Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Question - 2011

Sultry Diana Krall vocalizes with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra backing her....

"What Are You Doing New Years Eve". Credits:

Saturday, December 24, 2011


May holiday celebrations bring your family much joy and pleasure with loved ones and friends whether they live near or distant.

Here's a classic Christmas song, "Sleigh Ride," sung by husband and wife, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme:

(Remember LPs?)

(From the 1965 LP: "Goodyear's Great Songs Of Christmas Album 5"
(Columbia Special Products CSP-238-S)

Technological communication systems today bring us close across the miles allowing an ease of frequent contact unlike any time before. We have simple cell phones ranging to the more complex smart phones like the iPhone and Androids, other digital devices. Small netbooks to larger laptops and desktop computers are in use. Email, instant messaging, texting, twittering -- social networks are popular. There are iPods and the latest iPad iteration with evolving competitive gadgetry, plus hundreds of thousands of applications. There's a never-ending steady stream of new digital creations to fascinate, intrigue, challenge, frustrate and confuse us.

I'm particularly enamored with Skype (quickly and easily downloaded free from the Internet) which allows real time interaction with picture and sound for conversations that enhance relationships with friends and family.

I've especially enjoyed Skyping this year since more loved ones are doing so, too. I was pleasantly surprised this week with contact from an older family member who has been able to add Skyping capability to life skills he has been gradually reacquiring since a life-threatening medical event years ago, coupled with subsequent medical issues, impeded his computer digital activities.

I've especially enjoyed keeping up in real time with Skype's audio and video of my grandson born early this year who I finally met this past fall. I traveled east for a delightful time rockin’, singin’, talkin’, readin’, and playin’ with him. I even shared some time with his parents! Meeting again with his other grandparents is always fun, too.

I'm really delighted to periodically see and talk with my grandson via Skype with his Dad providing technical assistance as the little one reaches for a keyboard or touch screen. I've been impressed with how Grandson attends to my face on the screen, may recognize my voice, and responds dialogue-like verbally with beginning sounds though they don't yet make intelligible words. I've been delighted to watch him in real time walking with the support of his push toy, grasping food bites that also can be smushed for finger painting on his table between bites, and his eventually cuddling at bedtime.

Just today, Christmas Eve, (when I'm writing this) I was treated to a video of Grandson now walking independently! Life has suddenly become even more interesting for his parents and their two cats as those of us who are parents know only too well.

Computers will be a given in my Grandson's life, just as television was for his parents. Neither technology existed in my young life except in the comic strips, fantasy and science fiction.

Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas and most Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Commemorating lives forever altered on Sunday, December 7, 1941

My deepest gratitude to all those whose lives were sacrificed to preserve our lives and freedom.

… with each passing year fewer people vividly recall the day

… some may only recall parents or grandparents describing the day

… others may have encountered written, pictorial or video historical accounts of the day

This event led to WWII -- the war naively believed to be the war to end all wars.

Monday, December 05, 2011

MARIAH - Some Call the Wind

Strong windy weather is happening where I live. Racing through the mountain passes and canyons tonight, and the next two nights, are predicted 40-50 mph winds arriving in my area about 2 A.M. -- much weaker than earlier winds. We can expect continuing winds for another week. Due to the drying nature of these winds wild fires persist in being a significant dangerous risk.

I’m being reminded of “Mariah,” or “They Call the Wind Maria,” composed by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe as the song was titled for “Paint Your Wagon,” a 1951 Broadway musical, later a 1969 film.

Singer, orchestra leader, Vaughn Monroe offers his “Mariah” version.

Incidentally, I recall Vaughn Monroe making a guest appearance on the ‘50’s-‘60’s television talk show with which I was associated. He was exceptionally nice and impressed me even further when he spent time after the show providing counsel to a young “girl singer” -- as female vocalists were referred to then. She had arrived from a nearby small town to audition with our Quintet a few weeks earlier, impressing all of us with her vocal talent. Coincidentally, her name was “Marie” (I’ve forgotten her last name.) With the help of music world contacts, including through our show’s host, she relocated to successfully and regularly perform in Chicago clubs. She surprised me with a visit when she returned home a few years later, having chosen for the time being to leave the music business and start a family. We lost touch but I've often wondered how her future unfolded.

