Dr. Carolyn Wedin: Good Friend and Writing Teacher (Oct 2,1939-July 28,2021)


My good friend and writing teacher passed away last night. Carolyn was still teaching on Tuesday when she did not feel well and I took her home early from class. Carolyn had been in a major car accident a few years ago and never quite recovered from the injuries and subsequent medical problems. Nevertheless, she was able to return to what she loved best and started teaching her Write Right Now! class again for Frederic Community Education this past winter and was not teaching a summer session. Seldom has there be an educator as beloved as Dr. Wedin. I am enclosing some comments from her students and a few pictures of Carolyn from bygone years.  – John

Comments from friends and students:

Jodi McLain 

Ohhh, rest in peace. It was an honor to know and write alongside Carolyn. – Jodi

Kathleen Melin 

Rest in peace, Carolyn.

I was honored to know Carolyn in a generational way.  Growing up, she was the little kid next door to my father’s family in Trade Lake.  I’d heard many stories over the years about her and her brilliant family. When she moved back to the area, I felt like a star lived among us.  I was honored to be in a writing group with her for a couple years that increased my admiration and respect for her.

Did you know that this petite blue-eyed blond taught at a Shaw University, a black college in North Carolina, early in her career?  The clan burned a cross in her front yard.  When students there decided to purge white faculty,  they kept a few instructors and Carolyn was one of them.  I didn’t experience her teaching presence, but know from others that she was generous and supportive to learners.  She was a careful researcher and a fine writer.  I admired the way she worked in our community, sharing her warmth, gifts, and talents.  She was keeper of Swedish heritage, too, and it was another way that she enlivened our area.

Thank You, Carolyn for everything., – Kathleen

Lisa Doerr

Beloved writers & readers – the miraculous, one-of-kind Carolyn Wedin ended our blessed time with her on earth today – Lisa

Lisa Doerr

(Lisa is a good friend of Carolyn.  She wrote and read the following beautiful verses almost 12 years ago at Carolyn’s 70th birthday party on October 2, 2009.  Lisa did not wait to write what she thought of Carolyn.  I think there is a message in her writing here for all of us.  I know Carolyn would agree.  –  John  ) 

Why wait? Does one need to be gripped by grief to take a moment and reflect on the subtle and not so subtle ways that a woman such as Carolyn shapes the world?

Maurice Ravel wrote his light hearted orchestral tombeau for comrades lost but not forgotten in World War I. Michael Daugherty uses polyphonic textures and harmonic layering to create his rhinestone kick step for the great Liberace. Both maestros waited too long.

Why delay until sorrow dilutes our awe for Carolyn’s passionate love of language and people? Why leverage loss and regret to highlight her commitment and immeasurable creative energy? Why let memories define her story when we’ve got Carolyn – larger than life – right here, right now?

There are none quite like this master weaver, pulling people together from the woods and lakes of the St. Croix River watershed for a celebration of life through language. Plays, poems, essays and films plied together in a sparkling river of cultural awareness and revelry. 

But, of course, Frederic, Four Corners and The Falls are only a tiny piece of the great world Carolyn embraces. New York, the South, California – nearly the entire nation comes to life in her book on the achievements of Mary White Ovington. Stora Mällösa, Örebro and the Atlantic Crossing are made real as Swedish settlers journey to Trade River in her edition of L.J. Ahlstrom’s memoir. Who else do you know arguing in the New York Times this year about socialist Norway’s lack of funding for immigrant schools? 

Carolyn’s unrelenting commitment to nurture fledgling creative spirits embodies the master’s touch. Thousands of aspiring writers have had the honor of hearing her speak about their work as if it matters and is part of a larger literary whole. Memoirs, histories and Hemingway derivatives are equally blessed by a moment of her time and constructive comments. All of this while at the same time imagining and completing her own myriad of projects.

Yes! Carolyn is an incredible woman right here, right now. I will not wait until a visit to her tomb inspires memories and I sadly attempt to capture her spirit. And anyway, with her beauty, brains and blarney Carolyn will long out live an aging baby-boomer such as me!  – Lisa

Phil Peterson 

How sad I am . . . for Carolyn!  I know of no one who enjoyed coaxing words, from those wishing to write, more than the Write Right Now Lady!  She gave me her files of WRN stories from years of classes and asked me to manage insertion of the weekly story into the Leader.  As John Persico and I slowly walked her to her car last Tuesday, I was holding her hand, thinking, “what a blessing this gifted lady has been to all of us!”    Thank you for A Page Turned!   – Phil

Mark Hulsether

Carolyn’s enormous and gracious spirit, and her powerful mind, were strong to the end.  As you may know, her heart gave out in the immediate context of fighting a badly infected gall bladder that ruptured yesterday morning, on top of various other medical problems of the past few years.

There are very few people who have a deeper and wider legacy of friends and people she mentored.  A tremendous hole for us to fill.   – Mark

Socorro Galusha


Teacher of words.

Encourager to writers.

Diminutive body tall in character stature.

Courtesy in speaking.

Last class ending early.

“I don’t feel well.”

Her body alerted mortality.

Next the shock of her leaving…

Leaves memories of an unforgettable woman’s journey into lives meeting with each other.

I listened to the interactions of Karen and John with Tony and Carolyn over the years. I could only wish I had encountered her.  –  Socorro Luna Galusha

John Persico (Written in the Fall of 2020)

Who was or is my muse for writing?  This past year Dr. Wedin had a series of illnesses and accidents rendering her unable to continue the “Write Right Now” classes that she had started.  Some of her students who have attended them for many years volunteered to take over, but it was not the same.  It is hard to describe Carolyn’s style of encouragement and critique, but I venture to say it is unique.  She inspires without criticizing.  She encourages without demoralizing.  She suggests without demanding.  When you have finished a session with Dr. Wedin, you have new ideas and a renewed motivation to go home and write. – John


Carolyn very young playing with puppy.  Carolyn loved animals

corny stefan wedding car

Carolyn first wedding photo


Carolyn older playing a trumpet with children

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Carolyn loved to walk and hike and often told us about the bears she saw on her walks.


