Some thoughts on “the Donald,” from two years ago…

An April 2016 post:  Is there a new Maverick in town,” or just another ‘what has been?'”

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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 him a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s 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:

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGOn November 22, 2016 – 18 days after he got elected – I posted Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?  That post borrowed from the earlier, April 16, 2016 post:  “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  Which explains the lead photo above, about mavericks in general:

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle.  The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero…”  As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

That post also asked the “musical question:  ‘Can you say prescient?'”  (That question concerned a candidate for president who – in 1998 – showed “a malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power.”  And it wasn’t Donald Trump.*):

[R]epetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions.  Beneath the mask of conservative idealogue is an amoral pragmatist.

So, we’re now two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, and there are some things all Americans can agree on:  First, that Trump “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”  And second, that he “does not abide by rules.”  But the question remains whether he is a “rebel,” as the old “Johnny Yuma” TV series defined that term:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

It would be hard to say – with a straight face – that Trump “respects law and order,” given his continued insulting of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.  (I Googled “trump insults fbi” and got 2,450,000 results.)  And it could easily be said – with a straight face – that Donald Trump personifies “intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.”

Woodstock poster.jpgBut we were talking about “thoughts from two years ago.”  And another tidbit from two years ago came in the November 30, 2016 post, “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”

I wrote of the irony of Trump being seen as a hero by the average blue-collar worker.  Then I imagined a future folk singer – a “dulcet-toned lass” – comparing Trump to Joe Hill, as immortalized by Joan Baez at Woodstock(“I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night…”)  The post cited a pre-election article saying if Trump lost, the “millions of Americans supporting him will feel more isolated and disillusioned than ever before.”  Which raises the question today, “Are those millions of Americans better off now that Trump got elected?”

[M]illions of Americans [have] looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before [had Trump not been elected…]

Put another way, has Trump “stood up for the weak and downtrodden?”  Has he delivered the goods for the millions of “angry white blue-collar workers” who looked to him for salvation?

Or – instead – Is this (just)“deja vu all over again?”  (Another post from 2016.  That one noted the “brittle, bitter climate of distrust in national politics today:  the loss of civility amid endless personal accusations, the stalemates that develop on issue after issue when both sides are unable to approach the grounds where reasonable compromise can occur.”  And that was in 1998!)   

And about that name, “the Donald.”  It turns out it got started by Ivana Trump‘s “broken English,” then got a boost – from all people – a writer at The Washington Post.

I noted that nickname in a May 12, 2017 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

If Trump turns out to be as bad as people expect – based on how he presented himself, both in his campaigns and in office – fully 75% of the country could be strongly against him by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018.  Which could turn out to be a single-issue race.

Seal of the U.S. House of RepresentativesThe prediction – based on analysis by a number of pundits – hasn’t yet come to pass.  Though in some respects the 2018 mid-term elections were a single-issue race, at least for the House.

On the other hand, consider the post, Trump is like a box of chocolates,” from November 13, 2016.

It first quoted Professor Allan Lichtman, who predicted in September 2016 that Trump would win the election.  But he went on to say Trump would be impeached, but not by Democrats.  The Republicans – he said – would much rather have Mike Pence as president, as “far easier to control.”

They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him.  He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have [Mike] Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”

That hasn’t come to pass either, but that post went on to ask:  “In light of Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions – especially since last Tuesday – will he eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

The jury’s still out on that one…

But the part I remember was the “Gump-like” surprise of the election itself, which led one well-known American icon to ask:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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The upper image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia.  See also Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma (From November 22, 2016.)  And “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?  (April 26, 2016.)  

Re:  The “angry words” candidate who wasn’t Donald Trump.  It was actually Newt Gingrich, as detailed in the November 12, 1998 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.  See the May 9, 2016 post, Is this “deja vu all over again?”

Re:  The November 8, 2016 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years.”  It includes a screwed-up image to the right of the opening paragraph that I wanted to delete but couldn’t figure out how.

Other past posts from 2016 -considered for inclusion herein – included:  From September 15:  Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel; from November 8:  ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian; and from November 22: Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

I wanted to close the post with the Calvin and Hobbes [cartoon] for July 07, 1995, but couldn’t cut and paste it.  The punch line was “enmity sells,” and it seems to have been an on-the-mark foreshadowing of Trump’s style of governing.   (Check it out yourself…)

The lower image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb, as featured in “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (I.e., that quote was published some seven years before the movie.)

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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.

The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings

2017 featured 345 mass shootings under Trump, compared to 162 in Obama’s eight years…

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Supported by a friend, a man weeps for victims of the mass shooting just a block from the scene in Orlando, Florida, on June Remember June, 2016?  That’s when then-candidate Donald Trump said then- President Barak Obama should resign, after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.  That is, the deadliest mass shooting up to that point?  You know, the one in Orlando?  (Just to narrow it down a bit.)

Amid reports that a gunman had killed 49 people at a gay nightclub early Sunday, Trump could only respond by bragging that he’d predicted such a thing would happen, and arguing that the attack justified his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

In plain words, Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the shootings, linked him personally with the shooter, and implied that nothing like that would happen if he were elected president.  Not to mention saying Obama should resign after “his” mass shooting.

Which led me to recently Google “trump obama resign mass shooting.”

That led me in turn to some interesting results:  Not least of all because it led me to Google “mass shootings since trump took office.”  Briefly, there was apparently a “lull in the action” during the first few months of 2017, but then things heated up.  (And not in a good way.) 

For example, on March 18, 2017, a blogger, “Raptorman,” posted What Happened to Obama Era Of Mass Shootings Under the Trump Administration?  Early in 2017 he bragged thusly:

It had been over 253 days since Donald Trump became President of the United States of America with no crazed mass murder shootings until the Las Vegas shooting.  A much longer period of time without a big mass murder shooting than under the previous administration.

shoot4“Raptorman” then posted a chart showing how such mass shootings had burgeoned under Obama.  (From in the low 20s under previous presidents, to 162 under Obama.)  He defined a mass shooting as involving “4 or more people.”  But then came a post on April 16, 2017:  The U.S. Has Had 273 Mass Shootings in 2017 So Far (“And you likely didn’t hear about all of them.”)

That writer –  – also

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA) counts 29 mass shootings across the U.S. just in September[?], 255 since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, and 273 since the start of the year, while defining a “mass shooting” as “four or more” gunshot victims, not including the shooter.  At the current rate calculated by GVA, 2017 is on track to have more mass shootings than any other year since GVA began tracking gun violence in the U.S.

This was in response to the shooting at the “Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, killing 50 and injuring more than 400 in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.”

But since Couts’ post came a mere month after “Raptorman’s,” something didn’t add up.  So, for a more accurate count I checked 2017 deemed America’s deadliest year for mass shootings, posted December 11, 2017.  It said, “According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that continuously tracks gun-related death and injury reports based on official records, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone.”

So as it turned out, the estimate by Gun Violence Archive – noted by  in April 2017 – turned out to be chillingly accurate.  Which means that under Obama there were 162 mass shootings, while under Donald Trump, there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 alone.

