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Friday, December 30, 2011

Diving ducks in the park

As far as waterfowl, the pond has Canada Geese pretty much year round and Mallards often. It always gets our interest when we have a lone visitor of another species. Over the past month, one such visitor we have tentatively identified as a Lesser Scaup. We have watched her many times but have been disappointed with our photo attempts. This is the best of the group:

Today, I spotted another diving duck, and this appears to be a Ring-necked Duck, a type which has visited the pond before in late winter and spring.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Outdoors Art in Middleburg, Virginia

The image above is from a painting that is part of an exhibit titled "Afield in America: 400 Years of Animal and Sporting Art" at the National Sporting Library and Museum which we visited yesterday. Hunters, fishermen, horses, and dogs are the dominant subjects.

Pam views one of the paintings:

Being old, I needed reading glasses for much of the text:

Of course, I spent most of the time with the fishing paintings.

This Winslow Homer, "A Boy Fishing", is one of my favorites.

A close-up of a fly fisherman from one of the other paintings:

This is the angling section of the library. I have many of these books.

Pam settles down with a British magazine on fox hunting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This year's Christmas Tree

It may be my favorite thing about the holiday.

I like the whole process- picking it out, setting it up, putting the lights on first, then the ribbons, then everything else.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer."

Continuing to ponder about the course I recently finished, I realized that of the three components of the title I had been concentrating most on power and ritual and decided to review my lecture notes with a concentration on the third element, society.

The baseline for the course had been established by Aristotle who said that man is a political animal and that only a beast or a god would live outside the polis or political society. Hundreds of years later the Roman thinker Seneca disagreed, but most important writers on this subject such as St. Thomas Aquinas followed Aristotle for the next millennium. In the late middle ages and early modern period, the political society was seen as an organism likened to the human body with the king as head, the military the arms, and the peasants the feet. Finally, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century wrote that humans were born both solitary and free, and the theory of individualism appeared for the first time in Western political thought.

Shortly after Rousseau's theories were written, the United States was created, and I wondered if Americans embraced the concept of individualism more than other peoples. The phrase "rugged American individualism" may have been first uttered by Herbert Hoover, but the concept had been around for a long time. This wondering brought to mind the quote that serves as the title for this entry, a quote which I have read many times but have forgot its origins. When I looked it up I felt I had come full circle back to the college course because the sentence comes from D.H. Lawrence although not from the novel that was one of the course requirements.

I'll now have to think whether we Americans are as individuals unusually isolated and if so what effect this alienation from each other has on our politics.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Power, Ritual, and Society

That was the name of the course I just finished at the University of Maryland. The course followed the topic of political power and ritual through both theory and historical events in a generally chronological sequence beginning with Aristotle. Although classified both as a history and a religious studies course, none of the six required books were written by historians or theologians, and two were fiction, a play by Spanish author Lope de Vega, and a novel by D.H. Lawrence. In addition, there were about a dozen articles and book excerpts, some from historians and one from a theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Lectures and discussion groups examined such topics as whether human nature was essentially good and rational (Aristotle, St. Thomas, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought yes while St. Augustine and Machiavelli thought no), whether humans are social and political by nature (Aristotle said yes, and Rousseau said no), whether economics was the driving force of history (as Karl Marx believed), and whether public ritual and ceremony, which had been so crucial to political power in the middle ages and early modern period in Europe, were still important in a modern industrial society with its emphasis on science and rationality.

The final readings were from the 20th century's Michel Foucault, and the lectures elaborated on his studies of the history of punishment, the change from public physical brutality as "a spectacular and discontinuous intervention of power" to the modern state's invisible, discrete surveillance as "an automatic functioning of power." An original and controversial thinker, Foucault presented Jeremy Bentham's 19th century design for a modern prison, the panopticon, which Foucault came to regard as a metaphor for modern society.

I'll have to think some more about these subjects.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Late season bream

The days following Thanksgiving have been mild, so I thought I'd walk over to the pond to see what I could catch. Got about a half dozen bream on both wets and drys.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brookside Gardens

Nice place for a walk on a nice day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Most of the leaves have fallen...

But I'm a sucker for autumn foliage, and the path down to Paint Branch Creek still has some maples showing their stuff.

