Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, November 13, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 11

OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, November 13, 2021 
11 OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, November 13, 2021 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola 


Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMeghan MalooleyMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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Like many men, especially men of my advanced age, 

I am rarely able to sleep all through the night. Bathroom 

needs awaken me and frequently I have a great deal of trou

ble resuming sleep. During these last twenty months it had 

become almost impossible. Sometime during this period 

I fortunately discovered the New York Times Spelling Bee 


I don’t want to mislead you; I still worry a lot. None

theless, the Spelling Bee Game has been a fortuitous respite 

from my overall feelings of dread. (By the way, did you no

tice my usage of the word “nonetheless”? Recognizing and 
utilizing combined words is a big part of the game. Quoting from the Spelling Bee 
webpage, “the game presents players with a grid of 7 letters arrayed in a honeycomb 
structure. The player scores points by using the letters to form words consisting of four 
or more letters. However, any words proposed by the player must include the letter at 
the center of the “honeycomb” Scoring points leads to progressively higher praise for the 
player’s effort, such as ‘Solid”, “Amazing” and “GENIUS”. The player receives the largest 
number of points for finding the puzzle’s “pangram”. (The “pangram” is a word using all 
seven letters of the puzzle, including some that can be used more than once. If the player 
finds all of the possible words in a given puzzle, they (me only twice) achieve the title of 
Queen Bee.”

 The pleasures of the game which differ from the continuing experience of our 
real life are as follows: First the game is dependable. A new game appears every midnight 
on my phone and this new game contains all the answers of the previous night’s 
game. Secondly, the game grants praise as one finds more and more words. In the beginning 
this praise is enough but as one plays more and more and acquires a certain skill 
one may well reach the level of GENIUS. Reaching this level is reminiscent of bowling 
a strike, especially the first time. I have reached the final level of Queen Bee only twice 
and strangely my feelings were one of relief rather than joy. It was an arduous time consuming 
journey which I have very rarely attempted and perhaps is reflective of my level 
in life which is okay with me.

 At the beginning playing the games can be a kind of mechanical process but at 
some point words seem to magically appear in the head. Often these words are combinations 
of smaller words such as the word “nonetheless” that I emphasized above. Earlier 
tonight I was faced with the following letters: L N T I C O surrounding the letter M’ I 
first thought of the word “notion” unacceptable as it contained no “M”. Next a kind of 
balmy, tropical feeling accompanied the word “Lotion” as it popped into my head—still 
no good- no M. Moving around a little bit I recognized the word “motion” an acceptable 
word. Before I could even enter the letters I experienced myself on a train together with 
the conscious cognition of the word “locomotion”. This was in fact the pangram word required 
by the puzzle. I was now well on the way to creating the other 87 words required 
to reach the GENIUS level tonight. I made the journey and experienced memories of 
favorite movies and forgotten incidents and friends and memories and sensations associated 
with otherwise forgotten experiences. After reaching the Genius level I stopped 
knowing I could work harder but now pleased with myself, temporarily removed from 
other worries. Queen Bee will always be a rational realistic possibility when and if I 
choose to work harder. 

My point about the puzzle is that there is always a light, or a potential light, at 
the end of the tunnel. I know the genius level is a possibility tonight and if I can’t find 
the answer tonight the answer will be provided tomorrow. It is a rational man-made dilemma 
in which, even absent hard work, generally reaches a satisfactory conclusion. The 
generally unattainable level of Queen Bee signifies that with more work and more focus 
a complete solution is rationally reassuringly achievable.

 Sadly, away from the puzzle, life is different. Today I feel powerless and answerless 
and doubt that any new answers or solutions will be provided tomorrow. In the 
meantime I continue to utilize the puzzle and suggest you do likewise. Remarkably, it 
works for me. Anyway, who says existence requires essential continual apprehension? 
(I’m just practicing for tomorrow.) 


My dad’s hearing was damaged more than half a century ago 
when, as a young man, he trained to be an Army military policeman 
during the war in Korea. 

MPs were required to qualify for every weapon, including the 
exceptionally loud .50 caliber machine gun. 

One day, while congested with a cold, the concussive impacts of 
the gun’s noise caused blood to seep out of his nose and ear. 

His hearing would never be the same and it grew gradually worse 

until he went completely deaf in his left ear before he was 45. 

For years, he and my mother tried to apply for care from the Veterans Administration, 
but after going through the lengthy bureaucratic application process, they were never 

It wasn’t until a year ago, in his 87th year, that my sister completed some VA applications 
to see if any assistance was available. 

Truth be told, none of us expected he’d receive any help. 

