Monthly Archives: December 2013

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Santa_Claus

On Sept. 21, 1897, The New York Sun published what was to become the most widely read letter to a newspaper. It was sent by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who lived with her parents in Manhattan. Below is the full text of that letter and the reply by Sun editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church.

Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”

Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

115 W. 95th St.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

A Story of Christmas

By Bill Vaughan

“Tell me a story of Christmas,” she said. The television mumbled faint inanities in the next room, and from a few houses down the block came the sound of car doors slamming and guests being greeted.

Her father thought a while. His mind went back over the interminable parade of Christmas books he had read at the bedsides of his children.

“Well,” he started tentatively. “Once upon a time it was the week before Christmas, and all the little elves at the North Pole were sad.”

“I’m tired of elves,” she whispered. And he could tell she was tired, maybe almost as weary as he was himself after the last few feverish days.

“OK,” he said. “There was once, in a city not very far from here, the cutest, wriggly, little puppy you ever saw. The snow was falling, and this little puppy didn’t have a home. As he walked along the streets, he saw a house which looked quite a bit like our house, and at the window . . . ”

“Was a little girl who looked quite a bit like me,” she sighed. “I’m tired of puppies. I love Pinky, of course. I mean story puppies.”

“OK,” he said. “No puppies. This narrows the field.”

“What?”

“Nothing. I’ll think of something. Oh, sure. There was a forest, way up in the North, farther even than where Uncle Ed lives. All the trees were talking about how each one was going to be the grandest Christmas tree of all. One said, ‘I’m going to stand in front of the White House where the president of the United States lives, and everybody will see me.’ Another beautiful tree said proudly, ‘I am going to be in the middle of New York City, and all the ‘people will see me and think I am the most beautiful tree in the world.’ Then a little fir tree spoke up, ‘I am going to be a Christmas tree, too.’ All the trees laughed and laughed and one said,  ‘A Christmas tree? You? Who would want you?’ ”

“No trees, Daddy,” she said. “We have a tree at school and at Sunday school and at the supermarket and downstairs, and a little one in my room. I am very tired of trees.”

“You are very spoiled,” he said.

“Hmmm,” she replied. “Tell me a Christmas story.”

“Let’s see. All the reindeer up at the North Pole were looking forward to pulling Santa’s sleigh–all but one, and he felt sad because . . . ” he began with a jolly ring in his voice, but quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work either. His daughter didn’t say anything; she just looked at him reproachfully.

“Tired of reindeer, too?” he asked. “Frankly, so am I. How about Christmas on the farm when I was a little boy? Would you like to hear about how it was in the olden days, when my grandfather would heat up bricks and put them in the sleigh and we’d all go for a ride?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, obediently. “But not right now. Not tonight.”

He was silent, thinking. His repertoire, he was afraid, was exhausted. She was quiet, too. Maybe, he thought, I’m home free; maybe she has gone to sleep.

“Daddy,” she murmured, “tell me a story of Christmas.”

Then it was as though he could read the words, so firmly were they in his memory. Still holding her hand, he leaned back: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed . . . ”

Her hand tightened a bit in his, and he told her a story of Christmas.

William E. (Bill) Vaughan biography.

Stirring the pot in re CU professor Patti Adler

By Max R. Weller

Yesterday, I joined a Facebook group called Help Patti Adler stay at CU!!!. Copied below is the post I made on their page this morning:

I joined this group in the hope of gaining answers, but first let me state that I have no academic credentials nor have I ever taken a class in sociology. Instead, my learning experience has taken place in Missouri DOC and on the streets as a homeless man in various cities over the course of the past 11+ years. I’ve lived here in Boulder, CO and its environs continuously since February, 2008. I worked for pay and volunteered for free at homeless shelter/services providers in Kansas City, MO before moving to Boulder to be near the Rocky Mountains. Obviously, I’ve met all sorts of “marginalized” people along the way, including inner city prostitutes suffering from drug addiction. Here’s one example, admittedly extreme, of the type of individual I’ve known personally:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2528013/Few-meat-tray-Renowned-Chicago-deviant-arrested-397th-time.html

BTW, the most pathetic crackhead I ever met was a young white woman, about 6′ tall, who couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds (probably less). She literally looked as if she’d stepped out of one of those horrifying photos of the survivors of Nazi concentration camps.

I’ll digress long enough to state that I’ve also met many, many male and female alcoholics on the streets, and a few of them have become my friends before they died of alcohol-related causes. One of them died here in Boulder a couple of years ago, and he was a highly educated man who simply refused to sober up for good. He knew that he was slowly killing himself, too, and remarked on it several times.

