Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter, Christmas, guns & a young lady in red

Back on November 30, you might recall, I ran a post entitled, "Seven, there were seven .... waiting for eight." The reference was to the number of revolvers pictured. Well, here is eight. I have had him for a while, but just got around to taking his photograph. He is a Smith & Wesson, like the others in the November 30 photograph; a Model 29-4, .44 magnum; another like the "Dirty Harry Callahan" revolvers, but with a short, three-inch barrel. This guy is twenty-eight years old and in what I would estimate to be ninety-seven percent "like new" condition. A handsome lad, is he not ?? He has been fired a bit, but never carried. More importantly, in a world where guns are manufactured in the multi-thousands and often in the millions, there are only 2,532 like him. He was a "special order/special run" for a distributor. The ring, incidentally, is my current left hand "pinky" ring; the shades have been around (like really around) and sort of qualify as memorabilia.

Some of the lyrics from
"Forever Young"
composed by Bernhard Lloyd, Frank Martens & Marian Gold

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men

Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the madman

Is there any wonder why she lives in my mind?

Welcome to the first day of winter. It began at 4:44 a.m. for me. The weather told me winter actually had arrived a few days earlier. When I awoke last Sunday morning, a foot of snow was on the ground from accumulations the past few days and the thermometer read minus twenty (­-20) degrees Fahrenheit [minus twenty-nine (-29) Celsius]. I dislike everything about winter other than its beauty, but I cannot imagine living without it.

I really have nothing I wish to write -- to say -- but I wanted to mark the official beginning of winter and I wanted to publish the photograph of Smith & Wesson No. 8, as I said I would .... and, I guess, I wanted to say Merry Christmas.
The season is a battle for me. I have written here before, so you may have read here before, that I have not been inside a church since I was fourteen other than for weddings and funerals. Every Christmas, I think about going to a service sort of to relive and, maybe, to reawaken the religious spirit of Christmas I felt as a boy .... but, I never have made it yet. Never will, probably. It is not important, but it is bothersome.

My memories have been working overtime lately. Too much music from the past, possibly. Songs evoke memories and bring back people and places .... faces, especially. Like right now, the song, "Lady in Red," is playing. It brings back Sandy.

Sandy was a married girl who left her husband and moved in with me. Mind you, I did not ask her. We had a few "encounters." Then, in the middle of a summer night, she called me. She had been fighting with her husband. She asked me, in a whisper, to come and get her. I did. She ran from her house to my car wearing only a nightgown. She stayed with me that night .... and, the next day, the next week, the next .... 

I went downtown to a saloon one evening, leaving her behind. An hour or so later, the bar fell silent. Imagine the proverbial "little black dress," except in red. Sandy, in such a dress -- red and short and tight -- and wearing red, spike heels, was strolling down the length of the bar, looking for me. All eyes in the bar were on her when she spotted me and when she walked over to me and when she sat down on my lap and when she gave me a long, sweet kiss. Such a moment .... is there any wonder why she lives in my mind?

That was in August. I was a poor, college boy, too non-committal for her because finishing college was my priority at the time. She eventually moved in with a girlfriend, the person who originally had introduced us, and we saw each other a few times a week. Early in December she went back to her husband and they moved to California. The girlfriend who had introduced us talked her into it, I think .... going back to her husband, I mean. The girlfriend had her own "plans" for me .... I know.

Baby, this story came out of nowhere. Well, not exactly. It almost certainly would never have happened in this post had not the song, "Lady in Red," come up on my "classic rock" radio station .... and, and, and if I had not learned a bit about the characters in a novel entitled, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," by Milan Kundera, through reading a post on another blog a while ago. It got me thinking about "characters" in my life .... and, then, came the song playing on the radio.

This story is considerably longer and more complicated, of course. In fact, I just cut most of what I had written here from the post. One of the more "combative" elements occurred when Sandy's husband went after her in my proximity; two of the more "intriguing" elements involved me working for her mother at a resort and, much later, hoping to encounter her at the funeral of her father some years after our parting.

