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We’re still here. The Optimists of the World Society may hold its annual meetings in ever-smaller closets, but it is a relentlessly ongoing — optimistic, you could say — society. Here are a few steps with which you can guarantee continued inclusion.

Faith. For example, I live in a 12-story building with two elevators, both of which currently operate on faith. Oh, they are reportedly safe — a nice touch — but the electronic system involved with button-pushing has spun into its own inscrutable non-pattern: the Up or Down button may or may not light up, or both buttons may…


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“If you voted for Biden,” she wrote, “you are still my friend. If you voted for Trump, you are still my friend. We are all friends and neighbors, no matter what.”

Can you argue with that?

The writer is a 20-year-old college student; smart, pretty, popular and well-grounded. Someone who actually believes that business about loving one’s neighbor, and doing unto others as one would like done unto oneself. The problem is, she wrote those lines not on some old-fashioned email or piece of paper; she wrote them on Twitter — which commands a worldview of its own. …


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My friend M reports losing five pounds since starting a new weight loss/mindfulness program. The next door neighbor is training for a marathon in the fall. Actually, I’m signed up to do the (virtual) Rabun Ramble 5K, having plotted an acceptable route in San Francisco not quite as challenging as the real Ramble’s North Georgia hills, but who’s checking? Liz, one of my longtime best friends, is working with an editor on the memoir that many of us, not just her family, have been pushing her to do for years.

You’d think it was New Year’s.

Actually, that seems to…


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When did instant hate become okay?

There’s a charming new neighbor in my building. We have a lot in common: graduate-degree education, reasonably successful grown children, a fondness for historical fiction and long walks around San Francisco. One major difference: nobody ever yelled at me to go back where I came from.

Or spat on the ground while passing by me.

Early in the pandemic but just before the lockdown, my new friend was talking with a college-age cousin in front of a San Francisco store. Two white men dressed in casual work clothes, appearing to be in their forties…


Joy! Prosperity! Wealth & Success!

Here’s to the 8's

Should be a very good year. Having just turned 88 on the 8th, I am assured by many of my Chinese friends of an especially fine time ahead: Double joy! Prosperity! Wealth and success! Devin, my extraordinary acupuncturist, tells me that when he was racing motorcycles (a few decades ago) his number was 88 — and here he is, still alive and practicing acupuncture. I may not be Chinese, but I’m a believer. So I hereby embrace it all, the whole cloud of blessings.

With a little help from Wikipedia, the…


How many Presbyterians does it take (you may have heard this one) to change a light bulb??

C-H-A-N-G-E???

I get to repeat this, having been a Presbyterian for about sixty years and being intimately familiar with our reflex opposition to change. However. The global changes of the past 14 or so months have given an entirely new meaning to things like the trauma of switching a word in some obscure hymn.

With the baby steps we are now taking into the New Normal, some of it looks pretty abnormal. We — I, at least — created an interim sort-of normal…


Her name was Joyce Almeida. An 18-year-old student, she was killed instantly by one shot through her lung. Joyce had been on the edge of the downtown crowd with her parents, who had fled for cover behind their car and at first failed to notice Joyce’s soundless collapse onto the pavement. One man in uniform, though, was seen at the exact same time, on horseback, galloping away but firing behind him in all directions at the crowd of mostly civilian men, women and children.

A sadly familiar story today. I was stunned to discover it, reported in a familiar script…


The Chauvin verdict, and other observations . . .

Twelve of our fellow citizens quietly did their civic duty in Minneapolis. Beginning March 29 and ending April 20 they listened to more details of a terrible crime than most of us could handle. They debated among themselves for what had to have been one very long day before delivering the verdict that former police officer Derek Chauvin was guilty of murder.

Sometimes the system works.

I would not have traded jobs with one of those jurors for any 5 minutes of the weeks they gave up to be good citizens, but I appreciate them beyond measure. And I am…


Congratulations to you on so many levels. That "one day at a time" thing really works, too. I've been alcohol-free for 35+ years, and it's more liberating every day. Lovely drinks like ginger beer (it's non-alcoholic) & coconut water keep me happy, and often bemused by people who think they're just "buzzed." Keep on being kind & forgiving to yourself and you're going to be fine. Thanks for this good piece.


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One more strange thing during the dark days of Pandemia was my sense, much of the time outdoors, that I may have been the only person in San Francisco without a dog. Crossing the dog play area while doing my par course thing at Mountain Lake Park, skirting the similar space in Lafayette Park, or walking along any of San Francisco Bay’s limitless varieties of woods and beaches — I have felt acutely dog-less. Despite having had and loved a long list of family canines; I am currently without. And in recent times that has seemed particularly unseemly.

“You want…

FranMorelandJohns

Lifelong newspaper & magazine writer, author, blogger at franjohns.net, agitator for justice, kindness & interfaith understanding.

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