This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form without prior authorization. Flovent for cats Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as lung function tests, eye exams, bone density tests, cortisol levels) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reaction(including very rare anaphylactic reaction). Advair instructions This website is funded and developed by GSK.

Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

Click below to read any post in full.’‘

Prayer Works - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hour of Prayer Today

One of my favorite passages in the Gospels is when Jesus is coming down the mountain with a few of his disciples. They have just experienced a vision of Jesus with Moses and Elias and their spirits are high. They come down to find a man begging the other disciples of Jesus to cure his young son who is possessed with evil spirits, which today we might call a serious mental illness. The disciples cannot cure the boy and turn to Jesus for help. Jesus talks with the father and then drives out the demons from the son. Afterward the disciples asked him why they could not drive out the evil spirits from the boy. Jesus responds by saying: “This spirit can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.”

Marquette University is possessed with the evil spirits of militarism. For 44 years students and others have been trying to drive out these demons each Wednesday in Lent. For the fourth year in a row we are having an hour of prayer and fasting on the campus of Marquette University. Today we had an hour of prayer in the lobby of the Marquette University Raynor Memorial Library.

Four years ago, at our first hour of prayer at the same place, security and police were called in to get us out. We were not arrested and four years latter there was not even a security guard in sight. We have gone from being annoying to the MU administration to being ignored by them. After all these years our message, although the wording has changed, stays the same: Marquette, Be Faithful to the Gospel, No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences. Today our wording of this message was: “Marquette Teaches Killing* (* Marquette University Undergraduate Bulletin -Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), p. 129–132)

The results of our hour of prayer cannot be seen right away but it was as a friend just wrote me recently “just being with others with shared concerns is a source of strength. “ Perhaps this “prayer and fasting” of our day will encourage and strength us in our attempt to dismiss the demons of military at Marquette University. We did not do much fasting in an hour but we certainly did pray. We pray that prayers works and there will be an end to Marquette teaching killing.


back to top

Learning From Nature - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“To forget how to dig the earth
and tend the soil is to forget
ourselves” M.K. Gandhi

As spring comes close, as I walk through the park each day the words of Joseph Campbell I saw in a Picture Quote come to my mind: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe to match your nature with Nature.” Digging in the earth, for example, is natural and as Gandhi says “To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”

Here are a few examples in my daily life today how I matched my nature with Nature or did not. I was walking in the park across the street today on the bike path when I came across an elderly man standing in the snow next to the path saying out loud “I guess they forgot to shovel this area.” I was listening to the book on “The End of Wall Street” on my I Phone but I heard him and at first thought it was joking. As I was walking away on the path he kept talking. I turned to look at him, now standing on the bike path and noticed in his hand a blind man’s walking cane in his hand. So I went back and asked him if he needed help on the path. He told me that he could see better than I and was living at the Badger home for the visually impaired nearby. After that he said that he kept on talking and talking. Since he was walking extremely slow, I made a move to move on. He kept talking so I decided to walk with him for awhile. I got in a few words to make sure he was talking to me not just talking to the air and found out he was talking to me. I started to listen as he went on and on about his life moving to one part to another, talking slow but seamlessly. Once and awhile I would ask him a question, like what his name was, but for the most part just listened to his life, his family, his joys and sorrows, what he liked and disliked. He talked in a very visual manner, like when he was describing a scene from a movie he had saw many years ago. I decided the natural thing to do was to give up listening to my book on “Wall Street” and just slowly walked with him and listen.

When we got around the park and back to my house I had to say goodbye. I was confident by this time he was partially blind but knew his way back to his home. We said good bye, I told him to stop by my house anytime, especially if I was working in the front gardens and thus could see him walking across the street.

Another example, when I did not do what Nature would do, was when I received an email today from a friend telling me to “slow down” implementing a decision a group we belong to had made. I responded with more of a reaction sending my email to others involved in the decision making. Nature has taught me to let this kind of remark go but I did not. My desire to answer his accusations overcame my nature to just move on and be positive.

Oh well, “Man is made to mistakes” but hopefully I can learn from mistakes and from nature.


back to top

Making Money on Peacemaking? - Monday, February 27, 2012

I got an email today from that the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking was having a talk and resource fair on “Making a Living, Making a Difference”. The keynote speakers were going to talk about how “they used their managerial experience and financial expertise to rehabilitate and permanently preserve existing affordable housing for those most affected by the housing crisis.” At the resource fair “representatives from the private and the nonprofit sectors will discuss with students the opportunities in local, national and international work that serves the public good as well as learn about internships and job opportunities.” I am not sure how this all relates to making peace but it might appeal to students who want to make money and do good, at least thinking they were doing good.

As I have pointed out before the 44 years history of resistance to military training on the Marquette campus has seen a gradual lack of participation of students in peace making. Five years ago with the creation of the MU Center for Peace Making marked the beginning of the end of students in the resistance to teaching war at Marquette. As my Ash Wednesday posted asked: Where have all the students gone. The answer might be they have gone to having careers making money on “making a difference.”

The odd thing is that St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits who founded Marquette, had just the opposite vision of what it took to “make a difference”. He prayed for the gift of taking insults, injury and being marginalized as a way for being a follower of Jesus, who suffered rejection and betrayal. Peacemaking has never been, in my view, a way of making money. If students at Marquette want to make money on the ills of other people they should go into the insurance business, where there are good profits being made on human sickness.

I was thinking about our lack of progress in 44 years of trying to resist military, ROTC, on campus when I ran across the Gandhi quote: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” It seems like we have gone backward in this sequence. Marquette used to fight us for our resistance, suspending students fighting for peace and social justice, than they laugh at us and now they ignore us, making us invisible.

