Friday, December 31, 2010

"Auld Lang Syne"

How often have you sung this tune at the passing of the old year?  You may have taken  the time to research the Scottish brogue and find out what the words mean.  I found an article by Peggy Noonan with some good information on its origin.

The following are excerpts from the Noonan article entitled "Days of Auld Lang What?"

You know exactly when you'll hear it, and you probably won't hear it again for a year. The big clock will hit 11:59:50, the countdown will begin—10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4—and the sounds will rise: the party horns, fireworks and shouts of "Happy New Year!"

And then they'll play that song: "Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?"

It is a poem in Scots dialect, set to a Scots folk tune, and an unscientific survey says that a lot of us don't think much about the words, or even know them.

"Auld Lang Syne"—the phrase can be translated as "long, long ago," or "old long since," but I like "old times past"—is a song that asks a question, a tender little question that has to do with the nature of being alive, of being a person on a journey in the world. It not only asks, it gives an answer.

It was written, or written down, by Robert Burns, lyric poet and Bard of Scotland. In 1788 he sent a copy of the poem to the Scots Musical Museum, with the words: "The following song, an old song, of the olden times, has never been in print." Burns was interested in the culture of Scotland, and collected old folk tales and poems. He said he got this one "from an old man"—no one knows who—and wrote it down. Being a writer, Burns revised and compressed. He found the phrase auld lang syne "exceedingly expressive" and thought whoever first wrote the poem "heaven inspired." The song spread throughout Scotland, where it was sung to mark the end of the old year, and soon to the English-speaking world, where it's sung to mark the new.

The question it asks is clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they shouldn't be. We'll remember those times and those people, we'll toast them now and always, we'll keep them close. "We'll take a cup of kindness yet."

But "the interesting, more serious message in the song is that the past is important, we mustn't forget it, the old has something for us."

So does the present, as the last stanza makes clear. The song is not only about those who were in your life, but those who are in your life. "And there's a hand, my trusty friend, and give a hand of thine, We'll take a right good-will draught for auld lang syne."

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year and don't forget "Auld Lang Syne".

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The last day of 2010

My pearl snap buttons are still snapped and I think I've finally licked my bout with anorexia.  However, I've had a lot of sleeping sickness this year.  Thinking about how much longer we have to go before we are able to elect some more competent leadership tires me.  Incompetence seems to be epidemic.  Standing in line at the U. S. Post Office wondering which one of the three clerks will go on break before I get there wears me out.

I watched one of our local garbage collection units yesterday as he came through the neighborhood.  The wind was gusty, as it is much of the year, and it was the first collection since Christmas.  These new trucks are automated and have only a driver.  You remember the old ones with two guys hanging on at the rear picking up the cans and dumping them into the hopper.  When they dropped something, they could pick it up.  The new ones have an automated gripper on the side that traps the can and lifts it high above the truck dumping it into a port at the top.  When there is a sustained wind and lots of garbage, these units are less than successful in their task.  Our driver seemed to be oblivious to the trash he was scattering all over the neighborhood.  I tried to help in our cul-de-sac, but the wind was ahead of me most of the time.  Getting back to the post office, our mailman was standing at one of the multiple box stands they use to keep from having to deliver door to door and he was letting the advertising mail blow in the wind too.

It is getting harder and harder to find folks who take pride in their work.  For one thing, it is almost impossible to get rid of those who don't.  Fire someone and you'll have a bevy of  lawyers on your doorstep along with enough government bureaucrats to fill Jerry Jones new stadium.  If you happen to succeed in your efforts, the dolt you fired can stay on the government teat for two years.  More if the U. S. Senate has a say.

I'm trying to stay awake long enough to take part in the solution, but I'm unwilling to take anti-depressants for my symptoms, so I just take a nap.  I keep attempting to write resolutions but they all seem out of reach.  I have managed to clean out the refrigerator.  The only desert left is the coconut cake and maybe it will be gone by tonight.  We are invited to a New Year's Eve party tonight.  Most of the guests are our age and older.  The invitation read; "From 6:30 P.M. until...."  With our age bracket you could add, "until 9:30 P.M." and be safe.

If you find any T.V. shows fit to watch next year please send me an e-mail with your recommendations.  I don't know about you, but I don't intend to watch the Oprah Winfrey Network regardless of what she gives away.  Have a wonderful New Year's Eve.  Remember to eat some greens for money, black eyed peas for luck, and cornbread just because you like it.  We have a lot to do in the next two years.  I'll talk with you next year.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!  Let everyone see that your unselfish and considerate in all you do.  Remember that the Lord is coming soon.  Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers.  If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4: 4 -7

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the day before the day before Christmas.

For several days the wife, kids, and grandkids have been constructing a gingerbread village.  Last night they all gathered at the kitchen table while the boys watched some college hoops.  I really didn't pay much attention until I got up to get a glass of water and noticed my granddaughter had her head under the table cloth.  When she emerged, her cheeks looked like those of a chipmunk.

While she had a pretty good start on the gingerbread house, it was obvious that much of the construction material was ending up in her tummy.

It was hard not to laugh at this icing covered construction worker.  All the crew did a wonderful job on the village and now it adorns the dining room where Christmas dinner will be spread.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Littlest Angels

I attended two Christmas programs recently and enjoyed both.  They featured my grandchildren in roles related to the Christmas story.  There was singing and drama and the kids performed with polish and enthusiasm.  At my grandson's school an offering was taken and my grandson shows great potential in this important job.
My granddaughter was in the angel choir and in this picture performs "He's got the whole world in His hands".  She has her arms up and encircling her head to signify the whole world.

