This Week’s Words

Politics Aside . . .

I am aware that my posts have become more political lately, and I have decided that my blog should be a refuge from the world’s chaos, not a commentary on it.  My previous blog was entirely based on humor, was family friendly, and was meant to be uplifting.

So I am changing directions in this blog to present from now on (1) inspirational quotes by others, (2) my best photographs, and (3) thoughtful commentary, poems, observations, etc., on the lighter side.

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This Week’s Words

Anthem, 2018

I have believed in, doubted, and believed in God; I have believed in, doubted, and believed in myself.

I have suffered more than some, less than many in my personal crucible.

I have a right to be different, a right not to be defined by what “The Norm” is for my gender, a right not to play games just to be accepted. I will not sacrifice my sanity for conformity.

I hurt for the hurting; I am aggrieved by injustice; and I am enraged by incompetent or insensitive people in power. I reject the authority of evil people in power.

I have a right to a red-hot anger toward people who abuse other people, especially toward those who abuse women and children. Abusers are the enemies of humanity, but many need help because they were abused.

I have a duty to speak out when I see a wrong–to raise my voice in protest, to add my name to petitions–I have a right to be heard that no government has a right to silence.

I am right that I have a right to write.

Copyright © 2018 by John Arthur Robinson

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This Week’s Words

Let 2018 FINALLY Be the Year!

Your experience might be that “New Year’s Resolutions Are Made to Be Broken,” but the fact is that some people make a resolution, stick to it, and it changes their lives. Decide the one thing you would most like to change or do in 2018,

and then just DO it!

I spent 36 years in a desk job that I only enjoyed for the first 5-10 years. I should have started taking risks to end up getting paid for something I enjoyed doing. Only now, well into my retirement, am I starting to pursue my dreams.

For the whole month of February, my “Art from Leftover Parts” sculpture exhibit will be in the glass display cases in the Athens County Public Library’s Athens, Ohio, Branch. Then, in March, 2019, my photography will be exhibited on a 40-ft. gallery wall across from the circulation desk just inside the entrance to the same library–a place where everyone visiting the library will see my work.

I will soon be known in the area as an artist and photographer–a new identity for me after being a “manuscript editor” for almost 40 years. It’s never too late to redefine who you are!

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The Darkest Day

Every year has a Darkest Day—
more light before, more light to come—
but this day is in the way,
a day to move away from.

Every life has a Darkest Hour—
more hope before, dim hope to see–
the challenge is to find the power
to forge a new reason to be.

Copyright © 2017 by John Arthur Robinson

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Patience, Friend

Inside you,
maybe deep,
is a person you want to keep.
The trick is
not to perish
before you learn to cherish
the you
you maybe never knew.

Copyright © 2017 by John Arthur Robinson

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This Week’s Words

To the Men Who Have Been Disgraced and Have Lost Your Position Due to Allegations of Sexual Harassment Following the Harvey Weinstein Scandal

Some of you are men I have admired, but your reputations have been destroyed, and you went from having positions of prestige, power, and influence to dropping completely out of the public eye. Your prospects for a happy, purpose-filled future are bleak.

But it doesn’t have to end this way. You could reach out to each other in a brotherhood of support and decide to bring something positive out of the debris of your careers.


As a Christian, I believe that NO ONE is beyond redemption. Combined, you have a second chance to devote yourselves to a life of service.

1. Form an organization dedicated to supporting causes of the oppressed, especially focusing on women’s causes, such as combating sexual harassment, domestic violence, homelessness, workplace inequality, etc.

2. Combine your fortunes to fund this effort.

3. Hire people to run the organization so that you are NOT in the public eye.

4. Do not expect this effort to help you get your former prestige, power, and influence back.

You will be doing this to regain your self-esteem and the esteem of those you love. You will be doing this for the friendship of your fallen brothers. You will be doing this for a sense of purpose. You will be doing this for personal redemption.

I am proposing this out of compassion for your fallen state. I wish you the best.

