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December 2001


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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebrations

Sunday, December 9, 2001
A Christmas Party
Duane & Katie Dolan's

Bruce Taylor's Annual Christmas Open House

Sunday, December 16, 2001
Bruce Taylor's Condo
Starts at 2pm, Potluck dinner at 5pm.

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, November 4th, 2001

Roberta Gregory read a short biography that she has written about surrealist artist, Remedios Varo (1908-'63) and passed around a book of her paintings. Bruce Taylor read two of his short stories, "Riding the dark Horse Out" and "Lunacy Toons". Sarah Byam shared from her editorial column on the Internet in Tuppence Worth, "Managing Discontent", "It Isn't Fair, Really" and "The Other One". Bob Olson read his new essay "I Hate America (Thoughts in the Mind of a Man from Afghanistan)". Mike Munro read a chapter from his novel in progress Hexodus. Pippin Sardo prepared and served a chanterelle tart. Sarah Byam and David Ingersol, as hosts, showed some of Carl and Lida Sloan's creative slides. (The Sloan's were out of town attending the funeral of Carl's mother. Our sympathy goes out to them.)

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Other Stuff

Bruce Taylor had a story, "Bats" appear in a collection titled Vampire Crypt.

Bruce still plans for his retirement on January 31, 2002. Party details to be announced.

Bruce will have his annual Christmas Open House, Sunday, December 16th. Be prepared to trim a tree, sing Christmas carols and generally have a wonderful time!! Festivities start at 2 pm. Potluck dinner at five. Last year's Christmas party was a true memory maker.

If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: Taking the Time

In my last column, "...and so it begins...", I wrote about my fears of us going into an ever deepening war in Afghanistan. I don't know when the postman is going to rubber-glove deliver this to you, but I fear by the time you do get this newsletter, we will be in an all-out war in that emaciated and impoverished country. And we still don't get it. And you know something? We aren't going to "get it". This culture can't/will not/cannot look at its impact on the rest of the world. The unwillingness to do so is the "Business Model". The Business Model of "charge what the traffic will bear", or "maximum profitability". Seeing human beings as "consumers" is also the model of sociopathy: people are to be used for your gain. It's that simple. And it creates policies in the world that have absolutely ghastly consequences. For example, in the last editorial, the part of it that was inadvertently left out had to do with an article that appeared in the New York Times, dated 10 July 2001, titled "Chile Court Rules Against Trial for Pinochet". And I quote: "In the 17 years after the United States-supported coup General Pinochet led against Dr. Allende, an estimated 3,200 people were killed or disappeared. Tens of thousands more people were tortured or forced into exile." (Underline mine.)

But you know something? What is done is done. And guess what? It's too late. As I write this, suspension bridges on the west coast are being put on high alert for possible terrorist activity that, according to some reports, could be "nuclear" in nature.

So, for today, may I suggest this. If you haven't called a friend recently, do so. Pick up a stray cat or dog, take them to a vet, get them cleaned up and take them in as a pet. Forgive someone. Let someone forgive you. Make love to a special person. Hold hands with someone. Tell someone you love him or her. Talk to a child about her fears. Let him talk to you. Perhaps she has something to offer. Forgive someone. Forgive yourself. Have compassion for others. Have compassion for yourself. Listen to classical music. Feel your heart beating. Feel the texture of clothing on your skin. Feel yourself breathe. If you can go to a beach and look westward to the setting sun, do so. Listen to the waves and, here, in Puget Sound country, study the wonderful and snowy ruggedness of the Olympic Mountains. And for this moment, enjoy and love being alive. Because, for some of us, yes, for perhaps many, many of us, there may well be no tomorrow.

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Essay by Bob Olson:
Invisible Americans

I hurt with the catastrophe of September 11, and I hurt more with anthrax fear and recession blues. Have I ever felt this way before? Perhaps - I remember World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. Then, I recovered from my hurt with love of family, friends, community and God. However, something is really different today. American values of fair play and equal opportunity seem lost. Has this created a society of Invisible Americans?