We plan to start the fourth year of Praying for Peace on Wednesday in Lent from 4–5pm. Our first prayer vigil will this Wednesday, Feb. 29th, from 4–5 pm in the lobby of the Marquette Raynor Memorial library. They used to threaten us with arrest and recently just ignor us. We will see, praying for peace may be ‘dangerous’ again. Praying for Peace, even though it is illegal to do so on Marquette campus makes more sense for peacemaking than making money on peacemaking.


back to top

Being Old! - Sunday, February 26, 2012

Carolee, my granddaughter
being silly when she was three

Did you ever notice that the older you get the older your friends get and the less old friends you have? Today after the liturgy at Church a parishioner paid me a great compliment by saying I looked like an enthused six year in church when I made an announcement. Someone over hearing the compliment wondered if I had been insulted by being compared to a six year old. I explained that it was not an insult but in fact my goal in life was to be like a three year old. I got the same look of amazement from her as I get from a three year old when, after they give me their age, ‘three’, and I reply I am ‘free’.

This afternoon I went to the 80th birthday party for a friend. It was good to see old friends, many of them older than my 69 years. Getting older is okay if we can keep your spirits getting younger. It is okay if we are able to simplify life like a three year old who cannot distinguish ‘three’ from ‘free’.

It is difficult to see an older person, like my deceased Dad or like my friend’s, Tom, mother who suffer from Alzheimer brain disease. By our standards persons without much of memory, are helpless and useless, people to pity. By from the persons’ viewpoint of one with Alzheimer ‘all is well’ if they can accept living in the present moment. If they try to recall the past life can frustrated. Tom’s mother lives in the present and although she does or communicate well I can always maker her smile when I play the “tickle, tickles’ game with her, as I would with a three year old.

With age comes the responsibility of being an elder but the wonderment of being a child.


back to top

Made In China Vs. Made In China - Saturday, February 25, 2012

There are many reasons for why I try not to purchase stuff “Made In China”. One of them is the inferior quality of products “Made In China”. As one of my friends, who is a fan of “Made in China” and Wal-Mart where most of the products are “Made in China”, has told me the products measurements are not exact and they do not always work or fit right. However, he justifies buying these products because they are cheap and if they break down one can purchase another one for a fraction of the cost of one “Made In the USA.”

In the grocery store I can usually avoid purchasing food and drink “Made in China” although it means I do not purchase much fish in supermarkets. I try to support businesses that make effort to sell products “Made in the USA.”

The local home improvement store has been advertising on T.V. some products “Made In the USA.” When my wife was looking for some cellular shades for the bedroom windows she was finding that quality ones were very expensive. Being in the building improvement store for another reason I decided to take a look at the cellular shades. I found some that were what she was looking for but very inexpensive. I did notice the “Made in China” on the label but over looked it in my enthusiasm at finding a good deal. My wife went to look at them, she approved of the purchase and a friend, a handyman by trait, came over to install them. When he was finishing he called us into the bedroom to explain how cheaply the shades were made, one was a little off center, how he had to use his own screws since the ones provided were cheaply made and how the instructions were unusable. We were familiar with the inferior quality of products “Made in China” so were okay with the new shades since they worked and looked okay.

Last summer the same handyman friend put up some motion lights I had purchased at the same local home improvement store. We could never get them to work right, despite a number of adjustments via the instructions. The one on the garage was so erratic and bothering our neighbors we had to disconnect it. The two in the back by our two bedroom windows were not as erratic but we were not able to adjust them to properly work. I had decided to wait till next spring to try again to adjust them when my wife suggested today that we shut them off since with the new shades they are more noticeable at night when they come on and off. I remember my handyman friend saying how the motion lights were poor quality when he installed them but not till today did I look on the box they came in to find they were also “Made In China.” The drapes are cheap but workable but the motion lights need to be replaced.

So what lessons did I learn from this experience? First, I was reaffirmed to avoid buying a product “Made in China” and if by weakness or mistake I do, to make sure they are shades not motion lights.


back to top

We are the Drum - Friday, February 24, 2012

This morning a friend, a former clergy person, and I went to the library at St. Francis Seminary of the Archdiocese to do some research for an essay I am writing about the presence of the Catholic Church in what I call the central north side of Milwaukee. According to the 2010 Census this area is the most segregated area in the most segregated city in the USA and the poorest area in the fourth poorest city in the USA. In 1962 there were 20 Catholic Churches in the area and now there are three. The last Catholic Church to close in this area was in 2011, the one we belonged to. This is the same area where the civil rights marches for open housing began in the 60’s at what was the oldest Catholic Church in the area dating back to 1888.

This afternoon my wife and I made home visits for our St. Vincent De Paul Conference to people in need in this very same area. We visited with people with no appliances, no beds for the children, who needed food and clothing or furniture in the home. We gave them vouchers for some basic items and their gratitude filled our hearts with warmth. The home visits were experience of the poverty and segregation I had researched in the morning.

From the sadness and experiences of what happened to this area tonight we attended a performance of We are the Drum at a high school in this north central area. The performance, which I encourage everyone to see, was outstanding. Each year the performance of song and dance starts in Africa where the beat of the drum was central to the people. As they become slaves and taken to USA the drum is taken from them but the beat of the drum lived on inside the people. The focus this year was the beat of the drum of Wisconsin Movement, highlighted by the 200 nights of marches for open housing in 1967–1968. The discipline of dancing and the sound of the voices of the youth demonstrated the results of hard work and gave hope to all of us that there is something deeply spiritual and beautiful in the people of this area that will rise up once more.

The people and the area have been abandoned by the Catholic Church and, stuck in poverty and segregation, yet the beat of the drum lives on. They truly say: We are the Drum.


back to top

Swing Back to 1968 - Thursday, February 23, 2012

Like Ashes Blowing in the Wind

Today I went to update the 40 Year History of Nonviolent Resistance to Military at Marquette with pictures from our Ash Wensday action yesterday. Actually it is 44 years since we have not recorded our actions the last four years.

