Category Archives: Personal experience

On “Pirate’s Island,” Alabama…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I headed back to the boat ramp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So once again I say, “Jerks!”

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

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

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

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

“There he goes again” – Revisited

No, this isn’t a caricature of Donald Trump.  (But this alligator mississippiensis is smiling nicely…)

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Image may contain: one or more peopleIt’s been tough getting back to blogging on a regular basis.

That’s pretty much what I noted in the last post, dated May 12, 2017:  From 11/8/16: “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

…aside from a “pain in the back,” I’ve undergone some other big  life events including but not limited to a[n eye] surgery … to have a lens put back in one eye [as shown a[bove] right]…  But now things have calmed down a bit, even if only in my own life. Which means I can get back to blogging

Image titled 10852 9Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been easy.  One big reason is my recent life events – “including but not limited to” – included the long, drawn-out process of first Buying a House, then moving out of my old, tiny one-bedroom apartment, and third moving my accumulated junk into a new and relatively-expansive private home.

So now I’m part of the landed gentry

But as I also discovered, this process continues “even to this day.”  Which means that while I’ve moved all my accumulated belongings into the new house, much of that “stuff” remains in boxes or big piles scattered mostly in the farther-back rooms.  But now I have time…

So anyway, to get back in the swing of things, I came up with the idea of looking back at what I was doing about  this time last year.  That led me to “There he goes again,” from May 30, 2016.

Since then the phrase “there he goes again” has taken on a whole new meaning.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgLast year’s “There he goes again” was about my projected June 2016 kayaking trip deep into the Okefenokee Swamp.  This was to be my second overnight-camping trek into the swamp, which “despite it’s fearsome reputation – as illustrated by the lurid movie poster at right … is quite peaceful.”

It turned out to be quite an exciting second trip into the Okefenokee.  Among other things I saw some fifty alligators during the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)

And I camped at the CANAL RUN shelter, “some nine miles in from the Foster State Park launch site.”   And  (Complete with its own in-house resident gator.)  Third, because it was so early in the season the canoe-only trails were much vegetated-over.  Which meant that many times I had to “butt-scootch” my kayak over a barely-sunken log, and sometimes had to stick my hand out, grab another log and finish pulling the kayak only.  The last time I reached my left hand out I saw a patch of white.

It turned out to be yet another gator – though rather smaller than the one shown at the top of the page – and “smiling” nicely at what he no doubt thought was a tasty new snack.

But now back to that phrase “there he goes again” having taken on a whole new meaning.

On a hunch – in writing up this post – I Googled “trump ‘there he goes again'” and got 4,200,000 results.  Of those 4,200,000 posts, many seem to have been dated before the election.  See for example Donald Trump: There He Goes Again | HuffPost:  From July 19, 2016, Trump was quoted as saying that John McCain “is no war hero … because he was captured.”

(For an alternate view see Torture – John McCain – Pictures – CBS News.  Also, the caption for the photo at left reads:  “McCain’s flight suit and parachute, on display in the North Vietnamese museum at the site of the “Hanoi Hilton” Hoa Lo Prison.”)

More recently, from April 5, 2017, there was There He Goes Again:  On NAFTA Trump Fails To Live Up To What He Says, And American Workers Will Pay For It.  The post – written by “Chuck Jones, President, United Steelworkers Local 1999” – noted a local plant shutdown that had “outraged” Trump on the campaign trail, but not a bit since he’s taken office:

President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted his outrage when the shutdown was announced.  But President Trump hasn’t said a thing since…  I could see it coming back in February when, speaking about what he had been calling the U.S.’s “worst trade deal ever,” and a “disaster,” he said NAFTA just needed “tweaking.”

(Jones was referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement.  See the notes for more.)  

And finally, there was this from May 5, 2017:  There He Goes Again… Trump Praises Single Payer Healthcare.  It seems that shortly after celebrating “the 1/3 passage of the American Healthcare Act” – 1/3 because it only passed the House and not the Senate, nor was it signed into law by the President – Donald Trump “sat with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and praised their country’s single payer healthcare system.”

The conservative-bent writer went into detail about the problems confronting what he thought would be positive change to our health-care system.  He also said Trump’s “public concession that single payer healthcare is better than our own is going to do more to damage our effort than Obamacare’s failure.”  (And he noted among other things that Trump’s “misspeaks” prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to burst into laughter and promise “to quote the president on the floor of the Senate when they debate their own version of the bill,” with video.)