Then came 2018, about which the New York Daily News said – last November 8, a week or so ago (the headline at left is from 1975) – that America’s averaging almost a mass shooting a day in 2018:

There have been nearly as many mass shootings in the United States in 2018 as there have been days in the year so far, according to a nonprofit organization that records gun violence data.  The horrific attack carried out in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar on Wednesday night was the 307th mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a “mass shooting” in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.

So again, under Obama there were 162 mass shootings in eight years. 

Under Donald Trump there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 and 307 in 2018.  (As of November 8, 2018.)  Which adds up to a grand total – for two years, not counting the rest of November and December, 2018 – of 652 mass shootings under Trump so far.  That’s four times greater than Obama’s eight years, in one-fourth the time.  (In a mere two years, for the math-challenged.)

And incidentally, the New York Daily News has been described as “flexibly centrist,” not one of those “fake news” media types complained of by some Republicans.  For example, it endorsed George W. Bush in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Which means that a claim of “fake news” would be hard to justify.  (To anyone except the most ardent Trump supporter, to which I would respond, “Fake news?”  Fake brain!)

But we digress.  The point?  All this calculating led me to the October 27 article, Why it’s fair to ask whether Trump is to blame.  Senior political reporter Aaron Blake gave a lengthy analysis, which included this note:  “There is a growing sense of grievance among Republicans about the narrative that Trump might have some culpability for the postal bombs that were sent to many of his high-profile political foes over the past week.”  Or for the spate of mass shootings.

But the Bible – that favorite tool of “Trump-humping evangelicals” – says otherwise.

Which is another way of saying that such a lengthy “Blake” analysis really isn’t necessary.  At least not according to the Bible.  That is, Luke 6:38 provides a much better, much shorter answer:  “The standards you use for others will be [the ones] applied to you.”  Or in a slightly different translation, “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”

Which should give “the Donald” some pause for thought

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Mass Shooting – Image Results.  It’s linked to the article, “Las Vegas Shooting Is the 273rd Mass Shooting This Year,” which included these notes:  “The gun industry often uses mass shootings to rally sales, telling consumers that such events may lead to stricter gun laws,” and that “Gun company stocks rose following the Las Vegas mass shooting.”

Re:  Orlando mass shooting.  Somehow I got that one mixed up with the Stoneman Douglas (“Parkland”) High School shooting.  Unfortunately, and as noted, it’s been hard to keep track…

Re:  Trump blaming Obama, etc.  See also Donald Trump’s Response To The Orlando Shooting Was Downright HorrificTrump: Obama Was Maybe Involved in the Orlando Shooting, and Donald Trump Calls On Obama To Resign Over Orlando Shooting.

Re:  “Raptorman.”  He may have chosen his blog-name from a character in the film Full Metal Jacket.  I too thought the Marine photographer was “Raptorman,” but apparently it was “Rafter Man:”

In the book [The Short-Timers], “Rafter Man” got his name because during a striptease show in the mess hall, he got piss drunk and climbed into the rafters for a better view, then fell right onto a front row table of brass, spraying colonels and generals with their own beer.  The highest ranking general picked him up, then pulled up a chair and let Rafter Man sit with him, thereby impressing the other Marines.  The movie kept the nickname but didn’t bother with the back story.

See Full Metal Jacket – Meaning of the names rafterman and Animal Mother.  There is also a book Full Metal Jacket Diary, by Matthew Modine, who played “Joker” in the film.

Re:  Luke 6:38.  I used the GOD’S WORD® Translation in the main text.  Other translations:   “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you;”  “you’ll be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others;” and in the King James Bible – the one God uses – “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Then of course there’s also the Golden Rule, set out by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.  In the “negative form of the Golden Rule, or the “Silver Rule” as it is sometimes called,” the rule reads:  “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Then too there’s Karma

Re:   “Trump-humping evangelicals.”  See “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other, in my companion blog, featuring the image at left.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

On the THREE days of Hallowe’en…

“A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows…”

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Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpgMost people think Halloween is one day, October 31st.  But there are actually three days of “Hallowe’en.”  Or more precisely, Halloween is the first day of the Halloween “Triduum.”  (In the alternative Allhallowtide.) 

And Triduum is just a fancy Latin word for “three days.”

In turn the word “hallow” – in both “Hallowe’en” and “Allhallowtide” – came from the Old English word for “saint,” halig.  That eventually became “hallow.”  (Maybe because it was easier to say.)  Which led to November 1 now being called All Saints’ Day.  But to the Old English, “All Haligs’ Day” – November 1 – eventually became “All Hallows Day.”  Then the “eve” before that Feast Day – October 31 – became “All Hallows Evening.”  In time that shortened to “All Hallows E’en.”  And later still it shortened to “Hallowe’en,” then just plain Halloween.

Wikipedia said this three-day period is a “time to remember the dead, including martyrssaints, and all faithful departed Christians.”  The main day of the three is November 1, now called All Saints Day, but previously referred to as Hallowmas.  It was established sometime between 731 and 741 – over 1,300 years ago – “perhaps by Pope Gregory III.”

Put another way, November 1 honors “all the saints and martyrs, both known and unknown.”  In other words, special people in the Church.  (A saint is defined as having “having an exceptional degree of holiness,” while a martyr is someone “killed because of their testimony of Jesus.”)  On the other hand, November 2 – All Souls’ Day – was designed to honor “all faithful Christians … unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends.’”  In other words, the rest of us poor schmucks (Those of us who have died, that is.)

So back to Halloween:  It all started with an old-time belief that evil spirits were most prevalent during the long nights of winter.  The “old-timers” also thought the “barriers between our world and the spirit world” were at their its lowest and most permeable the night of October 31:

So, those old-time people would wear masks or put on costumes in order to disguise their identities.  The idea was to keep the afterlife “hallows” – ghosts or spirits – from recognizing the people in this, the “material world.”

Another thing they did was build bonfires, literally bonefires.  (That is, “bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned.”)  The original idea was that evil spirits had to be driven away with noise and fire.  But that evolved into this:  The “fires were thought to bring comfort to the souls in purgatory and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.”

There was another old-time custom, that if you had to travel on All Hallows E’en – like from 11:00 p.m. until midnight – your had to be careful.  If your candle kept burning, that was a good omen.  (The person holding the candle would be safe in the upcoming winter “season of darkness.”)  But if your candle went out, “the omen was bad indeed.”

The thought was that the candle had been blown out by witches

Then there were the pumpkins.  Apparently some other old-time people set out carved pumpkins on their windowsills, to keep “harmful spirits” out of their home.   But yet another tradition said  jack-o’-lanterns “represented Christian souls in purgatory.”  And while today jack-o’-lanterns are made from pumpkins, but were originally carved from large turnips.

