Monday, March 16, 2015

March madness .... No. 3 .... just words

Woodlands and water at sundown, Friday the 13th, March 2015

There once was a ....
Religion and war seem to keep circling back into my mind.

I suppose this is the result of news and more news about Islamic fundamentalists killing everything and everyone they see who is something other than an Islamic fundamentalist. If that statement were not politically correct, do you think I care?
Men and women and societies are changing. I am not, and there are others like me.

Former wife No. 2 has told me I am a dinosaur. I have no doubt she is right/correct/accurate in her analysis. Some individuals believe they have an old soul; I am not so sure about that, but I think I am the same man as was one of my ancestors generations ago. I am more in tune to his times than I am to my own, if that makes sense.
I have a cousin who traced our paternal lineage back to the mid-1500s in Norway. We are proud of this, for whatever reason, and, probably, for no reason. Still, it is somehow reassuring to see the names of the people from whom you eventually emerged -- real people who actually lived and died five hundred years ago.

I have followed my lineage back to arrival in the United States, paternal and maternal, and have found at least one ancestor -- more often more -- who have fought in every war which involved the U.S. since our Civil War. This also makes me proud. I even have an ancestor who was killed by Sioux in 1866 during the Plains Indian Wars. He was an officer in the Second U.S. Cavalry, before that had seen action in the Civil War and had been among the Minnesota militia troopers who had pursued and pushed the Sioux into the Dakotas after the 1862 uprising.

(Most people probably do not associate Minnesota with the American Indian Wars, but more civilians were killed in the 1862 Minnesota conflict than in any other such hostilities.)

I have been around the block a couple of times myself, and I have a couple of scars to show off after enough drinks and when among members of the right crowd. Fraternities are fraternities, you know, and I learned from experience the meaning of the expression: To feel one's blood boil.

In terms of religion, I often have written I am an agnostic. But, for whatever reason, I have worn Thor's Hammer on a chain around my neck for a few decades. If you are not familiar with Thor's Hammer, I am certain you own a computer and have access to the internet and can learn about him and his hammer, if you are curious.

Why do I wear it? Why am I certain others wear it? Because it is in my genes, in my blood, in my psyche -- so, I know it is the same for at least a few others and, occasionally, I have encountered some of them.
Had I been alive a thousand years ago, I think I would have been an agnostic even then. But, I still believe I would have worn armor and a Christian cross on my chest and rode off to battle with the followers of Islam. I would have done so because while the question of god might be uncertain to me, I have no doubt about the answers to questions measuring good and evil on this earth.

There is nothing in this post I have not written on this blog before, although, possibly, in different ways. As I noted a few weeks ago, I have made a few decisions. As I wrote more recently, I have yet to make a few other decisions, but as the weather turns from winter to summer, from ice to fire, my vision lightens and brightens. I think some of you know where I am going with this .... tell me, so I know, too .... I am teasing you now ....


ANITA said...

Wow thats was some nice writing Fram!Right from your heart:)
I think you are very wise and have experienced alot.

Mjølne is one of the most powerful hammers one can get made by the the dwarven brothers Sindri and should be proud of wearing it and it will do you good.

Love also the music by The Doors.Havent heard that one before so i saved it:)

I am in here for just a short visit.I will come back later.


Fram Actual said...

Well, I have experienced a great deal in life, Anita. As I sometimes say, I think I had experienced everything there is to experience in one form or another by the time I was age twenty-five. I love to learn and I have a deep curiosity.

Experiencing things, though, does not necessarily lead to any degree of wisdom. I often think my time is wasted because I seldom apply what I learn in a useful manner.

I had forgotten the name of Thor's hammer. Yes, Mjölnir or Mjølne. The one I wear is made from bronze .... a metal which seems appropriate to it. I also have one made of silver. (Another of silver I once owned I gave to a young lady when I moved from the town in which we lived, and she declined to move with me.) I sometimes have searched to find a hammer made of gold, but I have had no luck in that regard.

I enjoy the music/poetry of Jim Morrison and The Doors. I have visited his grave in Paris twice .... once, sort of recently, actually, but I do not think anyone on the blogs realized it.

Short visit, long visit .... either is fine. I am glad for any visit you make to me here, Anita.

Smareis said...

