8.21.2021 – free faded pages

free faded pages
with hope that mainly you will
enjoy reading them

Doing the Google for a short snippet of text that I wanted to use, I came across the website, Fadedpage.com.

I found what I was looking for and downloaded the text file of the material I want and didn’t think much else about at the time.

At first glance, fadedpage.com looked to be another website of free e books that was tossed out online without much more thought than that to be online was enough.

Nothing against the Gutenberg Project and I have been aware of their efforts for over 25 years (a lifetime online), but it does get a little annoying when free ebooks don’t look quite right on your reader.

OCR or Optical character recognition is a wonderful, if flawed program but it is getting better and more and more books are coming online everyday.

Sometimes it is great just to have the book on your reader regardless of the quality of the text.

But I have to say that gets old quick.

I had some reason to find that file I had downloaded and reopen it and I noticed something.

The text was clean and easy to read.

Incredibly so.

I looked over the file and found the website and felt like the feller who fell down a hole and found a gold mine.

First off the site is Canadian.

Them there Canadains are throwing digital tons of great content online.

Recent the entire 50,000 pages of the diary Mackenzie King.

King was Prime Minister of Canada from 1921–1926, 1926–1930 and 1935–1948.

Also John D. Rockefeller Jr. hired him at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, as its new Department of Industrial Research as one of the earliest expert practitioners in the emerging field of industrial relations.

Mr. King met and knew just about everybody who was anybody in the world including FDR, Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler.

After a day dealing with these folks, Mr. King would come home and dictate his thoughts for HOURS.

This archive of incite is just now beginning to be understood and delved into.

The fact that Mr. King also communed with spirits, using seances with paid mediums and claimed to have communicated with Leonardo da Vinci, Wilfrid Laurier, his dead mother, his grandfather, and several of his dead dogs, as well as the spirit of the late President Roosevelt should not lesson the historical importance of this archive.

And those Canadian’s put it all online, for free!

Back to fadedpage.

It must be something in Canada.

As the website states: Faded Page is an archive of eBooks that are provided completely free to everyone. The books are produced by volunteers all over the world, and we believe they are amongst the highest quality eBooks anywhere. Every one has been scanned, run through OCR software, proofed, formatted and assembled extremely carefully, using hundreds of volunteer hours.

They do warn that no CANDADIAN COPYRIGHT laws have been violated but maybe you should check the rules in your country.

Then the website states, “You are free to do whatever you like with these books, but we hope that mainly…you will enjoy reading them.”

Brings tears to me eyes.

At this time there are about 6500 books, magazines and journals available at your finger tips.

I have logged into the website and already added any number of books to my e readers.

Many of the books and journals are pretty odd.

A six volume HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR for CHILDREN caught my eye.

But it also brought to mind an odd little note posted in my brain.

I remember being in the World’s Greatest Bookstore in Toronto and wandering through the history section.

I was struct by the size and extent of the section on World War 1.

It reemphasized for me that the United States more or less visited that war.

While the Canadians were fully vested member countries in that World War.

Thinking of that trip also reminded me how I visited several used bookstores in Toronto.

I was struck by that fact that so many of the books had London imprints.

I asked one of the store owners about it.

He was happy to tell that it was cheaper for bookstores in Canada to order books from British publishers than from the United States.

I guess it has always been hard for me to accept that Canada was really a foreign country.

If you grew up like I did in Michigan, Canada was just over there across the river.

I continue to browse the library at fadedpage.com and I came across one other oddity of online legalese and world markets and copyrights.

I noticed that some of my favorite books, The Horatio Hornblower Series, all 11 volumes are listed.

And I checked the text for Commodore Hornblower and I am happy to say that the complete text is there, not like the current version floating around the pirate download sites.

I had to wonder.

Why in the United States do I need to pirate ebook versions of Hornblower when they were all available online for free Canada.

Then I noticed something really goofy.

We all know that CS Forester wrote the Hornblower books don’t we?

For some reason, all the books on fadedpage.com were written by someone named Cecil Louis Troughton Smith.

