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.
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.
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.)
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.“
Super Bowl LVI – “56” – is now history. Which means that today there are undoubtedly some LA Ram fans who think their team won because of something they did. On the flip side, there are doubtless some Bengal fans asking, “Why did my team lose? What did I do wrong?”
Which reminds me of the 2017* Super Bowl, when I found myself asking that same question.
Five years ago – in 2017 – I did a post on Super Bowl LI (51). In that game, “some clown named Tom Brady” led the New England Patriots to “the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.” Which is another way of saying my favorite NFL team – in the Super Bowl at that time – blew a 28–3 lead. (“My” Atlanta Falcons led 28–3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.)
I felt at the time that – needless to say – there were some Patriot fans who thought their team won because of something they did. The flip side back then was that among Falcon fans, some were undoubtedly asking, “Why did they lose? What did I do wrong?” And – I’m a bit embarrassed to say – I was one of the latter. Which brings up the topic of “sports fan superstitions.”
For one example, see Two-thirds of sports fans are superstitious about game days. (The article added, “40% think a family member is bad luck!”) Dated November 2021, the post noted a survey that said “3 in 5 sports fans have blamed themselves following a loss by their favorite sports team.” So if I was being weird back in 2017, I wasn’t the only one.
In that 2017 post, I had my own game-time ritual all set. However, it got messed up by the lady I was dating at the time. The thing is, after many years of aggravation I had decided, “No more watching games on TV showing any team that I care about.” That became a big part of my game-time ritual – for teams I cared about – and it seemed to be “ritually efficacious.” It seemed to help my teams play better, and was way less aggravating for me. In turn, in 2017’s Super Bowl 51, that formula worked out well – for the first two and a half quarters…
We – or at least I – deliberately didn’t watch the game on TV. The lady and I went out to a movie, then to a late dinner, but every once in a while I’d sneak a peek at the game progress. The Falcons were doing unexpectedly well. Then we adjourned to her house, and I suggested we play cards. (To pass “game time.”) Then came my big mistake.
The Falcons had been winning big, but then we decided to stop playing cards and check out the game on TV. Which we did, but then it wasn’t long before the Patriots starting coming back. At that point I suggested – rather strongly – that we turn off the TV and go back to playing cards. But the lady said no, she was “invested.” Then the comeback – or “choke,” to Falcon fans – started in earnest, so I started begging her to turn off the TV and go back to playing cards. (“Bad karma,” or something like that.) She ignored my pleas, and that led ultimately – in the fullness of time – to the Falcons going on to suffer that biggest “choke” in Super Bowl history…
But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part came when she had the nerve to say, “You don’t seriously believe that us turning off the TV would change the outcome of the game, do you?”
Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. [E.A.]
In other words, Moses “helped” his team in the same way that many modern sports fans help their teams win. (Mirrored by some fans who feel guilty because of something they didn’t do, or did wrong, or jinxed their team, or otherwise caused their team to lose.)
Which raises the question: Suppose Moses had listened to “logic and reason?” Or suppose his wife had come up the mountain and said to him, “Moses, you look ridiculous. Do you honestly think that holding your hands up like that is going to change the outcome of the battle?”
The short answer? The world as we know it would be much different. If nothing else, had the Amalekites beaten the Children of Israel, world history would be “worse, much worse.” Moses would never have had the chance to write – or at least finish – the first five books of the Bible, that “most influential, most published, most widely read book in the history of the world.”
So one point of all this is that devoted sport-fans love to think that if their team wins, they – the fans – helped out. (Through their rituals, their “lucky shirts” and the like.) But in doing so they aren’t acting any stranger or more weird than Moses did back at the Battle of Rephidim.
Of course there are skeptics. Like Faulty logic: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc « Gotham Skeptic: “It’s a natural tendency for people to make connections between events. ‘When I do this, that happens…’ Primitive people developed superstitions in similar ways.”In doing so, Mr. Snide-remark Skeptic not-so-subtly compared modern fans to “primitive people.” And by extension he compared Moses to those “primitives” as well, most likely because he didn’t know his Bible…
Either way, Moses seems to have used just that kind of “post hoc” logical fallacy at the Battle of Rephidim. “Hmmm. When I hold my hands up, my Israelites start winning the battle. But if I let my hands down, they start losing. Gosh, I wonder what I’ll do?” And as has been noted, “events that occur in succession may well be causally related, but they may also be completely unrelated.” In Moses’ case, I’m glad he didn’t take any chances. I’m glad he went with his gut.
The good news is that in the fullness of time, he redeemed himself, at least to me. That is, after he broke the hearts of all those Falcon fans in 2017 – including me – I really didn’t like him too much. In fact, I never liked him or the Patriots all that much. The combination of the two – like Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators* – was just too obnoxious. But then, a miracle…
You see, before moving to the Atlanta area in 2010, I lived in Florida’s Tampa Bay area for some 50 years, starting in 1956. Which means I was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan for way longer – since 1976 – than I’ve been a Falcon fan. But after their breakthrough Super Bowl win in 2003, the Bucs suffered a long, 17-year “playoff drought.” They “would not win another playoff game until their second Super Bowl championship season in 2020.*”
And how did that happen? How did that drought end? A big part of it happened in March 2020, when Tom Brady officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And then, less than a year later, he led my beloved Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl win, in a 31-9 “butt-kicking of Biblical proportions.” So the good news? “Tom Brady, all is forgiven…”
A note about the 2022 Super Bowl. In a big sense, I didn’t have a dog in that fight. I was kind of hoping the Bengals would win, both because a lot of friends and relatives have them as their favorite teams, and because the &^%$ Rams beat my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other hand, as a Buc fan I can now say, “Well, we lost, but only to the team that went on to win the Super Bowl…”
The “2017” Super Bowl. That game was played on February 5, 2017, to “determine the champion of the National Football League (NFL) for the 2016 season.”In the same way, the Buccaneers capped their championship 2020 season in the Super Bowl played on February 7, 2021.
Re: “Jinxing.” The link is to 20 Ways to Successfully Jinx a Sports Team. Among the ways: Forget to wear something lucky, leave a game early, or “talk serious trash.”The writer, from the Cleveland area, said, “I have yet to see any of my favorite teams hoist a championship trophy in my lifetime, and can recall plenty of times when I’ve truly believed to have jinxed one – or all – of them in a loss.”
Re: The Bible as “most influential, the most published, the most widely read book in the history of the world,” see Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One), Avenel Books (1981), at page 7.
The quote beginning “Superstition is a large part” referred back to Super Bowl XLVIII, between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos:
Superstition is a large part of a fan’s repertoire these days, especially when the home team is in Super Bowl XLVIII today… Kenny Shisler has similar superstitions. The lifelong Broncos fan said he will wear Broncos gear all week long, but refuses to do so on game day… “Like the Bud Light commercials [say], ‘It’s only weird if it doesn’t work…’”
A nice lady from Iowa recently asked me, “What is voter suppression?”
I hemmed and hawed a bit, mostly because I figured most voter suppression is aimed at black voters. However, there aren’t many black people in Iowa,* so I had to come up with an answer that was “case specific.” That is, I had to frame it in a way that made sense to someone with her “purer” mindset. That is, to someone not that familiar with “diversity.” Which turned out to be way more complicated and time-consuming than I thought.
So in the meantime I offer up this reprise of “Nell Gwynn, Protestant Whore.”
Briefly, England’s Puritans under Oliver Cromwell – seen at left – executed Charles II’s father (Charles I) in 1649. Son Charles fled to a long exile in France, and 11 years later – after Cromwell died – the English people were heartily sick of Cromwell’s Puritan regime. They welcomed back Charles II with “tumultuous acclaim.”
That is, the Puritan Regime under Oliver Cromwell had “imposed a very strict moral code upon the people.” One result: People having too much fun – or any – ended up “reported by friends, neighbors, and their own children.” (Basically, for dancing, play-acting, kissing on the Sabbath… In short, “gaiety of any kind” was severely punished.)
