Friday, February 29, 2008

Jane Addams

I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.

Jane Addams (1860-1935), co-founder with Ellen Gates Starr, of Hull House, a social settlement serving the immigrants on Chicago's north side, became involved in the peace movement during the First World War.

Motivated by a strong conviction that women's suffrage was inextricably linked to the cause of international peace, she travelled to the Hague in 1915 where she served as the president of the first congress of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. While many were critical of her pacifism, she continued to call on women to use their influence to oppose militarism throughout the world.

Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Jane is portrayed as the selfless giver of ministrations to the poor, but few realize that she was a mover and shaker in the areas of labor reform (laws that governed working conditions for children and women), and was a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1893 a severe depression rocked the country. Hull House was serving over two thousand people a week. As charitable efforts increased, so too did political ones. Jane realized that there would be no end to poverty and need if laws were not changed. She directed her efforts at the root causes of poverty. The workers joined Jane to lobby the state of Illinois to examine laws governing child labor, the factory inspection system, and the juvenile justice system. They worked for legislation to protect immigrants from exploitation, limit the working hours of women, mandate schooling for children, recognize labor unions, and provide for industrial safety.

All this led to the right to vote for women. Addams worked for Chicago municipal suffrage and became first vice-president of the National American Women Suffrage Association in 1911. She campaigned nationwide for Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party in 1912.

Read more about this remarkable woman here, here, and here.

Enticing and Retaining New Members

I went to Des Moines last night for a “Spring Kick-off for the Des Moines Consistory. It is supposed to showcase the Scottish Rite and entice Master Masons to join.

We were asked to ask ourselves “Why did you join the Scottish Rite?” I suppose the answer to that question is that somebody asked me. I was already a member of the York Rite and so it seemed logical to ask for more “light.”

I know some people join the Scottish Rite so that they can have that 32 degree after their name. Or they might join because someone in their family was a member and encouraged them to petition. It used to be that Masons joined the York or the Scottish Rite as a conduit to the Shrine. That reason is no longer valid as you do not have to be a member of those Orders to be a Shriner.

I do know that is not the reason that we joined the Lodge (40+years ago) because back then you were not supposed to ask a person to join the Lodge. Once he was in the Lodge, however and had proved up he was “fair game” for anyone with a petition in his hands.

The Order of DeMolay has a constant problem with getting new members. They have the problem that when their members reach a certain age they can no longer be a regular member.

For whatever reason we join the lodge there is a much larger problem, which we have.

In the Grand Lodge Bulletin Grand Master points up a problem we are having in Masonry today. The number of members who are suspended for non-payment of dues has increased. He says,
“Most strikingly, a large percentage of them are men who joined the fraternity within the past three years."
That is also happening in the Scottish Rite (and probably the York Rite) – last year the Des Moines Consistory lost 125 members due to non-payment.

To make up for that they try to entice new members. We have always tried to entice new members but most of them stayed as members. I recently read on one of the Masonic Blogs that these men who allow themselves to be suspended have already quit the fraternity and we are just wasting our time by constantly sending them reminders sometimes for two years. The Lodge that I am Secretary for only suspended two members last year. My other Lodge has a greater number and according to the Grand Master we have this problem all over the state.

He goes on to say,
“For whatever reason, we are not providing these brethren sufficient value for them to continue their membership.”

Robert G. Davis of Guthrie Oklahoma spoke to the Scottish Rite last fall. He said in part:

(Initiation) is fundamental to a man's process of growth.
(It) is done to convey that he has left one life and is entering another.
Men have to be initiated into manhood by other men. It is not a rite of is a rite that incorporates us into society as adults.
Our (Masonic) values define us because they define for the outside world who we are.
Life is a study and our duty is to learn.
We need a Fraternal Association with other men. We need older men in our lives to teach us the magic of manhood.
(It) exists foremost to transform men. (This) occurs in the sacred and social space of Lodge.
(It helps them) to grow and achieve balance in their own personal and spiritual lives.
It's about finding the spiritual connection deep within itself that is the path to mature masculinity.
It is about discovering who we are and what we are supposed to be doing in the world.

This is a very wise man. I put him on a par with Joseph Fort Newton, a Masonic author of the early 20th century. (author of The Builders). Both men have a vision of the Masonic Fraternity, which goes beyond the social club with a ritual for initiation.

Dr. Rex Hutchins said of the Scottish Rite
"To become a Scottish Rite Mason is to begin the search for philosophical truth in three areas: political, moral and religious."
You do not begin or continue that search alone or in a vacuum.

Our Grand Lodge talks about enrolling the new Mason. My Worshipful Master spoke of this in his newsletter for this month. He says:
“During the past few years, our lodge has experienced a great resurgence, in terms of membership numbers. This resurgence has been great; however, are we really enrolling our new members into our lodge as brothers? I am not sure, because in the past four years, we have raised approximately 45 new brothers and few are active with the lodge. Why is that? Well, I believe it has to do with the fact that we as a lodge have not been doing a great job at "enrolling" our new members through building the brotherhood through strong interpersonal communications between the brothers.”

All of these men are speaking in one way or another of the connection, which we must have between each other if our fraternity is to grow (attract new members) and prosper. I belong because in a very real sense the Masonic Lodge is my “family” I find the brotherhood means a great deal to me. The fact is that I have always found Brothers in the fraternity to whom I relate to and admire. That connection is vital to me and to my mental health. When (for whatever reason) the connection doesn’t get made it is usually my fault and that bothers me. So I try harder.

These members who are leaving us were not “plugged into Lodge” they did not “connect” with us or we did not connect with them. If there had been a connection they would not have left. You don’t make that connection through the initiatic experience alone. You don’t make it at a stated meeting or education meeting. You make it by being a part of a family. You make it by opening up and sharing with each other. You make it through closeness. You make it at the coalition time after the meeting. You make it by going out to the “watering hole” after a meeting. You don’t make it by putting a man through a ritual of initiation and then ignoring him. You have to “connect” -

There are all sorts of ways to make that connection. I will never forget when a brother who I was having a problem with came up to me and asked me if I would accept a hug. That hug repaired a rift that was really just stupid. I had said something to him and he had gotten upset with me. I had been willing to let it go because of course “I” was in the right. No matter that I should have kept my big mouth shut about something. Fortunately he was able to make a connection with me and we are pretty close now. I doubt if he will ever be suspended for non-payment of dues.

