Category Archives: Personal experience

Countdown to Paris – 2021!

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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:

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be arriving in Paris – at De Gaulle airport – early on the morning of Thursday, next August 26. From there I’ll take the RER Train B to the Gare du Nord. (18 Rue de Dunkerque.) Then out the exit past the Starbucks, and take a left and onto Rue la Fayette. (Small world. I live in Fayetteville, in Fayette County, Georgia.)

From there I’ll hike a mile or so to my two-night’s lodging. (Before joining the trio I’m meeting on the 28th, at a swanky hotel near Notre Dame, before heading south to hike over the Pyrenees.) On that mile hike I hope to stop for my first iced coffee of the day, at “McDonald’s Stalingrad.” (So-called because it’s adjacent to the “Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad.”)

And by the way, all this is part of a plan to hike the Camino de Santiago yet again.

For the third time, actually. In 2017 my brother Tom and I hiked the Camino Francés, or French Way. Or Tom did, in the purest sense. That’s because the Camino Francés starts at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees. (To Roncesvalles, in Spain.) The problem for me was that I’d had enough mountain hiking the year before, when we hiked the Chilkoot Trail, as detailed in the notes. And that trail – from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, British Columbia – is called “the meanest 33 miles in history.” And I found out why, the hard way.

And so in 2017 Tom flew into Paris, while I flew into Madrid, then took a train up to Pamplona to meet him. (After he had hiked over the Pyrenees.) And had a miserable time, partly because of some nasty weather but also because he opted – for the first and last time in his adult life – to stay in one of those dormitory-style lodgings the Camino is famous for…

But we digress. I was talking about flying into Paris, to join up with the trio I’m meeting on the 28th – “before heading south to hike to over the Pyrenees.” That trio includes Tom and his wife Carol. (With both of whom I hiked the Camino Portugués, or the Portuguese Way, in 2019, as also detailed in the notes.) But this time I’ll be part of a group of four, including Tom, Carol, and Carol’s brother Ray. (Who will be hiking the Camino for the first time.)

Which brings us back to the Pyrenees, as shown at the bottom of the page.

It’s bothered me, ever since 2017, that I didn’t have the nerve to hike up and over those daunting Pyrenees mountains. And so I now feel the need to finish that “unfinished business.” And that’s in spite of the 2010 film, The Way, starring Martin Sheen. The central premise of the film is that an old, out of shape Beverly Hills eye doctor “goes to France following the death of his adult son, Daniel, killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), a Christian pilgrimage route.”

And this old, out of shape Beverly Hills eye doctor didn’t just go to France. On the spur of the moment and without a minute’s training or preparation, this Old Geezer decides to hike the entire 500 miles to Santiago. (I think they call that artistic license.) Which is another way of saying that interesting fictional characters do things no one in “their” right mind would do. (Like Sheen’s character in the film sitting on a bridge and taking off his pack, only to see it fall into the river below and float away. Or leave his pack unattended, to be stolen by a young gypsy.)

But then again, some would say hiking over the Pyrenees is something no one in his right mind would ever do. Which brings up the recent story, Human remains found in Pyrenees confirmed as those of missing hiker Esther Dingley. “Ms Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on Nov 22 last year.” The story added that there was “no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area … and the details of what happened and where still remain unknown.”

Which in turn brings up the old saying, “Never hike alone.” And I won’t be hiking alone…

Then again, I probably wouldn’t be flying over to Paris this year if not for Tom’s suggestion. Or Carol’s actually, since she hasn’t hiked the Camino Francés (French Way), but did get a kick out of hiking the Portuguese Way. (Starting in Porto, Portugal – home of Port wine – back up to Santiago from the south.) Which brings up another point.

Since I’ve hiked to Santiago twice now, and get nervous away from home more than a month, I won’t be going the whole way. I’ll hike over the Pyrenees, and get that off my List of Things to Finish. Then through Pamplona, over to Burgos, where I’ll part ways. As the rest of the group goes on for another 29 days of hiking – with days off at intervals – I’ll take the train back to Madrid. And spend some more quality time there, possibly visiting the Prado again.

But first comes Paris.

As I write this, I’m making a list of things to do in my four days in Paris. Two of those days I’ll be on my own; the other two I’ll join the group at a Swanky Hotel across the Seine from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. (Or what’s left of it.) But there is one place on the outskirts that I definitely want to visit. (Via Metro.) As I recently learned, Choisy-le-Roi is where Henry Kissinger conducted secret negotiations with Le Duc Tho to end the Vietnam war, in 1972.

But back in 1979 it was also home to a youth hostel, and on the grounds of that hostel I and a young lady named Janine camped in a little tent, between the Seine and Marne Rivers. With the moonlight shining through the tent flap… (Can you say, “romantic interlude?”)

Google Maps says that hostel isn’t there any more, and I’d like to find out what happened…

Some things ARE sacred, you know!

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Central pyrenees.jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of Paris City Of Love Image – Image Results. It came with an article, from “travelfeatured.com,” which for some reason I couldn’t latch onto. But you could search “paris city of love and lights.”

For more on the 2017 “French Way” hike, see Training for the Camino, “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited, and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.

For more on the 2016 mountain hike, see Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!” With links to two earlier posts.

For more on the 2019 Camino hike, see “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino,” Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino, and “They sell beer at the McDonald’s in Portugal!”

Re: “Never hike alone.” The link is to 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea, as opposed to “Never Hike Alone,” the Friday The 13th film created by Womp Stomp Films. (Never Hike Alone | Friday the 13th Wiki | Fandom.)

For more on the secret negotiations in Choisy-le-Roi, see KISSINGER MEETS THO FOR 4 HOURS – The New York Times, December 5, 1972. Or search “choisy-le roi secret negotiations kissinger duc tho.”

Re: My visiting Choisy-le-Roi. Google Maps indicate that I have a choice of Metro stations. I could get off at the Ivry-sur-Seine station, then walk due east across the Pont-d’Ivry bridge, toward the Gendarmerie Nationale. Then from that area – where the youth hostel used to be – head back west over the Port à l’Anglais Bridge. Unfortunately the whole area now looks extremely built up, with what appears to be an interstate-like cloverleaf where highways A86 and D19 intersect.

The lower image is courtesy of Pyrenees Mountains Image – 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 69-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 “(Some of) the music of my life…”

Short answer? “No, I can’t!” For that matter, “I wouldn’t want to try life without music!”

