A Life Story Tribute

I had a dream

The Fix! The “Patriotic Retirement Plan”:

A Bloodless Coup! The Supreme Court’s sale of America

A Life Story Tribute

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paulineIn the history of the world, a person’s life is but a brief, fleeting moment in time. To that person though, it is a life long sequence of memories, events, feelings and experiences that, interwoven amid the lives of those whom they have crossed paths with, creates one’s “Life Story.”  To better understand where we have come from, we need to look beyond our lives and into the past of our ancestors. For this, a “Life Story Interview” encourages one to reach back and document, the life of a person who has gone before us.

The story you are about to read is of the life of Pauline Renar. Born to immigrant parents that sought a new life in America after the First World War, Pauline’s story begins right before the Great Depression and takes us through some of America’s most dramatic moments in history. Pauline is my mother. She is currently residing at a nursing home in Illinois and while she enjoys being with her family, she also appreciates the care that the staff at the home can give to her.

When I spoke to my mother about the “Life Story Interview” she mentioned to me that the local high school had recently sent students down to interview residents at her nursing home. She had enjoyed sharing her life with them, as had many of the other residents. She had often told us stories about her life, but I found that as she got older, more stories would arise that we had never heard before. I had wanted to sit down with her to find out more about her life and our family history, but the opportunity never seemed to arise; until now.  My Mother was happy to sit down and share her life. She felt she had lived a good life and as her faith in God played a major role in her life, she felt that God had taken care of her and gave her what she truly needed. Pauline’s “Life Story Interview” covers the period from her birth, with a brief history of her parents, to the death of her husband Milan, my Father.  While Pauline lived many years beyond my Fathers death in 1964, the story that is told here covers, what I feel, is the key period that was the formation of our family.

Pauline is currently 83 years old. She is of Slovenian descent, but according to immigration paperwork from her parents, both were from regions that are now in Italy. My mother considers herself Slovenian, as that is what my Grandparents identified themselves as. She is the second of two daughters that my Grandparents had and has lived in Chicago and the surrounding region all of her life.  She married my Father Milan in 1946 and together they had two daughters and one son. She is a devout Catholic. As such, she places her faith in God and believes that what happens in one’s life is God’s will. In her faith, she found the strength to cope with all life has placed upon her. Her family knows her as “Ma, Grandma and Great Grandma.” She gave us life, she gave us love, she gave us strength and through her we learned to be the best people we could be.



I was born on December 5th 1927. The thing that was world-shaking at that time was the Depression. The Depression! Similar to what we are going through at this point! That was very difficult but we didn’t really thing about it (as kids), we were a happy family and the only thing that we had extra at that time was a dog. Her name was Brownie, she loved being with the family and when my father’s friends would come, she would greet them. She was a really good dog. We had another dog too. When we were moving that dog had to be put down because he was in the basement and he cut his foot pretty badly. They didn’t think they could save him in those days.

My mother and father they both came over to America on separate boats from the Yugoslavian territories. My mother was closer to the Italian border and my father was in the war, the First World War. They came over after the war and met in Indianapolis. They had never met prior to leaving the old country. She worked as a maid and not knowing English when the man would ask her for anything, to “get me a knife” for example, she’d bring him a “scapular” or something different than what was asked for. As for my Father he had been wounded in battle during the war. He had been shot through the head and out his eye. He didn’t lose his eyesight though. He didn’t even need glasses. The only thing it did was make his eye a little crossed. He had been left for dead on the battlefield.

After he was shot he feared what would happen to him because he was in a foreign environment He wasn’t in Slovenia. He was afraid for his life. (Interviewers note: My grandfather was shot through the head and left for dead on a battlefield during WWI.  We believe he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army at the start of the war and was fighting against Italy along the border of Italy and current day Slovenia in what was some of the fiercest battles of WWI. When he came to, he went into hiding to recover as he was now in Italian territory. At the end of the war, the Italians took possession of the city (Trieste) that my grandfather had come from which had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As such when he went home, the Italian authorities wanted to imprison him for being in the Austro-Hungarian Army. This is why he said he left for America.)

