The Thought for the Day – Will Durant

[The Roman} took it for granted that the government had a right to value him purely according to his services to the state. He distrusted individuality and genius…He could only rule the world. – Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, Volume III: The Story of Civilization.


Will Durant was an American historian and writer and any mention of him must include reference to his wife Ariel, who collaborated with him on most projects. The Story of Civilization is an eleven volume set chronicling the Western world. It contains over four million words and nearly ten thousand pages.

While Durant acknowledged “the impossibility of one mind speaking with firsthand knowledge on every aspect of a complex civilization spanning a thousand years”. Despite this, and the flaws inherent in a project of this magnitude and scope, The Story of Civilization remains a landmark achievement in human letters.

The parallels between the Roman Empire and 21st century America are, if not stunning, certainly revealing, and today’s thought isn’t too far off from a being a pretty good description of America today.

…the government had a right to value him purely according to his services to the state.

The purpose of the American citizen now is no longer to chase dreams. It is to subscribe to government programs, to play by the rules so we can all pay our fair share of taxes so our government can do more and more things for us. We have completely ceded our power over the state so that now we are merely vassals, well-fed and well-entertained, the better to fall into compliance.

Our government is not even obliged to demand compliance, either, we are providing that voluntarily, standing by while our government pursues non-stop warfare, leading to the deaths of American fighting men and women and innocent civilians overseas.

The Roman Empire eventually collapsed and don’t kid yourself, America will, too, one day. This nation cannot sustain constant warfare end crushing debt forever. Personally, I give us until this half-century is out

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Sunday, May, 1
My first day as commander of District 14 was uneventful…This is not a bulletin, there were no District events on my schedule, and there aren’t any for tomorrow, either. As noted, our District consists of six rather small Posts, and there probably won’t be any District functions until the state convention in June and, after that, the fall District meeting, but still, had here been official District functions, I was standing by.

I do get a new cap…Caps for post members are all navy blue with gold piping…I do have a pin on mine that says “Commander” on it, but post officers were the same caps that members do…District officers, including the Commander, have blue caps with a white crown on it…The cap has District 14, my home post’s number and the city on it, too…I think I get mine at the state convention in June, when us district commanders are officially installed.

In other Legion news, I will be attending our small town post’s May meeting…It’s the second Tuesday and recall I joined the Sons of the Legion and I am going to join our small town’s Sons squadron…Bob, a post member who I saw at the district meeting, said the meeting starts at 8pm.

8pm???…Bob, for the love of all that is sacred, that’s an hour past my bedtime.

Bob laughed and said he could relate, but I guess the ranchers like the 8pm start…It lets them get their chores done and have dinner before heading in.

Had the first spaghetti night in a while tonight…Recall when The Wife went and volunteered at the summer camp for terminally ill kids she brought back a case of sauce, cause the famous guy who founded the camp and 12 cans of spaghetti sauce ain’t doing anyone any good on the shelf…The cat loves spaghetti night, too, and she was sitting on the kitchen table in anticipation well before dinner was served…Of course, like all cats she’s pretty good at determining when us humans are about to produce a meal, and she can often be found on the kitchen table in anticipation of the evening meal.

Tonight, tho, the cat was a complete pain and we had a bottle of wine on the table so The Wife grabbed her by the scruff and threw in the second bedroom and closed the door.

Oh boy, the cat did not like this at all…At all…She was meowing non-stop until we let her out when, as per habit, she went straight to my plate (she knows better than to go to The Wife’s plate) and started licking the sauce off…She also taste-tested the bread, which was really good, too, because The Wife crushes her own garlic before adding butter and parmesan cheese.

Maybe – maybe – I’ll be able to get the lawn mowed tomorrow…It was sunny and dry today and if we can get another dry day tomorrow the lawn might be dry enough to mow…It could use it…It’s about 3-4 inches high now and is starting to look bad.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any other use is coincidental. 

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The Thought for the Day – Louis L’Amour

Man must deal with himself. It is his reality he must face each morning when he rises. He must be, he must move, he must create. – Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods


We quote Louis L’Amour here from time to time. As we’ve noted, the critic who said L’Amour would have benefited from a freshman composition course was probably right. L’Amour was not our most technically brilliant writer. He was, however, completely self-educated, a man with nothing better to do than to live and learn. The fact that he spent most of his young life wandering and living while he learned the writing trade gave him and his work the insights into our human experience that few match. It’s one of the things you pay us writers for.

