Saturday, July 15, 2017

Acceptance

The current issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about nuclear brinkmanship by Mark Bowden, Can North Korea Be Stopped?  Bowden is the author of the best battle book I've ever read, Blackhawk Down about the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

During the current president's term, the rogue nation North Korea is likely to obtain nuclear missiles it can deliver to the US mainland.  I live in Washington DC, so it's less of a concern for me as the residents of Los Angeles.  It's about 7800 miles from North Korea to DCA, and "only" about 5800 miles to LAX, probably a reachable distance for North Korean nuclear-tipped missile in a few years, or maybe months.  North Korean leader, the semi-god dictator for life Kim Jong-Un, has assured America that he will create a "sea of fire" here, or in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere for transgressions against the sovereignty of North Korea that his fevered mind perceives or conjures up. Apparently it's personal, because the Young One wants to stay in power for life and he intends to do this with a nuclear arsenal and a fevered populace whipped into a frenzy of rhapsodic xenophobia by fiery state-controlled rhetoric.

People of Los Angeles, do you want your personal safety to rest in the palm of President Trump's hand?  Unless you're related to him, do you think he has your best interests in mind?  But it is him who will act upon this threat, or not act. And the issue will be resolved by 2020, I am sure, one way or another.  The likely outcomes to me seem to line up along three main possibilities: a bombastic nuclear North Korea to be dealt with (acquiescence), a nuclear, chemical or biological desert somewhere (the light military option, turning the screws a little more tightly, with unpredictable results), or a vassal state in North Korea controlled by America, South Korea or China, with millions of Asians and thousands of Americans dead with possibly still an ongoing war or world war (the heavy military option).

Bowden lays out four options for the US, based upon the certainty that North Korea, in its current state, will never give up its nuclear program or ambitions because the Young One views this as essential to its, or his, survival.  None of the realistic options are good, as Bowden points out.

Prevention envisions a massive military strike suddenly launched by the US either with or without South Korea that a) would be a surprise to the Hermit Kingdom of the north; b) hopes China would idly stand by; c) involves Seoul, 40 miles south of the DMZ, being subjected to hours or days of massive artillery bombardment with horrendous casualties (not to mention Tokyo being subjected to a missile, or nuclear, attack by the north only about 800 miles away) and d) imagines everything going like clockwork (no fog of war) and that the North Korean army doesn't escape to Manchuria or the mountains of North Korea (or South Korea) to form a formidable guerrilla army.  It is unimaginable that this option would go well, even if the US could sneak a million soldiers into South Korea along with several air fleets and many naval units offshore and the South Koreans would cooperate, even if that meant merely standing by (their people would suffer the most).

Turning the Screws is the military option lite.  It imagines limited but aggressive military responses to provocations like bombing nuclear production sites whenever a test missile is fired or a nuclear device is detonated (tested).  An attempt at altering the north's state of mind and behavior with a firm cause/effect infliction of force.  It's hardly likely that this approach would work and either North Korean behavior probably wouldn't change one whit except to become even more determined or insidious, and it could easily and quickly slide into the scenario outlined above, only without the surprise start.

Decapitation is a third alternative being considered.  Take out the Young One with a pinpoint strike of some sort and hope that a more reasonable leader would assume power who could be pressured or bought off or reasoned with to abandon nukes.  This seems highly unlikely because it's not like we could send a drone over to drop a bomb on the North Korean leader (it would be shot down) and the US doesn't send suicide squads out (this would be more complicated than the ill-fated mission to rescue the Teheran hostages under President Carter, which doomed his presidency).  If such an attempt was made and it failed, the response from North Korea would probably be entirely unpredictable and disproportionate.  This is the stuff of a spy novel thriller, not the real world.  Bowden implies that a better option than trying to kill the Young One is to wait and hope he'll die in the meantime from being so obese so young and the fact that he comes from a family with a history of heart afflictions and strokes.

Acceptance is the last option, and the most likely to occur, if by nothing else, with the passage of time.  It's the inevitable or immutable occurrence, dealing with an armed and bristling North Korea like we deal with a hostile Russia and an inscrutable China, through the time-tested resort to MAD (mutually assured destruction) because we could annihilate North Korea with a nuclear strike and for the foreseeable future, even if the reclusive nation could hurt us, it can't destroy us.  North Korea is a real problem, and could conceivably be the source of ending life as we know it, but Bowden's choice, and I guess mine, seems to be to just deal with it.  Unless we are ready to have millions die due to an action we undertook.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Happy Birthday!

