An early kayaking adventure (blub, blub, blub)…

Cartoon depicting a man standing with a woman, who is hiding her head on his shoulder, on the deck of a ship awash with water. A beam of light is shown coming down from heaven to illuminate the couple. Behind them is an empty davit.

A bit of hyperbole – regarding my long-ago first-kayak voyage that left me all wet…”

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There I was, in the middle of one of the local lakes around here, on a fine sunny summer afternoon.  I was happily paddling away in my spandy-new kayak, when suddenly…

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There’s more on that early adventure later, but first a note.

It’s now Lent, 2019, and so a time to prepare for Easter.  That can include “prayer, doing penancerepentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.”  And for many people, that means giving up something.  On the other hand, some people choose to add a discipline “that would add to my spiritual life.”  (See Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip?)

Last year for Lent I gave up yelling “Hang the sonofabitch!” at every mention of Donald Trump.  This year I’ll be doing the same thing; for one thing, it ended up netting the Easter-day United Thank Offering a little over $25 in penalties.  (At 25 cents a violation.)  But this year I felt the need to add something else.  To “add a discipline,” etc.

So for this Lent I’ll be trying mightily to add – i.e., to prepare – a reasoned, careful, logical treatise on precisely why I think Donald Trump’s presidency is a constitutional crisis on par with Watergate, though not yet on par with the Civil War.  (Not yet.)  But beyond that, for my Lenten discipline I will try mightily to understand why some Americans still support him, without my saying, “What are you, a bunch of dumbasses?”

That’s going to be the hard part…

So hard in fact that it’s going to take so much time I won’t be able to do a new post in a reasonable time after the last one.  (From March 5, Didn’t we try this “Wall” thing before?)

So for the time being, I offer up this in-betweener.  It’s about an early adventure I had back a few years ago.  (2013 or so.)   In turn, it will be related to the new book I’ll be doing, tentatively titled “My adventures in old age.”   (See for example, On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully, which spoke in part of Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure.)  That post in turn cited an online article, 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, and an early post I pity the fool.  (Where I said, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpgSo, back to my early-on kayaking adventure…  Here’s what happened.  I was on the way back from Biloxi and a canoe trip on Lake Pontchartrain (Which led the following year to On canoeing 12 miles offshore, and the “siesta-at-sea” image at left.)  So on the way back – in 2013 – I stopped at an Academy sporting goods store and found a reasonably-priced eight-foot kayak for a mere $149.  That in turn led to me adding kayaking to my weekly exercise routine.

I did two early “voyages” without mishap, and figured I had this kayaking stuff down pat.  (Except for the part about getting in and out, gracefully or otherwise.)  On my third kayaking venture, while trying to “mount” the kayak at the Lake Kedron boat ramp, the thing tipped over a bit too far.  As a result, what seemed like a small quantity of water got into the kayak.

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of looking ridiculous or clumsy – getting out of the kayak and then back in – so I figured, “No problem, I’ll just put up with the water sloshing around the ‘bilges‘ until I finish up, in an hour or so.”  So I paddled down to the other end of the lake and was heading back home, after 45 minutes or so.  Just then I noticed what seemed to be a bit more water than I remembered sloshing around the seat.

I kept on paddling along, but my thoughts then turned to the water that had been left over after my prior canoe voyages – for example, “Naked lady on the Yukon,” which came a bit later – and how I’d been able to get that water out.  Then, while still paddling, I glanced back – a bit – and noticed that the back end of the kayak seemed to be much lower than the front.

That’s when I discovered a big difference between a kayak and a canoe.  I couldn’t get a really good view because a kayak is kind of awkward to move around in, and in fact is quite “sensitive.”  (Not to say “tippy.”)  So I couldn’t do a good check on the back-end of the kayak, which in turn – eventually – led to this thought:  “You know, I’ll bet there’s a drain plug somewhere on this craft.  I wonder where it is?  I’ll have to check the manual when I get back.”

"Untergang der Titanic", a painting showing a big ship sinking with survivors in the water and boatsThen, paddling around a bend in the lake, I noticed that the ol’ kayak was really getting sluggish and hard to maneuver.  So – discretion being the better part of valor – I reluctantly started heading to the mucky, muddy shoreline, figuring I’d better stop and get this stupid water out.  But it was too late.  I hadn’t made much progress toward the shore when – in a kind of reverse-Titanic denouement – the aft-end started sinking faster than I could paddle, and I found myself and my trusty craft sinking into Lake Kedron.

In seconds I found myself out the back of the boat, which by now had filled with water.  I tried to hold on to the two-ended paddle, and push the stupid thing to shore.  (Thinking all the while, “What?  This thing will never sink.  It’s supposed to be freakin’ unsinkable!!!”)  I also tried to find the cheap deck-shoes I’ had on, the shoes I had bought just last week, somewhere still inside the boat.  (Knowing from past experience what it’s like to come ashore in muck and mire, in bare feet.)

I found the shoes but then had to try and get them on my feet, while holding onto the paddle and kayak, and trying to push it ashore.  Aside from all that, I had a set of weights on my wrists, because I wanted to get more bang for my exercise buck, as it were.  (See resistance training.)  Plus I was checking for my car keys, in the upper left shirt pocket.  (Where I figured they’d never get wet.)  And that’s not to mention the Ipod Shuffle that I’d also stuck in the upper right shirt pocket, for use in case I got bored paddling and needed some music.  (Again, figuring that in my shirt pocket it’d never get wet.)

To make a long story short, I finally made it to the mucky, mirey shore, and not-gracefully-at-all managed to heave the thing up far enough on shore to get what seemed like tons of water out.  And that’s when I noticed – there, at the very back of the kayak – the drain plug that only moments before I’d been wondering about.  Somehow, the plug had worked itself out, and gradually, over the course of an hour or so, the little bit of water from my “opening mount” had shifted to the rear, thus enabling even more water to come in with each stroke.

So there, on the mucky short of Lake Kedron, right down the hill from some fancy-schmancy house – whose residents are likely even now yucking it up over the schmuck in the kayak that sunk that afternoon – I learned: 1) that there is a drain plug in my kayak, and 2) where it’s located, and 3) how to plug it back in (albeit after-the-fact).

So anyway, after the fact i did a little write-up – which formed the basis of this post – and sent it out in a number of emails, to family and friends.  Most people got a kick out of it, but my older (local) brother – not the out-of-state one I do all my latest adventure with – wrote back, “I don’t think I’da told that story!”  To which I can only respond:  “Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity!”

Besides, there’s always this little bit of wisdom from “Robert Matthew Van Winkle:”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sinking of the RMS Titanic – Wikipedia.

Re:  The idiom “all wet.”  See Etymology – Origin of … ‘all wet’ – English StackExchange.  In the sense used in the lead caption, “entirely mistaken,” misguided, or wrong.  The site dates the idiom back to 1909, and notes that by 1924 it was common “that humorists could use it as a punchline:”

Modern American slang is an institution that certainly merits as much approval as condemnation.  It is so tersely expressive.  But sometimes its application doesn’t fit.  “You’re all wet,” says the youth of today [in 1924] when he wishes to convey the idea that in his mind, your opinion or action or attitude in the matter under discussion is wrong.

Drawing of sinking in four steps from eye witness descriptionRe:  “Reverse-Titanic denouement.”  As shown in the main-text illustration, the Titanic went down bow-first, while my kayak on Lake Kedron went down “stern first.”  The main-text painting’s caption:  “‘Untergang der Titanic,’ as conceived by Willy Stöwer, 1912.”  See also “The sinking, based on Jack Thayer‘s description. Sketched by L.P. Skidmore on board Carpathia.”  (Shown at left.) 

