This time last year – in Jerusalem!

My pre-trip Google-work notwithstandingI got many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at nearby Leonardo‘s…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorWe’re ending Week 10 of the COVID-19 lockdown, and so my thoughts drift to “this time last year.” This time last year – on May 23, 2019 – I was in Jerusalem. Specifically, “today” my group visited the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. (Now called the “Haram esh Sharif.*”) The Haram al-Sharif houses the Dome of the Rock, which most people notice in those long-range, panoramic views of Jerusalem. (On account of the bright gold dome.)

And where you sometimes see men having to wear these cover-all long brown “dresses.” Just in case they forgot the rule about “modesty” when visiting Islamic holy places? (And wear shorts instead?) But we digress…

May 23, 2019, was a Thursday, and I felt a bit overwhelmed. The visit was part of a pilgrimage, a course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem. (The “Palestine of Jesus.”)  There were some 40 people in the whole group, and about 20 came from my hometown church in Peachtree City, GA. Nine of us had left Atlanta late Friday night, May 11, and arrived in Tel Aviv about 8:00 the next night, Saturday May 11. That Sunday was my first full day in Jerusalem, which I spent alone; we had to get our own lodging until the course started Monday night.

That’s when I discovered the BeerBazaar Jerusalem, on Jaffa Street. That was a good day…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people sitting, child, hat and outdoorSince that Sunday we’d done a lot of traveling and pilgrimage stuff, mostly by bus. We started the morning of Thursday, May 23, 2019 by getting bussed to the Dung Gate. It’s at the lower end of the Old City in Jerusalem. (And guess what went through there?) Then we went on to the Haram esh Sharif (the “Noble [Muslim] Sanctuary”). You have to go through that “Muslim section” to get through to the Jewish “Wailing Wall.” (A message there?)

That’s also known as the Western Wall, but getting back to the point: The rules for going through the Haram esh Sharif – to get to the Western Wall – call for “modest dress.” For women that means skirts below the knees, and for men that means no shorts. Women with skirts above the knees have to put on these doofy-looking long brown skirts.

But they definitely suit the women better than they do the men…

I reviewed the trip in “Back from three weeks in Israel,” posted on June 14, 2019. That was mostly about my disastrous last day in Israel; specifically, Tel Aviv.

I was “all cocky” from my smooth trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv the day before. And on miraculously finding some others in my group. (Rather than heading home, they were going to Petra, a “historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan.) I also reviewed the beginning of the trip in My first full day in Jerusalem. (In my companion blog, on the trials and tribulations of that first day of my pilgrimage. That included hearing a mysterious “explosion” at 4:08 on the morning of Sunday, May 12.)  But back to “this time last year,” May 23, 2019…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorThere was a long line to get to the Wailing Wall. We started on a ramp – seen at left from down near the Wall itself – then had to negotiate up, to and through the Haram esh Sharif, then around to the other side. (We saw Israeli soldiers escorting a Jewish family through the Muslim section of the complex, to avoid trouble no doubt.) Then – before going down to the Wall itself – deeply spiritual people (like myself) go through a form of water-ritual-purification.*

It was definitely crowded – in part because of the number of bar mitzvahs held that morning, as shown in the photo above left – but eventually I found a niche in the Wall. I stuck my own set of “paper and prayers” into the niche, then leaned up against the Wall, left hand out and on it, for quite a long time. A few minutes later I went back and leaned my forehead against the wall. (Like some of the locals were doing.) It was a very moving experience…

Now about that Leonardo Hotel, shown at the top of the page. It’s catty-corner from St. George’s College, which turned out to be very convenient. Briefly, before I left home I did some Google-mapping to find the closest bars to St. George’s, on Nablus Street. I just wanted to make sure I could get a nightcap if the need arose.

Those bars all seemed to be all clustered about a mile southwest of the college. But as it turned out, the Leonardo Hotel was a mere two-minute walk from St. George’s. It also turned out that there was a “Bistro” at St. George’s, but it closed a lot earlier. It also served Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer. The Leonardo served Maccabee, in tall drafts. (Wikipedia said Maccabee is 4.9%, but my souvenir bottle said it’s 7.9% alcohol.) Thus the “many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at Leonardo‘s.”

Officially it’s the Leonardo Moria Hotel, and aside from those later hours, the lounge sometimes functioned as a piano bar. Like one evening when the yarmulke-topped pianist played the Chicken Dance. But I seemed to be the only one in the place who’d heard it before…

Fortunately – because I “felt a bit overwhelmed” and all – we had a free afternoon that May 23, 2019. (I walked back over to Davidka Square, also on Jaffa Street, for some brandy “just in case.”) The next day we walked the Via Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Way”), then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. That’s where my brother – part of the Peachtree City group – got “escorted” out of line by a big burly Orthodox monk. For taking pictures when you weren’t supposed to?

But that’s a story for another post…  (“Boy, some of those people are strict!“) 

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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Some of my fellow St. George’s pilgrims at the “Wailing Wall…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem King George Street – Image Results. See also Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem | ex. Novotel Hotel Jerusalem. I took the other photos- including the one below right – of “deeply spiritual people” going through a “form of water-ritual-purification.”

The “Haram esh Sharif” is also referred to as the Haram al-Sharif. 

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Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and indoorRe:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in the Atlanta metro area.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

A final note: While this post is “dated” May 24, 2020, I actually posted it at 9:15 p.m. on May 23.

On Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down…

 Voltaire,  a new figure – the intellectual recluse” – during a time of “destruction let loose…”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

It’s Sunday May 10, 2020, and we’re at the end of eight full weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. And since wisdom begins with the definition of terms – as Socrates said – I’ll clarify.

To me, the pandemic hit full swing – the “‘stuff’ hit the fan” – back on Thursday, March 12. That’s when the ACC basketball tournament got cancelled, and March Madness and college baseball were called off. Also about that time the NBA, NHL and other major professional sport seasons all ended. (For what those college sports mean to me, see June 2018’s “Unintended consequences” – and the search for Truth, and February 2019’s On my “mission from God.”)

So my definition of the “First Full Week of the Covid-19 Pandemic” has it starting Sunday, March 15 and ending Saturday, March 21. (Meaning we’re actually starting the ninth full week of the pandemic.) And that pandemic shows no signs of abating, which means we need continue adjusting to a “New normal.” (With social distancing, extreme caution and shortages of all kinds.) 

Which brings up the question: What did people do in the Olden Days when disaster struck?

For more on that see below, but for now let’s just say that I personally have been “busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.” Aside from working three days a week – at the local branch of Keep America Beautiful – I’ve been exercising eight hours a week.

That includes two hours of high-intensity exercise. (Stair-stepping 30 minutes a time, wearing a 28-pound weight vest and ten pounds of ankle weights.) Plus an hour or so of yoga a week, plus calisthenics, sometimes interspersed with at least 200 minutes of medium-intensity workout. That can include kayaking or hiking an hour or so at a time.  But it also includes lots of time stretching and bending, while watching lectures from The Great Courses Plus.

I signed up on May 3, and been loving it. And putting my “shelter at home” time to good use.

Fundamentals of PhotographySome of the courses I’ve begun so far:

‘Fundamentals of Photography” (at left), “Understanding the Old Testament,” “Understanding the New Testament,” “Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques,” “America’s Founding Fathers,” “Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything,” and “Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom.”

But the course I’ve latched onto most recently is “The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy.” And that course begins with this, that the “conquest and settlement of the American West transformed the United States from a regional republic into a continental power.”

The American West: History, Myth, and LegacyLecture One included a quote from Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the “most influential historians of the American West.” He said key elements of the American character came from the encounter of settlers with the frontier.

Domesticating the frontier … forced Americans to live by their wits, to cooperate, to revert temporarily to earlier stages of civilization, and to embody a more wholehearted democracy than anything on offer in the Old World.

And speaking of cooperation, he added that Americans taming the frontier learned to “adapt, to cooperate with one another, and to treat each other as equals.” (Emphasis added.) By such means as mutual cooperation and treating each other as equals, they “subdued the wild lands around them, working out ideas and techniques unknown to their ancestors.”

Needless to say, I was struck by the words “cooperate with one another” and “treat each other as equals.” To which I can only say, “What the hell happened?”

