Monday, April 25, 2011

Maui, Rhymes with Wow-ee

Maui is part of a mountain range,
that has ascended slowly out of the sea.
Allowing nature to work in relative isolation,
creating a canvas of unrivaled natural beauty.

The road along the north shore, from Kapalua to Hana,
provides the best views of this oasis in the sea.
Those who choose to drive this road themselves
can be described in one word--kamikaze.
It is far more prudent and enjoyable,
to take a bus ride with Ekahi.

Taking a whale-watching cruise is standard practice,
it's exciting to see the Humpbacks breach.
But to tell the truth, you can see them just as well,
while standing on the beach.

The beauty of this island
resides equally in the flora of Maui,
which is framed exquisitely
by the trackless azure sea.

While visiting Maui,
the Kaanapali Beach Hotel is where I stayed.
At that time, it was the last hotel
doing things the traditional Hawaiian way.

Simply put, Maui is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
Whether I will return is difficult to foresee.
But the island will always reside,
in the garden of my memory.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stone Crabbing

(A version of this poem was presented at the Fisher Poets Gathering, Astoria OR, 2/26/11)

Stone crab traps are made of wooden(or plastic) lath strips, about 2 ft square.
Then you pour in 50 lbs of concrete, so they won't go anywhere.
Unfortunately, if you drop them on mud bottom, they tend to sink right in.
So in addition to weight, you have to overcome the suction.

I always set in shallow water, so I pulled my traps manually.
So when my oldest son was strong enough, I took him along with me.
After several traps he said,"Dad, this one's stuck fast, so now what, tell me please".
"Son", I said,"the trick is, at first you pull hard, then she comes easy".

Dungeness, king, blue crab and lobster, are all first rate, gastronomically,
but among gourmets, and gourmands who have sampled the full bounty of the sea,
they clearly favor the stone crab, and I surely do not disagree.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Charge of the (Ultra)Light Brigade

When I was a freshman at Washington College, I experienced the most indelible image of my relatively brief tenure there(2 yrs). It occurred during the course of the hazing rituals then practiced. Tradition held that the sophomores would descend upon our dorm, G.I. hall, and trash the place. Things didn't exactly go as they planned, and we were able to repel their foray with a large water hose, and a larger physical presence. Just by chance, we had a disproportionate number of large dudes in our class. Mule Jennings was  our ringleader. Having defended our turf, we mounted a counter-attack the next night. Someone in our class had taken a truck to Trusslow's poultry farm, and brought back the mother load of rotten eggs. We were armed and dangerous, and so proceeded to make our way to Somerset Hall. We rallied by the front door and taunted the sophomores to come out, or we would come in. After several minutes of no response, the door burst open and running out with right arm raised came Prof. Norman James, who was the dorm proctor. He shouted "charge", even though he had no back-up. So he bore the brunt of our egg fusillade, collapsing in a heap on the front porch. We then proceeded to give Somerset a thorough egging, inside and out. Prof. James "charging" out the door was the most indelible image of my WC experience. The good humor and pluck that he showed then are among the reasons he became a beloved
figure at the college.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Red Light Cameras-Do They Work?

Cameras that are intended to catch motorists running red lights, have become the subject of considerable
controversy. Critics of the cameras(most of whom seem to be those who have been caught) claim that they are ineffective, and may create accidents. Such accidents are said to occur as you apply the brakes in response to the yellow light, and the driver behind you accelerates and attempts to pass in order to run the red light(doesn't that frost you when it happens). The purpose of the cameras, as I understand it, is to catch red light runners, which is a violation of the motor vehicle code. Are they effective? Everywhere that they have been employed, they have caught violators by the score. It appears that red-light-running
has become the most popular vehicular sport, replacing "chicken". Critics of the cameras would probably prefer that traffic lights simply be abolished. Then they would never have to stop, and the camera question would be moot.
Following the same line of reasoning, one has to question the continuing existence of police departments, which have been around for centuries. Are they effective? Clearly less so than cameras in catching red light runners, and many other types of crime also persist. The NRA would clearly favor this position.
No traffic lights, no police. Everyone responsible for their own protection. Love that freedom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Primer on Socialism and Related Terms

Among the milder criticisms leveled at Pres. Obama is that he is a socialist. His healthcare reform program has been reviled by neocons on this basis. One defining characteristic of socialism is that all members of a society provide support for a program, usually financially, and to the extent to which they are able. Then all members of that society are entitled to certain defined benefits without respect to their ability to pay. I hope
that everyone realizes that our public school system, K-12, is the largest example of socialism in our society. There are many, many others including Social Security, Medicare, all publicly-funded police and fire depts, and even volunteer fire depts. What is the alternative? Simple: all schools would be private, and if you could not  afford it you would receive no education(like the slaves). Most civilized societies rejected the idea that education is only for the privileged, several centuries ago. Obama has essentially attempted to extend our approach to public education to the healthcare system. The U.S. is the only industrialized democracy which does not have universal healthcare.
Obama has also been labeled a communist by T-baggers. Communism has several additional precepts which extend well beyond socialism. Most notably, that the state owns all real property(land and buildings) and controls the means of production(factories,farms, etc.) The USSR was the most notable example, and it collapsed after 73 yrs.
To label Obama a Nazi, as some T-baggers have done, shows total ignorance of the way National Socialism was practiced in Germany at the time of WW2. It was a totalitarian state Where the Nazi party controlled every aspect of German life. No dissent was permitted. If a person protested about any aspect of Nazi policy, they would be taken in for questioning by the federal police(the Gestapo), and they would never be seen again. Anyone inquiring about the person would be told to shut up, or they would also disappear. People quickly learned to keep their mouth's shut. The fact that Fox news is still on the air, shows that Obama is not a Nazi.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Test of Recent Historical Events

A number of people don't score well on questions regarding ancient history(defined as 10 yrs ago, or more). A number of Republicans, and assorted T-baggers, don't even do well on events which occurred in the last 2 yrs. Try the following questions.
1. Which administration initiated the "Bank Bailout" program?(Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP)
2. Who was the Secretary of the Treasury then, and who appointed him?
3. Who was the President who pushed this program through Congress?
4. Is the economy in better shape now(Sept,2010) than it was 2 yrs ago(Sept,2008)?
Two yrs ago Lehman Bros., and several other major Wall St. financial institutions failed. They declared bankruptcy, thus did not have to pay off their creditors. This created the possibility of a domino effect where financial institutions and banks couldn't pay their creditors because they were unable to collect from their debtors. This is what happened at the start of the the Great Depression, continuing down to the level of your hometown bank. When you went to your bank to withdraw your deposits, you typically received an I.O.U., which was worthless. Eventually the F.D.I.C. was created(how many anti-government types would like to eliminate this gov't agency"). The TARP, despite some missteps, appears to have prevented a catastrophic financial collapse from occurring.
Answers to questions:1. The George W. Bush administration. 2. Henry(Hank) Paulson, appointed by George W. Bush. 3. George W. Bush. 4. Two yrs ago the economy was on the verge of a total collapse.
Many people found that their 401K's, and similar plans, had declined by 50%. Only a few wingnut economists would now claim that there is any immediate danger of such a collapse. Most retirement plans have recovered 75-80% of the value they lost. Regardless of your employment status, the economy is in much better shape than it was 2 yrs ago.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back in Business

After a month or so of R&R, from having my main engine overhauled, I am ready to re-enter the blogosphere. If you need an immediate poetry fix, go to my website(
There are 44 poems languishing there.