–John A. Robinson

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This Week’s Words

Pause before “Send”

Words on lined paper are underlined;
words on blank paper are not;
words electronically etched,
once sent,
are irretrievably got.

Copyright © 2017 by John Arthur Robinson

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No Wonder!

I used to be an incurable wonderer, but I’ve found the cure.

A couple of days ago, I was watching the Weather Channel when they mentioned that a storm surge is always worse when a high tide coincides with a full moon.  I had never been taught the reason for this in school, so I wondered, “Why?  Why does the amount of light coming from the moon change how much it pulls on the tides?”

I have wondered this for years.  When I was young, the only solution to such wonder-ment would have been to look up the subject in a multi-volume encyclopedia (or ask an expert).

Now, no one needs to wonder about anything, at least not for long.  Whenever I think, “I wonder what happened to ________?”; “I wonder how old _______ is?”; or “I wonder what the connection is between ________ and ________?”; all I have to do is Google the question (or Bing the question, or use any other search engine).

The Internet is the ultimate multi-volume encyclopedia in which all the world’s knowledge is stored.  For my current question, all I had to do was type in the question “Why does a full moon have a stronger effect on the tides?”  Using Google, I got this page of search results.

Choosing the link Tides, and the pull of the moon and sun, I learned that a full moon meant that the sun, moon, and Earth were in a straight line, and that it is the position  of the moon (and not the light from it) that causes the stronger pull on the tides.  I am now en-light-ened.

Now when someone in a conversation says, “I wonder (something),” my standard response is, “Just Google it.”  Assuming that the searcher uses the right search terminology, an answer will almost always be found.  Of course, one needs discernment about the reliability of sources on the Internet, because false knowledge cures wonder with deception.

Copyright © 2017 by John Arthur Robinson

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This was one of my Board of Contributor’s columns for The Athens Messenger.  It appeared on June 25, 2002.

A beautiful death: a son remembers his mother’s last two months of life

My mother lived in Bellaire, Ohio, all of her life.  She died on Oct. 4, 1998, at the age of 81.  Within hours of her death, family members began to call her death “beautiful.”  If ever a life had closure, Mom’s did.  A remarkable series of events in her last two months comforted us immeasurably when she died suddenly.

On the 8th of August that year Mom saw five of her six children and 14 of her 15 grandchildren at a granddaughter’s wedding in Pittsburgh, about an hour’s drive from Bellaire.  That week, while many of us were still in the region, we helped Mom move from the home where she and Dad had raised us, where she had lived for 45 years, to a much smaller rental unit across the street.  Mom’s brother and his wife had lived there before moving to St. Louis, so Mom was “downsizing” to a familiar house, right in her own neighborhood.

Mom presided over the breakup of our old home, deciding what to take with her and what to give away.  My father had died in 1989, so she still had some of his things to give us.  By the end of the week of the move, we had unpacked everything in her new place and had put it away.  Mom was thrilled with her new “start.”

Until the weekend of her death, Mom maintained an active lifestyle.  Still able to drive, she attended daily mass as she had for decades, volunteered at the parochial school cafeteria, and enjoyed visiting and entertaining relatives and friends.  On Friday, Sept. 25, just 10 days before she died, Mom went on a week-long car trip.  We call it her “farewell tour.”

One of 13 children, Mom was traveling with a brother, his wife, and a sister to visit her only other living  sister in Nazareth, Kentucky, and her only other living brother and his wife (in St. Louis).  My aunt in Kentucky, a retired nun, was in a nursing home.  After seeing so many incapacitated people there, Mom reportedly said aloud, “Dear God, don’t let me end up like that!”  She returned from the trip on Thursday, Oct. 1.

On the morning of Friday, Oct. 2, Mom attended mass, then volunteered at the cafeteria.  In mid-afternoon her landlady, a longtime family friend, asked Mom if she needed anything from the store, and Mom requested a bag of candy for her bridge club the next week.  When the landlady returned about supper time, she found Mom on the floor of the living room, nearly incoherent.  Not long after the emergency squad had taken Mom to the hospital, she slipped into a coma.  She had suffered a stroke from a massive brain hemorrhage.

