Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

This time last year – 11/8 and 11/13/16

From last November 13:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

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

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:

It’s mid-November, and so it’s time to start taking stock of the year just past.  (And what a year it’s been!)  Which brings up “last year at this time.”  Specifically, two posts from this time last year:  Trump made me a Contrarian,* and “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Published November 8 and 13, 2016, respectively.)  The “Chocolates” post noted a prediction that – having been elected – Trump would be impeached.  But not by Democrats, by Republicans:

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

That post also asked if Donald Trump would be “the new Simon Legree” – as noted in the Classic Comics image above left – but that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether.

A man is at the center of the image smiling into the camera. He is sitting on a blue crate and has his hands resting on his legs.The “box of chocolates” post further discussed my being turned into a Contrarian – defined in part as a “moderate with a ‘tude” – both by the election itself and the uncertainty as to what kind of president Trump would turn out to be.  And that brings up what Tom Hanks meant when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates:”

When you open a box of chocolates, there is a variety of flavors available.  Problem is, since they are covered in chocolate, you can’t really tell what any given piece of chocolate is going to taste like…  The real lesson:  you take what life gives you and you learn to deal with it, because – as they say – that’s life.

I wondered if Trump might “evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.”  I also wondered if “Showman Donald Trump” had actually played his “far-right conservative” supporters “like a piano.”  And finally, I wondered if – given “Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions” – he would “eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

It seems the jury is still out on those questions.  (At least to some people.) 

But no matter:  I resolved in the “box of chocolates” post that I would “be a cheerful Contrarian.”  Which brings up the Trump made me a Contrarian post.  I published that on the night of last year’s election – and before the final results came in.

I started off by noting that I used to be all “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!”

However, when dealing with people like Trump supporters, that “moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over.”  (In the sense of hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.)

And that’s because they “use the 8-track tape mode of political discourse:”

The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped.  You never got to the end.  They used a “continuous loop” system, which is why they didn’t have a rewind option.  As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.  The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again.

Which I thought was much like “trying to have a meaningful conversation” with a Trumpster.  That led to one definition of Contrarian as a former moderate who has to “take a position directly opposite the person we’re talking to just to get a &^%$ word in edge-wise!”

You could also refer to it as having to “out-wacko the wackos.”  And that’s turning out to be a skill that we former “moderates” are definitely going to need in the years ahead.

The good news is that having to “out-wacko the wackos” isn’t all that difficult, and can be fun.  (In a weird, other-worldly sense.)  Which is another way of saying that being a Contrarian means learning how to make a snappy comeback.  But because Trumpsters tend to make the same arguments over and over again, your “moderate” or “Contrarian” snappy comebacks don’t have to be all that snappy.  “You can plan your snappy comebacks way ahead of time.”

Which translates to:  “Bless those Trumpsters and their 8-track political arguments…” 

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“Factory optional 8-track stereo player … between the center console and dash…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  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.’”  (Some seven years before the movie.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the “Contrarian” post, the full title of the post for November 8, 2016, was ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.”  “Mi Dulce” was my pet name for the woman I was dating at the time.  However, that relationship is now defunct, for reasons possibly including her status as a Trumpster, then and since.

The “Legree” image is courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  The article added:  “It is unclear if Legree is based on any actual individuals.  Reports surfaced after the 1870s that [Harriet BeecherStowe had in mind a wealthy cotton and sugar plantation owner named Meredith Calhoun, who settled on the Red River north of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Generally, however, the personal characteristics of Calhoun (‘highly educated and refined’) do not match the uncouthness and brutality of Legree.”  

The “Gump-in-uniform” image is courtesy of Forrest Gump – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Factory optional 8-track stereo player in a 1967 American Motors (AMC) vehicle mounted between the center console and dash.”  The article added:  “The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan.”

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying 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 so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

“Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited

My completed pilgrimage started at Pamplona, at lower right, for miles of hiking and biking…

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Well, we did it.  My brother and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday, October 12.  This was after hiking – and biking – the Camino de Santiago, as shown in the map above.  Along the way I occasionally listened to my iPod Shuffle – to help pass the time – and one of my favorite songs was It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.  Except in my mind I had to change the words to “It’s a long way to Santiago!”

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I did my last post from Puente La Reina, in Spain – “about eight miles shy of León” – on October 3, 2017.  For reasons including that I only had my tablet, the post was extremely primitive.  But it did note that – upon reaching Leon – “we will have hiked 250 miles from Pamplona, in the 21 days since we left on September 13.*”  Here’s what I also noted:

The first 10 days after [Pamplona] – on the hike – were pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough.  But the day off in Burgos helped a lot.  And since then we’ve made good progress.  Still, we had to implement a Plan B, which involves renting bikes in Leon and cycling the remaining 194 miles.

Image may contain: sky and outdoorAnd speaking of Burgos, here’s a picture of the city’s famous cathedral.  It shows my fellow traveller, and was taken on the morning of September 26, on the way out of town.  (That took over an hour, hiking.)

To make a long story short, we covered the last 195 miles or so in seven days, riding mountain bikes, complete with panniers on the back.  In other words, during the first two-thirds of the trip we averaged 12  miles a day, hiking.  In the last seven days we averaged closer to 28 miles a day.

But in a way that turned out to be simply a variety of Dorothy Parker‘s “different kind of hell.*”  (We just got way too sore again, but in different parts of the body.)

You can get a better idea from the map at the top of the page.  It took ten days to hike from Pamplona to Burgos, where we too our first day off.  It took another 10 days to reach Leon, where we took our second day off and picked up our pre-ordered bikes.  Then that long section from Leon to Burgos – some 195 miles of the 450 – we covered in seven days.