Carolyn on her porch, fall of 2020.  She looked so frail then.  I could not believe it when I heard she started teaching again only a few weeks later.


Carolyn was an outstanding writer and wrote many books of erudition and substance.  The following is from the foreword to her book “Inheritors of the Spirit.”

“In its densely researched, sensitively interpreted, and crisply written evocation of her subject’s career, Professor Wedin’s biography opens a wide window onto much of the inner life of the NAACP as it evolves from a virtual one-person show scripted by the incomparable (and sometimes insufferable) Du Bois through the unflappable stewardship of James Weldon Johnson and the manic operational brilliance of Walter White to become, in classic Weberian progression, a well-honed bureaucracy of lawyers, accountants, field secretaries, and lobbyists–and, overwhelmingly, of African Americans . . . a vibrant, valuable chronicle of an eighty-year dedication to economic, racial, and gender justice.”–from the Foreword by David Levering Lewis

Sex:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions


In an earlier blog, I said that sex was like a continent divided into two regions.  One region gave permissions or legitimacies to certain sexual practices.  The other region consisted of prohibitions concerning sexual practices.  Some sexual practices have been and in some countries still are prohibited by law.  Permissions and prohibitions are defined by religion, culture, and politics.  These elements influence the individual in terms of their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial appeal for sex.


Religious teachings exert a powerful impact on what is permissible in terms of sex.  According to many religions, a man and a woman must be married to have sex.  Adultery is a term for a married individual who has sexual relations with someone they are not married to.  ““Thou shalt not commit adultery” is found in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 20:14) of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.  It is considered the sixth commandment by Roman Catholic and Lutheran authorities, but the seventh by Jewish and most Protestant authorities.” Wiki


Jesus in the New Testament forgave a woman who was considered an adulterer when the crowd was going to stone her to death.  The religious taboos against adultery are only one of many religious taboos concerning sex.  Sex is forbidden among sex partners when procreation is not the objective and in certain physical positions not thought of as proper.  In some religions there is no such thing as rape between a husband and his wife.  Most religions prohibit sex between same sex partners.

Many of the prohibitions against sex by religions seem ludicrous and without any purpose.  Some such as the adultery prohibitions are almost impossible to enforce and are disregarded by a large number of religious adherents regardless of their theology or faith.

  • Statistics on Infidelity Rate: (2021): How Much Cheating is Going On?
  • Surveys show that 22% of married men have committed an adulterous act at least once in their life
  • 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives

Infidelity remains the number one reason that married and unmarried relationships end all across the world.  Everyone admits that cheating is wrong.  Religions rail against adultery and infidelity but humans routinely ignore the sanctions and prohibitions.  No one seems to stop and ask why we permit religions to prohibit many acts which people routinely perform.

anti-gay-but-sex-abuse-ok (2)The Catholic Church prescribes celibacy for its nuns and priests.  The recent scandals regarding the abuse of power by priests, bishops and cardinals would suggest a serious hypocrisy.  More importantly perhaps would be for the church to ask itself if these prohibitions do any good or serve any purpose.  Tradition may have a role in life but there is also a time when traditions must be changed.

Traditions can become evil when they force people to commit acts which religion regards as sinful yet are only a manifestation of human nature.  It is natural for people to be attracted to others and to want to make love to people they are attracted to.  Prohibitions based on the age of consent make sense.  It may be argued that the age of consent is a nebulous number that varies from country to country, but no one would argue that there should not be some age of consent.

“Age of consent laws vary considerably worldwide, although most countries require young people to be over 14 before having sex. Angola and the Philippines at 12, and several other countries, including South Korea and Japan at 13.”  —  “Age Of Consent By Country 2021


So why are religions so opposed to sex?  What are the benefits that religions get out of controlling sex?  Why do religions make life difficult for their members by imposing sexual mandates which will be broken repeatedly and are broken repeatedly.  Even the authorities in various religions are guilty of breaking their own prohibitions.  Why?  Why? Why?

“Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology.” — Wilhelm Reich

The simple answer is power.  As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Churches exert power in a variety of ways.

  • They control who goes to heaven and who goes to hell
  • They control who is forgiven their sins and who is not
  • They control a number of sacraments needed to live a sacred life

Perhaps the most powerful control they exert over their members is their domination of the sex life of their members.  By controlling who can have sex, who they can have sex with, what sex is for and when it can be used, religions keep their financial treasuries full.  Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Divorce are all sacraments that churches use to make sure that their halls are full on Sunday or Saturday.  There is a looming problem though.


People are not going to church anymore.  The non-affiliated outnumber the affiliated.  Even those people who declare themselves with some religion seldom go to church anymore.  They may show up for marriage, baptism, and confirmation but after that they are like ghosts.  Only twenty-four percent of Americans attend a church service each week. — “Church attendance of Americans 2020”  Mainstream churches are losing members faster than baby boomers are dying off.  Any company that lost a share of its market like these churches have would take a serious look at its products and services.  Religions seem to be blind to the changes that culture are bringing to peoples views on sex.  Next blog we will look at the cultural influences on sex that impact what is permissible and what is not.

“I am not a Christian or a Jew or a Mohammedan, a Mormon, Polygamist, Homosexual, Anarchist or Boxer. . . . I do not believe that, in order to be religious in the good and genuine sense of the word, one has to ruin one’s love life and has to become rigid and shrunken in body and soul. I know that what you call “God” actually exists, but in a different way from what you think: as the primal cosmic energy in the universe, as your love in your body, as your honesty and your feeling of nature in you and around you.”  — Wilhelm Reich

The Man Who Wanted to Die Last

3783894-Swami-Vivekananda-Quote-To-be-unselfish-perfectly-selfless-is (1)

Most men I know when you start talking about death and dying usually say that they hope they die before their partner.  The motive is quite obvious.  Who wants to be alone.  There is almost nothing worse than loneliness for human beings.

