Archive for January, 2010

REMEMBERING J. D. SALINGER

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

J. D. Salinger died the 18th of January at the age of 91 and The Huffington Post published some quotes of Salinger in his memory (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/28/jd-salinger-quotes-best-s_n_440771.html). Personally, I liked Salinger and especially “Franny and Zooey”; what I liked best about Salinger was the literary honesty.

Just for the fun of it, I made a comment on each of his quotes from Huffington Post; it was an act of honesty on my part. For what it is worth, here are Salinger’s quotes and my comments in italics:

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

Damn, I wondered where everyone went.

“Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.”

Grand entrance is phony; twenty grand is big money.

“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody!”

Who wants flowers when you are dead, indeed; hell, who wants visitors when you’re dead?

“If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she is late. Nobody.”

Hormones always rule!

“I’m sick of liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.”

Hmmm! I don’t even like any people anymore and have only met a couple of people that I can respect, other than my mother, and they are all dead. Come to think of it, I have actually had a talked with Jesus about a couple of his faults; Thank God, Jesus has a great sense of humor.

“I am the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.”

Damn it, I cannot lie; those pants really do make her look fat.

“Its funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

This is the philosophy of politics and marriage proposals.

It was a stupid thing to do. I’ll admit it, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it.”

That behavior is called naivety or realistically, coping.

“That is the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘F*** you’, right under your nose.”

Avoid owning real estate and remember that ‘good fences make good neighbors’.

RUSH LIMBAUGH AND HAITI

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In all the pictures of victims of the Haiti earthquake, dead or alive that I have seen on television, were there any victims as fat as Rush Limbaugh; why does that cause me to question the veracity of Limbaugh’s commentary on the Haitian disaster?

A MOCKERY OF THE US CONSTITUTION BY THE US SUPREME COURT; COURT APPROVES BUYING AND SELLING ELECTIVE OFFICE

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

In the Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court in a 5 to 4 decision declared that statues by Congress that limited political contributions of corporations, was unconstitutional (Kansas City Star News: http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/21079).

Justice Kennedy for the majority wrote: When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.

It appears that Justice Kennedy is protecting the voter’s right to freedom of speech, by giving corporations First Amendment Rights to tell him what to think; then Kennedy twists his illogical and unconstitutional thinking around by saying the first amendment confirms the freedom of citizens to think for ‘ourselves’. Obviously, there are a few conflicting messages being sent by Justice Kennedy and it appears to me that Kennedy is making a mockery of the US Constitution.

Justice Kennedy tries to be careful to say that he is NOT preserving the Constitutional right of the corporation, Citizens United, and justly so; corporations are not citizens or even a person and therefore are not entitled to Civil Rights under the Constitution. But then, Kennedy for all purposes grants Civil Rights and freedom of speech to corporations, by virtue of citizens having a right to freedom to listen to an entity that is not entitled to freedom of speech; personally, this totally boggles the mind and in my estimation makes a mockery of the US Constitution.

A corporation is a legal entity created by the authority of the laws of a state or nation. Yet Kennedy insists that the State or Nation that created that corporation cannot limit its powers because of all voters’ freedom of speech (or is it just the voters favoring the candidate getting the corporate contribution?).

A “corporation” is more nearly a method than a thing, and the law, in dealing with a corporation need not define it as a person or entity, or even as an embodiment of functions, rights and duties. Farmers Loan and Trust Company v. Pierson 222 N.Y.S. 532.

A great majority of Americans do not have an adequate grasp of the law or the Constitution, to understand what this Supreme Court has done, despite the mandate given public schools to educate students in the US Constitution, government, law, and economics. Ignorance in these matters is America’s greatest threat to the American democratic Republic and the media has made no effort to enlighten Americans. We have seen elected officials and the courts taking advantage of the ignorance of the people in regard to government and the Constitution in recent years, and the freedom and liberty of individuals has been diminished; it represent a real threat to American democracy.

The emphasis of the government and public schools has been more to promote unregulated capitalism and freedom for corporations than an understanding of the liberty and Constitutional Rights of the people. Yet it would appear more important for the American democratic Republic, if the people realized that a corporation is not a citizen of the USA; a corporation does not take oath to uphold and protect the US Constitution; and a corporation as such does not have Civil Rights; nor does it owe loyalty to the USA; nor have any capacity to be patriotic; nor to be compassionate toward any living beings. The words capitalism and corporation do not appear anywhere in the United States Constitution. As cited above, “a corporation is more nearly a method than a thing”. It is time that the people and the courts of America quit treating corporations like a loyal, true and blue, caring American patriots; they are not. A corporation is more nearly a method than even a thing, Justice Kennedy; why can’t you and the Supreme Court understand that.