On with my present personal windy saga.....
Batten down the hatches, shutter the windows, tie down loose ends has recently become the mantra for those of us living in Southern California’s Los Angeles area. We’re accustomed to what we know as Santa Ana Winds this time of year, but they’ve taken on high velocity ferocity this season. Hurricane strength winds (75 mph to 150 mph) without the rain have been gusting through our valleys. Thousands of homes and businesses are still without power they lost five days ago.

Uprooted trees have fallen into the streets, crashed on to houses, crushed cars, coupled with felled power poles and lines generally wrecking havoc. Traffic lights at major intersections ceased to flash. Some businesses had generators for backup power. Others had to close or were forced to conduct business using old-fashioned mathematics with hand-held battery powered devices, or simple paper and pen to compute sales and make change.

Here’s Frankie Laine, reported to have been in his eighties when he sang this Mariah rendition.

My personal wind experience began last Wednesday night with weather alerts we could expect some strong winds in the mornings wee hours. I became sleepy so retired unusually early, but recall being awakened around 1 A.M. to rushing wind sounds outside my bedroom window. Knowing there was little to be done, I went back to sleep.

Thursday morning when I finally left the comfort of my warm bed I encountered unusually cold air and discovered a household power outage had rendered my furnace impotent. I determined to save my cell phone battery since my land line was still operative. The following hours of news on my battery powered radio increasingly revealed the wind’s widespread damaging effects.

Only small branches had blown into my front yard, which I was able to gather for placement in my green recycle bin. I had a good-natured laugh at myself when I discovered I'd need to wait for power to get the bin because I forgot the procedure for raising the garage door when there’s no electricity. Even more ridiculous, I couldn’t locate the instruction book I received when I had the door installed only a few years ago. I did have the key to the back door into the garage, but I didn’t want to drag the bin into the backyard, around to the front, then back again. Later in the afternoon when I still had no power I phoned the electric company. A recorded message for my area stated electric service was not expected until Friday’s early hours.

I was able to keep appointments Thursday, so could see for myself on nearby streets trees down, one's upper branches barely missing a house. After learning power was on south of famed Route 66 in our city I decided to attend a movie downtown in the late afternoon. The movie theater auditorium was much colder than I had hoped, but “Descendants” film setting in the sunny warm-appearing Hawaiian scenes allowed me to partly suspend reality. I was disappointed when I returned home to find the power still off. Just as I was readying to treat myself to a hot dinner out, the lights came on.

This whole experience has provided me an emergency dry run using some items from what I had always thought of as being for earthquake preparedness. I think I want a solar powered battery charger because we had sun, and little wind during the day.

Eddie Fisher’s “Mariah” is quite enjoyable I think, though he was never one of my favored male vocalists – or “boy singers.”

I don't hear any wind outside, but those gusts come suddenly and seemingly from nowhere. I’ll write here again – if I haven’t blown away!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hope everyone is ready for Thanksgiving because the day is here! Somehow my mindset has not been prepared for that fact. Surely does seem as though this holiday came pretty quickly this year. I was just getting accustomed to summer evolving into fall.

Thanksgiving memories and thoughts immediately have me vocalizing:

"Over the river and through the wood
to grandfather's house we go ..."

This Thanksgiving song was originally a poem by Lydia Maria Child. Years later the lines were changed to "grandmother's house" and became a Christmas song
Wikipedia reports.

This version is as a Thanksgiving song, but retains the change to grandmother. Enjoy!

Wishing one and all a most pleasant day whether alone or with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Mishmash: a confused conglomeration of mismatched information (my definition)

Internet factual personal data independently collected by commercial sites is highly suspect in the event you have any doubts. Specifics about themselves revealed by individuals, or those who know them, on social network sites are a different matter but could be questionable, too.

On a whim I thought I'd see what personal information about me some commercial sites offered free to readers who searched my name. What a hoot! I've never seen such a mishmash of mixed information. I hope no one is ever foolish enough to actually pay any of those sites money to see whatever other data they claim they may or may not have about me. (I don't know what they might have, since I wasn't about to subscribe to find out.)

First of all, the sites often don't even have my name spelled correctly. A nonexistent middle name's initial is indicated in other instances. These name listings are as mixed up as the credit reporting agencies were the last time I checked their written reports (facts they can't seem to get straight.) Reviewing further family data purported to be about me revealed continuing grossly erroneous information including total family members and names in the household.