Odd patriotic display well off the beaten path in the woods.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blue Heron visits the pond

I see them often when fishing the Potomac, the Patuxent, the Patapsco and any sizable stream around here but not so often at the pond.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Visit from Margo and other pictures

Yesterday Pam and I met old friend Margo who came in to DC with her boyfriend, Carroll who had work related meetings. While we waited for him, I took this picture of Pam and Margo in front of the Capitol. The four of us then had a nice dinner in DC's Chinatown.

Today, I took a few shots just outside the backdoor. (doo doo doo, looking out my backdoor, as John Fogerty sang)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Moo Cup

L to R: Me, Lou, Pat, Capt. Mike, Ski, Tom, Tip. Thanks to Tip and his self-timer.

Our annual Potomac fishing tournament. Acclaimed winner was Tom.

I shared Pat's boat.

We got some good ones too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Connie Chung hugged me tonight the Symposium on Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland.

I've attended these before but this was the best. Connie was there because husband Maury Povich was the panel moderator, and the annual event is named for his father who was a sports writer for The Washington Post for many years. Tonight's topic was race and sports, and the panel featured Michael Wilbon, Bobby Mitchell, Darryl Hill (first Maryland African American football player), Scott Van Pelt of ESPN, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Afterward, I walked over to Connie and told her she could still be our Homecoming Queen. She looked at me and asked if I was there then (1969 she was the Homecoming Queen at Maryland). I said yes and she gave me the big hug. Maury came over and I told him I was flirting with his wife. He answered "Of course" which was a pretty good response I thought.

Oh, yeah. She also said that if she didn't color her hair it would look about like mine. I told her she would still be lovely.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Every day you're alive is a good day...

I try to keep that in mind and especially right now after attending my cousin's memorial service Saturday in New York City. Like his father, who was my favorite uncle, cousin Stuart died at 58.

I always knew Stuart was very smart and a very nice guy, but even knowing that it really impressed me hearing the steady stream of New York City attorneys who spoke not just of his brilliance as a lawyer but how he was admired for his kindness, warmth, and honesty.

The crowd was huge and the service long although quite moving, and afterward there was a gathering at the Park Avenue apartment of one of Stuart's brothers in law. That apartment (for sale at 16 million) was a peek into the world of the 1% we've been hearing so much about lately. In the dining room, the owner showed me where my cousin would place the pies he baked for Thanksgiving Dinner every year. Stuart excelled at everything that grabbed his interest: as a musician, historian, gardener, and a baker and probably other things as well.

Later my daughter Becca led my wife and I through the wind, the cold, and the snow to her Brooklyn apartment to spend the night. With many of the subway trains not running because of power failures, the trip was complicated and difficult after a long day. At the apartment she and her fiancee, Sean, had Indian food for us, and it was a huge relief to be warm and dry. The next morning the sky was blue and sunny when my daughter showed us her neighborhood as we went out for bagels.

After leaving my daughter, my wife Pam and I traveled back to Maryland under the sunny October sky, and I thought of cousin Stuart's widow and two children and of how lucky I was.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Patapsco below the bridge

Trout fishing continues to be good, and weather is excellent. On a short trip today went downstream and caught another lively rainbow trout and two bream, all on a black marabou bead head streamer. Water lever 1.9 at Hollofield.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rainy week fishing and a walk

October is a good month for fishing and appreciating the changes that autumn brings.

In between rains, I made two trips to the Patapsco this week and totaled three nice rainbow trout, two smallmouth bass, and a couple of dozen bream. Water levels were 1.74 Monday at Hollofield and 2.24 today which I thought was a little high to go out, so I stayed near home and walked in the park.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Short, fat, bald politicians

Not many of them are there? At least, at the national level.

I've been thinking about this because there's been a lot of discussion about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's weight and whether America would elect a fat guy as president. We generally don't, but we also don't elect bald guys and short guys either.

During my lifetime, only Bill Clinton leaned towards being hefty among presidents, but I don't think many considered him fat. Eisenhower was the only elected bald president, and he twice defeated another bald guy, Adlai Stevenson. Yeah, Jerry Ford was bald, but was never elected to the office. Short guys don't get much of a chance either as the shortest one in my memory was Jimmy Carter who actually was about the US average in height. He looked short and slight next to Reagan, however.

