The Daily Dose – August 27, 2016

Notes from around the Human Experience…

DID WE CALL IT OR…WELL, ACTUALLY WE DIDN’T CALL IT: Saturday night’s boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor actually lasted longer than a lot of people – including the wizards here at your Daily Dose – thought it would go, with Mayweather stopping McGregor by TKO in the tenth round.

CYA! CYA! Regular readers of this crap might recall we had our bases nicely covered, having bravely offering scenarios showing neither fighter getting out of the second round. Mayweather was too old. McGregor was too inexperienced. Good thing we didn’t offer betting advice.

The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Old Style Beer: Mayweather, now 50-0, got lucky. His put his undefeated record, not to mention his legacy, on the line for one final payday and got away with it. There was no guarantee he would. He can now retire as one of the very best there was at what he did, boxing and making piles of cash.

Once McGregor made it out of the early rounds, everything else was gravy. Nobody knows what he felt inside once the brash exterior was brushed away, but he has every right to feel that 10 rounds with Mayweather, even though he lost, wasn’t too far removed from victory. McGregor did well early, too, before Mayweather restored some order in the later rounds and McGregor tired.

Dry, Technical Matter: We were hoping for a complete mismatch so we could jump on our high horse and say what suckers everyone was for buying into this fiasco, but we were wrong. Make no mistake, this bout was not sanctioned by any of the 83 international boxing governing bodies and was nothing more than a spectacle, about as athletically relevant as a regular season NBA game. Its sole purpose was to make rich people even richer, but the sporting public, more or less, got their money’s worth this time.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Rome falls to a foreign enemy of the first time since the 4th century BC on this date in 410, when the Visigoths complete their invasion and sacking of the city after three days.

While there wasn’t a wholesale slaughter of the natives as was common back then, many Romans were made refugees, taken prisoner or sold into slavery and, of course, the entire city was relieved of their valuables. Though Rome would continue for a few more decades, this invasion was a major reason Rome would fall before the century was out. 

FunFact: It was the first time Rome had fallen since 390 or 387 BC, depending on whose accounts and dating system you want to believe, when they were invaded by the Gauls. 

USA! USA!: The Black Hawk War ends on this date in 1832 when Sauk leader Black Hawk surrenders to the US Army.

The war had begun in April when Black Hawk led a group of Indians from Iowa, which was then Indian territory, into Illinois. No one is entirely sure why Black Hawk entered Illinois, though it was possible he was trying to reclaim land ceded to the United States in 1804. It wasn’t the first time Black Hawk had done battle with the US, having fought for the British in the War of 1812.

Oh Yeah: After his surrender, Black Hawk, along with some other Indians, were taken on a tour of eastern cities. After the tour, Black Hawk settled in what is now southeastern Iowa, where he died in 1838.

Those Zany Canadians: Five women from Alberta – known in Canada as the Famous Five – ask the Supreme Court of Canada to decide whether women are persons on this date in 1927. The question stemmed from Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867 which states, in part:

The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen’s Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate…

The Famous Five wanted to know if Persons included women.

Not The Opinion They Were Looking For: Turns out it didn’t. The Court heard arguments the following March and ruled in April, 1928 that:

Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada,’ the question is answered in the negative.”

“The Exclusion Of Women From All Public Offices Is A Relic Of Days More Barbarous Than Ours…”: The opinion would later be overturned on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a quaint, British institution that at the time was the final court of appeal Commonwealth nations, and still is for some.

Really Dry Technical Matter: This was not a court case the Supreme Court was ruling on, it was what is known up north as a reference case, which is a request for an advisory opinion from the court.

Great Moments In Being Close To Mars And Stuff: Mars and Earth are a mere 34.646 million miles apart on this date in 2003, the closest they’ve been in 60,000 years. It will be the closest the two planets will get until August, 2287 when they will be 34.603 million miles away.

FunFact: When both planets are on opposite sides of Mr Sun, Earth and Mars can be as many 249 million miles apart.

