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Friday, January 31, 2014

Postcard From Brazil

Bruce Louis Dodson

Evening in Buzios
Warm sea breeze comes ashore
Caressing . . . sultry breath of oceans
 Fishing boats rock gently
Flashlights blinking from on board
As crews make ready for the coming day.

They call the sea Yemanja here
She is alive
A personality with changing moods that beckon those on land
With siren’s playfulness . . . evocative
The promise of adventure
Whispered in the sound of crashing waves:
           Do not forsake me
           There is no good reason for a man to leave the sea
           I’m everything you want
           Your greatest love
           Both life and death
           All things between.
Her implorations spill from arms that want to hold
Cool wet shadow slipping through the sand
Returning to drowned lovers.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Henning Mankell's Bad News

This from a Swedish newspaper re-translated from a Google translation. So sad. Henning is one of my favorite fiction writers.

A few days into the new year , I traveled to an orthopedic surgeon in Stockholm, who previously had treated me . I went with a diagnosis of a painful herniated disc in my neck.
When I returned to Gothenburg the day after I did it with a serious cancer diagnosis.

Special memories of the trip home, I do not have. Only the stubborn gratitude to Eva Bergman , my wife, who was with me .\

A few days later I was at Sahlgrenska Hospital’s lung reception. Black and white: it was serious. I have a tumor in my neck and also a tumor in the left lung . In addition , there are suspicions the cancer has spread elsewhere in my body.This was just over 14 days ago. I am now going through the final investigation, and treatment options. My anxiety is very great , although I basically can keep it under control.

Very early , I decided to try to write about this because it is ultimately about a pain and suffering that afflicts so many people. But even with our astounding medical science, and a light that is often beyond the mists, I have decided to write just as it is . . . the difficult battle it always is. I will write from life’s perspective, not death .

I will do it at irregular intervals in GP.

I’m starting now.
I’ve started now.

Henning Mankell

Postcard From San Francisco



Sunday in the park
September – San Francisco
Band Shell orchestra
Beneath the last of warming suns
Conductor taps his wand
Preparing for the anthem
Some now stand
But others are too old, or tired.
A flock of pigeons flare above us
Startled by the sudden blare of brass and drums
Their loose formation makes a graceful, sweeping curve
With almost military grace
Above the scattered crowd
Eye glasses glitter
Watching as they wheel against a hard blue sky
Returning bravely to their nests when the triumphant noise has ended
They all know the score.

Pcard fm S.Fl

Monday, January 27, 2014



 Bruce Louis Dodson

Our enemy is faster
Without doubts and
Unencumbered by the cloth of ethics
Without mercy
Wearing skins of every race
Beyond the reach of simple justice.

Do not think that he is beaten in a single battle
Or in many
He will follow us through lifetimes
Killing as he goes
Unseen by most
And weakened only be the love of men
For one another
Strengthened by their hate and anger

Do not feed him!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Observing Sweden - Seeing the Light

The lights have been turned on in Borlänge! So much brighter here now that we have snow – a different world!
Since November I’ve been wondering about my eyesight. Was I losing it, I asked myself. Things happen as the years stack up. I noticed mostly when the sun went down, of course it really never gets that up this winter months in Sweden. I thought maybe it was just my night vision and started drinking lots carrot juice, with no apparent results.

A few days ago I was reading a novel and came across the term: European Half Watt. Ha! The truth began to dawn (pun unintended). When my wife came to join me in America she brought three dozen Swedish light bulbs (glödlampa). The strongest of these was 40 watts. They were to go into some lamps she’d brought and made operational using a 110/220 voltage transformer, but we never did. We ended up shipping them back to Sweden when we moved here late last summer, and installed them on our arrival, late March. I’d never thought that much about it until now.

