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boats & beer

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Alvin York

Alvin York (2)

Alvin York was born in 1887 in Pall Mall , in the Tennessee mountains .

You might have seen the movie . Gary Cooper played Alvin , a hillbilly sharpshooter with a crush on a girl and determined to get some “bottom land” so he and she can get married and build a house . He had reformed his life from his fighting and drinking days and had become a devout Christian and a pacifist .

The USA gets into the world war and begins Selective Service .alvin york (3)

York reluctantly joined the Army during The Great War and was sent to France. He had tried to get out of the draft as a conscientious objector . Alvin York was by then a determined pacifist .  “He were agin’ it ,”  someone in the 1941 movie might have said .

1941 was another hot year for world wars . The draft had begun again , too , and the country desperately needed soldiers , sailors , and airmen . The movie SERGEANT YORK  was not-so-subtle symbolism for reluctant peace-loving young American men who were not hot on fighting someone else’s war somewhere across the ocean . After all , Alvin York hadn’t  wanted to go , either , but he did his duty to God and country , and he became the most highly decorated American soldier in WWI .

How he became a war hero is quite an amazing story . Corporal York took command of seven surviving men on patrol when the non-coms were killed and York attacked the German positions single-handed . Pacifist York shot 28 German soldiers , one at a time , before a German officer surrendered his 128 men and 32 machine guns . ” I teched-off the one in the back of the line first , ” York explained . Just like hunting turkeys back home , he had said .

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In later years York was reluctant to talk about his exploits . He wanted to forget the war and he tried to explain that he had only experienced  a tiny bit of it  , ” a fifty mile stretch “.

Alvin York was on the local draft board during WWII . He had tried to re-enlist , but he was too old and in poor health by then to be successful . He died in 1964 .Sergeant York

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into the wild blues yonder

I was sitting in my apartment near Robertson and Palms one day when the phone rang . It was a girl I knew from college . She and I  used to go out for a time . She was a year ahead of me in school and when she graduated I didn’t see her again . Five years had passed by the time of the phone call . Our romance had passed five years before , too , or had never really developed , more likely , but we parted as friends .

I was surprised and pleased to hear from her . It was one of those little suddenly- appearing sparks that can light up an otherwise drab day . Turns out she lived not too far from my apartment . She was teaching elementary school . I was teaching , too .

” I was looking through the school yearbook , ” she said over the phone , ” and I saw your picture , ” she said  , ” and so I decided to call . ”

This was a nice cozy explanation for the out-of-the-blue call  except for the fact that my  picture wasn’t in the yearbook . I never waited around for the graduation ceremony , either , or sat for any graduation photos or wore any cap-and-gown or threw any mortar-board in the air .

The school mailed my degree to me instead of handing it to me . Well , actually they mailed it to  another guy with the  same name as mine  who had graduated fifteen years ahead of me . Well , his middle initial was different from mine and no other facts of our lives  matched ; but , you know , school registration clerks sometimes make mistakes . This other Dan  was good enough to send my certificate  along to me with a short note telling me what had happened .KutaisiTblisi 2016 687

She asked me if I would like to come over to her place for a visit . Sure . I was thinking of some time in the future ; maybe next week .  She said , ” What about tonight ? ”

So I went . I was in my old car cruising over to the address in Santa Monica before I knew it . On the way I , naturally , was dredging up memories that I might use as conversation starters  . Ah ! The Neil Young concert ! Of course ! That would be a good topic to begin with .

She and I had gone to a Neil Young concert at Royce Hall at UCLA . Rambling Jack Elliot had opened for Neil  . What was it ,  1972 ? 1972 , give or take a year . It was a great concert . Tickets were , I think , only two dollars , but they were limited because Royce Hall has limited seating . The idea was to wait all night outside the ticket office on campus to be sure to get tickets . That idea was shared by hundreds of us , and people were drinking wine and partying all night until the ticket office opened the next morning . It was fun . She and I were there in the crowd . I thought that this would be a great memory to share to begin the conversation !

She met me at the door to her apartment . We said hello and then I immediately mentioned the Neil Young concert . Start off strong !

Her features twisted up into a sour look .  ” I’ve been trying for five years to forget that concert , ” she said .

” Huh ? ”

” Don’t you remember how we drank wine and partied all night until the ticket office opened ? ,” she said .

” Yeah . ”

” And then when we got to the window that morning you bought two tickets and  turned to me and asked how many I was going to buy ? ”

” No . I don’t remember that . ”  I had absolutely no memory of that at all .

