Global Warming

Lots of discussion these days about what we mean by the term. Arguments and maybe battles over how such a thing might affect us and who caused the change are being waged.

There are those who, during a winter storm will stick a thermometer into the air and say “not warmer yet.”

That is why I don’t like the term “global warming.” I prefer something more descriptive, such as global energy gain.

If we consider the average world desk globe, say 16 inches in diameter, our breathable atmosphere could be represented in thickness by thin tissue paper and mountains by a tiny grain of sand. That atmosphere is where we live. The only place we can find a tolerable temperature and harvest energy. A place we can find water in all three states. It is also the place all meteorological events occur.

Along about this time you are probably asking “well, is he fer it or again’ it?” What I think doesn’t matter. What is important is that we arm ourselves with the facts. When we talk about solar energy gain, we are NOT talking about the temperature of the air we breathe, our atmosphere. We are talking the total kinetic energy in the effective surface of the earth. In other words, the interface of surface and atmosphere.

You will remember from your ninth-grade science class that all particles (atoms, molecules) are in constant motion with respect to each other, and the measure of average kinetic energy (motion energy) is called temperature. Also, since they are constantly running into each other, the faster the particles move, the farther apart they become (expansion.)

As water molecules gain energy they move farther apart and take up more space. This is not an opinion, but a fact we must live with. Ask the people of Miami. They are now experiencing street flooding at high tide as water flows backwards from the Atlantic through storm sewers. In other areas of the world, people are being moved out of houses which must be rebuilt on higher ground.

Most of the earth’s surface is covered by water and water is about seven times more efficient in absorbing and storing energy as air. Remember that energy is not created nor destroyed (except in nuclear reactions) but can be converted from one form to another. Energy always flows from greater to lesser (downhill.)

When you see a tropical depression form off the west coast of Africa, it gains strength as it travels over water, especially over the Gulf Stream. This current brings warmer water to the surface, primarily near the Gulf of Mexico.

Two factors vital to the strength of hurricanes are moisture and energy. Plenty of  these over open water and hurricanes are gaining strength each year. But whatever kind of storms, even winter storms, they all take energy from global energy sources.

Great Day

Great Day

Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I went to a local supermarket to get a few last-minute items. We always seem to forget something in our main food purchases. The parking lot was filled to overflowing and I had to hunt for a spot.

As I walked the aisles, list in hand, I found lines of shopping carts end-to-end plus stockers trying to replace items on empty shelves. This would not be a quick trip.

I marked my list, interrupted occasionally by a near collision, and the challenge began to take on a dream-like quality. I saw no frowns. Stockers cheerfully rose from their shelves to help customers find what they needed. Smiles acknowledged the call for teamwork and everyone played fair.

The lines were long, but checkout was efficiently and joyfully done. As I worked my way across the parking lot, I looked back toward the storefront to see if the appearance had changed into something more Disney-esque.

At this point in the story I could pull the old gag “And then I woke from my dream.” But this is the way it really happened. Almost a week later my mind goes back to that magical hour when people realized the situation and decided to go with the holiday spirit, respectfully working together to make the best of it.


A quote from Teddy Roosevelt

“At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress.”


                        We can stop gun violence when more people have guns…Wayne LaPierre

                        Texans should have open carry permits…Rick Perry

Saturday movie night in

a Texas theater

“Star Wars”

I hear a shot, see a man

in the aisle, aiming a Glock

take him down with mine

feel a bullet slap my shoulder

another shatters the wall beside me

gunshots flare like popcorn

muzzles flash like fireworks

then it stops

nineteen killed, thirty injured

only one knows

who fired the first shot


I am far behind
on my opportunities to use
those three words
so often thought, infrequently heard

I find myself wishing
for one more hour
with my parents

wishing I could go back with
my kids back to a younger age
to make up the deficit there

to listen a few moments to a friend
when I didn’t have the time

and my wife to whom
I can never say enough
I love you


The yard looked stunning yesterday.

When I finished mowing,

I trimmed round the roses,

headed the geraniums,

and walked to the street to look back on my work.

The house, as grey as

springtime fog,

with sage green shutters

was trimmed in gold by the brush of afternoon sun;

all now just a memory.

My yard is there, somewhere

beneath a pile of

cars, shingles, fence posts,

the house an open dance floor,

no orchestra in sight.

Perched like a giant bird

in the stub of a tree,

my refrigerator still holds yesterday’s leftovers

and eggs for today’s breakfast,

forever scrambled.

From a shredded branch of a magnolia tree

a mockingbird sings his joy:

for the bright sunshine,

for living another day.

I nod and sigh,

and a hesitant smile swells from deep within me

as I must,

in spite of everything,

join his celebration.


For our fallen military – Veterans Day

Fair Sunday morning

port of pearls

a child draped within mother’s arms—

battleship quays strung and fastened

swarms of flies disturb        awaken

a sleeping force gathers itself

to swat them away

fighter planes perched tip to tip

flightless, fall easy prey

Arizona, hit by piercing flare

ripped, gutted by stowed magazine

settles to her watery bed

as hundreds float stillborn within

Desperate dancers

search for space between bullets

a twisting, arching ballet

to tympani fortissimo, staccato snare

hot bite of shrapnel in treble screams

between oil and flames

a human log jam crowds the sea

with glass eyes and waxy fingers

wayward toe

torn lip that last kissed mother goodbye

others lie on stretchers

awaiting trial by triage

Uncle Roy’s dreams                Billy’s future             generations dissolved

suspended by marriage of powder and steel

in frothy, bleeding brine


Carl Shakey married Becky Tree

became my parents

so I was

Chuck Shakey-Tree

a few months ago I married

the beautiful daughter of

George Dull and Brenda Axe

my new bride, Charly

told me today of our pending child

but what a burdensome name for a child

learning to spell

Carl or Carla


Fishin’ Hole

I see the images as clear

as if yesterday

though I don’t remember much

from yesterday

My granddad took us

my brother and me

to a little fishing hole he knew

where there were sure to be fish

Our tackle – a cane pole

silk line, small hook

and a box or two of

tasty-looking worms

I saw the chuckle in

my brother’s eye

and was ready to learn

the science of the game

how to thread the worm

just so – to keep it on the hook

right away I felt a tug

and pulled to set the barb

my brother, excited,

wrapped his line around

an overhead branch, fish attached

we soon retrieved the three inch beauty

we filled a stringer with hand-sized

blue-green-gold bream

they flavored our afternoon

with pride

few afternoons since have

been spent so well

sharing fun and love

and a banquet of fish

Poor Choices

O, let America be America again –

The land that never has been yet –

And yet must be—          Langston Hughes


Children are foolish

to be born of parents

with no parenting skills

or the temerity

to be sick or malnourished

or to have nothing

and come to a land of plenty

or commit the crime

of darker skin, different tongue

as a nation proclaiming God

and rejecting His will

can we provide

for the least of these?

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