Sandra Kay H. was a magic girl, but magic never seems to last for me .... I still see her face clearly, smiling at me, pledging love that did not last .... an absolutely beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde girl personifying her German descent .... whatever .... so, now, back to the snow and the cold of winter and guns and classic rock and books and who knows what ....

One of those books probably will be ".... Lightness of Being." Kundera reportedly did not like the film version and said it did not do his book justice; so, I will skip the flick. I am curious, though, to learn if the novel's characters are more fascinating than my own ....

.... my own .... those who have mingled within my own reality .... hmmmm .... imagine that ....

Uffff .... "Lady in Black," just came on the radio and memories are stirring .... uffff ..... I am laughing .... no more thoughts this evening other than ....

.... Merry Christmas ....

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The tracks of a hunter

With the wind huffing and puffing at about twenty miles-per-hour, the tracks of the hunter are rapidly diminishing as they fill with blowing snow and, in just the few minutes since he passed by, have been obscured to the degree even skilled trackers could not identify the creature which had left them unless they actually had seen him. It so happens I did see this hunter -- a coyote -- leisurely lope along less than a dozen feet from my house. Since he obviously was not going to stop and wait for me to retrieve a camera and pose for me, I decided to wave to him as he strode by and to collect my camera from within the house and to record his brief appearance in the form of photographing his tracks. The last time I saw a coyote here -- very possibly the same guy -- was last summer as he walked down the middle of the street in front of my house: No snow, no tracks, that time. By the way, at noon today when the coyote paid his visit, the actual air temperature was four degrees Fahrenheit or fifteen Celsius. His shaggy, ragged fur marked the hardship of his winter existence. He is a brave fellow, to live in the midst of his enemies. His tracks are gone now, made invisible by drifting snow .... as if he never were ....

A lesson from the military treatise
"The Art of War"
written by Sun Tzu

"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles ...."

A verse from the song
"White Wedding"
composed by Billy Idol

There is nothing fair in this world
There is nothing safe in this world
And there's nothing sure in this world
And there's nothing pure in this world
Look for something left in this world
Start again come on

The lines from the scene when 
Thomas Crown lands his glider aircraft
in the 1968 film
"The Thomas Crown Affair"

Gwen: I wish you wouldn't always undershoot the field like that.
Thomas: Why?
Gwen: Oh, come on, Tommy.
Thomas: Well, it'd end all my worries.
Gwen: What do you have to worry about?
Thomas: Who I want to be tomorrow.

Here we go with "big oil"

This post was not planned, so I really have not much of anything to say. I would pause for a moment, though, to comment on president-elect Donald Trump's decision to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, to be the next secretary of state.

I do not like the choice, not because of Tillerson's familiarity (some say coziness) with Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation. I sort of go along with the "know thy enemy" theory. What I do not like is having any senior official from "big oil" in any cabinet-level position -- most especially one as critical to the well being of the United States as is the secretary of state.

As I often have noted in the past, I am a conservative in most regards -- not a Republican, but a conservative -- and my trust and respect for the realms of corporate giants is about a two on a scale of zero to ten. This is particularly true of "big oil."

The basis for this position is its frequently demonstrated condition of excessive corporate greed and my own somewhat excessive environmental principles. My religious concepts blend and merge with pantheism, which favors environmental preservation far higher than unbridled economic progress, and my actual political affiliation is connected to whatever issues appear to be important from my point of view and to whichever candidates I am in most agreement with at the moment.

That has been the long way of saying I find the nomination of Tillerson unsettling. We shall see where it all leads.

On stage tonight, Donnie & the Geriatrics

Some rock singers and musicians have a characteristic of expressing their musical emotions with exaggerated facial expressions and by pursing their lips. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, for instance, is a frequent "lip purser."

Enter Donald Trump. While he seems to have lessened a bit his habit of constantly making exaggerated facial expressions and lip pursing, Trump seemed like he was always doing it back during the primary season, especially when he was engaged in the debates or speaking to crowds of adoring "fans." I remember often thinking during those times: "Trump must envision himself as a rock star."

