Where we are – 31 Jan 2017

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light……………………………………………………………?                 On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep……………………………………………..

We strain to see through the fog, uneasy, uncertain, perhaps angry, frightened maybe.  When the fog lifts will we see a world contorted and distorted as if  in the aftermath of a hurricaine or a better, safer world?  Will it be the country that we think we are?  Or will it show us who we are?  Still a very young country in the book of nations.  Obviously still going through growing pains.  So young.  Think – Syria, Iraq, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Russia, China, England, France –  all with political histories centuries older than our own and all still with their own problems.

Divided?  Perhaps.  But no more so than the Federalists and Republicans in the days of our founding fathers.  The political arena is an angry, hostile playground but at least we no longer see our politicians facing off in deadly duels. In our brief history as a nation we have seen revolution, civil war, world wars, prohibition, the great depression, McCarthyism, Vietnam, assassinations.  All times of unrest and division.  We are on the great political teeter-totter that perhaps tips too far in one direction then quickly tips to the other spending only the briefest moment in balance.  Our media reminds us nightly how divided we are, which feeds their interests and so provides a self fulfilling prophecy.  To mature as a nation requires that we mature as individuals.  We must be able to discuss and pursue our common interests without the angry  rhetoric which currently impedes us;  and it will require compromise,  which means maybe not getting everything we want but allowing the process to move forward.

As I see it,  that is “Where we are.”   This too shall pass.  What it passes into is the great unknown !

Terribly sorry that I suffered temporary seriousity!  Certainly not my intention when I sat down.  It just gurgled out when I thought about what had happened since I last rattled the keys.

Almost a month has passed since I parsed my own phrases during which time we have been busy kids.  Right after the new year we saddled up the Prius and embarked upon our first southerly peregrination of the season.  Say what you will about the graceful Prius but it is truly the modern day camel.  Of course it doesn’t smell as bad and doesn’t spit at us but will go a long way on very little fuel.  Actually…… ever since Susan transported the sheep (or was it relocating the racoon?) it has effused a characteristic odor which may be considered unpleasant by some and is intensified by heat (much like a camel)  which is what we experienced upon our arrival in Florida!  This peculiar aroma has served as another fuel efficiency, since whenever we go out with another couple they offer to drive!

Our first stop however was a cold weather stop to see Susan’s Uncle Denny and wife Cathy in the boom town of Pen Argyl, Pa.  Pen Argyl is actually a suburb of Bangor, where Susan grew up;  and where, from what I could tell, nothing has changed since I first courted her in the winter of  ’73.  Consequently it is yet to be found on any map of Pennsylvania.  They are safe from nuclear fallout, the perils of running water, most current events and the advent of the internet!  We were hosted with generous lashings of wine and scotch, as well as Denny’s wit and tales of days gone by. An evening well spent.  As an aside, Denny also predicted in the early eighties that everything that would be invented already had been!  In the AM we met two of Susan’s old friends for breakfast.  I’m sorry,  did I say old?  They’re actually Susan’s age.  After rehashing much that been hashed before, we were out the door and on our way to Wilmington, NC to see Susan’s sister Kathryn and brother-in-law Bill.  It was a long day in the Prius but they had graciously delayed their dinner on our behalf and we were again hosted with generous lashings of wine, scotch or the inebriant of our own choosing.  Always a great place to visit and thus difficult to depart and separate ourselves from their hospitality; but they were almost out the door to Argentina and beyond, and Susan and I had other doorsteps to darken with our shadow.  Kathryn is a restless soul compared to Susan so Bill assuredly has an interesting life!  Last I heard, they were in Uruguay taking Spanish lessons in case they don’t get home before the wall goes up!

The motivation behind our trip was for me to have a winter golfing adventure with my summer golfing buddies, which will no doubt be covered in an upcoming entry.  For now though, we had a six-plus hour drive to Jacksonville where Susan could overdose on our grandson, Jameson, and he could be overdosed by Susan while I neatly deposited golf balls in water hazards on the Gulf coast.  Due to random meanderings, dillies as well as dallies and excursions down unmapped, unpaved tracks in the sand we turned our journey into a ten hour marathon. Yet……………all on the same tank of gas!  Of course time on the road passes much more quickly and pleasantly if one’s mind is occupied, so we listened to hours of Ted Talks through my phone.  Ted Talks are great, so after that many hours we were a whole lot smarter.  But as we neared Jacksonville I received the friendly message from AT&T that I had used 75% of my cellular data for the month.     Smarter!!     It was only January 6th.      All things happen for a reason,  and so I learned that you can still play Solitaire on your phone without cellular data if you play “Random Shuffle” instead of “Winning Deal.”  A noteworthy item for the travel guide.

Much more has happened from then until now but I’m growing weary of correcting my own typos so will continue later.  It’s the eve of Feb 1st which is an exciting time for me since soon upon us will be my favorite holiday  –  Ground Hog Day!!!!!!

In the spirit of this great event: What happened when the ground hog met the dog catcher?                          He became a pound hog!       (Lots of laughter now follows!)

Why isn’t it called Wood Chuck Day?  Just curious….