But not without mishap.  Neither one of us had ridden a bike in 40 or 50 years, so it wasn’t really surprising when my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.*  In the second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”

We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pantleg, 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…

The third major mishap came a mere six kilometers from Santiago, when my rear tire when flat.

We finally got a new tube on and inflated, but then had a time getting the chain back on the derailleur.  I finally flagged down a passing Spanish cyclist.  He helped get that straight, but then – after he peddled his merry way – we found out there were no rear brakes, which posed a problem.  We knew that much of the remaining six kilometers was downhill, and also that if applied too forcefully, using front-only brakes can cause a cyclist to go “ass over teakettle.”

So my brother had us switch bikes, and we both glided – carefully and gingerly – into Santiago.

I’ll be writing on more of these adventures, including the several times I – or we – got Lost in Spain.  But after five weeks in Spain – the last part of which included a nine-hour bus ride from Santiago to Madrid, and a 10-hour flight from Madrid to Atlanta – I can only say, with feeling:

There’s No Place Like Home!!

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There is indeed “no place like home” (especially after a long pilgrimage…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the Routesilverarrow18.blogspot.com.  

The “Tipperary” image is courtesy of It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – Wikipedia.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “the 21 days since we left on September 13:”  We actually reached Leon on October 4. 

Re: Fellow traveller.  Here referring to a person who is “intellectually sympathetic” – in this case, to the crazy idea of spending thousands of dollars and five weeks to hike in a foreign country – as opposed to the term as used in U.S. politics in the 1940s and 1950s.  At that time and place the term was a “pejorative term for a person who was philosophically sympathetic to Communism, yet was not a formal, ‘card-carrying member‘ of the American Communist Party.” 

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

Re:  “Some poor slob’s nice new car.”  City streets in Spain are generally very narrow and difficult to maneuver. 

The “bicycle in a ditch” image is courtesy of Cyclist falls into ditch at opening of new safer bike path …telegraph.co.uk.

The lower image is courtesy http://f3nation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/no-place-like-home.jpg.   See also No Place Like Home – Wikipedia, which noted that – aside from the famous line in the movie Wizard of Oz – the phrase may also refer to “the last line of the 1822 song ‘Home! Sweet Home!,’ words by John Howard Payne and music by Sir Henry Bishop; the source of inspiration for the other references here: ‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,’” and/or “‘(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays,’ a 1954 Christmas song most famously sung by Perry Como.”  For a “live” version, see also There’s No Place Like Home – YouTube.

“Hola! Buen Camino!”

It's_a_Long_Way_to_Tipperary_-_cover_2

I’m now in Puente Villarente, about eight miles shy of Leon.  (In Spain, on the Camino de Santiago.) By the time we get there – tomorrow – we will have hiked 250 miles from Pamplona, in the 21 days since we left on September 13. (We took a day off in Burgos.) Unfortunately my tablet isn’t good for the usual high-quality posts, so for now I’ll try this more-primitive version.

The image above refers to one of the favorite songs on my iPod Shuffle. The one I sneak out every once in a while, “on the march.” But I’ve changed the words to “It’s a long way to Santiago!” (Santiago de Compostela that is.)

IMG_20170912_144540

Here’s a picture from Pamplona, showing two “turistas” in front of a statue commemorating the annual running of the bulls. It seems like an eternity ago.

The first 10 days after that – on the hike – were pretty miserable. My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough. But the day off in Burgos helped a lot. And since then we’ve made good progress. Still, we had to implement a Plan B, which involves renting bikes in Leon and cycling the remaining 194 miles.

But for now we’re happily ensconced in Puente Villarente, a city named for the old Roman bridge shown below.

I’ll try to either update or add some such primitive posts, but if not, I’ll be back home on or about October 17.

IMG_20171003_142757

 

Going back “whence we came…”

I’m going east to explore Spain.  (That’s where Columbus – center – started west to explore us…)

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Within 48 hours I’ll be winging my way from Atlanta to Madrid (As in Spain, and as indicated in Training for the Camino.)  From there I’ll be taking a train to Pamplonafrom whence my brother and I will hike 450 miles in 30 days, on the Camino de Santiago.  Which brings up the whole “whence we came” thing.  (As illustrated at right, and in the title of this post.)

That phrase is attributed – variously – to John F. KennedyJames Baldwin, and Jesus.

Jesus said – in the King James Version of John 8:14 – “I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.”  John F. Kennedy put it this way:  “When we go back to the sea … we are going back from whence we came.”  And James Baldwin said, “If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

Which pretty much sums up the whole idea of going on a pilgrimage.  As in – for example – going for a 450-mile hike on the Camino de Santiago. (As shown at left, in an illustration from a far earlier time.)

Or, as Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI put it:

To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history.  To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself…  Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage [for example] to Compostela, which, associated with the memory of Saint James, has welcomed pilgrims from throughout the world who desire to strengthen their spirit with the Apostle’s witness of faith and love.

The point of all this being that – in going to Spain – I’ll be going back to the place where the whole American Saga really began.  (As illustrated in the painting at the top of the page.)  That saga – the American Journey – began when one Chris Columbus met “Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.”  I.e., back “whence we all came.”

Metaphorically or otherwise…

But there is one problem.  In preparing for the trip, I found out that I know very little about Spain as it is today.  For example, I didn’t know that Spain is now both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.  (One of “19 full democracies in the world.”)

I also didn’t know about the Iberian Wolf – at right – but there’s more on that later.

More to the point, I didn’t have much of an idea of what kind of sections or provinces of Spain that I’d be hiking through.

But I know now – through the magic of Googling – that my portion of the 450-mile Camino-hike will go through the four most-northerly regions of Spain:  NavarraLa RiojaCastilla y Leon, and Galicia.