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As noted in my post from April 4, 2021,* I’m working on a new E-book:

The tentative title is “Turning 70 in 2021 – and still thinking the best is yet to come.” One chapter will be “On the music of my life,” and how important it’s been to me. (Like making those long Camino hikes – illustrated [below] left – more enjoyable, as well as those endless hours of canoe-paddling, [say] on the “Rideau Canal Adventure?”)

So here it is, one post on “(some of) the music of my life.” (And maybe “the importance thereof.”)

For starters, a lot of the music that I listen to – mostly on my iPod Shuffle* – brings back a bundle of memories of good times from long ago. (Very pleasant, like when I’m on one of those “long Camino hikes,” or enduring hours of butt-numbing canoe-paddling, like “on the ‘Rideau Canal Adventure?’”) But sometimes it works out the other way around.

Like the one memory I had from visiting London back in the summer of 1979.* That memory brought to mind a song few people know, “on this side of the pond.”

You can hear the song at George Formby – I’m a wanker – YouTube, with one note from the guy who uploaded it: “Not many people have herd [sic] this song by the old George Formby, so i thought i would upload it.” (To put it delicately, the song concerns a practice which had been described as “heinous,” “deplorable,” and “hideous.” However, “during the 20th century, these taboos generally declined.”)

Anyway, another group I like – and that few people seem to know – is (are?) The Blind Boys of Alabama. Per Wikipedia, it’s an American gospel group, made up of blind Alabama black men. “The group was founded in 1939 in Talladega, Alabama and has featured a changing roster of musicians over its history, the majority of whom are or were visually impaired.” Their song that I like best is Down By the Riverside. You can hear it on YouTube, and you’ll no doubt notice it’s the “real thing.” The soulful version, as opposed to the lily-white, pasty-ass Lawrence Welk version.

Although I will add that ol’ Lawrence and his band kicked ass with his 1960 – or ’61* – song Calcutta. You can hear that instrumental at LAWRENCE WELK – “Calcutta” (1960) – YouTube. (When I listen to it I can just imagine the Lennon Sisters cutely singing “la-la-la-la-la-la” in the background.)

Note too this was “a chart hit, the most successful of Welk’s career.”

So you could say my musical tastes are eclectic. (As in my liking music from a “variety of sources, systems, or styles.”) Which can lead to jarring moments, listening on my iPod Shuffle… Like when I hear Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus – by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra naturally – and that song is followed immediately by the cackling, maniacal opening to Wipe Out.

That’s the 1962 instrumental by The Surfaris. (Hear it on YouTube, and if you keep listening you can hear the “drum cover by Sina.”) Note too that this instrumental is not to be confused with Pipeline, also from 1962, to wit: the “instrumental surf rock song by The Chantays.*

Another instrumental I like is Java, recorded In 1963 by Al Hirt (1922-1999), famed trumpeter and bandleader. “He is best remembered for his million-selling recordings of ‘Java‘ and the accompanying album Honey in the Horn… Hirt’s recording won the Grammy Award for Best Performance by an Orchestra or Instrumentalist with Orchestra in 1964.” You can hear that song at Al Hirt – Java – YouTube; and if you have a pulse at all, it’ll get your toes tapping.

Then there are some songs I used to do on Karaoke, the “interactive entertainment usually offered in clubs and bars, where people sing along to recorded music using a microphone…”

One of my biggest signature songs was You Never Even Called Me By My Name, the 1975 song by David Allan Coe. Not only was it a favorite chorus-singalong at karaoke, it was also popular at “my” family events, like weddings, graduations, and some 50-year-anniversary-get-remarrieds. In the same vein there’s Farewell Party, the 1979 song by Gene Watson. For some reason I found that I could do a great job with the last note (“g-o-o-o-o-o-n-e!”) long and loud. (Loud enough for people to cover their ears.)

In a different vein, I used to do a kick-ass version of John Lennon‘s 1971 song Imagine. (The link is to the original demo version.) From late 2016 to early 2019 – just before the COVID hit – I used to sing that song every once in a while, just to tweak a large part of the audience; mostly old, mostly white and mostly conservative, most nights. (And – need I say it – way too many Trump supporters?) Along with Well Respected Man,* the 1965 song by The Kinks. (“Doing the best things so conservative-leeee…)

And in a way different vein, from time to time I also liked to do Bob Marley‘s tribute to the “black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as ‘Buffalo Soldiers.'” (You know, the ones that “fought in the Indian Wars after 1866?”) Needless to say, in the mostly old, mostly white and mostly conservative audience (most nights), that song usually went over like the proverbial “disagreeable nuisance or source of irritation.”

However – to borrow a phrase from Big Chill, the 1983 film – “The heck with them if they can’t take a joke.” Or, a phrase from Hunter Thompson, that noted iconoclast,*  “Something, anything, to give the Right-wing Whackos a jolt!”

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Photograph showing just the head of a man with a serious expression, aviator sunglasses, a full head of medium-short hair, and a visible collar of a leather jacket

Hunter S. Thompson, the prototypical gonzo Karaoke singer?

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The upper image is courtesy of The Importance Of Music In Our Life Image – Image Results. It comes with an article, The Importance of Music in Our Daily LivesSee also 8 reasons why music is important to us — Mitch de Klein, and Why is music so important? | SiOWfa15: Science in Our World.

Re: The post I did on April 4, 2021. See Revisiting March 2020

The Wikipedia caption to the “Camino hike” photo: “A pilgrim near San Juan de Ortega.”

Re: My iPod Shuffle. That’s the “discontinued digital audio player designed and formerly marketed by Apple Inc.” Unfortunately I had to move on to a variety of the SanDisk Sansa model music player, because – being now defunct – I couldn’t buy a replacement “Shuffle.” And personally I found the iPod Shuffle much easier and better to use. Sometimes, it seems, “progress isn’t really progress.”   

Re: “Visited London back in the summer of 1979.” My lady friend at the time – Janine, who is undoubtedly a grandmother by now – attended Eckerd College, while I worked at the old St. Petersburg Times. She did a semester abroad early 1979; I took three weeks vacation to visit her in London, after which we toured “the Continent” via Eurailpass.