A few days ago, I was browsing YouTube when I re-encountered Billy Idol and this performance of, "Eyes Without A Face." Then it dawned on me: "That is it .... when Trump looks in the mirror, he does not see himself looking back. He sees Billy Idol."

Well, whatever, that is what I thought .... Trump stole his stage style and mannerisms from Billy Idol .... take a look for yourself ....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7, 1941 -- toughness, then & now

Nearly one-half of the approximately twenty-four hundred Americans killed during the Japanese surprise attack on American military installations in and around Pearl Harbor on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands were aboard the USS Arizona, whose sunken remains are visible below the surface of blue-green lagoon waters. The structure above the battleship's remains is the USS Arizona Memorial. The ship itself is a National Historic Landmark and active military cemetery which holds the remains of more than a thousand Sailors and Marines killed aboard the vessel in the attack, as well as survivors of the assault whose ashes now may be placed within the vessel or scattered above it. Today marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the attack which struck at 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941. 

Remember Pearl Harbor & hang tough ....

[Editor's Note: The following words were not written by me. They were composed by a hunting magazine writer named David Petzal. I am using them here because I think they fit perfectly with the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on United States' military bases in and around Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu on December 7, 1941.

Back then, students of history might recall, German and Japanese military leaders did not think American men and women had the physical or the mental toughness, much less the will, to fight back against aggression. It is evident the leadership in places like Iran, North Korea, the self-proclaimed ISIS state, China and Russia have the same attitude toward Americans today. Who knows, they might be right. So, then, here are some words to think about on Pearl Harbor Day 2016:]

.... toughness is endangered, and hunting is one of the few fields in which it is fashionable, necessary, and encouraged. Schools and colleges teach the opposite of tough. In these institutions, tough is as unfashionable as English grammar, common sense, and American history as it actually happened ....

.... A friend of mine, a handgun hunter, went on a sheep hunt in Alaska where no sheep were to be seen. The only way to find them was by walking, and so he walked. He walked until the blood soaked through his socks, and then through his boots. He finally shot his sheep, made it back to camp, and then he could walk no more. He is tough ....

.... The military, where toughness is still at a premium, can teach us much on the subject. At West Point, the maxim is "Embrace the suck." This means no matter what kind of wretched situation you find yourself in, it is the wretched situation you have chosen. Everything in your life has led you to this. Enjoy it. Relish it. Savor it.

Some toughness is physical, but much is mental. I know a SEAL who made it through Basic Underwater Demolition school, where everyone is made of whalebone and steel springs but the attrition rate is still 80 percent, by adopting the mantra: You'll have to kill me. I will not quit. I've talked with half a dozen SEALs, and to a man they say that what got them through it was resolve, not biceps.

Can tough people complain? In the military, pissing and moaning is practically a duty. For civilians it's more complex. If you don't pull your weight in (hunting) camp, your bitching rights are null and void. If you do your share of work, you may complain, but only if you do it with wit and style. Artful complaining can make a grim situation less so. Mindless whining turns mens' minds to thoughts of slaughter.

Is there a slogan for the tough? Almost. You've seen those T-shirts that say, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. I would change it to KEEP CALM, CARRY ON, AND SHUT UP.

.... hang tough.

[Postscript from me: The World War II generation has often been called "The Greatest Generation." Perhaps, the cornerstone of that greatness was the courage and the toughness men and women needed to possess simply to survive back then. There were no "safe zones" for them, no so-called "self-help" books or gurus, no food stamps, no unemployment benefits, no credit cards and the country just was emerging from The Great Depression -- well, you get my drift.

Those who were part of the World War II generation relied on themselves, on their families, their friends, their neighbors, their schools, their churches, their communities and on their own innate character, strength and will power. This is why the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, was only a knockdown blow and not a knockout punch.

That is why Pearl Harbor needs to be remembered as long as there is a United States of America -- as a lesson of what kept the nation safe from fascist, dictatorial regimes back then and what is needed to do so still today.]