In my mother’s life, she had lost her sweetheart or fiancé. There were no extra men. So you had to do without men. So the women would do all the farm work. It was a different world. That was in the First World War. (Interviewers note: My grandmother lost her fiancé during the First World War. Her village of “Obenetto” was literally right on the Italian/Austro-Hungarian border. She was actually from Italy but was of Slovenian descent [Slovenia did not exist as a country until 1990 but it’s peoples go back to pre-Roman times]. There were no men left in my grandmother’s area during and after the war so she left for America on her own. They still remember her 90 years later in the village she came from as the only woman to leave for America on her own. We found out recently she was considered almost a legend because women didn’t do things on their own during that time.)

My father he was helpful when I was born. He took me after I was born and he had an apple, so he chewed it and regurgitated it and gave it to me and I ate it. I was just born! Because my mother was in pain, he let her be and he fed me this mashed apple. In those days they didn’t have cans of applesauce. They only would deliver babies at home and a midwife had delivered me. Supposedly my sister was 15 pounds and I was 15 and a half pounds (laughing)!  I was “muchna,” that’s Slovenian for BIG! Maybe that’s why I’m bouncing back from all the things that have happened to me.

I was born on the south side of Chicago in the Pilsen neighborhood off 22nd Street. Close to St. Stephens Church. That was a big part of my life. Being a Catholic we were very much into our religion. My mother and father too. The nuns took care of us to a certain degree. The amount that I had to pay for education was .50¢ per month. One time I lost it (the .50¢). I was just beside myself! Because to lose .50¢ that was a lot of money then. But that was because my father was only working at that time. My mother wasn’t working at Campbell Soup yet. We didn’t buy too much back then. Still my mother would do things like force me to get a permanent; an electric permanent. I hated those things I’ve always disliked being real curly headed. She would also send me to Tricoles Department store. It was only like a block and a half away. It was the only store (pause) like Wal-Mart would be now. They had the basic clothes and such. For Christmas they would have Santa Claus. My mother would take me to see Santa Clause. We didn’t really much believe in Santa but she would take us. St. Nicholas day was the big thing for us, not Christmas. We would put our plates out. My sister and I would put a plate out on the table and we would get candy, a few pieces of peppermint candy, and an orange and an apple and some nuts. We were delighted with that! We got something for us! Something given to us! That was for St. Nicholas Day. Nobody else that I recall celebrated St. Nicholas Day.

The majority of people in our neighborhood were Slovenian. Everyone I knew was Catholic. The Church was a big thing. We did a lot of things with the church. My mother and father would both go to mass as well as send us. The school was primarily nuns; in fact they were all nuns. Even the cooks and anybody that was connected with the school was a nun. They ate very frugally. They would have one chicken for maybe 8 or 9 nuns. After I was older, I was the one that would have to pick up these chickens and I didn’t think anything of it. They would send me to the store. I was just a kid. I was about 7 or 8 years old. The chickens were already wrapped up in paper.

My mother would send me to the chicken store though! She would send me for a rooster actually. They were, I guess, less money. Also she used to have chickens in the back yard. There were perches. She would raise them. This was the way we would get meat. That was the type of meat we would eat. We could get soup out of it and meat. When I would go to the chicken store, they would take the chicken and slit his throat and put him upside down in a barrel and drain the blood out. If it was too much before a holiday where she wanted to save it, she would put the (live) rooster under the sink. The rooster would crow in the morning and wake all of us up. When the time came to kill it she would have to do it. She would take all the innards out, (and) clean everything on the chicken. We would eat everything! My favorite part was the part that went over the fence last (laughing). My father would eat everything! I never saw my mother eating much though. She would eat carrots. She would eat them like “chomp chomp chomp chomp” until it was all gone.

My parents were very loving. They were never cross with me. They did have words with my sister though. She would go off with her friends and come home to late. It was not their policy for them to let her get away with it. They were strict. I didn’t get scolded at all though because I didn’t feel that I could do anything wrong.