One rarely sees a bulb of over 40 watts here, though I know they have them, probably on a back shelf somewhere. LEDs are popular, and conserve electricity which is far more expensive here than in the States. This is especially true during the winter months. Neighbors frequently mention lower power bills associated with the inclemently warm weather we are having, at the same time complaining about the lack of light. As a new immigrant here, the snow-less days seem incredibly dark. We fade to black around 3:30. Seems I’ve had less energy, and have been sleeping hours longer usual, but snow adds tons of lumens to the day, and even night.
*        *        *
On top of “sleepiness”, which most of us could probably deal with is the fact that our cortisol levels drop significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. That means that we’ll be more stressed, and have less ability to stabilize our energy levels. Here is how a normal cortisol level flow should look like:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Introverts - Part 4

Continued from Part 3

It’s interesting now to think about what happened  at the cocktail lounge. My meatball victim , extrovert. He saw the empty seat, the unescorted gal, and made his move without consideration of myself, surroundings or potential outcome. I on the other had taken a place one stool away from her, thinking a more direct approach might be an unwanted invasion of her space . . . seem pushy. I waited to make sure such a move would be welcomed and became absorbed with what to say next . . . how to break the ice. The other guy might have as easily taken the stool on her other side, but I’m sure that the result would have been the same, though he would have avoided the plate of meatballs.   

                        2. You go to parties but not to meet people.
                        If you’re an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties,
                        but chances are, you’re not going because you’re excited
                         to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time
                        with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If
                        you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great
                        but meeting people is rarely the goal.
                                                                        The Introvert’s Way – Sophia Dembling

Louder and More Forceful People
More excerpts and conclusions gleaned from Quiet, by Susan Cain
            We tend to see the more verbose and talkative as smarter, ever  though this isn’t true. In an experiment where total strangers met by phone, those taking most were thought to be more intelligent, more likable, and even better looking – sight unseen. Those talking fastest are perceived as more capable and appealing than those who speak softly and more slow.

The Bus to Abilene.  From  Yale Alumni Magazine – 2008.

            “A family is sitting on a porch in Texas on a hot summer day, and somebody says, ‘I’m bored, why don’t we go to Abilene?’ When they get to Abilene somebody says, “You know, I didn’t really want to go,’ and the next person says, ‘I didn’t want to go – I thought you wanted to go,’ and so on.”
            We tend to follow those who instigate action, any action. Takes one back to 9/11, all that happened after.
*            *            *
            Leaders thought more charismatic are invariably paid more than those of a more introverted nature, regardless of ability or lack of it. Bill Gates, Charles Schwab and Brenda Barnes (CEO of Sara Lee) are introverts, as well as Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks.
Parks’ well known bus ride was not her first encounter. Twelve years before she was asked to leave a bus because she came in thought the front door. She did so, after purposely dropping her purse on the floor and sitting down on the front seat to retrieve it – an act of passive resistance.  She then disembarked and did not ride the bus for the following twelve years, before she became the mother of the civil rights movement.

            Was Moses and introvert? The book of Numbers describes him as, “very meek.” When God tells him he is to be liberator of the Jews he responds, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?  I am slow of speech and tongue.” Most of us tend to see Moses as described by Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. A swashbuckling hero who does all the talking. I suspect that it was never so.

            Does God love introverts? I think no more than extroverts. I have just finished reading, The Preacher and the Presidents, by Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy . . . Billy Graham. Now there was a smooth talker, extrovert personified.
            We introverts tend to be an enigma to extroverts. But introverts have pretty good understanding of extroverts. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Observing Sweden - Weather Report 11 Jan 2014

It’s snowing at last

Here in Borlänge

            In Sweden

Took such a long time

To get what we’ve been needin’!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Introverts - Part 3

The Dating Game

In the Culture of Character men pursuing the opposite sex were expected to display a quiet sense of power and self control that did not need to flaunt itself. Shyness was, as always, unacceptable, but reserve was an indication of good breeding. 
“. . . . with the advent of the Culture of Personality, the value of formality began to crumble, for women and men alike. Instead of paying ceremonial calls on women and making serious declarations of intention, men were now expected to launch verbally sophisticated courtships in which they threw women “a line” of elaborate flirtatiousness. Men who were too quiet around women risked being thought gay; as a popular 1926 sex guide observed, “homosexuals are invariably timid, shy retiring.”     
                                                                                Excerpt from, Quiet – by Susan Cain

The game was rigged for extroverts before I got a chance to play.