Anyway, to one of my questions: How would anyone go about portraying a woman like Shermaine Miles (below) in a classroom “skit” — and do so in a manner that would offer serious insight into her degrading lifestyle? I doubt that any student at CU has the personal background to pull it off in an appropriate way. The addict/prostitutes I’ve known would either laugh hysterically at such a show or they would become very angry and lash out at the actor(s). I can make an educated guess that none of those street ladies would think you were making a sincere attempt to promote understanding.

In other words, what value does any CU sociology class skit have in real world terms? Make your case.

Please feel free to use Big Words; if I don’t already know what they mean, I can look them up.

WTF?

By Max R. Weller

So many times I read a report or an opinion piece published in the Daily Camera (often it’s hard to tell the difference) and ask myself this question — what the f*** are these people smoking, anyway?

Here’s a perfect illustration of why I’m left scratching my ol’ noggin: ‘More than 2,100 Boulder County residents enroll through new health care exchange’ posted yesterday to the DC’s website.  Quoting from it below:

More than 2,100 Boulder County residents — nearly 10 percent of the total number statewide — have enrolled in health insurance through Colorado’s new health care marketplace, established this year in compliance with President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, according to county officials.

As of last week, 23,009 Coloradans had enrolled in private health insurance through state exchange Connect for Health Colorado, including 2,183 from Boulder County. According to county officials, 13 percent of Boulder County’s 16,747 uninsured residents had enrolled in private health insurance as of Dec. 14.

“This is an amazing time,” said Mae Hsu, Boulder County health coverage manager. “It’s just an unprecedented time where people can get health insurance at an affordable cost. It’s been exciting to be part of it and have a team so dedicated to helping people get enrolled.

“It’s huge for some people who have never had insurance or were paying much more than they could afford to be able to access it.”

Boulder County has the fourth-highest number of enrolled residents among all Colorado counties. Jefferson County leads the state with 2,801 enrolled residents. In Arapahoe County, 2,767 residents have signed up and 2,745 Denver County residents have enrolled.

Sounds about like what you’d expect from Obamabots and sycophants in the media, but here’s what really got my attention:

Boulder County officials attribute the high rate of sign-ups — county residents comprise 5 percent of the total statewide population, but make up nearly 10 percent of health care enrollments — to extensive outreach efforts and one-on-one assistance.

REALITY CHECK: The population of Boulder County, CO is over 300,000 as of 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Using the rounded figures to calculate, we find that 2,100 residents are about 0.7 percent of the whole population in Boulder County.

So what if less than 1 percent of residents here have signed up for [WhodunitCare]? The real news is that more than 99 percent have NOT done so.

Here’s the contact info for the “reporter” who wrote this puff piece, copied from the “report”:

Contact Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.

You might ask her why she is so lacking in critical thinking skills that are necessary for any responsible journalist to use, or if you’re as disgusted as I am you could ask Sarah if she’s an intern working at the Daily Camera for free.

I’ll admit to being surprised at the truly abysmal showing by the Affordable Care Act here, and I’m as skeptical as anyone could be about this unholy alliance between government bureaucrats lusting for more power and private insurers lusting for more profits.

0.7 percent of Boulder County residents have enrolled? Well, as Boulder County health coverage manager Mae Hsu said, “This is an amazing time.”

ROTFL!

And let’s not forget the more than 250,000 Coloradans who have had their health insurance canceled due to the ACA: ‘Canceled plans won’t be resurrected in Colorado’ from Health Policy Solutions.

I’d say it’s a FUBAR time, Mae.

Lie-of-Year-copyAt least we KNOW what President Obama has done to deserve this year’s award. 

Bison burgers for the homeless and more

By Max R. Weller

I beg to differ with the premise of this letter-to-the-editor of the Daily Camera. In the Real World, when there are too many wild critters grazing on too little grass, nature reduces the excess number by starvation and/or disease. Predators, of course, then attack the weaker animals and literally rip their guts out while they’re still clinging to life. Far better, I think, to shoot a few bison and make use of the meat and everything else — just as the Plains Indians did for centuries. Personally, I’d love a juicy bison burger with all the trimmings and I’m certain that most other homeless people would, too. The challenge would be to find cooks who can prepare the donated bison in such a way that it’s both tasty and safe. Usually, homeless shelter/services providers and other groups who feed are dealing with donated food items requiring minimal culinary skills; anybody can make sandwiches or scramble eggs.