I will be very honest with you – I am not sure if I were a Master Mason investigating the Scottish Rite I would have gotten very enthusiastic about joining because of last night’s meeting. I know that my Brother Phil is going to join this spring. But he came to the meeting already planning to join. Because Charlie had asked him to join. (some of us will do anything Charlie asks us to do – up to a point) There was that interpersonal connection. You don’t get it in a movie theater; you don’t get it at home alone. You don’t get it in a boring stated meeting paying bills and listening to minutes, You get it by being with and relating to Brothers. If you have that personal connection you can get it electronically to a point. I know that I really like getting e-mails from certain people. But they are already people I have “connected” with.

The whole key is the connections we are supposed to be making with each other. And they must be the right sort of connection. Jumping on a man because he makes the due guard and sign a little wrong or “barking at him because he misses a word here and there” is not going to make a good connection. Being a supportive, caring Brother is making the right connection and it will do more to enroll and keep a Brother in our Fraternity than all of the other schemes or themes we can come up with. “nuff said” ARTYAL - Hugs, jcs

The Bud Light Commercial they didn't use.

I can't imagine why. I think it is hilarious - but then I always was a case of arrested humor development. AHD. Hugs, j

Happy Birthday Mr. Rossini

My resident (Didn't know you resided here did you John?) Music Expert John Klaus sent me an e-mail yesterday that today (February 29th) would be Gioachino Rossini's 55th birthday. He was born in 1792.

As a kid I used to listen to a radio show which used his William Tell Overture as theme music. As an adult I have enjoyed his Barber of Seville. As you may wish to read more about him go here, here and here. As an interesting (to me) side note he died on November 13, 1868. I was born on November 13. Do I feel a psychic connection? Nah, not really.

So I got an e-mail from John: He writes:

Happy birthday to all those folks who can only celebrate every four years--if that! Poor ol' Rossini lost out in 1800.

BTW, you should listen to "Italian in Algiers" sometime. It's so much funnier than any sitcom on TV that it's not even in the same class. Embarrassingly Eurocentric by today's standards, but funny nonetheless.

If you can find it, listen to Respighi's "Suite Rossiniana" as well. It's based on themes from Rossini's later works, pieces he called "Sins of My Old Age."

Ya gotta admire a guy who worked his butt off for about 20 years, made tons of money, got famous, and then retired to Paris where (as a widower) he married a trophy wife and held salon for the last 30 years of his life.

I still like the two stories I told you in Iowa City about Rossini and turkeys:

1. "I only cried twice in my life: once when my mother died, and the other when I was on a picnic on Lake Como and a truffled turkey fell overboard."

2. "The turkey is a very disappointing bird. It's too bog for one and not big enough for two."

Rossini was a famous gourmand--certainly WAY beyond a gourmet, even if Turnedos Rossini is named for him. He was also a genuinely funny man. Bach could be a practical joker, and at other times was too dour for his own good, but Rossini could've been a stand-up comic. Problem is for some that many of his best jokes are written in music.

Stendahl wrote a brilliant biography of him.

But that brings up Leap Day. Once every 4 years February 29 is problematic for those born on that day.

An English law of 1256 decreed that in leap years, the leap day and the day before are to be reckoned as one day for the purpose of calculating when a full year has passed. Thus, in England and Wales a person born on February 29 legally reaches the age of 18 or 21 on February 28 of the relevant year.

There is a tradition that women may make a proposal of marriage to men only in leap years, further restricted in some cases to only February 29. There is a tradition that in 1288 the Scottish parliament under Queen Margaret legislated that any woman could propose in Leap Year; few parliament records of that time exist, and none concern February 29.

Another component of this tradition was that if the man rejects the proposal, he should soften the blow by providing a kiss, one pound currency, and a pair of gloves (some later sources say a silk gown). There were similar notions in France and Switzerland.

1904 - Jimmy Dorsey
1916 - Dinah Shore
1972 - Antonio Sabàto, Jr.,
1976 - Emma Barton,

Are among those born on February 29. Happy Birthday to all of you. By the way it is Feb RU ary....not Feb U ary. One of those little things that bothers my OCD. Hugs, ARTYAL, j

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alan Cedric Page - From Football to the State Supreme Court

Alan Page --

the former pro football great turned Minnesota Supreme Court justice -- has made a career of encouraging minority students to go to college.

The state Supreme Court, where Page has served since 1993, sometimes convenes in local schools to hold hearings and then answer student questions in an effort to demystify the judicial process.

He’s the founder of the Page Education Foundation, which has provided mentoring and almost 3,000 scholarships to encourage Minnesota students to continue their studies after high school. Page also helped establish the Kodak/Alan Page Challenge, a nationwide essay contest encouraging urban youth to recognize the value of education.

Page won lasting acclaim on the gridiron playing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears from 1967-1981. In 1971, he became the first defensive player in NFL history to receive the league's Most Valuable Player award.

In 1988, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At that ceremony, Page focused as much on education as sports.
“At the very best, athletic achievement might open a door that discrimination once held shut. But the doors slam quickly on the unprepared and the under-educated,” Page said. “Instead of making a real investment in education that could pay itself back many times, our society has chosen to pay the price three times: once, when we let the kids through the educational system; twice, when they drop out to a street life of poverty, dependence and maybe even crime; and a third time when we warehouse those who have crossed over the line and gotten caught. The cost of this neglect is immense, in dollars and in abuse of the human spirit. We must educate our children.”
Read more about him here, here and here.

This is the last post for my Black History Series. March is Woman's History Month so I will be preparing posts on Women for that month. Hope you have enjoyed the series, Hugs - jcs

Des Moines Consistory - Event

Hi Mike, Hope you found the Blog, J

The Des Moines Consistory held its Spring Kick Off tonight. It was a great event with Good Food and a great attendance from Arcadia Lodge. We did not have a meeting tonight so a lot of us were able to go down to attend the meeting. You can see more pictures and go to the Photo Gallery from the Des Moines Consistory Blog

ARTYAL. Hugs, jcs

Things My Mother Taught Me.

I found this over at Forks. As I read it I thought Dianne had made them all up and I was jealous (as I often am of her writing ability). Then she "fessed up" and said she got them from an e-mail. I think we can all relate. Now if she had just taught me how to make this d*&^n snow stop. jcs

1. My mother taught me: TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE."If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finishedcleaning."

2. My mother taught me: RELIGION."You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me: TIME TRAVEL."If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me: LOGIC.“Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me: MORE LOGIC."If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me: FORESIGHT."Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me: IRONY"Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS."Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me: CONTORTIONISM."Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA."You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me: WEATHER."This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me: HYPOCRISY."If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me: THE CIRCLE OF LIFE."I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION."Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me: ENVY."There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION."Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me: RECEIVING."You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me: MEDICAL SCIENCE."If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

19. My mother taught me: ESP."Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me: HUMOUR."When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me: HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT."If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me: GENETICS."I swear you're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS."Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me: WISDOM."When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favorite: My MOTHER TAUGHT ME ABOUT JUSTICE"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jackie Robinson

I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.
Jackie Robinson

From Wikepedia.