Huh what?

Then I checked the download page.

It states, Smith, Cecil Louis Troughton Writing under the pseudonym: Forester, C. S. (Cecil Scott).

Then the penny dropped.

Most like the family or agent for CS Forester had kept up the copyright for that name.

But somehow neglected to re-register Cecil Louis Troughton Smith.

Goofy but we all win.

Not only are all the Hornblower books available but every written by Smith, Cecil Louis Troughton Writing under the pseudonym: Forester, C. S. (Cecil Scott).

Books that have been long out of print.

Books that I have searched used bookstores for years to find.

Books I have ordered and actually paid for when all else failed.

There is a lot of George Orwell in here.

There is a lot of CS Lewis in here.

There is a lot in here.

I may disappear for the rest of the summer.

But I will at some point toast these good people, these wonderful Canadians.

People who write, “You are free to do whatever you like with these books, but we hope that mainly…you will enjoy reading them.”

How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

8.20.2021 – hot dogs for dinner

working life at home
adventure into the fridge
hot dogs for dinner

I had hot dogs for dinner the other night.

I like to think I am a pretty good cook and can pull off a good meal anytime anywhere but the other night I just didn’t feel like it.

The wife was out and the boys weren’t interested.

I looked in the fridge to see what sandwich I could pull together.

With covid and working from home it will hit me that I haven’t been out this room for hours, maybe days or even weeks.

I need to move.

I need to do something.

I need adventure.

So I look inside the fridge.

It is the big adventure for the day.

A package of hot dogs caught my eye.

I heated up three in a pan of water.

The adventure for the day got that much better.

I cannot eat hot dogs without thinking of my days at Crestview Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Specifically I cannot eat hot dogs with thinking of my friend John and Crestview Elementary School.

I cannot eat hot dogs without the image of my friend John walking down the the main hallway of Crestview Elementary with a hot dog, just a hot dog mind you, no bun, in each hand.

I wonder what type of machine it would take to eliminate that image from my mind.

Maybe my first sign of alzenheimers will be if I eat a hot dog and don’t think of John.

I see John in my mind when ever I eat a hot dog, either at the ball park, at the beach, and at the local gas station with its rollers of hot dogs of indeterminate age being offered to the public.

(Okay so I don’t eat gas station food, but when I look at those rollers, I think of John.)

The elementary school I attended when I was kid was designed, built and run on a daily basis without a lunchroom.

Non of the schools in Grand Rapids were.

They were neighborhood schools.

Schools built in a neighborhood.

Where students WALKED to school.

And where students were expected to WALK home for lunch.

But.

Once a month we GOT to have lunch at school.

For us, eating lunch at school was a priveledge.

It was a party.

Well, it was a party from our point of view.

We never asked out teachers what they thought.

But I am sure that they loved it.

It was a hot dog lunch!

These hot dog lunches were once a month.

We all lined up and we were walked down the hall to the kitchen window were we were given a hot dog (or two if we had ordered two), a bag of potato chips, a tub of vanilla ice cream and a bottle of orange drink.

It was all so FREAKIN COOL!!!!

The ice cream came with a wooden … well … slat in the shape of flat spoon.

I could never use one without thinking I was going to get a splinter in my tongue.

The orange drink came in a bottle.

A glass bottle.

A glass bottle with a cardboard plug.

It wasn’t pop and it wasn’t kool aid.

It was orange.

It was a drink.

It was orange drink.

And that brings us to my friend John.

John didn’t eat much

John didn’t like food.

John didn’t weigh a lot either.

Neither did I for that matter.

As a testament to this, a few years later we were all at Riverside Junior High School.

I happened to be in art class one day and on that day we were drawing hallways.

In other words, the teacher got us out of the classroom and out her hair but giving us drawing boards, paper and rulers and said, go draw the hallways.

Me and a few other guys walked off as far as we could get and sat down in the empty hallway outside the gym.

We were all drawing away when the gym door opened and out came the Gym Teacher.

Just say that word out loud will you?

Gym Teacher!

