LOUDER THAN WORDS – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #23

Oh let us speak first of love. When a man says he loves you, that’s nice. When a man shows you he loves you, that matters. Men, after they get over the huge masculine hurdle of saying “I love you” seem to have an even more powerful resistance to displaying love.

What does showing love mean? An unasked-for hug. The kiss that isn’t pre-sex. A bouquet of flowers that wasn’t bought at the gas station … and for which there is no special occasion. Just loving. A gift for no reason. All these speak of love.

In the world of “other things,” the senator who stands up for what he believes no matter how badly it affects his personal political agenda. The military man who goes in after a civilian caught in a cross-fire, even though it won’t win him a medal. The judge who recognizes a youngster with potential who needs help and offers it instead of prison.

Even small things. Holding doors for older people who are having trouble navigating an entryway. Waiting patiently in line even when the elderly woman ahead of you is having trouble making sense of her money and the clerk ho kindly waits for her to finish, even when the line is stopped and people are griping.

There are many actions that display an understanding of right and wrong which no words can show. These actions speak ever so much louder than words.

YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOU CANNOT MAKE HIM DRINK – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #22

I rather prefer Dorothy Parker’s version:

“You can lead a whore to culture but you cannot make her think.”

Thus spake the Orange Man!

DISCRETION AND VALOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #21

Where oh where have valor and discretion gone? What does this mean? Until you know what you are talking about, shut up.

Valor isn’t doing something stupid and dangerous. It means doing something that may cost you your life to save someone ELSE. It isn’t bungee jumping or tightrope walking between highrise buildings. Discretion isn’t being quiet when you know something important that others need to know — like our recent ‘senators’ who were supposedly judging Trump’s impeachment. That wasn’t discretion. That was spinelessness. Cowards minus one.

“Discretion is the better part of valor” suggests that unless you have the facts, you should keep your mouth shut. It does NOT suggest that refusing to talk when you have knowledge of important (maybe critical) information is a good thing.

Discretion has been nearly eliminated from the national dialogue. Facts are discarded along with civility. No one seems to know the difference between valor and doing dangerous things for fun. It is why when someone actually stands up and does the right thing, we go crazy. These days, we feel it’s remarkable when anyone shows real character and honesty.

That’s the world we have made. I hope we unmake it soon.

CREATORS AND DESTROYERS: WE ARE ONE PACKAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #57


Are humans better at creating or destroying?


We are good at both and moreover, a lot of our creations turn out to be destructive.


Ten Medieval Inventions that Changed the World:

  • Mechanical Clock. Timekeeping devices have emerged since the ancient world, but it was not until the Middle Ages that the technology was invented that allowed for mechanical clocks to accurately keep track of time.
  • Printing Press.
  • Gunpowder.
  • Water and Wind Mills. (Note: Ancient civilizations all over the world had invented grinding mills for corn and other grains. The big invention, in this case, was attaching the grinder to rushing water to make it work on its own.)
  • Coffee House. (France, Louis XIV)
  • Eyeglasses. 13th-14th centuries. Also telescopes.
  • Public Library. (Another note: How “public” they were depends on your definition of “public.” I’m not sure peasants or even the middle class were “public” at that point.)
  • Flying Buttress.

Although I’m pretty sure the flying buttress never destroyed anything, gunpowder surely did. We didn’t invent it. Marco Polo imported it. The Chinese invented it in the 9th century but didn’t use it for weapons. They preferred fireworks.

Plastic was an amazing invention. It hasn’t worked out well for the world but who knew what incredible slobs humans could be? On the other hand, coffee houses and libraries remain terrific places to hang out.

The clock showed up in the 13th century. Imagine that! A time-keeping device in the 1200s. Wristwatches took a little longer. The 13th century, mostly noted for the Black Plague that swept the world also forced the invention of the central government. Was that a good thing or a bad one? It was good when they created it because everyone was starving (no peasants to plow the fields).

A central government could build giant granaries and dole out grain so that whoever wasn’t dying of plague might not die of starvation instead. It was a way of keeping a few citizens around when the plague finally left. Incidentally, this also created a middle class. Today’s government doesn’t ideal, but it would be difficult to run a modern world without it. Maybe impossible.

The Egyptians and Romans were very big on government as were the Chinese, Macedonians, Greeks, and probably many other cultures about whom we don’t know enough to make a firm statement. It varied in style, but its centrality was undisputed.

Gutenberg printing press

We invent things. We mismanage the things we invent. We invent something else which is supposed to fix what went awry the first time around … and when that goes awry too, we do some more inventing. When we think we are out of inventions, we aren’t. There is always another genius in the wings.

You could say that humans have invented everything that isn’t animal,  mineral, or vegetable.

In the 1400s, we got the first golf balls and women discovered the “golf weekend.” The first piano — called the Spinet — was invented the same year and soon we were all taking piano lessons. In 1411 they invented the trigger to go with the gun. That opened up the world of warfare which we have turned into a video game. By the 1500s, the Japanese had invented artillery. It took a few more centuries to build much bigger explosives, but we done it.

Modern-style oil-painting showed up in 1420 (or thereabouts) though there were many other kinds of painting long before that.

In 1421 in lovely Florence, someone invented hoisting gear. This probably helped get those flying buttresses up where they belonged. In the middle of that exhausting century — around 1455 (no one is exactly sure of the date), Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press using movable metal type. The printing press was probably a bigger deal than even the cell phone. (NOTE: The Chinese invented movable metal type in the 9th century, but we didn’t learn about it until five centuries later.)

