the “right” wing voice…which is it?

Stanley Armour Dunham, Ann Dunham, Maya Soetor...

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Don’t usually reference Republican opinions on my blog. I think they’re more than entitled, that’s for sure. Let’s just say our way of thinking, theirs and mine, don’t usually run along the same lines. This once, however, I thought I’d share the opinion of Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, former leader of the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the George W. Bush administration.

The GOP and the Birther Trap

Thanks to Donald Trump–real-estate mogul, reality-TV star, and possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination–a fringe conspiracy theory is now front and center in American politics: the claim that President Barack Obama might not be a natural-born American citizen.

By focusing on Mr. Obama’s birth certificate, Mr. Trump has garnered a lot of attention and some support. According to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, among Republicans he is now tied with Mike Huckabee as the most popular prospective GOP presidential nominee. If responsible Republicans don’t speak out immediately against Mr. Trump’s gambit, it will do substantial damage both to their party and to American politics.

Donald Trump enters the Oscar De LA Renta Fash...

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The Trump case goes like this: Mr. Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate, his grandmother has stated that he was born in Kenya, his family is fighting over which Hawaii hospital Mr. Obama was born in, and “nobody knew” Mr. Obama while he was growing up in Hawaii.

The problem is that Mr. Trump is wrong on every particular.

Many media outlets have shown that Mr. Obama has a certificate of live birth that includes an embossed seal, an official signature, and all the information necessary for proof of citizenship. The directors of Hawaii’s health department and its registrar of records have both verified that the information on Mr. Obama’s birth certificate is identical to that in the state’s record. His certificate would be accepted by the State Department and any court in America. “In other words,” the conservative magazine National Review has written, “what President Obama has produced is the ‘real’ birth certificate of myth and lore.”

Stanley Ann Dunham

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In addition, both the Honolulu Star and the Honolulu Advertiser published birth announcements just days after Mr. Obama’s birth. Mr. Trump speculates that Mr. Obama’s grandparents put the ads in the papers “because obviously they want (Mr. Obama) to be a United States citizen. ” That sounds like an odd strategy. No one disputes that Mr. Obama’s late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a U.S. citizen. She graduated from Mercer Island High School outside Seattle the year before she gave birth.

Yet people like Mr. Trump act like the president appeared out of nowhere. He ominously said, “I’ve seen too many things,” hinting that there is a massive conspiracy underway that is obscuring the truth. What he is trading in is nonsense.

The problem for Republicans is that some significant figures within the party are giving a wink and a nod to his efforts. Sarah Palin has said, “I believe (Mr. Obama) was born in Hawaii,” but in recent days she also said, “More power to (Mr. Trump). He’s not just throwing stones from the sidelines, he’s digging in, he’s paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate.”  (Ms. Palin has refused journalists’ requests to explain where the $2 million figure comes from.)

Representative Michele Bachman (R., Minn.) has said that she takes the president at his word and doesn’t care about the issue. But she has added: “The president just has to give proof and verification, and there it goes”–even though proof and verification have already been given.

When prominent figures in a party play footsie with peddlers of paranoia, the party suffers an erosion of credibility. While certain corners of a party’s base might be energized by conspiracy theories, the majority of the electorate will be turned off by them. People are generally uneasy about political institutions that give a home to cranks.

There’s more than a partisan cost to all this. Mr. Trump is succumbing to a pernicious temptation in American politics: not simply to disagree with political opponents, but to try to delegitimize them. The argument isn’t simply that Mr. Obama is wrong on almost every public policy matter (which I believe he is). Rather, the argument is that his presidency is unconstitutional and that he is alien.

President George W. Bush and President-elect B...

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Something like this happened with Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, who inspired such rage in some of his critics that they deemed his presidency illicit.

In self-governing societies, there have to be unwritten rules by which we abide. Among them is that we accept the outcome of elections and keep our public debates tethered to reality.

From time to time people emerge who violate these unwritten codes. They delight in making our public discourse more childish and freakish, focusing attention on absurdities rather than substantive issues, and stirring up mistrust among citizens. When they do, those they claim to represent should speak out forcefully against them.

(Wall Street Journal article)

2 wars, high unemployment, medicare overhaul, trillions in debt, nuclear disaster, unstable global economy, mid-east turmoil…

then there’s…obama’s birth certificate…

…hmmm…hugmamma.

