Does Even Sex Work In This God Forsaken Place?

When in Canada, I cannot tell how far I have to go. They have those 'thingies' instead of miles. I cannot tell how hot it is. They don't know how to display temperature the right way. My cell phone won't work. My wife, as always, demands steamy romance on our getaway. How do I know THAT will work in this barbaric place? Image

Still, there were good things. At the festival in Guelph, municipal water tankers appear so everyone can refill their supply. An environmental concern, a local tells us. No plastic bottles to litter with. In the U.S., we like the environment, too, but we also like socking it to people for two bucks a bottle.

Cops were there, too, but almost out of sight. That is not necessarily a good thing, for our cops are friendly and folks feel they are being looked out for. It is just a different thing.

It was an odd hotel manager. Mrs. Harley asked where the brochures were advertising the highlights of the area. The manager said he knew all the highlights, and then went on the explain that there weren’t any – the town was not what it used to be. His assistant manned the desk the next morning. It was raining. How long will the rain continue? We asked. ‘Till 4,’ she replied.

It cleared up in half and hour and was pleasant as could be for the rest of the day.

Perhaps it is just because we hail from the land of Trump.


Can't a Man Drink His Coffee in Peace, for Crying Out Loud?

With outdoor temps in the 90s, I was at the swimming hole yesterday. A lot of young people were there. Tattooed have never offended me, but the kids do look like walking billboards these days.

I once knew a young woman of artistic bent who was heavily tattooed, including her neck and face. She came to regret it because people formed an instant impression of her different from what she wanted to project.

I refuse to even wear a tee shirt with printing on it, though I may one day have one printed up with an image I like a lot. Image


The Judge of the Earth Always Does What is Right

Though some carry on about it more than you think they should, nobody can ever say that in a lifetime of service to God, you won’t experience some injustice. It is not business-as-usual routine, but when it does happen, it can be serious. All the more so because you expect trouble from the general world, but not from the brotherhood. When it comes, it throws you for a loop. It is like the verse quoted in the Watchtower study this week, Psalm 55: 12-14:

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me; Otherwise I could put up with it. It is not a foe who has risen up against me; otherwise I could conceal myself from him. But it is you, a man like me, my own companion, whom I know well. We used to enjoy a warm friendship together; into the house of God we used to walk along with the multitude.”

The study article was illustrated with one real-life injustice, and one from the scriptures. A Brother Diehl from 1949 is mentioned. He caught all kinds of heat when he decided to marry. Brothers were all serious back then about single persons in the circuit or Bethel work remaining single, a situation that was not resolved, legend has it, until Brother Knorr himself married. Now THAT’S human! Let nobody say that these guys aren’t. Diehl could certainly be understood if he bellyached about it, but it wouldn’t do him any good. All he could do was get others stirred up. So he waited it out. He was right, but he didn’t make a big deal over it. Eventually, everyone came around. He took it on the chin for a while.

The example from scripture is more serious. Joseph was sold out by his brothers and ended up in slavery. A silver lining eventually materialized and he became a big cheese in Potipher’s house, then he was slammed again and sent to prison for 13 years. Believe me, I would whine plenty about it, but if Joseph did, there is no record of it. What the record shows is that overall he allowed it to mold him:

"But now do not be upset and do not reproach one another because you sold me here; because God has sent me ahead of you for the preservation of life … So, then, it was not you who sent me here, but it was the true God, in order to appoint me as chief adviser to Pharoah and lord for all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 45:5-8)

He didn’t know he would be appointed chief adviser to Pharoah until he was, and had he moaned forever about his kidnapping and later imprisonment, he wouldn’t have been. Everyone could have understood him bitching, but it wouldn’t have done him any good. People screw things up. Usually, their motive is not bad, but sometimes it is, as in Joseph’s case. Often, you don’t have the power to fix things. You do have the power, however, to make them worse.

(‘The Judge of the Earth Always Does What is Right;’ the Watchtower, April 2017 – study edition)


Sir, can I interest you in some kitchenware?

You can listen In on the phone line when you miss a meeting, but I chose not to do it. I remembered my old man’s words from long ago: “let him go hungry if he can’t be bothered to show up for dinner – I guarantee it won’t happen twice.” Besides, I didn’t want to hear Sister Faithful comment: “So we must all remember our vow to Jehovah. We should not be like Brother Harley, sitting on his rear end at home, trading his birthright for a bowl of garage sale soup!”

Yeah, but it was a nice garage sale. For once in our lives, it was worth holding. Everyone knows I don’t do garage sales. By the time Harleys are done with something, there ain’t nothing left of it to sell. It’s different this time. We are seriously downsizing, so as to spare our kids some not so fine day the nightmare that my wife’s parents neglected to spare us. Plus, we have significant items from the home of the Great Forgetter to add. It’s a piece of cake to sneak them out before him, for he is also the All Unseeing One. Even if he should catch you red-handed, he immediately forgets what he has caught.