This experience caused me to wonder how accurate these sites would be for a few other family members and friends, or to question if only my listing was inaccurate. I needed to search but a few names to discover their data was as bollixed up as my own.

Frankly, I'm quite accepting of the fact much data about me on those commercial Internet sites is untrue. I hope anyone who might refer to those sites realizes they may contain little more than a grain of fact in an ocean of misinformation. I have no intention of correcting falsehoods or providing missing particulars to any of those sites.

I guess I belong to a minority group that doesn't welcome the gathering of information about me, that is consolidated in one such public centralized location so readily available for marketing. So, I don't intend to take any corrective action to aid in their so-called fact gathering. At best this effort only slows the assault on my personal privacy.

This Internet activity set me thinking. Just as many individuals seek celebrity today -- either the famous or infamous variety seems desired by many -- numerous other people are dedicated to compiling as many facts as possible about each of us as a way for them to make money. They lead us to embrace the idea that revealing all about ourselves on the Internet is desirable. I think, despite rhetoric to the contrary, the primary motivation for gathering information about us is purely commercial -- to find a way to entice advertising dollars.

Eventually, one day the great computer with infinite storage in the cloud will know all there is to know about us. The mechanical wisdom of this computer, that will have been designed to program itself, will spew forth selected knowledge unique to each of our needs and desires. When we consult that digital wizard about products and other matters each of us will automatically be offered predetermined choices presumed to be our preferences.

I wonder if the computer will know to offer me a pair of special shoes I always wanted? Maybe I shouldn't wait for the wizard to intuit the wish of this then young girl who longed for springs on her shoe soles in preference to the pogo stick she never had. There were no such shoes with springs then, as far as I know, but finally, these many years later, someone somewhere has designed that footwear. Hm-m-m! I wonder if there's a model suitable for elders?

Friday, November 11, 2011


Thanks to our U.S. Military Veterans on this date designated to honor their service to the nation on our behalf. This year we have a unique confluence of "eleven" numbers to which some people attribute special significance for a variety of reasons.

This Veterans Day, which internationally is known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day some places, falls on November 11 (or nearest weekday.) The day refers to the end of World War I which occurred in 1918 formally ending at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The change to the name Veterans Day in the United States came about when in 1953 Emporia, Kansas citizens observed a Veterans Day in lieu of Armistice Day. Subsequently, legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives for this official name change to Veterans Day. Then undertaken was a letter-writing campaign directed toward gaining support of state governors for this holidays' observance and name change. All veterans who served would be honored as this name change to Veterans Day was enacted June 1, 1954.

Imbedded in my lifetime's memory are the stories of relatives who served in World War II. I especially recall family members serving in the U.S. Navy. Others were active in local USO events designed to entertain the service men and women who were often far from home, sometimes bringing them into their own homes for family visits.

I do believe that the sacrifices made by our armed forces during WWII are directly responsible for the fact our country continued to exist as the free democracy/republic our constitution's creators intended. For this reason I accord special tribute to those WWII surviving veterans whose numbers diminish daily, as well as to those who live only in spirit now.

Armed forces personnel are often placed in harm's way with tragic results. Lives are lost, outwardly observable physical and/or mental injuries are incurred, and wounds invisible to the eye alter life for some service people. Our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers -- these men and women are all forever changed, so are their families.

I believe as a nation our people should be insistent that our veterans receive not only initial optimum timely medical care, but continued long term therapeutic interventions needed to maximize their quality of life. I am greatly distressed whenever I become aware veterans have not received the highest level of care. I am particularly concerned that those diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI,) Closed Head Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) receive the extended care they need and their loved ones receive necessary caregiver support.

I think it is important to note that the evolution of Armistice Day to Veterans Day in the United States came about because a group of citizens in the heartland of this country were determined to bring about meaningful change. I have heard from time to time over the years individuals excuse their responsibility for not actively participating in our government by voting in our elections because "My vote doesn't count," or, "It doesn't matter whether or not I vote, as it won't make a difference."

U.S. history is replete with many instances which prove individuals votes and actions do make a difference. The establishment of this Veterans Day is an instance when citizens actions manifested themselves in a desired outcome of benefit to all our citizens.

Our veterans who put their lives at risk, and those we honor on Memorial Day who died, gave of themselves so the rest of us could continue to enjoy freedoms unlike those enjoyed in any other country in the world.