In turn, both the jack-o’-lantern and Will-o’-the-wisp – at right, in a Japanese interpretation – are tied in with the strange ghostly light known as ignis fatuus.  (From the Medieval Latin for “foolish fire.”)  That refers to the “atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.  It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached:”

Tradition had it that this ghostly light – seen by travelers at night and “especially over bogs, swamps or marshes – resembled a flickering lamp.  The flickering lamp then receded if you approached it, and so it “drew travelers from their safe paths,” to their doom…

Finally we get to the third of the three-day holiday – November 2 – All Souls’ Day.  The original idea was to remember the souls of “the dear departed,” illustrated by the painting below.

“Observing Christians typically remember deceased relatives” on November 2.  The custom began in the sixth century with a Benedictine custom of commemorating deceased members of a given monastery at Whitsuntide.  (Or “Whit(e) Sunday,” also known as Pentecost, held 50 days after Easter Sunday.)  That changed in the 11th century when Saint Odilo of Cluny chose the day after All Souls Day to commemorate “all the faithful departed … with alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory.”

So there you have it.  In closing, here’s wishing you a happy three days of Hallowe’en. 

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Day of the Dead (1859).jpg

The “Three Days of Halloween” end on November 2, with All Souls’ Day …

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The upper image is courtesy of Allhallowtide – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows.  Flowers and lighted candles are placed by relatives on the graves of their deceased loved ones.”

The image of the jack-o’lantern is courtesy of Halloween – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “A jack-o’-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween representing the souls of the dead.”

The lower image is courtesy of All Souls’ Day – Wikipedia.  The caption: “All Souls’ Day by William Bouguereau.”   See also Allhallowtide, and All Saints’ Day – Wikipedia.

On Billy Graham – noted “Liberal?”

 Billy Graham (at right):  To some “rightist” Christians, Graham was way too “ecumenical…”

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Graham in a suit with his fist clenchedI learned something new about Billy Graham.  I learned that some far-right preachers compared him to the Antichrist

That is, lately I’ve been listening to the book-on-CD version of The Preacher and the Presidents:  Billy Graham in the White House(Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.)  I skipped over the early parts, about Graham when he was young and full of himself.  And way more conservative than he was in later life. 

Which is another way of saying that  – as he grew in age – Billy Graham “also grew in grace.”  (See 2d Peter 3:18.)

Graham eventually grew in grace so much that he came to believe that God loves all people – even Liberals.  Which led some fundamentalist Christians to criticize him “for his ecumenism, even calling him ‘Antichrist.’”  On that note, see Deuteronomy 19:16-19.

(Deuteronomy 19:16-19 says that if you accuse someone of a crime and he’s not guilty of it, you are punished as if you committed the crime yourself.  So if you accuse someone of being “Antichrist” and he’s not, you get punished as if you were the Antichrist.)   

But we digress…

That is, on the other hand Graham started out as a Biblical literalist.  That led to an early confrontation with fellow evangelist Charles Templeton.  It’s described at pages 2-4 of the “book book,” but you can see an Oniine version at Billy Graham and Charles Templeton:  The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists (See also Heresy in the Heartland: Charles Templeton.)   

In essence, it started with Templeton telling Graham:

Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation.  The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago;  it has evolved over millions of years.  It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.

Graham responded, “I don’t accept that…  I believe the Genesis [account and] I’ve discovered something in my ministry:  When I take the Bible literally …  my preaching has power.”

Nevertheless, this was the man some Christians called “Antichrist.”  It started as early as 1957, when – after a crusade in New York – some fundamentalist Protestant Christians criticized Graham for his “ecumenism.”

40 years later he continued to express inclusivist views.

That is, he dared suggest that some people without explicit faith in Jesus can be saved.  For example, in a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said:

I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. 

In response, Iain Murray – writing from a conservative Protestant standpoint – said “Graham’s concessions are sad words from one who once spoke on the basis of biblical certainties.”

2013-02-18-Graham.King.jpgBut see Why Do Liberals Love Billy Graham(HuffPost.)  An example:  He was asked about two candidates for president, one “more learned and qualified,” the other a devout Christian.  How would he vote?

I’d pick the experienced and confident one…  I don’t think that we should vote for a person just simply because he says he’s a Christian.  I think we need confident men of integrity in places of responsibility.  We are living in a secular society.  We have a separation of church and state in this country.

Graham added that he doesn’t “play God,” saying who is saved and who isn’t.  The article concluded that Graham “managed to achieve that rare balance of fierce conviction and humane humility…  He would not condemn.  His mission was to comfort and inspire.”

Which brings us back to Ecumenism.  It’s the effort “by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.”  (See also Is ecumenism biblical “Gotquestsions.org.”)  Which means we could use a good dose of “Billy Graham” today.

We could use a popular preacher who “doesn’t play God.”  We could use a popular preacher with “humane humility.”  We could use a popular preacher whom does not condemn, but rather focuses exclusively on comforting and inspiring.  We could use a popular preacher who wouldn’t vote for a man “just because he says he’s a Christian.”

That is, for another – broader – view more you could check Ecumenical Synonyms … Thesaurus.com.  Synonyms for “ecumenical” include open-mindedreceptivetolerantbroad-minded, unbigoted, charitableinclusiveand/or unprejudiced.  And they are good.

Because without such principles – without, for example, developing “closer relationships and better understandings” – you could end up with something like this:

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Billy Graham Bill Clinton – Image Results.  The photo is in “Billy Graham: Pastor to the Presidents – True Christian or FreeMason ‘Christian.'”  (From the “Orthodox Christian Channel.”)  The gist of the article was that Graham was a Mason.  Among the quotes:  

Billy Graham called Bill and Hillary “wonderful friends” and a “great couple.”  Billy Graham also had former country and western superstar Johnny Cash, known to be a Mason, perform at his crusades on numerous occasions.  

The images in the main text are courtesy of the linked-articles in the adjacent paragraph.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian, which featured the image.

Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto…”

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

My brother exploring some “ruinas” on the Camino de Santiago, this time last year (10/4)…

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Image may contain: bridge, tree, outdoor, water and natureThis time last year – October 4, 2017 – my Utah brother and I were hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  Specifically, this day we managed to hike into León, for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking.

We got to the PENSION BLANCA B&B fairly early in the afternoon, and could then start relaxing.  Or at least easing our aching feet…

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling.  (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.”  (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

Just the day before – October 3 – we hiked from Reliegos to Puente Villarente – shown above right – some 7.5 miles shy of León.  (See also the blurb on the hike from El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.)  I know because I wrote in my journal, “We hiked 7.5 miles today.”  So again, we got to the PENSION BLANCA in León early in the afternoon, and started relaxing.

The other good news was that we were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike.  Which brings up the picture at the top of the page.  The caption:  “Tom heading back to the Camino.  Which gives an idea of the landscape we’ve been hiking through.”  That hiking-through was on the Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot.  In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all “wussified.”)

So the Meseta part of the hike presented its own “fresh hell,” its own set of fresh challenges.  But hey, that’s what a real pilgrimage is all about.   A “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance,” as shown at left.  Or in other words, “Finding yourself.”