Tell the truth you wanted to use the bathroom right?

The Gym Teacher, whom it was rumored had been kicked out of the Marines for being too tough, looked up and down the hall way and then looked right at me.

“Hoffman,” he said, “what do you weigh?”

There were maybe 157 questions I was prepared to answer at that time but my weight was not one of them.

“Hoffman, YOU! What do you weigh?”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, 55, 60 pounds sir, maybe.”

At that time time I weighed the same I did in 6th grade, two years earlier, but was 6 inches taller.

Those jokes about running around in shower so the water might hit me weren’t jokes.

The Gym Teacher looks at me, an evil smile on his face, and says, “Get in here, I got some skinny kid needs someone to wrestle.”

If I had been told to walk across a room of hungry, angry rattlesnakes it would have been better than this.

Wrestle.

God’s gift to kids to make sure they understood the law of the jungle.

The law that said skinny little kids with glasses were doomed.

Since moving to the South Carolina coast I enjoy swimming in the ocean even though the locals say if you go in the water, you become part of the food chain.

Hey, I have been on the lower links of that chain all my life.

The Gym Teacher at Riverside Junior High spent an entire month on wrestling.

At the end of the month, you had to wrestle a minimum of two times for your grade that marking period.

The only way to wrestle more than two times was to win and that was something that never ever ever occurred to me.

Three years of Junior High meant that in my life I would have to wrestle six times.

I figured I could do that.

I figured this out in 7th grade knowing I had two more years to go.

Like having the flu, it couldn’t be avoided just lived through.

But I could do that six times.

Now fate was NOT throwing me under the bus.

Fate WAS the bus.

And I was in the way.

The Gym Teacher looked at me until I stood up.

I said I had to draw the hallway.

The Gym Teacher said the hallway would be there when I got back.

He knew this wouldn’t take long.

I looked at him.

He looked at me.

I felt like a French aristocrat being led to the guillotine,

All you can do is get it over with.

I walked through the doors and into the gym.

The gym class, all in gym clothes, looked at me as if I was the funniest thing that ever happened.

Years later, I agree with that.

It was pretty funny.

The Gym Teacher needed a skinny kid and found me.

I can still see that gym

That marvelous amazing expanse of polished hard wood.

The huge American flag that seemed to be on loan from Fort McHenry.

I could not look at that flag without seeing the red stripes that represented the blood shed so that little skinny kids like me could be free.

Free to go to gym class and wrestle.

And there, in the center of mat, waiting for HIS fate, was my friend John.

John didn’t like hot dog buns.

John didn’t like ketchup or mustard.

When John got his hot dogs they were just hot dogs.

Naked hot dogs.

Wrapped in the waxy paper that you had in lunch rooms.

John carried them vertically, straight up.

I can see it as clear in my mind as clear as the view out the window.

It was like John had the handle bars of a harley locked in his grip as he went down the hall.

John carried those hot dogs, one in each hand, back to classroom.

John’s Mom was one of the ladies who prepared the hot dog lunch which is most likely why John got away with two naked hot dogs.

This also may have been the reason John’s Mom was always part of the group of Mom’s that made the hot dogs.

To make sure John got his naked hot dogs.

Then we ate at our desks.

I remember how for the first time for many of us we saw how other people ate.

Sure we ate in restaurants but who watched how people ate when you were at a restaurant.

At hot dog lunches I watched.

I watched how other people put some ketchup on their waxed paper and dipped their hot dog in it.

I watched how some people used just ketchup and some people used just mustard and some, like me, used both but some, unlike me, mixed the ketchup and mustard haphazardly on the hot dog instead of making two distinct lines.

Then there the people who ate all their hot dog and then ate all their chips instead of alternating bite of hot dog and then a few chips and then another bite of hot dog and then some more chips.

I was sure this is what people meant when they talked about a balanced diet.

And then there were crazy people.

I watched as these people crunched their bag of chips into chips and then, to my horror, stirred the chips into their ice cream.

To me, in the 60’s, this was one step to main lining heroin.

