POST #400……….Happy Birthday America

American flags in Wells Beach, Maine....photo by author
American flags in Wells Beach, Maine….photo by author

 

from Democracy Is Coming To The USA    by Leonard Cohen

The US Needs Better Democracy

If there is one thing that seems apparent (at least to me) from this years presidential election is that America can do better with selecting its presidential candidates. This year with the looming nominations (things could still change) of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it appears to me we are choosing two candidates that have mastered the fine art of using political position to obtain personal wealth.

True, we have had wealthy candidates and presidents in the past (JFK was actually one of the wealthiest), but they always seem to put some sort of national agenda ahead of their own personal gain. So far, this year seems to be different. On one hand you have a man, who brags about his wealth and uses this situation as a qualification for the highest political office in the land. On the other hand, you have a former Senator and Secretary of State, whose paid speeches would violate many ethics rules if she was still in the Senate or State Department.

So considering all that’s gone down so far, I’m hoping that both major parties circumvent what’s gone down in the primary process and go back to the drawing board in coming up with a presidential candidate…………… It’s not too late, really.

 

The old and the new in our first national capitol, Philadelphia
The old and the new in our first national capitol, Philadelphia
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Partners

These two lions appear to be partners for life, photo author
These two lions appear to be partners for life, photo author

Partners

These partners for life stand guard at the entrance to Boston Public Library. No doubt that they are on the lookout for people with overdue books and unpaid library fines. Maybe  not being a partner for life is not such a bad thing after all.
Partners

How To Spin a Good Yarn

Sometimes it takes a little imagination to spin a good yarn
Sometimes it takes a little imagination to spin a good yarn

“Spin a Yarn”

I have taken this week’s Illustration Friday topic and expanded it from the original “yarn” to the more colloquial “spin a yarn”. This term is kind of aphorism for storytelling in general, so what follows is a short discussion on storytelling.

Step 1

A strawberry moon is a rare astronomical event that occurs when a full moon falls on the solstice
Spinning a good yarn begins with observing an actual real life event. This yarn  begins with the observation of a strawberry moon, a rare astronomical event that occurs, when the full moon falls on the solstice. In reality, such an event just occurred a few days ago.

Step 2

Spinning a good yarn begins with stretching the truth a bit.
Spinning a good yarn is enhanced when the truth is stretched a little bit. Maybe the man in the picture heard the owl or possibly just saw the bird fly by.

Step 3

Next you need to fib a little bit
Next you need to fib a little bit more. A flying canoe is definitely in the land of make believe.

Step 4

Finally there comes the big lie
Finally there comes the big lie. In this case it is the lake monster.

Pure

The Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine is one of America's most photographed lighthouses
The Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine is one of America’s most photographed lighthouses, photo by author

Pure

The sensory overload at this cherished site on a warm blustery, summer day is almost impossible to describe. One can see from the picture that the visual imprint is terrific. The towering limestone tower set against the rocky coastline of Down East with an active surf is something you just have to experience to fully comprehend and understand.

Then there are the things you can’t see, like the offshore breeze, the warmth of the sun and incredibly delicious smell of the salt air. Ahhhhh, I wish I was there now.

Pure

In Addition

Thanks for the overwhelming response to this week’s photo challenge theme. As a result, I have added some more photos of lighthouses from Maine, plus one from the Gaspe region of Quebec.

The bug light is a tiny lighthouse overlooking the Portland Harbor.
The bug light is a tiny lighthouse overlooking the Portland Harbor.
Further out from the Portland Harbor is the South Portland Lighthouse
Further out from the Portland Harbor is this South Portland Lighthouse, called the breakwater light
Travel up the coast (or  down east as the locals say) and eventually you will come to the Pemaquid Light, which like the Portland Head Light is very much photographed and rendered in paintings
Travel up the coast (or down east as the locals say) and eventually you will come to the Pemaquid Light, which like the Portland Head Light is very much photographed and rendered in paintings
As you travel north along the coast, the lighthouses change shapes. This is the Gaspe Light located at the tip of the Gaspe Penninsula in the Forillon National Park of Canada...a wildly beautiful spot
As you travel north along the coast, the lighthouses change shapes. This is the Gaspe Light located at the tip of the Gaspe Penninsula in the Forillon National Park of Canada…a wildly beautiful spot
A sunset at the Breakwater Light in South Portland
A sunset at the Breakwater Light in South Portland

 

Another Icon of the 60s Passes On

Muhammad Ali in later years after being diagnose with Parkinson's disease
Muhammad Ali in later years after being diagnose with Parkinson’s disease

Death of an Icon

A few days ago Muhammad Ali died at age 74. For years, Ali had battled Parkinson’s Disease, which may have been a contributing factor in his death. What amazes me about the man, is how he defied the Selective Service with his refusal to participate in the military and how he defiantly thumbed his nose at mainstream America with his Islamic name change, yet he still was able to pursue his professional sports career and eventually become a World  Champion. Now matter how you look at his life, it is an amazing story and one of the great cultural phenomena of the twentieth century.

Memories of Cassius Clay

I have a confession to make. I have never been a big fan of professional boxing, for the sport has always been a bit too barbaric for my tastes. Still, this attitude has not stopped me from following the sport, at least to the point, where I know who is fighting who.

