Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Here is a glorious piece of music. Enjoy it, and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice.  What a wonderful thought; darkness is now fleeing.  Redemption is upon us.
So, look at the universe.
Best, Ray





Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Global Warming Is Real Despite...

Cimg0808 The fact that we have 22”s of snow in front of our house.  It’s winter.  The skiing is great---according to son Anson and granddaughter Avery who are powder unicorns ( pigs to the rest of us).  Where do I fit into this wintry mix?
     Well ( a terrible way to start a sentence), I’ve skied since I was 3 on the hill behind our house.  I floor waxed my skis.  I climbed.  Well, many years later I still wax my own skis, but I’m afraid that I’m waiting for sunny, warmer days.   Do I feel guilty? Yes, I do. Should I?  Whatever, dude. Spring is on its way, believe me. I’m a FEBRUARY SKIER.
Wild_turkey     In the trees in front of the windows facing the mountain ( floor to ceiling glass) , sit 9 wild turkeys waiting for me to spread corn and sunflower seeds for the little birds.  They then waddle in and gobble down.  I now put seed for the little birds on an outdoor summer table.  They are all happy.  When it snows I have to re-fill all the time. Last week a young moose came by.  What bio-diversity!
     Hey, how about the Bali conference!  Cut back.  Now!!  OR …  maybe we can coax a Wormhole to drift by and we can dump all the CO2 junk into the Wormhole. It will then emerge on the other side of the space/time continuum.  Serves them right over there.
     The Christmas spirit is growing. 
~Marcello (Ray)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Let's Hear it for Books!!!!

No.1 son Ramsey who lives in Saigon teaches English to little kids, teens, and adults.  He has been  there for more than three years and loves it.  The Vietnamese are studying English because that is the global business language and Vietnam, though Communist, has embraced the market system and capitalism, as has China.  That is not surprising, the market system does work, not entirely, it needs government involvement in a Keynesian way as long as it is not too heavy, and don’t overlook that the globalized economy works on market principles.
     Ramsey has an apartment, two cats, and a passel of Vietnamese friends as well as Australian, French, andOffee_break_02 German ex-pats.  It’s a vibrant world, filled with energy and hope.  It’s a great place to be despite its recent past. The wounds are real, but life does go on and the tone is positive.
     The other day he called and said that he would like to open a used bookstore in Saigon ( HCMC) serving ex-pats, tourists, back-packers, and Vietnamese.  “Dad, people love books!!!  They’ll never go out of style!”
     Then he spoke with Shannon enlarging on the plan.  “Shan, I could run a coffee/tea house on another floor and have book discussions and poetry readings.”
     Right on, Ramsey, right on! As we used to say.  He has his finger on the pulse of the  world from a rapidly emerging developing country to the ex-pats, to tourists.  He’s rights:  BOOKS ARE GREAT!!  YOU CAN HOLD THEM. FEEL THEM.  READ THEM AND RE-READ THEM.
     So, let’s hear it for books.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stormy Weather

Not the Cole Porter type.Us_btv_closeradar_plus_usen
What a gift it was.  Heavy snow throughout New England.  Winds gusting to 60 MPH.  Airline schedules jumbled like a junk drawer in the kitchen.  We cancelled going back to Vermont on Sunday afternoon. made us do it!  And the weather being no better on Monday, even worse, we stayed two extra days in Jamaica. 
Just like the books we write, we were confronted with the choice and made the decision to stay.  It wasn't hard.  Today one brave soul in our office reported a foot of snow had fallen by 11:30 and was continuing in earnest.  YUCK!  So home today.  Cats will be glad.  We'll be glad. 
And the snow will be beautiful...stormy weather.

Friday, November 30, 2007

CARPE DIEM Seize The Day!!!!

Beach So, only three more days in Jamaica.  The wind was high this morning and the sound it made in the palms was a gentle sighing, comforting and full of promise.  I was up with first light and in the water looking at the high, whipped cream clouds tinged with light yellow and crimson.  I felt as though I was merging with the water and the clouds and the sky.  I didn’t know where I  began and where they were.  I felt that the day was actually seizing me. Soon I will be back in Vermont; and oddly I am ready for the return and the re-entry into our world of writing and publishing and sales and all the flotsam and jetsum of life and business and fretting and exulting.
     Idleness does not sit well upon my shoulders. Oh, sure, I’m not a driven obsessive; but I always have a project or two that I like to get to each and every day.  Down here in Jamaica it has been to learn 5 new words of Italian each day.  Shannon and I test each other by reading the words or phrases out loud and asking for a translation.  She is much better at it than I am.  D’accordo.
     Being in a new place allows us to take off our turtle shells and risk sharing confidences and life stories.  Often the reward is to discover how easy it is to make friends, to learn from each other, to commiserate  perhaps, and to enjoy that communion of being human and alive and engaged.
     So, carpe diem to all of us!  A piu tarde.
Marcello  ( a.k.a. Ray)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dropping Away

Jamaican_beach_palm Thanksgiving day Shannon and I boarded a plane for Jamaica.  Oldest son Ramsey who lives in Saigon, Vietnam where he teaches English was in Pnon Penh, Cambodia for the weekend; son Anson and wife Becca and two daughters, Avery (8) and Lila (5) were in Texas visiting relatives.  So, empty nest that we were, we sailed off to drop cares and fatigue and the excitement of life and business.  We have not been disappointed.
     Like coming in from the cold, we took off hats, gloves, parkas, down vests, sweaters, boots, rag socks and donned polo shirts and shorts--- no socks.  This was symbolic of all the events of the last months dropping away, no longer needed or at least for the time being. The sky seemed endless with no mountains to define its limits; the sea was its usual seductive Carribean jade.  The salt water and the gentle, heart beat rocking of the waves peeled away care even more.  Each morning at about six, or first light, I get into the sea, the primordial mother calling, and let the salt and the rocking calm me.  Five more times at least during the day I do this baptismal.
     Do care and problems vanish? Of course not; but they recede and take their proper place, secondary to family and friends and work that you love ( I love writing and the competition of business).  As Renaissance artists discovered the importance of perspective, I too am amazed at what you can see when you step back and approach the vanishing point. All too soon I will be back in the maelstrom where the view out of my office window will be a gray skies, dirty snow, and icy roads. This will be occasionally offset by brilliant days and nights, fresh snow, and the headainess of being alive.
     I’m reading a lot:  Barbara Tuchman’s BIBLE AND SWORD, James Jones’s THIN RED LINE, Berlitz guide to everyday ITALIAN, a Simon Templar Saint’s mystery from the 1930’s, and the Economist.  Music:  very little despite a bursting iPod.  The sound of the waves is more than enough, it is the heartbeat and the lungs of this planet.
     No more for today.  Be well.

