A search of the Emerald City archives leaves us empty handed when it comes to any documents regarding the rights of the good people of Oz. No declarations. No constitution. How fortunate we are to have such founding documents because they not only allow us to express our differences of opinions, these documents encourage public debate because without active dialogue and open discussion, we are not really free.

September 17 has been designated as Constitution Day. The opening words should ring a bell of freedom:

We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Beyond those 52 words, I wonder how many of the full 4,400 words in the “ancient” document we aware of are.  When was the last time (or first time) you took the time out of your busy facebook selfie world to read the document that tells us how we are governed?

I just re-read the Constitution, but unfortunately it did not grip me the way it should have, or at least impress me as much as the words in the Declaration of Independence or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address do. Shame on me. But, I don’t feel ashamed. Better to attempt to live free and fight for the rights of others.

I liken it to an office copier. I’ve read how a copy machine works…the technology, that is, and to be honest, it was beyond my pay grade. However, that didn’t keep me away from copy machines.  In fact, when I stand before a copy machine, I humbly submit to the power it has and appreciate the science that’s involved. And I will also admit that I can get very angry at a copy machine when it doesn’t work, when it eats my paper or flashes a signal to open door one, pull tab B, etc. And when I am completely frustrated…I kick the stupid machine.

That, I believe, is the average Americans relationship with the US Constitution. We want it to work, we expect it to work, and we don’t appreciate it when it doesn’t work.

Unfortunately we don’t need to have a real relationship with a copy machine, but we do need to embrace our Constitution because it supports and defends our rights to live free.

In all honesty I came away from my re-reading of the Constitution understanding one thing.  The cherished document of 1789 is filled with a laundry list of how things are to work. They delineate the structure of how we are to be governed. But what this document does not do is instruct us how to live.  That’s what we learn from the spirit of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In order for us…as a people…to become a more perfect union, we have to place some trust in the US copy machine, aka, the US Congress, the Executive Office, and the Supreme Court.

When we go into the voting booth on Election Day and pull those levers, we are pushing the button on the copy machine that guides and governs. We can only hope and pray that the damn machine won’t jam.

fifteen babies-LR

Yesterday  millions of Americans stopped what they were doing to remember the heroes and ordinary people who perished in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and  on doomed flight 93. There were close to 3000 reasons why we needed to remember. But that was yesterday. That was 13 years ago.

What we don’t think about is that yesterday 13,238 newly minted teenagers blew out the candles on their birthday cakes. And while the names of those 13,238 babies born on September 11, 2001 were not announced yesterday, we need to focus on them because they carry with them a special burden. There’s no way they will ever escape the shadow of 9/11 because it will follow them all the days of their lives.

They were each given a their own name: Jennifer, Jeremy, Nicholas, Kieran, Bryan, Sarah, Courtney, Jillian, Brielle, Andrew, Landon, Addyson, Emily, Nora, Storm, etc. But they all have been given a coommon name, and that name is Hope. Hope that each of them will never take anything for granted.  Hope that each of them will be able to adopt one of the victims of 9/11 and carry them in their heart. Hope that one day they will be a reason why there is a little more love in the world. Let’s hope that they may be blessed with brains to do the right things, hearts that are filled with love for others, and the courage to stand tall against all obstacles.

Happy Birthday to the kids known as Hope. Instead of blowing out their candles, let’s keep them glowing brightly in the dark.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.





From early tothood I learned the difference between going #1 and going #2.  Isn’t any surprise I was puzzled when my mother gave me a #2 pencil on my first day of school. What was she thinking?

It took less than a week before the bottom of my school bag looked like a recycling dump.

When they handed our text books, I always seemed to get ones that were at least ten years old when the kid in front and the kid behind me got new ones.  It started my love of old books.

I mastered the art of covering text books with brown paper grocery bags by the time I was in second grade. I saw career potential in it. I was thinking of opening a text book covering business.

I always remembered to write down my homework in my assignment book. But, I usually left it at school.  I was known for making a lot of phone calls to other kids in my class.  That helped a little…until I learned I had left my text book at school.

My book bag always smelled like an old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not surprising when I finally cleaned out my school bag and found a five-week old PB&J sandwich.  I started buying lunch at school when I was in the third grade. I looked forward to Wednesdays because that’s when they served spam.