Quotebook: There must have been something more those men struggled for…something that held out great promise to all the people of the world for all time to come. – Abraham Lincoln, speech to New Jersey legislature, February 1861

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The last time prior to 1978 the Catholic Church had three popes was 1605: Clement VIII, Leo XI and Paul V.

Today’s Stumper: Three future presidents fought in the Black Hawk War. Name them. – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Moussa

Some people have long lives, some people have short lives. – Moussa

Moussa is a friend of ours. Originally we presumed he was from Senegal, but we recently found out he hails from the Ivory Coast. He is working hard for his US citizenship examination and probably knows more about checks and balances and separation of power than most citizens. He is rather thoughtful and has been quoted here before.

Today’s Thought came about after Moussa shared the news with me – news as heartbreaking as it is tragic – that his son had died shortly after his birth in the Ivory Coast. Moussa said family had called him Friday morning our time with the news. We presume his wife survived the ordeal, though Moussa didn’t say and we were too thoughtless to ask.

I offered every sympathy and condolence, of course, and Moussa shrugged what has to be life’s greatest tragedy off as he would have the bus being late or something being out of stock at the store, noting that these things happen in a life, what are you going to do?

Some people have long lives, some people have short lives.

A lot of our existence is random. Some are born to be monarchs, some die a few minutes after they’re born. Some are born in a country with a stable government and some are born into chaos. Some are born healthy and some are born frail. Having little or no control over some aspects of our existence is the way the world is built.

And, of course, our time on this planet is finite. It is of indeterminate length and unless the governor has set an execution date, we have some zero clue when it will end.

But there are things we do have control over. For example, all of us can put the 24 hours each of us has every day to good use. We better, because there will come a time – probably when it’s our turn to die – when each of us will be obliged to reflect on our lives. We will have to examine ourselves and determine if we did well or if we squandered our time here.

The best lives are lived by those who are determined to do well. It doesn’t matter what you do, either, as long as it comes from the heart, as long as you live the life you were meant to live every day. Our time on this planet could end tomorrow and it is incumbent on all of us to make our time serve us.

If you are looking back on regrets and what ifs now, don’t worry about it. We can’t let our pasts handcuff our futures but we can start living the life we were meant to live right now. Even the smallest steps in that direction will produce a dividend of confidence and self-esteem, the foundation for future successes.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 26, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

AT LEAST WE’RE CONSISTENT: The cacophony over Robert E Lee statues – some of which are being covered up or taken down – is as illuminating as it is disheartening. It shows our racial divide is as wide as ever and national discourse – never our strong suit, going back to the founding of this republic – is as chaotic and disjointed as ever.  

Fly In The Ointment: This got us thinking. We start taking down monuments to Confederate slave owners, what do we do about American slave owners? Where does it stop? Should Charlottesville, Virginia – which has covered up a Lee statue – take down their Thomas Jefferson statues, too?

A Valid Question: Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States has a lot to answer for because though he wrote the words “All men are created equal” he did nothing to end slavery either on his plantation or in his country.

You can say this and you can say that, but it is difficult to argue with the last part of that sentence:

…he did nothing to end slavery either on his plantation or in his country.

But not only are there statues of him, one of three main monuments in our nation’s capital is dedicated to him and he is one of four presidents memorialized on Mount Rushmore. 

Dry, Technical Matter: Their slaves notwithstanding, both men served their country well. Jefferson, of course, attended our nation’s birth and later served as secretary of state, vice president and president. Lee served America honorably and well, too, before deciding his allegiance was with his home state of Virginia. He served the Confederacy honorably and well, too, if not particularly brilliantly as he had a tendency towards high casualty encounters when he had few men to spare.

The Bottom Line: Let’s leave all the statues up. If someplace has a statue or a monument to someone that offends you, don’t go there. The disgraces and inequalities of the past – and of the present, for that matter – are acknowledged. Lee and Jefferson, and others were men, not images on stained glass windows; they were as flawed as we are.

Some Philosophy Crap: This nation has done enough bickering on this matter and by continuing to do so we are allowing our past to define and control us. This is paralyzing our tomorrows.   