Presidents, Congressmen, and State and Local officials have for some time now been elected by dollars and media ads, instead of a democratic election by voters. Whichever candidate can buy the media appears to get the citizens vote and the contributors get elected candidate’s favors. In every election, the media makes a mint of money from the contributions to political campaigns by wealthy corporations and labor unions.

There is nothing in the US Constitution that allows or forbids the purchasing of elected office, but the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission have seemingly made purchasing elective office by a corporation, the corporation’s Constitutional Right. If a corporation has a Constitutional right to buy a President, it appears that the Supreme Court would also agree that a corporation has a Constitutional Right to purchase a US Supreme Court Justice appointed by that President (could the Supreme Court and corporations have a conflict of interest here?).

According to the US Constitution, America is a democratic Republic, of the people, for the people and by the people; this means democratic elections. If elections are determined by media and ads purchased by wealthy corporations, America’s elections are not the least democratic. It appears to a lot of Americans including myself that what this democratic Republic needs, is a Constitutional Amendment to provide democratic elections determined by the qualifications of the candidates in the candidates own words; this would allow voters to make up their own mind, which Justice Kennedy believe is important to free speech. There is no question in American’s mind that the media and corporations are totally biased; there is no such thing as a “fair and unbiased” media despite some TV network’s claims! Certainly corporations have no obligation to be unbiased.

The media operates on the Constitutional guarantee provided by the people to “freedom of the press”, and on air waves, which are the property of the American people. Consequently, radio and TV are required to provide some form of public interest time, as they should be. Radio, TV, and newspapers should all be required to provide candidates limited space and time to present their own qualifications to the people and given equal time, free of charge, as public service in exchange for the people providing them their rights to exist; all paid ads should be prohibited and political office should not be for sale in America! The purchase of public office in America today, is shameful. A fair and equitable election should be a public trust in a democracy.

Justice Kennedy’s Constitutional logic in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission is Constitutional baloney. Because of decisions like this from the Court, America needs a strong and concise Constitutional Amendment to provide for democratic elections to prevent elective office from being bought and sold as it is in America today. I would encourage every American citizen who believes in the American Democratic Republic to demand their elected officials provide a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee democratic elections throughout America.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IN SWITZERLAND; THE ADVENTURE

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Part II: Nostalgia in Der Schweiz

There is no doubt that I treasure the five years that I lived in Schaffhausen Switzerland; it was like being in Disneyland every day for me, and I do fully appreciate Disneyland. This is not to say that I do not savor the memories of my childhood in Decatur Illinois or that I have not truly enjoyed most of my life spent living in San Diego California and endless summer. However, it is well known that I truly became so affected with Swiss culture that my Swiss nephew, Michel, once told me, “Richi, you are most Swiss person that I know.”

The Swiss are a proud people and I think that was a compliment. I know that I thoroughly enjoyed every daily new adventure that I experienced living in Switzerland; I never tired of it. My American friends believed I had contracted some kind of European disease because I enjoyed living there so much.

When I arrived for this Christmas holiday in Switzerland, as I have said, Marlisa was down and out with a severely strained back and could hardly walk or move and I arrived with a broken foot, which is not serious but somewhat limiting. With her aching with every move and my gimping, our adventures were limited for the first couple of weeks; we never left the house except for me to walk to the store for groceries. Time heals.

Slowly, Marilsa recovered and my limping improved and we were able to do some short trips with Marlisa carefully walking rigidly and me limping onto trains, visiting old friends, and rediscovering old places; we did enjoy ourselves for the holiday in spite of our inflictions. On our first outing, we made a trip on a Sunday to Rapperswil, a city and castle on the southern end of Lake Zurich, Zurich being on the northern end. Rapperswil had a Christmas market that day and I enjoyed gimping along with Marlisa, walking as if on eggs; we both enjoyed the sights. There was snow and cold; lots of cold. Marlisa bought a nice imitation fur trimmed hood to wear; typically, I bought a grilled bratwurst.

