September 29, 2017

Too True

I'm guilty as charged of mishandling.

Cell Phone Photography for $100 Alex!

Sun-dog

Campfire in distance under moonglow

Fire glow

Taken before solar eclipse.

Taken at solar eclipse - note the subtly decreased sun.

On the bridge to Ohio 

Bumper sticker advice

A creek runs through it. 

Kayak nation


Dog in dog statue


September 28, 2017

Trying to Understand Current Politics

Roy Moore won a Senate seat despite, in July, not having heard about DACA or Dreamers.  He also asserted there are places in America under sharia law, but when asked for specifics came up short. Likewise Trump won the presidency despite having a deep and abiding wellspring of blissful ignorance.

You could say this is proof the Republican party is the "stupid party", as Mark Shea gleefully used to say back fifteen years ago.  And that's probably true now but I think there are a couple other underlying trends.

Just as if you want to be a conservative SCOTUS you have to try to not leave a paper trail, there's an advantage for a political candidate to be ignorant of policy.  You can lie freely, without pain of sin.  Thus Obama can run a campaign for '08 on just the slogan "hope and change!" and pass ACA by subletting it all to Congress. And Trump can promise, "the best health care for everybody will be easy!" and mean it, believe it, and sell it.

I recall someone asking on a EWTN Q&A forum asking why tell people about mortal sins because one of the conditions is that they must know it's mortal. Similarly, if a candidate is completely ignorant he or she is more free to dispense their reality-free point of view.

The other underlying factor is the ongoing atomization of society.

The surprise is not that political parties are dying but that they lasted so long, since nowadays joining a group is passé.  If you can’t even get players to stand for the national anthem it’s no wonder politicians won’t stand for the muck of a political party.  “Cooperation” is a swear word.

Just as we have 10,000 Christian denominations, we’ll have a hundred completely independent senators - everybody will a McCain or Sanders or Paul or Moore.

My guess is that state governments will become more important in the future given how useless the federal is.

September 25, 2017

People of New York

Looked back at my pictures from NYC trip in June; here are some of the peeps on the streets:











September 07, 2017

Fermor's Germanic Adventure

This Patrick Leigh Fermor dude ("A Time of Gifts) could flat-out write; here about the Hofbrauhaus in the 1930s:
I was back in beer-territory. Halfway up the vaulted stairs a groaning Brownshirt, propped against the wall on a swastika’d arm, was unloosing, in a staunchless gush down the steps, the intake of hours. Love’s labour lost. Each new storey radiated great halls given over to ingestion. In one chamber a table of S.A. men were grinding out Lore, Lore, Lore, scanning the slow beat with the butts of their mugs, then running the syllables in double time, like the carriages of an express: “UND—KOMMT—DER—FRÜHLingindastal! GRÜSS—MIR—DIE—LORenocheinmal.

But it was certain civilian figures seated at meat that drew the glance and held it. One must travel east for a hundred and eighty miles from the Upper Rhine and seventy north from the Alpine watershed to form an idea of the transformation that beer, in collusion with almost nonstop eating—meals within meals dovetailing so closely during the hours of waking that there is hardly an interprandial moment—can wreak on the human frame. Intestine strife and the truceless clash of intake and digestion wrecks many German tempers, twists brows into scowls and breaks out in harsh words and deeds. The trunks of these feasting burghers were as wide as casks. The spread of their buttocks over the oak benches was not far short of a yard.
             
*

Huge oval dishes, laden with schweinebraten, potatoes, sauerkraut, red cabbage and dumplings were laid in front of each diner. They were followed by colossal joints of meat—unclassifiable helpings which, when they were picked clean, shone on the scoured chargers like calves’ pelvises or the bones of elephants. Waitresses with the build of weight-lifters and all-in wrestlers whirled this provender along and features dripped and glittered like faces at an ogre’s banquet. But all too soon the table was an empty bone-yard once more, sound faltered, a look of bereavement clouded those small eyes and there was a brief hint of sorrow in the air. But succour was always at hand; beldames barged to the rescue at full gallop with new clutches of mugs and fresh plate-loads of consumer goods; and the damp Laestrygonian brows unpuckered again in a happy renewal of clamour and intake.
             