On this day when we honor our veterans, I hope we also make a promise to ourselves that if we've not yet registered to vote, we will do so; that we will educate ourselves on the issues and the candidates, then vote intelligently in every local and national election. Seems to me that is the very least of our responsibilities to our country, ourselves and our children. If that is not enough incentive then, at the very least, we should do so in honor of our veterans. Voting is an important act when we consider our Veterans willingness to lay their lives on the line so that each of us can live in freedom and exercise our voting privilege.

Thank you, again, to our veterans!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Blogging has not been forgotten at "Along The Way," but I have been a bit pre-occupied with family -- all in a most pleasant way I hasten to add. During this time I've taken a month or so away from my part time work, but have agreed to assume some extra assignments when I resume work as a courtesy to those seeing my patients while I'm taking this break. I'll confess that I haven't been visiting any other blogs during this time so will be doing some catch up later. I'll soon return to expounding on a variety of topics I've been intending to write about including a mix of music and whatever else strikes my fancy.

I have had a serious unexpected accident tonight for which I have had heavy guilt feelings the past couple of hours. First, I must give you some background. Present in my household are two personable lively cats with whom I've been discussing their forming Felines Anonymous -- an organization for those cats who jealously guard their privacy but need the support of others to aid in weight loss. We are having a bit of spirited disagreement determining exactly how many steps will be in this program, whether or not we want to insist on weigh-ins and I've insisted small outdoor creatures are not acceptable dues payment.

Morgan is more disciplined, likes to eat small amounts, returning many times to his twice daily meal he parcels independently throughout the day. However, his food must now be provided in a location that Randall cannot access. Randall's problem is that regardless of how little or how much food is presented to him, he will eat it all at one sitting, along with any food Morgan may have foolishly trusted he could leave for later snacking. Furthermore, later in the day, Randall will use his wiles to con more food as many times as is possible.

I guess it's a philosophical difference -- sort of like the petrified politics of the U.S. Congress.

Randall obviously is a 'fat cat' but he wants to greedily take in even more -- no concern for those with whom he should rightfully share. Morgan, more trim but not without excess fat cells, is actually the dominant 'top cat.' He will generously share, but chooses a more equitable distribution of food stuffs. If word gets around about Randall, I wouldn't be surprised at all to awaken one morning to a peaceful gathering of protestors against him -- much like the Occupy Wall Street movement mushrooming across the U. S. and the world.

Both cats spend most daylight hours outdoors enjoying watching winged adventurers in the surrounding woodsy environs that house numerous even more intriguing creeping, crawling and climbing creatures. I suspect Morgan and Randall are mostly observers of the life around them though they often disappear from my sight, but haven't gone far since they respond fairly quickly to calls. They do spend the hours from dusk to dawn indoors which pleases me. Years past I've been awakened too many times to neighbors cats courting under my bedroom window -- making sounds like a baby squalling. Such cat behavior in recent years has ceased. Unfortunately small pets of all kinds -- even those in fenced backyards -- have become victims of a few coyote packs who've moved into our city since our infringement into their wilderness territory.

About the accident, I mentioned -- I was walking down a darkened hallway and suddenly heard a squall that triggered shivers down my spine and sent me leaping -- pretty good jumping for this gal. Rushing into the lighted room was furry black Randall who I had unwittingly stepped on. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach wondering which of his body parts or how seriously he had been harmed. Randall made a hasty retreat to the top carpeted tree perch from which he looks down on all of us. His master quickly moved to comfort him as I soon followed, cautiously, slowly, extending my open hand. Randall's piercing dark eyes looked into mine as I offered soft soothing apologies. I was allowed to slightly caress a leg but faint signs of hair rising on his back admonished me to not persist.

The next two hours Randall let me ponder over the error of my ways and to soak in my guilt. Absent his forgiveness I thought I might absolve myself by writing this. During my writing, I think he may have been reading over my shoulder, because amazingly to me, Randall suddenly deliberately left his perch, resolutely crossed the room, jumped up on the footstool at my feet, stretched out facing me and fixed his gaze on mine. I slowly reached out my hand wondering if I would receive a claw-extended paw in return, or maybe a quick head lunge forward with teeth biting enough to hurt but probably not break the skin. Instead I was allowed to gradually stroke Randall's body, as he eventually purred his forgiveness.