In school I would be in the first chair. I had this big fat ruler and whenever any boy, usually it was the boys, they would do something wrong, the nuns would take my ruler and I’d want to cry. They would hit them with it. They were hurting him. I didn’t know if I should leave the ruler at home? I knew I couldn’t. I was right in the front and she would grab my ruler! We had one nun that would teach us. We would go from subject to subject. Our nun passed away but before she passed she was very ill, so I was teaching kindergarten! I might have been in 4th grade maybe. I was 8 years old. I always was given a lot of responsibility. We had to wash clothes by hand. My sister would have to iron. Everything had to be ironed because we would hang our wash out on a line. It was a rope that would extend from the house to the garage wherever we were living. We never had a home of our own.

We had to boil water for the wash. My father would boil it in a large copper kettle. It was long and oblong. He would do it for the white clothes only. Not for the colored clothes. We didn’t have many colored clothes. We had to have clean whites…very white! I’m not sure if they used bleach. You would put them through the wringer and then a large round container that they would have colder water. They didn’t have to have hot water for the rinse. We had to warm everything up on the wood stove. In the winter time it was our only heat. We never had any other. As far as taking a bath, we had this round container, the same one we rinsed our clothes in. My sister and I used to use that for baths. We would take our baths in the living room.

I felt that my parents really loved us. They really wanted us. I was deeply upset when they were having arguments. My mother was a little more of the fighter. She was feisty. She would hurt him! My father was more peaceful. He used to say to my mother, “Bushtihu.” It meant be quiet!  He was more cultured. He was of a higher class. As soon as he came to America he learned English. My mother never learned English. He went to the church across the street from St. Stephen’s. This was a protestant church. They also had education for people that came from the old world. My father’s family was farmers and my mother’s family owned an inn in the village that from what I understand she was a waitress at the inn.

When I was growing up in our neighborhood we played baseball, but in the street. There were no extra lots that we could go into and play softball. That was our game for recess and I always played, I don’t know why any of them would pick me but I find that I’ve got a good arm. Just recently we were playing this toss ball and I sat down and I won! My best friend was Mary Michiner. I would go off to her small apartment. She was an only child. Her father and her were both Slovenian. Everybody revolved around that church.

When the Great Depression hit my father had two jobs. He lost them both on the same day. My mother wasn’t working at that time and was at home. After that he was working in this here foundry and they had big furnaces and he would stoke the furnaces. He’s the one that got me the job. My first job was when I was maybe 12. I was working pretty early. That was “Advanced Aluminum”. That was my first job. I didn’t make that much. I got 27 dollars for two weeks of working. I was a stenographer. I did typing and shorthand, I learned shorthand. I went to the Catholic St. Pius School where they taught me all the features of being a secretary. They did a good job because I was able to support myself all those years. That was prior that I got that much. I don’t recall that it stayed at 27 dollars. I think that there was an adjustment. But I was in the same building working there with my father, so it was a good place to work. At least I had a job.

My mother got a job at Campbell Soup. She was cutting up vegetables and meat for the soups. That was primarily her job. And occasionally she would slip one of these chicken pieces that looked particularly appetizing into her mouth. They didn’t catch her at it. She liked working there and she was faithful. Once she started working she remained working. I don’t think my father was working for awhile. He would help people move and things like that. If they needed somebody that was strong. He would come and help them and get a few dollars. It wasn’t much, but they were satisfied with whatever they got.

The thing that was important for us was going to St. Stephen’s Hall. There we would have functions like Vinska Trgatev. They would have gifts like cigars, cigarettes, and candy strung up on a rope or strings in the middle of the floor on a trellis on the side they were dancing. You could reach up and take these gifts like grapes from a vine. Vinska means wine in Slovenian and Trgatev means pull away. It was a celebration of the grape harvest for wine. This was important to them. They didn’t have much money but they would still have their fun.