Now imagine spending forty or fifty years living with someone.  You eat together, sleep together, travel together, make love together, raise children together, work together, talk together, and laugh together.  This goes on for year after year.  In a happy marriage or partnership, the relationship is one of joy and delight.

269318614.galleryNow suddenly your partner for one reason or another is gone.  She or he passes away.  You come back to your home after the funeral and well-wishers have left, and you are now alone.  You are more alone than you have ever been in your entire life.  You go from room to room and no one else is there.  The bedroom is empty.  The kitchen is empty.  The living room is empty.  You notice the picture of you and your spouse at your anniversary party hanging on the wall.  It brings back memories and tears.  Every day for many days, objects, thoughts, and reflections will bring back good times and bad times that you shared with your lover.  You will reflect over and over again about these past times.  No doubt you will feel remorse about some things that you did and wish you could undo.  You will also miss the fun things that you enjoyed together and the many good times that you had together.

The above scenario is very sad.  But there is one way you can avoid it.  You can pray that you pass away before your spouse or partner or loved one does.  Leave the planet earth sooner than they do and avoid the pain and heartache that comes with the death of your beloved.  This is the solution that I have hoped for many times.  I have always planned to leave my wife financially well off so that when I do go to the vast beyond, she can continue to live a happy life.  I thought this sounded like a grand plan until the following incident occurred.  It left me feeling selfish and self-centered.


It all began with a mission retreat that Karen and I started going on several years ago.   A good friend organizes the trip twice a year to bring food and needed items to an orphanage in Sonoita, Mexico and a Saint Vincent de Paul center in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.  We have as many as 15 cars in an auto caravan bringing items down.  Volunteers from Casa Grande, Eloy, and Arizona City (many from local churches as well as friends of Evelia) will join the caravan each year.  We typically leave on a Friday and come back on a Monday.  While down in Mexico, we stay at Puerto Penasco and enjoy the beach, ocean, and seafood for a few days before coming back across the border.

IMG_5379Each evening after dinner, we enjoy food, dancing, and music at the Playa Bonita restaurant.  It is right on the beach and while enjoying shrimp cocktails, we watch the most beautiful sunsets I have seen anywhere.  As night falls, a band or singer will begin entertaining our group.  Evalia loves to dance and will make sure that we all have a spin with her on the dance floor.  The dance floor is outside where we eat.  Almost always the weather is balmy and comfortable.  Infrequently one might need a shawl or a sweater but an active time on the dance floor will mitigate any night chills.


One night after dinner and drinks, three of us, Steve, Alexandro, and myself decided to go sip some tequila and smoke some cigars where it would not impose on anyone’s sense of smell.  We typically go out to the back of the restaurant.  There are a few round tables there and it is quite secluded.


Steve is Evelia’s son, and he often comes on the mission tours.  He is a real nice guy who was studying to be a deacon in the Catholic Church.  He married an Italian woman who is a medical doctor but after several years of trying she has been unable to acquire a permanent work visa for the USA.  Steve and Julia now reside in two countries.  Steve in the USA and Julia in Italy.  They reunite frequently in either Italy or the USA.  I think it is Steve’s plan to eventually join Julia in Italy.  Steve owns a management consultant firm and does not want to retire yet.

I had never met Alexandro before.  This was his first time on a mission retreat, and I never saw him again after this night.  We did some brief introductions, shared the bottle of tequila, and lit our cigars.  We chatted about the usual subjects, politics, wives, sports etc.   As the conversation became deeper and more serious, we started talking about aging and the impacts it was having on each of our lives.

Alexandro told us that his wife was an invalid and severely disabled.  She required considerable medical care.  He was the primary caregiver as they had no provision for medical assistance in the home.  It was evident form our conversation that Alexandro spent a large amount of time and effort in providing compassionate care for his wife.

I began thinking about how much love we all seemed to have for our spouses.  I started thinking about what I would do without Karen who provides so much compassion for me when I am sick or when I need support.  I could not imagine a life without her.  I stated emphatically that I hoped I did not ever have to deal with a life alone.  It was my desire to die first to avoid the pain of heartache and loneliness.

Alexandro spoke up and his words surprised me.  He said, “I hope my wife dies first.”  I could not believe what I had just heard.  My immediate thought was “What a selfish bastard!  He wants his wife to die before he dies so that he will not have to take care of her anymore or deal with her problems.”  I remained silent for a minute or so while I wondered how any person could be so heartless.  My curiosity finally got the better of me and I asked Alexandro “Why do you want your wife to die first?”  He replied “My wife needs so much care and there is no one else around who could provide enough care for her.  I do not want to think of her alone and without me to provide the care.”


I heard Alexandro’s explanation and suddenly I was inundated by a tsunami of guilt and an earthquake of self-reproach.  How could I have thought so miserably of a man with so much character that he would sacrifice himself for his spouse?  On the other hand, how could I be so selfish that all I could think of was that I wanted to die first to avoid the feelings of loneliness and heartache that accompany the death of a loved one.

I sat speechless for quite a while as I reflected on my thoughts about what I had just heard.  Never before had I heard anyone say anything like Alexandro did.  It never occurred to me that my life and my feelings are not the hub of the universe.  The sun does not rise and set by how I feel or how I should feel.  “Compassion literally means “to suffer together.”  When we are confronted with the suffering of another, it means that we will take steps to help relieve that suffering.  Perhaps suffering for another person may not mean dying for them, perhaps it means living for them.

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The Old Woman Who Wanted to Be a Pilot

Little girl dreaming of becoming a pilot

I would like to tell you a story that led me to a principle that I have used over and over again in my life.  The story begins in 1979.  I had just received my M.S. degree in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin – Stout.  I began applying for jobs where I could use my degree.  I also took the Wisconsin test for state employment. 

