Sunday, April 30, 2006


It's 7:00 a.m. and raining, Patrick went outside then crawled under the covers with Junior, after I towled his butt off, and Stephen is asleep downstairs.

Took Patrick to a geocaching picnic yesterday and ended up leaving him in the truck,because he couldn't behave himself, barking at loose big dogs, and getting hostile with one. I've never seen the hair stand up on his little dog neck before, but it did, as well as a ridge standing straight up along his backbone--cool!

Insisting on adherance to the rules set down by on my caches has brought nothing but enmity to me, so I have decided not to be such a hard ass. This group that has been so nasty to me has proven this to me, and I am going to let people slide from now on. It is just for FUN, after all. It's just a GAME. Let people play the way they want. It's not like there was something at stake, like a championsip, or a prize. And perhaps I have been too stern. .. No, I am not going to elaborate. 'Nuff said. Live and learn.


Saturday, April 29, 2006


It's 5:37 a.m. and Patrick has leaped into bed with Junior to begin his second slumber shift, and Stephen has fallen asleep downstairs on a couch.

All arrest warrants have been recinded. Everybody's now ROOR.

Ain't Life Grand?

Friday, April 28, 2006




It's 5:19 a.m. and Junior is in bed and Stephen is asleep on a couch downstairs and Earthdog Patrick is outside.

My only recourse is to accept the socialism of the Republicans over the Communism of the democrats. A person who believes in capitalism and constitutional republicanism has no party to go to. Libertarians? They're not serious about actually wanting CONTROL or they would find a way to ethically abandon there love of heroin and cocaine. So there's really no home for Christian Conservatives, let alone extreme right wingers.

What triggered this rant? This whole knee-jerk reaction by both parties in congress to the recent leap in gasoline prices. The Republicans want to give everbody a check for a hundred dollars (A blatent VOTER BRIBE--I'm ASHAMED of them.) and the dems want to have a gas tax moratorium for a few months. The dem plan is better--it targets the consumers-- and would reduce the gas price at the pump from three dollars to about two dollars forty cents.

This may be the only time in the last ten years that I've favored a democrat idea over a Republican one. This time the Republicans have the screwy ridiculous idea.

The whole thing just confirms what whores we have in congress--dishonorable morons.

On a lighter note, the weather has been gorgeous lately--warm sunny days, blue skies, cool nights. Time to plant the garden in a few days. We've got an absolutley beautiful crop of dandelions on the lawn. The wild asparagus patch has been somewhat dissapointing so far, tho.

Brussle sprouts! brussel sprouts! Oh how I love to eat Brusell sprouts!

Since Roe, the death count of murdered babies is approximately:

43,000,000 babies murdered by their mothers!

How will this "civilization" ever atone for that?

spurriermust be stopped!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I guess we're a little late in learning that Kellie Pickler was voted off American Idol. It happened a little earlier than we figured. It DOES prove the show is rigged however. People have their favorites. How can a person go from NOT being in the bottom three, to getting kicked off the very next week? No, we're not buying it. I'd like to see the numbers. This is bogus. She was the darling of the show--she must have done something stupid to get the producers REALLY pissed off. THEY kicked her out. AND I THINK THEY DID IT OUT OF SOME SORT OF SPITE, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE SHOW'S RATINGS. Her southern "Ah don't know nuthin' bout nothin' " act WAS wearing a little thin, tho. "Tellyfone? what's that? back home we jus' hollah at each other." It was getting annoying. I know the show is fiction and all, but to give it the appearance that the "voting" by the public is actually tabulated and acted on, is duplicitous. Sorry, that's just the way it is.



I guess we're a little late in learning that Kellie Pickler was voted off American Idol. It happened a little earlier than we figured. It DOES prove the show is rigged however. People have their favorites. How can a person go from NOT being in the bottom three, to getting kicked off the very next week? No, we're not buying it. I'd like to see the numbers. This is bogus. She was the darling of the show--she must have done something stupid to get the producers REALLY pissed off. THEY kicked her out. AND I THINK THEY DID IT OUT OF SOME SORT OF SPITE, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE SHOW'S RATINGS. Her southern "Ah don't know nuthin' bout nothin' " act WAS wearing a little thin, tho. "Tellyfone? what's that? back home we jus' hollah at each other." It was getting annoying. I know the show is fiction and all, but to give it the appearance that the "voting" by the public is actually tabulated and acted on, is duplicitous. Sorry, that's just the way it is.



