Thursday, January 31, 2008

Excellence was the Order of the Day

Tonight was an excellent night at Arcadia Lodge. The first section degree team headed up by Right Worshipful Brother Bill Yungclas brought our Brother Fellowcraft, Trevor Owens, into the Lodge for his demonstration of the modes of recognition. He did an excellent job. Then we were called from Labor to Refreshment to open a Lodge of Master Masons so as to raise him to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.

Brother Owens was then seated on the sidelines while the Past Master's Club from Za Ga Zig Shrine entered the room and were introduced by Most Worshipful Brother Bud Erickson. They assumed the stations and places and an excellent second section was given to a suitably impressed Brother. After the degree our Brother was presented with a trowel as a gift from the Past Master's Club, a Grand Master's pin and a Potentate's pin. An excellent Charge was given by Bud and all were impressed. He signed the by-laws and received his white leather apron which had first been presented to him at his initiation. There was an excellent feeling in the room and we had Brothers from several Lodges in attendance.
Brother Owens mentioned in his remarks how pleased he was to be a member of the oldest Brotherhood in the world.

Following the meeting we had an excellent lunch of Barbeque pork sandwiches prepared by Junior Warden David Baker who will be giving his 'take" on tonight at his Blog. As soon as he gets home. It was really an excellent night at Arcadia. Remember you are loved. Hugs, j

Getting to Know Each Other

Somebody had to be first. Thanks Kurt for the bio. j
Kurt M. Hoffmann

Kurt Hoffmann was born in April of 1979 in Des Moines, Iowa. The oldest of three children, he spent much of his youth active in the Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout; Tae Kwon Do, attaining the rank of second degree black belt; and soccer.

He graduated fro Urbandale High School in 1997, having spent many of his summers in Western Europe, learning both German and Spanish. Upon high school graduation, we matriculated to Grand View College, were he was to study Criminal Justice. After one year at Grand View College in Des Moines, he transferred to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. There he majored in both Criminal Justice and Spanish, and minored in Management. His studies there led him to time abroad in Mexico and throughout Western Europe. After completing his Bachelor of Arts at Simpson in 2000, Kurt again traveled to Western Europe studying International Economics and Currencies through a program with People to People International in conjunction with the University of Missouri Kansas City.

Upon his return from Europe, Kurt married his high school sweetheart, Lyssa. The newly-wed couple moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, were Lyssa attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and Kurt attended Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. There, he received his Master of Business Administration degree in 2002.

Having both been in Washington, DC on September 11, 2001; Kurt and Lyssa decided that they would return to the Des Moines area upon completing their studies. Once back in Des Moines, Kurt spent three years working for the Mid-Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America. He started his own company, Exploding Light Bulb, LLC in 2007.

Kurt's Masonic career actually began with a paper he wrote while attending Grand View College. However, he did not seek the Masonic Degrees until much later. He was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in June of 2007 at Gnemeth Lodge 577 in West Des Moines. Later that fall, he joined the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and the York Rite. He serves as an officer in Gnemeth Lodge, and the Downtown York Rite bodies.. He was honored to join the York Rite College in January of 2008.

Kurt and Lyssa are blessed with two children, Jakob and Abrielle.

If it isn't one thing it is another.

I seem to have developed something new tinnitus. Such fun - NOT!

I e-mailed my doctor and described my symptoms. He suggested that this was what I have. Now I have yet another doctor's appointment. It is just bothersome and I seem to remeber my grandfather having it. I asked the pharmacist for something to take in the meantime (The doctor appointment isn't until February 25th) and so I have some herbal pills to take, Not much helps so far.

Some of the time I can ignore it completely at other times it is really annoying. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I hear from the guys at Abiff Apparel that they had a lot more "hits" on their web site yesterday. So did I. 186 to be exact. I am awestruck. It got me to thinking that you might like to send me a paragraph and a picture describing who you are and telling a little about yourself. I could then post it on here and we can get to know each other. I will post my "obituary" which I wrote when I was Grand High Priest so you can know a little about me at the end of this post. (if I can find it)

Also I am pleased to have been "Certified" an an Educational Masonic Site by Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. (I always knew I was certifiable) - Just click on the little stone in the upper left hand corner to be taken to their site to find out about them.

Now the Biographical sketch:


Jay Cole Simser was born November 13, 1941, in Ames, Iowa. For the first ten years of his life he was an only child, but grew up in a large extended family consisting of his mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles and many cousins. When he was ten years of age, a sister, Ginny, was born, and he has particularly enjoyed the role of big brother.

His elementary schooling was in Ames, and he remembers with fondness the dedicated teachers at Beardshear Elementary School who guided his early years. He graduated from Gilbert High School in 1959, and enrolled in Iowa State University as a business administration major. During this period of his life he taught a Sunday School class at the First Methodist Church in Ames, and because of his work with these young people and in the Methodist Youth Fellowship, he decided he would like to be a teacher.

Jay graduated from State College of Iowa (now University of Northern Iowa) in 1965 with a major in Elementary Education, and has never regretted his choice of a profession. Helping guide our young people is very rewarding to him. The first four years of his teaching career were at the Main Elementary Building in the Linn-Mar School District, Marion, Iowa. During his first year of teaching, Jay joined the Masonic fraternity.