The “overturned kayak” image is courtesy of Overturned Kayak – Image Results.  To which I originally added this sentiment:  “Okay, my ‘early adventure’ wasn’t quite this bad – but it was humiliating!”  And the photo-image is accompanied by an article, “How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position?”  Some good advice:  D on’t leave too much water in the bilges.

Re:  “Secure in my masculinity.”  See also Secure in your masculinity – Asexual Musings and Rantings, for some interesting observations.

The lower image is courtesy of Learn From My Mistakes – Image Results.  Those “Results” includes the quote from Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. “Mr. Winkle.”  He is the “American rapper, actor, and television host,” born in South Dallas, raised in Texas and South Florida, “known professionally as ‘Vanilla Ice.'”  Born in 1967, his initial success faded by 1994, when he “began using ecstasycocaine and heroin.  During periods of heavy drug use, Ice received many tattoos from artist acquaintances.  According to Ice, he ‘was in [his] binge days.  [He] didn’t even realize how many [he] was getting.’  Ice attempted suicide with a heroin overdose on July 4, 1994 but was revived by his friends.   After being revived, Ice decided that it was time to change his lifestyle.”  So he knows whereof he speaks, in terms of mistakes.

Didn’t we try this “Wall” thing before?

“Memorial to the Victims of the [Berlin] Wall, with graffiti, 1982….”

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1953 Bowman Yogi Berra.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk – lately and for the last two years – about Donald Trump’s wall(The “colloquial name for a proposed expansion of the fence that makes up the Mexico–United States barrier during the presidency of Donald Trump.”)  Which led me to wonder:

“Isn’t this like ‘deja vu all over again?'”

Which brings us to the Berlin Wall:

[The] guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989…  [S]tarting on 13 August 1961, the Wall cut off (by land) West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin…  The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) … and other defenses.  The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state

East Germany also called the Wall its “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart,” while the West Berlin city government referred to it as the “Wall of Shame.”  Wikipedia also noted that the East German government took the action because of its “brain drain problem.”

In other words, people who wanted the promise of freedom were kept in virtual prison:

In the West, the Berlin Wall was regarded as a major symbol of communist oppression.  About 5,000 East Germans managed to escape across the Berlin Wall to the West, but the frequency of successful escapes dwindled as the wall was increasingly fortified.  Thousands of East Germans were captured during attempted crossings and 191 were killed.

(Berlin Wall built – HISTORY.)    Which brings up the question:  “Do we really want to be like East Germany?  Do we really want to build a ‘major symbol of oppression?'”

Ronald Reagan – for one – said no.  He – like most if not all presidents before him – bought into the idea of America as a unique “city upon a hill.”  That idea in turn is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.  You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain.”  (From His parable of Salt and Light in the Sermon on the Mount, seen at right.) 

To give you some background on the American take on that idea:  In 1630, the Puritan “father” John Winthrop cited Matthew 5:14 at the end of his lecture or treatise, “A Model of Christian Charity.”  That sermon (lecture, or treatise) languished in obscurity for over 300 years.  That is, until the beginning of the Cold War – which included the building of the Berlin Wall.  That’s when “Cold War era historians and political leaders made it relevant to their time, crediting Winthrop’s text as the foundational document of the idea of American exceptionalism.”  (Which included Thomas Jefferson’s seeing America as the world’s great “Empire of Liberty.”)

President-Elect John F. Kennedy quoted the phrase during an address in January 1961:

We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation.  Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.  For of those to whom much is given, much is required.

(Which itself is from Luke 12:48.)  In other words, America is special, and because it’s special, all Americans have unique and special responsibilities.  For one thing, we have a special responsibility not to be “just like other countries.”  We don’t want to build walls, either to keep freedom-seeking people out, or to keep smart people from leaving the country.

Which is pretty much what Ronald Reagan said, over and over again.  And this even though, politically, he was the exact opposite of John F. Kennedy.  But they both agreed on the idea of the United States as a “city upon a hill.”

For example, in his Election Eve address (November 3, 1980), Reagan spoke of his Vision for America:  “I have quoted John Winthrop’s words more than once on the campaign trail.”  Reagan added that Americans – at least in 1980 – were still “every bit as committed to that vision of a shining ‘city on a hill'” as the long-ago people who settled this country.

Finally – in that speech – he said Americans weren’t “white or black, red or yellow;  they are not Jews or Christians;  conservatives or liberals;  or Democrats or Republicans.  They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still… a shining city on a hill.”

And Reagan repeated the theme yet again in his 1989 Farewell speech to the nation:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace;  a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.  And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

Which – in its way – mirrored just what Jesus said in John 6:37:  “I will never turn away anyone who comes to me.”  So whose side are you on?  Hopefully, Jesus and Ronald Reagan…

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The upper image is courtesy of Berlin Wall – Wikipedia.

The “farewell speech” link is to Opinion | Ronald Reagan’s Hopeful Farewell – The New York Times, by John Meacham.  Dated January 10, 2019, the piece was sub-titled:  “His last speech as president was about his faith in America and its people.  Our current president could not be more different.”

The lower image is courtesy of Mr Gorbachev Tear Down This Wall – Image ResultsSee also Tear down this wall! – Wikipedia, which included this from the 1987 speech:  “We welcome change and openness;  for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.” 

On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully…

Christie Brinkley was photographed by Emmanuelle Hauguel in Turks & Caicos. Swimsuit by Monica Hansen Beachwear.

Now that’s my kind of “When I’m Sixty-Four” aging gracefully…  (“‘Christie B.’ – at 63…”)

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In this post I review some earlier posts on gracefully ageing – or aging:  RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30 (Part I and Part II), and A Geezer’s guide to supplements (Part I and Part II, featuring “Arnold,” at right) 

In RABBIT – Part I – from June 2015 – I reviewed Rabbit Remembered.  That was the 2001 novella, last of a series of novel-sequels to Rabbit, Run.  (The 1960 work by John Updike.  The sequels included Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest.)  But RABBIT – Part II is where things got interesting, at least in terms of aging gracefully.  (I turn 68 next July.)

It started with a “personal tidbit” from the 1971 sequel, Rabbit Redux.  Set in the summer of 1969 (the same summer as the Apollo 11 moon landing), the novel told of a time “when father and son are settling the bar bill.  Earl Angstrom had a Schlitz beer, and tells his son [Harry, the protagonist], ‘Here’s my forty cents.  Plus a dime for a tip.’”

RabbitReduxbookcover.jpgWhich led me to write:  “Are you kidding me…  Do you mean there once was a time when you could go into a bar, pay 40 cents for a beer and leave a dime for the tip?  And not get thrown out or insulted?”  (The answer:  “Yes, there was…”)

But the really interesting part was about how 65-year-olds were portrayed in 1969.  For example, Updike wrote of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom’s father looking old once outside the bar; “liverish scoops below his eyes, broken veins along the sides of his nose.”  Harry then asks Earl about his money situation, and Earl responds, “Believe it or not there’s some advantages to living so long in this day and age.  This Sunday she’s going to be sixty-five and come under Medicare.”

Next Sunday Harry visits Mary (his mother) for her birthday and she greets him:

I’m sixty-five,” she says, groping for phrases, so that her sentences end in the middle.  “When I was twenty.  I told my boyfriend I wanted to be shot.  When I was thirty…”  [Harry:]  “You told Pop this?”  “Not your dad.  Another.  I didn’t meet your dad til later.  This other one, I’m glad.  He’s not here to see me now.”