Olá Fram!
Imagem muito bela. Um por -do -sol é a comprovação quando o criador foi bondoso com o universo. A natureza é nossa menina dos olhos...Região e guerra são dois fatos complicados. Cada pessoa tem o livre árbitro de escolha, cada um tem sua fé e sua religião. A religião tem sido usada por alguns como um pretexto para a guerra. Porém isso não invalida toda religião, assim como quando jogadores de futebol brigam isso não invalida o jogo ou um campeonato. Livrar o mundo de toda religião não poria um fim à guerra. Na verdade, a religião ainda fornece o argumento mais forte para a paz entre os povos: já que fomos todos criados pelo mesmo Criador. Este mundo é tão estranho, tudo pode acontecer, ou não acontecer.

Benjamin Franklin certa vez escreveu atribuir a formação do Universo ao simples acaso, seria o mesmo que admitir que um dicionário seja fruto de uma mera explosão de uma tipografia.

Deus é uno. Ele não está jamais, como pensam alguns, fora do mundo, mas sim totalmente no mundo inteiro. Deus está no Universo e o Universo está em Deus.

Pelo jeito você está lutando com muita força para aceitar algo em tua vida. Em termo de religião. Em termo de guerra. O martelo também é o símbolo da força para os nórdicos, e se acredita que quem carrega um consigo terá força e boa sorte. Por isso, era de costume entre os atiradores de martelos levarem um pingente na forma de "mjölnir" para as competições e batalhas, acreditando que Thor iria ajudá-los. O Mjölnir é tão pesado que só Thor, com sua força gigantesca e usando o cinto Megingjard consiga levantá-lo.

Cada pessoa tem sua fé em alguma coisa, segue alguma coisa, acredita em alguma coisa invisíveis... Não importa se é ateu, agnóstico ou outra coisa qualquer. Um agnóstico teísta admite que não tenha conhecimento que comprove a existência de Deus, mas acredita que Deus existe ou admite a possibilidade de que pode existir. Por outro lado, o agnóstico ateísta também admite não possuir conhecimento que comprove a não existência de Deus, mas não acredita na possibilidade que Deus exista. Diferente do ateu que nega a existência de Deus ou de qualquer entidade superior. Deus nos ama tanto e é tão generoso que nos concede tanta e tamanha liberdade de pensar, que nos permite até o direito de negá-Lo.

Religião virou sinônimo de guerra, enriquecimento, poder. É muito triste a pessoa querer ser poderosos através da religião. Poderoso é um só; Deus e mais ninguém. Só existe uma religião: a religião do amor. Só existe uma linguagem: a linguagem do coração. Só existe um Deus: e Este é Onipresente.

Desejo Fram que suas decisões sejam acertadas. Que o verão lhe traga ventos favoráveis. E
E teu aniversário já chegou, já passou, teve comemorações, eu sorrindo.rsrsrs! Fazer aniversário não é envelhecer, mais sim deixar coisas que não é mais tão importante quanto antes, e cultivar outras que são essenciais para o crescimento diário. Desejo tudo de bom para você!
O vídeo é excelente.
Que os ventos leves sorrisos para você.
Ótima semana!

Fram Actual said...

For sure, it is a beautiful image, Smareis, and one I frequently saw only a few years ago. The water in the distance is the Missouri River; the land to the right/north of the river is South Dakota and the land to the left/south of it is Nebraska. The photograph was taken last Friday at sunset.

You wrote a fascinating comment. Here are a few more of my thoughts:

While most readers are concerned with best seller lists and neighborhood book clubs, my own focus largely centers on fiction and non-fiction which reveal people as they were, rather than as who they are now. One author and journalist I treasure is John Hersey. His books from the 1940s and the 1950s include, "The War Lover," "A Bell for Adano" and "Hiroshima."

Those three books alone offer a thorough (dare I say a complete?) examination and synopsis and explanation of war and warriors. Someday, maybe, I will write a post about Hersey, but for now I will just say that while many men have one measure or another of being "a war lover" within themselves, most know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and choose which will be their defining characteristic even when engaged in warfare.

Some wars are necessary, in simplest terms, for two reasons: Some people love themselves more than they love anyone or anything else, and actual evil does exist and will flourish if left unchecked.

By the way, I do think Thor's Hammer makes me stronger in some ways. That, and the Marine Corps emblem. Those are not beliefs in a religious sense, but sort of codes and standards for personal behavior. Plus, sort of mind over matter becomes real when you wear them .... really real.

Religion is not so easy for me to qualify.

There is a difference for me between a belief in a supreme, omnipotent being and organized religion. In addition to what I wrote in this post, I also have written in previous posts that I consider myself to be a bit of a deist in the tradition of one man you mentioned, Benjamin Franklin, as well as men like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. I also lean toward pantheism, in context of the view of the world as seen by poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for instance, and in my habit of sensing there is a spirit in all things animate and inanimate, which coincides with the general Native American concept.

