The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 22, 2016: Anniversary Edition Open Thread

Jane and I can’t believe it, but it was 28 years ago today, a rainy day much as we’re experiencing right now, that we got married in a restaurant near where we both grew up. The restaurant has since changed name and ownership, and I don’t think we’ve even eaten there since we got married. Maybe once.

So we’re gonna relax and take it easy today. I got a call from someone who wants to come by and give me the rest of the money to buy my old, broken down van. It’s a Honda Odyssey, and since we’re both huge fans of Stargate SG-1, we often referred to it as the X-301. (SG-1 fans will get that. The rest of you will turn your head sideways like a confused German Shepherd. That’s okay. I get that reaction a lot from people.) So if he does come through, I get to sit around doing nothing and get paid a couple of hundred dollars for it. Nice work avoidance if you can get it.

This will be our open thread for the day (or possibly the weekend.) Relax and enjoy yourselves, and don’t vote for any narcissistic orangutans promising to roll the clock back fifty or more years to when white men ruled everything in our society. It was not a good time, no matter what the old white men tell you. Unless you were one of them.

Tell us how you’re celebrating our anniversary.ūüôā

The Watering Hole; Friday October 21 2016; “It is not now as it hath been of yore”

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

Those are the¬†opening¬†five lines of the first stanza of William Wordsworth’s classic work of poetic art entitled¬†“ODE ON INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY¬†From Recollections of Early Childhood” ¬†(comp. 1802-1804). What’s long fascinated me is the fact that even though ‘Intimations’ was written more than 200 years ago, its words still describe — with amazing precision — moments of emotional recognition that most any¬†cognitive mind can find itself pondering even today.

In the summer¬†of 2007, for example, we spent pretty much the entire month of July camped in Arizona’s Apache National Forest, on the edge of a forest meadow (Cienega) which was located some 30 miles from the nearest town, some 5-6 miles north of the edge of Arizona’s grand escarpment, the Mogollon Rim (elevation approx. 9000 ft.) and¬†roughly¬†10-15 miles west of the New Mexico state line. The forest meadow was named Butterfly Cienega, and it lay¬†in¬†a lush and peaceful corner of a¬†forest teaming with life.

The following series of photographs¬†effectively portrays a tiny portion of the experience, and essentially acts as a bridge to another event that was to occur some four years down the road — May, June and July, 2011. The photos are presented in no particular order, but are interspersed with three¬†additional excerpts from Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations’ Ode which together re-tell the story implied in the Ode’s nine-line first stanza, as quoted up top¬†and in the four lines immediately below.¬† Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 20 2016; The Presidential Debates: A Poetic … Summation?


The debates are over. Finis. Whoopee. Yeehaw. In briefest summary, their sole accomplishment has been to redefine the concept of ‘dismal.’ Why is that? Whatever happened to the notion of comparing ideas? Of exploring the concept of Excellence rather than the dismal side of hatred-driven politics? Whatever happened to that constitutional idea of “a more perfect union”?

Back in the late 1800’s, British poet William Watson wrote about ‘Excellence,’ the concept and its impact on thought, presumably on actual attainment processes as well. A quick perusal¬†reinforms the damaged mind on both the concept¬†AND¬†the consequence(s) of Excellence. A more patient and thoughtful read can, I’ve found, effectually rewrite the mind’s vision of what should perhaps be the basis of an honest political debate, perhaps even of a viable governing philophy.

The Things That Are More Excellent

As we wax older on this earth,
Till many a toy that charmed us seems
Emptied of beauty, stripped of worth,
And mean as dust and dead as dreams
For gauds that perished, shows that passed,
Some recompense the Fates have sent,
Thrice lovelier shine the things that last,
The things that are more excellent.

Tired of the Senate’s barren brawl,
An hour with silence we prefer,
Where statelier rise the woods than all
Yon towers of talk at Westminster. [or Washington?] 
Let this man prate and that man plot,
On fame or place or title bent:
The votes of veering crowds are not
The things that are more excellent.

Shall we perturb and vex our soul
For “wrongs” which no true freedom mar,
Which no man’s upright walk control,
And from no guiltless deed debar?
What odds though tonguesters heal, or leave
Unhealed, the grievance they invent?
To things, not phantoms, let us cleave
The things that are more excellent.

Nought nobler is, than to be free:
The stars of heaven are fret because
In amplitude of liberty
Their joy is to obey the laws.
From servitude to freedom’s name
Free thou thy mind in bondage pent;
Depose the fetich, and proclaim
The things that are more excellent.