Re: “Wanker” song. See The Winker’s Song (Misprint) – Wikipedia

Re: Welk’s “Calcutta.” From the Wikipedia article: “This article is about the 1960 song performed by Lawrence Welk… An instrumental version by American bandleader and TV host Lawrence Welk on the 1961 Dot Records album Calcutta! was a chart hit…”

Re: “Chart hit.” The link is to Hit song – Wikipedia, with a subsection on “Chart hits,” with two paragraphs on the various charts at issue, such as the Billboard Hot 100: “a single is usually considered a hit when it reaches the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 or the top 75 of the UK Singles Chart and stays there for at least one week.”

Re: The instrumentals “Wipeout” and “Pipeline.” See also Surf music – Wikipedia

Re: The Kinks song “about conservatives.” Hear one version at The Kinks – A Well Respected Man lyrics – YouTube, but that version is way faster than the one I used to sing. I liked to draw it about a bit, and especially the final, “Doing the best things so conservative-leeee…” And add an occasional word of explanation, like “He likes his fags the best (cigarettes)…” 

Re: “Buffalo Soldier.” I just learned the song “did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley’s best-known songs.” Marley died in 1981.

Re: “Give the squares a jolt.” The allusion is to Hunter Thompson‘s book on the Hell’s Angels, infra. See How The Hells Angels Became America’s Notorious Black Sheep, at bottom:

By kissing one another the Angels proved that they were way more far out than the people watching them… In Hunter S. Thompson’s book, he explained that when Hells Angels were kissing each other full force on the lips they were doing it for shock value because the act “is a guaranteed square-jolter, and the Angels are gleefully aware of the reaction it gets. The sight of a photographer invariably whips the Angels into a kissing frenzy.”

See also Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1967). I first bought the book in the early 1970s. I thought it a superb example of what can best be called experiential journalism:

Mother Jones (magazine) recently had a piece about life as a prison guard, one of the very best examples of experiential journalism which I have ever read. The reporter became a prison guard without alerting his employer [the prison] that he was a reporter… They are a shining example of the reporter’s obligation as an experiential journalist to dig deep, to be acutely aware of his or her own psychology and thought processes, and to observe the internal impacts of an external reality which is far from the life ordinarily lived

Emphasis added. See also Experiential Journalism – MR. RESTAD. And just for the record, I thought – and continue to think – that Truman Capote did an equally good job of experiential journalism in his 1966 non-fiction novelIn Cold Blood. Which is pretty much what I try to do with my “ADVENTURES IN OLD AGE” BOOK, and my next book, on “Turning 70 in 2021 – and loving the sh– heck out of it!”

Re: “That noted iconoclast.” See also my March 2015 post, On Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling.” It quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Whoso would be a man, must be a noncomformist, and it’s worth both a re-visit – in a near-future review – and a bit of re-editing.  

The lower image is courtesy of Hunter Thompson – Wikipedia. The caption: “Self-portrait photo of Thompson c. 1960–1967.” Wikipedia said he founded the “gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell’s Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.” Gonzo journalism is said to be a “style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story using a first-person narrative.

The word “gonzo” is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article about the Kentucky Derby by Hunter S. Thompson, who popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire…

And finally, for future reference on later post I’ll do on other important music in my life, these early notes I wrote for this post: “1) Roxanne [The Police]. Lousy karaoke song. 2) Devo. Crack that whip. 3) Hanky Panky, reminded me of ‘Sgt. Sjoberg, CAP encampment,’ circa 1966-67.” To clarify, the actual title of the Devo song is Whip It. (See Wikipedia.) The “Hanky panky” song was by Tommy James and the Shondells. At the 1966 or 1967 Civil Air Patrol encampment in Orlando, Sgt. Sjoberg was in charge of my barracks and loved to sing the song, apparently because he had a young-lady friend who was also at the encampment. And “Roxanne” is a lousy karaoke song because of the chorus:

(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light, oh

If only one person is singing the song – as Brie the waitress tried on one karaoke night – all she can sing is “Roxanne” at the end, over and over again. She really needed a partner for the “put on the red light” counterpoint, as that term is defined by Merriam-Webster: the “use of contrast or interplay of elements in a work of art (such as a drama),” or a karaoke song.

On “Re-living the Florida life-style…”

 

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For some reason this April 2021 post is now a main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” The notes give more detail, but there is a newer post,Recalling Week 8 of the COVID shut-down, above right. I’ve tried working on the problem, but without success. In the meantime, this glitch* seems to be something I and the reader will have to live with…

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(Another note: In the original post I had a photo that I took, along with a caption describing a big part of my recent visit to Florida: “Can you say cheek by jowl? Except for the undeveloped lot…”

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Two weeks ago I drove “back” down to Florida…

Specifically, “back” down to the Kissimmee-Poinciana area. My “brother from Utah” – who now lives in Massachusetts* – went down to check out some investment property. So, he and his lovely wife rented a condo for a week, and they invited me to come down and join them for a visit. (Along with my brother from Peachtree City and his lovely wife.)

The thing is, I lived in Florida for 54 of my soon-to-be 70 years.* And didn’t realize how much I would not miss living there until I finally left. (With “strong urging” from my ex-wife.) Which means I got a chance to “re-live the Florida lifestyle.” And for me, four days was enough.

Which brings up cheek by jowl… That refers to the property my brother and sister-in-law inspected on Wednesday morning, April 14. They’d made a tentative offer* on the place and wanted to check it out. (I was scheduled to leave for home that very day, after lunch, having arrived the previous Sunday evening, as described below.)

The four days’ experience gave me a strong sense of “deja vu all over again.” To ee what I mean, go to Google Maps and put in “poinciana fl Secure Connections.” That’s a security business in the area, and if you focus a bit you can see what I mean by “cheek by jowl.”

That is, you’ll notice the streets in that area of Poinciana all have “themes.” In this case, lots of bird names like Hawk, Pelican and Parrot. You’ll also notice there are very few undeveloped lots in the area. The one shown above left is an anomaly. For the time being anyway…

Then you can go to “RJ Automotive Repair Shop,” at 12201 Seminole Boulevard, in Largo, Florida. That’s the area I grew up in – and lived in – those 51 of almost-70 years.* You’ll see the same “cheek by jowl” set of ticky-tacky houses all jammed together. (On the other hand, when we first moved down there in 1956, the area was mostly orange and grapefruit groves. That is, the area north of 12210 106th Street, and from what is now 105th Street down to that big lake; Lake Seminole.) For that matter, each house lot in the block – back in 1956 – had three grapefruit trees in the front yard and another three in the back…

But we’re digressing here. The point is that by the time I left Pinellas County, in late 2009, the area was a nightmare of traffic, not to mention the crowded living and “hot muggy weather.”