I hadn’t even stepped into her apartment yet , but I was already defeated , already chewed up into little chunks just waiting to be spit out .  I knew , as odd as it was , that she must be  right in her recollection . I quickly tried to dredge up from my mind muck a more accurate memory of that moment than the one that I had been harboring for all of those years ; but I had  no luck whatsoever . I just didn’t remember it like that at all .

It gets worse .

” And I don’t know who that girl you were with was , but I had to sit three rows behind you and see you all through the concert , ” she said .

” I was with you , ” I said .  Dumb thing to say , I know , but that’s the way I remembered it , and so I tried foolishly to push that version a final time .    My desperate and pathetic defense , of course , didn’t fly .

” I’ve been trying for five years to forget that experience , ” she said again .bigassred

It was probably high time to turn on my heels , climb back into my old Chevy , and go back home , but she invited me in , like the spider to the fly , and in I went .

We talked awkwardly for a few minutes , mostly about the ins and outs of teaching . Teachers are always willing to talk about teaching .  And then her phone rang . She took the call in her bedroom , closed the bedroom door .  I sat out in the living room with my mineral water , or my tea , or whatever she had served me , if anything , and I waited .

I didn’t hear the words of their heated discussion , but I got an earful of the tone of the conversation . It seemed to me , and I think I’m correct to think it , that she had had a fight with her boyfriend . Temporarily lonely , or perhaps in some silly strategy to make the guy jealous , she had called me and invited me over . Maybe I was down toward the bottom of a list of guys she’s known . I hope that I was toward the bottom of the list , for her sake .

Anyhow , the guy called while I was there in her place .   I’m sure that’s what was happening .  It took them a long while arguing about the details of their spat , but they eventually came to some mutual settlement over the phone and called a truce . Of course I’m making all of this up ; but I think I’m right just the same  .

Her problem now was obvious : Dan is still in the room . Bad enough before ; but now : really awkward .

When she finally emerged from the bedroom she immediately asked me if I had to get up early to go to work . I made a show of looking at my watch . ” Oh , it’s that late already ! Sorry to run off ,” I said , ” but I have to get up early in the morning . ”  I should have  thanked her for the convenient prompt . And I was off .

Early mornings for me then, by the way  ?  No . I lived ten minutes away from the school where I was teaching in those days  and didn’t have to be at work  until 8:00 am.  —— Yet  , an acceptable justification to bug-out of a bad situation is an acceptable justification to bug -out of a bad situation . I would use the term face-saving , but I’d already lost that option at the front doorstep , and the only option left was to cut and run as soon as possible .

You sound surprised ; you shouldn’t be .

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Some of us were sitting around the dinner table when the subject of invitations that didn’t work out too well came up . I thought of this one .

I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once  .  —— Thomas Mann 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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beer and boats (2)

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beer and boats (1)

There is a blogger out in the wilds of Connecticut who has a regular feature entitled something like  “ If We Were Having a Beer ” . He mentions Yeungling in just about every one of those posts , it seems . Yeungling is a delicacy in those parts , I suspect , a relatively local brand of beer . These posts are conversations during which a variety of small talk occurs and profound revelations about life are revealed with a light humor if not light beer .

Another blogger friend of mine up in the Pacific Northwest , thus directly opposite the CT guy if one views the world  with a USA-centered bias , occasionally take us on walks around the neighborhoods of Portland. His are photograph -based wanderings  around the town and he shows us common objects that somehow take on more significance simply by being pointed out as worthy of notice .

I , despite all suspicions , fake news reports , unfounded aspersions , and flimsy evidence to the contrary , listen intently to and learn from others . In this post ( part 1 of 2 , presented in this separated manner  in order not to tire a person out ) I use the ideas of these two bloggers .

You’ll see.

I don’t have a name yet for my special feature . I don’t know if it will become a regular event or not . ( I’m going to ask my plumber his opinion ; [  a Guinness man , no less  ] ; and he’ll level with me ). Well , let’s not get ahead of ourselves . We’ll move on .

I spent part of the afternoon a few days ago having a beer at a little place down near the river . Boats were passing . I had my little camera……………………  .

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Catching on ?

Why not sit and have a beer . Take a few photos . Let the passing boats do the work .

Best of both blogs .

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solar eclipse

Hope is a waking dream . ——Aristotle

 

 

I have planned for months to take a trip up north to view the upcoming total solar eclipse that will cross the continent .  I have a sister who lives in Coos Bay , Oregon , and my plan was to stay with her . The eclipse begins to cross the continent at Lincoln City , I heard , a beach town just a few miles north of Coos Bay . I’ve been looking forward for months now  to this unique event  .

All of this , I have been thinking , would be in September , when the eclipse would happen . Imagine my surprise last week when I read that the eclipse wasn’t going to happen in September . I suppose the rest of the universe already knew this . But not me . August ? August .

