2.25.2022- basic math you can’t

basic math you can’t
tell the future because you
can’t tell the future

I enjoyed the article this morning, ‘A really bad deal’: Michigan awards GM $1bn in incentives for new electric cars.

I enjoyed because of what the reporter, a Mr. Tom Perkins of the Guardian, did.

He did the math.

He did the the very basic math.

GM and the State of Michigan have announced a deal that gives GM $1 Billion dollars in tax incentives over 20 years, — that is 9 zeros – $1,000,000,000 — to build a plant in the State that will create 3,200 jobs that will in around $55,000 a year.

Mr. Perkins divided that 1 billion by 3,200 to show that each job will cost State and Local entities $312,000 in lost tax revenues.

Mr. Perkins then figured state and local tax revenue at $4,600 per job over 20 years and came up with $300 Million in revenue.

Leaving the State of Michigan and local towns a $700 Million short fall.

I thought that the basic math employed by Mr. Perkins to be refreshing, simple and to the point.

This announcement, and I am sure the planning of the announcement went through several drafts and plenty of hard work in producing a memo that, used wonderful words explaining the wonderful benefits of this wonderful deal.

So long as no one did the basic math.

As Mark Twain wrote in The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, “There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.”

To be sure, Mr. Perkins, admits that each job will have an impact as each worker needs banks, gas stations and pizza places.

But Mr. Perkins writes, “The state also claimed the direct and indirect jobs created by the project will generate $29bn in new income over 20 years, or the equivalent of 29,000 jobs paying $50,000 annually. Economists from across the ideological spectrum who reviewed the analysis said that level of job creation is highly unlikely and pointed to a US Commerce Department report that labels such claims “suspicious”.”

Mr. Perkins quotes Michael LaFaive, fiscal policy director with the right-leaning Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Forecasting 20 years of economic impacts is nearly impossible, LaFaive said, and the MEDC’s (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) job projection “strains credulity”.

“They can’t tell the future because they can’t tell the future,” he said.

Oddly enough, after writing this, I remembered that the ‘Verse of the Day’ for yesterday was:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I am okay with some one knowing the future and I am okay that it is NOT the folks running the State of Michigan.

PS: I went searching online for what for me would be the perfect image of the GM building in Detroit. I did not want that silly logo on that silly ReCen. I wanted the old General Motors Building in downtown Detroit over by the Fisher Theater. And I wanted to show the sign, GENERAL MOTORS and I wanted it a night to show the sign how it looked with its glowing red letters. I grew up in a Ford family and GM was kind of a shadowy evil empire. In my mind, that huge, multi winged building looming in the haze that always seemed to be around Detroit with those glowing red letters, was the twin of the Castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. If she drove a car, she would drive a GM product. NEVERTHELESS, my search turned up empty. If anyone can find a photo of the old GM Building AT NIGHT with the sign in red letters, please let me know.

2.13.2022 – war to end all wars

war to end all wars
great war until second war
does world go again

Pelican over Atlantic Ocean

World War One for a long time was known simply as the either ‘The War’ or the “The Great War.”

Woodrow Wilson named it, “The War to End All Wars” and came to the Versailles Treaty meetings with a 14 point paper that would prevent future wars. This document brought the Prime Minister of France, Georges Benjamin Clemenceau, to comment that Moses himself had only 10 points.

It did not become World War One until World War Two came along.

In the book The Winds of War, Herman Wouk has one of his characters saying, “World War Two… You know, Time has been writing about ‘World War Two’ for months. It always seemed so unreal, somehow. Now here it is, but it still has a funny ring.

For centuries the Foreign Policy of Great Britain had been to keep things in Europe as muddled up as possible so that all the European countries would be arguing amongst themselves and no one would notice what Britain was doing around the world.

As Sir Humphrey Appleby put it, “Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last 500 years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it’s worked so well?

In 1914, Europe tried to sort their own problems and their solution was to act like kids at recess playing football.

The two biggest kids named themselves as Captains and then they chose up sides.

Once they had teams, everyone on each team agreed that they would be good team mates and come the aid of any other team mate who might be in trouble.

History books tell us The Great War started over an incident in the city of Sarajevo in Serbia.

Austro-Hungry claimed control over the country of Serbia.

Russia claimed an interest in ethnic Russians living in Serbia.