Anyway, by October 4th we’d already hiked from Pamplona for 20 days, and ended up in León.  We’d hiked 250 miles.  And aside from taking a day off in León, we got our rented 15-speed mountain bikes.  With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days.  Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…

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Before leaving for Spain – and the 450-mile hike-and-bike – I wrote about this pilgrimage-adventure in Training for the Camino and Going back “whence we came.”  (We started hiking from Pamplona on September 13 and got to Santiago October 12, 2017.)  Once I got back I did “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts (The latter because my brother thought “Camino – Revisited” was too negative.)   From the latter post I said this:

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I looked thinner when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Also about this time – leading up to the Leon stayover – there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Bill O’Reilly posted that that latest mass murder was “the price of freedom.”  I posted in response, “No Bill, putting up with dumbasses like you is the price of freedom.”

So much for a pilgrimage making you all kumbaya and hug-your-neighbor.  But we digress…

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The start of the Meseta outside Burgos - el Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, SpainThe point is that this time last year we were just finishing the dry, dusty Spanish Meseta part of our Camino hike.  But next year we plan something different.  We’ll go back for another hike, but this time on the Portuguese Camino, “a fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”  And the “we” will include me, my brother and his wife.  Which means I’ll have to get my own lodging.  (So it’s time to start saving my pennies.)

I plan to fly into Lisbon, mostly because I’ve never been there but always wanted to visit.  The three of us will meet up in Porto; “gorgeous Porto with its colorful riverfront and home of Port wine.”  From there it’s a mere 161 miles to Santiago de Compostela, on a more-leisurely pace of ten miles a day, for 16 days or hiking.  (Who says you can’t can’t teach old dogs?)

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Meanwhile, back in Leon, last year.  On October 5, on the day off, I found a McDonald’s restaurant, for a “little taste of home.”  And we practice-rode our rental 15-speed bikes.  I “didn’t fall down, and shifted gears without the chain coming off.”  But from there it wasn’t all smooth sailing.  On the ride out of Leon October 6, “my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.”  In a second mishap:

I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”  We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pant-leg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

See “Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  The point is:  We covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days, but not without some adventure (As illustrated at left, “An exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking.”) 

Which can be what a pilgrimage is all about.

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So anyway, this time last year we were just coming off the dry, dusty Meseta part of the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  And who knows, maybe this time next year we’ll be finishing up our hike from Porto to Santiago.  Or somewhere in the middle, or maybe just starting out.  Which leads to this thought:

I’m sure the Portuguese Camino will have its own challenges, it’s own way of helping me “find myself.”  But considering we’ll be starting in Porto, at least the start should be happy…

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Rabelo boat, used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro,” to Porto . . .

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The upper image is my photo, taken with a “tablet” rather than a camera.  A word of advice:  Take a real camera.  It adds very little weight, while the tablet seemed to take forever to set up, meaning you really had to think ahead to get a decent picture.

The image to the right of the paragraph beginning “This time last year” is also my photo of the bridge for which Puente Villarente is named.  “Puente” means bridge and “Puente Villarente” is four miles northwest of the “Mansilla de Las Mulas” mentioned in El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.  See also Camino Day 24: Puente Villarente to León 12km.  

Re:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion – as noted – is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  It’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Amazon.com: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “The part some people recommend.”  The actual title:  The Meseta – Walking the Camino de Santiago.  It says in part, “many people decide to skip this section of the Camino Frances entirely, which is a shame, because this part … has more to offer than meets the eye.”

The pilgrim image is courtesy of the Camino link at Pilgrimage – Wikipedia.

A note about the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  My brother opted to start at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the northern end of the “French Way,” after flying into Paris.  I opted to fly into Madrid and take a train to Pamplona, where we met up.   

The lower image is courtesy of Port wine – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘Rabelos,’ a type of boat traditionally used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro for storage and aging in caves at Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.”  Also port wine is defined in pertinent part as…

… a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal…  Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added.  Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including PortSherryMadeiraMarsala … and the aromatised wine Vermouth.

So that part should be fun…

The “Rideau Adventure” – An Overview

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I saw no naked lady on the Rideau, but there was this fetching blonde at Smiths Falls Locks

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Last Saturday evening – September 1st – I got back home from my “Rideau Adventure.”  (Which included passing through the Poonamalie lock station – at left and discussed further below.)  That adventure involved canoeing the Rideau Canal, from Kingston – on Lake Ontario – to Ottawa.

I previewed it in Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal.”  Also – from July 31 – “Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal?

In a nutshell, I didn’t see a naked lady on the banks of the Rideau.  I did see a fetching blonde in a power boat, explained in the notes below.  And incidentally, “Poonamalie” is the station just before the Smiths Falls three locks.  (We followed “Yvette’s” Fuego on the first two of three locks…)   

And now for the overview:  The guide books say it should take from six to ten days to make the trip.  They also say the prevailing winds are “generally” from the southwest, but to be “ready for anything.”  We ended up taking 11-and-a-half days – and 11 nights – but two of those nights we spent in relative luxury in a rustic cabin in Portland, Ontario (Nine days “actual canoeing.*”)

1534935865425That was after taking a wrong turn padding north from Colonel By Island on the morning of Wednesday, August 22.  That overnight campsite included a violent rainstorm and raccoons breaking into our plastic food containers and taking our supplies of breakfast bars, crackers and trail mix.  That in turn was preceded by us paddling through a veritable monsoon, on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21.  That morning we made 10 miles, but in the afternoon – after leaving the Narrows (Lock 35) – we made four miles before stopping at ” Colonel By.”

But such is “the stuff of legends.”  And we digress…

Getting back to those prevailing winds.  For the first few days the prevailing winds were from the north, in our faces.  Plus we had to delay our start – by one day – because The Weather Channel predicted heavy thunderstorms on the afternoon of Friday, August 17.  That forecast wasn’t accurate, but the one for the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21, was accurate.

We got the predicted heavy rain.

Which is another way of saying the trip featured highlights and lowlights.  “Yvette” was a definite highlight.  The heavy rains of August 21-22 were lowlights, as was taking a wrong turn after leaving Colonel By Island.  But that was followed by deciding to take two nights off – resting and refitting – in beautiful Portland, Ontario – a definite highlight – on August 23 and 24.

Thereupon,” on leaving Portland our main goal was to get off “all those big-ass lakes.”  With their unpredictable winds and a constant threat of being swamped by inconsiderate big-boat drivers.  Speaking of that, on the afternoon of August 24, we were in the process of getting off Lower Rideau Lake(The last of the “big-ass lakes” in the Rideau system, which is actually further north than Upper Rideau Lake Big Rideau Lake – with Cow Island – lies in between.)  

We were heading for the Poonamalie lock station, and my brother was sitting in his canoe, minding his own business and checking our bearings on his big book of charts.  Some jerk in a big-ass boat came zooming out from the river to the north – where we were headed – making a huge wave and yelling out, “GET OFF THE F’ING CHANNEL!”  Which just goes to show that life is like a box of chocolates:  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

1534674220192Also speaking of that:  To avoid the often-contrary prevailing winds, we started getting up at 4:00 a.m.  Which leads to the picture at left, of one of the benefits of getting up at 4:00 a.m. and stumbling around in the dark while breaking camp.  Aside from the water being much smoother – which was especially important on those “big-ass lakes” during the first half of the trip – you also get to see some beautiful sunrises.  (As seen at left.)