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) became the first African-American major league baseball player of the modern era in 1947.

While not the first African American professional baseball player in United States history, his Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended approximately eighty years of baseball segregation, also known as the baseball color line.

The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Robinson in 1962 and he was a member of six World Series teams. He earned six consecutive All-Star Game nominations and won several awards during his career. In 1947, Robinson won The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award and the first Rookie of the Year Award. Two years later, he was awarded the National League MVP Award.

In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Jackie Robinson was also a forerunner of the Civil Rights Movement. He was a key figure in the establishment and growth of the Freedom Bank, an African-American owned and controlled entity, in the 1960s. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column for a number of years, in which he was an outspoken supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Robinson engaged in political campaigning for a number of politicians, including the Democrat Hubert Humphrey and the Republican Richard Nixon.

Read more about him here, here and here.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Robinson was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[2]
On April 15, 1997, the 50 year anniversary of his debut, Major League Baseball retired the number 42, the number Robinson wore, in recognition of his accomplishments both on and off the field in a ceremony at Shea Stadium.[3] In 1950, he was the subject of a film biography, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which he played himself. He became a political activist in his post-playing days.

Old Minutes

I got a request from a Brother from Texas that I follow up on the Jack Trice article where we learned that Trice and others had rented rooms form the local Masonic Lodge. I brought the old minute books home to look through them and while I was unable to find out anything about that I did find the following minutes. They are about my great-grandfather George A.. Underwood who was Master of Arcadia Lodge 99 years before I was Master.

December 21, 1921
The lodge was called and opened as a funeral lodge to condct funeral services for Brother George A. Underwood, who had passed away the night of Dec. 15th, 1921, while living alone in his home at 307-5th Street, Ames. Brother Underwood was last seen on the evening of the 15th and was found in the afternoon of Dec. 17th by Brother Milo A Manning, who had called on a business matter and not being able to arouse any one enterred (sic) the house and found the body of Brother Underwood, in bed where he had peacefully passed away during the previous Thursday night as stated by the attending physician.
After opening the lodge Brother Feldman called Brother Boswoeth to the East to preside during the services. The funeral was held at the home of Brother Underwood's daughter, Mrs C. G. Cole (my grandmother) at the old Underwood homestead #522 Crawford Ave. the funeral sermon being preached by Brother H.K. Hawley, and Brother Bosworth gave the house Masonic burial service and then to the Ames cemetery where a short committal service was conducted by Brother Bosworth owing to the inclement weather, and the benediction was given by Brother Hawley. The lodge then returned to the hall and the lodge closed in due form. The Master appointed Brothers Bosworth, Stull and Fincham a committee on resolutions.

I did not find the resolutions (if they prepared them) in the minute book. It would have been interesting. I have always felt an affinity with my great grandfather. He was a lawyer and served as Mayor of Ames. As I said he was Master of the Lodge 99 years before me. Here is more information about him:

In 1875 George A Underwood graduated from the law department of the University of Wisconsin, married Augusta Ames and moved to Ames.

He joined the John Stevens Law Office as a junior partner, and later went into private practice and became a very brilliant lawyer. He served Ames as mayor form 1877 – 1879, and as city attorney from 1890 – 1894 (for which he was paid $50. per year).

George and Augusta lived in a house located just north of the Congregational Church until about 1890, and then built a home at 522 Crawford. Their farm was bounded by the railroad tracks on the south, timberland on the east side of the Skunk River, and 13th Street on the north. The Underwoods had four boys and two girls. The eldest son, Frank, served in the Spanish American War, and died quite young as a result of typhoid fever contracted in that war.
( Note: Since this was written we have found out that Frank actually committed suicide. The family never spoke of it but a cousin doing geneologic research discovered it and sent the newspaper articles to us.)
He and Lou were conductors on an electric trolley which ran between Ames and Campustown. Jean graduated from the Iowa State Veterinary Department and after having a private practice in Nevada, enlisted in World War I. He retired in the 1950’s as a Colonel. Carroll was a barber. Daughter Ethel married Warren H. Meeker, for whom Meeker School is named and daughter Sadie married Dr. C. G. “Dig” Cole.

Both Augusta and George were active in Masonic Organizations. Augusta was a charter member and one of the early Worthy Matrons of Laura Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. George was a Master of Arcadia Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in 1881, 1883 & 1901.
From Faces of our Founders: The Early Leaders of Ames, Iowa
Compiled by the Ames Heritage Association
So there you have it. If the minutes had had something about Jack Trice in them I would have been very pleased. I learned some things of interest . The Charity Fund was also established in 1921. The Acacia Fraternity regularly came to the Lodge and performed degrees. There were several times where I found that. One such meeting was attended by about 300 members. The usual attendance was 23 - 29 members. The old minutes of the lodges are a valuable asset to have. Years ago I read through most of them looking for the By-laws of the lodge so that we could have a revision of the By-laws. There is a lot of information in them. Dan Shaffer has also done this and his Tid-bits From the Past can be found on the Arcadia Web Site.
Thanks for reading. ARTYAL, Hugs jcs


Selling Ourselves Short?

The Boston Globe had an article recently called "Grape Expectations."
It begins:

SCIENTISTS AT CALTECH and Stanford recently published the results of a peculiar wine tasting. They provided people with cabernet sauvignons at various price points, with bottles ranging from $5 to $90. Although the tasters were told that all the wines were different, the scientists were in fact presenting the same wines at different prices.
The subjects consistently reported that the more expensive wines tasted better, even when they were actually identical to cheaper wines.
This got me to thinking about a similar problem with Freemasonry. I got out the 2006 Proceedings and did a little research. The average Initiation Fee charged by Iowa Lodges in 2005 was $64.59. 158 Lodges charge $50. That is the lowest fee. They then go up to one lodge charging $225. Our Lodge charged $100 at that time along with 32 other Lodges. 52 Lodges charged $75. Of those fees the Grand Lodge got $15. (Ask yourself - What does it cost to open the doors of the Temple and purchase the Lambskin ($26.00)and other paraphernalia that is required to put on a degree.)

Then there is the matter of dues. The dues that should support the day by day operation of the Temple. They ranged from $25. to two lodges charging $100. The average annual dues for that year was $41.42. At that time Arcadia Lodge charged $60. Last year we raised our dues to $80 and my other lodge (Acanthus) charges $75. That is a total of $155. which I pay for my Blue Lodge dues. Not much. When you figure it out it is about $13 a month or 43 cents a day. THAT IS LESS THAN I WILL PAY FOR MY COFFEE THIS AFTERNOON.

