Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some (sort of) serious political thoughts ....

The former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, has been elected as the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee. Personally, I think this signals open and professionally conducted warfare by the GOP directed against the very liberal policy directions initiated by President Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Without going into the pros and cons of the George Bush presidency, I assume most first-time voters in the 2008 election are too young to remember the last two years of the Bill Clinton presidency (or any of the Clinton years, for that matter). May I be the first to tell you: Mr. Clinton was as despised and ridiculed by his most vocal opposition as was Mr. Bush by his. Really. He was. Such is the way of politics, and Mr. Obama is setting himself up for harsh criticism and negative attacks from the outset due to his rather radical plans. His concept of desired change is hardly the same as that of most Americans.

Some years I'm interested in politics; other years I try to avoid any contact with politics. As I've mentioned in the past, I do consider myself to be politically independent and have registered as such in states where I have lived when it is an option. That said, life has many roads to travel, and I periodically decide to take a "sort of sabbatical" from journalism. In one instance, I was a paid staff member for a Democrat candidate to the U.S. House of Representatives, and then for the first year he was in office. But, after making this admission, I would also note this was in a conservative district and this man showed open disdain for the far left element of his own party.

My votes, whether in local, state or national elections, invariably go for the person I consider best equipped to handle the task at hand. This is not the way a political partisan votes. I would hope it is the way most independents vote. It has taken less than two weeks into the presidency of Mr. Obama to have the hair on the back of neck begin to rise. I think I am about to become interested in politics once again, maybe even active once again.

Music Note: Currently listening to Sarah Brightman ....
Specifically, "time to say goodbye" ....
(A serious mood requires serious music)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wolves in the wild, Ambrose Bierce & other obscurities ....

Super Bowl. When?

Two weeks between the last playoff games in professional football and the Super Bowl is too long to wait. I've already lost interest. It's the same for me every year. Get on with it, while I'm still a little bit excited. I've already forgotten who's playing in the Super Bowl this year. Two weeks is too, too, too long.

Time to join the Republicans?

Little more than a week into the presidency of Barack Obama, I am moving away from being politically independent toward becoming a card-carrying Republican. (Well, maybe not card carrying.) Obama is not the only reason. In fact, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are just as much the cause. I believe their spending plans, if approved, will bankrupt the nation. I wonder how many first-time voters in 2008 who danced in the streets upon Obama's election will still be dancing a year or two from now. Living in the streets is a more likely possibility.

Ambrose Bierce & San Francisco

One of my favorite writers, Ambrose Bierce, spent much of his life living and working in San Francisco. I do not think there has been another like "Bitter Bierce," before or since, and do think it would be fascinating if he were alive today and issuing his edicts. Having been a Civil War veteran, having seen severe combat, having been seriously wounded and having produced some of the finest short stories written about "The War," I wonder how he would react to the anti-military climate present in today's San Francisco. It puzzles me how some people fail to distinguish that there is a distinct difference between being anti-war and being anti-military.

Wolves in the wild, a true story ....

While wandering these endless blogs, I paused to read a "young lady's" list of "likes and dislikes." One of her listed "likes" was, "Wolves in the wild." My often dazed mind recalled that I have encountered wolves in the wild on two occasions. The first took place while I was bear hunting. I do not believe he ever saw me, but almost certainly he sensed my presence, and eventually trotted off his own way. The distance between us was a measured 17 yards. The second time was while I was hiking on a deer trail along a high bank skirting a lake shore. I saw a wolf prowling the shoreline, about 12-15 feet below me. As I watched the wolf hunt, on this occasion, I was the one who sensed still another presence. I turned to look behind me. Not more than six feet away stood yet another wolf. His eyes were fixed upon my own. I had not heard his approach. Contrary to common sense, I kept continual eye contact with him. We looked at each other, probably for a minute, maybe, two. Then, with what almost seemed to be a shrug, the wolf dropped his gaze, moved past me and continued his march along the trail. He passed so closely I could have touched him with my hand. Draw a moral from that, if you would ....

Today is No. 10

Today, I file my tenth consecutive post on this blog. I am still not certain why I do it, or why anyone does it.

Music Note: Currently listening to Heart ....
I think I’m in love all over again ....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prometheus (sort of) Unbound

Better today. No chills, no fever, no pain.

It's time to discard bitter cold, deep snow and harsh wind for a few moments. Maybe, instead, a thought about summer would be good for today. Maybe a thought about beauty and timelessness and what truly is important.

The Legend of Mont St. Michel by Guy de Maupassant

"I had first seen it from Cancale, this fairy castle in the sea. I got an indistinct impression of it as of a gray shadow outlined against the misty sky. I saw it again from Avranches at sunset. The immense stretch of sand was red, the horizon was red, the whole boundless bay was red. The rocky castle rising out there in the distance like a weird, seignorial residence, like a dream palace, strange and beautiful-this alone remained black in the crimson light of the dying day."

Natural landscape, architecture and religion seem to blend into one. The island city, Benedictine Abbey and steepled church in Normandy, France, is spectacular, beautiful, historic and a whole bunch of other adjectives, but I do not know that I would want to live there.