Friday, November 23, 2007


So, here it is, a quote from Anotine Sainte-Exupery
Love does not exist in gazing at each other, but in looking in the same direction.
Be well. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


EVERY DAY!  I mean every day we take in oxygen we are giving thanks to the universe for the gift of being alive. I recently said to a loved one that hatred and anger have no place in our lives.  These two twins erode and destroy—they must be put in a sealed box and pushed far away from us.  Thanks fills us up and allows us to live with happiness, boredom, disappointment, excitement, sadness , and hope.

Every culture has its way of being thankful even in the midst of deprivation or tragedy. One day of thanksgiving is not enough; every day is just about right.

Here is a quote from William Sloane Coffin, Chaplain of Yale University during the Vietnam War days, civil rights activist, and practitioner of political theology.
     Socrates had it wrong; it is not the unexamined but the uncommitted life that is not worth living. Descartes too was mistaken; ‘Cogito Ergo sum’—‘I think therefore I am’? Nonsense. “Amo ergo sum’? I LOVE THEREFORE I AM.  Or with unconscious eloquence St. Paul wrote, “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
     I believe that. I believe it is better not to live than not to love.

                                          W. S. Coffin   CREDO

Friday, November 16, 2007


Humor is very hard to write. It’s easier to write about bad stuff happening. Newspapers are full of crime, tragedy, bad economic news, and politics. Rarely do you find humor unless it’s in the op-ed pages where it is more likely to be sarcasm cloaked as humor. Maureen Dowd for example. But I do get a belly laugh as she takes the politicos to task. Hold their feet to the fire, Maureen. Art Buchwald was a humorist. I miss him. P.G. Wodehouse and his Jeeves was a past master at humor and the human—ever-so-human- condition. He had a rough go being interned by the Nazis during the Second World War. Not much humor there.Fawltytowers
 Austin Powers. Now there was humor. I still laugh at Mike Meyers and his cast of characters.  
is another one of my favorites.
 Kids get humor, real humor. They can make fun of themselves and laugh, make fun of what adults see as important when it’s only pomposity dressed for dinner. Too often adults see humor as enjoying the defeats and stupid acts of others. Perhaps that type of humor is schadenfreude.
 What is funny to you? I would love to see your list of books, movies, plays (all of Noel Coward, Shakespeare etc.)
 Where am I going with this entry today? I guess I want to laugh, deep, rocking laughter not at someone else’s expense but at the joy of being alive and taking in oxygen. 
 Several summers ago I was standing on a bluff looking down at a long dock stretching out into the lake. It was a great summer’s day. An eight year old boy had been fussing with a boat tied up at the dock. Kids love boats ( I do too). He finished with his boat fussing or investigation and started down the dock to the land. I watched; he walked slowly, without undue haste or seeming purpose. Suddenly he spun up into the air, twirled around, arms flapping like a giant bird, landed and kept on walking without missing a beat. He didn’t know I was observing but as in the Heisneberg principle where the observer is ultimately part of the action, I exploded in silent laughter. His actions, his being, had touched my soul; I responded to his spontaneous joy of and for life with similar joy.
 It’s snowing and raining. I need to laugh.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Struggling Today

When I sat down to write today’s blog, I found myself up against a metaphysical wall.  I pounded on it; tried to walk around it; looked for a gate through it. No luck!  So, I went to Google and looked up Pattern Recognition, ‘ISM and ‘ATION as in Buddism and Globalisation , and Semiotics ( signs and symbols).  Well, I didn’t get very far in my search and understanding of these approaches to understanding human behavior.  I will plug on.
BUT….instead I thought you might want to look at these two:

(First seen:

(First seen here:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Snow On the Mountain

733172_lift_to_heaven It’s here again: winter.  Well, we’ll have to see.  This could be a teaser, what with global warming.  The snow line is about ¾ of the way down the mountain, and the valley itself remains warm.  The ground is soft, although there was a fairly thick skin of ice on the rain barrel by the front door.
     “What are you doing, honey?” my wife Shannon said to me this morning.
“Ah…..ah….Oh, well, I’m ummm……..trying on my ski pants.”
     “You’re just a big kid,” she said with her usual kind laugh, taking delight in my enthusiasm for the things I love to do. I’ve skied since I was three (3), hiked, climbed, and trekked in mountains all over the world.  There is just something magical about mountains and snow and clouds and sometimes being on the edge.  It’s a sauce piquant to life.
13969_skis_at_rest     The pants were tight.  Did you know that nylon shrinks? Honest, it does, I know that for a fact. That’s why the pants don’t fit.  I didn’t tell Shannon; I lied, saying, “Boy, they feel great. I’m ready.”  Actually I’m not ready.  How many turns have I done on snow?  It’s a big number.  A million? 2 Million?  I don’t know, but just one good turn, ski arcing, hands out in front, body leading and then following the turn, face feeling the sun and the cold and the wind is all I want. I still love it, but I do miss the old, long  ( 215cm) wooden skis ( Rossignol Combi/Kastle/Kneissel Kannonon) with the leather boots and the 7’ rawhide long-thongs that  bound the boot to the ski in bear traps. I loved the smell of melted wax.  Ah, well , on peut dire que mieux que hier  mais moins de demain.
     I’m looking out the window of my writing office. The snowline is retreating up the mountain.  The mountain always wins.  Maybe my ski pants will fit when the snow really comes. J’espère.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Gritty

Here’s the gen on the actual stuff about writing.  Now that you’ve got your gist, outline, character sketches, you are faced with an empty page or screen.  Don’t panic.  The book will write itself.  Just let it happen. Don’t fight it.
Mypicture Set up your writing space.  Dedicate this space to the project.  Choose a time for the writing and keep to it. Do it five days a week.  Select an output figure, i.e. number of pages daily or weekly. Stick to it.  I try for 5 new pages a day. If that’s too much, lower it.
WRITE IT DOWN!!  ALL DOWN!!!  I mean keep on writing it down. Put in everything; don’t judge it.  You can take it out, re-write later, throw it away.  It’s important to put it down and let the life of the book find its own way.
Some tips:  beware of adverbs, they are not your friends.  Put them in if you like them and then take them out.  Be ruthless.  Use a lot of dialogue; your characters will love you if you do.  They want to be heard.  Let action, dialogue, and events run the story. Don’t TELL what happened, describe the action or the interplay.  Get rid of THEN. It’s a horrible little word.
Continuity and Suspension of Disbelief. 
First, Continuity.  If you start out with a character described in a certain way, don’t change it unless there is a plot reason for the change that is apparent to the reader.  This applies to time period, place or setting, plot elements etc.
Suspension of Disbelief.  Lock the reader into some kind of reality: time, place, who was there. Then the unbelievable can happen.  I use Lonely Planet guides for foreign locations and info on food, customs, dress etc.  They are fabulous guides, the very best.