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Michelangelo receives a commission from a French cardinal to carve what would become The Pieta on this date in 1498. Michelangelo, then in his early 20’s, would finish the work in less than two years. The Pieta shows a dead Jesus Christ laying on Mary’s lap and is currently housed in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. 

Oh Yeah: It remains the only work Michelangelo ever signed. It’s been said that shortly after the work was put on public display, Michelangelo overheard someone say it had been done by someone else, so Michelangelo put his name on Mary’s sash to remove all doubt, a move he later regretted.

Hey Batter, Batter: Owen Wilson of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits three triples in a doubleheader against the Boston Braves, giving him 32 for the season, a new major league record. Wilson would finish the year with 36 triples, a record that still stands.

Yeah, This Is Interesting: While we haven’t put this mark on our personal list of records that will never be broken, it has yet to be seriously threatened. The most triples anyone has hit in a season since 1950 is 23, done by Curtis Granderson, then of the Detroit Tigers, in 2007.

Go In Peace, Serve The Lord: John Paul I is elected pope on this date in 1978, replacing Pope Paul VI. John Paul would die 33 days later, the tenth shortest papacy ever. The College of Cardinals would then report back to Rome for duty and elect John Paul II pope in October.

Welcome Back: Kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard, who had been kidnapped in June 1991 while walking to a school bus stop, is found on this date in 2009.

Criminals Are Stupid: One of Dugard’s kidnappers had shown up on the campus of UC Berkeley two days earlier with the two daughters Dugard had borne him looking for a permit to distribute religious fliers. Two female campus police officers were immediately suspicious and asked Phillip Garrido to report to his parole officer the following day. Garrido complied, showing up with the girls and Dugard, whom he identified as his wife. Everyone was separated and after no small amount of questioning, Garrido confessed to kidnapping Dugard.

Oh Yeah: Garrido is serving a prison term of 431 years and his wife Nancy was sentenced to 36-years to life. Dugard’s whereabouts are unknown.

Quotebook: Lost in the cacophony of Oprah and O.J. are those classical values that once made a Saturday afternoon track meet so appealing. Of running for the love of competition, of throwing a javelin for applause and an olive wreath. Of sweating for hours on a lonesome track at dusk for the chance of maybe one day hearing the anthem. Of honor and glory and the spirit of victory, not the spoils. Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/20/95

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: 2,271 Americans have died in the war in Afghanistan.

Today’s Stumper: 1978 is the last year there were three popes. When was the last year before 1978 that there were three popes? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Jean-Francois Steiner

It is not the first steps but the last ones that are most difficult. – Jean-Francois Steiner, Treblinka

Jean-Francois Steiner is French writer whose father died in a German concentration camp and Treblinka is a historical novel about the Nazi concentration camp located in Poland, a bit north of Warsaw. It based on the testimony of 40 survivors of the death camp and is a moving and profound book. We give it the highest possible recommendation, although it should be noted this book has not met universal acclaim, including some scorn by a Czech survivor of Treblinka. Today’s Thought concerns an armed revolt whose final stages were proving difficult.

There are three elements to success: wisdom, courage and patience. Our experience has shown that each step is progressively more difficult than the previous one. 

We must have the wisdom to know that what we are attempting is what we should be doing with our life. Usually, this is easy: you look inside yourself and decide what your talents and ambitions are. Usually, this is what you went to bed at night dreaming about as a kid.

Then we must muster the courage to go and do it, to go and live the life we were meant to live. This is a bit tougher. It means leaving our comfort zone for the uncertainties of tomorrow. It means confronting the specter of both success and failure. Mustering this courage is no small matter and our experience is that not everyone finds it.

It is not the first steps but the last ones that are most difficult…

It is easy to get a good start to an endeavor and the attendant enthusiasm can provide sufficient momentum to keep you going past the inevitable early reverses. Success, however, seldom comes quickly and not everyone has the patience to see things through to the end.

One of life’s great lessons is that good things take time. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s tempting to look at the meager returns for your early efforts, to look at the long road still to be tread and choose an easier path.