Follow the road to Monet. The area around Giverny in northern France has to be among the most beautiful regions in Europe. Claude Monet, an impressionist painter, lived there once upon a time. Looking at a pair of photos of his garden is a reminder that soon it will be warm and sunny summer again. (Photos are Fram's, summer 2004)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prometheus Bound

I must have angered Kratos, Bia and Hephaestus.
I awoke Tuesday morning sweating and shivering.
Fever and chills.
Aches and pains.
I have been held by invisible chains throughout the day.

I will be back when my body returns to its usual (remarkably healthy, efficient, well-toned) state.

Music Note: Currently listening to Ted Nugent ....
I bow hunted with him in Nebraska ....
No big deal, so have many others ....
I do like his personal style and enjoy his music ....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Liberalism run amok .... what's that, you say?

I am approaching my one-year anniversary since visiting San Francisco. Recently, I described my trip there in the following manner to a young lady who resides in the city by the bay.

-- I stayed at the Sir Francis Drake, and thought the bartenders were adequate.

-- I walked on the Golden Gate and cruised under it. I resisted temptation to jump off of it.

-- I stormed the Haight-Ashbury district and laughed a lot.

-- I inspected China Town, but stuck to bacon-cheeseburgers.

-- I prowled Alcatraz prison and island, and spotted three ghosts, as well as Clint Eastwood's shadow.

What else could I or should I have done in San Fran?

Officialdom in San Francisco appears to hate the Marine Corps. Makes a guy feel really welcome. Apparently, they who rule the city hate everyone associated with the military. Recruiters are virtually banned from San Francisco. The city school board does not want them in the schools; university officials do not want them appearing at the so-called institutions of higher learning, and protesters literally have attacked recruiters on campuses; city officials, elected and appointed, say, "go away, soldier boy."

Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors put their lives on the line for every American citizen, yet are figuratively spit on for wearing a uniform in service of their country by the gentry of San Francisco. My viewpoint is that such crude, rude, hateful and contemptible behavior is the legacy of liberalism run amok, and that same radical left attitude seems to be taking over Minnesota. Just look at "what" probably is going to be the next senator to represent the once great state of Minnesota. Absolutely shameful ....

Music Note: Currently listening to Cheap Trick, a giant of rock ....
"Cheap Trick at Budokan" is the best ....
By the way, I studied for a few months at the Kodokan ....
Know the difference? Budokan & Kodokan? Probably not. Who does? Fascinating times, anyway ....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Guns & Norwegian liquor

Sunday was a good day, at least in terms of the way I measure them. I drove 250 miles to go to a gun show. Then, I drove 250 miles to return home, having spent only about $50 to purchase an old, new magazine (clip, to the uninitiated) for one of my pistols. I like to have at least two magazines per pistol, and it is not always easy to find spares for some older models. I doubt I would have made today's trip a few months ago when the price of gasoline was ranging around $4.00 per gallon. A man must always be practical ....

This weekend, I also was able to obtain Volumes 1 – 10 of the Norwegian-American Studies series, and at a reasonable price. Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Society, these first ten books were produced between 1926 and 1938. As you might imagine, there aren't a great many of these older publications floating around. I've been working at acquiring the entire series (35 volumes) for four or five years now, so I consider myself fortunate to run across so many being sold as a unit. This acquisition will take care of my reading needs for a (brief) while ....

Just to offer a taste of the Norwegian-American Studies series and maybe to drive you up a wall, here are some of the essays/papers contained in Volume I:

-- Health Conditions and the Practice of Medicine Among the Early Norwegian Settlers, 1825-1865 by Knut Gjerset and Ludvig Hektoen

-- The Norwegian Quakers of 1825 by Henry J. Cadbury

-- Norwegians in the West in 1844: A Contemporary Account by Johan R. Reiersen and translated and edited by Theodore C. Blegen

-- An Emigrant Voyage in the Fifties (that is as in the 1850s) by H. Cock-Jensen and translated by Karen Larsen

-- Reminiscences of a Pioneer Editor by Carl Fredrik Solberg and edited by Albert O. Barton

Sound exciting? It is if you want it to be. All right, time to move along. Today, we will just wander the country of snow and cold, and skip San Francisco. It's time for a bite of lutefisk (think fjord) and sauer kraut (to satisfy the other part of my being), the taste buds first taunted by a bolt (or two) of icy Aquavit .... and, maybe later, a bit of room-temperature Bache-Gabrielson .... life truly can be sweet ....

Music Note: Currently listening to Neil Young .... fantastic stuff ....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

While wandering here and there and ....

The closest thing I have to a brother is a man named Tom. He spent some time with the U.S. Army. Since I utilized this page on Saturday to sing praises for the Marine Corps, I decided the best way to avoid an argument with Brother Tom is to use the page today to acknowledge the service of Army veterans.