Mypicture1 Don’t wait for the inspiration god to arrive. It won’t. Writing is a job, a discipline, a task. Practice it. Struggle with it. Throw out you first 15 pages. Start over.  BUT get it done. Finish the ms.  If you hone it too much, the spirit of the characters will leave you and find someone else to hang out with.
A famous Hemingway tip:  Don’t finish the section you are working on at the end of your writing day.  Leave the finishing of the section until the next day.  You’ll have the juice to start the day with instead of facing a blank page.
Have FUN!  Get a full-time job. Learn how to juggle. Join the circus.
Good luck,

Friday, November 2, 2007

More On Writing

507097_typewriter WE LEFT OFF about writing an outline.  As I said, this is a key to the whole business, the bones, the energy, the life force.  Get this right and the rest will flow.   I guarantee it. You add plot, back story, characters, location etc.
You probably realize as you construct your outline, that characters start to pop up, pesky creatures that they are.  They tend to have a life of their own.  Although CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books use YOU as the main character, I don’t advise that except in interactive formats.  Nor do I like the first person ‘I ‘as a character.  It is too limiting, not enough room to describe the character, too personalized, too easy to get your own ego in there.  Third person works best, I think.
So, you have a gist, an outline or part of an outline, and now characters are screaming to be let out to be heard. Now write complete role profiles or descriptions of these characters. When I say complete I mean 5 or more single spaced pages for each character.  Cover the following:
1)    physical description
2)    likes and dislikes including clothes, food, music, friends, etc.
3)    back story---a short but complete bio of the character most of which will never appears in the book.
4)    Strengths and weaknesses
5)    Relationship to other characters as friends or enemies.
6)    Goals of the character in the story.
HeroThis should be fun.  I like doing it.  Character line up should probably include:  hero, two close supporters; anti-hero, two close supporters; two or more neutral characters who are unpredictable as to allegiance.
Remember, you don’t have to follow any of this.  If you don’t like this approach, do it your way.
Read Joseph Campbell’s HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES; it’s an amazing guide to most story telling.  Lucas used it in Star Wars.  Take your time reading it, then re-read it.
Patience and persistence mixed with some talent is all you need.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

So, You Want to Be a Writer

Over the years I am frequently asked questions about being a writer.  What’s it like being a writer?  How do you do it? How can I get into it? Can you make a living at it?
677452_red_pencils_14 Here goes.  Remember, these comments are my personal approach to being a writer.  There is no rule book to follow; this is just the way I do it.
1)    Did you like reading and research and writing papers in school and college?  If you did, then you have a leg up for being a writer.  You need to do a lot of reading, traveling, and research on your subject whether you are going to write a novel or non-fiction.  Surround yourself with books, pictures, anything that relates to your subject whether it be a boat model, a picture of the Himalayan mountains you trekked in, your favorite wine, a tanka from Nepal, or a plate of sand from some beach you like. Live your subject.  I don’t listen to music while writing, but you might want to find out about the music of the region, time period, style(s). Try the food, if it’s from an exotic place.  Search newspapers, Google, Amazon for articles, books, etc.  Most of all, enjoy it.
Writing2)    Fasten on an idea or concept like a leech.  Make it yours; become your subject. Try it out; taste it.  Throw it away; pick it up again.  Is it for you?  Do you really want to spend a part of your life living with this? Don’t talk too much about it to other people; but do listen to people who know something about your subject.
a)    Now choose a title for your book, and then b) write a two (2-3) sentence Gist of what the book is about. You can practice this by taking a favorite book like Hemingway’s FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and reducing it to  a 2-3 sentence gist. Remember that the Gist is NOT the story; it’s what the story is about.  It’s good practice; try several books.
Write down as many titles as you want. You can always change it. Try it on your tongue. Swirl it around like a fine vintage in a good glass.  Print it out in bold and put it in the middle of the page. Do you like it? 
529092_notes_on_wood_4 4)    Now it’s time to throw the dart.  That is if you have done all of the above (of course you can skip all of the above; it’s up to you and you alone.) MAKE AN OUTLINE. A CHAPTER BY CHAPTER OUTLINE. The description of the chapter can be as little as four or five lines or as large as you want it to be.  This process can and should take a long time—months, many months.  This is the blueprint, the DNA, the navigation chart, the heart of the matter.  Change it . Re-do it. Throw it away.  Embrace it. Deep six the whole g-damned project.  Go sell insurance.  Writing is for the birds!!!!!  Join the circus. Do anything but be a writer.
Enough for now.  This is part one of a three (3) part entry.  I hope you hate it!!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

This Just In

Just in from Jim Becket, close friend, filmmaker, writer, former world class ski racer, Harvard trained lawyer who never practiced, world traveler etc.    Thanks,  Jim 
I am sitting in my house in Ojai, California, a village some fifteen miles from the Pacific Ocean in a bowl of mountains.  The 1930’s movie Shangri La was shot here, a novel and movie about an earthly paradise.  As I look out my window it’s snowing.
Greenland2A few weeks ago I was in Greenland where it wasn’t snowing.  Global warming is a reality there.  The   current ecological devastation of our planet has drastically affected the traditional way of life of the native Inuit people.  Like other indigenous peoples, they adapted very effectively over the centuries to their environment.  In that barren ice-covered universe they lived by hunting and fishing.  But with the melting, it’s no longer safe to venture out with their dogs and sleds as some hunters never come back.  The ice sheet is pocked now with moulins which are pools in the ice which go down thousands of feet.  A lake has formed under the ice sheet which lubricates the movement of glaciers toward the sea.  The Ilillussat glacier (photo) is moving at nearly three meters a day.  Last year it moved 15 kilometers, the year before 8.  It’s believed that the iceberg which sank the Titantic came from this ice field. The Arctic temperature has risen some eight degrees Fahrenheit, the largest change on the planet.  And as the melting increases pouring water into the ocean, the sea level is rising.