In this scene, the angels sing and perform the segment of "Away in a Manger" which says,"...the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head...."  My angel is in the middle with her hands forming a pillow.

Accumulating wealth won’t satisfy.
They are not ours these things we seek to gain.
But all are gifts delivered from on high.
And apt to leave us quickly as they came.

So we should love more,
pray more, share more
with our neighbors
as we’re blessed.

Thanking God for all that he has given.
Food and shelter as he sees we need it.
Teaching us the meaning of contentment.
Accumulating wealth won’t satisfy.

Dennis Price

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sleigh Bells Ring....

When I was young and all was fresh and new,
and Christmas trees were tall and covered up
with fancy balls and bubbling lights that shone
through glittering tinsel hung upon each bough,
I could not seem to tear myself away.

Colored wrappers topped with shiny bows
could hold me in their hypnotizing trance.
I could not sleep at all the night before
so tossed and turned until the morning broke.

With energy I’d never have again,
I peeped around the corner just to see
if Santa had put toys beneath our tree.

Then as I grew, my childhood feelings changed.
Replaced by facts, as notions were debunked.
But I still searched for presents just to see
if Santa had left one or two for me.

The years flew by and I was Santa Claus.
My kids were now where I could only dream.
And once again I shared with them the awe.
But, in that joy, was weariness it seemed.
Brought on by months of gaudy ads and things.

I sat amid the rubble of our fete
and thought on why we give the gifts we do.
And as I did a peace came over me,
Jesus was the reason for our mirth.
Born in the little town of Bethlehem
God’s gift to undeserving men on earth.

Dennis Price

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Heritage

The melting pot
has wrought us all
in skin,
eyes, and hair.

And, kin we are.

We can’t deny
the ancient pull.
We can’t decry
when pipes are played
and mournful tunes
are sung.

Dennis Price

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What About Taxes?

Yesterday I tried to explain the foolishness and illegality of the federal government's attempts to buy votes through social legislation.  Today I will tell you why I am against any tax reform deals in conjunction with the status quo on the assessment and collection of taxes.  The cartoon above shows what a mouse trap would look like if it was designed by the IRS.  Our U. S. Constitution gives the government the power to tax when they need to in order to pay for expenses related to the four areas in which they have the primary legal role for jurisdiction.  One of these areas is taxation.  The other three are National Security, Interstate Commerce, and the Manufacture of Currency.  Here's how that plays out.  Keep us safe from foreign and domestic threats to our National Security so that we can pursue our lives in freedom and relative safety.  Set up rules so that our 50 separate states can engage in commerce with each other without undue interference. And, let the Treasury Department manufacture a uniform currency to allow us to engage in commerce.

That's not so hard is it?  (Enter the lawyers, legislators, and federal judges)  From this simple formula we have devolved into a quagmire of unbearable administrative costs and ineffective management never imagined or intended by the founders of our great nation.  Just read their comments related to how the government was intended to function.  The Federal Reserve now manufacturers our currency on an as needed basis with no viable backing.  It is an economy built on huge and ever growing debt.  This is illegal according to our constitution.  The Federal Reserve is illegal.  Their manufacture of our currency is illegal.  If you did the same thing you would most certainly be charged with counterfeiting.  Funding social welfare programs was never intended or authorized by our constitution and yet it was incrementally sewn into the fabric of government to purchase votes for whatever party happened to be in charge of the reins of government at the time.  Now it has become a self perpetuating parasitic blob which threatens the continued existence of our republic.

Remember, the party who holds the presidency doesn't always have the legislature.  So, when you are trying to unravel this mess of who's responsible during any political period, remember to look at the party who holds the legislative reins.  The administrative branch can't legislate.  It also takes years for simple changes to show their effectiveness (or not)  and provides ample opportunity for politicians to capture statistics and give erroneous interpretations that favor their party.  The truth is neither party has operated in an honorable and just fashion.  Therefore, when we talk about deals on whether to raise taxes or leave them the same we are once again being hoodwinked.  Our constitution is all about fairness in the administration of its legal requirements.  All people are to be treated fairly regardless of their status in life.  So a graduated scale of taxation is unconstitutional.  All citizens should be taxed at the same rate.  We could do away with a goodly portion of the IRS and its uninterpretable tax code.

This deal on maintaining the status quo is a ruse.  The deal will be fraught with selfish earmarks and legislative issues that couldn't pass the smell test if exposed to the nostrils of the majority of American voters and should be stopped until we can straighten out the process.

Everyone talks about the breaks the rich get.  Folks, they pay the majority of the taxes now anyway.  This is unconstitutional.

Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data

Table 1
Summary of Federal Individual Income Tax Data, 2008

(Updated October 2010)

Number of Returns with Positive AGI
($ millions)
Income Taxes Paid 
($ millions)
Group's Share of Total AGI
Group's Share of Income Taxes
Income Split Point
Average Tax Rate
All Taxpayers
Top 1%
Top 5%
Top 10%
Top 25%
Top 50%
Bottom 50%
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The bottom line in all this is, we should adopt a tax system that taxes all citizens equally and requires a balanced budget and real fiscal accountability when legislation is proposed that requires federal spending.  We should also immediately examine the constitutionality of all programs and federal agencies and those found to be illegal and unconstitutional should be targeted for elimination.

If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.
  - Donald H. Rumsfeld