*

I strayed by mistake into a room full of S.S. officers, Gruppen- and Sturmbannführers, black from their lightning-flash-collars to the forest of tall boots underneath the table. The window embrasure was piled high with their skull-and-crossbones caps.
             
*

The vaults of the great chamber faded into infinity through blue strata of smoke. Hobnails grated, mugs clashed and the combined smell of beer and bodies and old clothes and farmyards sprang at the newcomer. I squeezed in at a table full of peasants, and was soon lifting one of those masskrugs to my lips. It was heavier than a brace of iron dumb-bells, but the blond beer inside was cool and marvellous, a brooding, cylindrical litre of Teutonic myth. This was the fuel that had turned the berserk feeders upstairs into Zeppelins and floated them so far from heart’s desire. The gunmetal-coloured cylinders were stamped with a blue HB conjoined under the Bavarian crown, like the foundry-mark on cannon. The tables, in my mind’s eye, were becoming batteries where each gunner served a silent and recoil-less piece of ordnance which, trained on himself, pounded away in steady siege. Mass-gunfire! Here and there on the tables, with their heads in puddles of beer, isolated bombardiers had been mown down in their emplacements.
Er, I'll have what he's having.

*

I haven't watched the movie "Lost in America" in 25 years so it was an unanticipated science experiment to watch it again recently and find it much less compelling. Where once I saw humor in the main character's not-so-quiet desperation, now I find it heavier lifting.

For one thing, I'm not obsessed with retiring early and seeing the country in an RV. That dream-ship has sailed. I'm more into sunlight nowadays than city light. So some of the film would naturally lessen in impact now.

Seems I also have had more of a tendency to want upbeat things, primarily upbeat music (primarily jazz) and tv.

*

From WSJ:
Rural and working-class, white Americans are also pessimistic about their retirement prospects. Their views are one reason that only 13% of Americans expect to retire before age 60, down 10 points since 1999. The share of Americans who say they will retire at 70 or older has climbed 10 points.
23% in 199 down to 13% now. Seems amazing my father retired at 55.

September 05, 2017

Live from Hilton Head It's Saturday Not

 A tawny Sunday at the island, the air not the bright yellow hue we expect. Rain showers predicted and the sky currently overcast, alas.

Rainy but no problem when you got an insti-tent. Ingenious. Keeps the rain off when need be.

Checked out the waves and just really incredible not in terms of size by in water force east-to-west. Really hard to simply walk against wind and water in even three feet. Managed a token 15 min jog, with last half against sledgehammering wind.

We squeezed out five hours on a deck laden with the misgivings of weather.

*

Listening to the Bob Dylan song with refrain "Everybody must get stoned" a few times triggered by thoughts on how "everybody must get pruned."

Background: Heard that ol' warhorse Fr. Hayes on the gospel about "I am the vine, you are the branches."

Fr. said grapes un-pruned, bear no fruit. Grape vines bear fruit when their reproduction was threatened, and because this vine was allowed to grow freely where it will, it felt no compulsion to spend its energy towards the bearing of fruit.

"If you are not a part of the vine, you will be pruned completely at the judgement. If you are a part, you still will be pruned."

Everybody must get pruned.

But what I've realized is God even prunes himself.  From Erasmo Levia-Merikakis:
In keeping with God’s own internal law of love, Jesus never invites anyone to do anything that he himself is not already doing. “It is called the law of the Lord”, writes St. Bernard, “either because he lives by it or because nobody possesses it except as a gift from him. It does not seem absurd for me to say that God lives by a law, because it is nothing else than charity.”

*

Hurricane Harvey

The tropical hellbent

Nature owns nature

Hundreds of miles away.

*


Where have you gone Aurelio Rodriquez?

A island turns its lonely eyes to you

Rue, rue, rue...

What's that you say Mrs. Clementine,

Aurelio has left and gone astray.

no, no way...

no way.


*

From the catbird seat ahigh the stern,

I peer a grey sea with toothy caps,

towards the long grey line of horizon.

*

A pastiche of florid greens and tall sea oats

bend before wind and sea

while giraffe palms hold sway

just beyond the balcony.