Greenland3 The Inuit’s diet was essentially blubber, blubber from seals and polar bears, and that’s part of the sad story.  Toxic pollution from the developed countries to the south comes by wind and ocean current.  (They can even detect pesticide’s used in India that have ridden the world’s ocean transmission belt,)  These chemicals first affect the plankton and then the poison works its way up the food chain until when it’s in the fat of mammals like polar bears and seals, it is one million times the toxicity.  So this has had a very negative effect on public health.  Pregnant woman, nursing mothers, children, have been warned not to consume blubber which before provided a healthy diet for these people.  It’s not only disease, birth defects, but there have been observed particularly in Arctic Siberia that girl babies are being born at twice the rate of males.

The native peoples like natives elsewhere were harshly treated by their colonial masters, in this case the Danish, forcibly converted to Christianity and the rest of the familiar story.  All food now has to be imported and obesity has become an issue.  Suicide is also the highest in the world and there are those who hold that this brusque forcible change in their way of life is one of the causes.

So here are a people who had absolutely no responsibility in what has befallen them.  It has come from outside, from us.
FireBack to Ojai.  I forgot to mention it’s snowing ash.  I can’t see the mountains of this paradise as the brown smoke obscures them.  Southern California and the Western United States are on fire.   Global warming.  Here the temperature has risen one degree but that’s enough with drought and Santa Ana winds gusting up to eighty miles an hour.  All of this is unprecedented, twenty years ago a 100,000 acre fire was extraordinary.  Today 500,000 acre fires are all too common.  And in states like Arizona, it’s estimated half of the burnt areas will never come back as the heat was so intense the seeds below were destroyed.

If you don’t ‘believe’ in global warming, come here or go to Greenland.  We’ve passed what’s called the mitigation stage, it’s now adaption.  In Southern Greenland they’ll be able to grow some crops.  And the Arctic mineral rush is on as the ice recedes.  And I just learned from a Greenlander, that they’ve discovered oil in Greenland.  So that will provide more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more global warming.  But hey maybe they’ll be able to grow tomatoes, while in Southern California we can import them as we move north with our last harvested date crop.

                                                                                                                                                            ~Jim Beckett

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

China Redux

800pxchinageography Here is an exchange between my friend Jim Wallace living in Rwanda and me last week.  Please jump in with information, views, comments. There is a lot of "China bashing" going on. Recent articles in the Economist, The NYTIMES, and Foreign Affairs come to mind.  Is it sheer xenophobia on our part or is there are larger geo-political strategy at work.  Maybe it's just envy.  ~ R. A. M.

I listen to BBC and Deutsche Welle radio here in Rwanda and can't decide which is better. Both are excellent. Both have featured long reports on China with lots of interviews from Pentagon types and their counterparts in China.

Looks like the next arms race is on, just in time for Iain and your grandchildren. This cold war I doubt will turn out with an economically worn China conceding gracefully to the US, as the USSR did. Or as Britain did during and after the second world war. My impression is that the US will not go quietly into that good night. Damn.

Wowy, man, China is ramping up a military space program to trump ours. and they are preparing a modern blue water navy with carriers and nuke-armed subs.

They have 980 missile sites aimed at Taiwan should that rogue territory decide to go free. The US, as you know, is committed by treaty to defend it and when Clinton sent two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait in his tenure in the 90s, China stopped its sword rattling. Now it has missiles and modern subs in the area. It's consolidating its unwieldy army and modernizing weapons control and smart bombs for its air force.

It says its burgeoning blue-water navy is to protect its trade shipping, doesn't trust the Pax Americana with its bases in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines--or Australia and New Z .
I wouldn't either.

This mighty new kid on the block has to get respect and will do everything to get it. The US is weakened by commitments in the Middle East (Iraq and Afganistan) and by Russia's opposition to new bases and missile shields in East Europe, not to mention its natural aging process. Its top dog has yellowing teeth and some white whiskers on its muzzle.

That navy is to ensure that China's new oil depot abuilding in Pakistan's coast and China's massive trade in raw materials from Africa will have clear sailing through the Strait of Malacca, its only clear-water route to its homeland. The US will block that passage during war and China is planning a sufficient force to unblock it.

What a war, says Iain. It will immediately involve Japan, the Koreas, Australia-NZ, and Russia, besides the principals, either by treaty or because they are in the line of fire. All his thoughts, admiringly seconded by his old man.

What will start it? Not the murder of Archduke Ferdinand and his young wife this time, huh? Or the Dali Lama's spirit. It may be over Taiwan, which a powerful China, vying for top dog superpower spot, will not hesitate to do battle for. And Taiwan is not going to forget about its freedom that has carried it so far to date, a freedom it wants to authenticate more and more to judge from recent news.

If war, not in your time or mine, most likely, but who knows.
Jim   Kigali, Rwanda

What a good thoughtful piece!
Chinesedragonred      However, I remain confident that China has no grand extra-territorial schemes of a military nature up its ample sleeves. First, historically China in its five thousand plus years of history has not been adventurous on a military level---with the exception of what is now Vietnam.  Its incursion into Korea was also limited and strategic. China is huge as a land mass and in its population. It dominates the South East Asian area, and it is looked up to for guidance and aid.  China with its central leadership has embraced market capitalism  ( Deng Shao Ping) and is competing aggressively in the globalized  world economy.  Military adventurism  is simply not in their interest.   Money and competition for markets are far more powerful weapons. Their military is and has been a major part of  their need to be protective of their homeland and  to absorb the huge labor pool that otherwise would be unemployed, posing significant societal problems that could lead to internal strife and discord.
     However, the US is often bellicose, and our defensive posture re Taiwan could produce an unwanted result --  warfare.  Let us not forget Russia. It too could cause problems. We should not ignore Japan; China hasn't.  Nanking and other outrages on Mainland China in the Second World War remain as deep wounds, debts unpaid. Serendipitous events—unintended consequences—can result in war.
     You are right that China needs oil and is pursuing it in the Middle East.  Its relations with Africa are growing, although their approach seems to be more colonial than simply trade oriented. Pollution, air and water are huge realities. China is aggressively seeking help in developing alternative energies such as wind power, but its burgeoning economy is fueled by soft coal, oil and gas. The demand for motor scooters, motorcycles, and cars is growing. Global warming is exacerbated by this carbon-based fuel.
Chinesedragonyellow5large     There is a wonderful book --- one of the Chinese classics--called THREE KINGDOMS that is worth reading; it examines China during a long internal warring period. Give it a read if you can.
     As for China owning and continuing to buy US debt, I would be worried.  On one hand they, China, can't afford to dump our debt due to a weak dollar and their dependence on the US importing Chinese goods; but--- and a big BUT this is---  China probably has a strategy to slowly sever its ties to the US and establish its economic hegemony in Europe and Asia over time.  Their military is a bulwark against militarism directed at them, an issue of pride, and a necessity in this dangerous world.
     We should look at population figures for the US and China and compare energy consumption per capita.  It is measured in calories, and you will find it quite enlightening, I believe.  Google will help.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Special Feature