There is no substitute for personal examination. Every one of us must look ourselves in the mirror every morning and the reflection looking back is always us. There is no escaping it; it is always there, young or old, richer or poorer, good times or bad. Relentlessly, daily, it updates us on our life’s progress.

Man must deal with himself.

Are we doing well and have earned the right to look that image square in the eye? Or are we squandering our time here and find ourselves avoiding it’s relentless gaze?

Each of us must answer this question individually. You can’t answer it for me and I certainly can’t answer it for you. If we are making use of the talents and ambitions issued us at birth, there is no reason we shouldn’t smile at what we see in the mirror. We are living the life we were meant to live.

If we are not making good use of our time and talents, we may well be avoiding the reflection in the mirror.

He must be…

We must be doing something more than merely surviving. It must come from something deep inside us.

he must move…

We must be moving to someplace different and better than what we are today.

…he must create…

Not all of us are artists, but we all have the canvas we are creating our lives on. We must ask ourselves what we are putting on that canvas? Is it something beautiful we want the world to see, or is it something we’d rather keep hidden?

We were all issued certain talents and ambitions at birth. The happiest lives are spent by those who maximize those talents, who do with their lives what they are meant to do.

It doesn’t matter what it is, either: painting a picture, building a chair, raising a family, running your own business. We were all cut out for different things and this world runs smoother when we are doing those things. We can’t go against our grain.

 

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Saturday, April 29
Played hooky from work and went to the Legion District 14 meeting…Our district isn’t that big, consisting only of six posts, none of them particularly big, and there was some weather, so only four posts made it and it was a rather small gathering.

After rituals were completed Commander Jake introduced Lou, a junior vice commander from a couple of hours south of here…It is always good to see Lou and after I gave him a Sparrow for Congress he said he had been recently elected to the city council where he lives…He said it was not a complete quagmire like some municipal governments are, and that he is rather enjoying his experience so far.

A lot of the morning was spent griping about the VA…Even the most casual observer of our times knows it has been a complete mess for a while now and it hasn’t really changed all that much…The new system they rolled out, designed to give vets the option of going to civilian doctors in certain, difficult to meet cases, is not really working…One reason is it is difficult to meet the requirements…For example, you have to live a certain number of miles from the nearest VA hospital and they have to be unable to get you in for a certain amount of time…Also, not every civilian doctor accepts the program.

One older gentlemen said it best:

We have cards and we have insurance. The only thing we don’t have is a doctor.

Bob, from our small town’s post, was there, too…He lives a block or two over from us and said he noticed the bale of straw on our fork, along with the pitchfork…He said he likes it there, and the pitchfork was a nice touch…I said I was certain The Wife had plans for it, but they escaped me right now, and he nodded knowingly, as husbands do when talking about wives.

And I was elected District Commander…I am still not entirely sure how this happened…When it came time for elections Jake announced one term was enough for him and that he would rather fill the vacant finance officer position and before anyone, especially me, knew what the hell was going on Stanko was on his feet blabbing that he nominates ol’ Sparrow to for the position of District Commander…The motion was immediately seconded by someone obviously in league with Stanko and I was elected by acclimation.

Well, all right…Districts must be commanded and I enjoy being commander… Immediately after the election Lou conducted a brief, dignified installation ceremony for all officers and my first official act was to adjourn the meeting…The district only meets twice a year and our next meeting isn’t until September.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any other use is coincidental. 

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Friday April 29
Saw James in the break room today…This isn’t really a bulletin, I see James in the break room several times a day…Today he was looking over his lunch and eating a bagel…Lunch was what appeared to be baked chicken, some pasta and a couple slices of bread…A pretty good amount for James, who can’t weigh more than 40 pounds and looks like a refugee sometimes.

Nice spread there, James…

James nodded, not even looking up…He continued to look at his lunch like he expected it to talk to him.

James: I’m trying to gain weight…
Sparrow: Nice problem to have…

James looks at me seriously.

I’m one of those who has problems putting on weight…I’m always thin!!!

God, I hate James.

I’m in reasonably good shape now, but I have gained and lost approximately 25,000 pounds over the course of my life, so I advised James an easy way, Sparrow-approved way to gain weight was to double the amount of food he ate…This could be done two ways, either by doubling his portions at meals or by doubling the number of meals…Both have merit, tho in the past I always favored eating twice as much at each meal, but people are different.

The good part about the Sparrow Double Up plan is you can eat almost anything you want!!!…Key, I told James, is to find something you like and stick to it…Personally, I recommend burgers and pizza and let’s not forget those convenience store corn dogs that are some zero good for a waistline…As long as you are not gorging on organic vegetables, it is almost impossible not to gain weight this way.