What do I get for that? I personally get a lot because I take advantage of my membership. I get to attend (and take minutes for one of the Lodges) meetings almost every week. I get the brotherhood and fellowship of (mostly) like-minded men. I also get to identify myself with the greatest fraternity in the world and proudly display my affiliations on rings, lapel pins, belt buckles and my car.

I get to visit with knowledgeable Brothers in person and on the Internets and I can discuss important topics with them.

Because of this article in the paper we have been discussing how Masonry sells itself short.

One brother wrote:
In the first two-and-a-half decades of the twentieth century, initiation fees and dues for someone petitioning an Iowa Lodge for membership would be somewhere close to $300 today. Adjusted for inflation, average dues would be (if I remember correctly) somewhere about $135, including the per capita.
...we STILL are slowly going bankrupt.

WHY is it that our dear Brethren are more than happy to pay $2,000 a year to play golf, but unwilling to pay $100 a year to keep their Lodge afloat?

The year before I was Master here, we raised our dues from $60 a year including the per capita to $100 a year EXCLUDING the per capita. We will need to raise them again in a couple of years. And out guys all understand that. I undertook a fairly extensive PowerPoint presentation to explain why we needed the raise. ... We lost NO members because of the dues increase!!

The CR Consistory is in even worse shape. If you go back to 1920, the initiation fees and dues for the Scottish Degrees in Cedar Rapids were the equivalent, in todays dollars, of about $3,000. Men STOOD IN LINE TO JOIN!!! Why? Because they were persuaded--correctly--that they were receiving something of greater value in return. THAT'S how Cedar Rapids--and Des Moines, for that matter--built AND PAID FOR IN CASH such wonderful Scottish Rite Temples in the late 1920s (same years, in fact...)

Today's men between the ages of 20 and 50 are ACCUSTOMED to receive equivalent value for what they pay

Another brother writes:

Actually, this can affect Freemasonry in complementary ways. (Not complimentary.) First off, we charge WAY too little. Something that only costs $75 a year can't be worth much.

On the other hand, we often grossly over advertise what we are actually going to deliver. (Not more than we should deliver, just more than we actually do.) So one act sets low expectations. One sets high expectation.

Perhaps the latter keep people hanging around for three years after they are initiated, even though they are not getting their moneys worth. Then after three years, they forget all those promises and lofty goals, and see only the low price.
And the first Brother also wrote this little story which says a lot
There is a story, a true one, I believe, about an Iowa Brother who winters in Florida. While in Florida he was a regular attendee at a Lodge in that state. One day he was having lunch at the local Country Club where he was a member, and got to talking with a retired Admiral about our Gentle Craft. The more he spoke of the lessons and benefits of Freemasonry, the more intrigued the Admiral became. The Admiral was all ready to sign a petition, and excited about the prospect. He took out his check book. "What will it cost?" he asked.

Our Brother told him that the total fees and dues for the Florida Lodge were $150, and annual dues were $50 after that.

"Something that cheap CAN'T be everything you say it is. On second thought, I'm not interested."


Our Grand Lodge puts out a list of Ten Reasons To Become a Mason.
There is nothing really wrong with the list but I am not sure that those reasons would (by themselves) have influenced me to want to be a Mason.

My mother had mentioned to me that I "might enjoy" the Masons. My principal was wearing a Masonic ring and I noticed it and mentioned it to him and he brought me into the fraternity. I did not "enroll" in the fraternity right away. I had to come to Ames to get involved. Once I had my degrees no one really cared if I came to Lodge or not. I got involved in Eastern Star and the York Rite here in Ames and eventually my great aunt wrote me a letter and asked me "What are you doing for yor Blue Lodge?" She knew where my focus should be. So I went out and asked for the only office I have ever asked for in Freemasonry - the Junior Steward. This was really the beginning of my Masonic Journey. I have gotten full value for my money.

I am not sure that happens everywhere. Lodges who don't do much and don't charge much undervalue what they have to offer. They need to do a self-assessment and decide whether or not they are really giving their members value for their money. Sloppy degrees, little or no social events, boring business meetings. Who would want to pay much for that. Those lodges need to change.

Some have been saying that for several years. Charge a lot, and them make the product worth the price. That means included banquets (not soup suppers), real education programs (not 5 minute paper readings), social events, real community involvement, etc.
If, I as a person in today's society cannot find value in my Lodge I will soon leave it. I have other things I can do. I am very fortunate in what occurs in both of my Lodges. We have capable Brothers who enjoy ritual and the degrees which are put on are of good quality (although some folks think they could be "better") and the candidates are impressed. We have dinners and social activities which include the family. One Lodge is going as a group to see "The Producers" when it comes to town. We have a lot planned. The other Lodge also has activities and both of them have Education programs which are involving the members.

The Scottish Rite has always been able to "sell" itself. That title of Thirty-second Degree really appeals to some people. The Des Moines Valley has a real program of activity which is varied and involves the membership. If you look at the report of the 2007 activities over on the Consistory Blog you will see what I mean. Because of that more people are participating. There was still a big loss of membership due to Non-payment of dues. So something did not appeal to those members. I would like to see a study of the age of those who dropped out and how long they had been members of the Rite. The dues there are high but not really all that high for what you can get.

I think our leaders (?) need to address the problems and find ways to combat them. One of the ways is to increase the "snob appeal" - Make being a Mason an important part of our society. There should be the perception that Masons are "special" that they are quality.  We should charge for the quality product we offer and then deliver that product. People who "drink the wine of Freemasonry" should leave with the satisfaction of a wonderful wine, a quality wine that makes them keep coming back for more.

My grandmother always taught me that you were better off to purchase things of quality rather than a quantity of things which would wear out soon and be thrown away. Masonry should be like that - Quality is the keystone. It will save (complete) the Temple.

William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn

Many people have heard of Duke Ellington. Now read about the man who for years worked in his shadow and was his collaborator and helped make the Duke who he was.
Both men made contributions to the world of Jazz, but Strayhorn doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Official Site

William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 – May 31, 1967) was an American composer, pianist and arranger, best known for his successful collaboration with bandleader and composer Duke Ellington lasting two decades. His compositions include "Chelsea Bridge", Take the "A" Train and Lush Life.