All is right with the world. I can sleep peacefully tonight. We can all hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, September 09, 2011

9/11 REMEMBERED 10 Years Later

The sound of a ringing phone gradually began to sink into my consciousness as I slowly aroused from a deep sleep that early September 11th morning ten years ago.  Wiping the sleep from my eyes with one hand, I reached for the phone with the other.  "Hello" I answered, glancing at the clock which showed it wasn't even 6 a.m. yet.   My daughter's familiar voice responded with a noticeable tinge of anxiousness asking, "Have you been listening to any news?"  "No," I said, "I was asleep."  Immediately, I knew something was amiss for her to phone me so early though it was three hours later at her east coast home.  "Turn on your TV......" then she paused. 

I arose from bed, moving a couple feet across the small spare bedroom floor to turn on my mother’s old TV with manual push buttons that especially aided her use since she had limited vision – a set with rabbit ears antenna, dating even from before remote controls.    The picture emerging on the screen was a startling view of smoke pouring from what newsmen were identifying as one of New York City's Twin Towers.   My daughter’s tension-edged voice on the phone recounted how a commercial airline’s passenger-filled plane had flown into the World Trade Center North Tower.    Looking at that burning tower of black smoke I thought what I was seeing was the aftermath of a singular horrendous event. 

We were trying to make sense of this scene while simultaneously integrating news reports.  Suddenly another commercial airliner came into view -- flying through a lovely blue sky background on what appeared to be a peaceful day.   I was momentarily reminded of a cross country 1960's flight in a 2-seater Cessna my husband piloted taking us over NYC with the Hudson River leading us north -- long before the Twin Towers existed.   I quickly re-focused on the current day’s televised scene showing billowing mushroom-like clouds still erupting from the North Tower.  Then, 17 minutes after that first 8:46 a.m. plane disaster, we watched with unbelieving eyes the second passenger-carrying aircraft flying directly into the WTC South Tower.  

We each stared in disbelief at our TV screens, asking one another if this could actually be happening?   Surely this was like special effects for a Hollywood action disaster movie -- but we knew the scene we were seeing was reality.  For the next 35 minutes we alternated between listening to news commentators providing whatever information they could obtain about the situation, and watching incredulously the sight of both heavily damaged Tower buildings pouring clouds of smoke obliterating that blue sky.  Our eyes centered on those Towers as we heard experts and laymen alike speculating about whether or not those tall steel structures would withstand the assault to remain standing.    

I thought of family in NYC living not too far from the WTC, but hopefully trusted they were unlikely to be affected.  Suddenly the news became even more personal when we were stunned to see the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia had been victimized by a third plane.    My daughter’s voice quality became tight with tension as she realized she lived only an hour’s drive away from that site.  The distance was an uncomfortably close proximity to her home in my mind, too.     

I’m sure my daughter's thoughts were beginning to focus more on her own family’s security and whether or not there was action she needed to take.  If so – what should she do?   Instantly,  I wanted to be with her or have her and family here with me.    My mind was coming to grips with the fact I was feeling profoundly helpless to assist her in any concrete way from my California location on the opposite coast.   The most I could do at that moment was to offer a calming voice.    Much later when relatives of doomed plane passengers and those trapped in the Towers described the anguish they felt receiving final phone calls from loved ones and friends, I could empathize in some small limited degree.  But I knew my loved ones weren’t so immediately threatened as they knew theirs were.   

Television news coverage 21 minutes after the Pentagon was struck covered the collapse of the WTC South Tower.   At 9:59 a.m., less than an hour after the first plane slammed into the tower it collapsed on those who had not yet been able to descend from offices on the over 100 floors, taking the lives of some rescuers, too.    In addition to structure pieces, grimy dust, debris and sheets of confetti-like paper rained down on those below who were racing away from the site as fast as they were able

Only 4 minutes later, when we could but  wonder what might happen next, we were told there was a fourth plane of concern, but this one had earlier been lost from radar after turning back east from Cleveland, Ohio.   This airliner we eventually learned failed to reach its unknown east coast destination when passengers able to resist their plane’s hijackers caused the craft to crash in Pennsylvania fields below.  Had Washington D. C.'s White House been the target many wondered? 

Then, 25 minutes later the WTC North Tower collapsed as we were still reeling from the onslaught of these horrific never-ending events.  We watched more people covered with gray or blackened dust, dirt and debris fleeing to safety from the roiling rubbish.    Television spared us most coverage of those who had actually chosen jumping to certain death, singly and in pairs, from many high floors, knowing they could not escape the smoke, fire and falling building.   Through all this firefighters, police had been streaming into the Towers to rescue others, but all too many were unable to save their own lives with both Towers collapse.  