 

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a “human” cougar

 

Kami-Daigo in Kyoto, Japan

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Events in Japan have put me in a thoughtful mood of late. Decided to lift my own spirits, and perhaps yours, by reprinting the story of Nashi, an elder statesman, who recently passed away. A long-time resident of a local zoo, he seemed to be viewed as one of them, by his human caretakers. Needless to say they mourned him as they would a member of their families. The following tribute ran in today’s local newspaper.

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The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors. Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

“He was a fantastic cougar. He had a lot of spunk in him,” she said. “He enjoyed talking with the visitors every day.”

The Nashi Memorial Celebration will be at March 26 at the zoo. Instead of holding its traditional cougar lecture, the zoo will open the stage for people to talk about Nashi. Staff members who raised and worked with him will talk about his life.

Cougar“I used to joke around that he’s a rock star, because he is,” Barfoot said. At the zoo, Nashi would model for product labels, television shows and nature documentaries. “He actually sat in the mayor’s chair when he was a cub,” she said. “He definitely made the rounds and left a mark on many people.”

Volunteers and zoo visitors are also encouraged to share their Nashi stories, talking about how he made them feel when he chirped or purred in their presence.

“His purrs were really unique,” Barfoot said. “He had a low guttural purr and he would stick his tongue out. If you got a purr from Nashi, your day was pretty darn perfect.”

A Blackfoot indian on horseback

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Nashi came to the zoo as a cub after he was found orphaned in Minnesota. His full name, Nashidoita, is Blackfoot Indian for Spirit of the Mountains.

“He was a great cat and everyone who worked at the zoo had a relationship with him, not just the people who worked directly with him,” Barfoot said.

My family and I were fortunate to watch Nashi prowl the confines of his Cougar Mountain Zoo hideaway. He looked every bit the master of all he surveyed. And obviously he was.

hugs for cats…big and small…wild and not-so-wild…hugmamma.

popularity contest?, social networking

Yikes! I definitely feel like a “babe in the woods,” a “green horn,” a total novice after reading an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. Yes, that’s how far behind I am with my Journal reading. One of my very first posts, “deadly dilemma,” published on 7/22/10, mentioned my not wanting to subscribe to newspapers which go unread, day after day. Guess what? There’s a pile of papers sitting on my bedroom floor. I’m a pack rat, albeit an organized one. I cannot trash something until I make a conscious determination to do so. And I’m positive there are “gems” hiding among the pages of those, as yet to be read, newspapers. The article which is the subject of this post is a case in point.

“Wannabe Cool Kids Aim to Game the Web’s New Social Scorekeepers,” subtitled “Sites Use Secret Formulas to Rank Users’ Online ‘Influence’ From 1 to 100; ‘It’s an Ego Thing’,” pulls the curtain from around the Great Oz. Just as that book and film character worked the control panel to manipulate the lives of those living within his empire, so too it seems the internet wizards decide who among us will have the last word. Double yikes!!

I guess it would be naive to say I’d like to return to the good, old days when everyone “played fair.” Yeah right. When was that ever the case in the history of mankind? Even the serpent manipulated Eve into coaxing Adam to take a bite from the forbidden apple. So I guess we were doomed from the minute our first ancestors drew breath. I know it’s a fable written to nurture man’s superstitious nature, but the author had to get the idea from somewhere, probably from closely observing the society in which he lived.

Katie Miller, a 25-year-old public relations account exec and avid tweeter, was invited to a $30,000 “swanky holiday party on Manhattan’s West Side.” The invitation explained that she’d been “singled out as a ‘high-level influencer’ by the event’s sponsors, including the Venetian and Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas, and a tech company called Klout, “which ranks people based on their influence in social-media circles.” And how did she make the Las Vegas connection? “When Katie Miller went to Las Vegas this Thanksgiving, she tweeted about the lavish buffets and posted pictures of her seats at the aquatic spectacle ‘Le Reve’ at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel.”

To my senior friends who are skeptical about the value of the internet, I’d say “There’s gold in them thar hills!” So go enroll in adult education classes and start reaping the rewards of Facebooking and twittering. For according to the Journal article, “ordinary folks can become ‘influential’ overnight depending on the number and kinds of people who follow them on Twitter or comment on their Facebook pages.” Realize though that this generation is light years ahead in “gaming the system.”

Casie Stewart, a 28-year-old-social-media consultant from Toronto, has earned a free Virgin America flight, a shopping splurge at Mark’s Work Wearhouse and an all-expenses-paid trip to New Zealand fashion week thanks to her prolific tweeting and blogging about her life.

“Just got shot by fashion photographer @raphaelmazzucco in the Diesel Lounge,” she tweeted recently.