It was a Friday evening, and I was there on the sidewalk outside her (our) house, adhering to the sidewalk rule (if you go onto the porch and knock on the door, the police are likely to come sirening down the street 2 minutes later in response to a specious 9-11 call that you're enraged and breaking down the door), awaiting any action to my call to voicemail announcing that I was here to pick up my children for visitation pursuant to a longstanding court order.  Out of the gloam, their mother, Sharon, came down the cement stairs from the house to the sidewalk, with her date trailing behind, as is customary with her menfolk.

"What are you doing here?"  "I'm here to pick up my children for weekend visitation, because this is my time to be with them pursuant to the court order governing this, and I expect them to be here ready to go with me."

"Well, I made them ready to go with you but they refused to come out so you can leave."  In my opinion, she lied (again) because the house behind her was totally dark.

"Come on," she ordered to the man hanging back behind her, "let's go."  He came down the stairs upon her command and got into the driver's seat of the vehicle at the curb as she climbed into the passenger side while I retreated (in order to not present a "menacing" appearance; if you get divorced, this crap will become standard fare soon enough if the woman plays the female victim card as Sharon fallaciously did, and for long while she got the advance to go card) to the asphalt fifteen feet behind this vehicle.

I practically always carry a camera.  It was out, and charged, ready to snap a picture.

The vehicle came to life; it had twelve or more feet in front of it to put it out into the traffic lane going forward, unobstructed.  I was a State Trooper for seven years and I pay attention to these sort of details.

The back-up lights came on the vehicle and it roared backwards.  I was transfixed in place with fear as the 2-ton metal monster closed the distance to me rapidly.

 Well, the man killing machine didn't back over me, and the frightfully close steel behemoth was thrust back into drive at the last moment and driven away.  Hey birthday boy, what happened in the cab at that moment, if that was you dating this covert narcissist (in my opinion) that night, did you actually choose your own course finally at the last split-second, or did you just chicken out in your (perhaps commanded) aggression?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A boot and a crown

So the Dog Days of Summer arrived.  I'm in a boot now, because of an achilles strain I incurred while running (the doctor said, "If the boot doesn't work, I'll refer you to the surgeon.") so I'm just sitting around getting fat.

I went in to the District once to have lunch with my past and hopefully future running buddy, since I'm currently incapacitated and haven't run in months.  The Fourth of July arrived, and at noon I went to the Lost Dog Cafe for lunch.

Nobody I recognized came in.  But how would I know what my children would look like anyway, since I have never laid eyes on any of them even once when they were of majority age.

After lunch with the empty chair, I strolled around outside while I called a sibling, and a friend.  Then since I was hot, I purchased a refrigerated Snicker's Bar from the drugstore and while chewing on that semi-hard nougat mass, I pulled out a crown, one put in just two years ago.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dad's Day 2017

On the day following the recovery of one of my middle son's little black plastic toy soldiers from the yard, where Johnny had left him behind two decades earlier at the conclusion of some see-saw backyard battle between armies (probably darkness interposed), it was Father's Day so as usual on special days when I am around, I went for lunch at noon at the Lost Dog Cafe in the eternal hope that one of those bad boys of mine would show up so we could get on with the rest of our lives in some form of association with each other, starting that day. You know, reinstate the paternal relationship that was torn away extrajudicially by their mother and her coterie of "professionals," in my opinion, a decade and a half ago during the lengthy divorce when they were vulnerable minors through the imposition of parental alienation syndrome, a form of brainwashing through clever, lengthy and insidious manipulation.

I know this is a broken record, or in today's lingo, a stuck DVD.  But the pain, though lessened after a decade of radio silence from all three, doesn't go away.

In my opinion, my pain would be a delight to their mother and she succeeded in destroying their three childhoods in her enlistment of those vulnerable children in her visceral and beyond-the-bounds-of-decency unrelenting campaign to destroy me.  Divorce in the west!

I was sad that no child of mine showed up to wish me a happy Father's Day, again.  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Frogman

It returned to my world on the day before Father's Day.  A fighting frogman, a black plastic warrior long buried in the mossy gravel of the driveway, hidden away for almost two decades.

My middle son, Johnny, whom I haven't spoken with nor heard from since 2004, used to play with plastic army men in the yard when he was little.  His mother used to say he was the most like me of my 3 sons; I used to play interminably with green (and tan) little plastic army men when I was little.

