Friday, February 2, 2018

Incident at CVS (in which it is discovered that, yes, perhaps I am a Racist after all) ...

This happened yesterday at the CVS at Newburgh & 5 Mile. I went there to get some zinc lozenges to ward off the cough from the guy at work who refuses to stay home even though he is hacking up pieces of his broken lung (so to speak). In the back, near the cold remedies, I saw a young black mom with her 3 or 4 year old son. The kid was all bundled up against the Winter chill, like Ralphie in Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story." The woman was slim, and wore stylish plum trousers and Spanish-heeled ankle boots. The boy was asking for a toy, and though I couldn't hear her reply, it sounded as if she was going to refuse him. And that's when I had a thought I later regretted: I thought, if she can't afford to buy the kid a toy, maybe I'll offer to get it for him. But then my mind became engaged in finding the right kind of CVS generic ZiCam knock-off, which can be tricky. By the time I found the right stuff, the mom and son had walked off to the checkout. But, as fate would have it, I walked up to the checkout line right behind them. The kid was clutching a toy, so Mom had indeed agreed to buy him what he wanted. But now, he was holding a small bag of chocolate candy in his other (left) hand. And that's when I began to see what a great mother this woman was. The boy held up the candy and looked at his mother beseechingly. "What about this?" he asked, with his sad brown puppy dog eyes. "What about it?" asked the mom. The kid seemed stymied. Surely his mom must know what he meant. He wanted the candy in addition to the toy. Finally, he managed to softly say something to her, indicating that he would like the candy as well as the toy. "Maybe next time we come to CVS," Mom answered. "OK," the boy said, and put the candy back on the hanger he'd taken it from. His face was angelic. Compliant. He clearly adored and respected his mother. And then, it hit me about how evil my thought was of intruding on this amazing lady's mothering. She CLEARLY had everything well in hand. But even if she had not, my idea would have been a usurpation of her parental office of the rankest variety. In fact, it represented a treacherous attempt to sabotage the good work she had already done in raising her son. But not only that. Would I have had the same thought if this had been a young white mother? Possibly not. And then it hit me: The Bigotry of Low Expectations! How many times had I complained about Leftists when they exhibited this pernicious trait? A lot. And now I had been guilty of it. By now, the mom and son were gone, and I was paying for my items. But I caught up to them again in the parking lot. Their vehicle was parked next to my salt-white, once-orange Fiesta. I had caught them because it had taken Mom a while to fasten Junior into his car seat. I gave a smile and a grimace at the same time, as she zoomed off in her nice, clean, late-model Mercedes.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poem for Our 32nd Anniversary

Power of Two

(for Cindy on our 25 Wedding Anniversary)

Two-to-the-fifth years of both weal and woe.
All of those wedding guests, where did they go?
Thirty-two years ago: ring, kiss, and vow.
Where is the face of that company now?

Two for a honeymoon, four till we moved;
Eight for adoption to double our love.
Sixteen for schooling the children God gave.
Thirty-two closer to rest in the grave.

Doubling and doubling again down the years.
Two, four, eight, sixteen, each new power premiers
Doublings of joy, love, and high adoration;
Growing by binary multiplication.

Thus do our marital blessings accrue,
Exponents, both, for the power of two.

--Paul Erlandson, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2nd Annual Shinoda (Slot Car) Reunion!

It's almost time for the 2nd Annual "Shinoda Reunion", to be held at Downriver Speedway in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  Saturday, December 16.  Doors open and Noon.  Racing begins at 5pm.

Here is one of the entries that has been sent in to be raced by proxy.  This is a scratch-built, period-correct "Detroit Slider" style Thingie slot car.  The body is a Shinoda "Bullet" created by Gene Adams.  I've seen this in person, and it is exquisite!  It belongs in an art museum.

