I need to admit, when I first heard about people asking for reparations for African and Native Americans due to the European Americans who took their liberty and lands, I was very skeptical. My first reaction was to think that there is nobody alive today that was a slave before the civil war. There is nobody alive today when the lands were taken. My second reaction was that it would cost too much.
My thinking on this issue has changed and I thought I would take some time to explain why because I know many of you probably had the same reaction that I had.
I grew up in a white suburb south of Minneapolis. I remember being told that in the past realtors had a line in Minneapolis. People of color would not be shown houses that were south of that line. I’m not sure when that ended. But it had been in effect when Bloomington was built up. So, I grew up with no people of color on the blocks where I lived and very few in my schools. One day I’ll take the time to dig out my old high school yearbook and count minority students in the photos, and I know it will be a very low number.
The lack of diversity extended from just my peers, but also to the adults in my life. My church is doing a book study this summer. We are reading and discussing the book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. She writes about having an African American teacher for the first time in college. In our discussions someone asked if we could remember our first teacher of color. I couldn’t remember one.
I talk about this to let you know that what I know about race relations and people of color is well below the norm in today’s world. It makes me wonder what I missed out on. But I am trying to learn more. I want the aftermath of George Floyd and the Minneapolis riots in 2020 to be more than the aftermath of Rodney King and the LA riots in 1992, more than Michael Brown and the Ferguson riots in 2014, more than Freddie Gray and the Baltimore riots in 2015 and others. I don’t want this to become one of another in a long line of similar historical events that keep repeating. I want real change.
Which brings me back to reparations. I had two objections when I first heard about reparations. The first was that these things all happened long ago in the past and nobody alive has been directly hurt by them. What I’ve been reading about and seeing in streaming videos is that people of color have been hurt and hurt directly. The laws and culture have favored whites over people of color and kept their communities impoverished. White supremacy is ingrained in our culture and our attitudes. People of color have not had an equal opportunity to succeed. This isn’t something that just happened in the days after the Civil War. It’s not something that was just happening in the South. It’s not something that was eradicated when the Civil Rights Bill was passed. It’s ongoing in our culture.
My second objection was the cost. This would be expensive. In fact, there is no way to truly monetize the harm that has been and is being done. But what if we spent a trillion dollars? What impact would that have. What if you spent half of that money on local schools that serve communities of color, so that they’re on an equal footing with public schools in white areas? Schools in areas of poverty have more of a struggle than middle class schools. Teachers ask parents for monetary help with things for the classroom when there are budget cuts, booster clubs fund various items for student activities. Do you think that schools in areas of poverty get as much as a school in a middle-class area? This would not be taking away from the white schools and you’re giving the upcoming generation a better start. They’ll someday grow up and have a positive impact on society. We’d all be better off. I think that this would be a far better use of our money than the tax cut that was given to corporations that was supposed to rev up the hiring and cause everybody’s income to rise but instead was used mostly for stock buybacks that revved up the stock market, but little else.
So, I’ve changed my views on reparations. I guess it’s nice to know that even though I’ve gotten older, I’m still capable of changing my mind.
Something happened to me about 25 years ago that I’ve never told anybody about. Until now.
At the time I was working for a company that sold and serviced two-way radios. From time to time some of our customers would come in to pay their bill in person. One day as I was talking with a co-worker at her desk, a man walked by on his way to pay his bill. As he walked by the woman scowled and after he had turned a corner, she turned to me and spoke. In a low voice she said, “That guy always gives me the creeps when he comes in.”
“Why?” I asked a bit puzzled.
“He was arrested for child abuse.”
So, now I understood why she got the creeps.
I’m not sure when the next part happened, but it was at least days later. Could have been months or years for that matter. I was in a co-worker’s office in the service area going over some accounting numbers with him. When we were done, I left to go to my office. But coming out I saw the “creepy man”. He was waiting for some help with a radio and was blocking my path out. I stood there transfixed. I didn’t want to interact with him. I looked at him feeling superior and feeling very put out that he was blocking my path. I’m not sure how long I stood there. But then I heard a voice without using my ears.
“If I can forgive him, why can’t you?”
It’s pretty easy to figure out that I’d just been given a message from God, who was not pleased with my attitude. I quietly squeezed past the man with an “excuse me”.