Incredibly all these events transpired in one hour and forty-two minutes – less than two hours.    The morning seemed much like an eternity with uncertainty as to whether there was still more to come before my daughter and I finally ended our phone connection with each other expressing our mutual love.  

This time sequence of events coupled with added official actions during this timeline can be referenced at this USA Today site.   

Long after these events, word was received that my NYC family with young children was fine.   Fortunately, they had all been away from their apartment that was situated close enough they had had a window view of the Twin Towers.   They lived within an area that became designated inaccessible so they were unable to return home and had to stay with friends for a few nights.   

Across the country we were all asked to refrain from excessive use of the phone system in the beginning to keep lines open for emergency use.   I knew life was harried under ordinary circumstances for these dear family members, so knowing they were safe made it easier to resist my desire to phone them during these difficult times. 

I recalled knowing that following the couples wedding years earlier they had celebrated with dinner on the WTC North Tower’s 107th floor’s elegant Windows on the World restaurant.  

“Weather-permitting, visitors could take two short escalator rides up from the 107th floor and visit what was the world's highest outdoor viewing platform. At a height of 1,377 feet (420 m), visitors were able to take in a view of the North Tower and New York City unlike any other. On a clear day, it was claimed that visitors could see up to 45 miles (72 km) in any given direction.”

Days, maybe even a week or so after 9/11,  I could not erase my NYC family members from my mind.    I’d had a very strong bond with the father throughout his life.   But we had both become quite caught up in our individual lives after he eventually started a family of his own in NYC on the opposite east coast from my own west coast Southern California home.     So, I made that call.  

When he answered the phone, I caught my breath upon hearing his voice.   I immediately identified myself, adding “I know you’re safe and okay…,” fully expecting to calmly engage in a rational conversation, but I don’t know what happened.  Hearing his familiar voice, I could feel emotion uncontrollably welling up from depths deep inside me.   Suddenly, I was gasping sobs, tears were overflowing from my eyes onto my cheeks and my speech was disintegrating.    I was trying desperately, but unsuccessfully, to intelligibly verbalize some meaningful words.    He quickly repeatedly reassured me, “We’re okay, Aunt Jo!  … We’re alright!” as I tried to say, “I know!  I know!  I just needed to hear the sound of your voice.” 

Today, 9/11 and always, I still think of those who are no longer able to hear the familiar voice sounds of those for whom they care so much.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Enjoy this long Labor Day weekend which I often think symbolizes the end of summer.   The school year soon resumes for those few young people who still adhere to the traditional scheduling of my youth.    Our Claremont Colleges have their students filtering onto the campuses, too.

Here in Southern California our spectacularly large month long Los Angeles County Fair has opened this weekend.    The fried specialties booths determined to outdo each other and each previous years epicurean delight (depending on your taste) promises deep-fried Kool-Aid, deep-fried mocha syrup and deep-fried watermelon.   

Many exciting acts will be appearing this month, including The Beach Boys, Leann Rimes, and Earth, Wind and Fire.   Every night precisely at 10  P.M.  I’ll hear the sounds of exploding fireworks as the southwest sky is filled with the sparkling  shimmering lights shooting upward, then fading away during their downward trajectory.   

Labor Day is an annual celebration that was first observed in 1882 in New York.  Twelve years later in 1894 Congress unanimously passed legislation President Grover Cleveland immediately signed into law establishing Labor Day a national holiday.   This was a consequence of our government’s reconciliation with the labor movement following several confrontational events, but most significantly workers deaths in a conflict with the U.S. military and U.S. Marshalls. 

Tensions between government, business and labor have persisted through the next one hundred and seventeen years to the present.     Organized labor’s influence has weakened in later  years.    Numerous factors have contributed to this situation, including a decrease in manufacturing workers as those jobs have gone to other countries.   Also, mechanization with robots has replaced some factory workers.  

Recent years the financial debacle impacting the U. S. and other nations has taken a toll on work force numbers.    Political ideologies in some state governments has resulted in labor unions being under assault as this fairness balancing act continues between public and private management with worker rights.  