(My brother will be hiking further:  Over the Pyrenees – from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France – and meeting up with me in Pamplona.  So he’ll do 500 miles and I’ll do 450 miles.  But personally I had enough mountain hiking last August.  See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Parts One  and Two.)

So anyway, the capital of the first province on our mutual journey – Navarra (Navarre) – is Pamplona.  This – it is said – is “a quiet and pleasant city … world-famous for the Running of Bulls which form part of its most famous festival, Sanfermines, in July.”  (And as immortalized in The Sun Also Rises, the 1926 novel by American author Ernest Hemingway.)

Wine with the La Rioja Designation of Origin © La Rioja TurismoThe La Rioja region also has one province, of the same name.   The “smallest of Spain’s Autonomous Communities,” the first thing that comes to mind for La Rioja is “probably the wine bearing the same name.”  (Memo to self:  Do more research on this topic.)  

Along the Way of Saint James there are monumental towns of great beauty lined up:  Calahorra, Arnedo, San Millan de la Cogolla,Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and Logroño, founded already by Romans and today the region’s capital.

The next region – Castilla y Leon – is not only the largest region of Spain, it’s also “the largest region of all the European Union.”  And it’s actually two regions in one:  “Castilla and Leon came together in 1983, when the regions of Castilla la Vieja and Leon were united.”

The 450-mile hike ends in Galicia, the region “known in Spain as the ‘land of the 1000 rivers.'”  It has four provinces:  Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra and A Coruña.  The capital of the latter province is – as we well know by now  – Santiago de Compostela.  And that’s the “final destination of the famous pilgimage way” and “certainly among Spain’s most beautiful cities.”

In closing this post, I’m not sure when I’ll get to do another one before I get home  That is, I’m not sure how safe, secure and user-friendly are the “public” wi-fi connections in Spain.

But in the meantime, consider the following little tidbits of information:

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The region of Spain where my brother and I will be hiking…

The “approximate geographical range of the Iberian wolf…” 

IberianWolf-Map.png

And finally, an “Alpha male Iberian wolf with blood stains in its snout:”

Just Sayin’!

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The upper image is courtesy of Spain – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Christopher Columbus meets Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in the Alhambra.”

Re:  “Whence.”  The Kennedy-quote image is courtesy of To sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we camequotefancy.com.  Kennedy made the comments at the “Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews,” on September 14, 1962.  Here’s the full quote:

I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea.  And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.  We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.

Re:  “American Journey.”  See also The American Journey: A History of the United States, the text book, not to be confused with American Journey, the “six-part orchestral composition” composed by John Williams and “commissioned by U.S. President Bill Clinton to accompany a multimedia presentation titled ‘The Unfinished Journey’ directed by Steven Spielberg for the 2000 ‘Millennium‘ celebrations.”

Re:  “Back ‘whence we all came.'”  Yeah, I know, the Vikings Beat Columbus to America, but they didn’t stick around very long.  See Norse colonization of North America – Wikipedia:  

The Norse colony in Greenland lasted for almost 500 years.  Continental North American settlements were small and did not develop into permanent colonies.  While voyages, for example to collect timber, are likely to have occurred for some time, there is no evidence of any lasting Norse settlements on mainland North America.

Information on the “northerly regions of Spain” was gleaned from Regions of SPAIN – All about Spain.

The “wolf” image is also courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Spain.  The caption, “Iberian Wolf.”  The caption for that link indicates that the Iberian Wolf is “a subspecies of grey wolf that inhabits the forest and plains of northern Portugal and northwestern Spain.  The 2003 census estimated the total Iberian population to be 2,000 wolves.”  The article further indicated that “Iberian wolf lives in small packs.  It is considered to be beneficial because it keeps the population of wild boar stable, thus allowing some respite to the endangered capercaillie populations which suffers greatly from boar predation.  It also eats rabbitsroe deerred deeribexes and even small carnivores and fish.  In some places it eats domestic animals such as sheep and dogs.”

The “La Rioja” image is courtesy of Tourism in La Rioja (Province) in Spain | Visit La Rioja.  The caption:  “Wine with the La Rioja Designation of Origin © La Rioja Turismo.”

Note again that the map above – showing the “Approximate geographical range of the Iberian wolf” – roughly coincides to where I’ll be hiking.  See e.g. the top map in Training for the Camino.

Also, note that the idea of Columbus starting “west to explore us” is a bit of Artistic License.

Training for the Camino

My projected route will start at Pamplona, at the lower right, for some 450 miles of hiking…

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Some three weeks from now I’ll be winging my way from Atlanta to Madrid.*  (As in Spain.)  I’ll arrive at 8:30 Saturday morning, after an all-night flight.  (And no doubt suffering from jet lag.)

The bad news?  “Travelling east causes more problems than travelling west because the body clock has to be advanced, which is more difficult.”  Also, if you cross six time zones – like I’ll be doing – “the body will typically adjust to this time change in three to five days.”  By which time I’m supposed to be in Pamplona, getting ready to hike 450 miles, in 30 days, on the Camino de Santiago.

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And now for some background:  Last year at this time I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.  I was also training for a canoe trip.  That canoe trip came after the Chilkoot-Trail hike, and entailed my brother and I paddling 440 miles “down” the Yukon River,* in Canada.

I described those adventures in On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Part 2, and in “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (As metaphorically illustrated at right.)

The “Chilkoot” was pretty much a nightmare.  For one thing, it’s not a trail at all.  It’s more like one big pile of &^%#$ rocks after another.  But I’m glad I did it.

I’m also glad my brother and I canoe-paddled 440 miles “down” the Yukon River, from Whitehorse  to Dawson City.  (For reasons including but not limited to the “naked lady” sighting described in my prior posts.)  So now I’m ready for a new adventure.

