Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Veterans Day, originally Armistice Day, initially celebrated the end of the first world war. The fields in Europe where the war was fought were full of wild red poppies and for many years, red poppies were the symbol of World War I.

2014 VetsDay

Fighting ended between the Allies and Germany at 11 AM on 11/11 — November 11, 1918. This is accepted almost universally as the end of “the war to end all wars.” Sadly, this barely interrupted the progression of war — and the holiday was known as Armistice Day.

After the police action in Korea concluded in 1954, “Veterans” was substituted for “Armistice.” The holiday became Veterans Day and honors veterans of all the wars we have ever fought. Which are a lot of wars and a great many veterans.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed amid considerable confusion on October 25, 1971. On September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford returned Veterans Day…

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Yesterday, my son called to tell me he’d made a really good deal — if I could manage the cash — for a stair chair lift.

Although I can —  and do — get up and down the stairs, it’s slow and getting slower and more than a little nerve-wracking. I’m not only slow to do it, I live in constant fear of falling. Surprisingly, that’s not a new thing because I have fallen downstairs quite a few times over the years, including when I was a lot younger. There’s something about looking down that makes me just a little bit loopy.

One step at a time and carrying packages, stairs are pretty much impossible. This deal was as good as it was ever going to get — and it looks as if these were never previously installed. I took the deal. Owen says he knows how to install them having recently done a set for a friend. I said it was a “go” — as long as this is something that will happen and not become another thing waiting in the basement for an installation “event” to occur.

The stairs are the opposite of “strutting.” I call it “sitting.” I’m very good at sitting and linguistically, it is similar to strutting, but with the “r” and “u” replaced by an “i.” Maybe, if you say it very quickly, it might sound almost the same.

It is just one unit — for the upper staircase. These will take someone from the front entryway to our living level. I will happily forget about strutting. This is a world-altering event for me and might mean we can continue to live in this house.

Not only is it a way to get upstairs not on our feet, it means it ‘s possible to get someone in a wheelchair into the house. Before that, we’ve had to tell anyone in a wheelchair our house is non-navigable. No entryway without at least 6 steps. The chair can also carry packages, so you can walk up while the chair hauls the boxes, crates, bags, and suitcases.

This is a big win here, though it reduces our limited remaining “savings” to a new low. Regardless, I was would have had to deal with this. Those 6 steps seemed like nothing 18 years ago. They feel a lot steeper these days.

It’s the official end of strutting. Sitting is good. I can sit. I’m a strong sitter. It’s also the final “giving in” to reality thing, the recognition that no amount of good will, determination, or optimism will change the number of stairs. I cannot begin to tell you how much this isn’t what I envisioned for my life as a senior. I was planning to be a dashing senior. Like in the movies. Gray and wise, but still ready to do it all … maybe slower … but otherwise, no problem.

I had no idea how much life would change in the decade following my 60th birthday. We sometimes think one decade is like another, but it turns out … not necessarily. This particular decade has been humbling. And yet — I’m still here and so many others are not. So before I get all maudlin about this, I may need help with stairs, but I’m alive. As far as I can tell, likely to stay that way for a while.

This is huge. Bigger than Trump’s stupid wall and the Mexicans don’t have to contribute a single penny to the project. We’re just winning all over the place!


A few days ago there was another mass shooting in Texas. Just weeks after the mass shooting in Nevada, which was a few weeks after the mass shooting in … I don’t know. I don’t remember. Pick a state. Odds are, one happened there.

Given the state of the state, this seemed pretty relevant. I can look through the posts on Serendipity over the months and years … and instead of becoming dated — because we fixed this or that — or at least moved on to a different issue, we are months and years later dealing with exactly the same stuff. Our “leaders” — such as they are — are spouting the same slogans and platitudes. So … on the subject of guns …

From March 2016 …

I’ve been thinking about why this country is so gun crazy. The craziest of the crazies keep saying: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Now the right-wing is saying that in the case of the recent Texas shooting, apparently a good guy with a gun did chase the bad guy with a gun. The only thing they left out is he chased the guy AFTER HE KILLED 26 PEOPLE AND WOUNDED A LOT MORE!

Then it hit me. It’s our fault so many people believe this kind of thing. By “our fault,” I mean the fault of those of us who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Our heroes were cowboys. We grew up watching Westerns in which everybody, men and women alike, had guns strapped to their waists. (Dale Evans was a hell of shot. So was Annie Oakley.)


Everybody had a gun. Good guys. Bad guys. Grandma. But, the world was a lot safer in those westerns than it is now — and not because everyone had a gun. Or two. Or three.

First. The bad guys rarely — if ever — actually hit anybody at whom they shot.

Second. The good guys merely shot the guns out of the bad guys hands. They weren’t trying to kill them.

Third. Grandma just shot people in the ass. Usually with a shotgun filled with rock salt.

Okay, sometimes the good guy would need to be little more extreme, so he’d shoot the bad guy in the shoulder (or “wing em” as we used to say). But it was always just a flesh wound.

BAD GUY:OW! You shot me in the shoulder!”

GOOD GUY: “Oh stop whining. It’s just a flesh wound.”

BAD BUY: “Well if you shot me between the eyes wouldn’t that technically be a “flesh wound” too?”