The point is that even though Mary has Parkinson’s, Updike’s overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill.  (“Living so long in this day and age?”  Really?)

Now compare that with Christie Brinkley, shown in the lead picture above in 2017, at age 63.

On that note see “60 is the new 30,” and also “Why 60 Is The New 30.”  The latter post noted the “55-64 age group has shown the largest increase in entrepreneurial ventures, now accounting for more than 20 percent of all start-ups.”  (Thus literally “starting over when our grandparents would be strolling around golf communities in Florida.”)

Or see Is 60 the New 40?  That article noted that what elderly “meant to the Greatest Generation doesn’t hold for their offspring, the baby boomers.”  Then there’s 60, Not 50, Is The New Middle Age – Huffington Post, and New research shows 60 is the new 40 – KING5:

Increasingly, people over 60 feel more like 40, and now they have the science to back them up…   The new research argues that since life expectancy continues to rise, age 60 should not be considered old.  It’s more “middle age,” because for many, there’s a lot of living left to do after age 60, even embarking on second or third careers.

Which brings us back to my Geezer’s guide(s) to supplements, Part I and Part II.  In those posts I noted that I “don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67 [soon to be 68], I just want to stick around a while yet.”  (And “maybe run into a cute ‘young'” 60-some-year-old, like Christie B….)

So, to that end the “Geezer” posts  listed 10 good supplements from Menshealth, along with the question “Why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough” – among other things and if only metaphorically – “to dance on my enemy’s grave.”  (Illustrated at right.)

And that brings up two relatively new online articles, 11 Of The Smartest Things Anyone Ever Said About Getting Older, and 9 Things People Aging Gracefully Do Differently | HuffPost:

There’s nothing less attractive than someone desperately clinging to the last remnants of their youth.  We think it’s far sexier to be comfortable in your own skin.

That last thought was a “leaf” from George Clooney, along with the main thing people aging gracefully do:  “work out to get strong, not skinny.”  (Not to get a “Schwarzenegger body.”)

Other thoughts:  They stress less and forgive more, they learn something new every day, they stay positive, they get enough sleep – which for me includes daily naps “as needed” – and they eat and drink better.  (They “learn what changes we need to take with our diets as we age.”  Like Geezer supplements, and kale and/or spinach salads at night, not processed food snacks.)  

So here’s to Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure (From the New York Times – that “enemy of the people” – on a thought that will be the subject of at least one future post.)

As far as those 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, here’s my favorite.  (Or as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

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henry david thoreau

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The upper image is courtesy of Christie Brinkley Photos, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017.  And about that When I’m Sixty-Four.  (Referring to the 1967 Beatles song released on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)  Born in 1954, Christie is now – in 2019 – 65 years old, while she was 63 at the time of the 2017 Sports illustrated photo shoot.  So for this post I just split the difference.

Re:  How to properly spell “ageing.”  See Ageing vs. aging – Correct Spelling – Grammarist“American and Canadian writers use agingAgeing is the preferred spelling outside North America.”  

I borrowed the “dancing on enemy grave” image from Geezer’s Guide – Part II.  As to which enemy whose grave I “enthusiastically” look forward to dancing on, Part II said “Let the reader understand!”  (Citing Mark 13:14: “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”)

Re:  “Push the envelope.”  That also came near the end of Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The “Chilkoot Trail” isn’t really a trail, it’s just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

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Back in 2016, my brother, nephew and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail.  People call it “the meanest 33 miles in history,” and I found out why – the hard way.  After that adventure, my nephew – just out of the Army – headed back east to start the fall term at Penn State.  My brother and I went on to take two canoes “up” the Yukon River – paddling 440 miles in 12 days.

Once back home I posted “Naked lady on the Yukon,” on August 28, 2016.  (The events of that trip were still fresh in my mind, for one reason or another.)  I later posted Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, on September 7, 2016.

I guess I’ll have to revisit “Naked lady” in more depth later on. (Deep sigh.)  But for now it’s enough  to say:

I just got back from two weeks canoeing the Yukon River…  And the “mighty Yukon” is the last place on earth I would expect to see a [naked] lady sun bathing.  But one moment, out of nowhere, there she was…

You can see the full story in the 8/28/16 post.  But for the metaphorical lead picture above left, you’ll have to imagine no sand.  “(And no ‘Bikini Bottom,’ for that matter.)”

Which brings us back to the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

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The “Chilkoot” starts in Dyea, Alaska.  And Dyea is pronounced “DIe-eeee,” maybe prophetically.  (Like, “that’s what you feel like doing once you get on the &$%# Trail!”)  It ends in Bennett, British Columbia.  That’s where you end up waiting, a long afternoon, with other hikers who’ve shared your ordeal. (Of four days or more.)  There’s only one train, at 3:15 in the afternoon, so all the footsore hikers get a chance to sit on something besides rocks, and pitch their tents to dry out.

Which brings up the fact that the number of hikers is strictly limited; you have to get a special permit to even start.  And they keep track of who gets where and when.

Like on the second afternoon – on the way to “Happy Camp,” seen in part at right.  That late afternoon I was “dragging tail” and the light started fading, so a nice lady ranger came out to help me, along with a nice husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.*

That’s when I experienced the phantom pack phenomenon.  It’s not unlike the “phantom limb” sensation, but leaves you weaving and rolling like a drunken sailor.

That was one time I got to “if I could have cried I would.”  (Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity.)  

Another thing:  The nice lady ranger felt so bad for me she let us three stay in her private facility – the one above right – which meant we didn’t have to pitch our tents in the dark.  (She also gave us juice boxes, like “heaven on earth.”  I could have sworn they were raisin juice, but my older brother later said raisins are just dried-up grapes. It may have been the delirium, or the relief…)

Another excuse?  “Hiking the Chilkoot Trail is sheer torture for someone – like me – with only one good eye and and thus no depth perception.”  (For more detail see the February 2017 post, On that nail in my right eye.)  So my word of advice:  If you have only one good eye and no depth perception, take it slow and easy, and be ready to let the other hikers pass you by.

More good advice:  Anyone hiking the trail is advised that if they have to get airlifted out – like for a twisted ankle or such – the cost will be a cool $28,000.00.  Which brings up another point rangers make in the process of getting your permit to hike the trail:  Watch out for the bears!

A historical note:  The Chilkoot’s claim to fame started with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–99.  That “transformed the Chilkoot Trail into a mainstream transportation route to Canada’s interior.”  Also, the only other route to the gold fields was through White Pass.  (Up to 1899, when a railroad was built from Skagway to the Yukon.)   So which route was better?  Pioneer Mont Hawthorne said there wasn’t much difference:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”

13 Dead Horse GulchAnother side note:  White Pass was also called “Dead Horse Trail,” apparently renamed by Jack London:  “Nearly 3,000 pack animals died.  Drivers rushing over the pass had little concern for beasts.  Exhausted horses starved, were hurt on rough ground, became mired in mud and fell over cliffs.”

Which also gives you a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

Which in turn brings up the question:  Why the hell would you do such a thing?