Who would do such a thing.

I very much remember years later on a date, my date got a shake and fries and once the food was on the table, started dipping her fries in the shake.

I must have freaking out flashed back to Crestview and the chips and ice cream or something because all my date could say, seeing the look on my face, was “What? What? What?:

We didn’t go out again.

Another thing that comes to mind is that at home we often discussed the finer points of Hot Dog Cuisine.

While we differed on almost everything, there was universal agreement that the hot dogs at Crestview Elementary School hot dog lunches were the best.

It was left to my brother Tim to decide that all you had to do to make a really good hot dog was boil about 1,000 hot dogs together at the same time.

Simple yet difficult.

Somehow perfect.

It is amazing to me how much an easy way out of dinner can create so much to think about.

PS – so you are all wondering what happened in Gym Class.

To this day I cannot figure out how, but John won both matches.

I cannot remember for sure if I got pinned but I think I was.

For the record, and I have to include my sophomore year of gym class at Creston High School where we also had to wrestle for a grade, was 10 matches and 10 losses.

Four years of gym class plus the 2 matches from the hallway.

A perfect record.

That is how I remember it.

A perfect record and if no one asks any questions that’s how it stays.

One funny thing is that we went back to the art class and the guys I was with told the art teacher what happened.

She was so mad, she went down and balled out the Gym Teacher.

I didn’t see it but I heard that the Gym Teacher was so stunned that he was speechless.

I liked that art teacher a lot after that.

As an aside she had always been nice to me since she had held up a picture of a ‘collage’ and asked what was the focus point.

Most everyone in class yelled out that farmer and his wife.

I yelled ‘American Gothic.’

Also that Gym Teacher always said that if you gave your best, you would never get less than a C in his class.

By the last year of Junior High, when I was another 4 inches taller and still weighed the same, my wrestling matches set records for how short they were.

I have a distinct memory of laying on the mat and yelling PIN PIN PIN and GET ON ME YOU DORK to the guy who supposed to pin me.

I still got a C.

I think by that time, when it came to me, even the Gym Teacher was ready for the easy way out.

8.19.2021 – taking out the trash

taking out the trash
into the Carolina night
warm dark overallness

Karen Blixen as Isak Dinesen (or Isak Dinesen as Karen Blixen) wrote in her short story, “From the Forests and Highlands – We come, we come” about living in Africa that, “The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air.

Having lived the first 50 years of my life in the great state of Michigan, I say that the chief feature of the landscape was also the air.

The COLD air.

Living up in the cold.

It wasn’t an Alaskan, Jack London, type of cold.

But an annoying, I forgot a sweatshirt, my feet are cold, nagging type of cold.

Always there.

Always lurking just below the surface of the warmest days.

And taking over the night even in the middle of summer.

My weather friends tell me that West Michigan is the 2nd most overcast region in the continental United States.

50 shades of gray dreary damp unoutshone only by Seattle.

Gray, dreary damp cold.

I am not enamored of the somewhat cheerful term of ‘sweater weather’.

The term ‘sweater weather’ was created by realtors or Canadians who endeavored to present a picture of a fun, if cold, lifestyle.

I now live in South Carolina.

I was outside last night.

It was in the mid 80’s both temperature and humidity.

Walking outside the dark warmth closed around me like a blanket

The type of blanket known as a comforter.

And I was comforted.

Lest you think I had forgotten my roots, the cold weather of Michigan was much on my mind.

I left my apartment and walked first into the building common stairway.

This part of the building has South Carolina air conditioning.

South Carolina conditions its inside air much like the city of Atlanta but on steroids.

As far as I can tell, air conditioners are installed and the settings are locked into the lowest possible temperate and left on forever.

Someone wrote that one of the benefits of Great Lakes beaches was that even in summer you could dig a shallow hole and bury your beer to get it cold.

In South Carolina, all you have to do to cool your beer to is leave it in the hallway.

I walked into the hallway in my shorts, T shirt and flip flops and tried to breath.

In my mind, it was Michigan in February.

