Blue Moon August 20 Not Two Full Moons In A Month

D's Writing, History, More Photos, Richmond, Walking And Losing Weight


I was hiking downtown last evening and admiring the full moon. It’s called a Blue Moon and not because there are two full moons in August. There will be only one full moon this month. But there will be four full moons this summer, an unusual occurence. And the third is called a Blue Moon so that the last can still be called the Late Moon.

NPR and StarDate led us down the wrong celestial path in 1980 according to the article I just read by suggesting that the term meant there were two full moons in a month.

In any case, it was a beautiful moon with wispy clouds framing it and a cool breeze to make watching it more enjoyable.

Walking with the Central Virginia Trailblazers is always fun and I look forward to being with them and sometimes meeting new people. Last night I walked with a lady who has recently joined our group. Her name is Chris and she and I share several things in common. We both have degrees in English Literature and we both have worked in the field of social work.

Last night we also spend time viewing a painting on a rock adjoining Belle Isle of a skull about 8 or 10 feet in circumference that commemorates the Grateful Dead band. Apparently they used to party here after concerts back in the 1980’s. Here is a FB page about it.

Thanks to Jim Dimmette for this photo of me and the gang.
So it was a fun evening and thanks to Jim Dimmette, our group leader, for organizing the 4 mile hike and sharing some local lore with us.

Central VA Trailblazers / Bear’s Den Hostel & Harper’s Ferry Trip

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We went up north this past weekend to Harper’s Ferry for some sightseeing and hiking. The weather was very accommodating and we took lots of photos.

Here’s a look at the hike to Raven Rock and back. It is described as strenuous due to the 1500 ft. vertical gain and the very rocky trail on the AT. I was happy to discover that wicking materials really do work in the cool weather. Listening to the wind in the trees I often hiked alone, at my own pace, happy to be among the trees on a trail that has seen many amazing hikers on their way to Georgia or Maine.

Earlier we all went to the town of Harper’s Ferry and had some food and drink. There’s lots to see here and they do reenactments of the John Brown drama that precipitated the American Civil War. There are many old, stone buildings that were painstakingly built with materials from the surrounding mountains. I was drawn to the foundation of an old church on the side of a steep hill overlooking the river and mountains. It has been nearly destroyed during the Civil War, later rebuilt and then left for another location closer to the town.

It was a fun trip. I enjoyed the company and the many opportunities for photo captures. Here are some pics!

A really good, antiwar song by Bob Dylan entitled, appropriately, John Brown. Mr Brown, of course, was trying to precipitate conflict over the institution of slavery. It’s a tragic flaw in the human character that it cannot give up the absurd without a lot of bloodshed. And war.

New Construction Projects Dot The Washington DC Skyline/ Stop The Spending!

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When we were up in Washington DC earlier this year we went to [[wiki:Arlington National Cemetery]]. It’s a solemn and very spiritual place to visit and we spent a good deal of time there walking around the rows and rows of grave sites. We toured the house that used to belong to Robert E. Lee and I wrote at the time how surprised I was to see a photo of our current president in the bookcase with the historical books about our nation’s past and all the terrible things that have happened to it. It’s really a miracle we survived the tearing apart of The Civil War.

And as we walked through the beautiful trees and lawns I looked down over the city and was surprised once again to see all the construction projects dotting the horizon. I had never seen so many huge cranes in just one place. And it reminded me that our government continues to grow and provide great jobs to many in this area while throughout the country unemployment remains stuck over eight percent and 23 million Americans are unemployed or trying to survive on part-time jobs.

America is suffering just as it has so many times in the past. And our people are suffering and dying while the government continues to rake in money we do not have to spend in so many ways. The government cannot employ those 23 million Americans but it can make it easier for jobs to be created. It can stifle its appetite for our money and let us use it for the things we need. Raising taxes on the rich is not going to solve the problem we have in this country. It will simply lead to more spending.

And more cranes pointed towards the sky in places like DC. I’m tired of all the silliness. I’m tired of government picking winners and losers. Let us live our lives, create new things and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Millions of Americans can and will do all that is necessary if the government will just get out of the way.



In a way we are still fighting The Civil War. It’s still all about racial equality, state’s rights, and violent disagreements over everything! But it’s far more complicated now. We have come a long way towards establishing a level playing field for all. But instead of rejoicing in this there always seems to be another reason to continue the war and spend more money.