Hated writing with a fountain pen because my pen always decided to throw up on my essays.  I thought “ink eradicator” was a godsend until I realized too much of it ate a hole right through the paper.  Many of my writing assignments looked like they had been written on Swiss cheese.

My favorite subject in elementary school was astrophysics. Never took it, but I’m sure I would have loved it.

Played the clarinet in the school band. Belated apologies to my family…and neighbors who thought I was strangling ducks.

My best friend in elementary school was me. (I used to get a big kick out of me.)

I always wanted a pair of Keds to wear in gym. My parents told me Keds were too expensive, that’s why I got my sneakers from “Two Guys of Massapequa.”  Their sneakers cost three bucks.  I drew the Keds symbol on my sneakers to look cool.  That’s where my love of graphics started.

My first grade teacher was Miss Van (that’s what we called her because her real name was too hard to pronounce. I think it was Van DerWhistejammerheimer).  She was everything a first grade teacher should be.

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Marie Stamm.  She was 136 years old, walked with a limp and I think had a glass eye. She scared the #2 pencil out of me for the entire year.

I must have been in a coma for third grade because I have no idea who my teachers were.  Yeah. I had two of them.  The only thing I remember about third grade wash having to spell “Eisenhower” in a class spelling bee.  I spelled it correctly but was knocked out when I had to spell “boot.”  I added an extra “t.”

My fourth grade teacher was A for excellent.  My first male teacher.  Today his name would be cause for problems. His name was Mr. Dick.

My fifth grade teacher must have been cloned from Mrs. Stamm. His name was Mr. Alan. I think the only way to get him to smile would have been to stand him on his head.

I ended elementary school with a super teacher.  Mr. Gerald FitzGerald.  Gave me the gift of learning for a life time.

Although I was never elected to any class office, I was always appointed to two positions: Milk-hander-outter and Eraser-clapper.  I excelled in both positions. I never met a cow I didn’t like.

Junior high is a big blur.  It was like a bad acid trip.  I failed shop class. Surprise, surprise to anyone who has ever seen my handiwork around the house.




What do a stop sign, the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, the Israeli/Gaza situation, and the price of tea in China have in common?

A Google Earth view of Oz shows that there is not a single stop sign anywhere. And that makes sense since there are no cars in the Land of Oz. However, in the real world in 2009, there were approximately 856,373,373 metal stop signs posted on US roads in the continental USA.

If you’ve ever watched drivers at or approaching a stop sign, you are observing a microcosm of human nature. Some drivers come to a complete stop that lasts a full five or six seconds before proceeding while some sort of stop before stepping on the gas. Then you have drivers who barely slow down before going on their merry way. And of course there are those drivers who totally ignore the stop sign.

Forget the official rules that govern a stop sign. It’s all comes down to perception. And we all know that perception is reality…for most of us.  But I think there’s more to stop signs than just perception.  I think what we think about stopping at a stop sign is an indication of how we think about most things. It’s called rightful thinking which means whatever we think…is right. And the rest of the world be damned.

We apply stop sign-thinking to most everything in life, from the big to the little. Take Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown.  Some people think of him as a tragic victim of racism. Some think of him as another Rosa Park, sparking a revitalized interest in civil rights. Some people, on the other hand, think of him as a troublemaker.

There probably isn’t an American who doesn’t have an opinion on Michael Brown’s death or murder. Most opinions are just that. Opinions. And while there is nothing wrong with opinions…in fact the exchange of differing opinions often leads to a better understanding of a situation…opinions are often a matter of perception. Like stopping at a stop sign.

The same stop sign-thinking can be applied to the world’s opinion on the current fighting going on between Hamas and Israel.  People think that what they think is right…and end of story.

And the price of tea in China? What does that have to do with stop signs, Michael Brown and the current Middle East conflict? Well, consider the etymology of the expression: Usually when someone does not think your current statement has to do with the conversation at hand they can ask, “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China”?

That’s usually what people say without saying those exact words when discussing important issues. People usually think other people’s opinions are either irrelevant or wrong. But how will we ever move forward unless we are all in agreement with the way we come to draw conclusions?* 

Until that happens there will be other Michael Browns, continued fighting in the Middle East and people who carelessly race through stop signs.