Then Charles II got restored to the throne, and naturally there was some lingering concern. The new administration was concerned about people who weren’t loyal to the new king, because – after all – such people had executed the new king’s father. So in the era that followed, the best way to prove loyalty was “to have fun.” To enjoy yourself, and if you really wanted to prove to the new world order that you were “not now and never have been” a member of the Puritan Party, committing adultery was the most convenient way to prove it. (Said Harry:)
If a man and a woman were on a journey and they suspected the coachman of being a Government agent, they went to all sorts of extremes to prove their “loyalty” and throw the fellow off… And so when the coachman peeked, and saw what was going on back there, he shrugged his shoulders; “Those people are all right, they ain’t no Puritans.”
One estimate said Charles II had 14 Mistresses, by whom he fathered 11 children. Nell Gwynn was but one, but the only faithful one. According to the site below, Gwynn “met Charles when she was just 17 and was faithful to him not just until his death, but afterward too.”
It seems that in 1681, Gwynn was passing through Oxford in a stylish coach. An anti-Catholic mob “besieged” the coach, mistaking her “for a Catholic rival in the king’s bed.” They started screaming at “the Catholic whore,” at which point Gwyn “popped her head out of the carriage window and assured the mob, ‘Good people, you are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore!'” Whereupon the mob cheered – “lustily?” – and let Gwynn “carry on her way.”
Which naturally gave rise to a whole lot of quasi-religious hypocrisy:
One may easily see how desire for office or promotion led to hypocrisy. If sour looks, upturned eyes, nasal twang, speech garnished with Old Testament texts, were means to favor, there were others who could assume them besides those naturally afflicted with such habits.
Back in March 2016 I asked, “Does any of this sound familiar?” And in closing I noted one of Harry Golden’s main points, that history repeats itself in cycles. Which led to the question:
Re: Black people in Iowa. According to Iowa Population demographics 2020, 2019, African-Americans make up two percent of Iowa’s population. (Which is 91% white, with “Hispanic or Latino” as the second-largest racial group.) Compare that with Georgia – where I’ve lived for 10 years now – which has a black population of 32.6 percent. (While “Non-Hispanic Whites” make up only 50.1 percent of the population – a bare majority – compared to Iowa’s 91 percent white population.)
Re: Number of “kingly” mistresses. According to the link in the main text, the record for most mistresses goes to King Henry I, who had twenty-two. And the site Henry I of England – Wikipedia listed nine illegitimate sons and 15 possible illegitimate daughters.
The “hypocrisy – sour looks” quote comes from the book by Winston S. Churchill, “The New World.” (Volume Two of a four-volume series, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Chapter XX, “The Lord Protector.” See also Chapter XXII, “The Merry Monarch,” which told of the relief the English felt when Charles II took “a mistress from the people,” Gwynn, and further that the King’s example “spread far and wide,” demonstrating a “sense of relief from the tyranny of the Puritans.” (More prescience?)
It’s the beginning of January, 2022, just after New Year’s Day. Which makes this a good time to look back on 2021, and – in my case – back on some draft posts I never finished.
One such project – last revised on January 24, 2021 – I tentatively called, “Flag distress, etc.” (And that’s why I call it a draft. A “place to make mistakes, to try out new ideas, to explore variations on existing ideas.”) It had to do with Trump supporters flying the American flag upside down, explained below. But for some reason I started the draft post off like this: “Thank you, Donald, for just giving me the lede to this new post: Trump shuns ex-presidents club.” Along with a note that “for the uninitiated, this highly-exclusive club is – or was – made up of five men:”
After serving the highest office of American government, five men – Jimmy Carter, the late George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – became members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity. In Team of Five, Kate Andersen Brower [offers] a glimpse into the complex relationships of these five former presidents, and how each of these men views his place in a nation that has been upended by the Oval Office’s current, norm-breaking occupant, President Donald Trump.
Incidentally, the full book citation is Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump. The book itself is said to offer a “poignant, news-making look at the lives of the five former presidents in the wake of their White House years, including the surprising friendships they have formed through shared perspective and empathy.” Unsurprisingly, that group of five former presidents does not include Donald Trump. (Perhaps by mutual consent, if not relief.)
Another note: It’s now a group of four, since George H. W. Bush died on November 30, 2018. And Jimmy Carter is now a ripe old 97 years of age. (“Bless his heart,” as we say in Georgia. And see also my last post, “Will I REALLY live to 120,” as to my own aspirations in that area.)
I never dreamt that the answer would be “Donald Trump.”
Which brings us back to those upside-down American flags. I saw an example of the phenomenon just after the Biden Inauguration: “A lifted-up Georgia pickup truck with two American flags, with both of them flying upside down. I assume the driver was a Trump supporter, so I Googled ‘upside down american flag distress.’” And found out that an upside-down American flag was designed to be a signal of “Dire distress and extreme danger to life or property.” But it’s also been used as a signal of protest, which to me brought up this thought, last year at this time: “No doubt the same people now flying the American flag upside down complained most loudly about professional athletes kneeling down during the National Anthem.”
Then again, it turns out that some people back in 2017 were Flying The Flag Upside Down To Protest Trump. As in, “to protest Trump’s being president.” So I guess that’s why the call it “Freedom of Speech.” On that note, I can say – freely and without hesitation – that Donald Trump is my favorite EX-president. (And I hope he stays that way.)
* * * *
On a happier but likely unrelated note, I started another draft post in January 2021, “On the Beatles in Hamburg.” (Last modified January 30, 2021.) That started with me watching England, the 1960s, and the Triumph of the Beatles | Wondrium. (An online course offering “a fresh look at how a pop band became one of the most compelling voices against the status quo.”)
The upper image is courtesy of Book review: “The Presidents Club” (Washington Post), with the full caption: “From left, George H.W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, 2009. (NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST).”
The lower image is courtesy of The Beatles in Hamburg – Wikipedia. Some notes, for use in a future post: The “Reeperbahn” was one of a number of German “dives” where the band performed. Also, “German customers found the group’s name comical, as “Beatles” sounded like Low German: ‘Piedel,’ which is an infantile word for penis.” On a similar note, “the only women who hung around [those] clubs late at night were strippers, dancers, or prostitutes. Harrison (who was then only 17) called Hamburg “the naughtiest city in the world.”
A further note: It took me awhile to find a good definition for dive bar, like the kind the Beatles performed at in Hamburg, “typically a small, unglamorous, eclectic, old-style bar with inexpensive drinks, which may feature dim lighting, shabby or dated decor, neon beer signs, packaged beer sales, cash-only service, and a local clientele.” However, in Hamburg, each such “Beatles” club had a doorman “whose job was to entice customers inside, as the drinks were expensive.”
He’s absolutely professional. When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone. He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do… He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself… He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it. There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth. And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.
I added that “supping with your enemies” is something we should bring back: “We could use a bit more professionalism in today’s politics.”
Naturally I found some errors in the initial author’s copy version. Like in the paperback, Kindle Direct Publishing had to reformat the manuscript I uploaded. In the original Microsoft Word format, the paperback came out to 102 pages, but as reformatted it came out to 161 pages. There’s more on those boring details in the notes, but the point here is that after publishing the book, I happened on to a bunch of other stuff – web articles – about making it to 120.
Like How to Live to Be 120 – WebMD. Posted in 2000, the article noted the work of Roy Walford, professor emeritus of pathology at UCLA. Walford claimed that “calorie restriction with optimal nutrition (what he calls the CRON diet) can help people live for 120 years — possibly even longer.” See also CRON-diet – Wikipedia, which described it as a nutrient-rich, reduced calorie diet that involves “calorie restriction in the hope that the practice will improve health and retard aging, while still attempting to provide the recommended daily amounts of various nutrients.”
Unfortunately, the good doctor Walford died in 2004. And since he was born in 1924, that means he only lived to 80 years old. (10 years from now for me.) Which doesn’t necessarily mean his ideas are all wrong. For one thing, he suffered some trauma that most people are able to avoid. (Like me and Moses.*) “An adventurer as well as a scientist,” Walford was perhaps best known for his “two-year stint in Biosphere 2, the utopian greenhouse experiment in self-sustenance.” But the Biosphere experiment took a serious physical toll on Walford’s health:
Working six days a week in the fields left him with an injured back that ultimately required surgery. Worse, he suffered nitrous oxide poisoning because the structure’s glass enclosure prevented ultraviolet light from penetrating and dissipating the gas, an agricultural byproduct. The resulting nerve damage has made it difficult for Walford to walk.
