We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, June 27. 2015
I love the Maine woods for hunting and fishing, and the crazy state of Maine in general (to visit) but my problem is that the water is too cold for comfortable swimming, unlike the Cape where it is just invigorating.
A family friend just sent me this snap of my Dad (L) and my Mom (R) with a friend on the friend's lawn on Monhegan Island, Maine. My parents had 5 kids at that point, so it was good for them to get adult-oriented breaks.
The list at that Wiki link of the artists etc. who have had summer homes on Monhegan is impressive.
Photo below is the harbor, with the Island Inn. 17 miles of hiking trails.
Wednesday, June 24. 2015
Tuesday, June 23. 2015
As readers know, I get a huge kick out of NYC. Have theater tix for next Sat., and dinner, which is good, but just wandering around is a blast for a country boy like me.
It is a comfort and a pleasure to a middle-aged fellow to see that they will remain a bonded family when we parents are dead and gone. I imagine their future Thanksgivings and Christmases, and maybe continuing the ritual Cape Cod family reunions with our annual family morning Wellfleet Triathlon with all of my sibs and any available kids (bike around 15 miles ending up at Long Pond, race across Long Pond and back maybe 1/2 mile or more and try not to drown, then run about 7 miles back home for a hearty breakfast. Better yet, to the Lighthouse for blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs). Family traditions are important life foundations. Body-surfing in the ocean in the cool north Atlantic. The annual family baseball was good too. Batter Up! My Mom at 84! She knew how to hit a baseball and to do lots of other things too.
Their being fond of, and grateful to, their parents is good too. Already, they will drop anything to give us a hand when needed. Blessed, I guess. Will do the same for them as best we can.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:55 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, June 22. 2015
- He claims that the harder you exercise, the more your appetite tends to diminish. I find that to be true. He had to ask Mrs. BD to make sure I eat four bites of protein daily at the least, for nourishment. Like a hard-boiled egg or a slice of ham. I don't want it and I often don't do it. As I have reported, he works me quite hard so that I stumble out of there with weariness and muscles burning. I don't want to eat hardly anything anymore. He insists I have to have at least a small amount of carbs daily too, but I usually just don't want it. It's an interesting phenomenon. All I want is water and caffeine, and a little wholesome (organic) Indian tobacco. Before this process began, I was mostly ready for anything tasty (but nothing suqary) despite having no meaningful weight issue. Now, I have little appetite and can never come close to finishing a really nice restaurant meal. I try to force it to be sociable, but I can't do it. Everything is a doggy bag worth two more left-over suppers. We go out to places with friends often, weekly at least, and I feel embarrassed by how little delicious stuff I want.
- He seems to feel I can lose another few lbs or so, around my middle. I can see what he means, but my trousers are already trying to fall off. Says it can only be done by the right diet - meat and eggs, low carbs. No problem. He says people tend to feel that they have to finish their meals - whatever they are served - and thus lose their sense of what is sufficient. They ignore the moment when any hunger they may have felt is gone and disconnect from their bodies. Stop then. Don't just go on eating mindlessly until the thing is finished, as if somebody else was in control of you. "Clean your plate" was a Depression-era admonishment for children which created two generations of fat people. What is sufficient to maintain, even under a rigorous fitness program, is not very much as long as it is protein-heavy in proportion. Buffets are the worst.
- He says "Lite Aerobics," like fast walking, jogging, road bicycling, or 40 minutes on the elliptical or the treadmill, are better than sedentary but not valuable for building fitness, endurance, or for fat-burning. They can keep you mobile but not improve fitness. He says ten minutes of maximum-intensity aerobics is much better. For now, for my "off-days" he likes 10 min intense bike for warm-up, then a rest, then 10 mins intense elliptical, then maybe 5-10 mins intense rowing. Or 2 out of the 3, mix and match. Efficient exercise. I still cannot do 10 mins of intense elliptical but I can do "relaxed" elliptical for an hour. Waste of time, he says - and boring. I am also told by my doc that it is the intensity which burns a little fat, enhances endurance, and induces collateral cardiac supply (which will help you survive your first heart attack). Those are good things. Gotta feel the burn or it isn't worth your time. No pain, no gain. That applies to all exercise, apparently. Brief, high intensity for resistance or for cardio rather than time spent. My doc is in great shape.
- Factoid to remember: Even high-intensity aerobics, verging on anaerobic, will not burn your fat if you have carbs on board. Your body preferentially burns bagels over body fat. It's easier because carbs become sugar - cheap energy - during digestion. A bagel = sugar.