The train ride through the Töss River Valley, to get to Rapperswil, was spectacular. The spectacle observed through my train window was like a Christmas card, a winter wonderland and bitter cold; personally, I sucked up all the heat on the train while enjoying the scenery.

On, January 6, 2010, Marlisa worked all day and I was left to my own devices. I chose, of course, to spend the day in my old haunts of Schaffhausen; for me it was going home. Actually, I deemed it a necessity to go to Schaffhausen because I sorely needed a haar schnitt (haircut) and I desperately wanted to go to my legendary Schaffhausen barber, Rosario; I had some shopping to do, too.

When I first arrived in Winterthur, I bought a monthly pass for using any train or bus in the Zürich Kanton (a political subdivision like a county and there are 26 Kantons in Switzerland). It cost 112 CHF for a month (CHF is Swiss francs and with a cheap dollar, it is about 100 and some dollars). Winterthur, Zürich, and Rapperswil are all in Zürich Kanton. Therefore with my pass, I ride without further payment, any train within the Kanton and any bus, city or intercity, within the Kanton. It is a bargain because public transportation is all I ever use in Switzerland; it is convenient because there is no place to park your car in Switzerland and you don’t have to buy gas, license, or insurance. This caused me again to add up how much my car costs each month, and a car in Switzerland is an inconvenience in my mind.

It takes 35 minutes by train to go to Schaffhausen from Winterthur. The city of Winterthur is in the Kanton of Zürich and the town of Schaffhausen is in the Kanton of Schaffhausen. The two Kantons are separated by the Rhein River and the last train station where the train stops in Zürich Kanton is Dachsen (which always reminds me of a wiener shaped dog); so with my Zürich monthly pass I only have to pay from Dachsen to Schaffhausen, or 6.20 CHF. This brings up an interesting aspect of Swiss culture. There are three trains from Winterthur to Schaffhausen and only two of them make a stop at Dachsen; the other train’s last stop in Zürich Kanton is Andelfingen which if further from Schaffhausen Kanton that Dachsen, so with my Zürich pass, it cost more to ride that train. I was admonished to be sure to take the cheaper train with my ticket or I could be in trouble if I rode the more expensive one. I don’t know why, but that kind of logic fascinates me.

Now when I visit my former home of Schaffhausen, it is an emotional experience for me. I get a little teary eyed at seeing the old number four bus stranding across from the train station, patiently waiting for me to get on to go home and instead I pass it on by. I am greeted at the platz by the Whoopee statute on a fountain, really a statute of Kasper of the three wise men and Black, who resembles Whoopee Goldberg to me. I salute Whoopee and enter the platz where I am strictly in my element.

Time wise, the priority of my visit is getting a haircut, so Rosario’s barber shop is where I am heading. It is close to noon, and Rosario closes for lunch so therefore, I must see when he will return. I don’t miss seeing anything as I walk along. There are some changes that I can remember. The old Spaghetti Factory Restaurant is now the Santa Lucia but no change in the tasteful decor.

At Rosario’s, I check the hours on the door and find he does not cut hair from 11:45AM until 1:15PM. This is typical Swiss; law requires school students and workers have one and one half hours off for lunch. It is part of the culture. Personally, I am always reminded that all the years that I taught school or worked in a factory, I never had more than 30 minutes for lunch and suffered indigestion for the next half of my work day; American culture causes indigestion.

Decisions come easy in Schaffhausen, for me. I head for the Sittich Bar for lunch. The Sittich Bar is an institution to me. The bar is in a Medieval building and is part of the Sittich Hotel and Restaurant and is my favorite “watering hole”. But today, my purpose is food and I choose to go into the restaurant and have pork cutlet, rösti (hash brown potatoes), and vegetable (also Kirsh or squash soup and salad) with a glass of beer; it is great food. Rosaria is not eating in the Sittich today; when I lived there in Schaffhausen, I used to see Rosario in the Sittich Bar for lunch from time to time.

When I get to the barbershop, there are two young men there ahead of me but no Rosario. He arrives after I do, in a flurry, taking off his coat and making a grand entrance; I have not seen him for two years now. He turns to me fully extending his arm and hand and says in monotone English, “Hello! How are you?”

My thought was that he had been practicing to greet me for two years to greet me.

Taken somewhat by surprise, I can only greet him with, “Grüetzi!”