I ran into his mother, my ex, on a public sidewalk a couple of years ago and asked her if Johnny was alive, well, married, had children, and where he lived, because I don't know the answer to any of those 5 questions.  She stonily refused to answer even a single word, and I walked away having confirmed, in my mind, that she was the destructive covert narcissist I had come to discover her to be, in my opinion.

It's ironic that this soldier returned to the fold on the eve of Father's Day, to be placed on the shelf in Johnny's bedroom with 4 or 5 other toy soldiers who have come home in a similar fashion over the years.  Perhaps someday the prodigal son, his will having been overborne by his mother and her coterie of accomplices during the lengthy divorce when he was a vulnerable minor, in my opinion, will return to the fold also.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Trooper

A friend recently sent me a Red Skelton sketch where he joked about two state patrolmen stopping a very careful driver for a good driver award, only to find out that he was driving so carefully because he was totally inebriated and didn't want to draw attention to himself.  That skit reminded me of one of the most memorable DUI arrests I made when I was a state trooper three decades ago, an arrest that I call my hi-tech bust. 

One night just east of Boulder on the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, Highway 36, I topped the long incline leading out of Boulder and saw the long sweep of congested traffic below me on the long decline flowing towards Broomfield.  Since there was no possibility of catching an opposing speeder because of the median wall separating the two sides, I flipped off my radar unit. Half a mile away on the long decline I saw brake lights go off. 

Intrigued, I flipped the radar unit back on and the brake lights went on again and stayed on.  I flipped the unit off, and the taillights returned to normal. 

I increased my speed and weaved through traffic until I caught up with the car whose driver I had observed driving strangely, dragging his brakes whenever my radar unit was on, and I flipped on the unit again.  The brake lights came on and stayed on, in conformity with my radar unit's operation. 

The driver was hemmed in by the vehicular volume and driving along with the slower flow of traffic.  Since his lengthily dragging his brakes indicated erratic driving, I pulled him over.

I asked for his driver's license and registration and asked if he had a radar detector in his vehicle.  He confirmed that he did.  

Detecting the odor of alcohol on his breath and noting his slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, I asked him to step out into the space between our cars and administered a roadside sobriety exam.  He failed them entirely and I arrested him.

 As I transported him back to the Boulder jail, he demanded to know why I'd stopped him.   I was so proud of my "hi-tech" probable cause stop that I told the 10-55 how it was that i noticed him.

I explained that I had noticed that whenever I energized my radar unit, obviously his radar detector sounded its alarm and he apparently automatically put his foot on his brakes as a reflex action and kept it there until his detector stopped sounding off, at which point he obviously took his foot off his brakes and stopped dragging them.  Never try to explain anything that's even slightly complicated to a drunk, because for the rest of the ride to jail he kept screaming that I'd arrested him for having a radar detector and didn't I know that they were legal in Colorado! 

I did know that radar detectors were perfectly legal in Colorado and I tried to patiently explain that he was under arrest for DUI, not possession of a radar detector.  My attempts at ameliorating his agitation were unsuccessful and I was sorry that I'd broken my usual rule of deflection and answered his question honestly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

I heard the rumble of thunder as thousands of motorcycles approached the capital on Saturday and I knew that it was Memorial Day weekend.  Rolling Thunder was rolling into town from all points west.

Early on Sunday morning I went to an overlook and viewed hundreds of motorcyclists rolling into the District from their overnight perches nearby, preparatory to rolling up and down Pennsylvania Avenue all day in honor of the KIAs in our endless wars and in hope of reclaiming our hundreds of MIAs.  It rolls by the Vietnam Wall which embodies the true cost of our nearly incessant conflicts.

There are members of my family who sacrificed for all of us in some of the wars, my father (the Pacific War), uncle Harry (Pacific War), Uncle Bill (Pacific War), Uncle Bob (Mediterranean War), Grandfather (North Atlantic in WWI) and brother (Beirut).  Fortunately they all returned intact, at least physically.

On Memorial Day at noon I went for lunch at my usual spot.  The food was good, the beer was delicious, and the company was nonexistent.

Maybe Father's Day.  ;-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reading, a little.

You might think that because I'm retired now, I would have a lot of time to read these days.  Somehow the days go by and although I'm busy around the house, I haven't made much time to read.  I blame it on two things this past year; my double hernia surgery last summer which took me longer to fully from, and the shock of November 9th when it became fully apparent that the Russians had pulled off a stunning coup and our world had changed for the rest of our lives.  I read fourteen books, however, and discarding the two short, sketched-in-outline-of-the-conflict on WWI and WWII by the same cruising historian, here are the best half dozen in descending order, roughly.