For myself, my back is fine, it’s been a long time (if ever) since I worked six days in a field, and I’ve avoided nitrous oxide poisoning. (So far.) In fact, as noted repeatedly in the “Turning 70” book, I can still stair-step 30 minutes at a time, four days a week. but wait, there’s more!
I do all that stair-stepping wearing a 30-pound weight vest and ten pounds of ankle weights. Which is why I – like Dr. Walford – can afford what I call “splurge days.” Like the one I enjoyed last Thanksgiving – and gained two pounds. But next day it was back to my regular diet, including a breakfast “kale and spinach omelette,” sprinkled with wheat germ and flax seed.*
Americans are saying that they want to live longer than the average American, but they don’t want to become centenarians. They want to live 11 years longer than today’s average American, but they claim that their competitive spirit will disappear…
For myself, I’ll try to keep my competitive edge as long as possible. (With “vigorous intensity” stair-stepping and eating things like a kale-and-spinach omelette for breakfast. And not end up like the other old geezers at right…)
The article reviewed a book on supercentenarians – those significantly over the age of 100 – and added this: “On average, middle-aged people today can expect to live 120 years; the elderly can expect to live to 100; and younger people can expect to live beyond 120 years.” And just for the record, I would put anyone who stair-steps with a 30-pound weight vest and ten-pound ankle weights as more toward the “middle-aged” side of the scale. (Certainly not “elderly.”)
Then there’s We’ll soon all live to 120 years old – but this is probably the absolute limit, claims expert. Back in 2014, “Professor” Colin Blakemore said the number of people living past 100 soared by 71 per cent in the preceding decade. (From 2004 to 2014.) But his claims – that 120 is the absolute limit – “contradict those made previously by researchers at Buck Institute of Age Research, Novato, California earlier this year.” (The article gave his title as “Professor Sir Blakemore,” but the heck with that; this is America.)
On the other hand, there’s Humans Could Live up to 150 Years, New Research Suggests. Posted in May 2021, the article noted a study using a “predictable pace of decline” to determine when the human body’s “resilience” would disappear entirely, leading to death. (Resilience being the body’s ability to recover from a “disruption.”) The possible good news? (For me?) Researchers found a range of 120 to 150 years, noting also that in 1997, “Jeanne Calment, the oldest person on record to have ever lived, died in France at the age of 122.”
And finally, there’s the book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old, by Deepak Chopra. I have the Harmony Books paperback, originally published in 1993. The good friend who gave me the book had a marker at pages 318-319, “The Timeless Way.” That’s where Chopra noted three forces that pervade all life: creation, maintenance and destruction. And he added that as long as “creation dominates your existence, you will keep growing and evolving. Evolution thwarts entropy, decay, and aging.”
Another note: Chopra noted that the most creative people – those who tend to live the longest – share certain traits. Among those traits: Creative people are able to “contact and enjoy silence.” (Like me.) Also, they can “remain centered and function amid confusion and chaos.” Which I’ve been able to do – most of the time – during these last troubling two years or so. “They are childlike – they enjoy fantasy and play.” And finally, “They are not rigidly attached to any point of view: Although passionately committed to their creativity, they remain open to new possibilities.”
This is harder than you might realize. By the time we reach adulthood we are so full of information that we don’t even notice it’s there. We might consider ourselves to be open-minded, but in fact, everything we learn is filtered through many assumptions and then classified to fit into the knowledge we already possess.
I’m betting that I can, and the bet is supported by statistics showing “by 2050 there will be seven times as many people aged 100 or older.” Since I plan to be one of them, I’m paying WAY more attention to diet and supplements – along with keeping up a vigorous exercise program. And now, you too can get in on the bet. Years from now you might look back and see just how this author stayed so fit, cheerful and young at heart. Or you might end up saying, “What a dumbass. He wasn’t even CLOSE!” Like, if I got run over by a truck tomorrow.
Either way, it should be interesting. Stay tuned!!!
Re: “More boring details.” Another note: To get to that 100 pages I added some posts from this and my companion blog. But since the updated version totaled 160 pages, I may take some of them out – in the paperback version. I also have to go back and re–number the table of contents. Also, I just found out this morning that in the book I wrote about going to my grandson’s high school graduation “in 2106.” I meant to write 2016. A friend I gave the book to pointed that out.
Re: “Me and Moses.” Most people reading that sentence will say automatically, “Oh no, that should be ‘Moses and I.'” But years ago I discovered a simple rule to get the right grammar. Take out the “other guy” and repeat the sentence. In this case, talking about Professor Walford suffering “some trauma that most people are able to avoid. (Like me and Moses.)” If you say “able to avoid, like me,” that sounds better than “able to avoid, like I.” On the other hand you wouldn’t say, “Me went down to the lake,” just as you shouldn’t say “Me and Johnny went down to the lake.” Is that simple, or what?
Re: “Kale and spinach omelette.” Technically an omelette has two or more eggs, plural. I have one egg for breakfast, but figured I had to dumb it down, like Moses and Jesus and Paul had to do…
“Healthspan” is the part of a person’s life during which they are generally in good health. See also The Free Dictionary, which defines it as “a period of good health in a person’s life.”
Re: “Will want to live.” The full cite is You Will Want To Live To 120 Years Old | Advice | Travels. The article talks about the dichotomy mentioned in the main text, along with this: That nearly twice as many people (14% versus 8%) would rather die before 79 years old than live to be over 100. For one thing, I doubt that those in that 14% are even close to being 79…
Re: The Israelite. Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thus the “Carolina Israelite.” I on the other hand am a “classic 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”
Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today. He still got a kick out of life. For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.
Last September I spent a month in France and Spain. Mostly to hike over the Pyrenees Mountain part of the Camino Frances. When I got back home I did posts on arriving in Paris, taking the train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and from there hiking some 177 miles in 17 days. I got the Faithful Reader as far as Pamplona, on September 4. (After arriving in Paris early on the morning of August 26.)
Incidentally, the image at right is from the BULLFIGHTING MUSEUM … Plaza de Toros in Pamplona. And speaking of which, in my last Camino-post I wrote that in the next post I’d discuss more about our day off in Pamplona, “including a touristy visit to the bullring that Hemingway made famous.”
Then I said I’d discuss the 14-day hike to Burgos – with a day off in Logrono – and eventually about making my way back home, via Madrid. (On September 24, 2021.) I added:
I’ll also talk more about the drudgery of hiking, mile after mile, hauling a 15-pound backpack. From my Facebook posts most people would think all I did was drink beer, have great meals and enjoy the sights. “Tra-la-tra-la-tra-la!” But there was real drudgery involved, which seems to be where the spiritual breakthroughs happen… In the meantime, Buen Camino!
And here’s another news flash. In this post I’m only able to get the Faithful Reader as far as Logrono. That’s still 75 miles worth of Camino-hiking to Burgos. And Burgos is where I left the party to head for home, via Madrid, while the other three kept on hiking to Santiago.*
But now I’m back home and “back on the Camino,” if only in spirit. And taking up where I left off, I’ll start back with our first day off, on September 5, after hiking over the Pyrenees. (Eventually I’ll get to the spiritual breakthrough part.) Not surprisingly, that Sunday in Pamplona we slept a bit late, after hiking ten-and-a-half, 13-and-a-half, and 13 miles the previous three days. (A mere five miles on the first day, but it was all uphill.)
Which meant we had a late lunch…
Which brings up how they make hamburgers in Spain. They call them hamburguesas, and they usually come with an egg on top. (A “huevo,” shown above left, along with lots of fatty bacon.) Back home I try to eat healthy, which normally means little or no beef. However, after four days on the Camino – hiking over steep mountains – I was ready for a change. As I wrote later:
I finally broke down and had an Hamburguesa. I told the waiter, “No huevo” – an egg, like they love in Spain on their burgers – but I got the (silly) huevo anyway. At the restaurant in the Plaza del Castillo, next door to the Cafe Iruna.