One answer can be seen in a post from my companion blog, On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.  It spoke in part of the “value of such pilgrimages in general.”  For example:

We were speaking of pilgrimages.  More to the point, of why an otherwise-relatively-sane 65-year-old [at the time] would either hike the Chilkoot Trail or spend 12 days canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River.  That of course brings up St. James the Greater

And James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  On that note, the post cited the book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today. (James Roose-Evans.)  It said a pilgrimage – like a 12-day canoe trip on the Yukon or a “hike” on the Chilkoot &$%# Trail – “may be described as a ritual on the move.”

Further, the book said that through “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep,” we can often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.  (And that’s especially true when the “majesty and permanence” of God’s creation included “all those &$%# rocks!”)

Finally, the book noted that such a pilgrimage – such ritual on the move – can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

I certainly felt “chastened” after we got back to Skagway from the Chilkoot Trail.  (Although the 10-of-12 beers that my nephew and I shared – of the two six-packs I bought – helped a lot too…)  But as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t do pilgrimages and otherwise push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”

Besides, my Chilkoot Trail experience made the Happy Camp “raisin juice” taste great!!!

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To repeat, the Chilkoot Trail is just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

(And this is one of the smooth parts…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail – Image Results.  From a post, “What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 6,” posted on , “b.”  A highlight:

We endured miserable weather throughout the day – cold, rainy and very windy…  At times, especially hiking up to and down from the summit I was quite frightened as I was afraid we would either be blown off the mountain or slip careening down the mountain.

I knew the feeling…  Also, this review-post borrowed liberally from On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.  

Re:  “Up” the Yukon River.  Like the Nile River, the Yukon flows north, which makes it unusual.

Re:  “Husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.”  My brother and just-out-of-the-Army nephew also took turns carrying my pack part of the way to “Happy Camp.”  

Re:  “But as I said in I pity the fool…”  There followed a loose translation of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s saying, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

Re:  The book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today.  The book also noted that a healthy sense of ritual “should pervade a healthy society, and that a big problem now is that we’ve abandoned many rituals that used to help us deal with big change and major trauma.”

Re:  The negative tone of this post.  My brother thought my post “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited was also too negative; too “complaining” in general.  So I posted “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.  

Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough…”  But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

But “fun stuff doesn’t make for good drama.”  See What Elements Make for [Good Drama]?

If your drama doesn’t have a juicy, complex, emotional, heart-wrenching, personal, intelligent, connectable role for an actor – it’s dead in the water.  And as a side note, don’t be afraid to inject some comedy into your dramatic scenes.  Except for Schindler’s List, every single drama listed above has more than one moment of levity.  However, there is one thing that every good drama needs no matter what the story is.  It’s more than a trend – it’s the mandatory ingredient – CONFLICT.  Drama is based on conflict.  And not just any conflict, but one that is powerful, relatable, and complex enough to propel a story forward… 

And BTW:  That hike on the Camino de Santiago in Spain took place in the fall of 2017.

The lower image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site – Parks Canada:  “The Chilkoot Trail is a 53 kilometre / 33 mile trip through history and one of North America’s most fabled treks. The trail crosses the international boundary between the United States and Canada and is co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the US National Park Service.”

A review of Ric Burns’ “Pilgrims” DVD…

“The actor Roger Rees renders [William] Bradford beautifully,” in Ric Burns’  “The Pilgrims…”

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Just for a change of pace, I offer this review of a DVD I just finished watching:  American Experience: The Pilgrims, a documentary film by Ric Burns.  (Available at Amazon.com.) 

I must say that – overall – I found the tone pretty depressing.  I wrote before – in Thanksgiving 2015 for example – that of the 102 Pilgrims who landed in November 1620 at Plymouth Rock, less than half survived the first year.  (To November 1621.)  And of the 18 adult women, only four survived that first winter in the hoped-for “New World.”   (Illustrated at left.)

I just hadn’t appreciated the extent of that loss on an emotional level.  Another way of saying that – just as at Jamestown, started in 1607 – there was a whole lot of human suffering:

The major similarity between the first Jamestown settlers and the first Plymouth settlers was great human suffering…  November was too late to plant crops.  Many settlers died of scurvy and malnutrition during that horrible first winter.  Of the 102 original Mayflower passengers, only 44 survived.  Again like in Jamestown, the kindness of the local Native Americans saved them from a frosty death.

In Thanksgiving – 2016, I wrote that the “men and women who first settled America paid a high price, so that we could enjoy the privilege of stuffing ourselves into a state of stupor.”  But the Ric Burns film brought that suffering home in a way I hadn’t fully appreciated before.

And by the way, the full caption for the picture at the top of the page reads, “The actor Roger Rees renders Bradford beautifully;  it was among his last performances before his death in July,” 2015.  Which could be both prescient and ironic.  That is, while Rees died at 71 – when life expectancy today is about 78 – William Bradford lived to the ripe old age of 67, when life expectancy was about half that.

There’s more about that at the end of this post…

But what I found most fascinating was how Bradford’s journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, proved the truth of the old adage, “Everything perishes, save the written word.*”  For starters, here’s what Wikipedia said about Plymouth Colony in general:

Despite the colony’s relatively short existence, Plymouth holds a special role in American history…  The events surrounding the founding and history of Plymouth Colony have had a lasting effect on the art, traditions, mythology, and politics of the United States of America, despite its short history of fewer than 72 years.

And what gave “Plymouth” such a special place in American history was Bradford’s journal,  Of Plymouth Plantation. (Which proves again, “Everything perishes, save the written word.”) And which brings up another thing that I hadn’t realized:  That the book was almost lost to history.

That is, the original manuscript was left in the tower of the Old South Meeting House in Boston during the American Revolution.  But after British troops occupied Boston, it disappeared “for the next century.”  The missing manuscript was finally re-discovered, “in the Bishop of London‘s library at Fulham Palace,” and printed again in 1856.  It was only after much finagling – including a verdict ultimately rendered by the Consistorial and Episcopal Court of London – that the manuscript was brought back to the U.S. and given to Massachusetts in 1897.

That’s a point noted by the New York Times’ In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking(Including the one about the Plymouth “Signing of the Mayflower Compact,” at left.)

Mr. Burns’s most inspired touch is to end not in the 1600s, but two centuries later, by following what happened to Bradford’s journal.  It disappeared during the Revolutionary War, then was rediscovered in the mid-1800s…  The Mayflower passengers suffered terrible hardships, and from the Indians’ point of view their arrival was ultimately a dark day.  But not on Thanksgiving.  “There’s been a tremendous amount of memory produced around the Pilgrims, but there’s also been a lot of forgetting,” the literary critic Kathleen Donegan notes, adding later: “We don’t think about the loss.  We think about the abundance.”

Or consider this, from Who Were the Pilgrims Who Celebrated the First Thanksgiving.  “The first winter, people died from dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, scurvy, and exposure, at rates as high as two or three per day.  ‘It pleased God to visit us then with death daily,’ Bradford wrote.”

But the Pilgrims were “inventive enough” to conceal their losses from the Indians:  “inventive enough, as Donegan notes, to prop up sick men against trees outside the settlement, with muskets beside them, as decoys to look like sentinels to the Indians.”

The point is this:  Our “Forefathers” – and Foremothers as well – suffered greatly to come to America, and usually much more than we appreciate.  More than that, from the beginning they were “aliens in a strange land.”  Which brings up Deuteronomy 10:19, where God said to the Children of Israel:  “You are also to love the resident alien, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.”  And that’s a point worth remembering these days…

But let’s close with a note of hope and cheer, at least for me.  That is, rumor has it that William Bradford was one of my long-ago ancestors.  If that’s true, I hope I inherited his longevity gene.

