Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

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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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:

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.     

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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.

“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.

“The rope has to tighten SLOWLY…”

Like Joe Friday on the old TV show Dragnet, all real Americans want “Just the Facts…”

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There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about Donald Trump’s pardon power.  And a lot of Americans worry that he could use that pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution.  (Either against himself or against any of his underlings.)

The first question has already been answered:  He can’t pardon himself.  (See No Donald, you CAN’T pardon yourself.  And even if he could, that “self-pardon” would only apply to federal crimes, not state crimes or civil suits.)  But that still leaves the question:  “If Trump pardons anyone and everyone who could incriminate him, wouldn’t that be the same as ‘pardoning himself?’”

All the president's men.jpgThe answer?  “Not necessarily.”  Which brings us back to the years from 1972 to 1974.  Back to “Deep Throat,” Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal, and the movie – and book – All the President’s Men.

And for you thinking this is “like deja vu all over again,” it is…  

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First of all, I wanted to call this post, “The truth will come out…”  (Because that’s what I believe.)  Then I started re-reading All the President’s Men, the 1974 book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  I was looking for the part where “Deep Throat” lectured Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly, “from the outer edges in.”  (In an obscure parking garage at 3:00 a.m…)  

I checked out the hard copy from a local library – my paperback is somewhere “lost in my house” – and eventually found the passage in question.  Then I started typing in the lecture, and the phrase “the rope has to tighten slowly” sounded ever so much better.

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But here we cut to the chase.  Specifically, could Donald Trump use his pardon-power so freely that he could avoid any successful prosecution?  Put another way, what would happen if Trump pardoned all those lower-level minions who could possibly incriminate him?

Just this.  Since those “minions” will have been pardoned, they will no longer face the prospect of incriminating themselves.  Which means they can be compelled to testify.  And if they refuse to testify, they can be jailed for contempt of court.

And once they testify, a prosecutor – or Democratic Congress – can start building a case against Trump for obstructing justice.  For one thing, granting pardons to hide a criminal act is a criminal act itself.  Which brings us to the old saying, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”  (As illustrated at left.)

And today’s antithetical version: “Why is the Mueller investigation taking so long?”  (Note that that complaint was lodged as early as five months after Mueller was appointed.  Which brings up the classic American need for instant gratification, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…)

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Which brings us back to 1974, and “Deep Throat” lecturing Bob Woodward on the importance of building a conspiracy investigation slowly.  You can read the full lecture – and background – at page 196 of the Simon and Schuster (1974) hardback, All the President’s Men:

“A conspiracy like this … a conspiracy investigation … the rope has to tighten slowly around everyone’s neck.  You build convincingly from the outer edges in, you get ten times the evidence you need against the Hunts and Liddys.  They feel hopelessly finished – they may not talk right away, but the grip is on them.  Then you move up and do the same thing to the next level.  If you shoot too high and miss, then everybody feels more secure.  Lawyers work this way.  I’m sure smart reporters do too.  You’ve put the investigation back months.  It puts everybody on the defensive – editors, FBI agents, everybody has to go into a crouch after this.”

The book added, “Woodward swallowed hard.  He deserved the lecture.”

The point is this:  The Mueller Investigation started over a year ago, in mid-May, 2017.  So far – it appears – it has resulted in 17 indictments and five guilty pleas.  So what happens if Trump starts pardoning more lower-level people?

Simply this:  They lose their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.  They can be compelled to testify, on pain of being jailed for contempt of court.  The Mueller Investigation might end, but we would begin a whole new series of state criminal proceedings.  As in any state like New York where “The Donald” or his minions have done business.

And the “noose-tightening” would start all over again…

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Or – like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men – real Americans just Want the Truth!

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The upper image is courtesy of Just The Facts Ma’am – Image Results.  But see also Joe Friday – Wikipedia, which noted that Detective Friday never actually used the phrase:  “A common misattributed catchphrase to Friday is ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ In fact, Friday never actually said this in an episode, but it was featured in Stan Freberg‘s works parodying ‘Dragnet.'”  See also FACT CHECK: Dragnet ‘Just the Facts’ – snopes.com.

Re: Pardons and the Fifth Amendment.  See Would a full presidential pardon void an individual’s 5th Amendment protection, and Donald Trump Pardons: How a Pardon Could Backfire.  For a fuller explanation of “contempt of court” in such circumstances, see If you’re pardoned, can you be compelled to testify about your crime?