So all in all we spent 11-and-a-half days on the trip, but that included two nights in a nice cabin in Portland Ontario.  And aside from primitive camping the first two nights – “dig a hole and squat” – most of the rest of the nights we camped at the lock stations themselves.  They featured nice level lawns, hot and cold running water in the nearby “washrooms,” and every once in a while a nearby pub or restaurant with hot food and cold beer.

Which led to my conclusion that this Rideau trip was “more of a Camino than the Camino.”  That is, last September and October – on Spain’s 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago* – my brother and I kept meeting up with flocks of fellow pilgrims, all or most greeting us with “Buen Camino.”  In other words, the Rideau trip was more of a pilgrimage, in the truest sense.  That is, a “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.”  Or consider the words of John Steinbeck in Travels with CharleySpeaking of long-distance driving – at least in 1962 – he wrote:

If one has driven a car over many years [one] does not have to think about what to do.  Nearly all the driving technique is deeply buried in the machine-like unconscious.  This being so, a large area of the conscious mind is left free for thinking…  [T]here is left, particularly on very long trips, a large area for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.

Unfortunately, there was precious little of that on the Camino.  (Or for that matter, on any modern long-distance driving trip, what with Sirius, GPS, iPod Shuffles or the new “Sandisks,” not to mention “books on CD,” none of which were available in 1962.)  On the other hand, there was plenty of time – paddling up the Rideau river system – for “God help us, thought.

In my case, on the Rideau I spent plenty of time – along with Steinbeck – thinking about the past:  “And how about the areas of regrets?  If only I had done so-and-so, or had not said such-and-such – my God, the damn thing might not have happened.”

Which is another way of saying there weren’t that many other canoeists or kayakers on the Rideau.  In fact I can only remember one, the lady kayaker shown below, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the  Burritts Rapids lock station.  Whereas my brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks, this younger lady chose to do it the “other way.”  She’d carry her kayak on one trip – from one end of the lock station to the other – then go back and get all her gear, stacked what seemed to a mile high on her backpack.

The point being – in case I’m being too subtle – that the dearth of fellow paddlers meant there was plenty of time “for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.”

Which seems to be what makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage(Though it helped to find the Lock 17 Bistro, a short walk from Burritts Rapids, where we camped the night of Sunday, August 26.)

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The upper image:  My photo from our passage through the first two of three locks at Smiths Falls, Ontario.  I wrote that we got to the lock at 8:30 and they didn’t open til 9:00 a.m., so my brother walked to a close-by convenience store and got some REAL coffee and a chocolate-chip cookie.  Then the lady in question – I’d like to think her name was Yvette – “and her old-guy SO” – whatever that meant – “went off into the Rideau.”  I also journaled: “The point being:  This trip has been mainly pleasant.  Early stops, lots of breaks, a two-night stay in Portland…”  (Portland Ontario that is.)

Re:  My not seeing “a naked lady strolling the banks of the Rideau Canal.”  The reference goes back to the August 2016 post, “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (Where the “mighty Yukon River” was the last place on earth I expected to see a lady sun bathing, “In the altogether” as it were.) 

Re:  Portland, Ontario:  “The Landing on Big Rideau Lake, which is now the community of Portland, lies at the heart of the Rideau Canal System and is central to the history of the canal and to the early development of Canada.  Portland is on Highway 15, midway between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.”  See also Portland, Ontario – Wikipedia.

Re:  Distances on the canal system.  Using the figures from Rideau Canal – Distances between Lockstations, it is 125.6 miles from the Lasalle Causeway in Kingston to Ottawa proper and the last several lock stations leading to the Ottawa River.  But we stopped at Hartwells lock station, 4.9 miles short of the Ottawa River, for reasons including there was no apparent take-out available, at which my brother could park his car and trailer, and we could unload the canoes.  Moreover, we put in at the small but better-suited “Elliott Avenue Parkett” – at the water’s end of John Counter Boulevard – some two miles north of the Lasalle Causeway.  Thus we arguably covered some 118.7 miles on the trip.  On that note, in an email post-mortem dated September 4, my brother noted this:   

…to set the record straight, the entire Rideau is 125 nm (nautical miles), of which we did 120 nm.  That works out to 138 statute miles.  And, we started Saturday, August 18]. around 11 am and finished at about the same time on Wed[nesday, August 29]., 11 days total, two of which were, going backwards to Portland and a day spent in Portland.  So 9 days total actually canoeing. 

Re:  “Our’ 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago.”  For more on that pilgrimage see “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and/or “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.

Another note:  For the next canoe trip I’m getting a bigger tent and a cot.  (No more sleeping on the ground for me.)  But that trip won’t happen until at least 2020, as next summer my brother, his wife and I plan to hike the Portuguese Camino.  That hike will involve a “mere” 150 miles, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.  This route is said to be a “fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”

The quotes from Travels with Charley are from the 1962 Penguin Books edition, at pages 94-95.

The lower image:  My photo of a lady kayaker, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the Burritt’s Rapids lock station. My brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks – resulting in the previous picture of “Yvette,” bending and stretching, but this lady chose to do it the “other way…”  (“Oh  to be young again!”  Or not, once was enough…)

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Also of note:  In Geezer’s guide to supplements – Part II, I wrote of supplements for “men my age,” that is, 67.  One of the recommended supplements was Selenium:  “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  The good news was that “Nature’s selenium supplement is the Brazil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut.   So you get your daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts.”  But that presented a problem in accounting:

I bought a 9.5 ounce container at the local Fresh Market for $12.95 on July 15.  I’ll update this post when they’re gone – at the rate of two or three a day – but … it’ll be awhile.

For the record, I had my last two Brazil nuts from that batch on September 7, 2018, less than a week after I got back from the aforementioned Rideau Adventure.  I took the supplement from July 15 to August 17, for a total of 63 days.  I didn’t take the supplement while on the Rideau, from the 18th to August 30, when I left for home.  I then took it from August 31 to September 7, eight more days, or 71 total.  Thus the cost of this supplement rounds up to about 19 cents a day.     

“Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal?

I’m more likely to see a “Lady with a Parasol,” strolling the banks of the Rideau Canal

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As noted in Paddling the Rideau Canal:  This August my Utah-brother and I will be canoeing – some six to 10 days – up the Rideau Canal, from Kingston to Ottawa, Ontario.

Which brings up the fact that two years ago this August, we spent two weeks canoeing the Mighty Yukon River(Also in Canada.)  We paddled 440 miles – from Whitehorse  to Dawson City – in 12 days.  (Not counting the one day  we took off from paddling – Sunday, August 14 – in beautiful Carmacks, Yukon Territory.  The idea was to rest, refit and enjoy an ice-cold Yukon Gold.)

One result of that trip was a post on August 28, 2016, “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  As noted in the post, the Yukon River was “the last place on earth I would expect to see a lady sun bathing.”  (In the altogether, as it were.)  But I could probably say the same thing about the Rideau Canal.