But I’m not alone in feeling that way. See for example, What is Living In Florida Really Like – Moving To Florida. The article describes three phases, or sets of feelings of people who move there. First comes the initial “honeymoon period,” which can last from three months to two years. Then comes an in-between period, from four months up to five years. Then finally comes the third phase, realizing “what living in Florida is really like.” (From people who’ve lived there “for many years.”) There are some unanticipated negatives “never mentioned in the glossy promo brochures.” They include: 1) learning to live mostly indoors “to avoid sunburn and the hot muggy weather,” and 2) having to maintain your pool, because otherwise “the Florida sun will turn a pool into a thick pea-green soup in days if maintenance is not kept up:”

At this point you are either in the group that has avoided or stopped doing things you loved outdoors altogether because of the hot muggy weather and will eventually leave the state … or you’re stuck because there’s no way you can afford to move out.

Or unless you are “forced” to leave the state as part of a nasty divorce proceeding. (Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “Thank you Jesus!” And I really mean it.)

laketohoBut to be honest, in April – at least – some parts of Florida aren’t too bad. I ended up doing three kayaking trips on Lake Tohopekaliga. (At right.) I set out for my  first kayaking – 90 minutes or so – from Big Toho Marina, on the north end of the lake. I wrote later, “It’s a big-ass lake, some 22,000 acres, about the size of Lake Oconee in GA, and four times the size of Lake MacIntosh” in Peachtree City. “Fortunately the locals refer to it as ‘Lake Toho.’ As in ‘Big Toho Marina,’ where I finally found a boat ramp.” (It took awhile to find a put-in that first early-Monday-morning.)

The next day – Tuesday, April 13 – I did two trips. The first was out of the Big Toho Marina, again. Then after a snack and bladder break, I went out for a second kayaking, this time out of the Granada Public boat ramp. (South of Kissimmee and about at mid-lake of “Lake Toho.”)

Then on the way home – Thursday, April 15, after a traffic-choked drive heading north by west over to Chiefland – I kayaked an hour or so on the Suwannee River. I had planned to put in Friday morning at the free park right by the water in Fanning Springs, but here’s a traveler’s alert.* That “free park” is now closed; to put in there I’d have to go next door into Fanning Springs State Park, which charges six dollars “per vehicle.” So I said the heck with that, and – with the Google app on my phone – I found the Log Landing public boat ramp. It’s 14 miles and some 20 minutes north of Fanning Springs, via County Road 341. And had a pleasant paddle… 

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So all in all it was a pleasant four days. it was nice being with family again, exchanging memories from long ago, and occasionally hearing a family secret I didn’t know before. And the kayaking itself was a great change of pace from the three kayakable lakes around Peachtree City. Still – and as Thomas Wolfe once wrote – “You Can’t Go Home Again.” The question is, what happens when you don’t want to “go home?” When you don’t want to go back and revisit all the trials and tribulations you had to go through to get where you are today? When right now you’re “turning 70 in 2021* – and still think the best is yet to come?”

Besides, who’d want to exchange the cheek by jowl living-in-Florida for your own private God’s Little Acre, amid the piney woodlands 20 minutes east of Peachtree City? And where you have your own private mini-herd of deer, coming through your yard in the mornings?

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The “fuller story” on the glitch is below, at the bottom of these notes. 

I took the photos for this post, of which one survived. In the original post I added, “Hopefully they’ll stay in this post,” but it was not to be. The platform photo gallery somehow lost or deleted my uploaded photos. (The photo at the bottom of the main text showed “my” herd of deer recently grazing in the front lawn, captioned, “It was so good to get back to my God’s Little Acre in the Georgia woods.”) Which means I’ll have to do some tweaking…

Re: Brother “who now lives in Massachusetts.” He’s the one I have travel adventures with, like on 2019’s “Camino” trip. (Click on the Travelogs link at right.) He recently moved to Massachusetts – at the strong urging of his lovely wife – to be nearer to their new grandson, “Little Ben.”

Re: “54 of my soon-to-be-70 years.” The family left our chicken farm in rural Bucks County PA in 1959, when I was five. I lived in Pinellas County for all but three of the next 59 years; I spent three years going to law school (1981-1984) in Tallahassee.

Re: Tentative offer. The seller accepted the offer. Which meant that after driving back to Massachusetts at the end of the week, my brother and sister-in-law packed up their fixer-upper tools, then drove back down to Florida to get the property ready to rent out. 

Re: You Can’t Go Home AgainWikipedia noted the title is reinforced in the novel’s denouement:

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” (Ellipses in original.)

Re: “Turning 70 in 2021 – and still thinking the best is yet to come.” That’s the title of my next e-book. (Which I have to finish soon, since turning 70 is like losing your virginity. “You can only do it once!”)

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Re: The “foul-up” or glitch resulting in this old (March 2021) post being made so prominent right now. Maybe it’s a sign from God? See for example Sign From God Meme – Image Results, including the one featuring various church billboards, including the one billboard saying, “Well, you did ask for a sign.”

Then too, the problem seems to be more of a “bug” than a glitch. See Wikipedia:

A glitch, which is slight and often temporary, differs from a more serious bug which is a genuine functionality-breaking problem. Alex Pieschel, writing for Arcade Review, said: “‘bug’ is often cast as the weightier and more blameworthy pejorative, while ‘glitch’ suggests something more mysterious and unknowable…

Also on the not-up-to-date main page: Here’s the original note, when the April | 2020 | The Georgia Wasp started coming up as the main page. Here’s the note I wrote for that SNAFU:

I have no idea why this old post – from April 2020 – comes up as the main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” Something happened on the evening of April 3, 2021, and I’m not sure what. I was writing up the new post, Revisiting March 2020, that I finally published on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021…

For other more-recent posts, click on the highest-up link under “RECENT POSTS,” above right. 

An Updated ‘Geezer Guide to Supplements’

It’s a marathon not a sprint!” (From age 70 to maybe 141. And – “Is that a sunrise or sunset?”)