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Seven, there were seven .... waiting for eight

Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson are gaining in influence in my world, a locale generally dominated by John Browning and Samuel Colt. These men were gun makers / inventors, for the edification of the uninitiated. The seven revolvers here are Smith & Wesson -- each and every one. They are waiting for the eighth to make its appearance and fill the rack to its capacity. The eighth is en route at this very moment, making its way from New York state to Minnesota. Upon its arrival, the rack will be full and complete, and another cycle will begin.

This is a strange, weird, odd post, so it deserves strange, weird, odd music. Who better, what better than Warren Zevon (rhetorical remark, no question, no answer necessary .... but, first ....)

Sic semper tyrannis

It is ironically fitting (perhaps, poetically, too) that Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz would leave the earth in November -- the same month John Fitzgerald Kennedy departed fifty-seven years earlier. Kennedy left on November 22, 1963 -- Castro on November 25, 2016. It would have been absolutely spooky had their deaths been the same date of the month since their lives were very much intertwined through economic, military and, some claim, personal warfare.

If the words within that paragraph form a mystery to you and you are curious, do a bit of research. History is fascinating. Whatever .... good bye and good riddance, El Caballo ....

Hmmmm .... interesting, for we doubters ....

From a conservative viewpoint, many of Donald Trump's Cabinet and White House selections are looking good. Obviously, dedicated liberals / progressives will not agree, but I am beginning to think there is method to the madness of our "potty mouth" president-elect:

Mike Pompeo, congressman from Kansas to head the CIA. West Point graduate, first in his class with military experience in Europe .... good .... hard core right politically .... wish he had some "spook" experience, but all-in-all a good choice

Mike Flynn, retired Army lieutenant general to be Trump's national security adviser, formerly headed the Defense Intelligence Agency .... great variety of intelligence and special military operations experience .... registered Democrat, but military hawk .... great choice

KT McFarland, former national security analyst, to be deputy national security adviser to the president .... brilliant strategist and analyst and negotiator, who can lay on the charm as a counterbalance to Flynn's hard core, in-your-face style .... she is a super choice, and probably will replace Flynn in a few years after he has figuratively cut too many people off at the knees ....

Jeff Sessions, senator since 1996 from Alabama, to be attorney general, strong conservative record on judiciary, immigration, military .... good to potentially great choice

There are others I sort of think of as fine choices, but who puzzle me a bit in some instances, and of whom I have no real opinion .... in short, some I really am not enthused about and it is a wait-and-see game with them: Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina as ambassador to the United Nations (this role really puzzles me since she has no relevant background); Betsy DeVos, businesswoman and philanthropist as education secretary; Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee as White House chief of staff .... all right, there have been more, but we will stop with those for now ....

As a fascinating footnote, to me, anyway, DeVos has a brother, Erik Prince, who is a former Navy SEAL officer and the founder of Blackwater, the (now defunct) private military / security firm which had thousands of civilian "contractors" paid by the United States government doing adjunct military work in places like Iraq. Again, a bit of history worth researching for those interested in the depth of federal government duplicity and intrigue at home and abroad.

The end of November -- or one, long paragraph

Usually, I am pleased when November passes because I am one month closer to spring. This year, though, I have a nostalgic sense about November -- maybe because the weather has been mild (better rain than snow); maybe because it is one of those years when I sense my life changing and going in a new direction; maybe because it is the month of the end of World War I and Veterans Day .... of an afternoon in a park in Minneapolis I was never in before and never have been since with a girl named Sandy Daniels when we both were sort of young .... of John Kennedy and his death .... of Thanksgiving .... of the last day of my last deer hunt in Michigan woodlands along the rocky shore of Lake Superior, with wind howling in tree tops and five-foot snow drifts encircling tree trunks, then finally walking out along a logging trail as gathering dusk melted into absolute darkness; maybe because it is the month when the northern world was in its death throes just before being reborn again and again during epochs before Christmas ever was dreamt of in the minds of mortal men. Oh, well, maybe you understand the swirling drifts encircling me, maybe not, but you can see behind my eyes if you look closely .... November = metamorphosis, it would seem, this year .... there is no substitute for having been around the block once or twice .... hang in there, baby ....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How different might the world be today?