Congealed is not a pleasant word.

Then I got out of the hallway and into the night.

My mindset had shifted to Michigan Summer nights.

No disrespect to Bob Seger and his sweet summertime, summertime.

Even at its warmest in Michigan, you can feel autumn moving in.

I was ready for chill.

I was ready for thinking why didn’t I have a hoodie on.

I was ready for thinking why didn’t I have a socks on.

Warm, thick socks.

And then, I didn’t think those things.

I didn’t because it wasn’t cold.

It was warm.

A thick delicious warmth.

The dark was so deep I could touch it.

I literally stepped out INTO the night.

And there was a light breeze.

There always seems to be a light breeze at night.

Just enough to keep the air moving.

After all the reading I have done of sea stories and navy adventures, I should have had expected land breezes and sea breezes.

They are real.

When the sun sets and the land stays warmer than the sea, a light breeze comes in off the ocean.

It was a delight.

It was delightful.

I was full of delight.

I had to laugh.

I had to laugh out loud just for the sake of the delight in the dark warmth.

Ms. Blixen also writes, ” … you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”

I know what she means.

And while I can say that, I still have a hard time believing I am in South Carolina.

But be that as it way, here I am, where I ought to be.

Ms. Blixen also writes about Africa that, “Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequaled nobility.”

Not that I can say exactly that about the South Carolina shore.

But I will say this.

Everything I felt in the warm dark overallness (so I made up a word) made for me, greatness and freedom, and unequaled, well maybe not nobility but can I say satisfaction.

And I was just taking out the trash.

PS – Yes the short story, “From the Forests and Highlands – We come, we come” is better known as Out of Africa but had I wrote that everyone would be reading my essay in the voice of Meryl Streep as she used it in the movie of the same name. A voice that not too outrageously had me waiting for her to say beyork beyork beyork like the Swedish Chef in the Muppet Show..

8.18.2021 – click bait and eye balls

click bait and eye balls
how dumb do they think we are
I clicked on it

It was Monica Lewinsky who once said (I am not kidding) that no editor ever assigned a story that wouldn’t get eyeballs.

Back in the day, we used to joke about headline writing and the weather.

Warm enough for Miley Cyrus and Lindsey Lohan to mud wrestle in bikinis, click here for our weather forecast,” was thought to be a winner!

One time a TV station I worked with in Tampa had a real story that landed in their lap with the headline, “Two NFL Cheerleaders arrested after fight in Men’s Room at local bar.”

Oh did we fight over that story.

The station in question didn’t mind other stations posting the story SO LONG as the headline linked to their website.

I like to think I can spot the click bait versus a real story.

But, as is said, the proof is in the pudding.

Actually what was said was more like the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof.

I once quoted this saying in a corporate web update email that went out to the entire company.

I then said, So eat your meat. How are getting any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

A few hours after that email went out this feller came into my office and got down on his hands and knees and literally bowed his head to the ground.

He got up and said he had to bow down to anyone who could slip a Pink Floyd reference into a corporate report and get away with it.

Back to today, I saw the headline, These 20 Baseball Players with the most hits who are NOT in the Hall of Fame.

I thought it was legit and I thought it might just have the type of odd little factoids I like to start my day.

Instead I found myself reading one of those assigned-on-demand-to-create traffic web stories.

Not only was the writing less than good.

The list started off with Pete Rose.

Sure he has more hits than anyone but HE IS RIGHTLY BANNED FROM THE HALL OF FAME.

The next 4 or 5 players on the list were also not eligible due to use of Performance Enhancing Drugs or just drugs or maybe gambling.

Notice that drug abuse and alcohol abuse are not in the same chapter when it comes to baseball careers.

As Bill Veeck said of Hack Wilson and his STILL RECORD 191 RBIs in a single season, “If anyone breaks that record and does it sober, they get an asterisk”.

Veeck also said that Hack Wilson, who played for the Cubs, was once called into to see Commissioner K. M. Landis and was told, “DO NOT HAVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN WITH AL CAPONE WHEN CAPONE COMES TO CUBS GAMES!”