And in appropriate dust be hurled
That dull, punctilious god, whom they
That call their tiny clan the world,
Serve and obsequiously obey:
Who con their ritual of Routine,
With minds to one dead likeness bleat,
And never ev’n in dreams have seen
The things that are more excellent.

To dress, to call, to dine, to break
No canon of the social code,
The little laws that lacqueys make,
The futile decalogue of Mode,
How many a soul for these things lives,
With pious passion, grave intent! 
While Nature careless-handed gives
The things that are more excellent.

To hug the wealth ye cannot use.
And lack the riches all may gain,
O blind and wanting wit to choose,
Who house the chaff and burn the grain,
And still.doth life with starry towers
Lure to the bright, divine ascent!
Be yours the things ye would: be ours
The things that are more excellent.

The grace of friendship–mind and heart
Linked with their fellow heart and mind;
The gains of science, gifts of art;
The sense of oneness with our kind;
The thirst to know and understand
A large and liberal discontent:
These are the goods in life’s rich hand,
The things that are more excellent.

In faultless rhythm the ocean rolls,
A rapturous silence thrills the skies;
And on this earth are lovely souls,
That softly look with aidful eyes.
Though dark, O God,
Thy course and track. I think
Thou must at least have meant
That nought which lives should wholly lack
The things that are more excellent.


Since the Conventions last summer, we have seen little if any binary discussion of goals that might enhance the ‘Excellence’ of American life in general. In fact, the Trumpian side of this electoral contest¬†has completely avoided any discussion of any kind on the matter of ‘Excellence,’ dwelling instead on matters that define¬†its¬†precise opposite, i.e. concepts designed to solely inspire hate and fear amongst its acolytes. Very disappointing.

I¬†find it interesting — and fascinating —¬†that more than one hundred and fifty years ago, Emily Dickinson defined Trump’s collective debate (and campaign) performance — and probably the entire of his functional ‘personality’ — when she wrote:

He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
The Broad are too broad to define
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar —
The Truth never flaunted a Sign —

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun —
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!

‘Counterfeit presence’ indeed! Either Dickinson had run across an early version of Trump years prior to¬†the Civil War, or she was possessed¬†by¬†an extremely and amazingly prescient mind!

In the final analysis, then, it is now my carefully considered opinion (conclusion?) that the 2016 Presidential Debates can and will be forever judged as a complete and total substantive failure, and all because of the juvenile mentality and the implicitly vicious and vitriolic nature of the Republican candidate for POTUS: Donald J. Trump. I do hope that we the people have finally witnessed and sampled — this year, 2016 — the absolute dregs of American political debate. And though it’s an extremely long climb to even regain the middle of its severe downhill slope, I do indeed suggest that the quest for political Excellence be immediately initiated. Meanwhile, words¬†penned by¬†Wm. Wordsworth in Intimations of Immortality) appear to be an adequate summary of this day’s political dilemma:

The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?




LIVE-BLOGGING the Final “debate” in the 2016 Presidential Race…thank goodness

I expect this is what my face will look like by the end of the debate, minus the drool, I hope.

So yeah, do whatever floats your boat here.  You can live-blog, heckle, poke fun, tell jokes, or have a complete mental breakdown, but please NO DRINKING GAMES!!

Am I giving this political debate the respect and seriousness it deserves?  Fuck no, I am not.  This entire election has turned into a shameful mockery of itself, so pfffttttt!

The thing starts at 6 PT, and you can watch it here:


The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 10/19/2016




Commencing then with the first of the above-named characteristics, I say that it would be well to be reputed liberal. Nevertheless, liberality exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it, injures you; for if one exercises it honestly and as it should be exercised, it may not become known, and you will not avoid the reproach of its opposite. Therefore, any one wishing to maintain among men the name of liberal is obliged to avoid no attribute of magnificence; so that a prince thus inclined will consume in such acts all his property, and will be compelled in the end, if he wish to maintain the name of liberal, to unduly weigh down his people, and tax them, and do everything he can to get money. This will soon make him odious to his subjects, and becoming poor he will be little valued by any one; thus, with his liberality, having offended many and rewarded few, he is affected by the very first trouble and imperilled by whatever may be the first danger; recognizing this himself, and wishing to draw back from it, he runs at once into the reproach of being miserly.

Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in time he will come to be more considered than if liberal, seeing that with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself against all attacks, and is able to engage in enterprises without burdening his people; thus it comes to pass that he exercises liberality towards all from whom he does not take, who are numberless, and meanness towards those to whom he does not give, who are few.