For one thing, between last summer and now we’ve had a contentious presidential election, and an even more contentious beginning-of-the-Trump Administration.  So my new adventure in Spain is a chance to get away from it all.  Then too, I’ve tried to keep pace with all the resulting mayhem since last August, but to no avail.  (For one thing I was going to do a post on a “Bizarro Trump.”  But that’s been impossible because it’s hard to tell the Bizarro version from the real thing.)  So I’ve decided to focus on some things I can actually have an impact on.

Things like my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.  (Where I’ll meet up my brother in Pamplona, but not during the “running of the bulls, as seen at left.)

And incidentally, the map at the top of the page is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT.  That post described a 14-day trip on the Camino, starting at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.  But that guy and his travel-buddy covered the 500 miles on bicycles, not on foot.  (Though traveling on bikes could be a fallback position for us:  “an alternative course of action that may be taken if the original plan fails.”)

Other sites with good advice include Preparing for the Camino and Training for the Camino.

Then there’s Camino de Santiago – Helping pilgrims since 2004, and – for some “devil’s advocate” feedback – a post called 10 Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks.

Among the reasons the Camino “sucks:” Car traffic within earshot 95% of the time, monotonous scenery and unfriendly commercialism.  But apparently the biggest reason:

It’s hard to take a piss.  There’s little privacy. Cars and pilgrims are constantly passing you by.  After 3 p.m. most pilgrims retire to their albergues (huts) and you’ll get more privacy to do your business.  Nevertheless, at 7 p.m. one jogger still managed to catch me with my pants down.  [Emphasis in original.]

13 Dead Horse GulchWhich could be a personal problem.  And for that matter there was also very little privacy on the Chilkoot Trail.

But as I described the situation in The Chilkoot – Part 1, that was more of a problem of “cursing my fate” rather than answering a call of nature.  (See the notes…)

Then too, I ran into a similar problem kayaking into the Okefenokee Swamp – twice – for overnight camping trips.  But in that case it was a matter of no solid ground – in the swamp – for you to get out and stand up.  (For whatever reason.)

But we were talking about “training for the Camino.”  For starters, there’s a boatload of paperwork:  Making sure your passport is up-to-date, and has at least three months left after your projected departure date.  (Departure back home from Spain that is.)  Getting your pilgrim’s “credencial.”  Booking your air line flight.  Getting travel insurance.  Getting your pack ready, and making sure it weighs no more than 10% of your body weight.  (For me, 16 pounds.)

You could get all the necessary prep-info from the websites noted above, or other informative sites. Or, you could have an ex-Marine Sgt. Rock-type older brother who’s done the research already.

And sent a number of informative emails, plus a 4-page single-spaced “to-do list” to check before you leave.  (Not to mention a note saying, “I hope you’re saving this information I’m passing on…”) 

As to getting ready to hit the trail itself, the hardest part is getting your feet ready.  (Like the hardest part of getting ready to paddle six hours a day for eight days is getting your wrists and hands in shape.)  To that end, I’ve been hiking 12 or more miles a day, once a week, for the last several months.  And making sure my feet are in good enough shape the next morning to hike another five or six hours.  And for the past several weeks I’ve been doing my weekly hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail, near F.D. Roosevelt State Park, near Warm Springs, GA.

But there’s a big difference.  The Pine Mountain Trail is – I hope – far more rugged than the Camino.  Lots of roots, boulders, sheer drop-offs and slippery-rock streams to cross.  On the other hand the Camino seems to be more smooth and level, or asphalt-paved.

Naturally I’ll be doing a post-mortem in this blog, once I get home.  So “we” will see if my hike-training preparations were adequate.  But in the meantime it pays to look ahead.  And looking ahead to some time on the weekend of October 14-15 – some seven and a half weeks from now – I hope to catch a glimpse of of our final destination, shown below.  That would be Santiago de Compostela, whether the “Pico Sacro*” is in the background or foreground.

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“A partial view of Santiago de Compostela, with the Pico Sacro in the background…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the Routesilverarrow18.blogspot.com.  

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “from Atlanta to Madrid:” The image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Spain, including a link to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  The caption indicated the words “No pasaran” translate to “They shall not pass.”  The caption further noted a sub-title on the banner, that “Madrid will be the graveyard of fascism.”  And finally, the caption noted that “Fascism was on rise in Europe during Spanish Civil War,” which somehow seemed appropriate…

Also, re:  “‘down’ the Yukon River.”  As explained in the “naked lady” post, the Yukon flows north, like the Nile River but unlike most other rivers in the world.  Thus the anomaly of saying you are paddling “down” a river, but also paddling northward, which most people refer to as “up.”  See The Straight Dope: On maps, why is north always up?

Re:  “Cursing my fate.”  See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1:

What with my lack of depth perception, going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers. Every step was sheer torture…  I had just taken one of many missteps – especially bad that day – and let loose a string of pungent epithets. Then I looked behind me and there – climbing “personfully” behind me – was [a] sweet young [lady hiker].  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”

Also re:  The Camino.  See also Camino de Santiago – Wikipedia.

The image to the right of the paragraph “But as I described the situation,” shows “Dead Horse Trail,” so named for the number of horses who died on White Pass, the only alternative route to the Klondike gold fields in the 1898 gold rush.  As to which route was better – White Pass or the Chilkoot Trail –  “a pioneer – Mont Hawthorne – said there really was no choice:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”  

The “Sgt. Rock” image is courtesy of Sgt Rock Wallpapernocturnals.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Santiago de Compostela – Wikipedia.  As to “Pico Sacro,” see Pico Sacro | Web Oficial de Turismo de Santiago de Compostela, which added these points:

The history of the municipality of Boqueixón is closely linked to its main geographic landmark and greatest natural and cultural resource:  Pico Sacro, one of Galicia’s most mythical and best-known mountains.