And it all started back in 1964, when Cassius Clay took on Sonny Liston. Liston was the champ and most observers thought he would demolish Clay. Clay was commonly known as the “Louisville Lip”, and at the time no one expected such a brazen person to be any good in the ring. Both groups were proven wrong, as Clay demolished Liston in six rounds.

The day after the fight with the support of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

“Writing is like fighting” attributed to Muhammad Ali

However, for me, the most memorable part of the fight was that I listened to the play-by-play action on the radio, for in those days that was how many live sporting events were covered. Radio sports has faded away these days to almost nothing, replaced by the ever present cable TV sports networks. Granted, there are lots of colorful and entertaining sports commentators these days, but nothing can quite replace the mental process the radio listener had to go through, as he (or she) created mental images from the words of the announcer that came poring out from your radio. In a way it is kind of like writing.

Muhammad Ali, the Survivor

Unlike other brash men of his era, Muhammad Ali survived, even after declaring himself a Conscientious Objector to the Vietnam War and joining the church of Islam. This is simply amazing and there is no way to easily explain this except by taking a look at how much admiration our society directs towards sports heroes.

An unique view of the brash young fighter
An unique view of the brash young fighter

Quotes by Muhammad Ali

If you have checked around the web since Muhammad Ali died, you will find many tributes with a frequent observation, how Ali with his quick wit and acid tongue was in reality a forerunner of the rap and hip hop movements that emerged through the final years of the 20th century. Following is a selection of ten quotes that will give you a gist of what these commentators are talking about.

“Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”

“I’m so mean. I make medicine look sick.”

“If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of  you.”

“A man who has no imagination  has no wings.”

“It’s just a  job. Grass, grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

 “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.”

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

“I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”

And of course last but not least is Ali’s famous quote about the butterfly and the bee.

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.”

 

 

Admiration

The front of the San Francisco de Assis Mission in Ranchos de Taos is less familiar than its anterior counterpart, which was made famous by a Georgia O'Keefe painting
The front of the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Ranchos de Taos is less familiar than its posterior counterpart, which was made famous by a Georgia O’Keefe painting. photo by author

The San Francisco de Asis Mission

The San Francisco de Asis Mission is the formal name for the old Spanish mission that takes most of the space in the central plaza of Ranchos de Taos, a small town in northern New Mexico, which is situated right outside Taos. More commonly, the old church is often referred to as the Ranchos de Taos Mission or simply the Ranchos Church. This is one of the few buildings in the world, where the posterior view is better known than the anterior view. The culprit in this case are several early 20th century artists, such as Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe, who made stunning images of the backside, which happens to sit almost adjacent to a major NM state highway. Here is one of the oil paintings of the rear side of the church that Georgia O’Keefe made back in the 30s.

One of several paintings done by Georgia O'keefe in 1929 & 1930 of the Ranchos Church.
One of several paintings done by Georgia O’Keefe in 1929 & 1930 of the Ranchos Church.

Adobe

Adobe is nothing more than mud (with a heavy clay content) mixed with straw. It is common building element used in the third world, but used much less so in a modern industrial society. The ingredients are inexpensive, easy to apply and durable, especially in drier climates. Adobe churches are still found in Northern New Mexico, where every 5 to 7 years, workers gather to apply a new coat of mud and straw to these structures. This old-fashioned type of adobe should not be confused with the numerous cement-coated structures that are painted an earth color in order to resemble a real adobe building. The adobe structures are not limited to churches and can be found all over the region. Original adobe walls are built with mud and straw bricks that are air-dried in the Southwestern desert sun and then covered with a mud and straw stucco mixture. This stucco breaks down after awhile , so it has to be re-applied every six years or so.

My Admiration

My admiration comes in the way that modern builders and craftsmen are able to keep an old building tradition, despite the advances and onslaught of modern civilization.
Admiration

Groundhog Day (A Time for Taking Advice from Animals)

scene from the movie, Groundhog Day
scene from the movie, Groundhog Day (Are they looking into the future together?)

Another Year Gone By

I can’t believe it, already February has already arrived and now it is Groundhog Day. Currently, the weather out here in central Montana is a mixed bag. This morning was bright and sunny, but in the afternoon show squalls flew in from the west and at present are depositing a very thin layer of frozen precipitation along the banks of the Missouri River. I’m not quite sure what this means, but if my memory serves me right, Punxsutawney Phil always emerged from his winter hideout first thing in the morning. So it goes to say that the early morning weather determines the groundhog’s prediction; at least that’s the way it was in the movie. So I guess out here on the high plains we should expect another six weeks of winter weather, even though the ground is bare and the ten day forecast is for above average temperatures. Has anyone informed Punxsutawney Phil or any of his cohorts about Global Warming? Maybe, in the near future the possibility of global warming could be worked into the groundhog’s forecast.

Over the years the popularity of Groundhog Day has risen remarkedly
Over the years the popularity of Groundhog Day has risen remarkably.

The Holiday

February 2nd is a bit of anomaly as far as national holidays go, for not only is an animal involved in this holiday, but the animal involved (that’s the woodchuck) is able to give us (the human population) some long term advice that we might not be able to discern on our own. Considering the state of the human race today, this is no great feat, for mankind seems troubled with all kinds of modern malaise and could do with some good common sense advice. If you don’t believe me, all you have to is watch a few minutes of our presidential primaries. That should relieve all doubt.

the groundhog awaits his special holiday,
the groundhog awaits his special holiday,