GOOD GUY: “Hmm. Never thought of it that way. You know, you’re rather astute for a bad guy.”

BAD GUY: “Thank you.”

Another thing. When the bad guy used up his bullets shooting at the good guy, he’d throw the gun at him! I never understood this. Seriously. You just fired a few dozen bullets, each traveling at about 1000 feet per second, at a guy a couple of hundred feet away. You missed every shot.

What exactly do you hope to accomplish by throwing the gun at him? Bonk him on the head?

GOOD GUY:OW! What the hell?! Did you just throw your gun at me!?”

BAD GUY: “Uh, yeah.”

GOOD GUY: “Well that really hurt! Look! I’ve already got a lump! What’s wrong with you?? Why would you do that?”

BAD GUY: “I ran out of bullets.”

GOOD GUY: “And whose fault is that?! If you’re going to a gun fight, come more prepared.”

BAD GUY: “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

At this point, seeing that the bad guy doesn’t have a gun with to shoot anymore … and all the good guy was intending to do was shoot the gun out of his hand, both go home feeling oddly unfulfilled.

I don’t own a gun, but I took a gun safety course. I’ve done some target shooting. So I know guns are REUSABLE! That’s right! All you gotta do is find more bullets for Pete’s sake — and that gun’s back on the job.

FYI, don’t call them bullets. They’re cartridges. The bullet is the lead part you actually fire from the gun. (See? I told you. I took a course.)

One more thing we tend to forget about Westerns. If you went into a town that had a Sheriff, you had to leave your guns at the sheriff’s office. When you left town, you got your guns back. The Sheriff understood the only reason anyone came to town was to go to the saloon. Which, let’s face it, was a brothel with a liquor license. Letting a bunch of horny, drunken cowboys hang out in a confined space with booze, hookers, and guns is not a great idea.

Even if you were in a town where they let you keep your guns, there were rules.

  1. If two bad guys got in a fight, they at least gave everybody a few seconds to move their chairs out of the way, or jump behind the bar.
  2. If a good guy and a bad guy got into a disagreement, they would usually schedule the gunfight for the next day in the middle of town. That way, no one else got shot.
  3. They set it up for high noon.

Why high noon? Probably because it was the lunch hour. Everybody in town could come out to watch. It also made it easier for the combatants. It wasn’t always easy to get time off for a gunfight.

BAD GUY: “Hey boss? Can I get off early today? I have a gunfight at 2 o’clock.”

BAD GUY’S BOSS: “Okay, but I’ll have to dock your pay.”

BAD GUY: (Sighing) “Never mind. I’ll reschedule it for lunchtime.”

Besides, “Gunfight at Two-ish” doesn’t have the gravitas of “High Noon.” So yeah, everybody had guns in old Westerns, but they were more mature about using them. You could argue things were simpler back then. “Things were more black and white,” you say.

To this I reply: “So what? Westerns weren’t more black and white. They were completely black and white.” They didn’t go to color until the mid-sixties.

These days, everything contains infinitely more shades of gray. With a whole lot of color thrown in.


These days I live to trash Donald Trump and anything and everything Republican. I spend my days reading about politics, mourning the Republican successes and cheering the Democratic/Progressive victories across the country.

I wake up each morning, grab for my phone and hope that today is the day that Trump will resign, be indicted or that impeachment proceedings will be started. I check my phone obsessively all day, looking for signs that Mueller is ready to pounce on Trump and his family.

I follow every revelation in the Mueller investigation with the rapt attention I used to reserve for cooking competitions on the Food Network. I analyze and dissect each piece of new information to try to divine if and when we will be put out of our misery.

But that’s the problem. I’ve become dependent on Trump. My day revolves around Trump and Trump related news. I spend hours reading news and watching MSNBC. All because of my red-hot hatred of Trump and Trump Republicans.

Now I’m worried. What will I do to fill my days when Trump is gone? I know I had a life before Trump. I just don’t remember what it was. I never watched cable news until Trump was elected. Now that’s a big part of every day. So what did I do before? I DON’T REMEMBER! It was so long ago! Or was it?

Actually, it wasn’t. It just seems like forever.

Why can’t I remember? I had a life for 66 years before Trump. How can 66 years be obliterated in just one God awful year? What has happened to me?

Oh, right. I used to read things other than political news. I used to watch fictional television – just for fun. I used to talk to friends about our kids, our jobs, and our pets. Not just about today’s latest tweet or the latest indictment. I think I used to knit.

Will I be able to adjust to life post Trump? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!


Sue Vincent from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo, a wonderful site and definitely a thinking person’s website. Anyway, she hailed me to come join this challenge. Again. And I said yes. Why not?


I did this first time around on behest of Judy Dykstra-Brown. Sometimes, getting roped into something is just what we need. My black & white photography never got the energy and effort I’ve used for color photography. This project improved my work.

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life.
No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

Having directly or indirectly finagled more than a few people to join this challenge a few weeks ago, I’d feel a bit bashful asking them again, but I invite you to consider giving this challenge a go, even if you’ve done it already. A push to do better work is always good for your art. Moreover, finding a good black & white picture that represents “you” in some interesting visual way poses an interesting mental challenge — an artistic double-whammy, so to speak. At least one of the pictures I used in the first round of challenges turned out to be one of my most popular-ever posts.

Who’d have thunk it.