Very slow at work…I went in at 5am and spent the day more or less at leisure in the side office…I did take some company-required driver training on the off chance I ever have to drive a company vehicle…It took 15 minutes, which I inwardly laughed at because driver training for the Doily Delivery Company took, if I recall correctly, the better part of two days.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any other usage is coincidental. 

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Thursday April 28
The first Sparrow For Congress video is in the can.

I talk about the four things I want for our country, peace, low taxes and free markets, not convicting the innocent and empowered voters.

Production was done by yours truly. I got a new desktop computer recently and I put a strip of Velcro on the top and another strip on the back of my phone and used the Bluetooth remote to start and stop it. Key was the online teleprompter I discovered a couple of weeks ago…I entered the entire script and since the camera is right on top of the screen, I am never caught glancing to the side to see what I am supposed to say next…And I don’t have to worry about memorizing everything, either, key at my age, when I can no longer remember what to get at the store.

I am the most unphotogenic person in town, but it didn’t come out too bad…I was about to go live with it when I discovered I could add annotations to it and add a link to my campaign website, too, so I am still farting around with that, so I guess the first video really isn’t in the can…Or maybe it is and it is still in post-production…I’ll have to look into that.

I had today off since I did the volunteer work yesterday, so I got a workout in and also met with a kid who applied to Boys State, which is a program the state Legion runs…Stanko usually handles this, of course, but he’s out of town…I rather enjoyed it, too, because I got to sign my name as post commander, an opportunity that doesn’t come around every day. Usually it’s just for the participation certificates for the players on the post baseball team…There are other things I should be signing, but I think Stanko forges those or signs them on my behalf.

I had some fun with the kid, too…He was very respectful, saying ‘sir’ constantly, so I told him he could relax and call me by my first name, Commander…When he said he was considering both the Naval and Air Force academies I told him no one really wanted to join the goddamned Air Force, and that since he found a chair and was sitting down he was already qualified for service as an Air Force officer…I then told him about my glorious service on an old diesel submarine, which he did a good job of pretending to be interested in.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel…All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously…All other uses are coincidental. 

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The Thought for the Day – James Madison

There is not much sense in setting one’s foot upon the road and not traveling the fullest possible distance.James Madison


James Madison was one of the most useful people our nation has produced. A planter from Virginia, he served our country in the House of Representatives, as Secretary of State and was the fourth president of the United States and his influence on our Constitution cannot be underestimated, the result of his guiding hand. Today’s thought was directed at Thomas Jefferson, who didn’t really want to go on as a long a trip with Madison as Madison had suggested.

There is no substitute for getting the most out of our time on this planet. There comes when everyone must examine their life, usually when our time comes to die. I don’t have personal experience in this matter yet, but it seems to me no one staring eternity in the face is wishing they would have worked more or watched more television. They are probably wishing they had done less of these things, honestly.

We must withdraw every possible benefit from every circumstance life offers us. We must keep forging ahead with our path until we are told “all right, that’s enough’.

My own personal experience comes from sports officiating. Like most officials I started out working youth sports. I did some junior college baseball and that was as high as I got. The JC I was working for joined a conference and the conference didn’t hire me. All right, I ended up having a completely satisfying high school officiating career, with more championship and other big games than most received. I became about as good as I was going to get and accomplished all I cared to, one of life’s great prizes.

There is not much sense in setting one’s foot upon the road and not traveling the fullest possible distance…

To do less is to cheat ourselves and when we cheat ourselves we are also cheating our fellow beings because only when we are getting the most out of our individual experiences can society get the most out of our collective experience. We must withdraw every benefit from every situation.

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Wednesday, April 27
136 inches of tie wire yields three 21-inch strips.

Now you know…I know because I, along with some co-workers, spent the day volunteering at a summer camp for terminally ill children…It’s the same place The Wife and some others from the retailer volunteered at last week.

Upon arrival, myself, along with Raul and Ishmael and another guy from somewhere else, were dispatched to the shop, an invigorating half-mile walk from the main camp.

Well, regular readers of this crap know I am completely useless in a shop environment…The leader, a nice kid named Walter, gathered us around and immediately looked at me as if I was the all-knowing master of shop implements.

All right, I have a bearing of command…When we all got out of the bus the lady volunteer coordinator walked straight to me, not to one of the maids who made the trip…So, perhaps, it was understandable I had an expert’s knowledge of a drill press…And vice grips and whatever the hell you call the goddamned contraption that bends rebar.