Eight Ways to Help Get Kids to Read, Redux
A few entries back, I posted eight quick ways to bring reading to the next generation, and now thanks to the marvels of technology, that list is available as DOWNLOADABLE PDF! Download it now, and get your kids reading.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Five Percent! That's All!

235200_ballot What I’m talking about is the presidential primary system in our country.  It gets about FIVE PERCENT of the voting population involved in selecting the candidates for nomination.  The winner of the primary in your state then gets the votes from his or her party to go to the nominating convention for the candidate for the president of the United States of America. If you get enough votes from the primaries then you get to be the candidate for your party. ONLY FIVE PERCENT OF US CAN DETERMINE WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT!!!!
Well, that’ the way it works.  Are we all apathetic?  Is the system broken.  Don’t we as a nation care?  Is it self-selecting elitism?  So, do You want to give that power to only 5 % of the people?
Who are these people who “run” for office anyway? Can’t seem to tell much from the press and the TV shows.  We should ALL go to the primaries and PUT the feet of these candidates to the fire.
P.S.  I’m one of the guilty ones! Mea Culpa!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stick Season

Rain IT RAINED HARD THE OTHER DAY---FOR MANY HOURS.  The weather turned sharply cold, and the wind and rain stripped the trees. The ground is now a carpet of reds and yellows and browns.  Under the white pines there is a golden carpet of pine needles.  The clouds are angry and fast moving.  There is the sound of chain saws and the smell of wood smoke. I haven’t given up wearing shorts –not until snow stays on the ground.  But a heavy sweater is a comfort. 
     There is something special about fall—darkness comes early, a fire in the fireplace, butternut squash roasted with maple syrup, cheese made by local farmers. It’s early days yet. Winter will be long as it always is, but global warming is changing things.  We get snow later, the frost isn’t that deep in the ground, the big lake doesn’t always freeze over.  Some birds that used to leave winter over.
     How much of earth warming is our own fault?  Lots, I think.  Can it be stopped?  I hope.  Will we do it?  Will China and India?  Not unless we lead the way.  Thank you Al gore. If only…………

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poetry From Afar

TWO FRIENDS OF MINE LIVE IN AFRICA.  Jim Wallace and his son Iain, 13 years old, live in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rwmap They have been there since May. Jim works teaching English, and Iain goes to the local school. They live with a Rwandan family and share the life of the Rwandans.  This is a country with a tragic history of bloody, genocidal conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis, two different tribes who fell upon each other with savagery.  Now this amazing country is healing these devastating wounds and building a strong economy   based on the rule of law and the freedom of the press and speech.  Amazingly, the foreign aid money that goes to Rwanda is actually spent on the programs for which it is intended.  That is rare in developing countries.  I applaud their  bravery to give up a comfortable life in Vermont and give of themselves to these Rwandan people. 
Iain wrote two poems which he sent to me, and I am posting them on my blog because they are so good!  I suggest that you do a Google or Wikipedia search for Rwanda and then go to GoogleEarth to look at the country.  Put on your seven league boots and travel.

Arctic to Tropic
by Iain Wallace

Soft snow falls lightly. My cheeks a rosy red. Pines, burdened with the evermore intense weight of snow on their branches. Weighing, testing, to see how strong they really are. Near frozen on these frigid alpine slopes. I walk putting one foot in front of the other, feeling my frostbitten toes more and more painfully with each step, effort, and breath.
I look down the steep mountain slope, coated with a taiga to the very bottom, sliced through by an icy white river.
Sweat, pouring, soaking my shirt. Heat, humidity. Intense, overwhelming. A sheer intensity of deep dark green. Trees rising from the soily floor, touching the sky. The constant hum of cicadas. A bird chirping, through the thick tropical haze. I hear the constant pitter patter of rain, no, the constant deafening sound of rain. I see huge roots have been wrenched from their earthy home by merciless storms.
"I wrote these poems in French class and revised them in math and physics." 
                                ~Iain Wallace, Kigali, Rwanda   10.10.07

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Eight Ways To Help Kids Read

Eight Ways To Help Kids Read

Because Choose Your Own Adventure has helped so many kids learn to read, I am often asked for my list of reading tips.  I thought I would devote today's blog to the topic.  Here's my list:
Eight Ways to Help Kids CHOOSE to Read
Routine: Make reading out loud to your children a part of every day life. Read together as part of your bedtime routine and other quiet, family times.

xpeditions: Go to the bookstore and library just for fun. Let your kids pick out their own books or other reading choices. Suggest a section of the library they’ve never used before.

Act on it: Be a reader yourself. Let your kids see you reading. Show them the ways in which reading is an important part of your life. Keep books, magazines and newspapers all over your house.

