Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Herd

A  one year Facebook memory popped up the other day. It extolled the virtues of not running with the pack and being independent and free from the pressures of the group. 

I have done my best over the years to embrace this lifestyle, this shoveling sand against the tide. I have seen mixed results. Trying to buck the system, any system, is fraught with pitfalls and dangers that at times I did not understand and sometimes could not handle. But I guess always being ready for "the good fight" is better than the alternative of being someone's or something's bitch 24/7.

I owe my life long efforts at trying to defy convention and finding my own path to my early years as a vagabond military brat. Every year or two years I was dealing with a new town in a new state or country.  It has served me well, this growing up in the middle of so many different perspectives, prejudices, and regional mentalities. I think I was better able weed out group bullshit better as an adult because of my formative years as a nomad. 

Peer pressure meant little to me by the time I was a productive member of society. And I have always tended to respect the disruptors, the folks who march to their own tunes and don't, without question, follow the herd.  

I can understand the draw of belonging to a herd. Allowing a group to take over many of the decisions for us can and often does make life a little smoother on the surface. But all too often, falling into the trap of the herd, we lose the ability to think for ourselves. We stop wondering. We stop asking. We just go with the flow, and become blind followers without a clue.

Groups often are only as moral and ethical as long as the end goals of the group are achieved or seem within reach. Herd mentality though, can destroy the herd's moral and ethical base if the herd perceives threats to them or their doctrines. The herd will forgo what's right for the path of least resistance. The first casualty is often the moral code of the group. 

The folks who question the herd's intentions open themselves up to being ostracized, ridiculed and condemned. "Get along or get out" is all too often the first knee jerk reaction of the herd. The group often sees any question as a disloyal attack on them.

Adherence to the group's morals is diluted as the herd gets larger. The herd's goals often become more about keeping the rank and file under control than following the playbook of ethics created with good intentions in the herd's beginnings. The older the herd, the more intractable the beliefs, the usual result.

I respect the complainers who stand up to the insanity of a herd on the wrong track. I may not agree with them, which is often the case; but I admire their strength of purpose to stand up and defy the herd they belong to. Without these pain in the ass people who call bullshit when they perceive it, the herd would probably have taken us over the cliff long ago. 

Somehow, Humanity has had enough people holding enough feet to enough fires that the species has managed to survive this long. The person who stands up to the Herd when they think it has turned a wrong corner is the bravest of us all, even if they are wrong.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..................................


Took awhile, but I found the song that fits the temperament I wrote this post with. If any song supports standing up for yourself, Tom Petty's, " I Won't Back Down ",does the job and does it well. Over the years I have paid a price for times I didn't back down. ....... I don't regret those times. Regrets have never done a thing for me in the long run.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

R.I.P. Brooks Robinson

I don't have many baseball heroes. I'm not prone to that kind of adoration. I love sports, but tend to support the team over the individual. I can become fanatical at times. Usually, I respond like most sane people. I root for the team and root hard, but never have I participated in a fist fight or even a heated argument to prove my loyalty to any team, even when I was two or three beers over the line. I keep sports in the box marked, "Keep it Sane". It's about having fun. Fighting lost its allure for me in military school.

Back in the late 1960's, I saw my first big league game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in Baltimore. I forget now who the Orioles played. I do remember they lost. What sealed the love I would later reward myself with by return visits, was an argument the O's head coach, Earl Weaver, had with the home plate umpire.

The heated discussion happened in a late inning. Pint sized Earl runs out of the dugout and over to the home plate ump who was a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than Earl.. He starts gesticulating wildly and pointing in the direction of the wrong his team just suffered at the hands of an obviously incompetent umpire crew. He finished with a grand kick of dirt on the umps shoes. He was ejected from the game. I do not remember the point of the argument. I would later learn, Earl didn't need a point; the man just loved getting in the faces of the umpires. Most of all, I think he loved being booted out of the game. That was entertainment I could not get on the TV. 

Earl's antics made me want to come back. The players on the team at that time kept me coming back. The O's fielded great teams in the late 1960's and early 1970's. They won the World Series in 1970 and several American League championships. 

There were so many good players on the Orioles' roster then, I could not pick a favorite. But Brooks Robinson was definitely high on my list. Watching him play third base was watching maybe the greatest third basemen of all time. He was a big man with a big arm and the ability to move with a smaller man's agility. While it was his defensive abilities at third base that sealed his greatness, he often kicked some serious butt at the plate.