Easter was very memorable. We would have a basket that was laid on the side by the church and he (the priest) would come down the aisle and bless all these baskets. In there you would have colored eggs and she (my mother) would make her bread as well as Poticia. Poticia is coffee cake that was from the area that she came from. That’s the one that they used. She would say she was going to make the Poticia, but I never helped her. It’s surprising that I know how to do it. Poticia must be with walnuts and honey. You would grind it with a grinder that I had. We would then roll out the dough and it was to be as thin as possible, but not too thin. You would put the mixture on the dough on the tablecloth. First you would put the flour on there so that it wouldn’t stick. Then you would put the dough on it and roll it out on the tablecloth. She used raisins along with that, and I used to get very angry. I didn’t like raisins with the Poticia

To make the Poticia you had to have a grinder for the nuts. I got mine when I was working at Goldblatts. I was wishing so much to get a grinder so that I could make the Poticia. Then all of a sudden I looked down and there was a $20 dollar bill and that was sufficient for me to get a grinder. So I picked it up and I figured that the lord gave it to me. I was released from my job. I was a cashier. They didn’t accuse me of anything. They said $20 dollars was missing. I didn’t know what had happened. I still thought the lord have given it to me!

My older sister was Mary. She always worked and school wasn’t too important for her. She got married early. She was 17 I don’t know, maybe 18. She went to Colorado that’s where Ed, her husband to be was stationed. So they got married there. That was during the Second World War. He had to go leave because he had to go fight in the war. He didn’t get injured. She used the gown that her sister-in-law had used for her wedding. She didn’t have money to buy her own gown. She was glad that her sister-in-law said she could borrow it. She stayed there for a little while, but then he had to leave so she came back. And she came back to her bed. We only had a 3/4 bed and the two of us had to sleep in that 3/4 bed. And it was very tight. We had to do it. Prior to that, my mother used to rent it out, that 3/4 bed.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor it was a shock to everybody! We could not believe it. I guess it’s similar to how the buildings were bombed here in New York. We just couldn’t believe it. When that happened every man, everyman, unless he was too incapacitated, went into the service. Everyone was incensed over the fact that they would do something like that. He was an evil man. And so were Hitler and Mussolini. They were like cohorts.

As a young girl, I wasn’t afraid. Well there were more jobs for one. There was a job that I must have had, I don’t recall, but it was a war job. When I was in high school I was taking that course and I knew that I could make more money as a waitress, but the teacher talked me out of it. He would not let me do that. He said that I would have to stay with schooling. I had two years of high school at St. Pius that I paid for that was $10.00 per month. That was a lot of money, but I paid for that because I also worked. See, that was what was ingrained in our culture, or at least in our family anyway. It seems to me that everyone was like that.

I met your Father during World War II. I was 17. I didn’t want to tell him that because he was 26. So I told him that I was 18. He didn’t find out until later that I was really was only 17. He was out in the Air Force base in Chanute Field. He had already done his 4 years. He had immediately enlisted, as had everybody. You would not have seen a soul on the streets unless they were incapacitated. He was in the Air Force.

We went to the Trianon (note: a jazz dance palace located at 62nd and Cottage Grove Ave. in Chicago) It was a dance hall. That was one of the things that had some levity for us. We all liked going dancing because that was all you could do. There was no men otherwise. You’re not going to dance with women. Years ago that was frowned on. Your Father asked me to dance. He asked me questions about what nationality I am. When I told him, he couldn’t believe it. We were the same nationality! That was important to him. Not to me! To my mother and father though! They were able to talk to him. He brought me home that first date and he stayed across the street because he decided that no one would live in a poor house like that. It was a two flat and we were on the first level. It was a brick house and across the alley was a horse place (stable). They were the ones that went down the alley and picked things up and sang, “rexxxxaaaallliaaaay”! That means they have rags and things and watermelons.

