Friday, September 25, 2009


"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions whch they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly tauaght to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives."
       Leo Tolstoy

Such persons as Mr. Tolstoy describes have stopped learning, haven't they?  Learning is being ready to question what you know when what you know is challenged by a new idea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

3/50 Project and Other Good Ideas

The overpaid deadheads who run the banking system, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve may be trying to restore their credibility but some others who live and work at the lower level are finding new ways to recover their autonomy and their wealth.
One clever idea has been conceived by Cinda Baxter.  She calls it the 3/50 Project.  It is an initiative that encourages consumers to commit to spending fifty dollars a month at three independent local stores ($50 total, not $50 per store).  She is not asking shoppers to stop shopping at chain stores or malls but to balance their spending in ways that maintain the community.  The best approach is to choose three local stores that you would miss if they closed and commit to spending $50 a month between those three businesses.  Click on the link and read more.

Another clever approach is the deal struck between Kohl's, the department store, and the Hospice of Palm Beach County Resale Shop.  Vans from the Resale Shop appear in the parking lot at Kohl's on a designated Saturday.  Peolpe who donate clean, gently used clothing, furniture, accessories, books, etc. are given discounts of 15% & 20% on purchases at Kohl's.

Another innovative idea is to use a credit card for purchases only every other month.  Or, to put it differently, to use your credit card for purchases six months a year only.  Use cash or debit card in the other six months.  If even one third of the population did this, it would send a message to the banks that might freeze more than their assets.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Relaxing in Florida

My brother-in-law Dan and his wife Peggy just returned to Madison, Wisconsin after spending a week with us in our home.  The visit was a combination of taking a vacation and seeing each other after a gap of eleven or twelve years.
It was a pretty full week.  Our first event was a trip to Riverbend Park off Indiantown Road in western Jupiter.  The site is a large parcel of preserved land which represents Old Florida.  Only walking and biking are allowed on the dirt trails.  A typical farmstead is the first developed feature of the park.  Work has begun on a Seminole Indian village.  Attention will be paid to history.  This was a battlefield in 1838 between the US Army and the Seminole Indians who were supported by fugitive or runaway slaves.  Other features are planned and, when complete, this park will be an important tourist site, I'm sure.  We saw several birds including wild turkeys on the ground and pileated woodpeckers high in the overhead tree canopy.
We made three, maybe four, trips to the Atlantic ocean to swim.  The water was a little rough, waves 2 to 3 feet with shorebreak.  Water temp was 83 degrees.  On our second trip, I took my Morey Boogie bodyboard which I haven't used in a while.  I picked up a good size wave and rode the board  in.  I got knocked around pretty good. I'd like to think I am out of shape, but it's not that.  I'm just too old now.
Fish were running out from the shoreline that day.  On one occasion, we found ourselves swimming among a school of fish.  I was treading water watching these sleek silver fish leap over the waves when suddenly there was an upward explosive surge of fish and water around Peggy.  She let out a little shriek.  The lifeguard blew his whistle several times and we saw he wanted us out of the water.  I asked the lifeguard about the fish and he said that something was after them and that was why he called everyone out.   We were allowed back in shortly, but he called everyone out one more time that day.
I have been swimming at that beach off and on since 1987 and I have never been whistled out of the water before.  I have seen schools of fish many times but never witnessed the sight that Peggy experienced when about two dozen fish, 8 to 10 inches long, blasted from the water all around her in fright of whatever wanted to eat them.
On our first trip to the ocean, we walked from Carlin Park to the Jupiter inlet and back (59 minutes).  It wasn't a good week for finding shells, but we enjoyed the shore birds: gulls, pipers, sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, and, of course, pelicans soaring over the water.
A visit was made to The Loggerhead Marine Life Center which promotes the care and preservation of sea turtles.  They maintain a hospital for turtles there and assist in rescue when injured or sick tortoises appear on he beach.  The 'patients' recover in large circular tubs filled with recirculating ocean water.  Visitors to the Center are allowed to walk between the tubs to see the huge magnificent sea creatures.
Another stop was the Loxahatchee River Center, a non-profit facility located in Burt Reynolds Park east of Route 1.  Its primary purpose is the education of children of the need for maintaining river quality for the good of the community.  But its information is equally useful for those adults who have never learned the elements of what constitutes a healthy river.
Our final visit was to see the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida.  90% of the animals here are recovering from injuries received due to human carelessness or meaness.  The walk-through is well-designed and enjoyable.  Plenty of information is posted about the various birds, animals, and plants found there.  We saw the red fox, gray fox, Florida panthers (2), river otter, alligator, corocodile, varieties of turtle, varieties of birds including wood storks, bald eagles, golden eagles, red tailed hawks, owls, buzzards, etc.
All four of the above facilities are free to the public althought they do encourage a donation of whatever one  can afford.