I feel I should make a distinction here. There is a difference between forgiving and condoning. Even when God forgives us our actions are still a source of sadness.
Before you think that about how special I am because God spoke to me, let me remind you that I received a message because I needed more direction. So, if you haven’t been spoken to it might be because you don’t need as much help as me.
This was just correction in the moment, but it was also a correction that I needed in my life. I’ve tried to follow the advice I was given. I’ve forgiven people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve forgiven people who didn’t earn their forgiveness. I’ve forgiven people who have hurt me. It’s sometimes hard to forgive and to let things go. Sometimes I can hang onto the hurt, like that little piece of a popcorn kernel that’s stuck between your tooth and your gum and you can’t stop trying to work it free with your tongue. Other times it’s been a blessing to me to be able to let it go and put it in God’s hands. I hope it’s been a blessing to others as well. My hope is that by modeling God’s behavior I’ve given people an example of God’s love for them.
I’ve learned that we don’t get to decide who God forgives. We don’t decide who deserves forgiveness. We don’t decide who’s earned forgiveness. Those decisions are made by God, who forgives because of love. God doesn’t give forgiveness to those who earn it or to those who deserve it. God gives it to everyone. It’s up to you to accept forgiveness.
Next time you’re feeling superior or put out because of something someone has done, remember forgiveness. God loves that person and can forgive them, so why can’t you.
And next time you’re feeling inferior or down on yourself because of something you’ve done or something that’s happened to you, remember forgiveness. God loves you and can forgive you, so why don’t you.
I haven’t posted about my brewing activities in a while. When I last posted I had done my first batch in my Mash & Boil. I’ve done six more batches since then.
I’ve been pleased with the Mash & Boil. The main drawback being that it takes a while to raise the temperature. So, when you’re trying to get up to a temperature to mash your grains or boil your wort it can take a while. A friend recommended using a bucket heater, which is used to heat buckets of water for livestock in the winter to keep the water from freezing. With that in place the brew day goes much quicker.
The other drawback ended up being solved. I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout that used quite a few hops. And the pump on the unit stopped working. I believe it was jammed by some hop material. Yes, I should have used some sort of hop spider or something to keep the hops contained. But I hadn’t had problems before, so I forgot that I should have done so with a heavily hopped brew. It didn’t impact the actual brew, but I did need to get the pump working again before my next brew. So, I called and then emailed the manufacturer. They emailed me back, but by then I had solved the problem by a combination of pouring cleaning solution down the outlet of the pump and turning the unit upside down a few times. Their email also suggested blowing and sucking on the outlet and then instructions on how to take the unit apart to clear the jam if that didn’t work.
So, I’m happy with the unit. I feel like overall I’m getting better quality with my brews and have a more consistent process. When the Corona virus settles down enough that homebrew competitions start again I’ll enter some brews and see how I do. That’s the true feedback. Family and friends are good, but on top of not being expert judges they’re going to be polite and not tell you if your beer is bad.
My next batch is going to be an Amber Ale. I’m monkeying around with the recipe and have most of the grains and hops that I need. And I have to decide what yeast to use. Then the tough part. I’ll have to come up with a name. I think anything with “waves of grain” has been done. At this point I’m leaning towards Zelazny’s Amber Ale and fellow science fiction nerds will know why.
Part of the curriculum with Waldorf Schools is doing a class play every year. When Debbie was teaching at the Minnesota Waldorf School she did a play every year with the class from first grade all the way through eight grade when they capped it all off by doing a Shakespeare play.
I was looking through her things a while ago and realized that in almost every year she had chosen a play with an alliterative title. Here’s the list:
First grade: The Golden Goose by the Brothers Grimm
Second grade: Three African Fables
Third grade: The Israelite Saga
Fourth grade: The Curse of the Ring by Roberto Trostli
Fifth grade: The Epic of Gilgamesh
Sixth grade: The Haunted House by Plautus
Seventh grade: The Learned Ladies by Moliere
Eighth grade: Measure for Measure by Shakespeare
I’m not sure if she was being alliterative on purpose, or if it was just coincidence. Or possibly it was a little of both.
Many years Debbie had a complete script she could readily use (4th, 5th, 7th & 8th). But in the other years, there weren’t any plays available that she felt were right for her class. She usually had me scouring the internet looking for plays. When nothing was found she would ask me to adapt a story (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th).
