Monthly Archives: February 2012

Execution in Florida

An execution took place in Florida today.

Debbie Kammerer was brutally beaten, raped and killed 32 years ago in St. Petersburg. Robert Waterhouse was convicted of the crime. He had previously been convicted of raping and strangling a 77-year-old woman in New York in 1966. I have not been able to find her name in any of the postings. He served eight years behind bars before being paroled for that conviction.

Today, the state of Florida executed Robert Waterhouse. He maintained his innocence in relation to the murder of Debbie Kammerer as recently as 1995. Through the years the courts disagreed.

Nothing can justify these crimes. I grieve for the unnamed victim and for Debbie Kammerer. I grieve for those who love them. I wonder at the system that allowed his parole.

Yet for all that, I cannot condone his execution. Violence feeds violence. There has to be another way.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty

A bit of love

Be like the old fool here. Grab yourself a bit of love and wait for Armageddon.

  • Connie Sachs, Smiley’s People

Intriguing advice for Valentine’s Day.

While waiting to see the new version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, I decided to go back to the past and revisit Alec Guiness‘ take on George Smiley. I added the two series to my Netflix queue.

Smiley’s People arrived first. Episodes One through Four filled last evening. Tonight brings the conclusion: Episodes Five and Six. It does not disappoint: a great story, well done with a fine cast leads to fine entertainment.

As he tracks Karla down, Smiley interacts with many of his past associates. He visits Connie Sachs, played by Beryl Reid in a Bafta TV Award winning performance, famed in the Circus for her memory.

Sachs and Smiley spar as he seeks to learn what she remembers. At one point in the conversation, she encourages him to give up the pursuit and: “Be like the old fool here. Grab yourself a bit of love and wait for Armageddon.”

It remains unclear how seriously she means that advice. She does not take it herself: she does not simply wait, but she engages in the hunt as she combs her memory for the bits of information that might help Smiley.

Perhaps it work in part – when we find love – or when love finds us – in whatever form that love comes –  taking hold as well as we are able.

May it be so for all people.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Books, Movie

Waiting, wondering

Hines Ward

Hines Ward (Photo credit: LZ Creations)

The waiting, the wondering began in the middle of last season.

His infectious smile and aggressive style won me over long ago. Not the prototype wide receiver, he parlayed an incredible work ethic into a starter’s role. Once there, his willingness to block set him apart. He set the standard for a blocking wide receiver. Blessed with good hands, he played long enough to set Pittsburgh Steelers career records for receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs. He served as a mentor to others who came along to wear the black and gold.

As the 2011 season progressed, Hines Ward‘s role diminished. Younger, swifter receivers found the ball spiraling into their hands. Waiting, wondering. Had the end arrived? Late in the year, the Steelers worked hm into the lineup often enough to catch his 1,000th pass in the last game. Waiting, wondering.

The season ended with a bitter disappointment in a playoff game with Denver. The waiting, the wondering continued. Will Pittsburgh re-sign Hines Ward?

He has stated publicly that he wants to retire as a Steeler. He has stated publicly that he wants to play at least one more year. Those two propositions may not come together even though he has also stated publicly that he will take a pay cut to make it happen.

Ward has two years remaining on his contract. The Steelers owe him a roster bonus in the near future. That means the waiting cannot last too long.

On Saturday a report appeared that the Steelers had reached the decision not to keep Hines Ward. The report came from The Steelers and Ward himself report have made no decision one way or the other.

Should he stay, Ward would likely be the fourth receiver on the depth chart, perhaps even the fifth receiver. His playing time would diminish; he might even be inactive at times. But he would bring his incredible presence to the locker room. A difficult decision lies ahead. Imagining the Steelers without Hines Ward or imagining that smile encased in a helmet colored other than black and gold makes my stomach hurt.

I am but a fan. My waiting and wondering cannot match that of Hines Ward and the Steelers organization.

I am but a fan. Football is only a game. In this world, my sisters and brothers wait wonder about the source of their next meal; or if their child will make it safely home; or if they will make it through the checkpoint without being harassed and abused; or if this will finally be the interview where they receive the offer of a job; or if the doctor will say “cancer” or “AIDS” or whatever word holds fear; or if the armed marauders will come over the hill to kill or rape. My waiting and wondering pales beside matters of real concern.

I know all that. I admit it freely.

But I am a fan.

So I wait and wonder.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Football

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen? I posed that question on Facebook yesterday.

I watched Hamlet the other day – the Kenneth Branagh version. Actually I re-watched it for at least the third or fourth time.

In the viewing, I found that for all the elaborate visuals, the costumes, the strong performances, and the interesting casting selections (Jack Lemmon comes to mind), the basic story remains somewhat depressing. Powerful. Compelling. Amazing. All that to be sure. Yet the word depressing also springs to mind. It seems a hard to word to avoid when most of the major characters die along the way and corpses litter the last scene. Perhaps Fortinbras and the Norwegians see the tale of death as  a happy tragedy.