To calm things down, the Austro-Hungarians sent the Archduke Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria of Austria on a tour of the Serbia.

While in Sarajevo, the Archduke was shot and killed by a assassin which brought on a war between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia.

Serbia was on the Russian team so Russia was in.

Germany was the Austro-Hungarian team so they were in.

France and Britain were on Russian’s team so they were in.

And so on and so on an so on.

Wikipedia says, “The Balkans remained a site of political unrest with teeming ambition for independence and great power rivalries.”

And we all get into The Great War.

That is one story anyway.

When talking about the early 1900’s and great power rivalries in Europe, you come down to the two biggest kids on the playground, Britain and Germany.

The Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the grandson of Queen Victoria and the cousin to the then current King of Britain, George V.

Britain had a big navy.

Wilhelm II wanted just as big a navy and built one.

A problem with big navies is that if you don’t use them, they rust up and sink on their own.

It was pretty much a given that once Wilhelm II had his big navy, he would want to put it to the test against the other big navy on the block.

Kaiser Bill was that kind of guy.

He would start a war just to show that he was that kind of guy.

This is the guy who reportedly had a desk chair that was a saddle mounted on chair legs as he felt his brain worked better when he was on a horse.

(This brings to mind the Civil War General John Pope who dictated reports with the dateline, HEADQUARTERS IN THE SADDLE – meaning they were on the move – He sent off some many reports this way and was such a failure that Mr. Lincoln said that General Pope had his headquarters where his hindquarters should have been)

When Wilhelm II started on his big navy building scheme, one of Britain’s leading Admirals made a predication.

Germany’s biggest naval base, Kiel, is on the Baltic Sea and the Imperial German Navy would have to make its way up and around Denmark to get into the North Sea and attack Great Britain.

In 1907, Germany began work to deepen the Kiel Canal that cut across the bottom on Denmark and would let the Imperial German Navy get into the North Sea both quicker and secretly.

British Admiral Jackie Fisher, the man who invented the big gun battleship, said that as soon as that canal project was completed and Germany could get their fleet into the North Sea, Kaiser Bill would finally start his war.

The Kiel Canal was completed on June 23, 1914.

The Great War started that August.

Now Mr. Putin wants to start a war.

Why does Mr. Putin want to start World War One all over again?

Maybe he cares about all those ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

Maybe he worries about all the offenses those poor Russians in Ukraine have had to put up with since the USSR went away.

And maybe, Mr. Putin is just that type of guy who wants to start a war to prove that that is the type of guy he is.

1.23.2022 – have to remember

have to remember
how different past was see
how much has changed

Adapted from the text in the article, Why are US rightwingers so angry? Because they know social change is coming, by Rebecca Solnit.

Ms Solnit writes, “What’s happening goes far beyond public monuments. The statues mark the rejection of old versions of who we are and what we value, but those versions and values matter most as they play out in everyday private and public life.

1.17.2022 – so you may master

so you may master
the intricacies of the
English language

In his famous sermon, Paul’s Letter to American Christians Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you “speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

In a famous documentary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect Philip Johnson says that he doesn’t know how Wright designed his buildings.

Mr. Johnson then says, “If I knew how it did it, I would do it.”

Listening and reading the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

Listening and reading the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

If I knew, I would do it.

I ask myself, what must it have been like to be a regular at the Ebenezer Baptist Church when Dr. King was in the pulpit.

I grew up Dutch in West Michigan.

I also grew up Baptist.

That meant church twice on Sunday, Wednesday Meeting, Tuesday Bible Club and Monday Awana.

I heard a lot of preaching growing up.

I often felt that Sheriff Andy Taylor’s assessment of the preaching in Mayberry when he says that he, ” … holds with Rev. Tucker. But he can be as dry as dust,” could apply to my years growing up Baptist.

The church I grew was strongly associated with both the Grand Rapids Baptist College and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.

Both places still exist but now that the word ‘Baptist’ is a determent to marketing, they are known as Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

My Church did not so much have ‘Preaching’ as it had ‘Teaching’.

If ever in need of what was known as ‘Pulpit Supply’, the Church leaders would turn to the Seminary for someone to preach on Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend or in the event that the Church was without a Preacher.

Once when searching for a new Pastor, Dr. Leon Wood of the Seminary spoke for two years using his course and latest book on the Prophet Daniel as the basis for his Sunday sermons.