Re:  “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”   See Justice – Wikiquote, under the letter “F,” which noted the saying has “appeared in various forms over the millennia, going back as far as “Euripides circa 405 BCE.”  In other words, the concept was known at least over 2400 years ago.  

Re:  The Mueller investigation starting on or about May 17, 2017.  See Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation.

Note that the ellipses (“…”) were in the original “Deep Throat” quote in All the President’s Men.

For the guilty pleas and indictments, I Googled “mueller investigation indictments and guilty pleas.”

Note that the change from “rope-tightening” to “noose-tightening” was a bit of creative license.

The lower image is courtesy of Tom Cruz I Want Truth – Image Results.  

My first time in a “tail dragger…”

I just flew in a Piper Cub “J-3” – like the one shown above – that helped win World War II

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Last Sunday evening – June 10 – I rode in my first-ever “taildragger.”  (You know, the airplane kind.)  The place I contacted was Peachtree City Biplanes, at Falcon Field in Peachtree City.  But rather than the biplane – at left – I chose to fly in the company’s other plane.  That other plane was a classic 1946 Piper J-3 Cub.

I did that for a couple reasons.  First, the Cub flight was cheaper.  For another, I remember the 1965 movie Battle of the Bulge.  (About the Ardennes Counteroffensive, in WW II.)  The film started with Henry Fonda – “Lt. Col. Dan Kiley” – in the back seat of a Piper Cub.  He and the pilot were “flying a reconnaissance mission over the Ardennes forest.”  Later still, the pair flew another daring mission:

Facing the dangers of a foggy night, Col. Kiley conducts an aerial reconnaissance in an attempt to locate the main German spearhead.  He orders the pilot to shut off the engine and glide in an attempt to listen for enemy tanks.  Suddenly, through a gap in the fog, he spots [a German] tank column heading toward American lines.  Kiley radios in the coordinates, but his plane is hit by German fire and crashes near an American fuel depot.

I’ve wanted to fly a Piper Cub ever since.  (BTW: Fonda survived and helped save the day.)

And another aside:  In researching for this post I learned that – to some Army Air Corps veterans anyway – The Piper Cub helped beat the Germans in World War II:

The Piper Cub, used as an artillery spotter plane, did more to defeat the German Army in World War II then any other American airplane, according to Capt. John Johnson.

The article added that what made the Cub “perfect for artillery spotting was its versatility.”  They could fly “low and slow with ease,” and could also land and take off in very little space.  “Given the wind conditions, I could land and take off in 19 inches,” Johnson said.

*   *   *   *

Meanwhile, back to my flight, last Sunday evening.

I hadn’t flown since 2002 or thereabouts.  (When I got my Private Pilot’s license, but then found out flying was an expensive hobby.)  Owner-operator Jay Herrin wrote later that we had a great flight over Lake McIntosh, Pinewood Studios – where they shoot “The Walking Dead,” etc. – and also Starr’s Mill and the surrounding area.  He added that I “did most of the flying and did a great job!”  But that was a bit of hyperbole.

I did take take over the controls for a bit, which was kind of strange.

I trained in a Cessna 172, with a steering wheel and foot-rudders that were pretty wide.  But the Cub a had a classic “stick” to steer with, and the rudders were small metal bars.  Also, the Cessna had a tricycle landing gear, while the Cub – as noted – was a taildragger:

The tricycle arrangement has a single nose wheel in the front, and two or more main wheels slightly aft of the center of gravity.  T ricycle gear aircraft are the easiest to take-off, land and taxi, and consequently the configuration is the most widely used on aircraft.

On the other hand, while a taildragger is generally less expensive to manufacture and maintain, it has some disadvantages:  1) It has a “nose-high attitude on the ground,”  2) It’s “susceptible to ground looping,” and 3) it’s “more subject to ‘nose-over’ accidents due to injudicious application of brakes by the pilot.”  (Like the one seen at left.)

But after a while I got the hang of the stick and rudders, and was able to stay pretty much on course.  And did I mention that you have to pretty acrobatic just to get in the dang thing?

On the plus side the view was great, from such a “low and slow” altitude.  And I was able to take some pretty good pictures, from the always-open right window, with camera and cell phone.

Like the picture below, of Starr’s Mill, a “tiny village a few miles south of Peachtree City.”  It’s next to Starr’s Mill Pond, and near the junction of Highways 74 and 85.  “The area is extremely picturesque and makes for a nice drive.”  (But it’s even better seen from about 800 feet up…)

All of which just goes to show that while other people my age are being Grumpy Old Geezers – whining and complaining – I plan to have some fun in the time I have left.

