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Every Halloween I get a bunch of candy and only a few kids knock on my door. That’s probably a good thing because our Condo Association has a Halloween party for children.

How many trick or treators do you get?

For your Halloween listen pleasure(?), the freakiest singer/screamer in the business, Screaming Jay Hawkins – “I Put A Spell On You”

One of my favorite songs of all time, not just Halloween – Warren Zevon, “Warewolves of London”.
(What hair I do have left is perfect, there just isn’t much of it.)

What is favorite Halloween music?

I look frightening enough just as I am.  As a kid I always went trick or treating as a cowboy.

What is you favorite Halloween costume?

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(Sorry for the political theme today)

How I rate the politicians who have been in office during my lifetime.  My intent is to keep this simple.

 
1) Favorite Politicians:
 
Sen Barry Goldwater – Conservative, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Goldwater
 
Quotes:
 
“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
 
“Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.”
 
“If everybody in this town connected with politics had to leave town because of chasing women and drinking, you would have no government.”
 
Sen Hubert Humphrey – Liberal, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_H._Humphrey
 
Quotes:
 
“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”
 
“There are incalculable resources in the human spirit, once it has been set free.”
 
“We believe that to err is human. To blame it on someone else is politics.”
 
“Freedom is the most contagious virus known to man.”
 
2) Least Favorite:
 
 
3) Most Competent President:
 
 
4) Least Competent President:
 
(As much as I respect the guy as a man)
 
5) Visionary Domestic Policy:
 
 
6) Visionary Foreign Policy:
 
(As much as I hate the bastard)
 
What is you list like?
 
 
 

What does freedom mean to you?

America is a great land of opportunity.  We have religious freedom and every citzen does now have the opportunity to vote.

In my lifetime we have come a long way.  An American of African descent may soon be President.  Gov. Palin is a Vice-Presidential nominee.  A Muslim was elected to Congress, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellson.  We have three gay congressmen and even one Atheist, Pete Stark of California.

I don’t think however we can gauge freedom solely by looking at mainstream America, the malls, the factories, the farms.  We also need to look at the prison rehabilitation centers, the foster care system, the homeless.  For me one of the best song about the this side of freedom is found in Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom”.  We still a have ways to go.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing

Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Communites are having success in dealing with street crime.  One program that is working in Chicago is CeaseFire.  A US Justice Department study found that over a three year period shootings dropped 41%-71% in CeaseFire zones. “Helped high-risk gang-involved clients of which:

87% got help getting a job

85% got help getting a high school diploma or GED

99% got help leaving a gang

“In every program are there was a substantial decline in the median density of shootings following the introduction of CeaseFire.”

 From the CeaseFire site:

 http://ceasefirechicago.org/

 The Chicago Project has designed and tested a new intervention — CeaseFire — that approaches violence in a fundamentally different way than other violence reduction efforts. CeaseFire works with community-based organizations and focuses on street-level outreach, conflict mediation, and the changing of community norms to reduce violence, particularly shootings.

 CeaseFire relies on highly trained outreach workers and violence interrupters, faith leaders, and other community leaders to intervene in conflicts, or potential conflicts, and promote alternatives to violence.

 CeaseFire also involves cooperation with police and it depends heavily on a strong public education campaign to instill in people the message that shootings and violence are not acceptable. Finally, it calls for the strengthening of communities so they have the capacity to exercise informal social control and to mobilize forces — from businesses to faith leaders, residents and others — so they all work in concert to reverse the epidemic of violence that has been with us for too long.

I never stayed overnight in the pumpkin patch like Linus waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” but I have been to many state fairs with their “Largest Pumpkin” contest, like the one in the picture above.

I remember my grandfather Hoffman taking me and my sister Lynn to the Danbury Fair.  One year me and Lynn won a photo contest as the “Best Young Cowboy and Cowgirl”.  Brothers and sisters had their picture taken wearing cowboy hats, with our “six-shooters” drawn and blazing.  Since Hopalong Cassidy was my boyhood idol I had a lot of practise with my six-shooter.

Sadly the Danbury Fair has been plowed over and is now the site of the Danbury Mall.  Cowboys, pumpkins and apple pie contest replaced by designer clothing stores.

When was the last time you went to a Fair?  Any fond memories you would like to share?  Do you plan to go to a Fair this year?

From an article about the pumpkin pictured above by Cynthia Anderson of the Christian Science Monitor

http://features.csmonitor.com/backstory/2008/10/21/one-couple%e2%80%99s-attempt-to-win-a-giant-pumpkin-competition/

“In simpler times, people held fairs to get together and show off the livestock they’d raised and the vegetables they’d grown. In Fryeburg, they still do.”

“For Steve and Sally Swenson, it comes down to a giant Atlantic pumpkin named Daisy. She – pumpkins are always female – sits in a picket fence enclosure just inside the agricultural exhibition hall, not far from Old McDonald’s petting barn and the walk-away sundae booth. At 375 pounds, Daisy commands her share of attention from the fairgoers who mill around taking in the displays of baked goods and knitwear.”

“Recently, two days before Fryeburg began, the Swensons held a “fairwell” party for Daisy and 150 guests in the backyard of their home in North Conway, N.H. The guest of honor – a resplendent orange orb surrounded by 400 square feet of foliage – was serenaded by a women’s barbershop quartet (the Pumpkinettes) and a men’s choir (the Pumpkin Heads).”