But enough of politics. (For a while anyway.) For the time being I’ve decided to revert to making this post more like a series of personal essays. That is, where the writer “explores his or her own thoughts, often as related to an organizing idea or subject.” Which brings back what I’ve learned about what people did in the Olden Days, when disasters like our pandemic struck?

One answer came from the 1759 novel Candide, by Voltaire. It opens with the hero – Candide – “living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise.” But from there things go downhill:

The work describes … Candide’s slow and painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes Candide [by] advocating a deeply practical precept, “we must cultivate our garden,” in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, “all is for the best” in the “best of all possible worlds.”

Or as Voltaire put it in another setting, “Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s [own] garden.” (Voltaire’s Solution to a Life Full of Thorns.) And speaking of Eden – as in “a place or state of great happiness [or] an unspoiled paradise” – that seems to be what we used to have, before Covid-19. Or at least it seems so in hindsight…

Then there’s what historian Kenneth Clark said in his 1969 book Civilisation, about what some did during a time of great upheaval. (Like today’s.) Writing about the violence brought on Europe by the Protestant Reformation, he said that whatever the long-term effects,

…the immediate results were very bad; not only for art, but bad for life. The North [of Europe] was full of bully boys who rampaged around the country and took any excuse to beat people up… All the elements of destruction were let loose.

So a great upheaval – with elements of panic and destruction “let loose” – can come from either other people (“bully boys”) or from nature itself. So what do we do, in the process of riding out this storm? Or as Clark put it, “What could an intelligent, open-minded man do in mid-sixteenth-century Europe?” Or for that matter, here in America this 2,020th “year of our Lord?”

His short-and-sweet answer, “Keep quiet, work in solitude, outwardly conform, inwardly remain free.” Which as a result of the European wars of religion created a figure new to Europe but “familiar in the great ages of China: the intellectual recluse.” (Which at this point evokes – to the writer anyway – the old Maynard G. Krebs repeated line, “You rang?“)

Yet another answer is to “Keep on keeping on.” As in, “to persevere,” which means to persist or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement. Or maybe “cooperate?” Or get back to “treating each other as equals?” Or at least with a bit more respect. See Treat each other with respect – Communication and Conflict. Of which more later…

Or as Voltaire once said, “Treat other people with respect, even the Dumbasses!

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The upper image is courtesy of Voltaire – Image Results. This particular image accompanies an article, “Rodama: a blog of the 18th century,” subtitled “Houdon: ‘Seated Voltaire’ at Les Délices.”

Here are some pictures of Houdon’s Seated Voltaire, the beautiful centrepiece of the Musée Voltaire at Les Délices in Geneva, which I was lucky enough to visit last Easter. This version is among the finest examples of Houdon’s famous statue, and is particularly unusual in that it is made of terracotta.

I chose this image because to me it seems most similar to what I might have looked like, had I gone through Voltaire’s particular trials and tribulations. (Instead of just my own.)

Re:  The full quote reads as follows:

Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential historians of the American West, argued that the distinctive elements of the American character came from the encounter of settlers with the frontier. Domesticating the frontier, Turner wrote in an 1893 essay, forced Americans to live by their wits, to cooperate, to revert temporarily to earlier stages of civilization, and to embody a more wholehearted democracy than anything on offer in the Old World.

Re: Personal essays. See also 7 Helpful Tips on How to Write a Memorable Personal Essay

Re: The ending of Candide. Wikipedia had the ending – “we must cultivate our garden” – translated into French, il faut cultiver notre jardin.” But see also Candide Conclusion Summary & Analysis from LitCharts, which worded the ending as “All that is very well … but let us cultivate our garden.”

Re: Kenneth Clark. The quotation from Clark is from the hardcover book version of his Civilisation (TV series), at page 161. For an interesting sidelight on “Sir” Clark, see A new book reveals Kenneth Clark was also a bed-hopping, wife-stealing rogue

Though ostensibly a happily married man with a dutiful and caring wife … he couldn’t keep his manicured hands or his swooning heart away from other women. He was a serial adulterer, a constant seeker of affairs, even [the] wives of his close friends. This upright pillar of the Establishment was … as one of his detractors put it most succinctly, ‘a frightful s**t’.

Re: The “dumbasses” Voltaire quote. See State Farm TV Commercial, ‘The Internet and French Model, and State Farm … Bonjour – Image Results.

The lower image is courtesy of Treat Each Other Respect – Image Results. See also Live Life Happy – Inspirational Quotes, etc. 

 

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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One final note. While some indications show this essay was posted on May 11, 2020, I actually posted it about 8:43 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, 2020.

 

Thank God Jesus wasn’t conservative…

Steuben - Bataille de Poitiers.png

If Jesus had been conservative we might all be Muslim (i.e. and e.g.,no Battle of Poitiers“)…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

What with the Coronavirus pandemic and the demands of working three days a week, it’s been tough to do posts on a consistent, timely basis. (See How Often Should You Blog in 2020?) But not for lack of topics or ideas. It’s because I blog mainly to learn, and for my own satisfaction. That means I “take enough time to do the job right,” not be consistent.

And I last posted here back on April 17, almost two weeks ago. So on this last day of April, 2020, I’m juggling four or five possible blog posts. Like “Memories of Lori,” based on listening today to  the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. (A movie that I saw back in 1980 with a lovely young copy editor at the St. Pete Times.)

Or a post on possible answers for really stupid Facebook posts. (Like my earlier Fighting right-wing distortions on Facebook.) So for this quick-response post I’ll go back to some thoughts I revisited five months ago, that have been percolating a good long while.

The topic is a favorite theme of mine – or Meme – that goes, “If so-and-so had been conservative, we’d all be ____!” And by the way, I take issue with today’s conservatives only because a reporter’s job – and by extension a blogger’s – is “challenge the prevailing quacks.”

And today’s conservatives are definitely the “prevailing quacks.”

For one example, “If the Founding Fathers had been conservative, we’d all be singing ‘God save the Queen’ at the start of our baseball games.” (If we weren’t playing cricket instead.) The idea – and the irony if not the incongruity – is that today’s conservatives act like they’re the only real Americans. The problem is that our forefathers came to this country mostly to get the hell away from conservatives – the ones who tended to stay back home.

In plain words, those old-time conservatives didn’t have the guts to put up with the challenges of creating a New World. It was the Independents and Dreamers who did all that.

Then there’s this, “If Jesus had been conservative, we’d all be talking Yiddish.” (“Oy vey,” to which might be added the Seinfeld meme, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”)

Or in the case of this post’s headline – “Thank God Jesus wasn’t a conservative” – the Punch line thereof would be:  “Otherwise we Americans might all be Muslim.” 

But don’t take my word for it. Kenneth Clark said that in his 1969 book Civilisation: “Without Charles Martel‘s victory over the Moors at Poitiers in 732, western civilization might never have existed…”  And by western civilization he meant western Christian civilization.

Which again means that if Jesus had been conservative – as many ostensible Christians claim today – there would have been no viable force to stop the “Islamic advance into Western Europe.”

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There’s a bit of background in the notes about how I happened on to Clark’s observation…

But – to cut to the chase – here’s the connection between Charles Martel and Jesus not being conservative. The idea is that if Jesus had been conservative, He wouldn’t have started the New Religion – the “New Testament” – that eventually bore His name. And Judaism would likely have stayed a relatively small religious movement. (Without the proselytizing that is such a trademark of Christianity, it would have been confined to the fringes of the eastern Mediterranean.)

In plain words, there would be nothing to stop Islam from taking over Western Europe.

At page 17 in his first chapter, “The Skin of Our Teeth,” Clark noted how close Western civilization came to be snuffed out. That is, with Fall of the Roman Empire, life in what we call the Middle (or “Dark“) Ages was generally nasty, brutish and short.

For one example, during those 500 years or so it was rare person indeed who could read or write. (“[P]ractically no lay person, from kings and emperors downwards, could read or write.”) And as Clark noted, it was only in the Church that reading and writing were preserved. “We survived because … for centuries practically all men of intellect joined the Church.” And it was Church scribes who preserved not only reading and writing, but also the classics of antiquity. “In so far as we are heirs of Greece and Rome, we got through by the skin of our teeth.”

Which is one reason to thank God that Jesus wasn’t conservative.

Another reason is that if Jesus had been conservative – and Judaism stayed a small religion without Christian proselytizing – there would be no Charles Martel, the French warrior-king (and “Hammer“) who saved Christian Europe. As historian Edward Gibbon noted:

[H]ad Charles fallen, the [Muslim armies] would have easily conquered a divided Europe… [T]he Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.