Jay returned to Ames in 1969 and has taught in the Ames Schools ever since. He finished his career teaching sixth grade at the Edwards Elementary School. He retired in June of 2003 after 38 years of teaching.

While in college he was active in the College Players Theater Group and continued this interest after graduation. He enjoyed working in the Cedar Rapids Community Theater, the Ames Community Theater, and the Ames Children's Theater group as a stagehand, performer, and director.

One of his other interests is travel, and he had made good use of those two and a half month summer vacations with trips to both coasts and the southern part of our great land. Jay has visited Canada, and spent three weeks with a friend traveling through Mexico by bus. In 1976 he and twenty-one other teachers from Iowa spent five weeks in Egypt on a work study trip.

Jay 's Masonic career spans four decades. He was raised April 20, 1966 in Trojan Lodge No. 548 in Marion, Iowa. He affiliated with Arcadia Lodge No. 249 in Ames in 1970, where he was master in 1980. He served on the Grand Lodge Youth Committee from 1984 - 1989. He is a member and Past Master of the Iowa Research Lodge # 2 and is currently serving on the Editorial Board. He affiliated with Acanthus Lodge No. 632 in Des Moines in April of 2007. He places a high value on his Masonic associations and counts the Brothers and Companions as a part of his family.

He joined the Ames York Rite Bodies in 1970 and served as High Priest in 1974, Illustrious Master in 1976 and Commander in 1987. He received the Knight of the York Cross of Honour in 1988 He is also a member of the Iowa York Rite College and is a Past Governor and he received the Order of the Purple Cross in 1998. He joined the Scottish Rite in 1976,

He was Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Iowa in 1981 - 1982 and has served as Chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee since 1986. He "retired" from that position in 2006. He was admitted and set apart as a Companion of the Holy Order of High Priesthood in 1974 and was president in 1988-89. He received the Order of the Silver Trowel in 1978 and joined the Iowa Past Commander's Association in 1987.

He joined the Order of the Eastern Star in 1966 and served as Worthy Patron nine times. He was a member of the Galaxy Committee from 1973-1976. He currently serves on the Eastern Star Masonic Home Board in Boone. He became a member of Friendship Court No. 6, Order of the Amaranth in 1977 and was Royal Patron in 1977 and 1989.

He was honored by being elected to membership in St. Bartholomew Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine in 1981 serving as Recorder since 1983 with the exception of 1993 when he was Viceroy and Sovereign. He is also a member of the Topeka Council No. 1 Ancient Toltec Rite.

His work with Masonic Youth began with the Order of the Rainbow for Girls Ames, Assembly where he served as Executive Board Member also serving as chairman. He received the Grand Cross of Color in 1974. He also served Grand Assembly as a member and Chairman of the Grand Executive Committee from 1979 - 1982. He was named a Masonic Ambassador to the Order of the Rainbow for Girls and served as Vice-President of the Iowa Rainbow Foundation. He has served as President of the foundation from 1990 to 2000. He was an executive board member of the Nevada Chapter of DeMolay and is a recipient of the DeMolayHonorary Legion of Honor. He currently is on the Advisory Committee of Cyclone Chapter DeMolay in Ames.

Simser enjoyed his work with young people and with the Ames Community Schools. He served as Chairman of the Language Arts Cabinet for the Ames Schools and the District's Multi-cultural, non-sexist committee. He was active in his education association and is a past president of the Ames Education Association and the Executive Board of Mid-Iowa Uniserv Unit of the Iowa State Education Association. He served as a delegate to the National Education Association’s representative Assembly for 10 years. In 2002 he was named the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club teacher of the Year and he was twice nominated to “Who’s Who Among American Teachers”.

His (current) favorite quotation is "Each of us has a capacity to help others discover the colors in their very own Rainbow." He hopes that with his work with youth he has helped his students and others to discover those colors.

Additional favorite quotes include:
People who are willing to give up freedom for the sake of short-term security deserve neither freedom nor security. Benj. Franklin
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- "WOW -- What a Ride!"

We are here to be the activity of God expressed in our own unique way. Beca Lewis

So, if you would like to tell a little about yourself sent it to me at and I will publish it. Remember you are loved. Hugs, j

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jon's Pictures

Jon borrowed my camera to play around with. When he brought it back it had about 100 pictures on it. He said to trash them but I really liked some of them so here they are. Unfortunately he had the date stamp on a lot of them and you can see how messy my house is. But enjoy them. He really is talented. On another note he got invited to come to the University of Iowa for interviews. I imagine the offers will start coming in soon. j

The Dinkey

The Ames Historical Society held a lecture program this evening. My friend and elementary classmate, Dennis Wendell spoke on "All the Smoke and Cinders You'll Ever Want - Ames & College Railway's Dinkey.
This picture of the Dinkey is stolen from their Web Site and if you click on it you will be taken to a list of the prsentations for this season The Dinkey was a steam powered railroad which ran between the city of Ames and Iowa State University which were two miles apart to "limit the distraction of students." It cost 5 cents to ride each way. It was built because enterprising Ames businessmen thought that they, not the College, should be making money housing and feeding the students.

The donation recepticle - A much better use than the original use of this spitoon.