“Neighbors fed and watered Daisy while the Swensons were away on vacation. Other friends served as “medical” consultants. At the party, Steve Swenson recounted a conversation between Sally and one of them.

“She told him, ‘Daisy’s oozing from her bellybutton.’ ” He replied that she had her “anatomy all wrong:” The problem was with Daisy’s backside.”

“2008 was a tough year for pumpkins. All over New England, gourd-type vegetables cracked, burst, and popped after having taken in too much water during an unusually wet summer. Those that made it were smaller than average, often soft or affected by fungus.

Daisy was among the fortunate. She survived the ooze and the weather and woodchucks – mainly through luck and the ministrations of the Swensons, who have been growing Atlantic giants for 10 years and last year won second prize for their entry in the Fryeburg Fair.

In March, the Swensons singled out Daisy from a number of plants. As an only seedling, she was cosseted – fed Miracle Gro, manure tea, and extra potassium along with, every morning, coffee grounds. The grounds, Steve Swenson is convinced, are responsible for her deep, rich color.

She was covered by night and shaded by day with a tarp. Her taproots were severed – carefully, carefully – because taproots can pull down the stem and crack it.

At the proper time, she was hand-pollinated with a Q-tip. “You don’t leave it up to the bees because they could cross-pollinate with a squash,” says Steve Swenson. He and Sally chose “the best-looking male and female,” which is determined by such things as petal vigor and stem angle. Afterwards the female was closed off with a twist-tie so no bees could get to her.

“Like her predecessors – Gladys, Bertha, and Agnes – Daisy was named “after she began to develop personality,” says Sally Swenson. In this case, the nascent pumpkin was perfectly round, with a short stem and covered with downy hairs. “She was perky and bubbly, and we knew she’d be good-looking.”

“Daisy wound up with the red ribbon and a $30 premium. The Swensons were disappointed but mindful of not communicating that to their pumpkin. “We told her there’s nothing wrong with being No. 2,” says Sally Swenson. “And she was the most beautiful.

I was going to write a post today, but my computer was “infected” with a virus, something called Trojan.Vundo.  I thought my Norton Anti-Virus had deleted it but it keep reappearing every time I went online. 

Norton Tech Support claimed they could zap it but wanted $100, and to “take control” of my system somehow over the phone lines.  I did a Google search and found a couple of people who used Webroot’s Spy Sweeper to get rid of this virus.  I down loaded that anti-spyware, for $39, and that found 59 “spy cookies” that the Norton program had missed.  I quarantined them all and that has seemed to do the trick.

I now have two anti-virus programs on my computer.  If the virus does come back, and I have to pay another $100 to get rid of it, you might find my computer on the front lawn.  I would be pulling my hair out if I had any.  🙂

Man Asking For Spare Change

Man Asking For Spare Change

There But For Fortune – Joan Baez

 

The True Meaning Of Love

The True Meaning Of Love

There Is Love – Pauk Stookey

 

Special Moments

Special Moments

(I haven’t figured out how to play songs directly from links so I have to use the Grooveshark player, which is free)
What song do you think best describes the mood you are in right now?

I thought I’d end the week with some beautiful songs to lift our spirits.  Have a great weekend everyone.

You Raise Me Up – Celtic Women

We Shall Overcome – Joan Baez (At Woodstock)

This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie

Just a few Irish musicians to start the day.

The Chieftains & Jean Butler

 

For my late aunt Nancy – A Neansi Mhile Gra (Nancy My Great Love) – Aoife Ni Fheannaigh

Danu Donegal’s reels

Cancer takes the life from our bodies.  Poverty kills the spirit and hope that nourishes our dreams.   If allowed to spread it’s hopelessness and despair poverty can kill the heart of any society just as effective as cancer can kill our bodies.
 
There is no need to look at all the facts and statistics to gauge the spread of poverty, just look into the eyes of the far too many undernourished, homeless people we can find on a street corner in any city.  Refugee camps litter the map of the earth.  They represents the dark spots in the soul of our world.
 
My country, America, may be the most financially powerful country that has ever existed, with an economy measured in the trillions of dollars.  Poverty exist in America not because we lack the resources it’s that we lack the will to do enough about it. 
 
We walk by the homeless and pretend they don’t exist.  In American living in poverty means you are invisible.  When we become immune to the face of poverty it shows of much our hearts have hardened against human suffering.  It shows how dark our nations soul can become.  We spend a trillions dollars on cars, TV sets and designer clothes.  We don’t spend a trillion dollars to feed the malnourished or help the homeless put a roof over their heads 
 
There are many volunteers, and charitiable organizations, trying to help those who have difficulty putting a roof over their head, and food on the table.  I can’t think of anything that can lift a persons spirit more then to help someone.  Every time we help someone overcome poverty it helps lift our nation’s, our world’s, spirit a little higher.
 
If we trace back the family history of every American there is a good chance we will find an ancestor who lived in poverty.  Anyone one of us could lose our house and our job from a natural, or financial, disaster. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Poverty can be overcome.  There are enough success stories to prove this.  It seems to me however that increasingly poverty is becoming an acceptable part of our landscape.  We are learning to close our eyes to it.  If we continue to close our eyes to this cancer it will spread until it extinguishes the spirit that keeps the lifeblood of nation’s heart pumping.
 
We need to understand that when we look into the eyes of the poverty stricken, tomorrow that could be us.
 
Some resources:
 
Moving Up – USA
 
Bread Of The World
 
Good Search
 
World Food Program

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