Memorial Day Etiquette

I’ve heard various opinions as to the handling of Memorial Day, with each opinion aghast at those who have differing opinions.

Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” when the veterans of the Union Army—now known as the Grand Army of the Republic—decorated the graves of the Union Civil War Dead with flowers as a tribute to their sacrifice. The Union dead enjoyed a more civilized burial in many cases; for example, at Gettysburg, priority was naturally given to those who had given their lives in defense of the United States. Being July, and hot, by the time they had buried the Union casualties, it was not possible to move many of the Southern dead still lying on the field (military, first responders, and medical people know what I’m saying—I’ll save the rest of you from the details). The only option was to dig a proper grave next to the remains, and roll the body in. These were not marked, nor will they be, since they are a prime target for artifact hunters.

Naturally, the veterans and families of Confederate soldiers had similar memorial practices, so as the nation healed, a single day was chosen to honor all who had died in combat—Memorial Day.

To some, saying, “Happy Memorial Day,” is disrespectful, since it is a day to honor the war dead.

So, what should you say?

I gave this a lot of thought and decided on the following:

  1. Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or Coast Guard took the oath and the responsibility in order to protect what we hold dear.
  2. To honor and remember is appropriate.
  3. However, those who died did so in order that we could enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Therefore, acknowledging that this nation and even this holiday was built on their commitment as well as their sacrifice, I believe that celebrating acknowledges their victory. They protected our right to be the outrageous, unrefined, out of control Americans we were meant to be.

This is a holiday that was “built on the shoulders of giants.”

So enjoy. What if someone wearing “the cloth of our country” who died in the 1860s, or who is the most recent KIA were suddenly allowed to come back? I think he or she would prefer to see families gather, cook outside, smile and laugh because home and hearth, family and friends, the American way is what they wanted to protect.

Happy Memorial Day to the living, thanks to those who gave the last full measure.

Peanut Butter

Plain Old Peanut Butter

Plain Old Peanut Butter

The standard for the entire universe is peanut butter and jelly.

Not for me.

I have always preferred peanut butter and honey.

Why? Because jelly isn’t in the Bible but honey is.

Okay, I’m kidding.

Jelly, to me, in regard to peanut butter is the same as fish to meat. Some people like Surf’n’Turf (even myself at times), but although the dish and the meat may share the same plate, they are DIFFERENT! The broccoli over at the untouched edge of the plate, same thing.

Honey enhances the flavor of peanut butter without replacing it. Jelly, in my humble opinion, tries to stake out its own claim and force out its rivals, including peanut butter.

So, in the intergalactic scheme of things, what does this mean? Why honey? Why peanut butter? Why jelly—and can jam be used as a substitute when times are rough?

Not so much. So in the giant intergalactic connectivity equation this means………………

Absolutely nothing.

So, there.

Faith vs. Fact

I have no problem with the issue of faith—as a matter of fact, I have relied on faith to get me through the tough parts of life. However, faith is based on my relationship God.

On the other hand, with most other issues, I need to know HOW something works—that pi is just a ratio between the circumference of a circle and its radius. I need to know how margins of error are calculated and what they really mean in the world of statistics.

Today, though, there are many people who accept on faith that cell phones work and always will; that the electric power, cable television, and the internet will be there with the flick of a switch, but they have no idea how they work, nor do they care.

However, when it comes to God, they demand proof that He exists.


If There’s No Breaking News—We’ll Break Something!

Courtesy, National Geographic  (Consider joining--

Courtesy, National Geographic
(Consider joining–

Squeezed in somewhere among the celebrity gossip and pinup pictures, occasionally the Internet carries items that journalists once referred to as News.

News includes such boring items as wars, disasters, election results, and rarely mention the reaction from starlets, transgender humans or trans-species….whatever. In the days of journalism, the reporter listed the facts:

  1. This is what happened (not my impression of what happened).
  2. Where and when it happened.
  3. Why is this significant? (Not guaranteed to be 100% factual, but true journalists tried to be as objective as possible).

“News” today is often predictive—this COULD happen, or the media focuses on something that probably will happen, but it could be tomorrow, or it could be in 30 billion years (give or take).

[Note: I like the fact that what was once the press is now the media. It’s like admitting they only rank a grade of “C” for their work.]

Today CNN ran a story on the super-volcano that someday could, maybe erupt (or it could keep releasing pressure through Old Faithful and the other geysers like that weight on the top of a pressure cooker).

But the best thing is—they’re now adding music to news stories, and a pretty zippy bongo number (doubtlessly electronically generated) at that. Try

What’s next for the news mesia—laugh tracks?

There Are Some Nights…

I hear lots of people talking about going home at the end of the day and watching TV or even doing something significant. The older I get the less often that happens. I tend to wind down in the evening; if I’m productive I do some “therapeutic soldering” on some project or another.

However, there are some evenings when I’m just beat. I may have gotten a whole lot of things done that were on my to-do list (nothing like the folks at the Hadron accelerator, but accomplishments nevertheless).In any case, I just want to relax, wind down and call it a night.

Tonight is one of those; in fact it’s a perfect example. I could explain why, but I’m just too tired.

So, on that note, good night.

It’s NOT Speed-dating!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali (and his mustache) Courtesy

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali (and his mustache)

Fortunately, I’m past those that deal with dating, on-and-off relationships, and other unsure bets. I am the embodiment of the line from When Harry Met Sally, “Promise me I’ll never be out there again.”

Especially given some of the strange rituals that accompany the process these days. Speed-dating? Really?

Apparently you sit with a person of whichever sex interests you for a very brief period of time—as in minutes—and try to learn enough about the other person to determine if he or she might be worth more time (apparently if that other person has the same opinion of you).

Imagine my horror when I realized that having two teenagers at home is just like speed-dating my wife. We have five minutes in the morning before we each head in different directions.

“When did you say Katie’s trip was?”

“Did I hear something about a soccer tournament for Adam?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Wait, did you pay the credit card bill?”

“Call me.”

“No you call me, maybe we can do lunch.”

I’m going to go down to the office supply store and get a couple of those “Hello, My name is:” stickers, and a letter of introduction from some high and lofty personage, and see if that….

Ooops, sorry, gotta run.

Community Service

Socrates Courtesy Wikimedia

Courtesy Wikimedia

Yesterday, the American Diabetic Association’s Tour de Cure bicycle race was held in our area. This is a fundraiser for diabetes research and rides can choose a ten-mile, thirty-mile, sixty-five mile, or one-hundred mile course, with people donating to support their efforts. Local ham radio operators provide communications from each of the seven rest stops with the race coordinators at the start/finish lines. When I lived in Wyoming, the local hams provided similar service during Frontier Days.

Some people enjoy providing service to their friends and neighbors; some belong to an organization that encourages (and if necessary shames) its members into serving the community. Churches often provide the tipping point for people who wouldn’t go out on their own. Many high schools require a certain amount of community service in order to graduate. I believe that organizations provide the social network and support to help those who are comfortable being part of a group, but are not comfortable acting as an individual. Members of the Local Club (whatever it is) are more likely to adopt a road and clean it than the same people as individuals.

I know every generation worries about the state of their children. Supposedly, Plato credited Socrates with the following quotation:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

However, in Socrates’s time young men and women couldn’t cocoon in their bedrooms with smartphones and video games.