Historiography at work

Historiography is the study of History.    It was one of my favorite mandatory seminars as a grad student at the University of Akron.

One of my friends and cohorts here in Blog Land, raised a very interesting point in  a comment on how the Historians of 100 years from now would treat the scenario in rage now of the Great Republican Plan to Obliterate the Obama Presidency.    Obviously all of us reading this will have no interaction whatsoever in the future century.   Who knows how the History of our age will be preserved, or how it will be reported to future generations.    The History of the Present hasn’t happened yet.

The Trump-Obama factionalism is too multi-faceted to tackle here.   However, the question is a good one, and leads me to ponder the basic differences between Now and Then…meaning past and future coverage of historical events.     There can be two designations here: Paper and Digital.

The most glaring difference is that what was written, published, in real books is that they were permanent.   Not necessarily the absolute authoritative sources on a given subject, but through a sort of consensus of opinions and research, and yes credentials.   In order to reach a thesis statement for a given publication, the writer presented his or her own ideas….something new, an alternate position.   There are always at least two sides to any proposition.

Here is a proposal that when it comes to Digital History, that which is presented over the internet by countless diverse sources, the information comes across only as permanent as the print-out a student or proponent, or indeed, opposition commentator, understands—or prefers to present as Truth or Falsehood—to their respective readership at any given time.

Digital History is much easier to alter, re-write, or inadvertently  distort  because of its fluidity…never permanent, always subject to a myriad of changes.    We see reports on the internet news channels… a statement made by an anchor person on CNN or Fox, MSNBC, BBC…at a given hour—that never airs again.

No one in their right mind for long will be able to watch Cable News constantly to keep up absolutely on the stream of information.    Remember when the internet was actually referred to as the Information Highway?   That was back in the 1980s, when major newspapers made the change from individual typewriters to the chaotic stream of News-all-the-Time.   Up-to-date means “constantly changing,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.


Donald Trump is going… where?

This rhyme was originally published on Sometimes in October 2015, and  I decided to re-post it again now with a new title.  The original title was:  Who You Calling Imperfect?   

That post was written in response to an assignment in the Writing 101-Poetry class, which is alo repeating at this time.



[Writing 201, Poetry.  DAY 4: Imperfect, Limerick, Enjambment–which is a technique they must have taught when I was skipping English class in high school.]

           Who you calling imperfect?

There once was a boy named Donald

Who wanted to  be rich, and grow up to be President

ha ha! said the people as he started to


but he knew what he was doing and had all the cards he needed to


and win the game

opponents screamed like angry cat matrons

and picked on his hair and his noisy patrons

but Donald just said they should “lump it!”

You haven’t a chance, you’re not one of us, they wailed

“is that so?” said Donald as he placed a standing order for tea and crumpets

to serve to his fans to keep them from starving on the campaign trail

His crowd of the faithful grew and grew

’til they…

View original post 12 more words

A Gift for Baby


               A GIFT FOR BABY

Hey little baby, what do you say?
I’ve brought you a gift for your birthday.
I think it will be your favorite gift,
I know you will savor it as long as you have it.

Among the bears and baby dolls,
Rattles and things of lullabies,
This gift is perfect for chewing
and feels good to the gums.

This Book is the best gift of all.
With word sounds as nice as they feel.
More precious than other gift buys
That are poorly regarded and soon discarded.

No hard decisions came to mind when
deciding what present to buy.
Price was no object yet the gift that I chose
is not pricey…but priceless.

Literacy the goal–many years hence–
tactile and visual treats for the senses.
All the prerequisites in content and theme
are tactful, thoughtful, and tasty.


Literate for a Day


grand central station draft

the grand central station of the universe
souls of the travelers
lost in time
waiting eternally for their Lost Ones
waiting for the other shoe to drop
searching for the One that has come and gone
taking along the tattered and lonely souls
and broken hearts existing on the edge
and biding their time in waiting

What track is this?
did I miss my connection?
How far have I traveled afar and wide
should I have waited?
waited for you to return, even though you
said you wouldn’t…or couldn’t
did you say you should not?
though I know you wanted to.

