They Journeyed Boldly

I’ve been sorting, going through a pile of magazines, my stack of stuff. One was a March 2014 copy of Smithsonian magazine. I came across an article on Vikings, which included the following poem.

They journeyed boldly;
Went far for gold,
Fed the eagle
Out in the east,
And died in the south
In Saracenland
— Gripsholm Rune-Stone (c. 1050)

I think it’s out if copyright now, so I’m reposting it here.


Long Live Stalin

Across a resurgent Russia, Stalin lives again, at least in the minds and hearts of some.”

That’s a sentence from a story in the Los Angeles Times. It’s a good, compelling read.

I had a teacher in college, who ironically or not was supposed to be teaching us about American government, yet proudly declared her love of Karl Marx during the first day of class. Her heroes, she said, were Charles Darwin, Karl Marx & Sigmund Freud. Three gentlemen whose influence on society I question.

Oh, Molly Doneka. Or Molly Donecka. However you spell her name. What a crazy lady.

A few weeks later, after I had challenged some of her claims in class a few times, she asked me to step out into the hallway, where she very forcefully asked me to drop her class. Of course, she wasn’t really asking me. It was a command. She was intimidating. She would have been a great Stalinist comrade in Mother Russia.


A Rainbow of Nuts

SD_RCJ-1_kindlephoto-5819461I’m not a fan of the Rainbow folks. They are odd, strange people who like smoking marijuana. In my experience they are often so self-absorbed that they run roughshod over others.

So, I sympathize with the residents of the Black Hills, including some Native Americans, who aren’t happy that the commune-with-nature freaks are about to descend upon them in a torrent of bad behavior masked in a false façade of kumbaya spirit. The other day I happened upon the front page of the Rapid City Journal and read the story.

I had a thankfully brief experience with some of the Rainbow gang, years ago. A group of them had congregated in Oregon. It was probably one of their “regional” get-togethers.

While I was camping with a church group at Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast, a large group of them banged drums and chanted into the wee hours of the morning. Meanwhile, I was trying to sleep. Their racket was driving me nuts.

I went so far as to walk into the middle of their gathering where I asked those who could or would pay attention to please quiet down. Many of them just laughed. My plea for peace and quiet was quite the hit. My presence was apparently very amusing to those assembled who were cognizant enough to recognize a stranger among them. I assumed they were in a drug-induced fog. It certainly looked like that way. Most, however, didn’t even acknowledge I was standing there. They were too wrapped up in themselves and their worlds to care.

After getting nowhere, I headed over to the camp host, who was staying in a big RV. I think I woke him from a soft slumber, which was understandable given the hour. His reaction was classic, after explaining that the damn hippies were making a lot of noise and keeping me up. It was the highlight of an otherwise dull evening.

“Oh, shit,” he said, with a look of real concern on his face.

He hurriedly walked down to the gathering. He may have even addressed the group. I hope he did. I don’t know because I left him to it and returned to my tent. He certainly looked like he was going to put an end to it. Sadly, however, there didn’t appear much he could do about it. No one listened.

Nor did anyone care. They were busy smoking their joints, hitting the drums, and communing with Mother Nature. I sure don’t understand why communing with nature and praying for a peaceful world can’t be quieter. The banging and commotion continued unabated for another hour or two. Finally, early into the morning, the noise started fading away. Even the smoke happy hippies were getting tired, thankfully. And I was able to get some shut eye.

I hope I never encounter them, or any of their like minded friends, again.


Adventures in the West Valley

Took a trip through the countryside yesterday, using Yamhill County Transit. I prefer it to the commuter busses on the other side of the river, operated by Salem-Keizer Transit and the city of Wilsonville. That route is often crowded and subject to traffic on the freeway. To get to Portland, one has to take the commuter train north from Wilsonville. It’s cheaper to take the shuttles operated by Yamhill.