This is where patience comes in. For most, success is one long road of trial and error and it’s hard to go all those miles without seeing the success we are looking for. However, if we had the wisdom to find our path and the courage to go and follow it, patience is usually there for the taking. All we have to do is look. 

Those who abandon a plan will never know how to close to success they were. Patience combines wisdom and courage to allow us to take those final steps.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 23, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

MORE WAR! YAY!: President Trump – President Trump! – announced Monday that the United States will increase the number of troops we are sending to this nation’s longest war, the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Gaylon For Congress…Vote Early, Vote Often: We said this every hour on the hour while campaigning for the United States Senate (2014) and House of Representatives (2016):

We are not going to have a peaceful world without a peaceful America.

It’s difficult to argue with this statement. The only dividend an America constantly at war has produced is more war because if war produced peace it would already have done so. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for 16 years without result and we can spend another 16 years there doing nothing more than wasting American lives.

Stop Us If You’ve Heard This Before: Continuing to meddle in other nation’s affairs  will not bring peace, it will only continue to produce more violence. Our meddling in the Middle East is why 9/11 happened and why ISIS exists. Had America been at peace instead of war every day since 1989 the Twin Towers would still be standing and ISIS would be a comic book hero. 

USA! USA! During his speech, Trump said we are killing terrorists. Yeah, well, maybe we are. We are also killing innocent civilians but few seem to care about that right now. We are also creating more terrorists because all American interference does is annoy people, inspiring them to do whatever they can to destroy us. It’s what caused 9/11.

Fly In The Ointment: Not only does an America at war produce a violent world, it produces a violent America, too. We don’t think it is reasonable to dismiss the proposition that an America at war every day since 1989 has produced a violent country. It’s all we know. An entire generation of Americans has some zero clue what an America at peace is. It is no different than violent homes producing violent children because all violence begets is more violence, both abroad and at home.

The Bottom Line: Perpetual war is not sustainable and, eventually, it will tag team with our mindless debt and utterly fractured social fabric to bring about the collapse of our once-proud nation. There will come a time when we will run out of people willing to fight our wars and when we will no longer be able to afford to fight them.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Several counties in western North Carolina declare themselves the independent state of Franklin on this date in 1784. The eight counties had originally been offered to the United States government as payment for Revolutionary War debts, however, the Continental Congress declined this offer, leading to the counties secession.

Franklin’s application to become the 14th state in the Union was approved by only seven states in the Continental Congress, two less than required for statehood and the counties now form eastern Tennessee.

Great Moments In Executing Italians: Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murder in Massachusetts on this date in 1927. They had been convicted in 1921 of murdering two people during an April 1920 armed robbery of a shoe company.

Sacco and Vanzetti biggest crimes were being Italian immigrants and anarchists and they were convicted despite the utter lack of evidence. Protests against their conviction were held around the world, though all appeals and clemency requests would be denied. The pair declared their innocence to the very end.

Whoops, Our Bad: In 1977, on the 50th anniversary of the executions, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation declaring Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted.

More Hot On This Date Action: What History refers to as the Salad Bowl Strike begins in California’s Central Valley on this date in 1970.

The strike was as much against the Teamsters as it was against any particular grower, as the UFW and the Teamsters had been bickering about who had the right to organize farm workers for months. The strike would involve upwards of 8,000 farm workers and remains the largest strike by farm workers in American history. The strike was bitter and violent and ended the following March.

Great Moments In Downloading Porn: The World Wide Web opens to the public on this date in 1991, with the release of the first web page. The first web page had actually been released earlier in the month, but it had only been available to those working on the project.

The Internet was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, who had been working towards establishing an Internet-based information system since the mid-1980’s. The first web page, which is still active if you know where to look, contains information and instructions on exactly what the hell was going on, plus pics of Berners-Lee’s cat.

Quotebook: Either the people would overthrow the government or, more likely, the government would overthrow the people. – Gore Vidal, Empire

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: There wasn’t a trivia question last time, silly!

Today’s Stumper: How many American have died in the war in Afghanistan? – Answer next time!