Though classical music was Strayhorn’s first love, his ambition to become a classical composer was shot down by the harsh reality of a black man trying to make it in the then completely white classical world. Strayhorn was then introduced to the music of pianists like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson at age 19. These musicians guided him into the realm of jazz where he stayed creating masterpieces for the rest of his life.

His first jazz exposure was a combo called the "Mad Hatters" who played around Pittsburgh, until he met Duke Ellington in December, 1938, after an Ellington performance in Pittsburgh (he had first seen Ellington play in Pittsburgh in 1933). Here he first told, and then showed, the band leader how he would have arranged one of Duke's own pieces. Ellington was impressed enough to invite other band members to hear Strayhorn. At the end of the visit he arranged for Strayhorn to meet him when the band returned to New York. Strayhorn worked for Ellington for the next quarter century as an arranger, composer, occasional pianist and collaborator until his early death from cancer. As Ellington described him, "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine".[2]

His relationship with Ellington was always difficult to pin down: Strayhorn was a gifted composer and arranger who seemed to flourish in Duke's shadow. Ellington was somewhat of a father figure and the band, by and large, was affectionately protective of the diminutive, mild-mannered, unselfish Strayhorn, nicknamed by the band "Strays", "Weely", and "Swee' Pea". Ellington may have taken advantage of him, but not in the mercenary way that others had taken advantage of Ellington; instead, he used Strayhorn to complete his thoughts, while giving Strayhorn the freedom to write on his own and enjoy at least some of the credit he deserved.
Strayhorn composed the band's theme, Take the A Train, and a number of other pieces that became part of the band’s repertoire.


Read more about him here, here and here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Picking up the Cousins/Ashlar Award

Aunt Jo and I drove to Des Moines tonight to pick up Lee and Amy who flew in from Dallas. Lee's plane landed around noon and he just hung around the airport until we got there. Amy wasn't due in until 9:00.

We picked up Lee and took him to the Chef's Kitchen for dinner. Jo and I both had prime rib sandwiches that were more than we could eat. Amy got the left overs. Lee had a chicken dish. As usual it was really good.

Lee kept checking on the plane and we knew it was delayed but eventually Amy got here. She got her luggage and we got back to Ames about 10:30. She kept remarking on the snow. I told her we imported it especially from Nebraska for her. (We import all of out weather from Nebraska.) They will be here until Sunday and I will take them back. We had a good visit on the way home and while we waited for Amy's plane to land.

Their little dog, Harley has diabetes and Lee has to give him an insulin shot twice a day. I love Harley and don't think it is fair for him to have to have this sucky disease.
My friends Fredrick and Kurt have both earned their Ashlar Awards from the Grand Lodge. The Ashlar Award provides recognition and is a guide for a new Mason as he starts down the path to Masonic education and enrollment.

There are three sections to the award and the Mason must earn points in each area.

Section I: In this section they are introduced to the elementary parts of Masonry. They are asked to attend Lodge and become familiar with the form and function of their Lodge. They sign the by-laws as a Masonic record of the covenant they have with all Masons, but more especially the Brothers of their Lodge.

Proficiency in the Enlightenment Course provides a solid foundation to work from on their Masonic path.

Section II: Attending the degrees will reinforce the symbols and lessons contained in each degree. Over the years each time they see or participate in a degree they will find more and more is revealed. A Lodge of Instruction deepens the understanding of the details that are incorporated in each degree. Visiting other Lodges begins to spread the Masonic bonds of Fellowship and Friendship that bind us all together as Brothers.

Section III: This section involves specific study of the parts of Masonry that hold particular interest to the member. After learning more as we seek further knowledge in Masonry, it is only natural to want to share that knowledge with our peers and family. Attending a Grand Lodge Cornerstone Laying, Rededication, Reception, Communication, or other event
allows us to continue to build the bonds that cement us all together. Donating time is an outward and visible way of expressing our desire to improve our community.

Section IV: In this section he shares his knowledge and leadership skills to benefit others. He finds a great deal of satisfaction when he completes this program. However, this is only the beginning of his Masonic Journey.

Each Brother who amasses 380 points and submits the application receives an “Ashlar Award.” The top ten Award recipients each Masonic year are recognized at the annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.
One of those top ten will be selected by the Grand Master to receive the “New Mason of the Year” Award.

Congratulations Brothers, I am proud of you. ARTYAL, Hugs, j

Morality - by Aunty Nonymous

I am still (and will be for a while) reading War and Peace. This weekend I was reading a section where a girl (not so young, almost an old maid based on the thoughts of that time) was thinking about her older brother, and wondering how events in his life were affecting his "moral" being. I pondered this, trying to figure out just how the word "moral" applied. (I just checked in my electronic version of the book, and different words are used in that translation.) The syntax seemed to reflect more on his mental state and well being, rather than to his behavior.

I checked with wictionary, and they have the usual definitions

of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behaviour, especially for teaching right behavior--moral judgments, a moral poem

conforming to a standard of right behaviour; sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment--a moral obligation

capable of right and wrong action--moral agent

Synonyms (conforming to a standard or right behavior): ethical, virtuous, righteous, noble

But then they continue:

probable but not proved--a moral certainty

positively affecting the mind, confidence or will--a moral victory, moral support

Synonyms (provable but not proved): virtual, incorruptible

These latter definitions are definitely still valid; we still use those phrases, but we don't normally think of them as morality. They actually are more closely related to the word "morale." Morale is defined in my Merriam Webster dictionary as:

the mental and emotional condition (enthusiasms, confidence) of an individual with regard to the function or task at hand

a sense of common purpose with respect to a group

the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future

In many ways, these latter definitions seem as closely aligned to the principles of Freemasonry as those related to ethics.

Since I am somewhat of a skeptic, and always willing to look at things differently, the following question jumped into my mind. Which morality was intended when first Preston and then Webb wrote their "Illustrations of Freemasonry"? Were they the same? What is meant when we say that Freemasonry is a system or a science of "morality"? Of course, today we interpret the word as we currently believe its meaning to be. It must obviously be related to right and wrong behavior, and is synonymous with ethics and virtuous behavior. But remember, Tolstoy was writing in the middle 19th century, not that long after Preston. (Of course he was writing in Russian and French, not English.) And he was writing about the very early 19th century, which was almost contemporary with Preston. How was the word used back then? Could it be that the Fraternity of Freemasons was actually designed to be a system to expand the mind and increase the confidence of its members, not to improve their ethics and behavior? That would certainly be compatible with the extensive study of science promoted in the Fellowcraft Degree.