Anyway .... your faith is rooted deep and its foundation is strong. I envy you that, Smareis, and I understand where it comes from and why it exists. Possibly, I simply am too skeptical, too suspicious, too much of a hunter (rather than a gatherer) to allow myself to follow the same path as you. But, who knows what tomorrow may bring?

You make a number of excellent points, including this one: There would be war even without religion. Mankind sometimes will twist and corrupt and desecrate religion as an excuse to make war, but true religion only creates love and peace and acceptance of forces for good greater than ourselves.

Yes, the birthday has passed for 2015, and all is well. Hopefully, I will be a better person when this coming year ends than I am now, as it begins. Hopefully, too, I will have entered into a new "incarnation" of my existence on this earth and have found a bit of contentment and, maybe, even a new Sanctuary/Refuge.

Thank you, Smareis. Your presence always makes my day worthwhile; your tranquility always settles and calms my restless spirit.

Your smile makes me happy ....

A Cuban In London said...

I think there is something in this post after all. What and who you are. After all, at some point we decide to be more than the sum of our physical parts.

You are an agnostic. I am an atheist but I have worn a Celtic cross for more than a year now. I bought it in Cornwall three or four years ago and it's one of my favourite necklaces. There's nothing much to it other than it's pretty. it was also the only necklace with that kind of design on display at the market I bought it from. To me it represents uniqueness and my uniqueness as an individual.

Good post.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

A number of my posts in recent weeks have been nothing more than me thinking out loud or, as I sometimes say, thinking with my fingers: I have been taking the components of my body, mind and spirit, separating them, rearranging them and reassembling them, in a manner of speaking, looking over the finished product -- then repeating the process over and over again. One of these times, I suppose, I will be satisfied and begin walking the walk in a new "incarnation."

I have worn a Saint Christopher's medal at times at the request of former wife No. 2. She is Roman Catholic, and I have been known to travel quite a bit at times. I also sometimes still wear a dog tag, for both "sentimental" and practical reasons. I occasionally wear coins, the two usual ones being an 1876 dime and an 1897, five dollar, gold piece. Both coins have personal meaning and "say" something about me which I generally keep to myself.

Thank you, CiL, for coming and for revealing your habit regarding the Celtic cross.

Snowbrush said...

I can understand wearing Thor’s Hammer because religion symbolizes more things that theism—in this case a long ago culture and ethic that you like to feel tied to. As for fighting in the Crusades, I’m reminded of Clark Gable going off to fight in the Civil War for the Confederacy once he was clear that the South would fall. I would like to know more about the dinosaur part. You seem to identify with what you imagine to have been a nobler and somehow purer time. I can fully understand that as I have often imagined that the world was so different centuries ago that even the sky and plants looked different, yet the more I read, the more I’m convinced that we are just as we ever were.

What I can't for the life of me understand is your seeming idealization of war, which I regard primarily as a situation in which people kill those they don't know and destroy property they don’t own in service to the greed and egos of the powerful. I remember the pride with which Bush pronounced himself a “war president,” the wealth accumulated by the “merchants of death,” and the thousands of people we have, just since 9/11, killed and maimed for no good reason that I can see; and I can’t separate my thoughts from these things. However great the heroism and brotherly love of the actual combatants, I see them, in most wars, as having been had, and, at worst, as being like the guns they shoot in that they are as willing to kill in an unjust war as in an unavoidable war.

I have a high regard for you, and it makes me reluctant to say all this because I don’t want to alienate you. For my part, saying it comes from a desire to draw closer rather than to draw away, because I AM ambivalent about your feelings regarding war. I know that, to you, it has to do with personal nobility, and that sadness, beauty, courage, pride, cherished tradition, the desire to bond with other men, and even the search for meaning (or, perhaps, a distraction from an absence of meaning), all come together in your thoughts. Still, it’s war, we’re talking about, and the goal of war is to hurt people.

Fram Actual said...

I have more than five years worth of posts here which answer most of the questions you have brought up, Snowbrush, and I am not about to try to condense all the thoughts and feelings and beliefs I have written about in those posts in context of your questions into a few paragraphs for this comment. I do not have the time or the inclination for that. My old posts are there for you or anyone who is curious enough to read.