By the way, I also had two “grande cervezas,” Amstel draft beers. Aside from that we also checked out the route of the Running of the bulls. (Which happened in July. “Dang, we missed it!”) Starting with a pen on the outskirts where the bulls are first gathered and then let loose, to run up the sectioned-off streets to the Plaza del Toros. Two hiking companions and I – Tom’s wife Carol and her brother Ray – paid six euros each to do the tour of the famous bullring.
“Very comprehensive.” For one thing we learned that they pay great attention to the minutest detail, down to exactly the right kind, color and texture of the sand covering the inside of the bullring. (Along with having to have “good drainage.”) Like I said, very impressive.
But mostly we relaxed. In part because starting the next day – Monday, September 6 – we were set to hike six straight days. (59 miles.) But as long as we’re talking about Pamplona, I should say a word or two about the Café Iruña, of Hemingway fame. At least in September 2021, the place was “all crowded and touristy.” Partly because you weren’t allowed to sit inside, where all the “color” is. And our waiter was kind of rude. But the nap we all took later helped out a lot.
There was one other episode of note. We did laundry every night, since we carried only two sets of clothes in our “10 percent of body weight” backpacks. (One set for hiking in and one for relaxing in at night. With some variation, like my bathing suit that could serve as a second pair of shorts, or underwear if need be.) And on this Sunday in Pamplona we also did our wash, and hung our clothes on the lines just outside the windows looking out onto an “atrium” or central court. Then about 6:15 the doorbell rang, as we were relaxing. The guy from the apartment above explained that his wife dropped her bra while hanging it on the line outside their window. As it turned out, it landed on the line where our laundry was hanging.
Being ever the gentleman, I retrieved it. “Always glad to help out a lady in distress…“
* * * *
Leaving Pamplona, we headed for the Hotel Jakue in Puente la Reina. (“Queen’s Bridge.”) On the way we hiked up to and over the Alto de Perdon (“Hill of Forgiveness”), some eight or nine miles out of Pamplona. (With its “remarkable steel sculpture of pilgrims on the road to Santiago” and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.)
Google Maps says it’s a 14-mile hike from Pamplona to Puente la Reina, but Brierly* says it’s more like 16 miles. (On the Camino.) Either way, we only made it as far as Uterga, some 11 miles from Pamplona. We started late, about 9:00 a.m., a practice we changed as the hike went on. (From that point on we started getting up at 5:30 a.m., mostly because of that first and only time we took a taxi. And felt guilty about it.)
It turned out there were only two places to stop for a drink or whatever the whole 11 miles. One was in Zariquiegui, seven miles out of Pamplona. The other was in Uterga, and by the time we got there it was 6:30 p.m. Which meant five miles left for us to hike in the fading twilight. Thus the feeling guilty, and later getting up at 5:30 and starting the day’s hike in the dark.
But that didn’t happen until the following Thursday and Friday, September 9 and 10.
Tom’s original plan was to hike to Muruzabal, the next town after Uterga, that Monday. But he found out via Wi-Fi – always spotty on the Camino – that the place in Muruzabal cancelled on him. (That happened a lot this trip, which kept Tom constantly checking the reservations he’d made.) Then there was the taxi ride from Uterga to Pamplona. (Where Tom made an alternate reservation.) But as it turned out, that re-assignment to Pamplona cut out miles from Tuesday’s hike. (Back home I tried to figure out exactly how many, but for now I’ll let the Reader do the math, if “they” so choose. It’s enough to say it made a big difference on Tuesday’s hike.)
And now a word about those mileage calculations. The Brierly guidebook sets out distances in kilometers, with one page generally representing a hike of 15 miles per day. But being in a small, 4.5 x 7.5-inch format, the maps are far from being accurate in scale. Then there were side trips. As an alternative, Carol kept count of “steps walked,” on her fancy-schmancy wrist watch. (Which also had GPS, which quite often helped us better find the lodging on a given night, usually a rental apartment with no “outward and visible sign” of its location.)
For myself, I kept count of “minutes spent actually hiking.” (Via my own wrist watch, a ten-dollar much-less-fancy-schmancy Walmart special.) So for the 10.9 miles we spent hiking on Monday, I listed 230 minutes of actual hiking. That system worked well for the 2017 and 2019 Camino hikes, but for some reason this year we took a whole lot more “standing stops,” especially when we were hiking up to and over the Pyrenees. But for that system to accurately reflect a medium intensity aerobic workout, you have to go at it for at least ten minutes straight. So, to make up for the frequent standing stops this trip, I’d walk a certain number of paces – after each stop – before starting up the stop-watch again.
Which is relevant to me but boring to you, so let’s get back to “Camino 2021…”
Tuesday we left the Hotel Jakue* in Puente la Reina and hiked about 8.5 miles to the Casa Nahia in Lorca. (I had it as 130 minutes of actual hiking, with “lots of breaks.”) And for the first time on this trip we finally found a place in the morning for a place to stop and get a cafe con leche, in Maneru. Wednesday was a short day, a little over five miles hiking to Estella. We were able to check in a 3:00, so I took a nap and did some yoga. We had dinner at 6:30 in the Estella town plaza, packed and busy. “Lots of people promenading, kids playing soccer, cute girls roller skating.” Definitely a pleasant dinner, but “tomorrow, a long day, up at 5:30 a.m.”
And by the way, I realize this post is way longer than I like to do normally, but I’m trying to get at least to Logrono, on Saturday, September 11. Besides, I figure on using these posts for a new book I’ll start writing in 2022. On all three Camino hikes, 2017, 2019 and 2021, so bear with me…
Getting back to the Camino, on Thursday, September 9, we got up at 5:30 and left Estella while it was still dark. (And took some wrong turns getting out of the city.) We hiked from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. That nine hours on the trail I calculated as 220 minutes actual hiking. (Three hours and 40 minutes, which gives you an idea of the discrepancy.) That day there was a long stretch of nothing. After seven hours hiking, with no place to stop and get a drink, we ran across what seemed to be a mirage; too good to be true. Complete strangers handing out free water…
The Brierly guidebook shows a “Cafe movil” some seven hours out of Estella and about 3.8 miles short of Los Arcos, our goal for the day. The one place to stop came right at the start of the day’s hike, at the Irache Wine Fountain – the “Fuente de Irache” – a mere half-mile or so out of Estella. (The “owners of Bodegas Irache have kindly put a wine fountain, so that pilgrims can serve themselves a free glass of red wine to help them on their way.”) I added a smidge – or more precisely, a dram – of wine to my water bottle: 1) I didn’t want to get too tipsy on the long day’s hike ahead, and 2) in compliance with 1st Timothy 5:23.
Other than that there was no place to stop for seven long hours of hiking. (We went through some villages that had cafes open in 2017, but this year they were closed for the COVID.) Then too, when we got to where Brierly listed a “mobile cafe,” it wasn’t there. What was there was a group of three people, as noted, handing out free cold water. (See “The Camino provides.”) And one of them was “Sweet Katie from Alabama,” pictured at the bottom of the main text. Katie and her co-workers were from the “Pilgrim’s Oasis” in Viana, Spain. See Pilgrims’ Oasis – Home | Facebook. And Viana was a mere six miles shy of Logrono, where this post ends.
Katie and I had a nice long chat. (For one thing it was nice to talk to someone outside the group who also spoke English.) She was 33, had been married but no kids, and was now divorced. She was in Spain for three weeks or so, volunteering to help out at Pilgrim’s Oasis. I noticed a tiger on her ball cap so I said, “You’re an Auburn fan?” She answered, “Only somebody from the South would know that.” All things considered that free cold water and nice chat with a lady from Back Home definitely lifted my spirits – after that long seven hours of hiking, with “nary a place to stop for a cold drink.” I took a couple pictures of her – she could have been a model – with the one below showing her charming someone else. (One of the local Guardia Civil, stopping by to check out the situation. “Wait. You’re giving out free cold water?”)