It's 7:02 a.m. and the sun just came up and Patrick switched beds as soon as I got up. Junior is asleep--he is trying to adjust his sleeping pattern so as to be awake during daylight for summer activities.

Well LOST screwed me--all primed for a new episode, all I got was a recap show. But that's OK--It's hard to remember all the various sub-plots and where we're at--especially when I missed the episode when they captured Henry because our local network "affiliate" and I use the term loosely, decided to pre-empt it and air some junior high school chess tournament or something equally stupid.

Aldi, our local help yourself from the box discount grocery store closes this week, so they can pull a Wal*Mart--tear down the building and build a new one. So now I'll be paying 50% to 150% more for the EXACT same food for the next four months. I've stocked up as much as practical.

One of the things I like about Aldi's is that the check out gals are super fast. It's part of Aldi's mission, I guess. They do the EXACT same thing as the checkers at the other full service chains, so I don't know why the full service store gals have to be so SLOOOOOWWWWW. A four minute linewait at Aldi's would literally be 15 minutes at Kroger's...(no exageration).

While we're on the subject of retail--Both our local Wal*Marts stopped stocking the big dogs' Garlic pills--so I stopped at our local pet store --NOTHING!! Not even dog vitamins!! There's a mom and pop I think should be killed by Wal*Mart... Guess I'll have to go to the dog supermarket in the BIG BIG city...Rats!!

Speaking of the Big dogs, Nick has turned 13, but he's still pretty spry, so I'm going to take him on a road trip for his birthday. So, he's 72 in dog years.

The damned grass is growing exponentially and needs trimming again--how can I afford gas to mow? Woe is me!!







Wednesday, April 26, 2006


It's 8:28 a.m. and COLD. Patrick got up and crawled into bed with Junior, who woke up at Patrick's attempts to burrow under the covers, said Hi, took his tennis shoes off, turned over, held the blankets up for doggy and went back to sleep....

Last night's American Idol TV show was weird. Paula acted like she was really strung out on her painkillers, a sloppy drunk. Randy and Simon acted like they wished it would get over, so they could get to a Lakers Game or something.

While I generally sort of agree with the judges, last night they were WAY off. I'm wondering if the producers didn't get them together and tell them, "Look, this thing is not going the way we'd like--the ending is not going to be dramatic. Kat is a runaway favorite in the voting and poor littleParis is in the bottom three. Here's wht we want you to do..."

Kat was first up and was MAGNIFICENT, the crowd went nuts, and the judges dissed her as if she'd shit on the stage. Simon seemed miffed that she had the unmitigated GALL to sing a Whitney Houston song. "you're not as good as Whitney Houston..." he said. (Well, he's right there.)

As if that wasn't Brutal enuff, they really tore poor Kellie a new asshole--Simon said she was monotonoous and Bland.I don't know how she could stand there and take it--It was almost venemous--has she done something off camera to piss them off?

This was after all three postively GUSHED over Elliot's miserable performance. Simon called him "Superb" if that gives you an Idea. Paula, drunk as hell, actually WEEPED and declared "You ARE an American Idol!" Is she sleeping with this lounge lizard or what?

They gave Paris OK marks, and she did do well.

Taylor gave one of his worst performances in the competiton and they all noted that.

Then comes Chris, on whom they lavished all kinds of praise to for his absolutely HORRIBLE singing.

So I guess they are trying to change the dynamics somehow. It was obvious to me that they had all decided among themselves to diss Kat no matter WHAT she did. Interesting to note that there was little argument among them, either. We know it's probably rigged to a certain extent, but last night the Judges' performance outed them as lackys.

