Feb 222010

To frame my thoughts about A Song for Martin, I painfully recall taking my 90-year-old college professor father to buy a pair of pants.  Dad did not believe he needed the pants, but he went along at my insistence.  He took the selection into the dressing room.  I stood at the door, waiting.  Dad emerged with pants in hand and took me to be a salesman.  He began to inform me that the store should be ashamed to charge so much for pants like these, and he was not about to buy them.  I remember his confusion, something like fright, when I said that I was his son, Edward, and not a salesman.  The pain and embarrassment of that moment was shared by us both. Continue reading »

Feb 142010

I’ve used GPS since the early days when they degraded the signals to keep non-military uses from being as accurate.  I’ve had several automobile units and my present unit is a Garmin Nuvi.  What I’d like to do in this article is provide non-users with a good idea of what this technology provides, and to give some useful tips to others based on my practical experience. Continue reading »

Feb 132010

Anyone who loves war and hates anti-war movies should avoid Joyeux Noel.  Although it is not anti-war overtly, but it undermines the “us good people against them bad people” premise of wars.  It tells the story of events that occurred in 1914 as German and Allied troups faced each other across their trenches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  These are sometimes called “The Christmas Truce of 1914.” Continue reading »

The Wariness of Crows

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Feb 112010

We feed the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other visiting animals such as foxes and possums and raccoons on occasion.  We try to provide special nourishment during snows and blizzards, such as we have been having lately.  Our usual birds are the doves, blue jays, various woodpeckers, cardinals, sparrows, finches, grackles, and others.  But for the last few days we have had gangs of crows, sometimes numbering in the dozens.  They sit in the distant trees and swoop in when the coast is clear.  They are beautifully black against the white snow.  When Dylan Thomas described night time in his mythical town of Milkwood as “crow-black,” he was using an apt image. Continue reading »

Feb 102010

This is not a cry for help, but we are having a lot of winter this winter in the Washington D.C. and Mid-Atlantic region.  Up to 250,000 homes have been without power, including my home and neighborhood.  A man who works with me has been out of power for nearly a week.  We are breaking the all-time snowfall record of 54 inches for one winter.  The air is white with it just now and blizzard-force winds are blowing it sideways.  We have the heat turned up and the candles and flashlights laid out and ready.  There have been discussions about portable generators and other preparations. Continue reading »

Feb 012010

Lance Armstrong bristled.  He bristled when someone implied that it’s easy for him climb steep mountains on a bicycle.  And not just climbing, but climbing fast.  Did they believe him when he told about his legs burning and his lungs bursting?  He said what about it?  It doesn’t get any easier, it just gets faster. Continue reading »