You can read the full story in the Naked lady post, but here’s a short version:

It was Friday, August 12.  We were a day away from Carmacks, and had been on the river five days already…  About 4:00 my brother was way ahead of me, when he went around a right-hand bend and looked like he was heading to shore, for a break.  There followed one lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng right-hand curve in the Yukon, that seemed to last forever.  It was getting late and we were looking for the “good camp” listed in the guidebook.  When I finally got to the end of the long right-hand curve, I could see something, way off, a half-mile or so ahead.

That “something way off” turned out to be one of two canoeists (one canoe), who’d passed us at the north end of Lake Laberge (The other person “in the shadows” was her husband, methinks).  So anyway, the point is:  There – where we’d wanted to camp – lay a lovely young lady, face down aside her “grounded” canoe – in her birthday suit – “for all the world to see.”

Which brings up the strong current in the Yukon River.  It ranges from four to seven miles an hour, which is one reason you can cover 440 miles in 12 paddling days.  That averages out to over 36 miles a day, which is usually good.  However, when there’s something you don’t expect but would like to linger over, that presents a problem:  “By the time I recognized the naked lady as a naked lady, the current was already pushing me farther down-river.”

Again, you can read a fuller version of this tantalizing tale in “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  That’s along with references to a hike we did on that same trip, four days on the Chilkoot Trail.  (The “meanest 33 miles in history,” as seen at right.)  But for now, let’s get back to the upcoming Rideau trip…

For starters, only 12 of the 125 miles are actual “canal.”  The rest are woodland rivers and lakes, including Big Rideau Lake, 20 miles long and over three miles wide.  But this water route has one thing the Yukon River didn’t:  Plenty of places to stop for the night and shower, along with a goodly number of bed and breakfasts along the way.

So here let me try a bit of prognostication – or guesswork – for the first two days of canoeing.

Our plan is to average 15 miles a day, and thus cover the 125 miles in eight days.  (That’s not counting the total 677 miles of shoreline along the way, full of nooks and crannies we may choose to explore.)  And according to Google Maps, it’s roughly 17 miles from the Doug Fluhrer Park in Kingston, to the Rideau Rendezvous Bed and Breakfast, also listed as Kingston.  Or it’s a mere 14.5 miles if we start out at the Belle Island (Cataraqui Park) location.

Chaffeys LockThen – if we make the Rendezvous that first day – the next “pleasurable” stop up could be Chaffeys Lock (37).  That was the location of Chaffey’s Rapids, “333 yards (304 m) in length, descending about 13 feet … where Indian Lake flowed into Opinicon Lake.”

And as such it used to mean a 1,500-yard portage, which would have required unloading both our canoes, carrying them and all our baggage those 1,500 yards, then packing up and setting out again.

Of course if you really want to you can still do that.  However, we’ll pay the small fee…

But once again there are some comfy lodgings there too.  (For a full list see Rideau Campgrounds, Cottages & Lodges – rideau-info.com.)  And according to the Rideau Canal map in Wikipedia, it’s 28 miles from the starting point in Kingston to Chaffey’s Lock.  Which should be a do-able enough starting-out pace for two old guys, aged 67 and 72.  Now, whether we see a young lady sunbathing In the altogether those first two days is another question entirely… 

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bowdlerized version of what I saw one day on the Yukon River

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The upper image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on sun bathing.  The full caption:  “‘La promenade’ (1875) by Claude Monet.  At that time in the West, the upper social class used parasols, long sleeves and hats to avoid sun tanning effects.”  (More’s the pity.)  See also Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son – Wikipedia.

Re:  The Chilkoot Trail.  See my posts, On the Chilkoot &^%$# TrailPart 1 and Part 2.

The lower image is courtesy of Sun tanning – Wikipedia The caption:  “A woman sun tanning on a Portuguese beach.”

A Geezer’s guide to supplements

No, I don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67, I just want to stick around a while yet… 

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http://img2-2.timeinc.net/people/i/2014/news/140210/christie-brinkley-300.jpgI recently flew back from Newark to the ATL.*

The Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine had a full-page ad for M-drive The ad was for a “daily supplement designed specifically for men.”  Since I just turned 67, it piqued my interest.  (For reasons including some noted in Part II.  Like I said, I want to stick around awhile.  And maybe run into a cute “young” 60-year-old, like the one shown at left.)

As It turned out, M-drive wasn’t my cup of tea.  But the ad did get me thinking.  (Supplements and such.)

So I did some Googling and came up with this:  The Top 10 Supplements for Men – menshealth.com.

A side note:  I was already taking a multivitamin and Glucosamine Chondroitin, both via “gummies.”  (Despite my dentist’s warning that “gummy vitamins” – like Halloween Candy – can “pull your fillings out and crack your crowns.”  But I’m careful, and essentially “gum the gummies.”)

 Also Vitamin D3, on doctor’s orders.  (Which is ironic since I am and have been in the sun a lot.)

So here’s what Menshealth said, and what I’ve gotten  “extra,” and how much it all costs.

1.  BORON TO PROTECT YOUR PROSTATE

This note got me really thinking, since my brother and father both got prostate cancer.

The site said men with high boron levels are “65 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than men with lower levels.”  It added that American men on average have one of the lowest boron intakes in the world.  The site recommended 3 milligrams (mg) a day, and added that it “doesn’t just fight cancer:  USDA researchers found that this is the best dosage to improve memory and concentration.”  (Which I could definitely use.)

As it turned out, I could get most of my supplements straight out of the local General Nutrition Center(This was after trying – without success – to buy them at some local “hypermarketsdiscount department stores, and grocery stores.”  It seems they cater more to the trendy – if not gullible.)

However, the local GNC didn’t have Boron on hand, so I had to special order it.  Online, it cost $6.41, including shipping, for a bottle of 100.  That worked out to under seven cents a day.

2.  CALCIUM TO LOSE WEIGHT AND STRENGTHEN BONES

Menshealth said most men don’t get the recommended 1,000 mg of calcium a day.  (And that a cup of milk only has 300 mg.)  It added that men with the highest calcium intakes weigh less on average than men consuming less calcium.

A color photograph of a kidney stone, 8 millimetres in length.How much?  The site said to aim for 1,200 mg calcium citrate; “half in the morning, half at night, to maximize absorption.”  It also said to avoid coral calcium, because of impurities.  But here I made a misstep.  The first “calcium” I got was calcium phosphate, at the local hypermarket.  But it turns out calcium phosphate increases the danger kidney stones(As seen at right.)

So I ended up getting calcium citrate “soft chews” from the same local GNC, at $30 for 60 “chews,” each 500 mg.  But I ended up opting to take only one of these day.  For one thing, I don’t want to risk one of those dang kidney stones.  For another I get some calcium – of the right kind – from my morning cheese and multivitamin, and other sources as well.  Plus of course it’s cheaper taking one.  That ends up costing 50 cents a day, and I still increase my calcium substantially.

Number 3 on the list – Chromium – is covered adequately by my multivitamin.