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Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Starr’s Mill, southeast of Peachtree City, seen from about 800 feet up…

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The upper image is courtesy of Battle Of The Bulge Movie Piper Cub – Image Results.  The “nose over” image is courtesy of Nose Over Accidents Airplane – 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.

On “Pirate’s Island,” Alabama…

PIRATES ISLAND, Logan Martin Lake (AL), without the “Jolly Roger” that got my attention…

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Hewitt-Trussville High SchoolI just got back from a graduation at Hewitt-Trussville High School in Trussville, Alabama.  (Great-nephew.)  The ceremony was on Tuesday night, May 22.

Earlier in the day I started off trying to find a place to kayak.  “Lake Purdy” was closest to my hotel, via long and winding back roads.  However, when I got there they’d posted all kind of signs saying, “No private boats, no canoes, no kayaks.”  (Jerks.  They might as well have added, “No having fun, no enjoying nature, this means you idiot!”  Stuff like that.)

So I ended up at an RV camp “slash” boat ramp, at Lakeside Landing, on Logan Martin Lake(A “reservoir located in east central Alabama on the Coosa River.”  I.e., it was formed by a kazillion dams on the Coosa River in the middle of Alabama.)  So fortunately I was able to get in two hours of full-speed kayak-paddling, though I did have to baby my right shoulder a bit, and take several breaks.  (I’d messed up my right shoulder about a month before, but no “rotator cuff problems…”)

So anyway, I normally paddle out an hour, then take an hour to get back to whatever boat ramp I left from.  (Depending on wind, tide and/or current, if I’m kayaking on a river.)  This day I was getting near the one-hour turning-around point when I saw another lakeside RV camp, with what I took to be an American flag waving in the wind.

Then I saw that the flag pole was on a little bitty island, about 100 yards offshore.  (In what looked to be a cluster of drowned-out trees.)  Then I saw that it wasn’t an American flag at all.

It was a “Jolly Roger,” a skull-and-crossbones black flag.  (Which I thought was quite odd, coming up on Memorial Day and all.)  So I ended up paddling around the island, which turned out to be like the photo at the top of the page.  Except, there were no people and no boats tied up to shore.  And of course with the Jolly Roger waving in the breeze.

Then I headed back to the boat ramp.

It had been cloudy and overcast all morning, but on the return trip I could see a line of rain falling right near where I needed to go to get back “home.”  I managed to skirt the rain for a while, but eventually got pretty well soaked. Then it stopped, I got back to the ramp, then got stuck under a patio-like overhang thing with a (closed) concession stand, just as I was about to load up the kayak.  I had to wait there a good 20 minutes, then it slacked off a bit and I loaded up and headed back to the hotel, pretty much “soggy bottomed.”

Anyway, when I got home Wednesday afternoon I Googled “pirate’s island logan martin lake.” And got the pictures the top of the page and below left.  Plus a description from a website, Pirate’s Island – Discover St. Clair.  Turns out it’s a “75 ft.X 50 ft. excluding beach & sandbar” island that the wife of some guy named Regan bought for him years ago:

On the 75 x 50-foot island itself, its palm trees leaning out over the water, the Regans’ family and friends gather around a fire pit, relaxing in chairs of all shapes and sizes.

Logan-Martin-Pirate-IslandThere was also this note:

All are welcome on Pirate’s Island.  It’s a tradition that evolved when a boat load of 10 year olds asked if they needed help on the island.  They helped clean it, and their pay came in hotdogs.

I wish I’d known that.  (The “all are welcome” part.)  I could have stopped and stretched my legs…

Note that neither of these pictures show the black flag waving in the wind that first caught my attention.  And on a totally unrelated note:  This morning – the morning after I got back home – I got a little more into my reading of Liberty’s First Crisis:  Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech.  It told the story of the first real test of the First Amendment:

Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical. So that July … the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time … and the country’s future hung in the balance.

That “extreme piece of legislation” was the Alien and Sedition Act.  Which led John Adams – one of the nation’s Founding Fathers – to write this:  “Mankind will in time discover that unbridled majorities are as tyrannical and cruel as unlimited despots.”

Not that there’s any connection to current events or anything….

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56 figures stand or sit in a room. Five lay papers on a table.