That earlier “Bradford” lived to a ripe old age of 67.  That was at a time when life expectancy for that time and place was about half that long.  See for example, life expectancy in American in the years 1750-1800.  That is, the life expectancy a century after Bradford’s time – he died in 1657 – was 36 years.  So if that “1.86 factor” applied to me today – with a  male U.S. life expectancy of 76 years – I should live to be 141.  (Giving me another 74 years.) 

And who knows, I might end my years with the old-age benefits of King David:

King David was old and advanced in years;  and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.  So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant;  let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’  So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.  The girl was very beautiful.  She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her…

(In the biblical sense.)   On the other hand, King David didn’t have all the “better living through chemistry” advantages we have today.  And that will no doubt increase by, say, 2080?

Something to look forward to…

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The upper image is courtesy of Review (NYT): In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking.

Re:  “Everything perishes save the written word.”  The quote is from Techniques of Fiction Writing: Measure and Madness, by Leon Surmelian.  Surmelian cited Plato as saying the poet – including but not limited to the writer of fiction, and maybe of such essays as these – creates “not by science or technique, not by any conscious artistry, but by inspiration or influence of some non-rational, supernatural influence.”  Which could apply to the writers of the Bible, which Surmelian implied by saying a true writer “is the medium of some higher spirit that gets into him.  He is literally inspired.”

But – Surmelian continued – the writer needs more than mere inspiration, by and through “what mysterious power dwells within him.”  (The “madness” in the book title.)  He needs “measure:”

Through measure a story is given the structure and style that snatch it from the chaos of reality and fix it in the memory of man.  We remember through measure.  We move from the unrealized to the realized through measure.  Through measure writing resists the ravages of time.  Everything perishes save the written word, says an old eastern proverb.

From the 1969 Anchor Books paperback edition, at pages 242-44, emphasis added.

The image to the right of the paragraph ending, “Bradford lived to the ripe old age of 67, when life expectancy was about half that,” shows the “Coat of Arms of William Bradford.”

Also from (New York Times) Review: In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking:

The Pilgrims and their fellow travelers weren’t terrorists, of course (despite an instance of putting the severed head of a perceived enemy on a pole), but they and those who followed certainly did effect a cultural conquest.  Some versions of their story play that down, partly because a plague resulting from earlier contact with Westerners brought widespread death to coastal Indians in the Northeast just before the Mayflower arrived. God, it seemed to some, killed off the Indians to make way for the whites, a view this program corrects.

 Here’s more from Who Were the Pilgrims Who Celebrated the First Thanksgiving:

It draws on the unique, nearly lost history, Of Plymouth Plantation, written by William Bradford, the new colony’s governor for more than 30 years, whom the late actor Roger Rees portrays from a script derived from Bradford’s book.

Right from the start, the death rate was awful. Mortality had been enormous at the Jamestown colony, where by 1620 nearly 8,000 people had arrived, although the settlement was struggling to keep its population above a thousand. Bradford’s history recalled the Pilgrims’ anticipation of “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men.” Ferrying in supplies from the ship meant wading through ice-cold water, at one point with sleet glazing their bodies with ice. The first winter, people died from dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, scurvy, and exposure, at rates as high as two or three per day. “It pleased God to visit us then with death daily,” Bradford wrote…

See also PBS Documentary “The Pilgrims”: A Review.

The lower image is courtesy of King David Abishag – Image Results.  The painting may actually show Bathsheba, see Moritz Stifter Bathsheba – Image Results, and/or Bathsheba Painting – Image Results.  The “Abishag” connection was gleaned from “Interesting Green: Reflection – King David and Abishag,” from veryfatoldmanblogspot.com.  But see also Is Veryfatoldman.blogspot legit and safe?  (Review).

Donald Trump: He’s no “Virginia Gentleman”

Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (Colonial Williamsburg copy).jpg

A true “virginia Gentleman” – Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740)…

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The last post I did was on December 10, 2018.  (My excuse is the rush of the holidays.)  So here goes:  The first post of 2019.

I just started reading Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose.  In the process I found a timely passage – relevant to today’s political scene – at the start of Chapter 2.  It described Lewis when he was a young “Virginia Planter,” from 1792 to 1794.  (“Touchstone” edition, 1997, pages 30-31.) 

Some side notes:  Lewis and his co-captain William Clark didn’t begin their famous “Corps of Discovery” expedition until May, 1804.  That came about after his career as an army officer started – and thus after his career as a Virginia planter ended – in 1794.

That “change of life” was a direct result of the Whiskey Rebellion (The “tax protest” in western Pennsylvania, from 1791 to 1794, during the presidency of George Washington.)

That is, in 1794 Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia, to help put down the Rebellion.  In turn he left the family plantation in the care of his mother.  At the end of his term (1795), his mother wanted him back home to run the plantation.  Instead he joined the regular U.S. Army and – In due course – got court martialed.  (For “arguing politics” with a fellow officer.)  He was found not guilty, but had to be transferred to a different outfit.  As it turned out, he joined the “Chosen Rifle Company of elite rifleman-sharpshooters.”  The captain of that company was William Clark,* with whom he went on to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

But we digress…  The point is this:  Ambrose began Chapter 2 by describing the life of a Virginia planter in the mid-1700s.  (“Foaled, not born, Virginia planters were said to be,” in part because riding a horse “was not a matter of sport or diversion but of necessity.”)  Ambrose continued:

A Virginia gentleman was expected to be hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness…  Wenching and other debauchery, heavy drinking, and similar personal vices were common enough, but as long as they did not interfere with relations between members of the gentry they were condoned.  The unpardonable sins were lying and meanness of spirit.  [E.A.]

Which led to my conclusion that – whatever else he might be – Donald Trump is not what you would call a “Virginia Gentleman.”  Another aside:  I Googled “donald trump lying” and got 49 million results.  “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results.  “Donald trump mean spirited” got transformed into “donald trump is mean spirited.”  That got a mere 432,000 results.

Donald TrumpBut among the results from “mean spirited” was a May 2012 piece from Newsmax(The “multiplatform network focused on conservative media…  the most trafficked conservative website,” and – according to one study –  “the number one site for conservatives in the U.S., making it one of the most influential conservative news sites in the nation.”) 

The title of that 2012 article?  Donald Trump [says] Mean-Spirited GOP Won’t Win Elections.  Which made for some interesting reading.

Among the gems:  Trump said he “really doesn’t like to fire people,” a point that was confirmed by a “top aide for 26 years.”  The aide said that “there are two Donalds: the ‘outrageous’ one portrayed on television and the real one only insiders know.”  The private Donald Trump – the aide insisted – is “the dearest, most thoughtful, most loyal, most caring man,” and that “caring side inspires loyalty and is one of his secrets to success.”

But the main Trump point:  “The Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections if it comes across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming toward people of color.”  Then too:

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says.  “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

But again we digress…  Except to note that the Donald Trump of 2012 seems markedly different than the Donald Trump that we’ve seen as president the last two years…

Getting back to the internet, we’ve seen the Google-term “donald trump lying” got 49 million results, “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results, and “donald trump is mean spirited” got almost half a million results.  So just to be fair I Googled “donald trump is hospitable,” and got just under 25,000 results.  The term “donald trump is chivalrous” got under 14,000 results.

So there you have it.  “Donald trump is mean spirited” outweighed “donald trump is chivalrous” by a margin of 35 to 1.  And “donald trump lying” outweighed “donald trump is hospitable” by a margin of 3,500 to 1.  Which proves again that – whatever else he might be – Trump is not what you would consider a “Virginia Gentleman.”  (And it’s on the internet so it must be true.)