*         *         *
A flock of years ago (when I was young) I was working a contract job as a design draftsman for Chevron on the twentieth floor of their building in the Financial District, downtown San Francisco. It was nineteen sixty something. 

Chevron Bldg – 575 Market Street

I was between girl friends, sorely in need, and not doing well at finding one. One day, after work I decided to try a popular cocktail lounge off Market Street. It was a white shirt, tie and sport coat sort of place, not really my bag, and expensive. But I was dressed for the occasion as Chevron had a similar dress code.

It was a nice place, extravagantly decorated with plants and paintings, almost formal – very San Francisco. I took a seat at the rather elegant bar, one stool between myself and a nice looking female my age who gave me an encouraging smile as I ordered a Beefeater martini. It arrived and was followed by a large plate of h’orderves, little meatballs swimming in some kind of sauce. It was accompanied by a small glass holding toothpicks to retrieve the snacks with, but I declined in fear of dripping on my shirt, or the bar. My objective was the seemingly available young lady who looked to be twenty something. I was doing my best at making small talk with her, and she seemed reasonably interested with my efforts until this guy walks in. 

He immediately bounced into the vacant stool between us and turned his back to me, successfully blocking any further conversation between myself and my quest. He was what Author Jim would call a competitive conversationalist, and began nonstop from the moment he landed, making any further attempt at conversation by myself impossible.
He never shut up! It was amazing, a veritable blitz of bullshit. I ordered another drink and watched him making his move which looked like it was going well, or at least he was holding her attention. This was by far not the first time something like this had happened to me, and by the time I had finished the second martini I was totally pissed. But there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Then . . . it was the gin I guess. I wasn’t me at all who lifted up the plate of meatballs and dumped the whole thing onto the guy’s lap. There was total silence for a moment. It was like the world stopped turning. 

Time was frozen and I didn’t wait for it to thaw. There was no single word or sound before I made it to the door, which was only a few yards away, and out onto the street. I ran like hell, zigzaging though the blocks, and back to Market Street where I caught a bus, laughing hysterically all the way home. It was an introvert’s revenge, a rotten thing to do, I guess. But God it felt good!  I confess to having never regretted it, and to this day would give anything to know what happened after I left.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Observing Sweden – Weather Report 7 January 2014

Observing Sweden – Weather Report 7 January 2014

Snowless in Sweden

Gray skies overhead
Hold nothing but false promise
Seems I might as well be somewhere
Down in the Bahamas!

Minus 5 Fahrenheit  in New York. Coldest day in last 100 years.
Here in Borlänge, Sweden, 6 degrees above freezing . . . average for this month and last. The warmest winter here in  fifty years – since they began recording. Snowfall was predicted again yesterday, but it didn’t happen.

Seems like it’s winter everywhere but here. And I was so prepared: with studded tires, and three pane windows, sub-floor heating, high top boots with cleats, long underwear, fur hat, a full length cowboy duster that weighs seven pounds. Wife knitted me a pair of fine wool mittens.


Snow Cannons: Note bare spot – top of hill.

Ski resorts are making do with man-made snow that keeps on melting. Upside is low power bills. Electricity is expensive here.

I was so ready! Careful what you wish for, people tell me. 
I don’t care. I wish for snow!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Introverts - Part 1


I’ve known I was one for a long time, but have never thought that much about it, even though I’ve been reminded now and then. Sometimes people ask me if there’s something wrong or, “What are you thinking?” I’ve never had a good answer for that. There was a bar I patronized in San Francisco. After a year of more or less steady attendance the bartender returning change said, “You don’t talk much do you?”

            “Nope,” I answered. Couldn’t resist that one.