I did well on the state employment test and after an interview process, I was hired by what was then the Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations (DILHR) as a Manpower Counselor 2.  I was officially a counselor in the Work Incentive Program (WIN).  I would be in charge of the WIN Program as well as a number of other programs including, Labor Education Advancement Program (LEAP), Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program (IRAP) and the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).  I would have offices in two counties.  One office was in Ellsworth, Wisconsin in Pierce County.  The other office was in Hudson, Wisconsin in St. Croix County.  I was then living in River Falls, Wisconsin which was almost dead center between my two offices. 


Each day my job consisted of basically trying to help people find employment.  Depending on their ages, genders, skill levels and aptitudes, I had a variety of resources to help them find a job.  Some of my resources included, employer incentives, apprenticeship training, on-the-job-training, education benefits and a variety of tools to help my clients gain the needed skills to find and seek employment.  I also had a large data base of employment openings that were furnished daily by the head office in Madison, Wisconsin.   

My counseling program at Stout was led by a grand educator named Evelyn Rimel.  She was dedicated to the counseling program and would do anything she could to help her students learn the skills they needed to become good counselors.  Dr. Rimel was born in September 1911 and died in August 2009 one month shy of her 98th birthday.  She was a remarkable woman.  The following poem which she wrote expresses her ideas and goals in life.  She was 42 years old when she wrote this poem and numerous people will vouch for her devotion to this vision.

aac54f3a-b1b5-11de-9fb3-001cc4c03286.imageI’d like to think when life is done,

That I had filled a needed post;

That here and there I’d paid my fare,

With more than idle talk or boast;

 That I had taken gifts divine,

The breath of life and womanhood mine,

And tried to use them, then and now,

In service to my fellow man.

Evelyn received many awards during her lifetime.  When she died she was the oldest living and longest-serving member of the American Association of University Women, a national organization to which she belonged for more than 75 years.

Evelyn was the prime mover in the counseling program at Stout and no one who was accepted into the program could ignore her influence on what they would learn.  For instance, employment and school counselors are taught to use many tests such as the GATB, SATB, Kuder Richardson and Strong Campbell to help profile job applicants and identify their strengths and weaknesses.  Dr. Rimel would hear nothing about weaknesses.  She told us that these tests were only pointers and not conclusive evidence of what someone could or could not do.  I still remember what Evelyn said but at the time it seemed very theoretical.  I would not learn the real meaning of her message until I met this client who came into my life a year or so later.


The year was 1980 and I was in my office in Hudson when an older woman came in to see me.  She asked if I could help her find a job.  I was 34 years old at the time and it was early in the year 1980.  The economy was not doing so well, and it was difficult to find decent paying employment in our area.  I asked her to take a seat and how could I help her?  She told me that her name was Margaret and that her husband had recently passed away.  They had raised four children and she had been a stay-at-home mom.  She had no schooling or formal training beyond high school.  She was 68 years old and did not have enough money to live on.  She needed to find a job to supplement her social security income. 

FYC.adviser.0020-16x9-1-1024x576I asked her if she had any idea what she could do.  She replied that she did not.  I suggested that she take an employment aptitude test to see what kinds of work she might find interesting.  It was all very theoretical to me, but I could not imagine what kind of work I could find for her in the local area that would pay enough for her to live on.  She did not have any current job experience and no goals for a career.  The aptitude test was simply an effort to do something even though I did not believe that I could help her much.

She agreed to take the test which I then administered.  When she had finished the test, I told her that I would need to have the test scored.  We setup an appointment for the following week to meet again.  I sent the test in to be scored and the results came back before our next appointment.  When I reviewed the results, I was incredibly surprised.  I even laughed at the findings of the test.  The test showed Margaret’s highest aptitude to be that of an airline pilot.  I laughed because in 1980 there were few women finding employment in the commercial airline industry as a pilot and even fewer who were 68 years of age.  Not to mention, a woman with no prior flight experience or military experience.  Back in the 80’s, many commercial airline pilots came from the ranks of retired or former military pilots. 

I chalked Margaret’s results up to a curious irregularity in the testing results or an anomaly that could probably not be explained.  I was not willing to put any credence into the test and totally ignored Evelyn’s caveat about using employment tests as pointers and not as conclusive evidence.  When Margaret arrived at my office for her appointment we sat down to discuss her results and what our next steps might be.  I started the conversation off by a dismissal of the test findings.   “Margaret, these tests are frequently not accurate.  This test showed your number one aptitude to be that of an airline pilot.”  She looked down at the floor and then up at me.  Speaking directly into my face, she solemnly said, “When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an airline pilot, but my parents and teachers all told me it was impossible.  Girls could never be commercial airline pilots.”    


I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation that day or whether or not I ever found a good job for Margaret.  What I do remember and will never forgot was my narrow mindedness and smugness.  I had totally written off the possibility that Margaret could ever be an airline pilot. 


I mentioned at the start of this story that I gained a principle from this episode that I have used the rest of my life.  The principle was this:  I would never ever tell anyone, client, student, relative or friend that they could not do something or be something.  From Margaret, I realized that one of the things that holds us back are other people who tell us what we can or cannot do.  I have previously told the story of my spouse Karen who was advised by her high school guidance counselor that she could never be a nurse because of her low science aptitude scores.  Karen ignored this “helpful” advice and spent over 55 years in the medical field as a registered nurse and nurse manager. 

 “Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it.  You do what you want, what you love.  Imagination should be the center of your life.”  —Ray Bradbury.


Leading Economist Talks about China America Relations – Dr. Jeffrey Sachs


Is China really the enemy, or are we just creating self-fulfilling prophecies? If you want to hear the truth about China from a leading economist who has been involved in China since 1981, you need to listen to this video discussion. Dr. Sachs presents his views on why China should not be seen as the enemy and why almost all the politicians both Dems and Republicans are misguided. I have not heard it stated so clearly as Dr. Sachs puts it but it is time Americans realize that reality is not what our so called political leaders are telling us.