Discuss what you read: Talking about reading helps kids remember the ideas and events found while reading and connect them to their own lives.
Make up word games: Can you rhyme every sentence? Can you answer every question with a question? Use written clues for treasure hunts. Write secret notes. Play with language in conversation and in writing.
Options: Let kids choose to read without judging their choices, even comic books.
Reorganize: Make your bookshelves bigger and better than your television set. Put books in every room—even the bathroom.
Explore: Discover new authors and new kinds of reading with your kids. Track down poems, hunt for historical novels, seize science fiction. There’s a whole world of important ideas out there. Go for it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

YOU and the Secret Knowledge

819849_gossipI hope that you realize just how important you and what you are doing is.  Kids are the future of our world, an obvious statement but never more true.  You are their guide, and you are the transmitter of the Secret Knowledge.
What? you might ask is the Secret Knowledge?  It is everything that we have learned on this planet: how to make fire, what herbs to eat and what plants are poisonous, how to hunt, and how to plant, and how to speak and write, and count.  How to develop a system of laws, how to write poetry, and create an algorithm; how to promote health, and how to take care of our planet.
This Secret Knowledge is what you pass on to kids every day that you are in the classroom or at home and with every idea that you share with them. You are both custodians and advance guards of the Secret Knowledge.
614682_90998327_2 As a kids’ author I am careful never to write down to kids them. I make some of the tools for you to help them develop one of the most powerful of all skills: reading and comprehension.   I say one advisedly: the others of course are writing and arithmetic.  These are the fabled Three R’s.  Without them civilization would retreat into a dark and even more confused time.
So, how and where? you ask, does CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE® play a role in this offering of the Secret Knowledge?
These books constitute a stealth reading development program utilizing the power of game theory where role-playing and decision making combine to active involvement and participation.
Kids read these CHOOSE books because THEY are the hero of the story, the pilot in command, the surgeon at the operating table, the famous mountain climber, detective, scientist. They count!  Their individual choices lead to different endings--- as many as 120 permutations in each book.   Imagination is unleashed, ego becomes involved, participation is unavoidable.
TheendWhen you ask your class how many have read the book ( a CHOOSE book) you will be amazed at how many hands shoot up.  Remember, a kid can get to THE END in just 8 or 10 pages.  Then ask WHY YOU made a certain decision. For example in ESCAPE, a book about the conflict between fascist forces and rebels fighting for democracy YOU the reader are the leader of a team deep in enemy territory.  Here is an excerpt:
At that very moment there is a knock at the door—a loud knock! Mimla raises a finger to her lips. Haven cringes in the corner. Everyone looks at YOU.
         If you tell them to run for it through the back door of the house, turn to page 40.
         If you tell them to prepare to defend themselves, turn to page 29.
Now the discussion begins.  These are real issues, real decisions, but without the risks of the real world.  This is role-playing ; this is game theory at work ; this is simulation.  It is values clarification.  It is gut wrenching humanness at.  It is not movies , nor TV, nor computer games. It is people  -- kids and teachers - reaching out and testing and trying and thinking and deciding.  CHOOSE books are an active experience.
768110_library On top of all this most books have substantive information about the world. It is limited, allowing adventure to drive the story, but it can stimulate kids to follow up on the subjects.  MYSTERY OF THE MAYA  talks about the rapid and mysterious decline of the once-brilliant Mayan civilization.  THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN give a glimpse into the worlds highest mountains and their glaciers as well as the Buddhist culture of Nepal.  The MYSTERY of URA SENKE (renamed CUP OF DEATH) puts a spotlight on a culture where a tea ceremony is very important. TROUBLE ON PLANET EARTH deals with the limits of fossil fuel.  Driven by adventure, these CHOOSE books are also full of information.
Kids in grades 4-7 are the perfect age for these adventures.  These kids are on the threshold of adolescence, and they are anxious to be treated as adults.   CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE does just that.
So, enjoy the books.  The kids will.  Don’t forget YOU are the keepers of the Secret Knowledge.
R. A Montgomery aka Ray

Monday, October 1, 2007

Have You Ever Studied Latin?

I did in school years ago.
Puella, puellae --  Girl , girls Romantombstone
Hoc facto --- this having been done  (ablative absolute—what is an ablative absolute?)
Alia iacta est --- The die is cast –Caesar at the Rubicon
Et Tu Brute?  --  Oh, what fateful words
They say it’s a dead language; did you know that there are many languages today that are either dead or dying?  English as a lingua franca seems to be taking over.
What’s in a language?  The images of past and present with a  hope towards the future. The beauty or tragedy of a culture and its peoples.
Rhythm, sounds, passion, emotion.  Words can be like drum beats.  They can be like arrows.  They can be like gifts.
So, thank you Latinum.  In omnia paratus.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cat Tales

731908_76331276 WHO DOESN’T HAVE THEM?  Cat tales I mean.  If you love/hate/like/put up with/or are stuck with a cat or cats this is for you. If you are an only-dog-lover, then skip this. It won’t make any sense to you.  Oh, by the way, I LOVE dogs too; we travel tooo much to have dogs.  Cats are glad when we are gone, they just pretend they aren’t with all the puking and ignoring when you get back. So: cat tales.
We had a cat named Napoleon, a big, orange tiger, male and sweet as can be.  For 11 years he was the best companion a person could have; always ready for a snug.  Smart as a a whip  ( BTW, are whips smart? I haven’t met a smart one yet.)He took sick one day and soon had  paralysis of the rear legs.  He was one hurting cat.  We did everything we could, massaged him, held him, talked with him, the works.  Just no good. The vet did his best as well.  It was a blocked iliac artery probably from feline leukemia.
831286_83976917     I would take him out onto the lawn and lay down petting him in the sun.  He couldn’t move much, but he would nose out what looked like different grasses and little plants.  He would look at me and then at the grass or plant and nibble them. Was he teaching me a cat’s pharmacopeia? 
     We live in the country surrounded by fields and forests. You don’t have to be afraid of cars most of the time. One day we were out on the grass and  I went into the house for a glass of water leaving Poleon lying there. When I came back I saw Poleon up on his legs, sun shining on his orange fur making it look golden.  He was like a lion, proud, powerful, fully alive.  He looked at me for a moment and then was gone into the thick field grass.
     “Stop!” I shouted, but he was moving fast.  How could he?  He was mostly paralyzed from the waist down?  But there he was headed for the edge of the field where there was an old stone wall. He was dragging his hind legs.
     A fierce tangle of bushes enveloped the wall, and Poleon literally disappeared into the maze.  Gone!  No answer to my calls.  Gone!
     It was his last fierce act of pride and life force.  He wanted to go off and die by himself with his own pride and feelings.
     My wife Shannon and I combed the fields and the bush-covered wall for the rest of the day calling for him. We continued our search into the dark.
     No luck.
     That night I got up about every two hours and with a flashlight went out trying to find and comfort Poleon.  Nothing.
     Well, three pretty sad days went by.  No sign of him.  He wanted to go off to die.
     Early evening of the third day, we were coming back to the house from some errand.  There is a large water barrel in the garden by the front door.  We heard a rumbling sound, low, muted but definitely a rumbling.
     It was Poleon lying by the cool of the barrel purring and purring. His eyes were bright and clear.  His rear legs were worn down to the muscles---all fur and top skin layer gone.  He must have dragged himself for miles, perhaps searching for some herb he wanted, or a special place to die, or for some reason we as humans will never know.
     But he was alive!!!
     What a celebration! A friend helped by massaging him and changing his leg bandages every day for a month and a half (our loved Mikey Levengood); the vet worked on him; and we gave him as much as we could of love and admiration.
     After two months the paralysis left and he walked again.  He never ran very much after that; but he lived for a year and a half, a good, strong life.
     Good on him.  What a cat.  He had a big, bushy tail.
  10. IF ALL FAILS, GET A DOG!!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bug Dancing

