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West Virginia sometimes has its share of tough winter weather. Most years, overnight temperatures fall well below freezing but daytime readings are moderate. Surely snow is a common element of the mix, along with rain, freezing rain and sleet.

Winter 1977–78 was unusually bleak, with early snowfalls and bitterly-cold temperatures which lasted for weeks on end. The hour-long one-way commute to my school was a daily challenge for the morning and afternoon return.

With a tiny house, perched on the heights of a steep hill, the access and egress paths — they were too primitive to be considered ‘roads’ or…

Photo by Ben White — on Unsplash.

The policies of international-money-transfer services have put a chill — or should I say an Ice Age — on humanitarian giving over the last several months. Their avowed compliance with apparent regulations to prevent fraudulent transfers of money internationally has been taken to the ultimate extreme. Most, if not all services now require that the benefactor and the recipient must have met in person, face-to-face. At least that is one of the many questions asked of the prospective sending customer.*

The absurdity of this requirement is beyond comprehension. Let me provide some background to the first victim of the policies…

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Biologists thought they knew everything important to know about our sense of smell. Turns out they had only a partial appreciation of the intricacies of our olfactory connections.

In a superb CuriosityStream two-episode broadcast, ‘The Secrets of Quantum Physics’, UK Professor Jim Al-Khalili covers the quantum physics involved. Specifically, his second episode, called, “Let There Be Life” speaks to the sub-atomic physics which is brought to bear in triggering those mental recollections when encountering a familiar-but-rarely-experienced smell.

For a long while, biologists thought that a given odor molecule fit receptors in our noses, in a hand-in-glove connection. While that starts…

My Introduction to Dyslexia

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I have become, by default, a ‘professional judge’ for local Literature Fairs. In our public-school system, a literature fair is held to encourage book and poetry reading, while giving presenter’s their three-to-five minutes oral presentation to recount details of their reading selection.

During the recent school-district-level event, my judging partner (a librarian) and I were scoring the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ elements of the entry: Title, check. Author, check. Publisher and date, check. We looked for presence or absence on the display board for the things we were to review and rate.


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As a (mostly) retired public servant, I am eager to resume my reading aloud with primary students this school year.

To say that the process is ‘rewarding’ is an understatement. I am often paid in hugs. While the classroom teachers with whom I have worked value my presence every week, it is the students of grades three, four and five who show their genuine appreciation.

A typical Thursday morning involves driving to the school and schlepping the three-ring binders of my prepared-and-rehearsed readings for the day. In the classroom, I place my binder(s) on a stand-up table or lectern and…

Or: Fear of the Unknown Can Be Debilitating

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While part of me hates to use the old, ‘outdoors-and-basement’ cat as a crude illustration, I also believe it is fitting. And it’s not just because I’m aging that I hear those ‘adult’ voices that say:

“But you cannot do that, because of ____________. <<Insert favorite justification, of your choice>>

Even though I genuinely admire spontaneity in others, I have rarely suffered from that malady. Some would call me ‘staid’; some would describe, ‘overly cautions’; and others would just say, ‘predictably a stick-in-the-mud’. All those monikers are accurate, but still sting in their contemplation.

Okay, back to the old cat…

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Only in recent years have I been compelled to write for self-therapy. Although I have been a technical writer for my entire career, from state administrative regulations, to technical operating procedures and manuals for an aerospace manufacturer and finally ordinances and resolutions for a small city, I never took the opportunity of writing for my benefit.

Over the last few years, I have changed that paradigm and have used journaling — not as a diary — but as a head-clearing process to help make sense of my world. Do I write every day? No, because forcing myself to do a…

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Although I spent only four years in the U.S. Navy, its recollections have been surfacing for a time. Perhaps it was the relatively-young age of my shipmates (and me) that etched such a long-lasting impression on my psyche.

After having spent nearly six months in ‘A School’ in West Florida, (Corry Field, Pensacola), I received orders to a Naval Security Group [NAVSECGRU] field station in South Dade County, Florida. New to the business of electronic surveillance and cryptography, I had no inkling of what the day-to-day work would entail.

In the pre-TSA days of travel, the flight from Pensacola to…

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I often do not know how my feeble brain works. I just permit it to wander through fields of recall, until it is brought back to current moment. That was the sketchy process that prompted memories from 46 years ago.

Out of nowhere — as an organist and orgel enthusiast — came the memories of watching an organist at The Committee Improv Theatre, on Montgomery Street, in San Francesco, during October 1972. Although I certainly cannot recall his name, and the performance program was likely lost forever, shortly thereafter, his ‘pre-show’, intermission and finale work was superb. …

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Part of me admires the constantly-evolving world of marketing. I have marketing friends I greatly admire and respect. Products and services are evolving into complex and unpredictable entities which would completely befuddle our grandparents, and sometimes our parents. As an example, while there have been dog-walking services for a long while, its practitioners are now instantly summoned with a smartphone app. I suspect the list of entirely-new products for the marketplace is mushrooming, as society continues to expect the ‘better mousetrap’ to make lives ‘easier’ by some measure.

And now, to the marketing misses.

Local auto dealers somehow manage to…

Robert Johnson

Reader, blogger, musician and music promoter/event producer. Community activist and educational advocate.

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