Sunday, May 30, 2004

A little earlier this morning, after I'd dragged myself out of bed, I sat in the dining annex to the kitchen, on a bench at our picnic-style table, drinking coffee and perusing a University of Georgia, College of Agriculture's publicationWeeds of the Southern United States (published thanks to a grant by the Federal Extension Service of the US Department of Agriculture, by a team directed by L.C. Gibbs. No ISBN was available)

So I would like to present the weed for the day, one that we found growing in the southeast sector of our garden, which I'm pretty sure is from the Solanaceae, the Nightshade family. Wilma thought it was a tomato plant. I think that it's a Solanum nigrum.

Altgeld is yelling for attention, Annie-Franck is asking me to take him away from her. I've got to tend to the Kinder now. Wilma drove away for some time-activity for herself.

Later.

As this page loads, a tree frog croak-sings somewhere by the north side of the house. Already, it is eleven minutes to ten, late in the morning. Outside the house is brightness and weather fast getting hot and humid. I've been transitioning from a nocturnal back to a diurnal activity-sleep pattern.

This morning I was still slowly waking, lying alone in the bedroom, listening to Weekend Edition, when I heard a short interview with Archibald Cox, a prosecutor who was fired by President Richard Nixon when the former refused to back down from his duties and service to the Senate. Nixon wanted him to allow the corruption of the Watergate affair to stay secret. Apparently, Cox' superior and his secretary resigned, rather than carry out Nixon's order to fire Cox. This became known as the "Saturday night massacre."

According to an Associated Press article whose author is not cited,which I found in the on-line Houston Chronicle,on or soon after his firing, I suppose it was, Cox said, "Whether ours shall be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people."

Another Watergate figure died yesterday, the same day--Sam Dash, who was the Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. Listen to this report by NPR's Linda Wertheimer. During the spring and summer of 1973, Mr. Dash directed the committee's hearings into the burglaries.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Woke up at 02:30 in the dark of the night. Can't sleep. So I played some backgammon on line, looked at some more blogs. Life in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan is still up and going. our Engineer hero is still at it, and even better, he's home! Let's hope he keeps writing.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

I noticed today that I'd passed 100 entries without any fanfare. Well, I've been busy, and lucky to log any entries, given my 12 hour night shifts.

I'm going to walk over to the multi-purpose building, a corrugated aluminum and cinderblock affair, insulated, I suppose, and air- conditioned. Tonight, we'll go over to the library to work on computer skills. We're developing a class blog. Just starting.

Yesterday finished Book XIV of the Iliad, reading from the W.H.D. Rouse Signet Classic pocket edition. It really fits in most jeans hip pockets. I finished the chapter while walking along a dirt road leading through onion fields and pastures.

You know? I'm thinking that some of these people who complain about violence in the media should read the Iliad.

And that's all for now. Iassou!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I really must not forget to mention that on this day in 1892, the Sierra Club was incorporated, and the rules of baseball were published for the first time.

Whoa! The results of the elections for the Board of Directors to the SC are out:

Lisa Renstrom 141,407
Jan O'Connell 132,262
Nick Aumen 123,622
Sanjay Ranchod 123,332
David Karpf 110,756

From today's Savannah Morning News, I learn that it's the anniversary of the death of William Tecumseh Sherman, in 1891. It's also the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, in 1892.

On this day in 1891, gold was discovered in Cripple Creek. Was it the Grateful Dead who sang a song with "Come on Cripple Creek" in it? Who else, Credence Clearwater Revival?

Earlier today, I read something on Emerson, from Writers' Almanac. Let's take another look. Yes, it's his birthday in 1803, a year before the Louisiana Purchase, if I'm not wrong. Yes, I was wrong, the treaty was signed on 30 April, 1803. I must have been thinking of when Lewis and Clark set out to explore through it.

Again, I'm getting my arse kicked in backgammon, but at least the music's good, and the wine, for the cost of four dollars and odd change, is not too bad. Cabernet Sauvignon. But from this convenience store vintage I'm not going for seconds, not tonight.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Within an hour I have to be at the consoles of my radios, telephones, and computers. I'll be committed to monitoring them, and as my colleague from the next county northwest said, to keeping "the boys" (and "girl"--though they are men and women police officers). I see this as community service; I could make better pay elsewhere, e.g. just go back to active duty military. But I want to be close to my family and my neighbors. This is my town, this is my county. I love them, because I am that way, just full of love, "my cup overfloweth."