All Forgetting and All Unseeing. It’s a lethal combination. It reminds me of my words to a coworker about the public we both served. "Ican deal with a stupid person. I can deal with a belligerent person. But a stupid AND a belligerent person stops me in my tracks." "Yeah, that’s pretty unstoppable,” he agreed.

I was even ready for the pro who unfailingly appears at the crack of dawn to scoop up everything not junk. Sort of, anyway. “We’re not set up yet,” I told him, “you’re welcome to look around but I’m not dealing on anything.” One person later told me of an ad which read: “Prices doubled if you arrive early.”

Also later on that morning, someone grabbed a four dollar item and asked if I could throw in a 75 cents item for free. It’s not a big deal – usually I would, but we were just getting started. I said that, for now, I would hold firm. She got huffy and threw down both items! “I don’t want to deal with people like you!” she steamed. I almost told her I’d let her have them both for six dollars.

So it was a worthwhile garage sale. It justified missing a meeting. It was not like the garage sale decades ago in the poor neighborhood, in which the upstairs tenant held out a dented pot to a wandering derelict: “Sir, can I interest you in some kitchenware?”

 


Bob Dylan Croons With the Best of Them - Who'da Thunk?

So here I am checking out “Fallen Angels,” Bob Dylan crooning the classics, and …. He is amazingly smooth of voice. He reminds me of Jimmy Durante, himself a fallen angel – though not one included in the album. This is Bob Dylan we’re talking about, whose voice has grown so raspy that I imagine he will die halfway through some of his songs, and even when a hear them for the sixth time, I imagine the same.

When fallen angel Frank Sinatra fell many years ago, Dylan’s fellow musicians said nice things about him, the way they have to. What would Dylan say? I wondered. Probably nothing. Or maybe something brief like ‘sayonara.’ Hopefully not something crass, like “another one bites the dust,” but you never knew for sure, for a much younger Bob savaged Donovan and mocked the Time reporter in the Pennebaker film.

Instead, he graciously said “Sinatra influenced me in ways I didn’t realize.” His full-of-himself days are behind him. And now he does a tribute album to that same music, and it is worthy of the genre. Dylan has thus far released five discs covering songs of the crooners.

Sinatra packed out the Blue Cross Arena years ago when in his seventies. He forgot a few lines. “ah, well, what the hell” he shrugged as he chugged along, the fans forgiving, the band not missing a note.

“I am finding these great songs to be a tremendous source of inspiration that has led me to one of my most satisfying periods in the studio. I’ve hit upon new ways to uncover and interpret these songs that are right in line with the best recordings of my own songs, and my band and I really seemed to hit our stride on every level with Triplicate.” [released March 2017] – Bob Dylan

Image result for frank sinatra


Putin Honors Jehovah's Witness Family. What to Make of This?

Only five weeks ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned in Russia, a decision approved by their Supreme Court. Since then, a wave of persecution has ensued, not unlike the wave of persecution once launched against American Witnesses in the wake of an unfavorable Supreme Court decision here - a wave that was even more intense - granted that it was during the more inflammatory times of World War II. Brothers in Russia have been assaulted, fired from their jobs, seen their property destroyed, seen their children bullied by teachers. Ordinary, respectable people have felt licensed to behave as a mob, as happens everywhere in such circumstances.

And now comes a completely unexpected development from on high.

“May 31, 2017 in Moscow, at a meeting in the Kremlin, the president handed Valery and Tatiana Novik, Jehovah's Witnesses from Karelia, the Order of "Parental Glory". At the awarding ceremony was also attended by all six children Novikov.

“The Order is awarded to parents of large families, who are setting an example to strengthen the institution of the family and the upbringing of children, form a socially responsible family and lead a healthy lifestyle, provide a full and harmonious development of personality of children, a high level of care for their health, education, physical, spiritual and moral development.

“In reply, referring to the spiritual and moral development of children, Valery Novik quoted text from the Bible, which serves as a reference for it, both for the parents: "Train up a boy on the right path; he will not depart from it, even when you are old "(Proverbs 22: 6).”

 

Putin awards JW family

 

 Look, I am probably all wet here, but it is just possible he is doing it to soften the blow against us and/or send a signal to intolerant ones that he is not with them.

We err when we vilify him, IMO. When we do that, we are simply following the lead of the media, and they are doing it mostly to undermine Trump. They never cared about it much before.