Sex from a Seventy Five Year Old Perspective


Before you read any further, ask yourself this question.  Can a White Elderly American male say anything generic about sex?  To be quite clear, can I say anything relevant for women and men of color?  Can I say anything about sex that will resonate with women and men of other cultures like China, Indonesia, the Mid-East, or Indigenous peoples over the vast globe?  Will my thoughts on sex have any meaning for GLBTQ people?  Can I speak words of wisdom that will have any importance for those of Generation X, Y and Z?


When a writer starts talking about a subject, they start from a viewpoint that is uniquely their own.  It can be no other way.  That is what makes writing so interesting and variable.  No two people will see life exactly the same way or tell exactly the same story.  Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  A writer must have grit or ice in their veins to attempt to say anything at all.  No matter where I stand, someone will say, “You are a heretic.”

Let this tome be my heresy about sex.  Bury me with a stake through my heart if you do not like what I have to say.  I don’t have much more time to say it anyway.  Those who are offended can write their own scribbles to debunk my thoughts and theories.  To paraphrase Old Abe, the world will little remember nor long care about my ideas here.  It would be nothing but cowardice to forego one’s opinions because they might be misunderstood.  Nevertheless, I pray as the song goes “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be TOOO misunderstood.”


Sex is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  It has an appeal that goes beyond the aesthetic.  Sex is both an individual and group activity that entails five key elements.  The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements frame the actual conduct or act of sex.  My emotions, my physical abilities, my mental state, my spiritual beliefs and even my financial capacity will determine the breath and depth of my sexual activities.  But there is a great deal more that governs how sex is controlled in any society.


Sex can be seen as a vast continent.  The continent is divided into two major regions.  There is the Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  Each of these regions has three seasons.  There is some overlap between each season but also some significant differences.

One season is cultural.  This season brings influences to sex based on traditions and beliefs about what sex should be like, who we should have sex with and how sex may be performed.  There is the political season.  This season establishes the legality of sex.  Who may have sex, where they may have sex and when they may have sex.  Finally, there is the religious season.  This season defines who may have sex but further informs a purpose for sex.  Sex within the religious sphere is generally assumed to be permissible when associated with procreation.

Sex may take place between a man and a woman, between multiple men and one woman, between multiple women and one man, between multiple men and multiple women, between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman and any other multiple combinations thereof.

Couple_Bed_1296x728-header-1-1296x728Some of you are already thinking that this description has gone too far.  The reality of sexual practices throughout the world would astound most individuals.  There are those who believe that some sex is right, and some sex is wrong.  If there is a right and wrong when it comes to sex, the question is not easily answered.  The seasons of sex, the regions of sex and the individual capabilities all noted above will determine what is considered right and wrong sex.

In the following blogs, I will discuss my views on sex pursuant to the following areas:

  • The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions
  • The Season of Religion
  • The Season of Politics
  • The Season of Culture
  • The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements affecting sex.


Who am I to talk about sex?  What qualifications give me the right to discuss the multitudinous varieties of sex in the world?  An old White guy who has been married twice.  A man who has had several but not really that many sex partners.  I read that Wilt Chamberlain had been to bed with over 20,000 women.  A man who when he was younger did not understand women very well and probably still does not.  A man of limited variety when it comes to cultural and ethnic relationships with women.  A straight guy who has had no interest in gay relationships.  These are my obvious limitations.  I suspect I have others that I am unaware of.

sex in pandemicOn the other hand, I read widely.  I think a great deal about things and what constitutes right and wrong.  I have been to 34 countries.  I am old enough to have seen many things that work and many things that do not work.  I have had friends from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  I am not unduly influenced by religious, cultural, or even some legal restrictions governing sex.  As for the legal aspects, I believe in the protection of young children from pedophiles and other exploiters.  However, I have long believed in the right of people to choose their sex partners regardless of ethnic background.

The anti-miscegenation laws that were passed by some states were racist laws that enforced racial segregation for marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races.  I abhor such infringements on the individual rights of people based on racist xenophobic and bigoted concepts of what is right and wrong.

In 1975, I received my B.S. degree in Health Education.  I also received a license to teach this subject in grades 1 to 12.  What I did not realize at the time was the resistance to teaching Health Education in most schools.  Many parents and even schools associated Health Education with Sex Education.  In 1975, Sex Education was a highly contentious subject.  Twenty years later in 1994 Joycelyn Elders was forced to retire from her post as U.S. Surgeon General after she said that masturbation “is part of human sexuality and perhaps should be taught.”


Sex is both the most popular subject in the world and the most taboo subject.  We will look at some of these issues when we discuss permissions and prohibitions in my next blog.  Today there are more sex education classes taught then when I received my degree forty-five years ago, but the subject is still something educators must tread lightly on.  A recent article in the New York Times discusses a progressive educator who resigned her position due to parent criticism concerning her teachings.  “A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods.”

“Twenty-eight states require that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes, and six states require that only negative information be provided on homosexuality, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/07/style/sex-educator-methods-defense.html


Here I sit in the middle of one of the so-called most advanced countries in the world, and we have roughly one half of our nation that thinks abstinence is the key to sex education.  As an educator who continues to be a teacher in high schools in Arizona, I can only shake my head in disbelief.  We live in perhaps the most highly sexualized nation in the world and yet we act as though our children will practice abstinence until they are married.  One could not think of a more bizarre case of denial.

“Many Indian schools provide no sex education, leaving it to parents to talk to their children about sex and relationships. But often they are unsure what to say, sex coach Pallavi Barnwal tells the BBC’s Megha Mohan.”   —  ‘Indians don’t talk about sex – so I help them’

Americans are not alone in denial when it comes to sex.  As far as I can see, sex has what could be called mysterious parameters in every country that I have been to and many that I have only read or heard about second hand.  What is it about sex that makes it so popular and yet also so taboo?  The psychologist Wilhelm Reich had one theory which I will discuss later but it is one among many competing theories.

