Monthly Archives: March 2022

Looking back – on March 2020

September’s “Way of St. Francis” – or Via di Francesco – runs in our case from Assisi to Rome…

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I’m in the process of writing two new posts. One is on an upcoming trip to Italy, to hike the Way of St Francis. (From Assisi to Rome, in September, barring World War Three or something like that.) The other post will talk about how Vladimir Putin started his Ukraine campaign of Cyberwar and Misinformation way back in 2014. But they’re both going to take some time to develop, and my last post came almost two weeks ago. So here’s another “look back” review.

From May 11, 2020, there’s Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down. And from June 6, 2020, there’s Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc.) – from March 2020. I’m not sure why I called the June post “from March 2020,” but I did turn 70 in 2021, so maybe it was a sign of early senility.

Let’s hope not. But anyway, “Week 8 … shut-down” had a lead image of Voltaire, as a prototypical “intellectual recluse” who lived well enough during an earlier time of “destruction let loose.” Which seemed to fit the early weeks of the COVID, and which brought up a question: “What did people do in the Olden Days when disaster struck?” But based on my life experience, I’d say that one question you don’t want to ask at such times is, “What else could go wrong?”

Cue the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and a new poser, “Do I Need a 4th COVID Shot?”

The “March ’20” post talked about how I passed the time in those early days of the pandemic. I described my exercise routine – at length – and also about watching lectures on Great Courses Plus. One course hit a chord, on how Americans who tamed the frontier West learned to “adapt, to cooperate with one another, and to treat each other as equals.” (Emphasis added.) And that by such means – mutual cooperation and treating each other as equals – they “subdued the wild lands around them, working out ideas and techniques unknown to their ancestors.”

Needless to say, I was struck by the words “cooperate with one another” and “treat each other as equals.” To which I can only say, “What the hell happened?”

The fact is that in those pandemic early days I was “busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.” Which meant following the advice Voltaire (right) set out in his 1759 Candide“we must cultivate our garden.” Or put in another setting, “Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s [own] garden.” (See Voltaire’s Solution to a Life Full of Thorns.) 

I also noted that I’d decided to make this Blog (I actually wrote “this post“) more like a series of personal essays. I even included a link for my own self-instruction, 7 Helpful Tips on How to Write a Memorable Personal Essay. One lesson, “Personal essays relate the author’s intimate thoughts and experiences to universal truths… They conclude with the author having learned, changed, or grown in some way and often present some truth or insight that challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions.”

I’ll try to keep that in mind, but just for “your” information: I’m retired now, and so prefer to write like I paint. “What I like,” and if you don’t like it, that’s your privilege. (On the upside, this is a great time to be retired.) Which means it’s time for Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc

There I wrote about the fall of 2019, when I toyed with the idea of going to my 50th high school reunion. So I hooked up with the Facebook reunion group, and “friended” some former classmates. But I was surprised to find out how many 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.”)

Then too, for some reason “socialism” was a big topic at that time and among my former classmates. Along with the idea that Social Security is not an entitlement. “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… It turns out that life expectancy is a lot longer now than it was when we first started paying in, back in the 1970s. The key is, we paid for our parents’ Social Security, and our children and grandchildren are paying for ours. But we’re living a full eight years longer – on average – than our parents did.

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 of 79 or so – YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SOCIALIST! (In other words a mooch, a freeloader, or whatever other label you want to use.)

Then there were the George Floyd protests going on, not to mention the June 2, 2020 post by Jacob G. Hornberger, titled “Trump and His Standing Army.” As you recall, the Floyd protests spread across a number of American cities, which led to then-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.” Hornberger wrote that Trump’s theory of power “serves as another reminder of why our ancestors had such a deep antipathy toward standing armies.” Which was illustrated by this bit of news: “Heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves are patrolling the streets of Washington, DC. They were sent by the Bureau of Prisons.” 

That review – of March, 2020 – led me to think, “You know, maybe things today aren’t that bad.”