For dates we didn’t do too much (laughing). Around the corner was a tavern and I didn’t drink at that time. But he would have his wine and he was a good companion for my father because the two of them talked the same language and he drank wine and he liked the foods that we ate. They got along very well. My mother too! She liked him. We got married about a year after we met at St. Stephen’s Church. Afterwards we went in his car and we were driving along and I was a poor passenger as I no sooner sat down and I wanted to chuck up. Even streetcars! There were times I had to get off the streetcars because if it was one of those electric ones, those fast ones, I avoided those. I went on one of the old ones. They were open in the front. We were supposed to go to Mackinac Island. There was a place that we close to and we were going to stay for the night and we decided that this was as good a place as any to have our honeymoon. So we stayed. We never did go further along the road.

When you kids came along there were very few things that we could buy as far as toys were concerned. So we’d go for walks and like we’d go to Maxwell Street to buy clothes and we’d have to walk. It was pretty near a mile. My father was always the first one in Sunday in order to get bargains. These were all Jewish people. He would always be the first one in the door or we would not get a bargain. The one thing that your Father was always doing was going to an Italian part of Chicago and he would get snails! He would eat those. That was his treat for his self. None of us wanted them. There was no way! Then he graduated to oysters and even clams.

There were picnics for the neighborhood. It was some of these businesses and you would go there and they’d have the pig, they didn’t have lamb. They would keep rotating it. We would do that. That would be a Sunday treat. During the week Dad liked lamb. He liked it from this one guy that was on 26th St. it was a tiny little two by four narrow like between two buildings. The church would have something going on the spit too. It was in a dropped hole in Lemont but mostly Keggel’s Grove. There you kids would play and we would have our meal over there, whatever they were making. We didn’t BBQ at that time. In order to get there we went by truck. They would have the seats along the side of the truck and we’d sit there. It was a regular truck. It wasn’t a dirty old coal truck or anything.

Your Father would bring Bobbie and Carol to “Up it the Hills”! Up it the Hills was things that were thrown out and they would go there and fish them out and bring more stuff home. They enjoyed things like that. There wasn’t much that they could buy. We were very poor. He (Dad) was always understanding with you children. A lot of men are just not with kids. They let the wife do everything. He would tell them “Billy stories”. Billy stories were different everyday and he would make them up. They really enjoyed them. Unfortunately you never got that. They were bedtime stories. He was watching you because I was at work at Western Electric from 6 to 10. I was typing. We would have typewriters that were electric. They counted your amount. They knew if you were fooling around or if you were working.  I wouldn’t say it would be more than a year that I worked there. A lot of my friends were there for many years. During the 1950’s it wasn’t normal for a wife to work. I was always looking for a job. It seemed it was part of my life; I was always looking for a job that I could do something that would bring in some money. We were trying to buy a home.

Every Sunday we would go out for a ride looking for homes. Bobbie and Carol would hate it by that time. You didn’t have any opinion. We drove to different locations that were in the papers. This one looked terrible inside. It was a brand new home but somebody had made holes in the walls. All the way up the stairs. It was in pretty bad shape. But they fixed it before we got it. We had to put down $3700.00 dollars. That’s a lot of money. The total price was $13,700.00. That was in 1957.

Your Father passed away in 1964.  On the last day he worked he was too weak to drive home. This nice young man (Dad’s friend) drove him home. He was a black man. In those days people didn’t mix, (Whites and Blacks). You could see the love in his eyes. He was a black man with a white friend. This was not heard of. Nobody did that. His name was David. That’s why your name is David. When he (Dad) passed, that was the end of that. I guess he might have been too upset because he really loved Milan (Dad).

I feel that God’s been good to me. I’ve had my problems but I’ve also have had much happiness. I had a good family that we all got along and we loved each other. So it all worked out in the end. I wasn’t expecting the world. To this day, I feel that God knows what I need and if I don’t need it, I’m not going to get it no matter how much I beg. I don’t beg. I don’t ask for anything. I try to do it myself. Things are easier now than they were before. This is an easier life. Thank God they have these nursing homes and are able to take care of the elderly. Cause in some cases there is no other was for them to exist.


Interviewer Reflection

As mentioned in the beginning, I’ve grown up hearing stories from my Mother about my Grandparents, Father and various other relatives that I either never had much time with or never met due to their earlier deaths. Family was always an important factor in our lives and, through my Mother; ours lived on in bits and pieces of her memories.