“Canadian,” he asks, “American, or British?”

Dummy me; I cannot remember whether I told him Canadian or American because after Bush’s wars made America unpopular, I began identifying myself as Canadian because the American State Department issued warnings to us living overseas not to appear to be American in public.

“American,” I relied truthfully, “from California.”

Rosario motioned for me to sit in the barber chair; I pointed to the two young men waiting and he shook his head no, they were just there to talk to him, perhaps mafia interns (this is a joke). Except for me and the locals, the only language in Rosario’s is Italian.

I am a little disappointed at being first because I can’t look at the Italian magazines while waiting (lots of nudity in them). So the ritual haircut begins; Rosario is one of a kind barber. He talks continuously with visitors in Italian, waving his hands, comb, shears, or straight razor in the air as he talks and I enjoy every minute of my haircut even though I don’t understand a word. They laugh a lot and even if the joke is on me, I enjoy it. I tell him in my broken German that he is a better barber than any barber in America; he grins proudly and takes particular care cutting my hair.

Now Rosario has always had a hair cutting trademark. Where other barbers brush off loose hair with a brush or hair blower, Rosario blows off loose hair with his mouth; whouf, whouf, whouf, usually in threes. The first time it happened, I was startled, but after that I worried about my looking forward to it; he has good breath.

So Rosario is cutting my hair and he stops and picks up a brush and brushes off the loose hair; gee, I wonder, is this the Rosario that I know and admire? Later, he stops, picks up the hair dryer, and blows off some loose hair as he finishes up; I feel disappointed. Now, he is taking a straight razor and trimming around my ears with a dry razor. He blows off loose hair with the hair dryer and then starts clipping away little mistakes with the scissors. And then, suddenly, whouf, whouf, whouf and he is blowing loose hair off my neck with his mouth. Bravo! Bravissimo! My hair cut experience is fulfilled and Rosario holds up a mirror for me to see the back of his masterpiece.

“You know that I came all the way from America just to have you cut my hair,” I told him seriously and he grinned.

I paid him, over tipping, and told him, “Auf Wiederseh”, Swiss German for goodbye and went out the door.

“Hey!” Rosario yelled as he opened the door after me, “I am Swiss but Italian-Swiss!”

“Arrivederci!” I yelled back to the maestro and he smiled and closed the door.

TO BE CONTINUED

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY, 2010; RESPECT FOR A PROPHET OR A REBUKE

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Personally, I am a child of the Great Depression, an adolescent survivor of World War II, and a participant in the American Civil Rights Movement; on this Martin Luther King Day, 2010, I find myself an old undistinguished patron of liberty and failed patriot of the American democratic Republic. I have mixed feelings about celebrating Martin Luther King Day; Martin Luther King was my prophet extraordinaire, savior of American democracy, and defender of the Christian Faith in a sadistic wicked secular American society; I am not convinced that MLK Day as a national holiday in America is a fitting tribute to one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest moral personalities and prophet.

Hearing the strains of “I Shall Overcome” music ringing in today’s society, would make me teary eyed because I would not expect it in this day void of the Promised Land of my hero, Martin Luther King. However, I cringe at hearing stories on TV about what MLK Day Means To Me, hearing some American saying in ignorance that “Martin Luther King was a black man who turned the other cheek and shamed the White Population into sharing public rest rooms” or, “Martin Luther King was a poor man who was carried to his grave in a farm wagon pulled by a mule, but was such a nice man that Congress made his birthday a national holiday”.

In my estimation, Martin Luther King is the most misunderstood, misrepresented American hero in American history books. Martin Luther King Jr. is made to look like some poor ignoramus who got lucky and shattered the barriers of American segregation, intolerance, and bigotry which is wrong on all counts; King was not poor, not ignorant, he was well educated and barriers of segregation, intolerance and bigotry continue in American society today. Therefore, I see America’s Martin Luther King national holiday as sham unworthy of the greatness of my American hero.

To me, Martin Luther King was a man of God who fought a political battle against intolerance and denial of American Constitutional rights to former African slaves, contending all along that in winning rights for the Black population he was actually freeing the White population of their burden of suppressing the freedom of America’s Black citizens and the loss of their contributions to the greatness of America and to society. As a learned Christian theologian, King was also a Christian prophet who was determined to restore the compassion of Christ and the message of Jesus Christ back into the American Christian churches that had participated in and perpetuated the injustices of American segregation; MLK Day, in reality, should be celebrated as a religious holiday was well as a political holiday.