There was never time to see it through
to a conclusion, whatever that could have been
is lost in a never-ending conundrum
what would have happened?


It’s Here! It’s Here! It’s Here !

I’m still not breathing at 100%, but so far, so good.

WHAT is here?

I have been as anxious as a kid on Christmas morning, waiting patiently for it to arrive.

The song going through my head:   “I’m so Excited!  I just can’t hide it–I’m about to lose control, and I  think I like it!”

Yep, Windows10, the fabled new “best Windows ever!” version.

I’m cautiously optimistic.  So far I like Windows10 a lot, and they keep sending me little notes saying things like:  “How do you like it  so far?”   “Would you recommend 10 to your friends?”   “Do you like our adorable commercial featuring the adorable toddlers from all over the world who will ‘grow up with Windows10’ ?”

They needn’t think that I’m going to fall for that sweet-talk.   I’m going to wait until I have a chance to look it over.  They know how much I HATED Windows 8.1.   Everyone I know knows how much I detested it.   I don’t speak for everyone else in the world, but I don’t care if they “like” or “don’t mind” 8.1   But that’s just me.

Windows95, Windows98, Vista, XP, I liked Windows7…in fact 7 is the version was on my laptop (which I am writing this article on as we speak.  It was infinitely superior to Windows8, which came with my new “mainframe” computer (as I like to call it) last year…being the ONLY choice available on the very day I bought the PC.  It came equipped with Windows8, then immediately (like the next day) 8.1 hit cyberspace in an effort to compensate for the shortcomings of 8.

Oh–woe!   My experiences with photos came to a screeching halt…and my eBay and other images suffered.  I discovered by searching online that Windows8.1 had a “known issue” with Photo Gallery, and I had a heck of a time with trying to get the my pictures from my camera onto my published work.

Let me hasten to say that I am not a newbie computer person…I had my first computer in 1983, practically the dawn of everyday-people-with-computers.  I was the first kid on my block to have one.   It was a Kaypro2 (that’s a Roman numeral Two () II but it appears as two “Ls” and I certainly don’t want anyone to think it was called a Kayproll.  Good grief.

For those who are interested, my WordPress blog post entitled Rise of the Machines, published this spring, details my adventures in setting up and teaching myself to operate the computer. https://mumbletymuse.com/2015/01/26/rise-of-the-machine/

So I’m giving Windows10 the old college try.     It’s fast,  looks good, and seems to have banished the evil gremlins  to Computer-Hell.

Word Police–stop editing our dictionary

[Warning: Not Politically Correct]

The Word Police are at it again.  We aren’t allowed to say the word “thug.”

Thug is NOT a racist word.  It is a term coined back in the olden days to describe a certain type of criminal–almost invariably a white (caucasian) male..

Just consider, please, the uses of the word in common useage… here is a short list, and I apologize if it is narrow in application.  Possibly there is some generation-specific meanings, but none of them refer to any racial group.  Basically there are two main classifications that immediately come to (my) mind:

1. “Jack-booted thugs,” which in common useage refers to military or government troops that go around smashing things and beating people with clubs.  They wear heavy leather-boots that are very effective.  The jack-boots are actually bigger than life, and as the saying goes, twice as ugly.  These are the “storm troopers” of another era, but hey–a thug by any other name is still a thug.

2. so-called “union thugs.”   We heard a lot about these guys back in the days of the union fights.  The picture that one might conjur up is of a stocky muscular white guy–remember Bluto the villain of the Popeye comics?   If not, he  was a big bruiser (another bad word for the Word Police to add to their list) who regularly attempted to whip Popeye’s butt, but always got beaten up himself by the end of the comic strip.


3. “Street thugs,” as they were known, allegedly blustered about just committing stupid and intimidating actions against innocent bystanders.   My version of these guys includes bullies who beat up other kids in school with no apparent reason (like robbery) but just for the heck of it.

