As the tall towers taken down in NYC two decades today were twin, so were the catastrophic events of that day, marked by terror and horror.

First, several facts:

1) After 9/11, the USA retaliated by invading Afghanistan, the country known to be harboring training camps of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the nefarious deeds of that day, and Al Qaeda.

2) In Afghanistan, the USA military routed the Taliban in 2001, although it would be another decade before they took out bin Laden, who had taken refuge in the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan.

3) The Taliban offered…


“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

  • William Shakespeare (1564–1616), “Henry VI,” Part II, Act IV, Scene II, line 73

I am not a lawyer.

Were I, I might not have included the above quote at the beginning of this piece.

In fact I think lawyers played a vital role in achieving the 1998 settlement against the tobacco industry when a massive $206B settlement was reached with 46 states.

Lawyers for the first states to settle were awarded $8.2B.

Although less than the often 33–50% contingency fee, that is still a lot of money.

Surely there must…


“The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”

  • Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979), American poet: “One Art.”

It is noon.

Not “High Noon,” the 1952 film wherein actor Gary Cooper, a lone sheriff in a cowardly town, faces the prospect of fighting a band of outlaws by himself and possibly losing his life in the process.

Nothing so dramatic and nail-biting.

No ticking clock for me.

Rather, I am taking a break from work.

For lunch.

I am grateful my site of choice is within walking distance.

I need the exercise.

Getting there isn’t difficult.

It is a somewhat seedy section of…


The first American to visit Afghanistan was Josiah Harlan (1799–1871), a strapping six-footer from Pennsylvania.

Affairs of the heart often determine the future.

In 1820, the woman to whom Harlan was engaged severed the engagement. Reason? She had changed her mind and married another.

Like some others (including some writers of memorable songs), he seems to have never gotten over the rejection.

Harlan vowed to remain in Central Asia and, having tasted misfortune, find his fortune. Having been pricked by a thorn, he now searched for a rose.

In 1838 he hoisted an American flag atop a summit in the…


(This is written for CA voters; other readers can move on, unless you have a bit of schadenfreude, in which case you might linger).

I returned home after a week away at work to a mound of mail. Admittedly, after I removed the what I consider to be junk mail (discounts, coupons, solicitations from NGOs), the mound is relatively small and comparatively manageable.

In that mound was correspondence about the upcoming CA governor recall election to be held on September 14.

The ballot is relatively simple, but the ramifications may not be.

It asks only two questions:

1) Should Gavin…


I rather like elephants.

Earth’s largest land animal, they’re majestic, incredibly strong, gentle, family-oriented, have prodigious memories and, when they get ready to die, they go off to a secret place without fanfare.

What’s not to like?

‘Elephant in the room’ is a metaphor for something so obvious it’s difficult to miss. Or is it?

Sometimes some do, in fact, lose track of the forest because of the trees.

The situation in Afghanistan is a mess.

That most people can agree on.

The USA invaded the country after 9/11 because the country was the supposed training ground for Osama bin…


“For after all, the best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), American poet

In my recent wanderings (as British author J R R Tolkien once observed, ‘Not all who wander are lost’), I noticed this establishment. So unusual was it I had to take a photo.

Car washes are not that uncommon, although, in certain communities (including my own), some owners of vehicles have taken to having their vehicles washed by professional washers, who bring their own supplies and equipment.

It seems to be a win-win situation. The worker, in…


“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”

  • Mother Teresa (1910–1997), nun and missionary

Just like we were assured by the Master, close to two millennia ago, there would always be poor in our midst, so it seems there will also be some other verities.

And I’m not talking about death and taxes, as Ben Franklin (1706–1790), one of the founding fathers of the USA, did.

Rather, something else.

A news item recently caught my eye. You can read it here:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/homeowners-yell-man-trying-save-162839611.html

A certain man named…


“Congruence is when the two selves fit harmoniously, when a person’s idealized self is congruent with their actual behavior.”

  • Grayson Perry (1960 — ), “The Descent of Man

It all started with a loose interior headliner. You know, that part of the car that, upon looking up at the dome light in the rough center of many vehicles, you see. It covers the perhaps unsightly parts that lie beneath, much as the integument covers the innards of the human body.

My commuter car is 18 years old.

It’s served me well.

One of the things I’ve learned over time is…


“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

  • Leonard Cohen (1934–2016), Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, novelist

My eldest brother is 12 years my senior. I am 12 years older than his eldest child, a daughter. She is 12 years older than my son, who is 12 years older than her eldest son. Then it stops there.

This particular niece met her husband while attending an overseas college. In addition to being a man of the cloth, he plays a mean guitar and game of ping pong. …

S M Chen

Truth seeker. Searching for the cracks, which let light in. Believer in something that lies beyond our ability to sense, and the commonality of humanity.

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