It’s about 8:15AM as I’m writing this, and my host family is sleeping in. I would, too, if I wasn’t so used to waking up much earlier. Maybe I’ll take a nap later . . . I feel a bit of a chest cold coming on, something I could endure sleeping outdoors with the proper camping gear. I feel guilty for taking advantage of my friends like this, and I’d feel much worse if they were to catch whatever bug I have.

BTW, Terzah took it upon herself yesterday to phone the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and try to find out what happened to all of my stuff: tarps, sleeping bags, blankets, a camp pillow, $50 or so worth of food, etc. Hell, the vultures even took the tent pegs I’d bought to hold down my tarp in the gusty winds here. My theory is that it was a work release crew from the county jail who wandered onto private property and took everything I had there, while they were also picking up trash in roadside ditches which are public property. The lone witness I spoke with is one of the chronic inebriates who panhandles on the corner of N. Broadway & U.S. 36 — he wasn’t entirely believable about the details of who it was he saw, just that he saw ’em “raid” my campsite. Anyway, after passing the inquiry from one BCSO department to another, nobody in authority had any answers. My means of survival is now in the landfill.  Kudos to Terzah for making the effort, but I know from experience how little regard is given to property belonging to homeless campers, regardless of how well-behaved they may be.

Society’s answer for homelessness is to warehouse everyone in cramped, bedbug-infested quarters where behavior deteriorates to the lowest common denominator: farting, belching, hacking and coughing and spitting everywhere, puking in the bathroom sinks, stinking up the facility with body and foot odor, yelling and fighting while others are trying to sleep, stealing, etc.

The concept of “tiny houses” for the homeless seems to me to be a workable solution, one that offers PRIVACY and DIGNITY as well as being far more cost-efficient than the $6 million plus 31-unit Housing First project being built at 1175 Lee Hill in Boulder, CO. See this report from WMTV in Madison, WI — UPDATE: First tiny home for homeless complete. Different groups across America have differing approaches for the tiny house solution, and costs vary greatly.

I’d be thrilled with a tiny coroplast house:

Screenshot from 2013-12-21 09:03:47Screenshot taken from YouTube video

There are hundreds of single adult homeless men and women in Boulder, according to the most recent MDHI Point-in-Time Survey. Only 31 of ’em will be housed in brand new apartments at a cost of $200,000 per unit.

My perspective is far removed from that of the powers-that-be running Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Boulder Housing Partners.

I’ve enjoyed making new Facebook friends as I reconnect with folks in my old hometown, by means of I Remember When . . . Lexington, MO. Overall, it’s been good for me to face the ghosts in my past and put them to rest.

Time for fruitcake!

Max’s Journal 12/20/2013

By Max R. Weller

I’ve never been comfortable with asking for help, no matter how urgent the need is. Kindhearted friends come to my rescue, anyway.

A few of you have wondered about my mailing address:

Max R. Weller

4869 N. Broadway

Boulder, CO 80304

That’s Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, of course. Letters are fine, but I don’t think they’ll accept packages for their homeless clients.

I’ll presume that you want to send me Christmas cards, which I’d greatly appreciate (I’m almost certain that I read some fine print in my User Agreement with WordPress which prohibits any “commercial” use by me of this blog — so I’m certainly not soliciting cash donations to help replace my lost tarps, sleeping bags, blankets, and food which were taken from my campsite yesterday morning).

Those of you who pass by the 4900 block of N. Broadway and want to say hello can recognize me, more or less, by my Facebook cover photo.

As I’m writing this post in my friends’ warm and cozy basement in Longmont, Terzah just handed me a bag with presents from another friend, Renee, who lives in Boulder. Should I wait to open these gifts, which I would probably have done at my campsite on Christmas Eve with the wild critters in attendance? Hmmm . . . I’ll drink my second mug of coffee and think it over. Thanks, Renee!

I feel reasonably well this morning, for someone so put upon by gratuitous wrongdoing at the hands of persons unknown. I’m content with very little in material terms, and almost all of it is necessary for survival in the outdoors. Part of my dilemma now is to find a more effective way to keep my gear secure; I’m tired of this bullshit happening.

Anybody know of a cave that isn’t already home to hibernating bears?

photoThe most scrumptious-looking fruitcake I’ve seen, courtesy of my friend Renee!

The “Grinch” has taken my camping gear, food, etc.