* * * *
So anyway, that Thursday the 9th, we hiked from Los Arcos to Viana. 11.4 miles or 220 minutes of actual hiking time. The day was mostly overcast, with some sprinkles of rain. Once again we got up at 5:30, in the dark, and reached the apartment in Viana at 1:52 p.m. I won the draw and so got a room to myself. (The others shared a room or slept on the living room couch.) Then too there was a mini-bar, with four cold beers that cost only a euro apiece. “I’m in heaven!”
Which is almost a pretty good place to stop. Except to say that Saturday’s hike from Viana to Logrono was a mere six miles, which gave us time to stop by the Pilgrim’s Oasis in Viana and say hello to Katie one more time. (Before she left for Back Home in a week or so.) And we got to stay in Logrono for a well-deserved day off from hiking, after six days straight. In the next – and hopefully final – post on this year’s Camino adventure, I plan to get the Faithful Reader from Logrono to Burgos, and from there down to Madrid. At which point I’d have to take another COVID test within 72 hours of my flight home. And if I failed that test I would find out what it means to be quarantined in Spain for 14 days. In the meantime:
For more on the four days in Paris, see A post-trip post mortem for “Paris – 2021.”About visiting the Picasso Museum, and the outer part of the being-rebuilt Notre Dame cathedral, and getting the Covid test – required to get on a train – at a sidewalk clinic just off the Pont Neuf on the Left Bank.
Re: “170 miles in 17 days for me,” and leaving for home in Burgos. I had already hiked the Camino from Pamplona to Santiago in 2017, as noted in previous posts. Thus I finished my portion of the hike, in Burgos, on Sunday, September 19, while the other three finished up in Santiago de Compostela on October 26.
Re: 10 percent of body weight. The link is to 10 Essential Tips for Hiking the Camino de Santiago, including “the weight of your backpack should not exceed 10 percent of your body weight. Keep in mind that the magic “10 percent” number includes your water for the day, so factor in a bit of wiggle room.” In my case, my backpack should not have weighed over 14.5 pounds, including water.
Re: 1st Timothy 5:23. “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”And of course as a prophylactic precaution against snake bite…
* * * *
Here are some other notes from earlier posts I did on the trip:
I flew into Paris last August 25, 2021. I spent four days there, meeting up with three other family members on the 28th. After that the four of us took a train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, starting point for the Camino Frances. From there we started a long hike over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. (170 miles in 17 days for me.*) On the second day’s hike “we got up fairly early for the remaining 10.5-mile hike to Roncesvalles. (A ‘small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain.’) On the Route de Napoleón it’s about five miles past the border with France. From Roncesvalles we hiked 13.6 miles to Zubiri on Friday, September 3, and on Saturday the 13 miles to Pamplona.”
That pilgrimage-by-hiking usually ends at Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain. But I stopped in Burgos, thus finishing the unfinished business of not hiking over the daunting Pyrenees back in 2017. I detailed that accomplishment in Hiking over the Pyrenees … finally, but in that October 16 post only got as far as Pamplona.
In my last post I promised more posts on my September ’21 European adventure. (Including a 17-day hike over the Pyrenees section of the Camino de Santiago.) But I also noted that I’ve been working on anotherproject, an E-book about turning 70 in 2021. (Adding that I have to finish soon, “because turning 70 is like losing your virginity: ‘You can only do it once!‘”)
On that point, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the book is almost ready to publish – in E-book and paperback formats. (Which I hope will happen this weekend; no later than November 21.*) The bad news is that I haven’t had a chance to do another post at all, since after last October 30. (Almost three weeks ago, and that was on Holden Caulfield.) So “What I’m gonna did” – as Justin Wilson would say – is review a relevant post from the past.
It didn’t take long to find one, and a troubling one at that. In a post from last January 10, 2021, I asked a rhetorical question, “You DO understand that Trump is temporary?” But after reviewing that post – and events of the last few months – I then had to add, “Or maybe not?”
That’s “maybe not,” as in Trump seeming to rise from the political ashes, not unlike the proverbial Phoenix. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say rising again, like a &^%$ Zombie. (Which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as a frightening creature, a seemingly dead person “brought back to life, but without humanqualities.*” And Zombies are said to be unable to think and are often shown “as attacking and eatinghumanbeings.”) But on to that last-January post…
* * * *
I posted “You DO understand” on January 10, 2021, just four days after the events of Wednesday, January 6, 2021. That day Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) called them the “‘Banana Republic Crap’ Capitol Riots,” and asked Donald Trump to stop the chaos. “You are the only person who can call this off. Call it off. The election is over. Call it off.”
I wrote that the following days – Thursday and Friday – things started looking up. That former Trump allies were saying “enough is enough,” that 52 rioters had been arrested, and that even some staunch Republican Senators were “open to impeachment oruse of the Twenty-fifth Amendment.” I also noted, “Right now I wouldn’t want to be in Donald Trump’s shoes.”
Why? Because the metaphoric “noose” is tightening around his neck ever so slowly, but surely, in an agonizing foretaste of what’s in store once he leaves the protection of his office. (See “The rope has to tighten SLOWlY,” vis-a-vis what “Deep Throat” told reporter Bob Woodward about the 1974 conspiracy investigation against then-president Richard Nixon.)
But alas, I may have been premature.
For example, I wrote almost a year ago that there might be a positive note: That the reaction to Trump’s presidency might “provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.” Which hasn’t happened yet.
I also noted that the number-crunching on the 2016 election showed “how fragile Trump’s hold on the public is.” To which I added, “I’ve been saying the best weapon against Trump is his own big mouth.” Not to mention his hubris. (“What? You mean I can’t tell supporters to storm the Capitol, and not be held responsible?”) But so far, he’s dodged the bullet on that one too.
As far as our “long national nightmare” being over, there’s the fact that Trump’s star seems to be rising once again. See for example, Trump trounces Biden in new Iowa poll. (From November 16, 2021. But here’s a note. In the 2020 election Trump won Iowa by eight points, so in fact over the past year he’s only gained three point. I’d hardly call that a “trouncing,” given all that’s gone wrong over the past few months. And three years is a long time in politics.)
All of which raises the possibility that Trump just might get elected to a second term. Which might also have happened if the attempted January 6 coup had been successful. But once again I tried to look on the bright side. That “freed from a need to pander to his wacko base,” Trump might develop a conscience and start thinking seriously about his legacy.
[W]ho knows? If: 1) Trump did get re-elected in 2020, and 2) no longer had to worry about throwing raw meat at his wacko base, and 3) started seriously thinking about his legacy (or developed a conscience, or started appreciating that he’s “closer to the end than to the beginning”), he might actually evolve – as [P.T.] Barnum did – into a “humane, effective and ethical politician.”
But all might not be lost. Like I said before, three years is a long time in politics. For example, in 2019 – just before the COVID hit – “Donald Trump was riding high, and looked a shoe-in for re-election.” Just like Joe Biden nearer the beginning of this year. In turn there is the specter of Conservatives taking control of both houses of Congress, and clogging things up even more. But that in turn could sour voters on the Republican party even more. (Here’s hoping.)
And here’s hoping the idea of Trump as “only temporary” doesn’t turn out to be a pipe dream...
If Donald Trump tries to run for president again, one of his former campaign advisers has a plan to dissuade him. Anticipating that Trump may not know who Adlai Stevenson was or that he lost two straight presidential elections in the 1950s, this ex-adviser figures he or someone else might need to explain the man’s unhappy fate. They’ll remind Trump that if he were beaten in 2024, he would join Stevenson as one of history’s serial losers. “I think that would resonate,” said this person, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to talk more freely. “Trump hates losers.”
Today we’re quick to banish presidential losers… Yet one White House loser—a serial loser, at that—still haunts the political landscape: Adlai Stevenson. Every political season the pundits find some reason to resurrect him, invariably in a flattering light… Stevenson not only lost nobly; he made losing seem noble in and of itself.
It’s hard to imagine Trump making a second-run loss seem “noble in and of itself.”