None of these characteristics have anything to do with intelligence and judgment, and I'm sure there are short, fat, bald men (and short, fat women) who would make fine presidents, but they may never get a chance to prove it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Patuxent between the reservoirs

Quick trip. Caught just fallfish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September colors are underrated

Yes, as fall progresses and the leaves change, the colors are flashier. But I've come to appreciate the early autumn with the wildflowers still in bloom.

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard seem to enjoy the season too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Late summer days at Bethany Beach

While Pam read, I just laid down and looked up at the sky.

And took pictures of gulls who would stop and pose.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Carl Oglesby

There was an excellent obituary in The Washington Post of Oglesby who died Tuesday at 76.

In the 1960's there were two political activists who I admired most and, co-incidentally, they shared the same first name: Carl Oglesby and Karl Hess. I was fortunate to have heard both speak at separate occasions 1969 or 1970.

When Oglesby became leader of Students for a Democratic Society in the early 60's, the group's focus was on civil rights, the elimination of poverty, and a re-direction of American foreign policy. My first reading of Oglesby was a rousing speech he gave to a Vietnam War demonstration in 1965. Although I lived only a few miles from the demonstration in Washington, DC, I was only vaguely aware of it and would have had no interest in attending. It would have probably have been about three years later when I would I read that speech in a collection The New Left Reader. I later bought his book on foreign policy, Containment and Change.

The picture is still clear in my memory of Oglesby making a speech at the University of Maryland to a crowd of students in front of the Student Union Building. He wore glasses and was tall and lanky, and as he spoke he would sweep back his longish hair as it fell over his forehead. His voice was crisp and his tone passionate as he urged the crowd to activism against the Vietnam War. It was not just rhetoric, however, and whether speaking or writing he would build his arguments systematically with facts that invariably later proved accurate when I checked them.

When the violent Weatherman faction of the SDS took over the organization, they ousted Oglesby and dismissed him as "a hopelessly bourgeois liberal." To radical leftists the word "liberal" was just as much of in insult as it was to later become to TV and radio conservative commentators. Oglesby responded that the Weathermen's politics were all "road rage and comic book Marxism."

Unlike the most of the student radicals, Oglesby came not from wealth and privilege but from a working class background in Akron, Ohio, from southern parents who migrated north to work in factories. I was unaware of his background until the obituary, but it made me wonder if his background made it easier for me to relate to as opposed to other radical leaders of the time who came from a different world than I did.

Karl Hess died in the 1990's. He was a speech writer for conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and wrote the infamous words "Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice...", words that helped opponents label Goldwater as too much a radical conservative to be president. I saw nothing wrong with those words then and still don't. A few years later Hess gravitated to the New Left and shared their opposition to the Vietnam War. He maintained that his political principles never changed as he moved from what was conventionally perceived as the political right to the left. Those principles helped form the basis of the Libertarian Party who look to Hess as an early inspiration. I saw him speak also at the University, at the mall in front of McKeldin Library. I remember his speaking manner as subdued, but he made his points firmly and eloquently.

After the 60's Hess moved from DC to West Virginia and made a living as a welder, bartering his services rather than being paid in cash because he refused to pay taxes that would primarily go to defense spending. Stories sometimes appeared about him in newspapers and magazines, so I was able to keep track of him generally until his death. Oglesby, by contrast, dropped from my sight but apparently earned a living from writing, teaching, and music.

These two men contributed to our world which is lessened by their absences. Their deaths make me feel closer to my own death.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Activities fair on campus

On the mall today at the University of Maryland where I'm back for another semester.

The theme is "First Look" because the purpose is to introduce

new students to the variety of campus organizations.

Catoctin mountain stream

Big Hunting Creek is such beautiful waters I was sorry I forgot my camera yesterday. I'm out of practice on trout fishing on moving waters and didn't do well. Also, I should start setting aside more time for these trips because I was just starting to get good drifts with my dry flies when it was time to start heading home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pond and reservoir notes

Made good use of nice late summer day. Fished the pond this morning and picked up a couple of bream quickly on our side. Walked over to the other and caught probably the biggest largemouth I've taken from the pond this year, 14 to 15 inches. He took the balsa wood surface slider deep, so it took a while to unhook him to put him back.

In the afternoon, Pam and I paddled around the reservoir. Seeing some rising fish, I rigged up the fly rod and cast a few times but no strikes. Saturday when I drove up the check on the canoe after the storms, I watched many rises in Scott's Cove. I think there's some hatch going on but don't know what. Both pictures taken at the reservoir.