Bonjour!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Spotswood – Wikipedia:

[He] was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and a noted Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  He is noted in Virginia and American history for a number of his projects as governor, including his exploring beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, his establishing what was perhaps the first colonial iron works, and his negotiating the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois Nations of New York.

Other notes:  “Spotswood Hall,” at the College of William and Mary was named for him, along with “Old Spotswood, a cannon seized during the Revolutionary war,” along with the Spotswood Society.  Spotsylvania County in Virginia is also named for him:  “Spots” + “sylvania” (“woods” in Latin).  The county seat is Spotsylvania Courthouse, the sight of a Civil War battle in May 1864.

Yet another BTW:  “Virginia Gentleman” is also the name of a bourbon, a hot sauce, and a “men’s collegiate a cappella group,” the oldest such group at the University of Virginia,” founded in 1953. 

Re:  Lewis having to transfer to Clark’s rifle company because of a court-martial.  Army regulations at the time forbade officers from either using “reproachful or provoking speeches” to another officer, or challenging him to a duel.  Lewis was charged with “disturbing the peace and harmony of a Company of Officers” by arguing politics.  Not surprisingly, Lewis held “Jeffersonian” views, while the bulk of officers at the time were cherry-picked Federalists.  (Who went on to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, arguably to quash political opposition.)  When Lewis got thrown out, he challenged the fellow officer – a Lieutenant Eliott – to a duel.  Lewis was found not guilty, in large part because the commander of the “Second Sub-Legion,” Mad Anthony Wayne, thought the regulations were – in a word – stupid:

So the partnership of Lewis and Clark, destined to become the most famous in American history, began because General Wayne preferred to have his officers fight out their differences in a duel rather than in a court-martial and therefore found for the man who had issued the challenge [Lewis] rather than the one who had followed the law and brought charges.

See the “Touchstone” edition, 1997, at pages 45-46.

Re:  The Trump image to the right of the “Newsmax, mean-spirited” graf.  Most recently I borrowed it from the November 16, 2018 post, The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings.

Re:  A Virginia Gentleman being “hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness.”  See Cherry-pick[ing] – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  And also Turnabout is fair play – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  To be fair – for example – the term “donald trump is kind to his inferiors” got nearly 13 million results, but those results included Katy Burns:  Trump fumes, and America loses a bit more of of itself, and Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’  Another note:  I started typing “donald trump is” and immediately got the primary result, “donald trump is an idiot.”

The lower image is courtesy of Internet Must Be True Bonjour – Image Results.  See the original State Farm “Bonjour” television ad at State Farm® State of Disbelief French Model – YouTube.

Some thoughts on “the Donald,” from two years ago…

An April 2016 post:  Is there a new Maverick in town,” or just another ‘what has been?'”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

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

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

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

In the meantime:

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGOn November 22, 2016 – 18 days after he got elected – I posted Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?  That post borrowed from the earlier, April 16, 2016 post:  “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  Which explains the lead photo above, about mavericks in general:

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle.  The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero…”  As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

That post also asked the “musical question:  ‘Can you say prescient?'”  (That question concerned a candidate for president who – in 1998 – showed “a malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power.”  And it wasn’t Donald Trump.*):

[R]epetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions.  Beneath the mask of conservative idealogue is an amoral pragmatist.

So, we’re now two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, and there are some things all Americans can agree on:  First, that Trump “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”  And second, that he “does not abide by rules.”  But the question remains whether he is a “rebel,” as the old “Johnny Yuma” TV series defined that term:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

It would be hard to say – with a straight face – that Trump “respects law and order,” given his continued insulting of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.  (I Googled “trump insults fbi” and got 2,450,000 results.)  And it could easily be said – with a straight face – that Donald Trump personifies “intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.”

Woodstock poster.jpgBut we were talking about “thoughts from two years ago.”  And another tidbit from two years ago came in the November 30, 2016 post, “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”

I wrote of the irony of Trump being seen as a hero by the average blue-collar worker.  Then I imagined a future folk singer – a “dulcet-toned lass” – comparing Trump to Joe Hill, as immortalized by Joan Baez at Woodstock(“I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night…”)  The post cited a pre-election article saying if Trump lost, the “millions of Americans supporting him will feel more isolated and disillusioned than ever before.”  Which raises the question today, “Are those millions of Americans better off now that Trump got elected?”

[M]illions of Americans [have] looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before [had Trump not been elected…]

Put another way, has Trump “stood up for the weak and downtrodden?”  Has he delivered the goods for the millions of “angry white blue-collar workers” who looked to him for salvation?

Or – instead – Is this (just)“deja vu all over again?”  (Another post from 2016.  That one noted the “brittle, bitter climate of distrust in national politics today:  the loss of civility amid endless personal accusations, the stalemates that develop on issue after issue when both sides are unable to approach the grounds where reasonable compromise can occur.”  And that was in 1998!)   

And about that name, “the Donald.”  It turns out it got started by Ivana Trump‘s “broken English,” then got a boost – from all people – a writer at The Washington Post.

I noted that nickname in a May 12, 2017 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

If Trump turns out to be as bad as people expect – based on how he presented himself, both in his campaigns and in office – fully 75% of the country could be strongly against him by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018.  Which could turn out to be a single-issue race.

Seal of the U.S. House of RepresentativesThe prediction – based on analysis by a number of pundits – hasn’t yet come to pass.  Though in some respects the 2018 mid-term elections were a single-issue race, at least for the House.

On the other hand, consider the post, Trump is like a box of chocolates,” from November 13, 2016.

It first quoted Professor Allan Lichtman, who predicted in September 2016 that Trump would win the election.  But he went on to say Trump would be impeached, but not by Democrats.  The Republicans – he said – would much rather have Mike Pence as president, as “far easier to control.”

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

That hasn’t come to pass either, but that post went on to ask:  “In light of Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions – especially since last Tuesday – will he eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

The jury’s still out on that one…

But the part I remember was the “Gump-like” surprise of the election itself, which led one well-known American icon to ask:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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The upper image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia.  See also Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma (From November 22, 2016.)  And “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?  (April 26, 2016.)  

Re:  The “angry words” candidate who wasn’t Donald Trump.  It was actually Newt Gingrich, as detailed in the November 12, 1998 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.  See the May 9, 2016 post, Is this “deja vu all over again?”

Re:  The November 8, 2016 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years.”  It includes a screwed-up image to the right of the opening paragraph that I wanted to delete but couldn’t figure out how.

Other past posts from 2016 -considered for inclusion herein – included:  From September 15:  Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel; from November 8:  ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian; and from November 22: Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

I wanted to close the post with the Calvin and Hobbes [cartoon] for July 07, 1995, but couldn’t cut and paste it.  The punch line was “enmity sells,” and it seems to have been an on-the-mark foreshadowing of Trump’s style of governing.   (Check it out yourself…)

The lower image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb, as featured in “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (I.e., that quote was published some seven years before the movie.)

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

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

The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings

2017 featured 345 mass shootings under Trump, compared to 162 in Obama’s eight years…

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Supported by a friend, a man weeps for victims of the mass shooting just a block from the scene in Orlando, Florida, on June Remember June, 2016?  That’s when then-candidate Donald Trump said then- President Barak Obama should resign, after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.  That is, the deadliest mass shooting up to that point?  You know, the one in Orlando?  (Just to narrow it down a bit.)