Re: Zombies. Wikipedia: A “mythological undeadcorporealrevenant created through the reanimation of a corpse.” Which is where the title came from. Further, the undead “are beings in mythology, legend, or fiction that are deceased but behave as if they were alive.” In folklore, “a revenant is an animated corpse that is believed to have revived from death to haunt the living.” From the Old French, revenant, related to the French verb revenir, meaning ‘to come back.'”.
I ended the “Pyrenees” post by promising more posts about the hiking adventure, but since then I’ve been working on another project. It’s an Ebook about turning 70 in 2021, and like I said in the book, I have to finish it soon. That’s because turning 70 is like losing your virginity: “You can only do it once!” Besides that I want to have the paperback version done in time for handing out as presents for each family member at our Christmas gathering.
One chapter compares how old people were seen 50 years ago, compared to how “we” see ourselves today. That chapter included how John Updike portrayed old people in his 1971 novel, Rabbit Redux, set in the summer of 1969.* But then I came across a paperback copy ofCatcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. I – like most adolescents my age – loved that book 40 or 50 years ago, but now that I’m up there in years I take issue with how he portrayed old people.
It’s been a while since I’ve read about Holden Caulfield’s adventures, but I got as far as the start of Chapter 2. That’s where Holden visits “old Mister Spencer,” his history teacher at Pencey Prep. (He’d just gotten kicked out of school and stopped to say goodbye.) Mrs. Spencer meets him at the door, and Holden has to repeat questions; “She was sort of deaf.” He said the couple got a bang out of things, “in a half-assed way,” then described a time he and some others visited the couple. Mr. Spencer brought out a Navajo blanket he’d bought years ago. “You take somebody old as hell, like old Spencer, and they can get a big bang out of buying a blanket.”
Holden said he wasn’t crazy about old people anyway, sitting around in “ratty old bathrobes… Their bumpy old chests are always showing. And their legs. Old guys’ legs, at beaches and places, always look so white and unhairy.” He added, “you wondered what the heck he was still living for. I mean, he was all stooped over, and he had very terrible posture.”
As when Mr. Spencer dropped some chalk in class, “some guy in the first row always had to get up and pick it up and hand it to him.” Then came the kicker: “They were both around seventy years old, or even more than that.” To which I said, “Excuse me? Old as hell at 70 years?”
Then added, “Hey Holden, yurass!” I had a feeling that old Mr. Spencer didn’t do stair-stepping, 30 minutes at a time, four days a week, with a 30-pound weight vest and ten pounds of ankle weights. (Like I do now.) Which led to the main point of the chapter: That “old people” in this day and age see themselves as way different, compared to 40 or 50 years ago. (Now that “we” are getting up there ourselves.) And indeed, some people my age – like many “old” high school classmates – still yearn for a return for those “good old days.” (Bumpy old chests, white, unhairy legs and all.) But not me. I’m enjoying the heck out of turning 70, and plan to live a lot longer. (Thanks to a healthy diet and lots of aerobics, including high-intensity stair-stepping.*)
But getting back to Holden Caulfield, and how he ended up leading me down a Rabbit Trail.
The term is generally seen as negative and non-productive, but to me those “Rabbit Trails” are the best and most-fun part of doing research for my writing. (Even though I usually have to shunt them off to the notes, either at the end of a blog post like this, or in an Ebook.) This one centered around my hearing that Salinger saw extensive combat in World War Two:
And during the Normandy campaign Salinger met Ernest Hemingway. He was “impressed with Hemingway’s friendliness and modesty, finding him more ‘soft’” than his gruff public persona. Hemingway in turn said of Salinger’s writing, “Jesus, he has a helluva talent.” Later in the war Salinger was assigned to a counter-intelligence unit, using his knowledge of French and German to interrogate prisoners of war. In April 1945 he entered a concentration “subcamp” of Dachau. He’d risen to the rank of Staff Sergeant and served in five campaigns. His war experiences affected him deeply, and he later told his daughter: “You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely, no matter how long you live.”
More to the point, just before the war Salinger submitted several short stories to “The New Yorker,” but most got rejected. Then in December 1941, the magazine accepted Slight Rebellion off Madison, a “Manhattan-set story about a disaffected teenager named Holden Caulfield with ‘pre-war jitters.’” So “old Holden” goes back as far as 1941, pre-World War Two…
And that’swhat I love about my research, for writing blog-posts and Ebooks; going down those “rabbit trails.” The joy of discovery, the joy of learning something new. (Even if I do have to end up putting most interesting stuff in Ebook notes, so as note to interrupt the flow of the main narrative.) But in the end, going down those rabbit trails can – along with vigorous exercise and a healthy diet* – keep you young, alive and kicking for a long, long time.
Re: How I ended up with a copy of “Catcher,” just as I’m working to finish the Turning 70 book:
And as if John Updike’s picture of old people wasn’t bad enough, in the process of trying to finish up this book, I got hold of a copy of “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger. And that all started when I picked up a second-hand paperback copy at the local “Yuppie Goodwill,” in early October 2021. (Can you say, “sign from God?”)
Also Re: “Catcher in the Rye.” I bought the paperback edition by Little, Brown and Company, 1951. (In October 2021, while working to wrap up the book for use at the family Christmas.) Salinger copyrighted the work in 1945, 1946, and 1951, and renewed the copyright in 1979. The quotes about the “old” Spencer couple are at pages 8 and 9, the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter Two. Another note: I learned in “Crash Course American Literature” – the one I talk about in the chapter on “Great Lectures” [in the Ebook] – that Salinger saw extensive combat in World War Two.
The information about Holden and Salinger came from Wikipedia and links therein. I read them, but found discrepancies. For example, the article on Holden himself said that Salinger first used the name Holden Caulfield in an “unpublished short story written in 1941,” but that it first appeared in print in 1945.The article on Salinger indicated that the “New Yorker” published the article with Holden in it in December 1941. (But putting that in the main text would “interrupt the flow.”)
The lower image is courtesy of Rabbit Trail Images – Image Results. It’s accompanied by an article, “Rabbit Trails are Good!” A blog about the joys and benefits of home-schooling, it includes these thoughts: “A quality education is not about sticking to the book. It is about expanding beyond it’s margins, exploring, discovering and teaching to the spark:”
“Getting sidetracked” will not only help you teach to your children’s interests and improve the quality of their education, but it will also help you to ignite a lifelong love of learning. In the process, you will have also taught them that they can learn anything! All they need do is go off on a rabbit trail!
In my last post, I got as far leaving Paris and taking a train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. (By way of Bayonne, last Monday, August 30.) Then, after a day off in St. Jean, “we four*” started our Camino hike from its beginning, then over the Pyrenees Mountains. (Shown at right, during our first day’s hike, to Orisson.)
To review, way back in 2016 my brother Tom and I hiked all 33 miles of the Chilkoot Trail, from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, B.C.* They call it “the meanest 33 miles in history,” and I found out why. (Mostly it’s not a trail at all, but “one big pile of &^$# rocks after another!*”) What that meant for this trip is that by September 2017, I had my fill of mountain hiking.
That presented a problem, because in September 2017 Tom and I planned to hike the Camino Frances. (Which begins in St. Jean, then goes over the Pyrenees, to Pamplona and beyond.*) So I decided that instead of meeting Tom in Paris (and beginning the trip from down in St. Jean), I would fly into Madrid. From there I took a train up to Pamplona to meet him, after he had hiked over the Pyrenees. (And had a miserable time, mostly because of some near-constant rain, and also because some clown – in a dormitory-style auberge so popular with Camino pilgrims – kept getting up in the middle of the night to pee, and turning on all the lights,.)
The point is that although Madrid and the train up to Pamplona were extremely pleasant – the latter including an ice-cold Cruzcampo beer – it’s bothered me ever since that I wimped out of the hike over the Pyrenees. But this past September I finally rectified that shortcoming.