Dr. Wood’s style was to teach, word by word, through each verse, and explain in detail, the meaning, history and use of the word.

My Dad used to remark on how many verses of the Book of Daniel that Dr. Wood might cover in a Sunday Sermon.

The average was about 2.

I was 10 and when I was told about the upcoming Sunday Sermons, I was excited because the Book of Daniel had those great stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I was so excited, my Mom got me his book for my birthday.

I loved the gift.

I loved that I GOT a gift.

I loved that my Mom remembered.

But what was really cool about that gift was how it came about.

Every summer, my Dad would take a week off and we would take a State of Michigan vacation.

This meant Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinaw or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This vacation also usually happened around my Birthday on July 17th.

That meant my birthday was celebrated on the road.

For me, this was (as Jim Harrison writes in his book “The Big Seven”) the kind of injustice that weighs heavily on children who collect injustices for later possible use.

That year we were in Eagle Harbor Michigan up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan’s Upper peninsula, on my birthday and we trooped into a restaurant for lunch and with about 10 or 12 of us, we took three tables of 4.

Understand that by car, Eagle Harbor Michigan was a far away from Grand Rapids as Washington, DC,

Check a map, it is a LONG way there to get there.

I sat with Mom and Dad and probably little Stevie who would have been about 6.

Not sure why, but it seems like I always got to sit with Mom and Dad.

And most likely I was moping about it being my birthday and no cake or celebration as I was not going to let such an opportunity to whine get by when my Mom reached into her purse and pulled out a wrapped present.

She had packed it away and kept it hidden from me the entire trip.

Few gifts through out my life have been more a surprise.

And it was Dr. Wood’s book on Daniel.

I did read it – or at least tried to read it but I was just 10 years old and I still have it my shelf all these years later.

But I digress.

Dr. Wood, as I remember it, spent three weeks of Sunday Services dissecting the word, word history and meanings of the word ‘pulse’.

(For those who weren’t there, pulse is the veggie diet that Daniel asked for in place of the royal food’s that had been offered up before the Babylonia gods)

Where was the lion’s den?

Where was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Daniel’s 70 weeks?

And the missing week?

Minutes seemed like hours.

And hours seemed like days.

Years later, moving to the south, my wife and I (she grew up the same church) decided that anyone who attend our church when we did should be award a M.Div degree from the Seminary AND if anyone, and I mean ANYONE, had tried to preach any of those sermons in the south, biblical stoning would have made come back.

And I have to wonder why.

To be sure, Dr. King had a gift.

But was there anything else?

Dr. King after attending Morehouse in Atlanta, went off to post graduate work at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania to work on a Bachelor’s of Divinity degree in 1948.

Dr. King took some 35 courses.

Of those 35 course, 11, almost 1/3 of the course of study, were classes on HOW TO PREACH or other pulpit skills.

Dr. King took the following courses.

Preaching Ministry of the Church
Public Speaking (twice)
Public Speaking I
Preparation of the Sermon
Practice Preaching
Preaching Problems
Conduct of Church Services
The Minister’s Use of Radio
Church Music
Choir

Thinking about my experiences with sermons and preaching, I checked the current catalog list of required courses for a Master of Divinity or M.Div at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

There are 32 required classes.

BBL-501 Biblical Hermeneutics
BBL-510 Greek I
THE-501 Program Introduction
BBL-511 Greek II
THE-540 Systematic Theology I
MIN-500 Christian Spiritual
MIN-543 Christian Formation in the Church
MIN-545 Teaching & Learning
THE-640 Systematic Theology II
MIN-560 Global Impact
BBL-516 Hebrew I
BBL-672 NT I: Introduction to Exegesis. 3
THE-641 Systematic Theology III
BBL-517 Hebrew II
BBL-601 Experiencing the Ancient World of the Bible (Israel)
BBL-677 NT II: The Gospels
MIN-685 Ministry Residency I
MIN-510 Organizational Leadership General Elective
BBL-640 OT I: Intro to Hebrew Exegesis
BBL-678 NT III: Hebrews to Revelation. 3
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-686 Ministry Residency II
BBL-641 OT II: Exegesis in the Pentateuch
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-781 Ministry Residency III
MIN-711 Program Completion
MIN-782 Ministry Residency IV
BBL-642 OT III: Exegesis in the Prophets and Writings
THE-676 Apologetics and Moral Issues in Christian Ministry
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course

For specialization in Pulpit Ministry, Homelitics (the art of preaching or writing sermons) I & II are recommended Specialization courses.