So Brooks has passed. Another sports star from my early years is gone. Such is the way of the world and Life. In his passing, Brooks once more brought me joy as I remembered his part in creating my love of baseball. 

Thank You, Brooks Robinson. ...........................................

A BTW or  an Afterword - If you want more information on Brooks, start here.

(Thanks to J. Akers for the image at the top)


There is only one song to play after an Oriole's Baseball post. That's right, a rock remix of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Beauty is All Around Me

Above are some local photos by local folks that make me appreciate the beautiful town I live in.

These images are but a few of the many local moments of serenity that capture the awesome beauty surrounding me here in Acton, Maine. Our landscapes for the most part are understated rather than grand, in your face explosions of skies melting into mountains or waves crashing on rocky shores. Acton's beauty is often so subtle it is easy to miss.  But it is indeed there.

Beauty exists everywhere if we take time to look for it.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .....................................


Music for this post is a song by. Kacey Musgraves, "Oh What a World". She sings about the wonders of this planet and how we often miss them. I can relate.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Self Imposed Slavery

I think most of Humanity have felt like slaves at various points in their lives. As Bob Dylan insisted during his Born Again years, we all gotta serve somebody.

Wage slave, sex slave, substance abuse slave, slave to self image, slave to personal demons, slave to greed, a slave to a religion or political ideal.; the list is endless. 

The slavery we find in our lives is not the traditional slavery of chains, whips, and toiling in fields day in and day out. The type of slavery I am talking about sneaks in under our radar and before we can react, it is part of our lives, ruling our lives, diverting us from the path we started out on. 

In the course of living, we often find ourselves slaves to ideas, actions, or groups. If we fall deep enough into the quagmire of letting others control a major portion of our brains, before we know it, we have become embroiled in activities and actions we would never have entertained before. Our slavish commitment to something can blind us to the morality or ethics of those actions or ideas. We end up not caring what our actions mean for others who are not on our page. We fall into this trap and we can turn ourselves into assholes who no longer care about how we do it, it is the end result that matters.

If you have made it this far, then I'll get to my point now. 

The worst of the pit falls is the slavery we sign up for with our eyes wide open. We sell our souls for shiny baubles and comfortable shoes. Clarence Thomas, associate Justice of the Supreme Court is the perfect poster boy. 

At one time in his life before he became jaded and hardened to the World he grew up in,he may have been someone who actually believed in the rule of law for the Better Good of all. Based on how he has acted since he entered the practice of Law, I think that moment of commitment to the Better Good was but a brief flirtation. He wanted what rich White Men had and has spent his adult life in pursuit of the trappings of the Rich.White Men by doing their bidding. To attain that, he sold himself into servitude of selfish and greedy Plutocrats and amoral business interests.

I might feel sorry for Clarence except for the fact that he jumped at the chance to lick the boots of the White ruling class. He wasn't brainwashed by doctrine. He became a slave to greed, just as his masters were. He never cared about the people he was supposed to serve, he was and still is only interested in the whims of the top 1% of the population. They keep giving him rich folks leftovers and tokens but not the full membership in their club he so much desires above all else.

Clarence Thomas is a shill, a lackey, and yeah, he is a kind of slave. But he is a willing slave and has been his whole adult life. He is a dangerous man with too much power. I couldn't bear him more ill will than I do now. He slithers around at the bottom of the GOP swamp like a toad buried in muck looking for a fat fly to snag. The Right Wing bosses tolerate him as long as he does their bidding.

Go fuck yourself Clarence. You are a dishonorable man and a shameful excuse for a Supreme Court Justice. If ever there was a reason for packing the court, it is your disgraceful presence on that bench.. 

Later Gators ..........................................


In Bob Dylan's Born Again days, his music took a more spiritual turn. "Gotta Serve Somebody" from the album, "Slow Train Coming" is an example. He restricts his choices of who we have to serve to Satan or God. I contend there any number of things in Life that can enslave us.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Being Lazy

Contrary to popular belief, it is not so easy to be lazy. Being truly proficient at lethargy takes years of practice and intense concentration. So many people do not harness the true power of laziness. They spend their lives fighting the inevitability of it by performing yard work, having a paying job, having kids, and shoveling snow, blah, blah, blah. Somehow they delude themselves that doing something, any something, is somehow better than doing nothing. They are so wrong. A certain amount of loafing or as I call it, screwin the pooch, is a necessary and integral part of making a safe and sane passage from the cradle to the grave.

