Category Archives: News

The Lesson from Cuba

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

My son, Steve, along with his girlfriend, sister, and best friend, all returned from Cuba three days ago. He said that the trip was life-changing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, all four suffered “Montezuma’s Revenge”, and were violently ill the last day and are still sick. Imagine a 12-hour flight while being sick from both ends?

It’s worth noting here that it hurt my feelings that I wasn’t invited. He’d told me that I’m not physically strong enough to endure 15 hours a day hiking and walking. When he shared the horrific illnesses they all suffered, my exclusion from this adventure quickly felt like dodging a cannon ball.

Steve and his girlfriend, Lani, went to Cuba to film an episode for their hopefully upcoming reality cable series. My daughter graduated with her BSN a month ago, so this was his graduation gift to her.

He said that he’s never met a more loving, kind, happy population in his life. He joined a little band on the street and played guitar with them as they sang and danced.  He told me that Cuba doesn’t have toilet paper or even toilet lids!  He shared the surreal beauty of the architecture, plant like, and generosity of the Cuban people.  I asked how they could be so happy given that they live under a dictatorship. He replied; “You wouldn’t know it. In fact, these people are far happier under a dictatorship than we are under a democracy.”

This leads me to the most “life-changing” part of his adventure. He spoke of meeting people from every corner of the world and, without exception, the very first thing out of their mouths was; “Why did you put a man like Trump in office?” Every single one. They shared how Trump’s impact on their own country has been devastating because it’s unleashed extremists, racists, bigots to gain traction and threatens to endanger their own democracies. Steve and the others were stunned by learning how foreigners around the globe are now viewing the United States, and how our president has the power to damage so many nations abroad. “It’s like a cancer, Mom”.

He, Lani, Mary, and Sully found themselves profusely apologizing and saying, “This is not who we are as a people – please know this”. It’s a very sad day when my own children have to apologize for being Americans.

What do you think kids studying this era in 20 years from now will be reading?

Good Value

An update from my home town: The Rock County Star Herald reported last week that the arts, defined as the Tri-State Band Festival, the new Rock County Historical Society Museum, the Herreid War Museum, the Brandenburg Art Gallery, the Green Earth Players (a local acting company that performs at the historic Palace Theatre), the Beer Fest, and various performances at the high school and at other venues, brought $2,000,000 into Luverne’s economy last year. I think that is pretty remarkable for a town of 4500 people so far from the Twin Cities.

If the arts can have such a big economic impact, why are they often viewed as expendable?  How have the arts impacted your life? What good news have you heard lately?

Double Dog Dare

I was amazed to read today that teenagers across the country have started taking part in an online challenge to eat laundry pods. I didn’t want to encourage anyone by clicking on any of the videos out there, but news reports say they are filled with teens foaming at the mouth, vomiting and some even passing out.

The last online challenge I remember was the ice bucket although I never understood it. I had thought it started as a “if you don’t donate money then you have to dump this bucket of ice water on yourself” and ended up as a “I’m donating money and for some reason dumping a bucket of ice water on myself”.

Both of these remind me of Flick in Christmas Story who caves to the “triple dog dare you” on the playground and ends up having the fire department detach him from a frozen flag pole. Or Marty McFly in Back to the Future who responds with fury to “you chicken?” I’ve never understood the “double dog dare”; it doesn’t make sense that you should do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do just because someone dares you.  And it makes even less sense to do something that is clearly not just unpleasant but potentially very dangerous to your health.

Have you ever done anything on a dare?

Enforced Idleness

This was so dumb. Here I was with a long weekend and I was laid up for three days on the sofa with a cough, fatigue, and a low-grade fever.  I didn’t have real grand plans, but it would have been nice to have some productive time at home. It was too cold to go anywhere.  All I was good for was as a heating pad for cats.

The enforced idleness wasn’t so bad. I rarely get sick, and when I do it is a sign to slow down and rest.  One of my favorite ending lines to a Lawrence Durrell novel is “I felt as if the universe had given me a nudge”. This viral thing I had was a nudge, and I  paid attention.

How do you take care of yourself when you are sick?  Does the universe nudge you or wallop you?

 

Dieter Substitution

I didn’t have the television switched on too much today but I think I saw Marie Osmond at least three times. It occurs to me that I haven’t seen her hawking her diet system since before Halloween. Interesting that the diet ads start up right away on January 1.

Weight loss is the number one resolution in America these days (and has been for decades). And I read something recently that says most folks have blown through all their resolutions after six weeks.  I’m guessing that means we’ll have plenty of Marie Osmond until Groundhog’s Day.

I also saw recently that PETA wants to replace Puxatawny Phil with an animatronic groundhog. This seems absurd to me; would we really be able to program it to recognize its own shadow and forecast the end of winter? Of course, we could always program it to monitor diet ads; once spring and summer arrives, the ads drop off. This made me wonder if we replaced Marie Osmond with an animatronic dieter, maybe SHE could tell us when winter is ending and save PETA the trouble of replacing Puxatawny Phil!

What robot would be useful in your life?

 

 

I Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.

They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.

I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.

The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”

Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.

But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.

I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.

I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?

Do you have anything to confess?