For the past sixty years many Americans prospered. Despite the ups and downs of our economy, the tears of wars and the divisions of racial and social classes, we faced the promise of a better future. However, slowly, insidiously, our population of invisible Americans increased, while wealthy Americans and corporations prospered, some Americans lost - Americans out of the loop of prosperity, Americans alienated from their countrymen, Americans seeing no future, and often filled with hatred. Having many unemployed or minimally employed Americans helps create recession, and angry, deranged invisible Americans may present the greatest terrorist threat. Evidence regarding the anthrax murders points toward invisible Americans.

I was a teen-ager in World War II. My older cousins and friends were heroes as they went to war in Europe and the Pacific. I read comic books and treasured Captain America and Captain Marvel even more than Superman and Batman. I was so busy in the Boy Scouts collecting paper, scrap metal and writing letters to my soldier or sailor friends that I didn't have time to nurse my wounds when a friend or cousin was captured or killed. But I was hurt. Comradery in work with a purpose saved me. I was an important part of the war effort - together with my friends throughout the free world.

When America went to war against North Korea, I went to war for this free world. I was an American soldier protecting democracy in Asia. I was a peacekeeper with both a caring heart and a loaded gun. I did not see this as a contradiction, for I felt my cause was just. The Korean War ended in a compromise with democracy in South Korea.

The Vietnam War was different. America lost the war with a wounded spirit. Patriotic warriors, American servicemen and women, returned home unappreciated and not welcomed - traumatized soldiers, neglected and isolated, their psyche infected with hatred, hid in their midst.

With a slow realization, I recognize that a few of my friends seem to be losing their visibility. These friends are very talented American men and women who have the capable skills our country needs.

Glen is an effective mechanical engineer in his late forties. In fact he was so respected that his company sent him to survey their new facilities when they bought out a competitor. His report revealed all the pros and cons of this acquisition and Glen expected a promotion. Instead he was fired through downsizing as his company saved his salary and benefits. Glen, still in his forties, is considered "too old" and experienced for comparable employment. Jon was a government accountant in his early fifties. When there was a computer glitch delaying state welfare checks, he uncovered the problem. His boss, a recent hire from the Pentagon, inserted a destructive virus into the government computers for his personal benefit - only he could solve the problem he created. The boss was promoted and Jon bought out with a retirement package demanding his silence. The penalty for Jon to draw money out of his retirement IRAs, before he becomes sixty-five, is so severe that he now lives from month to month on a pittance. Like Glen, Jon's age and experience cut him out of the job market. Their employers see no value in fair play with employees.

Janice and Alice are young college graduates with impressive grades. Their capable talents should be much in demand. Sadly this is not so. The only jobs Janice can find involve part-time temporary secretarial work. Alice works in her field as a part-time computer programmer temp. Janice and Alice can hardly pay their monthly bills and cannot afford medical insurance as they face an uncertain future. They are part of a growing number of talented capable American workers that employers fail to recognize. They seem to have lost the opportunity for a future. However, Glen, Jon, Janice and Alice remain more visible, and less alienated, than the many thousands with less capability and education who define our recession.

A me first attitude started in the nineteen eighties and continues to stain our country. The policy of offering financial advantage to wealthy corporations and individuals was supposed to encourage prosperity as profits "trickled down" to everyone. Instead this policy fed the greed of a privileged few, initiating a milieu with stock benefits replacing worker security, and perverting American values.

I believe seeking economic stimulus through income tax rebates or sales tax reduction is too little too late. The employers of America need to come to our rescue. Our country is versatile. Corporations can change. Patriotic American corporations can solve our problems today when they realize our great country is composed of great American workers. I do see hope in a few directions:

I do fear terrorists, foreign born or home bred. I need to reclaim the faith I had during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where I faced the terror of destruction with a belief in God and the togetherness of all Americans. I can deal with this fear. My greatest fear today is of an America blind to the plight of my unappreciated and unseen countrymen. Without addressing this issue we may face continual terrorist threats, internally and internationally, as we remain mired in recession, unable to meet any goals of recovery.