The only problem is that it’s a long haul from the beginning of the line to the end. I started in West Salem, not far from my parents’ house, which made it very handy. Unfortunately, the shuttles leave every few hours so timing is important. Thankfully, I made my connection with no problems. In McMinnville, I transferred to another shuttle headed for Hillsboro and the Blue MAX light rail line.

I enjoyed gazing at the farmland, pastures with horses, a few bison, some cows, dilapidated barns, and the clouds casting shadows on the faraway hills topped with fir trees.. The scenery is serene.

There are many small towns along the way. I’ll have to stop and visit sometime in the future, though when I’ll be back to this part of Oregon, I really don’t know.

Among the highlights, places I liked just from looking out the window are Lincoln and the Lincoln Store — though there’s not much there, Carlton — a beautiful, little town, Cove Orchard, and Gaston. Forest Grove is closer to Portland, so I want to explore there, too.

I made my way onto the light rail in Hillsboro and dozed off here and there while riding into the heart of Portland. It was another long ride.

This morning I’m in Portland, at a friend’s place. After a good night’s sleep, I’m slowly waking up and getting ready to venture further north, to Kelso, where I am rendezvousing with my niece, nephews and sister and joining them on a trip to the Oregon Coast.


Father De Smet

You don’t hear Father Pierre-Jean De Smet in the news much these days.

I don’t know much about De Smet, another than the town in South Dakota that I think is named for him, where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived for a time and about which she wrote.

There’s a statue of him at Saint Louis University, a private Catholic institution, where it’s been for 60 years.

“Father De Smet, ‘Blackrobe,’ as he was known, was a 19th-century missionary to Indian tribes who converted thousands. A friend of Sitting Bull, he spent his last years in St. Louis.”

However, now Father De Smet is deemed “culturally sensitive.” He represents the evil, white man.

“The statue of De Smet depicts a history of colonialism, imperialism, racism and of Christian and white supremacy,” a thoroughly indoctrinated student explained.


Ƹ◔_◔Ʒ Math & Me ن

A fella on Twitter sent me a direct message today, which is unusual. I don’t get many people writing to me that way, usually they just send a tweet with my handle, @aaronjhill.

He was wondering about the symbols by my name, Ƹ◔_◔Ʒ ∂ªΓºƞ ن.

“What is the significance of those mathematical symbols on your profile and what do they mean as a group. I’m stumped.”

I’m still surprised he didn’t see a face there.

“It’s my face. Two ears. two eyes & my nose. The other symbol is what Islamic terrorists use to identify Christians in Syria & Iraq.”

Of course, it’s not really ‘my face,’ but a representation of it.

“Ah. I see math in everything. And now I see the ISIS character.”

Ah, math. I never really liked studying it, with a few exceptions, such as algebra and set theory. One of the best math classes I ever took was in college, MTH105. It was actually kinda fun at times.

— ∂ªΓºƞ

‘We Now Don’t Know Where People Get Their News’

“I’m a serious, legendary newsman, people.” — Bob Schieffer
“I’m a serious, legendary newsman, people.” — Bob Schieffer, the now retired former host of Face the Nation

Who’s job should it be to monitor where folks are getting their news, Mr. Schieffer?

And, actually, Bob, we do know. You’ve revealed just how ignorant and sheltered you are. Or is it plain, ol’ bias? There’s such a thing as ratings, of which you haven’t had recently, and something that tracks visits to news sites on the tubes known as the Web. Of course, decent viewership numbers of his program, Face the Nation, ended years ago.

When a political wonk such as myself loses interest with you and your show, then you’ve got serious problems, far beyond what you and the CBS News team realize.

What’s funny is his diagnosis: if people aren’t watching, then there must be a problem out there! It’s OUT THERE. It has nothing to do with me. There’s no reflection on me. There’s no internal dialogue, no internal review.

Perhaps Mr. Schieffer, people go to other, “unknown” sources because they don’t trust you. They don’t trust you to deliver the news unfiltered & unbiased.



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