We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed. Pope Julius the Second was assisted in reaching the papacy by a reputation for liberality, yet he did not strive afterwards to keep it up, when he made war on the King of France; and he made many wars without imposing any extraordinary tax on his subjects, for he supplied his additional expenses out of his long thriftiness. The present King of Spain would not have undertaken or conquered in so many enterprises if he had been reputed liberal. A prince, therefore, provided that he has not to rob his subjects, that he can defend himself, that he does not become poor and abject, that he is not forced to become rapacious, ought to hold of little account a reputation for being mean, for it is one of those vices which will enable him to govern.

And if any one should say: Caesar obtained empire by liberality, and many others have reached the highest positions by having been liberal, and by being considered so, I answer: Either you are a prince in fact, or in a way to become one. In the first case this liberality is dangerous, in the second it is very necessary to be considered liberal; and Caesar was one of those who wished to become pre-eminent in Rome; but if he had survived after becoming so, and had not moderated his expenses, he would have destroyed his government. And if any one should reply: Many have been princes, and have done great things with armies, who have been considered very liberal, I reply: Either a prince spends that which is his own or his subjects’ or else that of others. In the first case he ought to be sparing, in the second he ought not to neglect any opportunity for liberality. And to the prince who goes forth with his army, supporting it by pillage, sack, and extortion, handling that which belongs to others, this liberality is necessary, otherwise he would not be followed by soldiers. And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects’ you can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and Alexander; because it does not take away your reputation if you squander that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you.

And there is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated. And a prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised and hated; and liberality leads you to both. Therefore it is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.

open thread

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 17, 2016: Cute Baby Animal Videos

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some serious overload with trying to keep up with the latest political news, so I’m taking a break from it. No politics from me, just cute baby animals.

I think this beats the dramatic prairie dog hands down.

If only they stayed that small. And didn’t shit.

He was certainly getting into the groove of this haircut.

I know Jane would just love to be able to raise one of these cuties, and I’m sure I’d loved to be mauled by one.

That makes me feel better. I hope it makes you feel better, too.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss cute baby animals, politicians holding cute baby animals, world leaders taking their cute baby animals for a walk, or even cute baby animals seen at the ball games over the weekend.

The Watering Hole: Saturday, October 15th, 2016: KITTENS!

I was going to title this “ALL-PUSSY EDITION”, but it might have attracted the wrong crowd. Heh.

Wayne and I have just added two kittens, sisters, to our family. No names yet, but it’s only been about ten days since we got them, and I’m observing their behavior/personality traits for clues as they settle in. They made themselves at home within the first day or two, and while Wayne and I find them highly entertaining and completely adorable, the rest of our kids are not so amused. The older four, Missy, Buster, Fitzgerald and Cecilia, are happy to have the bonus of Kitten Chow (and even though I started out feeding the little ones separately, in the other side of the house, the others quickly sniffed it out anyway), but otherwise avoid them at all costs. Squiggy, on the other hand…

Squiggy's a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy’s a big (and heavy!) boy now.

Squiggy, about two years old now, is a big boy and loves to play, especially “fetch”. We’ve always had lots of toys around for him, often stockpiled for when he goes after a thrown toy but comes back empty-mouthed, yet still asking for another throw. With the exception of the occasional spontaneous outburst of play on the part of our older ‘girls’, Squiggy has had most of the toys pretty much to himself. He has his “favorite” toys, his “okay-I’ll-play-with this-one-until-you-find-me-one-of-my-favorites” toys, and the “I’m-just-gonna-let-that-one-go-by-while-looking-bored” toys. Whatever he thought of them before, the two invaders now consider all of the toys to be theirs. Not even Squiggy’s favorites have been spared, and, although he seems simply fascinated by their antics at times, and sometimes joins in when the two girls are running full-tilt through the house, he is all-too-often bemused, bothered, befuddled and bewildered. We’re trying to make sure that he and the others get their previously-normal share of attention and loving, but, as I said, the older ones currently prefer to steer clear. We’ll all adjust eventually, they just don’t know that yet.

No more prologue is necessary, so here they are:

It's tempting to name her

It’s tempting to name her “Blaze”.

Her blaze has stripes.

Her blaze has stripes.

I only got one picture of this little girl's face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

I only got one picture of this little girl’s face, unfortunately. And obviously, I had to clean up the background to make it presentable in public.

Here's a nice back view of the lighter one's markings.

Here’s a nice back view of the lighter one’s markings.

“She likes to wash.”
That’s Wayne’s hand, for the record.

And one last one – Sorry, but I couldn’t help making this shot into a political meme:nastyorangemanwearingroadkillgrabswha3

This is our daily Open Thread – don’t forget to sprinkle some compliments in amongst your comments!

Also, too, any and all suggestions for names will be welcome.