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The Bottom Ten – Preseason Q&A

The Bottom Ten/Opening Week Q and A
By Gaylon Kent

Bottom Ten pollsters are nothing if not adaptable, both with their bar tabs and the weekly Bottom Ten surveys.

The NFL season begins two weeks after the Week 1 survey? No problem. The NFL Week 2 Interregnum Poll has become an American classic, combining the awarding of The Jim Hanifan Medallion – symbolic of NFL preseason lousiness – with the witless social commentary you’ve come to know and love.

The Army/Navy game is moved the week after the conference championship games? B-10 pollsters were in step with that, too, tossing in yet another goddamned Interregnum Poll in December, before the final NCAA poll is released.

Now college football is starting two weeks before the NFL?

No problemo. After fretting over the matter for a matter of minutes, the Bottom Ten is pleased to kick off 2017 with the Top 10 questions facing Bottom Ten fan(s) this season. 

1. Will the service academies return to mediocrity? You guys sure missed them last year. Your lack of material was evident.
No kidding. Air Force, Army and Navy combined for a 27-12 record in 2017 forcing B-10 pollsters to look elsewhere – hi there VMI! – for military football material. Still, though, B-10 pollsters are optimistic and have their trusty, usual “Black Knights of Confusion” and “Army hindered by pregame Army Secretary ruling…” lines ready to go.

2. Does Bottom Ten staff have trouble keeping track of all the awards you guys hand out? Between Tostitos Plaques and Sgt Bilko Trophies and Continental Cups, there sure are a lot of them.
You bet we do! While B-10 pollsters are good at regularly passing out the stalwarts – Sgt Bilko Trophy, Tostitos Plaque, Jim Hanifan Medallion, et all – they do tend to forget some of the lesser awards they’ve issued and make others up as they go along, with B-10 pollsters “pretty sure” they’ve issued no less than 7,235 awards over the years.

3. How are the Week 1 matchups shaping up?
Oh, the season gets off to an exciting start, with 2017 medal stand laureate UMess, #9 finisher Rice – part of the hilarious Trilateral Commission entry with Vanderbilt and Duke – and past B-10 champion San Jose State all in action Saturday. Oregon State, 6-18 the past two (2) seasons will be looking to make an early-season splash with a big road loss at Colorado State.

4. Do the Jacksonville Jaguars have what it takes to win their first B-10 title?
The question for the ages. Sure, the Jaguars have significant B-10 street cred. They have a demanding owner and opening up their quarterback job two weeks into the exhibition season shows the lack of judgment and foresight that usually leads straight to the B-10 glory. But Jaguar fan(s) are still awaiting their first Dan Henning Trophy, symbolic of NFL Bottom Ten supremacy. Still though, with Tom Coughlin there to keep everybody toeing the line, veteran B-10 watchers know you ignore the Jaguars at your peril.

5. Why does LA have both the Chargers and the Rams? Did LA’s application to be a nuclear dump site get turned down?
Despite the fact this arrangement didn’t work in the Kennedy Administration, both Rams and Chargers back for another go-round sharing Los Angeles. In 2020 they will share a stadium. Between now and then they’ll fight for the two dozen or so LA sports fans that aren’t following the Dodgers or USC or even the resurgent Los Angeles High School Romans football team    

6. Is the Continental Cup returning? Do you guys ever tire of making fun of small college teams that can’t win a game?
Of course the Continental Cup – issued to the team with the longest all-division losing streak in NATO – is returning and is currently held by Division III Earlham College in Indiana with 33 straight losses. And no, we don’t ever get tired of making fun of losing small college football programs. It’s what we do.

7. We miss Duke. Will they ever return to form?
The B-10 Team of the Decade for the Double Aughts will always have a hold on the hearts of B-10 fans everywhere. While they were ranked in the final survey last year as part of the hilarious Trilateral Commission entry, the Bleu Devils haven’t made the final B-10 survey on their own since 2011. Duke finished 2017 strong, however, losing five (5) of their last six (6) to finish 4-8 and B-10 fans everywhere are hopeful this nonsense of going to bowl games regularly is over.