Amid reports that a gunman had killed 49 people at a gay nightclub early Sunday, Trump could only respond by bragging that he’d predicted such a thing would happen, and arguing that the attack justified his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

In plain words, Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the shootings, linked him personally with the shooter, and implied that nothing like that would happen if he were elected president.  Not to mention saying Obama should resign after “his” mass shooting.

Which led me to recently Google “trump obama resign mass shooting.”

That led me in turn to some interesting results:  Not least of all because it led me to Google “mass shootings since trump took office.”  Briefly, there was apparently a “lull in the action” during the first few months of 2017, but then things heated up.  (And not in a good way.) 

For example, on March 18, 2017, a blogger, “Raptorman,” posted What Happened to Obama Era Of Mass Shootings Under the Trump Administration?  Early in 2017 he bragged thusly:

It had been over 253 days since Donald Trump became President of the United States of America with no crazed mass murder shootings until the Las Vegas shooting.  A much longer period of time without a big mass murder shooting than under the previous administration.

shoot4“Raptorman” then posted a chart showing how such mass shootings had burgeoned under Obama.  (From in the low 20s under previous presidents, to 162 under Obama.)  He defined a mass shooting as involving “4 or more people.”  But then came a post on April 16, 2017:  The U.S. Has Had 273 Mass Shootings in 2017 So Far (“And you likely didn’t hear about all of them.”)

That writer –  – also

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA) counts 29 mass shootings across the U.S. just in September[?], 255 since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, and 273 since the start of the year, while defining a “mass shooting” as “four or more” gunshot victims, not including the shooter.  At the current rate calculated by GVA, 2017 is on track to have more mass shootings than any other year since GVA began tracking gun violence in the U.S.

This was in response to the shooting at the “Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, killing 50 and injuring more than 400 in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.”

But since Couts’ post came a mere month after “Raptorman’s,” something didn’t add up.  So, for a more accurate count I checked 2017 deemed America’s deadliest year for mass shootings, posted December 11, 2017.  It said, “According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that continuously tracks gun-related death and injury reports based on official records, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone.”

So as it turned out, the estimate by Gun Violence Archive – noted by  in April 2017 – turned out to be chillingly accurate.  Which means that under Obama there were 162 mass shootings, while under Donald Trump, there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 alone.

Then came 2018, about which the New York Daily News said – last November 8, a week or so ago (the headline at left is from 1975) – that America’s averaging almost a mass shooting a day in 2018:

There have been nearly as many mass shootings in the United States in 2018 as there have been days in the year so far, according to a nonprofit organization that records gun violence data.  The horrific attack carried out in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar on Wednesday night was the 307th mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a “mass shooting” in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.

So again, under Obama there were 162 mass shootings in eight years. 

Under Donald Trump there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 and 307 in 2018.  (As of November 8, 2018.)  Which adds up to a grand total – for two years, not counting the rest of November and December, 2018 – of 652 mass shootings under Trump so far.  That’s four times greater than Obama’s eight years, in one-fourth the time.  (In a mere two years, for the math-challenged.)

And incidentally, the New York Daily News has been described as “flexibly centrist,” not one of those “fake news” media types complained of by some Republicans.  For example, it endorsed George W. Bush in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Which means that a claim of “fake news” would be hard to justify.  (To anyone except the most ardent Trump supporter, to which I would respond, “Fake news?”  Fake brain!)

But we digress.  The point?  All this calculating led me to the October 27 article, Why it’s fair to ask whether Trump is to blame.  Senior political reporter Aaron Blake gave a lengthy analysis, which included this note:  “There is a growing sense of grievance among Republicans about the narrative that Trump might have some culpability for the postal bombs that were sent to many of his high-profile political foes over the past week.”  Or for the spate of mass shootings.

But the Bible – that favorite tool of “Trump-humping evangelicals” – says otherwise.

Which is another way of saying that such a lengthy “Blake” analysis really isn’t necessary.  At least not according to the Bible.  That is, Luke 6:38 provides a much better, much shorter answer:  “The standards you use for others will be [the ones] applied to you.”  Or in a slightly different translation, “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”

Which should give “the Donald” some pause for thought

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Mass Shooting – Image Results.  It’s linked to the article, “Las Vegas Shooting Is the 273rd Mass Shooting This Year,” which included these notes:  “The gun industry often uses mass shootings to rally sales, telling consumers that such events may lead to stricter gun laws,” and that “Gun company stocks rose following the Las Vegas mass shooting.”

Re:  Orlando mass shooting.  Somehow I got that one mixed up with the Stoneman Douglas (“Parkland”) High School shooting.  Unfortunately, and as noted, it’s been hard to keep track…

Re:  Trump blaming Obama, etc.  See also Donald Trump’s Response To The Orlando Shooting Was Downright HorrificTrump: Obama Was Maybe Involved in the Orlando Shooting, and Donald Trump Calls On Obama To Resign Over Orlando Shooting.

Re:  “Raptorman.”  He may have chosen his blog-name from a character in the film Full Metal Jacket.  I too thought the Marine photographer was “Raptorman,” but apparently it was “Rafter Man:”

In the book [The Short-Timers], “Rafter Man” got his name because during a striptease show in the mess hall, he got piss drunk and climbed into the rafters for a better view, then fell right onto a front row table of brass, spraying colonels and generals with their own beer.  The highest ranking general picked him up, then pulled up a chair and let Rafter Man sit with him, thereby impressing the other Marines.  The movie kept the nickname but didn’t bother with the back story.

See Full Metal Jacket – Meaning of the names rafterman and Animal Mother.  There is also a book Full Metal Jacket Diary, by Matthew Modine, who played “Joker” in the film.

Re:  Luke 6:38.  I used the GOD’S WORD® Translation in the main text.  Other translations:   “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you;”  “you’ll be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others;” and in the King James Bible – the one God uses – “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Then of course there’s also the Golden Rule, set out by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.  In the “negative form of the Golden Rule, or the “Silver Rule” as it is sometimes called,” the rule reads:  “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Then too there’s Karma

Re:   “Trump-humping evangelicals.”  See “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other, in my companion blog, featuring the image at left.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

On the THREE days of Hallowe’en…

“A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows…”

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Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpgMost people think Halloween is one day, October 31st.  But there are actually three days of “Hallowe’en.”  Or more precisely, Halloween is the first day of the Halloween “Triduum.”  (In the alternative Allhallowtide.) 

And Triduum is just a fancy Latin word for “three days.”

In turn the word “hallow” – in both “Hallowe’en” and “Allhallowtide” – came from the Old English word for “saint,” halig.  That eventually became “hallow.”  (Maybe because it was easier to say.)  Which led to November 1 now being called All Saints’ Day.  But to the Old English, “All Haligs’ Day” – November 1 – eventually became “All Hallows Day.”  Then the “eve” before that Feast Day – October 31 – became “All Hallows Evening.”  In time that shortened to “All Hallows E’en.”  And later still it shortened to “Hallowe’en,” then just plain Halloween.

Wikipedia said this three-day period is a “time to remember the dead, including martyrssaints, and all faithful departed Christians.”  The main day of the three is November 1, now called All Saints Day, but previously referred to as Hallowmas.  It was established sometime between 731 and 741 – over 1,300 years ago – “perhaps by Pope Gregory III.”

