Random thoughts on a mid-May night:

— Rest in peace, Harmon “The Killer” Killebrew.  Growing up in northeast Iowa, I listened to many baseball games from the Twin Cities with Harmon in the line-up. How amazing each time he sent the ball out of Metropolitan Stadium. Years later I saw that homeplate — now inside the Mall of America that was built on the site of the old stadium. I went to one game there in the early 1980s. Killebrew played for 22 seasons — 1954 to 1975, with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.  In the late 1980s, I took my son to Scottsdale and sort of walked in on a dinner for baseball old-timers where my son Eric got Killebrew’s autograph and a photo taken with him. He died today at the age of 74 from cancer of the esophagus.

—  Our next-door neighbor, with his two barking dogs, has moved out.  They truly, truly trashed his back yard. Now comes a county auction on a house whose mortgage is under water.  We brace  in fear some slumlord buys it and turns it into a rental with  all the consequences for the neighborhood.

— Norma Zimmer, the “Champagne Lady” of  The Lawrence Welk Show, has died at the age of 87.  What a grand singer who took countless inspirational songs and gave them wings. So great to keep on hearing and seeing her and the Welks gang in reruns on Channel 8 on Saturday nights. She could so gloriously sing works of  Gershwin, Rodger & Hammerstein, Cole Porter and others.

— “The Party of Quitters” is an apst phrase I heard this week for the Republican Party as a series of hopefuls or prospects announced they don’t have what it will take to run and win — mostly money and poll numbers.  It is a pathetic political party anyway as it strives to preserve the gentry class of America, doing the bidding politically for the wealthy and powerful so they, in turn, will get the financial backing to keep on holding down seats in Congress or governor’s chairs. That Republicans want to dismantle 75 years of New Deal and Great Society legislation is now obvious.  May the sheeple of America awake and recognize the GOP for what it is. But it would have been fun watching Donald Trump especially self-destruct as a declared candidate.

— Last Thursday, May 12, I marked my 40th anniversary of my discharge from the United States Army, where I was an E-5 Specialist, and active sergeant, carrying an 71L military occupational specialty.  On Sunday, I marked my 25th anniversary as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Tempe. Technically, I have 25 years of perfect attendance. Although I have missed a few weekly meetings over the year, I have made them up through involvement in its service projects and other Kiwanis gatherings to get credit. I earned “Kiwanian of the Year” four times, was Club presidnet in 1988-89, am the longest living recipient of the George F. Hixson Fellow Award and have been club newsletter editor since January 1990. I also spent a year as Kiwanis lieutenant governor.

— So Saturday is “Judgment Day.” Thus cometh the apocalypse, according  Harold Camping of Family Radio. The end is near, he says. Only 200,000 of the 2 billion believers of Christ will be raptured, the Oakland, Calif., radio evangelist says.  The slow-talking 89-year-old one-time engineer has been laying things out for month.   I interviewed him by phone in the early 1990s when he was prophesying endtimes for September 1994 as told in his book “1994.”  Now he has deduced from his biblical investigations that wrath will come down on all who are left behind on Saturday. For the following five months, until Oct. 21, 2011, all on earthy will be subjects to horrific suffering before God destroys the earth and the universe, Camping believes.   There are two words for Camping: false prophet.   I don’t expect an apocalypse on Saturday. But won’t, please, those who believe in it and pass the muster  willingly turn over their belongings and earthly wealth to others unlikely to be raptured so possessions don’t go to waste?  He calls evolution a scam and sees civil rights for gays is a sign of God’s decision to destroy the earth.   What will Camping say Monday night on his radio show?