Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Something to Drink

Adding Tart Juice to the mix, and it's about time really.

Have seen the Tart here and there, mostly at Spudville and Shakes.

With a post like this one, how could I not add Tart to my tiny blogroll linky list?

I love broccoli, but not that much! ,

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hikin' the River - Update

Damn, no sooner than I talk about the river and the dangers of it, this happens:

Kayaker who died in James River identified
From NBC12 News
Monday, January 23, 2006
"Authorities have released the name of a kayaker who died in the James River over the weekend.
Karen Abse, 55, of Midlothian, was kayaking with a group of friends Saturday and got trapped under a pile of logs near Belle Isle. Police say there was nothing her friends could do to save the experienced paddler. "

I can't swim.
I catch a lot of grief about that from friends and family. I surf fish, fish the river, mountain bike, road bike, have run marathons, summited a 14,500 ft. mountain in Colorado, snow ski, basketball, soccer, camp, canoe, blah blah...but I don't swim.

When fishing the James, I almost always go alone, thus the crap piled on by my loved ones. They argue that one should not go out in the James alone, much less if you cannot swim.
My argument is: my inability to swim is the very thing that prevents me from doing anything stupid or dangerous. Besides, I carry an ID so if something does happen, the authorities will know who died. If I'm in a canoe I wear a life jacket.

I'll bet you anything that woman was an experienced and highly skilled swimmer, and that skill was useless as she was pinned down under logs. She was a skilled kayaker, she was pursuing her passion and her skill, and unfortunately the James River got her.

When biking in the mountains of Shenandoah, I considered it a victory if I made it off the mountain in one piece, limited blood and no debilitating mechanicals. Not a victory over the mountain, just a victorious ride.

Sometimes, the mountain would break my bones and break my bike. That would be a loss.

At any rate, the James River is beautiful and dangerous, proceed with caution. ,

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hikin' the river...

Last weekend I took two of my nephews for a hike along the James River. Click on the pic for a larger shot, and you can see the two little imps sittin' on a rock.
This shot is downstream about a mile from my fishing hole where we started. The water is a bit high on this day. During the summer a lot of what you see in this photo is easily traversed without getting in water above your knee.

In the summer months, the water is lower, warm and clear, and upstream there are areas that you can wade into above the waist. That's where I like to hang out. The fishing is good, the current not too strong, and the osprey dive bomb for fish.

Generally though most of the river is pretty rapid and strong, and each year the river claims it's share of people. That means if I can't jump from one rock to the other and make that same jump in reverse, I ain't goin' any further. There's a lot of holes and rocks and timber below that current and if you get pinned you're done. Having spent a couple of decades in the river, I have routes ingrained in my head that I stick too. These routes are sometimes altered if we have a severe flood.

I love the river, it's one of the reasons I stay in this city.

OWL inspired this post, thanks sista! ,

Friday, January 20, 2006

As Regards Patriotism

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of Mark Twain's autobiography. Mark Twain responded strongly to world events, especially concerning imperialism. He had become a confirmed determinist, convinced that human beings lack moral agency. I disagree with Twain on this issue but do believe that probably more humans fit in that category as do not.
In "As Regards Patriotism" we see Twain struggling to understand how citizens of a republic can substitute "patriotism" for reasoned judgment. This work was compose about 1901 but was not published in Twains lifetime. Many of Twains works were just too outside the mainstream for publication at the time he created them.

“It is agreed, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that if perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent upon him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to anyone else or not.

In Austria and some other countries this is not the case. There the State arranges a man’s religion for him, he has no voice in it himself.

Patriotism is merely a religion – love of country, worship of country, devotion to the country’s flag and honor and welfare.

In absolute monarchies it is furnished from the Throne, cut and dried, to the subject; in England and America it is furnished, cut and dried, to the citizen by the politician and the newspaper.

The newspaper-and-politician-manufactured Patriot often gags in private over his dose; but he takes it, and keeps it on his stomach the best he can. Blessed are the meek.

Sometimes, in the beginning of an insane and shabby political upheaval, he is strongly moved to revolt, but he doesn’t do it – he knows better. He knows that his maker would find it out – the maker of his Patriotism, the windy and incoherent six-dollar sub-editor of his village newspaper – and would bray out in print and call him a Traitor. And how dreadful that would be. It makes him tuck his tail between his legs and shiver. We all know – the reader knows it quite well – that two or three years ago nine-tenths of the human tails in England and America performed just that act. Which is to say, nine-tenths of the Patriots in England and America turned Traitor to keep from being called Traitor. Isn’t it true? You know it to be true. Isn’t it curious?

Yet it was not a thing to be very seriously ashamed of. A man can seldom – very seldom – fight a winning fight against his training; the odds are too heavy. For many a year – perhaps always – the training of the two nations had been dead against independence in political thought, persistently inhospitable toward Patriotism manufactured on a man’s own premises, Patriotism reasoned out in the man’s own head and fire-assayed and tested and proved in his own conscience. The resulting Patriotism was a shop-worn product procured at second hand. The Patriot did not know just how or when or where he got his opinions, neither did he care, so long as he was with seemed the majority – which was the main thing, the safe thing, the comfortable thing. Does the reader believe he knows three men who have actual reasons for their pattern of Patriotism – and can furnish them? Let him not examine, unless he wants to be disappointed. He will be likely to find that his men go their Patriotism at the public trough, and had no hand in their preparation themselves.

Training does wonderful things. It moved the people of this country to oppose the Mexican war; then moved them to fall in with what they supposed was the opinion of the majority – majority-Patriotism is the customary Patriotism – and go down there and fight. Before the Civil War it made the North indifferent to slavery and friendly to the slave interest; in that interest it made Massachusetts hostile to the other way, and she went raging South to fight under that very flag and against that foretime protected-interest of hers.

Training made us nobly anxious to free Cuba; training made us give her a noble promise; training has enabled us to take it back. Long training made us revolt at the idea of wantonly taking any weak nation’s country and liberties away from it, a short training made us glad to do it, and proud of having done it. Training made us loathe Weyler’s cruel concentration camps, training has persuaded us to prefer them to any other device for winning the love of our “wards.”

There is nothing that training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach or below it. It can turn bad morals to good, good morals to bad; it can destroy principles, it can re-create them; it can debase angels to men and lift men to angelship. And it can do any of these miracles in a year – even in six months.

Then men can be trained to manufacture their own Patriotism. They can be trained to labor it out in their own heads and hearts and in the privacy and independence of their own premises. It can train them to stop taking it by command, as the Austrian takes his religion.”

Just a guess, but I'm willing to bet Mark Twain would've joined us in this event, in response to this event.

"So what?" would be the reply from some, some that no doubt would revere Twain if they had not studied his work thoroughly, only to see that they themselves might be the very product of which he often wrote about. ,

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The War Prayer

The following is an excerpt from The War Prayer, written by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1905.

"I come from the Throne - bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import - that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of - except he pause and think."

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two - one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplicatons, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this - keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it."

"You have heard your servant's prayer - the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it - that part which the pastor - and also you in your hearts - fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it is so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the vicotry, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact in those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory - must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle - be Thou near them! With them - in spirit - we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it - for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, or Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Clemens is more widely known as Mark Twain. ,