See Battle of Tours – Wikipedia. But that didn’t happen. Instead – and again cut to the chase – after many long centuries of struggle, mayhem and death, we now have a clearly-defined separation of church and state. Which started (arguably) with Charles Martel, an effective combination of ardent Christian, powerful military leader, and Independent.

Although Charles Martel ( d. 741)  is one of the most noted heroes in Christianity when studying one of the many violent encounters between Christian and Muslim forces, Charles “The Hammer” Martel was no marionette of the Church. He was quite an independent and practical thinker as a military leader and as a politician.

To which we could add, “Martel was an Independent, just like Moses and Jesus!” (And like me, for that matter. See A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter).”) 

Which is another way of saying that after Martel’s victory at the Battle of Tours (or Poitiers) neither the Church nor the governments of Europe gained complete control. The result was a “dynamic tension” between the two forces, which turned out to be a blessing.

That is, Charles Martel “begat” Charlemagne – actually his grandson – who has been called “the father of Europe.” (He “united parts of Europe that had never been under Frankish or Roman rule.”) Which again wouldn’t have happened without Martel’s victory at Tours.

The point is that in the fullness of time, Charlemagne traveled to Rome, where the Pope crowned him “emperor.” (At a Mass on Christmas Day, 800, “when Charlemagne knelt at the altar to pray, the Pope crowned him Imperator Romanorum (‘Emperor of the Romans’) in Saint Peter’s Basilica.”) Charlemagne later thought that episode was a mistake, in that it gave the pope a pretext of “supremacy” over him. (And future secular rulers.) Which led Clark to note:

But historical judgments are very tricky.  Maybe the tension between the spiritual and worldly powers throughout the Middle Ages was precisely what kept European civilisation alive. If either had achieved absolute power, society might have grown as static as the civilisations of Egypt and Byzantium.

(Clark, 20) And that – clearly – would have been the situation if Jesus had been either conservative or liberal. Instead, He and God seem to have worked together to maintain the Dynamic Tension that exists “even to this day,” between spiritual and worldly powers here in America. And why Jesus and God made sure that the foundations of American democracy included Freedom or religion and the separation of powers.

The result is that – whatever you might say about American democracy today – it is definitely not “static.” In short, if Jesus had been conservative, we here in America might have to see all our women togged out in those silly burqas, or otherwise covering themselves up…

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The upper image is courtesy of Umayyad invasion of Gaul – Wikipedia, rephrased in the main text as “Islamic advance into Western Europe.” The main point: “The Umayyad invasion of Gaul occurred in two phases in 720 and 732. Although the Muslim Umayyads secured control of Septimania, their incursions beyond this into the Loire and Rhône valleys failed. By 759 they had lost Septimania to the Christian Franks.” The caption for the painting: “The Battle of Tours” – also called the Battle of Poitiers – “in 732, depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours. Painting (1837) by Charles de Steuben.” See also the link Reconquista:

The Reconquista (Portuguese and Spanish for “reconquest”) was the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula of about 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492.

The photo to the left of the paragraph beginning “But don’t take my word for it” is courtesy of Kenneth Clark Civilisation – Image ResultsThe quotations from Clark are from the hardcover book version of his Civilisation (TV series), pages 18 and 20. And for an interesting sidelight on “Sir” Clark, see A new book reveals Kenneth Clark was also a bed-hopping, wife-stealing rogue

Though ostensibly a happily married man with a dutiful and caring wife … he couldn’t keep his manicured hands or his swooning heart away from other women. He was a serial adulterer, a constant seeker of affairs, even [the] wives of his close friends. This upright pillar of the Establishment was … as one of his detractors put it most succinctly, ‘a frightful s**t’.

As to “Christian civilization,” see How Sir Kenneth Clark Defended Christian Civilization on PBS.

And here’s some background on how I happened on Clark’s observations. I used to exercise seven hours a week. Over two of those hours included stair-stepping. (With a 28-pound weight vest and ten pounds of ankle weights.) And those two or more hours of stair-stepping were exceedingly boring. So to pass the time – and aside from listening to music on my iPod Shuffle – I watch VHS tapes, hooked up to a flat-screen TV. And my VHS collection includes a Box Set of Clark’s Civilisation (TV series). And some time ago – while stair-stepping an hour or so – I heard again Clark’s saying that Charles Martel saved western Christian civilization.  (It was like a “sign from God…”) A side-note: I now exercise some eight hours a week, but have cut down on the “weighted” stair-stepping.    

For more on the topic of Jesus-as-not-conservative, see The Story of the Law: Rene A. Wormser, 1962 paperback edition,  by Rene A. Wormser, at page 32. Briefly, Wormser used 29 pages to describe Moses’ role as “law-giver,” but only two to cover Jesus. Mostly, he wrote, because Jesus simply “preached what Jewish liberals had taught.” That is,”Jewish liberal thought had already produced the fine flowering of ethics which we now know best from Jesus’ lips.” For more on Wormser himself, see RENE A WORMSER, 85, LAWYER –  (Obituary) The New York Times.

The lower image is courtesy of Coronavirus Mask – Image Results.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

“Spanish flu” – Politically incorrect?

Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu at a hospital ward at Camp Funston

A sign of things to come, or déjà vu? “Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu…”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Back in mid-March (a month ago), we had a politically incorrect dust-up over the term “Chinese coronavirus.” See Tucker Carlson (at right): Racist for saying “Chinese coronavirus?”  (Another note: Coronavirus spreads anti-Chinese racism, xenophobia concerns.)

But aside from raising the twin concerns of spreading baseless “Conspiracy Theories” – and Scapegoating – the hubbub brings to mind another arguably “racist” disease: the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.

Two points. First, it was only called “Spanish flu” because Spain was the only major country that didn’t lie to its own people. That is, Spain didn’t censor bad news about the disease. Every other major country kept its citizens in the dark, lest their people panic.  (And maybe buy out all the store-stocked toilet paper?)  In plain words, they lied to their citizens and voters.

The other point? This one either puts things in perspective or gives us a preview of whatever bad news may be yet to come. For starters, as of April 15, 2020, there were some two million cases of Covid-19 worldwide. Coronavirus updates: COVID-19 cases top 2 million worldwide. To give us some perspective, the 1918 Spanish flu infected some 500 million people worldwide, making it “one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.”

As for deaths, to date some 28,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.  The 1918 Spanish flu killed some 675,000 Americans.*  Worldwide there have been some 134,000 Covid-19 deaths. (Coronavirus Update (Live).)  Spanish-flu deaths worldwide? No one knows for sure, but at least 17 million:

Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time.  The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million…

(See Wikipedia.  And as “noted” below,* if the present Covid-19 pandemic were to have a similar impact – in terms of population percentage – we’d have some 2,025,000 American deaths.)

Also – incidentally – the Spanish flu didn’t start in Spain. (No conspiracy theories please.) It got the name “Spanish flu” only because Spain was neutral in World War I. (Which was slowly coming to an end at about the same time.) That meant Spain didn’t censor the bad news about the disease. The nations actually fighting in World War I imposed strict censorship:

To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Newspapers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit.  This gave rise to the name Spanish flu.

Another note: “The Spanish flu was the first of two pandemics caused by the H1N1 influenza virus; the second was the swine flu in 2009.” (Speaking of déjà vu.)

And also speaking of deja vu, see the web article, America relearning the lessons of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  One big lesson?  Social distancing works, “but only when it’s imposed early. And it has to be sustained.” See US may have to endure social distancing until 2022 if no vaccine is quickly found. But the Number One lesson from the 1918 Spanish flu?  (According to the Fox News article.)  “Number one, give people the straight facts.”

And let the toilet-paper shortage fall where it may.

But there is one silver lining to this “Corona-cloud overhanging us.” Covid-19 has cut down on the number of mass shootings in the U.S. See  March 2020 was the first March without a school shooting in the U.S. since 2002, and Coronavirus Stopped US School Shooting In March.

Just compare the image below with the same one from a year ago, in May 2019…

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The upper image is courtesy of Spanish flu – Wikipedia. The caption: “Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with Spanish flu at a hospital ward at Camp Funston.”

The Carlson image is courtesy of Tucker Carlson – Wikipedia. Caption: “Immigrants’ Rights Rally in Washington Mall, 2006.” And BTW: Why not call it the “Trump Coronavirus?”