A couple of points, though. It is not only the Old Norse and Thor's Hammer and Snorri Sturluson and Gwyn Jones which/who charm me, it also is the emigrant/immigrant movement. In terms of the Norwegians, I have read the thirty-some volumes in the Norwegian-American Studies series published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association, not to mention (but I will anyway) an indeterminate number of other history books, studies, memoirs and novels about the same topic, plus countless other books which involve the exploration and settlement of the United States. History is the name of one of my primary games -- whether old or recent -- and philosophy, religion, mythology, psychology, sociology, etc., all are among the "vegetables" that are mixed into the "stew" named history which I consume with a passion.

Read a few of Ole Rolvaag's novels, for instance. He is among some of the authors whose books I have held in my hand while walking the streets of Minneapolis and the prairies of South Dakota retracing the footsteps he took and then wrote about more than one hundred years ago. This is using the past to understand the present.

As for the idealization of war, I think you confuse idealization with fascination. There are a few reasons why I have participated in military life. Here are two: One is to experience everything I am able in this life and, thereby, to explore my own being and, by extension, to see more deeply into the nature of man in general; another is because I do believe in good and evil / right and wrong, and I feel an obligation to be ready to fight and, possibly, to die for what I do believe.

I am under the impression you read Eugene Sledge's book, "With the Old Breed." I think you need to read it again, and, maybe, drop the SEAL books from your list and replace them with some by Victor Davis Hanson and, if you are at all interested in the Marine Corps, the books of Colonel Joseph Alexander.

As I said in a comment at your blog, "In terms of war, there obviously are necessary ones and others which should never have been fought." I would think that sentence alone would eliminate your interpretation of my interest in war as "idealization." Put most simply, I am a student, and a serious student attends classes as well as reads books.

Snowbrush said...

“I am not about to try to condense all the thoughts and feelings and beliefs I have written about in those posts in context of your questions into a few paragraphs for this comment.”

I run into this same thing in my posts regarding religion. For example, again and again, people will tell me that religion is a private matter, and that I shouldn’t criticize it. I’ve answered this objection many times, but I still get it, and don’t have a good way to handle it. To tell one to read five years worth of posts is a bit much, but to repeat the same post length answer over and over for new readers is a bit much too.

One thing I later realized about what I wrote was that it might be taken to mean that it’s important to me that you see things my way, and that’s not at all what I intended. As I wrote on my blog, I’m no leader, and I would add to that that I’m no persuader, so I have no exception of ever changing your mind about anything, and it’s differences that make a relationship more interesting anyway. I’m quite happy for you to be as you are, and I won’t be bringing this up again.

“As for the idealization of war, I think you confuse idealization with fascination.”

If I wrote that, I wrote what I didn’t intend. What I imagine is that you idealize being a warrior. For instance, agnostic that you are, you would have nonetheless joined the Crusades. I think of you as quixotic in this way. 800 years ago, you would have been a knight, whereas I would have been more likely to have lived in a monastery due to the absence of better options. As for the the Marines, they would have hated me as much as I hated them. I remember Sledge writing about the appropriateness of Marine boot camp as a preparation for war, and I really don’t know how I would have made it through either. I do remember a particular character from Black Hawk down who loved combat. I fully accept that there are such people, they’re good people to have around at times, and I would respect them for their ability to do that which most of us could not.

“I am under the impression you read Eugene Sledge's book, "With the Old Breed.”

Maybe that’s because I told you I read it. I don’t know if you simply don’t remember me telling you, whether you’re questioning my word, or whether you’re angry and this was meant as a jibe. If you are angry, I can well understand why, and I apologize for being more challenging than kind. I try to be very honest with people and sometimes I emphasize honesty at the expense of empathy. As for Sledge, I heard him quoted several times on the Ken Burns’ series about WWII, was impressed with his eloquence, and ordered his book, which I still have. I very much wish I could have met him (he didn’t even live that far from me, being from Mobile), although I have no clue what I would have said beyond thank you.

I know almost nothing of the Norse and I haven’t read Ole Rolvaag, As for Minneapolis, I spent my first 36 years in south Mississippi, moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 1986, and to Richfield, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis as you probably know) in 1988. It was meant to be a temporary move, so I moved back to Eugene in 1990, and have been in the same house here ever since. As for heritage, I’m said to be English, Irish, and Dutch, but I also have a 3/4 Native American grandmother, so I’m at least 3/16 Indian. That’s all I know about my genetic heritage. My father’s people were Appalachian mountain people and my mother’s from Alabama. I wish I had strong ties to some group from someplace, but I’m like a cloud floating in the air in regard to all possible ties.