The article then concluded:

“…we need the president to just stop talking.  For the love of God, just smile and wave.  Please?”

Which would be a nice change, and brings us back to the photo at the top of the page.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for me to go back “back in to the swamp,” back to kayaking in the quiet, peaceful Okefenokee, home of Pogo Possum and his gentle friends:

…despite the discomfort that seems to got along with such efforts, it felt good to finally visit the home of Pogo Possum.  To visit – even for such a short while – the “hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods.”

And speaking of Pogo Possum, here’s a bit of homespun wisdom to meditate…

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Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of Alligator – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “American alligator (A. mississippiensis).”  I used that lead image in the post – from May 30, 2016 – “There he goes again.”  The caption used in the post reads:  “An ‘alligator mississippiensis,’ prevalent in the Okefenokee Swamp – where I’ll soon be kayaking…”

The lower image was also featured in the 5/30/16 post, and featured the following:

The lower “enemy is us” cartoon image is courtesy of Pogo (comic strip) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Pogo daily strip from Earth Day, 1971.”  In the alternative:  “A 1971 Earth Day comic strip written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and Porkypine [sic].”  Wikipedia described Porky Pine:

A porcupine, a misanthrope and cynic; prickly on the outside but with a heart of gold.  The deadpan Porky never smiles in the strip (except once, allegedly, when the lights were out).  Pogo’s best friend, equally honest, reflective and introverted, and with a keen eye both for goodness and for human foibles.  

I wondered why I liked him so much…

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Re:  Trump on NAFTA.  See Trump Softens NAFTA Stance | ExecutiveBizTrump Backs Away From Softer NAFTA Stance – IndustryWeekTrump renews aggressive stance on NAFTA | 2017-04-19, and – from yesterday, May 29, 2017 – Trump Softens on NAFTA Stance – YouTube.  (Yet again, it seems.)

On my “pain in the back…”

Back-Pain

“Why – indeed – does my back hurt so much?”  See my answer below…

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Consider this a follow-up to my last post, On that nail in my right eye.  (Which included the image at right, of character actor Jack Elam.)  Taken together these two posts might lead you to consider me as among the walking wounded.  (Which is pretty much how I’ve felt the last several weeks.)  But the “nail in the eye” incident happened six or seven years ago, and in April is scheduled to be corrected by some new-fangled surgery.

The “pain in the back” is of more recent vintage, and in fact came perfectly timed for Lent.

Now about that “pain in the back.”  Unfortunately,  I’m not speaking metaphorically.

I actually didthrow out my back,” last Thursday, March 2.  That was only three days after my last post, Nail in my right eye.  And the reason that was my last post is because – ever since – I’ve been unable to sit at my “laptop” desk at home for more than a few minutes at a time.

As noted in September 2016,* for next September – 2017 – “my brother and I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago, mostly in Spain.”  (As shown at left.)  And as part of my training for that upcoming event, I tried a type of “forced march.”  (Also known as a “loaded march.”)

Briefly, a forced march involves a long period – many miles – of alternating periods of walking and running – or jogging for older folk – but with increased resistance provided by a heavy pack.

In my case, on the Camino itself I hope to maintain a pace of 20 minutes per mile, with about 20 pounds of pack weight.  So for training purposes, I started experimenting with cycles of one minute – 85 steps – of jogging, followed by a number of minutes walking to set that pace.

Product DetailsAnd all the while wearing a 22-pound weight vest.  (Like that at right.)

I started out with one minute of jogging followed by six minutes of walking.  But I also wanted to be time-efficient, so I kept increasing the pace, by decreasing the number of walking minutes.  Finally, on March 2, I tried a four-minute cycle:  One minute of jogging and three minutes of walking.  To make a long story short, I overextended.

The problem – I figured out later – was that the weight vest was a bit too loose, so that my back got a constant pounding.  (Much in the nature of a series of kidney punches, as I also figured out later.)  There were warning signs, including the fact that it hurt to breathe during those minutes I was jogging.  Unfortunately, I succumbed to the temptation to “Walk it offNancy!

Bad move.

Which is another way of saying that I’ve been paying for it ever since.

And which is a big reason why my “pain in the back” came perfectly timed for Lent.

According to Wikipedia, Lent is devoted to prayer and penance – as seen at leftalong withrepentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.” And of course one big reason for people to undergo that Season of Lent is to “draw themselves near to God.”  So what better way to draw near to God than to suffer – like Paul – a thorn in the flesh, to “buffet me” and to “keep me from exalting myself?”