Until I mash the keys again,



  1. jeb.connor

    Hi Jim – Insightful context and thoughts about our nations’s current dynamics. Hopefully, the WSJ, NY Times, Washington Post, etc. picks this up, or better, it finds its way to wide social media distribution as the vast majority neither have the maturity or perspective to think in this fashion, but should, and this could certainly help all sides to get on a better path. It’s pretty special. Thanks for sharing.


    P.S. Hope the golf outing in Florida wasn’t quite as serious!

    • jmccutch

      Thanks Jeb,  I’m afraid I have a fairly limited readership!  And NO, the golf outing was not serious.  Paul won all the money but needs it to cover his overhead!

  2. Jgmurph40

    Jim I love your meanderings, wish Tizzie werearound to enjoy them !, please keep them up. Denny and Kathy were just at Phils and spent their time calling him stupid, because of his political beliefs I think that he has had it with Kathy anyway. Why is everyone so angry! We are fine ! Love hearing your news!

    Jane G. Murphy. Love Jane

  3. tom colbert

    As a voice of political reason you are certainly yelling into the wind Jim. In these times one can only preach moderation while brandishing a flaming sword. Hope you have one handy.

    As for your golf I congratulate you, as the world is a better place for every golf ball lost to a pond. This from a man who only plays often enough to remind himself he doesn’t really like the game.

    Regarding TED Talks ( Tedious Elitist Discourses ), I find they have the staying power of a motivational speech given at an Amway convention. But they are ( temporarily ) mind expanding. Look out; a few more of these and you might find yourself at the Burning Man ’17 desert gathering.

    Lastly, in all the years I’ve known you I never knew we shared a love of the Ground Hogs Day holiday. We’ll need to celebrate it together next year. Catch the movie today-it must be on somewhere. Its’ a great lesson on working at things till you get them right.

    • jmccutch

      Thanks Tom,
      There are biological functions with worse consequences than yelling into the wind! As to the flaming sword – I have a burning desire for one. Ground Hog Day was always my favorite precisely because no one really celebrated it..

  4. jackmcclung

    Pursuant to your seriosity, I received this today from my Chancellor.
    History indeed does appear to be circular:

    *Immigrants Heal Us, Medical College Chancellor Says*

    *’Progress in medicine is fostered by the free movement of human ideas and the free movement of human talent – freedoms we deeply value.’*

    *Dr. Edward C Halperin, M.D., M.A.*

    A Democratic president concludes his eight years in office. He is the author of several respected books and, as one might expect from an Ivy Leaguer, gives thoughtful speeches. He is succeeded by a Republican president who has the reputation of being intellectually incurious and agreeing with the opinion of the last person to whom he has spoken. The new president has been elected on a platform of returning the U.S. to an image of past glory. The new vice president will soon give a speech where he tells his audience “after all, the chief business of the American people is business.” The Congress approves, and the president signs restrictive immigration laws designed to “keep dangerous radicals out (of) the United States.”

    I am describing the transition from the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton University, to the presidency of Warren G. Harding and Vice President Calvin Coolidge in 1921. The “dangerous radicals” that the new immigration law was designed to keep out were Irish, Italian, and Polish Roman Catholics, Eastern European Jews, Japanese, and Chinese. These were the laws that, a few years hence, condemned to death many seeking to flee the Nazi hordes.

    Sometimes, in my work as a medical historian, I think that time is linear.
    We see the progress of humankind in a step-by-step fashion. Sometimes I think time is circular. We repeat the patterns of the past.

    There is already a major difference between the debate on immigration in the 1920s and that of 2017. In the 1920s American higher education leaders generally endorsed immigration restrictions. They thought that U.S. higher education had a “Jewish problem” and an “Irish/Italian Catholic problem”
    and that these immigrants and their children should be kept out of medical, dental, law, engineering and elite liberal arts colleges by restrictive quotas. In 2017, American higher education leaders are far more likely to defend the free movement of information, students, and teachers; and to believe that this is a country of immigrants; and to support the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty which says:

    *Give me your tired, your poor, *

    *your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,*

    *the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. *

    *Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,*

    *I lift my lamp beside the golden door!*

    I know where William Cullen Bryant, who founded New York Medical College in 1860, stood on the great questions of his day: The right of labor to organize in trade unions, the rights of women, and the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. When American medical education slammed its door on the children of Jewish immigrants seeking a medical education in the 1930s, New York Medical College had the highest percentage of Jewish students in the U.S. We can safely bet on what William Cullen Bryant would have to say about where we should stand regarding today’s immigration debate.

    A large proportion of American winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were immigrants or the children of recent immigrants. We can thank these immigrants and their children for antibiotics, the polio vaccine, vascular surgery, and much of our progress in the war against disease and disability. Progress in medicine is fostered by the free movement of human ideas and the free movement of human talent – freedoms we deeply value.

    “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”- Psalm 146, Verse 9.

    In deference to the role of freedom in fostering the progress of science, those of us engaged in trying to make medical care for our grandchildren better than what we have today must stand where we have always stood. We shall not be moved.

    *The writer is chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of New York Medical College in Valhalla.*

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