Hope nobody pays any attention to them. jerks.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


It's 6:08 a.m. and Patrick got up with me and promptly crawled in bed with Junior (God forbid he miss his two-shift nap). Stephen is asleep on a couch downstairs.

Blogger wouldn't let me post yesterday so I saved it and had to publish it this morning. But it was really fast, so maybe they were down for a pit stop for new tires.

Some dumb slob on TV has just stated , in response to Bush's apparent drop in the popularity polls, that Bush's loyalty is to corporate America, like that's a bad thing. Duh, people, it's corporate America that has made this country the richest on earth (not counting the little oil Kingdoms). Democracy doesn't work in a large population of mindless greedy morons, led by immoral devil-possessed traitors... I just made that up, you like it? I don't either. Oh, well.

Spring Practice is going well for Gators, and Tim Tebow is shining. Leak better step up to his potential or he'll find himself in a place he doesn't want to be. The first time, he falters and Meyer puts in Tebow, and he scores and scores and saves the game, it's bye bye Leaky. Don't develop an attitude, laddie.



It's 6:09 a.m. and Junior and Patrick are in bed.

The sun is just beginning to foreshadow it's arrival with a slight orange haze reaching up about ten degrees over the horizon. The moon is in the east also, a very bright waning crescent sliver, the morning star behind her. Legal Twilight is dawning. My coffee/green tea is hot and steamy. It's getting lighter now, and the sky is a pale blue, with just a few dark clouds.

OK, it's 6:20 a.m. est, civil twilght--thirty minutes till sun-up. The moon and mOrning star are losing their luster. 13% of the moon is illuminated.

My dear wife is lying next to me snoring gently. Oh, no that's the DOG snoring gently. My wife broke her marriage vows and abandoned me AND the dog, and lied her greedy arse off in open court to get more of my money.

Anyway, it grows lighter by the moment. All good vampires should be snuggled deep inside their coffins for the night. The other creatures of the night are bedding down also. The birds are beginning their first morning peeps.

It's light enuff to read outside now and a little nippy, about forty five degrees. The birds are in full force now, putting up their usual morning racket. Still, it seems sun-up is fifteen minutes away.

Venus is barely visble now, and the moon is dull. The dark cluds are turning to
crimson as the sun struggles to emerge.

Now all the clouds in the sky, even in the west are tinged with a very pale
pink. One half of our resident nesting pair of sparrow hawks swoops across the yard, doing his morning scree-scree! A crow caws in the clear morning air from miles away.

The morning dew starts to turn to ground fog in the distance across the cornfields. Venus has pulled a blanket of clouds over herself and the moon is barely visible. The pink is giving way to brightness. Any minute now the life giver of the solar system will emerge.

Ah, here she comes, first a glimpse of orange, then slowly rising, a flaming ball of bright orange, big and round, Oh, too bright to look at for more than an instant. UP, UP. Takes about a minute and a half to fully emerge, still orange and round, but now too bright to look at, and slowly changing to it's normal high altitude

All in all, not a spectacular sunrise, but not too shabby...

And so another day on this green and white and blue planet that we have grown accustomed to calling home, begins. Day 21,233 begins on the third rock from that sun.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


It's 5:57 a.m. and Earthdog Patrick is in bed with Junior and Stephen is asleep downstairs on a couch in the Living room.

Went up to Pokagon State Park for a NEI-GEO CITO picnic yesterday with Junior and Patrick. Went i Junior's marginally streetabale land rocket, so stinky-dog had to sit in my lap the whole way, a real treat for me, as when he's in the car he lets me pet him and kiss him without biting me.. 1Markymark1 gave me a beautiful version of his geocoin in COPPER. Junior got heartburn, but I ate some really wonderful meatballs, and scrumptious white chocolate chip cookies. We found three park caches before lunch.

They wanted us to kill mustard garlic or garlic mustard, which the dnr interpreter said was like northern Kudzu. I guess he's never seen Kudzu or he wouldn't have said THAT... He got mad at my comments about equality for plants and herbicide without due process of the law...It's that type of stupid crap that gets me so hated.