Another note, re: Carlson’s disease-name. See, Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 – Wikipedia:

Nearly a century after the Spanish flu struck in 1918–1920, health organizations moved away from naming epidemics after geographical places. More modern terms for this virus include the “1918 influenza pandemic,” the “1918 flu pandemic,” or variations of those.

The image to the left of the paragraph beginning “As for deaths” is courtesy of 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic – Wikipedia. Caption: “Public venues like this playground in Hannover, Germany, have closed throughout the country.”

Re: “The 1918 Spanish flu killed some 675,000 Americans.”  The U.S. population in 1920 – the nearest census to 1918 – was set at a bit over 106 million. 1920 United States Census – WikipediaThe U.S. population in 2020 is estimated at a bit over 329 million. Population of USA in 2020The world population as of 1927 was estimated at some two billion. World Population by Year – WorldometerThe world population is expected to be 7.8 billion by 2023. World Population Clock: 7.8 Billion People (2020). Thus there was a three-fold increase in American population between 1920 and 2020, and a “3.9-fold” increase in world population in the same century. Thus for the present Covid-19 to have a similar impact – in terms of percentage of population – the numbers would be as follows: some two million, twenty-five thousand (2,025,000) American deaths; as for the worldwide rate of infection, that 500-million-people total would reach one billion, nine hundred fifty million (1,950,000,000) people. (As noted, roughly a “quarter of the world’s population at the time.”) 

Also re: Number of Spanish flu deaths in the United States, see Worst-Case Estimates for U.S. Coronavirus Deaths (New York Times).

Incidents in 2019The lower image is courtesy of Mass Shootings in 2020 | Gun Violence Archive. As noted, compare that with the “incidents in 2019” lead image for “Trump’s” mass shootings, from May 2019, shown at right.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

Meditations on “the new plague…”

a close up of a book: During the 17th-century European plague, physicians wore beaked masks, leather gloves, and long coats in an attempt to fend off the disease. Their iconic and ominous look, as depicted in this 1656 engraving of a Roman doctor, is recognizable to this day.

“Their headgear was particularly unusual” – and the plague-rod helped “fend off victims…”

*   *   *   *

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Roseduration.jpgLast March 12, I went to the local library and checked out a copy of The Plague by Albert Camus. (In light our new Coronavirus pandemic.)  Which book, incidentally, I cannot now return, because that library and all others in the area are closed. (Possibly “for the duration.”)

At the same time I checked out a copy of What Jesus Meant, by Garry Wills, for a bit more uplifting reading. And I also started researching more on this “plague” business.

One thing I learned was that the Coronavirus is not – strictly speaking – a “plague.” According to Wikipedia that term is restricted to the “infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.” (Symptoms generally include fever, weakness and headache, similar to the Coronavirus.)

The most familiar form is bubonic plague, one of three types of this plague:

Bubonic and septicemic plague are generally spread by flea bites or handling an infected animal. The pneumonitic form is generally spread between people through the air via infectious droplets. Diagnosis is typically by finding the bacterium in fluid from a lymph node, blood or sputum.

La Peste book cover.jpgThe good news: There is now both vaccine and valid treatment for the plague of in Camus’ novel, at left. (Like “antibiotics and supportive care.” With which the risk of death through treatment is “about 10% while without it is about 70%.”) Not so with Coronavirus.

Not yet anyway… (And “La Peste” is French for “The Plague.”)

I also learned the difference between epidemic and a pandemic.

The web article Difference between epidemic and a pandemic went into great detail on distinctions between the terms, a distinction “often blurred, even among epidemiologists:”

  • Epidemic refers to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected.
  • Outbreak carries the same definition as an epidemic but is often used to describe a more limited geographic event.
  • Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

The article also noted the term “plague” refers “specifically to a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, such as bubonic plague.”

But we seem to be splitting hairs here. I didn’t check out Camus’ book because it was exactly on point with the current situation. I wanted to see what similarities there might be between the 1940s Algeria described by Camus, and America today, in March 2020.

Written in 1947, The Plague describes a “plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran.” As noted in one recent review, the novel poses a number of questions about “the nature of destiny and the human condition.” The book’s characters, “from doctors to vacationers to fugitives,” all show the effects of the plague. The novel thus poses a number of questions on “the nature of destiny and the human condition.” The book’s characters, “from doctors to vacationers to fugitives,” all show the effects of a plague on a community.

For myself, in some ways my life is more relaxed with this new “plague on a community.”

With none of my sport-teams playing, there’s no “canary in a coal mine” aspect to my spiritual life now. I have no pressing need for the ongoing ritual purity and ritual sacrifice that have been such a big part of my life since 1989 or so. (See “Unintended consequences” – and the search for Truth – illustrated at right – and On my “mission from God,” from a companion blog.) 

What remains is a series of annoying but petty minor inconveniences…

The biggest example? No more dine-in lunches, or dinners, or stopping by a local bar for a beer or two before Wednesday-night choir practice. And no more choir practice, or church on Sunday either for that matter. And pretty much every morning I used to stop by a local McDonald’s for iced coffee. I liked to sip a bit out, then put in lots more ice. (From the ice machine in the dine-in area. Remember those?)

There’s no more of that, but I’ve adapted. I now bring cup-and-straw from the day before (“saving the world, one McDonald’s straw at a time”), and fill it with ice from my home-freezer.  As for dine-in, every three days a week at work now – at the local branch of Keep America Beautiful,” still open as of this writing – I take my to-go order to the parish hall of my church, around the corner. (I’m the vestry person in charge of buildings, so I have a key.) There in the peace and quiet of the parish hall, I eat my lunch and read my hand-me-down Time magazines.

All of which is, I suppose, a metaphor of sorts…

But then again, even before this “new plague” hit I was pretty much a hermit, living in a rambling four-bedroom house on an isolated acre of woodland. (It’s so isolated that I don’t have any curtains or venetian blinds on any windows. Who the heck is going to look in?)

But back to The Plague by Camus. Here’s a quote from Part 1, early in the book:

Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.*

Which certainly seems true of this latest pestilence. It certainly came as a surprise.

I’ll no doubt be writing more meditations on this “new plague,” but for now the Faithful Reader is probably wondering, “What the heck is that beaked get-up at the top of the page?”

For a summary answer see Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks:

During the 17th-century European plague, physicians wore beaked masks, leather gloves, and long coats in an attempt to fend off the disease… [T]hey covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask with a long bird-like beak. The reason behind the beaked plague masks was a misconception about the very nature of the dangerous disease… Plague doctors wore spectacles … and a mask with a nose “half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils…” Plague doctors also carried a rod that allowed them to poke (or fend off) victims.

So much for that question. It’s a good thing we don’t believe in those silly superstitions anymore. And it’s a good thing history doesn’t repeat itself. And that we can learn so much from the lessons of the past, but we’re digressing again. So, going back to that review “The Plague” I cited above, here’s one thing the reviewer said, that seems to be relevant:

Being alive always was and will always remain an emergency; it is truly an inescapable “underlying condition…” This is what Camus meant when he talked about the “absurdity” of life. Recognizing this absurdity should lead us not to despair but to a tragicomic redemption, a softening of the heart, a turning away from judgment and moralizing to joy and gratitude.

One lesson? The current pestilence might lead to a massive change in our present national life, and especially our national political life. That is, the present “Coronavirus” might lead to a general and sweeping American “softening of the heart.”

Along with “a turning away from judgment and moralizing to joy and gratitude.” Or even a realization that there “are more things to admire in [all] people than to despise…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks. (National Geographic.) The article described the protective gear worn by “plague doctors:”

The costume [including the “beaked mask] is usually credited to Charles de Lorme, a physician… He described an outfit that included a coat covered in scented wax, breeches connected to boots, a tucked-in shirt, and a hat and gloves made of goat leather.

Re: “For the duration.” The image is courtesy of For the Duration – Wikipedia, about the 1991 album by Rosemary Clooney, “of songs popular during World War II.” 

Re: “Local branch of Keep America Beautiful.” See On “Mad Men” – Revisited, and a prior post cited therein, Whatever happened to … Cassidy?