I did this to share the pictures but then thought I should update the last four years. The question became why. I am not sure but somehow recording history seems significant and teaches us something. For example, looking back at the first four years 1968-1971 of resistance you notice hundreds of students protesting ROTC at Marquette. Now we ask Where have all the students gone?. The answer, my friend, may lie in the years in between.

Often major life changes in society happen slowly and gradually when we are living the experience. It is only when we take the historical view and look back that we can see the changes. The militarization of Marquette has been significant but gradual. At the same time student culture has changed from changing society to being a part of it. Some say the pendulum is swinging back and that 2012 will be like 1968, the year TIME magazine said changed the world.

What do you think? Is this the year we start to swing back the pendulum to 1968 and change the world?


back to top

Where Have All the Students Gone? - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A student sneaks a look at our banner

For forty three or more years there have been protest about military training on campus. In the late sixties and seventies it was large crowds of students leading the resistance to To Teaching War on the campus of this Catholic Jesuit University. However, over the next thirty years, after the selective service draft system ended and when our education system was more and more militarized, the number of students resisting the military campus has dwindled. It is to where there was none with us today as we stood in from the main Church on campus, Gesu, giving out ashes and asking Marquette to repent and stop “Teaching Killing*”

There were plenty of students around going to class or leaving Church with their fresh ashes on their foreheads. But for the most part we were invisible; they just marched by us, sometimes sneaking a glance at us or our sign. Today is the anniversary of the beheading of “White Rose Community” students for passing out flyers, breaking the silence of the war going on? We passed out flyers today asking Marquette to repent and stop teaching war and killing and we were ignored.

How times have changed since the sixties and seventies where student protest for civil rights or against the war were dominated by students not afraid to speak out and risk arrest. I believe today’s students are good people but have been “trained to not get involved”, “stay away from conflict.” They have been trained to be so hard of heart and desensitized to violence and killing those outrageous but true banners like “Marquette Teaches Killing”. “1.5 million dead in the Middle East” and “20, 000 plus American soldiers dead” since 9/11 (15, 000 plus from suicides) does not phase them or at least bother them.

When a few persons raised an objection or praised our presence I was grateful for the response. However, the haunting image of students just walking by stays with me. I was glad to hear tonight from a former Marquette student who used to stand with us in resistance. Where have all the students gone?


back to top

Early Robin Returns - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Early Robin Returns

Yesterday I was walking into the dining room when I spotted through the window my first robin of the year. Surprised to see a robin in February I was excited and instead of going for my quality digital camera I used my phone to snap a picture through the window. (Explanation for poor quality?)

Is this the Thank You Robin or the one I spoke about in She is Back. Both of these postings were written in July 2009 so the chances are that this is not the same robin.
But one thing all robins have in common is a taste for worms. Worms are something we have plenty in the worm depository and gardens around the house. So it is naturally that with this warm weather this is one of the first places for a robin to check out in spring.

However, it is not spring yet so I was surprised. But as they say the “early bird gets the worm.” I was glad to see the robin since I long for an early spring and chance to work in the garden. I planted some lettuce and kale seeds in the sun room Growing Power box now that my very small heater and window inserts can keep the room around the 50’s. In March, soon, I will start planting seeds for annual plants for outside.

Not having a very cold winter has affected some of us with health issues as the allergic items around really never froze. Pat and I seem to walking around all winter with somewhat of a cough. But that is okay. I will take the lack of freezing cold and a cough any day in return for an early spring.

My thoughts turn to the tap tap garden we visited in Haiti for the farms in India during the Pilgrimage of Peace like the one at Navdanya. In these climates one can grow all year around but the poverty of the country makes one think twice about being there. My niece from Sierra Leone told me that before the civil war in the country the markets were full of food. The land is rich and everyone had land to grow. However, after the bitter and devastating war over diamonds in this country the richness of the land has not been fully restored. In my mind, thus, good earth to grow all year around is associated with poverty.

Peter Maurin the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement that building rural communities of scholars, laborers, artist and farmers was the way to go. Actually Gandhi believed in and created such communities. With the lack and expense of rural land it looks like this will not happen. However, with vacant land becoming abundant in the urban environment the urban growing movement flourishing maybe the reverse will happen: scholars, labors, artist and farmers will come together to form urban communities.

With indoor garden methods being developed we can build urban farms in the city that are all year around. The robin will return each spring to the city but the growing will go on all year around.


back to top

We Are the Enemy - Monday, February 20, 2012

Each day I get a Picture Quote from the Gandhi Research Foundation in Mumbai, India, . Most of the quotes and some of the pictures are meaningful. Today’s picture was not great but the quote was right on to reflections and struggles in my daily life now. The Gandhi quote today was: “No man could look upon another as his enemy unless he first became his own enemy.” (Mahatma, Vol. 7, p. 204)

In America today we are trained, I believe, to look on everyone as an enemy or friend or both. There are some obvious enemies like those we call “terrorist” today and times before “communist”. There are some clear friends, like people who think like we think and are like us in concerns, be it for a new car or a ‘cause.’

We cannot talk with our ‘enemies’ and if our friends betray us they become our enemies. Sometimes are enemies are just in our head. I have many a person, including myself that create enemies in their mind at times. Betrayal of a friend is hard to take and normally ends in end of friendship. Reconciliation seems to be a virtue of the past for many.

The quote also relates well to the one I used in a posting a few days ago by Rumi, the Persian poet: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” We must set up a barrier, becoming our own enemy, before we can look upon another as our enemy.

How often do we find ourselves or others thinking that something that is said is about us. I had two friends point this barrier out to me today. This attitude of taking everything personally, a stare or casual word, as being about us is taught in America. I find it sad that even children are trained to think this way. A cute child dressed in some funny clothes can run in a room of adults and the adults laugh. A child trained to believe the adults are laughing at the child will cry. Most of us want to have people think good of us and to please people even if it means compromising our values and beliefs. This aiming to please is rampart in America.