724830_butterfly_2 IT’S LATE AFTERNOON AND THE SUN IS SLINKING BEHIND THE MOUNTAINS.  Purple and green-black are the dominant colors beneath the sky.  But against the last slanting light dance a ballet corps of flying things.  Some are of impossible design making you wonder about the richness of our world.  Others are standard fluttering, hovering creatures ( bugs if you wish ) who are doing some last dance before the cold makes them cease.
       Is this dance of celebration?  Is it a last desperate mating ritual  to assure that next year the dance will resume, only with different players?
    I love this dance and watch until the sun is gone and the small creatures settle in the field.  What is their life span?  Will I see them tomorrow or not.  The question in itself is unimportant. I want no Faustian bargain.
     It gets cold fast without the sun, and I retreat inside.
Post Modernism. I’m back at my old shibboleth; can’t seem to let it go.  I guess I’m looking for easy answers to the plight I see worldwide.  If there are no answers to why and how we got to where we are  ----  70 plus armed conflicts right now, two nasty wars,  70% of earth’s population in poverty, global warming exacerbated by our species ----then we might as well just continue on our path.  Nothing to stop us.  At least that seems to be what post modernism means to me.  A culture that sees no moral absolutes, an anything goes philosophy, a get- it- while- you- can approach.  I’m being simplistic, but a head-long dash to self aggrandizement whether it be politicians, business  people, lawyers,  or just anyone who plays a zero sum game and sees no fault in that is playing a fool’s hand in a fool’s game.  For our species, it might be terminal.
That’s why I take pleasure in bug dancing.   Hint: look up modernism and post modernism on Wikipedia.  Look up Milton Friedman ( he had it wrong ) and J.K. Galbraith (he had it right ).
Not many people read my blog, so I can skate out onto this thin lake covering without too much worry.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Three Points of Contact

My love of mountains began when I was a kid.  There was a hill in our backyard, and I had a pair of skis.  Up and down, up and down I went, until I got older and graduated to the big hill on the golf course. Up and down again until I found Vermont and lift served skiing at Stowe and then at MAD RIVER GLEN.  Mad River became like home to me as it has done to so many.  It’s about mountains and the whole ethos of mountain life:  independence, reliability, planned risk-taking , and the glory of being alive on this fabulous spinning orb.
800pxtuckermanravineskiing_2I spread out to Mt. Washington and Tuckerman’s Ravine.  Again, you have to climb to ski.  It’s not a picnic, and it can be very dangerous:  falling ice, horrendous winds, avalanches, bergschrunds, whiteouts. It’s in New England, not far from Boston, and people often don’t think these kinds of conditions are there.  But they are. You are lucky if you find mountaineers who will share some of their knowledge with you.  I did.
Never go faster than your slowest person; plan; retreat if necessary.
In college I got to the alps and a mountaineering school in Switzerland in the small village of Rosenlaui in the Bernese Oberland. Towering mountains, glaciers ( now a lot of them are greatly diminished due to global warming) and European climbers.  Our guide was a Swiss named Fritz Imja and to this day his kind instruction, advice, and friendship have been a constant gift.  I’ll save some of the stories for another time, but here is one.
Thunersee.jpgThere were eight of us, two three person ropes and one two person rope.  We were on a nearly vertical face. I was in the middle of a three man rope.  Fritz was the last man on the rope.  I froze, clinging to the face like moss.  I couldn’t move.
Fritz said, “It’s OK, rest.  Then lean back, let your feet take hold on the rock.  Always three points of contact, two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand.  You’ll be fine.  It’s a great day.”
And I was.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

All The Tea...


                                …..from the play PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward.
Five thousand years of history.  What a magnificent culture. What a history. What art, poetry, philosophy, science.  Of course this was punctuated by politics and wars.
The T’ang Dynasty ( 618-907 ) was amazing for its unification, culture, peacefulness, fairness in governance.  Read some T’ang poetry and you will be amazed at how modern it is. Here is a sample:
It was their golden age.
China has come together and fallen apart many times.  Its land mass is so huge, its population always growing, and its 3 regions so diverse from wind blown steppes to the central loess plateau to the southern rice area this amazing land has been unified and then torn apart by war lords, emperors or invaders only to repeat the process.  And yet, it endures. Perhaps ancestor worship connects the past with the present and the present with the future giving a continuum that other cultures don’t have. Mao tried to wipe that continuity out in his disastrous Cultural Revolution which wasn’t cultural and wasn’t a revolution—it was a slaughter. Could it come apart again?
With 1.2 billion people today, we are seeing a huge China that embraces the modern world with a passion merging central communist control with market capitalism ---- and they are doing damned well.
China historically has not been militarily hegemonistic , its land mass and population has been too big.  But it now dominates the South East Asian area.  Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia all look to China for guidance and for support.  China has reached out to Africa as well.  It is not always humanistic, sometimes far from it, but never the less, China is the dominant player in a major part of the world and is growing.  Predictions are that its economy will be the world’s biggest in less than 20 years. It need not wage military war; economic competition is more than sufficient to gain suzerainty over much of the world.
Watch out USA, they own a huge amount of our debt---debt that pays for our unbalanced budgets and items like Iraq.  They might stop buying to let us afford our excesses.  They might even sell off our debt.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flights of Fancy