Re: Why … those strange beaked masks (National Geographic). Here’s the full quote: 

In 17th-century Europe, the physicians who tended to plague victims wore a costume that has since taken on sinister overtones: they covered themselves head to toe and wore a mask with a long bird-like beak. The reason behind the beaked plague masks was a misconception about the very nature of the dangerous disease… [The outfit] included a coat covered in scented wax, breeches connected to boots, a tucked-in shirt, and a hat and gloves made of goat leather. Plague doctors also carried a rod that allowed them to poke (or fend off) victims.

Their headgear was particularly unusual: Plague doctors wore spectacles, de Lorme continued, and a mask with a nose “half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along with the air one breathes the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.”

During the 17th-century European plague, physicians wore beaked masks, leather gloves, and long coats in an attempt to fend off the disease. Their iconic and ominous look, as depicted in this 1656 engraving of a Roman doctor, is recognizable to this day.

The “pestilence” quote is from The Plague, Part 1, Vintage International paperback, 1991, originally published 1947, at pages 36-37. See also “Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

The image to the left of the paragraph beginning “So much for that question” is courtesy of Coronavirus Mask – Image Results. The image is accompanied by an article, “Solutions people came up with to try to protect themselves.” 

The lower image is courtesy of The Plague – Wikipedia. See also Plague Camus – Image Results, including the article accompanying the “american illiterati” image.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On “Mad Men” – Revisited…

A revamped ad agency – “Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce” – at the end of Mad Men‘s Season 3…

*   *   *   *

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Mad-men-title-card.jpgI don’t have cable TV. What I do have is a flat-screen TV and DVD player. And I’m cheap, so most DVDs I view come from the local library. So starting last summer I got hooked on Mad Men, the TV drama “about one of New York’s most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s…”

The series originally ran from 2007 to 2015. It lasted for seven seasons and 92 episodes. The time frame in the series ran from March 1960 to November 1970. Which means it brings back a lot of memories, although I was still in elementary school when that time-frame began.

The early episodes were usually quirky, sometimes funny and sometimes unsettling. Most characters “smoke like chimneys,” and the advertising executives can’t seem to go an hour without visiting each other’s office and offering each other a drink. (“They’re always getting sloshed.”) In another example, one early episode showed Don Draper’s first wife – Betty – visiting a psychiatrist. But later that night the doctor calls Don and goes over the session, nearly word for word, and closes by saying Betty is a “clearly disturbed young woman.”

The Partridge Family David Cassidy 1972.jpgIn another early episode the Drapers go on a picnic. At the end Don finishes his beer and tosses the can off into the distance. And Betty takes the family blanket and nonchalantly shakes it out, leaving the pristine sight now trashed by the family’s garbage. (Did I mention that while emi-retired, I work part-time at the local branch of Keep America Beautiful. See Whatever happened to … Cassidy?)

That little vignette really “got me riled.” (So to speak.)

But the series did get me wondering. I’m 68 now, and a few years back I got hooked on the idea of a “do-over,” going back to high school – for example – and starting over, but armed with all the knowledge I now have about all that’s happened since I graduated. That would be nice I suppose, but it might also have gotten me “burned at the stake.” (Or the functional equivalent of knowing way too much about what happens in the future. “Telephones without wires? Magical cards that you can buy things with? Somebody get the torches and pitchforks!”)

Or as Bonnie Prudden – at left – put it in one of her exercise books: Suppose you could go back in time, but in a way that you knew what was going to happen, but couldn’t do anything to change it? (If you had to go through all the good things and bad you experienced, including all the heartaches you went through “learning life’s lessons.”) 

Something like that happened as I started watching Mad Men’s Season 4. Through the magic of the Wiki | Fandom website, I could tell what was going to happen before it happened. But I also knew beforehand that if it was too unsettling or uncomfortable, I could fast-forward through it. (Like the “lipstick on Peggy’s teeth” incident.)

So, would it be nice if we could do that in real life? Know when something bad was going to happen, and be able to “fast forward” through it? Or maybe not. (As it says in Psalm 119:7, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your [God’s] statutes.” I.e., learn life’s lessons.)

Which – in a way – brings up the time I wrote the first draft of this post, last summer after I had gotten back from my May trip to israel. (See “Back from three weeks in Israel.”) 

I had just finished watching Episode 6, Season 1, “Babylon.”  It was about the day after Mother’s Day in 1960, at the Sterling Cooper advertising agency. Don Draper,the main protagonist, and his co-workers “meet with executives from the Israeli Board of Tourism to discuss marketing strategies. Don, unsure of what strategy to use, meets Rachel Menken for lunch under the guise of asking her for input because she is Jewish.” 

The episode detailed various clandestine meetings between Don and several women – he’s quite the philanderer, through all 92 episodes – including a woman named Midge.

Don, as is his habit, starts to put the moves on Midge at her apartment, but their “bout” is interrupted when Midge’s beatnik friend – Roy – knocks at the door loudly. Awkward introductions follow, with Don sitting on Midge’s bed with his shoes off. A battle of wits follows, both at the apartment and later at the Gaslight Cafe – at right – “to watch Midge’s friend perform.”

Roy – the boyfriend – ridicules Don for the “emptiness of advertising and mass consumption.” In turn, Don ridicules Roy for his youth, “vanity and flightiness.” But their bickering is interrupted when a trio of Midge’s friends take the stage. They start singing a haunting, beautiful song. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”

And I said to myself, “That’s Psalm 137!”

As indeed it was, verified by the episode link in Mad Men – Wikipedia, which tells of the trio performing “a song about the Jews’ mourning their exile from Zion in Babylon (Psalm 137 as arranged by Philip Hayes).” But the really moving thing was how it affected Don, normally portrayed as the personification of worldly cynicism. And I knew of it because of a post in my companion blog, “If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem.” (Which I posted on April 18, 2019.)

Which brings up the fact that – “through the magic of the Wiki | Fandom” – I now know what happens to Midge. (The lovely young brunette in the picture below.) She finds a new boyfriend, Perry, and he turns her into a heroin addict. She then meets Don outside his new office in “Blowing Smoke,” Episode 12 in Season 4. She is “noticeably skinnier,” and invites him back to her dilapidated apartment to meet Perry, “her husband.” When Midge leaves the room Perry subtly hints that Midge will do “anything” if Don buys one of her paintings. (Saying “the two of them are ‘not possessive’ of one another.”) Don gives Perry 10 dollars to buy groceries, but when he leaves, Midge says “Perry is just going to take the money and ‘put it into his arm.'”

in due course Don leaves the apartment after giving Midge $120 in cash for one of her paintings. (A lot of money in those days.) So maybe it pays not to know too much about the future. Anticipating the first Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston prize fight would have been fun; I could have made a lot of money betting on it. (Except I was only in 7th grade.) But then too I would have known about the Kennedy Assassination coming up – which I lived through again, watching Mad men – and been powerless to stop it. (Except for maybe getting locked up.)

Or knowing the lovely “Midge” pictured below would turn into a heroin addict…

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The upper image is courtesy of Mad Men – Image Results.

Re: “Season 4.” The full link-cite is Season 4 | Mad Men Wiki | Fandom

The lower image is courtesy of Mad Men Babylon – Image Results.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

Looking back on “the summer of ’16…”

The Verrazano Bridge – over the “Narrows” I kayaked across – “in the summer of 2016…” 

*   *   *   *

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

What Happens When You Unfollow On Facebook 19Yesterday I learned to unfollow on Facebook. I applied that knowledge to some fellow classmates from my high school “Class of 1969.” Here’s what happened…

Back in October I thought about going to my 50-year high school class reunion. SO, I got in touch with a number of “old” classmates via the Class of ’69 Facebook page.

It was then I learned how way too many of them had turned way too old, grumpy, frustrated, whiny and/or negative geezers. (“What happened to those bright-eyed youngsters, all full of hope and hormones?”) I ended up not going to the reunion, but still tried to keep in touch. (For one thing it was my Christian duty to try and “bring them back from the Dark Side.*”)

But then it got to be too much. I kept losing sleep, trying to think of snappy comebacks, ways to “reach those people” through clever rhetoric and Christian patience.

I did think of some snappy comebacks, but usually six or so hours later. By then “they” had posted even more negative items, which kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Of course I didn’t want to tell any new Facebook “friends” that I’d “un-friended” them. I still wanted to reach them, if possible. But on that same “yesterday” I did note – on Facebook – that I was taking a break from politics. And on that note I posted a “remembering” photo from my recent Camino hike in Portugal. (Featuring some bikini-clad lovelies on a beach north of Porto.)

