Reblog: Why Do We Remember the Casualties of War?

Denzil Walton, of Discovering Belgium, has penned a thoughtful essay prior to Armistice/Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the US) next month, on why do we remember the casualties of war.

Some of his points include:

  • Does it remind us of the horrors of war?
  • Does remembrance help avoid future conflicts?
  • Does it express our gratitude?
Old Guard Tomb Soldier at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

October is Virginia Wine Month

The whole month seems wine inspired:

Early morning air has the effervescence of freshly open champagne while the damp earth can smell like the must of freshly pressed grapes.

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Green leaves, backlit by a barely risen sun, seem translucent like a white wine bottle.

As the sun rises, its light enriches from the pale straw of a chenin blanc to the richer hues of an oaked chardonnay before washing the late afternoon earth in the rich gold of a sauterne dessert wine.

Leaves turn the color of merlot purple, oak cork brown, aged riesling yellow, tawny port orange, pinot noir copper.

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I’ll sit outside to soak up the sun and warmth so that I can play it back in my mind to warm myself during the dark and cold of winter grey skies.

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Live in the Time of Coronavirus: Pt 19–Waiting for Someone at the Hospital

My husband and I are at an age where going to the hospital for tests is an occupational hazard of growing old. From blood work to emergency room visits, we have waited anywhere from chairs perched along the walls of busy emergency room hallways, where we dodge patient-filled guerneys and phalanxes of medical staff to private waiting rooms with a television and light refreshments. These are part of the experience within the University of Virginia medical complex.

Then came COVID…

If the patient is having a procedure which requires anesthesia, he or she may be permitted to have someone accompany them into the hospital. Otherwise you can drop the patient off or wait outside on a bench.

Today, I waited on a bench. Fortunately it was a lovely fall day, about 70 degrees with a light breeze. There were benches in both shady and sunny areas. I don’t know what the answer is if somebody has to go to the bathroom while they are waiting. Fortunately after a two hour wait, we left before I had to find out .

I was wearing my mask which meant my glasses kept getting fogged. I could not read very long through the foggy lenses which meant most of my entertainment was taking off my glasses to watch them defog then putting them on again and try to read an email before they once again got too cloudy.

Occasionally I would get up and walk around the front of the hospital and the building across the street. No smoking signs are prominently displayed every where on the hospital campus including the parking garages. I smelled cigarette smoke on the stair of the parking garage and saw stamped out stubs on the cement between the parked cars. One 200+ pound woman was lighting up while sitting on a bench beneath two large Smoking Prohibited signs. While she was smoking, she obviously was not wearing a mask.

Bench where the woman was smoking during my first walk.–Note the cigarette butts under the bench.

The shuttle between the hospital and a nearby medical park runs every twenty minutes as does the JAUNT bus which offers point to point service for people with mobility or vision issues.

Valet parking has been replaced with electric golf carts that will take people to/from the parking garage and between the hospital and the Emily Couric Cancer Center across the street. Hospital staff in scrubs walk back and forth between the two buildings to go to the cafeteria, take a break, or carryout missions that are not discernible to the idle watcher.

Poem for the end of a war

Some people continue to deny the truth, no matter what war or conflict is being fought. My least favorite group are the Holocaust deniers.

Pacific Paratrooper

B-29 air raid damage in Hachioji, Japan, 1 Aug. 1945

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

GI hooks a tow rope to a Type 97 Te-Ke tank during cleanup of the Okinawa battlefields at the end of WWII in 1945.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

U.S. and Japanese soldiers collaborate to rebuild Japan

Someone, broom…

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Sandals in the Graveyard

Strands of curling grass

anointed my sandal-clad feet

with cool dampness

where the sun had not yet risen

high enough to dry the dew

covering the tombstones and grass.

No sound disturbed the

absolute silence.

My only companions were

the imagined feet of

priests and pilgrims,

friars and nuns

as we strode though

graveyards

and holy places

clad in sandals,

wet from October’s

early morning dew.

Thoughts from Election Days Past

This essay from 2018 seemed appropriate for today, amidst the many controversies swirling around the 2020 election.

e-Quips

I am old enough to remember past election days when there were concerns about the candidates’ religion, marital status, age, and race.   Many of the fears from those other elections proved to be irrelevant, but at the time, they were real concerns for some voters.  (Alibi–these are my recollections and may or may not be accurate.)

“I am not the Catholic candidate for President.”

Religion.  John F. Kennedy was not only the youngest man elected as President, he was also the first Roman Catholic candidate.  Many voters were concerned about the Pope calling the shots if he won the Presidency.  Kenndy had to address that issue during the campaign.  Mitt Romney face similar questions about being  Mormon when he ran as a Presidential candidate in 2012.

Divorce. Gerald Ford ran for re-election in 1976, following his first term where he became president upon the resignation of Richard Nixon in…

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Water for Tea

I like coffee but am essentially a coffee wuss. I get the Blonde Coffee at Starbucks to put it in some perspective.