*

Down the shore the lifeguard stores

her tanned and dimpled leas

I query her and she responds

in perfect Austrailian-eze.


*

Young gal comes down to deck with some sort of green mask/cream on her face. Apparently for purposes of skin revitalization or facial self-improvement, but seems like it takes a good level of self-confidence to appear in public like that.

Monday:

Weather not fit for man nor beast. 25-35mph winds with gusts to 40mph. Rip tide warning in effect by national weather service such that supposedly: "These rip currents will be life-threatening to anyone who enters the surf."

Which means I have to get in the surf if briefly just to see what this is like. Or not. Call it chicken blood, or maybe it's just because rip tides are supposedly impervious to swimming skill and strength. If pervious to the latter, I'd be in in a heartbeat.

Anyway I can't recall Hilton Head having a rip tide warning while I was down here before. No rental umbrellas either are out due to wind speed.

Hopefully we'll lose just one day of vacation here, though "lose" is a huge exaggeration since I'll still be able to read, relax, have a cigar, watch some baseball on the 'tube.  And of course South Carolina could be experiencing a hurricane directly, like poor Texas.

At 3:30pm torrential downpour and there's nobody on the beach for as far as the eye can see in either direction. But wait! Two people in black-hooded plastic rain gear and heading out of Seaside Villas toward the beach right now. Diehards. Gluttons for punishment. Truth be told, I'm glad to be dry after the soaking from this morn. It was fun to get wet, like being a kid in the rain again, but also nice to be dry.

*

My outdoor office suffices

seeking mysteries from the quotidian

tranquil hours reading Fermor

concerning the Landsknecht.


*

I run-laufen the way the Deutsche do,

lope by the Konditories

pastime with pastries

beergarten many brews.

Tuesday

And now I know where the phrase "Holy cow!" comes from. St. Brigid, contemporary of St. Patrick, was discouraged by her pagan parents from becoming Catholic, but she did so and afterward blessed the family cow that had never given milk before. The cow did then give milk, making her family much happier about her decision to convert. And thus the literal holy cow is pictured with her in paintings and images.

*

All clouds, all day. Nicht gut. But the lack of cold-pelt rain facilitated more exercise than normal; ran 2.2 miles and walked a couple more.

*

It occurs to me the decision on whether to have children/another child could be argued to rest mainly on the husband, or, alternatively, on the wife.

It could be said the wife must drive the decision because she's the one who has 9 months of discomfort and massive disruption. She also has more natural incentive due to the "maternal instinct".

On the other hand you could say the male is determinative since he's biblically the head of the household, and since he doesn't bear the physical price of bearing a child he needs to be an enthusiastic (not neutral) lobbyist for children.

*

Garrison Keillor writing in WaPo gets to the heart of why Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders, I would say) are popular: self-pity and the diminishment of stoicism:
"I was an ordinary 1950s misfit, scrawny, squinty behind wire-rim glasses, bookish but not so smart, timid, a daydreamer, a frequent moper, and once, when my mother was tired of my moodiness, she gave me a book to read, “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” in which good Bible-believing Christians like ourselves were tied to the stake...prayed that God would forgive their persecutors and, as the flames enveloped their bodies, sang hymns in praise of the Savior with their dying breath.
Somehow, this cheerful stoicism seemed to lose traction in the culture and we got bombarded by neurotic anger — the Beat poets, bad boys in movies, outlaw mythology, troubled rock stars, spectacular burnouts, the wounded, bitter, addicted, nice middle-class kids trying to be tortured artists.."

Wednesday

"Life hack" is one of those phrases I thought I would never use, along with "impactful". But I do find "life hack" impactful in the following way: "I want to life-hack my mornings." Because they are infinitely better in Hilton Head than in Columbus.

There's a lot of motivation to get up in the morning here given the instant pleasure of the balcony: reliably warm temperatures and a million dollar view. Today I spy a hawk calmly surveying from a branch of the one tall pine on our Seasides side. Highly picturesque.

I think the hack would be to do as much stuff the night before as possible. Of course that could ruin the night ha.