That's what they get for allowing anarchists to run around unsupervised. Must be the Roosian in me.

Image is Junior and the Earthdog at the Artesian Well in Park.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


It's 6:22 a.m. and Patrick has crawled into bed with Junior and Stephen is asleep on a couch downstairs.

We are planning on going Pokagon today.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Ok , baaack on the 21st century machine with highspeed connection. A tad foggy out this morning!


Random pics uploaded by pic file name from this old computer....

The lne right above is an ultralite photo of the dogyard...


Irt's 4:57 a.m and Junior is on the wireless hook-up so I'm here on dial -up and Patrick is with him since I kicked him out of bed for being grumpy.Why doesn't the carriage return work here? OLd pic from Pyle Industries resident on this computer.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


It's 5:18 a.m., dark and Junior is off at Friends' and Patrick is still in bed.

The string on my teabag came off, so the bag is free-floating in my morning cup of Green Tea Coffee. I wonder if Starbucks has anything like that?

Speaking of strings, did you know that the only word in the English language that has a string of six consonants in a row is 'LATCHSTRING'--but maybe you have to live in a log house to know what that is...

Speaking of Log houses, do you know the difference between a log house and a log cabin? A cabin has the logs in their original round state, a house has its logs squared off with a draw knife.

Speaking of drawknives, I have one that I got at auction for a few bucks. The Eirie Department Store had them for thirty bucks. They tore the Erie down, but it was an old wooden floored (patched with tin can metal over the knot holes) hardware store in town. You could find stuff there you couldn't find anywhere else-- old timey stuff like drawknives--they even had the hinges for shutters--now that's OLD!

Speaking of shutters, actually they're not. The shutters with louvers are more correctly called Blinds. Shutters were solid wood.

Speaking of shutters, I constructed a crude pair for one of the garage windows. But I used regular hinges, that I dug up in the yard with the metal detector.

Speaking of windows and doors, Junior brought home a new entry lockset and deadbolt for the front door. It had a price tag of 130 bucks but it was marked down to forty! It's a direct replacement for what we have now that is broken, has a handle on the outside, not a knob, with a thumb push down deal--that's the part that broke. So for a few days now we've had to lock the door to keep it shut while we're out in the yard, sort of a hassel, and you don't want cats and flies wandering into the house, anyway today we'll install it.

Ho hum, that ought to take care of today's Random thoughts! As always:



Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Thought we'd post a pic or two of Pickler, who we picked when we first saw her at the Carolina auditions for Idol. Since she has let us down, and we'll probably be broken up too much when she gets the boot, here is our photo tribute. "I butchered it!" Kellie, you're too dumb to win--never admit something like that to Simon. So, we stuck with you as long as we could, kiddo--now we're on Kat's Team. Hope to see you in the movies, tho! You'd makae a good Reese, but without the witches chin.



It's 5:45 a.m. and Junior's in bed, and Patrick crawled in with him, and Stephen's downstairs asleep on a couch.

so, what?

Well , all seven Idol contestants did GREAT last night, with the possible exception of our favorite, Kellie, who was just so-so. The judges were gushing about everybody's performance, except hers.

Paris, tho, was a standout.

And then came KAT. She was absolutely fantastic!

Simon said she made the others look like good amateurs--that she was in a different league--and this on a night when the judges liked all the performances.

And he's right. Last night may have been the defining night of the competition. It's down to seven decent singers now, and you can't afford even one little slip up.

And that's what our darling Kellie did. She blinked.

So now KAT has emerged as the clear favorite talent-wise, and our favorite now too. Kellie has disapointed just one too many times with less than steller performances.

Katharine, it's now yours to lose! Congratulations!

Local sherrif's spokesman on TV:

"Once the body is identified, th
en we'll be able to tell you whose body it is."

Uh, OK, thanks for clearing that up...


Tuesday, April 18, 2006









And that's our tour of the early bloomers at the dogyard!



It's 7:49 a.m. and Junior is at a rare first shift at work and Patrick is here with me sound asleep.