I’ve always known that my Mother was a strong woman. She grew up during the depression, survived losing her husband to the ravages of cancer and managed to raise three under-aged, dependent children after his death, on her own, with only $13.00 dollars left in the bank and her un-wavering strength and determination.. Though her life was rich in love and memories, she always worked hard and struggled to make ends meet financially. We knew we came from poor immigrant stock that came to this country not for untold riches, but to simply seek a better life. We celebrated their strengths and found honor in their sacrifices. Those that came before us taught us what life really was about. It wasn’t about where you lived or how much you were worth. It was about love, family and seeking simply happiness.

I have always been proud of my Mother and the life she has lived. I have proudly declared that she was not only the best Mom a man could have, but the best Father as well. From her, I learned to live, love and laugh… and of course to work! During our interview, while I heard some new stories not told before, quite honestly what I took home with me that day was a pride in my Mother for the life she is leading today. Living in a nursing home, death is a common occurrence.  Each time a fellow resident passes; the other residents are forced to confront their own eventual mortality. My Mother talks to those that are afraid. She calms them and assures them that we are all in transition. Death is not something to be feared but celebrated as a part of our lives. While her own health waivers at times, she maintains a positive outlook, for as she said, “ I wasn’t expecting the world. To this day, I feel that God knows what I need.” With that, I end this report as I ended the interview, “I love you Ma.”

drenar @ May 13, 2015

I had a dream

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It has been a long time since I posted anything on this blog that I started in 2009, but this experience was so beautiful and strong I had to share.

I had the most incredible dream last night. Not only was it incredibly beautiful where I was at, which was an old abandoned mansion like complex along a freshwater lake, but I could actually smell the fresh breeze and flowers in the air, I was able to taste the sweetness of the water and feel its warmth when I dove into the crystal clearness of it.  I woke up thinking, “if my mind can conjure up not only these wonderful visuals and sounds, but also the taste and touch senses that were so real, then life after death without a physical body to experience these senses was indeed a possibility and more so, a probability, at least in my mind.

Our thoughts, experiences and sensations are comprised of electrical impulses or energy within our brain. As scientific studies theorize,  energy never dies, it only changes forms. The indicator that someone has clinically died is the lack of electrical brain waves existing in the body, but these very brain waves, if science is correct, do not cease to exist, but rather move on to another realm. Heaven, The Happy Hunting Grounds, Shangri La, Valhalla,  Whatever you may call it, whether you believe in religious or scientific  based mantra about what happens upon death, this body energy that currently separates you from the status of clinical death perhaps can be considered your soul.

For those that have witnessed the moment of death, there seems to be a very noticeable moment when you can actually see the life (or soul) leave the eyes. There were actually scientific studies conducted by Dr. D. MacDougall in 1907 that concluded that the human soul weighs 21 grams, (http://www.livescience.com/32327-how-much-does-the-soul-weigh.html).

I’m going to be starting a new chapter in my life very soon working with hospice patients conducting life story interviews and life reviews.  After I had conducted a video interview with my mother two weeks before her death as part of an anthropological studies class at the university, I noticed that not only did I benefit hearing about and documenting her life through the many stories she shared, but she also realized through those same stories that she had indeed lived a full life filled with many life experiences and love. I hope to share that same self affirming experience with those that are about to cross over to a new realm of their after life.

Death is as much a part of our lives as life itself. We will all experience it. After a life time of sensations and emotions, I would like to think that our time here in our physical realm is meant for us to build up our personal library of “life” experiences that we can draw upon in the afterlife.

Live life. Experience everything it has to offer. Remember the pleasant things and forget the bad ones. Smell everything. Taste everything. See everything. Feel everything… and above all else, Love everything. Fill your life library till it bursts with the most wonderful experiences because this might be the very reason we live, to experience and take it all with us.

drenar @ June 25, 2014

The Fix! The “Patriotic Retirement Plan”:

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The Fix
There recently was an article in the  St. Petersburg Fl. Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on:  “How Would You Fix the Economy?”
I think this guy nailed it!