The Historical Society has many items for sale. The shirts are really nice looking.
Aunt Jo and Cousin Georgia were also in the audience. Pretty good looking gals!
They started the program with an authentic noise. The whistle was not from the Dinkey but was very much like the ones used on it.
This is a model of the Dinkey that is used at the Reimen Gardens at Iowa State. In the foreground is a piece of rail - all that remains of the Dinkey. The Dinkey ceased operation in 1907 and was melted for scrap metal which was used for armaments in the first world war.

I snapped this picture of Dennis as he was taking his coat off. I also took one of him beside the podium looking professorial but I jiggled the camera and it did not come out. I think this is a great shot. Dennis is the Curator of collections for the Historical Society. They would appreciate donations.

This was also an Iowa State University Sesquicentennial event. The University is 150 years old this year. (Now you can say "Well Duh! Jay that is what SSesquicentennial means." Double Duh!)

It was a very good presentation and I enjoyed myself a lot. Today was one of those days I learned something, I encourage you to visit the Society headquarters. I am going down and spend some money one of these days. Remember you are loved. Hugs, j

An Earthquake in Florida

Annie E Noimus sent me the following. It is a good thing this is an eclectic Blog so I can post it. We can't discuss politics in the Lodge

A very interesting day in Florida yesterday!

Partisan politics aside, the results of the Republican primary in Florida are very interesting.

John McCain won, and despite an “only 5%” difference between him and the reprehensibly-nicknamed “Mitt” Romney, that difference is of great significance. Add to that the fact that Sen. McCain can boast of substantial victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, he is the clear Republican front-runner a week before Super Tuesday.

What does this say about the Republican party today?

That takes a little background.

Beginning with the 1980 election, the GOP took a decided turn to the right with the nomination and election (for two terms) of Ronald Reagan.

Now, it is very stylish these days to beatify Reagan as St. Ronald, the patron saint of the rabid right. In fact, he was—at best—a mediocre president. His being credited with the fall of the Communist eastern bloc is pure fiction (the fact is that the Soviet “Evil Empire” collapsed from within because of its own failed policies, and Reagan just happened to be the opportunistic American president when the downfall occurred). In addition, it was Reagan whose truly foolish economic policies lead quite directly to the economic problems we face today.

Yet, in the firmament of the Republican party, St. Ronald rules as one of the brightest recent stars, and the one most emulated by perhaps the worst president in the country’s history, George W. Bush. In fact, the last effective Republican president this country had was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he wasn’t really much to boast about. At least, however, he and Gerald Ford were decent men.

Reagan’s election in 1980 was the first effective salvo in the hijacking of the Republican party by dangerous forces, commonly known today as “neo-conservatives.” For more than 25 years, these reactionary forces have controlled the party of such genuinely great men as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

The American electorate has historically been long-suffering. When demagogic political forces have been in power for a time, it has often taken several decades to right the ship of state. The fact is, thankfully, that the people have always eventually seen fit to return from the extreme to the center.

And that is precisely what Sen. McCain’s ascendancy in the 2008 election cycle signifies—a return to some semblance of good sense.

The radical right, including most Washington Republican insiders and almost every right-wing media pundit (Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and so forth) have been virtually unanimous in their vehement opposition to Sen. McCain, seeing him as a traitor to their far-right goals. They have been MUCH more supportive of Gov. Romney, Mayor Giuliani, and even Gov. Huckabee. Despite their unending, vociferous outbursts, the Republican electorate is clearly of a different mind.

What is happening before our eyes is the repudiation of the neo-coms by Republican voters. The cycle is coming back to center. The truly far-right agenda of Reagan and his followers, having been discredited almost completely during the administration of George W. Bush, is being pushed aside as these same voters return to the more reasonable and historic beliefs of their party.

The firmly-entrenched Republican neo-coms will continue to resist this ineluctable movement, because their very paychecks are being threatened. Many of these people are complete cynics, looking, Carl-Rove-like, to establish a permanent Republican control of the country (does Hitler’s “Tausand-j√§hriges Reich” ring any bells?). And it was their greedy intent to feed from the rich trough of this establishment for the rest of their lives.

As usual, it is their own party—but the reasonable, nameless, voting Republicans who pay their taxes and finally determine party policy—who are overthrowing the loud and the mighty ideologues.

It’s the same way Iowa caucuses work: neighbors gathering together in their own neighborhoods to determine the direction of their parties at the local, the county, the state, and—eventually—the national level. This is done soberly and collegially, and there is no assumption on the part of participants that they will somehow benefit financially from their deliberations.

Slowly, at first with faltering voices, but eventually with a single ringing voice that can bring down the walls of Jericho, the people DO speak.

Thank God!

New Business

Abiff Apparel
Outfitting Masons for the 21st Century

Steve Hall and Kurt Hoffman are two young Masons from Des Moines. Steve is Senior Warden of my Des Moines Lodge (Acanthus) and a great guy. He did some super shirts for us at Arcadia Lodge. He has recently started the Internet business Abiff Apparel. He joined forces with Kurt from Gnemeth Lodge as his consultant.

They sell Tee shirts, hats and sweatshirts. The picture is Brian Pappodocus, Master of Kadosh that I took at the Breakfast.