John Adams – at center, “hand on his hip” – and the Declaration of Independence

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The upper image is courtesy of Pirates Island Logan Martin Lake – Image Results (Pinterest).  A side note:  This island is not to be confused with Pirate Island Sea Isle City, in New Jersey.

Re:  “Lake Purdy.”  See Lake Purdy – Let’s Go Fishing – Official Site 

No private boats are allowed on Lake Purdy.  (Including NO Kayaks)  2. Participants can use their own trolling motors or outboards up to 10 horsepower.  3. All boats must have regulation running lights which can be purchased at the Lake Purdy store.  4. Boats must fish at least 100 feet away from another boat.

So once again I say, “Jerks!”

Re:  “Soggy bottomed.”  See O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Wikipedia.  “The Soggy Bottom Boys is the musical group that the main characters form to serve as accompaniment for the film.  The name is in homage to the Foggy Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band led by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs…”

Re:  The quote from The Misfits Who Saved Free Speech is on page 20 of the 2015 Atlantic Monthly Press edition.  A review added this:  “Americans refused to let their freedoms be so easily dismissed: they penned fiery editorials, signed petitions, and raised ‘liberty poles…’”

The lower image is courtesy of John Adams – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Trumbull’s ‘Declaration of Independence‘ – committee presents draft to Congress.  Adams stands at center with his hand on his hip.”  Another side note:  “Adams had privately criticized Thomas Paine‘s 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, saying that the author had ‘a better hand at pulling down than building.'”

So again, “Not that there’s any connection to current events or anything…

Are we trying another “Noble Experiment?”

Maybe Americans voted for Prohibition – in 1920 – thinking,  What have we got to lose???”

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Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown early Wednesday.I first drafted this post just after Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  Here’s the opening line:

Looking for a breath of fresh air after Election Day – around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning – I found Trump’s presidential election victory means America must hope for the best.

Today – May 3, 2018 – I just re-read that article, and it was most interesting.

And speaking of November 8, 2016, it seemed to me then – and even more so now – that Trump’s election was and is an “experiment.”  An experiment in electing a man totally unqualified by training, experience or temperament to be Leader of the Free World.

That in turn led me to an earlier such experiment in our history.  (Which, as it turned out, failed.)  In that experiment, American voters tried to outlaw drinking.  (As in the drinking of alcoholic beverages.)  See The Prohibition Experiment of the 1920’s, which said the period of 13 years when America outlawed liquor “is often referred to as an ‘experiment.’”

Now about that poster at the top of the page:  Back before 1920, America was in the grip of blue laws.  They prohibited – among other things – selling alcohol “on Sundays … under the idea that people should be in church on Sunday morning, or at least not drinking.”  Thus the idea that “every day will be Sunday” was depressing to many Americans.  See Songs about Prohibition Expressed Opposition & Occasional Support, which included the “Prohibition Blues:”

‘Scuse me while I shed a tear,
For good old whiskey, gin and beer.
Goodbye forever, Goodbye forever.
Ah got de Prohibition, Prohibition, Prohibition blues.

And speaking of “strange bedfellows,” one of the strongest supporters of Prohibition was the Ku Klux Klan, as shown at left.  (Not that there’s any connection to current events or anything…)

So anyway, the Prohibition Experiment article said that word alone – experiment – “implies that it was a futile period within America’s history.”  As to the reasons, see U.S. Prohibition – Wikipedia:

In a backlash to the emerging reality of a changing American demographic, many prohibitionists subscribed to the doctrine of nativism, in which they endorsed the notion that America was made great as a result of its white Anglo-Saxon ancestry.  This belief fostered resentments towards urban immigrant communities…

Which sounded eerily similar somehow…

As to nativism, see Lonely and unhappy people elected Donald Trump:  “We know that racism, nativism and white victimology were crucial motivations for Trump’s voters.  We [also] know that white identity politics disguised as anger … propelled Trump’s victory.”

But the triumph of nativism – at least in terms of Prohibition – was short-lived.  It was short-lived because of two traits inherent in the American character:  We are creative, and we hate being told what to do by “higher ups.”  (Especially higher-ups in the federal government.) 

So here’s how some Americans got around the “orders from above” during Prohibition:

Making alcohol at home was very common during Prohibition.  Stores sold grape concentrate with warning labels that listed the steps that should be avoided to prevent the juice from fermenting into wine…  The grape concentrate was sold with a warning: “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.”

You have to love a country where that happens.  (See too Irony, a “statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean something different from, or the opposite of, what is written literally.”)