French press coffee usually reminds me of waste water. If the coffee is strong enough to take the enamel off of your teeth or so dark that cream and sugar can not touch it , then I usually order hot tea.

Most restaurants are much more likely to offer you a refill on coffee than they are to remember that you had asked for more hot water so you can make a second cup of tea.

If they are reluctant to provide additional hot water, why do they bring you a single, undersized tiny pitcher of hot water that will not fill your mug.

This is the how full the tiny metal pitcher of hot water was able to fill my mug. I could have used the tea bag again but nobody asked me if I wanted anymore water. Would a larger metal pitcher be too much to hope for?

The coffee and tea cost the same price

To receive the same cupful would also be nice.

How Do You Self-Identify?

In the 1990’s I worked at the Ft Myer Library on Ft Myer in Arlington, Virginia. The library was part of Recreation Division, that included Arts & Crafts, Automotive Arts & Crafts, Outdoor Recreation, Gyms, and the Community Center.

Are you old/young or fat/thin or handsome/ugly or
happen to be some of those things?

One of the Arts and Crafts instructors was a marvelous artist. He was also a husband and father, African-American, a civil servant , and US Army vet with a substance abuse problem. He always referred to himself as disabled vet because that was how he saw himself, despite the other terms he could have selected.

Labels can be self-defeating.

Most of us have more than one label we could use to self-identify and other characteristics that we treat as less important such as

a) body size

b) race

c) physical attributes like height or hair color

d) perceived impediments like wealth, opportunity, or physical challenges

e) political or religious affiliation

f) marital and/or parental status

g) profession or lack thereof

h) socio-economic level

How do you self-identify? Are you defined by your race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, political affiliation, profession? How you self-identify may tell us more about how you perceive yourself than anything else.

Reality to America, Come in Please

In Fairfax, Virginia, some Trump supporters held a demonstration outside an early voting place on Friday. A silver haired woman said, “We’re demonstrating because we don’t want America to become Marxist.”

What if Democrats demonstrated at a Trump rally, saying they wanted to keep America from becoming Fascist or totalitarian or a dictatorship?  His supporters would be livid and say this was not true.


Blinded by lies

Both sides are widely separated on how they view the other side aka the Enemy or at best the opposition.

Let’s at least try to retain a modicum of logic when referring to the other political party.

Lament for Ruth

JeanMarie is my friend and a North Carolina based poet. IMHO this one of her finest poems yet–timely, poignant and worthy of being shared. It is written from the heart.

This Breaking News has broken
my heart, my hope.

Justice, my grief is suspended in fear.

What is to become of the poor, the abused, and the desperate
with overburdened wombs?

What is to become of the immigrants and the asylum seekers
caught in wire nets?

Read the rest on JeanMarie’s page.

September 17-Constitution Day

Constitution Day commemorates the day in September 17, 1787, that “the Founding Fathers signed the most influential document in American history, the United States Constitution. This document established the framework of our government and the rights and freedoms that “We the People” enjoy today.”

<a href="<p style="font-size: 0.9rem;font-style: italic;"><img style="display: block;" src="https://live.staticflickr.com/191/498309798_8c38532db8_b.jpg&quot; alt="US Constitution"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/69356033@N00/498309798">"US Constitution"</a><span> by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/69356033@N00">Jonathan Thorne CC</a></span> is licensed under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html&quot; style="margin-right: 5px;">CC BY-NC 2.0</a><a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html&quot; target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="display: inline-block;white-space: none;margin-top: 2px;margin-left: 3px;height: 22px !important;"><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://search.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc_icon.svg&quot; /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://search.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-by_icon.svg&quot; /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="https://search.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-nc_icon.svg&quot; /></a>

Many of us believe that today the Constitution is under assault. Use today to reflect that all of our elected leaders, military, and civil servants take an oath to uphold the Constitution. We do not promise loyalty to any person or political party.

I took that oath in November 1981 when I first became a civil servant. My husband and father both took that oath when they joined the military. My husband took it again when he became a civil servant following retirement. Our president took that oath on January 20, 2017.

From Ben’s Guide

According to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, a President’s term of office begins at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on January 20th of the year following an election. In order to assume his or her duties, the President-elect must recite the Oath of Office. The Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The President-elect places the left hand on the Bible, raises the right hand, and takes the Oath as directed by the Chief Justice. The Oath, as stated in Article II, Section I, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Do you think he has kept that promise?

Test your knowledge of the US Constitution with this relatively easy 10 question quiz.

I got 9 out of 10 and over thought the question I missed.

The Harpist in the Glen

​As soon as Eve plucked the first string
the leaves began to whisper overhead
ripples of pleasure rustling from branch to twig.

Butterflies drifted from flower to flower weaving a melody only they could hear

When the music paused so did the leaves.

The birds began chirping to fill the quiet

Eve paused to spin to folk tale while a newly spun spider web vibrated in the ripples when she resumed playing.

The cicadas and one elderly lady in purple accompanied her with their voices.