So – in that same vein – I hereby offer up in this blog a similar meditation, on some happy times back in the summer of 2016, BT. (Before Trump.) Like the time I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows, from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and back. I covered the story in “No city for Grouchy Old White People,” and “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II.

The posts were about a visit to New York City, while staying in Staten Island and taking the Ferry back and forth to Manhattan. Their point: “New York City is a refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home in ‘The Bubble.’” (To wit: my area of Georgia.) And speaking of Facebook, here’s what I posted about the trip:

Ever since last Saturday, September 17, we’ve been taking the Staten Island ferry into and back from Manhattan Island. So that’s eight times – twice a day for four days now – that we’ve seen the Statute of Liberty, off in the distance…  And I don’t remember ONCE seeing a sign that said, “the heck with your tired, your poor,” those “wretched refuse … yearning to breathe free.”  WE’RE GONNA BUILD A FRIKKIN WALL!

There’s more in that vein in the Grouchy Old White People posts. But on Thursday, September 22, while the rest of the family left for further adventures on their own, I packed up and then kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows.  (Mostly following the Bridge of the same name.)  

So here – at left – is a photo I took, from the kayak, about half-way back to Staten Island.  You may notice the waters are fairly choppy.  And I can tell you those waters got WAY choppier than when I started.  In other words, I seem to have started out – that fine Thursday morning – on pretty much of a neap tide.

It only took me 20 minutes to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and I like to do a full two hours of kayaking a week.  So on the way over I toyed with the idea of cruising along the Atlantic side of Brooklyn for awhile. (And maybe even reaching Coney Island.) But I decided not to, mostly because I figured it’d be better to start back to the put-in side while I was still fresh.

And it’s a good thing I did.  As I was paddling back toward Staten Island the tide started going in. Which wasn’t so bad, since at worst it would have swept me in toward Hoboken…

Long story short, with the change of tide and all, I ended up having a mere 13 minutes left of my two-hours-of-kayaking-a-week quota. That’s when I finally got back to where I put in, at Roosevelt Beach on Staten Island.  (And got dunked “coming in for a landing.”)  But it could have been worse. The tide could have been going out.  (As in, “out to sea…”)

And that was pretty much it for my visit to New York City.  I drove home via the Cape May Ferry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel, and got home Saturday, September 24.

Put another way I was lucky I kayaked across “the Narrows” at neap tide, so I wasn’t either swept by the currents into New York Harbor, or swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay

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brooklynsideVN

My view of the Brooklyn side of the “Narrows” Bridge…

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The upper image is courtesy of Verrazano Bridge – Image Results. See also Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – Wikipedia, including the link to the Narrows, the “body of water linking the relatively enclosed Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.” The image was accompanied by a New York Post article, “Did you know the Verrazano Bridge is spelled wrong?” The correct spelling is “Verrazzano,” with two z’s and two r’s. For a video of a similar adventure, see September Paddle: A Clockwise Tour of NY Harbor – YouTube

Re: “Summer of ’16.” A familiar Meme, here alluding to such media events such as Summer of ’42 (the 1971 “coming of age” movie), Summer of ’69 (the 1984 song by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), and/or Summer of 84 (the “2018 Canadian horror mystery film“).

Re: “Unfollow.” See also How to Unfollow Someone on Facebook: 14 Steps (with Pictures).

Re: “Bring them back from the Dark Side,” and Christian duty. See Ezekiel 3:16-21A Watchman for Israel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Et sequentes.

And also Dark side of the Force | Wookieepedia | Fandom.

Re: “Neap tide.” See Neap tide | Definition … at Dictionary.com, “either of the two tides that occur at the first or last quarter of the moon [or month] when the tide-generating forces of the sun and moon oppose each other and produce the smallest rise and fall in tidal level,” and also Tide – Wikipedia

When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the Sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon’s tidal force. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide’s range is at its minimum; this is called the neap tide, or neaps. Neap is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “without the power”, as in forðganges nip (forth-going without-the-power).

Re: “Swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay.” As noted, I thought about cruising along the south side of Brooklyn/Long Island for a while, and maybe reaching Coney Island, but luckily turned back. I could feel the tide changing as I paddled back toward Staten Island. 

I took the photos including the “Brooklyn side” of the bridge, but not the Facebook image.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On my road trip out to Utah…

As it turned out, I managed to drive 3,600+ miles to Utah and back, without a major mishap…

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I haven’t posted anything since November 28, “last year.” One big reason? (Aside from preparing for the Christmas holidays.) Last December 27 I got in my car and drove 1,800 miles out west, “in the bleak midwinter.” (At right, a truck stop in Grand Island Nebraska, snowed in 12/29/19. See also the notes.)

I drove out to visit my brother in Utah, and his wife. (My “hiking buddies” from the Portuguese Camino. See Just got back – Portuguese Camino!Their son and daughter also came out – from Back East – along with my new (as of June 2018) “nephew by marriage.” (See On a wedding in Hadley – and John, Peter and Paul.) It was a great 14-day road trip.

To start at the end, I made it back to Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, “safe and sound.” That day I drove 566 miles in 12 hours, starting in Conway Arkansas. (Northwest of Little Rock.) And that was even though I lost an hour crossing into Georgia from Alabama. (4:25 Arkansas and body-clock time, 5:25 God’s Country time.) I had to be back to work the next day, Friday the 10th.

IMG_20191229_182623Those great memories from the road trip included getting snowed in at Grand Island Nebraska, as shown above right, and at left, as explained further below. (Westbound I-80 was closed.)

That was on Sunday, December 29, two days after setting out. Something like a hundred trucks were lined up on the side of the road, along with cars in the Motel 6 parking lot…

The day had started out well.

I left the Motel 6 in north Kansas City – where I had to pay a $40 cash deposit the night before* – and made good time…  I figured I was making such good time that I could afford to stop and do some “touristy stuff” before reaching my goal. That is, getting to Morgan, Utah by 3:30 or so on the afternoon of December 31. (Followed by a trip to Salt Lake City airport to pick up other guests arriving by plane.)

The weather was good, and the Weather Channel hadn’t given a clue about what was about to happen. Then the snow hit. The first clue came as I drove west on Nebraska state road 136, west of Brownville, just across the Missouri River. I cut over to avoid the “up and over” to Omaha. Then I saw another car, at first behind me but then it passed on the right.

It’s roof was covered with snow.

Anyway, I’d hoped to make North Platte, Nebraska that night, but ended up stopping early at Grand Island. (I did make it to North Platte next day, but in doing so covered only 146 miles “as the crow flies.” But the crow didn’t have to go around the closed I-80 via back roads, down to Hastings, then west on US 34, then back up to Lexington via State Road 23.) 

After checking in at Grand Island and getting settled, I walked – gingerly – through the snow, ice and slush from that Motel 6 to the big truck stop next door. While doing laundry I enjoyed two tall beers, a burger and conversation with the other stranded motorists, as shown in the image above left. (Those are my glasses, next to my half-empty glass of beer.)

Other memorable moments from the trip? Later on the way out I stopped in Wyoming for coffee creamer and other goodies at a Walmart. The price came to $6.66, which led me to think, “OH HELL NO!” So I bought some Tic-tacs to change the price. (See Revelation 13:18.)

But the best memory of the trip came on the night of Friday, January 3, at the “Old Manse” atop the family hill south of Morgan. “The girls” had gone to bed and the guys had stayed up and chatted. And drained a bottle or two of wine. (Next day we were to go skiing at Snow Basin.)

Eventually the drain-a-bottle-of-wine talk led to my brother and nephew swapping boot-camp-slash-Marine-slash-Army stories. (My brother served in the Marines in the 1960s, and my nephew served several tours in the Army, and is now in the Reserves while attending Penn State.) Like the Advanced Infantry Training that old-time Marines got after Parris Island boot camp. When the new Marines got to drink lots of beer at lunch, for a change. But then the “powers that be” had them line up in parade formation in their dress greens. Then they had to wait for hours in formation, “and the inevitable consequences thereof.” Or Matt sharing a story about taking a wrong turn down that back alley in Seoul, South Korea. “Further affiant saith not!”

BTW: We all slept late the next morning…

Good memories!

In the next installment you’ll see how I cracked a rib while skiing at Snow Basin…  And got a speeding ticket driving through *&^% Haysville Kansas!