The trouble is that I am in Poland and our return flight to USA is scheduled for —– let’s see…………. , oh ! , Total Eclipse Day . Yeah , we will be in the air on August 21 . I hope that the pilot knows what s/he’s doing when the sky goes dark . Does s/he have to be wearing special dark glasses ?  Don’t ask me ;  I didn’t even know when the eclipse was coming .

Sometimes I get something stuck in the nether recesses of my mind and it’s stuck in  there way too long , even when it’s hopelessly unbased in fact .

I think that a certain friend of mine , months ago , told me that the eclipse was coming September 21 . I remember that moment . We were having a burger at a place called Hook . Not that I’m passing the buck and blaming him because I’m not , but I think that that misstatement months ago was the start of my stuck-in-the-mud misdirection and subsequent stubborn confusion .

The thing that worries me most about this is that my brain is probably full of this kind of misinformation . I am fully aware that much of what I think is real is real only for me and that other people see the world differently . I guess that’s life and the reality of individual realities . Had I paid more attention in philosophy class in college I might be better able to  explain this stuff . Meanwhile , I just mention it as one of the doubts I would have if I were one to ponder the intricacies of life in such a manner .

Luckily , I tend not to ruminate on such matters in such a manner if I can help it . ( I can almost hear Ada right now and other people who know me saying : ” Duh!” in a loud chorus . Even my plumber made a mildly censorious comment  [ if there is such a thing ] about the placement of a new toilet — but I won’t go into that right now .).  I think you’ll only drive yourself crazy to contemplate deeply serious aspects of life too often or too seriously . I think Kant said that .   Maybe it was Rod McKeun , though .  Socrates ? Mark Twain ?

Okay , forget it .

Oh , I’m not saying that I’m right . My apologies to you intellectuals out there , to you philosophers , to you diligent and thoughtful monks discussing issues such as how many angels will fit comfortably on the head of a pin .  (My Jesuit high school teachers would already be asking, I suspect  : What are the parameters of the pin ? The philosophy lecturer at UCLA would be asking : How do we even know the pin is actually there ? ) But , well , we all have a right to our own perceptions and misperceptions . Or , maybe we don’t . There must be a class out there , perhaps on-line : Philosophical Foundations of the Morality of Perception .  (But , I’m not going to sign up for it .)

But , you may have noticed , philosophers don’t run the world ( as far as I can tell ) . Angels , as I understand the abstraction , don’t run the world either . But these superficial observations  are  neither here nor there for our purposes today . So let’s move on .

I kind of wish that I had paid more attention to the actual date of this total solar eclipse . The last one across the US  , I read , happened  in 1979 . I don’t know how they work exactly , but I might have to wait until , say , about 2054 to watch the next one . Yeah ? I don’t know ; are they on a strict schedule ? ( Science was not one of my strong points in school , either, obviously ! I was lost , for example , in Chemistry 1 in 10th grade as soon as the teacher started discussing moles , which popped up in the first chapter of the textbook.  ) .

Too late in the game by 2054 or 2055 , I think .

Reminds me of the joke about the 100 year old man who volunteers to umpire a little league baseball game . The coaches are skeptical . They question him about his eyesight . He points out far- off objects and he describes them  in detail until the coaches are convinced that his sight is excellent and that he can do the job .ODDs and ENDs Poland 2015 009

Then the first pitch . The old man is silent .

Was it a strike ? Was it a ball ? He is still silent . The coaches begin to loudly question him . What was it ?  Make the call !

The old man says : ” I forgot .”

Jeez. I can’t even get the month of the eclipse straight ,  at my current age . Imagine me at the time that the next total solar eclipse passes across the continental US .  I wouldn’t put much hope in anticipation of any extraordinary powers of observation  of mine by then .

But , we’ll see .bb 2

train of thought

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big boat

Ada told me about the cruise ship that would be down at the dock until 4:00 pm , so I decided to go take a quick look . I figured that  were it a really big one  it would be across the river somewhere .

But no . It was a big one and it was parked right out front . I didn’t bring my camera with me for my little walk , so I went back to the apartment to get it . It  only took me a few minutes to get back with the camera .Poland mushrooms etc. 2017 013

I took a few shots of the ship . Small river cruise boats arrive frequently in the summer here , but I’ve never seen  one this large here until today . Polish naval ships visit for Navy Days , which seems to happen fairly often , or maybe for other festivals too , but they don’t match this cruise ship’s size  . Remember , this is a river port .

When I showed Ada the photos , she said , ” It’s not that big ,” like I was exaggerating the whole thing . There are the photos !  She wasn’t impressed .

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