On this 2010 Martin Luther King day, I expect celebrants on television to show excerpts from King’s “I Had a Dream” speech, and Christian Churches in the Land will ignore the Prophet’s message all together or refer to King as a political advocate of desegregation (despite the fact that the most prominent example of racial segregation was found at 9 o’clock Sunday morning). As beautiful as King’s “I Had a Dream” speech is, for me it does not represent the true message of the prophet, Dr. King; in my estimation, King’s “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” and the sermons of King from the book “A knock at Midnight”, especially ‘Loving Your Enemies’, are better examples of the prophet’s message to America.

Today, I am an old man and have witnessed the beginning of the Twenty-First Century as an Era Of American History that I had hoped never to see; the years 2000 to 2008 were years of unwarranted American wars, death, and destruction; a sadistic America practicing torture of other living beings; violations of Constitutional rights of Americans; and violations of International Law and Human Rights. I look back on those years and mourn for my American democratic Republic. The teachings of Martin Luther King were totally abandoned, only a meaningless MLK holiday from work remained, and the teaching of King were replaced by an uncompassionate and materialistic “Project for the New American Century”, using America’s military might for dominating the economy of the world to America’s advantage.

Today, 2010, an olive branch of peace extended to the world and Muslim Third World nations by America’s first Black President is mocked by his American opposition as surrender, American weakness, and betrayal of office by President Obama. One can only wonder how these detractors of peace, compassion, and the human dignity of mankind will celebrate this Martin Luther King Day of 2010. By all appearances, the meaning of Martin Luther King has been lost entirely by the American people in the Twenty-First Century; King’s Promised Land has become a nightmare.

If Dr. King were to have a choice today, would he rather abandon Martin Luther King Day entirely and replace it with “Love Your Enemies Day”; it would be a much more meaningful memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

WHY DO REAL CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA NOT DEFEND THEIR FAITH?

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Without doubt, I will make lot of Christians in America hate me for this, but I assure you that I am not anti Chistian and that to me, compassionate Christians praying for the earthquate Christians in Haitii, represent the true following of Jesus Christ. However, I think it is time and actually past time for those real Christian people and especially Christian leaders speak out and Condemn psuedo Christians like Rev. Pat Robertson who are the cause of non Christian people in the world hating America.

In response to the Haitii earthquake, the very reverend Christian Pat Robertson made these remarks: “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about,” Robertson said Tuesday on his 700 Club show. “They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.” There is more found at this Washington Post link:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/undergod/2010/01/

haiti_the_devil_and_pat_roberton.html?hpid=talkbox1

It is Christians of this ilk that create hatred from abroad for both, Americans and Christians, and are the incentives for terrorists attacking America. But legitimate Christians do not speak out againsts the Christian Pat Robertsons in America and when people like me do, we are labeled. anti Christian by Rev. Robertson and no other Christians defend us. Your silence condemns.

“Many sins are committed in the name of God”; believe it and these are the ones who make the font page of the Washington Post for the rest of the world to see.

If Christians want the respect that Jesus Christ deserves, it is time they spoke up about the sins committed in his name and quit bashing people who do, other religious groups, and people who judge Christianity by the acts of Christians like Rev. Pat Robertson.

I felt obligated to write this in spite of its controversian nature (though I do not even consider it controversial); it is my beleif that if a Christian loves Jesus Christ, he or she will stand up and defend His name. So if you consider me to be the bad Christian, for writing this then I can only believe that you and Rev. Pat Robertson are in the same pew. Shame on you. Right now, the inhabitants of earth have no idea on who holds the patent for the distinctive name of Christian.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY IN SWITZERLAND: A COOL ADVENTURE

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Getting There, Economy

These days, at my advanced age, I am somewhat reluctant to take long trips; after a certain age, even in the best of health, the body develops a certain amount of distrust for normal body functions and mobility always appears to be strained. There develops in the vastly experienced mind an element of jealousy of youth and realistic recognition that the condition of a finely aged bottle of wine is not quite the same in quality as finely aged homo sapiens.

However, when the reward is spending Christmas holidays in the honey lotus land of Die Schweiz (Switzerland) and visiting your spouse that you have not seen for a long period of time, one can hardly refrain from accepting an invitation; there is no place that I would rather be during the Christmas season than Switzerland with Marlisa.