Thank you for your reading recommendations. I’m interested in other things at the moment, but I’ll made a note of them.

Fram Actual said...

As for the Crusades, I am not going back to double check my exact wording, but I recall that I wrote that although I am an agnostic, I would have gone with the Crusaders because I can tell the difference between good and evil and that is sufficient reason to join a cause .... and, again if I recall correctly, I believe the initial advance by the Christians was for a worthy cause. Unfortunately, the cause did not stay worthy very long. Besides, I am an eager traveler, and probably would have enjoyed visiting places like Constantinople on my way to Jerusalem.

Occasionally, I will put a book recommendation on the top of my list, but usually I feel compelled to continue reading material which currently holds my fascination. So, I know what you mean, but .... either in a post or a comment in recent days, I mentioned John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover." It is a good tale and an excellent character study. You might even want to read all of Hersey's books. They are very worthwhile.

Incidentally, I will mention that I came within a literal breath of joining the Air Force a few months before signing on with the Marine Corps. I am not certain what the proper designation of the unit is, but the training I had selected was air rescue. They are the guys who go in to rescue/recover air crews which have been shot down, and often parachute or rappel into remote regions with difficult terrain to get medical and other assistance under way as quickly as possible. Life-altering events occurring within the immediate four months after my "near-enlistment" with the Air Force caused me to change my mind and to join the Marine Corps. Air rescue -- not exactly a job typically selected by an avid war lover, I would say.

I believe you recommended Eugene Sledge's book to me, but did not actually say you had read it, so I was uncertain and took the cautious approach and wrote the sentence the way I did.

No, I did not think you were trying to influence me in any way or to change my mind about anything.

Your ancestry is interesting, as are your regions of residency. I have Norwegians who arrived in Minnesota, some with a stop in Wisconsin and others with a stop in Iowa before settling here. I have German ancestors, with the easiest group to follow also living in Wisconsin for a while. Others took a more "scenic route," going to Russia from Germany and, after a generation there, moving on to Manitoba, Canada, then down to North Dakota and, still later, coming to Minnesota. I envy them their adventure.

It would take me longer than I wish to devote to come up with a list of all the places I have lived.

Actually, I seriously am thinking about moving to somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico coastline before the snow flies again. Any recommendations? Otherwise, I am a dinosaur marching in a straight line toward extinction .... but, never-the-less, keeping my eyes open for a potential wife No. 3.

Thank you, Snowbrush, for dropping by again.

Snowbrush said...

“I believe you recommended Eugene Sledge's book to me, but did not actually say you had read it”

Just so you’ll know, I take book recommendations seriously, and wouldn’t DREAM of recommending anything I hadn’t read because to do so would be just plain silliness in my view and would also put me at risk for a well-deserved loss of credibility.

“I seriously am thinking about moving to somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico coastline before the snow flies again. Any recommendations?”

I can but tell you what little I know. Louisiana has no beaches, and Mississippi has only manufactured beaches (assuming they rebuilt them after the last major hurricane). Alabama has almost no beachfront, although on the plus side, Mobile is nearby. Florida, of course, has a lot of pretty beaches, but I only know about the Pensacola area because I’ve had a half-sister there for decades. It’s pretty, and is a big enough metro area that you can find most of what you need. As for Texas, Galveston is a pretty city on an island and Houston is only about 40-miles or so from Galveston. I've been to Brownsville/Padre Island, but don't know enough to say anything other than that's it's pretty. Based upon what little I know, if I were to move to the Gulf, I would probably choose Galveston for the reasons given and because Texas offers a lot to see, what with woodlands, the Great Plains, the desert, and some fairly high mountains. It’s also less distant from the rest of the country than is so much of Florida,and has the Houston Airport nearby. As for ALL of the Gulf, the downsides, in my view, are: heat, hurricanes, poverty, ignorance, religiosity, extreme conservatism, and the lack of public beachfront ownership. Naturally, all but the last of these things vary a fair amount from place to place, and I know little of Florida's Gulf areas below Pensacola which is barely over the Alabama line. By contrast, here in Oregon, the public owns all of the beaches pretty far back from the ocean, and it never gets hot or really cold, plus there’s a more liberal, less religious, and better educated populace, and no sales tax. The downsides are that the ocean is too cold to swim in—unless you’ve far hardier than I—,we’re overdue for a major earthquake, and the weather can be wet and dreary at times.

Fram Actual said...