Oswald's Tale by Norman Mailer.  Mailer was a great writer and this book was every bit as good as his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Executioner's Song.  This book on Lee Harvey Oswald, a still-mysterious figure that, perhaps lone wolf style, changed US history forever with his assassination of President Kennedy.  (Think Vietnam, the Great Society, RMN, Watergate).  The book details Oswald's dreary and closely monitored (by the Russkies) time in the Soviet Union after he defected, and when he came back married to perhaps a KGB operative.  In short order this secretive, querulous lazy-bones drifter committed the most improbable crime of century.  It was an interesting book, Mailer came to no conclusion as to whether Oswald acted alone, he said--Maybe.  Mailer did, however, convince me in seven pages at the end of this tome that Jack Ruby probably acted on behalf of the mob to rub out Oswald.

Silas Mariner by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).  This short novel about a reclusive gold-hearted tailor is classic literature and tugs at your heart as all comes out right in the end.  It's depressing to think that in the nineteenth century women authors had to write under male names to get their books published, reviewed seriously and read.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.  This classic play introduced Willie Lomax to American lexicon, a prototypical loser, destroyed at the end, and full of closely guarded secrets as are several of his family members also.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  My reading of Victorian novels by female authors continues, they are all worthwhile and I wasn't exposed to them in my educational upbringing at an all-boys high school.  I read Dickens and my sisters read Bronte.  I loved Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell) , which I read in 2015, and this was a good book too, especially the first half.  The incredible, improbable plot-driven coincidences piled up too high by the end for me to think this book is superior to her sister's stunning novel but it did give us the notion of the crazy relative in the attic.  Watch the 1943 movie starring Orson Wells and read the book and you'll be richly rewarded.

True Grit by Charles Portis.  A little known western novel that is totally engrossing.  Most people are familiar with the two cinematic adaptations, starring John Wayne or Jeff Bridges, both interesting in their own right, but this book will absorb you and is full of homilies and life truisms.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.  The least known of the Bronte sisters' novels, interesting and convoluted.  From hard beginnings, this governess persevered and prospered because of the wholeness of her staid character.  Is there a common theme running through the Bronte novels, do you suppose?  I just wish Emily had lived past age 30 and written at least a second novel.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Visitors

Visitors came to town over the weekend to attend a wedding last Saturday, and I spent an enjoyable few hours on Sunday wandering on the Mall with my nephew John while his girlfriend, Gudrun, went to a brunch with the happy couple after she had met me at a restaurant.  It's been rumored to me that I'll be seeing these two again next summer in Chicago.  (In from Chicago.)

Me and John took a Lyft cab (are they called cabs?) to the eastern end of the Mall so I could show him the Library of Congress with its underground tunnel to the Visitor Center at the Capitol.  That was the first time I ever took a Lyft, or an Uber (is that how you term it?), so progress is being made on my part as I claw my way into the 21st century.  (Garfield statue at the base of Capital Hill.)


Since it was Sunday, both buildings were closed, so we ambled down Capital Hill to the National Museum of Art.  There my visitor showed me something that I didn't know was there, the 15 foot blue rooster on its roof.  Cool!  (But is it art?)

I know art when I see it.  We saw Monets, Van Goghs and beautiful statues in there.  (Walkin' the dog.)

We walked through my favorite little garden on the Mall, which I call the Pocket Park but is actually the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, which had Allium 'Pinball Wizard' Flowering Onions in bloom.  I love these globular flowers that appear for only a fortnight each year.  (It's a Pinball Wizard, got such supple wrists.)

From there we walked through the nearby Enid A. Haupt Garden, which I know as Katie's Park.  I used to run through there with a friend named Katie, who subsequently moved away, whose favorite route to the Mall was through there, just like my favorite route to the Mall is through the Pocket Park.  The entrance to the African Museum is off Katie's Park and we toured the museum, filled with beautiful nailless woodwork and carved ivory, a mostly subterranean venue I had never been in before.  (A fifteenth century hunting horn.)

We walked from there past the Washington Monument, viewing the kites flying overhead there and ended up at the World War II memorial.  John noticed my favorite part of of that monument, the "Kilroy Was Here" :> graffiti.  I explained to John from whence the slogan came and why it was inscribed on that monument.  (Kite chasing kite.)

Then it was time to go and I started giving John detailed directions on how to return directly to his hotel so he could check out on time.  He stopped me, telling me it was a "generational" thing, but whenever he heard directions from anyone he zoned out and as soon as the directions were over, he just switched on his I-phone to its GPS app.  I smacked my head, saying "Duh."