Unfortunately, there is more to getting from San Diego California to Zürich Switzerland than packing your bags. The travel-time element is a major factor. In spite of the speed of modern rocket jet technology, travel time is measured more than in actual hours; it is more realistically measured in the amount and degree of suffering and discomfort spent crammed into a miniscule seat which creates considerable pain in the posterior and legs, radical visions of chaos terrorizing the mind, anxiety from being required to sit between a screaming, squalling newborn child and a Rhino sized disenchanted matron smothered in eau d’cologne, and the sheer number of mandated trips made to a restroom that defies head room for a standing adult male in excess of six feet height. It is not the joy of travel but it is the allure of the destination and being able to visit with your spouse that is the absolute and the finite factor in whether or not the destination is worth the travel. In this case, it is positive.

Just the part about getting from your home to the airport becomes a major undertaking; it always seems necessary to select the preferred, volunteering relative or friend with a large enough car, no prior commitments nor conjured commitments, and with enough guilt feelings about all you have done for them over the years that they feel absolutely required to provide their services and car to get you and your luggage to the airport at the given time on the given day. At that point, the responsibility becomes yours to be sure your driver does not forget, have a flat tire, or died during the night from an unknown cause. Actually, for some time now I have found a solution to the problem of getting to the airport on time, on the right day, and with all luggage intact; I arrange and prepay for a shuttle service to pick me up on time and deliver me on time and to be at the airport when I arrive and deliver me to my home. The cost is worth the elimination of the anguish, guilt, and responsibility.

There is more than one way to fly from San Diego to Switzerland and it is possible to choose from more than one airline. Having flown in many directions and on what seems like every conceivable airline, in the past, I have a preference and now prefer Swiss International Airlines direct from Los Angeles to Zürich after a short flight from San Diego to Los Angeles. Everything before boarding Swiss International in Los Angeles is preparation; Los Angeles to Zürich takes about twelve hours of economy class discomfort. I am definitely too poor to fly first class and provide adequate sitting room for my feet, legs, and shoulders; extraneous body parts must fend for themselves and sometimes are challenged by persons sitting next to me or stewardesses plying the aisle serving drinks or shriveled up airline food.

One part of the trip that I anticipate with agony from the beginning of the trip is going through security; it is not that I am a threat to anyone but rather I am perceived as a threat. In 2000, I had bilateral knee replacement and consequently I have metal prosthesis knees, inside my real flesh and blood.

When I walk through a metal detector with my metal knees, it is like hitting the jackpot at Los Vegas with sirens, bells, and lights galore. This begins a body search and electronic detection wands waved over me in a blessing that will assure everyone else in sight that I am not a terrorist even if the metal detector has profiled me as such. All of this takes time and time is something you do not always have when catching an airplane.

The KGB (TSA in English) apologize profusely while they subject me to a public display of mysteriously waving their wands over me and followed by patting, grabbing, and gently caressing sensitive parts of my body; the TSA officers notify me just before each groping so that I do not yell, scream, or giggle and embarrass them. This occurs just before each flight that I take. Unfortunately, my trip requires that I change planes and airport terminals in Los Angeles so I go through the process twice on the same trip.

To make matters worse, I am required to divest myself of everything on my body that might excite a metal detector including shoes and belt. Going through one security check sans belt, my pants fell down and fortunately I was wearing underwear, clean underwear that is, at the time. However, all my worldly goods including passport and wallet are in a plastic box after going through x-ray observation, sitting there where other passengers without metal knees are grabbing their own plastic boxes; the security officers are at the same time dragging me away to search me and telling me to keep an eye on my possessions at all times.

Now I have to say that I am all in favor of security. I remember going through security in Europe when America did not even have security checks and I wished we did. This was at a time before 2001 when everyone loved the United States of America and Americans had no one to fear; I wish all Americans understood that the reason for airline security today is that the United States of America has made some foreign people angry enough to want to blow us to kingdom come. Personally, I think it is easier not to agitate other people than to provide security to keep them from killing you. Some European nations suffered this problem before America did, and that is why they had airline security before America; I was able to figure out the solution right away, just don’t make enemies.

