Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

The Perfect Book About the Perfect Woman

Sheryl Sandberg: From Bossy to Boss

This is a puff piece – written to make Sandburg and Facebook look perfect. Hidden safely below its covers are the manipulative mechanisms that Trump used to get into office.

It’s an easy read – and will set you back all of 99 cents.

Read it with the Kindle for PC app.

What Did I Do Wrong?

Back in the Sixties, my wife of five years, had a complete mental breakdown, and ordered me out of her life. I left her in Los Angeles, and went to my new job in Denver – and had practically no contact with her. Two years later, she killed herself.

When my mother, of all people, telephoned me the news – on a telephone line used only for agency business – I went into shock and spent the rest of the day in an open field, looking at the new wildflowers that had appeared in the prairie.

Then I started to ask myself “What did I do wrong?”

This was completely crazy – I hadn’t done anything wrong. I wasn’t the perfect husband, no one is – but I put up with Beth’s craziness more than most husbands would have. If I did anything wrong, it was that – I should have insisted that we had broken up much earlier. She would have agreed with that readily – and saved both of us a lot of pain.

Instead, I became part of Beth’s craziness, and made it even worse, trying to help her. That’s why she had to get rid of me – so she could be a crazy as she wanted – so she could destroy herself – which was really what she wanted.

She was the child of successful parents (in every way, believe me) – and she was determined to destroy their success. That was what brought us together (we had similar families). We had a common objective – and we acted it out together.

We didn’t realize we were part of a larger drama – the destruction of America – and indeed, the destruction of the entire world.

The City that Was Not a City

This was my hometown of Ft. Madison, Iowa. That is now part of the American Rust Belt, where no one wants to live.

In less than fifty years, it went from a thriving industrial city with plenty of jobs – to nothing! Now, looking back at, after watching a video about Smart Cities, the reason for this dawns on me – there was no city there, just a collection of businesses. When they left, there was nothing left.

And no one noticed this happening. The people were incapable of noticing what was going on, right under their noses. They had become skilled at the opposite – not noticing anything. They had rejected the world, and were not interested in it.

When business after business faded away, they noticed nothing. And could not imagine any big change, involving most of the country – happening.

But happen it did.

The Chosen People

I got this idea from reading The Open Society and Its Enemies on page 8.

The theory of the Chosen People assumes that God has chosen one people to function as the selected instrument of His will, and that this people will inherit the earth.

The little church that my family belonged to, the RLDS church – believed they were these Chosen People. I used to hear the Elders of the church say, with complete confidence “Zion is coming!’ And they meant coming soon – in their children’s lifetime, at the latest.

This is what the early Christians believed – they were all going to join Christ, in heaven! In the RLDS case – it was heaven on earth.

But didn’t happen. And the church membership since then, has developed a number of approaches to help them cope with this.

We Were Not To Criticize Our Betters

In this posting, I am referring to what we were told, as children, in the middle of the last century, in the Midwest of America. We were not to question our parents about money matters.

I am reading Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography – about the economic difficulties Whitman’s family had in the opening years of the 19th Century. As the people on Long Island and Brooklyn were changing from Farmers to Industrial workers. Those were hard times that no one wants to remember now.

There are parallels between the two families and the two times. In this posting, I will concentrate on my own family, and my own Father. He had hard times too, but as children – we were not supposed to notice them.

Dad owned a photography studio in Ft. Madison, Iowa – and made a lot of money during WWII, since it was the only studio in town. After the War, returning Veterans set up their own photography studios, and drove Dad out of business – since their prices were lower.

Dad was always a small businessman, and could never work for anyone else. This was not a problem in the Forties, because small businesses (including family farms) were everywhere – easy to start, and profitable. But times were changing, and fifty years later, small businesses were rare. Dad was bucking this trend.

Dad made the decision, in 1950, to manufacture stone ground whole wheat flour – in my Mother’s home town of Nauvoo, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from Ft. Madison. A company had just made the machinery to do this, in small quantities.

Dad thought there would be a good market for this flour – but he was wrong. The market never developed. So he built a bakery to make whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pastries. This had problems also, and never made much money.

But Dad and Mom solved all their problems by selling the house – making a lot of money from this – and retiring to Mexico.

They were lucky, darn lucky. Their economic failures – due to no fault of their own, could be forgotten.

We Have a Strange Attitude Toward Our Children

Americans have ambivalent attitudes toward their children. They spoil them shamelessly, but made sure they become nothing.

Now that I have written that sentence, right off the top of my head – I have to stop and think it over.

I made an important decision when I was in college – I was not going to have any children! I was not going to make another child suffer as I had. And this was one thing Beth and I agreed on – no kids! Probably the only smart decision we ever made in our miserable marriage.

My brother was our family hero, when he was barely old enough to walk. He ran away from home – twice, and my parents had to get the police to find him. He knew, very clearly, that he was not wanted – and he was right!

My parents were not unusual at all – they were like all the other parents around them, in the Forties, in the Midwest – awful people, and proud of it! But they did give us one advantage – we were going to graduate from college, and have a successful career. We might be miserable – but we were going to be a success.

I became an Electronic Engineer – U of Illinois, 1959 – even though I had no interest in Engineering. But this made no difference – there were plenty of jobs (good paying jobs) where you had to have an engineering degree – but did not have to do anything! This suited the young women of the time – who had ignored us when we were Engineering students – because we had to study, instead of just having a good time. But once we had a steady income that could support a family, in a new house in the suburbs – we became the ideal husband. A little boring, perhaps – with all that technical stuff, stuffed into our brains, but that could easily be overlooked.


So I became nothing – but a successful nothing. And all the other nothings had children – who they spoiled disgracefully – and they also made into nothings. I have seen this many times – a successful parent with their failed children. But I did not try to explain this mysterious process.

Actually, this was not a mysterious process at all – we all become whatever we are supposed to become – without thinking about it at all. This is how human cultures are formed. As children, we become like the adults around us. The children in our time, were told “Be nothing!” And that is what they became.

When their parents spoiled them – they denied them a childhood where they could become themselves – an unique individual.

Our Motorboat in Nauvoo

Our family moved from my Father’s home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa – to my Mother’s home town of Nauvoo, Illinois – in 1947. Only a few miles apart on the Mississippi River , but nine miles by a concrete road.

The first thing we built on our property was a combination fruit cellar and boathouse – in a ravine on the edge of our property – bordering our Grandfather Atkinson’s property. Made of concrete block walls, and a poured concrete ceiling.

The fruit cellar was never used, and filled up with junk. But Dad bought a motor boat, in Ft. Madison, for the boathouse. He removed the tires from the rims, and installed cast-iron sewer pipe as tracks into the river.

But the river was filling in rapidly, Dad tried to take the boat straight out to the channel from out house – but kept getting stuck in the mud. He gave up, and didn’t use it after that.

When I was in high school, my friend Dale Harris and I rebuilt the boat and the motor. We should have bought wheels to replace the ones that had been taken off. But installing them, down in the boathouse, was more of a job than we could tackle. So we drilled holes in the hubs and bolted the rubber from the outside of some tires right onto the hubs. For slow trips on Nauvoo’s gravel roads, they worked fine.

Then we dragged the boat out of the boathouse, and pulled it to the Ferry Boat landing, where there was plenty of water. Later we used the Beach as our launching site. I built a water-board I could pull behind the boat, with someone standing on the board. This made me popular with my family and my girl-friends.

Dale also built his boat, and we used to go on trips together up the river. Used outboard motors were cheap back then.