Pico Sacro’s silhouette is a scenic point of reference in a wide-ranging area.

Pico Sacro is the source of countless legends and traditional tales.  The region’s inhabitants venerated the mountain before and after the arrival of Christianity, and it plays an essential role in the myth regarding the transfer of the Apostle James’ body.  It has a peculiar shape formed by rocks of crystallized quartz and a height of 533 metres above sea level.

“Let’s hear it for lawyers!”

atticus finch

Atticus Finch:  Old school lawyer who now might say “First thing we do, let’s kill all the clients…“

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Students at Middlebury College shouted down Charles Murray rather than listen to his controversial ideas when he came to speak at their campus in MarchI just read a great piece in the July 13 issue of Time magazine, Free Speech on Campus.

It noted there are some college campuses where a robust freedom of speech still exists.  That is, there are notable exceptions to those college campuses – especially lately – where demonstrations disrupt controversial speakers (As show at left.)

And what are those campuses with freedom of speech still?  They’re called law schools:

 Law school conditions you to know the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness.  That’s why lawyers know how to go to war without turning the other side into an enemy.  People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it’s time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.

Put another way, law schools teach people – and hopefully lawyers as a profession – how to zealously argue the merits of an issue without demonizing their opponentsname calling, or character assassination.  And that’s something we could use in this era of polarized politics.  That is, in this time where “moderate voices often lose power and influence.”

Charles Murray Speaking at FreedomFest.jpegThe article noted the telling example of Charles Murray, shown at right.  He’s a conservative political scientist who argued – for example – “that all social welfare programs cannot be successful and should ultimately be eliminated altogether.”

When he tried to speak at Middlebury College last March 2, he got shouted down.  Rather than listen to his controversial ideas, students chanted “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away” and “Your message is hatred.  We cannot tolerate it.”

Compare that with Murray’s reception at Yale Law School, where Murray spoke “twice during the past few years,” with a different reception:

Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work.  But he spoke without interruption.  That’s exactly how a university is supposed to work…   People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it’s time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.  (E.A.)

And speaking of lawyer jokes:  That brings up Dick the Butcher, a character in Shakespeare‘s not-so-well-known play, Henry The Sixth, Part 2 He’s the character who famously said, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  (The quote is more famous than the play…)

I wrote about Dick the Butcher in On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”  That post from April 2016 noted a number of things about that infamous quote.  But the main point was that maybe people don’t like either lawyers or politicians mostly because they are an accurate reflection of themselves.  (As shown at left;  “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”)

That is, maybe there are too many nasty-bastard lawyers and politicians precisely because there are too many nasty-bastard clients – and voters – who hire them.  “The problem with lawyers is – after all – that they’re only doing what their clients want them to do.”

Which leads to my better quote:  The first thing we should do is, let’s kill all the clients.”  

Or the nasty-bastard voters who keep electing nasty-bastard politicians to represent them.

But the better course would be to bring back respect for the “professionalism” shown by old school lawyers and politicians.  (The term old school is “commonly used to suggest a high regard for something that has been shown to have lasting value or quality.”)  In this case, it could refer to the kind of professionalism shown by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy.

For example, even though they were political arch-enemies, Kennedy admired Reagan:

He [Reagan]’s absolutely professional.  When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone.  He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do…   He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself…   He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it.  There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth.  And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.

Having a personal philosophy and fighting for it with consistency and continuity.  And with professionalism.  What a great idea!  Which brings us back to Atticus Finch.

Even though he’s a fictional character, one law-school professor wrote that “the most influential textbook from which he taught was To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Another wrote that “Atticus has become something of a folk hero in legal circles.”  And no small wonder:

The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events…  One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure.

It is true that Atticus Finch is a fictional character.  And it’s also true that far too many lawyers fail to live up to the standard of “defending the oppressed” that he set.  But the main truth is that lawyers as a whole have made him the kind of folk hero they try to imitate.  And they are willing to listen to and “engage” with people they disagree with, sometimes vehemently.

People like Charles Murray.  Yale law students disagreed with him, some vehemently.  But they were willing to hear him out, to listen to him and engage with him.  And people like Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy, political arch-rivals who could “fund-raise” together, back in 1985.

So as I noted in closing the post on Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher:”

Now that’s what I would call True Conservativism

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Two lawyer-like political rivals – in the old days when they could “sup with their enemies…”

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The upper image is courtesy of gospelcoalition.org/blogs … atticus finch.  And as to Atticus Finch – the fictional lawyer in Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird – a Michigan Law Review article said “No real-life lawyer has done more for the self-image or public perception of the legal profession.”

The full title of the Time article, Yale Law School Dean: Free Speech on Campus | Time.com.  For an opposing point of view, see No, Law School Didn’t Teach Us to ‘Engage’ With Racists, and Yale Students Demolish A Dean’s Weak Argument | Above the Law:

Confronting racism is difficult, but essential, work.  Promoting civility can undermine this work by policing the tone and speech of those who are oppressed, diverting our attention away from efforts to combat ongoing white supremacy.

Re:  The True Conservativism link:  The article linked-to began by saying that in the last 50 years “the word conservative has undergone diverse changes in meaning and value…  in short, a word reduced in quality of character and integrity.”   The writer –  – added this:

…our conservatism is ultimately the moral exemplification of our conservatorship; that the conservative as conservator guards against violations of our reverent traditions and legacy, and is, in fine, a preserver, a keeper, a custodian of sacred things and signs and texts…

All of which led me to the home page for The Imaginative Conservative.  (Which to some people may seem a contradiction in terms.)  The key difference:  That site offers a “conservatism of hope:”

Far too often, those who call themselves conservative offer nothing in the realm of art, literature, or theology, choosing instead to adopt the petty practices of modern American politics, interrupting questioners and hurling epithets at those who dare to disagree with them.  In addition, an essential part of true conservatism … is a commitment to liberal learning.  [“Be still, my beating heart…”]

Another point of view:  “Moderation is the true conservatism.”  See for example, A Conservative’s Case for Moderation | RealClearPolitics.