Once aboard the Swiss International flight to Zürich, after I discover that the person sitting next to me for the next twelve hours appeared to be a normal human being, not large enough to crowd into part of my seat and relatively free of toxic odors, I relaxed and could hardly wait for the flight attendant to serve drinks. My flight this time, was blessed by a flying companion that was female, small, nice looking, and free of odor. She was friendly but not talkative; thank you, God!

Flights to and from Zürich are very different; there is 9 hours difference in time. Going to Switzerland, if you leave as I did, at 7:25 PM San Diego time, it gets early dark and is night until you are almost there and you arrive at 3:45 PM Swiss time (6:45 AM San Diego Time); you arrive in Switzerland the afternoon the next day after you left Los Angeles. What this means is that the cabin is dark most of the way and some people sleep a lot. On my return flight, I leave Zürich at 1:10 PM Swiss time, and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:45 PM the same day; it is light outside all the way.

However, the first thing after leaving the runway, passengers are served drinks, then shortly after that they are served dinner, since the plane left the airport at dinner time. From after dinner until a few hours before arrival at your destination, you fend for yourself. You can pick and choose from movies (individual screens) to watch or music, some passengers use their computers, and others sleep. Just before landing, you are served drinks and a continental breakfast even though it is afternoon when you arrive. Personally, on this trip I chose to sleep as much as possible.

On my flight there were 4 empty seats across the aisle from me; shortly after takeoff, the nice lady sitting next to me said, “If you don’t intend to move to those empty seats across the aisle, I would like too.”

I let her take the 4 seats and that left me with two, my aisle and her window seat which I considered luxurious. Understand of course that I am not the average size passenger; I am over six feet tall, long legs, medically obese, broad shoulders, equally broad belly, with bionic knees and just before I left for Switzerland, the doctor advised me that I had four broken bones in my left foot. Trying to configure this mass of damaged humanity into even two seats became a problem that I did not resolve over the next twelve hours; however, except for watching one movie, I did manage fitful sleep most of the flight from Los Angeles to Switzerland, at times sleeping seemingly sitting on my own head.

Arrival in Zürich is always exciting for me. If there are no clouds, or when the plane breaks through the clouds you immediately recognize the landscape. Mountains, valleys, villages, cities, and forests; it is better than Disneyland.

A few days before leaving San Diego, my wife phoned me from Switzerland and  informed me that she had strained her back, could hardly walk, and therefore would not be meeting me at the terminal; I decided not to tell her about the broken foot because it really wasn’t that important; even with a broken foot, I had few problems with mobility. She said that she would try to find someone to pick me up but I just might have to get to her apartment on my own. Actually, I would prefer to get there on my own, it is no problem with public transportation like they have in Switzerland, even with manageable luggage such as mine.

The train station is in the airport terminal. After arrival, you pick up your luggage, go through customs, and take and escalator down to the train station, buy a ticket, get on the train to Winterthur (changing trains in Winterthur to a local train or take a bus) and when the local train gets to the Seen (pronounced say-un) station in Winterthur you walk about two blocks to the apartment of my wife; the total distance is about 25 miles. I am fascinated with Swiss public transportation and thrilled every time I use it, which is always.

This time, however, I am deprived of using the train because my gracious nephew was waiting to take me to the apartment; we had a chance to talk on the way which was good. He was just recently married and it gave me an opportunity to give him some worldly advice about marriage.

Of course, it was painful just to see my poor decrepit wife, Marlisa, greet me at the door, so stiff and sore that she could barely move; however, since I only had a broken foot it was possible for me to take care of her limpingly for the few days she needed to recover. We both actually thought it just a little humorous, of course.

It was great to be in Switzerland and to see Marlisa again; I was feeling exuberant and happy.

TO BE CONTINUED

NEWS QUOTE FROM THE N Y TIMES 1/6/10 WITH COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

COURT BACKS WAR POWERS OVER RIGHTS OF DETRAINEES:

“In a sweeping opinion, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the presidential war power to detain those suspected of terrorism is not limited even by international law of war.”

Comment: International law of war is by treaty, approved by the USA; The US Constitution reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; AND ALL TREATIES MADE, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND.” Who are Americans to believe? Does anyone believe in the US Constitution anymore?

ADVICE FOR PARENTS: FAMILY VALUES COUNSELING

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Parents ask when are my children old enough to get married? The answer is quite simple; if your children are old enough to go to Disneyland for their honeymoon without adult supervision, then they are obviously old enough to get married.