Medieval moldboard plows

The list of inventions is almost endless. We are incredibly inventive. The problem is that we have an ugly habit of turning these inventions into ways to destroy the earth and each other. A lot of people who invented things that went wrong were really sorry about it. Later. When it was a bit late. Like Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite. He was so sorry he also invented major awards. Oh, wait, they’ve been around awhile. Oops, sorry.

The irony is that I don’t think we are intentionally destructive. Of course, this is not counting Trump and his toadies. We think we are protecting something or fighting for god or battling demons and in the course of doing what we think it really a good thing, we destroy so much in our wake.

What are we? Creative? Destructive? We are both, by turns. We create things of great beauty, extraordinary value. Then, we blow them up.


Take a look at a Timeline of historic inventions in Wikipedia. We are creators. We just have no damned discipline.

ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions


Always look on the bright side of life!


I know I’m jumping the gun here, but this is one of those days when it is particularly difficult to look at the bright side of life — and yet I found the perfect piece of music to celebrate this charming concept.



JUDGMENTAL PLATITUDES – Marilyn Armstrong

I am more than one judgmental platitude over my limit. So here’s a short list of aggravating nonsense people spout when they have nothing intelligent to say.

“God never gives you more than you can bear.”

Not only does God (via the bible or any other sacred text) never say that, but it’s not true, whether God is or isn’t the giver. Life gives us all kinds of things we can’t bear. Heart attacks. Unemployment. Losing your home, your kids, your loved ones, and finally your life.

This goes back to the fundamental false belief that we — individually — control our personal destiny. People who say this stuff are also people who have never been faced with an overwhelming issue that they cannot solve.

Moreover, if you say this to someone who is really suffering, you are an ass.

“Age is just a number.”

No, it isn’t. It’s a stage in life. The time where you can’t do what you did when you were younger not because your head is in the wrong place, but because you’ve got arthritis, maybe a heart condition, or whatever else life and DNA have dropped on you. Such statements include layers of not-so-subtle judgments as if you are weak because you have “given in” to age.

If you tried harder, you’d be younger. How does that work? I’d really like to know.

“Everything happens for a reason.” 

Does it now? Including disease? Financial disaster? Death on the highway? What might that reason be?

“Everything works out for the best.”

Tell that to the person getting fired, evicted, dying, in mourning. Don’t stand too close when you say it. It could be dangerous to your health.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t kill you. You get to live a while longer. Maybe it will make you stronger, but it is just as likely to cripple you.

Soldiering on is not valor or bravery. It’s simple survival.

“It’s mind over matter. You can do anything you want to do.”

This is the biggest lie parents tell their children. Closer to reality is that you can do anything you want if you have the talent and an opportunity. Not everyone can do anything they want.

Film at eleven!

Mind over matter as in “conquering pain by thinking it away?”

If it isn’t your pain, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Saying this to someone in real pain may actually pump enough adrenaline into their system so they leap from their wheelchair and kill you. No jury would convict them.

“For every cloud, there’s a silver lining.” 

Do I need to dignify this with a response?


Skip the judgments and please, if you have nothing to say, skip the platitudes. If all you have to offer are clichés, shut up. Please.

GATHERING PEARLS – EPISODE 1

NO DRAWN BLANKS, NOT TODAY

I’ve been finding pearls of wisdom all over the place. A few from television and movies, others from fellow bloggers. Today’s gems (and I’m not kidding, I mean gems — no sarcasm) come from Cardinal Guzman.

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Let me start with the Cardinal. His “life game” guidelines resonated with me:

  • Take care of your loved one and loved ones.
  • Have fun, but don’t get addicted to it.
  • Their shit stinks too, so it doesn’t matter what they think.
  • Improvise.

Taking care. I take care of my loved ones — friends and family — to the extent that they allow me, and I am able. I no longer believe I can fix everyone’s problems — or mine. Within the limits of money, time, health, and distance, I do what I can. It’s pretty good. If I won the lottery … but that doesn’t look likely, especially considering I haven’t bought any tickets. (Maybe I should buy tickets.)

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Have fun. I do. It’s different fun than I had years ago, but it makes me smile and laugh. I get some good pictures too.

Their shit stinks too. Not only does other people shit stink, but some of those other people have bigger problems than me. None of us never knows how difficult someone else’s path is. If they are nice to me, the will have my support — even if I don’t have much beyond moral support to offer.

Improvise. He or she who cannot roll with the punches, change with the seasons of life, adapt to the stuff that is constantly assailing us from every direction, are doomed. If you don’t change, you ossify and die in place.

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Living means changing. Many people declare “they can’t change because they are what they are.” That’s never true. They are convinced not changing will save them from getting hurt or having to learn new and uncomfortable skills. Instead, ceasing to move in life becomes a recipe for death before burial. Only the dead are frozen in time.

Improvising also means reinventing oneself. Often. As we age, we don’t so much give up things, as we adapt to the limitations we encounter. If I can’t ride horses, I can take pictures of them. I can enjoy being around them.

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I can’t hike long distances, but I can walk shorter ones. I can take pictures, write, read, and talk. I can laugh. And I’d better do it now, because tomorrow has no guarantee. As far as I can know, this is tomorrow.

Grab a handful of life and get on with it.

I’d like to add that the entire experience of living would be greatly improved by people being kind to one another. By not walking around so fearful of getting hurt that they hurt everyone else. Self-protection is overrated.

Be nice, be kind. Help where you can. It’s free. It’s easy. It makes you a better person and the world a better place.