We can’t continue like this. The country will come apart this time. Or some foreign adversity will take advantage of our disunion and end life as we know it for all of us. We need to get it together and be strong. We need to start working together. And I don’t see the current president encouraging this at all. I don’t know that the other side will do any better. But, at least there’s a chance it will happen.  And, I know we need to stop using the tired, old dialogues of the past and think of some new things to say to each other.  It’s all just so, boring.

The political life of the nation rolls on. And silent ghosts look down from the hills, waiting, and wondering, no doubt, what we are doing to the nation they served and, many times, died to preserve.

Paul Ryan And Friends At Deep Run HS / Photos Of The Pols / Virginia In The News

Blogs or Posts, D's Writing, Favorites, History, More Photos, Richmond

So Virginia is a battleground state this time around and Paul Ryan was nearby this morning at a local high school. I decided to head up that way to get some photos knowing that I would not hear anything new but wondering about the vibe and hoping I wouldn’t have to stand in one spot for more than two hours.

Well, I was disappointed in that last hope because I stood in one spot for 2 hours and 30 minutes. It was about thirty feet from the podium in the gymnasium surrounded by media types and uplifted basketball nets. Early entrees got to sit in the bleachers but they also were confined to viewing the butt-end of various politicians (for the most part). I did see the full frontal versions and managed to take some good shots of the Republican crew.

First of all let me say that I am not a Republican or a Democrat. Or, even a Libertarian, for that matter. I have views that would find homes in each of these parties but do not have the will to fashion myself into an apparatchik. I am socially liberal but definitely worried about a 16 trillion dollar debt (and no budget plans for the past three years) and eventual (or not so eventual) hyperinflation and anarchy of various sorts.

I like order and am fond of our founding fathers, especially George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who lived in these parts and left us with a love for liberty and all the problems freedom can engender. I love Virginia. And I hope we can get our house in order so we remain free and all our savings are not wiped out. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are people out there who don’t really care about this and are just hoping and praying the whole house of cards comes tumbling down so we can start over again. It may even be the case that the current resident of the White House who has a distinctly anti-colonial upbringing harbors some unconscious wishes in this direction. I must admit that if my ancestors were subjected to slavery I might have similar thoughts. But they weren’t (either were Obama’s). They were undoubtedly persecuted by some king from wherever and so I’m not in favor of European sovereignty! Even in its present incarnation (socialism!). I want to be free, dammit! And the past is gone. Let’s live in the present and prepare for the future.

So here are some photos. The first one is of The Honorable William T. “Bill” Bolling, Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia.



This is Bill Bolling’s compassionate expression (from what I can tell). It’s slightly scary and I wouldn’t want to be subjected to it at close range.


Bill spoke for awhile and then we had a speech from the Congressman from the 1st district in Virginia, Rob Wittman. He’s a reliably conservative guy but not as handsome as the following speaker, our governor, Robert F. McDonnell or “Bob” as he is known to the general population.

Here’s another photo of Bob. I really think he has some good looks. I’m not attracted to him because I don’t swing that way but I was surprised because he doesn’t look quite as good on the tube. Hopefully this photo demonstrates his attractiveness. He speaks well too. He’s a little short. But nobody is perfect. And there’s nothing wrong with being a little person either.

At this point I had been standing in the same spot for a long time (hours) and was doing little exercises while trying not to touch the people around me. I was also thanking the Baby Jesus that I had somehow found the willpower to lose fifty pounds and wondering (I must admit with a little shame) if a tax of the general population based on weight instead of wealth might do something to whip the country into shape and feed the insatiable desire of government to spend money it has not earned.

Surprisingly, at this moment we had a little break when I would have predicted Bob ending his speech with a rousing introduction of Paul (Ryan). But he just left and there was this space (in time) when the audience (perhaps) wondered if Bob didn’t want to introduce Paul because he (Bob) had not been chosen to be VP and Paul had been chosen. I was wondering about this anyway (while doing a little exercise to loosen my lower back muscles that I hoped would not be misinterpreted by the lovely lass standing next to me). But Paul Ryan did appear after a few minutes and he gave a thoughtful talk about our current situation. He didn’t really whip people up but, maybe, that’s a good thing. We need thought at this juncture, not emotion, and one can only remember certain characters in history who were good at stirring things up but lacked the wisdom to do anything productive with the end result.