Next Blog:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions

The Joy of Eating or Why I Never Met a Food That I Did Not Like


Mexican food, Chinese food, Thai food, French food, Mid-Eastern food, Indian food, I have never met a food I did not like.  From street venders with their push carts to five-star gourmet restaurants with sommeliers in tuxedos, I have eaten food fit for the gods.  When Karen and I travel we love to explore markets and discover new foods to cook.

We love purchasing foods in foreign markets that we cannot recognize and taking them back to our abode to cook.  Cooking our own foods has gifted our palates with some wonderful tastes that I could not begin to describe.  I still do not know what some of the things we ate were, but I am alive to tell this story.

nintchdbpict000307002046I have met people who say, “I never eat Mexican food.”  They say this as though it were some badge of honor.  I want to ask what type of Mexican food do they not eat?  Does their exclusion of Mexican food extend to deserts like fried ice cream or drinks like Tequila or is it simply tacos and burritos that they do not eat?  I have met people who say, “I never eat fish.”  I usually ask them why and I often hear the reply “they taste too fishy.”  I want to ask them if they ever eat meat that tastes too meaty, but instead I usually ask them if their antipathy extends to crustaceans, mollusks, and cephalopods.  I can see the disapproval in my spouse’s eyes when I pursue this line of questioning.

Other people tell me that they never eat from street vendors.  The reasoning I hear most often is that you can’t trust the food since you do not know where it came from.  This is a really funny reason since I feel the same way about grocery stores, but I will give you ten to one odds they eat food from grocery stores.


The lowly potato is one of my favorite foods.  Simply slice a potato and fry it in a little olive oil.  Place it between two slices of harvest bread with a dash of mayonnaise and you have a taste treat that you will never forget.  I love tripe and when I was young my mother would cook tripe (cow stomach) in a big pot of spaghetti sauce.  You eat the tripe and sauce in a bowl and dip Italian bread into the sauce with the tripe.  I get hungry just thinking about it.

download (1)menudo-a-classic-mexican__85101.1588116574After exploring the vast variety of Mexican foods, I discovered that the tasty and hearty Menudo soup is chock full of tripe.  Many Latinos as well as Gringos in the Southwest will not eat Menudo.  Several years ago, after I started dating Karen, I was introduced to Lutefisk.  At first I found the texture somewhat off putting.  Over time, by adding butter or cream sauce I discovered the joy of eating Lutefisk around the holidays.  It is a Scandinavian tradition in homes much like Menudo is in Mexican homes.  Paradoxically, many Scandinavians loath Lutefisk.  The derivation of such foods leads many to disavow them.  I confess to the same attitude towards an Italian dish known as Pasta a Fagioli which my mother loved to make.  I left home swearing to never eat any again.

Show_2_Pasta_e_Fagioli-4-e1494876950597Some of these low-cost and nutritious peasant foods have become quite popular now as people look back to their early roots.  An example of such a food dish is the Italian Pasta e Fagioli which I mentioned earlier.  This is a dish comprised of beans and macaroni.  Beans and macaroni form a “whole protein” which means you get all the amino acids you need without having to eat meat.  A protein is considered “complete” when it has the nine essential amino acids in somewhat equal amounts.  Almost every country in the world has some staple food items that provide whole protein.  In poorer cultures, livestock was valued for its ability to help farm crops and produce milk.  In places like India, livestock was made sacred as a way to prevent killing a valuable resource.  Cows were more valuable alive than they were dead.

why-we-should-eat-insects-infographic-3A few years ago, at the annual Gustavus Adolphus Nobel Conference the subject was on food production.  A number of experts claimed that the day will come when we will no longer be able to afford a practice so barbaric and wasteful as to slaughter animals for meat eating.  There is an abundance of insects on this earth that could provide an almost endless low-cost supply of protein and minerals to our diets.  Most people respond to thoughts about eating insects with something like “I could never eat bugs.”  My retort is “well you don’t eat bloody chickens or bloody cows do you?”  The insects would be processed, and they would provide a grain that could be used in various ways like we use wheat or corn meal.  I get blank stares.


In the future, you may go into a grocery store and have a choice of “ground insect burgers.”  You can choose from spider burgers, cock-roach burgers, ant burgers and termite burgers.  Today there is a daily special on worm-burgers.  Bees are off the menu and are a protected species due to their value for crop pollination, but wasps are selling at premium prices.  Nothing tastes as good as a wasp-loaf with a little tomato sauce on top.

Bon Appetit

You Are Never So Alone as When You Stand Out


Give me the Fortitude to challenge injustice,

The Courage to stand up for those who are weaker than I am,

The Boldness to do what is right when no one else seems to care,

The Determination in the face of criticism and mockery,

The Firmness to stand my ground when I am abandoned and alone,

The Tenacity to ignore insults and attacks on my character,

The Grit to fight the battle until I can fight no more.

The Ability to believe in myself when no one else does.


The human race is a history of high spots and low spots.  A history of happiness, joy, love, and compassion.  It is also a history of injustice, murder, racism, and cruelty.  When we look back at the past, we see villains and heroes.  The villains are those who exploited and oppressed others.  The heroes are those men and women who stood up for the downtrodden.  The courageous few who stood up when the majority stood down.  Those who had the gumption to endure ostracism and worse because they would not abandon morality and righteousness.

Many years ago, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) wrote the following prophetic words:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Being faced with injustice poses a difficult choice for many of us.  If it were simply a choice behind a high road and a low road, it would be easy.  But life is seldom black and white.  The choice is often much more difficult.  It can be a choice between being alone or standing with the anonymity of the crowd.  No one wants to stand out.  There is a saying in Japan that the “nail that sticks up, gets hammered down.”  It is the same with every other culture.  The world is moved by the adage to “not make waves.”