I guess that's what keeps me going.

Reading an op-ed essay by E.J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post Weekly Edition. "Kerry and His Church." ..."John F.Kerry is facing resistance to his effort to become the nation's second Roman Catholic president because, in the eyes of some of his Catholic critics, church teaching does not have enough influence on how he would govern--especially on the matter of abortion."

And now for a quick shower and to fast-walk to work. Aloha!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

As I prepared to enter my 105th posting, I noticed that I'd passes the 100th entry without any mention of this little milestone. This Thursday afternoon, on the 27th of May, I go back to add a mention. Maybe I'll celebrate this weekend with a Guiness and a reading of Ulysses.

Finished a story in Granta by Jennie Erdahl, titled Tiger's Ghost, which appears in No. 85, Hidden Stories. She's a translator who apparently or through fiction, was a ghost writer for a wealthy and eccentric publisher.

Whether this is a work of fiction or biographical, it's a fine story.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Good afternoon! to you all in my time zone, EST; good evening and good night to those of you across the Atlantic waters; good day to my brothers and sisters across the Pacific waters. Time now: 4:48 p.m.

The papa mockingbird has shifted to different song now than I was hearing an hour ago. It's perched in a tree to the Northeast. The climbing rose still has vivid carmine blooms, like fresh wounds in the fabric of time, dappling the sunshine to the Southeast.

I've got to go to work any minute now. Should be headed that way. Wanted to post a blog now since I'll be working all evening and through the night till morning.

Waiting for me to wake from my diurnal sleep was the environmental defense fund newsletter. What is it that so many organizations are titling theirselves in small caps? Headline for edf is the upcoming Senate vote on global warming. At the end of this month. And I'm just learning about this now? NPR, you're fired!

No more time to talk. Got to walk. Aloha!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Reading in Book X of Homer's Iliad last night, I came across a very interesting and detailed account of how Diomedes and Odysseus interrogated their prisoner Dolon, captured during scout missions which crossed paths, and in which the alertness and tactics of the former two succeeded against the hapless Dolon.

The M.P.s and MI at Abu Ghraib and other prisons might take note of Odysseus technique. He lulls his nervous, even panicking prisoner to calm, then to confess:

"Courage. Death is your last worry. Put your mind at rest. Come, tell me the truth now, point by point.

"Why prowling among the ships, cut off from camp,
alone in the dead of night when other men are sleeping?"

Odysseus proceeds to skillfuly manipulate their scared prisoner with brief, pointed questions, without application of undue force or humiliation.

"But the shrewd tactician kept on pressing:'Be precise.
Where are they (the Trojans' allies) sleeping? Mixed in with the Trojans?
Separate quarters? Tell me. I must know it all.'"

And Dolon spills the beans. Now, Diomedes does kill their prisoner after the confession, so as not to let him escape--

"Back you'll slink to our fast ships tomorrow,
playing the spy again or fighting face-to-face.
But if I snuff your life out in my hands,
you'll never annoy our Argives lines again."

Homer's account exposes the harsh realities of war. Now these days, our Western nations have, through our declared humanitarian and civilized philosophies and policies, come to believe that it is better to show mercy, to respect human rights, to attempt to abide by a standard accepted among certain signatories of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet there is something to consider in that, now that we have begun the subjugation of the Al Qaida, the Taliban, the Baathists, the Shi'ite followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Sunni tribesmen of central Iraq, we might remember that their tradition is of "an eye for an eye," and the vendetta. Any women and children we allow to escape, with their deep-held grudges and collective hate, will come back later to threaten our lives, our property, our happiness. Perhaps, after all, it is better to return to the American tradition of the all-out frontier war, the total war of Andrew Jackson, General Anthony Wayne, the U.S. Cavalry and Buffalo Soldiers against the indigenous nations of North America.

We were able then, against much larger numbers, to employ advanced technology to effect our will to survive, to conquer, to defend our frontier settlements, thus allowing our European ancestors to multiply and occupy what came to be the United States, Canada, and the rest of the Americas. At this point we may well consider abandoning the naive optimism of the President George W. Bush and push for a much more overwhelming use of our military assets, to leave no doubt in our enemies minds' that we shall overcome.

Note to our opponents: surrender and submit now, or forever rest in peace.

Note: the above link to the Iliad is to Samuel Butler's translation.