Their opening page says that they specialize in edgy shirts, hats, sweatshirts, coats and jackets for brothers who want something a little different. Click on Brian's picture to be taken there.

They operate with Paypal so it is easy to use. (I just ordered two sweatshirts.) I will save on shipping costs by picking them up at Lodge when I go down for the Stated Meeting. Give their site a look. They have some nice things.

By the way they didn't ask me to do this. Just a service of your friendly neighborhood blogmeister. Hugs, j-bear

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For Doug


I saw her do this in Dick Tracy.

Tell Me Again

I had a principal once who would say "Remind me again, of who that was." He had the same problem with names that I do.

Today I change it a little and ask you to Tell me again of why

We Love Iowa!

Could it be:
  • The wind as it whips across the state chilling us to the bone
  • The snow that comes periodically so that it will blow around and make drifts to cause us difficulty traveling.
  • The ice that we so much love to have on our driveway so that we fall on our asses while taking the garbage out.
  • The cold rain of spring on our bald heads.
  • The 100+ degrees of heat in mid-summer so folks can repeat over and over "It isn't the heat it's the humidity.
  • The humidity.
  • The lack of mountains and sea shores.
  • The occasional tornado which scares the bejesus out of us and reminds us that at least we don't get hurricanes.
  • The people who live here.
  • The people who don't live here but visit us every four years for our caucus cacophony.
  • The beautiful night skies which you can almost see if the farmers don't have too many lights burning down on us.
  • Barns
  • The delightful aromas that surround us as we drive past those farms. (Yeah, right!)
  • The delightful aromas (disagreeable effluvium) which you smell as you drive past Ankeny or South of Ames or by Newton or Nevada who thoughtfully placed their waste treatment plants close to the road.
  • The great road system and the DOT which maintain it so that we can travel easily from place to place.
  • Our central location which make road trips to other states easier,
  • Ethanol
  • Our closeness to Minnesota with it's beautiful lakes.
  • Iowa's beautiful lakes and park system.
  • The deer we saw near Polk City on our way to a Lodge meeting that was canceled so all we got was a ride and a visit.
  • The deer and other wild life that co-exist with us.
  • The farm animals we see as we drive around the gravel roads.
  • The beautiful wild flowers which will return in about 4 months.
  • The flowering trees in my neighborhood and around the state.
  • The Grand Lodge of Iowa and the support they give to Iowa Lodges.
  • The people who live here.
  • The people who don't live here
  • The cultural opportunities we have in this state.
  • The great Educational system we have. (which could still be improved)

Enough of that. When I walked into the Credit Union today I asked the teller, "Tell me why we love Iowa," Everybody seemed to think it was funny. Can't imagine why?.

I got the strangest phone call today. You know I am always getting strange phone calls My phone number is one digit off from Tom Randall Realty (did I have an apartment to rent?) and one number different from the Coach House. I used to come home and find messages for them on my machine. Sometimes I would call them up and play the message for them. Mostly I just thought that the person who called must have not been listening as my answering machine was not a business phone.

Some lady in New York called and said.I'm calling from Garmen Tex in New York. She left the same message on my cell phone and wanted to set up an appointment for Tiffany in Las Vegas. I just called her back and we had a delightful talk. I think she was trying to get Coach House so I gave her the correct number and she offered me a job to go out selling. I figured it would take time away from my blogging and Masonry so I turned her down. We did admire each other's accents however and both had a good laugh .

I have been getting weather advisories all day. The latest is a Wind Chill Advisory
A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This will result in frost bite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves. Exposed skin may freeze in 30 minutes or less.
The damn wind blew right through the car on our trip to Polk City and back and you can tell it is cold just by sitting in the house. Not fun.

I bought a crock pot today and have made a huge pot of soup. It doesn't smell real great so I may have to throw it out. I will have to freeze most of it anyway. I did not use a recipe - just threw things together and may have ruined it with some of the junk I threw in. Oh well, if it isn't any good I will toss it.

Margaret Truman Daniel died today. She was 83. I always like her. New York Times Article Here.

I have a feeling that I may be boring you so I will sign off. (I have a feeling that my blog has become rather boring - maybe it is just that I am boring?) Tomorrow night I am going to hear my elementary school classmate, Dennis Wendell give a talk on the Dinkey Railroad. Remember that you are loved. Stay warm. Big Hugs. j

Shocking Custody Case

Thanks to Butch for this news item.

Minneapolis, MN (AP) -A seven-year old boy was at the center of
a Douglas County courtroom drama today when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulation requiring that family unity be maintained to the highest degree possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried and said that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him. After two recesses to check legal references and confer with the child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Minnesota Vikings, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bob's Eagles

While I was spending my time today doing the Red Cross of Constantine Annual Report which has to be in by February 1 (No point in doing it ahead of time is there?) and not enjoying the 45 degree weather my friend Bob was over by Frasier, Iowa North West of Boone taking pictures of eagles. We are very fortunate that this magnificent raptor has come back and still a part of our environment.

Did I mention that I was working on Annual Reports? I also had to get the one for Grand Lodge in. I could not get the form to go in on the computer so I had to print it off and mail it in. Not only that but the Web form did not print every page and I lost it and had to do it all over again. Such fun - NOT! Oh well they are done now and if they are wrong someone named Norma will let me know.