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy
           Thirty-fifth president of the United States of America
                                     Born: May 29, 1917
                             Murdered: November 22, 1963
                             Age 46 -- president 1036 days

 A few lines from the musical
by Alan Lerner & Frederick Loewe

King Arthur:
Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
Now say it out with pride and joy!

Camelot! Camelot!

King Arthur:
Yes, Camelot, my boy!
Where once it never rained till after sundown,
By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown ....
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The world always is upside down for someone

It appears many think the world, once again and for the umpteenth time since the British band of General Charles Cornwallis played the tune after the American victory at Yorktown in 1781, has been turned upside down. This time the event was the election of Donald "potty mouth" Trump to become the forty-fifth president of the United States. My dog, Buddy, sort of goes along with that assessment and has adjusted his position for viewing the world accordingly. My own view is that the world has been turned upside down throughout the last eight years under the mostly absentee leadership of Barack Obama, especially notably on the international front in which hundreds of thousands have been murdered in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan while the United Nations, the United States and Western Europe have done what ?? Absolutely nothing of consequence to prevent it.

Anyway, now we shall see what the next four years bring -- hopefully, in the least, the death of political correctness and the end of appeasement to terrorists and their sponsor nations.

In the meanwhile, Buddy and I will calmly watch the world go by while drinking our Benedictine; reading our Fyodor Dostoyevsky, our Norman Mailer, our Carl Jung, our Jean-Paul Sartre, our Will Durant and a few "supplemental bums" -- dharma and otherwise; collecting ourselves a gun here and there (by the way, add still another Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum to the number as of last Saturday); and, maybe, smoking our Cuban cigars –- I am thinking about taking them up again .... a guy has to have a vice or two and, god, I miss the taste of a cigar (along with a few other tastes) and you only live once .... unless you take literally Ian Fleming novels.

Ah, yes .... the music. It is here for two reasons: Obviously, because it is exquisitely beautiful. Perhaps obvious also to a few who have been coming here since the beginning, because when I look at the young lady in the quartet whose hair is worn up it is like I am seeing another young lady from the not-too-distant past. Sometimes the past keeps finding its way back, at least in your mind if not into your actuality. Whatever .... since I have written less, there is room this evening for more photographs and more music.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Speaking of "in their own image"

Recognize these guys? They are what remains of a couple of Neanderthals .... they might be among your ancestors. That might explain a lot of things, might it not ?? ..... yep, it might .... but, you probably never will know for certain because their names definitely will not turn up on any genealogical website.

Do you ever wonder
what it was like
to have been one of them ??

(Editor's Note: I did not write either of these "segments." I am unabashedly reprinting them without proper credits, but with hopes no one will care or that I will be immune from any blame or fault, à la the Hillary syndrome: Who, me ?? Whatever .... sorry to keep harping about this sort of study -- this very real genetic link from hominoid and even before to we who walk the Earth today -- but, I think it is fascinating and I believe predestination might be more relevant than ever imagined by religious "entrepreneurs" such as John Calvin: Turn loose the genie .... whoops, I mean the gene.)

Segment No. 1: The first draft of the sequence of the Neanderthal genome was published in 2010, and one might think that it would tell us everything we need to know about the genetic differences between modern humans and our closest evolutionary cousins -- Neanderthals.

But, it turns out the raw genetic code is only half the story. Just as important is epigenetics -- features of the genome that determine which genes are active and which are inactive, factors that can in turn have a dramatic effect on one's traits.

Now, researchers from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, where the original sequencing took place, have found an ingenious way to investigate Neanderthal epigenetics. Their findings have provided tantalizing clues to how the bodies and brains of modern humans have evolved since splitting from Neanderthals several hundred thousand years ago.

The usual methods for determining whether genes are active or inactive are highly destructive and cannot be used on scarce Neanderthal genetic material. Instead, the researchers managed to detect telltale epigenetic signs in the Neanderthal genome based on the insight that certain portions of ancient DNA tend to be misread in a distinctive way by DNA sequencers.