Another Times report informs us that peace is as far away from becoming a reality in Palestine as ever:
"As debate grew over the demolition of Palestinian houses, about a thousand Israeli security officers dismantled an isolated settlement outpost in the West Bank, clashing with hundreds of Israeli settlers to tear down a single stone hut at Mitzpeh Yitzar. Under the Bush administration's peace initiative known as the road map, Israel agreed a year ago to remove dozens of such small, unauthorized settlements, while the Palestinians agreed to crack down on terrorist groups. The peace initiative has stalled.
...
"The Israeli Army has reported finding some 90 smuggling tunnels in Rafah since the current phase of Palestinian-Israeli conflict began in late September 2000. The army says that the tunnels can be almost 100 feet deep and 1,000 feet long, and that their entrances are hidden in the basements of Palestinian houses.During more than three years of intense fighting in Rafah, the army has widened the lane it controls along the border to about 250 yards in places, destroying Palestinian buildings with bulldozers, tank shells and other weaponry.

On a rainy afternoon, two hours and thirty and two minutes. I should be napping. Why? I've got to teach this evening and work all night from ten p.m. till six at sunrise.

One of the new communications workers quit. She wanted more time with her baby girl, she had trouble commuting, and she said that she couldn't handle the radio. I guess the stress of managing that when it got busy, along with the phones, was the worse thing.

From the New York Times, we learn this morning specific details of involvement in the prisoner scandal from officials high up the chain of command:
"Individual interrogation plans were drafted for each detainee, and were approved by Colonel Pappas or his deputy, he said. In every case, he said, the plans followed the guidance in the rules of interrogation that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top ground commander in Iraq, approved on Oct. 12.

In his report, General Taguba concluded that Colonel Pappas was "either directly or indirectly responsible" for the actions of those who mistreated and humiliated Iraqi prisoners."

Monday, May 17, 2004

When I last looked at the clock, it was 12:12. I'm struggling with the distractions of my four-year old's tantrums, the heat and humidity, my hunger, and my anxieties... My daughter had found a toad caught in a clay bowl whose slick ceramic concave insides kept it trapped. After some discussion, much protest on her side, we freed it in front of a make-shift "cave" that was already in place within a half-buried cinderblock.

Somehow I checked the time in the nick of time, to turn on the radio at 12:01 so that I could listen to Keillor's Writer's Almanac.

I'm walking over to the ATM of the local bank where we've an account. There, I can draw some cash without any fee. I'll eat a little lunch, maybe at the sandwich shop, where it's shady, air-conditioned, and I can get credit stamps to affix to this little wallet-sized card. Then off to the library to write an essay on patriotism and flag courtesy.

12:21 She's calm now, reading aloud softly to herself. But I have promised her that we'll properly learn how to make a spacious terrarium, and find an animal which she can keep there (if only for a while, I hope; in the meantime I'll work on teaching her to accept releasing animals to an appropriate environ).

And now to lunch... Later!



Saturday, May 15, 2004

This evening I finished the Book IX of the Iliad, partly while waiting for Annie Franck to pick some black berries, some by her field, and some by the ditch near the ESL class.

So Achilles refused the request of the emissaries, Odysseus, Nestor, and old Phoinix, sent by Agamemnon. Even with all the gifts Agamemnon had promised. Even his own daughter in marriage, on top of the nine best Trojan women after the hoped-for victory.

Languagehat has sought and solved the mystery of why so very many sports teams in the United States. (Anyone from UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand: any teams named Trojans over where y'all live? South Afrika?) By event, it can be traced to a LA Times sports writer, Owen Bird, in 1912. When Warren Bovard, son of the athletics director of University of Southern California, Dr. George Bovard, to help them find another name for the USC team besides "the Methodists."

An alternate explanation is provided in Belle Waring's Crooked Timber, who points out that for many, the Romans are considered the ultimate winners, and secondly, that with Christianity growing so much out of Rome, that the Roman influence, and therefore Trojan bias, is stronger than the Greek. I'm kind of intrigued by the synchronicity of pondering this question and posting it within a week of Ms. Waring. Though it's not really the first time I pondered it. Oh, and make sure to read Ophelia Benson's comment further down in the thread...

Now it's one hour and eight minutes into the Saturday afternoon. I've drunk the last dregs of my coffee, by now gone cold, just mixed with milk to tone down the acidity (so I think, but what do I know? I'm no chemist) and to take one of "my meds."