We ate out twice, the most notable being breakfast at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound, Florida.  This is a local landmark, in business since 1941, and great fun to visit.  Their standard breakfast is so hearty that you won't need lunch.  Three, not two, slices of bacon cut thick.  Two eggs scrambled but it looks like three eggs.  A generous serving of hash brown (red-skin new potatoes coarsely chopped), a biscuit, jam, butter, and all the coffee you need.  Check out the video if you click on the link to their website.
One morning, Peggy made German pancakes for breakfast, a treat that I had never had before.  They were delicious served with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sprinkled with powdered sugar!

Finally, the day after Dan & Peggy left to return to Madison, I discovered a bottle of Blue Moon beer lying on its side in the rear of the refrigerator.  Danny had bought a bottle sixpack of it while here but he must have missed this one.  I had never heard of the beer so I opened it and drank it down.  It is a Belgian style wheat ale.  From the label:  Brewed with white wheat and oats, Blue Moon features a crisp wheat finish and the perfect combination of orange peel and coriander.  Bring out Blue Moon's natural spices by serving it in a Pilsener glass with and orange-slice garnish.
I didn't need the garnish.  Thanks, Dan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

W. R. Rodgers - Poem for the Month of September

Take a few minutes to read this poem slowly, closely.  Savor, enjoy every phrase.  It is a wonderful poem.

Neither Here Nor There

In that land all Is, and nothing's Ought;
No owners or notices, only birds;
No walls anywhere, only lean wire of words
Worming brokenly out from eaten thought;
No oats growing, only ankle-lace grass
Easing and not resenting the feet that pass;
No enormous beasts, only names of them;
No bones made,  bans laid, or boons expected,
No contracts, entails, or hereditaments,
Anything at all that might tie or hem.

In that land, all's lackadaisical;
No lakes of coddled spawn, and no locked ponds
Of settled purpose,  no netted fishes;
But only inkling streams and running fronds,
Fritillaried with dreams, weedy with wishes;
Nor arrogant talk is heard, haggling phrase,
But undertones, and hesitance, and haze;
On clear days mountains of meaning are seen
Humped high on the horizon;  no one goes
To con their meaning, no one cares or knows.

In that land all's flat, indifferent;  there
Is neither springing house nor hanging tent,
No aims are entertained, and nothing is meant,
For there are no ends, and no trends, no roads,
Only follow your nose to anywhere.
No one is born there, no one stays or dies,
For it is a timeless land, it lies
Between the act and the attrition, it
Marks off bound from rebound, make from break, tit
From tat, also today from tomorrow.
No Cause there comes to term, but each departs
Elsewhere to whelp its deeds, expel its darts;
There are no homecomings, of course, no goodbyes
In that land, neither yearning nor scorning,
Though at night there is the smell of morning.

W. R. Rodgers
Irish poet  1909-1969

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let's be thankful for the marketplace.

Private contractors in Kabul who work as security guards for the US embassy have been filmed living it up in nude and drunken revelry.  They also have  made unauthorized recon missions in Afghan neighborhoods.
Other private American contractors in Afghanistan are being investigated for diverting 20% of taxpayer money, to be used by them for specific tasks, being  paid instead directly to the Taliban for protection.  This protection money received by the Taliban  can, of course, be used in their efforts to kill American soldiers.
It's comforting to see the marketplace at work, performing so much better than the United States Army ever could.