Klout dubbed Ms. Stewart a “networker” and awarded her a score of 74 (out of 100). As her score climbed, she gained the attention of a range of brands and public-relations firms who hooked her up with prizes, says Ms. Stewart, who has more than 5,000 Twitter followers. She says she tweets to build her “personal brand,” and getting perks from companies to tweet or blog about helps: “I always wanted to be well-known for being really good at something.”

Then there’s 25-year-old consultant Zach Bussey who wanted to improve his “social-media mojo last year.” He claims it’s an “ego thing,” and that he’s a social-media ” ‘passionisto.’ ” Among other services Bussey used,  was one called TweetLevel, the creation of public-relations firm Edelman. “It grades users’ influence, popularity, trust and ‘engagement’ on a scale of 1 to 100.” Obviously tech savvy, Bussey “gamed the system.”

He decided to try to improve his score by boosting the ratio of people who follow him to the number he follows. So he halved the number of people he was following to 4,000. His TweetLevel score rose about 5 points and his Klout score jumped from a 51 to a 60.

“The change gave me more legitimacy,” he says. But, he warns, you can’t get lazy: “If you go on vacation for a week and can’t tweet every hour of the day, you better be prepared to see your scores drop.”

Crazy, right?!? I’m not so sure. All kinds of people are trying to win the social networking popularity contest. Even high-profile tweeters look to tech companies like Klout for their numbers. Among influential politicians, President Obama ranks at 90 out of 100, John Boehner 75, of young pop stars Justin Bieber ranks at 100, Lady Gaga 90, of talk show hosts Conan O’Brien ranks at 90, Jay Leno 65, and of business executives Bill Gates ranks at 76, Eric Schmidt 75.

Even bloggers are not immune to “gaming the system.” Don’t look at me. I can’t even put the “Rolling Blog 2011 badge” on my blog because I’m clueless as to its URL. (Check out the small, red “x” framed by an empty, white space in the sidebar.) And I don’t even know what URL stands for. I’m a writer, remember? I’ve figured out the bare necessities and a little extra. I’m no computer genius by any stretch. On the other hand fellow Washingtonian, Gabriel Elliott of Vancouver, attempting to drive more traffic to his marketing blog, “The Internet Vision,” sought to “dissect Twitalyzer, which provides users with a suite of scores free. It also sells packages for as much as $99.99 a month with extras like daily email alerts that track scores over time.”

Mr. Elliott tried to manipulate individual variables, tweaking his frequency of tweeting, while keeping other things, like his rate of retweeting-or tweeting others’ tweets and giving them credit–constant. He determined that the biggest overall contributors to his score were retweeting and mentioning other users in his tweets. He raised his scores in both areas from 5 to 25 and gained about 1,500 followers over the next two months. “It took burning both ends of the candle,” he says.

“The arbiters of the new social hierarchy,” like Klout, Twitalyzer and PeerIndex work the numbers by feeding “public data, mostly from Twitter…LinkedIn and Facebook, into secret formulas and then generate scores that gauge users’ influence. Think of it as the credit score of friendship, or as PeerIndex calls it, ‘ the S&P of social relationships.’ ” Sounds very much like the credit reporting agencies who can make or break our financial standing. So now we’re saddled with social reporting agencies who can make or break our popularity.

The companies say their aim is to provide benchmarks to help people figure out whom to trust online and a way for marketers to spot people eager to evangelize their brands. Their efforts have ignited a race among social-media junkies who, eager for perks and bragging rights, are working hard to game the system and boost their scores.

Better we let our gut instincts determine our beliefs than companies who, despite what they say, have their own agendas like monetary gain through subscriptions for their services. And who are they telling us to believe in? Social wannabees! Those wanting fame and celebrity, and all the free stuff they can’t buy for themselves.

Granted there are those who “back into” the good life, like Katie Miller. Those doing what they would normally do without forethought of the “riches” they might garner, should continue merrily on their way. But I would suggest that those whose focus is to rack up points in their favor, “get a life!” Take it from a senior citizen, life’s too short to be messing around with numbers. Get out there and live your life. There’s more to life than a keyboard, a computer screen, and ratings.

By the way, beware of “one-night stands.” While tech companies have no problem with users maximizing their scores, they don’t take lightly to unsportsmanlike conduct.