Almost down with the last post, I was called out to be with the Kinder(I really try not to say "kids," out of deference to old Mr. Giles, the long ago late retired math teacher, who I met when I was an orderly at a nursing home in my Midwestern home town. He had said that kids are goats, and children are childen.)

The mockingbird is in full chorus. I wonder was it the same mockingbird which was up at two thirty in the pre-dawn darkness. Maybe disturbed by the streetlights.

Am going back to reading from the May/June World Wildlife Fund newsletter. The first features to grab my attention are the "Save Sea Turtles" and "Sumatran Tiger." And now I've called up a page on which you can take action to help save the turtles, tigers, and more... There, I've sent an electronic letter requesting more funding for our animal sisters and brothers. Heh, heh, I remember first reading the stories of the life of Saint Francis, who addressed the annelid as "Sister Worm." That sounds like a Buddhist world view.

More and more these days, I find that I'm turning back into a night person, a nocturnal man as I lived in my twenties, even sometimes into my thirties, except for the migrant worker years. Last night I went to sleep at 02:30. Among other things, posting some observations on the present Crusace or Jihad, however you want to call it. Maybe we should call 'Osama v. Bush, Jr." Hey, why don't they just take their differences to the World Court, in the form of litigation? Or arbitration? Maybe save us much more grief, loss of life, damage and loss of property, environmental damage, etc.

In the post today, I got brochures and an invoice-request for a donation to UNICEF. Hugh Downs is the Chair Emeritus. Some of the points he makes is that the southern African region is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis "unlike any other." Hmmmm...one might ask, "since when has that area NOT been in crisis?" Let's read further...

Up to 14 million people are at risk of starvation...The hunger is made worse by the HIV epidemic...Today, approximately 25% of people ages 15-49--considered the 'productive age groups' are living with HIV. So fewere adults must support more people. Over 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa...

UNICEF lists six countries affected by this combination of drought, poor harvest, political instability, and HIV epidemic; Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique,Malawi, Swaziland, and Lesotho. UNICEF estimates the needs at $27 million. Only $5 million has been received up to date. I wonder, does CARE work in that area? And Catholic and Lutheran charities? Certainly, this query has interesting possiblities for the graduate student in economics.

As I pursue this query, filling out this sketch with some links for you to pursue, I find another invitation to participate by communication to our representatives in the Legislature.

Apparently, Oxfam too, does work to alleviate hunger in South Africa. Those of you on the other side of the Atlantic may want to check Oxfam's UK site, whereas others may find Canada's or Australia's more to your choosing. I recall some students of Knox College, in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, were active in the Oxfam back in the early 80's.

I would welcome anything which any of you may know on that area. And consider the many other poverty-stricken areas of the world! Certainly, with the Earth's problems and human frailites, a belief in G-d, or however you want to call her/him--Allah, ha-Shem, Dios, Bog--might help one overcome despair and existentialist angst.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The charity which sends food to families with children,Care, sent me a mailing asking for contributions. Alas! I'm tapped out, having given to others already this year, and being party and under-employed.

So I'm passing on their plea to all of you, dear readers, to give or assist if you can.

Their URL is www.care.org;

The post address is: 151 Ellis Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303

You can call them toll free at 1-800-422-7385.

Your questions and comments are important to them, I read. And I add, don't just give blindly. Participate, ask questions as to how the money is spent, how the food gets sent. Maybe even join, maybe travel abroad to help in the distribution.

My son is antsy to go. Got to go walk. Ciao!

I've finished my first coffee, black. Shaved, dressed, but not showered. Don't have to be at work until 13:45.

But this is my work, too! I'm a writer, or I want to be one. My discipline needs strengthening. One good thing, I did update my profile, that brought out some writing from me. Yah! Go right ahead, take a look. o'o'

Outside, the jay is jaying. Farther away, northwest of here, among the tall pines by the highway, a mockingbird sings. Of course, there is the occasional rumble and groan of a passing diesel truck and trailer.

At the start of Book VIII of the Iliad, Zeus announces to the other gods and goddesses to lay off intervening directly in the war of the Achaeans, Argives, and Trojans. Hera, Queen and white-armed Goddess, and Athena, want to help the Achaean-Argive alliance. Zeus and Ares defend the Trojans.

Hector and the Trojans are hemming the Greeks within their ditch and wall defenses which surround their ships. Hector threatens to burn the ships and slaughter Agamemnon and his fighters. Once again, Hera and Athena determine to go save the Greeks, but Zeus sends Ida, "swift as a storm," to warn of the Mother Goddess and the Huntress. Only darkness, admits Hector, saves him from crossing the defenses and destroying the Greeks.