Preston says that the FC Degree provides a complete "system of science, based on a solid foundation". He says that the EA Degree provides a "system of morality" which MUST be the solid foundation for the FC Degree. Having a system of science based on certainty, confidence, and a positive mind could make more sense than one based on ethics and virtue, especially at a time when science, the study of "what is", was replacing the religion based philosophies of "what must be". The early days of the fraternity were exemplified by socializing, drinking, and the development of self-serving networks--FRATERNITY. So when did the conversion to ethics and virtue get involved. It was definitely there in some form during Tolstoy's time. Tolstoy's Freemasons, at least some of them, were serious about improving themselves, living uprightly, and contributing to the betterment of society. Perhaps there was a "mystical" fringe element of the group who suborned the mission of the fraternity to their own ends, converting its purposes, changing its ritual, completely redefining its function. Ahah, so there really was a conspiracy!
We've been taken over by a bunch of do gooders. I wonder what they did with the treasure.

Ralph Nader

Dom's Blog

Dom Caristi (parent of former students) is a professor at Ball State University. He and his wife Kim are currently in Italy and he is writing a blog about his experiences there. (I love vicarious travel) In his post I read this morning he mentions that the song below is 50 years old this year. It takes me back to California when I was visiting my Aunt Ellen. We had a lot of fun and would sing along with it. Songs can take me right back to events in my past. Ten years later I was again in California but the memories then were of drifting sweet smelling smoke as I visited a "Love-in" in a park. Hippies. I have experienced a lot in my life. Enjoy the song and visit Dom's Blog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Level Redeaux

Brother Bryce reminded me of the following from the Masonic Installation which should have been in my post about the Level

The Level demonstrates that we are descended from the same stock, partake of the same nature, and share the same hope; and, though distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, yet no eminence of station should make us forget that we are brethren; for he who is placed on the lowest spoke of fortune's wheel may be entitled to our regard; because, a time will come, and the wisest knows not how soon, when all distinctions, but that of goodness, shall cease; and death, the grand leveler of human greatness, reduce us to the same state.

Johnnie Carr, Civil Rights Activist

"Look back, but march forward"

Johnnie Carr died last Friday. I had not know about her but it looks to me like she was a truly great person.

"Johnnie Carr is one of the three major icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and Johnnie Carr," said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "I think ultimately, when the final history books are written, she'll be one of the few people remembered for that terrific movement."

Carr succeeded the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1967, a post she held at her death. It was the newly formed association that led the boycott of city buses in the Alabama capital in 1955 after Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to whites on a crowded bus.

As president of the MIA the past four decades, Carr had been a leader in numerous initiatives to improve race relations and conditions for black people. She was involved in a suit to desegregate Montgomery schools, with then 13-year-old Arlam the named plaintiff.

"She was always an encourager and not a divider," Mayor Bobby Bright told the Montgomery Advertiser. "She was just a loving person. She was truly the mother figure that we all so desperately needed in Montgomery during a very trying period of our history.

Read more here and here,


I did go to the Doctor today about my tinnitus. Turns out I am just going to have to put up with it.

I did have a hearing exam and have just a little lower register loss in the left ear but nothing to be concerned about. I go back in six months. It will be the end of August in six months. It will be warm.

I am going to pick up Amy and Lee at the airport tomorrow. I will pick up Jo and we will go down to get them Lee's plane gets in earlier so I am going to take them to Chef's Inn for supper.

I love the Internets and Google. You can find out anything. I am reading Standard of Honor, A Templar Novel by Jack Whyte and he mentioned someone being frog-marched. Now I know what that means but I wondered about the origin of the word. It first came into slang in 1871 according to The Word Detective. I do love the resource that is available to me and I never catch these things but this one I did.

Dorothy G sent me this picture. We need flowers.
Especially since it is snowing again.


Dianne over at Forks Off The Moment has written an incredible post. It tells about the struggle she had raising her son as a single mother and it tells about Everyday Kindness which is something she is trying to live by. I sent her an e-mail and congratulated her on a fine post. (She is so good, I recommend you read her regularly.)

It got me to thinking about my father. He wasn't much of one. Al Simser left my mother for one of his girlfriends when I was about 3 years old. He was a womanizer and he was a salesman who had girlfriends all over the state. I have one memory of him when I was little. He and Doris came up and picked me up and took me for a ride in his convertible. Mom told me later that I called him Al and was already calling my grandfather "Dad." (Which is what my mother and all her sisters called him.) He never came back.

When I graduated from High School I sent him an announcement. I figured the $25.00 a month he sent once in awhile entitled him to at least an invitation. I did get a card back telling me I was welcome to come down to their home any time. I was disappointed.

When I was in college I was dating a really neat girl who had been adopted. She had looked up her birth mother and had a really nice relationship with her. She encouraged me to contact my father, so I did.

I was invited to come to Des Moines (Yes, all this time he had lived 30 miles away from me and never once had he contacted me.) So I went down and met him. I liked his wife, Doris, (the woman he had left my mother for) as she was friendly and a really nice person. Al had raised her two sons and so I guess he didn't need me. Doris told me that he was very strict with them as he thought they were a reflection on him.

I went down several times but I finally figured out that it was always me going down to visit him. I wasn't really invited (except by Doris) and eventually stopped going. I did keep in touch with Doris and enjoyed that contact.

Al left her for a woman he met who lived in Atlantic, Iowa. He did not stop womanizing. My cousin John's wife told me about how he tried to pick her and her girl friend up in a bar in Des Moines and get them to go back to his room for some "fun" - She recognized his last name and asked him if he was related to me. he acknowledged that I was "probably" his son. From then on he became "probably" my father.

Al Simser wasn't really a presence in my life but it probably bothered me that I didn't have him there. I had a father figure in my grandfather who was the finest man I have ever known. I also had some great Uncles who "filled in" as a father. All in all he wasn't much of a person as far as I was concerned.

That is probably why when his third wife invited me down to Atlantic to visit his grave I wrote and told her that since he had chosen not to have a relationship with me in life I chose not to have one with him in death. I suppose I would have liked the emotional closeness that I missed out on by not having a father but I won't ever know. I know I tried once to have a close relationship and it didn't work out and that caused me a great deal of sadness. But all in all I am all right.

I hate it, though, when I see kids who don't have a father in their lives because their father has left their mother for one reason or another. I despise deadbeat dads. I don't like it when I hear about kids who need glasses or something and the mother who is doing her best to raise the little girl who needs the glasses and her sister and brother can't afford them and tells the clerk "I will have to see if her father will pay for them." (She had her glasses the next day but don't tell anyone.)

If I had a lot of money I would start a foundation to help these moms and their kids.

What is it about the male ego that will enable them to justify leaving their wife and kids with nothing just so they can have a 'trophy wife." I can understand two people not being able to stay married but I can't understand not taking care of your kids.

