Thursday, November 22, 2012


Jennie A. Brownscombe (1850-1936), Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal
Edward Winslow (1595 – 1655) traveled on the Mayflower in 1620. He was one of several senior leaders and also later governor of Plymouth Colony.Although the following report was not written as a prayer, it reads as one.
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, ... but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, ...many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation ...

And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

Friday, November 16, 2012

I've got just the thing

What follows is a snippet of dialogue from the movie Chocolat.

The movie opens with a shot of a small French village in Burgundy. It is February, the sky is grey,  and a cold north wind blows leaves down a deserted cobble stone street. All the doors are closed, the windows shuttered.

A stranger, a dark haired woman, and her daughter arrive. Vianne Rocher, is the stranger. She proceeds to set up shop as a chocolatier. A chocolatier is not just a chocolate maker, but an artiste, one who makes chocolate seem a most beautiful piece of art. And Vianne makes the most extraordinary confectionaries. Each chocolat is special, each chocolat has its own qualities, each chocolat has a story.

Her timing could not be worse, for it is the season of lent in this most traditional of French villages. Vianne works hard to open the shop. Meanwhile, a parade of curious town characters come to inspect her delicacies. Each of them have a story to tell.

Vianne and a Cranky Old Woman 
[An old woman enters the shop and inspects Vianne's chocolats]

Vianne Rocher: What do you see?
Armande Voizin: Not a damned thing.

Vianne Rocher: Come on, it's a game. What do you see?
Armande Voizin: I see a cranky old woman too tired to play games.
Vianne Rocher: Oh. I've got just the thing for you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Duty, Honor, Country

“Duty, Honor, Country,”  is the motto of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

These three words set the impossible standard that required former four-star general David Petraeus, then Director of the CIA to resign after disclosure of affair was made public. Petraeus was, for those who don't know, the person who in 2007 brought Iraq back from the brink of disaster after he assumed command of U.S. forces. He is considered by many as the best military strategist since General Dwight David Eisenhower.

The affair was with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. The FBI discovered the relationship after monitoring Petraeus' emails. Investigators were alerted that Broadwell may have had access to Petraeus' personal email account.

I am reminded a similar situation during World War II when rumors surfaced of an alleged affair between General Dwight David Eisenhower and his wartime driver, Kay Summersby. Thank goodness, then cooler heads prevailed and Eisenhower remained as Commander in Chief of European Operations.

Another West Point Graduate, General Douglas MacArthur, famously said:
Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
I hope that someday the American people can have the courage to stand behind those who have given so much in service to their country, the faith to see it though troubled times, and the hope to believe that brighter days are ahead. 

Sad, that it has come to a different conclusion for Petraeus.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Left or Right

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume Two (1840), Book One, Chapter II.
In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.

The Old Man would suggest that both political parties attempt to define the debate by definition. Thus, whether one is left or right depends on who is standing next to you.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bitch, bitch, bitch

Bitch - (verb) Complain.

Any gender can bitch. Bitching is an activity not exclusive to women. Men can and do it all the time. It's just that when men do it, it becomes a whine. Whine, whine, whine - sounds more pathetic, and it is. Do you want some cheese with that whine?

The old man is not apolitical. In point of fact, he is intensely political. But, nobody listens to an old man. Moreover, he finds that 95% of the people out there have already made up their minds about who to vote for. No matter what you say, nothing makes a difference.

All he has to say is VOTE!

Then quit your bitchen and whinin'. And let's get back to work as Americans to make this a better country

*If you are not a native English speaker then you might not know that a bitch is a female dog. Cur is the male dog. Bitch is also a cranky, assertive female, the young female counter to a grumpy old man.  It is a few other things too, which I need not repeat here.