4.  COENZYME Q10 TO BOOST ENERGY

Here I found a real bargain, as noted below.

But first, Menshealth said your body naturally produces Coenzyme Q10, which helps cells manage your body’s energy supply.  However, “as you get older, production decreases,” and the only way to “get back up to youthful levels is by taking a supplement.”

Recent studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 may fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, and may thin the blood to help prevent heart disease.  Q10 is also packed with free-radical-fighting antioxidants, which can slow the signs of aging.

How much?  Menshealth said researchers recommend 100 mg a day, but you “won’t find Q10 in a multivitamin or get any useful quantity from food.”  And that’s where I lucked out.

It turns out this supplement is covered by GNC’s Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10(“Two for the price of one.”)  This “fish oil plus supplement” cost $52.50 for 120 softgels.  But that rounds out to 44 cents a day for a three month supply of both CoQ-10 and Omega-3s.

5.  CREATINE TO BOOST MUSCLE AND MEMORY

As  Wikipedia noted, Creatine “can increase maximum power and performance in high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work (periods of work and rest) by 5 to 15%.”  But I put the kibosh on this one.  After visiting both Walmart and the GNC, this one looked like too much trouble.  (What with having to mix it with whey, and thus being a bit too “body-builderish.”) 

The verdict:  “NOT interested.”  Getting older, I’ve moved to low-weight high repetition strength training, since a big benefit of “using light weights is the diminished risk of injury.”  Which I came to appreciate recently.  I “tweaked” my right shoulder lifting a bag of garbage I’d always handled easily before.  It took a month of rehabilitation and a couple of sleepless nights to work through that one.  And I came to appreciate not being able to raise your right arm.

So as they say, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  As they also say, “To be continued

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The upper image is courtesy of Bodybuilding – Wikipedia.  Caption, “Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most notable figures in bodybuilding, in 1974.”  See also Arnold Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia.

The “hypermarketsdiscount department stores, and grocery stores” is from Walmart – Wikipedia.

I borrowed the Christie Brinkley image from On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II).

Re: Whey. See Why You Should Take Whey Protein, Creatine, And Glutamine.  (“Bodybuilding.com.”)

The lower image is courtesy of Creatine Body – Image Results.

A Geezer’s guide to supplements – Part II

Like I said, I don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At 67, I just want to stick around a while… 

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We left Part I at the point where I chose not to take the supplement Creatine.  That’s  Number 5 on the Menshealth Top 10 List of Supplements for Men(“I put the kibosh on this one.”) 

The better part of valour is discretionIt was “too body-builderish,” and I’m no longer interested in “high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work.”  And because – in light of a recent shoulder injury – “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  So, moving to Number 6 on the Menshealth list:

6.  FOLIC ACID TO CUT ALZHEIMER’S RISK

Menshealth said Folic Acid helps prevent clogged arteries and improves blood flow to the brain.  It also helps keep down Homocysteine, an amino acid that increases your risk of blood clots.  Then too, “Researchers in Sweden found that Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to have folic acid deficiencies.”  So how much?  The site recommends 500 mcg a day, “which could help lower homocysteine levels by 18 percent or more.”  At GNC, I got 100 tablets (400 mcg) for $3.99.  That works out to 4 cents a day for a three month supply.

7.  GLUCOSAMINE TO “GREASE YOUR JOINTS”

As noted, I started taking Glucosamine Chondroitin “soft chews” some time ago.  Anecdotally, it made a difference – to me – when I stopped taking them for awhile.  (Like on the Camino trip.)  The manufacturer said to take three a day, but I’ve been taking two.  The cost?  $11.48 for 50, a 25 week supply, about 45 cents a week.  Here’s what Menshealth said:

You don’t have the same amount of cartilage in your joints that you had at 19.  To reverse the damage and actually rebuild cartilage, take glucosamine, made from the shells of crabs and lobsters.  How much?  1,500 mg a day.  Brands that combine glucosamine with chondroitin are fine.  [As noted, I take two instead of three, and so get 1,000 mg a day.]

8.  OMEGA-3s TO PROTECT YOUR HEART

As noted, this one got covered by the Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10.  44 cents a day for a three month supply of both CoQ-10 and Omega-3s, which has already been calculated in.

Omega-3 fatty acids keep blood pressure and triglyceride levels low and the heart beating regularly.  They make blood slicker, reducing the risk of clots and blocked arteries.  Studies show that men with the highest omega-3 levels have the lowest risk of dying of heart disease.  How much?  For healthy guys, 1,000 mg a day.  Those with heart problems may need 2,000 to 4,000 mg.  But too much can increase your risk of catching a cold.

Another tip from Menshealth:  “Take Omega-3s with meals so you don’t burp up a fish scent.”

9.  SELENIUM TO FIGHT OFF CANCER

Menshealth said “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively than Selenium…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  Studies link increased selenium intake with a “decreased risk of cancers of the prostate, colon, and lungs.”

How much?  The site said 200 mcg a day, and “more when you’re sick.”  And here’s the good news:  “Nature’s selenium supplement is the Brazil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut.”  So you get your daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts.  I bought a 9.5 ounce container at the local Fresh Market for $12.95 on July 15.  I’ll update this post when they’re gone – at the rate of two or three a day – but based on what I’ve used so far, it’ll be awhile.  [It worked out to 19 cents a day, as detailed in the footnotes.*]

 10.  VITAMIN E  TO SLOW THE EFFECTS OF AGING

Last but not least, Menshealth said Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and “may help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases, heart disease, cancer, even Alzheimer’s disease.”  And some studies show that Vitamin E “also reduces muscle damage after exercise.”  The Beyond the Hype link said most tests on the health benefits of antioxidants have been inconclusive.  However:

At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules – provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

And by the way, I’ve also been eating a lot more whole fruits and vegetables.  (“Whole grains,” not so much.  Though I do eat my fair share of cornwheat germ, and flaxseed.)

How much?  Menshealth said up to 400 international units (IU) a day, “since most people get just a fraction of that from their diets.  You can also increase your intake by eating more nuts and oils.”  I got a bottle of 100 for $5.99 at GNC.  That’s 6 cents a day for a three month supply.

So the total verifiable cost of these add-on supplements is $1.30 a day.  That doesn’t count the Glucosamine Chondroitin I was already taking, so if you add that extra 45 cents, the cost goes to $1.56 a day.  So why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough – and if only metaphorically – to dance on my enemy’s grave.  As to which enemy:

Let the reader understand!

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Nymphets “dancing on an enemy’s grave,” if only metaphorically…

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The upper image is courtesy of Bodybuilding – Wikipedia.  Caption, “Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most notable figures in bodybuilding, in 1974.”  See also Arnold Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia.

The “valor” image is courtesy of Discretion … Better Part Valor – Image Results.  The cited blog credits the idiom to KHIV part 1 act 5, sc. 4,” and more accurately: “The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.”  The blogger said the saying was a “masterpiece of what today would be called ‘political correctness.”  See also Better part of valor is discretion – eNotes.