* We don’t always have to agree on something, but we do have to agree on how we agree or disagree.


TMI on the YBR


I don’t know how news spread from one part of Oz to another, but I do know that means, modes and methods of communication were quite limited. And while I could go on and on listing the benefits and values of the many forms of communication and social media that we take for granted today, I have this sinking feeling that we are suffering from too much information.

 There was a time before the modern era of mass communication in America when word traveled slowly and newspapers were mostly home grown.  What happened a short hundred miles away happened in a vacuum.  The impact of even “universal” news wasn’t felt in all parts of the country all at once.   Today, if someone sneezes in Riyadh, someone in Sydney is saying “God bless you”  thirty seconds later, and in less than a minute a video is going viral about a contagious disease in Saudi Arabia, and CNN has dispatched a crew to cover the event as it is unfolding.

 I am a firm believer in information and the “proper” spread of it. While I write this blog the small city of Ferguson, Illinois is being literally torn apart over the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer. I will refrain from adding my two cents because then I will be guilty of what I believe it the inherent problem with communication in the Twitted age we live in. I will limit my comments to observations without prejudice.

 Not that the incident doesn’t deserve the attention it is getting, but I fear that the information that is washing over us with the speed of a tsunami, is drowning us in a sea of valid information, misinformation, hearsay, lies, innuendos and most of all biased reporting.

 Information is supposed to provide us with a full understanding of a situation in such a way that we can make “an informed decision.”  Because we only know the end result of what happened we are all guilty of trying to fill in the missing pieces with haphazard guesses based on our own prejudices and points of view.

 No matter how much information is flowing on the Ferguson incident, most of us are really unprepared to make any valid comments. I know I’m in no position to say anything because I not only don’t know all the facts, I don’t know enough of the fiction involved.

 Fiction?  Yes. I believe that fiction is not limited to false information. Fiction is the back story of who we are and why we respond to things we do. Fiction is a result of making up stories to live by. Sometimes they are coping mechanisms, but more often than not, they are excuses and the reasons why we often blame other people for our current condition.

 Facts have a way of playing themselves out. Facts can be turned inside out and upside down. Facts, if they stand the test, can withstand any and all assaults.  But fictions, on the other hand, are slippery. They hide from the light of truth. They often masquerade as facts, but in the end, they are revealed for what they are…the lies we like to tell each other.

 That’s what scares me most about the speed at which facts and fictions fill the air.  We don’t like to face the facts because they challenge the story we have come to believe as truth.

 The wound that was opened in Ferguson this past week will fester and very possibly become infected, thereby setting race relations back 100 years.

 Did I say 100 years?  About a 100 miles away and 106 years ago…in August, Springfield, Illinois was the scene of a race riot that nearly brought the city to its knees.  Two incidents sparked the riots. A black man was arrested for breaking into the house of a white man who pursued the black man only to have his throat slashed. A little over a month later a white woman accused a black man of rape. (The woman eventually retracted her story.)

 The white citizens of Springfield took the law into their own hands and stormed the black sections of the city.  Some 12,000 whites, mostly men, took part in the riots.  Homes were burned, black businesses were destroyed and people were killed. The governor off Illinois had to send in the 5000 militia to restore order.

 In the end, 40 homes and 24 businesses were destroyed. And worse than the loss of property, seven people (five white and two black Americans) were dead.

 Did any good come out of it?  The riot is considered to be the event that led to the formation of the NAACP, an organization created to “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”

 The fiction in the Springfield riots of 1908 is the same fiction that is woven into the Ferguson riots of 2014. It is the fiction of a prejudice that is not limited to one race and one race alone. The fact of the matter is that people on both sides of the coin don’t want to face the facts, preferring to believe only what they want to believe.

 And to the millions of people who never gave Ferguson, Illinois a second thought before, are washing their heads with the water polluted by misinformation.

 This whole messy affair leads me to conclude with one comment: Truth is deader than the dinosaur. Tweet that. Post that on Facebook.


Although the price of gold has gone up and down…many times…since I first posted this blog a little more than three years ago, I believe, in my humble opinion, a blog worth revisiting.