At least we have a grown-up in the White House…

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The upper image is courtesy of Way Of St Francis Pilgrimage – Image Results.

The lower image is courtesy of Responsible Leader Image – Image Results.

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On St. Patty 2022 – and the Way of St. Francis…

Saint Patrick’s statue at Saul, County Down.” His special day is March 17…

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March 17, 2022 – My older brother Tom – the one I’ve had all the adventures with* – recently proposed a new one. (Adventure that is.) Hiking the 150 miles or so from Assisi to Rome.

Specifically, to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, by way of Via de Francesco. (In English, St Francis’ Way.) I had planned to do a next post on the subject, but then saw that my last post came on February 18, 2022. (Another Super Bowl (2022) is history.) But the “Way of St. Francis” post will take some time, so in the interim, here’s one on Saint Patrick, whose special day is March 17.

Patrick was the “fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the ‘Apostle of Ireland,’ he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.” (The 5th century ran from 401 to 500 A.D.) No one can say when St. Patrick was born, but he is said to have died on March 17. (Now celebrated as his Feast Day.)  In Irish his name would be Padraig, and that’s often shortened to “Paddy.” In turn, it’s seen as a derogatory term for Irish men. See Saint Patrick – Wikipedia, and also The Free Dictionary. That in turn  gave rise to the “Paddy wagon:”

The name came from the New York Draft riots of 1863. The Irish at the time were the poorest people in the city. When the draft was implemented it had a provision for wealthier people to buy a waiver. The Irish rioted, and the term Paddy wagon was coined.

See Urban Dictionary: paddy wagon, about the “police vehicle used to transport prisoners.” But back to St. Patrick. According to legend, he was born in Britain but at 16 captured by Irish pirates. Taken as a slave back to Ireland, he lived there for six years before escaping. He got back to his family, studied and became a cleric, and in the fullness of time went back to Ireland. Legend further says Patrick used the native shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish. 

One thing St. Patrick’s day is known for is drinking Green beer. Which raises the question: Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day? That and the article The story of green beer and St. Patrick’s Day show that apparently the trend started in the early 1900s, in New York City:

It is thought that actual green beer got it’s start in the early 1900’s in New York. A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the article, the drink is attributed to Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the green beer effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in his beer.

A couple side notes: One, “they used to call beer that wasn’t fermented long enough, ‘Green Beer’ because it caused stomach issues or as they called it in 1904 ‘biliousness.’” Two, that  wash blue was, “in fact, poison, an iron powder solution used to whiten clothes.” (I think I’ll pass this year.) As to the day, see How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day | TIME:

The [St. Patrick’s day] holiday also spread by becoming a means for all Americans to become Irish for the day. The shared sense of being Irish, of wearing green and in some way marking March 17, has resulted in St. Patrick’s Day being observed in a similar fashion to July Fourth or Halloween. It’s the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.” (E.A.)

(A radical idea these days.) So here’s to You, St. Patrick! Among other things, you and your Irish brethren “saved Western Civilization” from the barbarians. (See How the Irish Saved Civilization – Wikipedia.) All of which is a good excuse to have a tall, frosty mug of Green Beer!

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The upper image is courtesy of Saint Patrick – Wikipedia. It included the “quote” part of the caption.

Re: The brother I’ve had adventures with. They include hiking the Camino de Santiago three times, once from Pamplona, once from Porto (the Portuguese Way), and once over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. Others include hiking the Chilkoot Trail (“meanest 33 miles in history”), canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and canoeing eight days, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, primitive camping. (“Dig a hole and squat.”) To see more, type in the subject in the search engine above right.

Re: St. Patrick. There’s also the legend he “drove all the snakes out of Ireland.” Some scholars doubt the legend, for reasons including – they say – there were no snakes in Ireland in the first place: “all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes.

The lower image is courtesy of Green Beer St Patrick’s Day – Image Results.

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