And as to the “noble” part of the post-title, see Prohibition: America’s failed “noble experiment” – CBS News.  (“Prohibition was the so-called ‘noble experiment’ which had some rather ignoble consequences.”)  The article was based in large part on the book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.  And asked why he loved writing about Prohibition, author Daniel Okrent said:

“It’s the answer to that question, how the hell did that happen?” 

How did it happen, indeed.  Prohibition did happen, but then we wised up.

So one point of this post is that Americans are industrious, creative and adaptive.  That is, we generally learn from our mistakes.  All of which means that anything really weird that “The Donald” tries to do will likely be leavened – as in an “altering or transforming influence” – by the very characteristics of American democracy that Donald Trump seems to loathe.  (Including but not limited to the ideas of a free press and that we are a nation of laws, not men.)  

And there’s yet another bright note:

Thanks to the 22d Amendment. this “experiment” won’t last 13 years…

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Prohibition Ends Celebrate Poster by Jon Neidert. All posters are professionally printed, packaged, and shipped within 3 - 4 business days. Choose from multiple sizes and hundreds of frame and mat options.

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The upper image is courtesy of Prohibition in the U.S. – Wikipedia.  The caption to the poster shown:  “Every Day Will Be Sunday When the Town Goes Dry (1918–1919).  Wikipedia added this:

Prohibition represented a conflict between urban and rural values emerging in the United States.  Given the mass influx of migrants to the urban centers of the United States, many individuals within the prohibition movement associated the crime and morally corrupt behavior of American cities with their large, immigrant populations.

Which also sounds eerily familiar…  For another take, see What we didn’t know about Trump on Election Day 2016. (May 2, 2018.)

Re:  “Our” president as Leader of the Free World.  But see Merkel is now the leader of the free world.

Re:  The KKK and Prohibition.  See Wikipedia, and The KKK Supported Prohibition and Defended It.  The “KKK” image courtesy of Prohibition in the U.S. – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Defender Of The 18th Amendment.  From Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty published by the Pillar of Fire Church.”

Re:  Irony.  See Irony – Wikipedia and/or irony – Wiktionary

Re:  Trump’s campaign promises.  See Donald Trump’s top 10 campaign promises | PolitiFact.

The “Happy Days” image is courtesy of Happy Days Are Here Again 1932 Convention – Image Results“pinimg.com … eddfe33922d14ea84e130–prohibition-ends-canvas-prints.jpg.”

See also the lower image at Happy Days Are Here Again … Image Results“pinimg.com … eddfe33922d14ea84e130–prohibition-ends-canvas-prints.jpg.”

“Oh, but for an hour” … of ALMOST ANYBODY!

Oh, but for an hour” … of a president who doesn’t just “curse the stupid darkness!

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Two years ago – on April 4, 2016 – I posted On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”  The post had over 2,000 words, while the “ideal” word-count for a blog post is half that.  (1,000 words or less.*)   That post in turn was a review of June 2015’s “Great politicians sell hope.”

That post came in just under 1,800 words.

Since then I’ve tried to shorten my posts.  That’s under the theory that the average blog-reader has the “attention span of a gerbil.”  So here’s a short-and-sweet version of those longer, long-ago posts.

To begin with, Dick the Butcher was a character in William Shakespeare‘s play, Henry The Sixth, Part 2.  (Who was in turn “a killer as evil as his name implies.”)  He’s the guy who famously said:

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers…

To that I responded:  The real reason Americans don’t like lawyers – or politicians for that matter – is that they “accurately reflect our own dark side.”  Thus my thought was that the better rule would be:  “The first thing we do is kill all the clients!

The problem with lawyers is – after all – that they’re only doing what their clients want them to do…  Which seems pretty much true of politicians as well.

But the general tenor of both “Dick the Butcher” and “Great politicians” was more positive.

Or at least it was to the point of reminiscing, back to a time when political arch-enemies -like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill – could and did sup with each other.  And this was true even though they were political arch-enemies, but not when the day’s work was done. 

(In other words, we didn’t have all the political hostility so prevalent these days.)

030618 - Justice Bush on Trump Comparison-picWhich led to this thought:  Donald Trump has done one thing positive.  He’s made  real politicians look better and  better.  (See George W. Bush Reportedly Sounds Off On Trump: ‘Sorta Makes Me Look Pretty Good.’)  Which was pretty much the point of  “Great politicians.”