The lower 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).”  

No Donald, you CAN’T pardon yourself…

“Are you telling me that President Donald Trump can’t just up and pardon himself?”

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There’s been a lot of hubbub lately about whether President Donald Trump can pardon himself.

The short answer?  No, he can’t.*

Why?  The simple answer:  The idea that a sitting president could murder someone – in cold blood – and then blithely pardon himself,* is patently absurd.  The idea is so patently absurd that the Founding Fathers would never have dreamed that a future president would be so full of himself that he would even think of that idea, let alone implement it.

Which brings up the “legal theory in American courts” known as the absurdity doctrine:

The absurdity doctrine is a legal theory in American courts.  One type … called “evaluative absurdity,” arises when a legal provision, despite appropriate spelling and grammar, “makes no substantive sense.”  An example would be a statute that mistakenly provided for a winning rather than losing party to pay the other side’s reasonable attorney’s fees.

 (Emphasis added.)   Thus the Absurdity Doctrine would keep a court of law – a judge – from enforcing a statute that rewarded a losing party in a court case.  (By awarding that party attorney’s fees.)  However – according to Donald Trump – the Absurdity Doctrine would not keep him from committing murder – or treason – and then pardoning himself.

Then there’s the long-established legal rule that “no man can be a judge in his own case.”

Natreview.jpgIn fact, it’s so old that it goes back to the original Latin:  “Nemo iudex in causa sua.”  And even the conservative National Review – as seen at right – has called it that “familiar legal principle,” to wit:  That judges must “remove themselves from cases where their own interest is at stake or their bias will come into play.”

(Or put another way, what would Donald Trump’s ardent supporters have said if Bill Clinton had tried to pardon himself?)

Then there is the fundamental tenet of American law that all men are created equal.  The phrase has been called the “immortal declaration,'” and also been called the one phrase in the Declaration of Independence “with the greatest ‘continuing importance.'”

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch Official Portrait.jpgThen there’s the related idea that no man is above the law.   (It’s also known as the rule of law.)  And that’s a rule of law which at least one Supreme Court justice has vowed to uphold:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch [ – he was confirmed on April 7, 2017 – ] said Tuesday that “no man is above the law” when pressed on whether President Donald Trump could reinstitute torture as a U.S. interrogation method.

So again the comparison:  According to our newest Supreme Court Justice, Donald Trump could not “reinstitute torture,” but according to Trump he could murder someone – or rape a dozen women, or molest a child – and then pardon himself.

Which – finally – brings up the legal doctrine of equality before the law.

That’s an idea that goes back to the time of the Bible.  For example Deuteronomy 16:19 holds, “You shall not distort justice;  you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”

EleanorRooseveltHumanRights.pngPut in more modern terms, the principle holds that “each independent human being must be treated equally by the law,” and that “all people are subject to the same laws of justice (due process).”  “Thus, everyone must be treated equally under the law … without privilegediscrimination, or bias.”

And yet in Donald Trump’s world, that phrase would be turned on its head.  To borrow a phrase from George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, The Donald might say, “All Americans are equal before the law, but of course I am way more equal than any other American…*”

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The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  I used the image in the November 13, 2016 post, “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (The caption for that post was, “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”)  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., some seven years before the movie.)

The image to the left of the first, “simple answer” paragraph is courtesy of The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, by Joseph J. Ellis.  The four Founding Fathers pictured on the cover include Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Jay, and James Madison.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “short answer” that Trump can’t pardon himself:  For an opposing view see Yes, Trump can legally pardon himself or his family.

As to the idea that a “sitting president could murder someone – in cold blood – and then blithely pardon himself,” see The Use of Hypothetical Questions as Weapons at Trial:

Hypothetical questions are a vital tool for a trial lawyer.  Without them, we would have more difficulty proving cases, more difficulty disproving opposing theories, and more difficulty convincing juries of the righteousness of our cause.

The point being there would be literally no limit to Trump’s claim of a complete power to pardon.

Re:  Equality before the law.  The Wikipedia article noted the author Anatole France, who said in 1894 that “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”

The image to the right of the paragraph starting “Put in modern terms” is courtesy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights link in the Wikipedia article equality before the law.  Caption:  “Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish language version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” 

Re:  “I am way more equal.”  The actual quote from Animal Farm occurs when the original laws “are abridged to a single phrase:  ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.'”

For a more learned analysis of the issue at hand, see No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so.  Then there’s the article No president can pardon himself:

Here’s some unsolicited advice for President Donald Trump:  Don’t listen to any lawyers who might tell you that you can pardon yourself, or even that it’s a close legal question.  You can’t — and no court is going to rule otherwise.

Or see OPINION | Dershowitz: Can the president pardon himself?  It included the legal tenet that No man is allowed to be a judge in his own case.  That’s from James Madison, in his Federalist 10.

Re:  The National Review on a man judging his own case.  See, Misreading Federalist No. 10

The lower image is courtesy of the web article Attorneys Explain Why Trump Must Be Impeached!  The image was featured in From 11/8/16: “He’ll be impeached within two years…

Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi…

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4329_zps7f7b5ddb.jpg

A mere 10 miles out in the Gulf, off the coast of Mississippi  –  Dawn, November 10, 2014…

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In September I’m flying to Madrid, Spain.  From there I’ll take the train to Pamplona, to meet up with my adventurous brother, Tom.  From that point we’ll both be hiking the Camino de Santiago.  (At left.)  We plan to hike 450 miles in 30 days.