Then, of course GWB gave his last State of the Union speech tonight. I didn't watch it because I had other things to do. Jon brought my camera back and was here for a little while. I also wasn't in the mood to have my blood pressure go up. I will read the reviews on my blogs that I read tomorrow. In the meantime enjoy the pictures from Bob and this little cartoon which George Carr sent to me just as I was needing something to finish this entry with. Great Big Hugs, j

Don't mess with Iowa Farmers

Jack Watts sent me this. (Of course I had to retype it because he sent hard copy. But I will make any effort for my blogfriends.)

A big city lawyer went duck hunting in rural Iowa. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer's field on the other side of a fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked what he was doing.

The litigator responded, "I shot a duck and now I am going to retrieve it."

The old farmer replied, "This is my property and you are not coming over here."

The indignant lawyer said, "I am one of the best trial attorneys in the United States and, if you don't let me get that duck, I'll sue you and take everything you own."

The old farmer smiled and said, "Apparently, you don't know how we settle disputes in Iowa. We settle small disagreements like this; with the 'Three Kick Rule.'"

The lawyer asked, what is the Three Kick Rule?"

The farmer replied, "Well because the dispute occurs on my land, I get to go first. I kick you three times and then you kick me three times and so on back and forth until someone gives up."

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided
that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by the
local custom.

The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up
to the city feller. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy
work boot into the lawyer's groin and dropped him to his knees.
His second kick to the midriff sent the lawyer's last meal gushing from his mouth.

The Lawyer was on all fours when the farmer's third kick to his rear end, sent him face first into a fresh cow-pie.

The lawyer summoned every bit of his will, managed to get to his feet. Wiping his face with the arm of his coat he said, "Okay, you old fart, now it's MY turn."

[I love this part....]

The old farmer smiled and said, "Nah , I give up. You can have the duck."


The material placed on this Blog my be lost stolen or strayed from other sources. No claim is made as to authenticity or originality of anything on this page (except that some of this crap was obviously written by me.) Therefore all of it should be taken with, not just a grain but , a shaker of salt. I may try to direct you to other sources where things were probably also borrowed but not always. Store contents in a cool, dark place when not in use. There is no warranty, implied or expressed in the contents of these pages. Read them at your own risk. Attempting to store them on your computer may be hazardous. Please discard contents in an environmentally sound way. If you found any contents. Anything and everything on these pages may be the figment of a deranged personality. See your shrink now for details. Even the last part of this disclaimer was stolen. I don’t care and you shouldn't either. The Blog is written for enjoyment and if you don’t enjoy it – so what. I do. AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT I WRITE FEEL FREE TO GO ELSEWHERE!  Oh, and one more thing.  Comments are moderated. That is because I am not interested in promoting your web site or your religious or political views.  I will not enter into a discussion on why you believe that everyone in the world is going to hell unless they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior.  If you want to proselytize go elsewhere. This is not the place for it.

Ice Skating

The U. S. Figure Stating Championships were on this week-end. I always try to watch but I was busy this week-end so I had to tape it. I had forgotten just how annoying the commentators were. they seem to think that they have to comment on everything and when I just want to watch and listen to the music their annoying voices just spoil it for me. Scott Hamilton particularly restates the obvious and his voice needs a lot of work. Ok, Ginny I know you won't agree with me but that is all right. It is my blog. j

Favorite Song from a Musical

Back in the 80's I went to a movie called "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Charles Durning played the Governor of Texas and his song in the clip below seems to me to be a precursor of someone we know today. Or as Craig would say "Remind you of anyone!"

Durning won a Lifetime Achievement Award last night at the Screen Actors Guild (which I forgot to watch) and I salute him for this performance which seems to remind me of politicians everywhere. Give yourself a morning Hug. j

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chance Inspiration

The North East Corner has a very moving post about a Masonic Funeral service for a Prince Hall Mason.

Addendum -

Kevin just sent me this in response to one of my posts. See if you can figure out which one. Bad Kevin just bad. So Bad I love it. Thank you

An English doctor was being shown around a Scottish hospital.
Near the end of his visit, he saw a ward of patients with no obvious injuries.
He started to examine the first patient, but the man proclaimed:
"Fair fa' yer honest, sonsie face / Great chieftain o' the puddin' race!"
The doctor, taken aback, moved on to the next patient, who immediately said,
"Some hae meat and canna eat / And some wad eat that want it."
The next patient cried out,
"Wee sleekit cow'rin tim'rous beastie /
O what a panic's in thy breastie!"
"Well," the English doctor muttered to his Scottish colleague, "I see you saved the psychiatric ward for last."
"Oh, no," said the Scottish doctor. "This is our serious Burns unit!"

York Rite College - The REAL Story.

My friend John writes about the story behind the York Rite College Degree. I knew that Althelstan did not have a son as our degree says but John tells the real story. Personally I think his story is more interesting than the degree. By the way I did not have permission to post this so if he asks I will take it down. In the meantime I use the old masonic philosophy that it is better to go ahead and do something and then ask for forgiveness. In the meantime here is what John has to say about the Knight of York Degree.

