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PoppenSparkle’s Second Hiatus

Once again I have no chapter ready for this Tuesday. I will get caught up, but this week is vacation. Vacation, not writers’ block.

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How to Be a Wizard


On Cartoon Network’s Looney Tunes show, Daffy Duck has decided he wants to be a wizard.  He even had business cards printed to be one. 

Being a wizard is almost as easy as that.  But becoming one is not what Daffy thinks it is.

wizard (n.) early 15th century., “philosopher, sage,” from Middle English wys “wise” (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Compare Lithuanian zynyste “magic,” zynys “sorcerer,” zyne “witch,” all from zinoti “to know.” The ground sense is perhaps “to know the future.” The meaning “one with magical power, one proficient in the occult sciences” did not emerge distinctly until c. 1550, the distinction between philosophy and magic being blurred in the Middle Ages. As a slang word meaning “excellent” it is recorded from 1922.

The word comes from wisdom.  Being one requires wisdom.  Being one requires you to look to the future and use your hard-won experience to predict how the future will unfold, and what you can do about it to benefit yourself and others.  You know, “magic”.


But to become a wise-one, a wizard, requires hard experience.  It is possible that Daffy has acquired some over time.  He’s certainly been subjected to all sorts of slapstick cartoon injuries and insults over time.


Remember this one?  Daffy swallows dynamite, drinks gasoline, this bottle of nitroglycerin, and then throws a match down his throat.  The results are spectacular, but Daffy has to admit that he can only do the act once.

So maybe he hasn’t become a wizard yet.  To be a wizard, you have to learn from your hard experience.  You have to gain knowledge in order to work spells and do magic.

For instance, my struggles to breathe from COPD have taught me to use magic potions like ginger tea and French onion soup to open my air passages wider and make breathing easier.   When the siding on the back of the house deteriorated to the point that the city wouldn’t tolerate it any more, and I couldn’t afford to pay a contractor to fix it, I googled spells for siding repair on the internet, using articles and YouTube videos to magically fix the damage myself.  I also consulted other wizards at Lowe’s and Home Depot, where they are happy to give you advice if you buy supplies from them.

Unlike Daffy, I think I do qualify as a wizard.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor.  I taught in a public school for 31 years.  I taught middle school children.  I lived through the years of the Kennedy assassination, landing men on the moon, the Civil Rights Movement, Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics, and 9-11.  I lived through the Cubs winning a World Series.  And all those events and hard experiences have given me more wisdom than, perhaps, any sane person would want.  Of course, I’m not sure in all my years I have ever actually met a totally sane person.

Mike the Wizard

You may notice that I had to get a new magic hat.  My old black Walt Whitman hat flew out the window on Interstate 35 the other day.  This one is a fedora made of woven straw, a grandpa hat. Who knows?  I am not a grandpa yet technically, but maybe one day before I curl up my toes and go for a long dirt nap… and grandpas count as wizards too, don’t they?

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Summer Fun Cartoon


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July 3, 2022 · 3:00 pm

The Road to Iowa

I am now almost home again. I’m sitting in the car in a parking lot for Perkins restaurant in Ames, Iowa. With the dog while my wife and the Princess are eating a late lunch. We will be on the road again soon, but the dog is anxious to be done traveling, and I sit with her now to keep her from complaining so much while my driver and daughter eat.

Here is where a travel photo goes. And I have a good one. And the #@!!&##! Block Editor won’t let me add it no matter what I do.

Oh, well, at least something is posted to keep my streak alive.

it is, however, a mixed-up unedited mess.

I would ask the dog to do it for me, but she’s tired and cranky. And who knew that dog language had so many bad words?

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Fighting to Post on the Road

I am trying to write a post on the road with my phone. But apparently my fingers, or my phone, or both don’t work right.


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Healthcare Aware

In the wind-down of the Covid19 Pandemic we need to be more aware of our fragile health as a species than ever. Homo Sapiens is suffering now from ills of its own making. And yes, the virus itself probably has a zoological origin, the whole bats-and-pangolins-in-a-wet-market-in-China thing, and it may have been an accidental leak of virus out of a virology lab in China. But it is not a Chinese bio-weapon plot, no matter what Cucker Tarleson thinks… or says he thinks because he’s paid well to think it.

It is a matter of decades and even centuries worth of human greed and rampant profit motive. We are killing the world with industrial waste and increasing the heat world wide with the blazing fires of greed-meets-profit-motive intentions.

The furnaces of industry keep firing up when we need them to cool down and stop.

Even healthcare is monetized in this country to the point that financial predators are gorging themselves by creating economic pain in most of us.

And the political world is rabidly on board with protesting masks and social distancing in order to keep the plague raging and the sweet healthcare dollars rolling in. Not for the benefit of doctors and nurses, mind you. They are not the ones reaping the rewards. In fact, many of them are victims too.

I am stuck at home again now thinking about this again because my number two son and I are possibly under quarantine again. He had Covid once already, a year ago, and he was vaccinated in May. But now he’s sick in bed awaiting the results of another Covid test. It’s either that or a five-day bout of regular flu.