She would give me a story and ask me to convert it into a play with enough parts for everyone in the class. I would write a first draft which she would read and comment on. Then after I reworked it, she would make the final edits. It was always fun to see the students do the show.
The Sixth grade play was challenging. Her class that year was 18 students and the play she picked had only 12 parts. So, I added three parts by splitting some characters into two characters. Then I added another three by taking the character with the most lines and splitting it into four. I used the text from Project Gutenberg as a base as I could download it and put it into my word processor. Then because that text was a fairly old translation, I took several books with more current translations and updated many of the lines to more current language.
Because I spent much time looking for suitable plays, I thought I would post the scripts that Debbie and I adapted on this site (https://www.timkwrites.com/waldorf-class-plays.html). If you’re searching for plays to do on the internet and find my blog feel free to download and use the plays. Drop me a line and let me know if you’re using the script.
A local realtor recently sent out a refrigerator magnet with the Minnesota Twins schedule for the year. Obviously, that schedule is no longer pertinent with the Corona virus causing the cancellation of the beginning of the season. While efforts are underway to possibly play some games, it remains to be seen if that will work out.
It is my hope that some form of major league baseball will be played this year. Sports can provide a distraction from the events in our lives that weigh heavily upon us like, you know, pandemics for example. It can also be a source of joy. Along with many Minnesotans I remember what it was like when the Twins won their first World Series. There was a feeling of joy that we all shared.
Receiving the schedule in the mail brought back memories of that time. Especially when I looked on the back and saw a list of World Series Champions. Each time that has won the World Series was listed alphabetically along with the years they had won. I saw the many years listed for the Yankees. I noticed the recent wins by the Red Sox after the Curse of the Bambino was lifted.
Ah yes, the Curse of the Bambino. Believed by many to be retribution for the owner of the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season. At that point, the Red Sox had won more World Series Championships than any other team while the Yankees had never won. But then came the long drought for the rest of the century, and then some, The Yankees won the World Series 26 times before the Red Sox would win another in 2004.
So, why does this post have “Part Two” as a part of its title? The Curse has manifested itself as preventing World Series Championships. Plus, as a Minnesota Twins fan I am predisposed to thinking of the Yankees as being part of a curse to keep us from winning another title.
As I was looking at the list of Champions, I started looking at when each franchise’s last title was. And I noticed a cluster of them in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Then I noticed that time frame coincided with a lack of wins by the Yankees. I was interested and started to look at the time frame.
First the Yankees. They won the World Series in 1978 and then not again until 1996. A span of 16 World Series (if you’re counting don’t forget that there was no Series in 1994 due to the strike.) This is the longest gap between wins since the Bambino joined the team.
And what about the winners of those 16 Series? There were three repeat teams, meaning that there were 13 teams that won during the Yankee’s drought. For ten years afterwards none of them won a World Series. The team that broke that streak was the National League team that with the most World Series victories. Since then only two other teams have had wins. Coincidentally, the only two that had teams that moved from their cities to the west.
Here’s the list:
1979 Pittsburg Pirates (last win)
1980 Philadelphia Phillies (won again in 2008)
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers
1982 St. Louis Cardinals (won again in 2006, 2011)
1983 Baltimore Orioles (last win)
1984 Detroit Tigers (last win)
1985 Kansas City Royals (won again in 2015)
1986 New York Mets (last win)
1987 Minnesota Twins
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers (last win)
1989 Oakland Athletics (last win)
1990 Cincinnati Reds (last win)
1991 Minnesota Twins (last win)
1992 Toronto Blue Jays
1993 Toronto Blue Jays (last win)
1995 Atlanta Braves (last win)
Coincidence or CURSE? You be the judge.
I thought I would write about some of my memories of these times while they’re fresh in my mind. Years from now, my memory might not be as good as it is now. Also, over time some details get lost.
I haven’t posted anything in a while. You would think that staying at home I would have plenty of time to write. But no. I went over a month not writing anything- nothing in this blog, nothing in the blog on my business site, nothing else. I think I was just too overwhelmed with the pandemic. I’ve been following the numbers of people infected and dead on the tracker on the Johns Hopkins website. Perhaps that much death, while not overtly affecting me did impact me subconsciously.