Pedant that I am, it bothers me that King Athelstan, who was in fact a great king and a worthy successor to his grandfather Alfred the Great, was never married, and had no children, legitimate or illegitimate (at least not any that anybody today knows about). He was succeeded by his two younger half-brothers, and they by Athelstan's nephew who was named Edwy--but he was a pretty shaky leader. Which makes Athelstan's son a complete fiction. And the real golden age of churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and so forth didn't come until after Athelstan either--though he probably saw the beginnings of these movements that culminated in the 12th century (when I'd like to begin the Renaissance anyway...). I think it would be every bit as good a story WITHOUT Edwin, because Athelstan apparently DID convene a big conference at York, and the Cooke Manuscript tells us that he DID organize some sort of builders' association at that time. We seem not to know whom he picked to head it up, but there's just no way it was a prince of the blood, since there weren't any except for Athelstan's half-brothers. Neither of them was a particularly stellar ruler either... And just who is this "Archbishop of England?" Even in those days, the Archbishop of Canterbury was the primate, although the Archbishop of York was otherwise his equal (as he is today). So did Canterbury travel all the way to York to meet with Athelstan? The two men would have known OF each other, since even the regional kings and chieftains in southern England had sworn fealty to the northerner Athelstan.

Addendum : John writes -
Heck, that's fine. It's unMasonic NOT to borrow ideas, isn't it? I just hope I got everything right--it was pretty much off the top of my head and as I remember it.

BTW, it's interesting to note that Alfred, Athelstan's grandpa, is the ONLY English monarch ever to be awarded the honorific "the Great," and it was not without reason. Alfred has been one of my heroes for years--long before I took the Scottish degrees.

In the days when most monarchs and even bishops could neither read nor write, Alfred was a true scholar, and thus became a fair and gifted law-giver. An amazing guy. I'm a little surprised that there aren't more Masonic references to HIM. Athelstan, who knew Alfred, followed in his footsteps, though.

So I am off the hook. Thanks Brother Klaus.

See much more interesting. There is more room here for study but this is a start. We needn't take every thing we read or see in ritual as truth. However we can learn the lessons they teach and grow. Thanks John for some interesting food for thought.

By the way when I was looking for an illustration for this blog I ran across something in England called The Masonic Order of Althestan.
"The aim of the Masonic Order of Athelstan is to encourage and prompt its members into actual further study and research. As such each candidate is carefully chosen due to their interest in Masonic history and is ‘Instructed’ into our Order."
The Internets are a wonderful place to explore and learn. Hugs j

Jerry Springer, the Opera

When you buy season tickets you never know what you are going to see. The StageWest production of Jerry Springer the Opera carries the following caveat.

WARNING: StageWest audiences are accustomed to productions that contain mature subject matter and language. HOWEVER, this show, as suggested by the source material, contains VERY mature subject matter and language. Such is the magical appeal of The Jerry Springer Show.

I am not sure that mature is the right word for the subject matter in this production. I would probably use sophomoric instead. The humor is crude and designed to shock. OK I am no prude (well yes, I might be) and I use some "words" now that I never used when I was teaching but this is full of them. And more.

A friend asked me about the play and I wrote back:

Lots of profanity. Loud. Irreverent. Enjoyable. I was tired so I probably didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. I thought a lot of it was just "teen-age" scatological humor and I didn't see much point in it. However I am glad I went. Go figure.
I did enjoy it. Not sure why. I have never watched the Jerry Springer show so I really have nothing to compare it with but I am sure it was a "take-off " on that show. It was very loud but the performers were all able to "deliver" on the music. You can read reviews here and here.

When we walked in there were two big (really big) guys there in black jeans and tee-shirts with "security" on them. If you stepped on the black rubber "stage" you got barked at. "Keep off the stage." not very welcoming and I was not in the mood. In fact I started to tell him to "bite me" but I didn't. (See I was already in a mood because they wanted me to pay money to exchange my season ticket for the next performance. I got a ticket for a Thursday night for the next show and I had not ordered a Thursday night ticked as Thursday is Lodge Night. Anyway I got that fixed and also purchased a ticket for the Broadway show coming in April. The Spelling Bee. I first read about it on one of "my" blogs and have the CD so it should be a fun show.. But I digress. (don;t I always?)

I got a kick out of watching these two guys harass everyone that came in and barking "Keep off the Stage" as people walked to find sets. The way it works is that they let the season ticket holders in early and then the rest of the people come in to find what is left. Last night was sold out.

As I said the performers were talented, I just didn't care much for the content of the play. Although I once performed in a play for ACTORS here in Ames and one of my lines was "Cut off that bastard's balls." the play was Avant-garde and performed in the round on a stage where the audience was in the play. You were almost on their laps. The play was "Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place". I heard one of the audience members say "What would his grandmother say about him being in a play like this?" Knowing my grandmother she would have said something like "What are you doing attending a play like this?" Ma didn't put up with much.

One of the actors in the play was wearing a t-shirt which said "Re-hab is for quitters" I loved it. There were a lot of people who worked hard to put this play (opera) on and I applaud them for their effort. I think I really liked the red "Zoot suit" that the Devil was sporting and he was by far the best performer (in my opinion) in the show. He looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself in the part. And you should enjoy playing the Devil. (shouldn't you?) The show runs through next week-end and if you can get tickets I encourage you to see it.