Or like they say on TV, misery builds character.  So here I sit, not at my “laptop desk,” but rather in my easy chair, using a Jury rigged system to type through the tears and the back-pain.  (Courtesy of a pillow for my laptop – which makes for awkward typing – along with a side TV stand for the mouse, plus a heating pad for my back.)

Which brings up an interesting side note about Lent.  There are actually 46 days between the beginning of Lent – on Ash Wednesday – and Easter Sunday.  That’s because Sundays don’t count in the calculation.  Sundays in Lent are essentially “days off,” when you can still enjoy whatever it is that you’ve given up for Lent.

That fact got overlooked by the writer/producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights, as shown in the image below.  That was the 2002 romantic comedy film which showed the main character “during a period of abstinence from any sexual contact for the duration of Lent.”  (As noted, the main character could have “taken Sundays off.”)

Or in case I’m being too subtle, the writer/producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights didn’t know – or didn’t care – that under the rules of Lent, the Josh Hartnett character could have had sex one day a week during those “40 days and 40 nights.”  (Dang Hollywood liberals!)

But we digress.  The point is that – thanks to my misguided “forced march” back on March 2 – I now have my own thorn in the flesh, as part of my 2017 Lenten spiritual discipline…

Still, I hope to get back on schedule over the next week or so.  (The new president has given us so much to write about, and I’m still trying to figure out which one is the Bizarro Trump…)  

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The text set is in a phallic column extending from Hartnett's crotch.

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The upper image is courtesy of Back-Painemdocs.net.  Although the article concerned pediatric back pain – back pain suffered by “infants, children, and adolescents” – it did note that the “incidence of back pain increases with age.”  Also re:  “Threw out my back.”  See also Throw Out Your Back? 8 Tips to Help You Recover, which includes steps I wished I’d taken three weeks ago. 

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to “As noted in September 2016,” the reference (*) is to the post “Starting back with a bang,” in my companion blog, dorscribe.com.  It told of the near-six-weeks last summer that my brother and I spent “hiking the Chilkoot Trail – ‘meanest 33 miles in history‘ – and canoeing 440 miles on the ‘mighty Yukon River.’”  I ended that post by noting I would “talk more about that [projected journey] – and pilgrimages in general – in St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.”

The weight-vest image is courtesy of Amazon.com: weighted vest.

Re:  “Forced march.”  See Loaded march – Wikipedia, which noted that in the U.S. Army, a forced march for training purposes means covering 12 miles in three hours, while carrying 70 pounds including pack.  (Meaning four miles per hour, whereas I was considering an average of three miles per hour on the Camino, carrying no more than 20 pounds, or 10% of my body weight.)  Also, in the French Foreign Legion, a forced march meant covering five miles in 40 minutes, while carrying a 26-pound pack.  After describing other, longer types, Wikipedia noted:

Troublemakers are made to place extra rocks in their backpacks for the duration of the marches.  Further in the training of a “Caporal” there is a 100 km march which must be completed in 24 hours.

Re:  “Nanc[y].”  See also Tough it out – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.  

Re:  “Thorn in the flesh, ‘to buffet me – to keep me from exalting myself.”  See 2d Corinthians 12:7.  In the King James Bible the passage reads:  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

Re: “Penance [as seen at left].”  The image – of “Saint Peter Repentant” – is actually under contrition in the Wikipedia article on penance.  The painting (1823-25) was by Francisco Goya.

Re:  “The Josh Hartnett character could have had sex one day a week during those ’40 days and 40 nights.”  As noted, that observation concerned only the “rules of Lent.”  That wouldn’t include the standard religious rules and/or guidelines concerning fornication.  See Wikipedia, which included the note that “a minority of theologians have argued in more recent times that premarital sex may not be immoral in some limited circumstances.  An example is John Witte, who argues that the Bible itself is silent on the issue of consensual, premarital sex between an engaged couple.”

Re:  “Hollywood liberals.”  But see Five reasons Hollywood is not a bastion of liberalism.  The Washington Post article noted that “the Hollywood right – led by Louis B. Mayer, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, and Charlton Heston – has had a greater impact on American political life.  All four men helped lay the groundwork for the conservative revolution of the 1980s…”

The lower image is courtesy of 40 Days and 40 Nights – Wikipedia.  One caption for the image:  “The text set is in a phallic column extending from Hartnett’s crotch.”