Otherwise, nothing on how to speak or preach.

Boy Howdy!

That course list reads like a list of sermon titles I have sat through.

I held with the preaching, but it was dry as dust.

Now I am not saying that just the study of preaching and the classes that Dr. King took might have helped but I will say it wouldn’t hurt.

How much did it help Dr. King?

That is hard to say.

According to his transcript, Dr. King got a C’s in public speaking.

1.10.2022 – lost along the way

lost along the way
had a talk with history
can help? Then do it
!

What do you do in January if you live in a beach community and the weather, wind and waves conspire together to take the beach out of your afternoon options?

If new to the Low Country, like we are, exploring the area is next on the list.

Was about to write, “The Low Country is famous for …” when it came to me that the while the Low Country is a lot of things, famous is not one of them.

Still, things happened here.

Things happened here that did not happen other places.

And some things happened here for the first time.

One of the things that happened here during the United States Civil War is that the armed forces of the United States had some of its earliest success stories here.

The Battle of Bull Run is fought in July of 1861 and as Stonewall Jackson got one of the great nicknames in military history the Union Army got chased out of Virginia.

In November of 1861, combined Union Army and Navy forces took over the Low Country when they attacked Port Royal Sound and the South Carolina Sea Islands of St. Helena and Hilton Head.

This led to what the South Carolina history books called the “Big Skedaddle” as all the white South Carolinians got out of the Low Country and went to Charleston or Savannah.

Leaving all their former slaves behind for the most part.

This early the war, Abraham Lincoln was not ready to declare and end to slavery and the Union Government really didn’t know what to do with former slaves until one Union General, a real off the wall political General but able lawyer, Ben Butler, said that the slaves were former property and as ‘abandoned property’ could now be considered ‘contraband of war’ that could be seized by the forces of the Federal Government and as such, free.

Okay, so then what?

Then what became known as the Port Royal Experiment.

According to Wikipedia, “The Port Royal Experiment was a program begun during the American Civil War in which former slaves successfully worked on the land abandoned by planters. In 1861 the Union captured the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and their main harbor, Port Royal. The white residents fled, leaving behind 10,000 black slaves. Several private Northern charity organizations stepped in to help the former slaves become self-sufficient. The result was a model of what Reconstruction could have been.”

A special education commission was established which led to the establishment of the Penn Center on St. Helena island, just over a half hour drive away from where we live.

The Penn Center, Founded in 1862 by Quaker and Unitarian missionaries from Pennsylvania, it was the first school founded in the Southern United States specifically for the education of African-Americans.

It provided critical educational facilities to Gullah slaves freed after plantation owners fled the island, and continues to fulfill an educational mission.

The campus was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1974 and you can tour the grounds and buildings to this day.

St. Helena Island is one of those places where you can say take THE ROAD, turn left at THE STOP LIGHT and go past THE GAS STATION because out on St. Helena there is pretty much one road (2 if you count the north-south road and the east-west road) one, stop light and one gas station.

Before the Civil War there were 50 Plantations out here.

The road is lined with flat (what else) fields being prepared for (in January!) strawberry planting.

Tunnels through the live oaks and Spanish moss with dust from the strawberry fields cloud the sun.

And we drove up to St. Helena to explore and one of our stops was the Penn Center.

Be we kinda, even with just two roads, got lost along the way and got there late.

We drove and parked by a building with a sign that said Welcome Center.

There was a small OPEN sign on the door.

But when we went in the room was dark.

Dark and empty of other people.

There were displays and such but no people.

Behind us the door opens and a voice calls out, “I am so sorry, but we are closed.”

We turned around and there was this lady with this smile who took the open sign down and turned it around to closed.

So they were closed but the lady with a smile took some time to talk with us for a minute about the Penn Center.

The minute turned into 10 minutes or more as we learned that the lady we were talking too had graduated from the Penn Center back in 1952.

She had moved away but when retirement came, she moved back to St. Helena and started to volunteer where she could.

She was amazing to listen.

It was like to TO history.

There was history in her voice and a graciousness to her style I could not describe with the words that I have.

We apologized for making her stay over long and told her we would be back and that we would bring out grand children.

