Monthly Archives: May 2010

A broken pool, nasty smells, a suprise party and Mother’s Day

We’ve had a busy Saturday this Mothers Day Weekend, so Mrs. Poolman decided to go low energy today.

We co-hosted and provided the venue for a surprise birthday party for our son-in-law yesterday.  Our daughter and SIL’s condo is too small for the roughly 20 people they wanted to invite. Besides, it would be tough to prepare a surprise party in the house where the guest of honor lives.

We wanted to make it a pool party, but those plans were thwarted by mechanical difficulties.  When I got home from work on Thursday, I noticed the pool pump motor was running, but it wasn’t pushing any water. I didn’t have time to mess with it that evening. We called the pool repair folks on Friday. They won’t be here until Monday. In the meantime, I tried to figure out the problem and repair it myself.  I think I have it narrowed down to a blockage in the pipe that leads from the pool to the pump. I tried several things to break the plug, including a plumber’s snake, but with no success. I hope the pool repair people have better luck tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Saturday night party went very well. SIL was totally surprised and everyone seemed to have a good time. The last stragglers didn’t get out of here until 2:30 am. Oy!

We did hit one hitch. Just before the party guests arrived, I had been smelling something odd, but couldn’t place it. It was a sour odor, like fermenting hay or the like. I finally narrowed it down to Sammy the Dog. I have no idea what she may have gotten into. We spread some pine straw that afternoon. Maybe there was something in that. I don’t know. In any case, although we were expecting the doorbell to ring at any moment, I dragged her out to the basketball court and gave her a bath. Sammy was not happy, but she got over it.

Mrs. P and I didn’t start functioning until around noon after that late bedtime. We celebrated Mother’s Day with an early afternoon lunch at our favorite seafood place. Nothing says “I love you” like a basket of hot fried shrimp. Yum!

We ran some errands and then came home to do laundry, update the checkbook and pay bills – all the usually weekend stuff that you need to do to keep it going.

On to the work week…

Entering the home stretch

Our CCD season is in the home stretch, and it isn’t coming any too soon. I think both the volunteer teachers and the students are starting to burn out.

I was a little concerned about how last night’s class was going to go, but it worked out fine. We covered the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony. Each year, I worry about teaching the Church’s position on marriage. Officially, the Church looks at marriage vows as a life-long commitment, and does not sanction divorce. The trick is to get this idea across to my 5th graders as something they should strive for without seeming to take any  shots at their possibly divorced parents, siblings or other relatives.

At the beginning of the year, I sent a note home to all the parents, asking them to advise me of any family circumstances of which I should aware, so I did not say anything to present a difficult or embarrassing situation to one of my students. I mentioned that we would be covering both the Ten Commandments (ie: adultery, coveting your neighbor’s wife, etc) and the Sacrament of Matrimony.

One mom sent me an email saying that she was relatively recently divorced and remarried and she had some concerns about the effect of those class sessions on her son.  We communicated back and forth throughout the year. Last week, I sent her an email to advise her that the class on matrimony would be this week. She would be most welcome to sit in on the class, or alternately to hold her son out for a week. I was really very flattered when she responded that, based on the information she had received from me and her son, she would be comfortable having her son participate in that class.

In any case, we got through last night’s class without any major bumps in the road.

We have one more regular class session, and then an end-of-the-year party. It’s too bad 10 and 11 year olds can’t drink margaritas. I think we’ve all earned it.

In defense of evil…sort of…

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

A couple of recent developments have caused me to rethink the popular notion that no good can come from evil.

I am judging entries for a local film festival. The subject of one video I watched last week profiled a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Naturally, it was very sympathetic towards him and the Japanese of August 1945. It gave me something to think about, but probably not in the direction the film maker intended.

I am no historian, but I read a lot. Over the course of the past year or two I have read several history books on the final months of World War II, including  Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard Frank; Retribution by Max Hastings; and Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945 by Barrett Tillman.

It seems easy in the light of the 21st century to cast the US as a malevolent nuclear monster and the Japanese as innocent victims in the atomic bombings. This is a popular view to some, but such casting ignores the realities of 1945.

The Japanese initiated a war of conquest that they waged with incredible brutality against both the military and the civilian populations of their foes.

By the summer of 1945, the Japanese government was dominated by die-hard militarists who were quite willing to sacrifice both their country’s military forces and civilian population “for the honor of the Emperor,” rather than admit the obvious fact that that they were defeated.  They were willing to die to the last man, woman and child.

It is quite unrealistic to believe the Allied Powers would simply walk away after having driven Japan to the brink of defeat. So, aside from nuclear bombardment, there were only two other options available to the Allies.

1.) A continuation of the campaign of fire-bombing and naval blockade, which had already destroyed most Japanese cities and much of  Japanese economy, and killed hundreds of thousands. A continuation of this campaign would have undoubtedly resulted in the deaths of millions of Japanese by either starvation or incineration.

2.) Invasion – In addition to the deaths and wounding of more than (estimated) 100,000 American and British soldiers, sailors and Marines, an invasion would have likely resulted in the deaths of more than a million Japanese, military and civilians.

In light of these options, the deaths of roughly 200,000 Japanese in the two nuclear bombings seem mild by comparison. As horrible as the nuclear bombings were, ultimately they were the least of the possible evils, not just to the Allied servicemen, but also to the Japanese. The callous conclusion is this; there are millions of Japanese who are alive today because the war ended when it did and their parents or grandparents were not killed by additional bombing, blockade or invasion. The misfortune of the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became their good fortune.

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On a similar note, but closer to home, the fortunes of millions of African Americans living today were benefited by the tragedy that was impressed on their ancestors. By 21st century values, there is no debate about the evil of slavery in this country. The capture, transport and forced enslavement of Africans and their descendents in America was a tragic evil imposed on those who experienced it.  However, seven generations later, the descendents of those American slaves benefit greatly from the misery to which their ancestors were subjected. If it were not for their ancestors being forcibly brought to this country, it likely most of the African Americans of today would have been born in equatorial Africa. S0, instead of living in a land rampant with civil war, poverty and disease, the descendents of American slaves are born in a country with perhaps the highest standard of living and the greatest total opportunities in history.

I’m sure that is not what the plantation owners and slave traders intended, but it’s amazing how things sometimes turn out.