Here are some photos of Mr. Paul Ryan in action.



This is Paul looking into the future in sort of a dreamy way. Maybe he is imagining his new life as VP up there in the Observatory. I like folks who can dream.



Here is the standard Paul Ryan “look”. He’s definitely a fit guy. His hairline is almost too good (are we in Munster territory here?) and he likes to talk about fishing and hunting. I’m thinking an encounter with a bear in the woods would be awesome and probably lead to Daniel Boone references in the history books.


Here’s a closeup of Paul demonstrating how tough he can be when coming face to face with a bear or dealing with the difficult problems we face and will solve (he promises) in the coming years. Let’s face it. We face very difficult problems. Bear size problems. But it’s clear Paul is in shape and ready to go. I’m not so sure about our present VP who may be in the early stages of dementia. What happens if he is called upon to be the President! I may have to go out into the woods and live with the bears.



And here’s my last photo of Mr. Ryan vividly depicting his blue (gray?) eyes and the matching blue shirt along with an “OMG!” expression. Eyes wide open often depict surprise. This could be the moment when he first sees the bear. Or, it could be one of those moments after the election when he suddenly arrives at an understanding of the depths of the trouble we are in. The bottomless morass. I have watched a parade of candidates talking, talking, talking since 1960 and no matter what they say, or how good they appear to be, the path has continued to go from pillar to post and greater debt, greater depravity and more hopelessness in regards to the state of our great nation.
I wish you well, young man. I pray for you. And I am happy to say that I some point I will, as will we all, leave this place for a spiritual realm of greater freedom and love. If you get this job it will break your heart. Read some Shakespeare when you have a moment. And remember to go out in the woods and listen to the sounds of creatures who will be here long after we all have departed.

National No Bra Day / July 9, 2012

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The bra was invented around 1888 by [[wiki:Herminie Cadolle]], a French woman, who built a thriving business around the female anatomy. So, back when the America was being settled and women were traveling in covered wagons westward through the mountains and over the prairies they didn’t wear bras!

And through most of human history they didn’t wear them either. So are they really a good idea? Maybe they’re just an aberration. I can remember reading The World Book Encyclopedia as a young person and admiring the clothing styles of Egyptian woman back when they were building the pyramids. Some of you know what I’m talking about because their notion about dressing the female torso was 180 degrees from ours!

They had it right and we have only gone downhill from there these many centuries. But all was not lost even in the pioneer days of this country and it was only before the dawn of the 20th century when France (who would have suspected them?!) completed the subjugation of the female form.

Well, some people need support and that’s fine. If you need a cane, eye glasses, back brace or special shoes you should wear them. But if you are young and in shape and don’t need an item why should you be forced to wear it?

Because there are crazy people out there! That’s why. There’s no other reason. Unfortunately we have to gear up with our pepper spray and ninja shoes when we go out. But today the brave ones may be out there celebrating and I’m thinking maybe it’s a good time to go out and take some photos. Except, it’s hot and the students are on holiday from their campus activities.

So my only suggestion would be to move the date! Next year let’s have National No Bra Day in October when there will be much happening at the U and the air will be cool next to the skin and the evenings full of excitement!



Memorial Day 2012 / First Lt. Travis Manion / Thank You

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Tom Manion: Why They Serve—’If Not Me, Then Who?’

I served in the military for 30 years. But it was impossible to fully understand the sacrifices of our troops and their families until April 29, 2007, the day my son, First Lt. Travis Manion, was killed in Iraq.

Travis was just 26 years old when an enemy sniper’s bullet pierced his heart after he had just helped save two wounded comrades. Even though our family knew the risks of Travis fighting on the violent streets of Fallujah, being notified of his death on a warm Sunday afternoon in Doylestown, Pa., was the worst moment of our lives.

Arlington National Cemetery April 2012


The Virginia War Memorial



The Virginia War Memorial sits peacefully on a hill overlooking Richmond and the James River. I love to go there in the evening and take photos of the hills and valley below. And I love to walk through the memorial, as well, and look at the names etched in glass. The light is always doing wonderful things. It plays with the marble and glass in gentle ways.

Our heroes are here. When you think of someone who has passed away they know your thoughts and feelings. When you read someone’s name on a vivid etching in a piece of glass they know you are thinking of them.