- Overloading muscles is the only way to improve strength. You injure your muscles, and they come back stronger. That strength is what improves endurance. A surprising amount of that "good" damage comes from the Eccentric Phase of weight exercises - not when you are pulling or pushing, but when you are doing the opposite in a slow, controlled fashion. He thinks I am ready for "Negative Reps." He advised me not to bother with high-rep exercises.
Well, it's all interesting physiology. Physiology is a fascinating topic.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:45 | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 21. 2015
My heart beamed Friday night as my sons welcomed the Sabbath with perfectly sung prayers. My heart broke Saturday night as my sons fought while I grilled a perfect wild-caught salmon, and I got indigestion instead of the meal I thought I deserved.
I'm reminded of the saying, "A Man's children and his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season." And, the growing goes both ways as we fathers grow, have to grow -- into the men we want to be under our children's careful observation, into the men that they need.
We yearn to please but, most important, to pass on life's lessons.
Father's Day is full of platitudes and real feelings, of missed and appreciated opportunities. And, of how much we care by just being there. I'm reminded of
There's a wisecrack, "If God is so perfect, how do you explain us." As fathers, we're not perfect, but we try to find and know the ways to be better, and most of us find it. We continue to strive, and so may our children, with a higher hand to reach for and give us the strength to be better and have hope.
It's not easy being the father or the child.
Saturday, June 20. 2015
Who is to blame for this? Weenie Dads? Tort lawyers? Government? Mom-headed households? Truth is, when I was ten I would disappear all day on bikes with friends, exploring woods, swimming illegally in reservoirs, building forts (snowball fights in winter, rock and stick wars in summer), shooting BB guns, fishing, sailing a Sailfish, playing vacant-lot baseball, shooting hoops on the asphalt-covered schoolyard, enjoying occasional fistfights, stealing candy from the candy shop, smoking cigarettes stolen from parents, teasing girls (mainly the ones we liked). Home by dark of course. That was the rule.
Normal stuff. The wife says I turned out fine.
If your kid doesn't come home dirty and bruised, with a mouth full of lies and the occasional broken bone, it's a shame. But I guess the boys play video games all day now and rot their brains.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:44 | Comments (18) | Trackback (1)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
In England, they call it "garden croquet" as opposed to formal croquet on a graded, manicured court.
We have neither a backyard pool nor a backyard tennis court, but we have an outdoor ping-pong table in the barn and, of course, a good English croquet set.
In time for Fathers' Day,your Quick Reference Guide for Backyard Croquet Rules
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:57 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, June 19. 2015
In Germany, the Autobahn between Stuttgart and Munich is used by the auto industry for their high speed test tracks. The Germans have three types of divided highways, limited access, freeways, and the Autobahn. All have speed limits except the Autobahn. The thing that surprised me was, at least the last time I was there, you are not allowed to pass on the right, which both the motorcycles and the Audi did in the video. The highest speed traffic is to be in the left lane and if you are overtaking another vehicle you are to flash your lights and the other vehicle is to move to the right allowing you to pass.
This will give you your Go Fast high for the day. The guy in the Audi is nuts and the guy on the bike makes the Audi guy look sane. It's worth visiting Germany just to enjoy the freedom of the Autobahn, but you can do the same in Italy if you feel like it.
In Italia, you ignore the speed limits and all of the other rules. Nobody cares. In fact, the road is considered a place for fun.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:13 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
It seems to me that decent, spirited people always aspire to improve their souls, their brains and knowledge, their fitness, their appearance, their skills, their morals, their relationships, etc. etc. Giving up is not cool and shows no respect for God's gifts - and surely nobody wants their teeth to indicate that they might be from England or Bosnia.
Orthodontia in America: America’s obsession with perfecting its teeth.
Thursday, June 18. 2015
I'll confess that I do not greatly enjoy wedding events, and this season has been, and will be, heavy with these weekend social duties. Of course, I am always pleased when people find life partners, though.
In youth, attending friends' weddings was great fun. Drinking, smoking pot behind the church, getting dressed up, guys meeting new gals and vice versa, making out on the club porch with a new person after too many champagnes. Many youth meet their future mates at weddings, for good reason: they have been socio-culturally vetted.
I also understand that parents like to throw lavish weddings to entertain their friends, families, and business associates. An excuse to check that box. But only the youth really enjoy these things because it's new to them. As an adult, I do not really enjoy attending (although I feel hurt if not invited). They interfere with your whole day and go on too long.