I have proven laziness as a viable and often healthier alternative to being fruitful by my many years of slothful introspection. Being lazy is as important as being the busy beaver. And there is no question about striking a balance between the two. When in doubt about whether to be a worker bee or a slug, always consider the slug first. 

If one wants to really understand the total bliss of laziness without the guilt that usually comes along for the ride, one needs to develop a mindset that assures whatever needs doing today will still need doing tomorrow; so why not put it off until tomorrow? If we skip it today, that which needs doing today ensures our schedule stays full with at least one task that justifies our commitment to laziness. We suffer no empty days if there is always a chore undone. 

Undoing and rescheduling the "to do list" can be a daunting task. One must relax and clear their mind in order to do it right. Doing nothing seems the best approach to make this happen. Over thinking the best way to be lazy quickly becomes counterproductive to keeping one's sphincter un-clinched. Don't agonize, people die stressing too much. A blank mind is almost always the best approach.

It appears I have a natural innate talent for intense torpidity. There is a path of little resistance between my productive mindset and Mike, the couch potato: especially now that I am retired. Convenient excuses to skip work are popping up more and more the older I get. With so much effort put in over the years pursuing laziness, I now can enjoy it without as much shame as I heaped on my shoulders in years past. 

The problem is, now I would like to tip the balance between fruitful behavior and couch potato more to the fruitful side. Because of chronic inactivity in recent years, my body has not been up to the task. But it is beginning to turn around. 

Bottom line here is, ........ no matter which way I live, I will end up dead. So enjoying Life is the main point no matter which way I lean. Any anguishing I might have tortured myself with in years past, well, that was wasted time; which is the worse thing I could do. Way worse than doing nothing.

A parting thought here as I get ready to close this post:

If we were not designed to be lazy, why then did we invent hammocks?

 Keep it 'tween the ditches .............................................................


Tough job picking music associated with being lazy. The first one I picked, "Daydream" by The Lovin Spoonful I thought would be it. But I felt in order to be fair, I needed to continue a token search. A song by a group I lost touch with over the years jumped out at me and forced my hairs to stand on end. "Lazy" on the album "Machine Head" by Deep Purple brought me instantly back to a concert at the DAR Hall in Washington DC when I was really younger and quite a few IQ points dumber.

The concert for me was the poster child perfect concert from the early 1970s. The band played hard and long. The crowd of stoned out freaks danced their way into a frenzy and suddenly I was on the stage stumbling around in time to "Lazy". I blacked out shortly thereafter awakening at dark thirty in the morning locked in a stairwell at the concert hall. My friends had abandoned me.

I got the last laugh though. They were pulled over for driving erratically. They were so out of it, they spent the night in a DC jail and had to have parents pick them up later that next day. Me, well about 10 AM, a janitor found and released me from my own personal Hell in the stairwell. All the way home on the bus, I cursed my friends and conjured up payback of varying levels and intensities. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Useless People

If any recent action by the GOP proves they have no plan for the country other than Anti-Woke performative politics, their recent righteous indignation over changing the senate's dress code proves it. They are not interested in the flagrant illegalities of Trump or any other issue that truly affects this country. No ........... They are up in arms over Sen. Schumer changing the Senate dress code.

Our own useless Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, who has been keeping her head down in recent months, perked up and said yesterday (Monday):

"I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor and [Sen.] Chris Coons [D-DE] is gonna wear shorts because there's no dress code anymore,"

Asked why the change bothered her, Collins fell back into her GOP lackey role and replied: 

"Because I think there is a certain dignity that we should be maintaining in the Senate, and to do away with the dress code, to me, debases the institution."

Who is she kidding? Changing the dress code debases the Senate? 

Sorry sweetheart, the debasement, as you put it, happened  the moment you Republican clowns embraced Donald Trump as your hero. The Right has done nothing but debase everything good about America ever since. They are slime and I hope to live long enough to see their party go belly up and die as a political force in this country.

Go fuck yourself Susan.

Okay, I feel better. Nobody besides Trump gets me wound up as much as Susan Collins does. She is a sad excuse for a leader. It's no surprise she is a Republican.

Later ................................................