Tonight on TV I heard a now popular comedian say that when he threw away his standard jokes and just spoke bluntly and honestly he became famous. When he “just did not care anymore” what people thought of him he was refreshingly funny?

Going back to Gandhi’s thought when we look upon ourselves with love and respect we find it difficult to find enemies. I guess Pogo had it right when he said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”


back to top

Too Many Words - Sunday, February 19, 2012

I have been lovely accused of presenting TMI, Too Much Information. Actually in my case it is TMW, Too Many Words. With me this is especially true with spoken words and emails. Confusion with too many words with the spoken word can be corrected with some personal discussion and clarification. Confusion by too many words in email is hard to clear up. Emails, without the spoken word are easy to misunderstand and clarifying emails with more words only leads to more confusion.

Being a TMW person in emails I tried to clarify past misunderstandings by personal conversations. However, some people these days, do not want to talk, just write more emails or ignore you. I find engaging in an ‘email war of words’ as some call it, is fruitless. But when I tried to talk with persons personally they refuse.

Interesting enough I do not have this problem of communication on this web site with postings. That might be because they are personal reflections like the Diary of the Worm or researched articles like the The Militarization of Catholic Jesuit University. Those who read the reflections or research project like it or ignore it. Part of this might be that I try to tell my store via pictures that are worth a “thousand words’.

In the 60’s, before the days of email, when people spoke by word or action something controversial, like the Civil Right open housing marches from the north side to south side or the Milwaukee 14 burning of draft records, people responded by loving or hating the words and action. We were stoned crossing the 16th street viaduct in the open housing marches or praised and honored. The same goes for the Milwaukee 14 action in 1968. Now we can stand in the Lobby of the Library with a banner saying: “Marquette Teaches Killing*” and be ignored by the majority of students and faculty. There is not much loving or hating these days, just ignoring.

I remember my poor mother being caught in the middle of these love/hate situations after my participation in the Milwaukee 14 action. She loved me, her son, but was embarrassed by me and even hated going to the grocery store where she would hear disparaging remarks about the Milwaukee 14.

The lesson I learned from being a TMW person is to cut back in spoken word and especially in email communications and other forms of internet social networking. Most of our nonviolent actions at Marquette are done in silence these days. The signs and flyers give our message and if people want to talk we are open.

Words, and especially too many words, can never convince a person who does not want to hear the message. In fact they often harden the hard of heart. Pictures and silent actions are better ways to communicate than too many words.


back to top

Barriers to Love - Saturday, February 18, 2012

Last night I posted a saying from Rumi, the Persian poet: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I have been thinking about this saying today and it reminds me of something I believed in for a long time. I believe at heart and soul we are all loveable creatures. However, we cover our heart and soul with so much stuff that we cannot feel it and others cannot see it in our words and actions. Rumi calls them barriers we have built in ourselves.

At the heart of being truly ourselves and eliminating the barriers we need to be more and do less. The deeper we explore our inner selves the more we will discover the love at the heart of our being. Taking away the barriers will allow our love to shine.

St. Ignatius of Loyola says we need to seek God in all things. Just like seeking love maybe our task is “to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against” God.

How do we seek to take down the barriers in ourselves to Love and God? Something to think about this season of Lent!


back to top

Removing the Barriers to Love Within - Friday, February 17, 2012

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all
the barriers within yourself that
you have built against it.”

I used to call the dark feeling inside me the shadow of death, but now I prefer to call it the Long Loneliness that dwells deep in all of us. We need friends and community but at the end we are alone. Dying and seeing the face of God might just mean the disappearance of this long loneliness as we rise to see the face of God. I do not know and it is in this not knowing, this nothingness where the Long Loneliness dwells.

The attraction of the modern communications, cell phones, internet and TV for me is not Facebook, games, tweet sports or entertainment. The attraction of the internet is that in keeps me in touch with persons of like spirit. I can communicate with Catholic Workers in Vermont or Holland that have touched my life. I can get a call no matter where I am at from a friend in Milwaukee or Kentucky that just wants to talk. I can find news and information, most too much information, about world and human events on TV or via Internet that I would have never known about that helps me understand we are all one, brother and sisters.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said something to the effect that the busier he was the more he needed to take time for prayer and reflection. I believe these words of wisdom although do not always practice it.

The Long Loneliness puts me in solidarity with so many persons, family, friends and people all over the world I know or do not know.

Dorothy Day in her autobiography called The Long Loneliness gives us the only way out of this Long Loneliness “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

In a word picture sent to me today there is a quote from Rumi, a 13th-century Persian Muslim, poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. He says: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

So putting together advice from King, Day and Rumi on the Long Loneliness we need to take time in our busy life to reflect and learn to love all that is around us by removing the barriers to love within us.


back to top

Balance Not Stress - Thursday, February 16, 2012

Watching TV by Peter Graf

One of my friends was admiring how I can balance doing a number of jobs at time and not feeling stress. Actually it is skill I have worked on for years and am still working on. Thinking about how to be busy but peaceful I came across some ideas I try to practice.

1. It is important to have priorities for activities, especially in this age where there are so many choices of what to do, watch TV shows, surf on the computer, listen to talks, read books and magazines, eat food and on and on. Knowing what is important and meaningful to us helps one make choices.
2. Awareness of the present moment is valuable. Often what we are looking for is in the present moment but we are looking so hard we miss it.
3. Seeing the bigger picture of our life gives us the perspective we need to have balance in our life. On a warm and clear summer night outside the city we can see the millions of stars in the sky. Doing this we realize we are just a spec in the universe helps us keep our perspective. On the other hand, if one is spiritual we realize that God loves each of us in an infinite way. That also helps us to keep perspective.
4.Earl Nightingale, a motivation speaker, used to say: “You become what you think.” Although I do not believe it is that simple I do believe that awareness in our mind, thinking, does affect our behavior.