“I was that person once. That was my name. And now I hear you call out to me. I feel your sorrow. But my pain is gone. I am well. I am more alive than I ever was before. I passed through the gate.”

“Blessings to all. Fight the good fight.”

And so I feel them for awhile and then move on to another thought, another feeling and go down the road. Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I feel that someone is looking at me. I hope it is one of them. Our heroes.

May we all live up to their promise. Or, at least, try.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge / Hands / Skydog

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Riverrock ended Sunday with a performance by Skydog near historic Tredegar Ironworks. I couldn’t help but think about the irony (no pun intended) of this peaceful gathering at a very important war material production site during the Civil War. Much of it has been preserved in the museum, the old brick walls, the water wheel and, of course, the railroad bridges that are still in use today. But the insanity and terror of human slavery is gone.

Men fought to their dying moments to preserve these things. And, today, there is much we fight for that will also pass away. It’s a shame we cannot separate out the things that are not worth this effort and get rid of them. Freedom, yes. Liberty and our independence, definitely, but not laws about marijuana or the marital preferences of individuals. When the President can write about using weed in his formative years and people are reading his book while sitting in jail for selling it something is wrong.

People were walking around the area this weekend with drinks in their hands. It was a giant outdoor party. But there was a time I can remember well when you couldn’t buy liquor on Sunday here in Virginia. There was another time not too long before that when you couldn’t buy it on any day! When someone’s religion imposes itself on society in general in these ways there’s always going to be trouble. Your church is over there! Don’t make me attend it.

So the folks who were watching this concert enjoyed themselves in the shadow of so much past history. But many things can still be improved and hopefully will before I leave the scene. Here are some photos of Skydog, the water wheel and the railroad bridge. The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is “Hands”.

I have this photo of their lead singer and you can see his hand complete with wedding ring. Shouldn’t everyone have the right to wear one of those?


Walking In Washington DC / Photos Of Historic Monuments

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A couple of weeks ago Betsy and I were up in DC and took a long walk. Historic monuments were all around us. We left the hotel and large buildings with reflective skins. The first thing of note we saw was a passageway with a large, granite sphere appearing to be suspended in it. Then we reached the monument of Marines raising the flag. This lies next to Arlington National Cemetery were we spent a long time. Then we crossed the bridge to The Lincoln Memorial and had lunch before going to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Following this we viewed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial before walking around the Tidal Basin to The Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

On a beautiful day, low humidity, cool, and lots of sun, there is much to enjoy here. We should take time to think about our history as we move forward and remember those who sacrificed so much for our country.

The Month Of May / Francis Quarles / Emblemes (1635) /

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Let all thy joys be as the month of May,
And all thy days be as a marriage day.
~Francis Quarles

It’s very cool out early on this Friday morning. It reminds me of Virginia Beach on a day like the one depicted in this photo. May is one of my favorite months. Like October, it is a mixture of many elements around these parts. And the humidity and bugs have not quite gotten here.

So I found this quote about May and see it is something done by an Englishman many years ago. Francis Quarles (Quarles rhymes with Charles).
He apparently enjoyed the month of May as well.

Francis Quarles was a seventeenth century poet best known for his Emblemes book. Each “emblem” consisted of a paraphrase from a passage of Scripture, expressed in ornate and metaphorical language, followed by passages from the Christian Fathers, and concluding with an epigram of four lines. There were also engravings which he did not do. But he may have modified some of them. So he combined different elements of artistic expression and was very popular with the masses in his time. Better poets. . . Donne, Herbert, Crashaw and others, were impressed, in some sense, by this.

What is more impressive to me is that he and his wife, Ursula, had eighteen children together!

So, in our world, Quarles could easily have been a successful blogger, or, he and his wife could have had a reality program like The Duggar’s 19 Kids and Counting! On a more serious note (is any of this serious? I’m not sure) one of Quarles descendants was Langston Hughes, the celebrated author and poet during the Harlem Renaissance.

Clearly this writer practiced what he preached and every day (or, at least, quite a few of them) was a day to celebrate his marriage to Ursula! She wrote a book about him when he died, too. That’s impressive.

So, while Francis Quarles was not the most talented guy in the world he managed to be an artist who is remembered centuries later. How many of us will be remembered and written about in the year 2400? He was popular with the masses and he had a devoted wife.