8. Cleveland Browns = Bottom Ten dynasty?
Who knows? The week in, week out sucking of hind tit required to ascend the B-10 throne is immense. We would have thought Jacksonville would be looking back on multiple B-10 titles, but sometimes they’re not even the worst team in the brutal AFC South. The Browns, though, still do not have a quarterback and they are only slightly older than a Pop Warner team, so their 2016 B-10 title could be the start of a long run of Cleveland B-10 glory.

9. Will the NFL exist in 20 years?
Probably not. Between fans tuning out because of national anthem protests and players no longer playing the game, we are watching the beginning of the end for the NFL. The threats are real. The whites that watch NFL games don’t want to watch black athletes make valid points about their country by protesting the national anthem and parents will stop letting their kids play football. B-10 pollsters starting the long process of familiarizing themselves with lacrosse for the debut of National Lacrosse League Bottom Ten in 2037.

10. Will over half the NCAA still qualify for bowl games this year?
Not quite. In fact, there’s one less bowl from last year as the revered Poinsettia Bowl rolled over and called it a day. Still, though, there are 40 bowl games this season and they’re still going to be played in baseball stadiums, the freezing cold and, of all the silly places, the Bahamas. B-10 pollsters currently placing the over/under on number of bowl teams without a winning record this year at 4.5.

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The Thought for the Day – MacKinlay Kantor

…taking in a sight he might never see again… MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville

MacKinlay Kantor was an American writer and Andersonville was a novel that earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1956. Andersonville was the name of a Confederate prison camp in the Civil War. Located in Georgia, it became infamous for the squalid, miserable conditions its prisoners were obliged to endure. Andersonville was not only our introduction to what has turned out to be one of our favorite genres, the historical novel, but it also produced the very first quotes in our personal quotebook, started in 1988. As we recall, today’s Thought concerns someone leaving Andersonville for the final time, though it may well have been some seeing Andersonville for the first time.

This quote came to mind while we were watching Monday’s eclipse. Where we lived in northwest Colorado was going to get about 90 percent totality, but a remote part of Wyoming about three hours away offered one minute and 18 seconds of totality. We had never seen a total eclipse before, so we went. A few minutes before totality it started getting darker and cooler and right on schedule the moon was completely blocking out the sun.

There was nothing to do but watch and enjoy a moment long waited for. The technologies of the second decade of the 21st century were set aside because they would only distract. There are times that are best preserved by your mind’s eye because no memory is sweeter than that captured by your complete and undivided attention.

It doesn’t matter what that memory is, either. Whether it’s an eclipse, the view from the summit of a long-desired achievement or leaving the nursing home after seeing your father for the last time, sights you will never see again are rare and we don’t always get advance notice of them. They should be savored, poignant, perhaps, in the moment, but splendid in the memory.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 22, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

CAPSULE ECLIPSE REVIEW: Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, Intersection of Wyoming State Highway 220 and Natrona County Road 321, Natrona County, Wyoming: We’re not the most exciting people on the planet here at The Daily Dose, but we had never seen a total eclipse before and with one there for the taking a mere three or so hours away, we decided to go.

Our chosen spot is not too far from the middle of nowhere, which is good because there weren’t a whole lot of people there. On the drive up there probably more cars on the road than there would be tomorrow, but not too many people were heading to the middle of nowhere. We got to the designated intersection at 11am, 42 minutes before totality began, after a drive of a bit more than three hours.

Parked nearby was an older gentleman who turned out to be named Larry. Larry had eclipse glasses. I  didn’t. A friendly sort, he came up and said hi and I offered to exchange a view of the eclipse with his glasses for a view of its progress with my lousy, homemade pinhole camera.

Thank You Carl Sagan: I remembered our pinhole camera from the 1979 partial eclipse in grade school and they are so easy to make even we can do it: You take a piece of cardboard, cut a hole in the center, put some tin foil over it and poke a small hole in the center. When the time comes, you hold the cardboard up to the sun so the shadow shows up on the piece of white cardstock you brought with you. It actually shows up rather well. Not as good as looking through eclipse glasses, but still a satisfactory way to follow the moon’s progress.