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For some reason this March 2021 post is now the main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” The notes give more detail on this glitch* but there are newer posts, like Recalling Week 8 of the COVID shut-down, above right. I’ve tried working on the problem but without success. In the meantime, that problem seems something I and the reader will have to live with…

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I’m working on a new E-book. The title will be “Turning 70 in 2021 – and Still Thinking The Best Is Yet to Come.” This post will be a chapter in the new e-book, and it’s based on two posts I did back in July 2018: A Geezer’s guide to supplements and A Geezer’s guide – Part II. See those two posts for all the gory details on my dietary supplements, but here’s a short summary…

But first a word about “maybe” living to 141. My ancestor William Bradford – who came over on the Mayflower – lived to the equivalent of 141 years old in today’s years. (Age 67, at a time when average life expectancy was 36 years.*) But whether I live to “141” like him, or 120 like Moses, or just one of the “seven times as many people over 100 by the year 2050,” I’ll have to pay attention to my diet. Which led to my interest in dietary supplements.

*   *   *   *

I first became interested in supplements when I flew home – from Newark to the ATL – in the summer of 2018. (After a week-long family visit, first to Pennsylvania’s Poconos region near the Delaware Water Gap. From there on to New York City, in part to “see a few shows.”) Flying back, the Southwest in-flight magazine had a full-page ad for M-drive. (A “daily supplement designed specifically for men.”)  And since I had just turned 67, the ad “piqued my interest.”

Long story short, M-drive wasn’t my cup of tea. But it did lead to some Googling. which led me to The Top 10 Supplements for Men – menshealth.com.* I ended up adding six of the ten recommended supplements to my routine. (I get Chromium and Folic Acid in my multivitamin, I opted out of Creatine, and already took Glucosamine Chondroitin, as noted below.)

First off, I read about “Boron,” which especially piqued my interest. It’s said to be good for a healthy prostate, and my brother Tim and father had both gotten prostate cancer. In turn:

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.”

I figured I could definitely use all the help I could get for my memory and concentration.*

Number Two on the list was Calcium.* The article said American men generally get only a third of the calcium they need, and that “men with the highest calcium intakes weigh less on average than men consuming less calcium.” (And at this time in my life I’m going more for the “Lean and Mean” look.) I got enough Chromium – Number Three on the list – from the multivitamin I was already taking. Number Four – Coenzyme Q10 – helps manage the body’s energy. But for us older folk the only way to “get back up to youthful levels” is 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.

One problem? You can’t get this in just a vitamin supplement or daily food. But I lucked out and found GNC’s Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10. (“Two for the price of one.” See below.)

I opted out of Number Five – Creatine – as “too body-builderish,” as shown below left. (It’s for younger men who want to “bulk up” by doing high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work. I.e., it’s for those interested in Bodybuilding: Focusing “on physical appearance instead of strength.”)

I got enough of Number Six – Folic Acid – with my multivitamin. Folic acid (or folate) helps blood flow to the brain, and minimizes the risk of both blood clots and Alzheimer’s. Number Seven was Glucosamine, “to grease your joints.” I had already started taking Glucosamine Chondroitin in the form of “soft chews” long before 2018. Here’s what it’s good for:

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.]

Number Eight on the list is OMEGA-3, “to protect your heart.” As noted, I got a “two for one” deal in the form Triple Strength Fish Oil Plus CoQ-10. At 44 cents a day for a three month supply of both CoQ-10 and Omega-3s, that was a pretty good deal. And beneficial as well:

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 diseaseHow 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-3 with meals so you don’t burp up a fish scent.” Which leads to a side note. I take the Omega 3 – by way of “fish oil” – in the morning. (These days a breakfast of basically a “kale and spinach omelette.*”) And still get fish-scent burps.

Number Nine on the list was Selenium, “to fight off cancer.” And not just any one cancer. As Menshealth said, “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively than Selenium…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  Further, some studies link increased selenium intake with a “decreased risk of cancers of the prostate, colon, and lungs.” As to how much, the article 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 I get my daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts every morning.

And last but not least, Number Ten on the list is Vitamin E, which the Mayo Clinic says is “important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain and skin.” Menshealth added that Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and “may help reduce the risk of certain eye diseases, heart disease, cancer, even Alzheimer’s.” The article added that some studies show that “E” also reduces “muscle damage after exercise.”  And – finally finally – it said  that most people “get just a fraction of that [Vitamin E] from their diets.”

As to why 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.‘” Or maybe just live to the year 2092, when I hope to be a sprightly 141 years old, with “undimmed eye and vigor unabated!

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At 120, “His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.”

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The “fuller story” on the glitch is below, at the bottom of these notes. 

The upper image is courtesy of Alone Marathon Runner – Image Results. With a page (“Jooinn?”) and caption, “MAN RUNNING ALONE AT DAWN.” The link It’s a marathon not a sprint is by someone who actually ran a marathon. To him the saying was an overused cliche: “the statement has far more significance than just time horizon.” Here’s how he summarized:

A marathon isn’t easy, in fact it’s pretty awful at moments. However, the process of learning to train, having patience and pushing through dark times have made me resilient in areas of my life I didn’t expect. The saying [has] more meaning to uncover than what we initially assumed. Committing to a goal is difficult, but seeing progress is something we can never regret.

In the same way, life can be “pretty awful at moments,” but spiritual progress is the prize…

For related articles see This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Understanding Reactivity, on “strategies to stay well in the long-term in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” and What Does Life Is A Marathon Not A Sprint Actually Mean? “Instead of satisfying yourself with short-term goals and happiness, you start seeing things in long-term mode.” And that running a marathon – metaphorically or otherwise – “requires a strategy, devotion, willingness and balance.” 

As to the question, “sunrise or sunset?” (In the caption.) See Benjamin Franklin’s Rising Sun < Topics < Government 1991, about Franklin being 81 and feeble as the Constitutional Convention ended:

On the final day, as the last delegates were signing the document, Franklin pointed toward the sun on the back of the Convention president’s chair [and] went on to say: “I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”

Re: The not-up-to-date main page. Here’s the original note, when April | 2020 | The Georgia Wasp, came up as the main page. Here’s the note I wrote for that SNAFU:

I have no idea why this old post – from April 2020 – comes up as the main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” Something happened on the evening of April 3, 2021, and I’m not sure what. I was writing up the new post, Revisiting March 2020, that I finally published on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021. For another more-recent post, click on An Updated ‘Geezer Guide to Supplements…’ Meanwhile, I’ll work on fixing the problem.