I think it is noteworthy to mention that in other countries, such as the UK and much of Europe, the types of characters I think of as “thugs” — are known as “Hooligans.”

Stereotypical Hooligans are those that show up at soccer (fubol) or other sports events, and if their team doesn’t win (or DOES win, sometimes) take the opportunity to beat up the players, bystanders, fans, passers-by…and create general havoc in stadiums or nearby city streets.

I hasten to point out here that the term “Thug” is relative.  Some people think that I am very opinionated about things like words and…well lots of things.  This is true.

If there is a stereotype thug, then HE (although women can be thugs, they are not usually thought of in that light.  Please don’t take any of my ramblings about  word-use as sexist.    There are special words for women, but all I wish to say about that is that “thug” isn’t really appropriate for a woman.

So–Word Police–please stop looking for excuses to turn everything anyone says into fodder for Political Correctness.

(Most Popeye paraphernalia remains under copyright in the United States until 2024.   This drawing of Bluto is in the public domain.)

Diagram Discussion …on Page 29

[Day 14, Writing101.  Write about a word on page 29 of the nearest book.]

The nearest book is on a shelf over my left shoulder.  It is on a shelf with a book on Tai Chi, Laughing, and one on the Tarot.  The one I touched first is called Ribbon Basics, by Mary Jo Hiney & Joy Anckner.   It is a book on needlework.   The word that jumps out at me, on page 29,  is:  DIAGRAM.

Let me say that I love needlework almost as much as I love writing.

The difference, now that I think about it, in Writing and Needlework is related– and in some ways reaches a similar goal, which is expression of myself.  In writing all that is really needed is a pencil and paper, or a computer keyboard or equivalent.  Written material flows from deep within me, as with any writer…it stems from a memory or a correlation or a spark of a word or phrase, or picture.

When it comes to needlework of any kind, my original ideas are few and far between.  Faced with a blank piece of fabric I have no idea where to begin.  Add a variety of colored thread or yarn, I might be able to produce a very simple piece of art, limited to a geometric design or a stick-figure outline.  A simple flower-like design could be in storage in my brain, but when it comes to free-form art creation that just isn’t in my talent box.

So what is needed for someone like me to produce a work of art that could approach gift-quality, would require a DIAGRAM.  In my instruction book at hand, the authors have created wonderfully beautiful wall-hangings and pictures, bouquets fashioned with deftness of hands and creativity that could only be genetic in artistic accomplishment.

Sure, I could create something that would approach a piece of needlework that could be acceptable…say to my mother or a beloved aunt…who would cherish it as something that had been created by Me.  The worth  of it would be sentimental, or possibly it could have some intrinsic value if I used gold thread on precious antique velvet.   It would never be a collectors’ item, or be displayed in a museum…unless the maker were famous for some other pursuit–not for embroidery skills or working with ribbon.

The Diagrams in this book are intricate and precise, and the results breath-taking in their beauty even on the printed page.

To draw an analogy here, I suppose one could draw a parallel with Life–perhaps an opposite effect.  Life does not come with a diagram, with colors and spaces all mapped out to fill in various stages of living skills.  Life evolves spontaneously, with guidance and influence–to be sure–but the finshed product (or perhaps I should better say the “work in progress” can not be set out in a diagram as can be a needlepoint picture.

The little red sweater…point of view

[DAY NINE, Writing 101 prompt.]

The day was warm and sunny, although the occasional breeze made the elderly woman glad that she had worn a light sweater over her faded bluejeans and tee shirt.  She wore a straw sun hat, with a big sunflower design on it.   She often sat in the park on nice days, watching squirrels, or kids, or people strolling along or walking fast with their heads down.    Today the woman had her bright geometric print knitting bag, and was working away at a patch of knitting that appeared to be about a foot square.

The woman noticed the couple walking slowly along on an adjacent path, and peered at them from under the brim of her hat.  She had not seen them before, the tall pleasant looking man with the aluminum walking cane, and the pretty, fairly small  woman wearing office-clothes and a small purse tucked up under her arm.  They appeared to be in the mid-30s, and both looked serious…not to say somber, not really sad either.  (She was also a writer, and kept her long habit of observing potential “characters” as she went about her daily activities.)