Our understanding, shaped by my parents’ prior experiences and a series of negative 
news stories over time, was that the VA — now named the Department of Veteran Affairs 
— wasn’t going to be the place to go to get better care than he was already getting. 

Thankfully, we were wrong. 

The VA arranged assessments with a hearing specialist and a retired primary care doctor 
who had both contracted with the VA. This time, its bureaucrats determined that 
my father qualified for a top-notch hearing aid that was far superior to the devices he’d 
been buying. 

I was with my dad during these VA medical assessments and everything was incredibly 
professional and thorough.

Our waits in the VA’s waiting room were never more than 15 minutes, and they always 
offered a glimpse into the lives of other veterans, whose lives had been impacted by their 

Some were in wheelchairs and missing limbs. 

Some, like my father, were elderly and finally getting treated for issues that happened 
long ago. 

Some were younger and dealing with severe mental-health effects after serving tours 
in Afghanistan and Iraq — and they need help, as veteran suicide rates are at an all-time 

Our government owes these vets the very best medical treatment, but, until recently, 
they didn’t get it. 

Though improvements finally began to happen seven years ago in response to the VA’s 
scandal over the long wait times vets had to regularly endure, the VA still must do better. 

Congress authorized the temporary Choice Act in 2014 to allow vets to see private doctors 
outside of the VA’s system, but it wasn’t until the bipartisan 2019 Mission Act that 
things got much better. 

The act established the Veterans Community Care Program that allows vets to receive 
primary care and mental health services outside the VA system through non-VA providers 
in the local community. 

A subsequent survey found that more than 80 percent of vets were satisfied with their 
VA care, reports the VA website. 

Those improvements at the VA were long overdue and must continue for all veterans, 
but will they? 

According to Military Times, the VA recently announced it is phasing out its office in 
charge of community care programs, “a move that some advocates are decrying as unfairly 
limiting veterans’ medical options….” 

I don’t know what the VA’s current leaders are planning, and I’m not sure I trust them. 

But I do know that the men and women hurt in our wars should be honored and 
thanked every day, not just Veterans Day — and must never again be forced to wait 
months for the medical care they deserve. 

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email 
him at 



In a recent column I shared kids letters to God 
and I was afraid of slighting the entire animal 
kingdom. After all, in the greater scheme of things, 
the rest of life on this planet is as important, if not 
more important than the human population. And 
dare I say more eco-friendly than mankind. After 
all, when you think about it, no one has ever 
accused the animal kingdom of causing global 
warming. Oh, wait a minute: Someone’s blaming 

cows. Is that messed up or what? Someone call 
PETA and turn them in. 

What? You think dogs writing letters to God is absurd. Hey, I’m certain 
God speaks dog! Beatrice told me she talks to God regularly. Who 
is Beatrice? My roommate, err my daughter Olivia and my rescue canine. 
I asked Beatrice if she believed in God. I said one bark for yes 
and two barks for no. She said, “Can’t my yay be yay and my nay be 
nay instead? She then chimed in saying she loves the works of Danish 
existential Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, but gets more 
applicable truths from the “Peanuts” comic strip. Who knew? 

Dear God: I don’t mean to complain but humans name cars after the 
jaguar, cougar, mustang, stingray and even the puny little rabbit. Every 
four-legged creature but dogs. How many of those other animals do 
you see with their heads out the window on a Sunday afternoon drive? 
Why can’t Ford come out with the Mercury Maltese. Or Chrysler come 
out with the Dodge Doberman or something like that. 

Dear God: More meatballs please, and less spaghetti. 

Dear God: When dogs die and come back as humans, is that good or 

Dear God: I see people love to smell flowers but they never ever smell 
each other. What’s with that? 

Dear God: When we get to heaven can we sit on the couch? Or is it 
the same old story? 

Dear God: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no one hears 
him, is he still a bad dog? 

Dear God: Are there dogs on other planets? I howl at the moon and 
the stars every night, but all I hear back is the Irish Setter across the 

Dear God: Is it true that in heaven, dining room tables have on-ramps? 

Dear God: We dogs have to learn and understand not only human 
verbal instructions, but hand signals, whistles, horns, beepers, electromagnetic 
energy fields and yes, even Frisbee flight paths. What do 
humans have to learn and understand? 

Oh, my darling Beatrice wanted me to pass on, if the thought of preparing 
a meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas on Christmas day keeps 
you up at night, you should know Nano Café at 322 W. Sierra Madre 
Blvd in Sierra Madre is open 7:00-3:00 on both Christmas Day and 
New Years Day. And the days around our upcoming holidays. Make 
reservations by calling (626) 325-3334. 

…Yes Beatrice, I’ll give you a snack. No, not a steak dinner. 

Gotta go!