Klout employees recently neutralized a tactic they dubbed “the one-night stand,” in which people follow lots of people on Twitter, hoping they’ll follow them back, then dump them a day later. “Users are a crafty bunch,”…

I know they’re not talking about moi. Blogging provides me with the opportunity to write, as well as readers who might be interested in what I have to say. Yes, it’s heady stuff knowing that I might influence some, but whether or not I do, I want to continue writing what I feel, first and foremost. I can’t write just to rack up ratings.

but my way’s not the only way…hugmamma.

david chow, “real change”

In my previous post I spoke of “Real Change,” the “homeless” newspaper. Actually it’s mission is

to create opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty.

and

The Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Real Change is a member of the North American Street Newspaper Association, the International Network of Street Papers, and the Greater Seattle Business Association.

Real Change has an 11-member Board of Directors headed by President Stephan Fjelstad, President. There is a bare-bones office staff of 11, with Executive Director Timothy Harris at the helm. Five interns flesh out the administrative labor force.

A total of 48 volunteers abound on the Editorial Committee, and in the pool of Contributing Writers and Photographers and Graphic Artists. Two copy editors and a bookkeeper also volunteer their time and services. Then of course there are more volunteers for all sorts of other things. I counted 29 of them.

Ending the list of people involved with the organization is an Advisory Board of 38 citizens from poet, to filmmaker, to media consultant, to author, to journalist, as well as those affiliated with various organizations like Children’s Alliance, Racial Disparity Project, Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, Economic Opportunity Institute, Colors NW, United Way of King County, and educational institutions such as Seattle University and the University of Washington.

A grand total of 145 people at Real Change give of themselves to strive to make life better for the less fortunate, people like David Chow.

Outside the Kirkland PCC on a rainy afternoon, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was the perfect occasion to meet with this Vendor of the Week, David Chow. As we talked about David’s experience as a Real Change vendor, it was immediately evident that King was an inspiration and an example of true service to mankind that David had tried to exemplify in every part of his life. David refers to his work as a vendor as a real blessing in his life, and he said that to have such a supportive environment and loyal customers at PCC adds to his ability to be of service to his customers, and to be an example to other young men of color. David sees his work as a sacred responsibility to challenge the subtle and not-so-subtle biases that seem to dominate much of public opinion.

David is truly a Northwest guy. Born in Seattle, he spent much of his youth here and in Salem, Ore. As a child David started working out in public by selling candy door-to-door, where he was mentored by his uncle. He learned how to work hard for what he wanted, to be responsible for his own efforts and most of all how to be courteous, helpful, and sensitive to the people who became his customers, he said. That experience has given David a rock-solid confidence in himself, which he radiates as he sells the newspaper. He speaks with assurance when greeting his customers, many of whom he knows by name. Currently he says, “Happy Holiday” to everyone, and when they ask which holiday it is, he is able to say, “This is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday,” which is often an opportunity to start a conversation, and a chance to encourage his customers to check out the Real Change website.

David is currently attending Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore. where he is taking classes in political science, history, and writing. His ambition is to complete his associate’s degree and then move on to a university and get a bachelor’s degree.

David encountered Real Change when he was trying to start a non-profit called D.O.P. (Doing Our Part) which he envisioned as a service organization giving young people an alternative to the prevailing lifestyle. He was seeking donations in front of a local Trader Joe’s where a Real Change vendor was working and through conversation and with the encouragement of that vendor, he started selling Real Change. He has continued selling the paper for about the last four years, but really started to put more effort into the endeavor in the last year. David sells mostly on the weekends because he takes classes during the week in Salem. He drives to Seattle every week to see his daughter and to sell Real Change at the Kirkland PCC. ” ‘I am grateful every day for the opportunity Real Change has given me,’ he said, ‘and I want to thank all my customers who have been so generous to me.’ “

Entitled “Vendor of the Week,” this story was written by Joe Chitty.

change happens…one person at a time…hugmamma.    

helping the disenfranchised, “real change”

Today I was reminded of what I’d seen occur elsewhere in the country. A black man stood outside the front door of Trader Joe’s, approaching customers as they walked into the store. He seemed to gauge a person’s reaction first, before stepping forward. He was in the process of speaking with someone when I walked by, entering the market.

After making my purchases, I exited Trader Joe’s heading for my car where I unloaded the groceries. Returning to the front of the market with the empty cart, I decided to ask the man who’d been there when I entered, what it was he was selling. I had a hunch about his product, but wasn’t absolutely certain.

I waited while he moved wayward carts into position where they were housed. When I asked what he was selling, he confirmed what I’d thought. He was selling “Real Change,” probably more widely known as the “homeless” newspaper, at a dollar apiece. Fumbling though my wallet, I parted with my last $3, and told him I only wanted one paper.