Went to Superior Court yesterday, with junior and Stephen, but that is another story.

Excerpt from my part of an e-mail exchange this morning:

Speaking of asparugus, some of mine has popped up, and so today I start harvesting. Fresh food is the best. No fertilizer, no pesticides, no herbicides, no preservatives, no flavor enchancers,no artificial flavors,no nothing--just tips and butter and garlic.

One of My most memorable non restaurant meals, was when I was a kid maybe 10 or eleven years old or maybe older. I had a little pram like sailboat I used to sail around Clearwater Bay.

The intercoastal waterway went thru the bay and there were a series of spoil banks along it, the result of maintenance dredging. They eventually aquired vegetation and became proper little islets.

One night, while camping on this island with a chum, I caught a little pin fish, and fried him up in my skillet. Time from Gulf to Mouth was mere minutes--Now that's FRESH FISH. And that's when I learned that the flavour the of sea food is directly proportional to how long it's been dead. We had built our fire on that island of driftwood, on the little beach, and as the sun set , watched the tide gently lap up and extinguish it. Would be a much better story if I was 18 with a girl in a bikini-but hey.

So, I have eaten much seafood shortly after I caught it, but that little pin fish was still the best tasting piece of fish I ever ate!

And of course, if you don't catch anything, there are other alternatives to keep from going hungry.

While a college student in Jacksonville, fishing with friends in brackish water on a wide bank of the St. John's River, (The only principle navagable waterway in the world that flows north besides the Nile, and the river made famous because the Creature from the Black Lagoon escaped into it, and at one time one of the most poluted Rivers in America with 21 communicable diseases in it) we caught nothing edible. So we were fishing with live shrimp and guess what? Roasted on palmetto sticks over a beach fire they tasted just fine!!

Now barbequed River Otter cooked on a spit over an open fire is another story--tastes like fishy chicken...


Monday, April 17, 2006


It's 7:38 a.m. and Patrick got up with me and promptly went back to bed with Junior. Wouldn't want to miss his 20 hours of sleep a day.

Ground is saturated from two days of thunderstorms. Grass gettiing waist high, too wet to mow. Lots of ponds in the fields.

I'm getting pretty tired of these stupid generals dissing Rumsfeld.Since the Drive-by media won't do it, I guess I'll have to check the blogosphere to see a profile of these jerks.

More later.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


It's 6:06 a.m. and Patrick and Junior and Stephen are eating pizza and watching Will Farrell on a SNL dvd downstairs.

Random thoughts this morning

Last night we had some big thunderstorms/ tornado watch coming thru here and at one point the guy on the TV said those of you in the Roann/Bippus area take cover NOW.

We didn't. but Patrick and I did bounce around on the bed playing "Duck and Cover"--I don't want any roof debris falling on my little doggie, so I have to shelter him with my body--of course, there's a lot of growling and biting and wrestling involved in that. And Patrick growls, too.

At one point, I heard a loud banging sound, that sounded alot like the landing gear of an alien spacaecraft on the roof. Then I heard it again.Oh no, I thought, I don't want to deal with those little bastards tonite. But no,then I recognized the sound, it was the sound the sump pump in the basement makes when it cuts off after a cycle. So I guess it was getting a little damp down there. Don't hear that sound very often.

Will Farrell is a comic genius.

Why does ugly Jennifer Aniston get all this publicity. Rebecca Gayheart is much sexier and SHE can ACT, somewhat.

How come all my life the last syllable in the word Iriquois was pronounced "koy" and now it's pronounced "quah". Who makes this shit up? Effete snobs in colleges, I suppose, certainly not the stone age savages' decendents.

It is sheer lunacy to allow all these South Americans into the country unfettered.

It's time to stop the Baby Killing.

Who are these bastard retired Generals whining about Rumsfeld? On TV, they looked pretty young to be retired. Are they pissed because somebody told them to take a hike? Usually Generals hang around as long as they can, it's a pretty cool berth--lots of people treating you like a King.

It's time to STOP the baby killing.