*

We're semi-plagued by a plague of love bugs down here. They only live three days it's said. They swarm the deck and balcony, two flying insects hitched together (hence the love in love bug). They don't annoy us too much. They don't sting or bite, which is a good thing.

Got down to the deck by 8am, a record. The love bugs drove me away right quick, but felix culpa since it allowed a nice walk on the beach. Felt like I was walking on the water, the illusion of walking on a thin 3-inch sand bar covering. Just beautiful to be out there next to the water in the morn.

Finally the resumption of true Hilton Head weather. Tropical at last. Today was half-sun and half-clouds and the people rejoiced.

So I was at the beach from 10:30 till 5pm. A highlight was the run - it felt so good to run like the horses for 30 minutes without worrying about the injured calf (now healed). I think half the magic of Hilton Head is simply the invigorating exercise.

My phone battery died during the run but at least I got to hear to the end of Message in a Bottle by the Police on the '80s station.

Thursday

Its a true-blue Hilton Head dog-day of summer day. Rode bike a little extra time since the sun through the pines and fronds is so rich.

Funny sign next to the 1-foot deck: "Use at your own risk". I should write on it: "Brought to you by lawyers, the same folks who put warning labels on plastic bags saying not to cover your head with them."

*

My gut reaction is to see life as finding inspiration in perspiration, but that neglects the indispensable place of Christ. Perhaps to see Inspiration in perspiration.

*

I take a beach walk, and see pellucid water magnifying hurrying fish. I see the shimmer of sparkling sand below, dotted with glitter. I see the gladsome splash of repetitive wave. I see the jewel of wild nature's edge.

*

A bit of bible commentary reading, specifically the monk from Spencer on the image of Jesus as "the thief in the night". The thief imagery rankles mainly if we see ourselves as our own property, St. Therese of Liseux referred to Jesus as the thief many times in her last days. How could I not know that, especially after having read Heather King's book? For Therese, it's practically a term of endearment, proving saints are different from us.

Friday

I wonder if the true enemy of old age is not infirmity but loss of a childlike innocence. Cynicism and resulting in being unimpressed by small things. A lack of curiosity.

Oliver Sacks said: "I thought being old would be either awful or trivial, and it's neither." He said what makes it not so besides loving another, is thinking and writing.

His partner mentions how he had joy and surprise on his face when he opened his first bottle of champagne at age 80-ish and saw the cork explode. To have a sense of wonder around a champagne opening suggests a childlike aspect that belies his attribution to his success in old age to writing and thinking. Methinks it is the former.

*

Last day spent amid the sweet ecstasy of those shining waters. Gave my soles their soul workout on the Low Country sands. Twenty minutes. Playing "Rocky Top" in my mind. Because the best country lyric of all time is "ground's too rocky by far / that's why all the folks in Rocky Top get their corn from a jar."

Shades of "for medicinal purposes only."

*

Noon Friday we did our annual bike ride to Lawton Stables. Rode into heavy beach wind until marker 47, then cut through and headed to see the great and hallowed Clydesdale-like Harley. His hooves are a force of nature. Eternal blue skies.

*

Jonah Goldberg writes about how ideas are much less impactful than technologies:
As I’ve written many times before, the car and the birth-control pill have — for good and ill — done more to overturn settled institutions and customs than Nietzsche or Marx ever could. But pills and automobiles are hard to argue with, so like drunks searching for their car keys under the street lamp because that’s where the light is good, intellectuals focus on the stuff they can argue with.
He quotes Irving Kristol as having said, “When we lack the will to see things as they really are, there is nothing so mystifying as the obvious.”

Saturday: 

Twenty miles south of Charleston, WV. Stopped for a restroom break in a nice travel plaza. Yes they do have Starbucks in West Virginia, and a black gal was running the souvenir shop. Two stereotypes quashed. The people look real here, and interesting looking. A urinal that featured a couple of nicely typed Bible verses taped to the top (John 3:16 and the verse about you must be born again).

*

Heard this on a podcast on why WW2 was won by the Allies: "British stubbornness, American industry, and Russian blood." Amazing how much it took in the way of all three to defeat (primarily) the Germans. German exceptionalism I guess.