I don’t…I asked Walter if there some paper that needed to be pushed or, perhaps, some bunks that needed to be field tested for comfort…There weren’t, and I was reminded of the guy in on the old diesel submarine I was on who said I was the only person he ever knew who needed goggles for working with Velcro…I’m that useless.

Ismael ended up cutting rebar – whatever that is – the other guy ended up manning the drill press while Raul and I made handles for small lanterns…This consisted of taking some tie wire, looping it until the ends met, sticking the ends into a drill, activating the drill and letting the wire twist and then cutting the wire into 21-inch strips…Raul and I made a pretty good team and made nearly 400 of these.

Eventually, we ran out of wire so Walter started us in on putting the wires on the lanterns…He demonstrated, making a loop on one end of the wire, wrapping it halfway around up top, making another loop and putting it thru the new loop and after that I forget…I tried it on one lantern and it looked like it was installed by Ray Charles…Walter saw it and smiled, saying his first had looked about as bed…I think he was being nice…He also knew intuitively I wasn’t going to get any better at it.

Would you like to try something else???

He sounded like a fourth-grade teacher addressing a student…In a similar vein, I accepted and was assigned to taking the lantern out of the package, taking the tab off the battery and uncoiling the lighting element…When that was accomplished, we put light in the jar and screwed the lid on

This was right up my alley…I did this moderately well and got a few in before we knocked off at 3pm.

I thought we were working until 4pm…Frankly, I was disappointed because they only got four-and-a-half hours work out of us, which isn’t much at all, especially when you consider I was away from home for twelve hours, 6am to 6pm.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any other use is a coincidence. Really. 

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The Thought for the Day – Thoreau

In short, I am convinced, by both faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden


Henry David Thoreau (1817-62) was an American writer, naturalist and philosopher. He was born and spent his life in Massachusetts. Though Walden is generally accepted as a classic of American literature, Thoreau earned his living independently of writing, as an educator, surveyor and in the family pencil-making business.

Walden is a chronicle of his time living in a cabin at Walden Pond. Thoreau spent two years at Walden Pond, though the book is condensed into a single year period.

Thoreau may well be our species foremost proponent of making our time serve us and his influence on this column is acknowledged.

We only have one shot at life on this planet. This is true regardless of your religious beliefs. You may believe you are destined for eternal life with a supreme being, or you may believe you are coming back as something else or you may not believe either of these things. In all cases, you have only one chance at this particular life.

Now, there are some born into circumstances that give them little chance for anything more than hardship. There is little we can do about this because it is the way the world is built. Since time immemorial there have been those born with little chance.

If you’re reading this, you probably do not fall into that category. If you’re reading this you have an Internet connection and know how to read. Odds are your time on this planet is relatively easy.

So it’s reasonable to ask yourself is your passage on this planet a hardship or a pastime? Only you can answer that.

We have two options. We can get the most out of the talents we were issued at birth or we can fight the natural order and spend our lives chasing pleasure and reacting to outside circumstances and influences.

We must all follow our path. Now, your path may not lead to fame and fortune. Good. Fame and fortune are demanding masters. We must follow our hearts and trust our instincts. Doing so leads to life being a pastime, a life spent making your time serve you, instead of a life spent merely serving time.

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The Diary of a Nobody – Drivel From Sparrow!

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Tuesday, April 26
My ballgame today was rained out…It was in the next county like last week’s and I called about one or so and the athletic director said:

Game on…You gotta be tough to play baseball here!

All right…I doubted we would play, honestly…It had been raining all day and while it might not actually be raining at game time, the field had to have taken a beating…I headed out about 2:45 and caught some snow that had just passed through the next county and when I got to the field the coach, a nice kid named Justin, had a frown on his face.

We tried, Sparrow…Couldn’t do it…The last storm was too much…

I could tell…Home plate could’ve been designated a federal wetland…A well-equipped grounds crew probably could’ve made it playable, but small, rural high schools are manned only with a shovel and some dirt, and the field is pretty bad besides, so I drove home.

I wasn’t too disappointed…It was cold and windy and would’ve been miserable to umpire in, even with my fancy plate coat…

In the morning The Wife and I probably set a personal record for Most Grocery Stores Shopped At, One Day with four.

After some gym time we went to the health food store across the street for some organic veggies…Then we went to the retailer for some dry goods like toothpaste and what not because we save ten percent, then we went to a regular supermarket for meat…When we got home I was dispatched to the local market for some milk and coffee…Four stores…In town we also went to the hardware for some stuff for the garden, but that doesn’t count.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel…All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any other use is a coincidence. 

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