5. Anthony De Mello, a spiritual writer, talks a lot about the value of Silence. This type of silence is not so much a lack of noise but an inward silence, a clearing of the mind. It is a silence that needs practice. It is a silence that helps to focus on what we are doing.

I am not violating my own rules right now. I am getting distracted by a guest on the Charlie Rose TV show. I can have music or sports events on the TV in the background and still write but not interesting guest on a talk show. I am losing my balance so I am shutting of the TV show which is ending and completing this posting. Balance is necessary to do many things without stress. So it is time to go.


back to top

Pieces: In My Own Voice - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tonight Pat and I with our friend Joe went to see the NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) production of “Pieces, In My Own Voice” at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. It is a thought-provoking theatrical production depicting the lives of people living with mental health diagnoses. Through the voice of persons with mental illnesses like Bi Polar, Schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) you hear how they are all persons made up of many pieces and just one piece is a brain disorder. Their mental illness does Not define who they are. They all say if I had cancer you would not call me cancerous and since they have a mental illness do not call them mentally ill or by their disease. They all end the dialog that gives you an insight into their disease by saying, except for their mental disorder they were just like us in the audience.

Although the production had a universal aspect it was oriented somewhat toward the African American community where persons with mental illnesses suffered the most from stigma. The production takes you through the darkness of stigma as well as the light of recovery.

Having struggle with mental illnesses with my mother, my deceased son Peter, my brother and with myself I knew much of what was being expressed on stage. Yet the honesty of the characters and the repetitive lines “I am not my illness” and “I was just like you” got to me. I did not cry, as some in the audience did, but knew that although I have experienced ‘stigma’ to my friends, family and self there was still hope: the pieces were all there and we just need to express them in our own voice and hope that persons can listen and accept us as who we are.


back to top

The World Is Upside Down - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Below is an ‘easy essay’ which I felt compelled to write today. You probably could add to this list. If you want to just write me at . In this upside down world I had to discontinue the comment box due to continual attacks by a Spam Robot.

The World is Upside Down

A Catholic Jesuit University in the city teaches war and killing,
While a pubic State University in the same city does not, and sends its students to the Catholic Jesuit University for military training.

A young man shoplifts and goes to jail
A banker steals millions and does not go to jail.

The Governor of Wisconsin raises taxes on the poor
And cut taxes on the wealthy.

The USA has sanctions on a Middle East Country that has the potential for building a nuclear weapon,
And the USA gives over 3 billion dollars a year of military aide to another Middle East country with a nuclear weapon.

The USA has the most expensive health care system in the world,
And one of the least effective.

Old and young, man and woman, black and white can play golf at the park across the street.
Young male adults cannot play basketball on the full court at the park.

Liberals claim we have a bottom up society yet they try to affect the top leaders.
Conservatives claim we have a bottom up society yet they try to affect the top leaders.

We are made to believe that our vote counts
While in elections the person with the most money wins 95% of the time.

A soldier is trained to kill on instinct which violates nature and conscience,
And we wonder why so many come back from war with serious mental illnesses.

Members of the Catholic Church call themselves people of God
Yet the hierarchy decides what we should do and not do.

The hierarchical Catholic Church and the military have two things in common
They are both top down organizations and both have major sex scandals.

Insurance, Drug and Health companies make major profit on illnesses,
While the cost of health care spirals up and more and more persons go without health care.


back to top

We Protest Too Much - Monday, February 13, 2012

I think we protest too much” can be said about our generation. We protest over wars, environment, and the greed of banks, civil right violations and on and on. You can almost find a protest or a talk about an issue to protest every day of the week. We protest by email, phone calls and with signs and on street corners.

In the sixties we also protested. At the time it was mostly about two issues, civil rights and the war in Vietnam. However, we not only protested but took direct action, risking our health or imprisonment.

I remember when I got out of the State maximum security prison in 1970 for the Milwaukee 14 action, the destruction of selective service 1A files. After being behind bars and meeting some men, mostly poor and African American, who were good persons that were in bad situations and made some bad decision I just could not protest any longer. It was not that I was against protesting the war but I just felt I had to do something more basic, tangible and concert, especially for youth that were moving in the direction of the revolving door of prison.

I was not upset or offended by protest but just could not participate in a protest. Eventually I got over this feeling and started to attend some protest. Some could say what we call nonviolent actions against Marquette University teaching war is really just a ‘protest’. They would be correct. There is not much interest these days, except for a small group, for nonviolent direct actions of civil disobedience. Also there is much these days to protest about. The ‘power that be’, unspeakable powers’ or the ‘military/industrial/educational complex’ keeps us on the defensive by throwing more and more at us which we can protest. There are so many issues to protest and so many groups protesting them that it seems like we can never work together and focus on one or two issues at a time like the 60’s and go on the offensive.

I think we protest too much and it is time to take a deep breath, work together, take direct action and connect our issues.


back to top

Stigma To Science - Sunday, February 12, 2012

“unwanted final” by Peter Graf

How low can you go often is how low can I go? Low can mean depression or poverty or illness or two or three of these low states. One can be low with hope or one can be low without hope. Hope can be faith that things will get better and all will be well. Without hope there is not much meaning in life and one can choose to stay busy and ignore meaning or feel like ending life.

There is an editorial column in today’s newspaper with the story of a young black man who committed suicide. It talks about how because of the stigma of mental illnesses or suicide there is not much talk about it in the African American community. This comes at a time when “suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- 34 old year old black men and when suicide has increased 233% for black men, 15–24 years old in the last 15 years. Startling but sadly these numbers are not surprising. The columnist asked the question: “Why are some people embarrassed to talk about a loved one with a mental illness, but they are not ashamed to wear a T-shirt with the picture of someone who was murdered?”

Suicide happens, as I sadly know from my son’s death, when someone feels there is no more hope and one accepts it. The Stigma that stains the soul is overwhelming and there is no reason to live.