Larry was very generous with his glass and good company for the 45 minutes or so we spent together, one of those supremely rare and good moments when you share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with someone you will see once in your life. Larry had driven about five hours to the middle of nowhere and this was his first total eclipse, too.

Dry, Technical Matter: A few minutes before totality you could notice it getting darker and cooler which caused Larry to put on a sweater against the arctic cold that was about to blow in. We then shared his glasses for one last look before totality.

Larry: Two minutes…Long time coming.
Me: Yeah…Worth the wait, though…

It got noticeably darker one final time – Larry would note is seemed like 7pm – and there it was, a moment you hoped might happen with no guarantee it ever would: a total eclipse. The atmospheric conditions weren’t conducive to spectacular corona but no matter. The black disc surrounded by a white ring was satisfactory.

We had one minute and 18 seconds of totality, 78 seconds in a lifetime with billions of them. Larry muttered some words of wonderment under his breath, but other than that we kept quiet, content with how we were taking in a sight we might never see again.

And then it was done. A white ball was the first sign Mr Moon was continuing its journey and after that we stood there dumbly for a few seconds as light returned and the temperature warmed up, though Larry kept his sweater on. There wasn’t much reason to stick around after that, so Larry and I  shook hands and parted, two explorers whose paths briefly crossed before diverging. 

Some Philosophy Crap: Watching a total eclipse is a great way to make you feel insignificant. What struck us was the fact the moon has been getting in the way of the sun like this for billions of years and will probably do so for billions more. This eclipse looked just like the ones before us humans were around to see them and bore a striking the resemblance to the ones that will happen long after we’re gone. Ponder that and then go home and admire the blue ribbon your artichokes won you at last week’s county fair and try to feel important. 

Final Ranking: We’re giving this an A, our highest rating, both circumstantially because we were there and intrinsically, because of the show Mother Nature put on for us. A day worth waiting for. 

Editor’s Note: the On This Date feature will return.

Quotebook: That is always best which gives me to myself. – Emerson, address at Harvard Divinity School, 7/15/1838

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1913, established the popular election of US Senators.

Today’s Stumper: The Trivia feature will return!

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The Thought for the Day – Deng Ming Dao

Whether we remain ash or become the phoenix is up to us. – Deng Ming Dao, 365 Tao

365 Tao, a book of daily spiritual meditations grounded in the Tao spiritual discipline, is a regular contributor to The Thought for the Day. Regardless of what your spiritual path is, or even if you don’t have one at all, 365 Tao is highly recommended, deserving of the time and consideration of anyone, from a serious reader to a newcomer, an experienced adherent or a novitiate.

Sometimes we do not have control over what happens to us. This can be frustrating, however, there are billions of people on this planet all leading random lives and, of course, Mother Nature acts on her own whims. All of this sometimes adds up to events we may have had nothing to do with but which nonetheless leave an indelible and sometimes permanent imprint on our lives.

What we do have control over is how we respond to any given situation. When calamity strikes, we can let it define us, or we can take control and put the experience to whatever good use we can mine from it. We can drown in the depths or we can ascend to new heights.

This is also true when good fortune strikes. We can wallow in our success, forgetting the dreams and efforts that inspired us to strive in the first place, or we can use success – failure’s cousin – as the impetus for further gains.

Choosing how to respond to a given situation is no different than choosing how we spend our life. We can remain as we are, or we can rise and become the phoenix, living a life that shows others, but more importantly ourselves, that we were put here for a reason and that we are determined to find that reason.

This is not easy. It takes courage to become the phoenix, to rise above everyday wants and prejudices, to veer from the path others are taking and to have the patience to see where that path ultimately leads.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 21, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

THIS IS DEFINITELY A VIOLATION OF REGULATIONS: What in theeee hell is going on here? For the second time in two months a United States Navy ship has been rammed by a civilian vessel. This time it was the USS John McCain (DDG-56) colliding with a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore Monday morning.

Ten sailors are missing and five more are injured. This follows the ramming of the USS Fitzgerald by a civilian ship in June where seven sailors died. This is sad because the only reason ships collide at sea is when sailors aren’t doing what they should be doing.