            Most people are uncomfortable with silence, they make small talk, weather, sports . . . whatever. I’ve never been good at that, or at finding the silence I so often crave. Silence is hard to come by in this world of elevator music, sound in shops, and at the gym. Most people like this, or it seems that way. I suppose we don’t here all that much from those that don’t, except for writers, if you count the written, soundless words.
            “Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous. Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”
 *       *       *
            Extroversion is a cultural ideal. I make no judgment of this fact, but simply state that it is, what is . . . an extrovert’s world. My thoughts have been validated in: ‘Quiet,‘ a book by Sudan Cain – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s an interesting read, uplifting. On one of the pages she states, “…introverts are more likely that extroverts to express on line…” Interesting. 

             Extroverts tend to make decisions, or give answers to a question faster than an introvert, even if they’re not that sure of the answer. Politicians tend to be extroverts, she maintains. Sounds right to me, and scary. At the same time it’s been a relief to read these words. A bit of a psychic load removed from my back. Most folks have seemed much faster on the draw than me. I’ve tended to be self critical, even after seeing others make some huge judgment errors. I’ve never been good at group think, spitting out clever ideas. I have seen myself as a bit slow, unsure, and tended to keep my ideas in a mental incubator until I felt I could trust them.

            My best ideas seem to come on the way home, long after the meeting has been disbanded. I’ve noticed when I do have a good idea in these sorts of situations, sooner or later someone else will most likely come up with the same thought. And that’s been fine with me, no problem. Introverts tend not to be excited about fame and glory, the author tells us. I have sometimes worried over my lack of ambition . . . mid-seventies now and still have not made the cover of time magazine. My chances of being a rock star have been greatly diminished. Have I not tried hard enough? Did I not want it, (whatever that may be) enough?

            I need to stop before this gets too long, but I’ll be back. I think this is a subject worth pursuing.

Introverts - Part 2

Those who keep track of such things tell us introverts make up something between forty and fifty percent of the population. Fifty percent seems the more logical estimate, forty percent the more apparent one. We tend not to notice introverts. Needless to say none of us are one hundred percent of either. America is said to be extrovert nation. Sweden, a land of introverts, although I really have not noticed that since my arrival. Only thing that comes to mind is, locals don’t say Hi, to strangers. If you venture a Hi, (hey-hey, here in Sweden) to stranger in passing, they will ignore you. Outside of that, people here seem about the same as in the States.

What do these two terms really mean? Carl Jung’s book, Psychological Types ( 1921) was the first to describe Introvert and Extrovert as the building blocks of personality. He defined introverts as being drawn to the inner world of thoughts and feeling, and extroverts to external events, the world of people and activities. Personality psychologists are still arguing over his definition. Some say it’s outdated, others think Jung got it right. All agree introverts do best with less simulation and extroverts with more.  Extroverts find large groups and new people exciting. They enjoy cranking up the stereo. As a ninety proof introvert I found my fourteen years as an inner city high school teacher the most stressful time of my life. 
*        *        *
So when did this all come about? Susan Cain has provides some answers in her book, Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. She takes us back to the turn of the twentieth century and Dale Carnegie. Some of you my age may remember the name, and his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
America was shifting from a culture of character to a culture of personality (Warren Susman). The word, personality, did not exist in English until the eighteenth century. The very idea of having a good personality was not common until the twentieth century. Americans started to think about having a good personality and became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. “Every American was to become a performing self.” (Susman)
The Extrovert Ideal

Perhaps it was Carnegie who got us started on the road to a cultural evolution that changed who we were, and who we admired. Americans began to worry about how others perceived them. A Pandora’s box of new anxieties was opened. Susman lists a group of words used as character goals for the nineteenth century and compares them with those of the twentieth.

Nineteenth Century

Golden deeds

Twentieth Century

The 20th century goals are more difficult to obtain if you aren’t born with them.

In the middle twenties we began idolizing movie stars. Who better to exemplify twentieth century goals? We elected one president, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California. Clint Eastwood was sheriff of Carmel, CA 1986 to ’88.    Amazing!

More to follow.
Next -The Dating Game