I don’t have a list of quotes about the Army as I did for the Marines. I never did any time with the Army, so I have no personal experience upon which to base any legitimate opinions about life on the inside. What I do have are photographs which recall perhaps the greatest feat ever accomplished by any army anytime in the history of warfare: The storming of the beaches at Normandy in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944:

Pointe du Hoc

American Army Rangers scaled those cliffs while under fire from German troops (probably some of my relatives among them) who were fortified above. It seems unbelievable any Rangers survived to reach the heights, but they did, and won the day. (Photos are Fram's, summer 2004)

Omaha Beach

There are many shorelines like it, beautiful and peaceful. But, on a summer day in 1944, more than 2,200 American soldiers died on that soft sand in the matter of a few hours.

American dead

Here, for eternity, rest some of the fallen on D-Day and in ensuing weeks. This is one of many cemeteries in the area of Normandy. Sons, brothers, husbands, each an individual soul ....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Semper Fi, to the end of time ....

.... Once upon a time .... Minnesota to Virginia to California to ....

Many and many a year ago, in a kingdom not even close to the sea,
I signed my name on the dotted line and, forevermore, a Marine came to be. (Recognize who I'm sort of paraphrasing/plagiarizing?)

It's been a few years since, on January 24, Capt. William "Hoppy" Boyd swore me in. It was in the evening, in a hotel room. I'll not bother with the details other than to say the event was witnessed by a Gunny whose name I've forgotten and by a high school friend who just happened to be driving through town on his way to boot camp with the U.S. Navy. He had knocked on my door, looking for a place to spend the night. That was the last night I ever saw him. He stayed in California after his discharge from the Navy, and he's dead now.

I'll place a few quotes regarding the Marine Corps after my own words, some well known, others more obscure, to mark this occasion. This date is as important to me as any other anniversary in my life. I mark it each and every year. In a sense, having been a Marine to the "core" while having retained my individuality is a "feel good," personal accomplishment.

Now, from Fram to all Marines, those dead, those living and those yet to be born: Semper Fi, to the end of time ....

Thus spake:

There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!
MajGen. Frank E. Lowe, U.S. Army

Why in hell can't the Army do it if the Marines can? They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like Marines.
Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, U.S. Army

The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.
Thomas E. Ricks, "Making the Corps," 1997

We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island (Grenada), and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?
Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., U.S. Army

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States

Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat.
RAdm. "Jay" R. Stark, U.S. Navy

Don't you forget that you're First Marines! Not all the communists in Hell can overrun you!
Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC

My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage and better officers ... These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost.
Lt. Richard C. Kennard, USMC

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth, and the amusing thing about it is that they are.
Father Kevin Keaney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain

Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.
LtGen. Victor H. Krulak, USMC

The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.
Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, U.S. Army

The American Marines have it (pride), and benefit from it. They are tough, cocky, sure of themselves and their buddies. They can fight and they know it.
Gen. Mark Clark, U.S. Army

Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.
Gen. A.M. Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps

Casualties many; percentage of dead not known; combat efficiency, we are winning.
Col. David Shoup, USMC, Medal of Honor, Tarawa, 1943
A battle of mythological proportions

Friday, January 23, 2009

The keys tell all ....

Fram's primary set of keys ....

Fram's secondary/spare set of keys

I have heard that what a woman carries in her purse reveals a great deal about her personality.

I wonder if the same is true about what a man carries on his key chain?

I carry two sets of keys with me 99 percent of the time. The primary (top photo) is pretty much a complete set of just about everything I might need a key for, while the second (bottom photo) holds spare keys only for the vehicle I usually drive and for my house.

Do keys reveal their carrier? What do you think about my sets of keys?

What do these comments have to do with San Francisco, California or Minnesota? If you gotta ask ....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three from San Fran vs. one from L.A.

Gentlemen, all ....
I visited San Francisco once. I was constantly peering around corners hoping to see Dirty Harry Callahan (left) or Frank Bullitt (center) or even Sam Spade (right) in action, but I had no luck.

Never-the-less, I am thinking about taking night classes, changing careers and modeling my life style after one of those three tough guys. Let's see. Callahan and Bullitt were coppers, and had to put up with bureaucratic xxyyzzssmm ... you get the picture. Spade also had cops to work around, but he was "private" ... he was his own boss. Hard choice to make. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Maybe I'll just head down to Los Angeles and pick up where Philip Marlowe (below) left off. You know, Marlowe looks a lot like Sam Spade. I wonder if they had the same old man, a mean-looking guy who traveled a lot? Who's the chick with Marlowe? Whatever, I think I'll forget about the badge and go the "private investigator" route. That sounds classy, like me. I wonder if the chick has a blog?

.... but, maybe L.A.
I'll put your name and number right here in my personal file.
Nice veil.
Had lunch yet? I know this great saloon ....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

San Francisco or vicinity ....

.... vicinity
Have you ever seen a cuter couple?
Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner, married 1942 - 1943.

.... Frisco
Just to prove a point, whether necessary or not.
(This photo is an "inside joke." Sorry.)
It was mostly sunny while I was there.
I doubt there will be many words posted on this bog.
Actually, there might not be much of anything posted here.
But, thoughts, opinions and comments are appreciated ....

Something special ....