Mary Beth Writes

Thinking Outside the Box: 

Len once told me this WWII story. The first generation of bomber raids from England to Germany resulted in a terrifying number of bomber planes being shot down. Experts carefully examined the returning planes to create detailed reports of the bullet holes as they tried to understand how to reinforce the planes to make them safer.

Then someone consulted Abraham Wald, a Hungarian-Jewish statistician who had fled Nazi-occupied Austria and who was working in New York to help the war effort. Wald pointed out that the experts had only looked at bombers who’d returned.

The planes that made it back had survived the bullet holes that experts had so carefully mapped and calibrated. The luck of the returning planes resided not in where they had been struck – but in where they had NOT been struck.

The way to make the bomber planes less vulnerable was to reinforce parts of the plane that were NOT struck in the planes that made it back. When they did that, bombers became more resilient and successful.

Read more here: When data gives the wrong solution — TREVOR BRAGDON

If Racism and Climate Crisis are humanity’s most dangerous challenges right now; Covid following on the heels of both of these … what do we do and where do we act?

If we were a discussion group (and maybe we are?) I would ask this.

What has worked to combat political idiocy in the near and far past?

What IS working right now, in your opinion?

What choices have you made and/or groups have you joined that have enabled you to be part of something big and good and just?

What’s strong? What’s working?

Speaking of what’s working - last night we watched Kiss the Ground. .

Watch it. It shows how we can do more than just prevent things from getting worse, but how we can return carbon back into our earth where we need it. The movie is it not simplistic. It is clear.

Watch it. (Netflix)

This Sunday the service of my Unitarian Universalist congregation will be a little unusual. Years ago, I wrote a short story about two guys and one donkey and what happens when the donkey, named Miles, says one thing. Jennifer Beiriger and I will read the story throughout the service. Meg Whaley sings some beautiful songs. If you would like to join in virtually, this is the link to our website. On Sunday morning about 9AM, a link should appear to take you into the virtual service.

Hope this works.



I really don’t want to quote an old white guy but it’s too good: the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but building the new (Socrates)
Mary Beth's picture

I like this.

I teared up. I learned so much. And I can do more.... Thanks for the recommendation, I will pass it on. Can't wait to tune in Sunday.

You always give me things to think about. Thank you. Will watch your movie suggestion. Have a good weekend. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you! We are off to Chicago to spend the afternoon with our daughters and granddaughter. It will be a very fine day, indeed.

I think the thing I've been learning most from activists and in my own life is that we're playing the long game. White supremacy tends toward a sense of urgency--being busy is a way we feel useful because we have been taught to do things first and think later. There's balance. Yes, it's urgent. Also, things are changing. These things are not mutually exclusive. I don't know if this makes sense? I'm still learning and processing. So thanks for letting me share!

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"Brotherhood" by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr - A Book Review


“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

Thanks & Now Let's Do Pups!


 Thank You!

I sent our collated list of “Ways to Help My Community” to the Third Graders this morning.  Laura has already shared it with them; I just received this from one kid. This was really cool and helpful thank you for coming back to me so quickly well you always respond quickly like all the time and also I like hiring (hearing) from you always make me smile from writing to pictures I love them all.”

3rd graders on Community Building



I’m just back from volunteering in the third grade.  I’ve done this for five years; Laura Zahn who is this class’s teacher, plus her friend and fellow teacher Mara, have become among my favorite people in Waukesha. 

My Relationship with a Door 10/5/2021

Dear Friends,

I seem to be out of Deep Thoughts lately. Not sure if this is apparent to you but it is to me. This is not exactly a problem but keeps me guessing what in the world I should be writing. Or - since “should” is a sometimes toxic and generally unhelpful word – these days I am not sure what you want to read and I want to write.

So maybe I’ll just write you a quick Dear Friends. Sometimes relationships are just about checking in.

Up North 9/30/2021

Here’s why I’ve not posted anything in nearly two weeks.

Last week Len and I took a trip to Duluth, MN and Ashland, WI. We hiked seven hikes, met new friends, ate too much. (We didn’t eat IN restaurants. We ate take-out dinners while sitting in our car overlooking Chequamegon Bay.) We marinated in the breezy Up North rhythms of woods, streams, rivers, and Lake Superior. 

Then we came home to all that stuff one does up returning; laundry, groceries, and bringing in the Big Dozers to deal with cat litter boxes. 

Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

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