Dry, Technical Matter: Singapore is a city-state located at the southern tip of Malaysia, which it was a part of until it gained independence in 1965. It is just north Indonesia, and a bit north of the equator. Its port is frequently visited by US Navy ships and the McCain was heading there after some routine ops in the western Pacific. 

Back On Message: Why the McCain and the Alnic MC were in the same place at the same time Monday morning wasn’t immediately clear, and the Navy is opening their usual investigation into the matter. The cause of Fitzgerald collision is still under investigation, too, and if you expect either investigation to show the crew of either ship was acting in accordance with Navy regulations you are high. They weren’t.

Now Hear This: This should not be happening. We have significant street cred in this matter, having stood many a watch on the bridge of a US Navy ship and we know from experience it is supremely difficult for a Navy bridge properly staffed by trained sailors standing a proper watch to collide with another ship. Contacts would be visible from miles off with binoculars and even farther off via radar and sonar. 

People were not paying attention. People were not following standard procedures. All it would have taken was one pimply faced seaman apprentice with some binoculars and common sense to make a visual sweep of the area and say “Uh, officer of the deck, there’s a ship over there…” or a radar operator or sonar operator noticing a contact getting a little too close.

Uh, Gaylon, You’re Equivocating. Could You Tell Us What You Really Mean? Thank You In Advance: The only reason a ship runs into another ship is that the crew – led by the commanding officer – is screwing up. Maybe the ship’s spades tournament was going on or something. But either watch stations weren’t being manned or, if they were, no one was doing their job properly.

The Bottom Line: Whatever culpability the Alnic MC might have is of no consequence, either. A ship must be proactive in avoiding collisions. The Alnic MC could have been doing figure eights at flank speed and any US Navy ship should have been able to avoid her.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Slave Nat Turner leads a slave revolt in southern Virginia on this date in 1831. Turner was also a minister and believed he had been chosen by God to lead the rebellion. The rebellion was ended by whites two days later.

The death toll was high. Turner and his slaves killed between 55 and 65 whites and afterward Virginia executed 56 blacks and Virginia whites did their part, too, killing 120 blacks just for funsies.

Talk About Your Speedy Trial: Turner himself never left the area and eluded capture until October 30. He was tried and convicted on November 5 and executed on November 11.

Great Moments In Lincoln/Douglas Debates: Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer, and United States Senator Stephen Douglas hold the first of their seven debates in their race for the US Senate in Ottawa, Illinois on this date in 1858.

Is This Dry, Technical Matter?: US senators were elected by state legislatures back then, so Lincoln and Douglas were actually vying for control of the Illinois General Assembly.

I ‘ll Pack A Lunch: You had to have endurance to attend debates back then. The format called for the first speaker – Douglas and Lincoln alternated this honor – to talk for an hour, then the second candidate to talk for an hour-and-a-half with the first candidate getting another 30 minutes. Though Douglas would win the election, Lincoln edited and then published his speeches from the debates which, along with the intense media coverage the debates garnered, played no small part in his being nominated for president by the Republicans in 1860.

Well, OK, One More Item, Then It’s Bedtime: The Mona Lisa, one of our species seminal paintings, is stolen from the Louvre, a Paris art museum, on this date in 1911.

The thief got a couple of breaks. First, the theft wasn’t discovered until the following day, the genius head of security thought the painting had been removed so it could be photographed, which led to a delay of a few more hours before the theft was reported to the police.

Who never did solve the crime. The thief, a Louvre employee who hid in a broom closet and walked out with the painting after closing, only gave himself away when he got bored hiding the painting in his apartment and tried to sell it to an Italian art gallery couple of years later.

Quotebook: What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey….but oh what a price to pay – to forfeit the sight of your dear face. – Robert Falcon Scott, final letter to wife, written from Antarctica, 1912

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: On the Origin of Species was published in 1859.

Today’s Stumper: When did United States Senators start being elected by popular vote, instead of by their respective state legislatures? – Answer next time!

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