The man’s eyes filled with tears, which he quickly wiped away with his upper arm…holding the cane.  wow, where did that come from?  Something about that old lady with the bright red yarn…reminds me of a sweater Grandma knitted for me that year she stayed with us.  I was fascinated with the way her hands and the knitting needles worked together, and the way the big ball of yarn just seemed to work up into the smooth knitted fabric… like magic.   Grandma was the person I loved most in the world… I was just six at the time, and I was her only grandchild.  She used to say how much I meant to her, and how lucky she was to be blessed with a grandson.   Hmmm, funny how that struck me when I saw that woman.

The man brushed something from the corner of his eye, and laughed at himself.

The young woman also noticed the Knitting Lady, and the bright red needlework in her hand.  A sweater for a new grandchild…wonder why she chose red?  Oh that’s an odd thought, why not red?  The new baby would get several sweaters…yellow, maybe pink or blue.  It must be lovely to be a grandmother…once a woman is a mother that is the natural thing.  I know that I will never have a baby, let alone a grand-baby.    My chance at motherhood has come and gone…left on a battlefield in Iraq.  But I hate it when I think like that…my husband and my only love has returned to me.  I guess that little red sweater stirred my motherly instincts…

The young woman smiled to herself, and she and her husband continued on their way.

The Knitting lady finished another row of the swatch of red fabric attached to her knitting needles, and inspected the work, counting stitches forming the beginning  of the leg holes across the fabric.  Satisfied, she gathered her things, wound  the excess of the red yarn onto the ball, and inserted the ends of the needles into it to secure them for the trip home.

She needed to finish that little sweater before her sister arrived for the weekend.

Well this is the last time I am going to waste perfectly good yarn, and my time, on that little mutt.  “If you eat THIS sweater, Miss Prissy, you can just freeze!”

More about airports, and the people who love–or hate them

The most obnoxious seat-mate I ever encountered on an airplane, was all dressed up and carrying a briefcase. This man had apparently had a bad day, or an unproductive sales trip, for he was not happy when he arrived at his designated seat and found me sitting in the aisle seat next to his. He was annoyed to realize that he would have to climb over me to get into his seat by the window.

At about the same time that my seat partner arrived, a happy group of senior citizen types began to take their seats ahead of us, two of them directly in the row ahead. These people had been to Cancun, Mexico, where they had evidentally enjoyed the many and varied attractions of the Mexican tourist city, and were laden with souveniers.

They had a large piñata, shaped like a bird, in addition to a couple of plastic bags with store names on them.  In high spirits, they were creating a slight commotion stowing their bags and packages in the over-head compartment, and underneath the seats. With a lot of thumping and bumping of the seats, and hustle-bustle in general, the front neighbors were changing seats. They were talking to each other in animation, and calling to others in their travel group, who were getting into their seats in nearby rows. They were not particularly loud, just animated, as people are when having fun with people that they know.

My seat-mate waited in the aisle for a very short time while those ahead of us arranged themselves in their seats, fiddled with their seat-belts, adjusting the ceiling air-ducts. There was a moment of aggravation as the seats jiggled and thudded.   The man was sort of sighing in exasperation, and muttering loudly about the disturbance the revelers were creating.

I had intended from the beginning to offer to change seats with the guy in the suit. Usually it is immaterial to me if I sit by the window, as the novelty wears off as soon as the plane emerges from the cloud cover and obscures the view of the ground. I do enjoy watching the plane as it backs away from the gate, and the exhilarationasf the engines rev up for the lift-off.   Air travel is inherently exciting regardless of how many times I flew. I admit to wanting to appear cool and collected, and to match my air of nonchalance with the perceived sophistication of fellow passengers on a given flight.

Besides, I am usually either asleep, or engrossed in a novel by the time the plane actually leaves the terminal. So I am glad to switch seats with someone who prefers to sit in the aisle seat. especially someone with long legs to fold into the cramped area under the seat ahead.