Chinese Activist Blocks Column of Tanks

A few years ago, I fought a battle with the town to fire the library director or else to put him back to work.  He had been accused of pedophilia and suspended from his job with pay.  Wisconsin is an employment-at-will state and I could see no reason that a poor small-town library needed to pay a salary to someone who was now suspended from his job.  I went to the library board and eventually to the town council to challenge this decision.  Either fire him I said or put him back to work until he has been tried by a court of his peers.  Both boards told me the same thing.  A lawyer that the city hired advised against such a move due to the potential of a lawsuit.  Lawyers all over this country use the possibility of a lawsuit as a scare tactic to do nothing.

At first, I had support from others in my battle with these boards.  Eventually, one by one they all dropped out.  “We have to live in this town, and we don’t want to make waves.”  I continued what had become a lonely battle.  Doubts and recriminations daily filled my mind and heart.  I was disappointed by the lack of support I was receiving.  I felt deserted by friends who I thought shared my ideas of right and wrong.  I was told by the city council that I should not attend any more of their meetings.  I was persona non-gratis.

I toyed with the idea of giving up.  I wanted at least one other person who could help me justify my crusade.  “Why should I care about the library if no one else does?”  Instead of giving up, I amplified my efforts.  I threatened to send a flyer out to every citizen in Frederic during Frederic Family Days.   My flyer was carefully worded to show the cowardice of the City Council and the costs to the Frederic taxpayer due to this cowardice.  Within three days of the council receiving a copy of my flyer, they fired the former library director.  Because of their spinelessness, they had kept him on the payroll for nearly nine months while he fled to Mississippi.  A few months later he was convicted of pedophilia and sentenced to jail.

I did not like the role I played in this battle.  I would have preferred that someone else had taken up the gauntlet.  However, no one wanted it.  I am no hero.  I question myself every day.  I am always wondering if this decision or that decision is the right one.  I lack the self-confidence to assert that I am right and that you are wrong.  How can I be certain that I am right?  What if I am not?

a76ce78ebb5a097bfdd284a75347259bI look around me today and I do not understand the world.  I do not understand the decisions that our leaders make.  It seems we have a moral disease.  The symptoms of this disease are short-term thinking and greed.  Arizona is suffering from an unprecedented drought and heat wave.  The water levels in both the Central Arizona Project and aquifers are dangerously low.  Yet when asked to cut back water usage by 3.8 percent, the golf course owners in Phoenix created an association to oppose such a “drastic” cut.  Their counter proposal was for a 1.6 percent cut in water usage.  The Governor of Arizona was the keynote speaker for the associations kick off meeting.  Am I crazy?  Do you believe this?  Are golf courses more important than drinking water and water for farm crops?

If you dare to stand against the greed that has taken root in our society, you are an anti-capitalistic liberal communist left-wing radical.  What passes for dialogue in politics today are theatrical stunts, public attacks, name calling and vows to never compromise.  Our legislative bodies have been corrupted by men and women who are only motivated by avarice and power.  We are beyond truth and reason.  Words like reconciliation, harmony and accord no longer have any meaning.  Nothing gets done as each side digs its heels in and votes strictly according to party-line.  Instead of asking what is good for the USA, politicians only ask, “What is good for my party?”


The man or woman who stands out is a person of courage.  It takes guts to stand up and speak out.  It is much easier to do nothing.  Sgt. Shultz used to say, “I hear nothing, I see nothing.”  It may be comforting to go through life hearing and seeing nothing but at what cost to the world?

Do you think the world needs to be changed?  It all starts with us.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

Stand up, speak out, put yourself on the line.  If not you, then who? 


What’s So Funny Today?


On Tuesday, my writing class suggested that for the next class we should all write something funny.  I left the class and started to rack my brains for something funny to write about.  I even thought about rewriting one of my other blogs.  However, I have a goal to come up with at least one original writing each week.  The thought of rewriting an earlier blog seemed like cheating.  After a fruitless mental search, I was willing to sacrifice creativity for humor.  But not one of my 900 or so blogs struck me as funny and something that I could rewrite.  I would have to come up with a new idea.

41Ug6TO4iwLI remembered from many years ago, a leader at a support group that I belonged to advised me that I should have more humor in my life.  I asked him “Do you know any good books about getting more humor in one’s life.”  He laughed, “You can’t read about humor, you have to do it.”  The thought has often struck me over the years that it is one thing to read about things, it is another thing to do them.  Could it be, I am just a writer and not a doer?  Was it still possible that I needed more humor in my life.  Maybe a clown I am not?

I brought the subject up to my spouse Karen and she reassured me that I am often very funny.  I know that I can be very sarcastic.  Like the time that I told the woman sitting on the plane next to me that maybe the human race was going to be extinct soon like many other species.  Why did she think that we had any superior reason to inhabit the earth when many other species have already perished?  “Climate change” I told her “Proves that we cannot take care of the earth.”  She gave me a truly angry look and went back to reading her book.  I suppose she was reading some tome about “How we can save our planet in nine days or less.”  I doubt that she thought I was funny.

Over the last four years, I have laughed often about Donald Trump, Republicans, Trumpists, Trump sycophants, climate change deniers, power hungry politicians, greedy lawyers and lying real estate developers.  My top three lying groups include the aforementioned individuals.  Can you guess which are my top three?  My laughing at these groups has come from my incredulity at the things they say and do.  I could never have thought that there was so much stupidity in the human race.  Is stupidity funny?  Does laughing at stupidity give one a sense of humor or a sense of sadness?

A few hours after my writing class this week, I was stricken with some type of intestinal gas attack.  It was very painful and not very funny.  I did find some humor in this attack which I would like to share with you.  I think this might be a genuine bit of humor, but I want to know if you find it funny.  If so, I will consider this writing effort a success.  It might prove that I can find humor in my life even if it be in strange places.

gallbladder-painA year ago, (June 2020) almost to the day, I had a sharp pain in my chest.  I fell to the floor and passed out.  I know that this is not very funny but stay with me and I will get to the funny part.  I promise.  Karen thought I was having a heart attack and she called 911.  They came, attached an IV to my arm and I had my first ever ambulance ride to the emergency clinic in St. Croix Falls.  After a blood test, an Ultra Sound, an X-Ray, and a CAT Scan, they decided that I had a Gall Bladder problem.  Three hours later, I was sent home with an appointment for the next day back at the hospital to see a doctor.

