19 June 2007

Marge Zihlman-- 90 years old

This Saturday was the birthday of my great Aunt, Marge Zihlman. She was born in Philadelphia to the Brugger family, and remained there until marrying Uncle Eddie, my grandmother's brother. He was in the Navy during WWII and was stationed in Philadelphia when the war ended (he suspects he was making heavy water for the atomic bomb tests). He met Marge at an USO event, and they were married after his discharge. He and my grandmother had inherited the Zihlman dairy ranch, and moving from Philadelphia to Windthorst, Texas was a big shock to her. Especially the outdoor plumbing (with snakes). She only got occasional glimpses of my grandfather, who apparently never left his bedroom. I asked if he was sick at the time, and Mom said, "No, that's when he was drinking." (I'll ask about that some other time.)

Having a digital camera with a video function has been a godsend. My last trip to Texas I took a 10 minute movie of Marge telling this story, and the medium is so much more revealing than pictures or a written narrative could ever be. She never mentions the obvious culture shock, but its presence is clear in her tone of voice. She may not have been amused at the time, but she put it behind her and can look back on it with a sense of ironic bemusement.

11 May 2007

Progressive Center

Trying to get back in the habit of updating. No real news except we have finally lost the Progressive Center. They had reached the point of covering the cost for keeping the building open, but never made any real progress towards buying it. Fortunately it's being sold to a nonprofit health center, who are using the space to expand and open a mental health clinic.

We are already looking for a new location, taking with us new lessons in cat herding. Progressive organizations, given the opportunity, will not band together for mutual benefit, and will even conspire to defeat such efforts. New plans will be for a smaller, more manageable building more along the lines of Gainesville's Civic Media Center.

06 November 2006

Election Day

At last we are here and the questions shall be answered. Can Democrats squander their best momentum in ages, and are Republicans still willing to cling to Rove and Limbaugh rather than reality. I feel kind of left out, other congressional districts have so much more drama going on. I will not be voting for Nelson, but for the independent, Brian Moore. Nelson had a safe race and still made some horrifying votes in the Senate. It's bad enough if he believes he was doing the right thing, but even worse if he felt he still had to pander for the Republican vote. Oddly enough, liberal friends who criticize my Green party leanings have told me they are doing the same.

Davis may be able to pull it off, and I am allowing myself the possibility of maybe having a smell sense of hope. Rich has assured us time and again that Davis has potential, so we will just have to wait.

The only other really big vote is for Referendum #3, a power grab by the Chamber of Commerce, who have too much influence already. Have not seen much support for this outside of the suit-wearin', cigar chompers, but voters tend to vote "Yes" like lemmings on amendments.

Out biggest local race is the City Commission fight between Lightsey and Dr. V. Lightsey, a former environmental champion, voted for Tallahassee to participate in a coal plant. This was bad enough for must of us, but despite excuses that it will be a "clean" coal plant, as more and more information came out, it looked less clean and more of a boondoggle. Dr. V is the only coal opponent to make it out of the primaries, so support for him has been pretty big. Big enough to challenge Lightsey's money and incumbency though? We'll see.

11 October 2006

Tacete et Parete

I see that this blog has been cited on the Monarchy Party's page at Wikipedia, so I guess I should post something about the Monarchy Party.

My involvement (as Bucky Goldstein) is listed under the King's English and Crown Dispatch, our satirical newsletter that anticipated the style of the Onion. That is how I got my start in activism, as a comedy writer. However, Monarchy was never really a proper activist organization, most supporters seemed to be part of the campus drug subculture. Those of us who were left after the party disbanded wound up at the House of KAOS, where we tried to revive the activist spirit of the '60's, but with less drugs and police beatings. I have tried to make sure that our core belief -- "A Political Party is Still a Party" -- was kept alive in other organizations I have been involved with.

I was recently visited by Greg Cohen, the chief engineer of the Monarchy Party, who had dropped by to retrieve the Party archives. The usual reminiscing and war stories now include discussion of who had cancer treatment or major surgery. Are we really getting that old? Plans are afoot to hold a Monarchy reunion next year, which I look forward too. Though I have been quite content with my current circle of friends, it has occurred to me that I no longer have contact with anyone creative, which I am now thinking is why I feel creatively drained so much of the time.

18 September 2006

"Fish Don't Walk"

This is a bumper sticker I have seen on cars of Christian fanatics who don't believe in evolution. You would think the Mudskipper alone would have exploded this notion, but now there is additional support in the form of a walking shark.