I believe the only way to move from the stigma of mental illness to hope for mental wellness is to deeply understand that mental illnesses is just another illness like cancer or heart trouble. I have hope that the developing field of neuroscience will help us understand how mental illness is an illness of the brain and thus remove much of the stigma from it. Without the stigma of mental illnesses suicides would decrease because the hope of treatment, as with cancer, can keep people alive. We need to move from stigma to science.


back to top

Next To Perfect - Saturday, February 11, 2012

Surroundings by Peter Graf

When we moved into our present house in 2003 we right away noticed a water leak in the basement. On further inspection by a repairman we discovered that the bath tub and the plastic surround had been incorrectly installed and thus the leak in the basement. We were faced with a choice of doing a patch up job or taking everything apart and putting the surround of the tub in correctly. We chose the quick and least expensive fix and with the use of plenty of caulk stopped the leak.

Now nine years later the inexpensive repair job failed. So now we were faced with a similar choice. However, our repair friend now is an excellent but seeks perfection in his work. So the choice now is to do a next to perfect repair job or take the surround of the tub down and finally do it right. We chose to take the next to perfect repair job. We will see how it works.

Being next to perfect was not easy for my friend who is doing the repair. He likes to do the job right and perfect as it can be. However, he is willing to live with next to perfect.

This experience reminded me of the rock musical “Next to Normal” about a family with a mother with a mental illness. In recovery she tells her daughter that she will be never be normal. Her daughter says ‘Next to Normal’ would be okay.

In life we strive for perfection but need to accept next to perfection. With our mental health we seek to be ‘normal’, whatever that is, but need to accept ‘next to normal’. As long as we do the ‘right thing’ ‘next to perfect ’ is okay with me.


back to top

Where did Common Sense Go? - Friday, February 10, 2012

I think that ‘Common Sense’ has abandoned our governments. One example was announced yesterday when five major multi-billion dollar banks reached an agreement with 49 States to compensate people who lost houses during the foreclosure caused by the banks and other mortgage businesses. It was a good deal for the banks who the government saved from failing and who now are back to raking in billions of dollars of profits. Critics of the agreement say the deal was small change to pay for the profits they are making on consumers. Supporters of the deal say it will provide some small relief for the many who suffer lost of homes or are facing foreclosure now.

That was yesterday. Today the Governor announced that a good portion of the money to Wisconsin will not go to victims of the housing crisis but to the State to help balance the budget from an unexpected deficit. The deficit is due to lack of taxes collected.

Now about a year ago the Governor with the legislators gave major tax breaks to rich and big businesses. Although they raised some taxes on the poor, it was not nearly enough to cover the tax breaks. So now he are taking money that should go to the poor, working and middle class that suffered the most in the housing crisis and giving it to the State who will be using it to balance the money lost with the tax cuts for rich. This might be called ‘social engineering’ but certainly it is not Common Sense.

Democrats and Republican are responsible for the same lack of common sense. The new health system, like the old health system, is still based on what is profitable for health and insurances business not on the health of the nation.

Examples of lack of Common Sense abound. Sometimes we hear and see so much that makes no Common Sense we start to believe it. Where did Common Sense go?


back to top

Marquette Teaches Killing - Thursday, February 09, 2012

Marquette ROTC Student

Tonight some of us of Breaking the Silence had a nice dinner and then gathered to discuss our upcoming event at Marquette University on Ash Wednesday. For six years we have been activity trying to get Marquette to Be Faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences to no noticeable effect.

We had a new member tonight and were going around and around brainstorming on a simple sentence to describe our message which is for Marquette to stop teaching killing in what is popularly called ROTC or officially the Department of Military Sciences. Should we call it ROTC, School of Army, Department of Military Science, this teaching of war and how to kill persons? Suddenly someone said we should just say MARQUETTE TEACHES KILLING*. The asterisk would refer to, in small print, a page number in the course catalog that list classes for the courses in Military Science and Leadership, (MILS).

If someone challenges us to the fact that Marquette Teaches Killing we can point to the military’s own documents that clearly state it teaches ‘reflexive killing’, killing without conscience. The ashes of Ash Wednesday represent the ashes of all the American, Iraqi, Afghans, Pakistanis that have died as result of teaching killing at Marquette, a Catholic Jesuit University, and other colleges and universities that host departments of military sciences. As a friend, a graduate of West Point, with a son in the Army now, told us the whole point of military training is to teach how to kill more effectively. In wars today the Army has found it can be more effective in killing by training soldiers how to kill without thinking: the percent of soldiers firing weapons to kill the ‘enemy’ as gone up from 25% in World War II to 95% in the present wars by training how to kill reflexively.

So yes, Marquette Teaches Killing is the simple and honest way to say our message. With ashes, pictures of children killed in present wars and other signs hopefully we can communicate our message: Marquette Teaches Killing.


back to top

Nature, Teacher of Living Life - Wednesday, February 08, 2012

There is a time to plant seeds to grow food and with the mild winter and sunny days the time comes early this year. The planting for now will be inside the insulted but mostly unheated sun room. Cold weather greens, like lettuce and kale, will be planted first and hopefully will be ready to eat by spring. Then in a month or so comes the time to plant seeds to grow for planting outside.

Outside it is time to add to composite pile, to place boards around the raised garden in the backyard, clean the gardens, and prepare the worm box, purchased seeds and other items necessary for spring planting.

Talking about garden in February seems strange but gardeners, as farmers, need to take what nature gives to them.

I was talking with a friend today who was having trouble with accepting the cards that life had given him. In his regrets I saw myself, often wanting something else for myself and thus not appreciating fully what I have. As we talked we both agreed that taking what life offers you and making the best of it was the only way to fully live.

We both suffer from what I call the “Long Loneliness” as Dorothy Day called it. But even the feeling of being lonely and not fitting in can be a blessing. It can become like the dark soil a seed is planted in. With the nourishment of water and light the seed in good soil will grow. Our loneliness and shadow of death can be like the soil in which we plant our seeds of life. If we seek water and light we can grow breaking through the darkness in grow into the light.