That post noted that our best presidents – including JFK and Ronald Reagan – were able to “sell themselves” by giving Americans some hope for the future.  It also noted that maybe today’s current crop of nasty, negative politicians simply reflect the nasty, negative voters who make up way too large a part of our population.  

(“The first thing we do is kill all the voters!”)

Which brings us to the idea that it’s better to light a single candle than curse the darkness (See also Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness.) 

The quote itself is “often misattributed,” generally to Eleanor Roosevelt or “claimed to be an ancient Chinese proverb.”  But in 1960 John F. Kennedy alluded to the quote in his acceptance speech, after receiving the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party:

We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us thru that darkness to a safe and sane future.

(“Oh, for a safe and sane future…”)  Which brings up the sentiment alluded to in the post-title.

It was first noted in “Oh, for an hour of Truman.”  (From April 2015.)  That post pointed out that the first “Oh, for an hour” harkened back to Andrew Jackson.   And that sentiment was said between the time Abraham Lincoln was elected and when he actually took office.  (On March 4, 1861, not the January 20th swearing-in day of today.  I.e., some 118 days after the election.) 

So anyway, that sentiment was expressed by Democrats, members of the incumbent president’s own party.  (That incumbent president was James Buchanan.  And, “Do you see the irony?)  So here’s the quote on the quote, from “Oh, for an hour of Truman:”

Lincoln found himself armed with nothing but words to stop the South from seceding before he could even take office…   President James Buchanan, nearing 70 … looked at the Constitution and saw his hands being tied by a lack of specific instruction.  The cry went up from frustrated members of his own party: “Oh, but for an hour of Jackson!

Which is a sentiment I find myself alluding to myself, more and more these days.  But now I’m up to about 1,300 words for this post, so it’s time to wrap things up.  (Keeping in mind the average blog-reader’s “attention span of a gerbil.”  And I wonder if Moses had a similar problem?)

One point of “An hour of Truman” was that Harry was open-minded.  (“Willing to listen to ‘what the other fella has to say.’”)  Another was that he was an avid student of history.  As he said:

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know…   [G]o back to old Hammurabi, the Babyonian emperor…   Why, he had laws that covered everything, adultery and murder and divorce, everything…  Those people had the same problems as we have now.  Men don’t change.

Which is probably true.  (Sometimes unfortunately so.)  And Harry also used to say, “The buck stops here.”  But it seems we now have a president better known for passing the buck(Attributing to “another person or group one’s own responsibility.”)  Which leads us back to:

Oh, but for an hour of Truman (or almost anybody else)…

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President Harry Truman, and the sign he made famous…

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For the upper image I Googled “peanuts cartoon you stupid darkness.”  I found the featured image under Peanuts Cartoon You Stupid Darkness – Image Results, and specifically at and courtesy of Beings Akin.wordpress.com.  See also “You stupid darkness!” and 29 other Peanuts quotes for everyday use.”  It shows the “stupid darkness” cartoon in strip form, rather than “two-tiered.” 

Re: Ideal length of blog posts.  See How long should a post be … YoastWhat is the Ideal Word Count for the Perfect Blog Post?, and/or Blog Post Word Count: Is There a Magical Number?

The Reagan-Kennedy image is courtesy of www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/08/senator_ted_kennedy. The caption:  “Senator Edward Kennedy talks with President Ronald Reagan, left, on June 24, 1985, as they look over an American Eagle that graced President John F. Kennedy’s desk during a fund raising event for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at McLean, Virginia.  (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi).” 

The “W … real politicians” image is courtesy of the Washington Examiner’s April 11, 2018 article:  George W. Bush: Trump ‘makes me look pretty good.’

Re  Passing the buck.  One theory says the term came from poker.  Or consider this:

Another less common but arguably less fanciful attribution is to the French expression bouc émissaire, meaning “scapegoat,” whereby passing the bouc is equivalent to passing the blame or onus.  The terms bouc émissaire and scapegoat both originate from an Old Testament (Lev. 16:6–10) reference to an animal that was ritually made to carry the burden of sins, after which the “buck” was sent or “passed” into the wilderness to expiate them.  

Which sound more like our current “president…”  

The lower image is courtesy of Everyone Is Butchering ‘the Buck Stops Here,’ which said the phrase did not mean a president can be blamed for everything bad that happens on his watch, as used today.  Instead it was aimed at “Monday morning quarterbacking” (also known as “whining“): 

“You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over.  But when the decision is up before you – and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ – the decision has to be made.”