I arrived for my appointment and was met by a doctor who told me that I needed to have my Gall Bladder removed.  Now, I am not against surgery, but I have often advised and written on the perils of rushing surgery.  I have spoken my thoughts many times about the hasty and frequently unneeded surgeries that the medical profession pushes on a naïve public.  Thus, I argued about the need for surgery.

My point was that they did not know what caused the Gall Bladder attack.  They had no evidence (since the Gall Bladder was too swollen to see anything) if I still had any potentially dangerous Gall Stones waiting to attack me again.  I suggested a second Ultra Sound in a few weeks when the swelling had subsided.  I was curtly advised by the doctor that they could not do another one and that either I got the surgery or not.  The surgeon was available the next day.  I decided not and left the room.

Subsequently, I was advised by friend and foe alike that Gall Bladder surgery is a breeze and I had nothing to fear.  “You don’t really need your Gall Bladder.”  Disdaining all this well-intentioned advice, I stuck with my decision to keep my Gall Bladder.  The coming year went by event free except for the Covid 19 Epidemic.  Nothing funny about that.

As I mentioned earlier, just after my weekly writers’ class, I started to get gas in my chest and a pain in my lower right side.  I sometimes get gas pains after eating but I had not eaten anything in several hours and the pain was not in my abdomen but more in my chest.  It was just under my right ribs exactly where the Gall Bladder pain was one year ago.  It continued to increase.


By 11:30 PM, it was apparent that I was not going to be able to sleep so following some advice I read on the Internet, I grabbed a hot ginger tea and went for a walk.  I was accompanied by Karen who wanted to make sure she was around if I passed out again.  Going for a walk in Frederic Wisconsin at Midnight was very surreal.  We met only one other person.  It was a local police officer accompanied by a canine companion.  The dog acted as though we had just robbed the First National Bank of Frederic.  The police officer pulled him closer and announced that his dog was often suspicious of strangers.  I suppose an old lady and old guy out at midnight would constitute “suspicious” strangers.  We continued our walk.

I felt somewhat better by the time we got back home.  I laid down and the pain started to come back.  In a short while, it hurt too much for me to find any sleep.  I sat up and tried to read but could not concentrate.  I tried to think of something funny but still had no luck.  Funny would not come.  Eventually, I managed a long night of quite restless sleep.  When I woke the next morning, we called the local clinic for an appointment.  They gave me an appointment at 11 AM that same morning at the Frederic Clinic in town.

frederickI saw a Physician Assistant at the clinic.  He was polite and thoughtful.  He gave me some rudimentary tests.  A little prodding and touching here and there.  He then advised me to go to the Emergency Department at the St. Croix Medical Center.  He said the Frederic Clinic was not equipped to do the more complicated tests that I would need and that I should get these tests done immediately..  He suggested that it might be time to get rid of the unneeded and problematic Gall Bladder.  I was quite ready to agree.  I had managed to keep my Gall Bladder for almost 75 years.  It had a good run, and perhaps it was time for it to retire.


Karen and I drove down to the St. Croix Medical Center, parked our truck, and walked into the Emergency Department.  They greeted us very warmly and after the usual administrative stuff and a brief wait we were ushered into a patient room.  A friendly doctor came into the room.  A few brief introductions and then he listened as I informed him about my past history with this Gall Bladder.  I conceded that I was ready to have my Gall Bladder removed. They could get the 37,000 dollars that Medicare reimburses for such a procedure.

He nodded wisely and then described the tests that he wanted to have done.  These included several blood tests and an Ultra-Sound.  Unlike the previous doctor from a year ago, he did not seem anxious to remove my Gall Bladder.  He concluded with, “Let’s wait and see what the tests show.”

57171431-cartoon-wise-old-doctor-gestures-and-emotions-After a short wait, I was brought by wheel chair into another room.  I laid down on yet another bed.  A new nurse (or was it a technician) came into the room.  I assumed that she was going to perform the test.  Someone else brought the apparatus for conducting the Ultra Sound into the room and left.  The nurse or Ultra-Sound Technician started to poke and prod me with a rod connected to the machine.  This increased my burping considerably and went on for longer than I had remembered a year ago.  I guess they wanted to be really sure this time that I needed my Gall Bladder removed.  I was resigned to this eventuality.

After the test was over, I rested in bed for about ten minutes before the friendly doctor I had seen earlier came back to see me.  He had a big smile on his face.  I figured for sure that he was thinking about his share of the 37,000-dollar operation that he was about to perform.  As they say at comedy shows, “Give it up for the Doctor.”  Or as my mom used to say, “Every dog has its day.”

“Well,” he started “your Gall Bladder looks great.  No evidence of swelling or gall stones.”  I could not believe my ears.  Was I hearing him correctly?  Something stopped me from asking if he was kidding or trying to be funny.  He looked profoundly serious.  Could they have made a mistake?  Did they really want me to keep this Gall Bladder for another 75 years?  What about the 37,000 dollars?  No surgery?  “Nope, just go home and take some Maalox and you will be fine.”  He then apprised me of the fact that I had some fat on my liver and that I should watch my fat intake more.  I wondered if he had any advice on how to get rid of a fatty liver.  How about surgery, I was tempted to ask but decided against it.

Do you see the humor here or the funny part?  It strikes me as exceedingly funny.  First they want to take my Gall Bladder and I refuse to give it.  A year later and I want them to take my Gall Bladder and they don’t want to take it.  Should I call it the “Miracle of Peake Street and the Cured Gall Bladder?”  Would it start my qualification as a saint in the Catholic Church?  Old guy goes from faulty useless Gall Bladder to healthy like new better than ever Gall Bladder?  I think some of the official Catholic saints had less going for them than this.

Well, as Porky Pig said “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”


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