A time for whatever popped violently into my head

When reading, I often come across sayings, adages, well-turned phrases that I might write down in a notebook or forget within 20 minutes. The forgetting I can’t help, but the stuff written down should get better play – as in sharing them.   

So I have decided to put them on this blog, maybe on a daily basis. Why not dump them here all at once? Because I like the idea of a “mailbox surprise.” Maybe that comes from living on Rural Route #1 with a mailbox just across the road. Who knew what might show up there after the mail man had driven by, sitting in the middle of his front seat, left hand on the steering wheel and right hand reaching to the mailbox (before mail-delivery trucks with right hand steering)?

Same with daily comics in the newspapers that eked out one piece of the plot daily. Whatever happened to Dick Tracy, Steve Roper, Dondi, Terry and the Pirates and finally, Prince Valiant? Once the prince and Aleta were dropped from my daily newspaper, I stopped reading comics (except for “Shoe.”)

So this will be like Orlando in Virginia Woolf’s book where “whenever anything popped violently into her head, she went straight to the nearest telegraph office and wired” it to her husband. But I won’t drop into a cypher language or sign it “Rattigan Glumphoboo” as she did to keep the telegraph clerk from being any wiser. (That’s a better alias than the ones I have been using.)

The first “anything that popped into my head” came from a Zoom class Kathy and I are taking. Seemed to fit the moment:

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.” Ulysses S. Grant

Here’s how you lose: Concede, congratulate and go home

Here’s the way to do it, should anyone need some advice on how to lose. First, you concede: Claudia, you beat me, trounced me. Even if I pick the Secretaries of Commerce and Labor correctly, I can’t catch up to the three correct answers you gave.

Second, congratulate. Claudia, you were well prepared, conducted yourself in a sportswomanly fashion and you deserve the win, Congratulations!

Third, go home: I’m afraid I will not be able to attend your inauguration as the person who answered three of Biden’s Cabinet correctly. However, I will drop my donation of $100 to your charity of choice (Enduring Hearts (https://enduringhearts.org/) as I head for my plane. And just to pardon me against any high crimes and misdemeanors that I have committed while in office, I will also send another $100 to the charity of my choice: Seattle Compassion Service https://seattlecompassion.com/.

Next contest: What will our ex-president do on Jan. 20, 2021?

1 more Biden Cabinet pick wrong, and I’ll be in Congress Jan. 6

I need to sweep the table in the remaining Biden Cabinet picks to come away with a tie to Claudia, and that is looking very unlikely. Why is Andrew Yang saying he wants to be mayor of New York City? He’d be much happier as Commerce secretary and I would not get skunked. As it stands now, it looks like it will be worse than losing an election by more than seven million votes.

I’m writing to Pence in Vail to avail himself to my cause, hoping he doesn’t ski into a tree or get buried in an avalanche so that he can declare me the winner on Jan. 6 before Congress. If he’s willing to throw away his political future by siding with a one-term president, he might as well throw in some extra pork such as my lowly cause. Show he cares about the people.

Or, I could seek a presidential pardon. I haven’t killed any one. Wait, that seems to be a prerequisite for a pardon.

My cause is lost (and that’s not a concession).

How good are your civics? Can you pass the new citizenship test?

A friend of mine, who served on his community’s school board, has been on a tear for several years to get civics back into the American education system. But in his town, it was a losing battle.

It’s a battle that should be won, not only in my friend’s community but everywhere in the United States.

The proof pops up every so often in surveys people do of our schools’ students. One found that students could name the Three Stooges (there were more than three) but not the three branches of the U.S. governments. I tried that before a reporting class I taught but updated it to naming characters on South Park. More of my students could name the three branches of government than characters on South Park. And I had to find out who was on South Park – it’s a cartoon!

These were students studying to be journalists, and I would, and you should, expect them to know the workings of government. Especially since some day they will be explaining it to readers and viewers.

More recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a survey and found that only eight percent of high-school students knew that slavery was a main cause of the Civil War.

Richard Folk

Which brings us to Mr. Folk, introduced in my last post. I thought that Claudia must have had him as a teacher at Liberty Center High School. Claudia is my opponent who is beating me in our contest to name Biden’s Cabinet.

And sure enough, she had Mr. Folk for American History and Psychology. In Mr. Folk’s class, you learned a lot about civics and history. Or, if you goofed off, some recall how handy he was with a paddle.

Being the goody-goody that I was, I escaped the paddle and learned a lot about history, which has all blended in with the history books I have read before and after that class. But I do remember one instance from his class. He was telling about the Civil War, talking about the causes of it. States’ rights this, states’ rights that, and then he said, “It was all about slavery, and that’s all.”

Claudia is ahead 2-0, but there are 12 more picks for Biden to make. Lots of time for John to come back.