Friday, May 5, 2017

The Silver Bullet and The Lone Ranger

Nate Silver at Five ThirtyEight has spoken--FBI Director James Comey gave us President Trump.  I don't think either side of the political aisle likes Comey, who roams the corridors of power in Washington unilaterally intervening whenever he sees problems that only he can discern, and then dispenses resolutions that sometimes fly directly in the face of long-established norms but no matter, he consults sagely before acting with--himself.

Neither side trusts this hifalutin Lone Ranger who wields greater independent power than the infamous J. Edgar Hoover did at the height of nearly four decades of criminal chicanery.

Comey destroyed our democratic process last October with his infamous "private" letter to Congressional leaders (Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz won the race to publicize it, within minutes) about initiating another (baseless) investigation into Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails rather than see (in his mind) the independence of the FBI "destroyed."  If finding those emails is so important, perhaps the president can ask his handler Putin for them.

Remember Rose Mary Woods and the missing 18 1/2-minutes?  We somehow survived that gap and we'll survive this one, and I also seriously doubt those missing emails would provide the scienter necessary to prosecute Hillary Clinton (I know, Lock Her Up!).  If there was criminal intent in those emails, the president's comrade would have already released them from his treasure-trove of hacked content.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/

#/:~/)  "Am I doing ok?  I'm president.  Hey, I'm president!  Can you believe it, right?"

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cherry Blossoms on Haines Point

I don't like running around Haines Point; it's too long and lonely and windy, and there are too many memories of hard ten-milers, half marathons and marathons there.  But it is beautiful when the cherry blossoms bloom.  (National Airport.)

This year was no different.  The blossoms were more full and hence more spectacular on Haines Point this year than around the Tidal Basin.  (Fort McNair.)

When I run at noon on the Mall with my friends, I park on Haines Point because parking is free for three hours, there's always parking available, and it's only 3/4 of a mile away from where I meet my friends, so that's my warmup.  I had plenty of opportunity this year to see the trees on Haines Point.  (The long, lonely road.)

Although the cherry blossoms in the District were impacted negatively this year because of the freakish winter weather, they still were a sight to see.  DC is a great place to run.  (The channel side.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Cherry Blossom Run

Last month I got together with a couple of running buddies from my former workplace and we did a noontime Cherry Blossom run around the Tidal Basin to view the flowering trees at their full splendor.  It had been a rough year for the blooms as the weather had been unnaturally warm for so long in February and early March that they started to bloom early but then they got hit with a spell of extended freezing weather which threatened to knock them off of their bloom.

But, hardy souls, they came out anyway, although muted somewhat compared to other years.  Still, a spectacular show as usual.

Pink pinks, white whites, the colors were there, it's just that the petals were less robust than normal.  Usually the flowering blooms are so frothy and numerous that they form a floating circle six or eight feet wide of downed petals along the walls of the Tidal Basin sea wall, but this year that effect was way off.

But it was a display not to be missed, as usual.  I love running in DC with friends at any time.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flower Library

There's a flower library on the Mall, over by the Tidal Basin, near the Washington Monument.  Every spring it bursts forth with tulips shortly after the cherry blossom bloom.

This year the library bloomed spectacularly, as usual.  My sometimes-noontime running group ran by it earlier this month.

My running buddy likes to seek out the different flower amidst a group of similar flowers.  She calls them outliers.

There's always something to go see on the Mall.  DC is a great running town.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Get it while you can, if you can

The greatest bargain for anyone 62 or older is a National Parks Pass allowing its recipient and a guest or guests into any National Park for free for life, for a one-time purchase price of $10.  For instance, purchase one at the C&O Canal Towpath parking lodgment for the Billy Goat Trail in MD and you will be able to pre-pay for the parking fee and individual entrance (both free thereafter) for the $10 card, which will save you money for that trip on the spot.

I received a card at my retirement party when I was retired from my agency last year after a quarter-center of service.  I value the card more highly than I do the small statue I received of the agency's distinctive statue outside its entrance, which I also like for memory's sake.

This card has a lot of utility.  Visit the second most spectacular site in the US that I have seen, Crater Lake in OR, for free.

Or visit the most spectacular site in the US that I have seen, the Grand Canyon, with the card.  But the price for the bargain is going up eight-fold soon, so act now if you are eligible.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

So how exactly did you get this?

Here's something you might not know.  When you reach a certain age in your sixties, you can apply for a special smart card in the DC Metro system and ride at a greatly reduced rate forever, I suppose.  I didn't know anything about this program until a friend of mine who is older than me told me about it, describing it as a half-off card.