Summer Slipping away on September Sighs of Covid Exhaustion

In Central Virginia, we have had a rainy August and September. The grass looks spring-time green while some of the tree leaves are yellowed and too weary to hang on for October’s spectacular burst of color.

The temps and humidity have both faded from a blast furnace like slap to a gentle caress. The 90s have sullenly slipped away leaving a mixture of low 80s and full range of 70s in their wake. The dew point has followed from the tropical realms to a more comfortable 50 to 60 percent.

Fall mums are replacing impatiens and begonias in front yard pots and farm stands. The local news has advertised the first corn maze at a pumpkin farm. Pumpkin signs are everywhere from pumpkin flavored lattes at Starbucks to pumpkin infused pancakes at First Watch. The first house in our neighborhood put out it’s ceramic jack-o-lantern.

The season of peaches is waning while the apple and cider season is waxing strongly. Carter’s Mountain, a local orchard, has just implemented a ticket reservation system (with charges for Friday- Sunday) to control the crowds who come to pick apples, drink cider or wine, catch the view, or shop in the country store.

The few remaining cornfields are brown and withered with most ears already picked.

The deer are coming out earlier as twilight emerges sooner each day. Dawn is also later as we burn less day light each day. Soon the rut will begin and unfortunately, car struck deer will provide easy meals for the raptors that soar overhead on the autumn currents coming off the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The dogwood leaves look crinkled and weary as the blight continues to assault each native tree. The red dogwood berries shining glossily on many trees, despite the lichen covered bark and tattered remains of desiccated leaves trembling on each fragile branch.

The local economy seems to be picking up as the students return bringing a spike in our COVID rate with them. How long UVA can continue to hold smaller, more socially distant in-person classes is a close hold secret. The administration has not shared what the threshold might be that could trigger a switch to only online learning.

COVID fatigue has set in long ago with the added stress of the upcoming flu season and the unlikelihood of being able to continue the outdoors dining and meeting space that have been the norm since last Spring.

This has been the first fall in a long time where I have had or taken the time to notice summer’s passing and the slow arrival of fall on September sighs.

I feel as weary as the yellowed leaves

but still hanging on to see

if tomorrow will bring a better day.

Happy Programmer Day, September 12

September 12 is the 256th day of the year so it is celebrated as International Programmer Day.

The number 256 is distinct to programmers. Represented by an eight-bit byte 256 equals 2 to the eighth power.  This digit makes it the highest power of two that is less than 365. When translated to binary code, the day reads 1 0000 0000.

http://”Binary” by mikecogh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Way back in the 7th grade, I got my only D on a report card in math. We were studying Base 6 that quarter and I could not get my heard wrapped around Base 6 or even what the significance of Base 10 (which is out normal way of counting) was. I eventually learned Base 6 and Base 2 (which is binary).

Flash forward a decade and a half to library school. I took my first computer class where the professor tried to drill the binary system (a computer is either off-0 or on-1). Because of my 7th grade D, I was the only one in the class that understood what he was talking about. I became a systems librarian and while never a programmer, I had a reasonably easy time understanding the theory behind how computers worked. Sometimes you initial failures can be the source of your later triumphs.

Now to count to 10 in binary

01

10

11

110

111

1000

1001

1010

1011

1 0000

What is 11?

Ponderings

 

Hopefully still the Home of the Brave, but now the Land of the Me.

AmerICAN.  Does this mean I CAN do whatever I want whether it benefits me or anyone else?

We heard two old men talking loudly in an Indian restaurant about the health benefits of being vegan.  Guess it does not help with hearing or cognitive awareness because one of the old gentlemen walked into the ladies’ room and left the seat up after he was finished.  (At least he was tidy.)

The Federal government was making serious attempts to curb telework in 2019 and before March 2020.  Funny how COVID can prove that government employees (for the most part) can easily and successfully work from home.

Susan B. Anthony is one Trump pardon that  most  people can easily support .

If  the Right were wrong and the Left were right -then would up be down?

From the-ancient-world-teemed-with-birds-now-we-think-with-them?:  Aristophanes takes the bird-as-metaphor to comic extremes. In The Birds, there is an outbreak of ornithomania (bird madness) in Athens, and everyone wants to take on bird names, sing bird songs, buy wings and join the birds in their kingdom in the sky (which was called Cloud Cuckoo Land – that’s where that phrase comes from).  Are we for the bird now?  Did one fly over the White House?

The next president will be a 70 something white man who has previously run for public office.

Big Pharma has been in the news for jacking up prices on drugs.   According to USA  Today on August 10, the Federal  Government has spent  more than $9 billion spread among 7 pharmaceutical companies to come up with a vaccine.  Trump has tried to promise a vaccine before a “special  day” if  we know what he means…  It’s a pleasant surprise to see 9 pharmaceutical companies sign a pact that they will not  sell the vaccine before it is safe and follows CDC guidelines. These companies are

  • Pfizer
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck
  • Novavax
  • Sanofi
  • Moderna
  • AstraZenica
  • BioNTech