He must have been a student of military history as well. He made a claim, which I can’t prove, that the Japanese in World War II used bullets that were one tenth smaller than the bullets used by Americans. If the Japanese captured an American rifle, their bullets would fit into the American rifle’s bore. Not so if the Americans captured a Japanese rifle.

Besides history and civics classes, which I think were taught in junior hi or earlier in high school, there was “Problems in Democracy,” taught my senior year by Thomas Doughton. If you slept through civics, you could catch up here, or not graduate.

I don’t want this to sound like old-timers’ stories of walking uphill to and fro, barefooted, in three-foot drifts of snow to school where learning was pounded into us. Students still learn in our schools today. But they don’t learn what we don’t teach them. No civics and we create newly elected Senators who think the U.S. liberated Paris in World War II from socialism and communism.

My outlandish proposal, as most of mine are, is to have all elected officials take the test given to people trying to become citizens of the United States. If they can’t pass the test, we could either use Mr. Folk’s paddle on them, take them “out at dawn and (be) shot” or “drawn and quartered” as some dimwit lawyer said who had never heard of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Or, we could make they ineligible academically, put them on the bench until they could pass the test, given once every four to six years.

Could you pass the test? That might be our next charity contest. Who can get the most right in the newest citizenship test? It’s below with the rules for possible citizens.  

But we will make our own rules. Look at all 128 questions that could be thrown at any unsuspecting Somali, Eritrean, Guatemalan or any other person who has their own culture and doesn’t know diddly about why we have an Electoral College that overturns the popular vote and let’s losers stack the Supreme Court.

Madcapschemes rules: Answer all of them. I’ll grade. Person with the top score gets $100 for their favorite non-political charity.

If you are the kind of person who uses Google to complete your crossword puzzles, this may not be for you. Cheaters will not be allowed, and there is nothing I can do about it. But if I catch you, you will have to put that forbidden chewing gum on the blackboard, stick your nose in it and stand there until class is over. (What teacher did that? I can’t remember, but I can remember the student’s name, which will be withheld until he gets a presidential pardon in the next few weeks).

So let your honesty be your guide.

Here are the instructions for those seeking citizenship:

Listed below are the 128 civics questions. These questions cover important topics about American government and history.

To become a citizen of the United States, you must answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions. You must answer at least 12 questions (or 60%) correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test. 

* If you are 65 years old and have lived in the United States for 20 years, you have to answer 10 out of the starred 20 civics test questions. You must answer at least 6 out of 10 correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

The madcapschemes.com rules:

Answer all of them or you will have to repeat year 2020.

A: Principles of American Government
1. What is the form of government of the United States?

2. What is the supreme law of the land?*

3. Name one thing the U.S. Constitution does.

4. The U.S. Constitution starts with the words “We the People.” What does “We the People” mean?

5. How are changes made to the U.S. Constitution?

6. What does the Bill of Rights protect?

7. How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have?*

8. Why is the Declaration of Independence important?

9. What founding document said the American colonies were free from Britain?

10. Name two important ideas from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

11. The words “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” are in what founding document?

12. What is the economic system of the United States?*

13. What is the rule of law?

14. Many documents influenced the U.S. Constitution. Name one.

15. There are three branches of government. Why?

B: System of Government

16. Name the three branches of government.

17. The President of the United States is in charge of which branch of government?

18. What part of the federal government writes laws?

19. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?

20. Name one power of the U.S. Congress.*

21. How many U.S. senators are there?

22. How long is a term for a U.S. senator?

23. Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators now?

24. How many voting members are in the House of Representatives?

25. How long is a term for a member of the House of Representatives?

26. Why do U.S. representatives serve shorter terms than U.S. senators?

27. How many senators does each state have?

28. Why does each state have two senators?

29. Name your U.S. representative. 

30. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?* 

31. Who does a U.S. senator represent?

32. Who elects U.S. senators?

33. Who does a member of the House of Representatives represent?

34. Who elects members of the House of Representatives? 

35. Some states have more representatives than other states. Why?

36. The President of the United States is elected for how many years?* 

37. The President of the United States can serve only two terms. Why?

38. What is the name of the President of the United States now?*

39. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?* 

40. If the president can no longer serve, who becomes president? 

41. Name one power of the president.  

42. Who is Commander in Chief of the U.S. military?

43. Who signs bills to become laws?

44. Who vetoes bills?*

45. Who appoints federal judges? 

46. The executive branch has many parts. Name one.

47. What does the President’s Cabinet do?

48. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

49. Why is the Electoral College important?

50. What is one part of the judicial branch?

51. What does the judicial branch do? 

52. What is the highest court in the United States?* 

53. How many seats are on the Supreme Court?

54. How many Supreme Court justices are usually needed to decide a case?

55. How long do Supreme Court justices serve?

56. Supreme Court justices serve for life. Why?

57. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now? 