As we left, I asked her name.

“Gardenia,” she said with her smile on her face.

And she locked the door behind us.

When I got a chance, I punched ‘Gardenia’ and ‘Penn Center Volunteer’ in the Google and found out who we had been talking to.

She was Ms. Gardenia Simmons-White.

Gardenia Simmons-White was born on St. Helena Island, SC in 1934.

She was one of the last living graduates of the Penn Center.

NO

Now 87 years old, this wonderful lady was a wonder to listen too.

She said that volunteering as a docent at the Penn Center, “[is her] way of giving back to Penn for helping to shape my life and never forgetting the education I received which enabled me to reach higher heights. 

I admit I have been a little off on everything with the covid and the economy and the news lately.

Kinda lost along the way.

To have talked with Ms. Simmons-White and heard her stories, heard just her voice, was a long drink of cool water.

Her story is one of those stories that makes you hope that maybe things can and will turn out okay.

You can click here to read an article written about her BACK in 2013. (She seems to be just as active today.)

I was struck by something she said in that article.

Ms. Simmons-White said, ““If anyone asks, if I can help, I will.”

I like that.

I like that a lot.

Maybe if I can get my rear in gear and make the effort my tombstone can say:

“If anyone asked, if I can help, I did.”

1.7.2022 – cultural despair

cultural despair
loss, grievance anxiety when
feel dislocated

If you want to read a disturbing take on the world today, the writing of Fiona Hill is the writer for you.

You remember Ms. Hill.

She is the American lady with the brit accent who testified in one of the many hearings about important matters that mattered to important people back in the day when everyone was trying to get someone to say something that might get someone else in trouble.

Ms. Hill was an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2009. She was appointed, in the first quarter of 2017, by President Donald Trump as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on his National Security Council staff. (Wikipedia)

Ms. Hill has a command of language and prose and wit that produces wonderful, easy to read and grasp, important books that we all should read but no one will.

In her latest book, commenting on the United States at the beginning of the century, the millennium era, Ms. Hill wrote this.

Cultural despair is the sense of loss, grievance, and anxiety that occurs when people feel dislocated from their communities and broader society as everything and everyone shifts around them.

Especially when the sense of identity that develops from working in a particular job or industry, also recedes or is abruptly removed, people lose their grasp of the familiar.

They can then easily fall prey to those who promise to put things – including jobs, people, or even entire countries – back in “their rightful place.

If what it takes is a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them, it is safe to say the United States is in a state of cultural despair.

The goofy thing about the THEY in the line that starts, They can then easily fall prey … is that it can apply to either side of our great debates.

Take money.

Rich people are in despair due to a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them and they fall prey to anyone who says they will return and keep the I in RICH. Back in their rightful place.

Poor people are in despair due to a sense of loss, grievance as everything and everyone shifts around them and they fall prey to anyone who says they will replace the rich people with the poor people. In their rightful place.

The right places are not the same places.

And if someone is right, why would they want to consider another point of view that has to be wrong?

Something for everyone and at the same time nothing for anyone.

Did I leave out the title of Ms. Hill’s latest book?

There is nothing for you here.

12.29.2021 – miss the pace of it

miss the pace of it
the sheer multicultural
wonder of it all

We recently made a weekend trip to see the kids and grands.

For us, this means a return to the ATL.

Atlanta.

Atlanta, Georgia.

While we were stopped in traffic on the connector in downtown, I turned to my wife and said, “You realize there are more people stuck around us then live where we live?”

My wife says she loves where we live but she misses the energy of Atlanta.

I understand what she is saying.

But for me, I don’t miss it one bit.

Recently in the Guardian, a Ms. Laura Barton wrote an article titled, “I moved to the coast for a better life – now I’m back in London where I belong.”

In this article, Ms. Barton recounts how she had left London in 2014, “ … looking for something that felt more like a community, close enough for creativity to mingle. Somewhere, perhaps, to finally feel settled.

Ms. Barton says that while she found something close to this on the Kent Coast near Dover, she ” ... thought about the city and all the things I missed – galleries and gigs and theatres, city parks, city trees, architecture, friends, restaurants, 24-hour grocery shops stocked with everything from za’atar to rambutan, the pace of it, the constant evolution, the sheer multicultural wonder of it all. More than anything I missed people who talked about things other than themselves. The possibility it offered. The quiet, beautiful anonymity.”