"Only a Fool Would Say That", by Steely Dan, is a song that targets John Lennon. Reportedly, Donald Fagan was not impressed with John Lennon's  1971 album, "Imagine". As it turns out, neither was I. My disdain was ignored, but Fagan wrote "Only a Fool...." about his disdain. As usual with any Steely Dan tune, it is top notch music and better now than when it came out back in the day.

Monday, September 18, 2023

When the Deluded Eat 'Ludes

I promised myself, which I presume also includes anyone who might stumble across my blog,.... Uh, yeah I promised myself to not post about Trump. If I couldn't, it better be a rare moment of madness and be over quickly. Any words written about the Orange Puke are wasted moments for me.

Well, this is one of those rare moments. It happened too soon after I made the vow to myself. But there it is, The Orange Asshole owns a part of my brain. It will be awhile before he doesn't. 

I ran across this quote that referred to the Donald's cognitive abilities. 

The quote speaks for itself and succinctly exposes Trump's failure to lock into reality. His steadfast refusal to take responsibility for anything indicates he has been taken over by a Napoleonic delusion of grandeur. He is acting like a delusional mental ward escapee who ate some Qualudes and is now insisting from his soap box he is right and the majority of people are wrong.

The Emperor has no clothes and Trump along with his slacked jaw minions just do not care. They are determined to inject their fear mongering madness into our country's soul. They seem intent on destroying with no thought as to what might replace it.

Two or three years ago, I decided that on occasion any healthy political system needs to be challenged and challenged hard. With that in mind it seems our system of government has had at least one serious self inflicted challenge in each of the centuries it has existed. 

In the 1800's, it was the Civil War and Westward Expansion. In the 1900's, it was two World Wars followed by opposing ideologies fighting for prominence in the 1950's, 60's and 70's. And now we have our first real self inflicted threat of this 21st century and I see it as a doozy. I am still hoping we can weather the latest and near future madness and come out on the other side none the worse for wear. In the meantime, I won't hold my breath.

There will always be challenges and moments of chaos. We need them to keep our system healthy and as honest as possible. These chaotic moments need to play out. Each time we defeat the assholes intent on trying to divert our country from the path our forefathers set us on, we increase the likelihood that the next challenge will be easier to face. 

There is no bigger threat to our way of life than the threats from within our own borders.  We are our own worse enemy. 

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................


I picked this Metal song from Sprung Monkey because first and foremost, I like it. Most likely many who fire it up will not like it. ..................Oh well.

“White Trash” lyrics

Well you act like I should know you
Yes you act like I should care
Abrasive in your actions
Throwing your style everywhere
White trash, low cash thieving lying ignorance
One time, last time
You are not my f**king friend
No you are not my friend
Well you act like I should know you
Yes you act like I should care

Abrasive in your actions
Throwing your style everywhere
White trash, low cash thieving lying ignorance
One time, last time
You are not my f**king friend
No you are not my friend
I can see you are heading right straight into nothing
No you are not my friend
No you are not my friend

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Eating Out

My wife and I went on a much needed re-supply run to Market Basket down to Rochester, NH yesterday. There was nothing unusual about it other than it had been 4 weeks since we hit a grocery store. Our usual food shopping rhythm is two weeks, sometimes three. Needless to say we were out of not just the basics, but many of the miscellaneous support foodstuffs that help keep our diet from being too boring.

Neither my wife nor I are "shoppers" like the folks who knock down Walmart greeters on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. We shop because we have to. We don't hate it. We just see it as another needed chore that is best done quickly and then forgotten until the next time we need to refill our larder with the common foods found in American homes where folks still cook meals on occasion.

 Our normal grocery shopping routine is to hit Market Basket after 5:00 PM on a weekday. The place is not so jammed up with antsy, obnoxious customers who think they are the only customers in the store. But before we shop, we always hit a fast food place so we don't carry our hunger in with us to the grocery store.

Yesterday, we switched gears and went to a sit down restaurant with a waitstaff and porcelain plates. It was the 110 Grill, one of those chain satellite restaurants that locate near bigger chain anchor stores like Walmart, Target, and the New Hampshire Liquor stores,...... You get my point.

Over the years I have had mixed feelings about eateries of any kind. I ran into so many bad food experiences when I was driving trucks over the road, I came to rely on chain restaurants of one kind or another. The food was more likely to be consistent no matter where I was. For a long time the only meal I bought at McDonalds usually consisted of  2 fish sandwiches, small fries, and a coffee. I lived on them and sometimes the fare of various truck stops I had learned to trust.