778519_75718122 A great blue heron flew by my house this morning about 6:30; it was misty and the mountains were hidden in clouds.  The heron had its legs out straight and kept its wings moving in a slow, powerful cadence. I knew where it was going---fishing in the river down in the valley.  Later it would turn to the west and head for a island on Lake Champlain where there is a long-standing colony of herons.  They are wonderful creatures, and I always feel that it is a good thing to see them.    
     Across the valley from out house there is a gap or pass in the mountains. For reasons we will not understand migrating birds  use that pass as a sign post on their route to warmer areas for the winter.  Crows in huge numbers, sometimes filling old maple trees like black leaves, gather before going over the pass.  Smaller birds seem to just head for the pass.  Hawks go singly, or so it seems.  It’s a wonderful circus.  You can climb up to a lookout spot not far from the pass and watch these birds coming in ones and twos and threes and twenties. Thousands of them will go through that pass over the next several weeks.
     Once through the pass they fly on about half a mile and then suddenly hook left or south.  Is there a sign post out there?  Do their pineal glands respond to some deep magnetic field?  What do they know that we don’t know?  It makes me feel connected, not disconnected.  As a species we simply aren’t that smart.
    I’d like to be a bird—I think; but here I am and no wishing is going to change it.
Movie Review  ---  The Bourne Ultimatum
Well, well, well, three holes in the ground.  Matt Damon is always good, but this isn’t a film.  This is a high testosterone car chase without stop with gratuitous violence slathered on to break up the tire squeals and clanging metal crunches.  Whoop-dee-do!
Damon is better than this.  But maybe this is all we want.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What a Stupid War

Onijingasa6     No, I’m not just talking about Iraq, I’m talking about war in general  --- really general. War between people, peoples, companies, ‘ismsBellicosity. What a word. Do we as a species love conflict?  Is that the way we succeeded with limited physical talents but brains that seem to expand?  Is male dominated fighting the ultimate crisis for us?
     Did you know that our total foreign aid budget for the year is around 17 billion dollars? 17 billion. 
     How much do we spend on Iraq? 400 billion and counting.  Some say it’s 9 billion dollars per month. Come on, this is simple; this war at the very least is not cost effective.  We are blowing up people left and right. We are destroying culture; we are encouraging peoples all over the world to hate us.
     Now, how about a different approach:  why not take some of the war spending and do health, education, and job training in the Middle East and elsewhere. 
      Just take 10% of what we have spent so far on the Iraq war. Can you imagine what that could have done or could now do?  Let’s think big, not small. Let’s go beyond conflict.
Spitfire_2      This is not about Pollyanna, this is about common sense.  But business schools don’t teach common sense, they teach the zero sum game and profit maximization.  After all some people ( not many) make fortunes off war. War works for some people. These people have power.
     Certainly we have to be prepared to defend ourselves; it would be irresponsible to be totally pacifist. 
     Now, how about the fact that 70% of the Earth’s population lives in poverty.  There can be turn-arounds, just look at India and China. I’m not a bleeding heart liberal, but let’s fight poverty and ignorance, let’s get kids to read and write, let’s stop just blowing things up.
~ Ray

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Seeds & Cabbages & Kings

819205_corn “How did the corn get to be what it is, Chini?” Lila aged 5 asked holding up an ear of corn.
     “Well, it grew,” I answered (another nickname for me is Chini).
      The inevitable came.
      So, that began a discussion of seeds and growth and minerals and water and nutrients and life force and energy.  When we got home, we sat at our outdoor table and shucked the corn for dinner.  I big flower garden surrounds the terrace, so I got up from the shucking and gathered several different seed pods.
     “Look, see these?” I asked and then broke them open. Each different type of flower produces a uniquely designed seed pod that offers up anywhere from a few large seeds to lots of tiny ones. Lila’s eyes widened and so too did Avery’s (aged 8).
     We talked about how life was stored in the seeds and how when the seeds got soaked in water and planted in earth  --- a mixture of ground up rocks and natural mulch from vegetation --- the seeds can release their stored life force and grow.
Dsc_0691_2     I am still amazed at this huge and wonderful mystery and take great pleasure in plants of all kinds from weeds to carrots to rice to strawberries.  The seeds are so varied, the plants are so varied, and yet the energy to grow to prosper is the same.
     Avery then and there decided to become a botanist.  She told Shannon that she would love to live in the jungle, thought a bit, and opined as how she would miss skiing.  Ah, to be 8 with such huge decisions to make.
     Lila came to me the next day.  She had gathered many pods, emptied them, sorted them,  and began to plant them.  Some she planted in the earth of the garden; others she put in an old Frisbee that she filled with earth and put on a rock in the field in front of our house.
     “Don’t forget the water,” I said.
      “I won’t,” she replied.  She didn’t.
      I hope they grow, but cold weather is coming.
If you want to know about the cabbages and kings, you’ll have to wait.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Letter

Hey Everyone,
I will be out of town for the Labor Day weekend, which means probably a late blog on Tuesday.
Also, I got a letter last week that was so wonderful I wanted to share it.  I took out the names but here it is:
Dear Mr. Montgomery,

It was my hope to share with you a brief story.  During my childhood, I was
only a modest reader.  There was the desire to read, but I found that if I
wasn't hooked immediately into the story, then all was lost.

My eight year old son, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem.

The other day I was pulling down boxes from storage and I came across the
collection of CYOA books from my youth.  I recalled how these books helped
me through that time, by engrossing me through interaction in the storyline.

I decided to try the same process with my son.  As we've read together,
to my delight, it seems to be working.  I've recounted to him my love for
these books and we decided to look on the Internet and found, to my
surprise, you are a Vermont resident as well!

So please accept my thanks, not just for your influence in my desire to read
(and write), but my son's as well.  As a parent this has been a blessing.

Thank you.

All the best,
Thank you as well

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ockham's Razor At Work

Vote Glass is both very strong and very fragile.  So is democracy.  We must never forget to defend democracy every day. I don’t mean with wars;  I mean with holding the feet to the fire of those elected officials who help run our country for us.  Remember, we don’t work for them.  They work for us.  Democracy is a living thing.
Do you know what Ockham’s Razor is or means?   In general it means: the simplest explanation tends to be the right one . (Thank you Wikipedia  -- my constant companion.)  So, don’t let the lawyers and the politicians fool you by saying, “We know more than you, so don’t question our decisions.”  When you hear that kind of approach, hold their feet even closer to the fire.
Look up the term democracy.  Look up the isms that are all around us. Our system works well; but it is fragile.
Without being too paranoid, remember this: one must walk with the perpetual qui vive of a paratrooper deep in enemy territory.
Oh, and as my old friend Bill Coffin said, “Always a patriot; never a nationalist.”  Think on that.