Well the guy was so irritated by the efforts of the forward passengers to get themselves seated and buckled-in…nothing more than normal settling in….and especially not being able to fit his briefcase into the overhead mainly  because of the piñata.    As the man ahead turned to glance backward as he sat down, my seat-mate threw him an incensed angry look, and also gave the front seat a thump in irritation.

At this point I was still going to ask the guy if he wanted to switch seats, but before I had a chance he was proceeding to squeeze by me as I sat in the seat.  He banged the briefcase against my knee, and plopped into the seat next to the window.

Now I…always forgiving…STILL would have traded seats with him, but he slammed the window shade down.  Acting like an ass might be excuseable, but closing off the view was not something I could  forgive.

OK, idiot…sit there.

He huffed and puffed and sighed all the way to Cleveland.  And when we pulled up to the concourse I stood up and waited until all of the passengers in the back of the plane had passed by our row before I stepped into the aisle, and he had to wait while I struggled with my carry-on from the overhead.


I recognized the blue, blue eyes in a stranger

[Day 6, Characterization Exercise, WRITING 101.]

Note: this person may be fictious.

I was having some Mcnuggets and a chocolate shake, at a familiar fast-foods place where I had dined countless times before. It seemed odd that I had never before noticed the woman with the broom.

Knocking over the shake was accidental, a careless flick of the hand. It made a “flup” sound as the paper cup crashed to the floor, and sort of exploded like toothpaste, spreading in a mess on the floor. In a moment of quiet horror we both stared at the substance flowing onto the floor, its whipped cream and cherry floating out gently like an island.

As I sat there agape, the woman sprang into action. Abandoning her broom, which was useless against the icy goo, she dashed to the paper-napkin dispenser (over by the pop machine) and grabbed a handful. She deftly gathered up the spill, cleaning the floor as I sat there dumb-founded, trying to think of what to do.

The least I could do was to buy the woman a coffee. She sunk down, tired, across from me in the booth. She sighed deeply, as if she had just completed a demanding and complicated task.

AGGIE…her name tag read.

Getting over my embarrassment and fluster, I actually looked at her for the first time.
Recovering my usual aplomb, clever words escaped my lips:

“Is your name really Aggie?”

The woman, who explained that her real name was Agnes, which she actually preferred…but everyone called her Aggie. She always put up with it because that’s how it was.

I peered at her closely, observant as if I was creating her character. Her hair had evolved into a pale golden-rose color, with a good dash of heavy cream. Like the color of my cat…which is a good thing. She was a small woman, but tall at the same time, I thought. Let’s see… if I were called upon to describe her…I’d say she moved as if she were floating. Her voice was soft and slightly-accented, filled with adjectives and strange tones…yes, vocal tones. Her blue, blue eyes, like glistening glaciar ice melting in the deceptive Arctic sun seemed very familiar.

She reminded me somehow of a past time in my own life. Agnes (as I decided to call her,) had not always been a cleaner in a fast-food place, this was simply an old lady’s found-job that gave her a bit of cash for extras above her subsistence pension.

Aggie had traveled to places during her lifetime that had shaped her way of life, always what her mother had called a “free-spirit.” She followed her own trail, especially in the mountains, which she loved. She had known love, and what passed as love, “…and sex, which didn’t even pretend to be love,” she whispered shyly, with a little laugh.

Suddenly the blue eyes grew even clearer, brighter than the glistening blue of melting ice–eyes I knew well. (It struck me that this thought-description might be rather excessive, as I do tend toward purple prose as the critics call it, although some thoughts just need to be over-stated.) I am reminded of other blue, blue eyes that reside in my heart, bringing back memories.

The time and the tale were short. Aggie was on a break, after all, but in the present all of her past–and my own–came to light. Sometimes we can see ourselves reflected in a chance encounter with a stranger.

When leaving the restaurant I paused at the door, and looked back, but Agnes was nowhere to be seen.