So I was wary when we walked into the 110 Grill. I walked out a happy and content man. The menu was basic with not too many choices. The food was very tasty and the service was excellent. Best of all, the cost was reasonable.

I had a sausage burger with their sauce on it and their version of onion rings on the side. Both were unique and tasty. I also had their signature beer. Forget the name, but it was also very good. My wife had a cheeseburger and fries. She came away very pleased. Portions were decent and in the case of my sandwich, it was not the usual fare. I really liked it.

All in all, I would recommend the 110 Grill to anyone traveling in New England or upstate New York along the Mohawk Trail. And if you have allergies or that concerns you, 110 Grill is supposedly one of the Top 10 allergy aware restaurants out there. The waitress made a point of asking us twice if we had any allergies they should be aware of.

Next time I plan to pony up for a steak, .......... medium rare.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ......................................


Tough one to pick appropriate music for. I did find one song that kinda, sorta, fits. Please enjoy "Johnston's Grocery Store", by Lost and Fund, a traditional bluegrass band. Never heard of them, but I should have. They are a damn good.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Flying Under My Radar

Just when I think I am pretty aware of the political chaos swirling around us here in the States, I am once again humbled by news I should have paid attention to long before I was made aware of it now. I am referring this time to Alex Stokes, who was arrested on Jan.6, 2021 at a demonstration not in DC, but in front of the state capitol in Albany, New York. His arrest led to a trial where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His story was overwhelmed and lost in all the outrage over what transpired in DC on the same day he was arrested in Albany. 

I could re-cap the events of that day. Instead here is a video that mostly covers the events that went down in front of the NY state Capitol at the same time the traitors in DC were staging an assault on the US Capitol. 

The video clearly shows the MAGA aggressors, some armed with sticks and flag poles, initiated the stupidity. The Assault with a dangerous weapon charges came about because Alex defended himself with a knife when he was set on by a very aggressive Proud Boy.

Nobody died at this demonstration. While both the Right Wing demonstrators and a smaller crowd of Left Wing counter protesters clashed, it was members of the Left the police unjustly targeted the most once the melee had played itself out.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, 360 miles away, Trump's army of over 2000 thugs and traitors attempted a violent coup on the steps of the US Capitol. People died and property damages were in the millions of dollars. Most of those who faced charges in court later would most likely receive probation or minimal time in jail.

I know Life is not fair. But when it is blatantly this unfair, people need to know about it. If you have interest in helping Alex, check out this site, The Anti-Fascist Defence Fund. Donations clearly marked for Alex will be passed on to the appeal efforts to free him.

Considering the limp wristed sentences passed out for the Capitol Traitors, Alex's sentence is a tragic travesty of Justice. 

More about Alex Stokes HERE and HERE 

Later ...............................................


Music tonight is brought to you by The Cranberries and their song, "Zombie". Pushed to wow is the recommended volume. But you decide.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

First Legal Doob

The other day I bought my first legal joint from a cannabis store in Lebanon, Maine. And though pot has been legal in Maine since the election in November of 2016, it felt very odd to walk into a store and come out with weed. .............. Really odd.

Since I have grown my own Doob for years, I seldom had need to try commercial weed. I wanted to check out how buying Doob over the counter would go. I brought a friend along who was well versed in most of the pot shops within a 40 mile radius. As it turned out he was less than useless other than being able to put pins in the atlas. But we had some fun when we got back to his place.

The shop I picked was on the border with New Hampshire. I walked in the front door, which in any other building would have been the side door. It opened into what looked like a very small waiting room one might find at any doctor or dentist's office. There was a window over a counter with a slot under it. Behind the glass sat a gregarious young man who asked me first:

"Is this your first time visiting us here at East Coast Cannabis?"

How did he know? I smiled though and told him it was. He asked for some ID. I slid my license through the slot. He took a picture of it and slid it back through the slot. He then gave me a well worn spiel of how this visit would go down. 