Our country needs to see its first priority as helping Americans who are often invisible and in dire need of recognition, appreciation and EMPLOYMENT. When corporate leaders value fair play and equal opportunity with their employees, America can both overcome recession and combat terrorism as hatred dissolves and workers will buy goods from their paychecks.

As we create security on the "home front" America will once again be seen throughout the world as a bastion of security. Economic security is always the best weapon against terrorism.

I plead the case for invisible Americans. May we become a united America with none of us invisible.

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An Essay by Sarah Byam:
Managing Discontent

I have reached a new plateau, which I call Managing Discontent.

Managing discontent is not like the agony of managing depression or the terror of managing mania. It is the drudgery of managing day to day petty annoyances and small deaths of the spirit. It is the hope of wanting epiphany and glory and pushing through ones own petty reaction to small meaningless tasks which must be performed only to earn daily bread and have no true function or meaning to anyone anywhere anyway other than to satisfy ego or bureaucracy - which is often the same thing.

Managing discontent is managing the disappointment that I no longer have the body I had when I was 26 and do not have the time to try to create or sculpt a super body out of the plump, middle aged clay that I have to work with - given the goals of the rest of my life.

Managing discontent is getting up in morning and working out with weights for twenty minutes at a time because it's better than nothing and I have to start somewhere - or it will only get worse.

Managing discontent is writing 2-3 pages a day, even if aIl have to force myself to do it and hate the fact that I have to force myself because I never used to have to force myself.

Managing discontent is not wanting to spend every moment cuddled up like a cat and being irritated that I am not a cat.

It is all very petty. Very small. Very unheroic. It seems to be my next life lesson. How to have discipline in the face of this mediocrity of complaint - rather than being heroic in the face of tragedy.

Heroism was so much more rewarding.

This is like fucking oatmeal.

I hate oatmeal.

I like toast, though. Not everything has to be huge and overblown. I can appreciate the simple and the subtle, the small and the every day.

I just have to learn a whole heaping new level of patience.

And at my age, patience no longer feels like a virtue. It feels like complacency.

And I can't help but wonder about that.

But all I have the strength for is a baby step revolution. Work. Love. Work. Write. Friends. Work. Try to be a good person. Work. Try not to hate the people I work for because I want to be doing God's work, not man's and I am frustrated that, by this age, I still have to divide my time between both the petty and the important work.

But, as David says, I have work in an uncertain economy; I have love in a distanced culture; I have time to write a little and a home that I can afford for the time being in a city where nothing is affordable. I have a partner who never quits, and a business that is growing, if slowly.

What I have to manage is the petty tyranny that I cannot, like Thoreau, wander into the woods and make my own way upon that land as I would like to do. I have to make peace with an age of slavery - and I hate slavery - it has not set well with me since I was a child. I hate being employed by others. But the masters didn't invent the systems. And for slave masters, they treat me as well as they can.

So there is no tragedy for me to manage - that I would know how to shoulder. There is nagging, gnawing discontent that I must master and release in some Zen state of forgiveness of myself and those around me.

I just haven't got the discipline of it down yet.

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Advice From The Experts:

"I want to be the Minnesota Fats of Science fiction."

Frank Herbert

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A Poem by Carl Sloan


Books I've spent
a pleasant afternoon with
point me out to
younger siblings.

Every hobby I've ever had
tugs at my sleeve
thrusts a book in my face.

Unread volumes
proliferate in
closets, tables,
night stands, cars.

I'm innocent, you understand.
Brazen hussies ambush me
leap into my arms
right there in the book store;
whisper, "Take me home."

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Last updated:  December 16, 2001