Added Grey Eagle's blog to the links at the right.

It's Joanna Garcia from Reba.


Friday, April 14, 2006


It's 9:10 a.m., nothing to say, just checking in. It's already almost seventy out. Patrick and Junior are in bed. Over and Out.

Later. OK so I went out to check on the yard, and pick up some more of the winter lumber in prep for mowing. It'll just be a few days now. The dandelions are blooming ( but then again, they bloom all year round), the Peach trees are blooming, the shrimp plant is blooming. The grass is growing furiously.

I will have to get three-buck a gallon gas tommorrow and start mowing.

I put the lawn chairs out in the front. I sat down with Patrick and read awhile, and let the first sun rays of the season hit me.

OK, so now I'm back inside and it's getting really dark outside, gonna rain, better do the dogs right quick. So I go out and feed the little devils and guess what? I'm rushing trying to beat the rain and I time it just right! Yup, just as I'm finishing up, the downpour comes, drenching me pretty fair, seconds before I make the porch!

It could have been worse--now it's hail- luckily smaller than marbles but bigger than peas--I hate the sound it makes hitting the window glass. The Rain didn't last long but it dumped an inch at least--now the grass will REALLY grow. This is that three week time of year just starting, where, when you finish mowing, the part you started at needs mowing again. Tuff to keep up. Are we equal to the task? And you ask why I don't fertilize the yard...

I am going to use some of this new growth sod, tho ,to fill in around where we put in the new hydrant last fall, tho.

Pic is the DAR plaque on the monument of a Revolutionary War Veteran we found in a cemetery yesterday.



Thursday, April 13, 2006


It is 6:00 p.m and Junior is at work and Patrick is here with me.
Random Thoughts
Patrick and I got up early this morning and followed the setting full moon west to be FTF on puzzle geocache in Peru. Junior solved it for us last night with a little guidance from Kelly via e-mail. A simple substitution, really. Tonite, after two days of 70's temps, the flies have come out, so Spring is done and it's summer. Caught one of the boogers on one of the dogs ears, so the annual battle has begun. These blood thirsty bastards can chew the tips of a dog's ears raw in 24 hours, so full scale war starts tommorrow morning. Dogs drank a lot more water too, so they're feeling the heat. Baloney tongues hanging out and all

The pear tree is in bloom! Hope we get a better yield this year than last. Still don't know who got kicked off IDol last night, and don't really care as long as it wasn't Kellie or Kat.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


It's 7:24 a.m. and Patrick and Junior are in bed.

As usual, Kellie and Katharine blew away the competition on American Idol last night. In our humble opinion.

Haven't anything to say today, maybe later.

Pic is S. keillan and me in Chicago at BoB #01 geocache.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


It's 6:53 a.m and a beautiful red sunrise out the window. Junior just went to bed and the Earthdog burrowed under the covers with him.

The house interior decoration is slowly changing from Victorian/Antique to Early Salvation Army, ever since my ex-wife took a hike, because, I guess, a mid-life crisis. She didn't like me, my son, her job, the house, her dog (Patrick), Got mad when I took away her allowance due to my losing my job, hated this part of the state and so abandoned us to fend for ourselves, then to add insult to injury by lying her rotten ass off in court to double her greedy divorce settlement in an appeal, then sent her relatives to burgle my house of some of my family heirlooms.

So now after ten years of wedded bliss, I have to LOCK the doors, and maybe this is paranoid, but LOCK the truck up when Patrick is left in it, for fear she'll steal him and have him put down, which she threatened to do in the past. She has since had at least one dog that she got rid of.

I believe that when you promise a person to stay with them forever, before God, you should do it. I believe if you take on an animal, it's for Life, not Your convenience.

Anyway, so I have no problems with the look of the inside of the house, I admit she did a good job, but it is slowly changing to reflect the lifestyle of two alpha male bachelors. I just completed a little shrine to the University of Florida Gators in the Bathroom, complete with Orange and Blue towels, Poster of Albert, and other memorabilia on a shelf. Tacky, but it has meaning to me. The frillyness is slowly going bye-bye.