Once more, if we can see and hear, Nature teaches us about living life.


back to top

Changing Our Bellicoise World - Tuesday, February 07, 2012

U.S. Special Ops Troops

In an email about a meeting I received this morning I learned a new word ‘bellicose’. It was used to describe Iran and another person responded to the email using “bellicose” to describe the USA. When I heard the word “bellicose” applied to Iran and USA I had to look up the word. The definition I found is “ready or inclined to quarrel, fight, or go to war.” I am not sure if this word applies to Iran but it certainly applies to the USA, especially in the Middle East. As we rattle our weapons over Syria and Iran I am reminded of the devastating civil wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan the USA and its allies have supported and encouraged. These wars killed hundreds and thousands of people and left so many injured and as refugees. They have also cost us so many dead and wounded soldiers and so much money. Yes “bellicose” is a good word to describe the USA.

The person that introduced me to the word ‘bellicose’ was announcing a meeting this week of an organization devoted to strengthening the United Nationalism. I responded to her that this was all and good but until we had a change in the bellicose USA there would never be an effective United Nationalism.

I was reminded of a picture quote that I had recently received from a group in India supporting the way of doing things of Mahatma Gandhi. “It is impossible for one to be internationalist without being a nationalist. Internationalism is possible only when nationalism becomes a fact, i.e., when peoples belonging to different countries have organized themselves and are able to act as one man. It is not nationalism that is evil, it is the narrowness, selfishness, exclusiveness which is the bane of modern nations which is evil. Each wants to profit at the expense of, and rise on the ruin of, the other.” (YI, 18–6−1925, p. 211)

Using another principle of Gandhi, Swadeshi, the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign, I responded to my UN friend that we must first change the conditions and bellicose United States before we can take on a world organization like the UN. She did not like hearing this but as with all major change or revolution of an individual or a nation change starts at home. Changing our bellicose world starts at home.


back to top

Search for Truth - Monday, February 06, 2012

“Every child is born with an innate
search for truth.”

Tonight I sent an email to a Marquette University Student who wrote a lead article in the Marquette Tribune that gave the impression that Governor Walker was getting great grassroots support in his raising of 12 million dollars to fight the recall effort that over a million Wisconsin residents have called for. “The story reads “77% of donations were 50 dollars or less” as the student stated in a quick response to my email. True enough, but as I pointed out, even if the average donation was $40 and they all were from in State individuals what about the 11 million plus not accounted for? It has been widely report that Governor Walker is receiving large sums of money from out of State individuals. For example, one day recently the Governor raised a million dollars from 4 individuals in Texas and Missouri. The news editor make the misrepresentation more acute by using the headline: “Walker rakes in grassroots funds.”

This is a good example of how you can state facts and information and completely misrepresent the ‘truth’. ‘Truth’ might be a matter of opinion but this game of ‘misrepresentation’ that is so prevalent in today’s political environment does not belong in good journalism. Hopefully the student and editors of the Tribune can learn something from my letter. Maybe so or maybe not.

My experience has been recently that the “search for the truth” has not been honored by media or civil discourse. In fact there is little civil discourse. When people hear something they do not want to hear they seem to react to a person or ignore the message or both. When the Marquette Administration does this to us who have stated the message that “Marquette teaches war and killing without conscience” how can we expect students to respect the search for truth?

When I was a youth minister and an educator I learned that often students learn more from the structure of an institution and what leaders do more than anything that is told them.

I admire the author of this piece for quickly responding to my letter. Although I do not agree with the justification the reporter makes for the article, I am hopeful that a response, not a reaction or ignoring my message, is a hopeful sign that the search for the truth is still alive. As Albert Einstein stated, “The search for truth is more precious than its possession.”


back to top

Cows of Peace - Sunday, February 05, 2012

Cows of Peace

Pat and I went up north to our son’s family home last night to find our three grandchildren, Graf Kids watching a reality TV show called “Storage Wars.” A group of characters bid on locked abandoned storage lockers and compete to make money on the contents they bid on. I was not too interested so went into another room to write my Diary of Worm posting last night. My wife stayed with the grandchildren and the next show on was called “Shipping Wars” where various people bid on trucking jobs and compete to see who can make the most money on the jobs. The use of the word ‘War’ on reality TV shows was, however, of interest to me so I decided to do a quick search for TV reality shows with the word ‘war’ or ‘wars’ in the title. With just a simple search I found other TV reality shows called ‘Weed Wars’, ‘Dance War’, ‘Parking Wars’, ‘Drug War’, ‘Scrap Wars’. I am sure there are more. I guess the country ‘endless wars’ stretches out beyond the battlefields into Reality TV.

This morning before going to church I went outside to find the young cows in the heifer barn across the street strolling in the field in front of their barn. It was a peaceful sight.

We went up to my son’s house to celebrate with him after Church his birthday which is tomorrow. Realizing he will be forty two tomorrow I thought back to where I was forty two years ago. I was in the State’s maximum security prison in Waupun for the Milwaukee 14 resistance to the war in Vietnam.

After Church we went out to a brunch to celebrate my son’s birthday and then came back to their house for some delicious birthday cake my daughter-in-law had made. After cake my grandchildren went back to the TV but this time to play a WII electronic game were they get to play members of the band. One grandson played the electric guitar, the other drums and my young granddaughter was the singer for the band. I admit this was a step up from the reality ‘war’ TV shows but it was noisy. When my son had to go to work I decided to take a walk outside to check out the gardens and the dairy farm across the street. So while my grandchildren were playing loud rock music on TV I was talking with the dairy farmer across the street about his new system of using cow manure for fertilizer, about heifers, making compost and such.