Her article ends, “At last, I thought, I have escaped back to the city.

First off, let me point out that Ms. Barton’s life out of London took seven years to reach the breaking point.

We have been here on the coast or the low country, country under 20 feet above sea level, for just over a year.

Maybe I will get there in a few more years but for now …

With that understood, let me take a look at what she says she missed and what we had in the ATL.

Galleries and gigs and theatres.

We were not much into the arts in ATL.

And the age of COVID didn’t help much with getting out and about to see shows.

We went to the Art Museum [sic] and we had tickets to the ATL symphony that got cancelled due to covid.

There were lots of community art fairs and shows and such that we liked but a good number of those take place here in the low country as well.

Architecture.

ATL wins this hands down.

When you live in a hurricane zone, not much thought is put into structures that might need to be rebuilt every couple of years.

Friends.

This one is a toss up right now.

ATL was so big and changed so often, friends were not something we made a lot of.

We are working at that here but, well, anyone who has moved has lived this part of the story.

If this includes family and our kids and grand kids, ATL wins easily.

On the other hand, our family loves to come to the coast.

One grand daughter got out of the car, run for hugs and then said, “Can we go to the beach now?”

Restaurants.

There are about 300 restaurants here in our immediate area but its pretty much seafood.

This might be a down side but I love how it worked out.

Still I wish there was a decent pho shop or Indian place.

When you come right down to it, Fat Matt’s may be what I miss the most about ATL.

24-hour grocery shops stocked with everything from za’atar to rambutan.

ATL wins this one.

There are NO 24 hour grocery shops in the Low Country and I am pretty sure you could decide to go shopping for almost anything, anytime in ATL.

Published or online listed hours for places of business here in the Low Country are like , you know, suggestions?

The pace of it, the constant evolution.

Again ATL wins this hands down.

There is a pulse to the air in ATL.

There is a smell in the air here in the Low Country.

(It’s the pluff mud.)

The sheer multicultural wonder of it all.

ATL in this respect, is almost beyond belief.

I would watch the news and see video of a crowd of people and I would say it was either a UN Refuge Camp or a Gwinnett County Park on Sunday Afternoon.

The low country, especially the resort area where we live, is a lot of things, but multicultural is not one of them.

Add on that most folks are vacationers here for a week and the faces constantly change but the people don’t.

(Or is the other way ’round?)

More than anything I missed people who talked about things other than themselves.

This line bothers me a bit.

Is Ms. Barton complaining that no one wanted to hear about her?

I read somewhere once that to be interesting, be interested.

For me, I feel I AM interesting because everyone is so interested in me.

I have to tell myself to listen at least once in a while.

The possibility it offered.

ATL is all about the possibilities it offers.

If you are young and live in America today and you do not live in ATL, I feel sorry for you.

I like to joke that suppose if for a social experiment, we identified everyone with ideas, get-up-and-go, gumption and the like and took them out of the mix.

What would be left?

EUROPE!

After 20 years in the TV News Business, working with TV stations across the country, I feel I can say the same thing about the United States.

If its happening in America, it’s happening in ATL.

That leaves us with The quiet, beautiful anonymity.

Here is the head scratcher.

I know what Ms. Barton means but it seems to fly in the face of all else that she has written.

She wants the hustle and bustle … without the hustle and bustle?

In college I tried to describe days filled with an overwhelming desire to be alone coupled with the overwhelming sense of loneliness.

If there is anything I have found a lot of here in the Low Country along the Atlantic coast it is a quiet, beautiful anonymity.

In the essay, Cape Cod, Henry Thoreau writes about the coast that, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

And that is the slam dunk for me.

As I said, I spent the last 20 years in online news.

The urgency of news and the immediacy of online meant that for me, when I started in the year 2000, I worked, I was on, I was wired in, 24×7 365 until I was told my services were no longer needed.

Maybe I got some form of PTSD.

Today I seek a quiet, beautiful anonymity.

I like to stand on the coast.

I like stand on the coast with my feet in the ocean.

I like to stand on the coast with my feet in the ocean with all America behind me.

12.24.2021 – sweet rolls, potatoes

sweet rolls, potatoes
stuffing, pumpkin, pecan pie
Christmas Eve cooking

I was making my list and checking it twice of the cooking I need to do today in preparation of the Christmas Day feast tomorrow and the words lined up nicely for a holiday haiku.

