whale ropes?

I was driving a car, something un-imagined by Melville.

Maybe Melville couldn’t imagine a car but he knew life and he writes,

All men live enveloped in whale-lines.”

October 23 – no sincerity

no sincerity
hypocrisy in buckets
Great Pumpkin, cropped

For me, a part of Fall and Halloween is watching It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Where did you guys go??

I enjoyed it as a kid.

I reveled in as a college student, making a point to watch it with my room mate, Doug Bruder. (We would call each other later in life with reminders when it was on.)

I introduced it to my children.

And my grand children.

I knew it was on this week but was surprised when I turned on the TV last night to see it on.

I yelled for my Grand Daughter, Azaria, to join me.

My daughter, Lauren, says, ‘Oh its Dad’s show.”

And my dear wife came in and sat with me just to be nice.

Azaria had her phone in her hand and was less than eager to look away from the device to watch this 60 year old animation play out as her grand father mouthed the lines.

I was pleased to notice this year that when trick-or-treating, Charlie Brown got rocks several times.

In the past, to make room for commercials, the Bach Fugue of ‘ALL I GOT WAS A ROCK’ had been cut to a single repetition.

I gloried in Linus’ speech of, “Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

Then on to the party and it happened.

Lucy bobs for apples and pulls Snoopy out of the tub and starts yelling blecch blecch.

Snoopy slithers away … and … CRAWLS INTO THE PUMPKIN PATCH?



Wait a minute.

Snoopy climbs out of the tub and goes over to Schroeder at the piano.

Schroeder then plays out a melody of World War 1 ballads that stirs Snoopy’s heart or moves the dog to grief.

He doesn’t go out to the pumpkin patch until over come with tears, he leaves the piano and goes out the door.

Where was the toothy grin and Pack Up Your Troubles and SMILE SMILE SMILE.

Where was the embarrassment in the dogs face when it howls in emotion during Roses of Picardy?

All cut to create more time for commercials?

Might as well cut off Mona Lisa’s nose.

No sincerity here.

Oh the hypocrisy!



Oh, Good Grief!

October 22 – entire life learning

entire life learning
how to communicate, still
wrong words are chosen

According to a quick google search, the Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use (and 47,156 obsolete words).

The odds are stacked against me that in any given situation, I will say the right thing or use the right words.

With texting or posting or any form of writing, audio emphasis or how the words are said out loud has to be supposed, or pre-supposed.

I have long said that most texts and emails are read in the same voice that I would read a note that said, “Report to Principal’s Office NOW!”

Is that fair to the person emailing me?

What do the words mean?

We have the audio recording of Neil Armstrong’s first words when he stepped on the moon.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (click for audio)

Which means the same thing.

NASA later said that there was a burst of static at the most inopportune moment and that the static blanked out the word, ‘a’.

Armstrong was supposed to have said, ‘That’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Plan ahead and select the right words, events and technology will conspire against you and confuse the meaning.

With all those words available, the most used phrase in English must be, “What I meant, not what I said!”