Which brings up the 8-day canoe trip that we two took back in November 2014, “12 miles offshore.”  (I.e., 12  miles off the coast of Mississippi.)  We started out on Lake Pontchartrain, then paddled through the Rigolets, then out into the Gulf of Mexico.

12 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.

We paddled a whole lot during the day.  In one stretch we paddled 17 miles in 11 hours.  Then at night we “primitive camped.”  We primitive camped on places like Half Moon Island and East Ship Island.  (And from time to time we camped on an occasional salt marsh.)

Which naturally brings up the question, Why?   Why would two old geezers – 63 and 69, respectively and at the time – paddle so far out into the realm of sharks and drowning?

http://walkinginfrance.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/Travels1.jpgI still don’t know the full answer, except to say that such adventures are a whole lot of fun once they’re over.  But part of the appeal got spelled out by both John Steinbeck – in Travels with Charley – and Robert Louis Stevenson.  (His Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is at right.)

The sum and substance of it is that there’s something rewarding to doing the unexpected.  There’s something rewarding in paddling 12 miles offshore, at the mercy of the elements, with day’s end promising “naught but a lukewarm meal on a soggy beach,” or a more soggy salt marsh:

But as it turns out, that’s the nature of pilgrimages.   They give us a break from “real life,” from the rat race that consumes so many lives today…  [T]hrough the raw experience of hunger, cold and lack of sleep, “we can quite often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings, especially when compared with ‘the majesty and permanence of God.’”   In short, such a pilgrimage can be “‘one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating’ of personal experiences.”

As Wikipedia noted, such journeys – pilgrimages – can be to a “shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs,” or some other search “of moral or spiritual significance.”  (Wikipedia also noted that one “popular pilgrimage journey is along the Way of St. James to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, in Galicia, Spain,” but that’s a subject for future posts.)  

But perhaps the best answer – at least for people of a certain age – is simply to show that we can still do it.  Or as John Steinbeck said in Travels with Charley, too many men – as they get older – “hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  But that wasn’t his way:

I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage…  If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway.  I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage.  It’s bad theater as well as bad living.

Or to put it simply:  I want to have these adventures before I get too old and decrepity.

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And incidentally, the photo below is another one I took near dawn on November 10, 2014. (That’s the day we did 17 miles in 11 hours, which amounted to some six hours of actual canoeing.)  Also, given the age of the “intrepid canoeists” it behooved us to learn – through “OJT“ – the technique of “siesta at sea.”  Note the calm water that is a necessity for such a siesta when you’re 10 or 12 miles out in the Gulf.  In other words, it pays to pace yourself

In further words, we’ll likely be taking plenty of siestas on the Camino de Santiago.

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November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpg

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The upper image is a photo I took near dawn on the morning of November 10, 2014.  (And incidentally, those are clouds on the horizon, not land.)  That day we got up and broke camp at 3:00 a.m.  We hit the water at 5:00 a.m. and paddled 17 miles in 11 hours, not counting an hour break on Cat Island, before proceeding to West Ship Island.  

For a longer version of this tale, see On canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015.

The “pilgrim” image – to the left of the first paragraph in the main text – is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on the Camino de Santiago.  The caption:  “Way of St. James pilgrims (1568).”

Re:  “Calm water.”  The Gulf waters were so calm because we got up and broke camp at 3:00 in the morning.  Later on in the day – owing to increased wind and the heat of the sun – the waters in the Gulf of Mexico get way more roiled.

Re:  Siestas.  Wikipedia noted that such short naps include the “traditional daytime sleep of Spain,” while in America and other non-Mediterranean cultures the habit has caught on while being referred to as a “power nap.”  The article included the image at left, with the caption:  “A painting of a young woman taking a siesta,” or The hammockGustave Courbet (1844).

July 4th: “God save the Queen?”

“American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate [July 4th] in 1902 Puck cartoon…”

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Walk, Don't Run.jpgWe know the song better as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”  (The “lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831.”)  

But in what was the old country – to most if not all Founding Fathers – the tune was called God Save the Queen.

(In a totally-unrelated side-note, Cary Grant and Jim Hutton sang the first verse – of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee – in the 1966 film “Walk, Don’t Run” – shown at left – “while simultaneously Grant and Samantha Eggar sang ‘God Save the Queen.'”)

There’s more about that incipient dichotomy further below, but first it should be noted that today is July 4th, and that’s better known as Independence Day.

Independence Day [commemorates] the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

To repeat that last part:  What had been 13 American colonies “were no longer part of the British Empire.”  Which is another way of saying that “things had changed,” and that change was exemplified by our singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, not God Save the Queen.

And now a word about Puck, the magazine…

The source of the cartoon at the top of the page – Puck – was the “first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoonscaricatures and political satire of the issues of the day.  It was published from 1871 until 1918.”

Did you get that last?  Political satire!

Which is another way of saying that any real American will always retain his or her sense of humor, up to and including the ability to laugh at himself.  (Or herself.)  And that’s another way of saying that no real American will ever be too thin-skinned to do his job.  (Or hers.)

Not that that observation applies to current events or anything…  

But before getting back on track, here’s a note for those who think emoticons were literally or figuratively “invented yesterday.”  (Or at least only in this century.)  The illustration at right is from the March 1881 edition of Puck magazine.

Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new under the sun.  But now:  Getting back on track…

Last July 5th, I posted On the Independent Voter.

The key point I made – last year at this time – was the growing refusal to compromise in politics, “and compromise is the keystone of a American democracy.”  That in turn has led to the growth of black and white thinking.  “Psychologists call that splitting, or ‘the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.'”