I enjoy cooking.

Maybe because I never HAD to do it much but was allowed to dabble in the kitchen from time to time.

Most holiday dinners being part of that time.

Back back years ago, I boarded at a frat house for a term when I started college.

To help with the board bill I took on a kitchen job.

Being last in line to choose kitchen jobs, it fell to me to be Sunday Dinner Cook.

This meant I had to prepare the Sunday After Church Noon Dinner for around 50 college age men.

I didn’t have to know much about cooking or recipes for this job.

And I didn’t learn much about cooking or recipes while on the job.

But I did learn something very important about cooking for a large group.

I learned timing.

The frat had a real weekday cook and she would get the Sunday roast out of the freezer and start it thawing before she left on Friday.

I had to make sure the roast was in the oven by 6AM.

The rest of the meal was opening giant cans of applesauce and vegetables and making a couple gallons of powdered mashed potatoes and remembering to get the rolls out of the freezer.

Pretty much everything was just warmed up on the stove or in the oven.

I had a vintage 1920’s era basement kitchen to work in.

It had a gas range with 8 burners, a 6 foot long flat frying surface, warming table, prep table all made out of cast iron and industrial freezers and fridges.

There was a butcher block stand in the center of the kitchen that, to this day, makes me look at any other butcher block stand in any store or catalog and say, “welllllllllll … not what I am used to.”

It was equipped with all the latest and greatest in kitchen gadgets and tools that were then available in 1920.

The can opener was lethal.

It was like operating a drop forge with razor sharp edges.

Another kitchen tool was a meat cleaver the size of a tennis racket that weighed about 30 lbs.

After I discovered this cleaver hanging on the wall in a back room, and after I learned how to use it, I would ask anyone in the kitchen if they might want an apple.

If they said ‘yes, sure’, I would get an apple (we had a huge bin of apples down there, too) polish it up for a second and place it on that butcher block.

Then I would pick up that cleaver with both hands and get the heft of it going in my shoulders and lift it up and in a flash, chop that apple in half.

Usually the guy would scream, and jump back, then laugh and then run up into the house to find someone and say, “Hey! Go ask Mike to get you an apple!”

We all agreed that apples prepared this way tasted better than any other apples.

The Sunday Dinner crew would show up around noon and set the tables and get pitchers of powdered milk and water ready.

Then my show started.

As I remember there were 4 long tables in the dining room that would seat about 12 guys a table.

The meals were served family style so I needed two big serving bowls of whatever per table.

Whatever dish I was warming up, I need to have enough to fill 8 big serving bowls.

Dinner was served promptly at 12:30pm so that it could be eaten and everyone back upstairs in the TV room for Sunday football by 1:00pm.

(TV Room … GOSH … How old am I?)

When the kitchen crew started setting the tables, I set out all of my serving bowls and made sure I had a pile of serving spoons.

I got the roast out of the oven.

This piece of meat was huge and early on I learned to cut the thing into quarters before trying to slice it.

The roasting pan was filled with marvelous grease and I had enough training from my Mom to know how to make real gravy.

About 12:15pm the kitchen crew would troop in and ask for directions and I had them spoon out the veggie of the day, applesauce and potatoes into the serving bowls.

Baskets of rolls went out.

I started slicing the beef.

By the time the time the other food had been set out, the platters of meat were ready and set and I would yell, ‘Go get Em!’

Someone on the crew would run upstairs to the common room and press the house buzzer for three long buzzes.

This was the call to dinner.

It was a three story house with a wooden stair case.

Those guys didn’t so much walk down stairs as much as the tumbled down in one loud cloud of noise.

As the roar of their stair stomping and loud conversation increased, I filled gravy boats (that I had dug out of the back of kitchen cupboards) and had them placed on the tables.

As the guys came in, the comments started.

“It’s ALL READY AT THE SAME TIME”, they would say.

“It’s ALL HOT”, they would say.

“GRAVY!!!!!”, someone would shout.

Like I said, if I had to do it everyday.

If I just plain HAD to do it, I am sure I would have different thoughts but looking back I have an almost absurd feeling of satisfaction.

And I know how to get a meal of many dishes off the stove, out of the oven and on the table at the same time.

We spent last weekend in Atlanta with the kids and grands.