Wilson is supposed to have said, “But Capone shows me such a good time when I visit his place.”

The next 3 were not eligible BECAUSE THEY WERE STILL PLAYING.

Oh come on.

Finally we get to a player with a lot of hits and not in the Hall of Fame.

Steve Garvey.

It made me stop.

Steve Garvey isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

Garvey played for about 47 years with the exact same LA Dodgers infield of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey & Bill Russell.

Growing up you could count on the sun rising in the east, Michigan winning football games and that the Dodger infield was set and would play flawless fundamental defensive baseball on a level exceeded only by Taiwan little leaguers.

Garvey went on to play for the San Diego Padres.

From there I figured he just marked time until he showed up in Cooperstown.

After a quick hit on the google, you learn that Steve Garvey was a 10-time All-Star, a Most Valuable Player, a four-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time All-Star Game MVP and a two-time MVP of the National League Championship Series.

He went to the World Series four times with the Dodgers (winning in 1981) and once with the Padres. At one time he held the NLCS record for home runs and RBIs. He hit .356 in 90 NLCS at-bats, .319 in 113 World Series at-bats and .393 in 28 All-Star Game at-bats. His postseason OPS was .910. He was an ironman: 19 Major League seasons including the NL record streak of playing in 1,207 consecutive games.

The way the google works now is that it tries to reduce your search to a quick answer and it will post that answer about the search result.

Is this case the answer to the question, “why isn’t steve garvey in the hall of fame” is “The reason Steve Garvey isn’t in the Hall of Fame has little to do with baseball. It’s because he couldn’t live up to the “perfect” status we assigned him.

I get that.

Garvey was the perfect little 1st baseman who rarely showed emotion.

Mr. Spock playing first base comes to mind.

But to not recognize his talents?

That seems a little low, even for me.

I don’t know.

Maybe.

Maybe it was because he had the glamour girl wife who dumped him for Marvin Hamlisch.

So I had my factoid after all.

Who I am to blame for click bait.

I clicked on it.

I will point out that they used to say they wrap fish in yesterday’s newspapers.

Can’t do that with online news no matter how much it deserves it.

8.17.2021 – experiences teach

experiences teach
appalling reluctant lack
imagination

In the book, Potsdam : the end of World War II and the remaking of Europe by Michael Neiberg, the author writes, “As the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote at the end of the war, “The man of the East cannot take the Americans seriously,” because “they have never undergone the experiences that teach men how relative their judgments and thinking habits are.” Because neither the Americans nor the British had suffered as Eastern Europe had, Milosz concluded, “their reluctant lack of imagination is appalling.”

To underline what the Russian’s suffered in World War 2, Mr. Neiberg presents data on relative civilian deaths.

As Mr. Neiberg writes, “The difference in the numbers of civilian deaths puts the case even more starkly.”

Mr. Neiberg cites:

An estimated 14.6 million Soviet civilians died in World War 2.

The British lost 67,100 civilians.

The Americans lost 1,700 civilians.

Mr. Nieberg then states, “Sometimes smaller numbers tell the story better. To cite one poignant example, the city of Stalingrad, which had a prewar population of 850,000, had just nine children with both parents still alive at the end of the war.”

I am not in a position to confirm or dispute these numbers.

I do not doubt the statement, “Because neither the Americans nor the British had suffered as Eastern Europe had, their reluctant lack of imagination is appalling.”

A lack of imagination.

I feel you have to excuse people who have lack of imagination.

My problem is an over abundant imagination.

My family is full of anecdotes about “Mike telling stories again.”

BUT a reluctant lack of imagination.

An active choice to choose to not have or use imagination.

That is an indictment.

I cannot imagine is one thing.

I will not imagine is another.

The latter in many cases, is appalling.

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If you visit there, you can tour the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

When it was built in its distinctive triangle shape, political satirist Mark Russell said it was because there wasn’t enough stuff to hang on four walls.

Ever since, locals have been working to come up with more stuff to prove Mr. Russell wrong.