And that in turn has led to the growth of the “Independent voter,” and just in time…

That is, there seems to be a growing fallacy – among Conservatives – that they are the only real Americans.  See for example Conservatives Who Believe in ‘Trumpism:”

The number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support Donald Trump is relatively small.  But the number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support “Trumpism” is higher.  Trumpism is the belief that Trump’s followers constitute the “real America” and that anyone who does not validate their grievances is an elitist who neither understands nor cares about ordinary folks.

Which leads to this “something to think about.”  If the Founding Fathers had been Conservative, we wouldn’t be celebrating the Fourth of the July today, would we?

We’d all be singing “GOD SAVE THE *&^%$ QUEEN!”

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God Save the Queen

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The upper image is courtesy of Independence Day (United States) – Wikipedia.  

Re: Americans’ ability to laugh at themselves.  See the quote from Desi Arnaz at American people have the ability to laugh at themselves:  “American people have the ability to laugh at themselves.  It is one of the things that makes this country the great country that it is.”  See also Why Laughing at Yourself May Be Good for You.

Re:  Nothing new under the sun.  See also Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Re:  Refusal to compromise.  See The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It, and/or The Spirit of Compromise.

The lower image is courtesy of God Save the Queen …vantagefx.com.  The link is to an article posted February 23, 2016:  “Brexit Odds and Oil Speculation.”

Last year at this time…

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge.jpg

“Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge,” during the winter of 1777-78, and as noted last June 23…

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Stephen Dobert standing on rock near False Summit looking south toward Skagway, Alaska.Last year at this time I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.*  (Well- and deservedly known as the “meanest 33 miles in history,” and as ilustrated at right.)

I was also getting ready – last year at this time – to canoe 440 miles down the Yukon River, in Canada.*  That canoe-trip started three or four days after the hike, and took 13 days.

This year at this time I’m in training to hike 450 miles in 30 days on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, in September.

Between last June and this June we’ve had a contentious presidential election, and an even more contentious beginning-of-the-Trump Administration.  So I’ve decided to focus on some things I can actually have an impact on.  (And that won’t drive me crazy trying to keep up with all the lies and counter-lies.)  Things like my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Which means that in the near future I’ll be starting a series of posts, detailing what I expect the hiking trip to be like.  I’ll refer to those posts during the hike itself.  Then, once the hiking trip is over, I’ll do a post-mortem, to see how close my fantasy matched with reality.

But first, here’s a look back at last year at this time.  (Vis-à-vis “fantasy matching reality.”)

In “The Sweetest Place on Earth” – posted last June 23 – I noted “the difference in those who can work with others to come up with viable solutions to our problems, as opposed to those who just ‘curse the darkness.'”  Which seems strangely prescient, as was this cartoon:

In that post I also noted the now-apparently-obsolete idea that “great politicians sell hope.”  (An idea which now seems far more honored in the breach.)  But a reminder:  In this post I am trying to “focus on things I can actually have an impact on.”  Which brought up the idea of “65 being the new 30,” and on my then-just-turning 65, and so being eligible for Medicare:

 There’s a lot of living left to do after age 60…

Christie Brinkley: Still Stunning in a Swimsuit at 60!Or age 65 for that matter.  And a BTW:  The post included a photo of Christie Brinkley, with the comment, “Now that’s turning 60!

And speaking of reasons why it’s great to live in this country:  I followed-up that June 23 post with On the Independent Voter (Posted July 5, 2016.)  Which made that a great time to bring up Independence Day:

Independence Day is a day of family celebrations [of] the American tradition of political freedom…  Independence Day is a patriotic holiday for celebrating the positive aspectsof the United States…  Above all, people in the United States express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought [for] by the first generation of many of today’s Americans. (E.A.)

Those Independent Voters –  “who don’t align with either major political party” – could well have taken their cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:  “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”  Which presents the biggest problem facing such “Independents:”

“One must always choose the lesser of two weevils!”

Of course it remains to be seen whether Americans chose the “lesser of two weevils” in last November’s election.  But who knows?  It may turn out that – like America under the Articles of Confederation – things had to get much worse before they could get much better…

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The upper image is courtesy of Valley Forge – Wikipedia.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “hike’ on the Chilkoot Trail,” and  “canoeing 440 miles ‘down’ the Yukon River, in Canada:”  The image of the Chilkoot Trail is courtesy of Explore the Chilkoot Trail, and/or the National Park Service.   The caption:  “Looking South From False Summit, Chilkoot Trail.”  As to my experience, see On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1, and On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, both of which have photo-image mishaps which need to be addressed.  As to the 13-day Yukon River trip, see “Naked lady on the Yukon…

Another note:  The Yukon canoe trip went from Whitehorse  to Dawson City.  As to the emphasized “up:”  The Yukon is like the Nile in that it flows north, unlike many other rivers.  Thus when paddling down the river – with the current – one is actually paddling north, and thus “up.” 

The quote “things had to get worse before they could get better” is one I remembered from reading The Quartet:  Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by Joseph Eilis. (Or “Words to that Effect.”)  Ellis wrote about the four men who “shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation.”  (Note the emphasized phrase “systemic dysfunction.”)  Another note:  Ellis’ book is not to be confused with The Second American Revolution, by John W. Whitehead.  That book ostensibly seeks to be a Christian “fundamentalist manifesto,” and/or to lay “the foundation and framework for fighting the tyrannical, secularist, humanistic power, which has separated our country from its Judeo-Christian base and now dominates this nation and its courts.”

The lower image is courtesy of pinterest.com.  See also Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – YouTubeLesser of Two Evils – TV TropesReader Opinion: Clinton v Trump and “the lesser of two weevils, Master and Commander: A Movie Review – Maccabee Society, and/or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – Wikipedia.