This reading of Neanderthal epigenetics produced a number of novel results. Two genes involved in determining body shape turned out to be highly inactivated in Neanderthals and highly activated in humans. This could help explain why Neanderthals have thicker hands, wider knee and elbow joints, and shorter limbs.

"These genes are identical between us and Neanderthals," says Liran Carmel of Hebrew University. "So we are convinced we have found a region where only the epigenetics is different."

Many genes associated with diseases -- in particular psychiatric and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, autism, and schizophrenia -- also appear to be activated in modern humans, but not Neanderthals.

Carmel says the activation of these genes may have produced an evolutionary catch-22: bestowing a benefit, perhaps by changing the wiring of our brains, but also introducing an increased risk of disease.

Segment No. 2: "Live Science" reports that evolutionary biologist Ivan Juric of the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues want to know why modern humans carry so few Neanderthal genes.

A large population of modern humans and a small Neanderthal population are thought to have interbred thousands of years ago, but very little Neanderthal DNA has survived in the modern human genome. It had been suggested that many of the offspring of Neanderthals and modern humans failed to thrive, or were infertile.

Juric's team developed a computer model to simulate the effects of natural selection on the distance between segments of Neanderthal DNA and modern human genes, since less Neanderthal DNA has been found in regions close to modern human genes than in the inactive areas between genes.

The results of the simulation suggest that Neanderthal gene variants are being slowly removed by natural selection. Now Juric wants to know which gene variants contributed by extinct human relatives have been deleted from the modern human genome.

"Once we know more about the genes involved, we can ask what those genes do and what traits they are involved with in modern humans," he said. "Then, we might be able to make some guesses about the traits of those early human-Neanderthal hybrids."

(Postscript: Once again, science makes more sense than does religion in terms of explaining what we are and who we are, which does not mean religion does not have the potential for even greater importance and relevance than science. Anyway .... I hope you read these few sentences .... they might help you toward a greater understanding of you .... yourself .... your actual self .... although nothing seems to answer the question of why you are -- why such a creature as yourself even exists .... and, if you are anything more than dust in the wind.)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Too many want the world in their own image

My last post included a notation that the photograph appearing with it had not been intended, but, instead, a photograph of my latest acquisition in firearms had been planned. Well, here is that missing photograph, but with sort of a modification because during the brief interim of time from that post to this one, there already has been another acquisition. The smaller, blued revolver was purchased October 19 and is a Smith & Wesson Model 36 in .38 Special caliber. The larger, stainless steel revolver was just purchased October 28. It is a Ruger Bisley Super Blackhawk Lipsey Edition. The caliber is .454 Casull. Most film-goers are familiar with Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" character in which he utters the oft-quote words:

"But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

While the .44 Remington Magnum is as popular as ever among revolver buffs, it no longer holds the distinction of "most powerful." Calibers like the .454 Casull and the .460 and the .500 Smith & Wesson have usurped that title.

So, we have three handgun purchases in thirty-nine days, two of them shown here, and I have my eye on a couple of others at the moment. I suppose it is time for me to admit I am hopelessly in love with guns .... fortunately, for me, I am not alone in this affliction .... I might add the Model 36 is thirty-nine years old and is as perfect as the day it was created, while the Bisley/Lipsey is a newborn .... what perfection, they even reflect the yellow of the leaves in the tree above them .... anyway and whatever, since my last post was rather lengthy, this one will be rather short .... and, and, and dwell only on guns and a touch of music ....
But, first, this, too ....
.... why not (??) a few words I wrote elsewhere earlier this evening which were never intended to be here. They might not make sense without additional explanation and they might seem out of context to the post, but, really, they fit right in if you think about it and who cares anyway? So, here they are:
My concept of masculinity (and femininity, too) is entirely uncomplicated and revolves around individuality: Be who you want to be, unworried about what others might think, as opposed to being intimidated into running in the midst of the politically correct crowd. There is room for everyone to be who they wish to be ....

I probably am an endangered species with that sentiment; there are too many who think they know what is best, not only for themselves, but for their neighbors, as well. There are times I think I see the flames lit by "Jack and his choir" burning on the horizon.

Something special ....