On several visits to the city where my daughter resides, we’d see one or two individuals selling newspapers on the sidewalks outside of church, as we were driving away. Unsure as to who they were, we never slowed down to inquire. Not too long ago, a friend with whom she dances told my daughter that the people we’d seen, and others like them, were homeless men and women trying to earn money. They’d purchase each copy for $.35, and sell them for $1 each. A way to make a living, however meager.

In reading through the few pages that comprise the “Real Change,” I find it to be a “mixed bag” of articles pertaining to those who live on the fringes of society.

“Don’t overlook dangerous stereotypes of the mentally ill” written by Judy Lightfoot, a contributing writer, is about Washington’s SEIU Healthcare union’s use of inflammatory imagery on behalf of mental illness, to keep legislators from cutting funding . Suggesting that sufferers of the disease might resort to violent crimes if government aid is withdrawn, has other advocacy groups up in arms. Some 300 of them have raised concerns that such a stigma would prove unfavorable for their clients in the short, and long-term. After much back and forth, both sides agree they should work together on behalf of the mentally ill. Jonathan Rosenblum at SEIU Healthcare 1199NW concluded that ” ‘All of us who advocate for better mental health care have a tough job to do, connecting the dots with the general public without causing more fear of “the Other.” There’s always a fine line between hauling out the crisis and stigmatizing,’ ” but what advocacy ” ‘ does not need is a lot of “he-said-she-said” about stigmatizing. We need to work together.’ “

“Othello public market aims to create multicultural bazaar”  by another contributing writer, Tom Fucoloro, is more upbeat, demonstrating that living on the fringes is not all bad. It can offer variety, and add “color” to drab existences. A non-profit group is retrofitting a large “Citadel” building which formerly served as a bowling alley, a retail center, a church, and recently, as a venue for raves. The Othello Public Market will be a large, year-round, indoor, public market reflective of the area’s cultural diversity. Current census data indicates that Seattle’s 98118 zip code is the most ethnically diverse in the United States. Market founder Mateo Monda “hopes to fill the big blue building with stalls of produce, hot food, live chickens, a creamery, jewelry and cell phone sales…He has mainly been searching for people whose products are affordable and add to the range of cultures represented. Of course, American food and goods are still welcome…….. ”  Of his personal life Monda says ” ‘I’m living in a sit-com situation, basically,’ with his 81-year-old father, 2 Mexican daughters entering their teens, and his dog.”

From the “Director’s Corner” comes this

I’ve recently been advised that I need to be more positive. That all this doom and gloom about how bad things are just doesn’t do it for people. They want to know about solutions, not problems. They would like more stories about how, amid the wide-spread screwing of the poor, someone got off the street through effective case management and into affordable housing.

It happens. But if people want reassurance that our efforts are somehow adequate and that things are remotely OK, they don’t need me. There are plenty of others, from HUD on down, who are happy to give that perspective. According to them, chronic homelessness is down by 5 percent.

The 2010 National Conference of Mayors’s report on hunger and homelessness is a bit more believable. In the 27 cities surveyed, requests for food assistance rose last year by an average of 24 percent. Here in Seattle, we report that 18 percent of demand went unment, and that food banks are struggling to accommodate rising need without increased resources.

One politician promoted in the article as a role model for others is Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who calls for an increase in taxes for the wealthy “whose fortunes have only improved amidst widespread economic pain.” Dayton is quoted as saying, “ ‘To those who sincerely believe the state budget can be balanced with no tax increase–including no forced property tax increase–I say, if you can do so without destroying our schools, hospitals and public safety, please send me your bill, so I can sign it immediately.’ “

The article concludes,

Our work, simply put, is to create the environment where leaders such as Dayton can survive and win. If the people, as Gregoire says, ‘have spoken’ and there will be no new taxes, it’s because she has not offered the right message. We need to help her with that.

“real change”…a newspaper with a message…hugmamma.

check out the “real change” website for more information, and while there, view their mission statement on youtube.

not so easy

I’m flattered that a couple of readers have suggested I write a book. As I told them, blogging brings me instant gratification. I choose a topic of pressing interest to me, I pour everything I have into it, I click “publish”, and it’s out there for everyone to read. I’m then onto another topic of concern.

I admire authors of books. They must remain focused for whatever period of time  is required to amass enough pages to put between two covers. The commitment consumes their days, weeks, months and sometimes years. They have to sell their book to an agent, a publishing company, or self-publish to have it read. Too many middlemen come between the authors, their book and their readership.