Maybe this will breath new life into the land shark jokes.

Here is a related story I found on a church website, which sums up why I find some Christians very disturbing--

Driving to different things around town usually provides some of the best conversation time between the girls and me. A conversation so perfectly etched into my memory is one from last summer. We were reading bumper stickers and such when Allison noticed the “Jesus fish” on the back of a van in front of us. Brittany quickly explained to her little sister that the fish meant the people believed in Jesus. Allison was so excited to begin looking for other “Christian cars” that it began a game of who can spot the fish first. Not more than 10 blocks, Allison yelled out that she found another fish but this fish had feet. “Fish don’t walk,” she proclaimed. Brittany once again quickly chimed in explaining that this fish meant that they don’t believe in Jesus. Instead, they believe we grew from some “junk” in the water and turned into people over several thousand years. We pulled up next to that little car. The light turned green. They turned left and I went straight. A huge scream sent chills down my spine as Allison shrieked in her definite outdoor voice, “FOLLOW THAT CAR”!

I explained that I couldn’t follow that car as I’m in the wrong lane to turn left and all the cars behind me would run us over and we’d be in a huge wreck. Once we were carefully through the intersection I looked in my rearview mirror to see little tears streaming down her chubby cheeks. “What’s the matter baby?” I asked. “But Mommy those people don’t know Jesus and we need to tell them” she replied.

and even worse . . .

Now I’m not suggesting we all go chasing down cars with the Darwin fish, although I have thought about it a time or two, especially with Allison yelling at me from the backseat. What I am suggesting is that we take the opportunities that God gives us.

Sense the urgency! Chances are you will encounter someone today who will spend eternity in hell. Will you choose to remain silent?

06 September 2006

Local Election Roundup

Record low turnout for the state, but our county had a pretty good showing with 37%. However, I was the 18th of 54 voters at St.Thomas More, which is a mostly student precinct (8% turnout). Fortunately, most of my candidates won. Cliff Thaell won a fourth term, which is good, but Proctor is in again, which is bad. Old hippie Bob Rackleff had five challengers, but goes into a run-off with the lone Republican, so he should pull off a win in November. Our old friend from SGA, John Dailey, easily won his seat on the County Commission, and I look forward to seeing how well he does.

Mixed results in the 3 city commission races. The votes on the coal plant had us up in arms to take out the 2 supporters up for reelection. Katz was the only commissioner to speak against it, and won his seat, but the Mayor, John Marks, got off by having two feeble opponents. Lightsey will be in a runoff, however, and hopefully we have time to send a message by voting her out in November. She is our biggest disappointment. Originally a respected environmental voter, she has alienated progressives with her positions on the coal plant and the sprayfield.

The state races look promising. I supported Smith for Governor, but Davis may be able to make a race out of it. Unfortunately, John Ellis has been more competent than his brother, so the anti-Republican wave may just be directed at Harris. And thank the Lord, Harris has won. It will make things much easier for Nelson. I don't like the way Nelson votes, personally, so I may be able to vote Green without fearing a Democratic loss.

15 August 2006

Return from Family Reunion

Got back from Texas last week, and am now attempting to cope with reality once again. The reunion was pretty good, but not much was accomplished in the historical line. We have made great strides in making the reunions a celebration of our local heritage, but most still show up to eat and leave. The children were given an interesting variation of bingo to play. They had to go around the room and talk to family members who had a specific experience and get them to sign their card. There was also a quilt made up of old family photos that was a popular auction item. We had intended to sit down with some of the older cousins who remember Lukas and record their stories, but we had to cope with some the more bizarre members of the family, as well as a trip to the old farmhouse.

The tour of the old Zihlman farm, was the highlight of the event. My grandfather, Ben Schneider, had sold it to Larry Meurer in 1975, so even some of the Windthorst family members had not seen it in more than thirty years. The place has changed too much to bring back any memories for me. They enclosed the porch that went all the way around, and expanded the kitchen, the features I remembered most from the foggy depths of infancy. Mom thinks Lukas was very ahead of his time, because he designed large walk-in closets. Even so, the house seemed quite small to raise a large family in. Of the outbuildings, the barn and silo were torn down, and only the milking shed and the hog slaughterhouse are now standing. The rest of the weekend was spent with a cousin from the other side of the family, who has joined me in researching the Schneiders. She was able to track down a distant cousin (at 4'10" a literal 'little old lady') who had been to Germany and found the actual house the Schneider's came from in 1835, still occupied by even more distant cousins.