To those who have asked about my blog, let me apologize for the lack of updated content for nearly a year. We purchased a new home and have been swamped with selling other property, moving to the new house, supervising remodeling, and generally getting settled. It’s been a hectic, exhausting year, and I’m glad it’s finally (almost) over so I can return to my first love—writing. I told Debra that this will be my final move. I’m too old and cranky to do this again.
I have lots to share, starting with an article on the messy subject of abortion. The issue exploded into prominence this year when the new ultra-conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Despite their assurances to the contrary, Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices, aided by Justices Alito and Thomas, swept away decades of precedent and made a decision that reverberated not only in our country but around the world. Their decision was among the crowning achievements of the conservative wave that has swept through America since George W. Bush held office and conservative groups mobilized to take control of the legislatures and judiciary, although they are a minority. Donald Trump’s presidency marked the ascendency of the mostly white, mostly male part of the electorate that became emboldened by Trump’s brutishness, racism, and casual disregard for the truth as well as the respect most Americans have long held toward the institutions of our democracy.
The pendulum will swing back toward moderation. It always has. Encouraged by their successes, the conservatives will overplay their hand and turn people in the middle against them. After right-wing Senator Joe McCarthy terrorized the country for years with his House Un-American Activities witch hunt, sensible voices prevailed, and McCarthy receded into history as a flaming demagogue. Until the pendulum swings back, abortion will be wholly or partially banned in many states, both sides of the debate perched on their high horses defending diametrically opposed views with equal fervor. Much has been written about abortion since the recent Roe v. Wade decision. In my article on America’s most vexing issue, I try to examine the debate from a neutral lens—if that is possible.
Less contentious and exciting was last year’s launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Among the first images NASA released from the Webb was of the magnificent Cartwheel Galaxy. It is a behemoth—half again larger than the Milky Way and containing as many as four billion stars. I’ll share more images from the Webb Space Telescope in future articles. For now, enjoy the Brobdingnagian beauty and wonder of this astronomical gem.
On the lighter side of the ledger, I hope you will enjoy a brief mystery about the shadow side of a major appliance. I’ve noticed something peculiar going on and . . . well, you’ll have to read about it.
I have a new Pop Quiz. We are well into 2022, enough time for millions of baby girls to be born. What do you think the most popular girl’s name is this year? I’ll list the top ten and ask you to select #1.
In Popular Misconceptions, I tackle some common and interesting misconceptions. Did Viking warriors really wear horned helmets? Should you add olive oil to pasta in boiling water? Do people have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell? Hmmm.
What are the most popular desserts in America? There are some great dessert recipes linked to this little article.
Who uses social media and how often? I was shocked by some of these numbers.
In a piece titled, “Reflections on the Premature Death of Ellika Larsdotter,” I ruminate on the fact that my odds of having been born were astronomically small. I owe my life to many of my progenitors and in particular to Ellika Larsdotter, who died following childbirth on November 18, 1721.
Durango PlayFest returned this summer for a 4th season (after missing one year for Covid). It was a triumphant season, and the festival is now soliciting plays for next summer’s 5th season. Stay tuned.
My wife’s mother was a pianist and collected sheet music. When she was looking through her mother’s extensive collection, she discovered some old newspapers, including one published by the Pueblo Star-Journal on December 8, 1941—the day after Pearl Harbor. I wondered how that reported that calamity, so I read the paper and made many interesting discoveries. Read about what I found in “1,500 Persons Killed in Attack on Hawaii.”
We are now in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic and, like me, you are probably sick of hearing about it. But it’s an illness and a topic that won’t go away, in part because of vaccine hesitancy and in part because the virus keeps mutating and its variants have proven more contagious than measles—previously the most contagious of viruses. Health experts now believe that Covid may be with us forever and that we will manage it by having an annual vaccination, like the shots most people take for flu and pneumonia. I’ve just had my third Covid booster shot. I’ve had no side effects from it, not even a sore arm. So I’ve been curious about why more than one-fifth of Americans have never been vaccinated against Covid.
Apparently, many are afraid of having a severe reaction to the shot. But the odds of having a severe reaction to any vaccination are around 1 in 750,000. In my article, “What Are the Odds?” I compare the danger of having a vaccine reaction to other things that could happen to you. For instance, your odds of dying from food poisoning are nearly 47 times greater than having a bad reaction to a vaccine. You are more than seven thousand times more likely to die in an automobile accident. On the other hand, you are only twelve times more likely to die from a bee sting. Compared to driving a car, hanging around a beehive is substantially safer. So why are some people so resistant to getting a Covid vaccination? Beats me.
Among other new articles in this edition of the Reflections.blog is a feature article called, “Don’t Be Afraid to Use the ‘F’ Word.” No, not THAT “F” word. Another one. How it plays out in the coming years could well determine the future of our country—if America has a future at all.
Finally, I am presenting new photographs by Michael Wooters and Debra Parmenter. Michael’s photos were taken on his many travels. Debra’s photos came entirely from our backyard. In the work of these outstanding photographers, you will find deer, horses, beavers, sloths, wolves, eagles, red-tail hawks, cranes, and a magpie perched on a lamb’s rump.
Thanks for reading this edition of the blog. I hope afterwards you will say, “Welcome back.”