28 December 2005

Uncle Tony

I've been in Texas since Saturday and am having a good time. Finally got bored enough to attempt an update. This trip has gone pretty well so far, and once I get back home I'll try to post better description, hopefully with pictures once I have a camera. I'll have more to write about this weekend, since I'm meeting "Mad" Adam Kelly and Burris in New Orleans for the New Year's celebration. May not be a good idea, but I don't see why that would stop us.

Christmas has not only been green, but also very warm and dry. We have had brush fire alerts for two days and I see that Arlington and a number of other places have already burst into flame.

I've been reading some of Uncle Tony's letters from his shipmates in WWII. Aunt Anne was never very interested in history and could not the name of his ship, so it was never clear to me how Tony served during the War. After deciphering some of the letters, it is easy to understand why she could not recall the name of the ship, as it never had a name. It was a infantry landing craft equipped with mortars, and was officially referred to as the USS LCI(M)-633. The 633 served in the Pacific and participated in a couple of landings during the last year of the War. The LCI were small craft, usually having a crew of only 50 men and commanded by a Lt.(junior grade). They were not designed to cross oceans (but they did anyway), and being flat bottomed, only those with iron stomachs could hope to function. The letters reveal a crew that bonded very well, dealt fairly with each other, and had an egalitarian streak that is unique to America's armed forces. One of the 633's troublemakers, after serving out his punishment for drunk and disorderly, marched straight into the Captain's quarters and offered the Captain a drink, which was accepted. Another had painted half the ship before receiving orders that a new camouflage design was required, and had no problem giving the Executive Officer a piece of his mind.

The letter's were all dated after Tony had left the ship in September of 1945. Our cousin, Leon, has more letters, and I'm hoping they are Tony's letters to Anne while he was serving on board. I have already scanned some the postcards he sent to her while he was training in the States, which cover the period from his enlistment to his departure to bring the ship from New Jersey to the Pacific. Tony's experiences during active service would be the last piece of the puzzle. Once I get home, I'll see if I can locate some of his old shipmates.

14 December 2005

Sancho v. Diebold

Leon County has made the front page of DailyKos. Our elections supervisor, Ion Sancho, has been fighting with our various Secretaries of State for some time over Diebold voting machines. He will soon be making an announcement that Diebold will no longer be allowed in our county. We have been fortunate in having Sancho; during the 2000 election fiasco his competence was a model for the rest of the state. Republicans have seen otherwise, though, and accused him of gross negligence when he allowed Diebold machines to be tested by outsiders. The fact that he discovered manipulation was possible did nothing to make them reassess their views on touch screen voting. One Republican, a friend from FSU Senate, filed to run against him, saying Sancho was not taking advantage of the technological opportunities available to him. He dropped out well before the election, but I have to wonder why there is such an insistence on using technology to solve a problem that isn't really a problem. Sancho summed it up earlier this year, "People in Leon County would rather vote on paper than on vapor."

08 December 2005

Christmas shopping is done and travel plans have been made. No Amtrak this year, thanks to Katrina, so I have to make due with Greyhound again. I have a feeling the bus stations are going to be a lot more crowded this year, so I predict a very annoying trip.

Coming back will be more interesting. Adam wants to take a look at New Orleans so we are planning on doing New Year's there, like we did last year. Geoff may join us to check on an apartment his boss owns in the French Quarter. We stayed there for our '02 trip, which ended with Geoff wanting to hang Adam by his feet off the balcony. Good times . . .

03 December 2005


Stumbled across this website, which offers a quiz to place your religious affiliation. My Belief-O-Matic results are:

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (94%)
3. Mahayana Buddhism (93%)
4. New Age (90%)
5. Liberal Quakers (86%)
6. Jainism (85%)
7. Sikhism (80%)
8. Hinduism (75%)
9. Theravada Buddhism (75%)
10. Reform Judaism (73%)
11. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (66%)
12. New Thought (64%)
13. Scientology (62%)
14. Taoism (62%)
15. Secular Humanism (60%)
16. Baha'i Faith (56%)
17. Orthodox Judaism (54%)
18. Islam (42%)
19. Orthodox Quaker (42%)
20. Nontheist (38%)
21. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (37%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (20%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)(19%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (17%)
25. Roman Catholic (17%)
26. Seventh Day Adventist (17%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (9%)

Somewhat surprising, I had always considered myself basically Christian with Buddhist tendencies. The only religion I've had any real contact with is the big RC, which only comes in at 17%. Scientology at 62%? Any higher I might have a chance with Katie Holmes. But seriously, I have to say I am absolutely through with Katie.

They have links which explain more about your results, which clears up some things. Neo-pagan is an umbrella term, capturing most of the religious nonconformists who have worked things out for themselves, but can still support a religion of choice or heritage. Put in those terms, my results make more sense, as I have just as much contempt for some pagans as I do for fundamentalist Christians. It just might be that I am so insistently nonconformist that I could not join a group of like-minded nonconformists. This has pretty much been my experience with liberal politics as well.

My parents were mostly non-religious, so I can't really claim any heritage. My mother's side of the family was German-Catholic, with a few Lutherans further back. As I mentioned above, this appears to have had little impact on my current beliefs. My father's side is even more vague. His Air Force dog-tags read Presbyterian, but he always used to joke that he could not go into a church for fear the roof would cave in, a joke that I myself have come to adopt. It was recently discovered that his father's people were French-Catholic, but my grandfather's disappearance ensured that would have no bearing. My grandmother, who later became a Jehovah's Witness, was descended from pioneers of Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, and included the whole spectrum of New England religions. Mostly Congregationalist, but more than a few Quakers, the group I would be more likely to identify with. There was one rebellion in West Newbury, in which the parish decided to become Church of England, and there were even a few Baptists back in the 1680's. Rev. Stephen Batchelder was deposed from his parish, supposedly for being too liberal for the Massachusetts establishment. There were many nuances to Puritanism at that time, so it is not known what his supposed failings were.

A few like John Roberts and Hatevil Nutter were responsible for whipping the Quakers out of Dover. Most, I am glad to say were more likely to harbor Quakers if not joining themselves. Two ancestors were convicted in the Salem witch trials. One was executed and the other was broken out of her jail cell. For those who agree with the Fundamentalist Republicans who say we need more Church in Government, I would like to remind of them of what happened under the Massachusetts Theocracy.