I'll walk over to the building where I teach and retrieve my briefcase. Hopefully no one's taken it from the classroom.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I just sent this e-mail to the President of Kerry for President:

Esteemed Mary Beth Cahill:

I've just listened to the Senate hearings on the Abu Ghraib prison and other prison abuses. I'm still not convinced that we must go as far as demanding the resignation of Mr. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. My intuition tells me that many of your organization are against the war, or are against the way that the war has been "prosecuted," and are seizing on these prison incidents in a political way, to attack and remove from power a gentleman who has done service for the President and for his country. Perhaps you should continue to concentrate on promoting Senator Kerry for his accomplishments, qualities, and perceived potential, rather than diffuse your energies by attacking the Secretary of Defense and the military at this time.

(One thing I admire about the campaign is that it's open to constructive criticism, reporting from the 'grassroots' level, i.e. the public. You can send your ideas, statements, etc to tellus@johnkerry.com/ ).

Monday, May 10, 2004

'S already six minutes past ten ante meridiem. Have checked email, perused news, and first this morning, played backgammon while listening to the radio news and breaking the fast.

Just been outside, barefoot, to let Altgeld find his mama, who was out doing chores soon after nine. Got bit by a fireant mid-toes while talking with Wilma and our neighbor Trudy, who chain-smokes, raises multiple cats, and three grand-kids. She hates living here, and wants to find a place in the mountains. Good luck I say. The rich are cornering the real estate in the mountains, the coasts, and many of the the nice places in between the two.

This weekend I'd been reading from the Iliad, finishing Book IV, in which Hera, Queen of Gods, persuades Zeus to authorize the provocation of hostilities by instigating one of the Trojans, a nobleman turned skilled archer, the son of Lycaon, to shoot an arrow at Menelaos. The incident soon escalates to a pitched battle. I read of Diomedes' exploits in Book V, how he dared confront the goddess Athena and god Ares, even wounding them, drawing "their sacred ichor." Last night I began Book VI, in which Hector returns to Troy.

Left off reading in the part where Glaucus son of Hippolochus meets Tydeus' son Diomedes. I suppose Glaucus is of the Argives' side, since the two have an amicable chat during what seems like a lull in the battle. The two make friends. Glaucus is citing Corinth, "deep in the bend of Argos," where Sisyphus, son of Aeolus' sired a son named Glaucus, who in turn became the father of Bellerophon, "a man without fault" whom "the gods gave ... beauty..." (I'm using Robert Fagles free verse and W.H.D. Rouse' prose translation.)

Waal, Ah best git started, cuz' tayims a wastin'.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

16:31 now, hot late Spring afternoon in our southeastern Georgia. The four of us are relaxing in the parlour, listening to selections from Sampson and Delilah. I'm still not fully awake, having taken a nap, one I felt I fully deserved, as I'd woken up early this morning, after six hours of sleep, since I returned late from working the evening shift dispatching for the police department; after a power breakfast, I fast-walked a half-mile to the rally point for the Sweet Onion races. I ran both the mile and the 5 km. (3.1 mile). Won 2nd place in the latter, something I wouldn't mention, except that during my post-Iraq funks, I'd let my work-outs become endangered species.

Annie Franck is laughing without cease at something she and her brother have experienced during play. They had cooled off in the inflatable mini-pool during the time I was slowly waking up, as I drank ice water and read from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Mid-afternoon today, I got back from a conference in Augusta, Georgia. This was the first Troops to Teachers of Georgia conference, in which various presenters spoke and fielded questions about topics ranging from strategies on getting teaching jobs to teach effectively. I'm jazzed, and ready to plunge back into the job search, fill out my applications to grad school, another school district--Richmond County--and send thank you's to a few administrators with whom I had interviews earlier this Spring.

Just this moment it's one of my numerically interesting moments, 11:11 P.M. I was about to say, I'd clocked out of my city job at 22:00, and had come home in time to visit with my son, who was resisting his mother's efforts to get him to sleep.

At work I was able to catch part of the Delta Classic Pool Derby, in which Jeannette Lee and Allison Fisher were directing some brilliant strokes in a neck-and-neck game. The score was 4-4 around 21:39 when I switched the set off to type in some items into the word processor application. The match was being broadcast by ESPN2. Maybe I will set some money aside for that satellite dish...