After all:

When asked why Iowans - wholesome, upstanding, well-educated Iowans - should see the opera, co-director Buchacker responded with what might be the biggest understatement of the year:

"Well, it's something," he said after a thoughtful pause. "You're not likely to see anything like this ever again."
Probably not.

Today I spent with the frustrating job of working on the Lodge end of the year report. Not a fun part of the Secretary job. Tomorrow I will do the Red Cross report and perhaps be able to enjoy myself on Tuesday. Remember You are Loved, Big Hugs, j

Three Pictures from Bob

Bob sent me three more pictures. As always if you want to see them full screen click to make them larger. The first on he entitles "Frozen Diamonds" I would rather see pictures of spring flowers peaking through the snow but this will have to do. I will exercise my imagination for the flowers, and the green grass, and the blue, blue sky with a bright yellow sun.
Next a picture of a distinctive weathered old barn. Great shot. Did you ever go to the farm as a kid and get to play in a barn? My aunt and uncle famed in Adel, Iowa and we would go down there for Easter and sometimes at other times during the year. Fran and Harold were a lot of fun. Fran was mother's older sister and she knew how to be a hostess. Their farm was several miles west of Adel on a (then) gravel road. There was an old farm house with lots of room for all of the relatives and a barn. We would go to the barn to play. I can still see the "hay dust" floating in the sunlight that seeped in through the cracks in the barn. We would take hay bales and build forts and swing from ropes and have a great time. Sometimes there were cattle in the barn and it was a great place to explore.

I also remember a barn which my great uncle had behind his house at 522 Crawford. I got into trouble there but then I was only 3 or 4 years old. I had climbed a long ladder to get into the barn. My great-aunt had to get me to come down. Another time I was found hanging over some farm equipment which would have hurt me greatly had I fallen. You know it is a wonder I survived.
Speaking of survival. Bob sent this photo of our resident Sandhill Crane. The Cranes usually flock together but somehow this little guy got left behind and is stopping over in Ames at Lake Laverne. He is visiting Lancelot and Elaine (our two swans) who are there year around. Sandhill Cranes are interesting birds and if you have never seen them it is worth the drive to the Platte River in Nebraska when they are migrating. National Geographic has a Cranecam which is live when they are migrating. Right now they are showing highlights. It is worth a look - of course, you have to wait through a short commercial but you can do that. The hope is that he will survive to rejoin the flock. In the meantime he is with a murder of crows. They go out together to the fields to get corn during the day.

You can read my poem about crows here. You can read a much better poem about a type of crow here. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. And you can get some answers to Frequently asked questions about cows here. What all of this has to do with Bob's pictures is beyond me but that is just the way it worked out.

As another side bar which has nothing to do with the pictures but I am in the mood to ramble this morning (keeps me from doing my work) Jon was over last night (until 1:30) and we were talking about the movie The Golden Compass which he has finally seen and is now a convert. I told him how he could make his own daemon by visiting the movie site and he asked me about mine so I started to look for the post. If I click "Return to the list of Posts" on the page where I make the post it will take me to a list of all the posts and then I can scroll through them to find the one I want. He suggested that I just Google Bailey's Buddy The Golden Compass. You know, by golly, he is one smart nephew. It worked and that is how I was able to get the link for the 522 Crawford and the Crow Poem for this post. So from now on when I want to find something old I can use Google. If you just Google Bailey's Buddy you get a lot of other "stuff" but this way sure beats scrolling through a list.

By the way Happy Birthday to Louis Carroll and Brother W.A. Mozart.

I laughed and learned something yesterday so in addition to everything else it was a very, very good day. Hugs, You are loved. j

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It is about Reconcilliation

I have written about the York Rite College previously so I won't repeat myself. But I will talk a little about the theme of the degree. The Masons and the Sir Knights (pictured above) are unable to come to an agreement until the King sets Prince Edwin to work with them to reconcile the problems. Their problems are solved and a new Order is formed. (that happens a lot in Masonry. So the underlying theme is one of reconciliation. More about that later.
We had eleven new members of the College who were given the degree today. they are a fine looking group.
Six of the new members were from Ames. I was originally in this picture but I cropped myself out. Because the picture is much better without me. And besides the day is about the new members not some old coot.

David Dryer was presented with the Service Award. Only one of these can be given in any one year and David certainly deserved it.
And finally it was announced that Billy Joe and Bruce Hildreth would travel to Virginia this summer for the Sovereign Grand College meeting where they will receive the College's highest honor. The Order of the Purple Cross. Tim Anderson will also receive it at that time but he was unable to be with us today.

Click here to see all of today's pictures.

Part II

After the College meeting I drove to Des Moines to attend the Stage West production of Jerry Springer, the Opera. The jury is still out as to whether or not I really liked it but there were definitely parts that made me laugh and while there was a lot of profanity in it the overlying message was a good one. And again it was about reconciliation. The Devil wants to be reconciled to God so he gets Jerry Springer to do it for him. I have a feeling that there were a lot of Jerry Springer fans in the theater tonight. They seemed to know what was going on. I have never watched the show so perhaps I missed something. I may write more about it later and then again I may not,

The most important part of the day for me was a reconciliation that took place between me and a friend. Misunderstandings are just crummy and when something like today happens I really understand what Masonry is all about. "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." True words, Square words, just such words as I desire to live by.
Remember you are loved. Hugs, j

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pictures from Bob

Bob's grandson sleeping. Is there anything more peaceful.