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

A number of factors may contribute to the use of the word depressing, not just the story line:

  • A movie may fail to engage us or even interest us (I have walked out on a couple in my day).
  • A movie may offend us.
  • A portion of a movie may touch our lives in painful ways.
  • A movie may leave us wishing we had those moments of our life back.
  • A poorly made movie may leave us wondering what could have been.
  • Some or all of those factors may combine in the same film.

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

A depressing movie does not always correlate with my judgement of a movie’s quality. Movies may tell depressing stories extremely well. As noted above, I have viewed several versions of Hamlet several times. Well, I could only make it through the Mel Gibson version once, but I have viewed other versions , including Branagh’s, multiple time.

Excellence and a depressing tale may coexist. Profound insights may move us to acts of  peace, justice, and love.

On the other hand, I have disliked plenty of movies I would not consider depressing. The Green Lantern springs to mind.

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

My friends and family responded with quite a list. Several insights came to me as I read their list:

  • I have seen almost all the films they named.
  • Of those I have seen, I would have put most, not all, of them on my list of films with depressing story lines.
  • One of my favorite movies was named and affirmed. It would not appear on my list.
  • Of course, I asked people for their opinion – not to guess mine.
  • While I had seen almost all of named movies, I only owned one of them – the one that would not appear on my list.
  • That strikes me as a good thing.

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

I went with a subset of that question. What is the most depressing movie that I own? After some reflection and some looking, I went with Paths of Glory Several others came to mind as I watched.

What is the most depressing movie you have ever seen?

I realize I ask from a point of privilege. I have the disposable income to own and go to movies. I have the leisure time to watch and reflect on movies. And I have the technology and the time to blog about it all.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Family, Friends, Movie


Letters combine, collide, dance
still fail to make a word.

Do they notice?
Do they feel unfulfilled?

These letters strung together
piling up beside each other

yet creating nothing
providing no meaning?

10 February 2012
Shire near the Hudson

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Filed under Poem

A meander

Kevin strikes again.

A group of us gathered today to talk to him – to learn from him about his work with indigenous peoples in the UN community. Before he began, someone mentioned something about his lecture.

He calmly replied:

It won’t be a lecture; it will be more of a meander.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Past glory

In the course of a meeting yesterday, my friend Kevin and I had a brief exchange about a possible site for a meeting that reflected on the passage of time and its effects on all of us.

Kevin: I’ve always wondered what that building looked like on the inside.

Mark (me): Past glory is the word I would use.

Kevin: Well isn’t that true for all of us.

Mark (me): Indeed.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends

A reversal

Life can change in the twinkling of an eye – or at least very quickly some times.

On Monday, an attorney representing Edward Hart Turner had persuaded a U.S. District Court to block, temporarily, Turner’s execution. The argument did not dispute Turner’s guilt. Rather it focused on a Department of Corrections policy that apparently prevented Turner from getting tests about his mental health at the time of killings.

It appeared that the Mississippi would step back and determine if Turner was mentally ill before it decided if it would take his life.

Today things changed. Quickly. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the stay. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the execution. The Governor of Mississippi refused a reprieve.

And Turner received a lethal injection this evening – 8 February 2012 – as scheduled.

Nothing can defend the brutal murders of Eddie Brooks and Everett Curry.

However, nothing can justify execution by the state of someone whose mental health, and ability to understand what they are doing, is in question.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty

S is for Service Corps

Here’s the deal on the Service Corps at Ghost Ranch:
you pay half-price for room and meals;
you kick in $75;
you work 20 hours or more a week;
and you get a T-shirt.

Plus you get a week at the ranch!

Tricia and I took part last year.
We weeded.
Cut wood.
Rebuilt signs.
Made a supply run to Santa Fe.
Met some great folks.

I took some pictures, too.

This was the first time we had done this.
It probably will not be the last.

On the one hand,
participation in the Service Corps involved paying
to do work that I go out of my way
to avoid doing at any of the places I call home.

On the other hand,
participation in the Service Corps provided an opportunity
to meet and work with amazing people and
to make a difference at a place that means a great deal to m

The other hand wins.

16 July 2011

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Filed under Family, Friends, Ghost Ranch People, Photo

Two cities, Dickens, and me

English: Detail from photographic portrait of ...

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It was three years of drudgery; it was thirty-six months of joy.

It started in a small city; it involved a metropolitan area.

Yes. I have read my share of novels by Charles Dickens. And I enjoyed them.

I was … an English major!

I have fond memories of reading Dickens and even fonder memories of the classes taught by Dr. Sells and Dr. Bleasby in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.

In London with the college choir, several of us broke away from the guided tour to visit the Dickens Museum.

A smile comes over my face and a mist covers my eyes.

Happy 200th, Mr. Dickens.

I wonder what you would write today?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Books