An inconvenience, in fact, but showing up is an obligation to people you care about. It's important to them that you show up. A brief ceremony with sandwiches and drinks after would be fine with me, same as a funeral. Two hours, max, go through the receiving line, leave your gift on the pile, and then get to your tennis game. I've been to enough weddings (and enough funerals too). Throwing a wedding need not be a major imposition on your guests' lives.
- People do not realize that your wedding is not the only one they are obligated to go to this year. For them, it seems like a Big Deal.
- You get seated with people you have to make small talk with. Dull, usually. You keep wondering "Can we leave yet?"
- You have to pretend to have 'fun," and to be grateful for the abundant food, drink, loud music, and the opportunity to dance like a teenager. I do not need any of those things but the youngsters might.
- Old Yankee Rules: Excess and display are tacky. Old Puritan Rules: weddings are not religious matters. Marriage is not a Protestant sacrament but is a solemn, witnessed vow, and a secular contract.
- 67% of American marriages end in grisly divorce
- Weddings without children attending are just no darn good.
- Weddings are an industry today. $10,000 for flowers? For one afternoon?
I don't mean to sound like a curmudgeon (or do I?). Marriage is an essential institution and God bless all who partake and whose vows are deadly serious.
My idea of a wedding event for my kids would be old-time, slightly post-Puritan New England. Bring a fiddler and an accordionist to the town green with a pig roast, with kids crying and running around. Don't even get me started on beach weddings, mountaintop weddings, black tie weddings, and golf destination weddings. But we have boys so I will be mercifully out of the loop.
The "Honored Mother of the Bride"? Gag me.
Here's a traditional New England wedding:
The percentage of pregnant brides is said to have been quite high amongst the puritan Congregationalists, maybe 50% or more.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:18 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, June 17. 2015
Today, the documentary world is full of nonsense. Outside of Ken Burns, whose work usually captures my eyes and ears, there aren't many documentary works which are interesting at all. Most documentaries today seem to be paid for by either corporations or left-wing nutjob organizations. They are more propaganda than documentary.
Which is a shame. The term documentary used to mean something, and not just mean "telling you a story I'm paid to tell you because it's what my paymasters want."
"Nanook of the North" was one of the first documentaries, and this work comprised at least 3 full classes in one semester of documentary study. Even then, much was known about how much Robert Flaherty had scripted, rather than actually documenting 'Nanook's' life. Flaherty defended his position, pointing out the issues a producer has in trying to recreate reality. As a class, we agreed that Flaherty's limitations, based on the bulkiness of his equipment and limited capacity for being in the right place at the right time, gave him some leeway to play somewhat fast and loose with the generally accepted rules of documentary film-making. Even so, his work perpetrated and reinforced some stereotypes, rather than helping to inform people about how accustomed to modern life Eskimos really were.
Continue reading "A Brief History of Documentary"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:31 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, June 16. 2015
The design of anything is always an interesting topic. Bouquets, clothing, furniture, buildings. It's not just interesting for gays and females.
One of Mrs. BD's hobbies is floral design. She competes, seriously. She has seen tons of books on the topic but she recommends one short one which goes through the fundamentals: Balance, Emphasis, Harmony, Proportion, Rhythm, and Unity. Cool stuff:
It's not a "how to," it's more about the "what." The mechanics and the how-to are another complex topic but over the years I have learned a bit about that too as have most of the genial husbands of the garden club ladies.
I told her that my Mom got so deep into the art of it it that she finally quit it all in older age, and decided to just throw handfuls of wildflowers, daisies, and grasses in vases. However, with all of her training she knew how to do that with simplicity and taste.
'Tis the gift to be simple.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:21 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 14. 2015
At a daughter's request, I am re-linking Ray Dalio's Principles. He seems like a unique, humble character who understands how much we all can learn from our mistakes.
At his firm, public self-criticism is key. Second to that is unvarnished, public mutual critique. It is not for the hypersensitive or faint of heart.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 21:25 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, June 13. 2015
Thursday, June 11. 2015
Wednesday, June 10. 2015
"Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body."
I am not so sure about that.
My trainer told me that it would take about three months of 6-7 day/week work to get me past the initial "wake-up" Phase 1 of Middle-Age Boot Camp - Getting Fit For Life With a Touch of Grey.
I do not know what Phase 2 is but I can fit into my 20 year-old Brooks tux.