One historical artifact you can see is the ‘Saigon Staircase.”

While it is NOT the stairway that reaches to the very top of the US Embassy that you see in all the photographs it IS a stairway you had to take to get to that stairway.

It still WAS part of the only way out of Saigon when the US pulled out.

Maybe its me but not really a highlight of the Ford Administration.

But they try to make it fit.

When the exhibit was opened back in 1999, former President GR Ford, said, “No doubt each visitor will interpret this staircase and its historical significance for himself. For many, it was both a way out of a nightmare – and a doorway into something incomparably better. To some it will always be seen as an emblem of military defeat.”

President Ford said, “… it symbolizes man’s undying desire to be free.”

I do not know how anyone could look at that stairway and the photographs of the US exit from Vietnam and not have the imagination to apply those images to the present time.

How can you look at those photographs with the idea of man’s undying desire to be free and not have the imagination that this could, would happen all over again?

Should not the experience have taught something?

Leaving Afghanistan was a way out of a nightmare.

The reluctant lack of imagination of what would happen once the US pulled out, is appalling.

Neither here nor there but I also came across a another speech the other day.

The speaker said:

Every gun that is made,

every warship launched,

every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,

those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers,

the genius of its scientists,

the hopes of its children.

The year was 1953.

The speaker was then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Also known as Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ike doesn’t get a lot of credit today.

I was taught that one of the criticisms of Ike as President is that he never had to handle a major crisis.

I was also taught that Ike never had to handle with a major crisis because he was the type of President that kept major crises from happening.

As Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, I think Ike had a pretty good idea of what war was and what war did.

I think he most likely had the imagination to understand what the Russians went through.

I think when Ike said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he knew what he meant and and he meant every word.

His grandson David (husband of Julie Nixon which allowed Richard Nixon to introduce himself as General Eisenhower’s Grandson’s Father-in-Law) was asked if he thought his Granddad would be best remembered for being a General or being a President?

David replied along the lines of, “This country has had 40 plus Presidents. The world has had one Supreme Commander.”

Experiences teach.

If there is the imagination to learn.

8.16.2021 – too much time to fill

too much time to fill
arranging rearranging
not last forever

Adapted from the book, Noah’s Compass (2009, Alfred A. Knopf) by Anne Tyler, and the passage:

He had too much time to fill; that was the truth of the matter. For a brief while, the fuss of moving in had entertained him—arranging and rearranging his books, scouring three different kitchen stores for the exact type of wall-mounted can opener he was used to in the old place. But that couldn’t last forever.

Part of the series of Haiku inspired by from Noah’s Compass (2009, Alfred A. Knopf) by Anne Tyler. Anne Tyler is an American novelist, short story writer, and literary critic. She has published twenty-three novels, including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourist (1985), and Breathing Lessons (1988). I came across Noah’s Compass as an audio book when living in Atlanta I commuted 1 hour each way. As the book had to deal with memories and memory loss and it involved someone my age, I was taken with the book. I have enjoyed reading most of Ms. Tyler’s work. Accidental Tourist maybe better known for the movie which I also recommend.

8.15.2021 – mush, mush, mush all night

mush, mush, mush all night
had to get the serum through
roar! ice! no escape!

If you are my age and your family had a television, you grew up watching Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons.

One of the goofy things about these cartoons is that they were created in the 1930’s for adults.

These cartoons were filled with references and asides written for that time and that audience that went right over my head.

One example that stands out is in, I think, the famous Fearless Freep cartoon where Yosemite Sam bangs on a door, yelling “Open that, Open that Open that door I say”.

Sam stops, breaks the 4th wall, and says to the audience, “Did you notice I didn’t say Richard?”

To this day, I have no clue to what Sam was talking about.

And NO I am not going to do the Google to find out.

In another cartoon, Daffy Duck is being chased by a dog and he hides in a freezer.