But for tonight I’ll go back to the memory of getting snowed in at that Motel 6 in Grand Island, Nebraska. With a view of the near-frozen North Platte River from my motel-room window, next morning and as shown below. But it also included that great burger and two draft beers at the Thunder Road Grill at the truck stop next door. (As shown in the notes.)

So the way I figure it, “there’s some kind of lesson there!

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One of three branches of the Platte River, the morning of 12/30/19…

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The upper image is courtesy of Road Trip Winter – Image Results. It was accompanied by an article on safety tips for winter road trips, by Elaine Schoch. Among the recommendations: Keep your gas tank half full, “to prevent gas line freeze-up.” Which I didn’t know, but kept filled up whenever the gauge got to half-full, figuring it might be nice to have enough gas to keep the heat on, while stopped and as necessary. Also, “kitty litter,” for traction in the snow. (My Utah brother recommended sand.) Plus other advice such as “stay calm if stranded.” Including “Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.” I’ll read up on that article again if and when I do another road trip “in the bleak midwinter.”

On that note, see In the Bleak Midwinter – Wikipedia, about the “Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title ‘A Christmas Carol,’ in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav HolstHarold Darke‘s anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.”

I took the “Grand Island” photos, including the one of my glasses on the bar next to a half-empty glass of draft beer. The Motel 6 in question was at 7301 Bosselman Ave, Grand Island, NE. The full link to the “Thunder Road” website is Thunder Road Grill | Pizza, Wings & Burgers | Grand Island, NE.

Re:  The $40 cash deposit, at the Motel 6 near the airport, north Kansas City. In all my 68 years of travel and motel-stops, I’d never had to do that before. A general rule: Motel 6’s in or close to big cities seem to be rather “dubious,” while those in or near small towns are well worth the savings. 

Re: “Further Affiant Sayeth Naught.” That’s a “centuries-old statement that is still used on some legal documents such as pleadings as the final declaration prior to the affiant’s signature.”

“Fighting right-wing distortions on Facebook…”

File"-Saint Paul Writing His Epistles" by Valentin de Boulogne.jpg

“… can be a great learning experience!” (As St. Paul might have said, if he did Facebook…)

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Image may contain: one or more people, child and outdoorThings have been hectic since I got back on September 25 from my 19-day, 160-mile hike on the Camino de Santiago. (See “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”)

For one thing, I got hired back as a supervisor at the local branch of Keep America Beautiful(Supervising mainly young folk doing community service.) For another thing I got back from Portugal in the midst of the “High Holy Season.” (The season of college and pro football. See Moses at Rephidim: “What if?”)

Which means that – since the regular college season is now coming to an end – it’s time to get serious about posting more regularly. And what better place to start than some reflections on what I’ve been seeing and doing on Facebook since I got back home?

The thing is, on the Camino in Portugal – and later Spain – I did post on Facebook every day. But those were on my daily adventures in a “country far away.” (And for some reason I wasn’t bombarded by daily updates on the partisan politics back home in the U.S of A.) Then too the feedback to my posts from Portugal was mostly positive. (To a shared travel experience.)

Once I got back all that changed. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by politics, including some unsettling posts by former high school classmates. That is, I graduated in 1969, and so this year was our 50-year high school reunion. (Scheduled for the weekend of October 11-13.) So before I left for the Camino, I got in touch with many former classmates, largely through Facebook. (Illustrated at left.) 

That’s when I discovered something “definitely amiss.”

I found out that way too many of those former bright-eyed youngsters – full of hope and hormones (not to mention plans to “change the world“) – had turned into grumpy old arch-conservative, geezers whose sole purpose in life now seemed to be venting their spleen on Facebook. (A note: The old geezers were male former classmates. I saw no ladies from the Class of ’69 being so grumpy and arch-conservative. I’m thinking that maybe they’re going out and doing something positive with their lives, unlike their male counterparts.) 

The dark sideThe point being: I felt I had to try and correct some of their distortions, and maybe to bring them back from the dark side(For reasons including Ezekiel 3:16-21.) Which turned into quite a project.

For example, one conservative post from a former classmate said President Obama had fired “every single Bush ambassador.” (i.e., every ambassador appointed by President Bush, as if it were a big deal.) The claim seemed pretty shocking, so I decided to check.

I ultimately found out that new presidents get rid of political ambassadors from past administrations on a routine basis. That nugget was courtesy of PolitiFact and its article No, Obama didn’t fire all of Bush’s politically-appointed ambassadors. Politifact rated the claim “mostly false,” but the exercise in rebutting that claim turned out to be very instructive.

So I posted – on Facebook in response – that Obama had indeed “let go some political ambassadors, which is standard procedure. Plus Bush asked some of his POLITICAL AMBASSADORS to hand in their resignations. And most CAREER DIPLOMAT ambassadors stayed on.” (Emphases in my original post.) That led to a response – not from a classmate but from a another arch-conservative – “do not mean to dispute what you say, but if that is true how could all the ambassadors be liberals when Obama left office?” (Another claim worth challenging?)

That response was met at first by a fellow free-thinker (“John”), who posted, “As demonstrated in the impeachment hearings most career Ambassadors are non political.” 

Four shovels standing upright in dirtWhich turned out to be true. I.e., Politifact noted there are “two breeds of ambassadors: political appointees and career diplomats. Political appointees are usually stationed in countries that are U.S. allies or desirable locations, like the Bahamas.” (illustrated at left.) And also that it’s standard practice to “cycle out” such employees. Which led me to respond that was “pretty much what John said. The point being that anyone who raises a hubbub about either Trump or Obama firing ‘all ambassadors’ is making a mountain out of a molehill. And distorting the facts.”

In other words, I learned something in this exercise in combating right-wing distortions. That led me to the conclusion, “Fighting right-wing distortions on Facebook can definitely be an educational experience. (Also known as a “teaching moment” or “teachable moment.”)

At this point – and just to clarify – I consider myself an Independent. (“Like Moses or Jesus,” the subject of a future post. But for now see A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter.)“)

And like many such Independents, I’m puzzled at how many conservatives still support Trump, in the face of what seems incontrovertible evidence of his – shall we say – “shortcomings?”

Which led me to do another post, on “an interesting online article, ‘Why conservatives are more susceptible to believing in lies.‘” It too was very instructive, and led me to post some sample passages. Like the fact that conservatives are “less introspective, less attentive to their inner feelings, and less likely to override their ‘gut’ reactions and engage in further reflection to find a correct answer.” (Which led me to observe too that they are “‘less so’ than other people, like liberals and Independents. You know, ‘Independent thinkers’ like Moses and Jesus?”)

Watts.JPGThen there was this little tidbit:

Baptist minister and former Republican congressman J. C. Watts [at right] put it succinctly. Campaigning for Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa in 2015 he observed, “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.”

I responded in part that “few people are ALL bad or ALL good. The tendency to think in such black-and-white terms is also called ‘splitting,’ or cognitive distortion.” (Concepts I also had to research.)

Also – according to my research – such simplified thinking is a “common defense mechanism in which the individual ‘tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).'”

Then too I noted the incongruity that conservatives think THEY are all good, while liberals – as well as anyone else who doesn’t buy into their brand of magic – are by definition all bad…

Which led me to yet another conclusion: That “having a good enemy” is essential to personal and spiritual growth. As part of that learning experience, I Googled “having a good enemy.” And got 204 million (204,000,000) results. One example of such wisdom came from Winston Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” See also, Top 10 Reasons Why we all must have Enemies. Some examples? “Competition between the enemies is good for the society.” And “Enemies will keep you focused.” And finally, “Enemies will make you a better person as a whole.”

And finally, again, I should note that having good enemies – which includes trying to “bring them back from the dark side” – is an excellent way to ditch Black And White Thinking!

And by the way, I’ll be using those “good enemy” quotes on Facebook, whenever arch-conservatives start attacking those darned liberals… (“You need a good enemy!”)  

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No photo description available.

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The upper image is courtesy of Paul the Apostle – Wikipedia. The caption: “‘Saint Paul Writing His Epistles’ by Valentin de Boulogne.” 

Re: Facebook. See History of Facebook – Wikipedia, which includes the photo of its founder. The caption: “Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.” The article expands on the theme of learning experiences. And the article includes interesting tidbits like: 1) The social networking service was launched as TheFacebook on February 4, 2004; 2) membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, then to most universities in the U.S.and Canada, until by September 2006, it was available to everyone with a valid email address; and that FaceMash, Facebook’s predecessor, opened in 2003 as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. “The website allowed visitors to compare two female student pictures side by side and let them decide who was more attractive.”