He pushed a button that released the next door and I proceeded into the main store. The showroom was small, maybe 100 sq feet. It was new, cool, and hip people waited behind a counter to sell me whatever I could want in the way of Cannabis products. Well, as it turned out, they did not sell seeds. Mentally, I scratched them off my list of future visits. There was absolutely no bud, or as they refer to it at the store, no flower anywhere to be seen. I was directed to two flat screens hanging on a wall. A multitude of pot strains were listed with their price per quarter ounce, eighth ounce, and rolled joints, blunts and regular. Prices seem to be based on THC content. I looked the choices over, picked a pre-rolled blunt with a claimed THC content of 34% and proceeded to the cash register.

Before I could tell the neo hippie behind the counter what I wanted, he immediately began what was a another well worn spiel he had to give before selling. It went something like:

"We only accept cash, so if you need an ATM, there is one outside at the far end of the building. We do allow you to inspect any product we sell, just let us know what to fetch from the back. There is no removing the flower from the sealed containers for a sniff or a squeeze. All sales are final .......... Now, how can I help you."

All business and professional to this point until I told him my choice, "White Truffle Avalanche".

"You know sir, the Avalanche has a 34% THC level. It is fortified with kief. Maybe for your first visit you might want to pick, oh, maybe the "Pure Durban" or "Blue Gelatti". 

I stopped him before he could name any other strains available. And because he called me "Sir" with hint of condescension, I said:

"Son, how old are you?'

He looked startled. 

"Uh what? How old am I, uh well if it matters, I'm 29."

"Well, I've been smoking pot twice as long as you have been alive. I began growing it in college and then  grew it off and on until this year. I long ago learned to school myself regarding the drugs I ingested. I doubt seriously the "Avalanche" is going to make me cry for my momma or send me to the ER."

He said nothing. His face hardened and he stepped back. "I will be right back with your pre-roll."

He came back with the pre-roll inisde a little glass tube with a cork stuffed in it. My first thought was, "No wonder this joint costs $15.45."

He slipped the pre-roll into a black zip lock bag. I gave him a twenty, got my change and I left.

All in all, if this first experience is any indication of what I can expect if I ever visit another Recreational retail pot shop, I will not be visiting many of them again and actually spending money unless they have seeds to sell. That is my next quest; to find seeds produced in Maine. It would be wonderful to not be paying some outfit in the Netherlands each year.

The verdict on the kief enhanced "White Truffle Avalanche" was a big ho hum, underwhelmed reaction from both my friend and myself. It was certainly good pot. No doubt about that. But neither my friend nor I found it to be worth $15.45. That's okay. I threw some support to a local pot shop and later enjoyed a nice buzz. 

Keep it tween the ditches ......................................


I thought of the song for this post before I wrote it. This song was an anthem for a small group of heads I often shared joints with back in the day we had all our teeth and all our hair (well except from Tommy, he was bald at age 18 before he even went to college).

Here is "Don't Bogart Me", by Fraternity of Man from the 1969 movie "Easy Rider".

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

The Traveling Wall

Between the ages of 7 and 15, I spent most of that time living in and around Washington DC. As a small punk, I first rode my bike from Chevy Chase to the Smithsonian when I was in second grade. From then on my friends and I spent many hours using the federal triangle as our own personal playground. There not many rules we wouldn't break.

I was such a fixture around the reflecting pool one summer, some of the park police knew my name, having chased and sometimes caught me and friends who were out and about adding our bit of madness to the mania that is DC in the summer.

We knew the federal triangle well and the reflecting pool area even better. We used to race up the stairs of the Washington Monument. Whoever won both directions was a stud until the next time we came.

To this day, the one monument that makes me cry every time is the Vietnam Memorial. I have always felt if there is one site that needs to be seen when visiting as a tourist, it is the Vietnam Memorial. It is one of the top five most visited memorials down there. I know of no one who has walked the length of that memorial and come out unaffected. 

No matter what might be going on around it, the mood is always somber and respectful as people and families search for a loved one or friend whose name has been chiseled into the black granite walls. It is a place for quiet consideration and introspection.

The impact of over 58,000 names carved in marble is often overwhelming. Some folks cry their eyes out, while others stand mute,head down. Families cluster here and there while Grandpa or Uncle Hank rub the name of a loved one or fellow soldier who did not make it home.

So, it is odd that I did not know the wall has also been on the road since 1996. Yes, a 3/4 size version of the wall is traveling around the USA for folks who may not have seen it. It is here in Sanford, Maine. It will be here til Sunday, September 10th.

I will be sure to visit it.