I have started writing again as you can tell. I think what brought me out of it was my writing group. We all took a class together at the Loft in 2014 and have been getting together twice a month since then to check in with each other about how we’re doing with writing. At one of our virtual meetings I was talking about not writing. I think putting it into words made me realize that I should start again. That and the support I got from the group.
As the scope of the pandemic became clear in the US, there was a run on toilet paper. People were worried about running out and once it became a thing people started hoarding it. I wasn’t worried about that. I was more worried about food and water. Not to panic, but what if they ran out? Should I plant a garden? However, if I did that it would end up feeding the rabbits in my area. So, I guess if food becomes scarce, I’ll just have to use some of my homebrew as trade.
One of the reasons I didn’t worry about toilet paper is because I was stocked up. I usually buy paper products (TP, Kleenex, paper towels) in bulk. Target seemed to run specials, like get a five-dollar gift card if you buy twenty-five dollars of paper products, whenever I’d be low on something. And when you live alone twenty-five dollars’ worth of toilet paper goes a long way.
I usually store my overflow in the garage to keep it out of the way. But when reports of people hoarding started to come out, I decided I didn’t want people driving by when my garage door was open to think I was a hoarder. I moved everything inside to Andrew’s room, since he’s gone there’s some space available.
The last weekend before the stay at home order took effect, I had my kids over for dinner since I might not get to see them for a while. Alicia and Carlos were there. Andrew came along with his girlfriend Karli, who I hadn’t met yet. Of course, while they were here, Andrew and Karli went up to his bedroom. Later I realized that they must have seen the stack of paper products in his room and thought I was hoarding.
I’ll try to get back to my old schedule of posting every other week now that I’m back on track.
As I sat down to write this post, I looked at the time on my computer. It was 9:11. I guess these days that’s appropriate. My last post was about how JK Rowling had saved civilization (https://www.timkwrites.com/blog/how-j-k-rowling-saved-civilization). And now two short weeks later, it feels as if the end of civilization might be upon us.
Like most people I was surprised by how quickly this all happened. I have to admit to getting caught up in the hype, checking the CDC website daily for the total cases in the US, looking at the world map of coronavirus produced by Johns Hopkins. While I didn’t get involved in the toilet paper fiasco, I do find myself in the grocery store buying two of everything I needed. Just in case it’s not there when I come back.
“Social distancing” and “flattening the curve” have entered our vocabulary. Fear is now a part of our lives. Death approaches for many.
While we must be physically isolated, we need to become closer as communities. Thankfully we have modern technology to help. Churches can livestream services. Schools are teaching over the internet. People are connecting online. We will be able to pull together. When the worst happens, we will be able to lean on each other virtually.
I find myself going back to a Bible verse and finding comfort it.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
God has a plan and that plan includes us. I know that God’s plan is to get as many of us into heaven as possible. So, while we will go through trials and tribulations here on earth, the day will come when we enter God’s glorious kingdom and bask in love of our Creator.
I like to tell a joke about politicians. I even included it in an earlier blog post. I’ll repeat it here. Pediatricians recommend that children’s exposure to media shouldn’t be allowed until they’re at least two years old. And you can see why when you look at Washington and realize the people holding offices were all raised with televisions in every house.
I was looking to see how accurate I was and found this quote on the internet, “[they] have a weaker understanding of other people’s beliefs and desires….” While you might think this quote applies to many politicians, it’s really from a study of preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom. (I’ll include a link at the end.)
We used to have politicians who weren’t afraid to work with people in the other party. Now it seems as if the only things that get done are those that will help in the next election. And, it’s not just politicians who have trouble these days. When I was young it was fun to talk late into the night about politics with someone who’s views were different than your own. Now people are afraid to talk politics lest someone take offense and unfriend them.
I wanted to start by talking about the problem before I went into what J K Rowling did. But then, you already know what she did. She wrote Harry Potter. She got people to read, especially young people. And what’s the big deal about that you’re wondering. It’s all in how reading affects the brain.
Reading changes your brain. Readers form more connections within their brains when they read. Readers have more empathy towards others, as they are drawn into stories and identify with the characters. Elizabeth Eisenstein in her book, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, says that the invention of the printing press which allowed the general public access to books and knowledge sparked the “Unacknowledged Revolution”. This revolution came from the growth in individual thought that came from reading.