My wife, daughter, son, and I were just fifteen minutes away from going out that evening to celebrate my son’s birthday when we got the call about Mom.  We quickly packed and headed for the Catholic hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia, arriving around midnight.  The doctor told us that Mom had only days or hours to live.

By noon the next day, Saturday, Oct. 3, all six of us children, coming from four cities across Ohio, from Pittsburgh, and from Huntington Beach, CA, had arrived at the hospital to say our goodbyes.  When Mom’s condition stabilized that evening, two of my brothers choose to stay at the hospital all night while the rest of us left to get some sleep.

At 5:30 the following morning, Sunday, Oct. 4 , we were called to the hospital.  Mom was failing. Those who had arrived by 6:00 a.m. turned on the TV to look for a televised mass, found the channel set to one just starting, and stood beside Mom’s bed holding hands until it ended. They reported that as soon as the priest finished saying, “The mass is ended; go in peace,” Mom breathed her last breath.  When I walked into the room, the nurse was taking Mom’s pulse for the last time to confirm that she had just died.

Over 500 people attended Mom’s funeral.  She had been the secretary at the parochial grade school for two decades, so many of her “students” were in attendance.  If Mom had written a script for how she wanted her life to end, she could hardly have penned it better.  The mood at the funeral was more a celebration of Mom’s life than sadness over her death.  We knew we would miss her terribly, but we couldn’t grieve over how her life had ended.  She died a beautiful death.

In memory of Mary Ellen Glaser Robinson, 1917-1998


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This Week’s Words

Today is Veterans Day in the United States.  I am a Navy veteran, as was my father and older brother before me.  If you would like to thank a veteran today, you can attach any of the following free images to an e-mail or text message:

  1. RIGHT-click on the image.
  2. Choose “Save Image As” and save it to your computer. (I suggest to your Desktop.)
  3.  You can now include the image in an e-mail or text message.

I can ASSURE you that your gesture will be appreciated.  (You don’t need to send one to ME.)

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This Week’s Words

The Gamut

When I envisioned this weekly feature, I decided that I would feel free to use this space however I wanted.  After seven years of writing funny titles and captions for over a thousand of my photos at, I didn’t want to ever again be constrained by so narrow a format.

The writing here might be serious, light, topical, humorous, or maybe even profound.  This week’s topic could be accused of being borderline trivial.  But that’s OK.

Not Progress #1

Every once in a while I’m amazed at some new product development that is not progress.  A recent example: although they no longer do it, our local Walmart started using twisted tape closures on their loaves of bread and bags of baked goods.  What might have saved them millions of dollars annually resulted in a closure that could not be opened manually.  The only way to open the package was to get a pair of scissors and cut off the end of the bag, meaning that you had to end up using your own twist tie or clip to reclose the bag.

My current nominee for Not Progress is Men’s dress shirts.  Since the invention of the button-front shirt, it was a simple procedure to work your way down the row of buttons, using the same motions for each one.  Not anymore.  in recent years, shirt manufacturers have started making the bottom buttonhole horizontal, unlike the vertically oriented holes above it.

This change serves absolutely no useful purpose!  The bottom button is no more secure than the others, and the net effect is that the subconscious process of buttoning a shirt has a jarring end–the need to fasten the bottom button a different way.

I would like to sit down and talk to the designer who thought that this change was a good idea.  I would request, however that the person sit sideways in his/her chair the whole time.

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This Week’s Words

Targeted Writing

I wrote this “lanterne” (my first) for an annual competition of The National Federation of State Poetry Societies in 1974.   A lanterne has the following structure:

one syllable,
two syllables,
three syllables,
four syllables,
one syllable.

The Visitor

that comes
sighs each time it

Copyright © 1974, 2017 by John Arthur Robinson

My poem won “Fifth Honorable Mention, Lloyd Frank Merrell Memorial Lanterne Award.”

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