When I got to the house the grandchildren were still singing and playing loud music on the WII game. That was okay since my wife and I had decided to leave around three so we could get home in time for the kickoff of the Super Bowl. The game was a battle but there was no mention of war at all, Thank God.

Thinking back on today I guess my heart was with the peaceful young cows and not with the reality ‘war’ game shows on TV.


back to top

Profits from Illnesses - Saturday, February 04, 2012

My son David will be 42 in a few days. This fact reminds me of my age, 69, although I do not feel older. I have friends alive and deceased older that I have friends alive and deceased younger than I am. If one stays healthy one feels and acts younger. However, the health care of Americans, although the most expensive in the world, is on the decline. Studies show that the average longevity of life in the US is on the decline for the first time in our history. Combine this with the increased rate of obesity in the USA, the high infant mortality rate of children five or younger, the growing number of persons without health insurance and the multiplication of illnesses in the USA, it is clear that our health care system is severely broken. Politicians argue over recent health care reforms but the truth is the health of American citizens is on the decline. The decline of health in America hits the poor and near poor the hardest. Thinking of my low income friends most of them have illnesses and do not have the means to treat them.

There is a new book out by Dr. David Agus called the The End of Illness that challenges the bases of our health care system in the USA. In the book Dr. Agus argues for the adoption of a systemic view—a way of honoring our bodies as complex, whole systems. This outlook informs how we can avoid all illnesses and he shows us exactly how to do that so that we can individually create a plan for wellness. For example, he talks about how the length of fingers or whether you wear high heels or not can be important clues of your risk of serious illnesses.

The USA health care industry makes profits on persons being ill. I doubt if there will be serious consideration of how to end illness in this health care environment.

During the last presidential campaign Senator Obama was asked by young woman in a town hall meeting if he thought profits should be made from illnesses. He went around and around avoiding the answer but finally gave a weak no, great profits should not be made off of sick persons. However, when it came to writing a new health care bill, he, now the president, let the health care industry write the bill insuring that it would be a capitalistic profit making system.

Some people,like the early Christian Church disliked usury, making money from money. However, the wealthy make the most money not from their work but from their money. Nowadays most people accept usury but making money, big profits, from ill people seems to be unacceptable. The basic right to life, good health, should not be something for the rich. There should be no making immense profits from illnesses.


back to top

Seeing What May Be - Friday, February 03, 2012

Blowin in the Wind by Gretchen Kelly

While yesterday the most famous of groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow, meaning 6 more weeks of winter, the many other Groundhog weather prognosticators, Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, WI, Pierre C Shaddeauz from New Iberia, La, Buckeye Church from Marion Ohio, Woodstock Wille from Woodstock, Ill and a host of others did not see their shadow and thus it means we will have an early spring. This is the time it is easy and fun to go with the overwhelming majority. Also the proof is in the pudding; warm spring weather continues and predicated to stay till spring. Phil, being famous does not mean he is right.

With spring on its way it is time to start getting ready, inside and outside, to plant; time to clean and to prepare the soil. For farmers and people who grow there is no need for groundhogs to tell them the weather. They can read the weather by themselves, although they cannot control it.

As Bob Dylan sings, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” In all of life we need to read the times to know where we are going. To borrow another Bob Dylan song lyrics, The answer my friend is “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind”.


back to top

Fear of Change - Thursday, February 02, 2012

change is not death
fear of change is death

Tonight at a meeting there was vigorous argument against making a change that would make our efforts to serve the poor more effective. The person arguing against the change kept saying this is what “they said” we should do or this is what “they want us to do.” I finally asked him who “they” were. It turns out to be a central office that had just told some of us that we had the power to make the change and that our organization was “bottom up” one, where we the people make the change not the central office.

In the hierarchical Catholic Church, which I belong to, and in many of its organization people wait for the Pope, Bishop or Pastor to tell them what they do. When they fail to do so, preach the Gospel of priority of service to people in need, many of the people follow the leaders or leave the Church.

All this blind following of the ‘powers that be” is scary and reminds me of the times in Germany before and doing World War II. As my friend Gordon Zahn pointed out in his book German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars, priest and Catholic leaders did not like Hitler but told their people it was their religious duty to fight in the Germany Army. Although it is not good to compare Germany with the United States there are quotes below of German Nazi leaders that haunt us and sound like they were written about our times.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
(Joseph Goebbels,German Minister of Propaganda, 1933–1945)

Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
(An interview with Hermann Goring founder of the Gestapo, Head of the Luftwaffe in prison after World War II)

Again I am not trying to make a comparison between the USA and Nazi Germany or about my experience tonight. However, today we must resist believing something said over and over again is true and to resist fear of being attacked and be denounced for lack of loyalty to leaders or patriotism. Simply said we must not have fear of change.


back to top

Spring is on Its Way - Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The groundhog not seeing his
shadow means spring is on its way

Finally today I started what I hope will be a daily event, a swift walk. During the walk I was listening to my first downloaded book on my Apple IPhone but I did walk all around Doyne Park. I hope to each day add more distance and/or higher speed, perhaps a run, to my daily walk.

After the walk I did a little work outside, putting some fresh kitchen waste into the worm depository, hill for of compost, outback. Since the weather is so mild I was able to dig a hole in the compost and glad to see so many wiggly worms moving around.

After that I did a little work in the sun room cleaning up and getting ready to plant some seeds in the GP box. Again the mild and sunny weather has been great for growing. I noticed outside in the backyard that the kale was growing and doing well.

I was asking my friend to help me put a new topper on my web site with a snow scene. But maybe I should withdraw that request since we seem to be going into spring already.

When I was walking in Doyne Park today I noticed someone playing golf on the golf course. I do not know what the Ground Hog will tell us tomorrow but the golfer says to me that spring is on its way.


back to top

back to top


Page last modified on December 07, 2012

Legal Information |  Designed and built by Wiki Gnome  | Hosted by Fluid Hosting  | Icons courtesy of famfamfam