I think I told Dianne that we needed to have people tested before they can have children. If they can't pass the test they can't have the kids. That would really be a "No Child Left Behind" Act. I am sure the Republicans can come up with a test. After all they seem to be able to do it for everything else.

Anyway the one thing I really regret is that I never had any kids. So I adopt other people's if they will let me and that is not often. I get to be an Uncle and a Brother and I guess that is enough. If you have a chance, do something nice for a kid. And do it without hope of fee or reward. And Always Remember That You Are Loved. Hugs, Uncle j-bear

The Church Organist

The Organ has been changed because John told me to.

Miss Beatrice, the church organist, was in her eighties and had never been married. She was admired for her sweetness and kindness to all. One afternoon the pastor came to call on her and she showed him into her quaint sitting room. She invited him to have a seat while she prepared tea. As he sat facing her old Hammond organ, the young minister noticed a cut-glass bowl sitting on top of it. The bowl was filled with water, and in the water floated, of all things, a condom!

When she returned with tea and scones, they began to chat. The pastor tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its strange floater, but soon it got the better of him and he could no longer resist. 'Miss Beatrice', he said, 'I wonder if you would tell me about this?' pointing to the bowl.

'Oh, yes,' she replied, 'Isn't it wonderful? I was walking through the Park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground. The directions said to place it on the organ, keep it wet and that it would prevent the spread of disease. Do you know I haven't had the flu all winter.'

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make it a brotherhood. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Nobel Peace Prize 1964

From Wikepedia.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time.

He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Here he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Martin Luther King Day was established as a national holiday in the United States in 1986. In 2004, King was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.

Read more about hime here, here and here.


OK, I am going to try something new. I am going to watch the Oscars with my laptop open and make (maybe nasty) comments on what I am watching. Perhaps it will keep me awake.

My God, Mickey Rooney is still alive.

Helen Mirren is incredible. I am in love with her. She is wearing a "rather dramatic" dress because she is "playing a madam in a whorehouse." Sounds like fun. The Queen plays a madam.

Amy Adams - Enchanted and Charlie Wilson's War. I saw both of them.

I didn't watch Barbar Walters' special but I did catch the interview with Harrison Ford. Lucky guy to shack up with Calista Flockhart. He has 6 airplanes and once in awhile he flies into Ames to eat at Hickory Park. He doesn't know that Battle's Barbecue is really better.

Regis is backstage making the dancers nervous.

They have begun. 80th year. Jon Stewart. "Writer's strike is over - Welcome to the make-up sex." He just slammed Vanity Fair. justifiable. Just him out there talking making them all laugh. He is the connsumate comedian.

Jack Nicholson just has fun. A lawyer joke.

Diablo Cody - Iowa Connection on State 29.

Costume Design - Elizabeth the Golden Age. Alexandra Byrne

I love the flashback.s Barbara (See I do know how to spell it - I was just being a smart ass with Ms Walters) Striesand when she tied to get her Oscar. She was the most talented person that Hollywood ignored and she should have gotten many more Oscars for her work. She is incredible. (Plus she is a Democrat)

George Clooney (so good) just introduced the retrospect. I love those with the clips of every thing they can squeeze in and I marvel at how much I can remember.

Best Animated Feature - Ratatoule
Make up - La Vie En Rose. I went to Des Moines to see that one. It was a great film

Amy Adams is just now singing the first nominated song from Enchanted. Happy Working Song. It was a cute song but she didn't really do all that great a job singing it.

Jon wants to be dating someone like Michael Douglas' wife when he is Michael's age. He was just here to change the Kitty litter. I suppose I will have to do that when he goes to College. Next week-end he goes to the University of Iowa for interviews.

Achievement in Art Direction - The Golden Compass. I really enjoyed this film when it came out. I had enjoyed the books when I read them and the movie was great.

Sweeney Todd - Art Direction - I messed up somehow on this and they both just both won an Oscar. I loved Sweeney Todd and since both movies were visually satisfying I am glad for both of them.

Actor in a Supporting Role -Javier Bardem
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN - He is one happy guy - grinning from ear to ear. I may have to go see that movie or put it on my Netflix list when it comes out. First Oscar "moment" according to Jon Stewart and I have to agree.

2nd nominated song - From August Rush - Raise it Up
I was going to see this movie and then heard a couple of negative reviews so skipped it. I am not impressed with thi song although there are some great people performing it.

Owen Wilson is presenting the Live Actions short film. He looks good.
Philippe Pollet-Villard - Frech is such a beautiful language.

Short Film - Animated - PETER & THE WOLF
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman - This story is timeless and I am glad to see it is still providing fodder for film

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Tilda Swinton
MICHAEL CLAYTON She was really good in this part. She really played the part well. I really disliked her character and that means something as she is not that way.

I was kind of hoping Ruby Dee would have gotten the award as I saw the clip from American Gangster. That is another movie going on my queue for Netflix

Adapted Screenplay
Written for the Screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Third song - "That's How You Know" Also from Enchanted Performed by Kristin Chenoweth
who is just incredible. Big production number and I love them. Always the highlight for me. She is just a doll.

So Jay, Where are your nasty comments? You know I don't really know I always watch these darn things and usually I have something to crab about but these are moving right along and I am enjoying them . Go figure!

Oh here we go. Oprah Big Give is being advertised. I really don't like Oprah. Don't know why. Just not my favorite person.

Jon Stewart's jokes about pregnant actresses was just a flop. Not funny, Jon.

Best Sound Editing -
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg - I went to this movie and enjoyed it a lot. I remember talking to Jon about it and telling him that the next Bourne move would probably be entitled. Bourne Again

Best Sound Mixing -
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis

Best Actress
I am hoping that Marion Cotillard gets it. She was marvelous in La Vie En Rose
AND SHE WON! - I have tears in my eyes. I have loved Edith Piaf forever and this was an incredible movie and Marion was superb (marked to the highest degree by grandeur, excellence, brilliance, or competence) - Her acceptance was the second Oscar "moment" of the evening.

Fourth Song - ONCE
"Falling Slowly"
For some reason I was not as taken with this film as others were. The music just did not do much for me. Pleasant song when preformed tonight. Perhaps it was the mood I was in when i went to see the film. Might have been when I was trying to get myself together, Hell I am still trying to get myself together. Maybe someday.
They just ran through the 80 pictures which had won Bes Picture. I was amazed to see how many of them I have seen and how many I had not seen.

Film Editing -
Christopher Rouse
Third one for this movie. It really was good.