Re: The Top 10 Supplements for Men – menshealth.com. I just re-checked and it’s now “the Top 13.” And the article I read in 2018 has changed; the 2021 version is all about “protein and whey.” I checked an alternative, The Best Supplements for a 60-Year-Old Male | Livestrong.com. It included a section on the benefits of Omega-3, but otherwise I’ll rely on my notes from the 2018 article.

Re: Calcium, “Number Two on the list.” The morning after I posted this – Sunday, March 21, 2021 – I made an interesting discovery about my calcium intake. I’ve been getting way less than I thought! According to the July 2018 post, I got 500 mg a day – of the recommended 1,200 – with “soft chews.” But at some point in time they went off the market, so I switched to GNC Calcium Citrate 1000 mg, in caplet form. Apparently I figured each caplet had 1000 mg as well, so for years now I’ve been cutting each caplet in half, per day. (Thinking to get “my” 500 mg.) But this morning, switching an empty to the new store-bought one, I saw the fine print. The fine print said the serving size was four caplets! 

Which leads to another side note. Starting back in July 2018, I took less than half the recommended 1,200 mg. For one thing, I figured half would be plenty, and that I could get other calcium each day through cheese, yogurt or other dairy products. But I also didn’t want to risk a kidney stone, like what you can get taking calcium phosphate. (See Calcium Phosphate Kidney Stones – Causes: “A high calcium diet may also cause high urinary calcium levels.” The article also made a strong case for “staying hydrated,” to prevent such stones.) But the point of all this is that for years now, instead of getting what I thought was 500 mg of calcium citrate, I’ve been getting a mere 125 mg! Which figures out to a quarter of what I intended, and about 12 percent of the daily recommended. So from now on I’ll start taking two of the GNC recommended four caplets. (Even though I have to cut them in half to swallow, and even then sometimes have to crunch them with my teeth to get ’em down.) Which will still be four times as much as I’ve been getting, via failure to “read the fine print.” Another note: The 2018 post recommended “half in the morning, half at night, to maximize absorption.” Which I will also start doing. (And finally, I also found it this morning that the GNC calcium caplets were Kosher.)

Another side note, on “staying hydrated.” See Stay Hydrated This Summer: Kidney Stone Season is Here. (From “WakeMed.”) “With the number one cause of kidney stones being dehydration, summer in North Carolina is prime time for kidney stones.” An interesting article, and a little nugget of wisdom I hadn’t fully appreciated until now. Live and learn!

.Re: My ancestor William Bradford and maybe living another 70 years. See the February 9, 2021 post from my companion blog, From two years ago – “Will I live to 141?” That post includes a note about projections that there will be seven times the number of people over 100 by 2050.

The “memory and concentration” image is courtesy of Image Results. It came with an article that has since been removed, but I Googled “music as an aid to memory and concentration.” I found 5 Powerful Ways Music Can Improve Your Memory, including these thoughts: 1) There is a Vivaldi Effect. “According to the studies, listening to Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ can boost both attention and memory.” 2) Pop music “appears to decrease errors in spell-checking” by 14 percent. 3) Music can minimize stress, improve your mood, and help you think more clearly. And just as an aside, one of the chapters in my new “Turning 70” e-book will be about “the importance of music in my life…” 

Re: Glucosamine Chondroitin. The Men’s Health article recommended Glucosamine – alone – to “grease your joints,” but the ad for the “gummies” said “Both Glucosamine and Chondroitin are components of cartilage and can be found in the body’s tissues.”

On a related note, re: “glucosamine, made from the shells of crabs and lobsters.” At some point in the recent COVID pandemic, Walmart no longer offered Glucosamine Chondroitin in the form of “Spring Valley Glucosamine Chondroitin Soft Chews.” I had to search for alternatives, some of which – in the liquid form – were rather disgusting. Eventually I settled on Doctor’s Best Glucosamine Chondroitin Msm capsules, since they didn’t have to be refrigerated after opening. But eventually the soft chews made a come-back, and so for the time being the capsules can “supplement the supplement.” 

Re: The “kale and spinach omelette,” and still getting fish-scent burps. Those fish-burps are usually gone by my second cup of coffee. And technically an omelette is “a dish made from beaten eggs” – plural – “fried with butter or oil in a frying pan (without stirring as in scrambled egg).” But I figured I had to “dumb it down,” like Moses and Jesus had to do, to get a point across. So: I breakfast on one egg, which I scramble in a glass bowl, along with portions of kale and spinach. (In frozen packages from Walmart, at a dollar apiece.) I add to that some wheat germ and flax seed, with “dots” of brick cheese, usually pepper jack. But I no longer add a link of turkey sausage…

Re: “Undimmed eye and vigor unabated.” The link is to Deuteronomy 34:7. In the English Standard Version: “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.” See also Live until 120 – Wikipedia, about the Jewish blessing said to come from Genesis 6:3, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.'” Which I didn’t know about until I did this post.

A side note: The context of this blessing from Genesis 6 is the “Wickedness in the World,” involving Nephilim, “mysterious beings” said to be large and strong, and certain “sons of God.” They “saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” The passage on “their days will be a hundred and twenty years” came after that passage in Genesis 6:2. From there Genesis 6 went on to describe Noah and the flood that destroyed all but eight people in the world. Which may explain why that blessing is now considered a fixture of Jewish humor. Like the story of a man who said to his noisy neighbor “May you live until 119,” then said to the neighbor’s wife “May you live until 120.” When the husband asked “why only until 119,” the man said the neighbor’s wife “deserves one good year.” 

The lower image is courtesy of Moses 120 – Image Results. it came with an article, Parashat Vayeilech: Summary | My Jewish Learning, by Vayelech” is Hebrew for “then he went out,” referring to Moses; a link in Book of Deuteronomy – Wikipedia, has more information on Chapters 31–34. Greenfield discussed God’s telling Moses that he was about to die, which raises a whole ‘nother host of questions.

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Re: The “foul-up” or glitch resulting in this old (March 2021) post being made so prominent right now. Maybe it’s a sign from God? See for example Sign From God Meme – Image Results, including the one featuring various church billboards, including the one billboard saying, “Well, you did ask for a sign.”