But he was not happy when he died. He was accused of being a papist. Controversy surrounded him, depressed him, and, in fact, made him refuse the help of a doctor who was a Catholic. So he died. But then, he probably would have died anyway, given the nature of medical practices during that time. And it would have hurt a lot more.

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial / President Obama And Robert E. Lee Together At Last

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During our visit to DC we made a solemn journey to Arlington National Cemetery and walked up the path to visit [[wiki:Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial]]. It is undergoing some renovation following the earthquake last year.



President Obama has recently added information about himself to the official biographies of every past president (except Gerald Ford) since Calvin Coolidge at

When I heard this I was not surprised because while we were in The Robert E. Lee Memorial overlooking Arlington National Cemetery I noticed a familiar face in the bookcase containing books about Lee.  The President continues his march through American history!


Man, this guy really does get around! President Obama and Robert E. Lee together at last!


Scenic Sunday / Washington DC Spring Tulips

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The tulip and the butterfly
Appear in gayer coats than I:
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, worms, and flowers exceed me still.
~Isaac Watts


[[wiki:Isaac Watts]] was a theologian and a philosopher.  My reason for liking him is that he led the way for inclusion of new songs in the Protestant worship service.   New poetry, in fact, put to music.  And, he wrote about logic.  A contemporary of John Locke, Watts was later a subject of C.S. Peirce, the American philosopher and originator of Pragmatism here in the U.S.

I’m reading about the history of Pragmatism and actually tried to write about it a few weeks ago in a post about Jonathan Edwards.  So my line of characters now runs from Isaac Watts to Wallace Stevens.  That should keep the blogger busy for awhile.


Scenic Sunday

Ferdinand Magellan Died On This Date April 27, 1521 / Planetary Resources Launched This Week

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Ferdinand Magellan died on this date in 1521 after traveling three-quarters of the way around the world.  He got caught up in a tribal dispute in the Philippines and took a poisoned arrow.  His men left him to die as they boogied out of there.  A few of them actually made the rest of the journey and became the first explorers to travel ALL THE Way around our little planet.  Congratulations. 

Ferdinand Magellan.  Dead. . . 491 years ago today. 

I was thinking about Ferdy while reading this report from Mashable about an organization  formed this week to mine asteroids.  The venture, Planetary Resources is the asteroid-mining company launched Tuesday in Seattle, with backing from Microsoft and Google billionaires.  They want to send robots into space and bring back the loot.  So things haven’t really changed much in the last five hundred years.  The Spanish headed out after spices in some rickety boats.  The geek squad is chasing platinum, nickel and cobalt. 

But they are not going themselves.  R2-D2 is going to do the dangerous, dirty work for them.  Which makes a lot of sense. The king of Spain was waiting for Magellan to bring him the goods. Someone needs to mind the store.  Hopefully, the robot won’t get sidetracked and end up dead on the dark side of the moon.  

Our buddy wandered too far from his charger and ended up with a dead battery.  

Estimated cost of a new one (plus shipping) 5 Billion dollars. But that’s not going to discourage anybody.  There’s 20 trillion dollars worth of platinum on just one little asteroid.  Unfortunately, by the time they successfully launch the droid into space and land him on the mile-wide Near-Earth Asteroid, known as 1986 DA, it will cost 1000 dollars just to go to the grocery store for some bread. 

But that’s why platinum is such a good investment!  It will be worth so much more! Hopefully all of this will bring about a great deal of economic activities and. . . jobs!  We could use some of that.  Quite a few space enthusiasts were put out of work down in Florida when the Space Shuttle Program was cancelled. 

Look at all the jobs Magellan helped to create as he opened up trade routes around the globe!  He really started something even if he didn’t live to finish it.  Yes, I would say he was the progenitor of trillions of dollars worth of trade in the centuries that followed.

Of course, the people he displaced were not so happy with all of that.  And they made it a point to tell him!  Ouch! 

I can see him in a peaceful moment, before all the chaos started, standing on a beach in the evening looking up at the stars.  He had no idea how big the Pacific Ocean really was until he had sailed on it for weeks and months. He must have been awestruck by the beauty and size of the world.

And we are still looking up at those same stars.  But now we are sending probes to them and taking measurements.  Humankind has done some amazing things in the past five hundred years.  We have developed some amazing skills.  But we still can’t get beyond those altercations that result in so much needless death and destruction.  

We are still a lot like Ferdy in the end.