Lindsay Shepherd - Canadian University Goons Deny Her Free Speech

This is long, but SUPER important!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Poem - Beatrice Does My Laundry

Beatrice Does My Laundry

More than other men, grief-torn or merry,
That history has thought worthy of note,
I honor and adore great Alighieri,
And not alone for all the poems he wrote,
But for his tears of ecstasy and grief,
Which Dante wept and distilled into verse.
Of sufferers-from-love he was the chief,
His depth of feeling both blessing and curse.
I used to call on Dante, in the past,
For intercession in some special case.
For years, he made no answer, but at last
He spoke as clear as one speaks face to face:

“Look here, my son, what does this madness mean,
That you, the rich, play supplicant to me?
To watch my love, I had to find a ‘screen’,
But you can watch your love completely free!
For you have wife and muse in self-same soul,
And every poem you write her, you can sign.
Your love can both fulfil the Beatrice role,
And kiss you as the clock is striking nine.”

I took his sense, and troubled him no more:
The wealthy must not beg alms of the poor.

© 2017, Paul Erlandson

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eliot Erlandson Interviewed about Thingies and the 2017 Shinoda Reunion!

My son Eliot is becoming a big wig in the sub-sub-subculture of vintage Thingie slot car racing!  Check out this interview with him:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Top 10 Ways My Parents Gave Us the Best Childhood EVER

I was thinking this morning what a great childhood I had.  It made me want to capture some of the things that my parents did well in raising us four kids.  So, here are my Top 10 Reasons my parents gave us the greatest childhood.

1.  Raising us in Champaign, Illinois.  Okay, this one may have been partially just luck.  But I have to say that Champaign was the optimum place to raise kids, because of the diversity of experience it provided.  Just across Duncan Rd to our West was a vast cornfield.  It's still there, in fact.  A few miles to the East was the University of Illinois with all of its rich cultural opportunities.

2.  Books!  Our parents had books all over the house.  It was like living in a library.  I could just wander along a bookshelf until some title captured my imagination, take down the book, and begin reading.  This was how I came to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X at age 9.

3.  Exposure to Dad's work colleagues.  My dad had some interesting, brilliant, and quirky friends at work.  Often they would come and visit our house.  Sometimes, we would visit their homes.  I never felt as if my parents were chasing us away when they had adult company.  We got to be there, and had equal access to these fascinating people.

4.  Music.  Mom and Dad had a pretty decent sized record collection.  It had a fairly wide range, so that we were exposed to multiple styles:  classical, jazz, pop, folk, and country.  They also paid for me and my sister to take piano lessons.  

5.  Hosting missionaries in our home.  Several times, Christian missionaries (mostly ones supported by the local church we attended) were guests in our homes.  This gave us a look at the larger world, and an inside view of the work of Christian missionaries.

6.  Hard work, competition, and capitalism.  My dad was an officer in the USMC, so he had very stringent standards about shining shoes and boots.  He set up a competition between us kids.   Every week, one of us shined his left work shoe, and the other one shined the right shoe.  We got paid 10 cents for this.  But it was also a contest.  After we were done, he judged who had done the better job.  That kid got to shine one of the shoes the next week (and thus, keep earning dimes).  The one who didn't win had to step down and make room for another challenger the following week.  This one simple exercise taught us so many life lessons.

7.  The Gospel.  Before all else, our parents were Evangelical Christians.  So they were careful to explain the Gospel to us in ways we could understand.  Their care and concern for our salvation was continuous and obvious.

8.  Anti-Racism.  Our parents had friends of other races.  They were welcome in our home, and we in theirs.  For a while, we drove the kids from a black family across town to Sunday School and Church with us.  I had no idea that this kind of thing was rare in 1967 or 1968.  Once, after dropping this family off at home after church, I made what can be considered a racist remark.  I was about ten years old.  The gravity and almost violence of my father's response against this (as well as his detailed explanation of why I was wrong to say what I did) shaped the entire rest of my life.

9.  Poetry.  For a Marine Corps officer, my dad sure had a lot of poetry memorized.  He understood it, too.  But most of all, he made us know that poetry was not some unmanly pursuit.

10.  They stayed married.  Of course, they had their difficult moment, like any married couple.  But they got through them and stayed together.  They're still together.