Skilled labor traditionally goes to the lowest bidder which has come to be in a country other than the United States.   The “knowledge work” associated with the middle class workers is also gradually being exported as described by PeterWilby in The Guardian.    We are told that re-education will compensate for these job losses, but that solution’s reality may be debatable Wilby notes.  

Consider this, in the United States “the richest 20% own 84%  of our nation’s wealth, the second 20% own 11%, and the rest of society own 4%”  as graphically shown in a colorful pie chart at “The Chronicle” based on “a recent study by Dan Ariely, James B. Duke professor of behavioral economics…”     

If the absence of employment opportunities persists for an increasing majority of U.S. workers, I have great concern that we’re going to have a lot more unrest in this country.  

If there was ever a time when organized labor representing public and private skilled and professional workers needed to examine exactly how to best serve those they represent, that time is now.  Goals with objectives achieved through strategies of the past may need considerable re-examination and adjustment. 

Likewise, government and management need to make similar adaptations in the best interests of our nation.    Labor and management may need to work together in ways they may never have considered possible in the past because we live in an entirely different world today.   

The preservation of our nation as one that offers all of our citizens the opportunity to join the ranks of a flourishing middle class, even aspiring to greater wealth, should be a fundamental national goal.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


A situation I believed to be violating my personal rights was described here in a recent earlier article. Recapping what's been transpiring…..beginning last year I've been at odds with a Company I choose not to name, and an official in a City that will remain nameless. This is a city other than where I work, or reside.

The Company representatives and City Official have persisted in demanding I sign, under threat of perjury, that a very small income for services I rendered over a period of several years was not earned in that Official's city, though it was paid to me by a resident of that city. Sign the form, or, I must apply for that city’s business license, pay that fee and city taxes with past due interest. Since I’ve repeatedly stated I do not live or work in that city, I have, respectfully, continued to refuse to sign that form. I've said that I perceive this demand, under these circumstances, to be inappropriate, non-applicable to me, and a violation of my personal rights as guaranteed constitutionally.

From the very beginning last year I complied with the company's letter advising me that conducting business in the city required me to have the city's business license and requesting me to phone their office. I repeatedly informed them by phone that I did not have or need that city's business license, because I had not earned the money in that city, did not live in that city, and did not intend to work in that city in the future.

My response was repeatedly disregarded. I continued to be bombarded with letters and increasing numbers of forms beginning with the one for a business license. The forms were to be completed and submitted only if applicable, so, of course, I didn’t submit them. Eventually, a form for me to pay city taxes was added. Then I received an actual statement listing several years with dollar figures due for each year, plus interest for a past due amount, all totaling $200+.

My phone interaction with the Company Representative regarding this matter, initially was cordial -- until my futile efforts to resolve the situation necessitated my speaking with a supervisor. The conversation escalated into my being subjected to verbal treatment using unacceptable words, tone and manner. I determined I would no longer speak with anyone at that Company, so I phoned the City Official who had signed a letter copy sent to me that authorized this Company to represent the city.

I erroneously thought that Official would be concerned about my mistreatment from a company representing his city. Also, I naively believed the City Official would be concerned about possible taxpayer money being expended by this Company trying to collect from me a non-applicable business license and city taxes on monies previously earned elsewhere. I actually thought when I explained the situation that the City Official would quickly bring an end to my being sent what had now become harassing letters with a number of forms to read, others to complete, that did not apply to me. When I received no satisfaction, I became frustrated and angry.

Despite my feelings the City Official and I had several civil verbal phone exchanges over several weeks during the ensuing days. Eventually, we left our comments on each other’s answering machine. The pressure began escalating over a 4 day consecutive period. He daily responded to my calls in which I would rebut the revolving arguments he would present as he defined his perspective of my gradually decreasing options to end this matter. All would be resolved if I signed the form, he said. Each time I strongly stated I did not earn money in that city, did not reside there, would not sign such a non-applicable-to-me form, that none of the other options he offered were acceptable – applying for a business license and paying their city tax bill.

I finally learned how the City acquired my name, but I was also concerned they may have been in possession of personal information about me to which they had no right i.e. Social Security number. I mentioned this once but chose to not pursue that matter. I readily acknowledged being paid by a resident of their city for services rendered elsewhere when he first revealed what the Company Representative and Supervisor had repeatedly refused to tell me – because, they said, this was “confidential” information. They all may have been erroneously assuming my working for a resident in their city was secret, but that was not the case.