Then too, the problem seems to be more of a “bug” than a glitch. See Wikipedia:

A glitch, which is slight and often temporary, differs from a more serious bug which is a genuine functionality-breaking problem. Alex Pieschel, writing for Arcade Review, said: “‘bug’ is often cast as the weightier and more blameworthy pejorative, while ‘glitch’ suggests something more mysterious and unknowable…

Also on the not-up-to-date main page: Here’s the original note, when the April | 2020 | The Georgia Wasp started coming up as the main page. Here’s the note I wrote for that SNAFU:

I have no idea why this old post – from April 2020 – comes up as the main page when you Google “georgiawasp.” Something happened on the evening of April 3, 2021, and I’m not sure what. I was writing up the new post, Revisiting March 2020, that I finally published on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021…

For other more-recent posts, click on the highest-up link under “RECENT POSTS,” above right. 

*   *   *   *

Some “remembrances” on better times…

One such “remembrance” – about an adventure in old age: Hiking the Camino in Spain…

*   *   *   *

I did my last post on June 6, almost three weeks ago. (“Random thoughts (on ‘Socialism,’ etc.“)

It started off with a note that we were then in the “12th full week of Covid-19,” and that we also had to process the George Floyd protests. (Based on his May 26 death.) So I proceeded to remember back to a May 24 post, a “hark back … to This time last year – in Jerusalem!

Which was – as I noted – most likely “an exercise in escapism.” That is, a “mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life.” Another note: “Escapism may be used to occupy one’s self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness.”

Or when the world as we know it seems to be “Going to hell in a handbasket.”

So here we go again. This time I’m harking back to another variation on a theme, back to 2017’s post Last year at this time. Which in turn went back to one year earlier. Here’s what I wrote:

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Stephen Dobert standing on rock near False Summit looking south toward Skagway, Alaska.Last year at this time [June 2016] I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.* ([D]eservedly known as the “meanest 33 miles in history,” and illustrated 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 [2017] I’m in training to hike 450 miles in 30 days on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, in September.

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I made it to Spain in September, 2017, and have now hiked the Camino de Santiago twice. Once in 2017, from Pamplona, and again last September (2019), from Porto, in Portugal. (Where Port wine comes from.) And by the way, we’re now in our 15th full week of “the Covid.” (Also BTW, for an explanation of the asterisks after “Chilkoot” and “Canada” in the rehash above, see the full post.)

Which brings up the fact that before the Covid struck, I’d hoped – this next September, 2020 – to go back overseas. Back to either Israel or Spain, for yet another pilgrimage. But it was not to be. Instead, my “adventurous brother” – from Utah – just came up with what could be the only viable alternative. The idea of canoeing five days or so down the “lower” Missouri River. (Basically retracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they were heading back home from the Pacific, in the late summer of 1806, memorialized above left.)

Accordingly I’d planned to do a “before” post, with preliminary information on the trip. But that will take some time, and a new post is way overdue. So instead I’ll present this and other  “Remembrance(s) of Thing Past, in the form of 2018’s Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto.”

That post has a lot of details on what my brother and I experienced on October 4, 2017. We got into León, in northwest Spain, “for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking:”

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

The other good news? We were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike. That is, hiking through the “Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot. In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all ‘wussified.’)”

So by October 4, 2017, we’d hiked 250 miles from Pamplona for 20 days, and got to León. And aside from taking a day off in León, we rented two 15-speed mountain bikes. “With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days. Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…”

Which is why 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,” heading out of Leon. And in a second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch.” (See “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited.)

Those were some great times. (As shown at right.)

*   *   *   *

But getting back to 2017’s Last year at this time. That post spoke of the the idea of “65 being the new 30.” (Or as just checked, of 70 is the New 50. Whatever. I plan on being around a while.) And on my then-just-turning 65, and so being eligible for Medicare. I noted that either way:

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

Or after age 69 for that matter. And to help make that happen – and maybe get a date with Christie Brinkley – I did the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II

*   *   *   *

Christie Brinkley: Still Stunning in a Swimsuit at 60!

Or “Yours truly at 69” – come this next July, 2020…

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Pilgrimage – Image Results. And no, that’s not a picture of me. The image goes with an article, An Ancient Religious Pilgrimage That Now Draws The Secular (NPR), about the Camino: “A 1200-year-old European pilgrimage route is experiencing a revival. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of modern-day pilgrims have followed in the footsteps of their medieval forebears, trekking across France to the Spanish coastal city of Santiago de Compostela.”

Another thing about the “Chilkoot.” I use quote marks because – all things considered – it’s not really a “trail” at all, “it’s one big frikkin’ pile of rocks after another.” Except for the glaciers of course…

Re: “Remembrance of things past.” That’s an alternative title to the novel In Search of Lost Time, “in seven volumes, written by Marcel Proust (1871–1922).” See Wikipedia:

‘In Search of Lost Time’ follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning to the world.

Hmmm. It seems that some things never change. For some gloomy people anyway…

Re: “65 is the new 30.” There seem to be a lot of variations, but see my posts, On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part I) and On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II)

I borrowed the lower image from 2017’s Last year at this time. You can also see “her” at the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II.

Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc.) – from March 2020

One random thought about “Socialism,” from back in March – before the Floyd protests began…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

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

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

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

In the meantime…

We’re now in the “12th full week of Covid-19.*” And aside from that, we now have the George Floyd protests to process. (Based on his May 26 death.) Which is another reason I  haven’t checked Facebook lately. (Who needs more aggravation?) But I do try to post on a regular basis, and my last post was on May 24. In it I harked back to This time last year – in Jerusalem! (Featuring the photo at left.) And yes, I suppose it was an exercise in escapism.

But back to those “random thoughts – from March 2020…”

This past fall I got in touch with some former students in my high school class of 1969, through Facebook. And was surprised at how many of them had become grumpy old geezers. As evidenced by the many grumpy, whiny and negative posts that way too many of them put on Facebook. (Which is why I learned the magic of “unfollowing” rather than “unfriending.”)

For example, many former classmates – once all full of happiness, hope and hormones – now refer to any political persuasion to the left of Attila the Hun as “Socialism.” Yet another favorite Facebook topic has to do with Social Security. And how it’s not an entitlement. One typical comment:  “I earned it, I paid into it, and nobody is going to take it away from me!”

Which led me to do a little research…

I learned that back in 1970 – the nearest census year to 1969 – the average American life expectancy was 71 years of age. But now, in 2020, the average life expectancy is “78.93” years of age. (See In 1970 what was the average life expectancy for Americans, and U.S. Life Expectancy 1950-2020 | MacroTrends.)  Which we can round off to an even 79 years of age.