Originally posted on Along The Yellow Brick Road:

Since the dollar as we know it is no longer worth what it used to be worth, there’s been a lot of press on the value of gold. With the price of gold currently going for $1,500 an ounce, I got to thinking about a 1915 two and a half dollar gold coin I have in my coin collection. It probably weighs about .25 ounces…or a little less, making it worth between $350 and $375. As a coin, however, in fine condition, it would sell for about $285.

The math is simple. My coin is worth more as gold than it is as a coin.

That got me thinking about the concept of value and worth on the YBR. And for the purpose of this “blagh” I’m only using my gold coin as a metaphor for the value and worth of our lives on the YBR.

How much is a…

View original 424 more words



The text of the address delivered by the Scarecrow of Oz to the members of the United Nations in the summer 0f 2014


Before I begin to insult the intelligence of the people of planet Earth, let me tell you that Oz did have its problems. Once ruled by four witches….two good and two bad…and governed by a humbug, the residents of Oz were not living on the same page. The long-suffering Munchkins, who always believed they got the short end of the stick, were small in number compared to the people of Emerald City who believed they were in charge. The constant feuding between these two peoples made it very difficult for the other inhabitants of Oz to live in harmony. The Winkies, Quadlings, Field Mice and the Porcelain people in the China Country had their differences, but only rarely took up arms to settle their differences. The same can’t be said for the Kalidahs, those monstrous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers, and the Fighting Trees. They shared the same territory but could not live together. Their differences they said were too great so they fought…constantly. And lastly there were the Winged Monkeys, a most maligned people. Having lived under the cruel Wicked Witch of the West, they had no rights. They were forced to do her bidding. But once the Wicked Witch was liquefied, they emerged as the great peacekeepers of Oz, and to this day they continue to fight….using words, not weapons…to help the people of Oz resolve their differences.

Having spent the past two years as a visiting professor at Harvard, and having had the opportunity to travel the world and meet the people of earth, I have to admit that you are an embarrassment. You live on a beautiful planet. You have been blessed beyond belief. But still, after thousands of years you are still uncivilized.  You claim to believe in a God that is all good and all loving, but instead of honoring your God, you make a mockery of this eternal being by shedding blood in his/her name.

The current situation in your Middle East tells me how stupid you people are. A good number of you are siding with the Palestinians…for what you believe are good and just reasons, A good number of you are aligned with Israel….for what you, too, believe are good and just reasons. The Arab and the Jewish people are shedding blood over what…a piece of land in the desert?  The people in the region believe that they are doing God’s bidding. These people are fighting a war that is almost as old as mankind.  And why?  Is it because the Jewish homeland was carved out of that little piece of earth the Palestinian people believed was theirs and theirs alone?  Is it because the State of Israel has mistreated the Palestinians and denied them their basic human rights?

Are you people so blind to your history that you can’t see that it was your greed that caused today’s problems in the Middle East in the first place.  And I say it was greed because after reading your history books that’s all I come away with….greed, with a heavy dose of self-righteousness thrown in there for bad measure.

There is not a place on this earth that has not suffered because of your greed and this belief that one people have a supreme right over other people. You Americans, who fought for independence and in your own words declared that all people are created equal, are the same people that nearly put an end to the people who called your land their home for centuries.  What you did to the members of the hundreds of Native American tribes is unconscionable. You took their land because you wanted it. You made a mockery of their beliefs, destroyed their traditions and inflicted them with diseases that did what your guns couldn’t do.  To make amends you gave these once great people reservations to live out their lives.

Your partition of the United States of America is only one example of how the people of planet earth believe that the earth must be conquered and divided up.  It doesn’t matter that the great shorelines, the mountain ranges and the mighty rivers that you uses as boundaries were never intended to divide you, but rather to join you as one great people.

What happened in the Middle East is the result of your desire to slice up the world and for the most powerful nations to take possession of it, regardless of what people might have called that land their home.  The blame for what is happening today in the Middle East needs to be a shared blame.  It’s far too easy to blame the current parties involved in the conflict because there is a history of blame that needs to be shared by other nations.

(To read the rest of the Scarecrow’s address….)

Scarecrow part two



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