Re:  Sources of whole grains.  See e.g. The 11 Healthiest Whole Grains You Should Be Eating, and/or What are sources of whole grains? | Health Value Of Foods.

Re:  “Let the reader understand.”  The allusion is to Mark 13:14:  “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  See also Matthew 24:15.

Re:  The daily cost of two Brazil nuts a day.  For the record, I had my last two Brazil nuts from the $12.95 batch on September 7, 2018.  I took the supplement from July 15 to August 17, for a total of 63 days, but didn’t take it while on the Rideau Canal, from the 18th to August 30, when I left for home.  I then took it from August 31 to September 7, eight more days, or 71 total.  Thus the cost of this “Brazil nut” supplement rounds up to about 19 cents a day.      

The lower image is courtesy of Dancing Enemy Grave – Image Results.  I originally used the photo at right, with my caption, “General Patton micturating at the Rhine River.”  But after further review I decided that was a bit “untoward,” so I substituted the “dancing enemy grave image.”  For those interested in this less-than-subtle metaphor, the Patton photo is courtesy of Photo of George Patton as he urinated into the Rhine.  Apparently it’s an old American custom from way back, at least in the eyes of some.  See Americans cheered Gen. Patton when he urinated on the enemy, and George Patton at the Rhine River: Yes, Hillary, Peeing On The Enemy IS An American Tradition.   (Or you could Google the phrase “american pissing on enemy.”) 

For an alternate view of “celebrating” too much over an enemy, see Dancing on Our Enemy’s Grave: Jewish Ethics of War and Peace, a course offered by Simon Fraser University.  Week Six of the course:

Dancing on our Enemy’s Grave???  When victims die from terrorist attacks in the West, their supporters dance in the streets with flags and weapons waving in the air.  When bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS, the US and other governments’ responses were muted.  What is the moral response to the death and defeat of our enemies?  Are we truly entitled to “dance on our enemy’s grave?”  We close out these sessions with an exploration of the ethical issues surrounding victory and the advent of peace.

Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal”

A 1906 photograph of the Poonamalie Lock Station (32) on the Rideau Canal in Canada… 

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Taking a break from Politics:  My next big adventure is coming up in August.

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4329_zps7f7b5ddb.jpgMy Utah-brother and I will be paddling – some six to 10 days – up the Rideau Canal, from Kingston to Ottawa, Ontario.  (This is the same brother with whom I canoed 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi in 2014, as seen at right  And 440 miles on the Yukon River.  And hiked the Chilkoot Trail – “the meanest 33 miles in history” – and most recently hiked and biked 450 miles on the Camino de Santiago.)  

But don’t let the “canal” name fool you.  (Or the photo at the top of the page.)

This Rideau “Canal” is a water route of “mostly natural waters, made up of lakes and rivers.”  Of the 125 miles on this “canal,” only 12 – about 10% – are “manmade locks and canal cuts.”  The rest of the route consists of “natural waters,” as noted.  That includes Big Rideau Lake, some 20 miles long and over three miles wide.  (For comparison, Lake Laberge on the Yukon River – which we paddled in 2016 – is 31 miles long and up to three miles wide.)

The direct route from Kingston to Ottawa is 125 miles, but that includes over 677 miles of shoreline.  (Most choose that route because the prevailing winds are from the southwest.)  

Also, from Lake Ontario at Kingston the route rises 166 feet.  It rises to the “summit of Upper Rideau Lake,” from where it then descends 275 feet to the Ottawa River at Ottawa.

The canal system was built between 1826 and 1832, to help defend Canada by allowing boats to travel safely along the southern border.  I.e., Canadians could travel along their southern border – the border with the U.S. – “without having to travel along the St. Lawrence River, in gunshot range of the Americans.”  (And Donald Trump wasn’t even president…)  

The construction of the Rideau Canal was a preventive military measure undertaken after a report that during the War of 1812 the United States had intended to invade the British colony of Upper Canada via the St. Lawrence River, which would have severed the lifeline between Montreal and Kingston.

Then there’s this added note:  “It is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America.  Most of the locks are still operated by hand, using the same mechanisms that were used to operate the locks in 1832.”  (Speaking of “delightfully retro.”)

To give some perspective on how long such a canoe-trip can take, early voyageurs could cover the distance  in three days.  (But those were “very long days with lots of paddling.”)  And that would include portaging around the areas that have since been made locks and canal cuts.

Today the recommended pace is anywhere from six to 10 days, as noted.

And there are 26 lockstations to pass through.  Those you can either portage around – like the early voyageurs – or pay a fee.  They all have washrooms and potable water, and most offer camping.  (So it won’t be like canoeing 12 miles offshore, featuring eight days of primitive camping, on places like Half-moon Island, Ship Island, and “from time to time an occasional salt marsh.”) 

Other notes:  The name Rideau is French for “curtain,” and comes from the “curtain-like appearance of the Rideau River‘s twin waterfalls where they join the Ottawa River.”  And:

The canal also served a commercial purpose.  The Rideau Canal was easier to navigate than the St. Lawrence River because of the series of rapids between Montreal and Kingston.  As a result, the Rideau Canal became a busy commercial artery from Montreal to the Great Lakes.  However, by 1849, the rapids of the St. Lawrence had been tamed by a series of locks, and commercial shippers were quick to switch to this more direct route.

Thus it “remains in use today primarily for pleasure boating, with most of its original structures intact, operated by Parks Canada.”  But it’s not all fun and games, necessarily.

One Canal-guide noted three possible issues:  Wind, waves and big boats.  As for the first, while the prevailing wind is from the southwest, “be prepared for anything,” including a change in wind from the northeast.  Also, waves can be an issue on big lakes, “with large sections of open water unprotected by islands.”  And such large waves “can be an issue for a canoeist.”

The same is true of “big power boats (cruisers)” which also share the waterway.

One idea (the guide said):  Paddle close to shore.  It’s more interesting – with more wildlife and such – and keeps you further from the waves produced by big boats.  But if you encounter one – here I’m writing under the “memo to self” idea – the general rule is to turn into such waves, meeting them head on.  This “can actually be fun in a kayak (not as much fun in a canoe).”

I’ll be writing more on this adventure, if only in the form of a postmortem(But not in the literal sense.)  Meanwhile, here’s hoping we don’t have to use this little maneuver this August…

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Image titled Canoe Step 14

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The upper image is courtesy of Rideau Canal – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Poonahmalee, on the Rideau River, near Smith Falls, Ontario – October 1906.”

Portions of the text were gleaned from “Watson’s paddling guide to the Rideau Canal” (PDF), by Ken W. Watson, First Printing 2012, Current Revision May 2018, at pages 9-10, 17-18.  The “wind, wave and big boat issues” are discussed on pages 13 and 14. 

Re:  “12 miles offshore.”  See Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, from 2016.  (It was a both a review of the 2014 canoe trip and a preview of last fall’s Camino de Santiago adventure.

 The “retro” image is courtesy of Delightfully Retro – Image Results.

The lower image is courtesy of How to Canoe (with Pictures) – wikiHow.