The worst of the many fears is that this is a vaccine-immune variant virus. If that’s what it is, I am probably doomed even though I am already vaccinated too. Oh, well. It’s been a good life. I hope the rest of the human race can conclude that too, as the next pandemic, or heat wave, or global extinction looms in the near future.

But take care… and be aware… because miracles have happened before.

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The Song of Powerful Things

My father is going into hospice care. Parkinson’s disease is winning against him. I am stuck in Texas until the results of my COVID 19 test come back. Needless to say, my heart is broken. I need magic to fix it now. Where do you find that kind of power? This is where I am looking today.

These are acapella songs. No instruments. Only voice. It comes straight from the heart. Out through the mouth and into the ever-present ether. Life may come to an end, but the sound of it continues… never-ending. Even God does not make a song unsung once it has been made real.

I have been watching these videos on my laptop, lying on my sickbed, and crying at the beauty, the truth, and the depths of sadness in my soul. It hurts to lose a parent. My father was born in 1930. In October of this year, his life-song will reach 90 years of age. It hurts now. But songs are never unsung once they finish. In this I find comfort.

I hope you will actually listen to these. I add a lot of music to my posts, and I never notice any reports of someone clicking on the videos. But these musicians; Pentatonix, Home Free, Peter Hollens, and BYU Vocal Point all have that magic… the power to both lift you up towards God and to make you weep for the bittersweet tragedy that is the experience of being alive and knowing… well, that every book has a final chapter, every song has a final note, and every life…

I don’t have to finish that thought, do I? Now is a proper time for sadness, for trepidation, for listening to music like this… and for remembering love. And I am not through crying just yet.

Since I originally posted this musical essay, my father passed away on my birthday in 2020. My mother did not last a year without him, rejoining him in September of 2021. I can’t listen to any of these songs now without weeping. But it is a good cry. It fills me up with the song of life. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But today… today I am filled with the music of lives well-lived. He was 89. She was 87.

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My laptop unexpectedly died. That made this phone post difficult.

I am not used to writing like this.

Do I use scissors?


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So, What Are You Saying?

“The Bare Essentials of Education”

The question arises from this most recent illustration I drew, “Are you saying, Mickey, that kids can learn better if they go to school naked?”

No! Are you crazy?

I used to teach middle school students. Can you imagine kids from this current modern culture being giving license to come to school starkers if they wish to do it? In the middle school world of half-brained sub-intellectuals passing judgement on everything? Especially judgments about appearance and attractiveness… or non-attractiveness? With brains fueled by hormones and the questionable values taught by TV and movies? Chaos! Fires being lit! Real and metaphorical! Windows being broken! Derisive laughter! Tears and sobbing from the offended! And that would just be the teachers.

But the truth is, if we look at the studies of B.F. Skinner and his recommendations for child-rearing in his Utopian propositions in the book Walden Two, children not taught to be ashamed of their nakedness from early on would develop more peacefully and naturally into perceptive and intelligent learners if allowed to be openly and happily naked.

Skinner, an experimental scientist, believed everything in life should conform to findings from scientific observations and scientific experiments. How loony is that? Why would we do something that is practical, natural, and beneficial just because it might enhance your ability to learn and enjoy your experience of the world?

In my illustration, I was actually intending to convey a notion of the relationship of openness and innocence to learning. The two children sharing the big danged book on the floor are nude because they are willing to approach the material with a sensory receptivity that can only be hampered by the barriers and limits we put on ourselves, like the clothing that we shield and limit our bodies with. So, I would never suggest it was appropriate to learn things while naked. Or even that, with the right training and cultural shifts, that going to school naked would be a good thing.

Even I have nightmares about being naked in school. In my dreams I sometimes dream about forgetting to put on clothes before going in front of a hostile classroom to teach something they all find boring and awful… while I am naked and awful myself. I still have that nightmare even now that I am retired.

No, I would never suggest that. Unless, somehow, you can suggest something by not suggesting it. Surely I am not tricksy enough to try to do anything like that. And remember, I was an actual teacher in an actual classroom for many years where I merely thought of them all as naked, because kids are all transparent about their lives and motivations and can’t keep a secret even if they didn’t want me to know everything about them, even the bad kids, and even things they wanted to hide from the teacher.

Here is a link to B.F. Skinner’s book, Walden Two;

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Sadly, a Slowing

I have been making plans to go to Iowa to visit my sisters, family, and the family farm place where my sister Nancy is now living and keeping the farm running. Things have been slowed by a couple of unforeseen events. The place where my wife’s RV was stored got broken into. The catalytic converter was stolen out of every RV and vehicle that had one in the whole place. No camper, no place for my son and his fiancee to stay as we visit. So, he cancels. My wife wants to stay in Dallas and fix the RV. But my limited ability to drive long distances may require someone to do at least some of the driving for me. The two-week plan was cut to seven days. Whether my wife drives or not may also depend on whether the dog gets to go or not. My wife hates dealing with a whiny dog on the road. And Jade hates riding in cars, thinking every trip she gets to go on is a ride to the vet.

I, of course, have the good fortune to be in poor health, rendered helpless by hot weather, arthritis, diabetes, and whatever bug which turns out to not be Covid has currently got me head-achy and out of sorts. The trip is still possible, but things are looking harder and harder to overcome.

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