Three pictures of frost formed across from the Ames Electric plant.

Nature does provide beauty for us to enjoy. Thanks to Bob for sharing them with us.

A Theme Not Lightly to be Broached

In the Eastern Star Installation Service the "sermonette" or admonition portion of the ceremony states:

"No one can truly affirm that another day or even a single hour will be committed to our trust. Therefore if we have been faithful heretofore let us increase our exertions for the future."
I have always found those words very meaningful. I realize that my life could end at any minute and I am aware that when it does I will be as King Solomon says:

The dead know not anything: their love, their hatred, their envy, is now perished! Neither have they, anymore, a portion of anything that is done under the sun.... Death terminates the labor of a man. Henceforth generations may build and occupy, but he will not be there.
There is a movie out right now called "The Bucket List." It is supposed to be about two old men who know they are going to die and they make up a list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Evidently while they do these things they talk about their relationships and are lead to some healing in that respect even though they both eventually "kick the bucket."

I was reading in a newsletter that I get about a person who was reviewing a list of people that he knew who had died during the past year. (Much as I did in my post yesterday) and he said"

"If we're paying attention, as we should be, wisdom should grow with the number of times we've been to the cemetery to celebrate the life of a loved one. Every death is the end of a life and a message to the living. Those trips should force us to focus on the finite nature of life."
I am 66 years old, If I die tomorrow it won't be any great loss. (Although I have several nonagenarian friends and if I can stay healthy I would not object to making it that far.) I will have lived my life and it was pretty good for the most part. I try not to have regrets. I do have some. One major one is the loss of a friendship (friendships can die also) and I have mourned that as much as I have some deaths. But by in large I am pretty content.

The death of younger people is tragic to me. they did not really get a chance to experience life to the fullest. I especially hate it when I hear of the death of a child. No one can really understand why that happens. The promise of their life will never be fulfilled. No one really got to know them. All we can do is offer comfort and love to the parents.

I don't think that death is the end but if it is so be it. I prefer to believe that we go on to a new state of existence and further lessons to be learned until we become one with the One. All of us. But that is just my belief.

I heard Christianity described as a "death cult" where all of the adherents are looking to be with their Lord in Heaven and want the end of the world to come so that they can join Him in heaven. I would say that if that is true we should not be surprised when they do not see any value in preserving our world. Why shouldn't they open up more shooting of endangered species as they recently did by allowing the shooting of wolves in the Yellowstone area. What is the point of saving something that "God" is going to destroy in an Armageddon they can't wait for?

I prefer to preserve our world for our children so that they will have a world filled with the diversity which we enjoy. I would prefer that we not use up all the resources so that the world is denuded and depleted. I would prefer that we all share so that no child (or adult) has to go to bed hungry or not even have a place to go to bed.

Humans call death "a great mystery" and we don't really understand it. In the Council Royal Master Degree, Hiram says:

"Death is a theme not lightly to be broached by those subject to its power. The young may die, the old must die and the wisest knowest not how soon. There is none that escapes the inexorable doom."
Emily Dickson wrote:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

I have been with two people when they died. My grandmother was lying down in her room and said "My God I am awful sick." and died. It was the hardest experience I had ever gone through. She was a second mother to me and we had lived with my grandparents since I was four years old (with the exception of three years). I had just entered college and was 17 years old.

My mother had COPD and eventually the disease took her. After a lifetime of smoking she had to carry an oxygen bottle around with her and it was very hard to see her those last few years. Eventually she had to go into the hospital and I was at school one Monday morning teaching when I got a call that she would not last much longer. I am so glad that I got that call because I was with her for her last moments. It was hard and yet it was not. It was not unexpected as my grandmother's death was and it was very peaceful. After years of laboring for breath she just stopped breathing and was gone. I can still hear the nurse say "So peaceful." It was on January 16, 1995 when it happened.

I hold these women high in my heart and memory and still feel they are "with" me. We never lose our loved ones. They are always with us. Several days after she passed I had a dream about my mother. She had just had her hair done and said something to me about it. I started to tell her how nice she looked and then said, "Wait a minute you are dead." Then I reached out and touched her. She felt solid. It was an eire experience, but it affirmed for me that there is more to our existence than what we call "life."

I wrote a tribute to my mother and handed it out at her funeral. I tried to read it to a friend but knew I could not get through it. At the end I quoted a piece of writing by Thomas Wolfe. I share it with you now.

From "You Can't Go Home Again."

Something has spoken to me in the night, burning the tapers of the waning year: something has spoken in the night, and told me I shall die, I know not where.


"to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing:
to lose the life you have, for greater life;
to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving;
to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth - -

" --Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending - a wind is rising, and the rivers flow."

I believe that we will all one day leave the friends we love for greater loving in a land more kind than home, more large than earth. Until that time I shall try to remember the advice from my 96 year old friend who reminds me that the day is wasted where you do not learn something or laugh. Thanks for listening. May all who are apart be reconciled and Brethren once again dwell together in harmony. Hugs, j