Once I knew the basis for the claim against me, I requested an itemized list of where and when the City Official believed I had worked in their city. A telling moment came when I was told he couldn’t give me such a list because they didn’t have one – but they had the information I had been paid monies by their city resident as though that was sufficient.

Incredibly to me, the fact they had no specific supporting documentation about where they were alleging I had actually worked in their city was not enough to result in ending the City Official's demand I sign their form, or apply for a City License and pay the tax bill. My contention was that demanding I sign the form violated my personal rights/constitutional guarantees. The City Official responded differently and discredited my belief as being nothing more than a philosophical difference between us.

Subsequently, I directed the City Official's attention to the fact that since they had no other supporting documentation, and were only in rightful accurate possession of declared payment to me by their city resident, for whom I readily acknowledged working, that they should have asked THAT person to sign their form under threat of perjury – that payments made were for services other than in their city. Again, I stated that the money I was paid was for services performed elsewhere, not in their city.

Further, I said, the person I worked for, and who paid me, was the person they should have contacted in the very beginning. I stressed that the City and the Company should never have contacted me at all, unless the information that person provided indicated I had worked in their city.

The individual for whom I worked returned from vacation, so I phoned the City Official that I would request that person provide a statement to the City and Company that the monies I had been paid were for services other than in their City.

[Later, I learned the person I worked for had informed the city, long before I was ever initially contacted, that the total monies paid to me and a few others had been for services provided in a city other than theirs .]

The City Official rejected my offer of such documentation as not being acceptable. Not only was the documentation unacceptable, but, in fact, I was told that my having refused options the City Official had offered me to sign the form, left me now out of action choices. The Company deadline date, less than a week away, continued to prevail. I was advised that within the next several months a list of names would be given to a collection agency with the implication being that my name would be on that list.

I informed the person for whom I worked of the City Official’s implied threat to include my name on a list to be submitted to a collection agency in the next few months. My employer made several phone calls to the City Official over the next two days, left messages to please call in an attempt to resolve the issue, but received no response.

The time frame for resolving this matter was becoming increasingly shorter since that last letter from the Company had a specific deadline date that was near. The person for whom I worked then phoned the Company, was able to talk with a Company Supervisor who reportedly graciously accepted the information provided and stated my case was closed.

I have maintained the importance of having the City Official also confirm that my case is closed. I don’t want my name “accidentally” appearing on a list submitted to a collection agency and my being subjected to their complications -- then my learning the hard way, after the fact, there had somehow been a “breakdown in communication” between the Company and the City with both saying "we regret that happened." I think it’s fair to say I have a bit of a trust issue that either or both entities will do the right thing.

Two or three days later the person for whom I worked was finally able to speak with the City Official (I don’t know if the Official was returning the call, if the Official finally accepted a new call, or if the Official was contacted at their office in person, as the person who employs me had said they would visit, if necessary.)

The City Official reportedly stated that my case is closed IF the Company has done so. The City Official has not contacted me to report the case is closed, but that’s acceptable to me. I have no desire to force a direct verbal mea culpa in what I have come to believe has become to a city government authority figure an issue of power and control.

This isn’t a game to me, either -- about who wins or who loses. All citizens lose if justice does not prevail. Government officials above all others should be dedicated to that principle. I do have better ways in which I would prefer to spend my time. I would think the City Official could well spend his time at taxpayer expense on more productive projects than what has seemed to me to be intimidation and coercion for monies not even due his city.

Thanks to those of you who previously offered suggestions and support on this issue. Before publishing my original article, I had already made others I thought might be interested in personal rights issues, aware of this matter. I have no idea if my experience has been singular and unique, or if this sort of activity occurs in other cities and states.

I will say this.....I have had no desire to pursue a legal court case, or law suit, subjecting a cash-strapped city to more debt, much less reaping financial gain for attorneys and/or myself. Should my name be given to a collection agency on this matter, under any circumstances, my perspective would be quite different.

In summary, the Company is reported to me by the person for whom I work to have said my case was closed. The City Official is also reported (one day before the deadline) to have agreed to my case’s closure IF the Company has closed it.

I will accept and believe my case is fully closed when I receive a dated, officially signed letter stating that fact from the Company on behalf of the City they are designated to represent.

I can assure you that I will follow-up to obtain that letter if I don’t receive one in a reasonable time.