Which brings up the difference between life expectancy in 1970, compared to 2020: A full “extra” eight years. Which means that  you – my typical Old Geezer high-school classmate – are getting a “free” eight years of Social Security benefits. In other words, for at least eight years of your life – assuming you make the “expected” life span – YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SOCIALIST!

In other words a mooch, a freeloader, or whatever other label you want to use…

Which led me to ask whether Social Security itself is a form of socialism. One answer:

it seems fair to call the Social Security program a form of socialism. The program requires workers and their employers, along with self-employed individuals, to pay into the system throughout their working years. The government controls the money they contribute and decides when and how much they get back after – and if – they reach retirement age.

See Are Social Security Benefits a Form of Socialism? On the other hand, there’s the Libertarian view, if not the “traditional conservative” view. See for example The Socialism of Social Security – The Future of Freedom, an article by .

Hornberger started off noting the irony of Trump and his fellow conservatives “excoriating” Democrats as Socialists, when he and his Republicans, along with their “Democratic cohorts, are fierce advocates of America’s premier socialist program, Social Security:”

Our American ancestors … understood that once people go onto the government dole, they become dependent on it. Many seniors today are convinced that without the dole, they would die in the streets. Many of them have also become docile and passive in the face of grave government wrongdoing because they fear that the government will cancel their dole if they protest governmental misconduct too vociferously.

Hornberger concluded, “Freedom and voluntary charity versus socialism and mandatory charity… Which one is better? I’m a libertarian. The answer is a no-brainer for me.”

And incidentally, Hornberger noted that conservatives don’t like “us Libertarians.” Why?  “We make them confront their life of the lie. We make them see that they are just as socialist as the socialists [Democrats] they love to decry.” Which sounds about right to me.

Also incidentally, just this past June 2 Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army.

He started off noting President Trump’s “warning to state governors that he is prepared to send his military forces to quell violent protests in cities across the land.” Which – he said – was precisely “why our ancestors had such a deep antipathy toward standing armies.” Another warning: “When it comes to shooting American protesters, make no mistake about it: Soldiers will do their duty… If their commander-in-chief orders them to fire on protesters, they will fire on protesters.” (But see Trump Privately Backs Off From Sending Troops Into States Amid Unrest.)

 included quotes from both our Founding Fathers and President Eisenhower, on the original intent of a limited-government republic, with No Standing Army. “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”

He concluded, “Under President Trump, the American people might yet experience the hard way what the Framers, our ancestors, and President Eisenhower were so concerned about.”

And he may have a point…

Two days after Hornberger’s Standing Army post came this: Unidentified prison agents patrol DC amid protests. Put another way, “Heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves are patrolling the streets of Washington, DC. They were sent by the Bureau of Prisons.” And by the way, that’s from the Business Insider, the financial and business news website founded in 2009. (A side note, “In January 2014, The New York Times reported that Business Insider‘s web traffic was comparable to that of The Wall Street Journal.”)

That’s just in case you thought I cited a pointy-headed liberal-media outlet as a source. Said one observer, “it’s like Russia’s little green men have taken over the nation’s capital.” Or:

Some people on social media discussing the identity of the mysterious officials compared them to the “little green men” Russian President Vladimir Putin sent to annex Crimea in 2014 who wore no insignia identifying them as members of the Russian military.

Which – finally – led me to this bit of research on the definition of Fascism:

[The political philosophy or regime] that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Which is also starting to sound familiar. Suddenly, Social-Security-ism doesn’t seem too bad…

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Free stuff? Like not having 106,000 dead Americans? Or “8:46?” Or “little green men?”

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The upper image – and the lower image – are both courtesy of Socialism For The Rich Capitalism The Poor – Image Results. Incidentally, the “Monopoly Man” image at the top of the page is a take-off of a poster of Che Guevara, the “Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.” An “original” is below right. See Wikipedia, and also Che Guevara Poster – Image Results.

As to “weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown,” see On Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down. I calculated from Thursday, March 12, “when the ACC basketball tournament got cancelled,” and thus that the first full week “has it starting Sunday, March 15 and ending Saturday, March 21,” 2020.

The “incumbent freeloader” image is courtesy of Freeloader – Image Results

The photo to the left of the paragraph “Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army” is courtesy of Russian Little Green Men – 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.”  So anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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For more on Social Security as “socialism,” see Is Democratic Socialism Alive and Well in U.S.? It’s subtitled, “America is socialist, dummy[:] Let us count the ways.” Some key points:

“[A] dispassionate glance at American history shows that Uncle Sam has already gone a long way down the road of democratic socialism.

“Every American state decrees that all its children shall be educated at state expense, no matter how rich or poor.

“Second, the entire American highway system is built, paid-for and maintained by the state and federal governments.

“Third, estate taxes were introduced in 1916, in the name of equality and to prevent the children of successful parents from becoming a parasitic leisure class.

“Fourth, in the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the principle that the federal government should intervene on behalf of distressed citizens everywhere.

“Americans, once they begin to enjoy the benefits of a government program, are no more likely than Europeans to favor losing them. Cutting big government sounds great in theory, but few lobbies support the principle of giving up government-conferred benefits, whereas hundreds of lobbies fight to keep and enlarge them.

“Government on both sides [Democrat and Republican] is committed to protecting vulnerable populations, to educating them, to promoting opportunities and to intervening in the economy for the sake of stability, efficiency and high employment. In other words, in America, as throughout the developed world, democratic socialism is alive and well. Bernie Sanders is unusual not because he believes in it, but because he actually says that he believes in it and isn’t afraid to use the words.”

This time last year – in Jerusalem!

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

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

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

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

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

In the meantime:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking back on “the summer of ’16…”

See where I kayaked across the “Narrows” at Verrazano Bridge – Images “in the summer of 2016…” 

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What Happens When You Unfollow On Facebook 19Yesterday [2/11/20] I learned to unfollow on Facebook. I applied that knowledge to some fellow classmates from my high school “Class of 1969.” Here’s what happened…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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brooklynsideVN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On my road trip out to Utah…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The day had started out well.

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

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

It’s roof was covered with snow.

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

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

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

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

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

BTW: We all slept late the next morning…

Good memories!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”

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

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

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

But it seems like yesterday…

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

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

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

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

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

Which is pretty much what we did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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