At the beginning of 2010, I polished off 5 manuscripts of varying lengths and topics. Happily sending them along to magazines I thought might be interested, I sat awaiting their responses. The first response came from an east coast magazine that I’d hoped would run my piece. Returning it, they politely informed me that their publication was not the right medium, that I should try another that was more appropriate. In retrospect I agreed. Thereafter, it became apparent that I’d also matched my remaining pieces inappropriately.

In my haste to write and be read, I failed to fully familiarize myself with the publications, before directing articles to them for consideration. Lesson learned, I hope. Several days ago I emailed the editor of our local newspaper asking if I might write “small stories.” A more common description might have been “human interest stories.” I’ve not heard back, so I’m thinking I again “missed the mark.”

I plan to get back in the “saddle,” and once again send my writing into publications. But for now I can write as much as I want, on a topic of my choosing, and put it before you immediately. No fuss, no muss.  So once again I reiterate my appreciation for your taking the time, and allowing me to write what you are reading.

from your lips to a publisher…hugmamma.

deadly dilemma

One of my favorite reads is The Wall Street Journal. “Whaaattt?” you ask. A middle-aged woman who’s been out of the work force for 24 years actually comprehends the white-collar worker’s “bible?” “No way!” you say.

I was a regular commuter to NYC for 11 years, first on the LIRR from Long Island, and then on Metro North from Connecticut. I trekked in and out with thousands of others, head down, nose to the grind. In the Big Apple I learned street smarts and corporate chicanery. I left the workforce as a paralegal for a major international airline for a better offer, motherhood. Best career move of my life. I happily set aside the Journal in favor of parenting books. More useful in my new job.

I don’t subscribe to magazines, newspapers and the like anymore. When I did, finding time to read them became another chore. Piles would accumulate, and so would my guilt. Hiding them away in cupboards and closets when company came only delayed the inevitable. Into the recycling bin they’d get tossed looking as fresh as when they were “hot off the press.”

Recently the Journal snuck into our house through the “back door”, my husband’s job. At first I thought he was bringing the office copy home to read. Eventually I noticed the paper appearing on the kitchen island when I awoke to make breakfast for myself. By then my husband had left for work. The Journal’s regular appearance made me suspicious so I confronted my husband. Not surprisingly, he assumed that I knew he had subscribed. What could I say when he explained that it was on his company’s “dime,” not ours.

Guess what? My guilt’s returned. A pile of newspapers is neatly stacked upon my desk awaiting my attention. Like I need to add to my household list of “Who Needs My Attention Now.” Does my spouse share my guilt? No. He’s perfectly content skimming the news summary on the first page. Well, it’s his loss. When I do get around to perusing the paper( in other words when I have the time), I always find little gems hidden away between the pages.

“Is There Life After Jim Thorpe For Jim Thorpe, Pa.?” is an intriguing story of 2 neighboring Pennsylvania towns bordering the Poconos, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. In 1953 the citizens promised Thorpe’s widow that they would merge, becoming a new town named “Jim Thorpe.” In exchange she had to allow his bones to be buried there.  A suitable monument would be built to honor him. 

The Chunkers (as the townsfolk are known) felt that Thorpe, the 1912 Olympic winner of both the decathlon and pentathlon for track and field, would boost their tourism. Besides, they honored him. It didn’t matter that he  had no connection to the area whatsoever, and probably never paid a visit either.

Last month, one of Thorpe’s sons filed suit to have the town “surrender his father’s body so that it can be buried with other family members near Shawnee, Okla.” The locals agree. They claim that visitors go white-water rafting, see the fall foliage, tour mansions once owned by railroad barons, among other things. But Jim Thorpe’s memorial site is not prominent among them. The situation remains unresolved.

The article started me thinking about my own burial plans, and not for the first time. Where would I want to be interred? Or would I prefer cremation? Should my remains stay put, right here where I’ve lived for the past 12 years; or should they be returned to my birthplace? Who would visit my gravesite there? Should I consider ease of visitation for my daughter or my husband, if he outlives me? Does all this really matter once I’m gone? I won’t know where I am or who’s visiting? It would be nice if someone would leave flowers for me once in a while, fragrant ones. I like them best.

I may not be famous like Jim Thorpe, but we have one thing in common. It’s uncertain where his final resting place will be, just as I’m uncertain about mine. However the difference, a biggie, is that I can choose; he can’t.

what do you think…hugmamma.