He agrees with my view that physical training is to fully enjoy and participate in life, and not for its own sake. He also understands that physical training is partly mental training in discipline and maximum effort. I need the external discipline.
I am about 2 months in. I am sore and tired every day. My lower back is hating me, crippling me, and my multiple right shoulder injury (body surfing after hurricane on Martha's Vineyard + skiing tree injury + past bad-technique weight-lifting) is a constant dull ache. It's all good but I dread picking up anything from the floor. I do Mon, Weds, and Fri with him, and the other days mostly aerobics and crunches per his instructions. Move vigorously every day and walking doesn't count. He increases my weights each week and takes pleasure in my progress. Or pretends to.
I've lost 8 lbs while gaining some strength and muscle mass and a bit more endurance on exertion. He expects his people to follow his spartan training dietary regime, min. carbs except blueberries/strawberries or a half apple, 3 or 4 small proteins during the day, vegs as desired. I still have a slight inner tube which may be a permanent part of my anatomy. Do I enjoy this discipline and exertion? Not really. Like everybody, I like to do "whatever I feel like." However, I like challenges and tend to rise to them. That's how I have achieved my modest goals in life thus far so it has always worked for me.
He pushes me to the breaking point. I know it's for my own good and that doing "what I feel like" rarely has good results in life. Squats? How many kinds are there? Sheesh. I hate them all. Pain.
Difficult aerobic endurance on days "off" is a tough challenge for me. 10 min elliptical, ten min bike, ten min rowing machine (no rest time, all with resistance), then around it again. Then you are supposed to be able to walk. No, I still cannot do ten min on the elliptical rapidly, at the 6 setting. I am in terrible condition I guess - but I can walk all day long without steep hills. Hiking uphill for a couple of hours fatigues me and I do not want to accept that.
My darn siblings hike up the White Mtns. almost every weekend, swim miles, and run half-marathons. But they are nuts...or maybe not. None of them even contemplate retirement and neither do I.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:49 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, June 9. 2015
Hiking into a deep valley on a Pacific Crest Trail Spur, you unexpectedly encounter a stone Victorian built by the old Mark Hopkins family (Central Pacific RR) at the end of a rough dirt track 10 miles from asphalt. Those American entrepreneurs had an amazingly bold sense of adventure!
Saturday, June 6. 2015
Below the fold...
Continue reading "When a second bottle is definitely an interesting idea"
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:01 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, June 5. 2015
Mrs. BD recommends to y'all:
In NYC, The Flick, Annie Baker's new play at the Barrow St. Theater
Mrs. BD and dau liked it so much they bought the script
The Royal Ballet, coming to NY later in June
In NYC, Bar Eolo
The book that her book group is reading: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:37 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, June 4. 2015
Ask a farmer about work hours. During my career-building years, I worked 12-14 hour days. I have never regretted that, and I learned a lot in doing so. Oftentimes in my NYC days, I needed to work 24-hour days and all weekend too, and you would never hear any bitchin from me about that. Glad to have the work. Many times caught with my unconscious face planted on desk.
In my current self-employed era, I work just as hard and long as I choose to. Rarely less than 11 hours/day, and in spare time on weekends. Work is good. Mrs. Barrister values my effort enormously, which encourages me and cheers me on. She rewards me by being sweet to me and by making me a nice life. I am productive, useful, and I make money.
What else would I do, anyway? I like to read books at night, not during daytime. I surf the web when I need a short break from concentration and writing. I hate the boob tube.
It has been a great pleasure for me to provide Mrs. B with the ladylike, genteel life she aspired to. Raising kids, playing sports, seeing friends, volunteering, gardening, cooking, reading littacher and studying art history, messing with the horses. Just like her Mom. Fine with me because it all enriches my gracious Connecticut life.
Weekends I mainly structure around manual labor around the Barrister Estate, church, and socializing in evenings. We are constantly making new friends, sometimes more than we can handle. It all does me good. Life is short.
I intend to work until I drop, or until nobody needs or wants me. I guess that's my Calvinist culture and upbringing which requires being useful and productive. It works for me. Vacations and trips, however interesting, make me restless. Except for Thailand, India, and the Midi. Camera? Never, ever. After the kids got bigger, I threw it away. For me, it interferes.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:41 | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, June 3. 2015
Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate
Harvey Silverglate is a Maggie's hero despite his lefty tendencies. A founder of FIRE, civil liberties fellow. The book title over-promises, but it's an important topic.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:16 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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