Nichole Kidman is so beautiful She just presented an Honorary Oscar to Robert Boyle - 98 years old and he looks better than me - Well anyway he has more hair.

Well this is probably the dumbest thing I have eve done on my blog. I probably should not have done it but if you aren't enjoying it you don't have to read it and it is keeping me awake. I love the Cadillac commercial "The real question is - when you turn your car on does it return the favor."

Foreign Lnguage Film
Austria Penelope Cruz presented the award,
Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky

Fourth song ENCHANTED
"So Close"
Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
Beautiful production number but not performed well.

John Travolta presented the song award. (I really don't like him) It went to
"Falling Slowly"
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

I wonder how many of these guys are Masons. I knoe that Ernie Borgnine is a Mason. 33rd Degree and member of the Red Cross of Constantine. I also remember Orson Wells paying tribute to John Huston (or maybe it was the other way around) who said "We have both heard the chimes at Midnight." So I knew that they were both Masons.

Jon Stewart brought out Marketa Irglova to say her thank you as she wasn't allowed to do it. I don't think that has ever been done before. Really neat. She is sweet. I think it was the best song.

Cinematography -THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Robert Elswit -

Memorial Tribute - This is always a hard thing to watch. But we do need to be reminded of those who have gone. Suzanne Plechette and Debora Kerr were among those who passed this past year and of course, Heath Ledger. I really did like him. I have seen him in several movies and it is tragic that he died so young. I think it was very brave of him to take on the role he played in Brokeback Mountain (which should have won Best Picture)

Music Score -
Dario Marianelli

Tom Hanks introduced soldiers in Baghdad - who announced the Best Documentary Short Film. FREEHELD
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth

Documentary Feature - TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

They are advertising A Raisin in the Sun which is on tomorrow night. I was working backstage when Martin Luther King was assisinated and I don't remember much about the play. I think I will watch it tomorrow just to see if I do remember any of it.

Original Screenplay - JUNO
Written by Diablo Cody
As I said she has an Iowa connection. I am really glad to see her win. Plus she has a really nice tatoo.

Best Actor Helen Mirren presented the award and she did the best job introducing the award. She is so tremendous. Just the way she read off the list of attributes brought chills to me. I really hope Johnny Depp wins the award. Sweeney Todd was an incredible movie.
Daniel Day-Lewis
THERE WILL BE BLOOD I remember the first time I saw him was in The Last of the Mohicans I didn't see There Will Be Blood. It may go on my Netflix list. Speaking of Netflix. I ordered it because I wanted to watch the British SciFi show Torchwood. I have them on my list and they are not sending them to me. So I am not putting any more on the list until I get them.

Best Director is next NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Again I have not seen this movie.

Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
They won three Oscars for this film tonight.

It is now 10:45. I started this at 7:30. Jon Stewart was a good host. On his show he does a lot of yelling but tonight he was very good. Now I must go and do my Black History Post for tomorrow. ARTYAL Hugs, j


I really think that the reason the critics didn't go for this movie was that it is just an action flick and probably has no deeper message other than it was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

There was no great acting in the film but all of the actors were competent and gave very enjoyable believable performances. I enjoyed the premise. That some people could jump from place to place at will taking things with them (Although it might have been more interesting if they hadn't been able to do so and wound up like the Terminator (nude) ) But then it would have been harder to steal things or take your girlfriend on a trip.

Samuel L. Jackson' character (a paladin) is out to eradicate all the jumpers. I thought his character "sucked." I didn't like the motivation."Because you are an abomination. Only God can have the power to be everywhere at once." I mean really, isn't that just a little hokey? Oh yeah, the other reason is that "Eventually you all turn bad." Just a little weak in my opinion.

The young actors were more fun as they figured out ways to use the powers to live well and prosper ("I mean, what would you do if you were 15?") And I was very satisfied with the ending.

All in all I went not expecting a "great" picture and that is what I got not a "great" picture but an enjoyable 88 minutes and the popcorn was excellent. Oh yes, I also got to see the trailer for Indiana Jones 4 on the big screen. Jon had me watch it on the computer last night and it was better in the theater. Now I have something else to look forward to. (That and 10,000 BC.)

I am watching the Oscars tonight. ARTYAL Hugs, j-bear

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Muhammad Ali

I saw Muhammad Ali one time when I was in California visiting my aunt Ellen and she took me to see the Joey Bishop show. He was the guest that evening. Below are some of the wise things he has said over the years.

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.

Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.

If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.

It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe

The man who has no imagination has no wings.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.
Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, known for his lyrical charm and boasts as much as for his powerful fists, has moved far beyond the boxing ring in both influence and purpose. Ali won an Olympic gold medal and later tossed it into a river because he was disgusted by racism in America. As a young man he was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in Vietnam--a professional fighter willing to serve time in jail for his pacifist ideals. He has contributed to countless, diverse charities and causes. And his later years have found him interested in world politics as he has battled to keep Parkinson's disease at bay.

Parkinson's disease has made him a more spiritual person. Muhammad believes God gave it to him to bring him to another level, to create another destiny." stated his wife in People.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, 3.5 billion people watched on television as three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali slowly ascended the stadium steps with trembling hands to ignite the Olympic Flame. Everyone was deeply touched, however, No one was more moved than Ali himself. "He kept turning it [the torch] in his hands and looking at it. He knows now that people won't slight his message because of his impairment." said his wife Lonnie in People.

You can read about his life here, here and here,
You can also visit his website here.

Iowa's Grand Master

Tim Bryce has written an article in which he pays trbute to Iowa's Grand Master. It may be read here.

It is nice to see M. W. Brother Don being appreciated.

Acanthus Waveland Park School OES

The Chapter Room was ready.

District Instructor Jean Koss (The Best) checking her notes. (She loves to have her picture taken.
Jean and PGM Diane sharing a moment in the hall before we started.
The tête et tête at the Break.
You can see why we all liked this Sister. Great sense of humor.

I stopped to see PGM Charlie Brinkerhoff on my way to the school. They had moved him to Mercy Capital for Rehab after what turns out to be a stroke. He is is good spirits and is hoping to be able to leave the hospital next week. I took him a copy of the Masonic Sports Illustrated and he promptly began to ignore me. I set up his laptop so he can compute and by the time I got home he was already e-mailing. He sent me two e-mail jokes that had me chuckling (read that rolling on the floor).

I talked to my cousin Loren on the phone. He had a knee replaced and is coming along fine. Works a couple of hours each day. I feel guilty that I have not gotten up to see him. He gave me the excuse of the lousy weather but that is really no excuse. I will get up to see him this week (I hope) ARTYAL. Hugs, jcs