T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freedom - by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Freedom" visualized
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet.

There in her place she did rejoice,
Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
Came rolling on the wind.

Then stept she down thro' town and field
To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal'd
The fullness of her face -

Grave mother of majestic works,
From her isle-alter gazing down,
Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks,
And, King-like, wears the crown:

Her open eyes desire the truth.
The wisdom of a thousand years
Is in them. May perpetual youth
Keep dry their light from tears;

That her fair form may stand and shine
Make bright our days and light our dreams,
Turning to scorn with lips divine
The falsehood of extremes!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monster in our Midst - by Emily Gurnon

Monster in Our Midst (Wolf in Sheep's Clothing)
by Emily Gurnon *
St. Paul Pioneer Press (8/11/2014)
==== /// ====
Years ago, he was a young Minnesota priest -- and alleged rapist. 

The Rev. Kenneth LaVan began sexually abusing girls with his first parish assignment in the 1960s and later threatened to burn down a woman's house and have her husband killed -- yet he was not removed from active ministry in the Twin Cities until last year, according to court and internal church records.

The Rev. Kevin McDonough told then-Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2005 that while he knew of LaVan's "boundary violations with adult females, I had forgotten that there were two allegations in the late 1980s concerning sexual involvement with teenaged girls."

There were "significant doubts" about the girls' stories, however, McDonough told Flynn.
Nevertheless, he raised the possibility of "reopening an investigation into these old matters." Flynn said that wasn't necessary.
An early allegation against LaVan was by a girl who said the priest raped her when she was 14 or 15 at the Church of St. Raphael in Crystal, where he served from 1965 to 1970.

Psychologist Gary Schoener was hired by the archdiocese to examine LaVan. He also evaluated the girl's account and that of another teenager, who said LaVan kissed her "passionately," backed her up against a wall and fondled her. The abuse began when she was between the sixth and seventh grade, she said.
LaVan denied "anything close to" a rape, though Schoener said he believed LaVan was minimizing events with both girls.

"The alternative -- that these stories are fabrications -- seems extraordinarily unlikely," Schoener wrote. Putting him back in a pastoral or counseling role, he said, would be "very risky."
Schoener's examination of LaVan followed reports of his involvement with several women.

Among them, an adult parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Lake St. Croix Beach, where LaVan was assigned from 1983 to 1985, told Bishop Robert Carlson that LaVan "became very upset" when she ended a sexual relationship between them.

LaVan harassed her family, "frequently went up and down in front of their house and surprised (her) on the beach," according to a 1985 memo from Carlson to then-Archbishop John Roach. The woman's husband confronted him and told him to leave them alone.
When she continued to rebuff him, LaVan "mentioned a threat about possibly burning down the house ... 'or have your husband murdered, but I am not that kind of person,' " Carlson quoted LaVan as saying.
In all, LaVan was accused of sexually abusing at least three girls and several women. One had previously suffered a brain injury and was under psychiatric care at the time of the abuse, which church officials recognized as making her particularly vulnerable.

He was removed from ministry in December 2013 only after media scrutiny on the mishandling of sexual abuse by priests in the archdiocese. The archdiocese [finally!] disclosed his name as an abuser in February 2014. 

Kenneth LaVan

[LaVan, 81, now lives in Oakdale.]

*Source: (excerpted from)- http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26315413/twin-cities-priest-accused-sex-abuse-job-until?source=email


Thursday, August 21, 2014

20 Things the Dog Ate - by Brian Doyle

"What? Don't look at me ..."
20 Things the Dog Ate *
- by Brian Doyle -
===== ~~~ =====

Sweet mother of the mewling baby Jesus! You wouldn’t think a creature that likes to watch Peter O’Toole movies would be such an omnivorous gobbling machine, but he has eaten everything from wasps to the back half of a raccoon. And let us not ignore the beaver. Speculation is that beaver was washed up onto road when the overflowing lake blew its dam, was squashed by a truck, and then got flattened ten thousand times more, and then summer dried it out hard and flat as a manhole cover, and the dog somehow pried it up, leaving only beaver oil on the road, and ate it. Sure, he barfed later. Wouldn’t you?

I kid you not. Sparrow falls from nest in the pine by the fence, flutters down ungainly to unmerciful earth, dog leaps off porch like large hairy mutant arrow, gawps bird, in half an instant. Man on porch roars drop it! Dog emits bird with a choking coughing sound, as if disgusted by a misplaced apostrophe. Bird staggers for a moment and then flutters awkwardly up to fence post. I wouldn’t have believed this if I had not seen it with my own holy eyeballs. Wonder how fledgling bird explained that adventure to mom.