The printing press was invented in 1440. This was followed in the next 100 years by the Protestant Reformation, the spread of the Renaissance across Europe and the Scientific Revolution. These were followed by the Age of Enlightenment with its values of liberty, progress, constitutional governments and the separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are a couple well known figures connected with the Enlightenment.
You can see the power of reading and what happens when more people read. And that is why I have hope for the future. When all these people who grew up reading Harry Potter come into power, they’re going to make the world a better place. Thanks J K.
I don’t remember the source of what I’m about to tell you about. I remember reading it in a magazine in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. Also, the numbers might have been different, but the point remains the same. With those caveats, I’ll write about what I remember.
There was a study done in a manufacturing plant. It found that if two workers, one who could read at a fifth grade level and one who could read at a sixth grade level, working together would be able to understand instructions written at a ninth grade reading level.
This has stuck with me over the years. It’s a good proof that we can accomplish more working together than we can on our own. Each person brings their own strengths and talents that complement the others. Different viewpoints have value and need to be listened to. None of us is perfect.
Now picture those same two workers, but now they are both sure they are the ultimate authority and everything the other says is wrong. I think their combined reading level would actually drop.
I think the reason this came to mind to me as I was thinking about what to write is because we’re in an election year and I want us to end up at an upper level.
I’ve had a bit of activity on the brewing front that I thought I would update you about. First off, I am no longer the reigning champion of the Nordeast Brewers Alliance Homebrew Competition. I knew that was coming. I entered some beers, but I knew that none of them were as good as my winning brew from last year.
From my last brewing post, I had entered two of the beers that I had talked about. The Toasted Oat Cream Ale had a score of 26. And my fruit beer that I had done as an experiment with some left-over beer scored 30. By comparison, my Serendipitous Stout last year scored 45.
The fun part about this year’s competition was that I volunteered and worked as a steward. That meant I was bringing the two judges the bottles they were judging and clearing them away when they were done. But, as a part of that I spent a bit of time standing next to them as they tasted and discussed the beer they were drinking. They each score the beer separately and fill out score sheets that go back to the brewer. They compare their final scores and if they are more than 5 points different, they discuss some more and adjust so that they are within 5 points. So, it’s kind of like coming to a consensus, but they don’t have to agree exactly.
In my brewing post in November, I had mentioned an experiment that I had done without telling you what I did. I had brewed an IPA that was supposed to be a clone of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. I haven’t done a side by side comparison, but I don’t think I did it as good as the brewery. The experiment was to try two different hops as dry hops. They were both Centennial hops, but they were grown in different areas. The first one was purchased from Bell’s General Store, so it’s the same hops that Bell’s buys. They were grown the Pacific Northwest. The other ones were from Minnesota’s Mighty Axe Hops and were grown here in the state. Mighty Axe talks about the fact that there will be differences in their hops based the terroir. Fancy French word that basically means that if you grow the same thing in different areas, it will turn out different because of soil, climate etc. If you’ve ever tried to duplicate someone’s recipe in the kitchen and been unable to get it the same because your stove is different, you’ll understand the concept.
I then did some side by side taste testing with some friends. I didn’t do it to the point where it would be a valid experiment of the type that Brulosophy.com for example would do. But it had some value for me. Before I did the taste tests, I assumed that Bell’s hops would be the winners. They pick their hops to go with that recipe. Call it the home field advantage. The results were a tie with the same amount of people preferring each brand of hops. Personally, I did two blind tests and, while I could tell there was a difference from one to the other, I ended up preferring each one once. Since Bell’s had the home field advantage, I’d count this as a win for Mighty Axe. I’ll continue to use their hops in my beer.
I bought myself a Black Friday Christmas gift. I saw a Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil unit on sale and bought it. This is an electric unit that you can use to brew with. It will allow me to brew larger batches than I could do on my stovetop and give me more control and repeatability in my processes. So, when I brew that next award-winning beer, I’ll be able to do it again. I’ve done one small test batch so far. It was a blonde ale I did with ingredients that I had left over from other batches. Should be ready to drink later this month. But I’m thinking it will be a good summer beer.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.