Put another way, November 1 honors “all the saints and martyrs, both known and unknown.”  In other words, special people in the Church.  (A saint is defined as having “having an exceptional degree of holiness,” while a martyr is someone “killed because of their testimony of Jesus.”)  On the other hand, November 2 – All Souls’ Day – was designed to honor “all faithful Christians … unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends.’”  In other words, the rest of us poor schmucks (Those of us who have died, that is.)

So back to Halloween:  It all started with an old-time belief that evil spirits were most prevalent during the long nights of winter.  The “old-timers” also thought the “barriers between our world and the spirit world” were at their its lowest and most permeable the night of October 31:

So, those old-time people would wear masks or put on costumes in order to disguise their identities.  The idea was to keep the afterlife “hallows” – ghosts or spirits – from recognizing the people in this, the “material world.”

Another thing they did was build bonfires, literally bonefires.  (That is, “bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned.”)  The original idea was that evil spirits had to be driven away with noise and fire.  But that evolved into this:  The “fires were thought to bring comfort to the souls in purgatory and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.”

There was another old-time custom, that if you had to travel on All Hallows E’en – like from 11:00 p.m. until midnight – your had to be careful.  If your candle kept burning, that was a good omen.  (The person holding the candle would be safe in the upcoming winter “season of darkness.”)  But if your candle went out, “the omen was bad indeed.”

The thought was that the candle had been blown out by witches

Then there were the pumpkins.  Apparently some other old-time people set out carved pumpkins on their windowsills, to keep “harmful spirits” out of their home.   But yet another tradition said  jack-o’-lanterns “represented Christian souls in purgatory.”  And while today jack-o’-lanterns are made from pumpkins, but were originally carved from large turnips.

In turn, both the jack-o’-lantern and Will-o’-the-wisp – at right, in a Japanese interpretation – are tied in with the strange ghostly light known as ignis fatuus.  (From the Medieval Latin for “foolish fire.”)  That refers to the “atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.  It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached:”

Tradition had it that this ghostly light – seen by travelers at night and “especially over bogs, swamps or marshes – resembled a flickering lamp.  The flickering lamp then receded if you approached it, and so it “drew travelers from their safe paths,” to their doom…

Finally we get to the third of the three-day holiday – November 2 – All Souls’ Day.  The original idea was to remember the souls of “the dear departed,” illustrated by the painting below.

“Observing Christians typically remember deceased relatives” on November 2.  The custom began in the sixth century with a Benedictine custom of commemorating deceased members of a given monastery at Whitsuntide.  (Or “Whit(e) Sunday,” also known as Pentecost, held 50 days after Easter Sunday.)  That changed in the 11th century when Saint Odilo of Cluny chose the day after All Souls Day to commemorate “all the faithful departed … with alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory.”

So there you have it.  In closing, here’s wishing you a happy three days of Hallowe’en. 

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Day of the Dead (1859).jpg

The “Three Days of Halloween” end on November 2, with All Souls’ Day …

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The upper image is courtesy of Allhallowtide – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows.  Flowers and lighted candles are placed by relatives on the graves of their deceased loved ones.”

The image of the jack-o’lantern is courtesy of Halloween – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “A jack-o’-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween representing the souls of the dead.”

The lower image is courtesy of All Souls’ Day – Wikipedia.  The caption: “All Souls’ Day by William Bouguereau.”   See also Allhallowtide, and All Saints’ Day – Wikipedia.

On Billy Graham – noted “Liberal?”

 Billy Graham (at right):  To some “rightist” Christians, Graham was way too “ecumenical…”

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Graham in a suit with his fist clenchedI learned something new about Billy Graham.  I learned that some far-right preachers compared him to the Antichrist

That is, lately I’ve been listening to the book-on-CD version of The Preacher and the Presidents:  Billy Graham in the White House(Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.)  I skipped over the early parts, about Graham when he was young and full of himself.  And way more conservative than he was in later life. 

Which is another way of saying that  – as he grew in age – Billy Graham “also grew in grace.”  (See 2d Peter 3:18.)

Graham eventually grew in grace so much that he came to believe that God loves all people – even Liberals.  Which led some fundamentalist Christians to criticize him “for his ecumenism, even calling him ‘Antichrist.’”  On that note, see Deuteronomy 19:16-19.

(Deuteronomy 19:16-19 says that if you accuse someone of a crime and he’s not guilty of it, you are punished as if you committed the crime yourself.  So if you accuse someone of being “Antichrist” and he’s not, you get punished as if you were the Antichrist.)   

But we digress…

That is, on the other hand Graham started out as a Biblical literalist.  That led to an early confrontation with fellow evangelist Charles Templeton.  It’s described at pages 2-4 of the “book book,” but you can see an Oniine version at Billy Graham and Charles Templeton:  The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists (See also Heresy in the Heartland: Charles Templeton.)   

In essence, it started with Templeton telling Graham:

Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation.  The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago;  it has evolved over millions of years.  It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.

Graham responded, “I don’t accept that…  I believe the Genesis [account and] I’ve discovered something in my ministry:  When I take the Bible literally …  my preaching has power.”

Nevertheless, this was the man some Christians called “Antichrist.”  It started as early as 1957, when – after a crusade in New York – some fundamentalist Protestant Christians criticized Graham for his “ecumenism.”

40 years later he continued to express inclusivist views.

That is, he dared suggest that some people without explicit faith in Jesus can be saved.  For example, in a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said:

I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. 

In response, Iain Murray – writing from a conservative Protestant standpoint – said “Graham’s concessions are sad words from one who once spoke on the basis of biblical certainties.”

2013-02-18-Graham.King.jpgBut see Why Do Liberals Love Billy Graham(HuffPost.)  An example:  He was asked about two candidates for president, one “more learned and qualified,” the other a devout Christian.  How would he vote?

I’d pick the experienced and confident one…  I don’t think that we should vote for a person just simply because he says he’s a Christian.  I think we need confident men of integrity in places of responsibility.  We are living in a secular society.  We have a separation of church and state in this country.

Graham added that he doesn’t “play God,” saying who is saved and who isn’t.  The article concluded that Graham “managed to achieve that rare balance of fierce conviction and humane humility…  He would not condemn.  His mission was to comfort and inspire.”

Which brings us back to Ecumenism.  It’s the effort “by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.”  (See also Is ecumenism biblical “Gotquestsions.org.”)  Which means we could use a good dose of “Billy Graham” today.

We could use a popular preacher who “doesn’t play God.”  We could use a popular preacher with “humane humility.”  We could use a popular preacher whom does not condemn, but rather focuses exclusively on comforting and inspiring.  We could use a popular preacher who wouldn’t vote for a man “just because he says he’s a Christian.”

That is, for another – broader – view more you could check Ecumenical Synonyms … Thesaurus.com.  Synonyms for “ecumenical” include open-mindedreceptivetolerantbroad-minded, unbigoted, charitableinclusiveand/or unprejudiced.  And they are good.

Because without such principles – without, for example, developing “closer relationships and better understandings” – you could end up with something like this:

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Billy Graham Bill Clinton – Image Results.  The photo is in “Billy Graham: Pastor to the Presidents – True Christian or FreeMason ‘Christian.'”  (From the “Orthodox Christian Channel.”)  The gist of the article was that Graham was a Mason.  Among the quotes:  

Billy Graham called Bill and Hillary “wonderful friends” and a “great couple.”  Billy Graham also had former country and western superstar Johnny Cash, known to be a Mason, perform at his crusades on numerous occasions.  

The images in the main text are courtesy of the linked-articles in the adjacent paragraph.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian, which featured the image.