When the dog opens the freezer, Daffy jumps out wearing earmuffs, scarf and gloves and proclaims, “What a trip. What a trip! Blizzard all the way. Snow twenty feet deep, but we had to get the serum through. It was mush, mush, mush all night. Come on! Mush! Mush! Mush! Mush! Mush! Suddenly the glacier cracks! There’s a roar! Tons of ice! No escape! Aaaagh! How’s things been with you?”

At the time I just thought it was funny but I was clueless to what it meant.

Because of the mush, mush, mush, I knew it had something to do with dog sleds but that was about it.

Years later, I got older (didn’t grow up), I kept watching cartoons and every once in a while this one was on and through historical awareness osmosis, I became aware that this was a reference to what wikipedia calls, “the most famous event in the history of Alaskan mushing is the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the ‘Great Race of Mercy'”

Again from wikipedia, “It occurred when a large diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome. Because Nome’s supply of antitoxin had expired, Dr. Curtis Welch refused to use it and instead sent out telegrams seeking a fresh supply of antitoxin. The nearest antitoxin was found to be in Anchorage, nearly one thousand miles away. To get the antitoxin to Nome, sled dogs had to be used for part of the journey, as planes could not be used and ships would be too slow.”

Focus on that line, “It occurred when a large diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome.”

Focus on that word, “diphtheria.”

It, much like Darth Vador for Darth Vador (back when Darth was his first name), diphtheria is a perfect name for a dread disease.

It is not heard much anymore.

Due to vaccines, diphtheria isn’t the threat it used to be.

I must have been vaccinated against it.

It got me wondering what other dread diseases was I protected from so I looked it up.

According to the CDC, Americans my age have been, since childhood, protected against things like:

Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae, Pneumococcal conjugates, Polio, Influenza (IIV), Influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, Varicella m, Hepatitis A, Meningococcal, Meningococcal B, Pneumococcal polysaccharides.

I am not a Doctor so who knows what this list means or includes, but the point is, I was protected from these things.

The list of illnesses reads like a list of battles from the United States Civil War.

Manassas I and II, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Appomattox.

Battles fought with winners and losers.

Diphtheria, tetanus, polio, Influenza, measles, mumps, rubella.

Battles fought and me being the derivative winner.

These were awful things.

Awful illnesses with real and really awful results.

And I never worried about them.

And truly, I was aware of, maybe, but never really thought about it.

I just enjoyed the win.

I was protected.

No mush, mush, mush, all the way.

No snow.

No tons of ice.

BUT NOW.

Suddenly, there is a roar.

Vaccines and not in, are not cool and maybe some part of a plot.

Mush, mush mush.

No escape.

Aaaagh!

How thing’s been with us?

Daffy is a great word to start with.

8.14.2021 – vulnerable to

to gain confidence
cultivating contrary
rare perspective

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

To inoculate ourselves against this derision, and to gain confidence in cultivating a contrary, more meditative attitude towards objects, we might profitably pay a visit to a museum of modern art. In whitewashed galleries housing collections of twentieth-century abstract sculpture, we are offered a rare perspective on how exactly three-dimensional masses can assume and convey meaning – a perspective that may in turn enable us to regard our fittings and houses in a new way.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

8.13.2021 – inundated with

inundated with
advice we hear little
why and how we should

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems—that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on whereto travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

8.12.2021 – speak on topics which

speak on topics which
can readily be discerned
there might be a way

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

However, there might be a way to surmount this state of sterile relativism with the help of John Ruskin’s provocative remark about the eloquence of architecture.

The remark focuses our minds on the idea that buildings are not simply visual objects without any connection to concepts which we can analyse and then evaluate.

Buildings speak – and on topics which can readily be discerned.

They speak of democracy or aristocracy, openness or arrogance, welcome or threat, a sympathy for the future or a hankering for the past.

What Ruskin is quoted as saying is:

‘A day never passes without our hearing our architects called upon to be original and to invent a new style,’ observed John Ruskin in 1849, bewildered by the sudden loss of visual harmony.

What could be more harmful, he asked, than to believe that a ‘new architecture is to be invented fresh every time we build a workhouse or parish church?

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.