By Max R. Weller

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-movie-poster-1966-1020427389

I discovered this around 11AM, when I returned to my neighborhood in the area of N. Broadway & U.S. 36.

Tarps, sleeping bags, blankets, food, everything at my campsite is GONE. Hundreds of dollars worth!

Shouting Joe from St. Louis says it was BCSO deputies in two white cars who raided my camp, along with others driving black vehicles (city police?), but in the past they’ve always had the courtesy to contact me if there was any problem. Who knows — Joe is drunk most of the time, so I’ll probably never be certain.

In December, 2011 it was CDOT who took all of my gear from a different campsite.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to me.

I don’t cause trouble for anybody; tell me to take my stuff and move along and I’ll do it without argument. Still, I don’t blame the authorities as much as I do all of the bad actors among the homeless population, who reinforce the negative stereotypes and cause this sort of backlash against the Homeless Philosopher.

Of course, the goal of the homeless shelter/services industry is to force every homeless person into their grasp. Not me; I may suffer in the forecast snow and below-freezing temps, but I’d rather be dead than in a zoo-like warehouse for humans.

I hope I can get a couple of blankets from Boulder Shelter for the Homeless tonight, but if any of my friends reading this sad tale can help me out with extra gear I’d appreciate it. I’m returning to my neighborhood and will be sitting along the wall in front of the Mexican restaurant in the 4900 block of N. Broadway.

What the hell — the Holiday Season always sucks for me, anyway. It’s hard NOT to just give up.

Max’s Journal 12/18/2013

By Max R. Weller

It’s been pleasant at my campsite since my return on Saturday night. The winds have calmed after the sun goes down, the mule deer are still grazing nearby, and no transients anywhere close enough to disturb my peace and quiet. It was warm enough Monday night that I threw back my tarp and slept underneath the full moon. I’ve also managed to break myself of the habit of waking up at 4:30AM; now, I don’t crawl out of my burrow until about 5:15. It’s less time standing in the cold waiting for Boulder Shelter for the Homeless to open at 6AM.

I haven’t been reading or doing anything but watching the world go by during the days at my spot in the 4900 block of N. Broadway. I’m not worried about cash, and have been out on the corner of U.S. 36 only when my butt gets tired from sitting on the wall in front of the Mexican restaurant. The wind has been so strong at times, especially on Monday, that it was difficult to stand upright and appear sober.

The usual panhandling suspects are still around, inebriated as always. Now that the Holiday Season is upon us, they all expect to strike it rich from generous passersby. We shall see how many granola bars they receive . . .

I haven’t followed the news either, beyond glancing at the Daily Camera’s headline when I go to King Soopers on Table Mesa for food and other of life’s necessities. I have to ask: why does CU hire Froot Loops like Patti Adler and Ward Churchill, anyway? The former can stick around gathering her paycheck while being suspended, and she probably enjoys all of the drama; Ms. Adler hasn’t done anything so egregious that she could be fired despite her tenured status. BTW, I’ve been around crack whores in Kansas City, MO — it’s hard for me to imagine how you could turn that degraded lifestyle into a college classroom skit and not offend various groups in our society.

I’m looking forward to obtaining and reading “Bowling for Bums: My Life as a Charity Whore”. I understand it’s set in Boulder County, CO during the recent Great Flood, and has some insights into the wasteful ways that nonprofits use the donations they receive from goodhearted citizens. The author is apparently in a position to observe this firsthand.

For the first time this morning in all the years I’ve gone to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, some stupid youngsters — who are probably playing at being homeless since their parents threw ’em out — put their grubby hands on my gear in the day room while I was taking a shower. One fool even sat in my chair! They acted like they were entitled to do so, and it seemed as if their feelings were hurt because I yelled at their arrogant and disrespectful behavior. Where do they come from? On the streets or in jail/prison, you learn quickly not to mess with other people’s stuff! More to the point, why should FAKE homeless kids be allowed to use resources intended for real homeless people? Most likely, they use Bridge House as a base and make the rounds of all of the Free Giveaway venues here in Boulder. They may have been the ones who threw up in two of the sinks in the men’s restroom, then left the mess for others to deal with instead of cleaning it up. Can’t hold your likker, you shouldn’t drink . . .

I’m loving my daily ration of Robinson Dairy egg nog from the grocery store. Some of the other brands are just nasty; who in blazes wants pumpkin-flavored egg nog? I think I’ll also buy some fruitcake, overpriced as it is, to properly celebrate Christmas.

Tonight at my campsite: junk food galore.