I don’t even want to think about this ever again. Crayola. The big box—sixty-four crayons, all colors. Sure, he barfed later. Sure he did. Wouldn’t you?

Every summer. Even though he gets stung again and again in the nether reaches of his mouth and throat and jumps up whirling around in such a manner that we laugh so hard we have to pee. He cannot resist snapping them out of the air as if they were bright bits of candy, and then making high plaintive sounds like a country singer on laughing gas. I have to pee.

Why would you ever do such a thing? What could possibly look less appetizing than an oozing quivering deceased jellyfish? Yet he does. Sure, he barfs.

Pencil nubs. Lacrosse balls. The cricket ball a friend sent me from Australia. Pennies. Postcards. Sports sections. Bathrobe belts. Kindling sticks. Kazoos. Most of a paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Most of a cell-phone charger. Pen caps. Toothbrushes. One of two tiny sneakers that belonged to a child one month old, although to be fair it wasn’t like the kid was actually using the sneakers.

I think the squirrel was suicidal. If you were a squirrel the size of a banana, and you could evade a dog with the athletic gifts and predatory instinct of Michael Jordan, would you venture down to the grass for any reason whatsoever, knowing that the dog could change you from present to past tense in less than a second? Would you? Me neither. But the squirrel did. The skull appeared magically in the grass two days later. The dog declined to eat the skull a second time, probably for religious reasons, or maybe because he knew he would barf. Wouldn’t you?
* Source: The July/August 2013 issue of Orion magazine

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Black and Blue" - by TPO


Autopsy: Ferguson youth shot six times *
by Frances Robles and Julie Bosman
New York Times
===== #### =====

FERGUSON, Mo. -- Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose death at the hands of police sparked protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed Sunday found.

One of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family's request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of the bullets to hit him, he said.

Brown was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired from the front.

"People have been asking: how many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day One," Baden said in an interview Sunday after performing the autopsy.

"They don't do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that." [Baden elaborated.]

Professor Shawn Parcells, a pathologist assistant based in Kansas, assisted Baden.

"You do this for the families," Parcells said.

The two medical experts conducted the four-hour examination Sunday at the Austin A. Layne Mortuary in St. Louis. Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Brown's family who paid their travel expenses, hired them.

"The sheer number of bullets and the way they were scattered all over his body showed this police officer had a brazen disregard for the very people he was supposed to protect in that community," Crump said. "We want to make sure people understand what this case is about: This case is about a police officer executing a young unarmed man in broad daylight."

Baden stressed that his examination was not to determine whether the shooting was justified.

"In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, 'You're not supposed to shoot so many times,' " said Baden, who retired from the state police in 2011. "Right now there is too little information to forensically reconstruct the shooting."

TPO's Note: - In spite of all the anger and other confused and irrational mindsets going on all sides, some matters have been accepted as incontrovertible facts.

1 - Michael Brown was unarmed.

2 - He was violently killed by an armed police officer.

At this point, post-fact  justifications for the killing do not appear to hold water from whatever angle you look at them.
* Source - http://www.twincities.com/nation/ci_26355623 (08/17/2014)

Friday, August 15, 2014

TMS, my TMS ! - by Hénock Gugsa

TMS (Tafari Makonnen School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

Hénock, age 12TMS, my TMS !
by Hénock Gugsa
/// ~~~ ///

I was only nine-years old when I began my serious schooling at TMS (Tafari Makonnen School) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The year was 1958, and I'd joined the 3rd grade, class "3-B" to be exact.  The school’s director was Monsieur Prévost, and Monsieur Gagnon was the assistant director.  At that time, TMS had in attendance both boarding (adarii, in Amharic አዳሪ) and day students (temelalash, in Amharic ተመላላ).  The grades began at 3rd and ended at 12th.  So, as a result, there were students as young as eight and nine years of age or as old as eighteen, nineteen, or older.  And certainly, TMS was an institution unto itself, with a tradition and dignity all its own.

The school was founded by the late Emperor Haile Selassie in 1926 before he was coronated and while he was still Regent to the Crown.  He was then known as Tafari Makonnen, and hence the school’s name.  Back then, it is generally agreed, Tafari Makonnen was a progressive, and future-oriented leader who valued "education" and the youth of his country as vital national resources.  He wisely elicited the assistance and support of foreign friends, in particular Canadians.  And perhaps because the Emperor was a French speaker, the school began getting French Canadians as both instructors and administrators.  To name a few of the long-time and well-remembered French Canadians at TMS, we had Messieurs Zipfel, Prévost, Richer, Plamondon, Gagnon, Laurendeau, Beaudry, Charpentier, Viens, Gagnier, Gareau, Payeur, and Turenne.