Dear Mr. President,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America ‘s economy.

Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the “Patriotic Retirement Plan”:

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force.  Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire.  Forty million job openings – Unemployment fixed..

2) They MUST buy a new American CAR.  Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

It can’t get any easier than that!!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes…

Mr. President, while you’re at it, make Congress retire on Social Security and Medicare. I’ll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!

If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.

If not, please disregard.

drenar @ February 1, 2010

A Bloodless Coup! The Supreme Court’s sale of America

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January 21st 2010, a date marked in history as the day the United States of America was sold to the highest bidder. With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn an almost century old law prohibiting corporations and unions from funding elections, the flood gates have now been thrown open. Special interest groups, corporations and even foreign held entities can now spend as much money as they see fit to sway elections in the USA.  Democracy died today. We have been invaded by a power greater than anything we have ever faced before. And not a shot was fired!

“Today the business once transacted by individuals in every community is in the control of corporations, and many of the men who once conducted an independent business are gathered into the organization, and all personal identity, and all individualities lost. Each man has become a mere cog in one of the wheels of a complicated mechanism. It is the business of the corporations to get money. It exacts but one thing of its employees: Obedience to orders. It cares not about their relations to the community, the church, society, or the family. It wants full hours and faithful service, and when they die, wear out or are discharged, it quickly replaces them with new material. The corporation is a machine for making money, but it reduces men to the insignificance of mere numerical figures, as certainly as the private ranks of the regular army. ~ Fighting Bob La Follette, speech on the Dangers Threatening Representative Government, Mineral Point, Wisconsin, July 4, 1897

drenar @ January 23, 2010

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

Posted in: Travel | Comments Off on I’m leaving on a jet plane…

JetPlaneThree days before I leave for Madrid and I’m actually a bit nervous.

My wife and I have decided to travel to Europe separately this time because we were able to redeem credit card points and get round trip tickets for free. The  catch was that we only had enough points on our credit cards to get tickets on different airlines. So on Sunday, I will travel by myself to Madrid, check into the hostel that we’ve reserved and take in the surrounding sites alone. The next day I’ll meet my wife at the airport and we’ll begin our Europe trip 2009 together.

The reason for my nervousness is that for that first day I won’t have my GPS enabled wife with me when I land in Madrid. I’ve become so used to having my beloved, “Cat Cat”, (in reference to Tom Tom) to guide me through unfamiliar territory that I find my own sense of direction beginning to fade. Cat, (my wife) has an almost GPS quality sense of direction that I’ve come to absolutely  rely on through our many trips. She points and I turn! It’s a simple system. We rarely if ever get lost and if we do, (get lost that is), it’s usually my fault.

So to combat my temporary lack of Cat Cat, I’ve looked up the area that I’m going to be staying in and have begun to familiarize myself with the routes and surroundings all through the magic that is Google! By entering in the address of the hostel, I not only found the best route to take to get there, but have also been able to do a virtual walk around the neighborhood to familiarize myself with those surroundings.

At first I was a bit surprised by what I saw. Graffiti was everywhere! Did we just book ourselves into a gang infested area? If this were Chicago, I would assume that we did, but by doing the virtual walk, I realized that the area seams to be pretty good. Graffiti didn’t seem to be an indicator of the safeness of the area.

After spending a couple of hours, “walking around” Madrid online, I feel fairly comfortable that I know the area. I’ve spotted several restaurants that look promising and walked through areas that from an arial view looked great but on the ground really didn’t look that special.  Ahhhh Google, as the, “Wildwood Weed” song lyrics say, “we all thought it was kinda handy, take a trip and never leave the farm”! Thanks to Google Maps, I have a pretty fare understanding of the neighborhood now. I will print out those maps, and be able to explore a bit before my wife joins me and I go back to our fool proof system of she points and I turn.  Next stop, Madrid

drenar @ October 15, 2009