58. Name one power that is only for the federal government.

59. Name one power that is only for the states.

60. What is the purpose of the 10th Amendment?

61. Who is the governor of your state now?* 

62. What is the capital of your state?

C: Rights and Responsibilities

63. There are four amendments to the U.S. Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them. 

64. Who can vote in federal elections, run for federal office, and serve on a jury in the United States?

65. What are three rights of everyone living in the United States? 

66. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?* 

67. Name two promises that new citizens make in the Oath of Allegiance. 

68. How can people become United States citizens?

69. What are two examples of civic participation in the United States?

70. What is one way Americans can serve their country?

71. Why is it important to pay federal taxes?

72. It is important for all men age 18 through 25 to register for the Selective Service. Name one reason why.


A: Colonial Period and Independence

73. The colonists came to America for many reasons. Name one.

74. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?*

75. What group of people was taken and sold as slaves?

76. What war did the Americans fight to win independence from Britain?

77. Name one reason why the Americans declared independence from Britain.

78. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?*

79. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

80. The American Revolution had many important events. Name one.

81. There were 13 original states. Name five.

82. What founding document was written in 1787?

83. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.

84. Why were the Federalist Papers important?

85. Benjamin Franklin is famous for many things. Name one

86. George Washington is famous for many things. Name one.* 

87. Thomas Jefferson is famous for many things. Name one.

88. James Madison is famous for many things. Name one

89. Alexander Hamilton is famous for many things. Name one.

B: 1800s

90. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

91. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. 

92. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.

93. The Civil War had many important events. Name one

94. Abraham Lincoln is famous for many things. Name one.*  

95. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

96. What U.S. war ended slavery?

97. What amendment gives citizenship to all persons born in the United States?

98. When did all men get the right to vote?

99. Name one leader of the women’s rights movement in the 1800s.

C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information

100. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.

101. Why did the United States enter World War I?

102. When did all women get the right to vote? 

103. What was the Great Depression?

104. When did the Great Depression start?

105. Who was president during the Great Depression and World War II? 

106. Why did the United States enter World War II?

107. Dwight Eisenhower is famous for many things. Name one

108. Who was the United States’ main rival during the Cold War?

109. During the Cold War, what was one main concern of the United States?

110. Why did the United States enter the Korean War?

111. Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?

112. What did the civil rights movement do?

113. Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous for many things. Name one.* 

114. Why did the United States enter the Persian Gulf War?

115. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States?*

116. Name one U.S. military conflict after the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

117. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.

For a complete list of tribes, please visit bia.gov.

118. Name one example of an American innovation.


A: Symbols

119. What is the capital of the United States?

120. Where is the Statue of Liberty?  

121. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?*

122. Why does the flag have 50 stars?

123. What is the name of the national anthem?

124. The Nation’s first motto was “E Pluribus Unum.” What does that mean? 

B: Holidays

125. What is Independence Day?

126. Name three national U.S. holidays.*

127. What is Memorial Day?

128. What is Veterans Day?

Last Reviewed/Updated:


Claudia leads, 2-0, in picking Biden’s Cabinet; John won’t concede

Claudia has now picked two of Biden’s Cabinet correctly; John has chosen none. Claudia admits she was in two of Mr. Folk’s classes at LCHS and he was her favorite teacher. And she obviously paid attention.

John says the only way he can lose this race is if it is rigged. John had considered hiring Rudi Gooeylanni to take this to the highest court in the land. However, Sidney “Landslide” Powell might be looking for a job and might lead John’s effort to get a recount.

In 1-on-1 race for picking Biden Cabinet posts, Claudia is leading

Guessing Biden’s Cabinet appointments
Sec. of StateChris Coons0Susan Rice0
Homeland Alejandro Mayorkas1Alexander Vindman0
Claudia has successfully picked Mayorkas as Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security, giving her one point in our one-on-one contest to pick Biden’s Cabinet.

Our contest to name Biden’s new Cabinet came down to Claudia and I. There were criticisms of my guesses, but Claudia was the only one who submitted a full list of the Cabinet posts that are in the line of succession.

Claudia was so confident of winning that she included the non-political charity that she wants me to donate $100 dollars to: Enduring Hearts.

Frankly, I thought I would win this contest. Claudia graduated from Liberty Center High School (Go Tigers!) before me and probably never had Mr. Folk or Mr. Doughten as her history or Problems of Democracy teacher. That, I figured, gave me an advantage.

Not to be. In the early running, Claudia is up 1-0 over me.

So who were your history and POD teacheers, Claudia?

If I get one of these right, it will be a miracle

 Claudia has left me no choice. I figured I’d do terrible at guessing Biden’s Cabinet, but then Claudia and her husband, Jim, said they would donate $100 to the non-political charity of choice for the winner of the Cabinet picks. So we are off.