If you watch Putin through any eyes other than the Western media, he comports himself well. He does not come off as bellicose, sinister, or unreasonable. He has a quite appealing sense of humor. He is not a shoe-pounding Kruschev, by any means. He heads a system of government that restricts some freedoms, so he is loathed in the West, and all the more so on account of Trump. 

Of course, these guys all have PR machines - we mustn't be naive - but he simply does not display the appearance of a thug, given the authoritarian form of government he heads. The unbridled freedom of Western democracy has not worked well for Russians, and his actions reflect a pushback against some of it. To be sure, I tend to think well of all persons, but he just does not strike me as a thug, notwithstanding that he can play hardball when he thinks he has to.

I remain hopeful, perhaps naively so, that he is not at heart one of the instigators - that he has gone along for the ride, but is troubled by the wave of violence against people he, as a career person, doesn't care for, but as a man, has nothing against and perhaps even regards with favor. Perhaps he is like the Persian king, suddenly taking interest in what he has paid scant attention to before, pondering what good thing should be done for Mordecai.

"How can he have paid scant interest to it before, what with 48 million letters?" someone wonders. Well, it's not as he though he has nothing else to do. Like all world leaders, he is beset by crises on all sides. And he must allow time for hockey. Imagine! Sixty some-odd years old and he plays hockey, smashing the younger players into the boards. No wonder they like him over there.

He is careful to keep ties close with the Orthodox Church, but he may, at some point, no longer want to rubberstamp everything they do. Russia is painted in a bad enough light internationally as it is - he does not want to supply proof positive that the neanderthal reports are true. He wants his country to take its rightful respected place among nations. He doesn't want to play hardball when there clearly is no reason for it.

A treasured theme among those who oppose us in Russia is that 'Jehovah's Witnesses break up families.' This is said because persons can be expelled from the religion for extreme or persistent, unapologetic violations of Christian modes of life as recorded in Scripture, and they cannot comprehend how people could possibly get so worked up over religion, which ought to be 'kept in its place.' It is all in what you value. Those same people can understand how people can get so worked up over politics, and they frequently did with regard to the latest Hillary/Trump election.

Does the Witness religion break up families? The President of Russia has perhaps declared where he stands on that issue. The appeal of Russian Witnesses to the Supreme Court is to be heard in July. Perhaps it will not be the rubber stamp most people anticipate. Perhaps it will follow the pattern of the U.S. Supreme Court in the days of Gobitus. I fact, I have little doubt the dignitaries in Russia are planning to overturn the ban right now, thinking that in so doing, they will screw up my announced book on the topic. Let them not be too smug. I am versatile and can adapt to any ending. Let them overturn the ban because it is the right thing to do, and not "Hey! Let's turn the tables on that idiot Tom Harley."


Cresting the Crazy Steep Hill, I Met a GROC Overlord

Cresting an absurdly steep and winding hill in Tryon Park, I meet a cyclist about to descend. ‘You’re nuts if you do,’ I tell him, but he has no intention of it. He will walk his bike down. He is one of the GROC (Genesee Regional Off-Road Cyclists) trail overlords!

He actually means to eliminate this trail, in time, for it is not cut responsibly and it results in erosion and fauna damage. The GROCsters are very concerned about such things. They have carved a riotous tangle of paths into steeply underlying terrain, and they are ever thoughtful of conservation.

They want to link Tryon Park to Irondequoit Bay West Park more safely than it is presently linked, and they have a plan to do that. But that plan entails building trails right next to private homes on a residential street and the homeowners aren’t sure how they feel about that. Will the trails be frequented by responsible ones such as this GROC overlord? Or will it be a training wheel camp for Hell’s Angels?


My money’s on the first. I think the homeowners have little to worry about. GROC has produced studies showing that property value always rises where your property connects to a trail system. If you read their bylaws and code of conduct, you can be forgiven for thinking they are non-preaching dirt track Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are so nice. They actually counsel ones to be nice to each other and always say a greeting to passerby.


Of course, if you encounter the Grand GROC Trail Overlord, you must pick his brain, and he tells me much I did not know. The trails I hike and they ride are built where there was a long-ago town – here and there you will see ruins testifying to that. ‘Yes, there was indeed a community living in the lower bay area,’ he says. ‘but their water supply was the bay, and when the bay became polluted, residents gradually left the area. In time, the county snapped it all up and made it parkland.


At the headwaters of the bay there was once an amusement park, which I knew nothing about. It closed in 1901, which is why I knew nothing about it. I did know of Willowpoint Park, an amusement park on the east side of the bay. It closed long ago, and is now Willowpoint townhouses and apartments, but my parents used to take me to the rides when I was young. There is also Sea Breeze amusement park, a family – owned amusement park which remains to this day and steadily upgrades. It used to be two parks, the Grand GROCster tells me, which merged long ago. Or maybe one died out and the other took over. Image