Re: The song “change the world.” The version I thought of when I writing this post actually came from Chicago (Graham Nash song)See Wikipedia, which said this:

Chicago” (often listed as “Chicago / We Can Change the World“) is a song written by Graham Nash for his solo debut album Songs for Beginners. As a single [in 1971], it reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and 29 on the Cash Box Top 100… The title and lyrics of the song refer to the anti-Vietnam War protests that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the subsequent trial of the Chicago Eight, where protest leaders were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. 

The song included these lyrics, near the end: “We can change the world, re-arrange the world, it’s dying, if you believe in justice, it’s dying if you believe in freedom.”  But this song is distinct from “Change the World,” a song written by “Tommy SimsGordon Kennedy, and Wayne Kirkpatrick whose best-known version was recorded by the English singer Eric Clapton for the soundtrack of the 1996 film Phenomenon.” See Change the World – Wikipedia, which serves as another example of how combating right-wing distortions can definitely be instructive. 

Re: Ezekiel 3:16-21. Summarized as Ezekiel’s Task as Watchman, it basically says that if you warn a fellow citizen of the error of his ways and he fails to listen, he’ll be in trouble but you will at least have saved your own spiritual butt. But if you don’t warn him, you’ll both be in trouble. 

The person who posted the “liberal ambassadors” response was – as noted – not a former classmate, but he used to attend my church and comes back every now and again. “John” – my fellow free-thinker – is still a member of my church, and in fact is a fellow member of the choir. 

Re: Combating right-wing distortions, etc. Then there was this Bible passage from Sunday, November 10, concerning the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus: 

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. (E.A.)

Again, that was from the New Testament reading for November 10, from 2d Thessalonians, Chapter 2, where Paul wrote about Jesus coming back “and our being gathered together to him.” Which led me to this bit of possible good news: “Jesus might be coming back really really soon!”

An almost-final text note. On Facebook I posted another irony: That today’s conservatives say people who want to come to this country have to “follow all the rules.” Which led to the question, “Why don’t they say the same thing about Donald Trump? It’s incongruous is what it is.”

As to the benefits of having a good enemy, see also The Benefits of Having an Enemy – The American Interest, and The Benefits of Enemies – The Bible Meditator.

The lower image is courtesy of Ditch Black And White Thinking – Image Results.

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A final final note, on a possible standard response to right-wingers attacking “libs” on Facebook. “God bless liberals! What would you do without them? See the online piece, Top 10 Reasons Why we all must have Enemies. The reasons include: 1) competition between enemies is good for society; 2) enemies keep you focused; and 3) enemies will make you a better person as a whole. 

“Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”

The Lisbon metropolitan area; the Setúbal Peninsula is south of the Tagus River

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I flew back from Lisbon, Portugal, on September 25. “And, boy, were my arms tired!” But seriously, I did finish a 160-mile hike on the Portuguese Camino in September. (I flew to Lisbon August 28.)

Which means the “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino” is a bit of an anachronism. (A “chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods.”)

But it seems like yesterday…

Part of the trip’s charm was that before, during and after the 18-day hike I greatly enjoyed the Iberian beers. Including CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock. See Beer in Portugal – Wikipedia and its long history, “as far back as the time of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, where beer was commonly made and drunk.”

I hiked with my Utah brother and sister-in-law. We started in Porto, then hiked “back” to Santiago. (My brother and I hiked the Camino Frances in 2017, and came to Santiago from the east.) This time we three came into Santiago from  the south. I wrote about that proposed pilgrimage on August 2d, in St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage.” (My companion blog.)

In 2017 … my Utah brother and I hiked [and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way… But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the [160] or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago, via the Portuguese Way. And this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

That Portuguese Way is another name for the Camino route passing through Portugal. You can begin in either Lisbon or Porto. “The Portuguese way is the second most popular route after the French Way and the Portuguese coastal way” – which we took, hiking west from Porto – “is the seventh most popular.” See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like?

If you start your Camino in Porto and really want to be by the water, you have the option of spending your first day [or two] walking the unofficial but easy-to-follow route alongside the beach between Matosinhos and Vila do Conde… Towards the end of the following day, the route heads inland and unless you take a detour or two, you won’t see much of the sea until you get to Galicia.

Which is pretty much what we did.

10.8 miles from Porto to Cabo do Mundo the first day. (And by the way, the tablet I used to both take some pictures and post them on Facebook had a problem. It had autocorrect, which changed a name like Cabo do Mundo to “Cabo Dr Mundo” every time. It got to be aggravating after a while.) Then 10.2 miles to Vila do Conde. (Same tablet problem.) From there it was a mere six-mile to Arcos. (A rare short hike.) From there 13 miles to Barcelos, where we took our first day off. Which was pretty much the pattern: Our three days off were always preceded by one long hike.

Which – by the way – was prompted by my brother’s booking our hotels – auberges, whatever – a good six months in advance. And that made us different from most Camino pilgrims.

All the good books on the “magic of the Camino” focus on the wonderful people you meet and mingle with in the dormitory-style auberges. But my brother had that experience once – in 2017, crossing the Pyrenees, before we met up in Pamplona – and that was enough for him.

And me too, as it turned out. (I took his word for it.)

I like my privacy, and being able to get away from “mingling” after a long day’s hike.

So anyway and to repeat, we started out on the Coastal Route after Porto, then shunted over to the Inland Route. There – among other rivers – we crossed the Lima river at Ponte de Lima:

For the inland route, Ponte de Lima‘s bridge is used. The later bridge possibly dates to the 1st century and was rebuilt in 1125… [The bridge] is named after the long medieval bridge (ponte) that passes over the Lima river that runs next to the town.

Or as Arlo Guthrie might have phrased it, “that’s just the name of the bridge, and that’s why they called the bridge the Ponte de Lima.”

That’s a quick look at the first part of this Camino hike, with few scintillating details or photos. (Except those at the top and bottom of the main text.) But we’re digressing here, and getting to the end of the recommended number of words in a blog post. That leads to a final note.

Remember how we used to peel the skin off our back and arms after a bad sunburn? Back in the old days, when we were young and before today’s fancy-schmancy creams and lotions that prevent such peeling? Something like that happened to the soles of my feet once I got home.

By the time we reached Santiago the soles of my feet were like shoe-leather, tough, blister-over-healed-blister and callused. (Or “cayused,” as one cute Farmacia lady said.*) But then since I’ve been home, I’ve peeled off several layers of that tough, leathery skin. So apparently the affected parts of the physical body – like the soles of your feet – go through a process of “decompressing” after such an adventure, just like you do mentally.

Which I suppose is just another way of saying that when you engage in such a pilgrimage – or any life-changing experience – you can expect both good times and times that aren’t so good.

I’ll be writing more about our Portuguese Camino adventure, but in the meantime: The good memories weren’t just limited to the CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock

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Re: “Beach” alternative. See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like? it included a little blurb about the charms of “mingling” with other pilgrims: “One of the endearing aspects of walking the Camino, and possibly a reason people become addicted to it, is the joy of meeting fellow walkers, their support and encouragement and the friendships you make along the Way.”

Re: Cruzcampo. The link – Cruzcampo Pilsener | Grupo Cruzcampo SA | BeerAdvocate – included some definitely negative reviews, but I liked it. I had at most one or two samples on this trip, but on the 2017 Camino Frances hike, I especially enjoyed an ice cold can on the train ride from Madrid up to Pamplona, where I met my brother, who’d hiked over the Pyrenees. I’d had enough of mountain hiking, since we’d hiked the Chilkoot Trail the summer before.

Re: The number of miles hiked. I originally wrote 140 miles, but it turned out we hiked 160.

Re: “Alice’s Restaurant.” See Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Lyrics | MetroLyrics: “This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s Restaurant.”

Re:  “Cayused.” It happened first thing one morning on the hike. We stopped at a Farmacia, as my sister-in-law wanted something like Band-aids for her blisters. She looked at one brand in Portuguese, but the lovely clerk said “those are not for blisters, they are for – how you say? – cayuses.” Which is how the Portuguese pronounce “calluses.” It was very cute, and very memorable…