Incidentally, there are two ways to hike over the Pyrenees, from France into Spain. One is the Route de Napoleón – “more strenuous for obvious reasons” – or the Route Valcarlos, where “your ascent will be more gradual.” Another note: “The first walking day on the Camino de Santiago, from Saint Jean Pied de Port … is probably the most challenging of the whole route.” For us the choice was obvious, mainly because one-wimp-out per Pyrenees-project is enough.*
On the other hand, rather than hiking all 15.6 miles from St. Jean to Roncesvalles in a day – like so many try – we (or rather Tom, who made all lodging reservations) chose to break it up.
So the first day’s hike, starting in Saint-Jean, was a mere five miles, but it was all uphill. It ended in Orisson, where we four stayed in a dormitory-style auberge. (The Refuge Orisson, with my picture at left.)
But first, about the rain…
Tuesday, August 31 – the day before the hike started – the weather forecast said heavy rain. (Just like Tom endured during his 2017 hike over the Pyrenees…)
And as usual, the night before starting such an epic adventure, I didn’t sleep well. (A mixture of anticipation and self-doubt I suppose.) Plus there was that heavy-rain forecast, and I had more than my usual two beers per night. (I’d gotten a six-pack of small beers, and Tom only had one, so I had to “dispose of” the other five, in St. Jean, since I didn’t want to carry any leftover beer in my pack.)
As it turned out, the rain started about 10:30 in the morning, 15 minutes after we left St. Jean. At first it was just a drizzle, then it got to be soaking, and it stayed raining until noon. (The rain that first morning “wasn’t really heavy, just constant and eventually soaking.”)
For protection I wore a cheap, 97-cent Walmart-special plastic rain poncho, but over that I had a bad-ass black windbreaker. (To keep the poncho from getting blown all over by the wind.) The jury-rigged combination worked pretty well, so much so that I was able to write later on that it was “kind of enchanting, walking in the rain like that.” (The rain and mist did seem kind of other-worldly.) And Tom made lots of stops, since the going was mostly uphill.
Still, we got to the Refuge Orisson by 2:00 – despite taking many short breaks, as shown at right – and the Refuge seemed very nice. “Located in the heart of the Basque Country,” this place is an “ideal stopover … the last accommodation before crossing the Pyrénées.” Of interest to us four, this auberge “allows walkers to undertake this mythical part of the trek in two stages.” It turned out to be one of those classic dormitory-style auberges, but it looked like heaven after our rain-soaked morning’s hike.
Unfortunately, when we got there we experienced a moment of pure panic. “No room at the inn!”
It turned out that Tom had reserved a room for October 1, not September 1, and the host said the place was booked full up. But after a few minutes – of pure panic – the guy had good news. He found four beds available in a 10-bed dorm-room. So not only did I get to experience soaking rain, like Tom in 2017, I also got to stay in one of those dormitory-style auberges. Another note: No Wi-Fi. “We want our guests to talk to each other.” So as I wrote later (on Facebook):
It’s a classic dorm style auberge, where everyone eats at 7:30 sharp, and at the end you stand up, give your name and why you’re hiking the Camino. (All that pointy-headed liberal touchy-feely crap.) But no WiFi… Which turned out to be a blessing. No getting pissed off at Facebook dumbasses, and so I got a good night’s sleep.
Incidentally, that “Facebook dumbasses” comment got me in trouble with a pissed-off Momma Bear back home, but that little dustup isn’t relevant to this narrative. And as for clowns getting up in the middle of the night, our “dorm room” did have ten beds (five bunk beds), but only two other pilgrims joined usin that room. (They seemed mostly quiet, but then again, I put in ear plugs.) All in all, I slept much better than I did the night before.
We started off the “Roncesvalles” hike with breakfast at the Refuge Orisson. The meal-room wasn’t quite as crowded as the night before; no set time for breakfast, and lots of pilgrims had hit the trail before us. But it was still pretty crowded – say 20 or 25 people – and the thing I remember most was drinking coffee out of a bowl. (“Something new under the sun.”)
Unlike the day before there was little rain, but “a lot of up in today’s hike.” Also, lots of merde. As I wrote later, “Rocks, sheep, clouds, fog, cows, horses and sheep.” Quite often your hike was serenaded by bells; cow bells, sheep bells and even horse bells, as the various herds followed their leaders. On a more positive note, “No blisters yet, though the ball of my right foot was rubbing a bit.” Which brings up duct tape. I brought a whole roll of it, “just in case,” and it comes in handy. I put some on the ball of that right foot, and aside from a blister on my right little toe, I had no problems the whole trip. (Compared to the 2017 hike, when my feet ached constantly.)
And now a word about places to stop for hot coffee, cold beer or food. There were fewer such places on the trail in 2021, compared with 2017, because of Covid. Our shorthand for them was “coffee cups;” the Brierly Guide to the Camino Francés shows their location with a little coffee cup on the map. (Pink for open, white with a pink outline if it’s closed for business.)
The Brierly map showed no such coffee cups between Orisson and Roncevalles, but fortunately we found this “cafe movil,” or “mobile cafe.” It was run by a traveling entrepreneur, still inside France, as I indicated in my notes: “The first ‘Cafe Movil’ we hit so far… A place to stop, take off your pack and enjoy a hot café con leche. Or the French equivalent, being still in France.*”
Another note: This place did have a restroom, of sorts. It was behind that big pile of rocks on the left, and from where you “did your business” you could see the operator doing his own business, serving up food and drink and getting his euros in return.
And the pile of rocks didn’t go all the way up, meaning that sometimes you had to duck and dodge. But to get back to the trail…
Those Friday and Saturday hikes – 13.6 and 13 miles, respectively – were a bit tougher than the first day. We ended up making it to the hotel in Roncesvalles by 5:00, and I had the first of many “ensalata mixtas,” or mixed salads. “Tuna, hardboiled eggs, asparagus, tomatoes, o!ives, et cetera. Very tasty, and filling, after a ten-mile hike over the Pyrenees. With the obligatory beer, Estrella.” Which made a big difference, along with the hot shower.
And there was a break in the actionvis-a-visFacebook posting and general note-taking. At one point I wrote, “I can’t believe I haven’t written here since Wednesday.” And once we got to Pamplona I posted: “Yesterday we dragged ass into Zubiri, Spain, after a long ten hour 13.6 mile hike, at 7:00 PM.” Thus the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough stop writing.”
in other words, we left Roncesvalles at 9:15, for 10 hours hiking “real time.” I wrote later, “Pretty tough going, but my feet held out ok. I put duct tape on the balls of both feet this morning… Rocky going there at the last few miles before Zubiri.” But after a hot shower things started looking up. “Four course dinner, a bottle of wine and Tiramisu for dessert. I slept great!” Still, I looked forward to getting to Pamplona, “and a day off. And a chance to do laundry.” That’s what you look forward to when you have two sets of clothes: one to wear in the evening after a hot shower, and one to wash every night – hopefully – for the next day’s sweaty hike.
And on Saturday, September 4, we finally made it after “some rugged going.” I posted:
Buen Camino. We made it to Pamplona… More details tomorrow, a day off from hiking. And finally, a drink at the Cafe Iruna, of Hemingway fame. Except now it’s all filled up, crowded up and touristy. Especially on a Saturday night, in Pamplona… And tomorrow, a day off.
Note the double “tomorrow, a day off.” Which I really looked forward to…
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In the next post I’ll discuss further our day off in Pamplona, including a touristy visit to the bullring that Hemingway made famous. (And as memorialized by the statue of him just outside the bullring, shown below.) From there I’ll discuss the 14-day hike to Burgos – with a day off in Logrono – and eventually making my way back home, via Madrid.
I’ll also talk more about the drudgery of hiking, mile after mile, hauling a 15-pound backpack. From my Facebook posts most people would think all I did was drink beer, have great meals and enjoy the sights. “Tra-la-tra-la-tra-la!” But there was real drudgery involved, which seems to be where the spiritual breakthroughs happen… In the meantime, Buen Camino!