I inquired at the West Falls Church station, which I sometimes use, and the station manager confirmed the program and told me where the "commuter store" was where I could go to purchase the card, for $2, and informed me of the store's hours.  The next day I undertook a run of four miles to that store and bought the special card and loaded it to the max ($300).


I handed over my OL to the clerk in her fishbowl booth and said, "Check the age and you'll know what I want."  Without a word she smiled, glanced at my license and started filling out a form.  She said most people are ignorant of the program but still, she sells about half a dozen such cards a day.

The card is bright yellow, in contrast to the pale green and blue color of the regular metro smart cards.  I guess its distinctiveness shouts out to onlookers, Senior, Senior, as in old.  But who am I kidding, I don't need to flash the fare card for persons to realize that there are seats in the cars set out especially for me and my ilk.

Having run to the commuter store at the Ballston station on the flat W&OD Trail and hilly Custis Trail from the East Falls Church station because I didn't want to pay full fare to get there when I could ride for half-fare back, I entered the metro system for my return trip and carefully checked the posted fare.  $1.75.  Upon exiting the system one stop later, I was disappointed to see that my cost was $1.05, not $0.88.

I asked the station manager if he could explain something about my brand-new fare card to me and handed it to him.  I said that it should have provided me with a half-off fare, but that my fare was more than half of the normal fare.  He gave me the familiar dodge about higher than expected fares and said it depended upon the distance traveled and the time of day.

I said that it was a senior card which is supposed to provide for half-fares, not something higher.  He was quick on his feet and said it was a discount card, not a half-fare card.  It was apparent that neither of us really knew how the program actually works, so I'll have to monitor my fares for awhile or try find its particulars on-line, but his answer was acceptable to me.

And then, his face hardening and his voice rising authoritatively, he asked, "And just how did you come into possession of this card?"  He was staring at me and holding my card, and I looked at him in stunned disbelief.  Suddenly I burst into laughter and pointed knowingly at him.  His eyes twinkling, he handed my card back and gave me a slight chuck on my shoulder.  Friends for life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Birthday

I spent a nice birthday earlier having lunch with a friend and then hiking along the C&O Canal Towpath.  It gave me an opportunity to practice with my new camera.

I have run through the little 8-page set-up guide that came with the Canon, so next I have to print off the 180 page manual and refer to it.  My friends say to just refer to it on line, but, well, it's not written that well and to refer to it and apply whatever it says to the camera, I have to have the instructions  open in front of me.

The camera has a 40X zoom which brings things incredibly close but it's tricky to use because it's hard to find the subject in the field as the initial blurriness of the focus clears, and then hold the camera steady enough to get a clear picture at that magnification.  The slightest tremor or most minor tremble throws off the field or blurs the picture, so I have to practice this feature.

But I am pleased with the new camera and it takes pictures with close detail and vivid colors.  I spent an enjoyable birthday.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The World War One run

Last week a friend and I did a noontime run on the Mall in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of America's entrance into WWI on April 6, 1917.  We started by chatting up another friend of mine outside my former workplace, who related to us the interesting story that he had a great-grandfather who won an Iron Cross as a German soldier in the Great War, and whose country showed its appreciation for his sacrifices by killing him and his family at a concentration camp during the next war due to his religion.  (Black Jack)

We ran by the Capitol where President Woodrow Wilson asked for and received from Congress a declaration of war against Germany, mere months after he won re-election largely on the slogan, He Kept Us Out of The War.  We stopped in at the Navy Memorial where I pulled up from its database the entry of my grandfather, a sailor in the Great War.  (An engine of the Great War)

We ran through Pershing Park downtown and stopped at General Pershing's statue there, depicting him at the Western Front as leader of the American Expeditionary Force.  Then we ran to the Ellipse, where we viewed the memorial honoring the 2d Division's service in the war, its men participating in the 3d Battle of the Aisne, Belleau Wood, the Chateau-Thierry campaign, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the Aisne-Marne offensive and the occupation of the Rhine.  (The Indianhead Division)

Running past the World War II Memorial, we gave it a nod as that worldwide cataclysm was a direct result of the harsh peace imposed at the Treaty of Versailles which ended the War To End All Wars, with its unsustainable war reparations and its festering War Guilt clause imposed by the victors upon the vanquished.  Finally we ended our four-mile jaunt at the World War I Memorial on the Mall, honoring the District residents who served in World War One.  (Over There)