It is just me and my wife and one son for Christmas Dinner this year.

Still, it is Christmas.

The cooking will start tonight.

I will get the morning sweet rolls all set and in the fridge ready for the oven tomorrow morning.

I’ll get the sweet potatoes peeled, boiled and mashed ready for a casserole of sweet potatoes, two eggs and 1/2 cup of brown sugar – sprinkle with brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon after it comes out of the oven.

I’ll reduce a loaf of bread to cubes and set out to get nice and stale for stuffing even though I am just roasting a turkey breast tomorrow.

Then the pies.

Pumpkin for my son.

He will manage to consume at least the essence of pumpkin pie under a thick coating of whipped cream.

Then the pecan pie.

My Dad loved pecan pie.

I thought it was a bit too sweet.

A bit too sweet until my Grandma Hendrickson would show up with her famous butterscotch pie.

As a kid, I honestly thought my Grandma melted butterscotch candies and poured the bright yellow glop into a pie shell.

To this day I am not sure that isn’t the recipe.

Family history has the story about one of my Mom’s brothers asking if, on his birthday, he could have an entire butterscotch pie to himself.

The story went he never ate butterscotch pie again.

But pecan pie.

As I said, I always thought it a bit too sweet.

Then I moved to the south.

People I met down here introduced me to real pecan pie.

People I met introduced me to a pecan pie that was gooey and thick and crunchy and somehow light and not so sweet that it made your teeth hurt.

There was a secret ingredient.

Instead of corn syrup, you know, the stuff they put in soda pop, the secret ingredient is Alaga syrup.

According to the website, “In 1906, the Alabama-Georgia (ALAGA) Syrup Company was established by Louis Broughton Whitfield, Sr. along with his wife, Willie Vandiver Whitfield. Mrs. Whitfield, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, named the company to represent both her home state and that of her husband who was from LaGrange, Georgia.”

The slogan for ALAGA syrup was, “ALAGA – Good Every Drop.

Alaga Syrup is ribbon cane syrup with a little corn syrup added.

Because ribbon cane is grown by small farmers and refined on site, it is less pure than common sugar cane syrup.

The process leaves ribbon cane syrup a brown color.

Ribbon cane is also very sweet to the taste.

Being less refined, it also has a richer, almost full flavor, while sugar cane syrup is just very sweet.

It is easy to find on the shelves at your local Winn-Dixie, Publix, or Piggly Wiggly.

I feel bad for you all up north as you cannot get Alaga Syrup up there.

I feel bad for me as I can’t even get this in South Carolina.

But I got a bottle from my daughter in Atlanta for Christmas.

For the pie, the recipe I always use is on the Alaga website.

The recipe used to be listed as the ALABAMA STATE FAIR GOLD MEDAL PIE of 1923 Recipe but now shows up under the link, Southern Pecan Pie.

It is a simple recipe … really, it is.

Original Alaga Syrup Pecan Pie Recipe

Preheat oven to 350
1-9″ pie plate lined with pie crust
Put Pecans into pie plate lined with pie crust.
1 cup Alaga cane syrup
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 stick butter
1 Tbl vanilla extract
1 cup whole pecans

Bring syrup and sugar to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.
Add hot syrup to beaten eggs, beating constantly.
Add butter, let melt.
Add vanilla.
Pour over pecans.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

The trick is getting that roiling boil of sugar and syrup and then stirring in the eggs without the eggs separating.

I’ll be making this tonight.

I’ll be eating this tomorrow.

After dinner and pie I will say, “why did I eat all that?

At some point tomorrow night I’ll look at my wife and say, “Want a piece of pie?

12.16.2021 – The history we tell

The history we tell
today lays the groundwork for
the future we make

Adapted from the text in the article, Why are US rightwingers so angry? Because they know social change is coming, by Rebecca Solnit.

Ms. Solnit writes, “While their fear and dismay is often regarded as rooted in delusion, rightwingers are correct that the world is metamorphosing into something new and, to them, abhorrent.”

I can picture a not too far off future when an aging body of today’s right wing voters march on Washington to demand attention to Social Security issues and increases in funding from a US Congress that has a majority of members being people of color and or Hispanic origin.

Bills will be introduced to increase social security funding and benefits for these old right wingers.

I think there will be much satisfaction for many members of that Congress in voting no.