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The upper image is courtesy of Camino De Santiago Over The Pyrenees – Image Results, and/or courtesy of Mark Kelley. Accompanied by a short blurb, including: “Here, Jan [Mark’s wife] walks through a past[o]ral scene of sheep grazing along the trail in the Pyrenees. We started our trek in the foothills of the French Pyrenees and then walked over the mountains into and across Spain for about 500 miles until we reached Santiago.”But there were some rugged places as well.
“We four.” Me, my brother Tom, his wife Carol, and Carol’s brother Ray.
Re: “Tom and I” hiking the Chilkoot Trail. We were joined by his son Matthew, my nephew, fresh from an Army tour.And re: “One big pile of &^$# rocks after another! See 2019’s Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail, and links therein.
September 20, 2021 – I last posted seven weeks ago, on August 8, 2021. (Countdown to Paris – 2021.) I’ve been through a lot since then, preparing for a month-long trip to France and Spain.
I flew into Paris on August 25-26, and spent four days there. Then I – and the three others I was joining – took a train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, starting point for the Camino Frances. That pilgrimage-by-hiking usually ends at Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain. (Thus the “Camino de Santiago.”) But while the other three in my group went on toward Santiago, I cut my hike short, at Burgos. (For reasons explained in that long-ago, August 8th post.*)
That post – Countdown to Paris – talked about what I wanted to do when I got to Paris. This post will talk about what actually got done. For starters, I had three main objectives for the month-long overseas adventure: To see Paris again, for the first time since 1979; to see Pamplona again (and have another beer at Café Iruña, of Hemingway fame); and last but hardly least, to hike over the daunting Pyrenees mountains. But first, more about that Paris visit…
From De Gaulle airport, around 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning, August 26, I took the RER Train B to Gare du Nord. (Once I found the train to Gare du Nord, after getting off the plane and wandering around the airport.) Then once I got into Paris itself, I had a hell of a time getting out of the “Gare,” being both very tired and not seeing any discernible “signage.” Once outside I did manage to find the McDonald’s Stalingrad. (So-called because it’s adjacent to the “Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad.”) I was hoping to start off the day in a strange new place with an iced coffee, like back home. But I found out they don’t sell iced coffee at the McDonald’s in Europe. They sell beer at those McDonald’s, but not iced coffee.
Another thing I found: A lot of homeless people, camped out and sleeping in the square, under the Metro line, across from the McDonald’s. (Above left.)
And speaking of the Paris Metro, I never did get a chance to ride it. I’d planned to take the Metro – famous for any number of “les pickpockets” – down to Choisy-le-Roi. (Where in 1972 Henry Kissinger conducted secret negotiations to end the Vietnam war. And where in 1979 I enjoyed a romantic interlude with a young lady named Janine, camping in a little tent on the grounds of the youth hostel that used to be there.) But I never got the chance to do that.
Mostly because I was too busy trying to find my way down to the swanky apartment across the Seine from Notre-Dame de Paris. (Where I was to meet up on Saturday with the other three family members of the Camino-hiking adventure.) The apartment was at 15 Rue Maitre Albert, almost directly south of the Cathedral, on the Left Bank across the Seine. I’d memorized the route, and had a map that turned out to have not-so-readable type. So somehow I got confused about whether to take the Rue St. Martin down, as opposed to the Rue St. Denis.
I got my “Rues” mixed up…
As a result, I somehow ended up angling too far to my left, trying to head toward Ile de la Cite from my “Ibis Budget Paris La Villete,” on Avenue Jean Jaures. Checking Google Maps – as I was writing this post – I saw that I had angled way toofar over and ended up in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, and possibly got as far off as the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Which brings up a word about Avenue Jean Jaures. Turning left out of Gare du Nord, you end up on Rue la Fayette. But once you cross Boulevard de la Villette, Rue la Fayette magically transforms into Avenue Jean Jaures. (Kind of like what they do in Georgia. Change the road names at pretty much every intersection, mostly to fool the Yankees during “the late War of Northern Aggression.”)
But we digress. It took me the rest of that Thursday afternoon – and much of the evening – to find my way back home. I remember wandering around, sometimes stopping at a cafe-bar, having a beer and asking directions to Rue la Fayette. I also remember knocking over one glass of draft beer, later in the day, which makes me think I may have had one beer too many. (I figured all that walking would burn off the alcohol.) Be that as it may, much later still I somehow ended up on Rue Crimee. I had the good sense to head northwest, and eventually Rue Crimee crossed Avenue Jean Jaures. I thought to myself, “Eureka!” Then found my way back home, even though I had to get there “from the other end.” That is, from the Jean Jaures end, not la Fayette.
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Eventually on Saturday I did meet up with the rest of the group at 15 Rue Maitre Albert. Which brought up one thing we had to do. We all had to get tested for Covid; we had to do that so we could take the train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
As it turned out, Paris featured all kind of places to get tested. We found ours along the Seine, a little tent set-up – shown at right – by the Pont Neuf. And the guy in Paris was a real pro.
I’d heard horror stories back home of nurses sticking the swab far enough up your nose to tickle your brain. (Enough to bring tears to their eyes, according to two ladies I talked to.) But this guy had the swab in for maybe two seconds; I barely knew it was there. And in a few minutes the test came back “Negatif,” in PDF, downloaded onto my tablet.
In the process, one or two of the others in my group were kind of a pain, asking all kinds of questions and taking too much time. So I ended up tipping the guy 20 euros, for all his help dealing with crazy Americans. It cost 30 euros apiece, cash, for the quicky test. (Plus tip.)
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So, Thursday the 26th I got lost trying to find the way down to 15 Rue Maitre Albert. On Friday the 27th I finally found the quickest way down there, and also did a little sightseeing. Among other things I found and photographed a statue of Michel de Montaigne.
You can see the photo in the notes below, but the statue caught my eye because Montaigne was a great essayist. And what is a blogger – like me – but someone who writes “analytic or interpretative” compositions, usually dealing with a subject “from a limited or personal point of view?” (On a regular basis and sometimes accompanied by photos and other images?”)
In a word, Montaigne is my mentor (as an essay writer), if not my hero…
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Which brings up the last day the four of us spent in Paris, Sunday, August 29.
We started off by visiting the Musée Picasso Paris, “5 rue de Thorigny,” within walking distance of the apartment. Later we went in search of a famed place to buy great baguettes – the place turned out to be closed – and in doing so walked through the grounds of the Louvre and by the Arc de Triomphe. (Also undergoing renovation.) We had a great dinner at La Placette, 13 rue de Montenotte, then did some practice hiking up and down the Champs-Élysées.
The following day – Monday, August 30 – we took the train down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, by way of Bayonne. After a day off in St. Jean we started our Camino hike, but that’s a subject for future posts. In the meantime, here’s a hearty – if metaphoric – “Good night from Paris!”
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I took the photos in this post. I took the upper-image photo on August 28. I took the lower-image photo on August 29, our last evening in Paris. From the Pont Louis Philippe, at the north end of the Ile Saint-Louis. In daylight the Eiffel Tower would be visible just off the upper left, about two-thirds up.
Re: Reasons for me stopping at Burgos. I’d hiked to Santiago de Compostela twice already, via the Camino Frances in 2017 and the Portuguese Camino in 2019; I’d gotten two Compostela pilgrim certificates already. Also, the rest of the party planned on taking two months to get to Santiago, and I get nervous being away from home more than a month.
Re: Montaigne, my photo at left. He was primarily “known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight:“
See also Essay – Wikipedia: “Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author… The concept of an ‘essay’ has been extended to other media beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.” Then there are “blog-post essays.”
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Some other notes I took during the trip: For one: “I seem to be blending in here [Paris] too. Several people have stopped and asked me directions. Boy were they surprised!” A second, longer note:
A couple hours ago I went to get a beer and a salad. I was sitting alone, at the sidewalk cafe, when in the fullness of time a rowdy birthday group of five young ladies sat down to my right. Then two affectionate young ladies sat to my right, so I was “a thorn between seven roses,” so to speak. They interacted well with one another, and with those who came by to chat. Including one old guy with wild hair and beard, who in America would be called a bum.I had no idea what they were talking about, but the body language bespoke mutual respect and “joy of life.” It was so enlightening and pleasant that I had a second beer.