I occasionally take a stroll through Florida, but the only places I have been on the gulf side are in and around Fort Myers and Tampa. The Miami region has gotten most of my attention up to now. My only stops in Texas have been on the western side of the state, so all these places you have mentioned are like foreign countries to me.

I am toying with the idea of doing a "recon" into the regions you mentioned in late spring or early summer, so I appreciate the tips you have given to me, Snowbrush.

I never have been to Oregon, but I think it would be too liberal for my mind, and, probably, too damp and cold for my blood at this point in time since I am thinking of southerly climes. I have lived by Lake Superior, which is about as cold a lake as exists, and I have spent a considerable amount of time in its waters, both with and without a wet suit. The same is true for the Pacific off the California coast. I assume the water there is about the same as you experience off the coast of Oregon.

Again, I appreciate the information about the gulf states .... you have made me even more curious about them, Snowbrush .... thanks ....

Snowbrush said...

“I never have been to Oregon, but I think it would be too liberal for my mind…”

You, “Lotta Joy” and “Rhymes with Plague” are the only three conservatives in my life, this due to the fact that I hate the Republican Party with “all my heart, mind, and soul,” as the prayer book would put it—I hope you are honored. Rhymes (from Georgia) is my second longest follower (the first being a Brit who goes by “All Consuming,” and Lotta Joy is a transplanted Floridian whom I refer to as my sister. If you decide to seriously consider Florida, I will ask her if she would be willing for me to share her address. Otherwise, you can check out her blog and ask her yourself. I think you will like her—I do.

“probably, too damp and cold for my blood”

It’s chilly, not cold. We’re talking 40-above as opposed to 40-below. I used to ride around Minneapolis incredulous that anyone actually lived there, yet compared to northern Minnesota, it was called the “Banana Belt.” Of course, you know this.

“I never have been to Oregon, but I think it would be too liberal…”

I guess you wouldn’t want to risk it. For what it’s worth, I’m an equal opportunity hater. I thought liberals wore halos before I moved to Eugene. Now, I hate everyone. People are just people.

“I assume the water there is about the same as you experience off the coast of Oregon.”

I guess, based upon the fact that the very few surfers I’ve seen were wearing wetsuits. I will say that the Oregon coast is prettier than anything you will find on the painfully flat Gulf. As for Oregon being being too liberal, I think it depends on the area, my impression being that the northern areas are far more liberal than the southern areas.

“I appreciate the information about the gulf states .... you have made me even more curious about them…”

It wasn’t my intent, but I told you what I remember. Just bear in mind that I’ve only been to the Gulf but once in the last quarter century, and that was to Gulf Breeze, FL where my sister lived at the time. Maybe I could ask her as well about whether she would be willing to meet you. She probably would be.

Fram Actual said...

You are almost too prolific for me, Snowbrush, at least on the blogs. I think you spend much more time here than I do.

But, your remarks about your internet friends were interesting in the sense of contrast. Other than CiL -- Cuban in London -- I have no idea of the political affiliation/inclination of anyone I follow or who might follow me on the blogs. I think both the left wing and the right wing loons should be given a rifle and parachuted into Syria, but, beyond that, I will listen to anyone and buy a drink for anyone who demonstrates actual curiosity and an open mind about the world in which they are an active entity.

In terms of Minnesota cold, I used to winter camp quite often, but, like bar hopping, I outgrew it.

Speaking of which, I noticed you have a comment on an old post of mine. Too prolific, again, for me, but in response to one element from your comment there, I will note that I have been a hardcore drinker at times. It went with the territory in the Marine Corps and in journalism. But, before I ran a small prison, I managed the segment of another large prison. My turf included three wings: One was for inmates whose crimes meant having to complete a drug/alcohol program; the medical wing, which meant both physical and mental cases; and the disciplinary wing, the name for which explains itself. I loved the work, I was damn good at it, and it taught me to be very disciplined about my own habits. It is easier to fall than to climb back up, so, I party on occasion and keep a low profile otherwise.

As for Florida, I appreciate your suggestions and will keep them in mind. I would reiterate that if I went anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico region, it would only be somewhere I could look out the window and see water.

Frankly, before autumn arrives and I take up scuba diving again at somewhere like Florida, I would hope I fall madly in love and run off with a nice looking, conservative, somewhat intellectual, young lady to someplace where words like Democrats, Republicans, cable news, Obama (especially Obama; the word anti-Christ enters my mind at times in reference to him) are completely alien. I have tried to run away before, but, so far, no lasting success.

Something special ....