There is only one song that is my "Vietnam" song. Here is "Fortunate Son", by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism was and still is the primary drive of the history lessons taught in American schools.  It is not unusual.  Any country harboring international intentions seems to push chauvinistic versions of their past and their plans for the future in order to reinforce how special their country is compared to the neighbors, allies, and enemies spread around the Globe. We have convinced ourselves that America is the most altruistic, fair, and benevolent country on the planet. We always use our power for good, not evil.

Bullshit. The primary purpose of our "altruism" is to enhance our position on the geopolitical landscape. Self interest is the lily we gild with a multitude of noble claims like so much filigree on a lace doily. 

The perception of what is evil and what is not is in the eye of the beholder. Most foreign policies are amoral agendas wrapped in the propaganda of nationalism. Most foreign policy is exploitative in nature and designed to reap rewards that benefit the benefactor in some way, if not in every way. Seldom does a country help a neighbor without an unspoken agenda or expectation of reciprocity in the future. Influence, riches, or market access are often the end games.

We Americans have convinced ourselves the USA is the greatest country in the World. To question that notion is unpatriotic.  If so, then I guess I am unpatriotic.  We are not that great and since Trump squatted in the White House, our position in the hierarchy of world leaders has plummeted. We are now nothing but a huge collection of fifty banana republics. If one political group has their way, this trend will continue in our foreseeable future.

Americans, like the British before them equate power to greatness.  If one is only using economic and/or military factors as their barometer, then yes, America was and and still might be a great country.  To me, the word "Great" is much more than just economic and military might. A great country first needs to fill the needs of its populations without exploitation. And in that respect, America is failing miserably, contrary to the publicly spewed Rah, Rah America bullshit; the worst of which is generated on the political Right.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .........................................


While this song is not directly about American Exceptionalism. It is certainly about one of the building blocks America has used to build our overblown opinion of ourselves. Here is Bruce Hornsby and  "The Way It Is". It is his critical look at Civil Rights in this country. I love the way this guy plays the piano.

* Image at top is, and I am guessing, a political cartoon from around the turn of the last century when America began to really flex its geopolitical muscles.

Friday, September 01, 2023

National No Rhyme or Reason Day

Today is National "No Rhyme or Reason Day". With the deepest of respect for today, I am posting images that have nothing to do with the post other than they are nice pictures taken in town earlier this summer.

Nowhere can I find universal agreement on what exactly the day is all about. I know it is dedicated to the idiosyncrasies of the English language. I guess we are supposed to embrace the odd words, words that don't rhyme, like orange, and generally have fun mucking up the mother tongue because all the grammar Nazi's started their long weekend yesterday.

I have always liked words and enjoyed adding new ones to my vocabulary when the opportunity pops up. I especially like learning new twists on words that give them newer and more fun meanings. 

Take the word "Seppo". 

An Australian family moved in across the street from us when we lived on Roosevelt Street in Bethesda, Maryland back in the early-ish 1960s. The dad was part of the Australian diplomatic crew based down on Embassy Row deep inside Washington, DC. I became friends first with their son, Mike, and then with the rest of the family. 

Mr Booker was a big fellow with a thick Aussie accent. On weekends when he loosened his tie, he would drink beer. Not just a beer, nor a normal sized beer. He would start at noon on Saturday and start chugging big cans of Foster's lager, which he felt was the only decent beer in the United States.

Once he got tuned up some, his careful diplomatic cover would fail him and he would often start in ranting and raving about the "God Damned Seppos". Usually when he got like this Mike and I would find somewhere else to be, but one day I was invited to an afternoon hoe down where all the adults sat around and watched Mr. Booker chug Foster's and chase shrimp around his barbie. 

Since this huge man seemed in a good mood, I marshaled up some balls and asked him what a Seppo was and why did he seem to hate them so much. He explained to me that he didn't hate Seppos, they just drove him crazy in his job. He went on to tell me that a Seppo was an Aussie term for Americans. It was used as a term of endearment and also a term of derision. It depended on the situation. 

"But why Seppo?"

"Well, Seppos are what we call septic tanks in Australia. Don't know why we call Americans septic tanks? We just do...... Maybe its because we think it is more polite to use Seppo than call you Americans Assholes".

Aussie civility at its best.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .....................................


No rhyme or Reason day indicates I should pick a song that is totally from left field. Today, its "Hey Nineteen", by Steely Dan. Enjoyed best at a mellower volume I think.