The winner will be whoever picks the most number of Cabinet posts correctly. We are only doing those that are in the line of succession if the president can’t serve. There are 15 of them. Give me your list soon as Biden is busy making his picks.

If I get one right, it will be a miracle. Here are my picks:

Secretary of State, Department of State: Susan Rice. Cry more, Jim Jordan.

    Secretary of the Treasury, Department of the Treasury: Lael Brainard. OK, I saw this in the New York Times.

    Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense: John Kelly. Showed some sense in the Trump admin.

    Attorney General, Department of Justice: Vann Jones. Served in Obama admin, CNN commentator.

    Secretary of the Interior, Department of the Interior: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. He’ll be happy to get out of the Treasure State now being run by a Flintstones Christian.

    Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture: Jon Doggett, CEO of National Corn Growers. Help the corn growers!

    Secretary of Commerce, Department of Commerce: Andrew Yang, one smart candidate for the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.

    Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor: Courtney Jenkins is an active and outspoken leader for the American Postal Workers Union Local 181 in Baltimore. And lord knows the Post Office could use some help.

    Secretary of Health & Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services: Mitt Romney. Hey, he put together the Massachusetts ACA.

    Secretary of Housing & Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development: Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta

    Secretary of Transportation, Department of Transportation: Julian Castro, served in Obama’s Cabinet

    Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

    Secretary of Education, Department of Education: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs: Scott Kelly, veteran and astronaut

    Secretary of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security: Alexander Vindman. You may recognize him from Trump’s impeachment.

Two other winners name their charities

Two other winners in the 20020 electoral handicapping contests have named their charities to receive $100. Paul, an ex Marine who served two tours in Iraq, has named DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust (https://cst.dav.org/). He has also decided to donate to Seattle Compassion Services, the charity I donated to. If anyone wants to do the same, the website is https://seattlecompassion.com/.

Don’s charity is Giving Kitchen, which supports unemployed food-service workers (mostly due to COVID) in Atlanta: https://thegivingkitchen.org/. That’s near and dear to my heart as our son lost his restaurant job at the start of the pandemic.

So thank you, Paul and Don.

3 winners in 2020 election contest, and a new challenge

First of all, I overlooked one of the entries to this contest, and it looks like it’s a winner. Mark sent it this entry, which I missed:


Changes to your handicapped picks:

Move from Trump to Biden: Florida, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Move from Biden to Trump: -0- (none)

Mark said my 2020 presidential handicapping would have five wrong, and he is right. Mark was also the one who suggested how we would deal with the two states that split their electoral votes: Giving it to the candidate who got the highest number of votes in that state. Good thing he did, because I got one of them wrong. Maine should have been in the Biden column as he got three of the four votes available. I had Nebraska right as Trump got four of the five votes available.

Here’s what I got wrong:

I had these states for Trump. They went to Biden: Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

I had this state for Biden, should have gone to Trump: North Carolina

Besides Mark, we had two other winners, who said I had five wrong:

Don K. 5 wrong:

Biden gets Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Not Florida.

Paul: 5 wrong.

Biden gets Wisconsin, Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida and Georgia.

Not Florida

So, I have three charities that will receive $100 from me, plus I am going to donate $100 to Seattle Compassion Services since I also had five wrong. Mark, the “Mr. President” champion, was so sure that he would win that he listed his charity with his entry:

My charity is Operation Nightwatch

Fed nonprofit #: https://www.seattlenightwatch.org/about-us/financials/

donation page: 


Don and Paul, what charities do you want to receive $100 from Outobut Polling?

Thank you to the others who participated in this handicapping adventure. Here is a participant medal you can cut out and hang next to your computer.

Also, we are not waiting for Trump tantrums, court cases, recounts, endless rounds of golf before he moves out of the White House. Even the nine jockeys in their black silk robes could not throw out this election. At least, I hope not.

And we have a suggestion for a new assignment from Claudia:

“I have a new assignment for you! I would love to see your cabinet picks. I want to see a diverse cabinet, and I would love to see a female majority. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of picks, but am always open for input and organization 😉

That is a big task. However, I am willing to give it a try. Let’s limit it to those who are in the line of succession and not the ones that have been added by presidents on top of those in the line of succession. The would mean that after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate, these are in the line of succession:

  • Secretary of State, Department of State
  • Secretary of the Treasury, Department of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense
  • Attorney General, Department of Justice
  • Secretary of the Interior, Department of the Interior
  • Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce, Department of Commerce
  • Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor
  • Secretary of Health & Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing & Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Transportation, Department of Transportation
  • Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy
  • Secretary of Education, Department of Education
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Secretary of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security

Fifteen Cabinet spots. Prizes to be named later.