You don't realize how much you sacrifice for another person and how much freedom you gave up, until they're gone. And then you realize how much you gave and they took. Oh, well. Funny how people can change, and not for the better... Or was the latent evil just lying dormant? Hah! Who cares! Water over the dam!. Life Goes On!! Charge!

Have a nice day :)


Monday, April 10, 2006


It's 7:55 a.m. and Stephen and Junior are downstairs watching DVD's with Patrick under the covers somewhere, and the smell of pizza fills the air. The birdies are pairing off and sitting in the branches of the trees. They are visiting the window feeder in hopes of being First To Find of the season's birdseed. More buds opening on the trees, grass busily growing, ah the agony of it all!
Got cache #600 Saturday on the beach of Lake Michigan.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


It's 5:00 p.m., Patrick is outside, Junior is on his computer in his room, I'm here on my dial up machine. Wireless internet was down all day for me, but it works for Junior...??Carriage return doesn't work here--weird. Got 103 caches yesterday in Chicago, 18 hours door to door so I'm a little worn out. Yikes. -TR-

Friday, April 07, 2006


The Swift Vets Forums have some really good stuff this morning:

Written by Isaac Asimov
Friday, 31 March 2006

[One year before his passing, in 1991, famed science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote the following essay on America's national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Thanks to TTP members Bill and Carole Gregory who brought it to our attention, we can share it with you. It seems particularly apt, given our country's many current travails. ---JW]

I have a weakness -- I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.

The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time. I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem -- all four stanzas.

This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said. "That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."

I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.

Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem.

More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.

So now let me tell you how it came to be written.

In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country.

Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.

At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession. Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack.

The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York.

If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.

The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.

On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.

As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.

As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"

After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" --a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range.

For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of the United States.

Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key:

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

"The towering steep" is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.

In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise. During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung.

However, I know it, so here it is:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears.

And don't let them ever take it away.

--Isaac Asimov, March 1991

from the swift vets/pow forums...

New postPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:03 am Post subject: I'm Tired Reply with quote

Two weeks ago, as I was starting my sixth month of duty in Iraq, I was forced to return to the USA for surgery for an injury I sustained prior to my deployment. With luck, I'll return to Iraq to finish my tour.

I left Baghdad and a war that has every indication that we are winning, to return to a demoralized country much like the one I returned to in 1971 after my tour in Vietnam Maybe it's because I'll turn 60 years old in just four months, but I'm tired:

I'm tired of spineless politicians, both Democrat and Republican who lack the courage, fortitude, and character to see these difficult tasks through.

I'm tired of the hypocrisy of politicians who want to rewrite history when the going gets tough.

I'm tired of the disingenuous clamor from those that claim they 'Support the Troops' by wanting them to 'Cut and Run' before victory is achieved.

I'm tired of a mainstream media that can only focus on car bombs and casualty reports because they are too afraid to leave the safety of their hotels to report on the courage and success our brave men and women are having on the battlefield.

I'm tired that so many Americans think you can rebuild a dictatorship into a democracy over night.

I'm tired that so many ignore the bravery of the Iraqi people to go to the voting booth and freely elect a Constitution and soon a permanent Parliament.

I'm tired of the so called 'Elite Left' that prolongs this war by giving aid and comfort to our enemy, just as they did during the Vietnam War.

I'm tired of antiwar protesters showing up at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. A family who's loved ones gave their life in a just and noble cause, only to be cruelly tormented on the funeral day by cowardly protesters is beyond shameful.

I'm tired that my generation, the Baby Boom - Vietnam generation, who have such a weak backbone that they can't stomach seeing the difficult tasks through to victory.

I'm tired that some are more concerned about the treatment of captives than they are the slaughter and beheading of our citizens and allies.

I'm tired that when we find mass graves it is seldom reported by the press, but mistreat a prisoner and it is front page news.

Mostly, I'm tired that the people of this great nation didn't learn from history that there is no substitute for Victory.

Sincerely, Joe Repya, Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Army, 101st Airborne

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