From my first day of school at TMS, I was simply overwhelmed and in awe of what was being offered there.  There were wonderful buildings with clean classrooms, good furniture, and excellent teachers of all mix … Ethiopians, Indians, Canadians, Americans, etc.  There were, at least, three soccer fields, two basketball courts, a volleyball court, and also a tennis court (although that one was strictly for faculty).  I, of-course, was enthralled by the playground with swings, climbing poles, etc. To this day, I sure miss those swings!

As a freebie, our Canadian benefactors introduced us to an unheard-of sport: softball !  And they supplied all the gear and everything!  I remember Mr. Laurendeau hitting home-runs.  The ball would be irretrievably gone ... gone into the neighboring Israeli Embassy grounds! What fun!

Up until 1961, I believe, we used to have a TMS soccer team (Shewangizaw Agonafir, Kiros Lakew, and Tibebu Menkir were some of our star players).  We, the students, used to stay after school and cheer our team during inter-school games.  We were pretty good!  On "TMS Day", the students' team would go up against the teachers' team.  This grown-up group consisted of at least one or two Canadians and a consistently wonderful cast of Ethiopian teachers (Ato Zelleke, Ato Begashaw, and others whose names my fellow schoolmates are sure to remember!)

The classroom courses were Amharic, English, Mathematics, Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Social Sciences (History and Geography), and French (above ninth-grade).  There were Current Events, and Debating clubs (remember Mesfin Habtu!).  We even had a fine auditorium for audio-visual, and other presentations.  And in the earlier years, we had a marching band with school colors, etc. for parades and such.  And everyday in the morning, we used to sing the national anthem outside in front of the flag pole! 

What else did the school offer?  Oh yes ... there was carpentry, book-binding, carpet weaving, gardening, gymnastics (physical exercise and a free shower at the end), a small student-run bank, a mini radio station operated by students, and last but not least, boy-scouting!

In the eight years that I spent at TMS (1966 being the last year), I was one of the fortunate recipients of a very fine education, and wonderfully enriching influences.  I still appreciate the good works of teacher Abebe (whose son, Minasse, was a schoolmate and a friend), and teachers : Kassahun, Bravinder, Rodrigue, Beaudry, Laurendeau, and Turenne.  I also fondly remember Teacher Assafa ("the scientist")!  It is a great testament to the school that any former student can cite the names of more than two teachers as good benefactors.  If exceptions are to be made, they will surely be minimal.

In conclusion, what is the best tribute I can pay to my old school?  I can state confidently that TMS had a supremely outstanding and unique feature, namely its democratic modus operandi.  All students were equal in the eyes of the school.  It did not matter if you came from a rich or a poor family, and your ethnicity or religion had absolutely no place or effect on your status as a student.  The only thing that would distinguish you was your performance … your diligence in your studies, in sports, and other extra-curricular activities.  We, the students, developed respect for our elders and for each other.  To a large extent, I am sure that we have all turned out very well!

Thank you, TMS!

The remains of the old swings at TMS !

** TMS photos by Yafet Tekle **

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fred Astaire, Magnifique! - by TPO

Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire - A Class Act!
~~~~~ === ~~~~~
An amazing Fred Astaire, age 71, was spry as ever at the 42nd Academy Awards (1970).

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ever-present Self - by Hénock Gugsa

The Ever-present Self 
- by Hénock Gugsa -

Awake ... yet again!

ummm ... ummm ... ummm .... aahh .... yawn (and a slight burping sound) ....

Recognition of sensation of light and warmth is next. But it takes a few seconds before the sense of self-awareness takes over. Aha, so this is a living spirit inside a vessel known as a human body. Strange ... but why does this happen a lot lately ... this feeling of being an alien on a rent-a-body mission? The good thing today, however, is that this "self " is not feeling any aches or pains anywhere on the body's acreage. Correction: a little tremor or twitch is happening to the big toe on the left foot!

Alas! Got to get out of bed and go to the bathroom ... the bladder needs to be relieved. And that is done. The self is slowly transforming to the first person singular. And so, I am at this point halfway awake, but I still want to crawl back into bed, curl myself up and attempt to return to whatever or wherever I came from. So I am back in bed and I get into a quasi-zen meditative zone.

I attempt to analyze the self: What am I? Where am I? Why am I here? Where is here? Where was I before I was here? Is here here and was it here before it was here? If here was not here where was it? If here is not here where is it? Will here be here always or is here here only now? Oh, yes ... now! When is now now? If now is not now is it then then? Will now be then tomorrow? And will tomorrow be now? If so, is now always now?! ....

And so it goes ad infinitum. But my head has cleared up and I am able to open my eyes wide and face the day. 

Now seems permanent, and the spirit in the self senses that it will always be around somewhere, everywhere!